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I’d just like to make a few corrections…

April 21, 2012

Corrections, that is, to common fallacies that many Christians make, over and over. The first one, and the one that kicked off my desire to write this post, is pretty deep-seated throughout most of evangelical Christendom. The mocking of the “Big Bang” theory. I’ve been seeing a picture shared around a lot on my Christian friends’ Facebook pages, and since I can’t refute it there I will do so here…

Atheism: The belief that there was nothing and then nothing magically exploded for no reason, creating everything and then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself for no reason whatsoever into self-replicating bits which then became dinosaurs . And they mock your beliefs.

The first mistake here is semantic: Atheism actually makes no claims about the beginning of the universe. Atheism is, as I have explained here before, simply the lack of a belief in a god or gods. Yes, most atheists believe that the universe started with some form of the Big Bang model, but that isn’t a requirement to be labeled an atheist.

Another thing that many Christians like to claim of atheism is that it is the belief that man evolved from monkeys. However, as with the beginnings of the universe, being an atheist does not automatically make you an evolutionist. To be sure, most atheists also believe the Theory of Evolution to be the best explanation for the diversity of species on earth.

Most, not all. Atheism is simply the assertion that there is no god. The only thing the idea of atheism itself actually insists on the beginnings of life, the universe, and everything is that a god had no part in it since no such thing exists.

All of this is besides the point that the explanation of the Big Bang in the above image is wrong. We don’t actually know what there was before the singularity that started this universe. What we do know is what happened moments after that event and what is happening now. From that evidence scientists have been able to extrapolate what happened within the first few moments of the existence of our universe. No one knows what happened before the singularity that started everything we see around us.

Contrary to what many Christians (the young-earth creationists) would have you believe, the Big Bang and Theory of Evolution are not the same thing. Evolution is the scientific theory that describes the way that genes change over time. It is used to explain the diversity of life on Earth. Evolution does not explain the origins of life, either.

Another common myth that many Christians like to spread is that evolution is “only” a theory and therefore should not be trusted. This is another linguistic misunderstanding. A scientific theory is an explanation of a set of observations that has been tested and found to be well-supported by evidence. (Iron Chariots Wiki: Theory) Evolution is a theory, it has also been proven to be a fact. Gravity and Relativity are also theories. I don’t see creationists going around saying that, “gravity is only a theory.”

I should point out that there are plenty of Christians who accept the Big Bang theory and the Theory of Evolution. As I’ve said, neither of them has anything to do with atheism (just the majority of atheists accept both as true, having been proven through evidence).

The final fallacy I’m going to address today is this: If we can’t explain it then, obviously, we must ascribe it to some supernatural power (aka god). This is the thinking that led Bill O’Reilly to make his infamous “tide comes in, tide goes out” statement (regardless of the fact that the tides can, indeed, be explained). To acknowledge that we can’t explain something (such as what existed before the Big Bang) doesn’t mean that we must, therefor, ascribe it to a supernatural creator. It simply means that we don’t have enough evidence to explain it.

People once couldn’t explain lightning and thunder. They made up a story (not a theory, by the way, but more akin to a hypothesis) to explain these things: a supernatural being was causing it with his hammer. We have since abandoned that hypothesis in light of better evidence and now understand that lightning is caused by atmospheric static electricity and thunder is a sonic shock wave caused by the super-heating of air by the lightning. No supernatural beings wielding hammers needed.

The last big of incorrect information in the above image is that atheists believe that stuff “magically” happened to cause the beginnings of life. It is the theists who believe in magical things happening for no reason. Rationalists (a better description of people who accept the Big Bang, evolution, and atheism) don’t believe in magic.

Why do I care? Because the disinformation being spread by the majority of evangelical Christians, the conservatives, the creationists, is false. They twist the truth and encourage myth. They spread lies like the image above and discourage studying truth. They love spreading phrases like, “Evolution isonly a theory!” I’m opposed to this for the same reason I’m opposed to people spreading messages that Facebook will start charging unless we all repost the status, or that Microsoft will track an e-mail and donate some amount of money for each person who forwards it, or that if you don’t forward this message then terrible things will happen to you.

IT IS NOT TRUTH. That is why I care. It hurts the advancement of science and human understanding. It often hurts the spread of true information regarding health (vaccinations, birth control, sexual health, nutrition), ecology, climate, and human rights. It hurts the education of children when creationists insist that creationism and “intelligent design” be taught along-side, or instead of, evolution and cosmology.

More information:

Big Bang: How Did the Universe Begin?

Iron Chariots Wiki: Big Bang

Iron Chariots Wiki: Evolution

Iron Chariots Wiki: God of the Gaps

9 Comments leave one →
  1. April 21, 2012 1:38 pm

    Plus, of course, their alternative requres the pre-existence of a fully sentient being. Which is orders of magnitude harder to explain than the coming into being of a few basic particles and forces.

    • April 21, 2012 2:38 pm

      That is simple: He is god and has always existed because he is god. Circular reasoning? What? :)

      • April 21, 2012 2:42 pm

        And we know he’s God because it says so in this book, and the book must be right because it was written by God…

        Please queue to the left for motion-sickness pills.

      • April 21, 2012 2:54 pm

        Now you’re getting it!

  2. April 21, 2012 8:51 pm

    There was no singularity at the beginning of the universe so far as we know. If I understand it correctly, a singularity is a point with no area, no height, width, nor breadth. It’s been three decades since Hawking rethought the original singularity hypothesis and he included a brief bit of it in, “A Brief History of Time,” in 1988.
    From Wiki:
    “Hawking’s singularity theorem is for the whole universe, and works backwards-in-time: in Hawking’s original formulation, it guaranteed that the Big Bang has infinite density. Hawking later revised his position in A Brief History of Time (1988) where he stated “There was in fact no singularity at the beginning of the universe” (p50). This revision followed from quantum mechanics, in which general relativity must break down at times less than the Planck time. Hence general relativity cannot be used to show a singularity.”

  3. April 21, 2012 9:17 pm

    I’d like to add that I wince every time I hear Dinesh D’Sousa or William Lane Craig proudly proclaiming the singularity at the Big Bang. Here’s more:

  4. July 5, 2012 11:38 pm

    Hello SA, I am a christian and appreciate that you invite responses. I have read a bit of your story and must say I feel for you. It is never nice to feel like you have to put on an act, and I hope you can resolve the matter soon.

    I only have one comment. I wonder how much your loss of faith is based squarely on the type of church you have attended? I know you recognise that there are other christian approaches to evolution, the big bang, etc, but I wonder how much you have investigated them. In my limited experience, many people lose their faith in what they have been taught (inerrant Bible, young earth creationism, lots of petty rules, etc) and go straight from their to losing their faith in Jesus.

    But there are good historical reasons to believe in Jesus and good philosophical reasons to believe in God, which don’t require belief in inerrancy, etc – just as, of course, there are arguments against belief. But I believe the arguments for belief are stronger.

    I don’t usually go looking for readers, but if you are interested, you might like to visit Why believe?, which gives a summary and links to further reading on the evidence of God and Jesus, from a person who accepts the science of the big bang and evolution and is not committed to Biblical inerrancy, but rather bases his belief on the historical evidence.

    Best wishes.

  5. Sean permalink
    January 31, 2014 8:46 am

    When I was a Judaeo-Christian, I accepted both Big Bang Theory… it is that, it’s not really empirically proveable, and I also find the theory of evolution makes sound sense in order to explain the diversity of organisms, however I believe in a God, but not a foreskin munching sky fairy. The God that makes sense to me, is something that’s bigger than I am, is responsible for stuff I have no power over, and even stuff that Richard Dawkins has no power over, and that when I shrink my ego and pass stuff that I have no power over up to “somewhere else”, does stuff that I can do. It’s not a person, doesn’t have a gender, as I don’t understand how it works, but it makes more sense than the bunch of nothing

    • February 7, 2014 11:22 am

      No true scientist or rational thinker accepts the “big bang” as 100% true and proven. It is the best possible explanation we can come up with given the evidence we currently have . It is highly likely that we will never be more certain in the origins of our universe. What do you have as evidence for the god you believe in? It seems, from what you have said, that you are basing it only on what you feel to be true–a poor substitute for evidence, especially for a being so great you are supposed to worship it.

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