Speciesism and Animal Liberation

Ingrid Newark of PETA

Ingrid Newark of PETA

Speciesism is a term used by so-called animal rights activists to belittle the belief a hierarchy exists within the animal kingdom, and that human beings are a superior form of life lording over the food chain.

The extremists have decreed speciesism to be just as bad as racism or sexism. By their definition, I am a speciesist.

To the average animal rights activist, a human being is just another animal — nothing special.

As People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) founder Ingrid Newkirk famously said, “When it comes to having a central nervous system and the ability to feel pain, hunger and thirst, a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.”

Therein lies my problem with PETA — members of that organization obviously fail to recognize that the lives of some creatures are clearly more valuable than others.

And on that critical point, I strongly beg to differ. Of course, Newkirk is right about one thing — animals can feel pain. So what?

Animals can get hungry, and thirsty, just like a human being. Yet when a human suffers a mortal or life-threatening wound, they often go into shock, which ultimately causes them to experience less pain. By the same token, why can’t we assume the same thing happens with other animals, that they might also go into shock when death becomes imminent?

The animal liberation movement began with noble intentions — opposing the barbaric practice of using of kittens and puppies for laboratory testing or medical experiments.

But a rat is vermin. A pig might be served for dinner. And a dog is man’s best friend, as this story suggests: a heroic German Shepherd dog was bitten three times while saving the life of a seven-year-old little girl from a rattlesnake, instinctively jumping between the snake and the child to protect his human companion from harm.

A “pet” snake would surely not do likewise. Reptiles are not known for displays of altruistic behavior. Yet applying the rationale of PETA’s Newkirk to this story, the life of the rattlesnake is no less valuable than the life of the dog, or even the life of the little girl.

According to Newkirk (and PETA) the snake has an equal “right” to life. Here’s my take on the situation– the snake has every right to live until it poses a direct threat either to me or my family.

Human lives matter more.

A copperhead or rattlesnake deep in the woods won’t bother me, so I won’t bother it. But a dangerous snake slithering around in my own backyard is a completely different story, and it will soon be a dead snake. Should the snake bite my German Shepherd, I would even take great satisfaction from killing it, and I would surely use excessive force to be certain the snake was dead.

This is just common sense.

The word ethics simply means defining, and then defending a concept of right versus wrong behavior. In philosophy, the study of ethics leads to a determination of morality, of right versus wrong and good versus evil. ethics

According to these animal rights extremists, people should not kill and eat other animals, or see them as any less important than a human being. It is even considered immoral to eat steak, or a chicken leg.

The term speciesism was coined by British psychologist Richard Ryder in 1970. To explain the application of the word he wrote,

“Since Darwin, scientists have agreed that there is no ‘magical’ essential difference between humans and other animals, biologically-speaking. Why then do we make an almost total distinction morally? If all organisms are on one physical continuum, then we should also be on the same moral continuum.”

In essence, Darwinism takes the Creator away from His creation. Naturally, the fatal flaw in the logic of this line of reasoning is that life cannot evolve until it exists. Before evolution could ever become possible, creation has already occurred.

Peter Singer

Peter Singer

Philosopher and Ethics Professor Peter Singer wrote the seminal book for the “animal rights” movement published in 1975, titled Animal Liberation. In his book, Singer popularized the term “speciesism” as a subtle form of criticism of the traditional Judeo-Christian worldview that granted human beings dominion over the animal kingdom.

The term implies a prejudice against animals exists within humans that’s not really any different from prejudices such as racism or sexism — essentially, it is an atheistic argument that challenges and even directly contradicts the theology of the Bible and traditional Christianity, which asserts that God created both animals and man.

Singer argues that human beings have no business raising animals for food or using them to otherwise improve the human condition, under the pretext that animals should have rights equal to a human.

It is perfectly okay with me, if some activist nutcase wants to label me a speciesist. Guilty as charged.

I even have a confession to make: animal flesh is delicious. Human beings were designed to be omnivores. We need meat in our diets as a primary source of protein. Contrary to popular belief, vegetarians are not necessarily healthier than meat eaters.  There’s nothing wrong with eating a (cooked) dead animal.

Humans are supposed to be good stewards of the earth and to manage our natural resources. We’ve also come to realize that carnivores are actually very good for the environment because they control the population of grazing animals, learned from observations of the reintroduced wolves in Yellowstone National Park.

southernprose_cover_AANOAnyone who questions my credentials as an animal lover should read the book shown on the right, because I wrote it.

Always a Next One is a collection of short stories about animal rescue, and probably the best evidence that I could offer as proof of my love and devotion to our four-legged companions.

If you haven’t read  my book, please buy a copy from Amazon. You can find it online either by clicking here, or on the book cover itself.

Then after you’ve had a chance to read it, please consider leaving a short review online, that might help other readers discover a new book they might like. Your opinion matters more than mine, when judging the quality of my work. Okay, that’s more than enough shameless self-promotion. Let’s get back on point, shall we?

Under no circumstances should one of these ridiculous animal liberation activists attempt a stunt like this with me, to antagonize or berate me because I like to eat both eggs and chickens. Such a confrontation definitely would not end well for the drama queen…

I would begin by politely noting that in Genesis 1:28, it says that the Creator of all living things gave Adam and Eve authority over every other creature:

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.

Furthermore, it’s rather clear that if we believe that God exists, we should consider human life as special, and that it’s perfectly okay to be a speciesist. And if there’s any doubt about whether or not we should use animals for food, the answer can be found in the book of Acts, Chapter 10:

He (Peter) saw heaven open and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12It contained all kinds of four-footed animals and reptiles of the earth, as well as birds of the air. Then a voice spoke to him: “Get up, Peter. Kill, and eat!”

Naturally my atheist friends (many of whom are animal liberation advocates) would have a conniption fit and say something like, “But that’s in the Bible, which is a work of fiction” or something similar, because atheists often mistakenly believe that science has somehow proved that the Bible is a myth.

Clearly, the alternative to being a speciesist is lunacy, if the criteria of PETA is applied to every living organism. The “animal rights” people aren’t going nearly far enough, if that’s the path they choose. If this nonsense were true, humans ought to be reduced to trying to survive only on dirt and sunlight, like any other plant would.

What about plant liberation? Why should we discriminate against plants, showing favoritism to animals?

Plants are living organisms, too. And if atheism is true and Darwinism is true, then abiogenesis must have occurred without divine intervention. That would mean life was created from inanimate matter by chemical reactions.

According to the calculations of Nobel Prize-winning chemists, at the most abiogenesis could have only happened once without some sort of divine intervention, due of the sheer improbability of such a remarkable phenomenon.

Every living organism on earth would be here only as a result of and related according to sexual reproduction, given sufficient isolation of a small breeding population for an organism, as well as copious amounts of time. If abiogenesis occurred without creation, it would mean that even by eating a vegetarian or vegan diet, we would allegedly be consuming our distant cousins. How can eating a green and leafy cousin be that any more moral than eating a furry or feathered cousin instead?

Don’t be ridiculous, the animal liberation advocate will instinctively say…plants don’t feel pain. Plants don’t have a central nervous system.

Okay, fair enough — but how can we be sure? How do we know this?

It’s important to note that scientists have known for a while and it has been proved that plants have learned how to produce extra tannins as a defense mechanism against overgrazing by animals that could potentially kill the plant. As a result, we can believe that at least some plants have a natural instinct for self-preservation and their own survival.

In other words, plants exist in this world which are smarter than some people I know.

The vapid nature of atheism

southernprose_cover_CAFGThere is a common misconception that most if not all scientists are atheists, and that the vast majority of atheists are brilliant thinkers.

True, there are some very smart people who call themselves atheists.

But most of these people remain willfully ignorant of any potential information that might upset their apple-cart of a worldview.

For some people, it is enough for them to simply say they don’t believe in any sort of a God. Others, namely antitheists, actually hate the concept of supernatural intelligence so much that they campaign to eradicate the idea among the general public.

Some of these antitheists constantly lurk on the internet, hoping to evangelize their lack of faith and lead some of the sheeple astray.

I cannot tell you how many times one of these antitheists have threatened to “educate” me on the alleged scientific evidence, only to demonstrate in subsequent conversation that they know even less about the science involved than me.

Most recently, one of these intrepid atheists at a Facebook forum called The Battlefield directed me to read Victor Stenger’s paper titled “A Scenario for a Natural Origin of Our Universe,” presumably to convince me that our universe did not have a supernatural origin.

Before going any further, it should be clearly stipulated that I don’t know nearly as much about physics as Dr. Stenger.

However, after reading a bit of his work, I’m fairly well convinced Dr. Stenger doesn’t really know much more about the origin of our universe than I do.

His “natural origins” paper, found in the Cornell University library, begins:

It is commonly believed that the universe could not have come about naturally. Although many authors writing at the popular and academic levels have described various scenarios for a natural origin, usually based on a vague notion of “quantum fluctuations,” even though they admit their idea is speculative and surrender to the prevailing wisdom that the origin of our universe remains unexplained.

Dr. Stenger began by conceding that the default position should be to assume the origin of the universe was a supernatural event. We were off to an excellent start, to say the least.

The paper was only nine pages long, and three of those were dedicated to footnotes. I won’t pretend that I understood the mathematical formulas and special symbols that Dr. Stenger suggested would show us how to get a universe like ours without God, but I am quite sure he failed to adequately describe the origin of this universe on those pages.

The problems in Dr. Stenger’s logic were painfully obvious, even to a person lacking a PhD in physics.

However, we should acknowledge the positives about Dr. Stenger’s paper before we mention any of the negatives. He attempts to address inflation in his model of the Big Bang rather than ignoring it, for example. Furthermore, after bravely admitting no unifying theory of quantum mechanics and general relativity exists, Dr. Stenger nevertheless tries to apply this non-existent combination theory in his attempt to create a model of the Big Bang that eliminates any need for a God.

If given the opportunity, one might reasonably ask Dr. Stenger: was the purpose of this work a legitimate and scholarly pursuit, or nothing more than a thinly veiled excuse by yet another antitheist to attack religious beliefs under the guise of a genuine effort to perform good science?

Dr. Stenger also wrote in his paper:

We have no direct observations of the event we identify as the origin of our universe, “our universe” being the one we live in but with the far greater portion that arose from the same source now out of sight beyond our horizon. This has led some to insist that, as a consequence, science can say nothing about the origin. Here they parrot the familiar creationist argument that because we didn’t observe humans evolving we can’t say anything about human evolution.

The highlighted statement exposes the blatant bias of Dr. Stenger against religious beliefs and the idea of supernatural creation as the purpose for the paper — proving that the foundation of his entire argument was built upon quicksand.

The mention of inflation in his “natural origin” paper was commendable, but what about fine-tuning, and the anthropic nature of this universe?

Alas, he seemed to have ignored it completely in his “natural origins” paper when attempting to prove the universe could exist without supernatural help.

But on a happy note, to ascertain why that particular paper failed to even mention the alleged fine-tuning of our universe that created the perfect building blocks for life, I was inspired to perform some additional research on Dr. Stenger’s work to help explain the omission.

After a search of the internet, I discovered this paper about fine tuning also written by Dr. Stenger. In this second paper, he significantly downplays the idea of a fine-tuned universe by describing the six cosmological factors identified by Sir Martin Rees as merely anthropic coincidences.

Is Dr. Stenger’s real objective to better understand and hopefully explain the origin of our universe — one of the greatest mysteries of all time — or simply an excuse to sweep all for evidence of God under the rug? He wrote in his “natural origins” paper,

No claim will be made that the model I will describe is actually how our universe came about. The model contains no proof of uniqueness. The purpose of this essay is simply to show explicitly that at least one scenario exists for a perfectly natural, non-miraculous origin of our universe based on our best scientific knowledge. In other words, science has at least one viable explanation for the wholly natural origin of our universe, thus refuting any claim that a supernatural creation was required.

Question: if the mathematical model in question does not describe how our specific universe came to exist, then what good is the model?

Does it merely predict a hypothetical universe that wouldn’t collapse immediately after the Big Bang, or to describe the actual universe in which we live? And why did Dr. Stenger ignore the problem of fine-tuning?

Fellow physicist/atheist Chris Impey used a clever analogy to describe fine-tuning as follows:

Apart from hydrogen, everything else is just a trace element. Just how rare? Suppose a deck of cards represented randomly selected atoms in the universe. In one deck of cards, the aces would be helium atoms and the other forty-eight would be hydrogen atoms. You’d need thirty decks of cards before you’d expect to find one carbon atom. In the thirty decks of cards, there’d be a couple of oxygen atoms, too, but all the other cards would be hydrogen or helium. You’d need to search three hundred decks to find a single iron atom…How do we know what the universe is made of? Astronomers use remote sensing by spectroscopy to measure the composition of star stuff. Each element has a unique set of sharp spectral features that acts like a fingerprint, so by identifying that fingerprint in starlight, astronomers can measure contributions of different elements.

Dr. Impey seems to think the “fine-tuned” nature of our universe makes it a rather uniquely special place. He didn’t give God the credit in his book The Living Cosmos either, however.

Dr. Stenger conversely asserts that “[w]e cannot assume that life would have been impossible in our universe had the physical laws been any different.”

What does that even mean? What other sort of intelligent life does Dr. Stenger propose may exist in an untuned universe?

He means silicon-based life forms, of course…the stuff from which we manufacture computer chips.

Perhaps Dr. Stenger has taken The Terminator movies a little too seriously.

In his book The Big Bang: the Origin of the Universe, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Dr. Simon Singh wrote the following about the alleged fine-tuned nature of the universe in which we live:

Similarly, it seems to defy the odds that the six numbers that characterize the universe have very special values that allow life to flourish. So do we ignore this and count ourselves extremely lucky, or do we look for special meaning in our extraordinarily good fortune? According to the extreme version of the anthropic principle, the fine-tuning of the universe which has allowed for life to evolve is indicative of a tuner. In other words, the anthropic principle can be interpreted as evidence for the existence of a God. However, an alternative view is that our universe is part of a multiverse…there could be many other separate and isolated universes, each defined by its own set of six numbers.

As much as I loathe the word “consensus” in relation to science, Dr. Stenger seems to be in that relatively small minority of physicists who argue against the idea that the Big Bang created a universe perfectly suited for us, sometimes called a “Goldilocks” universe because it’s allegedly just right for life.

A significant problem in the paper was that Stenger presupposed the existence of a universe prior to ours, and it “tunneled through the unphysical region around t = 0 to become our universe.”

As atheists often like to ask the question: if God created the universe then who created God? Well, what created this parent universe from which ours emerged?

Grudgingly Dr. Stenger conceded about fine-tuning that “I do not dispute that life as we know it [emphasis original] would not exist if any one of the several of the constants of physics were slightly different. Additionally, I cannot prove that some other form of life is feasible with another set of constants.”

Question: why would Dr. Stenger assume these values of physics were actually constants, and not variables? He even went so far to write, “varying the constants that go into our familiar equations would give us many universes that do not look a bit like ours.”

So why make such an important assumption? To call something a constant in the world of mathematics is to assume it can have no other value but the one assigned.

In other words, Dr. Stenger assumes in his version of the laws of physics that the universe had no choice but spontaneously come into being from absolutely nothing.

About the alleged preexisting universe that supposedly created ours, Dr. Stenger wrote, “Nothing in our knowledge of physics and cosmology requires the non-existence of that universe, so it would be a violation of Occam’s razor to exclude it.”

To be crystal clear about this point, Dr. Stenger has asserted that our universe could come from another universe,  or from absolutely nothing — basically it could come from anywhere but God.

And actually, the anthropic universe problem is much worse than Dr. Stenger’s work suggests. In his paper on fine-tuning of the universe, Dr. Stenger acknowledged that fellow scientist Fred Hoyle once made a successful prediction using the anthropic principle about the excited state of the carbon 12 atom.

The irony was that even though Dr. Hoyle proved the anthropic principle applied to our universe, he rejected the Big Bang theory itself in favor of a steady state, eternal universe, because he also wanted to use science to defend his atheistic beliefs.

Hoyle even coined the term “the Big Bang” to mock the idea the universe had an origin to express his contempt for the idea. Hoyle said the Big Bang argument was pseudoscience, nothing but an excuse to introduce a creator into the creative processes responsible for this universe.

Because of his strong belief that a created universe would require a supernatural intellect to create it, Hoyle stubbornly refused to accept the evidence of the Big Bang as evidence.

Conversely, Dr. Stenger tried to minimize the issue of fine-tuning by declaring the universe deterministic, claiming that something appeared simply because it had no choice, according to the laws of physics.

But according to the chemistry necessary for the origin of life, the only reason we can assume that life is even possible is only because we can observe that life exists. Even if you magnanimously suggest the universe created itself, an equally unlikely event, the origin of life, is next to be considered.

A majority of the experts in physics and chemistry agree the origins of the universe and life were extraordinarily unlikely events. In fact, the only reason we can assume abiogenesis is even theoretically possible is the fact that we are part of the evidence.

The argument is not about creation versus evolution, free will versus determinism, or God versus science.

The events identified by “science” had to happen, or else we wouldn’t be here.

The only question to really ponder is why it happened — did a supernatural God orchestrate this universe, or might we exist only because of extraordinary good luck?

Fred Hoyle was brilliant, but his stubborn blindness to the copious evidence for God introduced problems that influenced his work and sort of made him a laughing stock among the other physicists of his day — not because he became a theist, but because he refused to consider the possibility of a deity even after being been left with no alternative because of the Big Bang. For various reasons, other men were awarded a Nobel Prize that Fred Hoyle earned and richly deserved.

Hoyle could have been mentioned in the same sentence with Newton, Einstein, and Swedenborg, if only his stubborn refusal to even consider the possible existence of a supernatural God hadn’t blinded him to his own errors in logic.

But because I’m not a close-minded freethinker, I read Dr. Stenger’s papers, hoping I might learn something new. I’m not afraid of new ideas that might challenge my preconceived idea that life cannot exist without God.

Unfortunately, the only thing I actually learned was how desperate atheists like Dr. Stenger and Fred Hoyle can become, and the lengths they will go through to protect their own worldview.

When I told my atheist acquaintance who recommended Dr. Stenger’s paper that I wanted a couple of days to research and think about things before I provided any feedback, he replied that he didn’t care to know my thoughts.

The goal of this exercise was always to indoctrinate me into his way of thinking. This person has assumed he can learn nothing from a conversation with me.

He merely wanted to shake my conviction that this universe will never be adequately explained by scientists such as Victor Stenger or Fred Hoyle, not as long as they insist on taking the creator out of this simple equation for creation:

Life = Big Bang + abiogenesis + speciation + natural selection

In the mind of this atheist acquaintance with constipated thoughts, Dr. Stenger has a PhD, which makes him the equivalent of a god.

He completely failed to recognize the fact that Dr. Stenger’s work simply reflects his presupposition of atheism, and is basically useless as a result.

It seems that atheists do not really make great scientists, if only because they are certain of too many things that aren’t really true.

Face Palm Sunday

FacepalmYesterday was Palm Sunday. The face palm moment came early.

Before church, I visited a place on Facebook called The Battlefield. The group consists of theists and atheists who are interested in (more or less) cordial debate.

I felt compelled to respond after one of my atheist friends asserted if Sir Isaac Newton were alive today, he would reject Young Earth Creationism and more than likely be an atheist, according to these statistics.

Several replies came to mind. Naturally, I responded with all of them.

First of all, such speculation is both silly and irrelevant. Newton has been dead almost 300 years. It’s impossible to say what he would be like today. And it seems rather foolish to assume modern science would be anywhere close to where it is today if Newton hadn’t lived and accomplished what he did, when he did. The issue of Young Earth Creationism is semantic, and especially for this argument. It can help divide Christians from each other, but does not separate theists from atheists, the more important point of contention in that forum.

Secondly, historically speaking, the polar opposite has been true in regard to the relationship between super-intellect and spiritual beliefs. Polymaths like Newton, da Vinci, and Emmanuel Swedenborg were if anything uber-religious people, and most certainly not atheists. Modern polymath Michael Guillen has three PhDs, and he’s a Christian. The appeal to modern authority falls flat because Newton was the authority of his time. If he were alive today, it would be reasonable to assume that Newton would still be an authority figure. More than likely, Newton wouldn’t follow the crowd. He would lead it.

And finally, to be fair to my atheist friend, I also mentioned that wasn’t the dumbest thing I’d heard when it came to “if so-and-so were alive today, he’d be an atheist…”

Richard Dawkins owned that dubious distinction, for having said that a person as intelligent as Jesus would not believe in God if he were alive today, raising the stakes beyond mere silly speculation to the truly ludicrous unfounded opinion.

It would seem much safer to assume that someone who claimed to be God would make that claim no matter when and where he lived. Jesus would never submit to human authority. If he wasn’t afraid of the cross, he certainly wouldn’t be afraid of one little guy like Richard Dawkins mocking him.

But Dawkins had a lot of curious things to say in this interview, for example:

A lot of people think we need religion in order to be moral. There are a lot of people who think that if you took religion away, people would start rushing around smashing shop windows and robbing and raping, things like that. No evidence of that whatever. I mean, absolutely none. So I think one important thing we’ve got to do is prise apart religion and morality. It’s absolute nonsense to say you need religion in order to be moral.

No one that I know of has suggested that atheists are inherently amoral. However, without the objective morality that can only come from God, the issue of whether there is consistency in morality from one atheist to another becomes painfully obvious.

Personally speaking, I’ve never had to waste any time wondering whether or not things like infanticide or adultery were immoral.

Both clearly violate the Ten Commandments, found in my primary source of objective morality, the Bible. But by the same token, Dawkins can’t say the same.

Dawkins can’t bring himself to say that infanticide is immoral. He even has the audacity to defend adultery, going as far as lambasting the humiliated wives being cheated upon for being jealous of their philandering spouses. I haven’t checked to see if his opinions on cuckolds are consistent.

And the problem isn’t just Dawkins. It’s troubling to know that his friend, atheist and physicist Lawrence Krauss, can’t bring himself to say that incest is always morally wrong.

In that same interview with The Guardian, Dawkins also made this very interesting comment:

Science is wonderful. Science is amazing. The fact that you could understand why you exist, who could not be turned on, who could not be excited by that? Who could ever want to live in a world where you live your life, you go to work, you go to the office, whatever it is, you go to the football match, and this goes on year after year…and then you die. And you don’t have any understanding of why you were there in the first place. That’s desiccated. That’s dry. What is not dry and desiccated, is coming into the world as it were awakening in the world, an awakening in the fullest sense of seeing the universe, seeing the stars, seeing down a microscope, seeing what’s inside every single cell, seeing what’s inside the brain and marveling at this wonderful gift of life, that we have, albeit temporarily, marveling at this gift of understanding why we exist, and rejoicing in it for as long as we do exist.

Now, anyone who has actually read The God Delusion should immediately recognize the glaring contradictions between what he wrote in his book, and the language Dawkins used in the interview. In the book, he made it very clear that as the product of natural selection, there is no real reason for our existence except “to have a good lunch” — and certainly there is no one to thank for “this wonderful gift of life.”

His bolded words above describe what atheism actually robs from a person, which is their sense of purpose. The atheist has no one to thank for the good things in life, except possibly their mother, for not having an abortion.

There’s nothing wrong with science. It’s the only method that we can effectively use to examine the potential evidence of a Creator.

However, if a creator God did not exist, our own existence would also have no rational meaning or purpose…which happens to be the exact opposite of what Mr. Dawkins said.

Science is not God. It can be respected, but not worshiped.

 

Can a Smart Person Believe in God?

guillen_michael[ Hat tip and many thanks to fellow Prince of Peace Lutheran Church member Jim Jimenez, for lending me his book.]

The title of theoretical physicist and author Michael Guillen’s book Can a Smart Person Believe in God? is actually a rhetorical question.

The author is obviously a very intelligent man as well as a professed Christian, who leaves nothing open to interpretation when he wrote: “I believe in the monotheistic God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob — the God of the Book. The One who created the universe.”

Furthermore, his credibility as author of this work is beyond dispute — Dr. Guillen holds a trio of PhD’s from Cornell University, in astronomy, mathematics, and physics, respectively.

Dr. Guillen also taught physics at Harvard University for eight years, and served as the ABC News science correspondent. In other words, his academic/scientist credentials are impeccable.

He explained his motives for writing it by saying:

In fact, the main reason for writing this book is not to rebut atheism (although, inevitably, I do that) but to discredit the arrogant manner in which its proponents often present and defend it — especially these days, when being cool often means coming across as sassy and self-reliant.

Probably the best word to describe Dr. Guillen (and his book) would be balanced. 

His professional experience as a teacher, his training as a scientist, and his ability to articulate useful information in a conversational, easy-to-understand style combine to create a book that is concise and very easy to read.

He elaborated further on his reasons for writing this particular book:

That’s why I’ve written this book: first, to contribute some civility to the overall debate, and second, to rebut the argument that those who believe in God are dumber than those who do not. I hear this unseemly and unfounded prejudice voiced a lot these days, mainly from secular humanists who see themselves as smart, free-thinking realists and believers in God as dim-witted, superstitious sheep.

In addition to the measure of Intelligence Quotient, or IQ, in which so many secular intellectuals take great pride, Guillen devised a test to determine one’s Spiritual Quotient, or SQ, “a measure of our ability to perceive the subtler, nonphysical aspects of reality, to solve problems and acquire conviction spiritually.”

This book was obviously his reaction to “arrogant atheism,” which he eloquently summarized with an anecdote about the audacity of a fellow Harvard physics professor to describe Nobel Prize-winning physicist Robert Millikan as a “low-brow” because of his personal religious beliefs.

The irony is delicious: a professor whose most notable accomplishment was becoming a professor at a prestigious Ivy-League school, while teaching his physics class about Millikan’s famous oil-drop experiment, insulted the memory of the man who discovered every atom has an invisible electric charge.

Dr. Guillen stressed the importance of developing what he terms our need “to see with both eyes,” what he calls stereoscopic sight. To communicate these ideas, he coined a few new terms that easily communicated some very important concepts.

For example, Intellectual Cyclops are your typical atheist, in other words, people who rely only on IQ to see the world.

At the other end of the spectrum are Spiritual Cyclops, people who consider their own intellect a stumbling block in seeking God, relying strictly on a literal interpretation of the Bible, and blind faith.

According to Guillen, the Ideal Person has stereoscopic faith, striking a perfect balance between intellect and spirituality.

At the polar opposite end of the spectrum are the “blind”, people who are neither intelligent or spiritual.

Dr. Guillen gives atheists an extremely gentle rebuke, suggesting the ideal person should substitute any potential hard feelings for atheists with compassion for these reasons…

Pity the brilliant attorney with an underdeveloped SQ, for example, whose beautiful young wife is killed in a car accident, leaving him alone to raise their infant son and agonize over the seeming cruelty and capriciousness of life. Pity the brilliant but low-SQ biologist who spends her whole life studying the human retina yet has nothing to credit for its spectacular design except the supposedly fortuitous machinations of a mindless, purposeless universe. And pity the brilliant but low-SQ doctor who has no one and nothing to thank in the face of a spontaneous cure that defies all medical explanation.

So, can a smart person believe in God?

Absolutely!

The dishonesty of atheism

southernprose_cover_CAFGThough I’m not a public figure by any stretch of the imagination, I’ve learned that it’s a good idea to occasionally search the internet for my name, to see if anything posted out there was directed specifically towards me.

It isn’t a question of vanity as much as not wanting to demonstrate bad manners by ignoring a serious attempt to communicate with me.

My most recent search turned up this article by author Dianna Narciso that was originally published over two years ago.

She had responded to something I wrote during my time spent as the Atlanta Creationism Examiner. For whatever reason, her article never appeared in the first few pages of search results before now.

Oh well. Better late than never, I guess…

Ms. Narciso asserted that she is not a close-minded freethinker. We’ll see.

I don’t get very far into her article before Ms. Narciso writes, “Mr. Leonard, I am very sorry to disappoint you. But you do, indeed, believe what you believe without rational thought.”

Really! That seems an incredibly presumptuous thing to say. What sources of information gave her such great insight? On what basis was her opinion formed?

Without reading my books, or more than one article I’ve written, how on earth can Ms. Narciso possibly know what I believe? More importantly, does she even have a clue as to why I believe what I believe?

Has she read Divine Evolution?

If Ms. Narciso is actually interested in learning the science necessary to present a coherent argument for her atheism, the end notes of my book Counterargument for God might prove quite helpful. My counterargument extensively quotes Nobel Prize winners and other acknowledged experts in their respective fields — I prefer using the exact words of professed atheists such as physicist Stephen Hawking and biologist Richard Dawkins to make my points.

Just out of curiosity, what exactly gives atheists the right to declare themselves the sole arbiters of rational thought? The dictionary defines the word rational to mean “based on or in accordance with reason or logic.”

Merely laying claim to hold the rational side of the argument won’t allow the atheist to keep it. The most logical argument will always win the debate.

But Ms. Narciso failed to articulate any sort of argument for atheism. She writes:

[W]e first have to understand what Leonard is really asking. It’s possible he’s asking about life on Earth. But that would be too easy. Life on earth is explained through the various evolutionary theories, heavily evidenced, and on display in any decent natural history museum or high school textbook. (Note the word decent is imparitve [sic] and probably means neither the museum nor the textbook can be found in Texas.)

Too easy?

My dear Ms. Narciso, first you need to understand the question before you try to answer it.

Before we can make any serious attempt to answer our existential questions, we must first get a glimpse of the Big Picture.

Whether or not Darwinian evolution could adequately explain the human species is actually an irrelevant question, for this one simple reason:

Life cannot evolve until it exists.

Now if Ms. Narciso would be kind enough to read a few of those books that she assumes will support her opinion,she would learn the true debate is not whether God or science/nature provides the best, most reasonable answer to our existential questions.

Our real choices are actually between some form of supernatural intelligence that I like to call “God” and serendipity, meaning a great deal of extraordinary but stupid good luck.

Before Ms. Narciso and I might have an intelligent debate about the Big Picture, it’s important that she knows a little bit about multiverse theory and quantum mechanics in the context of the First Cause argument in regard to the Big Bang, and that abiogenesis is only a hypothesis, not a theory.

The agnostic answer “nobody knows” most certainly will not win any arguments for atheism.

In fact, the mere suggestion implies that the atheist has more blind, unsubstantiated faith in her “science” than I have in my God.

However, I freely admit that the more I have learned about science, I have become a man of little faith, but great conviction in my beliefs.

I’m also fair-minded, willing to concede the validity of a point made by my debate opponent.

Ms. Narciso was absolutely correct to say that if atheism were true, life would have no meaning or purpose.

But she couldn’t have been more wrong to suggest, “Leonard would have me explain existence [of life] without God.”

Asking Ms. Narciso to explain life without God would be asking her to do the impossible, in other words something I’m pretty sure can’t be done — sort of like when an atheist insists that I provide unassailable proof that God exists, an absurd demand that runs completely counter-intuitive to faith.

My goal isn’t simply to win an argument. Asking an unanswerable question like that might win the debate, but it won’t inspire the adversary in debate to think.

And what sort of relationship could we possibly have with God, if every last doubt about His existence were eradicated by irrefutable proof?

Think about that question for a moment, please.

We would not have free will. We would have no choice but to worship God.

To her credit, in her essay that inspired my title for this article, Ms. Narciso wrote:

We must always remain open to new evidence that would enhance our knowledge.

That’s nice to know. But let’s cut right to the chase. Ms. Narciso absurdly suggests that she knows a motive for what I believe, writing:

People are uncomfortable with the idea that there may not be an ultimate, eternal purpose for their lives. They are extremely uncomfortable with the idea of death and non-existence. So, they create answers that make them feel better, help them get through life. They believe they won’t really die. They believe they are special and have a special purpose. That’s nice. It’s just not rational and has no evidence to back it up. [emphasis added]

Here’s yet another scientific field of study to learn about: corroborated veridical NDE perceptions, or brain-free consciousness.

If Ms. Narciso is sincere about enhancing her knowledge with new evidence, this is just one example of excellent scientific evidence.

In particular, she should take note of these words:

Medical records confirm this conversation, yet Pam could not have heard them.

Medical records are scientific evidence, and probably the most reliable and accurate evidence we might evaluate. Clearly defying logic, reason and natural law, Pam Reynolds nevertheless  accurately recalled specific details about her surgery that occurred while she was heavily sedated. Her normal abilities to see and hear what was happening around her were completely incapacitated at the time in question, while all the blood was being drained from her body.

We are left with only two choices: doctors, the witnesses and Pam must have conspired to concoct a fantastic story with no obvious motives for lying, or we might conclude they may be telling the truth about a real but obviously supernatural experience virtually impossible to explain.

The honest atheist will ask these questions: why would Pam Reynolds and Dr. Spetzler both lie?  Could the medical records have somehow been fabricated? If so, for what purpose? And finally, is the case of Pam Reynolds the only example with corroborating evidence?

Sadly, the dishonest atheist simply ignores this growing body of evidence for supernatural phenomena.

Perhaps ignorance really is bliss…

Arguing with atheists

southernprose_cover_CAFGMy friend Fred described a weak atheist as a person who simply doesn’t believe any sort of God exists, while a strong atheist wants to get in your face and tell you why you’re stupid for believing in an invisible man in the sky, or some such nonsense.

I liked those helpful definitions, and knowing the distinction.

You might believe that, having written a book titled Counterargument for God, I relish every opportunity I get to argue with every atheist who I might happen to encounter. But you would be wrong.

In fact, you couldn’t be more wrong, and always remember that there are gradations of wrong.

There’s simply no reason to argue with a weak atheist. He or she isn’t spoiling for a fight, and it would be rude to goad them into one by insulting them or calling them names.

I have no interest in flaunting my faith, and it most certainly isn’t my place to judge somebody else and tell them they’re going to Hell for not believing exactly as I do.

Isn’t that fun to hear!

For that reason among others, I’m still quite reluctant to invite strangers to church because I don’t want weak atheists to feel like I’m trying to shove my God down their throat.

In my opinion, it requires the mutual interest of two people to maintain a dialogue, and my interests are far from limited to theological discussions.

Now, if someone is interested in polite conversation about what I personally believe and why I wrote the book, I’m more than capable and happy to accommodate, if returning three times to the same radio show to be interviewed by the same atheist friend serves as any indication.

And if someone tells me they don’t believe in Hell, I’ll be delighted to explain why I do, using only two words: Matthew Botsford.

Please note that I didn’t simply take the information from a video.

I took the scientific approach to his story, meeting Matthew in person, interviewing him about his claims of visiting Hell, even holding the image of his skull, with the bullet still embedded in his brain, in my hand.

Matthew’s a guy whose story ought to be heard. But if you’re really that disinterested in learning about his personal experience and remarkable recovery, it’s your loss.

Rarely if ever do I inject God in the course of a “normal” conversation or while conducting my day-to-day business. If God does get mentioned, the other person almost certainly brought it up. I can talk about a lot of different things without getting bored — writing “Rocky Leonard” detective novels, tennis, golf, Braves baseball, University of Georgia football, politics, abrupt climate change, just to name a few topics that can get me started.

I don’t go to church every Sunday, so I can’t look down on others who aren’t there, either. My attitude, to a large degree, is that as long as its legal, what you do is your business, not mine.

Truthfully, I have very little interest in shoving my faith down the throat of somebody else, finding the idea almost as repugnant as super-aggressive atheism. If you don’t want to talk about God, fine. We can always talk about something else. I just gave you a short list of ideas.

I’m not a pastor or theologian. I’m pretty sure that my personal perception of what Christianity really means is unique to me, therefore not necessarily intended for mass consumption.

I only wrote Counterargument for God as a response to those allegedly free-thinking “strong” atheists out there who might be open to new ideas and a unique perspective.

Most of my counterargument relies on knowledge gained from the best experts in their respective fields of physics, chemistry, biology, paleontology, cosmology, and neuroscience using logic, reason, and a fundamental understanding of statistical analysis. Interesting stuff.

My counterargument for God is based on a simple, straightforward premise: if you don’t believe some form of supernatural intelligence is responsible for your existence, then you must accept that virtually impossible good luck is the reason you are here. There isn’t a third option.

Let me be crystal clear: I have NO desire to create a new religion or start my own cult. If you want to know details about my specific Christian beliefs, you’ll have to read the last section of the book.

The argument about the existence of God was basically over long before that point, logically won by the scientific arguments I put forward.

Why write Counterargument for God, if personally I’m so apathetic about evangelism?

The answer is quite simple. I got really tired of seeing and hearing about the nasty, confrontational tactics of strong atheists who make absurdly wrong claims, when I’m almost certain those arguments are egregiously wrong.

Now if I choose to believe in supernatural intelligence that I like to call God, it hurts no one. So my attitude is that you can believe what you want, as long as you respect the right of others to believe something else, and leave me alone.

But strong atheists, or antitheists, aren’t content to simply be atheists; they want to convert others to atheism. That from of “enlightenment” I truly don’t understand, especially when I’m sure they’re wrong.

Please don’t misunderstand; strong atheists  can be entertaining to engage in debate, in a controlled environment or print.

The problem is that the overwhelming majority of them aren’t nearly as smart as they think, mainly because they don’t know how to think for themselves.

Here’s a hint for those strong atheists out there spoiling for a fight: if Dawkins, Darwin, Harris, Hitchens, or Hawking said it, there’s a pretty good chance I’ve heard it before and developed a superior rebuttal to whatever argument you’ve chosen to parrot.

I don’t particularly care for arguing with strong atheists who lack original arguments, in the same manner I dislike arguing with idiots, or people trying to insult my intelligence.

The purpose of writing Counterargument was to establish a starting point for spirited, intelligent conversation, but unfortunately, I don’t get the best effort of atheists very often.

This is not to suggest that the average atheist in incapable of intelligent thought, but when the majority of them don’t seem to bring their “A” game when they come to pick a fight, apparently because they grossly underestimate my ability to provide serious competition.

Presumably they automatically assume that I’m stupid because I unashamedly admit that I believe in a supernatural God, and specifically refer to myself as Christian. What’s really hilarious is when one of these intellectual giants tells me that I’m a waste of his time after seeking me out for a confrontation.

Don’t get me wrong; I love to be underestimated by my opposition in debate. But it isn’t very much of a challenge to decimate the same old tired arguments, over and over.

The problem is that I haven’t had very many takers, even though I’ve offered practically anyone who might be willing to accept a free electronic copy of my book so we would have a common understanding of thought as a starting point.

With all due respect, I’ve already read the books of Russell, Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens that evangelized for atheism.

I know most of the best atheist arguments that have already been published. They were the inspiration for my counterargument for God.

I’ve also read Darwin, Gould, Impey, Hawking, and many other experts in their respective scientific fields, seeking information adequate to form answers to my own existential questions.

I may be completely wrong about any given topic of which I write, but you should rest assured that I am not stupid, illiterate, or delusional. Logic and reason are my two best friends.

Compounding the problem is the fact that I have a nasty tendency of responding to insults in kind. Respect is earned, not freely given. Traffic on that street runs both ways.

My harshest critics are often surprised to learn that I’m not particularly partial to the idea of turning the other cheek, preferring to remember “it is more blessed to give than to receive.”

On the other hand, there have been a few worthy opponents willing to step up to the plate.

For example, my Facebook friend and former president of American Atheists Dr. Ed Buckner and I met for an official debate back in February 2012.

Ed was both a worthy opponent and a pretty fun guy.

He kept me loose and on my toes beforehand, with harmless pranks such as sending a friend of his an email promising that I’d pay $10,000 to have our debate videotaped.

Naturally, I responded that I would honor that agreement and hoped the friend had no objections to currency issued by Milton Bradley.

Apparently one debate was enough for Ed. He has never asked for a rematch. I’m more of a writer than public speaker, so it’s never going to be my suggestion.

Perhaps Dr. Buckner felt that he won our first debate convincingly, or perhaps he was irritated that in the heat of the moment, he erroneously declared that Darwin never wrote the words “Monkeys make men.”

Then — after I explained that for the Darwinian theory of evolution to be truly correct and account for all of the diversity and complexity of modern life, we must not be only related to monkeys, but the bananas we both like to eat — Ed shocked me, when he agreed that my logic must be correct.

Really? It seems rather absurd to believe that sexual reproduction and genetic recombination over time can explain the shape-shifting relationship of humans to the oak tree, but that’s exactly what Darwin’s theory leads us to conclude — but only if we completely eliminate any possibility that supernatural intelligence was involved.

If that’s what floats your boat, that’s your business. Just please don’t simultaneously try to convince me that what I believe is stupid.

To be brutally honest, I’m really not interested in dissenting opinions that attempt to rebut my counterargument but lack solid scientific evidence. However, I am keenly interested if to learn if such evidence exists.

So if you’re a strong atheist looking to pick a fight with an idiot, first try looking in the mirror.

I’ve got better things to do.

Separation of church and state

jeffersonThis video is profoundly disturbing on a couple of levels. While an unglued, obviously deranged woman was busy assaulting innocent people, she was also claiming to teach children about a subject she clearly knows very little, if anything about — the U.S. Constitution.

It never ceases to amaze me, how many people can believe they know things with certainty, yet are absolutely, and often provably wrong.

Take, for example, my atheist friends enamored with the phrase “separation of church and state,” often citing it as their favorite part of the Constitution.

The problem is that the phrase “separation of church and state” cannot be found in the U.S. Constitution, or in any of its amendments.

Here’s my most cynical offer — I’ll pay one thousand dollars reward to anyone who can show me where the exact words “separation of church and state” appear in the Constitution.

No, I’m not being generous.

I’m very confident I’ll keep my money because I know where the phrase originated, verbatim; it came from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to assure the Danbury Baptists in Connecticut that freedom of religion in our new nation would never be limited to one official church.

And don’t try to tell me they are in there somewhere, in spirit. If you’re an atheist, you don’t believe in spirits, do you?

The words specifically in our Constitution guarantee freedom of, and certainly not from, religion.

“Separation of church and state” only meant there will never be a state-sponsored church, like the Anglican Church was in England.

That meant Catholics, Baptists, Lutherans, Jews, Hindus, Muslims and all others were all free to worship their own versions of God, as long as they did not infringe upon the right of their fellow American citizen to do likewise.

And nothing more.