Skepticon 6 Day 1.1

So the day is done. My wife and I are back in the room relaxing. Actually, she is asleep and I’m here pondering the day. The first day for me to ever attend any type of freethinker, skeptical or atheist event. I do have to say, I felt right at home with so many like minded people. It was great to be around everyone and listen to the presentations about thoughts and ideas about the the world around us. Ideas that pretty much are in line with how I think and believe to be true about our world. I haven’t branched out to what I think of the universe so much yet.

So after lunch we listened to Darrel Ray speak on secular counseling. I understand this topic all to well as I have experienced a christian counselor first hand as a skeptic on my way to unbelief. It was very difficult and I eventually had to quit.

After Darrel Ray, we watched Seth Andrews of The Thinking Atheist do a live broadcast. I was glad he made it through it as he has been feeling under the weather over the past week. Even though he didn’t feel well, it was still a great show. Well done Seth. I even got to shake his hand afterwards. I feel like “that guy” with some of my podcasting hero’s. But really I’m just thankful for the voice he puts out there about atheism and the manner in which he does. Very inspiring.

Next was another podcast that really was there for me at the beginning of my de-conversion journey just a year and a half ago, Dogma Debate. I can’t tell you how much David Smalley and the show, in all of its evolved states has helped me. I really feel they were there with me and helped me in so many ways. Maybe some that aren’t 4th listeners wouldn’t understand, but the rest of us do. I only wish Aron was part of it today. Not sure why he was missing.

Dogma Debate

Dogma Debate at Skepticon 6

I got to see two of my all time favorite podcasts live then PZ Myers was up. My wife was really pumped to see his presentation as she has recently talked to a family member about the topic of PZ’s talk, The Cambrian Explosion.

So, I am still quite new to a lot of these topics, especially ones of evolution, fossils and historical evidence. The Cambrian Explosion is something I’ve only heard about in the past few weeks. So I really know nothing about it. Until tonight. I admit that I didn’t follow most of PZ’s presentation, but still took mental notes and questions. I later asked my wife about it on the way to our room. She cleared things up for me and it all makes much more sense. I may post more on this topic in the future.

After PZ’s talk, my wife began to have contractions again and be in a bit of pain. We had called her doctor back home earlier in the day about it. He told her it was nothing to worry about according to the symptoms she was describing. But she was hurting and feeling tired, so we decided to call it a night and went back to the room.

I really hated that we missed Shelley Segal’s performance. My wife is an awesome jazz singer and guitar player. I think she would have enjoyed it. But she was really wiped. Maybe next time!

We are just so glad to be here though. It is great to experience this with my wife. This ride to where we are today has been quite something. Just a few years ago, I never would have imagined we would be attending an atheist convention and not church. It is really crazy how much closer all of this has brought us. It is really exciting. Looking forward to another great day tomorrow.

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Skepticon 6 Day 1

Its a cool rainy day. But we are pretty excited about attending our first skeptical, free thought and atheist convention.

So far we’ve attended David Fitzgeralds film festival meeting and one workshop. They were ok.

Now my 8 month pregnant wife is having crazy contractions that are a bit painful. So kind of nervous about that.

Going to have lunch and see how shes feeling afterwards.

Still a newbie.

I have been a doubter, skeptic and critical thinker now for just over a year. So only recently have I been looking at the bible without my god glasses. It has been a new perspective to say the least. I remember as a christian reading the bible and skimming over or just accepting ignorance on the tough passages and mainly paying attention to the more “encouraging” verses. I looked for the scriptures that made me feel good. The ones that were easy to digest.

I can tell you over the past year, even though I had doubts and was thinking more critically about the bible and religious claims, there were times I still tried to hang on to faith. But the more I read, the more I had questions and doubted. It was very tough being around christian friends. Especially when they would pray. I tried to avoid praying as much as possible around others. Something about it just felt silly. Like we were just talking to ourselves. Now I know we were.

I do have to admit that I am still grateful to some of my christian friends who helped me through some tough times over the past year. I’ve not been able to talk to any of them about my unbelief.

I know I have a lot to learn. I still spend a lot of time reading the bible. However, I read it with a critical mindset. It has been quite fascinating. Seeing the flaws and contradictions. Seeing just how wrong the bible is and understanding the human errors it presents. It has become more clear that it is not an inspired text from some deity. Maybe the authors believed some of what they wrote about. But a lot of the new testament reads like it was written by factions with certain agendas in mind. Over all, the bible is not a book to follow for good morals. It fails in so many ways.

I have also been slowly learning about evolution. This is a topic that can get overwhelming, but is also quite captivating. It is clear to me that science is well on its way to discovering and has discovered so much about life. I am very new to studying and acquiring knowledge about evolution. I don’t see how anyone can ignore the evidence of fossil records and the science of evolution.

I get up every day and look forward to learning something new. I try to keep an open mind to what is truth. So far religion hasn’t shown anything that leads me to believe in a god. But I can conclude that if there is a god, it certainly isn’t the god of the christian bible.

American Nephilim and Giants

In my earlier post titled Giants, I mention that one of the problems I have with the god of the bible is how he sent the Israelites to slaughter races of people. Including women, children and infants specifically. A question I have is, Is it ever ok to kill an infant? According to believers and god, it is ok. Their reasoning is that the races that god orders baby killing were giants and descendants of “fallen angels” who impregnate women.

The first round of “proof” that came my way was a video with pics showing people digging up remains of “giants” that were monstrously huge. Much bigger than 8-10 feet large. But I did some checking and found all these were photoshopped. So out the window it went. Still no proof. Gods still a baby killer.

Then another video link was sent to me by text message. It is a video of a man named Jim Vieira giving a presentation about a giant race. He gets into the large race part around the 37 minute mark.

So when not being challenged at his own presentation, he gives a pretty convincing talk. He shows newspaper clippings and magazine articles hoping to make what he’s saying more convincing. He talks about all the various skeletal remains dug up at various sites in America. Remains between 7 and 8 feet tall.

One of the main points he makes in his presentation is that the Smithsonian took the skeletal remains and kept them forever hidden from public viewing or study. It screams conspiracy theory. When asking the person who sent the video what reason would the Smithsonian have to hide the remains, the response was, “because it wouldn’t fit in with Darwins theory of evolution.”

Another person who was also included in the text message, (who is also quite the conspiracy theorist) replied all another text message. It said how great of a video it was and some other conspiracy theory speak. I didn’t quite follow it. To which the original messenger replied:

“I think the Smithsonian started confiscating these oversized skeletons at the same time our scientific and academic national community adopted Darwins theory of evolution. Bfor that hundreds, if not thousands of articles were freely written about then and pix taken. Whether of not u subscribe to evolution, hiding evidence that doesn’t quite fit is NOT the way to scientifically discover the truth!”

And also:

“Funny how when we were nationally embracing biblical creationism there was freedom in new discoveries. But now, we r punished professionally if we theorize there might be an intelligent designer. Or discoveries that don’t fit Darwin are downplayed.” 

Now, I’m a new little Doubting Dragon, so I had to ponder the thought of that for a while. I had to take time to wrap my head around all this new information from this video. I mean, he was presenting a case with “credible articles and clippings” right?

I then did a google search the the presenter in the video. Jim Vieira. And first saw this article. Good information to expose yet another possible conspiracy theorist. But I know creationists would dismiss TED’s rejection of Jims presentation as they are just trying to shut him up, because he “speaks the truth.”

Also in my research about the newspaper clippings, it was interesting to find out just how much exaggerating papers did back then. How much more spectacular they would make things seem, just to sell more papers. Besides, back then, no one really did any fact checking. There was no google! So the papers could say practically anything they wanted or were paid to say.

I also found this BLOG post that was interesting.

The more I thought about it, even if there had been a race of giants, it wouldn’t change the fact that theres no proof they were super naturally brought to the earth. It still doesn’t change the fact that the god of the bible (if he was real) brutally murdered women and children, even if they were to grow up to be giants. Its still no proof for belief.

I found interesting info online from the tallestman.com I believe that there are today, this very day, at least 20 people alive that are over 7 ft. tall. So why doesn’t god have them killed? Are they descendants of fallen angels? Are they evil?

Where are the bibles contemporary bronze age writings about races of giants? Seems like yet another thing that would be hard to miss.

But the thing that kind of puts this whole thing to bed for me is how much of a motivating factor money is. If there were actually races of giants to be found archeologically, I doubt very much that the Smithsonian could keep such a tight grasp on all digs everywhere. Money talks, and there would be other groups out there to find their own giant skeletal remains and would want to profit heavy off of such a discovery. If there were races of giants, I would expect to see more finds other than just here in America. I would expect there to be some found, like say…hmm, I don’t know. Maybe where the bible says the slaughtered Amalekites were killed by the Israelites.

Until some other “proof” is brought forth for a race of giants or if I find something else to rant about, I’m putting this subject to bed.

God it seems, is still just a woman, child and infant killer after all.

Skeptic Bible Study: The Four Gospels Part I

I’ve recently been listening to several podcasts that have been talking about the four gospels. It’s been interesting to learn about the differences and contradictions in these books of “good news”. I know that most skeptics and unbelievers have heard these contrasts several times over. I know I have. But it is always compelling to hear the facts as a refresher.

Scholars agree that Matthew, Mark and Luke are noticeably similar, and are thus known as the “Synoptic Gospels“, while John is quite different. Mathematical comparisons show that Matthew contains 91% of Mark’s gospel, whereas Luke contains 53% of Mark. So it is also highly agreed among scholars that Matthew and Luke used Mark as a source. However, Matthew and Luke contain identical stories that are not found in Mark. This leads many scholars to theorize that Matthew and Luke made use of an additional source called Quelle or “Q”. (All of this information is from my very own copy of the NIV study bible.)

So now that I have the basics set up for us, on to the discrepancies.

Well…the first thing I’ll mention isn’t a discrepancy so much, but the differences are interesting. Marks account begins with the baptism of Jesus. Matthew starts with the genealogy and birth story and Luke begins with even more detail in the birth narrative. Nothing to damning, its just interesting to note the progression of information from Mark to Matt to Luke. Luke lets us know in 1 verse 3, that he’s investigated “everything”, so it seems he has to have the best account.

1. Baptism Account: Let’s take a look at the accounts of Jesus’ baptism. Mark 1:10-11 As Jesus was coming up out of the water, HE saw heaven being torn open and the spirit descending like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “YOU are my son, with YOU I am well pleased.” (Emphasis added)

Notice how personal these two verses are. Its as if Jesus is the only one seeing and hearing god. God it would seem, is revealing himself only to Jesus in this account.

Matthew 3:17 “And a voice from heaven said, THIS is my son, whom I love; with HIM I am well pleased.”

Small differences in the use of words “you are my son/ this is my son” and “with You I am well pleased/ with Him I am well pleased?” Maybe so. I can see just looking at these two passages how a believer could interpret these and say the person who recorded them meant the same thing. But it could also be said that the passage in Matthew seems to be more of a public declaration. Words from god that everyone around could hear.

There is a reason I start this study out with the wording differences in the baptism narrative. With the interpretations of one account being private and the other more public. This actually sets up one of the themes of differences in the gospels. On one hand there is a pattern coming from Mark called the “messianic secret.” We will see that people don’t seem to understand who Jesus is (not even his own disciples) and that Jesus tends to want to keep his identity and “godliness” a secret. The Jesus in Mark is more human and suffers in his humanity much more.

On the other hand coming from Matthew and Luke, Jesus is more of a bad ass that wants everyone to know who he is. Everyone does tend to know who he is. This leaves the Jews, (who have him crucified) much more accountable for their actions. Jesus also seems to suffer far less while being crucified.

In a future blog, I will go into more detail concerning the “messianic secret” vs. Jesus, the popular kick ass messiah.