Saturday, June 7, 2008

Lies, Stupid Lies, and Misinformation

I don't accuse my parents or anyone in my family of outright lying to me. I understand that misinformation can be easily passed down from parent to child simply because the parent doesn't know any better and was taught the same untruths by their parents.

I try with my own son to stop the chain of misinformation. When I am asked questions that I know the answer to and can provide documentation supporting my answer then I answer him without qualification. But when he asks me questions, as he did a few years ago, like "If God made us then who made God?" then I must qualify my answers. The answer to that question was that I didn't know and he would probably get a different answer from any person he asked. I told him that his grandparents (being raging fundamentalists) would tell him that nobody made God, that God was always there. I don't come out and tell him "well, son, there is no God, God was created by humans" because I have no documentation to back up that claim, and he's a really smart kid and I know he will figure it out. He wasn't happy with any of the suggestions I made for possible answers and he dropped it. I have a feeling he pushed that away for now.

Here is a partial list of things I was told as a child that have turned out to be bogus. I say partial list because the more I think on this the more things I remember. So I imagine I'll add to this later on:
  • The seashells you can find on a mountain top are there because of Noah's flood.
    • I understand now that plate tectonics can push areas of earth that were once underwater up into mountains.
    • And even if you take the flood into consideration I don't think the mountain tops were under water long enough to accumulate sea shells, not to mention the fact that they are folded into the strata and the flood would only have put them into a single layer.
  • Moses wrote the old testament.
    • Had I actually paid much attention when reading the old testament I would have asked how he wrote of his own death.
    • There is no archaeological evidence that he existed. There should be, but there isn't.
    • If he wrote it why did he duplicate his own stories? Was he stupid? Did he forget that God has already told him to write about the origin of the Earth? If he had the ten commandments in hand why did he mix them up and change them in two different sections of the bible?
  • Nobody ever found it necessary to tell me that the New Testament was NOT written directly by the apostles, but were written at least 35 years after Christ's supposed death. This was actually the first thing I ever learned that started me down the path of doubt.
    • I learned when I was 12 that the original text was written in Greek. But I didn't ask the important question "If Jesus was a Jew, and lived in the mid-east, then why were his stories written in Greek?" I'm sure many people learned a few years ago that he spoke the language Aramaic when they saw The Passion, so I wonder if anyone asked that question then?
    • And if you are willing to believe that nobody around him thought it important to document God's adventures on Earth and only passed the information down by word of mouth (even though people had been writing for thousands of years before this), anyone who has played the game of telephone knows how stories get warped as they pass from person to person. So, nobody reading these texts today knows how much was real and how much was the result of distortions passed down over time. The same logic applies to the Old Testament which wasn't written down until at about 1000BC (or not, who knows?) but covers a span of time thousands of years prior to its writings.
  • We stay on the Earth because it is spinning really fast and if it stopped spinning we would all fall off.
    • Now, this one is just stupid. I assume that the person who taught me this was very confused about centrifugal force like you see in 2001: A Space Odyssey and gravity. Even at the age of 7, when I was told this, I thought it sounded wrong.
  • We evolved FROM apes.
  • Rainbows are God's reminder that he promised to never again destroy the Earth and its inhabitants by a flood.
    • This one comes straight from the bible. But anyone taking a physics class will learn exactly how rainbows form, what causes double rainbows, etc.
    • And if it were really true that God felt bad and promised not to do that again then why does he continue to either CAUSE or ALLOW disasters like the tsunami we had a few years ago and the recent earthquakes in China. The tsunami was a flood that killed over 100,000 and the quakes in China are causing lakes to flood and threaten to kill more people than the 60,000+ that the earthquake killed. If he caused these floods then he broke his promise and if he willingly allowed them to happen then he's no better than a pacifist allowing innocent people to die at the hands of murderers.

As a final note I want you to think about what things you find easy to believe and what things just don't make sense to you. I find it interesting that for something that is supposed to be the ULTIMATE truth inspired by God that people don't just GET IT when they read it. No, it takes being FORCED to go to church as a child in order for it to stick for any length of time. If these religions taught the ultimate truth I think our brains would get it without needing explanation and we wouldn't have needed governments to force us to believe or our parents to pass the misinformation down to us. We would just get it and there would be no ambiguity about it. To me, that is how truth works.

EDIT: As if by divine providence I was directed to this video that describes the creation of the heavens and the Earth. A bit tongue-in-cheek but I have to agree:

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