Some Anti-Theist Religious Bits & Pieces: Round Eight

Of all of those Big Questions central to philosophical concepts that surround life, the universe and everything, the realms of theology and religions and the nature of deities continue to fascinate. Opinions proliferate in books, articles, videos, conversations in bars and pubs, and in fact anywhere and everywhere two or more humans are in proximity. There’s the pro side; there’s the anti-side. There aren’t too many fence-sitters. I’m still in the anti-camp as the following eighth helping of “Religious Bits and Pieces” illustrate.Regarding Religion*If two people from the same religion disagree, they can consult their holy book for a resolution. If two people from two different religions disagree, then what?*Multi-billions of people over the entirety of recorded / written history (which way, way, way predates anything that the Christians, Jews or Muslims can relate to) have believed and worshipped multi-thousands of supernatural (usually or t least often sky) deities. These people weren’t dummies and if born into the 21st Century would have made out A-OK. So, where did they go wrong? Did they go wrong? What evidence do you have that actually proves them wrong? You don’t believe Thor ever existed, but can you actually prove it? Considering how many ‘facts’ monotheistic religions have gotten wrong (i.e. – the Earth is the centre of the Cosmos, something a really all-knowing God wouldn’t have stuffed up in the telling), people who profess in monotheism are in NO position to cast the first stone.*We are apparently required to respect the religious beliefs of others, but not of necessity their historical, economic, social, racial, political, scientific, etc. beliefs. Why the double standard?Regarding Religion vs. Science*Priests cannot turn a cracker / wafer into actual flesh, nor wine into blood, just by mumbling some Latin over them! Anyone who believes to the contrary is in serious need of putting their Analyst on danger money.*Natural causes are a commonplace dime-a-dozen. Supernatural causes are as rare as hens’ teeth, even rarer. You won’t find even one supernatural cause written up in any academic peer-reviewed journal, unless of course the nature of the journal is one preaching to the faithful.*Homosexuality is considered unnatural in the Bible but a talking snake and donkey is totally natural, as is the creation of a woman from a rib, a virgin birth and walking on water. Go figure, especially when homosexuality is a naturally occurring feature in the animal kingdom.Regarding Faith & Belief*If you can’t give me any coherent reason to believe you, then I have no reason to believe you.*Belief in God and Jesus? Fake it till you make it.*The willingness to die for your beliefs says nothing about the truth behind those beliefs.Regarding Prayer*Prayer works! At any major (even minor) sporting event like the World Cup, the seventh game of the World Series, the Super Bowl, the Kentucky Derby, etc., or perhaps an election, lots of people will pray for each team, horse, candidate, etc. Since one team, horse, candidate has to win, obviously the people who prayed for that team, horse or candidate will testify that prayer works and that God answers prayers! That’s totally logical!*Say one billion people issue a prayer a day for something that falls within the realm of the natural sciences. By pure coincidence, by pure chance, and by the statistical laws of pure probability, a tiny fraction of those prayers will come to pass – naturally. So did God do it? No. Of course the hits are always recorded in favor of God answering prayers, but the multi-millions and millions of misses, well they tend to be ignored and ultimately forgotten about.*Has there ever been any prayer for something, a something outside of the realm of the physical and biological sciences, that has come to pass and has been verified and accepted as verified in a peer-reviewed journal? Not to my knowledge.*If prayer had medical benefits the medical profession would prescribe prayer or praying to their patients as part of their treatment – maybe even the be-all-and-end-all of their treatment. Prayer of course should have observable and measurable consequences – if prayer works. Now can you pray your headache away, or does an aspirin work better?*But as the late comedian George Carlin has pointed out, if God has some sort of Master Plan, why would he alter that Plan in order to cater to your prayers? God, being all-knowing, already knew you would pray for X, and knew in advance that He would totally ignore you in deference to carrying out His Master Plan.Regarding Animal Morality*Evolution explains morality quite nicely since morality can be observed in the animal kingdom. I can cite a personal example. I have two cats. They absolutely hate each other. I can count on there being several cat-fights a day. However, there are certain occasions when there is a mutual truce in force. No cat will attack the other cat when the other cat is eating, going to the bathroom, or sleeping. Some sort of moral code is in play under those circumstances.There are many examples of animals coming to the aid of other animals. One case I can cite is a cockatoo tangled up in some wires. Other cockatoos brought the entangled bird food. It had a happy ending when humans came to the rescue and freed the bird.Stories of dolphins protecting humans from sharks are legendary. Dogs guarding and defending a companion dog that’s been injured, even against humans who are coming to help the injured dog, are a well-established natural moral phenomena. You don’t have to dig too far into the literature to uncover lots of examples of members of one species behaving morally toward other members of the same species even when they don’t have to and they derive no benefits by doing so.Cats, cockatoos, dolphins, and dogs haven’t read the Bible. The concept of God and God’s [alleged] morality is meaningless to them. They didn’t get their morality from God.

Regarding the Soul / Afterlife*Here’s an interesting theological question. You’re aware that here is a neurological condition called multiple personality disorder or dual personality (made famous in the feature film “The Three Faces of Eve”). Now the theological question is, does each of those personalities have their own soul and does each of these personalities have their own separate and apart afterlife? If not, why not?Regarding God*If you are a theist, just try to imagine for a moment that there is no God (or god). What would have really changed in your life? You’d still be the exact same person, warts and all.*To prove God exists, here’s all you have to do. Identify X. If X exists without any question (something like gravity for example), and X can only have been created of necessity by God, then God of necessity exists too. Now, what is X? Identify X and you’ve proved that God exists (or at least existed).*Isn’t it absolutely amazing that whatever biases you happen to have, you share those biases with God!*If natural disasters are the wrath of God, why do nearly all hurricanes hit the Bible Belt?*God can’t be both “just” and “merciful”. A “just” God treats you just so. A “merciful” God treats you better than just so. In other words, “just” is a one year prison sentence. “Merciful” is a suspended sentence.*It is illogical to suggest that God is both “perfect” and the “creator” of our Universe. If God is “perfect” then God wants for nothing, but if you create something, you create that something because it is something you want and previously lacked. So why did God create our Universe? Well apparently according to theists, God created the Universe so in order to give rise to little old us (humanity) so that we could come to know God and worship God – sounds rather selfish and egotistical of God if you ask me. God apparently wanted His version of our own pet dogs!*God cannot be both transcendent – existing outside of space and time as well as being omnipresent in space and time. That’s like being both in a pre-conception state and in a post-conception state simultaneously.*If God is uncaused, then why not just assert that the Cosmos is uncaused and avoid the unnecessary middle-’man’ creator of said Cosmos? Ockham’s Razor would suggest such a proposition is a valid one.*If you don’t know the answer to something, just saying “therefore, God did it” is NOT an explanation any more than saying that Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny did it. “God did it” is to provide an answer to one mystery with an even greater mystery. Anything that explains everything actually explains nothing.*Those who claim to have talked to God, or more to the point had God talk to them, have never had any new knowledge provided or revealed to them that would verify that claim. Funny ’bout that!*Premise: If God exists He desires that we know Him beyond all reasonable doubt.
*Premise: If God exists He has the power to enable us to know Him beyond all reasonable doubt.
*Premise: If God exists we should therefore know God exists beyond all reasonable doubt.
*Premise: We do not know that God exists beyond all reasonable doubt.
*Therefore: God does not exist.Regarding God’s Intelligent Design*Why does the human male have nipples? Why in fact do other male mammals like cats have nipples? What’s the point? Are male nipples really an intelligent design?Regarding God’s Omniscience*There are many things that God cannot know about in practice, only in theory, like fear and lust and hitting a baseball and looking forward to retirement, etc. God may know the theory and the definitions but not the experiences. Therefore God isn’t all-knowing and God should have at least the same knowledge as His living creations, but He doesn’t and he can’t.Regarding God’s ‘Morality’*The theological question of why God allows natural evil (i.e. – diseases, natural disasters, etc.) is two-fold. God allows natural evil because God Himself is totally evil. There is no one who reads the Old Testament who can doubt this observation for even a moment / a split second, even if moral values are subjective and not objective. Further to the point, if God created life, the Universe and everything, then God created natural evils too, so why should God prevent what He Himself has created? Actually the whole God / evil dilemma or paradox is easily resolved with just one premise: there is no God. God does not exist apart from just being an entity that resides within the human imagine.*One cannot condemn the Nazi Holocaust without also condemning God’s equivalent actions. Like Hitler, God too had His Chosen People and those who were not of His Chosen People could, in Dalek-speak, have a sentence passed along the lines of “Exterminate!, Exterminate!, Exterminate!”Regarding God’s Will*The conservative Republicans have won the election – it was God’s will. The liberal Democrats won the election – God has abandoned America! [Thanks to Jaclyn Glenn for this bit of "Christian Logic".]Regarding William Lane Craig [WLC] on God’s Existence1) Regarding the Origin of the Universe:*Though William Lane Craig argues the existence of God due to the creation of the Universe, it is just as plausible that he should be giving equal credibility for the done deed to any creator deity in any of the world’s other creation myths of which there are multi-dozens and dozens. Translated, William Lane Craig goes through a rather long and convoluted and IMHO illogical explanation for the origin of the [WLC] or our [JP] Universe. According to William Lane Craig, “God did it”, meaning the Christian God of the Bible. However, William Lane Craig could just as easily and just as logically substituted Allah, Brahma, Enki, Odin, Quetzalcoatl or Viracocha (and many others as well) without losing the plot or dropping the ball. But of course William Lane Craig roots for and cheers on Team God, not Team Allah, or Team Odin, etc.*It’s interesting to note that while William Lane Craig seems happy to acknowledge and accept the late Sir Fred Hoyle’s assertion that a random origin-of-life by pure chance would be akin to a tornado ripping through a junkyard and by chance assembling a Boeing 747, William Lane Craig totally ignores Hoyle’s version of cosmology – his Steady State Model / Theory which would imply an infinite Universe in both space and in time. That would never do! While the Steady State Theory as proposed by Hoyle is dead and buried, it doesn’t take a great deal of cosmological extrapolation to resurrect the idea by going from Hoyle’s idea of the uncaused continuous creation of hydrogen atoms popping into existence to ramping that general concept up to the continuous creation of Big Bangs replacing the hydrogen atoms. You can have a Steady State cosmology of ever on-going Big Bangs, and that too would be an infinite – in this case – Cosmos in space and in time.2) Regarding Fine-Tuning:*William Lane Craig argues that God must be the designer behind the apparent fine-tuning for life because pure chance is just so overwhelmingly improbable as to be dismissed completely out of hand. Yet, consider the extremely long train of improbable events that led to the very existence of William Lane Craig. That just one male met and mated with one female; that just one sperm out of millions fertilised that one egg out of multi-dozens, going back hundreds of generations has to give the probability of William Lane Craig’s existence as trillions upon trillions to one against. For each person that was conceived and born, like William Lane Craig, there were untold trillions and trillions of potential entities like William Lane Craig who weren’t ever given a status of being an actual entity.*Of course in an infinite Cosmos as noted above, sooner or later William Lane Craig would have to come into (and ultimately go out of) existence, so it is not surprising to find a William Lane Craig existing. But it requires infinity for that to be a certainty. Also a certainty is that over an infinite amount of time, there will appear and disappear an infinite number of William Lane Craig’s.*Further, William Lane Craig asserts that the apparent fine-tuning of the Universe for entities such as himself is obviously the handiwork of God. But, if I were to use a random number generator to randomly select a set of 3-D spatial coordinates (we’ll just set time equals now) and then teleported William Lane Craig in his birthday suit to those coordinates, what are the odds William Lane Craig would find those coordinates fine-tuned for his continued existence as a living breathing entity? Virtually nil. He’d either freeze to death, probably while sucking on a hard vacuum, or fry to death.3) Regarding Objective Moral Values:*We all know that William Lane Craig cites as a proof of God’s existence the fact that there are objective moral values and if there were no God there wouldn’t be objective moral values and therefore there is a God because we accept that there are objective moral values. William Lane Craig often uses the example that it is objectively immoral to torture a young child and that everyone would agree on that (quite apart from all of the torturing / child abuse and killing of young children in the Bible of which there is a lot, most being via the direct actions of God Himself – The Flood; Sodom & Gomorrah; The Tenth Plague, etc.) No, one could imagine scenarios where the torture of a young child might be required for the greater good – it just depends. For example, one could imaging that ISIS has brainwashed a young child into planting a bomb somewhere in a public school. The kid escapes but is caught. Only the kid knows where the bomb is and the bomb is due to go off within a few minutes. Are the authorities going to play good cop, or bad cop with the kid?*If as William Lane Craig asserts that without God there are no objective moral values, but then with God there would be and there are objective moral values and therefore those objective moral values – which exist – must come from God and so therefore God exists. So therefore, given that long list of Biblical crimes and immoral actions / events which can be greatly expanded apart from children that suffer and who are abused (i.e. – God performs acts of, or condones acts of, or orders acts of murder & genocide; animal & human sacrifice; torture; animal abuse; theft; slavery; paedophilia; rape; incest; cannibalism; betrayal; and lying), are all objective ‘morals’ that come from and are sanctioned and even directly performed in many cases by The Almighty really objective? If so they must equally apply to God, otherwise God is a hypocrite – a being who says “do as I say, not as I do”. Regardless, God indeed is the most immoral being ever conceived of by man, an indication that assumes that God was created in the image of man, or who in turn actually exists if the converse is true. No matter how you slice and dice things, God is pure evil if there are objective moral values.*Since William Lane Craig states that there are God-derived objective morality or objective moral values, then one would assume that all predominately Christian nations would have adopted God’s universal set of moral values – or human rights. There are God-given human rights. However, as George Carlin points out in his YouTube video “Swearing on the Bible” that is NOT the case. Different predominately Christian nations have differing lists of what they consider to be basic human rights. According to Carlin, the United States has ten (the Bill of Rights – which of course Americans have had to amend again and again) but that is not the case across the Christian board. The British have 13 Rights; the Germans 29; the Belgians 25; the Swedish 6; and some nations a big fat zero in the Rights department. As Carlin points out God forgot one really important Human Right that humans have had to add to God’s list – slavery.*If morality is objective and if morality stems from God, then it should be morally A-OK to do what God does. So, if you see someone who is not of your own chosen kind, and they sort of stand in your way of achieving your goals, then by all means it is moral to kill them – that’s what God would do, in fact did as related in the Bible.

4) Regarding the Resurrection of Jesus:*William Lane Craig cites the post-dead and buried sightings of Jesus as proof of the resurrection of Jesus and therefore as proof of the existence of God. However, there have been many sightings of Elvis and Jimmy Hoffa and other notable “dead” celebrities post their alleged demise so does that mean that Elvis and Jimmy, etc. were also resurrected from the dead and if so does this mean that they too are divine and sons of God?*Craig bases a lot of the credibility of the resurrection of Jesus to eyewitness testimony (the empty tomb; sightings of Jesus post death, etc). I assume that Craig also accepts eyewitness testimony when it comes to UFOs and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (seeing aliens); seeing ghosts, etc. As many a psychology classroom demonstration has proven; as many a courtroom trial has hinged upon, eyewitness testimony isn’t all that acceptable as a form of evidence.5) Regarding Personal Experiences of God:*William Lane Craig believes in the existence of God because he has had a personal spiritual experience of God. No doubt some Muslims have had a deep personal experience of Allah and the Hindus of Brahma and one could well imagine some ancient Greeks having a really spiritual experience if not an actual encounter with Aphrodite. Shamans across the social and cultural board have all manner of mystic / religious / spiritual experiences. It’s part of their job description and a requirement of their ‘profession’ as it were.*But further to the issue behind this claim by William Lane Craig, people in sensory isolation tanks and everyone at the awake-asleep / asleep-awake interfaces are prone to all manner of highly realistic spiritual experiences, experiences that they would swear are totally real. Certain drugs, fevers, sleep deprivation, flashing lights, migraine headaches can all cause highly spiritual but still illusionary / hallucinatory experiences. Finally, the sheer will to want to believe can easily colour your ordinary experiences into extraordinary experiences, slanting those ordinary experiences towards your preferred direction, even subconsciously. Being of sound mental health doesn’t preclude having illusionary experiences. You can experience an imaginary situation or being, think it is a real experience, and still be sane.*William Lane Craig says that the purpose of human life – including your life – is not happiness or the pursuit of pleasure, but just to personally come to know God. Why isn’t the purpose of life to come to know Zeus, or Brahma or Allah? In any event I thought God said the purpose of human life was to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1: 28). If so, God should have known better than to issue that directive, a directive which has led to all sorts of undesirable consequences.Summation*In summary, William Lane Craig first two arguments (creation and fine-tuning) ‘proving’ God’s existence could equally apply to a whole pantheon of deities, not just the Christian God. In fact they don’t have to apply to any god(s) at all. His third argument (objective morals) is clearly wrong as morals are relative not absolute (in Star Trek lingo, ‘the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one’ and sometimes vice-versa). And in any event getting your morals from God is akin to getting your chemistry lessons from an alchemist; your astronomy lessons from the newspaper’s daily astrology column. Since God is the most immoral entity ever conceived of (if you accept a literal Bible), it’s absurd to take your moral lessons from God. Craig’s fourth argument (Jesus) is dicey since Jesus may not have even existed and there is no independent historical or archaeological evidence for the death and resurrection of Jesus. Further, the character of Jesus isn’t even unique in the cultural record of humankind. Lastly, Craig’s argument for God based on personal experience hold no water since personal experiences are not just personal but are highly subjective given that there is no accompanying slab-in-the-lab evidence. Further, such experiences can often be explained by neurological means and processes.Regarding Jesus*Jesus talks about the evils of divorce but he never even mentions homosexuality, yet what’s the Big Issue current Christians rant and rave about? – You guessed it; homosexuality and LGBT rights*Speaking of the purpose of living here on Terra Firma, Jesus most certainly did NOT obey God’s instruction to “be fruitful and multiply”.Regarding Atheists & Atheism*What probably upsets atheists more than anything else is not that some deluded people believe without evidence that they have an invisible ‘friend’ up in the sky, but that these people act on behalf of their ‘friend’ and in the so doing commit all manner of atrocities. For example people who perform and defend genital mutilation defend the religion and not the child.*Atheists have been accused of being Satanists. I mean it makes perfect sense that just because atheists don’t believe in God doesn’t mean they don’t worship the Devil. As Jaclyn Glenn would say (and has said), “Christian logic”!*Atheism is a ‘science’ in that it can be falsified. However, no theists have ever been able to falsify atheism. Theism on the other hand cannot be falsified and so the two contrasting theological philosophies are not playing on a level playing field.*One advantage of being an atheist – you get to sleep in on Sunday mornings!

Primary and Secondary Training For Working at Height

The Difference between In-House and Third Party Training

When it comes to implementing safety procedures as required by the working at height regulations 2005, training is a key piece of the puzzle. Safety practices are only as good as the employees who actually perform the work. Therefore, they must be trained in current safety requirements, how to use the equipment and tools provided, and how to work in a way that is cautious, proactive, and as risk-free as possible.

To provide workers the proper training requires two things: primary training and secondary training. We’ll discuss both types of training in the following paragraphs as well as the difference between receiving the training in-house or through a third party organisation. The UK law requires all workers who will be performing working at height tasks be properly trained and kept up-to-date with safety procedures. Furthermore, safety equipment and tools need to be inspected and certified on a regular basis.

Primary Training

Primary training must be undertaken by every employee before they are allowed to work at height. The training should consist of classroom time and, where appropriate, practical training. Some of the topics that might be covered in primary training include regulatory standards, how to properly prepare for working at height, the types of access systems available, and also the different types of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and how these can be used to prevent falls.

An example of primary training might be ladder safety. Workers will learn why the ladders are inherently dangerous and when there use is appropriate. Their training might include case studies demonstrating how improper use of ladders resulted in falls and injuries. They will also learn how to properly utilise a ladder and make it secure when it is the appropriate access system. Workers should certainly be encouraged to perform all work from ground level whenever possible, thus reducing the need for ladder use.

It is important to note that primary training needs be as thorough and inclusive as necessary for your particular type of work. Generally the information in Primary training is new to the employee and this will help him on his way to prove competency regarding the task at hand. Primary training must be conducted by a fully qualified instructor. The instructor will come from a specific industry back ground. In the case of working at height that background would normally be a manufacturer of safety equipment and their training comply to current British Standards on training.

Secondary Training

UK legislation stipulate that workers undergo further training every six months beginning from the time their primary training is completed. This is what’s known as “secondary training.” The purpose behind secondary training is to keep workers up-to-date on regulatory changes, new safety practices, updated methodologies, and so on. When secondary training is not completed on schedule workers fall behind and their limited knowledge increases the chances of a workplace accident. For example an employee that hasn’t used their harness since their primary training (and many who have) will get skill fade thus has probably forgotten how to use this equipment correctly when needed.

Primary training should not be conducted by in-house trainers due to it being very difficult to prove the competency of the instructor under British Standards. Some training companies offer courses to train the trainer and while this may be acceptable in some subjects it certainly isn’t in critical and complex areas such as working at height. Knowing how to put on a harness just doesn’t cut the mustard. Primary trainers need an extensive breadth of experience in training operatives to be able to assess their competency to work at height as well as be constantly up to date with legislation. Trainers need also to have a thorough familiarity with a broad range of solutions to the various applications and tasks the operatives may be called on to perform at height. Primary trainers also need to be regularly audited to ensure their skills are maintained at the required level.

Having said this there can be a case made for a competent person to be trained to do secondary training as a 6 month refresher for those who have received primary training.

Secondary training can be conducted through in-house programs or through third-party training. In either case, those providing the training must be trained and competent themselves.

The working at height regulations 2005 gives details of the competency level required and what it means.

In-House Training

In-house training is provided by employees of the company who have the skills for that purpose. Typically only larger companies provide in-house training because they are the ones with the financial resources to do so. Such companies typically employ hundreds of workers and have multiple jobs going on simultaneously. Although it’s possible for smaller companies to provide in-house training it is not as common as it is with larger companies.

In-house training is also a great way for companies to manage financial resources because they have their own dedicated staff for secondary training. However, the one danger of providing training through an in-house program is the possibility that standards will be allowed to relax every now and again. Whereas a third party training firm must always keep its standards top-notch in order to compete for business and comply with audits for training standards, in-house trainers don’t have that motivation. It’s important for companies who employ an in-house method to always make sure trainers are adhering to high standards and best practices.

It is a great resource to have within your company the capability to conduct in-house refresher ‘Secondary’ training, however it must be clear that ‘Primary’ training must take place with an external independent third party company. If you try and go down the route of in-house primary training to save money, the training received may not be recognised, therefore exposing your company’s indemnity and more importantly the safety of you employees.

Third-Party Training

Third-party training is provided by dedicated training organisations or equipment suppliers who have incorporated such training into their list of services.

Third-party primary training typically occurs at the headquarters of the company receiving the training; secondary training typically occurs on the job site. However, these locations are not set in stone. Training can occur anywhere agreed to by both parties. Sometimes both primary and secondary training is best achieved on the job site. Other times, training organisations will have a more conducive learning environment set up at their location, and will encourage primary training to take place there. Location can be important especially with in a construction environment when it is always advisable to train the employee at the job site. For example, when it comes to working at height it is always good for the instructor to see specific working at height applications and therefore be able to tailor the training to that application. This would mean the employee is getting the best information and training to protect them in their working environment.

Choosing a Third-Party Training Organisation

The quality of training your employees receives depends on the individuals providing the instruction. That’s why it is very important when selecting a third-party training to choose one with a good reputation within industry, HSE recognised and a solid track record; companies that offer training need to demonstrate that they are fully knowledgeable in current legislation and its application. They should also be familiar with your type of industry – at least at a basic level. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for references from other companies they have worked with. You wouldn’t trust a contractor to work on your home without references, why would you trust a firm to train your employees in something as important as at height safety, without them?

Something to consider if you’re planning to use third-party training is to work with a company that sells tools and equipment into your industry. As long as that company has the proper accreditation to provide training there are several advantages to going this route. First of all, you’ll get top-notch training from a company that has some knowledge of the type of work you do and the tools and equipment needed.

In addition, the company will probably be able to inspect and certify your tools and equipment as well. This is a good way to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. It is a very cost-effective way to receive training, equipment supply and inspection services all in one shot. Again, just be sure to choose a company with a verifiable history.