A narrative essay by – Heather Spoonheim

As a ‘strong’ Atheist, I believe there are no gods. That is a belief that I am very comfortable, if not enthusiastic, to have challenged. The thing that irks me, however, is that those who try to challenge that belief almost never challenge it at all, but instead lay out a challenge to science. Now, I have an extremely eclectic resume but I am definitely not a scientist; as a matter of fact, at the time of this writing I make my living with a chef’s knife. What the hell could I possibly know about science that isn’t already published and open to criticism by anyone who actually cares to do so?

Why is it that my belief is so readily interpreted as a statement that I know how the universe came to be? I have absolutely no idea how the universe came to be and neither does science, as near as I can tell.

I realize that the distance between galaxies has been observed to be increasing at an accelerating rate, and that one can describe that behavior mathematically and then reverse the math to calculate that everything came from some singularity about 14 billion years ago – but that is where the current mathematical models break down, apparently. After that it’s really anybody’s guess.

Maybe the universe pulsates from singularity to some end point and back again, infinitely repeating. Maybe the singularity was actually a vortex from someplace else through which our universe got ‘sucked’ or ‘pushed’. Maybe the universe is just an attribute of a less finite context that itself is just an attribute of a less finite context and on and on infinitely. To be honest, I believe we will never know the complete picture.

The only people who have the audacity to claim knowledge of the complete picture seem to be those who claim that it’s a portrait of their invisible, imaginary friend. What a Kodak moment that must present – just keep shaking that Polaroid until the image clears up enough for me to take a look too, please. In the meantime, stop asking me where the universe came from.

Why is it that my belief is so readily interpreted as a statement that I know the details of abiogenesis and/or evolution? It really irks me when people ask me to explain these things, especially when they don’t even understand that they are different concepts. Abiogenesis really eludes me because it is based on such a large knowledge base of chemistry and still in such early phases of research.

Evolution can be even more difficult because so few people realize that it isn’t a fact at all, just an explanation that is supported by literally millions of facts that aren’t nearly as accessible to the layman as the cosmos. To make matters worse, although U.S. courts readily accept DNA evidence of two men being brothers as being rock solid enough to put a man to death, they won’t accept it as rock solid enough to establish the irrefutable relationship between humankind and the rest of the great apes. Fuckers.

Even if I were a scientist and had devoted my life to a field that fell within the bounds of one of the aforementioned scientific realms, that still wouldn’t give someone the right to demand free private lectures. These days I make my living in restaurants, and if you don’t believe that eggs and oil can be whisked into mayonnaise then you can go buy a fucking jar of Miracle Whip – it’s not my job to educate you and if you want my services then talk to your waiter. Furthermore, I have no idea how the absence of a conclusive scientific proof for anything serves as evidence to support the impossibly self-contradicting postulations made by Bronze Age holy books. For the most part those texts manage to completely disprove themselves without any need for science.

What I do know is that if you could pray to get shit done then people would pray and get shit done. If the god of Judaism existed then the Jews wouldn’t have spent their entire history getting their asses kicked all over the planet only to wind up back in the only part of the Middle East that doesn’t have any oil under it. If another god existed then I’m certain that the Jews, pragmatic people that they are, would have tossed their Torah and Talmud into the trash centuries ago and jumped on a bandwagon that actually had wheels. All I can say to deists is that I find their concept of god equivalent to fat-free, sugar-free, caramel syrup; if the word oxymoron didn’t just pop into your head then please look up the definitions of oxymoron, god, and syrup in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Prayer doesn’t work, science does, and you don’t need to be an egghead to figure that out. Go get a job at the Cadillac factory like Johny Cash and take a toodle around on your lunch break. The engineers aren’t dressed in ceremonial robes reading incantations in a dead language as they wave a big brass incense ball over plans scrawled on parchment – they are at computers, punching in numbers, and using instruments to take measurements. Science works.

Science is for the public and you don’t need anymore than bus fare to find that out. Hop on a bus, head to a local campus, and casually walk into a lecture hall with a bunch of students, inconspicuously taking a seat near the back. Quick note - it might be a good idea to leave the holy books at home for a day and instead carry a binder or laptop or something to give the impression that you are literate. Anyway, you can sit there and listen to them speak and you’ll quickly discover there is no fucking conspiracy going on. Everything that they are saying can be confirmed at the library – the public library. Science is public.

Science is international and you don’t need to travel the world or speak seven languages to confirm that. You can pick a subject, like the second law of thermodynamics (a favorite of so many holy rollers), look it up on Wikipedia, and you’ll find that it is available in at least 30 languages. For those that have had their nose in the holy books too long, feel free to scroll through the list of languages and select ‘simple English’. If you doubt that this information is available around the planet then all you need to do is sign up for a myspace account using a picture of a blonde woman on your profile. Within hours some guy with a name like Achmed from Egypt or Morocco will send you a message requesting a conversation by webcam. Now, tell him you will turn your webcam on after he reads the Wikipedia article to you, confirming the translation in his native language – a lot of them seem to speak French as well so you can have them check that too. Science is international.

So, I would like to ask, once and for all, that all holy rollers please stop asking me to give them free science lessons. Everything that I know about science is publicly available at a nearby college, local library, or on the internet. I’m an Atheist, not a scientist.

Views: 16

Comment by Heather Spoonheim on May 11, 2011 at 11:12pm
Thanks!
Comment by Ron V on May 11, 2011 at 11:21pm
As always- a pleasure to read
Comment by Walter Maki on May 12, 2011 at 12:04am
Ah some more brain candy in the form of prose, thank you once again Heather :)
Comment by Heather Spoonheim on May 12, 2011 at 12:11am

@R V - Thank you

@W M - You are very welcome!

Comment by Zach Winkler on May 12, 2011 at 12:36am

This is truly a social masterpiece. I really liked the bit about the differentiation of Abiogenesis and Evolution. I wish people knew their topic of debate. The sad thing is, that no theist will ever take the time to read this wonderful excerpt that you have brought to us (or open their mind to it). Some-times debating seems so pointless, like writing a book with no-one to read it. Thank-you for putting in the effort.

Comment by Heather Spoonheim on May 12, 2011 at 12:42am

Thanks so much, Zach.  By the way, not only have I spent hours in pointless debate but, in point of fact, I have also written a book that has hardly been read.  LOL!

 

I hereby make a shameless plug for my book: http://humbugbistro.blogspot.com/

Comment by Zach Winkler on May 12, 2011 at 1:31am

Really, wow! Any-one who can run a business, create a book, and maintain a mind of reason and logic gets my utmost respect. I am going to read this. Thank-you for the link!

Comment by Brian Stewart on May 12, 2011 at 2:11am
thanx Heather...every religionist and especially JW's I've spoken to, immediately assume when they hear I'm an atheist, that I 'believe' in science: FFS! Science does not exist to prove religion false! Science is not an alternative religion like some so-called agnostics or apologists for freethinking, would like us to believe: science is science and exists to address everyday issues as well as complex theories and assumptions. and science (or more accurately the scientific method) by its very nature never assumes it is totally and irrefutably right, only religions do that!
Comment by Walter Maki on May 12, 2011 at 2:13am
Cool have that link bookmarked for future read :)
Comment by Heather Spoonheim on May 12, 2011 at 2:28am
Thanks for commenting, Brian.  It's strange how Atheism and science get lumped together.  It's really outlandish to have people demand that I prove PhD levels of understanding in order to justify the hilarity with which I view their 'speaking in tongues' shenanigans.  I'm glad this blog seems to be connecting with quite a few people.

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