Jesus Camp & The Baby Bible Bashers

I’ve expanded my TV watching from just iPlayer to include 4oD.

Jesus Camp

This sort of thing doesn’t help with the idea that Christianity is just a method of social control by brainwashing people.

As we heard at my church last Sunday, you can (and should) try to bring up your children to live Godly lives and teach them the Bible, but you can’t make them Christians.

But when an interviewer suggested to Becky Fischer that there’s a difference between learning and indoctrination, she said she thinks churches should be indoctrinating their kids more.

Fischer talks about Muslims putting weapons in the hands of 5 year olds and claims we’re at war. Now, the Bible does use language that suggests a battle, but I think she’s got the wrong idea about who we’re fighting and the way to go about it.

It’s kind of scary, I think these people would agree with my definition of Christianity, but they act it out really very differently. Whipping people’s emotions into hysteria isn’t what Christianity is about.

There’s a kid preacher here too, he was apparently saved when he was 5. He wanted more out of life, this life just wasn’t fun. At 5. Do you know any 5 year olds who already find life boring?

Some adult tells him that God has his life planned out (true), then tells him that God has written that he’s going to grow into a preacher that will shake America, “What do you think of that?” (Personally, I’m fairly certain he’s talking out of his backside).

When someone asks the kid what his favourite subject is to preach on, he replies “faith”. What? I think most preachers worth listening to would choose a favourite Bible passage to speak on, rather than say “faith”. In the clips of him preaching that were shown, he was holding a Bible, but talking about what he felt God was telling him, that “this generation is a key generation”. Definitely sounds like he’s just regurgitating what the people running the camp are saying, not much to do with the Bible.

Baby Bible Bashers

(At time of writing this is still available to watch)

This was interesting because I was less suspicious of the way these kids became Christians, but there were other issues.

Despite Samuel claiming to be saved at 3, it somehow seemed more like he’d decided for himself than some of the kids at Jesus Camp. He hasn’t experienced any other ideas though, so I think he’ll face some serious challenges as he grows up.

I don’t think ordering people on the street to repent or go to hell is the most effective way to tell people the gospel. I’m all for open air preaching, but not in the way they were doing it, with a board listing all the people who are going to hell. That doesn’t seem like a good way of getting people to listen.

Terry Durham hears voices that “sometimes sound like me, but I say no, it’s the Lord”. hmm. I can’t find or remember the exact quote, but a friend suggested something along the lines of how amazing it is how often “what God wants” matches the desires of the person who claims to know.

I reckon if it’s not from the Bible, question it. If it is from the Bible, still check it, it’s not too difficult to take things out of context and say pretty much anything you want.

His dad was made to look very much like he’s using his son for financial gain. Good preachers don’t aim for celebrity status. They wouldn’t want to be welcomed onto the stage with a round of applause. But I guess my definition of ‘good’ is different to theirs.

Ana Carolina’s dad is her choreographer. I think that’s enough said really.

Do We Have Free Will To Think About Jennifer Aniston?

In The Secret You (available on iPlayer until 27/11/09), Professor Marcus du Sautoy (a mathematician) goes in search of answers to one of science’s greatest mysteries: how do we know who we are?

It’s basically about the search for a natural explanation for our consciousness. Are our thoughts just neurons firing? or is there something more going on?

In one experiment, where Marcus decided whether to press the button in his left or right hand, the scan of his brain apparently indicated which side he was going to choose 6 seconds before he even knew himself.

Obviously scientists like things to have a natural cause, and this seems to indicate that our thoughts are predictable, and hence that our concept of free will is a bit messed up. I began to wonder if a criminal could argue that he wasn’t in control of his actions based on this, but the guy did insist that our subconscious is obedient to our conscious wishes.

In other experiments, people were shown a load of pictures, and the response of a certain neuron detected. With one patient, out of 100 pictures, it only responded to the 6 pictures of Jennifer Aniston, and only when she was photographed on her own, it didn’t respond to a picture of her with Brad Pitt.

There was other stuff in there like sticking spots to babies’ faces and giving Marcus an “out of body experience”, and I found it very interesting, but in conclusion, there’s still plenty we don’t understand.

Well, you say that

I wrote previously about parts 1 & 2 of Adam Rutherford’s The Cell. I just watched part 3 (the final part) and the confusion continues.

The main point of this episode was to tell us how life first started on Earth through spontaneous generation. As I noted before, this seemed rather odd since the first episode told how Louis Pasteur showed the idea to be ridiculous. Basically, scientists have changed the rules since Pasteur’s time (note: I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong to do this, if there’s good reason).

Louis showed that organisms did not form spontaneously in his mixture of useful chemicals.

These days, scientists just have to show that certain chemicals that are important parts of living organisms can form in the right conditions. Rutherford kept talking about what early Earth was like, but as far as I can see, the only reason people believe Earth was ever like that is because it needed to be for life to have the slightest chance of starting spontaneously. He gave a few examples of experiments producing important chemicals, but never tried to explain how they could have come together in exactly the right way to form the first living cell. If I remember rightly, there were 161 different structures, all immensely complicated, necessary for life.

It was admitted that this sort of science is actually just intelligent guesswork. “We can’t go back there so we have to come up with reasonable sounding ideas.” This really puts it into perspective. Even if life could have started like they suggest, that doesn’t mean it did.

A few statements made in the show:

All cells come from other cells. Over the three episodes the Doc repeatedly emphasised this as a basic bedrock fact of science. I don’t have any problem accepting this. It doesn’t leave a lot of room for spotaneous generation though.

All organisms on Earth came from one cell at the beginning. Hang on, assuming for a second that spontaneous generation could have happened, why did it only happen once? If the right conditions were present, why didn’t it happen repeatedly?

DNA makes RNA makes proteins. A scientific “dogma”. Interesting. People who have tried to explain spontaneous generation to me before have suggested that DNA evolved from RNA, from proteins, from amino acids.

Parts of this animation were used in the show:

I know it’s only a computer animation, but presumably it is based on reality, and I think it’s awesome. Personally, it puts me in awe of the designer of this incredible machine. I’m all in favour of studying it more and more deeply, but don’t try and explain how it evolved from nothing all by itself, you just sound bonkers.

Astro-biology. Seriously? Us theists are always told we’re just pushing the question of why there’s something rather than nothing further back, by suggesting God created matter. To be fair, Rutherford didn’t just suggest that “life came to Earth from space”, he spoke to someone who found some important molecule on a meteorite.

Thankfully the whole hour wasn’t spent speculating on how life might have started on Earth, he also looked a bit at where genetic engineering could go in the future. I found this bit really interesting, and some of the possibiblities are really exciting, but there are some questions about where lines should be drawn. I think I’m less against playing around with this stuff than some Christians, but there are points where playing God could go too far. Producing a synthetic organism to kill cancer would obviously have great benefits, but I can see some scientist in the future trying to mess with the human genes themselves, probably not to make a glow-in-the-dark person, but there could be all sorts of problems. The concept of designer babies isn’t exactly brand new, but if it means selecting an embryo with the right properties and destroying the others then (like abortion) it’s definitely wrong.

Atheism Gets Pasteurised (+Science Outdoes Hollywood)

I just watched The Hidden Kingdom and The Chemistry of Life, parts 1 & 2 of 3 part series The Cell.

It looks like these are only available to watch til the 2nd September.

There was a lot of good stuff in them.

Louis Pasteur is a legend, he showed that life does not generate spontaneously from non-living matter, whether we’re talking making mice by mixing wheat and sweat, or simple bacteria forming in an environment that would suit them, it just doesn’t happen. The presenter made it sound properly ridiculous and mocked the scientists who held onto the medieval belief for so long.

Yet atheists today still hold onto this medieval belief to explain how the first living cells arose from non-living matter.

But funny things start to happen in part 2, the fact that injecting a mouse’s eye DNA into fruit fly embryos produces extra eyes shows that, despite the eyes themselves having very different structures, the two creatures are made up of very similar genes. He claimed this was evidence of evolution from a common ancestor, but surely that’s going too far? I would think it’s evidence of a designer using basically the same materials to make all living beings.

I will have to wait ’til Wednesday to see part 3, but it looks like he’s going to explain how the first life could have spontaneously generated. This seems odd to me after he so emphatically mocked the idea in episode 1, so I await with interest.

Planet Narnia

From back in the day when the Sun orbited the Earth
From back in the day when the Sun orbited the Earth

I accidentally watched The Narnia Code last night.

It was really interesting, not sure how long you’ll be able to watch it on the BBC website, I could probably make it available to download permanently from somewhere else, but I don’t particularly want to get sued.

Basically there’s more to the Narnia books than you think, a secret 3rd layer that this guy Michael Ward only discovered about 50 years after the books were written.

The first layer is the actual story that’s written on the page.

The second layer is the biblical allegory.

The third layer equates each book to one of the seven medieval planets: The Sun, The Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

I think I’m gonna have to read the book at some point, I don’t really know a lot about the significance of each planet but the bits he talked about on the TV show sounded really interesting.