The Math of Creation Doesn’t Compute

The bible says God took 6 days to make the earth. Now for the believer reading this before you start polishing up your metaphorical sword1  to do battle on the topic, hold on a sec ’cause the Fridge already knows what you’re thinking.

A day isn’t really a day right? It is some sort of span of time, could mean years, thousands of years or even millennia of millennia. Your argument is a day is just a period relative to God’s point of view. 2 We aren’t really sure how long it is because we don’t measure time the same way God does. The beauty of this metaphor is that the person that it helps the scientifically minded still believe, you know the type, happy with the fact science gave us things like computers, medicine and Facebook. They like to think of God as the kind of guy that uses the physical reality to accomplish his whims, only resorting to magical God power when no one can actually measure it. You know, to keep faith relevant and all that. 3 But I digress.

Let’s say a God day is whatever length you want it to be. You decide. Because no matter how long you make it, the math of the creation story doesn’t make any sense. Let me explain why.

In the bible God took 3 days to make the earth and only one day to make the stars. 3 days for this little old rock we all live on was 3 times as long as he spent working on all the rest of creation. And there are a lot of stars out there.  About 10^24 of them, that is 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars, a septillion and that is the low side estimate based on what we can actually see with telescopes these days.

Even if you don’t count the fact we are discovering planets around all those starts out there4 it’s still a lot of stuff!

Lets make it into a story problem, yeah I know you probably hated story problems, but trust me this is fun.

First the basic facts:

  • Time to make earth = 3x (or eons if you will)
  • Time to make the stars = 1x
  • Mass of earth relative to the sun 1/333,000 solar masses.

 

That means just in stars alone there is (330,000 * 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) or 330,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times as much stuff as there is in the earth… and it still took 3 times longer to make the earth?

It is not only illogical, it’s stupidly illogical.

It is like saying it takes you 3 times longer to individually place 1 grain of sand than to individually place all the grains of sand on the entire planet…times 5.

My point is if you do the algebra it doesn’t matter how long the creation periods are, it still doesn’t make sense. It would absurd to insist otherwise.

Maybe I can spill forth the light of the Fridge in another way. Lets assume for a minute that the universe is as old as science currently says. Call it 13.8 billion years. We divide that by 6 (because there were 6 periods of construction) that means each ‘day’ would be 2.3 billion years long. Now if God were making all the stars in one ‘day’ as the bible said, God was making 5 billion stars every second of every day for 2.3 billion years. 

Now sure you can say God is really good at making stuff, he is God after all. But then you have to ask the question, if God can make 5 billion stars every second, then why did he need 6.9 billion years to make the earth?

Still think it makes sense? The Fridge inspired me to do a little more math to help you grasp the concept.

Lets assume all the stars are much, much tinier that our sun. For a moment say you could hold one in your hand. If every star was a 1 inch marble in size, all of them piled together would be about 100 times larger than the earth. Even if all the stars in the visible universe 5 were the size of a shooter marble it would take 1 day to make something 100 times bigger that the thing that took 3 days to make. Even when you do something as absurd as shrinking the size of stars down to marbles, it still doesn’t make sense. Not even remotely.

Here is the thing though, to the shepherds and priests and old guys looking up at the stars without a Hubble telescope the stars were just tiny dots. They looked pinholes in a curtain that they had named heaven. They didn’t have things like GPS and astronomy or even a crappie telescope when they were writing the bible  so you can’t really fault them. They were just trying to make sense of the world with the best tools they had at their disposal in their day and age, plus they liked telling stories around the campfire.

The roots of religion are about discovering truth, human nature however has a tendency to twist ideas into dogma over time. Science has picked up the bastar math memenner of truth discovery that religion started and taken it much, much farther. It does this by finding ways to get past our natural tendency to create dogma from something that sounds plausible and figure out ways to prove it is right. In both cases our desire is truth, it is only the method that changes.

 

And just because a little math might actually disrupt some of our deepest convictions, doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy telling a good story around the campfire.

 

camp truth

 

  1. if you like double entendre as much as I, please share this post to further the work of spreading irony and gospel of to all that will perchance hear and stare into their own Fridges in search of truth
  2. Ole Holy Joe Smith told us in the PoGP that each God day was 1000 years, which puts Adam and Eve 2000 years before noah and making all sorts of cool numerological assumptions implying the earth would end 6000 years after creation and fit in nicely with a Sunday coming up on the weekend for that 1000 years of millennial peace.
  3. Metaphorical interpretation of the bible helps you to keep the metaphorical shelf up! Ironic, isn’t it 🙂
  4. Really you want me to add that in the calculation? I’m be a math nerd but even for me too much math only gives you headaches, so lets just say this is a low side estimate and agree any additional material only enhances my point. So we will just toss out the fact the universe is probably 3 times larger than what we observe as well as all the planets and non star stuff
  5. Remember the estimated known universe is still at least three times larger in volume than the visible universe, which because it is volume would make it 9 times as many stars on average

Knowledge is a Sin

Knowledge is a sin, an unforgivable one at that. Think about it for a minute, what was Eve’s sin? She ate of the fruit of knowledge. She learned something. For that unauthorized learning she was condemned to the pain of childbirth and made subservient to man.

It was such a big screw up that in some religions we all were saddled with it forever, others just kept the woman subservient to man part. Either way both Eve and Adam were condemned to die and kicked out of their happy place because they had gained knowledge.
Fast forward to today’s religions, for the most part none of them want you learning the dirty secrets of their pasts, if you do you are told to shut up, don’t talk about that, if you do talk about it you are just another angry apostate. Funny thing about being an apostate, it means you were once a believer, as a believer you had knowledge that your church was true, that much knowing is just fine! Go further though and discover more light and knowledge that the rousing spiritual experiences that gave you that confirmation of truth feel exactly the same as an MLM rally, well that’s too much knowledge again. Deny your previous assertion that you had a witness and call it false, that is the worst knowledge you can have.

You see, the worst thing you can ever know is that your were fooled. If you discover that knowledge there is no going back. One you’ve seen behind the curtain and you know Oz is just a man you can’t un-know it. You can repent of any other mistake in the book, you can feel real guilt and shame and beg for forgiveness for adultery and for stealing, even killing and for lying. But how do you feel guilt for discovering they were lying to you? How do you repent for catching Oz in the act of pulling the levers and pretending to be the wizard?

Maybe that is exactly why knowledge is a sin, the ultimate sin, for it causes heaven and hell to cease to exist. It makes the magic evaporate and the wonder disappear. That magic and wonder is so precious that people are willing to lie to preserve it. They are willing to justify horrible deeds and actions in examples of logical spaghetti that would impress even the FSM.1

The knowledge that the moral authority in your life really doesn’t have a leg to stand on is unforgivable by that authority. It really is. Because once you know it is a fraud, once you deny the truth you once knew as an illusion, you also dispel the illusion that the religious authority that had the ability to forgive you never really had that right at all. That institution ceases to have any hold over you, and thus any attempt by it to grant you forgiveness is pointless.

 

Is too much knowledge a sin? Sure is. Because the greatest sin you can commit in any religion is the sin of disbelief.

athiest
  1. The Flying Spaghetti Monster, the Fridge’s biggest competition for followers 🙂

Leaving Gilligan’s Island

People do not knowingly join “cults” that will ultimately destroy and kill them. People join self-help groups, churches, political movements, college campus dinner socials, and the like, in an effort to be a part of something larger than themselves. It is mostly the innocent and naive who find themselves entrapped. In their openhearted endeavor to find meaning in their lives, they walk blindly into the promise of ultimate answers and a higher purpose. It is usually only gradually that a group turns into or reveals itself as a cult, becomes malignant, but by then it is often too late. When your own thoughts are forbidden, when your questions are not allowed and our doubts are punished, when contacts with friendships outside of the organization are censored, we are being abused, for the ends never justify the means.

When our heart aches knowing we have made friendships and secret attachments that will be forever forbidden if we leave, we are in danger. When we consider staying in a group because we cannot bear the loss, disappointment and sorrow our leaving will cause for ourselves and those we have come to love, we are in a cult… If there is any lesson to be learned it is that an ideal can never be brought about by fear, abuse, and the threat of retribution. When family and friends are used as a weapon in order to force us to stay in an organization, something has gone terribly wrong. “― Deborah Layton, Seductive Poison: A Jonestown Survivor’s Story of Life and Death in the People’s Temple

Some of the 912 dead in Jonestown Guyana

Family Reunions seem to send me into a tailspin every year and then I have some recovery months where I almost forget the nauseating pain that inevitably comes with trying to interact appropriately with my LDS family. When I leave any LDS gathering  I get the impression of leaving the Twilight Zone with the music of Deliverance in the background and the cast of Gilligan’s Island, all fading into the 1960s.

When I was a young girl we did not own a working television for most of my youth. I had heard a lot of hub bub about the television series Gilligan’s Island, but hadn’t yet seen it. So in second grade I determined to do what it took to see the show. I pretended to fancy the perpetual nose miner kid from up the road and eventually he invited me over after school. Sure enough Gilligan’s Island was on, only by this time it was in re-runs. I saw an episode where Gilligan tries to fly off the island with some palm tree fronds and the Skipper ends up swatting him with his hat. The other characters play their typical lines and roles and it was funny, the first time. A week or so later I decided to see it again and after working my feminine wiles on the nose miner he invited me over again. Sure enough, it was a re-run of the re-run that I’d already seen but I didn’t know about re-runs so thought that that one episode was what the whole show was, day after day, week after week, year after year. Even in second grade I could deduce that the fans of Gilligan’s Island were complete idiots and that Gilligan and friends would never possess the collective intellect to escape the island.

Gilligans_island_small

By the time I was thirteen I’d been to the LDS church enough that it was obvious every episode was a re-run of a re-run and I knew that the funky band of buffoons would never get off the island. If there was anything that didn’t fit or make the island look like paradise they would put it under a big smelly rug and place a table and lamp on top and we’d all pretend there was nothing nasty to smell or see oozing out from underneath the rug. It became an exercise in survival and I found some solace in the silliness of the characters and foolish simplistic plots. It got weirder when I became an adult and got roped into the temple experience and then a lifetime of mindless busy work while my kids were little kept me from really examining the plotless writing, the shallow characters, the trite lines and predictable scenarios year after year. I just went along and when I’d find some garbage I’d tuck it under the rug with the other refuse and skeletons and wretched shameful detritus of the islanders.

By the time I was in my 30’s I had outgrown the church and was feeling the suffocation of going along, saying the same lines, wearing the Mary Ann costume, baking pies, never having good sex, and pretending the Professor was interesting or powerful. Besides, Gilligan and The Skipper were always bungling things up and that damn Ginger was always getting all the attention with her bodacious ta tas. The Howells were completely useless.

I tried to convince my family that there was something far off in the mist away from the island that looked really promising and if we could just brave the unknown a bit we could see if there was more to life than an artificial desolate island with very limited intellectual food. I wanted a better show but everyone around me, including my own children liked Gilligan’s Island and if I was going to leave the island it would have to be without them. I knew I would miss them terribly but I wanted to see what was on the horizon much more than the deadening security I felt by remaining on the island.

The only stuff I had to craft a raft from was a bunch of crappy wire hang-ups that were constantly getting all bunched up together and poking me in the ribs. So sadly waving goodbye to them I pushed off on my own. Sure enough, waves of poverty, loneliness, and fear washed over me and threatened to drown me but eventually I hit calm waters and began to paddle my way through the doldrums with the jawbone of a thesaurus I’d found floating nearby. I paddled and paddled and eventually the misty shadow on the horizon became more defined and interesting.

CastAway_raft_small

I could see that it was a huge colorful rich and wonderful world, but there would be perils and danger and cruelty and unpredictable things if I decided to land on those wide shores. I missed my family and what I’d known but the promise of the rest of the world and what it offered seemed so much more interesting and a place where I could truly become a whole new character. I took off the Mary Ann apron and found the costume of a liberal bohemian, complete with Birkenstocks, an oily paintbrush and gardening shears.

I tiptoed onto the big mainland, tepid, and afraid, and completely inexperienced with what it offered. I floundered and failed and made all the mistakes the characters on GI told me I would if I left the island. I was a cautionary tale for sure. But then I started to learn, to grow, to blossom and eventually to find that the mainland was actually a wonderful and continually fascinating place that could give me everything I’d ever imagined and more. I found true love. I found art, and history, and literature, and creativity around every corner. I found interesting people and beautiful architecture and places to go that I’d always been told were bad, scary and evil, but really were quite wonderful. I ate new food, saw new movies, listened to new music, met new friends and learned many new things.

Metropolitan museum of art

I still missed my family so much. I wanted them to know all the amazing things that abound on the mainland so I loaded my pockets with trinkets and images and got back on my raft of hang-ups and took my jawbone of a thesaurus and paddled way back across the doldrums and wild waves and through the mine laden island coast and came back to Gilligan’s Island. I showed all my trinkets and images and tried to regale my family with the wonders of what I’d seen and learned.

They shunned me, chastised me, marginalized me. They denied that my trinkets were evidence of a wonderful world outside the island. They chastised me for wanting to know more, for wondering, for questioning, for seeking. My mothering instincts and gifts became suspect. They pulled my children away from my influence and warned them of the evils of my trinkets and knowledge. Eventually they told me that if I wanted to stay on Gilligan’s Island I would have to pretend that I’d never seen anything new, learned anything, or been anywhere but on the island. If I couldn’t praise the island and the Professor and various silly characters and say my lines, wear my Mary Ann costume and just bake pies then I would have to leave.

I had to escape the island and go back to the mainland and again I found even more amazing trinkets and knowledge. I thought surely these would be enough to prove that there was more in the world and so after some time I rowed back to the island. This time they saw me coming and built a wall, laced the perimeter with hair trigger land mines and placed guards at the top of the wall. I could look through the gate and see my children and grandchildren and they could come to the gate and touch my fingers, but I could not embrace them without the guards shoving a sharp spear between us. I was not allowed to give them any of the gifts I’d brought. Eventually after days of trying different ways of presenting the gifts I knew that I had to leave again. I shoved off this time, sad that they would never leave the island and eventually they would be eaten by cannibals.

Easter Island

Maybe soon I can swim and make it without the raft of old rusty twisted hang-ups. I will keep the jawbone of a thesaurus. It’s served me well.

Atheism Has A Soul

Religious debates often evolve into a conversation about the soul. The most ardent atheists demand evidence of a soul, believers trot out NDE’s which atheists assert reflect the current belief system of the person experiencing it. To the atheist this proves that the final cough of life is a situation where you enter a dream state and your experiences reflect your beliefs. Some atheists have never felt the type of spirituality that the believer is sure testifies of the next life. In my experience however, most atheists have had similar feelings of enlightenment, they have felt something and they can’t deny that feeling. Ultimately one views it as evidence while the other sees it as a trick of human nature.

letting go
Consider this; if our brain has the logical bug of cognitive dissonance, couldn’t it be that those experiences that seem so real are another type of miss-wire in the old thought noodle? We know our perceptions of the world are all filtered via the hardware of our brain. Maybe, just maybe that feeling of a ghost or some one watching over you is an illusion.

Can it be a comforting one? Sure it can. If it is an illusion, that means that our wonderful experience we call life gets reduced to mechanics. I don’t know about you but my own ‘soul’ kinda rebels at the thought I am nothing more than a biological robot.

Maybe our ability to create meaning out of nothing evolved as a survival trait. At some point in our past our brains closed the feedback loop of full creative consciousness that allowed us to think about thinking. The only problem with those thinker apes living back on the savanna is if they were too busy thinking about why they liked the taste of bananas they would typically end up as tiger lunch. Much better to be sure where that banana came from (god made it) so they could get about surviving for the day and use that creative thinking skill in small doses.

If our spirituality is just something we are making up in our mind, then it stands to reason that we should be able to trigger that feeling. Enter the God helmet. Ironically this is really strong proof that even in our own brain we are amazingly good at making shit up, so good at it that we can hardly believe we are fooling ourselves. Do you want more evidence? I bet at least half of the people reading this right now will start reasoning along these lines:

‘Even though that person was fooled with an electromagnet next to their brain, I am confident my own experience is real beyond my own thoughts.’1

Well your experience is real. By definition all experience makes it to your awareness via your brain. So real to you yes, but real to others? That is where the demands of evidence come into play. It is uncomfortable to consider, the conclusions are things the inner you rebels from. It is for this reason people think atheists don’t believe in a soul. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is a matter of the definition of ‘soul’.

Entering the quagmire of the idea that there isn’t life beyond this is scary, but it is also liberating. Purpose becomes what you choose it to be! Even if you are just a robot, you are one that thinks about thinking and argues on the internet and explores the cosmos. How cool is that? And best of all, there isn’t a damn thing saying that some day we can’t transcend the limitations we currently have, in fact the better we understand the nature of our existence the better chance we have of extending it beyond the century or so we currently get in life. Why can’t the soul be the ephemeral result of complex thinking that drives us to create, to learn and to become more than we were yesterday?  I think even the most militant atheist would agree that type of soul exists. To the believer the soul is what carries on past death. To the atheist the soul of this generation is very much alive in the next. I think there is a lot of common ground between those two view points. Just because atheists are godless doesn’t mean they are soulless.

Oh and speaking of robots, it reminds me of something my favorite robot Bender once said:

“Thanks to you, I went on a soul-searching journey. I hate those!”

  1. The other half will try putting a magnet next to their brain 🙂

Sharing Truth not Bias

Do you really want truth? Does anyone really want truth? Maybe you feel this way.

i_want_the_truth

Consider this article:
http://middleagedmormonman.com/home/2013/09/i-am-mormon-and-i-have-questions.html

And consider this one:
http://churchofthefridge.com/2014/01/19/the-glory-of-god-is-intelligence-now-stop-thinking-about-it/

One of these articles clearly discourages free thinking and communication of different ideas. It basically says to stop thinking and be damn sure you don’t tell anyone those scary doubts that creep into your noodle. The other one points out the dangers of shutting off your brain and not questioning the status quo. To steal from MMM’s home page, ‘one matters.’

Which do you think personally is more important? Blind obedience or intelligent introspection? Carefully culled sharing of information or open dialog? I seriously think that most people if given that question in absence of any backdrop of debate would most likely side with the intelligent/open dialog opinion.

Which article gets more traffic? I can’t for sure say how many hits the MMM piece has, but since he recently posted his blog passed 2 million views in about a year, one can assume it was quite a lot. 1 This post on the Fridge door? Comparatively it was read a measly 2500 times.

Possible reason for differences:

1. My writing sucks, very high possibility I will give you that!

2. Getting a major news outlook to carry your post, big coup. Guess it pays to be on the side of the corporation that wants good propaganda .

3.  We seek to confirm our own bias more than we seek truth.

you-cant-handle-the-truth-meme-generator-you-want-the-truth-you-can-t-handle-the-truth-9789dd

I’d say that it is more likely that the second and third reasons are behind the popularity than the first. 2 Why? Because there are millions of people that feel the same way the MMM does. Relatively speaking there are very few that have allowed themselves the freedom of thought that this man does not and thus have arrived at a different conclusion in regards to the religion he is so confident is the one true church of God on the planet. Millions are looking for confirmation of the truth of that which they already hold dear. It is actually something that people will actively do when faced with uncomfortable facts that they can’t deny. In psychology terms this is called the backfire effect.

These days there is much buzz challenging the authority of  religions over the minds of men. Most likely due to the rise of the none’s, militant atheists and a growing secular humanist movement. All this discussion will for a period of time actually enhance the traffic to the sites that willingly confirm bias even when they actively discourage free thought and sharing of ideas.

It also helps that the establishment has funding and influence to promote propaganda that is sympathetic to its cause.  Do you really think a church/corporation that wholly owns a marketing company that brags about its ability to sell you on something using your heart would pass up an opportunity to help you doubt your doubts? 3

The fact of confirmation bias and the ability for a majority to influence a minority, simply via propaganda, means ideas have mass. They don’t just disappear, even when proven wrong. It takes time and patience to replace a falsehood with a truth. The natural reaction of the endangered idea is to band together with other endangered ideas. I think that is why recently Dallin Oaks said the abominal church  “…must be any philosophy or organization that opposes belief in God” This is a far cry from the foundation of Mormonism when Joe Smith declared that God told him all the other religions “…were an abomination in his sight.” Back then it was other religions the idea was competing against, now the biggest threat is no religion. Outdated ideas don’t die easily, they go kicking and screaming.

Religion has an ability to capture the mind of man, we long to believe in a cause that is bigger than ourselves. When mythology is held up as truth via religion it will capture this imagination and desire that is innately human. So how do we change an idea? By understanding the purpose it plays. Don’t forget that religion fills a need inside to be part of something greater, it satisfies a desire for wonder and imagination. So next time a believer asks you what you have to offer, realize that they aren’t just looking for the truth, they also want fulfillment, wonder and hope. Don’t forget to tell them how lucky you feel to be here and now, how wondrous it is that you are a walking talking collection of stardust. Don’t just tell them why their beliefs are mistaken, tell them metaphorically why the Fridge is true and how much more wondrous the world is when you don’t approach it wearing the shackles of preconception. Chances are they will listen better.

 

 

 

  1. I am sure it helped that the Deseret News carried a copy of this post as well… hmmm wonder why that is?
  2. of course that could be my own bias towards my writing 🙂
  3. HeartSell, getting people to do what you want while keeping them from thinking logically about it!

The Beginning

I lost my religion, why? Because I studied it and it didn’t make rational sense. After losing that one I studied others, still none made any sense. Eventually I began to lean agonistic, even atheistic the more I tested and probed.

When it was all done there was a hole in my soul, that is if there ever were a soul. I yearned to fill it. Why, because like most people I want to believe there is more to life, I want to experience the spiritual moments that once confirmed my feelings of my place in the universe. Belief however is a finicky thing. Especially when you begin to understand basic human psychology and how it leads to things like confirmation bias, circular logic and synthetic happiness.

Once you take a journey like this, your mind like a ballon can never return to the size it once was, once your eyes have been opened you cannot go back.

Mankind has had mythologies throughout the ages, ideals that communities hold up and individuals strive for. Usually these ideals are based on ‘revealed’ truth. They are presented as beyond question to give them veracity in the world at large. Thus a myth becomes a religion.

The problem is religions unify groups, and to survive they need to be unique which means other groups must be wrong or lost or just ‘not as good.’ This leads to war.

This is my experiment, to see if a myth can be a know myth and still engender the good things religions do, to inspire, to teach morals, to help others. To do this without the bad things that seem to occur when religions mature.

In the Church of the Fridge, everyone’s voice counts, humor is paramount, and life is meant to be enjoyed not endured. We welcome all who care to hear and contribute.