Ask an Atheist 2013 answers.

17 04 2013

So we have our first set of questions.

1- Shroud of Turin’s validity.
2- Why are there still monkeys.
3- Why does a banana fit in our hand.

So before I begin. I have to say these questions are pretty common and the 2nd is already covered in my previous posts. But I will cover it again here for something to do.

1. The shroud of Turin. For those who do not know is a sheet of fabric that was allegedly wrapped around the body of Jesus before being buried. It is supposedly soaked in blood and his bodies figure and facial features can be seen in the fabric. I will discuss the validity of its existence and other claims about it.

2. If humans came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys and 3. Why do bananas fit perfectly in our hands? These questions I will try to cover briefly because they aren’t that deep of an issue and are fairly easy to understand without too much information. They are more of a backwards way of thinking and I should mention we didn’t come from monkeys but rather from apes, and we still are an ape for that matter.

So come along for the journey. First stop, medieval times.

The fabric that makes up the shroud has been examined in many methods and by many people. One such method was by radiocarbon dating and this was done by several people, not just one group but many well respected schools, labs and scientists who all arrived at pretty much the same result. The fabric dates back to around 1260-1390 AD.

1260-1390 AD is quite a while after the supposed time of Christ’s burial. So how can that be? The only way that could be is if the shroud is in fact a faked piece of work that has been passed off as a real artifact.

The studying of the image itself has been noted as appearing as the style of painting that was typical of that same era. When the substance that stains the fabric was closely studied, it was found to contain chemistry that was very similar to a type of paint that would have been used. However there are some stains on the shroud that have been claimed to be his blood. The only problem is that testing on this blood has revealed it to be a red ochre paint. Also, typically blood that has aged for long periods of time will not be red but almost black in color which leads even further into the fake category.

So what evidence is there that leads me to think it could possibly be real? Well unfortunately there just isn’t anything that points me in that direction, everything I’ve read on the topic leads me to the assumption that it cannot possibly be a real shroud that covered a body in the times that Jesus was supposedly buried in it.

Some other issues with the claims include no mentions of the shroud existing until the 16th century. Proportions of the figure in the image are not accurate, the head is too big, facial features are not where they should be, the arms are different lengths, there is some overlap on the front and back images, and in the original story of the wrapping of Jesus’s body, they mentioned that there was a seperate cloth covering his face, so there wouldn’t even be this image of his face on the shroud.

So in the end I’m left with a bunch of doubt that this is a real fabric from the time it is supposed to be from, leading any rational person to see it as a faked token to attempt to further the cause and increase the faith of followers and potentially recruit new ones.

I hope this bit of information is satisfactory for you, if not let me know where you find flaws or missing information and I would be glad to fill you in with more details. But for now, I will move on to the next topic at hand.

The next stop on our journey is to the jungles and plains of northern Africa where the issue of monkeys and humans will have a simple, yet somehow not so obvious answer. So let’s break these questions down into simpler parts. If we come from monkeys… Let’s stop there. We don’t come from monkeys. “Come from” is kind of a strange way to put it, but we evolved from an ape. Same thing you might say to yourself, but no there is a difference, and actually a funny comic strip titled Ape not Monkey that I frequently read online. You should check it out sometime, lots of interesting stuff and quite funny.

So monkeys have tails, apes do not, that`s the basic easy answer for the difference. There are obviously some exceptions to that, but it keeps things simple. It`s kind of like mouse vs rat, some would argue they are the same, but they just aren`t. Both however are primates and mammals etc and you can continue up the ladder to vertebrates and so on. But for our purposes we don`t need to get that detailed. We evolved from an ape that was something like a chimpanzee/bonobo, but not them specifically. If you need a further explanation of how evolution and natural selection works, I can gladly fill you in, but through small steps, that ancestor slowly changed and progressed into different habits, sexual preferences, and abilities until early humans arrived. At the same time, there were other apes that went through different preferences, and habits and abilities etc and they evolved slightly different which is how all species develop. This is why you see different types of wild cats, wolves, horses, elephants etc. Some are very similar and some are very different, but all having a similar ancestor.

So far I`ve explained the coming from monkeys, or apes rather, but the next part of the sentence is still up in the air. Why are there still monkeys/apes? Well, I actually kind of answered that. The way animals evolve isn’t always as simple as one type of animal evolves into another. They actually split, which is why we refer to a tree when talking about the tree of life. Each time a species is introduced to something that changes the way they do something, that is where the split begins. It`s not usually something big like a fish with legs per se, but a fish with stronger than normal fins. That fish can now swim into shallower waters and still get back out to the deeper water without drowning it`s lungs with oxygen. Then that fish passes the genes on for strong fins and if that has a benefit, they will continue to pass this on until there are large amounts of them and something else comes along as another change and so on, and eventually there will be two or more groups of fish with differences that are vast enough to consider them different species. So ask yourself this, if sharks come from fish, why are there still fish.

This is a very brief explanation, so I hope you get what I`m trying to say, but the problem that people have and the reason we get this question alot is because people just don`t have a decent understanding of how evolution works. I find a lot of people think that big changes happen, like an ape had a human baby one day, but that`s not how things happen at all. Again, I am able to go into more depth on anything in there that you might be stuck with, or have questions about, but I didn`t want to write you a 50 page essay, it`s already long enough, and we still have bananas to go over. 🙂

So Bananas. I`m surprised you brought this one up. I have a friend on Facebook who actually is a big part of the reason I became a more public atheist, rather than live in the closet so to speak. His name is Brian Sapient, and he debated a man named Ray Comfort, and the famous Kirk Cameron a while back, and Ray is known as the Banana man because he says proof that all life is made by god is that the banana fits perfectly into our hands, or something along those lines. There are many issues with this way of thinking. The obvious one is that rocks too fit into our hand quite well, but we don`t see a McRock happy meal taking over the world. But in all seriousness, there are issues with this question.

Bananas are actually a type of fruit that don`t exactly represent their wild form. Go ahead and google wild bananas. I`ll wait……… Ok, now that you have washed the vomit from your mouth, imagine eating that nasty looking thing. It`s slightly different in size and appeal. The bananas you buy at grocery stores are perfected by modern mans agricultural skills. We`ve learned how evolution can benefit our own needs, and we learned this skill about 50,000 years ago which is about 44,000 years before god was supposed to create everything. So yes bananas may fit into our hand, but think of how illogical that statement truely is. If that were some kind of difinitive proof that god created everything, why are watermelons so darn big, why is the ocean salted, why are coconuts so hard, and you could also argue that we fit perfectly in an anacondas mouth, so we must be made to be food, so why bother waking up. Yes these are ridiculous statements, but that is how I hear that banana question in my head when I hear it. No offense to you, you didn`t make this argument, you just brought it up.

So I hope I have answered your questions well enough. If not, comment away, or inbox me or whatever you want to do and I`ll see what i can do to fill in the blanks. But mostly, don`t take any of this as an insult or negative toned message. I only speak for myself and how I view these issues. Many atheists likely agree with me, but I am in no way representative of all atheists. An atheist by definition is just a person who does not believe in any god or deity. I just take it a little further by adding all supernatural things until they can be proven real. I`d rather live in a world that I know exists, than to have to base my world on imaginary things and dreams.

Thanks for participating in this event. I appreciate it, and if you enjoyed reading this at all, or are interested in science or things of this nature, please follow my blog and participate in it whenever you can. I`m always looking for ideas to write about. I use it as an outlet, and to teach not just myself but interest others in the things that they may not know about or have the time to research on their own.

And now for my last question. It’s the big one.

How can I be 100% certain there is no god?

You can almost never be 100% certain of anything. Everything currently understood can be adjusted as new information becomes available. The basis of certainty in atheism is a personal justification that is different for everyone of us. We all have our reasons.

For me it is due to the lack of evidence. In my opinion, and many others, it’s not up to us to disprove the existence, it’s up to those making the claim to prove it does exist. And the other problem with the question is the problem of which god are you asking about. There are and have been so many that have come and gone as popular choices. We use gods to explain things we don’t understand and to make ourselves feel better about a scary world. We use them as a guide of how to be moral and we use them as a way out of a life of temptation. Whatever your choice of god is there just isn’t enough evidence that it does exist. With that said, that’s all there is to it.

So I do not really claim a full 100% certainty that there is no god. I’m somewhere around the 99.9999999% mark. If that leaves you unsatisfied, remember that 0.0000000001% of the vast universe is still a large possibility. But possibility is not fact.

The other reason I can be quite certain of many gods not existing is that they borrow their stories from older religions that have been outdated or forgotten for whatever reason. This is a big problem for me.

So again, it’s a lack of evidence. If I could prove once and for all 100% certainty, I would likely win a Nobel prize.

I hope you enjoyed this years post. I’d love to get back into this blog but I just need the readers and activity to keep me interested. So if you are interested in science, space, atheism, or even just movies, music or want to read something random, send me a message with an idea.

Thanks for reading.




2 responses

18 04 2013

Good post, to many people rely on “Faith” these days, pray for money, pray for a better job, pray they don’t get sick… Sounds lazy to me, you want a better job go bust your ass, don’t want to get sick take your vitamins and eat right… I am tired of the cop op of god willed it, its in hs hands, no your just to damn lazy to do anything about it! Sorry rant overtook me.

18 04 2013
A Dumb Ape

Lol it’s ok. Thanks for reading.

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