In Support of Bill Nye

On February 4th, science popularizer Bill Nye will debate Answers in Genesis CEO Ken Ham at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. The obvious topic: “Is creation a viable model of origins?”

bill-nye-ken-ham-debate-wide

Now, many atheists/anti-theists/secularists have voiced their opinions, debating whether it is a good thing for a science advocate to take on the current anti-evolution heavyweight champion of the world. I’ve read many of the arguments against Nye’s decision, most of them being:

  • Nye isn’t an evolutionary biologist.
  • Nye may not understand the creationist position entirely.
  • Never give a creationist the time or place to publicly display his foolish beliefs.
  • This is only a money-grubbing opportunity for the struggling Creation Museum.

I’m sure there are a few that I’ve missed. Not many support Nye’s decision to take on Ham. Surprisingly, I’ve noticed more Christians on Nye’s side, since many feel the creationist position is lush with stupidity and unneeded literalism. I also understand why he probably shouldn’t have readily accepted the debate. I see why many disagree, because they’re all valid points. The anti-evolution movement has no weight; it isn’t supported by the majority of scientific thinkers, no substantial amount of evidence has been presented to support their failed hypothesis, and it is an entirely faith-based claim. Since I first heard this was happening, I was in full objection. Nye remained silent on the subject until recently, explaining his decision to The Huffington Post. I watched the video in full length and reflected for some time.

And now I’m sympathetic to Nye’s decision.

Developing scientifically literate children is the key to our survival as a species. Standing against the opposition is an admirable position. I care deeply for the education of our youth, particularly those who’ve been lied to their entire lives in regards to the evolution of the biosphere. We atheists often say “tolerance is part of the problem.” By ignoring the creationist completely, isn’t that a form of tolerance? Nye isn’t particularly concerned with changing Ham’s mind, but this is what is important:

Creationism is an issue that we must argue and challenge without remorse, for the sake of our future.

In my experience, most who side with the anti-evolution community have never heard any of the arguments against their position. This will offer a great opportunity for Nye to reach an audience that many often fail to. No one is “too far gone” in their faith. Everyone has the ability to comprehend the truth of evolution and the positives of a science-based objective eye. Perhaps Nye is the right person to get that specific job done. How many times have we heard atheists say, “Books like The God Delusion and God Is Not Great got me to think a bit more critically about my faith and I soon found myself to be an atheist.” This could be another one of those instances.

All it takes is for one person to change a 1000 minds. Hell, they may only need to change one mind; a mind that could go on to change the entire world. These are chances we need to take because the fight against this ultimate stupidity is escalating. I have high-hopes for his presentation and I expect him to diligently tear down Ham’s arguments, which isn’t incredibly difficult.

Popular creationists often begin with an objection to our current scientific understanding. By creating a level of distrust, they have the opportunity to sneak in their ridiculous claims with crafty rhetoric. Nye needs to erase this level of distrust by doing what he does best: Promote science in an innovative and exhilarating way. If he can do that effectively, he deserves a nod. As Nye says, he was “challenged to a dual. What am I supposed to do?”

But I could be wrong. Maybe this will make the creationist look more credible than those who valiantly support evolution, and Nye could lose horribly. But I’m not a pessimist about this event.

So, I support Bill Nye.

And I invite you in joining me.

——-

The Huffington Post interview with Bill Nye

View the live debate on February 4th for free here.

Reviews for “Improbable: Is There Any Reason To Believe In God?”

Recently, two young authors offered well-written, wonderful reviews for my book. I’ve gotten to know them both – delightful gentlemen!

From Joshua Kelly, author of “Oh Your God!: The Evil Idea That Is Religion”

All the makings of a young Stenger – Brucker is doing something wonderful — continuing the logical argument debunking the idea of god or the supernatural. It may well be said that on the atheist side of the argument, we are specialized in two factions: logic and morality. While I and several others heatedly discuss the lack of virtue innate in faith, Mr. Brucker has joined the ranks of those who calmly but decisively cut down the incoherence of the idea of god with Occam’s deadly Razor and many other tools. Too many facets of this argument require specific and purposeful observation, and Brucker has done a great deal of the work for anyone who chooses to pick it up — splendidly, I might add.”

And from Matthew O’Neil, author of the coming book “You Say That I Am”

A Book for Those Coming to Terms – Brucker has put together a piece I would have been desperate to have as a newly deconverted atheist. I am more than inclined to agree with Kelly’s review, but add that Brucker is more than a Victor Stenger in the making. Brucker tackles more than cosmology – he touches on evolution, theology, and history all in short, concise chapters that are a pleasure to read and easy to follow and digest. I could only imagine Brucker fuming during Hovind or Ken Ham or Ray Comfort sound bites; in return, writing this scathing rebuttal to nonsensical questions about the origin of our solar system, our planet, our species, and even our own race [yes, this question has come up in these debates]. Brucker has well informed arguments that do not fall victim to fallacies appealing to emotion, groupthink, or authority. They are well reasoned with examples and studies, as well as references to thorough studies for further reading. If you are someone new to having lost your faith and want to prepare yourself for the conversations you will face by having understandable facts in hand, this is the book you need to read.”

Again, thank you both. It’s greatly appreciated!

You can buy “Improbable: Is There Any Reason To Believe In God?” on AmazonBarnes & Noble, and Tower Books.

Improbable

“Crucifying America” – Witty, Engaging, and Inspiring

9781908675200Many write about the evils of religion. Others write about the God hypothesis. CJ Werleman tackles the degenerating political system of America, threatened by the onslaught of religiously motivated and monetarily inspired men and women in his book “Crucifying America: The Unholy Alliance between the Christian Right and Wall Street.”

I will admit, before I found atheism and humanism I had little interest in the American government. After some time following and reading, I found something that was quite alarming. The Christian Right stunningly convinced Americans that the country’s roots were firmly planted in Christianity, completely defacing the secular foundations of America. Social and political commentators such as Madeline Murray O’Hare and Christopher Hitchens popularized the idea that the United States Constitution still existed, containing its secular tradition.

But that sometimes doesn’t matter.

The fat-pocketed Christian movement eventually won over the GOP. After that, the rest is history. What’s truly depressing is this: The typical American is unaware of the idiocy that exists behind closed doors. And Werleman delivers what every American should know. After reading this alarming book, it became quite clear to me that Werleman truly cares for America and where it seems to be heading. Not only does he eviscerate the GOP with wit and conviction, he calls for us to stand against this absolute evil before it’s too late.

Below, I will supply an excerpt from Chapter 12: They Want You Dumb. This happened to be the chapter I found the most entertaining – and I hope you feel the same!

In his book Amusing Ourselves to Death, the late Neil Postman wrote, “Americans are the best entertained and quite likely the least well-informed people in the Western world.” I believe Postman was a little too kind. I would argue that this generation of Americans is the dumbest and least intellectually inquisitive the Western hemisphere has ever seen, and I include Tasmania, Australia. But our collective dumbness is just the way the corporate elite would like us. You see, the goal of anti-intellectualism is to oppress political dissent and, in the Christian Right, corporate interests have again found the perfect partner to help them in their goal of cutting taxes, opposing green initiatives, expanding oil drilling, increasing military spending, and eliminating benefits for the working class.

Now that the Christian Right has seized control of the Republican Party, up is down, and down is up. Black is white, and greenhouse gases are good for the environment. In fact, intellectualism, thinking, and facts are sneered at as if they were a pedophile moving into the apartment next door. Nobel Laureate economist Paul Krugman wrote, “Know-nothingism – the insistence that there are simple, brute-force, instant-gratification answers to every problem, and that there’s something effeminate and weak about anyone who suggest otherwise – has become the core of Republican policy and political strategy. The party’s de facto slogan has become: ‘Real men don’t think things through’.”

The GOP’s primary process to choose its nominee for the 2012 election revealed to the world just how far the party had been pulled to the right by religious conservatives, asthe party base and its leaders openly mocked education, and successfully turned “intellectual” into a generic slur. In fact, GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, who would only later lose the nomination to Romney because of a lack of cash, called President Obama a “snob” for saying he wanted all Americans to have access to college.

The collective policy announcements of the 2012 GOP contenders amounted to, in terms of substance, a race to the intellectual bottom. Absent details, facts, and independent enquiry, the candidate’s respective hashed out social and economic policies were no more than emotion-driven bumper stickers, and at complete odds with reality. Pizza delivery CEO Herman Cain called for a 9-9-9 tax, which would only reward those at the top, while punishing everyone else in the middle and at the bottom, and would fail to balance a budget. Michele Bachmann said the HPV vaccination causes “mental retardation”. It does not! Newt Gingrich’s solution to immigration is a double electrified fence on the Mexican border. Rick Perry said he’d get rid of three government departments but could only name two of them. When asked how he’d handle foreign policy better than Obama, the Texas Governor criticized the President, “Well, I wouldn’t try to outsmart everyone in the room.” Ron Paul said we can solve all of America’s problems by getting rid of every single federal government institution. What he would suddenly do with nearly 5 million government employees he didn’t say. Nor did he answer how, in turning all power back to the States, he would be able to stop Republican controlled states re-enacting Jim Crow laws and establishing laws to award the death penalty to doctors that perform abortions. Newt Gingrich’s solution to high levels of black teen unemployment was to make them janitors.

The only true moderate Conservative in the GOP race was former ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, who mocked his fellow candidates, “To be clear, I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.” So, while Huntsman cast a lonely figure when it came to climate change and evolution, let’s see what his Republican opponents had to say:

• Michele Bachmann: “Carbon dioxide is not a harmful gas; it is a harmless gas… And yet we’re being told that we have to reduce this natural substance and reduce the American standard of living to create an arbitrary reduction in something that is naturally occurring in the Earth.”

• Herman Cain: “I don’t believe… global warming is real. Do we have climate change? Yes. Is it a crisis? No. … Because the science, the real science, doesn’t say that we have any major crisis or threat when it comes to climate change.”

• Ron Paul: “While it is evident that the human right to produce and use energy does not extend to activities that actually endanger the climate of the Earth upon which we all depend, bogus claims about climate dangers should not be used as a justification to further limit the American people’s freedom.”

• Rick Perry: “I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling in to their projects. I think we’re seeing it almost weekly or even daily, scientists who are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change.”

• Mitt Romney: “Do I think the world’s getting hotter? Yeah, I don’t know that, but I think that it is. I don’t know if it’s mostly caused by humans…What I’m not willing to do is spend trillions of dollars on something I don’t know the answer to.”

• Rick Santorum: “I believe the earth gets warmer and I also believe the earth gets cooler. And I think history points out that it does that and that the idea that man, through the production of CO2 — which is a trace gas in the atmosphere, and the man-made part of that trace gas is itself a trace gas — is somehow responsible for climate change is, I think, just patently absurd when you consider all the other factors, El Niño, La Niña, sunspots, moisture in the air … To me, this is an opportunity for the left to create — it’s really a beautifully concocted scheme because they know that the earth is gonna cool and warm.”

On evolution, the candidates had this to say during the campaign:

• Michele Bachmann: “I support intelligent design. What I support is putting all science on the table and then letting students decide. I don’t think it’s a good idea for government to come down on one side of scientific issue or another, when there is reasonable doubt on both sides.”

• Ron Paul: “I think there is a theory, a theory of evolution, and I don’t accept it. … The creator that I know created us, each and every one of us and created the universe, and the precise time and manner … I just don’t think we’re at the point where anybody has absolute proof on either side.”

• Rick Perry: “I am a firm believer in intelligent design as a matter of faith and intellect, and I believe it should be presented in schools alongside the theories of evolution.”

• Mitt Romney: “I’m not exactly sure what is meant by intelligent design. But I believe God is intelligent, and I believe he designed the creation. And I believe he used the process of evolution to create the human body … True science and true religion are on exactly the same page. They may come from different angles, but they reach the same conclusion. I’ve never found a conflict between the science of evolution and the belief that God created the universe. He uses scientific tools to do his work.”

• Rick Santorum: “I believe in Genesis 1:1 — God created the heavens and the earth … If Gov. Huntsman wants to believe that he is the descendant of a monkey, then he has the right to believe that — but I disagree with him on this and the many other liberal beliefs he shares with Democrats. For Jon Huntsman to categorize anyone as ‘anti-science’ or ‘extreme’ because they believe in God is ridiculous.”

Now, these are the leaders of the Republican Party appealing to the base – the Christian Right, so imagine how much further the rank and file of the GOP are from accepting science and fact. You get people like Delaware Senate hopeful Christine O’Donnell who said, “If evolution is real, how come there are still monkeys?” Well, Christine, education is real, and there are still morons.

Now, the purpose of this chapter is to not argue the merits of evolution or climate change, because if you don’t accept both, then you probably wouldn’t be reading this book. Also, I’m not a scientist, so I will leave it to the “snobs” as Rick Santorum calls them, or professors as I call them, to explain the robustness of scientific rigor. The objective is to show how the anti-rationalism and anti-intellectualism of the Christian Right, the core of the Republican Party, is fostered and encouraged because not only does it suit the interests of corporations, but it also poses an indelible threat to our democracy.”

You can find CJ Werleman’s “Crucifying America” in paperback here or in Kindle here. You can also follow him on twitter here.

Forum Debate!

Hello everyone.

I will be taking part in a 2 hour moderated forum debate, arguing for the proposition:

“This house believes that the Christian god almost certainly doesn’t exist.”

Hosting the debate will be the forum AtheismAndSecularDebate. Taking place on January 9th, 2014, I will be joining ElijiahT (Christian apologist with a background in biology and philosophy) as we discuss the probability of the Christian god’s existence. I’ve read some of his work from his blog – it’s well written and concise. He seems to have an interest in science so I’m interested in how this debate will unfold. My book primarily argues against a literal interpretation of scripture (I also believe that, if one chooses to be a particular theist, a literal interpretation is necessary to understanding the commandments of an omniscient god – but I’ll get into that later!) and from what I’ve gathered, he doesn’t seem to follow such a belief (but who does anyways, right?). Regardless of our positions, it should prove interesting none the less. He seems eager for discussion and in my experience, those willing tend to contribute positively to the conversation.

The debate can be found here. The debate begins at 6:30 pm US Central time.

ElijiahT can be found on Twitter and you can also follow his blog here.

Hating on Faith

Recently, I published a comment on Twitter that read:

Faith’s a virtue? Wrong. Believing claims based on bad evidence isn’t commendable, it’s an insult to the human intellect. #Atheism

I received a number of re-tweets and favorites, but only one comment. It read:

@jdbrucker : Faith is idealistic, which is commendably virtuous. Quit hating. Empiricism isn’t commendable; it’s limited by human reality.

I wanted to elaborate a bit on what he said. So, faith is idealistic and commendably virtuous? Is Empiricism commendable and is it limited by human reality? First, I want to define faith. This being from the Oxford Dictionary:

Noun
1. Complete trust or confidence in someone or something:
“This restores one’s faith in politicians”
2. Strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.
“A system of religious belief: The Christian faith.”
“A strongly held belief or theory: The faith that life will expand until it fills the universe.”

Both would apply to the modern theist. Having complete trust in their religious figure-heads (pastors, priests, rabbis, the pope), reinforced by the doctrine of their identified religious institution. Is this trust founded on confirmatory evidences? No, it’s founded on one’s understanding of a spiritual reality – a reality that isn’t verifiable through scientific means. Convenient, isn’t it?

So it all goes back to how precious empirical truth is to someone. But the tweeter suggests that empiricism isn’t commendable, and fallible because it’s only conceivable by human means. Surely it’d be a different story if there were empirical evidence for the truthfulness of any particular religion. Sadly for them, there isn’t. What’s left is having an unwavering trust in what the religion teaches and preaches. This seems to be the dividing line between theism and atheism; whether there is good reason to have a trust in something of that nature. This is what I’ve attempted to explain in my book. Forming a belief on little demonstrable, universal data isn’t a good thing and as I’ve already said, it’s an insult to the human intellect. Much of the religious doctrines believed today have either been significantly proven  false or discredited to a certain point. Even a moderate belief in God carries unverifiable claims that hold little weight in scholarly debate. This is why most atheists “hate” on faith; it would force them to believe something that hasn’t been universally demonstrated to be correct.

Faith is often used as a tool by the theist in debate. They sometimes try to analytically demonstrate why atheists have faith in everyday happenings, somehow attempting to rationalize their own flawed faith. For instance:

  1. Atheists have faith that the sun will rise everyday.
  2. Atheists have faith their car will start.
  3. Atheists have faith in evolution.
  4. Atheists have faith in their spouses.

I have to say, faith doesn’t apply here.

  1. Much is known of the orbital sequence that our Earth shares with the Sun and with that knowledge, we can reasonably conclude that the Sun will rise tomorrow as it did this morning. 
  2. I will develop a scenario for the car-faith claim: Presumably, we start our vehicles everyday. It started the last time we drove it and it was in working order. There was an adequate amount of gas in the vehicle. Nothing is presently leaking out from underneath the vehicle. It’d be reasonable to conclude that, because of the confirmatory evidence, the vehicle will start. 
  3. Evolution is understood as the most likely cause of the diverse life on Earth. This conversation is like beating a dead horse. The information is there, the evidence (genetic and paleontological) is there, the science is there – Go take a look. 
  4. No one can anticipate the actions of others. In my case, my wife and I have a mutual agreement: If we choose to cheat, end the relationship before it occurs. I know it’s entirely possible for her to cheat and if she does, I will deal with it accordingly. It’s not faith, I entirely accept the likelihood.

If one wants to be rational, faith is useless. Having faith in a religious claim doesn’t require confirming, universal information to reinforce it. It doesn’t demonstrate validity in any correct way, it simply asks you to suspend your questioning faculties to believe.  I’m unwilling to do so, because I value analytic data and the education there of – something that is proven to exist. So, that is why I hate on faith.

Official Release – “Improbable: Is There Any Reason To Believe In God?”

My book is officially available for purchase on Amazon. It’s been an amazing journey, and it’s only just beginning. Below you’ll find the back cover description:

Throughout the course of human civilization, individuals have given themselves the duty of committing immoral acts in the name of the Abrahamic deity simply because they have been convinced or convinced themselves he is real and that he has their personal well-being in mind. But do these people have good reason to believe he exists or is indoctrination and the blind eye to blame? This book answers the key questions regarding the improbable existence of the God of Abraham:

  1. Do scientific facts support the idea that mankind is a product of a single supernatural and transcendent being? 
  2. Has biological life on Earth evolved from a single celled organism or was it intelligently designed?
  3. Can neurology, sociology, and psychology answer questions regarding religious experience?
  4. Is the God of Abraham omnibenevolent, portraying and prescribing a moral code one should expect from such an all-loving being? 
  5. Does morality have a spiritual basis or could the foundation have been poured into our species long ago through natural processes? 
  6. Does religious scripture ignore or support the scientific understanding regarding the creation of the cosmos?
  7. Are the foundations of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam of a divine origin or the products of man-made mythos?
  8. Does the historical record reinforce the existence of Jesus and Moses as described in the New and Old Testament? 

Refuting the God of Abraham through science and reason will undoubtedly spark the much needed epoch humanity must reach before we can call ourselves a rationally-mature species. This accomplishment lies in the hands of the undecided, those unwilling to believe but not yet ready to leave their faith behind. Before settling on faith, one must ask themselves a simple question: “Is there good reason to rely on faith, or could more fulfilling answers loom near?”

Thanks to everyone who’s supported this project. You can find the book on Amazon by clicking here. Clicking on the image on the right will also link you to the product page.