Atheism and marijuana
Letter writer Porcupine’s recent write-up was more an atheistic polemic against Christianity in particular and theism in general than a counterargument against the biblical injunction on recreational marijuana.
The misandric tenor of the letter leads me to believe that the writer is female. Be that as it may, hardly anything was said in defense of recreational marijuana. Porcupine’s quote from famed theoretical physicist Albert Einstein about belief in a personal God being childish piqued my curiosity, because in Walter Isaacson’s “Einstein: His Life and Universe”, the famed physicist said the following on page 389: “There are people who say there is no God. But what makes me really angry is that they quote me for support of such views.” Like the noted Jewish-Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza, Einstein was a deist, although he was deeply influenced by atheist philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. To be sure, Einstein’s theology was convoluted, to say the least. He didn’t believe in free will, immortality or eternal judgment. Einstein was what you would call a determinist. Like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine, Einstein’s god was an impersonal force or being that did not intervene in this universe. Whatever Einstein was, he was not an atheist, although he tried feverishly to repudiate the clear implications of his groundbreaking general relativity theory by coming up with another theory, the Cosmological Constant.
One cannot conflate deism with atheism. Atheism is defined as the lack of belief in God, as per American Atheists. Medieval Catholic theologian Anselm defined God as “that than which nothing greater can be thought”. Granted, while Anselm’s ontological argument for the existence of God is deductive, it is, like Thomas Aquinas’ (a posteriori) “Efficient Cause” argument, insuperable. As Dr. Norman Geisler and Peter Bocchino stated in “Unshakable Foundations”, God is the “first cause” or uncaused cause, therefore it would be just as meaningless to ask how the color green tastes as it would be to ask when was God created.
Anyone who would ask such a question would be guilty of committing the infinite regress fallacy. Also, as Augustine once noted, there was no time before the creation of the universe. God dwells in eternity, where the physical laws of science do not apply. Consequently, it would be meaningless to ask what was God doing for billions of years before we came along. Seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years did not exist prior to Genesis 1:1.
Porcupine mentioned science as if it is pitted against Christianity and the Bible, apparently ignorant of modern science being birthed in the Catholic monasteries of Christendom Europe during the Middle Ages. Also apparently unbeknownst to Porcupine, Einstein’s general theory of relativity; as well as Hubble’s Law and the expanding universe; Arno Penzias’ and Robert Woodrow Wilson’s discovery of the cosmic microwave background radiation; and NASA’s Cosmic Background Explorer satellite data all corroborate the Genesis account of the beginning of space, time and matter. Atheist scientists have begrudgingly conceded the reality of a singularity in the distant past.
Moreover, the most fundamental law of physics, the second law of thermodynamics, corroborates the Fall in Genesis 3. This scientific law states that everything breaks down and tends towards disorder. That is why humans and animals grow old and die, and that is why Romans 8:20 says that creation has been subjected to futility.
Science, over the last two centuries, has only confirmed what Bible-believing Christians have known for thousands of years. As astronomer Robert Jastrow said,”For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak. As he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”
Bear in mind that at the time of the discovery of the cosmic microwave background radiation in the 1960s, two-thirds of scientists subscribed to Sir Fred Hoyle’s Steady State Theory, which is a repackaged version of Newtonian science and the cosmological theories of the ancient Greeks and Romans, Buddhism and Hinduism. What’s more, both Buddhism and Hinduism have been invalidated as true religions by cosmology, as both “posit endless cycles of time stretching into the indefinite past,” as per Dinesh D’Souza in his “What’s So Great about Christianity”. The Bible is not a science textbook. Its moral, civil and ceremonial laws are prescriptive; whereas scientific laws are descriptive. The Bible deals with both the phenomenal (physical) and noumenal (spiritual) realms of reality, to borrow two popular terms used by philosopher Immanuel Kant. However, science is strictly relegated to the physical or phenomenal realm. Porcupine mentioned a “long list of decent, moral, brilliant people who have rejected the notion of a god,” which may be a vintage case of argumentum ad verecundiam. I can list the names of many brilliant, decent, moral people who support my position, although Porcupine should know that one cannot validate a position by counting noses. During the time of Nicolaus Copernicus and Galileo Galilei, the overwhelming majority of Europeans accepted without reservation the geocentric cosmology of Alexandrian astronomer Claudius Ptolemy. Today, we know that heliocentrism is the correct model. My point is, counting noses does not mean that your position is correct.
And besides, some of the more brilliant minds in the history of science were theists. Science stalwarts such as Francis Bacon, Galileo Galilei, Blaise Pascal, Robert Boyle, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Michael Faraday, James Bovell, Gregor Mendel, Louis Pasteur, Nicolaus Copernicus and George Washington Carver are just few of the great scientists in history that embraced theism. Obviously, they saw no conflict between theism and science.
Let us now apply the popular Occam’s razor principle to this debate on God and atheism. For Porcupine, what makes more logical sense: the Genesis creation account of Adam and Eve, or the Darwinian evolutionary hypothesis of Homo erectus? What is more logical: macroevolution or microevolution? Some 134 years after the death of Charles Darwin, evolution continues to experience insurmountable hurdles. It is a theory filled with gaping holes. Human physiology with its intricate, complex design is a glaring indication that the theory of intelligent design is unassailable. One of the more vocal members of the so-called Four Horsemen of New Atheism, biologist Richard Dawkins, said the following in his 1986 publication “The Blind Watchmaker”: ‘‘There is enough storage capacity in the DNA of a single lily seed or a single salamander sperm to store the Encyclopedia Britannica 60 times over. Some species of the unjustly called ‘primitive’ amoebas have as much information in their DNA as 1,000 Encyclopedia Britannicas.’’ As an avowed atheist, Dawkins obviously understands the implications of the breathtaking complexity of human cells, hence his advocacy of directed pansmermia, a theory that says that extraterrestrial beings had transmitted organisms on earth. This theory was first proposed, I believe, by the late British molecular biologist Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA. Again, what makes more logical sense: extraterrestrials creating life or the biblical account of the creation of Adam and Eve? Using English philosopher William Paley’s teleological argument for the existence of God: suppose a person travels deep into the Amazon jungle and discovered a brand new Apple IPod, would he automatically assume that that electronic device was placed there millions of years ago by mother nature, or that an intelligent, sentient being placed it there? Or suppose he visited Saunders Beach and found scribbled in the sand in uppercase this message: “The FNM is the government”; would he automatically assume that the overlapping waves of the sea were responsible for that message or that an intelligent mind was?
Another thing, Porcupine, even Jesus of Nazareth believed in the historicity of Adam and Eve much the same way Bahamians believe in the historicity of Christopher Columbus, Edward “Blackbeard” Teach, Woodes Rogers and William Sayles and the Eleutheran Adventurers. In any event, science cannot disprove or prove the historicity of Adam and Eve, because historical matters cannot be examined under the purview of science. In this regard, Porcupine will have to objectively examine the historical records instead.
Porcupine, based on the tenor of her letter, is obviously morally outraged at the atrocities committed in the name of Christianity. I, too, am outraged when I read about the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Salem witch hunts and the executions of Michael Servetus and Giordano Bruno. Both Bruno and Servetus were executed for promoting theological heresies. Their executions had absolutely nothing to do with science, notwithstanding the revisionist
propaganda of American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson in a reboot of the late Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos”, which hailed Bruno as a martyr for science. The Catholic Church condemned Bruno because of numerous heresies he propagated. As for Servetus, he was executed by the Calvinists for teaching the antitrinitarian doctrine of Modalism.
As for the Inquisition, the Crusades and the Salem witch hunts, only about 200,000 persons were killed in these tragic events over a period of centuries. Conversely, atheist regimes have murdered 148 million human beings between 1917 and 2007, which is just 90 years. Atheists love to exaggerate the crimes of Christianity by inflating the casualty numbers, while conveniently ignoring the ‘democide’ numbers of the likes of Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler and Mao Zedong. A small fry like Cambodian dictator Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge communist administration murdered 2 million people between 1975 and 1979. That’s about nine times the number of persons killed by the church in its 2,000 years of existence.
In closing, the main bone of contention Porcupine has with my biblical worldview is that I dared to voice my opposition to recreational marijuana on biblical grounds. Once again, I believe science supports my position, as it also supports the biblical view of creation in the Old Testament Book of Genesis — a text that Porcupine scoffs as being a fairytale. I have elaborated in the past on the highly intoxicating tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) agent in marijuana. Like alcohol, THC impairs one’s judgment due to its intoxicating ingredients. Drunkenness is explicitly condemned by the Bible. First Corinthians 6:10 says drunkards will not inherit the kingdom of God. I have also elaborated on the many health issues associated with marijuana use. The Journal of the American Heart Association said that regular marijuana use can not only contribute to the possibility of a heart attack, but also heart rhythm disorder and stroke. The issue of recreational marijuana is not only a moral one. It is also a health issue. Therefore the Christian Council as well as the entire Christian community should oppose any move to legalize recreational marijuana.
— Kevin Evans