Category Archives: Athiesm

Announcing My New Book

 

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(click on the image above)

Take a look at my new book where I take on the Atheist-Darwin crowd.

It’s a quick read with lots of punch  — drop a comment back to let me know what you think.

 

Excerpt:

I remember those nights as a kid laying out in the backyard on a clear Montana night. Laying out in that mummy bag gazing in wonder at the night sky and … just thinking …

How many stars are out there? How big is the universe? Does it have an end? If it has an end … then what’s beyond? How did it get there? How did I get here? How can there be something that has no end? Are there answers?

I think most of us have had such nights, and for many of us such wonder continues …

I’m one of those whose mind seems never to stop with the wondering … I just can’t shut it off — not that I want too.

So this is a collection of thoughts, conversations and writings that I’ve collected over the years. Thoughts and study that go back many, many years. The pages to follow come from my thinking and study on these issues, from my blog and from internet dialogs I’ve had with various people, mainly commenters like myself who seem to be passionate about the same questions and issues. Many have quite the opposite views as me, but that’s OK.

Don Johnson – January 2017

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Books Every ‘Seeker’ Should Read

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(Click above to read the article)

A friend posted this article originally titled “26 Books Every ‘Spiritual But Not Religious’ Seeker Should Read.” I didn’t catch why she excluded “religious” seekers from her list. Nevertheless, a worthy topic, and one I would like to expand on to include this “seeker” – me – and a list of my own that have influenced me in my 73 years of life.

I will begin in my late teens when I was dating my wife of now 53 years. She was a Roman Catholic, and I thought if this young romance is to go anywhere, perhaps I should learn a little of her religion. I had little or no religious beliefs, let alone knowledge, but I did understand that Catholicism was the oldest religion, and therefore if there was a “true” religion, this was most likely it. I don’t recall thinking of the many other religions – Islam, Buddhism, Judaism … I wanted to know about the “real” one — I was a “seeker.”

So at the age of about 18 I frequented the local library and started to read about Catholicism. I have no recollection of the books I looked into, but suffice it to say that this brief experience began my life as a “seeker.”

A few years later I would fall under the influence of my girlfriend’s older brother – an Atheist. Gordon had a persuasive gift of gab, and me being a “seeker” he had a ready student and introduced me to Atheism and Existentialism, hence the first books on my list.

    • Why I Am Not A Christian  — Bertrand Russell.
    • No Exit  — Jean Paul Sartre
    • Being and Nothingness – Jean Paul Sartre
    • The Playboy Philosophy – Hugh Hefner

Skipping ahead a few years, married and back in college after a time working and a Navy tour, I read books like this one:

    • The Passover Plot  — Hugh J. Schonfield
      A book “debunking” the Jesus myth.

So during those years I guess I considered my “seeking” finished and I settled into a world view of evangelical Atheism – yes I was outspoken and mocking of all things religious.  I’m sure there were other books from that era, but I don’t recall. The ones listed above were certainly the most influential in my life.

So at a ripe old age of early twenties, I settled into my “know it all” world view of Atheism.  This lasted to age 36.

I’ll list the books that transformed my life (and that of my family as well) from that point on, beginning with the earliest:

    • The Late Great Planet Earth  — Hal Lindsey.
    • There’s A New World Coming – Hal Lindsey
    • The Rapture  — Hal Lindsey
    • Satan Is Alive and Well on Planet Earth  — Hal Lindsey
    • Others by Hal Lindsey

Lindsey’s books unexpectedly caught my attention when I innocently picked up his Late Great Planet Earth  book back in 1980. I thought I was going to read a fanciful yarn akin to Erich von Däniken‘s “Chariots of the Gods.” What I got instead was Lindsey laying out a case claiming that today’s current events line up with the prophetic Biblical writings of thousands of years ago describing the “last days” of planet earth. This was like getting hit upside the head with a 2×4 and got my attention and interest. 

Lindsey wrote his book in the 1970s in the midst of the Cold War  when the Soviet Union was a strong and prominent player on the world stage and Communism was on the march in many parts of the world. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, it appeared that Lindsey might be off the mark in highlighting Russia as one of the key players in the “end times” scenario. However, Russia is once more prominent as a world power, and in fact is now positioned in the Middle east (Syria) whereas it was not in the 1970s – something to pay attention too.   

There are many other thinkers and writers on Biblical Prophesy and I have read a number of them  — some good and others not so good (an exercise for the student?). But let me move on …

Lindsey’s books, along with my study of the actual Biblical passages he highlighted, launched me out of atheism and into Christianity. But I was a total rookie and had many questions and internal conflicts. The following are some of the books and ministries that helped this “seeker” through those oft-times confusing times.  

I could go on and on, but let me conclude …

During this period of seeking and growth back in the early 1980s, I actually did read the Bible through from cover to cover.  One of the surprises I found, as one of the worlds foremost experts in that book that I had not previously opened,  were the many  practical lessons useful for living a full life … how to be a better husband, father, friend, employee, boss, brother, son, citizen …

So I would encourage you as a fellow “seeker”, don’t stop at being just a “spiritual seeker”, but press on to seek the whole banquet that will fill that hunger within you.

 

Don Johnson – January 2017

 

 

 

 

Intelligent Design and the Manufacturing Process

In my working days we built a complex distributed system consisting of 4 subsystems distributed over a large geographical space,  interconnected with data links and including a subsystem containing a multitude of fast moving and maneuvering jet fighter aircraft.

In constructing these systems, we used a process called ‘Engineering Release (ER)’ where the various components of each subsystem, as well as the subsystems themselves, were released to manufacturing via a series of ‘Shop Travelers.’ These travelers contained detailed instructions on how the components were to be manufactured and assembled as well as a detailed parts list. 

When the manufacturing process was complete, the various components and subsystems were integrated and tested in a lab setting, and then deployed and tested on site for use by fighter squadrons.

Preceding all this of course was the necessary design work – a goal oriented, purposeful and intellectual expression of the vision of those who saw a need for such a system.

It would seem that the human cell operates on much the same scheme. A cell containing complete and detailed information describing an end product and the shop travelers that guide that cell to its final use as a heart muscle, bone brain and more.    

It’s called Intelligent Design (ID), and is the way all complex systems are constructed, whether they be human designed or the natural life we see all around us and within us.   To think otherwise is folly.

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Psalm 139
For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

1 You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you
knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand
when I awake, I am still with you.

19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Challenging Darwinian Evolution

Some of the fundamentals of Darwinian Evolution, as I understand it are:

  • The complexities of life we see all around us, and within us are assembled from the bottom up in a Natural Selection process which chooses beneficial mutations among a long series of such changes, while allowing less beneficial changes to wither away, or perhaps allowed to remain as flotsam or “junk.”
  • The resulting “designs” we see from such a process are merely illusions, the appearance of design … not actual design as we see in all of the human artifacts we dwell among such as the automobile and computers.
  • Evolution is said to be without purpose, without direction and without goals. What we may see as purpose, direction and goals are simply the result of the workings of natural processes – simply illusions of and the appearance of design,

So then why do we see purpose, direction and goals at every level of life – from the cellular level, to the systems level to the completed body plan?

We see purpose in the various machines and structures within each of several trillion cells in our bodies. We see the Kinesin motor transporting cargo from one place on the cell to another. We see the marvel of DNA which, coupled with other cellular components, represents not only a massive mass storage capability, but also represents a type of blueprint package defining all aspects of the end product body. This DNA package also contains what can be described as a complete set of “shop travelers” which, much like a manufacturing process, provides step by step instructions and bills of materials for the manufacture of the myriad parts making up the completed human body – bones, hair, brain, liver, eye, nose … and more.

And each of these subunits exhibits purpose — specific purpose.  What is finally assembled as an arm and hand for example, takes on a myriad of functional purposes such as accurately throwing a baseball, playing a musical instrument such as a violin and cradling a new born baby. Each of our vital organs play specific and necessary roles in keeping our body alive and functioning – there are goals and purpose expressed in each and every one of our body parts.

What we see and experience in the finished goal directed and purposeful human body is beautifully expressed in many ways, such as when we witness a magnificent choral and orchestral performance such as Handel’s Messiah. What we experience in that concert hall is not an illusion — it is real and is the culmination of a multitude of designs, both in the natural as well as the realm of human intelligence and ingenuity.        

About Those Self Driving Cars, Trucks and Buses

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We hear more and more about the coming of self driving vehicles. Some are already on the road, and at least one – a Tesla – has already killed its passenger.

It seems feasible, but just a bit on the scary side don’t you think?

So how do you envisage these self driving things are being designed and engineered?

Do you see a team of mathematicians, physicists and engineers applying the known laws of science and inventing the Google car or the Tesla self-driver?

I don’t see it happening that way. Oh yea, those smart guys and gals are certainly necessary and part of the teams, but I’d wager that the front-line designers are Intelligent Design biological scientists.

What?

Yea – and what they are most likely doing is studying – for example – How Hummingbirds Avoid Collisions. You see these small agile birds have been doing this for – who knows how long.

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But haven’t I been told for 150+ years now that “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution” And now you are telling me that Intelligent Design principles can be used to develop highly complex and sophisticated machines like self-driving vehicles?  

Exactly. It’s called biomimetics, which is the study of how nature accomplishes a wide variety of things, such that those same techniques and devices can be used for human benefit such as the self-driving car.

You can bet that if biology is a part of this new technology, evolution has no part in it. Nor is it likely that human ingenuity and brilliance alone will produce the final product that must be at least as good as the hummingbird.

Scientists, as shown in the article above, are studying this amazing design in nature, and it is likely that many are using these studies for applications such as the self-driving car.

Evolution? Could take millions of years and millions of trial and error deaths to evolve  the same product.

Why not use the same technique we often use in software development – stand on the shoulders of giants and reuse that which has been previously designed and developed?

 

Don Johnson – July 2016

Censorship in Academia

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Yesterday my wife and I attended a yearly gathering of about 500 middle school musicians and singers from around the state of Connecticut — our 13 year old granddaughter was among the 500.

My attention was especially drawn to the hands of the many participants and of the conductors. Watching the conductors leading the several choirs with many body queues, especially with hand and finger gestures was fascinating — as was watching the many hands and fingers producing amazing music as many fingers danced across the whole range of orchestral instruments. 
Truly an amazing day of talent and music as well as a fine demonstration of the wonders of the human hand.

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Now to put the above comments into context, I invite you to read the following:

http://www.evolutionnews.org/2016/03/mob_with_pitchf102658.html

http://www.evolutionnews.org/2016/03/censorship_in_r102659.html

http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/too-hot-to-handle-update-on-the-plos-one-paper/

A scientific study was made on the dexterity of the human hand. In the report, several references were made to “ .. the Creator.”

Much negative reaction ensued resulting in the paper being retracted.  The retraction was entirely due to the remarks referencing “the Creator”, and not disagreement with the technical content of the paper. 

The following are my remarks regarding the paper and its retraction.

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I find it entirely appropriate, and even commendable, that a group of researchers studying the intricacies of the human hand should (intentionally or not) credit the design they are trying to capture to a “Creator” and to ascribe the language of design to their model – the human hand … even in a so called “scientific” journal.

As far as I could tell, the end purpose of this study was for robotic or prosthetic purposes, and not to prove the existence of a “Creator.”

I read through many of the on-line comments to the PLoS ONE paper, and was appalled at the bigotry and small/closed mindedness of many of those professing to be the gate-keepers of this journal. It’s as if they have their heads inside a barrel with their fingers firmly stuck in their ears lest they hear the incessant drum beat of design coming from outside the barrel.

What I would suggest to these gate-keepers is to avail themselves of the many opportunities within their own campus and city to study first hand the beauty, adaptability and intricacies  of the human hand. Get out of the laboratory … get out of the lecture hall … get out of the book you are writing. Go to an orchestral and choir event. Go to a baseball game and witness the execution of that perfect double play. Go to a football game and watch that amazing throw and fingertip catch that wins the game in the final seconds. Go to a fine art museum and gaze at the fine paintings and sculptures created by those many human hands. Go to the surgical unit at a local hospital and watch the skilled and trained hands at work on needy patients. Go to you library and scan through some of the hand written manuscripts you might find there – and carefully look at and read the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence written carefully by human hands.

Then I would suggest a retreat back to the office, lab and lecture hall to ponder a bit:

1) Did I perhaps witness just a bit of that “divine foot in the door” in any of what I’ve seen around campus?

2) How many generations of folks like me before we stumble on the origin of the hand by evolutionary means? Will we ever even approach it?

3) About that report – it’s been retracted with seemingly little concern over the validity and/or use of the data and insights collected. Is it possible that some young enthusiastic researcher/engineer could have made use of the study in providing a somewhat useful hand to that wounded soldier? Guess that doesn’t matter as long as the feelings, yes feelings, of the Atheists is protected. 

  

 Don Johnson – March 2016

Neil deGrasse Tyson: Scientist or Ideological Propagandist?

Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of the latest pretty faces of Atheistic science.

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Smooth, attractive, well spoken, well educated (PhD), persuasive, great stage presence …

And a man of “cutsie“ statements like the following:

“I think of, like, the human body, and I look at what’s going on between our legs,” Tyson said. “There’s like a sewage system and entertainment complex intermingling. No engineer of any intelligence would have designed it that way.”

This is not an intelligent comment from a much educated man – or should we say a much indoctrinated man – but rather a shallow comment intended to influence and convince. In other words, it’s a statement of propaganda, and  this comment shows Tyson is a master of it.

This comment is not original with Tyson, and exhibits a desire to further an ideological and religious agenda, the agenda of Atheism. The attempted veneer of science and engineering falls flat when we take a deeper look at the human body and its design. Some examples:

  • Many of us have watched Olympic ice-skaters with admiration.
  • Or watched those incredible one-handed catches by NFL wide receivers.
  • Or stand in awe as that shortstop – second baseman – first baseman executes that perfect double play in baseball.
  • Or have attended that concert where we see and hear beautiful and inspiring music written by brilliant and talented composers, played and sung by talented and well practiced musicians on instruments designed and crafted by inventive designers.
  • Or have read or are reading one of those millions of books in the homes, bookstores and libraries around the world.
  • Or have designed or built many of those beautiful buildings many of us have visited and spent time exploring.
  • Or have taken part in the design, engineering and manufacturing of those many machines and software packages we use day-by-day in our everyday life.
  • Or have produced one of those spectacular movie sagas.
  • And no small matter – the human body is capable of reproducing itself, and has been doing so for as long as humans have inhabited the earth.
  • … and more …

No, an honest, thoughtful and  in-depth comment about the design of the human body would take a look at the total package and not set up a contrived straw man caricature of a few cherry picked parts of anatomy in an attempt to indoctrinate and propagandize. 

Properly restated, Tyson’s comment would be concluded by saying “No engineer of any intelligence could have designed it that way.” Tyson is no biologist of any sort, nor is he an engineer of any sort.

What Tyson is, is a man who has stayed way too long in the indoctrinating ivory towers of academia. A man with no real-world, hands-on experience in the design, engineering and manufacture of real world things. A man who has been drinking his own bathwater for years and desires to pass that bathwater to all who will listen, especially the young and impressionable.  

Don Johnson – November 2015