An Atheists’ Manifesto.
Not all atheists are created equal, if you will excuse the pun. I will only speak for myself, and not others. I made my decision when I was a very young man, but only after great studying, and the understanding of both sides of the issues. My Father, a great man, had the foresight to teach me both aspects…creation and evolution. Some say the two can be combined, but I don’t agree. I was raised Lutheran, went to Sunday school and church every week. I have also read the Bible cover to cover twice in my life. My father also introduced me to the scientific explanation of the universe, the big bang theory and evolution, and left the choice to me.
Different from other atheists, I don’t have an ax to grind. I don’t preach my beliefs, nor force them on anybody. Some believers wrongly assume atheists’ are the scourge of the earth, manifesting immorality, and reining religious impurity. I am not like that…I live by my own rules, not by some mythical gods. I am compassionate, loving, helping, and caring to everyone I know or meet. And actually, I highly respect those who have chosen faith, creation, and God. I feel it is the individual right of every person to believe what they want, and I embrace all beliefs. I don’t call out to believers to “prove God exists”, however, just like some believers, I have 100% conviction on my beliefs.
I am writing this very condensed version of my beliefs only to document them, not to argue against anybody, but I will be happy if it propels you to think;
In the Beginning
There was light. You bet there was! About 14 billion years ago, all the matter in the universe collapsed upon itself at one single point. The resulting energy from such gravity and pressures resulted in the largest explosion ever conceived…this was the Big Bang, and the universe (space and time continuum) was instantly born.
From there, nature’s law and gravity took over. As the matter spread out and cooled, gravity attracted huge clumps together, and the stars and galaxies were formed. We are still expanding today…everything moving away from each other like raisins being baked in a loaf of bread.
At some point, everything will momentarily stop, then reverse, and collapse on itself again. Here’s some interesting thought…this may not have been the first Big Bang. It most likely has happened before, perhaps millions of times, and will most likely happen again, perhaps millions more.
The vastness of the universe is incomprehensible to many. Here is the famous Hubble 7 day exposure deep space shot into an insignificant part of the sky. Keep in mind, this shot is the amount of space, equal to holding a dime up to the sky at arms length. As you can see, it shows at least 10,000 galaxies. Now try to wrap your head around this…at about 300 billion stars per galaxy, that would equate to 3 to the 18th power, or, 3,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars, all cable of sustaining planetary life, all in the space equal to the size of a dime at arms length. The total size of the universe? It would take light, traveling at 671 million miles per hour, 28 billion years to cross it. Pretty staggering, wouldn’t you agree?
Our solar system was formed about 4.5 billion years ago, when our mother star, the Sun, threw off matter into space. Some of that matter clumped together to form large objects, and through gravity, gathered more matter, and fell into orbit around the Sun. Earth, one of at least 7 other planets, was a fast spinning, hot molten oblong ball. This oblong spinning ball separated at one time…the smaller ball, became our orbiting Moon.
As the larger portion cooled, it formed an atmosphere. This atmosphere, lighter gasses held down by the planets gravity, trapped in the Earth’s most vital substance…water. Without water, there would be no life. The Moon did not have sufficient gravity to hold its gasses, thus, like some other planets, its atmosphere was whisked into space.
After 1 billion years of plate tectonics, and cooling, abiogenesis created the required amino acids into the formed water, thus, life is born.
Single celled bacteria were the first simple life, and through biogenesis in the proverbial “Primal Ooze”, the cell multiplying begins, starting the evolutionary process, and the beginning of the Cambrian period (Paleozoic Era).
Life forms evolve and branch out. Jellyfish and invertebrate fish appear.
Early plants reach land during the Silurian period.
By the Devonian era, they are abundant.
During this period vertebrates started to invade land. The first being amphibians.
This started the Mesozoic era (age of the dinosaurs). Early dinosaurs evolved in the Triassic era, and the first “mammal” appeared at this time.
The Jurassic period followed, and the first birds like the Archaeopteryx appeared.
Then the Cretaceous Period, which brought us our friend, the Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Dinosaurs ruled the earth over these periods for over 150 million years. The mammal had evolved into a creature similar to a small mouse or shrew. They evolved to be nocturnal, as they were generally prey for the larger reptiles, and were borrowing creatures.
Then, 65 million years ago, the K-T event (most agree it was a comet strike), and the dinosaurs rapidly disappeared, however, the lowly mammal survived. This started our last period, the Cenozoic era, and the climate was warm, and this opened the doors for the mammal to “come out” from it hidings, adapt, and rapidly evolve.
Time has been on our side. If it hasn’t been for the millions and millions of years to allow evolution, none of us would have been here.
So “Mankind”, by sheer chance, almost never even made it at all.
Man, for better or worse
The mammal evolution was in full gear, and the branches of the evolutionary tree were growing. For the next 60 million years, all of the animal species we know today were formed.
The earliest hominid, Ardipithecus ramidus, it is dated at 4.4 million years ago. The fossil remains suggest it was bipedal and about 4 feet tall. The remains also suggest that ramidus was a forest dweller.
Australopithecus anamensis, lived between 4.2 and 3.9 million years ago. Its body showed advanced bipedal features, but the skull closely resembled the ancient apes.
Australopithecus afarensis lived between 3.9 and 3.0 million years ago. It retained the apelike face with a sloping forehead, a distinct ridge over the eyes, flat nose and a chinless lower jaw. It had a brain capacity of about 450 cc. It was between 3'6" and 5' tall. It was fully bipedal and the thickness of its bones showed that it was quite strong. Its build (ratio of weight to height) was about the same as the modern human but its head and face were proportionately much larger. This larger head with powerful jaws is a feature of all species prior to Homo sapiens sapiens.
Australopithecus africanus lived between 3 and 2 million years ago. It was also bipedal, but was slightly larger in body size. Its brain size was also slightly larger, ranging up to 500 cc. The brain was not advanced enough for speech. The molars were a little larger than in afarensis and much larger than modern human. This hominid was a herbivore and ate tough, hard to chew, plants. The shape of the jaw was now like the human.
Australopithecus aethiopicus lived between 2.6 and 2.3 million years ago. A sagittal crest is a bony ridge on the skull extending from the forehead to the back of the head. Massive chewing muscles were anchored to this crest. Brain sizes were still about 500cc, with no indication of speech functions.
Australopithecus robustus lived between two and 1.5 million years ago. It had a body similar to that of africanus, but a larger and more massive skull and teeth. Its huge face was flat and with no forehead. It had large brow ridges and a sagittal crest. Brain size was up to 525cc with no indication of speech capability.
Australopithecus boisei lived between 2.1 and 1.1 million years ago. It was quite similar to robustus, but with an even more massive face. It had huge molars, the larger measuring 0.9 inches across. The brain size was about the same as robustus. Some authorities believe that robustus and boisei are variants of the same species.
Homo habilis was called the handy man because tools were found with his fossil remains. This species existed between 2.4 and 1.5 million years ago. The brain size in earlier fossil specimens was about 500cc but rose to 800cc toward the end of the species life period. The species brain shape shows evidence that some speech had developed. Habilis was about 5' tall and weighed about 100 pounds. Some scientists believe that habilis is not a separate species and should be carried either as a later Australopithecine or an early Homo erectus. It is possible that early examples are in one species group and later examples in the other.
Homo erectus lived between 1.8 million and 300,000 years ago. It was a successful species for a million and a half years. Early examples had a 900cc brain size on the average. The brain grew steadily during its reign. Toward the end its brain was almost the same size as modern man, at about 1200cc. The species definitely had speech, but did not posses language, but rather the ability to make sound. Erectus developed tools, weapons and fire and learned to cook his food. He traveled out of Africa into China and Southeast Asia and developed clothing for northern climates. He turned to hunting for his food. Only his head and face differed from modern man. Like habilis, the face had massive jaws with huge molars, no chin, thick brow ridges, and a long low skull. Though proportioned the same, he was sturdier in build and much stronger than the modern human.
Homo sapiens (archaic) provides the bridge between erectus and Homo sapiens sapiens during the period 200,000 to 500,000 years ago. Many skulls have been found with features intermediate between the two. Brain averaged about 1200cc and speech was indicated. Skulls are more rounded and with smaller features. Molars and brow ridges are smaller. The skeleton shows a stronger build than modern human but was well proportioned.
Homo sapiens neandertalensis lived in Europe and the Mideast between 150,000 and 35,000 years ago. Neandertals coexisted with H.sapiens (archaic) and early H.sapiens sapiens. It is not known whether he was of the same species and disappeared into the H.sapiens sapiens gene pool or he may have been crowded out of existence (killed off) by the H.sapien sapien. Recent DNA studies have indicated that the neandertal was an entirely different species and did not merge into the H. sapiens sapiens gene pool. Brain sizes averaged larger than modern man at about 1450cc but the head was shaped differently, being longer and lower than modern man. His nose was large and was different from modern man in structure. He was a massive man at about 5'6" tall with an extremely heavy skeleton that showed attachments for massive muscles. He was far stronger than modern man. His jaw was massive and he had a receding forehead, like erectus.
Interesting, the Bible says man was created in God, image…I wonder which one?
Homo sapiens sapiens first appeared about 200,000 years ago. Modern humans have an average brain size of about 1350 cc.
The culmination of man's evolution was Homo sapiens (archaic). It has been downhill ever since. He was straight and tall, muscular, hardened and practical, with almost a full size brain, the result of four million years of evolution. Humankind was now a veteran of millions of deaths and countless hardships, with a population so small that mutations spread rapidly. His gene pool had little variability. Natural selection (death and misery) had kept him pared. Only the strongest, the most cunning, and the most stubborn survived.
Then came modern man (human), an anticlimax, about 120,000 years ago. From this point on his inventive mind would devise method after method to ease his lot. He would remove his enemies without compassion. He would learn to enslave other animals and even other men. He would greedily take from the world around him and from those who were weaker. He would make his life easier, and evolution would degrade him to match. Humans are now on a course of destroying the planet…raping the planet of her resources with virtually no regard. Did you now humans are the only species on the planet, that knowingly kill their own?
Even if there was a God, I’d be ashamed of his work.
And here we are today. Intelligent? Yes, the most so on the planet, but are we special or unique? No, I don’t think we are…just another random barbaric life form on a very small and insignificant little blue marble we call Earth.
Man, like every other life form, will perish. It’s not a question of “if” it’s “when”.
Is there other life out there?
While intelligent aliens that look like little green men running around the galaxy makes for good movies, the fact is there is a very complex equation that needs to be made for life to exist on a planetary level, let alone, for complex life to develope. Life may, or may not be complex. It also may not evolve, all depending on the environment. Some people have made up numerical odds based on the requirements to sustain life, but they vary wildly, so I’m not going to list them. Besides, odds are just a mathematical formula explaining probability. We put astronomical odds on things we do every day, but invariably, things happen.
The Drake equation specifically addresses the probability of life in our own galaxy, and it states;
N = the number of civilizations in our galaxy with which communication might be possible;
R* = the average rate of star formation per year in our galaxy
fp = the fraction of those stars that have planets
ne = the average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets
fℓ = the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop life at some point
fi = the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop intelligent life
fc = the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space
L = the length of time for which such civilizations release detectable signals into space.
And remember, this formula is just for our own galaxy. If you were to change “R*” to reflect all the galaxies in the universe, it would not only show life was certain, but in abundance as well.
Ill revert back to the Hubble photograph showing 3,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars in a space as big as a dime held at arms length. And don’t forget how long it takes life to evolve considering the age of the universe. Timing also plays a strong role. Some civilizations are just starting. Others have lived their span and are gone. Just like all civilizations, we have a “life”…a beginning, and an ending. To me, the answer is an obvious one…it’s not a matter of “if” it’s “where” and even “when” there is other life.
Besides, we already know life can form in our universe…we are here.
I also think it’s arrogant for any man…an insignificant being, on an even more insignificant hunk of rock, given the sheer vastness of the universe, to claim we are alone and the whole universe was made for us, is diluted at best.
The phenomenon of religion. Believer or not, it has been responsible for more deaths, wars, and the falling of mankind than any single venue. Even today, humans are targeted for their religious beliefs. But that aside, we know what religion is, but how did it originate?
I find it interesting that man would not even be here, if it weren’t for a comet strike that killed off 80% of all other life. I also find it interesting that the universe is 14 billion years old, but modern day religion didn’t rear its head until about 10,000 years ago. The answer seems to simply answer itself…man created religion.
For thousands and thousands of years, man has worshiped Gods. The ancient Egyptians had many Gods. Islam’s worship Allah, and Christians’ worship the father of Jesus Christ referred to as “God”
I have friends who are both devout Christians and Muslims. Both, with 100% conviction say their God is the only “real” God. So who is right? I’m not going to get into the futile arguments on that, or even why God, or the creator, doesn’t show himself, that is not the path I’m taking here, but rather share my beliefs on how religion started, and I’m going to keep it very simple, and I’ll use the Christian God for my observations.
Modern man has been around for about 120,000 years, so why did God revel himself only about 2000 years ago? The answer is simple…it only happened when man became self aware, and had the communication skills to share ideas, then possess the intellect to ask the biggest proverbial question of all time…”Why are we here?” Without the understanding of the cosmos, and the science we have today, through attrition, they really understood only one theory…creation. They then deemed there was a creator, and they named him “God”.
Here is a chart showing the evolution of mankind based on fossilized remains. The red line (which I inserted) is when believers claim mankind was created. Quite the disparity, wouldn’t you agree?
“I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” – Stephen Roberts
I’m not going to nit-pick about the inconstancies in the Bible…I am not here to attack it, however, believers will tell you that you can’t take it literally. I sometimes wonder which parts I shouldn’t take literally…some of it? All of it? Curious thing indeed.
“Properly read, the bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.” Isaac Asimov
Once man had the intellect (but not the science) to ask themselves where they came from, the only answer was creation. The scholars and nobleman of the time began writing “books” about this God, and published them together. Now don’t get me wrong…I don’t think the bible is “made up”…I believe the writers truly believed in what they were writing. I also believe there was a man called Jesus Christ, however, I do not believe he was special in any way. I also do not believe any of the miracles cited in the Bible.
So how does one come to believe in God? That answer is a simple one too. Indoctrination. And who does the indoctrinating? The parents/peers do. And who does the child trust the most in his life? Again, the parents. Our parents teach us that we are created, and God is the creator. They teach us to answer to him, and he is responsible for everything in your life. They teach if we want something, we must pray to him to get it.
This indoctrination went on for thousands of years, this is why Christianity is so entrenched in our society.
“The vast majority of personal religious beliefs can be accurately predicted based solely on the beliefs of one's parents or the culture one is raised in.” John Brice
Think about it…how would you know anything about any God if you grew up on an island alone? Since you can’t talk to God, and he can’t talk to you, you would never even know about him. This is where the Muslim/Christian correlation comes into play…each one claiming his God is the only one. So a Muslim who believes in Allah, thinks everybody else who doesn’t believe is “wrong”. Same goes for Christians…anybody who doesn’t believe in their God, is “wrong” also. So who is right? The answer is neither…religion is simply a taught myth.
“Everyone is born an atheist, born without the belief of a god. Belief of a creator comes later after your family and community has had a chance in indoctrinate you into whatever religious tradition you have the misfortune of being brought up in.” Richard Dawkins
Christians say you must have faith to be a believer, however, I have observed many different reason for having religious faith. Some are afraid of their God…that they will be punished if they don’t believe because that’s what their parents taught them. Others hold onto religion as a security blanket, all too afraid to accept we are alone. Still others, afraid to speak out to their true feelings due to negative stigma from friends and family. The common denominator here is clear…its fear.
More and more people are leaving the ranks of religion in favor of evolution. Still others try to combine creation and evolution, which is fine, however, does not fit in the Biblical sense.
“We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.” Stephen Hawking
“It is not as in the Bible, that God created man in his own image. But, on the contrary, man created God in his own image.” Ludwig Feuerbach
The theory of religion went uncontested for thousands of years, simply because we didn’t have any other explanation for our existence. Today, specifically over the last 100 years, science has given us a much clearer picture. Newton’s theory is now law. Einstein’s theory, while expounded on, is still the corner stone on how the cosmos interacts. Hawkins, Sagan, and many others have done great observations and studies contributing to evolution.
Charles Darwin has in effect, proven evolution through his studies in natural selection. The scientific community and much of the general public came to accept evolution as a fact in his lifetime. However, it was not until the emergence of the modern evolutionary synthesis from the 1930s to the 1950s that a broad consensus developed that natural selection was the basic mechanism of evolution. In modified form, Darwin's scientific discovery is the unifying theory of the life sciences, explaining the diversity of life.
The fourth largest island in the world, Madagascar, also reflects the applied science. Some 88 million years ago, it separated from Africa, and because its evolutionary process developed isolated from the rest of the world, this piece of isolated land mass has over 1000 species of animals only to be found there.
Further studies and observation of the cosmos, and proven data from astrophysics, has all supported evolution to the point that it cannot be discounted.
Science explains everything.
I feel the scientific, tangible and physical evidence, that supports no deity was involved in the beginning, the formation of our universe, and the evolution of man, outweighs the evidence that a magical person in the sky simply “made” everything from nothing.
It’s an obvious conclusion…god(s) did not create man, rather, man created god(s).
Thanks for reading, but please remember, these are my personal beliefs, and I want to reiterate, I respect all people beliefs, and their right to choose what to believe. I respect those who have faith for their God, and will defend anybodies right to worship as they see fit.
Christopher K. Greenhalgh, Atheist.