Beliefs Challenged

An Atheist’s Acceptance that God is Love

By Chad Greenslade

 

A few days ago, I watched a video that made me think for a second about being atheist.  The premise was simple.  They likened DNA to a book.  They placed an actual book in the hands of an atheist and asked the atheist, “Do you think this book could have materialized out of thin air?”

 

Of course the atheists replied, “Absolutely not!  A book cannot magically appear out of thin air.  Someone must have made it.  Someone must have made the paper, made the ink, created the language, pictures, etc., required to physically produce the book.  A book clearly has a creator.”

 

Then, the narrator goes on to explain how DNA is the instruction book for every living thing on this planet, and how every living thing, when it comes time to make a cell for a certain function, refers back to it’s DNA book in order to produce the cell to the correct specification.  The narrator got the atheist to agree that DNA is a book, and then re-presented the atheist’s previous conclusion that a book must have a creator.  All of the atheists interviewed were speechless.

 

So, I thought about this.  I thought about this in the context of religion, science, evolution, the age of the universe, and my limited but interested, understanding of chemistry, physics, space and time.

 

My initial rebuttal is that comparing a physical book to DNA is false equivalence.  A physical book simply cannot be the same thing as DNA.  After all, DNA is a chemical; it’s an acid.  But apparently, in that acid sits a code, and that code can be compared with a book that has three billion pages.  For humans, 99% of those three billion pages are the same.  The remaining one percent makes up the differences between you and me.  The other three billion pages are reserved for every other form of life that exists on this planet.  So, when you think about it like that, simply denying that DNA is a book is not enough to justify mine, or anyone else’s, atheism.

 

After my initial rebuttal, I thought some more, and here’s where the “DNA is a book” analogy breaks down, at least for me.

 

I’ve observed every living thing on this planet have defense mechanisms.  These mostly biological responses serve to protect an organism, and in certain situations, other organisms like them.  We see protective responses all the time.  In animals, we see them when mothers care for their young, and when species live in packs.  We see plants chemically warn other plants of impending destruction.  None of these living organisms has a god, none of these organisms stand to benefit by recognizing that there is a god, and none of these organisms will ever think about being punished by a god.

 

From the Miller-Urey experiment in 1952 that proved amino acids can be built from inorganic precursors while simulating the conditions of early Earth, to the Abiogenesis theory that that the transition from non-living to living entities was not a single event, but an evolutionary process of increasing complexity involving molecular self-replication, self-assembly, autocatalysis, and ultimately the emergence of cell membranes, it’s clear that electricity, a natural phenomenon, jump-started, and was later harnessed by, molecular self-replication (a.k.a. “life”).  At a sub-atomic level, molecular self-replication used electricity to assemble a chemically-encoded instruction set for how it came to be, and how it could continue to be.

 

This chemically encoded instruction set was “the book”.  So what created the book?  It’s simple.  It’s obvious.  It’s the only answer that’s ever stood the test of time, and probably ever will stand the test of time.  We did.  Life did.  It’s always been us.  It’s always been life.  The book was required for life’s self-preservation.

 

When I set this theory against the backdrop of time and imagine the elements forming organic compounds in a primordial soup, chemically instructed at a sub-atomic level to preserve themselves, to look after each other, aging, evolving, using new materials and chemically recording their experiences, given the vast expanse of time and space (Earth is 4.53 billion years old), I can see how the book accumulates three billion pages.

 

I think it was slow at first and probably suffered some setbacks, but with electricity (lightning) as the catalyst for the specialized chemistry of carbon and water, building largely upon four key families of chemicals (lipids, carbohydrates, amino acids, and nucleic acids), after one billion years, these organic compounds began manifesting their destiny.  With enough time, they’ve recorded enough intelligence in their chemistry to animate themselves and evolve in many different directions, resulting in an explosion of life in the oceans.  Within the first billion years of Earth’s history, life appeared in the oceans and began to affect Earth’s atmosphere and surface, leading to the proliferation of anaerobic and, later, aerobic organisms.

 

Some geological evidence indicates that life may have arisen as early as 4.1 billion years ago. Since then, the combination of Earth’s distance from the Sun, physical properties and geological history have allowed life to evolve and thrive. In the history of life on Earth, biodiversity has gone through long periods of expansion, occasionally punctuated by mass extinctions. Estimates of the number of species on Earth today vary widely; most species have not been described.  More than 99% of all species of life forms, amounting to over five billion species that ever lived on Earth, are estimated to be extinct.

 

But I digress.  This post is not necessarily about theories on the origins of life, but more about disproving the existence of god.

 

Look, I get it.  People need spirituality to feel connected.  A feeling of connectedness is how we reproduce.  Often, people need to feel that someone somewhere is looking out for them, preserving them.  This, innate, biologically-encoded ideal is the origin of the god construct that has plagued humankind’s psyche since the beginning of their existence on this planet.  We only have it because our brains are evolved enough to operate above an instinctual level.  This has freed our mind to wonder, and for early humans to derive supernatural explanations for the unexplainable.  These leftover supernatural explanations gave rise to modern day religion.

 

So what is god?  God is a defense mechanism.  It’s a defense mechanism we construct for ourselves, in order to feel connected, to feel preserved.  But, if defense mechanisms come from a chemically-encoded instruction set for how a being came to be, and how it continues to be, it can be argued that the innate feeling of preservation for ourselves and others, is the real defense mechanism, and that “God” is merely a figment constructed by the conscious mind.  What else do we call it when we take action to preserve ourselves and others?  Love.  We call it love.

 

That same feeling, that same energy, that drives us to hug our family and friends, to pamper our pets, and to water our garden is the same energy that pushed the building blocks of life, all those eons ago, to band together and simply look after one another, to take care of each other, so that it, whatever “it” was, could continue.  Over time, life came to realize “it” as reality.

 

You don’t need a deity to mask your love.  You don’t need a deity to justify your love.  You don’t need a deity to augment your love.  You are able to generate the same amount of love with or without your idea of a god.  Love is not simply a feeling; so much as it is the actions you take from those feelings.  If there’s a universal force, it’s undoubtedly electricity, a predictable and sometimes controllable physical phenomenon.  Once that force jumpstarts the reaction, self-preservation, or love, is what sustains it.  The explanation of god begins and ends with love.  At least the bible got that part right.

Cutting the Cord on Cable Television Service

Using an Over-the-Air & Internet Streaming Solution

By Chad Greenslade

If you are looking to cut-the-cord on your cable television provider, I can’t recommend enough a solution consisting of an over-the-air antenna combined with a smart TV streaming box.

I have been using the following solution for over two (2) years.  Prior to implementing this solution, I was paying AT&T U-Verse approximately $250 per month for television and (terrible) DSL-based Internet service.  Now I pay SuddenLink $90 (+ tax) each month for their 1Gbps Fiber-Optic Internet service only.  I do not pay for television service.

For my over-the-air television service, I installed the “EXTREMEtenna 80” ($109) external television antenna (https://www.channelmaster.com/Digital_HDTV_Outdoor_TV_Antenna_p/cm-4228hd.htm) on my chimney.  If you live in an HOA, you’ll want to get pre-approval to install the antenna.  I also installed the “Titan 2 High Gain Preamplifier” ($69) (https://www.channelmaster.com/TV_Antenna_Preamplifier_p/cm-7777.htm).  The amplifier is mounted onto the antenna.  I hired Eddie Banegas of “Digital TV & Media Services” (http://digitaltvandmediaservice.com/ (469) 855-0707) to install the antenna and amplifier and run coax cable to my “OnQ” wiring distribution box located in the laundry room.  It cost me $420 to have the antenna & amplifier installed.  I now have over-the-air HDTV service to every room with a coax outlet.  I get over 100 HDTV channels, including the major ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX affiliates.

For my Internet streaming service, first it’s imperative that you have high-speed Internet.  For me, AT&T U-verse’s DSL-based service didn’t measure up.  While I could use AT&T U-verse’s DSL-based Internet service for Netflix and Hulu (because both of these services dynamically optimize for lower bandwidths), using a Smart TV streaming box was out of the question.  Once I was able to get 1Gbps (gigabit) service to my home, the Smart TV streaming box performed much better.

Another item to keep in mind with Internet streaming is that a wired connection is better than a wireless connection.  You’ll want to force the devices (Televisions, Smart TV boxes, etc.) that are involved in video streaming to use the wired connection.  In my home, I have COAX (television) and Category-5 (CAT-5) (data) outlets in every room.  The data outlets are the ones to use for streaming.  The wires for the outlets terminate in a distribution box located in my laundry room.  The Internet service also comes into the house at this distribution box.  In order to distribute the Internet service to every room in the house, you’ll need a “switch”.  There are many makes & models to choose from, but I recommend a 1Gbps (gigabit) switch containing as many ports on it as you have rooms in your home with a data outlet.  For me, I have a 16-port, 1Gbps switch ($80) installed in the distribution box in my laundry room.  This provides wired Internet service to every room in the house.

Once you have wired Internet service to your room, you’re ready for Internet streaming.  Many of today’s “Smart TVs” can be connected to the Internet directly using either a wired or wireless connection.  Again, use a wired connection for the best, most-reliable results.  Smart TVs generally come pre-loaded with one or more streaming “Apps” such as Netflix, Hulu, etc.  Use these apps as you normally would.

Now, what about premium channels and content such as HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, ESPN, CNN, etc.?  This is where the Smart TV box comes into play.  If you’ve plugged your TV directly into the Internet using the data outlet in your room, you’ll first need to “split” this connection so that the TV can access the Internet alongside the Smart TV box.  To do this, again you’ll need a “switch”.  The switch you use in the room does not need to be as big as the one used in the distribution closet.  Whereas the switch in my distribution closet contains 16 ports, switches in my bedroom or media room only contain 4 ports ($40), or 8 ports ($65), depending on the number of devices in the room that need to access the Internet.  Again, you’ll want these switches to be 1Gbps (gigabit).

For the Smart TV box itself, I highly recommend the Kodi box.  They can be purchased at www.xbmcmart.com.  They generally only have a few models available and any one of them will work.  They range in price from $100 to $165 each.  There is no monthly subscription charge.  You’ll get access to virtually everything on television.  Now, one thing to keep in mind is that you are watching “streams” of video and each “stream” is only as good as (1) the person (connection) uploading the stream, and (2) the person (connection) downloading / watching the stream.  Not all streams are created equal.  Some uploaders have limited bandwidth and your bandwidth will directly impact the quality of your experience.  This is why you must have extremely good Internet service.  I own two Kodi boxes; one is installed in my media room and the other is installed in my bedroom.  Both perform great.  There will be a little bit of trial-and-error involved as you learn how to operate the Kodi box, but rest assured, you’ll figure it out.  The menus are intuitive and no prior experience is necessary.  Each Kodi box comes with a remote.  I do not recommend purchasing the mini-USB keyboard remote from xbmcmart; it’s a piece of crap and there are better options available on Amazon.

Lastly, I don’t have DVR (digital video recording) capability.  With the setup above, I have found it to be obsolete since virtually everything is on-demand.  Now, if you want to purchase a DVR box for over-the-air recording, be my guest.  Channel Master has some great options available.

Good luck!