“You’re a wizard, Harry!” and other unforgettable moments from the Bible.

You're a Wizard Harry
1. “You’re a wizard, Harry!”
Who can forget that moment in the book of Mark when Hagrid revealed to the 11-year-old Harry that he’s a wizard? This was, I believe, a critical turning point in young Harry Potter’s life.

White Rabbit
2. “Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!”
In the early chapters of Exodus, Alice follows a white rabbit down a hole, thus starting her amazing adventure in Wonderland. It was that precise moment when the rabbit pulled out a pocket watch and exclaimed he was running late that truly piqued Alice’s interest and began her adventure.

Luke I Am Your Father
3. “Luke, I am your father!”
Though the evil Lord Vader was introduced as early as Genesis, it wasn’t until the book of 2 Kings that he was revealed to be young Luke Skywalker’s father. This was a shocking revelation even for those who had been following the story from its beginning.

Moby Dick
4. “Call me Ishmael.”
These were the first words uttered in the Bible, and still resonate with all of us to this day.

Nick Carraway
5. “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
The final words of the Bible, this quote reminds us that as we paddle furiously toward the future, the current always drags us back into our past. This is infinitely deeper when you consider that current also means present, and that present also means gift, and you should never look a gift horse in the mouth, and I think this is exactly what Nick Carraway meant about Jay Gatsby, though he recognizes its inevitability with all of us.

Motherfucking Snakes
6. “I have had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane!”
Oh Samuel L. Jackson. You won our hearts in Ezekiel 25:17 but it wasn’t until you uttered this phrase in the book of Malachi that we truly understood how you felt about all those snakes on that plane.

Donkey
7. “There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses.”
Speaking of Ezekiel, this gem is found at the 23:20 mark where we learn of Oholibah, the younger of two sisters, both engaging in prostitution from an early age. Oholibah enjoyed men with huge penises and who ejaculated a large amount of semen.

Scientific Progress Goes Boink
8. “Scientific progress goes ‘boink’?”
Ha ha! Remember when in Proverbs, Calvin invented a duplicating machine? So do I! And this line Hobbes utters when he activates the machine was an instant classic!

Beatles on Ed Sullivan
9. “Ladies and gentlemen, The Beatles!”
Probably the most memorable moment in the Bible was in the book of John when the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. This was a turning point not just in the history of rock n’ roll, but in American history as well.

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Christopher Hitchens dies at 62

Photograph by Gasper Tringale

“The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more.”

-Christopher Hitchens

13 April 1949 – 15 December 2011

Quotes

“Faith is nothing more than the license religious people give themselves to keep believing when reasons fail.” – Sam Harris, An Atheist Manifesto

“There is no society in recorded history that ever suffered because its people became too reasonable.” – Sam Harris, An Atheist Manifesto

“When we have reasons for what we believe, we have no need of faith; when we have no reasons, or bad ones, we have lost our connection to the world and to one another. Atheism is nothing more than a commitment to the most basic standard of intellectual honesty: One’s convictions should be proportional to one’s evidence. Pretending to be certain when one isn’t—indeed, pretending to be certain about propositions for which no evidence is even conceivable—is both an intellectual and a moral failing. Only the atheist has realized this. The atheist is simply a person who has perceived the lies of religion and refused to make them his own.” – Sam Harris, An Atheist Manifesto

“For those who believe in God, most of the big questions are answered. But for those of us who can’t readily accept the God formula, the big answers don’t remain stone-written. We adjust to new conditions and discoveries. We are pliable. Love need not be a command or faith a dictum. I am my own God. We are here to unlearn the teachings of the church, state, and our educational system. We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.” – Charles Bukowski

“A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.” – Albert Einstein

“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect, had intended for us to forgo their use.” – Galileo Galilei

“It is an interesting and demonstrable fact, that all children are atheists and were religion not inculcated into their minds, they would remain so.” – Ernestine Rose

“Fundamentalists are like the fir trees in German forests: they cannot stand alone, and are only stable when crowded together, branches locked with those of their brothers. That is why we must always fear them, because they will always hate us for our individualism.” – Brent Yaciw

“If I were not an atheist, I would believe in a God who would choose to save people on the basis of the totality of their lives and not the pattern of their words. I think he would prefer an honest and righteous atheist to a TV preacher whose every word is God, God, God, and whose every deed is foul, foul, foul.” – Isaac Asimov

“To say that atheism requires faith is as dim-witted as saying that disbelief in pixies or leprechauns takes faith. Even if Einstein himself told me there was an elf on my shoulder, I would still ask for proof and I wouldn’t be wrong to ask.” – Geoff Mather

“People will then often say, ‘But surely it’s better to remain an Agnostic just in case?’ This, to me, suggests such a level of silliness and muddle that I usually edge out of the conversation rather than get sucked into it. (If it turns out that I’ve been wrong all along, and there is in fact a god, and if it further turned out that this kind of legalistic, cross-your-fingers-behind-your-back, Clintonian hair-splitting impressed him, then I think I would choose not to worship him anyway.” – Douglas Adams

“I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.” – Richard Dawkins

“Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?” – Douglas Adams

“Debating creationists on the topic of evolution is rather like trying to play chess with a pigeon; it knocks the pieces over, craps on the board, and flies back to its flock to claim victory.” – S. D. Weitzenhoffer

“We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.” – Richard Dawkins

“The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason” – Benjamin Franklin

“I credit that eight years of grammar school with nourishing me in a direction where I could trust myself and trust my instincts. They gave me the tools to reject my faith. They taught me to question and think for myself and to believe in my instincts to such an extent that I just said, ‘This is a wonderful fairy tale they have going here, but it’s not for me.'” – George Carlin

“Properly read, the bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.” – Isaac Asimov

“It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.” – Albert Einstein

Quotes in Context (II)

Atheists often quote John 14:12-14 to point out how Jesus promises to make all your dreams and wishes come true. In it, he claims that anybody with faith in him need only ask for something in his name and it will be done. Here’s that verse again:

“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Fathher. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:12-14)

Yes, even I use it as a go-to verse. I’ve read my Bible and know what it says. And yet I’ve been told I’m using the quote out of context. So I thought to myself, maybe I’ll go ahead and read all of John 14 again to shed some light on this situation. What if I have been citing this quote out of context? Here is the full text of John 14:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will some back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

Jesus answered, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:1-14)

Nope, looks like I had it right. Once you can get around the fact that Jesus speaks like the Riddler (“I am the Father and the Father is me; you know where I’m going and the place where I am going is known to you; is he a bat or a man? A man bat or a bat man?”) you see he’s saying exactly what he appears to be saying in the final sentences of the verse. Only this time we know that when Jesus says “do what I have been doing,” he is referring to his miracles. Believe in Jesus, walk on water.

Quotes in Context (I)

The eye - irreducibly complex?

This is a new segment I’ve decided to call “Quotes in Context.” Here, we will post a quote out of context, explain how it can easily be used to deceive anybody unfamiliar with the quote or the topic it covers, and then proceed to round it all out by posting the quote in context.

Our first quote will be by Mr. Charles Darwin himself. Darwin, as we know, wrote a pretty famous book called On the Origin of Species, which sold out entirely during its first week of publication. His book was controversial at a time when people assumed science and gods could work hand in hand, but is now regarded as one of the most relevant and influential books in history.

The quote many creationists (those who believe their god snapped its fingers and created life on a whim) like to rely on is as follows:

To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.

-Charles Darwin

This is a dangerous thing indeed for the father of evolutionary theory to have said. What Darwin is referring to in this quote, without saying the words creationists have since coined for the term, is irreducible complexity – the notion that something (like the human eye) is so complex that it could not have possibly evolved. They claim that were a single part of the eye removed, it would be made entirely useless. Clearly Darwin is saying the same thing in that quote, taken directly from On the Origin of Species.

Clearly, that is, until you read the line immediately following that one:

Yet reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be shown to exist; if further, the eye does vary ever so slightly, and the variations be inherited, which is certainly the case; and if any variation or modification in the organ be ever useful to an animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, can hardly be considered real.

Layman’s terms: but if we were to prove the eye is not irreducibly complex, we would look for many other examples of less complex eyes in nature. We would also check and see if any slight modifications to the eye may make it more useful under any other conditions. First, examples of other, less complex eyes do exist in nature. Second, it is demonstrable that slight changes to the eye would benefit it under different circumstances. Therefore, what seems to be “absurd in the highest degree” is, in fact, quite simple to understand.

In other words, Darwin was raising the notion of irreducible complexity in the eye, only to then tear apart the popular creationist theory and prove that the eye is not, in fact, irreducibly complex. Creationists, however, love to ignore the second half of the quote and only talk about the first, claiming Darwin was actually on “their side,” and that he proved his own theory wrong.