How We Know the Bible is True part 1

My wife got baptized at church today and she invited me along. It just happened that the topic of the sermon was “how do we know the Bible is true” (paraphrasing). As the preacher, Dennis was giving the sermon, I took a few notes and I wanted to respond to a few of the points that were made.

Claim – The Bible is true because it’s historically accurate

Response – Saying that the Bible is historically accurate because it names some actual places is like saying that Harry Potter is real because some of the story takes place in London.

Claim – 500 people saw the resurrected Jesus!

Response – Dennis didn’t really source this during the sermon but I believe that the source of this of information is from 1 Corinthians 15:6:

6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.

So, the Bible is true because it’s historically accurate. We know it’s historically accurate because 500 people saw Jesus resurrected, it says so right here in the Bible. 😐 I hope I don’t have to explain how that’s circular logic and why that makes the claim suspect.

Claim – No Archeology digs have falsified the bible.

Response – This is not true. Exodus 12:37-38 says  37And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children.  Archaeological evidence of the largely indigenous origins of Israel is “overwhelming,” and leaves “no room for an Exodus from Egypt or a 40-year pilgrimage through the Sinai wilderness.” (source). At the very least, there is no evidence in the archaeological record that supports the idea of a mass exodus of 600k+ people from Egypt during that time frame.

Claim – The Bible is scientifically accurate!

Response – No, I don’t think this is right. Here are a couple examples:

Leviticus 11:6 says that rabbits chew their cud when we know that they do not:

 6And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.

Leviticus 11:13-19 appears to say that bats are a type of bird, when modern science knows them to be a type of mammal:

13 ‘And these you shall regard as an abomination among the birds; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, the vulture, the buzzard, 14 the kite, and the falcon after its kind; 15 every raven after its kind, 16 the ostrich, the short-eared owl, the sea gull, and the hawk after its kind; 17 the little owl, the fisher owl, and the screech owl; 18 the white owl, the jackdaw, and the carrion vulture; 19 the stork, the heron after its kind, the hoopoe, and the bat.

Claim – Using world is flat argument to support idea that Bible is scientifically accurate.

Response – I believe he supported this idea by quoting Isaiah 40:22:

22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.

A circle isn’t a sphere. It’s flat and round like a pancake. In Job 38:14 the earth is described like a clay seal:

14 It takes on form like clay under a seal,
And stands out like a garment.

Check out the image to see what a clay seal looks like.

I find this specific topic a bit frustrating though as it was the church that found Galileo “vehemently suspect of heresy” and then he was forced to recant, and spent the rest of his life under house arrest. So the modern day preacher gets to sit there and say that science was wrong about a flat earth, when in fact Galileo, who was known as ‘father of modern observational astronomy”, the “father of modern physics”, the “father of science”, and “the Father of Modern Science”, was persecuted and tried by. the. church for trying to tell the world what we know now is true today. The irony!

There were more claims but I think I’ve already addressed the low hanging fruit that proves without a doubt that the last claim, There is nothing that isn’t true in the Bible, is flatly false. They weren’t able to finish the sermon this week so I’m pretty tempted to go back next week in order to get the rest of the claims… we’ll see.

I hope you don’t get the wrong idea about what I’m trying to do with this post. People’s personal faith is their business. Believe your beliefs because they make sense to you or it makes you feel good. Think of what the Bible says as analogies or allegories if you want but when somebody stands up and makes verifiably false claims, I’m not one to just sit by and let those go by without comment. All the people at the church want to believe what Dennis is saying. The problem is that what he was saying today is plainly false.

Stick with positive messages, support them with scripture if you must. But you’re not going to convince people like me who care about science that the Bible is scientifically accurate. Your target audience, my wife, doesn’t really care much about the scientific details so what’s the point?

My thoughts on the presidential election cycle

Edit: 02/08 11:58 – Added link for Santorum wants to impose ‘Judeo-Christian Sharia’

Melissa’s blog post And I Approve this Message, has inspired me to type up my own thoughts on the current presidential election cycle.

Full disclosure: I’m a pretty liberal person on social issues. I pro-choice, pro-marriage equality/gay rights and I’m against the death penalty and I’m sex positive. I have just a smidgen of libertarian sprinkled in as I think drugs should be legalized and I don’t believe the US should be the world police. On fiscal issues, I don’t have a really strong opinion. I don’t think the country should be run like a business (share holders making profits???) and I think trying to simplify something like the largest economy in the world by comparing it to a household budget is a gross oversimplification and just doesn’t work. Generally I like the idea of paying as you go but I think there is something to the idea that it’s cheaper now than ever to borrow money and the US needs to invest in infrastructure… especially transportation infrastructure that isn’t related to cars. So anyhoo… onto the election!

President Obama

I voted for President Obama and I was happy to do so. I really thought he would bring the change he campaigned on. I believe he had the best of intentions and truly wanted to bring change but I think the system is bigger than a single president. An example that comes to mind is President Obama’s desire to close Gitmo. I believe the President wanted to get it closed but just couldn’t get it done because of Congress. I’m not saying Congress has all the blame because a great president can figure out a way to get shit done. I’d say 30/70 is the percentage of blame on that one with the President having 30% blame.

I have three main complaints about President Obama.

  1. President Obama isn’t liberal enough. He’s basically a 90’s Republican in my mind. I think he should do more on social issues.
  2. President Obama is no different than President George W. Bush on foreign policy. He basically followed President Bush’s plan on withdrawing from Iraq and even ramped up the war in Afghanistan.  Related to this issue is President Obama’s continued support for things like the Patriot Act, indefinite detention etc.
  3. President Obama gives up too much to the Republicans. In his attempts to be bipartisan, he tries to negotiate but just ends up looking foolish and weak to the tea party obstructionists in the House.

Governor Romney 

I don’t have a real strong opinion on Governor Romney. I just think he’s a fair weather politician, saying whatever he needs to say in order to win votes. Yes, a lot of politicians do that but he does it to the extreme. If you compare his policy stances when he was governor of Massachusetts to his stances now, they’re pretty different. Massachusetts is a liberal state so he has to say the correct things. Appealing to the “base” during a presidential election means he has to be more conservative so he’s changed his views on things like health care and abortion in order to appeal to the wacky people. I think Governor Romney is the least evil GOP candidate. On the plus side, at least he’s not anti-science (evolution/global warming).

Senator Santorum

Rick Santorum is bat shit religious crazy and I could never vote for him. His views on family, gays, gay rights, abortion and religion are all wrong wrong wrong. The fact that he’s been able to win some of these Republican primaries is disturbing to me. Here is an example of his lunacy:

The Santorum controversy arose over Republican former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum‘s statements about homosexuality and the right to privacy. In an interview with the Associated Press (AP) taped on April 7, 2003,[1]and published April 20, 2003, Santorum stated that he believed mutually consenting adults do not have a constitutional right to privacy with respect to sexual acts. Santorum described the ability to regulate consensual homosexual acts as comparable to the states’ ability to regulate other consensual and non-consensual sexual behavior, such as adultery, polygamy, child molestationincestsodomy, and bestiality, whose decriminalization he believed would threaten society and the family, as they are not monogamous and heterosexual.

For a chuckle check out Campaign for “santorum” neologism. Will give you a back story of how santorum is defined as the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the by-producte of anal sex.

Santorum is anti-science too. Also, Santorum wants to impose ‘Judeo-Christian Sharia’.

Scary dude!

Newt Gingrich

His lunacy seems self evident to me. Moon base. Need we say more? The guy is so out of touch and is just making crazy wild promises that have zero chance of becoming reality.  I think he’s just trying to sell more books.

Congressman Ron Paul

Ah, good ole Ron Paul. There was a time in my life that I supported Ron Paul. I think of it like experimental gay sex in college.  There are a few ideas that are very appealing to me… his ideas of personal liberty and a modest foreign policy are still super appealing to me; it’s just all the other crazy shit that ruins it.

I think his views on economics are every bit as bizarre and extreme as Michele Bachmann’s views on the Rapture and Rick Perry’s views on Social Security. Changing to the gold standard and abolishing the federal reserve would send the global economy into a depression that hasn’t been seen in our lifetime.

There is this idea that the government itself is bad and evil and incapable of doing anything but I flatly disagree with that thinking. Yes, business is able to manipulate the government and our laws in such a way as to give themselves an advantage and we have to guard against that. We don’t need less (or more) government; we need better government. We need better regulation.

Ron Paul is also anti-choice and anti-science (evolution).

On the modest foreign policy bit, I used to be 100% on board with what Ron Paul wants, a non-interventionism policy and no nation building but I’ve been reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and I feel my thinking on that topic shifting a bit. There were several opportunities for Great Britain, France and Russia to stop Hitler before he really got going (when Germany reoccupied the Rhineland and when Germany occupied Austria) but they didn’t. I’m betting a President Ron Paul would have played that exactly the same way.

In conclusion, when I vote for President Obama in the upcoming election, I’ll mostly be voting against whichever Republican manages to be crazy enough to become the GOP nominee.

My First Tattoo(s)

I finally got my first (and second) tattoo over the past week. It’s something I’ve always been interested in doing but I’ve waited because I knew that once I got started, I’d have to get tattoos until I was covered.


I got my first tattoo on Wednesday February 1st down at Studio 819 in Cookeville, TN. Jen and I actually got matching tattoos! As you can see in the image, it’s a heart with a star in the middle and we got them on our inside left wrists.

Obviously, the heart represents our love for each other and it’s on our left wrist because it’s the arm closest to the heart and our wedding bands.

The star represents a song that we were listening to when were first seeing each other. Instead of being your typical love song, it’s a southern rock song and it really captured my feelings about her and our budding relationship.

Yeah, the whole thing is pretty cheesy, top to bottom but we own our cheesiness. I love Jen more than anything and I’m glad we were able to get the tattoos together.


I got my second tattoo at Icon in Nashville and it’s of an archaeopteryx fossil. I’m an atheist and I enjoy talking about evolution and religion with people of different view points. A common argument from religious people is that there are no transitional forms in the fossil record.

My tattoo is a shout out to the ridiculousness of that claim. Archaeopteryx is clearly a transitional form between dinosaur and bird. It has dinosaur like features (teeth and a bony tail) and it has bird like features (feathers!).

Plus, I think it looks pretty cool!

Death and dying

I learned last night that a twitter friend of ours, Rhonda Hitchcock (@RhondaUSA), passed away on Monday. We weren’t very close but we exchanged tweets about technology occasionally.

Rhonda was only 40 years old and that really struck a cord with me because I’m 39 this year. That makes me feel pretty panicky because there’s a lot that I still want to do in life.  I might go to sleep tonight and not wake up. I’ll have never lived in Nashville or tried to live the urban lifestyle I want to try and live. I would have never of went to Europe, or tried to hike the  AT or get back into cycling… well you get the picture.

Several weeks ago I came across an article, Bonnie Ware: Top 5 Regrets of Dying, which immediately came to mind when I heard this news.  I can tell you, that even as a 38 year old, I have the same #1 regret. I wish I could live more true to myself instead of the life others expect of me. For the majority of my life, I’ve been pretty self sacrificing… I think a lot of men think they’re supposed to be that way in order to be considered a man.

My main take-aways are:

  1. Practice saying no – I’m going to try and be less self sacrificing. I’m going to do the things that interests me, even if that means that might inconvenience other people.
  2. Be happy and find joy in the things that I am able to do – Yeah, driving 4 hours a day sucks but if I’m always day dreaming about the life I don’t have, the life I do have will pass me by.

It’s cliche to say, but life is truly short. I’m going to endeavor to live my life more like I’ve always wanted. I encourage you to do the same.

Michael Harley’s Resume

Michael Harley



To build great SharePoint applications and websites that make people happy.

Summary of Qualifications

  • 15 years of broad based experience in the IT field providing support for users, servers, networks, and printers in the manufacturing, telecommunications and corrections fields.
  • 5 years of experience in installing, configuring, administering, maintaining and troubleshooting Microsoft Office SharePoint Server on Internet Information Services, Windows 2003/2008/2008 R2.
  • 2 years of experience using SharePoint Designer to help business users create and deploy custom list forms to meet business needs including the designing and building of  custom SharePoint Designer workflows.
  • Solid understanding and experience with HTML, CSS, XML/XSD, XSL/XSLT, Powershell & JavaScript.

Professional Experience SharePoint Administrator, Corrections Corporation of America–August 2010 to Present

  • Responsible for the systems administration of the CCA SharePoint Intranet. Activities include SharePoint system administration, patching/upgrades, configuration, security, site monitoring and performance tuning, migration of files from share drive to SharePoint library and support. Works with members of the technology team and other departments to define departmental intranet sites.
  • Successfully migrated existing Windows 2003 Server infrastructure to Windows 2008 R2.
  • Suggested and then implemented changes to the SharePoint farm infrastructure to make the farm more highly available.
  • Integral part of developing and launching the Employee Portal project for CCA. Project launched successfully and on time.
  • Successfully launched an external version of the Employee Portal on short notice with tight deadlines.
  • Twice nominated for Q4 2011 employee of the quarter for outstanding customer service.

IT Administrator, Cricket Communications-June 2002 to August 2010

  • SharePoint Administrator for Cricket’s portal implementation. Activities include SharePoint systems administration, patching/upgrades, configuration, security, site monitoring and performance tuning
  • Technical lead on Cricket’s Microsoft Forefront Antivirus conversion.  Converted 5000+ workstations from existing CA ITM anti-virus to Microsoft Forefront Antivirus.
  • Technical lead on Cricket’s Microsoft Systems Management Server 2003 initial deployment and maintenance.
  • Technical lead on SMS package deployment in the company.
  • Technical lead on Cricket’s CA ITM antivirus conversion. Converted 3000+ workstations from the existing, ePolicy Orchestrator anti-virus package over to CA ITM.  This project includes anti-virus coverage (installation and updates) for 3000+ workstations and 100+ servers covering 50 cities across the US.  Technical responsibilities include installation, maintenance and updates of the server side software and client side software/DAT updates.
  • Lead technical member for Cricket’s Divar installation support.  This involves supporting and maintaining the DVR based security system for 140+ Cricket locations.
  • Awarded numerous Cricket Stars for superior customer service to users.

Network Administrator, Crossville Rubber, Inc.-February 1997 to June 2002

  • Responsible for support of network servers, switches, hubs, routers, network printers, server software applications and operating systems.  Including maintenance and troubleshooting of the companies MRP application (Fourth Shift) as well as supporting handheld RF based scanner units (Intermec 2400’s) and thermal transfer label printers (Intermec 4420’s and 3400’s).
  • Successfully planned and implemented the migration of the companies Windows NT 4.0 domain structure to Windows 2000 Active Directory.
  • Implemented Windows 2000 Terminal Services to support the remote offsite location.
  • Successfully migrated the company’s production and engineering databases from MS Access 97 to MS SQL Server 7.0.

Training and Certifications

  • SharePoint 2013 Deployment and Upgrade (06/27/2013)
  • Windows Powershell: Powershell v2 Essentials
  • Microsoft Certified System Engineer (MCSE)

Why I’m an atheist

I enjoy talking about religion in general but a few specific events are prompting this blog post. First, my wife has recently been getting more involved with her church and we’ve been hanging out with her church friends, so church and religion and God has been a topic of conversation around here. Second, my daughter’s boyfriend asked her why I didn’t believe. Finally, one of my friends recently asked me why do I care about religion if I don’t believe it.

My atheism has always been my default mode. I wasn’t raised in a religious family but neither was I purposefully influenced to not believe in a god. The topic of religion was never a topic of conversation in my house. I only knew my dad was an atheist because I overheard him tell the door to door church people so. My dad passed away when I was 11 years old and I moved up to TN to live with my mom but the topic of religion still never really seemed to come up. I remember going to a vacation bible study thing once but that was pretty much it.

There was never some sort of event that caused me to get mad and reject the idea of God. My dad passing away was terrible at 11 years old but I wasn’t sobbing in the rain, shaking my first towards the heavens, angrily telling God that I reject him.

As an adult, my reasoning is pretty standard atheistic fare. AFAIK, there is zero evidence for the existence of gods of any sort. Science, using the powers of observation, logic and reason does a great job of explaining how things work and where they come from. We know from science that the world is 4+ billion years old and life evolved over a long period of time from less complex organism to more complex organisms. Those two things automatically put most people’s standard interpretation of their religion directly at odds with observable and provable facts. It’s true, I can’t prove that God doesn’t exist but neither can anybody prove that the Invisible Pink Unicorn, the Flying Spaghetti Monster or the celestial tea pot doesn’t exist. I do wonder how religious people know they have the right god. Of the thousands that have come before, how do they know they have the right one?

If I may quote Stephen Roberts:

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

On the question of why I care about religion, I care because it’s so pervasive in our society. CJ Werleman says it better than I can so I’ll just quote him:

Specifically, where I care more than an emotionally needy Care Bear is when the religious step outside of their own abodes and thrust their lunacy into social and political discourse. Particularly, it’s the sneaky circumvention of the separation between church and state. Here are some examples of why religious belief grabs my goat:

  • Tax exemption for churches. This increases the overall tax burden for everybody else. Let’s be honest, churches are generally the last institutions that need financial support from the government.
  • Religious ideology blocks critical advances in scientific breakthrough. For instance, George W. Bush’s veto of stem cell research has set back one of the most critical medical advancements against diseases such as Parkinsons’, cancer, and more.
  • The perversion of school curriculum with the sneaky and disingenuous rebranding of Creationism as Intelligent Design.
  • Some states prohibit non-believers from holding positions of elected office.
  • Some organizations prohibit homosexuals and atheists from membership due to religious ideology i.e. the Boy Scouts.
  • Religious belief often influences public policy. One such example is Republican John Shimkus (R-ILL), member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, stated in 2009 that there was no need to concern ourselves with climate change because God promised in the Bible not to destroy the world again.
  • Faith-based initiatives consume  tax dollars that could be otherwise used for more effective or better deserving projects.
  • Religious groups have a great deal of political power.
  • Faith based programs provide false information and individual harm i.e. ‘Abstinence Only’, and Christian Scientists, who deny their children medicine.

That’s why I care too.



My response to Melissa Ellis’s sex post

My friend Melissa Ellis recently wrote a blog post about her experiences navigating the sex issue as she was growing up (The Virgin… Missy?). It’s a pretty funny read so go check it out. Consider this a non-religious, sex positive response.

I was raised to “wait until after marriage”–mainly because it was a sin not to. My own fault for not digging deeper into that at a younger age. But as I covered in a previous blog post, A Father’s Protection, I have finally realized that it’s so much more than that. He has asked us to remain pure to protect our hearts, not because He’s a tyrant and just wants to set up a bunch of needless rules. I am so glad I’ve moved passed that original theory! How imprisoning to feel that way!

If a couple waits until marriage before they have sex, I feel that they’re gambling on the happiness and satisfaction of their relationship. Sex isn’t everything but it’s a pretty big part of a healthy, happy relationship. If you’re not going on a test drive, how do you know it’s going to work for you? What if you and your new partner are not compatible sexually? What if your partner is into BDSM or swinging or cuckolding but you only like missionary, vanilla sex? What if you love oral sex but your partner can’t/won’t go there?

When you’re under the spell of new love, it’s easy to think that anything is possible and that nothing could get in the way of that new love. As that new/crazy/awesome love turns into the long term, lasting love, it’s going to become harder to overlook and work around those differences. When people are unsatisfied, the temptation to step outside the relationship to get that satisfaction is greater.

We don’t buy cars without taking them for a test drive and we only keep them for a few years. Please don’t make a life long commitment without going on the equivalent of a test drive. In fact, don’t just have sex, live together and have a long engagement!

I wish it were just that simple. And maybe it could be if I could figure out some crazy way to close off my fleshy desires.

Few things can induce guilt and shame like religion can. As I said in the comments of her original post, sex is part of the human condition. It makes me a little sad that people feel ashamed of desires that are part of what makes humans human. Be safe, protect yourself, use multiple forms of birth control but have sex and don’t feel guilty about! Protecting yourself also means protecting your emotional self so FFS, try not to fall in love every time you have sex.

Yes, there are risks with sex but there’s risk in lots of things we do. Driving, cycling, bungee jumping, sky diving, hiking, camping, hunting etc. Yet, nobody is suggesting that we abstain from driving because you might get into an accident and DIE. We protect ourselves and mitigate the risk but we still take the risk every time we get behind the wheel and driving doesn’t feel nearly as good. Oops, fleshly desires!

We were having a brief back and forth in the comments of her post.

I also believe that if I hold to His word to remain pure till my next marriage, then my next marriage will be abundantly blessed to withstand many of life’s obstacles. This does not mean that I expect God to “just take care of it”. This means that with my faith in Him, I have become stronger and wise enough to battle through them. I believe He will send me someone who is not only compatible with me on a spiritual and personal level, but also a sexual level.

But then she said:

I am aware that some non-believers have wonderful marriages as well. Maybe even non-believers who had premarital sex. What do I say to that? Luck. Divine intervention. How about “way to go!”…And yes, even Christian couples have divorces too. Does this mean that God didn’t show them favor? No. I think it means he has something better in store for them in the future.

I hope everybody can see the problem with the logic. On one hand, if  she remains pure until her next marriage, then she will be abundantly blessed. On the other hand, if a Christian couple gets divorced, it just means God has a different plan for them. If a secular couple have long fruitful and fulfilling marriage then it’s luck or divine intervention!

So to summarize, if you live good and pure, God sends you good stuff. If you’re not sent good stuff then it’s luck or God has other plans for you. This cognitive disconnect is very interesting to me… I just don’t understand how perfectly intelligent and smart people think this makes sense. God gets all the credit but none of the blame. Non sequitur.

She tried to explain it to me but it just went further and further into religion and the “logic” became fuzzier and fuzzier to my secular brain. Hey, that’s fine… variety is the spice of life so we agree to disagree and we’re still good friends.

In conclusion, sex isn’t this bad terrible thing, just manage the risk. Women shouldn’t allow men to make them feel bad for their sexual desires and religion should be avoided; keys to happiness. 😉

my blog-gah wtf

Hi, my name is Michael Harley and I love the Internet. I’ve created this blog so I can have a place to write about topics that don’t easily fit into 140 characters or are not appropriate for Facebook (family).

I’m interested in the Internet, technology, science, skepticism, atheism, religion, feminism, politics and music so expect to see posts related mostly to those topics plus some other random shit.