A Word on Explanations

Once again, I find myself explaining something that should be fairly well understood by people, and it just isn’t.  I’m going to explain… explanations.   Here’s where it starts.  I say something like “the theory of evolution explains the diversity of life”, and the religious person says “god explains the diversity of life.”  Only it really doesn’t.  At all.

To understand where I’m coming from, let’s break this down to the simplest form and then build it back up again.  Say it’s your first day of school as a kindergartner.  The teacher writes on the black board:

Seven times twelve is eighty-four.

The teacher then turns around and “explains” to the class, the reason this is correct is because of math.  Math explains it.  That’s it.

Now, in this example, the teacher is providing the correct answer.  But they obviously haven’t actually explained anything.  To actually explain something, you have to go off of what you know.  So we start with counting.  We teach kids to count apples or pies or chairs or whatever.  Then we teach them addition.  Count this many over here, and this many over here, and when you take the one group and add it to the other group, the total number in the group is what we call addition.  We have now explained addition.

Now take a row of things, and next to the row add one column of the same number of things.  You can add the sum of each row, or you can multiply the number in the row by two, which is the number of columns.  Then add another column and multiply by three, then four, etc.  Now we’ve explained multiplication.

The difference between the first method and the second method is that the teacher is referencing something known.  If you can understand counting, you can understand addition.  And if you can understand addition, you can understand multiplication.  But you can’t understand multiplication if you don’t yet know how to count.  It is a worthless explanation, which is to say it doesn’t explain anything.

But here’s the important thing to remember.  To the small child, multiplication may seem like magic.  You could have just as easily told them you arrived at the answer by magic.  You see 5 columns of 8 dots each, and *poof* Forty!  Magic.  That is, until you EXPLAIN it to them.  Then they understand it.  If you don’t come out of the process understanding how the thing works, then it wasn’t explained well enough.

Now, the understanding of the process is really the important bit.  Without that understanding, you actually don’t know what’s going on.  And without that understanding, you don’t know if the person is correct.  I could just as easily tell a class of kindergartners that five times five is 17.  They wouldn’t know any better.

This extends in to all facets of our lives.  There is an explanation for why your car works, and it isn’t “because it’s a Chevy”.  That is a worthless explanation.  There’s an entire discussion that needs to be had about pistons and crankshafts and valves and stroke cycles and a bunch of other stuff just to explain the very basics of what makes a car work.

And even worse, if you don’t know even the most basics of what makes a car works, you are going to be very gullible when the mechanic prescribes an expensive fix.  If the mechanic says your car doesn’t work because the block rotator is cracked, run.  Run, and never give them a penny of your money.

This is why “God” is not an explanation.  Nobody knows if god is a block rotator or a broken valve.  (The first is completely made-up, and if you know anything at all about cars, completely ridiculous.  The second is a real thing and a real problem that does happen.)  We can’t know which one god is, because there is no explanation.  Without an explanation, we are gullible to believe it.

The difference between “god” and “evolution” is we DO have an explanation for evolution.  We can take what we already know about sexual reproduction and build upon that concept, with each step well researched and evidenced.  We DO have an explanation for near-death experiences.  We take our understanding of brain function, and build upon that concept, with each step well researched and evidenced.  We DO have an explanation for morality.  We take our understanding of social species, and build upon that concept, with each step well researched and evidenced.

To date, god has not been an explanation for anything.  Inserting god into the conversation doesn’t help us understand, it just assigns a name to the concept of not knowing something.  Do the math on that.  God= not knowing.  It’s funny, but it’s also true!  Religious people will literally say this.  “I don’t know how it happened, praise God!”  Yes, you’ve just equated your god to ignorance.

Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the hypothesis of “supernatural.”  I only mention it to say, I don’t give a flying f**k about the supernatural, and here’s why.  If your god has any interaction with this world in any way whatsoever, then there should be an explanation for that.  If your god created the world, answers prayers, records your deeds, and speaks to you, then there should be an explanation for that.

When I was five, I could be tricked into thinking that just mentioning something was an explanation.  Santa Claus.  Magic.  God.  Blinker fluid.  But I’ve grown now, and I’ve put aside childish ways.  I need to understand to be an adult.  I need to understand how my job works, how my car works, and how relationships work.  Invoking the name of ignorance is worthless.

The Spartan Atheist

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61 thoughts on “A Word on Explanations

      1. You’re welcome. Your post is one I can relate to and it also explains clearly why explanations are so important. Well done.

        Liked by 3 people

  1. Your post puts me in mind of this classic:

    Liked by 6 people

  2. We have gone way past trying to explain anything involving reason, critical thinking and science to these people. They will have none of it.
    They have also entered a stage especially when you combine trump politics, that has become pure unmitigated hate that is about to blow over into violence.
    Anyone with only half a brain can see evolution by just looking around in nature.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Yeah, their brains go to their “safe space” when challenged.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well said. I like the way you explained this to me here. Thanks. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks! Always love hearing from you.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. A great explanation for explaining vs. simply telling! The God explanation is basically “because I said so” whereas evidence based explanation like the theory of evolution is “and this is HOW it happened”… We can explain a lot, such as our justifications for creating a moral system, and the morals within it using evidence and higher principles we can agree to live by. We can explain the scientific processes and natural laws that govern our world/universe. Now, we just need to take this an abstract step further, and apply it to our moral principles. WHY should we do this and not that, and on what grounds? Not just because an authority figure told you so, whether it be god or moral! I really love your example using math as an analogy. You have to build your knowledge using basic principles as the foundation, such as counting to learn complex mathematics, all building off the previously learned concepts like scaffolding to support the intricacies later on. Just saying that’s how it is, period, does nothing! It’s worthless! 🙂
    https://aladyofreason.wordpress.com/

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I meant mortal, not moral…. typo…

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    2. I’ve tried explaining morality to a couple of commenters. Really explain it. To be fair, it’s a big subject and this is a small format. To be critical, they don’t care to listen.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I guess so… but trying to explain evolution isn’t much luck either with the opposition! It’s not facts so much that they won’t listen to, but the idea it means we’re not “special” and “just animals” instead of some divine creation! It is a huge pet peeve of mine when people decided they’re not going to listen to the facts, or want to actually do an honest search for the truth just because they don’t like the implications! “Facts don’t change just because you don’t like the implications” is my motto 😉

        Liked by 3 people

      2. You will quickly realize that you have just been wasting your time

        Liked by 1 person

  5. If you will allow me to add an example of being naive and believing what we are told, here is what happened to me as a young man in the Army. I was on my second tour but in a new school in Fort Gordon Georgia. It was the school for my new field of satellite repair and operation. I bought a new basic Plymouth reliant and this was 1982. I was so proud of it, and it did not even have an FM radio, it was basic. But after I bought it I had trouble with it staying running. I would take to the dealer and after a few days they would say it was fixed and then a few days later It would keep stalling. They claimed they rebuilt the carburetor each time for five times. Then one day I barely got it to the dealership, and they told me it needed a new engine as I had thrown a rod through the engine. I was so upset and so young, I called my sergeant and told him the situation. He asked me one question. Did you drive the car there. I said yes. He said stay there I am on my way.
    My sergeant met me and then went into the dealership. Ten minutes later he walked out. He said my car would be right out. He also had a check made out for me for all the money I had paid the dealership to fix the car. Seems first that car had a disposable carburetor and it was a replace , not a fix, second you can not drive a car that throws a rod. I was young and naive and did not know and the dealership was making money hand over fist on me. They panicked when my sergeant walked in and called them on it. As he also was a first sergeant and could have them blacklisted from any military personal doing business with them, they took him seriously. It seems what they were doing was setting the idle screws to the very limit so they would cut out after a a short time on me. I was lucky , I had someone to turn to I could trust. The dealership is like a church to me, they take advantage of your not knowing. They claim to have all the facts and information, but they abused it to take money from you. If I had not called my sergeant for a ride home, I wouldn’t have known they were stealing from me. Same with a church. Hugs

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Yeah, off post establishments are known for those types of shenanigans. Valuable lesson learned.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, and I grew up in the time I was in the service, it was good for me. Hugs

        Liked by 2 people

    2. I’m fairly naive when it comes to how cars work, but I’m slowly learning more about them. Something like that could’ve easily happened to me but I have been OK so far. Once you find a trusty dealership, you stick with them, unless you have to move towns for whatever reason.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. Nice explanation. Of course Christians will say that the Bible explains God lol. But unlike the multiplication example you mentioned above, trying to explain the Bible is like finding your way out of a maze full of dead ends, it just doesn’t work properly unless you kid yourself you’re out of the maze.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. There is one thing of which I am certain, after forty years of knowing God:
    God has given me eternal life
    And this life is in His son.
    He who has the son, has life,
    He who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

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      1. I know. The comments were all one flavor. I figured the dish needed a little seasoning. (Although, what I say is true.)

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      2. Again, you say the silliest thing. Magic dude that has a book where he is a complete asshole and you claim this book is true and your god is real, yet everything about him is different than in the book, but the book is true…… Just silly. It’s mental masturbation of the worst kind.

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  8. The thing is…and I know this doesn’t matter to you, I’m mainly saying it because it needs to be said…you can’t understand God until you find Him, because His ways are so much higher than our ways, our wisdom is foolishness compared to His. The whole reason you even consider some things right and some things wrong is because He placed in you a moral code. Otherwise, evolution would decide morals, and the strong would decide right and wrong. It wouldn’t be wrong to kill someone who was suffering in some way, because you would end their suffering. Others might judge you wrong, but who makes the final decision?

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    1. Collections of people make the judgements, Randy. Formally, these become governments. And we have made lots of mistakes in the past, your book of horrors is a testament to how horrible morality was 2000 years ago. Hell, secular reasoning in morality is the undisputed champion, as evidenced by the eradication of slavery in the US. The bible says slavery is okay, secular morality examines the harm caused to both individuals and society and judges it immoral.

      There is no way you can claim a stupid book that expressly advocates slavery is morally superior to secular morality.

      You seem to not understand…. well, almost anything at all about morality. Evolution and morality have nothing at all to do with one another. The first is a fact of how we came to be human, the second is how we interact now that we are here.

      And by the way, if I have to lower my critical thinking skills to extreme gullibility to find your God, then he is just as ridiculous as you are.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. The whole reason you even consider some things right and some things wrong is because He placed in you a moral code.

      I hope it is obvious to you that a human being has a far better chances of survival when he or she lives in a community than being a loner. Many other animals have figured this out
      Morality has some basis in survival especially those that are claimed to come from god(s)

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I didn’t make the rules. But, I can promise you, everything changes when you come to Him. You grow to understand Him and His ways. I could argue with each of your premises, but you would always find one more, and one more, because you don’t want to know Him if He is real. You know the Genesis story, of the other voice in the garden…I hear that other voice in our conversations.

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    1. Cute. You disagree with everything in the actual bible, but you can promise me something for which you have no knowledge of whatsoever.

      You, sir, are a snake oil salesman.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t disagree with anything in the Bible. And, I’m not selling anything.

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      2. No. Do you even know what the slavery of the time was based upon? Because God was not afraid to deal truthfully in his book about the practices of the times doesn’t mean he approved. He let man live in a world of his own making. Because of free will. He’s still doing that…while always making a way to come back…again free will. Man doesn’t do well without God. His tendencies run toward self-preservation first, self-fulfillment second.

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      3. You fucking liar. He ordered slavery. Explicitly. Go sell your shit somewhere else.

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    2. So you agreed with genocide

      Liked by 1 person

  10. And that is the voice I suspected was speaking all along…man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

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    1. “When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do.8 If she does not please her master, who has designated her[b] for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has broken faith with her. 

      Randy, fuck any god that thinks its okay to sell your daughter as a slave. And if you agree with your God, fuck you too. Fuck anyone that thinks selling your daughter as a sex slave is okay.

      Do you renounce selling your daughter as a sex slave, as your God specifically permits? Or are you a fucking asshole?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Your atheism is a sham. You are speaking with the voice of the father of lies, who is the one who instituted these systems of bond age. You have a god, but it is not YHWH.
        “Mike” you can be free from him, if you will accept the payment Jesus made…for you…for me…I am praying for you “Mike” that the voice of the liar will be silenced, that you will hear the Voice of YHWH.
        Jesus Saves!

        Like

      2. Randy, my name is The Spartan Atheist. And you are siding with those that would sell their daughters as slaves. You are immoral.

        I would never sell my daughter into slavery, I absolutely despise anyone that would, and I despise anyone that defends anyone that would.

        Stay away from children.

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      3. Our chains are gone…we’ve been set free…

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      4. Well, I have. You’re stillshackled to the god that established rules for selling your daughter as a slave.

        Are you just going to keep ignoring this, Randy? Your god gave rules for selling your daughter into slavery. Your god is an immoral prick. You are covering for your God. You are as complacent as the woman that lies to the police about her husband that fucks the children. You. You are covering for an immoral monster.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I have been chained as you are now. I was set free from the chains.
        Evil, murder, slavery, lies…all the fruit of the enemy of YHWH.
        It is for freedom that Christ has set me free.

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      6. Dude. Are you of sub-standard intelligence? Bible God advocated and ordered murder, slavery, and lies. Bible god IS YHWH. Bible god is literally everything you say you don’t want. You claim to follow this God, and pretend he doesn’t do what he expressly is recorded as doing.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. The god of this age has blinded your mind to the One who created you.

        And yet, He still cares for you…

        He made a way for you to be redeemed…

        And to live.

        Like

    2. Based on the bible, satan would even be a more moral character than the bible god

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So, whose moral code are you using? Someone has to have the final say on right and wrong. Right?

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      2. So, whose moral code are you using?

        I don’t exactly follow someone’s moral code. I follow principles. Sure my standing on morality could be similar to many people both past, present and possibly feature. That’s because the principles I based my morality on are empathy, compassion and respect for the rights of others etc

        Someone has to have the final say on right and wrong. Right?

        I don’t agree that someone has to have the final say on right and wrong. This role could be roughly played by the justice system, but I don’t agree with this view entirely
        Majorly because right and wrong has been sort of an evolving concept and morality isn’t something static
        Some things that were considered right in the past are now considered wrong and vice versa.
        Even based on the bible, morality is something that changes

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Randy, I’m not going to explain anything at all about morality or anything else until you tell me if you personally believe it is or is not okay to sell your daughter into sex slavery.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I would not. Neither would I abort a daughter or son before birth.

        But, say I had a son that I had reared, teaching him how to be good in his life, which practices would be honorable and which would bring shame.
        When he grew up, he chose different lifestyles, ones that put him in “low circumstances” ( Just use your imagination).
        Say slavery was a thing that was going on, and I thought it was really bad, but in his desperation he sold a daughter into slavery.
        He did a terrible thing.
        Yet, if I loved him still, I would do ever I could, give him any advice I could to help him right the wrong that he did of his own free will.
        There are consequences to disobedience and Rebellion.
        You seem to be stuck on this slavery thing.
        When man decides he doesn’t need God, he institutes practices that are evil.
        And God allows these things because he gave us the right to choose him or not.

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      5. Randy, I’m stuck on the slavery thing because it’s so obvious that your god got it wrong. He didn’t “allow” it, he ordered it. He specifically ordered slavery, and you are intentionally ignoring the bible and trying to rationalize it.

        Liked by 2 people

      6. Let’s try something different.
        Say I’m a little junior high kid, and I get beat up every day by this bully, who also takes my lunch money. Finally, after weeks, I find someone who believes me, and the bully gets arrested, tried and convicted. My parents know his family and don’t want to send the boy to jail, so the judge says, “It’s either hail, or he can be your slave for the rest of the year during school hours. If he doesn’t obey you, he goes to jail.
        Would that be good or bad?

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      7. “It’s either hail, or he can be your slave for the rest of the year during school hours. If he doesn’t obey you, he goes to jail.

        I am quite certain, any judge who suggest you take someone as a slave, would not be praised to be all good and loving
        Quite the opposite

        When man decides he doesn’t need God, he institutes practices that are evil.

        When man decides he doesn’t need god, society would become better. “Evil” practices are based on the bible the result of god actions

        Liked by 2 people

      8. You don’t need to explain your beliefs about morality.
        “Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to YHWH; be assured he will not go unpunished.
        Proverbs 16:5

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  11. Spartan — you remember those dolls they used to have, the kind that played back a randomly-chosen pre-recorded phrase out of an inventory of half-a-dozen or so when you pulled the string on its back?

    You’re basically trying to debate one of those.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Infidel, I just noticed I wasn’t following you! How the fuck did I miss that!? Love your shit. Taken care of.

      Liked by 1 person

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