Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Make Your Own Prophesies! Details Inside...

 Ok, it's late and I would like to spend a lot more time on this topic than I am about to. I will probably rewrite this or at the least amend it when I have some more time, but I want at least get it up while I am thinking about it.

 I have devised a formula so that you, the reader can create your own prophesies that work!

Step One: Come up with an overarching event such as a rapture or collapse of a particular civilization.

Step Two: DO NOT specify a time frame for your events to come to fruition.

Step Three: DO NOT name specific names of people, places, or events. If you do, readers are likely to not take them literally, but loosely misinterpret them to represent those of their own environment.

Step Four: Talk plenty of metaphorical gibberish about beasts, dragons, and various types of ugly things.

Step Five: Wait thousands of years until people misinterpret your prophesy (despite your best efforts to adhere to Step Three) by wedging events of their time into the murky language of your nondescript and ambiguous writing.

 Thats it!

 What's that? Don't want to wait thousands of years for people to begin misinterpreting your work? No problem! They probably already have! For an example, look at how folks have interpreted the Revelation of John of Patmos. Ask any Christian- early or contemporary- who the antichrist is and they will likely tell you the name of their most recently elected leader. Ask when the apocalypse is going to happen, they will say "any day now".

 What this all boils down to is everyone wants their god to smile upon them and theirs, and fling the limp corpses of everyone else into the lake of fire. People have been doing it for thousands of years. They want so sincerely for the bad stuff in prophesies to happen to the folks they don't like, that they shoehorn modern events into the context of their holy writ with the deep hope (or rather certainty) that their interpretation is indeed the correct one.

Aren't we rotten?!

 If Christians are really about love and compassion, they should take pity on the unsaved and band together to petition God to have mercy on us heathens (apparently, in some cases, God is willing to negotiate). I'm sure he has plenty of mercy to go around. And if the prophecies turn out to be for another time or president or religion, then at least Christians will have proven to the world that their religion is not about gratuitous blood shed, intolerance, injustice, slavery, abortion, what you do with your weenier/hoo-ha, and a smidgen of warm fuzzy feelins.

 This is highly unlikely as it would seem their xenophobia and hatred are rivaled only by that of their big super daddy. He should have hugged them more when they were children... but not too much. People might talk.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Bible or Quran?

 I had an idea to test the faithful's  knowledge of the book they claim to live by. This one is easy.

  • one clipboard
  • one pen
  • one Bible
  • one Quran
  • one questionnaire
  • one busy pedestrian area or church parking lot

 What we are going to do is see if a common Christian can tell the difference between a Biblical verse and a Quranic verse with no scripture reference.

 First, ask the participant some questions to qualify them. Inquire and document the following:

  • What is your first name?
  • What city / town do you live in?
  • What religion would you say you are affiliated with?
  • What church do you attend and how often?
  • How would you describe your relationship with God?
  • How much of the Bible would you say you have read?
  • How much of the Quran would you say you have read?
  • On a scale on one to five, how would you rate your knowledge of the content of either work?
  • Do you believe every Biblical scripture to be God's inerrant word verbatim?
  • Do you believe Allah as depicted in the Quran to be benevolent or malevolent, just or unjust?
  • Do you believe God as depicted in the Bible to be benevolent or malevolent, just or unjust?
  • etc.
The qualifying questions may vary depending on the surveyor. They are simply to qualify participants and group them by their location, religious affiliation, and self proclaimed knowledge of their respective holy texts. 

 You might tell participants you are conducting a scriptural literacy survey in order to grade how well clergy are representing God's word, or something to this affect. This would be mostly true ;).

 Next, present participants with three verses at a time.  You may also use sets of five scriptures. The main thing is I want to avoid the 50/50 chance they would have if you showed them two scriptures. Ask them to check which they think are Biblical and which are Quranic. Make the first three to five or so sets fairly easy. Then increase difficulty.

 Here are some examples:

Please identify the following verses to be Biblical or Quranic:

  •  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
  • And who believe in that which is revealed unto thee (Muhammad) and that which was revealed before thee, and are certain of the Hereafter.
  • The lightning almost snatcheth away their sight from them. As often as it flasheth forth for them they walk therein, and when it darkeneth against them they stand still. If Allah willed, He could destroy their hearing and their sight. Lo! Allah is able to do all things.
This set would definitely be considered "easy" as the Biblical verse is a commonly recited one, and the two Quranic verses refer to Allah, the unmistakable name of God in the Muslim tradition.

 Here is a more difficult set:

  • O mankind! worship your Lord, Who hath created you and those before you, so that ye may ward off evil.
  • He said: O Adam! Inform them of their names, and when he had informed them of their names, He said: Did I not tell you that I know the secret of the heavens and the earth ? And I know that which ye disclose and which ye hide.
  • And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.
This set also contains two Quranic and one Biblical Scripture. I chose them at random.

 Your intermediate difficulty sets should contain scriptures that sound common to each other in language or topic. Example:

  • Scripture about helping the poor
  • Scripture about loving your parents
  • Scripture about obeying the laws of the land, etc
  • Scripture about sacrificing animals
  • Scripture about God's wrath on sinners
  • Scripture about hell

 Next, I will chose one "nice" Quranic passage and two bloody ones from the Bible:

  • Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.
  • And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.
  • And remember when We made a covenant with the Children of Israel, saying: Worship none save God only, and be good to parents and to kindred and to orphans and the needy, and speak kindly to mankind; and establish worship and pay the poor-due. Then, after that, ye slid back, save a few of you, being averse.
 You get the idea.

 For the first few "easy" sets, use Allah where it is written in your particular translation, to make it obvious to the participant. In the next sets, advise the participant you have replaced the word Allah with more neutral terms like God or The Lord. Tell them you have removed parenthesis and other punctuation that might give away the source of the text (KJV has italics in some places, my English Quran translations have parenthesis in various places). The idea is to see if they can discern the content of the text itself, not artifacts such as punctuation or nomenclature left by the translators.

 I would do three easy sets, three intermediate sets, and nineteen or forty-four difficult sets for each participant.

 What would this prove? Well, we can't count on every Christian to know every verse in every book of the Bible. This is not to test their memory of what's where, but rather to quantify their confirmation bias in attributing scriptures to a particular deity (you could even do the same thing with Hitler and the Pope 'Who did this nice thing or that evil thing?'). If they believe the god of the Christians is only capable of perfect justice and good will, and the god of Islam is full of murder and hate, then they are likely to identify a verse that explicitly describes God performing abortions on folks he don't like to be the work of Allah, and a verse commanding us to be kind to our grandparents and orphans to be from none other than our loving God of the Bible (as I have shown in my third example set, this is untrue). Also we want to evaluate their knowledge of the content of the Bible (Did they know God aborts babies? Do they ignore such scriptures?). Maybe this will shed some light on how different they think they are from their enemies, and how similar they are in reality.

 Of course, you must flip the equation so that good verses from the bible and bad ones from the Quran exist in one set. This would only be fair to the participants.

 Only reveal the results to the participants after the questionnaire is completed. Even then, you may choose to not reveal their score directly to them, but rather post the overall findings in your blog (and mine too!) including some individual questionnaires you found particularly illuminating. Don't tell them the ratio of Biblical:Quranic scripture in each set.

 The participant is not to take help from bystanders, internet, or on the telephone during the survey.

As for finding the actual scriptures, I used the Skeptic's Annotated Bible. It categorizes each and every Biblical, Quranic, and Mormon scripture by several criteria. It's easy to quickly find "good stuff", "injustice", "contradictions", etc. I try to be subjective with this resource though. Some scriptures categorized as contradictions didn't seem all that contradictory to me. Use your own judgment, as in all cases, when choosing scriptures.

 My hypothesis is this:

  • Easy sets will tend to be answered correctly most of the time.
  • Medium difficulty sets among casual or non-practicing Christians will be random.
  • Medium difficulty sets among more studied Christians will begin to show a little less randomness.
  • Difficult sets among casual or non-practicing Christians will be heavily incorrect.
  • Difficult sets among more studied Christians will be... I don't know! Maybe we'll find out!
  • Over all, participants as a whole will display less than 25% accuracy.
 Please, If you think this is a good idea and decide to try it, let me know about it, and please post your findings here. Or if you can make this idea better, let me know! I am fascinated by statistics, though I am not particularly skilled at designing experiments. If you are, I'd like you help.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

"Better Know an Atheist"

 I have an idea to educate our faithful counterparts. Too often, religious folks post replies to blogs, youtube, etc, that are inflammatory fluff that do nothing to inform the reader or bolster their own argument. They quote scripture with the assumption that everybody believes it to be the word of God. They say things that make themselves feel good, but fail to shed any real light on the issue.

I see a need.

Atheists (of the confrontational and courageous variety of course!) should make attempts to teach our good faith-heads how to argue with atheists. I think this could be a good vehicle to plant seeds of rationality and incredulity among those who are most isolated. Here is how my idea works:

You (atheist's name here) contact a local church leader and say you're interested in teaching a lecture at his/her church about exactly what atheism is and how to argue against it. Tell the pastor that you are tired of hearing arguments which are nothing more than meaningless dribble (in nicer words though) from Christians leveled toward atheists. Tell him you know Christians are smarter than this (an assumption) and they should have better articulated, more concise arguments. You should back up your claim with quotes from Christians found on Richard Dawkin's site and others. Tell the good pastor that you don't feel this type of vitriol represents the love of Christ and his flock should be better at "loving thy neighbor".  Tell the pastor you will not charge a fee for this service. Tell him there will be no "funny business" or de-conversion attempts.
 How you can word your proposal so that you are not met with a tongue lashing is beyond my imagination, but it is doable. Be very kind and listen to his ideas if he bites.

 Once a date and time is settled upon, hire a small security team to protect you. You are going to be in the lion's den and you need security. Make sure not to enlist local police as they can be quite biased and not of much help if things get sticky. Have cameras ready incase a member of the church later misrepresents or skews any part of the lecture, you will have video footage. A pastor gets an uncut copy afterwards, and an uncut copy goes directly to youtube.

 Have "Better Know an Atheist" on the marquee and in local papers. Try to draw a large number of people to the event.

 There would be a standard fully featured power point lecture, followed by a question and answer session where the speaker and audience may ask each other questions. It should be known that no shouting would be permitted, as all participants are adults. Unless of course children are present, in which case let them serve as examples of civility to the adults.

  If I were doing the lecture, I would start off by sincerely stating my gratitude to the pastor and the congregation for being so open minded as to let an atheist in their midst. I would lay down the ground rules- no shouting, conversions in either direction, etc, and allow the pastor to open with a prayer.

 Then I would try to make the audience as comfortable with me as possible. I would describe my twenty six plus years as a struggling born again Christian and outline the beliefs I held during that time. I would quote scriptures that helped me. I would speak their language, because for so many years it was my language.

 Now to the meat.
I would read several scriptures that command us to love one another and our enemies. I would follow with quotes by Christians taken from Dawkin's "The Ugly" page, but with references to atheists or atheism replaced with references to a football team (preferably the beloved local team) and references to God or Christianity to those of the next town's football team and head coach. (note: It will take a smarter man than I to do this. I just tried it. The hatred and language doesn't  translate well.) "This is what real people have said. Do you think these people are following God's commandments to love one another? How do these hate filled attacks on your home team make you feel? What would you say to this person in response? Could you control your own anger?"
 "Now I have a surprise for you." Then I would replace the "football team comment" slide with the original atheist quote. "This is how folks like you talk to folks like me on a daily basis..." You get the idea.

 The next part is still a little grey in my mind, but I would try to guide the audience members with some pointers on how to talk to atheists without resorting to hate filled language, and how this will in affect make them better arguers and better respected among peoples of all stripes. I would encourage them to follow God's teachings regarding being kind to one another, even if you disagree.

 At some point, I would educate the audience of why I became an atheist. I would quote a lot of blood filled and rape/incest passages from one of their Bibles. I would tell them I don't see much love in the book, and could find better moral guidance in Moby Dick. I wouldn't force them to defend these passages on the spot, But I would simply make them aware of their existence.
 "You can better argue your faith if you know what scriptures an atheist is going to quote." While I'm at it, I would cite countless contradictions found everywhere in one of their Bibles. Again, better to know what an atheist might say. You get my direction?

 I would have to clarify that an atheist would not quote scripture because he/she believes God and his word are factual, and bloody, and evil. Rather I would educate the audience that the atheist is simply trying to say "I know you think you're holy and righteous and kind and charitable for believing every word of this book, but have you read every word of this book?" A militant atheist might not be so kind in their query.
 Quoting scripture because you are trying to lay down a solid case for why you hate God is more akin to anti-theism. Atheists don't hate God any more than they hate trolls or dragons.

 Any way, I'm off track here.

 During the question and answer segment, I would allow participants to ask questions regarding how to talk to atheists, and in general, what atheists are about. How to keep participants from shouting is beyond me. Maybe the pastor can help in this regard. For each question asked by the audience, I would in return ask a question of the audience regarding something they believe. I would never resort to Dawkin's "you don't actually believe that do you?" as this is a device that is more likely to enrage the person being questioned rather than yield a thoughtful response. I would choose my questions carefully so that the audience might learn more about themselves, their faith, and their biases from their answers than I would.

 I would close by asking the pastor to pray over the congregation (as he would no doubt do anyway). Then I would linger to talk directly to folks who would be interested in further discussion.

 AT NO POINT would I ever raise my voice or insult an audience member or the audience as a whole. If offense is taken, it is only because someone had the intention of taking offense, not because I had the intention of offending. I would remain clear and calm throughout the entire session, and hope that the congregation would return the favor.

Note: I would leave science out of the discussion as much as possible. I would assume they know less about science than their own scripture. Unless you want to educate them on what exactly science is and does, in which case, go for it. But trying to win an argument with a Christian using science and evidence is like a Christian trying to win an argument with an atheist by quoting John 3:16. It only serves to make the quoter feel better about their own team.

 Anyway, thats my idea. It's a little nebulous at the moment, but I will update this post as more ideas and clarification come to me. I hope someone (smarter than me) someday gives this a shot.

Tell me what you think. Good idea? Bad idea?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Why Are Atheists so Dumb and Stupid, and They're Dumb Ignorant Smelly Faces are Dumb as a Butt?

Yeesh! I Googled "the cowardly atheist" and was greeted with, not references to my own blog, but with the same Christian love and humility one might expect from a race of people who truly believe God made everything for them. The title for this post is a slightly exaggerated summation of the links pulled up by Google.

Folks of the religious persuasion have the deepest and sincerest belief that they themselves are the epitome of humility and servitude; courage and righteousness; intelligence and certainty. Who am I, a lowly atheist shit-on, to argue? These same folks aspire to paint atheists as angry, indignant, cowardly, godless whores who feed from the bottom of the stagnant shallow ponds of humanities' intellectual wasteland; Just because we have the pompous arrogance to say we are infinitesimally small in a universe that is immensely huge; that we don't have all the answers, but are driven to seek them out by observing our environment and not the bronze-age ancient texts of the land (the United States has adopted its ancient texts of someone else's land). Can you believe the guile? The idea that the universe is not centered around us; the idea that we are in the spiral arm of a not so special galaxy in a sea of galaxies; the idea that there is no one there to smote our bad guys for us, kiss our boo-boos, and tuck us in at night so the bed bugs wont bite. What gall!

When I was a Christian, I used to think atheists were angry because they didn't have Christ's love in their hearts. Once free to think as I please, I developed the theory that atheists are angry because they feel they are surrounded by MORONS. This, I realized, is a very human thing to do, and since we are all mammals*, I began looking for a natural explanation. Here it is:

The person who most embodies righteous certitude is YOU.
The person who most embodies pompous arrogance is the OTHER GUY.

Think about our tribal and self centered nature. When was the last time you went to a football game, and felt bad when the opposing team was blocked by your team? When did you ever say, "Good for them!" when the opposing team out foxed your team? In the last instance, you probably had images in your head of kicking in the teeth of the other teams head coach. No doubt, a majority of fans on the other side of the stadium had similar fantasies about your team.

When was the last time you exploded in a fit of road-rage, all the while knowing it was your fault the guy next you swerved? NEVER! It's never your fault, It's always their fault!

What makes your religion the correct religion doesn't really have much to do with the facts as you see them or the tingling in your spine or the image of Mother Mary in your Cream of Wheat. The biggest factor determining your religion to be the correct religion is the fact that its YOU who believes it. And as we all know, YOU are incapable of making mistakes; another interesting behavior we humans are quite good at; always being right. Im doing it right now, and so are you.
The problem is, some ideas are indeed right and some ideas are flat out wrong. If every supporter of a wrong idea immediately switched to the correct idea as soon as new evidence to support it emerged, there would be far fewer proponents of wrong outdated ideas. As smart as we are, we as a culture aren't quite smart enough to readily identify, re-evaluate, and abandon obsolete ideas and practices in favor of new ones. We cling to our old vestiges with the hope that we will indeed triumph over the "new comers" and continue to do as we have always done...

A paradigm shift occurs only when the perpetuators of the old ways die out. The Pope didn't officially acknowledge Galileo's observation that the earth orbited sun until 1992. Old habits die hard.

* If you don't think you are a mammal, ask of your species, "Do we have hair? Are we warm blooded? Do we give birth to live young? Do we have tits?" Hopefully the answer to all these questions is "yes"  In which case, congratulations! You're a mammal. (if "no", you are either a resident of Australia, or you should consider moving there, as your government will likely be very interested in you).

4004 B.C.

Here is an educational video...

Open Genesis to chapter 1 verse 1 and start reading. What you find there largely depends on your presuppositions about the Bible. If you have previously decided that everything you are about to read is the infallible complete word of God, then some details might be lost on you. Or you may take some iffy passages "on faith" assuming God knows what he is doing and wouldn't in a couple of thousand years put any glaring contradictions in his complete work. The mistake would have to be your own misinterpretation of the text.

I have heard folks cite Genesis chapters one and two as having two contradictory depictions of the creation of Adam and Eve. In a way, I was scanning for these contradictions when I started to re-read the account recently, but what I found was a little vague:

This is the account in chapter one:

"...So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." (Gen 1:27).

And chapter two:

"And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul..." (Gen 2:7)
"...And the Lord said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him..." (Gen 2:18)
"...And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of a man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh..." (Gen 2:21-24)

If one were inclined to defend these seemingly contradictory passages as infallible word of God, one would only have to say "Ah, but chapter two gives a much more detailed account of the events surrounding the creation of Man and Woman; an inset, if you will, such as one might find on a map..." I myself would not have a valid rebuttal for this argument, so I would avoid it all together. However, as I dig deeper, I find much more compelling arguments for the fallacy of the work.

Lets backtrack to the events preceding the creation of Adam. There are greater and more specific problems contained here. I will first present you with chapter one verses one through twenty five. Please read through it as though you are reconstructing a crime scene by listening to a witnesses account. Anything seem out of place to you?...

***please note: I have just downloaded MacSword, an electronic Bible. All further scripture quotes will be derived from this program. I will use the King James Version unless otherwise noted.***

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.6 ¶And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.9 ¶And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.14 ¶And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.24 ¶And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
The first snags I came across were the order in which things came to be according to this account, and some unusual properties that didn't make a whole lot of sense:
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
My first question is this: As a whole, this passage depicts the first day. Now as we learned in grade school, the Earth is a sphere rotating on an axis around a stationary star*, thus giving us the days and nights and years that we can set our watches to with predictable accuracy. If light (the sun) weren't created for some time after verse one, and the world was without form (not a sphere?) then where does God get his calculations that one full day has passed? Assuming the Earth was in fact a sphere at this point, there would have to be twelve hour difference on the other side of the globe. So when day one was beginning, day zero would simultaneously be ending 180 degrees latitude, and at the same time the sun was setting on day one, day two would be just beginning elsewhere...
Did you catch my mistake? The sun had not been created yet! Instead we have some diffuse nebulous "light" that God created pre-sol. So did the earth rotate while orbiting around this unnamed light source; on a holding pattern awaiting the arrival of the sun? We have no idea because the author of Genesis didn't deem it necessary to indulge us with this small piece of doubt-crushing text. Or maybe, when Genesis was penned, no one had a sense of a spherical earth or a light giving sun (the blue sky, to some at the time, may not have appeared to be lit by the sun's rays diffusing and refracting in our moist atmosphere, therefore it could have been interpreted that the sun was not the cause of the light we see during the day, but an addition to it).
Now consider verses four and five:
4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
What is darkness? Darkness is the absence of light. More specifically, in the presence of light, darkness is a shadow. Where ever there is an object to reflect or deflect direct light photons, you will find a shadow on the other side. So a shadow is a byproduct of an object "getting in the way" of light. When a person flicks on a flashlight in a dark room full of clutter, he is not intentionally turning on the shadows cast by the light beam. They happen as a byproduct.
Now let's consider the earth. The earth is an object. God has created a light source. We should instantly see a shadow or shadows created by the earth and objects on its surface (today, we call the largest shadow created by the earth "night"). Since it would seem God is not producing any of the light, we can assume He is also casting a shadow (in the Old Testament, God is depicted as a physical being, presumably with some physical properties). So why then go through the procedure of "separating" the light from darkness? Darkness separates itself from light as a function of light deflecting from objects casting a shadow.
Here is a glaring problem:
11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.
Here we see God commanding plant life to spring forth. Nothing unusual about the Almighty doing some necessary ground work in preparation for the coming of the center of the universe (that's us). Problem is, most plants use photosynthesis to produce energy. Plants really need the sun to do this. God hasn't created the sun yet. Bad timing? Who knows. "The Lord works in mysterious ways..." Mysterious indeed!
There are schools of thought that posit this idea:
8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (I Peter 3:8)
By this math, The plants would have to wait one thousand years in anticipation for the life giving sun.It would have made more sense to create the sun before plant life, but when the book was written, photosynthesis was unknown to us.
Here is the account of the creation of celestial bodies:
14 ¶And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night...
First, God has put the light in the firmament that divides the waters above and the waters below (Gen 1:7). Early skywatchers could have easily mistaken our blue sky for "all there is" and therefore assumed the heavenly bodies must exist within the firmament. Perhaps the waters "which were above" were responsible for the daytime skies' blue color. If I were a bronze age individual gazing up at the blue expanse, I could suppose it is a layer of water above the firmament. Next, we find a redundant account of God dividing day from night. Not only that, the bodies are created for a specific purpose: to serve humans: "...and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years..." The bodies are for signs and their movements are only there to serve our time keeping, agriculture and fortune telling habits. Seems a gratuitous waste of resources to create an entire universe 78 billion light years across just so we can know when to plant our corn or whom we should marry. A mind bendingly massive portion of the universe is beyond our capacity to see without instruments; not much good to early agriculturists and soothsayers. And the moon is not a light. It reflects light from the sun. If the sun were to suddenly disappear, we wouldn't see the moon, but how was a bronze age author to know this?...
What about the rest of the universe? We know roughly how big it is, and every time we develop a new instrument to detect a new wavelength, we see further into space and the universe grows. I have quantified exactly how much of the creation account in Genesis is devoted to the creation of the rest of the universe...
16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.
Thats right, FIVE words! The ENTIRE universe seems to be an afterthought to the creator, "By the way, maybe I should create trillions and trillions and trillions of tons of matter beyond what my subjects can actually see. Yeah, that'll be a good way to use up all this left over stuff." Also, there is no mention of galaxies, nebulae, black holes, gamma ray bursts, basically events and bodies that cannot be seen with the naked eye from earth. Had the author of Genesis had access to our modern technology, he no doubt would have invested volumes of writing to the creation of the REST OF THE UNIVERSE.
Take a look at this video narrated by Neil Degrasse Tyson about the Hubble Deep Space Field. Here you fill get an idea of how big the damn thing is and how small we really are...

Simply Awesome.
God either did a terribly inefficient job creating an oversize universe full of stuff that is of no practical importance for the survival of his followers, or he did a terrible job dictating the whole thing to his author, OR I am misinterpreting the whole thing and just need to suspend my cognitive reasoning and simply take it "on faith". Now I must say, I think the universe is SPECTACULAR. But, there are many things about it that are too sloppily executed to have been done by the greatest intelligence imaginable. He got the quantity in spades, but the quality?...
Evolutionary biologist and astrophysicist are simply enthralled by the biodiversity and sheer size and complexity of the world and universe around them. A creationist is enthralled by the guy who they sincerely wish made the whole thing. It would be like throwing out the entire works of Shakespeare and focusing all our time and energy on what the Bard liked for breakfast, or what color his favorite tunic was. Way to miss the point!
Anyway, I'm going to wrap up by saying you should read scripture for yourself. Most Christians only know the scriptures they hear as sound-bites lobbed at them from the pulpit. And if you are an atheist or agnostic, READ THE SCRIPTURE! I often am tempted to take someone's opinion and scripture references at face value without verifying for myself. This is suspending your cognitive capacities and is no different than belief without evidence. Demand you be compelled! Dig and search for information even if it stands to challenge your preconceived ideas. Most people go out of their way to avoid hearing the other side of the story. If someone "on my team" offers an opinion on a particular topic, I'm not obligated to accept it. This is how I differ from a religious person.
Much much more on Genesis later!
__________* The sun is actually not stationary. The sun rotation period about its axis at Equator is 25 Earth days, and at poles is 35 Earth days. The sun orbits the galaxy at about 220 km/s, taking nearly 220,000,000 Earth years to complete one full orbit (galactic year). How do we know this? because we can see it!