Banning God from Schools and T-Shirts

Banning God from Schools and T-Shirts February 6, 2015

T-shirts humans boss God around

It is interesting that an atheist could apparently see that the theology on the t-shirt on the left above is idiotic, while the conservative American Christian who made it, and those who wear it, apparently could not. Someone did their own version, making the t-shirt on the right above, which they shared on imgur.

But the truth is that the evidence supports the view that, if there are gods of the sort that traditional theists and polytheists posit, their power is indeed limited. Humans can get their way despite alleged divine power, and the deities apparently need humans to enforce their rules and stick up for them.

When people had no other explanation for natural disasters than divine wrath, this wasn’t the case. It was always possible to posit that God had been patient but was now revealing just how angry he had become.

It is crucial for religious believers to recognize that the ways that they have thought about God in the past are intimately intertwined with the way the world was understood in the past.

That doesn’t mean that one cannot believe in God any longer. But it does mean that serious reflection should be offered regarding how to conceive of God differently in light of our different perspectives and knowledge.

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  • Alan

    I find it strange to read this article on this particular site. Surely there is no contradiction in believing God is all powerful and yet because he is a God of love he will not force humans to do things they do not want to do. We have all been given the freedom to either accept God or reject him. If we hadn’t been given that freedom then you would be posting an article complaining about an overbearing, authoritarian God. Mind you, that’s only if He allowed the invention of the internet. Jesus said, Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and open the door, I will come in to eat with him, and he with me.” In love, we have been given the choice to either welcome him in or keep him outside.

    • joriss

      You are hitting the nail on the head. Although I doubt, if one should put this message on his shirt, there is much truth in it. God is always inviting, never forcing, and not letting Him in, will jeopardise his spiritual influence to change our hearts and our hearts will be hardened. That will not make us criminals in a few days, but gradually ungodliness will increase in our lives and minds. It is a very simple spiritual lesson the bible teaches over and over again.

      • Cecil Bagpuss

        Atheists just love the problem of evil. What they don’t realise is that the evidence of God’s work is overwhelming. Bayes’ Theorem proves beyond doubt that life has been intelligently designed.

        Let’s consider the prior probability that the theory of evolution is true. To do this we will use the Cambrian explosion. This doesn’t really fit the theory of evolution; so we will say, on this basis, that the prior probability of evolution is 33%. The only alternative to evolution is intelliigent design; so the remaining 67% of the probability space is taken up by ID.

        Now let’s consider some of the evidence. All creatures share the same genetic code, and this is what you would expect for evolution. So this is 100% expected on evolution. I would argue that this is exactly how you would expect God to create life as well, but I will be generous and say that this is only 50% expected on ID.

        Next we look at the bacterial flagellum. William Dembski has demonstrated that the probability that the flagellum could be produced by evolution is 10^-1170. In other words, the consequent probability of evolution is now so low that there is no way back.

        God wins.

        • joriss

          You immediately connect the message on the shirt to evolutionism. Maybe the message was meant to be understood in this way, I don’t know. What I meant was that keeping God outside your school, your house, your life, and whatever situation, will do harm to yourself, and to all you are connected to. So what is true for men, is true in schools as well.

          About the evo-crea debate: you have very easily refuted evoltionism! I don’t think it’s that easy. Now I’m a creationist myself, but studying a little on evolutionsm, I see there are many arguments for it and many against it.

          But is evolutionism really the big evildoer? Because I know people serving Christ who are evolutionists. Ofcourse if evolutionism is always leading people into atheism, it’s big evil. But it is not always leading into atheism. So I find it difficult to make up my mind on this subject.

          • Cecil Bagpuss

            joriss, I agree that evolution isn’t the real issue. What should really concern us is the threat from proselytising atheists. These people are using the internet to wage war on Christianity. We must do what we can to oppose them.

          • Neko

            One thing you could do is take Dr. McGrath’s advice, because the God that atheist evangelists fight is the guy who reflected “the way the world was understood in the past.” And that guy is indefensible.

          • Cecil Bagpuss

            My comment was a spoof on the use of Bayes’ Theorem. I apologise for any offence caused.

          • Neko

            I realize it was a spoof, and you caused no offense. Were you being ironic when you wrote “What should really concern us is the threat from proselytising atheists”? In that case, my apologies.

          • Cecil Bagpuss

            I think there is a genuine issue with atheist propaganda. I wouldn’t say it was actually a threat, but I am concerned at the relentless attacks on Christianity. My spoof relates to the mythicism debate, and I think that mythicism is being used as a weapon against Christianity.

          • Neko

            Yes, I get that you were alluding to the mythicist debate. I don’t know if you live in the USA, but if you do I wouldn’t worry too much about atheism’s war on Christianity. For starters, it’s non-violent. For another thing, its virulent wing is rather marginal (or so it seems to me).

          • Chris Burtt

            Evolution is not an ‘ism’ it is a scientific theory like any other.

            “What I meant was that keeping God outside your school, your house, your
            life, and whatever situation, will do harm to yourself, and to all you
            are connected to”

            An argument from adverse consequences and an association fallacy. A belief (or lack of belief) in God does not make someone a bad person. Some of the most evil, vile people in history have been Bible believing, church going people of faith.

            Teaching creationism in science classes does harm to children’s education. Religion belongs in church or Sunday school where people can choose to go and decide for themselves, it should never be forced down anyone’s throats.

        • Linking Christian faith with anti-science views that have not persuaded the overwhelming majority of scientists does harm to your argument, rather than helping it.

          • Cecil Bagpuss

            I quite agree. It just shows how careful you have to be with Bayes’ Theorem 🙂

        • Matthew Olmedo

          And how exactly does Baye’s theorum prove that life was intelligently designed?

          How exactly do you pull these numbers out, like 33%? or 67%? what physical evidence makes you claim this? 10^(-1170)? these numbers seem like you pulled them out of your ass.

          You claim evolution to be false because the probability is so low? well if that is the case, then proteins would never fold into their shapes because the probability of just one simple small protein is between 1.4E(-33) to 1.9 E(-48). Our bodies contain huge proteins that are contained of thousands of these smaller proteins. so the probability of one of those single proteins folding into their exact contortion in the milliseconds they do is even smaller than your 10^(-1170) estimate.
          The fact that proteins DO fold the way they do with such a low probability means that probability has nothing to do with what actually is true.
          We KNOW evolution is true because we have OBSERVED it firsthand.

          I work at the worlds fastest growing biotech companies as a bioprocess engineer. We couldn’t do our work if evolution were false. We use DNA and evolutionary biology to run diagnostics on various forms of Cancer. if evolution were false, then i guess all of our jobs are pointless.

          • Cecil Bagpuss

            I agree with you, but you need to do better than that. Protein folding is determined by the laws of physics. The sequence of bases in DNA isn’t determined by the laws of physics. If I read out to you a sequence of 50 bases, you won’t be able to use the laws of physics to predict what the 51st base will be.

            Edit: I assume that protein folding is determined by the laws of physics. If the folding depends on the help of enzymes, then, of course, the argument falls apart because the enzymes themselves are the result of evolution.

          • Matthew Olmedo

            Evolution is also guided by the laws of physics. If you think otherwise, you do no not clearly understand evolution.

            Protein folding happens via electrostatic forces. much like DNA replication happens due to these same forces.

            And you’re right, you cannot predict what that 51st base pair is.

            But just because one cannot predict what will happen, doesn’t mean that process doesn’t happen.

            We understand evolution to be true because we can trace species adapting and mutating to fit the environment. When one species changes into many subspecies, often times two subspecies will no longer be able to interbreed, This is called macroevolution. and is commonly witnessed in what’s called Ring Species.

            Not to mention the evidence that supports common ancestry between us and Chimpanzees lie in our chromosome #2.

        • Matthew Olmedo

          Also the Dembski Argument of Irreducible Complexity has been debunked many times by world renowned biologists like Kenneth R Miller.

          You can find out why Intelligent Design and Creationism AS SCIENCE, are false in his book “Finding Darwins God”

          It is a brilliantly written book that talks about why evolution is true and why there is no need to fear evolution when it comes to belief in creationism.

          I myself am a creationist. But creationism is a metaphysical philosophy. It isn’t science. Intelligent Design, isn’t science, it is a philosophy.

          And the only scientific theory that explains how species originate is the theory of evolution. Much like how the only theory that explains chemical reactions is Dalton’s Atomic Theory.

          If you know atoms to exist and to be true, then you have to say the same for evolution. They are both theories that have the same amount of observational evidence.

          • joriss

            Now I am not so good at all that evolution stuff, DNA, random mutation, natural selection. Still I read a book and even understood the point of that book: Genetic Entropy of John Sanford. A book that has been debunked many times by other scientists, but John Sanford himself is a scientist – one of the inventors of the gene gun – and is defending non-evolutionary creation in his book. You can’t say he knows nothing about the matter. He also says that what we see and consider to be evolution – changes in DNA that make organisms adapt to new environments is in fact degeneration, because by changing the DNA code in this way, other useful features of the organism will be diminished or damaged, so that the overall condition will have less probabilities. It is “specialised” in a narrow sense and can not return to it’s wider range of probabilities. Just like a Maltese dog has no longer the possibilty to develop into a multitude of races, as the wolves originally had.

          • Matthew Olmedo

            Mutations do not only diminish or damage quality traits, Mutations also ADD traits that are beneficial. Mutations both generate and degenerate. This is a common falsehood that people who appear to be scientists use to say that evolution is false. But they’re wrong.

            John Sanford isn’t an evolutionary biologist. He’s a horticulturist. And he was a scientist before DNA really was used to shed light on evolution. His understanding will be very very poor compared to people like Kenneth R Miller, Francis Collins, Francisco J Ayala, and the like.

          • joriss

            “Mutations also ADD traits that are beneficial.” Can you mention some?

          • Matthew Olmedo

            Yes, I can mention a project I am working on now.

            I work at the world’s fastest growing and smartest company in the world according to MIT’s technology journal. We are using DNA sequencing for the Diagnostics of Cancer, to develop personalized Treatments.

            In one of our projects, we have been contracted by Amgen, to sequence Colon and Rectal Cancers for specific mutations that allow the cancer to become resistant to Current treatments. Many patients have the cancer with this resilient cancer, and it is all due to a mutation in the genome.

            It isn’t beneficial for humanity, but for the Cancer, those living cells, that particular mutation has benefited the survival of the cancer.

            Another example is the p21 gene. Many species have a p21 gene. And in most species, the p21 gene hinders cells from replicating when parts of the DNA are damaged, or are replicated incorrectly. This gene isn’t 100% effective. This is why every time a cell replicates the DNA mutates in small portions. Mutation occurs every time a cell replicates.

            But in some species, the p21 gene has mutated drastically. big changes have allowed species with a particular mutation of the p21 gene to have regeneration capabilities. In some mice or reptiles, the mutated p21 gene allows their tails, toes, fingers, whole organ systems to regrow after being completely removed. We have taken mice and cut off their whole foot, and have watched the limb regrow itself. This is all due to the mutated p21 gene. So as you can see, these mutations have ADDED traits that are beneficial.

          • joriss

            In the first place, you’re doing a great job. In 2008 I had colon cancer myself and I was operated on the first Christmas Day. For 10 months I had a colostomy and I got chemical therapy for 7 months, urgh! And now, thank God, 6 years later I am totally free of cancer.

            But I wonder if you could speak of evolution in this case. Is the fact that a mutation could enable you to survive in some situation evidence of evolution? Has the cancer virus become a somewhat more complicated, a more sophisticated organism? But for the cancer it is a benevolent mutation, I agree.

            About the P21: is this gene mutated naturally? I read such a mouse story on internet, but it said that the P 21 gene was made inactive in the laboratory, so the mutation, if you could call it so, was artificiel. And what I also understand – correct me if I’m wrong – that by turning off this P21 gene, damage in DNA will increase. So will not the final balance be negative, as John Sanford supposes?

            I find it great that a mouse can have new feet, but is he really on a higher level? So I doubt if one could speak of evolution here. But I can be wrong ofcourse.

          • Matthew Olmedo

            You misunderstand evolution. Evolution doesn’t create ‘higher level’ organsisms. Such thinking is foolish.
            Evolution is simply change. change over time. And yes cancer evolves. Colon cancer today is not the same colon cancer that existed hundreds of years ago. it mutates. it changes. it becomes completely different.
            Yes, if a mutation enables you to develop a new trait and it helps you 1. survive and 2. reproduce more. then that trait will be passed on. and that is by definition evolution.

            In regards to the p21 gene, humans have genetically altered the p21 gene to be expressed differently to the point of regeneration in as you say mice. But that genetic altering was influenced because the p21 gene is expressed naturally in other species of mice, reptiles that naturally regenerate lost limbs etc….

            This is why researchers are trying to genetically engineer our own p21 gene to match those naturally expressed p21 genes so humans can regenerate lost limbs eventually.
            Turning off the p21 gene doesn’t “damage” DNA par se. it just allows mutations and changes to occur. This can either produce good or bad traits. Because of this, John Sanford is wrong when he states that all mutations are negative. or the balance is negative.

        • Matthew

          Baye’s Theorem doesn’t prove that.


          Event A and event B. All it demonstrates is the likelihood of each event occurring. Nothing more. If you’re using that to disprove evolution, you have a problem.

          I don’t really think you know what the Cambrian Explosion is either. It’s simply a time in earth’s history when stuff was more likely to be fossilized than others. Doesn’t say or indicate anything about the quantity of life forms, just the possibility of it being fossilized.

          Ok. So He calculated that. If you flip a coin a billion times, whats the possibility of it coming up heads every time? Very low. Now imagine having a billion people flipping a billion coins all at the same time. Get it.

          You have no grasp of probability or how it works if you’re using these age old retired arguments. Sorry bud.

          • Cecil Bagpuss

            Matthew, did you read the other comments? I have already pointed out that my original comment was a joke. I do NOT believe in intelligent design. This is where I got Demski’s figure.

            Even so, you still made a mess of the argument. If a protein can theoretically fold up in a vast number of ways but the actual configuration is determined by electrostatic forces, then there is nothing surprising about the fact that the target configuration is selected out of all imaginable configurations.

            To use that as an analogy for evolution is ridiculous. Yes, evolution happens in accordance with the laws of physics, but the words that I am now typing are also in accordance with the laws of physics. That doesn’t mean that those words require no more expanation than the fact that they are in accordance with the laws of physics.

            Your lesson for today, Matthew: try to cultivate a sense of humour.

          • Cecil

            If you’d like people to cultivate a sense of humor, you might help them out by actually being funny in the first place.

        • Chris Burtt

          “What they don’t realise is that the evidence of God’s work is overwhelming.”

          There is no evidence of a god or gods whatsoever.

          “Bayes’ Theorem proves beyond doubt that life has been intelligently designed.”

          Bayes’ Theorem does no such thing. It is only in your head.

          “Let’s consider the prior probability that the theory of evolution is true.”

          The probability is one.

          “To do this we will use the Cambrian explosion. This doesn’t really fit the theory of evolution;”

          Maybe you should actually what the Cambrian explosion actually is first. The Cambrian explosion is totally consistent with the theory of evolution.

          “so we will say, on this basis, that the prior probability of evolution is 33%.”

          Why would it be 33%? Either it is consistent or it isn’t, if it were not then the probability would be 50%

          “The only alternative to evolution is intelliigent design;”

          No it isn’t. that is a false dichotomy. Disproving evolution does not make ID true by default. Unlike gravity there is no viable alternative to evolution. ID does not have any explanatory power whatsoever.

          “All creatures share the same genetic code, and this is what you would expect for evolution. So this is 100% expected on evolution.”

          And so is the distribution of fossils around the world.Which is what we see.

          “I would argue that this is exactly how you would expect God to create life as well,”

          Only if God was a Bonehead:

          Next we look at the bacterial flagellum. William Dembski has demonstrated that the probability that the flagellum could be produced by evolution is 10^-1170. In other words, the consequent probability of evolution is now so low that there is no way back.

          The only thing that William Dembski has demonstrated is his total ignorance of how evolution actually works.It does not work on pure chance therefore all probability arguments against evolution are entirely meaningless.

          Evolution wins.

    • Are you saying that an all-powerful God is incapable of protecting children from the most horrific harm, simply because he doesn’t want to “force humans to do things they do not want to do”?

    • Ken

      That doesn’t make the T-shirt any better. It just means that the answer should be “Dear Concerned Student: I don’t want to infringe on the killer’s free will.”

  • Jeffery the Squirrel

    God pretty much does what he wants. I saw him kill a guy once.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    “Dear concerned student, I’m not allowed in schools.” -God

    “Dear God, Thanks for the reply, but surely you can still intervene outside the school property. I’m not sure how strong the magical secular restraining order is, but can’t you, like, turn the gun into a banana in the parking lot? Or while the potential shooter is at the bus stop? Or give the school psychologist a warning or vision or something before it’s too late (at home of course, that atheist voodoo is powerful stuff)? I’m just spit-balling here, but I think you get the idea. Again, thanks for the reply. I appreciate it, I really do, it’s just I know how rare such a direct intervention is so if they’re limited for some reason beyond my human understanding I wish you’d have saved it for any number of more worthy intercessions, like getting the next school shooter the help he needs before anyone dies and idiots who claim to speak for you can use it as an excuse to whine about how weak and helpless it turns out they think you are. For example.” -Concerned student

    • “Dear concerned student,

      You clearly don’t understand your own laws on the matter. Yes, public school teachers aren’t allowed to promote Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, or any other religion at school, but they can pray at school on their own time; and as a student you are perfectly free to pray, read the bible, and tell your fellow students about your beliefs. You can even start a Christian club, if you like!

      I am most certainly “allowed” at school. I do, however, prefer to remain silent on the matter of school shootings; you’ll have to figure out for yourself why I choose to allow such horrors to exist in the world.


  • David Pickett

    Thanks Professor for a thought-provoking article. Had I just seen the picture of the t-shirts without your comments, it would have simply reinforced my belief that most American Christians (and many around the world), are taught to accept things that don’t make sense. This is described as “faith,” as if faith is only concerned with intellectual assent. This conditions us to overlook faulty logic in our belief system, culture, politics, churches, t-shirts, etc. I find this to be disturbingly common even in the more “progressive” mainline denomination of which I am part.
    Your observation about rethinking our conception of God in light of our changing understanding of the world is an important one. I also think it is an idea that many will reject outright.