Friday, November 11, 2011


Long time.  I am reading irreligion by John Allen Paulos and came upon a unique chapter called My Dreamy Instant Message Exchange With God.  Here it is.

While writing the last two chapters on the cognitive foibles of humans and the many redefinitions of God, I dreamed I had a cryptic instant message exchange with a rather reasonable and self-effacing entity who claimed to be God.  This is my reconstruction of our conversation.

ME: Wow, you say you're God. Hope you don't take offense if I tell you that I don't believe in you.

GOD: No that's fine.  I doubt if I'd believe in me, either, if I were you. Sometimes I even doubt if I believe in me, and I am me. Your skepticism is bracing. I'm afraid I don;t have much patience for all those abjecy believers who prostrate themselves before me.

ME: Well, we share that sentiment, but I don't get it. In what sense are you God, aside from youe e-mail address - Are you all-powerful? All-knowing? Did you have something to do with the creation of the universe?

GOD: No, no and no, but from rather lowly beginnings I have grown more powerful, I've come to understand more, I've emerged into whatever it is I am, and I know enough not to pay too much attentionto nonsensical questions about the 'creation' of the universe.

ME: It's interesting that you claim to be God, yet use quotation marks to indicate your distancefrom the writings of some of thosw who believe in you.

GOD: I already told you that I'm a little tired of those people. I didn't create the universe, but gradually grew out of it or, if you like, evolved from the universe's 'biological-social-cultural' nature. How about that hyphenated word for quotation marks? You might guess that the quotation marks suggest that sometimes I want to distance myself from some of my own writings.

ME: I like that you're no literalist. Any evidence of irony or humor seems to me to be a good sign. Still, I'm not sure I understand. Are you saying that you sort of evolved out of something similar, maybe something like us humans?

GOD: I guess you could say that, except that my background is much more inclusive than that of just you humans. And looking around at what a mess you've made, I'm tempted to say, 'Thank God for that,' but that seems a little too self-congratulatory. Besides, you've done a lot of good things, too, and I've had my share of failure and misadventure, and I'm still learning.

ME: So, you're a bit of an underachieving comedian? And I take it you're a natural being, not a supernatural one?

GOD: Well, yes and no. I'm natural in the sense that any explanation of my provenance, existence, and slow development would be a scientific one. I'm supernatural only in the sense that I'm really rather super. That's not to say I'm super because I aspire to - excuse the term - lord it over you. It's just a straightforward statement of fact that along many dimensions (but not all) I've come to a greater understanding of things than you yet have. So it might be more accurate to say I'm relatively super.

ME: Relatively super, but still a relative. A bit mightier, but not almighty. Right?

GOD: Those are nice ways of putting it.

ME: And believers? As relatively super, you probably see them as pretty ignorant, maybe something like the cargo cultists of the Pacific, picking things to worship without any sort of natural context or much real understanding.

GOD: No, I'm more kindly disposed toward them than that. In fact, I love the poor benighted 'souls.' That last word is intended figuratively, of course.

ME: I'm still confused. Are you, despite being a bit mightier, ever confused about things? Are you ever torn in different directions, not completely certain?

GOD: Oh my God, yes. I'm regularly confused, torn, and uncertain about all manner of things. I can't measure up to all that perfect-God stuff. Makes me feel inferior. Whatever was that Anselm thinking? For example, I wish could constrain the most superficially ardent of my believers and tell them to cool it. Look around and think a bit. Marvel at what you've come to understand and endeavor to extend this scientific understanding. Then again I think, No, they have to figure this out form themselves.

ME: If you're as knowledgeable as you claim, why don't you at least explain to us lower orders the cure for cancer, say.

GOD: I can't do that right now.

ME: Why not? You can't intervene in the world?

GOD: Well, the world is very complicated, so I can't do so yet in any consistently effective way. Still, since I'm actually a part of the world, any future 'interventions,' as you call them, would be no more mysterious than the interventions of a wise anthropologist on the people he studies, people who in turn might influence the anthropologist. Nothing miraculous about entities affeting each other. Nothing easy about predicting the outcomes of these interactions, either, which is why I'm hesitant about interfering.

ME: You've declared you're advanced in many ways, but do you claim to be unique? Do other 'Gods' or other 'a bit mightiers' a bit mightier than you exist? Do other 'super universes' exist? See, I can use quotation marks, too. And where are you? In space? Inherent in other sentient beings? Part os some sort of world-brain?

GOD: Not sure what questions like these even mean. How do you distinguish beings or universes? And in what sense do you mean 'exist?' Exist like rocks, like numbers, like order and patterns, or maybe like the evanescent bloom of a flower? As I said, I'm not even sure I'm God, nor would I swear that you aren't. Maybe God is our ideals, our hopes, our projections, or maybe you humans are all super-simulations on some super yearn engine like God-gle.

ME: The Matrix, the dominatrix, the whatever. Hackneyed, no? Anyway, even if you do exist in some sense, and I'm not buying that, you're certainly nothing like God as conventionally conceived. Do you think there is a God of that sort?

GOD: I know of no good evidence or logical argument for one.

ME: I agree there, but I also suspect most people would find you a pretty poor substitute for that God.

GOD: That's tough, just too, too bad. Something like me is the best they're going to get, and that's if they get anything at all. But as I said, I'm not positive about any of this, so let's forget the God blather for now. If I had a head, I'd have a headache. What do you say?

ME: Okay, thy will be done, if you say so. Let's just listen to some music, assuming you have ears on your non-existent head.

GOD: Yeah. (God laughs.)

ME: Yeah. (I wake up.)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

There are so many voices...

So there I was reading a post from Edward Feser's blog about criticisms of his book The Last Superstition.  I am just about done with the book, and decided to contact Mr. Feser about some propositions that did not seem apparent to me.  The first had to do with the Platonic idea that numbers are discovered rather than invented (p. 40).  I sat back and pondered this (not for the first time) and decided to see what humans in cypberspace thought, which brought me to a discussion thread on said topic, which contained a link to Roger Penrose's book The Road to Reality, as well as a link to an article by Barry Mazur on The Question.  After I read the description it magically appeared in my Wish List.  Imagine that!  Then I went on to discover some other titles by Penrose, The Emperor's New Mind, Shadows of the Mind and Cycles of Time.  Needless to say, my brain is seriously strange, and I have way too many books in my Wish List.  Happy reading!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Whole New Level

Attendance is down. Times are tough. The catch phrases churches put on their signs don't really have to be in the good book do they?

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Power of Mind

I am reading The Good Book: A Humanist Bible by A.C. Grayling and came upon something I would like to share. 

The following is from the Parables, Chapter 13: In ancient Athens the philosopohers thought out their best ideas walking up and down their groves; nature sobers us and instructs us. When we look up at the night sky we are giddied by its vastness, and the immense distance of the stars; And when we look down the steeps of a mountain into the abyss below, we nearly fall; And when the moon paints everything silver and white in the stillness of night, when all others sleep and only we ourselves wake, and are watchful and sad, Then we hear the voice of thought, and come face to face with ourselves, with the brevity of life, with the lack of all we once had and have lost; And yet, also, once we have been patient awhile and continued to listen, we come face to face with hope. For we learn then, if we are brave, the power of mind, which is the greatest thing in man; of how, though man is small before nature, his mind can encompass all nature, In thinking of it, and singing about it, searching it in science, and celebrating it in poetry. So I think all the sages found both courage and modesty through the mind's contact with nature, and these two things are the begetters of hope. Is there proof that they were right to hope? Well, only consider: it is many centuries since the first sages paced their groves, and their words and thoughts are with us today, and we speak of them; Though nature conquered their bodies and their bodies are dispersed into the elements once more, the fruit of their minds is with us still. I like to think of the philosophers walking in their groves. What a mistake it is to stop the child fidgeting (so they call it) over his book, for the body must be active as the mind learns. It would be best to teach children while walking in a meadow. You see the scholars swaying as they recite their texts; mind is part of the dance; let the body be active when the mind is active too. Though it is good to be in the kingdom of one's library, walking with the greatest of the past in thought, it is good to takethe thoughts thus acquired into the air, For though it is true that literature is the criticism of life, so is it also true that life is the criticism of learning. Another of the sayings written on our city walls is this: let the door to the library of the world open from the library of one's books, and vice versa.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Not the Poly-Unsaturated!

I want to apologize to creationists throughout the world. I was too focused on researching the "real" proteins that are supposed to synthesize life. I never thought to delve into the proteins of the rich creamy counterpart to my raspberry jelly in order to falsify my religion that you call evolution.

Friday, May 20, 2011

I think its beautiful

This is one of those videos that makes me feel awesome. I don't really have words to explain my feelings but when it comes to the universal language, I don't need to put them into words. Math is perfect.

From Massimo With Love

This video is courtesy of Massimo Pigliucci at Rationally SpeakingIt's fast and informative.  However, if I am not mistaken, the statement about the universe collapsing in on itself after enough time, seems like a conclusion jump.  I thought that this would happen only if there was a certain amount of matter and/or energy in the universe.  And since the dark matter debate is still open and lively this would be an open market of ideas.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Another one bites the dust

I do not condone taking pictures with your cell phone while driving but I could not miss this once in a lifetime opportunity:

There is a verse from Ecclesiastes on the back and announcements on the sides telling us "it" is all going to end on the 21st.  I want to know how these specific people will explain this away on the 22nd.  I hope they didn't get rid of all their earthly possessions like these people.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Friday, April 29, 2011

About a Friend

A writer for the Guardian, Martin Amis, attempts to capture the essence of Christopher Hitchens in this wonderful and eloquent pieceThe article contains contextually perfect quotes and humbling witticisms - a must read. 

I have utter respect for the Hitch, but at the same time I also can't help but think his friend Amis speaks powerfully in his final paragraphs:

My dear Hitch: there has been much wild talk, among the believers, about your impending embrace of the sacred and the supernatural. This is of course insane. But I still hope to convert you, by sheer force of zealotry, to my own persuasion: agnosticism. In your seminal book, God Is Not Great, you put very little distance between the agnostic and the atheist; and what divides you and me (to quote Nabokov yet again) is a rut that any frog could straddle. "The measure of an education," you write elsewhere, "is that you acquire some idea of the extent of your ignorance." And that's all that "agnosticism" really means: it is an acknowledgment of ignorance. Such a fractional shift (and I know you won't make it) would seem to me consonant with your character – with your acceptance of inconsistencies and contradictions, with your intellectual romanticism, and with your love of life, which I have come to regard as superior to my own.

The atheistic position merits an adjective that no one would dream of applying to you: it is lenten. And agnosticism, I respectfully suggest, is a slightly more logical and decorous response to our situation – to the indecipherable grandeur of what is now being (hesitantly) called the multiverse. The science of cosmology is an awesome construct, while remaining embarrassingly incomplete and approximate; and over the last 30 years it has garnered little but a series of humiliations. So when I hear a man declare himself to be an atheist, I sometimes think of the enterprising termite who, while continuing to go about his tasks, declares himself to be an individualist. It cannot be altogether frivolous or wishful to talk of a "higher intelligence" – because the cosmos is itself a higher intelligence, in the simple sense that we do not and cannot understand it.

Anyway, we do know what is going to happen to you, and to everyone else who will ever live on this planet. Your corporeal existence, O Hitch, derives from the elements released by supernovae, by exploding stars. Stellar fire was your womb, and stellar fire will be your grave: a just course for one who has always blazed so very brightly. The parent star, that steady-state H-bomb we call the sun, will eventually turn from yellow dwarf to red giant, and will swell out to consume what is left of us, about six billion years from now.

It's a Strange World in There

I am in the process of reading John Loftus' book Why I Became An Atheist and I came upon a wonderfully descriptive paragraph that sums up Christianity from the view of someone, I claim, who is completely unbiased and knows nothing about religion.  It is in the beginning of Chapter 7: The Strange and Superstitious World of the Bible.

"We find a world where a snake and a donkey talked, where giants lived in the land, where people could live to be nine-hundred-plus years old, where a woman was turned into a pillar of salt, where a pillar of fire could lead people by night, where the sun stopped moving across the sky or could even back up, where an ax head could float on water, where a star could point down to a specific home, where people could instantly speak in unlearned foreign languages, and where someone's shadow or handkerchief could heal people.  It is a world where a flood could cover the whole earth, and where a man could walk on water, calm a stormy sea, change water into wine, or be swallowed by a "great fish" and live to tell about it.  It is a world populated by demons that could wreak havoc on earth and aslo make people very sick.  It is a world full of idol worship, where human and animal sacrifices pleased God.  In this world we find visions, inspired dreams, prophetic utterances, miracle workers, magicians, diviners, and sorcerers.  It is a world where God lived in the sky (heaven) and people who died went to live in the dark recesses of the earth (Sheol)."

I can't believe these things happened.  Perhaps if I witnessed several of these situations, and there was a large group of people who claimed to have experienced them as well, would I begin to think "Something strange is going on here.  Maybe it's time to rethink my view of reality."  Either that or "I drank way too much Absinthe."

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hitchens' Address to American Atheists

Such an eloquent man.  Thank you to Pharyngula.

Christopher Hitchens was scheduled to appear at the American Atheist convention, but had to cancel because of his illness. He sent this letter instead.

Dear fellow-unbelievers,
Nothing would have kept me from joining you except the loss of my voice (at least my speaking voice) which in turn is due to a long argument I am currently having with the specter of death. Nobody ever wins this argument, though there are some solid points to be made while the discussion goes on. I have found, as the enemy becomes more familiar, that all the special pleading for salvation, redemption and supernatural deliverance appears even more hollow and artificial to me than it did before. I hope to help defend and pass on the lessons of this for many years to come, but for now I have found my trust better placed in two things: the skill and principle of advanced medical science, and the comradeship of innumerable friends and family, all of them immune to the false consolations of religion. It is these forces among others which will speed the day when humanity emancipates itself from the mind-forged manacles of servility and superstitition. It is our innate solidarity, and not some despotism of the sky, which is the source of our morality and our sense of decency.

That essential sense of decency is outraged every day. Our theocratic enemy is in plain view. Protean in form, it extends from the overt menace of nuclear-armed mullahs to the insidious campaigns to have stultifying pseudo-science taught in American schools. But in the past few years, there have been heartening signs of a genuine and spontaneous resistance to this sinister nonsense: a resistance which repudiates the right of bullies and tyrants to make the absurd claim that they have god on their side. To have had a small part in this resistance has been the greatest honor of my lifetime: the pattern and original of all dictatorship is the surrender of reason to absolutism and the abandonment of critical, objective inquiry. The cheap name for this lethal delusion is religion, and we must learn new ways of combating it in the public sphere, just as we have learned to free ourselves of it in private.

Our weapons are the ironic mind against the literal: the open mind against the credulous; the courageous pursuit of truth against the fearful and abject forces who would set limits to investigation (and who stupidly claim that we already have all the truth we need). Perhaps above all, we affirm life over the cults of death and human sacrifice and are afraid, not of inevitable death, but rather of a human life that is cramped and distorted by the pathetic need to offer mindless adulation, or the dismal belief that the laws of nature respond to wailings and incantations.

As the heirs of a secular revolution, American atheists have a special responsibility to defend and uphold the Constitution that patrols the boundary between Church and State. This, too, is an honor and a privilege. Believe me when I say that I am present with you, even if not corporeally (and only metaphorically in spirit...) Resolve to build up Mr Jefferson's wall of separation. And don't keep the faith.

Christopher Hitchens

Friday, April 22, 2011

Psalm 14:1

I cannot quite remember where I heard the reference to this scripture.

1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.  2 The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. 3 They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 4 Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread, and call not upon the LORD. 5 There were they in great fear: for God is in the generation of the righteous. 6 Ye have shamed the counsel of the poor, because the LORD is his refuge. 7 Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! when the LORD bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.

I thought God loved everyone?  Including me, a non-believer!  How am I corrupt?  I find it fulfilling to be truthful and honest.  What are my abominable works?  I always listen to my students when they have problems.  I do not do good things?  My wife, my family, my co-workers, my friends and strangers would attest to the fact of my altruism.  If I am working towards an understanding of how our wonderful world works, am I not seeking the truth?  How am I filthy?  I may be a 'worker of iniquity', but I have much knowledge.  Am I a cannibal?  OK, I know that is not a literal translation, but hey, who am I to know what God would have me understand in a literal or figurative sense? 

Darn it, this saddens me...OK no it doesn't.  I will always be on an ethical quest for knowledge and if this is frowned upon by the Christain God who apparently made me the way I am, then well now I'm just confused.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Evidence 4 Faith

I try to be unbiased and listen to both sides of any argument.  I cannot be quick to judge, especially since I am a teacher.  But when it comes to the guys at Evidence 4 Faith, I just have to speak my mind.  This is a Christian apologetic blog and podcast site.  The podcast I was listening to was Choosing among the world's religions

The first thing that should sound the alarms is one host stating that someone proved to him that God exists.  I shouldn't have to elaborate on the consequences of this.  Next, the other host attempts to explain how to prove God's existence.  How you may ask?  By looking around at the natural world.  "This is a God thing.  God must have done this."  The logical fallacy meter is now broken.  "I can see God in nature.  I can see natural order.  I can see things that go well beyond the primordial soup."  What does this even mean?  "There are great evidences in the natural world that we can see if were open to looking for them."  They go on to describe the beauty of the stars and of the pictures of cells at the sub-microscopic level.  I can absorb this beauty and let it fill me with awe and wonder, but I am not invoking their wants. 

Later on they state that "all religions cannot all be true.  One of us is wrong.  You can't have everybody correct in their choice of religion."  No justification.  Wow!  I didn't know pluralism was invalid.  News to me.  I have heard apologists state that all religions might not be true, but never definitively like this. 

Next point: they claim there definitively was a beginning with the Big Bang.  Now I know this is the reigning theory of how all the cosmos came into existence, but the way they fashion this statement is intellectually dishonest.  "This is how the atheist attempts to explain our origins.  You can't create nothing out of nothing."  The way apologists make this claim seems arrogant in its defiance of how the process that is science works. 

The next section's focus is lost on me.  "The Big Bang, I call it the Big Flash on purpose because in space there is a vaccuum, you don't have noise you don't have the Big Bang per se.  Flash of light, and I try to frame this in Einstein's equation E = mc^2, which means the energy is equal to mass, the mass of the planets and the universe and everything, times the speed of light, which is 186,000 miles per second, squared, which is an astronomical number.  If you look at that in the context of energy and mass and light, yes there was a Big Flash, and that's my news flash to the secular humanists."  I was truly at a loss for words when I heard this.  Does this man think that because he remembered the speed of light and one of Einstein's equations, that he is now a cosmologist?  No where does he state how this equation has anything to do with the Big Bang, Flash I'm sorry.  The sad thing is that the Christians hearing him attempting to sound scientifically literate are thiking to themselves, "Wow, this guy is smart.  God must exist and Christianity must be true if he says so."

Next: We can learn that God is a personal God by studying nature.  He has volition and is conscious and has thoughts.  If we read a holy text and that God is not described like that then we know this religion is not correct.  How is God's "personal" side reflected in the beauty of a landscape of snow-capped mountains?  When I walk through a forest I do not stop at the stream and conclude that some deity has thoughts, let alone that I can realize what those thoughts are. 

The "connections" these guys try to make are not even connections.  They seem to be rambling on incoherently with a smitter of science and a smatter of 'feel-good, Christian God is conscious and loves you' talk.  For them to be propagating their rhetoric to the world through this podcast is dishonest and disingenuous.  Period.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

More Craig/Sinnott

OK so I am posting another tidbit about this debate. At one point in the debate, WLC and Walter are answering questions posed by the audience. One person asked Walter "On what basis would you respond to the evidence for Jesus rising from the dead and its relevance to God and the problem of evil?" Sinnott supplies a wonderful analogy. First, he states that he does not think there is sufficient evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He says there is some historical evidence that some people reported that the grave was empty after 3 days. He then explains how a psychologist would analyze this testimony from 3 decades after the fact. When they are surrounded by peer pressure which points them in a specific direction, this is exactly when eyewitness testimony is not reliable. Naturally, we would not accept this kind of evidence in a court of law.

Now the good stuff. He states 'even if the grave were empty, this would not show that Jesus Christ ascended into heaven. That's like saying if I have a point of my favorite ice cream, which by the way happens to be Coconut Almond Fudge Chip by Ben and Jerry's, in the freezer and I am dying to have some when I come home and it's not there and my daughter Miranda says "I didn't take it" and my son Nick says "I didn't take it" and my wife Liz says "I didn't take it", that I conclude that the ice cream ascended into heaven and sitting at the right hand of Ben and Jerry.'

Friday, April 8, 2011

Gratuitous Evil: God's Dagger

So I am listening to a debate between William Lane Craig and Walter Sinnott. This is one where Craig's opponent actually gets to speak first. In watching the thread at Debunking Christianity the other day about WLC vs Sam Harris, I realized that WLC always speaks first. This in itself is interesting. However, I digress. WLC begins with "As a strictly intellectual problem" (ignoring emotion), "the problem of evil does not constitute a disproof of God." Well duh! There can never be a proof of a negative. Here is where WLC summarizes Sinnott's argument: 1) If God exists, gratuitous evil does not exist. By this WLC means "evil which is morally unjustified, evil which God would have no morally sufficient reason to commit." 2) Gratuitous evil exists. 3) Therefore, God d.n.e. Now of course as a math teacher I will use shorthand notation whenever I can.

Let's look at WLC's interjection between 1) and 2). Gratuitous evil is evil which God would have no morally sufficient reason to commit. Why does God need a reason to do anything? If God is the supreme being of all that has ever and will ever exist, does he need to act morally according to human standards? How does the objective morality exuding from God translate into a code which humans must live by in order to attain salvation? I know, I know, it seems like salvation comes only in our dreams. Wait a minute, that's Nine Inch Nails. I digress again. If evil is something which we should try not to be, why does our supposed creator make evil seem the way it does to us humans, as, well evil, even if it is supposed to balance the cosmic scales at some future time?

I am now reading this to my wife,(so she can proof read it - I suck at writing) and I think she just realized that she is not a Catholic or a Christian. Her beliefs would categorize her as a pantheist or animist, I'm not sure.

Anyway, I might report on the rest of the debate, but for now these are my thoughts.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

And people ask what's the harm...

I saw that The Religion Virus blog tried to post about this. I couldn't raise the post so I found it watched it and now I am disgusted, yet villified. This girl's message is one of only a few reasons for which religion is bad for humanity and its progress.

We should all know now that this was a spoof.  However, I do not think it is necessarily a good thing seeing how there are people in the world like this whose unintelligence would be imboldened, however that occurs.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New Rubik's Record

I am a math nerd. I am also a Rubik's Cube nerd. I am a speedcuber. Some of my students laugh at me, but some of their hobbies are beyond laughable. Here is a video of my fastest solve.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Mathematics IS Beautiful

The parent who sounded off about me showing Carl Sagan videos ON Carl Sagan Day in the local newspaper contacted me again. This is to be expected - his child is one of my students. I expect communication. This email however is interesting. It contained a video that I have seen before (one of those circulating emails). It is titled The Beauty of Mathematics.

I actually appreciate that he sent me this. I always enjoy playing around with numbers and seeking out patterns here and there that perhaps someone else wouldn't have caught.

But that's the point. We are creatures of habit (I tell my students this all the time - sometimes it's a good thing, sometomes a bad thing) and we will project patterns where sometimes there really aren't any. The interesting thing about receiving this video from him, though, is he thinks that the content somehow validates his position in terms of the existence of a higher power. I think what he fails to realize is that 'hardwork' and 'attitude' are single words, while 'love of god' is a phrase of three words. What I would suggest is to use just 'god'. If we do, then 'god' amounts to 26%. Hmmm. Even the lowest of the Algebra II students I have would score better than 26% on an exam.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Quiz Bowl

I am the coach for our school's quiz bowl team. It is similar to Academic Challenge. We compete against schools from our conference mostly. A match consists of 10 category rounds, an alphabet round and a lightning round. The category round is self-explanatory. The alphabet round is random general knowledge questions where every answer starts with a designated letter. The lightning round is also general knowledge but you have to be the first to buzz in with the correct answer.

I was going through the rules for our conference finals and came upon this:

The match will conclude with 20 questions in a Lightning Round. The
questions will be drawn from the previous ten categories (American Literature, Mathematics, World History, Fine Arts, Life Science, English/World Literature, U.S. Government/Economics, Physical Science
World Geography, U.S. History) as well as mythology, spelling, popular culture, world religion, world literature, philosophy, earth and space science, quotations, and theater.

I was wondering why they kept mythology separate from world religion. It is quite strange exactly how many religion-based questions come up and how few are answered correctly. When the kids don't answer (much of the time) I look at them in awe. The majority of the students I run into are not believers, but I don't think it is because they have read of all the absurdities and contradictions in the bible.