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Sam Harris
Sam Harris is the author of the New York Times bestseller, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason and Letter to a Christian Nation. He is a graduate in philosophy from Stanford University and has studied both Eastern and Western religious traditions, along with a variety of...




 



 
 

An Atheist Manifesto

Sam Harris argues against irrational faith and its adherents

(Page 4)

Religion as a Source of Violence
One of the greatest challenges facing civilization in the 21st century is for human beings to learn to speak about their deepest personal concerns—about ethics, spiritual experience and the inevitability of human suffering—in ways that are not flagrantly irrational. Nothing stands in the way of this project more than the respect we accord religious faith. Incompatible religious doctrines have balkanized our world into separate moral communities—Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, etc.—and these divisions have become a continuous source of human conflict. Indeed, religion is as much a living spring of violence today as it was at any time in the past. The recent conflicts in Palestine (Jews versus Muslims), the Balkans (Orthodox Serbians versus Catholic Croatians; Orthodox Serbians versus Bosnian and Albanian Muslims), Northern Ireland (Protestants versus Catholics), Kashmir (Muslims versus Hindus), Sudan (Muslims versus Christians and animists), Nigeria (Muslims versus Christians), Ethiopia and Eritrea (Muslims versus Christians), Sri Lanka (Sinhalese Buddhists versus Tamil Hindus), Indonesia (Muslims versus Timorese Christians), Iran and Iraq (Shiite versus Sunni Muslims), and the Caucasus (Orthodox Russians versus Chechen Muslims; Muslim Azerbaijanis versus Catholic and Orthodox Armenians) are merely a few cases in point. In these places religion has been the explicit cause of literally millions of deaths in the last 10 years.

In a world riven by ignorance, only the atheist refuses to deny the obvious: Religious faith promotes human violence to an astonishing degree. Religion inspires violence in at least two senses: (1) People often kill other human beings because they believe that the creator of the universe wants them to do it (the inevitable psychopathic corollary being that the act will ensure them an eternity of happiness after death). Examples of this sort of behavior are practically innumerable, jihadist suicide bombing being the most prominent. (2) Larger numbers of people are inclined toward religious conflict simply because their religion constitutes the core of their moral identities. One of the enduring pathologies of human culture is the tendency to raise children to fear and demonize other human beings on the basis of religion. Many religious conflicts that seem driven by terrestrial concerns, therefore, are religious in origin. (Just ask the Irish.)

These facts notwithstanding, religious moderates tend to imagine that human conflict is always reducible to a lack of education, to poverty or to political grievances. This is one of the many delusions of liberal piety. To dispel it, we need only reflect on the fact that the Sept. 11 hijackers were college educated and middle class and had no discernable history of political oppression. They did, however, spend an inordinate amount of time at their local mosque talking about the depravity of infidels and about the pleasures that await martyrs in Paradise. How many more architects and mechanical engineers must hit the wall at 400 miles an hour before we admit to ourselves that jihadist violence is not a matter of education, poverty or politics? The truth, astonishingly enough, is this: A person can be so well educated that he can build a nuclear bomb while still believing that he will get 72 virgins in Paradise. Such is the ease with which the human mind can be partitioned by faith, and such is the degree to which our intellectual discourse still patiently accommodates religious delusion. Only the atheist has observed what should now be obvious to every thinking human being: If we want to uproot the causes of religious violence we must uproot the false certainties of religion.

Why is religion such a potent source of human violence?

  • Our religions are intrinsically incompatible with one another. Either Jesus rose from the dead and will be returning to Earth like a superhero or not; either the Koran is the infallible word of God or it isn’t. Every religion makes explicit claims about the way the world is, and the sheer profusion of these incompatible claims creates an enduring basis for conflict.
  • There is no other sphere of discourse in which human beings so fully articulate their differences from one another, or cast these differences in terms of everlasting rewards and punishments. Religion is the one endeavor in which us-them thinking achieves a transcendent significance. If a person really believes that calling God by the right name can spell the difference between eternal happiness and eternal suffering, then it becomes quite reasonable to treat heretics and unbelievers rather badly. It may even be reasonable to kill them. If a person thinks there is something that another person can say to his children that could put their souls in jeopardy for all eternity, then the heretic next door is actually far more dangerous than the child molester. The stakes of our religious differences are immeasurably higher than those born of mere tribalism, racism or politics.
  • Religious faith is a conversation-stopper. Religion is only area of our discourse in which people are systematically protected from the demand to give evidence in defense of their strongly held beliefs. And yet these beliefs often determine what they live for, what they will die for, and—all too often—what they will kill for. This is a problem, because when the stakes are high, human beings have a simple choice between conversation and violence. Only a fundamental willingness to be reasonable—to have our beliefs about the world revised by new evidence and new arguments—can guarantee that we will keep talking to one another. Certainty without evidence is necessarily divisive and dehumanizing. While there is no guarantee that rational people will always agree, the irrational are certain to be divided by their dogmas.

It seems profoundly unlikely that we will heal the divisions in our world simply by multiplying the opportunities for interfaith dialogue. The endgame for civilization cannot be mutual tolerance of patent irrationality. While all parties to liberal religious discourse have agreed to tread lightly over those points where their worldviews would otherwise collide, these very points remain perpetual sources of conflict for their coreligionists. Political correctness, therefore, does not offer an enduring basis for human cooperation. If religious war is ever to become unthinkable for us, in the way that slavery and cannibalism seem poised to, it will be a matter of our having dispensed with the dogma of faith.

When we have reasons for what we believe, we have no need of faith; when we have no reasons, or bad ones, we have lost our connection to the world and to one another. Atheism is nothing more than a commitment to the most basic standard of intellectual honesty: One’s convictions should be proportional to one’s evidence. Pretending to be certain when one isn’t—indeed, pretending to be certain about propositions for which no evidence is even conceivable—is both an intellectual and a moral failing. Only the atheist has realized this. The atheist is simply a person who has perceived the lies of religion and refused to make them his own.




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Dig last updated on Dec. 7, 2005


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By Tom Edgar, October 10, 2011 at 8:27 pm Link to this comment

Grinner. Once again it is you who avoids evidence.

Will you begin to understand that being an atheist is simply one thing only.  A non belief in a deity, any deity. How things come into existence is irrelevant to that.  Man invented a deity to explain that of which he did not have knowledge.

We do not have to prove the existence of something that does not exist, it is a nonsense to pursue that angle. The reverse is that the existence of something should be provable.

Following this, and addressing your St Thomas Aquinas fixation with the premise that all things require a creator,  I only ask one question of you which I guarantee that you will not even address.

From whence came the Creator and who created it?

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By Reit1, October 10, 2011 at 7:42 pm Link to this comment

Who are these many scientists who are “believers”..and what do they “believe” in?  Also, how do you know they know more than you or I about science?

Please explain.

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By grin1020, October 10, 2011 at 7:25 pm Link to this comment

Didn’t know that I was attacking…listen folks, I recognize the games that you all play. We both know what macroevolution is and that it doesn’t exist. We all know that blue whales and grasshoppers didn’t evolve from a common ancestor. We all know what faith is. We all know that there are many reputable scientists that are believers, so can we dispense with the games? I certainly do not claim to have all the answers…even if you do. I have posted several aspects of evidence pointing to an intelligent Creator. Of course, you all focus on evolution because it is the only drum you have to beat against. Please teach me about the water, the temperature, the gravity between planets and solar systems, the blood clotting mechanisms…I’m all ears. We are oil and water, so let’s not pretend that we will convert one another. Whose argument is stronger? I have an eternal spirit and I believe that each of you do as well. What I would really like to have someone respond to is how entropy reveals itself in sustaining life. Can you respond in terms other than evolution? Talk about a tired argument!

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By Tom Edgar, October 10, 2011 at 6:49 pm Link to this comment

Grinner.

You really know how to hurt people.  Here you go vilifying and denigrating people, which is the route taken by those who have no answer to questions asked.

The hurtful part is you totally ignored my polite requests to address with non answers somebody else.

You would make a wonderful Politician,  Oops!! sorry I didn’t really mean to be insulting.

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By Night-Gaunt, October 10, 2011 at 3:25 pm Link to this comment

Well Grin2012 you didn’t waste any time in attacking someones person here. So low. Brain damaged? Now that is pitiful. You have nothing else including any examples to prove your point. Just a balloon full of hot air and looks large but really is demunitive when the air escapes. You definitely have no respect from me beyond a certain amount of cordiality. Other than that you jumped a few runs down as far as being a decent person. You have some earning to do to reach that nadir you were on before. Buck up and be decent. Aren’t Christians supposed to be “up right citizens?”

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By Reit1, October 10, 2011 at 3:24 pm Link to this comment

I can’t tell you how much I don’t care about “your respect”. This is a discussion thread..your respect or lack of it - is irrelevant.

Who are these many scientists who are “believers”..and what do they “believe” in?  Also, how do you know they know more than you or I about science?

Please explain.

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By grin1020, October 10, 2011 at 3:11 pm Link to this comment

Reit1 -
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.You should exercise caution in calling others fools. Fools are people that do things like wishing cancer on others.There are many scientists that are believers…men and women that know a lot more about science than both of us combined. Rest assured, Reit1…I probably won’t be taking much advice from you. You are emotionally damaged in some way. Your words may influence most of the people on this forum, but you haven’t yet earned my respect.

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By Night-Gaunt, October 10, 2011 at 1:30 pm Link to this comment

One of the items I recommend to believers is to read their Bible. But not in the pious all accepting way they are taught to but in a critical analytical way. (Like they would read anything else they don’t think is Christian.) There is always a chance that one of them will do it. But they really hate that we are “know-it-alls” even when we are not. But we tend to know more than they do about most things including their own mythology! But then we study they don’t. That really wrankles them so.

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By Reit1, October 10, 2011 at 7:38 am Link to this comment

::::“If you were to prove ME wrong, does that prove you right”?:::: 

...Much closer to being right than you are ever going to be with a creationist’s worm’s eye view of things.  But who said we had the absolute “truth”, anyway?  The point is to keep looking for it and not stop at the archaic books that were written when people didn’t understand the world nearly as well as we do today.  And the only avenue that has come close to truly healing people or helping people to understand the world and the Universe to the degree we do today is ...science…not a Bible.  You’re a silly person to actually believe that your misunderstanding of evolution would make me want to volley with the same old played out lines.

As for people with no lives…that must be everyone with an internet connection since most everyone, including you, are blogging, discussing things on threads, finding new friends around the world through social networking, etc. Many of us work via the net! NO ONE has a life?  Your primitive nature is showing, and it explains a lot. 

Advice: save your attempt at cheap shots of foolishness since you will always fail at making any sensible point. Reason will beat out faith anyday, all day..any time and in any place.  Reason comes from evidence and thought.  Faith comes from blind convictions based on what you want to believe verses what is true.  Blind faith has proved over and over again to be dangerous.  It’s time for you to stop being a fool, and really read the Bible.  After that, read some science material.  Then, stop lying to yourself.

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By Night-Gaunt, October 9, 2011 at 6:08 pm Link to this comment

Grin2012 why don’t you show us the scientific proof of Special Creation? Should be simple enough because no amount of people could hide such a thing. We wait your answer with baited breath. But I won’t be holding it.

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By Tom Edgar, October 9, 2011 at 5:17 pm Link to this comment

As I, once again, found it impossible to log in as a member I’ll try as a visitor.

Grinner.  You proved nothing to anybody except yourself. Not a single piece of verifiable, material, replicable evidence, and what is more ignored totally the second part. i.e evidence for the creation of the creator.

Even if you were remotely capable of producing a scintilla of investigable evidence for the Judaic mythological being it would still leave out the thousands of other Gods of both present day, and past, mythological beings, along with the Australian Aborigine Serpent “Dreamtime.” beginnings.

Even the figures and silly interpretations you used could as easily be used to prove the non existence of a Creator. In other words they are just a collection of terminological inexactitudes, proving nothing whatsoever.

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By grin1020, October 9, 2011 at 5:07 pm Link to this comment

There is plenty of time to respond to all of you. Some food for thought.

If you were to prove ME wrong, does that prove you right?

If macroevolution is indeed just a very large number of micro-events, then would you argue that ALL life evolved from the SAME life? Example…did blue whales and grasshoppers evolve from a common ancestor?

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By Felonious Monk, October 9, 2011 at 4:55 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I tend to treat religion as myth and fantasy when other people are doing it, and an area well worthy of exploration when I’m doing it. I also don’t think any argument on either side has ever “proven” their case definitively either way…except for individuals, whose personal bar of proof one or the other may satisfy. As a rule, the more cocksure a person or group is when presenting their argument (as if the intensity of being totally convinced of one’s own rightness is ITSELF proof of being correct), the more unconvincing their argument tends to be. It tends to work well for preaching to the choir, but be far more flimsy on the scales of critical logic than arguments more modest in their conclusions.

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By Night-Gaunt, October 9, 2011 at 3:39 pm Link to this comment

The Sned I know you meant to say “mutation” but “nutation” is a neurological anomoly that caused the head to move around, from side-to-side, like a snake’s—-a trait of Sherlock Holme’s enemy Moriarty. Gives me a chance to go geek here.

I treat all religions as myth and fantasy. A way for our ancestors to explain things bigger than themselves like earth quakes and thunder storms.

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By THE SNED, October 9, 2011 at 3:19 pm Link to this comment

John: Until the invention of the printing press only the clergy in the RCC were allowed to read the bible.Forget about the common folk.

RE: Evolution…a recent story. Kid asks a teacher if we were related genetically to monkey’s to which she replied “Try yeast.”

And a final comment…there in no reason to believe that our intelligence is anything but a nutation gone wrong…the proof is our ability to destroy ourselves and others who are one with planet while we care not.
Some scientists blame the discovery of oil as a fuel.

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By John, October 9, 2011 at 12:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I have been reading The Case for God [Deckle Edge] [Hardcover]
Karen Armstrong. the other side of the coin.
She argues that in the major religions God was something that you experienced through rituals, practices and prayers. Nothing including the Bible was taken literally before a couple of hundred of years, ago.

If you are open minded, read material from all sides. If not the mind is an open and shut case… and a pretty small world.

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By Night-Gaunt, October 9, 2011 at 10:23 am Link to this comment

The problem with Evolution is that it shows that “Special Creation” is a myth. Since it shows that every type of life is related to every other one on this planet. Nothing is really “special” about life forms considering how close life is on this planet to each other.

I would have expected with “Special Creation” that all life would be different significantly from the next. But no go on that. And on top of it there is such things as DNA drifting to other species and the occasional strong hybrid like the recently created coyote/wolf which displays the best characteristics of both subspecies which could lead to a new species if it can breed true. Evolution isn’t precise but it does work for something continues to survive here. Unlike Mars if it ever had any life it is either gone or gone underground.

Evolution continues too. In some cases faster than previously anticipated. Also the new field of epigenetics show that the changing environment can bring out some other characteristics in the genome within the next generation.

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By Tom Edgar, October 9, 2011 at 12:05 am Link to this comment

Grinner.

If you were correct about macro evolution which clearly you are not. How would it prove “Creation.”??
Reit’s answer is enough for the macro piece of twaddle.

Then explain how the Creator was created.

Please forward any replicable verifiable evidence for “Creation.”.  Nobody else ever has. You could be the next Nobel, or ignoble, prize winner.

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By Reit1, October 8, 2011 at 10:21 pm Link to this comment

*groan*  This is such an old argument for creationists.  Just read then rephrase what your problem is.

http://atheism.about.com/od/evolutionexplained/a/micro_macro.htm

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By grin1020, October 8, 2011 at 7:43 pm Link to this comment

Night-Gaunt…
I think that you didn’t capture the point I was making. Perhaps I wasn’t clear. The point that there IS no evidence of macroevolution points smack dab at creation. Furthermore, non-believers always attempt to try to drive a wedge betwixt ‘creation’ and ‘microevolution’. Who established that they were mutually exclusive? If you cannot provide answers, then perhaps one of your buddies will.

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By Night-Gaunt, October 8, 2011 at 4:57 pm Link to this comment

I don’t know what science you have read Grin 2012, if any, but there is no problem with macroevolution. So just give us one so we can knaw on it?

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By grin1020, October 8, 2011 at 4:45 pm Link to this comment

Who is to say that microevolution is not a part of the Master Designer’s plan? The lack of macroevolutionary evidence speaks loudly, nicht wahr?

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By Night-Gaunt, October 7, 2011 at 12:13 pm Link to this comment

I see that Grin 1020 doesn’t have a life either since SHe is posting here too.

Tell us what the probability is for an intelligent life form (of any type) could exist before and be separate from universe formation. I don’t think we have enough zeros for that number against.

Anyway evolution isn’t teleological at all. Now some Christians look at it that way but they are wrong. Evolution works but not forever and for all life forms. Which is why 99% are extinct—even if some of them are superior to what we have now. Because we have had 5 major extinction events and some smaller ones over the +4 billion years worth of life on this planet. As long as some life remains it will spread and evolve to fit the many niches.

Not “survival of the fittest” but as Darwin said “survival of the most flexible to adaption” will survive.

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By Tom Edgar, October 6, 2011 at 8:28 pm Link to this comment

Just arrived back from Stateside, my first visit since 1044/5.  Still found people likable, including all those officials.

Seems that In Texas I could preempt a lot of conversation when asked “What is Australia like?”
“Bit like Texas without the religion.”

Seems I haven’t missed much whilst away, still the same old childish supportive arguments for religion that have been debunked, disproved and disemboweled,
but still they persist in trying to resurrect the corpse.

There is not the smallest reason to use religion to prove anything, the varying divisions are divided enough that they hold no significance as proof of anything.  The only PROOF needed to vindicate any belief is the one for the existence of GOD.  Any God, take your pick there have been so many.

There are thousands of pieces of supportive material evidence for evolution to the point that no further is needed, but still keeps surfacing.  There has never, to my knowledge, ever been a single piece of material verification for a deity’s existence. Even the highest prelates will say “Faith” is needed before all other things.  Well show me the proof and I’ll acquire the faith.

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By THE SNED, October 6, 2011 at 6:57 pm Link to this comment

Grin…

Nice try. Of course many of us here admit that a superior race could have created us or upped our evolution, but your numbers simply reflect a bunch of numb numbers.

The problem remains if your numbers worked to prove the existence of an intelligent designer then how the hell would they work to create the intelligent creator? Bingo! Can’t answer that one. You see, you can’t stop your logic where you want to stop…just because you want to.  Lets talk about eyes for a second… light sensitive cells have been found in microscopic organisms…now add in to the mix a few billion years and one might end up with eyeballs. And please note we don’t have the best eyes on the planet. And while I can’t quote any specific article off hand I have read articles on how stupid some of our body’s systems are. Meaning if the maker was intelligent SHe wouldn’t have made us quite the way we’re made.

My theory…told here more than once is that eternity goes in both directions…forward and backwards. That there is no such thing as time (all measurements are not things..they are tools of man) So in my book there never was a beginning and never will be and end to the universe….or to be precise the elementary particles from which we evolved will never cease to exist in one form or another. Could I be wrong? Yes… about the particles. But having some god be inexistence with all knowldge of all things and the power to make everything makes no sense…no matter how big a number your calculator can reach.

And you seem to leave out of your equations the fact that all the metals in our bodies came from super novas. Now if that isn’t a silly recipe I don’t know what is.  Meaning…would a designer go to such great lengths to make us? Wow, you think we waste time here..what the heck was SHe thinking? So if you want to fiddle with your calculator for the rest of your days…have fun…but don’t for a second think you’ve proven anything. One can’t deny evolution….and every year new finds destroy old thinking…..Happy now?

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By grin1020, October 6, 2011 at 5:50 pm Link to this comment

The evidence for an intelligent Creator is overwhelming. The mathematics justifies that statement in light of the following…the usual arguments for an intelligent Creator usually goes something like this, 1) “The probability of an eye developing by evolution such that a lens focuses light on a retina with rods and cones and an optic nerve and so forth”, 2) “the probability that blood coagulates in a specific timed sequence, without which we would bleed to death or the blood would not be a liquid mixture”, 3) the probability that the solar system’s gravity and temperature and water existing and the mixture of oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen and so forth is so remote to happen as it does, particularly in light of laws related to entropy…and there are many more such as protein synthesis, et cetera ad nausem. Well here is my point now…the probability of any one of these items as standalone justifications indeed supports an intelligent Creator; however, I argue that the probability of ALL THESE EXAMPLES must be multiplied by one another to arrive at the overall probability that they all exist concurrently. Example…2.5 E-15 X 4 E-20 X 7.7 E-9 = probability that all these being true happen ‘by chance’. Let’s just call that product ‘nil’. Rebuttals out there?

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By Mat, October 6, 2011 at 2:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

1.  We have all the destructive power of the “pagan” gods.  And there were no ethic requirements there too.  May we exist?  It seems, we may.  For some time.  We don’t destroy ourselves instantly and that’s plainly amazing.

2.  Ethics of the Creators of the Worlds is the ethics of evolution.  We are “almost there”, we should know.  To create the world where life, minds and technology may evolve, you have to create the world “evil” enough for the natural selection to actually happen. 

3.  We’ll be allpowerfull (omnipotent) in our virtual worlds in every sence the founders of the modern religions were able to conseive.  But we know, there would be a lot of practical limits to our power.  Even there.  Here, we may be almost as limited as we are now.

http://mat33.livejournal.com/716213.html

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By grin1020, September 29, 2011 at 5:39 pm Link to this comment

Is your participation on this board your most significant contribution to the betterment of mankind? If it is, I feel sorry for each of you. Some of you have posted THOUSANDS of time. My gosh…get a life already. It will be all over before you know it and then you can have your rewards of ‘nothingness’ for eternity. In the meantime, please do something meaningful. I’m gone…

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By Night-Gaunt, September 28, 2011 at 1:00 pm Link to this comment

The truth will set you free from hucksterism. Such people can’t flourish in a place where the people aren’t gullible and can perform abstract reasoning and deduction.

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By Reit1, September 28, 2011 at 9:37 am Link to this comment

Here’s an example of a charlatan - a straight out liar and his sheep that follow. If this man wasn’t so stupid he might be dangerous.  Then again, given the stupidity of his followers here, maybe he still is. ‘Cause all the sheep go “baa baaa’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXkWkuBkFOo&feature=player_embedded

Trust me, you will enjoy it.

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By THE SNED, September 22, 2011 at 3:01 pm Link to this comment

Night Gaunt…sorry about that.
My comment on the 21st at 1:01 should have been addressed to Felonious Monk.

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By Night-Gaunt, September 22, 2011 at 1:38 pm Link to this comment

To THE SNED, September 21 at 1:01 pm Link to this comment—-see here;

By Felonious Monk, September 20 at 6:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)


Religion has also been the inspiration for many great works of human achievement—far more than atheism per se, I’d wager. So religion as an entity may have more overt negatives than atheism, but it also has more overt positives. Especially since even the philosophy and logic of atheism has been as shaped by syntax and concepts derived through religious inspiration as that of theology.

Look again, I said no such thing. You sir have me confuse with another. (You may have been thinking on two things at once and crossed them.)I would never say such a thing.

Building cathedrals certainly was an achievement. Too bad they were wasted on religion.

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By THE SNED, September 22, 2011 at 6:35 am Link to this comment

Felonious Monk re works of art. I have always felt that people were no different 2000 or 3000 years ago than we are today.  My personality is basically creative, and most creative people can produce just about anything (in their skill) anyone else wants if the price is right…or there’s food involved.

For sure there are folks who have written poems and songs, have designed beautiful churches, or whatever with passionate love of the Kahuna. For sure there were more of them than us. But science requires critical thinking skills that do NOT come from religious practices. In fact people who thought too much were put down..and it it’s still happening today.

You claim that science came from religion/philosophy.
Having read little philosophy I can’t respond to that claim. But being human and involved with religion at one time, I don’t buy your logic. Science requires constant questioning, while religion promotes the opposite. Just define “faith” and you have an answer for everything…totally unscientific.

I think you’re giving religion far too much credit. Or you don’t appreciate the creative mind. If a chimp can stick a straw in a hole to get termites, or a crow can make water rise in a tube that has a floating piece of meat in it…by dropping stones in the tube.(both without human intervention) It doesn’t surprise me that greater intellect solves greater problems…without the need for faith in anything…but with a much greater desire to find a solution.

Language is an invention that makes it easier to communicate. And it all started when one human convinced another that a sound could mean something.
And I like to believ that “God” was not the first word.
My guess. Names. Run. Shut up.  Soup ready.

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By Reit1, September 22, 2011 at 6:27 am Link to this comment

FM,

Are you suggesting that Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, or Stalin’s regime were driven by atheism?  I hope I misunderstood you.

That reminds me of the great quote by Stephen Weinberg: “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”

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By grin1020, September 22, 2011 at 1:37 am Link to this comment

I am interested in Reit1’s avatar…an attempt at humor, no doubt, but absurd. Use of this is indicative of the reasons that atheists are generally despised by people of faith. It strikes me as indicative of a person with an axe to grind, a festering emotional wound. Attacking the focal point of the Christian nation with such mockery shows very little compassion and a lack of intellect.

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By Felonious Monk, September 21, 2011 at 6:45 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

NG,
“Religion and any other action or idea or philosophy is only as good as the people who create it and use it.”

  I can agree with that (provided it’s not an idea that has hurting other people at its heart, I suppose). I think there are great or potentially great things about both religion and secularism/atheism – and actually don’t find them at odds. I think the two outlooks coexist mutually without one having to ‘conquer’ the other; or even being able to in the long run, in my view.


Sned,
  I’m referring to great works of art, architecture and human achievement through the ages and up through today. Greek, Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Asian, American, any other culture, religion has always been a major motivating and/or organizing force behind great achievements—as well as the language and concepts of philosophy and science (since science came from religion/philosophy. I personally still see them as the same thing). This includes the concepts and language of reasoning itself, which are shared by atheist and religious alike.
Michelangelo, Bach, St. Augustine, Locke, Kant, Socrates—the list is endlessly expansive as to those who held a God concept in their minds as they developed their philosophies and works, and allowed it to influence their approach and therefore their outcomes. This is not to take anything away from atheism, but those are some positive byproducts of religion. 
I personally think it has practical objective applications to hold room for an unknowable “x factor” in one’s theory of the world, regardless of whether its called God or not. It’s both good secular and religious reasoning in my view. The Oracle of Delphi called Socrates the wisest man in the world because he admitted that he did not know. I think that path to supreme wisdom still holds until today.


Reit1,
No, I’m not suggesting that at all—and there are many reasons people are moved to follow religion in my view. It can’t all be reduced to selfishly playing for the afterlife, from what I’ve seen. Most religious people also have no list of atrocities and barbaric behaviors to overlook, though that may be a charge leveled against religion on the macro scale (just as atheism can similarly be pointed to as a driving force behind the bloody and ruthless communist revolution). They are just normal human beings working their way through this life. No one’s bad behavior should be overlooked in this lifetime, though, if it causes harm to someone else. God may forgive, be we should prosecute.

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By Reit1, September 21, 2011 at 1:50 pm Link to this comment

That is, the religious do supposed good things…

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By Reit1, September 21, 2011 at 1:48 pm Link to this comment

“So religion as an entity may have more overt negatives than atheism, but it also has more overt positives. Especially since even the philosophy and logic of atheism has been as shaped by syntax and concepts derived through religious inspiration as that of theology.”

I am not really sure I get that either.  Are you suggesting that (if it were true) since religions do things to gain a piece of the pie in the sky after death, (therefore selfishly) that somehow their evil, atrocious, absurd and disgusting, barbaric behaviour should be voided?  Help us out FM.

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By THE SNED, September 21, 2011 at 1:01 pm Link to this comment

Night Guant
“Religion has also been the inspiration for many great works of human achievement—far more than atheism per se, I’d wager.”

How can you say this? Where’s the proof? And if there’s no proof the rest of this statement is also not valid. If 90% of scientists are not believers and 90% of our alleged progress is due to science what credit do you give to religion?..And let’s limit this to Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Great art? As rich patrons not artists. Colleges? Maybe. The garment and diamond districts of New York. Doctors and Lawyers for sure…Some great music.

Just because you think so doesn’t make it so…That’s like Michelle Bachman saying that some girl became mentally ill from a vaccine…implying that all girls will have the same problem.

“So religion as an entity may have more overt negatives than atheism, but it also has more overt positives.

Especially since even the philosophy and logic of atheism has been as shaped by syntax and concepts derived through religious inspiration as that of theology.”

Explain this thought. There have been atheists for thousands of years…not structured by religion, but by reason.I love your wording..having a bit of difficulty comprehending…so expound if you will in block letters and facts.
(and yes I’m slow..and not an intellectual)

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By Night-Gaunt, September 21, 2011 at 11:55 am Link to this comment

Religion and any other action or idea or philosophy is only as good as the people who create it and use it.

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By THE SNED, September 21, 2011 at 5:42 am Link to this comment

annie….nice to see you commenting again. The place is gathering dust.

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By Reit1, September 21, 2011 at 4:40 am Link to this comment

Sorry to hear that - but then so are a lot of people.

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By grin1020, September 20, 2011 at 7:22 pm Link to this comment

Christ was abandoned and denied by those closest to him – those for whom he faced an undeserving death.- John Fraiser

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By Felonious Monk, September 20, 2011 at 6:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Atheism doesn’t have to have done any harm as an entity or organization to be as imperfect in the end as specific religious beliefs. Atheists are imperfect as people as the religious are, and as flawed and prone to human weakness in every way—which, among other things, means that their doctrine doesn’t make people superior to others. Which in turn means that their doctrine is not superior to other doctrine in any sense relative to morality and such. It may explain the world better to those who believe it, but then so does religion to its believers, so they are equal there too.

Religion has also been the inspiration for many great works of human achievement—far more than atheism per se, I’d wager. So religion as an entity may have more overt negatives than atheism, but it also has more overt positives. Especially since even the philosophy and logic of atheism has been as shaped by syntax and concepts derived through religious inspiration as that of theology.

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By Reit1, September 20, 2011 at 7:31 am Link to this comment

Hi John K! I am going to quote you: “An old chinese saying applies to both atheism and religion, take the good and discard the bad. The bible is a bunch of stories. The best show us how to live a decent life. Other stories have also been used.”

Well what harm has atheism ever done?  Where is the bad that we’re supposed to toss? So much for Chinese philosophies. That’s not any better than my last fortune cookie. Sorry, but I can’t cotton to the notion of any dictator, neither Pope nor “peaceful” Dalai Lama, pretending to have cornered the market on great philosophies for people’s lives.  So I ask you - if the Bible is really just a bunch of stories (glib), why do people kill and hate over these stories?  And what stories show us how to live a better life?

Absurd.  We don’t need a Bible, Quran, nor Torah to tell us how to live.  In fact, if they weren’t in existence, we’d still have an innate sense of moral decency. But of course we would.

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By THE SNED, September 20, 2011 at 7:03 am Link to this comment

Here is part of my correspondence with the Jesuit ditector of a film board in Australia…..

Given the fact that Ratzinger was against the Jesuits..I asked this author of Where the GHell is God….what the Ratzinger Pope thinks.

I’d be interested in your repose to his letter….I felt the Pope was begging them to come back to the flock.


REPLY (To me)

Pleased you came to your own (correct) conclusion on Malachi Martin.

Pope BXVI has changed his mind on the Jesuits! See below.

There is no question the Church should and can reform itself. Cardinal
Newman said the church should be in constant state of reformation. I am with
him, but it is never easy.

Every best wish,
Richard

To mark the visit of Pope Benedict XVI we publish below key extracts from
his Holiness’s address to the Jesuits in 2008 in which he affirmed the
Society in its mission and challenged it to remain faithful to its charism
and history. As the Pope has said to us, ‘The Church needs you…’ so we say
to men considering a vocation to the Society - we urgently need men of faith
and deep generosity and giftedness to continue our work of service to the
Church and the world.

  I.ardently hope that.. the entire Society of Jesus will be able to live out
with renewed dynamism and fervour the mission for which the Spirit willed it
in the Church and has preserved it for more than four and a half centuries
with extraordinary apostolic fruitfulness. Today, in the ecclesial and
social context that marks the beginning of the millennium, I would like to
encourage you and your confreres to continue on the path of this mission in
full fidelity to your original charism. As my Predecessors have said to you
on various occasions, the Church needs you, relies on you and continues to
turn to you with trust, particularly to reach those physical and spiritual
places which others do not reach or have difficulty reaching. [2]

It is not oceans of immense distances that challenge the heralds of the
gospel but the boundaries resulting from an erroneous or superficial vision
of God and man that stands between faith and human knowledge, faith and
modern science, faith and the commitment to justice. [3]

In its history, the Society of Jesus has lived extraordinary experiences of
proclamation and encounter between the gospel and world cultures - it
suffices to think of Matteo Ricci in China, Roberto De Nobili in India or of
the ‘Reductions’ in Latin America. And you are rightly proud of them. I feel
it is my duty today to urge you to set out once again in the tracks of your
predecessors, with the same courage and intelligence but also with an
equally profound motivation of faith and enthusiasm to serve the Lord and
his Church.

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By THE SNED, September 20, 2011 at 6:58 am Link to this comment

However, while you seek to recognise the signs of God’s presence and work in
every corner of the world, even beyond the bounds of the visible Church,
while you strive to build bridges of understanding and dialogue with those
who do not belong to the Church or have difficulty accepting her outlook or
messages, at the same time you must loyally take on the Church’s fundamental
duty to remain faithful to her mandate and to adhere totally to the Word of
God and to the Magisterium’s task of preserving the integral truth and unity
of Catholic doctrine. This not only applies to the personal commitment of
individual Jesuits: since you are working as members of an apostolic body,
you must also take care that your work and your institutions always maintain
a clear and explicit identity, so that the goal of your apostolic activity
is neither ambiguous nor obscure and that many others may share in your
ideals and join you effectively and enthusiastically, collaborating in your
commitment to serve God and man. [5]

I [ask] you for a renewed commitment to promoting and defending Catholic
doctrine, ‘especially its key points, under severe attack today by the
secular culture’. The themes, continuously discussed and called into
question today, of salvation of all humanity in Christ, of sexual morality,
of marriage and the family, must be explored and illumined in the context of
contemporary reality but preserving that harmony with the Magisterium which
avoids causing confusion and dismay among the people of God. [6]

I . invite you today to reflect in order to rediscover the fullest meaning
of your characteristic ‘Fourth Vow’ of obedience to the Successor of Peter .
.
I encourage you to continue and to renew you mission among the poor and with
the poor .. For us, the option for the poor is not ideological but is born
from the gospel. [8]

I ask you to focus special attention on that ministry of Spiritual Exercises
. . The Exercises are not only the source of your spirituality and the
matrix of your Constitutions but also a gift which the Spirit of the Lord
has made to the entire Church. The Spiritual Exercises are a particularly
precious means and method with which to seek God, within us, around us and
in all things, to know his will and to put it into practice. [9]
In this spirit of obedience to God’s will, to Jesus Christ, which also
becomes humble obedience to the Church, I ask you to continue carrying out
your Congregation’s work and I join you in the prayer St. Ignatius taught us
the end of the Exercises - a prayer which to me always seems to sublime in
the sense that I hardly dare to say it, yet me must always be able to return
to it:

Take, Lord, and receive, all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and all
my will - all that I have and possess. You, Lord, have given all that to me.
I now give it back to you, O Lord. Give me love of yourself and your grace,
for that is enough for me.

Richard Leonard SJ
Director
Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting
264 Miller St

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By Reit1, September 19, 2011 at 6:37 pm Link to this comment

Whoaaa!  I haven’t been notified about any comments until now?  Not since April!? What the hell? 

Ehrman, EXCELLENT STUFF..a good speaker, too.  I have missed you all!  Especially you,  FM.

I don’t know where Akira is.  I wasn’t sure if it was my turn to babysit the young gal so I left her to her own bidding.

SNED, Tom, Night Gaunt…what is new? 

Poor Brennan…he pulled a classic xian blunder: talk then run so you don’t have to learn anything as you’re leaving YOUR salesman’s business card.  Ho hum.  Things are much the same. 

Has anyone read Dawkins’ “The Greatest Show On Earth?”  I would love a review before I buy…

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By grin1020, September 18, 2011 at 4:41 pm Link to this comment

It is very good to be back. Hello Annie Reitano and SNED. Do you know whether Akira ever became a chef?

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By THE SNED, September 18, 2011 at 2:54 pm Link to this comment

Science might not lead us to ethical actions, but the process of science can determine good and bad actions through the mere stating of an hypothesis and a test of same.

And it doesn’t take a fundamentalist to have a distaste for atheists.

I think we’re one step above congress these days. It could probably be scientifically stated that even modest religious belief is threatened by those who have no belief in a god…and if not threatened…how’s ‘bout disgusted, hated, offended and on and on.

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By john K, September 18, 2011 at 9:16 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I found Mike’s comments interesting in that he proves that he is a fundamentalist atheist and can’t stand the existence of people who believe in God….so he spends a lot of wasted time trying to convince people that the Bible is crap.

Science offers no guidance to ethical actions. At the bottle line, if you remove the garbage from religions, all emphasize treating others with decency and that there is a presence of something invisible and greater that an individual.

As Chris Hedges has pointed out in his book,When Atheism Becomes Religion, religion or atheism is not the problem, fundamentalism in science or religion promises salvation and there is none. People commit the same atrocious acts as they ever have. Self-Reflection and Contemplation, the traditional constraints on destructive behavior are effective but require vigilance and hard work. Religion or science or logic won’t save us.

An old chinese saying applies to both atheism and religion, take the good and discard the bad. The bible is a bunch of stories. The best show us how to live a decent life. Other stories have also been used.

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By Tom Edgar, August 26, 2011 at 4:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

A dozen times I tried to Log in and not successful.

Sned.  A prominent Catholic Priest Father Paul Collins
here in Australia jumped before excommunication because of his progressive ideas.  Asked by an equally prominent atheist why he didn’t go the whole hog and become an unbeliever answered. “You can take the boy out of the church but not the Church out of the boy.”

I leave for California and northern Texas next week.
Unpray for me whilst I stay, in both places, with otherwise lonely atheists.  I have been admonished to keep my warped sense of humour and ribald comments in check for the two weeks I am there.

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By Night-Gaunt, August 26, 2011 at 12:39 pm Link to this comment

Weren’t the Jesuits down graded a few years ago and the Opus Dei given their place next to the pope? And Ratzinger presided over the Inquisition (called now Doctrine of the Faith )to keep everyone in line concerning doctrinal matters. So he couldn’t have come from a more Conservative faction except Opus Dei to become Pope.

An excellent book on the Popes—“Unzipped;the popes bare all” by Arthur Fredrick Ide an Atheist on the sordid times, popes and things done in,by and for the Vatican. Good read if you can find it and tolerate it.

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By THE SNED, August 26, 2011 at 5:47 am Link to this comment

Two interesting reads. “Where the hell is God,” by Richard C Leonard, S.J. (Jesuit) that left my jaw wide open.  The short story…he feels that God plays no role in our daily lives…that the only prayer one should pray is “Maker me a better Christian so I can make the world a better place.” That’s it.

In essence he doesn’t believe that god blesses the fleet, gives a S..T about sick and dying anybody, and that every mass the RCC offers for any particular cause is a waste of time.

So I wrote to him and asked why he hadn’t been excommunicated yet. He didn’t answer that one but he did respond. (I’ll review and post) I did wish that he made Pope.

Then I looked at my religion books and noticed one I never read (I have a few of those)...but written by someone I respected for knowing more about the Vatican than any man alive….Malachi Martin…a former Jesuit. The book title “The Jesuits: The Society of Jesus and the Betrayal of the Roman Catholic Church.”

So I read it.

Jesus! What an eye opener. The Jesuits, it is reported in the book,  are basically coward agnostics or atheists. (My take)  Hence Leonard’s book and position. 

According to Martin…For decades the Jesuits have been pro contraception, pro abortion, pro gay, and anti mystical magical RCC anything and everything..and probably anti Pope…and for sure anti infallibility

The book was published in 1987….and Ratzinger was anti Jesuit as one can get .(in those days)....

I asked Leonard about that. (Now that the Rat is the Pope)...no answer.  Anyway my jaw dropped again after reading Martin’s book. (And Martin comes off as a cry baby…seemingly anti Jesuit.) 

I often wonder if Martin took a pro RCC position so he could report all the RCC BS, because he does such a detailed view of the opposition. ..and without prejudice. The first book of his that I read was ” The Final Conclave” which correctly predicted the election of the last two Popes…(Prior to Benedict).

The book ends with the prediction that one of two Popes would be elected…a Shepard type, or one from a Communist Country. And they were elected in that order. The first John Paul 1, probably murdered soon after he took office, and then John Paul 2.  Another jaw dropper.

So the real question is…why do these men (Jesuits) stay in a church in which they have literally no agreement ? The only two rteasons I can think of are 1. that these are intellectual gays who know they have a good thing going…or 2. They are stuck in positions from which they can’t leave for any number of reasons.

BY the way in another of Martin’s Books he refers to the recognized “gay faction” in the church. So no one can ever tell my that half the cardinals and bishops…and Popes… are are gay. (And I have nothing against gays mind you. To avoid the bigots in the world, the church provided a perfect hiding place…even with its anti gay stance. Maybe now that things are opening up for gays, the church will be less attractive, in the liberal parts of the world.

So, Mrs Wilner,  that’s my summer book report.

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By Tony Ryan - Coffee Loving Skeptic, August 26, 2011 at 2:48 am Link to this comment

I don’t think anyone can rationally argue that religion does anything positive for
society that cannot be found anywhere else. The argument of morality fails hugely
due to the racism, misogyny and violence expected of you if follow the bible
properly, and as for science? Well, it’s simply been proven false.
http://coffeelovingskeptic.com/?p=613 = arguments for religion, and their
counternance. Time to accept that we’ve moved on.

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By Tom Edgar, July 15, 2011 at 3:03 pm Link to this comment

Sned .....Amen.
J Hocutt..Amen again

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By THE SNED, July 15, 2011 at 3:49 am Link to this comment

Dear J. Hocutt,

Given your views, you would enjoy reading Bart Ehrman’s book “God’s Problem,” which is entirely about suffering, and in the end is why Ehrman, raised as an evangelical, finally abandoned his faith. Perhaps his most powerful argument is against the often heard Christian apologist’s belief that we have suffering because we have free will. Ehrman states quite simply that free will has nothing to do with tidal waves, tornadoes, and drought etc.

Recently a relative of mine claimed that god answered his prayers by helping to sell a home. When I asked him how god micromanages the sale of a home and then goes off and kills 15,000 innocent Japanese in a tsunami, I got no response.

I just have to wonder what goes on in brain when challenged, and I have decided that it’s combination of arrogance, that I should even question his position, and hate because he knows I’m an atheist. And then the brain shuts down.

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By J. Hocutt, July 14, 2011 at 11:47 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Five years ago, I wrote how the problem of “free will” led me to shed my Xian faith after 35 years. The final straw was the savage beating of a five year old boy by his mother’s “boy friend” because he’d wet his pants. The aftermath of that beating and previous ones he’d endured was a three month coma followed by repeated hospitalizations over the next six years for seizures and neurological disorders until he died of pneumonia (search with <jonathan-waller jose-ruesga 1992> to read for yourself).

I don’t know why Jonathan came to my mind again today, but when I searched the web to refresh my memory, I discovered the entry I’d written. Along with my thoughts was a bankrupt rebuttal questioning the grounds for my revulsion, and claiming I’d illegitimately tried to use the concept of “evil”. Actually, I never used the word “evil” in my first post as I find the concept a dangerous one, especially in the hands of those who think like “Thomas” (#5350, pg 76).

My original argument hadn’t been about the existence of evil. Rather, it was that given what had happened to Jonathan, whether one can logically assert the existence of an omniscient, omnipotent, and benevolent god. Thomas attempted to sidestep my entire argument with a sop conceding that my question of why his god didn’t intervene was impossible answer. (Actually it is possible; it’s just that Thomas wouldn’t like the conclusion of the syllogism.) Acting as though he’d jujitsued my argument away, he then questioned why I found Jonathan’s brutal beating problematic. Hmm… why would anyone find that problematic? Indeed, would any rational person have problems with that scenario? Hmm…

I grew angry as I read his lawyery rejoinder… what does it matter the source of my outrage?... (it happens to be called empathy by the way.) A better question is “how could Thomas *not* be outraged?” He went on to conflate natural misfortune (trees rotting, lions ripping gazelles apart, etc) with the intentional savagery his god allows and then to suggest my reasoning was flawed because I didn’t acknowledge that suffering could be inherently good.

Damn straight I don’t think of suffering as good! While it may be necessary to achieve an end, I don’t think I’d ever agree to the notion that suffering is “good” per se. I make no claim whether suffering ought to exist: I simply observe that it exists abundantly. My point about the pain Jonathan endured was that it put the lie to the notion that an omniscient, omnipotent, and benevolent god looks after us. Period. I don’t need to say anything about the origin of, or reason for, suffering (or evil (your word, not mine)) in order to make the case that this god can’t possess those traits and allow suffering such as Jonathan’s. The fact that Thomas’ god either a) didn’t know about Jonathan’s plight, b) couldn’t do anything about it, or worse yet, c) wouldn’t do anything so that the tormentor could exercise his “free will”, trivializes the torture this child lived through for the first four years of his life and the suffering he endured during his last six years.

Thomas asks what an atheist would deem “evil”... as I stated above, I don’t use the term as it lets people like Thomas conveniently sidestep the truly horrendous acts we see in this world by simply chalking it up to just some more “evil”. Were I to ascribe evil to anything, it would be to callous, pedantic ruminations such as his on the plight of an abused child. Instead of falling for the red herring that atheists can’t legitimately point to evil to argue against the existence of god, I’ll simply say that as with pornography, while I may not be able to give a nice, tidy definition to Thomas’ satisfaction, I do know evil when I see it: I may be dumb, but I’m not stupid, and as long as I see the likes of Thomas are in the world, the evil he claims his god will deal with will continue to flourish.

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By Night-Gaunt, July 4, 2011 at 1:23 pm Link to this comment

Despite what some may think this isn’t about intelligence. It is about commitment to a point of viewing the world. Once that is done then you mind turns toward supporting it even if new information comes in an contradicts it. In fact people become entrenched and fight harder to maintain it.

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By THE SNED, July 2, 2011 at 2:31 am Link to this comment

Tom..I have a relative and an old friend ...both educated and intelligent.

Both very religious. Can’t talk to them.

The missing ingredients: Curiosity and skepticism (for starters)

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By Tom Edgar, July 1, 2011 at 6:02 pm Link to this comment

Sned

Why do people leave religion? Intelligence+Education.

Lila

There is no perception of a “Raison d’etre”. therefore it is reasonable to assume that one doesn’t exist. As there has never been any verifiable, replicable, supportive evidence shown for any God’s existence it is equally reasonable to presume this also is a fallacy.

As the current Australian Prime Minister said, when questioned about her atheism. I’ve never seen any reason to believe otherwise.

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By THE SNED, July 1, 2011 at 5:07 pm Link to this comment

What causes a religion to vanish?

When millions of people live through a war in their backyard….(Europe) and their prayers are not answered.

When you work with sick and dying children day in and day out and your prayers are NOT answered. Mother Theresa….an atheist at worse….and not a religious nun at her death.

When you are raised in an evangelical church and attend an evangelical college and then study the bible from a different perspective and discover that you have been lied to…and you can’t imagine a god that allows for suffering.  Bart D Ehrman-author and professor.

When you get curious about the religion in which you are raised. 

When you realize that eternity goes in both directions not just one…and the universe has neither a beginning or an end…and so no need of and no room for all all knowing god. - My conclusion.

One at a time or millions at a time. But religion will always be with us because too many people can’t accept that this is it and will pay to be lifted out of their shoes at the rapture….now “up"dated to October. Hah!!

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By Night-Gaunt, July 1, 2011 at 2:17 pm Link to this comment

Humans decide if something has “purpose” or not, such hubris. It just exists for itself. We just look on in awe as we should but don’t get all mystical on me.

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By Lila Sovietsakaya, June 28, 2011 at 6:34 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Either the Universe exists for no purpose or it has a
purpose. If it has a purpose, humans cannot unanimously
agree what it is.

The atheist thought is demoralizing: we are born and then
we die forever. Believing in lies is equally demoralizing


One of this is true: All religions are false. One
religion is true. All religions are somehow true each one
living in a separate reality where their religion is true

Why there is something rather than nothing?

If there is a God, he is not exactly as the religions
depict unless all religions are true in their own
separate reality

What would a scientific proof of God and Spirit world
exist or do not? An experimental failure would not prove
the non-existence of God, it might be a proof that the experiment is incorrectly set or that is has erroneous
assumptions. There could be a set of phenomena that
though true is impossible to prove.

What causes a religion to vanish?

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By Tom Edgar, June 13, 2011 at 9:14 pm Link to this comment

Forgive if you know of the following.

Winston Churchill, a man I have long despised, had a disagreement with the B B C.  It was the policy to have all speeches vetted before broadcasting and they objected to his grammatical error of ending one of his sentences with a preposition. He wrote, in response.

“This arrant pedantry is up something with which I will not put”.

Being somewhat pedantic myself I am too often moved to near rage at the abuse of the English language, but so often I say nothing as the writer may be expressing himself in, to him, a foreign tongue.
Most English people I know speak an atrocious version of their mother tongue.  The Indians are so much better, although a little archaic.

When told to use the “King’s English, I trust it doesn’t mean with mouth stuffed with plums, nor with the George V1 impediments.

February 1945 in New Orleans I, and Stephen, a young ship’s apprentice, (plummy voice) were trying to elicit directions of an elderly American of dark complexion. The poor fellow didn’t understand a word of Stephen’s upper class “King’s English”. I intervened with an exaggerated American dialect,knowledge of which I had acquired from a previous trip to N Y, it slotted in nicely to my Cockney London normal delivery.  I was greeted with. “Which part of the Bronx are you from.?”  On departing, after receiving the directions, remember I was only seventeen, and taught to be respectful to the elderly, (times have changed) I said. “Thank you very much sir.”  I can still hear that old fella saying to a companion, with shocked amazement.  “That Limey called me SIR.” No god damned kid calls me “Sir” today.

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By THE SNED, June 13, 2011 at 6:27 pm Link to this comment

RE Ali…et al..I was working for a publisher years ago who was asked to change Martin Luther Kings ” I have a dream” speech to the Kings English….

“God help us if the kids who listen to that speech with all its grammatical errors understand it!”

Of course that request came from a southern state.

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By Tom Edgar, June 13, 2011 at 5:29 pm Link to this comment

Sned.


The place to find Feynman books, or any other, is Kenny’s books in Eire.  Past dealings with them have been very satisfactory.

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By THE SNED, June 13, 2011 at 4:45 am Link to this comment

Tom- I believe the book is titled “The Meaning of it all”

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By THE SNED, June 13, 2011 at 4:40 am Link to this comment

Tom…I’m also no spring chicken and it drives me nuts that I can still make mistakes…and like you I too love to find new sources for ideas.

I have to find my favorite Feynman book and recommend it to you. It’s basically his autobiography…an easy read paperback. He was a fascinating character. Just forgot the title….(the nouns go first)

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By Leefeller, June 13, 2011 at 1:59 am Link to this comment

Another Christopher Hitches?

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By Tom Edgar, June 12, 2011 at 11:13 pm Link to this comment

Oh my dear Sned.  There has been a slight misunderstanding.  Initial response was to some ratbag Fundamentalist’s video re Ehrman, not Ehrman himself.
Now I must say the visit there, and then Feynman was so enlightening.

Now in my declining if not reclining years I am constantly finding new things to learn, just when I don’t have all that much time left to learn them all.
One of the drawbacks of being a bloody know all for most of my life.

Finding new, to me, people to follow and quote is exhilarating.  Hector Hawton and Bertrand Russell have long been my sources of thought or at least from whom to learn to condense those thoughts.

Now I thought I was a little unique in propounding that Peter and others were unlikely candidates for literature writers, knowing the lack of education in the East even in the present day situation.  To find someone with the education and knowledge that promotes the same ideas does my ego no end of good.

I have also had my doubts about Mohamed’s ability to say things attributed to him by later scribes but then I remember Cassius Clay/Ali who, whilst illiterate, had such a wonderful ability to put words together, so much so that an interviewer had the fellow walk out on him when, not knowing his illiteracy, he made some remarks that Ali interpreted, mistakenly, to be a slur.  You don’t have to be literate to be intelligent and likewise being literate doesn’t necessarily denote either knowledge or understanding. One other thing about the illiterate Ali.  He spoke,and enunciated more clearly, and so much better than many American professional speakers, one wonders what he would have become with a non American education.

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By moral atheism, June 11, 2011 at 11:55 pm Link to this comment
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since when has religion been obvious?

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By Night-Gaunt, May 12, 2011 at 9:55 am Link to this comment

MSNBC’S Rachel Maddow has been covering it. Showing stills of people getting blasted with pink dye. And that the “president” dictator of Uganda is a close confidant of the C-Street “The Family” who are a Crypto-Fascist Dominionist-like organization who started the Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC and admire people like Hitler, Mao and others who wielded tremendous power over others.

They have close ties to many Republicans and the occasional DINO.

Wow! 82 pages of comments.

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By THE SNED, May 12, 2011 at 7:21 am Link to this comment

From Credo action:“Yesterday, Uganda’s parliament canceled debate on a controversial bill that would make being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender a crime that is punishable by death.

But now the debate has been rescheduled for Friday — so we must act quickly to ensure that the Ugandan government knows there is fierce opposition internationally to this brutal bill.”

Guess the major religions in Uganda? 41% roman Catholic,35% Anglican 12% Muslim, 6% pentacostal and 7th day adventists.

Is the Pope screaming? Is the Anglican Bishop screaming?
HAH! And it all goes back to Old testament BS. What a disgrace. And guess where the late great John Paul chose most of his new saints.The least educated peoples int he world. Ughhh.

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By Felonious Monk, May 8, 2011 at 5:15 pm Link to this comment

Hey Sned and Night-Gaunt,

Never did get time to post what I wanted this weekend, but maybe over the next week. But did especially want to say welcome back to Night-Gaunt! Was wondering where you went…

FM

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By THE SNED, May 5, 2011 at 2:52 am Link to this comment

Felonious….thanks for the link…not sure why you think the article is full of holes….it is certainly full of links that are impressive..at least those I opened.

What it didn’t say..but implied was a former piece of research in the last year or so that stated that when it came to inviting people to dinner…atheists were on the bottom of the average American’s list…I think Hitler would have been invited first…after all even he was a believer…and never excommunicated.
“Hey Adolf..pass the salt!”

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By THE SNED, May 4, 2011 at 3:23 pm Link to this comment

It’s all statistics…it always is. I have a relative who gives credit to everything good that happens to him to the Kahuna, and the big guy or gal gets no credit when things go bad. Kahuna wins every time. And then there’s life’s bell curve, where some folks have all the luck and some have none of it. It happens…the bell curve always happens. You might be one of the lucky. I had an incident in NYC where a man I had never met,been around, etc identified his time in the army by something I would periodically do as soldiers marched by.
“That was me!”
“What?”
What were the odds?
Still didn’t send me to the chapel.
I also had one of those grouping you just experienced. Look at it this way sometime in a life of minutes in which nothing much happens, when a coincidence happens it’s outasight…bound to happen. If you think someone is watching over you suggest your read the article in Time on Mother Theresa. She became a non-believer when to many of her prayers weren’t answered..and too many kids died…or got sicker etc. But hey…if you have to believe..go for it.

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By Night Gaunt, May 4, 2011 at 2:16 pm Link to this comment
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I’m disappointed with Brendan, I wanted to see his responses. I guess the fear of dismemberment and brow beating.

Been out of commission since the seventeenth of April when my hard drive crashed. Just got another computer yesterday, with one of my brother’s help.

The Sned the ancient Hindus used numbers as high as in the trillions of years. In some ways they seemed to be very advanced. They had zero to use.

Was born into a nominally Catholic family. Went to 1st & 2nd grade in one. No fun there. Then repeated 2nd grade in a secular school onward. Was never really attached to a religion. Even though I have read many, I still do not have an inclination to bite into one. To me the only difference between these religions and mythos in fiction is that the belief factor in them. If a 100 million believed in Cthulu and advertised miracles would it be any different? I also don’t do the same with “stars” of stage, screen, TV and music. One shouldn’t dismiss religion simply because so many believe in one form or another of them. It seems to be a natural inclination though I would like to put that to the test. Only I don’t think it is morally feasible to do so.

I liken it to the variation evolution gives us so that not everyone is the same. The bulk of them are so that the characteristics of survival maintains the species but with a few outliers so that should the environment change, and it will, that some few would survive to start again. Or extinction. But it is just my pet hypothesis for now.

Glad to be back.

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By Felonious Monk, May 4, 2011 at 1:03 pm Link to this comment

Hi Tom and Sned,

Looks like some good topics brewing, I look forward to getting in to them more this weekend when I have more time.

Until then here’s a link to an interesting article called “Why do Americans still dislike atheists?” that was posted the same day Brenan left his/her comment, and in part is a response to—of all things—the same Psalms 14 quote they left, and which criticizes it along the same lines I did.

In part, I mention such coincidences (which for me, have been absolutely OFF the charts as of late, in highly detailed and bizarre ways) because they are suggestive of the very kind of little peculiarities that PROVE to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that SOME organizing force is at play beyond what could possibly be just statistical coincidence. 

I understand, as explained before, that such anecdotes are easily dismissed as proof on boths sides—except to those having the experience. It has definitely been in overdrive for me as of late, in ways that are just SO specific and pointed. No doubt (to me) that the universe is telling me something (or confirming, rather, since I already know the message.)

The argumnet in this article is also very fast and loose with lots of holes, but it is an interesting take:

  http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-do-americans-still-dislike-atheists/2011/02/18/AFqgnwGF_story.html

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By THE SNED, May 3, 2011 at 12:11 am Link to this comment

Tom…it’s an article not a book. Ehrman’s books can be very detailed…to the point of boredom, as he appears to write his books focused on only one subject.

I have not read all his books, but I now have access to all of them and will do so. What I will be looking for is some detail on Matthew 28:16 18 -Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

All of Christianity is based on this passage which is conveniently at the end of a chapter,is in direct contradiction to an earlier charge of Jesus’ to preach only to the lost tribes of Israel, and, I believe, is the only reference to the Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost) in the NT.

According to many this passage is a total fraud; a total addition to the original Matthew text. It is placed in the only place it could be placed to avoid deletion of the contradictory charge,...is not found in any manuscript earlier than 300 CE, and without it there is no reason for the Christian church today.

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By Tom Edgar, May 2, 2011 at 5:34 pm Link to this comment

Sned.. I went to that site, and whilst it is interesting, it failed to show any credible evidence for his findings. Long on rhetoric and claimed academic qualifications but short on substance.

The same kind of submission so many religionists post, and rightly condemned, for lacking substantiating evidence, by Kline.

Brenan.  Like so many others you do not realise how childish you sound by quoting Biblical passages to support your unfounded belief in Gods.

As for NOT being able to prove the non existence of the Gods I disagree. Scientifically any theory/hypothesis is tested for veracity by searching for both positive and negative evidence.
In the case for any proof of a God’s existence not a single piece of replicable, substantiating, physical evidence has ever been produced.  On the law of probabilities this points to a negative finding.
To find EVIDENCE that something does NOT exist is another example of juvenile thinking,  It is impossible to show evidence for the non existence of anything. There simply is no evidence of nothing, only of something, and that you can not do.  Or if you can you will be a first.

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By Felonious Monk, April 29, 2011 at 1:13 pm Link to this comment

Hey Brenan,

Thanks alot for posting. Your comment reminds me of something I never got back to when someone asked whether I REALLY believe people use religion for personal discipline and a way to look beyond themselves. I’m not attributing those reasons to you—but my answer was of course: Yes, that’s why I said it. What does remind me of you was that the person added that, while they can concede those may be an ASPECT of it, the real reason is the upbringing/brainwashing argument, or tons of guilt they want a superman to take away.

First, your post suggests you may be one counter-example (all that’s required to dismiss a hypothesis), but then it occurred to me I have another: my best friend for the last 35 years, whose parents brought absolutely ZERO religion to the household, and for whom the idea of “overwhelming guilt” on his conscious is, well, at best chuckle-inspiring. Suffice it to say: Um…NOT. He just came across arguments he found convincing after having lived three decades-plus of life as a voracious reader and intellectual, and he found a faith that answered long-standing questions.

[Side note: While scrolling down to check those remarks, I noticed the moderator had restored posts that others in the group had joined together to remove. WOO-HOO! Score one for the fearless discussion of ideas!]

On another note, as a dispassionate critique from the one holding down the “other” side of the argument on the thread: I personally can work with the idea of an Intelligent Designer (and have alluded to it under different descriptions), but believe that particular term will probably raise more difficulties than it solves in terms of persuading others, as it is fraught with all types of political overtones and such. (Not that there’s likely a hope for ACTUAL persuasion for the most active participants, but you never know with those who may just stop by and read.)

Even more so, I’d say the last Psalms quote will also stir more problems than it settles, because it calls those who disagree fools and also implies their tactic of pinning all the world’s ills on them. That’s not strictly what it says, but could be taken that way by saying they could do no good. In my view, such a monolithic outlook towards others amounts to a prejudice that shuts down conversation. And as you are a believer—and thus a “fisher of men”—I’d suggest there may be better bait to get people near the boat, if that is in fact your intent. I understand the spirit of what you say, though. Anyway, those are my thoughts.

Again: Thanks for posting! It’s great to have a reasoned back and forth…


Felonious Monk

PS: I will send this to the e-mail address as well.

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By Brenan, April 29, 2011 at 9:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m a follower of Christ, and I’m an apologetic
researcher for the Christian faith.  All of his
arguments are philosophical.  Either way you cannot
disprove the existence of God, but you can prove
without a doubt the existence of an Intelligent
Designer.

This is my first and last post, if you feel lead to
discuss (not argue) these things with me I’m more
than happy to respond via email.

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I would never blindly follow a belief or system, but
history and science strengthen and prove my faith.

God bless.

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They
are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none
who does good.  -Psalm 14:1

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By Felonious Monk, April 27, 2011 at 9:53 am Link to this comment

Hey Sned,

He sounds like a reasonable person…although, you know what they say about opinions: everybody’s got one. I find nothing particularly unique of persuasive about his. But at least he’s reasonable…


Leefeller,

Actually, it’s May 21, as has been discussed in this thread and undoubtedly in the news item you saw. One can appreciate the consistency of your seeming desire to not even inadvertently state something accurately, but still, things like this should be easy to get right. Even for an excitable atheist… 

As for the metaphor or whatever the last reference to me is, its consistency of not making sense (like the last one) is less understandable. Perhaps you could run them by a friend and work out the kinks before posting? Or send them to me and I’ll do it. One hopes to at least be zinged with a proper insult, not just having word salads flung at them…

Peace,
FM

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By Leefeller, April 27, 2011 at 7:48 am Link to this comment

It seems Gebeebiz is coming on May 14, actually next month, they are advertising his grand or not so grand entrance on the Telie, (I picture something like Bush appearing on the Aircraft carrier after mission improbable). They also have advertisements on Billbords, guess it won’t be just Gebeebiz on a cracker this time,... unless they are coming up with Gebeebiz crackers?

Someone is going to make a pile of money and I ask, will it be tax free?

The billboard advertisements show a hand writing in a date book and the sign says something like this, ‘set your date book for May 14 2011’, and on TV they are asking if you would recognize Gebeebize if you saw him with a list of alleged great religious icons from fantasia, starting of course with Gebeebiz! This may be smaller then the new millennium, after all the birthers need to focus on something.

I am stocking up on my Tequila supply just in case Felonious gets over excitable and attacks Larry’s Liquor Store!

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By THE SNED, April 27, 2011 at 5:56 am Link to this comment

addendum

And for Felonious

“It is scientific only to say what is more likely and what less likely, and not to be proving all the time the possible and impossible.” Richard Feynman

“God is unlikely.” me

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By THE SNED, April 27, 2011 at 5:51 am Link to this comment

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Richard_Feynman

Go to this link read some a quotes…wipe the tears from you eyes…they are so brilliant and funny. Feynman is a noted physicist with a very unusual life….his books are worth reading.

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By Felonious Monk, April 24, 2011 at 10:58 am Link to this comment

I’ll have to settle for worshipping at the altar of the biscuits and gravy combo with the fam-damily. That’s about as religious as we get around here…

They did pooh-pooh going to the casino afterward, but that was a financial decision in the end.

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By Leefeller, April 24, 2011 at 9:42 am Link to this comment

Don’t know about yous guys, ...I am waiting for the Popes Easter Message, no IHOP for me!

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By Felonious Monk, April 24, 2011 at 8:21 am Link to this comment

Hey Sned,

You may have lost a post in the way you describe, but one of yours was also taken down in the manner I outlined. I happened to have seen and printed it before that, as I tend to have good luck with that kind of stuff, but it was in fact clipped. I’ve also stopped receiving notices that posts have been added, perhaps as a function of the mass flagging (although I always check anyway)...

Philosphy of Religion is pretty straightfowward, and Google surely has the pamphlet version if you’re at all interested…though it’s also best not to straddle both sides of the informational authority divide, such as being condescending in the premise to the “time” question, then suggesting you “don’t know anything” as to the topic when the conversation proceeds. Especially since you’ve proven yourself the one most able to hang with diverse conversation…

Your comments actually hit on the one thing I thought about after signing off last night: that I actually DON’T believe that the Bible is some flawless word of God, and think Christians hurt their case immeasurably by claiming it to be so. There’s a rule in debate that when you weaken your conclusion you strengthen your overall argument—at that’s something they could benefit from knowing. At best, by my reading, the Bible is writings written and compiled by humans, perhaps inspired by revelation, perhaps not, but it sure ain’t God’s flawless word revealed. That’s poppycock, the best I can figure…

Okay, off to Easter breakfast at IHOP. Best to you…

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By THE SNED, April 24, 2011 at 12:33 am Link to this comment

I didn’t lose a post to the moral police, I hit a wrong button and left the site.

“What you say is that because you can’t conceive of something and it makes no sense to you, it cannot be. This argument is clearly rife with problems. Although it can be approached a number of ways”

Of course one of those ways, is found in your “Philosophy of Religion “(whatever that is) in that when it comes to God it’s okay to accept anything that doesn’t make sense. Which is why most scientists are not believers, because making sense is what science is all about.

You seem to believe that the bible makes sense…at least some of the time. But we all know…and especially Reit1, (who was a missionary at one time) that it’s full of myth. It’s full of errors, full of mistakes, full of Constantine’s wishes to create one religion to satisfy all, and full of lies. It is odd that most Christians don’t realize that Jesus (according to the bible) considered the golden rule to be his most important lesson/contribution etc. Totally un-unique. Totally void of religious BS. But what do they preach? “Believe in me or else”

I have found wonderful arguments between preachers against the idea of the trinity, and how it’s concept introduced at the end of Matthew (I believe) is in no biblical reference younger than 300 years old. Most of what I have read is from believers or former believers. If you are a lover of science,
then you must be picking and chosing what want to believe out of the bible…which is what most people do anyway. Most American believers haven’t read it. I sure as hell haven’t. And I never knew that Matthew and Luke copied much of Mark word for word till I got to college…and later found a book that prints all 3 side by side.(Stuff not taught in churches)

So if you pick and chose…then I suggest you read Sitchen’s “Genesis revisted” and his theories of how we got here. I have no problem with aliens being responsible for us…as we might spread our germs around universe down the road…if we haven’t done so already.

You haven’t raised the F word yet…meaning “faith” but that’s what your belief boils down to..the willingness to accept what cannot be proven..or conceived. Walla! God.  I prefer my own experience and common sense, a love of science, statistics, and reality. Bart D Ehrman has one big problem with belief in god… he cannot justify the suffering that is permitted. Hence he is an agnostic at worse.

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By Felonious Monk, April 23, 2011 at 4:29 pm Link to this comment

Hey Sned,

Yes, I suspect our now-silent partners may be exercising the option to flag comments so much that they disappear, and that yours got snipped because it responded to me in the same calm and rational way in which I commented (a bad precedent to set if one may need to hold otherwise). Although I doubt it, since said partners are avowed haters of thought police and dictatorial powers, so it makes little sense that they would become patrol officers for same. I wrote the webmaster about it to see if something can be done when comments obviously don’t violate posting policy. (If it was the webmaster doing it, I suspect I would have heard, and yours wouldn’t have been clipped.)

I happened to have printed yours this morning if you want me to retype it, but I have to do some other work so I’ll just make a quick response. The Christian Doctrine I speak of is taught by Pastor Arnold Murray of Shepherd’s Chapel, and no, the Bible doesn’t say billions, I don’t believe, but it does mention the Three Earth Ages, by Pastor Murray’s reckoning, in the Book of Peter and other places. (The Book of Job even mentions former creatures “with tails like cedar trees,” which are dinosaurs according to Murray.) There are other references, but I don’t know them offhand.

There’s lots to strike one as plenty religious-cuckoo about his whole doctrine, but I find him interesting because he mocks those Christians who believe in the rapture and Easter and other beliefs he points out are not in the Bible. He’s an iconoclast to a lot of the other Christian nutjobs who are preaching, so he’s interesting to watch for me. Plus, I want to know the Bible better than most Christians so that I can beat them at their own game, and he teaches it “chapter by chapter and verse by verse.”

I see no “magic” required to hold the concept of God I describe, in fact, I find it IDENTICAL to what I hold for the same concept in science. Perhaps you don’t find something with no beginning—but which exists—as somewhat outside our comprehension, but I do. No big deal there. God and science are one for me, as far as that goes.

One answer I haven’t put up yet is that, yes, I have long held (and said) that people believe in heaven because they don’t want to deal with death and the death of their loved ones. But be that as it may (or may not), it doesn’t address the question of which one is real. It’s just one possible explanation for one possible answer, and conclusive of nothing in that regard…

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By THE SNED, April 23, 2011 at 3:47 pm Link to this comment

Well I just lost a post. So I begin again.
“Particularly since the best reading of Christianity I’ve found speaks of Two Earth Ages, the First existing as the billions of years before recorded history, and the Second beginning the age we’re in now, where “God created the heaven and earth and then people.”

I have no idea what you’re talking about.Period. You read something somewhere that interprets what to mean what? Please.I’m not a moron,or gullible. I doubt that the word billion ever occurs in any ancient writing.

That someone stood up one day and said that how god got here is to know the unkowable…or whatever you’re trying to say.
To imply that God always existed requires too much magic. I don’t believe in magic. You can. Not me.

Here’s the easiest way for me to describe something known as heaven. It is precisely what death is all about. A place where there are no worries. A place so f…ing boring that you couldn’t even kill yourself because the knife would go dull just when you tried it. Got it? Death= heaven.Heaven=death. The perfect end. Not gonna see Mom, or Dad or Grampa Ed. ( I know you don’t believe in it either) Too much magic.

The last thing any human wants to do is bow down to some master….yet every Sunday we praise god from who all blessing flow….like a bunch of primitives worshipping the sun.That kind of worship at least makes some sense. Sun’s hot..feels good, grows things… don’t know a bloody thing about why things happens so the sun is a good bet to roast a pig for and give thanks.We’re way beyond that.

The catholic church has the magesterium which claims that only those robed priests can interpret the bible. Bulls..t!
The pope today essentially claimed that we are not the result of evolution. Bulls..t!

You’re use of alledged “christian reasoning holds no water here. Isn’t the trinity enough of a problem? Man you’re wasting your time here.(My opinion of course)...I’ll wait for the others to chime in. (They happen to be smarter)...I’m more seat of the pants.

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By Felonious Monk, April 23, 2011 at 2:55 pm Link to this comment

(See previous post)


A: Your ideas have interesting implications, because they essentially place your beliefs in agreement with Christianity. You’re saying that religion posits that there is a beginning, but there is no end. But that is not exactly correct. Christianity says there’s a beginning of the universe/world as we know it (as does science with the Big Bang), but that God precedes that beginning and represents the “no beginning, no end” you say is found in science but not religion. It is found there, however.

Particularly since the best reading of Christianity I’ve found speaks of Two Earth Ages, the First existing as the billions of years before recorded history, and the Second beginning the age we’re in now, where “God created the heaven and earth and then people.” That’s how God had the billions-of-years-old stardust to form us, of which we’re comprised according to both science and the Bible.

The two age concept isn’t necessary to address your ideas, however, because by any reading of the Bible, God MUST exist prior to the creation of the universe—lest he not be there to create it. The Bible isn’t saying that in the beginning God created himself and the universe at once. It says GOD is eternal and without beginning or end, not the universe we know—and since all things are in God, according to it, this is totally in keeping with the science. Our universe started with the Big Bang, but before that there was/is something that had no beginning and has no end. God, according to the Bible.

Another point of interest is your saying: “because I cannot conceive of a being coming into existence with all knowledge and power to create all of this. It makes no sense. [Therefore is must not be the case.]”

What you say is that because you can’t conceive of something and it makes no sense to you, it cannot be. This argument is clearly rife with problems. Although it can be approached a number of ways, one might be: That unless you personally could’ve given us all the calculations of math, science, physics, etc. that the great minds have ever conceived of (since they are just concepts, regardless of whether or not true and consistent with reality), or ever WILL conceive of, then they cannot be. Yet they are, or will be. I dare say, however, neither you nor any person could have conceived of them all.

And I don’t mean that you can hold the concepts once someone else has conceived of them—plenty of people can also do that with the concept of God that you say you can’t get your mind around—but that you personally could’ve conceived of them, which is the standard you set. Unless you can conceive it, it cannot be the case.

Also, Philosophy of Religion has a number of ways of addressing the very questions you raise as far as the inconceivable. In them, God is considered the “uncaused cause” or “uncreated creator.” Yes, that makes him something that is incomprehensible and can only be known in parts—but that’s just what the Bible says.

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By Felonious Monk, April 23, 2011 at 2:53 pm Link to this comment

Posts seem to be disappearing from the thread, at least on this end, including my response to Tom (I can repost) and Sned’s comment to me. I’ll have the webmaster look into it. Regardless, here is the answer Sned had requested. I’ll post the question and answer separately since both together are too long…


Q: And here’s a kicker that’s tough to get. But try. There is no such thing as time. It’s a measurement for our use. All measurements don’t exist as a things. If you can get to the point of realizing that time doesn’t exist then all the words we use for time “Beginning, end, today, tomorrow etc” have no meaning to the universe. The universe has had no beginning and no end. And to me that makes all the sense in the world because I cannot conceive of a being coming into existence with all knowledge and power to create all of this.It makes no sense. And after all every atom in your body comes from the stars…not from mom and dad.You are made up of atoms that are billions of years old in time….but also have always existed in one form or another….perhaps lesser particles or forms we have yet to discover forever. There is no beginning and there is no end. And that makes far more sense than a start and a life everlasting..that accepts half the “not time” premise (everlasting) but not the first part.No beginning.

(See next post for answer)

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By THE SNED, April 22, 2011 at 6:18 pm Link to this comment

Felonious. You have still not addressed th question of time…and the fact that most systems of belief in god start time with It, view life in heaven as everlasting…(in one way or another) in one direction…but not in the other, when it is my conjecture (and that of science, by the way…“time is an illusion”*) ...that the universe in whatever shape or form it can be, neither stopped nor started.
T
hat thought is without any prejudice.

Nor is the thought that an all powerful being with all knowledge and power can just pop into existence…(magic)...or be in existence (more magic).....that is based on unprejudiced reason and common sense since our own experience requires some flow of growth and evolution of intelligence.

Faith throws all of that out the window….

Your turn…

*The Science channel has an almost wonderful piece on time. I say almost because the Asian American scientist, whose name escapes me, states…as the credits roll…when nobody’s listening. “Time is an illusion”

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By Felonious Monk, April 22, 2011 at 5:48 pm Link to this comment

Hi Tom,

Thanks again for the great poetry. (Although to be devilish, I could point out J.R.R. Tolkien’s belief that we as humans are creators in that sense because we are created, and naturally inclined to emulate God by writing poems and such. No need to rebut this, I’ll assume it was refused delivery and sent back return to sender…{{good-natured chuckle}})

As to arguments that use personal experience as the premise for rejecting belief, I must say—while convincing for the individual and any inclined towards a like mind—as an objective force to sway others who may feel otherwise, I don’t think it ultimately compelling. As stated, some actually use the same experiences to VERIFY their beliefs (since Jesus is not all-out opposed to war, by some readings, so the consequences still fit nicely within their faith).

Also, some like Elie Wiesel have lost their faith over such things as WW2, but then used its tenets (the Book of Job, for instance, can square just about any bad thing with believing) to find how it still makes sense. I know this can be rejected and diminished for a laundry list of reasons—but that’s kind of my point. The same type of argument from the other side can easily be, as well.

To that end, my own reasons for believing are ALSO based in large part on personal experience (as stated in the answer to Sned’s question), but I’ve no doubt that, were I to write a list of anecdotes which, for me, PROVE there is SOME organizing force I can call God in the universe (even if it hasn’t sold me on the afterlife), they would be little but easily-dismissed or rationalized stories to those who don’t believe. And that’s fine, except that the same thing is true of anecdotes from non-believers to believers. As a logic/debate standard, they are essentially neither here not there, except as inductive argumentation.

It’s interesting that you posted the second poem with strong derisive attitudes towards believers, because my first thought yesterday was that—as dismissive as one might be, while wielding the moral authority of such hellish experiences as war—there are those who do exactly the same thing from the other side, such as the famously ornery preacher I mentioned yesterday. He likes to mock non-believers much the way others like to mock believers, and would undoubtedly respond in an equally dismissive and belittling way.

If I can paraphrase what his attitude might be (and let me underline, these are NOT my thoughts; both because I don’t feel this way, but also because as one who never served in the military let alone war, I don’t have the standing to make them), he would likely turn it right around, assume his mocking little kid voice and say: “Oh, I saw horrible things in war! I was afraid for my life! There must be no God!”—then add a command to stop whining or something. As unbelievable as this may seem, that is his attitude towards such things. And although you or I might find it wrong, it is on par as the same kind of argument as from his opponents.

Lastly, I notice a tendency for many to make the argument that “belief is the result of x, y, and z”—then use a different standard for why they DON’T believe. So that “all belief is the result of an irrational emotional response from unreflective sheep, but my lack of faith is the result of reason and commonsense.” To me, that’s little more than the definition of a bigoted view: assigning all the higher qualities to the thoughts and actions of one’s demographic, while explaining everything from the demographic they oppose to lower base impulses—then blame the “other” for all the world’s ills.

To me, if belief is a non-thinking response, than so is non-belief (or both can be, since I don’t think there is a monolithic mindset in any group, and see the idea as another form of bigotry). If non-belief is the result of reason and logic, than so it belief (or can be, as stated.)

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By Tom Edgar, April 21, 2011 at 10:02 pm Link to this comment

I thank you for your kind words.  I had not looked at the poem for a long time and noticed it needed modifying. I’ll not bother you with the revision, however my younger brother who post WW2 served as A British Paratrooper (Red Devil) made some remarks once that prompted the following poem.  I hasten that Jack was not an atheist, but was more than a tad cynical.  I Apologise if I am boring.

  THE ADVANCE OF THE ATHEIST AND BELIEVER.

I THINK YOU ARE A SILLY BLINKERED CLOD
TRUSTING IN AN OMNISCIENT GOD’S PROTECTION

PRAYING TO AN INVISIBLE LOVING BEING, WHILST
OUR ENEMY COLLIMATES THE PRAYERS AND KILLING.

BOTH GAINING COMFORT IN THE KNOWING, THAT
IF YOU “BUY THE FARM” YOU’RE OFF TO HEAVEN.

THERE TO JOIN OUR GLORIOUS FALLEN BRETHREN
BUT HAS YOUR GOD TOLD YOU THAT, HE’LL THEN

SEPARATE “THEM” FROM US OR LEAVE ALL TOGETHER
TO HATE AND MAIM AND KILL FOR AYE AND EVER?

OR DOES HE RECOGNISE THAT THEY, AS WE, LEAVE
PARENTS, WIVES,FRIENDS, AND FAMILY TO GRIEVE.

I ENVY YOU THE COMFORT THAT YOU HAVE GAINED
FROM THIS UNFOUNDED BELIEF IN A PROTECTIVE GOD.

I DON’T WANT OUR FRIENDSHIP TO BE CONSTRAINED
BUT I STILL THINK YOU’RE A SILLY BLINKERED CLOD.

BUT AS YOU THINK YOU ARE ONE OF GOD’S ANOINTED
YOU GO FIRST.I’LL BE RIGHT BEHIND. BY YOU PROTECTED.

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By Felonious Monk, April 21, 2011 at 3:58 pm Link to this comment

That is beautiful Tom, and the imagery and form are brilliant. In the spirit of Sned’s remark, I was just talking with my girlfriend last week—while watching PBS’s Civl War special—about the genius of the “everyman” that seems to be brought out in such situations, inspiring words that put any professional to shame. (Or at least meet/set a standard as high as can be set…)

Being a word-monger who has things stick with him always when they resonate in such a way, I can say in all honesty that I will never forget the picture you drew. Many thanks for sharing it…

(As for further debate, still getting used to the work-till-2am schedule, so the ideas I’ve jotted down will have to wait for tomorrow’s free time so as to get some further sleep… Best to you till then.)

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