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Sam Harris: The Language of Ignorance

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Posted on Aug 15, 2006
The Double Helix and the Cross
Illustration: Karen Spector

By Sam Harris

(Page 2)

On the question of why God simply doesn?t provide better evidence for his existence:

If the case in favor of belief in God were utterly airtight, then the world would be full of confident practitioners of a single faith. But imagine such a world, where the opportunity to make a free choice about belief was taken away by the certainty of the evidence. How interesting would that be?

One is tempted to say that it might be more ?interesting? than a world unnecessarily shattered by competing religious orthodoxies and religious war, only to be followed by an eternity in hell for all those who believe the wrong things about God. But, to each his own.

How does Collins settle the problem of theodicy—the mystery of why there is evil and misfortune in a world created by an omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly benevolent God? He takes it very much in stride:

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Science reveals that the universe, our own planet, and life itself are engaged in an evolutionary process. The consequences of that can include the unpredictability of the weather, the slippage of a tectonic plate, or the misspelling of a cancer gene in the normal process of cell division. If at the beginning of time God chose to use these forces to create human beings, then the inevitability of these other painful consequences was also assured. Frequent miraculous interventions would be at least as chaotic in the physical realm as they would be in interfering with human acts of free will.

But why was God obliged to make cell division susceptible to the perversity of cancer? And why couldn?t an all-powerful, all-knowing, perfectly benevolent God perform as many miracles as He wanted? There isn?t time to entertain such questions, however, as Collins must solve all outstanding problems in the science of cosmology:

The Big Bang cries out for a divine explanation. It forces the conclusion that nature had a defined beginning. I cannot see how nature could have created itself. Only a supernatural force that is outside of space and time could have done that.

It is worth pointing out the term ?supernatural,? which Collins uses freely throughout his book, is semantically indistinguishable from the term ?magical.? Reading his text with this substitution in mind is rather instructive. In any case, even if we accepted that our universe simply had to be created by an intelligent being, this would not suggest that this being is the God of the Bible, or even particularly magical.  If intelligently designed, our universe could be running as a simulation on an alien supercomputer. As many critics of religion have pointed out, the notion of a Creator poses an immediate problem of an infinite regress. If God created the universe, what created God? To insert an inscrutable God at the origin of the universe explains absolutely nothing. And to say that God, by definition, is uncreated, simply begs the question. (Why can?t I say that the universe, by definition, is uncreated?) Any being capable of creating our world promises to be very complex himself.  As the biologist Richard Dawkins has observed with untiring eloquence, the only natural process we know of that could produce a being capable of designing things is evolution.

Any intellectually honest person must admit that he does not know why the universe exists. Secular scientists, of course, readily admit their ignorance on this point. Believers like Collins do not.

The major and inescapable flaw of ? [the] claim that science demands of atheism is that it goes beyond the evidence. If God is outside of nature, then science can neither prove nor disprove His existence. Atheism itself must therefore be considered a form of blind faith, in that it adopts a belief system that cannot be defended on the basis of pure reason.

Is disbelief in Zeus or Thor also a form of ?blind faith?? Must we really ?disprove? the existence of every imaginary friend? The burden of producing evidence falls on those making extravagant claims about miracles and invisible realities. What is more, there is an enormous difference between acquiring a picture of the world through dispassionate, scientific study and acquiring it through patent emotionality and wishful thinking—and only then looking to see if it can survive contact with science.

Consider the following fact: Ninety-nine percent of the species that have ever lived on Earth are now extinct. There are two very different questions one could ask about a fact of this sort, if one wanted to assess the reasonableness of believing in God. One could ask, ?Is this fact compatible with the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient and compassionate God?? Or, one could ask, ?Does this fact, alone or in combination with other facts, suggest that an omnipotent, omniscient and compassionate God exists?? The answer to the first question is always, ?Well, yes—provided you add that God?s will is utterly mysterious.? (In the present case, He may have wanted to destroy 99% of his creatures for some very good reason that surpasses our understanding.) The answer to the second question is ?absolutely not.? The problem for Collins is that only the second question is relevant to our arriving at a rational understanding of the universe. The fact that a bowdlerized evangelical Christianity can still be rendered compatible with science (because of the gaps in science and the elasticity of religious thinking) does not mean that there are scientific reasons for being an evangelical Christian.

Collins? sins against reasonableness do not end here. Somewhere during the course of his scientific career, he acquired the revolting habit of quoting eminent scientists out of context to give an entirely false impression of their religious beliefs. Misappropriation of Einstein and Hawking, while common enough in popular religious discourse, rises to level of intellectual misconduct when perpetrated by a scientist like Collins. Where either of these physicists uses the term ?God?—as in Einstein?s famous ?God does not play dice??—he uses it metaphorically. Any honest engagement with their work reveals that both Einstein and Hawking reject the notion of Collins? God as fully as any atheist. Collins suggests otherwise at every opportunity.

In his role as Christian apologist, Collins also makes the repellent claim that ?the traditional lore about Galileo?s persecutions by the Church is overblown.? Lest we forget: Galileo, the greatest scientist of his time, was forced to his knees under threat of torture and death, obliged to recant his understanding of the Earth?s motion, and placed under house arrest for the rest of his life by steely-eyed religious maniacs. He worked at a time when every European intellectual lived in the grip of a Church that thought nothing of burning scholars alive for merely speculating about the nature of the stars. As Collins notes, this is the same Church that did not absolve Galileo of heresy for 350 years (in 1992). When it did, it ascribed his genius to God, ?who, stirring in the depths of his spirit, stimulated him, anticipating and assisting his intuitions.? Collins clearly approves of this sordid appropriation, and goes on to say that all the fuss about Galileo was, in the end, unnecessary, because ?the claims that heliocentricity contradicted the Bible are now seen to have been overstated?.? (And what if they weren?t overstated? What then?) It is simply astonishing that a scientist has produced such a pious glossing of the centuries of religious barbarism that were visited upon generations of other scientists.

If one wonders how beguiled, self-deceived and carefree in the service of fallacy a scientist can be in the United States in the 21st century, ?The Language of God? provides the answer. The only thing that mitigates the harm this book will do to the stature of science in the United States is that it will be mostly read by people for whom science has little stature already. Viewed from abroad, ?The Language of God? will be seen as another reason to wonder about the fate of American society. Indeed, it is rare that one sees the thumbprint of historical contingency so visible on the lens of intellectual discourse. This is an American book, attesting to American ignorance, written for Americans who believe that ignorance is stronger than death. Reading it should provoke feelings of collective guilt in any sensitive secularist. We should be ashamed that this book was written in our own time.



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 contemplative disciplines, for twenty years. Mr. Harris is now completing a doctorate in neuroscience. His work has been discussed in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Chicago Tribune, The Economist, The Guardian, The Independent, The Globe and Mail,  New Scientist, SEED Magazine, and many other journals. Mr. Harris makes regular appearances on television and radio to discuss the danger that religion now poses to modern societies. The End of Faith won the 2005 PEN Award for Nonfiction. Several foreign editions are in press. Mr. Harris lives in New York City.

His most recent book is “Letter to a Christian Nation” (Amazon)


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By Warren Greer, October 10, 2006 at 8:15 pm Link to this comment
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Bravo, Eric, # 28115!  Your attitude on material reality just may be that which rescues the human race from the muck of superstition and racISM which, at present, threatens us with extinction.  Also, we see the difference between human and non-human evolutionary selection.  We are human because we can see the value of ALL pysical and mental tendencies.  Regressive characteristics which contribute little or nothing to survival at one time, just may be the abilities which rescue us under different ecological and social pressures at another time!  I am an atheist and have been for over sixty years, but this small part of Jesus’s teaching, that “the MEEK shall inherit the EARTH”, the shameful step-child of Christ-ianity’s concern with an AFTER-life, may be the kernel which Yeshua contributed to the survival of the species!
Thank you for your valuable contribution.

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By eric, October 10, 2006 at 5:24 pm Link to this comment
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in response to Paul who states that as i am writing this i need to “take a good look at your body and think about how amazing and masterfully it was created and how everything about it was incredibly put together in such a precise functioning order to perform, think and acomplish what it was designed to do”.
I am person who suffers from multiple sclerosis and who has a very hard time walking, seeing straight, feeling my unfunctioning limbs and, as a consequence, typing this response.  It seems completely unreflective of you and down right self-righteous to think that i should be in awe of your invisible god who “masterfully” created my malfunctioning body. I’m certainly not looking for pity here or to complain about my situation to an audience. I just want to express the insanity of all these delusional religionists running around stating how amazing the “designer” of the world is, how perfect he must be. Have they bothered to look at the evidence? Have they bothered to think about how malicious a designer must be to intentionally give people multiple sclerosis or cancer or any number of diseases of which mine is perhaps the easiest to endure. And if it is not mal-intent then God is completely inept and therefore not worthy of another thought. I know there will now be a lot of “God works in mysterious ways” comments but, sorry, that just doesn’t cut the mustard. I except, through rational thinking and the understanding of science that evolution is a sometimes flawed way of designing organisms. But it is the only way nature knows how.

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By Paul, October 7, 2006 at 8:10 pm Link to this comment
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Wow! All these opinions and comments and each person in his own mind thinking he or she has   the absolutely correct one.
Just think about this. As you are sitting there, take a good look at your body and think about how amazing and masterfully it was created and how everything about it was incredibly put together in such a precise functioning order to perform, think and acomplish what it was designed to do.
So, as you formulate all of your ideas and theories to put down into print, think about and thank the creator who gave you the ability to do so in the first place. Because beings so wonderfully and intelligently well designed as yourselves, didn’t just get here by accident.

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By Warren Greer, October 7, 2006 at 5:44 pm Link to this comment
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Touche’.  Ad hominem trumps begging the question.

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By El Paisa, October 6, 2006 at 4:55 pm Link to this comment
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Warren tells us that “If Jesus was god, then the story would go that he prophesied his son (himself) would be crucified by people whom he set up to sin so that he, godchristjesus, could die on the cross to redeem them from the punishmemt (sic) for their sins to which godjesuschrist had condemned them.” 

When one has the right information one can still make a mistake.  When one starts with the wrong set of “facts” then one can succeed out of luck.  Unfortunately Warren is not lucky.  If I said I was against atheism because it is a sect that favors human sacrifice, I would not be more wrong than Warren’s assertion as to why he dislikes Christianity.  State the facts correctly, my friend, and we can take it from there.

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By m@, October 6, 2006 at 1:43 pm Link to this comment
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“I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently I assumed that it had none and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption…. For myself as, no doubt, for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation ... liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom…. There was one admirably simple method in our political and erotic revolt: We could deny that the world had any meaning whatsoever”

Aldous Huxley, ‘Ends and Means’

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By Steve M, October 6, 2006 at 12:51 pm Link to this comment
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Comment #27281 by John on 10/05 at 9:18 pm

“Athiests are deathly afraid of the One they really have an argument with and because of that they seek out gullible people who are wanting to be consoled that it is OK to lie to oneself about what scares them.”

Ridiculous.  How can we be deathly afraid of something we don’t believe exists?  Following your logic atheists would be deathly afraid of all imaginary beings.  Really, the image of a god angry at it’s creations because they don’t believe in it?

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By El Paisa, October 6, 2006 at 9:28 am Link to this comment
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Re: #27133 by Dan

In the dark and middle ages, Christians had to contend with the plague of heresy.  But in the 21st century the problem is crackpots.  And boy let me tell you, they are a plague.  How they can fool anyone I don’t know, but you go figure it out.  Some of them are even entertaining.  Dan Brown seems to fall in this category, with his accusation that the Catholic church has suppressed the feminine divine (this after radical protestants accused it for centuries of Mariolatry!).  But he, like all others, shows the same traits that Dan finds so appealing.  Their unbalanced mind exhibits the hallmark of the crackpot: a lack of ability to weigh evidence.  Everything rests in the same flat surface, everything equally salient and relevant.

Dan’s dirty laundry list of similarities between mithras and Christ is given without attribution or source.  He follows the standard cut and paste internet approach to “research”.  In fact, he might as well leave the attribution out.  It would be embarrassing to admit that one takes a crackpot like Achyra S. seriously enough to cut and paste his claims.  Let me make a couple of brief points before I suggest a couple of sources that might help to set you straight.  First, there are many similarities between ancient pagan religions and Christianity.  These have been thoroughly analyzed both by the fathers of the church as well as modern authors.  I find the apologetics of these similarities quite satisfying.  As Christians we believe God has reveled part of his character to many peoples.  There are, in fact, texts in other Latin sources that are even more startling in their “anticipation” of the Christ.  Do your homework.  Second, there are many religions in south America (Santeria, Candomblé, Caribbean Colombian religions, etc) which are of ancient African pagan origin.  Many of their rites and beliefs are clearly similar to those in Christianity.  However, we know this is due to their coexistence with Christianity: Santeria has borrowed from Christianity and Christianity (the organized church, that is) has borrowed, on occasion, from paganism, for edifying purposes.  There is nothing sinister or troubling here.  For a more in depth view on the claims of Mithraism I’d suggest you visit J.P. Holding at http://tektonics.org/copycat/mithra.html.  He doesn’t’ sound like a crackpot.  As for and introduction to the historicity of the Gospels I like Luke Timothy Johnson’s “The real Jesus”.  Long live Christ the king.

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By Warren R. Greer, October 5, 2006 at 11:04 pm Link to this comment
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For Jon, # 26890:  Please examine this quotation from your message above.
“...I personally believe that Christ was the son of God because he was sent by God and lived a perfect life without sin, was crucified, and was raised from the dead….”
That is a fairly complete statement of your belief, but, as a statement of argument for christ being the son of god, it is an excellent example of a logical fallacy much misunderstood and misquoted these days: The fallacy of Begging the Question, in which you cite proof of your faith that he was son of god because he was sent by god, etc.  A variation on this might be that you believe in god because he sent his son.  The existence of one depends on the existence of the other, but neither proves the other.
By the way, if you believe in the trinity, then god=father=son=holy ghost.  If Jesus was god, then the story would go that he prophesied his son (himself) would be crucified by people whom he set up to sin so that he, godchristjesus, could die on the cross to redeem them from the punishmemt for their sins to which godjesuschrist had condemned them.  Very tortuous, but if you
can live by that, so be it.  I won’t try to restrict you to my beliefs, but please don’t ally with the bigots who would deny me mine.

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By John, October 5, 2006 at 9:18 pm Link to this comment
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Comment #18799 by Ed W.  on 8/17 at 8:56 am

...allow me to enlighten you with an illustrative analogy…

Not so fast.  An analogy can never be used to fully encompass reallity.  The bill in your example is finite and had no visible effect. 

Athiests are deathly afraid of the One they really have an argument with and because of that they seek out gullible people who are wanting to be consoled that it is OK to lie to oneself about what scares them.

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By Dan, October 5, 2006 at 3:26 am Link to this comment
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Dear Christians,

Take the time to examine the evidence and you will see that your godman is but one of many…

The discipline of history is a tricky one and the further we journey back in time the more difficult it becomes to verify events as factual or simply myth or story. When it comes to antiquity we are forced to admit the amount of historical certainty present is paucid at best. The exact details have been lost to the mists of time (and most likely thousands of documents that have not survived the passage of time as well). No where is this fact more true when considering the origins of what we now in very broad terms call ‘Christianity’. Now if one is a literalist such as certain well know forum personalties on this board the origins of Christianity are quite clear, one only need consult the bible, which by their view is a factual and historically accurate account of events as they happened. Case closed. A literalist is characterised by the a priori asssumption that the bible as it stands today is fact and even more so undiluted fact. I mention this so as to show only that I am not addressing this post to them. They are not my target audience. I wish however to enjoin all others, atheists, theists and agnostics with an open mind and critical faculties to hear me out and examine the evidence (or lack thereof) of this presentation.
At the time of the inception of Christianity in its earliest form it is interesting (indeed impossible) not to overlook a vast pool of similarities between pagan religious cults, their adages and their ‘histories’. Chief amongst them is the cult of Mithras http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mithraism (yes this is a wikipedia article but please do not give me grief over it I simply wish to introduce Mithraism). Originally of Persian origin the cult spread like wildfire throughout the known world of mid and late antiquity. The entity known as Mithras possessing glaring similarites with one ‘Christos’. Here is a short list of those similarites.

1.Mithra was born of a virgin on December 25th in a cave, and his birth was attended by shepherds.
2.He was considered a great traveling teacher and master.
3.He had 12 companions or disciples.
4.Mithra’s followers were promised immortality.
5.He performed miracles.
6.As the “great bull of the Sun,” Mithra sacrificed himself for world peace.
7.He was buried in a tomb and after three days rose again.
8.His resurrection was celebrated every year.
9.He was called “the Good Shepherd” and identified with both the Lamb and the Lion.
10.He was considered the “Way, the Truth and the Light,” and the “Logos,” “Redeemer,” “Savior” and “Messiah.”
11.His sacred day was Sunday, the “Lord’s Day,” hundreds of years before the appearance of Christ.
12.Mithra had his principal festival of what was later to become Easter.
13.His religion had a eucharist or “Lord’s Supper,” at which Mithra said, “He who shall not eat of my body nor drink of my blood so that he may be one with me and I with him, shall not be saved.”
14.“His annual sacrifice is the passover of the Magi, a symbolical atonement or pledge of moral and physical regeneration.”
15.Shmuel Golding is quoted as saying that 1 Cor. 10:4 is “identical words to those found in the Mithraic scriptures, except that the name Mithra is used instead of Christ.”
16.The Catholic Encyclopedia is quoted as saying that Mithraic services were conduced by “fathers” and that the “chief of the fathers, a sort of pope, who always lived at Rome, was called ‘Pater Patratus.’”

more information here http://www.near-death.com/experiences/origen048.html

Anyone who takes the time to look at Mithraism cannot help but note glaring similarities between its metaphysics, structures, etc. and those of Christianity. To compound this it should be know that Mithraism was the NUMBER ONE competitor in the ancient mediterranean wolrd (in particular late antiquity) in terms of popularity as a religion. Both Christianity and Mithraism seem to have absorbed quite a bit of tradition from the ‘Osris Mystery Cult’ The interesting aspect here is the passion and the ressurrection. Osiris was a prime model as having been a murdered god (by hs brother Set) who later was ressurrected to life. This is a fascinating documentary. It is a bit long but well worth the watch:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=64…7&q=naked+truth

A further interesting aspect is the notion of eating bread (the body) and drinking ale (the blood) known as the Osirian sacrament.

http://www.answers.com/topic/osiris (please scroll down to the paragraph entitled the Osirian Sacrament)

The similarities here are so obvious as to hit you in the face. Then enters Dionysus, a deity which readily borrowed much from Osiris and later merged with the Egyptian deity whilst taking on all his aspects as well.
Here is a quote from an excellent book I read a few years back. Highly recommendable.

The subject of Dionysus is complex and baffling. The problem is further complicated by the fact that he appears in at least four characters: first, as the respectable patron of the theatre and the arts; second, as the effeminate, yet fierce and phallic mystery-god of the bloodthirsty Maenads; third, as the mystic deity in the temples of Demeter; and fourth, as the divine savior who died for mankind and whose body and blood were symbolically eaten and drunk in the eucharist of the Orphic-Pythagorean celibates. Beyond this, almost all barbarian nations had their own versions of Dionysius under many names. And yet there is a simpler explanation: Dionysus, Bromius, Sabazius, Attis, Adonis, Zalmoxis, Corybas, Serapis, and Orpheus himself are replicas of their grand prototype Osiris; and the variations which appear among them resulted from the transplantation of the god from one country to another, and reflect simply the specific needs of his multifarious worshipers (37-38). The Story of Christian Origins, Martin A. Larson

Why indeed does ‘Christos’ have so much in common with Mithras, Osiris and Dionysus. Well I would tend to argue that Christian mythology is firmly grounded in pagan mythology, from which is heavily borrowed and modified to suit its needs. The very lack of originality with regards to the Christos make it safe to assume with reasonable accuracy the events described in the bible have their origins more rooted in mythological tradition than in historical tradition. I simply cannot see how this can all be a coincidence. Why is this particular dying and rising god any valid than the others? The answer is: he is not. His validity is simply the product of tradition as enforced by Christian authorities upon attaining political power and of course their ruthless supression of other religions. The Christian authorities at the time were well aware of these glaring, if not identical similarieties, so much so that they produced specific apologetics to counter arguments from pagans who said, ‘well what you say about Jesus we’ve been saying for years about Mithras and Osiris, what’s the big deal?’ Well smart as the founding fathers were we have a Justin Martyr (c.100-165 AD), he not only cites the similarities, he repeatedly mentions them with the whopping refutation of them that it was in fact the devil who tricked humanity and imitated the myths. He writes:

“ANALOGIES TO THE HISTORY OF CHRIST. And when we say also that the Word, who is the first-birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that He, Jesus Christ, our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter. For you know how many sons your esteemed writers ascribed to Jupiter: Mercury, the interpreting word and teacher of all; Aesculapius, who, though he was a great physician, was struck by a thunderbolt, and so ascended to heaven; and Bacchus too, after he had been torn limb from limb; and Hercules, when he had committed himself to the flames to escape his toils; and the sons of Leda, and Dioscuri; and Perseus, son of Danae; and Bellerophon, who, though sprung from mortals, rose to heaven on the horse Pegasus. For what shall I say of Ariadne, and those who, like her, have been declared to be set among the stars? And what of the emperors who die among yourselves, whom you deem worthy of deification, and in whose behalf you produce some one who swears he has seen the burning Caesar rise to heaven from the funeral pyre?”

Now he reiterates the myths:

“As to the objection of our Jesus’s being crucified, I say, that suffering was common to all the aforementioned sons of Jove [Jupiter]... As to his being born of a virgin, you have your Perseus to balance that. As to his curing the lame, and the paralytic, and such as were cripples from birth, this is little more than what you say of your Aesculapius.”

And now to top it off, as usual with those nutty Christians, it was the Devil’S fault:

“Be well assured, then, Trypho, that I am established in the knowledge of and faith in the Scriptures by those counterfeits which he who is called the devil is said to have performed among the Greeks; just as some were wrought by the Magi in Egypt, and others by the false prophets in Elijah’s days. For when they tell that Bacchus, son of Jupiter, was begotten by [Jupiter’s] intercourse with Semele, and that he was the discoverer of the vine; and when they relate, that being torn in pieces, and having died, he rose again, and ascended to heaven; and when they introduce wine into his mysteries, do I not perceive that [the devil] has imitated the prophecy announced by the patriarch Jacob, and recorded by Moses? And when they tell that Hercules was strong, and travelled over all the world, and was begotten by Jove of Alcmene, and ascended to heaven when he died, do I not perceive that the Scripture which speaks of Christ, “strong as a giant to run his race,” has been in like manner imitated? And when he [the devil] brings forward Aesculapius as the raiser of the dead and healer of all diseases, may I not say that in this matter likewise he has imitated the prophecies about Christ?... And when I hear, Trypho, that Perseus was begotten of a virgin, I understand that the deceiving serpent counterfeited also this.”

Now I think the burden of proof is really on the Christians. Why indeed in light of such facts and apologetics is their particular dying and rising god ‘O Christos and the others were just what? Imitations of the devil? Ahem…So I think it is clear that the bible is a collection of myths that had been around for quite some time prior to its composition. This of course doesn’t do much in the way of making Christianity very valid.
One more link with an artistic depiction of the crucified, no not Jesus but ‘Orpheus Bacchus’...looks damn bloody similar to me:

http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/dp5/christian.htm scroll down for picture

The second problem is the historical context of Jesus. There was at the time of the standard Jesus as I shall call him no common agreement as to when the chap was even alive.

http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/dp5/jesus.htm

That is many people believed that a certain Jeshua lived and preached at the time of Alexander Jannaeus (103 BC to 76BC). Why would there be so much dissagreement as to when the Christ had lived with descrepancies of well over a hundreds years. Now was there a Jesus Christ, sure, there were many of them.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/006066799…glance&n=283155

Anyone with an open an critical mind can look at the historical evidence and conclude rightly that one specific man who claimed to be the son of God and rose from the dead simply did not exist, rather there were many such figures, some partially mythical others in part historical (see Josephus citing the execution of various saviours on the link above). At best a ‘Jesus’ could be perceived as the triumphant spirit of man in each and everyone of us overcoming the self. But to claim that Jesus was the one and only son of God is not only intellectually bankrupt, it is theologically bankrupt and any critical thinker can readily see this from what information we have on hand. It should be noted that I have made great efforts to avoid using links that are admittedly atheistic in nature since they would automatically be declared as corrupt be the theists here and thus I believe to have made good use of fairly neutral sites to support my argumentation. The open minded individual is always open to new evidence.

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By Steve Borkowski, October 3, 2006 at 8:34 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

To all Bible and Torah thumbers: Billy Graham said that God cannot be proven. Please write and tell me how you know more about God being a fact than Billy. Talking about God as a fact is why we are in a holy war again caused by people who don’t know what they are talking about and that they have been brainwashed.Your Faith is nothing more than a guess.

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By Jon, October 3, 2006 at 7:49 pm Link to this comment
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Sam,
I am a Christian. I very much appreciate your honesty. You raise a lot of questions that get me thinking. However, I’m not going to renounce my faith anytime soon just because of your own personal opinions. In fact, I’m not even close to doing that. Thank you for strengthening my faith. Your questions have made me be honest about my relationship with God. I don’t think that intellectual thought, though it is important, is the answer to the meaning of life. Because not everyone has the same intellectual capacity. God knows that, becuase people aren’t all the same. He also knows people are sinful and must be punished for their sins because a Holy God cannot be in the presence of sin. I personally believe that Christ was the son of God because he was sent by God and lived a perfect life without sin, was crucified, and was raised from the dead. His life, death, and ressurection is what cleanses us from sin and makes us Holy in the presence of God. That alone is the ultimate act of love because God himself, being in the form of a man, took on the sins committed against him by everyone so everyone would not have to pay for our own sins in hell for eternity.A perfect, all-powerful and holy God must have a perfect and Holy law because God is Holy and all-powerful. Salvation is a gift, and you only have to accpet it. I am a sinful person, I deserve Hell for what I have done against God, I cannot earn salvation because my sin no matter what the act, separates me from God. I have salvation because of what Christ did for me. In the Bible it says that, “for it is by grace you have been saved through faith not by works so that no one can bost” Remember that love requires choice. If you are forced to something, then that is not something that is done out of love. If you are forced to love, then even that is not love. God lets us choose salvation because salvation cannot be forced upon us. We must choose to accept it because that means it is done out of love. There is sin and suffering in the world because man has fallen short of God’s perfect law. Because of the imperfect world we live in, we all have the freedom to choose, if the world were perfect, we would not have to make choices because any choice would be obvious because remember that the world is perfect. If the world were perfect and we all did everthing because we had to, that would make everyone “robots” you could say although I guess that is cliche to say that. God made it so we could live our lives out of love, if we choose to do so, if we choose, becuase LOVE REQUIRES CHOICE! With choice, that means that we have the option to sin if so please. Remember that with sin in the world, that means that there is also suffering because sin produces suffering. God deserves all the glory because everything belongs to him. Sam, I hope you know that God loves you more than you could ever comprehend. I love you too and I will pray for you and hope that God will continue to use you to keep strengthening the faith of Christians like me and maybe one day you will know God for yourself and you can use your incredible intellect that God has given you to lead people in the direction of love and truth.

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By El paisa, October 3, 2006 at 5:23 pm Link to this comment
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One of the many stupid fixations that atheists like, is to argue how horrible Christianity is on the basis of the alleged evils that Christians have practiced throughout the centuries.  Let us then condemn science, on the basis of the horrible things scientists have brought forth:  nuclear weapons, mustard gas, chemical pollution, ozone depletion, etc.  Compared to the potential for destruction that Christians might have wielded in the past, the fruits of science are incomparably worse.  But of course, we all know that some Christians are bad.  The church commands those Christians to repent and mend their ways.  Atheistic scientists, on the other hand, just want to push forward.  In fact, the Nazis had just the scientific frame of mind that Harris likes so much.  Within that frame, final solutions make quite a lot of sense.

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By El paisa, October 3, 2006 at 5:10 pm Link to this comment
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Certainly m@.  The guys is not even a scientist, but he wants to tell Collins, who can run circles around most geneticists, what a proper scientific frame of mind is.  And that is, of course again, an atheistic frame of mind.  It is quite silly, but it gives one a good laugh.  Can any of these guys think straight?

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By m@, October 2, 2006 at 4:18 pm Link to this comment
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I suppose it’s fitting of this article that the following statment should be chosen as one of the ones selected to go in large type:

“Collins’ book reveals that a stellar career in science offers no guarantee of a scientific frame of mind.”

I don’t think I’ve ever read anything more disingenuous in my life.

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By El paisa, September 28, 2006 at 11:17 am Link to this comment
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To #25919 by Warren Greer.

Herod “washed his hands”?  I see you are also a bible scholar.

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By Stephen Borkowski of Jensen Beach, Fl, September 28, 2006 at 10:10 am Link to this comment
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To Ann #21,887. You express a point of view I have been trying to get across for 23 years. Since no one knows anything about a god,but is going to guess or lean as you put it, why not use the word agnostic as an adjective to let people know you know you don’t know. I say that
I am an agnostic Deist because I can only guess that there is a cause behind the effect that we call the universe. To paraphrase your doubt of killing for a god, I ask if anyone can find me just one agnostic religious suicide bomber.

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By El paisa, September 27, 2006 at 8:25 pm Link to this comment
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I am amazed that Rick at 25721 found Sam Harris “concise”.  When an event is certain, it carries no information.  By his very predictability, Harris tells us nothing.  If he was concise, his review could have been shortened considerably.  This is what he could have said without altering his message:

“I am an atheist.
Francis Collins believes in God.
Believers in God are stupid.
Francis Collins is stupid.
I am smart.”

It would have saved us a lot of time.

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By Warren Greer, September 27, 2006 at 3:40 pm Link to this comment
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Paisano Sagrado,
Washing his hands didn’t absolve Herod for standing by while Jesus was killed on the cross by Herod’s henchmen, and neither will your flippant remarks absolve the crimes being committed in the name of the religion you seem to profess, or sport, or however you prefer to define the religion behind which you hide to overlook the things being done in your and my names all over the world.  Are you afraid The Man Upstairs will know your heart and hold you accountable?  It is obvious you don’t hold yourself so.  Or are you a functional-atheist-
practicing-christian-fascist like your fearless leader?  If so, you can just kill ‘em all and let god sort ‘em out!  Right?

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By El paisa, September 27, 2006 at 10:06 am Link to this comment
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Warren is right.  I am a christian and today, on my way to work, I murdered one of my neighbors and raped his daughters.  Then I impaled his son, took his property, and burned the rest.  Another day another dollar.

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By Warren Greer, September 27, 2006 at 5:04 am Link to this comment
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El Paisa tells us, in # 25737, that Jesus won’t break the door down if we don’t answer his knock.
That’s a difference between Jesus’ preaching and the christians.  The Greek word “christ” never, insofar as is known, crossed Jesus’ lips.  He spoke Aramaic, but the politicians who came later to take over the religion spoke Latin and Greek.  And, believe me, they will break down your door.  They will burn your house, invade your land, take its wealth, rape and immolate your daughters, and all the while saying it is for some higher purpose, and that they are doing it only because others do it.  THEY are the ones who make the best argument for atheism.  The Good christians are the ones who spend their lives telling the world who the Bad christians are.  That they are not smitten where they stand is all the proof needed that there is no loving, omniscient, omnipotent deity in the driver’s seat in this universe. 
/s/ El Gava

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By El paisa, September 26, 2006 at 7:30 pm Link to this comment
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Christ knocks on the door of the humble.  Your pride is displayed in you sensitivity to your intelligence being insulted.  “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”  Don’t answer the knock and you can rest.  He won’t break in.

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By Rick, September 26, 2006 at 6:39 pm Link to this comment
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Sam - thank you for your concise, clear review of this “fount of misinformation’ parading as a book.  You are a breath of fresh air in a very stale (intellectual wise) country.  I grew up in an evangelical Christian household and know first hand the dangers the far-right hides beneath a thin veneer of civility.  They still remain the anti-intellectual murderers they were in the 16th century.  I hope your new book (Letter to a Christian Nation) is an all time best seller.  I loved it.

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By Lee, September 26, 2006 at 2:15 pm Link to this comment
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I’ll second Thomas Atwater. I TRIED to read Lewis. I REALLY did. I felt like I was losing braincells with every page. I read only about the first sentence of each paragraph in the first few chapters, as I refuse to waste my time reading his hammer away at a point that I already know is unequivocally wrong. Forgive me if I missed something with my inattentive browsing, but it seems that Lewis’s entire house of cards is built upon that initial argument that we have a sense of right and wrong, and that such a sense cannot be of this world. Harris explains above why that is simply wrong. Excusable maybe for Lewis, writing 3/4ths of a century ago, but for a modern GENETICIST??? And as other posters have pointed out, evidently a good one?!?!?!

Harris was too kind to Lewis. Mere Christianity displays a level of intellectual rigor that should embarras a middle-schooler.

I am convinced that it is impossible to justify belief in any sort of deity, even more so the specific doctrines of Christianity, with reason. Christianity is preposterous, and is supported by no evidence whatsoever. I am more than willing to be proven wrong, if in fact I am. As far as I can see, though, all attempts at apologetics are flimsy constructions that are only evidence of their authors desire to believe. If there is ANYTHING out there in the way of Christian apologetics that is not an insult to my intelligence, I’d love to hear about it.

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By El paisa, September 26, 2006 at 9:30 am Link to this comment
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One last thing, Alan.  You probably are an excellent scientist but it is genome, not geneome,  That mutation is what molecular biologists call an insertion wink

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By El paisa, September 26, 2006 at 8:56 am Link to this comment
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Oh!, and by the way, the project stayed ahead of schedule and under budget.  We need more morons like this.

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By El paisa, September 26, 2006 at 8:53 am Link to this comment
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To Allan Birnbaum

The “moron” was chose for his talent.  Unlike many here, I read his papers and heard him speak before he was chosen to lead the genome project.  To say that he was an “average scientist’ as someone has said here, is quite ludicrous.  His development of positional cloning, and the advances it brought on a number or diseases such as CFTR was major.  It was brilliant work and his election to the national academy of sciences in 1993 reflected that opinion among his peers, rather than his appointment to the project.

Also, someone characterized Jim Watson as a genius, and a towering figure of biology.  No one in biology thinks that.  Watson was a VERY smart kid at the right place at the right time.  By the way, the place and timing were impeccable, and to his credit.  But to use this “authority” argument to call Collins a “wacko” is unwarranted.  By the way, I thought most scientists disliked these “authority” arguments anyways.

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By Thomas Atwater, September 25, 2006 at 4:45 pm Link to this comment
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How can anyone (e.g., #24940 &, at least implicitly, the hapless Collins) laud C.S. Lewis as a persuasive natural theologian?  I taught his “Mere Christianity” for many semesters in an introductory philosophy class (after giving up on Aquinas as too demanding for my often fervently evangelical students)and discovered that there’s a fallacy on almost every page! What a great teaching tool!  Anyone, including Collins, enamoured of Lewis as a philosopher must read “C.S. Lewis and the Search for Rational Religion,” by John Beversluis.  As for Lewis’s literary artistry, which is substantial but not without its major flaws, see “The Passion of C.S. Lewis,” by Alison Lurie, in The New York Review of Books, 2/9/06, pp. 10 ff.

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By Alan Birnbaum, September 24, 2006 at 10:15 am Link to this comment
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There’s a breath of fresh air wafting under my nose and that’s Sam Harris’s writings on religion. It has been my long-held position that those who sell religion are people either delusional or con artists. Many people have posted the only conclusion our brains can muster on the existance of god and that is that NO ONE KNOWS. From that point on it would appear to be a waste of time and energy talking about religion but, since so many do believe(and give comfort to other, equally dangerous religions), they cannot be ignored.

I saw Collins on cable discussing “The language of God” and thinking “How did they choose this moron to run the geneome project”. I changed the channel. Some of you have answered my question in this forum.

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By brotherbu, September 23, 2006 at 8:50 pm Link to this comment
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I don’t feel like writing extensively right now, but i’ll add my two cents…I wonder if any of the Sam Harris supporters have actually read the book??? Do they realize that Sam Harris is not addressing the main points that Francis Collins is making?? I’ve read the book and though it didn’t absolutely convince me, it is a good read with interesting points that are not argued by Harris. He’s just looking for passages that he can attack, taking them out of context and trying to cast Collins as an inferior intellectual. Collins doesn’t even try to convince his readers on Evangelical Christianity. He even criticizes institutionalized Christianity in the book. Collins does describe his own path to God, but he emphatically tells his readers that they need to find their own route through questioning. Sam Harris ought to find something better to do with his life than pick on pick on people who are actually contributing to society. But if he has to criticize their books, he should at least address the main arguments!

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By el paisa, September 22, 2006 at 6:10 pm Link to this comment
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Dear Warren, what is not worth doing is not worth doing well.

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By Warren Greer, September 22, 2006 at 12:36 pm Link to this comment
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Para El Paisa-(no), # 24940
Hijo de la ch——-o!  This sounds like the far right PAN trying to justify stealing the presidency of Mexico!  “Let’s be democratic, but without all the trouble of ACTUALLY doing it!”
Science or superstition, Paisano.  You pays your money and you makes your choice.
/s/  El gava-(cho)

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By El paisa, September 22, 2006 at 11:55 am Link to this comment
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Let’s consider a few of Harris’ opening points.
“After finding himself powerless to detect any errors in the philosophizing of C.S. Lewis (a truly ominous sign), Collins describes the moment that he, as a scientist, finally became convinced of the divinity of Jesus Christ;”
What is a man, who obviously wants to be taken seriously, doing with this little rhetorical device?  Someone that disagrees with you is “philosophizing”; someone who agrees with you must then be a philosopher and probably a brilliant one.  What qualifies one to “philosophize”?  Is it intelligence?  Is Harris’ arrogance to intelligence ratio so bloated that he has actually talked himself into believing that he is Lewis’ intellectual superior?  Or perhaps it is academic background that qualifies one.  In that case I have been long enough at American Universities to know what passes for a course of study in these parts.  I’ll place my bets on Lewis’ academic history over a BAS in philosophy from the land of the fruits and nuts.

Harris immediately goes on, quoting Collins.
“On a beautiful fall day, as I was hiking in the Cascade Mountains … the majesty and beauty of God’s creation overwhelmed my resistance. As I rounded a corner and saw a beautiful and unexpected frozen waterfall, hundreds of feet high, I knew the search was over. The next morning, I knelt in the dewy grass as the sun rose and surrendered to Jesus Christ.
If the beauty of nature can mean that Jesus really is the son of God, then anything can mean anything. Let us say that I saw the same waterfall, and its three streams reminded me of Romulus, Remus and the She-wolf, the mythical founders of Rome. How reasonable would it be for me to know, from that moment forward, that Italy would one day win the World Cup? This epiphany, while perfectly psychotic, would actually put me on firmer ground than Collins—because Italy did win the World Cup. Collins’ alpine conversion would be a ludicrous non sequitur even if Jesus does return to Earth trailing clouds of glory.”

No sequitur is claimed by Collins.  Collins makes no claim of this event having determined his belief in Christ.  In fact, he is not even claiming it to be determining for his switch to theism.  When a person experiences a religious conversion this is often accompanied by the perception of a certain crossing, what one could call the passing of a threshold.  To the affected person the experience is profound, but to the neutral observer nothing might be noticeable.  The event that triggers the conversion can be minor, even infinitesimal (isn’t this is the definition of threshold itself?).  Let me consider a threshold that even our aspiring neuroscientist (who the hell does this guy believe he is, Buckaroo Banzai?) can understand.  Consider a neuron’s electrical excitability threshold.  Such a threshold is not such a simple thing to establish.  For example, you cannot tell whether a neuron is near threshold by knowing its membrane potential.  There is no explicit solution to determine whether a neuron is at threshold, regardless of how much data you have.  You must compute the neuron’s history numerically (or analogically).  In other words you must behave like a neuron (or at least your computer has to).  And this is a stupid little system involving two ionic currents, a leak, and a capacitative current.  How someone reaches the threshold of conversion is totally unfathomable, even to the interested party.  An apparently trivial event can push you one way, or the other.  But even a cursory reading of Christian writings (unfortunately Harris would probably think I am talking about Billy Graham) could have told this to Harris.  But Harris is not interested in finding things out.  He just wants to score.  When a review’s opening arguments are so carelessly constructed I am disinclined to continue reading, but much to my chagrin I pressed on.  The entire review is so full of mischaracterizations one doesn’t know where to start to undo it, so I better not even try.  Now I see why Mr. Harris is so offended by Collins’ “mischaracterizations” of other authors.  The mirror can be very cruel.  And this man, who want to tell us how naïve Christian’s are, wants to use fMRI to understand where religion comes from!  Appaling.

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By Lee, September 21, 2006 at 1:32 pm Link to this comment
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Great post as always. I generally prefer dispassionate reason to angry invective, but in this case, I think it’s warranted. In a country where science is under assault from those who prefer a pre-literate world-view, where most people are astoundingly ignorant of the world around them, this book is unconscionably irresponsible. His credentials will be taken as overwhelming vindication of his nonsensical worldview by those who are incapable, for reasons of intellect, education, or ideological commitment, of knowing better.

If anything, they prove only the extent to which we are capable of partitioning our minds. If religious people applied the level of thinking that they use in religious matters to their daily lives, it would truly be evidence of divine intervention that they are able to hold jobs, carry on intelligible conversations, and not get hit by traffic. I am frequently astounded by the way a person who seems otherwise intelligent can suddenly revert to the intellectual capacity of a 3-yr old when the topic shifts to religion.

I’m good at having conversations with non-fanatical believers without causing anger or animosity, but I’m considering avoiding them because they’re so infuriatingly circular and only lower my perceptions of others. I would WELCOME any idea that would seriously cause me to re-evaluate my perspective of religion. Yet I have yet, in my entire life, to hear any such idea that is not an insult to my intelligence. Perhaps the best attempted “proof” of God that I have heard is the Watchmaker argument, which, in light of our current understanding of evolution, is obsolete.

I was going to buy this book, hoping for thoughtful insight that would challenge my thinking. Now I don’t think I want to waste my time and brain cells. I plan to read Mere Christianity soon. I hope it won’t be a total disappointment.

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By ricky martin, September 19, 2006 at 1:59 pm Link to this comment
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Sam Harris is a typical liberal aethiest who has accomplished little to benefit mankind while deriding a man-Collins- for being magnificant and writing a book of his personal views.  Of course his PhD withstanding, it is in a field that is not at the forefront of competitiveness, in fact I’ve never met a neuroscientist who wasn’t an aethiest, or in fact suspicious of true doctors, MD holders (N of 3-ha on me).  Anyway, Harris reminds me of that extremely intelligent 8th grade boy who would rather laugh and make fun of or disperse sarcastic remarks toward the nerdy kid who got the A’s through a combination of intelligence and hard work.  Big deal he’s a best selling author, so is Al Franken, Ann Coulter, Monica Lewinsky, Bill O’Reilly, great company.  He’s never done anything.  Collins is mapping the freakin human genome, he’s actually contributing.  That doesn’t mean he’s all knowing, but his contribution is much more significant that Harris’ neverending derision of all things religious-of course he’s a pseudo Buhddist, that’s not hypocritical, he’s found the right answer but the rest of us are ignorant- just like that 8th grade kid some of us used to be (including me) until we realize you gotta grow up sometime.

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By Robert Thomas, September 12, 2006 at 9:40 pm Link to this comment
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Genetics seen to be the center point to “The Language of God” and much that is discussed here centers around this point. What I find funny is the nearly complete irrelevancy of genetics. Genetics are merely the form matter takes to bring life to itself, this brings ultimately conscious and intelligence. We are at the beginnings of understanding the fundamental underpinnings of the forces of nature. The last great discovery we can put a name to and understand as an independent force with near magical qualities is called Chaos. When we add this discovery to what we already know of the natural forces in nature, it is enough to make any mathematical study of genetic probability as irrelevant as the study of probability that two snowflakes are exactly the same. Understanding these forces in the primitive way we do today is still enough to realize that here is creation itself. Understanding these forces is to understand the meaning of what is inevitable. We are what is inevitable, beyond this nearly the only questions of importance and meaning are self evident ones. The great thinkers, be them philosophers, theologians, poets what ever they call themselves all have at times discovered and reveled aspects to the truth of what it means to be human living in this world.


What we call religion today is so filled with imagination and delusion it dances around real truth and clouds the mind to what is obvious.  Everything comes down to a few simple beliefs and questions. Imaginary Gods and beliefs, imaginary answers to unanswerable questions, this is the stuff of the ruinous faiths, all of them should be rejected as human society matures.

As we struggle forward searching for meaning, what is real and true is our only guidepost. There is such a thing as a real religion that is universal to all conscious and intelligent beings now and forever. Even the atheist in his denial worships at the altar of being alive, choosing and trying to find what is real.


The most obvious thing is we wake up each day to the unfathomable wonder of life and the mired challenges and choices we face. The greatest miracles are the ability to make choices, and find emotion and intellectual challenge in them.

A complicated subject cannot be discussed intelligently in a few paragraphs, we all do the best we can.

Regards All

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By Warren Greer, September 11, 2006 at 8:41 pm Link to this comment
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For:  Thomas Hobbs, 22853
    No beginning, no end!  It’s turtles!—all the way down! And at least eleven dimensions, all at right angles to each other!

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By Thomas Hobbs, September 11, 2006 at 2:57 pm Link to this comment
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Interesting article. So, is anyone aware of any object that spontaneously came into creation? Or any force that was not compelled? I realize the Big Bang is still just a theory, but I’m excited to find out how matter and force originated. I’d also like to see the math on the probability of the universe existing in the first place, or life spawning from the Big Bang. Fascinating stuff.

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By Patrick Coyne, September 10, 2006 at 2:59 pm Link to this comment
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Sam, you rock.  You’re a true inspiration to someone seeking to live a life of reason.

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By morgan-lynn lamberth griggsy, September 8, 2006 at 8:55 pm Link to this comment
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Where is it cast in stone that one side cannot be right?If thests’ arguments are invalid , we non-theists win.They have the burden of proof as they are showing something to be so . The assertion is not profound ,but only shows the asserter to be unsure, not us.Psychologically, one might not be able to side one way or another, but no one has shown that one cannot validly do so . Are we unsure of unicorns? One means there are   such . Maybe fairies,too! One can decide if theism or atheism is right after all.

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By The Infidel Guy, September 8, 2006 at 1:30 pm Link to this comment
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This is a wonderful and well written article. It’s amazing how when one challenges a religious belief or theological proposition that it’s inevitable that you get someone that says “you are filled with hate”. Jeez… So honest inquiry and calling a spade a spade a hateful act? This is exactly why we need people like Sam out there in the world creating a platform to allow the fruits of cognitive dissonance to take hold.

Great read.. Sam.. I look forward to seeing you on my radio show tonight.

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By Adriel, September 8, 2006 at 12:54 pm Link to this comment
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LOL u guys are funny.  There is no way to completely validate or invalidate either side of the argument, and nobody here is going to convert anyone through the internet, so lets just leave it at that.

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By Martin, September 7, 2006 at 5:02 am Link to this comment
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Sam seems to have missed the evidence for common descent that Collins presents ...see e.g. the review at

http://home.planet.nl/~gkorthof/korthof83.htm

For example: “But what about DNA between genes? The second column of table 1 shows that human DNA which does not code for proteins has a far lower likelihood to be found in other animals. DNA between human genes can still be found with 98% likelihood in chimpanzees, but the likelihood drops significantly to only 52% in the dog. Why should this be so? DNA between genes is non-functional, so-called junk-DNA’. Neutral mutations (=mutations that do not affect function) will accumulate steadily over time. Since natural selection has no grip on neutral mutations, they are free to go in any direction. So why do we still see similarities? Those eventual similarities can only be explained because they are inherited from the common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees or humans and dogs.
And again there is a second level of specificity to this prediction. There is a pattern in the similarities and dissimilarities in this ‘junk DNA’. This pattern also follows the tree of life. Roundworms and fruitflies have diverged so long ago from humans that any similarities of their junk DNA are erased completely.”

This is the kind of evidence that Collins discusses.


Creationists are not going to like this book.

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By Tapu Tuailemafua, September 6, 2006 at 12:11 pm Link to this comment
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PlEASE,

I WANT TO BE INFORMED OF NEW POSTINGS AS I BY MISTAKE CLICKED THE WRONG LINK TO STOP ME RECIEVING
LOOKING FORWARD TO YOUR FAVOURABLE REPLY

I THANK YOU IN ADVANCE

TAPU

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By morgan-lynn lamberth griggsy, September 6, 2006 at 7:42 am Link to this comment
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Steve M , I find your remarks excellent. English is my first language of eleven and my professors liked my style fine. One should read philosophy of religion books whence I get my points . No one here has refuted my points.  Fellow skeptics , keep up the good work!  Harris remains undefeated and he will educate even more people about atheism . Fr. Griggs rests in his Socratic ignorance and humble naturalism .

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By Steve M, September 5, 2006 at 3:39 pm Link to this comment
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Comment #21887 by Ann on 9/05 at 2:33 pm

Ann,
  When you say “lean” do you mean wish?  I’m basically an optimist and hope for good outcomes.  Once you believe something it changes the way you act.  Example 1, Someone does something bad to you or to someone you love,  you believe they will get their reward or punishment after they die, so you do nothing.  The person in question then continues their bad behaviour, perhaps hurting others.  Example two, you or your child are diagnosed with a serious disease, you believe the power of belief and prayer will heal, so you avoid medical options that have a proven track record.  Example 3, You believe in the promised rewards of the afterlife and in the righteousness of your religion, you become a suicide bomber (ok this ones a stretch).
  I think I agree with you that we are all a big bag of beliefs.  Most religions try and perpetuate their beliefs by promising rewards and punishments.  What would life be like without beliefs?  It might be fun to try.

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By Ann, September 5, 2006 at 2:33 pm Link to this comment
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I have really enjoyed most of the comments……some of you folks are very, very smart (you know who you are & don’t let that go to your head).

I’ve been having an ongoing dialogue regarding ‘faith’ and ‘belief’ - and I have come to the conclusion that all we are is a big bag of beliefs.  All of the really big questions in life must be answered with:  I DON’T KNOW - but after one gives that honest answer, we then tend to lean toward one or the other side of that answer:  Does God exist:  “I DON’T KNOW” but I tend to lean toward yes (or no. )

My fellow dialoguer says that he aims to get rid of all his beliefs (things that he relies on that can’t be proved) - but I say IMPOSSIBLE!

One of the biggest beliefs we have is that we believe that we have a future - meaning :  Will we live to see the sun tomorrow? - The real answer to that question is I DON’T KNOW(can’t prove it)  - and then most of us lean toward YES and then make our plans accordingly.  - but the truth is we are relying on a belief which can’t be proved. 

So let’s just agree that WE DON’T KNOW - and then add: but as of today I lean (to the right/left).  Maybe we would be less likely to kill over our ‘leanings’ rather than our beliefs.

Ann

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By morgan-lynn lamberth griggsy, September 5, 2006 at 1:28 pm Link to this comment
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Broiler speaks for me. Sorry for the typos in the last post . What one gets out religion, one can get out many other things - except assurance of an afterlife[ some atheists claim an afterlife exists!]. I never have worried about death . I was nothing before I was born and it will be the same when my axons and neurons give out. Life counts! It does not depend on an afterlife. People find non-existent patterns; so it is with the anthropomorphic one of projecting a god onto the universe .No god answers prayer and makes miracles: one just find those patterns by reading into matters what is not there. Fortunately , with me my schizotypy does not lead me to weird ideas - no gods, no paranormal and no Big Foot.

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By Warren Greer, September 5, 2006 at 12:40 pm Link to this comment
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Mr. White:
Your last entry gave three reasons to believe in god—none of which I consider valid, that is to say, worthwhile.  I tolerate others’ religion if I can see them using it to better themselves as members of society, to practice agape, to use the word you brought up before: charitable love, which you neglected to mention in the latest list. 
Your latest list included only three reasons, all selfishly oriented:
    1.  You get results from prayer to god—you get a ‘yes’, a ‘no’, or a ‘later’.  The results may not be what you asked for, they may be the opposite, or you may not get a ‘result’ until later, but you’re satisfied, nevertheless.
If this is the situation, why bother?  If god is omniscient, all-knowing, why do you need to call its attention to a situation?  It knows what you want, anyway, because it is all-knowing and made you the way you are, anyway.
    2.  You find comfort in your belief in the afterlife.  Great. That is one worry out of your way, now, so get out there and do a little agape on the rest of those poor people who are suffering genocide, disease, starvation, and torture waiting for god to come across with some
prayer-answering, whenever it gets around to the job.
    3.  Hope for an afterlife is your final item.  If we can get enough agape churning around, and maybe devote scientific research to life extension rather than life-shortening through war research, we just may be able to put ourselves into a computer or a clone and keep right on chugging along.  While an after-life may be attractive to some, I think lying down for a long rest might be found desirable to some after a long fulfilled life of work, service, and play.
    As long as people try to be the best non-intrusively helpful citizens they can be, I don’t care if they want to believe in the supernatural if they want to. Here is a note from a friend, with whom I disagree, but which illustrates a harmless, comforting belief without resorting to a deity.
    “...I had a bone-deep realization the other day, that (her older brother who died thirteen years ago)is still inside me, part of who I am, and had a very sweet sort of visit with him. Sounds sort of hokey or far-fetched, but there it is.  I think you’re going to be pleasantly surprised by death, Warren. I don’t think that it is what anyone has imagined it to be so far, but I do have a strong hunch that it also isn’t the total cessation of consciousness that you think.  There’s no point in living so long if you’re going to just stick to certain old guns, is there?
In any event,  I hope you know that you’re surrounded with more love than you realize at this point. This is something I know; again, bone-deep….”

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By Broiler, September 5, 2006 at 11:41 am Link to this comment
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“He saw the stars, and all there was about the stars was, “He made the stars also.” They were just “also.” They were close by, and they were purely for man to look at, about like diamonds in the shirt bosoms of people who like them.

This was not an unreasonable idea, considering what they had to go on. The people who still believe it have no more to go on. Blind men can’t be taught to see or deaf people to hear. The primitive people thought that the stars were right near by and just the size they seemed to be. Of course now we know that some of them are so far away that light traveling at nearly 286,000 miles a second is several million light years getting to the earth, and some of them are so large that our sun, even, would be a fly-speck to them. The larger the telescopes the more of them we see, and the imagination can’t compass the end of them. It is just humanly possible that somewhere amongst the infinite number of infinitely larger and more important specks of mud in the universe there might be some organisms of matter that are just as intelligent as our people on the earth. So to have the idea that all of this was made for man gives man a great deal of what Weber and Field used to call “Proud flesh.”

Man can’t get conceited from what he knows today, and he can’t get it from what intellectual people ever knew. You remember, in those days the firmament was put in to divide the water below from the water above. They didn’t know exactly what it was made of, but they knew what it was. Heaven was up above the firmament. They knew what it was, because Jacob had seen the angels going up and down on a ladder. Of course, a ladder was the only transportation for such purposes known to Jacob. If he had been dreaming now, they would have been going up in a flying machine and coming down in the same way.

Our conceptions of things root back; and that, of course, is the reason for our crude religions, our crude laws, our crude ideas, and our exalted opinion of the human race.” - Clarence Darrow - Facing Life Fearlessly

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By morgan-lynn lamberth griggsy, September 5, 2006 at 11:25 am Link to this comment
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To say that a god plays a role in ones life is merely to say one gets a kick out of the placebo of religion. I don’t need that placebo. My computer is my higher power which has invigorarted me .I get a high from answering theistic nimcompoopery . Theists use invalid arguments which one would expect from those of faith - the I just say so of credulity ! Of course, we honor Harriss, for he knows the moderates are just as much into faith as the fundamentalists. His new book will draw the same drivel as the first one . Many people of Mensa rank are as into the paranormam or the supernatural as any one else . I am a strong atheists, for theists just recycle their garbage into new cans which we empty!  I insult no one , but I expect reasoned responses to mine.

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By Priscilla M., September 5, 2006 at 11:22 am Link to this comment
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Mostly to Paul…

The first part of your comments (points 1 and 2) reminded me of the truly joyful experiences I’ve had with religion.  Point 3 reminded me of all that is wrong with the world today.  I don’t believe people develop chips on their shoulders when they lack a belief system.  I believe they develop chips on their shoulders because their expectations of life have not been met. 

There is so much cruelty and injustice in the world and faith is often shattered for those who believe their God would not do such things or abandon them in their time of need.  They expected that God would do great things if only they believed and practiced their beliefs. 

I find it particularly true among Americans that we set our standards against unrealistic and selfish expectations and are pityfully incapable of handling disappointment, failure, sickness, sadness and least of all death.  We should stop expecting the sun, moon and stars, and for God to solve our worldly problems.  Life is much more in focus that way and we can begin to see the good we can do individually in the here-and-now.  In my view, that goodness does not revolve around a quest for meaning which will take a lifetime and result in nothing.  To attain that goodness requires commitment to peaceful, productive society and to get there we must hold truthfulness and strength of spirit (different from religious might) in the absolute highest regard.

The trouble seems to be that when we start talking about doing things as though there is no hereafter, we become afraid that people will not live by the laws of man (if God will not be around to enforce a just outcome).  I say we need to live life on Earth in consideration of our fellow human beings and start talking more about truthfulness and strength of spirit, for which there are no substitutes in a moral society.  Although I still believe in the probable existence of God, I ask myself daily why does society need God to conduct itself appropriately, conscientiously, lovingly?  We should all shift some of our pondering and evangelizing toward trying to answer and address this question.

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By Broiler, September 5, 2006 at 9:53 am Link to this comment
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“When the human system has been long prostrated with chronic disease, no system of medication can restore it at once to health. The same principle governing the mind makes it morally impossible to eradicate its deeply­ seated moral and religious errors in a day by even the presentation of the most powerful and convincing truths and demonstrations that can be brought to bear or operate upon the human judgment. The mind instinctively repels everything (no difference how true or how beautiful) that conflicts with its long­ established opinions and convictions. The fires of truth usually require much time to burn their way through those incrustations of moral and religious error which often environ the human mind as the products of a false education. But when they once enter, the work of convincement is complete.” - Kersey Graves - The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviors, Chapter 45

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By paul white, September 5, 2006 at 5:17 am Link to this comment
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Why do we believe in God?

1. We have seen Him work in our lives.  We have asked for His help in prayer and then seen the result beyond coincidence.  Sometimes the prayer answer is “no” (for our own good) and often the answer is on His time, not ours; but there is an answer.

2. Believing gives us comfort (a peace of mind) while we are here on earth.  It is better to have comfort than not to have comfort.

3. Believing gives us hope for the future—something to look forward to.  Whether we live 2 days here on earth or 100 years, whether our lives our miserable here on earth or not, whether our bodies are full of disease or not, we believe that we will spend the rest of all eternity with our Saviour in a wonderful place.  If you don’t have this belief and you believe that your earth existence is it, you sure put a lot of pressure on yourself.  You may even lead your entire life with a chip on your shoulder.  Not so, if you believe.

Paul White
In the Right

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By morgan-lynn lamberth griggsy, September 4, 2006 at 11:39 am Link to this comment
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Broiler, and some put that nonsense into abstruse and symbolic language. Thanks. [ My vocabulary is all that remains of my 150 verbal IQ of the fill in the blank tests. Cortical defects interfere with my processing matters. I find posting to be brain exercise . ]

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By Broiler, September 4, 2006 at 9:33 am Link to this comment
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The kernel of truth is that primitive peoples could not comprehend
the causes for naturally occurring phenomena. They knew for example
that a fist sized rock could be thrown. Yet they couldn’t comprehend
how a boulder could roll down a mountainside with no knowledge of
physics and tectonics. They could however imagine a scenario based
on the facts at hand.

If a fist sized rock could be thrown by a “human” a larger rock could be thrown by a “super human”. Would they search for the “super human”?
Of course. By the time they reached the top of the hill where the boulder emanated from the “super human” was gone. A “human” could throw a rock
and then run away or hide, why wouldn’t a “super human” do like wise?


(You could describe any number of natural occurrences that would spark
like reactions from early people. Thunder, lightning, floods, eclipse, the
list is endless.)

Now our group of people has encountered another group of primitive people
and experienced hostilities.

“The other guys threw rocks at us!”

Our group learns, in the nick of time, that if you move far enough away
from the “other guys” they can’t find you to throw rocks at you.

Take this to the next level and we have a group of people who move their
encampment away from an area of frequent landslides to avoid being hit by
the boulders thrown by the “super human” (that they have never seen).
“Brilliant!” (Don’t you love that beer commercial?) This is where it gets good!
Our guys have moved away from both the boulder throwing “super human” and the nasty rock throwing “other guys”. “Life is good!” (Don’t you love those t-shirts?)

Now, in their travels our group moseys past the old neighborhood and what
do they see? A number of the nasty rock throwing “other guys” have been
flattened by the boulders of the “super human”. “Wow, are we blessed!”
We moved away to appease the “super human” and he vanquished our enemies! Damned heathens!

Today we continue to be squashed by the boulders of the “super human”.
Those primitive people imagined the “super human” as being like us only larger
and more powerful. After all he had to throw those boulders, lightening bolts,
pour the flood waters…

Genesis 1:27 “God created man in his own image. In God’s image he created him;
male and female he created them.”

Primitive people needed just a little information to formulate the unknown in the
universe. They couldn’t imagine a creative force more powerful than themselves.
“We’re the biggest and baddest on this here rock, God must have been like us”.
Some modern people hold to these primitive perceptions because they refuse to
acknowledge they don’t know it all and they can’t imagine not having a say in
their own destiny. Better the God we imagine than the indescribable force that
might actually exist or had existed.

Religion in our world is merely a primitive justification for persecution and survival
based on just a little knowledge. And so we never get beyond “my God’s better than
your God!” “See, he squashed you with boulders!” (Pat Robertson broadcasts such
gibberish on a daily basis.)

“As director of the Human Genome Project, Collins participated in one of the
greatest scientific achievements in human history.” - J. Spenard

That achievement will be as useful as counting the number of fairies on the head
of a pin, unless the religious right relents and lets the information be used for the
betterment of mankind through stem cell research.

That is without the “super human” input!

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By david, September 4, 2006 at 4:50 am Link to this comment
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Is it only coincidence that Francis Collins is a dead ringer for Ned Flanders?

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By Robert Thomas, September 3, 2006 at 9:28 pm Link to this comment
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JOHN SPENARD: His recent comments are hard not to remark on. Both on their own merits and because they represent so much of what people think.

Why does he sarcastically berate Harris for his opinion but not Collins for his. It is obviously because Spenard has opinions and an agenda that is driven by a religiously derived imaginary world.

Anytime math is used to describe any religious point, there is no point. Anytime God is defined as more than a placeholder of the imagination there is no point. What is God, God’s plan, what does God intend after death, all these God based questions are just placeholders of the imagination and have no point other than as placeholders. To find a true spiritual place in this world you don’t ask these questions looking for an answer. You understand it is everything that you can ask the questions.


We do not live in a three dimensional world, and it does take real intellect to begin to even see the merest mote of what the truth is of our real world. Moron is a good term to use as to the state of humanity and the idiocy of collective thinking exemplified by the far flung imaginary religions teachings: so historically filled with evils and hates.

Religion as it is thought of and taught in this world, in so many of its forms is dangerous, very dangerous. And I think mainly dangerous because it supplants a search for real understanding of our Universe and our place in it. With a real understanding there is no taught hatreds because hatred has nothing to do with understanding our spiritual place in this life.

The one and only thing I found in Harris’s book that I had not thought of before is the idea that religious moderation gives cover to religious extremists. This is very true and anyone giving cover to any form of religion that has at its extremist core evil and hatred (many other words can be used here) against others deserves our scorn and should be placed on the historic rubbish heap of failed philosophies.  Christians, Jews, Moslems, Buddhists, Hindus the list goes on and is long. It is not that people are good or evil, it is when following a collective religious imaginary world there are behaviors harmful to others because of the following of an imaginary philosophy.  Harris is correct that some imaginary philosophy are more inherently dangerous than others, but all supplant a searching for the real truth.

The simple truth is the universe itself given an honest real understanding of, is into itself, enough to find a spiritual basis unshakable in its stark truths. The myriad failed and faults religious philosophies derived by imagination of the, for want of a better words “moronic minds” of our primitive intellect that we still suffer under is a product of the state of our collective mental and social development.

The spiritual world we live in is a far greater miracle and wonder when seen through an honest attempt to find real, truthful, understanding. All the flights of imagination we call religion today pale by any comparison: so filled with its twisted man made hates, become so utterly false and ridiculous when seen with intelligent eyes looking only for understanding the real world and finding the obvious spiritual truths.

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By Conrad, September 3, 2006 at 2:41 pm Link to this comment
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Mr. Spenard,

Seems you’re getting a bit rusty in your math, just for the record 1/3 + 2/3 = 3/3 = 1. Exactly.

Math is just a system created by humans to model the physical reality that we perceive in the world, just as god is a system created by humans to fill the emotional and spiritual needs for higher meaning and purpose that we seem to have developed somewhere along our evolutionary path.

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By Steve M, September 3, 2006 at 12:09 pm Link to this comment
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Aren’t we all just pretending?  Having a belief doesn’t make it the truth.  Whether you believe in God or not.  I know I’m ignorant of the truth but and I admit it and I may never find it but I’ll always be looking.  I do know that when I finally accepted that all religions are man-made it felt like a weight had been lifted off me.  Life isn’t easy and never has been but I’m willing to take that responsibility.  What do I need an authority figure for?  To tell me when I’m wrong or tell me the right thing to do?

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By morgan-lynn lamberth griggsy, September 3, 2006 at 11:43 am Link to this comment
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That is just another way of saying : I believe despite the lack of evidence on begging the question that is faith- the I just say so of gullibility!  Give a reason, not an emotion .

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By John Spenard, September 3, 2006 at 5:50 am Link to this comment
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Second writing. To those of you who pose the age old question of “Well, If everything was created by GOD then who created “him”?” or some variation of the question, I offer this as an answer, if not yet just another plausible one. We human beings, so limited in our three dimensional earthly perceptions of time and space, must concede that noone of this realm can ever truly answer this or any other faith based question with any true certainty. Well, with what would we measure it against? What proof would we have? None of course. And yet still we try, and do so passionatley and with conviction, in a vein attempt to not only convince others but also in order to convince ourselves. A quelling of our own inner discomforts. I used to wrestle with a similar line of thought that went something like this…“If GOD is all knowing, and if all us human beings were truly given free will, then how does GOD know what decisions I’m going to make before I do if I haven’t made them yet?” I believe that these two questions go hand in hand. They both have the same cadence of the basic geometric rule that if A=B and B=C then A=C. Right? Well, maybe not. Why not? The same reason why 1/3 + 2/3 = 3/3 BUT does not equal 1 and NEVER will. It will always be trying to get there but never will. (1/3=.33333333333…2/3=.66666666666…..33333333333….+.66666666666666…..=.99999999999999….) My convuluted point here is that NOONE “created” GOD. Not even GOD did. GOD IS. GOD transcends time and space and the realm of human consciousness and understanding. GOD is here and there and before, now and tomorrow all at once. GOD IS the “beginning” AND the “end”, the Alpha AND the Omega. Not “one” OR “the other”. NOT “here” OR “there”, NOT “now” OR “later”, or any of the other limited this or that, black or white, wrong or right questions that we impose uopn him. GOD knows ALL, including the decisions that we make “before” we make them, but WE don’t and that’s all that matters. Believe in and decide on something. THAT’s what really matters. John Spenard

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By John Spenard, September 3, 2006 at 4:20 am Link to this comment
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What is so wrong with a brilliant scientist coming to terms with his own theological beliefs as they pertain to a career that he has dedicated his professional life to? Nothing. Why is there always someone so willing to discredit and make light of such a person? Everything.   
    (Quote…“Most reviewers of “The Language of God” seem quite overawed by its author’s scientific credentials. This is understandable. As director of the Human Genome Project, Collins participated in one of the greatest scientific achievements in human history. His book, however, reveals that a stellar career in science offers no guarantee of a scientific frame of mind. Lest we think that one man can do no lasting harm to our discourse, consider the fact that the year is 2006, half of the American population believes that the universe is 6,000 years old, our president has just used his first veto to block federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research on religious grounds, and one of the foremost scientists in the land has this to say, straight from the heart (if not the brain):”)
    Give the human race just a little bit of intellectual credit here Mr. Harris. You begin by calling half the American Poplulation “morons” in their ignorance of general scientific knowledge, then the President, and then proceed to talk of Mr. Collins as a naive child who has just been “taken” by a hoax himself in HIS OWN personal revelations of God.
    First off, I can assure you that if HALF of the American population is that ignorant in matters of grade school level general science knowledge as you suggest, then I say that you should be relieved because I’m sure that those same people have absolutely no knowledge of Mr. Collins existence, nevermind his book. Hell, (Just a figure of speech) even if they find out about it they probably won’t be able to read it anyway, right?
    Secondly, while I don’t agree with the President’s veto, I don’t believe his decision was made out of stupidity more than I believe it was made out of political pressures and legacy issues.)
    And finally and most importantly, who are you Mr. Harris to so readily and so scathingly discount another man’s beliefs? Who are you to discount anothers reaction to the wonders of nature and their own personal and religious interpretations? Our poor lost and troubled Mr. Collins. Is that it Mr. Harris? And you are going to be the one to “expose this Charleton” to us all? Wow, thank you. I can’t believe that I almost fell for this poor ignorant fools opinions and beliefs. You have saved me from myself Mr. Harris. What would my brain do without you? Nothing, according to you.
    It’s people like you who are the REAL scary people. The ones who do nothing but devote their time to dampening the human spirit.
    If Mr. Collins book does nothing more than help people to come to terms with their own religious inner turmoils and misgivings then so be it.
    Give all us “mental midgets” a little bit more credit than that will you Mr. Harris?
    BTW, Everybody knows that the universe is more than double 6,000 years old. It’s at least 15,000. So Ha. See, we’re not ALL morons.
                        John Spenard

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By Robert Thomas, September 2, 2006 at 11:06 pm Link to this comment
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There are an over whelming amount of questions and opinions here. I thought I would just focus on one response to #19383 Mobashir Ahmad question as it represents such fundamental questions.

“What is the aim of life”.
“Who is the creator of us all”

Please forgive the unskilled response.

We are an expression of form of what this Universe can be, having evolved along with the Universe our conscious, intelligent mind can contemplate the what ifs, what can be’s, what is, that our senses tell us. All we have is what is true and what is imagination. Sometimes this is hard to evaluate and separate. But truth is truth.

Thinking about Ahmad question “What is the aim of life”. We can look at what is true. The truth is that life is about being alive and being alive it is about evolving and through evolving some part of life becoming conscious and intelligent. Life is about being alive and in our human case thinking and dreaming. So life is about being alive, evolving and in some part having consciousness and intelligence.  All we know that is true in the human case is we can think with our conscious mind and dream of things possible and not possible. It really is remarkable what we our.


“Who is the creator of us all”. The age old question. The answer for us right now in this point of our evolution, is not going to be definitive and is impossible to answer in the language most would like to hear, clearly defined and understandable; Only our imagination can answer this question definitely and precisely. One thing is clear, any use of the word God in any form is a word from the imagination. Once this is understood you can understand what the word God really means and not have the word God, or Zeus or any form of the word lead us away from what is knowable, true and from understanding ourselves in this world.


What is left is the truth and this truth is that we can ask the question at all and chose to do so. Even the atheist or secularist has asked the question. In being able to ask this question we all have a universal spiritual connection. It is: we all look to our imagination in trying to find the answer to the universally asked question, and that we are alive in this world asking the question. This is the true spiritual basis of our existence. And it seems all that follows this simple truth comes from imagination. 

It is not who or what is the creator: All answers merely a placeholder in our imagination, it is the creation itself that is the miracle and the creation itself that can find the truth of itself and separate out the imagined that is the miracle. This I think is the true religious struggle built into the very fabric of the universe.

Seeking and understanding what is true is the only really universal path to understanding the meaning of anything.

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By ferguson, September 2, 2006 at 7:43 am Link to this comment
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i wrote -

Comment #19390 by ferguson on 8/21 at 11:47 am

to disbelieve in a creator is to believe that objects pop into existence out of nowhere. this defies logic and common sense.


Comment #19401 by Heather on 8/21 at 2:12 pm

So answer me this: WHERE exactly then ferguson, does your creator come from?  He must have just popped into existence out of nowhere.

Comment #19402 by Bizby on 8/21 at 2:28 pm

I agree, but the problem I have with your statement as an argument for a god—if that is what you mean to say—is the age old question asked at some point by every smart little kid: “So who made God?”

Once the logical rule is: “Things cannot pop out of nothing,” you have a logical conundrum, no.  God poped out of . . . what?  The only answer that makes sense to me is “I don’t know.”

Comment #19409 by R. A. Earl on 8/21 at 3:13 pm

NOT necessarily, Fergy. Perhaps to those who can think only in black and white, thereby avoiding having to deal with ALL the complications of shading and contrast and colors, the either-or dichotomy is the only answer they comprehend.

my response - As Bizby said the only answer that makes sense to me is, i don’t know. nor does anyone else. some questions do not have answers. or at least answers we humans can comprehend.

as to r.a.earl- it’s not a matter of black and white but of common sense. what exactly have you witnessed popping into existence out of nowhere?

let me make this clear…i believe something created this world ... what, i do not know…call it the creator or whatever else you choose…i do not believe in the god of the bible or the god of any other religion…i consider religion to be superstitious nonsense.

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By morgan-lynn lamberth griggsy, September 1, 2006 at 1:56 pm Link to this comment
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John and Warren,yes !So this Yeshua was his own father and also one with the holy ghost . For Mary to gfive birth to his Earthly form, the ghost did magic on her .So he suppllied i/2 of the DNA or did she supply all of it? These are serious questions! Actually , he was just another miracle worker who did tricks for the gullible and took advantage         of psychosomatic forces.  Why should we believe this fellow was anybody important ? Constantine and Charlemagne and other kings made their people accept him as a saviour. We now have freedom of thought ,so that we don’t have to believe such garbage. Errantists say that the Bible does not tell of how the heavens god ,but of how to get there. That way is absurd.  And he was no better than most of us. One is not obligated to believe that balderdash!

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By John, September 1, 2006 at 6:39 am Link to this comment
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How many practices from Leviticus survive today? Should we stone adulterers, homosexuals, blasphemers to death as prescribed in Leviticus? Should we offer burnt offerings? Leviticus speaks of the consequences of sleeping with ones slave, should we institute slavery again in order to adhere to the teachings of the Bible? Why aren’t these considerations today? Because we have become enlightened. The Bible deals with barbaric primitive societies which participated in barbaric primitive practices. The next time I converse with a Christian I’ll ask him if he is comfortable with the idea of killing someone for working on the sabbath or sacrificing a goat on his church altar or killing his child for the sin of impertinence.

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By Warren Greer, September 1, 2006 at 1:58 am Link to this comment
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For Mr. White on the Right:

    “...Jesus allowed himself to be killed so the Old Testament scripture would be fulfilled….”
    O.K., I’ve got it now: Godthefather—who was Jesus—wrote the Old Testament so that he—Jesus, who was godthefather—would have people make true what he,Godthefather, said a thousand years before by killing him, Jesus, because he, Godthefather, said they would a thousand years before!
    And, reportedly, among his last words he was wondering, “Oh, My Self, (God) why hast thou forsaken My Self, (Jesus)?”
    And although unverified, it was also reported he said, “And why in hell didn’t My Self, the Holy Ghost, stick up for Myself, Jesus?  My Self, God, always did favor My Self, Holy Ghost, over My Self, Jesus!  The kiss-ass!  You didn’t see HIM, (H.G.), nailed up on this hick red state jungle gym!”
    He, as Jesus, was also reported to say he was lucky he could miraculously turn into an amusing chardonay the vinegar they wiped his mouth with.  R.H.I.P.!!   
           
  “...Finally (for now) when Jesus told us to love our enemies—he said love (Greek: “agope”—we do not have to like our enemies….”
   
    First of all, I don’t know what those eastern Ivy League schools with the colorful names are teaching in the way of grammar and punctuation, but at Texiz U., (or Tex-ass U., as Uncle Dub bush calls it,) we always close our parentheses just for clarity’s sake, even if it is just to enclose a Greek misspelling.  “Agope” must be the Kenny-bunk-mate spelling of “agape”, the Greek word for love, in the sense of charity, filial, or parental love, to distinguish it from sexual love.  I’m sure Jesus was not recommending that we have sexual relations with our enemies, though warfare in that—and this—day and time involved a lot of it.  Some of our boys, (not Christians, surely, were they?), have been doing the erotic thing with children before immolating them and their families; but I digress.  It does, however, illustrate the difference between followers of Jesus and the official brand of snake-handling, foot-washing, total-immersion, fundamentalist Christians, who will “love” their enemies agape-style even if they don’t even like them!
    There is a way to tell the Good Christians from the Bad People, the “Others”.  The Good Christians will be the ones who spend their time telling you who the Bad People are.  THAT’S Evangelism!   

    So, Yeshua ben Yusuf told you to ‘love’ your enemies but that “you do not have to like them”?
    That really smacks of cold cold christianity,
(please note intentional lack of capitalization out of respect for my friends of other than white anglo-saxon protestant persuasion who practice most of what Jesus
is said to have recommended.)

    May I include an excerpt from #18953 by Ed W.  on 8/18, which encapsulates the best of the ‘Science over Faith’ debate?

    “...what is so hard about accepting the idea that if god is all-powerful, he can do what he wants. There is nothing interpretive about this statement.  Assuming god exists, either one of the following holds:

1) god wants to expel evil, but can’t, in which case he is not omnipotent.
2) god doesn’t want to expel evil, but can, in which case he is evil.
3) god wants to expel evil and can, in which case there would be no evil….”

    Forget about the motes.  Good luck with the timber!
    Warren Greer

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By Benjamin Burnett, August 31, 2006 at 8:32 pm Link to this comment
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I just want to thank Sam Harris for actively spreading rational thought.  I could bring up a bunch of arguements against religion but I couldn’t say it better than Sam Harris, so I’ll just advise everyone to read his works.

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By morgan-lynn lamberth griggsy, August 31, 2006 at 7:27 pm Link to this comment
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That interpretation ,which I favor , is why I find the fellow a perverted moralist! And his wanting to send people to Hell who do not kiss his rump, shows perversion, not love. Then again, if errantists are right that such sayings contradict his message of love , remember, he did not disown slavery . So much for his notion of love!

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By paul white, August 31, 2006 at 4:16 pm Link to this comment
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to Broiler (20664), Gloriaq (20666), Stigmutha (20690), Priscilla (20703), and Mike L (20730):

Thank you all for responding.  I enjoyed defending the faith and my specialty is addressing the issue of whether the Bible is really the truth.  For this reason I especially appreciated Priscilla’s and Mike’s thoughtful responses.  They require more much effort on my part than I have to give here (I have a day job), but I will respond soon—in detail.  I have the comments and have the responses—to every point.

Meanwhile, though, may I dispense with the babble first.  Stigmutha (20690).  Rick Santorum is not vile.  You are judging him, and that is not your place—that is Jesus Christ’s job.  You can disagree with his opinion or with his politics, but you should not judge him.  When I say that “progressives” (I’m not using the “L” word any more) are standing on their heads and telling the world it is upside down, I am not singling out any one person—I am talking about their positions (please take note Gloria—20666 of this)—their politics—not the person—not their personal qualities.  I never say that an individual is vile—only God can say that.  There’s a big difference between saying progressives are all wrong and that Mike L. is mean and vile. 

Enough said on that.  Back to 20690 (Stigmutha).  Rick Santorum is NOT vile, in my opinion.  He has been elected twice (rather overwhwlmingly) by the citizens of Pennsylvania.  If he is vile, then you are in essence calling those electing him (twice) vile.  Rick Santorum is a good, honorable man. Obviously, he has a different political opinion than progressives have, but, then, so do the majority of the people in Pennsylvania (otherwise, he would not have been elected twice.  He happens to be a Christian man.  He happens to read the bible.  Believe it or not (and you might not if you don’t read the bible), the bible is tough on many issues. Very tough.  So when he takes tough stands on issues, he is reflecting the same stand that the bible takes on those issues.  Beyond this, most do not understand what it says—because they do not read it.  While there are all kinds of exceptions, my opinion is that progressives are less likely to read it and therefore less likely to know what it says and therfore, more likely to think Santorum is out of line.  He’s very much in line with the bible. 

Jesus, for instance, was especially tough.  The exact opposite of what many think and of what I have seen many progressives write.  The peace that he brought (most progressives don’t know this) has absolutely nothing to do with worldly peace (not fighting)—that is, the absence of conflict.  Quite the opposite, Jesus came to ensure that there would be conflict—read Matthew 10: 34-36 or Luke 12:49-53.  He was a peace-maker and encouraged us to be.  But, \the term “peace” he used does not mean not fighting wars—it means the inner peace one has knowing that he will be saved by grace, notwithstanding his sinning.  Jesus allowed himself to be killed so the Old Testament scripture would be fulfilled.  Finally (for now) when Jesus told us to love our enemies—he said love (Greek: “agope”—we do not have to like our enemies.  Clearly the context could read our enemies who believe in Him or our Christian enemies.  More than this though, note that He said “our” enemies.  As for “His” enemies (those who do not believe in Him), we are to not engage them with love—in fact, we are to shake the dust off of our sandals and leave—do not stay with them.  Do not engage them Do not converse with them Yes, do not sit down with them at the UN and chat.  I know many progressives are having a hard time with this.  But being a Christian is not easy.  Carrying that cross is tough—very tough.  Especially when many are accusing you of not being Christain when they themselves don’t understand scripture.  That’s why Santorum is such a good Christian—he actually follows scripture.

Got to do my day job.  More later to those I mentioned above.  Every point.  May take some time—especially Mike L and Priscilla, so keep looking.  Thanks again for your sincere responses.

Paul White
In the Right

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By Yep, August 31, 2006 at 3:40 pm Link to this comment
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So what religion has come to now is people gaining access to the absolute truths of the universe by gazing at a few streams of water? That’s only a few steps removed from the crowds who came to see a urine stain on a Chicago overpass because they thought it looked like the Virgin Mary. In fact, it’s pretty much the same thing. The extents to which people go to deify nature are hilarious and sad.

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By morgan-lynn lamberth griggsy, August 31, 2006 at 12:33 pm Link to this comment
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Luis Cayetano , so right . Dr. Albert Ellis finds religious people neurotic.Reading those comments from these fundamentalists and seeing that non-fundamentalists have nothing any more logical, I am inclined to agree with him and Freud. Francisco Ayala,evolutionist creationist says believers that their god helps them get over dread and find a purpose to life. She should get counseling to get over the dread and stand on her own to feet to make her own purposes . One of mine is to expose theistic arguments on the web . Preachers say we have a yearning for a god , but that is just brainwashing to me . I never have had a desire to worship , only to know if there were a god. And how couls I dread death ?  Theists are so shallow !

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By Tyler DiPietro, August 31, 2006 at 11:11 am Link to this comment
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To: Paul White,

You are proof that academic credentials do not equal brilliance in argument (incidently a point made in Harris’ review). You provide no substance beyond the typical theistic/Christian claims that, for the most part, simply assume what you’re trying to prove.

Advise to all: just ignore Paul White until he agrees to argue with substance.

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By Tapu Tuailemafua, August 30, 2006 at 5:15 pm Link to this comment
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I am facsinated from this end of the globe
Interesting stuff of course

But has anyone tried the following site:

http://www.rael.org
They have a book to download called “intelligent Design” written from the scientific perspective

I just want to bring it to your attention as they believe some parts of the bible are true and others were manmade -anthropocentric written by humans who as they put it"inspired by their own belief in a god no body sees..on the clouds that is”

You all have contributed to my bag of tricks and thank you all for your arguments as this will surely bring out the best in what people believe in. In Samoa we have a saying: Lots of copra will add to the production of healing oil for massaging people in order to recuperate them
Keep up the good work

I just want to see if any has known about the site above. Their religion is based on a revolution and Sensual healing and more….
cheers from the vast ocean of the pacific everyone.

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By Mike L, August 30, 2006 at 3:38 pm Link to this comment
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My continued response to Paul White:

To move on, you say, “Jesus Christ will judge us.”  I live my life to be the best person I can be and dedicated to what I believe is goodness.  Despite what many religious people may think, I believe we as humans can have a sense of goodness that can either be associated with God OR without God.  I help people when I can because I think it is a good thing to do.  I try to be respectful of others at all times.  Although I don’t think there is necessarily anything wrong with the following behaviors, I’ve chosen not to drink alcohol, not to try any drugs (except caffeine!), and not to eat animals.  I never push these beliefs on others, and in fact, usually try to keep them quiet so I don’t have to defend them—I only bring these things up for two reasons… I feel as though you may have assumed I am a “liberal” and that I am not religious.  You may have stereotyped me as an out-of-control, drug-crazed, immoral heathen.  I just want to illustrate that people are not simply Christian or criminal.  Secondly, I wonder, will Jesus Christ judge me on my decisions to follow goodness and do what my moral sense urges me is right?  I suspect you’d say these “good” things don’t matter—as long as I’ve accepted Him as my Lord and Savior, that’s the only way to receive redemption.  For all the good I may have done on earth, I still lied about my homework when I was a kid.  I still kill cockroaches.  I’ve downloaded music illegally.  Etcetera.  No matter how much good I’ve done, I’ve still done a little bad, and therefore, I need Jesus to have died for my sins, too, in order to be forgiven.  Well, what about God?  Even if He has “created all that is good”, what about all the bad He has created, or at least allowed to occur?  I guess He is hypocritical and doesn’t hold Himself to the same standards as us.  Or, He’s perfect, and those stories of him ripping open pregnant bellies and explaining how to punish a slave aren’t true (and the Bible is therefore erroneous).

Finally, you say, “There is an after life that we can look forward to.”  I’m a bit exhausted, so forgive me if I don’t elaborate here as much as I have earlier.  People are terrified of death.  It is human nature to fear dying.  We don’t know what happens after we die.  The Pharoah’s of Egypt built huge, elaborate structures in preparation for the afterlife.  Many Muslims believe they have virgins waiting for them in the afterlife if they please their God.  Almost all the religions of history seem to have been invented in order to assuage this fear.  We get our notions of heaven and hell from the Bible, and from no other source.  Why should we trust this book?  It seems, due to the inconsistencies, errors, and primitive understanding of science and natural processes in the Bible, that it was not written by a being that possessed all possible knowledge, but rather from some men that lived on earth.  I don’t believe in the gods of Greek mythology, also created by humans ages ago.  I don’t believe that any of the stories Homer wrote were true.  I don’t believe any Pharoahs live right now in an afterlife of some sort.  How is the Bible different?  It seems more logical to assume that the Bible is just another ancient society’s attempt to calm the fears of death we all feel.  This seems very plausible and likely.  Obviously, these mythologies were popping up all over, in nearly every geographical location that humans existed in.  Is it that weird to assume that the Bible is just the particular manifestation of this trend that came out of (roughly) Israel?

Is it just people that go to your idea of heaven?  Can pets go?  Is heaven full of cockroaches?  I’ve killed tons of roaches in my life.  Are all of them in heaven?  What about viruses?  If it’s just people, what differentiates us from pigs and dolphins and monkeys?  We’re a bit smarter, right?  Just smart enough to invent religions that assuage our fear of dying.  Do people with artificial limbs or organs or knees or hips still keep those things in heaven?  I don’t know, and there are tons of other questions to ask that are equally confusing… It seems really likely that people just wanted a nicer place than earth to live in, that they wanted to reunite with their dead family members, and that they didn’t want to die themselves.  So, inventing this place, where all these things can exist, is a nice soothing belief.  I would like to believe in it, too.  But it kinda doesn’t make sense, whereas people wanting it so much as to dream it up DOES make sense.  I totally understand that.

I really do not want to necessarily shake anyone’s faith.  I’m not trying to be a jerk or prove something.  I just wanted to take on your challenge.  I think I’ve addressed your paragraph (ad nauseam, probably!), and I did so without any hints as to my political leanings (I know I haven’t insulted George Bush or Rick Santorum, and hopefully not you, either).  Did I complete your challenge successfully?  I hope so… It was fun to try.

(I would be lying if I said I wasn’t inspired in large part by Marshall Brain’s “Why Does God Hate Amputees?”... I will give credit where credit is due!)

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By Mike L, August 30, 2006 at 3:32 pm Link to this comment
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Paul White,

I’m going to take your challenge, as long as you can refrain from using the term “liberal” again (I guess you can’t agree to this condition before I start my analysis!).  It’s an empty and politically charged buzz word, and it’s a little strange to drop it in a discussion on religion.  It seems that you have a political agenda, while many (not all) of the other people posting here are simply debating religion.  But that’s another topic, so I’ll move on.

Here’s the paragraph and the challenge:

“Liberals, have at this:  Jesus Christ is God and was there from the beginning.  God created all things good.  God started the process.  Evolution is NOT inconsistent with the existence of God.  Jesus Christ will judge us.  There is an after life that we can look forward to.

“Liberals, what say you?  Can you address the above paragraph without putting me or George Bush or Rick Santorum down?  I say no, but I offer the challenge.  I fear that your responses will confirm the definition of a liberal:  standing on your head and accusing the world of being upside down.  Prove me wrong.”

Because this will take some words, I’ll break up my response into two chunks.  Okay, here it goes:

I do agree with you that evolution and the existence of God are not necessarily mutually exclusive.  I don’t believe that one negates the other.  So, enough said there.  Now to the rest of it.

The beliefs in your paragraph, I’m assuming, are derived from the Bible.  If you came to those conclusions through the words of other people, still, the trail would lead back to the Bible.  Beliefs in heaven and hell, Jesus as Lord, and the Ten Commandments all come from the Bible, and humans would not hold these beliefs if the Bible had not been written.  I’m going to assume that this text is what you are basing these statements on, and that there is no other evidence or data with which to work.

The Bible is, in your mind, the infallible word of God.  Your statements are true as long as this book is true.  On the other hand, if the book was written by men and has contradictions, and therefore isn’t infallible and isn’t the word of God, then your statements hold no weight and the beliefs that come from this antiquated book can be abandoned.  So, a lot is riding on whether or not this one text is actually the perfect, harmonious word of God.  Believe it all, or dismiss it all.  There is no picking and choosing since if there are contradictions, absurdities, or fallacies, it clearly is not the perfect word of God.  So for your statements to hold water, the Bible must be infallible.

You say, “God created all things good.”  I would guess you include the Bible in this.  God created the Bible, the Bible is good.  However, is slavery good?  I think anyone as well-educated as yourself would confidently say, “No, absolutely not.”  However, the perfect word of God seems to think it is okay.  All through the Old Testament, slavery is discussed and never condemned.  Try Exodus Chapter 21, verse 20.  Or how about Leviticus Chapter 22, verse 10?  There are plenty more.

What about Jesus?  Surely he straightened things up when he came around, and clarified that slavery is abhorrent (even if he had, that would be a contradiction and would invalidate the Bible).  Well, not really—Jesus is completely comfortable with slavery, too.  Try Luke, Chapter 7, verse 2, or Colossians, chapter 3, verse 22:

“Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not with eye service, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever your task, work heartily.”

So, accepting the Bible as the perfect word of God is to accept slavery as an okay practice to engage in.  I believe that in this modern world, to believe that slavery is okay is grounds for a total dismissal of any credibility whatsoever.  If this isn’t enough, what about God’s insistence on animal sacrifice throughout the Old Testament?  That stuff appears all around the Ten Commandments.  Do you follow the Ten Commandments but ignore animal sacrifice?  Why?  If the Bible is God’s perfect word, why ignore certain parts while insisting that others are to be followed?

Do you agree with God that women should not speak in church (1 Corinthians chapter 14)?  Or is that another part of the Bible that we should ignore?  So, if “God created all things good”, like you claim, don’t you think that his killing of thousands of babies negates all that good?  There are numerous passages in the Old Testament where God promotes the killing of children mercilessly in front of their parents and the raping women (Isaiah, chapter 13), or pregnant women’s bellies torn open (Hosea chapter 13)... It goes on and on.  If the Bible is true, God pretty much puts the body counts of Hitler, Stalin, Saddam Hussein, Vlad the Impaler, and pretty much any other atrocious human to shame.  He’s worse than all of them—if the Bible is true.  So, either He isn’t the all-loving, compassionate God most people imagine Him to be, or the Bible has flaws—which leads me to conclude that I either would never worship a being so awful, or I shouldn’t believe that the Bible is true.

(I will post part 2 immediately after this)

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By Priscilla M., August 30, 2006 at 1:37 pm Link to this comment
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I felt challenged by Paul’s call to respond to his statements that Jesus Christ is God and was there from the beginning; God created all things good; God started the process; evolution is NOT inconsistent with the existence of God; Jesus Christ will judge us; there is an after life that we can look forward to.

How do you know this?  You read a book - the Bible - which was written by flawed human beings - not Jesus; not God (albeit divinely inspired).  Add to that your faith and there you have it - that’s how you know what you know.  That might be all well and good, if it was self-contained - but it’s not.  The essence of fundamental Christianity, which you hinted at in the statement above, is that no one will go to Heaven if they do not accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.  That’s the ultimate judgement of fundamental Christianity and why extreme Christians believe they are right and everyone else is wrong.

As we see playing out in the Middle East, the rigidity of extremism of any kind does not create a socially acceptable framework in which to live.  At least scientists - faithless or faithful - are seeking identifiable ways in which to improve the quality of life for people.  I’m sorry, I just don’t believe faith alone will heal or feed me and the millions of needy people in the world.  I’m not an atheist and still I think it’s possible that this is all there is - this life on Earth - so shouldn’t we try our best to make it good?  The US in particular has a responsibility as a leading nation to put our reasoning toward making life more habitable on this Earth for all beings - not just Christian believers.

“Right and wrong” are very basic tenants of fundamental Christianity; there is no room for being on the fence.  That’s something fundamental Christianity has in common with science - there is a certainty to it.  However, let’s be discerning and realize Christians base their certainty on faith; scientists base theirs on fact.

I’m not concluding that you’re wrong to make the statements you did.  I am trying to make the point that the inflexibility of your statements lead down a road of socially unacceptable conditions in the here-and-now.  That hardly seems like “standing on your head and accusing the world of being upside down”, but I’ll wear that badge if you insist.

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By Stigmutha, August 30, 2006 at 12:15 pm Link to this comment
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I don’t have to put Rick Santorum down, he’s his own worst joke.  The fact that this joke of human being sways votes in this country is far from a joke.  The man is vile, pure and simple.  Anyone that would vote for Rick Santorum derserves to be compared to the mix of blood and semen that Rick Santorums name has come to stand for.

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By Gloria, August 30, 2006 at 9:54 am Link to this comment
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To P White
If you have success in the ministry why are you & mean & conceited? Did Jesus tell you to do it?
As for Harris & his credentials if you had read my posts you would know I do not turn to Harris nor Collins for knowledge.
Apparently liberals are not your target audience in the ministry. You are certain they do not believe in G-d therefore you can talk to them any insulting way you feel. They dirt beneath you Holy Feet. G-d forbid you should win flys with honey, keep up the vinegar.
I am glad I do not have to show your face to Jesus. I have my own face to show. You do it your way & I will do it mine.

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By Broiler, August 30, 2006 at 9:50 am Link to this comment
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“God created all things good.”

I was taught “God created all things.”
I must have been taught from a different
book of fables as I don’t recall “good”.

As much as it shook my world to admit it,
man created God and not the other way around.
If there is any creative force it is beyond human
understanding and perception. To call any portion
of the known universe good or evil is to describe
it only in terms of human experience. You could
also say “God created all things purple”. I know
this, God came to me in a dream to correct biblical
inaccuracies. I am a prophet.

Why did “God” stop talking to men? He/she/they/it never did.
It just took thousands of years before someone told the village
witch doctor/wise man/priest he was full of crap and to get a real job.

I have to disqualify my response Paul. You called out liberals and
I am a conservative. A conservative in my opinions and voting record.
I am not a Republican or Democrat. Just a conservative.

My bad.

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By paul white, August 30, 2006 at 8:11 am Link to this comment
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To Bizby (#20479), Gloria (#20434) and other liberal, non-believrs:

Bizby, not sure why it matters—would hope you had better things to do—but go ahead—check me out.  Brown ‘68 (May of 1968 as I recall). 2 years in US Army.  Master’s Degree:  URI ‘72.  Phi Kappa Phi, 6/72 URI chapter; Beta Gamma Sigma, 5/72, URI Chapter.  PS:  If you want to “get me,” I’ll be in Providence at the Brown/Yale game (Brown side)on Nov. 4th. Always look for a chance to defeat blue staters (Yale wears blue—get it?). I’ll be teaching an adult bible class this Sunday am as a visiting teacher at Valencia Presbyterian Church, for those that want to get me there—in case you don’t want to drive to Providence on Nov. 4—starting at 10 am (in the lounge)—topic:  “Hizbollah: WWJD?”

Liberals are amazing.  But the most important credential of all—adult bible class teacher—no one cares about. I teach at two churches.

Gloria (20434).  I am sorry you feel the way you do.  Out of curiosity, why didn’t you protest at the 12 lines of academic background attributed to Sam Harris?  I provided my background because the academic background of Sam Harris, the author offering the above heresy, seemed to be important—check it out yourself—click onto his picture.  Gloria, unlike Sam, I didn’t even bother to list my publications.  Gloria, I am not sure I got your point, other than you wanted to put me down (possibly because you resent my position that there is a God and He controls all things—including evolution).  If that is the case, why not just come out and say that, rather than wasting space putting me down?  I am not putting you down.  I suspect you are a very nice person.  We can disagree without putting each other down.  You say I couldn’t be a Christian.  I am sorry you feel that way, but I care only about what Jesus Christ feels.  He will be judging me.  You’ve already judged me.  As for my not being a humble and kind guy, you don’t know me.  I won’t bore you with a list of the ministries I volunteer with (that would only further confirm your perception).  Let me just say that the down-and-out people I allow to live on my property probably don’t feel that way, but you are entitled to your opinion.

What’s interesting to me is that there was not one idea, one thought, one discussion point made by the liberals responding to me.  It was nothing more than what liberals do best—when you can’t compete in the arena of ideas, merely insult the other side.  When I use these same tactics on liberals as a group (not as individuals), they freak out, as Gloria did.

Liberals, have at this:  Jesus Christ is God and was there from the beginning.  God created all things good.  God started the process.  Evolution is NOT inconsistent with the existence of God.  Jesus Christ will judge us.  There is an after life that we can look forward to. 

Liberals, what say you?  Can you address the above paragraph without putting me or George Bush or Rick Santorum down?  I say no, but I offer the challenge.  I fear that your responses will confirm the definition of a liberal:  standing on your head and accusing the world of being upside down.  Prove me wrong.

Paul White
In the Right

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By Broiler, August 29, 2006 at 3:32 pm Link to this comment
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In haste I forgot to list my academic credentials in the same
manner as the Pontiff, “Pope Paul I (as in Ay ay ay ay)” of
Brown University. I hear tell Brown is the new black!
(“Quote me as saying I was mis-quoted.” – Groucho Marx)

I hold seven degrees. That is seven degrees of separation between
myself and any Ivy League university. (“I don’t care to belong to a
club that accepts people like me as members.” – Groucho Marx)

I am a graduate of the Universitatis Hardus Knockus.
(“I worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty.”
– Groucho Marx)

I majored in astrophysics. Well, that may be a stretch.
Let’s just say that I “took up space”. I graduated Etta Beta Banana
and Tappa Kegga Beer. I also happen to teach an adult underwater
basket weaving class for wayward southpaws. I also happen to distrust history.
(“The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing.
If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” – Groucho Marx)


There now, you all thought I was an uneducated blowhard! Didn’t you?
(“Gentlemen, Chicolini here may look like an idiot, and talk like an idiot,
but don’t let that fool you. He really is an idiot.” – Groucho Marx)

Sorry Paul, I didn’t want to brag but you started it!
(“Of course you know this means war!” – Groucho Marx)
As you can see, I’m a bit of a Marxist!

“Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others..”
– Groucho Marx

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By morgan-lynn lamberth griggsy, August 29, 2006 at 2:47 pm Link to this comment
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Bizby, look all those theists with advanced degrees who supposedly know math like Behe and philosophers of religion who can use symbolic logic and abstruse language ,but don’t say anything of value.  Here I have shown some of their phony arguments . I redo what atheistic philosophers put out .  Of course , Collins cannot answer the problem of evil . If Heaven is so good , why all the horrid tests and why not Heaven on Earth ?Theists respond with more question begging .They just recycle their garbage into new cans, which we them empty .The teloligical argument and the odds argument and the anthropic argument just beg the question of a purpose when natural selection shows no purpose anyway. The first cause begs the question that there has to be a first cause . The notion of a god does not explain the why and the how . It says a god has a purpose in mind but that does not explain the why something   performs as it does. Science does attempt to explain the why and the how .God is just a sound!

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By Bizby, August 29, 2006 at 1:39 pm Link to this comment
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TO: Comment #20352 by paul white

Paul,

Just so we can check.  What year from Brown?  What institution for the advanced degree?  What chapters of Phi Kappa Phi and Beta Gamma Sigma. 

I’m sure you are on the up and up, but as Reagan said, trust, but verified.

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By Warren Greer, August 29, 2006 at 11:39 am Link to this comment
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For:  “Paul White, In the Right”
You neglected to mention, together with your other scholarly acheivments, the God-given talent you have for rhyming. 
In my senior year at the University of Texas, I was told, “If you send a fool to college, you get back an educated fool.”  Fearing that I had been exposed, and not wanting to push my luck any further, I left with no degree, abandoning my Economics major and Philosophy minor, taking with me only the atheism I had discovered flying in the U.S. Navy in WWII.  I am fortunate beyond most men.
Warren Greer
Not bereft,
Still on the Left.

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By R J Ells, August 29, 2006 at 7:58 am Link to this comment
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,,,,,The last evolutionary anthropologist from the U. of Pittsburgh I debated, in the end, notwithstanding his impressive dribble, could not explain who started the first molecule in motion.,,,,,,,

The debate must have ended when the clock ran out.  This left no time for the answer.  Or, did everyone leave the room on that note?  (with their hands and arms over their heads.) 

The point I am trying to make is that there is no answer to the question of whether or not god exist.  If god is everywhere, he is in the minds of some humans.  He must have been in the minds of the authors of the myths of religion.

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By Gloria, August 29, 2006 at 7:32 am Link to this comment
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To Paul White
You are hardly a humble & kind Christian. Paul only listed his credentials to illustrate what he was compared to what he is now. You sound boastful compared to Billy Graham, to Mother Theresa, to my lovely friend Jill who fought divorce, prejudice, poverty, & unemployment throught her Christian faith. Jill is beautiful,  self educated, has focus to live nicely, remarry, raise her son, & respect & love from all who know her. You are nothing like the Menonite nuns my mother & stayed with when we were camping in California when I was a little girl. You are nothing compared to my friends who translators for Wycliffe Bilble Translators. They have raised their three beautiful children in Africa. They would never give their credentials which are much more prestigious than yours yours as a claim to being a follower of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

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By paul white, August 28, 2006 at 3:38 pm Link to this comment
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Sam Harris, the author—a pathetic, insipid lost soul.  Pontificating as a word merchant in an academic wonderland.  A liberals being a liberal.  Furthering his agenda.

How dare I?  I’m entitled—I have an Ivy League degree (Brown U), an advanced degree (#1 in class if I do say so, myself), a university background, academic credentials (Phi Kappa Phi and Beta Gamma Sigma).  I am as qualified to reply as many I’ve read on this site.  I also happen to teach an adult bible class.  I also happen to study history. 

What this is all about is nothing more than agenda furthering.  This one just happens to be guised in the fabric of academia.

Most liberals put Bush or Hannity or Rush or Ann C. down.  But why stop there?  The old liberal playbook also talks about putting right wing Religious conservatives down.  Why not put God down?  Excuse me, I forgot—he doesn’t exist, so Sam is not putting him down. 

Oh, the lib agenda can be furthered by scietists and agenda authors like Sam Harris.  The last evolutionary anthropologist from the U. of Pittsburgh I debated, in the end, notwithstanding his impressive dribble, could not explain who started the first molecule in motion. 

The fact is that evolution and the existence of God are totally congruent with each other.

I feel badly that Sam Harris can never look forward to any fun upon his death.  For him, death leads to NOTHINGNESS—just like his writing.  That’s why he and his writing are so downbeat.  May I suggest a little (NO A LOT) of Jesus Christ, Mr. S?

Paul White
In the Right

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By morgan-lynn lamberth griggsy, August 28, 2006 at 3:03 pm Link to this comment
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Bizby ,good idea to merge the two . Sahakian says that to ask who made god is to make the fallacy of loaded questions [different names for the fallacy] ,but the poor fellow himself is begging the question and special pleading in assuming his god has the attribute of not needing a cause itself and so is different from the cosmos .I t is special pleading ,for he allowS this god to be eternal ,but not the universe in some form or other. [Austin Cline @at about atheism came up with the special pleading commnet and on my other comment earlier Malcolm Diamond in his book on philosphy of religion came up with the begging the question about the two category argument in his formulation to which I added .] And the Big Bang is no ultimate beginning of the universe,just the next phase.

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By Bizby, August 28, 2006 at 12:28 pm Link to this comment
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Reply to:

Comment #20253 by David on 8/27 at 10:29 pm

David:

Your post certainly set me to thinking, and that is a good thing.  But several things strike me as logical problems.

First, while I quite agree that cause and effect relationships permeate science, and that it certainly seems that the big bang (assuming the theory is correct for the sake of argument) must have been caused.  Yet I am still stuck with the unanswerable question, what caused the causer?  That is logic and reason as I know it.  And there is no answer—unless you have one, I’m all ears.  So, (IMO as you say), I don’t assume a God, only that the human brain if far too limited an instrument with which to test—or at least to know—ultimate truths.

Second, I find it highly doubtful that 1/2 of the scientists in Los Alamos do not believe in species to species evolution (in light of Project Steve), and my doubts remain notwithstanding the fact that the scientists in Los Alamos are not Anthropologists and Biologists, the scientist whose work brings them into contact with the evidence of evolution. 

Still, assuming that your number is right, do all of these scientists (and you) propose that every new species of horse, to take an example from the fossil record that is well-documented, was God deciding that the last version of the horse he made was a little to small, a few too many toes, etc.  Are you saying that God is the Detroit of animal species—one morning he wakes up and decides its time to make a new model of the mustang?  I may sound a bit sarcastic here, but I just cannot think of any other explanation for the fossil record given a disbelief that new species evolve.

And an aside, have you ever read about ring species?

Third, the idea that it would take more than 14 billion years for evolution to have occurred (I’ve seen this argument offered by the Discovery Institute) makes no sense to me because we have no way of knowing exactly how quickly evolutionary changes like that can occur.  Probability theory is by no means an exact science (you would agree?) and when the time periods being addressed are geologic, Every probability problem I’ve encountered began with “let’s assume X.”  Seems far more likely to me that the assumptions incorporated into the probablity equation are wrong and that the mountains of scientific evidence indicating species to species evolution are right.

The idea that it simply could not happen reminds me of all of the people who told me (while the trial was going on) that there was no way O.J. could have killed those people, the evidence just doesn’t add up.  Or of all of the pre-twentieth century experts who said that there is no way humans could ever fly. 

So, you are right, I have no evidence that God—this entity who is totally invisible to my senses, and whose existence cannot be proved in any scientific way (I’ve asked god to help me win the lottery, never happens.  I’ve asked believers who say they talk to God and that God knows all to have God tell them how many fingers I am holding up behind my back.  He never tells them.) does not exist.  But I don’t find that compelling because by the same token, I have no proof that the atheists’ invisible pink unicorn does not exist.   

Finally, now it is time for you to have an open mind.  I feel that I am untimately responsible to me (kudos to you, by the way, for using “whom” correctly in your post—one almost never sees that anymore).  I believe in Jesus’ teachings without the need to believe in Jesus’ divinity.  And there are millions like me.  Think about that for a while.

P.S.  To morgan-lynn.  Have you noticed that there are two different threads on the Truthdig site for Harris’ review—one if you proceed to the bottom of the article and one if you click on “comments.”  Maybe the moderator who reads this to make sure I wasn’t too abusive can merge the two, or at least explain why there are two different threads.

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By morgan-lynn lamberth griggsy, August 28, 2006 at 11:54 am Link to this comment
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No, we do not deny a god ,because it would require us to be more moral .I have given enough reasons, not faith, to show how the god notion is redundant .We are more moral than Jehovah! To say follow the morality of the Bible is to say follow the morality of bigoted ignoramuses. Has one ever read that execrable book in context?In context? This Yeshu fellow said love your enemy, but did not forbid slavery . He preached hell-fire and damnation . He had no more credibility than Jim Jones!  Answer my philosophical points rather than argue that theistic shallow thinking! I have discredited the cosmological and teleoligical arguements with standard notions . Do we find theists arguments ludicrous ? Certainly!

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By Broiler, August 28, 2006 at 11:48 am Link to this comment
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“I just read a couple dozen comments, and all I see
is mockery and smug attitudes. “

Well David, it seems you’ve found a home.

“Keep an open mind, don’t jump to conclusions, and search
for evidence to either disprove or prove God exists…because
it has very real implications for how you live your life and to
whom you are ultimately responsible (which, IMO, is the real issue here).”

I’ve stopped searching for evidence in a multi-authored, bastardized,
partial history of the ancient world. Maybe you’ve researched the
original Hebrew texts but how are you on Sumerian translation?
Who did the Sumerians borrow their fables from?

While we’re on the Sumerians, perhaps you have some insight as
to why God allowed En-Men-Lu-Ana of Bad-Tibira to reign for
43,200 years (12 sars) while Damiq-ilicu of Isin was granted a mere
23 years? My thinking is that the historical facts were distorted by
mythmakers but maybe there’s a more plausible answer.

The truth is there is NO physical evidence of any creator. NO evidence
of any biblical miracles. The historical records and scriptures of all
religions confirm nothing more than the “telephone” game has been
popular from the very birth of language.

So where exactly would I “search for evidence” and more importantly
why would I? Which mythical god should I search for? The chance of
my finding and understanding a creative force behind life and the universe
is remote with my estimated lifespan. Now if I could count on having 9 or
10 sars to spare, I might consider it.

I live my life “ultimately responsible” to my family, friends and mankind.
These were the same people I lived “ultimately responsible” to when I
“believed in God”.

Peace be with you! (Some habits are hard to break.)

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By Ed W., August 28, 2006 at 10:48 am Link to this comment
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wow, lets see…

david writes:
The evidence for the big bang is overwhelming - what or who caused the big bang? Don’t pretend to be scientific while refusing to look at the scientific facts ... instead, many of you are placing your faith in the impossible and believing that somehow someway everything just “happened.”


first off, NOBODY knows now.  its just speculation according to evidence presently available.  where is the scientific evidence that an omnipotent, omniscient, omni-benevolent invisible being started the big bang?  thats outright absurd.  besides, we all know that if god created the universe, we have to ask who created god. 

there is no reasons to suppose that because we dont yet have an sufficient explanation for the beginning of the universe that it must be god. 

david writes:
For example, if evolution occurred without God’s direction, it would have required an exponentially greater amount of time than the 14 billion years we know the universe has existed (measured by background radiation, star light waves, distance between stars shape of the universe, galaxy expansion rates, etc.).

 

first off, i am pretty sure you just made that all up.  evolution does not need more than 14 billions years?  the flu virus evolves each year… what are you talking about?  evolution itself is not even contested within the realm of science - natural selection is what is debated.  evolution is pretty much fact.


david writes:
Either you have to admit God directed evolution or evolution didn’t happen. Those are the only two feasible options . . . and both require the existence of God.


this is a logical fallacy if i ever saw one.  so there are two options here, either we came to be through evolution guided by god, or we didnt evolve at all.  that makes plenty of sense.  how about a possible third option you forgot to consider: god doesnt exist, and we evolved through a natural process.


david writes:
It’s interesting that the majority of scientists are not atheists, but atheists like to say they’re atheists because of science.


and again, i dont know where you get your data for this.  all i can say though is that its no coincidence that the more educated people become the less likely they are to be religious.

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By Brian Savin, August 28, 2006 at 8:40 am Link to this comment
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Harris’s diatribe, which I have stumbled on while in search of intelligent comments on Collin’s book, is certainly more strident than sound.  The point of Collin’s book is his contention that science and religion are not mutually exclusive.  Harris at bottom ignores the point—in every substantive aspect—and thereby adds nothing useful to this inquiry.  What is useful, I submit, if one wants to disagree with Collins, is to further explore the nature of altruism on the one hand, and the nature of what we all feel as a sense of right and wrong on the other. These are critical points to Collins’ construct and worthy inquiries of themselves. Collins raises valid points in contending that the logic of these things is not yet explained by our knowledge of the gnome, etc. Perhaps a modern day Descarte, and a thoughtful scientist, would be useful in this discussion.  Harris’ invective is a waste of time except to serve as an example of an extreme that Collins rightfully seeks this discussion to transcend.

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By David, August 27, 2006 at 10:29 pm Link to this comment
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I think it almost bordering on hilarious how the supposedly “objective” and “rational” atheists and anti-christians on here refrain from using rational arguments almost to a fault. I just read a couple dozen comments, and all I see is mockery and smug attitudes. The review article was no different. If you can’t argue based on logic and the facts of nature, it tells me you probably don’t have anything to back up your beliefs (other than a hatred of God, which is IMO what it really boils down to).

Sure, there are Christians who insist the earth is 6,000 years old. Absurd in my mind, and it’s all because they interpret the Hebrew word for day (Yom) as a literal 24 hour time period, when in reality the word is used in 58 different ways in the old testament, including meanings indicative of long time periods (same goes with the words for “morning” and “evening”).

HOWEVER…

If you want to talk rationality, look at mathematics and statistics and micro-biology and try to claim with a straight face that the universe has no cause. Cause and effect - it’s an established priniciple. One cannot get around it. Don’t talk “science” and then deny its basic principle. The evidence for the big bang is overwhelming - what or who caused the big bang? Don’t pretend to be scientific while refusing to look at the scientific facts ... instead, many of you are placing your faith in the impossible and believing that somehow someway everything just “happened.”

“Faith comes from fear,” and your fear is that if God exists, He is moral in nature, and actually expects something of you or demands respect and obedience. And many people are uncomfortable with that idea, which is why some of you have an apparent disregard for logic and common sense. Romans says “And their foolish hearts were darkened…proclaiming themselves to be wise, they became fools.”

For example, if evolution occurred without God’s direction, it would have required an exponentially greater amount of time than the 14 billion years we know the universe has existed (measured by background radiation, star light waves, distance between stars shape of the universe, galaxy expansion rates, etc.). Either you have to admit God directed evolution or evolution didn’t happen. Those are the only two feasible options . . . and both require the existence of God.

It’s interesting that the majority of scientists are not atheists, but atheists like to say they’re atheists because of science.

Side note: Over half the scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratories (some of the most brilliant minds in the country) do not even believe in evolution (the change from species to species variant). Natural selection and adaptation yes, but they realize that it simply could not happen. My good friend Dan Brooks works there (look it up, he also is a researcher at ASU). Anyone with a knowledge of statistical probabilities will be able to understand their beliefs.

...however, I know most the people on here are of the same viewpoint, and it IS fun to indiscriminately bash the other side without actually arguing or thinking about the issues. Most of the brilliant scientific minds throughout the centuries have been anything but atheistic, so it’s probably a good idea to take a cue from the people who know and understand nature best if they believe in God. I believe it’s overwhelmingly obvious from every standpoint, but if anyone has evidence that there is no God, I’m more than happy to listen. I keep an open mind, as I think life is a search for truth, not just a forum to argue your own viewpoint…

...and there should be more of that. Keep an open mind, don’t jump to conclusions, and search for evidence to either disprove or prove God exists…because it has very real implications for how you live your life and to whom you are ultimately responsible (which, IMO, is the real issue here). Peace,

David

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By CJ, August 27, 2006 at 7:59 pm Link to this comment
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Haven’t quite been able to read all 200+ comments, but here’s two cents: Pascal might have confined his gambling habit to a back-alley Craps game, since even did God exist I suspect he’d have zero regard for hedge funds either. (Recall Einstein mentioning that God doesn’t gamble, and THAT from a believer.) There is an as-yet undiscovered planet I call Heaven circling Alpha Centauri, to which, upon my demise, I will be delivered. I defy anyone to prove otherwise. Virgins reside thereupon (for ladies as well, since Heaven is not sexist), and I look forward to eternity, as one can imagine. Because I have imagined, then declared what I’ve just written, it is ipso facto a truth, one I defy any to disprove. Look, David Hume, et al., debunked every rationalist argument for the Grand Master, including the argument from design. Kant followed up with a reasonable offer, the Categorical Imperatives. So far, so good, as a matter of ethical obligations, but he was forced to drag the Old Man back into the equation. It should be noted that poor Kant was under some considerable political pressure to toe the clerical-elitist line, pending who knows what harm to his person. Later, “religious experience” was dreamed of again—now in connection with Romanticism and by the likes of Schleiermacher, his follower Otto, then James and others. Non-starters all.  Finally, God was reduced to the Word. Just so, Word indeed. (See Lacan on the “Name of the Father.”) Name, word, etc. Handy one it’s been too. (And sad, sad Dostoevsky! Got to love him, but he worried SOO much.)

See, it’s not incumbent on atheists to prove anything at all. That burden belongs to believers, just as it belongs to me to prove Heaven is circling Alpha Centauri, complete with virgins. If Sam Harris is at pains to discredit, he is so because the burden—the responsibility—has been laid off by believers who can’t be bothered to provide more than declarative statements presented as matters of fact, though they are plenty (politically agenda-wise) bothered to force ideologies down the throats of those who can’t buy in, and to do so by ANY means. That’s called hypocrisy, and hypocrisy does extreme damage—to individual body and to social and political bodies. So, in a process of refusing responsibility for their contention, believers not only leave it to nonbelievers to prove the negative, but then gloat when it can’t be done. Some damn chutzpah! Okay, prove it. Prove Heaven ain’t circlin’ Alpha Centauri. “Can’t do it,” to paraphrase pops Bush. Otherwise, stow the dogma, and give more thought to social injustice. If you’re bound for Heaven, congrats, but who really cares if during the here and now, ya lie, chisel and kill, or only abide such activity? Read Kant again on the humanist moral imperative. Hell, read Nietzsche and Sartre. Be Master—of this world, not slave—to an imagined Master. Responsibility for here and now belongs to each and every man and woman, not least in charge of children. It’s not to be dodged, or delayed, by ANY means. We can’t wait for God, who even if he’s hangin’ out, is far outta the loop. Hey, Jesus, Mohammad and Moses weren’t bad guys, not at all, but they’re long dead. And let’s face it, Buddha was the wisest, in making no promises and leaving the decisions to humankind.

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By Broiler, August 26, 2006 at 6:21 pm Link to this comment
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R.A.,

You missed my point. I’m not talking about dealing
with religion on a one to one basis. How do you get
the media to invest as much in debunking the myths
as it does promoting them?

This is not simply a mental exercise. This is perhaps a way
of saving civilized society, the planet and life. Religion is leading
us toward a man made apocalypse. Is there still time to pull the plug?
Is anyone in a hurry to meet god if you prove nobody’s home?
I believe the truth would be accepted by a majority of people
if it were as accessible as the myths.

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By morgan lamberth, August 26, 2006 at 10:39 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Broiler and EA Earl, I too only on the web challenge the superstition of religion . Faith is the I just say so of gullibility. Existence is the First Cause and Ultimate Explanation and Greatest Being and natural selection causes the changes in life forms .Thus , we dispense with the silly arguments that are the cosmological, ontological and teleoligical. I this concur with Quentin Smith. See his essays at Talk Reason!

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