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Baron von Bone
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« on: Oct 11, 2011, 06:50AM »

Several times I've found something that fits under Atheism: Good or Bad but that isn't political. This blog entry from the Internet Infidels/Secular Web website is a perfect example. It's a good start for such a topic, but it really deserves an appropriate home, and Purely Politics definitely ain't it. It's an intimate and profoundly sincere glimpse into one standard issue atheist's thoughts and sensibilities. So, here it is:
 
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On 9/11, Atheism, Buttons, and Bowling for Jesus

Lisa Hickey

We have an amazing series stories on 9/11 on The Good Men Project. I wasn't going to write, because I thought so many other people did it better—the dozen others who all had a story that touched me, that changed me, that helped me see the extraordinary complexity around what happened that day. Surely whatever I had to say couldn't compete with those stories.

But then, long time Good Men Project contributor Roger Durham asked me for help.

Knowing that I am an atheist, he emailed me this note:

    I have something I need you to help me with. If you have been watching the memorials of 9/11 today, help me to understand how an atheist views these overtly religious observances? Do they have meaning for you? Do they bore you? Do they frustrate you? And how does an atheist mark moments of grief and memory? How does an atheist honor the dead? I am seriously curious about that, Lisa.
    — Sincerely, Roger

And I realized this is the story I had to tell.


Like most people, in the days following September 11, 2001, I struggled to make sense of it. The night it happened, I watched the videos of the planes flying into the towers over and over and over again. I couldn't get enough of it. It was as if, for the first 20, 40, 50 times, my eyes still couldn't comprehend what they were seeing. I needed to watch it enough times to get over the shock, to make it real.

Afterwards, I read. I was inextricably drawn to every written word I could find on the subject. I was especially drawn to the stories that showed maps of the buildings. Who survived and who didn't. How they got out, helped others, died trying. And all the stories of the "jumpers"—the more than two hundred people who consciously chose the moment at which they would die.

The most haunting story—the one that stuck with me—was from a journalist who described a few people who had taken tablecloths and tried to use them as parachutes. This journalist described seeing a man who jumped, caught the wind just right, and remained aloft for about two seconds, "before the force generated by his fall ripped the drapes, the tablecloths, the desperately gathered fabric, from his hands."

And it was the moment that I read that sentence that I stopped believing in God.


I was raised a Catholic. Baptism, communion, confirmation, church every Sunday. I stopped going to church when I left home for college. I became a nonpracticing Catholic, then a self-proclaimed "sort of a Christian." And later, Agnostic fit me well—I simply didn't know. Never did I feel a happiness over having a religion, nor a void at not having a religion to call my own. It wasn't something I particularly cared about one way or another.


But on Sept. 11, 2001, I cared. That moment I read that sentence I made a conscious choice, driven by the image of the man trying to parachute with a tablecloth. Surely those people had prayed to a God—any God—in their final moments. And for the guy that had floated far above Manhattan with a tablecloth in his hands—for two full seconds he thought his prayer had been answered.

Not only could I not reconcile any sort of God with one who could allow that to happen, what changed my mind was this: I no longer wanted to.


God aside, there are things about organized religion that I think are valuable. A moral upbringing is important. A group of people you can discuss ethics with. Rituals around birth and marriage and death. A sense of community.

And—my favorite church ritual of all times—the moment I would look forward to in great anticipation whenever I went to church—the moment when the priest said "May we offer each other a sign of peace."

That was something I could believe in.


When I was in recovery, I was told to "believe in a higher power." At that time, my belief in a God was nil. At one point, I was in a meeting, semi-circle of filled folding chairs, barely listening to others, because I'm puzzling over whether there is any power greater than myself I could possibly believe in. It is my turn to speak. I tell the story of how in college, when I was drinking all the time, I used to walk around campus holding my coat closed. This was in upstate NY, where the winters were fierce and the blizzards were frequent. And yet, I simply wouldn't button my coat, despite the fact that people would see me and yell out to me, "Lisa, button your coat!" And so, I told the group, the only insight I could offer them was this. Not only did I not believe in a higher power of the traditional sort; but, for most of my life, I didn't even believe in the higher power of buttons.


I would never, ever, think to judge someone else's religious beliefs. I would no more judge someone for their religion than I would judge them for enjoying bowling as a sport. That's exactly the way I feel when someone asks me to partake in their religious ceremonies—as if they had asked me to go bowling. The truth is —I would do either one of those things—with joy, with zeal even—if I loved the person or people I was with. I would embrace the ceremony, sing the hymn, jump up and down at the last minute strike as the bowling ball hits the tenpins. And yes, if I was not in either of those places voluntarily, if I was not with a person or a community I loved, I would be bored. And you can tell me, well then, "God is Love" but I won't believe you. Love is Love. The difference is, love is of the moment, it is an experience in the present time, it is an action taken where you get outside yourself to do something for someone else. And that "feeling" that you get when you step outside yourself to do something that truly connects you to someone else—yeah, that sure feels spiritual. I get that. But that is not the same as believing in God.


When I die, I already have it in my mind that I am going to have someone publish a blog post, after my death, titled "I'm dead and it's OK." Not that I want to die—wow, no, never. Or at least not until I'm 120 years old, which is how long I tell my kids I'd like to live to be. But the fact is, I have very little control over when that moment of death will happen. And the only way that I can ensure my death will be "OK" is to ensure that my life is filled with as much meaning as possible. When your days are filled with only that sole purpose—when you love life in all it's complexities, good and bad, all the people and connections that go with it—that is peace. That is joy. And that is happiness. And life itself is your religion.


The week after I told my button story, I went back to that same recovery group. I still didn't have a higher power. I was quiet. I let others talk. At the end of the meeting, one girl walked over to me and handed me a button.

Here's the thing. At that point in my life, getting sober was a matter of life or death for me. A complete stranger understood that. And so, she gave me something that symbolically said, "I care whether you live or die."

That is what I had always hoped a God would do—care whether I lived or died.


When the guy with the tablecloth in his hands was aloft for two seconds, thinking to himself, "maybe, just maybe this will work"—there's no God that I know of who cared whether he lived or died. But someone on the ground most certainly did. And the fact that someone cared is what gave his life meaning.

For the 2,919 people who died on September 11, 2001, their life had meaning. The religious ceremonies are but one expression of that, and so, for that reason—even as an atheist—those ceremonies bring me great joy.

And it's why the stories we tell are so important. So that the meaning that is shared by the people that we love will continue to live on forever. And that's all the spirituality I can wish for.

Interested in publishing on the Secular Web? See the Submission Guidelines & Instructions.

Disclaimer: Kiosk articles represent the viewpoint of their authors and should not be taken as necessarily representative of the viewpoint of Internet Infidels and/or the Secular Web. Full disclaimer here.

Copyright 2011, Lisa Hickey and Internet Infidels, Inc. Copyright info here.

Published: 9/23/2011
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Baron von Bone
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« Reply #1 on: Oct 11, 2011, 09:31AM »

Clarification and illumination of some very popular mental and conceptual/perceptual errors regarding "militant" atheists and fundamentalism and such:
 
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How not to be a dogmatic fundamentalist

It's not how strong our views are, or how vigorously we defend them, but how open we are to others changing our mind
 
    Julian Baggini
    guardian.co.uk, Friday 7 October 2011 08.12 EDT
 

'There is no automatic virtue in softly advocating accommodating beliefs, nor any vice in strongly
advocating clear, divisive opinions.' Photograph: Eliana Aponte/Reuters
 
If there's one thing guaranteed to irritate a new atheist it's the accusation of being "militant" or "aggressive". Unfortunately, it's an irritant that they can't avoid. To pluck out just a few examples, Booker prizewinning writer Howard Jacobson has attacked "the new aggressive form of popular atheism" saying it "lacks imagination and, worse still, it lacks curiosity." Pope Benedict used his recent trip to Britain to condemn "atheist extremism" and "aggressive secularism". Even atheists are in on the game: philosopher of biology Michael Ruse has regularly criticised "atheistic fundamentalists" for their "nastiness" and "near mystical veneration of the leaders". Heck, I've even described some atheists as "militant" myself.

I have some sympathy with the atheists who complain of a double standard when it comes to how robust people are entitled to be in defence of their beliefs. Who's the real aggressor, they rightly ask, secularists who compare belief in God to fairies or a pope who compares secularists with Nazis? Why, asks British Humanist Association chief executive Andrew Copson, does the BBC use the inflammatory term "militant atheists" to describe non-believers who campaign for state neutrality in matters of religion when they "do not use such an adjective to describe mainstream religious people who express their opinions publicly"?

Given that the key issue here is about people's tendency to harden into their fixed positions and demonise opponents, it is ironic that this debate itself tends to descend into a squabble over who are the real fundamentalists, with each camp defending its own and pointing the finger back at the other side.

What's needed to clear this issue up is to think through where the boundary lies between legitimate strong belief and dogmatic fundamentalism. There clearly is such a boundary, but by talking as if there were none, religious ultra-liberals and agnostics (the "fluffy brigade" as I affectionately call them) manage to make it look as though the only reasonable position to take in this debate is one where the sole passionate commitment is to a lack of passionate commitment.

I'll be saying more about why this is wrong next week, but for present purposes, what matters is that this analysis fails to distinguish properly between the kinds of beliefs we have and the manner in which we hold them. Take beliefs first, which can be more or less comprehensive and precise. Someone could believe that the world was created in six days 6,014 years, 331 days and 2 hours ago, and someone else that it was created at some point in the past, in some way, by some sort of God. For the sake of shorthand, call them strong and weak creationists. Nothing about their beliefs, however, tells you how strongly they believe them. We tend to assume that strong creationists are absolutely certain, and as a matter of fact, we'd probably usually be right. But this needn't always be so. The strong creationist may not be totally convinced, while the weak creationist might be more certain of her vaguer position.

There is also an independent third factor here: the extent to which we are open to revision of belief. A person could be an utterly convinced strong creationist, but still be completely open to counter-arguments and the possibility of being wrong. A tentative weak creationist might be much less willing to consider alternatives, perhaps out of fear that changing her mind would be too uncomfortable. This is the danger of joining the fluffy brigade: you become so keen not to become like those science-drunk atheists or young Earthers that even though you sound and feel not at all fanatical about what you believe, there's no way you're going to stop believing it.

So there are three factors at work with how we believe: the clarity and comprehensiveness of the belief; the conviction we currently have of its truth, and our willingness to contemplate its potential falsity. And it's the third factor that is most important when it comes to identifying what constitutes militant or aggressive belief. People are often accused of being aggressive if they criticise opponents directly and strongly. But it seems to me there is no virtue in itself in being either intellectually pugnacious or accommodating. What matters is not how strong and clear own our views are, nor how vigorously we defend them, but how much we really engage with our critics. It's about taking seriously the best case for the opponent being right and the strongest case that you might be wrong. What is really objectionable is not conviction and clarity, but the abuse, mockery and refusal to acknowledge any weakness that signals a lack of openness to the possibility of being wrong, and sadly, this is all too common.

That's why the fluffy brigade can be as guilty as engaging in pointless argument as their supposedly more aggressive peers. It may appear respectful and polite not to challenge your opponent at all, but in reality, all that means is a refusal to engage with the deep differences between you. As Frank Furedi puts it in his latest book, "instead of serving as a way of responding to differences in views, tolerance has become a way of not taking them seriously."

So before we even get into the matter of what we should be thinking in these interminable God wars, we have to do better at how we are thinking about them. We need to get beyond a false set of assumptions that divide people up into the dogmatic and the reasonable, the nasty and the nice. There is no automatic virtue in softly advocating accommodating beliefs, nor any vice in strongly advocating clear, divisive opinions. What really matters is that whatever we believe, however strongly we believe it, we genuinely engage. It's because that happens so rarely that the God wars have become so stale, and we desperately need to freshen them up.

• Apologies, by the way, for not responding to the comments in the thread last week. I had a busy week travelling and by the time I could sit down and read through, comments were closed! I have since read them, will read future ones, and will aim to respond as often as I can.
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« Reply #2 on: Oct 11, 2011, 09:55AM »

I find it interesting that the Evangelicals reserve much venom for Unitarians as well as Atheists.  Lately we have also seen them starting to show animus to Muslims.

This is a country dedicated to the freedom to worship whatever God you choose in whatever method you choose (within limits: human sacrifice has been outlawed, as has polygamy).

So if a bunch of Wiccans want to celebrate the summer solstice in an apple orchard, how is this different from a bunch of Protestants celebrating Easter morning in the same orchard?

I know a few atheists, and much like gays they aren't interested in forcing you to believe their ideas (although they will argue about how blind religion is "silly").  Maybe those who have swallowed the Religious Kool-Aid are insecure enough that they consider this belligerence.  If they were totally secure in their faith they would treat the atheists as any other oddball with a different belief system.  How different is it that Jesus healed the sick or that the earth is carried on the back of a giant turtle?  There are people who believe in either.

And how different is having an Atheist Pride parade than carrying a large statue of the Madonna down the streets of Boston's North End?
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Baron von Bone
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« Reply #3 on: Oct 11, 2011, 10:20AM »

I know a few atheists, and much like gays they aren't interested in forcing you to believe their ideas (although they will argue about how blind religion is "silly").  Maybe those who have swallowed the Religious Kool-Aid are insecure enough that they consider this belligerence.

I'd say the fact that until very recently it's been exceedingly rare to hear anything at all about atheism (much less from actual, genyouwine atheists and secularists) is also a huge factor, for at least a couple of very clear reasons. First it's just the shock of hearing a ubiquitous cultural "truth"/ethos flat out questioned and challenged (the Disparaging Motherhood Effect), and second, the slap in the face to the We're Bein' Oppressed! delusion, so popular and highly valued and loving nurtured and nursed in fundagelical circles, that this shock represents. That slap in the face is about the shock of actually hearing or seeing an actual atheist/secularist actually offering an actual atheist/secular point of view rather than the internal straw man rhetoric, the fact that there's usually little resemblance between the two (most often "little" as in none), and the fact that if some very key aspects of the We're Bein' Oppressed! delusion were even close to resembling reality it would actually just be expected/old hat rather than shocking. So, the psyche has to pin it on a non-delusion-threatening reason ... so it's obviously because the atheist/secularist is being highly offensive ... uh ... by presuming to express his or her viewpoint openly and without great shame and trepidation. No, that won't do ... it's that the atheist/secularist is being strident and militant and just a big meanie ... and not allowing us to believe what we want to believe. See!? We're bein' oppressed!
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« Reply #4 on: Oct 11, 2011, 10:26AM »

Several times I've found something that fits under Atheism: Good or Bad but that isn't political. This blog entry from the Internet Infidels/Secular Web website is a perfect example. It's a good start for such a topic, but it really deserves an appropriate home, and Purely Politics definitely ain't it. It's an intimate and profoundly sincere glimpse into one standard issue atheist's thoughts and sensibilities. So, here it is:
 

The story by Lisa is powerful - what a great perspective.

Thanks for sharing it.

Clearly not political - just personal.

If only all Religion were personal....but alas.....
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« Reply #5 on: Oct 11, 2011, 01:56PM »

I would argue that a true Atheist would kill him/herself. If there is nothing to live for, than why live. Many Atheists are Secular Humanists who either don't know it or won't admit it.
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« Reply #6 on: Oct 11, 2011, 02:02PM »

I would argue that a true Atheist would kill him/herself. If there is nothing to live for, than why live. Many Atheists are Secular Humanists who either don't know it or won't admit it.

I find this an interesting perspective.  Atheists don't believe in a hereafter, but they do believe in a legacy and they believe in doing all they can while here.  What's not to like?  Why would this make them suicidal?  Or would a Believer go suicidal if it were proved that there were no God?
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« Reply #7 on: Oct 11, 2011, 02:10PM »

I would argue that a true Atheist would kill him/herself. If there is nothing to live for, than why live. Many Atheists are Secular Humanists who either don't know it or won't admit it.

On the contrary, Atheists have everything to live for.  I would argue that if you know that this life is all you get, making the most of it becomes easier and more imperative.
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« Reply #8 on: Oct 11, 2011, 02:17PM »

This life is all Christians get as well. We can't impact this world for the Cause of Christ in Heaven.

What is the legacy they are living to leave?

What's not to like? 

Any time you put a person on a pedestal you will be disappointed, because people are imperfect.

Your next point is irrelevant because it is impossible to prove that there is no God.  
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« Reply #9 on: Oct 11, 2011, 02:23PM »

...

Your next point is irrelevant because it is impossible to prove that there is no God.  

Quite frankly, it's just as impossible to prove that there is.

Quote from: Nietzche
God is dead

Quote from: God
So is Nietzche
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« Reply #10 on: Oct 13, 2011, 03:43PM »

Your next point is irrelevant because it is impossible to prove that there is no God.

It's also impossible to prove there isn't a tiny spaceship in orbit around Neptune that looks precisely like a football.
 
No one really thinks that's a valid argument in defense of the god hypothesis (and "hypothesis" is putting it rather kindly), because if they did they'd have to think it reasonable to believe anything else that can't be disproven, to include, for starters, bigfoot, John Edwards' psychic powers, dragons, alien abduction, pyramid power, reincarnation, chupacabra, Atlantis, ancient sea monsters ... etc, etc.
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« Reply #11 on: Oct 13, 2011, 03:51PM »

I would argue that a true Atheist would kill him/herself. If there is nothing to live for, than why live. Many Atheists are Secular Humanists who either don't know it or won't admit it.

Because we always especially cherish that which we have in total abundance, and devaluate that which we have in very limited supply (and in this case it's a set of one that is all we know and have and are).
 
I don't think anyone really believes that argument either, even though it seems strangely popular among religious apologists, though there are a lot of examples of things like this that more hard core fundagelical type religious apologists get precisely reversed. I think these kinds of inversions and obvious, egregious errors (or defensive "beliefs") are good demonstrations of how religious faith corrupts thinking (as does any other bias one embraces as a virtue, much less the highest as in religion ... at least in Western religion).
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« Reply #12 on: Oct 13, 2011, 03:51PM »

This life is all Christians get as well.

So you don't believe in eternal life ... ?
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« Reply #13 on: Oct 13, 2011, 03:57PM »

i, too, enjoyed Lisa's story very much.  

what is there to live for if there is no god?  everything.  the absence of god does not also mean the absence of love.  

DG
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« Reply #14 on: Oct 13, 2011, 05:21PM »

I would argue that a true Atheist would kill him/herself. If there is nothing to live for, than why live. Many Atheists are Secular Humanists who either don't know it or won't admit it.
What ??????

That makes no sense.  Atheists love life.  Atheists love people.  Atheists look forward to every day because we know that we have a limited time to make our mark.  It is the people who believe in an Eternal Disneyworld who have no urgency in their lives.

And if that Eternal Disneyworld were all that, why don't the true believers kill themselves to get there sooner?
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« Reply #15 on: Oct 13, 2011, 06:01PM »

What ??????

That makes no sense.  Atheists love life.  Atheists love people.  Atheists look forward to every day because we know that we have a limited time to make our mark.  It is the people who believe in an Eternal Disneyworld who have no urgency in their lives.

And if that Eternal Disneyworld were all that, why don't the true believers kill themselves to get there sooner?


actikid,

this is a general comment...not only directed to you...but, i think the discussions fare better when we explain our beliefs rather than attempting to engage in false comparisons.  this is especially important on topics as passionate as this one.  we benefit when we understand those with whom we may disagree. 

we can assume that this topic is unlikely to convert someone from their committed belief system to one that's contrary.  therefore, the greatest benefit is that we share and explain our views clearly.  comparisons just muddy the waters. 

the bottom line is that we all LOVE.  rob didn't understand something about the atheist's point of view and you explained it....love.  understood.



DG
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« Reply #16 on: Oct 13, 2011, 06:17PM »

That makes no sense.  Atheists love life.  Atheists love people.  Atheists look forward to every day because we know that we have a limited time to make our mark.

Well, atheists don't believe any gods exist, but speaking generally atheists live, breathe, wash their socks, brush their teeth, eat junk food, drive Toyotas and Fords, go to college, have kids, watch movies and TV ... etc. But atheists have no common beliefs or attitudes or behaviors other than the absence of belief that any gods exist, which generally means the gonads to go against the grain in a very unpopular way--i.e. a significant degree of integrity.
 
But I get the general sentiment. I suspect it's largely lost to many though, buried under the weight of rather heavy hyperbole.
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« Reply #17 on: Oct 13, 2011, 06:22PM »

i, too, enjoyed Lisa's story very much.

It made the same point actikid was making, but in a very different way. I thought it was pretty powerful.
 
 
what is there to live for if there is no god?  everything.

In a very literal sense, in fact.
 
When you get one shot at doing something you tend to want to make it count. When it's something you'll do often and for a very long time, you don't tend to put a lot of value on any given instance. This is basic economics. We value what's rare and what's abundant is cheap. The fact many people somehow get that precisely reversed for this special case is telling, I think.
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« Reply #18 on: Oct 13, 2011, 07:19PM »

this is a general comment...not only directed to you...but, i think the discussions fare better when we explain our beliefs rather than attempting to engage in false comparisons.  this is especially important on topics as passionate as this one.  we benefit when we understand those with whom we may disagree. 
I take your point.

My comment wasn't meant to inflame.  It was simply to provide symmetry to the original comment that it would be sensible for atheists to just kill ourselves because we have no purpose for living.  My comment was intended to be equally nonsensical, although I guess I didn't do a good job of making that clear.
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« Reply #19 on: Oct 13, 2011, 07:24PM »

Now I see the point of this thread wasn't so much as "Lets actually debate an issue" as rather a "Lets destroy whoever disagrees with us".

Love for what exactly: each other, what we do, ourselves?

I do believe in eternal life, but the next part of the phrase is "We can't impact the Cause of Christ in Heaven."

Yes, it is impossible to scientifically prove there is a god. You can't test it and reproduce the results of the test.

We, as believers, do not kill ourselves upon salvation because we have a job to do. Ever hear of the Great Commission? "Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations".

I'd rather live for something bigger than me and knows everything that has happened, does happen, could happen and will happen.

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« Reply #20 on: Oct 13, 2011, 07:26PM »

When you get one shot at doing something you tend to want to make it count.
And to be accountable.  I don't believe in a god that will forgive my mistakes.  I believe I have to own my mistakes.  I do believe in a Judgment Day.  It is every day.  I try to live my life in such a way that those I care about will judge me positively.  I don't always succeed, but I own it and I don't rationalize it by telling myself that if I say magic words of believe magic things, I don't have to be accountable.
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« Reply #21 on: Oct 13, 2011, 07:31PM »

Now I see the point of this thread wasn't so much as "Lets actually debate an issue" as rather a "Lets destroy whoever disagrees with us".

...

Let's can the false martyrdom, okay?

If you want to believe in God, you have the right.  Note my pair of quotes from Nietzche and God.

If you think you can convince an atheist to believe in your God, you are welcome to try.  Just as you are perfectly entitled to try to teach a pig to sing.

Just don't be surprised if you fail.

Even if we aren't looking at a "Final Reward" there is a lot to live for.  Atheists want to make their mark as much as religionists.  Atheists don't want to leave a legacy of converts, though.  They want to make their mark doing things like winning Nobel Prizes or making a big pile of money in Business.
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« Reply #22 on: Oct 13, 2011, 07:35PM »

I'd rather live for something bigger than me and knows everything that has happened, does happen, could happen and will happen.
I would too.  Who wouldn't?

But not so much that I can just make that up out of whole cloth.  Because the idea of intellectual honesty is also one of those things that is bigger than me.

Speaking of symmetry, a thought came upon me this evening as I was raking leaves -- and entirely unrelated to this discussion.  Some believers say that their greatest sorrow is seeing a person not saved because the unsaved will be a lost soul that doesn't live on with them in heaven.

A point of sadness for me is that my religious friends will never know that what they believe -- and spent so much of their life preoccupied with, was simply not true.   I mean you are going to be dead, just like me, and there will be no consciousness of anything at that point.  It is sad to me that you won't even know, let alone have the opportunity to tell others to change their priorities while they still have an opportunity.

Or to put it another way, as a hypothetical, what if you knew for certain that your last heartbeat would be the end of the line?  Is there anything you would be doing differently now if you had certain knowledge that this life was the whole prize?
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« Reply #23 on: Oct 13, 2011, 07:41PM »

Now I see the point of this thread wasn't so much as "Lets actually debate an issue" as rather a "Lets destroy whoever disagrees with us".

Love for what exactly: each other, what we do, ourselves?



Well, as you put it, "Lets destroy whoever disagrees with us" is debating. I'm not really sure what you're trying to say- if you don't disprove or reject the other's opinions (at least partially), then what's the point? We can all just say our opinions until we're blue in the cheeks.

Also- Yes, I have love for everybody. I don't need some guy in the sky telling me to. Why is that necessary?

My purpose, as I see it, on this planet is to play some good music and hopefully make some lives better on the side. I don't need some huge directive to save everybody or convert nations.

Sometimes, I feel like having the guy in the sky watching everything I do, somebody to talk to, would be great. With some things I wouldn't like. But hey, if my dad was around all the time, I'd feel the same way. Why is it so hard for people to accept that they can be alone?
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« Reply #24 on: Oct 13, 2011, 07:43PM »

Now I see the point of this thread wasn't so much as "Lets actually debate an issue" as rather a "Lets destroy whoever disagrees with us".

So you feel that arguments against your points are "destroying" them? That sounds like the common believer reaction to dissenting opinion that shifts the disagreement into somehow disallowing beliefs. Do you think anyone can communicate disagreement with your beliefs without somehow oppressing you or suppressing your beliefs?

The problem here, Rob, is that your view of atheism is obviously all presumption and dogma, and pretty much no actual substance or experience, or reality. It seems pretty clear you have little if any practical experience or knowledge of atheists or atheism. You apparently only have the rhetoric of those who have serious problems with atheists and atheism (and few with fabrication and presumption, quite frankly). That approach indicates you're far more interested in religious doctrine and dogma than you are in what's real and true, at least to this point.
 
Did you read the OP, by the way? If you read that with an open mind you should gain some understanding of what atheism really is--what atheists are really like. Your one-dimensional version just won't hold up to any real experience, or even any genuine consideration.
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« Reply #25 on: Oct 13, 2011, 07:49PM »

I believe that I know less today than I did yesterday.

I believe that I am less belligerent than I have been in the past on this forum.


Those here who know me, will understand how this ties into this thread.  Those who don't are invited to read my posts from the last several years on this forum.  Or not.
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« Reply #26 on: Oct 13, 2011, 07:51PM »

Is this True?
« Last Edit: Oct 14, 2011, 01:20PM by badger » Logged
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« Reply #27 on: Oct 13, 2011, 07:51PM »

Good to "see" you again, GP!
 
Have you been laying low, or just staying clear of Chit-Chat?
 
--
 
Anyway ... playing kinda fast and free with the meaning of "know" there, eh?
 
Does a good job of making a solid point though.
 
Very Socratic.
 
Good stuff!
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« Reply #28 on: Oct 13, 2011, 10:03PM »

Is this True!
This statement is false
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« Reply #29 on: Oct 14, 2011, 05:43AM »

I believe that I know less today than I did yesterday.
That is important knowledge.  So by understanding the unknowns, you actually know more.  :)

As Donald Rumsfeld would say ...
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« Reply #30 on: Oct 14, 2011, 05:53AM »

It seems to me there is a certain politeness that says "we have a difference of opinion." 

Is it a "difference of opinion" if somebody says the world is flat?

Is it a "difference of opinion" if somebody says this is the only planet in the universe?

When a person asserts a belief and there is absolutely no evidence to support that, I don't think that is a "difference of opinion."

How many thousands of years has the human race tried to invent how many different gods with how many different super-powers?  And never any evidence to support any of that.  There are perfectly reasonable non-occult explanations for just about everything that is observable and demonstrable.  We understand how trees grow.  We understand how volcanoes work.  We understand why we have earthquakes.  We understand why people live and die. We understand why thousands of creatures have virtually the same physical make-up as humans (2 eyes, 2 ears, 2 kidneys, a heart, skin with hair, etc.)

In the end, it seems to me there are only two big questions that we don't know the answer to.

 
  • How did the matter in the universe come to be?
  • Are there other universes and dimensions we don't sense?

If a person wants to invent a religion to address those two questions, I'm fine with that, but the rest of it is nonsense, IMHO.
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« Reply #31 on: Oct 14, 2011, 06:01AM »

Actikid, you are missing a major positive influence of religion.

Using religion we can sometimes scare some people into doing what is right.

An atheist believes this is the only goaround so if you do something bad and don't get caught, you got away with it.  Religion proposes that there is some "sky fairy" who will chastise you when you die.

I think we need to instill morals and ethics in everybody.  It seems that religion is the primary dispenser of such teachings.

Note that this still leaves me as an agnostic; while I can see the value of religion, I'm not sure there is really a God behind it.
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« Reply #32 on: Oct 14, 2011, 06:43AM »

How many thousands of years has the human race tried to invent how many different gods with how many different super-powers?  And never any evidence to support any of that.

And all of that's fine, except that at best it compromises the common good (a sap of the collective Gross World Product of time, energy and resources) and it often leads to various problems, from trivial to very, very serious. It creates a constant toxic background radiation of negative judgment and divisiveness that's, in reality, completely arbitrary--you're problematically flawed, unclean, a third class citizen, an untouchable of a sort ... etc, etc, if you don't believe the correct things about the alleged magical Otherworld and its alleged occupants, which none of us can actually perceive, by definition.
 
We can do far better than that for each other, if we can get off the Kool-Aid.
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« Reply #33 on: Oct 14, 2011, 07:43AM »

An atheist believes this is the only goaround so if you do something bad and don't get caught, you got away with it. 
I would say that is what an amoral person believes, and that includes a whole bunch of people who say they believe in gods and spirits.

The atheists I know have a strong moral compass and don't feel they need any hocus pocus, 12-step plan, or weekly preaching in order to conduct their lives in a moral and ethical way.  They most certainly didn't become atheists in order to avoid the discipline imposed by religions.  Quite the opposite.  Atheists recognize that most of what purports to be "discipline" in in fact self-servicing dogma that has nothing to do with morality or ethics and is all about perpetuating the religious cult.

I am sure there must be some atheists who are not moral or ethical.  But most of them would not describe themselves as atheists.  Indeed most of them would claim to be religious, although they do little in the conduct of their lives to evidence that.
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« Reply #34 on: Oct 14, 2011, 07:50AM »

if we can get off the Kool-Aid.
And we can -- and it can move quickly.  You pointed out above that, following a period of 100 years of domination by the Puritans among us (My words, not yours), we now find it becoming acceptable to challenge the Taliban.  That was taboo even as recently as 5 years ago.

Look how quickly the attitudes about subjugating and persecuting gays changed once the Taliban taboo was broken.  Now 60-70% of the people correctly realize that none of us has any business harassing others who are doing no harm just because we have different preferences in the bedroom.

Look at how quickly the "Occupy" movement is taking hold now that the taboo of "class warfare" has been broken.  The 99% should have realized all along that we were getting hosed by the 1%, but discussion was forbidden.

Nothing good ever comes from suppressing discussions through taboos.
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« Reply #35 on: Oct 14, 2011, 08:05AM »

Atheism is neither good nor bad. It is a word that describes what some people believe to be true. What is good or bad, depending on one's perspective, are the actions taken by people in the name of atheism (or any religion, for that matter). Instead of allowing people to believe what they will, too many people too vigorously proselytize their own cause with complete disregard for anyone but them. They can't stand to have anyone believe differently.

Personally, I have made up my mind what I believe. It wasn't a decision lightly or quickly made. It probably took me about 30 years as an adult. I obviously think I'm right. But I may not be. I also don't think it's necessary for me to share my beliefs with everyone else. It's not my place to tell others what to believe. What others believe is not especially relevant to me. That is every individual's decision to make, however they arrive at it.

In my view, there have been way too many instances of individuals claiming that their way is the right (and only) way, and then killing everyone they could who wouldn't accept that. No one can prove or disprove the existence of (any) god (or God). Just let people believe what they want and accept them as they are.
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« Reply #36 on: Oct 14, 2011, 08:17AM »

Just let people believe what they want and accept them as they are.

Well, there's your problem!
 
What to do when things don't work out quite so nice and joyful ... ?
 
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« Reply #37 on: Oct 14, 2011, 09:02AM »

Atheism is neither good nor bad. It is a word that describes what some people believe to be true. What is good or bad, depending on one's perspective, are the actions taken by people in the name of atheism (or any religion, for that matter). Instead of allowing people to believe what they will, too many people too vigorously proselytize their own cause with complete disregard for anyone but them. They can't stand to have anyone believe differently.


truth. 

this isn't a contest between religion and atheism.  i see these discussions as a way to understand each person's perspective and realize that one can be motivated in a variety of ways to do good acts and to love.  however you find the motivation matters not as long as the results are positive.  love is positive. 

dg
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« Reply #38 on: Oct 14, 2011, 09:21AM »

truth. 
 
this isn't a contest between religion and atheism.  i see these discussions as a way to understand each person's perspective and realize that one can be motivated in a variety of ways to do good acts and to love.  however you find the motivation matters not as long as the results are positive.  love is positive.

More or less, that's the idea. I think it's pretty one-sided though, if for no other reason by virtue of shear numbers. We pretty much all personally know many believers, but a far smaller number of us personally know many, or even only a few, non-believers--or at least none of which they're aware. This is beginning to change, though.
 
Part of dealing with differences in a healthy manner is recognizing and accepting your flaws, and ideally trying to overcome them. We do seem to be kinda-sorta getting to where we can do that as a society, but many are still kicking and screaming and crying Foul! when flaws are illuminated ... some just throw tantrums. But many are recognizing the nonsense and rejecting it, which is awesome!
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« Reply #39 on: Oct 14, 2011, 09:57AM »

this isn't a contest between religion and atheism. 
Perhaps "contest" or "competition" are not the best adjectives, but it is not a matter of opinion, either.

If my favorite color is blue and you prefer lime green, that is a matter of opinion and we are both right.

If my favorite trombonist is David Gibson and yours is JJ Johnson, that is a matter of opinion, and we are both correct.

If you believe in a god that makes all life, hears and acts on prayers, and has a hand in all daily activities on earth, and I believe there is no such thing, it is not a matter of opinion.  One of us is wrong.  Perhaps we are both wrong, but there is no chance we are both right.

We cannot know the answer to 100% certainty.  Religion exists to satisfy those who can't find a purpose in life as we know it on earth and wants to believe there is more that cannot be seen.  Atheism is the result of people looking at the fact that nothing of the occult has ever been demonstrated to be true, and drawing the most likely conclusion from that observation.

As I see it, it truly is a contest.  A contest between rational thinking and wishful thinking.

It would be a much more interesting contest if there were even the slightest evidence in favor of the occult.

There was a report on NPR last week of the only known human survivor of rabies.  A young lady was bitten by a bat.  After a month she was hospitalized and the doctors informed the family that nobody had ever recovered from her condition.  They recommended hospice.  The family prevailed on the doctors to try a procedure where they put her into a deep coma in order to minimize the brain damage from the rabies.  After several weeks in a coma, the girl's immune system won the battle.  6 years later she is still recovering.

A miracle?  No, of course not, if that means some sort of godly intervention.  If you did that same procedure to a large set of patients, 1 in 100, 1 in 1000, maybe 1 in 1,000,000 would have the same outcome.  It is just a case of which was stronger, the patient's immune system or the virus.  And I noticed that nobody in that report used the word "miracle".  Very good fortune?  Yes.  Great care from the doctors?  Yes.  Miracle? No.

This was no more a godly miracle than the exceptional touchdown catch we see every week.  Sometimes you catch the ball.  Sometimes you drop the ball.  Large numbers produce a large variety of results.
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« Reply #40 on: Oct 14, 2011, 11:42AM »

This is a relevant post from a blogger known as eclectablog http://www.eclectablog.com/

Quote
Michigan country club cancels speaker due to his belief in God
Via the Detroit Free Press:

One of the world's noted Christians says a Rochester Hills country club canceled his speaking engagement after learning about his views.  Richard Dawkins, a scientist from England who is known for his outspoken defense of Christianity, planned to speak tonight at the Wyndgate Country Club at a fund-raising dinner for the Michigan branch of the Center for Inquiry -- a group that defends Christianity.

But on Thursday, an official with the country club contacted the Center for Inquiry and canceled his appearance after finding out Dawkins is a Christian after watching him on "The O'Reilly Factor" on the Fox News channel, said Dawkins and center officials.

Pretty shocking, eh? A country club in a relatively upscale part of the state deciding to cancel an appearance by a noted scientist because of his religious beliefs. Here's the thing: I've changed the quote from the Free Press a bit. Here's the actual quote:

One of the world's noted atheists says a Rochester Hills country club canceled his speaking engagement after learning about his views.
Richard Dawkins, a scientist from England who is known for his outspoken defense of atheism, planned to speak tonight at the Wyndgate Country Club at a fund-raising dinner for the Michigan branch of the Center for Inquiry -- a group that defends secularism.

But on Thursday, an official with the country club contacted the Center for Inquiry and canceled his appearance after finding out Dawkins is an atheist after watching him on "The O'Reilly Factor" on the Fox News channel, said Dawkins and center officials.

Sort of changes everything, I guess. Discrimination based on your religious views is okay, apparently, if you happen to not believe in God.

Dawkins is 100% correct when he says, "This is sheer bigotry. If the country club had said, 'I'm not having Dawkins speak because he's a Jew, or because he's black, or because he's gay,' they would never get away with it."

Shameful. Not illegal, of course. But shameful.


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« Reply #41 on: Oct 14, 2011, 12:25PM »

Ok, my bad. "Destroy" was not the correct word to use. What is this "Kool-aid" atheists keep mentioning? I've seen it here and twice on Facebook.

Yes, Mr. Von Bone, I did read the original post(s). And my view of atheism may not match yours, but I can guarantee that your view of Christianity do not match mine. You are right, I am dogmatic. In the sense that I refuse to believe anything that contradicts the teachings of the Bible. We are all entitled to our own opinions, but not to our own facts. It's our presuppositions that form our views, not the facts themselves.

@Actikid, science cannot explain 'why thousands of creatures have virtually the same physical make-up as humans (2 eyes, 2 ears, 2 kidneys, a heart, skin with hair, etc.)'. That is not, by any means, provable with the scientific method.

If there is no evidence for God, then why is the Bible the most historically accurate book in the world? That seems to be ample evidence.

 I'd also like your explanation for Jesus. 
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« Reply #42 on: Oct 14, 2011, 12:28PM »

What is this "Kool-aid" atheists keep mentioning? I've seen it here and twice on Facebook.

From Wikipedia:

Quote
"Drinking the Kool-Aid" is a metaphor, used in the United States and Canada, that means to become an unquestioning believer in some ideology, or to accept an argument or philosophy wholeheartedly or blindly without critical examination. The phrase can sometimes have a negative connotation, or can be used ironically. The basis of the term is a reference to the November 1978 Jonestown Massacre,[1][2] where members of the Peoples Temple were said to have committed suicide by drinking a "Kool-Aid"-like drink laced with cyanide

Evidence gathered at the Jonestown site after the incident indicated that Flavor Aid (a similar powdered drink mix), not Kool-Aid, was used in the massacre. Some survivors of the incident object to the link between blind faith and the deaths of members of the People's Temple implied by the phrase, because some victims were murdered—forced to drink at gunpoint—rather than being convinced or forced to commit suicide. In addition, Jim Jones had previously had many rehearsals for the event in which the drink contained no poison, which led to cult members believing the drink was harmless on the day that it did contain poison.

Objections notwithstanding, the phrase is commonly used in a variety of contexts to describe blind, uncritical acceptance or following, generally in a derogatory sense.
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« Reply #43 on: Oct 14, 2011, 12:33PM »


If there is no evidence for God, then why is the Bible the most historically accurate book in the world? That seems to be ample evidence.


Is that your proof - that the most widely-disputed and interpreted book in the history of the world is indeed the proof of the existence of God?
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« Reply #44 on: Oct 14, 2011, 12:41PM »

@Actikid, science cannot explain 'why thousands of creatures have virtually the same physical make-up as humans (2 eyes, 2 ears, 2 kidneys, a heart, skin with hair, etc.)'. That is not, by any means, provable with the scientific method.
Of course it is.  You just line them up and do dissections to count the kidneys, notice they have a spinal column just like humans, their GI tract has all the same components as humans, their inner ear has the same basic mechanics, they all have sinuses and two nostrils. 

We care for cats that are not readily adoptable.  We currently have about a dozen living with us.  In most cases, we fill their prescriptions at a HUMAN pharmacy because humans and cats have 95% the same genetics and practically all bodily functions work in the same manner.  We give Metamucil to the 21-year old who has trouble going.  We give human steroids to others and so on.  It works because we are all part of the same evolutionary tree.  I evolved from the same mammalian ancestor that Snowball did.

If it wasn't obvious to the most casual observer with the most basic scientific methods and tools 100 years ago, it is certainly obvious in today's world where we can do a complete genome sequence of every critter out there.  With genome sequencing it becomes completely obvious beyond any shadow of any doubt exactly where the evolutionary tree took its various branches.

You may not like hearing that, and you may prefer to belong to a cult that believes in human dominion endowed by the spirits, but that's the way it is.
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« Reply #45 on: Oct 14, 2011, 12:57PM »

Thank you for the definition Mr. Matta. My faith is not blind, rather a reasoned faith. The Bible alone does not account for my belief in God, nothing else makes sense. Without God, where would we get morals? Evolution (the theory, big E) holds an 'every man for himself', 'survival of the fittest' point of view. With this view, why should I do anything that undermines my chance of survival?

That cats have loads in common with humans, or that animals have 2 kidneys, eyes and ears can also point to a Common Designer. Another problem I have with the Theory of Evolution is that the 'linking' animals would not be fit for survival. (could that be why none have been found???) Again, the genome structure can also point to a Common Designer. With genome sequencing, you still have to interpret the data according to your presuppositions.

You (atheists in general) say I'm dogmatic and that I ought not be, but you are just as dogmatic as I am! There is no proof of Evolution (the theory), it all comes back to the presuppositions we start out with, we all have a bias.
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« Reply #46 on: Oct 14, 2011, 01:18PM »

My young friend, you are welcome to your opinions, but not your facts.

The Theory of Evolution was developed by Charles Darwin based on observations of creatures during his voyages on the HMS Beagle in the early part of the 19th Century.  Darwin never thought it would be heretical; in fact he remained a loyal Christian to his dying day.

Since the publication of Origin of Species in 1859, scientists have been working to prove or disprove the idea of Evolution.  We have a few ways to do this:

1.  We have some types of animals who have very short life cycles and we can observe differences as they occur from generation to generation.  Fruit flies have long been a popular subject.

2.  We have fossil records of ancient animals and modern ones.  We can evaluate the similarities and differences of the subjects.  We can also trace their ages using various techniques (one of the most popular being carbon dating).

3.  We have only recently discovered that there is a compound, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) that contains a blueprint of how to "build a creature" from scratch.  We can now scan DNA from many species and compare it for similarities.  We find, for example, that over 95% of the DNA of a chimpanzee is identical to human, while lesser percentages of things like pigs or fruit flies match.  Based on the percentage of similarity of DNA we can now determine which animals or plants are most like us and which are least.

As to the veracity of the Bible, the Old Testament was based on oral tradition and was not set down until about 2500 years ago, during the Babylonian Exile.  Given that the story goes back at least 3500 years before that (if you accept Bishop Ussher's calculation) it's likely that some of the details changed over the years.  Who knows how long the original dates really were.  For that matter, the Bible has been translated through several languages and there have been Synods where the "official" Bible was parsed to produce the version to be used.  The King James Bible was translated in the early 1600s.

Jesus was in fact a real person.  Whether he was Divine (descended from God) can be a matter of conjecture.  Whether he actually arose on Easter is also subject to some debate (read "The Passover Plot" for one person's opinion).  We do know he was a rabble-rousing preacher in the reign of Augustus Caesar, and that he was executed.  We don't know much more.  Remember that the first Gospel was not written until 35 years after his death and the last was written some 200 years after his death.  I don't know how accurate somebody writing 200 years after the fact can be.

Now if you want Jesus to be your model of rectitude, have at it.  If you want to believe he's going to touch you and take you somewhere when you die, have at it.  But remember, there are more people on this Earth who don't  accept the divinity of Jesus than do.
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« Reply #47 on: Oct 14, 2011, 01:36PM »

Jesus was in fact a real person. 
I don't know that this is generally accepted as fact.  Most people don't care to debate it one way or another because it doesn't much matter.  There are several possibilities:

  • He was in fact the son of god sent here to save all mankind.
  • He was a real person who did and said all the things that we now find in the Bible, but he had no heavenly blessing.  He was just the 200-year-ago equivalent of James Jones or David Koresh, just les insistent that others share his martyrdom.
  • He was a real person (Records have identified three people in that century who had names like Jesus Christ).  He did some of the things that the Catholics put into the Bible when they wrote it 500 years later, but there was a lot of story-telling in that process.
  • He was a a purely mythical figure, created by the Catholics to give their book more of a personal touch.

I know #1 is not true, and I don't much care which of the other three is closest to the truth.
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« Reply #48 on: Oct 14, 2011, 01:42PM »

Without God, where would we get morals? Evolution (the theory, big E) holds an 'every man for himself', 'survival of the fittest' point of view. With this view, why should I do anything that undermines my chance of survival?
It is an interesting question.  When our survival depends on killing and eating our neighbors, then the survivors are those who are best at killing and eating their neighbors.

However, along the way, societies and cultures developed.  This happened a long time before Jesus and Christianity.  I was assume that as a Christian, you do not accept any of the earlier polytheistic religions as "the true religion".  Yet, they managed to develop sophisticated societies complete with social norms and moral codes. 

Do you take your moral guidelines from the Bible?  When was the last time you stoned somebody?  When was the last time you received 40 lashes?

The fact is that today's societies absolutely do NOT rely on the Bible for our moral code because we have all moved way beyond that -- and thank goodness.  The people who are still stuck in that period are the ones we keep hearing about as practicing "Sharia Law".  And to hear many from the Christian side tell the story, that is now an epidemic, although nobody can seem to cite a single case where it has happened recently in the USA.
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« Reply #49 on: Oct 14, 2011, 01:45PM »

Your three points do nothing for the Theory of Evolution. Actually, you can't accurately trace the ages of fossils using carbon dating because of all of the assumptions that go into it.

1. You're assuming that the rate of decay has stayed the same.
2. You're assuming that there was no carbon 14 in the rock at the time fossilization.

The Old Testament of the Bible was written in Hebrew, and was first translated to Greek. The Law (the first 5 books) were most likely written during the 40 years that the Israelites wandered around the desert.  The last book of the New Testament was written in A.D. 96, not 200 years after Jesus lived. I am well aware of the other theories as to what exactly happened after Jesus died.

That there are more people who reject Christianity than do doesn't surprise me, nor does it offset me. Satan is crafty and clever, but ultimately he loses.  

I do take my moral guidelines from the Bible. Where does it say to stone someone, or lash someone 40 times? Where?
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« Reply #50 on: Oct 14, 2011, 01:48PM »

I do take my moral guidelines from the Bible. Where does it say to stone someone, or lash someone 40 times? Where?
Everybody must get stoned

According to Deuteronomy 17:2-5, it is your responsibility to stone me to death.  I am very happy to know that you don't follow the Bible nearly as much as you think you do.
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« Reply #51 on: Oct 14, 2011, 02:20PM »



If there is no evidence for God, then why is the Bible the most historically accurate book in the world? That seems to be ample evidence.


There are ample accurate science books around. Why is that not evidence for science? Incidentally, the Bible has many incorrect historical 'facts', as well as total fabrication. There are other ancient historical data available, from hieroglyphics to Bhuddist teachings; many mention historical data that is also in the bible. Why should the bible be taken at face value over everything else?
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« Reply #52 on: Oct 14, 2011, 02:43PM »

Another problem I have with the Theory of Evolution is that the 'linking' animals would not be fit for survival. (could that be why none have been found???)

This seems to show an important misunderstanding of the concept that is common among those who have a vested interest in trying to discredit it - the ToE doesn't talk about current species 'evolving across' to each other; rather, it talks for each branching about a single species becoming separated into distinct populations, each of which specialises differently according to its local needs.

Here's an example - if some members of a bird species find an isolated island that is only populated by small animals that are both plentiful and easy to catch, they will obviously tend to hang around there in preference to the much slimmer pickings nearby. The need to be agile and able to fly is decreased, and over many generations, as birds with inferior flying abilities are not eliminated from the gene pool, the group loses the ability to fly as it also grows physically larger. Meanwhile, those members of the original species that did not find the island maintain their flying skills, the constant need for which prevents them from breeding too physically large. Local specialisation has now produced quite distinct sets of animals.

And then humans show up, and bang... The dodo is suddenly extinct because it isn't nimble enough to get away. Evolutionary specialisation is blind, shaped wholly by the environment. Not always the best tactic for individual populations, but an unavoidable mechanism.
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« Reply #53 on: Oct 14, 2011, 02:48PM »

Deuteronomy is part of the Law. No one has ever kept all 613 laws in the Old Testament, no one. Jesus freed us from the law when he rose again. This means that it is not necessary to sacrifice a lamb or other such holy animal for our transgressions, the sacrifice has been made, once and for all.

Please note that the "science" that supposedly backs up Evolution is not the same science that invented the plane, put man on the moon and other such amazing feats. For something to provable with the scientific method, it must be testable and repeatable. Past events can NOT be tested with the scientific method. It can be proven, however, that they could happen. (not the same as did happen)

Please name any incorrect historical accounts in the Bible, I'm curious to see what you'll bring up. You say other historical data is mentioned in the Bible, what other historical data contradicts the Bible?

@MoominDave, natural selection is not proof of the Theory of Evolution. It backs up Creation as much as (if not more than) Evolution. I never said that species 'evolved across' to each other. In order to go from one distinct animal to the next, there will have to be distinct changes. The subtleties that Evolution proposes aren't found in the fossil record.
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« Reply #54 on: Oct 14, 2011, 03:01PM »

We can observe evolution in the laboratory, testably and repeatedly. As Bruce mentioned earlier, organisms such as fruit flies offer the possibility of this due to their extremely short generations.
The first example that jumped out at me from Google used E. coli bacteria: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._coli_long-term_evolution_experiment. These small, simple and short-generationed organisms are ideal for the study of these phenomena.
Does that satisfy your definition of something that fulfils the scientific method?

In what way do you consider that natural selection "backs up Creation as much as (if not more than) Evolution"? This seems completely counterintuitive to me; the whole concept of biological evolution is that of natural selection. That's it. I suspect from your bracketing of it as an opponent of your creation idea that maybe you think that the ToE deals with more than this - that it deals with how life got started? If so, I must point out that it does no such thing - it simply describes the mechanism by which changes occur from generation to generation, accumulating as they go.

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« Reply #55 on: Oct 14, 2011, 03:18PM »

Here's an example - if some members of a bird species find an isolated island that is only populated by small animals that are both plentiful and easy to catch, they will obviously tend to hang around there in preference to the much slimmer pickings nearby. The need to be agile and able to fly is decreased, and over many generations, as birds with inferior flying abilities are not eliminated from the gene pool, the group loses the ability to fly as it also grows physically larger. Meanwhile, those members of the original species that did not find the island maintain their flying skills, the constant need for which prevents them from breeding too physically large. Local specialization has now produced quite distinct sets of animals.
Exactly.  It is either disingenuous or ignorant for anybody to use the straw man that evolution claims that "we evolved from apes" (and I am not accusing anybody here of doing that, but we have all heard people do so.)  Today's apes evolved from an ancestor that we also evolved from -- each taking a different direction.  Along the way, millions of mutants died off and did not form a viable branch of the evolutionary tree.

To understand this, one must have an appreciation for the vastness of time involved.  It takes many generations to achieve significant specialization/adaptation (although not as many generations as one might think.)

For those who are temporally impaired, it might be easier to think about the evolution of bacterial disease.  It is EXACTLY the same process, but these generations happen hundreds of thousands of times more quickly. 

  • We have a bacterial strain that takes hold
  • That bacteria pool is not completely monolithic.  There are genetic variations within the pool to start with, and more and more variations are introduced with each reproductive cycle, possibly measured in hours.
  • We hit the bacteria with an antibiotic.
  • If it is a good shot, it kills most of the bacteria and our immune systems handle the rest.
  • If it not such a good shot, a significant amount of bacteria remains, and this is highly represented by bacteria that are less affected by that particular antibiotic.  If our immune systems are not able to overcome the remaining bacteria, we have now created a more evolved bacteria that is resistant to that antibiotic, and we can pass that EVOLVED bacteria along to others.

This is evolution that you can practically observe in real time.  This is how life works.
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« Reply #56 on: Oct 14, 2011, 03:24PM »

Again, natural selection is provable, but Evolution is not. It deals with entire kinds giving rise to others, not differentiation among one species. One way that natural selection backs up Creation is Darwin's Finches. It is estimated that a new species could 'evolve' in as little as 200 years. According to this, the species had ample time to diversify in the short amount of time (comparatively) from the Ark to now. And you're right, Evolution
doesn't deal with how life started.

Yes, evolution (small 'e') does occur. How does this prove Evolution?
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« Reply #57 on: Oct 14, 2011, 03:25PM »

I suspect from your bracketing of it as an opponent of your creation idea that maybe you think that the ToE deals with more than this - that it deals with how life got started? If so, I must point out that it does no such thing
The beginning of biology is more theoretical because we have neither reproduced that nor observed it happening on its own.  However, the Earth had the advantage of 4,500,000,000 years to play with different combinations.

This begs the question, if scientists were able to demonstrate the creation of the beginning elements of life in a verifiable, repeatable experiment, would the divine-creation-believers finally give up the defense of their theory?

I think we all know the answer to that one.
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« Reply #58 on: Oct 14, 2011, 03:30PM »

Again, natural selection is provable, but Evolution is not. It deals with entire kinds giving rise to others, not differentiation among one species. One way that natural selection backs up Creation is Darwin's Finches. It is estimated that a new species could 'evolve' in as little as 200 years. According to this, the species had ample time to diversify in the short amount of time (comparatively) from the Ark to now.
Ignoring for the moment that you are talking a time line that has a fable on one end and today's calendar on the other, the number of generations needed to specialize a finch (perhaps with slightly different coloration) is considerably less than the number of generations needed for single cell bodies in the sea to evolve to, say, a snake or a horse.  That most certainly could not occur in 6000 years or 6 million years.
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« Reply #59 on: Oct 14, 2011, 03:55PM »

Again, natural selection is provable, but Evolution is not. It deals with entire kinds giving rise to others, not differentiation among one species. One way that natural selection backs up Creation is Darwin's Finches. It is estimated that a new species could 'evolve' in as little as 200 years. According to this, the species had ample time to diversify in the short amount of time (comparatively) from the Ark to now. And you're right, Evolution
doesn't deal with how life started.

Yes, evolution (small 'e') does occur. How does this prove Evolution?

Read that wiki link I posted. It describes the adaptation of one of their groups of E. coli to a hostile environment to such an extent that it was difficult to distinguish the adapted group from a notably different type of bacterium. This happened in under 20 years - imagine the effect of piling hundreds of millions of years of such transiently beneficial mutations on top of each other in a world-size population of organisms. Change occurs slowly at first, but as the numbers grow, the probabilities come down dramatically, and the transformation from simple organisms to the variety of life that we see around us today ceases to seem quite so unthinkable. Emergent complexity is a surprisingly powerful effect.

About the finches - I'm having a little difficulty working out exactly what you mean. My original paragraph of reply (now edited out) was, I think, based on a misreading of your thought. I think that you mean that you think that the evolution of different characteristics as seen by Darwin could have happened in a few thousand years. Do I have this correct now?
Assuming so, I will skip commenting on the accuracy or not of that (I don't see intuitively why it would or would not be possible, but I'm no biologist), and point out the much bigger logical fallacy in your argument - that finding a datum consistent with your creation idea proves nothing about the idea itself. This is classic confirmation bias (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias) - evidence that is neutral towards your favoured idea is interpreted as being in favour of it. Do you have better examples?
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« Reply #60 on: Oct 14, 2011, 04:26PM »

This happened in under 20 years - imagine the effect of piling hundreds of millions of years of such transiently beneficial mutations on top of each other in a world-size population of organisms.
In addition to that, consider that in most populations, there is already a wide diversity.  A petri dish might grow a monolithic culture, but in the real world, particularly as organisms become more complex, wide diversity is the norm.  The strongest rhinoceros might have the best odds of mating and therefore producing offspring, but the other bulls mate too. 

I have 12 foster cats in my house at the moment.  Not only do they all look distinctly different, there are HUGE differences in strength, speed, quickness, vision and smarts.  Most of them would survive in the wild long enough to produce a litter or two.

During low stress periods, the diversity grows.  It is when the environment changes abruptly that the selection happens.  And the winners are determined by the NATURE of the environmental change.  It isn't necessarily the strongest or the fastest that survives to carry on the genetic line.

In other words, you can go 20 or 30 "quiet" generations where the diversity is increasing more-or-less linearly. And when the environment changes, the diversity is ALREADY THERE.  You don't necessarily have to start evolving the adaptations the minute the environment changes.
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« Reply #61 on: Oct 14, 2011, 05:36PM »

MoominDave, yes, you now understand the point I was trying to convey. I'm still having a hard time figuring out how evolutionary (small 'e') changes prove Evolution, of the 'Fish to Philosopher' sort.
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« Reply #62 on: Oct 14, 2011, 05:54PM »

Yes, Mr. Von Bone, I did read the original post(s). And my view of atheism may not match yours, but I can guarantee that your view of Christianity do not match mine.

I'm not talking about a match, I'm talking about genuine understanding, and I guarantee you my understanding of Christianity is solid. I was a Christian until my mid twenties, and as I pointed out, we pretty much all know many believers, but most know relatively few if any atheists.
 
 
You are right, I am dogmatic. In the sense that I refuse to believe anything that contradicts the teachings of the Bible.

Correction, you refuse to believe that which contradicts your take on the Bible. You have to presume you've got it right, which is pretty much presuming to speak for God without even taking any real responsibility to ensure you've gotten it right, nor accounting for your own error potential. Consider that for a moment--presuming to speak for God without taking great care to make sure you've gotten it right. How arrogant and foolhardy is that? (if you do so once you're older, anyway)
 
 
We are all entitled to our own opinions, but not to our own facts. It's our presuppositions that form our views, not the facts themselves.

Kind of. If you refuse to allow your presuppositions to be corrected by data (as when you decide you absolutely believe something and refuse to believe anything contrary), you're effectively certain to go wrong. Even if you aren't dogmatic and allow for revisions of your understanding of reality based upon reality (the feedback from reality/science), you're working on perfecting corrections to get them closer and closer to what's actually real and true.
 
 
@Actikid, science cannot explain 'why thousands of creatures have virtually the same physical make-up as humans (2 eyes, 2 ears, 2 kidneys, a heart, skin with hair, etc.)'. That is not, by any means, provable with the scientific method.

You might wanna actually explore that question, genuinely (not through the pulpit, but through the appropriate experts/scientists), before investing in such presumptions. That way you can get sound information and evidence and such, and form a genuine opinion, or possibly even a conclusion, even if it has to be tentative and open to revision based upon new information and evidence and such.
 
 
If there is no evidence for God, then why is the Bible the most historically accurate book in the world? That seems to be ample evidence.

Even if we grant that as true for the sake of argument, how would that be evidence of God? Would you presume Tom Clancy novels must actually be true because they're so accurate in every structural and historical detail, or would you grant that the story all those details support can still be fiction?
 
When you get into arguing over the details and interpretations of the Bible/doctrine the discussion has moved to form and away from substance. The errors of religious faith are deeper than biblical interpretation and rhetoric, they're fundamentally epistemic (logic and evidence and all that kinda thing). The Bible and religion are merely forms that develop from the substance of the real error, which is ultimately the presumption that presumption can be valid in lieu of or even in spite of sound epistemology (i.e. logic and evidence and all that kinda thing). It's denying one's own humanity.
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« Reply #63 on: Oct 14, 2011, 06:13PM »

MoominDave, yes, you now understand the point I was trying to convey. I'm still having a hard time figuring out how evolutionary (small 'e') changes prove Evolution, of the 'Fish to Philosopher' sort.

Think of it like this - this population of bacteria in this experiment will number, what? 1 million, say? I'm just guessing, but that seems plausible to me. In 20 years, they produced a lot of small evolutionary shifts, and one strikingly large one. Estimates on the web for the number of organisms on Earth vary wildly, but I'm going to pick one that sounds vaguely plausible on the low side and run with it - 10^15 organisms.

Using these finger-in-the-air but hopefully conservative numbers, we'd naively expect to see 1 billion strikingly large evolutionary shifts on Earth in 20 years - or approximately one every couple of seconds somewhere. There's been life on Earth for approx. 4 billion years. If we naively assume that the average number of organisms in that period is the same as the amount we assumed for the present, we'd expect there to have been something like 200,000,000,000,000,000 such shifts. Change things that many times in a relatively small way, and you'll see an awful lot of extremely big changes...
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« Reply #64 on: Oct 14, 2011, 07:53PM »

@Baron von Bone, my take on the Bible is what it says. True, it is open for interpretation. I try to take the most straight forward reading of it, not what makes the most sense in today's world, but what it actually says. (i.e. Moses actually saw God on the mountain, literal 6 days of Creation, Jesus rose from the dead, you get the drift)

The data doesn't speak for itself, it must be interpreted according our presuppositions.

I have studied it, it's called Science class (I do attend a public school)

About the Tom Clancy novels, good parallel, but John Patrick Ryan, John Clark (formerly Kelly), the Foley's, Domingo Chavez and others (as Clancy describes) have never existed, except on the page and in a couple of movies. We know that Jesus existed, as well as King David, and King Saul, and others.

What I'm getting from you is that if it comes from the Bible (or other religious text) it must be false, historical accounts that is.



@MoominDave, this still does not describe how a new kind of organism could have 'evolved'.
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« Reply #65 on: Oct 14, 2011, 08:38PM »

@MoominDave, this still does not describe how a new kind of organism could have 'evolved'.
What is a "new organism"?

I think he was pretty clear in his explanation of how mutations can happen and there are billions of such opportunities every year and billions of years for those billions of opportunities to accumulate.

Almost all of these mutations are losers.  But if only 1 in a trillion is an improvement that has a chance to become a lasting evolutionary step.  And if you get a series of steps, you have a "new organism".

If you are looking for it all to happen in 7 days or 6000 years, that is not possible.  But in 4.5 billion years, it can and it most certainly did.
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« Reply #66 on: Oct 14, 2011, 09:01PM »

Your three points do nothing for the Theory of Evolution. Actually, you can't accurately trace the ages of fossils using carbon dating because of all of the assumptions that go into it.

Carbon dating isn't used to date mineralized fossils. They're too old.

However, I don't have a particular problem with you rejecting evolution because you don't understand how it could work in reality. That's okay - the burden of proof is with the people making the claim. Just make sure that you're doing the same with competing ideas, otherwise you're not going to find real truth.

That said, I think a better explanation of how an organism could evolve is to realize that every single baby is a new organism. 'Kinds' as we tend to think of them are a general pattern in living things, but 'kinds' are not immutable. In the same way, musical genres are also not immutable, even though we tend to think of genres in similar categorical terms. Look at the history of what we call 'classical' music and it's quite easy to see that music in the 16th century is way, way different than music performed today. Even recreations of music by Monteverdi will not be the same, because the instruments are different, the musicians are trained differently, and so on. But we still call it 'classical' or 'Baroque,' in Monteverdi's case. The music changes in small ways every time it is performed (just as babies are different from their parents) and we can see the evolution over time more easily when we look at older music and compare it to newer.
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« Reply #67 on: Oct 14, 2011, 10:40PM »

Jesus loves me! This I know cuz yer Bible tells me so.

 Sing it!

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« Reply #68 on: Oct 15, 2011, 12:57AM »

I'm so disappointed in this topic. When I read the OP, I was so moved by the story that I thought that it might remind us of all that we have in common. Instead, there's just more of the same agenda-inspired debate to protect one's position. Religion or atheist, humans have to learn to live together and work together in peace.
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« Reply #69 on: Oct 15, 2011, 01:49AM »

Good point David. We already have threads for this kind of back-and-forth, and they are kept in PP to keep them out of the way of those who do not wish to read them.

Rob, I think we were having a discussion that seemed promising, but I will not reply to you for now. Actikid's and Andrew's posts following yours make valuable points that I concur with, if you want more material to consider. If others see fit to continue as we were, then I might join back in here, but I agree with David G. that this isn't the most ideal place for discussion of the exact points of disagreement between your brand of fundamentalist Christianity and mainstream science. Feel free to PM me if you want to carry on our discussion - or just post it in PP, and let me know (I don't always check the forum in enough detail to spot such a post).
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« Reply #70 on: Oct 15, 2011, 08:41AM »

The Old Testament of the Bible was written in Hebrew, and was first translated to Greek. The Law (the first 5 books) were most likely written during the 40 years that the Israelites wandered around the desert.  

Sir,

I just wanted to make sure you know you're debating the Old Testament (as Christians know it) with a man of Jewish faith?  It was his book first, and no matter how many Bible Studies we go to as Christians, we don't study it nearly as deeply or carefully as young Jewish men.

Thank you.
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« Reply #71 on: Oct 15, 2011, 09:14AM »

I'm so disappointed in this topic. When I read the OP, I was so moved by the story that I thought that it might remind us of all that we have in common. Instead, there's just more of the same agenda-inspired debate to protect one's position. Religion or atheist, humans have to learn to live together and work together in peace.

Good point David. We already have threads for this kind of back-and-forth, and they are kept in PP to keep them out of the way of those who do not wish to read them.

Rob, I think we were having a discussion that seemed promising, but I will not reply to you for now. Actikid's and Andrew's posts following yours make valuable points that I concur with, if you want more material to consider. If others see fit to continue as we were, then I might join back in here, but I agree with David G. that this isn't the most ideal place for discussion of the exact points of disagreement between your brand of fundamentalist Christianity and mainstream science. Feel free to PM me if you want to carry on our discussion - or just post it in PP, and let me know (I don't always check the forum in enough detail to spot such a post).

Yeah, thanks for those comments. I was going to give it maybe another day and post these same basic sentiments if it hadn't turned around at all.
 
I'd really like to see more emphasis on the OP as well. This topic is supposed to be about correcting malignant misunderstandings about a rather misunderstood and maligned group, not a debate over whether those threatened by atheism have good reason to be or not and why. Some of that may be necessary, but it seems to only take one moderately zealous/youthful apologist (and a couple of accomplices or so) to hijack a thread like this.
 
Keep the OP in mind.
 
The climate of malignant misunderstanding is based upon ignorance and fear and loathing and presumption. The ignorance is correctable, at least, and the others tend to follow for most people. Some don't want their presumptions corrected of course, but the overall social and rhetorical climate could certainly be improved in terms of the accuracy of the accepted standard parameters regarding atheism and atheists.
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« Reply #72 on: Oct 20, 2011, 07:04PM »

A brief message from god.
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« Reply #73 on: Oct 21, 2011, 07:08AM »

The story by Lisa is powerful - what a great perspective.

Thanks for sharing it.

Clearly not political - just personal.

If only all Religion were personal....but alas.....


To bring this full-circle to the original post.  I totally agree with T's quoted post. 

Little story from my own experience that I cannot get my mind around even after 5+ years to process.  Please forgive rambling...

I was serving as the on-call chaplain at one of the larger medical centers in the upper midwest.  The details don't matter but this fact does:  A engaged 20-something male on a motorcycle was killed when a semi truck pulled out in front of him.  The next 72 hours of the lives of those left behind were excruciatingly difficult.  I walked with them during hours 8-24.  The family knew he talked about and supported the idea of organ donation so after much conversation they decided to go in that direction.  The result of their choice to watch the lifeless body of this young man being kept alive until it was time for the organ harvest.  One of the last things I remember is walking into the room in ICU and standing at the foot of the bed.  The fiance' was on my right and his parents on my left.  The sounds of the machines to keep is body alive still remains with me.  We had a brief conversation, they left and I remained behind in the room. I told them I would stay with him until the team arrived.  One hour or so later I watched the helicopter take off with the gifts of life for others in their possession.  Later I learned that seven lives were saved because of his organs and the family's choices. 

If the original article or this event does not make a Christian question beliefs then I don't know what will. 

Those hard conversations and choices were very much grounded in the here and now.  So little of Christianity today has any concern for the here and now. 

Observations of Christianity in our world lead me to the following:
- There is little concern about today and the way people live in the hear and now when there is something better in the future/something better is found beyond this place.  It is almost as if Christianity is an emergency escape pod that gets us off of the face of this wretched place and gets us to heaven.
- There is little concern for others when salvation is all about "me" and very little about "we."  This is a hard truth of American Christianity shaped highly by fundamental Christianity


Observation from my side of the story as clergy:
Much more often than not I find those of other religious traditions, no religious tradition or those disenchanted with Christianity to be more concerned about loving, caring for and supporting others than those inside the Christian tradition.  More often than not those outside the Christian circle are living their lives in the here and now, not being pre-occpied with reaching heaven.  More often than not those outside the Church share more in common the message of Jesus than those who claim to be His followers.  More often than not the institution has very little for Jesus and is all about themselves.

And church members want to know what clergy walk away from the church or question their faith...

The things that people have said to me and others, their behaviors towards me and others, and numerous other things that have happened in the name of faith in Christ never ceases to amaze me.  Very little is about who they are called to serve.  It is most often very self-serving and all about the perceptions of others.
 

I hope this adds to the discussion.  If not then feel free to ignore or delete this post. 

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« Reply #74 on: Oct 21, 2011, 09:01AM »

To bring this full-circle to the original post.  I totally agree with T's quoted post. 

Little story from my own experience that I cannot get my mind around even after 5+ years to process.  Please forgive rambling...

I was serving as the on-call chaplain at one of the larger medical centers in the upper midwest.  The details don't matter but this fact does:  A engaged 20-something male on a motorcycle was killed when a semi truck pulled out in front of him.  The next 72 hours of the lives of those left behind were excruciatingly difficult.  I walked with them during hours 8-24.  The family knew he talked about and supported the idea of organ donation so after much conversation they decided to go in that direction.  The result of their choice to watch the lifeless body of this young man being kept alive until it was time for the organ harvest.  One of the last things I remember is walking into the room in ICU and standing at the foot of the bed.  The fiance' was on my right and his parents on my left.  The sounds of the machines to keep is body alive still remains with me.  We had a brief conversation, they left and I remained behind in the room. I told them I would stay with him until the team arrived.  One hour or so later I watched the helicopter take off with the gifts of life for others in their possession.  Later I learned that seven lives were saved because of his organs and the family's choices. 

If the original article or this event does not make a Christian question beliefs then I don't know what will. 

Those hard conversations and choices were very much grounded in the here and now.  So little of Christianity today has any concern for the here and now. 

Observations of Christianity in our world lead me to the following:
- There is little concern about today and the way people live in the hear and now when there is something better in the future/something better is found beyond this place.  It is almost as if Christianity is an emergency escape pod that gets us off of the face of this wretched place and gets us to heaven.
- There is little concern for others when salvation is all about "me" and very little about "we."  This is a hard truth of American Christianity shaped highly by fundamental Christianity


Observation from my side of the story as clergy:
Much more often than not I find those of other religious traditions, no religious tradition or those disenchanted with Christianity to be more concerned about loving, caring for and supporting others than those inside the Christian tradition.  More often than not those outside the Christian circle are living their lives in the here and now, not being pre-occpied with reaching heaven.  More often than not those outside the Church share more in common the message of Jesus than those who claim to be His followers.  More often than not the institution has very little for Jesus and is all about themselves.

And church members want to know what clergy walk away from the church or question their faith...

The things that people have said to me and others, their behaviors towards me and others, and numerous other things that have happened in the name of faith in Christ never ceases to amaze me.  Very little is about who they are called to serve.  It is most often very self-serving and all about the perceptions of others.
 

I hope this adds to the discussion.  If not then feel free to ignore or delete this post. 



thank you for sharing your thoughts. 

it seems to me that sociology and psychology are the most important topics for any human to understand.  they help to sort out what's real about our experiences in life.  religion, at its best, can help people to sort by creating a sense of a full/complete/sated emotional core, which informs better behavior.  i was fortunate to have an amazing teacher that i called my priest.  he was a wonderful man and thought globally....understood and articulated cultural differences marked either by time, geography or ethnicity...and encouraged self-examination.  he was an excellent guide in this life.  he illuminated the best of what religion has to offer.  unfortunately, humans fall prey to their own animal instincts and never take the wheel in determining their own thoughts, ideas and behaviors.  and how could they, without learning about the instinctive thoughts, ideas and behaviors we ALL share? 

i have since decided that it's not important to me if there is a magic man in the sky, as long as there's love in my life....both given and received.  mostly given.  father o'connor was an amazing human.  i love him.

dg
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« Reply #75 on: Oct 23, 2011, 07:47PM »

thank you for sharing your thoughts. 

it seems to me that sociology and psychology are the most important topics for any human to understand.  they help to sort out what's real about our experiences in life.  religion, at its best, can help people to sort by creating a sense of a full/complete/sated emotional core, which informs better behavior.  i was fortunate to have an amazing teacher that i called my priest.  he was a wonderful man and thought globally....understood and articulated cultural differences marked either by time, geography or ethnicity...and encouraged self-examination.  he was an excellent guide in this life.  he illuminated the best of what religion has to offer.  unfortunately, humans fall prey to their own animal instincts and never take the wheel in determining their own thoughts, ideas and behaviors.  and how could they, without learning about the instinctive thoughts, ideas and behaviors we ALL share? 

i have since decided that it's not important to me if there is a magic man in the sky, as long as there's love in my life....both given and received.  mostly given.  father o'connor was an amazing human.  i love him.

dg

I added a little emphasis to a line that caught my attention.  I would agree with the statement but counter with this:
Religion at its worst gives something for people to hide behind and not take responsibility for themselves and their actions towards others. It always has and continues to serve as an incredibly convenient scapegoat for millions of people.

Can the same be said of atheism? 
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« Reply #76 on: Oct 23, 2011, 08:29PM »

I added a little emphasis to a line that caught my attention.  I would agree with the statement but counter with this:
Religion at its worst gives something for people to hide behind and not take responsibility for themselves and their actions towards others. It always has and continues to serve as an incredibly convenient scapegoat for millions of people.

Can the same be said of atheism? 

i don't think it's fair to blame religion or atheism for the bad behavior of humans.  ignorance and lack of discipline are usually the impetus.  humans struggle as much for the survival of their egos as their physical survival.  delusion is their greatest tool to support and rationalize their destructive acts. 

since both atheists and believers are human, most of them will behave badly and use different delusions to justify their choices.  delusion is what we all have in common. 

DG
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« Reply #77 on: Oct 23, 2011, 08:53PM »

ignorance and lack of discipline are usually the impetus.
...
since both atheists and believers are human, most of them will behave badly and use different delusions to justify their choices. 
That certainly is a possibility, and certainly occurs to some degree across the board.  But ultimately we're talking about rationalizing.  If a person is determined to rationalize the irrational, they will do so, regardless of what belief system they choose to associate with.  But in general, the odds are a lot better with atheists because:

a) rational, critical thinking is at the heart of rejecting theism; and

b) those who come out as atheists pay a huge price in peer pressure, so there is a strong motivation to think through the belief system very thoroughly and not just accept doctrine as fact.

Nonetheless, that still leaves us with a chicken-and-egg imponderable.  Are people irrational because of religion or do irrational people form religions to buttress their irrationality?
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« Reply #78 on: Oct 23, 2011, 09:03PM »

That certainly is a possibility, and certainly occurs to some degree across the board.  But ultimately we're talking about rationalizing.  If a person is determined to rationalize the irrational, they will do so, regardless of what belief system they choose to associate with.  But in general, the odds are a lot better with atheists because:

a) rational, critical thinking is at the heart of rejecting theism; and

b) those who come out as atheists pay a huge price in peer pressure, so there is a strong motivation to think through the belief system very thoroughly and not just accept doctrine as fact.

Nonetheless, that still leaves us with a chicken-and-egg imponderable.  Are people irrational because of religion or do irrational people form religions to buttress their irrationality?

most humans only care about the delusions to which they're committed.  if religion is useful to buttress them, they'll use it.  if atheism is useful, they'll use that.  it's rarely about god and mostly about ego. 

there are lovely examples of humans that are both religious and atheist, as well. 

i'm just inspired to hear of a human doing good acts, no matter their beliefs.  true altruism is rare.  true compassion is rare.  selflessness is rare.

dg
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« Reply #79 on: Oct 23, 2011, 09:13PM »

i'm just inspired to hear of a human doing good acts, no matter their beliefs.  true altruism is rare.  true compassion is rare.  selflessness is rare.
I agree.  Here's a good example

This act of humanity needs no justification.  It is good no matter what theology inspires it.  In this particular case, it is definitely not a "church work" so to speak, but Bon Jovi speaks at least vaguely of the importance of faith.
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« Reply #80 on: Oct 24, 2011, 05:27AM »

i don't think it's fair to blame religion or atheism for the bad behavior of humans.

Actually the error is to separate religion from human behavior as if it's a Thing Unto Itself (reificiation - proper nounified Religion, rather than religion). Religion is a set of more or less identifiable human behaviors and ideas. Nothing more. It's part of our nature, like violence. Probably the biggest problem we have, overall, dealing with religion rationally is that our socialization has us reifying it, so we're not really considering religion when we think we are, we're thinking about Religion instead, and defending It because we're socialized to put It on a pedestal. If we don't reify religion and consider it for what it is--what makes religion religion rather than some other kind of social group--it makes quite a different impression. It can break the Religion spell we're put under through socialization.
 
 
ignorance and lack of discipline are usually the impetus.  humans struggle as much for the survival of their egos as their physical survival.  delusion is their greatest tool to support and rationalize their destructive acts.

It could be distance, but I see this as much more of a Western thing, and most particularly an American thing. We've become a nation of zealous, narcissistic ideologues.
 
 
since both atheists and believers are human, most of them will behave badly and use different delusions to justify their choices.  delusion is what we all have in common.

I'd say that's overly pessimistic--Byronic, in fact. It's just a very cynical side of the same coin of which it's so harshly judgmental.
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« Reply #81 on: Oct 24, 2011, 05:37AM »

a) rational, critical thinking is at the heart of rejecting theism; and
 
b) those who come out as atheists pay a huge price in peer pressure, so there is a strong motivation to think through the belief system very thoroughly and not just accept doctrine as fact.

There's precious little research on this, but one thing that stands out in what's available ... most who convert to Christianity (and presumably other religions--the dominant religion of the convert's culture, almost always) do so in response to a traumatic (or dramatic) emotional event--coping. Most who leave Christianity and become atheists and/or agnostics do so after a period of deliberation, often years, and usually including a lot of research and consideration. This was one of the distinctions that stood out in stark contrast between the two groups.
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« Reply #82 on: Oct 24, 2011, 06:00AM »

Bon Jovi speaks at least vaguely of the importance of faith.
I should point out that he is (possibly deliberately) unclear about the nature of this particular "faith".  It is faith in a god to make things better or is it more like faith in the goodness of people or faith in the human spirit?

It is clear he has been through -- or is in the process of a theological transformation.  I wouldn't put words in his mouth.  Certainly he is not in favor of organized religion.  Whether he rejects the idea of heavenly spirits is not clear.  I would simply point out that such a pronouncement could be very damaging to a well-earned career.  He really doesn't need protesters showing up everywhere he goes declaring he is the anti-Christ and the devil incarnate.  Such is the nature of the social pressure (i.e. bullying) applied by religions.
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