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[P]
Why do people believe in God?

By Dlugar in Op-Ed
Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:41:26 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

Why do people believe in God?

Why do most people on the earth believe in a supreme being of some sort, especially one who fails to manifest himself to us?


Why Religion?

It's obvious as we look around us that theism is a popular meme. Probably all of you have friends who are theists, and most of you probably have friends who are weekly church-goers. Many of you are likely theists yourselves. But why? Why religion? Why believe in the first place? Why do most people on the earth believe in a supreme being of some sort, especially one who fails to manifest himself to us?


The easiest answer is that most people were born into a religion of some sort and simply raised to be Catholics, or Hindus, or Muslims. In many cases they're taught not to question their beliefs--"blind faith" is the standard. Also, there are great social pressures to conform religiously.

Churches give us a feeling of community, and of friendship and support. Commercial sectors, the ease of travel, commuting, and a variety of other factors have all but destroyed the local neighborhood's value as a strong community. Organized religion fills that gap. It gives us a feeling that we belong; it gives us friends and leaders who we can look up to, and who we can rely on when times are hard. When living in an area where there exists a dominant faith, a person with differing beliefs can feel left out and even shunned. Many even convert to the dominant religion simply out of convenience.

But these are rather superficial answers, and concentrate more on a particular church than on a belief in God itself. There are many who believe in God but do not attend any particular church. There are likewise many who currently hold beliefs strikingly dissimilar to those with which they were raised--atheists who have become Christians, Christians who have become atheists, members raised in one Christian sect who are now members of another, or members of one religion who have now joined another or abandoned organized religion as a whole. But what makes these people believe? What evidence is there that God really exists?


For many people, simply looking at the world around us denotes that there is a God. Looking at the beauty of a sunset, or the complexity of the universe, or examining the astronomical odds that intelligent life could have arisen by mere chance, gives many people the overwhelming feeling that "something bigger" must be out there. Perhaps this feeling is why almost every culture on the planet has, at one time or another, developed a creation story--their explanation of how life came to be as it is today. Normally featured is some sort of external intelligence, a being who "created" the world, a person identified as God or one of the gods. This idea, that the complexity and intricacy of the universe implies a creator, is usually called the "Argument from Design"--and, of course, there exist many good, logical arguments against it.1 At the very least, the Argument from Design does not explain to us the nature of the Creator or whether, indeed, he continues to have any influence in our world.

But it is not my intention to attempt (futilely, I might add) to prove or disprove the existence of Deity, hence I will not spend my time debating the worth of various points. I merely would like to point out some of the reasons I see why people believe in God.

Another common thread among theists is some sort of belief in a continuation of life. Some believe that we existed in some form before we were born on this earth. Almost all believe that life will continue in some form after we die. Many believe in an "immortal soul", i.e. that our "I"--our "self", our consciousness--will in some form continue living forever. This belief probably arises from some sort of intuitive feeling of other lives, either before this one or after.

Critics might say that this "feeling" is simply a response to the evolutionary pressures of survival--our brains have this innate, genetically-coded need to survive, and hence we've invented a philosophy that will allow us to "survive" even after our death. Others point out that the concept of an "afterlife" was likely invented to explain the appearance of deceased relatives in dreams (often leading to the common practice of ancestor-worship). These theories would easily explain why the doctrine of the immortal soul is so widespread. However, it is just as likely that the different cultures did not develop this idea independently; perhaps they did all have the same origin. For example, many cultures in the world also have some sort of "flood" story. It seems more likely to me that these stories originated from a single source (perhaps divine, perhaps simply an actual "great flood" that did occur in history), than that the different cultures simply developed them independently. Likewise the yearning for immortality may perhaps have a divine source. (Or it could spring from thoughts implanted in us by the aliens who deposited us on this planet.)2


But the single strongest reason, I feel, for believing in God, comes from personal experience. (It also seems to be the only major reason (apart from social pressures or convenience) for changing religions.) Many people feel that God is watching out for them--they've discovered blessings in their lives because of keeping God's commandments, for example, or perhaps they've received powerful answers to prayers. They've heard voices of warning or had feelings of premonition, cautioning them against danger. They've had feelings of peace or happiness as they go to church or read the scriptures. Others have had other inexplicable, incommunicable "religious experiences". Some have even seen miracles, such as healing the sick or raising the dead. Some people experience miraculous visions, or have prophetic dreams. Perhaps words are given or ideas suddenly appear from an unknown source--a person says something or does something spectacular and admits that it felt as if "something (or someone) else" was working through him.

Such personal experiences are commonly found throughout the religious community. I've noticed myself that of the atheists I've known, most of them are atheists due to a complete lack of any such experiences or "evidences" of God's existence. Conversely, most of the strong theists I know have had many such experiences. Some rely almost wholly on the experiences of others, but even with such, they've experienced some little "evidences" of their own.

Perhaps the theists are just deluded or feigning these experiences. Perhaps the atheists have many such experiences but they choose to ignore them. Honestly, I don't really know. It seems likely to me that, truly, the theists do experience such things just as factually as the atheists don't.

But this brings up a very good question. Why not religion? Faced with this vast majority of theists, why not believe? What are potential problems with believing?


Why Not Religion?

As I mentioned above, the biggest problem seems to be a simple lack of evidence. Some people receive no answers to prayers, they see hoaxes instead of miracles, and when trying to adhere to some religious creed they end up more miserable than happy and peaceful. Another great hinderance is the sheer number of religions. The biggest problem with these "personal experiences" is that they don't seem to be limited to a particular sect or even a particular religion. I'm not sure if atheists themselves have ever heard "voices of warning" or had "feelings of premonition" and simply have some other explanation for them--but certainly worshipers in dissimilar faiths have had such experiences. When it comes to "prophetic dreams and visions," you even find contradictions among this vast sea of religion.

This is probably the biggest obstacle: in the quivering mass of contradicting religions (many even contradicting themselves), how is one supposed to find the truth? (As an aside, my recommendation is: pray to find the truth. God will lead you to it. If he doesn't, well, that's one heck of an excuse to use at Judgement Day. Just make certain you're prepared to follow him if he does lead you to it.)


Another phenomenon occurs in the academic world, which Richard Feynman examines in an essay entitled, "The Relation of Science and Religion". He notes that, "A young man, brought up in a religious family, studies a science, and as a result he comes to doubt--and perhaps later to disbelieve in--his father's God. Now, this is not an isolated example; it happens time and time again." He then poses the question: "Why does this young man come to disbelieve?" After discussing various answers that are not likely to be correct, Feynman then hits upon a major fault line.

... it is imperative in science to doubt; it is absolutely necessary, for progress in science, to have uncertainty as a fundamental part of your inner nature. To make progress in understanding, we must remain modest and allow that we do not know. Nothing is certain or proved beyond all doubt. ...

That is, if we investigate further, we find that the statements of science are not of what is true and what is not true, but statements of what is known to different degrees of certainty: "It is very much more likely that so and so is true than that it is not true"; or "such and such is almost certain but there is still a little bit of doubt"; or--at the other extreme--"well, we really don't know." Every one of the concepts of science is on a scale graduated somewhere between, but at neither end of, absolute falsity or absolute truth. ...

What happens, then, is that the young man begins to doubt everything because he cannot have it as absolute truth. So the question changes a little bit from "Is there a God?" to "How sure is it that there is a God?" This very subtle change is a great stroke and represents a parting of ways between science and religion. I do not believe a real scientist can ever believe in the same way again. Although there are scientists who believe in God, I do not believe that they think of God in the same way as religious people do. If they are consistent with their science, I think that they say something like this to themselves: "I am almost certain there is a God. The doubt is very small." That is quite different from saying, "I know that there is a God." I do not believe that a scientist can ever obtain that view--that really religious understanding, that real knowledge that there is a God--that absolute certainty which religious people have.3



(By the way, I still feel that one can honestly say, "I know that there is a God" the same way one says, "I know that China exists" even though he has never seen China. In reality, of course, he's really saying "It is almost certain that China exists. The doubt is very small." But humans don't insist on rigidity in language.)

Feynman notes that it's not usually the existence of God that comes under question first. Usually the student first begins to doubt "special tenets, ... or details of the religious doctrine." And what is the area of religion most vulnerable to a scientific attack? I like to call it "God as spackling paste."

"[It] happens all the time. Somebody comes up with an incomplete explanation of the Universe that doesn't include God; then, some theologian uses 'God' as a sort of spackling paste to fill in the holes, and manages to convince others that that's part of the religion; then, when in due course the quest for knowledge discovers the real explanation, there's this big fight. It happened with astronomy and it happened with human evolution. Would you really want it to happen here?"
 -- FAQ about the Meaning of Life4


In most religions, there aren't answers specified for common, metaphysical questions. For example, the Bible says nothing about the orbits of celestial bodies, nor does it explain DNA and genetics. But there are some who take ambiguous statements from their Holy Writ and expand them into a complex, metaphysical answer (like Joshua's statement, "Sun, stand thou still"5 turning into the Catholic Church's condemnation of certain astronomers).

Inevitably, some authority, in whatever particular church it may be, will make a scripturally-supported statement that later turns out to be provably false. Perhaps for a while, staunch followers will defend the statement with great rhetoric and zeal, but eventually, truth will prevail. And when it does, it is almost always disastrous to the faith of the aforementioned young man, who has already come to doubt. With his newly-found "scientific mind", he almost subconsciously starts creating new hypotheses and testing their validity against the "religious truth" which he has been brought up not to question.

In some cases, theism wins out, although organized religion may be a casualty along the way. But for those lacking that personal confirmation of God's existence previously mentioned, it may be the final shattering of their belief.


And You?

What about you? Why do you believe? Or why don't you? Are the theists simply confused, deluded, sheep-like people willing to believe whatever is told them? Are the atheists egotistical infidel recalcitrants who would stubbornly refuse to believe even if an angel appeared and proclaimed God's existence?

Like I mentioned previously, I believe that theists believe in God because they have experienced many evidences supporting that conclusion, and likewise atheists disbelieve because the evidence they've seen points entirely the other way. But why such disparate evidences, enough so as to cause such a great rift among the people? That is the question to which I do not know the answer.



1 The Atheism Web: Common Arguments
2 "Who is Xenu?" http://www.xenu.net/archive/leaflet/xenuleaf.htm
3 Feynman, Richard. "The Relation of Science and Religion". Reprinted in "The Pleasure of Finding Things Out", 1999.
4 FAQ about the Meaning of Life
5 Joshua x:12

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I consider myself ...
o atheist 46%
o agnostic 28%
o Judeo-Christian 12%
o other monotheist 3%
o polytheist 2%
o I don't know 6%

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o FAQ about the Meaning of Life
o Joshua x:12
o Also by Dlugar


Display: Sort:
Why do people believe in God? | 1048 comments (1038 topical, 10 editorial, 0 hidden)
You're a squirrel (2.62 / 16) (#2)
by debacle on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 05:20:01 AM EST

And the first acorn you ever come into contact with wallops you on the head like your mother just bitchslapped you. You go on the rest of your life hating acorns.

OR

The first acorn you ever come into contact with is one you eat. You go on the rest of your life eating acorns.

Now apply that to people and religion.

And then vote this article down.

It tastes sweet.

That's not it (4.33 / 3) (#3)
by Confusion on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 05:22:10 AM EST

Whether people like or dislike religion often does not depend on their first contact with it, since they have been immersed in it since they were young. Yet, later on they began to doubt whether they should be eating acorns.

Thus, vote it up.
--
Any resemblance between the above and reality is purely coincidental.
[ Parent ]
I wasn't talking about liking or disliking God. (2.00 / 2) (#6)
by debacle on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 05:34:23 AM EST

The fact is, children don't start off believing in any sort of pedophile's-king up in the sky who died on a cross and was born illegitimate to some chick who somehow had fair skin, even though she lived in Israel two thousand years ago.

They start off thinking snakes are neat, not evil, and that you can piss whereever you want, because that's just the way it is and why change it?

So, if you teach them about God and all that, they believe in God and all that. If you teach them science and evolution and big bang and mitosis, then  they usually have an aversion to God.

Not many of them believe that "allegorical bible" bullshit.

It tastes sweet.
[ Parent ]

I think my argument still holds, (5.00 / 2) (#19)
by Confusion on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 07:11:35 AM EST

but perhaps I didn't explain well enough. Even if you teach them about religion and not mention anything scientific during the first ten years, then still they will start getting doubts once they learn about science through other ways than their parents. And they, immersed in religion and all, still start to get doubts. Even Amish teens loose their faith. Thus, while it does matter how they are raised, it's not the all-important factor and I thought you were arguing that parental education is all that matters.
--
Any resemblance between the above and reality is purely coincidental.
[ Parent ]
then they grow (none / 0) (#41)
by TACBAF on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 09:19:12 AM EST

and most of them dont think about the matter and dont beleive because its easier not to and besides all their freinds do to and since they dont have the strength to go on their own they dont either. So they arm themselves with a bunch of tottally unrealistic and unbased accusations and rebel just for rebelling never even thinking about what they believe in.. Think before you Post!

[ Parent ]
They start of thinking snakes are neat? (none / 0) (#177)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:42:05 PM EST

Really. I guess you never met my daughter then.

"Daddy! Daddy! Kill it! Kill it!" - Mary Heinz, age 4.


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
My daughter: (none / 0) (#216)
by odaiwai on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:08:31 PM EST

My Daughter: After discovering that she's afraid of snakes (just like her mother) but that daddy quite likes snake soup (hey, it's good for you and tastes like... (not chicken) Chinese mushroom soup.), she says "Aiee! Daddy! Snake! You eat!" I just hope I never run across a cobra with her if I haven't got a wok with me. dave " *swing* *stun* *fry* "
-- "They're chefs! Chefs with chainsaws!"
[ Parent ]
ROTFL. (none / 0) (#218)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:11:04 PM EST

The funny thing is Mary is quite taken with spiders. I caught a particularly big and hairy one in our bathroom by scooping it into a plastic box and she admired it for an hour before I took pity and let it go outside...


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
One more thing: (5.00 / 1) (#7)
by debacle on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 05:35:24 AM EST

Acorn pancakes, if you've never tried them, make a point of it.

It tastes sweet.
[ Parent ]
it's not that simple (4.00 / 4) (#4)
by tashw on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 05:28:59 AM EST

And the first thought of the subject that pops into your head explains this very complex subject wholly

OR

maybe there's more to it after all?

Vote that post down.

[ Parent ]

Heh. (none / 0) (#8)
by debacle on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 05:37:35 AM EST

I didn't mean it exactly like that, but sure.

You're assuming that the squirrels deified the oak trees in the first place.

Oak tree gods, what a crackpot!

And by the way, "And the first thought of the subject that pops into your head explains this very complex subject wholly" doesn't make much sense unless.

It tastes sweet.
[ Parent ]

human beings are not squirrels. (5.00 / 1) (#17)
by Ward57 on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 06:49:08 AM EST

Human beings have a concious mind (or if you insist that squirrels have a concious mind, a much more capable one), which is capable of rejecting a previously held hypothesis if it believes it to be incorrect.

[ Parent ]
So you're telling me (1.25 / 4) (#23)
by debacle on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 08:16:13 AM EST

That a squirrel will continue to jump out of trees, thinking it can fly, then plummeting to the ground, and injuring itself?

Huh, retard.

It tastes sweet.
[ Parent ]

No, but they sure are squirelly. [nt] (none / 0) (#40)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 09:15:35 AM EST


--
I only read Usenet for the articles.


[ Parent ]
What hypothesis? (none / 0) (#398)
by Pistol on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 06:04:51 PM EST

You're welcome to claim people can reject incorrect hypotheses, but I don't see anywhere that you've actual shown people to have these hypotheses in the first place. And why would people come up with any hypothesis about god when there is no reason for rejecting a false hypothesis that god doesn't exist?

[ Parent ]
What is obvious about this? (none / 0) (#913)
by Seen not heard on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 08:14:45 AM EST

Why do you suppose that squirrels have no consciousness, but people have? Because squirrels don't talk? Because you're not a squirrel?

[ Parent ]
Why do people believe... (4.00 / 6) (#5)
by mreardon on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 05:31:55 AM EST

...they are seperate from "God/Self"?

A better question to ask, surely, before you can question the existence of "God/Self" is "Who am I?". Until this question is answered it is folly, like an eye trying to see itself.



Hippies are queer (1.18 / 16) (#9)
by debacle on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 05:40:39 AM EST

Unless you've got a dot on your forehead, none of this third world religion crap, got it?

Hehe...I'm such an asshole.

It tastes sweet.
[ Parent ]

Er, it's philosophy (none / 0) (#10)
by mreardon on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 05:47:26 AM EST

and, IMHO, first rate at that.

But the same idea can be found universally. "Man, know thyself." "The Kingdom of heaven is within...", etc., etc.!

[ Parent ]

walk over to a mirror (n/t) (none / 0) (#26)
by rankor on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 08:48:58 AM EST



[ Parent ]
not quite :-( (none / 0) (#51)
by mreardon on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 10:35:45 AM EST

That is a reflection - but not the eye itself! This is my point about the "who am I?" question. Things we identify as ourself (physical body, emotions, thoughts/mind) are not.

[ Parent ]
dance naked in front of a mirror for a ½ hour(nt) (none / 0) (#456)
by banffbug on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 08:28:06 PM EST

nt

[ Parent ]
I see myself in the mirror, not a 'reflection' (none / 0) (#915)
by Seen not heard on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 08:24:36 AM EST

I identify my body, emotions, and thoughts/mind as myself. If I had a different body and mind, I would be a different person. That is how it seems to me, and I see NOTHING unreasonable about it. It is the most intuitive thing in the world.

What is a triangle with two sides? What is the set {A, B, C} minus A, B and C - I mean what member, not the empty set? It is not hard to set yourself totally intractable problems.

Also, it's not easy to see what 'see' means at all, if all the seeing I ever do is not really seeing.

[ Parent ]

body mind thoughts (none / 0) (#931)
by mreardon on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 01:30:38 PM EST

I identify my body, emotions, and thoughts/mind as myself. If I had a different body and mind, I would be a different person.
If you identify your thoughts as yourself then surely you are a different person with each thought/emotion/physical body change.

Clearly this is not the case.

Just about everyone identifies their thoughts/emotions/physical body as themself. I certainly do. It is very seductive to do so. But it is surely an error.

My point is that the problem is not totally intractable. But it is beyond the mind to solve ( just as it is beyond the eye to see itself; that is not what it was designed to do ).

The various meditation techniques are a classic pointer toward something beyond the mind ( as well as the emotions and the body).

[ Parent ]

Language (none / 0) (#1010)
by Seen not heard on Wed Jul 02, 2003 at 11:41:44 AM EST

Surely you don't take 'my thoughts' to be just whatever thoughts I am  having, say, right now, but all of my thoughts together, the entire set of my thoughts. Similarly, my body (which I don't, incidentally, take to be interestingly distinct from thoughts/emotion/etc, only referring to different ordinary properties of me) isn't a single-state snapshot, but identified over all kinds of state changes.

If you are working from some notion of identity that allows no multiple-forms-of-the-same-thing, then you also don't think that one object's properties can be changed, or that one object can be changed into another. If I tell you that I can replace the engine in your car, you might protest that it would be a different car.

What I am saying here is actually so shallow that you are overshooting it. It is true and sensible to say that your car is the same car whether or not I replace the engine. Put in another way, virtually everyone will look at you funny if you make such a statement without attaching some kind of interesting or mystical thesis to it. This doesn't even get down to saying anything interesting about the essence of your car. It is just to say that phrases like 'It's the same car' see right through which exact engine is in it, as an integral part of how they work.

 

[ Parent ]

Why not believe...... (4.85 / 14) (#11)
by rdskutter on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 06:09:53 AM EST

Many athiests, like myself, see religion being used as a tool to control groups of people. Leaders use religion to ratify actions that would otherwise be considered absoultely horrendous to anyone with a secure code of morals.

I have never had any miraculous expericences that make me feel that I have to believe, I only see religion being used against people as a tool for people who want power over other people and I choose to abstain. I can think for myself. I don't need somebody else to tell me that War is justified because of what is written in some book that may or may not be the sacred word of some deity.

In short, religion is dangerous. It conveniently strips people of the need to think things through using their own moral code. Actions can be justified by one persons subjective interpretation of the religious code and then are automatically ratified by followers of that religion.

I want no part in it.

BEEN A BIT CARELESS HAVEN'T WE? - Mr Death.

That isn't an argument (4.25 / 4) (#13)
by jjayson on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 06:24:55 AM EST

The fact that I can use stories of the Holocost to justify persecuting Germans doesn't mean the Holocost didn't happen. Just the same, the fact that you can use religion to in various ways doesn't change the truth of any of them.
--
"Fuck off, preferably with a bullet, if you can find one that's willing to defile itself by being in your head for a split second." - Parent ]
"the truth of any of them" (none / 0) (#15)
by mreardon on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 06:36:17 AM EST

What do you mean by this? Surely this "truth" could be taken as subjective as different people would answer this differently?

[ Parent ]
yep.. (5.00 / 4) (#395)
by codepoet on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 06:00:07 PM EST

I think that's the idea.  Let's simplify his argument.

X is a truth.
Y is a bad thing.
People Z use X to defend Y.

Z uses X to justify Y.  Y, being bad, makes people question X.  This in no way really negates X, but, rather, should make one question the motives of Z before the truth of X.

Example:

The German government are no longer Nazis.
The German government caused the Holocaust.
Anti-German morons use the Holocaust to keep hating Germans.

Since the Holocaust was caused by a previous version of the government, it's silly to use this argument against the government.  The people to be questioned should be those that keep using the argument to push German hatred (it exists...) rather than the truth that the government has changed.

So, to put this in practice:

X = Religion.
Y = Mass murders, wars, etc.
Z = Fanatics.

You say: Since Z uses X to promote Y, X cannot be true.

I say: Since Z uses X to promote Y, question Z's motive since X is defined as true.

This only works, of course, if you're religious (hi!) and have more faith in your religion than the people that comprise it.  For instance, the Pope recently denounced the war on Iraq (try not to reply off-topic here), which I, as a Good Little Catholic (TM) read.  I promply disagreed.  Fact is that's an opinion released to tell people How It Is (R) but I simply disagree.  I'm allowed.  I've discovered that God really DID give me Free Will...

More people need to see that.  Religion isn't the problem: stupid people who believe anything are.

Take that last bit however you want, of course.

"The French will only be united under the threat of danger. Nobody can simply bring together a country that has 265 kinds of cheese." - Charles De Gaulle,
[ Parent ]

Bravo... (1.00 / 1) (#426)
by Francis on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 07:38:04 PM EST

I think the point you are making here should be copied and pasted throughout the discussions generated by this article...
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Insults are the first and last arguments of fools. -- Unknown
[ Parent ]

Very excellent post (none / 0) (#516)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 11:40:52 PM EST

Excellent post! Nice journey into syllogistic logic.

Just a quick question: as a "Good Little Catholic (TM)" don't you believe the Pope is infallible? Why would you disagree?

Thanks.

Yours with an inquiring mind,
Ta bù shì dà yú

---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]

Infallibility (5.00 / 1) (#545)
by codepoet on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 01:31:36 AM EST

The Pope is, specifically, "infallible on matters of faith when speaking from the chair of Peter."

In other words, he chooses when to declare that something is, without a doubt, true.  John Paul II has done this only once to my knowledge.  At all other times it's simply an old wise man sailing through his eighth decade.

"The French will only be united under the threat of danger. Nobody can simply bring together a country that has 265 kinds of cheese." - Charles De Gaulle,
[ Parent ]

You fail to make the connection between... (5.00 / 1) (#690)
by nyet on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 04:07:46 PM EST

... religion and lack of critical thought.

One of the basic tenets of religion is to forgo looking for "logical" answers, and instead to trust in "faith".

As such, once you speak about religion, you are denying the usefulness of critical thought and logic. You can argue all you want that the blind acceptance and religion are orthogonal, but they are VERY tightly coupled; you cannot have one without the other.

Faith IS blind acceptance, and no, a "faith" in science is a complete misnomer; the only faith involved in science is that of consistency. The orignal article even provides this basic misunderstanding of science.

(By the way, I still feel that one can honestly say, "I know that there is a God" the same way one says, "I know that China exists" even though he has never seen China. In reality, of course, he's really saying "It is almost certain that China exists. The doubt is very small." But humans don't insist on rigidity in language.)
The faith is NOT that there exists a spectrum of probabilies of China's existence (although the concept of proportions of doubt is a good one), but that one could, with enough effort, verify for themselves that China exists by getting on a plane and visiting.

Science is the same way; provide the skeptic with a list of steps to come to their own conclusions. Religion provides one with NO such mechanism; when there are questions and skepticisms, there is only the response "have faith".

*You* may be an exception to the rule, but by and large, religion generally requires a combination of 1) ignorance (i.e. the "unknown" is suitably large that only "God" can explain the gaps in understanding) 2) a genetic proclivity to seeing visions and having "religious experiences" (there is a section of the brain devoted to this) 3) the belief that logic, math and science are insufficient to model reality.

While the last condition is common among all groups (religious and athiest alike), the others are not. As such, the group "stupid people who believe anything" are strongly represented in the religious. I have no doubt you will argue that this is prejudicial, but there is strong evidence that the gullible tend to be religious.



[ Parent ]

logic (none / 0) (#700)
by mreardon on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 07:07:58 PM EST

Aren't you in danger of turning logic into a thing of worship/religion here? Or to put it another way: Aren't you putting too much faith in your logic?

It is clear that you hold it in high regard. But, have you never had the experience of being illogical while under the impression/delusion that you were completely logical?

There is a time and a place for faith and logic but I would not worship either, nor see them as mutually exclusive.

[ Parent ]

Objective/subjective reality (5.00 / 1) (#738)
by nyet on Sun Jun 22, 2003 at 03:29:19 AM EST

Naturally I do not deny the possibility of self delusion; anybody who thinks otherwise is a fool. The senses can be fooled, emotion clouds reason, memories are constantly altered and/or manufactured wholesale; fallibility is a fundamental part of the human experience.

I have no "faith" per se in logic; only a belief that logic/science yields more reliable results than prayer/faith, a supposition that is strongly backed by centuries of evidence; you trust a structural engineer to build your bridge, you trust an aerospace engineer to build your plane, you trust an astrophysicist to guide your spacecraft, you trust a geologist to find oil. Your local minister is as ill equipped for these tasks as the Pope.

You may argue there are other parts of reality that are NOT governed by the rules of physics. That may well be true: logic is simply a tool we use to model reality; the only question is that of sufficiency. The religious believe the areas of the map marked "There Be Dragons Here" is where God resides and are satisfied to stay at home and pray that the Dragons do not leave their home and raid the village. The cartographer explores and maps the unknown, so that others can follow without fear of being burned alive.

[ Parent ]

science v faith (2.00 / 1) (#762)
by mreardon on Sun Jun 22, 2003 at 12:30:25 PM EST

Your comments echo the old clash between science and religion which has always had me confused. After all, are both not on a quest for the same thing:- truth?

Just as I would not ask my local minister (whoever he or she is) to help me find oil. I would not ask a geoligist to help me prepare for death if I were to have a terminal illness. I would probably prefer to study Krishnamurti or "The Tibetan book of the Dead" or such texts.

Your view of religion is a bit 18th Century for my taste. Not that I would have ever thought myself standing up for religion.

After all, science must have its' own "There be dragons", surely. Anybody who thinks otherwise is surely also a fool. We do not understand all the laws of physics, yet. So how can one argue for or against "there are other parts of reality that are NOT governed by the rules of physics".

There is no religion (or logic) higher than truth.

[ Parent ]

Arrogant and foolish (1.00 / 1) (#720)
by cr8dle2grave on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 10:47:24 PM EST

a genetic proclivity to seeing visions and having "religious experiences" (there is a section of the brain devoted to this)

No, there is not a "section of the brain" devoted to this and any supposition of a "gentic proclivity" to having religious experience is just that, speculation--mostly baseless at this point. Anyhow, the "God Spot" gets us no closer to understanding the nature of religious experience than the observation that taking certain psychotropic substances can cause "religious experiences," which is to say nowhere at all.

And as for your arrogant suppositions, I assure you that there are many ardent believers in some religious faith or another both more intelligent and better educated than you are.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Arrogance? Please, spare me. (none / 0) (#735)
by nyet on Sun Jun 22, 2003 at 03:19:01 AM EST

"And as for your arrogant suppositions, I assure you that there are many ardent believers in some religious faith or another both more intelligent and better educated than you are." Such as yourself, Mr. Pot? I am fully aware of my limitations, and have met many, many people smarter than myself. Several were religious. *Far* more were atheist. Anecdoal evidence, yes, but I'm not as naive enough to think that either a) nobody is smarter than me or b) everybody smarter than me is an atheist.

[ Parent ]
Huh? (none / 0) (#740)
by cr8dle2grave on Sun Jun 22, 2003 at 03:49:54 AM EST

Such as yourself, Mr. Pot?

In the first place, I'm not a believer so even if I were more intelligent and better educated than you, I wouldn't fall into class of religious faithful who are. And it is the class of intelligent and educated believers who are in question here.

You attributed religious belief to ignorance and some unspecified "genetic proclivity," did you not? Doesn't acknowledging that there are religious faithful more intelligent and better educated than yourself undercut that argument? Or are you including yourself in the class of people stupid and ignorant enough to be duped into believing religious nonsense?

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
the only absolute is that there are no absolutes (none / 0) (#742)
by nyet on Sun Jun 22, 2003 at 04:12:43 AM EST

"Doesn't acknowledging that there are religious faithful more intelligent and better educated than yourself undercut that argument?"

Possibly. But it does nothing to undercut the argument that the more credulous an individual, the more likely he is to be religious. I suppose your argument *should* be that the gullible are likely to be unskeptical of just about anything, whether true or false, so singling out religion as an example provides no useful data.

"Or are you including yourself in the class of people stupid and ignorant enough to be duped into believing religious nonsense?"

Sure. Why not? I could be duped into anything, including the obviously silly notion that God does not exist.

[ Parent ]

Nothing obvious about it (none / 0) (#919)
by Seen not heard on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 08:37:22 AM EST

And your subject, though catchy, cannot survive the light of day even on the face of it. Why say silly things like 'horses are not horses,' ever? Do you think that is deep? Even relevant?

[ Parent ]
Everything in moderation, including moderation (none / 0) (#963)
by nyet on Wed Jun 25, 2003 at 03:18:17 PM EST

Today is trite comment day!

[ Parent ]
Your logic is your faith... (4.00 / 1) (#726)
by Francis on Sun Jun 22, 2003 at 01:13:04 AM EST

As such, once you speak about religion, you are denying the usefulness of critical thought and logic. You can argue all you want that the blind acceptance and religion are orthogonal, but they are VERY tightly coupled; you cannot have one without the other.

Religion makes no statement whatsoever about the usefulness of critical thought and logic, except to say that it is insufficient to explain the nature of our existence. And it seems to me that science and religion are not at odds on this question. Religion purports to explain the nature of our existence and the existence of the spiritual, and science explains observable phenomenon in the physical world. No real scientist would claim that it was within the scope of science to draw conclusions about the existence, or the nature, so to speak, of supernatural phenomena. Religion (Judeo-Christian) does not presume to explain the workings of nature, so why do some insist that science must explain, or disprove, the supernatural? It is, by it's own precepts, outside the scope of science to do such a thing.

Faith IS blind acceptance, and no, a "faith" in science is a complete misnomer; the only faith involved in science is that of consistency. The orignal article even provides this basic misunderstanding of science.

You overstate the differences between religion and science here. As I said, religion purports to explain the nature of our existence; but yes, one must have faith to accept this explanation. But science is no more equipped to explain our existence logically than religion is. The job of science is to observe phenomena, to record those observations and draw conclusions. To quote C.S. Lewis:

Every scientific statement in the long run, however complicated it looks, really means something like, "I pointed the telescope to such and such a part of the sky at 2:20 AM on January 15th and saw so-and-so," or, "I put some of this stuff in a pot and heated it to such and such a temperature and it did so-and-so." Do not think I am saying anything against science: I am only saying what its job is. And the more scientific a man is, the more (I believe) he would agree with me that this is the job of science--and a very useful and necessary job it is too. But why anything comes to be there at all, and whether there is anything behind the thing that science observes--something of a different kind--this is not a scientific question. If there is "Something Behind," then it will have to remain altogether unknown to men or else make itself known in some other way... After all, it is really a matter of common sense. Supposing science ever became so complete that it knew everything in the whole universe. Is it not plain that the questions, "Why is there a universe?" "Why does it go on as it does?" "Has it any meaning?" would remain just as they were?
Put simply, a scientific theory of the nature of our existence requires just as much faith as a religious one. No matter what science observes, the question of "Why?" will perpetually remain.

There is a very interesting essay, entitled "Retelling the Story of Science," by Mr. Stephen M. Barr in the March issue of "First Things." Here is an excerpt that bears much relevance to this discussion:

So we see in science something akin to religious faith. The scientist has confidence in the intelligibility of the world. He has questions about nature. And he expects--no, more than expects, he is absolutely convinced--that these questions have intelligible answers. The fact that he must seek those answers proves that they are not in sight. The fact that he continues to seek them in spite of all difficulties testifies to his unconquerable conviction that those answers, although not presently in sight, do in fact exist. Truly, the scientist too walks by faith and not by sight.

The scientist is convinced that there are certain acts of insight, which he has not yet achieved, and which indeed no human being may ever achieve, that would satisfy a rational mind on the questions he has raised about nature. Faith in God is an extension of this attitude. The believer in God is convinced that reality is intelligible, not merely on this or that point, but through and through...

...The mystery (of religion) is not impenetrable to intellect or unintelligible in itself; rather, it is not fully intelligible to us.

*You* may be an exception to the rule, but by and large, religion generally requires a combination of 1) ignorance (i.e. the "unknown" is suitably large that only "God" can explain the gaps in understanding) 2) a genetic proclivity to seeing visions and having "religious experiences" (there is a section of the brain devoted to this) 3) the belief that logic, math and science are insufficient to model reality.

Regarding #1: The Judeo-Christian God has little or nothing to say about the "unknown," and a cursory examination of Biblical text would reveal this fact. Again, as stated by Mr. Barr in his essay:

Now, while Biblical religion has something to say about the existence of a natural order (which is simply a corollary of its teachings on God and creation), it has for the most part not regarded itself as having much to say about the detailed workings of that natural order. The materialist's notion that religion is about providing mythological explanations of nature in the absence of real scientific understanding--the "God of the gaps" idea--is, as applied to biblical religion at any rate, itself a piece of mythology.
Regarding #2: I'm afraid I can't speak intelligently about visions or "religious experiences." Though I am a believer (Christian), I do not "suffer" from this "proclivity," as you call it. Nor do the majority of Christians that I know. I think there are those whose faith is anchored in such emotional experiences, but I think they number fewer than you estimate.

Regarding #3: I think I addressed this sufficiently above. Science has limits imposed upon itself by its very nature. There are questions which simply exist outside of its scope. If you feel that there are no such questions, and that given enough time science will conquer all, then you are in fact acting in as much faith as religion.

As such, the group "stupid people who believe anything" are strongly represented in the religious. I have no doubt you will argue that this is prejudicial, but there is strong evidence that the gullible tend to be religious.

As cr8dle2grave so aptly pointed out, your arrogance here hardly warrants a response. What do you say to someone who says "I'm smarter than you?" Most people either laugh at them or pity them, or both.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Insults are the first and last arguments of fools. -- Unknown
[ Parent ]

You've completely missed my point (1.00 / 3) (#18)
by rdskutter on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 07:05:30 AM EST

.......or you're a troll.


BEEN A BIT CARELESS HAVEN'T WE? - Mr Death.
[ Parent ]

Science is dangerous. (2.75 / 8) (#39)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 09:14:49 AM EST

It conveniently strips people of the need to think things through using their own experiences by telling them that someone else did it 200 years ago and they shouldn't waste time repeating the process.

Not to mention that athiestic societies have managed to kill more people in the 20th century than religion did in the previous 10.


--
I only read Usenet for the articles.


[ Parent ]
You can just use science (4.60 / 5) (#48)
by DominantParadigm on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 10:29:21 AM EST

You don't have to study it.

It conveniently strips people of the need to think things through using their own experiences by telling them that someone else did it 200 years ago and they shouldn't waste time repeating the process.

But if you do study the sciences, you spend a lot of years recreating all those results just so you know they're true. In short, your argument is hilarious, and hilariously wrong.



Caller:So you're advocating bombing innocent children? Howard Stern:Yes, of course!


[ Parent ]
You can say the same thing for religion. (2.33 / 3) (#61)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 10:50:45 AM EST

So why is blind faith in Science good, but blind faith in Religion bad?


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
You can say the same thing for religion. (4.33 / 3) (#79)
by Weembles on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 11:54:55 AM EST

If it were blind faith it would be just as bad. However, the whole point behind science is the avoidance of blind faith. Scientific thought is necessarily sceptical.

[ Parent ]
Sigh. Right. No blind faith in religion. Sure. (2.33 / 3) (#89)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:03:01 PM EST

Tell me, when was the last time you tested the speed of light for yourself? What's that? You never did? So, you're taking it on faith that people aren't lying to you?


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
1999 and 2000 (5.00 / 4) (#123)
by NoBeardPete on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:53:38 PM EST

I measured the speed of light in 1999. I thought through the apparatus we used to test everything, did the calculations, and set it all up myself (with the help of my excellent lab partner). As I recall we were off of accepted figures by about 20%. If I remained skeptical, I could put in the effort to build more and more precisely aligned and more elaborate aparatus, and repeat the experiment, in order to confirm a more exact number for myself. I also got to measure plank's constant (three different ways, actually), the universal gravitational constant, the charge of the electron, and more. I got to confirm that the behavior of the real world is as predicted by scientific theory on a gross level, not just measure a few constants. I got to plot out the shape of our galaxy, and fiddle with superconductors. CP conservation is violated. Non classical phenomena that are predicted by quantum physics exist. Physical particles can be made to interfere with themselves, just like waves in water.

I know all of this stuff not just because I read it in a book, or because some teacher told me about it. I know this because I tested it for myself. I put together experiments, ran the experiments, and thought through the data. While some of these experiments require expensive materials to conduct, many of them could be performed by anyone with fifty bucks and a determination to check this stuff out for themselves. If you want to measure the speed of light, I can explain several different ways to do so that should cost you less than $50 or so.


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

Sweet. (2.75 / 4) (#135)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:05:46 PM EST

Sounds like a fun class (I assume it was a class).

But the point remains, most people have accepted the speed of light on blind faith - the faith that you, NoBeardPete, aren't lying to them. And while most of the principles of Science can be tested by a sufficiently trained Skeptic most people don't have the time to achieve that training. For example, are you planning to prove that photosynthesis works the way you were told? Finally, Science begins with some assumptions (as all logical systems must do) that simply cannot be proved by Science (as no logical system can prove its own postulates). Most notably Science assumes that (a) the universe is a rational, coherent system and (b) the human mind is capable of understanding that system.


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
Incorrect (3.00 / 1) (#173)
by eyespots on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:36:26 PM EST

Most notably Science assumes that (a) the universe is a rational, coherent system and (b) the human mind is capable of understanding that system.

Science only assumes that (a) Some parts of the universe are a rational, coherent system, and (b) that the human mind is capable of understand those parts that are.

There's a big difference between the two. Never does science assume that all of the universe isn't coherent.

And to address your earlier comments, the difference between Science and Religion is religion asks you accept various things that you have the inability to prove correct/incorrect. Science, on the other hand, provides previous evidence for its conclusions, and fully welcomes others to prove/disprove its conclusions.

[ Parent ]

Uhhh. no no. (5.00 / 1) (#246)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:36:53 PM EST

Science only assumes that (a) Some parts of the universe are a rational, coherent system, and (b) that the human mind is capable of understand those parts that are.

So given that physicists are asserting that they have a handle on how the entire universe was created, which parts of it are you claiming as outside of science?


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
Hello, Mr. Straw Man. (none / 0) (#400)
by Qarl on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 06:08:11 PM EST

Find me a scientist who claims knowledge of how the phenomenon we call "sentience" was created, or for that matter who has a theory of gravitation (how fast does it travel, what particles cause it) that isn't still totally uncertain, then you can tell me "physicists are asserting that they have a handle on how the entire universe was created".

Not only are large parts of existence (sentience) outside the scope of current science, but no one is claiming that everything within the scope of science (gravity) is explained yet.

So there's plenty of subject material that still falls outside of science.

--Carl
[ Parent ]

Find me a scientist (none / 0) (#467)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 08:41:41 PM EST

who claims we cannot know how sentience is created. there's a difference between things we do not know now and your claiming that Science admits that there are things it cannot know.

Science assumes that we will learn everything eventually, that we are capable of learning everything, eventually. That's a pretty damn big assumption.


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
Making this up as you go along? (none / 0) (#477)
by Qarl on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 09:12:01 PM EST

I'm sure there are some kooks out there who believe that, but that's most definitely not a requisite for being a scientist. There are plenty of scientists who believe and admit that there is more to existence than science, and that some questions can never be answered by it. Take, for instance, the many many scientists who are practicing members of organized religions.

As for a scientist who claims we cannot know how sentience is created, there are probably plenty of them, too. I'll bet most would admit that science cannot answer on the problem of an afterlife or immortal soul, and other such metaphysical (is that the right word?) questions.

Not every scientist is a die-hard atheist, and not everyone believes that bunsen burners and particle accelerators will yield the answers to all of humanity's questions. That's an assumption some wackos make, it's not an assumption made by "science" in general.

--Carl
[ Parent ]

You really should try paying attention. (none / 0) (#490)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 10:16:18 PM EST

I ain't "making it up as I go along" dude, my argument hasn't changed since the first post - you just didn't understand what you were replying to.

As for what science does and does not require, I think you need to brush up on your scientific principles. As for what scientists believe, I never said that all scientists are athiests. Again, try paying attention.


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
OTOH, religion assumes.. (4.00 / 3) (#494)
by zcat on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 10:28:51 PM EST

Science builds a simple model of how things appear to work based on all available evidence, and then tries to test those assumptions. The current model should NEVER be considered absolute. If you can find new evidence (reproducable results) that don't fit the current model, science will accept that the model is incomplete and try to find a better one.

Science doesn't claim to have all the answers, it's just a consistent method for working towards the answers.

Religion makes huge assumptions (the Earth is flat, stationary, and  at the center of the universe, for example) assuming that those assumptions can never be disproved. When new evidence is found religion first tries to bury the evidence and discredit the discoverers.

When the evidence eventually becomes overwhelming religion decides that large parts of "God's Holy Word" don't have to be interpreted literally (because if they were they'd fly in the face of irrefutable evidence), and starts denying that they ever had a problem with the new evidence.

Religion claims to have all the answers, but clearly doesn't.

[ Parent ]

I always thought (none / 0) (#614)
by iasius on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 09:03:03 AM EST

science was about learning what can be learned.
There is such a thing as a belief in science as in believing everything can eventually be explained by science. However that is not what (good) scientists talk about in their published papers.

For a scientist to claim that no one will ever know how sentience was created would be unscientific because it is as much a belief as saying sentience was created my lab mice. Things you cannot prove or disprove in any however small controlled area does not count toward known science obviously.


the internet troll is the pinnacle of human evolution - circletimessquare
[ Parent ]

Will? (5.00 / 1) (#849)
by Happy Monkey on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 02:04:43 PM EST

Science assumes that we will learn everything eventually, that we are capable of learning everything, eventually. That's a pretty damn big assumption.

What makes you think this assumption is made? What actions do scientists take based on this assumption? I don't think that many scientists make this assumption, much less that "Science" does.

Research is done with the hope that it will provide understanding, not the assumption. If any assumption is made, it is that we have not yet learned everything we are capable of learning.
___
Length 17, Width 3
[ Parent ]
When you put it that way (5.00 / 3) (#181)
by NoBeardPete on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:43:04 PM EST

When you say that people accept the speed of light on faith that I, NoBeardPete, ain't lying to them, it sounds pretty tenuous. But a lot of people tell them that light has a certain speed, and no one really seems to be making claims to the contrary (a few obvious quacks aside). Plenty of people go into science or engineering fields, and can confirm through personal experience that the science you are tought in school is in agreement with reality. It's unheard of for someone to go into a scientific or engineering field and then later fall from the faith, and to go around saying, "It's all a lie, these guys are wrong!" On the other hand, plenty of people go into religion and then later decide that it's a bunch of bunk.

I think this is one of the main differences between science and religion. Everyone who seriously looks into science agrees on basic scientific theories. The people who naysay science are almost entirely people who haven't looked into it. This is not the case with religion.

As far as Science's ability to prove its own assumption, I'm not to worried about it. The fact of the matter is that the universe does seem to behave consistently pretty much everywhere and in every way that we can see. I'm not going to loose any sleep over the idea that the universe might be inconsisten somewhere else that we can't see, or that it might start being inconsistent tomorrow afternoon. I don't loose sleep over the idea that I might turn into a gibbering chimp tomorrow, or that red will become green and cats will start to float. I can't prove it won't happen, but I don't really think I need to.


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

All lies I tell you! (4.00 / 1) (#482)
by ratpoison on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 09:39:17 PM EST

You could simply refute anything with that reasoning.

For example, I could claim that Afghanistan is just a giant lie, and any mention of it is fabricated, the only way to prove it properly would be to go there myself (and then check well it is the correct place), much like Science, I suppose, It requires prerequisites, lots of money to burn for instance (and a skeptic on these levels may need to burn it on many other things also!) or scientific knowledge ect in the case of science, but it can be done.

Or I could claim that Elvis never existed, now in this case, I dont see how exactly how I would begin to *know* precisely if he did exist.

This outlook on life would certainly be a frustrating (not to mention exhaustive and costly) one.


[ Parent ]

That would depend. (none / 0) (#495)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 10:31:48 PM EST

If you wanted to scientifically prove the existance of Afghanistan you would have to design a method of proving its existence, yes.

And, yes, you've been taking the existence of Afghanistan on faith.


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
Gotta know what faith is (none / 0) (#515)
by pdrap on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 11:36:51 PM EST

Faith is believing in something without a rational reason to do so. Why do some believe the Jesus saved their souls? Because they just do. Those people believe for the sake of believing, and any physical evidence or lack of it doesn't matter to them one way or the other.

We do not take the existence of Afghanistan on faith, because we have reason to believe that it exists. We can point to it on a map. We can see photographs of it taken from space. We can actually meet people who claim to come from Afghanistan. I have even eaten food that is supposedly similar to what the people eat here. In summary, I have lots and lots of reasons to believe that Afghanistan actually is a place, and I could go there if I wanted to badly enough.


[ Parent ]

But your reasons devolve down to trust. (none / 0) (#789)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sun Jun 22, 2003 at 07:41:37 PM EST

Remember, I'm talking about hard logic here - I realize that in a pracitical sense the chance that Afghanistan really doesn't exist is immeasurably small. But in a logical sense, unless you've done tests and proofs yourself, you are still blindly accepting someone else's testimony as true.


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
will you stop calling it blind please. (none / 0) (#826)
by Ward57 on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 09:17:25 AM EST

It simply isn't accurate. My trusting of the people who claim afghanistan exists is well reasoned deduction, the only assumption being a lack of an organised conspiricy to delude me.

[ Parent ]
Silly (none / 0) (#922)
by Seen not heard on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 08:45:25 AM EST

So much the worse for 'logical perfection' if the only thing it supports is useless doubt in the face of good, not perfect evidence. (And the consequent indifference to the difference between absurd lies like 'I am a banana,' nonsense like 'Horses are not ever horses,' and plausible but not 'logically perfect' statements like 'My mother was wearing a dress last Tuesday.')


[ Parent ]
Science and open source are very similar (5.00 / 2) (#695)
by kcbrown on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 05:47:11 PM EST

But the point remains, most people have accepted the speed of light on blind faith - the faith that you, NoBeardPete, aren't lying to them. And while most of the principles of Science can be tested by a sufficiently trained Skeptic most people don't have the time to achieve that training.
This is true. But you appear to miss the point, the essential distinction between science and religion:

The findings of science are verifiable. It's true that not everyone goes to the trouble of verifying everything that has been discovered. But then, not everyone goes to the trouble of verifying the correctness of the code they ultimately run, either. But it's not necessary that they do so. It's only necessary that enough people do so and, more importantly, that it be possible for someone to do so. When it's actually possible to determine the truth or falsehood of something, it's only a matter of time before someone actually does. That is one of the strengths of open source.

More importantly, the findings of science are falsifiable. That is, each finding is stated in such a way that it is possible, in principle, to prove it false. Usually it only requires the appropriate (repeatable) observation. Quite a number of popular ideas (even within the scientific community) have fallen by the wayside as a result of this. Similarly, many a bug has been squashed by the open source community, even when the bug was embarrasing in nature.

Neither of these things is true of religion in the general case. One cannot show through repeatable observation that God exists, otherwise there would be little debate on the matter. Similarly, one cannot show that God does not exist, though it's possible to take the baseline assumptions of a religion and apply logic to it to see whether or not the religion is at least internally consistent (some, perhaps many, are not).

To me, the most interesting thing about science, and the reason I'm sometimes amazed that some people find it within themselves to take a dim view of it, is that it is really just a formalization of that which almost everyone does every day: make predictions about events in the world based on observation, and discard the predictive method if it consistently fails. Humans don't use this method because of faith or anything like that. They use it because experience has proven it to be beneficial, to give the wielder an advantage over those who don't use it.

If science could be said to have a goal, I'd say it is this: to find (in descending order of importance) the most correct, most complete, most useful, and simplest explanation of how and why the universe behaves as it does.

[ Parent ]

That's faith? (5.00 / 2) (#152)
by Happy Monkey on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:16:38 PM EST

I didn't think that the issue of accepting religion was whether the priests/ministers/etc were lying. I thought it was whether they were correct. Personally, I've got no faith in the speed of light. It is generally accepted in the scientific community, and provides useful results in other fields, so I accept it. But if any new evidence came up that refuted it, I would accept that (after the necessary critical phase, and explanations as to why the previous experiments were faulty). And this has happened several times for the speed of light, and countless times for other science.
___
Length 17, Width 3
[ Parent ]
You don't understand science (none / 0) (#917)
by Seen not heard on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 08:34:39 AM EST

You are being INFURIATINGLY thick. I believe that my sister went to the grocery store because there is milk in the fridge and she told me she did. Maybe she was lying and a burglar dropped his milk off, but I believe the first story provisionally until there is better evidence to the contrary.

That's not even science, that's something which pretty much anyone who isn't INSANE with religion will agree is reasonable. It's all you can do.

It also happens that it's the basis of a lot of scientific thought. Yet another way science isn't 'yet another religion.' It's an approach to beliefs, not a set of beliefs. In making the mistake you show that you didn't understand science from the get go. You have never seen so much argument over things that seem obvious as you will see in the journals of any empirical science.

[ Parent ]

Neither... (5.00 / 3) (#81)
by Rocky on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 11:58:06 AM EST

...blind faith in anything is bad.

If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?
- Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)
[ Parent ]
Bingo. [nt] (3.00 / 2) (#125)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:55:37 PM EST


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
too late... (5.00 / 1) (#706)
by hag on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 08:50:42 PM EST

If you truly believe that blind faith in anything is bad, you have a problem. Blind faith is probably a concept you don't have any choices in.

I will assume your symbol system is roughly compatible with mine.

Please think the following thought to yourself: "I am".

Is the quoted phrase a statement that is either "true" or "false"? If so, please provide a proof of the truth or falseness of the statement. If you are somehow able to produce a "true/false" value to this for yourself, from there, I would like you to prove to me that you are, without me using any of my (or your) copious blind faith. I will be happy to tell you about when you are using what I percieve to be "blind faith", and I am open to argumentation on my perceptions.

Let's talk about blind faith. It seems an important part of the question of this story.

[ Parent ]

because... (none / 0) (#253)
by daiin on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:47:10 PM EST

science does not give people an excuse to kill other people, force their views on other people, and limit the freedoms of other people.

that, and i was under the impression that blind faith in science was rather discouraged.

-=-
Sometimes a vagina full of macaroni is just a vagina full of macaroni. -- skyknight
[ Parent ]

Atheistic Societies (5.00 / 1) (#49)
by fn0rd on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 10:31:07 AM EST

I presume you mean China and the USSR. I think, to be fair, you must consider that they had both more fuel for their killing machines and better automation.

--------------------------------------------------------------
This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
Death to the fidels!

[ Parent ]
And bigger populations, to boot. (3.00 / 2) (#60)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 10:49:55 AM EST

But you forgot cambodia and germany. Germany while not explicitly athiest was certainly driven by secular rather than religious motives. And Cambodia, in terms of percentage of the population slain is a category unto itself...


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
the populations are the 'fuel' :) [nt] (none / 0) (#867)
by fn0rd on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 06:41:46 PM EST



--------------------------------------------------------------
This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
Death to the fidels!

[ Parent ]
Religion is dangerous (5.00 / 2) (#53)
by fn0rd on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 10:39:18 AM EST

It conveniently strips people of the need to think things through using their own experiences by telling them that someone else did it 2000 years ago and they shouldn't waste time repeating the process.

--------------------------------------------------------------
This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
Death to the fidels!

[ Parent ]
Lol. did you notice what I was replying to? (5.00 / 3) (#59)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 10:48:05 AM EST

Or were you trying to reverse-parody my parody of his original comment?


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
that might be his point, though (nt) (none / 0) (#85)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:01:56 PM EST



It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]
Nice dedcution. That's Science for ya! [nt] (none / 0) (#868)
by fn0rd on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 07:05:38 PM EST



--------------------------------------------------------------
This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
Death to the fidels!

[ Parent ]
I hate this argument (4.00 / 2) (#72)
by Recreational Abortion on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 11:35:39 AM EST

Not to mention that athiestic societies have managed to kill more people in the 20th century than religion did in the previous 10.

And I see it all the time. Post Hoc.  Just because a society is professed as athiest doesn't mean it was the cause of these deaths.

Besides, Hitler's Germany wasn't athiestic.  I guess  we can blame all thos deaths on non-athiestic nazi germany... that'd be just as valid as this remark.
----
colorless green ideas sleep furiously
[ Parent ]

And just because a society is religious (3.00 / 2) (#84)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:01:54 PM EST

doesn't mean religion caused the deaths of people it killed.

Pay attention: My argument makes exactly the same amount of sense as the "religion is dangerous and causes war" arguments you see all the time on k5.


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
well... (4.00 / 2) (#92)
by Recreational Abortion on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:11:18 PM EST

Pay attention: My argument makes exactly the same amount of sense as the "religion is dangerous and causes war" arguments you see all the time on k5.

I can see that viewpoint, but I can come up with a few examples of a real cause and effect relationship between religion and war, whereas I cannot with athiesm.  Muslim Fundamentalism is a prime example. Organized Religion can be used as a weapon to control and manipulate, you cannot deny this.
----
colorless green ideas sleep furiously
[ Parent ]

Really. So you can distinguish between (3.00 / 2) (#95)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:14:27 PM EST

religion and ethnicity as the cause of violence?

And are you really claiming Russia's atheism had no bearing on its persecution of jews and christians?


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
Russia... (none / 0) (#171)
by Rocky on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:34:40 PM EST

...wasn't atheistic - they just replaced workship of God with worship of the communist party and its leaders - why so many statues of Lenin and Stalin?

Same with China and North Korea.

If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?
- Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)
[ Parent ]

Uh. Yeah. Sure. whatever. (3.00 / 2) (#196)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:52:45 PM EST

So, by that argument, Iraqis worshipped Saddam?


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
Absolutely [n/t] (none / 0) (#217)
by Rocky on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:09:57 PM EST



If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?
- Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)
[ Parent ]
LoL. I'll have to rethink that Tick action figure (5.00 / 1) (#244)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:34:50 PM EST

I've got sitting on my desk.

:)


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
So (4.00 / 1) (#251)
by Recreational Abortion on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:46:17 PM EST

Really.  So you can distinguish between religion and ethnicity as the cause of violence

Are you saying that the reason islamic terror groups  exist is becase they have a beef with our ethnicity?  

If this is the case... I think you're seriously misguided.  The cause is certainly more broad then just religion, but religion is the banner they hide under.
----
colorless green ideas sleep furiously
[ Parent ]

Example (none / 0) (#1033)
by caca phony on Fri Jul 11, 2003 at 08:13:39 PM EST

in the texts variously known as parts of the torah/koran/bible there are many example setting stories of the will of god commanding genocide or mass murder of unbelievers. This is simple and undisputable, and occurs too many times in these texts to even bother with citation. The bhagavad gita (sp?) similarly glorifies slaughter, as do most religous texts I have taken the time to read (I am talking about original source materials, not the bawdlerized interpretations you get from a religous leader). buddhism and taoism seem the most outstanding exceptions, but even they in practice are compatible with atrocity without excessive cognative dissonance (or so it seems).

[ Parent ]
Organized Religion vs. The Individual (none / 0) (#556)
by codepoet on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 02:23:28 AM EST

Please see point two of this piece I wrote a couple of years ago here.  An excerpt:

[W]hen two people disagree it can get violent and when it does, blame those two people, not everyone like them.  No matter what banner they organize under, don't assume that it's the fault of that banner, look first to the person and why they might be doing whatever they're doing.

In short, organized religion itself is not a souce of control or manipulation; people exploiting the easily manipulated are.  The German populace of the 1940s should prove enough of an example of this, I would think.  "It's the Jews (as a race) that caused all your problems!"  And thus the world as it was known ended.

Take the Crusades, as a more prominant example of a war (or series thereof) that is seen as religious.  The fact that we label them as religious is silly for at least two reasons:

  1. The recapture of the Holy Land during the Crusades, for instance, was more political than religious.  Religion was used to call upon the people to help much in the same way the EFF calls up on the people to vote to protect their privacy: it's a matter near and dear to the people's heart that you make appear threatened and then give a way to fix it.  It's nothing more than that.
  2. Give me five nations that were atheistic in the 1500s. =)  So, then, a war could not help but have some basis in religion if most of the people are religious, eh?
You get the idea.  Alas, what you argue falls under the most bigoted of mentalities: when someone screws up, blame any label you can attach to that person rather than that person himself.  If a Christian black man burns down the house of an atheist white man the media will pick up two headlines:

Black man burns down white man's home
Christian burns down atheist's home

Neither will say:

Man burns down another's home

That's not sensationalist enough.  Surely, you are not aiming for bigotry or sensationalism, but this sort of "blame the label" mentality has been breed into us as a civilization for centuries and we're only now really getting out of it in any significant numbers.

Don't blame religion, blame people that are so sick that they use the beliefs of the people, religious or otherwise, to control them for their propoganda.  I can see resenting religion because it allows someone to have something so dear to them that they can be manipulated because of it, but I cannot see hating it because others have misused it.  It's like hating the concept of money because of income tax.

"The French will only be united under the threat of danger. Nobody can simply bring together a country that has 265 kinds of cheese." - Charles De Gaulle,
[ Parent ]

Athiest is not just "No God" (none / 0) (#725)
by Dyolf Knip on Sun Jun 22, 2003 at 12:41:15 AM EST

Can you point out the fundamental difference between Nazism, Soviet Communism, and any other religion or cult? Because I can find that if you replace the word 'God' in their respective manuscripts with 'the proletariat' or 'the Aryan race' and 'Satan' with 'bourgeois' or 'human vermin', you end up with the USSR and the Third Reich, respectively. The contradictions, the outrageous claims, the requirement to believe despite the lack of support and abudance of evidence to the contrary, the ostracizing of disbelievers (e.g., 'Jew-lovers' and 'counter-revolutionaries'), all the rest is utterly identical to your average religion.

It's important to be willing to call bullshit on anyone. Athiesm is when this is done to the clergy. Religions tend to make the best targets since most every word ever put to print by one fails every conceivable test for coherency, consistency, plausibility, and proof.

---
If you can't learn to do something well, learn to enjoy doing it poorly.

Dyolf Knip
[ Parent ]

Religion is a tool (none / 0) (#97)
by Cro Magnon on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:16:37 PM EST

but it's not the real problem. The real problem is that murderous psychos frequently get into positions of power. If this psycho can use religion to get his followers to kill for him fine. If appealing to their racism works better, he'll use that. Or maybe he'll use their greed to turn them (hey if we kill these !@#$, we can get their gold). Or maybe all the above.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
I agree (none / 0) (#877)
by Antiorganic on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 09:47:28 PM EST

I agree.

Let me preface this my saying that I am a proud atheist and see no use for religion, to clear up any confusion.

Now, that being said, I think that religion is not inherently evil. Just as George W. Bush and Adolf Hitler have played off of nationalism to gain the support of people for unjust doings, others such as Osama bin Laden and Yasser Arafat have used religion to drive people. Others still use both, like Ariel Sharon and his pals in Israel. Horrible people will use any means they can find to drive people to their cause and strengthen it to find ways to do harm to others. Just because it can be a tool of malicious deeds doesn't mean that's the only thing it's capable of doing.

People turn to religion as a sense of hope -- maybe some people fear responsibility, and the idea of someone making sure that everything turns out okay in the end is a great comfort. Others follow faith because it provides a control in a world that's always changing: When you have no idea where to put your trust, there's always a God up there smiling on you.

It's not terribly difficult to exploit such strong feelings, and this is why it happens so often.

[ Parent ]

nicely balanced n/t. (4.20 / 5) (#12)
by danni on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 06:17:25 AM EST



It always make me giggle (4.52 / 17) (#16)
by starsky on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 06:43:26 AM EST

about how non-believers (very prevalent on k5) get SO WOUND UP about how religious people shouldn't believe what they do, and shouldn't go around telling people what to think. They do this by posting on k5 on how they believe there is no God and that everyone should think that.

Yup. Evangalistic Athiests. (4.25 / 4) (#38)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 09:12:48 AM EST

"Why can you be smart like me?"


--
I only read Usenet for the articles.


[ Parent ]
So... (4.00 / 1) (#318)
by Kuli on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:28:12 PM EST

When you preach about God to everyone and try to violate the rights of non-Christians by sticking God in every facet of the American lifestyle (assuming you're American) it's okay?

[ Parent ]
sticking stuff (2.00 / 1) (#498)
by gdanjo on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 10:47:15 PM EST

Scientists stick nasty things in every facet of everyone else's lifestyle too. We could do without the Nuke, you know.

At least with God, not many people get hurt (anymore) :-)

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

War in Iraq. (none / 0) (#684)
by Kuli on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 03:43:26 PM EST

Crusades
Inquisitions
Witch Hunts
Slavery
and the list goes on.

[ Parent ]
here we go (none / 0) (#708)
by gdanjo on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 09:19:18 PM EST

Guns
Bombs
Tanks
Missiles
ICBMs
Cluster Bombs
Carpet Bombing
Fighter Jets
Chemical Weapons
Biological Weapons

all created by scientist in collaboration with technologists. Not to mention the so-called scientific expositions, like Hitler's own theory of evolution.

Suddenly, the inquisition (which only tortured individuals - they didn't have a concept of low-cost group torture (psy-ops)) doesn't look so terrible.

Yet we all worship the scientist.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

Science is not another religion (none / 0) (#912)
by Seen not heard on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 08:09:24 AM EST

The Inquisition was supposed, in itself, to be a good thing. The most upbeat anyone gets about ICBMs is pointing out their regrettable instrumentality in some other cause (often driven by religious/political beliefs, for that matter).

There is nothing in 'scientific belief' which compels anyone to accept or make ICBMs. Many scientists are pacifists and vice versa. Many people who have religion are pacifists and vice versa, so it might seem that the situation is symmetrical - any accusation lobbied against religion can be lobbied against science. But this isn't really true. You have misunderstood what science is.

Many religions compel one to hurt other people and invade their privacy. Science says nothing direct about morals, doesn't support integral moral messages. It is religion which draws morals directly out of its pictures of the world.

There is no institutional worship of ICBMs. But inquisitions and their like are a recurrent CENTRAL, EXPLICITLY SUPPORTED FEATURE of religious belief. 'Scientific belief' is not centralized, has no great text or authority. The authorities argue with each other constantly, and that over issues which there is evidence over. You simply cannot get this kind of central, coordinated, explicitly supported support for anything out of science, let alone moral judgement and recommendations to burn Jews.

The comparison isn't exact. Science isn't a religion. It's not a belief system either. It's a meta-approach to constructing belief systems pertaining to the world as it is, not as it should be.

So it may be true that it is not correct to paint all religion with the brush of the inquisition. But that doesn't make your wild attributions of blame for 'horrible technology' to science itself even as valid as that original confusion of one as representing many. Because there is NO SCIENCE which takes as AXIOMATICALLY HOLY AND UNDENIABLY COMPELLING that we need to do everything in our power to kill or harm any group. You may or may not get some group of people who say they don't believe in God doing that. The error is in assuming that science is another, indistinct religion which simply differs in maintaining that the earth is round rather than flat.

[ Parent ]

religion (none / 0) (#1024)
by gdanjo on Fri Jul 04, 2003 at 01:15:10 AM EST

The error is in assuming that science is another, indistinct religion which simply differs in maintaining that the earth is round rather than flat.
Science is another religion. And the earth is round only in shape - it has peaks and trophs, and so is not perfectly round. Science has adapted language to allow for these imperfect explinations: "the earth is round only if you are far away from it." And yet you wish to deny this same language adaptation to religion, when I say that God is nothing like what the bible states.

That Science has helped humanity is undeniable; that scientists deny that religion, too, helps humanity is unforgivable.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

Those people aren't non-believers... (none / 0) (#43)
by fn0rd on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 09:22:01 AM EST

...and I resent you lumping those fools in with us.

--------------------------------------------------------------
This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
Death to the fidels!

[ Parent ]
What, you're looking for Thomas Covenant? [nt] (3.66 / 3) (#45)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 09:24:59 AM EST


--
I only read Usenet for the articles.


[ Parent ]
Re: What, you're looking for Thomas Covenant? (none / 0) (#241)
by odaiwai on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:28:59 PM EST

Hellfire!, he clenched anilely.
-- "They're chefs! Chefs with chainsaws!"
[ Parent ]
they're everywhere! (none / 0) (#388)
by chocolatetrumpet on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 05:44:20 PM EST

Maybe if all YOUR friends spend their time and energy worshipping invisible pink elephants instead of doing something useful like hanging out with you, you might get a little upset too. Even if the invisible pink elephants make them feel happy and fulfilled.

The truth is in the ice cream.
[ Parent ]

European difference (4.77 / 9) (#21)
by LQ on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 07:47:23 AM EST

most of you probably have friends who are weekly church-goers

That might be true in some parts of the world. Here in Europe it is much less likely to be so. I can't think of any of my friends who's ever been a church-goer. Certainly in northern Europe atheism or religious inactivity is pretty much the norm.

One of the more interesting differences... (none / 0) (#37)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 09:12:13 AM EST

That fact is, I think, one of the more interesting differences between Europe and the US (between Europe and the rest of the world, for that matter).

As far as I know, it's also a phenomenon that began after WWII. Has anyone done any studies into what triggered the change?


--
I only read Usenet for the articles.


[ Parent ]
Yes (none / 0) (#82)
by zeufii on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 11:58:30 AM EST

The U.S. occupation triggered it.

thug
"...the Meta, Op-Ed, Politics, and Culture sections are hereby declared alien abductions and the property of Glickal." - rusty
[ Parent ]

Ummm... You wanna back that up with some cites? (none / 0) (#90)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:04:30 PM EST

And WTF would the us occupation affect church attendance in England or Norway?


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
That's just what (none / 0) (#128)
by zeufii on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:57:29 PM EST

I've been told by my German friends. They say that the U.S. military pacified the population in terms of politics and religion. Apparently the influence was so great that it spread to the other countries of Europe.

thug
"...the Meta, Op-Ed, Politics, and Culture sections are hereby declared alien abductions and the property of Glickal." - rusty
[ Parent ]

I'm not sure about Germany here.. (3.00 / 1) (#193)
by Torako on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:50:50 PM EST

I wouldn't outright support that.. In Germany the two Christian churches still play a major role in the lives of my grandparents' generation, say 65 and older. That generation had a very rigid Christian upbringing (pre-WWII of course) and still has a pretty firm faith.

I think most younger people have nothing to do with religion in Germany because of a very liberal upbringing. One has to look at the other side of the Europe/US coin to realize the root of the difference: It's not a lack of spirituality in Europe, but an unusually high level thereof in the US which arised as part of the anti-Communist movement in the Cold War.

Also, fundamentalist Christian sects gained a lot of influence in the United States at that time and shaped a huge part of the public religious experience. After all, the US has always had a much higher percentage of religious extremists than Europe.

[ Parent ]

I believe in God because I've felt ... (4.66 / 6) (#22)
by pyramid termite on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 07:55:44 AM EST

... God's presence in the world, the people around me and myself. I can't explain or convince anyone of that. But it's not something I consider as told or imposed upon me - it's part of my experience.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
I agree (4.33 / 9) (#35)
by The Writer on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 09:08:57 AM EST

Although I grew up in a Christian family, during my early 20's I started to doubt and consider dropping what I grew up with. However, I came to experience God in a personal way, and it all "clicked". It's not something that can be explained to someone who has not experienced the same thing, because it isn't, and cannot be, based on reason alone. If it were, it would just be human reason, not something of God.

This is why I consider academic debates on the subject to be a complete waste of time: you cannot "derive" or "prove" the existence of God using such debates. It is a completely different paradigm. That doesn't mean it's fictitious; just that if you insist on starting from a different paradigm, it's not surprising that you will never reach it. You cannot derive Special Relativity from Newtonian Physics, but that doesn't mean Special Relativity is "flawed", or that it contradicts established facts. You just have to be willing to drop certain Newtonian assumptions and adopt some other assumptions, counterintuitive or "illogical" as they may seem to a Newtonian mindset, and re-interpret the data, then it all falls into place.

Note however, that I sympathize with those who are turned off because of the way the name of God has been abused by politicians and self-proclaimed spokesmen for God. Because of the radical paradigm change needed to have a proper understanding of God, it is easily misunderstood, and opportunists have exploited it at every turn for their own profit. A subject which is not well-understood by common people is easily turned into a tool used to exploit people by those who stand to gain from it. However, that does not negate the truth of it; it merely exposes those self-proclaimed people for their true motives. After all, anyone can claim to be speaking for God. Anyone can claim to be George Washington reincarnated. They'd be lying, obviously, but that doesn't negate the fact that George Washington existed. Just because some unscrupulous con-man decides to carry out his schemes by proclaiming himself God's prophet doesn't mean that God has ceased to exist.

[ Parent ]

God, physics, Deism, a self-organizing principle (4.75 / 4) (#36)
by yammering communist on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 09:12:00 AM EST

I sometimes find a similar, almost spiritual feeling, in simply observing the world around me. At some deep level, I think the human idea of "God" is just a personification for the universe's natural tendency towards self-organization.

I find the concept of a floating naked bearded father-figure in the clouds completely ridiculous, arrogant, and implausible; and yet the core idea of deity is that of an underlying cosmic order - of something which stretches out beyond time and measures out chaos and order in equal proportions, who is the catalyst behind and above and within everything that occurs - is it so difficult to presume that, to take Deism one step further - your God is not an entity but a principle?

That out from a hot spinning empty void comes matter and energy and stars and planets and complex self-replicating organic chemical compounds.... implausible in the extreme unless we make a presumption from the very beginning that by the very nature of the universe, complexity increases exponentially at all times, that any given something is always changing into something else that's more unique and creative and interesting. The cosmos is founded on that. We wouldn't be here if it wasn't so.

God isn't a God. It is the universe and the universe just is.

I know I'm going to have a bad day when I don't feel something akin to religious awe simply by waking up in the morning and looking at my own hand.

---

I fear nothing. I believe nothing. I am free.

--Nikos Kazantzakis, epitaph.


[ Parent ]
Interesting... (none / 0) (#100)
by JahToasted on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:20:30 PM EST

I think you and I have similar beliefs. But what do you think about entropy? Which is stronger, complexity or chaos?

Is the complexity we see around us permanent? It seems like everything must die eventually. Maybe the complex universe around us is just a small blip, an anomally, that will soon break down and return to choas.

Or maybe everything will keep growing more and more complex.

Or maybe choas is just a complex system that we just don't understand.

Hmmm... the universe is a mysterious place indeed.
______
"I wanna have my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames" -- Jim Morrison
[ Parent ]

Huh? (4.00 / 2) (#361)
by The Writer on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 05:13:33 PM EST

Where did you get the idea that God was a naked bearded figure floating somewhere in outer space?

I'm sorry, just because that's the cop out description given to pacify children doesn't mean that it's true. If you read the Bible carefully, you will see that this whole bearded figure thing is completely absent. It's a made-up explanation by some ill-informed sunday school teacher. In fact, the Bible explicitly prohibits the making of any (physical) images to be called God. Why? Because if God is indeed God, then he is not a physical being. Any physical being must necessarily be a creature; because the physical world has a beginning. Indeed, the Gospel of John says, "no one has ever seen God", and the Epistle of John states that "God is spirit", in spite of the fact that the Old Testament records many visions of God. This proves that these visions are not physical sightings of God, but spiritual. It is not possible to physically see God, because God is not physical. But the Bible asserts that it is possible to contact God spiritually.

[ Parent ]

A koan for your consideration (4.31 / 16) (#24)
by yammering communist on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 08:35:33 AM EST

When I was eight or nine years old, I made a resolution to stay up all night on Christmas Eve to determine once and for all the validity of that flimsy Santa Claus story. I had the distinct pleasure, and the palatable dismay, to observe that my parents, and seemingly most of the population of the Northern Hemisphere, had contrived to fill my pliable young cortex with worthless untruths for my entire life up to that moment.

I couldn't figure it out. Why couldn't they just give me the presents? I mean, isn't the fact that I am together with my family, giving and recieving, enough of a reason for everyone? Did they really have to fabricate this ridiculous cover story?

The next morning, my mother said a prayer before breakfast. I couldn't figure out why she needed to tell God stuff he obviously knew, since he already knows everything that goes on all over the universe all the time. (I was actually thinking this. Thanks, Sunday School.)

Ten minutes later, my grandmother knocked a hanging mirror from a wall. Thankfully it landed face-up on a carpeted floor, sparing us from the unenviable task of cleaning up shards of broken glass. My mother expressed her gratitude: "I'm glad. You could have had seven years of bad luck."

At that moment, I became enlightened.

Haven't been to church since.

---

I fear nothing. I believe nothing. I am free.

--Nikos Kazantzakis, epitaph.


Santa (5.00 / 5) (#68)
by reklaw on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 11:15:21 AM EST

I've never understood why parents lie to their children about Santa Claus existing either. I was lucky in that my parents told me right from the start that it was just a story that some people liked to believe, but also explained that I shouldn't upset other kids by going around shouting "Santa's not real!" -- it was up to their parents to tell them that. Thinking about it, I'm pretty sure that their openness on this issue increased my trust in them. Also, oddly enough, despite being told that it was just a story my sister persisted in believing in Santa for quite some time.

Anyway, I wonder what the effect is on the relationship between child and parent when the child finds out at a young age that the parent is capable of systematically lying to them?
-
[ Parent ]

Santa questions (5.00 / 2) (#86)
by Cro Magnon on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:02:46 PM EST

My mom never really said one way or the other about Santa, but I got a kick out of asking questions. "How does Santa get to our house when we don't have a chimney?" "Howcome Santa doesn't get burned, dropping straight into the fireplace?" "Howcome I don't see hoofprints in the snow on the roof?" (I could see the roof from the attic window).
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
It all came crashing down for us when... (5.00 / 3) (#190)
by Dephex Twin on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:50:00 PM EST

I started asking, "why don't we just ask for really huge presents since it doesn't cost us anything?"


Alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems. -- Homer Simpson
[ Parent ]
LoL (5.00 / 2) (#202)
by Cro Magnon on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:56:49 PM EST

I wish I'd thought of that!
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
Hmmm... (none / 0) (#158)
by JahToasted on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:21:49 PM EST

But isn't teaching children about Santa is teaching them that "you shouldn't believe everything you are told?" Isn't that an important lesson too?

Just thinking about the everclear song "Wonderful", isn't it a parent's job to tell their children that all is right in the world, even though they know its not? Let the kids be kids...
______
"I wanna have my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames" -- Jim Morrison
[ Parent ]

Kids don't need Fantasy (4.00 / 1) (#192)
by relayswitch on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:50:39 PM EST

The world is a mean, sacry place, and the sooner that kids understand that, the better off they are. All this nonesense about 'magic' and 'fairy tales' does more harm than good. Life is brutal, hopeless, and futile. God, happiness and fullfilment are just illusions created by idiots too weak-minded to accept the Truth. We are here alone, we will suffer and we will die.

[ Parent ]
That's all well and good... (none / 0) (#321)
by JahToasted on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:31:48 PM EST

for troll children.
______
"I wanna have my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames" -- Jim Morrison
[ Parent ]
I..uh.. I'm sorry :) (none / 0) (#363)
by relayswitch on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 05:14:31 PM EST

I'm not trying to troll, just got bent about something, posted to the world the status of my losership. Mea culpa

[ Parent ]
It's cool (none / 0) (#384)
by JahToasted on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 05:38:52 PM EST

I'm too lazy to mod people down, so don't worry about it.
______
"I wanna have my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames" -- Jim Morrison
[ Parent ]
Wow. I sound cranky... (none / 0) (#342)
by relayswitch on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:51:15 PM EST

Hrm.. don't know really where that came from, just a piss-poor week. I'm normally a chipper guy.

Well, I wasn't trying to troll, anyways. We now return to your regularly scheduled tomfoolery

[ Parent ]
Fantasy (none / 0) (#370)
by The Writer on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 05:18:44 PM EST

I agree that kids don't need fantasy. What's the point in deceiving your kids so that they will grow up and get all their dreams shattered by reality? That's no way to raise a kid.

However, that does not negate the existence of God. Unfortunately, it's too easy to make up false stories to cover one's ignorance of God when asked pointed questions. It's very sad.

[ Parent ]

Yeah me neither (5.00 / 1) (#367)
by The Writer on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 05:16:03 PM EST

My parents actually do not believe in any of this Christmas thing, fortunately. I think it is sad that adults would pervert the word of God by teaching their kids such nonsense as Santa Claus as though it were true. What a way to gain your child's trust. Sheesh.

[ Parent ]

Santa (none / 0) (#438)
by wonkie on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 07:54:48 PM EST

I think it is sad that adults would pervert the word of God by teaching their kids such nonsense as Santa Claus as though it were true.

What do you have against Santa Claus? He encourages kids to be good and teaches them about the joys of giving.

I think it's sad that adults would pervert the word of Santa Claus by teaching their kids such nonsense as God as though it were true.

[ Parent ]

Different assumptions (none / 0) (#461)
by The Writer on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 08:33:07 PM EST

I won't address your comment, because you are assuming that God does not exist. I'm sorry, since you are already convinced, all argument is futile. We are not starting from the same premises, and so we will never reach an agreement.

I was speaking from my perspective, where the existence of God is a given.

[ Parent ]

Santa Claus (5.00 / 1) (#157)
by bafungu on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:21:42 PM EST

My Father Christmas passed away
When I was barely seven.
At twenty-one, alack-a-day,
I lost my hope of heaven.

Yet not in either lies the curse:
The hell of it's because
I don't know which loss hurt the worse --
My God or Santa Claus.

--- Robert Service


[ Parent ]
I'm onto you (3.00 / 1) (#206)
by Battle Troll on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:59:19 PM EST

That's not a koan.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
the TRUTH about Santa (none / 0) (#450)
by Anon 20517 on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 08:16:33 PM EST

I'm honestly not sure if this is a joke or not.

Cheers.

[ Parent ]

enlightenment (none / 0) (#505)
by gdanjo on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 11:05:46 PM EST

So the story of Santa Claus enlightened you? Do you/Will give your kids the opportunity to be enlightened by "lying" about Santa Claus?

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

Well done (none / 0) (#561)
by adiffer on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 02:55:22 AM EST

My mother used to give me a 'funny look' when I wanted to explore religious ideas.  I remember doing Sunday School for a little while, but I tended to approach it rationally due to my mother's influence.  One day it clicked for me and I understood what her 'look' meant.  I never went back, never looked back, and never regreted any of it.
--BE The Alien!
[ Parent ]
Athiest zealots are just as bad as religious ones (4.25 / 4) (#25)
by ph317 on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 08:35:51 AM EST


Personally, I'm in an inquisitive agnostic with no particular religious standing.  I generally agree that it's very likely most major world religions aren't founded on very much truth, and serve as a crutch for the weak-minded as well as a power center and money maker for those controlling them.  However, I think the Athiest view is equally extreme.  It's hard to contemplate the universe and mankind existing as they do without some form of divine intervention at some stage.  The question to me is really "What is the nature of that divinity, and will we ever know anything factual about it?"  For all I know it could turn out to be some long-dead alien race that made us the way we are, or some intelligent entity in a reality not observable from our own.  While I tend to lean towards scientific answers, I don't rule out that "God" in a traditional sense might well be the answer.  However, until I find stronger evidence to support some view or other, I will remain inquisitively agnostic.

Evangelistic Atheists (4.85 / 7) (#27)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 08:55:14 AM EST

A while back I started subscribing to the Skeptical Inquirer, Reason and so on. After a few months of getting steadily more annoyed I let it all lapse.

All the articles had a similar feel to them: "Why are people so stupid? Why can't they be smart like us?" The combination of smugness, frustration and self-righteousness just became impossible to ingest, even though the topics were often of great interest. Worse, now they've invaded Scientific American and their spreading their hostility their, too....

While I'm a Believer, I'm also enough of a scientist to realize that any theory is liable to dispute and refutation, so I try to treat other systems of Belief with respect and dignity.

The guys in these magazines though, don't seem to realize that their "Beliefs" are just as much a matter of "Faith" as mine - and the biggest article of Faith that they have is that the universe is a rational place and that humans are capable of understanding it. Why that should be assumed as true I have no idea.

I get so tired of mathematicians who assert that math is reality and not just a human invention but when asked why math works they just mumble and say "because".

Being "Skeptical" means being skeptical of "Skeptics", too....

--
I only read Usenet for the articles.


[ Parent ]
Agreed (none / 0) (#30)
by ph317 on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 08:59:57 AM EST


I'd never subscribe to any magazine like that to begin with though.  Ultimately there are certain things about the nature of the human situation and the universe around us for which there is no hard evidence, yet are still deeply important issues.  Anything one comes up with to believe about these things can always be termed "faith", or you could just call it opinion as well.

[ Parent ]
Re: Evangelistic Atheists (none / 0) (#122)
by handslikesnakes on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:53:32 PM EST

Belief in rationality requires less faith than belief in a god.

And while a terrible argument, the fact is that if we couldn't base our understanding of the universe on logic, the universe would be a horribly screwed up place. Of course, you can say the same about religion - without God the world would be horribly screwed up place.

Also, it's not a mathematician's job to say why math works. Back to what I was saying before, if 2+2 didn't always equal 4, you could pretty much scrap science.



[ Parent ]
Really? (5.00 / 1) (#175)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:39:43 PM EST

Belief in rationality requires less faith than belief in a god.

Huh. Given the behavior of most humans, I would have thought belief in a rational universe would require more faith, not less; as for Science failing if math wasn't consistent - well, yeah, that's the point.

Finally, if it's not a mathematician's job to say why math works, then whose job is it? I think you're confusing two issues: the nature of math and the nature of the universe. Why math works is a subject of extreme interest to mathematicians, but it is also a closed area of knowledge - math is a system (or systems) of logic that is independent of reality.

The really interesting question is "why does this system of logic seem to map to the physical universe?" That is one of the reasons physicists are chasing after the TOE (theory of everything) so hard - if you can come up with a simple theory from which all physics can be derived then it is easier to believe that the universe is a purely random phenomenon. If the universe actually does depend on a complex set of unrelated initial conditions then it becomes somewhat harder to accept that the universe has no deliberate design.

(And, yes, I know the many worlds hypothesis and the argument that we are here because an infinite number of universes exist and therefore one will exist that has the right conditions for life and we are in that universe. Why it's easier to believe in an infinite number of universes than a single Designer, I don't know.)


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
Math works (none / 0) (#224)
by Happy Monkey on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:16:51 PM EST

because it is a tautology.

Why it's easier to believe in an infinite number of universes than a single Designer, I don't know.

Well, in theory, the Designer could create the infinite universes. Therefore, it is of a higher complexity than the infinite universes. It is usually a good idea to reduce complexity in one's theories. This isn't a proof, but it's a reason for one to be easier to believe than another.
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[ Parent ]
Really? (none / 0) (#417)
by Oh Man on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 07:22:42 PM EST

It's hard to contemplate the universe and mankind existing as they do without some form of divine intervention at some stage.

Why is that so hard to contemplate? How does this introduction of "divine intervention" make it easier? Doesn't it simply push the problem out a little bit - who or what created that "God" etc.

[ Parent ]

Why? one word... Repeatability. (4.00 / 5) (#28)
by Silverfish on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 08:56:40 AM EST

Repeatability is the step in the scientific process that makes me an atheist.

If someone has a religious experience, great.  I can honestly say that if someone's belif enriches their life, and doesn't hurt anyone (the believer or anyone else), then I'm all for it.

However, it is up to the person making the positive assertion to prove their assertion.  It is not accepted as being true by default.  So, until someone comes up with something in the way of proof that can withstand scientific rigor, my personal belif is that the probability of God existing is infinitesimal (though nonzero).

Oops... (none / 0) (#29)
by Silverfish on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 08:59:35 AM EST

Sorry to reply to myself, but I forgot to add how much I enjoyed the article.  Very thoughtful, balanced and well written.  I voted it +1 FP.

[ Parent ]
How do you explain studies (3.33 / 3) (#31)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 09:03:45 AM EST

that show prayer has a positive effect on medical recovery rates? They're as repeatable as any other socialogical experiment.


--
I only read Usenet for the articles.


[ Parent ]
The studies have drawn some criticism (none / 1) (#42)
by tranZent on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 09:20:25 AM EST

www.straightdope.com

[ Parent ]
Criticism from Skeptic magazine (5.00 / 1) (#44)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 09:23:17 AM EST

and the Skeptical Inquirer is hardly unbiased...


--
I only read Usenet for the articles.


[ Parent ]
And a researcher (2.00 / 1) (#54)
by Happy Monkey on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 10:40:47 AM EST

who doesn't set up a proper double-blind study isn't showing much bias resistance.
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[ Parent ]
How many sociological experiments are done (3.50 / 2) (#56)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 10:45:23 AM EST

double-blind?


--
I only read Usenet for the articles.


[ Parent ]
Just slightly more (4.00 / 1) (#63)
by Happy Monkey on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 10:52:21 AM EST

than the number that have useful results.
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[ Parent ]
That statement made no sense whatsoever. [nt] (3.00 / 3) (#83)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 11:59:45 AM EST


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
Yes it did. [nt] (5.00 / 4) (#107)
by Happy Monkey on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:39:10 PM EST


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[ Parent ]
personally i think it helps (4.00 / 2) (#46)
by TACBAF on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 09:25:59 AM EST

prayer is somewhat like laughter... a patient that believes he will get better has a higher chance of improving. Prayer works just as well as telling the patient to speak to the mirror everyday that he's gonna get better.

[ Parent ]
It's a good theory. (4.33 / 3) (#58)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 10:47:05 AM EST

the placebo effect has never really been explained, and you're right, prayer could be an example of that.


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
But it doesn't matter who you pray to... (5.00 / 1) (#57)
by grout on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 10:46:57 AM EST

... which makes it look very much like an emotional process in the mind, not a communication with any external power. A spiritual placebo, if you will.
--
Chip Salzenberg, Free-Floating Agent of Chaos

[ Parent ]
So does meditiation (none / 0) (#66)
by Kragg on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 11:08:57 AM EST

as evinced here [pdf]. The physiological effects of prayer and meditation are similar, in that they promote a calm chemical balance and a positive psychosomatic sense of well-being.

The fact that some people take religion as the basis for 'feeling good', whilst others don't, is how I explain that.

--
"How can one learn to know oneself? Never by introspection, rather by action. Try to do your duty, and you will know right away what you are like." -- Goethe, Willhelm Meister's Travels.
[ Parent ]

Flood answer (3.16 / 6) (#32)
by Quila on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 09:06:10 AM EST

Good and balanced article, interesting.

For your answer, the flood tale is represented in another form in the epic of Gilgamesh, which appears to tell the mythified story of an actual flood in Sumeria around 4,000 BCE.  Of course, in the flat Tigris/Euphrates floodplain, a large but easily possible flood would appear to flood the world.

Given that at the time Sumeria was the center of culture in the world, it's not suprising that the myth spread. For the Christian connection, the Gilgamesh epic was written long before Genesis could have been. There are also many connections and similarities between the Sumerian and Noah's flood, and they all flow from Sumeria to Noah.

hindu (5.00 / 1) (#94)
by minus273 on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:13:35 PM EST

religion also uses the same flood in a story of one of the incarnations of vishnu, the similarity with noah is striking.

[ Parent ]
of questioning one's faith (4.66 / 6) (#33)
by VoxLobster on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 09:07:40 AM EST

I am of the belief that if you are not prepared to sometimes question your faith, you are not worthy of it. Faith can be both a good and bad thing. When used properly, I can instill a sense of peace, and can help to promote people to become better people. When used improperly, it is used to justify horrors, such as the crusades, jihad, mass murder...It seems to me that the people who use faith properly are the ones that are able to question their faith. The ones who blindly follow usually end up causing more suffering than they could ever invision.

VoxLobster
I was raised by a cup of coffee! -- Homsar

Wouldn't that be faith in humanity? (5.00 / 2) (#52)
by Gandhian Rage on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 10:36:08 AM EST

Since humans are the ones who were, and are, responsible for the aforementioned horrors, it seems a better suited statment would be: "Be prepared to question the intentions of man who speak in the name of God" rather than "Be prepared to question God."



---
I am the protector of Rusty.
[ Parent ]
humanity and god... (4.00 / 1) (#64)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 11:04:57 AM EST

Questioning someone who "Speaks the word of God" regretfully causes most to neglect to question the most important person of them all - themselves.

No, you must question god himself, so that you can include your thoughts, behaviours and beliefs in the process.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

yeah, that's a good point (5.00 / 1) (#291)
by VoxLobster on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:40:27 PM EST

Especially when leaders of both religeon and royalty have made numerous revisions to their scriptures to more suit their own designs. I don't think that any preacher is to be trusted really. You should find "God" in your own way, on your own terms. Besides, to quote an episode of the Simpsons "If God is all powerful, why would he care if we worship him or not?" That statement makes a good point. Why would an all powerful, all loving diety need our worship?

VoxLobster
I was raised by a cup of coffee! -- Homsar
[ Parent ]

R.A.H. has the answer (none / 0) (#511)
by bdhall1313 on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 11:18:44 PM EST

"Why would an all powerful, all loving diety need our worship?"

Robert Heinlein said it best: "Men have seldom if ever managed to create a god superior to themselves. Most gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child."

Brian

[ Parent ]

Need? (5.00 / 1) (#562)
by codepoet on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 03:05:03 AM EST

Whoever said need?  Want, surely, is obvious.  A father wants his children to love him.  It's no different.  There is no "need" here.

The cynical can often see the sinister aspect of a cup of coffee if given enough time.

"The French will only be united under the threat of danger. Nobody can simply bring together a country that has 265 kinds of cheese." - Charles De Gaulle,
[ Parent ]

Why so heavy on Christianity? (3.50 / 6) (#34)
by Hellraisr on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 09:08:36 AM EST

There are many other religions out there that also believe in God. I had to give you a -1. I also couldn't use the poll because it does not provide me an option that is appropriate for me. I think this article should have went to editing first. Remember kids, there are more choices in life than "I don't believe in God" on one hand and Xtian style religion on the other. Believe it or not, some people just believe in God without having religion whatsoever. Belief in God does not require religion. You don't need religion to tell you whether God exists or not. Religion just explains how a particular God did this or that or the other, it gives God a personality, something which I imagine God doesn't even have. Personalities are a flawed creation of man.

That would be: (5.00 / 1) (#50)
by Happy Monkey on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 10:33:06 AM EST

"other monotheist"
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[ Parent ]
An interesting view (none / 0) (#984)
by gbv23 on Thu Jun 26, 2003 at 07:21:25 PM EST

Here's an interesting excerpt that helps clarify what I see as one of the distortions that has occured over the years with regard to the life and death of Jesus. It was written in the 1930's and so is not especially "new-agey" I still think there's some good stuff in this rather conservative book but I also listen to newer "spooks" like Bashar and Seth (look 'em up for some good stuff on beliefs and how they create our experience) The Urantia Book -- Part IV. The Life And Teachings Of Jesus PAPER 188: Section 4. Meaning Of The Death On The Cross ------------------------------------------------- Although Jesus did not die this death on the cross to atone for the racial guilt of mortal man nor to provide some sort of effective approach to an otherwise offended and unforgiving God; even though the Son of Man did not offer himself as a sacrifice to appease the wrath of God and to open the way for sinful man to obtain salvation; notwithstanding that these ideas of atonement and propitiation are erroneous, nonetheless, there are significances attached to this death of Jesus on the cross which should not be overlooked. It is a fact that Urantia has become known among other neighboring inhabited planets as the "World of the Cross." Jesus desired to live a full mortal life in the flesh on Urantia. Death is, ordinarily, a part of life. Death is the last act in the mortal drama. In your well-meant efforts to escape the superstitious errors of the false interpretation of the meaning of the death on the cross, you should be careful not to make the great mistake of failing to perceive the true significance and the genuine import of the Master's death. Mortal man was never the property of the archdeceivers. Jesus did not die to ransom man from the clutch of the apostate rulers and fallen princes of the spheres. The Father in heaven never conceived of such crass injustice as damning a mortal soul because of the evil-doing of his ancestors. Neither was the Master's death on the cross a sacrifice which consisted in an effort to pay God a debt which the race of mankind had come to owe him. Before Jesus lived on earth, you might possibly have been justified in believing in such a God, but not since the Master lived and died among your fellow mortals. Moses taught the dignity and justice of a Creator God; but Jesus portrayed the love and mercy of a heavenly Father. The animal nature -- the tendency toward evil-doing -- may be hereditary, but sin is not transmitted from parent to child. Sin is the act of conscious and deliberate rebellion against the Father's will and the Sons' laws by an individual will creature. Jesus lived and died for a whole universe, not just for the races of this one world. While the mortals of the realms had salvation even before Jesus lived and died on Urantia, it is nevertheless a fact that his bestowal on this world greatly illuminated the way of salvation; his death did much to make forever plain the certainty of mortal survival after death in the flesh. Though it is hardly proper to speak of Jesus as a sacrificer, a ransomer, or a redeemer, it is wholly correct to refer to him as a savior. He forever made the way of salvation (survival) more clear and certain; he did better and more surely show the way of salvation for all the mortals of all the worlds of the universe of Nebadon. When once you grasp the idea of God as a true and loving Father, the only concept which Jesus ever taught, you must forthwith, in all consistency, utterly abandon all those primitive notions about God as an offended monarch, a stern and all-powerful ruler whose chief delight is to detect his subjects in wrongdoing and to see that they are adequately punished, unless some being almost equal to himself should volunteer to suffer for them, to die as a substitute and in their stead. The whole idea of ransom and atonement is incompatible with the concept of God as it was taught and exemplified by Jesus of Nazareth. The infinite love of God is not secondary to anything in the divine nature. All this concept of atonement and sacrificial salvation is rooted and grounded in selfishness. Jesus taught that service to one's fellows is the highest concept of the brotherhood of spirit believers. Salvation should be taken for granted by those who believe in the fatherhood of God. The believer's chief concern should not be the selfish desire for personal salvation but rather the unselfish urge to love and, therefore, serve one's fellows even as Jesus loved and served mortal men. Neither do genuine believers trouble themselves so much about the future punishment of sin. The real believer is only concerned about present separation from God. True, wise fathers may chasten their sons, but they do all this in love and for corrective purposes. They do not punish in anger, neither do they chastise in retribution. Even if God were the stern and legal monarch of a universe in which justice ruled supreme, he certainly would not be satisfied with the childish scheme of substituting an innocent sufferer for a guilty offender. The great thing about the death of Jesus, as it is related to the enrichment of human experience and the enlargement of the way of salvation, is not the fact of his death but rather the superb manner and the matchless spirit in which he met death. This entire idea of the ransom of the atonement places salvation upon a plane of unreality; such a concept is purely philosophic. Human salvation is real; it is based on two realities which may be grasped by the creature's faith and thereby become incorporated into individual human experience: the fact of the fatherhood of God and its correlated truth, the brotherhood of man. It is true, after all, that you are to be "forgiven your debts, even as you forgive your debtors." http://urantiabook.org/newbook/ppr188_4.html

[ Parent ]
Theism springs from the ego of the human bean... (4.00 / 2) (#62)
by knott art on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 10:51:33 AM EST

everybody wants his god to be number 1... just as he is number 1.

"Bet my god can whip your god."
Knott Art

no (none / 0) (#75)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 11:49:22 AM EST

Theism stems from the Human condition itself, not ego.

Every human on the planet wants to know their origins, it's the way we are.

This might be by design (which raises furhter questions) or not (which raises even more).

It would be wrong to attribute it to "ego" though.


It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

You're both right (5.00 / 2) (#133)
by cestmoi on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:01:27 PM EST

Egoism does play a role as well as the question of origins. If a person can get hepped up about a local football team beating another, it's foolish to say that dynamic has no role in choosing a religion. OTOH, it's equally true that some people will choose to believe in a god because they have difficulty understanding how the universe came into existence. Never mind that ascribing the big bang to an omniscient being merely pushes the question to the next level.

My personal feeling is that most people believe in a god because it comforts them in difficult times. That comfort helps people survive those inevitable periods and hence increases the chance they'll be around to have kids later on. Not only does belief help a widow survive, it also helps the friends of the deceased comfort the widow. Comfort is a strong element.

Religion also provides a framework that provides people a compass as to how to behave. It's a non-trivial feat to get millions of people to agree on acceptable behavior but without some consensus the society can't exist.

I've often wondered if intelligence isn't self destructive. Some evolve to a point where they don't believe in a god and cast about trying to find a reasonable alternative framework. Some succeed, some don't. Meanwhile, the fundamentalist decry the transition and in an attempt to return to the old ways try to kill off the infidels. At some point, technology evolves to the level that one way or another, life ends up hitting the reset button.

[ Parent ]

Here's to The God of Doubt (none / 0) (#296)
by knott art on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:50:34 PM EST

C'est le mot. (nice handle)

Je suis purdu (happily so)

Here's to the god of doubt; may it reign until disproven...
Knott Art
[ Parent ]

Why I don't believe (4.83 / 6) (#65)
by gauntlet on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 11:06:47 AM EST

First, let me say that this story was well-written. The author acknowledged their perspective, but managed to prevent a reasoned explanation of various viewpoints as seen from that perspective.

So I'm encouraged to share mine.

I'm the son of Irish Catholics. Irish Catholicism, as differentiated from regular Catholicism, is strange. It is typically staunch, but also not very demanding. Go ahead and sin, just confess your way out of it.

Where I live, the seperate school board was Catholic, so I went to Catholic schools until high school. I got a job when in high school that required me to work Sunday mornings. At that point, my parents could no longer justify dragging me to church. When I lost the job, their desire to drag me to church disappeared, and I stopped going.

I was married in the Catholic church. I will occasionally attend Christmas or Easter services in the Catholic church, but I haven't in some time.

The moment that decided it for me came when I was about 12 years of age. My mother would get up on Sundays, and start getting us out of bed. She would make breakfast, ensure we dressed appropriately, and tidied ourselves up. Meanwhile, dad would get up at his leisure, shit shave shower shine and shampoo, and hop into the car. Mom, inevitably, would not be ready to leave, and we would sit in the car waiting, with dad grumbling about how we can never be on time for anything, because we children forced mom to drag us out of bed in the morning.

This particular sunday, we're sitting in the car, and Dad's complaining, and I say something to the effect of "What good is going to church every Sunday if all it does is make you angry with Mom and us?"

In the next moment, my father hit me across the face.

That was the one and only time my father ever hit me, and I know for a fact that he feels guilty about it to this day, 14 years later. I've forgiven him, because in the meantime I've realized that the question was very hurtful.

But it made me absolutely certain that the question meant something, and that the answer was important. I started to question the good that came from my parents' faith. And there is a lot of good that comes from it. But I looked at the things that were good, that came from the church, and I came to the conclusion that those things were not coming from God, they were coming from people.

So whether or not God existed became immaterial to the important question: whether or not the church was good. God no longer had a direct effect, for me, on good and bad. When the question of benefit or detriment was removed from the question of whether or not there was a god, that is to say, when for me the world was the same whether or not God existed, it was obvious he did not.

I still see the good that comes from religion, as much as I may disagree with its dogma. And I believe the good outweighs the negative in most places. I will likely baptise my children, out of respect for my parents' faith, and the value of community. But I don't believe in God. I don't need to.

Into Canadian Politics?

cutting off the head to cure the cut on your nose (none / 0) (#71)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 11:32:26 AM EST

As someone who was raised catholic, I think your experiences mirror about 90% of us out there...sad really.

You thoughts trouble me though. Although you rightly removed the question of god's existance from that of the necessity of the catholic church, you convieniently link them back together once you've discovered that catholism is not for you.

Why?

Typical to most catholics, (as well as many others) you seem to believe that god should prove himself to you, and that his role should be to make this world somehow better. Noble goals, no doubt, but just because god does not fufil the role you have set out for him, does not negate his existance!

Now, many will say they agree, but that god is irrelevant to them. Fair enough, that may be true. But just as a specifc shrub in India is irrelevant in my life, that doesn't negate the fact that it exists. Notably, a lot of eastern religions theorise that said bush is relevant, even though this may not be apparent to us.

At any rate, as a human I would think that it would be natural for you to question your origins... but I would examine why you feel that a god needs to fit into the role you define, before assuming that he is irrelevant.
 

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

you're begging the question. (none / 0) (#154)
by gauntlet on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:17:50 PM EST

I'm not sure I understand, so let me try and parse it out, here...

Oh, I think I'm starting to understand. You're saying that it's all well and good to decide that the catholic church isn't for me, but that doesn't invalidate the existence of god.

Yeah, that's not the thought process I was using. The thought process I was using is this:

Is the Catholic Church good? Yes, overall.

Why? Because of what people do.

Is that true, whether or not God actually exists? Yes.

So God doesn't need to exist in order for religion to be a good thing? Right.

By ignoring the question of whether or not God exists when evaluating my religion, I was able to conclude that God was not the source of good. If I have something else with which to replace god, in the sense that people need something in which to believe and have hope, then I can evaluate my belief in God free of my less rational desires.

When God existing doesn't mean anything, he doesn't.

If you're saying that my reasoning doesn't prove the non-existence of God, you're right. Nothing could. But I don't believe God has some responsibility to prove himself to me, and make the world a better place. In order for me to believe that, I would have to believe in god, which I don't. What you're talking about is how most catholics doubt the existence of god. I'm not one of those catholics. I don't doubt his existence. I deny it.

I could be wrong. I'm not so proud as to deny that. And yes, it would be much easier for me to be wrong about the existence of God if he was pointless. For instance, if he were a shrub in India.

That is not to say that I believe he is irrelevant. I don't. To believe he is irrelevant requires me to believe he exists, and I don't.

We keep coming back to that, don't we? :)


Into Canadian Politics?
[ Parent ]

Why I'm not an atheist... (2.83 / 6) (#67)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 11:11:00 AM EST

I always like to counter questions like the one posed here with this statement:

An atheist has a lot more faith in absolutley nothing than I could ever have in God.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown

Of course it depends on what you call faith (4.00 / 2) (#70)
by JetJaguar on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 11:30:25 AM EST

From my experience, what I call faith tends to be a very different kind of thing from what the average religious person calls faith. The author's quotes from Feynman point to why this is the case, and why your statement is, largely irrelevent and more than a little arrogant.

[ Parent ]
that's the point... (3.33 / 3) (#74)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 11:44:43 AM EST

To make the conclusion "there is no god" because the is no evidence to support one requires the same amount of "faith" as it does to make the conclusion that one does exist because it can't be proven that it doesn't.

Clearly, each position is equally arrogant (which is what my comment stives to highlight).

The only true scientific conclusion to make is an agnostic one - that a "god" may in fact exist, but then again, he my not. There is no evidence to support either of the other alternatives.


It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Disbelief in something unproven... (5.00 / 2) (#105)
by handslikesnakes on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:36:49 PM EST

Requires no faith.

If I claim that I have all the powers of Superman, you probably won't believe me. Is that blind faith?
No - it's a rational position to take. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and both my superpower claims and someone's theist ones have no evidence whatsoever.

Also, I think you may be mistaken about agnosticism. IIRC, agnosticism is the belief that we cannot know whether God exists or not (an obviously unscientific position). Weak atheism ("I don't believe in God.") is probably the most scientific, in face of the complete lack of evidence.



[ Parent ]
extraordinary claims and faith... (3.33 / 3) (#136)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:06:10 PM EST

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence

Making the claim that there is no god is rather extraordinary in itself, espescially when one observes the universe around them.

Disbelieving in something unproven does require a certain faith. A faith in the system you use to determine "proof".

To further your example, if you actually do have superman powers, but simply chose not to use them, I am not able to prove that you do either way. To conclude that you do not is rather arrogant in itself, is it not?

Of course, for the purpose of science, this conclusion simply assigns a value to that which I am not sure, until I can assign a value to it. No harm done. However, stretching this simple scientific method into the realms of philosophy is where a multitude of problems start to reveal themselves.

So, if you want to discount the existance of God using scientific rules and explinations, you are indeed using faith. Faith in your science being accurate.

You are by no means any closer to a correct answer, however.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Why? (none / 0) (#159)
by michaelp on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:21:56 PM EST

Making the claim that there is no god is rather extraordinary in itself, espescially when one observes the universe around them.

It happened by processes we don't fully understand, but are learning more about every day seems less extraordinary than some superpowerful being did it.

Esp. when time after time what once was thought to be caused some superpowerful being turns out to be caused by natural processes.

Fire, lightning, hurricane, Grand Canyon, the progression is toward once big mysteries being explainable once enough was learned, it would be extraordinary if Universe was not part of this set.



"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

[ Parent ]
This highlights exactly what Feynman was saying (5.00 / 1) (#271)
by JetJaguar on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:22:39 PM EST

The religious person claims that it requires so much more faith to not believe in God, whereas the scientist has all kinds of evidence that the "Hand of God" is not required to make sure that sun will come up tomorrow (as well as a plethora of other things).

A scientist says, "Well, we've got a whole bunch of stuff here that doesn't really seem to need a helping hand from God, and everyday as my understanding grows I see that there is less need for some supernatural God stepping in all the time to keep the trains running, so is there really any need for a God at all?"

On the other side, in the most extreme of cases, you have people for which everything is a result of God's Will, and this idea is so ingrained in them that it is very difficult to see it any other way. Their faith is so strong that everything they see, everything that happens to them requires the direct intervention of God to make it happen.

It is these two extremes of faith that we live in between, and I think it is the misunderstanding of these extremes that is the result of much of the conflict between religion and science.

[ Parent ]

Scientific explainability (none / 0) (#396)
by Three Pi Mesons on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 06:02:09 PM EST

I see what you mean here, and the argument is very compelling. Keep in mind, though, that not all things in the world today are subject to scientific analysis. It's remarkable, really, that science does work so well: it seems to be almost a "magic key" in being so successful at explaining physical phenomena. It does have its limits: it's restricted to events that are observable and repeatable; hypotheses that can be falsified.

There are many mysteries in history to which we may never know the answers, because we don't have the evidence, nor can we go back and try it again. Indeed, much of our everyday experience in dealing with people is not really scientifically analysable. So I'd be hesitant in suggesting that science can explain everything, just because it explains a lot of things.

:: "Every problem in the world can be fixed with either flowers, or duct tape, or both." - illuzion
[ Parent ]

One answer (none / 0) (#485)
by pyramid termite on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 09:58:28 PM EST

It happened by processes we don't fully understand, but are learning more about every day seems less extraordinary than some superpowerful being did it.

But the opposite preposition - that the universe "just happened" without any cause, is also an extraordinary claim when so far, we have been able to prove causaulity in other things. I don't think one can use Occam's Razor without sufficient data.

Theism and atheism are both assumptions and are equally extraordinary claims.

On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
[ Parent ]
This is why I use the term "non-theist". (5.00 / 2) (#156)
by sjbrodwall on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:18:56 PM EST

It seems irresponsible to me to say that I'm an atheist, since atheism is usually understood as the belief that god doesn't exist. And I am not an agnostic, since I don't believe that knowledge about the existence of gods is impossible. I don't believe in any gods; that's not the same as believing there are no gods, or believing that we cannot know whether or not there are gods. "Non-theist" is the only label that really fits.

--
Time you enjoy wasting is not
wasted time.
    ~T. S. Elliot


[ Parent ]
I'm surprised (4.50 / 4) (#69)
by UltraNurd on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 11:19:33 AM EST

I did not expect the poll to swing so much towards agnostics and atheists. I know that many of the users of this site are of the geek persuasion, which is highly correlated with a lack of religious faith, but wow. Given the percentage of Americans who self-identify as judeo-christian (I wanna say something like 70%?), and the percentage of people world-wide who claim some religious faith (I think Contact said that it was at 95%), the poll seems highly unbalanced. I guess I'm just a poor, confused, Lutheran geek leaning on God as a crutch... ;o)

--
"Your Mint Mountain Dew idea is hideous and wrong."
-Hide The Hamster

More atheists than you think (4.00 / 1) (#189)
by JahToasted on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:48:28 PM EST

Last I heard there were over a billion Atheists worldwide. Think about the numbers in China, Russia, and a good chunk of Europe, and it makes sense.

Please keep in mind that the US is one of the most religious nations in the world, comparable to Iran in terms of religious devotion.
______
"I wanna have my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames" -- Jim Morrison
[ Parent ]

Consider the audience (4.00 / 1) (#194)
by Cro Magnon on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:51:03 PM EST

Everyone knows that K5 is full of godless liberal commies! :):):)
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
witness (none / 0) (#573)
by adiffer on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 03:39:23 AM EST

You are seeing part of why I am optimistic about the future of Humanity.

Not only is there a strong geek persuasion around here, there is also a strong generational correlation.  These folks are going to grow up and be in charge of all sorts of things because they will have the tools and experience to cope.  The world will continue to change as they all move in.
--BE The Alien!
[ Parent ]

Education (none / 0) (#839)
by Jman1 on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 11:44:33 AM EST

K5 is not a random cross-section of the USA or the world. It's composed mostly of educated people. Education has an inverse relationship with religious belief.

[ Parent ]
Religious Writings (none / 0) (#842)
by UltraNurd on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 12:15:42 PM EST

These were created by the most educated people of their time. Even now, the people who write books about religion have completed at least a level of higher education.

I have never thought, as I gained knowledge in school and college, particularly in the sciences, that my religion was less valid. I was exposed to both scientific and religious education at an early age, well before I was ready to decide one way or the other. I think that it is not terribly difficult to synthesize a worldview that accepts a scientific explanation of how our world works, and a religious explanation for why it is there. The education/religion relationship you are describing has more to do with people objecting to organized religion because of the various horrible things it has done throughout history, not because they don't want to believe in things beyond their perception. After all, many people believe that there are quarks (I am one of them), and yet, we will never observe them directly. We have to infer their existence from documented macroscopic evidence, and how they fit into the framework of the Standard Model and other theories. In a very similar way, some people (I am one of them), infer the existence of God from their experiences (blessings) and their observations of events in the world (miracles).

--
"Your Mint Mountain Dew idea is hideous and wrong."
-Hide The Hamster
[ Parent ]

I agree (none / 0) (#927)
by Jman1 on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 12:17:30 PM EST

I never meant to imply that no religious people were highly educated -- that's obviously not the case. I was just pointing out the inverse correlation btw religion and education and applying it to the k5 demographic. One side point which has interested me for a while now is what the great religious thinkers of other ages would be like if they were to grow up in the same world we did. The best of them were honestly on a quest for truth and perhaps some would have gone down a different path.

[ Parent ]
Why I'm an atheist (4.90 / 10) (#73)
by vadim on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 11:37:15 AM EST

It's because I've thought about it, and decided I just have no need to believe in a god or anything of that kind. I believe that a god is simply the generic answer to what hasn't been answered yet. Christianity has this "misterious ways of God" thing that annoys me a little. It's just another wildcard that some people use to avoid thinking by themselves.

For example, at some time people used to believe that lightining was caused by Zeus, Thor or some other god. Why? Probably because they saw something scary on the sky and just had to find an explanation to it. Of course, the easiest explanation is to invent something that you can attribute everything you don't know to, that is, a god.

Lightning? That's caused by God. Pregnancy? That's God too. A tree fell down on your kid? That's God punishing you for being evil. Probably the thought that things just happen for no special reason is too desperating for some people. They want to believe there's some reason why things happen.

However, with time, we learned that lightning is caused by an electric discharge between clouds and ground. We learned to do artificial insemination. And we learned that if you look good enough you can see that a tree or piece of rock is going to fall down before it does. I believe that science will explain everything else some day.

I simply see no need to attribute things like my good luck or lack of it to a superior being. I prefer to think that what happens with me is caused by myself, and not somebody who sits somewhere in the clouds and decides I should have a bad day because I'm not good enough.
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.

um... (3.75 / 4) (#76)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 11:50:49 AM EST

I simply see no need to attribute things like my good luck or lack of it to a superior being. I prefer to think that what happens with me is caused by myself, and not somebody who sits somewhere in the clouds and decides I should have a bad day because I'm not good enough.

How is this different from normal Christian thought... free will is a huge tenet of christianity, as well as other religions.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Well (5.00 / 1) (#99)
by vadim on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:19:33 PM EST

Christians pray, and believe that God can punish people. Take for example the flood, or the various tests of faith God did to some people. Although, yes, there's free will, I suppose.

The difference is in that I don't believe praying, or having faith will somehow save me. I think that hoping that some superior being will have pity and help me seems is useless. If I screw up, I have to deal with it, and fix it myself.
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]

ignorance... (4.00 / 4) (#102)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:30:58 PM EST

I don't mean it as an insult, but you're a little ignorant to some of the teachings of christianity. Funny thing is this is probably due to your being raised as a christian.

At any rate, Christains are supposed to believe that God is reserving all future judgment of humans until the "end", where the final call will be made on an individual basis.

As far as Noah goes, Chrisitanity make it quite clear that this was a one time thing, and that God does not interfere with people's lives in this manner, really. The teachings of Jesus explain that God is basically letting us do what we want for the time being.

I don't believe praying, or having faith will somehow save me

You're correct, it won't. Christians believe that
you can only be "saved" by living life as jesus did. Sencerity is a big part of it, one that God will presumibly be able to know, regardless.

Your views don't conflict with Christian teaching at all.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Hmmm.... (5.00 / 1) (#117)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:51:03 PM EST

You're correct, it won't. Christians believe that you can only be "saved" by living life as jesus did.

That's not quite true.

This is an example of the old "Faith versus Works" argument that began the day after the first easter. There are denominations within Christianity that argue that faith is all you need. There are others that argue that faith is nothing without works to back it up. I've even heard the claim (possibly groundless) that it is possible to be a "good Jew" with out actually believing in God - that is, that if you adhere to the rules of Judaism, believe is irrelevant. (Like I said, that's just something I once heard and probably false).

Anyway, you can even find people who will say "Well, if you really believe, you'll want to act on that belief".

I tend to feel that works are more important than faith, myself...


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
hehe... (none / 0) (#147)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:12:01 PM EST

I knew someone whould take me up on that...

My bad for making that sentence so ridiculously obscure.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

No, I wasn't raised as a christian (5.00 / 1) (#119)
by vadim on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:52:42 PM EST

So I'm indeed quite ignorant about it. Anyway, my idea wasn't to attack christianity or any religion in particular.

My point is that mostly I don't kill not because God says killing isn't right, or because a priest says I'm going to hell if I do, but because my own opinion is that isn't right.

It's true that many things I do don't disagree with chrisianity, but there are also things in it that I don't like and ignore.

For example, I don't believe in heaven and hell. I think that when I die I will simply be gone. The atoms I'm made of will be reused for something else later. It's a kind of reincarnation I suppose. I also don't believe I have a soul, I think I'm just a product of chemical reactions. I think life can be made on a computer.
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]

sorry.. (none / 0) (#146)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:10:47 PM EST

I'm replying to much... I had you mixed up with someone else... hence my focus on Christianity.

:-)

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

so (none / 0) (#488)
by gdanjo on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 10:09:56 PM EST

It's just another wildcard that some people use to avoid thinking by themselves.
So you beleive that every man is a god unto himself? Perhaps God exists to ease the burden of thinking, a luxury that not all people can afford (after all, one needs to be trained in the art of thinking).

I believe that science will explain everything else some day.
That's a big Leap of Faith.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

Believing that science will explain everything (none / 0) (#574)
by vadim on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 03:56:07 AM EST

is not necessarily a big leap of faith. Mine is definitely not the kind of faith people have when they say "I just *know* that God exists and nothing will make me change my mind".

No, I've just seen how science explained many things that were previously attributed to God, and think it will continue doing so. It's always possible that we aren't smart enough to understand some things, or that some questions don't have a scientific answer.
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]

moral guidance (none / 0) (#711)
by gdanjo on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 09:37:27 PM EST

is not necessarily a big leap of faith. Mine is definitely not the kind of faith people have when they say "I just *know* that God exists and nothing will make me change my mind".
Then let me make things easier for you: When people say they *know* that God exists, it's exactly the same - I repeat, exactly the same - as your beleif in science.

No, I've just seen how science explained many things that were previously attributed to God, and think it will continue doing so. It's always possible that we aren't smart enough to understand some things, or that some questions don't have a scientific answer.
Throughout history, man has been attributing discoveries to the wrong entity. For example, many people beleive that Hooke should have received more credit for his work with optics - that Newton took all the limelight. Same with Tesla. Newton was seen as a God by previous scientist, but now every one of his theories is wrong (at least, in a very small way, but science is about absolute truth).

Similarly, it was man - from the very same stock as scientists - that wrongly attributed physical phenomena to God.

Please don't lump me, or the old-language of the faithful, with those fallable men that only wanted power - something that, today, scientists and technologists are giving away, without any moral guidance whatsoever (morality is, after all, seen as a burden to scientists).

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

Why throw science against religion? (none / 0) (#982)
by slaida1 on Thu Jun 26, 2003 at 04:58:58 PM EST

I admit, I've done it and probably will do in the future, too. But these comments where so many other people does that same thing made me thinking, why?

Science, regarding religion, has most of the time that I'm aware of used religious writings to study mindsets, cultures, beliefs, ailments, catastrophes, etc. of our ancestors and countless of artistic or othervise valuable treasures has been found because we have/had religions. For researchers, religions are one useful resource among many others and it shows, they discover and study, broadening our collective knowledge ever further no matter what.

Just think how much we today know about various religious movements throughout the world and it's history! And even better, most of it is common knowledge, accessible for all of us fortunate enough to have libraries or internet.

If anything, science gives us more freedom to choose among many possibilities than just what our parents pass on us...

PS. I've found most conversations unsatisfying where religious beliefs are subjected to rational and/or critical questions and logical thinking. I've since concluded that beliefs concerning god are somehow incompatible with such reasoning and therefore one just can't think himself out or into believing in God. It just happens if it happens and that's it.

[ Parent ]

wrong (4.00 / 4) (#77)
by minus273 on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 11:52:40 AM EST

hey. "especially one who fails to manifest himself to us" is not only wrong but factually incorrect.
Maybe in youre religion you fail to see god. Hindu gods have been coming to earth for mellenia. You can see the goddess living in kathmandu (my home town ) here.
And there are more.
Please dont include hinduism or buddhism in your blanket statement.

Isn't the Dali Llama a god, too? [nt] (none / 0) (#80)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 11:55:55 AM EST


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
The dalai lama (none / 0) (#93)
by minus273 on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:11:45 PM EST

is a manifestation of a buddha in human form. Physically, he is human, inside he is not. This is similar to Gautam Buddha (who everyone calls the Buddha)who is just a person who attained enligtenment. Thus he is a Buddha.

[ Parent ]
buddha (5.00 / 1) (#263)
by hadd0ck on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:05:43 PM EST

let me get straight to the point: we all have buddha nature. what's more, everything has buddha nature. talking of buddha as if it were some kind of a god doesn't make any sense. you can't be "a buddha". the moment of enlightenment isn't the moment when you become buddha, but the moment when you realize you are buddha.
furthermore, your dualistic explanation of being human in the physical aspect but not in the "inside" is also wrong; separating the body and the spirit (if that's what you meant) is just an abstract categorization, it is not real; it is the wrong understanding, at least if we're discussing buddhism.

i feel that in general, people have a very poor understanding of buddhism.

cheers....................................hadd0ck

[ Parent ]
No fair (5.00 / 2) (#134)
by Happy Monkey on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:01:28 PM EST

manifesting as a human with no magic powers. That's functionally the same as not manifesting at all.
___
Length 17, Width 3
[ Parent ]
Atheists want end to churches giving tips to cops (3.00 / 5) (#78)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 11:54:55 AM EST

Just saw this headline.... Holy Crimebusters Take Heat From Civil Rights Advocates.

Lynn has no problem with clergy providing services that the chaplains perform in Harvey, but worries that having a mayor come to religious orders for help gives them a type of "official blessing."

Nothing like another example of blind hostility to religion....


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


Reading problems? (5.00 / 2) (#124)
by michaelp on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:54:17 PM EST

Thats the Rev. Barry Lynn, president of Americans United for Separation of Church and State & Minister of the United Church of Christ.

Whether atheists want preists to be deputized agents of the state or not, AUSCS is not an atheist organization, but rather one dedicated to defending Jefferson's Wall of Separation.

In fact, if you look at what has happened (& is happening) to belief in nations where religious leaders are agents of the state, protesting attempts to deputize priests is the opposite of 'hostility to religion'.



"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

[ Parent ]
There's a difference between (3.00 / 2) (#145)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:10:35 PM EST

refusing to endorse a religion and excluding people from public life because they have religious beliefs. The Constitution only supports the former.


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
Theres also (none / 0) (#160)
by puppet10 on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:22:48 PM EST

a difference between atheists and a religious group strongly for the separation of church and state.  

A 'subtle' distinction seemingly lost on your astounding powers of logic and observation.

[ Parent ]

The ACLU is a religious group? (3.00 / 2) (#165)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:27:55 PM EST

It would seem I'm not the only person who isn't reading carefully....


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
No, you're the one with reading difficulties (none / 0) (#172)
by michaelp on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:35:29 PM EST

Again, Lynn is the president of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, though that might be better characterized as a group led by a Reverend, which is strongly for the separation of church and state, it's certainly not the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

[ Parent ]
Jesus christ, dude, read the article. (2.66 / 3) (#185)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:45:40 PM EST

Despite protests from Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the American Civil Liberties Union, Mayor Kellogg is planning on expanding the program and is looking for a rabbi or imam to include in his city's fight against crime.


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
Nice Bait and Switch (none / 0) (#197)
by michaelp on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:53:43 PM EST

but you started the discussion with a quote by Lynn & never mentioned another group, so of course honest debaters would think you subsequent comments referred to his group.

Of course, further componding your error ("Atheists want end to churches giving tips to cops") is that neither AU nor ACLU is an atheist group.

If either can be labled with any sort of 'ist' it would be Constitutionalist groups, since that is what they specifically are formed to protect and promote.



"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

[ Parent ]
Yeah, yeah. (2.00 / 1) (#203)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:57:03 PM EST

Bait and switch because I started at the top of the article and read it all the way to the bottom, eh?


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
Bait and switch (5.00 / 1) (#261)
by michaelp on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:02:14 PM EST

because you quoted a person from one group (bait) and then went on to talk about a second group w/o indicating you had swtiched groups (switch).

As far as 'reading to the end of the article', your accusation that this was an attack by atheists on religion demonstrates that you failed to read any of the middle.



"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

[ Parent ]
Deputizing (none / 0) (#167)
by michaelp on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:29:35 PM EST

religious leaders is in fact a religious test for public office, not to mention the opposite of of excluding: it's giving people a special state position due to their religious beliefs.

If one had a program seeking leaders of any and all community programs to work with the police, and the only ones who happened to volunteer were religious leaders, you would have a different situation.

The situtation described in your initial post however involves specifically seeking out religious leaders for a state position.

In any event, it's clear that your intial claim that Lyn's opposition was "atheist" was just a witch hunt, believers can and do oppose state-church partnerships with good, faith based, reason.



"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

[ Parent ]
Oh, please. (5.00 / 2) (#166)
by gbd on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:28:36 PM EST

The man holds religious and political viewpoints that are different than the original poster's, so he is quite clearly an atheist. He probably beats up elderly people, kicks puppies, and eats children for breakfast as well.

--
Gunter glieben glauchen globen.
[ Parent ]
Exactly. (2.00 / 1) (#188)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:47:55 PM EST

Glad there's someone here who agrees with me...

:-P


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
Why I don't believe (4.40 / 5) (#96)
by quartz on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:16:28 PM EST

Well, why would I? I don't feel the slightest need for some sort of higher meaning in my life -- I'm perfectly content to live my life free of any kind of meaning whatsoever. I'm not afraid of death. Reason is the only tool I need to understand the world. It also provides the only framework I need to interact with other people; I don't feel like I'm losing anything by not participating in super-spiritual happy magic communion church rituals or "connecting" with the "community" at any other levels. I have nothing to pray for. I have no use for faith.

By definition, to have faith is to believe strongly in something for which there is no proof; I see no good reason to do that.

--
Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke, and fuck 'em even if they can.

Question (none / 0) (#242)
by motty on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:30:20 PM EST

How do you support your assertion that 'reason is the only tool I need to understand the world'?
s/^.*$//sig;#)
[ Parent ]
What do you mean, support? (none / 0) (#328)
by quartz on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:43:03 PM EST

I'm not making an argument here, I'm just stating the way I feel. One day I just said to myself: self, do you feel like you need other discovery tools besides reason? Like, I don't know, religion, or spirituality, or meditation, or psychedelic drugs, you know, stuff like that? And my self said to me: no thanks, I'm fine. Philosophy and science is all I need.

In other words, if there's something about the world that I could find out only by dropping acid or going to church, then I'll never know it, and that doesn't bother me at all.

--
Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke, and fuck 'em even if they can.
[ Parent ]

once upon a time... (none / 0) (#653)
by nads on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 01:45:04 PM EST

... faith would have been included in reason. Reason really is an aggregation of a bunch of disparate ideas. You're really hiding in the romance of reason.

[ Parent ]
Reason the only tool (none / 0) (#693)
by manekineko on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 05:25:08 PM EST

I would actually rephrase this to be even stronger, reason is the only tool we have available to understand the world with. I would be curious to see any attempt at refutation of this. Without applying reason, we cannot even debate any claims whatsoever, this one included.

[ Parent ]
Unreasonable (none / 0) (#780)
by motty on Sun Jun 22, 2003 at 04:42:26 PM EST

There are many examples of domains where reason is an insufficient tool to provide understanding. It has been my experience that understanding my own emotional makeup has required more than reason alone. Reason alone failed me there. There exists anecdotal evidence that reason alone has failed others also in the same sphere.

Poetry is another domain that provides levels of understanding of the world which are beyond the purely reasonable. Reason alone can be extremely unhelpful when it comes to understanding poetry. Read Love Without Hope in the light of reason and you may be left thinking that it just doesn't make sense. Why should the young bird-catcher sweep off his hat to the Squire's own daughter even though it would mean the loss of all the birds he had captured that day?

Reason can always be applied to some extent. Here we can say quite rationally that young healthy human males are known to be inclined to behave in an exuberant manner when in the presence of attractive young females, and that in highly caste-ridden societies it is not uncommon for members of lower castes to develop powerful emotional attachments to members of upper castes and indulge in highly self-destructive behaviour as a result.

Yet 'Love Without Hope' describes an emotional experience, and explain it and analyse it as we may, we have not truly understood it until or unless we too feel some echo of that experience, as evoked by the text and as echoed in either memory or empathy. Love. Without hope. If you've never been there, and really don't get it, well, lucky you.

Reason is a great tool. It applies in many domains. But it seems unreasonable and irrational, as well as plain wrong in my experience, to expect reason to apply to all domains. Why on earth should it?
s/^.*$//sig;#)
[ Parent ]

Faith is as much about trust as belief. (nt) (none / 0) (#299)
by nowan on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:52:57 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Tools? (none / 0) (#372)
by The Writer on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 05:21:14 PM EST

Belief in God is not a tool. If you're looking for tools, then I agree with you that belief in God doesn't meet that requirement.

[ Parent ]

Visions... (5.00 / 2) (#98)
by SiMac on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:18:36 PM EST

Most people don't see visions. They find them fascinating, however, because they violate what they traditionally think about the world. Ordinarily, these spirits are given the characteristics of an earthly animal, person, or object, and then a few are removed, added, or replaced. People pray because it provides them with hope.

That's not to say that God does or does not exist; I lean toward the second, but I'm an agnostic.

Also, there are good reasons for rejecting God as portrayed Christianity and Judiaism. How could a perfect God create imperfect humans and still be perfect? He can't be perfect himself. Are we just sucking up to a big bully? Or is there a way to restore confidence in God's goodness?

Why would God create us? Not as his servants, if he's omnipotent. What does he need with a bunch of sinning humans? The way around this, of course, is to say that he created us "to exist," but then everything conceivable must exist somewhere else too. That explanation seems somewhat unsatisfying for why a holy being would create us, although it's the best I could come up with. Any good Christians care to comment?

it's been reasoned before... (3.33 / 3) (#112)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:44:53 PM EST

It continues to amaze me how often the same questions about the nature of god continue to arise by atheists and agnostics of the past...

How could a perfect God create imperfect humans and still be perfect? He can't be perfect himself. Are we just sucking up to a big bully? Or is there a way to restore confidence in God's goodness?

Huh? He could create imperfect beings if he designs them to be imperfect. That the whole point. Why are we not perfect? Because in order for us to have free will from God, he must allow us to be seperate from him.

Why would God create us? Not as his servants, if he's omnipotent. What does he need with a bunch of sinning humans?

Think about this, which is the more precious to a father: The Child that is under his complete control, never being able to defy his father, or the child that is given free will, but chooses to love his father?

there are good reasons for rejecting God

There are indeed, but your reasons are quite elementary, and can be easliy discussed and reasoned around. As an aside, I'm not a Christian, considering myself more agnostic.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

whoops... (1.00 / 1) (#114)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:46:06 PM EST

It continues to amaze me how often the same questions about the nature of god continue to arise by atheists and agnostics of the past...

Should be...

It continues to amaze me how often the same questions about the nature of god continue to arise by atheists and agnostics have been answered in the past

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Nitpicking (5.00 / 1) (#132)
by pattern on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:00:58 PM EST

Because in order for us to have free will from God, he must allow us to be seperate from him.

If They are truly omnipotent, then I would think this would be a meaningless restriction. Why can't They give us free will without being seperate? There's no reason to indicate a supreme diety would be bound by such a silly human construction as logic.



[ Parent ]
sorry, (1.00 / 1) (#139)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:07:47 PM EST

I'm not sure I understand what you're trying to ask...

I want to though, try me again.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

hey gooberguy... (none / 0) (#210)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:03:15 PM EST

What's with the 1?

Asking for clarification a bad thing or something?

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Free will and consciousness (none / 0) (#391)
by Three Pi Mesons on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 05:47:03 PM EST

I'm inclined to see free will and an independent consciousness as part and parcel of the same idea. It certainly seems to me as if I have free will - a sort of self-Turing-test - and I can't imagine what it would be like to be conscious, yet not in control of your own thoughts and actions. If we are to be independent beings (our consciousness being distinct from God's or anyone else's) then we can't avoid having free will. Christians believe that there are other ways in which we are not separate from God, though.

:: "Every problem in the world can be fixed with either flowers, or duct tape, or both." - illuzion
[ Parent ]
If you thought that they were separate... (none / 0) (#432)
by SiMac on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 07:45:48 PM EST

If you assume separation, you'd typically conclude that we have consciousness but not free will, or that consciousness with free will is indistinguishable from consciousness without it. If we're independent, we can lack free will. My computer certainly doesn't have free will, but it's certainly independent from me. I have a suspicion that, if consciousness were deterministic, it would be possible to simulate it with computation on a computer similar to the one I have on my desk, only significantly more powerful.

Personally, I used to believe that we didn't have free will, but given that I have a strong belief in evolution's ability to pick out the best answer to a given problem, I think that the brain is probably quantum mechanical. A quantum mechanical brain gives us free will and explains how consciousness is different from simple computation.

[ Parent ]

There are lots of concepts here (none / 0) (#449)
by Three Pi Mesons on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 08:12:23 PM EST

I'm trying to say that independence from God means precisely that we have a distinct consciousness; and that being conscious implies having free will as well. Earlier, I should have said that I was thinking of entities that are vaguely "humanlike"; so yes, something can be independent from God and lack free will - like a rock - but if we are independent and conscious, we must have free will. (I agree with your position that we either have free will, or something so similar we can't tell the difference.)

I do think, though, that there's more to free will than simple non-determinism. There's a qualitative difference between something acting randomly and with active, yet free, intent. There are many mysteries in consciousness, and quantum effects may well play their part; but computers, too, are subject to these, so is it just a matter of scale, or of the organisation of the brain? Perhaps; but I can't help but feel that there's more to consciousness than "quantum randomness plus complicated plumbing".

:: "Every problem in the world can be fixed with either flowers, or duct tape, or both." - illuzion
[ Parent ]

Quantum computing vs. standard computing (none / 0) (#468)
by SiMac on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 08:45:30 PM EST

Being conscious does not necessarily imply free will. We have no proof, nor will we ever necessarily have any proof, that we have free will or that we don't have free will. My point is that we can conceivably be independent from God and still lack free will, just as a machine lacks free will, yet it is independent of its creator. Consciousness is something that we can be sure we have; in fact, it is one of the few things of which we can be sure. The same thing does not, however, apply to free will. Free will could easily be an illusion. It's also very conceivable that they come together, as a quantum theory of consciousness would suggest.

I agree that it's difficult to envision consciousness through standard computing, and impossible to envision free will through it. Quantum computing is much different from standard computing. In a quantum computer, multiple particles are "entangled" to allow the computer to carry out multiple operations concurrently (some believe these operations happen in multiple universes).

However, consciousness definitely arises from "complicated plumbing," at least in the way I see it. I reject that God had any influence in the evolution of humans from their common ancestor with chimpanzees, and as such I must believe that consciousness is somewhat like a pile of nuclear material. At first, nothing happens, but as you acquire more nuclear material/processing power, you start to see strange things happening. A chimpanzee lacks the brain power to be conscious, at least in the sense we are.

[ Parent ]

I am familiar with quantum computing (none / 0) (#582)
by Three Pi Mesons on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 06:04:55 AM EST

It seems to me like you're postulating a link between quantum theory and consciousness on the basis that quantum provides uncertainty. I imagine you've read The Emperor's New Mind - and if you haven't, you should. I do have doubts about whether quantum+plumbing is enough to explain consciousness, particularly since the brain doesn't seem to bear any more relation to a quantum computer than it does to a classical one. There are places where we might expect quantum effects to change the operation of the brain, but you can't say that such-and-such a neuron has the effect of a Hadamard gate, for example. The higher-level construction is all different, and indeed it's difficult to see the brain as "doing computation" at all. So I think that there's more to consciousness than that (and I'm speaking here only of the "physical" level, without reference to souls or anything else nonobservable).

I also maintain that consciousness requires (something indistinguishable from) free will, because I have to have freedom in my own thoughts. This may be a failure of my imagination, but I don't see how I could be thinking, yet lack the ability to think for myself.

:: "Every problem in the world can be fixed with either flowers, or duct tape, or both." - illuzion
[ Parent ]

Can something perfect create something imperfect (none / 0) (#277)
by SiMac on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:27:39 PM EST

<i> Huh? He could create imperfect beings if he designs them to be imperfect. That the whole point. Why are we not perfect? Because in order for us to have free will from God, he must allow us to be seperate from him.</i>

To me at least, it seems as if only something imperfect could design and create something imperfect. Otherwise, why can't I just say I'm perfect, but I do imperfect actions occasionally? If I'm truly perfect, my actions and creations should be perfect too.

<i>Think about this, which is the more precious to a father: The Child that is under his complete control, never being able to defy his father, or the child that is given free will, but chooses to love his father?</i>

But, why does the child exist? Your counterargument is a red herring; you just ignored the first two sentences of what I said, which were my main points. A human child exists because a drive for reproduction exists in the father as a result of evolution. God doesn't die, and doesn't evolve, and therefore this explanation doesn't work for him. Why would God create us?

[ Parent ]

Perfection/imperfection (5.00 / 1) (#383)
by Three Pi Mesons on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 05:38:11 PM EST

This argument is pretty meaningless. What is "perfection" supposed to mean, exactly? And why can't a "perfect" being create something less "perfect"? I can't run terribly fast, or multiply very large numbers quickly and accurately, but I can certainly make things which are less good at both of those tasks. If we are talking about being morally pure, who's to say that creation of the universe was immoral? Also, if God really is omnipotent, he can surely do what he likes without regard to the "purity" of his creation by your (human) standards.

As to why he might create the universe - we don't know. In many ways, it's too early to tell: the story hasn't played all the way out yet, and we're still inside the system, only able to see "through a glass, darkly". I suspect that to really understand why God created the universe, you'd have to be God.

:: "Every problem in the world can be fixed with either flowers, or duct tape, or both." - illuzion
[ Parent ]

Re: Perfection/Imperfection (none / 0) (#420)
by SiMac on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 07:27:08 PM EST

This argument is pretty meaningless. What is "perfection" supposed to mean, exactly? And why can't a "perfect" being create something less "perfect"? I can't run terribly fast, or multiply very large numbers quickly and accurately, but I can certainly make things which are less good at both of those tasks.

Perfection means holiness. That you can create things that are not as good at multiplying large numbers is irrelevant. If you claimed to be perfect at creating machines to multiply large numbers, and you created one which couldn't multiply large numbers perfectly, then you wouldn't be so perfect.

If we are talking about being morally pure, who's to say that creation of the universe was immoral?

And if we're not morally pure, who's to say that we're not morally pure? ;) If we acknowledge that we're not morally pure, we know our creator can't be morally pure. God knew he was creating something immoral. If I shoot a gun at someone, I'm not technically doing the immoral action, the bullet is. But that doesn't make me any less immoral.

Also, if God really is omnipotent, he can surely do what he likes without regard to the "purity" of his creation by your (human) standards.

Not while retaining his own purity. An omnipotent God can do whatever he likes, sure. But he won't necessarily retain all of his attributes. Think about what happens if he decides he doesn't want to be omnipotent.

I suspect that to really understand why God created the universe, you'd have to be God.

Or why not take the Occam's Razor approach, and say that it's much more likely that God did not create the universe, since that's a much simpler answer?

[ Parent ]
I see what you mean (none / 0) (#436)
by Three Pi Mesons on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 07:51:35 PM EST

So your argument is that it is impossible for God to create a being capable of evil, because such creation is an immoral act - that God shares the blame for anything bad his creations do. But I still maintain that it's a mistake to see the universe as evil: we don't know yet how it's going to turn out, so we can't judge whether its creation was good or bad. We humans may not individually be good, but particular evil acts we commit cannot detract from the infinite Goodness inherent in God, which surpasses our meagre understanding.

:: "Every problem in the world can be fixed with either flowers, or duct tape, or both." - illuzion
[ Parent ]
Imperfection (none / 0) (#471)
by ratpoison on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 08:50:22 PM EST

If I were omnipotent (meaning I can create or do anything perfectly) then I do not see myself having troubles purposefully making something imperfectly (it would actually defy my omnipotency).

The imperfection of humans does not imply that God was unable to create anything better (look to angels for example, they are closer to perfection), it implies that god chose to make us imperfect for whichever reasons.

As you say, perfection means holyness, and humans were not created to be a symbol of "holyness" according to the bible.

[ Parent ]

Is He still perfect afterwards? (none / 0) (#530)
by SiMac on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 12:18:30 AM EST

If I were omnipotent (meaning I can create or do anything perfectly) then I do not see myself having troubles purposefully making something imperfectly (it would actually defy my omnipotency).

The question is whether God can continue to be perfect after making something imperfect. No doubt he can make something imperfect if he is omnipotent, but if he was perfect before, is he still perfect afterwards?

The imperfection of humans does not imply that God was unable to create anything better (look to angels for example, they are closer to perfection), it implies that god chose to make us imperfect for whichever reasons.

This is a very weak induction argument. I agree that God can create things more perfect; I never said I didn't. The question is whether after he creates something imperfect whether He Himself can still be called perfect.
As you say, perfection means holyness, and humans were not created to be a symbol of "holyness" according to the bible.

I don't recall myself saying humans are a symbol of holiness. I used that as an example to show that it is ridiculous to say that simply because we're not morally pure, we can't say whether something else is morally pure or not. That's an ad hominem attack on our entire species.

[ Parent ]
Evilness (none / 0) (#569)
by codepoet on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 03:18:25 AM EST

I answered this one a few weeks ago for myself.  Thought I'd share the answer:


If God is good, then how could He create man, a creature capable of evil?

There are similar questions, of course, but this is the most succinct.  The answer is that God did not make evil; He made choice.  The best description of this is in, of all things, Matrix: Reloaded near the end where Neo meets the Architect.  "The problem is choice," Neo claims.  It's not that the machines couldn't make the world perfect, it's that the world that is perfect removes all choice from a man with evil intent and, thus, he "rejects the program."

It's unlikely that God has us in towers and pink blobs powering his big-screen TV, but certainly there's something to be said about choice.  Do we choose God, or not?  Do we choose good, or not?  We know the rules, will we follow them?  The problem is choice.  We were not given evil intent but merely a set of rules and the choice of following them or not.

Many choose not to.  We call that evil.

If God created things that became evil, then He created the seed of evil and, therefore, has evil in Him, which would go against His perfect goodness, which means that the God as you picture Him cannot exist.

I've always loved this one because it's so codependent that one crack shatters it completely.  Here's the crack: define evil.

You see, evil is not a force or a mindset but a choice.  Evil is the choice that opposes the right thing to do.  God gave us the right things to do and the option of following them.  God follows them (insomuch as we can tell) so that makes Him good.  We are the ones that chose not to follow them, so we are the ones that have that seed of evil in us from the concept we hold of not following Him.  For this argument to work, one would have to prove that God disobeyed His own laws, which, playing devil's advocate, you probably won't find documented in something like the Bible.



-- The cynical can often see the sinister aspect of a cup of coffee if given enough time.
[ Parent ]
The main question remains... (none / 0) (#652)
by SiMac on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 01:43:24 PM EST

It's unlikely that God has us in towers and pink blobs powering his big-screen TV, but certainly there's something to be said about choice.  Do we choose God, or not?  Do we choose good, or not?  We know the rules, will we follow them?  The problem is choice.  We were not given evil intent but merely a set of rules and the choice of following them or not.

Many choose not to.  We call that evil.


I have many disputes with this. First of all, there is evil built into our brain. A tendency toward agression and anger can be found in all of us. We are certainly not all "free will." There are certain aspects, such as our need to socialize and our need to reproduce, over which we don't have as much free will as we think we do. Second of all, if God creates something that could choose to be evil, he is again creating something evil. There's a certain element of "choice" in quantum mechanics, but if I direct some quantum mechanical phenomenon at someone knowing that it's possible I could inflict harm on them, I am still morally responsible for that.

I've always loved this one because it's so codependent that one crack shatters it completely.  Here's the crack: define evil.

You see, evil is not a force or a mindset but a choice.  Evil is the choice that opposes the right thing to do.  God gave us the right things to do and the option of following them.  God follows them (insomuch as we can tell) so that makes Him good.  We are the ones that chose not to follow them, so we are the ones that have that seed of evil in us from the concept we hold of not following Him.  For this argument to work, one would have to prove that God disobeyed His own laws, which, playing devil's advocate, you probably won't find documented in something like the Bible.


This is largely irrelevant because I haven't been talking about evil. Anyway, what about agents of Satan. Are they not "evil"? They don't have free will, but we still categorize them as evil, or at least I would.

Anyway, there's still the main question here: how can God create something with free will (and therefore something He knew was capable of doing evil) and still be "perfect"? If I give a bomb to a terrorist, the terrorist is the one who's going to make the choice whether to use it or not, not me. I'm giving him free will to use it, just as God gave us free will to live. But am I not also responsible because I am enabling him to do his evil actions? In the same way, is God not responsible for creating people who have a capacity for evil?

[ Parent ]
Ok... (none / 0) (#1038)
by Merc on Fri Jul 18, 2003 at 02:57:34 PM EST

Think about this, which is the more precious to a father: The Child that is under his complete control, never being able to defy his father, or the child that is given free will, but chooses to love his father?

Ok, but you're personifying an omnipotent, omniscient being as a father. A father is the same species as his kids. Wouldn't a more appropriate analogy be to compare a human to amoebas? But a human is not anywhere near omniscient or omnipotent. So even that isn't a decent analogy.

Why would some being infinitely more powerful, intelligent, etc. than me care more about me than I do about amoebas?

Christians always like to personify their god as a father, but when challenged on this interpretation, they always seem to fall back on "well he's omniscient and omnipotent so we can't understand him".

I don't know, if we can't understand this god, then why assume he's good? Why not assume he likes torturing people like a little boy tortures flies? Or maybe, more likely, if such a being exists, he would just ignore us completely and all the signs that he loves or hates us would really be the equivalent of our a mosquito thinking that humans are in love with it because they grow bumps where the mosquitos land.



[ Parent ]
Atheism is a Crutch for Weak People (4.50 / 26) (#103)
by dasunt on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:33:14 PM EST

Atheism is a crutch for people who need to believe in a rational world.

God represents what will forever remain unknown: what our primate mind can not and will never understand. The universe is a bizarre place, with powerful, unknown forces at work, and while science is trying to answer some of those questions, other questions are, and will remain, unanswerable.

Yet the atheist decides, based on limited evidence, that there is no possibility of a deity. Perhaps its for mental reasons: it is possible to live a life against God's will, but isn't it easier to declare that there is no God and feel the false sense of security that whatever you do is okay, since there cannot be any religious consequences? Perhaps its mankind's lazy behavior. Why bother having to learn about religion when you can declare that you don't believe it. Perhaps its a need to feel superior to all those "fools" who believer in religion, while unknowingly making a religion out of science and logic.

Personally, I feel that everyone should be free to believe in whatever they want to, but atheists tend to try to force their beliefs on others, especially with their Catholic-bashing (which they think is religion-bashing, but to a lot of atheists, "religion" and "catholicism" is the same thing).

Which brings up another point: The majority of atheists do not seem to know much about the belief systems they are rejecting. I enjoy a religious debate as much as the next guy, but atheists tend to not know what they are talking about. To an atheist, debate is either bringing up questions that Augustine answered almost two millennium ago, or else mentioning how the Catholic church is responsible for massacres in the past. Perhaps I should ask them about the problems of Steady-State theory in their rational universe or talk about how Pol Pot killed millions.

I could respect atheists a lot more if they understood religious philosophies and faith. Perhaps, if they studied, they'd find that a faith such as Mahayana Buddhism or Universal Unitarianism comes closer to their beliefs then atheism. Unfortunately, atheists seem to cherish the belief that since they don't believe in religion, they don't have to understand what religion is. Ironically, they often accuse the religious of being closed minded!

[ Consider the above a rant, a troll, sarcasm, or the truth. Who knows? ]



Very well put. [nt]. (3.00 / 4) (#110)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:41:17 PM EST


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
Very well put (nt) (3.00 / 4) (#115)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:46:24 PM EST



---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]
Wha?!? (4.00 / 4) (#116)
by Ta bu shi da yu on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:48:26 PM EST

Oops. Duplicated porkchop_d_clown's post. Erg.

Yours humbly,
Yours humbly,
Ta bù shì dà yú

---
AdTIה"the think tank that didn't".
ה
[ Parent ]

Very well put. [LOL!] (3.50 / 4) (#120)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:52:56 PM EST


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
for those people, it is. (5.00 / 4) (#130)
by pb on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:57:42 PM EST

I consider myself an Atheist (a "weak atheist", apparently) and a Unitarian Universalist as well, and I'd like to note that your opinions are good characterizations of some closed-minded, strong Atheists, but certainly not representative of all Atheists, or of myself. So be careful with that terminology, ok?  :)

Also, I don't need religion to tell me that the Universe isn't a rational or intuitively obvious sort of place; physics is more than enough for that, as far as I'm concerned.
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]

My Apologies... (5.00 / 4) (#149)
by dasunt on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:13:33 PM EST

My apologies, I never intended to imply that all atheists were ignorant or closed minded.



[ Parent ]
Interpretation (5.00 / 1) (#131)
by Happy Monkey on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:58:21 PM EST

God represents what will forever remain unknown: what our primate mind can not and will never understand. The universe is a bizarre place, with powerful, unknown forces at work, and while science is trying to answer some of those questions, other questions are, and will remain, unanswerable.

Indeed. The void of the unknown has always been the realm of gods. But is your post supposed to be in support of agnosticism? It reads like a refutation of deism after a search and replace.
___
Length 17, Width 3
[ Parent ]
Then I could say (5.00 / 1) (#143)
by vadim on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:10:11 PM EST

That religion is for people who can't handle reality and unanswered questions. Religion to me is a way of answering what have't been answered yet.

You're confusing atheism and agnosticism, btw. Atheism is simply the lack of belief. I don't have to decide there can't be a god. I just don't think there's one. This is an important difference from agnosticism, which means you've thought about the issue and decided it's not possible for God to exist.

To return to the weakness argument. I don't think that the lack of a need to believe in a superior being is a weakness. I see it more as a strength.

Atheism doesn't give me the false sense of security of that whatever I do is okay. On the contrary, I think I'm responsibe of everything I do, and that when I do something wrong I'm the one who has to fix it, and not by hoping that somebody up there will have pity and help me, but by actually doing something.
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]

Terminology (5.00 / 4) (#164)
by Happy Monkey on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:27:06 PM EST

You're a bit mixed up on terminology. Strong atheism is the firm belief that there is no god. Weak atheism is the lack of a belief in a god. Agnosticism is the belief that it is not possible to know whether or not there is a god.
___
Length 17, Width 3
[ Parent ]
Terminology is strange (5.00 / 1) (#170)
by vadim on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:33:46 PM EST

Last time I read on this, atheism was described as a (lack of) + theism (belief). So atheism is just the lack of a belief, and not necessarily a denial of anything.

I do think I messed up with agnosticism though.
--
<@chani> I *cannot* remember names. but I did memorize 214 digits of pi once.
[ Parent ]

Theism (5.00 / 1) (#846)
by synaesthesia on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 01:43:14 PM EST

Theism is actually the morbid condition resulting from the excessive use of tea. So Atheism is lack of dying through drinking too much tea.

Well, anyway. Compare and contrast the difference between agnosticism and ignorance (both from the same root, gnosis: knowledge) with how atheism and theism relate to one another.

Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]

hmm (4.75 / 4) (#151)
by urdine on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:16:19 PM EST

This response to atheist seems as broad-stroked and generalizing as the types of atheists you're complaining about. Personally, I'm agnostic--raised Christian, turned atheist, then decided I believed in "something"... existence, a higher power, God, whatever.

Atheists may be wrong, but most religions are potentially provably wrong--say we get a glimpse at history and prove that Christ never existed. Religious texts seem like good storytelling to me, and people "finding God" or "knowing they've been blessed" seems to me to be the same type of hyper pattern recognition that gets people into trouble at casinos or playing the lottery.

I think most atheists rebel against religion without understanding the subtleties of the philosophy or faith because that's not what they're rebelling against--they argue against the surface of the religion, the proclamations of miracles, or the concept of the religious hero (Jesus, Buddha, etc.), not the underlying morals or philosophies. I tend to agree with many religions' core philosophies, but that doesn't mean I put blind faith in them.

However, I think it's beneficial to put your spiritual trust into something, regardless of what or who it is, so I don't condemn people who follow an organized religion, but I also don't condemn atheists for thinking them stupid. It's a trade-off: pure faith in anything gives you spiritual satisfaction, but pure faith will always be faulty and full of logical holes.



[ Parent ]
Er, a quibble. (5.00 / 4) (#178)
by dasunt on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:42:21 PM EST

About the "proveably wrong" point - a lot of religious philosophy is based on faith, and can not be proved wrong. A good example would be Buddha, who was supposed to be enlightened. Can we prove that he was or wasn't? No.

As for Christ, its hard to prove a negative (that there wasn't a 1st century Jew who started his own religion). As for the 'son of god' part, how are you going to disprove that?

Sorry, but science does not have a deity test.

Next week: The impossibility of disproving that every object has its own spirit.



[ Parent ]
Without Belief (5.00 / 1) (#174)
by OneEyedApe on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:37:47 PM EST

From what I have read a theist usually refers someone who believes in some sort of higher power. The prefix "a-" in the English language serves as a negation, usually meaning "not". I am an atheist in that sense of the word. I do not believe in a higher power. I have nothing to say about the existance of God or a similiar being, I merely have no belief in such. It is not a belief in the non-existance of a deity, it is an absence of belief in a deity.

[ Parent ]
perfect !!!!!! [nt] (3.66 / 3) (#260)
by zzzeek on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:54:49 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Pure, content free, idiocy (3.85 / 7) (#310)
by nyet on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:15:13 PM EST

Religion is a crutch for people who need to believe in an irrational world.

Science represents what will forever remain unknown: what our primate mind can not and will never understand. The universe is a bizarre place, with powerful, unknown forces at work, and while religion is trying to answer some of those questions, other questions are, and will remain, unanswerable.

Yet the religious person decides, based on limited evidence, that there is no possibility of scientific consistency. Perhaps its for mental reasons: it is possible to live a life ignorant of science, but isn't it easier to declare that there is a God and feel the false sense of security that whatever happens is God's will, since there cannot be any predictable, consistent consequences? Perhaps its mankind's lazy behavior. Why bother having to learn about science when you can declare that you don't believe it. Perhaps its a need to feel superior to all those "fools" who believer [sic] in the scientific method, while unknowingly pretending there is a logical basis for religion.

Personally, I feel that everyone should be free to believe in whatever they want to, but the religious tend to try to force their beliefs on others, especially with their athiest-bashing (which they think is amorality-bashing, but to a lot of religious people, "athiesm" and "amorality" is the same thing).

Which brings up another point: The majority of religious do not seem to know much about the belief systems they are rejecting. I enjoy a religious debate as much as the next guy, but religious tend to not know what they are talking about. To a religious person, debate is either quoting platitudes from a work of fiction, or else mentioning how science is responsible for massacres in the past. Perhaps I should ask them about the problems of fossil records or the unfalsifiability of blind faith.

I could respect religous people a lot more if they understood the scientific method, biology and the sociological dangers of a priest ridden government. Perhaps, if they studied, they'd find that one requires no faith to use the scientific method. Unfortunately, religious seem to cherish the belief that since they don't believe in science, they don't have to understand what science is. Ironically, they often accuse scientists of being closed minded!


[ Parent ]

attn code poet (5.00 / 1) (#669)
by nyet on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 02:51:03 PM EST

do you an actual criticism or do you just hand out ones?

[ Parent ]
Religion is a Crutch for Weak People (3.66 / 6) (#316)
by wonkie on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:25:44 PM EST

Religion is a crutch for people who are afraid of the unknown.

God represents what is currently unknown: what our primate mind does not and may never understand. The universe is a bizarre place, with powerful, unknown forces at work, and while religion explains such things away as the work of God, science accepts the fact that we still have much to learn, and attempts to understand as much as possible.

Yet the theist decides, based on limited evidence, that a deity does exist. Perhaps it's for mental reasons: it is possible to live a life where you accept the consequences of your actions, but isn't it easier to declare that there is a God and feel the false sense of security that whatever you do is okay, since God will forgive you? Perhaps it's mankind's lazy behavior. Why bother to think your actions through, when you can pray for forgiveness or even worse, "kill 'em all and let God sort them out"? Perhaps it's a need to feel superior to all those "fools" who don't believe, while at the same time believing in science and logic whenever it's convenient to do so.

Personally, I feel that everyone should be free to believe in whatever they want to, but theists tend to try to force their beliefs on others. Whether it is through "faith-based initiatives", bombings of abortion clinics, or harassing people in public places and even at their own homes, theists for some reason feel compelled to have everyone believe as they do.

Which brings up another point: The majority of theists do not seem to know much about the belief systems they are rejecting. Why do they believe in their particular belief system, when there are so many others out there for them to choose from? Have they considered any of the other systems? And have they tried to understand why an atheist doesn't believe in God, rather than dismissing them as ignorant and/or evil? I enjoy a religious debate as much as the next guy, but theists tend to not know what they are talking about. To a theist, debate is either bringing up the brutal "atheist" regimes of China and the USSR, or using the bible as evidence of the existence of God. Perhaps I should ask them about the many atrocities committed in the name of religion over the years, or about the many contradictions in the bible.

I could respect theists a lot more if they understood other philosophies (religious and non-religious alike). Perhaps, if they studied, they'd be exposed to some new points of view that could give them a better understanding of people with different belief systems. They might even find another religion or philosophy that better matches their beliefs. After all, most people believe in the religion that they were taught as children, or a close derivative thereof. Unfortunately, theists seem to cherish the belief that since they believe in God, they don't have to understand other religions, philosophies, and points of view. Ironically, they often accuse the non-religious of being closed minded!

Disclaimer:

1. This post was intentionally every bit as broad and general as the original.
2. You can pretty much substitute "Christian" for theist in this post, as it's the religion with which I'm most familiar, and which most of the arguments are based upon.

[ Parent ]

HI :) (5.00 / 1) (#319)
by nyet on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:29:44 PM EST



[ Parent ]
atheists love being told what they believe (5.00 / 2) (#811)
by misanthrope112 on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 05:03:06 AM EST

I've met only a couple of atheists who decided ... "that there is no possibility of a deity." The vast majority, myself included, just find the idea of an deity absurd and unconvincing, no more credible than pink fuzzy all-powerful unicorns. My position on theism is not very complicated--I don't find it credible. That's about the extent of it. So no, I'm not asserting the non-existence of God or the omnipotence of science, or anything else. Most atheists have similar positions, I would guess. I'm reaching that conclusion the same way you are--by inferring from my experiences.

The problem is the coarsness of language--people take the sentence, "I don't believe in God," to mean, "I believe there is no God," when in actuality it means, "I lack a belief in God." The statements, "I believe there is no God," or, "I deny/repudiate God," are distinctly different from the first sentence. Believers, however, always attribute the second position to atheists, mainly because it's the only one that can relieve them of the burden of proof and put the atheist on the defensive. But for all its usefulness to you, it is just inaccurate for the vast majority of the people you ostensibly want to persuade. You've created a strawman that, judging from all the "Well said!" type posts, your fellow Christians find inspiring, but will just cause eye-rolling and sighs among the atheists. We've seen the strawman ruse before. If you want to 'refute' atheism, ask them what they believe, if anything, and refute that.

All of the atheists I've met, excepting maybe one or two, studied religion as a hobby, and actually liked reading the bible and about the bible. Most of them were far more knowledgeable about world religions, and even about Christianity, than the average Christians I've met. The sample size is smaller for the atheists, so that would probably explain the differences, but my experience runs completely counter to yours.

Most of the questions Augustine brought up two millenia ago (almost) are still floating around because the answers were and are satisfactory only to believers, and are not convincing to those who don't already have faith. Like Anselm said, "I believe so that I may understand," meaning that if you don't already have faith that the Christian arguments are true then you won't "understand" their truth.

isn't it easier to declare that there is no God and feel the false sense of security that whatever you do is okay, since there cannot be any religious consequences?
You might need to check your theology on that one. If I'm correct, you are not chosen for heaven or hell based on your acts, but based on whether or not you have accepted Christ as your savior. Gandhi may have led a great life, but according to Christianity he's burning for all eternity because he was Hindu and not Christian. Faith, not works, gets you to heaven.
I could respect atheists a lot more if they understood religious philosophies and faith.
Most believers only think that an atheist "understands" their faith if they share it. Any disagreement is chalked up as close-mindedness, stubbornness, or "looking with worldly eyes," my personal favorite. So unless you clarify what you mean by "understanding" I'm going to have to assume that you mean what I think you mean, meaning the same thing every other believer I've met has meant by the word.

A few clarifications of my position lest the questions come up later--

  1. Most atheists do not deify science.  It is not that they have faith that science can answer all of the questions, so much as that they think science is the only tool we have to understand the world around us.  Any answers coming from faith are just not useful, because those answers are no more insightful than closing your eyes and saying "God did it!" whenever you run into something you don't understand.  Most atheists, myself included, just do not think that faith adds any value to the debate.  Most theists, when questioned about the nature of their faith, about how God works, retreat into agnosticism, into poetical-sounding but useless phrases like, "We cannot fathom God's ways," or "God's ways are mysterious," etc.  These statements all mean one thing -- "I don't know."  There is nothing wrong with not knowing, unless you cloak your ignorance in pietistic clichés and try and offer that as an answer to the question.   There are many questions science cannot answer about the world around us, but that does not mean that the person standing there saying "Ah, now we've come back to God!" is adding any value to the debate.  That contributes nothing.  Just say, "Well, it looks as if we don't know, do we?" because that's the only accurate statement you can make when you don't know something.
  2. Atheists do not bear the burden of explaining why you are here, what you should do with your life, or why you should be a good person.  Saying you don't find atheism "convincing" because atheists can't supply those answers is absurd, because atheism is not a belief system, but only a word denoting lack of theism.  Demanding that the burning questions of human existence be answered conclusively by the atheist before you will "take him seriously" just makes you look as if are clinging to your faith out of fear and inadequacy, out of an  inability to deal with the world as a grown-up. 
  3. Atheists do not "deny God" so they have a free pass to do whatever they want.  First of all, you are begging the question, because to deny God so I can get my free pass would require that I find the idea of God credible to begin with.  Secondly, you are insulting the person you are supposedly trying to "save" by calling them an amoral predator, and perhaps cowardly and dishonest to boot. Additionally, the vast majority of atheists you meet have a very strong sense of personal responsibility. They may not be able to JUSTIFY it on supernatural grounds like you do, but you should judge people (if you're into that) by what they DO, not what they can rationalize with recycled theology. 


[ Parent ]
rambling (5.00 / 1) (#900)
by adiffer on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 04:03:41 AM EST

You are rambling a bit.  It is rather hard to cover your variety of topics in a short span, though.  It looks a little like you wrote it in stream of thought mode.

I know a few athiests and quite a few agnostics (old definition) who have studied religions and faiths.  The subjects go quite deep and are worth the work no matter how you decide to live your life.  Try not to get too perturbed with those who don't, though.  It's not worth it.  Anyone trying to bash special relativity tends to make it very obvious very quickly whether or not they have studied the subject.  We physics types know the pain you might go through with religious debates.  It's best to ignore the idiots and not let your blood pressure go up.  8)

By the way, what is a rational world?  I'm not sure I follow.  'Cause and Effect' went down as a fundamental requirement for physics theories with Feynman's work.
--BE The Alien!
[ Parent ]

My own Experiences (4.00 / 3) (#104)
by mikromouse on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:33:57 PM EST

My own experiences growing up were based mainly on others. I went to church with my family (Methodist Christian) until I was 10. At 10, I told my mom that I didn't understand why we went to church, why I had to be there, and why we always wasted Sunday's.

My mom told me it was my choice whether or not I wanted to to Church, and I don't think I've been back since (except those unaviodable weddings, graduations, etc.).

Growing up in a rural, highly-isolated, upper/middle-class town opened my eyes to some things too. It didn't seem to matter what religion you associated with, as long as you had religion. When the kids up here figured out I didn't, geez...the repercussions. Let's just say I never met a person up here that wasn't assoicated with some religion that wanted me to join their religion.

I'm not trying to make a blanket statement, but for me that was really frustrating. My views are atheist, but leaning towards agnostic (gotta cover all my bases). I have a cursory interest in religion, but mainly because I'm curious about how people can believe in them, and how they got started.

Seems to me my religious experience started the same, but when I was given the choice I bailed pretty fast. Of course, I never heard God talking back to me, and maybe other's do.

I dunno...anyone know what I'm talkin about?

"Are you able to condense fact from the vapor of nuance?"
ummm... what? (none / 0) (#109)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:40:54 PM EST

Let's just say I never met a person up here that wasn't assoicated with some religion that wanted me to join their religion.

What does that mean? Do you mean "was" instead of "wasn't"? In that case, I'm betting you don't know many Jews. Or Hindus. Or Muslims. Evangelism is an important part of Christianity, but not really a big part of other faiths.


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
heh..yeah (none / 0) (#254)
by mikromouse on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:48:08 PM EST

Yeah...You're right. I did mean that. I gotta use that preiew button more often
"Are you able to condense fact from the vapor of nuance?"
[ Parent ]
Sick of being treated as inferior (none / 0) (#760)
by Dwonis on Sun Jun 22, 2003 at 11:56:21 AM EST

as long as you had religion.

I've seen this attitude a lot too, and I'm absolutely sick of it, especially when it comes from Christians who know far less about their own religion than I do. I'm tired of people expecting me to feel guilty for their religion's failure to be convincing.

And it's not like I don't try to `get it'. I used to have very engaging philosophical arguments with a friend of mine (it was over creation vs. evolution), but I was always a better debater than he was, so I tended to win purely on that basis (though I never actually convinced him).

One day my friend told me that someone from his local church was doing weekly seminars on that topic (that the world was really created 5000 years ago, etc), and was very good at presenting the arguments.

So, I started going to the seminars. At the seminars, we were encouraged (at least in theory) to ask questions. So I started to ask questions about the huge leaps of faith that were made in the so-called "logical" argument.

I stopped going about a month and a half later. I surrounded by a bunch of people who were bent on believing pretty much every logical fallacy in the book, and was accomplishing nothing.

It was a very enlightening experience, and vastly increased my distaste for faith. Although I can't be certain, I am seeing more and more evidence that faith is associated with inconsistent thinking.

I'm worried that faith may actually cause inconsistent thinking.

[ Parent ]

it's simple (1.40 / 20) (#106)
by circletimessquare on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:39:06 PM EST

if you believe in god

you are a quaint, provincial, moron

you're cute, but you can't be taken seriously


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

Like Heinlein's quote about mathematics... (5.00 / 1) (#113)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:45:31 PM EST

How did that go?

Anyone who cannot cope with mathematics is not fully human. At best he is a tolerable subhuman who has learned to wear shoes, bathe and not make messes in the house. - RAH


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
you want a quote? here's 3 from rah (5.00 / 1) (#129)
by circletimessquare on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:57:36 PM EST

uh that was abotu math, right? lol your point? doofus ;-P

you  want a quote? here's 3 quotes sweety ;-)

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox

"One man's religion is another man's belly laugh."

"The most ridiculous concept ever perpetrated by H. Sapiens is that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of the Universes, wants the sacharrine adoration of his creations, that he can be persuaded by their prayers, and becomes petulant if he does not recieve this flattery. Yet this ridiculous notion, without one real shred of evidence to bolster it, has gone on to found one of the oldest, largest and least productive industries in history."

"Sin lies only in hurting other people unnecessarily. All other "sins" are invented nonsense."

-- Robert A. Heinlein


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

LoL. Actually, I wasn't trying to dis you... (5.00 / 1) (#141)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:08:23 PM EST

You're comment reminded me of RAH, that's all.

I've got a book of these quotes at home someplace, they're great for sigs...


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
oh sorry (none / 0) (#163)
by circletimessquare on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:27:04 PM EST

i honestly thought you were dissing me by saying his quote about math could apply to god

doh ;-P

i'm too punch drunk from this site, sorry! ;-)


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

I'll dis the ignorant poltroon (5.00 / 2) (#169)
by fractal on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:32:59 PM EST

Believing in God is no worse than relying on quotes from a hackneyed science fiction author to support your prejudices. frctl

[ Parent ]
Hey! Hey! HEY!!!! (5.00 / 2) (#183)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:43:31 PM EST

You can mock my religion, but don't you go diss'ing RAH!


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
while a half-way decent notion.. (none / 0) (#435)
by infinitera on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 07:50:39 PM EST

That is impossible to implement as he was a sexist, fascist prick.

[ Parent ]
You're one of those people who can't tell (none / 0) (#466)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 08:40:30 PM EST

the difference between a fiction novel and what people really believe, aren't you?


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
as a matter of fact, i can (none / 0) (#475)
by infinitera on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 09:02:12 PM EST

Heinlein treated the women (which were selected to be as close to his nurse/secretary archetype as possible) in his life precisely the way his main characters did - as a different sort of child, a helpless, altogether irresponsible being. He likewise believed the very same things that came out of the mouths of his characters regarding the use of force/the moral justifications for using force (this is also seen alongside his sexism - he brushes off rape on many occasions as non-crime). But sure, I appreciate his works, and his sanctimonious pricks; I just know they're based on personal fact.

[ Parent ]
Ummm... (none / 0) (#493)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 10:25:16 PM EST

So, how do you explain the difference between "Starship Troopers" and "Stranger in a Strange Land" - hardly the same archetypes, and hardly the same moral justifications. I have trouble believing that the same person could simultaneously believe in the philosophies of Lazerous Long and Lt. Razca.


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
uh... (none / 0) (#247)
by circletimessquare on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:38:28 PM EST

i never read rah

i started something of his when i was 13... lathe of heaven? i dunno... i never finished it... it was boring ;-P

my beliefs don't need science fiction to support it... i was merely going with the flow, i didn't bring rah up


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Evolution and religion (5.00 / 5) (#108)
by IHCOYC on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:39:35 PM EST

I think you may oversimplify slightly the link between evolution and religion. What helped people survive during the millions of years we were all hunters and gatherers was group cohesion. Since we are semi-intelligent creatures who use symbols as tools, myths, rituals, and deities who smile on our group especially help build group cohesion, enforce the tribal folkways, and give you a feeling of belonging with your tribe. You can get rid of God, but you can't get rid of religion; Communism, despite its pretense of official atheism, developed an elaborate calendar of ritual festivities, iconography, and personality cults. This, I think, is the basis of evolved religious feelings.

Being aware of this, as a believer I tend to judge theologies and doctrines by the extent to which they are not predicted by this model. A religion that says to "love your enemies" is making a statement that seems to be contrary to the inherited purpose of religion, generally. Likewise, statements that say that "you can never make yourself good enough by obeying a code of rules" are subversive rather than supportive of the group-cohesion rationale of inherited religious feelings.

This is hardly proof of the truth of these teachings; if they could be proven, faith would be superfluous. On the other hand, though, the fact that the teachings of my religion subvert rather than sustain the evolutionary purpose of group cohesion does suggest that they may have another source, which could be Divine Revelation. This makes them more plausible than simply saying, "We are saved, and they are damned! God bless the Austro-Hungarian Empire!"
 --
Quod sequitur, sicut serica lucis albissima tingere rogant;
Quod sequitur, totum devorabit.

As an aside (none / 0) (#121)
by Happy Monkey on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:53:18 PM EST

This is hardly proof of the truth of these teachings; if they could be proven, faith would be superfluous.

This is something that has always bugged me. Why is faith looked upon as a good, in and of itself? Why should it not be superfluous? How would God be less powerful, or denigrated in any way, if there were proof? I see why faith is seen as important in its role at the only support for any particular religion, but wouldn't it be better if there were more support?
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[ Parent ]
Faith and knowledge (none / 0) (#144)
by gzt on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:10:32 PM EST

Faith and knowledge must be distinguished, but not separated.

[ Parent ]
Would you mind elaborating on that? [nt] (none / 0) (#155)
by Happy Monkey on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:17:59 PM EST


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[ Parent ]
Certainly. (none / 0) (#168)
by gzt on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:31:17 PM EST

Faith, or trust, is different from knowledge [as you well know] and therefore should be distinguished from it. But, it should not be separated from it, ie, to have faith one must have knowledge, and if one has knowledge, one should have faith in accordance with it.

Is that clear? It might be muddy because people say many funny things about "faith" where even they don't know what they mean, which confuses everybody else all the more.

[ Parent ]

Faith as trust (none / 0) (#180)
by Happy Monkey on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:42:51 PM EST

In that sense, considering faith to be trust, I agree. But, as you touch on in the end of your post, that is not the meaning of faith I was asking about. I guess I was asking about "blind faith", or faith whose quality would be diluted by proof.
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[ Parent ]
Those people are fools. (none / 0) (#187)
by gzt on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:47:31 PM EST

Pure and simple, and not the good sort of fools. Their foolishness is destructive. For example, no orthodox Christianity has ever endorsed such an idea, and I would suspect any religion [or person] which did.

[ Parent ]
Faith (none / 0) (#397)
by IHCOYC on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 06:04:39 PM EST

How would God be less powerful, or denigrated in any way, if there were proof? I see why faith is seen as important in its role at the only support for any particular religion, but wouldn't it be better if there were more support?
What kind of proof do you want?

Maybe you want God to come down and be born as a human being, walk among ordinary people, and talk to them? Some would say, "he's been there, done that, got the T-shirt." If that wasn't proof enough, a repeat performance isn't going to satisfy you now, is it? Faith would still be necessary.

Maybe you want more miracles? Now, suppose things we now might consider miracles become routine. Being routine, we could investigate them at least a little, and find out something about how and why they happen. Since human knowledge is finite, it's always a possibility that things we already take for granted are themselves miracles. Faith is still going to be necessary.

I'm afraid that faith is still going to be necessary no matter what God does. When the clouds roll back and the trumpet calls and four guys on horseback come charging down from the heavens, some people will still say, "Great promotion! Is there a new Western coming out or something?"
 --
Quod sequitur, sicut serica lucis albissima tingere rogant;
Quod sequitur, totum devorabit.

[ Parent ]

That's silly. (none / 0) (#402)
by Happy Monkey on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 06:18:08 PM EST

and irrelevant to my question. My question isn't "why is faith necessary for belief in God". I was asking about the belief that some have that any proof would make faith less necessary, and that that would be a bad thing. WHY is that a bad thing? If God exists, isn't it more important THAT people believe in Him, rather than WHY they do?

As an aside, I don't buy your premise. An omnipotent being has the ability to prove its existence - by definition. If it doesn't do it, that is a choice on its part.
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[ Parent ]
Yes, actually, that would be a bad thing (none / 0) (#663)
by IHCOYC on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 02:37:50 PM EST

My understanding is that, at least in the theological sense, faith is more than agreeing with the statement that there is a God. Faith involves trusting God to save your soul and being granted the grace to follow Him. So yes, the reason why people believe in God is more important than simply getting them to agree with the proposition. "Proof," in your sense, could only convince people of the existence of God, and faith, in the theological sense, is something over and above that. (And this is why theological faith is in fact consistent with doubt.)
 --
Quod sequitur, sicut serica lucis albissima tingere rogant;
Quod sequitur, totum devorabit.

[ Parent ]
Why bad? (none / 0) (#675)
by Happy Monkey on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 03:06:31 PM EST

Isn't it easier to have faith in God's good intentions once you believe that He exists? Why would proof of His existence be bad? If He actually showed up, would his followers lose faith? If so, what does that say about Him?

As I've already said, proof of existence doesn't provide proof of intentions, but it certainly doesn't hurt. Also, it would theoretically be possible for God to prove His intentions as well, removing the need for faith. Why would that be bad? My question, again, is not why we need faith, but why proof would be bad.
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[ Parent ]
There's a pretty big gap... (none / 0) (#1037)
by Merc on Fri Jul 18, 2003 at 12:30:37 PM EST

Between "This dusty old book claims that one time, 2000 years ago, a guy who was the son of god walked around" and the clouds rolling back and four guys on horseback charging down from the heavens.

Unless you take on faith that the dusty old tome is truthful, there's absolutely zero evidence that there's any truth at all to the beliefs Christians hold dear.

Would a miracle every 15 years be asking so much? Or one per lifetime per person? I'm not asking for much, just something that violates entropy in an obvious way and is obviously directed by something with intelligence.

Faith may be necessary no matter what, but until I get me a miracle, I'm not going to believe that dusty old book. I learned long ago that just because a book is old doesn't make it true.



[ Parent ]
extremist agnosticism (3.50 / 2) (#111)
by The Shrubber on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:42:59 PM EST

I personally am an extremist agnostic.  Not only do i not know what's going on around us, I declare that I shall never know, but that shouldn't stop me from seeking anyway.

You're only an extremist if you start (5.00 / 5) (#118)
by porkchop_d_clown on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:52:12 PM EST

blowing up people who aren't confused the same way you are...


--
His men will follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiousity.


[ Parent ]
dang... (5.00 / 2) (#127)
by The Shrubber on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:56:13 PM EST

dang... so what should i call myself then?

"fundamentalist" doesn't really capture it either does it?

"commited agnostic" isn't as fun to say, nor "firm agnostic"

Does anybody know the right word commonly associated with religious extremists, but which can be applied to my agnostic views without me needing to blow people up for lack of confusion?

[ Parent ]

How about... (none / 0) (#250)
by Nugget on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:45:15 PM EST

"charismatic agnostic?"

[ Parent ]
"Strong agnostic"? (n/t) (none / 0) (#414)
by Three Pi Mesons on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 07:13:53 PM EST

n/t

:: "Every problem in the world can be fixed with either flowers, or duct tape, or both." - illuzion
[ Parent ]
sweet! i get to use fundamentalist! (none / 0) (#615)
by The Shrubber on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 09:10:35 AM EST

Thanks for the replys, but somebody here made the point that agnosticism originally meant that you thought the existence of god(s) was unknowable, although it has come to sort of mean waffling.  So does this make me a fundamentalist or does this make me a fundamentalist?

Start calling me ayatollah


[ Parent ]

a good book to read on this subject (4.50 / 2) (#126)
by asad on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 12:55:47 PM EST

is Knowledge of Angels.
Here's a review:
From Publishers Weekly
Set on a fictive Mediterranean island in medieval Europe, Walsh's dark philosophical religious fable moves through two intersecting subplots. Amara, who was abandoned as an infant and raised by wolves, is captured by shepherds. Unable to speak or walk upright, she is sent to a convent where she becomes the object of an experiment to determine whether knowledge of God is innate. The other plot strand involves Palinor, an atheistic humanist prince and castaway who seeks refuge on the island but is persecuted by the Catholic Church. Beneditx, a pious scholar, attempts to persuade the unyielding Palinor that God exists. With the arrival of a special inquisitor from Rome, the clash between secular and conservative ecclesiastical values moves inexorably toward a gruesome climax. Walsh, a prolific author of young-adult books, tackles large questions in her first serious religious parable for adults: How can one reconcile the existence of evil with faith in a beneficent God? Why does religion spawn intolerance and violence? Sonorous prose, a polyphonic interweaving of themes and a diverse cast of characters from all rungs of society leaven an often didactic tale which addresses timeless issues.

I am not a christian so some of the arguments went over my head but if you are interested in a debate about God this is definitly something you should read.

Why I'm an agnostic. (3.33 / 3) (#137)
by Torka on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:06:23 PM EST

Indecision is the most appropriate response to a lack of evidence of God(s), not atheism.

Asserting that absence of proof is proof of absence when it comes to the question of a supreme being has always seemed to me to be no less presumptuous and unreasoning than blind belief in religion.

Why I'm an atheist. (2.00 / 5) (#195)
by gooberguy on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:51:21 PM EST

Indecision is the most appropriate response to a lack of evidence of unicorns, not disbelief of the existence of unicorns.

Oh, wait, that doesn't sound right. Absence of proof is proof of absence to most. Otherwise we would ponder whether or not pink furry bunnies exist on mars. If there is no evidence that something exists, you should assume that it doesn't exist. You're usually right if you do that. You can never prove that there are no pink furry bunnies on mars, but that doesn't stop most people from believing that there are no pink furry bunnies on mars.

[ Parent ]
You misunderstand. (none / 0) (#200)
by Torka on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:56:13 PM EST

I'm *not* pushing that view as a general principle applicable also to unicorns and pink furry bunnies of Mars, which is why I was careful to add "when it comes to the question of a supreme being".

I want to make it clear I believe that the question of the existence of a creating intelligence is a special case (in which proof of absence is not sufficient).

[ Parent ]

Absence of proof, rather *bangs head on desk* (none / 0) (#204)
by Torka on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:59:07 PM EST

nt

[ Parent ]
Why? (none / 0) (#225)
by handslikesnakes on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:17:01 PM EST

Why is a supreme being a special case?

[ Parent ]
by the way... (5.00 / 1) (#214)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:07:08 PM EST

I'm glad you're mature enough to feel the need to mod all my comments that you could find in this article a 1.

I appriciate it, really I do.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

I have no evidence that Australia exists (none / 0) (#332)
by damiam on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:44:32 PM EST

Should I assume it doesn't?

[ Parent ]
What do you mean, no evidence? (none / 1) (#439)
by fishpi on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 07:55:32 PM EST

Are you saying that you've never looked at a satelite photograph of the earth? Never seen a map? Never spoken to anyone who's been to Australia? Never spoken to anyone who's looked at a satelite photograph?

Evidence for the existence of Australia is sufficiently abundant that the only rational conclusion is that it exists. The same cannot be said about unicorns or God.

[ Parent ]

I have seen such photos (none / 0) (#489)
by damiam on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 10:10:14 PM EST

But they could all be faked, the result of a worldwide conspiracy bent on ... something. Admittedly, it was a bad example.

One could say that the evidence of God's existance is that the more we learn about the world, the more we see things that almost have to be the product of an intelligent designer (one example: the golden ratio and the Fibonacci sequence, which pop up in the strangest places). Now, as an agnostic, I don't really accept that argument, and I also don't accept the argument that "I can't see it, thereofre it's not there". If you want to convince yourself that there's a God, it's fairly easy to do so. If you want to convince yourself that there's no God, it's fairly easy to do that.

[ Parent ]

They could be faked, but are still evidence (none / 1) (#501)
by fishpi on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 10:54:03 PM EST

Evidence is just something that supports a conclusion. Admittedly it's possible that all the photos etc. are faked, but that isn't a rational conclusion under the circumstances. Even if the evidence were weak, which it isn't, it would still be evidence.

It's possible that the argument from design does provide evidence for the existence of God, and I certainly don't think it's trivial to disprove. Personally, I think all the arguments can be refuted, but it's very easy to get bogged down in details and get nowhere with it.

I don't think anyone ever says "I can't see it, therefore it's not there". I base my opinion that there is no evidence for the existence of god on the fact that every time I challenge a theist to produce any the result is at best specious and at worst nonsensical. This repeated failure to be exhibited despite deliberate attempts is a stronger criterion than my not being able to see it.

You're probably right that it's easy to convince yourself either way on the matter, but that just shows that human beings are gullible. Picking an outcome and then finding evidence to support it is just sloppy thinking; the rational approach is to consider the evidence objectively and consider which conclusion is best supported.

[ Parent ]

I have fake photos of God, ergo He exists. ;) [nt] (5.00 / 1) (#572)
by codepoet on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 03:32:06 AM EST



-- The cynical can often see the sinister aspect of a cup of coffee if given enough time.
[ Parent ]
you're cheating (none / 0) (#570)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 03:20:10 AM EST

Are you saying that you've never looked at a satelite photograph of the earth? Never seen a map? Never spoken to anyone who's been to Australia? Never spoken to anyone who's looked at a satelite photograph?

Have you ever executed the experiments yourself to make sure whether the scientific apparatus that lies behind claims that we have put "satellites" in "orbit" indeed works? Or are you, terror of terrors, taking science on faith?

--em
[ Parent ]

What do you want me to test? (none / 1) (#587)
by fishpi on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 06:17:59 AM EST

There has to be a certain level of pragmatism here. I'm aware that satellites could all be part of a big conspiracy, but that isn't a rational conclusion to draw. Such a huge and complicated conspiracy would be very unlikely to be created (particularly as there is no pupose in doing so) and and could very easily be exposed.

I don't take science purely "on faith", I base my acceptance of it on the fact that scientists have no motivation to participate in a conspiracy, and to the extent that I have been able to check things it has proved to be correct.

The difference between the assumptions made by a scientist and those made by a theist is that scientists make the smallest and most reasonable (although potentially still fallible) assumptions and then work up from there, checking at every step that the system remains consistent. While this isn't perfect, it seems to be the best we can do. Theists, on the other hand, have already decided which conclusion they want to support, and then spend time fitting evidence to that conclusion. The a priori assumption that god exists (which is effectively what theists do, even if they don't want to admit it) does not make sense rationally; there is no reasonable evidence to support this.

[ Parent ]

Hey, over here (none / 0) (#798)
by seeS on Sun Jun 22, 2003 at 11:32:15 PM EST

How else can you explain Fosters? OK, camels drinking too much water would explain Fosters beer/
--
Where's a policeman when you need one to blame the World Wide Web?
[ Parent ]
Hi (4.25 / 4) (#138)
by bayou on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:06:34 PM EST

I am not a religious person; you would probably characterize me as an "atheist". I have lived through many of your so-called "religious experiences" but have not attributed them to some Godly force. Sometimes I feel as though I am on a path, and someone or something is pushing me along and I can't help but march forward. I guess they call it "destiny".

Here is a recent anecdote that fits into this picture:

A few weeks ago, I got up early to go some place. I got on the bus and immediately found a seat. A few stops later some old woman came on and was left standing as no one would get up and give her a seat. That would be the proper thing to do, as she looked old and frail. I do not usually get up and give my seat away to such people, though I know it is a nice thing to do. I am not a nice person. For some unexplainable reason, I got up that day and gave her my seat. As if by clockwork as I moved toward the end of the bus some person who sat in my favorite "section" got up and got off the bus. The seat was mine as no one else was near it. I sat down and gazed forward only to spot a little booklet firmly (and seemingly deliberately) wedged between the adjacent seat and the bus wall. It was a miniature version of the New Testament. How strange, thought I. I kept it and it remains in my bag to this day.

I probably should read it one day.

Re: Hi (none / 0) (#575)
by Lavahead on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 04:01:34 AM EST

Thanks for the post, bayou!  I enjoyed reading most of it but some parts confused me.
  When you say you're not a nice person you must mean that you're not *usually* a nice person, for you do something nice right as you're telling us you're not nice!  It's not 'nice' to contradict yourself like this, ha ha!
  I like how you found the New Testament!  You'll probably enjoy it since it has lots of stories of people thinking they've found their destiny, much like you have here!  I have one question about your 'destiny': why do you find the New Testament so important to write a whole post about if you haven't read it yet?  If it's sitting in your bag without use, you must not want to read it.  You should read it, bayou!  It might even be your destiny to read it!  Ha ha!
  Love,
  Lavahead


[ Parent ]
Question (none / 0) (#620)
by Jim Dabell on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 09:37:26 AM EST

If it was a Stephen King novel you found instead, would you believe the story inside that?



[ Parent ]
Something to think about... (4.00 / 2) (#140)
by mberteig on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:07:51 PM EST

O Son Of Spirit!

I created thee rich, why dost thou bring thyself down to poverty? Noble I made thee, wherewith dost thou abase thyself? Out of the essence of knowledge I gave thee being, why seekest thou enlightenment from anyone beside Me? Out of the clay of love I molded thee, how dost thou busy thyself with another? Turn thy sight unto thyself, that thou mayest find Me standing within thee, mighty, powerful and self-subsisting.




Agile Advice - How and Why to Work Agile
From the Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah (n/t) (none / 0) (#142)
by mberteig on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:08:33 PM EST




Agile Advice - How and Why to Work Agile
[ Parent ]
I guess (5.00 / 1) (#819)
by Viliam Bur on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 08:12:13 AM EST

they are no longer Hidden now...

[ Parent ]
Indeed... (none / 0) (#834)
by mberteig on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 10:49:12 AM EST

FWIW, there is tradition in Islam that the word "Hidden" refers to. I am not totally up on the history, but I believe it has something to do with a supposed revelation to Fatimah that was lost, or hidden.




Agile Advice - How and Why to Work Agile
[ Parent ]
Interesting... (none / 0) (#184)
by forau on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:44:05 PM EST

As a recently declared Baha'i, it is interesting how often the religion has randomly popped up since I declared. The even more amazing thing is that I hadn't even heard of the faith until about a year ago. Just odd...

[ Parent ]
Cool... (none / 0) (#213)
by mberteig on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:06:21 PM EST

It does seem to go like that, as lots of my friends who have declared have described. I'm sure that lots of those on this site would just ascribe that to your regular random exposure coupled with your new awareness :-)

Oh, and congratulations! :-)




Agile Advice - How and Why to Work Agile
[ Parent ]
Atheism is reactionary (4.12 / 8) (#148)
by fantods on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:12:32 PM EST

The self-proclaimed Atheists (with a capital "A") that I've met in person seemed to be reacting to a religion that they were in recovery from. It's not so much that they 'didn't believe in God' as they were trying to disentangle themselves from a previous believe system that still had its hooks in their psyches.

That takes awhile, but it can be done. However, people who have done it don't usually walk around calling themselves "Atheists" because by that time they've let go and moved on to something besides religion.

Ex-Catholic self-proclaimed Atheists are real solid nutcases - they've got *so* much to recover from! Poor babies...I wish them well...

Recovery from Atheism (none / 0) (#424)
by Roman on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 07:37:09 PM EST

I was born in the USSR (never had any talk about any religion at all with my parents for example.) I read the Bible, Koran and Torah, a few times (the versions I could get my hands onto anyway,) I also studied, and I read a lot by myself (subscribed to many different libraries in many different countries and cities.) I am a convinced atheist, the kind that thought his way through, but not the flaming kind ;) I respect religions and I will not try and convince you one way or the other. If you ask me for my own reasons I will answer. (I left a little write up on top of this thread already.) Cheers.

[ Parent ]
Drugs and burden of proof (4.83 / 6) (#150)
by Iscariot on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:15:50 PM EST

From all the stories I've heard from believers, miracles are always subtile. I've never heard a Christian tell me that "a being of light came to them in the night and woke them." It's usually stuff like "the phone rang and woke me up just in time stop my kid from falling down the stairs." If one cannot see that as a possible conicidence, then one is truely self deceptive... and close minded.

Anyway... I think one way to understand so called miracles is by way of drugs.

Now, I hate to admit it, but I've taken some serious drugs in the past. Peyote for example. And I remember sitting on the couch, with my eyes open, and yet I could see NOTHING that was going on in the room. I was someplace else. The information path from my eyes to my brain was completely rewired for a few hours.

The point is, the brain is amazing at deception. Example here. So just because you "feel" the presense of God, is in no way proof that he is there. I saw a pink elephant with a top hat whilst on peyote. But when all was said and done, did I really honestly think that I had seen one earlier that day? No.

Another thing to keep in mind is that proof requires repetition. If you cannot repeat and expirement on something more than once, then you can't exactly prove it. So there is no sense in talking about it.

Lastly, it is not the burden of atheists or agnostics to prove that there is no God. It is the burden of those that do believe. For example. I cannot prove that there aren't millions of monsters living at the center of the earth waiting until the year 2020 to come to the surface and kill us all. I cannot prove that there is not a giant pink teddy bear (the size of our galaxy) 10 billion light years "up" from where I am sitting.

Notice how you go to school and learn things that are, things that have been proven by repetition, not things that aren't. I never once heard a teacher say "okay class, remember to study for your test on friday about how there are no monsters at the center of the earth, and how there isn't a giant pink teddy bear 10 billion light years away."

The end.

Well Said! (nt) (5.00 / 1) (#176)
by OneEyedApe on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:40:25 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Something less subtle (4.00 / 1) (#198)
by bolthole on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:53:57 PM EST

From all the stories I've heard from believers, miracles are always subtile. I've never heard a Christian tell me that "a being of light came to them in the night and woke them." It's usually stuff like "the phone rang and woke me up just in time stop my kid from falling down the stairs."

OKay, here's something a little less subtle.

I was on a long plane flight, from florida to california. We were flying through an area with a hurricane. It was very very turbulent. when it wasnt majorly shaking, it was minorly shaking.

I prayed for the turbulence to stop. I prayed for a certain amount of time. I knew when I was going to finish praying. Somewhere in the back of my head was the thought, "I wonder if God is listening to me, and will answer my prayer? If so, I wonder how long it will take?" So I was already thinking along the lines of timing, etc., and thus was very aware of when I planned to bring my prayer to an end.

So as I was mentally wrapping up, I was also thinking, "okay, lets see how long it takes, here we go...  [stop]"

The turbulence stopped. Within ONE SECOND of my prayer being finished. An immediate shift from violently shaking the plane, to the plane not being shaken at all beyond normal flight stuff, all the way to california.

As I've mentioned, it was not a matter of me praying until things got quiet, so there was no reverse cause-and-effect there. Obviously, I cant prove the straightforward cause and effect from prayer. But that's one heck of a "coincidence".

[Incidentally, I was praying for the benefit of my wife, who gets disturbed by plane flights. That is why I think my prayer was answered. Generally speaking, it seems God likes us to pray for others rather than ourselves]


[ Parent ]

On coincidences... (5.00 / 2) (#312)
by twall on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:19:33 PM EST

Let's say that a really *rare* coincidence has a one in one billion chance of happening to someone.

That thing will happen five times today.

And the person it happens to will have a hard time believing that it's a coincidence. And oddly enough, should they find out it happened to four other people that same day, it makes them even more sure it wasn't a coincidence.

[ Parent ]

however... (none / 0) (#566)
by bolthole on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 03:10:22 AM EST

the chances of the first person, running into, or even hearing about, the other four people, would in itself be even smaller than the original "one in one billion chance", probably.

But the bottom line is, if you're a hard line atheist, then you believe that there is no God, as hard or harder than any saint believes in the almighty. So you will ascribe ANY happenstance to "science", no matter how absurd that would be.

 If the universe around you turned blue, little pink bunnies appeared, and started talking, saying "you are the most lucky creature in the world! The Creator is coming to talk to YOU!" the confirmed atheist would then close his eyes tightly, and mutter to himself "I'm having a hallucinogenic episode: either the government is using their mind control rays, or aliens are finally coming down to take over the planet". Because either of these two would be preferable to him than actually having to face a Creator that he has pre-determined does not exist.

Similarly, if a "holy man" walked up to a determined, but crippled for life atheist, and told him "by the power of God, be healed", and the man could then walk... there are a number of people who would rather believe that they had "coincidently" underwent spontaneous muscular regeneration at that moment, than confront the issue that God has actually reached out through someone and touched them.
This is a truely sad thing.


[ Parent ]

read my post (5.00 / 1) (#429)
by Roman on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 07:40:22 PM EST

that I left on top of this thread. We have survived on this planet due to the way we construct connections between unrelated actions. Cheers.

[ Parent ]
hahahaha (none / 0) (#453)
by Sacrifice on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 08:23:58 PM EST

You thought, "now!" and a second later the turbulence stopped!

There must be a god!

I'm giddy with excitement!

[ Parent ]

One second (none / 0) (#830)
by Bill Godfrey on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 10:12:48 AM EST

And if the turbulence stopped after two seconds, is your claim less valid?

If not two seconds, but two hours or two years.

[ Parent ]

Pinky (none / 0) (#492)
by gdanjo on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 10:22:35 PM EST

The point is, the brain is amazing at deception. Example here. So just because you "feel" the presense of God, is in no way proof that he is there. I saw a pink elephant with a top hat whilst on peyote. But when all was said and done, did I really honestly think that I had seen one earlier that day? No.
If the brain is amazing at deception, how do you know that your current reality is real while the pink elephants are not?

Another thing to keep in mind is that proof requires repetition. If you cannot repeat and expirement on something more than once, then you can't exactly prove it. So there is no sense in talking about it.
If you take those druge again, Pinky may return. But we will never know.

Lastly, it is not the burden of atheists or agnostics to prove that there is no God. It is the burden of those that do believe.
Wrong. It is the burden of atheists to prove that there is no God, simply because they declare that God does NOT exist, even in the face of evidence that is best explained by the existence of God. Agnostics, on the other hand, make no such claim, so they get a pass.

Notice how you go to school and learn things that are, things that have been proven by repetition, not things that aren't.
One divided by zero isn't. Yet we learn about it. That's Pinky in all but name.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

Are you assuming the consequent? (none / 0) (#847)
by synaesthesia on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 01:48:21 PM EST

Wrong. It is the burden of atheists to prove that there is no God, simply because they declare that God does NOT exist, even in the face of evidence that is best explained by the existence of God.

Are you assuming that all atheists are 'hard' atheists? Or are you saying that your concept of God is so far advanced that it explains everything in the universe better than anyone else's concept can?


Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]

God is a random number generator. (3.28 / 7) (#153)
by Fen on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:16:52 PM EST

Think about it.
--Self.
Let's kill everyone else! (2.42 / 7) (#161)
by Fen on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:23:16 PM EST

Just as I thought, majority atheist/agnostic.  We who worship math and science are the only ones who deserve to live.  Technology is might, and might makes right!
--Self.
Oh, gwan wit choo! (1.00 / 1) (#232)
by fantods on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:22:33 PM EST

Gee...thanks for *misinterpreting everything* and *flying off the handle*! (Makes "big-duh" Valley Girl eye-rolling face with mouth hanging open...)

[ Parent ]
Quick epistemological question: (4.00 / 2) (#162)
by gzt on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:26:07 PM EST

Before one starts ranting about why one doesn't accept "religion" or does accept "religion", one must ask, "What criteria do I use to evaluate the truth of these claims?"  And also, perhaps, "What criteria should one use to evaluate the truth of religious claims?"

Or, to put it another way, "What would it take to convince you there is a God who loves you?" or "What would it take to convince you there is no God?" Where 'God' is defined in whichever religious sense you are considering at the moment, ie, the Judaic God, the Trinitarian God of orthodox Christianity, the Muslim God... Feel free to continue until you hit Kali or Helixpixelopterix.

actually (3.00 / 1) (#182)
by TRASG0 on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:43:14 PM EST

the theists have the tech, the money, and the might. ie, gwb and ashcroft. so be quiet before you get us all nuked.
sorry no sig now
[ Parent ]
"Us"? (3.00 / 1) (#201)
by gzt on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:56:42 PM EST

What conspiracy are you trying to get me into here?

[ Parent ]
"Us" as in (none / 0) (#333)
by TRASG0 on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:45:23 PM EST

earthlings.  if you want to try to exclude yourself from that group, be my guest.
sorry no sig now
[ Parent ]
Will do. (none / 0) (#423)
by gzt on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 07:35:52 PM EST

You know what they say about "in this world, but not of this world..." But I'm afraid you're still a step ahead of me. What does your first comment have to do with mine?

[ Parent ]
dont remember (5.00 / 1) (#633)
by TRASG0 on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 11:21:21 AM EST

too drunk
sorry no sig now
[ Parent ]
To convince an atheist (5.00 / 1) (#205)
by Cro Magnon on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:59:16 PM EST

I think it would take Divine Intervention!
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
I'm agnostic... (4.75 / 8) (#179)
by composer777 on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:42:40 PM EST

I'm going to talk about the religion that I know best, and that is Christianity. I went to 12 years of Catholic schooling, which means that I'm Agnostic.

I don't think there is solid evidence to either prove or disprove the existence of god. My feeling on religion is that belief in religion is proportional to how powerless and oppressed people are. People that feel they have little control over their lives tend to be more devout than those who feel they are empowered to do things themselves. For example the US is one of the most religious countries in the world besides 3rd world countries, and I think this has to do with the fact that America has the cheapest labor of any industrialized country. People are treated like they are commodities and have longer work weeks any other 1st world country. The news is reported in a way to make you feel powerless, with events always described in a 3rd person manner, and passive tense used when we have done something wrong, i.e. "Protesters shot in Falluja". Who shot the protestors? Why were they shot? Overall, the goal of news is to make people feel powerless to change the actions of the powerful, and to direct their rage at fictitious enemies at home or abroad. In other words, the only kind of power people are given is to do what the government wants. The goal is to turn people into spectators, so that they are able to affirm the decisions of their "betters". In the US, your issues don't matter, only the issues that the politicians present are acceptable, and usually only one choice is allowed. The idea is to make up ficticious enemies such as crime (we have more people locked up than anywhere in the world), war with powerless enemies, and the poor(anyone remember "welfare moms"?). What they really mean, is "black" mothers. That's the idea, is to keep you distracted so that you cheer when they gut your social programs, are ecstatic when they throw more of you in jail, and are proud when your friends go off to war and die. The end result of all this crap is that people will tend to want a higher power to bring justice to this world and to give them power over their lives through prayer. They are afraid so they need a god (and a powerful leader) to huddle under.

On the other side, hierarchical religions are often used by those in power to justify their power. The template of power reigned on high is pressed into peoples brains very early by observing the Christian (especially Catholic) Church. Eventually, this can be used to justify power by presenting the leader as a holy man, a man of God. This has been used to make dubya look good. link

I had to go to google's cache to get this, the picture was with Bush praying with his head down, such a nice man. The same type of propaganda was used for Hitler too. Hitler was a man of god too, a Christian. The more egalitarian a society is, the less people will turn to religion as an excuse or an excape.

I need to clarify (5.00 / 2) (#199)
by composer777 on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:54:06 PM EST

When I made this statement...

That's the idea, is to keep you distracted so that you cheer when they gut your social programs, are ecstatic when they throw more of you in jail, and are proud when your friends go off to war and die.

The YOU that I am referring to is middle and lower classes not just those who are black, since poor whites often turn to drugs to escape their problems and end up locked up. However, it is important to understand the racist implications of our political doctrine. When Republicans, such as Trent Lott, talk about drugs and crime, it is implied that they are talking about someone else. No one would want to lock up their best friend. This implication is understood among middle class voters who are swayed by this, most often white. Most people of color understand that these laws are simply a way of enforcing prejudice and attacking ficticious enemies, as blacks make up nearly half of our jail population. The goal of drug laws it to primarly attack blacks, which is why crack has much harsher penalties than cocaine. That's one goal of jail in our society, is to get rid of the "surplus" population, in other words, those who are unable to get a job in our "efficient" economy. Knowing that our government does this is a big part of getting them to stop.

[ Parent ]
Hmm (none / 0) (#520)
by ShooterNeo on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 11:47:26 PM EST

You're probably right.  The counter argument you usually see to your assertion ('USA sucks and this is why') is just that it's better than most other places.  And it is...but that doesn't help you in the slightest if, say, you're black and borrowing a friend's car with drugs in the trunk.  

The other counter argument is that "USA is so much better than other places, changing anything might make it worse".  This might also be true : there have been many types of reforms that have failed, such as drug rehab clinics (for the most part rehab simply doesn't work).  Those that propose alternative means of dealing with deviants have to deal with fear.  If you advocate some system that involves letting some of these prisoners out, you'll have opponents saying they don't want to become victims of these 'criminals'.  And sometimes they might even be right.

And finally, there's the kicker of an argument "change will take a long time.  If you want to succeed in your life, you need to play the game the way the rules are now".  And that one's true : it may be decades before anything can be done about the countless people locked up for drug offenses, but you can take steps to minmize the risk of you and those you care about joining them.  You can't ever make the probability zero, but that's just another facet of the game.    

[ Parent ]

Watch out (3.50 / 2) (#186)
by ethereal on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:47:26 PM EST

I can't believe that that guy who flames on about memes and religion hasn't lambasted you yet. Give him time, though :)

--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State

why do you carry grudges so long? (none / 0) (#276)
by Battle Troll on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:26:46 PM EST

I'd say that neither of you covered yourself in glory in that thread.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
S/He appears quite often (3.50 / 2) (#191)
by silicondecay on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 01:50:08 PM EST

As evidenced by this and many other stories.

Seriously though, why should God bother to show himself to people who refuse to believe? That is what faith is for. You have faith that God exists. I think most religous people can prove to themselves that God exists, but it is not something they can put into words.

If I told you God exists, because I can feel his presence, or feel something deep inside me, it is really easy for you to debunk it. Just a shift in brain chemicals you might say. Maybe social conditioning, or just an absolute need to believe in something, anything. I know he exists, and thats all that matters to me.

If I can help some people come to find God, Awesome! All the much better for them. To waste time trying to convice people who are so caught up in worldy persuits, or just plain refuse to be open to something radical, well that is ridiculous.


"You can't make a crabby patty until you understand P.O.O.P" SpongeBob SquarePants


Why... (none / 0) (#215)
by the on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:08:12 PM EST

...should there be any connection between who God shows himself to and who believes in him?

--
The Definite Article
[ Parent ]
Sorry. (none / 0) (#236)
by handslikesnakes on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:24:48 PM EST

I fail to see how a chemical blotch is proof of the existence of God.

[ Parent ]
I don't believe it either. (none / 0) (#606)
by silicondecay on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 08:16:33 AM EST

Thats grabbing at straws if you think a chemical stain is a miracle of God.

"You can't make a crabby patty until you understand P.O.O.P" SpongeBob SquarePants


[ Parent ]
Some people think they see a man in the moon. [nt] (none / 0) (#313)
by Kuli on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:20:12 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Haha (none / 0) (#792)
by Dyolf Knip on Sun Jun 22, 2003 at 08:32:22 PM EST

How truly convenient. He only shows himself to the people who are already utterly convinced he exists. That's like saying that I'm invisible except for when someone looks at me or a camera is pointed at me.

Why is it so many otherwise intelligent people are totally incapable of seeing through the scam that is religion?

---
If you can't learn to do something well, learn to enjoy doing it poorly.

Dyolf Knip
[ Parent ]

Atheism as a religion (4.66 / 3) (#207)
by Ian Lance Taylor on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:00:55 PM EST

I'm an atheist, and I wrote an essay about my beliefs. In short, just as I think some people have an experience which confirms their belief in god, I encountered an argument which converted me from agnosticism and confirmed my belief in atheism.

Committed atheism may not be very different from faith in god. Agnostiscism, of the form of ``I won't believe in god until he/she is proven to exist'' is different, but for many people may not be an emotionally satisfying position to hold.



xclnt! more atheists should understand this [nt] (5.00 / 1) (#252)
by zzzeek on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:47:03 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Why I "dis" believe. (4.50 / 2) (#208)
by alexboko on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:02:35 PM EST

Good point about science... that is exactly what I mean in the rare cases when I explicitly bother to say "I don't believe in god." I really mean that "I assign a low probability to the existance of a god as described by most religions that I know of, at this point in time, in our local region of space" As I've come to know more about the implications of AI and nanotech, I've come to believe that beings with most of the powers ascribed to god can be brought into existance by continued technological progress. However, I don't yet have a catchy, pithy way of encapsulating this belief for the modern short attention span. So I say something vague about either being an agnostic or believing that science and religion will someday find a common ground. Depending on how open-minded the person I'm speaking to appears to be.


Godwin's Law of video games: if a company is out of ideas for a long enough period, they will eventually publish another World War II shooter.
How about this? (none / 0) (#597)
by dzimmerm on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 07:13:45 AM EST

Invent a time machine that can travel to the past and back to the future.

Develop treatments and processes for physical immortality.

Perfect cloning technology.

Once you have those three things you go back in time and save every frigging human that ever lived and make them immortal.

At the time of the to be saved human's death you substitute a dead/never been alive clone body identicle to the body you are about to revive.

It would be good to have space travel so you could put hitlers and jack the rippers in worlds they can destroy without involving others who do not want to be involved.

You have just removed the need for a god or God and you have given everyone their own version of heaven.

The clincher for this is that unless we all work together and develop the technologies we will not have physical immortality.

Religion seems to keep folks from working together in a global sense.

dzimmmerm


[ Parent ]

It´s not a question of evidences (4.60 / 5) (#209)
by Niha on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:02:56 PM EST

 No one I know being religious believes because of "evidences" you are talking about. I think it´s not what you experience, but what you think about what you experience...

One sentence (5.00 / 1) (#364)
by Hector Plasmic on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 05:15:25 PM EST

And you've added more real content than the entire article!  Congratulations.

[ Parent ]
Most people cannot accept the death of their ego (5.00 / 4) (#211)
by revscat on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:03:55 PM EST

Most people find it impossible to accept the fact that one day their self, that ego that has been so carefully nurtured and cultivated over the years, will one day simply cease to exist. The thought of this arises terror, rejection, and anger and a host of other emotions. This knowledge, though, is never fully suppressed and is, I believe, the fundamental driving force of human behavior, including religion, and specifically the evangelical drive that is so common across all reigions (including atheism).

The idea of God would be unnecessary were it not for a belief in the afterlife. Although there are a few religions that do not proscribe some sort of afterlife, they are few and far between. The vast majority of religions teach that individuals will continue living after they die. The ego will continue to exist, desires can be fulfilled, and various rewards (or punishments) will be given.

Taken in the context of denying death, arguments about proof are almost secondary. The underlying issue is whether the individual is willing to consider their own destruction; not just the destruction of their body, but the actual destruction of their Self. People believe in God because they believe in themselves. God is secondary. Take away death and you take away God. But since death cannot be taken away God will remain.

This also explains the "peaceful" feeling discussed by the article's author. What could possibly be more peaceful than knowing you are safe from any harm, for all eternity?

Karl Marx famously said that religion is the opiate of the masses. This is because religion subdues the desire in people to agitate for social change. Why bother, when this life is just a temporary step on the journey towards eternity?

None of the ideas presented herein are my own. They were first introduced to me by Ernest Becker in his Pulitzer Prize winning book The Denial of Death.



- Rev.
Libertarianism is like communism: both look great on paper.
nobody owns ideas! (3.33 / 3) (#223)
by Fen on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:14:02 PM EST

Not Becker, not anyone!
--Self.
[ Parent ]
Impossibility (none / 0) (#235)
by Alhazred on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:23:24 PM EST

I think the nut of the problem is that people define reality to be 'that which they experience'. Given that definition then it is essentially impossible to conceive of the sessation of the self. The self becomes the all. Everything else is defined in relation to the self, and though one can imagine the world without yourself in it, at that point you cannot imagine your own nonexistence because it removes the fundamental relationship, self to world.

Do this experiment, try to imagine what it would feel like to not exist... Since existence is defined by our relation to the world, we cannot do this. Thus we invent some kind of continuation of experiential existence.
That is not dead which may eternal lie And with strange aeons death itself may die.
[ Parent ]

hey einstein, buddhists dont believe in ego [nt] (none / 0) (#249)
by zzzeek on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:44:30 PM EST



[ Parent ]
hey dumbass, nor do they believe in God (none / 0) (#259)
by mrmazoo on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:54:44 PM EST



[ Parent ]
no, they have many gods, + reincarnation [nt] (5.00 / 1) (#337)
by zzzeek on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:47:14 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Depends on the denomination (none / 0) (#539)
by K on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 12:52:32 AM EST

But most don't think that belief is an intrinsic part of the belief system.

[ Parent ]
Buddhism (none / 0) (#933)
by roachgod on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 01:45:06 PM EST

Actually, it depends on the form of buddhism. Vajrayana or tibetan buddhists sound like what you are talking about, and those aren't gods, they are bodisatvhas, the differences I won't really go into, but bodisatvhas started human. On the other hand, theravada, the oldest school, and that most probably closest to the teachings of the original buddha(though other schools may argue) holds no gods, or bodisatvhas, and denies the existence of a soul. in Buddhist reincarnation, there is no person that reincarnates. You aren't you next time around, in any way shape or form. Instead, the effects of your actions (karma) continue, and the aggregates of self(conditioned by the way, you are a result of causal forces, there is no special thing in side) continue. Finally, mahayana is between these, with bodisatvhas and reincarnation, but once again there is no 'self' to reincarnate. There are of course other MASSIVE differences, and talking about buddhism as a whole is just plain dangerous, its like talking about monotheism, there is only so much you can say before you go against one of the different branches teachings.
Considering all the people I hate in the world, I don't think suicide should be a sin, it should qualify one for sainthood.
[ Parent ]
What does that prove? (none / 0) (#262)
by revscat on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:03:44 PM EST

Even if that were true (which it isn't), not believing in something does nothing to determine its actual existence.

For the record, Buddhists absolutely believe in the ego. Enlightenment is (greatly simplified) overcoming the childish ego and seeing/experiencing the larger totality of existence, a transcendence of identification with the personal ego.



- Rev.
Libertarianism is like communism: both look great on paper.
[ Parent ]
ego/self is an illusion in buddhism [nt] (none / 0) (#340)
by zzzeek on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:49:48 PM EST



[ Parent ]
but it proves (5.00 / 1) (#351)
by zzzeek on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:56:24 PM EST

...that the author of the original comment has no idea what hes talking about.  refer to the comments in this thread that speak of atheists unwilling to study the first thing about religion (beyond catholicism) before they claim to have a total understanding of the psychological underpinnings of spiritual or religious faith.

im nearly an atheist myself but the arrogance of most atheists, refusing to understand or appreciate why a massive chunk of the world disagrees with them, really annoys me.

[ Parent ]

Coherence would be a positive (none / 0) (#404)
by revscat on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 06:22:18 PM EST

but it proves that the author of the original comment has no idea what hes talking about. refer to the comments in this thread that speak of atheists...

I am the author of the original. Apart from your references to other messages and ad hominems, what are your specific objections to my original post? If anything it is you have shown a lack of knowledge on the subject with your original claims that "Buddhists don't believe in ego." followed up with "ego/self is an illusion in buddhism". The ignorance (and contradiction!) shown by those statements is just embarassing.

im nearly an atheist myself but the arrogance of most atheists, refusing to understand or appreciate why a massive chunk of the world disagrees with them, really annoys me.

And yet you attack those who try. Hmm.



- Rev.
Libertarianism is like communism: both look great on paper.
[ Parent ]
Ego death (none / 0) (#748)
by ZorbaTHut on Sun Jun 22, 2003 at 07:48:26 AM EST

Oddly, I don't accept the death of my ego either. Partially it seems unlikely due to the general concept of "conservation of *", and a belief that my mind is a lot more than just energy or matter. (I certainly don't *feel* like electrical impulses in a chemical stew.) But to be perfectly honest, I don't have any rational reason to feel this way - I just deeply believe that Something happens after you die.

Don't have a clue what though, and I don't belive in God, so refusing to believe in ego death obviously doesn't lead directly to religion ;)

Guess I'll find out the truth in seventy years or so - or I won't, as the case may be. (The good side to this belief is that if I'm wrong, I'll never know it :P)

[ Parent ]

Atheism is not a religion (none / 0) (#863)
by Bnonn on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 05:43:12 PM EST

    I believe, the fundamental driving force of human behavior, including religion, and specifically the evangelical drive that is so common across all reigions (including atheism).
As the saying goes, if atheism is a religion, not collecting stamps is a hobby.

[ Parent ]
Cowardliness (3.66 / 3) (#212)
by Alhazred on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:05:30 PM EST

Thats the gist of it. They are simply not able to face up to the possibility, even when it is plain to see, that they aren't the center of the Universe, that they are actually responsible for their own actions, and that they are the ones that are going to have to figure out how to work out the future for themselves.

Instead they prefer to hide in the comforting illusion that some grand plan exists for the world and they don't have to take any real responsibility. Not all religions are the same, but take a look at the Christians around you. They are mostly total hypocrits, they supposedly believe in a code of morality but they not only fail to live up to it (and then conveniently all is forgiven) but they corrupt this code of conduct to suite their own ends. This is not upstanding behaviour. Its not even Christian behaviour by any reasoned interpretation.

Basically humans are afraid. They are afraid of the future, they are afraid of their own responsibilities, and they are afraid of each other, and of themselves to boot.

Now, lest everyone take that as a totally anti-religious tirade, its not. I think where we are now is probably a necessary step in the evolution of consciousness. Just as we understand that people had to evolve from the stone age to today, someday more enlightened people will see this stage in our development as containing the seeds for whatever comes next and as a stepping stone to that. Some would like to abolish religion or fight against its negative aspects. Just take it for what it is. It contains both higher ideals and lower aspects. One day our descendants will smile to themselves about our notions of God, morality, and the afterlife, etc.
That is not dead which may eternal lie And with strange aeons death itself may die.

why do people call atheism a religion? (4.00 / 1) (#275)
by Battle Troll on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:24:37 PM EST

Let's consider this post as an exemplary case. The poster has an internally consistent worldview bolstered by numerous unprovable but unquestioned assumptions. This kind of atheism is a religion, mutatis mutandis, according to its own definitions of religion (which may or may not be relevant to anyone other definition.)
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
Wow, I'm an atheist now! (none / 0) (#916)
by Alhazred on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 08:29:59 AM EST

You read a lot into that post which wasn't there...

1) I made no existential statements at all, for all you know based on the post I am a hard core bible-thumping born-again.

2) Again essentially the same point. I certainly didn't make any statements proveable or unproveable about the nature of reality, so how does that make me expounding a religion, atheism or any other?

Fuzzy thinking friend. If you engage in telological or epistemological debate you better be sharper than the sharpest scalpel ;o).
That is not dead which may eternal lie And with strange aeons death itself may die.
[ Parent ]

Anyone can abdicate responsibility (none / 0) (#320)
by goatsmilk on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:30:41 PM EST

I don't know about not taking any real responsibility; sure, a lot of the decisions about what is right/wrong have been predigested and served up on a platter (eew, gross!), but religious people still need to take responsibility for living their lives according to those guidelines/rules. It is also quite easy for a non-religious person to abdicate their responsibility to make a decision about what is right and wrong.

So which is "better"?
(a) A non-religious person who makes conscious decisions about right and wrong, and does their best to live their life according to those decisions, or
(b) A religious person who believes (by definition) that their religion prescribes the correct way to live, and does their best to live their life accordingly.

In the end, both (a) and (b) are doing what they believe is best...



[ Parent ]
Exactly my point (none / 0) (#920)
by Alhazred on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 08:39:28 AM EST

YOU are the moral agent, and all moral authority starts and ends with you, no matter what you believe about God because YOU are the one that decides how to act.

Putting God in the equation is just a way of avoiding responsiblity for deciding what is right and wrong.
That is not dead which may eternal lie And with strange aeons death itself may die.
[ Parent ]

I do not recognise this (none / 0) (#410)
by Three Pi Mesons on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 07:08:42 PM EST

Christianity is all about moral responsibility. Surely it is greater cowardice to deny that there are absolute moral standards, and that we are accountable for what we do. I do not believe that I, nor any human being, is at the centre of the universe. The existence of a plan does not remove my responsibility, because I am part of the plan and it is up to me to do my bit. Yes, I am fallible, but I do not accept and welcome evil.

:: "Every problem in the world can be fixed with either flowers, or duct tape, or both." - illuzion
[ Parent ]
Where is the denial? (none / 0) (#918)
by Alhazred on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 08:36:24 AM EST

You see this is one of the things I highly object to, people assuming that everyone with beliefs different from their own has somehow abdicated moral responsibility.

I don't need to imagine that I am part of some plan in order to be a moral agent. I don't need some concept of some big guy keeping score on my choices to motivate me to make choices I think are good.

Consider this: The moral authority of Christianity DOES NOT COME FROM GOD. This is true even if God exists in the Christian sense. Moral authority comes from the willingness of moral agents to act according to certain moral principles.

I simply accept my responsibility as a moral agent. If you think NOT being a Christian somehow REDUCES my sense of moral responsibility you fail to see my point. I accept TOTAL moral responsibility.

Everyone is fallible, you just accept that and go on with things.
That is not dead which may eternal lie And with strange aeons death itself may die.
[ Parent ]

there's more than one way to do it (5.00 / 3) (#219)
by artemb on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:11:12 PM EST

Does anybody else finds it disturbing that most of the time in similar discussions the debate is about
  * "I believe in God" vs. "I don't believe in God".

That tends to associate agnostics and atheists with the "don't" part of the discussion and ignore the fact that agnostics are not atheists. If anything, agnostics are as far from atheists as they are from theists.

I think that three-side argument would make more sense
   * I believe God exists
   * I believe that God does not exist
   * I don't have any proof one way or another, so I doubt.

At the moment neither theists nor atheists can prove their point of view.

If they decide to do so, theists would probably have easier time doing so. After all all they have to do is to demonstrate a single instance of god. Well, then you'll have to prove that what you're demonstrating is God. Any idea how to do that?

Atheists ot the other hand, will have to demonstrate that there is no god anywhere in space-time (never mind other dimensions) - this sounds pretty tough to me, so I'm not holding my breath. Oh, joys of proving negative statements!

Does anybody have any ideas on how one can conclusively prove of disprove existence of God.
Simple "God existence proof HOWTO" would do.

----------------
Agnostics of the world, unite!

Ill add one to the mix (none / 0) (#239)
by kableh on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:27:09 PM EST

* I don't care, just keep politics out of it.

[ Parent ]
Apathy != Agnosticism (5.00 / 1) (#358)
by fluxrad on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 05:08:55 PM EST

Agnosticism is believing that you *can't* know whether or not there is a God because he is (ahem) unknowable.

I used to be an agnostic when I thought it meant "I don't know." However, that's not what it means, since the question "Do you believe in God" can be answered by everyone. It doesn't matter if you don't really know or not. I'm not certain with every fiber of my being that God doesn't exist, but I'm still an atheist because I've never seen any proof that he actually does.

Personally, I'm of the opinion that the term "agnostic" is K5/Slashdot geek chic. It sounds like an interesting belief system, but saying you don't know or you don't care doesn't make you agnostic. It makes you an ambivalent atheist.

--
"It is seldom liberty of any kind that is lost all at once."
-David Hume
[ Parent ]
"Being agnostic" is something you _do_.. (none / 0) (#500)
by LairBob on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 10:53:25 PM EST

...not someone you are. Fluxrad's absolutely right--shrugging your shoulders, or just ducking the questions by saying "You're all just chasing your tails...there's no point", is not agnosticism. Granted, that's as I prefer to define it, but to me, it's ambivalence, at best.

Agnostics who are not deeply familiar with the details and underpinnings of the world's belief systems don't interest me at all. For me, agnosticism is the willingness to confront what has convinced other people, and take it seriously for yourself. If you earnestly wrestle with the same ethical and moral issues that people of faith do, but just keep coming up with the conclusion that man is not meant to know (or some other qualification of a brick wall), then you're a red-blooded agnostic in my book.

[ Parent ]
Other people have other books (none / 0) (#522)
by roystgnr on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 11:51:43 PM EST

Simply put, there are three or four categories of people ("I believe there is no God", "I don't believe there is a God", "I don't know if God exists", "I believe God's existance is unknowable") which people try to describe with the two words "agnostic" and "atheist".  You can't assign precise definitions to those words without either making up more terms (e.g. strong agnostic vs. weak agnostic, strong athiest vs. weak atheist) or leaving millions of people without a label.

[ Parent ]
Sure (none / 0) (#526)
by LairBob on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 12:01:22 AM EST

I tried to be pretty openly subjective regarding my own opinion of the "agnostic" folks I've come across--those who have still spent a good chunk of a vibrant, intellectual life wrestling with moral and theological issues are, to me, a much more interesting group. I personally prefer to reserve the term for that set, rather than the larger, more passive ambivalent (or egotistical) groups who also feel the term applies to them.

[ Parent ]
..or something you don't do (none / 0) (#595)
by artemb on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 06:50:55 AM EST

I'll let professionals tackle the issue. Meanwhile, I'm not joining either of extreme camps. Atheism is a belief too. And it's as unfounded as theism. In order to take any of them seriously I need some serious arguments. Bring me proof and I'll reevaluate my opinion in view of new factors. Until then.. Until then I'll think about something else. Theology does not have immediate effect on my life anyways.

Or maybe it's that I have trouble believening in anything absolute.. I don't think that it's a bad thing though. There's always a chance that one's wrong. The only absolute truth is that there is none.


[ Parent ]

Agree to disagree (none / 0) (#596)
by LairBob on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 07:10:44 AM EST

I understand your perspective, and I share your skepticism in accepting broad, absolute truths, but in my mind, that's not what makes me agnostic--that just makes me skeptical. "Agnosticism", while a relatively new term (as of 1880), was coined with a sense of effort in mind:
Thomas Huxley [the coiner of the term "agnosticism"]...came to see it as demanding as any moral, philosophical or religious creed. But instead of a creed, he saw it as a method realized through `the vigorous application of a single principle,' positively expressed as: `follow your reason as far as it will take you,' and negatively as: `do not pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable.' He called it the `agnostic faith.'

Now, personally, I wouldn't necessarily call it a "faith", but I do believe, still that you're only being agnostic when you're wrestling with moral issues on what you might call a "religious" scale--does God exist, why does evil exist in the world, etc.--and coming up empty. If you just leave them as "unknowable", to me, that's something different than agnosticism.

[ Parent ]
What's in a name? (5.00 / 1) (#598)
by artemb on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 07:24:15 AM EST

OK, I submit to be classified as "whatever, dude". It's not a black&white world. It's all shades and hues and not all of them have names. If in you terms I'm atheist - so be it. What's in a name, after all? I'm still the same.

[ Parent ]
Not much (none / 0) (#600)
by LairBob on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 07:31:41 AM EST

I'm the first to admit that this little debate over the term "agnostic" is basically just a semantic diversion. As a general rule, I'd much rather people spend the bulk of their effort and attention on living a good life, rather than worrying about what to call themselves.

I just got engaged by this issue because "agnosticism" is something I've happened to think about a lot, personally, and it gets bandied about a lot--given the overall topic of discussion, I just decided to chime in.

[ Parent ]
Agnostic (5.00 / 2) (#593)
by artemb on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 06:36:23 AM EST

To start with I think that the question "Do you believe in God?" is incorrect. How would you answer "Do you believe in spoon?". I believe that spoons exist. I believe that I can eat soup with it. But I don't believe in it. "believe in" is a shortcut for something else that's implied.The question should be rephrased. For instance, as "Do you believe that god exists?". Or - "Do you believe that God will do your homework?" But even that is akin to marketing surveys or ads. It does not represent whole spectrum of possible answers. If you say "Well, I don't believe that God exists", you'll be labeled as non-believer. Never mind that you're not necessarily denying God's existence either.

Now, as for terminology, let me disagree.According to Webster dictionary

ag·nos·tic Etymology: Greek agnOstos unknown, unknowable, from a- + gnOstos known, from gignOskein to know -: a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and prob. unknowable; broadly : one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god
On the other hand -
athe·ist : one who denies the existence of God
So, in order to be an atheist you have to believe that God does not exist. In this case you, technically, should fall under broad definition of agnostic.But that does not really matter. Novadays anybody can believe whatever he/she/it wants to believe. I wish we had Electric Monks. [1]

Overall, I'm just turned off by the topic because of complete lack of arguments from either side. The whole discussion boils down to emotions and misunderstandings. What does it matter if one is theist, agnostic or atheist? Does it matter any more than what is one's native language or skin color?

-----

[1] Adams, Douglas. Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

..Electric Monks believed things for you, thus saving you what was becoming an increasingly onerous task, that of believing all the things the world expected you to believe.


[ Parent ]
There is no spoon! (none / 0) (#626)
by fluxrad on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 10:35:32 AM EST

Best post yet. I disagree with your interpretation of the question "Do you believe in god?" since it seems to me to be the semantic equivalent of "Are you catholic or christian."

Neither are correct, but you understand what the person wants to know.

--
"It is seldom liberty of any kind that is lost all at once."
-David Hume
[ Parent ]
some comments. (3.45 / 20) (#220)
by Estanislao Martínez on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:11:21 PM EST

First, I'll start off by saying that this story is (a) an almost completely predictable display of rabid atheistic ignorance (you know, the good old "I'm and atheist and I'm smarter and a better person than the average Jane"), (b) utter crap, (c) unpredictable only in those places where it's worse than I predicted beforehand (wtf is that crap about belief in afterlife being "explained" by evolutionary theory as a "survival drive"? Are you on crack?).

As I've said before, analysing religion in fundamentally intellectual terms is just wrong. Religions, contrary to what your typical condescening idiot arrogant superiority-complexed in-your-face rabid atheist would have it, are fundamentally not about believing empirically inert sentences about the existence of supernatural beings. Religions are practices, not theories, and the crucial thing about a religion is what its practicioners do, and even here, not individual acts, but rather a whole way of life. Yes, many religions (Christianism is a prime example) talk about "belief," "faith" and so on, but plenty just don't; this is an incidental aspect of religion. "You shall judge them by their deeds."

Contrast this with, say, quantum mechanics, or any other scientific theory; a scientific theory is something we are intended to relate to in a purely intellectual manner (we're supposed to find grounds for believing or disbelieving it), and which does not constrain us to act in any particular way.

The bias is easy to see now: you are implicitly judging religions by a standard that is not appropriate to them, that of science. The answer is simple: the values of natural science may be all fine and dandy for science, but there is no reason that we should apply them to things that have to do with how we live our daily lives, such as religion. Science is about coming to believe empirically true statements, while religion is about living your life a certain way. And to the degree that your attack on religion aims to prescribe how people should live their daily lives, you are entering into the same domain as religion.

In other words: why should we lay a burden of proof at all in a person that lives her life in a particular way, which happens to involve making statements of the form "I believe in God"? Sure, we can judge that person in many ways (do their actions promote good for other people, etc.), but why do you think that we should judge her at all based on the "truth" of her statement? What makes you think that your scientific viewpoint is so damn important that their personal experience and approach to life should yield to it unconditionally? Who the fuck do you think you are to condescendingly tell other people that the way they live their lives is ridiculous and "superstitious"? Who made you and your kind the supreme arbitrers of culture?

--em

Ooh, you're a fiery one. (4.00 / 3) (#243)
by handslikesnakes on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:33:59 PM EST

In other words: why should we lay a burden of proof at all in a person that lives her life in a particular way, which happens to involve making statements of the form "I believe in God"? Sure, we can judge that person in many ways (do their actions promote good for other people, etc.), but why do you think that we should judge her at all based on the "truth" of her statement?

The question isn't whether it is good to believe in God, or beneficial to humanity, or anything of the sort. The question is whether God exists or not.

Who the fuck do you think you are to condescendingly tell other people that the way they live their lives is ridiculous and "superstitious"?

You probably don't go out of your way to avoid having a black cat cross your path, and if you do you are being superstitious. If you went extremely far out of the way to do the same, I might call it ridiculous. The same goes for belief in God.



[ Parent ]
Bzzt, wrong, try again. (3.50 / 2) (#284)
by Estanislao Martínez on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:32:52 PM EST

The question isn't whether it is good to believe in God, or beneficial to humanity, or anything of the sort. The question is whether God exists or not.

No, that's the direction you want to force the debate into. In other words: what makes you think in the first place that we should investigate that question in the same terms as we investigate e.g. whetehr quarks exist? For I don't think there is a point to doing that.

--em
[ Parent ]

But that's where the debate always winds up (4.00 / 2) (#300)
by JetJaguar on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:53:17 PM EST

You want to claim that this is all irrelevent, and to a certain extent I agree with you. But somewhere along the way, the question of existance always comes in. The Christians claim that some being exists that created the universe, and for most Christians, their faith really does hinge on that existance. I've heard time and time again from religious people that they can not concieve of a world with a God, and when put to debate that is the first point that always comes up.

To you it may be largely irrelevant, and I think you are probably right. But to most people the question of existence is an important one, and not to be put aside for a "feel good" analysis based on how well believing a religion affects an individual's life.

Nobody is forcing the debate in that direction, that is where it goes naturally everytime.

[ Parent ]

surroundings (5.00 / 1) (#311)
by Estanislao Martínez on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:15:30 PM EST

The Christians claim that some being exists that created the universe, and for most Christians, their faith really does hinge on that existance.

And what makes you think that you should interpret the word "claim" the same way both in the christian's and the physicist's statement? Don't they play very different parts in the whole of the practices that we call "Christianity" and "Physics"?

(BTW this is very similar to Wittgenstein's thinking on religion, but that's another topic...)

--em
[ Parent ]

The problem (3.25 / 4) (#285)
by michaelp on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:35:04 PM EST

is when religious people attempt to apply their beliefs in the political realm.

Take the example of abstinance education to prevent pregnancy & STDs among teens: while one can certainly utilize science to uncover what sort of educational practices reduce these problems, religious people want to ignore the science and instead implement policies based on what they believe should reduce the problem

you are implicitly judging religions by a standard that is not appropriate to them, that of science.

In reality, the problem is the converse: religions explicitly attempt to judge science based public policies on an innappropriate standard: that of religion.

If folks of various religions simply practiced their beliefs personally and used science to judge public policy decisions, the conflict would actually only be a sort of intellectual game between implacable but harmless adversaries.



"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

[ Parent ]
ought and is (5.00 / 2) (#297)
by Estanislao Martínez on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:51:31 PM EST

In reality, the problem is the converse: religions explicitly attempt to judge science based public policies on an innappropriate standard: that of religion.

This is no more of a problem than the converse, in principle (in practice it all depends on the circumstances of specific cases). Science by itself can't decide on what's appropriate public policy, for the simple reason that you can't derive "ought" from "is".

If folks of various religions simply practiced their beliefs personally and used science to judge public policy decisions, the conflict would actually only be a sort of intellectual game between implacable but harmless adversaries.

I have to disagree. Again, science will never make your public policy decisions for you. Science can only inform public policy to the degree that our ideologies invite it to.

Simple: the public sphere is politics, politics involves a confrontation between multiple ideologies and interests, and even if all of these agreed to the arbitration of claims by empirical science, there would still be plenty of room for diametrically opposed ideologies.

--em
[ Parent ]

Sure it can (tell ought from is) (3.00 / 1) (#315)
by michaelp on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:23:52 PM EST

Science can demonstrates that species' strive to maximize the number of healthy individuals in the species & can elucidate the conditions under which human beings are healthiest.

& then we can evaluate various plans to arrive at the largest number of healthy individuals & modify the plans as needed.



"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

[ Parent ]
jeez. (5.00 / 1) (#343)
by Estanislao Martínez on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:51:34 PM EST

If you're going to make claims about what science can acheive that are wrong just as a matter of principle, at least get the science right.

Science can demonstrate that species strive to maximize the number of healthy individuals in the species [...]

First of all science does not demonstrate anything of the sort. The term "strive" here is completely superfluous, to start with-- not just is it volitional, but also, teleological. And you're attributing this to "species", not to individuals (or genes, if you're a Dawkinsphile).

[...] & can elucidate the conditions under which human beings are healthiest.

Science can't provide a concept of "health." Sure, science is essential to elaborating our preconceptions of what it is to be healthy and to develop methods for evaluating and modifying our health, but the notion of "health" involves judgements that some states are preferable to others, and science can't provide these judgements. Different persons' ideas of "health" can differ significantly; and in fact the notion changes from one generation to the next.

& then we can evaluate various plans to arrive at the largest number of healthy individuals & modify the plans as needed.

But not only are you presupposing the concept of "health" here (which as I've said science can't justify), you're making additional suppositions that science can't justify: e.g. that the best society is the one where everybody is maximally healthy. What makes you think so? And what if people disagree with you? Are you going to claim that some empirical result will show that you're right about this?

--em
[ Parent ]

In common usage (none / 0) (#430)
by michaelp on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 07:41:34 PM EST

'species strive' is fine. You know what I mean, though I can get real technical if you like.

Better health means more offspring survive means more genes survive, etc.

Science can't provide a concept of "health."

Sure it can, and in fact is doing so as we type.

judgements that some states are preferable to others, and science can't provide these judgements.

The judgements are made by people employing the scientific method with varying degrees of skill & access to evidence. Science provides the evidence to base the judgements on, of course. That concepts of health differ as better instruments gather more evidence supports the idea that science can indeed 'tell ought from is'.

What makes you think so? And what if people disagree with you? Are you going to claim that some empirical result will show that you're right about this?

No, I said the best thing for a species is if all it's members are maximally healthy. Humans are a social species of course, and there is much scientific research providing evidence that healthy individuals require a healthy society & vice versa.

If people disagree, they can gather or produce evidence that demonstrates their counter hypothesis is more accurate.

Which certainly is a healthier way to resolve questions than a religious war;-).



"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

[ Parent ]
Science does not settle issues of value (none / 0) (#472)
by Estanislao Martínez on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 08:54:34 PM EST

The judgements are made by people employing the scientific method with varying degrees of skill & access to evidence.

Yes, but the premises that make it so that condition A is "better" than condition B are ultimately nonempirical, and we can disagree on all sorts of points here. Hell, one does not even have to make up examples: euthanasia and living wills are prime examples. E.g. making the reasonable-sounding assumption that being alive in any form is "healthier" than being dead, it follows that keeping a person in a vegetative state indefinitely is better than letting them die, even if they are unlikely to ever recover.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Examples of this sort can be concocted to no end. The crucial thing: the concept of "health" crucially involves values, and empirical facts just can't decide between value systems. Sure, you can appeal to empirical facts in arguments about values, but only to the degree that participants assign a value to the facts in question in the first place.

I said the best thing for a species is if all it's members are maximally healthy. Humans are a social species of course, and there is much scientific research providing evidence that healthy individuals require a healthy society & vice versa.

But you are simply disregarding the criticism: statements of the form "A is healthier than B" are not empirical. You can use empirical facts to argue for such a statement relative to a set of values that defines "health", but this set of values can't be established by science, and is highly contentious.

A simple what-if scenario: suppose we had your ideal "healthy" society, and I was put in it. Now suppose that I specifically did not want to be healthy: I want to eat badly and do all sorts of drugs that fuck up my body and mind and ensure a long painful death, starting from a period of convalescence at an early age that extends for a very long and painful expanse of life. Of course, I get something out of it, which is an extremely intense and grandiose existence for a few years: "burn out young," you might call this. That which you think our society strives for, "health," I find a ridiculous notion. There will be plenty of time to rest in the grave, dammit-- I want my sex, drugs and rock and roll NOW, and fuck the consequences.

Assume further than we can agree on every single empirical fact. How then would I be inclined to see your proposed "healthy" society as desirable in any way? How could you ever convince me that it is anything other than utterly disgusting, by appealing to some fact?

--em
[ Parent ]

Your second point is quite addressable (none / 0) (#499)
by michaelp on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 10:51:34 PM EST

through the scientific method. You can hypothesize that humans are more healthy when they have the choice to take dangerous drugs (does freedom correlate with human health) & the education necessary to know what the drugs will do to them.

Then evaluate the hypothesis based on your stated definition of 'health' & data from a population with such a choice & access to such information.

California is in fact conducting just such an experiment with it's current tobacco add campaign, with quite informative results.

Your first point seems simply a strawman, obviously a terminally ill patient doesn't meet any definition of healthy. However, you certainly can evaluate the effects of either side of your dichotomy on the health of their relatives & society as a whole.



"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

[ Parent ]
wrong reading. (none / 0) (#529)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 12:07:57 AM EST

Your first point seems simply a strawman, obviously a terminally ill patient doesn't meet any definition of healthy.

This is a distortion of the argument; I deliberately used the word "health" in a relative, and not an absolute, sense. (WTF could be an absolute state of health, anyway? Who could ever count as absolutely "healthy"?) All I assumed is that being alive, even if you're terminally ill, is healthier than being dead (not that it's healthy by any absolute measure).

And far from being a strawman, it's a concrete example of an actual ethical controversy, which you have totally skirted in your response. Your "health maximization" idea is in trouble on this point. The sort of thinking that you are espousing is what has led doctors over the last century to prolong slow deaths in the name of keeping patients alive; and millions of people reject this. No experiment can absolutely tell you what to do in this sort of case, period; the best you can do is, given a set of values that you hold prior to the experiment, allow you to choose between various courses of action. But the crucial thing is that your values might differ from other peoples'.

And the fact that you appeal to the health of relatives of the terminal patient in this case is quite chilling, for you risk entering a slippery slope: you can argue that, in order to maximize the health of the relatives and society at large, you can force the ultimate minimization of the terminal patient's health (death). The problem is that your logic does not depend at all on the fact that a person is a terminal patient (and aren't we all "terminal patients" anyway, with a disease called "life"); it just depends on maximization of operationally defined quantities. Your logic can be used to justify killing people, as long as their death has a positive effect on the health of society as a whole. Holocaust v2.0, anybody?

In any case, I await your algorithmic procedure for deciding the truth value of the statement "A is healthier than B" for all possible substitutions of A and B. Because without such a thing, your argumements are totally moot. (Not that they'd get much better if you had such a thing, because then you'd have to convince me that the decision procedure is the *right* one. Which would involve convincing me that there could be a right procedure for such a thing in the first place, independent of our values. Dude, you're in trouble.)

--em
[ Parent ]

not so (none / 0) (#558)
by Battle Troll on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 02:26:56 AM EST

Dude, you're in trouble.

Considering the prevalence of this sort of thinking among people in the sciences, it is not just he but we who are in trouble. Oryx and Crake, anyone?
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

oh, i see. (none / 0) (#567)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 03:16:08 AM EST

so if the disagreement gets serious enough, it is them that get to decide that we our contribution to the collective health of our society is negative. Oh oh.

BTW your explanation of what's an ad hominem could be put with a bit more class as follows, by using a notion of "minimal pair". The following is an argument ad hominem:

You're an idiot. Therefore, your argument is crap.
But the following is very crucially not so:
Your argument is crap. Therefore, you're an idiot.
Thanks for your attention.

--em
[ Parent ]

excellent point (none / 0) (#576)
by Battle Troll on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 04:03:41 AM EST

[I]f the disagreement gets serious enough, it is them that get to decide that we our contribution to the collective health of our society is negative.

If I were trolling it'd be time to bring up Franz Fanon.

Thanks for that clarification on ad hominem. Do you remember P. Johnson's comments on a potential logical basis for ad hominem?
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

Not my sort of thinking here: (none / 0) (#714)
by michaelp on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 10:06:32 PM EST

The sort of thinking that you are espousing is what has led doctors over the last century to prolong slow deaths in the name of keeping patients alive; and millions of people reject this.

The fact that "millions reject this" is evidence that the practice is not a healthy one. In a society where decisions are based on science, such contradictions indicate that a policy needs to be studied and changed: the hypothesis that the practice in question leads to the healthiest possible society is contradicted by the millions who reject it, therefore the hypothesis is incomplete or erroneous.

Thanks for pointing out a great example of the difference between social systems based on ideology or religion and one based on science: the former are based on belief, and so contradictions tend to be attacked or suppressed, w/as in the latter contradictions are embraced as they reveal where further study & better policies are needed. Which brings us back to science finding ought rather nicely:-).



"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

[ Parent ]
Good lord. (none / 0) (#721)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 11:06:47 PM EST

The fact that "millions reject this" is evidence that the practice is not a healthy one.

So then the fact that millions of other people also reject euthanasia must be evidence that the practice is a healthy one. And can't an opinion be wrong, even if everybody holds it?

And you have made opinion a criterial factor in determining what is "healthy." Haven't you then granted my point? Opinions are subject to cultural and historical variation; different opinions are constantly vying for supremacy in a given culture.

In any case, you're bluffing your way through this unless you can tell us what the experiments are that can decide whether it's right or wrong to euthanise a patient in a deep coma. The burden of proof is on you.

--em
[ Parent ]

Let's try something different. (none / 0) (#724)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sun Jun 22, 2003 at 12:39:16 AM EST

For the sake of argument, I'll give up on "health," and I'll grant you, again just for the purpose of this argument, the status of world authority on what's healthier than what. Whatever statement of the form "A is healthier than B", I'll accept.

However, I won't grant you the same status for the words "good" and "bad".

Now, your task: demonstrate how being (relatively) "healthy" is better than being "unhealthy", for any person in any situation (or at the very least: no worse than being "unhealthier"). You are allowed only appeal to repeatable empirical observations, laws of logic, and mathematics. Any premises, explicit or implicit, that are neither of these, will not be accepted.

A way you may want to try to structure your presentation: how would you force a person whose empirical observations agree with yours, and who accepts the same laws of logic as you do, that it's better to be healthy than otherwise?

If you can do it, I'll support future bids on your part to be dictator of Earth, and to exterminate "unhealthy" people (even including myself) in the name of maximizing the collective health of our society.

--em
[ Parent ]

Oh, good grief. (5.00 / 1) (#349)
by gzt on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:54:12 PM EST

One of those people.
  1. Science can't demonstrate that.
  2. Science can't define "healthy".
  3. Science can't generate those plans in general.
  4. Science can't evaluate those plans.
  5. Even if it could, we have not yet arrived at an 'ought'.
Even if you call economics a science, you would realise that those five statements are true. For further references, read Varian's economics textbook.

[ Parent ]
You seem to believe science is (none / 0) (#452)
by michaelp on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 08:23:22 PM EST

some sort of diety with limited powers.

'Science' is people employing the scientific method, & certainly we can do all that you list above.

The above is an in context definition, but you can take the various defs listed in the dictionary and also accomplish your list above (eg 1 : the state of knowing : knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding: know how to tell a healthier action from a less healthy one, know how to design and evaluate a plan for increasing the general health of a population, etc.

Ought is rather built in for this process (also using it's various definitions), society certainly ought to encourage & enable the healthiest practices known (practically a dictionary example of the definition of 'ought',) & there are various methods of demonstrating the evidence for this in general or specific.



"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

[ Parent ]
good Lord (none / 0) (#470)
by Battle Troll on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 08:49:16 PM EST

You appear to be a refugee from 1920.

(eg 1 : the state of knowing : knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding: know how to tell a healthier action from a less healthy one, know how to design and evaluate a plan for increasing the general health of a population, etc., preceding sic

You have totally begged the question of what 'health' is. Empirical science can tell us that organisms' states of health differ, but it cannot tell us that any state of health is preferable to another. That is for politics and ideology to decide; and utopian techno-utilitarianism is most decidedly an ideology. Perhaps you cannot imagine any differing ideologies, so here are a few: Communism, Christianity, Roman civil virtue, imperial capitalism.

society certainly ought to encourage & enable the healthiest practices known...

While I agree with this statement, this is an ideological rather than a scientific statement.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

No (none / 0) (#491)
by michaelp on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 10:17:21 PM EST

You have totally begged the question of what 'health' is.

You can find definitions for 'health' in the same place (Merriam-Webster) I showed you for science. My goodness are you going to demand I define 'you' 'can' 'find' 'definitions' 'for' etc. next?

Empirical science can tell us that organisms' states of health differ, but it cannot tell us that any state of health is preferable to another.

This is an argument from anonymous authority. The definition I used for health was from the dictionary, and one can certainly evaulate states of health 'preferability', again, if you use a standard definition of 'preferable' for the organism.

Your and em's main arguments on this issue (aside from the pointless ad hominems) seems to be that someone could make up their own definition for 'health' or 'preferable' or 'science' and then claim that their personal ideas cannot be evaluated.

But that is a red herring: if you want to use your own definitions for 'preferable', that is fine, but be prepared to state why & defend your reasoning with accessable data or empiricly derivable evidence.

If you for instance think it's 'healthy' to faciliate the creation of new strains of drug resistent bacteria through making access to health care dependent on how large of number you have in a database, by all means try to demonstrate it: whether this is healthy for society certainly can be asked and answered scientifically.



"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

[ Parent ]
your dictionary "definition" (3.00 / 1) (#527)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 12:01:38 AM EST

Your dictionary definition of "health" does not provide a procedure for determining for any given case whether condition A is "healthier" than B. And even if it did, it would involve preferences that can't be justified on empirical grounds.

Oh, dumb me, wait, you are quoting the world's most eminent authority on everything, Merriam-Webster's Dictionary. What business can I possibly have even suggesting that a definition in a dictionary can't be depended on to settle this issue. Of course, the dictionary's definition are always right for any purpose EVER. I promise that the next time I feel the impulse to think through an issue, I'll grab my dictionary instead. Forget about those philosophy books on my shelf, too; anybody want them? I shall no longer need them after I buy a copy of Webster's.

More seriously (and condemningly) now: whatever makes you think that the entries in any dictionary are such that they could anticipate all possible disagreements about the use of a word? This is a crucial point. Any definition of "health" in a dictionary will have to be noncontentious enough so that it is compatible with a broad range of contentious opinion as to what is healthy and what is not. Citing a dictionary definition is completely disingenious; we can both agree that what the definition says is true about the concept of health, yet still disagree on countless specific instances of what is to count as relatively more healthy than something else.

Your and em's main arguments on this issue (aside from the pointless ad hominems) seems to be that someone could make up their own definition for 'health' or 'preferable' or 'science' and then claim that their personal ideas cannot be evaluated.

Nope. My argument is that no definition of health can be justified empirically. And I'm not making up any definition of "science"; I'm simply assuming that for an question to pertain to science, it must be capable of being settled empirically. Health involves preferences, and preferences can't be settled empirically, therefore health is fundamentally not a scientific concept. Even if it utterly depends on physiology (which *is* a science), and actual investigation of health must pose empirical questions, this does not make health an empirical concept, because it is value-laden through and through. We can agree on all the details of physiology, psychology, etc., yet disagree on whether something is "healthy" or not.

If issues about "health" more frequently than not give the appearance of being resolvable through empirical research, then this is because most people share a large part of their values; but these values do not in principle have to coincide for everybody, and therefore there will be disagreement, and this can't be resolved by any experiment. There are people in this world who would choose an exciting but unhealthy life over the opposite.

If you for instance think it's 'healthy' to faciliate the creation of new strains of drug resistent bacteria through making access to health care dependent on how large of number you have in a database, by all means try to demonstrate it: whether this is healthy for society certainly can be asked and answered scientifically.

But this is not a case on which we disagree what is "healthy" and what isn't, so it's less than fully relevant for the discussion. Though one could still imagine some people who believed it; you'd think they're crazy, I'd think they're crazy, but there is no empirical piece of data you could point to that shows they're wrong about what "health" is. All you can do is say that their ideas are very much out of step with everybody else's. But you yourself are making the complementary mistake: thinking that everybody has to share your personal notion of what is healthy and what isn't, down to the littlest example.

--em
[ Parent ]

dear sir (none / 0) (#555)
by Battle Troll on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 02:23:02 AM EST

You don't know what an argument ad hominem is. Allow me to give an example:
You are a double-barrelled asshole, therefore your argument is crap.
This argument attacks the opponent's argument through slandering him rather than by addressing the argument in any way. That is why ad hominem is a fallacy. I stand by my statement that you are a refugee from 1920, with the caveat that Haldane and co., being men of their time, had more excuses for their beliefs and conduct than their apes 80 years in the future.

Look, you persist on mischaracterising my arguments as subjectivistic, which is a gross misreading. I'm trying to tell you that no definition of physiological health will get you to a utilitarian ideology. Presumably, American, Swedish, Chinese, and Kenyan doctors largely agree on what constitues physiological health. Yet, the practice and economics of medicine differ widely between these countries. You're too close to your morality and ideology to recongnise that it is not a fact of nature, it is your ideology, and it has rivals.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

Your example demonstrates my point quite well (none / 0) (#716)
by michaelp on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 10:12:11 PM EST

thanks! Your doctors all recognize 'healthy', and know how to improve the health of their patients utilizing science.

But various ideological systems/religious beliefs, non-scientific fantasies prevent them.

Perfect example of why social decisions should be based on science and ideology & religion should be practiced in privacy:-).



"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

[ Parent ]
*yawn* (none / 0) (#722)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 11:21:53 PM EST

Your doctors all recognize 'healthy', and know how to improve the health of their patients utilizing science.

What makes you think all the doctors in question mean the same thing by "health"? ("The same thing" as in "extensionally equivalent". Not that I expect you to understand this.)

But various ideological systems/religious beliefs, non-scientific fantasies prevent them.

We are waiting for your wonderful method for finding the empirical facts about the range of cases in which euthanisia is good. In the meantime, you are forbidden from spouting bullshit.

Perfect example of why social decisions should be based on science and ideology & religion should be practiced in privacy:-).

The Holocaust, racial segregation, forced sterilization of mentally "ill" people, the exponential explosion of the HIV-2 virus in Guinea-Bissau during around 1960, and plenty of other such things are examples of social decisions that were "based" on science. And these are perfect examples of why we should not let "science" (or rather, un-selfconsciously scientistic ideologies that fail to see themselves as such) make social decisions. (Oh, and you're forbidden from replying to this point until you can provide your wonderful method for "scientifically" deciding whether euthanasia is good or bad, relative to which cases. Bonus points if your method avoids justifying the Holocaust.)

--em
[ Parent ]

A Converse Accident (none / 0) (#966)
by michaelp on Wed Jun 25, 2003 at 08:34:20 PM EST

or two among doctors doesn't deny the obvious: in general doctors agree on health in general. In general, they agree that they should settle disagreements wrt to what is healthy by applying the scientific method.

We are waiting for your wonderful method for finding the empirical facts about the range of cases in which euthanisia is good.

The scientific method. You can learn about it in an introductory science class. I again suggest you apply yourself.

In the meantime, you are forbidden from spouting bullshit.

O look, rather than attempting honest debate, em turns to an Appeal to Force.

Didn't you once claim you were a student of logic? Perhaps you should reaquaint yourself with the definition of 'fallacy', *hint, it is not generally considered a good thing among philosophers.

And these are perfect examples of why we should not let "science" (or rather, un-selfconsciously scientistic ideologies that fail to see themselves as such) make social decisions.

No, this is why we should demand that ideologues who make claims to a scientific backing for thier fantasies should submit their claims to being tested via the scientific method. None of your hobgoblins pass even the most basic scientific investigation of their claims, as has been amply demonstrated by folks who were finally allowed to test them without fear of being suppressed.

Oh, and you're forbidden from replying

It is clear which side of these issues you would have been on, the one able to forbid rather than the one attempting to shed light .



"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

[ Parent ]
ok, a quick moral question (none / 0) (#761)
by Battle Troll on Sun Jun 22, 2003 at 12:23:50 PM EST

I'm an American middle-class guy, I have 5 bucks in my pocket, and I'm on my way to buy a 5 dollar sandwich. A putrid bum comes up to me and asks for 5 bucks to buy a sandwich. I size him up and decide that there's a 50% chance he'll spend it on booze, but boy does he look hungry! Should I:
  • buy him a sandwich?
  • give him the money?
  • buy myself the sandwich?
  • Forcibly drag him to a rehab center?
  • Beat him up for pleasure?
  • Feed him a painless poison, as his life is obviously miserable?
  • Or something else?

    How will science help me decide? Is there a way to experimentally confirm the correctness of the decision I am morally mandated to make?
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]

  • Actually, I accept your argument (5.00 / 2) (#292)
    by JetJaguar on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:41:41 PM EST

    I think as far as evaluating certian aspects of a religion, I think you are right on the money. However, your evaluation only counts with people who don't care if what they practice is "the truth" or not. You can go on and on about what the proper way is to evaluate a religion, and that has a certain usefulness to it. However nobody cares because they have the need to believe that what they believe/practice is an absolute, incontrivertible "truth," in spite of the fact that this kind of factual evidence is pretty much impossible to obtain. Your method doesn't touch on that at all, at least not in the sense that people want their beliefs to be true.

    [ Parent ]
    you're talking about particulars. (5.00 / 2) (#301)
    by Estanislao Martínez on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:54:00 PM EST

    And I'm making an argument about the general case. Not all religions are dogmatic. The good and the bad of dogmatism in religion in any case ought to be judged in reference to specific cases.

    --em
    [ Parent ]

    Why the abuse? (5.00 / 3) (#302)
    by spakka on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:55:20 PM EST

    typical condescening idiot arrogant superiority-complexed in-your-face rabid atheist

    I take it your proposed respect for people's beliefs doesn't extend to atheists?



    [ Parent ]
    Defensive, much? (5.00 / 2) (#308)
    by goatsmilk on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:10:08 PM EST

    First, I'll start off by saying that this story is (a) an almost completely predictable display of rabid atheistic ignorance (you know, the good old "I'm and atheist and I'm smarter and a better person than the average Jane"), (b) utter crap, (c) unpredictable only in those places where it's worse than I predicted beforehand (wtf is that crap about belief in afterlife being "explained" by evolutionary theory as a "survival drive"? Are you on crack?).

    And yet, from the original article, the author seems to be religious, when not being objective:

    "As an aside, my recommendation is: pray to find the truth. God will lead you to it. If he doesn't, well, that's one heck of an excuse to use at Judgement Day. Just make certain you're prepared to follow him if he does lead you to it."
    Being a bit defensive, aren't we?

    [ Parent ]
    I don't understand. (4.00 / 1) (#359)
    by amarodeeps on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 05:12:19 PM EST

    First of all, you do sound pretty defensive and upset. I understand, people have great emotional attachments to the issues involved, and frequently respond with this sort of defensive tone, whether they are atheists or more religious.

    Secondly, I didn't really get the feeling that the author was an atheist, and this statement had a big part to do with that:

    This is probably the biggest obstacle: in the quivering mass of contradicting religions (many even contradicting themselves), how is one supposed to find the truth? (As an aside, my recommendation is: pray to find the truth. God will lead you to it. If he doesn't, well, that's one heck of an excuse to use at Judgement Day. Just make certain you're prepared to follow him if he does lead you to it.)

    Now some questions about your post: why can't we try to understand religion in an intellectual sense? Even if practice is central, why can't we try to intellectually understand this religious practice, and critique it on that basis? I don't think you've explained this well.

    Why isn't science about living your life a certain way? If you understand the scientific mindset, don't you think that might have an effect on how you live your life? The Feynmann quotes seems to suggest that rather eloquently, methinks.

    And on the flip side: why can't religion be about understanding empirically true statements? Well, I guess the simple answer would be because religion doesn't approach things empirically; however, can you explain how you do approach the 'facts' presented by a faith without using an empirical approach? I think that we can at least agree that religion does make statements and suggest we appreciate them as facts, like "take Jesus into your heart and you will be saved." But, I think I'm getting off the point here.

    Your words:

    In other words: why should we lay a burden of proof at all in a person that lives her life in a particular way, which happens to involve making statements of the form "I believe in God"? Sure, we can judge that person in many ways (do their actions promote good for other people, etc.), but why do you think that we should judge her at all based on the "truth" of her statement? What makes you think that your scientific viewpoint is so damn important that their personal experience and approach to life should yield to it unconditionally? Who the fuck do you think you are to condescendingly tell other people that the way they live their lives is ridiculous and "superstitious"? Who made you and your kind the supreme arbitrers of culture?

    This really is off the point regarding the original piece, but I'd like to respond, just by saying that I think this is a statement that could be directed, with minor modifications, toward those who do believe in religion.

    I feel like the author of the story doesn't deserve this, I don't think they challenged anyone's right to believe in a god, and I don't really feel like there was the ridiculing of religious people that you suggest in your highly emotional post.



    [ Parent ]
    Wrong measure (none / 0) (#381)
    by The Writer on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 05:35:11 PM EST

    Now some questions about your post: why can't we try to understand religion in an intellectual sense? Even if practice is central, why can't we try to intellectually understand this religious practice, and critique it on that basis?

    Because intellectual debate can never arrive at conclusions derived from a fundamentally different paradigm. You're trying to measure the redness of saltiness. You're trying to judge a piece of music by how it smells. It's not surprising if you get contradictory results. I used, in another comment, the example of Newtonian physics vs. Special Relativity. You cannot derive Special Relativity from Newtonian physics, because they differ in fundamental assumptions. However, that doesn't mean Special Relativity contradicts the findings of Newtonian physics. If you are willing to drop the Newtonian mindset and adopt Einstein's radically different approach, then Special Relativity will make a lot of sense, and you find out that the empirical data can be re-interpreted under Special Relativity in a way that is consistent with Newtonian physics as a special case.

    [ Parent ]

    I think I understand... (none / 0) (#514)
    by amarodeeps on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 11:31:09 PM EST

    ...in that I don't know if it is something I can understand, but something I need to experience. But I guess the thing that messes with me about religious experience is that while it is something unique to the individual that experiences it, people throughout time have been trying to convince other people (and succeeding!) that their belief system, which is based on this non-rational (does that work?) thought, is the one for everyone else too.

    So, I come back to the same point: if people don't mean for other people to understand religion, why do they try to convince other people of their set of facts that goes along with their religion? If we need to experience or 'intuitively realize' the truth of religion, or art, or whatever, then why do we spend so much time trying to force that understanding, through facts, apparently, down other peoples throats?

    Am I approaching your explanation in any meaningful way? I'm trying! But I do start to find this stuff tricky to talk about. And I feel like I'm getting off-topic, sorry about that.



    [ Parent ]
    I have concluded (3.50 / 2) (#221)
    by modmans2ndcoming on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:12:19 PM EST

    that if God does exist, he MUST exist outside our universe.

    why is this? very simple, the Universe will end one day. God and Heven are eternal so there can be no end.

    there is a possability for this in theoretical physics.

    baby universes. if say, God is a scientist is another Universe that our universe exists in and God created our universe to study the life and death of universe's he/she /it could them monitor everything and even use worm holes to enter the universe.

    is this far fetched? sure, but it is the only possability for god to actualy exist in his/her/its current definition.

    Slight flaw in your logic (none / 0) (#759)
    by Dwonis on Sun Jun 22, 2003 at 11:22:06 AM EST

    why is this? very simple, the Universe will end one day.

    We do not know for certain that the universe will really end one day, and since we don't yet even have a unified theory of physics (at least as far as I know), we can't make particularly reasonable predictions that far into the future, either.

    There's also the blind assumption that God and Heaven are, in fact, eternal.

    However, if we assume both of those things, then your deduction may make some sense.

    [ Parent ]

    Heh (4.11 / 9) (#222)
    by trhurler on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:13:06 PM EST

    There's a reason this argument isn't worth having. Namely, there are three kinds of people. Religious folks don't need a reason; they're proud of that fact. Granted, this is some form of mental illness, but it doesn't matter. Religious atheists(there is no god, and I can prove it!) don't need a reason either, but they think they do, which makes them religiously compelled to argue despite the obvious hopelessness of the situation. A more annoying, but essentially identical sort of illness. Then there is a tiny minority, to which I belong, which simply doesn't give a flying fuck, and regards the question "is there a god?" as being very, very similar to "are there invisible pink elephants?" in the sense that it doesn't matter and we can't tell anyway. (Granted, there are so-called agnostics too. They're religious; they just can't get past their doubts, and they think other religious people don't have so many doubts, because they have not understood religion very clearly.)

    Why do you want to argue with a bunch of mentally ill people? Are YOU mentally ill?

    --
    'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

    Agnostics (3.00 / 1) (#295)
    by Dr Seltsam on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:48:28 PM EST

    What exactly is the difference between the "tiny minority" you mention, those who don't give a flying fuck, and agnostics. For me not "giving a flying fuck" is the exact definition of agnosticism. I think, I am a member of that "tiny minority" and I definitly support your view that a) we cannot know and b) it doesn't matter. Seriously, please tell me, what kind of agnosticist you met that you would define as religous. I honestly don't get your point.
    The fact that I'm paranoid does not mean that they are not after me.
    [ Parent ]
    Um... (5.00 / 1) (#322)
    by trhurler on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:35:05 PM EST

    You obviously haven't done much research into the origin and history of the term "agnostic" before asking this question. Your true agnostic agonizes over matters of faith, but cannot come to any conclusion. Typically they make a big show of it, too, and annoy the living fuck out of everyone around them, although a few seem to enjoy suffering in silence as though it were some badge of honor.

    The difference is attitude, but the reason for the attitude is what counts: agnostics are religious people who succumb to their doubts.

    --
    'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Um: (none / 0) (#336)
    by Dr Seltsam on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:46:47 PM EST

    Merriam Webster:
    Main Entry: 1ag·nos·tic Pronunciation: ag-'näs-tik, &g- Function: noun Etymology: Greek agnOstos unknown, unknowable, from a- + gnOstos known, from gignOskein to know -- more at KNOW Date: 1869 : a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and prob. unknowable; broadly : one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god

    Agnosticism is just about the unknown and unknowable nature of god. Not about agonizing about matters of faith. A simple statement. No doubt. No uncertainty about conclusions.
    The fact that I'm paranoid does not mean that they are not after me.
    [ Parent ]
    Yeah (none / 0) (#362)
    by trhurler on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 05:14:06 PM EST

    Well, m-w also says that the modern definition of Zionism is mere concern with the protection of Israel. Dictionaries rarely define politically sensitive terms in a reasonable fashion. Big deal.

    --
    'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

    [ Parent ]
    Concedo. (none / 0) (#568)
    by Dr Seltsam on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 03:16:14 AM EST

    You got a point there. Like adiffer pointed out, we seem to be in need of a new category here. I don't like his proposal "nontheist", though. Any suggestions?
    The fact that I'm paranoid does not mean that they are not after me.
    [ Parent ]
    well said (5.00 / 1) (#564)
    by adiffer on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 03:05:50 AM EST

    I learned to distinguish the two groups as 'wafflers' and 'nontheists.'  Those of us who see it as an invisible pink elephants issue are the nontheists.  We don't care to hold to any form of theism and we are agnostic by the formal definition that relies upon the latin translation as 'not knowable.'  The wafflers get lumped in with us by the theists perhaps due to a limited vocabulary concerning the subject.

    I've usually used a different question with ducks instead of elephants, though.

    What is the difference between a duck?
    --BE The Alien!
    [ Parent ]

    re: invisible pink elephants (none / 0) (#480)
    by opendna on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 09:30:52 PM EST

    You ask "are there invisible pink elephants?" and I reply:

    Of COURSE there are invisible pink elephants.

    These are my reasons:
    Douglas Adams, one of the greatest philosophical minds of the 20th century, clearly proved that Somebody Else's Problems are always invisible, even if they are as large as a mountain and painted pink.
    I confess I find it highly unlikely that there does not exist an elephant tinted pink either naturally or artificially. If it was my problem to find a pink elephant I am sure I could find one at a circus, for example. As pink elephants are not my problem, they are clearly, Somebody Else's Problem and therefore invisible.

    Besides, "Invisible pink elephants" made me laugh. "God" never made me laugh. I prefer to believe in things that make me laugh.



    [ Parent ]

    Why can't people accept that gods exist? (3.83 / 6) (#226)
    by MessiahWWKD on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:18:18 PM EST

    True, the gods do have some sort of conspiracy to hide themselves in plain sight. However, I'm sure everybody's experienced gods in some way. Personally, I've fought and destroyed many of them. Hell, I would have killed the creator of the universe had he not fled forcing me to deal with number 37. I'm sure I'll meet up with him again.
    Sent from my iPad
    why does there have to be a God? (4.33 / 3) (#227)
    by modmans2ndcoming on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:18:56 PM EST

    could the supernatural phenomenon experienced just be part of how the universe is made?

    Ghosts, psycics, out of body experiences, etc.

    perhaps our life forces are part of the universe and don't like to go away just becasue the body dies.

    you will know when you die....or until you have a very real experience with one of the phenomenon that makes you believe.

    The Matrix (Ugh.) (none / 0) (#357)
    by LittleZephyr on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 05:07:53 PM EST

    Ever seen the episode of the Animatrix ttled "Beyond"? Kinad the same thing. It's pretty much a colection of children playing in a haunted house, and agents comes to fix the glitch in the matrix, something [spoiler="Matrix Reloaded"]that is a natural and inherit part of the matrix.[/spoiler]

    [ Parent ]
    The God Spot (4.40 / 5) (#228)
    by bryaninnh on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:19:54 PM EST

    The "yearning for immortality" and widespread belief in God / Religion may also have a biological source. Some scientists believe they have found evidence of brain circuitry the inclines some people to believe in religion more strongly than others, and causes them to have "religious" experiences when this brain region is stimulated electronicly. This may also partially help explain the common themes of many religions throughout the world. Here's one link, there are many others on google. The God Spot

    thanks for the God Spot link (none / 0) (#406)
    by SaintPort on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 06:29:53 PM EST

    was looking for this awhile back.

    --
    Search the Scriptures
    Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

    [ Parent ]
    If you don't have faith, (4.66 / 3) (#229)
    by confrontationman on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:20:39 PM EST

    how do you get the demons out?



    The Demons? (4.00 / 1) (#293)
    by Dr Seltsam on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:43:30 PM EST

    You don't get them out. You realize they are part of you, conjured up by your mind. If you see that, you keep them under control, mostly.
    The fact that I'm paranoid does not mean that they are not after me.
    [ Parent ]
    Thank you doctor. (none / 0) (#298)
    by confrontationman on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:51:31 PM EST



    [ Parent ]
    Offer lemonade. (none / 0) (#478)
    by opendna on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 09:14:20 PM EST

    Demons love lemonade.

    If that doesn't work I suggest vodka or taquilla and Bill O'Reilly. If you get really drunk and angry, chances are the demons will come out.



    [ Parent ]

    Blood orgies with virgin red-head teen twins? (none / 0) (#785)
    by Sesquipundalian on Sun Jun 22, 2003 at 06:41:09 PM EST


    Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
    [ Parent ]
    Sex orgies (none / 0) (#836)
    by Cro Magnon on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 10:55:43 AM EST

    Preferably with virgin blonde twins, but red-heads or even brunettes will do in a pinch.
    Information wants to be beer.
    [ Parent ]
    *My* personal experience (4.66 / 3) (#230)
    by bjlhct on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:20:46 PM EST

    I was just siting around and over a couple seconds I suddenly developed a powerful belief in, well, some supreme being anyway. I saw everything in the world as an extension of this supreme spirit.

    And then, about 10 minutes later, that feeling went away.

    However, me wondering what was going on, I carefully watched (?) what was going on. And remembering that, I can feel religious whenever I want to.

    Thus I concluded this is just my brain playing tricks on me.

    *
    [kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism

    When I was a kid, (4.00 / 1) (#265)
    by confrontationman on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:10:30 PM EST

    during a particulalrly bad fever, I started hallucinating. When the fever broke it became more like a waking dream than apparent reality. I realized then the things I was seeing were just hallucinations.

    After that experience I can understand how people can beleave they hear and see things that aren't real, and some of the time it makes me wonder what I should trust to be real. Maybe the things other people can see, that I can't, are real. Maybe I'm the one who's hallucinating. I don't think that's the case, but I will never know again.

    I think that human consciousness is the result of a subtly balanced electro-chemical reaction, and the line between imagination and reality can easily become blurred during times of intense stress. It only takes a slight chemical imbalance and suddenly you know there are demons and Santa and the Easter Bunny and they are busy trashing the room.



    [ Parent ]
    Sure. (none / 0) (#549)
    by bjlhct on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 01:45:18 AM EST

    I think that's something important. Another thing to add to the conspiracy pile with the War on Drugs?

    I liked what Feynman wrote on hallucination.

    I have to think you're right. I kind of laugh at people who are on antidepressants because it's easy enough to be happy or hyper. Except that I'm too lazy to mess with my mind too much somehow.

    *
    [kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
    [ Parent ]

    because they're retarded. (nt) (2.42 / 7) (#231)
    by mattwnet on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:21:26 PM EST



    This story's too easy to troll (4.33 / 9) (#233)
    by A Proud American on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:22:41 PM EST

    I hereby plead the Fifth Amendment, under which I'm granted the right to refrain from trolling.

    ____________________________
    The weak are killed and eaten...


    Catholic (5.00 / 3) (#234)
    by iamadingy on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:23:14 PM EST

    Once, when I was 7 or 8, my family was in church one Sunday. They were doing the Communion thing with the wafers. I asked my dad, "Are we really eating Jesus?" And he said, "It's just pretend." I always hated playing pretend.

    Makes it hard to take the whole thing seriously, (5.00 / 2) (#240)
    by confrontationman on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:28:04 PM EST

    doesn't it.



    [ Parent ]
    The other way round, actually (none / 0) (#608)
    by Homburg on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 08:21:06 AM EST

    The philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe argued in favour of the doctrine of transubstantiation precisely because it made it easier to take religion seriously. Her argument was that religious usage of language is different from everyday use of language (at least in the modern world), and that the disconnect between the two can be confusing (what does 'immaterial soul' mean in scientific terms, for example). The idea that a bit of wafer is part of the body of someone who died 2000 years ago, however, is so obviously false in normal language, that by insisiting on its truth, you make it very clear that the words you hear in church don't mean what they would do outside church.

    The doctrine of transubstantiation clears up right at the outset any misconception you might have that Catholicism makes sense considered on anything other than its own terms, and thereby allows you to take it seriously on those terms.

    [ Parent ]

    your dad was wrong... (5.00 / 2) (#272)
    by Run4YourLives on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:23:21 PM EST

    If you were Catholic, you were eating Jesus.

    However, if you were Anglican, or another most other Prodestant types, you were indeed just pretending.

    It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
    [ Parent ]

    Eating Jesus? (none / 0) (#286)
    by Cro Magnon on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:36:21 PM EST

    I hate to ask, but what if someone has the flu and throws up in the toilet?
    Information wants to be beer.
    [ Parent ]
    They try to prevent such things (none / 0) (#824)
    by Viliam Bur on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 09:01:30 AM EST

    by some rules. I do not know the rules exactly, but as far as I remember you are prevented from eating Jesus if you are sick, you ate something recently, etc.

    [ Parent ]
    Write-in poll option: Mu (n/t) (4.75 / 4) (#237)
    by kwertii on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:25:50 PM EST




    ----
    "He lives most gaily who knows best how to deceive himself." --Fyodor Dostoyevsky

    Mu (5.00 / 1) (#289)
    by Dr Seltsam on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:39:41 PM EST

    Which is in fact the only valid answer. You are approaching enlightenment. So tell me, has your post the Buddha nature?
    The fact that I'm paranoid does not mean that they are not after me.
    [ Parent ]
    atheism?? (3.00 / 3) (#238)
    by iangreen on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:26:54 PM EST

    i think explicitly not believing in something that you think doesnt exist is almost sillier in believing something you know doesn't exist. why even waste your time? i think atheists are all just confused. I was one once, then I realized i could define myself by what i believed in, and not some silly religion. God has meant much more than what a 'theist' considers it, across many cultures. it's such a huge idea that 'not believing in god' is almost absurd to me. even though i think most religions are silly, except for the literature and community and culture part.

    Strong vs. Weak Atheism (4.00 / 1) (#307)
    by Kuli on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:07:06 PM EST

    There's a difference between explicitly NOT believing in something and DOUBTING something. To outright disbelieve in God's existence is foolhardy. I'm an atheist. I doubt God's existence, and I have reason to do so. I can't say "I know God doesn't exist," because that demands omniscient knowlege, which would make ME a Godlike figure. And since I don't have that, I can't make that claim, but I CAN simply DOUBT the existence of supreme beings, like how you (probably) doubt the existence of Leprechauns.

    [ Parent ]
    As a Quaker.... (5.00 / 3) (#245)
    by artsygeek on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:35:02 PM EST

    As a Quaker the goal isn't immortality in my faith.  Neither is it in the faith of many of my friends who are Jewish, Buddhist, and Hindu (and even some Christians).  The goal for me in regards to my faith is believing in the guidance of God to allow me to live a good life now, and do good for others, and if there is an eternity after this....great.  If not....oh well.

    Also, not all non-theists like the label atheist.  Some are deists, some are humanists.  Also, the quasi-theistic "Process Theology" (to which I subscribe, in part) wouldn't be very well accepted by many theists.

    Why is religion so prevalent? (4.25 / 4) (#248)
    by nurallen on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:40:54 PM EST

    Well, Christianity and other religions have had thousands of years in which to figure out a thing or two about the human soul. They totally relieve existential anxiety and provide comfort to humans amongst all the suffering and tedium of daily life.

    What can compete with this in modern life? Science does not even try; this is not one of its goals. Modern psychology is a joke; psychiatry has morphed into pharmocology.

    Short term, within our lifetimes, one might as well be an agnostic. Long term, I believe science will bring a closure to the mystery of the human mind - if we dont blow ourselves up first.

    "modern psychology is a joke" (3.00 / 1) (#273)
    by mreardon on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:24:00 PM EST

    In my limited experience, I would agree with you. But there are very interesting bits and pieces here and there that, IMHO, put traditional religion firmly in the shade.

    For example: "Using Your Brain for a Change" by Richard Bandler. The whole NLP field is quite amazing.

    [ Parent ]

    Thanks for the suggestions ... (5.00 / 1) (#380)
    by nurallen on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 05:32:14 PM EST

    I will try to find the time to look into them.

    [ Parent ]
    fashionable comments (3.50 / 2) (#255)
    by Sacrifice on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:51:57 PM EST

    It seems fashionable here to mock atheists as the polar opposites of theists - that is, having an unreasonable belief that there are absolutely no gods (of course, "god" is not well defined).

    I wouldn't call this a straw man, because there are people who are unreasonably certain (or, at least, because they want to show their offense at religious belief in the strongest terms possible, they exaggerate).

    Let's put it this way:

    An atheist believes that the kind of god in the religions he's encountered is implausible.  There is a wide spectrum of certainty compared to actual knowledge about these religions and science.  Certainly an atheist would be more prone to write off subtle messages from deity as "mind playing tricks on itself" or "coincidence".

    An agnostic politely declines to enter any judgment about likelihood, instead declaring the question off-limits (inherently unknowable).  There are some atheists who politely call themselves agnostic.

    A theist (of a particular variety) has committed to a particular (maybe fuzzy) conception of deity/ies.  There is a wide variation of theology, certainty, and respect for science (i.e. reproducible knowledge about reality).  Most sane theists carefully define their belief to be inherently unfalsifiable by science, or are flexible enough to change their belief if necessary.  Certainly an experiential theist is more likely to cling to any pleasant coincidence mental experience as "evidence" of their righteous belief.

    Agnostics (5.00 / 1) (#282)
    by czolgosz on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:30:23 PM EST

    Disagree-- agnostics don't say that the existence of God is an unaswerable question, only that they've seen no evidence that supports an answer. Asserting that there can be no answer is as irrational as claiming that you know the answer without any supporting evidence. I think that misrepresents the position, which derives from an empirical, skeptical, scientific mode of enquiry.


    Why should I let the toad work squat on my life? --Larkin
    [ Parent ]
    corrupted - original definition of agnostic (none / 0) (#462)
    by Sacrifice on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 08:33:08 PM EST

    "One who believes that it is impossible to know whether there is a God."

    (the second definition is the usual "not sure (but doubtful) about God's existence")

    Huxley actually created "Agnostic" and "Agnosticism" (look him up), so while common usage has corrupted and confused the issue ("agnostic" gets you beat up less by bible-bangers), I believe my definition focusing on the philosophical impossibility of knowing God exists or does not, is the original and primary one.

    I guess this is splitting hairs.  Whatever the masses believe a word means, it means =)

    [ Parent ]

    Why do people believe in Negroes? (2.50 / 12) (#256)
    by eSolutions on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:52:17 PM EST

    Why do people believe in Negroes?

    Why do most people here in Utah believe in people of color, when these "Negroes" have so consistently failed to manifest themselves?

    This is obviously a popular "meme." People think that Negroes will someday appear, fluttering out from the rainbows they are rumored to live in. Even seemingly-intelligent folks will leave teeth under their pillows for the Negroes to exchange for dimes. But why? Why do they believe this? Why, when Negroes so obviously do not exist? Look around you! Isn't everyone white? QED!

    ----
    Making periods more convenient -- one box at a time.
    --Tampax Commercial

    good sir, (4.00 / 1) (#268)
    by Battle Troll on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:16:20 PM EST

    I believe in Negroes.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]
    COPYRIGHT VIOLATION NOTICE (none / 0) (#371)
    by eSolutions on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 05:20:59 PM EST

    RobotSlave, where are you?

    [ Parent ]
    simple. (5.00 / 1) (#460)
    by Battle Troll on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 08:32:43 PM EST

    He's in a dungeon, wearing a dog collar, being beaten with a cane, obviously.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]
    Yet, expensive. (none / 0) (#580)
    by RobotSlave on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 05:33:59 AM EST

    I pay good money for that, you know.

    [ Parent ]
    I'm sure you do (none / 0) (#647)
    by Battle Troll on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 01:21:47 PM EST

    Where would you get bad money to pay for it with?
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]
    Obviously... (none / 0) (#661)
    by RobotSlave on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 02:36:54 PM EST

    ...from my extensive contacts in the criminal underworld.

    [ Parent ]
    my dear man (none / 0) (#672)
    by Battle Troll on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 02:55:07 PM EST

    That's the best kind of money there is.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]
    Is it? (none / 0) (#682)
    by RobotSlave on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 03:37:12 PM EST

    It always sort of bothers me that the colors tend to run when it gets wet.

    Then again, I suppose the younger set might prefer it that way, what with all their mumbo-jumbo about the merits of "plasticity" and "impermanence" and so on.

    Suit yourself.

    [ Parent ]

    wow (none / 0) (#689)
    by Battle Troll on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 04:07:00 PM EST

    Heraclitan money in a Dawkinian world.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]
    Come on. (5.00 / 1) (#692)
    by RobotSlave on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 04:42:53 PM EST

    You're giving yourself away.

    Now, by "Dawkinian world," did you perhaps mean "Dawkinsian world," presumably in reference to K5, and perhaps other hyper-Darwinist claques of macaques who like to throw poop at churches and use the made-up word "meme" when they are hooting and chattering about ideas?

    Or did you have another, preferably more credible, "Dawkin" in mind?

    [ Parent ]

    uh. (none / 0) (#715)
    by Battle Troll on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 10:06:32 PM EST

    +1, FP
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]
    Macaquins (none / 0) (#942)
    by sage on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 08:43:45 PM EST

    ...the made-up word "meme"...

    So where did we get the words that weren't made up? God?



    [ Parent ]
    From the magic of Atheism. (none / 0) (#943)
    by eSolutions on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 10:31:07 PM EST

    Teach us, O Nothingness!

    [ Parent ]
    It's not What you believe in... (4.75 / 4) (#257)
    by pnagle on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:53:28 PM EST

    but the fact that you believe at all. And believing everything can be as challenging as believing nothing, and more fun. That's why I started the Religion of the Week Club at my school, to see just what all these folks really do behind closed doors. It turns out they're mostly nuts, but friendly nuts, like me. What do I believe? Dance with Krishna's, Wink at the Moonies, Sit quietly with the Buddhists, Sing with the Baptists and Eat with the Jews. The rest is your problem.

    religion (3.40 / 5) (#258)
    by werner on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 02:53:55 PM EST

    or, at least, the concepts of the afterlife/divine intervention/a supreme being etc. that transcend the earthly, is merely a futile shield against the facts of reality for those too weak of mind to accept them or, worse, a tool used to manipulate those weak minds.

    the thing that seperates religion from philosophy is the "leap of faith". that's another way of saying: "you might as well make it up yourself".

    the leap of faith shields any religion and its followers from the kind of scrutiny that any other scientific or philosophical postulation would incur.

    for such a load of unfounded fiction, religion sure has caused a lot of suffering. the few thousand that died on september 11 was but a drop in the ocean. think crusades. think spanish inquisition. think northern ireland. think burning at the stake.

    you would think, in this day and age, that most people would be at the stage where they would reject theories with absolutely no basis in fact. sadly, this is not the case, and people continue to commit atrocities in the name of entities whose existence is nothing but questionable.

    Just curious.. (3.00 / 1) (#264)
    by talorin on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:06:46 PM EST

    Which continent did you type that reply from? If it's the Americas, I'd like to add your own presence in history to religion's countless evils...

    [ Parent ]
    i fail to see (none / 0) (#732)
    by werner on Sun Jun 22, 2003 at 02:36:00 AM EST

    what my location has to do with anything.

    you would only add me to the list if i were in the americas. why? do americans have a monopoly on "religion's countless evils"? are only americans of sufficient significance?

    furthermore, i fail to see the similarity between my actions and those of, say, torquemada.

    [ Parent ]

    absolutely! (5.00 / 3) (#267)
    by Battle Troll on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:15:38 PM EST

    people continue to commit atrocities in the name of entities whose existence is nothing but questionable.

    Atrocities should only be committed in the name of the wealth, comfort, ease and peace of those committing them. If it's in the name of idealism, how ever misguided, it must be inferior to that.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]

    You are so misguided, (5.00 / 2) (#269)
    by confrontationman on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:20:56 PM EST

    the few thousand that died on september 11 was but a drop in the ocean. think crusades. think spanish inquisition. think northern ireland. think burning at the stake.

    I'm not going to try prove anything, but I assure you that a little research into all of these examples of the evils of religion, will uncover political agendas were the root of these evils and religion was just the tool to effect the tyranny of evil men.



    [ Parent ]
    did you miss the bit (3.00 / 1) (#283)
    by werner on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:31:31 PM EST

    that said "a tool used to manipulate those weak minds"?

    [ Parent ]
    I saw that, but I also saw this bit, (4.00 / 2) (#288)
    by confrontationman on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:38:06 PM EST

    religion sure has caused a lot of suffering.

    You are blaming religion when the real culprits are men who have hijacked, and usually twisted it, for their own evil purposes, you know... like the Republicans.



    [ Parent ]
    my statement (none / 0) (#731)
    by werner on Sun Jun 22, 2003 at 02:32:28 AM EST

    remains valid:
    religion sure has caused a lot of suffering.

    this is not different to saying poison gas has caused a lot of suffering. It needed someone to fire it at other people, but that doesn't change the fact that there would have been a lot less suffering in this world if there had never been posion gas.

    the same goes for religion.

    [ Parent ]

    Religions are like land minds (4.00 / 1) (#294)
    by michaelp on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:48:13 PM EST

    dangerously easy for tin pot tyrants to mis-use.

    "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

    [ Parent ]
    leaps of faith. (5.00 / 2) (#287)
    by Estanislao Martínez on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:37:36 PM EST

    the thing that seperates religion from philosophy is the "leap of faith".

    Yeah. Like philosophy does not involve leaps of faith. Hell, isn't one of the major activities of philosophers discovering the leaps of faith of their teachers?

    --em
    [ Parent ]

    i wouldn't call it that (none / 0) (#734)
    by werner on Sun Jun 22, 2003 at 02:43:16 AM EST

    most philosophical theories ask you to accept a logical series of hypotheses, which if accepted, form the theory. philosophers spend their lives trying to pick logical holes in each other's and their own arguments.

    religions, on the other hand, have little to no basis in logic. they demand that you accept theories which range from unsubstatiated to preposterous.

    philosophy demands intellectual rigour, religion demands suspension of the intellect. what do you seriously think would happen to a philosopher who incorporated virgin birth into his theories? he would be laughed out of the profession. at which point, he would probably go and try to found a religion for tax purposes.

    [ Parent ]

    Religion (4.00 / 4) (#266)
    by awgsilyari on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:14:11 PM EST

    is an innate, instinctual social device which aids the domination of tribal groups by alpha males. The leader, by appealing to the divine powers of an omnipotent being who is claimed to look fondly upon him, can govern not only through fear of immediate physical retribution but also through a more abstract fear of divine retribution that will continue even past physical death.

    I mean, seems pretty simple to me. Just because we're intelligent enough to wrap it up in tons of rhetoric and labrynthian philosophical justifications doesn't change the fact that it's merely a more complex form of the same domination/subjugation behavior that all higher animals display.

    Now flame me.

    --------
    Please direct SPAM to john@neuralnw.com

    To quote Seneca: (none / 0) (#274)
    by confrontationman on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:24:34 PM EST

    Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful.



    [ Parent ]
    How do you explain the earlier forms of religion? (none / 0) (#330)
    by UltraNurd on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:43:09 PM EST

    The earth-mother? Sky-god? Pantheons, where every god has a specific duty, but they all have human failings? Ancestor worship, even? How do these fit into your command and control structure?

    --
    "Your Mint Mountain Dew idea is hideous and wrong."
    -Hide The Hamster
    [ Parent ]

    Easy (none / 0) (#339)
    by awgsilyari on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:49:28 PM EST

    When tribe members demand explanations for natural events (e.g. lightning, flash floods, earthquakes, etc.) it's not acceptable for a stout leader to answer "I don't know," and because science wasn't yet developed the only other authoritative-sounding explanation is an appeal to divine forces, who conveniently only seem to speak through leader figures. By claiming to commune with, and understand, these divine forces, the leader figure is able to further entrench his control over the tribe.

    --------
    Please direct SPAM to john@neuralnw.com
    [ Parent ]
    A story I heard at church the other day... (4.75 / 4) (#270)
    by Omicron Omega on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:22:24 PM EST

    A twelve year old boy became a Christian during a revival. The next week at school his friends questioned him about the experience. "Did you see a vision?" asked one friend. "Did you hear God speak?" asked another. The youngster answered no to all the questions." Well how did you know you were saved?" they asked. The boy searched for a answer and finally he said "It's like when you catch a fish, you can't see the fish or hear the fish; you just feel him tugging on your line. I just felt God tugging on my heart."

    If you don't go fishing you can't feel the fish tugging. You have to believe first to feel God.

    So... (4.33 / 3) (#280)
    by Dr Seltsam on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:29:27 PM EST

    So you have to believe first to be shown a sign. Or, in other words, you have to reprogram your perception accordingly to feel God. That sounds quite tautological. Sorry, I stay with agnosticism.
    The fact that I'm paranoid does not mean that they are not after me.
    [ Parent ]
    By that logic... (4.50 / 6) (#304)
    by Kuli on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:01:15 PM EST

    I could say that the pixies living in my ear make it rain. See the rain? Those are my ear pixies at work. Whatta ya mean it doesn't make sense? You have to have faith before it makes sense.

    [ Parent ]
    pixies (none / 0) (#497)
    by gdanjo on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 10:42:14 PM EST

    I could say that the pixies living in my ear make it rain. [...]
    You havn't established any credentials to make us "beleive" before we beleive. When you're a famous scientist, give this theory a go. I bet people beleive in God before they beleive in pixie rain, even though both are unprovable.

    Dan ...
    "Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
    Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
    -ToT
    [ Parent ]

    Fishing ... (5.00 / 4) (#373)
    by nurallen on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 05:21:29 PM EST

    I did fish a few times during my early teenage years - long time ago! I remember the moment when you feel that tugging - it's actually something a lot more violent than the word 'tugging' suggests - as one of the greatest thrills of my life.

    It was only after many years that I realized what the tugging signified: terror at the other end of the line

    And shortly after that, I discovered the source of my thrill: it was the creature's terror.

    [ Parent ]

    Kudos (none / 0) (#385)
    by Hector Plasmic on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 05:39:03 PM EST

    I'll vote for this as Best Short-Short Horror Story anytime.

    [ Parent ]
    god and fish (none / 0) (#496)
    by gdanjo on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 10:39:02 PM EST

    Another way to look at it is that the fish sacrificed itself for your excitement - it "chose" to go through terror (a fishy roller coaster, if you like) by eating a creature that was helplessly "tangled" on a nasty fishing hook (poor worm).

    Perhaps God, too, is pained to pull your hear-strings - but you choose to leave him dangling.

    Dan ...
    "Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
    Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
    -ToT
    [ Parent ]

    That fish wanted to be left alone and was tricked (none / 0) (#550)
    by Dephex Twin on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 01:49:33 AM EST

    Be considerate, don't trick God.


    Alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems. -- Homer Simpson
    [ Parent ]
    trickery (none / 0) (#709)
    by gdanjo on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 09:24:28 PM EST

    Be considerate, don't trick God.
    Be considerate, don't mock me by talking for my God. I never put words in your mouth.

    Dan ...
    "Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
    Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
    -ToT
    [ Parent ]

    Indeed (none / 0) (#412)
    by ComradeFork on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 07:09:33 PM EST

    Mormons, Muslims, and Catholics feel this too.

    [ Parent ]
    Oh no, I can see where are you going with this... (none / 0) (#638)
    by grzebo on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 11:38:54 AM EST

    You know, there already was a religion that believed exactly the same thing once. The god tugging on your heart, all this stuff. But they took it one (quite logical) step futher - since god loves us, we should be good for him too. So take out your obsidian knife, and let your heart free, so god doesn't have to tug so hard anymore...


    "My God, shouts man to Himself,
    have mercy on me, enlighten me"...
    [ Parent ]
    Why Religion? (4.50 / 2) (#278)
    by Fredrick Doulton on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:27:59 PM EST

    Fear, guidance and hope.

    From the peasant's point of view:
    Fear of the unknown. Where do we go when we die? It's comforting to think that there may be something beyond this life and not just decay and nothingness. Guidance, because we all need to believe there is a grand scheme at work. Life is easier when you believe someone is holding your hand the entire way and that you're never truly alone(God is always with you, children). Hope, that maybe, just maybe there is something good in this world worth believing in.

    From a ruler's point of view:
    Fear: Keep them afraid, and you will keep them complacent and servile. What better than an all-knowing deity who will serve out eternal punishment to those who don't follow the rules?
    Guidance: Out of the pan and into the fire. You're mine!
    Hope: Hope they don't find out it was all a scam. A form of control to ensure that my kingdom will forever remain unchallenged.

    They say the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist. But maybe the greatest trick the church ever pulled was convincing the world he did?

    Bush/Cheney 2004! - "Because we've still got more people to kill"

    The concept of God (5.00 / 2) (#279)
    by sunil02169 on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:29:18 PM EST

    In order to understand why vast majority of people are theist, we need to define or scope out the concept of God.

    Although it's very difficult to define God, mostly because every religion and ultimately every human being has his/her own definition for God, out of their personal intellect and personal experience. Still we can by and large say that - God is some superhuman entity that is the creator of the universe, is very good in nature and is the mentor for every living and non-living entity in the universe.

    Some religions (Hinduism for instance) define God as beyond any form and properties. As soon as we define God, we lose the meaning behind it. Because God by definition is beyond definition... it cannot be scoped down or captured in words or personified.

    Why such complex definition? Why can't we say God is someone who is sitting in heavens and takes care of all supernatural phenomena?

    We need complex definition because God is the embodiment of a very complex thought process that has evolved over the history of mankind.

    When the primordial human beings first started living in societies... and began their quest for betterment, they faced lots of questions... out of these questions and their answers they started building up the "knowledge base" of humankind. Every generation of human beings inherit this knowledge base and try to add to it. Today we have a vast knowledge base compared to our primordial ancestors.

    But what remains common in us... is the quest for the unknown... our curiosity and our fear of it.
    We still have large number of questions that are unanswered, like - Why we are here? How do we come here? What is life? Why there are so many stars, planets, galaxies... Why the universe is the way it is? What is the purpose of this entire extravaganza? ... And most importantly what is our role in this big picture?

    All these questions are really very torturing to human intellect. And even if we have imagination, it is very much limited.
    So in order to cope with all these questions, we invented a superhuman concept... the concept of God. That is our answer to all that is unknown and beyond our thinking powers, until present day. That is why we cannot suitably define God in words, because as soon as we scope down God - we start facing other dreaded questions that lie outside our domain of definition. Hence God is beyond definition and beyond any form or properties.

    And as famous theologian Paul Tillich has said - "God is the symbol of ultimate concern of humankind".

    Maybe someday we will have more answers but until then God remains the supreme manifestation of human intellect.I t binds us together and gives us a perspective to lead our lives.

    God is not a being... it is being. It is everywhere in everything... Whether you are a theist or an atheist you have to have faith. Because this faith at the bottom is in our own intellect... if you don't believe in it you are less than a human being.

    So let's not get lost in the jargon and mythologies of various religions and respect the essence behind it. Let's respect our collective intelligence and have faith in it. OR in other terms - have faith in God!!

    - Sunil
    Why people believe (5.00 / 4) (#281)
    by spakka on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:30:08 PM EST

    The principal reason people believe in god is that they believe whatever their parents believed. How else do you account for the geographical distribution of religious beliefs?



    Begging the question (4.50 / 2) (#290)
    by twall on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:39:44 PM EST

    The majority of the world population lives at levels far below what is considered poverty in the United States. Therefore, one of the following must be true: 1) they must all be really lazy 2) they must all like being poor 3) the situation must be a lot more complex than most people would interpret from the simple phrasing of the question. #3 also applies to the statement "Almost everyone believes in a Supreme Being".

    How much would we have to lower our defense budget (none / 0) (#327)
    by UltraNurd on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:39:46 PM EST

    To feed the world, I mean. 20%? 30%? It can't take that much just to get a decent amount of carbos to everyone on the planet. And instead we're blowing $110 million per test on a missile defense system that isn't necessary and won't work. Maybe the airborne laser part... but that's not even for a few more years!!

    --
    "Your Mint Mountain Dew idea is hideous and wrong."
    -Hide The Hamster
    [ Parent ]

    Hard to feed the world (4.00 / 1) (#348)
    by Cro Magnon on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:53:58 PM EST

    when so much of it is run by dictators who WANT to keep their people poor & hungry.
    Information wants to be beer.
    [ Parent ]
    Consider Congo (5.00 / 1) (#577)
    by Alan Crowe on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 04:40:00 AM EST

    At my Buddhist group, some-one was saying that a tiny fraction of the US defence budget would purchase enough food to feed every-one who was hungry there.

    Well, maybe, but that neatly skips over the messy five-way civil war. It is not clear to me that current military expenditures give the US a strong enough army to sort out the mess in the Congo. The problem is not money for food, it is people wrecking things, for their own selfish or foolish reasons.

    [ Parent ]

    You're Mormon, aren't you? (5.00 / 4) (#303)
    by twall on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 03:59:19 PM EST

    There aren't really two poles where everyone hangs out. You don't have the atheists on the east side and the theists on the west side. Or only those that haven't yet prayed, those that truly prayed, and those that only pretended to pray. As many people as you talk to will have a unique idea in response to the word "God". Even among those in a very strict, narrow religion like Mormonism no two people really have the same view. Those differences create a spectrum around a wide variety of beliefs, not all of which include a "God" nor are even framed around that sort of question.

    The simple assumption that the question "Is there a God" is important or relevant to everyone is a faulty one.

    Beware a mindset that demands a pat, easy answer for why anyone thinks and acts the way they do. Are you more complex than an ant or not?



    I am Mormon (none / 0) (#855)
    by musicgreg on Mon Jun 23, 2003 at 03:50:14 PM EST

    I was baptised in February actually. I was raised Catholic and didn't believe anything. No one could show proof.

    What convinced me was a combination of the history behind the Mormon religion and answers to prayer. The prayers came later. Consider that the book of Mormon was translated in an impossibly short period of time by someone who wasn't very well educated. On top of that you can match up the occurrenced in the Book of Mormon with actual events and places in Central American during the time of the Almecs. I haven't been able to ask a question without an answer yet in this church. I completely believe it to be true, and that's a big change from previously not believing in God at all.

    [ Parent ]
    most of you... (5.00 / 3) (#305)
    by CtrlBR on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:04:56 PM EST

    Most of you probably have friends who are weekly church-goers.

    Hell no!

    Not everybody is unlucky enough live in the US.

    Here in France churchgoing is now the exception, mostly older folks and immigrant from more faithful countries. France is perhaps the most agnostic country out there but many other European countries aren't far behind.

    Myself in twenty years I've seen my family going from about half being church regulars to the present situation where only one grandmother still attends...

    The only thing that drags me in church are a few weddings (most people go the civil only way now) and deaths in the family. And it's not like I'm from a hardcore communist family ore something like that, to the contrary from an old pretty traditionnalist family.

    If no-one thinks you're a freedom fighter than you're probably not a terrorist.
    -- Gully Foyle

    Disillusionment (4.00 / 1) (#407)
    by Three Pi Mesons on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 06:49:37 PM EST

    Here in the UK, people occasionally moan about how terrible it is that nobody has religious or political beliefs any more, as evidenced by dwindling attendance at Church of England services and smaller voter turnouts. But this doesn't show lack of belief at all, just a lack of engagement with the existing systems. Lots of my friends would class themselves as "non-political", despite having plenty of political ideas and opinions, on the basis that they don't take part in the established order. Likewise, people have a very varied range of religious beliefs, but might not manifest that by going to a traditional church.

    :: "Every problem in the world can be fixed with either flowers, or duct tape, or both." - illuzion
    [ Parent ]
    "Most agnostic country?" (none / 0) (#989)
    by tetsuwan on Fri Jun 27, 2003 at 09:05:59 PM EST

    Sire, you have not been to Sweden. Admittedly, superstition is still rampant, only 30 % claim they have no belief in supernatural entities at all.

    Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
    [ Parent ]

    What changed my beliefs? (5.00 / 3) (#306)
    by GhostfacedFiddlah on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:05:15 PM EST

    It seems my beliefs were changed exactly in the way you describe it.  I left home, came to university, and went into science.  I'd already come to terms with the historic failings of Catholicism - Crusades, Inquisition, it's questionable scientific methods - but as a moral system, I believed in religion, and in God.

    The catalyst for dropping it all was the question of sex.  I believed in waiting until marriage.  Then I saw everyone around me hooking up - girlfriends, one-night-stands - and it caused an internal dilemma.  These were my friends, and try as I might, I couldn't see anything wrong with their actions - I couldn't really see the negative consequences as long as the rules of safe-sex and respect were honoured.

    My worldview underwent a number of changes that year - trying to view God as a compassionate parent figure ("Killing sends you to hell, but no-sex-before-marriage is for your own good to prevent pregnancy and diseases, not a cardinal sin").  Eventually I started looking at the other moral issues, and found that they were pretty much self-evident.  No killing/thieving/etc makes for a better society for all.  Meanwhile, I couldn't find any logical reason for many of the "extraneous" moral codes.

    After that, it was only a matter of time.  I knew intellectually there was very little evidence for God, but it wasn't until a full year or two later that I was completely free of belief.

    My Experience (4.80 / 5) (#309)
    by IsaacW on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:11:45 PM EST

    I was raised by my mother as a non-denominational Christian.  My father is an incredibly strong person and subscribed to no religion.  I was taught that an omniscient, omnipotent, and perfectly good being called God created human beings, and that he sent his son Jesus to die for the sins of humanity about 2,000 years ago.  I was told that if I believed in God and in Jesus and apologized to them when I did something wrong that I would go to Heaven and be rewarded.  If I didn't do these things I would go to Hell and be punished.

    The article says that some people believe because of a profoundly religious experience.  In a similar manner, I came to not believe due to a profoundly anti-religious experience.  The lead minister at the church my family attended was caught embezzeling funds from the church.  This happened when I was about 6 or 7, and it immediately put me off of the ideas that I had been taught about God.  How could he have let such a man come to lead his church?  If he was omniscient, then he must have known that it happened.  If he was also perfectly good, then he could not have allowed this to happen.  If he was also omnipotent, he must have acted to intervene.  But the intervention did not come.  The minister was allowed to commit that crime.  My belief shattered, I spent the rest of my grade school years as a rather committed anti-theist.  God as he had been described to me simply could not exist.

    During my second year of college, I came to read the Dhammapada and other Buddhist teachings, and took up meditation.  I took a strictly vegetarian diet, and did not purchase or use animal goods of any kind.  I did this for some 13 months.  This was a period of incredible spiritual searching for me.  A search for meaning.  I found meaning, and I rejected Buddhism.  I have come to believe that no religion is provably (or even probably) correct.  I have realized that I have a strong sense of right and wrong that is not dependent on religion.  There is more than one religion that claims to be the "One, True Way" and there is no way to ferret out which one, if any, is actually correct.  I have come to believe that if there is an afterlife and I live according to my internal moral compass, then I will reap the rewards of that afterlife.  If there is no afterlife, then I will have still lived a fulfilling life according to what I thought was right.  I have realized that it is useless to try to convince anyone else that this is the right way to live, or that their way of life is wrong.  I present this only as an account of one man's search and discovery of the truth of his reality.

    I used to believe in God (4.50 / 2) (#314)
    by the on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:21:43 PM EST

    After all, my first teachers were my parents and young children are liable to believe whatever they say whether it's an explanation of where your Xmas presents came from or an assurance that those people you hate really will be tortured horribly for eternity.

    --
    The Definite Article
    Your parents actually said that? (none / 0) (#323)
    by UltraNurd on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:35:36 PM EST

    Or are you just taking a little poetic license to prove a point? I'm jsut saying, because my mom definitely believes in hell, and evil forces actively working in the world, and she never told me that the bully I had trouble with at school would go to hell for roughing me up.

    I do understand your point, if you find it difficult to reconcile eternal damnation with unconditional love :o\. I think of Hell as a sort of weird purgatory, modeled by the curve 1/x. The x-axis is your "goodness", and the y-axis is "time spent in hell". In the limit, you could say that a truly good person would spend 0 time in hell, but the conclusion I draw from it is that no one can be bad enough to stay in hell forever. If you want a really interesting view of the afterlife, read The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis.

    --
    "Your Mint Mountain Dew idea is hideous and wrong."
    -Hide The Hamster
    [ Parent ]

    The bit about Hell... (none / 0) (#366)
    by the on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 05:15:56 PM EST

    ...is just an example of the kind of thing some people believe. My mother is pretty laid back in her religious views and probably doesn't believe in Hell.

    --
    The Definite Article
    [ Parent ]
    Lack of evidence? (3.66 / 3) (#317)
    by mmsmatt on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:26:59 PM EST

    Try The Case for Christ.

    And.... (none / 0) (#326)
    by Kuli on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:38:53 PM EST

    This proves to me...what, exactly? I'm not seeing much.

    [ Parent ]
    Review (5.00 / 2) (#355)
    by Hector Plasmic on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 05:05:33 PM EST

    Reviewer: The Rev. Dr. Daniel J. G. G. Block from Medford, Wisconsin

    "The author of the epistle to the Hebrews may have assured his readers that 'faith is the assurance of things unseen,' but that teaching seems to have been lost on Mr. Strobel.  For more than 2000 years, Christianity has judiciously made its spiritual claims based not on forensic evidence but on Spirit-inspired faith.  Being a law school graduate and a former reporter, Mr. Strobel seems all-too-ready to take his readers out of the realm of the Spirit and into the world of questionable evidence.

    "At best, Mr. Strobel's effort is a well intended, but useless attempt to prove the claims of faith in the court of world opinion.  It is a sort of amusing parlor game:  a cute and harmless diversion.  It is nothing more than words and wishes unnecessary for believers and meaningless to skeptics.

    "At worst, this book testifies to a new Gnosticism: an attempt to prove the claims of faith by a special knowledge, which ironically undermines the faith itself.

    "Probably, Mr. Strobel's book is neither the best of what it could be, nor the worst.  Probably, it is merely irrelevant."

    [ Parent ]

    Review is faulty. (none / 0) (#548)
    by gzt on Sat Jun 21, 2003 at 01:40:15 AM EST

    Though I haven't read the book [somebody once gave me a free copy which I threw out immediately], I feel qualified to comment on the review.

    First, providing a factual background for one's faith does not attest to a new Gnosticism. If Mr. Strobel were claiming the acquisition of the knowledge alone were salvific, this criticism would be valid.

    Second, the quotation provided from Hebrews does not teach against Mr. Strobel's method, and neither does the rest of Scripture.

    However, I do agree that the book is junk and irrelevant.

    [ Parent ]

    Seems to prove his point... (none / 0) (#935)
    by Hector Plasmic on Tue Jun 24, 2003 at 02:30:52 PM EST

    The fact that you and the reviewer can disagree on these matters of faith without either being able to demonstrate the problem to the other seems to point out that he's probably right.  And that you are.  Which seems to show that he's probably right, again.  Think about it. :-)

    [ Parent ]
    Sagan said it best (4.00 / 2) (#324)
    by fluxrad on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:36:00 PM EST

    A quote from the late Carl Sagan, prominent atheist and accomplished cosmologist. A quote which I have memorized:

    "The composite effect of life's extravagent diversity could only be understood by postulating a maker, not all of whose reasons we could grasp, who created the scene, the stage, and the subsidiary players for our benefit"

    Or...we were to stupid to know how that tree got there, so we said God did it. Why people still believe today is a mystery to me.

    --
    "It is seldom liberty of any kind that is lost all at once."
    -David Hume
    I prefer ignorant in place of "stupid." (none / 0) (#329)
    by Kuli on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:43:07 PM EST



    [ Parent ]
    "Accomplished cosmologist"??! (none / 0) (#350)
    by tkatchev on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 04:56:01 PM EST

    Laff!!

       -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
    [ Parent ]

    was? (none / 0) (#360)
    by fluxrad on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 05:13:03 PM EST

    looks for the joke.

    --
    "It is seldom liberty of any kind that is lost all at once."
    -David Hume
    [ Parent ]
    I see. (none / 0) (#378)
    by tkatchev on Fri Jun 20, 2003 at 05:28:16 PM EST

    Perhaps we should talk about something closer to your area of expertise ins