The Raving Theist

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God Proves Existence to Little Girl by Only Partially Destroying her Life

October 26, 2005 | 38 Comments

New York, New York, October 26, 2005
Special to The Raving Atheist

A little girl who lost a cat, a dog, a DVD player and a Nintendo GameCube in a burglary perpetrated while her family was at Sunday services has had her faith restored — the dog was returned two years later with a crippling back injury!

According to the New York Post, a beagle stolen from eleven year old Gisselle Robles was reunited with her on October 10th after an animal shelter identified the dog by a microchip implanted under its skin.

“All the time, [Gisselle] was praying for her to return,” said mom Jacqueline Robles. “When she held the dog, she said, ‘Mommy, now I know God lives.'”

God said that it was the least He could do, given that the Robles were out worshipping Him when their home was invaded, ransacked and looted by crack addicts. “I would have returned the cat, too, but I thought it would make a good meal for some of the Asian Tsunami survivors,” He added. “Plus, it went brain-dead after I smashed its skull against the dog’s back.” God promised to give back the DVD player and Nintendo game once the Gaede twins grow bored with them.

Comments

38 Responses to “God Proves Existence to Little Girl by Only Partially Destroying her Life”

  1. Mookie
    October 26th, 2005 @ 4:53 am

    Hm, it could be that a supernatural entity interfered with the events unfolding in the world to resurrect a dog for a small girl, just to answer her prayer. Or it could be that the dog was not dead, and by more conventional methods came to be in an animal shelter. Occam’s Razor anyone? It is not that hard to imagine a kind person finding the dog on the street and bringing it to the shelter.

  2. Kate B.
    October 26th, 2005 @ 7:53 am

    I hardly think that the absence of a cat, a dog, a dvd player, and a Nintendo counts as having one’s life partially destroyed. Nor does having your home burglarized while you’re out. And while it may be fun to point out how much more logical you are than a kid, it doesn’t exactly build up your resume. The link to the actual article isn’t working; maybe you’re claiming to be more logical than the parents, too, and I just can’t see the original to compare. Still, a cheap shot is a cheap shot.

  3. Dada Saves
    October 26th, 2005 @ 8:15 am

    I think I’m with Kate on this one. I can agree with RA in principle, but some things are better left unsaid. Like the gratuitous, grisly details about the cat.

  4. sternwallow
    October 26th, 2005 @ 8:43 am

    RA showed admirable restraint in not describing the way the cat’s blood congealed on its whiskers shortly before the brain died. Unreported to spare sensitive readers was the particular kind of hammer the dog’s assailant used to smash its vertebrae. He forbore to report the prolonged and willful maltreatment of the DVD player, forced to repeatedly play with scratched and pornographic DVDs. Surely God’s benevolence in returning the dog overshadows the remaining bits of discomfort the little girl might feel.

    Do not seek the original manuscripts, they are lost to history. Thankfully, they were faithfully reproduced in RA’s description so our total lack of access to them is irrelevant. In fact, I’m told by an authority in these matters, that RA made several very careful generations of photocopies of the original manuscripts, many of which were also lost. We are infinitely fortunate to be able to talk to RA since he died last week, but returned instantaneously by a miracle. (I didn’t even know he was sick, ’cause he wasn’t)

    You evidently don’t understand the sense of violation felt when your home is invaded. That it was also ransacked and valued items stolen only adds greatly to the family’s distress. It does disrupt lives and destroys a significant part of them as does any major loss of innocence.

  5. Kate B.
    October 26th, 2005 @ 9:00 am

    “You evidently don’t understand the sense of violation felt when your home is invaded. That it was also ransacked and valued items stolen only adds greatly to the family’s distress. It does disrupt lives and destroys a significant part of them as does any major loss of innocence.”

    Actually, been there, done that. When I was fourteen. You would’ve been on surer footing to accuse me of not understanding how hard it is to lose a pet. Look, if you don’t care that cheap shots don’t do ANYTHING to strengthen his position, so be it. If you don’t care that a kid isn’t a worthy opponent, great. Have fun. I’m of the opinion–because he usually does it–that RA can do better.

  6. hermesten
    October 26th, 2005 @ 9:38 am

    I don’t suppose Kate would have the parents tell the girl, no honey, God had nothing to do with your dog being taken or returned. What we have here is religion in the raw: a comforting fiction for little children. Santa’s children eventually put away childish things, but God’s children never have to grow up.

  7. Kate B.
    October 26th, 2005 @ 9:48 am

    Loved the way you alluded to St. Paul, hermesten. Or would that be Santa (San? Santo?) Paulo? Brilliant!

    The parent’s reaction to the little girl’s prayers aren’t mentioned in what RZ posted–which is why I tried to check the original, to see if they were quoted one way or another there.

    Being as the believer in question IS A KID–whose exact age isn’t stated–then criticizing religion as being comforting to kids is a little odd, don’t you think? We have nothing to go on to tell us if the parents are being childish.

    All I’m saying is, proving that you’re smarter than a kid isn’t a mjor victory. Rally behind it, if it’s what you’ve got. Otherwise, why are you bothering?

  8. Viole
    October 26th, 2005 @ 10:19 am
  9. hermesten
    October 26th, 2005 @ 10:29 am

    “All I’m saying is, proving that you’re smarter than a kid isn’t a mjor victory.”

    I don’t know whether you don’t get, or don’t want to get it, but RA’s post has absolutely nothing to do with proving anyone “smarter than a kid.”

    “Loved the way you alluded to St. Paul, hermesten. Or would that be Santa (San? Santo?) Paulo? Brilliant!”

    This makes me think your confusion is willful.

    “Being as the believer in question IS A KID–whose exact age isn’t stated..”

    So does this statement, since the second paragraph right here on RA’s website says: “a beagle stolen from eleven year old Gisselle Robles .” Now, you can’t read the article without registering for the NY Post, and I simply don’t care enough to register. However, the part of the article shown says: “Eleven-year-old Gisselle and 8-year-old brother Kevin never lost faith their beloved pet would be found.” so it would appear that RA has correctly stated the girl’s age (and you must not have tried very hard to check the orginal –yes, the link is screwed up, but all you have to do is look at the URL to see that this is easily corrected by deleting RA’s URL).

    Based on this information I will assume that the girl in question is 11 years old now, and therefore 9 when the dog was stolen. So she’d have to be one incredibly unsophisticated little girl not to be able to handle a less comforting view of the almighty.

    But once again, who’s “smarter” has absolutely nothing to do with anything. But I think you knew that already.

  10. Kate B.
    October 26th, 2005 @ 11:00 am

    I’m sorry I missed that sentence of RA’s about the girl’s age. My mistake.

    “But once again, who’s “smarter” has absolutely nothing to do with anything. But I think you knew that already.”

    Then what’s the point of mocking the kid’s belief? Just bullying a kid? Bravo, what a worthy pursuit.

    “This makes me think your confusion is willful.”

    You’ve never heard the quote from St. Paul about “When I was a child I thoughth as a child and spake as a child, but when I became a man I put aside childish things.” I thought you were deliberately referncing it with “Santa’s children eventually put away childish things.”

    Look, maybe I’m overreacting. I just don’t see the point in making fun of a kid. Apparently, I’m the only one who thinks it’s petty. Oh well.

  11. jahrta
    October 26th, 2005 @ 11:20 am

    Kate

    Most evangelical christians do everything within their power to ensure that their level of rational thinking never exceeds that of a small dull child. Therefore, our chosen strategy does not differ when dealing with them because they’re just fundies in little bodies. The only punches we pull when dealing with children is that we don’t verbally attack them to their faces and we don’t relish in proving that “we’re smarter” as it’s a forgone conclusion. Atheists don’t antagonize young children – we leave that up to jeebus’s fan club

  12. AK
    October 26th, 2005 @ 12:15 pm

    For some reason that Gaede link doesnt work for me. Anyone else have this problem?

  13. Jim
    October 26th, 2005 @ 12:33 pm

    Kate:

    We’re not making fun of a child, by the way; do try and up your reading comprehension.

    We’re openly lamenting adults that actively convince children to believe in a religion that manipulates the emotions of a small child to make her believe that a non-existent entity listened to her prayers and brought back her crippled animal.

  14. Jesse
    October 26th, 2005 @ 1:07 pm

    The point of the article is not to “pick on” the child, or to express any negative emotion towards the child whatsoever. If anything, the emotion we’re feeling towards her is pity, because due to the christian environment she was brought up in, she’s been almost programmed to see any small good thing happening as “A blessing from god”. Get down on your hands and knees and praise the lord you brat, he just gave you half your dog back! We’re striking out against the establishment that incurs those kind of emotions in children who don’t yet have the willpower to question their validity.

  15. tracy
    October 26th, 2005 @ 3:02 pm

    Typical. Scientific advances lead to the invention of the microchip, but this God character gets all the glory.

  16. Percy
    October 26th, 2005 @ 4:46 pm

    jaharta,

    “Most evangelical christians do everything within their power to ensure that their level of rational thinking never exceeds that of a small dull child.”

    Pardon me, but I think that’s bullcrap. What sources, facts, statistics, etc., are you basing this comment on? How many Christians have you conversed with (out of the millions of evangelical Christians that exist in this country)?
    ————————————————————————-
    Jesse,

    “…she was brought up in, she’s been almost programmed to see any small good thing happening as “A blessing from god”. Get down on your hands and knees and praise the lord you brat, he just gave you half your dog back!”

    And you might also say that a child brought up in an atheistic family is programmed to believe that God doesn’t exist. A child is brought up according to the worldview of their parents – that’s pretty much a given. If you want to say that Christian parents shouldn’t try to imprint Christianity on their children, would you be so hypocritical as to not advocate the same in the case of atheistic parents?

    I think your analysis of the situation is flawed: if God created everything, then everything is his. If he is omnibenevolent and omniscient, then who are we to question his actions? Frankly, in hindsight I regard every instant I’ve lived so far as a gift from God.

  17. kmisho
    October 26th, 2005 @ 4:52 pm

    This is one of the things that amazes me about ‘blessed’ thinking. If god really cared, he could have intervened so that the robbery never happened in the first place. God is always a day late and a dollar short and has a pretty pathetic track record for a supreme being. I’m glad I didn’t vote for him.

  18. hermesten
    October 26th, 2005 @ 5:25 pm

    “And you might also say that a child brought up in an atheistic family is programmed to believe that God doesn’t exist. ”

    You might say that, and then again, you might be wrong. In the first place, I don’t even know what “an atheistic family” is. There is no philosophy underpinning atheism, so beyond not believing in God, there is nothing to “program.” Religion has it’s own comprehensive dogma and fairy tales, so there is lots to program.

    My children were brought up reading the Bible and learning about Christianity and other religions. I even took them to church now and then, though I admit, it was a Unitarian church. I did raise them to be skeptical –of everything, not just religion. They were homeschooled, so all their friends were VERY religious. I let them find their own way, and they are distinctly unimpressed with religion and religious people.

    The oldest gave me the courage to decide for atheism, and the youngest is agnostic. They have been free to make their own decisions about religion from a very young age. My emphasis has always been on thinking for oneself, not dogma of any kind. A child who has been allowed to think for himself has a hard time reconciling religious nonsense with rational thought.

  19. Oz
    October 26th, 2005 @ 5:29 pm

    Seriously, folks, if a view is stupid then it’s stupid no matter who holds it. I think we can pull back, look at the big picture here and see a common theme of mocking the belief in god, not the mocking of children.

  20. Percy
    October 26th, 2005 @ 5:51 pm

    kmisho,

    “If god really cared, he could have intervened so that the robbery never happened in the first place.”

    You’re drawing a false dilemna. Perhaps you should refer back to the part where I talked about omnibenevolence and omniscience. You also seem to be forgetting about free will.
    ———————————————————————————-
    hermesten,

    “A child who has been allowed to think for himself has a hard time reconciling religious nonsense with rational thought.”

    Am I to take it then that you believe that no Christian child has ever been allowed to think for themselves? And what of the children raised in atheistic homes that have become Christians? I think you’re making hasty generalizations.

    Also, while I do find it admirable that you let your children find their own way, I do hope that you realize that your own worldview has quite probably still influenced them on some level.

    “There is no philosophy underpinning atheism, so beyond not believing in God, there is nothing to “program.””

    Notice, therefore, that I said “to not believe in God”. I would, however, argue that depending on the atheist, other philosophical beliefs may be “programmed”. And there are many perceptions about things which originate from a belief that God doesn’t exist. As far as fairytales, well, atheism has a fair share of those too (depending on what you altogether believe).

  21. hermesten
    October 26th, 2005 @ 6:50 pm

    “Am I to take it then that you believe that no Christian child has ever been allowed to think for themselves? ”

    That’s tricky, moving back and forth between the general and the particular like that.

    “I think you’re making hasty generalizations.”

    I think you’re playing fast and loose with the English language. What “generalizations” have I made? In fact, I made none whatsoever, especially about Christians. I didn’t even specifically discuss Christianity. I spoke, almost solely, about my own kids. And here you are imputing multiple and “hasty” generalizations.

    I’ll make a generalization now though. I can only speak to my own experience. I have met a lot of Christians, particularly in the homeschooling movement, and I’ve not met a single “Christian” who nurtured their children to think for themselves. Not one (well, if you count Catholics and Unitarians, OK, then I’ve met a couple).

    In fact, I have found quite the opposite to be true. Most of them strictly regulate what their children are allowed to see, read, and do. Anything that raises questions about their faith, or suggests alternative ways of living, or thinking, they simply prohibit. Of course, this may be appropriate for young children, but it isn’t for 16, 17, and 18 year olds. And I’m not talking about something like pornography either: my kids have had 17 and 18 year old friends whose Christian parents won’t allow them to watch ANY R-rated movie, or read certain books. This is absurd. But they don’t allow anything controversial or challenging, period.

  22. LJK
    October 26th, 2005 @ 8:21 pm

    Did anyone else actually follow the second link? Damn.

  23. Jim
    October 27th, 2005 @ 11:07 am

    Percy:

    Since you seem so convinced that atheism is based on fairytales, maybe you’ll have the intellectual wherewithal to actually point them out?

  24. Nick the Dick
    October 27th, 2005 @ 1:01 pm

    Percy,

    There lies your mistake! Christian parents “imprint” Christianity on their children.
    They bring them to church and try to make them believe in Christianity.

    Atheists make free thinkers. Atheists like myself don’t indoctrinate children with any religion. Atheists inform children with the tools for rational, questioning and logical thought, so the children can latter in life, when they are mature enough make their own decisions regarding “belief”.

    Since everything is a gift from god according to you, maybe god will give you the gift of cancer.

  25. kmisho
    October 27th, 2005 @ 3:25 pm

    Percy,
    If god didn’t care enough to intervene beforehand then why would he care afterward? The problem with miraculous intervention is that it has to apply to everything or nothing. Otherwise god must be seen as whimsical and not in control of things in discrenible way, there being no discernible criteria to determine when a blessing is appropriate or not.

    What about free will…? It seems to me that the existence of freewill implies that god can NEVER intervene because EVERY such intervention is a violation of free will. Or maybe we don’t have freewill…in which case every motion of every atom is a blessing from god.

    Never mind the fact that omniscience and freewill are mutually exclusive. You can’t have both at the same time.

  26. Percy
    October 28th, 2005 @ 4:51 pm

    kmisho,

    “If god didn’t care enough to intervene beforehand then why would he care afterward?”
    Again, you’re implying that by not intervening he didn’t care. That’s a tremendous assumption. If I don’t intervene on my son’s behalf when, for the umpteenth time, he leaves his homework at home, does that mean I don’t care for him? No, it means I want him to gain something, and I believe he can gain more by me letting him face that suffering than from me bailing him out.

    “The problem with miraculous intervention is that it has to apply to everything or nothing.”
    What *is* miraculous intervention? How do you recognize it? If you can’t answer those basic questions, then who are you to say when it is or isn’t happening?

    “What about free will…? It seems to me that the existence of freewill implies that god can NEVER intervene because EVERY such intervention is a violation of free will.”
    Depends on what you mean by ‘intervene’. My personal belief is that God is an orchestrator of events and situations, and that in those events and situations we have choices of how to act. Therefore, one could argue that God has intervened innumerable amounts of times, because many conceivable events and situations never happened, and because we do face many situations that might otherwise not have been present.

    “Never mind the fact that omniscience and freewill are mutually exclusive. You can’t have both at the same time.”
    No they aren’t. Free will depends on choice, and choice depends on time (namely being in the present). The fact that I know what you’re going to choose doesn’t change the fact that you choose. Take this for example: I have a ball, and I have two possibilities – I can throw it up, or I can throw it down. I know that I will throw it up, and I do so. Does the fact that I knew I would throw it up and that I did throw it up mean that I couldn’t have thrown it down, and that I chose not to throw it down?
    ——————————————————————————
    Jim,

    “Since you seem so convinced that atheism is based on fairytales, maybe you’ll have the intellectual wherewithal to actually point them out?”

    I believe atheism *has* fairytales in it; I didn’t say it was based on fairytales. A rejection of God can be a perfectly logical belief. It’s the things that such a belief implies I believe are fairytales. For instance:

    – The origin of the universe (I have yet to hear a logical explanation on this from an atheist)
    – The origin of life
    – The origin of moral objectivity
    – The origin of objective truth, or man’s search for it
    – The origin of self-sacrificial behaviors (not necessarily sacrificing your life; sacrificing elements of your life)
    – The origin of emotions, especially love and sympathy
    – The origin of human consciousness (particularly in terms of natural selection)
    – Irreducible complexity
    – The origin of religion, and the belief in God
    – Concepts of loyalty, honor, and responsibility
    – The “designers” of the universe

    and many others. I call these fairytales 1) because all explanations of them are unproven, and 2) because I find many of the explanations used to address them to be illogical and somewhat whimsical, and based on unprovable assumptions. And also because I’m being somewhat critical ;)

  27. Percy
    October 28th, 2005 @ 4:52 pm

    hermesten,

    “I think you’re playing fast and loose with the English language. What “generalizations” have I made? In fact, I made none whatsoever, especially about Christians.”

    Well, there was “A child who has been allowed to think for himself has a hard time reconciling religious nonsense with rational thought.”Since you didn’t qualify it by saying “My children…”, I took it for a generalization. And then there was “What we have here is religion in the raw: a comforting fiction for little children.” That’s a generalization because, again, you didn’t qualify it with any particular religion.

    “Most of them strictly regulate what their children are allowed to see, read, and do.”

    I have noticed this also. I think there is a tendency, when you believe you have found the right path, to try and force someone to see that path and follow it, particularly when you feel responsible for that person. I have seen different scenarios also (along the lines of how you described you’re raised your children), so I wouldn’t really say that what you’ve described is the rule (I’m not saying that you did).
    ————————————————————————————————————-
    Nick the Dick,

    “Atheists make free thinkers. Atheists like myself don’t indoctrinate children with any religion. Atheists inform children with the tools for rational, questioning and logical thought, so the children can latter in life, when they are mature enough make their own decisions regarding “belief”.”

    You would be indoctrinating them with a worldview. An atheist is someone who doesn’t believe in a god. Hence, if they teach their children not to believe in God, they are indoctrinating them to their belief. What you have described in the last sentence is actually what I think many parents do (or should do). It’s not limited to those who outright reject religion.

    “Since everything is a gift from god according to you, maybe god will give you the gift of cancer.”

    Lol, perhaps. We’ll just have to see.

  28. kmisho
    October 28th, 2005 @ 6:01 pm

    An interesting challenge…

    – The origin of the universe (I have yet to hear a logical explanation on this from an atheist)
    **
    We do not know that the universe even had an origin. Invoking god as creator does not solve the problem because infinites still exist. Either way atheists or theists can invoke infinity and avoid the issue of origin altogether. This is one thing that most atheists and theists should agree on.

    – The origin of life
    **
    You may find this explanation a bit oddball, but it is both rational and empirical. There really is no difference between living and non-living things. The distinction relies on an excluded middle, ignoring that there are in fact in-between sort-of-alive entities. The fact that there is a gradation between life and non-life indicates that ultimately the distinction is a false one.

    – The origin of moral objectivity
    **
    The wording of this is confusing. Depending on what you mean by ‘objectivity,’ morals can be seen as objective and subjective at the same time. The problem here is a semantic one and I won’t go into it more right now.

    – The origin of objective truth, or man’s search for it
    **
    As far as I’m concerned it is always innacuarate to invoke truth outside the realm of mathematics. All other supposed truths are subject to interpretation, error and perception.
    **
    The second part about man’s search is more a psychological question. I don’t even see why this is included a list like this.

    – The origin of self-sacrificial behaviors (not necessarily sacrificing your life; sacrificing elements of your life)
    **
    Evolution handles this readily, and much has been uncovered in the last decade. Put simply, evolution operates on the species level more than on the individual level. Clearly sacrifice of the individual can be a survival benefit when there is a threat to the species. This would include dying while rescuing your child (for example) since this is an inter-generational act that preserves the genetic line.

    – The origin of emotions, especially love and sympathy
    – The origin of human consciousness (particularly in terms of natural selection)
    – Concepts of loyalty, honor, and responsibility
    **
    These can be handled at once. Sorry, but we now know that humans are not very special compared with other animals. We are animals you know. We’re still apes even… Would you rather recast the question as – the origin of emotions and consciousness in primates and marine mammals – ? The funny part about recasting the question to make it a real question is that evolution can instantly be invoked to answer. The first question here is why humans and dolphins have emotions and a sense of self. The answer…we’re related, closely, and these things have a real function in our similar familiar herding structures.

    – Irreducible complexity
    **What about it? Behe anwers himself pretty well in coming up with gradual ways to get to a thing that is NOW irreducible. It need not always have been irreducible. Second, IC is an indicator of bad design. Clearly having a backup would be preferred, or having a situation where partial breakage means partial function remains (such as with nearsightedness). Why would you want to appeal to bad design to defend a creator?

    – The origin of religion, and the belief in God
    **
    I think we know why religion evolved (really a form of primitive science: an attempt to explain the unknown and thereby, maybe, control it). As for WHEN this happened, no one knows.

    – The “designers” of the universe
    I understand this to be some kind of appeal to the weak anthropic principle. Unfortunately you cannot appeal to a creator using BOTH Irreducible Complexity and fine tuning. They are opposites. IC is a form of anti-fine tuning argument, that no amount of fine tuning could lead to IC. If you could argue both, then any configuration of any universe whatsoever is automatically evidence for a creator. I hope you can see the monumental problem with this! You may want to rethink your position on this before arguing about ‘creation.’

    Last, I have in my hands a deck of 1000 different cards. Pick any 10 cards. What are the odds of getting THOSE 10 cards? The odds are staggering! Obviously someone pre-arranged the cards so you would pick those 10 incredibly unlikely cards. The problem is that no matter which 10 cards you pick, all 10-card hands are equally staggeringly unlikely and the deck could just have been randomly shuffled. It is not logical to infer a designer just because you got some kind of result, no matter how unlikely, because we could do the same trick again with a billion different cards, or a trillion, however many it takes to simulate a universe.

  29. ken
    October 30th, 2005 @ 10:01 pm

    Amigo, you are one funny motherfucker. Thank you from the bottom of my entrails..

  30. Joanne
    November 1st, 2005 @ 2:39 pm

    “My personal belief is that God is an orchestrator of events and situations, and that in those events and situations we have choices of how to act. Therefore, one could argue that God has intervened innumerable amounts of times, because many conceivable events and situations never happened, and because we do face many situations that might otherwise not have been present.”

    I want to present a scenario and use logic to come to some conclusions. Let me know what you think using logic, please.

    A five year old child has been abducted. He/she is currently being raped. He/she will soon be brutally murdered. God is watching.
    A) God can intervene but chooses not to because he respects the rapist’s free will.
    B) God cannot intervene therefore God is not all powerful (omnipotent).

    If A) – God cannot be loving, caring and merciful because he is allowing suffering and harm on an innocent, helpless child, which he could easily prevent.
    If B) – God lacks the power to stop a rape and murder, so we can conclude that God lacks the power to do anything, and therefore further conclude that God does not actually exist.

    So, which is it? A or B.

  31. Percy
    November 1st, 2005 @ 4:37 pm

    kmisho,

    Let me preface this by apologizing. In rereading my post, I didn’t word it the way it should have been. The points (origin of life, etc.) that I brought up should have been called “fairytale lightning rods”; the things in themselves are not fairytales, it’s the *explanations* of them that tend to fall into that category.

    It is apparent that you didn’t quite understand the nature of my post (no doubt because of the wording). It was not a challenge, it was an observation.

    “We do not know that the universe even had an origin.”

    Very few astronomers follow the stasis theory anymore, and for good reason. There is very little evidence for it, and *very* convincing evidence that the universe did have a beginning.
    http://map.gsfc.nasa.gov/m_uni.html

    “There really is no difference between living and non-living things.”

    I’m a bit confused why you didn’t even deal with the issue at hand (the origin of life), but rather tried to combat the idea that life actually exists. Your contention is scientifically flawed – either something *does* meet the biological definition of life, or it *doesn’t*. If it does not meet the criteria, it is not alive. There is no middleground where something is three-quarters alive – it is either living or nonliving.

    “As far as I’m concerned it is always innacuarate to invoke truth outside the realm of mathematics. All other supposed truths are subject to interpretation, error and perception.”

    I would have to say that that’s false. Objective truth is something that exists outside someone’s awareness of it. For instance, a blind man might not comprehend that rainbows exist – does that mean rainbows don’t exist?

    “The second part about man’s search is more a psychological question. I don’t even see why this is included a list like this.”

    Again, this is probably due to my failure in wording properly the nature of the list. It fits because it is not something that can concretely be explained – why do men care about objective truths which really do not benefit them? Why do people search for “truth”?

    “Put simply, evolution operates on the species level more than on the individual level.”

    While this wasn’t really on topic, I’ll reply anyways. I’m willing to ignore the fact that evolution is unproven, but I find that your use of it to be somewhat farfetched. We’re talking about personal choices – you’re telling me those are dictated by change over time? I find that very hard to believe. It’s not a blind, naturalistic process that instructs you to kill yourself to save someone else – it’s you. Obviously there are people who do not sacrifice their life for others, and certainly there are people who do sacrifice themselves; the choice is always ultimately up to the person. Why do we choose to sacrifice ourselves for others, particularly when there is no immediate danger to our species?

    “Clearly sacrifice of the individual can be a survival benefit when there is a threat to the species.”

    If you reread the actual point you’re replying to, it said “not necessarily sacrificing your life; sacrificing elements of your life”. What I mean is, why does a mother willingly wash dishes, when she could be doing so many other things that would be immediately beneficial to her? Why does someone sacrifice something in their life for the benefit of someone else?

    “Sorry, but we now know that humans are not very special compared with other animals.”

    Actually, we really don’t. I’ve never seen a dolphin study humans and type up a report based on its studies – have you? I’ve never seen a dolphin bankrupt itself to send it’s child to college – have you? I’ve never seen a dolphin make a movie, or write a poem. Have you? I’ve never seen dolphins giving up their way of life to go live with and help other, more impoverished dolphins, have you? I’ve never seen a dolphin construct an organized religion – have you? I’ve never seen a dolphin build a car, or other mode of transport – have you? I’ve never seen a dolphin mend another dolphins wounds – have you? And the list goes on…..

    “The first question here is why humans and dolphins have emotions and a sense of self. The answer…we’re related, closely, and these things have a real function in our similar familiar herding structures.”

    You’ve employed evolution to explain (but not prove, as evolution itself is unproven) why we have them, but you still haven’t shown their origin, which was the original fairytale lighting rod. An ice cream cone has a real, observable function in making me feel good – does that explain the origin of ice cream?

    “It need not always have been irreducible.”

    No, but it need always be a benefit to producing more offspring. Gould himself asked what benefit 5% of a wing, or 5% of an eye were (and consequently began to advocate punk eek).

    “Second, IC is an indicator of bad design.”
    No it’s not. You’re assuming that the design should have been better – perhaps it is the way it is for a reason. And anyways, the Bible gives an interesting explanation as to this phenomenon. Furthermore, even *if* it was bad design, it’s still a design. Sometimes I read those cheap $5 science fiction books, and often the writing in them is really awful – does that prove someone with a purpose didn’t write them?

    “I think we know why religion evolved (really a form of primitive science: an attempt to explain the unknown and thereby, maybe, control it). As for WHEN this happened, no one knows.”

    That you can *conceive* of how something came about doesn’t mean that that’s the way it came about. I can picture the cause of crop circles being a bunch of teenage Martians playing pranks, but does that mean that’s what they are? I’m familiar with Freud, Nietzsche, Feuerbach, etc., and their theories about the origin of religion. But you still didn’t give an explanation to the original fairytale lighting rod.

    “I understand this to be some kind of appeal to the weak anthropic principle.”

    Actually, that’s not it at all. If the universe had a beginning, then it had a cause. What was the cause? What *designed* the universe to its present state?

  32. Percy
    November 1st, 2005 @ 4:48 pm

    kmisho,

    “Last, I have in my hands a deck of 1000 different cards. Pick any 10 cards. What are the odds of getting THOSE 10 cards? The odds are staggering! Obviously someone pre-arranged the cards so you would pick those 10 incredibly unlikely cards. The problem is that no matter which 10 cards you pick, all 10-card hands are equally staggeringly unlikely and the deck could just have been randomly shuffled. It is not logical to infer a designer just because you got some kind of result, no matter how unlikely, because we could do the same trick again with a billion different cards, or a trillion, however many it takes to simulate a universe.”

    You’re underestimating the problem. There are constants necessary for the universe to exist. Without them exactly the way they are (individually and in relation to each other), the universe wouldn’t exist. We don’t know what else would exist, but likely nothing would exist, or nothing that we could define. Therefore, you have a staggering amount (more than you or I could ever hope to count to) of cases where our universe would not exist, and one case of our universe existing. What are the chances of pulling our universe out of all the many cases of the universe not existing? Very, very, very, very, very, very, very *8 months later* very, very, very small. So small as to be dismissable in probability.

    The problem isn’t that you couldn’t pull the hand out of the cards. The problem is the chance you have of pulling that exact set of cards out of the deck (and the deck of cards would be astronomically huge) would be ridiculously small. Furthermore, you’ve still got the problem of something coming from nothing.

  33. jahrta
    November 2nd, 2005 @ 10:20 am

    Percy

    If the universe hadn’t coalesced and developed exactly as we know it today, we wouldn’t be here to question how it could possibly have happened in the first place. It’s a self-supporting dilemma. The simple truth is that no one really knows how many times life and/or the universe “tried” to happen and failed before it ultimately took root. As far as the origin of life is concerned, single-celled organisms evolved over billions of years to become multi-celled organisms which in turn grew more and more complex until devices such as organs and other supporting structures developed out of necessity to give these small aquatic creatures form, and the ability to attain sustenance more effectively, among other things. That form was predicated purely on function and in whatever gave those creatures an “edge” in the game of survival. Obviously, the animals that can survive the best are most often those who are able to successfully pass on their genetic material to the next generation. Many theists (not necessarily yourself) believe that evolution is somehow supposed to produce “perfect” beings, but scientists view this as the product of a gross misunderstanding of the concept of evolution, and a strawman created by the evangelical fundamentalists who are trying to disprove evolution.

    We know that evolution happened as I have described because we have a pretty good fossil record of creatures of all stripes developing over the course of many millions of years.

    I hope that clears up the origin of life issue a bit.

    If your question instead is to wonder how those first single-celled organisms developed, i’m not entirely sure, but it has been shown that meteorites that fall through our atmosphere can carry payloads of bacterium deep within the layers of rock. For all we know, all life on earth could have gotten its start in this manner. Or maybe not.

    I suppose it makes more sense that an invisible, all-powerful deity crafted this planet just to make you happy.

  34. Percy
    November 2nd, 2005 @ 5:19 pm

    “If the universe hadn’t coalesced and developed exactly as we know it today, we wouldn’t be here to question how it could possibly have happened in the first place. It’s a self-supporting dilemma. The simple truth is that no one really knows how many times life and/or the universe “tried” to happen and failed before it ultimately took root.”

    Actually, we have no idea if the universe ever “tried” to happen and failed. All we know is that the universe we have at present does exist. To suppose that other universes exist or that this universe almost existed multiple times is to make unprovable assumptions.

    “As far as the origin of life is concerned, single-celled organisms evolved over billions of years to become multi-celled organisms which in turn grew more and more complex until devices such as organs and other supporting structures developed out of necessity to give these small aquatic creatures form, and the ability to attain sustenance more effectively, among other things. That form was predicated purely on function and in whatever gave those creatures an “edge” in the game of survival. Obviously, the animals that can survive the best are most often those who are able to successfully pass on their genetic material to the next generation. Many theists (not necessarily yourself) believe that evolution is somehow supposed to produce “perfect” beings, but scientists view this as the product of a gross misunderstanding of the concept of evolution, and a strawman created by the evangelical fundamentalists who are trying to disprove evolution.”

    I am familiar with the Darwinian theory of evolution, but that is not what we were discussing. The theory of evolution is an explanation for the origin of life; the origin of life was what I listed as a “fairytale lighting rod”. So I’m unsure as to what you point of your post was – were you trying to argue that the origin of life is not a fairytale lightning rod? Or were you trying to argue that I shouldn’t consider evolution a fairytale?

    And yes, it does make more sense that an intelligent, omnipotent engineer created the universe, rather than a purposeless, uncaused event which just happened to pick the exact right hand of properties and ratios out of the incomprehensible number of such things available.

  35. jahrta
    November 4th, 2005 @ 10:10 am

    Percy

    “To suppose that other universes exist or that this universe almost existed multiple times is to make unprovable assumptions. ”

    This is hilarious, coming from a theist. Shall we go on about who is making unprovable assumptions?

    This need for the universe to make “sense” to you is arbitrary, and is born of the unsubstantiated primitive concept that we’re so special that surely some all-powerful entity crafted all that we see and know just so we could come into being and have a playground all to ourselves.

    Did it ever occur to you that the blanket you wrap so tightly around yourself in order to shield you from the concept of a cold and uncaring (godless) universe was hand-stitched by primitive tribesmen thousands of years ago who had no notion of how to explain the world around them? They wanted to believe that there was someone out there to watch over them so badly that anything to the contrary seemed preposterous and counter-intuitive. People have been stoned to death for suggesting such things. Back then, no evidence was required because everything around them was steeped in mystery. Without any developed sciences to speak of, superstition ran roughshod over the world (and it still does today, but not due to a lack of science/reasoning – you’ve heard the expression “you can lead a horse to water,” correct?).

    It doesn’t necessarily follow that there is a god or supreme creator of the universe just because the opposite position frustrates you, and perhaps the same could be applied to me, but the difference between us is that the burden of proof in this instance is upon you. You’re the one who clings to the belief in a supremely powerful sky deity who controls every aspect of the universe.

    As far as evolution and the origin of life is concerned, maybe you could shed some light on your position by spelling out for us exactly what it is you think may have happened.

  36. jahrta
    November 4th, 2005 @ 10:13 am

    I forgot to add this:

    As David Lopan said to Kurt Russel’s character of Jack Burton in John Carpenter’s 80’s classic “Big Trouble in Little China,”:

    “You are not here to ‘get it,’ Mr. Burton”

  37. Percy
    November 13th, 2005 @ 1:24 am

    Joanne,

    Your scenario is flawed because it presents a false dilemma. First, you’re narrowing God’s reasons for not acting into only two choices, when to logically do so you would have to be omniscient (I’m assuming you’re not – if I’m wrong, please just speak up). Second, you’re projecting a judgment based on one event in time, or a short sequence of events, without considering the entire timeline of human existence. Of course, in order to fully consider the entire timeline of human existence, you’d have to be omniscient (funny how this whole things seems to revolve around you pretending to be omniscient…).

    “A five year old child has been abducted. He/she is currently being raped. He/she will soon be brutally murdered. God is watching.
    A) God can intervene but chooses not to because he respects the rapist’s free will.
    B) God cannot intervene therefore God is not all powerful (omnipotent).”

    I find the choices you present to be naive and simplistic. Here’s some more, more probable options:

    C) God (who already knows everything that will happen) has orchestrated things so that this experience is used in the salvation of both the abductor (who, many years later, confesses his sins to God and receives redemption) and the child (who, after dying, ascends to heaven). Thus, in the end, his will is fulfilled *and* free will is maintained. This is commonly referred to as Universalism.

    D) God’s will being to save humanity by giving people chances to choose him, and the purpose of this life being to separate those who will follow God from those who will not, God allows this to happen, because by it the abductor makes a choice which dictates the path he will follow (and the child, who is not old enough to make the choice, goes to heaven). Thus, God’s will is fulfilled, and free will is maintained. This is commonly called Arminianism.

    Given a little time, I’m sure we could add more to the list. In the meantime, I tend to follow C).

  38. Percy
    November 13th, 2005 @ 1:31 am

    jahrta,

    “This is hilarious, coming from a theist. Shall we go on about who is making unprovable assumptions?”

    Actually, I think it’s more hilarious when an atheist makes unprovable assumptions, because atheists typically hold to a naturalistic philosophy. A theist is a supernaturalist, and therefore assumes that not everything can be proven, especially with materialistic means. If we got into debating who’s making unprovable assumptions, it would become apparent that we are making unprovable assumptions on the same subjects, but our assumptions are diametrically opposed.

    We were talking about the origin of the universe, a decidedly scientific discussion which I thought was revolving around evidence and hypotheses that could eventually be proven. Your comment that that the universe could have taken root multiple times and failed struck me as inharmonious with the nature of discussion, given that true a scientific theory is not supposed to make unprovable (and unfalsifiable) assumptions. Thus, you have made assumptions which are not only unproven, but unscientific, and have absolutely no evidence for them. If your comments were actually meant to be fantastical, then I’m sorry that I misunderstood you.

    “This need for the universe to make “sense” to you is arbitrary, and is born of the unsubstantiated primitive concept that we’re so special that surely some all-powerful entity crafted all that we see and know just so we could come into being and have a playground all to ourselves.”

    Well that’s a cute theory :) Can you prove it? I’m guessing not. The concept you’re referring to, being amazed at the world, is not arbitrary. The world (and the universe furthermore) is an amazing thing. So amazing that you could spend your entire life researching it and never come close to learning all there is to know about it. Furthermore, people from every worldview find it amazing, even atheists and agnostics. Darwin, Dawkins, Gould, Feynmann, Kant, etc., speak of the natural world in awe, and embellish scientific descriptions with humanistic and divine attributes.

    “Did it ever occur to you that the blanket you wrap so tightly around yourself in order to shield you from the concept of a cold and uncaring (godless) universe was hand-stitched by primitive tribesmen thousands of years ago who had no notion of how to explain the world around them?”

    Again, a quaint theory. But can you prove it, or is it just more wishful conjecture? Did you ever actually read my posts before commenting them? Because I’m having trouble finding what on earth your comments have to do with the discussion. We were talking about fairytales, and I listed fairytale lighting rods – areas of mystery that provoke fairytale explanations. So far you have only provided me with examples of said fairytales (ie, evolution, the universe crashing multiple times and rebooting, scared little cavemen inventing religion). I’m quite grateful for this selfless act, but I must ask: what exactly is it you were trying to do?

    “Without any developed sciences to speak of, superstition ran roughshod over the world (and it still does today, but not due to a lack of science/reasoning – you’ve heard the expression “you can lead a horse to water,” correct?).”

    Actually, that’s false. Science has been developing throughout mankind’s history. Just pick up a copy of Asimov’s “Chronology of Science & Discovery”. You’re also making the common yet false assumption that science and religion are somehow opposed. They are not. Science has no authority but in the naturalistic realm; matters of the supernatural are addressed by philosophy. Furthermore, science flourished in the West, where monotheistic religion (predominantly Christianity) was centered. I welcome science, because I believe it teaches me more about the wondrous world God created.

    “It doesn’t necessarily follow that there is a god or supreme creator of the universe just because the opposite position frustrates you, and perhaps the same could be applied to me, but the difference between us is that the burden of proof in this instance is upon you. You’re the one who clings to the belief in a supremely powerful sky deity who controls every aspect of the universe.”

    Not sure where this comment came from (pretty much the general feeling I’ve been getting when reading your posts). The opposite position doesn’t frustrate me. I just find that it has very meager offerings. And the burden of proof is not on me, because in order for it to be on me I must 1) hold a position which was not originally held (in other words, atheism must be the natural worldview), and 2) I must make more assumptions than you. But 1) cannot be proven; in fact, if we can say anything on the subject, we can say that atheism was EXTREMELY rare until the late 18th century, specifically around the French Revolution, where it emerged as a social construct in reaction to the oppression and corruptness of the Christian (specifically Catholic) church. And if you hold a naturalistic philosophy, then you are the one who makes more assumptions.

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