The Raving Theist

Dedicated to Jesus Christ, Now and Forever

More than Matter

July 27, 2006 | 177 Comments

Christian humility is a frequent target of atheist scorn. Contemptible, they say, is the notion of humans as miserable, wretched, sinning creatures trembling in awe of God’s undeserved love. Yet atheists sometimes express, perhaps unintentionally, a form of self-degradation far more pitiable than that devised by any believer. This attitude recently surfaced in a comment to my discussion of the creation and recurrence of the self:

Have you ever considered that this thing you call “I” doesn’t really exist, at least not in the way you seem to think.

Modern neuroscience has shown that everything about our personality is directly connected to the brain. A little more serotonin here and you have a happier person. Enough damage there and a person is no longer able to feel compassion. We know we can control a person’s emotions and personality with drugs. As yet, there is NO evidence that our personalities come from anything other than the physical structure of our brains and the interplay of our synapses with chemical neurotransmitters.

So this “I” may be nothing more than a construct of the brain for the purpose of survival of the entire organism.

How can people think of themselves this way? I despair at those explanations which reduce us to nothing more than slowly-decaying heaps of steaming matter, to the proverbial robots made of meat. Worse yet, we are slaves of some “organism” which somehow has a “purpose.” A purpose not to love or be loved, but merely to survive. For what purpose it wishes to survive is not clear. We do not even know what “it” is. Presumably it is less than a god, less than a man, likely no better than the matter itself.

I sigh at this, but not because my synapses are interplaying with my neurotransmitters. I sigh because I sigh. Certainly I recognize there is a relationship between my consciousness and my brain, that there is perhaps some necessary foundation of matter which must support my every thought. But that I must stand upon a mountaintop to behold the view does not mean that I am the mountain, as lifeless as its rocks and dirt.

The experience of self-consciousness is radically different from whatever its cause or substrate may be. We all know what it is to think and to feel, regardless of our understanding of the underlying mechanisms. Neuroscience will never adequately account for what we are. At best it will complicate the form of the equation expressing the nexus between mind and matter. But in substance that connection will be no better illuminated than it was by Descartes’ pineal gland.

In the end, matter doesn’t matter. As Descartes correctly concluded, the ultimate reality is the self-perceiving self, which must exist even if the rest of the world is some demon-created illusion. Have I ever considered that this thing you call “I” doesn’t really exist? Who, exactly, are you asking? And is it not you who is asking?

Beyond the self, there are and endless variety of truths which do not and could not depend on matter. Is it seriously urged that one plus one equals two only because a synapse fires in a particular direction, that it would be three if it fired otherwise? That all the truths of mathematics and logic would differ with a different combination of serotonin, dopamine, acetylchoine, cortisol and adrenaline? If so, is the “truth” that they would differ an absolute one, somehow independent of the chemical mix? And how can one rely on neuroscience for the answers, where that discipline itself depends upon the certainty of mathematics, logic and the inferences to be drawn therefrom?

Atheists frequently invoke the Euthyphro dilemma to demonstrate that moral truths, if they are truths, must rest on something independent of God’s will if they are anything more than mere whim. And yet with the self and those ideas forming the bedrock of its knowledge, so many are satisfied to leave the answers to the whims of matter and electrochemistry. There is a reluctance to depart from the purely physical realm, perhaps a fear that the concession that the immaterial is not immaterial will open the door to other, less palatable phantoms.

By now many of you may have tired of my seeming hypocrisy, of my evasive, mealy-mouthed, quasi-theistic mystical pandering. But again, who have I upset or irritated? A bubbling cauldron of cranial soup? Maybe it is your synapses that have misfired, not mine. Perhaps a little more serotonin will help you see it my way, or at least make you happy.

For my part, I will continue to believe in you as something more than the sum of your quarks. I have never seen your bodies but I know you by your thoughts. The words transmitted to my computer, seen through a screen darkly, are sufficient evidence of your existence. You will never convince me that you are just sparks emanating from gray matter; I would no more equate you with that than I would equate you with the sparks which transmit your words through my computer’s memory. You may try to convince me otherwise, but your efforts will only further prove my point.

Content yourself with the thought that the conclusion that you are more than matter does not mean that you are much more than that. I recognize that you are limited. And again, I concede that matter may well be essential. The immutable laws of the universe may require that for Truth to be received by humans it must delivered in a Form Incarnate.

Comments

177 Responses to “More than Matter”

  1. Choobus
    July 27th, 2006 @ 3:55 pm

    “By now many of you may have tired of my seeming hypocrisy, of my evasive, mealy-mouthed, quasi-theistic mystical pandering. But again, who have I upset or irritated? A bubbling cauldron of cranial soup? Maybe it is your synapses that have misfired, not mine. Perhaps a little more serotonin will help you see it my way, or at least make you happy.”

    Shouldn’t that be “whom have I upset…..”?

  2. benjamin
    July 27th, 2006 @ 4:00 pm

    I want to believe as you do, RA, and that’s why I’m so skeptical about it.

  3. reconciled
    July 27th, 2006 @ 4:01 pm

    I am really starting to like your new way of thinking. Your pondering is refreshing to see.

    Have you ever sat and thought…”who am I”. I do it all the time. I know I am not you and I am not the chair I sit in, but who is this I that I am?
    ** (choobus I already know “what” YOU think I am).

  4. a different tim
    July 27th, 2006 @ 4:08 pm

    Oh for fuck’s sake. “I don’t want to think I’m purely matter so I can’t be, waah waah waah”. And you call materialists pitiable.

    Go read some of Scathachs stuff on the forums, or Ramchandram’s books, or Susan Greenfield, and try to absorb some of the sheer joy, wonder and complexity of the materialist viewpoint. It’s you that despairs at “slowly decaying heaps of steaming matter”, as if the human body is no more complex than a compost heap (already, I might add, a pretty complex thing), not me or any materialist I know.

    Sorry, you made me really pissed off with that one. Go read a biology book and stop whining.

  5. Choobus
    July 27th, 2006 @ 4:08 pm

    Do you reconciled? OR do you think you know what the me of your mindscape might have had in mind when it didn’t say what you thought it wouldn’t anyway?

  6. Lurker
    July 27th, 2006 @ 4:10 pm

    In response to Noah’s comment that RA linked to I had this comment/question.

    “Every thought you have is part of the same process that tells you this “I” exists. If you can’t trust the thought that tells you “I” exists then why trust the thought that tells you it doesn’t exist?

  7. a different tim
    July 27th, 2006 @ 4:11 pm

    Pissed off my bubbling cauldron of cranial soup, I should say.

  8. ocmpoma
    July 27th, 2006 @ 4:14 pm

    Oooooo – the ‘immaterial consciousness’ argument.

    “I sigh because I sigh.” That’s a good one.
    At this point, I’m begging to pity you. Your arguments are childish.

    Consciousness may indeed be more than the some of its parts; something of astounding complexity may indeed emerge from things much simpler; and, indeed, self-awareness may be the only reality we can ever grasp – but our consciousnesses are physical.
    Riddle me this: does this mysterious “I” change if your left index finger was lopped off? Your left arm? Your left brain?

  9. Thorngod
    July 27th, 2006 @ 4:20 pm

    RA, you may dispair unto death, but if matter is the ground of all that is, your wailing will not change a tittle of the truth of it. And so far as science and philosophy have been able to establish, there is no mysterious “spirit” behind the real stuff.

    Reconciled, your consciousness is you, and consciousness IS what it is conscious OF. And it can be nothing else.

  10. Down21
    July 27th, 2006 @ 4:24 pm

    Im disappointed that you think nothing of the work of generations of neuroscientists since descartes time. Somewhat confrontational from somebody attempting to avoid insults ?

    Definitive study of subjective human consciousness is probably beyond scientific investigation. However, we can identify trends, which receptors when activated elicit which response. Which molecules regulate synaptic plasticity , learining and memory? Which genes are involved in these processes. fMRI allows us to watch which brain areas are involved in various cognitive processes. In short we can describe at a molecular level what is “going on” in your head, but we cannot measure how it feels “to be you”.

    What is understood about consciousness is purely physical/biochemical. You make the assertion that “it cant be just physical” but offer no evidence to support the stance. It’s mysticism of the gaps.

    We would all like to believe that we are more than just molecules but unfortunately it’s wishful thinking/human arrogance.

  11. Aaron Kinney
    July 27th, 2006 @ 4:26 pm

    Will you declare a newfound belief in God in your next post?

  12. Thenormalyears
    July 27th, 2006 @ 4:31 pm

    This is why philosophy and science don’t get along sometimes.

  13. Erik
    July 27th, 2006 @ 4:43 pm

    I’m not reluctant to depart from the physical realm for fear of the immaterial; rather, there’s no fucking evidence for it. That in turn means that there are no rules by which you can ever determine what “immaterial” actually is. Your Form Incarnate is quite a bit different from someone else’s; witness thousands of different religious beliefs. How do you decide which is which?

    By reference back to your senses, your logic, your learning. You know — the same way you would decide that the laws of the universe are immutable. Congratulations, and welcome back to reality.

  14. "Q" the Enchanter
    July 27th, 2006 @ 4:44 pm

    Unfortunately, reality isn’t a matter of taste. (Or maybe fortunately–there would be so many different *tastes* to account for…)

    As for the rest of it, I’m going to conclude (and I’m sorry it took me so long) that you’re simply having us all on. That, or an interloper has got hold of the real RA’s passwords!

    (Forgive if this is a repost. I got an error page the last try.)

  15. "Q" the Enchanter
    July 27th, 2006 @ 4:44 pm

    Unfortunately, reality isn’t a matter of taste. (Or maybe fortunately–there would be so many different *tastes* to account for…)

    As for the rest of it, I’m going to conclude (and I’m sorry it took me so long) that you’re simply having us all on. That, or an interloper has got hold of the real RA’s passwords!

    (Forgive if this is a repost. I got an error page the last try.)

  16. "Q" the Enchanter
    July 27th, 2006 @ 4:44 pm

    Unfortunately, reality isn’t a matter of taste. (Or maybe fortunately–there would be so many different *tastes* to account for…)

    As for the rest of it, I’m going to conclude (and I’m sorry it took me so long) that you’re simply having us all on. That, or an interloper has got hold of the real RA’s passwords!

    (Forgive if this is a repost. I got an error page the last try.)

  17. Liz
    July 27th, 2006 @ 5:22 pm

    What is this crap about taking serotonin to see it your way, or to at least make me happy? Does this mean that serotonin will take away my ability to think critically and logically? No thanks.

  18. CycloneRanger
    July 27th, 2006 @ 5:23 pm

    What evidence supports the conclusion that you are more than a computer made of meat? Is this a “spiritual” belief?

    Also, what’s so bad about being a computer made of meat? I do not see any reason to suspect that consciousness is anything more than the patterns of neurons firing in our brains. This does not degrade consciousness in terms of value, or undermine the experience of consciousness. Why do you seem so afraid of this worldview? I do not understand.

  19. MilitantAtheist
    July 27th, 2006 @ 6:03 pm

    This makes it official:

    The Raving Athiest is a theist, a pussy, a hypocrite, and an all-around self-aggrandizing douchebag.

  20. Viole
    July 27th, 2006 @ 6:20 pm

    Dear Raving Atheist,

    You are pathetic.

    With Love,
    Viole K

  21. Choobus
    July 27th, 2006 @ 6:32 pm

    Are you sure you won’t transfer this site to the gay and gay friendly list?

    Actually, the raving gaytheist has a nice ring to it.

    Come on RG, you can’t keep this up much longer, can you?

  22. Los Pepes
    July 27th, 2006 @ 6:54 pm

    RA, I hate to break this to you, but you’re wrong. In this latest post, I see still more evidence of you aligning atheists with cold callousness. I’m overwhelmed by the feeling that you are accusing atheists of being heartless mean people, and I’m seeing small hints that you are starting to buy into the religious fairy-tales of the mentally and emotinally lazy.

    You are citing some magical piece of you that is more than the sum of your parts, and in the process indirectly insulting those who choose not to believe in this nonsense (and have supported your efforts up until this garbage started), because we know the difference between reality and wishful thinking.

    Tenspace, you need to set up a chatroom so that we can start talking about how we’re gonna code…

  23. noah nywno
    July 27th, 2006 @ 7:03 pm

    Since that is my comment quoted in the post, I feel I should respond. But my response will be lengthy, so I will post it in the forums. Anyone who cares, feel free to come along.

  24. Christ D
    July 27th, 2006 @ 7:12 pm

    I remember a friend who discovered Gnosticism and went all gooshy and pink cloudish. At least the increasingly gauzy essays are generating strong responses. I am learning alot from all of the people who have taken the time to respond in depth to TRA’s conversion or stroke or whatever it is.

  25. Mister Swill
    July 27th, 2006 @ 7:16 pm

    noah nywno: “Have you ever considered that this thing you call ‘I’ doesn’t really exist, at least not in the way you seem to think. [Emphasis mine.]

    Raving Atheist: The experience of self-consciousness is radically different from whatever its cause or substrate may be.” [Emphasis mine.]

    I really don’t see why these two positions are contradictory. If you think I’m nuts, consider the following: Imagine a bunch of marbles laid out in a grid pattern on a table. Some of the marbles are white and some of the marbles are red. The marbles are arranged so that the red marbles form the shape of a star. Does the red star exist? Does it exist in the same way the marbles themselves exist?

    noah nywno is basically arguing that human consciousness does not exist in the way the marbles exist. The Raving Atheist is basically arguing that human consciousness exists in the way the red star exists.

    It’s funny. I took a break from reading this site around the time RA decided to stop maligning Christianity. I’ve been catching up a bit on the site lately and, you know something? Not much has changed.

  26. Lily
    July 27th, 2006 @ 7:37 pm

    Los Pepes: You undoubtedly meant well, when you wrote:

    I see still more evidence of you aligning atheists with cold callousness. I’m overwhelmed by the feeling that you are accusing atheists of being heartless mean people…

    Well, let’s see shall we?

    #4 A different Tim: Oh for fuck’s sake. “I don’t want to think I’m purely matter so I can’t be, waah waah waah”. And you call materialists pitiable.

    Yes, yes. I see. I do believe I see. I feel the warmth. The compassion.

    #8 Oc something unpronounceable: Your arguments are childish.

    This has the virtue of being short and to the point. Unfortunately, it is untrue and has no other purpose than to insult.

    #17 Militant Atheist: The Raving Athiest is a theist, a pussy, a hypocrite, and an all-around self-aggrandizing douchebag.

    Brothers and sisters! Can I get an AMEN?? CAN I GET AN AMEN??? What warmth! What kindness and charity! Why, the very idea of calling such a mensch “callous”. It is an outrage!

    Yes, Los Pepes, as we clearly see, it is a vile canard to call atheists callous, heartless and mean. We should all be ashamed. I know I am.

  27. Paul
    July 27th, 2006 @ 7:38 pm

    RA, get over it.

    And, enjoy yourself: it’s later than you think.

  28. anonymous theist
    July 27th, 2006 @ 7:48 pm

    I tried very hard to follow your philosophizing, but I got lost. It reminded me of an acid trip I took in 1971 as a young and stupid hippie wanna-be. But that’s OK. What I learned from that trip is that the truth was not to be found in mental masturbation, either with or without psychedelic drugs. I found the truth with capital T later in my life – and it wasn’t with the hippies but with the Jesus freaks.

  29. SteveG
    July 27th, 2006 @ 7:51 pm

    Go read some of Scathachs stuff on the forums, or Ramchandram’s books, or Susan Greenfield, and try to absorb some of the sheer joy, wonder and complexity of the materialist viewpoint. It’s you that despairs at “slowly decaying heaps of steaming matter”, as if the human body is no more complex than a compost heap (already, I might add, a pretty complex thing), not me or any materialist I know.

    Go read a biology book and stop whining.

    So your answer to a person unsatisfied with looking at diagrams of how things work (neuroscience), but rather is interested in the real thing in action (persons) seems to me to boil down to ‘sit down and shut up.’

    What if looking at diagrams doesn’t give one a sense of joy or wonder? Why must everyone bow to your god of wonder and complexity anymore than they should bow to mine? What a laod of shite.

    Sorry, you made me really pissed off with that one.;-)

  30. Viole
    July 27th, 2006 @ 8:05 pm

    Lily, you heartless bum, how dare you criticize atheists as being heartless and cruel without quoting the elegant simplicity of my post.

  31. Lily
    July 27th, 2006 @ 8:09 pm

    LOL! I did in the original version. But we have been reconciled, so to speak, for such a short time, I didn’t want to return to the status quo ante!

  32. Auguste
    July 27th, 2006 @ 8:12 pm

    Don’t worry, RA, I totally get it. I love Dawn too. And I’ve renounced my belief and/or nonbelief structure for chicks countless times. It’s practically a Man Law.

  33. freddy
    July 27th, 2006 @ 8:28 pm

    Logic according to RA:

    1. If it makes me feel bad, it must be wrong.

    2. If it makes me think of flowers and butterflies and mountaintop views, it must be right.

    3. Science will never figure everything out, so let’s just start filling in the gaps with stuff we want to be true.

    4. Long chemical names make me feel bad about myself.

    5. Quarks make me feel bad about myself.

    6. Anyone who tries to use science or my own hyprocrisy against me will make me feel bad, thus proving my argument that I am an emotional soulful person and not just a hunk of matter.

  34. Nokot
    July 27th, 2006 @ 8:33 pm

    I sigh as well because “Neuroscience will never adequately account for what we are” is a ridiculous statement.

  35. ocmpoma
    July 27th, 2006 @ 8:47 pm

    ‘This has the virtue of being short and to the point. Unfortunately, it is untrue and has no other purpose than to insult.”

    Let’s see… looking back over RA’s post, it still strikes me as being very childish. Also, I don’t see how claiming that the argument is childish is an insult – arguments have feelings, now?

  36. ocmpoma
    July 27th, 2006 @ 8:51 pm

    Furthermore, Lily, I must say that your attempt to use my post to label atheists as heartless and cruel was uncalled for. Of course, I am heartless and cruel – but that doesn’t make RA’s argument any less childish.

  37. Kreme
    July 27th, 2006 @ 9:40 pm

    Well, RA, I must say I find your mysticism interesting, but ultimately short-sighted. Even through my chemical feelings I can see your chemical feelings on this matter are self-antagonistic. I would no more equate you to my fantasy feel-good chemical spin-off, than I expect you to equate me to your fantasy feel-good chemical spin-off. I look forward to the day neuro-science can precisely mapout the human experience of consciousness. Hey, maybe they’ll be able to use such knowledge to reinforce the human mind with more ability, maybe to cure modern mind-related illness, or for who knows what else. The possibilities may be endless, and even just looking forward to such a time gleefully bubbles up cranial soup.

    RA, if your consciousness is more than just your mind, would you confidently be willing to test this by surgically meddling with areas of your brain to test it? I’m not. Even applying something as minor as a brain affecting chemical drug fiddles with consciousness in all form of messed up strange ways. Physically altering it, alters patterns that follow, thus alters your complete person altogether. Face it man, there’s no pixies behind the blooming of a beautiful flower. And if we have feelings only because through them we’re able to appreciate life, motivating us to carry forth, and reproduce, then so what? It’s better to know, and appreciate, rather than to delude yourself.

  38. trudy
    July 27th, 2006 @ 9:54 pm

    Excuse me, but I think that I recognize a bleaker version of a religious dogma called predestination.

    I can’t see that it makes much difference which agency is supposedly at work, your unknown physical principles, or an inaccessible God. It’s a matter of blind faith either way.

    I think that free will as an inherent attribute of the creative human spirit is much closer to actual experience.

    BTW, “seen through a screen darkly,” love the reference :-)

    Trudy

  39. June
    July 27th, 2006 @ 10:10 pm

    RA, you have written a masterpiece: a penultimate parody of religious argument. All the fallacies you taught, subtly woven into one stunning presentation, yet within the bounds of not maligning (your oh-so-pitiful Crown of Thorns).

    Humorous side thrusts, such as the asinine assumption of cosmic purpose, the use of circular reasoning to decry circular reasoning, the deft change of meaning and level to forestall analysis. And the ending – oh the ending – about immutable Laws that require Truth to be delivered in Form Incarnate – I laughed my ass off.

  40. Kreme
    July 27th, 2006 @ 10:18 pm

    [i]I think that free will as an inherent attribute of the creative human spirit is much closer to actual experience.[/i]

    Yeah, because you can free will yourself out of your biological attributes set from the moment of your conception? No. Cut into your brain, dividing both hemispheres and let others see your change in “free will”.

    And with that note, I will say human “spirit” creativity is the brain chemically masturbating in real-time. It is human experience.

  41. Phoenician in a time of Romans
    July 27th, 2006 @ 10:25 pm

    The immutable laws of the universe may require that for Truth to be received by humans it must delivered in a Form Incarnate.

    Look, if you want to get into Dawn’s pants, do what innumerable other males have done before you and lie to her. Don’t lie to yourself – it just makes you look pathetic.

  42. Forrest Cavalier
    July 27th, 2006 @ 10:33 pm

    In #23, Mister Swill gives a nice example about the stars and marbles. Hofstadter’s works, including Godel Escher Bach, are full of the idea too. Most Truths cannot be uncovered by formal proof, and reductionism fails to easily demonstrate what is our dearest characteristic: our self.

    Every action, and every human act overflows with meaning, but on multiple levels. (E.g. what your brain intended, what your neurons did, what your muscles did. Then what materially happened. Then did that action express kindness or malice towards someone else. How were they changed.)

    A sacrament is an outward sign of an inward grace. The matter and form (outward sign) cause what they signify (the grace.)

    Amongst all religions, there is debate on how many sacraments there are, when they were instituted, who can perform them, and on and on.

    But sacraments, as defined, exist, because humans exist.

    Atheists shout their objections all day long, but it isn’t a question of reason, it is a question of meaning.

    Who would claim that a dozen red roses presented to another produces no meaningful effect outside mere appearance and aroma?

  43. Interested Atheist
    July 27th, 2006 @ 10:34 pm

    It’s been pointed out before, so I’ll just say this briefly:
    The fallacy of wishful thinking is simply unworkable not impressive, no matter who uses it – and no matter HOW depressed they say it makes them feel.

  44. Forrest Cavalier
    July 27th, 2006 @ 10:34 pm

    Sorry, didn’t close the HREF.
    outward sign of inward grace

  45. Godthorn
    July 27th, 2006 @ 10:57 pm

    Trudy, the concept of predestination is not exclusively a Calvinist or otherwise religious doctrine. A Predestinator is not required.

    As for “free will,” I challenge you to change at this moment (and for a mere moment–just long enough for your proof) any belief or conviction you hold. If you cannot, then you act on beliefs and convctions you have either acquired willy-nilly or had impressed upon your mind by other agents. You only feel that you act “freely” because you are conscious of what you intend. –Thorngod

  46. Tenspace
    July 27th, 2006 @ 11:17 pm

    RA,

    Where does our sense of self really come from? What external influence would be required to light the spark of awareness? As Dawkins says, the phenotype is the external representation of the genotype. All those cells and chemicals, all created, controlled, and destroyed by your very own genome.

    I think it’s a good idea for a reality check every now and then, but from your current post I must assume that your are open to concepts that aren’t a part of reality. Is it really necessary to look outside of your set of genes? Can we not explain our whole of existence from the unbroken chain of complex codes, codes that gain information with every generation, every population that has lived to reproduce, mutate, and evolve?

    Where is this source of external influence, RA?

  47. Godthorn
    July 27th, 2006 @ 11:52 pm

    Forrest C, there are stars and marbles and there are beauty and aroma. The first two named are results of grosser physical stuff and produce certain conditioned effects on the receptors of living organisms. The third is a Darwinian impress on the brain which I have explored in an essay too lengthy to include here, and the fourth we all know to be a molecular essence that impacts on various nasal receptors. All four are physical, and their interpretations are the effects of physicality.

    The vocabulary of theology and metaphysics vary considerably from those of philosophy and the sciences. The substance of the sanctified wine is holy blood; the apparent chemical constituants and the bouquet are all “accidents” in the language and “reality” of theology. Science translates this as nonsense.

    Science does not yearn to achieve a “unified field theory” in which it may meld with theology. Religion hopes it beyond hope. But never the twain shall meet. –Thorngod.

  48. Forrest Cavalier
    July 28th, 2006 @ 1:09 am

    Thorngod,

    Can humans only observe the sun occluding behind the horizon…Or can we ever appreciate a good sunset?

    You and I agree that what theology calls “accidents” are there.

    The problem is that what your reductionist approach calls “Darwinian Impress” does not describe
    the subjective experience at a level above the subconscious. Yet we certainly are aware we appreciate
    good sunsets, and can even compare today’s Beauty with last year’s. The experience is not merely
    subconscious.

    Granted, it may all be observed to be Darwinian Impress. But that is not how we EXPERIENCE it subjectively.

    Is that experience real? Can the marbles of Darwinian Impress ever form a real star?

  49. Choobus
    July 28th, 2006 @ 1:17 am

    big sweaty bollocks

  50. bookstopper
    July 28th, 2006 @ 2:12 am

    “Shouldn’t that be ‘whom have I upset…..’?” –Choobus

    “Who” is the subject version of the question word that asks for a person. “Whom” is the objective case. If you reorder the sentence as a statement, it goes like: “I have offended him.” Him is an object, so the proper case for the question word is objective. Good call, Choobus

  51. Choobus
    July 28th, 2006 @ 2:59 am

    Thanks bookstopper!
    So many people just don’t understand me……

  52. bernarda
    July 28th, 2006 @ 3:06 am

    It had to come to this. Now RA rejects evolution in favor of a mystical ego.

  53. The Power of Greyskull
    July 28th, 2006 @ 3:28 am

    Wow, you have brought out the old, “I wouldn’t like it if it was true so it can’t be true” argument. Do you realise how stupid that is?

    For Osiris’ sake man, life is cruel, that’s just the way it is. Things are what they are and you can’t sugar coat it. You are alluding to human arrogance.

  54. sdanielmorgan
    July 28th, 2006 @ 4:46 am

    RA,

    Have you considered the existential dilemma from a viewpoint other than simple reductionism? Perhaps from the Stoic perspective? What do you make of Camus’ words:

    When the images of earth cling too tightly to memory, when the call of happiness becomes too insistent, it happens that melancholy rises in man’s heart: this is the rock’s victory, this is the rock itself. The boundless grief is too heavy to bear. These are our nights of Gethsemane. But crushing truths perish from being acknowledged. Thus, Oedipus at the outset obeys fate without knowing it. But from the moment he knows, his tragedy begins. Yet at the same time, blind and desperate, he realizes that the only bond linking him to the world is the cool hand of a girl. Then a tremendous remark rings out: “Despite so many ordeals, my advanced age and the nobility of my soul make me conclude that all is well.” Sophocles’ Oedipus, like Dostoevsky’s Kirilov, thus gives the recipe for the absurd victory. Ancient wisdom confirms modern heroism.

    You could find more from existence than using our ignorance of how consciousness works as an excuse to make up gods and/or the supernatural, if you wanted to. Maybe you just got tired of trying. And that’s what makes men cowards, and that’s why they give up and “just believe” in something.

  55. a different tim
    July 28th, 2006 @ 4:55 am

    Steve G said
    So your answer to a person unsatisfied with looking at diagrams of how things work (neuroscience), but rather is interested in the real thing in action (persons) seems to me to boil down to ‘sit down and shut up.’

    No Steve. My point, as both you and Lily are aware, that the argument from personal distaste – “this conclusion makes me uncomfortable so I won’t accept it” – is not only bullshit, but pernicious bullshit. Look at RAs post again. Look at how he tries to slant the argument with emotive terms. “slowly decaying heaps of steaming matter”. “robots made of meat”. “slaves of some organism”. This is nothing but incoherent rhetoric. Well, I can provide some rhetoric for the materialist viewpoint as well.

  56. a different tim
    July 28th, 2006 @ 5:23 am

    Steve G said
    So your answer to a person unsatisfied with looking at diagrams of how things work (neuroscience), but rather is interested in the real thing in action (persons) seems to me to boil down to ‘sit down and shut up.’

    No, Steve, my answer is that he should stop using incoherent rhetoric (“Slowly decaying heaps of organic matter”, “robots made of meat”, etc), and stop using the argument from personal distaste (“I don’t like this conclusion so it can’t be true”). Above all, he should stop misrepresenting my views. Clearly neither I nor other materialists “think of ourselves this way”.

    I despair of people who see themselves and the world through the lens of their cruel and destructive superstition. Our bodies are, to them, no more than slowly decaying heaps of organic matter, to be discarded, our essential selves steeped in sin and filth from birth, our very nature somehow unworthy. How can they think of themselves that way, as slaves to an alleged deity which somehow has a “purpose”, although what that purpose is is unclear?

    The difference between RA’s comments and mine? I don’t have time to think up as many insults, and I haven’t taken a public vow to stop misrepresenting my opponents.

    Lily, I don’t know what to say. You seem to think that compassion is the same as being polite. I thought, far from being cold and unfeeling, I reacted quite emotionally to the distortion of the argument that RA has perpetrated here.

  57. a different tim
    July 28th, 2006 @ 5:26 am

    Contd – pushed post button by mistake

    Above all he should stop misrepresenting my views. Clearly neither I nor other materialists “think of ourselves this way”.
    I despair of people who see themselves and the world through the lens of their cruel and destructive superstition. Our bodies are, to them, no more than slowly decaying heaps of organic matter, to be discarded, our essential selves steeped in sin and filth from birth, our very nature somehow unworthy. How can they think of themselves that way, as slaves to an alleged deity which somehow has a “purpose”, although what that purpose is is unclear?

    The difference between RA’s comments and mine? I don’t have time to think up as many insults, and I haven’t taken a public vow to stop misrepresenting my opponents. It seems this only applies to theists after all.

    Lily, I don’t know what to say. You seem to think that compassion is the same as being polite. I thought, far from being cold and unfeeling, I reacted quite emotionally to the distortion of the argument that RA has perpetrated here.

  58. a different tim
    July 28th, 2006 @ 5:28 am

    Crap. Multiple post. All my drafts got posted up…..Read the second one. If anyopne can take off 52 and 54 that would make sense.

  59. SteveG
    July 28th, 2006 @ 6:58 am

    Above all, he should stop misrepresenting my views. Clearly neither I nor other materialists “think of ourselves this way”.

    But ADT, this is just flat out wrong. Read this very thread and you’ll see that indeed this is exactly what many (of course not all) claim, and it’s not by a longshot the first time I’ve seen atheist claim that things are just as RA lays them out.

    I undertand if you don’t like the way RA phrased it, especially if you feel it doesn’t apply to you, but let’s not pretend that the descriptions used and applied have no warrant.

  60. Chris
    July 28th, 2006 @ 7:14 am

    “A bubbling cauldron of cranial soup”

    I dated a guy like that once.

  61. June
    July 28th, 2006 @ 7:19 am

    Different Tim, you make good sense.

    If I may add an image that I get as I take my walks along the Pacific and watch the surf. Every few seconds, like a giant heartbeat, the ocean generates a wave that rushes to the shore with white bubbles and froth, then fades back and disappears, only to be replaced seconds later by another wave that roils and thunders to the shore.

    This has gone on for millions of years, and I am quite content to be a part of this ancient rhythm. But it would be silly for waves to proclaim that they were specially created for a cosmic purpose.

  62. a different tim
    July 28th, 2006 @ 7:50 am

    Steve. Nonononononono.

    OK. I, and many others, assert the materialist stance. We can legitimately agree, or otherwise, about that.

    What RA is asserting is that the materialist stance is one of despair, decaying organic matter, and meat robots. I’m saying this is wrong (that time I wore the robot gimp suit for my girlfriend doesn’t count, OK?).

    The reason I’m saying it’s wrong is that it’s an artefact of his view of the universe. It’s perfectly possible to come from a materialist perspective and see the world as a thing of hope and beauty, like June does. Fine, I and most atheists are materialists. But we don’t view the material world with the contempt that RA (and many theists) appear to. We think it’s cool. We think matter is interesting. We think the fact that matter can be conscious is awesome.

    In fact – and this is the main point I wanted to make – the universe is what it is. Neither RA’s negative view of matter, or my positive view of it, make one iota of difference to the question of whether we are matter or matter plus mysterious ingredient X (oh, call it a soul if you want, I don’t mind). RA is trying to justify a factual claim about the universe with an appeal to emotion. It’s a basic category error, it’s dishonest because he knows better, and even on an emotional level it’s a misrepresentation of the actual position most materialists take.

  63. SteveG
    July 28th, 2006 @ 8:27 am

    ADT
    I don’t have problem with what you’ve said in this last post, but with all do respect, if that was your original point, you mangled it beyond belief.

    Your original post was a reprimand to RA for not being as satisfied with that view as you and others seem to be…

    Oh for fuck’s sake. “I don’t want to think I’m purely matter so I can’t be, waah waah waah”. And you call materialists pitiable.

    Go read some of Scathachs stuff on the forums, or Ramchandram’s books, or Susan Greenfield, and try to absorb some of the sheer joy, wonder and complexity of the materialist viewpoint. It’s you that despairs at “slowly decaying heaps of steaming matter”, as if the human body is no more complex than a compost heap (already, I might add, a pretty complex thing), not me or any materialist I know.
    Sorry, you made me really pissed off with that one.

    Go read a biology book and stop whining.

    Beyond that, I think it was pretty clear that it was RA saying that HE despairs (not that you do or should) at a notion which he sees as ultimately devolving into the meat robot. And I happen to agree with him that ,at least from where I stand, that’s what it does devolve into. But that doesn’t need to necessarily imply that you and others view it that way.

    But your original pushback against his post was an emotional appeal to the wonder of complexity, and the awesomeness of it all. That’s no less mysterious and unquantifiable than anything RA offered in his original post.

  64. MilitantAtheist
    July 28th, 2006 @ 8:32 am

    Does anyone else think that TRA’s “friend” to whom he made his unspecified promise has the initials J.C.?

  65. Thorngod
    July 28th, 2006 @ 8:33 am

    Forest C, Darwinism, strictly speaking, describes only the processes of life, which is an anomoly in a virtually lifeless universe. Stars are momentary phenomena “created” by particular configurations of mass and energy in the eternal turmoil of what is.

    Experience is necessarily subjective. The raison detre of consciousness is the same as that of the basic brain: it evolved to serve the body, which is primary. Your “I” is its servant, and all the artifacts of your character and personality are mere after-effects of that basic awareness. Enjoy them while you may.

  66. maledictus
    July 28th, 2006 @ 9:11 am

    Memo

    From: God

    To: My sheeps

    I sent you Christ, but given the state of affairs in earth, this move, at this point, looks ineffective. It seems to be that the immutable laws of the universe may require, once again, that for truth to be received by humans it must be delivered in a form incarnate. I’m working in a new project. You will be informed but I can advance you that in my new version, I won’t use a cross and will take advantage of the new technologies and the advice of Lily. I’m thinking in something like a Website where the new Christ will be crucified by the cruel and immoral unbelievers. Why a new Christ? I won’t tell you that and don’t dare to ask me why I will not. Don’t forget I’m changeless and the Old Testament still applies.

  67. benjamin
    July 28th, 2006 @ 9:20 am

    “I” am a pinball bouncing between different ideas supplied by my electro-chemical brain.

  68. a different tim
    July 28th, 2006 @ 9:28 am

    Stevey baby!

    The “waah waah waah” comment was against the argument from personal distaste which RA was making, and which you’re still ignoring. I think that’s pretty clear.

    Beyond that, RA is doing rather more than saying it’s only his view. He says the explanations reduce us to slowly decaying heaps etc, not that he does. His entire concept of matter seems to be derived from the Cathars – didn’t you guys have a crusade against those people for that?. He characterised Noah’s original comment as “self-degradation”. I see no sign of this in Noah’s post – it’s purely projection on RA’s part. He states as if it were true that “matter doesn’t matter”. Most of all, he shows no sign that there is another way of looking at it. And he sure is whining about it. I stand by my original post. Sure, it was an emotional response, as I made clear at the time and have in subsequent posts. It made me angry. It makes me angry now. Sure, you and other theists (and apparently RA) can argue that the materialist stance is wrong, but don’t try to claim that it inevitably carries the emotional freight that you, not us, try to project onto it.

    Am I talking to the same Steve G that so lucidly argues that our conceptions of Christianity as cruel, heartless, irrational and so on are mistaken, projections of our own prejudices? And may we not do the same with your and RA’s view of materialism?

    And complexity “mysterious and unquantifiable”? There’s a lot of maths that argues otherwise. But it’s no less awesome for that.

  69. Severalspeciesof
    July 28th, 2006 @ 9:36 am

    I’m going to add to the confusion here:

    Most everything is greater than the sum of its’ parts, when that ‘thing’ is doing “something’. Get it? Of course I’m greater than the sum of all my synapses, chemicals, etc., but only while I’m doing something, anything. Once dead, I am no longer greater than the sum of my parts, since the sum of my parts no longer do anything. And where I got this idea I do not know, and even if I knew, I wouldn’t tell you, so there.

  70. Severalspeciesof
    July 28th, 2006 @ 9:49 am

    Another idea:

    If “matter doesn’t matter”, then what’s up with matter? It just then becomes superfluous, and therefore anyone could destroy your matter, and it wouldn’t matter. (Why would God need to create matter, if it doesn’t matter?)

  71. June
    July 28th, 2006 @ 10:10 am

    SeveralSpecies
    One term you are looking for is “emergent property”. For example, one leg cannot walk by itself; walking is an emergent property of having two legs. Another term is “catalyst”, which is something that needs to be present for a process to work, but does not participate in it.

    Maledictus
    If God sends JC again, we’ll kill him again. He needs to change his divine plan. Send someone who brings peace to the Middle East, cures cancer, heals AIDS, and lowers gas prices.

  72. maledictus
    July 28th, 2006 @ 10:18 am

    Militant

    Ra sent his commitment by e-mail. Do you believe I need e-mail having the holy ghost who is gazillions of MPH more rapid than electrons?

    wacht yourself and don’t provoke my célébre Wrath !!

    J.C.

  73. Mookie
    July 28th, 2006 @ 10:18 am

    Quit lying to the regulars and to new visitors – change the title bar on your page to more accurately reflect your newfound beliefs. You are still “Raving”, but certainly not an atheist.

  74. SteveG
    July 28th, 2006 @ 10:20 am

    Hey ADT, you know I love you!

    Of course you are free to argue against what you see as a mistaken view of materialism. I suppose that the problem is that we’ve read the same post and seem to have seen something entirely different in it.

    For instance, and I honestly ask this, where do you see that he has advocated a view of matter as evil, detestable, or negative? He did say…

    I despair at those explanations which reduce us to nothing more than slowly-decaying heaps of steaming matter, to the proverbial robots made of meat.

    …but then later says…

    Certainly I recognize there is a relationship between my consciousness and my brain, that there is perhaps some necessary foundation of matter which must support my every thought.

    ..and…

    And again, I concede that matter may well be essential.

    I am perplexed as to why you are equating to Catharism? What am I missing that is leading you to that conclusion? To say that matter isn’t everything is not to say it’s nothing, is it?

    ADT Said: He characterized Noah’s original comment as “self-degradation”. I see no sign of this in Noah’s post – it’s purely projection on RA’s part.

    Could the fact that you see no sign of it be projection on your part as well? I mean, when I read Noah’s comment the mental process I go through is something along the lines of ….

    If I held to that understanding, it would lead me to a conclusion that indeed we are decaying heaps of matter.

    …Without necessarily implying that was Noah’s intent or meaning. It’s all in the interpretation, no? There’s a sense in which we all are projecting our meaning onto Noah’s barebones description.

    He states as if it were true that “matter doesn’t matter”.

    Here I think we might have some common ground. It’s the one phrase I am not comfortable with and I suppose I might see why you are seeing Catharism, but I thought the other comments I quoted above softened it to a great extent.

    Most of all, he shows no sign that there is another way of looking at it.

    OK, I am going to bait you a bit. What are these other ways? Is it the joyful wonder of which you speak?

    It seems to me that strictly speaking, the description of the situation is indeed captured by ‘slowly-decaying heaps of steaming matter’ (where is that factually wrong), unless that is, we place some meaning onto those brute facts. Once we do that though, whether it’s described as form incarnate, or joyful wonder, we seem to be on rather equal footing.

    Sure, you and other theists (and apparently RA) can argue that the materialist stance is wrong, but don’t try to claim that it inevitably carries the emotional freight that you, not us, try to project onto it.

    If it carries no emotional freight, why are you so insistent that there are other meaningful ways of viewing it. If there is nothing troubling in the facts as they are, why not just do as some here have done and say ‘that’s how it is, tough shit.’ and leave it at that?

  75. Severalspeciesof
    July 28th, 2006 @ 10:37 am

    June,

    Thanks for the terms. I’ll probably soon forget them though, as my synapses, chemicals, etc., are starting to spark from my gray matter in unusual ways. My ‘emergent property” and ‘catalysts’ are decaying.

  76. noah nywno
    July 28th, 2006 @ 10:48 am

    Again, if anyone cares, my response is in the Atheist vs. Theist forum under “Noah’s Response to ‘More Than Matter'”.

  77. Forrest Cavalier
    July 28th, 2006 @ 10:53 am

    Thorngod,

    in #63, You seem to want to jump to an argument against an immortal soul. That’s off-topic for this thread about revelation of Truth.

    But you did write:

    Experience is necessarily subjective. The raison detre of consciousness is the same as that of the basic brain: it evolved to serve the body, which is primary.

    So you allow that subjective experience exists, and our “I” is as real as the dead, but shining, stars.

    But science observes the effects of subjective experience merely as neural activity, accidence, but not it directly, substance.

    How does a materialist explain that? Using the idea of levels of meaning?

    Maybe our “I” is a useful, even primary, self-deception. Utility is beside my point.

    What argument do you make that something exists but cannot be observed by science? And even when presented with incontrovertible scientific evidence, the self-deception remains.

    And what does it say about the ultimate utility of Science that something so important to us is invisible to it?

  78. Thorngod
    July 28th, 2006 @ 10:57 am

    Delete matter and what effluvium, noxious or otherwise, will rise from it? Matter/energy is, at base, ALL that matters. All else that “matters” matters only to sentient beings, is created by them, and cannot be validly attributed to any non-material instigator.

  79. Severalspeciesof
    July 28th, 2006 @ 11:15 am

    Noah,

    Your response in the Atheist vs. Theist forum is excellent. Everyone should take a look. A must read.

  80. noah nywno
    July 28th, 2006 @ 11:17 am

    Thank you.

  81. Forrest Cavalier
    July 28th, 2006 @ 11:26 am

    In #76, Thorngod writes

    All else that “matters” matters only to sentient beings, is created by them, and cannot be validly attributed to any non-material instigator.

    Sorry. lost me. Counter example: We attribute our future destiny (which “matters” dearly to us) to our “choices” (which are non-material instigators.)

  82. SteveG
    July 28th, 2006 @ 11:32 am

    I marvel at the new life growing inside my wife (you can check out ultrasound pics in the Random Picture Thread.) I appreciate every single day I am alive. I appreciate it even though I believe it won’t last forever. I simply don’t need anything but life itself to appreciate it.

    Now, what is “pitiable” and “self-degrading” about that.

    While these are beautiful sentiments, ultimately they are pitiable because they devolve into being nothing but an illusion based on purposeless, accidental combinations of elements that are nothing more than random chance.

    If materialism is ultimately true, your wonder and appreciation are purely accidentel, nothing more.

  83. a different tim
    July 28th, 2006 @ 11:36 am

    Steve – joyful wonder will do. Come on – there are other ways of deasribing matter besides “decaying heaps”, that carry an opposite emotional meaning. RA is, as I’ve repeatedly mentioned, arguing from personal distaste, and this personal distaste is subjective, much as my enjoying the complexity and wonder etc is.

    For your other point, RA isn’t just stating “the facts as they are”, is he? Decaying heaps and meat robots is pretty emotive, and intended to be. I don’t see anything in the rest of the post that mitigates that. RA sees matter as nasty, and the proposition that we are made from it as a counsel of despair. Sounds like the Cathars to me.

    I did in fact state that the universe is what it is and any emotional weighting is beside the point if we are looking for the truth – post 60. I’d be happy to discuss it in the language of neuroscience, but you and RA apparently think matter smells bad or something :P

  84. noah nywno
    July 28th, 2006 @ 11:41 am

    SteveG said:

    “If materialism is ultimately true, your wonder and appreciation are purely accidentel, nothing more.”

    Maybe so, but that doesn’t change the fact that I appreciate them and find them beautiful. Why isn’t that enough?

  85. SteveG
    July 28th, 2006 @ 11:46 am

    For your other point, RA isn’t just stating “the facts as they are”, is he? Decaying heaps and meat robots is pretty emotive, and intended to be. I don’t see anything in the rest of the post that mitigates that. RA sees matter as nasty, and the proposition that we are made from it as a counsel of despair. Sounds like the Cathars to me.

    OK, you are right, they are loaded terms for sure, but I still took the whole thing in the context of this being how he sees it IF that’s all that we are. There’s an IF there that I am seeing that you seem to me to be ignoring.

    Maybe that’s why your suggesting that saying matter isn’t EVERYTHING is equivalent to saying it’s ‘nasty’. I would never say that, and I didn’t take that from the post. But unless RA weighs in on the intent, I am not sure what else can be said.

    I’d be happy to discuss it in the language of neuroscience, but you and RA apparently think matter smells bad or something :P

    LOL! :-D

  86. anthonyjfuchs
    July 28th, 2006 @ 11:47 am

    >”I despair at those explanations which reduce us to nothing
    >more than slowly-decaying heaps of steaming matter, to the
    >proverbial robots made of meat.”

    So, it appears, your entire argument appears to consist of: “it would make me sad, so I don’t accept it.”

    And which Proverb, praytell, mentions robots made of meat?

    Such reproachable intellectual dishonesty.

  87. Forrest Cavalier
    July 28th, 2006 @ 11:47 am

    To noah #82,

    What then is so objectionable when someone else appreciates and names a non-existent divine spirit?

    Why isn’t their appreciation enough to make it acceptable to treat the non-existent as real? It seems to be good enough for you.

  88. a different tim
    July 28th, 2006 @ 11:49 am

    Yeah, what’s the problem, Steve? Don’t you like combinations of elements based on random chance or something? Why are his sentiments “illusory”?

    Anyway, it would have to be combinations of elements based on random chance and natural selection.

  89. a different tim
    July 28th, 2006 @ 11:55 am

    Steve G said:
    OK, you are right, they are loaded terms for sure, but I still took the whole thing in the context of this being how he sees it IF that’s all that we are. There’s an IF there that I am seeing that you seem to me to be ignoring.

    And there’s an “all” there that you seem to be taking for granted. Patterns of matter and energy “all” that we are? Why the diminutive “all”? This is exactly what I’m talking about.

  90. noah nywno
    July 28th, 2006 @ 11:59 am

    Forrest,

    By all means, believe what makes you happy. I was a long, hard road getting to where I am today in terms of my non-belief. I would never tell someone they are “wrong” if they still need to cling to their belief. But don’t tell I’m wrong in mine unless your prepared to offer something that is compeling. You havn’t done that. Steve hasn’t done that and RA hasn’t done that.

    I’m more than happy to leave Christians to their belief; I just wish more were willing to leve me to mine. If more were willing, sites like this wouldn’t exist.

  91. SteveG
    July 28th, 2006 @ 11:59 am

    Steve:If materialism is ultimately true, your wonder and appreciation are purely accidentel, nothing more.”

    Noah: Maybe so, but that doesn’t change the fact that I appreciate them and find them beautiful. Why isn’t that enough?

    Everyone has to of course answer that for themselves. I certainly can’t answer it for you, but I can answer it for myself.

    I can not live in the state of hypocrisy and contradiction such a view places me in. I can not pretend to live a purposeful, meaningful life while at the same time believing that it is nothing more than a purposeless, meaningless accident.

    This is more than an argument from personal distaste. I literally can not make the leap of faith required to live in such a state. I find myself mentally incapable of it. For me, the leap of faith in God seems like hoping over a puddle in comparison.

  92. Erik
    July 28th, 2006 @ 12:04 pm

    Oh, for crying out loud, SteveG, my materialism doesn’t make a perfectly cooked filet mignon any less tasty to me. You can extrapolate from there.

  93. SteveG
    July 28th, 2006 @ 12:08 pm

    Oh, for crying out loud, SteveG, my materialism doesn’t make a perfectly cooked filet mignon any less tasty to me.

    Gee Erik, thanks! It’s all clear for me now. I NEVER thought if it like that. *rollseyes*

    BTW, how do you know?

  94. noah nywno
    July 28th, 2006 @ 12:11 pm

    Well Steve, as I mentioned in my post, I can’t explain that to you.

    And your right, it does come down to personal preference. For me, all I say is the question no longer arises (at least, not in any other sense than intelectual.)

    I’ve always had the ability to compartmentalize my thinking. What you see as contradiction, I see as different subjects.

    When I believed in God (if it’s fair to call it “belief”), I wasn’t happy. I gave it every effort. I wanted to believe. Now that I don’t, to my surprise, I’m happy and getting happier everyday. To me, life is bigger now, and more full of possibility. I feel more in control of it (or, as much of it I can reasonably control).

    All arguments aside, cut through the logic games and get to the bare bones of it, I just don’t believe in God. Idon’t think I ever can. And I’m fine (really fine) with that.

  95. SteveG
    July 28th, 2006 @ 12:17 pm

    Noah,
    As I’ve said in the past, while I don’t agree with you, if that’s what work’s for you, I can’t fault you. You have to follow the truth and your conscience as you see it. As do I.

    As for the ‘how do you know?’ bit, that was just a joke asking Erik how he knows that my steak isn’t tastier than his. ;-)

  96. Erik
    July 28th, 2006 @ 12:17 pm

    SteveG,

    I know because I have resisted materialism in the past, yet filet mignon tastes just the same (actually, it tastes better, but I will not attribute that to a change in philosophy).

    You, however, are suggesting that my enjoyment of filet mignon is hypocritical if at the same time I understand that normal biological processes make steak taste very good to me, nothing more. I don’t see it, Steve. Help me out here.

  97. freddy
    July 28th, 2006 @ 12:18 pm

    It’s worth mentioning at this point, as it’s been mentioned many many times before in the thread that even though the materialist view of things may make YOU very sad and very bothered, that is not an argument to convince someone else to change their beliefs. If you’re going to go down that road, then you should accept the testimony of materialists that it is possible for other people to live happy and purposeful lives while still believing that we are nothing more than skin and bones.

  98. noah nywno
    July 28th, 2006 @ 12:30 pm

    For the record Steve,

    I wouldn’t know anyting about your’s or Eric’s “steak”. And anyone who says I do is a damn liar.

    (I hope the pictures are still locked up safe.)

  99. SteveG
    July 28th, 2006 @ 12:32 pm

    I know because I have resisted materialism in the past, yet filet mignon tastes just the same (actually, it tastes better, but I will not attribute that to a change in philosophy).

    It was a joke, but since you took it seriously I’ll have to ask…how does your experience in any way give you the ability to judge my own experience and claim that you know what my ‘steak’ tastes like? The best you can do is possibly compare your own experiences against one another and try to quantify which is superior for you.

    But I can equally say that I’ve embraced both materialism and belief and that my belief allows me to enjoy life (including the taste of steak) more.

    Now if you read my comment, I made no claim about my taste or experience as proof for someone else.

    You, however, are suggesting that my enjoyment of filet mignon is hypocritical if at the same time I understand that normal biological processes make steak taste very good to me, nothing more. I don’t see it, Steve. Help me out here.

    No, where did I suggest such a thing? I didn’t speak for you or for anyone else. I in fact prefaced my comment by saying…

    Everyone has to of course answer that for themselves. I certainly can’t answer it for you, but I can answer it for myself.

  100. Severalspeciesof
    July 28th, 2006 @ 12:35 pm

    SteveG,

    I think Noah is displaying a better sense of freewill than any thiest can comprehend. He isn’t being a hipocrite at all with his state of being. He has chosen to appreciate the ‘appreciation” rather than concentrate on the “materialism” involved. These are two different modes of thought that cannot be brought together at the exact same time. His materialism brings him purpose. Your God brings you purpose. His materialism can be tested and can “kick back” and be observed by everyone. But your God can’t. And this all leads to (at least for me) the question, What is God’s purpose for himself? (I think I asked you this question or something similar a while back, and your response was something like: “that’s for him to figure out” An honest answer, but it evades the question.)

    I won’t be able to respond for a couple of days, got to go.

  101. Forrest Cavalier
    July 28th, 2006 @ 12:35 pm

    noah (#88)

    Ever read this?

    It is in accordance with their dignity as persons-that is, beings endowed with reason and free will and therefore privileged to bear personal responsibility-that all men should be at once impelled by nature and also bound by a moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth. They are also bound to adhere to the truth, once it is known, and to order their whole lives in accord with the demands of truth However, men cannot discharge these obligations in a manner in keeping with their own nature unless they enjoy immunity from external coercion as well as psychological freedom. Therefore the right to religious freedom has its foundation not in the subjective disposition of the person, but in his very nature. In consequence, the right to this immunity continues to exist even in those who do not live up to their obligation of seeking the truth and adhering to it and the exercise of this right is not to be impeded, provided that just public order be observed.

  102. noah nywno
    July 28th, 2006 @ 12:43 pm

    Well, it’s nice to know at least the Vatican and I agree on something.

  103. SteveG
    July 28th, 2006 @ 12:48 pm

    He isn’t being a hipocrite at all with his state of being.

    Folks, I didn’t call anybody a hypocrite. If the shoe I described for myself doesn’t fit, please, don’t wear it. ;-)

    He has chosen to appreciate the ‘appreciation” rather than concentrate on the “materialism” involved.

    What that hell does that mean? Appreciate, the appreciation? Even Noah admitted that strictly speaking his appreciation is a purposeless accident. Push it back as many steps as you like, but that applies to the appreciation of the appreciation as well.

    His materialism brings him purpose.

    It is not a purpose. It is a temporary accident until he dies. Nothing more. It may ‘feel’ meaningful, that I’ll grant. But there is no purpose in it. The materialist universe is purposeless as is everything in it.

    His materialism can be tested and can “kick back” and be observed by everyone.

    I want to see his appreciation (or his appreciation of his appreciation. Either would be fine). I want him to take a picture of it, and post it here. Then I want to touch it, smell it, and hold it in my hands. If he can’t provie that, it doesn’t kick back in the least.

  104. Erik
    July 28th, 2006 @ 12:50 pm

    Steve,

    My apologies, the net unfortunately doesn’t convey the other indicators of joshing. Though as you say, the question is nevertheless valid.

    I probably cannot prove that the taste of steak is the same to me as it is to you. We could spend a lot of time discussing why certain chemicals might invoke certain reactions in the taste buds and in the brain. But the question is sort of beside the point.

    I understand that you were only talking about yourself, but you are in fact stating a principle, so I’ll ask it a different way: would you consider yourself a hypocrite if you were a materialist AND you enjoyed the taste of steak?

  105. SteveG
    July 28th, 2006 @ 1:13 pm

    would you consider yourself a hypocrite if you were a materialist AND you enjoyed the taste of steak?

    Hmmmm…that’s honestly a tough question. My gut reaction is yes, but as much out of a desire to be intellectually honest as anything else.

    But it is also true, that for me, the idea of materialism/atheism (I know they aren’t exactly the same, but the one kind of seems to imply the other) can only logically lead to existentialism (I think that’s the right term). I’ve been there before, and for me it’s a very depressive state to be in and I find that in a very real way, it does curtail my enjoyment of nearly every aspect of my life.

    So there’s a yes on both a ‘philosophical’ level (if my musings can pose as pseudo-philosophy), and a practical level.

    However, I can’t deny that on some level I’d have to admit that I probably could muddle through and enjoy (at least on some basic animal level) the taste of steak.

    So my answer is an unqualified, Yes, but. :-D

  106. Thorngod
    July 28th, 2006 @ 1:30 pm

    Steve G, a rock is purposeless, the universe is purposeless, a sentient being is self-purposed. All purposes are temporary, ending in death if not before. If you require more, seek and you will probably find. Believing is seeing!

    Forest C, my Post 76 was not in reply to your 75, but a contribution to the Matter/Nonmatter football everyone was kicking around. However, I was slipshod in my phrase “non-material instigator.” What I mean was an external Agency that could be interpreted as a universal consiousness, or “God.”

    Maybe we’ve been talking past each other somewhat. I take it you are asking how one can explain self-consciousness in terms of purely chemical or other physical processes. Since the mechanism that produces consciousness is not yet fathomed, it cannot be satisfactorily explained. But looking at the basic uses of consciousness, it seems quite convincing to me that it is another device for survival, and one that evolved through physical processes. Its operation is also shown to correspond to electro-chemical activity in the brain. As to the “I” or self (or “soul”), I see no reason to assume that it is anything more than the individuated consciousness.

  107. Erik
    July 28th, 2006 @ 1:31 pm

    Steve,

    I have to say I don’t share your sentiments entirely, though I have experienced occasional depression on a philosophical level. But it has never occurred to me that accepting the reactions of my body’s nerve endings to stimuli was hypocritical.

    I also hate to turn this around on you, but, assuming for the sake of argument that materialism is true, wouldn’t you be even more depressed if you realized that the only way you enjoyed life was by tricking yourself into believing something that isn’t true? I’d rather go about just trying to enjoy the experience. Which is what I do.

  108. Los Pepes
    July 28th, 2006 @ 1:43 pm

    Lily –

    Of course we’re going to call you names, after all, you are a pusher of the single most destructive force on the face of this earth (specifically, christianity).

    You are a pusher of a pathetic, guilt-fueled, death-based cult. You park your body directly in the path of knowledge and enlightenment by insisting that your trivial god-concept is responsible for everything. You get no warmth from me. You banter on tirelessly about how you’ve answered everyone’s questions clearly, but somehow never seem to leave clear answers to anyone’s questions.

    Why do you defend your cult the way you do? It’s clearly based on nothing, and what it is today is clearly the result of 500 different abitrary interpretations that always seem to change just before the general populace figures out how much of a load of shit the whole thing is.

    Take your guilt-trip somewhere else.

  109. Choobus
    July 28th, 2006 @ 1:46 pm

    never in all my days have I seen so much inane drivel.

    This is like a dodgy taco: it causes one arsehole to spew a seemingly endless stream of shit. ay caramba!

  110. June
    July 28th, 2006 @ 1:51 pm

    Guys, there is a pervasive stink here of rejecting conclusions you don’t like, starting with RA’s despair at being just a steaming pile.

    So, why not discard logic altogether and invent whatever cosmic truth makes you happy? I want a Santa that brings toys. Therefore Santa and Christmas exists. Therefore Christ exists. Therefore God exists.

    Oh, wait, that’s what you ARE saying?
    Never mind ……

  111. Lily
    July 28th, 2006 @ 2:39 pm

    Lily –
    Of course we’re going to call you names, after all, you are a pusher of the single most destructive force on the face of this earth (specifically, christianity).

    Huh? What brought this little diatribe on? What names?

    Some days it doesn’t pay to get out of bed. Here I am just minding my own business, when out of nowhere! Wham! Los Pepsi launches a suicide attack. Just like Hezbollah…

    Bad hair day?

  112. SteveG
    July 28th, 2006 @ 2:43 pm

    wouldn’t you be even more depressed if you realized that the only way you enjoyed life was by tricking yourself into believing something that isn’t true?

    I know this is hard for many to accept, but I actually do believe. I am not attempting to trick myself any more than Noah believes he’s tricking himself in just appreciating what he has. There’s nothing to despair of in that regard for either of us it seems.

  113. Holopupenko
    July 28th, 2006 @ 2:44 pm

    Thorngod:
         If the universe (i.e., all that is observable) is without purpose, how can anything it contains (like a sentient being) have purpose? Moreover, doesn’t that beg the question of what purpose is in the first place? To help us out, please define “purpose” and specify in concrete, observable (meaning empirically measurable) terms what purpose is and which of the modern empirical sciences studies “purpose.” Also, if you work for a purpose, doesn’t that imply teleology, i.e., the fourth (final) cause?

    Los Pepes:
         Like Thorngod (who failed miserably to provide facts/numbers—more likely refused) please provide numbers to back up your claim that Christianity is “the single most destructive force on the face of this earth.” To help you out, let’s limit this to the 20th century alone and to atheism alone (and since you accede to atheism, you either implicitly support these deaths or are a nervous apologist that will respond “well, those weren’t “real” atheists): Atheism was the primary cause for the murder of more than 125 million people in the 20th century: three times more than the 38 million killed in all the wars of the 20th century. [Stephane Courtois, Nicolas Werth, et al., The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression (Harvard University Press, October 1999) ISBN: 0674076087] How do you assess your claim in the context of over 2000 years of art, literature, music, architecture, hospitals, the printing press, the birth of universities, scientists of faith such as Newton, Galileo, Maxwell (there are plenty more), etc., etc.? (By the way, please turn off any Mozart, Bach, Mendelsson, Beethoven, etc, etc., etc. you may be listening to since they are “destructive” in your words.) I’m waiting… and have been waiting patiently for Thorngod to be honest with his “self-evident” 95% figure.

  114. SteveG
    July 28th, 2006 @ 2:47 pm

    Guys, there is a pervasive stink here of rejecting conclusions you don’t like, starting with RA’s despair at being just a steaming pile.

    Yet…..110+ comments since yesterday. Weird idn’t it?

    So, why not discard logic altogether and invent whatever cosmic truth makes you happy?

    You mean like appreciating the appreciation? Or do you mean embracing the joy and wonder of complexity? LOL! :-D

  115. SteveG
    July 28th, 2006 @ 2:51 pm

    never in all my days have I seen so much inane drivel.

    Please….Have you ever seen a thread started by PanAtheist? That crap puts even theists to shame. ;-)

  116. Doug Purdie
    July 28th, 2006 @ 3:15 pm

    Congradulations. You have just defined the word “spirit”. And its OK for atheists to believe in it. From the wisdom of Mr. Kantner, in the material world a tear is salt, carbon and water. In the spiritual world it is the result of the sadness and sorrow of the love of a man and a woman.

    A book is wood pulp, ink and glue. In spirit, it is ideas and emotions. Spirit is the meaning behind the physical thing and it does not require the existance of a diety.

  117. Erik
    July 28th, 2006 @ 3:20 pm

    Steve,

    Then I cannot see how you could ascribe hypocrisy to yourself. I trust you when you say you believe and I do not think you are actively tricking yourself. That is why I think what you really mean all along is that you yourself cannot be a materialist and not be hypocritical, not because of any conflict between materialism and wonder, but rather because you believe.

    I guess another way to say it is that I find it very difficult to believe that you would believe in something because it makes you feel better. You have other reasons. But that is precisely why the RA’s post is subject to attack. The alleged lack of wonder in disbelief is no more reason to believe than the alleged wonder in disbelief is a reason not to believe.

  118. Choobus
    July 28th, 2006 @ 3:29 pm

    Steve G, I must agree with you. Atheist or not, that pan fool has on many occasions put the anal in banal.

  119. Thorngod
    July 28th, 2006 @ 3:31 pm

    Holopupenko, if the ocean can’t swim, how can anything in the ocean swim? The universe, as universe, is in all liklihood purposeless.

    I am not your dictionary, but “purpose” means intention; or in the noun form, that toward which a sentient being strives.

    And in your comment to Los Pepes, you were confusing musical scores with musical instruments!

    And I reiterate: Approximately 95% of the denizens of planet Earth are “believers.” But as stupid as most of them are, I doubt that a handful of atheists could have persuaded them to keep slaughtering each other for thousands of years.

  120. Los Pepes
    July 28th, 2006 @ 3:35 pm

    Holopupenko – you’re the cool guy that was ranting on last week about “all of the special feelings that I felt”, and “the search for something that I couldn’t put my finger on…”, and now you’re accusing me of being vague?

    And don’t tell me what I implicitly support. You’re citing deaths that occured at the hands of totalitarian governments, who outlaw religion only because it gets in the way of the state. It simply switches government thugs for god thugs. Your statement that atheism was directly responsible for these deaths is bullshit; yet another corrupt communist government was the cause of these deaths.

    And yes, I am allowed to make that distinction, unless of course you implicitly support having 10 wives and dancing with rattlesnakes. If you think atheists did that, than I guess I can include you in there with Jim Jones and the Branch Davidians in Waco, huh?

    How many entire cultures have christians destroyed? The American Indians, South Americans, all of the Africans… religion is a pathetic guilt tool that was used by Europeans to move into 3rd world countries and rob them blind. Anywhere the missionaries went, cultures fell. I’m not even going to mention the inquisitions and the crusades, or the insane religious war being fought at the present.

    If you think that any communists were atheists, you know exactly dick about atheism. They substituted the state for god, that’s all, so that they could control people, which is all your religion is good for.

  121. Choobus
    July 28th, 2006 @ 3:41 pm

    Holopupenko is not a bona fide shitlord for nothing.

  122. freddy
    July 28th, 2006 @ 3:49 pm

    What that hell does that mean? Appreciate, the appreciation?
    SteveG has brought up this concept twice, to belittle it. It’s a simple point though – Happiness is a good in and of itself. The implication from supernaturalists on the thread seems to be that if happiness is the product of chemicals in the brain, then it is purposeless, and hence worthless. For materialists, happiness is good enough. We don’t need to know that there’s a “soul” or something else behind all of our thoughts and feelings. I don’t know why that’s such a difficult concept to grasp. It’s nice to be happy. or to appreciate beautiful things, regardless of the source of the feelings.

  123. Holopupenko
    July 28th, 2006 @ 3:55 pm

    Thorngod:
         Thanks again for skirting the issue and not putting references where your mouth is. 95%? Show me the validated references.

    Los Pepes:
         I’ve lived in Ukraine (and visited most of the territories of the former Soviet Union) for going on 13 years total–including before the collapse. Moreover, in addition to an MIT nuclear engineering Ph.D., I have a Master’s in Soviet Studies from Harvard, and probably know more about communism and atheism from the scientific and philosophical perspectives than you will ever know–especially given your pathetic moralizing. So, instead of focusing on what I do or do not know about atheism (which is the genetic fallacy) and your personal opinion of who and what operated the gulags and government at large here (again, with no backup to that opinion), stay on track and face the challange I posed to you to back up your claim. Moreover, just as you blame entire faiths for the mistakes of a few (which is bigotry), I will also play that game and accuse you of implicit support of the deaths at the hands of atheistic regimes. (Have you ever read the constitution of the former Soviet Union as well as supporting documentation and enabling legistation to see what they say about the official and privileged status of atheism?)

    To the both of you:
         As with the foul mouth of Choobs, I will continue to point to the example you two pose of what atheism is in practice: trembling cowardice in failing to provide references to back up claims and then facing the facts as they stand.

  124. Ray Matthew
    July 28th, 2006 @ 4:11 pm

    Keep on keeping on, R.A! You’re heading towards a realization more profound than I could possibly explain with words.

  125. Choobus
    July 28th, 2006 @ 4:14 pm

    Holohead, if they gave you anything other than a buggery at MIT they must be letting their standards slip. Why is it that those who end up telling everyone what degrees they have (or think they have) are always the ones who are routinely humiliated and shown to be fools?

    How can you call Los Pepsi a bigot and then claim that my awesomeness is representative of all atheists? Silly hollowhead, do you see where you went wrong?

    And just so you understand: your status as a shitlord entitles you to mastery over your own fecal matter, and nothing more. However, this does not mean you should then spread that fecal matter all over the web. Just stick to eating it and throwing it at your boyfriend as usual.

  126. Choobus
    July 28th, 2006 @ 4:29 pm

    By the way holopinko, I just had a look at your lame blog and was quite unsurprised to discover your blatant homophobia. So, it seems you are well versed in bigotry after all. Nevertheless, since you’re no better than Phelps and other retarded theists you can get off your high horse.

  127. Maledictus
    July 28th, 2006 @ 4:31 pm

    Hollowpenko

    Who told you that all atheist are comunists or all comunists are atheists?

    Don’t you remember to what groups were directed the Stalin’s purges?: To the party, the army and the intelligentzia where most of them were atheists. So it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that, relatively, maybe the group that was hit the hardest were atheists because the killing was no religious but political. The civil war in Russia was not between believers and atheists, but betwen red an whites with both armies full of christian orthodox. Te massacre of Kulaks was casused for collectivization of land and as far as I know atheist shave not a definite preference for that way of property. In the WW, if my memory don’t fails me, Christians orthodox very willingly supported Stalin, the same Christian Orthodox tha supported for centuries one of the most repressive monarchies in the world. In the case of Mao the same can be said, and additionally, that Mao’s principal victims in the cultural revolution were atheists. The big leap forward which killed a lot of people through famine was not for religious or political causes but pure economical madness. Den Xiao Ping, an atheist, was jailed and tortured, but once free began to dissasemble that nighmare that was Mao’s china. The holocaust even if you are of those that don’t believe in it, was clearly at the deep the result of centuries of antisemitism fueled by Christians.

    At the end the millions of victims of comunism were the result of a senseless “social engineering” which is not different from the eternal project of Christians and muslims of having heaven in earth. In this sense you forget very conveniently the massacres of hundred of years of religous wars in Europe and the middle east, which were extrimely destructive even when the machine guns and planes were not yet invented. You forget also the christian militant and priests who fought in the ranks of Nicaragua comunist revolution and in the guerrillas of Colombia. This affinity between comunism and christianism is not so strange, you can find it in the Bible (the rich and the camel, sell your assets an give the money to the poor, etc), and it is pertinent to this argument to remember the Theology of Liberation.Don forget also, the present wars in the middle east where religion is a main factor.

    Finally, I don’t believe you figures because you said that atheism was “the primary cause” of the killing on 125 million people when at the same time you say the deaths in the wars were 38 million. What does it mean “primary cause”? In this sense is not enough to quote a book, because the number you are putting on the table would make all the people who died violently en the 20th century, and many more, victims of atheism and I don’t think, for example, that the IIWW was caused by atheism. This sounds like a tipical christian nonsense. Please explain better because I have no the book you quoted.

  128. freddy
    July 28th, 2006 @ 4:38 pm

    Moreover, in addition to an MIT nuclear engineering Ph.D., I have a Master’s in Soviet Studies from Harvard, and probably know more about communism and atheism from the scientific and philosophical perspectives than you will ever know–especially given your pathetic moralizing.
    Yeah! After about 100+ posts it’s about time we had a good pissing match break out. It won’t be complete until everyone starts comparing SAT scores and the attractiveness of their spouses.

  129. Michael Bains
    July 28th, 2006 @ 5:27 pm

    Jeez man. This one is easy.

    We are matter which biologically produces energy. It only matters to us because no other critters can grasp anything so abstract.

    Get over it or not. We’re still just matter. Better make the most of it, eh. (that’s advice to me as much as anyone. {-; )

  130. June
    July 28th, 2006 @ 6:56 pm

    SteveG – your #89 was bad enough, but please tell me in #112 you did not justify your argument by the number of comments made here!

  131. Viole
    July 28th, 2006 @ 7:12 pm

    I’ve lived in Ukraine (and visited most of the territories of the former Soviet Union) for going on 13 years total–including before the collapse. Moreover, in addition to an MIT nuclear engineering Ph.D., I have a Master’s in Soviet Studies from Harvard, and probably know more about communism and atheism from the scientific and philosophical perspectives than you will ever know–especially given your pathetic moralizing.

    For some reason, you’re reminding me of the difference between knowledge and wisdom.

    So, instead of focusing on what I do or do not know about atheism (which is the genetic fallacy) and your personal opinion of who and what operated the gulags and government at large here (again, with no backup to that opinion), stay on track and face the challange I posed to you to back up your claim. Moreover, just as you blame entire faiths for the mistakes of a few (which is bigotry), I will also play that game and accuse you of implicit support of the deaths at the hands of atheistic regimes. (Have you ever read the constitution of the former Soviet Union as well as supporting documentation and enabling legistation to see what they say about the official and privileged status of atheism?)

    Yes, actually, I’ve read several of the constitutions of the former Soviet Union, including Stalin’s constitution. I wish the United States would adopt a document half so progressive. Oh, and if a nation is officially atheistic, is atheism responsible for all its acts? If so, Christianity has a pretty miserable history, considering that most of Europe has been official Christian since your religion was adopted by the Roman Empire, right on through to the enlightenment. England is still officially Anglican.

    And one last point; a constitution is paper. If no one follows it, it might have value as low-quality toilet paper.

  132. SteveG
    July 28th, 2006 @ 7:33 pm

    please tell me in #112 you did not justify your argument by the number of comments made here

    ummm…no. Where in the world did you get that from? I just found it interesting in contrast to how suppossedly empty the post supposedly was according to you.

  133. SteveG
    July 28th, 2006 @ 7:38 pm

    ugh, poor proofing…

    I just found it interesting in contrast to how supposedly empty the post was according to you.

  134. Cav
    July 28th, 2006 @ 7:52 pm

    Why is it that homophobes like holopuke are always the first ones to resort to dick measuring? Holo, you don’t have to be insecure because you secretly like it up the tailpipe.

  135. Maledictus
    July 28th, 2006 @ 8:14 pm

    Viole

    I’m curious about something.

    On what basis an State can be declared atheist?

    This doesn’t violate the right to think the way one wants?

    I can not deny to others the freedom I claim for me as atheist.

    I think the right position is a neutral state in matters of religion.

  136. Los Pepes
    July 28th, 2006 @ 8:41 pm

    Hollowpenko –

    Guess what? We all have degrees too! Whoop-dee-doo! But it’s nice to hear that you are so pround of yourself.

    Christians have destroyed every single non-christian society that they ever interacted with, with the exception of the muslims. They tried to destroy them also, but the muslims weren’t having it. You want proof? Just spin a globe… chances are, where ever you land, the people that originally lived there were fucked over by christians.

    Religion is nothing but a control structure. I repeat religion is nothing but a control structure. Every attempt at communism that this world has ever seen was just a different control structure. I am rejecting your “atheist” death toll. Josef Stalin and Pol Pot did not kill 30 million people because they were atheists, they killed them because they were egomaniacs. The atheists position of their governments simply made their authority more complete.

    It is impossible to group atheists together from a political stance. Some communists may be atheists, but not all atheists are communists, not by a long shot. I am an atheist because the god-myth is a sham, a control structure. Honestly, why would I trade a god as a higher cause for a state as a higher cause? That’s silly.

    Every benificial teaching of every religion stands up quite well without the addition of a supernatural god figure, or any magical bullshit for that matter. The bottom line is that they mix together the common-sense stuff with totally fucked-up stuff so that they can own your ass, because you have to accept it all.

    – American slave owners were good christians, who bought their “inferior” black slaves from good muslims in africa.

    – The American Indians were decimated by good christians that came here seeking to escape religious and political oppression.

    – The continents of Central and South America now all speak Spanish. Why is that?

    – It’s funny how the British and French have pretty much controlled every country in Africa at some point. Send in the missionaries! God save the queen!

  137. Maledictus
    July 28th, 2006 @ 9:09 pm

    Hey Pepe

    We didn’t include in the list how the Japanese kicked the christians out in the XVI Century. Otherwise the Japs would have had their own Inquisition.

  138. Los Pepsi
    July 28th, 2006 @ 9:10 pm

    And as far as bigotry is concerned:

    Nothing I could ever say or do could compare for one minute with the amount of insane ramblings that I have to hear whenever a theist finds out that I’m an atheist.

    I will stop when the religious stop trying to push their guilt-trip into my life, and my government stops citing their religious beliefs as a basis for their decisions (decisions that affect the public).

    You’re tired of hearing your belief system slandered? Join the club…

  139. R and All
    July 28th, 2006 @ 9:44 pm

    Holop,

    Interesting that you cite Galileo as a man of faith. He was apparently a believer in god, but god was not a believer in Galileo–god used his main man the pope to give Galileo a good fucking for having the temerity to discover some facts about the solar system.

  140. Choobus
    July 28th, 2006 @ 9:46 pm

    holoretard, you really do put the anal in banal don’t you.

  141. Christ D
    July 28th, 2006 @ 10:11 pm

    I was reading Afarensis via UTI where the discussion is on tribal dynamics. This quote seems to sum up all atheist/religious discussions that I have read:

    “Ridicule and scorn are powerful boundry maintenence mechanisms (Failure to perform the role assigned to a particular status can actually make one sick). Boundry maintence mechanisms serve to keep us separate from them. The problem is that there is some leakage. Ideologies and world views become less pure as “we” meet and mix with “they” so boundry maintenece mechanisms provide a fence to keep “us” in and “them” out”.

    http://tinyurl.com/n4e6u

    I have enjoyed reading everyones comments. Many of you seem to have studied the history of religion closely. I have dabbled over the years, but usually find my attention flagging. I have never taken gods seriously; I was physically chastised for laughing at the ham-fisted Sunday school teaching. But there is so much else to read/ponder/experience to waste too much of my finite time with fantasy prone adult children and their closet monsters. My apologies is this is perceived as athread jack.

  142. June
    July 28th, 2006 @ 10:45 pm

    SteveG – I meant your #89: “I can not pretend to live a purposeful, meaningful life while at the same time believing that it is nothing more than a purposeless, meaningless accident.”

    Well, stop pretending. Seems simpler (in the sense of Occam) than inventing a God.

  143. Choobus
    July 29th, 2006 @ 12:13 am

    # 136: holofuckhead get’s totally reamed . sweet.

  144. PirateJay
    July 29th, 2006 @ 1:41 am

    You’d think that someone who has a PhD in nuclear engineering from MIT *AND* a Masters from Harvard would have better things to do with his time.

  145. bernarda
    July 29th, 2006 @ 2:50 am

    “Am I talking to the same Steve G that so lucidly argues that our conceptions of Christianity as cruel, heartless, irrational and so on are mistaken, projections of our own prejudices? And may we not do the same with your and RA’s view of materialism?”

    Historical evidence shows that xtianity is cruel, heartless, irrational. Wars, torture, inquistions against “heretics” are the substance even of xtianity for 2000 years. Some posters have already given a few examples, but hundreds of others are easy to find.

    As the papal legat said at the seige of the Cathars in the French town of Bezier, which was about half catholic, “kill them all and god will know his own.” Then 20 to 30 thousand people were massacred.

    Many of you have probably heard of the Opium Wars in China in the 19th century. What were they? Well, it was the xtian British who attacked the heathen Chinese. What was the Chinese offense to the British?

    They had laws against the imports and use of opium in China. The British started the wars to open up the Chinese market to their opium sales, opium they produced in their Indian colonies. Opium then became a major health problem in China. An early example of xtian capitalist global trade.

    As Mark Twain said, “As Christ died to make men holy, let men die to make us rich.”

  146. a different tim
    July 29th, 2006 @ 5:47 am

    To be fair, I’m not sure xtianity was much to do with the opium war, whose actual causes you’ve so accurately described.

    I’ve argued before that if we’re going to blame Christians or Christianity in general for massacres in, say, Mexico (and have a look at the history of that sometime….it’s more complex than you think, and the church isn’t always the bad guy it’s portrayed as) then we should hold our hands up to uncle Joe. My vote is neither – people will always find an excuse to do bad shit. My argument with Christianity and religion in general is that it’s factually wrong. I’m not remotely interested in a body count pissing contest.

    We can’t afford a double standard on this one (or anything else). Apart from anything else, it gives theists an open goal which even Holopupenko can see.

  147. a different tim
    July 29th, 2006 @ 5:48 am

    To be fair, I’m not sure xtianity was much to do with the opium war, whose actual causes you’ve so accurately described.

    I’ve argued before that if we’re going to blame Christians or Christianity in general for massacres in, say, Mexico (and have a look at the history of that sometime….it’s more complex than you think, and the church isn’t always the bad guy it’s portrayed as) then we should hold our hands up to uncle Joe. My vote is neither – people will always find an excuse to do bad shit. My argument with Christianity and religion in general is that it’s factually wrong. I’m not remotely interested in a body count pissing contest.

    We can’t afford a double standard on this one (or anything else). Apart from anything else, it gives theists an open goal which even Holopupenko can see.

  148. a different tim
    July 29th, 2006 @ 5:50 am

    arse. double post again. fix this shit!

  149. Viole
    July 29th, 2006 @ 7:50 am

    Mal:

    The simple answer would be ‘the same thing that makes a state Christian.’ That is, an official religion or, in this case, official atheism. Of course, as I already mentioned, it is perfectly possible for a country to ignore a constitution, or any founding documents.

    Of course, I have to agree with Los Pepes. Stalin, and similar dictators, massacred people in the name of their own power–the exact same as religious dictators. The major difference is that religion is far more effective than atheism at making people kill each other.

  150. scathach
    July 29th, 2006 @ 9:01 am

    I truly appreciate the forum you have sponsored. I’ve met some very excellent atheists there and made some friends.

    Your anti-abortion rhetoric, illogical and judgmental as it was, I’ve tried to ignore.

    But this prideful, supercilious ignorance is far more offensive than anything else I’ve ever seen on your blog.

    So which part of your “bubbling cauldron of cranial soup” would you choose to give up, since there is so much more than that going on in the you that is you? Be careful, you may want to read one of those silly neuroscience books before deciding which group of synapses in your cranial soup you could part with without losing your sense of “I”.

  151. Brian Macker
    July 29th, 2006 @ 9:03 am

    Viole,

    Of course, I have to agree with Los Pepes. Stalin, and similar dictators, massacred people in the name of their own power–the exact same as religious dictators.

    I’m sorry but I disagree. It is precisely the ideologies involved in Christianity, Islam, and Communism that allows these dictators to massacre people on such enormous scales. Furthermore if you break things into atheist vs. religious dictators you are not getting the big picture. Those “atheist” dictators were not free from any ideology that would inherently generate violence. I can think of no more obvious way to generate massive enslavement and death than the ideology of Marx. Christianity was the same way for the very longest time. There were beliefs that were tightly coupled with Christianity that lead them to murder millions upon millions of people for the good of there own souls. Likewise Islam, which seems to still be in its most virulent stage with no hope of ever changing. How do you change a religion founded by a mass murderer to be peaceful?

    The major difference is that religion is far more effective than atheism at making people kill each other.

    If you admit that communism was a atheist ideology then I don’t see how you can believe this. If you add up atrocities by Mao, Pol Pot, Stalin, and Castro there is just no catching up with them. That’s somewhere around 100,000,000 murdered for the sake of a faith based ideology. Faith based because there is no scientific reason for thinking Marxism is true. The key to understanding this is that it was Marxism that resulted in the death count.

    Denying the idea of property rights is bound to cause strife. The whole purpose of property rights is to allow people to coordinate their resource usage plans and to prevent conflict. The inevitable result of destroying property rights is reduced satisfaction of needs and increased strife over the control of resources. A communist is nothing more than someone who advocates stealing everyone’s stuff, throwing it in a big pile and having everyone fight over it.

  152. Brian Macker
    July 29th, 2006 @ 9:58 am

    I have a very hard time believing that this post by RA was written by an atheist. It is so full of what are typically religious style errors. His post was nothing more than one long straw man argument. I don’t know of any atheist who has ever taken this position as RA has stated it.

    It is absolute nonsense to think that brains are merely “bubbling caldrons of cranial soup”, that we are “slowly-decaying heaps of steaming matter”, or “proverbial robots made of meat”. You know I used a pitchfork on a slowly decaying heap of matter in my yard, my mulch pile, and I find little resemblance to any humans, let alone animals in my life.

  153. Tenspace
    July 29th, 2006 @ 10:19 am

    Brian, this is what he gets for not participating in the forums and having constructive arguments with people of all walks, of all levels of knowledge.

    Raving Atheist, we would welcome your contributions in the forums. A civil debate between you and Rhinoqulous, AJFuchs, A Different Tim, or even the resident theists like SteveG or Quaker would provide education and entertainment for all.

  154. Brian Macker
    July 29th, 2006 @ 10:20 am

    Erik,


    I also hate to turn this around on you, but, assuming for the sake of argument that materialism is true, wouldn’t you be even more depressed if you realized that the only way you enjoyed life was by tricking yourself into believing something that isn’t true? I’d rather go about just trying to enjoy the experience. Which is what I do.

    All this talk of steak and especially this statement got me thinking about that first Matrix movie. I haven’t read past this post to see his reply but I think this is a very valid objection, so you shouldn’t hate to turn it around on him. If you remember the first Matrix movie there was a traitor named Cypher, played by Joe Pantoliano, who meets with Agent Smith to cut a deal.

    Cypher: “You know, I know this steak doesn’t exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize? Ignorance is bliss.”
    Agent Smith: “Then we have a deal?”
    Cypher: “I don’t want to remember nothing. Nothing. You understand? And I want to be rich. You know, someone important, like an actor.”

    I find such thinking ethically reprehensible.

  155. Brian Macker
    July 29th, 2006 @ 10:23 am

    Tenspace,

    Since you are on. I made a long reply on the 4D visualizing over on the other article. I was too busy before to keep the conversation going.

  156. Viole
    July 29th, 2006 @ 10:34 am

    Brian;

    You should find it ironic, then, that the person you’re addressing happens to be a communist, and in fact studied the Soviet Union, China and Cuba for precisely that reason. Curiously enough, I have never advocated stealing anything from anyone, and certainly not fighting over it.

    I’m beginning to think the absurd dung-throwing competition you had with Choobus in a previous thread was not so much a result of his obscenity, but rather you being an insufferably annoying goon. I had sympathy for you at the time, if only because I don’t find Choobus to be all that amusing myself.

    In fact, I do not even accept that communism is an atheistic philosophy. Castro’s multiple attempts to make peace with the Pope(John-Paul, not Ratzinger) should disprove that, though Cuba is a secular state–much like the US. At most, you can attribute the deaths you quote above to communism itself–not atheism.

    Unfortunately, I don’t really feel like arguing with you right now. Very well, then; atheism is responsible for ten times the number of corpses than every religion known to man combined. Atheists are, in general, viscous, blood-sucking murderers, who live only to rape children and massacre Christians. Thank God for George ‘Jesus’ W. Bush.

  157. Brian Macker
    July 29th, 2006 @ 10:58 am

    Tenspace,

    The sad thing is that I sort of know where RA is coming from. I have come to terms with all these questions and frankly they don’t trouble me. Issues of purpose, conciousness, self, etc. I was tempted to fisk this entire article but frankly I don’t have enough desire to do so. Almost every sentence has commited some form of error. Perhaps we can do a group fisk. I’ll start with the first sentence:

    Christian humility is a frequent target of atheist scorn.

    No it’s actually their lack of humility that we scorn. They believe that they have arrived at the absolute truth of the universe without putting a lick of effort into the project.

    Contemptible, they say, is the notion of humans as miserable, wretched, sinning creatures trembling in awe of God’s undeserved love.

    It’s not contemptible because it shows humility. It may be contemptible for other reasons.

    Yet atheists sometimes express, perhaps unintentionally, a form of self-degradation far more pitiable than that devised by any believer. This attitude recently surfaced in a comment to my discussion of the creation and recurrence of the self:

    Have you ever considered that this thing you call “I” doesn’t really exist, at least not in the way you seem to think.
    Modern neuroscience has shown that everything about our personality is directly connected to the brain. A little more serotonin here and you have a happier person. Enough damage there and a person is no longer able to feel compassion. We know we can control a person’s emotions and personality with drugs. As yet, there is NO evidence that our personalities come from anything other than the physical structure of our brains and the interplay of our synapses with chemical neurotransmitters.

    So this “I” may be nothing more than a construct of the brain for the purpose of survival of the entire organism.

    How can people think of themselves this way?

    Because of the humility of being able to accept what you are based on evidence. Which shows far more humility than believing that an all powerful God created the entire universe for the sole purpose of creating “you” so that he could be loved by you.


    I despair at those explanations which reduce us to nothing more than slowly-decaying heaps of steaming matter, to the proverbial robots made of meat.


    You know. I’m getting tired at this point. The only thing here that is a slow-decaying heap is your argument. Who believes this? Nobody, except perhaps you. Even if someone believed this how is this any worse that believing in a universe designed as a “mind game” in which the ultimate reward is frying in hell for eternity (a fate far worse than anything the materialist world presents) or living for an eternity knowing that others are frying in hell?

    I really cannot continue.

    This post reads like arguments I’ve seen a thousand times by theists. It’s been addressed. I don’t believe you came to your atheism by any sort of rational thought process. I think you are one of those “angry atheists” who never thought things through. I knew one at work. He was a former Jew who hated his father. He had emoted his way to his atheism. I then met a christian girl who made him happy and now calls himself a “born again” christian. Silly considering he was a Jew.

    RA, Furthermore I will remind you that you have violated your vow once again. You admit it and then you flippantly denigrate those you are offending with your intellectually dishonest attacks:

    By now many of you may have tired of my seeming hypocrisy, of my evasive, mealy-mouthed, quasi-theistic mystical pandering. But again, who have I upset or irritated? A bubbling cauldron of cranial soup?

  158. June
    July 29th, 2006 @ 11:26 am

    I have been hoping someone would analyze TRA’s post as a coded message, such as used to be forced out of POWs used for propaganda by the Vietnamese or North Koreans.

    Remember the USS Pueblo, whose crew was captured and their photos and confessions published by North Korea? Several middle fingers were subtly extended as a special greeting, and look at this excerpt of Commander Bucher’s public “confession” [see Wikipedia under USS PUEBLO]:

      “The absolute truth of this bowel wrenching confession is attested to by my fervent desire to paean the Korean People’s Army Navy, and their government and to beseech the Korean people to forgive our dastardly deeds unmatched since Attila. I therefore swear the following account to be true on the sacred honor of the Great Speckled Bird.”

    Commander Lloyd Bucher is buried at Ft. Rosecrans, San Diego. I visit his grave every year, place a flower on it, and (subtly) give him the middle finger. It is the highest honor I can give this American hero.

    Anyway, TRA reads like Bucher here, full of obvious style errors and logical absurdities. There is some reason why TRA is writing nonsense. Can you find it? Please read his post again, slowly, without your standard a/theist bullshit filters. Just skim over the words — what themes do you hear behind the words?

    — Christian humility is contemptible, as is their notion of humans as miserable, wretched, sinning creatures — [HE NEVER DENIES THIS]

    — Atheists are sometimes even worse — I get sad when people think of themselves so low — [SHAPE UP, A-HOLES]

    — Even though I seem to be evasive or mealy-mouthed, I continue to believe in you — you are real people to me, not just comments — [I HAVE NOT CONVERTED?]

    — I concede that matter may well be essential— [OF COURSE MATTER IS ESSENTIAL – THIS IS A FAKE CONCESSION – A FAKE POST]

    — truth — must be delivered in Form Incarnate —
    [THERE IS NO SUPERNATURAL TRUTH. WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET.]

    As I said in #37, this is superb parody and I am sticking by TRA.

  159. RDB
    July 29th, 2006 @ 12:16 pm

    *Yawn*

    I’m deleting The Raving Atheist link from my bookmarks.

    Maybe when all this BS from RA is over I’ll hear about it elsewhere and know it’s finally worthwhile to check back in again.

    Fortunately, the list of informative and amusing atheist sites is large and growing.

  160. Brian Macker
    July 29th, 2006 @ 12:18 pm

    Viole,

    You know what. I’ve found that many people including you lose there ability to read once their ox is gored. Read it again:

    If you admit that communism was a atheist ideology then I don’t see how you can believe this.

    Absorb it. Understand it. Now it seems to me that you not only didn’t comprehend that sentence but any of the others. I don’t think that atheism is responsible for ten times the deaths. I think communism is. Be aware that by communism I mean the political kind associated with Marx, not the Hutterites.

    Although Marxism is explicitly materialist I always found it strikingly similar to Christianity. I have heard claims that it is not really atheistic, but frankly it seems like wishful thinking on the part of atheists. It really doesn’t matter to me one way or the other. So I can accept it as atheistic in nature and move on with my life. I see no reason why Christians could not feel the pull of the economic errors in Marxism while rejecting the materialist claims. Why not, they are not exactly known for being rational?

    Curiously enough, I have never advocated stealing anything from anyone, and certainly not fighting over it.

    So are you claiming to have never advocated Marxist ideology? See the problem is that claiming that other people don’t have the right to their property is pretty much the same as advocating that someone else steal it. It’s a round about way of doing it but it is equivalent. Sort of like the way some people use to advocate the position that other humans were subhuman as a way of justifying their enslavement.

    What you don’t seem to understand is that property right serves purposes regardless of whether you recognize those purposes or not. One of those purposes is “plan coordination” which in and of itself reduces conflict. The second purpose is specifically the reduction of conflict itself. If one advocates a philosophy that is anti-property rights then of course you are advocating something that increases conflict. Just because you are unaware doesn’t make you fully innocent. At the very least you are guilty of gross negligence in not finding out why other people are so hung up on property rights, why so many judicial systems are based on it, and why many religions support it, not to mention the US constitution.

    Now there are many different types of communists and some do not advocate the elimination of other people’s property. They merely advocate the collectivization of their own property. I have no problem with such communists.

    Furthermore, Viola, based on your statements I am starting to have a low opinion of your critical thinking skills here. How the hell you interpreted my statements the way you did is beyond me.

    Furthermore, you don’t seem to be fully aware of what goes on around you. There was no dung throwing “between” Choobis and myself. The dung throwing was unidirectional. I objected to his dung throwing and as expected he started throwing dung at me. I sometimes choose to make what I know are futile symbolic stands against behavior I find disagreeable. You apparently are more than willing to sanction such behavior if you don’t like the victim. I personally am not enamored of some of the people Choobis throws his dung at but I still find the behavior appalling.

    My problem with communism isn’t some unthinking bigotry. I have arrived at my opinion of the philosophy by a very intellectually honest process. I can understand being a communist if you are young and naïve, going to some college with a bunch of Marxists professors who feed you only one side. However, if you are older then I think you have some deep intellectual flaws if you can persist in your belief.

    You find my behavior appalling. That’s a joke. If you believe in Marxism then I find your beliefs appalling. How can you hang on to and find appealing a system of belief that indirectly results in the deaths of millions? If you want to get on the right path then read a book like “Marxism” by Sowell. I found the thought put into your last post appallingly lacking in any honest effort other than to lash out at me for insulting Marxist religion.

  161. Brian Macker
    July 29th, 2006 @ 12:22 pm

    For the nitpickers, “their” not “there”, etc.

  162. Paul
    July 29th, 2006 @ 1:31 pm

    June wrote “As I said in #37, this is superb parody and I am sticking by TRA.”

    But the parody may be *too* good if no one understands it as a parody. This can be just as much a mistake and a problem as doing a poor parody. Either way, and even if TRA is not parodying, he’s is screwing up big time.

  163. June
    July 29th, 2006 @ 3:08 pm

    The only time in several years I have seen TRA be serious is on abortion. On religion, he jerks everyone this way and that, to see how they will react, to squeeze a laugh out of life.

    Imagine someone with a 135 IQ whose brain has discarded Santa Claus for excellent reasons suddenly saying OH YES, WHAT HAVE I BEEN THINKING. SANTA IS REAL AND HAS A WORKSHOP AT THE NORTH POLE. YEAH, THAT’s RIGHT, THAT MUST BE IT.

    Which of you, theist or atheist, would reverse his/her philosophy based on such skinny evidence as the “universal truth of mathematics”. Every programmer knows that 1 + 1 = 10, and you have 101 fingers on each hand. TRA is a lawyer; he knows that truth and justice is relative, and logic is a glove that fits or doesn’t, depending on who screams the loudest.

    At the very worst, TRA is having an attack of existential loneliess, and trying present the very best case he can for religion. Hang in there TRA, the good news is that this is as bad as it gets!

  164. Maleditus
    July 29th, 2006 @ 4:13 pm

    June

    I don’t know if your conspiracy theory is right, but if I were a Christian I will be very suspicious about this sentence:

    “The immutable laws of the universe may require that for Truth to be received by humans it must delivered in a Form Incarnate”

    Let see: Can a believer speak of “immutable laws of the universe”?

    Since god can change laws at will, there is not such things as inmmutable laws, only god is immutable

    “Form Incarnate” with capitals, is not Christ?, if so, Christ in no way is, for a Christian, the result of The Immutable Laws Of The Universe (TIMLOTU) since Christ is GOD, who controls the laws of the universe. On the other hand, YOU, June, are a Form Incarnate delivered by TIMLOTU since you are constitued by quarks who are ruled by TIMLOTU

    And for the truth, the only truth that TIMLOTU can deliver are the phisical laws, unless god decides otherwise.

    If you were right, it would be a bloody joke to the christians and a crude violation of his commitment if this commitment exists.

  165. June
    July 29th, 2006 @ 4:51 pm

    “it would be a bloody joke to the christians ”

    OF COURSE! YOU ARE GETTING THE DRIFT!

  166. SteveG
    July 29th, 2006 @ 5:47 pm

    Erik
    That is why I think what you really mean all along is that you yourself cannot be a materialist and not be hypocritical,

    I think there’s a good bit of truth in that. And on further reflection, I find my answer about the steak question rather stupid (it was given in haste while trying to multi-task at work) and inane.

    On further reflection, the ‘hypocrisy’ doesn’t relate to the inability to not be able to enjoy the chemical reactions happening in my mouth, but about the incongruence of my dreams, values, joys (not pleasures) when considered against materialism. I realize that isn’t a problem for others (i.e. Noah), but those ‘larger’ things make no sense to me in the materialist light. That’s what I was driving at.

    Hope the makes more sense even if you don’t agree.

  167. Erik
    July 29th, 2006 @ 7:06 pm

    Steve,

    I actually didn’t think your answer was stupid. I think it is a natural conclusion that dreams, values and joys are qualitatively different from tastes or smells or the experience of pain, but the challenge that will be more persistently faced by non-materialists is where exactly does that qualitative difference lie. The converse, of course, is true for materialists, but I’m fairly sure which direction the mounting evidence is heading.

  168. Kreme
    July 30th, 2006 @ 12:03 am

    … about the incongruence of my dreams, values, joys (not pleasures) when considered against materialism. I realize that isn’t a problem for others (i.e. Noah), but those ‘larger’ things make no sense to me in the materialist light. That’s what I was driving at.

    I see those things as simulations of virtual worlds produced by a biochemical computer, much like you’d find in a real computer whenever you run a video game for example. It’s a way of modeling various environments to test either ideas you may find troubling, or to induce whatever sentiments the organism experiences on a daily basis, but within a safer environment within the mind. Another way to see dreams is as screensavers run while the body dedicates itself toward running other tasks.

    Values are setup by people to function within society, to allow people the ability to distinguish between what is beneficially pleasing to the organism, and what isn’t. I see no difference between joys, and pleasures, so regarding those two terms I don’t understand what you’re trying to refer to. Joy is a state of pleasure. Pleasure can be felt through joy.

  169. Godthorn
    July 30th, 2006 @ 11:03 am

    I will scrap most of my pre-composed reply, since Kreme answered it beautifully. I’ll just add that dreams are largely the bowel movements of the mind, which is pretty close to what he said. As to joys and pleasures, I think you’re simply separating mental pleasures from more overtly physical ones.

    Aside from the mystery of consciousness, I have found no reason to be mystified by any aspect of human thought, sentiment, aspiration or self-delusion. It is all survival and the striving to enhance one’s existence. I accept it for what I think it is and strive to make the most of it.

    It is because some cannot accept it as it is, or as enough, that gods and heavens are required.

  170. SteveG
    July 31st, 2006 @ 7:41 am

    Kreme/Thorn,
    Can you really have thought that I meant ‘dreams’ in the sense of the mental imagery during sleep? I suppose I should have been clearer. When I used dreams in that statement I meant it in regard to hopes, aspirations and the like.

    And as for the suggestion that pleasure and joy are synonymous, it’s certainly only my opinion, but I don’t think your view could be more mistaken.

    Certainly pleasure can be enjoyable, but it is not the same as the type of joy I have in mind. I have in mind something which is both deeper and more pervasive than a simple sense of satisfaction after indulging in a pleasurable endeavor (maybe peace of mind is possibly a better description?).

    In addition, while I acknowledge pleasure as a wonderful thing which is often enjoyable (even intensely so), over indulgence can lead to something far from joy. The crack addict certainly finds pleasure in his fix, but I hardly think the result would be something most of us would label as a state of joy. In fact, for the addict it is as likely to be the opposite state of despair they find themselves in.

    And the converse is true as well. There can be enjoyment (even joy) got from an activity that is not particularly pleasurable. Training for a marathon, donating blood, risking life and limb to save someone else: all things which in and of themselves are not pleasurable, but which can lead to a sense of satisfaction that is quite enjoyable (joyful).

    You might object that this is simply trading one lesser pleasure for some ‘larger’ pleasure, but in claiming as much, you admit there is no simple one to one correspondence between pleasure and joy, and in fact the subject is far more complex.

  171. Thorngod
    July 31st, 2006 @ 8:19 am

    Steve G- In my original reply (not posted) I questioned your meaning, forgot to note it in my abbreviated one. But dreams in the sense you iintended are in the same category as joys, and joy, though not synonymous with pleasure, is closely related. They arise from the same impulses and are realized in the same physiological effects. The fact that some pleasures can be sadistic or otherwise negative has no bearing on the relatively superficial differences between pleasures and joys. Various gradations of both pleasure and joy can be made, so that the one incorporates into the other. Aspiration, for instance, is closely akin to joy, but has a connotation of a more mental quality. Joy is a somewhat sublimated pleasure.

  172. Severalspeciesof
    July 31st, 2006 @ 9:14 am

    SteveG

    My apologies for post #98. I was in a hurry, was in a train of thought, and because of the rush, my train of thought quickly became a train wreck. I shouldn’t speak for other people, and you are right in saying you didn’t call Noah a hypocrite. I assumed that you thought Noah was thinking the same way as you were/are in regards to materialism/purpose. But I do like my comment on appreciation, and if one thinks very very hard about it… ;)

    I am warming up to June’s take on RA’s post, I just hate to think things through as is evidenced by my post #98.

  173. SteveG
    July 31st, 2006 @ 9:27 am

    SeveralSpecies:
    No problemo. I like your comment as well, but I had to think very, very, very hard about it before I did….;)

  174. reconciled
    July 31st, 2006 @ 3:30 pm

    RA,

    If you think you are more than matter, why are playing games here. You stir it up and then watch it spin, you like doing that don’t you? You like to hurt people, don’t you?

  175. Kreme
    August 1st, 2006 @ 3:49 am

    Excellent things to consider SteveG.

    Hopes, apirations, and the like not only serve as coping mechanisms to reason excuses for why it’s good to partake in menial tasks, or babysteps which someday accumulate to acheiving a satisfactory state in life. They are destination points, or goals one formulates to make life better not only for the self, but for possible future progeny as well. Of course I look forward to a day when people won’t resort destroying eachother over ideological megalomania. Of course I look forward to times when space travel, and discovery of life on other planets is little more than the latest accomplishment for understanding.

    Peace of mind can still be achieved through naturalistic means. Peace of mind requires little more than simple meditative stress-relieving willing mental action, accompanied with healthy diet, and exercise. Join a sport, watch a comedy, have some laughs, kick back, relax and let go of unecessary stress. To add buzz to life, also try going out, and testing yourself, opening yourself to new exciting environmental experiences, etc. Sometimes it’s as simple as just being happy.

    I agree overindulgence can be a bad thing too. As I’ve stated, too much unhealthy stressing, or abuse on something you know to be physically damaging to your person is something you probably wish to avoid. Dimishing sometimes damaging returns, and exhaustion are a real effect on us as physical creatures. So I don’t recommend the crack, smoking, even sex if it becomes too much of a damaging obsessive compulsion. So, as with drinking, practice certain joys in moderation. The key thing to take note of here SteveG, is that even as a physical creature, you’re still responsible for your well-being. The element of choice, even if perhaps only illusory is still unavoidable. However, choice starts in plans you formulate in your mind to setup a sturdy positive lifestyle.

    And the converse is true as well. There can be enjoyment (even joy) got from an activity that is not particularly pleasurable. Training for a marathon, donating blood, risking life and limb to save someone else: all things which in and of themselves are not pleasurable, but which can lead to a sense of satisfaction that is quite enjoyable (joyful).

    Completely agree. Sometimes we appreciate joy more only because we can distinguish it from the pain underwent to accomplish a goal (joy). But even during the training, the sheer thought of accomplishment from training can be joyful.

    You might object that this is simply trading one lesser pleasure for some ‘larger’ pleasure, but in claiming as much, you admit there is no simple one to one correspondence between pleasure and joy, and in fact the subject is far more complex.

    Of course! I’m not saying the natural universe, and our lives in it aren’t complex.

  176. Godthorn
    August 2nd, 2006 @ 12:01 am

    Steve G– On rereading your post #68, I realized that you had (apparently unconsciously) answered your own question: “There can be enjoyment (even joy) got from…things which in and of themselves are not pleasurable, but which can lead to a sense of satisfaction that is quite enjoyable (joyful).”

    QED! -Thorngod.

  177. Ilíon
    January 9th, 2009 @ 2:18 am

    Exactly (I speak of Rave’s OP).
    And thereby do we know that atheism is refuted; is, in fact, self-refuting.
    For, WERE atheism true, THEN there can be no “I” anywhere. Yet, there is an “I.”
    The question “Exists a God?” is not “merely” a theological question, it is rather a question about the very nature of reality. It is, in fact, the First Question — for all other questions we can ask (and thereby all other answers we can arrive at) depend upon the answer we give to this first question. If we answer the First Question wrongly, our understanding of reality must necessarily be incorrect, in contrast to being merely incomplete if we answer the question rightly.
    There are only two possible answers to the question: ‘Yes‘ or ‘No.’ And the correct answer is ‘Yes.’ And here is how we can know-without-possibility-of-error that ‘Yes‘ is the correct answer: if ‘No‘ is the correct answer, then there are and can be no such things as free-will, or selves. And many other such things, besides. But there are selves and there is free-will (the two are but different ways of speaking of the same entity, are they not?). Therefore, ‘No‘ is *not* the correct answer. Further, we can know that this God-who-exists created the world (and all that is in it).
     
    Gentle Reader may be asking why I say: “WERE atheism true, THEN there can be no “I” anywhere” and “Further, we can know that this God-who-exists created the world.” That is, we can know that there exists a God and that he is the Creator of the physical world.
    This is simple; a proof by contradiction. In fact, those two claims turn out to be related, and they go back to what I said about the question of whether God exists being a question about the very nature of reality.
    The physical world exists; we all (unless we are playing at sophistry), atheist and Christian alike, accept this as a given. But, we cannot prove it, for we seem to be unable to step “outside” the system — any “proof” we attempt will be circular. So, I do not propose to prove that the physical world exists; it is an axiom.
    But, why does the physical world exist? Even if one can never know the precise answer that *that* question, whether in terms of cause-and-effect (i.e. non-rational) causes or of ground-and-consequent (i.e. rational) causes, one can still make true statements in regard to the question.
    For instance, either:
    a) the physical world exists because it was/is intended to exist
    b) the physical world does not exist because it was/is intended to exist.
    This statement is, of course, a tautology, and it doesn’t yet tell us much of anything. There are doubtless other tautological statements we can make in regard to the question of why the physical world exists, but *this* one can help us determine whether a Creator-God exists … if we are unwilling to think critically.
    Consider again the tautology, specifically part a). This claim is not a cause-and-effect explanation (or pseudo-explanation) for why the world exists; rather, it is a ground-and-consequent explanation; it asserts that there is a reason, and not merely a cause, for the existence of the world. Similarly with part b), except that b) asserts that there is no reason, but merely (at best) a cause that the world exists, or even not even a cause at all (e.g. the world exists because it exists).
    To assert that a thing exists because it was/is intended to exist is precisely to assert that there exists a mind/self/agent/will/ego who exists ontologically prior to the thing and whose intention it is that the thing exists. Part a) of the tautology is, in fact, another way of stating two of the foundational claims of Biblical religion (and perhaps of a few others): 1) there exists a mind/will/agent/self (i.e. a immaterial Person!) ontologically prior to the physical world, 2) who willed/wills the physical world to exist.
    Part b) of the tautology encompasses any and all denials of part a), including atheism; definitionally, atheism must logically deny part a) of the tautology.
     
    So, why do I say that it is simple to prove that part a) is true? Because, if we assume that it is not true, that is, assume that part b) is true, then all sorts of absurdities begin to shake out. And, since we cannot rationally accept the absurdities, than rationally and logically we must reject part b), which means that rationally and logically we must accept part a) as being true.
    NOTE: this is not offered as a proof of all the claims of Christianity, but rather as a proof that atheism, the denial that there exists a Creator-God, is easily seen to be self-refuting.
     
    Here are my assumptions:
    1) the physical world (time, space, matter/energy and the relations/interactions between these) exists
    2) No one willed/wills the physical world to exist.
    So, with these simple (and fundamental to atheism) assumptions in place, what my we learn?
    Firstly, we see that *all* phenomena existing in the world must be fully explicable in physical cause-and-effect (i.e. non-rational) terms, without remainder. That is, even if there are any ground-and-consequent (i.e. rational) explanations of any phenomenon, they are superfluous; rational explanations may be interesting, but are quite unnecessary.
    For, given the two assumptions above, if we deny that *all* phenomena existing in the world are fully explicable in physical cause-and-effect (i.e. non-rational) terms, without remainder, then we are in fact positing either that:
    1) there *do* exist immaterial rational minds, after all; or,
    2) matter particles are themselves rational minds
    And at once, we have an absurdity machine.
    Since *all* phenomena existing in the world must be fully explicable in physical cause-and-effect (i.e. non-rational) terms, without remainder, this means that even mental phenomena are fully explicable in physical cause-and-effect (i.e. non-rational) terms. Without remainder: there can be no “ghost in the machine.”
    But, if mental phenomena are actually but physical/material phenomena, then mental phenomena do not actually exist: you do not actually think thoughts; you do not actually acquire knowledge; you do not actually hold beliefs; you do not actually make choices; you do not actually will or act; you are actually neither conscious nor self-conscious. All these and other such words we use denote but illusions and/or delusions … except that there is no one entraining the delusions.
    If mental phenomena are actually but physical/material phenomena, then mental phenomena do not actually exist; the human mind does not actually exist. You do not actually exist.
    But you do exist, and you know that you exist. You are conscious, and you know that you are. You are and agent, and you know that you are. You do think, and you know that you do. You do possess knowledge, and oyu know that you do. You do will and act, and you know that you do.
     
    The denial of these and other things which you *know* to be true follow directly from denying that there exists a Creator-God. Since the denial of these these things is absurd, you *know* that the denial from which they logically follow is absurd. Therefore, you, Gentle Reader, *know* that there exists a Creator-God.

  • Basic Assumptions

    First, there is a God.

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