The Raving Theist

Dedicated to Jesus Christ, Now and Forever

Thank You for Your Prayers

July 4, 2006 | 97 Comments

You know who you are.

I am grateful, although I cannot say why without breaking a promise.

To the rest of you, Happy Fourth of July.

Comments

97 Responses to “Thank You for Your Prayers”

  1. choobus
    July 4th, 2006 @ 1:53 pm

    No problem RA. I will continue to pray to the FSM for you.

  2. Zeemy
    July 4th, 2006 @ 2:14 pm

    I seem to remember something from church about honesty being a virtue. What is the point of continuing an atheist blog when you are no longer an atheist, but refusing to admit that you are no longer an atheist? Wouldn’t it be more honest to be upfront about your conversion? I don’t criticize your conversion, just your apparent lack of honesty regarding it.

  3. Trudy
    July 4th, 2006 @ 2:18 pm

    Hi,

    I’ll pray that you will follow truth wherever it may lead you. May you have all the charity that you desire, and the courage and integrity that you will need. May your journey lead you to an abundance of love and joy, heaped up and overflowing.

    Trudy

  4. Matthew of the Holy Whapping
    July 4th, 2006 @ 2:45 pm

    I am glad to hear it. Know that you are on my prayers.

  5. The Judge
    July 4th, 2006 @ 2:52 pm

    Ingore Choobus and all other followers of false hoods like flying spaghetti monsters and jeebus. It is the invisible pink unicorn who giudes and strengthens us in our quest for enlightenment and solace in this unicorn-blessed life.

    Praise be to IPU – the one true (horny) god

  6. Holopupenko
    July 4th, 2006 @ 3:06 pm

    RA:
         NEVER stop seeking truth. NEVER. No matter to where the evidence leads you, ALWAYS seek truth. My only prayer for you is only that you don’t give up: keep going, stay the course, be brave, listen to your heart and mind for they cannot be separated. NEVER stop seeking truth.

  7. Choobus
    July 4th, 2006 @ 3:14 pm

    This is a public service announcement: anyone thinking about visiting holopupenko’s website shoud skip it. Not only is the layout disturbing to the eye and very poorly designed, but the content rivals that of a portable toilet at a large outdoor chile eating contest. The retarded arsehole you see here is but a shadow of the cocksmoking shitsucking dad-wanking moron portrayed there.

  8. PhalsePhrophet
    July 4th, 2006 @ 3:20 pm

    Happy 4th to all, and may our superior science and technology protect the troops until SOME MOTHERFUCKER can find a way to bring them home.

    Top 10 reasons for RA’s behavior:
    1.Truly converted (me thinks not)
    2.Made promise to loved one (for whatever reason)
    3.Death threat(s) (credible, not just God’s)
    4.Government indictment/pressure (big brother lurks everywhere)
    5.Terminal illness (interfering with rational thinking)
    6.Midlife crisis (interferes with everything)
    7.Tired/ Time Demands (lighten the load)
    8.Financial (options abound)
    9.Pure shenanigans (moral of story, other shoe drops, lesson taught)
    10.Plain fucking crazy (aren’t we all)

  9. Gathercole
    July 4th, 2006 @ 4:50 pm

    I’m thinking of a word. The first three letters are W, T, and F.

    And props to Choobus for being the first one to weigh in on the last couple of posts. I’m happy when there’s a new post, because that means a new response by Choobus. Since the author of this site is no longer described by the term, all hail Choobus, the new Raving Atheist!

  10. Crosius
    July 4th, 2006 @ 5:34 pm

    After I stopped calling myself an agnostic, I stopped thanking people when they told me they were, “praying for me,” or that “God” was “,watching over me.”

    Prayer is useless. Worse, it’s a useless activity that is devoid of useful product. At least, if the person said, “I danced to evoke positive energy for your situation,” they’d be getting some cardio.

    Kids get it: they paint you a picture or make you a card.
    Even dogs will sit with you and offer you companionship when you are down. They both make a meaningful attempt to make you feel better. Acts that embrace the reality of the human condition.

    Prayer is just spinning in place. It’s contribution neutral.

    Worse, It’s often a platitude without authenticity. I don’t really believe that every person who says, “we’re praying for you.” is actually praying for me – I think it’s frequently lip-service – something they think they’re supposed to say to make a situation more tolerable, like saying, “I’m sorry,” to the bereaved. A rote statement that is code, essentially, for, “we’re here for you.” (but why not just say that?)

    Prayer just adds to your current situation the burden of being polite to a person who just told you they spent some time doing nothing useful because they thought it would help you out.

  11. Facehammer
    July 4th, 2006 @ 6:06 pm

    Happy anniversary of your separation from the greatest empire the world has ever seen.

    Also, heed not the words of The Judge. All the dark and terrible knowledge of the Universe will be revealed to you on the day Cthulhu eats you.

  12. Lily
    July 4th, 2006 @ 6:39 pm

    I have to disagree with my friend, Choobus. Holopupenko, I visited your blog and found it very interesting, indeed.

  13. sdanielmorgan
    July 4th, 2006 @ 7:24 pm

    RA,

    You didn’t thank me for my raindance on your behalf. Damn you.

  14. Thorngod
    July 4th, 2006 @ 8:15 pm

    I didn’t bother to check out Holopupenko’s website, but looked at his profile. A “Gemini,” huh? So am I, though that means nothing at all to me. And unless I forget my Christian teaching, it is supposed to be out of bounds (along with sorcery and such) for Christians. Do you believe in astrology as well, H?

  15. Thorngod
    July 4th, 2006 @ 11:08 pm

    The best prayer I ever heard, and the only prayer that makes any sense to me, is only six words: “As we fare, so may others.” I’ve never heard a Christian say one that short, that simple, or that unselfish. All those I’ve heard–and having lived my entire life in a thoroughly Christian environment, I’ve heard prayers aplenty–have concentrated largely on blessing those present and thanking the Great Provider for concentrating his blessings on those assembled. It almost “blows my brain” to hear a Christian praise God for saving him/her from the death and maimings that He allowed to be visited on those poor turds nextdoor or two cars ahead, or to thank God for helping him or her through a minor financial setback–during the period of which another hundred thousand children has starved to death. Jesus J. Christos! Does each one of these self-centered fools think God counts him/her as more worthy of rescue or blessing than ten thousand of their fellow humans? Well, keep those prayers and supplications coming, folks. Jesus just shakes his head, but Gabriel and Michael find them hilarious.

  16. Lily
    July 5th, 2006 @ 1:59 am

    That isn’t a prayer. That is nothing. It costs nothing and it is ambiguous, to say the least. If you aren’t “faring” well, is that what you wish for others?

    Honestly, you keep saying that you were raised in the faith. I don’t see it in your notion of what prayer is.

    Our relationship with God is personal. It is right to give him thanks in all things. Even things you dismiss as being of no account.

  17. Holopupenko
    July 5th, 2006 @ 2:11 am

    Choobs:
         Thank you for the free advertising! If you check out my site’s meter, you’ll notice yesterday’s (and probably today’s) visits spiked to their highest values in about a month. Again, thank you. You are a perfect example of God using evil to bring about good: the best response to the only rational argument against the existence of God, i.e., the problem of evil.

    Lily:
         Thank you for the kind words. However, please don’t focus on me: if there’s anything positive my blog contributes, it is not of itself—it comes not from me. I only hope in some small way to reflect and pass on the real Source of good. Choobs isn’t struggling against me but against a straw man and his own demons. In the same sense, our battle isn’t with him or other atheists (Eph 6:12). We must continue to speak the truth no matter what comes our way.

    Thorngod:
         As far as I can tell, I have no control over Blogger adding the zodiac characteristic to my profile. (As for sorcery, you may refer to my post from Monday on this topic.) If I could remove it, I would. Maybe you would be good enough to suggest how, if it is possible… after you respond to the question of why you grasp at such measly straws by making such unsubstantiated assumptions. Is that all your atheism has left you?
         Also, for an atheist to recommend to the studio audience what they believe is the best prayer (i.e., imposing a disordered understanding of what prayer should be) is silly. Lily is correct: that is no prayer—it is at best a sermon or a lecture. How about this Scriptural example as a candidate for the best prayer: “Lord Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner” (the prayer of the publican Luke 18:13). Original sin and its consequences are an empirically verifiable Christian doctrine: just open your eyes and look around… starting with me.

  18. The Judge
    July 5th, 2006 @ 4:36 am

    Holo-head-pupenko:
    It’s amazing how your myopic litle mind works. Of course there’s no such thing as bad publicity but the people that are ratcheting up the hits on your patheic litle blog are probably mostly atheists because – believe it or not – you posted on an atheist blog visited mostly by…atheists! Consequently these hits prove nothing about your “god” neither about the quality of your blog. They are simply hits. For fucks sake, the NAMBLA website gets hits from people that aren’t pedophiles – doesn’t mean it a “success.”
    If you took the time to actually think about things maybe you wouldn’t make yourself look so stupid.

  19. Choobus
    July 5th, 2006 @ 4:43 am

    holy fucking mary,
    mother of God,.
    I don’t think I’ve laughed so much.
    (God bless my my Knob)
    for long time
    so special
    just check out your site \
    it’s proof that lord Jesus
    WILL endorse Shite.
    Ramen, mother fucker
    Ramen.
    Ramen mother fucker
    Ramen,
    Harry Raman harry harry
    Harry potter, potter ramen
    Potter Harry Harry Harry
    Areshole.

  20. Holopupenko
    July 5th, 2006 @ 4:44 am

    Judge:
         Of course. Did I ever state or even imply that the spike arose inspite of the atheist factor? Also, without providing clearly empirical evidence to the contrary, how do you KNOW only atheists visited my site? How about Lily? Now, who would you say looks stupid by not thinking things through?
         In any event, I thank you for proving my points and arguing in the best way possible against atheism–by your very MO in the best insecure spirit of Choobs. PLEASE continue to spout your hatred… and I will continue to thank you by pointing out to others a clear example of what atheism is largely about.

  21. Thorngod
    July 5th, 2006 @ 4:45 am

    “Original sin”? Holy shit! I keep trying to credit present-day Christians with better, clearer vision than their fuzzy forebears. I honestly had thought that “Original Sin,” though still an official doctrine of Holy Church, had become too embarrassing and too weighty a stone in the Christian’s bag of bullshit. Are you still whipping your daughter every night or so because her great-grandmother was a whore? Holy fucking shit! From what cess-pool did you dredge your grey matter? And you people wonder why Choobus is so foul-mouthed?

    Holopupenko, I have no need to grasp at false straws when I have an entire straw dog to pluck. If I was misled by your profile, I regret that, but that was not my fault (Well, I suppose if we have to factor in Original Sin, it may have been my fault that your profile designated you a Gemini. Goddamnit! In spite of all my maneuverings, I can’t shake that Original Sin!).

    Holopupenko, for the time being, at least, I’m only going to vouchafe you one more comment: I wasted a very lengthy reply to you on RA’s “Malice” entry. Read it if you wish. Frankly, my idiot friend, I’m certain you’ll be wasting your time as well!

    Hey, Lily! Come on, Lily! If we aren’t faring well, we’re not going to use that one! We’re going to pray, “Father, why hast though forsaken me?” And should we not so pray? Are we not to pray after Him?

    “My” prayer “costs nothing”? What does a prayer cost, Lily? Is not a prayer to relieve cost? –Or to enhance gain? “My” prayer seeks to level cost and equalize gain. It is not a traditional Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hinduish, Me-Youish sort of prayer. It is (true enough, Lily) not a “prayer,” but only a simple wish. As to cost, Lily, we all pay–some one way, some another.

    “Raised in the faith”? Oh, yes, Lily, I was indeed. It was my ambition, until my epiphany, to be a missionary, and bring heathens to Jesus. I had a close, personal relationship with “God” and Jesus, and all my prayers were fervent, heart-felt and certified “Delivered” by the Holy Ghost. And guess what, Lily: I wasn’t raped by a horny Priest, or deserted by holy-roller parents, or in any other way mistreated by any of my all-Christian relatives, guardians, teachers or friends. My epiphany was not a traumatic guilt-trip on a road to Damascus; it was a sudden realization that occurred at a summer Church Camp at Massanetta Springs, Virginia–spurred by a very simple question asked by a lovely raven-haired lassy I couldn’t keep my eyes off but was too timid to even speak to–a question directed by her to the class teacher, named Bob Brown, who had a hair-lip and smoked a pipe, and was my peer-group’s best-loved Sunday School teacher–a simple but incisive question that I devoted more than my accustomed attention to only because of it’s lovely source–and Bob Brown answered (approximately) “Yes, that’s one of the thorniest problems in the Protestant tradition.”

    A problem? In my religion? But…. But…! This, Lily, is how enlightenment begins. And it is oh, so serendipitous! And surely so, so rare. Whether or not it leads to a near full or only partial discovery of truth, it is as much as any worshipper of truth could (if he could pray) pray for. Until I was 15, my god was a “God.” Since, my god has been truth. It is not as certain a substantiality, but it is whatever truly is. I will bow to nothing else.

    Lily, you’re a lovely person. I am confident of that perception. I hope you are well and prosperous. I do not wish to disposess a suffering believer of his or her imaginary friend. If I were the “God,” the world would be very different. Living things would not need to feed upon each other in order to survive. If you were the God, Lily, you also would “mold it closer to the heart’s desire”–but you are not so presumptious or so blasphemous as I. Fare thee well..

  22. Lily
    July 5th, 2006 @ 7:22 am

    Thorn:
    Thank you for being so open. I don’t think I have seen such honesty on this site before.

    What you have written strikes a very deep chord in me and, I think, in every thinking Christian (yeah, yeah, I know…).

    I have the impression that you think that we, or most of us, have never experienced what you did:

    A problem? In my religion? But…. But…! This, Lily, is how enlightenment begins. Enlightenment, possibly. But also, as in your case, estrangement. I suspect that this hits young people who were raised in the faith the hardest. But all of us, I assure you, come to this point.

    People tend to forget or dismiss how much the young think and feel and try to understand the world. I can remember, taking hours long walks on the beach (this was in Florida before all the beaches were privatized, sigh) when I was 14, trying to think through the whole dilemma of the world as it is and as it ought to be.

    In my case, Christianity seemed too pie-in-the-sky, too dismissive of the very real suffering out there. Plus, I, like everyone else, had seen what I thought was rank hypocrisy (and sometimes was) among those who believed. This was particularly so growing up in the civil rights era in the south (well, ok real southerners don’t accept Floridians as southerners but the native Floridians certainly were).

    The thing is, the very notion you don’t seem to understand (original sin) did, eventually, make sense to me. Original sin means nothing more than that humans are born with the propensity to sin. It has nothing to do with beating one’s daughter because granny was a whore (huh?? where did that come from?). Original sin explains very well why we long for a perfection that we are so unable to attain.

    I think the ripest candidates for losing their faith are those who have never grappled with the question of suffering– which is to say those who have never given much thought to what they believe and why. It was just this that I was alluding to in another post when I wrote that there are people who sit in Church and go to Sunday School for years who never really wrestle with the faith and make it their own.

    It strikes me that an awful lot of atheists here are in that boat; in fact many of them have said that they became atheists in their teens. They think they know it all and know what they rejected but that is unlikely to be true.

    You also said If you were the God, Lily, you also would “mold it closer to the heart’s desire”–but you are not so presumptious or so blasphemous as I. I am too fully aware of my own limitations to want to play God for even a moment. But, I won’t kid you, I have often thought about how I would improve things, if I could. Improve, meaning, of course, doing away with such pesky notions as chastity, charity, etc.

  23. Holopupenko
    July 5th, 2006 @ 7:34 am

    Lily:
         Beautifully put… you should have a blog of your own. I’m too much of an in-your-face curmudgeon to handle it the way you did. Regarding original sin, the points I raise in the comments section of the post found here: http://reasoningrepaired.blogspot.com/2006/04/moral-relativism-vs-embracing-cross.html.

  24. Lily
    July 5th, 2006 @ 7:49 am

    When you know me better, Holopupenko, you will find me a true sister… in more ways than one!

  25. JUST_ANOTHER_PRIMATE
    July 5th, 2006 @ 8:13 am

    HA HA – RA must have been entrapped into some sort of pro-life intervention last week.

    They probably clamped his eylids open (like Alex in “A Clockwork Orange”) and forced him to watch 72 straight hours of photographs of bloody fetuses and he cracked —— it was bound to happen —– the angst he must have suffered all these years … an atheist and a prolifer … it’s just too much for anyone to bear.

    It’s just as well – it is really more the debates between those who visit the site that (can) make it interesting.

  26. The Judge
    July 5th, 2006 @ 8:20 am

    Hollow-head-poop-enko:
    I did not say the demographic proved anything – I merely stated that claiming hits on a shit blog says nothing about ” ‘god’ using evil to bring about good.”
    Learn to read and you might get somewhere.

    But may I also take this opportunity to thank you for proving how blinkered, bigoted, self-righteous and sanctimonious xian assholes really are.

  27. Xianghong
    July 5th, 2006 @ 8:43 am

    O-M-MF-G

  28. Dada Saves
    July 5th, 2006 @ 8:58 am

    Lilly wrote, “When you know me better, Holopupenko, you will find me a true sister… in more ways than one!”

    And I just threw up a wee bit in my mouth.

    A special prayer following chunder:

    ‘Choobus grant me the profanity
    to repel the Jeetards I cannot change;
    anal to ass-poon the ones I can;
    and wisdom to know the difference.’

  29. Tom
    July 5th, 2006 @ 9:29 am

    Isn’t there something rather ironic about the tone and the content of the Judge’s comment (#26)?

  30. benjamin
    July 5th, 2006 @ 9:40 am

    Prayers are useless. Perhaps RA still understands this, and he thanks theists for wasting their time praying as opposed to actually getting involved in the world around them and manifesting change. Who knows what those crazy bastards would be compelled to do if they didn’t feel satiated by prayer.

  31. reconciled
    July 5th, 2006 @ 10:05 am

    The Atheists are just scared. They feel there is more to the world than just what they can prove and they feel something behind this more. But they don’t want to except it. If RA is converting that strikes at their core and takes away some of the post they were leaning on. Just ignore the foul insults it is a normal reaction to change.

    Please pray for the non-believers to have their eyes opened to the truth. They are hurting much more than they show. Remember even Thomas (from the bible) was a doubter and he walked with Jesus.

  32. Dada Saves
    July 5th, 2006 @ 10:16 am

    “But they don’t want to except it.”

    No, reconciled: we really do want to except it. And by the way, my confused friend, those of us who know you also know that when you say “Atheists are just scared” we know you are referring to yourself. Give it a little time: you have nothing to fear but Franklin Roosevelt.

  33. reconciled
    July 5th, 2006 @ 10:24 am

    Dada Saves,

    You are right, I don’t deny it. I am an atheist. I don’t believe in the Christian God. I used to. I was dunked in the water and all. I am scared and confused. I am speaking from experience in the matter.

    If a person believes then they should NOT search any further it only causes pain. Keep that in mind if you plan on converting to any belief, once you do it is soooo painful to loose that belief.

    Having said all that: IF there is a God who created us all, then surely He has a place for us all in His love.

  34. June
    July 5th, 2006 @ 11:42 am

    “IF there is a God who created us all, then surely He has a place for us all in His love.”

    Not so fast, my faithful friend. You are projecting the love you feel in your heart onto a divine tyrant who has shown capacity for massive rage in the past. It’s just as possible God is sick of the shit we are flinging around like little monkeys.

    Let’s assume God, a nice old pipe-smoking Santa Claus figure who “loves everybody” created the world about 10,000 years ago. And he takes one look at all that has happened. It’s quite possible that he might just sweep all of this off the table and either give up or start over.

    And if Jesus is right there, at his side, Jesus might say something like: “You know Dad, I was with you for a while. I didn’t care for the circumcision part – you never mentioned that. I went along with the gag of the nails through the hands. But look at what they have done with the world we made for them. The world is on fire, and they are sitting there, whacking off to 1 billion porno sites. I say we plow the whole thing under and plant some nice roses.”

  35. reconciled
    July 5th, 2006 @ 12:07 pm

    June you are a typical asswipe christian

  36. reconciled
    July 5th, 2006 @ 12:12 pm

    by the way I know you are not christian, but you sound it considering you can’t read what I wrote.

  37. The Judge
    July 5th, 2006 @ 12:33 pm

    Trust me Reconciled, there’s such a strong community on the forums that even if RA’s apparent “conversion” proved to be true, there are others willing to do what is necessary to preserve our sanctuary. There are a fair few techie-minded individuals willing to set up shop and host the forums elsewhere if necessary so I’m afraid your assumption that “fear has been struck to our very core” is misguided and incorrect.
    Personally I think the RA is playing out a prolonged joke – but who knows?… either way I’m not “scared.”

  38. Lily
    July 5th, 2006 @ 12:44 pm

    June:
    I think you are in grave danger of conversion. Anyone who feels the way you do is ripe for it.

    It makes no sense to look at the world and be angry at the way it is, if there is no God and no meaning to any of it. Things are the way they are. We are born, we scrape along, one way or another, and then we die. End of story. What is to get mad about? Shaking your fist at a silent universe is a futile gesture.

    But of course the universe is not silent and your anger at the way the world is makes perfectly good sense, since that is not the way it is supposed to be.

    Maybe, there is an answer near at hand.

  39. Oz
    July 5th, 2006 @ 1:19 pm

    Lily, you’re misinterpreting the problem of evil. I think your belief clouds your perception here, and I’ll tell you why. The problem of evil is not about complaining about the world, it is a disproof by contradiction. Of course it makes no sense to complain to nobody about things that can’t be changed, and that’s not what we’re doing. We fully recognize that the universe is the way it is and probably could not have been different. But then, we’re not the ones who believe in a being who loves us and can do anything. Our arguments are comparisons to a hypothetical world run by a god with the attributes you claim, and through this comparison we prove that the god in question does not work here.

  40. HappyNat
    July 5th, 2006 @ 1:20 pm

    Lily, you are classic. Your glass is so half full it is overflowing.

    In response to your post #22, it isn’t that I (and others) found one problem with the Chrisitanity when I was 15, it is that I’ve found problem after problem that can’t be explained through anything but faith. I’m not going to praise something and kiss its’ ass to get into the “good people club” after I die, if their story has as more holes than a hunk of baby swiss.

  41. Lily
    July 5th, 2006 @ 1:23 pm

    Reconciled:
    It is unlikely that you are an atheist. You would not be feeling so conflicted, if you really were. I want to assure you that going through a black period, a “dark night of the soul” as many mystics have experienced, does not make you a “former” Christian. If talking it over with someone would help, please feel free to send me an email (mystic_mechthild@yahoo.com).

  42. June
    July 5th, 2006 @ 1:56 pm

    Lily, I couldn’t possibly go back to believing in Santa Claus, much as I may regret that there isn’t one. You see, for a true atheist, conversion is impossible, since there is nothing to convert to.

    And the anger we feel (which TRA once felt, I am sure) is that humanity wastes so much energy yammering for a savior who never comes.

  43. jahrta
    July 5th, 2006 @ 2:09 pm

    I don’t know why every christian thinks that atheists live empty, angst-filled lives. The only angst i feel is attributed to being a helpless spectator to the surreal events unfolding within this democracy-turned-theocracy we call America. Theists often confuse or divert the atheist’s frustration toward them and their desire to enact policy based upon their superstitions to a concept that the atheist is instead “mad at the universe” or better yet, “mad at god.”

    I’m not mad at the universe, or god, as he does not exist. I am mad at humanity for its ineffible and unwavering proclivity and capacity for stupidity and self-destruction. Religions of all stripes deal in this type of activity – indeed their traditions are steeped in it. Atheists often choose to go by the somewhat less controversial monicker of “secular humanist” because it gets to the heart of what atheism is really all about, while managing to side-step the superstitious misconceptions of the movement: the rights and progress of humanity must and should always come first in any enlightened society.

  44. Lily
    July 5th, 2006 @ 2:13 pm

    June:
    Are you sure that you are an atheist? Your anger is still inexplicable, given a silent universe that can only be what it is.

    Why does humanity “yammer” for a savior, if there isn’t one? Where could that idea come from? Even if it is a “waste of energy”, so is everything else in a meaningless universe.

    So why are you angry at those who spend their meaningless lives “yammering” for a savior? What can it possibly matter?
    What would you rather that they yammer for?

  45. Thorngod
    July 5th, 2006 @ 2:17 pm

    “Scared,” RECONCILED? If you’re HIV positive or have cancer or MS or type one diabetes or such, you have some reason to be afraid, and I sympathize with you. But if you fear for your “soul,” or fear death (not dying, but “Death”), relax. If in truth there is any after-existence that in any way resembles one of those many fantasized by the spirit faithers, it is very different than any of them imagine it to be, and not a one of them is certain of how to go about assuring himself or herself of a first-class ticket or luxury accomodations at the Eternal Resort. The fantasy of a “God” who is the “All,” the “Absolute,” the creator of all that is, and who, out of some objectless “love” or an infinite “lonliness,” was moved to invent you and me and the other “creatures” here, solving the limited space problem caused by his lurid sex-and-regeneration scheme by decreeing that we and other species must kill and devour each other in order to survive, is the most insane concoction ever assembled. And that’s just the bare stage set. Bring in the “soul” thing, infinitely valuable jewels he creates, one each of which he inserts in every human born (thus corrupting the jewel but giving it’s victim some slender chance of saving his harried and hungry ass from the lions, and his “soul” from the eternal torture that may lie ahead), and if you tell me you can believe in such a scheme of things, and that the “God” who thought it up did so because he was about to explode from the love he was experiencing for the creatures he had not yet begun to fashion–well, my brother, you should consign these notions to a deep, secret recess of your heart and forever keep silent about them, for such a narrative is too, too insane to air in the company of rational minds. (I’m well aware, of course, that I neglected to reference the fictions of “free will” and “predestination” and a few other complications; also “Original Sin,” which has come to be defined in the latest revised version of the Book of Eternal & Changeless Truth as quite a different concept than it was when first pronounced against Adam’s descendents.)

    “Scared,” RECONCILED? Of that? Of utter nonsense? You should be giddy with amusement! A god that silly and incompetent is as certain to fuck up his Heaven as he obviously did the world he allegedly made for us. If you’re worried about your “soul,” reconciled, I’ll sell you mine. Then, at least, you’ll have a double shot at–at what? Make me an offer.

  46. Nokot
    July 5th, 2006 @ 5:08 pm

    Lily in #22: “It strikes me that an awful lot of atheists here are in that boat; in fact many of them have said that they became atheists in their teens. They think they know it all and know what they rejected but that is unlikely to be true.”

    I think you have it abolutely backwards. It is the theists who claim to “know it all”– how we exist, what is the purpose (if any) to life, the nature of god, what god wants of us, etc. Their answer to the big questions is “God did it” or “God said …” The atheist is someone who doesn’t believe that “God did it” is a reasonable sort of answer. They answer the questions with “I don’t know.”

    Lily in #43 to June:
    “Are you sure that you are an atheist? Your anger is still inexplicable, given a silent universe that can only be what it is.”

    It’s odd to me that you read anger in what June wrote. I didn’t think June sounded the least bit angry. It could have been something that I wrote, if I had been ranting imprecisely. So, I will reply to the rest of the comment, as if I were June.

    “Why does humanity “yammer” for a savior, if there isn’t one? Where could that idea come from? Even if it is a “waste of energy”, so is everything else in a meaningless universe.”

    I’m not sure I agree that “humanity yammers for a savior.” But I would agree that many people search for a purpose to their lives. I do not know why people have this tendency. It’s an interesting question, I imagine, for people who like to study how humans think. Regardless of the answer, a human desire does not logically suggest the existence of the object desired. For example, I may desire a cold beer from the refridgerator but open the door to find I already drank the last one.

    As to the “waste of energy” and “life is meaningless” comments. Christianity isn’t the only game in town. Secular people are not all nihilists and can believe in a purpose to life without believing in any gods.

    “So why are you angry at those who spend their meaningless lives “yammering” for a savior? What can it possibly matter?
    What would you rather that they yammer for?””

    When I am angry, which by the way is not terribly often, it is not directed at those “yammering for a savior” but those “yammering” to make their beliefs into law without any secular justification. I am only “angry” at those “yammering for a savior” incidentally because of their supporting role to those yammering to implement their theocratic laws. But really, it would be incorrect to characterize me as angry.

  47. Lily
    July 5th, 2006 @ 5:37 pm

    Ah Nokot: The fact is– there is a beverage that corresponds to your desire for it and it is not negated by your finding none in the refrigerator! More seriously, all our needs seem to correspond to something. We get hungry and there is food. We get thirsty and there is water. We get … uh … the urge to reproduce and there is sex. It seems like there is something that corresponds to all our needs.

    Well, I don’t want to press this analogy too far but I do think that it is highly suggestive.

    It is impossible to believe in purpose and not believe in God (let us stipulate in this context that God is a title and refers to a supernatural being that is the creator of everthing that is, seen and unseen) Purpose in a random universe is meaningless and cannot be.

    While you may not be angry, June is. And that is just about the surest sign there can be of a spiritual battle going on. Anger at a random universe is pointless.

    Oz I do not wish to minimize the problem of evil. It is a huge problem to everyone who can think empathetically about the human condition. But I am also not willing to concede that it is a deal breaker, so to speak. This is such a serious and complex topic that it needs its own thread.

    I would be interested in hearing more from you about why you think it is a disproof by contradiction.

  48. the smartest one
    July 5th, 2006 @ 7:03 pm

    TRA:
    A good mix of 2 mgs. of Clonazepam and a good amount of ethylic alcohol will give you this kind of high!

    Happy 4th of July/’06

  49. Thorngod
    July 5th, 2006 @ 7:04 pm

    Evil? A problem for sure–but not the question of its origin. I’ll give you that in one brief sentence: The universe is not charitable toward warm protoplasmic bodies. Therein lies the reason for all strife–which is the engine for evil. All human/animal world questions are answerable in natural terms (which, of course, is not to say that all questions have been answered). It is when one attempts to account for something in spiritual terms that we find ourselves contending with contradictions, absurdities, insoluble paradoxes, and each other. But take a close, honest look at the nature of life, and ask yourself then the nature of the architect who allegedly designed it. We had all, theist and atheist alike, better hope that there is no God.

  50. PhalsePhrophet
    July 5th, 2006 @ 7:08 pm

    Holopupenko said: “We must continue to speak the truth no matter what comes our way”.

    And then I find this quote at Holopupenko’s blog: In the name of atheism, far more people have been killed—in a far shorter time—than by all religions combined.

    Are you just pulling this shit out of your ass? I couldn’t take the rest of the site even half serious after reading that crap. Then you go on to quote Aquinas, CK Chesterson, and Ghandi: plus you live in the Ukraine? No wonder you’re a fucked up and confused christian.

  51. Christ D
    July 5th, 2006 @ 7:44 pm

    Why must there be a transcendant meaning to the universe for us to find meaning in our individual lives?

    I have been atheist for as long as I can remember. My family was Lutheran- the rigid wing, whatever it’s called- but fortunately I was taught to read early so the Sunday school ear banging was ineffective. All that they were about was stopping thought, but I was encouraged early to think. When they started in, I went inside my mind for the hour. When I was eight years old I told my parents I wasn’t going to go again and that was the end of the indoctrination.

    As an adult I made an effort to study the various religions available to us. several strains of Christianity, Judaism,Islam, several strains of Buddhism, as well as taking a thorough comparative religion course. I could see that the various religions all had some useful ideas, unfortunately wrapped tightly in rigid dogma and cant.

    For me the threat of heaven or the promise of hell has never been necessary for me to treat other people kindly or respectfully. From my personal observation over the years, True Believers, more often than not, are less tolerant of ambiguity and more inclined to gloss over subtleties in personality of people who do not follow their own special interpretation of their book. Religious are not the only people who react this way, of course. In my more reactionary days I was like that too. But I still would never trade the ambiguous uncertainty of never being able to know everything than the certainty that through stopping thought I can pretend that I do.

  52. SteveG
    July 5th, 2006 @ 9:51 pm

    It is when one attempts to account for something in spiritual terms that we find ourselves contending with contradictions, absurdities, insoluble paradoxes, and each other.

    So materialism is free from such trifles? Mind if I push in on that a bit? So molecues are made of atoms. Atoms made of subatomic particles (protons, electrons, and nuetrons).

    And what are particles made of? Strings? Maybe. Maybe not. Let’s say for the sake of argument that it’s yes. What are strings composed of? Something more fundamental? Or is it turtles all the way down?

    Either way, you’ve got a mess on your hands. Either it’s an infinite regress of elemental material, or it’s ‘nothing’ at bottom. No absurdities there, eh?

  53. June
    July 5th, 2006 @ 9:59 pm

    Apparently believers have a need to paint atheists as angry, confused, and almost ready to convert.

    As to “yammering for a savior”, that’s a word picture that came to me when I thought of the many primitive societies that invent some sort of god who will come to save their skins, and offer precious gifts such as livestock and virgins to persuade or assuage him. In the case of Christians, the sacrifice is the son of the god himself, whose body is then consumed.

    Of course, the fact that the pain of losing an “only begotten son” is a human projection gives the whole “parent figure” game away.

  54. June
    July 5th, 2006 @ 10:11 pm

    Just saw the movie ‘Superman’. If you need another example of “humanity yammering for a savior”, there he is, complete with (1) a Holy Family and (2) a stand-in stepfather and (3) a savior with superpowers and (4) the father of the savior who “is well pleased with his son” and (5) a Resurrection.

    PS: In a wonderful play on words, Marlon Brando plays Superman’s father, and – of course – Brando’s defining role was [… wait for it…] the GODFATHER.

    Lily, I am ready to convert. I want a cape like him and stop bullets with my eyeball.

  55. Kreme
    July 5th, 2006 @ 10:58 pm

    Either way, you’ve got a mess on your hands. Either it’s an infinite regress of elemental material, or it’s ‘nothing’ at bottom. No absurdities there, eh?

    It’s absurd when you expect presumption, or belief alone as all the explanation necessary. I have no problem if it is shown to be elemental particles all the way down. If it’s not, I leave it as is. What I don’t do is make up metaphysics to fill in a story of my liking, expecting everyone to take my imagined word as truth. Doing so contradicts the very idea of being honest.

    I’m with June. Superman powers it is. Superman’s great super-crystalline descendants “created” subatomic space.

  56. SteveG
    July 5th, 2006 @ 11:40 pm

    I have no problem if it is shown to be elemental particles all the way down.
    Explain how this can be shown. Instead of reacting, think about it for a moment. If it’s a reality, it’s one that is unprovable. Do I need to explain why?

    If it’s not, I leave it as is. What I don’t do is make up metaphysics to fill in a story of my liking, expecting everyone to take my imagined word as truth.

    But see, that’s exactly what you do.

    If it’s not an infinite regress, what you are saying is that the particle simply IS and is not made of something else, but made of ‘nothing’, or made of ‘itself’. My God who says I AM is irrational, contradictory, paradoxical; but your particle that declares I EXIST is reasonable? Nonsense!

    Either option you choose, you are basing your fundamental premise on something no less ‘metaphysical’ than we. You either base it on something ultimately unprovable, or on an element that simply exists because it exist and we must then ‘leave it alone’.

    Sorry, but unless you come up with a better explanation, I am not buying thorngod’s and your line that ONLY the spiritual finds itself faced with the paradox of the universe itself.

  57. Thorngod
    July 6th, 2006 @ 12:17 am

    Gee, STEVE G, I provided a parenthetical admission that the scientific method, which has provided the light you brush your teeth by, the computer you’re blogging on, the television set that brings you Pat Robertson’s brilliant sermons, the aspirin that eases the headaches we atheists give you, and so much else that makes your modern, technified life better than any heaven Jesus could have dreamed of, has still a ways to go before answering all the questions. (Frankly–another parenthetical admission–I have a modest doubt that human inquiry and science will ever get to the bottom of those turtles.)

    I may be mistaken, Steve G, but from some of your phrasings I suspect that I don’t need to explain the scientific method to you. And I also suspect that you know very well that it’s just a more methodical application of ordinary sensible thinking. You probably even know that string theory, unlike the much-maligned but solidly established theory of evolution, or the theory of gravitation, has not yet been certified by the scientific community, and so remains more a “theory” in the popular sense of that term than in the scientific sense. If you want details, you need to read elsewhere (as I suspect you already have) because I’m already devoting too much of my time to this blog.

    And what is the “paradox of the universe”? I’m not conversant with that one. It must be one of those spritual conundrums, such as the famous question of how many angels can dance on the head of my penis. I have answered that one: All of them!

  58. Kreme
    July 6th, 2006 @ 4:02 am

    This post will add to Thorngod’s

    But see, that’s exactly what you do.

    If it’s not an infinite regress, what you are saying is that the particle simply IS and is not made of something else, but made of ‘nothing’, or made of ‘itself’. My God who says I AM is irrational, contradictory, paradoxical; but your particle that declares I EXIST is reasonable? Nonsense!

    It’s not nonsense to examine you dissecting out, or even just recognizing all the particles in your body. The particle just is; it has nothing to say more than merely just being in its own evident state. Is it unreasonable to say you exist? I’m not saying I know your full nature. I never claimed to know it, but I am saying you presume too much making up metaphysical entities. Even in regards to particles, if more precise studies begin to show different, we have don’t contest the findings of the results. However, we also don’t make them up.

    Either option you choose, you are basing your fundamental premise on something no less ‘metaphysical’ than we.

    This is a blatantly wrong comparison. The premises in science on based verifiable physical evidences. They don’t make claims into idea fantasy existences, because the moment things are revealed replicable through lab experimentation is the moment it’s understood as being natural. It doesn’t involve affirming the consequent as is done with ideas of gods.

    Sorry, but unless you come up with a better explanation, I am not buying thorngod’s and your line that ONLY the spiritual finds itself faced with the paradox of the universe itself.

    You’re slightly right. The statement needs of bit of mofication for the sake of clarity.

    Leave it as is until more can be known through future empirical research. What I don’t do is make up metaphysics to fill in a story of my liking, expecting everyone to take my imagined word as truth.

  59. Anonymous
    July 6th, 2006 @ 6:24 am

    RA, you sicken me sometimes

  60. SteveG
    July 6th, 2006 @ 6:31 am

    Thorn: I ask this very earnestly. Do you bother reading and trying to understand the comments of the people you are in discussion with?

    Gee, STEVE G, I provided a parenthetical admission that the scientific method, …[snip irrelevant rant]… has still a ways to go before answering all the questions.

    Despite your admission (which was totally unrelated to what I commented on), your next statement (which I quoted in my original comment) was…

    It is when one attempts to account for something in spiritual terms that we find ourselves contending with contradictions, absurdities, insoluble paradoxes, and each other.

    …Clearly implying that it’s only the spiritual explanations that encounter such troublesome details as insoluble paradoxes, contradictions and absurdities.

    After which I clearly showed that the atheistic/materialistic explanations are no more free from such problems than the spiritual. To the substance of that, you offered nothing, but instead went on about aspirin, Pat Robertson, and some other nonsense.

    And what is the “paradox of the universe”? I’m not conversant with that one.

    The phraseology there might be a bit overly flower and imprecise, but the issue you are faced with no less then we is the simple question…‘Why Does Anything Exist?’

  61. Kreme
    July 6th, 2006 @ 6:49 am

    The phraseology there might be a bit overly flower and imprecise, but the issue you are faced with no less then we is the simple question…‘Why Does Anything Exist?’

    To be fair, I don’t think we can say if it’s even a ‘why’ question to begin with.

  62. SteveG
    July 6th, 2006 @ 6:51 am

    Is it unreasonable to say you exist?

    Of course not, but everything we see in nature is contingent upon something else, is composed of something else. If you say you exist, we can take your components apart and see what it is you are made of, how you came about, etc.

    You want to offer the possibility that we get to the particle level and then just say that’s it. That is no more or less reasonable than positing a God who IS. And that’s really my point.

    I’m not saying I know your full nature. I never claimed to know it, but I am saying you presume too much making up metaphysical entities.

    We come by reason and logic to a proposition that God exists. We don’t simply ‘make it up’. It’s a posited explanation that many people, not dogmatically wedded to materialism, find reasonable and satisfying.

    The logic and reason by which someone like Aquinus posits a God are the same tools used to develop the scientific method. The scientific method is the servant, not the master of reason.

    Reason has developed the scientific method, and now you want to steal that tool and tell us to put reason away in examining these issues. But without reason, we have no way of assessing whether the scientific method is a useful tool or not. Since reason is in charge, I am willing to attempt to use it with and without the constraints of the scientific method applied.

  63. SteveG
    July 6th, 2006 @ 7:01 am

    To be fair, I don’t think we can say if it’s even a ‘why’ question to begin with.

    I’ve heard this line of argument before, and I don’t accept it. the question is real. It’s probably one of, if not the first question self aware man asked. I ask it, and billions of others do as well, and most people that I’ve encountered think it a fairly crucial one. Dismissing it (if I read what you are saying correctly) because you think it irrelavent is not going to take care of it.

  64. Oz
    July 6th, 2006 @ 7:13 am

    Lil, I’ll keep it short and sweet, having just gotten off the third shift: the presence of innocent suffering in this world contradicts the existence of an omnimax (omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent) god. Any excuse for suffering you can come up with, for example, suffering is necessary for some greater good, is defeated by the fact that if God is all-powerful, he can find a better way to do it. The idea that we all deserve to suffer also fails because if we are flawed, it was God who made us that way in the beginning.

  65. Erik
    July 6th, 2006 @ 7:26 am

    SteveG,

    The reason it is more reasonable to stop the levels of assumption at the atomic level than posit a god is that you end up answering no questions either way, but with the first you do not (1) unnecessarily add entities to the equation and (2) you are not then inclined to make further assumptions that cannot be justified.

    There may be contingencies as far as causes of events go, but as far as I know, there is no proof anywhere that there is any contingency for existence. If there were, you would still be stuck with the problem that if everything is contingent upon something else, then there has to be a contingency for God. To say that god has always existed is no different than saying matter has always existed, except the latter assumption is more justified per (1) above. The same is true about your question “Why?” Even if you think you’re answering that question by positing the existence of God, you simply open another question: “Why is there God?”

    I might be able to grant the believer the notion that god could exist, but that almost invariably leads to (2). It is, in my experience, almost a lock-sure certainty that the believer will take the small opening set forth above and run with it all the way to the personal god who answers prayers and metes out punishments and rewards after death. But this is a total non-sequitur. And if that in turn leads to “There shall be no federal funding for stem-cell research”, then there are real consequences to that non-sequitur.

    So I do not see any philosophical benefits to positing a god (leaving the emotional part out of it for these purposes), and some potentially serious drawbacks.

  66. SteveG
    July 6th, 2006 @ 8:13 am

    Erik,
    Excellent Post! Thanks for taking the time to think through what’s being offered and offering something truly substantial of your own.

    The reason it is more reasonable to stop the levels of assumption at the atomic level than posit a god is that you end up answering no questions either way, but with the first you do not (1) unnecessarily add entities to the equation and (2) you are not then inclined to make further assumptions that cannot be justified.

    With regard to objection (1), you say unnecessarily, but is that fair? I suppose it’s unnecessary of you don’t particularly care to explore past that point, but as I’ve indicated, it’s pretty common that thoughtful people want to push beyond. And despite the claim that it answers no questions, whether you agree or not, whether it answer the question to your satisfaction or not, many people do find that it provides a satisfactory answer.

    With regard to (2), that’s a fair enough criticism, and I won’t trying to answer it here. I am satisfied, on a site with the type of readership TRA has, if I can do nothing more than hold up a mirror to guys like Thorngod and attempt to show that at best, the foundational propositions of materialism are ultimately on no better footing than the metaphysical explanations.

    At heart BOTH have some seemingly unsolvable problems to deal with. Claiming materialism doesn’t get one off the hook.

    There may be contingencies as far as causes of events go, but as far as I know, there is no proof anywhere that there is any contingency for existence.

    Putting cause aside for a moment, where in the physical world do we see anything that is not built upon some more fundamental underlying structure(s)?

    Choobus may come in here with the sledgehammer of quantum physics and bash my skull in, but as a person who’s endeavored to understand these things to the best of a layman’s ability, I am suggesting that if you have a physical particle, but it has no underlying structures of which it is composed, you’ve presented yourself with a serious problem.

    It seems to me that the scientific community realizes this, and it seems to be the very reason behind such things as string theory. Science is constantly trying to get to the bottom of things because it seems to recognize that nothing can exist simply because it exists.

    If there were, you would still be stuck with the problem that if everything is contingent upon something else, then there has to be a contingency for God.

    But there is a difference. The physical universe has to posit a non contingent in violation of its own laws and all observation. By stepping outside of the physical universe, we step outside those laws. We are positing the existence of something that is not constrained by those laws. That offered explanation may not be satisfying to the materialist, but it’s not self-contradictory in the same way as what is being offered here. You say that there must be a contingency for God, but that’s exactly the point. We are positing a non physical that does not have to be contingent.

    To say that god has always existed is no different than saying matter has always existed, except the latter assumption is more justified per (1) above.

    But now you are bringing the concept of time in. I intentionally left that out. I didn’t say anything about always, or before. I am attempting to push ‘down’ on the physical universe as opposed to ‘backwards’.

    I think I’ve stated pretty clearly why that causes problems for materialism. Either, you are stuck with an unprovalbe infinite regress downward to ever more basic ‘elements’ (as unprovable as the concept of God), or you are stuck offering that some element is literally made from nothing.

    I might be able to grant the believer the notion that god could exist, but that almost invariably leads to

    For my part, this is more than enough, and far more than most here are willing to concede. I wish that the tone you take were dominant instead of the type of less than thoughtful dismissal Thorngod offers. It might lead to a better understanding between believers and non.

  67. benjamin
    July 6th, 2006 @ 9:21 am

    I thought Steve was beyond the proof by ignorance:
    “You don’t have all the answers, therefore god exists.”
    Also, should we find a basic building block that is not composed of smaller substructures, that wouldn’t mean it was made of “nothing” as if it didn’t exist. It would only mean that it wasn’t made of smaller substructures. So please be precise with your words. When you posit an undetectable, undefinable, supernatural entity as an answer, it is correct to call your postulate “useless”.

  68. SteveG
    July 6th, 2006 @ 9:35 am

    Benjamin:
    I thought Steve was beyond the proof by ignorance:
    “You don’t have all the answers, therefore god exists.”

    Were did I say such a thing? I didn’t offer a proof at all. I’ve done nothing more than challenge some of the assumptions made by others and attempt to hold a mirror up to what they are claiming.

    I’ve contrasted that with the explanations that beleivers offer, not as proof, but to point out that the grounds on which belief are summarily dismissed are present in materialism as well.

    Also, should we find a basic building block that is not composed of smaller substructures, that wouldn’t mean it was made of “nothing” as if it didn’t exist.

    I didn’t say it to imply it doesn’t exist, but again to point out a problem i see. How can it not be made of some other structure(s)? Everything material (as far as we can see) is made of something else? If it isn’t, then you are simply saying that this element, in defiance of all observation about the physical universe, and in defiance of the laws of physics, simply IS (as if it popped out of thin air ex-nihilo). Do you see how that is no more reasonable than positing a God who simply IS? Again, no proof here. Just an attempt to get folks to examine their assumptions.

  69. Erik
    July 6th, 2006 @ 9:50 am

    SteveG,

    I see absolutely no reason why existence violates any known or observed laws in the universe. Matter and energy are not being created anew; they are, as far as I understand, being cycled and recycled. So you have no basis for assuming that at some time, matter/energy did not exist.

    You may posit a being that is not constrained by laws; but you’re markedly close to magical thinking. This being you posit either exists or it doesn’t. How its existence isn’t contingent is impossible for you to explain; therefore, you can only assume it for purposes of argument.

    But once you take it out of any such constraints, then you also remove it from rational consideration. Therefore, you cannot make any statements about what it is or isn’t, because if you do, you would automatically be applying concepts observable by us in our universe. So again, I might be willing to concede the possibility, but I am unwilling to concede that there is anything about this entity that can be understood or proven.

    Because of this, coupled with the profound lack of the slightest shred of evidence, the existence or not of this being has utterly no effect on my understanding of the universe, giving it precisely zero explanatory value. Therefore, it is rationally discarded as an unnecessary idea. Fun to talk about, maybe, but…

  70. benjamin
    July 6th, 2006 @ 10:46 am

    If science revealed a building block for mass without a substructure, how can you say it would be “in defiance of the laws of physics”? And how can you not see that it is infinitely more reasonable to posit such an idea (a building block for observable structures) than an undetectable, undefinable, supernatural entity? Why would it be so hard for you to say “this physical entity simply exists, composed of nothing more than pure energy; energy that cannot be created nor destroyed.” WIthout a why, but it is so easy for you to say “My God simply exists without a why.” Your god adds nothing but an untestable, unnecessary level of complexity. You god starts where our answers stop. He’s been shrinking for millennia. It’s a uselss concept, and best to let it go.

  71. SteveG
    July 6th, 2006 @ 11:14 am

    Why would it be so hard for you to say “this physical entity simply exists, composed of nothing more than pure energy; energy that cannot be created nor destroyed.”

    It’s so hard because it sounds like so much nonsense. To me it appears as nonsensical as the idea of God is to you.

    So energy just IS you say, and it’s infinite and indestructible to boot? How exactly do you test its infinite existence? How exactly do you test its indestructibility?

    I am sorry, but you’ve simply swallowed one set of un-testable, unverifiable claims, and then in the same breath dismiss my own on those same grounds.

    You are just throwing up your hands to your own insoluble problem and basically telling me to shut up, sit down, deal with it, and stop asking those pesky ‘why’ questions.

  72. Lurker
    July 6th, 2006 @ 11:34 am

    I am sorry, but you’ve simply swallowed one set of un-testable, unverifiable claims, and then in the same breath dismiss my own on those same grounds.

    Rock on, SteveG! I think you need to use a bigger mirror because they don’t seem to be getting it.

  73. benjamin
    July 6th, 2006 @ 11:34 am

    Come on Steve, the first law of thermodynamics has been experimentally verified repeatedly for the last 230 years!

  74. SteveG
    July 6th, 2006 @ 12:06 pm

    Come on Steve, the first law of thermodynamics has been experimentally verified repeatedly for the last 230 years!

    Fair enough. I stand corrected on the indestructability of energy, assuming the universe is a closed system.* How that proves that energy is infinite, especially in light of BB cosmology, which posits a beginning to the observable universe, escapes me.

    *Can you prove that the universe is a closed system, or is that another assumption?

  75. Choobus
    July 6th, 2006 @ 12:28 pm

    Energy is infinite? That makes as much sense as “god is love”.

    Steve, there is a HUGe gap between the fact that at some level our knowledge of physical reality breaks down and some stories about a Jewish boy from a long time ago. You can argue for an undefined mystery at the root of reality, but how thehell do you connect that to any of the religons? The simple answer is, you can’t. That’s why you gots to have faith.

  76. benjamin
    July 6th, 2006 @ 12:38 pm

    I think what Steve meant by “energy is infinite” is that it has no beginning and no end; it’s timeless. He contrasted this with the theory of the big bang as the beginning to the universe. While energy could be infinite starting with the big bang and never ending, it may also have existed in another universe previous to the big bang, according to Penn State researchers:
    http://www.universetoday.com/am/publish/beyond_big_bang.html?1752006

    I can’t prove that the universe is a closed system. However, scientists do model the universe as a closed system.

  77. Lurker
    July 6th, 2006 @ 12:42 pm

    There is a HUGE gap between the fact that at some level our knowledge of physical reality breaks down and some stories about the material universe being all there is when we have a lot of evidence to suggest otherwise.

  78. SteveG
    July 6th, 2006 @ 12:49 pm

    Energy is infinite? That makes as much sense as “god is love”.

    Seriously, thanks Choobus. I was hoping you’d weigh in here as I was starting to feel out of my depth. Of course I was hoping that you’d weigh in on my side on that particular point rather than bash my skull in!. :-)

    Steve, there is a HUGE gap between the fact that at some level our knowledge of physical reality breaks down and some stories about a Jewish boy from a long time ago.

    I actually agree with this. Again, and again, my point here is not a proof of my concept of God, let alone Jesus Christ. It is a push back against the simplistic dismissal of even the possibility based solely on the imperfection of the explanations.

    From post #52 on, I’ve done nothing more than try to point out that materialism has some serious parallel issues of its own, or as you more clearly put it…

    ‘…at some level our knowledge of physical reality breaks down.’

    Getting from there to Jesus Christ is a different thing altogether. That I willingly admit. But the first step in getting there, if it’s possible, would be the admission of the possibility of God. And even such an admission is far from agreement.

    But before even such an admission can be made, it seems that we have to admit that to some extent that atheist and theist alike are on equal footing when it comes to this…

    [the] undefined mystery at the root of reality

    but how the hell do you connect that to any of the religons? The simple answer is, you can’t. That’s why you gots to have faith.

    I’ll concede that you are absolutely right in that some elements do boil down to this, and are not something we could arrive at via pure reason (though a good bit can be argued for purely from reason). I won’t deny that. Still, I do believe a case can be made, but it can’t be made to one who doesn’t accept the first proposition of God’s existence.

  79. SteveG
    July 6th, 2006 @ 12:52 pm

    Energy is infinite? That makes as much sense as “god is love”.

    Seriously, thanks Choobus. I was hoping you’d weigh in here as I was starting to feel out of my depth. Of course I was hoping that you’d weigh in on my side on that particular point rather than bash my skull in!. :-)

    Steve, there is a HUGE gap between the fact that at some level our knowledge of physical reality breaks down and some stories about a Jewish boy from a long time ago.

    I actually agree with this. Again, and again, my point here is not a proof of my concept of God, let alone Jesus Christ. It is a push back against the simplistic dismissal of even the possibility based solely on the imperfection of the explanations.

    From post #52 on, I’ve done nothing more than try to point out that materialism has some serious parallel issues of its own, or as you more clearly put it…

    ‘…at some level our knowledge of physical reality breaks down.’

    Getting from there to Jesus Christ is a different thing altogether. That I willingly admit. But the first step in getting there, if it’s possible, would be the admission of the possibility of God. And even such an admission is far from agreement.

    But before even such an admission can be made, it seems that we have to admit that to some extent that atheist and theist alike are on equal footing when it comes to this…

    [the] undefined mystery at the root of reality

    but how the hell do you connect that to any of the religons? The simple answer is, you can’t. That’s why you gots to have faith.

    I’ll concede that you are absolutely right in that some elements do boil down to this, and are not something we could arrive at via pure reason (though a good bit can be argued for purely from reason). I won’t deny that. Still, I do believe a case can be made, but it can’t be made to one who doesn’t accept the first proposition of God’s existence.

  80. Choobus
    July 6th, 2006 @ 12:58 pm

    Infinite energy and “timeless” energy are not the same. As Hawking has shown us time and tiume again, the concept of “finite but unbounded” is perfectly reasonable. Is this news or something?

  81. SteveG
    July 6th, 2006 @ 1:03 pm

    dang, sorry about the double post.

    it may also have existed in another universe previous to the big bang, according to Penn State researchers:

    Is a previous universe verifiable, or testable? My understanding is that it is not (correct me if I am wrong).

    Can you see what I have been trying to get at here? There is a mystery at the heart of everything that causes the theist and atheist alike to make some unprovable assumptions in order to move forward. We are in the same boat in that regard.

    When someone suggest that ONLY spiritual arguments suffer from this limitation, I have to say, I know you are but what am I! ;-)

    I can’t prove that the universe is a closed system. However, scientists do model the universe as a closed system.

    But you can’t ‘prove it’.

  82. SteveG
    July 6th, 2006 @ 1:09 pm

    Infinite energy and “timeless” energy are not the same. As Hawking has shown us time and tiume again, the concept of “finite but unbounded” is perfectly reasonable. Is this news or something?

    Sorry, that whole digression is my fault. I just went back and read Benjamin’s post and see that I misread a piece of it which caused me to make an irrelevant comment that sent us down this path. Apologies!

    The rest stands as is.

  83. Paul
    July 6th, 2006 @ 6:23 pm

    SteveG (at the end) and others wrote:

    “[the] undefined mystery at the root of reality

    but how the hell do you connect that to any of the religons? The simple answer is, you can’t. That’s why you gots to have faith.

    I’ll concede that you are absolutely right in that some elements do boil down to this, and are not something we could arrive at via pure reason (though a good bit can be argued for purely from reason). I won’t deny that. Still, I do believe a case can be made, but it can’t be made to one who doesn’t accept the first proposition of God’s existence. ”

    Hallelujah, SteveG has said it! You’re assuming what you want to prove! Yes, you *have* to make that leap of faith: a leap of faith that is unfounded, even if there is *some* evidence for it, if the evidence is ultimately insufficient, then it is an act of faith to believe it. But that means that, literally, there is no good *reason* to believe it! If it’s a game you want to play with yourself (masturbatory entendre intended), be my guest, but don’t pretend that it’s reality, demonstrated like every other thing in reality.

  84. Lurker
    July 6th, 2006 @ 6:32 pm

    Paul,
    You forgot where SteveG asked atheists to look in the mirror. Have you looked yet and do you see the game you’re also playing with yourself? (masturbatory entendre NOT intended)

    There is a mystery at the heart of everything that causes the theist and atheist alike to make some unprovable assumptions in order to move forward. We are in the same boat in that regard.

    When someone suggest that ONLY spiritual arguments suffer from this limitation, I have to say, I know you are but what am I! ;-)

  85. Kreme
    July 6th, 2006 @ 6:44 pm

    We come by reason and logic to a proposition that God exists. We don’t simply ‘make it up’. It’s a posited explanation that many people, not dogmatically wedded to materialism, find reasonable and satisfying.

    Then I disagree that we come by reason and logic to a proposition that God exists. No we don’t. Reason, and logic carry many forms, which can be premised in absurdity. Reason, and logic can conclude any number of absurdity, which is why I don’t just leave things to artistic interpretation. Until you can evidently show different, that it’s not just your personal musing, I find no reason to think there is anything beyond a materialistic existence, something still subject to further investigation.

    The logic and reason by which someone like Aquinus posits a God are the same tools used to develop the scientific method. The scientific method is the servant, not the master of reason.

    Did Aquinas replicate a God through research, and replicated physical test results? The scientific method is a reasoning tool we use to verify natural processes.

    Reason has developed the scientific method, and now you want to steal that tool and tell us to put reason away in examining these issues. But without reason, we have no way of assessing whether the scientific method is a useful tool or not. Since reason is in charge, I am willing to attempt to use it with and without the constraints of the scientific method applied.

    No, I’m not telling you to put reasoning away, but you must first clarify what you mean by reason. If by reason, you mean presume something, expecting presumption to be all the qualification needed for something to exist, then no, I don’t agree with that. So I tell others to do similar. I’m not sure what you mean by being in charge, but if you mean your willing to reason outside of the constraints of the scientific method is enough to claim existence of a transcendent thing we are all subject to, then you overstep your bounds. It’s worse when you expect compliance as if such a thing were axiomatic.

    -To be fair, I don’t think we can say if it’s even a ‘why’ question to begin with.-

    I’ve heard this line of argument before, and I don’t accept it. the question is real. It’s probably one of, if not the first question self aware man asked. I ask it, and billions of others do as well, and most people that I’ve encountered think it a fairly crucial one. Dismissing it (if I read what you are saying correctly) because you think it irrelavent is not going to take care of it.

    Your unwillingness to not accept the argument, and others’ willingness to accept your question doesn’t add to the topic of conversation. Appeal to popularity is fallacious. The reason I say it’s not necessarily a why question is because it comes loaded with the premise of intent. Again, this is presuming too much, especially when coming from a deterministic point of view. I’m not saying it’s quite known if things are deterministic. I’m saying until the nature of causality is really known, too much is assumed.

  86. Kreme
    July 6th, 2006 @ 6:52 pm

    There is a mystery at the heart of everything that causes the theist and atheist alike to make some unprovable assumptions in order to move forward. We are in the same boat in that regard.

    The premise doesn’t apply. Atheists aren’t obligated to make any assumptions over what is unknown.

  87. Thorngod
    July 6th, 2006 @ 8:52 pm

    STEVE G, I’ve been about my father’s business all day, still have little time. I see Erik gave you a very well stated explanation of the Occam’s Razor principle–the rationality of which, however, you seem either not to see or not to want to accept. It cannot be profitably applied in religion. Science is grounded on observable facts. Scientific theory and speculation are based on previously established facts, and knowledge of the world increases only as further establishable facts are solidly confirmed.

    Science and religion are not at all on “equal footing.” Your assumption that science inquires into the nature of things “because it seems to recognize that nothing can exist simply because it exists” is off the mark. The existence of the physical is experienced. It is immediate. The “something” of it cannot be questioned, though the “whatness” of it can be and is. That, in fact, is what science delves into.

    Religion, on the contrary, in effect starts with an ultimate conclusion and then attempts to support it with spurious evidence. You can posit whatever you like, but if you cannot show that it’s presumed effects are consistent, then your proposition remains dubious.

    As regards the content of your and anyone else’s religious beliefs, you are certainly correct that you did not simply “make it up.” The basis for it originated over forty thousand generations back, as the best explanations our primordial ancestors could come up with for phenomena they did not understand. The gods and spirits they imagined to be the movers of things evolved over the millennia, with successive generations adding new details and new gods and gradually forgetting others. Jesus did not begin with a clean slate. Neither did Abraham. Every generation inherits its myths, then passes them to the next with conspicuous variations. The one thing that does not change is the basic assumption that beyond our mundane world is another non-physical one, inhabited by beings who were responsible for the creation and ordering of this one. That explanation is fanciful and totally unnecessary.

    As for where everything “came from,” no external “cause” is required. It came from “everything,” over and over. Democritus surmised that 2400 years ago, and expressed it superbly: “This world, which is the same for all, no one of gods or men has made; but it is, was, and always will be an ever-living fire, with measures kindling and measures going out.”

    I do not think the phrase “the root of reality” has a plausible referrent.

  88. Lurker
    July 7th, 2006 @ 12:28 am

    Thorngod said this:
    Science is grounded on observable facts. Scientific theory and speculation are based on previously established facts, and knowledge of the world increases only as further establishable facts are solidly confirmed.

    Then this:
    As for where everything “came from,” no external “cause” is required. It came from “everything,” over and over.

    Where’s the previously established, observable facts and knowledge that lead you to this “no external cause/over-and-over” theory that is grounded in science?

  89. reconciled
    July 7th, 2006 @ 8:28 am

    Blah, Blah, Blah,

    Where is your god when the prayers fly to heaven because of suffering and no reply comes. Where is Jesus now while the world is in pain. Does your god love children, because children suffer and die every minute. What have these children done to this god of yours to deserve this?

  90. Thorngod
    July 7th, 2006 @ 8:40 am

    LURKER– 2nd law of thermodynamics for one leg, theory of General Relativity for another. Then, try to conceive of an utter absence of anything!

  91. Lily
    July 7th, 2006 @ 1:46 pm

    Reconciled: Our world is full of suffering and death; neither we nor God take it lightly. I have no pat answers for you. I can tell you that wherever our God is, when the innocent suffer and die, it is the same place he was when His own Son suffered and died.

  92. Paul
    July 8th, 2006 @ 8:34 am

    Lurker, my mirror doesn’t show that, like SteveG, atheists assert that a particular thing or being exists, and that they assert this merely on the basis of assuming it.

  93. Lurker
    July 9th, 2006 @ 2:29 am

    Paul:
    I suggest you put down the funhouse mirror and pick up a real one so you can see the unproveable assumptions you are makeing – assumptions that you assert merely on the basis of assuming it.

  94. Paul
    July 9th, 2006 @ 8:14 am

    Lurker, can you give me a post that

    1. goes beyond just a mere assertion about mirrors (it’s gonna get old real quick), and

    2. distinguishes between assuming an empirical conclusion (which I’m saying is what SteveG admitted to) and a logical assumption (which is always necessary, ultimately)?

    Until I get that, I may not respond to a post by you. I don’t mean that antagonistically, I just want my points addressed, I will do the same for you (but I’m in line first, because I called it).

  95. Paul
    July 10th, 2006 @ 8:28 pm

    Until Lurker responds, I declare victory!

  96. Steve
    July 16th, 2006 @ 7:34 pm

    Lily, Lurker, SteveG, and for all I know now, RA:

    As believers, you all make the same error when comparing your set of beliefs to the study of (to pick an example) particle physics. Particles can be measurably shown to exist. Whatever it is that you “believe” in cannot. That’s why you have to call it a “belief.”

    It’s true that particle physics (and many other scientific disciplines) may not have all the answers, and may in fact NEVER have all the answers. But they continue to pry, to measure, to probe. Explore the history of science–you’ll find many theories that were accepted for a long time, then later disproved. When that disproof occurred, it was often considered heresy (at first). Only with continued OBSERVATION and MEASUREMENT did the “old school” eventually come to accept the new explanations. And that kind of rational approach still holds in science today. If some brilliant person comes along with proof that all particle physics is bunk, and shows what the real deal is, in a measurable, observable, reproducible way, then that new explanation will (eventually) win the day and be accepted as the way things are. And if THAT theory is later debunked, we’ll scrap it in favor of a better explanation. But in each case, we are arriving at a better understanding.

    If religious people took the same approach, they would all have to believe…what? Which religion offers the best understanding and explanation of the way the universe is? It it Mithraism, Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Taoism, Shinto, some aboriginal animal god, Qetzlcoatl, the Great Spirit, the local volcano, somebody stop me!

    Here’s a deal I’ll offer any person who believes in any sort of god (credit James Randi for inspiration): Give me a cupfull, or a bucketfull, or a thimblefull, of your god. For each such measure you provide me, I will give you (or your specified charity) an equal measure of particles deemed (by the scientific community of your choosing) to be the substance commonly known as “gold.” Here’s my one condition: as I am allowing you to pick the scientific community that adjudges the quality, quantity, purity, and any other characteristics of my gold, I will choose the scientific community that adjudges the same characteristics of your god. I expect you’ll want “good gold,” so you’ll probably choose jewelers, goldsmiths, gold miners, or chemists as your scientific community. I want “good god,” so I’ll choose those who are similarly expert in that field: priests, rabbis, imams, aborigines, tribal medicine men, etc. If they all agree that you’ve provided me with a certain quantity of god, the gold is yours.

    I don’t expect to have to buy any gold in the near future.

    Theist arguments to the effect that “god is not measurable in any scientific sense” will doubtless ensue. So let me then state my reason for making this offer. If your god’s existence cannot be objectively verified, why should I accept that it exists? More to the point, if your beliefs cannot be proven, why do YOU accept them? Why isn’t the measureable fact of existence enough for you? Why do you NEED to BELIEVE???

  97. Thorngod
    July 16th, 2006 @ 10:18 pm

    Perhaps if you’d offer them “fool’s gold,” Steve,
    you might get a few takers.

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