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Life is a gift to all of us. And yet, when one is an atheist, they are sometimes bothered by perhaps well meaning but nevertheless annoying theists, who accuse them of not caring about the life of anyone or anything. It's an odd reaction, because for the atheist, this life is it. In our view, we humans get a few decades on average, a tiny arc of consciousness across the infinite ocean of space-time, a blink of the cosmic eye, in which the universe can be uniquely aware of itself through each of us. And accepting that there is likely nothing afterward, nothing but the comforting non-existence that preceded conception, makes this time far more precious to the atheist, than many theists seem willing to contemplate.

Once again, a fair warning to all, this might be offensive as hell to some. Just try and understand that even though I think religion may be crazy or irrational, that doesn't mean I universally dislike religious people or that I think everything they do outside of religion is worthless. Point of Fact: This two-part series came about last evening during a friendly e-mail exchange with a Kossack friend who is definitely a believer and s/he happens to be someone whose integrity, character, and compassion, I greatly admire.

Now a foreword and a suggested code of conduct since the post got so distended: Take some time to decide if something is really worth your time to respond to, there will be trolls on both sides looking to agitate you anyway they can.

Your religion may be inspiring to you. It may have stories that are inspiring to me. It may have mnemonic value; critically important value at that. It may be rich in tradition and culture, it may encapsulate important events in human history. It may offer hope to people who have no hope left. It may serve as a useful insight into human nature. Humans may indeed have a preexisting facility to acquire belief systems similar to the one for language. It may provide a valuable ethical and behavioral framework. It may spread like a virus and mutate like bird flu. I don't necessarily think you are weak minded for buying it, I think enculturation and peer pressure is some powerful gumbo. But this diary isn't about any of that.

This is about why I am an atheist, not why you should be one. And by atheist I mean that I strongly suspect that the core, underlying, supernatural claims of religion are nonsense. If you want me to not be an atheist and share your particular flavor of supernatural belief, you need to be able to perform the magic or produce the supernatural being you claim exists and subject that creature to a battery of tests under controlled conditions.

That's it folks. That's the criteria if you want me to believe that your underlying supernatural being or beings are for real. Spare me/us word games, meaning try and avoid twisting words into unrecognizable states of vague meaningless mush. EG: The assumption that Cap'n Crunch exists and the assumption that dogs exist are not on the same rung in the ladder of 'faith'. One requires extraordinary faith and the mind of a child or a 'tard, the other only requires a trip to my backyard. Same for redefining atheism as a religion. You can call atheism anything you want, but you may just confuse people if you do so. Because if atheism is a religion, then not collecting stamps is a hobby and baldness is a hair color.

And please, try and limit any long-winded philosophical explanations of why your particular deity or supernatural claim is untestable or perfectly resembles one that does not exist; if it cannot be tested and happens to perfectly imitate one that does not exist, skeptics are not going to buy it. Same for excuses that the magic doesn't work when a skeptic is present with a camcorder. It doesn't matter, even if it's written in a book that it worked once upon a time. Same for demanding I prove your magic wizard/dragon/powers/sea monster/pantheon doesn't exist or 'you win'. This is for your own good: You don't win anything outside of exposing yourself as logically clueless.

Speaking of which here's an exhaustive list of Logical Fallacies many of which were known to even the ancients and most of which are required topics for a degree in philosophy. If you regale us in comments with your philosophical prowess or try to snow anyone in that regard, and go onto commit even one of them, you will probably be laughed at and ridiculed by people who have real training in philosophy or formal debate.

                     Why am I an Atheist?

In my Santa Claus analogy I mentioned near the end to imagine why it is you don't literally believe in Santa and his North Pole factory. I bet for most of you, it's not because you hate Santa, I mean who would? It's probably not because you hate Christmas or despise giving or receiving gifts. I doubt it's because you detest having days off or eating kickass food with your family and friends. You probably can't prove there is no Santa and even if you try, I assure you from long experience in dealing with creationists* I can offer a counter argument.

No, none of that is the reason: Your disbelief in a literal Santa Claus, flying reindeer, nocturnal visits, toy factories, elves, etc., likely centers on three concrete objections:

  1. "It" makes no sense

  2. There is no evidence for "it"

  3. We're adults who can get by fine at Christmas time and enjoy ourselves without "it" having to be true

Evidence by far is the key. Something might not make sense, like Quantum Mechanics, but we accept it because of the evidence. OTOH something might make sense, like the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe, but we don't accept it as valid, yet, because we have no evidence. The reason for this asymmetry is, as the late Carl Sagan said: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Combine a bunch of bundled extraordinary claims that have no evidence to support them, not even mediocre evidence, with the fact that the set of claims don't make any sense at all kinds of levels, and that's a real problem for someone like me to get past.

Simply substitute "it" for religion in the above three points and you understand the framework of why I'm an atheist. Since most of the people who ask me about this are Christians and that's the religion I know the most about, I'll address that particular tradition under the three qualifiers I mentioned above. With the understanding that I don't think your religion is any sillier than any other as it can easily be extended to cover other supernatural cosmogonies.

                        It makes no sense

There is so much in the Bible (And the Quron and everything else) that makes no sense, it's pretty hard to pick a place to begin. I suppose a good enough place would be the beginning of the book: It makes no sense to create some kind of paradise in which man and woman have no inkling of right and wrong, and then hold them responsible for doing something wrong. It makes no sense to hold their descendants for all time responsible for them doing something wrong even if they did in fact have some mysterious way of determining right and wrong prior to being taught how to distinguish right from wrong.

It makes no sense for YVHW to kill off every living thing on earth with a flood or any other psychotic method of genocide if he can do whatever he wants and his goal is to engender love for His masterful and benevolent rule. It is in fact an act far, far, to the right of Hitler and Ghangas Kahn combined; it makes those two pikers look like candy-stripers. And the flood is just one of many monstrous acts.

It makes no sense to talk about an immortal being dying, because by definition immortal beings cannot die. It's like talking about a square circle, or an even number that is not divisible by two; it's nonsensical words strung together in a transparently vacuous parody of meaning.

Speaking of which, what generally makes dying such a big sacrifice in the first place is that you stay dead, forever. Another thing that makes torture and execution such an unpleasant experience is that you're utterly helpless throughout the ordeal. Being the omnipotent Creator of all space and time kind of takes the edge of that, and it makes no sense that someone would try to pitch it as a big sacrifice.

This example of what I feel is nonsense bears special emphasis by graphic comparison: Casey Sheehan was sacrificed; Pat Tillman was sacrificed; People in New Orleans were sacrificed; Every fireman that ran into the WTC was sacrificed. What makes those tragedies a sacrifice is not just that we know they happened or the cause they died for, but that it meant they were gone forever. OTOH, being unconscious for three days and then coming to as the Immortal Ruler of the Universe is not a sacrifice, it's a stunt. And the consequences for the stunt man are the sweetest deal in the history of mankind.

It makes no sense that God would disguise himself as a human, fake his death, and expect us to drop to our knees in abject awe at his 'sacrifice', because it pales in comparison to the ones we mere mortals face. In my view, it's frankly a grotesque insult to humanity to try and pass that off as anything close to the fear, horror, and pain that real people have to deal with under torture and execution. And it makes little sense to me that a being which creates Quasars and butterflies would come up with such an empty and downright bizarre stunt as a solution to problems they intentionally created in the first place and expect us to whimper in admiration at their sense of compassion. Especially since by all accounts they could have remedied it with the snap of their supernatural fingers, or just not let the problem happen in the first place.

This is how sense works imo, using the Bible itself: Either Jesus died and stayed that way in which case he did not rise and Christianity is built on an erroneous premise, or he did rise in which case he did not die and there was no sacrifice, and Christianity is built on an erroneous premise. It really is that simple.

It makes no sense that an omnipotent being who wishes so much to be recognized and loved would conceal its existence with a sustained vigor well beyond the designation of paranoid. It does makes sense that if H & R Block can open up a branch office in every small town, that a motivated, omnipotent being could do the same, and personally man it himself 24/7 with angels out front serving food and drink.

It makes no sense that a perfect being would need to create the universe or mankind, because by definition a perfect beings needs or wants for nothing.

Hell, even their own beliefs don't make sense as purely cultural precepts: Morality under God is absolute, never relative--> It's immoral to destroy children at any stage after conception because it is an absolute, regardless of what good may come of it for individual people or the society they live in, except it's perfectly moral we're told by wingnuts, to drop bombs on children in Iraq, precisely because of the good that may come of it for the individual or the culture; this is 'absolute morality'? Well, It Makes No Sense.

In general, and this one applies to all Abrahamic Faiths and most others: It makes no sense that the oral histories of a few bands of rival roaming shepherds during the bronze age would harbor the one and only true secret of how the Cosmos came to be. It's far, far, more likely that they made this shit up over many generations, and we can tell that is probably exactly the case, because again, it makes no sense at all, and there is a long line of historical antecedents in ANE Mythology leading right up to the early Christian version. We can literally read old scrolls and accounts and see the various components of the God of the OT come together from other deities.

And even if the entire universe turns out to be an artificially manufactured object made by Intelligent Agency, as fascinating as that would be, it makes no sense to automatically assume the entire 10^36 cubic light-year Cosmos was made exclusively for us.

It makes no sense to me that I have this indestructible, undefined, supernatural attachment called a 'soul' which gets reincarnated or goes to a vague 'afterlife'. And if that soul existed before I did, has little or no recollection of my life while I'm alive, does not interact with me in any discernible way, and retains little or none of what makes me 'me' after I'm gone, I have news for you: The soul and have very different agendas to say the least! It doesn't make any sense to me that I'd give a hoot what happens to it, it's an unsubstantiated supernatural parasite as far as I'm concerned and its future welfare is about as important to me as an imaginary tapeworm.

Lastly, no matter how sophisticated one's apologetics are, it makes no sense that a being can be simultaneously omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient, while evil and pain exists and still provide us with free will while at the same time expecting us to choose door number two or be condemned to eternal torture. All those qualities and conditionals taken together are mutually exclusive in more ways than I can count. If you argue otherwise, no matter how slick and polished your arguments, you're arguing that circles can be squares. And it makes no sense to me that such convoluted apologetics would be required in the first place to reconcile all these crazy inconsistent claims, or explain why these supernatural creatures happen to exactly imitate ones that were made up, if all this stuff was The One Truth of the Universe.

That's just a handful Biblical claims that make little or no sense to me. I'm not saying they didn't happen or that they're impossible, only that they make little or no sense To Me. I'm sure others can provide other exemplars that make no sense to them in comments.

                        There is no evidence for it

I don't know how the Bible, or the Quron, or a Native American Creation Fable, could mean anything else other than literally happened ... when it states clearly that something literally happened. Make sense?

With that literal interpretation in mind for the OT then, there is no evidence the universe is a few thousand years old and a shitload of evidence that it is much older. There is no evidence that there was ever a Garden of Eden and there is a mountain of evidence that neither humans or many other species descend from a single mating pair in the geologically recent past. As would be predicted by both the Garden Story and the Ark Story.

And without that Garden and the whole bit of blaming Eve for disobeying before she knew what disobeying was, which remember makes no sense to start with, and blaming us for all eternity, which again recall makes no sense, there is no original sin and thus no need for salvation from it, which means your entire religion is built on something for which there is no evidence for. (And no I didn't invent this, Young Earth Creationists have used it for years as part of their spiel)

There is no evidence for a global flood involving trillions of cubic kilometers of water which somehow completely disappeared without a trace in the recent past, or in the distant past for that matter. And there is massive evidence against it.

No matter what kind of tests I propose for the existence of supernatural critters, the respective adherents always shoot it down as unworkable. But that's where you're stuck imo. Because there is no testable, reasonably clear evidence for fairies or invisible dragons or Zeus or any of the Gods, Godesses, Godlets, demi-Gods of any kind, and those are all extraordinary claims which therefore require ___   __ ?

                        I'm an adult

 And just as a child must abandon comfortable fantasy, like Santa, if they're going to be a productive member of society and deal with real life, we as a species must abandon comforting fantasy, like YVWH, and face the cold hard truth if we're going to deal with it. The truth is, by every measure we can make, we're fragile, ephemeral sacks of meat just like every other animal species. The truth is, by every measure we can make, our minds, our sensation of love, hate, taste, sight, morality, science, sense of consciousness, everything, are all utterly dependent on the proper functioning of a mass of neurons housed in our skull weighing less than four pounds. And, if any significant portion of that mass gets heavily traumatized, it's bye-bye birdie for the owner. Asking where you 'go' when that structure ceases to exist, is like asking where your files on your hard drive 'go' when you melt it into slag. They don't 'go' anywhere, they no longer exist.

Yes, it would be nice if there was a magic invisible sky wizard who took care of us when we die and redress injustices committed against you while alive by others. It would be nice if your kid or your mom or your loved one who was cruelly cut down by painful lingering cancer was still 'out there' somewhere. It would be nice if there was a Santa Claus, and I don't mean that to sound flippant; Who wouldn't want there to be a Santa Claus? For that matter who wouldn't like to be able to think themselves into the air and fly like a bird at will? Well, it doesn't matter how nice the idea of Santa is, there isn't a real Santa, and you can concentrate for all your worth and flap your arms for days, you will not fly.

It doesn't make sense, there is no evidence for it, and I'm an adult. I deal in reality as it is, not as I wish it would be, so that I can perhaps change that reality. And that's important. Because if I could be said to 'believe in' anything, it's that I believe in the human potential for progress, problem solving, and flexibility. That's how we've managed to solve problems in the past.

If we put that proven methodology to work, I think probably, one by one, diseases will fall or be engineered out of existence. I think using that methodology we can get a handle on hunger, poverty, war, greed, natural disasters, and on and on. One day it may happen that we will conquer aging, that we can record and share our minds. Maybe, sooner or later, we will even eliminate death itself; or at least postpone for practical eternity.

This "we" I'm talking about is no doubt a very different we than exists now, this is our remote descendants. They may have linked minds, be cybernetic, meld machine and biology, design themselves at the molecular level. Their consciousness may be carried by silicon, nanodevices, ensconced in exotic dark matter, or housed in something we cannot even conceive of. These descendants might ply the ocean of space time as easily as you drive to the store, make planets, create stars, build black-holes and farm them for gravity waves. They, our children's children, might learn to reconfigure the entire universe.

But a spark of us will still burn in them, all down the ages, just as a vestige of the first hominid, the first tetrapod, the first cell, is part of us. And unless there is some kind of serious disruption in record keeping, they'll probably know that they came from a single planet orbiting a small yellow star, where generations of their ancestors busted their asses so that they could be free, truly free. If so, they'll probably be able to retrieve data on the 21st century, know there was a thing called the Internet, that on it there were blogs, maybe even know about the Daily Kos: They might be able to pull up this very post.

For the last few paragraphs I've left the world of the known and engaged in some pretty far out speculation, but I see no reason why it cannot be that way, or close to it, in the distant future ... IF. IF we want it, if we make it happen.

The quicker we accept that no one is likely to just hand us these wonderful abilities and gifts, the quicker we'll get to work developing it for real, on our own. Because ultimately, we are responsible for us. What becomes of us is not in the mythical hands of invisible Gods-- as best we can tell and for better or worse. It's in our hands; and it's high time we all started accepting that wonderful gift of self determination. Hell, we should be dancing on the rooftops that we get the chance to determine our destiny as a species, because we're the only one on earth that can!

We owe it to try, to shoot for the stars, for all the people who came before us and helped pull us out of the pit of animal savagery. We owe it to the wonderful diversity of life on earth of which we are a part and which gave birth to our species; an unbroken lineage stretching back four billion years of which we are the managing agent. Is there anyone who doesn't feel that's special enough?

We owe it to ourselves to keep that flame burning, keep pushing the boundaries, so that each and every generation will more and more inherit the promise of what can be, while leaving the grimmer world of what was behind. I may reject the deities that human intellects have cooked up, but I don't doubt the potential of that intellect. That's what I 'believe in' if I could be said to 'believe in' anything; I believe in our future, because I believe in us. I believe in you.

And that's why I'm an atheist.

Originally posted to DarkSyde on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 08:54 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  North Pole (3.96)
    *The North Pole Factory is invisible/under the sea ice/camoflauged

    Even geologists, explorers, and map makers can't agree on exactly where the North Pole is by several dozen miles. Some say it's a 'magnetic pole' meaning you can't 'see it'. Others claim it's a 'center of rotation', still others say it 'wobbles or reverses'. All of which shows they don't know shit and can't be trusted about anything to do with the North Pole.

    Robert Perry was a known egomaniac and a liar (And a bigamist). It's considered common knowledge that cooked his logbooks and never even got within fifty miles of the North Pole

    Here's a polar sat photo with an unexplained object showing; It's a conspiracy among geographers, prove me wrong ...etc, ad nauseum

    Read UTI, your free thought forum

    by DarkSyde on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 08:53:18 PM PST

    •  Woohooo! Round 2... (none)
      My eyes are bleary. But this has been a very thought provoking and enlightening 24 hours!

      Let the games begin!

      The dark at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming age.

      by peeder on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 08:57:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  To readers and commentators. (4.00)
        I'm interested in all this stuff, as are many Kossacks. It is a very important subject.

        But no one wants to read endless squabbling.

        PLEASE be polite, read what each other says, and try to be understanding.

        Thank you.

        And thank you, DarkSyde.

        When you stop being paranoid, that's when they get you.

        by astraea on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:00:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  All right, never mind (none)
          Just fight. Fight. Go for it.

          When you stop being paranoid, that's when they get you.

          by astraea on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:19:39 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Especially (4.00)
          no more trying to force your personal definitions on someone elses belief.  Check the other thread to see how irritating that is for all involved.  

          No telling people what they beleive.

          BTW, another great diary DarkSyde.  Mirrors my beliefs and experiences a fair bit.

          "Passing the gun from father to feckless son; We're climbing a landslide where only the good die young." Leaders of the Free World - Elbow

          by Dave Brown on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:26:20 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  if someone says they're an atheist (1.61)
            and someone posts the definition of atheism.

            is that so bad??

            No telling people what they believe...  i agree.  starting .... perhaps... with the diarist??

            "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

            by BiminiCat on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:33:18 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  aoeu (none)
              When the definition you post is incorrect and you try your damnest to scratch your itching eardrum rather than use a better definition then yes, it is "so bad".

              every turtle knows
              Bush and the Republicans
              worship just Mammon

              by TealVeal on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:36:46 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  even when the definition you post is from (2.00)
                the dictionary itself??

                "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

                by BiminiCat on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:38:47 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  aoeu (none)
                  Argument by dictionary, what is this 6th grade?

                  every turtle knows
                  Bush and the Republicans
                  worship just Mammon

                  by TealVeal on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:39:14 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  nope (1.90)
                    it's not.

                    and it's not an argument either.  it's just the definition.  no more.  no less.

                    "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

                    by BiminiCat on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:45:51 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  then it really... (none)
                      ...serves no purpose except to those wondering what the definition of "atheist" is. and i don't recall anyone asking.

                      Crime is contagious....if the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for the law. -- Justice Louis Brandeis

                      by FemiNazi on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:59:57 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  aoeu (2.00)
                      Well, you don't have the mental capacity to hold a discussion like this if you think using the dictionary to define terms is acceptable.

                      every turtle knows
                      Bush and the Republicans
                      worship just Mammon

                      by TealVeal on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 05:25:55 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                •  Definitions (4.00)
                  faith
                  1 a : allegiance to duty or a person (1) : fidelity to one's promises (2) : sincerity of intentions
                  2 a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust
                  3 : something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially : a system of religious beliefs

                  atheism
                  1 archaic : UNGODLINESS, WICKEDNESS
                  2 a : a disbelief in the existence of deity b : the doctrine that there is no deity

                  Faith requires belief. Atheism is disbelief. One cannot believe in disbelief.

                  While existence of a deity may be unprovable, a deity's non-existence is unprovable as well. Most atheists (I would imagine) choose to shave with Occam's razor, and disbelieve in the deity's existence, rather than believe in his non-existence. It seems like a very fine line, but logically the two positions are not the same. To say that an atheist has faith in disbelief of a deity is not nessesarily offensive, mearly illogical.

                  At the same time, I would not rule out the possiblity of the existence of intellectually lazy atheists who choose to actively believe in the non-existence of a deity as a matter of faith, rather than through any period of study and introspection.

                  •  Gotcha.... (3.66)
                    ..."While existence of a deity may be unprovable, a deity's non-existence is unprovable as well."

                    That's not true... For an atheist. Otherwise the atheist would be an agnostic.

                    Here's the thing; an atheist, knowingly or not, uses scientific principles to evaluate the world. Concepts that describe the world, reality, are theories. Theories are provable and predictive. Some things may not have a theory attached to them.

                    Take the notion of an afterlife, one common component of religion and the one that religious people seem to want to dispense with last, while conceding much else to science (and small wonder why, as it concerns them personally). The idea of afterlife addresses a human wish. There is no, absolutely no, indication in reality that there is a need for a theory of the afterlife.

                    There is no indication that we need a theory for why the moon is not made of green cheese. There is no need for a theory of whether cherubs have navels or not. To the religious person, the existence of religion is put forth as a reason why religion has to be disproved by an atheist.

                    "You can't prove it isn't so," the religious person says.

                    But this is false. Not only is there no need for the atheist to disprove an assertion which is uncalled for, objectively... But pretty much everything about religion suggests that it should be classified not as a theory at all, but as a human fabrication.

                    Witness:

                    1. Religion, increasingly with greater scientific awareness, is structured to avoid any test. Often it, and its evangelists, insist, either softly or upon pain of eternal damnation (or at times torture here on earth), that it not be questioned.
                    2. We have a "fossil record" for religion in history, including a lot of mythological literature from which the evolution of modern faiths can be seen, and which record is very contradictory to most of what those faiths assert. Hinging on one real man in a real time and place, both Buddhism and Christianity have enjoyed the greatest lasting success as they mute this concern a bit.
                    3. Most or all religions include absurd claims which their followers generally have moved to distance themselves from, and when followers do believe these they tend to be manifestly crazy in other unrelated ways. (Note how few Christians believe in the well-documented Satan, versus how many believe in an immediate heaven, or even that humans turn into angels, for which there is no scriptural backing.)
                    4. The only thing most religions demand is that one profess belief, but there are only very rarely any particularly challenging tests to prove or display that faith. As donations to churches tend to go to the church itself which the worshipper uses, or to charity which everyone believer or not values, donation is not such a measure of belief. And it is noteworthy too that donations are almost never demanded. Jews who don't spend money to attend temple are not suddenly goyim. While certainly some do donate to churches out of genuine faith, there is also peer pressure and a desire to display one's outward appearance of faith to account for some of this. Thus, how many people are religious and how many people just say they are is debatable. The unwillingness to put religion to the test with its worshippers is a strong indication that many worshippers are not in fact strong believers.

                    9/11 + 4 Years = Katrina... Conservatism Kills.

                    by NewDirection on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 09:56:15 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  You are confused as to what an atheist is (none)
                      An atheist does not believe in the existence of god. Not, believing the in non-existence of god (which is a belief). Most atheist simply do not believe in the existence of god. If you choose to call that agnosticism (which is similar but not the same thing) or that it isn't atheism, then you would be wrong.

                      cheers,

                      Mitch Gore

                      Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

                      by Lestatdelc on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 11:44:44 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  No Way Jose (none)
                        That's why there are two terms in common parlance:
                        Atheist, and agnostic.
                        No confusion on my part.

                        Standard dictionary definitions aside, you can see that the common parlance does indeed agree with me by perusing the volunteered definitions here:
                        Urban Dictionary: Atheist
                        Urban Dictionary: Agnostic

                        As you acknowledged, the two are similar but different terms. But... They are only similar from the perspective of a religious person, or in the context of discussing the current theist militancy in this country and their place regarding it.

                        For an agnostic, the jury is out.
                        For an atheist, either the validity of the case was never accepted (DarkSyde) or the jury has returned a There Is No God verdict firmly.

                        9/11 + 4 Years = Katrina... Conservatism Kills.

                        by NewDirection on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:16:28 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Yes, confusion on your part (none)
                          Trot out whatever pop-culture, biased tripe "definition" you care to, but the term atheism in most cases is not believing in the existence of god(s). Period.

                          Not the affirmative that there is a belief that god absolutely does not exist.

                          cheers,

                          Mitch Gore

                          Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

                          by Lestatdelc on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 01:45:41 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Whoa.... (none)
                            That's actually kinda hard to parse.

                            As for disputing "pop culture," I have to ask you what better yardstick there is for what a word means than what people think it means.

                            Incidentally, outside of dictionary shorthand, philosophy agrees with me, and that is how these terms arose. To define ideas. And the popular definition (as I cited) has not drifted.

                            "Not the affirmative that there is a belief that god absolutely does not exist."
                            That requires a concept alien to the atheistic mind: Absolute certainty about, not laws, but the expression of those natural laws.

                            Assuming an atheist absolutely certain that there is nothing beyond natural laws, then there is absolute certainty that no God exists.

                            I will grant you this: An atheist might be able to entertain (purely for laughs) the idea that natural laws (or even unobservable, differing, yet nevertheless natural laws in some other dimensionality (not "dimension," mind)... Could have created a figure with the characteristics, and even role in human development, that you ascribe to God. For those inclined, this could be scaled down considerably from what I dub Einstein's God, that merely beyond the bounds of his intellect, to some perhaps giant old bearded man who did literally shape the earth five thousand years ago, get Mary pregnant, etc. Nevertheless any of these hypothetical Gods would still be, not the Alpha and the Omega, but a word written in that alphabet. Or perhaps, much more elegantly, that alphabet itself and thus all that is written in it... The universal God, yet at that observable in natural laws and in no way supernatural; indivisible.

                            However, an atheist thinks about that, and says, nah. OTHERWISE HE'S AN AGNOSTIC.

                            9/11 + 4 Years = Katrina... Conservatism Kills.

                            by NewDirection on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 02:08:12 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Where your assertions break down is that (none)
                            there are some expressions of what is termed "strong atheism" which does cross lines into the realm of a belief system, one predicated on the position that they can somehow prove a negative. Therefore it is an affirmative position. i.e. "I know god does not exist". Which is an unprovable assertion since once cannot prove a negative. This is the sort of "extremist" position some "atheists" assert which many theists then use to falsely claim that atheism is a belief system, faith, etc.

                            Atheism is the absence of belief in the existence of deities without the positive assertion that deities do not exist. Strong atheism, also known as hard atheism or positive atheism, is the belief that no deities exist.

                            cheers,

                            Mitch Gore

                            Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

                            by Lestatdelc on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 03:33:01 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Disagree Again (none)
                            My standpoint is that if you accept that logic and the scientific method are absolutes, which I do not agree requires an act of faith, then I assert that you can factually prove there is no God. Speaking of the Judeo-Christian God, Hindu, etc.

                            This can be done physically, comparing the laws of nature; the known ones that is, to the miracles and similar things (creation) in the scripture.

                            This can be done philosophically, testing whether the philosophy therein is valid, proving it is far too illogical and contradictory to be a real code that describes our world.

                            This is why the last century was fraught with at times desperate attempts to make sense of the Bible, such as ascribing astronomical causes to the events of the Old Testament. Those who value logic foremost have eliminated item upon item that they have disproved conclusively from what they accept as validly supernatural. But this selective agnosticism and general denial that is merely an attempt to be able to continue being technically religious, relies on one thing: And that is a right to pick and choose the parts of the religion that one wants, while discounting the rest. This is something the religions emphatically disallow on their original precepts. It's cheating, in other words.

                            Ah, but you say, God could be anything. It doesn't have to be in the form a religion describes, whether tailored or not.

                            Got you... If God can be anything, then "anything" is not a concept that can be accepted into discussion, until you have a problem which "x" is required to solve. A case that has yet to be made.

                            9/11 + 4 Years = Katrina... Conservatism Kills.

                            by NewDirection on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 04:59:47 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Atheism and Agnosticism are a continuum (none)
                            I'm very late to this party but have to jump in. Most atheists I know - and I'm lucky enough to know a lot of them - are a bit agnostic. We're usually logical enough to know that we can be wrong since we've never seen God lying dead on the floor to know he doesn't exist. Most agnostics I know are pretty atheistic - otherwise they'd be mushy believers if they thought there was enough of a chance of there being a God that they thought there was hellfire abrewin' for them. Therefore, it's pretty silly to me, with all due respect, to parse words too mightily on the difference 'tween the two.

                            Now, defining God is a whole 'nuther idea. Many "believers" I know seem to me to be covering their asses by changing the definition of God to follow their brain telling them that, as the old song says, it ain't necessarily so, at least not literally. So God isn't a big guy in the sky, he's a thought, a feeling, a something, a nothing, a whatever. So vague that He can be both a floor wax and a dessert topping all at once. But I've read the Bible and God has an outstretched arm and talks to Abe and tells him to kill his kid and all kinds of big guy in the sky stuff.

                            So, it certainly appears to me that such fencesitters are smart enough to know the Good Book ain't so great but don't necessarily have the courage to let all the mumbo-jumbo go. So they broaden the definition of God till it holds no meaning at all. But I could be wrong. What do I know. I'm just an agnostheist.

                          •  Republicans And Democrats Are A Continuum (none)
                            But you still cast your vote for just one.
                            You can express all the mixed feelings about your vote you want, and partisans who have all their points straight are actually rare.
                            But that doesn't mean the points don't exist.

                            Same thing here.
                            Atheists vote for "There is no God."
                            Agnostics vote for "Maybe there is a God."

                            Big difference, even if individuals are prone to vote one way or the other for casual reasons and without being well informed.

                            9/11 + 4 Years = Katrina... Conservatism Kills.

                            by NewDirection on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 07:55:54 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                    •  Got what? (none)
                      poichick says; " While existence of a deity may be unprovable, a deity's non-existence is unprovable as well. "

                      New Direction says; " That's not true... For an atheist. Otherwise the atheist would be an agnostic.

                       "You can't prove it isn't so," the religious person says.

                      But this is false. Not only is there no need for the atheist to disprove an assertion which is uncalled for, objectively... But pretty much everything about religion suggests that it should be classified not as a theory at all, but as a human fabrication. "

                      Absolutely true- the burden of proof for religion does not lie with the atheist. The atheist has no NEED to disprove a deity. Lack of proof is often enough for an atheist. It is, likewise, often not enough for a religious person.

                      And while I can happily sit here not believing in the mythical invisible dragon (let's call him Bert) that flies overhead convincing birds to poop on newly washed cars, I cannot prove he does not exist. I don't need to, certainly. If I tried, I would probably be sent somewhere with padded rooms. But even if I wanted to, even though I do not believe Bert exists, even though all available evidence points to Bert being a fabrication of a deranged mind (mine, in fact), I doubt that I could prove that Bert does not exist.

                      This is a wonderful, facinating world, in which possibilty exists everywhere. I find science facinating in that it is teaching us every day of things that we previously had no knowledge of.

                      Howevery, as an atheist, I find that lack of proof of a deity's non-existence does not equate to a belief that a deity might exist, for exactly the reasons you stated above. An agnostic is described by Mirriam-Webster as one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god. Therefore;

                      I do not believe in the existence of any deity. I acknowledge that I might be wrong. I do not think this makes me an agnostic.  

                      On a seperate, snarky note, I'd like to say that if forced to choose, I would rather believe in Bert than any deity. While I've never had any prayers answered, I've definatly had my car befouled by bird poo mere minutes after having washed it. Multiple times. PLUS, there have never been any wars fought in Bert's name. So there, all you Bert-cynics. Nya.

                      "We hold these truths to be self-evident: 1. George W. Bush is not President; 2. America is not a true Democracy; 3. The Media is not fooling me." -Ani DiFranco

                      by poichick on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:14:26 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Start Believing In Bert The Poop Dragon (none)
                        And the possibility exists that not only will wars be carried out in his name, but pogroms, witch trials, and mass suicides.

                        9/11 + 4 Years = Katrina... Conservatism Kills.

                        by NewDirection on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 01:14:37 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  exactly, what do so many morons not get this??? (none)
                        no need to "disprove" god.  god is only ever assumed people people who cannot offer proof of its existence.

                        that's all there is to that.

                        no atheism isn't a faith, and no its not a self-cancelling concept.  it simply means a person who doesn't posit a deity.  that's it.  a buddhist can be an atheist!  a genius can be an atheist.  a retarded coal miner on steroids can be an atheist.

                        but nothing about atheism requires proof.  we're not saying we've "disproved" "god" - we simply see no need to invent one.

                        just be thankful for what you've got

                        by itsbenj on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 01:20:32 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                •  Bimini, I own THREE HUNDRED* (4.00)
                  ...dictionaries.  Which one should I use?

                  Which one is "THE" dictionary?

                  *(No, I'm not kidding.  It's a hobby, like not collecting stamps.)

                  Rubus Eradicandus Est.

                  by Randomfactor on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 09:32:39 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Not Collecting Stamps.... (none)
                    ...Is a hobby?
                    Well, I guess then I haven't escaped being a hobbyist.

                    9/11 + 4 Years = Katrina... Conservatism Kills.

                    by NewDirection on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 09:57:47 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  It's so true though (none)
                    Randomfactor is right.  Look up "atheism" online in any of the major online dictionaries, or go to the individual world relgion websites or go to freethought sites to find the definition of atheism and you will see glaring differences among them.  Biminicat found a definition, but is that really the best definition?  Is it even accurate?  Is it appropriate to assign a negative register or a pejorative meaning to a lack of belief in any god(s)?  Several sites do this.

                    Interestingly, aside from the internal debate going on among the posters on this blog, the intellectual community of atheists, along with many skeptics, freethinkers, humanists and secular humanists disagree as to the actual definition of the term "atheist".  It's entirely appropriate to have a discussion of the meaning of the term, and it seems out of step with the struggles of the greater non-theist community to assume that because one definition can be found online that is the only, ultimate definition of the term, or that it is even accurate, given the widespread misunderstanding and debates atheists THEMSELVES have.  So let's not jump the gun on this.  Biminicat is wrong, from lack of experience with atheism as a life concept and just having a difficult time letting the argument go.

                    If I had a nickel for every president who lied the country into war.... Oh, wait....

                    by deep6 on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 01:19:50 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                •  Ya know (none)
                  I tried until I was blue in the face to point out that a definition in the dictionary was lacking in many aspects.

                  The vague sentence given by whatever version you are using does not take into account that language changes, and the context a word is used in alters the meaning.

                  One thing I learned in many classes was that you needed to define how you were using a word before the discussion had any meaning. Sometimes this could take many pages.

                  The dictionary lacks the ability to pin down the specificity of the word. Each specialty has its own language. Webster does not cut it. Period.

                  You don't seem to get it. Many people tried to point this out to you and you considered their asking for a clarification to be annoying and insulting. You are obviously not actually reading these comments to understand others. They are frustrated at your inability to argue in good faith.

                  After multiple posts I am beginning to wonder what your motives are for this behavior.

                  * Are you trying to make people understand the context you are using the word in? (Clearly this is NO)

                  *Are you playing Devil's advocate so to speak? (If so please . . . make your point already)

                  *Or just being argumentative? (This begins to be somewhat annoying and counterproductive)

            •  Please don't do this again (4.00)
              We heard your comments on the other thread, and if you are simply going to repeat them here, please don't.  

              Your continued insistence to tell me that my beliefs are a 'faith' offends me.  Please stop.

              "Passing the gun from father to feckless son; We're climbing a landslide where only the good die young." Leaders of the Free World - Elbow

              by Dave Brown on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:47:28 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Not just offensive... (3.60)
                Your continued insistence to tell me that my beliefs are a 'faith' offends me.

                It's not just offensive. It's a deliberate falsehood spread here primarily by two trolls. It is identical to that used by dominionists, hardcore fundamentalists, and neocons to justify their jihads against the ungodly, by making the false claim that atheism is a particularly pernicious form of faith that competes directly with theirs.

                This is false. People who spread this falsehood are denying my existence as who I am, and who the diarist is. They are supplying "aid and comfort" to those who would eliminate us, beginning by classifying us as something less than full citizens of this country, and who at the moment are assuming governmental power to accomplish that goal.

                •  see below (1.35)
                  is there really something wrong with having faith in something??

                  "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

                  by BiminiCat on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:03:17 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Bim, you should know better. (none)
                    Stay out of the religious (or non-religious) diaries and stick with the ones pertaining to the IWR vote or those that may be dissing Dems.

                    These religious discussions are nothng but massive train wrecks.

                    I steer clear...

                    Is Dick Cheney in favor of torturing Scooter Libby in order to gain "actionable intelligence?"

                    by Bob Johnson on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:20:30 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  v. good advice (none)
                      what's funny is....

                      my whole family is convinced i'm an atheist.  i was convinced i was an atheist for 20 some odd years of my life.  now it's just another label to me.

                      i have no relationship to god whatsoever.  

                      "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

                      by BiminiCat on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:31:46 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  If that's the case, then ... (none)
                        why are you shitting all over these diaries?

                        In God we trust. All others must pay cash.

                        by yet another liberal on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:33:10 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  cause i think faith is important (4.00)
                          for instance, i don't feel i have to prove rationally that helping the poor is a good thing to do.

                          although i can make a rational case, i don't feel i have to prove rationally that a pre-emptive strike on basically defenseless countries is a war crime.

                          i don't feel i have to prove rationally that a right to privacy is a sacred human right.

                          i don't feel i have to prove empirically that a right to choice is sacred to a woman.  to everyone.

                          etc. etc. etc.

                          it took me 35 years as an atheist to realize that having faith in something is not, by definition, a sign of weakness.

                          but i still don't really believe in god.  i don't remember praying in the spiritual sense.  when my family wants to say grace at family get togethers, i am ONLY being polite.

                          "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

                          by BiminiCat on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:45:59 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Man! (none)
                            You sound like a different person.

                            In God we trust. All others must pay cash.

                            by yet another liberal on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:48:02 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  still the same person (none)
                            it occured to me that suggesting the idea that atheism could be a faith-based belief system could spark some interesting debate.

                            it honestly never occured to me that folks who pride themselves on reason and a free exchange of ideas would find the suggestion so horribly offensive.  that it would make me a neo-con or something.

                            but i'll try to keep that in mind going fwd.

                            "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

                            by BiminiCat on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:17:15 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  well, maybe people have noticed (none)
                            That saying things such as this ...

                            it occured to me that suggesting the idea that atheism could be a faith-based belief system could spark some interesting debate.

                            ... would be something a neocon troll would say.  I mean, 'faith-based'?  Hmmm.  Now this is getting interesting.

                            In God we trust. All others must pay cash.

                            by yet another liberal on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:26:18 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  that would be wierd (none)
                            cause i've never once heard a neo-con suggest what i've suggested.

                            and it would also be making an assumption that, curiously enough, is not a very rational thing to do.

                            "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

                            by BiminiCat on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:42:38 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  not rational? (none)
                            How so?

                            In God we trust. All others must pay cash.

                            by yet another liberal on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:46:54 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  assumptions (none)
                            are basically not rational.  if you get an intuition about something, the rational thing to do is to investigate further.

                            "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

                            by BiminiCat on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:53:02 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  small problem (none)
                            You already admitted to having a plan to troll.  

                            Again, you said ...

                            it occured to me that suggesting the idea that atheism could be a faith-based belief system could spark some interesting debate.

                            Also, if you honestly think you have been advancing an "interesting debate", you are severely deluded.

                            But I don't believe that.

                            In God we trust. All others must pay cash.

                            by yet another liberal on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:05:28 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  but i don't think it's trolling (4.00)
                            it's a free exchange of ideas.  simply put:  a plan to offer a different point of view is not a plan to troll.

                            at least it hadn't occured to me that such a suggestion would be regarded as trolling.  remember... i don't think having faith is -- a priori -- a bad thing.  

                            "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

                            by BiminiCat on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:25:36 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  How many comments have you put on this thread? (none)
                            Do you have any idea?

                            Also, you did the same thing last night on Darksyde's previous diary.

                            And in spite of the tremendous amount of feedback you've been given, you haven't learned a thing.

                            And now you're playing dumb like this all news to you.

                            Oh well, I give up.

                            In God we trust. All others must pay cash.

                            by yet another liberal on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:34:45 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  i'm responding to your questions (none)
                            and then you tell me i'm posting too much in this diary.

                            yes.  it's news to me that saying people have faith is an insult.

                            i'm a slow learner it's true.  maybe i should do what the diarist does and call people infantile and crazy.

                            "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

                            by BiminiCat on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:44:36 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  trollish (none)
                            Not troll,
                            but trollish:
                            never
                            ever
                            ever
                            never
                            let
                            someone else have the last word.
                          •  not trollish, troll (none)
                            And he proved today and yesterday.  Without a fucking doubt.

                            In God we trust. All others must pay cash.

                            by yet another liberal on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:28:15 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Perhaps I Can Explain (none)
                            What you are refering to as "faith," I refer to as a principle.

                            Faith smacks very strongly of believing what one wants to believe, of ideas held against evidence to the contrary. Pollyannaish.
                            Now, for those who gain their faith from a tradition like religion, that is not insulting at all. They are submitting willingly to what they take to be arcane, supernatural mystery.

                            Now, when applied to an aetheist OR someone who wants to apply principle in public affairs (such as not invading countries)... "Faith" is insulting. The reason for that is because these are people who have often arrived at their conclusions through an examination of tangible fact in history and their own observations and logic. The word faith is very dismissive. What they have is theory. Theories of course are subject to revision with new information, but are not faith-based. At all.

                            9/11 + 4 Years = Katrina... Conservatism Kills.

                            by NewDirection on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:47:31 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I don't think faith (none)
                            is believing in something despite evidence to the contrary. I think that is a bastardization of the definition of faith pushed by fundamentalists. It should be called for what it is, willful ignorance and idiocy.

                            Faith on the other hand is just choosing to believe something is true when you don't have evidence to support it or dispute it.

                          •  Well that is something we can work with (none)
                            You are suffering from a common confusion. There are, at the most basic level, two kinds of truth. For the sake of this discussion, let's call them TRUTH and truth. Roughly, TRUTH is "objective truth" and "truth" is "subjective truth". One kind

                            TRUTH is a collection of facts about the physical world and also mathematics. "2+2=4" is TRUE. That the earth orbits the sun is TRUE. Etc, etc. One can never be 100% certain about any "TRUTH", but our TRUTHS are pretty much either right or wrong. There is an objective reality, even if we don't have access to all of its secrets.

                            truths are more like beliefs/values. The statement "Bush is a fuckhead" is true. Or "killing people is wrong" or "The rich in the US don't pay their fair share of taxes" or "Class struggle is the best way to view the world" etc etc. All of these are "true," more or less. But you have to add the "more or less", because they are not true in an objective sense.

                            I have no argument with people who think the statement "god exists" is true. I don't agree with people who think the statement is TRUE. Generally speaking, I think that it is very, very important to believe in certain truths. Virtually all of us share that, and that is probably the reason we are all at dKos. I think it is downright silly to rely on faith in determining what is TRUE, however.

                          •  i wonder if the diarist thinks (none)
                            the statement... "god does not exist" is TRUE or true?

                            "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

                            by BiminiCat on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:44:57 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  well, either (none)
                            "god does exist" or "god does not exist" is TRUE. One of them must be. The default hypothesis (for obvious reasons, replace "god" with "invisible purple dinosaurs" to see why) is that the latter is TRUE. One accepts the default hypothesis until better evidence turns up.

                            The point I was making is that faith is generally a good thing, and that this discussion has no bearing on that. The only time that faith is bad is when it is relied upon to figure out what is TRUE, with a capital T (the Bush administration does this all the time, with much greater consequences). But those who use "faith" to determine that dropping bombs on Fallujah is wrong are not reasoning poorly (they aren't even reasoning--it's something else). Those that use their "faith" to determoine that god exists-- they are reasoning poorly.

                          •  atheism by default then (none)
                            wait...   what makes something TRUE??  a proven and tested hypothesis??  or a default hypothesis that exists without proof or testing??  

                            seems the parameter of what makes something TRUE has been stretched a little.

                            the last statement there makes no sense to me... seems to me the only way to determine that god exists is by making a leap of faith.

                            "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

                            by BiminiCat on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 01:15:28 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Null (none)
                            It's hypothesis testing.  If you have no evidence to demonstrate causation, you reject the alternative hypothesis -- that, being "God does exist."

                            Since there is no evidence to support it, you throw it out and assume the null -- "God Does Not Exist" -- until evidence gives you reason to doubt it.  Always assume no relationship.

                            "Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assault of thought on the unthinking." - John Maynard Keynes

                            by Drew J Jones on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:11:11 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  and i'm literally having a test (none)
                            on this on Friday (hypotheses, that is).  Striking coincidence.

                            Give me Liberty or give me death!

                            by guyermo on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 10:58:10 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Interesting: (none)
                            The default hypothesis (for obvious reasons, replace "god" with "invisible purple dinosaurs" to see why) is that the latter is TRUE.

                            can any TRUE have a default hypothesis?  I am thinking of Schrodinger's cat.

                            TRUE there is 'cat is dead' or 'cat is alive'. They are mutually exclusive, just like 'invisible purple dinosaurs Exist / do not exist'.

                            What is the default hypothesis until you open the box in the Schrodinger's Cat problem and why?

                          •  Actually, there's an answer to this. (none)
                            The default hypothesis is the least complicated one.  Ockham's Razor.

                            In the Schrodinger's Cat case, both hypotheses are equally simple.

                            In the religion case....

                          •  Nice job minimax (none)
                            Nice, rational, thoughtful... and true. (Not TRUE, but just the same still liked it.)
                          •  That doesn't make sense (none)
                            Atheism is centered around the theism, belief in an omnipotent god.  Not believing in an omnipotent God is very different from not believing in anything.

                            Your examples of feeding the hungry and a right of privacy have nothing to do with atheism or religion.

                            If your faith is in such things, then you have no argument with atheists nor they with you.  Why are you arguing with people you agree with?  And they with you?

                            "At times, to be silent is to lie."

                            by CK Dexter Haven on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:13:18 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  i didn't know speaking about faith (2.00)
                            would be arguing with someone.

                            "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

                            by BiminiCat on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 10:23:05 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  But those are frickin' easy to prove. (none)
                            But those are frickin' easy to prove.

                            Start with "making people happy is good, making people unhappy is bad" as your premise -- an uncontroversial premise which essentially everyone agress with -- and you can get to those with such solid proof that there's no reason not to prove them.

                      •  I think you like arguing... (none)
                        ... for arguing's sake.

                        But what do I know?

                        Did you take logic in college?

                        Is Dick Cheney in favor of torturing Scooter Libby in order to gain "actionable intelligence?"

                        by Bob Johnson on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:34:00 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  nope (none)
                          english lit.

                          go figure.

                          "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

                          by BiminiCat on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:46:46 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Well, reading good literature teaches one (none)
                            ... critical thinking skills.

                            That's what I want my kids to learn: how to think.  How to look at an issue or a problem and break it down.

                            But religious talk?  It makes political talk look sane.

                            Is Dick Cheney in favor of torturing Scooter Libby in order to gain "actionable intelligence?"

                            by Bob Johnson on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:50:34 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  bob... you're being offensive (3.14)
                            in case you hadn't noticed... to say a diary about atheism is a discussion about religion....

                            that's v. offensive.

                            (just in case:  that's snark, btw... )

                            "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

                            by BiminiCat on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:53:25 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Bob, you're still my hero (none)

                            "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." ~George Orwell

                            by txdem21 on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 01:19:32 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  aoeu (none)
                            I want to know what school B is going to so I don't let my children go there.  They clearly have failed in teaching critical thinking skills, believing "the dictionary" is the end all for word definitions...I never.

                            every turtle knows
                            Bush and the Republicans
                            worship just Mammon

                            by TealVeal on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 05:30:24 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  it's better than just making the definitions (none)
                            up yourself to suit your arguments.

                            just my opinion.

                            "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

                            by BiminiCat on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 10:24:56 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  aoeu (none)
                            More reason not to send my future child where you are going.  Which school is it?

                            every turtle knows
                            Bush and the Republicans
                            worship just Mammon

                            by TealVeal on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 11:22:43 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  University of Oregon (none)
                            this is typical.

                            do you realize how many times i've seen the "tell me where you went to school so i don't send my kids there" joke on the internet.

                            it's actually not very original.

                            but i answer your question in good faith.

                            if you really think looking something up in a dictionary is a stupid thing to do, that is your opinion.  i find, when i am writing things, that it is often a "sanity check" on the ideas i am mulling over.  if i'm writing about protectionism, instead of relying ONLY on what i think i know about protectionism, i will also go look it up.

                            if, in baseball, they teach you to follow some basic mechanics and follow through on your swing in the sixth grade and then you do that when you're an adult.... and THEN, while you're doing that you run into someone who bloviates as you seem to be doing:  "look at that loser,.. he's following through on his swing... pffffffftttttt.... LOL isn't that what teach you in the sixth grade."

                            if you don't think the definitions of words mean anything and people can just make them up to suit their arguments, with respect, this seems to be your opinion.

                            i do not share this opinion.

                            "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

                            by BiminiCat on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 11:40:02 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  aoeu (none)
                            "The" dictionary is never very good at defining technical terms.  You also have the problem with different dictionaries defining things in different ways.  Which is "correct"?

                            A person who says "There is no god" is different than a person who says "I don't believe in god".  you can choose to lump them together and ignore the differences in which case there is really no reason to continue any sort of discussion.  It's like lumping together yellow and orange and thinking you can still have an actual discussion on paintings.

                            every turtle knows
                            Bush and the Republicans
                            worship just Mammon

                            by TealVeal on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 11:56:41 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  ok... fair enough... good points (none)
                            dictionaries do differ, i've seen them even contradict themselves.  so it's also important to look at the context... how the word is used and the language surrounding the word.

                            i do agree.  i hope we can all see the difference between someone saying "there is no god" and someone saying "I don't believe in god."  one of those statements can also apply to agnosticism.  the other really can't.

                            what i got from the darksyde's diary is that s/he is saying "there is no god."  that, ulike an agnostic, the diarist is making a commitment to a specific conclusion.

                            if i was wrong about that, i apologize.

                            someone suggested (not me,... i didn't suggest it) in the other diary that there is a difference between "hard atheism" and "soft atheism".  that atheism can be both an aggressive denial and a disbelief.

                            and this is certainly true.  so you look at how the word is used... in context... the language surrounding it... looking at the diary itself... do you think the diarist is aggressively denying the existence of god.  or simply disbelieving.

                            if darksyde were to grace us with his/her answer, does darksyde think he's a "hard atheist" .... or a "soft atheist."??

                            it was my conclusion, upon reading the diary, that looking at the language and tone used in the diary .... that the diarist considers him/herself a "hard atheist."  that the diarist is aggressively denying the existence of god.

                            if that was wrong, i eat crow.

                            i'll put some curry on it with a side salad, thanks but crow nonetheless.

                            "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

                            by BiminiCat on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:23:56 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                  •  Not talking about faith, at all (3.11)
                    because I'm talking about atheism and what atheists believe, or don't believe. You're stuck in your own masturbatory vacuum, repeating the same old line over and over, which would be fine... except for, as I just finished saying, your insistence on repeating this falsehood that "atheism is faith" is the act of providing political support to people who work to eliminate my ability to function as a full citizen of this country. Which seems to be obvious to any casual observer of the merging of religion and politics in this country, but no, you act as if  your happy little circle-jerk between you and Tux has no consequences in the real world, when it does.
                     
                    •  He's not a pro-Dobsonite. (none)
                      I don't know about Tux, but Bimini is not even a fundamentalist. From what I can tell, he doesn't care about religious belief, or lack thereof. In other words, he is non-religious. He simply goes about articulating it in different ways than many people are used to. That is what it looks like from here.

                      Where he went too far is when he tried to speak for every athiest out there. He can't do that; he can only speak for himself.

                  •  It depends (none)
                    If you take something on "faith", then there is no evidence for it, and you might be wrong.  As long as you are right, then there's no problem.  If you are wrong, and you based important decisions in your life on wrong information, then there might be something wrong with having "faith".

                    Agreeing with everything that Bush says, because he is a religious man, and you have faith that God is with him, and God made him your leader, might be a bad thing, especially when he goes to war and kills thousands of your people, and their people.

                  •  Please write your own damn diary, BiminiCat (none)
                    so we can ignore it in peace. You're a troll, setting up strawmen so as to distract from the illogic of your beliefs. We've heard it already and you have nothing further to contribute.
                  •  I have no problem with someone having faith (none)
                    I do have a problem with people who spread falsehoods about what atheism is.

                    Stop it.

                    cheers,

                    Mitch Gore

                    Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

                    by Lestatdelc on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 11:46:08 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  apparently what i have learned (none)
                      is there are two forms of atheism.

                      one that overlaps with agnosticism, and simply believes there is no god cause there is no proof.

                      then there is the atheism that denies, and commits to a conclusion that god does not exist.  that by looking at scientific data, or using rationalism, one has arrived at a conclusion, a proven theorem of sorts:  that there is no god.  

                      my comments were about this kind of atheism and did not intentionally seek to undermine any other idea of atheism.  if you're the agnostic form of atheism, and my comments offend you, i am sorry.

                      i have asked the diarist numerous times to clarify this point.  one minute he'll say he's just guessing... the next minute he's saying that anyone who believes in god will believe in flying lizard monkeys or whatever.  which doesn't sound like a guess.

                      i'm beginning to get the sense that i understood the diarist perfectly.  and by responding to the diarist i have inadvertently offended a bunch of atheists who don't make a conclusion or a commitment about the non-existence of god but only refuse to accept that a god exists without proof.

                      i don't know.  i think that's agnosticism.  that's just my opinion.  at least i can't see anything that separates non-committal, IN-conclusive atheism from agnosticism.

                      "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

                      by BiminiCat on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 03:36:24 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Nature of scientific knowledge (none)
                        The reason this sounds odd to you is that the diarist is describing the nature of scientific knowledge, which I'm guessing you're not used to.

                        To a scientist, all knowledge is conditional guesses.  (Except mathematics, where we can invent our own universe.)  Some knowledge is better-supported than others, but there is no such thing as absolute knowledge.  That's what he means when he says that he hasn't proved that God doesn't exist and that it isn't certain.

                        When he says it's just as likely as flying lizard monkeys, he means exactly that as well.  By looking at the available evidence, there seems to be no God.  Similarly, by looking at the available evidence, Einstein's theory of gravity seems to be correct.  But it's not certain -- new evidence could show that it's not right (much as it showed that Newton's theory wasn't quite right).  Exactly the same sort of thing.

                •  ill tell you whats offensive (none)
                  your nonsensical comment, especially the last paragraph
              •  why?? (2.30)
                this is a diary about atheism... i'll stop saying you have faith, if you find it so offensive.  i'm responding to a diarist who thinks other peoples beliefs are, by definition, childish....  

                but is it wrong to ask a simple question ....

                i really don't have some agenda with this question:  what is it about faith that you find so offensive??

                i honestly don't understand it.  i have always believed that having faith in what you believe re-inforces those values.  i look at a guy like jimmy carter.  it seems to me his faith makes him stronger.

                so i don't understand why it's so offensive.

                all i can say is that there is no offense intended behind it.

                "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

                by BiminiCat on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:01:34 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Speaking for myself (4.00)
                  and, I think, for many other athiests, faith implies a strong belief based on hope, whereas our beliefs our based on logic and self-reflection.  Calling my beliefs a 'faith' minimizes what I believe, and it is offensive.

                  There's your explanation.  Can you go away now?

                  "Passing the gun from father to feckless son; We're climbing a landslide where only the good die young." Leaders of the Free World - Elbow

                  by Dave Brown on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:13:52 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  i don't think anyone is saying.... (none)
                  having faith is offensive. i think darksyde and others are saying they don't understand how those who claim to have faith rationalize it.

                  hope and faith are two different things.

                  i HOPE that humankind will overcome poverty, war, disease and hate. i don't have FAITH that they can do so.

                  Crime is contagious....if the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for the law. -- Justice Louis Brandeis

                  by FemiNazi on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:07:42 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  someone has said (2.60)
                    it's offensive....

                    http://www.dailykos.com/...

                    "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

                    by BiminiCat on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:48:06 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Big difference: (none)
                      He thought you were trying to speak for him.
                    •  Yes it's offensive (none)
                      when you insist on pigeonholing my beliefs (which I worked hard on) into your religious paradigm.  Being an english lit major, you should be aware that faith is a pretty loaded word; faith implies someone taking a step beyond logic and embracing the unknown.  

                      How about I just keep referring to religions as 'cults'.  Since (according to your buddy the dictionary) it means "A system or community of religious worship and ritual", it certainly applies.  Would this offend religious people - I would think it probably would.  Which is why I wouldn't do that.  And why I find your classification of my beliefs insulting and belittling.

                      "Passing the gun from father to feckless son; We're climbing a landslide where only the good die young." Leaders of the Free World - Elbow

                      by Dave Brown on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:15:40 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  if you want to call religion a cult (none)
                        i don't think that's really that offensive either.  not intrinsically.  the definition does actually apply and i would point that out to a church-goer.

                        of course the word cult has become acculturated to now have some negative connotations.  it would be important to keep that in mind.

                        it simply had NOT occured to me that the word faith now also has the same kind of negative connotations.

                        and ... it appears to me that the diarist is pigeonholing a theist's beliefs into his NON-religious paradigm.

                        if it's offensive for me to do it, then it's offensive for the diarist to do it.

                        "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

                        by BiminiCat on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 11:59:36 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Yes but... (none)
                          he's not having a direct dialog with you.  He's telling you what his beliefs are to him, and what others beliefs mean to him - you are trying to tell people what their beliefs mean to them.  Do you understand that yet?  Have one of your cats read this thread, and maybe they can explain it to you.

                          "Passing the gun from father to feckless son; We're climbing a landslide where only the good die young." Leaders of the Free World - Elbow

                          by Dave Brown on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 02:50:42 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  dave. lets look at this way.... (none)
                            here's what i think:

                            apparently... when the diarist says somthing like this:

                            "IT IS ONLY MY BELIEF that when YOU believe in god YOU are being irrational and childish."

                            when the diarist says that, the diarist is only telling us what he believes. right????  what a pleasant individual speaking out for what he believes.  kudos to him.  

                            but, for some reason, when i say something like this ....

                            "IT IS ONLY MY BELIEF that when YOU conclude the non-existence of god, YOU are making a leap of faith."

                            when i say that, lo!! behold.  the villian arrives... i am not just stating my belief, am i??  nope.  i'm telling you what you believe.  aren't i??  i have offended an entire group of people to the very core of their being.

                            so tell me again how the diarist isn't doing the exact same thing you accuse me of doing??

                            the diarist isn't trying to tell people what their beliefs mean to them???  okey dokey...  then I am not doing that either.  i was ONLY STATING MY BELIEF.

                            if it's offensive when i do it.

                            then it's offensive when the diarist does it.

                            there's probably a lesson about intolerance in here somewhere.  in truth, my cat's too nipped out to care.

                            "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

                            by BiminiCat on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 04:00:14 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                •  Look: (4.00)
                  It's OK to speak for yourself. If you want to say that you're not an athiest because you think it's OK to have faith, then say it. But you can't speak for others by saying that all athiesm is faith-based.

                  When you speak for yourself, nobody would mind at all. But when you try to make overly-broad, general statements that do not accurately represent what other people believe, that is what sets people off and gets the 0's flying.

                  You can believe whatever you want. All I ask is that you speak for yourself.

                  •  can i ask the same thing of the diarist (none)
                    when s/he speaks of people of faith??

                    "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

                    by BiminiCat on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:49:29 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                      •  seems to me that he is saying (none)
                        people who believe in god arrive at that conclusion out of some infantile insanity??

                        i think we agree... it's wrong to decide for others how they arrive at their belief system.

                        "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

                        by BiminiCat on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:17:13 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  He was speaking for himself: (none)
                          That's just a handful Biblical claims that make little or no sense to me. I'm not saying they didn't happen or that they're impossible, only that they make little or no sense To Me. I'm sure others can provide other exemplars that make no sense to them in comments.
                          •  the first person plural (none)
                            the royal "we" is employed throughout.

                            so is the second person pronoun.

                            that's a nice disclaimer.

                            look...  if i said this:  "i am only saying this is what makes sense TO ME ... i am only stating something that i believe.  you can call atheism anything you want.  i am only speaking for myself when i say that when you make any definitive conclusion at all about the existence or non-existence of god, you are making a conclusion that can never be verified rationally."

                            now was i just speaking for you??  or was i just stating something that i believe??

                            if i was just speaking for you... then the diarist was speaking for me when he said this..

                            You can call atheism anything you want, but you may just confuse people if you do so. Because if atheism is a religion, then not collecting stamps is a hobby and baldness is a hair color.

                            even with the disclaimer you just posted it certainly seems to me the diarist is saying:  if you believe in god, you come to that belief out of infantilism and insanity.  

                            disclaimers are great.  but i think we've all heard the, "i don't mean to call you yadda yadda yadda, but you really are blah blah blah," routine.

                            "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

                            by BiminiCat on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 02:26:32 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  huh? (none)
                            You can call atheism anything you want, but you may just confuse people if you do so. Because if atheism is a religion, then not collecting stamps is a hobby and baldness is a hair color.
                            ---
                            even with the disclaimer you just posted it certainly seems to me the diarist is saying: if you believe in god, you come to that belief out of infantilism and insanity.


                            The quote you gave says nothing of the kind. It says nothing about religion at all except that the lack of it is called atheism and that said lack isn't religion.

                            An the section of the diary on invalid arguments is separate from the section on the basis of religious belief. The former was directed outward, and the latter was directed inward.
                          •  the quote i gave says.... (2.66)
                            if you believe atheism is a religion then you also will believe that not collecting stamps is a hobby.

                            that's the diarist making a conclusion about what others believe.

                            if it's offensive for me to do it... then it's offensive for everyone to do it.

                            "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

                            by BiminiCat on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 10:13:25 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  No, it is statement of fact (none)
                            You can believe the word car means a fish, but that is not what the word sand the concepts behind them mean. If you willfully want to make a stand that the meanings of words and concepts are yours alone and that people using the accepted meaning of those words and concepts is someone forcing their "beliefs on you" then you are welcome to make up your language for all the good it will do you.

                            You are engaging in masturbatory nonsense and wasting our time by populating this thread with a stream of argument for agreements sake.

                            cheers,

                            Mitch Gore

                            Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

                            by Lestatdelc on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 11:53:45 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  no... it's not really a fact (none)
                            anyone can believe what they want here and i can believe in my world that my atheism is a religion, but that would NOT mean i believe that not collecting stamps is a hobby.

                            "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

                            by BiminiCat on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:29:54 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Huh? (none)

                            cheers,

                            Mitch Gore

                            Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

                            by Lestatdelc on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 01:47:04 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  i know (none)
                            it makes no sense at all to say if one thinks atheism is a religion, then one also must think not collecting stamps is a hobby.

                            my reaction was basically the same.  huh??

                            and, according to some, it's also offensive to speak for others in this manner.

                            "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

                            by BiminiCat on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 02:00:01 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Correct, but: (none)
                            Correct.  But what is a fact is this:
                            "Atheism is just as much a religion as not-collecting-stamps is a hobby."

                            You may believe things which are wrong, or even inconsistent, of course.

                          •  No (none)
                            It says nothing about what you believe.

                            It says that if the definition of religion is expanded to include atheism, then the definition of "hobby" can include "no hobby", and the definition of "hair color" can include "baldness".

                            He does not say "if you believe atheism is a religion then you also will believe that not collecting stamps is a hobby". He says that if you if you believe atheism is a religion and you don't also believe that not collecting stamps is a hobby, you are being inconsistent.
                          •  you did it again (none)
                            you are speaking for others.  you are taking what you believe, applying it to others, and then drawing a conclusion that they are being inconsistent.

                            here:  

                            i don't, but if i choose to do so, as long as i don't force this definition onto others i am free to believe that atheism is a religion.  i am free to believe that if a person chooses to do so, they can practice atheism.  and live according to those sets of beliefs.

                            i can also believe that not collecting stamps is not a hobby.  it makes no sense to practice not collecting stamps.

                            and these beliefs are not, according to me, inconsistent.  these beliefs, in my opinion, are totally consistent.

                            you're applying your set of definitions onto others, and i'm told that's very offensive.

                            "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

                            by BiminiCat on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 02:10:22 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  There you go. (none)
                            i don't, but if i choose to do so, as long as i don't force this definition onto others i am free to believe that atheism is a religion.

                            That was hard to parse. Are you saying that you're free to have your own private definition of atheism? OK, I guess.

                            and live according to those sets of beliefs.How on earth do you live according to that set of beliefs? It makes no prescription for behavior. You can't "practice" atheism.

                            i can also believe that not collecting stamps is not a hobby. it makes no sense to practice not collecting stamps.Exactly. And it makes no sense to practice not believing in gods.
                          •  if one does not live out what one believes (none)
                            if one does not put it into practice.  then believing it means nothing at all.  

                            adhering to strict cause and effect rationalism... that is one way to practice atheism.

                            "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

                            by BiminiCat on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 03:07:53 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Exactly! (none)
                            You don't "believe in" atheism, or "have faith in" atheism because doing so means nothing at all. It is merely the designated word for not believing in gods. I don't "live out" not believing in unicorns. I don't "put into practice" not believing in leprechauns. When I read a nice novel, I don't expend any energy believing that it is fiction.

                            Adhering to strict cause and effect rationalism is not "one way to practice atheism" - you can do it and also believe in gods, and you can be an atheist and not adhere to strict cause and effect rationalism.
                          •  ok... whew... i think i see it now (none)
                            atheism is not something one believes in.

                            now that i see the real definition of atheism, one that i was blind to, i can see that it is wrong for someone to believe in atheism.

                            "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

                            by BiminiCat on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 03:43:44 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                      •  you wrote 'for', BC wrote 'of' (none)
                        which certainly isn't "fair enough".
                  •  The question as I understand it as pertaining to (none)
                    logic is that you have to have faith to believe in God...You also have to have some faith to not believe in god... In this vien I am an agnostic or fence sitter. I look at the world the same way that Dark does. I just don't have faith that their is not some Higher power be he a number or other being.

                    Someone once told me that many of the founding fathers were diests.. That the believed their was a god he made the earth set it on a mantel and left. He does not interact or influence it. It is like an experiment for which the scientist loses interest and forgets about..

                    But to say that their is not some level of faith on both sides is a logical failing also.

                    "For the record I have not opened the monster Thread and doubt I will until a later day..

                    For the record I don't care what make you happy believing, not believing or sitting with me in the middle thinking well who knows. Still I don't believe in the insurance of faith that is religion either. And to some I might be the same as the atheists in their belief in god. If that is so then God said judgement is mine and it will be a damn good conversation.

                    Be nice and have a great week all of you ... Da

            •  It is, when Crypsis is full of shit (none)
              Here's what I posted on his response diary:

              I'm not at any rung on any ladder.

              I simply see the world, naturalistically as it is, and make what I consider (per Occam's Razor) to be the most empirically supported and logically deduced conclusions.

              If you or others want to put a label of "atheist" on my, that's fine.

              As for the idea that life is "purposeless," that's bullshit.

              You give your life whatever purpose it has.

              As for the implication that atheism is "intellectual only," that too is bullshit. I can send you atheistic poetry and essays, including a newspaper column of mine about just what is humanistic about being an atheist.

              "There is no god, and I am his prophet." SocraticGadfly

              by steverino on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:22:42 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Atheism... (none)
                As for the implication that atheism is "intellectual only," that too is bullshit.

                I'd be careful here ... I think for definition atheism should strictly be about disbelief in supernatural gods. Secular humanism has great, inspiring works of art -- and it has infinity, which Christianity can not touch for awesomeness -- but it does not automatically come from being an atheist.

                I think what we could say is that being an atheist does not close you off to beauty, morality, or meaning. But I respect that search no matter what path people take, whether it be religiously based or not.

              •  Atheism... (none)
                As for the implication that atheism is "intellectual only," that too is bullshit.

                I'd be careful here ... I think for definition atheism should strictly be about disbelief in supernatural gods. Secular humanism has great, inspiring works of art -- and it has infinity, which Christianity can not touch for awesomeness -- but it does not automatically come from being an atheist.

                I think what we could say is that being an atheist does not close you off to beauty, morality, or meaning. But I respect that search no matter what path people take, whether it be religiously based or not.

          •  A calm discussion (4.00)
            I wish we could have a calm discussion of this. Despite my "No more God Diaries" diary earlier, I recognize that this is an important subject, but it sees a lot of people just want to fight. Maybe they're a minority, but damn are they loud. And it seems a lot of people (again, perhaps a minority) are talking more than they are listening, continuing to say things that insult the other side long after the other side explained why it was insulting.

            Oh, well. It's after midnight here in PA and I have to teach tomorrow, so good night, good luck, and play fair.

            When you stop being paranoid, that's when they get you.

            by astraea on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:41:42 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  One of my nursing instructors told me something (none)
              Once that is never underestimate the power of denial. Logic tells me that Dark is right. It also tells me that God....(However you define him in you belief)is not unprovable. It might be a number or something far different that we can imagine. So in that vien we are but lost in our search for truth..

              As for the future I to see the bright possibilities but Understand that we should take great care in how we shape that future.

              As Bill Joy .. No LUDDITE.. Warns us..
              Funny that after I read this I kept marveling at the scope of Frank Herberts vision of the future.. Well here is the link for those that are interested in the last part of Darks great Post.. http://www.wired.com/...

        •  I don't believe you are interested in this stuff (1.61)
          All the points DarkSyde makes are so
          basic, they've been debated for millenia.
          That is not to say these questions are not
          valid; it is just sad to see two things:
          1. Those who think that these points are
          indeed worthy of discussion again and again
          (ok, fine, I take this one back)
          2. Embracing by the kossaks of anyone
          who follows this simple faux-syllogism:

          a) We don't like Republicans (major premise,
          good reason for it).
          b) All Republicans are fundamentalist Christians
          (not true, but being a premise, let's accept
          it -- although it hurts your chances with
          wedge issues with libertarians, but hey,
          we'd rather be pissed off at less enlightened
          folks).

          Therefore

          c) We hate fundamentalist Christians

          And without a pause there's the next one:

          a) We hate fundamentalist Christians
          b) Fundamentalist Christians believe in God

          therefore

          c) We hate the belief in God.

          Now, I may agree that the syllogisms above are
          poorly phrased, and I agree that you need not
          subscribe to the syllogistic logic. However, if
          you appeal to it, well, be prepared to defend
          your conclusions on those terms. And DarkSyde,
          sad to say, sucks at it.

          •  What? (4.00)
            Your comments are ridiculous. Dark Syde is in his forties now and came to his conclusions regarding his place and his own view of the world when he was very young. Long before Fundamentalist Christians and the current Bush regime. Long before the Republican Party became dominated by Christians.

            Your "syllogism" is a ridiculous load of crap. Those of us who have an absence of belief in the supernatural did not come to that conclusion because of our distaste for the current version of the Republican Party. Even within the Democratic Party it would make life so much easier if we atheist could just close down our rational minds and our doubts and join the believers. We are discriminated against, even within our own families. But I can not and will not live a lie. I will not claim a belief I do not have.

            Dark Syde speaks eloquently on the subject. The last few paragraphs are powerful. I will have my son read this diary because it so clearly articulates what I have tried to instill in him.

            Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the begining of wisdom. ---Bertand Russell

            by leeroy on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:33:45 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Let me say (3.66)
              First that it is better to be an athiest than be an hypocrite. An athiest is a thinker, above all whereas a lot of "believers" are simply not exercising their brain, just regurtating the same talking points espoused by their churches or synangogues.

              But after all the quarels I find this and it fills my soul to the brim:

              At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
              Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
              But neither arrest nor movement.
              And do not call it fixity,
              Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
              Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
              There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.

              Without the "still point* there would be no dance. God has left no signature in His creation, but if you seek you will find. Imagine Buddha or Christ, imagine their lives. Do you really think they would have sufffered that much, with all their love and compassion and wisdom, if there were no ultimate Truth? There is something higher, even though we cannot fathom it.

              •  Truth (4.00)
                Imagine Buddha or Christ, imagine their lives. Do you really think they would have suffered that much, with all their love and compassion and wisdom, if there were no ultimate Truth?

                The "suffering" of Buddha and Christ as we know it today is only what was chronicled by others, long after their death. Suffering, in and of itself, does not grant the sufferer validity.  The schizophrenic that believes he is Christ incarnate and insists on carrying his cross everywhere he goes, despite the ridicule and the run-ins with the law, he does not have more truth because he has suffered.

                There is something higher, even though we cannot fathom it.

                Why? How do you know? Because an ancient story told you so? The "wisdom" we assign to Buddha and to Christ did not originate with them. There are great lessons and words to live by in the teachings of Christ.  There are also destructive and archaic views that hurt and don't heal. These views, expressed in the New Testament and attributed to Christ had antecedents in the writings of other earlier work by Jewish scholars and philosophers as well as the collective learning of mankind up to that point. "Do unto others as you would have done unto you" from the Sermon on the Mount is quite possibly the most important philosophy for the success and continuation of the human race we have ever codified. But this tenet did not originate with the appearance of Christ. This concept exists in almost every ancient text concerning behavioral precepts. We came to this understanding; everywhere humans established a significant culture. This "truth" was not handed out via mystics, but rather through a very pragmatic observation of the human condition.

                Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the begining of wisdom. ---Bertand Russell

                by leeroy on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:01:07 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  It is true (none)
                  that nothing becomes Truth just because someone says it. At the same time, Jesus's life and his main commandment(Love your God..) doesn't make any sense in a purely "ethical" way either. We can cherry pick whatever we like in Sermon on the Mount (which by the way does not possess "Do unto others" dictum) but the main emphasis of his teaching was on the world to come, not with this world. There is no human society where you can find justification of the first sermon: "Blessed are the meek which shall inherit the world". It goes against the very grain the way the world works and has always worked. So, your observation that we derive all our moral truths from "a pragmatic observation of the human condition" doesn't hold atleast in the context of Jesus's teachings.

                  Almost all modern New Testament scholarship has focused on this aspect of Jesus's teaching: It was primarily concerned with the life after the advent of Kingdom of Heaven. Infact, it was this otherworldly feature what made it so different from the dominant Jewish idea of social justice. When Jesus said, "Blessed are the hungry and thirsty for they shall be filled" he meant that for that happen in the life to come, not in this lifetime.

                  •  Reply (none)
                    I did not state that we derive all our moral truths from "a pragmatic observation of the human condition" only that the golden rule, as expressed in Luke 6:31 and Matthew 7:12(Part of the Sermon on the Mount) appears to have been derived from a pragmatic observation of the human condition over time. We stand at the shoulders of our forefathers, we learn from their trial and error. That is why Native Americans knew what berries are edible and which will kill you. It's why Confucianism taught "Do not unto others what you would not have them do unto you." (Analects 15:23), and Judaism: "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor that is the entire Torah; all the rest is commentary." (Talmud, Shabbat 31a). I could go on and on with a list of sources that predate the appearance of Christ.

                    Regarding your other point, Blessed are the meek which shall inherit the world  did not originate with Christ. Read Psalm 37:11 The Psalms predate the New Testament.

                    Regarding the afterlife and the concept of reward in the hereafter, again that is a concept much older than the appearance of Christ. I could go into the Buddhist and Hindu teachings but instead I will focus on another Mediterranean philosopher that predated Christ and whose philosophical influence can be found in the New Testament (though not necessarily directly from the following passage, but it rhymes)

                    Teaching Plato in Translation
                    by Susan Gorman, Boston University

                    The Phaedo culminates in a description of the afterlife. Following the detailed arguments for the immortality of the soul, we finally get a glimpse of what reward the philosophical soul could expect. Before arriving at the text in which Plato's Socrates describes the afterlife, we already have been given clues to what it may be like........

                    What is the point of this description of the afterlife? In my more skeptical moments, and my students generally bring up this point as well, this seems like pure propaganda for philosophy. What better way to gain followers to your thought than through promises of everlasting happiness?

                    I could go on and on at this, but we will probably never see things the same way. Regarding my tag line, I find it to be a fundamental Human truth, regardless of the rest of Bertrand Russell's writings. I have no deities. I respect the writing of his I have read so far but he does not occupy, nor does any man for me occupy, a high, high pedestal. If you have reference to specific "strawman" arguments of his I would like to read them.

                    Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the begining of wisdom. ---Bertand Russell

                    by leeroy on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:45:57 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                •  I like the tagline from Russell (none)
                  I guess you have read Russell's "Why I am not a Christian" and his theory of "omnipotent matter rolls on". I have read Russell early in college and he made a lot of sense except when he is clearly attacking a straw man. Religion is a complex affair and sometimes Russell takes the most simplistic view of it and attacks it relentlessly but ignores the more complex parts of it completely. The early religion may originated in fear but human's concept evolved with time the same way modern Chemistry or Astronomy may originated in magic and alchemy but now is completely independent of them.
                  •  Well... (none)
                    I posit that religion by and large is predominantly fear based, that fear being based on mortality and the desire to deal with ones mortality via the coping mechanism that there is an eternal soul, afterlife, etc.

                    cheers,

                    Mitch Gore

                    Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

                    by Lestatdelc on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 03:46:06 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

          •  that reminds me of.... (4.00)
            .... what my logic professor said his wife badgered him with:

            men are pigs
            you are a man
            therefore, you are a pig.

            me personally?

            We don't like Republicans

            i know a few republicans who are extremely likeable. so, speak for yourself, not me.

            b) All Republicans are fundamentalist Christians
            (not true, but being a premise, let's accept
            it -- although it hurts your chances with
            wedge issues with libertarians, but hey,
            we'd rather be pissed off at less enlightened
            folks).

            your statement must be true in order for your conclusion to work, therefore:

            c) We hate fundamentalist Christians

            cannot be true either.

            i, for one, don't "hate" anyone. dislike, yes; hate, no.

            a) We hate fundamentalist Christians
            b) Fundamentalist Christians believe in God
            therefore
            c) We hate the belief in God.

            again, i don't hate anyone. i dislike fundamentalists of all stripes, including fundie islamists. it's not that i dislike their beliefs in "whatever," it's that i dislike their eagerness to share their beliefs with me, unasked.

            lastly, i'm not sure who this "we" is you're talking about. have you got a mouse in your pocket?

            Crime is contagious....if the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for the law. -- Justice Louis Brandeis

            by FemiNazi on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:16:51 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Wrong. (4.00)
            I would hope that nobody would condemn belief in God. But if you want to make a credible attack on DarkSyde, you need to give me a link to a post where he said that all thiests are bad.

            I have debated the question of God's existance with him before, and I haven't got that out of him at all. I don't feel threatened by his belief in athiesm, and I could care less if he explains why he is one on these threads.

            Your post is not helpful unless you give me links to people condemning belief in God as opposed to belief in fundamentalism.

          •  Where did this response come from? (none)
            All I said was:
            "I'm interested in all this stuff, as are many Kossacks. It is a very important subject. But no one wants to read endless squabbling. PLEASE be polite, read what each other says, and try to be understanding."

            Why do you say I'm not interested?
            And what's all this about logic?

            There is a huge religious divide in our country. Religion influences politics. It's an important subject we can't easily ignore. I think we can best do this if we remain open-minded, calm, and if we try to be polite and understanding with each other.

            When you stop being paranoid, that's when they get you.

            by astraea on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:37:31 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  What horseshit (none)
            You are creating your syllogism and projecting it on DS and many others here out of whole cloth.

            In short, you are full of shit.

            cheers,

            Mitch Gore

            Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

            by Lestatdelc on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 11:57:41 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  can we just (4.00)
          get all the faithy people, those who believe in religion/spirituality/santa claus off this damned post and revel in being unbelievers?  I embrace all of you who are non-believers!  

          Pro-Choice and Proud of It!

          by powwow500 on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:38:42 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I am an "unbeliever", yet it is (none)
            quite apparent to me that DarkSyde is not only preaching to the crowd, here. Furthermore, I myself enjoy reading what "people of faith" have to say as long as they are being sincere and speak with respect (that goes for "us" as well!).
      •  Life is a "gift?" (1.00)
        The Darksyde says?

        A gift from WHO or WHAT?

        The word "gift" implies a GIVER.

        And what is the basis for any NORMATIVE concept of morality or social justice without some form of theism?

        Without some belief in God, then all our beliefs are no more than the subjective possessions of biological organisms that randomly got here on this earth and randomly will dissappear.

        If that is the case, then there is no reason why a right wing Republican is any less justified or laudable in screwing over society for his own benefit, for fucking over as many people as he can, than is a person like Martin Luther King, Jr. for what he did.

        Such concepts as "good" "right" "morality" "justice" "wrong" "truth" become no more than the subjective beliefs of one organism or group of organisms.

        And if that is the case, then there's no way you can call Bush or the Republicans "evil."  (In fact, the whole concept of "evil" becomes meaningless.)

        What they are doing is entirely understandable according to the way things are.  They are grabbing all they can NOW, and only for themselves.  AND THERE'S NO REASON WHY THEY SHOULD DO OTHERWISE.  NONE WHATSOEVER.

        And there is nothing "wrong" with it, other than YOU AND OTHERS DON'T LIKE IT.

        But without a God, why should what you or others like you "like" have any more wieght than what people like Bush or pro-Bush people "like" or "want?"

        In the end, it is ALL meaningless, as are our complete existences.  And even concepts such as "love" "fidelity" "honor" are nothing more than products of the random firings of biological/physical processes that go on in these biological organisms we call our bodies, and in the end, nothing more than complete and utter BULLSHIT.

        In fact, everything we are doing here now--even this "gift" called life--is meaningless, and there's no reason why I shouldn't just come about and end your life, or mine, or anyone else's whenever I feel like it because in the end, none of it matters anyway.  It is just the bringing to an end of random biological/physical processes that have no ultimate meaning or purpose.

        In fact, why not build a doomsday weapon to end the whole human race?  And why not do it just for the "thrill" of it?

        'Cause in the end, what does any of it matter?

        None of this may feel good.  But who cares?  After all, even what we "feel" is just he product of random biological/physical processes, with no ultimate or cosmic rhyme or reason behind them.

        •  wow! (none)
          Am I seeing things or did you just randomly prove the existence of God.

          In God we trust. All others must pay cash.

          by yet another liberal on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:10:58 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  ridiculous (none)
          The word "gift" implies a GIVER.

          Semantics.

          Sponge Bob, Mandrake, Cartoons. That's how your hard-core islamahomocommienazis work.

          by Benito on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:21:47 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Is an orphan (none)
          ...justified in theft, rape, murder, just because there's no parent around to punish?

          Or are some things intrinsically wrong because they hurt others unnecessarily, and thus make it harder to put together a workable society?

          Is homosexual sex wrong because it hurts someone, or because Daddy said so?  If God existed, and His rules made for a worse society with people getting hurt who don't have to be--is that a net "plus" for the world?  And are not His followers pursuing just such a strategy, right now, right in this country?

          Rubus Eradicandus Est.

          by Randomfactor on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 09:45:35 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You still don't get it do you? (none)
            Here's what you wrote:

            "Or are some things intrinsically wrong because they hurt others unnecessarily, and thus make it harder to put together a workable society?

            My response is this:  If there's no God, so what if something hurts others unnecessarily or if it makes it harder to put together a workable society?  If there's not God, what does the concept of "intricisally wrong" even mean to begin with?  

            Without a God, than any notion that "putting together a workable society" is any kind of a normative virtue worth pursuing, is ridiculous.  

            Why should it matter if something makes a society workable or not?  What does ANYTHING MATTER?  Why isn't what you believe is "good" or "reasonable" or "Humane"  anything other than your SUBJECTIVE belief or value system about that thing?  And if so, why should I have to follow it too?

            The whole idea of "virtue" is ridiculous, whether that is defined in purely utilitarian terms (as in "it's good for people to get along and to have a workable society") or in theistic terms (as in "it's good because God says so.")

            Let me explain it like this:

            What makes the goals of having a "workable society" or "not bringing harm to others" necessarily meaningful in any normative sense if there is no God.  

            NOt that such goals may not be important to you and to others.  But, if there's no God, you are just a biological organism, an accident of the universe, and your fellow humans are also just biological organisms and fellow accidents of the universe . . . and your thoughts about the importance of a "workable society" and the importance of "not bringing harm to others" are also no more than accidents of the universe as well.

            While they may be important to you and me, in the final analysis, without a God, what is important to us really doesn't matter to anyone other than us.

            It is just that:  What is important to US, who are no more than biological organisms and flukes in the universe, random coagulations of matter, who define by what is "good" or "important" by pure self-reference--i.e. to thought and value systems--including those that prize "survival" of the individual or of a group or of a species--to thier own subjective experience.  And since the "virtue" or "goals" of survival and the desire for it is no more than a fucntion of random biological/physical forces, what does it matter, in the final analysis, if this goal is not achieved, or compeltely abrogated?

            What does it matter if you or I or society or the species or the planet survive or burn to a crisp tomorrow in a nuclear holocaust?  If there's no God, what does it matter if you, or I, or our society, or our planet survive or "work" or they don't?

            What I'm saying is, if there's no God, who cares about what you think is important, even if what you think is important is merely something as simple, mundane and ostensibly non-theistic as "not doing harm" to others, or "ensuring a workable society."

            Without a God, concepts such as "not doing harm" to others, or "ensuring a workable society" have no ultimate objective or normative meaning.

            Why should the goals or principles of "not doing harm" or "ensuring a workable society" be normative for me if there's no God?  What makes these goals so "good" such that I should have to follow them or pursue or agree to them?

            What if I was to say, "I believe that the ultimate "good" is spreading as much misery, chaos and suffering as possible because it makes me feel good and it gives me a big hard-on?"  

            Who are you to say that my notion of what is "good" is any more correct or "right" than your notion is?

            Upon what basis would you be able to say that your way was "right" and my way was "wrong" or that your value system was any more superior to mine?

            Thus the idea of morality--whether that moral idea is expressed in something as traditionally theistic as the Ten Commandments, the "Golden Rule" or something as supposedly non-theistic as "acting in ways that promote a workable society"--is ultimately MEANINGLESS in any normative sense without a God.

            Without a God, there is only what you think is "good" or "worthwhile" and what I think is "good" and "worthwhile"--it's all relative and it's all subjective.   And who are you to say that one person's idea is any "better" than another's?

            I mean, to belabor the point, the Bushies obviously don't value the notion of a "workable society" or at least don't value any notion of a "workable society" that resembles mine.  Who is to say that they are wrong and that you or I are right if there's no God?  Who is to say that their way of looking at the world is any more inferior or superior to yours or mine?

            •  Ahem (none)
              The word "virtue" as you mentioned here has quite a history, shall we say. Nietzsche mentioned this in one of his books (which one I forgot). In earlier times, this word meant something along the lines of "virility"(which has the same root with the Sanskrit word "vira" which means "brave") which means that someone who is "virtuous" happens to be very strong in physical strength, a warrior who can handle quite a few women. Well, then in Victorian age, the word drastically changed its meaning to mean something quite the opposite, someone who abstains from sexuality.

              The thing is all moral terms are ambigous and changed its meaning over the course of time and therefore unlikely to have an Absolute source. We can have a "moral" society in human terms without taking recourse to God. However, that does not preclude the existence of God as an a priori Being. But in this relative world, we can live fairly well without invoking God.

            •  Two words. (none)
              Enlightened self-interest.

              --
              What makes the goals of having a "workable society" or "not bringing harm to others" necessarily meaningful in any normative sense if there is no God.
              --

              Well, I certainly would prefer to live in a workable society; and it makes me unhappy when other people are unhappy; and I'd like other people to not harm me, so I think not harming them is the way to get them to do that.

              --
               What does it matter if you or I or society or the species or the planet survive or burn to a crisp tomorrow in a nuclear holocaust?
              --
              I quite enjoy life and would like to continue it.

              --
              What if I was to say, "I believe that the ultimate "good" is spreading as much misery, chaos and suffering as possible because it makes me feel good and it gives me a big hard-on?"
              --
              Then we would lock you up, so that you wouldn't mess with our pursuit of happiness.  And you wouldn't be very happy about that, would you?

              Luckily, most people are not like that.

          •  You still don't get it do you? (none)
            Here's what you wrote:

            "Or are some things intrinsically wrong because they hurt others unnecessarily, and thus make it harder to put together a workable society?

            My response is this:  If there's no God, so what if something hurts others unnecessarily or if it makes it harder to put together a workable society?  If there's not God, what does the concept of "intricisally wrong" even mean to begin with?  

            Without a God, than any notion that "putting together a workable society" is any kind of a normative virtue worth pursuing, is ridiculous.  

            Why should it matter if something makes a society workable or not?  What does ANYTHING MATTER?  Why isn't what you believe is "good" or "reasonable" or "Humane"  anything other than your SUBJECTIVE belief or value system about that thing?  And if so, why should I have to follow it too?

            The whole idea of "virtue" is ridiculous, whether that is defined in purely utilitarian terms (as in "it's good for people to get along and to have a workable society") or in theistic terms (as in "it's good because God says so.")

            Let me explain it like this:

            What makes the goals of having a "workable society" or "not bringing harm to others" necessarily meaningful in any normative sense if there is no God.  

            NOt that such goals may not be important to you and to others.  But, if there's no God, you are just a biological organism, an accident of the universe, and your fellow humans are also just biological organisms and fellow accidents of the universe . . . and your thoughts about the importance of a "workable society" and the importance of "not bringing harm to others" are also no more than accidents of the universe as well.

            While they may be important to you and me, in the final analysis, without a God, what is important to us really doesn't matter to anyone other than us.

            It is just that:  What is important to US, who are no more than biological organisms and flukes in the universe, random coagulations of matter, who define by what is "good" or "important" by pure self-reference--i.e. to thought and value systems--including those that prize "survival" of the individual or of a group or of a species--to thier own subjective experience.  And since the "virtue" or "goals" of survival and the desire for it is no more than a fucntion of random biological/physical forces, what does it matter, in the final analysis, if this goal is not achieved, or compeltely abrogated?

            What does it matter if you or I or society or the species or the planet survive or burn to a crisp tomorrow in a nuclear holocaust?  If there's no God, what does it matter if you, or I, or our society, or our planet survive or "work" or they don't?

            What I'm saying is, if there's no God, who cares about what you think is important, even if what you think is important is merely something as simple, mundane and ostensibly non-theistic as "not doing harm" to others, or "ensuring a workable society."

            Without a God, concepts such as "not doing harm" to others, or "ensuring a workable society" have no ultimate objective or normative meaning.

            Why should the goals or principles of "not doing harm" or "ensuring a workable society" be normative for me if there's no God?  What makes these goals so "good" such that I should have to follow them or pursue or agree to them?

            What if I was to say, "I believe that the ultimate "good" is spreading as much misery, chaos and suffering as possible because it makes me feel good and it gives me a big hard-on?"  

            Who are you to say that my notion of what is "good" is any more correct or "right" than your notion is?

            Upon what basis would you be able to say that your way was "right" and my way was "wrong" or that your value system was any more superior to mine?

            Thus the idea of morality--whether that moral idea is expressed in something as traditionally theistic as the Ten Commandments, the "Golden Rule" or something as supposedly non-theistic as "acting in ways that promote a workable society"--is ultimately MEANINGLESS in any normative sense without a God.

            Without a God, there is only what you think is "good" or "worthwhile" and what I think is "good" and "worthwhile"--it's all relative and it's all subjective.   And who are you to say that one person's idea is any "better" than another's?

            I mean, to belabor the point, the Bushies obviously don't value the notion of a "workable society" or at least don't value any notion of a "workable society" that resembles mine.  Who is to say that they are wrong and that you or I are right if there's no God?  Who is to say that their way of looking at the world is any more inferior or superior to yours or mine?

            •  Wow, these posts by you are so full of... (none)
              ...shit its hard to wade through but since no one else has, let me...

              I thought I might trash every word as you have done but then my post would be fifty pages long to prove one simple concept:  God does not equal society (and of course its corollary that Lack of God does not equal the absence of Society)

              Whether everyone agrees with the concept, human beings are animals, not unlike other animals on this planet.  We have social structures just as they do.  Do apes believe in God?  I can't prove they don't but lets all be adults and imagine they probably don't.  So if they don't then what stops them from killing their children?  Those damn things are a pain in the ass to raise and they take away from your play time and take alot of work to feed and such.  Why don't they kill each other every chance they get?  Then all the food would be theirs and they wouldn't have to worry about other Apes taking anything of theirs.  Just because they don't believe in God doesn't mean they don't realize on an instinctual level that working together in a societal structure is beneficial to them.

              Your logic is so groundless that it is really hard to address all the errors so I'll try to be as clear and direct as possible.  Human society is a trial and error experiment that has progressed fro mtheearliest days of man, and there is all kinds of evidence along the way to prove this.  Wars are obviously failures and breakdowns in that society.  Religions are simply methods of the ruling class to try to control (sometimes for evil gain) the masses that make up a society.  Societal concepts such as working together to feed the community or not killing each other or stopping at stop signs so as not to run into each other are all common sense concepts that have nothing to do with religion, they have to do with survival.

              Just because we don't know what our "purpose" on this planet is, doesn't mean we should all just die because "what's the point".  If that was true then every animal might as well just stop eating and die because they have no purpose, for themselves.  If that was true, then God fucked up pretty bad by not being more obvious because millions of people in the world doubt his/her/its existence and thus, according to you, have no purpose in living and securing that life through working together adhering to societal norms and such and might as well just walk off the next pier.

              This is the exact kind of bullshit logic Dark Syde is talking about that makes people like us question whether you are actually serious or not because honestly, your logic is so far fetched that we can't imagine people living their lives based on such ridiculous tenuous strings of "reality".  Not to mention, as Dark Syde made pretty clear, if you need to go to such great lengths to disprove the disproof through unfathomable logic, then you might want to reexamine your original concept in the first place...unless of course, true rationality is a concept you are completely divorced from...    

              -5.0, -4.87 -- I have the same rating as the Dalai Lama??? Yeah surprises me too... "Wake up every day and live like you mean it"

              by I Want My American Pride Back on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 03:04:39 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  My response (none)
                 [new] Wow, these posts by you are so full of... (none / 0)

                ...shit its hard to wade through but since no one else has, let me...

                --Really?  "Full of shit," huh?  Well, you'd better lay out your case and do it well, otherwise, my friend, I'll say that YOU are the one who is full of shit.

                I thought I might trash every word as you have done but then my post would be fifty pages long to prove one simple concept:  God does not equal society (and of course its corollary that Lack of God does not equal the absence of Society)

                --And nowhere did I say that God equals society?  So where did you come up with this concept?

                Whether everyone agrees with the concept, human beings are animals, not unlike other animals on this planet.  We have social structures just as they do.  Do apes believe in God?  I can't prove they don't but lets all be adults and imagine they probably don't.  So if they don't then what stops them from killing their children?  Those damn things are a pain in the ass to raise and they take away from your play time and take alot of work to feed and such.  Why don't they kill each other every chance they get?  Then all the food would be theirs and they wouldn't have to worry about other Apes taking anything of theirs.  Just because they don't believe in God doesn't mean they don't realize on an instinctual level that working together in a societal structure is beneficial to them.

                --I don't deny ANY of this?  But these points are IRRELEVANT to the point I was making.  All you are saying is that animals have certain regularly observed patterns of behavior and what appear to be codes of conduct, and that these patterns and codes have some apparently rational reasons that can back them up, and they don't need some belief in God to carry them out.  So the fuck what?  What does this prove?

                Your logic is so groundless that it is really hard to address all the errors so I'll try to be as clear and direct as possible.

                --Well, I don't think you've even UNDERSTOOD my logic, based upon what you've written so far.  So, I really don't think you are in a position to criticize it.  In fact, I think your level of reading comprehension sucks.  I'm not saying that codes of conduct don't exit or that there may not be reasons that people offer to rationalize them.  NO.  What I'm saying is that EVEN IF THIS IS THE CASE, why should they be normative in any objective sense?  Upon what basis do you advocate this?

                --For example, you say that some animals realize on an "instinctual level" that it is "beneficial" to work together.  Fine.  But there are a lot of animals--including human beings--who apparently DON'T realize these things, or at least don't realize them a lot of the time, and who will say to you, "Look, it might be beneficial for you all to work together.  But I advocate a system of I want to get as much as I can for myself as possible, and screw the consequences.  Who are YOU to say that I should conform to some notion that you have of what is beneficial and what isn't?  As far as I'm concerned, the only thing that's beneficial to me is to do whatever I can get away with.  That's what I believe is 'beneficial' to me, and I don't give a fuck about anyone else."

                --Now, what are you gonna say to someone like this?

                 Human society is a trial and error experiment that has progressed fro mtheearliest days of man, and there is all kinds of evidence along the way to prove this.  Wars are obviously failures and breakdowns in that society.  Religions are simply methods of the ruling class to try to control (sometimes for evil gain) the masses that make up a society.  Societal concepts such as working together to feed the community or not killing each other or stopping at stop signs so as not to run into each other are all common sense concepts that have nothing to do with religion, they have to do with survival.

                --I agree that these concepts have to do with survival.  But, what if I say, "Who the fuck cares about "survival," or why should "survival" of the group be something that I should care about?"  Who are you to FORCE me to live differently to take your survival or anyone else's survival into account when I decide to take a certain course of conduct?"

                Just because we don't know what our "purpose" on this planet is, doesn't mean we should all just die because "what's the point".  If that was true then every animal might as well just stop eating and die because they have no purpose, for themselves.  

                --I overstated my case.  Do you know what the word NORMATIVE means?  REad my posts again.  I'm saying that notions of morality and utilitarian concepts of working together to ensure survival in the end are just ideas that are NO BETTER or NO WORSE than any other idea--holocaust, genocide, ritual murder, rape, etc., without some NORMATIVE concept of morality.  And without an appeal to an objective ground of reality--one that exists apart from what you or I happen to think is "good" or "right" or "sensible" than all we have left is a bunch of subjective ideas.  And there ain't no way I'm gonna let your subjective ideas rule over mine or force me to live the way you want me to live.

                If that was true, then God fucked up pretty bad by not being more obvious because millions of people in the world doubt his/her/its existence and thus, according to you, have no purpose in living and securing that life through working together adhering to societal norms and such and might as well just walk off the next pier.

                --I'm saying that if man survies or doesn't survive, in the final scheme of things it really doesn't matter to anyone other then man.  And since man is really no more than a fluke of the universe or cosmos, what this "fluke" thinks about anything is nothing more than a "fluke" as well, and really doesn't mean anything.

                This is the exact kind of bullshit logic Dark Syde is talking about that makes people like us question whether you are actually serious or not because honestly, your logic is so far fetched that we can't imagine people living their lives based on such ridiculous tenuous strings of "reality".  Not to mention, as Dark Syde made pretty clear, if you need to go to such great lengths to disprove the disproof through unfathomable logic,

                --"Unfathomable logic," huh?  So you admit you didn't understand what I was talking about, don't you?  After all, you didn't "fathom" it.

                --YOu have NO PLACE to criticize things you ADMIT you don't understand.  And if that is an example of your rationality or intelligence in action, than you are the one who is full of shit, not me.

                •  Ok fine.... (none)

                  ...shit its hard to wade through but since no one else has, let me...

                  --Really?  "Full of shit," huh?  Well, you'd better lay out your case and do it well, otherwise, my friend, I'll say that YOU are the one who is full of shit.

                  Alrighty then...


                  I thought I might trash every word as you have done but then my post would be fifty pages long to prove one simple concept:  God does not equal society (and of course its corollary that Lack of God does not equal the absence of Society)

                  --And nowhere did I say that God equals society?  So where did you come up with this concept?

                  The full thrust of your argument was that without God there would be no reason to follow societal norms.  You may not have understood that that was your point, but all your silly examples all amount to that one point. You posit that every moral and the root of all action and interaction of humans MUST be because of God, otherwise it wouldn't exist because people would just do whatever the hell they want to do.  In effect, you are saying that because a lack of God would mean no society that of course God is the REASON for society which is baseless and impossible to prove.


                  Whether everyone agrees with the concept, human beings are animals, not unlike other animals on this planet.  We have social structures just as they do.  Do apes believe in God?  I can't prove they don't but lets all be adults and imagine they probably don't.  So if they don't then what stops them from killing their children?  Those damn things are a pain in the ass to raise and they take away from your play time and take alot of work to feed and such.  Why don't they kill each other every chance they get?  Then all the food would be theirs and they wouldn't have to worry about other Apes taking anything of theirs.  Just because they don't believe in God doesn't mean they don't realize on an instinctual level that working together in a societal structure is beneficial to them.

                  --I don't deny ANY of this?  But these points are IRRELEVANT to the point I was making.  All you are saying is that animals have certain regularly observed patterns of behavior and what appear to be codes of conduct, and that these patterns and codes have some apparently rational reasons that can back them up, and they don't need some belief in God to carry them out.  So the fuck what?  What does this prove?

                  What it proves is that absence of moral basis from some sense of God or religion does not prevent these animals from acting in a societal manner, much as humans do, so by saying that God or religion are the root of all reason for following societal norms, you are comparing apples to oranges.


                  Your logic is so groundless that it is really hard to address all the errors so I'll try to be as clear and direct as possible.

                  --Well, I don't think you've even UNDERSTOOD my logic, based upon what you've written so far.  So, I really don't think you are in a position to criticize it.  In fact, I think your level of reading comprehension sucks.  I'm not saying that codes of conduct don't exit or that there may not be reasons that people offer to rationalize them.  NO.  What I'm saying is that EVEN IF THIS IS THE CASE, why should they be normative in any objective sense?  Upon what basis do you advocate this?

                  Actually, not that it matters, but I scored a perfect score on both the ACT and SAT (twice even) tests, so I think my reading comprehension is just fine so either you din't make your point very well or you made your point and it sucks.

                  As to the rest of this quote, you are arguing for the sake of argument.  I don't need to advocate anything - these truths are self evident and are easily witnessed in the makeup and history of our society.  Did God create borders to countries?  Did God create the laws on our law books?  No.  Man did that because he intuitively realized (mostly through bad experience I would imagine) that although a person COULD freely say "what the fuck, why should I care, and burn the city down", most people simply wouldn't want their city to be burnt down because then their life would be harder.  This has nothing to do with what is defined as "good" or "right".  That is why democracy is the only system that truly works (if done correctly) because a large majority of people will not suffer fools running their lives for very long if they run them in a way that makes their lives much worse than they were before.  The "good" or "rightness" of anything is decided, for better or worse, by the majority of people and it is that majority that may, at times, have to forcefully ensure that an individual, bent on destroying the concept of majority rule, is restricted from causing harm to the people or its system, that is the result (hopefully) of the collective definition of "greater good".

                  --For example, you say that some animals realize on an "instinctual level" that it is "beneficial" to work together.  Fine.  But there are a lot of animals--including human beings--who apparently DON'T realize these things, or at least don't realize them a lot of the time, and who will say to you, "Look, it might be beneficial for you all to work together.  But I advocate a system of I want to get as much as I can for myself as possible, and screw the consequences.  Who are YOU to say that I should conform to some notion that you have of what is beneficial and what isn't?  As far as I'm concerned, the only thing that's beneficial to me is to do whatever I can get away with.  That's what I believe is 'beneficial' to me, and I don't give a fuck about anyone else."

                  --Now, what are you gonna say to someone like this?

                  Funny you should say this because actually, humans are almost the ONLY animal that is capable of working against its own interest.  Yes some animals run out into the road or do things we might think are stupid but they don't know nay better.  Humans, with a greater ability to understand, still make stupid decisions that put them at odds with their own stated goals of peace and happiness.

                  And even more personally hilarious is your example of an extreme outsider anti-social narcisist because you almost perfectly quoted and described a friend I once had.  He did everything in his power to take advantage of every person and every siutuation he could.  He bent and broke all sorts of rules of society and in the end, he was caught and thrown in jail for several years.  THATS what I would say to someone like that - break the law as determined by a majority of the representatives of society and you will be ostracized, in one form or another, from that society.  Its a pretty simple concept.  I think that the corporatist, lobbyist, republican neocon cabal of people running the country right now are exactly the kind of people you mention - they believe in saying and doing whatever it takes to "get theirs" while alive and refuse to live by the rules of society.  In fact they are doing everything in their power to work against the majority at the moment who disagree with them, and sooner or later, that will be their downfall.


                   Human society is a trial and error experiment that has progressed fro mtheearliest days of man, and there is all kinds of evidence along the way to prove this.  Wars are obviously failures and breakdowns in that society.  Religions are simply methods of the ruling class to try to control (sometimes for evil gain) the masses that make up a society.  Societal concepts such as working together to feed the community or not killing each other or stopping at stop signs so as not to run into each other are all common sense concepts that have nothing to do with religion, they have to do with survival.

                  --I agree that these concepts have to do with survival.  But, what if I say, "Who the fuck cares about "survival," or why should "survival" of the group be something that I should care about?"  Who are you to FORCE me to live differently to take your survival or anyone else's survival into account when I decide to take a certain course of conduct?"

                  Because if you threaten my life, or the life of anyone I care about, without any sort of provocation, I'm going to rip your fucking head off and the majority of society is going to agree with me that it was justified because I would be acting in self-defense.  And if you truly felt that "who cares about survival" then it wouldn't matter to you to be dead.  You see, I don't need the crutch of a reason to be alive to want to be alive.  For whatever reason, the pleasure centers in my brain are triggered daily by the things that happen in my life and they make my life something I "enjoy" (whatever that may mean in a definitive sense) and it has no basis in believing in God or any of the teachings of religion, and it certainly has nothing to do with any notion of an afterlife because that REALLY is load of crap fed to people to do the right thing.

                  Unfortunately, humans have conflicting needs and conflicting ways of dealing with those needs.  They want to survive and to survive the most efficiently, they must live in social groups working with one another.  But to be 100% safe from being hurt by other humans(and of course not surviving) they should be anti-social and avoid all contact with other humans.  These conflicts are the reason for laws and religion.  Laws SHOULD be based on the minimum level of procuring safety and freedom for the largest amount of people.  Religion is just another set of laws but instead of being told to fear jail you are told to fear all kinds of supernatural outcomes.  These religious laws are often outdated and seem silly to many people today but they are followed because  the fear and the conflicts in rational thinking have been passed on by their parents, teachers, or other influential figures.  Because of these conflicts, people do things against their best interests, do things that hurt others for selfish reasons, and live lives that are sometimes shallow and meaningless because they are looking for meaning in all the wrong places.


                  Just because we don't know what our "purpose" on this planet is, doesn't mean we should all just die because "what's the point".  If that was true then every animal might as well just stop eating and die because they have no purpose, for themselves.  

                  --I overstated my case.  Do you know what the word NORMATIVE means?  REad my posts again.  I'm saying that notions of morality and utilitarian concepts of working together to ensure survival in the end are just ideas that are NO BETTER or NO WORSE than any other idea--holocaust, genocide, ritual murder, rape, etc., without some NORMATIVE concept of morality.  And without an appeal to an objective ground of reality--one that exists apart from what you or I happen to think is "good" or "right" or "sensible" than all we have left is a bunch of subjective ideas.  And there ain't no way I'm gonna let your subjective ideas rule over mine or force me to live the way you want me to live.

                  Yes I do, in fact, know what normative means and I have to wonder if you do, however.  Societal norms are the result of a historical background of human experience and are the sum total of that knowledge boiled down to common wisdom that the MAJORITY of humans agree on.  Just because religion talks about the same shit doesn't mean it came from there.  The "objective ground of reality" that you refer to is simply the sum total agreement of the people who are experiencing the world together.  What is reality except for the shared understanding of the results of the inputs of our senses?  In the times of the Greeks, weather and the ocean were pretty scary concepts so the idea of a scary water god like Poseidon made alot of sense but we think a concept like that is ridiculous now.  But that was their reality then.    Our reality now is somewhat skewed by the teachings of modern day religions and that is extremely unfortunate in my mind because religion in and of itself is the root cause of much of what I personally see as evil in the world today, so I PERSONALLY don't want to live by those subjective understandings of the majority of religious people but I don't have a choice if I want to live in this world.  When I read my money it says "In God We Trust", when I go to court I have to swear on a bible or to God, etc. and those things offend the living shit out of me but if I choose not to follow those rules, I go to jail or am removed from society permanently, plain and simple.  You see, this isn't about "my" subjective ideas telling "you" how to live your life;  its about the subjective agreements of millions of our ancestors doing what it takes to survive and pursue happiness (or power) and where their experiences have left us in terms of common wisdom about the best way to live in this world.  At any point you can choose not to play by those rules but good luck to ya...


                  If that was true, then God fucked up pretty bad by not being more obvious because millions of people in the world doubt his/her/its existence and thus, according to you, have no purpose in living and securing that life through working together adhering to societal norms and such and might as well just walk off the next pier.

                  --I'm saying that if man survies or doesn't survive, in the final scheme of things it really doesn't matter to anyone other then man.  And since man is really no more than a fluke of the universe or cosmos, what this "fluke" thinks about anything is nothing more than a "fluke" as well, and really doesn't mean anything.

                  But it does mean something to future humans.  You may not have kids or may be of the camp that believes kids are not a good idea or are unimportant or whatever.  But I have a child and plan to have more and what we think and how we conduct ourselves not only affects our lives and the lives of our children, but affects the lives of how ever many millenia of descendants we happen to have.  I derive joy from life and I think I gain even more joy from my child so I want that to continue and I want the world to be a good place for that child and all their children to follow.  And whether it is a "fluke" or not has no relevancy to whether I enjoy my life or my kids or their kids have a joyful life that they feel is worth living.  Sorry but the only people who worry about "flukes" are religious people with doubts, the rest of us don't really care.


                  This is the exact kind of bullshit logic Dark Syde is talking about that makes people like us question whether you are actually serious or not because honestly, your logic is so far fetched that we can't imagine people living their lives based on such ridiculous tenuous strings of "reality".  Not to mention, as Dark Syde made pretty clear, if you need to go to such great lengths to disprove the disproof through unfathomable logic,

                  --"Unfathomable logic," huh?  So you admit you didn't understand what I was talking about, don't you?  After all, you didn't "fathom" it.

                  --YOu have NO PLACE to criticize things you ADMIT you don't understand.  And if that is an example of your rationality or intelligence in action, than you are the one who is full of shit, not me.

                  You seem quite proud that I couldn't understand your point- here's a hint- thats not a slam on me, despite what you may think...  I knew what you were trying to say but in terms of rational logic, it made no sense and I think I have made that case sufficiently here...  Oh and since you are getting hoity toity about me having "no place to criticize" you might want to rethink posting long screeds on a diary that you obviously didn't understand yourself... I know you were responding to the other person in the comments but it always frustrates the hell out of me when I see someone jump into the comments section of a wel lwritten, well thought out diary and just jump on the first person they can to get THEIR point out there, despite it sounding completely silly in reference to the main post, which shows they either didn't read it, didn't understand it, or were trolling for a fight...this may not have been your particular case but it sure fit the bill...

                  -5.0, -4.87 -- I have the same rating as the Dalai Lama??? Yeah surprises me too... "Wake up every day and live like you mean it"

                  by I Want My American Pride Back on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:27:15 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  oops... (none)
                So if they don't then what stops them from killing their children?  

                well, they DO.  Lions often kill their own cubs, nesting baby birds will kick a sibling out of the nest and hyenas will eat their young (so will crocs) when food is scarce.

                Objective reality.

                Why don't they kill each other every chance they get?

                Yes they DO, or at least they try to and the weaker one just runs away to hide. Lions will try and kill the older / weaker member of the pride.  So do most species competing for limited food supply.  Animals are truly instinctual survivors and are amoral.

                Morality is a human concept thru and thru.

                More objective reality

                Wars are obviously failures and breakdowns in that society.

                Wars are a natural consequence of competition for resources, much like the turf wars between prides of lions.  Judging war as a 'failure' requires a morality that defines a destructive war as a pejorative - failure.

                Societal concepts ... are all common sense concepts that have nothing to do with religion, they have to do with survival

                Survival is instinctive since every creature born struggles mightily to survive.  So, is it all about survival - rather like animals?  That may be so, but then I would have a hard time justifying why I spent $200 watching the Yankees play the Red Sox. Had nothing to do with my survival but I had a great time anyway.

                The argument SpermDonor makes is that we need to believe in God in order to live lives different from animals whose primary goal is personal survival followed by survival of the species through reproduction.

                My counter to that is - that is a poor reason to make up a God who is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent.  The simpler explanation is that we have one faculty that seems to be lacking in animals - the ability to reason. Exercising that faculty allows us to consider consequences beyond our personal survival. Morality is a direct result of rationality - it is a way to set rules for rational beings who have solved the immediate problem of survival but still want to interact with each other.

                •  LOL Thanks for ... (none)
                  ...picking my words apart and then basically saying exactly my point.  I used the comparison to animals and the survival instincts to point out the roots to our morality and despite your few examples of some cases where agressive animals kill each other FOR SURIVIVAL, animals do not kill each other willy-nilly for no good reason.  That is my exact point, it isn't about them having morals, they just know it doesn't do them any good to do so, for a myriad of reasons I won't go into here.

                  You are exactly right that what makes us different from animals is that we have reason... personally I think this is simply another characteristic that all animals possess the capacity for if they can ever reach a point of development as we have where survival can be so taken for granted, that they can pause long enough to ask questions like we do "whats the point of all this?" or even to take some leisure time to appreciate watching their children play a game, much as humans watch other humans perform in sports as you gave as an example.

                  God has no particular place in defining that morality or that reason because that morality and reason are, like everything in life, self-serving (as is religion itself of course) and therefore fall into the scope of learned and shared experiential knowledge.  And despite the stupid things people do sometimes, I can in some way prove that every act humans make is in some way in service of themselves, which eliminates any value of morality given to any god or religion....

                  -5.0, -4.87 -- I have the same rating as the Dalai Lama??? Yeah surprises me too... "Wake up every day and live like you mean it"

                  by I Want My American Pride Back on Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 03:19:52 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

        •  Semantics dodge (none)
          Nature gifts us with our biology, etc. Nature does not automatically imply a supernatural agent to create nature.

          Your post is completely off the rails.

          cheers,

          Mitch Gore

          Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

          by Lestatdelc on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:01:01 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Glad I wasn't the only one ... (none)
          I thought starting off with "Life is a gift ..." was a bit strange because I also thought it implied a giver. I would have thought something more along the lines of "Life is an opportunity ..." or "Life is a treasure ..."

          But I'm a copy editor so I decided it was probably just me.

        •  haha (none)
          </snark> Of course someone with the username SpermDonor would feel strongly about the "gift" of life.  
        •  I don't get the ratings of "1" (none)
          I mean, you may not agree with the points I was making, but on what basis does one rationalize giving troll ratings like this?

          Simply 'cause you disagree with me?

          Hell, if that's the basis upon which you give people such low ratings, then you are pretty damned pathetic.

          Perhaps you should join the Republican Party where that kind of intolerance is par for the course.

    •  Wow, you got 953 replies on the other (1.00)
      diary and still going.....

      How much is too much?

      Deist. A true Atheist couldn't exist because he/she wouldn't believe in himself.

      http://www.deism.org  Reason. A reasonable mind.

      In the end, who really gives a shit what any of us fools are or not?

      In the end, what we've done to mother earth is a tad bit more impotant than any thought concerning Jesus or any of the other holy of holies or whatever else they are called.

      A baby will go hungry tonight and every Christian in the world should suffer the shame of such treatment accorded that child.

      That baby and that treatment are superior in importance than any Dobson, any Robertson, any of the money changers, any politician, any republican, any democrat, etc.

      If you are a Atheist, a true Atheist you won't care nor suffer discomfort.

      But all the hypocrites that profess their undying love for the Son of God can go suck an egg.

      Politics not religion got us here and politics will get us back.

      DarkSyde, why is this dribble so important to you?

      •  who really gives a shit?? (1.72)
        the diarist is an adult.

        this... apparently... is an important thing to make clear.

        "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

        by BiminiCat on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:14:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Huh? (4.00)
        A baby will go hungry tonight and every Christian in the world should suffer the shame of such treatment accorded that child.

        That baby and that treatment are superior in importance than any Dobson, any Robertson, any of the money changers, any politician, any republican, any democrat, etc.

        If you are a Atheist, a true Atheist you won't care nor suffer discomfort.

        Why wouldn't an atheist, who believes that this life on earth is all anybody gets, care about a hungry baby? Logically speaking, an atheist would care more than a Christian. The latter would believe that all would be made right in heaven. Practically speaking, Darksyde and other atheists support both charitable attempts and governmental initiatives to help this baby.

        What do you mean that true atheists won't care?  

      •  Look: (4.00)
        Please show respect for people who have chosen a different path than you. You can speak for yourself when you say why you're not an athiest. But you can't speak for others.
      •  uh (none)
        Deist. A true Atheist couldn't exist because he/she wouldn't believe in himself.

        i think you're confusing 'atheism' with 'nihilism'.

        but we dance to the music, and we dance

        by chopper on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 04:17:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  What unmitigated horseshit (none)
        Atheism doe snot mean sociopath, lack of empathy, emotion, hopes or belief in things in total. It is simply not believing in the existence of god(s).

        You unmitigated horse-shit of a post is precisely why atheists get pissed off, because jack-offs like you project your warped, full-of-shit nonsense and slurs on atheists.

        cheers,

        Mitch Gore

        Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

        by Lestatdelc on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:05:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  To quote a (4.00)
      curent paragon and representative of christian
      intelectual thought;

      Shut up. argue with that WORD BOY!

      Thank you for taking the time to actually work through some of the points in detail its SO time consuming to do it over and.....

      "The pen is mightier than the sword, but only at a range of greater than five feet" Malaclypse the Younger

      by buhdydharma on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:32:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  And this is a beautiful and uplifting article (4.00)
      You've done us atheists very proud with this one. Because we are positive, in general, and this is our Heaven and our Hell.

      This life and this universe is all we've got to work with and improve, and we cherish it and never belittle it or blight it in favor of some imagined eternal paradise beyond the bounds of space and time.

      While I don't think atheism is that indicative of merit in other areas, I think it denies its practitioner appeals to the unprovable: and this makes it easier to judge atheists on their merit. They have no bible to wave and make you cower before: they can wave The Origin of Species or other such texts, but there is no moral proscription from critiquing those.

      And so it is all the more disappointing that this country has no atheists (that I know of) in elected government positions. Disappointing, yes, but not shocking. We deprive ourselves of the military-grade mechanisms of mass mind control that we saw put to such horrifying use in Iraq and the last election.

      We indeed have too much morality to take advantage, to proselytize, to manipulate. It makes me proud to be an atheist. Still, it makes me worry for our well-being...and our ability to sustain ourselves into that future vision you have so eloquently developed.

      The dark at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming age.

      by peeder on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:32:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Question for you..... (3.50)
      what about people that belong to faiths that DON'T disdain people from other faiths, but rather are very accepting of many faiths???  ie/ the 'newer' religions like the Bahai, Sikhism??

      What about faiths that don't even necc. DEFINE a 'specific' higher power, but rather provide methods of introspection, enlightenment, and meditation??  ie/ Buddhism, ie/ Zen, Taoism, Shinto.....

      Did you ever think that certain 'stories' that are told as a part of many religions are meant to be SYMBOLIC/ metaphors vs. to be taken literally??  and that maybe people that do so are perhaps MISTAKEN.... and are interpreting incorrectly????  Did you ever think that you're alienating a huge number of people that HAVE faith, but don't happen to be Christian in America, and after reading insulting comments relating them to ridiculous children that believe in fairy tales, would think they had NO party that could represent them in America????  

      If the radical Christian right won't do anything about securing the RIGHT for people to practice another faith in the country other than Christianity, and the LEFT's sentiment is "you're ALL crazy"..... Christian or NOT.... WHOM should people of these faiths EXPECT to protect their right to practice their religions freely/ not have their rights be imposed upon if they're LAUGHED at for even having such beliefs by the LEFT, and receive disdain from the right for not having the 'correct' faith??????

      You've written THREE diaries now on this topic, question, WHO was trying to convert you to a faith in any of them????  You seem to so resolutely feel an 'anti-athiestic' sentiment, from WHOM????  I believe in God, I would NEVER try to convince you to.... so WHY the need to post diary after diary re-stating your absolute disgust for people that believe/ have ANY kind of faith in 'a higher power'????

      Curious... because frankly, I don't CARE if you're an atheist... but I DO care when someone literally calls me, or people like me an IDIOT for believing in God.... that doesn't seem like an incredibly 'democratic' sentiment to me.  It doesn't SOUND like the 'inclusive of all' LEFT.........

      I'm frankly disgusted now that there would be SO much collective cheerleading in calling ANY group of people 'morons' 'idiots' 'childish' for their beliefs/opinions......... this was a sad day for me at dailykos...

      An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind--Gandhi (-9.38, -7.59)

      by hopefulcanadian on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:33:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think that to try and pigion hole the left as (none)
        all being in lock step on faith or not is wrong. Most people that do not believe do not want to impose their beliefs on you or anyone. They do want to be able to stand up and be treated equal if they don't believe the historic norm or the majoritarian view.

        Another word I have heard is the term Brights.. as opposed to athesist...

        •  this conversation he started... (none)
          was NOT about 'being equal'.... he repeatedly insults people of ANY and ALL faiths...

          the name-calling, over and over relating people that believe in 'a higher power' to being akin to children believing in Santa Claus is NOT a request to be treated equally, but an excuse to express DISDAIN for an entire group of people; people with faith.

          I am NOT one of the 'big three'... Muslim, Christian or Jewish.... I DO NOT believe, nor does my religion CLAIM to be 'the ONLY path' to God....

          I RESENT being characterized as someone who probably has some sort of childlike need to seek comfort irrationally from God everytime I have any fear in the world... I meditate, my religion has taught me to be tolerant of people of ALL faiths, ACCEPTING of people of ALL faiths, even if they don't accept my own...

          I accept Darkside's 'non-belief' in God, I just don't accept the insults...

          An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind--Gandhi (-9.38, -7.59)

          by hopefulcanadian on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:53:42 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Ok well I see that this is a bit more intense than (none)
            I take it. Now I seem to remember that he made quite a few qualifiers to this post before he started. Now maybe it is the use of english and him using pronoun choice in a way that makes it more harsh than he means. In a logical, or maybe scientific view he is being honest. Why is that their is a persecution complex that most people of faith have? It seems to me that you have to be a person of faith to hold public office in the US. At least you can't publically state that you are not. Maybe it is this chip, that people who are of different faith, be that the faith of science or not believing. It is funny how when people belief systems are challenged (General not personal) they look past facts and it becomes all passion.

            I don't take the comparison as insulting even if I understand how some might. I take it as an honest assessment of his beliefs. Now others don't to each their own. You have a good day and best of luck in you passions and dreams..
            Da..

          •  Insults? You miss the point (none)
            DarkSyde doesn't personalize his philosophical argument in my reading.  He gives us his view of religious doctrines in the cold light of his experience.  He asks for scientific evaluation of these doctrines; not an unreasonable position given his long-demonstrated view of scientific proofs as a necessary feature of knowledge.  He finds religious doctrines --specifically Christian doctrines -- wanting in this post.  And he draws inferences about why those who adhere to those doctrines would do so so tenaciously.  

            This is no different than many religious folks' views of atheists.  I don't hear your objection to those "insults."  Why?

            To initiate a war of aggression is ... the supreme international crime. ---Nuremberg Tribunal -4.50, -5.85

            by Dallasdoc on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 04:48:00 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Consider this my 'official' (none)
              objection.

              I never get involved in diaries that exclusively exist to start a flame war, this one though, has been repeated now, by darksyde over and over...

              An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind--Gandhi (-9.38, -7.59)

              by hopefulcanadian on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:16:55 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Not a flame war (none)
                Look, this is about politics.  Particularly the first diary about what it feels like to be an atheist, and to try to accomplish anything in society (including one's political goals) when religion so dominates and pervades society.  It is extraordinarily frustrating to be governed by laws imagined to be in accordance with someone else's invisible man.  

                Take abortion, gay rights, taxation, redistribution of wealth, whatever.  Too much of our politics are informed by religion's conception of what is "good" and "bad" behavior that our secular laws must punish, too much classism justified by the "meak inheriting the earth" and the "let my invisible man take care of the weak and the poor" mentality.  

                It's beyond frustrating to have control of my body legislated based upon your invisible man, when there is no evidence "he" exists and I want to beat my head into the wall at the lunacy of religion.  DarkSyde's diary is about how he (and other atheists) feel about living in this bizarro-world, where our entire public discourse is dominated by fantasies of invisible men and our rights are governed by what these invisible men might want.  And it is an attempt to demonstrate that we might deem the atheist position the rational, default position, and govern from there.

                Can money pay for all the days I lived awake/ But half asleep?

                by milton333 on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 11:49:46 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  How are you insulted? (none)

            cheers,

            Mitch Gore

            Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

            by Lestatdelc on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:06:40 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  How am I insulted? (none)
              When someone literally compares me to a child believing in the boogeyman for having a faith......I find it insulting.

              I never insult people for their beliefs.... no matter how much I may personally disagree with them.  I keep my personal beliefs to myself, and respect the right of others to believe or disbelieve whatever they wish, but I would never throw around insults or semantics because I disagree with someone else's beliefs.

              An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind--Gandhi (-9.38, -7.59)

              by hopefulcanadian on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 03:28:40 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Why? (none)
                Why is it insulting to have the reality that you hold belief no less irrational than the boogeyman an insult?

                BTW, the pejorative you are attaching to it are you r making, not in what was said.

                Project much?

                cheers,

                Mitch Gore

                Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

                by Lestatdelc on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 04:45:11 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  nice (none)
                  smarmyness is always such a pleasant read...lol

                  ...if you're trying to be 'deliberately unaware' about the idea as to why something like this is insulting: 'you're irrational you might as well believe in the boogeyman'... then I really don't have anything I can add to the conversation... if you're honestly curious as to whether that would be insulting to the 'average' person, I guess I can only give personal testimony as to the affirmation of that.... what else can I really say??  Statements like 'project much'? aren't exactly the most wonderous examples of good inter-personal skills either, (nor very good Karma, but that's obviously besides the point here) just FYI (though maybe it gave you a gut-level satisfaction akin to 'gotcha', I don't know, I'm not a psychiatrist)(if it did; more power to you, that one didn't bother me really).

                  Personally, I think there is no way to PROVE certain things exist... I can't prove God exists to you, but I'll can show you examples how the belief in a God/ meditation has personally improved my quality of life, and that of many others, if you cared to know.  I can't scientifically prove when LOVE actually exists between two people either, but I've seen people benefit in life immensly from that 'belief'.  By your logic, the belief in "LOVE" would be akin to the belief in a boogeyman too....(wow... not very romantic).  Anyway, I personally just think that a person should take what they can from anything that helps them to live their life... I believe in live and let live.

                  I would certainly never call a person 'irrational' for a belief they had if it helped them be a better person, feel better about themselves, or about life in general.... which is essentially what I think the goal/original intent is of all religions, (AND therapy,lol) and why I personally (AND as taught by my faith) accept all religions.  (OH, nor does it matter to me a LICK if you don't... live and let live..)

                  Now, I'm going to go and meditate a little....

                  ... and no hard feelings on my end, lol, that might be because of my 'belief' in the idea that bad Karma follows a person if they leave animosity somewhere OR... it may be because I truly have no hard feelings.... now, either way, isn't it more pleasant to end a conversation that way than 'project much'??  ;)

                  take care...

                  An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind--Gandhi (-9.38, -7.59)

                  by hopefulcanadian on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 05:58:06 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  It comes down to the one line... (none)
                    ...in DarkSyde's post from Sagan: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.

                    If you feel so damn insulted, show us the proof of your extraordinary claim. And we'll all apologize.

                    Until then, I'm afraid it's the kiddy table where you can share your stories about god 'x' and timmy can regale you with his adventures with the boogie man.

                    [ Anyone who thinks my bark is worse than my bite, has never seen me bite. ]

                    by dj angst on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 11:37:15 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Not everything irrational is bad.... (none)
                    "I'll can show you examples how the belief in a God/ meditation has personally improved my quality of life, and that of many others, if you cared to know."

                    Well, y'know, they've done studies that show that meditation improves people's quality of life.  Belief in God?  Not so much.  Are you sure it's not just the meditiation helping?

    •  Once again, this is a respectable article (none)
      Darksyde, you present a logical, cogent, well reasoned argument. I appreciate the points made that individual affiliation is the motive of the diary, not conversion or persuasion. As such a hot-button issue, especially in light of the fact that theology has historcically been the most widely used form of legistlation and rule- it is somewhat offensive that it should surface again in a democratic republic that has worked almost 2.5 centuries to move beyond.

      The rational I use when qualifing is that religous doctrine has no place in Statehood or legislation, and doesn't even require evidence. Existance or not of the subject at hand is less consequential today in operational humanity, than is the fact that there is no consistancy and no popular consensus. For this reason, even among the shades of civilized, we continue to quibble (as the upwards of 900 replies on the previous post indicate). When this lacks luster, we battle, conquer, annilate and imperialize because the good word- whom ever's you follow, deems it rightous.

      The bottom line is not the fundaments and social utility of religon- and there are many, many social scientists argue that humanity as we know it is the product of social contracts that derived and evolved from relious constructs which followed further evolution in a converse manner. By this I eludicate to the fact that organized society, civil tenents and communication are a direct function of what looks like an organized religous body, at least in their original construct.

      The devil, my friends, is in the details. Any philosopher will acquiesce that all philosophical reason converges at some point. If Kant and Mills argued a point long enough using their respective tenents, at some point they would agree. The difference would resolve in the manner at which they arrived at that conclusion. I bring this up b/c it is true of all religions (Chrisitanity, Dharma, Buddism, Hindu, Islam...)and pertains to the deist, atheist argument most suciently.

      Darksyde makes the point that an Atheist resounds in humanity at any given moment because it is all they feel they have. In other words, it is not a buy-now-defer-payment-for-latter arrangement (very Kantian- piety for the sake of duty, not in accordance with duty). However, most every religous doctrine sets forth the very same conditions for living. To live as Christ, Budda, Abraham... is to be as nearly perfect at every moment in the least selfish way is to vibrate in the immediate. Most were heretical and 'liberal' for their time.

      What occurs to me is not the message or doctrine of living that we'd all do well to attempt at, but the constitutional manner in which we de facto endeavor to interprate the messages of such spiritual leaders. In essence, this goes back to my original point- in politicizing and making fundament out of spiritual teaching, we bring the entire process of enlightenment into an egocentric , time encapsulated process by which the spirituality is eroded away.

      I endure as a spiritual creature, fighting the constraints of inclusive social and religous contingiencies.

      "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." ~George Orwell

      by txdem21 on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:51:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  wonderfully done, thank you <nt> (none)
    •  Dude... (none)
      That whole thing..and not one mention of the Invisible Pink Unicorn?

      I'm either impressed or dismayed. I'm not sure which :)

      This is our story...

      by Karmakin on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 05:33:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Right with you on this DS (none)
      And since the Juedo-Christian "god" concept often creeps into the public debate from time to time, and some demented folk believe we (the United States) are a "Christian Nation," I think a review of the "Christian" mythos is in order. Let's review the chain of events:

      1. God creates Adam and Eve knowing full well they would eat from the Tree of Knowledge and create the Original Sin. He could've done any number of things to prevent this from happening but didn't want to interfere with their freewill. Of course, God doesn't seem to mind interfering in the freewill of others like Pharoh, Noah, Mary, etc.

      2. God gets upset at the work he created and slaughters all life except for Noah, his family, and 2 creatures from every species of life on the planet, who all escape destruction in a boat smaller than a World War II aircraft carrier (never mind the impossibility of this feat, just chalk it up to divine suspension of the realities of animal biology and husbandry).

      3. God is still upset about the Original Sin He allowed to happen and decides that the only solution an omnipotent god can come up with is to send part of Himself down to the planet as a human being (Jesus) and then sacrifice Himself to Himself.

      4. Jesus is born into a relatively comfortable, middle class existence and is an instant celebrity receiving gifts from royalty who travel from the far corners of the earth. He leads an easy life. He never personally experiences hunger, homelessness, or disease. He never has to bury a spouse, child, parent, or sibling. He is worshipped by many as a God.

      5. Jesus (who is also God) dies on the cross as a human sacrifice to appease a vengeful god (who is himself). He leaves behind a cannibalistic rite for His followers to engage in, where they consume his blood and flesh to remember this human sacrifice (of himself to himself). God (who is also Jesus) resurrects Himself after three days in Hell and ascends to Heaven to join Himself. He leaves the rest of humanity to 2000 years of wars caused by religious fanatics.

      Any questions?

      cheers,

      Mitch Gore

      Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

      by Lestatdelc on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 11:26:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm an atheist, too (4.00)
    although I haven't expressed my reasons in so much detail, ever.  Your post is impressive.  For me the main thing these days is that I feel like I'm in a tiny minority that is oft looked down on.  Gives me a sense of what it might be to be a gay person or a member of a racial minority.
    •  i could be considered an atheist (2.50)
      i don't feel like i'm in a minority.

      "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

      by BiminiCat on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:18:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I can understand (3.80)
      how you would feel that way in today's climate. I happen to be catholic, but the "wrong" type, the type that believes in peace and social justice, one that is against the death penalty and pro-choice, you get the picture.

      My thoughts are this: what I believe is what I believe, as long as a person is nice what do I care what they do or do not believe?  If you are honest and do not harm folks, well you are doing a better job then many who call themselves "christians" and who say they have "faith."

      "September 11, 2001, already a day of immeasurable tragedy, cannot be the day liberty perished in this country." Judge Gerald Tjoflat

      by SanJoseLady on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:26:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm with you (none)
        on that one. I'm starting to wonder if there aren't more of us progressive-minded Catholics than we think. Personally I'm pretty sickened by some of these people that run around calling themselves Christians while using Jesus as a poster boy for discrimination and oppression and violence.

        And you know, I don't find anything in my personal beliefs (of which you just mentioned some) that even conflicts with Catholicism; the only thing I find myself coming into direct conflict with is the Church's position on conception- but that's still only the Church's position, which isn't a tenet of faith. In the same Catechism that decries contraception, it also mentions Primacy of Conscience, which I feel in this case compels me to disagree with the Church's conclusion and act on what I 'know' to be right.

        And hopefully that made sense, as I've been up all night and need sleep. :)

    •  A few more additions ... (4.00)
      ... to the long list of nonsenses.  

      It makes no sense that an Absolutely Perfect, Omnipotent and Omniscient Being would seek the devotion of entities that are ridiculously inferior to itself.  Could I possibly be gratified by the worship of banana slugs, the devotion of fruit flies?  Not unless I'm a seriously damaged individual with an Ark-load of self-esteem issues.  

      It makes no sense that the 'holy book' currently on record could be the words of this Absolutely Perfect Being.  Not only are the majority of its sentiments primitive and brutal (with a few worthy exceptions), and the quality of its literature and poetry easily surpassed by scores of human works produced each day, but -- most tellingly -- its level of "knowledge" perfectly matches the level of human ignorance at the time of its writing.  A god who fails to offer a single insight or discovery even a few centuries ahead of its creation date hardly qualifies as omniscient.  

      It makes no sense to claim that this god offers human the free choice of whether to worship it or not. If a dictator told all his countrymen "Worship me or I'll kill you.  It's your choice," would we regard that as a free-will choice?  Of course not.  Yet, when this god does the same thing -- actually worse, since eternal torture is a great deal worse than a quick death -- his believers blithely declare this to be a free-will choice.  

      It makes no sense to claim that this god is "just and loving" when its own behavior indicates the exact opposite.  To wit: if a human parent stood by -- hands in pockets failing to lift a finger in assistance -- as their own child was raped and murdered, we'd call that person a monster.  Yet, as their god does the exact same thing, his believers insist he is 'loving and compassionate' not on the basis of his actual behavior, but merely on the basis of his own claims.  

      I'm sure I've forgotten some, but that's a pretty good start to enhancing DarkSyde's excellent indictment.  

    •  very impressive (3.80)
      I agree. DarkSyde really nailed it with this diary. A lot of these thoughts are very much along the lines of my thoughts on god. In a Philosophy of Religion class in college, I wrote a paper deducing that if a god exists, god is inherently evil, not good. My professor, a pastor, gave me the highest grade in the class for that (crap, there went my humility!). The points I made in that paper were very much in line with your thoughts on tolerated evil from an omniscient omnipotent being.

      I like how the latter half of your essay points out the humanism that is intrinsic to the vast majority of atheists I have conversed with. I have been openly atheist since around 10 years of age, over 15 years now, and the most common criticism I have gotten is in regards to how atheists are immoral, selfish, and arrogant (thinking no higher being exists than them). This may be true to the Ayn Rand objectivist variety of atheist, but in my experience is a complete falsehood. From my understanding, every religion concerns itself heavily with the afterlife and the punishment or pleasure you will receive based on how you lead this life. While that belief can lead many to do good, I have met far too many people (notice I'm not criticizing all believers here) who are so selfishly consumed with the future of their soul and what will happen to them that the idea is lost.

      Anyway - gay, brown, atheist here. It doesn't feel so weird. It's all I've really known.

      Ahhh... it feels so nice here downthread away from all the bickering and semantics. I'm gonna have to hit the broom handle against the ceiling to get them to lower their volume.

      •  It ain't that it feels weird... (none)
        You said, Anyway - gay, brown, atheist here. It doesn't feel so weird. It's all I've really known.

        Gotcha.  But what I was trying to get at in my comment is that it seems the entire society is constantly throwing its religiousness in my face, as society throws heterosexuality in the face of everyone.

        On the one hand, you drive down the street and pass churches and other temples of worship.  You turn on the radio and hear songs mentioning God.  You read a letter to the editor and the person says "The hurricane victims are in my prayers."  You buy something and your money says "God" on it.  The president (any of 'em) makes a speech and ends it with "God bless America."  You go to the store and see Christmas creches on sale.

        On the other hand, you go to a public park and see straight couples holding hands, kissing, etc.  These days you might see gay couples doing that in NYC or LA, but it's still rare.  You watch a movie - same thing.  You turn on one of umpteen TV shows and it's about a male-female relationships, or mom-dad-with-kids.  Even Will & Grace has Grace frequently snogging a guy, but not Will.  He might have gotten a peck on the lips on occasion.  You go into some churches and hear preachers railing against your lifestyle.

        A professor of mine went to the Soviet Union around the time it was breaking up.  When he returned to the U.S., he said that watching American TV was like propaganda for America.  He was struck by the similarity between our propaganda and the Soviet state-run propaganda.

        So as an atheist, I often feel I don't belong.

        •  yeah i guess you're right. (none)
          I guess I just have the tendency to be dismissive of anything that makes me sound marginalized whether it be the case or not. Everyone's life-lessons teach them different things. Mine taught me that coming off as marginalized only marginalizes you more. But everything you say above is true. We have compulsive-religiosity (?) as much as we have compulsive-heterosexuality. I think, basically, at our core, we have a very puritanical and insecure patriarchy. Things like atheism, feminism, homosexuality, these are all what scare the socks off of the concept of patriarchy. It sheds some light on why there are people who say seemingly outlandish things like, "my heterosexual marriage is being threatened by gay marriage" or "my religious ideals are threatened by the existence of atheists." Ok, I haven't heard the second phrase said in those words, but the point is still the same. "threatened."
          •  insecure patriarchy (none)
            we have a very puritanical and insecure patriarchy

            Well put.

            And I think that religious people may indeed feel threatened by atheists.  Interesting idea, food for thought and all that.

    •  Want to talk about a tiny minority? (none)
      For me the main thing these days is that I feel like I'm in a tiny minority that is oft looked down on.  Gives me a sense of what it might be to be a gay person or a member of a racial minority.

      Try being a mixed Hispanic/Appalachian gay atheist.

      ~~~~
      Blogesque
      Economic Left: -6.25 Social Libertarian: -5.03

      by OhioLen on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 09:51:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yet again (1.15)
    An atheist wants to explain atheism and insults people that doesn't believe, dump all responsibility onto believers to prove their faith, and win any discussion by using philosophical tricks to win any debate. Just like fundies, many atheists wouldn't understand faith but would prefer to remove it from society at all costs. Despite the fact religion has been with us since day 1, atheists claim the high ground and refuse to even offer any real reason why religious and spiritual ideas could be true by using ancient texts to avoid debate just to win arguements. Atheists claim that you can't prove a negative yet they refuse to attempt to prove any form of god just because it's not their claim.

    Just more lazy philosophical crap. Tricks, avoidance, and insults is all atheism has to offer.

    And thanks to atheism, we now have libertarianism, neoconservatism, Christian fundamentalism (reaction to atheistic fundies), neoliberalism, and fascism. All atheist morals are worthless since they will eventually point out that god doesn't exist and we can do as we please.

    Thanks and good night.

    A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

    by Tux on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:03:55 PM PST

    •  Impressive. (4.00)
      Wow, so atheists are responsible for everything from Christian fundamentalism to fascism.  Impressive resume.  

      Not only that, but they pulled it off while espousing a moral system that is "worthless"!   Must have been a long day at the office for our atheist friends.  

      And this in a post accusing them of tricks, avoidance, and insults.  

      •  And to think (4.00)
        We used to just blame everything on the Jews.

        "I think [Tom Delay]'s been a great majority leader." ~Chris Shays, October 7, 2004.

        by Matthew Gertz on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:44:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You didn't notice "Ghangas Kahn" (none)
          brother of Manny, ancestor of Madeline, black sheep of the outer Mongolian Kahn's?

          See what happens when you turn you back on all your father's hard work? Look at him, Oysgeshpilt! A broken man who gave you everything. That's gratitude for you. Did you take the Holy? Feh. A good son would have taken over the business, too, given his poor father his respect but, noooo, you had to go pillage; you had to go "find yourself" and be all fighting and such. Well, Mr. Farblondget, Mr. Farshstinkener, you're on your own.  Kush meer in toches!

    •  aoeu (4.00)
      I think your signature is funny when you compare it to your post, but then I always found irony funny.

      every turtle knows
      Bush and the Republicans
      worship just Mammon

      by TealVeal on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:21:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Hey I got it! nody rds to endpst now msg shrt (none)

      "The pen is mightier than the sword, but only at a range of greater than five feet" Malaclypse the Younger

      by buhdydharma on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:36:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Your tirade... (4.00)
      only proves DarkSyde's point. He's not trying to insult your faith. He is saying it does NOT work for him. And yet you feel attacked and think it is the responsibilty of ATHIEST to prove the NON-exisitence of "god". That's why athiest are dismissive of the religious. You just don't get it and you never will.
      •  i don't get it either (none)
        christian fundamentalism is to be blamed on atheism? while he's at it, he might as well blame nazism on 'those stupid jews'. it's the same sort of rationale that makes people blame so many of our country's problems on the gays or the blacks or the immigrants or...
    •  this diary isnt meant to convert you (4.00)
      its a statement of faith.
      or lack thereof.

      its meant to help religious people understand the atheistic mindset.

      Momma, who are we voting for? Big momma gon' vote for Rod Blagojevich.

      by your friend steve on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:44:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm giving you a 2 (4.00)
      because your post here really is marginal.

      If you had actually read the beginning, you were warned that you might be insulted or offended by what DarkSyde was going to say.

      Your religion may be inspiring to you. It may have stories that are inspiring to me. It may have mnemonic value; critically important value at that. It may be rich in tradition and culture, it may encapsulate important events in human history. It may offer hope to people who have no hope left. It may serve as a useful insight into human nature. Humans may indeed have a preexisting facility to acquire belief systems similar to the one for language. It may provide a valuable ethical and behavioral framework. It may spread like a virus and mutate like bird flu. I don't necessarily think you are weak minded for buying it, I think enculturation and peer pressure is some powerful gumbo. But this diary isn't about any of that.

      If you had read this graph, especially the last sentence which I so kindly accented for you, I think you would have responded differently.

      I'm a Christian. I have very strong faith. I am not here to proseletize, nor refute DarkSyde's statements. I am here to elarn what makes him tick, to learn why some people don't believe, and perhaps, walk away a better person, thanks to the new level of understanding I've reached at the end of this journey.

      Your decision to be offended and sneering only makes things worse, and I didn't appreciate it.

      My mom told me  a looong time ago that if I didn't have anything nice to say, I should not say anything. I suggest you take her advice to ehart.

    •  as a deist (4.00)
      I find your comment highly objectionable.

      The burden of proof is on the believer, not the unbeliever.  I just happen to think there is enough real evidence to support my deism.

      Second, they are not philosophical word games.  They are airtight logic, and very valuable in disproving theistic positions.

      Darksyde has done all of us ANTI-THEISTS a great favor.

      Darksyde is an atheist, I'm a deist.  But most of his points are very true.

    •  Now you're being a troll (3.73)
      What the hell is a fundamentalist athiest, and why the fuck are they to blame for all of societies ills?  

      Society can't accept the fact that there is no God, so they keep bringing their religions to new extremes.  Don't blame athiests for that.

      Just more lazy philosophical crap. Tricks, avoidance, and insults is all atheism has to offer.

      I assume this refers to your argument that athiests can't prove that there is no God - as was hammered home on the other thread "You can't disprove a negative".  Please reread the other comments before you try that angle again.

      "Passing the gun from father to feckless son; We're climbing a landslide where only the good die young." Leaders of the Free World - Elbow

      by Dave Brown on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:52:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  All religious morals are worthless (none)
      since they will eventually point out that "god"  wants us to do as we please.  Or as "god's spokesman de jour" wants us to do . . .
      •  Which is the frightening part. (none)
        Religiously-based morals can be very dangerous, because what "God wants me to do" isn't really based on anything verifiable.  The Spanish Inquisitors thought that God wanted them to torture people.  It's actually the single most common excuse for evil behavior throughout history.
    •  You are acting like a troll and being ridiculous. (none)
      I'm sorry you can't come up with proof that God exists...but it is NOT our responsibility to prove that YOUR idea of God doesn't exist. That you think it is our responsibility...and that you would imply that it is laziness on our part...well, that is about the most BULLSHIT thing I've ever read here.

      Atheists are NOT fundamentalists. That isn't even possible.

      You are the only one being insulting here.

    •  "many atheists wouldn't .. (4.00)
      ...understand faith""

      There are many atheists that do understand faith.  Many were raised hearing that faith was the be-all end-all solution.   What is your response to them?

    •  ouch (4.00)
      aside from your grammar errors which make it difficult for me to fully understand your points, i think i got the jist of it.  you think atheists are the cause of much, if not all, of the world's problems -- libertarianism, neoconservatusm, fundamentalismn, neoliberalism, and fascism.  yet you say that religion was with us since day 1.  so was everything great up until atheism was "invented" on day 487,908,766?

      i just don't follow your logic.  why is a lack of belief in the supernatural the primary cause for so much pain and suffering?  i don't believe in a deity because i've never been provided any proof of its existence and because i'm not predisposed to just BELIEVE what i'm told.  i'm a "show me" kind of guy.

      but in these theologically correct times, many people think we shouldn't examine our "faith."  this is dangerous.  not all beliefs are created equal.

      christians believe anyone who doesn't accept the lord christ as his or her savior is doomed to hell for eternity.  this fundamental concept is very troubling.

      that martrydom and jihad are fundamental beliefs in islam is also very troubling.

      that religious jews believe they are the "chosen people" (chosen by whom?) is also very troubling.

      i know that religion gives many people comfort.  i just think it probably does more harm than good in the long run.

    •  day 1?? (none)
      ....according to which calendar??

      Crime is contagious....if the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for the law. -- Justice Louis Brandeis

      by FemiNazi on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:22:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  are you really Dr Bronner? (none)
      Dilute!!! Dilute!!!

      (-6.88, -8.31)-- "fuck your war... and your president."--Snake Plissken

      by binFranklin on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:31:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Re: Yet Again (none)
      I've never been moved to rate or reply before, but this comment made my blood boil.  To blame atheism on a large number of ills, to call diarist's work "lazy philisophical crap" and then make it plain that you're not going to be around to answer the criticisms that will rightly be put to you can be summed up in one word.  Troll.
    •  Hmmm (none)
      Well, I mean as disrespectful to faith is the idea that the burden of proof is on them, it also has the distinction of being right.

      Burden of proof is ALWAYS on the person claiming the positive. Do you know why we have presumption of innocence in court? It's because it's almost impossible to prove that someone DIDN'T do something. It is impossible to prove that a higher being doesn't exist. But that doesn't change the fact that logically the burden of proof lies with the theist.

      This is our story...

      by Karmakin on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 05:37:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  you are a scary motherfucker (none)
      yikes.  that's it. get your head checked. for your own well being.

      just be thankful for what you've got

      by itsbenj on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 01:32:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Geez. (none)
      More anti-atheist slurs.

      Gah, I've begin to conclude that all too many religious people have never heard of "enlightened self-interest".  Antisocial behavior is not in your self-interest in the long run.  Atheists are generally intelligent enough to realize this.  Furthermore, except for
      genuine sociopaths, people hurt when they see others hurt, and so hurting people will hurt you too.

  •  Thanks for the journal (4.00)
    Well, while I sympathize with you (I'm an atheist as well), I'm not sure I agree with your reasoning at all points:

    For example, it's hard to hold a higher being to our standards of reason or logic (this is specifically in regards to your "IT makes no sense" list).  As trite as the "God works in mysterious ways" phrase has become, there's a modicum of truth to it: if there is a higher being, we certainly hope that his/her/its/their system of understanding is superior to our own.  If that is true, then it's problematic to criticize said being for something that belongs to, in the words of Dostoevsky's Ivan, "our earthly, Euclidean logic."  

    I've much more to comment on, but a definite thanks for bringing these topics up.  The flurry of posts and counter-posts has been productive, insofar as people are articulating some of their deepest held beliefs that they've never had to defend before.  On both sides of the aisle.

    •  "It makes no sense" makes perfect sense (none)
      So what if the supposed mysteriously-working god is incomprehensible to us?  I'll hold it to our standards if it wishes to have any meaningful interaction with us.  If we can't tell it from a capricious, insubstantial pixie, why should we care?
      •  Agreed (4.00)
        Oh, I'm not questioning that at all.  What I'm saying is, arguing the non-existence of a deity based on our inability to comprehend it is probably not the best strategy.  By definition, a higher being would be beyond our comprehension.  This is why gods who act in ways that make "sense" (i.e., those of the ancient Greeks, who at least acted in predictably human ways) are quicker to die out - the incomprehensibility of the Judeo-Christian God makes Him more believable as a higher power.   Not to mention infinitely flexible for any occasion.  

        So I don't think the "it makes no sense" argument can really be used here, in order to question (especially) the Old Testament God.  But I agree with you on the "why should we care" part.  

        •  that's like saying we can't deny that 1 =2 (none)
          because, if 1 did equal 2, then it would be true.
        •  'difference' (4.00)
          Interesting points, both of you. I just thought I'd add something. I wrote something similar in the other DarkSyde diary regarding Greco-Roman mythology and the comparison to Hindu mythology. First a quote:

          As the Hindu gods are "immortal" only in a very particlar sense--for they are born and they die--they experience most of the great human dilemmas and often seem to differ from mortals in a few trivial details . . .  and from demons even less. Yet they are regarded by the Hindus as a class of beings by definition totally different from any other; they are symbols in a way that no human being, however "archetypal" his life story, can ever be. They are actors playing parts that are real only for us; they are the masks behind which we see our own faces.

          --Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty
             Introduction, Hindu Myths

          Hinduism is still alive and seemingly well (3rd largest religion apparantly). The quote above is because I think it parallels very much how the Greeks and the Romans viewed their gods. Yet Pico's assessment makes sense. According to the above quote, gods still retain their 'difference from any other being' thus an understanding of life we cannot begin to comprehend, despite their human shortcomings. [shrug] I don't buy it, but I still find it fascinating! I don't think a religion exists that doesn't alienate or insulate its god(s) or goddess(es) with just enough mystery to allow for any level of explanation.

          ...which is precisely why faith (particularly the 'leap of' bit) is such a crucial ingredient to being a theist.

    •  Very true (4.00)
      A nest of termites could not come near comprehending the reasons why an exterminator would destroy them. How sad it would be if they subscribed to a mythology that claimed that the human determining their fate took a personal interest in each and every termite.
    •  three words: (none)
      Book of Job.

      Now, I'm not a Christian or Jew, but the essential theistic point in response to this is that it's not up to us to question God's will.  God is God, and makes His decisions with the long view in mind, without respecting individual persons.

      •  Then why did this god (4.00)
        give us the capacity to question his will if we are not meant to? What's the point of that? He could have easily have created humans without the capacity to question his will and still function just as we do now since he's omnipotent.

        Furthermore, the bible tells us that he made us in his image which says to me that he is relatively like us meaning that we should be able to understand his will at some level.

        Unfortunately, I don't understand anything about religion at all. Like DarkSyde, it makes no sense to me. I think it also cheapens the universe. The fact that all of this happened through random chance is so much more awesome to me.

        •  their response (none)
          and again it's not my response--would be that God is the All.  People put way too much emphasis on the "in his image" thing.

          And enlightened Hindus say that God is all of us, and we--individually and collectively--are him.  Which is actually a pretty cool philosophy, very akin to the Force in Star Wars, without the levitation silliness.

          The idea is that God's decisions are so impossibly complex that the future--and explanations for the past--are unknowable.  And unstoppable anyway, since God is like unto the whirlwind, as it says in the Book of Job.

          Now, to me, the Book of Job is at once the most brilliant book and the bitterest pill in the entire Bible, and I cannot ascribe belief to such a violent and wrathful God.  But it is the greatest exposition of intellectual theism in existecne.

          •  capital letters don't substitute for logic (4.00)
            "their response and again it's not my response--would be that God is the All"

            And that they would give such a response is why folks like DS and I think of them as we do.  For all practical purposes, religion looks just like making shit up.

            •  the best I can do is to tell you to understand (none)
              these people to think of God like an energy field.  That nature has certain laws, and all life both has and creates its own energy.  This "little bundle of energy" everyone carries would be what they call the Soul.

              And that the collective energy of all life and the forces of nature is God.  And that--like an energy field--there are points of high energy and points of low energy, like mountains and valleys.

              And that the mountains in the energy field are created when lots of energy is placed through strong desire and action around a certain objective.

            •  the best I can do to tell you to understand (none)
              these people to think of God like an energy field.  That nature has certain laws, and all life both has and creates its own energy.  This "little bundle of energy" everyone carries would be what they call the Soul.

              And that the collective energy of all life and the forces of nature is God.  And that--like an energy field--there are points of high energy and points of low energy, like mountains and valleys.

              And that the mountains in the energy field are created when lots of energy is placed through strong desire and action around a certain objective.

          •  Job = an intellectual book? (4.00)
            I beg to differ.

            Job maintains his faith in God, but when he finally gets fed up, God tells him to shut up, puny mortal, because I'm bigger and stronger than you and you can't possibly understand what I'm thinking.  Job accepts and is rewarded.

            The irony of it all is that we're told exactly why God allowed all that crap happen to Job.  It was an idle bet between God and Satan, akin to Randolph and Mortimer Duke in that classic Eddie Murphy/Dan Akroyd film, Trading Places.

            Satan: I'm bored.  No one to bug.
            God: How about Job?  Although it might be a challenge for you.
            Satan: Betcha he'll be pissed at you
            God: Betcha he won't.
            Satan: You're on.
            God: I'm on?  Then I guess it's on.
            Satan:  It's on, baby. It's on.
            Job: Praise God, but WTF?

            I'm not sure what kind of great intellectual exposition of theism I'm supposed to gather from this one.  It seems pretty straightforward to me.

            •  That is the best summary... (none)
              ...of the book of Job that I have ever seen. I want it on a tee-shirt to wear to Church. Would you mind if I snatched that snippet for that purpose? LMAO.
            •  And don't forget ... (none)
              God causes Job's wife and kids to die as part of the  "fun".  And it's not like God brings them back in the end (Job gets a new wife and new kids).  Kind of sucks that God's little bet has that collaterial damage factor ...
            •  Job fan here (none)
              I love your summary, but I do think Job is an intellectual book. It is designed to wrestle with the problem of "bad things happening to good people" and the explanation is essentially that there is no explanation. Bad things will happen to good people. Deal with it.  

              The reaction of Job's contemporaries (oh, he must have deserved it) makes it clear that the book is also countering a cultural notion that punishment is because God hates you. Job provides the answer that maybe God is just testing you. Or maybe he's doing something that you couldn't possibly comprehend, like when you take your cat to the vet to get her shots and all she knows is that it hurts.

              The fact that Job "passes the test" and gets all sorts of good things at the end is a little dishonest, but that's the nature of a myth, isn't it? People like a happy ending.

              •  God is testing you (none)
                by torturing you with pain, misery, and suffering? For what end? For what purpose? To test your 'faith' in his love? What sort of sick freak would do that?

                We're not some sort of battered spouse for God to beat up on and then scream "get up bitch!" afterwards.  If that's God, no thanks.

                Sponge Bob, Mandrake, Cartoons. That's how your hard-core islamahomocommienazis work.

                by Benito on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:31:23 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I'm an atheist because (none)
                  ...I respect the concept of God too much to believe he'd act in such a childish manner.

                  Someone once asked Twain why, if there is a God, there was so much evil in the world.

                  And Twain said it was because there was a God, and "he is a malign thug."

                  Rubus Eradicandus Est.

                  by Randomfactor on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 09:55:31 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Exactly my thoughts (none)
                  The god described in numerous parts of the bible is a sick, sadistic, narcissistic jack-off. A Mafia boss to the nth degree, love me or else. Fuck that.

                  Even if the existence of the biblical god could be proven, I still wouldn't worship such a sick fucking jack-off. I will eternally refuse to bend my knee to some agent that does things which if I did them, would rightly get me sent to the gas chamber.

                  If god was forced to be treated like he treats his children, he'd kill himself.

                  cheers,

                  Mitch Gore

                  Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

                  by Lestatdelc on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:20:53 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  A counter ... (none)
                  Do good parents spare children all pain or do we let them fall now and then, face some hearbreak? Is there growth only in joy and happiness and sunshine or is there also growth in grief and challenge?

                  I'm not saying I'm entirely comfortable with that, but I think it has to be considered when you're talking about the hypothetical behavior of a being dealing with an infinite timeline and the whole universe.

                  •  So allowing the Devil (none)
                    to kill Job's entire family is somehow supposed to be a 'learning experience' akin to not comforting a kid after he's fallen off a bike and scraped his knee?

                    Sorry, but you can't spin that turd -- the difference is that I didn't allow my younger brother to go over and kick the living shit out of my kid while he was riding the bike.

                    I suppose in your mind the Nazi genocide was merely a mild social experiment that went 'a bit too far' huh?

                    Anything that demands my worship and devotion "or else" isn't worth worshiping.  

                    Sponge Bob, Mandrake, Cartoons. That's how your hard-core islamahomocommienazis work.

                    by Benito on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 02:01:17 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Job was allegory ... (none)
                      So debating the details of the story isn't especially productive. God allows bad things to happen. That much is clear. You're assuming that the book of Job offers the literal explanation, and I reject that premise from atheists just as I would from fundamentalists. It was the response to those who think earthly status is a sign of God's favor or disfavor. Bad things happen to good people for reasons that go beyond our understanding.

                      And where exactly did the idea I'd discount the horrors of the Nazi genocide come from? How was that not a product of humanity whether there is a God or not?

                      You have as narrow a view of God as the fundamentalists. My God doesn't demand my worship and devotion "or else." If the fundies are right, I will doubtless roast in the fires of hell right with you, but I'm OK with that because that God isn't worthy of worship. We agree there.

                      •  So Why Care? (none)
                        Bad things happen to good people for reasons that go beyond our understanding.

                        Yet God is supposed to be an all-powerful, all-knowing, ostensibly all-loving being. Saving yourself by noting God is incomprehensible and thus his will in unknowable merely raises the question of why believe or care about this being at all. It's a rhetorical device that that deflects a serious criticism by reduces God to being utterly unimportant.  

                        Why care at all about god, the devil, the flying spaghetti monster, or earl, lord of plumbing fixtures, if doing so is, by your own words, a pointless exercise?  

                        Sponge Bob, Mandrake, Cartoons. That's how your hard-core islamahomocommienazis work.

                        by Benito on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 02:50:08 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  And I can't answer that for you. (none)
                          Because I don't know. I just believe. I feel that God does offer insight and meaning and good things to my life. I believe that God is there. I have tried not to believe. My parents don't believe. And yet I have always found that I do from very early childhood. And it offers me insight and comfort and value. It's not a rulebook or anything. It just is.
              •  Works for a non-omnipotent God. (none)
                See, the "God is doing something you can't possibly comprehend" is OK as long is God is either not all-loving, or not omnipotent.

                The real problem is omnipotence.  If God were omnipotent, he'd have invented the equivalent of painless shots.  Omnipotence is a virtually unworkable attribute; an omnipotent being is very implausible anyway, but if you add any specific details beyond that you get into much worse trouble with conflicts with reality.

                If you allow God to not be omnipotent, you get a much more plausible God.

        •  And how would.. (4.00)
          we know what said God thought was moral or immoral if we had no ability to comprehend it?  We can't comprehend this God but we know what it thinks is right and wrong?

          THAT doesn't make sense.

          •  a-ha! (none)
            And there's the giant, gaping hole in the logic that (too many) Christian groups overlook.  The problem is, the lack-of-comprehension angle is intellectually honest, while the knowing-His-ideas-of-right-and-wrong is the true fallacy.   Sure, many believe in the Bible as His little guidebook to rules and regulations, but there's so much ground that the Bible doesn't cover, and human beings have been running with their perception of God ever since.

            If I'm not mistaken, Martin Luther was one of the few who (sort of) resolved it: while he said that we had some blueprint for right/wrong (i.e., the Bible), in the end, it was arbitrary, because God does what God wants.  If God decides heaven is only for mass murderes, then heaven is only for mass murderers, and we don't have the intelligence to comprehend/complain. He called it Grace.  And part of Faith is the hope that God won't reneg and withhold heaven from the "good" people.

            •  Which Is Why The Whole Doctrine of 'Faith' (none)
              is little more than self-serving, ridiculous twaddle.

              God is beyond our comprehension (so what is the point of going to Church on Sunday? Why bother with religion at all if it is beyond our comprehension?) thus we must have "faith" in his love for us (i.e. obey me because my interpretation of what god wants is what will save you from hell).

              It's all nonsense. This should logically mean that it doesn't matter what religion you are, whether you you believe in God or not, or whether you do good deeds or not. I could be a maniac who kills, rapes, and eats small children and STILL get into to heaven.

              It's just as bad as the Calvinist doctrine of predestination -- quite possiblty the biggest, most complete load of self-serving, hypocritacal horse shit ever devised. If it's already been predetermined if I go to hell or not, why fucking go to church on Sunday?

              Sponge Bob, Mandrake, Cartoons. That's how your hard-core islamahomocommienazis work.

              by Benito on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 02:13:37 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  actually, it's a tautology (none)
            God is Right because God is everything, and there is nothing outside of God.

            The point of the book of Job is that God is literally beyond good and evil.

            •  which makes the actions (none)
              of nearly all of those who claim to believe in God completely nonsensical.  beyond good and evil, how many Christians do you know who espouse this?

              Say that around some of the Christians I'm related to and they'll string your ass up!

              just be thankful for what you've got

              by itsbenj on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 01:37:33 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  Agreed (none)
        If I'm not mistaken, this line of thinking was the source of Martin Luther's beliefs, as well.
    •  Any Technology, Sufficiently Advanced, Is (none)
      indistinguishable from magic.

      Presumably, sufficiently advanced minds might seem magical also.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:28:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  superior does not mean illogical (none)
      Einstein and Turing had superior minds to mine, but not by virtual of denying modus ponens.
      •  whew (none)
        This is a general response to you and the other people who've been responding to my quote.

        First, as I said before in a caveat above, I'm an atheist myself, so much of this is preaching to the choir.  However, the idea of dealing with a superior mind is problematic, which is why I advised a different defense of atheism.  

        Logic is a human creation, and it cannot answer all our questions.  This doesn't mean that there is a superior being, but if there is, he/she/it/they better have a more sophisticated approach to knowledge than we do.  Or I rescind the title "superior."

        If you haven't read Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, I highly recommend it.  While his Orthodox kowtowing can be a bit much sometimes, and his melodrama tasteless, the way he poses the "eternal quesions" has never been surpassed.  Period.

        This is a short selection from the Garnett translation of the novel, in which a rebellious intellectual explains why he rejects God:

        Yet there have been and still are geometricians and philosophers, and even some of the most distinguished, who doubt whether the whole universe, or to speak more widely, the whole of being, was only created in Euclid's geometry; they even dare to dream that two parallel lines, which according to Euclid can never meet on earth, may meet somewhere in infinity. I have come to the conclusion that, since I can't understand even that, I can't expect to understand about God. I acknowledge humbly that I have no faculty for settling such questions, I have a Euclidian earthly mind, and how could I solve problems that are not of this world?... All such questions are utterly inappropriate for a mind created with an idea of only three dimensions. And so I accept God and am glad to, and what's more, I accept His wisdom, His purpose which are utterly beyond our ken...Let me make it plain. I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclidian mind of man, that in the world's finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, of all the blood they've shed; that it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify all that has happened with men -- but thought all that may come to pass, I don't accept it. I won't accept it. Even if parallel lines do meet and I see it myself, I shall see it and say that they've met, but still I won't accept it. (II. V. 3)

        His conversation goes on to develop a damning list of reasons why, if God does exist, he's nothing but a (to use the word from the Twain quote above) thug.  Dostoevsky's response is not to respond at all, because Ivan's argument is nearly airtight, as far as logic goes.  But logic has its limitations, and the ultimate response/refutation lies not in words, but it the plot itself, in which characters sometimes feel compelled to act and think contrary to what logic would dictate.  

        Anyway, it's a long, fascinating argument that he sets out, and I'm totally butchering it by summary, but the point is this: logic may not be the end-all of understanding.  

        •  justifying the unjustifiable (none)
          There is no rational way to justify the claim that something that defies logic can be "understood".  But of course, if one is willing to disregard logic then rationality isn't a determinant. One of the things that we know from logic is that any statement can be proven from a false one.  So it's quite consistent to abandon logic and simply "understand" things without it, but then you've lost any defense against error.  And some of us care about that.
  •  i don't believe in santa claus (1.36)
    No, none of that is the reason: Your disbelief in a literal Santa Claus, flying reindeer, nocturnal visits, toy factories, elves, etc., likely centers on three concrete objections:

    "It" makes no sense

    There is no evidence for "it"

    We're adults who can get by fine at Christmas time and enjoy ourselves without "it" having to be true

    cause i have a working definition of what santa claus is and i can test it.  when i was young i could stay up late and verify his arrival.  but wait.  maybe i was a bad kid.  and then i learned that if there really was someone at the north pole then there would be more evidence of it than what my parents gave.

    the planet pluto doesn't necessarily make sense.

    and for a long time there was no evidence for the planet pluto.

    i could certainly keep living my life without a planet pluto.

    and yet.... it exists.

    actually.... i hear it's not a planet anymore.

    anyway... there's actually better ways to prove santa doesn't exist than those listed above.

    "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

    by BiminiCat on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:06:00 PM PST

    •  Will you stop it with Pluto? (4.00)
      You keep saying that.  No one ever had "faith without evidence" in Pluto.  Lordy.

      "In the beginning the universe was created. This has been widely criticized and generally regarded as a bad move." -- Douglas Adams

      by LithiumCola on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:07:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  More importantly, (none)
        No one ever killed anyone in the name of Plutoism, before there evidence of it, or since, as far as I know. Though I'm sure the one church or another offed a few people for wanted to find out if Pluto existed.

        No one ever said Pluto wrote/inspired a book, that book is the only truth and anyone who doesn't believe in the book should be converted or killed.

        Freedom isn't free, but the richer you are, the cheaper it gets.--me

        by rcvanoz on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 09:08:38 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I've seen the evidence for Pluto (none)
      And if you haven't, please go to the nearest Astronomy department and ask to look through a sufficiently powerful telescope.  You can record your observations of the motions relative to the stars over time.

      If you're so inclined, you can also look at the blueprints for the telescope.  You can research the evidence behind the theory of optics.  You can examine the evidence behind the Newtonian theory of celestial mechanics.

      I've actually done most of these.  If you are too lazy to see the evidence, then you will have to rely on the opinions of those you trust -- but I hope you're not.

      I, like DarkSyde, am certainly not too lazy to look at the evidence given in favor of the existence of a god -- but having looked at it, it consists mostly of logical fallacies, partly of bare assertions, and partly of false premises.

  •  Being an atheist means. . . (4.00)
    . . . never having to say "here's the end of my diary!"

    George W. Bush -- It's mourning in America.

    by LarryInNYC on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:06:03 PM PST

  •  Respect (4.00)
       What we really need is a framework of mutual respect by which people of varying beliefs, or no belief, can respect each other.  I don't see how that framework can be achieved through mutual insults, accusing the other of lack of patriotism, lack of moral fibre, lack of intelligence, or lack of sanity.  While I see how frustration at being in an arena of discussion where the debate seems stacked against you can lead to venting along these lines, it's not very good for the venter or for those who get vented against.  What I'd much rather see are examples of how we we can respect others without having to agree with them.
       One more point.  Fundamentalism is not "religion", nor even a specific religion or group of religions; it's a virus that disguises itself in religious camouflage, and it tends toward the destruction of any religious beliefs it comes into contact.  When I see critiques of "religion", they are usually critiques of fundamentalism, except that they buy the fundamentalist line that only fundamentalism can represent religion.  
    •  I really believe (none)
      ...the the true problem is one of asymetrical warfare.

      Atheists, for the most part, have no problems tolerating the religious beliefs of others.

      I truly believe that most "believers" are driven frantic by the existence of people who doubt their worldframe.

      Rubus Eradicandus Est.

      by Randomfactor on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 10:01:41 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  it wasn't an evidence or a logic thing for me (4.00)
    but almost a year long contemplation.  At the end of I felt alone in my consciousness, if that makes any sense.  No omnipresent being sharing my essense, hearing my words and thoughts, in charge of my destiny.  Just me.

    I'm still big on the concept of grace, it's just a secular version.  Life is still a gift; not from God  but a gift from nature.  And all the more sacred, for lack of a better word, because it's finite.

    >> This is about why I am an atheist, not why you should be one.

    Well done.  Damn I hate a proselytizer...no one's inner truth should require a majority to make it so.  

    •  I like how you put that (4.00)
      The world is so vast and so marvelous that I don't feel we can begin to claim to know what's behind it.

      I say I'm an atheist because I see such variety and inconsistency in the world and our attempts to understand it that I have found no satisfactory unifying theory except that there isn't one.

      •  well... (none)
        Personally I think that would make you an agnostic. But that's just me.
        •  Perhaps (4.00)
          But I still fit the definition of atheist that says "lack of belief in a deity" or "belief that there is no deity." The above is what I currently think of as my reason for that (lack of) belief: deities do not make sense to me as unifying theories because I don't believe that life can be so simply/directly personified or explained. Maybe there's something out there that would work for me, but theism as I understand it is not it.
  •  Magic of religion (4.00)
    What I love is how Christian piety serves as both a secret-handshake and a get-out-of-jail free card for Republicans.  It works like this:

    A. For the devout, because Republicans have faith, they must be trustworthy and good.
    B. Because Republicans are trustworthy and good, all those crazy policy ideas can't really be naked special-interest payoffs and/or the twisted megalomaniacal fantasies of sadistic morons.
    C. Because Republicans have faith, and are good, and therefore their policies must be good, when the outcomes are breath-taking disasters / vermin-infested quagmires, it must be God's will -- and my but the lord works in mysterious ways!

    This essentially recounts two dozen debates with my wingnut relatives before I stopped wasting my breath.

    But these people are fundamentalist extremists you say?  They weren't always.  It all started with faith, which brought them conveniently within organizing range of a vastly funded ruthless band of truly evil right-wingers who may truly believe they are carrying out the Lord's will.

    Take away Christianity and you have removed the brainwashing agent and the shooting-fish-in-a-barrel organizing opportunity from the most dangerous elements of the modern political landscape.

    •  you should diary this (none)
      "It all started with faith, which brought them conveniently within organizing range of a vastly funded ruthless band of truly evil right-wingers who may truly believe they are carrying out the Lord's will."

      I think this is something people need very much to be made aware of -- how "ordinary" Xtians get turned into fundies.  The fundie movement got its big push in 1980, when Richard Viguerie turned "abortion is murder" into a strategy to put Reagan into the White House.

    •  I am also related to these people (none)
      And I think you've got it...ALMOST right.

      The problem is not faith as most of us here mean it.

      (I mean, those of us who have faith, what we mean when we say we have it. Except possibly for BiminiCat. But I digress.)

      The problem is Christian Culture. I mean that in a pop culture sense. Pop culture has fragmented over the last twenty years into a multitude of specialized sub-groups. It starts with shared interests and moves on to shared information, often through advertising.

      Secular example: I have friends who are gun enthusiasts who go to gun shows -- because they're interested in guns -- but once there they see weird, unrelated garbage like apparently sincere reprintings of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. I've read the NRA magazine and it is full of things only peripherally related to firearms. If you immerse yourself in that culture, you get a very different idea about what's going on in politics and society. And if you participate with insufficient skepticism, you really will start to believe that all Democrats, any Democrats, will try to take your guns away. Even Howard Dean.

      Christian pop culture is just the same.

    •  It all comes down to Voltaire. (none)
      Those who can make you believe absurdities
      can make you commit atrocities.

      ~~~~
      Blogesque
      Economic Left: -6.25 Social Libertarian: -5.03

      by OhioLen on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 10:20:41 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  After all is said and done, (2.92)
    the self-delusional stories atheists tell themselves is for the most part, the same self-deluding, life-affirming stories that the theists tell themselves. Case in point: The Will to Power by Neitzsche.

    Except perhaps Sartre. He lived and died an existentialist. Von Neumann, that polymath, logician and mathematician, died a horrible death, afraid of death every minute he knew he was dying.

    Every person will reveal themselves to their Self at the moment before death, if they are conscious. Everything else that is said and argued when you are in good health, sitting in the comfort of living room and typing on your laptop is almost not guaranteed to be your Truth.

    There is a reason why many outstanding scientists who gleaned the rarest of glimpses into the inner workings of the universe, like Einstein and Newton, were all believers. That reason is simple. They were, for the most part, very clear thinkers.

    •  Hmm... (4.00)
      I guess that means that Isaac Asimov, Ernest Hemingway, Carl Sagan, George Orwell, Thomas Edison, Seneca, Albert Camus, etc., etc. were not clear thinkers?

      Not being glib, but calling attention to famous theists doesn't give the argument any more credit than giving due credit to the genius atheists we've had, as well.  

      •  And David Hume, (none)
        fat and happy and atheistic to his death.

        Mother Nature bats last.

        by pigpaste on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:50:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  A silly (2.00)
          preoccupation with causality does not qualify you as a scientist ;)

          (for the cerebrally challenged, that is a snark. No need to go postal, handing out zeros for things your feeble mind fails to comprehend)

          •  The one is for the "postal" shit. (2.25)
            asshole

            "We have too many high-sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them." Abigail Adams 1764

            by greeseyparrot on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 01:45:37 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Hey, lightiris in regard to your rating (2.00)
              1) I lost someone at Edmond OK, and when I hear joking references to "going Postal" I take it as somebody making a cheap joke out of a it tragedy, and I make my feelings about it known.
              2) The "gag" on its own terms doesn't even make sense. In spite of the media making a huge deal after Edmond, whenever violence occurs at a Post Office, the fact is that it, (the Post Office) doesn't even rank in the top ten as far as the employees being in any danger due to homicide or other workplace related violence.
                 I still have contact with several of those who survived Edmond, and they find it hurtful that what happened to them, has become nothing more to most people, that than basis for perpetuating a cruel stereotype.

              "We have too many high-sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them." Abigail Adams 1764

              by greeseyparrot on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:46:02 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  The one is because... (none)
            ...I don't have trusted user status and cannot give out zeros.

            Justice For All. Help free William Mayo

            by Mean Green on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:26:05 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Ratings misuse (2.66)
            all around, as many have pointed in response to my original post. If you cannot respond with a reasoned, logical explanation or if you cannot understand snark, you are not going to convince anyone of the correctness of your point of view.

            If you think you can just downrate comments and stifle dissent, move to communist China. Even better, to N. Korea.

      •  Premised on (none)
        a logical fallacy, your argument is, as Yoda might say ;)

        You inferred "believers are NOT clear thinkers" from my statement. Wrong.

        I specifically mentioned Einstein and Newton because they were scientists who used the most pristine form of logical thinking in their profession. Hemingway, whose work I admire, was not a scientist. Neither are most people on your list. Sagan was a scientist like George Bush is a manager :)

        Anyway, my intent is not to put down other "thinkers" who were/are atheists.

        I am saying some people who have done the most critical, logical thinking EVER known to man, like Nietzsche, ended up making wild proposals that resemble the stories in Genesis while others were ardent believers. That is a fact. Think about why that might be.

        •  Why. (none)
          Because humans appear to have a very powerful innate capacity for rationalization?  (Which means, making stuff up after the fact to "explain" things, even though the explanation is wrong.)  It's a constant danger.

          Studies have shown just how powerful the instinct is.  My favorite was when they poked the spot in people's brains which made them angry, and asked "How do you feel?"  The volunteers said "Angry."  Then they asked "Why?"  Every single one of them came up with a reason, immediately, and believed it -- even though the actual reason was obviously the electrode they were poked with!

          It's such a danger that one of the major preoccupations of science is avoiding it.  That's the purpose of all those statistical tests done on scientific data; to attempt to weed out some of the explanations which appear to fit the data, but are really just after-the-fact rationalization.  

    •  Why assume that? (none)
      Every person will reveal themselves to their Self at the moment before death, if they are conscious. Everything else that is said and argued when you are in good health, sitting in the comfort of living room and typing on your laptop is almost not guaranteed to be your Truth.

      What is so special about the moment before death, when people are almost certainly addled by painkillers or poor circulation to the brain caused by injury or disease?

      So we do our best math on our deathbeds? Produce our best poems? Finally articulate the definitive theory of quantum mechanics?

      What a Romantic notion.

      •  Not a romantic notion (none)
        but a scientific one.

        The temporal lobe epilepsy phenomenon well known to neurologists. After several episodes, some patients become very religious. AND many of them suffer from thanatophobia. You can find several interesting articles in the journal Medical Hypotheses.

        Doing math is not the same as achieving enlightenment. I do math everyday in my profession. I have not seen God while doing so. At least not yet.

    •  A zero for this comment? Ratings ... (4.00)
      ...abuse.
    •  Einstein (none)
      Was not a believer.

      What follows is a quote from a letter Einstein wrote in English, dated 24 March 1954. It is included in " Albert Einstein: The Human Side", edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, and published by Princeton University Press. He was responding to a question from a child asking about his religious beliefs and the letter is much longer than the quote I have supplied here and having heard both it is clear he was not a theist.

      It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.

      Also from the same book:

      I do not believe in immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it.

      Mysticl

      "Not all who wander are lost" Impenitent Atheist

      by mysticl on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:43:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Einstein most certainly (none)
        believed in God. May be not in the God of the scriptures. But in A God. You can find this in one of the letters in Hoffman's collection:


        "I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings."
        •  Spinoza (4.00)
          Baruch Spinoza was one of the great philosophers of the age of Rationalism and a major influence thereafter, as on, paradoxically, both of the bitter enemies Arthur Schopenhauer and G.W.F. Hegel. From a Portuguese Jewish family that had fled to the relative tolerance of the Netherlands, one of the most famous things about Spinoza was his expulsion from the Dutch Jewish community. This is often called an "excommunication," though, as I used to have a high school teacher protest, there is really no such thing as "excommunication" in Judaism. Nevertheless, Spinoza was expelled from the Jewish community and anathematized. Although he is today recognized as one of the greatest Jewish philosophers ever, and the chief Rabbis of Israel have been petitioned to formally lift the curse upon him, this has not happened:  Spinoza remains a controversial person in Judaism, for very much the same reasons that led to his expulsion in the first place. Spinoza's God is not the God of Abraham and Isaac, not a personal God at all, and his system provides no reason for the revelatory status of the Bible or the practice of Judaism, or of any religion, for that matter.

          http://www.friesian.com/spinoza.htm

          emphasis mine

          "Not all who wander are lost" Impenitent Atheist

          by mysticl on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:05:06 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  No one said anything about Abraham and Isaac (none)
            You said "Einstein was not a believer".  But Einstein himself said "I am not an atheist", and repeatedly referred to his belief in God -- Spinoza's God, or something like it; "a superior intelligence".
            •  Not the same (none)
              Einstein's god passes the test of "evidence for it".  If one believes that we are physical beings, and our consciousness is borne out of some attribute of the physical world, then there is no fallacy to believe that larger systems - and more complex systems - than our own brains could achieve a higher level of consciousness.

              While it's a fascinating and awe-inspiring idea, it's really outside the realm of DarkSyde's original post, and not related to the debate at hand.

          •  Spinoza was a Pantheist (none)
            He is credited with being the Father of Modern Pantheism It's the belief that "God" is not a separate supernatural "old man in space", but rather "God" is found in Nature - in everything.  I like Stephen Hawking's decription: God is the embodiment of the laws of the universe.
        •  Looks like a Deist to me. n/t (4.00)

          ~~~~
          Blogesque
          Economic Left: -6.25 Social Libertarian: -5.03

          by OhioLen on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 10:28:27 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  He did believe in God... (none)
        that quote in its entirety:"A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeeded be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death."

        was to refute people's 'making excuses' for their ethical behaviour by hiding behind religious discriminations...

        His MANY other quotes point to his very obvious belief in a 'higher being':

        "I want to know God's thoughts; the rest are details."
        "I am convinced that He (God) does not play dice."
        "God is subtle but he is not malicious."
        "Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind."
        "God does not care about our mathematical difficulties. He integrates empirically."

        - Albert Einstein

        An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind--Gandhi (-9.38, -7.59)

        by hopefulcanadian on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:06:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I meant to say 'unethical' behaviour (none)

          An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind--Gandhi (-9.38, -7.59)

          by hopefulcanadian on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:07:41 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  No ... he didn't (3.00)
          I make comments about god all the time as well. Doesn't mean I believe in him.

          When someone like Einstein says as clearly as he does that he does NOT believe in a personal god and that any comments to the contrary are lies ... I tend to believe him.

          I actually find this whole discussion of whether he did or did not believe rather amusing. I posted on a whim but personally could care less. Doesn't change how I feel one bit. I do however find it curious that so many are so desperate to twist his words to make it sound like he might have believed ... or not. What he thought isn't really important is it? It's what YOU think that matters.

          I happen to think he didn't believe and I have one heck of a quote to support it ... one that trumps all of yours if I do say so myself but what do you care what I think .... answer is ...

          You shouldn't and you probably don't.

          Have a nice day.

          "Not all who wander are lost" Impenitent Atheist

          by mysticl on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:26:47 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  the quote of yours 'trumps'? (4.00)
            lol.... that just sounded funny.... why does it 'trump' the many references he's made in his life to his belief in God, because he said he didn't have a 'PERSONAL' God???????  What does that mean anyway, 'personal' God...

            I don't know dude, you're right.... I personally don't care what you think..... that's the whole point, I believe in God, some people don't, and contrary to the belief many atheists have that 'people of faith' are intolerable to the idea of someone having a 'nice life' withOUT a belief in God, I could care less if a person is atheist, is one of the Abrahamic faiths or one of the MANY OTHER FAITHS that literally a Billion people or more probably follow.... faiths that DON'T make claims as to 'their' religion 'trumping' any other...

            An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind--Gandhi (-9.38, -7.59)

            by hopefulcanadian on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:40:58 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  You wish he didn't (4.00)
            but he did. If you ever visit Princeton, go around the IAS and Einstein's home. See the inscriptions. You will understand. I lived in the campus for 4 years. I know a bit about Einstein and his life.

            He said he didn't believe in a ritualistic god, but he did believe in a spiritualistic god.

          •  "Personal" (none)
            Why did he include the qualifier "personal" in that quote if he did not believe in any kind of god?
        •  Einstein quotes are limiting (none)
          ...because they are in English, a very imprecise language with a lot of religious baggage attached.  Sometimes it's hard to express things without religion being dragged in.

          When Einstein wrote in mathematics, he wrote atheistically.

          Rubus Eradicandus Est.

          by Randomfactor on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 10:09:20 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Einstein said 'I am not an atheist' (4.00)
        I used to claim that he was, but I was wrong.  And neither of those quotes says he didn't believe in God, just that he didn't believe in a personal god.

        http://www.ctinquiry.org/...

        Einstein certainly held, as his constant appeal to God showed, that without God nothing can be known, but what did he really mean by his appeal to Spinoza? Once in answer to the question "Do you believe in the God of Spinoza?" Einstein replied as follows:

        I can't answer with a simple yes or no. I'm not an atheist and I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see a universe marvellously arranged and obeying certain laws, but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds cannot grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations. I am fascinated by Spinoza's pantheism, but admire even more his contributions to modern thought because he is the first philosopher to deal with the soul and the body as one, not two separate things.

        •  Deism, Pantheism (none)
          Deism and Pantheism are much less out of touch with reality than Theism (the belief in a God who can be contacted or otherwise interferes in the universe).  They are also less testable, however.
    •  right (none)
      There is a reason why many outstanding scientists who gleaned the rarest of glimpses into the inner workings of the universe, like Einstein and Newton, were all believers.

      then please explain the likes of Feynmann and Hawking among others.

      sorry, but when it comes to such glimpses into the inner workings of the universe, ability is all in sheer imagination.

      but we dance to the music, and we dance

      by chopper on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 04:25:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Get your facts straight! (none)
      Einstein was not a believer!!!  When he used the word "god" he was speaking metaphorically.

      http://www.einsteinandreligion.com/

      Newton spent years working on alchemy, astrology, and other useless disciplines, which only shows he is just as fallible as the rest of us.

      So your examples of the "argument from authority" have no validity!

      Thorby

      •  Heh (none)
        Read the comments below. Read Banesh Hoffman's biography of Einstein. Read "Ideas and Opinions" by Einstein. Go to Princeton and see the inscriptions at the IAS and at Einstein's home.

        Newton also founded Mechanics and Calculus. Among other things.

        •  Newton. (none)
          Newton was also a firm believer in alchemy and poisoned himself with mercury fumes.

          People can invent great things in one area of their life and somehow not manage to apply the same standards to another area.

  •  We're all atheists (4.00)
    "I contend that we are both atheists, I just believe in one less god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all other possible gods, then you will know why I dismiss yours."
    -Stephen F. Roberts"

    Thank you DarkSyde.

    •  You posted that quote in my diary- (none)
      But it is certainly worth posting twice. I also like what you followed it with.. something about being agnostic, but only being atheist toward the religions you've seen so far.
    •  Stephen is a friend of mine. (4.00)
      I'm sure he will appreciate your using his wonderful quote. Thanks for the diary, DarkSyde. You put things far better than I could ever dream of.
    •  damn good quote <nt> (none)
    •  What about people that have (none)
      a faith in a higher power but accept 'all Gods'......  or acknowledge that there is a supreme power that doesnt DISCRIMINATE between people of different faiths???  Why does this quote automatically represent people of ALL faiths???  What about faiths like many of the 'newer' religions that are accepting of ANY faith????

      ie/ the Bahai, the Sikhs...

      why discriminate against many of the faiths that encourage meditation, introspection, and don't necc. dictate what is RIGHT or WRONG but rather just intend to teach methods to bring a person closer to inner peace and enlightenment...??  ie/ Buddhism. Zen...

      why always chose the lowest common denominator (ie/ religious extremists) to base your rebuttals on AGAINST the case of 'faith' or against the belief in God?

      This is what I don't understand, believe it or not, not ALL of the world believes in the "Abrahamic" faiths that each dictate 'their way or no way'..... Try learning about the Eastern Religions, Hinduism, Taoism, Shinto, Buddhism, Sikhism, ....NONE exclusively claim 'my God, not your God'..... and its really hard to hear over and over that people who have 'faith' in some form of a 'higher power' might as well equate that to being adults that believe in Santa Claus...

      I personally have NO problems with atheists... believe what you want, I won't call you any names, but the BLANKET labelling of people that have SOME sort of faith as being 'puppets' or ridiculous claims of 'magic' is insulting....

      An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind--Gandhi (-9.38, -7.59)

      by hopefulcanadian on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:22:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I doubt the "all faiths" truly accept... (none)
        Is their all-inclusive least-common-multiple faith claims meaningful if they gut the "their way or no way" religions?  If you drop a few of the ten commandments are you really believing in the Abrahamic god?

        I think if major tenets of religions include

        A and not-A

        they absolutely are fantasies.  And if they promise their followers benefits, they are Santa-nic fantasies.

        Are you one of these all-inclusive believers?  What does it mean to believe or not believe in that sort of a higher power?

        And, were you talking to me?

        •  I was talking to you... (none)
          but I'm sorry, I can't comprehend the first part of your post at all.... not sure exactly what you were trying to say, come at me again?

          Am I a part of what kind of faith?

          An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind--Gandhi (-9.38, -7.59)

          by hopefulcanadian on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:58:48 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  As Stephen stated (none)
            I lost a much longer post, but the essentials are:

            "What about the people who have faith in a higher power but accept all Gods?..."?  Following Stephen's quote I'll let the Abrahamists burn them in hell for all eternity and explain why those people are wrong.  I don't have a special duty to explain why a particular religion is wrong if there is a large contingent of other-believers who are perfectly willing to hold forth about the errors of others.

            Secondly, I think for someone to believe in all religions/gods they have to believe in the least common denominator of all religions/gods, discarding all the "no other god but me" rot.  If by all, they are believing in some of the darker beliefs as well, Satanism or Clthuluism for example, the commonalities become nearly meaningless if not non-existent: Other beings may do with us what they inscrutably desire.  For these reasons, I don't know how much stock I'd put into the quality of faith that the believers in all faiths put into those faiths.

            And about you: Are you one of the people that believes in all faiths?  If so, do you believe in Santa-ism, Satan-ism, and FSM-ism as well?  

            If you're not one, are you trying to use the unshared religion of the the all-believers to reject Stephen's claim?

  •  Thanks DarkSyde (4.00)
    Too many atheists spend their time hiding in the closet instead of proudly proclaiming their beliefs and opinions about the world around them.
    Too many people of faith run away from any challenge to their faith rather than put their beliefs to the test.
    Regardless of what you may believe, I think an open honest discussion of these issues is always helpful for both sides.
  •  Great diary DarkSyde. (none)
    I like your series. I wanted to respond with a long ass comment, but decided to post a diary instead.
  •  wake up call (2.66)
    guess what?  your fantasy future of a disease- and religion-free society where death has been overcome or postponed due to lack of interest?

     1. "It" makes no sense

     2. There is no evidence for "it"

     3. We're adults who can get by fine at Christmas time and enjoy ourselves without "it" having to be true

    think about "it"...

    •  perhaps todays atheist diary word of day (1.29)
      should be.....

      Tautology.

      tau·tol·o·gy    ( P )  Pronunciation Key  (tô-tl-j)
      n. pl. tau·tol·o·gies

      Needless repetition of the same sense in different words; redundancy.
      An instance of such repetition.
      Logic. An empty or vacuous statement composed of simpler statements in a fashion that makes it logically true whether the simpler statements are factually true or false; for example, the statement Either it will rain tomorrow or it will not rain tomorrow.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/...

      "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

      by BiminiCat on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:27:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  how many people (none)
        do you have to offend in how many different ways, Bimini?

        You are on the wrong side of almost every issue discussed here on Kos.

        You and I have had many arguments over many issues already.  What are you, just some kind of contrarian?  Or a troll?

        •  i don't agree with you on some things (none)
          and i'm just as stubborn as you are about those things.

          i bet we both believe the iraq war was based on a pack of lies.

          you'd probably be surprised to find out we agree more than we disagree.  i'm effectively an atheist myself.  i do not pray.  i believe nothing awaits me when i die.   but i also believe faith is an important part of my life.  and i believe the diarist is using some self-reinforcing circular logic to support his beliefs.

          why is it when i'm being just as stubborn as you are about the things we disagree on, i'm being offensive, but when you're that stubborn, i just think you're being stubborn??

          "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

          by BiminiCat on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:54:29 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  That finally did it, (none)
        I thought you were at least trying to say something, before that comment, no matter how unproductive. But now you're just being a pure troll. Though It's apparent you no longer give a damn, here's a zero anyway.

        "We have too many high-sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them." Abigail Adams 1764

        by greeseyparrot on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 02:37:09 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  re: disease-free, death-free future (none)
      1.  Oh, it makes perfect sense.

      2.  It's definitely doable.  Well, I should say possible.  If we all come together as a species over countless millenia using science, hard work, results, evidence, logic, reason, and free thought,  I think we can strive towards such a future.  Diseases are continually being discovered, cured, genetically analyzed, attacked, and being rid of.  The same with the aging process.  How much do you think the human race will learn about the aging process over the next 5,000 years?  How about 80,000 years?  Quite a bit I would imagine.  These are all tangible, touchable things that humanity is working on (and in fact has made substantial *actual* progress in during the last several centuries).

      3.  We're all adults, true.  You can deny whatever tangible, reality-based future (and present!) that scientists and humanity are striving towards.  It changes nothing.  It will not in any way increase the likelihood of a NON-tangible, supernaturally-based future in which a non-tactile God co-inhabits the earth with humans.  That will not happen.

      •  I'm talking about reality (none)
        reality at the level of observable object, not metaphysical thought experiment -- this is Darkside's constraint (and that of your typical rationalist)

        we can only guess at the future

        just as we can only guess at the answer to the question of the existence of god

        regarding your response to #3 above, why are you implying that I am in denial about the present?

      •  Making this more plausible. (none)
        In addition, despite common belief, death is not an inherent property of life.  Bacteria, amoebas, and even substantially more complicated creatures are effectively immortal unless eaten or poisoned.  We may indeed engineer a future where humans are the same, and all deaths are due to accidents.  It hasn't happened naturally -- probably because natural selection doesn't select for species which live forever, particularly if (like human females) they don't reproduce after a certain age.
  •  Here (2.87)

    A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

    by Tux on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:29:08 PM PST

    •  Hmmm.. (none)
      It looks like you've found a good place to take things out of context.  Stop being such an asshat - the article directly references yesterday's diary by DarkSyde, and does some trickery to conflate it with anti-athiest rhetoric.  

      It's not 'a nice article about atheism', it's an attack on atheism called "Intolerant Atheism".  It doesn't provide the quote in any context, and creates a false comparison between two different quotes.  And the Christian quote is the problem that so many athiests have - you want us to believe what you believe.  Then when we describe what it's like living amongst you, you attack us.  BTW, most of the things that were quoted (except for the clinically insane part - we know you're not, it only SEEMS that way).

      "Passing the gun from father to feckless son; We're climbing a landslide where only the good die young." Leaders of the Free World - Elbow

      by Dave Brown on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 11:26:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Nice offensive diary you referenced. (none)
      Yeah, it's actually kind of offensive.

      Not the wordplay.  That's OK....

      >Show him, moreover, that the Christian faith is >not a credulous blind leap into the dark, but a >reasonable faith based on many infallible >proofs or criteria of certainty (Acts 1:3)

      First problem is that this just isn't true, whereas the scientific parallel version is true.
      I've never met anyone who actually had science explained properly to them who "disbelieved" in it.  In contrast, most atheists in this country have studied religion quite extensively.

      Also, there's a false parallel, in that atheism is neither necessary nor sufficient for belief in the scientific worldview.  "Faith without evidence" is rather contrary to a scientific worldview, but is also quite unnecessary for most forms of religion, fundamentalist or not.

      The best bit in it is this comment:

      >And some people feel... (4.00 / 2)
      >...the presence/existence of Divinity just as >clearly as they feel love. Logic dictates that >one feeling is as valid as the other :-).

      If God is defined as a feeling, I, a self-described atheist, believe in it, absolutely!  However, most professionals would call that feeling "the numinous".  Assumptions that this corresponds to any of the traditional concepts of a God being who has views and opinions -- that I don't believe.

  •  What I truly think (none)
    I think that if people read more Robert G Ingersoll (and Neitzsche and Schopenhauer and Kant and Joseph Campbell) it might be beneficial (an how 'bout droppin' some really good LSD?).
  •  Response (4.00)
    Amen brother!  I am really glad you decided to write these two diaries as I think this is an important discussion to have on this site.  I haven't thought about my own beliefs to know if I am agnostic or atheist but I know I am not a Christian or a believer of any other religion.  I hope we are able to talk about this peacefully in this thread as opposed to how my father and I ended up in a near screaming match when I told my parents in August that I don't believe in Christianity and want no part of it in my life.  I am becoming more emboldened to share my views with others and really hope we can do that here in a respectful manner.
  •  i too am an atheist. (4.00)
    and these two wonderful diaries make me wanna fuck! it's like you've unlocked life itself from the dead space that is this internet. clarity, combined with annoyance, with heavy helpings of intelligence, wit, and sock-it-to-'em debate skills.

    i nominate darksyde to be in the next batch of front-pagers. and barring that, i nominate darksyde to be god or the devil himself (whichever you prefer).

  •  Thank you (4.00)
    I've lost friends over me "not believing in anything."

    The invisible sky wizards aren't going to help us get our species out of this mess we're in. We can only help ourselves.

    An angel isn't going to swoop down and put food on my table. I have to go out and buy/grow/kill it.

    The pillar of ultimate wisdom, grace, and forgiveness didn't kill my uncle with cancer . Nature did. We owe it to ourselves to find a cure, it won't fly down from heaven on a clay tablet.

    I'm not going to spend my life preparing to talk to Jesus after I die while sitting on clouds playing a harp, I'm going to do shit. Now, in this life.

  •  Very offensive comment (3.26)
    "Just try and understand that even though I think religion may be crazy or irrational, that doesn't mean I universally dislike religious people or that I think everything they do outside of religion is worthless

    I find the above statement very offensive.

    What if I, as a Christian, wrote something on the same scale about atheists:

    Just try and understand that even though I think atheists may be crazy misguided heathens, that doesn't mean I universally dislike atheist people or that I think everything they do outside of atheism is worthless.

    Note that I don't believe the statement I wrote at all - it was just a comparison to show the hypocrisy of preaching tolerance and acceptance for your own atheist beliefs, yet can freely write pejorative statements about religion.

    You have some valid points, but you contradict yourself a lot in this diary with cutting statements about religion.

    Your arguments may play well to other atheists, but it alienates very progressive religious people who support seperation of Church and State and couldn't care less what you do or don't believe as this is your personal, private business.

    "I got a letter from the Republican Party the other day. I wrote back, 'Go fuck yourself.'" - Bette Midler (Rolling Stone, 9/18/2005)

    by GregNYC on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:31:05 PM PST

    •  aoeu (none)
      I'm fairly sure he understands the point you are making, there was a sentence immediately prior to the one you quoted saying this.

      every turtle knows
      Bush and the Republicans
      worship just Mammon

      by TealVeal on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:32:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'd (4.00)
      ask you why you think atheists are crazy or misguided, to lay it out as I've done. Not accepting magic invisible non-human pals without good evidence doesn't sound crazy or misguided to me at all, it sounds absolutely lucid. I'm sorry you found this offensive, that's why I said in the beginning, "Some of you will find this offensive", and that's also why I posted that it wasn't about you, it's about me. If you want to make it about you, that's your call.

      Read UTI, your free thought forum

      by DarkSyde on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:37:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Never said that (4.00)
        I don't think atheists are crazy or misguided. I caveated my statement above as an example of hypocrisy if I did believe it and stated it.

        I have my own religious beliefs. I've been to places like Lourdes and Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico and have seen and read about the events and miracles and they fuel and strengthen my faith.

        I don't need quantifiable scientific data to persuade me when I've seen unexplained miraculous events that bring me to my own personal, and private conclusions.

        I work in the science industry and am well versed on many areas of scientific thought, but it doesn't negate my faith - nor do I seek scientific explanations for religious faith.

        Bottom line is tolerance cuts both ways and you're not going to garner acceptance and understanding when you belittle every religious person as misguided and bunch them all into groups. I think many religions are intolerant and we should never tolerate intolerance - but your belittling these groups not for tehir intolerance, but for their personal, private beliefs in God.

        And caveating the statements by saying they "may be offensive" as some way to give yourself a pass to offend people is not productive or persuasive.

        "I got a letter from the Republican Party the other day. I wrote back, 'Go fuck yourself.'" - Bette Midler (Rolling Stone, 9/18/2005)

        by GregNYC on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:49:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't think you get darksyde's point (4.00)
          And caveating the statements by saying they "may be offensive" as some way to give yourself a pass to offend people is not productive or persuasive.

          I think darksyde was expressing personal feelings about religion and religious believers. I don't think darksyde was trying to persuade anyone to be an atheist or to "convert" a believer into a non-believer.

          As an atheist I identify with darksyde's experience of life in the U.S.A.  When I wrote an op-ed piece in our newspaper, many years ago, explaining why I was an atheist, my father got a diatribe from his neighbor due to my atheism. My current co-workers don't know I'm an atheist, although if they asked I'd answer honestly. Years ago a co-worker asked because he was impressed with my ethics. When I said I was an atheist he was stunned, and never let up on the attempts to convert me to the religion he thought I exhibited.

          The American religious default is Christianity. If sophisticated, an American will hazard that perhaps one is a Jew, a Moslem or a Hindi. Agnostics and atheists are pretty much invisible in the current American culture.

          How do you think that makes us feel?

        •  Agree and disagree (none)
          In terms of what I believe in, it would be both foolish and inconsistent for me to be believe in religion or a god of any sort. On the other hand, I don't believe there's anything (other than being personally useful) that makes my beliefs true and someone else's false.

          By that standard, I find it perfectly rational for people to believe in things like Lourdes or Guadalupe - in short, I trust other people to be as rational as I am (probably moreso in a lot of cases).

          Personally I'm not agnostic about the existence of god - I simply don't believe god exists. But again, there is nothing that "makes" my belief true - it's just a useful part of my belief system, if only because it allows me to sleep late Sunday mornings.

          And so, as annoying as he is, I agree with Bimini Cat to the extent that if you believe atheism to be "made true" by something other than your personal belief system, than you are believing in something roughly equivalent to revealed truth or some special connection to reality that I've never seen anyone demonstrate.

          We all go a little mad sometimes - Norman Bates

          by badger on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:37:18 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Greg (4.00)
          You wrote in part:

          What if I, as a Christian, wrote something on the same scale about atheists:
          Just try and understand that even though I think atheists may be crazy misguided heathens, that doesn't mean I universally dislike atheist people or that I think everything they do outside of atheism is worthless.

          And I responded, exactly as you asked to me to, in part with:

          I'd ask you why you think atheists are crazy or misguided, to lay it out as I've done. Not accepting magic invisible non-human pals without good evidence doesn't sound crazy or misguided to me at all, it sounds absolutely lucid.

          You asked 'what if ...' I said "then I'd ... " What do you not understand? I answered you with how I'd react . Are you saying you didn't really mean to ask what would I do if you asked that? Because if that's what you really meant then your communication skills at least in this one instance are pretty lousy. Did you mean to ask a rhetorical question and expect I wouldn't answer back with a real response underscoring the qualative difference that threatens your juxtaposition? Bad assumption.

          Or are you trying to avoid doing the very work you invited on yourself as I have already done?

          You're you're not making a lick of sense.

          Here's part of my confusion. Suppose I asked you a question that sounded hostile. EG: How would you react if I said your mother was a big fat dumb pig? But greg, bearing in mind I don't mean that literally of course, I'm just "caveating my statement". No need to take offense or actually respond, OK?

          Read UTI, your free thought forum

          by DarkSyde on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:00:46 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  asdf (none)
            I didn't nvite myself to do anything but simply say you should be careful how you characterize one's faith in pejorative terms if you seek the same tolerance form others.

            I'm not hear to debate religion. I'm hear to state that people should watch how they characterize religion as "magical" or "invisble-beings" or "non-human pals" when it is quite obvious those terms are offensive and meant solely to demean one's beliefs.

            It's not that complicated.

            "I got a letter from the Republican Party the other day. I wrote back, 'Go fuck yourself.'" - Bette Midler (Rolling Stone, 9/18/2005)

            by GregNYC on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:42:26 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Greg (4.00)
              I'm sorry for bringing your mother into it, that was a cheap shot and not the best way to get my thoughts across.  But I also feel it's important for me to be honest, and you initiated this conversation and chose the direction for it. So let me try again.

              If you have two people, one of whom insists there is an invisible, magic, dragon all around the room, the world, and the universe, which they are in contact with, a dragon who has super powers, transcends time and space, and created the entire cosmos, and the other guy who says he is skeptical of that claim and would like to see some solid evidence before he accepts it, which one of those people would you describe as having a crazy or irrational belief?

              You know darm well which one it would be. And you'd agree that the supernatural belief could be called crazy or irrational in a heartbeat if the belief was sufficiently divorced from any resemblance of your own such beliefs. If it was about Bugs Bunny or invisible Martians, you never would have objected to the belief being viewed as crazy or irrational.

              But because you made it about your belief in your specific magic invisible being, instead you were 'offended' by it. You in fact said so. And you tried to use a 'caveat' as you describe it which implicitly implies the guy who asked for more evidence has a belief that is equally crazy or irrational and asked how I would respond to that. And so I responded to that, exactly as you asked me to; I said I'd like to know why you think the skeptic's disbelief is crazy or irrational when it seems perfectly logical and reasonable to me and I suspect to anyone else. And that response underscored the weakness in your argument and the bias disguised as your 'offended sensibilities'. That's the problem with your initial position, your request using your 'caveat, and your rebuttal.

              I'm sorry you felt offended. I'm glad you're part of the Daily Kos, we need people who will vote for sanity. I took reasonable precautions to warn people they might feel exactly that. But the fact that you were offended by having an irrational or crazy belief called irrational or crazy could suggest that you feel I should pretend your belief in invisible magic creatures is not crazy or irrational to avoid offending you, yes?

              But honestly, is that a reasonable expectation, even on a post in which the entire topic and premise is my perception that people who believe in magic invisible creatures with super power have a belief that could be called crazy or irrational, a post in fact in which I warned everyone ahead of time specifically that that was exactly what was going to happen and they might find it offensive?

               

              Read UTI, your free thought forum

              by DarkSyde on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 05:23:44 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  asdf (none)
                You can use pejorative terms all you want and if it makes you feel better in this safe atheist diary space, then do what you want.

                I'll call you out on it every time.

                Second, I don't need to explain my beliefs and what they are based on to you. But, I'll tell you one thing, they are not based on anything magical or imaginary.

                You are offensive and demeaning with your comments and you obviously don't give a shit what words you use to characterize people when you have no clue how we came to where we are and what we believe.

                The only thing you did with this diary is lose a lot of support from very tolerant religious people who believe in privacy and minding one's own business and not shoving other people's faith (or lack thereof) down people's throat.

                Cheers to you! :)

                BTW - I knew who the "mother" comment was coming from so I dismissed without a second thought.

                "I got a letter from the Republican Party the other day. I wrote back, 'Go fuck yourself.'" - Bette Midler (Rolling Stone, 9/18/2005)

                by GregNYC on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:41:15 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  wow (none)
                Circles... circles....

                For some people, distance for the sake of objectivity is just too difficult.  Very frustrating.

                If I had a nickel for every president who lied the country into war.... Oh, wait....

                by deep6 on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 01:40:58 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  you're talking to a wall (none)
                but then, you already knew that would happen. :-)
          •  You're wasting your time (none)
            using logic.
    •  about your rewrite (none)
      All the atheists I know are crazy misguided heathens . . . (I'm one too) . . . nothing offensive about saying that at all.

      Why do you get offended at something as irrational as religion being called irrational?

      •  asdf (none)
        Because it is not irrational.

        "I got a letter from the Republican Party the other day. I wrote back, 'Go fuck yourself.'" - Bette Midler (Rolling Stone, 9/18/2005)

        by GregNYC on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:54:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  from Encyclopedia Mythica . . . (none)
          "Metis, the goddess of prudence, was the first love of Zeus. At first she tried in vain to escape his advances, but in the end succumbed to his endeavor, and from their union Athena was conceived. Gaia warned Zeus that Metis would bear a daughter, whose son would overthrow him. On hearing this Zeus swallowed Metis, the reason for this was to continue to carry the child through to the birth himself. Hera (his wife and sister) was outraged and very jealous of her husband's affair, also of his ability to give birth without female participation. To spite Zeus she gave birth to Hephaestus parthenogenetically (without being fertilized) and it was Hephaestus who, when the time came, split open the head of Zeus, from which Athena emerged fully armed."

          You believe that's rational?

          •  asdf (none)
            What definition of rational are you referring to? There are a few meanings. Are you referring toscientific rationality?

            Not sure why you are quoting Mythology.

            I believe (as do many Christians) that the Bible is not literal or historical document.

            Beyond that, I have no idea what point you are trying to make.

            "I got a letter from the Republican Party the other day. I wrote back, 'Go fuck yourself.'" - Bette Midler (Rolling Stone, 9/18/2005)

            by GregNYC on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:19:11 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I agree (none)
              "that the Bible is not [a] literal or historical document".  It is, or the tales in it are, like the Greek myth I quoted, myth, or the self serving fiction of a particular religion.

              Why would one (rationally) believe one over the other (or either)?

              •  asdf (none)
                I really don't care to share the specifics of my personal and private beliefs with you on this thread. I'm not here to justify my faith to you (just as you're not here to justify Atheism to me - I couldn't care less).

                My whole point is respect and tolerance - choosing words wisely and not be demeaning or offenseive.

                That's my whole premise.

                "I got a letter from the Republican Party the other day. I wrote back, 'Go fuck yourself.'" - Bette Midler (Rolling Stone, 9/18/2005)

                by GregNYC on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:13:01 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  the question is, why does he get offended at (none)
        DS saying that DS thinks that religion is irrational?  It seems that he can't tolerate people having such thoughts, or voicing them -- he finds it "offensive".  But I find his calling this offensive to be oppressive and arrogant.
    •  Response (4.00)
      GregNYC,

      In most cases I would agree with you but DarkSyde specifically mentioned in this diary and the earlier diary that he wasn't going to pull any punches.  This is a diary about why DarkSyde is an atheist.  It would seem a relevant topic would be whether he believes religion is rational.  In fact, his first of three points is that it doesn't make sense.  I agree with him.

    •  really nice (none)
      And look - I get downrated above for my statements (which I had a feeling would happen because anyone who questioned the diarist in the last diary was downrated)

      So now you will have a diary filled with all your own thoughts and no discussion or opposing views because the downraters will shut up opposing thought or discussion.

      I guess this is a cheer you on diary and anyone who questions your thought will get downrated.

      Really nice...

      "I got a letter from the Republican Party the other day. I wrote back, 'Go fuck yourself.'" - Bette Midler (Rolling Stone, 9/18/2005)

      by GregNYC on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:54:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Please (4.00)
        Go easy on the downrating folks. I wouldn't have posted this if I wasn't ready for some heated disagreement and really, anyone can say anything they want. I couldn't enforce moderation if I wanted to and I don't want to.

        Read UTI, your free thought forum

        by DarkSyde on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:58:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  asdf (3.00)
          Like I said, intolerance cuts both ways and the downraters are just proving my point. I couldn't care less, just reflects on them - not me.

          I earned my keep and my mojo - a few petty downrates because they simply disagree with me is petty.

          "I got a letter from the Republican Party the other day. I wrote back, 'Go fuck yourself.'" - Bette Midler (Rolling Stone, 9/18/2005)

          by GregNYC on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:02:29 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  says the hypocrite (3.20)
            who has just given me my second troll rating ever.  I just called Tux out as a troll, as he is attempting to hijack this thread as he did the others.  Same with BiminiCat.  

            A few petty downgrades because they disagree with me is petty - nice try.

            "Passing the gun from father to feckless son; We're climbing a landslide where only the good die young." Leaders of the Free World - Elbow

            by Dave Brown on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:21:30 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  oh please (2.00)
              They are not hijacking the threads. They are offering another viewpoint that you can agree with or not agree with.

              Tux and Biminicat are not trolls.

              You've been downrating people all day my friend for comments that simply differ with yours. Clean up your own house before worrying about mine.

              "I got a letter from the Republican Party the other day. I wrote back, 'Go fuck yourself.'" - Bette Midler (Rolling Stone, 9/18/2005)

              by GregNYC on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:36:32 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Pot. Kettle. Black. (none)
                It seems that GregNYC downrated my comment in last night's diary for no apparent reason other than apparent disagreement.
                •  LOL (none)
                  You are handing out 1s and 0s all day long in these diaries like you are playing paintball and, now, you're getting a coronary over one unproductive rating I gave you based on my own criteria?

                  I felt your comment, in the diary above (which is still on the recommended list), was unproductive. End of story.  

                  Obviously you are new to this and a little fragile about ratings. It gets easier in time.

                  "I got a letter from the Republican Party the other day. I wrote back, 'Go fuck yourself.'" - Bette Midler (Rolling Stone, 9/18/2005)

                  by GregNYC on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:01:56 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  actually... (4.00)
                    I have no 0's to hand out. Pay attention, eh?

                    No fragilitiy on my part here. I've already explained at length why two particular individuals are trolls, are giving "aid and comfort" to fundamentalists and neocons by repeating "atheism is a faith" all over these threads, and deserve unproductive ratings each and every time they repeat the "atheism is a faith" falsehood.

                    •  correction (none)
                      A shitload of 1's and 2's - same difference.

                      Well, then ,if you feel that way and want to take that route, rather than engaging them in a discussion, then don't be surprised when others use your criteria to bestow their ratings on you.

                      "I got a letter from the Republican Party the other day. I wrote back, 'Go fuck yourself.'" - Bette Midler (Rolling Stone, 9/18/2005)

                      by GregNYC on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:29:46 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  What's there to discuss? (4.00)
                        They are repeating "atheism is faith" over and over and are completely oblivious to everyone else; one response to me from biminicat was specifically the act of covering their ears and repeating it one more time! This is clearly not a discussion. Responding to them is pretty much a waste of time, as it is when arguing with any fundamentalist - because the thing that they are repeating over and over is just the kind of thing that fundamentalists believe. Which is my whole point. They are actively supporting fundamentalists, neocons, and the current faith-based, faith-supremacist administration by tying up any real discussion with repetitious garbage.

                        I have, in contrast to these trolls, been very clear about what I believe and why I believe it, even composing some relatively lengthy comments for which you are so grateful that you've handed me a "1". Not to mention those anonymous 0's I've also received. Gee, thanks.

                        •  asdf (none)
                          You ever think you're simply not persuading him with your explanations?

                          He doesn't agree with you so he is a troll in your eyes and you downrate him?

                          Why did you downrate me?

                          What's that rationale?

                          I have an idea (which I applied to you), but I'd love to hear it from the horse's mouth.

                          "I got a letter from the Republican Party the other day. I wrote back, 'Go fuck yourself.'" - Bette Midler (Rolling Stone, 9/18/2005)

                          by GregNYC on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:51:04 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  One more time... (4.00)
                            He doesn't agree with you so he is a troll in your eyes and you downrate him?

                            It is not a matter of simple disagreement. As I have said, how many times already?

                            [Their] insistence on repeating this falsehood that "atheism is faith" is the act of providing political support to people who work to eliminate my ability to function as a full citizen of this country.

                            They are actively working to disrupt this discussion with incessant repetition of a a falsehood. That is why they are trolls and should be treated as such.

                            I expect you will repeat your whine that I am just downrating people who disagree witn me. No, I am downrating those who take the same positions of those who want to make me a second class citizen. That is not just simple disagreement on paper, that is a consequence in the real world that matters.

                            As for why I downrated you, if you're going to repeat yet another falsehood that I and others are downrating people just because we disagree with the trolls, you can expect to be downrated for the same reason the others are: you repeat lies as if they're true, and you're proud of it.

                          •  asdf (none)
                            As I figured no specifics from you as to why you initially started downrating my first post. So you are downraitng because he fails to agree with your absolute that "atheism is not a faith>"

                            A simple Google search provided the following line from an atheist's website:

                            Atheism as a faith
                            As the son of two atheists, I was raised in the belief that no gods exist. I have kept that faith to this day.

                            Many atheists claim that their beliefs shouldn't be called a faith for reasons I fail to comprehend.

                            A faith is something you believe so strongly that you cannot conceive of the possibility you might be wrong. And so my atheism is to me. The idea of a God like the religious people believe in is a total impossibility for me.

                            http://www.pvv.ntnu.no/...

                            I couldn't care less if you call it a faith or he does not or vice-a-versa. But there seems to be some grey areas.

                            Either way, you justification for downrating is pathetic.

                            "I got a letter from the Republican Party the other day. I wrote back, 'Go fuck yourself.'" - Bette Midler (Rolling Stone, 9/18/2005)

                            by GregNYC on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:21:13 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Downrating trolls (none)
                            It's because they won't shut up.  No matter what we say, no matter how many people agree with them.  They keep saying the same thing.  Over.  And over.  And over.  Kind of like you're starting to.  

                            And yes, there are grey areas in Atheism.  But I'm pretty sure that pretty much any atheist would feel pretty strongly about having someone else tell them what it is that they actually believe.  For examplem, BiminiCat insisting that I have 'faith' in atheism, when in fact it is a strongly held belief.  Big difference to me, and obviously many other atheists here.  I told her it offended me.  Others gave her many reasons for why they object to this.  She persisted.

                            In yesterday's diary, she/he pulled out the definition of 'faith' from "The Dictionary" and it started a giant thread, where BiminiCat was the star.  So what's the first thing that BiminiCat posts in this diary?  I'll give you a hint.  It starts with d-i-c-...

                            Jumping into a thread making comments you know will be inflammatory and distracting, to me, is the very definition of a troll.  Go ahead and read BiminiCat's comments here, and tell me that they aren't repetitive and troll-like.

                            "Passing the gun from father to feckless son; We're climbing a landslide where only the good die young." Leaders of the Free World - Elbow

                            by Dave Brown on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 11:47:20 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  asdf (none)
                            Well when I said comments offended me, you downrated my comment.

                            Look who's the hypocrite.

                            Honestly, I could give a shit what you do or believe. Just mind your own business and don't fuck around with me.

                            "I got a letter from the Republican Party the other day. I wrote back, 'Go fuck yourself.'" - Bette Midler (Rolling Stone, 9/18/2005)

                            by GregNYC on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:16:08 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  wow (none)
                            Hostile much?

                            Do you think that I downgraded you because you said that you were offended?  No, I downrated you because I felt your comments insulted athiests (which is something that many here have politely asked to stop), and you also used a pretty flimsy argumentative device to get there.  And I gave you exactly one 2.  And you've rated me at least a couple of zeroes now.  

                            And now you're kind of being a dick.  I'm not going to troll you for this, as obviously this conversation has you pretty heated, and I'm sure on another day, in another thread, we could be friends.  But chill out and take it easy on the veiled threats.  

                            "Passing the gun from father to feckless son; We're climbing a landslide where only the good die young." Leaders of the Free World - Elbow

                            by Dave Brown on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 01:25:12 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  asdf (none)
                            If you could only see how cool as a cucumber I am right now...

                            You know, I went to Church today and it always relaxes me when I play with magic and talk to imaginary people who look like goblins in the sky from ancient myths!

                            You know, because us Christians are just irrational folk who believe in imaginary friends like the boogey man in the closet and monsters in the sea. Well, at least that's what Darksyde tells me.

                            LOL  

                            I'm just letting you know that I don't back down from a fight. I'll fight to the end. That is all I'm saying. Don't start labeling people trolls when you are obviously quite clueless about the term.

                            Your justification for the downrate is pathetic.

                            You need to lighten up and learn tolerance and listening to other people's voices before you start downrating everyone you simply disagree with.

                            "I got a letter from the Republican Party the other day. I wrote back, 'Go fuck yourself.'" - Bette Midler (Rolling Stone, 9/18/2005)

                            by GregNYC on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 01:42:14 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  A troll (4.00)
                            is someone who is needlessly provocative and attempt to take the discussion off thread.  

                            I called you out as a hypocrite because shortly after reading a post of yours about how stupid people were being for downrating

                            I've only troll-rated two people on this thread - Tux (whom you've conceeded is a troll) and BiminiCat, who everyone but you and a handful of others consider a troll (maybe not on this site, but on this thread, yes).

                            And take it easy on the fight talk.  Seriously - it sounds hostile, and beyond that, ridiculous.  Are you going to punch me through the monitor?  If by fight you mean take everything off thread, then no, obviously you aren't afraid to fight.

                            And your ridiculous reasoning above (the boogeyman) shows that you don't understand what DarkSyde was talking about, so you may want to reread the post before you go around starting more 'fights'.

                            BTW - where haven't I been tolerant?

                            "Passing the gun from father to feckless son; We're climbing a landslide where only the good die young." Leaders of the Free World - Elbow

                            by Dave Brown on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 02:15:03 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  DS (none)
                            Darksyde comments are demeaning and condescending.

                            As for the fight talk, I think your getting ahead of yourself and are quite delusional. Dude, we are posting on a blog. Get a grip. What are you ten? I'm saying if you want to play tough I'll play tough. If you can dish it, you better be able to take it. End of story.

                            I understood Darksyde's diary quite well and I've stated over and over it is divisive and does nothing but piss off very tolerant religious people by demeaning them and not really giving a shit what they think or how they are characterized.

                            He could keep using his divisive argument all he wants if his purpose is to make other Atheists happy and alienate everyone else. You can believe whatever you want, but that is exactly what he is doing (as well as your troll rates).

                            Look through your ratings and see where you haven't been tolerant. I'm not here to point out the obvious. Start with the first flame you gave to me (which you still have yet to provide a good reason as to why you did it - but don't bother at this point cause I have no desire to hear some made-up gibberish).

                            Ciao!

                            "I got a letter from the Republican Party the other day. I wrote back, 'Go fuck yourself.'" - Bette Midler (Rolling Stone, 9/18/2005)

                            by GregNYC on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 02:24:58 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                •  downrated (none)
                  perhaps "god" made him do it . . . (you did say "for no apparent reason", didn't you?).
                   
                  •  asdf (none)
                    Boy you are cheeky!

                    I like that.

                    Thank you for once again illustrating how one can easily mock another's faith and belief simply because they disagree and seek to discredit them rather than mind their own business. Intolerance, and ridicule cuts both ways.

                    Just keep proving my point.

                    "I got a letter from the Republican Party the other day. I wrote back, 'Go fuck yourself.'" - Bette Midler (Rolling Stone, 9/18/2005)

                    by GregNYC on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:23:40 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                •  in this thread, (none)
                  Greg validates why atheists feel as they do about hypocritical theists.
              •  asdf (none)
                Actually I just looked at the Hidden Comments and realized Tux may likely be a troll.

                My bad on that one.

                "I got a letter from the Republican Party the other day. I wrote back, 'Go fuck yourself.'" - Bette Midler (Rolling Stone, 9/18/2005)

                by GregNYC on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 02:05:07 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  They are hijacking the threads (4.00)
                BiminiCat spent the entire thread insisting to all that atheism is a faith, contrary to the objections of most.  And she kept doing it over and over.  To the point where the thread was not so much about DarkSyde's discussion of athiesm, but about BiminiCat forcing her dictionary found definitions and her forcing us to accept them as fact.

                Sounds like a hijack to me.  And I only rated the comments where they refused to accept what others were telling them.

                Example.  Someone writes a diary about why they are Christian.  According to my worldview, Christianity is a cult (I only partially believe this - I think it is sort of cult-like).  So I tell people over and over again.  Even after I'm told that I'm offending many Christians.  Never once do I say "let's agree to disagree", but instead I just keep saying things such as "OK, but whatever you think, you're in a cult".

                That would be trollish of me.  That would be trying to steer the conversation in one direction, or trying to dominate the discussion on my terms.  I'd probably deserve a 1, maybe even a 0.  

                I'm not downrating people for their beliefs but for their behaviour - they are offending me and other athiests, but apparently, since we're athiests, that doesn't matter.

                "Passing the gun from father to feckless son; We're climbing a landslide where only the good die young." Leaders of the Free World - Elbow

                by Dave Brown on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 04:47:56 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  Grow up ... (none)
      ..and understand the difference between criticizing a concept and criticizing a class of people.    

      Religion is a concept.  
      Atheists are a class of people.  
      Your attempt to equate the two is inept.  

      •  uhhh (none)
        Uhhh...Atheism is a concept.

        And, not that it is any of your business, but I'm all grown up thank you very much.

        "I got a letter from the Republican Party the other day. I wrote back, 'Go fuck yourself.'" - Bette Midler (Rolling Stone, 9/18/2005)

        by GregNYC on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:05:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Very good... (none)
          But atheists are not.  
          Your attempt to equate a criticism of a concept (religion) with your own statement against people (atheists) is inept.  
          •  Not inept (none)
            It's not inept.

            You just want to point out some abstract difference to justify a statement I, as a Protestant (or should I say "Protestant People" to fit into your thinking?) find offensive.

            You can fiddle with terms all you want, but it's all the same and highly offensive.

            "I got a letter from the Republican Party the other day. I wrote back, 'Go fuck yourself.'" - Bette Midler (Rolling Stone, 9/18/2005)

            by GregNYC on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:14:26 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  So fiddling with terms... (none)
              is OK if you're doing it to athiests, but if someone believes in God, then it is offensive.  

              "Passing the gun from father to feckless son; We're climbing a landslide where only the good die young." Leaders of the Free World - Elbow

              by Dave Brown on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 04:56:44 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  asdf (none)
                I'm not characterizing Atheists for the 90,000th fucking time.

                As I've repeated over and over again - I could give a shit what you believe!

                "I got a letter from the Republican Party the other day. I wrote back, 'Go fuck yourself.'" - Bette Midler (Rolling Stone, 9/18/2005)

                by GregNYC on Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 12:49:59 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  But you are ignoring the context of his statement. (4.00)
      There are 2 problems with your argument:

      1.  Darksyde's criticism was directed at "religion" which is an idea and not a person(s).   Religion does not have emotions and can not be harmed, but your hurtful counter comment was clearly directed at a group of people with an intent to cause them harm.  It is not equivalent.  You are not religion, but I am an atheist.   Do you see?

      2.  After making his statement about religion.  Darksyde then provided an enumeration of ideas from the christian religion to support his position that religion is irrational.  A more constructive response, I have seen from no one yet in this thread, would be to either explain why these points are not examples of the irrationality of religion.  Thus refuting his arguement.  Or, provide an enumeration of irrational points from atheism, to show are are all in the same boat.

      Regards,
      •  No I don't see (none)
        No I don't see...

        • Atheism is a concept. Religion is a concept. Both can be branded with perjoratives in teh same fashion and both statements are highly offensive (like I said before, I don't believe the  statement - it was a mere compariosn).

        • Religion does not need to be proven via "rational" thought (which I am assuming you mean scientific proof). Faith is faith. Science is science.

        If you need a scientific proof in order to believe, then more power to ya. None of my business. I'm not trying to convince you to believe in God. I couldn't care less.

        Many religious people (at least up here in the northeast where I live) couldn't care less what you believe.

        I live around Jews and Hindus and Seikhs and Muslims and Atheists and it's all none of my business. I don't have an agenda to change views.

        My comments are merely about tolerance and how it should cut both ways. If you want respect you have to respect others beliefs - not try to change them. And be careful how you characterize them.

        "I got a letter from the Republican Party the other day. I wrote back, 'Go fuck yourself.'" - Bette Midler (Rolling Stone, 9/18/2005)

        by GregNYC on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:30:51 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  here you write (4.00)
          "Religion does not need to be proven via "rational" thought",

          but a few comments up you wrote (speaking of religion) "it is not irrational".

          I have always viewed rational/irrational as a dichotomy . . . would you please elucidate the "third state" (neither rational nor irrational) in which you place religion?

          •  asdf (none)
            Rational meaning "scientific" - religion does not need to be proven scientifically.

            Irrational meaning "without sound judgement" - my faith is based on sound judgement and, henceforth, not irrationale.

            You can play semantics if you want, as you seem to like to do, but you know exactly what I mean.

            "I got a letter from the Republican Party the other day. I wrote back, 'Go fuck yourself.'" - Bette Midler (Rolling Stone, 9/18/2005)

            by GregNYC on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:58:04 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  "sound judgement" (none)
              Perhaps your sound judgement relies on evidence which is not available to us?  Or perhaps you have a chain of reasoning which is much cleverer than we do?

              Well, until you give us the evidence or the reasoning, why should we believe that your belief is based on sound judgement?  Most people, including me, come up with unsound ideas all the time, and even believe them for long periods.  Sounds like DarkSyde has examined his beliefs very critically.  Have you?

              And if it relies on evidence which is available only to you and to nobody else -- then we're going to be especially suspicious that it's not sound judgement, because we can't reproduce it.

        •  Why are you being so obtuse? (none)
          Darksyde was referring to religion, which is a concept. A concept cannot be offened. However, in your example, you referred to atheists, which is a group of people. You were criticizing an entire group of people. That's the difference.
          •  asdf (none)
            Change it to "Atheism"

            Happy?

            Religion is a part of who I am and, yes, mocking the concept of religion thereofre offends a part of me.

            "I got a letter from the Republican Party the other day. I wrote back, 'Go fuck yourself.'" - Bette Midler (Rolling Stone, 9/18/2005)

            by GregNYC on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:03:23 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  tough (none)
              A lot of people think religion is irrational, and we'll say so without a care that someone somewhere named Greg is offended for reasons relating to his personal psychology -- we'll say so because we value the truth and speaking it, and won't be cowed by such pathetic attempts to stifle our voices.
              •  asdf (none)
                You sound like the religious fundamentalists like Falwell speaking to the Atheists.

                Listen to yourself...

                It's amazing you don't see the hypocrisy.

                Your truth is not my truth.

                "I got a letter from the Republican Party the other day. I wrote back, 'Go fuck yourself.'" - Bette Midler (Rolling Stone, 9/18/2005)

                by GregNYC on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:22:11 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  an honest and respectable person (none)
                  would not find my comments hypocritical or compare me to fundies.

                  "Your truth is not my truth."

                  And yet you find my voicing mine to be "offensive".  Sorry, buddy, but the difference between my truth and your "truth" is that mine is actually true.

                  •  You are just like the Fundies (none)
                    You are just like the Fundies.

                    Exactly like the Religious Fundamentalists.

                    You are speaking in absolutes. It's amazing what a hypocrite you are and you don't see it. You are telling me I am wrong as an absolute truth.

                    Just like the Fundies tell the Atheists.

                    I believe what I believe and I don't judge your belief system (or lack thereof) and couldn't give a shit what you believe and especially don't want you telling me what I should or shouldn't believe.

                    So keep being dictatorial and demeaning and condescending and telling me "I'm right and you're wrong" and you'll find out real fast how you will lose supporters and maybe think about learning how to craft a persuasive argument, rather than an Atheist elitist "I'm right and your wrong" rant.

                    "I got a letter from the Republican Party the other day. I wrote back, 'Go fuck yourself.'" - Bette Midler (Rolling Stone, 9/18/2005)

                    by GregNYC on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 02:49:21 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

    •  it wouldn't bother me in the slightest (4.00)
      "Just try and understand that even though I think atheists may be crazy misguided heathens, that doesn't mean I universally dislike atheist people or that I think everything they do outside of atheism is worthless."

      It would be swell that you don't universally dislike atheists, and if you think that atheists may be crazy misguided heathens, well, it's an interesting fact about you, but I can't imagine why it should offend me.

      What I do find offensive, though, is that even though DarkSyde said that some may find his comment offensive, you blather on about how it offends you.

    •  Heh (none)
      Just try and understand that even though I think atheists may be crazy misguided heathens, that doesn't mean I universally dislike atheist people or that I think everything they do outside of atheism is worthless.

      GregNYC - that's not offensive.  In fact, I suspect that's a pretty accurate representation of what most religious people think.  The open-minded ones, at least.  The more closed-minded wouldn't even give us the words after the comma.

      Which makes me wonder - if your statement is not offensive to at least this atheist, why is DarkSyde's statement offensive to you?

  •  For me (4.00)
    The "it makes no sense" argument is key.

    Nothing in any religion makes total, logical, coherent sense. But that's because it was invented by man, dreamed up over the centuries to explain phenomena. It's the product of much layering, human compromise, human effort.

    Actually, THAT is what gets me about religion. I believe we would be so much better off talking about how we relate to each other as human beings, without mediating that interaction through a divinity. We live in a beautiful world populated by inherently interesting people. Why we would want to limit that for the purposes of religion is beyond my comprehension.

    Now, we can still create a perfectly decent world with religion in it - but the burden is on those who have faith to do that work. They have the numbers and the power, so if they want a world in which religion is respected and yet does not aggrandize itself at the expense of non-believers - it's up to the religious to make that world. Not me.

    I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

    by eugene on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:31:33 PM PST

    •  The problem I have (none)
      with the 'it makes no sense to me' argument is that much of our best science, in physics and evolution, is counter-intuitive.  DarkSyde's 'it makes no sense to me' only works if he has truly taken the time to examine and think critically about that which 'makes no sense' to him.  And he has taken the time, that much is apparent.

      The difference I see between the athiest camp and the theist camp is that the atheists (myself included) generally do take whatever time is necessary to analyze a concept before making the pronouncement 'it makes no sense'.  On the theist side, I most often hear: "who you gonna believe, Einstein or Hitler?"   In this case, the critical thinking is assumed to have been done by someone else, who thankfully is dead and can't defend himself.  

      Just my personal experience with the 'it smells' test, and why I don't use it as a first line of argument.

      Mark Twain -Let me make the superstitions of a nation and I care not who makes its laws or its songs either.

      by Kingsmeg on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:57:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  But (none)

        I have never seen good science be counter-intuative.  Everything you mentioned, that is within my sphere of understanding, makes perfect sense.  

        As for the other quote, Einstein AND Hitler were both believers and men of faith.  I think that's all the responce needed to someone who beings up that question.

      •  "Makes sense" (none)
        "It makes no sense" is not quite the same as the "smell test".

        Quantum mechanics "makes sense" insofar as it has internal consistency.

        Many religions, and certainly most forms of Christianity, don't.  Some do.

        Quantum mechanics also "makes sense" insofar as it's consistent with reality, though that's more in the category of "there's evidence for it".

        The more important part of the reasons is "there's no evidence for it".

        There's lots of evidence for quantum mechanics.

        There's strong evidence against the tenets of many religions, including many forms of Christianity.  Some types of religion escape this, such as Deism.  There is very little if any evidence for most religions, including most forms of Christianity.  Again, some escape this -- the arguments for the existence of certain types of God are much more plausible than most.

  •  the "god" thing fails to answer (none)
    the two basic questions that religion purports to address . . . the cosmological "where did we come from?" (what is our "purpose"?), and the ethical "how should we behave?".

    "Created by god, for god's purposes" answers nothing . . . where did "god" come from, and what are its purposes?

    And as for ethics . . . and "god" . . . 'nuf said.  Identify an "ethical" one, it's "ethical" teachings, and its "ethical" followers.  Just one example . . .

    It would help, too, if those who defend the "god" notion would identify just which "god" they "believe" in . . . is it Zeus, or Ra, or Krishna, or Ahura Mazda, or ? ? ?  Are you a theist about all gods, or a theist about some and an atheist about others?
     

  •  why I'm an atheist (4.00)
    I've been to Israel and I've studied a LOT of anthropology.  In most cultures, the gods in the religion mimic the people in the society and the structure of the society itself.  Thus, Chinese gods had a big bureaucracy - just like the Chinese had a big bureaucracy.  An egalitarian hunting/gathering culture tends to have egalitarian gods.  A more stratified culture tends to have a more stratified hierarchy of gods.  This suggests to me that humans create their gods (in their imaginations) to mimic their own lives on earth.  And honestly, way back when we didn't have science to understand the world around us - how else would you have explained your world?

    Going to Israel changed my views too, even though I was already an atheist when I went there.  The world's religions are like dogs marking their territory there.  You know how one dog pees in a spot so then another dog pees on that spot, etc.  Yep, that's Israel.  The Jews have a holy place, so the Romans take it and make it a temple, then the Christians claim Jesus preached there, and then the Muslims say it's their holy place.  

    A good example: There is one building where the Jews claim the bottom floor is the tomb of king david (so you put on your hat to show respect).  Upstairs, the Christians say it is the last supper room (so you take OFF your hat to show respect).  If you look around, you will see minarets and Arabic calligraphy, because the Jews and Christians appealed to the Turkish rulers - each wanted to call the property their own - and the Turks made it a mosque.  Brilliant.

    Another good one was Armageddon.  Armageddon is a bastardization of the words Har Megiddo (Har means mountain, Megiddo's the name of the place).  This is a strategic location, an elevated area overlooking a MAJOR crossroads of the ancient world (there weren't too many roads in the ancient world).  Whoever controlled Megiddo tended to control the whole area.  25 societies rose and fell there.  Naturally, when John was off in his cave on Patmos writing up Revelation - well where else would he expect his own civilization to end?  Duh.  The obvious place.  Megiddo.  But now that a white guy bumped into America and claimed he "discovered" it, why are we still obsessing about it?  Not so strategic now that we have airplanes and satallites and missiles, is it?

    •  asdf (none)
      It's not really about any of that though. I mean, that really is just anthropology. In the truest sense religion is practice--prayer/meditation, ritual, following rules, whatever else--that becomes more than the sum of its parts.

      It's a common truism that mystical forms of all religions often resemble each other more closely than they resemble the ritual/dogmatic versions of the same religion which are full of cultural idiosyncracies and prejudices.

      •  in the TRUIST sense it's a matter of what is true (none)
        about religion and religious practice, and on that account, OrangeClouds115 has it right.
        •  no... (none)
          I know whereof I speak. It's absolutely not just "trust."

          But believing in God as one believes in the existence of volcanos is genuinely irrelevent in the operative sense of religious belief/faith.

          •  'truist', not 'trust' (none)
            "But believing in God as one believes in the existence of volcanos is genuinely irrelevent in the operative sense of religious belief/faith"

            Just keep those falsehoods coming.

          •  Interesting. (none)
            "But believing in God as one believes in the existence of volcanos is genuinely irrelevent in the operative sense of religious belief/faith."

            That's an interesting and totally nonstandard use of the words "belief" and "faith".  Is there some other phrase which would make more sense to the rest of us?  "religiosity", perhaps?  If so, perhaps you are totally comfortable with the idea of religious atheists who agree with DarkSyde on everything?  An unusual view, but one I would love to hear more about.  (If I ever make it back this deep in the comments!)

  •  Isn't that the point of faith? (none)
    I suppose I'm an atheist as well, or at least an agnostic..I mean, I look at debates like this the same way I look at debates about brain surgery, it's fascinating and all, but way above my pay grade.

    Your dairy is basically, "c'mon now, this is silly", but I know you're trying to be polite and civil which is GOOD because it's what we need. But I think it (god, ect) kind of has to be silly or there wouldn't be much point to faith.

    It does kind of go against the whole reality based community thing, so maybe that's why it frustrates so many people when it's discussed here. If you look at god, heaven, hell, the whole 9 yards, none of it adds up or is logical or scientific, ect, but again, that's where faith comes in, I'm pretty sure that's the whole purpose, so arguing about god from the stand point of what makes sense and what doesn't, I don't think that's ever really going to go anywhere.

    But like I said, and as I'm sure you can tell, this is all way over my head.

  •  They say Jesus will come back right.... (4.00)
    How do I know that the homeless woman in front of my market isn't Jesus? If someone appeared, gathered followers and said he/she was Jesus nobody would believe it and the person would probably be locked up for life. I did the whole Catholic thing as a kid..then one day I noticed they were spending just as much time asking for money, and I didn't understand why I had to go into a scary booth to tell a priest my sins when I could just talk to him directly. Then I realized without sinners the church is out of business.

    *This site is slower than Bush's reaction on 9/11.*

    by Chamonix on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:34:32 PM PST

    •  As a matter of fact (none)
      If someone appeared, gathered followers and said he/she was Jesus nobody would believe it and the person would probably be locked up for life.

      ...that is almost exactly why they locked up Charlie Manson, not that Charlie really was Jesus, but he said he was.

      Evreything Right is Wrong Again - TMBG (lyrics)

      by GreenPA on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:17:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  One of the Bits I Think the Catholics Get Right Is (4.00)
      their emphasis on our duty to look out for that woman.

      Jesus said directly that that homeless woman for practical purposes is him. As you do to the least among you, so you do to me.

      That wasn't a casually or parenthetical quip--it was his statement about his criteria for the Final Judgement. In that lesson he doesn't mention sex, loyalty to his name, and not a single word of religious ceremony or doctrine.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:52:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Santa yes, God no. (4.00)
    DS, I'm with you, pretty much.  I do not believe in all the ancient myths and superstitions that so many modern folks cling to, however I'm fully aware that nobody, certainly not me, has any concrete answers.  I also think that if the rest of the god-squad admitted, like Pastor Dan, that they could be wrong, we probably wouldn't have nearly as hard a time with this stuff as we do.

    Anyway, I just wanted to point out one very difficult thing about being non-religious:

    The other day my 6-year-old was asking me about my beliefs, as he often does, and then out of the blue he says, well how come you believe in Santa?  How come you believe that Santa knows who's bad or good but you don't think God does?

    What did I say?  Well, I sputtered and stalled for time, but don't think I haven't been paying attention to people of faith all these years. Once I got my bearings, I said I believe in Santa because I believe, and that is enough for me.

    •  What about experience? (none)
      Why not just say you know Santa Claus from experience, and tell about some wonderful gift you received?

      I'm a linguist, licensed to use words any way I want to!

      by MakeChessNotWar on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:25:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Santa and the atheists (4.00)
      I was brought up with no religious beliefs (and pretty much stayed that way). I was also told from the beginning that Santa and the Tooth Fairy were not real -- but once that was established, we all played the game to the hilt and it was all very exciting to a 5, 6, 7+ old. I remember almost believing it all while knowing underneath that it wasn't really true -- there was just enough magic to the whole affair to be carried away without the hard landing of disillusionment to look forward to.

      I can't imagine how it must feel like to truly believe in Santa, and then to find out the truth! Basically, my family approaches it like an exciting game with unspoken rules that we all participate in. We still do it -- although in France, where I grew up, the Tooth Fairy is actually "the mouse" and the Easter Bunny is "the church bells" (who drop eggs in your garden when they fly to Rome -- hey, at least it's church related!).

    •  Why not just tell the truth? (none)
      Billions of children have gotten along just fine without ever believing in Santa Claus.
    •  tell your child the truth (none)
      My parents raised me without any religion.  We celebrated the secular elements of Christmas, though, including Santa.  (We still do.  Now they fill our stockings, and we kids fill Mom and Dad's.) But from the time I was a small child, they hinted strongly that Santa wasn't real.  They never lied to me.  When I asked if Santa was real, they replied that Santa was the spirit of giving, and that was very real.    

      I don't remember when I "found out" Santa wasn't real; I think I always knew.  And I'm glad.  I don't want to be like the kid in my 2nd grade class who was told by classmates there was no Santa, and ended up sobbing...IMO, in large part because he felt betrayed by his parents.

      "Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist." - Kenneth Boulding

      by randym77 on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 04:37:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  jqb, helen, randy (none)
        Thanks for your thoughts. I don't believe it helps the children to discourage them from magical thinking.  Time takes care of that.

        I think that believing in magical creatures is one of the great things about being a kid.  If you go to a magic show with a bunch of kids of mixed ages, you'll see one group that believes it all and loves it, another group that questions everything and has its fun heckling the magician, and a third group that knows it's all sham but enjoys it anyway. I think you get a similar progression with Santa, and with God, for that matter.

        We don't tell the kids what to believe about God.  We just tell them what we think.  Of course, our beliefs will have a great influence over time, but for now, they believe in God, which makes sense because it jibes with the rest of their world view.   So we don't discourage belief in God, Santa, or the tooth fairy.  They're growing up fast enough already.  I think they've already figured out that the TF and Easter Bunny are pretty freaking silly.  The Big Guy will hang in there a while longer.

        •  my parents were like that (none)
          They even took me to church if I asked, though our family has never been Christian, no matter how far back you go.  They wanted me to make up my own mind.  

          They did not tell me Santa did not exist, but they did not lie about it, either. It was a pretty gradual realization.  IMO...when a kid starts asking the tough questions about Santa, it means he's getting past the magical thinking stage, and ought to be encouraged in his critical thinking.

           

          "Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist." - Kenneth Boulding

          by randym77 on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 02:18:22 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Tell the truth? (none)
      Why not tell the truth?

      For all practical purposes, you are Santa.
      Say "I met Santa, and so everything I know about who's bad or good, Santa knows.  And the same for everyone else who's met Santa, too."

      Honest, yet... not entirely revealing.  ;-P

  •  When we give credit to (4.00)
    some "other" being, some supernatural, mythical being greater than us, we are taking power away from the whole of mankind.

    All that we do as beings, the greatness and the evil we want to give credit or blame, whichever the case may be, to some "higher power".

    Look at the Chrysler building, as an example. (I happen to like that building-you may choose any great work by humans)

    Look at and understand that it was built by using the mind and body. Many bodies, many minds. The genius who designed it and on down to the men who did the grunt work.

    It is a work that celebrates the creativity and ingenuity of the human brain. Look at it. One of us dreamed that and made it a reality. Many of us built it. Our species. We did that and we did so much more as individuals and as groups.

    We belittle ourselves and demean our endeavors as humans by saying anything other than the truth.

    I am an aetheist.

    A vote for a Republican is a vote for Bush.

    by Maine Atticus on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:36:53 PM PST

  •  as an atheist it is possible (4.00)
    to read the Torah as magic realism and to gain morals and lessons out of it.

    In the same way I can read To Kill a Mockingbird and learn to walk a mile in someone else's shoes, I can read the Torah and learn what it has to teach me about morality.  God is a character, just like Atticus Finch is a character - and the other characters in the Torah believing in he/she/it make it real in the book - if not in life.

    Not entirely on topic, but it's how I dealt with 12 years of Sunday school (I was an atheist for about 9 of them).

    •  There is much wisdom in many religions (none)
      I make this point often when discussing religion with friends of mine who are believers.  Just because I'm an atheist doesn't mean I will dismiss out of hand any insight that might have been recorded by people who were trying to figure out how to structure a society.  
  •  God invented atheists. (none)
    Can't have God unless you have atheists to deny its existence can you now?

    so you think I'm a troll? Well kiss my hairy troll nalgas then

    by MetaProphet on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:45:04 PM PST

  •  Another well done... (4.00)
    explaination of where athiests (like myself) are coming from. What I truly applaud isn't just the craftsmanship of your two posts on the subject, but your willingness to speak in plain language about the "problems" of theism. Remeber, we aren't that far from the day when people like us (non-believers) were burned at the stake. And it seems like we are headed back in that direction.
    •  No kidding (none)
      For thousands of years people more eloquent
      than the poster waxed on and off on this
      subject, and this is enlightening to you?
      •  No, I'm not enlightened (4.00)
        by the post. I am ENCOURAGED by it. I am pleased that there is still a place in this Christo-facist lead nation that atheists can speak freely about their views. Your "more eloquent" people weren't living in 21st century America, where the public discourse has become a question of how close to 12th century policy can we get.
  •  I agree with your points (4.00)
    as an agnostic-atheist myself, but none of them necessarily matter to theists.

    Makes no sense? Fine! Mystery of God embraces all contradictions.
    No evidence? Who cares? That's what faith is for!
    Not for adults? There's a world filled with theologians of all stripes who disagree.

    Chess and checkers are played on the same board, but that doesn't make them the same game. I think atheists and theists have different rule sets, and (I mean this respectfully) you won't get logic from someone who doesn't want or need it.

  •  nailed it again (4.00)
    Lastly, no matter how sophisticated one's apologetics are, it makes no sense that a being can be simultaneously omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient, while evil and pain exists and still provide us with free will while at the same time expecting us to choose door number two or be condemned to eternal torture. All those qualities and conditionals taken together are mutually exclusive in more ways than I can count.
    Thank you for this paragraph in particular. It's very close to my own feelings on the subject.

    My argument to those who would have me believe in this kind of being has always been to point out the mass of twisted contradictions and exceptions that they need to navigate in order to make everything add up: a being who is omnibenevolent AND omnipotent BUT allows things like evil and pain to exist BUT is supposedly all-forgiving BUT then again there's eternal hell for the truly evil / certain nonbelievers AND this BUT that EXCEPT FOR, etc etc. Basically, what Darksyde said.

    Whereas I have a far simpler theory that explains and neatly resolves all these contradictory suppositions in one stroke:

    There is no such being.

    Seriously, how else to explain it?

    •  Like this (none)
      Seriously, how else to explain it?

      Deity developed the Universe but doesn't change anything (aka miracles) and let's the system operate on it's own.

      A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

      by Tux on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:42:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  cheese sandwiches (4.00)
        Well, yes, but that doesn't really address the convoluted-equation class of religion (which covers most of the major ones, I believe) at all, does it?

        So if someone came up to me and said, "I believe that a Deity developed the Universe but then stepped back and lets everything operate on its own", then I would probably say, "You know, you may be right. I suspect we'll never know. Might have been a Deity, might have been some other kind of event, might have been a cheese sandwich. Seeing as this Deity exists only in your hypothesis to a) create the universe and then b) bugger off, then what's the difference?"

        My point is that as soon as someone starts to argue anything more complex than that - and all major religions that I'm aware of do most certainly argue a lot more complex than that, variously ascribing to this Deity motives, powers, a human son, an afterlife to rule over, a number of lucrative book deals, commandments, etc. - then they're on much shakier ground. My "There is no such being" hypothesis will always make more sense - to me, at least - than the twisted equation that describes their excessively complex belief set.

  •  Thanks for speaking up! (plus brain vs. harddrive) (none)
    It's amazing (and sad too--especially given I'm a fellow atheist) that even on Dailykos, where people are much more accepting of diverse beliefs, some still feel some apprehension when presenting a viewpoint that's in the minority.  (Though regarding atheism...I don't think it's as much of a minority as many people would think.)

    I like your brain vs. harddrive analogy!

    Combining that harddrive analogy with your view of the very distant future when people might (of course, accidents will probably be the last thing we'll "cure") have a life that's prolonged indefinitely--what about if we reach a point where we can duplicate someone's brain and consciousness--or possibly the whole person (like we duplicate data on harddrives now)?  Will we suddenly experience just one of those duplicates or will we experience all of them simultaneously?  Let's say there are 10 copies of me--I think it's safe to say that all 10 copies will actually think that they're me--hmmm--kind of scary--I'd have to find a way to be different from the other MEs but yet they'll also want to be different too!  (I wouldn't know whether to be proud or jealous if one of the other MEs were ultimately more successful!!!)

    Item #1 for Jan. 2007--impeachment!

    by westcornersville on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:51:28 PM PST

  •  Crucification (4.00)
    What I never could figure out was the big deal about Jesus being crucified. Sure it sucks to be him. But thousands and thousands of people, hundreds of thousands, have been crucified. So why should I pay any especial attention to the suffering of one man. Because he died for me? I'm sure many others have been crucified in the name of all humanity. I might as well worship Spartacus. At least freedom from slavery is a cause I can identify with.

    I have no beef with those who realise the absurdity of the god hypothesis and choose to believe for non-rational reasons - e.g. faith etc. (whether this is amounts to irrationality is not obvious to me). What I find very strange are those people who think that there really is someone called Jesus looking for them, helping them through the day, getting them to meet nice people, etc., and think of this as a perfectly normal and reasonable thing to believe. That, I am afraid, is a case of insanity - maybe isolated within their minds so that the rest of them is sane, but in itself it's simply delusional. No two ways about it.

    •  I could never understand .... (4.00)
      why anyone pretended like Jesus' alleged crucifixion was more of a sacrifice than the thousands and thousands of other crucifixions.  
      Millions of people throughout history have suffered horrific deaths (and horrific lives) with much greater pain and agony than the few hours Jesus spent on the cross.

      More importantly, as DS has pointed out, what makes death horrible is its finality and the inestimable fear, confusion and dread of its coming.  Jesus had none of that.   Performing a sham death -- in which you know you'll very shortly be whisked into an eternal 5-star hotel where you'll reside as Master of the Universe into infinity -- is hardly a sacrifice.  It's just a stop at the check-in counter to pick up the key to your swank suite.  

  •  Bummer (none)
    Don't get me wrong... I think these two diaries are great and will be using these better formulated words in my debates with the believer friends I have.

    I was just hoping that the Grinch would show up in this one and how fear of the Grinch stealing the xmas goodies keeps the sheople, er, kiddies in line.

    Then how there are those who believe in the Grinch and recind the works of Santa but still can't wrap their arms around the idea that they still believe in Santa, because without Santa, there would be no Grinch.

    Or something like that.

    I could go into the whole having to accept responsibility for faults and successes instead of giving credit/blame to Santa.... nah.

    Good stuff.

    Bravo!

  •  My theories (4.00)
    Good people will do good things with or without religion.

    Bad people will do bad things with or without religion.

    To make good people do bad things requires religion.

    It is ironic that the same Republicans who cheerfully endorse cross burning violently oppose flag burning

    by Darth Cheney on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:57:16 PM PST

    •  yeah (none)
      I'd agree with that. Eliminating religion won't eliminate dictators or studpifity or war. They'll just use other means to motivate the populace. Nationalism or fear/police state or whatever. Pol Pot was an atheist, Stalin was mixed but pretty close to an open atheist, Hitler was a theist, they all managed to do some pretty brutal shit.

      Read UTI, your free thought forum

      by DarkSyde on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:04:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Hmm (none)
      Can religion also shame/scare bad people into doing good things?
      •  Bertrand Russell once said that (none)
        "One is often told that it is a very wrong thing to attack religion, because religion makes men virtuous. So I am told; I have not noticed it."

        (From "Why I am not a Christian")

      •  probably (none)
        not being an evil SOB and being an atheist I'm probably not the one to say. I don't think the consequences of religion are purely bad or purely good and the judgement of good and bad might depend on which side of the flames you're on during a witch burning. I think it's like any other artifact of mind, it has all kinds of uses.

        Read UTI, your free thought forum

        by DarkSyde on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:38:32 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  If your three theories (4.00)
      are correct, it leads us to a fourth, unmentioned theory:

      To make bad people do good things requires religion.

      The revolution is ongoing.

      by The Gryffin on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:45:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  false religion (3.00)
      is the most conning, cunning tool ever devised by the devil...

      god can never be approached by reason.

      i believe god gave us imaginations with which to dream a god of our own choice.

      i see no benefit in abjuring that gift, broken vessel that i am.

      our puny brains are infant in their development, atheism is quite understandable, especially seeing how religion can be used as a goebbelsian tool to brainwash folks with.

      this alone is ALMOST reason enough to ban religion, but we tried that.

      i am lucky that my ancestors passed down wisdom which enables me not to have to try out which mushrooms are good, and which kill.

      i choose deism out of joy, not fear, and yes it would delight me if every atheist found god, especially in nature, even in pasta!

      yet after having watched my two parents die, one an atheist, one a believer, fear also works as motivation to want to believe.

      rigorous thinking does not preclude religion; on the contrary, it precludes only taking others' evidence as your own.

      evidence being entirely subjective, my god and my relationship are unprovable.

      i am comfortable with a god of my imagination, because i am permitted all the thoughts that earthly religions proscribe...

      what makes me suspect religion is necessary is how some atheists need to proclaim their lack of faith with an almost fundy zeal.

      like it's their job to reason me out of my private decision to get a buzz on with my imaginary friend.

      i've given 4's to many atheistic comments, because they were admirable to me.

      conversations like this one go to the nub of our deepest sentiments, as seen by the sheer number of comments, and are serious as a heart attack.

      yet if anyone could tempt me not to believe, it would be by their wit and satisfaction with their choice.

      i happen to have met, known and loved more theistically inclined folks than not, so that's got to have influenced me.

      i've also seen many examples of religion bringing the best out of people, not just the worst.

      i personally would administer an amnesia drug to every human and have us start again with a fresh religion, IF it put compassion and respect for the planet first among tenets, made joy and tenderness equal credos, and made equality and freedom of belief the cruxes.

      if all those were a given, hell you could even call it atheism if you want; no problem!

      call it fred!

      atheism as a platform will never win a vote from a believer, you can take that to the bank.

      added because this is a 'political' blog, lol!

      as if you could ever seperate politics from anything...

      in india the cafes sometimes have a sign up saying:'no politics or religion to be discussed'.

      an old and wise society...

      i'm glad for this discussion, and have rec'd the diary, because i love a good argument.
      natch my mojo's taking a beating because this is a 'cheers' for atheism diary....boo hoo

      darksyde said:

      " It's in our hands; and it's high time we all started accepting that wonderful gift of self determination."

      it works for us 'believers' to have some 'one' to thank for that gift.

      perhaps atheists are happier without... free to choose

      god as crutch--no

      god as escape hatch---no

      god as club, either to belong elitistically to, or to beat others with (esp. children)---no

      god as love---yup

      god as medicine for soullessness---

      yup

      why? just kos..... *just cause*

      by melo on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:52:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  torture experiments (none)
      Experiments show that people can easily be induced to inflict pain -- it doesn't take religion.  Greed and fear can also lead people to do really bad stuff.   Religion plays on these emotions.

      OTOH, "good people" vs. "bad people" is a rather theistic view of humanity.  Try www.naturalism.org instead.

  •  I have to admit (4.00)
    that I have only met one person in my life that claims to be an athiest - my father.  

    I really like your series, DarkSyde, because you put into words what my Dad has been trying to tell me since I was a little girl but I did not, could not or didn't want to understand.  

    I recently read a book, "Don't Know Much About the Bible" by Kenneth C. Davis that helped me understand why it is so hard for many people to believe the Bible.  It is because, like you said, it make absolutely no sense!  There are so many contradictions and so much that is purely fiction that it almost BEGS YOU NOT TO BELIEVE ANY OF IT!

    After many sleepless nights thinking about this, I have decided that I don't believe in the god in the Bible.  I believe that there was a man named Jesus who taught parables about how to be a good person.  I believe that the world is too complex for there not to be some kind of higher power.  I also believe that the thought of heaven is comforting and makes people want to be better and that hell may deter people from acting immoral.

    This may sound simplistic - that's because I don't have it all figured out yet.  

    Oh, no!  What do I do about my screen name!  Yikes!  :)

    •  Thanks (4.00)
      for that.  There are many reasons to believe, and many reasons not to believe in God.  There is no reason to believe something you know is not true.  

      The myth that is the Old Testament has been broken; we know it was written by people, real people in a real society, facing real political problems and with a real concern for right and wrong.  And they had a very different sense of authorship and 'intellectual property' than we do.  I respect that, I've studied it academically,  but I do not believe their visions of the supernatural.

      Mark Twain -Let me make the superstitions of a nation and I care not who makes its laws or its songs either.

      by Kingsmeg on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:10:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  arkchristiandem, you might also... (none)
      get a lot of insight from, "The End of Faith" by Sam Harris, anyway, liked your comment. : )

      "We have too many high-sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them." Abigail Adams 1764

      by greeseyparrot on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 03:01:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  If the bible hadn't been written (3.00)
      then no one would believe in Jesus, because there's no independent historic evidence of his existence.  There is, however, considerable evidence that almost everything attributed to Jesus was also believed of mythical figures of the time such as Mithras and Horus.  Thus, it's quite likely that Jesus never existed.

      Take the parables for what they're worth -- they are more likely to have been teaching stories passed down from generation to generation than to be the teachings of a single man.

  •  Aside from the whole issue of what a day (none)
    was for God before he built the earth and all, I never understood the whole Adam and Eve part. As you say, we are expected to believe all of humanity descends from Adam and Eve. But not even the Bible says that.

    The whole reason God had to put that mark on Cain's forehead was to protect him. Protect him from whom? His other brothers and sisters? No. The other people out there. Who are they? Where did they come from? Why didn't God say unto them "you are you brothers keeper" instead of marking Cain? The Bible doesn't really say.

    we now know a lot of things, most of which, we already knew... (-dash888) -8.25; -6.41

    by Tirge Caps on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 09:58:55 PM PST

  •  my take (none)
    To make an analogy to mathematics, the existence of God might be like, say, the axiom of choice.  Neither accepting nor negating the axiom of choice leads to a contradiction, so that proposition is "undeciable."  If in various branches of mathematics there always exists a statement that is undecidable regardless of the set of axioms one adopts (see Godel's incompleteness theorem), it's likely that in less quantifiable, less rigorous disciplines undecidable statements exist as well.  I'm not saying that the statement "God exists" is undecidable, but maybe reasoning can't give us all the answers in the end--or at least not the answers we wan't.

    Personally, I really don't believe in the potential of human intellect as the author does.  I certainly don't believe that humanity will transcend time, that we will be an eternal species.  There simply isn't enough energy in the universe for that, and I doubt we are a good enough or smart enough creature to pull that off.  If given a few billion unmolested years, then maybe, but I doubt we will, because nature throws things you don't expect at you when you are most vulnerable.  And if nature doesn't kill us off like she has done with all but an infinitesimal portion of the species that have inhabited planet Earth, I believe that we will destroy each other long before we gain the power to perpetuate our species.

    I can't see how one can disprove the presence of a supreme being, unless one argues that humanity is the best the universe has to offer (or if one proves that for any being there exists a being that is superior).  To deny the existence of a supreme being depends as much on faith as to affirm the existence one.

    •  Whoops (none)
      "Neither accepting nor negating the axiom of choice leads to a contradiction, so that proposition is "undeciable.""

      replace "accepting" with "affirming"

      Precise language is of the utmost important in these discussions.

    •  no no no no no (4.00)

      1. We already know that the second law of thermodynamics rules out us being an eternal species, regardless of whatever Freeman Dyson says. I think DS is saying that we can live for a long, long time and have a great time and morph into something better than what we are now.

      2. The Godel incompleteness/axiom of choice analogy doesn't fit. In "less rigorous disciplines" you cannot even phrase Godel's theorem in any way that makes sense.

      3. Of course you cannot disprove the existence of a supreme being. But you cannot disprove the existence of ghosts or invisible purple dinosaurs either. That's the point. No one is claiming to know with 100% certainty that god doesn't exist. All we are saying is that the question seems silly. There is no compelling reason to believe in god, so why should anyone?
      •  riposte (none)
        1. Good, then we agree.  I was in a sense arguing that negating the second law of thermodynamics leads to the same conclusion.  That doesn't weaken the conclusion, it strengthens it.
        2. Ho! ho! ho!, but it fits just as well as some other analogies that I've seen in this discussion.
        3. There is no compelling reason to believe in the absence of a god, so why should one?  There is no reason underlying faith, which I guess is why some people here are so furiously opposed to it, like the fundies are opposed to anybody who doesn't share their beliefs.  My point, I guess, is that reason doesn't give us all the answers.
        •  ONLY reason gives us CORRECT answers (none)
          Of course reason does not give us ALL the answers -- I can't reason how many coins there are in your pocket.  But I don't believe you're walking around with a million dollars in your jeans, and that belief does not depend on faith.  Please please please learn some epistemology and stop making such erroneous claims as "To deny the existence of a supreme being depends as much on faith as to affirm the existence one".
    •  it's also undecidable whether there's a teapot (none)
      orbiting Mars.  Mathematical proof is not the right standard for empirical questions.
  •  Pet peeve Biblical phrase (4.00)
    For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." (John 3:16-17)

    This is used all the time and it has always seemed emotionally manipulative to me.

    1. "His only begotten son" - Phrase seems designed to tug at the parental heartstrings. What's stopping God from begetting sons every day of the week and twice on Sunday? (as the saying goes). Obvious reference to the aged Abraham and Isaac.

    2. Does God have any purpose for sending Jesus to Earth other than to serve as a sacrifice?  When I raise a chicken for the pot, it's not exactly my big sacrifice when I eat dinner is it?

    3. Besides, what does Christ's death/resurrection actually do?  After all, the 'original sin' that Christ died to redeem was against God Himself, so  what is He doing here? Creating someone to sacrifice to Himself? Why can't He just forgive everyone? Why does it have to be a human sacrifice?  Are there rules that He has to obey about these things? (And if so, whose rules and how are they enforced?)

    I've recently begun to think that the whole Christ as sacrifice thing would make more sense if God was sacrificing Christ to someone else.  Better parallel with the Abraham/Isaac story and a possibly genuine sacrifice on God the Father's part.  On the other hand, bye-bye to the omni-whatever supreme being thing.

    And why does God insist that everyone worship Him? He seems pretty insistent about it. 'Worship me or else' seems more like a protection racket than a call to spirituality.

    My apologies to anyone who feels that I've been too disrespectful toward his or her beliefs.

    "Help us to save free conscience from the paw -- Of hireling wolves whose gospel is their maw." --John Milton

    by ohiolibrarian on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:02:00 PM PST

    •  A filter for those who think reciprocity is valid (4.00)
      I've long thought the whole point of John 3:16 and other often ritually repeated verses such as 2 Chronicles 7:14 is to express the underlying value of reciprocity, a mental model that the universe "under God" is mechanistic, predictable and without randomness. Situations take on this formal if-then form: Jesus died for you, therefore you should pay special attention to him; if you kiss God's ass regularly, good things will happen to you.

      This of course leaves open the retribution that happens if you don't properly reciprocate, which is another underlying value I've mentioned in other comments.

      The process of evangelism then becomes a search for people who agree that reciprocity and retribution, among other underlying assumptions, are valid primary values on which to base one's "worldview."  

      I think a lot of people, fortunately, find this simplistic framework childish and absurd. As for me, I want to puke every time I hear wingnuts repeat these verses as if they are great truths, because all they are saying is that they can't bear to know that much of life is composed of random events that they have absolutely no control over, and they need some means to see their future as somehow deterministic. Which is exactly the reverse of what they say, since they complain that science is the means by which people come to a mechanistic worldview.

    •  that the thing (none)
      that always stuck in my craw about christianity. not certain christians (the nutbags), as that doesn't apply to most or all of em.

      but one thing pretty much every christian has to believe is the basic doctrine that the only way to heaven is by believing in jesus. i.e. those of us who don't, from atheists to jews to buddhists, are basically doomed once we die.

      many more liberal christians shy away from this, i mean, if you're a christian and your jewish friend asks if you really believe they're going to hell, you tend to change the subject.

      but it's what always bothered me vs other religions that don't have that believe-or-you're-screwed clause. of course, it helps explain how christianity grew so quickly..

      but we dance to the music, and we dance

      by chopper on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 04:45:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  My big break (none)
      came when I was about 6.  I remember being told in Sunday School (Mormonism for full disclosure) that Jesus died for my sins.  For a 6 year old, this is pretty heavy news.  But it didn't make sense then, and it makes even less sense now.

      All I could think was "Why did God have to do that?  And how does Jesus dying 2000 years ago help me today?  How does his dying affect my sinning?"  Then, for the first time, I recognised a guilt trip.  My parents weren't too happy with the questions that led to either.

      Then, I discovered that the NCAA threatened BYU because of some football policy involving black people (who were then considered 'fallen' by the Mormon church because of Cain and Abel).  The NCAA threatened to revoke their status, and lo, God decided that it had been long enough, and that black people were now cool.  Of course, they say it's a coincidence but...  sure helped me see that something was fishy in at least one church (and this is the church that was supposed to be created because all of the others had it all wrong).

      About 16 years later, I finally accepted that I didn't believe in God.  It took a lot of introspection, a lot of study, a lot of prayer (!) but at 22, I finally allowed myself to believe there was no God.  There was an actual physical sensation of it all clicking into place - a feeling of shock and awakening.  

      Then of course, I had to accept that there was no afterlife - comprehend that when I die, I cease to be.  That took 8 years.  And that was also pretty painful.  However, now I'm cool with that, and I just want to make sure that I don't completely waste the time that I have.

      I didn't mean for this to become a confessional - I just wanted to comment on the whole Jesus died aspect of Christianity and got carried away.  Pretty cathartic actually.

      "Passing the gun from father to feckless son; We're climbing a landslide where only the good die young." Leaders of the Free World - Elbow

      by Dave Brown on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 05:36:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  a few points (none)
    It makes no sense to talk about an immortal being dying, because by definition immortal beings cannot die. It's like talking about a square circle, or an even number that is not divisible by two; it's nonsensical words strung together in a transparently vacuous parody of meaning.

    immortal has three listed meanings in the dictionary i just checked.

    1 : exempt from death <the immortal gods>
    2 : exempt from oblivion : IMPERISHABLE <immortal fame>

    If immortal is meant in the 2nd, but not the first sense, then an immortal being can die.

    Just as we talk about an immortal soul existing after death.

    Speaking of which, what generally makes dying such a big sacrifice in the first place is that you stay dead, forever. Another thing that makes torture and execution such an unpleasant experience is that you're utterly helpless throughout the ordeal.

    How about we have your scourged and crucified (but keep you from dying). Then you can let us know if it was a sacrifice or not :)

    To endure torture that you are capable of avoiding sounds tougher than to endure torture that is unavoidable.

    It makes no sense that God would disguise himself as a human, fake his death, and expect us to drop to our knees in abject awe at his 'sacrifice', because it pales in comparison to the ones we mere mortals face.

    Christians don't claim that God faked his death. They claim that he actually died. So i guess i agree that it makes no sense for God to fake his death.

    Likewise we don't believe in a disguise. Jesus became man. Perhaps you need to study a bit more that which you reject.

    it pales in comparison to the ones we mere mortals face.

    Jesus was also mortal. He died.

    Especially since by all accounts they could have remedied it with the snap of their supernatural fingers, or just not let the problem happen in the first place.

    I guess he could...but at what cost? You give beings free will, allowing them to be capable of love. They must also be capable of rejecting God. Creating an infinite number of automatons mouthing their love of God is not love.

    Either Jesus died and stayed that way in which case he did not rise and Christianity is built on an erroneous premise, or he did rise in which case he did not die and there was no sacrifice, and Christianity is built on an erroneous premise. It really is that simple.

    Missed one option. Oddly its the one that all Christians proclaim. Jesus died and rose from the dead.

    It makes no sense that a perfect being would need to create the universe or mankind, because by definition a perfect beings needs or wants for nothing.

    & Christians don't claim this. They claim he choose to do so, not that he needed to.

    •  LOL (4.00)
      How about we have your scourged and crucified (but keep you from dying). Then you can let us know if it was a sacrifice or not :)

      If after a few days of the torture and three days of unconsciousness, I get a solid no fault guaruntee of coming back to life to be King of the Universe you have a deal. In fact, I'll do it for an even million dollars. When can you set it up? I want to get started right away, do I call you, or were you just flinging another meaningless, thoughtless, bluff thinking I wouldn't call you on it?

      Christians don't claim that God faked his death. They claim that he actually died. So i guess i agree that it makes no sense for God to fake his death.

      He didn't die though, that's the whole point, that's the fatal flaw. And again, big woop, I'll do the exact same thing for a million bucks if I get to come back and I don't even have to be Ruler of the Cosmos, you could probably haggle me down to a 100K. LOL ...Some sacrifice!

      Jesus was also mortal. He died.

      Then he didn't rise, because if he rose he's not dead. That means your entire faith is BS. Now, did he rise or not? Yes or no? Because if he did then he didn't die, and if he didn't then you're religion is built on a demonstrable impossibility.

      Read UTI, your free thought forum

      by DarkSyde on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:14:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not to mention (none)
        He didn't even suffer the same degree of pain that other crucifixion victims suffered.  Sure he suffered, but he died unusually quickly for a crucifixion.  If the deal was that he had to suffer for all of us, why cut it short?
        •  I'd think it was (none)
          same degree, but a lesser duration. He did miss out on the leg breaking, but got the scourging beating and crown of thorns as added bonuses.
          •  I'll (none)
            give you an even better deal. I'll undergo twice the abuse and hang on the cross twice as long as Jesus, and I'll do it for way, way, less. A million bucks, no immortality required afterward and I don't have to be king of the planet.

            And that's kind of the point Dennis. That's not a sacrifice, it's the opportunity of a lifetime, it's a promotion. To present an immortal being crucified and getting all teary-eyed over it is a gross insult to the billions of human beings who underwent the same level of pain or worse, and who had no knowledge of future events in which they would get to come back as Master of Evrything and Immortal. You seriously expect me to whimper in admiration at this stunt as if it were the Grandest Gesture of Compassion of all time? He chose to be sacrificed when he could have fixed it with a memo or a finger snap and he got to come back and he KNEW he was coming back. Some sacrifice.

            Read UTI, your free thought forum

            by DarkSyde on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 11:29:34 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  He chose to be sacrificed (none)
              That's kind of the point DS. Jesus didn't have to suffer on the cross but he went to it willingly. Not to become "king of the planet," if you accept that Jesus was 'God as Man' then he already had that and more going for him. It was a gesture of solidarity. Humanity, whom god created and loves, suffers, so God to demonstrate his love for humanity took human form and suffered right beside them. That's pretty much the whole point of christianity right there.

              In a sense you're right it was something of a stunt. Like all stunts it was, at the end, not so much about the performer as the audience. Through the life/death/ressurection of Jesus (if you believe in it) God was making a point to humanity. The exact nature of what that point was has been debated for over 2000 years but the most commonly accepted explanation was that God was in essence saying 'I'm with you, I'm a part of you and I love you' to all mankind.

              As to why God doesn't just "snap his fingers" and make the world a better place to live to show humanity his love. Well part of love is respect and God out of love and respect gave humanity free will. I believe God loves us and does not want us to suffer, but he allows us to because most human suffering, like that of Jesus on the cross, is a result of human choices.

              God gave us the power and responsibility to make the world a better place if that's what we want the world to be. Atleast that's what I believe and why I particularly enjoyed your bit about the glory of human potential and how we won't fulfill it if we keep waiting for God to do things for us. I completely agree with you on that point.

              Where we disagree is on the role God and faith can play in that process. I believe God guides that process as I believe he guided our evolution from its begining. (yes I believe in evolution. ID is pseudo-scientific crap) I can't prove that but I can't disprove it either so I assue Gods influence in much the same way an atheist assumes God's absence. I take it on faith.

              But regardless, bravo on this post. I may not agree with you but as an American I believe in pluralism; which means we don't have to agree on everything. These kinds of conversations are important but all to often people shy away from them today because public religious discourse has been poisoned by the fanatical vitriol of the religious right. I commend you for having the courage to address these issues in this post.
              •  That would be a vast improvement (none)
                I believe God loves us and does not want us to suffer, but he allows us to because most human suffering, like that of Jesus on the cross, is a result of human choices.

                Hey, even that would be a vast improvement over the current state of affairs, if there was no suffering except that caused by human choices.
      •  back at ya (none)
        If after a few days of the torture and three days of unconsciousness, I get a solid no fault guaruntee of coming back to life to be King of the Universe you have a deal. In fact, I'll do it for an even million dollars. When can you set it up? I want to get started right away, do I call you, or were you just flinging another meaningless, thoughtless, bluff thinking I wouldn't call you on it?

        You'll note that Jesus did not do it to become King of the Universe (he already had the job). Nor did he do it wealth. You oddly parrot the temptations that Satan offered Jesus and that he rejected. For the million bucks, you need to die. I'll leave the resurrection part up to you :)

        I find it quite amusing the difference in reasons that you and Jesus would undergo a crucifixion. You'd do it for yourself; he did it for everyone else but himself.

        He didn't die though, that's the whole point, that's the fatal flaw. And again, big woop, I'll do the exact same thing for a million bucks if I get to come back and I don't even have to be Ruler of the Cosmos, you could probably haggle me down to a 100K. LOL ...Some sacrifice!

        Of course he died. The Romans were pros at crucifixion. So there's no flaw. We have eyewitness testimony.

        "So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him; but when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.   But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.   He who saw it has borne witness--his testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth--that you also may believe."

        Then he didn't rise, because if he rose he's not dead. That means your entire faith is BS. Now, did he rise or not? Yes or no? Because if he did then he didn't die, and if he didn't then you're religion is built on a demonstrable impossibility.

        Of course he rose. You can't rise from the dead without BEING dead first. Rather than being impossibility, it is in fact an absolutely necessary condition for rising.

        If he didn't die, then he could not rise from the dead. That's the impossibility.

        I think it would help if you explained why you think it is impossible. It's possible that you don't understand what death is in a Christian worldview.

        •  "we have eyewitness testimony" (none)
          Well ... okey-dokey-then.  Be seein ya.  Have a good one.

          In God we trust. All others must pay cash.

          by yet another liberal on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:21:36 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  a powerful argument there (none)
            so many facts and cogent ideas mustered there.
            •  Argue? (none)
              How do you argue with "Of course he rose."?

              Well, you don't.  You just say, "Well ... okey-dokey then.  Be seein ya.  Have a good one."

              In God we trust. All others must pay cash.

              by yet another liberal on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 10:38:19 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Dennis (none)
              ley me show you how easy this eyewtiness testimony gig is to shoot down using the same standard of evidence you're presenting: I happen to know Jesus didn't rise from the dead. You see, a friend of mine was there at the time, an eyewitness, and she told it didn't happen. Here's the proof:
              I'm DarkSyde's Time Traveling friend and I witnessed the crucification, and he didn't rise afterward, some graverobber broke in thinking there would be lots of goodies and took his body to cover their crime, hoping people would ignore that the stuff disappeared because they'd be too distracted by the miracle.

              Signed,
              Time Travelor Babe

              There you go, eyewitness testimony written down.

              Read UTI, your free thought forum

              by DarkSyde on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 11:22:26 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  based on this (none)
                do you reject all evidence from antiquity? After all there are no living eye witnesses to Julius Caesar either.

                What ancient evidence is credible? and on what basis is its credibility established?

                We of course have more than just John's gospel in isolation. We have 4 separate accounts that corroborate each other. Historians date the writing of the accounts to within about 50 years of Jesus' death.

                We have yet other non-biblical documents that testify to the existence of John in the first century AD.

                We have the existence of Christianity itself which testifies that something happened way back when.

                And of course historians agree that Jesus lived and was executed by the Romans. Historians have yet to embrace your time traveling friends accout. So the weight of the evidence as evaluated by experts falls rather decisively on my side.

                •  John (none)
                  Does not corroborate the Gnostic gospels.  Sorry man, that's false.

                  In God we trust. All others must pay cash.

                  by yet another liberal on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:18:06 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  oops (none)
                  I mean John does not corroborate the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and others were found e.g. Thomas).

                  In God we trust. All others must pay cash.

                  by yet another liberal on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:23:13 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Dennis (none)
                  if you come into my home and demand Laws forcing the use of Togas and wanting me to fight in Gladiatorial contests to the death based on your belief that Julius Caeser existed and that's what he'd want, my standard of evidence and requests for the connection there would increase dramatically.

                  Lets back off for a second because you're obviously not able to think objectively when the core of your supernatural belief systenm is under fire and that's understandable. Lets try another tact here: Suppose I told you that the other month Bill Gates decided to atone for all poverty n the world. Bill graciously lived on the streets as a bum for a week and even ate out of a trashcan, he did it so that anyone who believes in Him won't have to experience poverty ever again, and he promises that after you die you will get a chunk of MSFT stock that will make you a millionaire. And I know all this is true becuase I read it in the National Enquier. What a sacrifice Bill made! Doesn't it make you weep with joy that Bill has so debased himself on behalf of the poverty stricken of the earth?

                  Your resposne to that might be something like "WTF does that have to do with poverty, how the hell is that supposed to fix it? And what's the big sacrifice if he only did it for a week knowing full well anytime he chose he was going back to the Mansion in a limo?"

                  It's not a perfect analogy by any means, for example Bill didn't cause the poverty in the first place. But do you understand why I might question the value and usefulness and validity of Bill's 'sacrifice'?

                  Read UTI, your free thought forum

                  by DarkSyde on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:35:04 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Syde (none)
                    if you come into my home and demand Laws forcing the use of Togas and wanting me to fight in Gladiatorial contests to the death based on your belief that Julius Caeser existed and that's what he'd want, my standard of evidence and requests for the connection there would increase dramatically.

                    I'm sure that has something to do with what I wrote.  Is this a variant of the extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence?

                    Lets back off for a second because you're obviously not able to think objectively when the core of your supernatural belief system is under fire and that's understandable.

                    Thanks, I needed that laugh.

                    Lets try another tact here: Suppose I told you that the other month Bill Gates decided to atone for all poverty n the world. Bill graciously lived on the streets as a bum for a week and even ate out of a trashcan, he did it so that anyone who believes in Him won't have to experience poverty ever again, and he promises that after you die you will get a chunk of MSFT stock that will make you a millionaire. And I know all this is true becuase I read it in the National Enquier. What a sacrifice Bill made! Doesn't it make you weep with joy that Bill has so debased himself on behalf of the poverty stricken of the earth?

                    no.

                    Your response to that might be something like "WTF does that have to do with poverty, how the hell is that supposed to fix it? And what's the big sacrifice if he only did it for a week knowing full well anytime he chose he was going back to the Mansion in a limo?"

                    I was thinking that the MSFT stock won't be much use in heaven. Heaven runs on Apples ever since the garden of Eden.

                    It's not a perfect analogy by any means, for example Bill didn't cause the poverty in the first place. But do you understand why I might question the value and usefulness and validity of Bill's 'sacrifice'?

                    Yes, you don't comprehend Christianity so you conclude that it does not make `sense' as you kept saying. Of course Christianity has made sense to millions of people, geniuses among them.  Since it appears that you don't even grasp basic Christian doctrine (Jesus in disguise, immortality, a faked death and even the concept of death), your criticisms of Christianity have yet to impress me.
                    I asked a question but didn't get a response yet, so I'll repeat...

                    Then he didn't rise, because if he rose he's not dead. That means your entire faith is BS. Now, did he rise or not? Yes or no? Because if he did then he didn't die, and if he didn't then you're religion is built on a demonstrable impossibility.

                    Of course he rose. You can't rise from the dead without BEING dead first. Rather than being impossibility, it is in fact an absolutely necessary condition for rising.

                    If he didn't die, then he could not rise from the dead. That's the impossibility.

                    I think it would help if you explained why you think it is impossible. It's possible that you don't understand what death is in a Christian worldview.

                •  Sigh. (none)
                  The textual evidence is that the three synoptic gospels were all written based on the same original pieces of writing -- one set of sayings and either one or two sets of stories --  and that John was written with access to all of the above, and more.

                  So they're not independent sources.  We have only one, or maybe two, sets of stories.  The sayings are mostly recycled from previous sets of sayings from other religions.  Some of the stories show definite signs of recycling as well, particularly the obligatory miracles.  Some of them are more unusual and original, and thus much more likely to be actual real accounts.

                  They were preserved entirely by the Christian Churches.  Not very independent.

                  They first appeared substantially after Jesus's alleged life -- over a hundred years after.  So they're not very firsthand.

                  Now, based on the actual independent evidence, there probably was a wandering Jewish preacher named Jesus, and he probably did start a small religion.

                  That religion was hijacked and twisted to completely different ends by "St. Paul", for whom there is much historical evidence.  That seems quite clear.

        •  "Eyewitness" (none)
          Did they leave an independent verifiable first hand account?

          Come on, admit it it. You believe. That's why it's called faith. You don't need proof.

          Under those circumstances, you can hold what you believe to be logical and true. In fact, you HAVE to, because if you doubted it, you wouldn't believe.

          A President in his own league. The Bush League!

          by Tuba Les on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 09:53:41 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  yes (none)
            It's called the Gospel of John. Or Matthew or Luke or Mark, but they are secondhand accounts. They only spoke to witnesses.

            Likewise Josephus references Jesus in the War of the Jews i believe.

            Are you suggesting that Jesus was not crucified under Pontias Pilate? What evidence (independent first hand accounts please) do you have?

            Yes i have faith...wish I had more. But my faith is informed by my reason based on the available data. The evidence of Jesus' death is better attested than many incidents of antiquity that are commonly accepted.

            One can believe and have doubts too.

            •  I guess you missed (none)
              I guess you missed the part about it being "independent verifiable first hand" account.

              It's ok if you want to believe, just don't ask me to prove it one way or the other. DarkSyde addressed this a lot better than I can.

              Nothing I say here will change your mind. Nor do I wish to.

              A President in his own league. The Bush League!

              by Tuba Les on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 11:26:10 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  please define (none)
                "independent verifiable first hand"
                •  independent verifiable first hand (none)
                  That would be Independent. Coming from a source that had nothing to do with religion. In today's world it would be a news report, perhaps with pictures, or video footage. Or it could be a soldier that used a digital camera. Given the timeframe, an original letter from the actual period describing the events of the day. But not from one of his followers.

                  Verifiable would include any of a number of scientific tests that would show the account was original. If you watch enough CSI you will get the idea of the types of proof that can be applied.

                  First hand would mean not second hand or third hand. A letter from Pontius to his wife. "I washed my hands today." A receipt from a cross maker, a rope maker's ad from 40 AD saying "The best ropemaker around, our rope used to tie Jesus to the Cross". If true, would be great for his business.

                  There are no original copies of the Gospels known to exist. They are copies of copies of copies, and are from 80 to 150 years, after the event.

                  You can't prove it happened. I can't prove it didn't. Nor do I want to try.

                  A President in his own league. The Bush League!

                  by Tuba Les on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 01:09:36 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  a tough standard (none)
                    Not likely to be one of those letters given the literacy rate and the number of non-follower witnesses and the chance of survival of such a letter.

                    Of course either the event occurred or it did not. Obviously.

                    If that standard were applied, most of ancient history is unproven.

                    We also have the useful circumstantial evidence of the Existence of Christianity.

                    It is not really up to me top prove, i lack the CSI-ey experience. I'll take the word of historians that it did occur.

    •  example of why atheists find believers irrational (none)
      Of course the believers don't think themselves irrational, regardless of the objective (twinge of epistemological relativism ... what if modus ponens is invalid ... passes) evidence.
  •  What makes no sense to me (4.00)
    Is why God should want us believe in him.

    The flattery of the faithful is important to this omnipotent being?

    On the other hand, it's quite understandable why the minister would want us to believe in God, why he wants us to fear the wrath of the all-powerful that comes with disbelief.

    This is what tipped me over to atheism when I was about 7.  I can remember sitting in the pew, listening the praise and flattery of God that makes up 90% of the content of the Lutheran ceremony, and thinking, "Does God really even want to be flattered like this?"

    Merry Fitzmas. Treason is the Reason for the Season

    by power model on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:05:59 PM PST

    •  Oooh, you are so big... (4.00)
      Heh - good point. Reminds me of the Monty Python sketch (from Meaning of Life):
      CHAPLAIN:  Let us praise God.  O Lord,...
      CONGREGATION:  O Lord,...
      CHAPLAIN:  ...ooh, You are so big,...
      CONGREGATION:  ...ooh, You are so big,...
      CHAPLAIN:  ...so absolutely huge.
      CONGREGATION:  ...so absolutely huge.
      CHAPLAIN:  Gosh, we're all really impressed down here, I can tell You.
      CONGREGATION:  Gosh, we're all really impressed down here, I can tell You.
      CHAPLAIN:  Forgive us, O Lord, for this, our dreadful toadying, and...
      CONGREGATION:  And barefaced flattery.
      CHAPLAIN:  But You are so strong and, well, just so super.
      CONGREGATION:  Fantastic.
      HUMPHREY:  Amen.
      CONGREGATION:  Amen.
    •  Reminds me of a Modest Mouse song (none)
      "Bukowski" by Modest Mouse

      If God controls the land and disease,
      keeps a watchful eye on me,
      If he's really so damn mighty,
      my problem is I can't see,
      well who would wanna be?
      Who would wanna be such a control freak?

      I personally wouldn't want to go to an afterlife where the "creator" wanted people to spend their entire lives as an homage to him.  Sounds like pretty jerky behaviour to me.

      "Passing the gun from father to feckless son; We're climbing a landslide where only the good die young." Leaders of the Free World - Elbow

      by Dave Brown on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 05:45:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Relationship? (none)
      I don't need my kids to flatter me, but it's still cool when they interact or give hugs or when my son says, "You're the best, Mom."
  •  I envy atheists.. (4.00)
    I envy atheists for the same reason I envy those that believe there is a god and a heaven. You are all so sure of yourselves--confident of your own reality.  You shut the door on any argument.  Finality...so sure you are right.
    Wow!
    I can't prove it either way for I just don't know.  Where is MY damn burning bush?
    Dahlai Lama said he is willing to accept there is no god, but he said how does one prove it either way?
    I am hopeful. I don't think it is childish to HOPE there is something out there and maybe after I die I really won't die.  I don't want to close my mind just yet.
     I suppose I am an "optimistic" rather than an atheist, agnostic or a believer.
    •  I don't completely see it that way (4.00)
      This is a common misconception I hear among many people, including atheists themselves.

      To be an atheist does not mean that "I know there is no God".  Rather, it means, "I see no evidence at the moment to support a belief in God, so I choose not to believe in God"

      So personally, as an atheist, I won't say I'm 100% sure that there is no God.
      I simply choose not to take the step of believing in one when I see no convinving evidence in favor of one.  Still, I do not discount the possibility that there may inded may be a God out there and perhaps there is a part of me that hopes there is one. But until I see evidence for it, I do not say that I believe in God.

      This gets confusing sometimes because we can say with relative certainty that the God depicted in most religious texts such as the Bible or Koran could not possibly exist without breaking quite a few rules of logic.  And so when some atheists talk about how they are certain that God doesn't exist, they are most likely talking about the literal God of the Bible.

      Hopefully, that cleared some things up.

    •  Are you sure you weren't born yesterday (none)
      and planted with false memories?  Hey, it's conceivable, right?

      "You shut the door on any argument."

      What do we call people who say things that are clearly false?

      •  If there is a God (none)
        no human mind has ever properly conceived God and never will.  That's why you can believe what you want, but the major organized religions with their defined Gods or Allahs is false either way.
      •  Aha! (none)
        What do we call people who say things that are clearly false?

        That would be, "Liar, liar, pants on fire."  

        There's your burning Bush!


        "Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist." - Kenneth Boulding

        by randym77 on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 02:40:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I've never considered myself an atheist.... (4.00)
    ... but these days I identify myself as a Unitarian.  (previously, I was a recovering Catholic.)  that said, there's many things about organized religion that I can't comprehend, such as "holy" wars (e.g., the Crusades -- my God is better than your God, so it's my duty to convert you or kill you); literal interpretations of the Bible (how likely is it that a very old document, which has been translated many, many times for various kings and other leaders, hasn't been revised according to said leaders' ideology?); or why ANY spiritual or karmic force hasn't yet usurped the Bush regime from power simply by Dubya's reckless disregard of the 10 commandments.  which brings me to this:

    "won't you tell me, Mr. Jesus,
      won't you tell me if you can;
    when you see this world we live in,
      do you still believe in man?"

    sure, quoting 30-year-old Black Sabbath lyrics probably isn't considered valuable in a theological discussion, but it raises an interesting question... if it is in our nature to destroy ourselves [a Terminator quote!], then why bother at all?  ["the thrill of it all"?  egad, another Black Sabbath reference....]

    "and they won't have to burn the books / when no one reads them anyway." -- Tragedy, "The Point of No Return"

    by humbucker on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:09:24 PM PST

  •  I'm sure this discussion has some point... (4.00)
      But it is a non-falsifiable one.  As a non-believer raised by a mother who had a grudge against religion (she perceived it killer her sister) and a father who did not want his kids to grow up in his church (he was afraid it would get an irrational emotional hold on us), I have never been interested in religion.  Except when I had to be reverent so I could get my Eagle Badge in Boy Scouts.  Yet I am not an atheist--the world is so full of mystery for it to not have hidden depths, patterns or consiousnesses.  There might be room for "God" to fit in all the empty spaces.  What I am very much a disbeliever in is organized religion.  No religion I've ever been exposed to has ever seemed to me to have the goal of expanding consciousness (though I will admit there are a few trippy and inspirational individuals).  They all seem to be saying they have the WORD, and you had best believe it.  I personally want to get beyond words.
  •  my other take is (none)
    that we should spend more time trying to figure out the intersection of our paradigms of belief than bickering pointlessly over whose is better.

    And another tangential irrelevant side point: there is also no guarantee that if an infinite number of us had infinite time and possessed infinite capabilities of reasoning that we could ever gain a complete understanding of a given topic.

  •  Define "God" (none)
    God
    1. A being conceived as the perfect, omnipotent, omniscient originator and ruler of the universe, the principal object of faith and worship in monotheistic religions.

    2. The force, effect, or a manifestation or aspect of this being.

    3. A being of supernatural powers or attributes, believed in and worshiped by a people, especially a male deity thought to control some part of nature or reality.

    4. An image of a supernatural being; an idol.

    5. One that is worshiped, idealized, or followed: Money was their god.

    The most common definitions are 1,2, and 3.  Using #1 Zeus was not a god, and neither was Jesus.  The ancient Greek pantheon therefore had no gods, and was an athiest religion.

    Using definition #3 the angels are all gods.  So is Satan.  And Santa.  I don't know of any truly monotheistic religions.

    Christians were never monothiests, they just redefined the word "god," but only used this definition when talking about themselves.  When discussing other religions they use definition #3.

    If God is perfect, than why did He create such a screwed up world?

  •  My brother is an atheist (4.00)
    and a rather wonderful one at that... He has the finest moral sensibility of anyone I've ever known, and he and his wife are raising my beautiful niece and nephew with an amazing sense of justice and love. They are, in many ways, more "Christian" than most of my fellow "Christians".

    He and I have had long conversations about my faith -- he's genuinely curious about how the two of us grew up in the same household with the same parents and have developed largely the same sense of ethics, yet my ethical sensibility depends on a belief which I will readily admit is utterly irrational, while his does not.

    Perhaps it's because I have a darker view of human nature than he does; perhaps it's because in light of what I've been through I feel I need something outside of myself to sustain me; perhaps it's because I'm in touch with some ultimately unknowable mystery of the universe that he's not. I don't know. I don't pretend to. All I can tell him (and, in this context, you) is this:

    Faith lies outside of logic and rationality. Faith is, by its very nature, utterly illogical and utterly irrational. Completely, totally, utterly irrational. I often find myself  strongly frustrated with my fellow "believers", since their "faith" seems to rest upon the need for surety, the need for proof. But if you can prove it, where's the need for faith?

    My own faith is deep and abiding. My faith does not depend on making you believe. Your belief or lack thereof is utterly irrelevant to my own. I respect your worldview and have an appreciation of the methodical way in which it was arrived at.  I respect your rationality, and I would hope others would do the same. I appreciate your tolerance of my compartmentalized irrationality, and would hope others would do the same.

    Maybe it's brain chemistry; maybe some of us are somehow wired by evolution to believe in a higher power, simply to hold us to some sense of morality; I don't know and don't claim to. All I know is that trying to argue away my faith is like trying to argue away the tattoo that's on my left shoulder blade: it's part of me, it's something I decided needed to be a part of me, and it'll be there until I decide myself to undergo the procedure necessary to remove it. Or until I die, in which case nature will take care of it quite nicely.

    I do not claim by any stretch of the imagination whatsoever to speak for all people of faith, or even most or even some; I only speak for myself.

    My sense of justice is informed by my faith; your sense of justice is informed by your rationality. Either way, there's a shitload of injustice to be overcome, and more than enough work for everyone to do.

    •  Excellent (none)
      "Either way, there's a shitload of injustice to be overcome, and more than enough work for everyone to do."

      Let's keep our eye on the ball, fellas!  We should be more concerned with stamping out what is wrong than arguing why its wrong.

    •  Another (2.50)
      excellent summary of faith.  If people of faith were honest with themselves, there would be no conflict and DarkSyde would never have written his diary.  But to come from that same raw, emotional sense of connection and end up spewing "Burn in Hell, atheist scum" as some regrettably do, turns us all into animals.  We deserve better.

      And I for one have no problem with the source of anyone's morality, because morality is an intensely personal facet of our personality and life experience, not a universal constant to be imposed by force on people.  

      Mark Twain -Let me make the superstitions of a nation and I care not who makes its laws or its songs either.

      by Kingsmeg on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:23:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  And (none)
        where does your morality spring from, you that pitch so eloquently for atheism and yet arrogantly down rate reasonable comments? Hypocrite. It is people like you that give atheism a bad color.
        •  My personal morality (4.00)
          comes from a rational thought process; I have no belief in an afterlife to justify/reward/punish anybody, I have no reason to think that my personal life is somehow more important that the survival of the human race, and I hold the belief that if things are to get better then we have to work to make them better instead of waiting for a God to fix everything for us.

          As to what restrains me from being a psychopathic murderer/rapist, I have no inherent tendency to be a psychopath, sociopath or any other thing ending in 'path, so I need no restraint on that front, nor do I need an extraordinary incentive to be a constructive member of society.  If you do have such a tendency and therefore need a restraint, then I am happy you have found one in your religion.

          If you analyze the moral positions at work here, an atheist will give his life for the betterment of humankind, will work in Doctors without Borders or even as a human shield in the hopes that the world may be a better place some day, with no hope whatsoever of a personal reward, and a fundie Christian will shun his own children to earn a chance at an ultimately selfish personal reward in Heaven.  Which morality do you prefer?

          Ps: My fundie evangelical Christian family is shunning me because I do not share their faith, and they so so in the hopes of earning a reward from God.

          Mark Twain -Let me make the superstitions of a nation and I care not who makes its laws or its songs either.

          by Kingsmeg on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:04:09 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I went back and checked (none)
          what comment of yours that I might have downrated, since I so rarely troll someone.  I believe it was this:
          the self-delusional stories atheists tell themselves

          If you ask me what I believe, I will be more than happy to discuss it with you.  But if make the above statement without asking, and BTW make a comparison that I'm sure most atheists here will disagree with, then I think your comment was made in spite and not in furtherance of discussion and understanding. I am aware that the same criticism could be made of DarkSyde's diary, but I had no hand in writing that and I even indicated my reluctance to embrace his 'smell test' line of reasoning.

          In the spirit of open discussion, would you care to give us your summary of Nietzsche's philosophy and tell us why you think it's so similar to (d/th)eists?  I find that theists and atheists are generally incapable of agreeing on the meaning of Nietzsche's work; in my experience theists simply cannot resist the urge to build him into a straw man.  Comparisons to, say, Tolstoy, may animate a philosophy of religion debate, but that debate will be hollow for the atheist in the room.

          Mark Twain -Let me make the superstitions of a nation and I care not who makes its laws or its songs either.

          by Kingsmeg on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:29:33 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You must learn (none)
            to read a comment fully before pulling the trigger. The self-delusional reference was to Nietzsche's The Will to Power. You may want to read before spewing.
            •  Read before spewing? (none)
              A) I have read it;
              B) I've never said whether I agree with Nietzsche's philosophy, but in any case Nietzsche never writes at face value;
              C) Only a dolt of the Hitler or Neocon type would ever give Will to Power a literal reading;
              D) I might just read Nietzsche for the entertainment value.  It beats Napoleon Dynamite and the like any day of the week, and I can read a person's work and thoughts without agreeing or reacting;
              E) Contrary to popular belief, no one does our thinking for us (DarkSyde's diary expresses DarkSyde's opinion and no one elses unless they say so); the only way to know what I think of a subject is to ask me or read my posts.  By the same logic, any sort of appeal to "Einstein believed such and such" will not work on an atheist.

              Mark Twain -Let me make the superstitions of a nation and I care not who makes its laws or its songs either.

              by Kingsmeg on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 01:16:01 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  Pandora's Box (4.00)
      It seems to me that DarkSyde has opened Pandora's Box.  We went through this when the Pope died, as I recall. It became quite a flame war.

      My only concern with the diaries is that DarkSyde also attacks people who do believe in God.  In his mind, they are lazy, stupid and crazy (and that is only my summary; if I wrote down all of the insulting language, I'd be too depressed to continue).

      And please spare me the alleged "persecution" of atheists. No one asks you on an employment application whether you believe in Jesus; if they DO, you can sue their ass. And sorry, it really doesn't compare with the discrimination of women or African Americans. You can discriminate against me because you can see I'm a woman. I only know if you're an atheist if you tell me.  

      I am not religious.  I was raised Roman Catholic, but I abandoned that in college and called myself a Pantheist (youth is wasted on the young- I'm not totally sure that I even knew what a Pantheist believes).  It wasn't until I went to AA that I  "discovered" my higher power, which I chose to call God.  He is not the God they told me about in school. He was the God that took the burdens off my back.  I never realized how spiritually impoverished I was until then.  I don't have to seek him in a church.  I don't have to be on my knees to talk to him.  And I can say anything I want to him - in the beginning, I would go outside on a sleepless night and curse him for making my life so difficult.  And I found out two things - I'm not special, God gives everyone a burden.  And that sometimes when I pray to him, asking for something, the answer from him is "No".

      And I also discovered I am not alone, I don't have to suffer in silence.  And if you are wondering about the "miracles", I see them daily.  I see addicts and alcoholics who have been sober for years; I want to know how they did it. And, a "higher power" can be anything.  MSOC once said that her high power's name is Bill.  A good friend once told me that his "higher power" was the Judge who promised he would go to state prison if he didn't change his ways.

      No, my belief is not rational (Thank God).  It was and is a leap of faith.

      We do not rent rooms to Republicans.

      by Mary Julia on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:51:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  your ethical sensibility does not depend on belief (none)
      If you stop believing, you won't become unethical.
    •  Could be good.... (none)
      Cool.  As long as your faith doesn't lead you to believe things contrary to all evidence.... that's what can be dangerous.
      •  Oh, I agree... (none)
        ...and that's why it's important that, whatever cosmology we have, we are able to contextualize properly.

        I think faith only leads us in the direction you describe when it's used as an ultimate answer, rather than a never-ending question. Unfortunately, people want ultimate answers, and saying "God did it all" is a whoel lot quicker and easier than going to school for years and studying all that pesky biology and physics and stuff...

        But science is a constant questioning of the world around us. Faith at its best can and should be a constant questioning of the world within us. Seperate worlds, parallel tracks.

        Bottom line, I have faith in God, but the day I literally hear Him talking to me is the day I get my shrink to seriously up my dosage.

  •  Thank you Dark Syde (4.00)
    I also am an atheist, and while I can't say your first diary reflected my experience that well, a lot of your arguments here do reflect a lot of the same reasoning I've gone through.

    It's funny though.  The IDers say there must be an intelligent designer because the alternative is just so unlikely.  And yet I use the exact same argument for not believing in a deity -- given all the (lack of) evidence, and all the different religions out there, the chance of one of them actually stumbling on the truth and the truth being something so wholly w/o material evidence just seems so bloody unlikely as to be hardly worth considering.

    When I was in college, I dated a catholic (well, more than one, but there was one in particular...).  Religion was one of our major conflicts.  We eventually came to the conclusion that your worldview really depends on the postulates you start with, and we all have some.  Descartes thought he was starting w/ a blank slate, and yet the whole god frame of mind was so deeply ingrained that he managed to "derive" god's existence pretty much second thing after cogito ergo sum.  My postulates are (roughly) that observation and the scientific method will produce approximations of truth.  His started w/ faith.  We both decided to try spending a week w/ each other's postulates and see where that got us.  Neither of us could do it.  I know I really tried, but, as I said before, it all seemed just so bloody unlikely...

    Oh, I should add that although I'm an atheist, I do believe in god.  A personal god.  And a powerful god.  I can see evidence for him in the lives of the people who believe in him.  Really.  I just happen to believe that this god is not the creator, but the creation of men.  Men have created this god in their own image and imbued him w/ all the qualities they want him to have.  If you have faith in him and let him into your heart, he will be there and be a force in your life, etc. etc. and he will be real.  It's just the fables like the creation story, the resurrection and all the other supernatural stuff that is fantasy.  Allegorical.  Inspiring, even.  But not literally true.  It's pretty amazing that we can create a god like that.  I just don't understand why people need him to be a creator also -- I mean how does that affect the personal relationship at all?  What does creating the universe have to do w/ moral values, etc. etc.?

    •  IDers are actually intellectually dishonest (none)
      Yeah, the problem with the IDers is that the alternative actually is pretty likely!  Behe even figured the odds of abiogenesis at one point but failed to notice that at those odds it would have been virtually guaranteed to happen....
    •  Man-created God. (none)
      "I should add that although I'm an atheist, I do believe in god.  A personal god.  And a powerful god.  I can see evidence for him in the lives of the people who believe in him.  Really.  I just happen to believe that this god is not the creator, but the creation of men.  Men have created this god in their own image and imbued him w/ all the qualities they want him to have.  If you have faith in him and let him into your heart, he will be there and be a force in your life, etc. etc. and he will be real.  It's just the fables like the creation story, the resurrection and all the other supernatural stuff that is fantasy.  Allegorical.  Inspiring, even.  But not literally true.  It's pretty amazing that we can create a god like that."

      You know, I really really like this idea.  That's a God I can get behind.  :-)

  •  Well, your first diary (4.00)
    made me feel euphoric. This diary made me feel quite sad and lonely. It is really spectacularly written, however, I could never say it as well.

    My decision to reject traditional religion went like this: I was in high school, driving home, and was getting over a girl. I was never religious, but I had bought a bible, because "everyone else is doing it" and I thought I should consider it to be social. I decided that at that moment I should figure this puzzle out, and put the confusion behind me. I had a pretty basic knowledge of evolution. I also was aware of the Christian concept of God creating man "in his image."  I thought, hmmm, so God and man have the same image. Well, there are two possibilities, either God created man in God's image or man created God in man's image. Which is more likely? I knew from evolution that hands, elbows, and arms are useful to men, as they are required for obtaining food. Feet, knees, and legs provide us with mobility. Eyes, ears, and noses are useful for sensing our environment. In short, all of our features provide us with an evolutionary benefit. So it is entirely logical that man would create God in man's image. But why would God have hands, feet, elbows, a nose, eyes, etc.? All of these things are very useful to men, but would be quite useless for a God. It was entirely illogical to me that a God would need reproductive organs, a respiratory system, hands to obtain food, or feet for transportation. So I decided that logically, man must have created God, and not the other way around.

    At that point, I felt a burden was lifted from my shoulders. As the days passed, I realized how nonsensical the other tenets of this religion were. This solidified my decision. Now, one might tell me that "this statement that man was created in God's image is only figurative" or such. But from my viewpoint, there is no point in arguing with a doctrine that is infinitely vague. The world makes perfect sense to me with my knowledge of science and evolution. It's not perfect, or entirely pleasant, but I've really grown to love it. So I'm an atheist.

    You cannot depend upon American institutions to function without pressure. ---Martin Luther King Jr.

    by Opakapaka on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:15:53 PM PST

  •  Great stuff, but too focused on Western Paradigms (none)
    I'm a Buddhist and an atheist (arguably the only way to really be a Buddhist ...).  Buddhism is a way of living, not a way of believing.
    •  Good point (1.16)
      I'm an Unitarian Universalist. Mostly a mix of Deism and Buddhism with Taoism for flavor would give an outline of my believes. Yet, atheists insist that I am a Christian fundamentalist just because I believe in Deity....and their arguements only work if their enemy (it's true) is a Christian fundamentalist. However, since Kos is a pro-Democrat site, what would recent Democratic converts think of Democrats seeing such hate coming from people?

      A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

      by Tux on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:04:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Huh? (none)
        Straw man. I suspect no (or at least almost no) atheist would consider you a Christian fundamentalist if you are a Unitarian. Your comment is bull.
      •  you're not (none)
        a Christian fundamentalist, but you certainly have the persecution complex down.  I haven't read one person on either thread call you a fundie (although you refer to athiest fundies - care to elucidate?).  You have however, said "I'm sure that most athiests think I'm a fundamentalist, but..." in a variety of ways.  

        Most people here think that I'm some kind of super sexy Einstein now that I've written this (although they won't admit it!).

        "Passing the gun from father to feckless son; We're climbing a landslide where only the good die young." Leaders of the Free World - Elbow

        by Dave Brown on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 05:55:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  What I honestly don't understand (4.00)
    is why religious people care so much that someone doesn't believe in God. I mean, it seems like whenever I say I'm an atheist everyone acts like it's the end of the world...I'm just not sure why this is a problem for them. Even people here at DKos...it's as af saying your an atheist is an invitation for someone to argue about how you're wrong...or you should prove it...or you should change your mind...or you should just pretend you aren't just in case you're wrong....etc. etc.

    I think these two diaries by Darksyde are excellent. I think the comments prove that some religious folks just aren't willing to accept that not everyone agrees with them...and I think that the comments for the most part PROVE that the atheist perspective isn't a widely respected one...even within the "liberal" or "progressive" community. And I think that's sad.

    •  I often to wonder why my statement of (4.00)
      non-belief is sometimes taken as an attack on another's Belief.  I know I could keep it to myself, but then so could everyone and where would be the fun in that.

      Lately we have been talking about O'Lielly's war on the holidays at work and a few have made statements basically saying that as an atheist, I would rather see religion banned from America.

      On the contrary, I tell them, I will fight for your right to worship and believe as you wish as long as it doesn't interfere with anyone else's rights as much as for my right to not to believe.

      When I ask them if they are willing to say the same, many of their responses are often less than convincing.

      (Please understand that this is the more conservative of my co-workers and in no way is meant to imply that all people of faith believe or act that way)

      Midwest Center for American Values - Progressive ideas in an easy to swallow pill.

      by ETinKC on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:34:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  And I think it proves something else (none)
      I think it proves that there are liberals on here who are accepting of anyone as long as they aren't a self-proclaimed Christian.  Then the trouble starts.

      I have friends who are atheists, agnostics, Muslims, Wiccans, and Buddhists.  I have never, ever told them that they were wrong.  Whenever we discuss religious issues (and I'm never the one who brings the subject up), I never judge them for their beliefs, question their positions, or try to force them into accepting my beliefs.

      Our conversations would be similar to this:
      "My favorite color is blue because it's like the sky."
      "Really?  I tend to like red because it is so intense."
      "Cool."

      OK, that's simplistic.  But we share what we believe with each other, how we practice our different faiths (or lack thereof) without any judgementalism at all.

      So I think this diary, like Darksyde's other diary, just prove that there is a stereotype against Christians that isn't necessarily true.  Yes, there are some Christians like that.  I am disgusted by fundamentalists, too.  But they are a vocal minority.

      •  I agree that there are some here who (4.00)
        are not accepting of Christians because of bad experiences or generalizations...due to the behavior of a few. I don't think that every atheist dismisses Christians and their beliefs...I certainly don't. I think the reason that most atheists single out Christians is that the people who have disrespected their beliefs have been Christian.

        To be honest, in my entire life as an atheist there have only been two religious groups of people who have refused to respect my beliefs...Muslims and Christians. Jews don't seem to care one way or another...but Buddhists, Hindus, Pagans, etc. EVERY other religious/spiritual person I've met has had respect for my lack of belief. I have however run into both Muslims and Christians (and no, not all of them think this way, but some do, and that's a problem) who have told me that I'm going to hell and that I should convert immediately...and even if I'm not "sure", I should just go along with it anyway in case I'm wrong...and then my bases are covered.

        Utter nonsense of course.

        I agree that these folks are in the minority...but they ARE the vocal ones...and it is hard for an atheist to remember that...and some atheists don't know that because the only Christians they know are fundamentalists.

        I just wish people could be more tolerant in these threads and elsewhere....and remember to not generalize.

        •  Thanks (none)
          I appreciate your comment.  The intolerance drives me batty.  But I guess I'm intolerant of those who don't practice tolerance?  I'm intolerant of those who condemn atheists...period.  I'm intolerant of those who condemn Christians and puts us all in the fundamentalist, fantasty-based category.

          I just don't understand why we can't just accept and celebrate our differences!  It would be a boring world if we all thought the same.  

      •  and I don't think that Darksyde is (none)
        implying that all Christians are fundamentalist...
    •  why do the believers get so offended? (none)
      it's amazing to me that the believers, especially the liberal ones, get so offended.  like they are saying "I'm a liberal christian/buddist/zaroastrian and why don't you love me?"  don't you get it?  believe whatever you want, just don't push it on us.

      Pro-Choice and Proud of It!

      by powwow500 on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:55:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't push it on you (none)
        And I don't think most other liberal Christians do either.

        Darksyde's comments are in the wrong forums, imho.  They should be at places like LGF, RedState, etc. where the type of Christians that denounce and judge others, and who push their faiths down other people's throats hang out.  

        I only witness to someone who asks me to.  I only discuss my faith with those who ask me about it first.  My faith is private and personal and I don't share it freely with others unless they want to hear about it.  And, when I do, and someone presents a different POV (atheist, different religion, whatever), I NEVER tell them they're wrong.  I simply share with them what I believe.

        Don't chastise me for something that I don't do.  

        •  I'm (none)
          fine with liberal Christians. Sep of Church and State seems to me like a workable political compromise. Basically if I have to choose between two groups of people who share what I consider to be an irrational believe, one of whom is militant about it, wears their ignorance like a badge, and is working feverishly to make sure they can ram their beliefs down my throat in as many personal ways as they possibly can, and one who believes that their views should remain separate from politics or government, it's a pretty easy choice for me.

          On the Redstate/LGF advice, I once posted an essay on RS reviewing some astronomical evidence for the age of the universe. It wasn't the least bit snarky and it only challange Young Earth Creationism, not Christianity or reliigon per se. It was well recieved by several members but a few of what I suspect were fundies were so pissed off and so hostile it created a flame war which resulted in me being banned in about 24 hours flat.
          Based on that experience, I doubt anything as controversial as this post would be allowed to remain up at all.

          Read UTI, your free thought forum

          by DarkSyde on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 11:08:03 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  That is what Darksyde is doing (none)
          Sharing his (lack of) faith with people who asked him to.  

          I'm glad he posted his diaries here, and not at wingnut sites.  I don't visit wingnut sites, and I've really enjoyed these diaries.

          "Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist." - Kenneth Boulding

          by randym77 on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 03:00:19 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  when someone says (none)
      I don't believe in god, i've never responded to that statement in and of itself.

      i, personally, don't believe in god.  who knows?  i see no proof of a god.

      but....  you're kind of not doing the diarist justice.  s/he's not just saying "i don't believe in god."

      s/he's saying "i reject god and think that people who believe in god are being infantile and crazy to believe in god."

      which is different.

      more often than not, i'll respond to that kind of statement.  

      do you think MLK, Jimmy Carter, and Ghandi... do you think when these people believe in god they are being crazy and infantile??

       

      "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

      by BiminiCat on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:01:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, I'm not going to speak for Darksyde... (4.00)
        What I would say is that people who believe in God are giving up on rationality and giving into faith (which is why I object to your use of that word). Now...some people may define or judge that as crazy...I don't. There are certain things in life that make me want to walk away from rationality...belief in God isn't one of them...because I obviously don't have that...but, some people would say that my intense love for my cats (as if they were my very own children) is "crazy"...it may not be rational...but I hardly think it is "crazy" in a bad way. Similar to how I feel intense love for my boyfriend...so much love that I feel like I couldn't possibly live without him...that I may not be able to continue breathing if he were gone...some people may say that feelings like that aren't rational, or that they are "crazy".  THIS is how I interpreted Darksyde's comments.

        I don't interpret them as an insult...I don't believe that it is "crazy" (in a negative context) to believe in God....I do think that when a person has "faith" in God they have left rationality behind because there is no proof...they pray to God...to me, that looks like they're talking to themselves. Then again, who am I to talk! I talk to my cats as if they were my kids...literally...

        Everyone has some point where they leave rationality behind and accept something blindly...I don't think that's crazy in a negative way....I don't think Darksyde does either...but as I said before, I can't speak for him...I can only tell you how I read the diary.

        •  understanding the limits thereof (none)
          yes...

          here.  i'll ask this.  i speak to my cats too as if they were kids.

          do you think i'm being infantile when i do that??

          when the diarist says "i am an adult" to justify his/her disbelief in god, i think he/she is making a statement about maturity and being a fully formed human being.  

          you really believe there's no condescension there at all??

          "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

          by BiminiCat on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:32:55 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  only where you choose to see it n/t (none)

            "Passing the gun from father to feckless son; We're climbing a landslide where only the good die young." Leaders of the Free World - Elbow

            by Dave Brown on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:12:23 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  I understood that as (none)
            Darksyde implying that people who are not atheist and who judge atheists poorly act like atheists are just confused kids...I took it as if he were saying "I'm an adult, I've thought about and I'm entitled to my opinions"...

            I suppose my interpretation could be wrong...but that's how I read it.

    •  same reason they care about others' religions (none)
      Religion relates to tribalism.
  •  Damn, Nuked my own well thought and (4.00)
    provacative post.  To tired to retype the whole thing so i will recap.

    Yea Darkside - Thanks for the discussion

    Midwest Center for American Values - Progressive ideas in an easy to swallow pill.

    by ETinKC on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:28:11 PM PST

  •  Oh, brother (3.40)
    I'll simply say that it's really sad that DS thinks that all Christians are fundamentalists.  I suggest a good reading of some of the works of Jim Wallis at www.sojo.net for starters.

    Isn't it ridiculous that someone who thinks people should be accepted on the same level whatever their ethnicity, gender, sexual preference, etc. can't extend the same to those with faith?  What hypocrisy!

    As a Christian, I am friends with atheists, agnostics, and those who practice various non-Christian faiths  No big deal to me.  I accept them as they accept me.

    As a Christian, I have no litmus test as to what faith is the right faith, or that having any faith at all is the right thing to do.  I believe we are all individuals and we do what's right for ourselves.  I practice my faith in private, don't push it down other's throats, nor do I judge those with different beliefs system or no beliefs at all.  

    My faith is private, personal, and consists of a personal relationship with Christ.  I do not attend church as I haven't found a Christian church lately that speaks to me.  Yet I do spend time daily in communion with Christ.  You might never notice when I do this.  I could be driving in the car, singing to the tunes, and having a conversation with Christ in my mind.  

    I think most of the Bible is a history lesson that is to be ignored when it comes to how we should live out our faith.  The Beatitudes from Christ's Sermon on the Mount is all I need to know and all I need to practice.  

    • I do not believe in holy wars.  
    • I don't believe that wealth is an indicator of how moral or Christian you are.  
    • I don't believe that the reputation of the church is more important than child abuse.  
    • I don't believe in preaching hatred of others, no matter who they are or what they beliweve.  
    • I don't believe that Christ subjugated women to men and don't accept that belief-system.    
    • I celebrate my sexuality, enjoy sex, and don't think it's a thing of shame.  
    • I have no problem with the GBLT community and whatever sexual preferences they practice (as long as they are doing it with consenting adults, it's none of my business and I could caer less what anyone does behind closed doors).
    • I support the right for gays to marry.
    • I believe in Darwin's Theory of Evolution as the best science to explain our world.
    • I do NOT believe that ID/Creationism should be taught in our schools.
    • I believe that the only time religion should be taught in schools is in a comparative religion class and, only then, if all faiths are given equal treatment without any prejudicial emphasis placing one faith as more important than the others.
    • I am pro-choice and have been active to save it.
    • I believe that RU-486, Plan B, and all contraceptives should be available in all drug stores and that pharmacists that refuse to do their job by not filling certain prescriptions should get a different job.
    • I would be very comfortable with removing the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance as we are a secular nation and no reference to any kind of religion should be a part of government.  Heck, get rid of "In God We Trust" from money, remove chaplains from Congress, etc.  I couldn't care less.  Doing this detracts nothing from my personal faith.
    • I am opposed to the death penalty.

    I could go on.

    I have a feeling that we would be fairly close in how we want our world/country to be.  The only difference between you and me is that I happen to have faith.

    You may ask me why and not believe a word of it.  That's fine.  I was an agnostic until I had a life-altering tragedy in my life where Christ helped heal my pain.  My experience was real to me.  Whether it is real to you is no skin off my nose.  

    I hate to sound trite but "why can't we all just get along."

    So, rant all you want against fundamentalists who want us all to live in a Christo-Facist state.  I'll join you in that.  But don't lump us all in the same damn basket.  That's totally fucked up.

    And don't assume that those of us with faith are deluded, childish, unable to utilize critical thinking, or are mired in a fantasy-world.  I think you are extremely arrogant that you believe your way is the only way.  Hey, you sound just like a Christian fundamentalist!

    •  You choose your faith. (none)
      You do not choose your race or gender. Not even close.

      "Blessing are not just for the ones who kneel" Bono

      by kd texan on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 05:42:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Rationality isn't mandatory. (none)
      "I was an agnostic until I had a life-altering tragedy in my life where Christ helped heal my pain.  My experience was real to me.  Whether it is real to you is no skin off my nose."'

      If "Christ" is a description of an inner power within yourself, then I believe it was real.

      If it was a description of a man who died 2000 years ago who also happened to have created the universe -- then I don't think it was real, and I find it a rather odd thing to believe, but I guess you can believe it if you want to.  I'd just hope that you don't draw any conclusions from such beliefs, because with such unsupported premises, your conclusions might well be wrong.

  •  asdf (none)
    I completely agree with you.  Except with regard to Buddhism.  Buddhism kicks ass.

    Welcome to Bizarro World.

    by starkness on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:28:56 PM PST

    •  I've only had one class touch on Buddhism (none)
      but it really makes just as little sense.

      It believes in reincarnation, karma, and enlightenment, but doesn't believe anything endures, including people. What the hell is reincarnated if there is nothing that lasts longer than it takes for "a strong man to snap his fingers divided by 75"?

      "Murrow had a child. The damn thing went wild." -- Fleetwood Mac
      (-8.63), (-7.03)

      by Perdition on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 03:56:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You know what this reminds me of? (3.00)
    Every anti-gay tirade I've ever read.  

    Let's say you began this tirade with "This is about why I am straight," and then proceeded to demonize same-sex attraction as crazy, juvenile, retarded, or illogical.  How would that read?  Would it read as a sincere statement of belief?  Or would it read as an attack on gays?  The latter, I think.

    And that is exactly how this reads to me: an attack on religious people.  

    And no, the "Some of my best friends are crazy, juvenile, retarded and illogical religious people" at the beginning does not change that fact.

    •  Well (3.66)
      lets make that analogy a little more accurate. I'm straight, and I think people who have believe they having a sexual relationship with an immortal, magic, invisible same-sex lover are crazy, pulling my leg, infantile, or illogical. Now, how does that read?

      Read UTI, your free thought forum

      by DarkSyde on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:33:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It reads (1.91)
        Like you're an asshole.  Which pretty my confirms the impression I got from the diary.
      •  Like a typical (1.50)
        Atheistic fundamentalist. Maybe you and Falwell should start a show together.

        A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

        by Tux on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:08:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  atheistic fundamentalists. (4.00)
          Can you expand on that concept? By atheist fundamentalists, do you mean authoritarian, anti-democratic? I've run across a few like that in my 40 years on the planet--mostly people I met in college (but then we were all militant about something or other in college: vegetarianism, liberalism, straight-legged jeans, Elvis Costello--the "conservatism of youth" don't you know). Since that time, however, I have to say the my-way-or-the-highway atheists I've known have been far and away the exception. The religious folk I've known, on the other hand, have been authoritarian almost without exception.

          Could you talk a little more about how fundamentalist atheism manifests in your experience? How much does it touch you personally? How, in your opinion, is it affecting society in general? Who are its most vocal proponents and where do you see their dogmatisms most frequently cropping up? In the media? In education? What do you feel are its most egregious offenses? When subjected to these hostilities--and an example or two would be helpful--how does it make you feel? Like your reality is being denied, perhaps?

          Finally, what can be done about it, do you suppose? What ought to be done? If you could change minds, what exactly would you change? If I were an atheist and I said to you, "Hey, Tux. You're right. My atheism is faith-based, just like religion," and then I went on being my atheist self with no observable changes--what would my concession have meant to you?

          I'm asking sincerely. I hope you'll take a moment to respond.

          .

          Is nothing secular?

          by aitchdee on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 04:00:05 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  What if.... (none)
        What if I said the same thing, but added that I think most people are illogical most of the time, and many people are at least somewhat crazy, and most people are infantile some of the time, and that this includes me?
    •  But one is a statement of (4.00)
      belief and the other is just who you are.  Posting a diary that began "here is why I am straight" make as much sense as "Here is why I am white".

      What I take from this is that if we are going to be a big Tent party, it helps to understand the feeling of those int he tent with you.  Pastor Dan's current Diary is another good example of this.

      DS is not trying to impinge on your or my right to continue believing or worshiping as we choose, he is just giving a perspective that for some is new and for others it is just nice to know that others feel the same way they do.

      Personally, I have respect for all liberals..except for the ones who listen to that new country pop cap.  Them I just cant handle.

      Midwest Center for American Values - Progressive ideas in an easy to swallow pill.

      by ETinKC on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:42:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Very different (4.00)
      As a gay atheist I'm probably particularly unsuited to respond to this but here goes:

      To make an analogous critique of homosexuallity wouldn't make much sense.  What makes me gay is that I feel a strong attraction to other men.  It's not a statement about any fact outside my own emotions/attractions.   Would the proposed anti-gay tirade argue that gay people don't actually feel same sex attraction?  That would presume some knowledge of how I feel and that's something that no one but me can really have.  

      On the other hand, DarkSyde's critique of religion focusses on beliefs held by (some) religious people regarding issues that we do have pretty good knowledge about.  I think it's pretty sound to argue that it's illogical to hold beliefs that contradict mountains of evidence.

       And for the record, not only are some of my best friends religious, so are some of the absolutely brightest people I know.  I don't think they are crazy, but I do think their belief in religion is illogical.  That doesn't lower my opinion of them as people (or as world class mathematicians), but there is no reason why I, and DarkSyde, shouldn't be able to point this out.  But for some reason this is a major taboo in our society.  

      •  what's the mountain of evidence (none)
        that contradicts what a theist believes??  

        (i didn't bring it up.)

        also, i think the analogy being made...

        the thought process may not be analogous.

        but it seems the tone is.

        "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

        by BiminiCat on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:28:22 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, since you asked... (4.00)
          ...let's take one example of what a theist believes (at least what many of them believe, since their beliefs do tend to be quite diverse and often mutually exclusive): God created the world in 7 days.

          I'm pretty sure that astronomers, geologists, paleontologists and other scientists could provide you with a mountain of evidence that indicates that just isn't so, the world took much, much longer to form than 168 hours. Of course, then the theist could claim that the "7 days" is just figurative, and pretend that it symbolizes whatever they want it to symbolize, in order to rationalize that their beliefs have not been contradicted, and so on and so forth...

          "Mr. McClellan, don't the American people deserve better than this 'orange jumpsuit' ethics policy?"

          GOP = Guilty of Perjury

          Edwards/Clark 2008

          by MeanBoneII on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 02:04:34 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  not sure if it's cool to speak for others (none)
            and make an assumption that all theists believe the world was built in 7 days.

            i'm not really a theist but it seems to me not all theists believe the world was created in 7 days.

            and if they don't really believe it, no beliefs have been contradicted.

            "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

            by BiminiCat on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 10:37:31 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  sorry (none)
          what's the mountain of evidence that contradicts what a theist believes??

          doesn't work that way. if someone asserts that something exists, the onus is on them to provide evidence that it exists, it isn't on the skeptic to prove that it doesn't.  

          but we dance to the music, and we dance

          by chopper on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 04:51:20 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  fine (none)
            i wasn't the one who said there was a mountain of evidence.

            if you don't have something... that's great if you don't need it.  but if you do claim to have some evidence in the matter, is it wrong for someone to ask to see that evidence??

            "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

            by BiminiCat on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 10:34:15 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  asf (none)
              liberal mathematician wasn't saying that there are 'mountains of evidence' against the existence of god.

              he was saying that it's goofy to believe in certain things from a religious standpoint where there are mountains of evidence to the contrary. the example used was the creation of the earth in 7 days.

              but we dance to the music, and we dance

              by chopper on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:49:38 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  This is a complicated question. (none)
          Different theists believe different things.

          Many theists believe in a God which is all-powerful and all-loving.

          Then why is there misery in the world?  Either God doesn't love us enough to stop it, or God isn't powerful enough to stop it.  So God can't be all-powerful and all-loving.  This is one of the most classic ones.

          If you abandon all-powerful and allow a limited God with limited powers, it becomes harder to disprove the existence of any such god.  But it is still pretty easy to disprove the existence of most of the particular gods people come up with from time to time.

          As soon as God starts having defined characteristics which include the ability to interfere with the world in any particular way, and any particular agenda, evidence seems to turn up against that God.  Presumably not true of all possible Gods, but I haven't heard a really good one yet.

          I liked the description by one poster of a God which was simply the social creation of mankind.  That, of course, I can believe in; there's plenty of evidence for that.

          Deism (the God of non-interference, the great watchmaker) is a hypothesis with no evidence against it -- but essentially untestable barring the discovery of a signature such as in Carl Sagan's Contact -- and also having little or no relevance to how to live one's life.

      •  The proposed anti-gay tirade (none)
        Would call anyone who doesn't feel different-sex attraction childish, stupid, or crazy, much like DarkSyde's diary above says anyone who doesn't share their view does the same.  It doesn't matter whether the argument has merit or not; the purpose of any screed with such a tone isn't argument, it's insult.

        DarkSyde could have written the "critique" above in any number of ways that aren't insulting to anyone who doesn't share it.  Could have said, "Religion is not science," with which everyone would probably agree, and then could have said, "And I prefer science," and list the reasons for the preference, which I doubt anyone would find objectionable.

        Unless, of course, those reasons were, "Because I'm not childish, stupid, or crazy."

        Otherwise, as far as "logic" goes, please.  Read the last few paragraphs of DarkSyde's screed and tell me again about "logic."  It's a bunch of nonsense about how we, as bags of chemicals, can "determine our destiny!"  Logically, DarkSyde might as well argue that the earth can decide not to circle the sun.

        Everyone holds a few illogical beliefs.  I wouldn't call it "taboo" to make note of it.  But I would question why anyone would bother to make note of something so obvious.

    •  This analogy works (none)
      only if you think that homosexuality is a choice.  Or if atheism vs. belief is decided genetically.

      But last time I checked homosexuality isn't a choice, but beliefs are.

      "Passing the gun from father to feckless son; We're climbing a landslide where only the good die young." Leaders of the Free World - Elbow

      by Dave Brown on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:18:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is OK, I Suppose (none)
    Except existence and the universe is not infinite. We're in a bubble of finite heat and finite matter contained in a void. Our expanding bubble will never be infinite, no matter how long it expands.

    The void outside of the bubble of existence does not have size or substance. It does not have direction, depth or any characteristic whatsoever. It cannot be observed, touched or entered. It offers no possibilities. The void is not even nothing.

    Also, many Buddhists are atheists and they believe in reincarnation. It is the Western religions that suppose an individual's human life only occurs once.

    One more thing. Santa Claus is the God of Consumer Goods. He is much loved in this land.

    Thanks for the fun diary!

    •  Reincarnation and buddhists (none)
      Not all of us buddhists believe in reincarnation;  in fact, reincarnation can be traced back to Hindu faith which was to some measure carried over into buddhism.  Living out future lives in reward/punishment for present actions is, by some interpretations, counterintuitive to a core buddhist tennant; namely, that there is nothing permanent that can be called 'self' and therefore nothing which can be carried into another life.  It is only in the fruits of our actions that we 'live on' and if divinity is to be ascribed to our existence it is only in that there is a choice in how we go about our lives.

      Where will you throw the stone in the pond?

  •  GET YOUR T-SHIRTS BEFORE THEY'RE ALL GONE!!! (none)
    Don't miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to proudly wear your belief -- or disbelief -- in God(s)!

    Our t-shirts are created using 100% organic cotton and environmentally friendly ink. They're guaranteed to last your short time on this celestial sphere or we swear to God (or not) to refund 100% of your money.

    Only $199.99 per t-shirt. Order yours today!!!

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    Actual item may vary from picture, depending on whether or not we run out of ink.

    Democrats -- Progress for the Working Class

    by rogun on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:38:00 PM PST

    •  And (4.00)
      don't forget, what goes great with that belief shirt: The LIghtning Rod Helmut.

      Image hosted by Photobucket.com

      The LRH sends that subtle yet unmistakable message that you don't give a hoot if the asshole screwing up your life drops dead. Or don it in the middle of a rant from those pesky religious lunatics of any faith and dare them to have their omnipotent deity strike you down!

      Read UTI, your free thought forum

      by DarkSyde on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:03:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  What does it matter (4.00)
    what anyone believes?  If we have faith, or don't, it is our personal business, period.  As long as we are civilized, honest people, as long as we dont' seek to hurt others, why is it that some must explain their personal life?

    I have met some of the most dishonest, mean people who call themselves a "person of faith" and others who are folks I wish I could be like, and they are atheists.

    As to "faith" it is what it is, something that can't be explained, it has no way of being "proved" thus the faith part.  Does the fact that I am someone who happens to believe in God somehow make me better then another person, especially an atheist? NO! And it never will be.

    Regardless of whether or not one has faith, it is in the end how we live our lives that matters, have we helped each other, have we done the things that have made the world a better place?  The reasons aren't always that important (unless you are seeking to "use" your good works for personal gain), but the acts are.

    I respect the personal choices we all make, and it is disturbing when there is such a push in our society to somehow think that having "faith" makes one a better person.

    And, for the record I am a Catholic, and disagree with the church on MANY issues.  Because I am part of a religious group in NO way gives me something over someone that does not believe in religion.  Again it boils down to how we interact, what we do in our daily lives that matters most.

    "September 11, 2001, already a day of immeasurable tragedy, cannot be the day liberty perished in this country." Judge Gerald Tjoflat

    by SanJoseLady on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:38:41 PM PST

  •  STOP!!!!!!!! (2.25)
    The unofficial 'stop wasting our time and energy on this pointless debate' diary:

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    Not for mojo, but to sincerely get these damn diaries off my beloved dailykos.

    republicans would move heaven and earth to save a brain dead white woman, but let kids drown just for being born below the poverty line

    by danthrax on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:43:13 PM PST

  •  thanks darksyde (none)
    for your diaries. I read the titles and decided to read them, and enjoyed them very much.
    Then I read the comments, and was suprised by the amount of arguement over them.WTF, didn't these people read the disclaimer? It wasn't even in small print, or buried at the end.
      Personally, I don't very much care what people believe, as long as they don't try to make me a part of their subset. I've never had an atheist knock on my door and attempt to convert me.
      If we could get everyone to tend their own lives and stay out of our neighbors lives, the world would be a better place.
    As the guy on Urban Myths(discovery channel) said-"I reject your reality, and substitute my own."

    "I ain't no physicist, but I knows what matters"-Popeye

    by keefer55 on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:48:05 PM PST

  •  afasfasf (none)
    theists and atheists pie-fighting equals windows and linux fanboys pie-fighting.

    in the end, who gives a shit.  Use whatever operating system floats your boat.

    so you think I'm a troll? Well kiss my hairy troll nalgas then

    by MetaProphet on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:56:41 PM PST

    •  because (none)
      not all beliefs are created equal.  

      germ theory and the four humors are two different "operating systems."  one will lead to a healthier life and the other one may lead to certain death.

      creationism and evolution are two "operating systems."  one is based on religious dogma.  the other is based on science.  

      sure, we can agree to disagree.  but what do we do when it comes to laws on abortion, stem cell research, science education, government funded medicince, etc?

      these issues are no longer just personal beliefs but public policies.  and i think it's important that we don't just agree to disagree and have a vote on it.  because if everybody believes in "the four humors" i don't want to have to give up my antibiotics.  

      we must engage in a substantive discussion about either "operating system's" pluses and minuses and it ought to be based on evidence and not dogma.

      •  sure, i dig that. (none)
        but the problem is that our society lacks the ability to integrate science and religion into an effective meta-framework.  We're still stuck at the my operating system is better than yours mentality and probably will be for a long time.  It's not by any accident that the fundi-wingers are creating their own science and religion integration mechanism to fill the void left by our enlightenment driven "western reductionism only" world view.  

        Also, the idea of "pluses" and "minuses" is extremely subjective.  I'm pretty sure that the Native Americans and Africans didn't think that western civ. had a whole lot of pluses going for it.

        so you think I'm a troll? Well kiss my hairy troll nalgas then

        by MetaProphet on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:24:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  it's not subjective (none)
          when it comes to observation and evidence.  theories such as evolution and creationism are not created equal.  and integrating those two (with intelligent design) is a bad idea for all of us.
          •  it's not subjective? (none)
            sure it is.  Science is only as good as its tools of measurement at any given point in time.  To think that science is totally objective and apolitical is a myth itself.  Magical flying vehicles would've sounded like some sort of biblical fiction 200+ years ago.

            so you think I'm a troll? Well kiss my hairy troll nalgas then

            by MetaProphet on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 03:03:15 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  if there is no god, why are women so divine? (none)
    i admit that i just do not have the brain cells necessary to believe in oddball ideologies which is all of them.

    "the ubiquitous existential paradigm subsumes didactic proactive synergistic essence". buckley b. buckley vii

    by realheathen on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 10:58:03 PM PST

    •  Because women are sacred, (none)
      In a completely rational and objective fashion.  To quote Heinlein: "All societies are based on rules to protect pregnant women and young children. All else is surplus age, excrescence, adornment, luxury or folly which can--and must--be dumped in emergency to preserve this prime function. As racial survival is the only universal morality, no other basic is possible. Attempts to formulate a "perfect society" on any foundation other than "women and children first!" is not only witless, it is automatically genocidal. Nevertheless, starry-eyed idealists (all of them male) have tried endlessly--and no doubt will keep on trying."

      And as a side point to the pie-fighters, who's better seems silly when one side is based on reality and the other is based on make-believe.  Being religious doesn't make you a bad person.  But it is make-believe.  There's just no getting around that.

  •  My favorite part of your diary: (none)
    "We owe it to the wonderful diversity of life on earth of which we are a part and which gave birth to our species; an unbroken lineage stretching back four billion years of which we are the managing agent."

    Because it holds in it a thought I hold dear, to a certain extent.  I believe that LIFE is the miracle, for lack of a better word (from rocks to oceans to trees to mosquitoes to gurgling babies and even sorry hideous examples like, say George W. Bush).  

    I don't, however think that we are the stewards of anything we've really collectively or individually figured out as of yet.  I'm content leaving it all to the delicate balance that is the earth, and she is very much alive and has the power to, as George Carlin once said, "flick us off like fleas."  To me, there's more humility and compassion and even love in simply believing in this larger picture of life than in carrying faith in a religion (unless you'd consider geophysiology a religion and someone like James Lovelock a god).  

    In any event, thanks for the diary.

    Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it. -Samuel Clemens

    by wvillmike on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:03:54 PM PST

  •  Skipped all the previous earlier diaries... (3.25)
    ...giving what time I had to diaring about mining issues vis-a-vis the Pombo Amendment to fire-sale public lands to industry.  Haven't read most of this one, either.  And it's past ripe, so it's unlikely my comment will be read by more than a handful of people.  So it goes.

    I'm practical.  Having no belief in an afterlife, aside from the very practical recycling of carbon, oxygen, nitorgen, calcium, and the like, I give my primary commitment to this world.  Rather than worrying about what comes next.

    Somewhere in Daniel Quinn's oeuvre of The Story of B, Ishmael and associated, I found one of my favorite expressions of what the unexpected nature of the anti-Christ might be.  Paraphrased:  if all our religions focus on the afterlife, then the anti-Christ might be one who eschews that, and instead gives all to this world.

    I recall a kid I new in high school (now faculty at Harvard) who spoke of religion as things we don't understand.  So you could call it Jesus or call it gravity.  Different aspects of great mysteries.

    There is perhaps only one belief I am absolutely certain of:  The universe is very big, and what any one of us can know is very small.  We all make up stories (micro- and macro-) to fill in the gaps of what we don't understand.  IMHO, religion is just one tactic to the dilemma that the universe is too big to know.

    I tend to think that the "Virgin" Mary was a girl who got knocked up and made up a whopper of a tale to keep out of trouble.  Her son turned out to be someone worth learning from an emulating.  Good for him.  Joseph Smith, that Mormon founder, didn't really get away with it - but was basicly a charismatic, charming, sex-addict who made up another whopper to support his personal obsessions.  Maybe I'm wrong, but that's how I see it.

    I really dislike evangelism.  Anyone who presumes to know for sure what's up is, I'm fairly certain, full of BS.  Whatever gets you through the night is how I see it.  So long as you don't presume to get all over me about what I should think.  Spirituality and sexuality are both deep things.  And both are equally inappropriate to the public square.

  •  Here's my two cents Darksyde (none)
    for what its worth. And BTW thank you so much for enabling this lively discussion.

    Whereever I see the word God I substitute the word Life. I am a believer in Life and I know that I have  Life in and all around me. I have evidence of this and it is irrefutable. Hey it works for me. Ofsourse there is no concept of a vengeful Life (as many Christians believe in a vengeful God who is just licking his lips to judge and punish given half the chance).

    Life just is. Take it or leave it. We can't not believe in it as we are all experiencing it and creating it all of the time. Naturally then we have to take responsibility for everthing we think say and do. No more blaming an ephemeral entity and passing the buck.

    I grew up with both Hinduism and Christianity so I speak from a perspective of organized religion in my  formative years. Since then I have spent the last 2 decades exploring my spirituality and the above is the simplified version of the conclusion that I have reached. It is mine and I don't present it as the Universal Answer to Life the Universe and Everything but as I said, it works for me.

    "Guns don't kill people, people kill people, and monkeys do too (if they have a gun)." -Eddie Izzard

    by peaceandjoy on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:17:08 PM PST

  •  Confessions of a Quaker (4.00)
    1. I know that the Bible, and all other religious texts are culturally constructed narratives that should be viewed within the contexts of the societies in which they were formed.  That's why I can read Deuteronomy and think, "wow, the Israelites were so desperate to survive as a culture that they made these elaborate rules to ensure their existence" instead of "God hates gays."  In a similar vein, I know that morals are culturally constructed.  The fact that you, my atheist friends, and me have similar moral codes has more to do with our shared upbringing (which is partially influenced by the Judeo-Christian society into which we are born) than being touched by someone's noodly appendage.  

    2. I know that my beliefs aren't rational.  But I also don't believe that "rationality" is as firm a foundation upon which to build one's life as we are taught to believe.  Rationality, like religion and spirituality, is a social construct, developed specifically by Western European men.  Is it a valuable construct?  You betcha!  I wouldn't be gabbing with you right now if it wasn't.  But privileging rationality as the end-all-be-all of knowledge limits the sorts of knowledge which are available to us.  But enough with the post-modernism.

    3. I really don't give a flying fuck what any of your spiritual beliefs are, and honestly, I won't care if you never give a second thought to mine.  Too much ink and blood has been spilled arguing over whose god/dess has the biggest genitalia, or if said sacred genitalia even exist.  I'd rather sit down with Joe and Jane Sikzpak, stare out at the universe on a clear night, and say "wow - that's beautiful."

    Look y'all: I really think that these diaries are pointless (despite my commenting on them, and please don't take this as a sign of disrespect Darksyde - your writing on the matter is eloquent and sincere).  I question my own beliefs on a near daily basis, but this questioning ultimately strengthens my beliefs.  You're not going to convince me otherwise.  I have no intention of trying to convince anyone here to believe anything differently than what they believe - you are all smart people who arrived at your positions through a lot of thought, and I completely respect that.  You want religion out government.  Fine - I am a firm believer in the separation of church and state.  I want government to stay out of my spirituality.  I have no reason to believe that any of you would foist that upon me.  Can they be completely separate?  Of course not: people will be motivated to public service by any number of things, including spiritual beliefs (check out Dorothy Day's commitment to anarchism based on her Catholicism); likewise, government has imposed certain rules under which religious organizations must operate in our society.

    But underneath it all, all of us, whatever our motivations, are working to build a better world.  I don't care what your spiritual beliefs are.  I won't even bring it up, to be honest, so long as we're working together for social and environmental justice.

    I'll conclude my incoherent ramblings with perhaps the sagest of prophets, Rufus from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure: "Be excellent to one another.  And  party on, dudes!"

    "No hope? See, that gives me guts." - d. boon

    by wobblie on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:20:11 PM PST

  •  I honestly don't know if I'm an atheist or not (4.00)
    DarkSyde, I agree with your post, pretty much from soup to nuts.

    However, I mostly see it as an indictment of the concept of God espoused by the Judeo-Christian tradition... with a few call outs to those who believe in reincarnation... and you can certainly extend it to other doctrines' concepts of God.

    The reason I'm not self-identified as an atheist is that I can accept that every possible human conception of God may be absurd... that the notion of a personal God may be absurd... that any and all human religions may be absurd... and yet there might nonetheless be an intelligence behind the existence of the universe.

    I suppose that this would be a form of Deism.

    It's not something I can say I believe. It's certainly not an article of faith on my part, it's a hypothesis that if there were a Prime Mover... and one doesn't tacitly accept the traditional assessments of It as depicted in tradition and folklore, It must be far beyond our comprehension, existing - as It must - beyond our realm of being.  It needn't have formed us from clay... and it needn't have had any interest or concern about whether matter self-organized into domesticated primates. It might have set the universe in motion for Its amusement because It had Nothing Better To Do... and It may be as astonished by consequent developments as we are.

    We needn't be surprised if it is impersonal. So if we posit such a deity, that takes care of the Problem of Why God Tolerates Bad Things:  After all, what regard do we have for the dust mites that inhabit our carpets?

    Such a deity needn't provide us with a cushy afterlife - nor demand obsequious praise from us. It would not be a particularly comforting thought, that of an alien intelligence that set into motion a universe without any regard for us... you certainly won't attract a cult of True Believers with such a doctrine... there's no payoff at all.

    One problem I've had with our culture's concept of God is the assumption of omnipotence.  It may be that there's a gradient of being far beyond us (like the future intelligences that you can project us evolving into) which are nonetheless finite... but far beyond our reckoning.

    Perhaps any sufficiently advanced Mind is indistinguishable from God...

    It (or they) may simply exist in a meta-realm outside our system.  Perhaps our universe is the result of a super-colliding superconductor experiment conducted by beings much like us... who created an infinitesimally tiny and brief pocket of space-time - which we experience as billions of years and and billions of light years.

    Would such beings be Gods - having created our universe? Or are they still just nerds in lab coats?  

    I admit this is largely speculative sophistry. It doesn't have the character of religious faith, and it doesn't comprise a belief system or a moral code. But what I'm trying to communicate is that it is possible to accept the premise of a creator without accepting ANY of the accretion of religious dogma that comes with organized religion, and which seem to be the principle thrust of your argument against the existence of a God.

    It may be argued that I'm essentially redefining "God" downwards. But although the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition asserts a perfect, all-powerful God... not all concepts of deity have been so demanding. A creator need not be perfect, omniscient, omnibenevolent... the very traits that breed many of the logical fallacies that render claims about YHVH self-contradictory.

    I certainly agree that there's no proof of God, and there's equally no proof of my little gedankenexperiments regarding alternative creators. And therefore Occam's razor cuts my speculation off at the wrists...

    However, although it cannot be proved, and although it gives me no particular comfort, I have harbored for decades this nagging suspicion that the universe is essentially informational - and therefore more akin to an idea than it is to inert matter.  

    So while I reject doctrine, tradition, dogma and mythology... and despite the fact that there isn't any Cosmic Daddy that's going to 'save' me or give me life everlasting, I do wonder if this isn't all some shared hallucination... with us all being psuedopods of a matrix of intelligence that is an expression of the fundamental ground of being.

    Or not.

    In the end, such speculations don't affect the way I conduct my life one way or another.

    Dick Cheney is one persian cat short of being a James Bond villain.

    by Malacandra on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:27:25 PM PST

  •  bravo.... (4.00)
    ....darkesyde....you've written two excellent diaries that have drawn some fascinating comments....and some absolutely stupid and mean-spirited ones, but oh well....

    and now for a bit of humor....

    when my nephew was about 8 years old, my brother and his wife decided to get him a waterbed for christmas. they brought the bed home and put it in the garage. when my nephew went to bed that night in his usual bed, they waited until he was sound asleep. then, my brother picked him up carefully and put him in their bed. my nephew is a sound sleeper, needless to say.

    my brother set up the waterbed, filled it, and waited for the heater to warm things sufficiently. then he put my nephew into the water bed.

    the next morning, christmas day, my brother and his wife awoke to my nephew's exclamation, "there's a waterbed in my room!!" he was mystified as to how it got there. my brother told him that santa works in mysterious ways.

    for years afterward, when my nephew expressed doubt in whether santa was for real, we'd all just bring up the waterbed incident. my nephew would frown and get a far-away look in his eye while he pondered the great unknown. he believed in santa well into his teens.

    it was probably a cruel thing to do, but he laughs with us now about it all.

    Crime is contagious....if the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for the law. -- Justice Louis Brandeis

    by FemiNazi on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:33:29 PM PST

  •  despite the utterly predictable squabbles (4.00)

    Darksyde has said some very important things in these diaries.

    One of the more important concepts addressed in this diary is that of how for atheists (or Capital "A", for those who prefer) this life is it. No afterlife means we'd better take full advantage of each and every here and now.

    It means because we have no rulebook of ethics, we wrestle moment by moment with what the ethical thing to do is. And no rituals of confession nor apologizing to photographs of loved ones- as Promise Keepers did on the national mall- can be used to assuage our consciences.

    Making things right between ourselves and another person whenever possible becomes our action path- not undergoing rituals of repentance between oneself and one's god over offenses.

    I take grave issue with the notion of 'life is a gift' because it begs the question- 'gift' from whom? And no, I wouldn't say one's mother because as I've said so many times before, carrying a pregnancy to term does not necessarily imply her consent.

    But if (and for me this is no "if) this is all we've got than an atheistic perspective means we get to do some of the heavy lifting.

    If we don't have the easy 'out' of a god to punish or reward, then we are forced to recognize and daily live with the reality that, yes, life is unfair- it is often painful. Such is the nature of life itself. In turn some of us choose, by our own hands to do what we can to try to alleviate that suffering- because there's no deity's gonna do it for us.

    Atheists are deeply invested in the realities of day to day life, because we are not waiting for some other time, or distracted by promises of any given afterlife or supposed next incarnation.

    My point is just that perhaps we live a very different kind of life- a very in the moment life.

    And that is part of what some atheists (I wouldn't dain speak of all of us) bring to all this- including our politics.

  •  Thank you again DarkySide (none)
    Ah, so refreshing to read this.  Of course the believers will try to challenge us, to want to make us believe, to through specious arguments our way.  We have heard them all before.  When you are an atheist you just shrug it off.  Doesn't stop me for lighting a candle or two now and then at the catholic church for my father who was a believer.

    Pro-Choice and Proud of It!

    by powwow500 on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:45:01 PM PST

  •  Next time though (none)
    can you fix the margins?  comments go off the page and its a pain.  Maybe god is mad at you?

    Pro-Choice and Proud of It!

    by powwow500 on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:47:29 PM PST

    •  I wondered what that was (none)
      How does that work?

      It's a shame.  I'm not able to read anymore of this interesting diary because of it.  I was just ready to head out when I saw your comment.  :)

      bye bye

  •  Only religions that make no sense - survive (4.00)
    "there is no after-world, nor any religious practice for attaining that. . . . [Religious] injunctions . . . have been laid down in the [scriptures] by clever people, just to rule over [other] people."
         Javali speaking to the god Ram
         from the Ramayana

    "Who really knows?" ... "Who will here proclaim it [Creation]? Whence was it produced?. . . perhaps it formed itself, or perhaps it did not -- the one who looks down on it, in the highest heaven, only he knows --or perhaps he does not know."
        from the Rigveda, approx. 1500 B.C.E.

    First, when religion makes sense, it loses the only reason it has for existing in the first place.

    Religion is a marker and enforcer of group identity and behavior.  It can not make sense or appeal to reason or evidence.

    If religion relied on reason and evidence, and if there were two tribes A and B, and tribe A believes religon A' and tribe B believes religion B', then a clever person from tribe A could convince everyone in tribe B to convert to his religion, A',  through reason -- and tribe B would cease to exist.

    Therefore, all surviving religions must make no sense and must deny the use of reason in verifying their "truth claims".

    Indeed, the more impervious to reason the religion, the greater utility it has to the rulers of the tribe.  For only those inculcated in the religion as children would be able to believe that nonsense.  

    So how does religion spread?

    1.  High birth rates coupled with territorial expansion and often accompanied by genocide, ex. Catholics and Muslims
    2.  Threats
      Profess outward obedience to my religion or I'll kill you worked very well for Catholics as they "converted" Germany as well as for Muslims as they overran the Christian Middle East.  Of course as soon as adults converted - even if they did not do so sincerely - their children became available for "brainwashing".  
    3.  Material advantage
       Convert to Islam and you won't have to pay taxes of up to 50% of your earnings.  And once more children become available for "brainwashing".
    4.  "Proofs" of "God's" favor
        "Come to Prayer.  Come to success. Allah is the Greatest." cry the imams from their minarets as they lead the faithful to worship. The proof that Allah is Great is the fact that the Muslims conquered so much of the world.  Which is why so many Muslims today find themselves in an existential quandry when they compare their "success" to Western living standards.  European/American wealth is a direct challenge to the "proof" that "Allah is the Greatest" - because the "proof" of Allah's existence is the "success" of his followers.

    [Digression: Just as the ability of capitalism to generate wealth and social democracies to spread that wealth and create a middle class caused the fall of Communism, Sayyid Qutb feared that Western society would cause the end of Islam.  His brother, Muhammad Qutb, taught Zawahari, who taught Osama bin Laden.  Thus you begin to realize the theological underpinnings "justifying" Osama bin Laden's war.]

    So, your reasons for being an athiest are the very reasons religion exists.

    1.  It makes no sense.
    2.  There is no evidence for it.
    3.  I'm an adult.

    Your mistake is to believe that religion is a search for truth -- or really, your mistake is to believe that those who believe in religon are seeking the "truth".  Religous believers do not want "truth", they want to belong to a group in order to create a sense of identity greater than their mortal selves.

    That's why Nazism, Communism, Catholicism, and Islam are all logically equivalent.

    They are all means for finite humans with finite lifespans to create an identity that transcends their death.

    And there is no point in arguing with someone over it as you are literally trying to argue them into accepting their mortality.

    And no religous person is likely to admit that they are wrong, you are right, and they are going to die - forever.

    Now - I await the flames.

    No, not the hellfires dreamt of by insane prophets, but the Internet kind.

    Call the world if you Please "The vale of Soul-making" Then you will find out the use of the world. - Keats

    by republican with a small r on Tue Nov 15, 2005 at 11:54:55 PM PST

    •  slight clarification (none)
      When I said that "your reasons for being an atheist are the very reasons religion exist", I meant to say, "are the very reasons surviving religions exist."

      Only those religions which make no sense, admit to no evidence, and concentrate on "brainwashing" childen can continue to exist.

      I give two, non exclusive, reasons for religon.

      For rulers, it is a means of marking and enforcing tribal identity.

      For the "faithful", it is a means of transcending the fear of death.

      Sorry for the need to clarify, but at three in the morning, my time, my ability to proofread nosedives.

      Call the world if you Please "The vale of Soul-making" Then you will find out the use of the world. - Keats

      by republican with a small r on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:14:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Excellent. Beliefs in the supernatural... (none)
      ...which by definition cannot be proven, and the religions which have organized these beliefs (in all their many forms all over the world throughout history) have existed and persisted not because they make sense but BECAUSE THEY SERVE IMPORTANT FUNCTIONS. In addition to the points you make about how religions are incredibly useful for rulers, religious beliefs provide hope, comfort and stability to the followers, the vast majority of whom had nothing even close to the level of education and comfortable lifestyle most of us enjoy today.

      "Mr. McClellan, don't the American people deserve better than this 'orange jumpsuit' ethics policy?"

      GOP = Guilty of Perjury

      Edwards/Clark 2008

      by MeanBoneII on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 01:46:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The utility of senseless nonsense (none)
        I concentrated on the benefits to rulers because they need a religion that makes no sense in order to serve as a marker for tribal/group identity. And one of the three points/reasons being made in the Diary for being an atheist was that religions make no sense.

        As far as the "faithful" followers are concerned, as long as the religion offers a means of creating an identity that transcending mortality, they couldn't care less how rational or irrational the religion as a whole might be.  They might even prefer something plausible.

        To recap:
        The utility of a religion for its followers, i.e., increase in hope,comfort and stability is not predicated on the amount of nonsense in the religion.

        The utility of a religion for its rulers is predicated in the amount of senseless nonsense.

        Call the world if you Please "The vale of Soul-making" Then you will find out the use of the world. - Keats

        by republican with a small r on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 02:09:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Right. The followers aren't concerned about... (none)
          ...whether what they believe makes sense. They want what they believe to make dealing with their (often miserable) lives easier, and to feel they are a part of something bigger, as you point out. And for the rulers, the harder the beliefs are to disprove, the better, because they use the beliefs to maintain control.

          The religions that survive are those that are least falsifiable when challenged (the more supernatural hoo-ha, the better) and also most appealing (easiest to sell) to followers, containing beliefs that provide hope and comfort and a sense of significance -- and what could do that better than immortality?

          The reasons why a critical-thinking person lying in a warm bed next to plenty of science books on the shelf would not believe in religions are the same reasons those religions survived, even flourished, under far less ideal circumstances.

          "Mr. McClellan, don't the American people deserve better than this 'orange jumpsuit' ethics policy?"

          GOP = Guilty of Perjury

          Edwards/Clark 2008

          by MeanBoneII on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 03:08:24 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  It's too late - I'm making dumb mistakes (none)
      It's the muezzins who climb the minarets and cry out -- not imans.

      Call the world if you Please "The vale of Soul-making" Then you will find out the use of the world. - Keats

      by republican with a small r on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 01:48:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Natural selection. (none)
      It's true that natural selection selects for religions which encourage a high birth rate, reward joining, penalize leaving, and indoctrinate their children.

      So, unfortunately, fundamentalists have some major evolutionary advantages.

      One of our survival advantages, however, is our rationality and empiricism -- a better understanding of the world allows us to make choices which will have results close to what we desire, whereas the fundamentalists always get quite different results from what they're consciously aiming for.  This should allow us to have a lower death rate, which is also selected for by natural selection.

  •  It is too bad (none)
    that there is such a wealth of snarky crap in the threads of what is an impressive diary. The message to people of faith should be that this person is an atheist and here is why. He's not telling them to STOP BELIEVING. He IS saying that there are reasons for his belief system and where it has lead him. He also explains what he thinks of people of faith. He thinks their views/beliefs are evidence of some flawed thinking or know thinking at all. Most of us could say the exact same thing about Republicans. And Republicans can say the same of us. People of faith may think DarkSyde is using flawed thinking. It is a simple disagreement. I don't know DarkSyde, but I agree with his diary.
    •  no he's not telling anyone to stop believing (none)
      he's saying the act of believing is infantile and crazy.

      i guess there's a difference there somewhere.

      "go ahead.  i won't tell you what you can and can't do. i fully respect your right to keep doing your infantile and crazy thing."

      you know.  seriously.   that could be a compliment.  

      seal says we're never gonna survive unless we get a little crazy.  and gosh.  i love kids.

      who knows?  maybe it is a compliment.

      maybe i've just been looking at the diary in the totally wrong light.

      "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

      by BiminiCat on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:14:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  wow, you're a moron about this, too (2.50)
        at least you present a complete package.
      •  Well, you know, (none)
        it's not such a stretch. "Well, fine, go on believing that crazy stupid thing, then." I mean, don't we all say this? We here probably all say it about Republicans. I personally also say it about Yankees fans. And people that think the Rolling Stones were better than the Beatles. :-)

        So, why does it only become a big brouhaha when an atheist says it of a believer?

        Shit, there's few people I love and respect more than my Dad (and it's his birthday today <G>) but I tell him to his face all the time that he's a brainwashed Fox-watching Republican sheep.

        Hey, I'm a lifelong Red Sox fan. And, prior to last year, that was the very definition of deluded irrationality--and masochistic deluded irrationality at that. :-). I mean, hello--I chose to put an emotional investment in a team that, up until last year, made me beat my head against a wall every autumn. You want to call that stupid and irrational and infantile? Go right ahead--it is. Like George Carlin says, I was driving myself crazy rooting for laundry. And that was the lot of the Red Sox fan for 86 years. And we knew it's stupid and irrational and all that. Cubs fans still know it :-).

        So, yeah, believe what the hell you want--but the idea of Christianity makes me react the same way working-class people voting Republican makes me react: "You know this shit makes no sense, right?"

        "Don't call yourself religious, not with that blood on your hands"--Little Steven Van Zandt

        by ChurchofBruce on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:16:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  interesting analogy (none)
          but you know.... the red sox fan thinks a yankee fan is a wimp cause their ... allegiance... is never tested.

          up until the last few years, anyway.

          "You know this shit makes no sense, right?"

          as long as you know you're saying such a thing out of respect and love...  if you call your father a sheep out of love, then i think there's a TRUST there that he, at least knows, you're not being contemptuous of him, you're being contemptuous of the values he votes for and listens to when he's listening to FNC.

          if that trust is not there, then it's more often than not virtually impossible to see that kind of difference.

          "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

          by BiminiCat on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 11:18:08 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Of course I can't speak for DS (none)
        but I think what he's saying is the act of believing is infantile and crazy to him.
  •  The timing of your two-part story (4.00)
    coincided with me finally, after possessing it for more than eight years Harlan Ellison's "Deathbird Stories". Tales from the "new pantheon of gods". Excellent short stories.

    But the final story, "The Deathbird" blew me away. Although holding onto the idea of an actual god, Adam, and serpent in the beginning, its fictional truth makes more sense to me than the phrase that always sets my teeth on edge, "It's god's will." At least Ellison made sense of the origins of that will in his short story gift to Mark Twain.

    I was raised in a religious household and became agnostic in my teens. Finally, I realized I was an atheist, much to the dismay of many family members. I simply did not believe. I had a sense of faith when I was young, but lost it along the way with gained knowledge.

    People tend not to bother me about my atheism because it hardly ever comes up. Because of my religious upbringing I have an in-bred tolerance for its rituals and view them as such. Some people have a need for religion in their lives. It becomes a problem if people want me to adopt their beliefs as my own or penalize me for declining to. So far it has not been a problem for me. It saddens me to read that it has been for others.

    I also have a fascination with the subject of religions, along with a fascination with the supernatural, origins of superstitions and the like. In my worldview they occupy the same genre. It's because of this fascination that I came to respect the need some people have for religion, but not respect the inherent prejudices some hold for others not practicing their particular brand of religion.

    Having said that, I do not respect in any way Religion, Inc..

    Faith is a private thing. A thing to be shared with others for the purpose of sharing, but it is essentially a private concern; a special bond between the believer and their god(s).

    Religion, Inc. is determined to make this a public thing. A political thing. A mandatory thing. And has throughout the course of history. I despise Religion, Inc..  I despise its power and the ways it uses and abuses that power in the name of people of faith.

    If a person has true faith, they will be immune to criticism of their faith and the questioning of its existence. It will just be. Like the sun in the sky. It's their truth. I respect that. More good has come from individuals of faith than all the executives of Religion,Inc..  

    My grandmother had that kind of true faith. And all the people who tried to disabuse her of it were met with a sad smile and the maddening inner peace she possessed because she believed, and nothing anyone said or did would change her truth. Not the murder of one of her daughters, not the screaming of the alcoholics and drug abusers against her god when she strove to help them. She drove me crazy, but I respected her conviction and admired the way she practiced her faith.

    So while I'm an atheist I do understand the need some or most people have for religion. Although some of us don't need a reason for how things are, some do. For me it doesn't make them weaker or stupid. Just different. Kind of like how I'm different from them. I respect those differences. I have never tried to inflict my atheism on others and demand the same courtesy for myself. Individuals may understand that concept, but Religion, Inc. would rather see me dead or reprogrammed.

    Religion Inc. is kind of like the US government. Some of us are appalled by the things done in the name of America. I can't help feeling a certain percentage of believers feel the same way about the power brokers of their religions. I'll judge based on the way the individual practices their faith and hold their leaders in contempt and responsible for the things done in their names.  

    A person of true faith would be saddened by my beliefs, but would be secure enough of their own beliefs not to be threatened by it. My grandmother was. My mother isn't. Guess who's faith I respect the most?

    Sorry for the length. Excellent series, DS.

    "As you get older, you get less willing to buy the latest version of reality." Leonard Cohen

    by mentaldebris on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:04:20 AM PST

  •  DarkSyde, (none)
    your first paragraph brought to mind something that occurred to me initially, when I was nine years old. (The earliest age at which I can remember having that internal debate which convinced me of the nonexistence of God.) I hadn't really thought about it much for decades.
    My nine year olds' thought was this, I could not imagine anyone having a better reason for being a conscientious objector, than an Atheist. (I'd just discovered that, one could be a "conscientious objector", from watching a rerun of that old Gary Cooper movie.) I mean it seemed obvious to me that, anyone who felt that you only had this mind-bogglingly evanescent span, compared to people who thought they would exist for eternity, would consider life to be infinitely more precious.
    Now you've made me think of it again, and it still seems to make sense.

    "We have too many high-sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them." Abigail Adams 1764

    by greeseyparrot on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:11:01 AM PST

  •  Here's what I told Crypsis in his diary of respons (4.00)
    I'm not at any rung on any ladder.

    I simply see the world, naturalistically as it is, and make what I consider (per Occam's Razor) to be the most empirically supported and logically deduced conclusions.

    If you or others want to put a label of "atheist" on my, that's fine.

    As for the idea that life is "purposeless," that's bullshit.

    You give your life whatever purpose it has.

    As for the implication that atheism is "intellectual only," that too is bullshit. I can send you atheistic poetry and essays, including a newspaper column of mine about just what is humanistic about being an atheist.

    "There is no god, and I am his prophet." SocraticGadfly

    by steverino on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 12:20:09 AM PST

  •  Bingo! (none)
    Lovely lovely lovely.  IMO you nailed it.

    This essay is a keeper.  Thank you.

  •  Hail DarkSyde! (none)
    As a fellow atheist, I salute you!

    I'd like to stick around here and argue some more, but that's 'against my religion'...

    Have you ever noticed that every wingnut has a boogeyman?

    by glenstonecottage on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 01:06:52 AM PST

  •  I'm Not An Athiest (4.00)
    In fact, I'm a very religious person.  As a Wiccan High Priest, I have led church services (ok, it for a couple of UU churches, but...), performed weddings, blessed babies, and many other things.  

    And I enjoyed this diary.

    Of course, I belong to a faith that doesn't have much of the baggage alluded to in the above piece.    No all-good God who seems to get his jollies punishing people for behaving the way he made them, no "I'm a man-I'm not a man-ok maybe a man-I was the son of but now I'm God"-type Mandrake the Magician moves, no "this compilation of myths and philosophies is absolute truth so PLEASE don't find all of the inconsistancies or I'll have to make up some lame excuse"-type books.  My Gods are the Gods of nature, and the greatest supernatural thing I can ever point to is a plant growing from a seed, that eventually drops it's own seeds and continues the cycle all over again.  Just the fact that this bag of minerals and chemicals I call a body functions as good as it does is a miracle for me, and I find a lot of spiritual satisfaction in just that.

    Your post pointed out something that pisses me off about too many other people of faith...their complete intellectual laziness!  Folks, take it from me, it doesn't take much effort to reconcile science and spirituality.  Well, that is, so long as you're not making absolutist claims about the nature of reality.  The time for "this religion has it ALL worked out" has passed us by.  The concept of the exclusivity of anything has been killed, shot through the heart by the mind-blowing copncepts of modern science.  As Svengali said, the world is not only more mysterious than we imagine, it's more mysterious than we can imagine!  Put away the torches, Nuremberg,...the war with science is one you'll lose, because sooner or later those of us who don't know and are comfortable not knowing will team up with those who have a clue to bounce your collective asses back into the middle ages, and you're kids will be too embarassed to ever follow in your footsteps.

    You may scoff at my Wiccan beliefs and say that I'm just like all the rest, that I can't prove a single one of my religious beliefs.  You're right, I can't prove a damn thing.  And neither can you.  The big differance between me and others who claim "faith" is that I feel absolutely no threat from you or other Athiests.  I don't claim absolute truth, and so I have nothing to fear from those whose truth is different from my own.  I have no need to convert you, preach to you, or even feel superior to you.  My faith is a personal thing, from personal experiences, and doesn't have to rest on some dusty book or terrified defensive position.  I actually like many Athiests I've known, because they're strong, self-assured personalities (one almost has to be, to be an admitted Athiest in our culture) who tend to give a damn about how others are treated.

    Too much cruelty is excused in the world, and I think it's partially because of how some people see God as the sky-bully.  "Oh, the people who comitted this atrocity will pay!" I hear some say while watching the news.  But our government doesn't do squat, and these people vowing revenge do equally squat to try to make something happen.  That's because they were raised with the idea that God will "punish" the "evil-doers".  When it comes down to what we do to one another, I actually believe that God doesn't give a shit.  I believe that we're here to learn things, and we can learn from having horrible things happen to us just as well as nice things.  I believe, ultimately, that it's up to us how we treat other people, and that if we want things to get better we have to get up off our asses and make it happen.  God's not going to make it happen.  It's up to us.

    I found myself agreeing with a great deal of what you said, but my end result is different.  Instead of athiest, I'm Wiccan.  But I'm one religious person who refuses to intellectually lobotomize myself.

    Rock on, DarkSyde!

  •  Excellent, just excellent (none)
    There's not a single thing in this diary entry that I would take issue with or disagree with. Very succint, very clear, very simple. At times I've been pressed to expound on my own lack of belief and have always resorted to quite a bit more hostility and profanity, and I commend you for being able to address the same tired arguments with the poise you managed.

    Religion does not cure disease or search the stars...historically, it has even sought to hinder those who make such pursuits. For thousands of years the human race has been caught up in childish, superstitious fables that have preventd us from achieving the beauty we're capable of. It's hard to imagine a day will come when most of us will grow up, faced with thousands of years of people who were utterly unable to. Oh well, keep on truckin', I guess!

    Pointing out that I am not, in fact, clever at all, is neither original nor clever.

    by Not Clever At All on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 01:32:57 AM PST

    •  atheists sure are touchy (none)
      ...and before anyone starts, I'm agnostic.  But damn, you people are touchy.  

      First of all, it's a complete twisting of semantics and logic to say that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."  The fact, as everyone should know if they stop and think about it and try not to let fear of something new get in the way, is that the only evidence required for any claim is only as much as is required to support it.  Never mind the complete subjectivity and relativity of the term "extraordinary" -- no one should have to prove something "extra hard" just because it involves extraterrestrial life or ESP -- or God.  Evidence is evidence, and it's either empirical and/or replicable or it's not.  

      I think the problem with the atheistic argument isn't in its defense, but in its blanket generalizations inherent in its offense.  It bugs me when someone says that religion never did anything good for us -- never helped us advance or cure disease, but often holds us back in those regards.  Not to say they are wrong.  But it is obvious that in the context of this discussion people are conflating religion with faith or spirituality.  Religion is an organizing force around which principles of faith and spirituality are codified and supported -- and in most cases strongly enforced.  And religion for the most part really sucks, because the most stringent rule makers of the bunch tend to subvert the spirit and the faith they purport to uphold.  Fundies are a prime example, in any religion.  

      But could you say that a shamanic healer isn't doing good, if he actually heals and is not one of those medicine man hoaxers?  He cures disease, and he helps his community advance.  Accordingly, faith in and of itself in a supernatural force or higher power is not bad, backwards, small-minded, or binding.  To assume it is misses the whole point, and reduces the atheist's argument to meaninglessness.  

  •  Who are you to speak for Christians (none)
    like me? The "arguments" of yours are in nearly every case based on premises about God or Jesus that I don't share.

    Two quick examples:

    Your account of the biblical myth (yes, myth) of paradise and the problem of evil is grossly simplified. Perhaps a 5 year old would hold the position you claim that all Christians do.

    The resurrection of the soul is not a Christian doctrine but a gnostic one. Christians believe in the resurrection of the body (in heaven) and hence your discussion about lost identity is pointless.

    GOP: 17th century values, 21st century marketing.

    by Joe B on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 01:45:04 AM PST

  •  Why Atheists Won't Go to Hell (none)
    This is my first post. Please don't flame me.

    I'm an atheist. Many reactionaries out there believe that I will go to hell because I do not share their faith in God.

    I ask: why should I go to hell because of the failure of others to convert me to their belief system?

    If I was alone in the world, I probably would never have thought up the idea of God on my own. My guess is that I'd be too busy trying to find food and figure out a way to wipe myself in a pre-toilet paper era. Let's be honest, you need to establish a minimal standard of living before you have the luxury to even think about where you came from, why you are here, if there is an afterlife, etc.

    Of course, I don't live alone. I first heard about religion from people--other people, not my parents. I quickly learned that for said reasons, I will burn in Hell unless I change my beliefs. Although the consequences are rather high, this failed to convince me that I am wrong. (I am not, however, convinced that I am right about anything).

    On the other hand, I certainly could be convinced that God existed. For example, he could suddenly materialize in my apartment and introduce himself. That, as an example, would certainly convince me of his existence. (Of course, if this happened, most people would probably say that this is proof of my lack of sanity, but that should be debated elsewhere)

    In short, throughout my life, no deist--Christian or otherwise--has been able to convince me of anything. Assuming that I remain unconvinced, I once again ask: why should I burn in hell because other people failed to convince me of this? Even if there is a God (who doesn't talk to me personally), why should I burn for what is essentially the failure of others?

    Now, like I said, I am an atheist, so I'm pretty sure about my beliefs GIVEN all of my experiences from birth up until now; however, as an intelligent person, I realize that I MUST be able to change these beliefs if offerred sufficiently convincing evidence that I have been wrong.

    ---

    Finally, I must ask one question. Please don't consider this flamebait, because I am honestly curious.

    First, let me state that even as an atheist, I certainly believe a man named Jesus existed, claimed to be the son of God, challenged the Romans on many princples, and was put to death as a result. Obviously, I don't believe that he actually was the son of God, and the whole resurrection story.  

    Based on what I know about the story of Jesus, he was crucified by the Romans. However, I don't know of anyone who actually blames the Romans for his death. Either, Jesus chose to die himself (yet, his death is not typically described as a "suicide", in the same sense as "suicide by cop"), or the Jewish folk get the blame for standing by idly and/or encouraging it. Why is this?

    Let's be honest, if someone was going to be publicly executed today, there would be a large contingent of people saying "Don't Do It!!!" Wouldn't this contingent have existed then too? And if so, wouldn't they at least be recognized and respected today by most major religions? I mean, if I actually did believe in God, I certainly wouldn't advocate the killing of his son (or daughter), even if the goal was to eliminate my sins!

    [I apologize for tying two unrelated posts together]

  •  "It makes no sense" (none)
    The "it makes no sense" bit reminds me of this scene from an episode of Firefly--great stuff. A little context for those who don't know--River is an idiot-savant of sorts (though not by birth), whereas Shepard Book is a lay preacher.

    River sitting at dining table. Book's Bible is open in front of her, and she's scribbling into it, crossing out words, writing in the margins. Book walks in, sees her.

    BOOK: What are we up to, sweetheart?
    RIVER: Fixing your Bible.
    BOOK: I--uh-- What?
    RIVER: Bible's broken. Contradictions, faulty logistics--it doesn't make sense...

    Book finally sees what she's doing. His Bible's all fucked up, and there's a small stack of torn out pages next to it..

    BOOK: No, no, you can't...

    River still scribbling and muttering to herself...

    RIVER: So we'll integrate non-progressional evolution theory with God's creation of Eden -- eleven inherent metaphoric parallels already there... eleven, important number, prime number, one goes into the house of eleven eleven times but always comes out one--
    BOOK: River, just take it easy. You shouldn't--
    RIVER: Noah's Ark is a problem--
    BOOK: Really.
    RIVER: (nodding) We'll have to call it early quantum state phenomenon-- Only way to fit five-thousand species of mammal on the same boat- (tears the page out of the book)
    BOOK: Gimme that!

    Book snatches Bible.
    BOOK (cont'd): River! You don't fix the Bible!

    River looks up at him..

    RIVER: (holds up torn out pages) It's broken. It doesn't make sense.

    BOOK: It’s not about making sense. It’s about believing in something, and letting that belief be real enough to change your life. It’s about ‘faith’.  
    You don’t fix faith, River. It fixes you.

  •  Well said DS (none)
    A very well thought out illumination of the atheist position including the 'belief' in human potential which is something we share.  However, the responses on this thread give you some idea of what sort of reaction one might receive for this position from the general (believing) public. I, like you, believe that as rational being that our species can do all that it is possible to do.  We came from the stars and our ultimate home should be among them.  At the same time I see the anger that that position generates here, where presumably religious fundamentalism is not common and I have to wonder, how likely is it that we will make it to that future without destroying ourselves?  We have the worst of both worlds.  An advanced technology and the desire  and ability to use it for the destruction of those who don't agree with our theology.  When I lift my eyes to the future I see a place where the shadows reign.  Perhaps there is light there somewhere and it is simply the length of my vision that fails.  I guess we'll see.

    Here in the mouth of madness one thing is terribly clear...madness does not floss

    by Thameron on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 02:55:11 AM PST

  •  It doesn't sound like you're an atheist (4.00)
    It sounds like you're an agnostic who hates being forced to talk about this stuff by pushy religious folks.

    To be an athiest takes more work than most people care for.  It's an overused word.  I mean, nobody really believes you can disprove the existence of God, do they?  It's a nonsensical problem.  

    So, what many people do is live lives where God or theism has no part.  I think this is a wonderful approach.  But--and here's the problem I think--some people like to try to force theism into the agnostic lives of others, and that can be annoying as hell.

    Ahh, but it's not just religious folks who do this.  Ever met an Amway salesperson?  Obsession and pushiness is not the exclusive terrain of the religious.

    If you're an atheist, however--if you truly are--then its up to you to provide that proof.  I mean, if I walk up to you and say "Prove you didn't just rob a bank," that doesn't make you a thief.  

    And that's just it.  Who's going to waste their time 'proving' that God does not exist.  We'd rather spend time talking about what does exist.

    And on that note, I think it's perfectly reasonable in today's day and age to be annoyed--as an agnostic--by all the pushy religious folks in this country.  But not to demand they prove stuff.

    I once spent a year living in Jerusalem and there were many pushy Jews and Christians there.  It did get tiring.

    But then I realized that it was also interesting.  I could be an agnostic and still learn a great deal from these people who saw the world so differently than me, but who shared the same city.

    The only real problem, I grew to realize, is a world where belief or understanding is governed only by one set of rules.

    And that is the challenge, it seems to me:  not finding the answer to an impossible proof, but learning to live and appreciate people who see turtles all the way down, when we don't see turtles at all.

  •  One distinction... (none)
    Most people treat atheism as if it had only one dimension -- namely, belief in the improbability or impossibility of the existence of God.

    But there's a second, equally important dimension:  Would an actually existing God be personally relevant?
    In other words:

    • If God came down from the sky with a set of tablets and submitted to whatever set of tests we cared to devise, to establish that yes, this really is God -- would you feel compelled to obey whatever commandments were written on those tablets? Or would you continue to live according to your own personal sense of what's right and wrong?

    • If you were presented with absolute, incontrovertible proof of the existence of Heaven, along with the conditions for getting into it, would you try to meet those conditions even if they seemed nonsensical or even immoral?

    • If an angel appeared before you, like the one who appeared before Abraham, and told you that God required the sacrifice of your only child, would you obey?

    • If you did believe in God and knew for certain that he/she loved certain people more than others, would you treat those people any differently?



    I know this isn't the official definition, but my sense is that for most of those who call themselves agnostics, the personal relevance of God is conditional on God's existence; while for those who call themselves atheists, God's lack of personal relevance is absolute.

    (And for BiminiCat, God is personally relevant in spite of being nonexistent.)

    •  oooh, another beaut (none)
      two in a row! it pays to read all the way down :)

      Is nothing secular?

      by aitchdee on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 04:25:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Note that I'm not saying (none)
      that God is, or would be, immoral.

      Just that, if you're not prepared to take the will of God into account even if it doesn't conveniently agree with your own preexisting morals, then God has no personal relevance to you.

      And I think it's possible to be an atheist in that sense irrespective of one's belief in the existence or nonexistence of God.

    •  From a non-theist (none)
      "If God came down from the sky with a set of tablets and submitted to whatever set of tests we cared to devise, to establish that yes, this really is God -- would you feel compelled to obey whatever commandments were written on those tablets? Or would you continue to live according to your own personal sense of what's right and wrong?"

      That depends of the definition of God.  :-)
      If God somehow proved that s/he was always right -- or at any rate right more often than me -- then, yes, I would feel compelled.

      Or if God proved that s/he could and would destroy anyone who didn't obey -- then I would feel compelled, but really ticked off about living in a dictatorship.

      If God didn't have either of those attributes, then God would not be worthy of being obeyed, and it would be safe enough to disobey him/her, even if he/she proved (for instance) that he/she created the universe.

      "If you were presented with absolute, incontrovertible proof of the existence of Heaven, along with the conditions for getting into it, would you try to meet those conditions even if they seemed nonsensical or even immoral?"

      Assume for the sake of discussion that Heaven is defined to be a place where I would be eternally happy and fulfilled in every way.  Then I'd probably try to meet the conditions -- unless I decided that it was too immoral (would make too many other people unhappy) to do so.

      If Heaven is defined to be less heavenly, then maybe not.

      "If an angel appeared before you, like the one who appeared before Abraham, and told you that God required the sacrifice of your only child, would you obey?"

      I'd ask for the angel's ID and proof that he represented God, and I'd require an explanation of why God required it.  Everyone deserves an explanation.

      "If you did believe in God and knew for certain that he/she loved certain people more than others, would you treat those people any differently?"

      Again, depends on the definition of God.  This one is pretty complicated and depends on God's powers, personality, and behavior.

      •  Out of curiosity (none)
        Do you consider yourself an atheist, agnostic, or something else?

        And do you think your answers to these questions are relevant to that distinction?

        •  Long answer. (none)
          I consider myself an agnostic atheist.  But mostly a believer in the power of empiricism and rationalism (which really blow me away, when I think about how limited the assumptions are and what results they've achieved).  Emotionally, I am swayed by pantheism and find the numinous deeply interesting.  I find deism plausible but rarely relevant
  •  Again, very good diary! (none)
    IMHO Darksyde, I think you need to write a book or two. The way you convey your message is simply awesome. I say that because I can relate and understand everything you have written and I think it would help alot of people who don't understand get a sense of what its like to be an atheist.

    Again, great diary. Hopefully some people will walk away with a better understanding and a little less hostility of athests.

  •  Thanks for your stories, Darksyde (4.00)
    I grew up a Catholic, and then became disillusioned after reading its histories, and took a "tour" of other man-made religions.   Atheism was a bit too cold and dry for me.  I finally settled on Agnostic-Pantheist.

    My problem with most of the world religions is that they are so human- conceited.  All the God-books have Man as being created in "God's Image" or the Earth is the "Center of the Universe" and human beings are the Great Stewards. ( Men of course, not us lowly women).   Like we're all so important and knowledgeable.   Like the universe would just come to an end if we kill ourselves off.  One would think that after all these years of studying the earth and the universe, that we would be a little more humbled and respectful.

    I prefer the Agnostic-Pantheist view to Atheism because I find Atheism almost as conceited as the Theisim.  At least Agnostics admit the possibility that the human mind may not have to ability comprehend the vastness of the universe.  Sorry if that sounds New-Agey.  But do you really think that our very limited experiences of life on this tiny planet give us even a fraction of the knowledge of the Universe?  Geez... it was only a few centuries ago that people still thought the sun went around the earth.  Now, it seems, we know that "God" exists absolutely, or not.  

    Another thing about pure Atheism that bothers me - is it's just too... simple and dry.   Like what is the purpose of groups of atoms reacting with each other?  For no other reason then because they exist?  They just combine and react and create things for no reason?  What about us here - groups of atoms discussing the meaning of their existence with other groups of atoms through objects created by another group of atoms.  What is the purely "scientific" explanation for this?  Why should my atoms care what your atoms think?  Isn't there some kind of unexplained "connection" going on?  Something beyond simple chemical reactions?  I just don't think everything can be explained by science.

    •  Science... (none)
      "what is the purpose of groups of atoms reacting with each other?  For no other reason then because they exist?  They just combine and react and create things for no reason?"

      Well, personally, yes, that's what I think.  I've seen no compelling evidence for a purpose.

      Science gave up long ago on trying to find 'purposes' for anything which wasn't constructed by a living creature, because it became evident that it was simply impossible to test whether that was the 'purpose' or not.  Science ignores untestable hypotheses.  Yes, this leaves plenty of room for other, non-scientific disciplines.

      "I just don't think everything can be explained by science."

      Certainly science cannot explain everything (at least not right now, and why should I believe that would change?).  My claim (though not that of all of 'science') is that if an explanation has held up through the rigorous skepticism of the scientific process, then that explanation is more close to definitely correct than anything else you'll ever see.  In other words, all other forms of knowledge are less certain than scientific knowledge.

    •  the purposeless-driven life ;-) (none)
      I think you're onto something.  A lot of people need to believe they have a purpose.  I suspect this, even more than life after death, moral certitude, god's love, etc., is what people are looking for in religion.  

      I guess I'm just used to being purposeless, since I was raised this way.  ;-)

      I do believe that the universe is more mysterious than we can understand.  But I don't see anything mystical or supernatural about that.  We're animals that have been hard-wired by millions of years of evolution, then programmed by our societes.  Our hardware and software inevitably colors our perception of reality.  And science is not immune.  Stephen J. Gould often wrote about this issue.  

      "Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist." - Kenneth Boulding

      by randym77 on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 03:35:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  a bit about reincarnation and Buddhism (none)
    Buddhism has this unusual - to a Westerner- dialectice between a "reincarnation" - or rebirth- and anatman, which means the self is insubstantial, there is no soul, it is merely a convention by which we view our bodies and minds.( I use "convention" in the sense that we use base 10 in our "head" arithmetic and binary arithmetic in our computers by convention)

    In DarkSyde's language, it makes no sense, and seen in the way he's phrased it, he's 100% right, and in fact there are some Buddhists who insist on something like a "literal" reincarnation of personalities; it seems to be a Tibetan thing.

    But there's actually a way to understand both without resort to - what I as a Buddhist- might agree crosses over into "mumbo-jumbo." It has to do with what is commonly called "karma," but perhaps as rendered "interdependence," one can better strip the phenomena of cause and effect from its New Agey connotations and consequent - negative actions, karma, what-not, etc. arising from it's consideration. ("Ooooh, that's gonna give you bad karma, dude!")

    Interdependence - or karma- means that a sequence of actions played out reverberates through the actions of those affected by the action (which has no "origin," other than the coexistence and interplay of greed, hatred, ignorance, generosity, compassion, and wisdom). You can demonstrate this fairly easily, if you're mindful.

    Thus "our" actions and causes are continually "reborn" as this dance of cause and effect endlessly play out; the good news is that "we" when "we" are mindful have some degree of control to actually make things better.

    We can't demonstrate that Aunt Emma has become a chicken in "her next life," but we can demonstrate that the chicken consumed by Aunt Emma has been incorporated into her, has become what we know of as "her."

    Hope that clears things up; that is, there is a view of "karma" and "rebirth" that is indeed intellectually defensible to the nontheist (and at least one that is not.)

    "It's better to realize you're a swan than to live life as a disgruntled duck."

    by Mumon on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 04:22:27 AM PST

  •  Thank you, DS, your writing puts mine to shame: (none)
    Because if atheism is a religion, then not collecting stamps is a hobby and baldness is a hair color.

    It took me over a hundred words to try (and yet fail) to say the above sentence.

    Thanks for your excellent writing.

    Many kossaks are probably saying "we're tired of this discussion of religion:, but the fact is, we atheists represent a tiny minority, and if this is what it takes to raise awareness politically wrt religion/atheism(non-religion) in society, then you do a great service for our community.

    The humanity of your views resonates with me. It is seen as ironic that some of the great humanitarians are atheists (and, of course, many of them are devoutly religious), but that in itself is reason for us to speak out.

    "It is no longer possible to ignore the strangeness of our public discourse." - Al Gore

    by klevenstein on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 04:31:12 AM PST

  •  Science vs religious ideology (none)
    As an atheist, if I have faith in anything, it is science.  Scientists look forward, looking for answers whereas most religions think they already have the answers.  One thing that keeps popping into my mind.  That is, why are religious fundamentalists so adamant about their opposition to science and especially stem cell research.  This is what I believe:  That one day scientists will be able to create life from inanimate matter, thus showing that there was no "creator," that life is a natural occurrence under the right conditions.  If and when this happens, I can't begin to fathom what the consequences will be.  

    I agree with DarkSyde and I wish people would stop hiding their hatred, bigotry and intolerance behind a being that I believe doesn't exist.  If the omnipotent God is a God of love and Jesus is the Prince of Peace as so many proclaim, then why is there so much hatred in the world?  Why are there so many wars fought in the name of religious ideology.  For me, there is only one answer.  There is no God.

    If science proves facts that conflict with Buddhist understanding, Buddhism must change accordingly. " - The Dalai Lama

    by LynChi on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 04:34:49 AM PST

    •  'Faith' in science is not like religious faith (none)
      More importantly, science has as one of its core principles, that its theories must change
      to match observed reality.  And as a related principle, that we must be careful to verify that a theory's predictions are better than what would happen by mere chance (since human brains are really extremely good at coming up with theories, but most of them are either wrong or about as good as coin-flipping).

      You could say that I have 'faith' that the theories which survive that kind of harsh skepticism are good theories.  That is an entirely different beast from having 'faith' in a set of written doctrines which don't survive that kind of skepticism.

  •  Is it possible to be (none)
    an "I-dont-carist"? I think about whether or not there's a god about as much as I wonder about how to make a great cherry pie, which is not very much since I don't like pie and hate to cook.

    People fight about their belief in god in the same way they fight about politics. Some believe, some don't.

    MLK, whose work was based in his belief in god, changed this country for the better. Millions of people worldwide protested the Iraq war and it changed nothing.

    To me, it all comes down to actions. Our institutions--religous and otherwise--are as good or as bad as their members and leaders. But even individuals who act independently are never perfect or wholely good.

  •  Why I'm an Atheist (none)
    When I was little, I asked the question, "Who made God God?" As childish an inquiry as that is, I've never found an answer that could satisfy the 6-year old me.

    Wonderful diaries both for me, reading someone else saying so well what I often think. Thanks.

  •  I Have Seen Both Sides (none)
    as a former Christian fundamentalist and now an agnostic still waiting to "come out" as an atheist.

    I wrote an article on faith and atheism on my blog entitled An Honest Inquiry in which I speculate as to why human beings have a need to believe in the supernatural. And it is a need.

    Even as my deepening atheism grows, the emotional conditioning (brainwashing) of my upbringing wants to pull me back into "that comfortable pair of old slippers".

    I am definitely comforted by the thought of seeing again those who preceded me in death and my own consciousness surviving death. But then I have to deal with "the judgement and fire and brimstone stuff" and that unnecessarily adversely affects my enjoyment of this life, the only life we know we have.

    I think part of the reason I do not journey to full atheism is despite the fact we cannot prove the existence of another existence does not mean that other realm of existence does not exist.

    The agnostic's creed "I just don't know".

    I like to remain open-minded and entertain the possibility their is more to reality then we can now see including the possibility our species may be "an experiment" from some super race from another physical world many light years from here - why not?

    But that does not mean I can categorically say that is the case which is DarkSyde's point - whether other realities exist is moot if we cannot prove it. It's a nice speculation, but it is only a speculation.

    And as a former Christian fundamentalist I know such Christians believe it is more then mere speculation even though they cannot prove an iota of it.

    I do not have a problem in people believing something to bring them comfort and hope. I DO have a problem in people trying to impose those beliefs on me, especially when they adversely affect my welfare and happiness.

    As I have said many times - when each of us die we will either cease to exist as a conscious entity (which means no truth will be "revealed" since we cannot relay this to those living) or our consciousness will in fact exist in another realm, a realm for some strange unknowable reason is not revealed to the living in the flesh.

    Utimately, we as humans must learn to live together, theists and atheists, and

    Live and Let Live

    Peace.

     

  •  cool gods (none)
    a long time ago, at the dawn of human consciousness, i imagine it went like this:

    "hey wilma, where the fuck are we and how did we get here?"

    "i don't know fred, but this shit is weird and kind of sucks."

    and eventually the questions were answered with the appearance of dieties. they filled in all the holes quite nicely and gave humans a tidy little plan for life, like dianetics.  

    now there are still alot of holes in our understanding of our universal predicament and god/s still fill those holes in for some people, and others are content to continue the "search for the reason why" (hat tip to rashaan roland kirk).

    my only wish is that instead of filling the holes with the same old god/s, everyone would tap their creativity and come up with their own special god/s to worship based on their personality. it would be awesome going into people's houses and seeing the cool shrines, each one with a character unique as the person who invented it.

    my theory involves a giant eternal spinning wheel (i once had a girl actually suggest to me that "god has to be the one who spins the wheel." trust me he doesn't. it's my theory and the wheel just spins, it has always just spun without the aid of god/s).  everytime anything comes into existence, it has won the cosmic lottery.  somewhere in the galaxy, balloons and confetti rain down in celebration.  so the next time you are feeling down in a state of existential crisis just think, "yeah my job sucks, but shit i won the cosmic lottery, i'm the luckiest dude ever. at least as lucky as that rock over there and that tree."

    god don't like it, and i don't either- willie mctell

    by cereal breath on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 05:02:04 AM PST

    •  Automatic Four (none)
      for all Rahsaan Roland Kirk references.

      Perhaps the most stunning musical event I ever witnessed in person was Kirk's appearance at the old Keystone Korner, 750 Vallejo (isn't funny how I remember the address of that place, all these years later) back when I lived in San Francisco.  It was just before he had that stroke in the early 1970's.  Breathtaking.  Literally.  When Kirk went into one of his "circular breathing" riffs everyone in the place -- I mean everyone -- stopped breathing and gaped in astonishment.

      I saw Kirk only one other time after that -- also at Keystone Korner -- and after his first stroke.  Even then, he was one of the best saxophonists on the planet.  True, he couldn't play three horns at once by then, only two, but he still was able to knock my socks off.  He did a riff on "Amazing Grace" with tenor sax and stritchtaphone simultaneously that lasted about 30 minutes and just brought the house down.

      Damn, I miss those days sometimes.

      I happen to agree with Darksyde about the existence of "God."  But Roland Kirk was a god in his own rite, and a muse, for all of us.

      /Aside over. We return you now to your regular progamming.

      80W-71S
      The most un-American thing you can say is, "You can't say that." -G. Keillor

      by Eddie Haskell on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 11:37:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Just so. (none)
    Human nature is to embellish the simple thing.

    Instead of our uncovered head, eyes free to see ahead and up at the stars, mankind wears funny hats that are meant to magically imbue them with the ability to hear God.

    With these god-hats on, we as a species will continue to be blind to our own potential and that of our children and our future.

    Well done DS.

    I personally dont even go where the apologists wish you to go.  

    Just like I dont fight a baseball fan on his obessively retained baseball stats, I dont DO the whole apologia, excuse, rationalization, ad nausea.  

    Thats for the True Believer (tm) and not someone who is more interested in taking off that stupid hat that keeps him from seeing the way through the beautiful forest and see the constellations in the sky for what they are.

    Just So.

    If you are wondering how you might begin to free yourself, without even really having to give up your comfortng myths (but perhaps one day your crysalys will open), try to sit quietly, alone, think about nothing, be nothing, be the moment.

  •  That's a lot of why I'm a pagan (none)
    I don't take what religion I do have very seriously, and having been a Christian, I know that there's a lot of sillier stuff out there then what few religious concepts I hold to.

    My reasonings for not being one of the major religions are very much in line with Dark's, especially when it comes to Christianity.

    Somebody really needs to tell the White House that "1984" is a cautionary tale, not a political guidebook.

    by jabbausaf on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 05:38:38 AM PST

  •  God, no God, could be a god (none)
    I think we can all agree this is a great diary, very well written and argued, whether we agree with Darksyde or not. I am enjoying reading the comments; beats listening to my co-workers talking about Weight Watchers points.

    Peace if possible, justice at any rate

    by conturnedred on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 05:41:40 AM PST

  •  What a Circle Jerk! (none)
    The silliest waste of ones and zeros I've seen in a long time.

    (most of the comments, not the diary)

    This is CLASS WAR, and the other side is winning.

    by Mr X on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 05:50:29 AM PST

  •  Comfortable Fantasies (4.00)
    I'd like to see us abandoning the childish, comforting fantasy of a world without religion, and face the cold, hard truth that religion exists and will continue to exist. Religion is a social institution that both reacts to and creates social pressures. Let's figure out who in that institution that we can work with and how we can work with them to achieve real goals, like reversing global warming, like getting universal health care, instead of obsessing about unknowable questions like "does God exist?" That's what I call being an adult.

    Pointless, incessant barking since Mon Feb 9, 2004 at 3:05:52 PM MST

    by Blue the Wild Dog on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 05:52:06 AM PST

  •  My question (none)
    How does one bring the effects of a discussion like this into politics with beneficial results?
  •  Pray and you will find God (none)
    The problem is you intellectualize Religion.  As a scientist you start with a hypothesis.  The hypothesis you started was there is no God then seek to prove it.

    How about starting with the presupposition that there is a God,  pray and search then disprove it.  Pray everyday and go to services or mass for few weeks then you can tell and convince yourself either way.

    A good reading

    FROM SOUTHERN BAPTIST TO AGNOSTIC, TO ATHEIST, TO CATHOLIC
    by Jay Damien

    http://www.chnetwork.org/...
    Agnostic to Priest
    by Fr. Ed Fride

    http://www.chnetwork.org/...

    http://www.chnetwork.org/...

    Stop Corporate Influence; buy DEMOCRACY BONDS!!! http://www.democrats.org/democracybonds.html

    by timber on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:03:00 AM PST

    •  You cant prove religion by reason (none)
      Religion is a matter of faith.

      So I challenge you to disprove religion by praying,  go to church for a few weeks,  talk to priests, ministers, etc  then have your answer.

      Stop Corporate Influence; buy DEMOCRACY BONDS!!! http://www.democrats.org/democracybonds.html

      by timber on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:18:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Faith != religion (none)
        There are religions which do not demand 'faith'; Taoism, Confucianism, some forms of Buddhism, and others.

        Personally?  I believe that faith without proof is immoral.  It's a deliberate surrendering of our brains.  It leads people to believe things which are simply wrong, and that leads them to do things which are simply wrong.

        I've prayed.  Have I ever gotten a response, other than talking to myself?  No.  Have I ever gotten a result, other than what might be expected from random chance and the way the world works?  No.

        And I'll bet neither have you.  Everyone I've met who's thought that they received answers to their prayers has turned out to be either clearly attributing their own common sense to God ("I would have done it anyway but I'm glad God agreed"), or very good at deluding themselves into thinking they have received good results when they didn't, or poor at understanding the (generally higher than you'd think) probability of things happening by random chance, or all of the above.

        I've talked to priests and ministers, and some of them have very good and deep understandings of ethical and philosophical issues.  Others don't.  It seems to have little or nothing to do with the 'faith' per se.  If anything the matters where they have 'faith' are the matters where their ethical views are most off-base and disconnected from reality.

        The social and ceremonial aspects of religion are great and valuable, but again have nothing to do with 'faith'.

        The Bible is a lovely piece of literature, but it's internally inconsistent, and treating it as anything other than a collection of stories, poems, and parables is really untenable for anyone who's studied it seriously.

        'Faith' is a problem.  'Faith' as used by most Christians means believing in things which they have no evidence for, or even which they have strong evidence against.

        I have faith (in the ordinary sense) in things which I have seen a great deal of evidence for -- the sun will rise in the morning, my wife will continue to have the same personality she did yesterday, my parents will continue to love me as they have for all my life, etc.

        Faith without proof is a recipe for believing arbitrary things even with masses of evidence against them; and if your beliefs drive your actions, believing things which don't match reality is a recipe for actions which won't get the results you want.  There's an easy-to-find
        essay online entitled "Is Blind Faith Immoral?" -- well, I would answer "yes".

        This is not to bash religion as a whole, which has many good aspects (community, tradition, ceremony, sometimes ethics and philosophy).  Only 'faith'.  None of the rest of it depends on 'faith'.

    •  but I'm not looking for god (none)
      I don't have a hypothesis that there is no god. If I did, I think I'd need an infinite number of similar hypotheses for every mythical "thing" that humans have invented, or will possibly invent in the future.
    •  I accept the existence of religion (none)
      ...but not God.

      Religion, like anger or humor or patriotism, is a brain-state achievable by human beings.  Prayer is one way of getting there.  So is dancing, certain drugs, etc.

      I accept that it exists independently of God and has its uses.  

      My personal hypothesis is that it's an accidental byproduct of how the brain works.  (In fact, I suspect it's the human manifestation of the mammalian "surrender reflex.")

      The human mind works because it's a series of interlocking subsystems which continuously pass data back and forth, refining and reforming in turn with a series of rough drafts.

      In short, the mind is a committee.

      Religion functions like the committee member who's continously bringing the discussion back on track, ruling certain tangents out of order.  If you've got disruptive committee members who keep cracking jokes, etc. it can be--um--a Godsend.

      It works for getting the immediate problem solved within a rigid framework, but it can impede the process of creating new ideas, and it's no damned good at all for examining whether the framework you're using is still contributing positively.

      I could lay in a track of religious programming alongside what I'm using now, sure.  I'm just not convinced that it would make a positive difference.

      And it's damned hard to uninstall.

      Rubus Eradicandus Est.

      by Randomfactor on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 10:24:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  AAAA anniversary today (none)
    today Nov 16 is the 80th anniversary of the American Association for the Advancement of Atheism.

    Their website is down right now (maybe we crashed it?) and they haven't been too active in recent years but supposedly they are having a comeback after a dormant period.

    I just thought it was a cool coincidence that we are having this serious discussion on dKos on the anniversary of the founding of the first US group created to support and defend the interests of atheists.

    Maybe DarkSyde picked this date on purpose?

    Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:05:43 AM PST

  •  These have been excellent diaries (none)
    They are very insightful, well thought-out, and well-written. You express many frustrations and observations I've experienced in my own life. I agree with almost all of your stated premises. And that's why I'm a Buddhist and Unitarian Universalist - no belief in Santa Claus or little elves required :).

    [-7.88/-6.67] Forged Demon - Zen Politics

    by sohei on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:19:32 AM PST

  •  what atheism is missing (none)
    The coming together to share hopes and fears and values, reflecting on one's thoughts and behavior and determining to better oneself in the days ahead.
      You may not believe in "heaven" or "Satan" or miracles or Santa, but there's something to be said about the gathering of people, ordinary people, with the goal of wanting good things to happen for others.
      I suppose that in lieu of church one could derive the same satisfaction from friends, family, neighbors and coworkers.  Or volunteer at a charity of one's choice. You don't need religion to do that.
      To set aside a time during the week to marvel at the fact that you live and breathe and think and to ponder concepts such as what is good, what is not good, what can we fix, what ought we change, that helps us to appreciate what we truly have.  
       Perhaps faith is also rooted in our sense of justice.  People can be incredibly cruel and ruthless.  People fall victim to random disasters.  I think all of us, despite humanitarian measures or political action, deep down we want justice.  That if this world was so damned unfair, it eases our minds somewhat to think that the truly evil got what they deserved and the innocent are safe.
       You look at the news and see dreadful things. You follow your logical thinking and come to the conclusion that it ain't gonna happen, death is the end.
       But "the hands of the holy are at the ends of our own two wrists"- those who don't believe should have the opportunity to come together to express and reflect our values we possess during our brief stay on the planet.  Freethinkers? An Ethical Society?
     

    Why did we bother to beat the Soviet Union if we were just going to become it? Molly Ivins

    by offred on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:12:24 AM PST

    •  We need an atheist church (none)
      ...there's no reason not to borrow the best features of organized religion (weekly meetings, ceremonies, tax exemption) and leave behind the worst ones (dogma, prejudice, demands for exclusivity).

      Imagine a church organized for the EARTHLY benefit of its members.  Where a weekly call goes out from the pulpit to volunteer your time picking up trash, or helping out members who are sick, elderly, whatever.

      I'd join in a minute.  

      Rubus Eradicandus Est.

      by Randomfactor on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 10:34:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I believe (none)
    DarkSyde speaks for me...

    Being an atheist is like a having a dirty secret...

    Like a poster way above commented, I feel akin to how a minority or gay person feels in today's society...

    (....stands up)

    I am an atheist.

    There.

    I said it.

  •  The Santa analogy works (none)
    for the seperation of church and state. Imagine "One nation, under Santa", "In Santa we trust" and "Swear to tell the whole truth, so help me Santa"! I've been using that analogy for a while. I'm glad to see I'm not the only one. Good work!
  •  Just posting for posterity (none)
    As a back-slid Baptist operating on the aethiest fringe, I have to say this whole discussion is really quite entertaining!  I totally understand why Jerome a Paris is so befuddled.  

    And just for the record, there is no Anglico.

    Really. Honest to not-god.

    Cheers!

  •  Thank You (none)
    I too am an atheist and I just wanted to thank you for the well thought out diary.

    We need to unite for a better tomorrow!

    Bush? He can't run one country and you expect him to run two?

    by ScrewJack on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 07:49:55 AM PST

  •  Why I think religion is dangerous (none)
    There may be an afterlife, I don't know. BUT I really believe that people who think there is a God and an afterlife, are more casual about wars and death in general, because, after all, this life is just a blink compared to eternity. And if innocent civilians and children die, they will go to heaven, so really, what's the problem??

    Religious people believe that suffering here is OK so they can get their afterlife with God.

  •  it makes no sense... (none)
    that's why its called faith.  I respect yours and you respect mine and we'll all be fine.
    •  As I Wrote Above (none)
      In response to BiminiCat's crusade to classify aetheism as faith, I have this to offer:

      Religion is a concept that does require faith, but all things are not equal, and aetheism is no a faith. The reason is as follows:

      Religion is defined by, and the religious pride themselves in, faith. They derive their beliefs from a tradition and accept the unknowable willingly. There is no need, in most modern religions, for any proof at all.

      The atheist on the other hand has a scientific view of reality. Science means "see." What is observed and logically theorized based on observation, is considered operably true. Only beliefs which are held to be scientifically true are admitted into the (hypothetically perfect) atheist's worldview.

      "Belief," that which requires faith in the religious sense, is insulting to the atheist. While there is truly little symmetry here, the atheist does find insulting that which the religious is most proud of. What the atheist has, for anything, is theory. Theories are very hard and fast actually, but also updated and occasionally abandoned. They can be learned; most are. But the process of learning and deciding to trust them is a life's work, never done. It is a process we all invest a lot of ourselves in, whether religious or atheist.

      ...But to the atheist, one additional element enters in. The atheist has considered religion AS A THEORY LIKE ANY OTHER, and has disproved that theory to his own satisfaction. Were he able to say there is no indication in favor of the theory, but no way to disprove it conclusively either, then he would call himself an agnostic. Therefore, the very suggestion that his atheism is a matter of "faith," questions his rational processes, which are what he values himself for, what he considers the root of himself.

      9/11 + 4 Years = Katrina... Conservatism Kills.

      by NewDirection on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 09:09:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Faith is the problem. (none)
        As a scientist, I think non-faith religions are legitimate, and I'll consider them.

        Any religion which demands faith without proof is demanding that I surrender my brain.  That I cannot do.

        •  I think you're confusing faith with fanatacism (none)
          Fanatacism is believing without doubt, that's where you have to "surrender" your brain.

          Faith is believing inspite of doubt.

          Note: doubt is not proof to the contrary. Proof provides certainty, where as doubt is uncertainty.

          To be albe to say "I can't prove God exists, so I have a reasonable doubt, but I choose to believe God exists." That is true faith. I believe God gave us free will because at the end of the day real faith is about choice. What the 'abandon all reason' crowd on the religious right preach is fanaticism not faith, and despite their claims to the contrary, is not representative of the real teachings of christ. In fact Jesus warned his followers to "beware false prophets" like them.
          •  faith.... (none)
            Well, there's a long discussion about proof which I have omitted, but suffice it to say that as someone with a scientific worldview, I don't think there is any absolute certainty outside of mathematics (where we define our own universe).  Everything else is a "best guess".

            If your "best guess" is that there is a God of a particular sort, and you have reasons for that which aren't circular, then that isn't 'faith without proof' in the way I meant it.  If you would choose to believe even if there was strong evidence to the contrary -- as there is regarding many particular sorts of God -- then that is 'faith without proof' and is disturbing.

      •  Am I beating a dead horse? (none)
        Maybe it's already be written, but my eyes have begun glazing over reading all of this.

        The problem is that what you are describing is a "faith" in empiricism - that this particular method, relying on experiment and logic, is the best way of appropriating the "truth". Empiricism and logic are human constructions as much as religious beliefs are - and, I think, wrongly relegate human experience and the understanding of "truth" to an entirely mental exercise. I personally there there is more to truth than what is empirically verifiable - how do we explain intuition, "gut" feelings, etc? I don't kow that things have to be proven in order to be "true". And the "cold, hard facts," alone, leave me cold.

        On the other hand, I'm not of the "I don't care how ridiculous or incredulous a religious tenet is, I'm gonna take it on blind faith variety" and I don't doubt that some of faith is psychological projection. I don't buy the "God said it, I believe it, that settles it" b.s. that Sunday School tried to feed me growing up. I always got into trouble because I asked too many questions and THOUGHT too much.

        So, I'm left in search of a balance that leaves open the possibility of mystery and constantly presses intellectual bounds. I guess the difference for me is that I see myself as more than simply a "rational" being and as a whole more than the sum of parts and functions that science can explain.

        The heart has reasons that reason can never know ~Blaise Pascal

        I guess I have a problem with absolutism in all of its forms - and I have been accused of being a relativist. Maybe I align myself with something I heard Marcus Borg say once about being a relative absolutist (believing in an absolute, but skeptical of human capacity to definitely capture it), but not an absolute relativist (there is no absolute and everything is purely subjective).

        But, I digress. My point is that there is, frankly, an element of "faith" (in all its various meanings) in all that we as humans do - it's what we choose to put our trust in and I'm skeptical of claims to objectivity on all sides. Maybe that's too wishy-washy, but, for me, it's and essential part of being open-minded.

        I am certainly not out to convert anyone - just adding my $.02 as best I can by what I often find restrictive rules of "logic."

        Blessings,
        A

        •  Nope.... (none)
          ...The thing is, there are some things that are observably, definitely true. True beyond any shadow of a doubt, beyond any opinion, beyond any holographic universe BS.

          What follows is not a defense of philosophical empricism in its broad assertion that the human mind has no inborn knowledge, which I dispute. However, I use empiricism as I think you do to mean scientific method.

          Now once upon a time these things were few. Like how two rocks is more than one rock. Then philosophers added logic. And logic, rather like algebra does for concepts representing data, manages broader concepts but no less truthfully.

          Some people, regardless of level of education, have not really bothered to ponder this through to its conclusion. I invite you to. The thing is, that the scientific method would serve a robot as well as a human; while it may take place in the abstract it is, itself, a physically true thing. You could build a scientific method machine, and it would work.

          Empiricism does not require faith. It is a logical process, an equation if you will, into which you can reliably plug a supposition and available information, and get a result. The result may be yes, no, or maybe.

          Later, or other determinations may invalidate this result but that would be based, really, on a new supposition and new information, and therefore be a different question. Empiricism itself requires no faith. It simply is. Just like arithmetic simply is.

          In the case of religion, the empirical answer is no. At this point in time the answer is that there is no God, and the trend is to be able to support that with information that increases dramatically almost constantly.

          As to whether anyone has ever made a really successful effort to challenge this determination (or empiricism itself, with this or some other excuse to try), I guarantee you would be familiar with that argument because the religious right would never shut up about it. (Efforts do exist of course particularly within Catholicism.)

          9/11 + 4 Years = Katrina... Conservatism Kills.

          by NewDirection on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 01:49:27 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Scientific method (none)
            "The result may be yes, no, or maybe."

            Technically speaking, the result is almost always "maybe" -- but with some form of condition on how likely it is.

            This is why scientific papers say things like "Theory A predicted all the results of the experiment.  Given the results, the null hypothesis has only a 1% chance of being correct."  (The null hypothesis is different for each experiment, but is designed to be along the lines of "Theory A is nonsense".)

            For powerful theories which are described as scientific "facts", the result could best be described not as "yes", but as "almost certainly, and we haven't come up with anything else nearly as likely".

        •  Not sure I disagree with you. (none)
          Well, my definition of empiricism is "beliving that your senses give some sort of approximate picture of the world".  That includes intuition, gut feelings, etc.  The reason I say "some sort of approximate" is that we know full well that our senses lie to us sometimes -- namely when they start contradicting each other.
        •  and to continue.... (none)
          It's also worth noting that provisional belief in things with skimpy evidence is necessary, since as any empiricist must accept, we don't know everything.  Perhaps we will never have really solid evidence to answer some questions.

          In fact, scientific empiricism demands the understanding that nearly all knowledge is provisional -- some much more certain than others, of course -- because anything may need to be revised in response to new information.

          ...and accordingly, there is more than a little room for mystery in the universe.  There is a lot of mystery in the universe.

      •  this isn't a crusade for me (none)
        Only beliefs which are held to be scientifically true are admitted into the (hypothetically perfect) atheist's worldview.

        i agree with that, and i am not challenging that idea of what an atheist is at all... what i don't understand is..

        this belief:  "there is no god."

        i don't understand how that's a scientifically true belief.  i've never seen scientifically collected data on the hypothesis.

        have you??

        and so... if the only beliefs that are admitted are scientifically true beliefs, then that kind of excludes this statement:  "there is no god."

        it also excludes this statement:  "there is a god."

        it excludes BOTH.

        "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

        by BiminiCat on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 03:01:43 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  True (none)
          "There is no god" or "There is a god" are both things that can't be scientifically proven. However, Occam's Razor has worked for centuries so why abandon it now? If we see no reason to believe in a god, then why do it?

          "Murrow had a child. The damn thing went wild." -- Fleetwood Mac
          (-8.63), (-7.03)

          by Perdition on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 04:32:34 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  It Depends On This (none)
          If you define God as really anything you want, as far hands-off from our world as you want, into the quantum foam, the big bang, or integral in everything, yada yada, then you are positing the imponderable. An "x." You propose x = The universe, or x = a certain amount of the universe outside of human knowledge in any case.

          That's like asking someone whether they can deny X + Y, and is therefore a nonsense question, a chimerical paradox, but not a particularly devious one, because the only way to answer that joke of a question is to laugh in the asker's face, and hope he meant it as a deadpan joke.

          Okay, next.
          Suppose you are talking about the Christian faith. Well some define that as something other than the contents of the Bible, with or without certain things. Mormons and Catholics do a lot of that, but pretty much all denominations make severe errors in that. For example preachers professing to care only about the Bible predicting the date of the end times when the Bible says none shall know the day or date.

          The Bible says, both, that the Book is the infallible word of God, and ends with the proclamation that none may add to or excise from it anything, it's a lock, and that instruction of course is at the end of Revelation.

          Therefore, all you should have to do to disprove the religion is disprove part of it, because it has set its own condition that it is infallible and that no part of it may be discarded. There are many parts that can be disproved conclusively. On the one hand, by comparing assertions to physical reality, on the other by blatant and frequent philosophical contradictions.

          Now of course you can disavow every point as it is hacked away, and come back around to the first case, which is the groundless question. But no major religion or sect I have ever heard of (and I think perhaps I've looked into this more than you have) lacks a disprovable component. I do think that if there is any definition at all of "God" that you must agree to though, it is omnipotent and/or omniscient....

          We know from science, and even without getting into pseudo intellectual flypaper like the Heisenberg uncertainty principle etc., that it is not possible to know everything or do everything. It's just a physical impossibility. Unless.... And here finally we have some respect for the authors of these religions for predicting this debate and writing themselves a way out... Unless God IS everything. If God is everything, the entire universe, period, nothing beyond that and nothing excluded, then okay. God can "know" himself because you could just as well say the whole universe is God's brain or so on.

          However if you do that, all you are saying is "x = everything ever," and that is easily solved by stating "everything ever = everything ever." No mystery there, call it God if you like, but that appellation is meaningless. And rather than proving or opening the door to the acceptance of the assertions of any religion, utility of prayer, afterlife, etc... These things are disproved because God has been reduced to natural laws with the questions they do pose, which do not include those three things.

          You can then start over with religion (codes of behavior, scriptural truth), prayer, afterlife. Concise problems. Therefore refuting them is not as simple, but it is also in a way easier, because there is a specific assertion made about occurrences in our sphere in defiance of otherwise observed truth, and those can be dispelled (if necessary).

          9/11 + 4 Years = Katrina... Conservatism Kills.

          by NewDirection on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 05:35:08 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  when i debated the non-existence of god (none)
            in my catholic high school.

            it went like this,...

            me:   well it was the big bang and evolution you know.

            the theist:  well what came before the big bang?

            me:  well it was a tightly wound up ball of gas, of course.

            the theist:  well where did that gas come from??

            anyway, this routine is now obvious.  science can always investigate what came before, but science can never aswer the question, what came first??

            why do you have to ask the question what came first??

            is that the wrong question to ask??  can you say with any certainty that all the matter in the universe was never not here??

            in any case, you're right.  it depends on what your definition of god is.  but i will point out ... if it's not up to the theist to decide for the atheist what atheism is....  then it most certainly is not up to the atheist to decide for the theist what god is and then ask the theist to prove it.

            of course, back in high school it occured to me to ask, "ok so what created god?"

            nothing.  it's the uncaused cause.

            or so i was told.  whatever that means.

            i don't know.  i'll say my definition of god... IF there is one goes like this:  IF you had proof, it would cease to exist.

            "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

            by BiminiCat on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:15:59 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Okay... (none)
              science can always investigate what came before, but science can never answer the question, what came first??

              I can answer that. The big bang never happened. And it is not a ball of gas in the center, but rather sheer possibility. Which through mathematical harmony resonates at certain ranges, and can interact, creating the appearance of the tiny objects that seem to comprise the universe. The "larger" in scale you go, the more complex these expressions get, and we move from the realm of the possible into the realm of the probable as the greater complexity reduces possible interactions.

              Cartesian space is meaningful to us at our scale as a mathematical condition, but it is not in the less complex (quantum non-locality) or the larger (curved space).

              Not a holographic universe, it's real enough from where we are sitting; and the most comforting thing about my theory is that all of that pesky unsolid empty space insisted upon by physics really isn't there, not on the atomic, quantum, or galactic scale. Everything is at the basic level in the same space, and the one dimension that does exist is a single space/time value which in our space is like Roger Penrose's null lines.

              Oh and about the big bang, mine is not the traditional one as that may not in fact have happened as popularized earlier for our generation(s). ...Some hypotheses have us bubbling off another universe, and even bringing with us some of our older stars.

              Copyright Joseph Howell 2005, since I thought that up all by myself... With lots of help from modern physicists and the UT libraries.

              9/11 + 4 Years = Katrina... Conservatism Kills.

              by NewDirection on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:38:23 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  the simple minded folk (none)
                who were debating the Existence of a god would just ask "so what created NON-cartesian space".

                or whatever.  it basically goes like this.

                x = (any idea of the universe you can come up with.  cartesian.  non-cartesian.  space/time or no space/time.)

                ok.  now tell me.  what came before "x"?

                now you can say that anyone who understood what you were talking about when you talk about "x" (i'll be happy to admit i don't) would know that asking what came before "x" would be the wrong and pointless question to ask.

                but i don't know if "that's the wrong question to ask." is the answer that would have won me that debate.

                in any case.  i lost.

                 

                "I don't think Feingold and Clinton are really that far apart on Iraq." -- Howard Dean, 10/23/05

                by BiminiCat on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 06:50:31 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Well This Isn't An Argument To Me (none)
                  This, to the eternal deaf ears of my wife for one, is what I consider a pleasant conversation.

                  In any case to answer your question...
                  There is no "before" because there is no "later," and this is actually not a particularly radical notion.
                  The idea that there are four dimensions with time being one of them is actually not very current.
                  Time doesn't really exist, things merely change, that is to say, they move.
                  But that, as I was trying to illustrate above, is also debatable.
                  We observe time and space, but we can also observe a lot of things and think they are real when in fact after further consideration they are not... For example a shadow seeming to be a black cat for an instant.
                  What I propose is that with further consideration, additional things are seen to not be real.
                  Of course there is something real there (or in ones mind and perceptions which are real), but not necessarily what one first perceived, or which one always perceives until it is challenged.
                  It's easy to note the earth doesn't orbit the sun and the earth is not flat, now, and yet we still perceive it that way.
                  Some things are beyond our perceptions, and yet we can nevertheless come to know them.
                  This, I propose, is not really the final frontier of that knowledge, but rather it is our starting point which, before we were born we had already long since left, so we have to find it again.
                  There is much more out there in the extrapolated universe to discover.
                  But home is a big fat zero.
                  Of course we aren't speaking strictly of what I like to call our "one dimensional mathematics" here, but from that sole source of nothingness, all else is built.
                  How?
                  Symmetry.
                  It's like an equation, it is an equation.
                  As long as it all adds up to nothing, it costs nothing.
                  Thus the universe is free.
                  The cause of this is that everything is balanced out by an opposite, a negative.
                  And you will find that physics is indeed largely the search for this grand symmetry, the seeking of proof that... Just as one hypothesis, antimatter ought to exist in equal mass to counterbalance matter.
                  But everything is not checking out; at present these observations are not proving true... Although the discovery of neutrino mass almost a decade ago has changed the question a bit.

                  In any case, again, Copyright Joseph Howell 2005.

                  9/11 + 4 Years = Katrina... Conservatism Kills.

                  by NewDirection on Thu Nov 17, 2005 at 07:35:19 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

  •  Am I an atheist? (none)
    I don't know the exact words, but a common belief in religion is that: God created man in his own image.   But, it appears to me that all organized religions and every individual who professes to having "faith" have actually created God in their own image.  There are as many descriptions and definitions of God as there are people and organizations who believe in a god.  

    I long ago rejected organized versions of God mostly because their God was dressed up in their dictates, issued conflicting "commandments", and gave us the ability to think and question but condemned those of us who do.  I rejected personal versions of God because I don't need something to credit when things go well (the Sox won because of divine intervention ) or when things go badly (you don't understand the divine plan).

    In a recent Chicago Tribune article on Donald Trump, author Mary Umberger says Northwestern University communications professor Irving Rein tells her to get over her overdosing on all things Trump.  She writes that "Trumpy-ness seems likely to remain with us a while."  She quotes Rein when he says, "Trump's endorsement seems to have far more stretch and reach than most.  It's not about the person, it's about us - about what we seek.  Things he exhibits are the things people want, especially people who haven't made it, which is most people."

    Now, take the quotes and replace the word "Trump" with the word "god".  

    As I see it, there is no God - just a creation of individuals and groups of people who design a deity that's not about god but is about them - about what they seek.  Their god exhibits things they want - be it power, forgiveness, answers, rules, justification, and on and on and on.....

    •  ding ding ding (none)
      this is true and also explains why "every society in the history of mankind" has had a belief in god, the afterlife, or whatever.

      believers often cite this a supporting argument. and it does mean something, just not what they think. it means that people of different times and places are all still human, and they have the same hopes, fears, and curiousities.

      "They can't wipe us out; they can't lick us. We'll go on forever, Pa, 'cause we're the people." -Ma Joad

      by jethropalerobber on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 11:08:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great! I'm happy for you. (none)
       But, why exactly should I care if you're an atheist or a pole-sitting Eremite? What does it matter if I'm a pagan or a foot-washing Baptist? It doesn't. We're here on DailyKos because we're united in our dislike for the Neocon wolves that the the NASCAR-watchin' sheep have let into the halls of power. Everything else should be discarded here. If you want to debate religion or the lack of it, go to "Street Prophets", and I'll meet you there.
  •  Thank you (none)
    for so eloquently articulating my thoughts.

    I've been amazed at how otherwise perfectly reasonable people can believe that prayer/God brought back their lost puppy or steered them in a career path while simultaneously allowing children to be set on fire????

    I've been told I'm arrogant by relatives who become hostile at the mere mention of my agnosticism (I prefer that, as I've never been dead that I know of and therefore cannot speak intelligently about the nature of things I have not seen and that cannot be known.)

    There is one thing I know...free will creates reality, individually and collectively....and I can prove it.

    Freedom isn't free, but the richer you are, the cheaper it gets.--me

    by rcvanoz on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 08:59:16 AM PST

  •  Why do atheists who wish to (none)
    argue with religion insist on defining what religion is?  It seems the same terminology is always used.  One of the most offensive is "imaginary sky being or wizard or elf or flying monkey or whatever."

    For me and many people who define themselves as religious the essence of divinity is mystery and we consider it a great mistake to try and define that mystery.

    I am not an atheist because atheism as it is practiced now seems to be simply a reaction against a certain type of literalist religion, that is the kind of religion that insists on taking myths and metaphor literally.

    For me religion that is useful helps to grapple with the mystery of existance.  And all too often it seems that atheism is something that exists only in opposition and provides little that is useful in the face of the great abyss.

    However, that is simply my view.  It is where I have come to in my struggle to understand this magnificent improbability called the universe.

    Nevertheless, is it too much to ask that my views not be characterized on the level of "imaginary sky" beings?

    •  Agreed (none)
      The fact is, whether religion can be proved in general to have done anything useful, and regardless of how its many myths are interpreted, atheism as it has been mostly defined here by its proponents does even less, since it only exists in contradistinction to its opposite.  Although I would disagree about it not doing anything to help understand the "great abyss."  In fact, it posits quite plainly that the abyss is just a big black nothing, the belief in which, to me, seems to require either an heroic sense of calm and acceptance, or an abundance of faith.  Faith is a belief in something, even if the something is actually nothing at all.  I find it amusing that some here don't see the obviousness of that.  Unless, of course, they hold some heretofore unknown empirical study proving that after death there is a big black nothing...?  
      •  fine, then I am not an atheist (none)
        I just don't believe in god. That's not the same as believing there is no god. To me, god has the same ontological status as Santa, which, I think, was the point of DarkSyde's previous diary.
      •  The great abyss (none)
        Looks like a big black nothing to me.  I don't consider myself to have a heroic sense of calm or acceptance, nor do I consider myself to have
        "faith" in that nothing.  When I die, I could well be proved wrong, and I might spend eternity drifting between the stars as a cosmic entity.  Or I might wander this planet as a ghost.  But I seriously doubt it.

        If you consider this to be agnosticism, not atheism...then I really don't think the difference is that important.  The universe might still be run by the ancient Greek gods on Olympus, and I can't disprove it, but I don't feel that I have to hold out any "it might be true" agnostical feelings about it.

      •  *sigh* (none)
        Unless, of course, they hold some heretofore unknown empirical study proving that after death there is a big black nothing...?  

        That would be a matter for Ockham's Razor.  Nobody has ever come back from death (by definition!).  (And please don't get into Christianity there, because the 'resurrection' of Jesus is totally undocumented, just like that of Osiris.)  Also, pretty much everyone who claimed to speak with the dead has been shown to be a faker of some sort.

        Those who have become unconscious and come back report the unconsciousness as being -- uh, nothing.  People generally remember the time before their birth as being -- uh, nothing.  So, using the simplest hypothesis, after death, there is probably -- uh, nothing.

        The argument from fear (there must be life after death because I'm afraid of living in a world where there isn't) is generally considered a logical fallacy.

    •  atheism is a theist notion (none)
      We atheists only call ourselves such because that's how theists refer to us. My atheism is NOT a reaction to theism. If there was no theism, my belief structure would be exactly the same as it is now.
      •  How do you know (none)
        that?  You cannot know what your belief structure would be under conditions that do not exist.  

        If, for instance, Christianity had not fallen into a literalist trap would you still hold your belief that that the "great abyss" contains a literal nothing rather than a literal something?  

        If literalist religion did not insult your intelligence by insisting on an "imaginarly sky being" would you be so invested in repudiating it?

        It is a great "what if" and trying to say how one would have been under different circumstances is as valid as if I said that if I was born in the South during slavery days, I would have been an abolitionist.  There is no way I could know that.

    •  sanctifying ignorance (none)
      so your idea of "grappling" with the mysteries of life is to deliberately avoid confronting and possibly solving them. and you call that useful?

      by your reckoning it would probably have been a "big mistake" to try to delve into mysteries like say birth defects, electricity, the weather - good call. hey, if you want to say is that God is just the name you give to all the things you don't understand, fine. but don't pretend that's something we should all appreciate and respect.

      btw, atheists aren't refering to you when they mock the belief in imaginary sky beings. they're refering to the other like 95% of religious people who, however odd their beliefs may seem to us, at least have the guts to believe in something apart from their own beautiful mysterious ignorance.

      "They can't wipe us out; they can't lick us. We'll go on forever, Pa, 'cause we're the people." -Ma Joad

      by jethropalerobber on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 10:57:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Excuse me. (none)
        Why the belligerent tone?  Did I say we shouldn't try to solve the mystery of universe?  I don't think I did. I just said that it exists and its existance is a mystery.

        I have absolutely no problem at all with scientists delving into it.  We have learned and will continue to learn some marvelous things.   The problem is no matter how much we learn of how things work and how they are put together, we still have no clue as to why.

        Chemistry and physics do a good job of describing what is but even if we discover how matter and energy came from "nothing," we still might not know why.  To say something is a series of chemical reactions or that one atom bounces off another, doesn't really explain anything.

        There may be some mysteries not amenable to the scientific method or even open to human perception.  And that is a possibility you may have to "grapple" with as scary as it is.

        As for me, I have no problem with continuing to try.  But, in the meantime, my religion helps me to deal with and accept the mystery.

        As for your "95% of religious people" you have no way of knowing if that is even close to correct.  Most religious people I know are not of the literalist kind, they just don't make as much noise as the literalists do.

        This is really all I have to say on the subject.  If I were you though, I would ask myself why I was so ready to put such a negative spin on what I said.  

        Perhaps the idea, as I mentioned before, that everything might not be explainable in human or even scientific terms makes you uncomfortable.  I always find it informative to probe into those ideas that make me uncomfortable.

  •  The problem seems to be (none)
    not that "people of faith" exist, or that they "practice their faith". The problem is that in so doing, they are unable to avoid creating unsolicited consequences for the rest of us, without our consent.

         They cannot have their holy war (which is really the only way they will ever decide which God wins), without killing off most life on this planet. Those jesus-fish-support-our-troops-bumper-magnets are there for a reason baby.
         Don't even start with the "peaceful religions" thing. Read the Bible, the Torah, the Koran. Either you believe it, or you don't. There ain't nothing "peaceful" about them. Christianity, indeed all the religions with a central deity, are memes. Religious moderates are just people who recognize that religious texts are allegorical, rather that literal and have already ditched pure "faith" in favor of reason.
         I don't think there are manyatheists/agnostics willing to say that there is no value in spiritual practice. There is in fact a great deal of scientific data to support its value. There are many spiritual traditions that value the awareness of self/consciousness, ethics and morality, self-discipline, altruism, etc. It is not necessary to believe in a creation myth to find value in the mystery of life.
         There might be value in studying the mystery of life and the natural world...but that study has always been and will continue to be stifled by Dogma and the purveyors thereof.

    Freedom isn't free, but the richer you are, the cheaper it gets.--me

    by rcvanoz on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 09:39:01 AM PST

  •  Okay, Mr. Logic Man (none)
    "It makes no sense that a perfect being would need to create the universe or mankind, because by definition a perfect beings (sic) needs or wants for nothing."

    Talk about begging the question!

    And another thing: I, too, have difficulty accepting Christianity (although Lord knows I want to) because I could never understand, and probably never will, how an all-loving, all-powerful God would ever let an innocent child suffer.

    However, I am an agnostic, not an atheist, because of mysterious happenings, some of which I've witnessed. Perhaps, if there is a God or an afterlife, it (or they) are not as the Bible (or Koran, etc.) lead us to expect.

    When my now-15-year-old daughter was only 15 months, her father and I witnessed her witnessing some kind of apparition that only she could see. She was too young to speak in full sentences. As this object floated around our living room (we inferred the floating by our daughter's rapt attentive eyes) it appeared to light on my shoulder, then on the couch. When we asked our daughter what she was seeing, all she said was, "Baby."

    Just to see what she would do, we told our daughter to say hi to the baby. So she climbed off my lap, walked over to the couch, looked at the place a baby's face would be, and said, "Hi-i!"

    Is this proof of God? Is this proof of an afterlife?

    I would say not, but I do think it is evidence that even the most brilliant human thinking ability cannot understand everything. That some things are mysterious, and perhaps, just perhaps, there is a supernatural underlying explanation.

    •  free will (none)
      "And another thing: I, too, have difficulty accepting Christianity (although Lord knows I want to) because I could never understand, and probably never will, how an all-loving, all-powerful God would ever let an innocent child suffer."

      "Free will. It's a bitch" - Al Pacino, The Devil's Advocate

      Most human suffering is the product of human choices. God (if you accept his existence) may not like but he seems to respect our right to make those choices. Wich isn't surprising since, as our creator, he would have had to give us that free will in the first place. Personally I believe that God doesn't interfere in our lives in major ways for the same reason a scientist wouldn't interfere in the internal processes of an experiment, God wants an honest result.

      To me God's like a parent whose children are struggling with their home work. God loves us and wants to help but if god just gives us the answers we won't have learned anything. But a good parent does sit down with thier struggling children and try to give them some guidance from time to time. That is in my opinion what profits and miracles and the teachings of christ are all about. God trying to guide us, to help us with our homework without simply giving us the answers.
      •  oops (none)
        that should be prophets not profits.
      •  Interesting concept of God. (none)
        I guess God is not omnipotent then.  If God were omnipotent, God would be able to put the skills he wishes us to have directly into our brains (something I dearly wish I could do with children, instead of having them practice those skills by doing homework).  That would be learning, not just 'giving us the answers'.

        Or maybe God's not all-loving.  A scientific experimenter is certainly not all-loving to his lab rats -- or if he is, it's tempered by his knowledge that this is the only way to find out something which will help others later.  And if God's thinking that way, then God is not omniscient.

        Non-omniscient, non-omnipotent Gods are a lot easeir to defend.

  •  a few thoughts (none)
    First, people on both sides of this discussion seem to be a little cavalier with language. The differences between atheism (strong and weak) and agnosticism are real, and there is a rich philosophical history surrounding both. The former is about belief and the latter is about knowledge. If that doesn't line up with what you've always thought those terms meant, then you are probably wrong.

    Second, and I say this as an atheist of the weak kind as well as an agnostic, it seems to me that the attitude that many of the atheists have that, because we rely on a rational, empirical, logical means to come to our conclusions about deities, our claims are somehow more valid is absolutely wrong. Descartes' trickster god is always a possibility. We could all be in its Matrix, so to speak. To rely on reason and experience is to rely on human faculties that are limited and faulty.

    Finally, (assuming no trickster god) one problem I've always had with religious beliefs is that (most) posit the existence of a spiritual world which is inaccessible to human experience. That is, there is no experiment that could be designed to prove its existence. But then, how is it that actions in our realm affect the spiritual realm (and vice versa)? How can a god see me behaving badly? To see is to interact with photons, and if a god was mucking around with photons, we'd be able to detect it. It's the problem of dualism, and I don't think there's a solution.
    •  followup (none)
      I don't know if responding to one's comment is considered bad form; if it is I apologize in advance. I just thought of an easy counter argument to my third point. One could say that any interaction between the spiritual world and the physical word is beyond our capacity to reason and understand. This makes the spiritual word incomprehensible and only "knowable" through revelation.  At this point, meaningful discourse about spirituality ends (who am I to say your god hasn't revealed itself to you), which is where most discussions about this subject end anyway.  
    •  trickster god premise (none)

      The trickster god premise does more damage to religious arguments than athiestic ones. What if the Almighty trickster provided us with false profits and false religious texts that provided excuses to mistreat others. Those that commit holy wars, persecute homosexuals, opress women, etc. could all be sent to hell. If God's intent is unknowable and incomprehensible, then the existence of God is not a reason to follow what we think God's intentions are, let alone impose those beliefs on others.

  •  Soul (none)
    If people have an eternal soul that lives forever after we die, why is the brain so fragile?  A stroke or any damage to our brain can leave us in a coma, or permanently damage our memory, and personalities.  If we had a soul, our brain wouldn't be so important.
  •  Doctoral Thesis (none)
    Some future Doctoral candidate will mine these two posts and attached comments for contemporary attitudes on religion.

    I am, therefore, I think!

    A President in his own league. The Bush League!

    by Tuba Les on Wed Nov 16, 2005 at 10:13:30 AM PST

  •  Christianity is an economic transaction (none)
    and therefore of no more interst to me than being a corrupt businessman.

    Adopting a way of life and a set of beliefs for eventual payoff is no way to form one's morality...

    that's just simpleminded bullshit.

    And Christians in particular can keep their bullshit.

    Most Religions are the same nonesense.

    Any real morality is undertaken withou