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I think it's time to call religion a failure

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by LesCanadiens, Jan 29, 2003.

  1. FredLC

    FredLC A Lawyer as You Can See! Retired Moderator

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    Hehehehehe...

    Mr. Spice, it's too bad that I'm just passing by now and I don't have time to write a proper reply at this very moment... but rest assured that I will.

    So you are right. this thread won't die yet ;).

    Regards :).
     
  2. Cecasander

    Cecasander King

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    I think it is time to call the world a failure :D
    After vampire-slayers, we also need thread-slayers :p
     
  3. polymath

    polymath Tleilaxu Mentat

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    Mr Spice,
    Your respected professor scenario is quite good. I do have some problems with it though. The professor in your example is very closed-minded, whereas any true man of science knows that his view of the world must be open to constant refinement.
    Newton was superceded by Einstein, to take just one example.

    But some things the professor says are true, e.g.:
    ”people need to believe in something and will thus believe in just about anything no matter of the lack of evidence”
    He is exactly right. Some people fall for the Nigeriam e-mail scam like I said. Those David Koresh followers. Those Jim Jones followers in Guyana who committed mass suicide. That people will "believe in anything no matter what the lack of evidence" has been demonstrated time and time again. I mean, people even believed Martians were invading New Jersey, simply because they heard Orson Welles announce it authoritatively. The professor's point here is established as rock solid fact.

    "Since such creatures do not really fit in his worldview he regards them as highly unlikely, so unlikely that he tends to believe that the absence of those creature is a proven fact."

    If he is a man of science, he would not discard something just because it doesn't fit in with his worldview. Such an act would be impossible for a true man of science.

    "Even if the creature does in fact exist, the professor will live his entire life fully convinced that he has good evidence the mysterious creature is only a myth."

    I don't think so, more like he has no good evidence it exists. You say people have shown him photos. We've all seen photos of Nessie and Bigfoot. Do you think they exist? Or is it completely open to question? Or is it nonsense? We've heard people talk about seeing Nessie. Is that proof?
    Now if he really wanted to find out if the creature exists, he would look for it properly, not just walk around the block or to the edge of town. He would gain no knowledge from doing merely that, it would be a worthless exercise of no benefit.
    So from this I conclude that the man you are describing is not a true man of science at all.


    "From what I can see, both atheism and Christianity requires faith. In my own humble opinion, atheism is also a lot more depressing and actually requires more faith to live by. At least if it was not for the fact that most atheists never bother to think through their own world view, but instead spend all energy to dismiss every alternative as illogical and non-scientifical."

    Atheism doesn't require more faith, it really requires a refusal to be swayed by emotion or 'spiritual' (whatever that is) needs, and instead deals only with what can be verified. I actually find religion very depressing because it tends to confirm the indisputable fact that ”people need to believe in something and will thus believe in just about anything no matter of the lack of evidence”. Some African tribesman believe they can make themselves bulletproof by carrying out rituals. The idiots. All this goes to prove that belief means next to nothing, and if you base your life on a 'belief', any belief, then you are rather foolish.
    And as for saying atheists don't bother to think through their own world-view, I think I have a far better grasp of what is actually going on in this universe than ANY religious person of whatever denomination.
    I may be wrong about that, but it's extremely unlikely.
     
  4. Mr Spice

    Mr Spice Emperor

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    Polymath: The professor was not meant to be a true scientist, but a representative of what in my experience is a “typical atheist”. Please don’t think that I’m in any way attacking science – I’m merely describing how many atheists that I know think about religion. Most atheists that I have discussed religion with are nowhere near true scientists, but like to think they are. It is my observation that many atheists act and reason in the same way as I let the professor do. (Please don’t take this as a personal attack on you. If I remember correctly you are an engineer and a nice guy and I have great respect for you.) And please don’t think that I dismiss science – after all I’m in the field too. And no, combining my knowledge of science with my belief in God has never been the slightest problem.

    You seem to have been insulted by my statement that most atheists do not think through their worldview. My apologies, it was not my intention to offend you. :) Again, I have great respect for you. But it’s still my observation that most atheists I’ve met have never really paid much thought to their own belief, despite the tremendous amount of time and energy they put into finding reasons to attack and dismiss my religion. This is of course only a generalization and should be used carefully. I have met atheists who have spent a great deal of time to think through and verify their belief in atheism, which I respect fully. But fact remains that the majority of my atheist friends have spent much less time thinking through their own belief than all my Christian friends.

    I too acknowledge the undeniable fact that humans are capable of believing in just about anything, no matter how weird. Like the people who think that Adolph Hitler was saved by space aliens who admire him so much that they have made him their immortal leader and one day he will return to Earth to establish the true Nazi-paradise. :rolleyes: That fact was of course a problem for me when deciding whether to give religion a chance or not. But this point is valid for atheism too – people believe in just about anything, so what’s to say atheists are not among those who fool themselves? After all, there is no hard proof for atheism either. Now, I have found that God can actually be proved. Not by hard fact and not to a general public, but to us as individuals when we give him a chance and try to follow him. (When stating this I can of course only speak for my own religion.) The more we try to include God in our life, the more obvious will he make himself to us. The God of Christianity can never be found from outside our religion, only by diving into it, by giving it a sincere chance with an open mind and see where it takes you. This is equivalent to the professor in that little story deciding to launch his expedition and go search for that creature himself. Making a quick and half-hearted search in Christianity (or any other religion) only to soon say “I told you it’s only bogus” will never work and is equivalent to the professor taking a walk at the edge of the woods in order to prove his point.
     
  5. polymath

    polymath Tleilaxu Mentat

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    Nice reply Mr Spice :)
    I get what you are saying, you're right, and I equated 'atheist' and 'scientist' which are of course not the same thing. So your example is a good one of someone's casual dismissal of at-first-glance implausible concepts - it applies across the board I think. So I posted in haste, sorry about that.

    About 'thinking through your beliefs' I would expect being religious is rather demanding as it requires a lot more defending, IMO. And undoubtedly it is a very personal thing. For me it just doesn't hold water, though billions believe in some form of God. I don't know what to make of that, other than IMO we are these chance scraps of life that are struggling to make sense of it all, and reluctant to believe that it is just a bizarre chain of circumstance that has brought us here. It would be nice and comforting, perhaps, if there were some higher purpose to it all, if there were something we had to aim for. I ultimately subscribe to the notion that all we are here for is to spread our genes, the 'biological imperative'.

    I find this kind of thread the most interesting subject of all - it is after all the most fundamental question we can ask. Why are we here? How are we here? How should we act? We'll never find the answers here but we are all constantly talking about it, again and again.

    Glancing up at the topic of this thread (because we are drifting around the subject as usual), despite my own belief that religion is empty and holds no answers, the idea that we should call religion a 'failure' is laughable. The most powerful man in the world (Bush) is a religious man. Millions hang upon the word of the Pope. Religions unite the Middle East, and there are countless Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, you name it. Religion a failure? That's just plain dumb.

    Also as I said, religion can be a profound force for good. I am thinking e.g. of the monasteries which preserved reams of knowledge though the Dark Ages in Mediaeval Europe; or the way villages would cluster round a local church and gain a much stonger sense of community. But there are lots of examples.

    So while I am dogmatically opinionated that there is no form of God or soul, this isn't to say that believing in them is a bad thing. It's perfectly possible to be absolutely and totally wrong about something very fundamental and at the same time be a fantastic person. In my world view, there is no real rule other than 'treat people the way you would like to be treated yourself'. If we could all follow that rule then Utopia beckons. By the same token I would quite happily make several of the Ten Commandments law. Just not the ones concerning God and graven images and suchlike.

    Anyway I'm really enjoying this thread, and I hope you are too Mr Spice. And hopefully Fred LC will follow up on his promise to post something too - it is as I mentioned the most important and difficult subject of all. :crazyeye:

    BTW My job is to optimise websites for search engines, I'm not an 'engineer' - so if you want to be #1 on the Search Engines, I'm your man. :king:
     
  6. Righteous1

    Righteous1 Chieftain

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    This thread is certainly ending better than it started! :D

    Thanks for the reply FredLC and Polymath.

    FredLC, that proved to be more enlightening than you might think. Just a couple of comments on what you posted:

    “No afterlife, we are maggot’s chow. Sorry to be the one to bring the bad news.”

    To consider that to be news assumes that the idea is the truth. Unfortunately you have no more evidence of your position than I have for mine. Your take on the universe is as much a ‘belief’ as mine or perhaps more accurately a theory at best.

    “it’s the universe we are talking about… talk about a big lab.”

    I think of it more as the experiment than the lab, i.e. how would an amoeba prove the existence of the biologist? Personally, I don’t know how it could be done unless the biologist interacted directly with the amoeba. Or perhaps a more relevant example, Scientists recently ‘created’ the basic blocks of life as they believe started life here. Assuming those amino acids were capable of cognitive thought. How would they prove the existence of the scientists that ‘created’ them?

    Along those lines, the Bible speaks of becoming a Christian as being ‘born again’. How would the first twin to be born explain to the second in the womb what it was like on the outside? I suspect the conversation would be pretty humorous!

    Baby in the womb: Blue sky!? Green Grass!? People!!!??? You are whacked! Prove it. There’s no scientific evidence that I can see from here!”

    “We have just a blink of time. We better live it to the fullest, and make it worth.”

    Why?

    On the surface this sounds like a great view on life. If you get rid of the concept of a God that will judge how you live and get rid of the concept of an afterlife, then you can pretty much live however you want then die. But when I get beyond the surface, I like Mr. Spice find that view extremely depressing. In fact it’s pretty scary that this view is becoming so prevalent.

    If I stop and consider that all I am is a random collection of atoms that just happened to develop the ability of cognitive thought, I’m left with a ton of disturbing questions.

    Why should I get out of bed in the morning, when nothing I’m going to do will matter once I’m dead? If its not going to matter then, why does it matter now? It doesn’t really so why bother?

    If all I have is 80-100 yrs to live, why am I wasting my time working at a job? I can think of thousands of things I’d rather be doing. Because I need the money to survive? I’d get the things I want faster if I took someone elses.

    Why even worry about any of it. Why not end my life here and now and not have to deal with all the problems of life. The instinct of self-preservation? I’m capable of cognitive thought, I can override instincts. (If that were not the case I’d be off someplace with my wife and not on the job!)

    With this view on life, it becomes very very easy to become an extremely selfish person or even suicidal.

    If I consider the people around me to just be a random collection of atoms, then their lives have no value other than what I assign to it. That actually explains a lot about what we see in the news today. I can see now how a guy can get up at a restaurant and gun down a 3yr old child sitting across the room from him for no reason. Or how a couple of kids can walk into their school and start gunning down their classmates. After all, they were probably doing them a favor by killing them. Who are we to condemn them for that!?

    Why spend societies resources maintaining the lives of our elderly once they can no longer contribute to society? Or spend resources on a child born with a debilitating birth defect? Wouldn’t it be more prudent to just end their lives? Why waste so much money and resources on cures for rare diseases? Wouldn’t those resources be better spent on the healthy and hungry among us?

    After all, those people with rare diseases are just defective random collections of atoms, of what consequence is it if their lives are ended early?

    No, I think I prefer my deluded worldview as presented in the Bible in which there is a God who will judge how I and everyone around me lives. I prefer to think of the people around my as eternal souls who have value beyond a collection of atoms. Hopefully, they think of me as more than that as well.

    Jesus boiled the commandments down to two. If you follow those, you follow them all.

    1) Love God with all your heart, soul and mind. (Matt. 22:36-39)
    2) Love your neighbor as yourself.

    If you are right and there is nothing afterwards, then I’ve wasted my life trying to love God but so what, it won’t matter once I’m dead. But loving my neighbor has never been a waste in my experience. It not only improves their lives, it improves mine. So in that regard I will have lost nothing, IMO. I will have lived a good life regardless (even if one of the other religious faiths turns out to be right!).

    On the other hand if the Bible is right and there is a God that will judge me based on whether I’ve accepted Christ, then I will continue to live for eternity in heaven. Spending 70-100 years of minor inconveniences for an eternal life unfettered by the troubles of this world is really a small price to pay. Paul describes this as a Christian’s hope and this life as a race that we’re to win. There’s a prize to be attained at the end.

    Once I die, there is no second chance according to the Bible. This life is the proving grounds and where the decision is to be made. I would be the idiot to risk that based on a theory.

    Don’t get me wrong; I respect your decision not to believe though in a way it saddens me. The Bible is perfectly clear that the decision is ours to make, just be sure you understand the implications of that decision(and I have no doubt you are). I have no business condemning atheists for their decision any more then they have for ridiculing me for my decision. Christ commanded Christians to tell others about him. We’re not to ‘shove religion down others throats’ as some unfortunately do, but we are to tell others. We’re just doing what Christ told us to do.

    It’s been a good discussion. Thanks for you input!
     
  7. Archbob

    Archbob Ancient CFC Guardian

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    Well on this subject of religions. Christians may laugh at the Relians(or whatever that group is) saying that aliens came to earth and started life by genetic cloning but thats about as plausible as someone turning water into wine or a virgin giving birth to a child.
     
  8. Fr8monkey

    Fr8monkey Deity

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    Well, Rightous 1, I feel just as sad for you as you do for me. You obviously havn't read you Bible. I have read it. that is why I am an athiest. Having followers believe in rape, murder, incest, whole-sale slaughter of enemies, and genocide kind of turned me off. Please, before you start preaching, read your Holy book. Not just the glorious parts you hear in church.... the WHOLE thing. you may be shocked in what you are telling people.
     
  9. philippe

    philippe FYI, I chase trains.

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    Yep i read it too...
    all under the name of "God"
     
  10. Righteous1

    Righteous1 Chieftain

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    If I came off as preaching then I apologize, that was not my intent.

    For the record, I have read the Bible multiple times. Do I understand it all? No. And I don't have all the answers. That's why I still read and study it and will until I die.

    You are absolutely right, the Bible is not a pretty book. It doesn't gloss things over or paint all things rosey.

    As for your concerns about rape and incest. I don't interpret the stories in the Bible as being done in the name of God. The Bible documents that they occurred but it also documents the end result of those sins. In some cases, the effects were felt for generations. For me, it only shows that we haven't changed one bit in our 'enlightened' society today. Rape, incest, genocide, all these things still occur today and the perpretrators all have their various excuses. In some cases religion may be the excuse, but in reality it's peoples hearts that is the problem. Left to ourselves, there is no limit to how depraved we can treat one another and I include myself in that 'we'!

    As for the genocide, the people that inhabited the lands God gave to Israel weren't exactly saints. They engaged in human sacrifice among other things. This is a major no-no. Every civilization I can think of that engaged in this practice has met the same fate in one way or another. Whether God caused these others as well, the Bible doesn't say. But I suspect that he probably had a hand in it.

    God did not want Israel to be influenced by these pagan religions. Israel ignored the commands, and the Bible documents the troubles that caused them later.

    If God is God, then he has the authority to do what he wants. I can question it and probably will not understand it, but ultimately I accept it. Please note, this is my view, I fully accept that you do not share it.
     
  11. FredLC

    FredLC A Lawyer as You Can See! Retired Moderator

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    I will, be certain. I have simply had a busy day, and tomorrow does not look like it will be any different. But as soon as I find the time, I'll be posting on this thread.

    Regards :).
     
  12. polymath

    polymath Tleilaxu Mentat

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    "How would they prove the existence of the scientists that ‘created’ them?"
    - Righteous1

    I have a question (in the spirit of the 'what do atheists think' question.)
    Q: Who created the scientists? Why, if you think it so necessary that we must have had a creator, do you think it unecessary that that creator had a creator?

    There are lots of places where Christianity falls down, for me. This is a major one. If life didn't begin by chance, we are left with something that sounds to me totally absurd.
    Of course, I have no real idea where the universe, and whatever was before the Big Bang, are from. But I find that a more intellectually palatable idea than the idea of a God creating this vast billions-of-light-years Universe just to put on some crazy morality play in an obscure corner of it. The stage is too big.

    So, the question was, why does everything else in the universe require a creator, yet God doesn't?
     
  13. Mr Spice

    Mr Spice Emperor

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    Righteous1: Good posts! :)

    Fallen Angel Lord: You are right, objectively speaking the teachings of that group you mention is just as plausible as Christianity, atheism or anything else. Something is true though - be it a version of God/gods or coincidence. (By the way, the view of life on Earth being started by aliens does not seem to answer the quite important questions of why the universe exists, where life ultimately comes from and what is the best way of life.) This means it is entirely possible to evaluate the truth of all world-views and find out which one is correct, if any. None of them, not even atheism, can be proved by science. The only way to evaluate a religion (including atheism) is to check it out from the inside. Now, I have never checked that group you mention, but I have tried atheism and Christianity. In atheism I did not find much at all, but in Christianity I have found plenty – not only answers but enough of “individual proof” to convince me of Christianity being true.

    Fr8moneky and philippe: Not everything done by humans in the “name of God” is condoned by God. Not all religious people live and act as their religion teaches. Some people who claim to be Christians have no clue what Christianity really is and are further away from Christ than many atheists. You will find good and bad people in all religions (even atheism) who do both good and bad things. To consider the worst examples you can find as the most accurate description of the religion is heavily prejudiced.
     
  14. Mr Spice

    Mr Spice Emperor

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    Polymath: Thank you for the compliments! And my congratulations for a very good post from you as well. :) So you are no engineer after all? Well, sometimes my memory fails – maybe I’m starting to age. :lol: I’ll keep your real occupation in mind in case I should ever need professional boosting for my yet-to-start internet empire. :cool:

    You are right that being religious requires you to constantly defend your faith, which can be a bit demanding. Sometimes it’s fun, when all people involved are open-minded and polite. Sometimes it’s a true pain, for example when attacked by people who are not interested in discussing anything but only try to prove you wrong – and very aggressively so. It’s a curious fact that most people who discuss religion the latter way are atheists who typically label me a blind fundamentalist while describing themselves as open-minded. Sometimes religion tends to bring out the worst sides in all humans, even humans who claim to have no religion. And sometimes people who claim to have no faith turn out to be just as fundamentalist in their belief as the worst religious extremist. I’m always very happy when finding people like you and some others here who do not act that way. :thumbsup: Anyway, I’m drifting off the subject… :D

    I’ve always wondered about the “biological imperative” that you mention since to me it seems to have a very fundamental flaw. The theory tries to answer the question about a deeper meaning, but originates from the view that we are here by chance and consequently there is not deeper meaning at all. Life can’t both have no meaning and a meaning at the same time. Atheism and “the biological imperative” cannot co-exist. I’ve always seen the “biological imperative” more as an observation of one important function of life rather than The True Meaning of life. It’s also a bit curious to notice that people who are deeply convinced there is no meaning of life still try very hard to find meaning in the no-meaning, so to speak. (I hope that makes any sense at all.) This is a very big contradiction. Evidently every single human deep inside needs some sort of meaning or purpose. If we are here as a result of chance, this is not only yet another interesting and inexplicable result of chance, but also the biggest irony in universe.

    Those “spiritual needs” seem to be as important to atheists as to anyone else. In your previous post you ask what that is, and I’ll try to specify at least what I mean by it. To me, spiritual need is the need for all those non-material values that make us happy. Like love, helpfulness, humor, friendship, honesty and a meaning of life, for example. It’s all those values that allow us to enjoy life in a responsible way, all those things that improve the quality of life not only for us but also for people around us. In my opinion, the biggest flaw with atheism is that it offers no way to achieve and develop those values. In fact atheism does not even encourage them other than as an individual choice of means to enjoy our 70-or-so utterly useless years on Earth, equivalent to all other means of “enjoying”life such as bossing people around, violence, rape, etc as righteous pointed out. All other religions include some teachings of what makes mankind happy as a whole and how to achieve it, in a way or another.

    The “dismissal at first glance” is one important point with that small story about the professor, and I agree it applies across the board. :) There is another important point as well, that applies mostly to atheists. In my experience, no people talk as much about the very important subject “meaning of life” as atheists do. I suspect this is a result of atheists being the only ones who have not found any meaning. It’s quite interesting to observe how this works. In my experience the typical behavior is to talk and think a lot about religion, but always dismiss it in the way the professor does. When people find out that I’m a Christian, they usually want to discuss religion with me. Often it’s very obvious that they are trying to search for that “meaning” they secretly want so badly, but don’t admit they need. But they are always repelled by the fact that I can offer no hard evidence for God. When it comes to religion (but normally not in other cases) the “typical atheist” wants undeniable proof before accepting anything else than his own non-provable view. In this way many atheists act the way the professor in that little story – talk about God with other atheists and sometimes “listen” to people who claim to have found God but always dismiss them (often even before the discussion starts). And most atheists never truly search for God themselves.

    If that creature in the story exists all it takes to find it is to acknowledge that it can’t be proved at the office, but has to be found in the wilderness. The professor has to be courageous enough to embark on that expedition despite the inconvenience and the mockery of people in town, head off into the unknown on a sincere search determined to stay away for a considerable amount of time (months, maybe even a year or so). He has to decide if his secret and well-hidden dream is worth sacrificing some pride and reputation for, draw a thick line over his prejudice against those people who claim to have spotted the creature and start listening to them. (Ideally he would listen to those who seem decently trustworthy.) Equivalently, if the god of some religion does in fact exist all it takes to find him is to search for that god on his conditions instead of our own. The God of my religion values everything that is good and offers an excess of all those “spiritual values”. If my God exists and someone decides to make an honest and determined search for him and is prepared to make some sacrifices for those spiritual values, then my God will sooner or later show himself to the one who searches. We only have to decide whether the prize is worth sacrificing some pride and effort for or not.

    About your question to righteous about why God needs no creator: Every single world-view ultimately ends up in the paradox of something either emerging from nothing or having existed forever. In atheism, it’s the laws of nature (that enabled Big Bang) that have either emerged from nothing or existed forever. In Christianity it’s God. No matter what world-view we put our faith in there is no way around this paradox. We simply have to accept our inability to answer, understand or explain that paradox.
     
  15. Perfection

    Perfection The Great Head.

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    I think that's a major problem with us atheists, although we have a valid philosophical arguement, we shouldn't hold it as the "only reasonable thing and non-belevers can eat my poop." UI'm ashamed at a lot of peopole who outright attack people who believe in god. Sure sometimes a little discussion is fine, but don't belittle people for their beleifs it makes them hate your side even more.
     
  16. polymath

    polymath Tleilaxu Mentat

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    Another great post Mr Spice. I'd like to expand on:
    "Life can’t both have no meaning and a meaning at the same time."
    I don't see the biological imperative as having a meaning, it's just what life does...it replicates. I don't see that life has or needs a meaning, any more than zinc or iron oxide, or a galaxy, has or needs a meaning. It's just the way matter behaves - it can form life or compounds or whatever - what is the meaning of a chemical reaction? So I don't think that there is a meaning of life in the way that you do. I would, however, love to know for certain all about it and how it came about.
    As far as other meaning goes, I embrace the 'fact' that I am descended from apes...I am a very clever monkey, from a branch of clever monkeys who learned how to use tools, to manipulate, to move beyond the narrow band of animal urges thanks to this wonderful brain we evolved. They learned how to plan, and record those plans, and to communicate on a greater scale and with more methods than any other animal we know. I find the steady march of refinement and improvement over hundreds of millenia to be as majestic as any other observation in the universe. I can literally see it before me when I look at the great apes...I just know ;) that we share the same kind of heritage, it is as clear and obvious to me as God is to a religious person. :)
     
  17. FredLC

    FredLC A Lawyer as You Can See! Retired Moderator

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    Hehehehe… it’s interesting that it’s exactly a thread that begun with an open invitation to war that became the most reasonable religious discussion that I’ve seen in this forum.

    Perhaps Civfanatics is growing a little. ;)

    Anyway, despite I don’t have the proper time, I’ll make my move. It’s growing to a point that soon I’d have to let go some of the posts I want to reply. So either I do it now, or don’t do it at all.

    I see that you have already clarified that this is your perspective about some atheists that you know, not about atheism in general. This pretty much takes away the relevance of what I intended to say here. I think you and polymath have worked this out well enough already.

    I believe that there is a fundamental difference here that you are disregarding, Mr. Spice.

    See, the existence of the universe is palpable. Except for some philosophical rhetoric of unreasonable skepticism, there is no way to argue against it. Thus, it has some origin, even if that origin lacks a starting and/or finishing point. I mean, even if we believe that universe existed forever, that is no denying that it came to be what it is.

    One of the many traits that we can observe about the universe, and about nature in general, is the existence of “events”. Continents join together; mountains arise; volcanoes explode; it rains on some afternoons. All those events have the observable characteristic of shaping the environment.

    Equally, events happen in cosmic scale. Black holes, supernovas, etc, etc, etc….

    Atheism, than, does not really rely on faith… but, actually, in extrapolation. Yes, we don’t know everything about the universe (despite there is no reason to believe that achieving complete knowledge is impossible in the VERY long run); but the idea that it’s shaping was carried out by blind events – simply, a far larger and wider scale of what we witness every day – is a reasonable conclusion, because it relies on the continuity of a certain pattern of behavior, which’s existence, as I described, is undeniable.

    Of course, it CAN be wrong… but the odds in favor of it are pretty decent.

    Now, theism – I don’t want to talk about any in particular, it goes to all – does not rely on the quite logical idea that universe behave by natural coherence. It is the idea that at some point, the chain was broken by the insertion of an element that is not bound by the cause/consequence paradigm… that being God(s).

    That, together with the logical impossibility of his/her/its abilities and behavior, is what makes the idea of God, despite just as impossible to prove as the big bang (or any other godless proposal) a lot more extraordinary. And that is why there can be no comparison between the faith necessary to accept it, and the reasoning required to acknowledge atheism.

    Well, thank you.

    Hey, don’t mind this. Despite I obviously consider my take to be the correct one, my wording were nothing but a joke. I never, in any moment, intended to patronize or expect that you accepted my opinion as “the correct one”. ;).

    A few hours after I posted, I realized that the word “lab” was a poor choice, because it would bring arguments on this exact line, comparing universe with an experiment, and God with a scientist. I actually simply wanted to expose that in such large environment, the idea of another place possessing conditions that are permissive to the development of live, even intelligent life, is not absurd.

    I don’t really think of universe as a “lab”, or in any way as a place or as a subject for experimentations.

    Anyway, following the idea you gave, there is no reason why amoebas can’t prove the existence of scientists, except that they lack the intellectual capacity. After all, we, unlike the description of God, are made of flesh and blood, materials that are detectable and measurable. The proof, than, would be very simple; all what would be needed would be some sort of machinery that performs like a telescope.

    Of course, there can be always argued (despite that only by ignoring that the palpable nature of human composition makes the comparison inaccurate), that an alike thing happens to humans; that we lack the intellectual capacity to prove God. However, there is a small catch that shows the tragedy of this argument… And it is that also, we are unable to prove ourselves to an amoeba. Their limitation is so castrating that even if we want desperately to make them acknowledge us, we cannot do so.

    Thus the difference. I believe that no religious person will argue that God is incapable of proving himself beyond all atheistic arguments; certainly, all the religious thinks that, if so he chose, he could show up physically, perform an undeniable miracle or two (say, psalms of fire written in the surface of the moon, or shaping Europe as a giant cross), and end this debates.

    We, unlike amoebas, are sentient beings. Even to those who believe that we would never be capable of understanding God, there is no denying that humanity would have the capacity to acknowledge him.

    That is why the example is badly flawed, my friend.

    About the baby… well, all he/she would have to do is get out and see for himself. Again, you can say that it’s just what atheists have to do, to look for God and see for themselves. But again, there is another serious difference. The baby would see the world, even if he were experimenting with the specific purpose of proving that the world does not exist. It’s very different than the usual religious request that people have to be “open-minded” to find God.

    See, reality has this way of smashing whatever tries to ignore it. Just pretend that there is no wall in front of you, and what will you accomplish? Move forward, as you wish, or break your nose in the concrete? And it will happen, even if I do not have an “open mind” to the existence of walls.

    Righteous1, you are not the first, and, most likely, won’t be the last to give me this line of arguing. Basically, you are saying: “if what we have is just this, it’s not worth, so why bother working/building (let’s be selfish) and why don’t people just end it now (let’s be suicidal)?”

    I have to say that this perception is way too simplistic.

    end of part 1
     
  18. FredLC

    FredLC A Lawyer as You Can See! Retired Moderator

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    part 2

    being selfish:

    As a lawyer, I have studied quite a lot of politics and a little philosophy. At a certain point, in the very beginning, I mean, in the premises of both those disciplines, they are alike. They base themselves in one principle, that is the idea that “no man is superior to others”.

    See, humanity is a social species. We have the need to live in groups, specially, because we needed to overcome our individual weakness (we are not particularly fast or particularly strong in nature). The proximity generated conflict, as there is just so much material goods available to an always growing number of needs. In consequence, the life in-group turned very difficult, as each and everyone tried to impose their will over the will of their group mates.

    Very soon, experience demonstrated what kind of behavior was beneficial to the maintenance of the groups, and what kind worked in dismantling them. No one need to be genius to see the destructive power of killing, stealing and raping, or the benefits of working in teams and sharing. It is as Francis Bacon said: “Good is, what repeated “ad infinitum, would turn the world into heaven. Bad is, what repeated equally, would turn it into hell”.

    The beneficial behaviors, once identified, were exhaustively repeated until they became the very famous “law of the land”, a inherent set of rules that are instinctively followed by the members of the community, disregard of what they believe.

    It was very well described by Thommas Hobbes in “The Leviathan”, when he came up with the idea that the collectiveness has the power of a monster; joining it grants us it’s mighty protection, but in order to enjoy the protection, we have to pay the price, that is to give up our inherent prerogative of doing anything and accept rules of behavior.

    So there you have it. The reason why, even without God, people won’t go for simply “taking what they want from others” is, in immediate terms, because they would suffer legal consequences; in mediate terms, because it would lead to the collapse of society, re-instituting the law of the stronger, in which no man, no matter how smart and strong, is safe from treachery and abuse; and, philosophically, because the behavior pattern is already printed, at least in general terms, in our instinctive impulses.

    And this also goes as for why sustaining the elderly and/or the sick; because that humanitarian feeling is not a prerogative of deities that they concede as they please, but in fact a human peculiarity developed by social experience.

    And the same goes for the love for your neighbours.

    being suicidal:

    This just don’t make any sense.

    First of all, if I imagine people that is depressed, certainly one that believes that by killing himself he will reach a better world is far more tempted than one that thinks that will fall in oblivion.

    Second, for most of humanity, even religious people, there is a sense of accomplishment that exists within this life. I’d say that people, who do not have the slightest worry about this realm, but just for his reward in heaven, are actually quite a few. And for those who do not believe that there is another world, this is the one and only chance to be happy; to make the world a better place. To leave a legacy that that will enhance the humanity, that will still be here, benefiting people after they go, and, in this humanitarian sense, live forever.

    Nonetheless, rightous1, rest assured, I also can respect your position. We both preach love and tolerance, even if we get there from different paths. That is, by far, the most important thing.

    I know I won’t be very original in this reply, but this idea carries a logistical problem.

    Yes, any attempt to explain the universe will ultimately fail when it tries to describe how the first of all things came to be.

    However, thinking that it was God does not fit in logical thinking, because it relies on unnecessarily augmenting the complexity of the system, a behavior that goes against natural processes.

    See, the smaller distance between two points is a straight line and fluids will move from the zone with more pressure to the zone with less pressure. We can witness in nature that processes tend to follow the path that demands less effort. Science acknowledge this by enunciating the “parsimony principle”, more known as “The Occan Razor”, that dictates that “given two scenarios of equal value, the simpler tends to be the true”.

    This was graphically represented (I think in this very thread) very well, by the idea that 1 + 2 = 3 has far greater chance of being right than 1 + 2 + X = 3. Now, the first one is complete. The second CAN be true (X can be 0, or an enormously complex equation that solves as 0), but it requires a complexity that is not necessary to complete the system.

    So, in one hand, you have “reality = unreachable mystery of origin”; in the other, “reality + God = unreachable mystery of origin”.

    And, to make matters worse, God is superior to reality, being all mighty and perfect. This makes the mystery even more mysterious and unreachable.

    So, I think it makes clear how the acceptance of God is a element that multiply unnecessarily the complexity of the system, thus being unacceptable by a logical pattern of thinking.

    I guess you are taking this wrong. The biological imperative does not signify a “meaning to life”, let alone a “deep” meaning.

    See, let’s assume that when the four first things came to live, one of them had both an instinct of survival and an instinct of reproduction; the next one, just of survival; the next one, just of reproduction; and the last one, none of them.

    Obviously, numbers 3 and 4 didn’t survive, at the mercy of the iniquities of life, from which it didn’t search for defense. Number two probably survived long, but didn’t pass it’s genes to a new generation; just number one succeeded in both.

    Thus, that biological instinct is a universal characteristic just because it’s a necessity to all species in order to guarantee its permanence. Whoever lacked it wouldn’t stand a chance of reaching more elaborated evolutionary refinement. It's not impossible that something like that existed, but the chance that it would live and prosper, like species that struggle to live and reproduce, is thin.

    However, in itself, it does not mean any more “meaning” or “reason” for life than our need to eat, to sleep or to use the toilet.

    I think that you are making a small confusion about atheism here. It simply means that we do not believe in God, or deities in general. What does not mean that we don’t need or want a meaning to life.

    What we will always dismiss is the implication that the meaning of life in inherent and given by God. The view of a humanist is that life has only meaning if human beings grant it.

    Agreed. I, for one, have nothing against religious people, and also do not regard them as inferior. I know much more religious people than atheists, and, due to simple proportions, I know much more intelligent people that are religious than atheists.

    Attacks have no place in debates, and worse of all, take away all the fun in the intellectual digressions.

    Regards :).
     
  19. onejayhawk

    onejayhawk Afflicted with reason

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    Start a new thread already. The initial post became irrelevant pages ago. if you have some issues to discuss, start a thread that focuses on them.

    J
     
  20. stormbind

    stormbind Retenta personam!

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    London
    As long as you're on Earth, this debate will never end!

    However, to address the original question...

    Without religion, there's no distraction for the nonbelievers to argue over and the purpose of life becomes... nothing!

    Many people, especially those in dispair, will see no purpose for life, and just end it. Whether they go out in a blaze of glory or just fade away doesn't matter, society needs religion to survive.

    Nonbelievers in depression end up ten times more depressed than religious people faced with the same issues. A world without religion would be a dark place.

    On the flip side, drug lords wouldn't exist because drugs wouldn't illegal! :lol:
     

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