Atheism and the day of prayer

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Mr. Hartmann,

I have listened to your radio show for years here in Seattle on AM1090, in my opinion the best political radio show currently being produced. On the show, sometime during the last week or so, you were discussing atheism (I think the topic might have been about the prayer day). During the discussion you equated atheism to religion. I have to disagree. Atheism is nothing like religion. Because of the complexity of the subject I wasn’t sure how to respond but I did come across an article by Austin Cline (link and full text of the article below) that nicely covered many of the reasons I disagree with your atheism as religion position. I hope you take the time to read it.

Atheism is no more a religion than not believing in Santa Claus. Religion is organized brainwashing that starts at birth, atheism is closer to the exact opposite of religion. Most atheists I have met came to the realistic conclusion there were no gods in spite of the continual religious indoctrination we as Americans are forced to not only listen to, but also in most cases, expected to participate. There is no proof of gods of any kind. There is however a lot of proof that religions are created by men (Scientology being one of the most recent) and are used to control as many people as possible.

I also think you were mixing two different things. There is not believing in gods of any kind and there is being against religion, what I call anti-theism. Religion is bad and has been the bane to man’s existence (the Dark Ages being one example and the systemic abuse of children in the Catholic Church being another) and continues to preach intolerance, hate, and killing. Though they may be remotely related becoming aware there are no gods and realizing that religion has and is creating sickening levels of violence are not the same.

JW
Seattle, WA


Article, Link
(http://atheism.about.com/od/definitionofatheism/p/AtheismReligion.htm)

Article, Full Text

Is Atheism an Ism? Atheism is No Religion, Philosophy, Ideology, Belief System
By Austin Cline, About.com Guide

Atheism is not an "Ism":
When people talk about "isms," they are referring to some "distinctive doctrine, theory, system, or practice" like liberalism, communism, conservatism, or pacifism. Atheism has the suffix "ism," so it belongs in this group, right? Wrong: the suffix "ism" also means a "state, condition, attribute, or quality" like pauperism, astigmatism, heroism, anachronism, or metabolism. Is astigmatism a theory? Is metabolism a doctrine? Is anachronism a practice? Not every word that ends in "ism" is a system of beliefs or an "ism" in the way people usually mean it. Failure to realize this can be behind other errors here.

Atheism is Not a Religion:
Many Christians seem to believe that atheism is a religion, but no one with an accurate understanding of both concepts would make such a mistake. Atheism lacks every one of the characteristics of religion. At most, atheism doesn’t explicitly exclude most of them, but the same can be said for almost anything. Thus, it’s not possible to call atheism a religion. It can be part of a religion, but it can’t be a religion by itself. They are completely different categories: atheism is the absence of one particular belief while religion is a complex web of traditions and beliefs. Atheism is Not a Religion...

Atheism is Not an Ideology:
An ideology is any "body of doctrine, myth, belief, etc., that guides an individual, social movement, institution, class, or large group." There are two key elements necessary for an ideology: it must be a group of ideas or beliefs and this group must provide guidance. Neither is true of atheism. First, atheism is by itself just the absence of belief in gods; it's not even a single belief, much less a body of beliefs. Second, atheism by itself offers no guidance on moral, social, or political matters. Atheism, like theism, can be part of an ideology, but neither can be an ideology by themselves.

Atheism is Not a Philosophy:
A person's philosophy is their "system of principles for guidance in practical affairs." Like ideology, a philosophy comprises of two key elements: it must be a group of beliefs and it must provide guidance. Atheism is not a philosophy for the same reason that it is not an ideology: it's not even a single belief, much less a system of interconnected beliefs, and by itself atheism does not guide anyone anywhere. The same would be true if we defined atheism narrowly as denial of the existence of gods: that single belief is not a system of principles. As with ideology, atheism can be part of a philosophy.

Atheism is Not a Belief System:
A belief system is a "faith based on a series of beliefs but not formalized into a religion; also, a fixed coherent set of beliefs prevalent in a community or society." This is simpler than an ideology or philosophy because it's just a group of beliefs; they don't have to be interconnected and they don't have to provide guidance. This still doesn't describe atheism; even if we narrowed atheism to denying the existence of gods, that's still just one belief and a single belief is not a set of beliefs. Theism is also a single belief that is not a belief system. Both theism and atheism are part of belief systems, though.

Atheism is Not a Creed:
A creed is a "system, doctrine, or formula of religious belief, as of a denomination" or "any system or codification of belief or of opinion." Atheism is not a creed in the first sense for the same reasons it's not an ideology or philosophy, with the additional factor that that it has nothing inherently to do with religious belief. There are no atheist "denominations" and even narrowly defined it is not a religious formula. Atheism might appear as part of someone's creed in the second sense because a person might codify their positions, including atheism. Otherwise, though, atheism has nothing to do with creeds.

Atheism is Not a World View:
A world view is a "a comprehensive conception or image of the universe and of humanity's relation to it." This comes a little bit closer to atheism than anything thus far. Although atheism by itself does not offer any guidance on how to conceive of the universe and humanity's relation to it, it does exclude certain options — namely, those centered around some god. Excluding certain types of world views as options does not, however, qualify as a world view itself; at most, it might be part of a world view. Atheism is certainly not comprehensive in anything it might have to say, not even if defined narrowly.

Is Godless Liberalism a Religion?:
Calling “Godless Liberalism” a religion should be recognized as an ideological attack rather than a neutral observation of facts. Sadly this is not the case and it has become far too common for critics of liberalism to claim that it’s inherently godless and religious, thus hoping to discredit liberal policies before they are even considered. The fact is, godless liberalism doesn't involve any of the basic characteristics common to religions: belief in supernatural beings, separate of sacred and profane objects or times, rituals, prayer, religious feelings or experiences, etc. Godless Liberalism Is Not a Religion...

Is There a Godless Church of Liberalism or Atheism?:
Ann Coulter and others have repeatedly used the label “godless” as a political smear. Because of their efforts, it’s become common in America to treat “godless” like a scarlet letter. Why would people who make a big deal out of being religious believers themselves consider it a criticism to accuse godless liberals of having a "church"? The truth is, there is nothing about godless liberalism that is church-like: there is no holy scripture, no churches or clergy, no cosmology, no higher power, and nothing else that is characteristic of churches. There is No Godless Church of Liberalism or Atheism...

Making Atheism More Complicated Than It Really Is:
The refutations of the above claims are all similar because the source of the errors is basically the same: people who describe atheism as as philosophy, ideology, or something analogous are trying to depict atheism as being much more complicated than it really is. All of these categories are defined in one way or another as systems of beliefs which provide guidance or information. None of this can describe atheism, whether defined broadly as the absence of belief in gods or narrowly as denying the existence of gods.

It's strange that this would happen because almost no one says such things about atheism's "opposite," theism. How many claim that mere theism, which is nothing more than a belief in the existence of at least one god, is all by itself a religion, ideology, philosophy, creed, or worldview? Theism is a common doctrine and it is commonly a part of religious dogmas. It's also commonly part of people's religions, philosophies, and world views. People demonstrate no trouble understanding that theism can be part of these things, but doesn't qualify as one all by itself.

So why do people fail to realize this when it comes to atheism? It's probably because of atheism's long-standing association with anti-clerical movements and dissent from religion. Christian theism has so dominated Western culture, politics, and society that there have been few sources of religious or theistic resistance to this domination. At least since the Enlightenment, then, atheism and atheistic groups have been a primary locus for freethought and dissent from Christian authority and Christian institutions.

What this means is that most people engaging in such resistance have ended up being pulled into the sphere of irreligious atheism rather than into an alternative religious system. Atheism doesn't have to be irreligious nor does it have to be anti-religious, but cultural trends in the West have caused atheism, irreligion, and opposition to religion to be drawn together in such a way that there is now a high correlation among them.

As a consequence, atheism tends to be associated with being anti-religion rather than simply the absence of theism. This leads people to contrast atheism with religion rather than with theism, as they should. If atheism is treated as the opposite of and opposition to religion, then it will be natural to assume that theism is itself a religion — or at least some sort of anti-religious ideology, philosophy, world view, etc.

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Comments

You lay out the argument well.

We have a very vehement discussion on this topic recently here, as well.

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reed9
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Apr. 8, 2010 11:26 am

I would refer you to the past thread on atheism v. religion for intelligent posts on this subject.

I am afraid that Mr. Cline simply adds another piece of confusion to the topic because he does not understand ideology or philosophy, to begin with, and his conclusion ignores the fact that a great many of the atheist posts are attacks on religion where atheism is posed as the intellectually honest alternative to superstition.

Let us stipulate that the subject is confusing because the language used is not precise. The culture dealing with religion and faith is confusing and contradictory.

To give the elevator speech version, religion does not require theism. Theism is a metaphysical model of useful poetic imagination prior to the discoveries of Newtonian Physics. The first rule of metaphors and metaphysics is that they are not history or science and must not be used as such. This would save 99% of the religious folk from becoming stupid about "beliefs." Living in a story does not require that it is "real" so much as it leads us there.

What is the reality construct of any particular atheist? The problem of reality is that it is a mystery beyond our comprehension, so we explore it learning more, but also finding it bigger than we had thought, and more complex.

If one embraces being "secular," what happens to the "sacred?" They are partners in a reality model, so if you get rid of "god" do you also lose the sacred? If not, how do you describe it in non-theistic terms? As a theologian, that is where my thinking goes as a post-secular and post-theistic theologian. The subject matter of theology has always been the meaning of being human and what we are to do about it.

The big deficiency for me in the atheist rejection of religion is the absence of an atheist community of celebration and action. It is one thing to complain about the metaphysics and another to argue that metaphysics has no intellectual integrity or utility. My "theology of faith" links belief, doubt, imagination and mutuality to correspond to the developmental process of human maturation. It is an interactive model rather than a linear journey to an end.

I have said before that the issue of atheism bores me. Do metaphors exist? Do they have ontology? What difference would it make if God did exist? What do you gain by God not existing?

I would prefer we focus on what it means to be human and why love is powerful and justice necessary. Or not? The moral issues are about the abuses of power, not our personal frailties. Where do we obtain the sense of moral integrity to stand up against "the principalities and powers of this world?" What makes them powerful or just tall, that's all? Big Boss Man.

To answer the point I raised earlier, ideology can be individual as well as a group think phenomenon. An ideology is just a way of thinking that does not yield to reality and alters reality to fit its narrative. Philosophy adapts its thinking to experience and evidence instead of insisting that the world must be as "thought." Poly correctly diagnoses ideology as diseased thinking. Philosophy can be wrong and learn.

Finally, although it is common usage, I oppose treating "faith" as if it were religion or "belief." Faith is about being human and religion may or may not help one get there. The issue for atheists is how to address that question of being human and what moral and reality constructs they need to use to address it. At this point, I regard theism as the equivalent of Newtonian Physics. It can still get you to the moon, but it cannot explain the universe. Because we learned too much from Newton to fit into his model.

The history of theism is not as bad as atheists would have it. Real intellectual conflict with theism is modern and was caused by the discoveries of archeology, geology and astronomy. Many of the great scientists were also Christians and Jews of religious sincerity. If God is understood to be the Author of All Truth and the Embodiment of Love and Justice, faith is intellectual and moral integrity, not a matter of learning the rules and obeying them. Doubt is an essential to honor the God of Truth.

I am not defending the Crusades or the Inquisition, or the Salem Witch Trials, or Cromwell or any of that stuff. But it is not the whole story of the work of the Church or the lives of the Saints, and that is the point. If we compare secular and sacred atrocities and horrors, it becomes clear that religion is less the cause than the vehicle used by fear and alienation. It is true that wars of religion are the worst, and it is also true that religion becomes the point of retreat for threatened peoples as well as the myths to justify the lusts of power.

But it is also the story of Liberation Theology where "God speaks directly to the poor." They are not debating atheism. They are recovering a sense of humanity driven out of them by dominator bosses and powerful corporations as they hear the story of the Exodus. God loves the slaves, the least of these. Their humanity matters at the heart of reality and power. It is a transforming story, truth delivered in a myth.

Come up with an equally powerful story of liberation and hope for the poor. Not just an economic program, a humanity recovering one. Find a way to frame the falseness of power so naked emperors and court prophets lose all authority. Appreciate how religions go wrong as ideologies, but are part of the conversation when philosophy and open-ended methodologies are employed. The problem of ideology does not stay confined to what we label as religion, as we have seen with Wall St and the American Century.

I translate the First Commandment as "Thou Shalt have no other Realities than Reality Itself." We do not "create our own realities." We do have our own perspective on the bigger mystery of reality, but keeping our imagination grounded in reality is essential to faith and all intellectual integrity. For example, the Supremes have managed to create a metaphysics of money and personal freedom that is clearly out of touch with reality--unless Caesar really is God.

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Quote DRC:If one embraces being "secular," what happens to the "sacred?" They are partners in a reality model, so if you get rid of "god" do you also lose the sacred? If not, how do you describe it in non-theistic terms? As a theologian, that is where my thinking goes as a post-secular and post-theistic theologian. The subject matter of theology has always been the meaning of being human and what we are to do about it.

The subject matter of humanist philosophy has also always been the meaning of being human and what we are to do about it. Disbelief in God or the supernatural does not entail a loss of wonder. (Frankly, I think it adds to the sense of wonder.) Atheists can experience awe and delight and wonder at the universe. It doesn’t diminish what you call “sacred”. A term with questionable use. My position is that 1) nature delights me, so from a purely selfish perspective, I want to protect and nurture it, and 2) having no sense that humans are particularly special in the scheme of the universe, I can’t help but conclude that we have no particular right to control, destroy, or dominate other life or planets. Why should I have more “right” to live than any other creature? Evolution has endowed me with a survival instinct, so when it comes down to humans or other animals, I’m probably going to side with the humans, but objectively there is no reason my life means more than the life of another living creature. Evolution has also endowed us with a sense of empathy, so I happen to care more about creatures than I can empathize with, ie, mammals, than creatures I have a difficult time empathizing with, ie, insects.

Quote DRC:The big deficiency for me in the atheist rejection of religion is the absence of an atheist community of celebration and action. It is one thing to complain about the metaphysics and another to argue that metaphysics has no intellectual integrity or utility. My "theology of faith" links belief, doubt, imagination and mutuality to correspond to the developmental process of human maturation. It is an interactive model rather than a linear journey to an end.

That is precisely why atheism is not a religion. There is no cohesive philosophy or belief system or community. There are subsets of atheism that do have communities of celebration and action. The secular humanists and skeptical movement are two examples.

Quote DRC:I have said before that the issue of atheism bores me. Do metaphors exist? Do they have ontology? What difference would it make if God did exist? What do you gain by God not existing?

What do you gain by positing a God? It doesn’t add to our understanding of the universe. It doesn’t add to our understanding what it means to be human. I would agree that atheism is a little boring, primarily because religion and theology are boring and atheism can’t really be talked about except in relation to religion.

Quote DRC:I would prefer we focus on what it means to be human and why love is powerful and justice necessary. Or not? The moral issues are about the abuses of power, not our personal frailties. Where do we obtain the sense of moral integrity to stand up against "the principalities and powers of this world?"

I would refer you to the book “The Science of Good and Evil”. A lot of work has been done on the evolutionary origins of ethics and morality. All social creatures display various behavior we might term “moral”. Cooperation, altruism, and what we call love can be evolutionarily stable strategies. I reject the primarily religious, egocentric notion that humans are somehow “special” and more than other animals. (One of the problems with God is that the proposition places humans in a special relationship with the universe that excludes other animals.)

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I will look it up because it will help my case. The more science there is behind the evidence for the moral reality of what has been regarded as not scientific or natural compared to Social Darwinism and eugenics (in the recent past) will give the stories that taught these morals more credibility in our history and tradition.

Where is it established that religion made the domination of nature by humans God's Will? The message of stewardship morphed into domination by what process? Is there a difference between hard rock farming as toil to fight with nature to get enough to live and the BP arrogance about the right to get the oil damn the consequences?

Because theology is about being human here, the focus of its interest has to be human-centered. The implication that if it is about us, we have to be the most important and most loved by God is our own error. The stories of faith spend a lot of time working on correcting these errors.

My theater professor friend who claims to be an atheist is part of a "ten minute play" group of thespies in Eugene. His recent playlet has the top Gods in Heaven wondering why the people on earth keep praying to them. They have no idea what to do with the prayers or what they could do to change things down on earth. They have nothing to do in heaven either. Finally, acknowledging that they can't prevent the praying, they decide to answer them. What the hell, it beats doing nothing.

His interest in atheism has made him into an interesting theologian. Atheism could be a positive religious frame, and the critique of religion would be better too. We are confused about what religion means, and we have enough bad religion to fuel strong reactions. I appreciate the moral sensibilities and embrace of life with sensual joy and compassion for others you have stated. If everyone could find the same spiritual delight in "reality," it would be great. But the story of the science of good and evil may be less gripping than the data is useful.

Science can get into a Sgt. Friday, Just the Facts mode and argue for a lot of ideas about nature. Commerce reduced reality makes BP's decisions just bidness. What does bind us in human solidarity, for "liberty and justice for all," or for care for "the least of these?" I think facts are a big part of what establishes authority, but "the human" element in the story is what we have to internalize to make it more than instrumental to the "facts." "Secular reality" can be stark and reduced, and the debate about the science of compassion v competition will not be objective.

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To DRC;

There are a couple of things you say that I find interesting. "The big deficiency for me in the atheist rejection of religion is the absence of an atheist community of celebration and action." This is part of my point, atheism is not religion and Thom is wrong in equating the two.

"To give the elevator speech version, religion does not require theism." Well it may not require a belief in a single godlike diety but even Scientology (wich is leagally a religion) believe in some other power (although I am not all that familiar with Scientology). It may not be strictly "belief in the existence of a god or gods" ,they do seem to believe in a higher power, but the outcome is the same as a religion, they operate as a religion, promote themselves as a religion, and their goal is to control people just as any theistic religion does. And theism is not just "a metaphysical model of useful poetic imagination prior to the discoveries of Newtonian Physics." as the current attack on evolution proves.

I don't remember where I read it but there is a quote that says something to the effect; a cult is just religion without political power. "The history of theism is not as bad as atheists would have it." OK, but the history of religion sure is as bad and even worse than most can imagine.

For many, faith is a suitable substitute for knowledge, as death is for a difficult life. Religion/Faith is a vice not a virtue. Faith is belief in something in the absence of evidence, which is all religions, be they theistic or not.

There are no gods.

JW

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I think the religion of Wall St. is even worse than the Southern Baptist theocratic agenda. Oh, they call it economics and treat it as if it were a science. Pardon me.

The point of having no other "gods" is to get rid of the pretenders. You do not give me the credit of my own words as you simply repudiate what I said about religion and faith. Faith is not belief in the absence of evidence even though that misconception is commonly prattled about. I don't talk about "blind faith" or "leaps of faith" in opposition to intellectual integrity. I think it is the evidence that supports the inclusion of a moral integrity balance to intellectual integrity. Too many minds without hearts screwing up the real world. Hubris, not realism.

Others have given better answers and have affirmed a humanistic moral agenda they find implicit in a "non-religious" atheism. No problem there. I believe every reality construct engages in theology and that whenever we ascribe authority, truth, morality or power to anyone or thing we are engaging the sacred. For example, love is very real and present, but it is also hard to explain why it is so important or powerful in our lives. I applaud those who find "scientific" evidence instead of relying on myths, but when the science shows that the stories were telling the truth, we might treat them with more respect.

You do not have to discuss the bad things connected to religion, or to state power, or to money. I think I covered that while also pointing out that the evidence is mixed, not all bad. And compared to other human institutions, if the Church did not claim high virtue it would just be another player in a history often tragic.

My question about communities of celebration and purposeful action is unanswered. Atheism is not a religion, you claim, so it does not lead to anything like that. OK, where do you get led to these community experiences? I get the impression that atheism's antagonism with religion gets stuck at "Counter-Dependence" and an adolescent question. Those who continue to grow and move on to more important questions have charted things like the Science of Good and Evil and other research showing why compassion and sharing work better than competition and hoarding.

Being angry at religion is a symptom of not being able to let go of the anger at being lied to. The problem is that belief has been misunderstood and misused to stifle thinking. It is really about a common bond of trust when we "believe in" our metaphysics, myths or even credos like the Pledge of Allegiance. The religion of America is rampant, and for better and for worse. If we could use the religion to be inspired to be good citizens of the world, our faith pay-off would be a realism beyond our normal ability to obtain. When we use it to cover our eyes to the truth, it leads us to greater sins.

There are no gods in the Pentagon either. It is time they got the message.

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Quote DRC:Where is it established that religion made the domination of nature by humans God's Will? The message of stewardship morphed into domination by what process?

I honestly don't think that, at least as far as the Judeo-Christian tradition goes, there was a message of stewardship that was later perverted.

Genesis 1:26-28 states, "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth."

The history of the debate over whether animals have souls, the adherence to a geocentric astronomical model, the rejection of evolution. (Darwin knew the impact his work would have on the religious community, and only made a weak statement as to the evolution of man in the "Origins of Species", when he said merely, "Light will be shed on the origin of man, and his history.")

Not to say that in the history of science there has not also been an extreme view that animals, as mere mechanisms, are undeserving of respect or care. Science does not claim to be a source of morality though. As we have discussed before, it is simply a method of determining the validity of truth claims.

My argument is that our expanding concept of morality has nothing to do with religion. It is a social and cultural phenomenon. Religious institutions are followers in the movement, not leaders. Rights and justice are concepts derived from our experience of past wrongs, not absolutes handed down from on high. The increasing loss of species and damage to the environment has awakened the moral sense within (some of) us.

The book the Science of Good and Evil is simply a discussion on the evolutionary origins of our behavior. Why humans might have evolved to engage in behavior such as "altruism" which on the surface doesn't make much sense as an adaptive trait, or why we are adept at "dehumanizing" people we perceive as "others", allowing us to commit atrocities against them.

Rejecting the idea of souls and God and looking closely at our evolutionary history and origins opens vast new vistas of knowledge and understanding into human nature. Religious philosophy isn't up to the task of illuminating those deep mysteries of life.

It isn't enough for me to ask why love is powerful. That's a simple enough answer. Love is powerful because we feel it to be so. It doesn't help understanding or lead to new things. I want to know origins, I want to know the social, biological and evolutionary history, the chemistry. I want to understand the cases where people cannot feel love, or cases where we feel too much love. (There is a disorder William's Syndrome which causes one to feel too much "love".)

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Apr. 8, 2010 11:26 am

DRC....

You must see this debate between Michael Shermer and Deepak Chopra that was aired on ABC's 20/20 program this past March. Here I think you'll find much of the position that Atheists hold to faith, God, religion and the belief in such. The topic was, "The future of God".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-8-Yxdphsg

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DRC...you have a tendancy to fly off into many many other examples when the case here is very simple. Atheism is NOT a religion nor a belief system similar to religion(s) or a belief in a supreme being. Which by the way, believing in (your) God cannot be exclusive from. "Faith" as is commonly associated with religions and belief as is a Godhead NOT part of the Atheist position.

Like the original poster said, a non belief in Santa Claus is not a religion. Its really that simple.

'Your' God is not the only God(s) that people believe in on this planet. So lets get that straight. Just because you come from one particular religion or faith, doesn't mean its right, the only one, the only 'truth' out there nor correct. You'd be at odds with historic religions and the God(s) of native American Indians, Greeks, Eqyptians, Hindus, Buddhists, Shintos, and thousands upon thousands of religious beliefs or godheads worldwide.

HONEST Economics is a science. But using it the way you are here is to discredit the way our economic system does work. And now that we do UNDERSTAND the MECHANICS of how Wall St. did distroy our economy, we can closely relate it to a scientific process and NOT a religion.

Being angry at religion is a symptom of not being able to let go of the anger at being lied to. The problem is that belief has been misunderstood and misused to stifle thinking. It is really about a common bond of trust when we "believe in" our metaphysics, myths or even credos like the Pledge of Allegiance.

If we could use the religion to be inspired to be good citizens of the world, our faith pay-off would be a realism beyond our normal ability to obtain. When we use it to cover our eyes to the truth, it leads us to greater sins.

As an Atheist, I am not angry at religion. I might consider many God believers or religious to be hypocrites in that the overwhelming majority don't practice what they preach. But I don't think anyone that is religious or not ends up having stiffled thinking just because of their faith or belief in a creator.

Regarding the last part of your quote, I'm not sure what "truth" you're referring to? The "truth" of the bible or scripture? Or 'truth' in the greater sence of being correct or not correct on any given subject.

I would agree with you that if people that were religious used it to be better stewards of the world, it would be a better place to live. But to say a "faith-pay off" would be a reality greater than one created by purely logical and empathitical thinking where love were the focus is purely wrong. Pay attention to Albert Einsteins words here. Albert was well known to have no belief in a 'personal god'.

"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."

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Quote DRC:Too many minds without hearts screwing up the real world. Hubris, not realism.

"Secular reality" can be stark and reduced, and the debate about the science of compassion v competition will not be objective.

This seems to be the crux of the issue to you and the link between what we were talking about and the seeming non-sequitur of money worship on Wall Street.

It seems to me, and correct me if I'm wrong, that your concern boils down primarily to the old saw that we cannot be moral without religion, or at least without 'faith' (as you define it, not as it is commonly used).

You worry that an embrace of materialistic naturalism will make the world soulless. That if we reject concepts like "sacred", or view love as nothing more than biology, then we will not value life or the planet, right?

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Apr. 8, 2010 11:26 am

Where I think 'faith' has its point is in that very 'pursuit of truth'. First off, it takes a form of 'faith' to believe in 'the truth'. Many of those without faith have already abandoned the idea that there is such a thing as 'the truth'. Secondly, in search for 'the truth', where do you go to find it? Is it to be found in the 'average of the many' as in some statistical analysis, the 'feeling of the few' as in knowing your own community, or the 'understanding of the one' as in reciprocating what you see in others as a way to understand yoursel (and vice-versa)?

Since I do believe that all consciousness comes from 'the one' that contains it, as the individualist that I am, I am a big proponent of the 'understanding of the one' being the primary component in 'the truth'. The 'average of the masses' and 'mutual comraderie' alone don't point the way to 'the truth' that much for me. However, in seaking out that goal of 'the truth', I know that I am beset with the contingencies between subjectivity and objectivity, emotion and reason, uniqueness and mutuality, etc., that both gives 'the truth' a more comprehensive perspective but, at the same time, opens up the potential of the 'distortion of the dichotomies' to misdirect and confuse--not only in myself but those around me. So, in my manner of seeing the 'one-ness' of 'the truth', I carry a concept of a supranatural 'one truth depository' or 'integrity binder' that I call 'God'--and I see NOTHING in man's set-ups in communities or in nature's realm of functions able to attain such a unity of 'the truth' on their own.

In a way, it's not just the 'fact of the matter' that can supply 'the truth' even if 'the fact of the matter' is part of it--it's more an appreciation of how emotional reactions and reasonable assertions can be ascertained with (and without) the 'facts' that constitute and direct who I am. If I can make no integrity out of that set-up, then, there is no integrity in my life or my world--which, to me, portends to a sense of helplessness that invites dominating oppression to overcome it if one is not careful and attentive. The 'integrity binder' perspective helps me overcome that encroaching doubt--and keeps my belief in 'the truth' going....

As far as what I've read to depict an understanding of 'the truth' as I best perceive it, the best one that I have come across is in the 'un-canonized' writings of a saying credited to Jesus found in the Nag Hammadi Library--and used by R.D. Laing, who depicts his radical psychiatric thesis that 'society', based as much on competiton and the power ploys that involves as any comraderie and order, and a 'society' that does as much to alienate as to conjoin 'the people' in those functions, puts this statement in his book, The Politics of Experience, as a foreword. I've quoted it before in thomland and it's verse 22 in The Gospel of Thomas found in the Nag Hammadi Library here:

Jesus saw infants being suckled. He said to his disciples, "These infants being suckled are like those who enter the kingdom."

They said to him, "Shall we, then, as children, enter the kingdom?"

Jesus said to them, "When you make the two one, and when you make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside, and the above like the below, and when you make the male and the female one and the same, so that the male not be male nor the female female; and when you fashion eyes in place of an eye, and a hand in place of a hand, and a foot in place of a foot, and a likeness in place of a likeness; then you will enter (the kingdom)."

'The truth' of the 'oneness' that comprehends the known and the believed from every angle, every circumstance, every fact, every emotion, every motive, every case. 'The truth' that still needs to be known and expressed--but, that 'knowledge' won't come unless you actually believe in 'the truth'--and, as far as I can see, 'the integrity binder' that contains it...

The problem with atheism (and I, at one time in my life, was a professed atheist--I have also told that story in thomland before) is that it already says there is nothing like that as 'the truth' can involve that form of 'faith'....and otherwise all you have is 'nature' or 'averaging' or even just 'opinion' to go by.....and none of those lead to what I am referring to in my concept of 'One' as 'the truth'....


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Jhonster1 said

Like the original poster said, a non belief in Santa Claus is not a religion. Its really that simple.

Wow postulate that you have insight into the nature of existence itself and all you need to know is there is no santa claus. It is all so simple

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To mattnapa: There are no gods! Atheism is not a religion nor is it even close.The Santa reference is to - atheism is not religion - it is not about the "insight into the nature of existence itself", which by the way christians and other theists believe that a god is responsible for the nature of existence while ignoring science and the reality of facts.

To DRC: You have a very convoluted perception of reality.

To Kerry: God is not the truth, god is a lie, there are not gods!

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Quote mattnapa:

Jhonster1 said

Like the original poster said, a non belief in Santa Claus is not a religion. Its really that simple.

Wow postulate that you have insight into the nature of existence itself and all you need to know is there is no santa claus. It is all so simple

How is that postulating insight into the nature of existence? Why should we suppose "god" is any more substantial an idea than Santa Claus? God (or gods) can neither be proved nor disproved. As such, I think it's immaterial to our lives and we should just get on with living as best we can and understanding those things which it is within our power to understand. (Which is why I called religion boring before.) My cat does not need God to enjoy a sunbeam, and neither do I.

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To Kerry: God is not the truth, god is a lie, there are not gods!--LoudPatriot

This is, of course, your opinion...:).....How do you know that to be 'the truth'? You are actually misconstruing my perspective of 'faith'--and, I think it is mentioned in that verse 22 that I quoted. 'Inside like the outside and outside like the inside' or, if you want to put an 'emotional' perspective to such knowledge, 'the male so that he will not be male nor the female female'.

While that perspective on first glance seems somewhat elusive, when you think about it, I think you can see its point. Even in the canonized Bible, Jesus positions himself strongly against 'the hypocrite'. What's a hypocrite? Moreover, what's the psychological perspective on what hypocrisy contains? It's like the inside is NOT like the outside and the outside is NOT like the inside--psychologically, lying as much to yourself as you are to others in these acts of 'hypocrisy'.

Do we live in a world of hypocrites? I think we do--and I think we do in a manner that has me understand why Jesus was so much against them (perhaps in his own expression and understanding of 'the truth'..). What does this world offer to extract out the hypocrites? Nothing that I can tell on its own--other than a belief in the 'integrity binder'....and, if that belief were made the reality, 'the truth' would stand out....or, rather, maybe I should say that I have 'faith' that 'the truth' would stand out....

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Quote Kerry:Do we live in a world of hypocrites? I think we do--and I think we do in a manner that has me understand why Jesus was so much against them (perhaps in his own expression and understanding of 'the truth'..).

My position, and I think that of many atheists, is partly that we don't need Jesus or Buddha or anyone to warn us against hypocrisy or other such things. Our own experience of wrongs in history is plenty adequate for the job, and folks don't really get their moral framework from books, in any case. Inasmuch as stories can tell us something "true" about what it means to be human, and people draw inspiration from such stories, whether it's the bible or Shakespeare, fine. I only object when it is purported to be a literal truth.

"We get our morals from books. I didn't get mine from books, but I know that morals do come from books- theoretically at least." -Mark Twain

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I only object when it (religion?) is purported to be a literal truth.--reed9

I see 'literal truth' as having too much faith (and I do mean 'faith'..) in 'matters of fact'. 'Matters of fact' mean nothing without interpretation. And, it's the interpretation of those 'matters of fact' that is the crux of (at least part of) this issue. Now, how much 'faith' are we to have in the 'interpretation'? How do we prove the 'interpretation of the facts' as much as we assume the 'matters of fact' to be true? Can we really separate the two meaningfully in our quest for the knowledge and insight that I am trying to describe as 'the truth'?

While it has been noted by others (than me) that even children have an inset 'hypocrisy detector', determining what is false is not exactly the same thing as assuring what is true. As I've tried to point out, if we aren't careful in that judgment, we can be left with the idea that 'nothing is the truth'--and it does take a form of faith to overcome that. That 'faith', to me, is carried in my concept of the 'integrity binder'. Is it 'real'? I think that you have too much 'faith' in 'literal truth' if you think that's how 'real' is defined.....


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I appreciate all your comments. The subject is complex and convoluted, and the simple answers are simplistic most of the time.

This is why I insist that faith be separated from religion per se so we can treat the serious quest for meaning in our human lives as a cognitive reality. People trying to sell religion do not want to make that distinction or admit that "faith" is not dependent upon religion. But at least in the Jewish and Christian traditions, the Bible is clear about who gets in the way of the prophets and Jesus. It is the defenders of religion--and those who abuse power over others. They usually go together.

The context of the National Day of Prayer offends me because I don't think public shows of religion are likely to be honest and are always unseemly. I talk about faith in neutral terms rather than religious code words or spiritualized ambiguity. I base it in human development theory. I stipulate that atheists engage in it because it is not religion.

Many atheists have described their approach to secular humanism and how they personally find nature and reality pointing toward interdependence and moral reality. I want to encourage that thinking.

"God" is a part of our history, at the very least. Even if it was always a myth and metaphor "real" only in a metaphysical sense, theism has been the dominant mode for the expression of human religions, and those religions have been the primary form human beings have used to address the questions of human meaning and purpose in life on earth. Respect the historical fact even if you disagree with the utility of the metaphor.

I think it has become hard to use theism creatively. For those who want to be religious for many decent reasons, "God" can still be a useful way to pray and feel spiritually whole. In this example, "feeling" is the point of the spiritual exercise and has no scientific evidence of there being a god. It is "evidence" that the devotee found spiritual satisfaction in the practice, and it is also possible to assess whether or not what was sought was healthy or not.

The classic test of health is "growth" rather than stagnation or regression. It has little to do with dogma other than how beliefs and stories help or harm the process. Being open-minded and alert to the "new thing God is doing" is religious language for the kind of scientific observer awareness where the expect the unexpected reigns. The "false gods" are the things we give too much authority and reality to because they are not what we think they are. In today's world, the "gods" do not claim to be religious, they proclaim themselves to be "reality."

As a celebration of the virtue of doubt, "atheism" is a healthy devotion to truth and honesty. True followers of Job in refusing to cop a plea or cover a philosophical bet. Go down to hell with my integrity unless God answers me, says Job. Funny religious story designed to put it to the moralistic Deuteronomic reformers who taught good gets good and bad gets bad. Nice idea, but not that simple in this world.

As Einstein knew as well as anyone. As to how much we "need" Buddha or Jesus or any religious tradition, I agree with the part about our experience with this world being the real authority--and so do those traditions when we get past the gatekeepers. What makes these stories have authority is that they speak to our experience and being. Many make the religious mistake of forcing the stories and metaphysics to be "real" in the wrong way, which means that do not get what is real in the right way.

You are all ahead of that game and I just wish you could get past the issue of religion. Call your reality constructs whatever you wish. Think of the theories of power and authenticity or the moral vision of your politics and ethics as secular if you will. But why not speak of being realists instead of invoking the secular image? I may be quibbling about semantics, but sacred/secular=reality is language fact.

I think this would clarify much of the thinking about how we think about being human. "Realism" is a zen term because Reality is a greater mystery than we can comprehend even as we explore it from many perspectives. We aim to be realists, but we have to keep revising our understanding of the mystery in the light of new knowledge and perspective. Sometimes we even have to change the paradigm and rethink the whole thing. I think it is really cool and I want atheists to have as much fun being "theologians" as they deserve.

Instead of fighting about the subject of religion, why don't we talk together about the human activity of "faith" about being human in this world. Sure, it is an embrace of life instead of its rejection. Is that a leap or just being conscious? I think it is the only thing that makes sense, to live and be free instead of hating life and wishing for a hiding place. Being in on the joke is the secret of life.

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Quote Kerry:I see 'literal truth' as having too much faith (and I do mean 'faith'..) in 'matters of fact'. 'Matters of fact' mean nothing without interpretation. And, it's the interpretation of those 'matters of fact' that is the crux of (at least part of) this issue.

Is it 'real'? I think that you have too much 'faith' in 'literal truth' if you think that's how 'real' is defined.....

Surely there is a massive and self-evident difference between statements of literal truth like the 'earth is spherical' and 'I was born', and "truth" statements like 'Jesus rose from the dead' or even 'God is love'. As I've said before, if science or reason is religion, then we ought to oppose teaching it in public schools.

Matters of fact do mean nothing without interpretation. Why insist on meaning? If you want to classify my belief that there is an objective universe independent of human existence and that we are capable of perceiving at least some portion of that universe as faith, I won't quibble too much about semantics. I don't think it's a good word to use, it has too much baggage that comes with it, but I can understand where people would get the idea.

Quote DRC:You are all ahead of that game and I just wish you could get past the issue of religion. Call your reality constructs whatever you wish

If everyone held to your view of faith and religion, we could likely get past the issue. But that is not how the vast majority of people practice religion. Until religious fundamentalism is a footnote in history and not a major political and world power, I'm going to keep vocally opposing religion. Until I can walk down the street in a city like Colorado Springs with a shirt proclaiming my atheism without harassment or fear of bodily harm, I will do everything in my power to reduce religiosity in the world.

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Matters of fact do mean nothing without interpretation. Why insist on meaning?--reed9

Simple. I don't believe 'nothing is the truth'. And, I don't believe that objective perception covers subjective interpretation, either--and I don't believe that life, especially human life, can be lived without subjectively interpreting objective perceptions. And, I don't believe there is any way you can factor that out of human life, either....but, I do believe that hypocrisy obscures 'the truth' and I don't see anything able to check that in this world other than my concept of the 'integrity binder' and, alas, it actually takes 'belief' for it to even do that....

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Quote Kerry:

Simple. I don't believe 'nothing is the truth'. And, I don't believe that objective perception covers subjective interpretation, either--and I don't believe that life, especially human life, can be lived without subjectively interpreting objective perceptions. And, I don't believe there is any way you can factor that out of human life, either....but, I do believe that hypocrisy obscures 'the truth' and I don't see anything able to check that in this world other than my concept of the 'integrity binder' and, alas, it actually takes 'belief' for it to even do that....

My point is primarily that there is an "objective" universe to be perceived. Yes, whatever it is happens to be filtered through our subjective perceptions. But our perceptions are accurate enough that we can confidently agree that it is more truthful, or factual, to say that the earth is spherical than it is to say that the earth is trapezoidal, right? And where our intuition and perceptions fail, we have developed a method (science) which can compensate to some extent for those failings. So even though we perceive a table to be solid, we know it is in fact mostly empty space.

Facts, perceptions, and "truth" mean something to us because we are pattern seeking, meaning making creatures. There is no inherent meaning in the universe. What meaning did a star have a billion years before our species existed? What meaning will it have a billion years after our species has disappeared into the void?

It is arrogant of us to conclude the universe or the planet was made for us, or that we are the pinnacle of evolution. But people like to feel special and God lets us pretend we have a privileged place in the universe.

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Some of these comments are hilarious. Keep up the good work reed and the other rational posters. :)

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It is arrogant of us to conclude the universe or the planet was made for us, or that we are the pinnacle of evolution. But people like to feel special and God lets us pretend we have a privileged place in the universe.--reed9

There is no inherent meaning in the universe--reed9

Keep up the good work reed and the other rational posters. :)--Poo tee weet (?)

Um, what's the 'rational' perspective to a 'universe with no meaning'?



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Quote Kerry:

Um, what's the 'rational' perspective to a 'universe with no meaning'?

Why would it be more rational for the universe to have intrinsic meaning? Because it makes us feel better?

Good old William of Ockham said it, "entities must not be multipled beyond necessity." God, universal consciousness, intrinsic meanings, none of them are necessary.

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[quote=LoudPatriot]To mattnapa: There are no gods! Atheism is not a religion nor is it even close.The Santa reference is to - atheism is not religion - it is not about the "insight into the nature of existence itself", which by the way christians and other theists believe that a god is responsible for the nature of existence while ignoring science and the reality of facts.

Who are you to say whether there are gods? A lot about what atheism is not. What is it? Can you even begin to define it by its own merits? Or is it always about what it is not?

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Jhonster1 said

Like the original poster said, a non belief in Santa Claus is not a religion. Its really that simple.

Wow postulate that you have insight into the nature of existence itself and all you need to know is there is no santa claus. It is all so simple

How is that postulating insight into the nature of existence?

You know the claim well why do you insist in making me spell out the obvious. The logic is claiming a god is the same as claiming santa, spag monster etc. The point is, and none of you will apparently ever get this, the question about god is about the nature of existence.

Why should we suppose "god" is any more substantial an idea than Santa Claus?

Well, God made Santa for one.

I guess the idea is that because we have the ability to create imaginary characters then we must assume any considerations on the nature of existence is somehow "the same." They seem like clearly separate phenemenon.

God (or gods) can neither be proved nor disproved.

This does not mean that cogitating on the issue does not have meaning. The assumption you make is that thinking needs to lead to only yes and no answers.

As such, I think it's immaterial to our lives and we should just get on with living as best we can and understanding those things which it is within our power to understand. (Which is why I called religion boring before.) My cat does not need God to enjoy a sunbeam, and neither do I.

Well I am glad you reminded us that you previously called religion boring. Can I reply that I am bored by the second mentioning of it? Similarly I do not need you to tell me that you "know" something intrinsic about the nature of a sunbeam, and tell me that my perhaps god given experience of sun is false Let us all have our personal experience of sunbeams private. I am all for it.

Also on the question of meaning. Atheists do not need to argue for meaninglessness. Sartre and the rest attributed a great "meaningful" significance to the existential struggle with the void. The human experience has meaning, The questions surrounding our existence have meaning. How Reed chooses to use the word I am not sure. It seems to be more on the lines that we are not connected to the universe in a meaningful way. Pretty unintelligble to me. All we are is meaning.

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Quote mattnapa: Who are you to say whether there are gods? A lot about what atheism is not. What is it? Can you even begin to define it by its own merits? Or is it always about what it is not?

That's rather our point, mattnapa. Atheism is simply a-theism, without theism. It's not a religion because it's not a positive belief system. Newborn children are de facto atheists, and presumably animals. There are non-religious groups with a philosophical life stance such as secular humanists, which I mentioned before. Or slightly less cohesive is the skeptical movement, though there are some religious folks within that who embrace methodological naturalism rather than metaphysical naturalism.

The only reason I use the term atheism is because it's immediately understood, whereas the above two groups often take some explaining. But atheism is always about what it is not; it is by definition a negative statement and not a value system.

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Quote mattnapa: You know the claim well why do you insist in making me spell out the obvious. The logic is claiming a god is the same as claiming santa, spag monster etc. The point is, and none of you will apparently ever get this, the question about god is about the nature of existence.

Because it's not at all obvious to me or many other people. The reason we compare God to Santa or Spaghetti Monsters is because we absolutely do not see a significant different between the two, and just as it seem weird, absurd, and meaningless to say something like, "Froofy Snargleblasts are about the nature of existence", I find it equally weird, absurd, and meaningless to say God is about the nature of existence. God is a word that can mean anything, as we can plainly see by the vast and varied number of beliefs and interpretations of it. As such, it kind of means nothing. The word is an empty vessel into which people pour in their own content and as such it tells me something about the person but nothing about God.

At best you're making it into a tautology, where you're just saying it's true by definition. But that makes it empty of external meaning as well. It doesn't tell us anything about God or love to say something like, "God is love."

Quote mattnapa:

Why should we suppose "god" is any more substantial an idea than Santa Claus?

Well, God made Santa for one.

What if Santa made God? How do you know he didn't?

Quote mattnapa: I guess the idea is that because we have the ability to create imaginary characters then we must assume any considerations on the nature of existence is somehow "the same." They seem like clearly separate phenemenon.

They seem like exactly the same phenomena to me, as witnessed by the creation of new cults and religions. Look at Scientology or the Universe People.

Quote mattnapa: This does not mean that cogitating on the issue does not have meaning. The assumption you make is that thinking needs to lead to only yes and no answers.
No, it just ought to be relevent. Remember, I do not see a substantial difference between Froofy Snargleblasts and God, so it's just as strange to think about the former and it's meaning to me or the universe as the latter. It's interesting in the context of history, just as the snargleblasts would be if they had taken root a couple thousand years ago. But it's not interesting in the context of describing the universe.

Quote mattnapa:The questions surrounding our existence have meaning. How Reed chooses to use the word I am not sure. It seems to be more on the lines that we are not connected to the universe in a meaningful way. Pretty unintelligble to me. All we are is meaning.

Perhaps I haven't been clear. I absolutely think our lives and existence have meaning...to us. I'm saying meaning is not an intrinsic part of reality. We, humans, create our own meaning. There is no destiny or purpose to our lives other than that which we create for ourselves. It was not fated that we meet in a forum and discuss these issues, but we have the choice to act and create meaning and context based on this random event.

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"Um, what's the 'rational' perspective to a 'universe with no meaning'?"--me

Why would it be more rational for the universe to have intrinsic meaning? Because it makes us feel better?

Good old William of Ockham said it, "entities must not be multipled beyond necessity." God, universal consciousness, intrinsic meanings, none of them are necessary.--reed9

Is 'making us feel better' a 'rational perspective', reed9? The question I asked was, in a 'universe with no meaning', what's the 'rational perspective' for it? And, if (but, of course, don't let me set up any 'strawmen' or put words in your mouth--so, please, address the point) you say that there is no 'rational perspective' because, as a 'meaningless universe', there is no 'rational point', then, the question becomes what's the point of rational thought? Some of us believe that an 'integrity binder' is necessary to compel rational--and honest--thought....vs. hypocrisy....but, then, I admitted that that takes a 'belief in the integrity binder' to do so, also....

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reed9 to mattnapa:

But atheism is always about what it is not; it is by definition a negative statement and not a value system.

So, can man operate without a value system? And, in a 'meaningless universe', what would be the 'rational' basis for a value system?

I'm as skeptical as they come--but, I am NOT a skeptic about my own belief in 'the truth'.....and the need for an 'integrity binder' to ground that....

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Another reed9 quote to mattnapa:

I absolutely think our lives and existence have meaning...to us. I'm saying meaning is not an intrinsic part of reality. We, humans, create our own meaning.

Well, if we 'create our own meaning', why does it have to be 'rational'--and how is it 'rational' in a 'universe without meaning'--and, now, as you've added to the pointlessness to it all, how is it 'rational' when 'meaning is not an intrinsic part of reality'? What is your purpose of 'rational thought' in a 'meaningless existence' that is 'created'? And, if it is 'created', where's the literal truth behind that--or even any 'rational purpose' for that matter? Since you are the one being credited with 'rational thought', I was just wondering what 'rationale' you were using that makes it so....'rational'..... let's see, could it be 'nothing is the truth'? Don't let me put words in your mouth or 'create strawmen' for you....

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Again, reed9 talking to mattnapa:

The reason we compare God to Santa or Spaghetti Monsters is because we absolutely do not see a significant different between the two, and just as it seem weird, absurd, and meaningless to say something like, "Froofy Snargleblasts are about the nature of existence", I find it equally weird, absurd, and meaningless to say God is about the nature of existence.

Is the 'nature of existence' a literal truth to you, reed9? Something that can only be 'proven' by, perhaps, what you believe to be 'objectively credited'--most likely, as our discussions so far have indicated, from the 'mass averaging' of statistical analysis (but, again, don't let me put words in your mouth, however, I would like to see how you answer it as the 'rational person' that you get credit for--and, notice I put 'believe' in there for you, also, reed9--because you actually don't really prove, rationally or otherwise, everything you state as true, rationally or not, either, do you?).

I'm just having a hard time following the 'rationale' on why you are even 'rational' in your 'universe with no meaning'....and, what 'ratonale' your 'rational thoughts' are based on in this 'universe with no meaning'....and where 'meaning is not an intrinsic part to reality'...

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Because it's not at all obvious to me or many other people.

Sure the difference is obvious. You may wish to pretend it is not so that you can simply group anyone who asks questions beyond the patently obvious as a voodoo worshiper

The reason we compare God to Santa or Spaghetti Monsters is because we absolutely do not see a significant different between the two, and just as it seem weird, absurd, and meaningless to say something like, "Froofy Snargleblasts are about the nature of existence", I find it equally weird, absurd, and meaningless to say God is about the nature of existence. God is a word that can mean anything, as we can plainly see by the vast and varied number of beliefs and interpretations of it. As such, it kind of means nothing. The word is an empty vessel into which people pour in their own content and as such it tells me something about the person but nothing about God.

You have wrote the book on the subject apparently. The word has a defenition. If you wish to use some other termonology so the discussion of the nature of existence can take place, then do it. I am not stuck on the word "god" as an end all, but if we could use somethiung else so that you can stop simply hiding behind relativistic contracptions which obscure discussion then please do

At best you're making it into a tautology, where you're just saying it's true by definition. But that makes it empty of external meaning as well. It doesn't tell us anything about God or love to say something like, "God is love."

Well I use apply defenitions to my words. By external meaning I guess you mean god in the objective sense?

Quote mattnapa:

Why should we suppose "god" is any more substantial an idea than Santa Claus?

Well, God made Santa for one.

What if Santa made God? How do you know he didn't?

By defenition that would be illogical. Yes it is clear that you did not get Descartes logic.

Quote mattnapa: I guess the idea is that because we have the ability to create imaginary characters then we must assume any considerations on the nature of existence is somehow "the same." They seem like clearly separate phenemenon.

Who would thought the power to imagine would lead to the systematic elimination of rational concerns on the questions of existence. What a bummer

They seem like exactly the same phenomena to me, as witnessed by the creation of new cults and religions. Look at Scientology or the Universe People.

Yes they are postulating religous phenemenoa, but somebody who is simply imagining a new character for a cartoon strip is not. See the difference?

Quote mattnapa: This does not mean that cogitating on the issue does not have meaning. The assumption you make is that thinking needs to lead to only yes and no answers.
No, it just ought to be relevent. Remember, I do not see a substantial difference between Froofy Snargleblasts and God, so it's just as strange to think about the former and it's meaning to me or the universe as the latter. It's interesting in the context of history, just as the snargleblasts would be if they had taken root a couple thousand years ago. But it's not interesting in the context of describing the universe.

Well if you cannot distinguish between cartoon figures and the question of existence I feel sorry for you

Perhaps I haven't been clear. I absolutely think our lives and existence have meaning...to us. I'm saying meaning is not an intrinsic part of reality. We, humans, create our own meaning. There is no destiny or purpose to our lives other than that which we create for ourselves. It was not fated that we meet in a forum and discuss these issues, but we have the choice to act and create meaning and context based on this random event.

How do you judge such things? We have been here before. Meaning is not the word for predetermination. However it is your mechanical non free will universe that suggests predetermination anyway. And now we are back to random events as well. An argument you were unwilling to take on earlier

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Kerry, it's increasingly clear that you are not interested in having a reasonable discussion about these issues, but primarily interested in trying to catch me out. Understandable, perhaps, given that I was not kind in my previous attack on your AIDS denialism. However, it is a waste of my time to respond to your snide remarks.

If anyone else is interested in continuing a real conversation, I will be happy to participate.

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reed9
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Quote mattnapa: Sure the difference is obvious. You may wish to pretend it is not so that you can simply group anyone who asks questions beyond the patently obvious as a voodoo worshiper

In all sincerity, it is not obvious to me. For that matter, why should the voodoo worshiper get less respect than a Christian? Why is worshiping Zeus more absurd these days than worshiping Christ? I really truly don't get it.

Quote mattnapa: You have wrote the book on the subject apparently. The word has a defenition. If you wish to use some other termonology so the discussion of the nature of existence can take place, then do it. I am not stuck on the word "god" as an end all, but if we could use somethiung else so that you can stop simply hiding behind relativistic contracptions which obscure discussion then please do

Please define God for me then. I have no idea what you mean by God. And explain why your definition is better than someone else's definition.

Quote mattnapa: Yes they are postulating religous phenemenoa, but somebody who is simply imagining a new character for a cartoon strip is not. See the difference?

Yes, the cartoon strip doesn't pretend to be true.

Quote mattnapa: Well if you cannot distinguish between cartoon figures and the question of existence I feel sorry for you

But I don't see that religion answers questions of existence. From my perspective, the religious folks are essentially saying the cartoon strip is a deep discussion on the meaning of existence. Well, perhaps the best cartoons do have something important to say on what it means to be human at least. But again, the cartoon strip doesn't claim to be true. They use story and metaphor and humor to communicate.

Quote mattnapa: How do you judge such things? We have been here before. Meaning is not the word for predetermination. However it is your mechanical non free will universe that suggests predetermination anyway. And now we are back to random events as well. An argument you were unwilling to take on earlier

When did I say we had a mechanical non-free will universe? I'm pretty sure I've said that indeterminacy appears to be a fundamental aspect of reality and that quantum mechanics pretty much destroyed any hope we had of a deterministic clockwork universe. When was I unwilling to take on randomness? What did you want me to respond to regarding it?

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reed9
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Apparently tradition and the myths and metaphors which religion brings to the table outweighs its negative aspects for many. That's fine with me.

It still doesn't make atheism a religion and I'll take honesty over relying on the myths (control) of religion with which to base my life on.

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Poo tee weet
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Kerry, it's increasingly clear that you are not interested in having a reasonable discussion about these issues, but primarily interested in trying to catch me out.--reed9

I'm just asking questions on your 'rationality' and your position of being 'rational' when it comes to your 'conclusion' that 'the universe has no meaning' and 'meaning is not an intrinsic part to reality'. Maybe I should be more basic to my questioning so as to not get your feelings hurt. OK: Does 'rationality' to you have a 'meaningful' conclusion, and, if it's not that the 'universe has meaning' and 'reality has meaning', then, what is it?

Understandable, perhaps, given that I was not kind in my previous attack on your AIDS denialism.--reed9

I'm willing to continue that conversation on the other forum if you are....despite your personal attacks on my integrity....

However, it is a waste of my time to respond to your snide remarks.--reed9

I could say the same--but, then, I don't give a whole lot of credence to personal attacks on computer forums from people that I don't see--and don't see me....I just take them for what they 'are worth'...

If anyone else is interested in continuing a real conversation, I will be happy to participate.--reed9

Ah, yes, the ultimate cop-out. Coming from such a 'rational' person, that's disappointing...

I've told you my position. Let me summarize it, again, for you: I'm as skeptical as they come but I am NOT skeptical about my belief in 'the truth' or the need for an 'integrity binder' (that I choose to call 'God'--real or 'imagined'..) to bind that 'truth' to. What's yours? First off, do you believe in 'the truth'? And, if not, what is your basis for 'rational thought'? They shouldn't be 'trick questions' to someone that thinks 'rationally' as you, are they?

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Apparently tradition and the myths and metaphors which religion brings to the table outweighs its negative aspects for many. That's fine with me.

It still doesn't make atheism a religion and I'll take honesty over relying on the myths (control) of religion with which to base my life on.--Poo tee weet (?--what a name...)

'Honesty over relying on the myths'. You make a lot of claims here, Poo tee weet. What 'rationally' determines 'honesty' vs. 'myths'? Are you saying that 'logic' has 'its own conclusions'? And, what might those be? Do you believe in 'the truth'?

And, like I've tried to ask reed9, if ultimately there is 'no meaning' in 'the universe' or 'reality', then, why be 'rational' at all?

Furthermore, who said 'God' has to be 'confined by religion'?

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Kerry, I've been down this road before in numerous forums and have no desire to repeat the experience yet again. If you need a watch maker to make sense out of your life, so be it.

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Is that your 'rational' conclusion, Poo tee weet? And, not even one 'ratonal' comment on whether you believe in 'the truth' or not....

Thought so....:)......

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There is an interesting post over at sciencebasedmedicine.org which I think is pertinent here. Though not specifically about religion, it is about the utility, or should I say futility, of trying to debate some people.

The gist of it is as follows

There are a number of compelling reasons why it is pointless at best and counterproductive at worst to debate a denier, denialist, crank, or whatever you want to call it. For one thing, for a debate to be an intellectually useful exercise, there should be two reasonable points of view being argued, points of view that have a sufficient amount of evidence to support them that it is not unreasonable to hold either view being debated. The evidence doesn’t have to be of equal quantity and quality on each side, of course, but it should at least be somewhere in the same ball park — or on the same planet. This isn’t a rule that is limited to just Holocaust deniers, either. Vaccine denialists (a.k.a. anti-vaxers), evolution denialists (a.k.a. creationists), scientific medicine denialists (a.k.a. alt-med mavens), HIV/AIDS denialists, or 9/11 Truthers, they all fall into this category. All of them desperately crave respectability. As much as they disparage mainstream thought in the disciplines that they attack, be it medicine, vaccines, history, or current events, they desperately crave to be taken seriously by the relevant disciplines. Being seen in the same venue, on the same stage, or on the same media outlet with relevant experts as an apparent equal gives them just what they want.
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Apr. 8, 2010 11:26 am

"Though not specifically about religion, it is about the utility, or should I say futility, of trying to debate some people." reed

Well put.

Kerry, the "thought so" comment was especially cheeky. I would have expected better from one such as yourself.

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From reed9's quotes:

For one thing, for a debate to be an intellectually useful exercise, there should be two reasonable points of view being argued, points of view that have a sufficient amount of evidence to support them that it is not unreasonable to hold either view being debated. The evidence doesn’t have to be of equal quantity and quality on each side, of course, but it should at least be somewhere in the same ball park — or on the same planet. This isn’t a rule that is limited to just Holocaust deniers, either. Vaccine denialists (a.k.a. anti-vaxers), evolution denialists (a.k.a. creationists), scientific medicine denialists (a.k.a. alt-med mavens), HIV/AIDS denialists, or 9/11 Truthers, they all fall into this category.

Interesting how that person can categorize every 'denier' they can come up with in one broad stroke--and, then, imply the high road for themselves as to just how 'reasonable' or 'rational' they are in 'their debates'. Of course, this whole presentation hinges on the concept of what makes up a 'reasonable point of view'--and there are many pitfalls in that 'conclusion' including all the problems in argument including ad hominem attacks, appealing to authority without they, themselves, explaining how they 'understand' that authority, and other forms of affronts that alter a 'reasonable points of view' as far as 'logical' and 'scientific' analysis goes. This gets even more involved when the 'science' is talking about things that cannot, on their own, be 'objectively qualified'--which is much of medicine...as well as other 'studies'....

And, of course, when it comes to a 'reasonable point of view', who determines that, right? Doesn't everyone believe they have a 'reasonable point of view'? And, when there is no basis for 'the truth' because 'their reason' has determined there not to be a 'rationale' for the universe or reality to involve 'meaning', that 'reasonable point of view' may be as much 'politic' as it is 'scientific'....

Kerry, the "thought so" comment was especially cheeky. I would have expected better from one such as yourself--Poo tee weet (?)

You're the one that claims to be the good judge of 'rational thought'. I just wondered where your 'rational thought' was leading you--especially if you concur with reed9 that 'reality' and 'the universe' are 'meaningless'....my 'thought so' comment, as cheeky as it may appear, is me confirming my own 'conclusion' about where yours and reed9's 'rational thinking' goes in a 'meaningless universe and reality'--ie. no where....with your 'non-answer' proving that to me....

Now, we are just left with the political ramifications of 'rational thought' and I disagree with both of you on that part, it's 'reason' is not inherent in its 'process'....

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This is about ideology, as Poly reminds us, diseased thinking. If you want to posit religion as ridiculous, then reject all who make cases for it not being worthless and toxic without any redeeming qualities as "ideologues," you are engaging in the diseased thinking you condemn.

Reed9, the goal of my work on faith and religion is to make the diagnosis of bad religion distinct from the phenomenon of religion, and to also make both different from the universal human issue of what it is to be human. Unlike our cats, we seem to ask these existential questions, and whether it is Sartre or the Psalmist, why the cosmos should "care" about our brief flicker in time and space's vastness comes to our minds. For us to be ourselves, we have to do more than just be, unless of course, we have the gift to just be ourselves without any deviation led by fear, alienation, greed, lust, etc.

I have spent a lot of time in the halls of religious pathology. I understand fully why you and I would want to confront the Colorado Christers, but I want to do it in the name of Jesus too. And the actual tradition of biblical authority, etc. They do not know the authorities they cite in religion any more than they do about the Constitution and American history.

Metaphysics and myth have the ability to tell the truth or reinforce lies. The issue is the illumination of reality and how real the surface is. All the great meditative practices emphasize a goal of deeper reality than what our confused and distracted minds can see 'objectively' in our everyday lives. I think scientists also need the calm and uncluttered observation mode to see what they would miss if their expectations and presumptions were still in the way.

The issue is epistemological integrity and honesty. I think of the physicist who was afraid to get out of bed lest he fall through the space in the floor because there is more space than particles in matter. A lot of what we "see" and live in is a gloss of reality, reduced to our needs and convenience rather than all there is. We learn to see through filters, and to be truly observant can be to be "blinded by the light" of way too much information.

Your debate with Kerry makes me sad more than glad because both of you are dealing with mysteries, but you have a narrative where the dangers of religion overwhelm the conversation. There is nothing wrong with the use of poetry or poetic imagery to say something "true" about being human. Kerry confesses a need to have an "integrity binder," a nice piece of imagery, to speak fully about his embrace of life as worth living with gladness and moral purpose. He is an ER doc, and the meaning of life is all around him in existential distress. Many in his spot would become mechanical and dull the compassion because it is so hard to feel all that pain and tragedy.

Reed9, I am with you in so much of your thinking and your anger about bad religion that I wish you could step back on step from confrontation to accept the experience of others. Theology can explore our human existential interest in meaning and purpose or why to get up in the morning without making the world our toy to break. Just because it is about being human with everybody and everything else does not mean that humans are exempted from interdependence or become the Masters of Nature. As a story of the healing of Creation and the yearning for wholeness of the Cosmos, the myths predict what science tells us about the living processes of nature.

The more science confirms our 'moral' nature and makes the mystery of love more real but not less miraculous, the better. Religion and science tended to treat love and even justice as "ideals" requiring elevated consciences and moral maturity to achieve. That implies that what is "real" is tougher and less ready to be compassionate. Like the gunfighter's "if it is one of us to die, it might as well be you." Can't fault the logic, but the premise is a bad narrative.

If I may be so bold, conservatives do not believe in love. Or compassion. The key word is "believe." They want it to be private charity or personal acts of kindness, but not the established and institutionalized policies of society. Where is love and justice in our political theories or economics? Is it really irrelevant to all these big power issues? I don't think so, and I want a language that captures the reality of these moral and ethical categories. This is why the power of love and justice matters intellectually and not just in action.

I want the atheists engaged in serious moral and political thinking about what does inspire and engage Progressive political passions. I want us all thinking about a post-American Century America and world. Reality really matters, and the superficial can keep us from seeing what is really going on. Let's get it on.

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DRC
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Quote DRC: For us to be ourselves, we have to do more than just be, unless of course, we have the gift to just be ourselves without any deviation led by fear, alienation, greed, lust, etc.

How can you be someone other than yourself? Sometimes I am afraid, sometimes I am not. Sometime I am greedy, sometimes I am not. These things come and go, they are a part of the human experience. Why shun them? Why invite them?

Quote DRC:And the actual tradition of biblical authority, etc. They do not know the authorities they cite in religion any more than they do about the Constitution and American history.

The problem with this in my opinion, is that I don't understand how anyone can claim they know the Bible, or Christianity, or any religion better than someone else. In the same way that you can't have a "wrong" interpretation of a novel, how can you have a wrong interpretation of the Bible? It is filled with ambiguity and you can take whatever you want out of it. If the only foundation of determining the correctness of a religious position is by reference to that religion's texts and traditions, then you are in an infinite and closed loop. It's like the arguments "proving" Jesus is the son of God by appealing to the Bible.

Quote DRC:All the great meditative practices emphasize a goal of deeper reality than what our confused and distracted minds can see 'objectively' in our everyday lives. I think scientists also need the calm and uncluttered observation mode to see what they would miss if their expectations and presumptions were still in the way.

Chop wood, carry water. Our daily lives can be our "meditation", for want a better word. And no one disputes the role of intuition, insight, and serendipity in science.

Quote DRC:There is nothing wrong with the use of poetry or poetic imagery to say something "true" about being human.

Agreed. I celebrate the use of poetry and story.

Quote DRC:Where is love and justice in our political theories or economics? Is it really irrelevant to all these big power issues? I don't think so, and I want a language that captures the reality of these moral and ethical categories. This is why the power of love and justice matters intellectually and not just in action.

But this is not a solely religious question or issue.

Quote DRC:Theology can explore our human existential interest in meaning and purpose or why to get up in the morning without making the world our toy to break.

" After sleeping through a hundred million centuries we have finally opened our eyes on a sumptuous planet, sparkling with color, bountiful with life. Within decades we must close our eyes again. Isn’t it a noble, an enlightened way of spending our brief time in the sun, to work at understanding the universe and how we have come to wake up in it? This is how I answer when I am asked—as I am surprisingly often—why I bother to get up in the mornings." -Richard Dawkins

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reed9
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Apr. 8, 2010 11:26 am

A national day of prayer is definitely a violation of separation of church and state for it's the acknowledgement of monotheism.

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Mr_Dean
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Apr. 1, 2010 8:58 am

Nice post, DRC--and a good attempt in 'elevating it' to the concept of the numinous experience humans can attain and trying to appeal to mere 'rationalists' that this needs to be included in any discussion of the politics of humans. I am in agreement with you as to the purpose of your actions but, as I believe experience on boards like this indicate to me, your point of the 'butterfly of the co-experience of the numinous' I believe dies in the rational's 'cocoon'.

Plus, as was the understanding of our founding fathers in the 'Age of Reason', and appears to be part of the problem with the rational's here, much of history has been beset with 'organized religion' oppressing even numinous qualities in humans as much as expressing them. And, just like our founding fathers, the rationals here think it to be inherent in the 'paradigms of religious order' that constrain independent thought and seeking--and, as history has shown, they can be right.

While I appreciate your attempt to explain that that is just not what 'real religion' is all about and I, in many ways, even already understand that, appealing to the 'rational' character may just be as much 'putting pearls before swine' as it is getting your point across. That's not to say that you shouldn't keep trying, however, because I do believe that 'some of us' hear at least some of what you are saying. My own attempts in 'pointing that direction' is to show the limits that rationality really has on knowledge and existence--but, that can, also, be speaking to deaf ears....

Many here in thomland (that have been here for a while--I remember that I relayed this story to ren once) know my own history. I was raised in the Methodist church with my parents active in the congregation and in the community. However, all during this time, unbeknownst to most of the community (and we lived 10 miles away on a ranch), my father was an alcoholic. There finally occured an incident that exposed that to the community and my father was swiftly 'ex-communicated'. At the young age of 12, I already knew something was wrong with that because that's what he had been all along and the community seemed to see no problem until they found out about the alcoholism. Through some struggles and turmoil, my father joined Alcoholics Anonymous and sobered up--but, his taint with the community never recovered and we quit going to church and my mother and father quit being active in the community.

As you may remember, I was quite a religious boy at the time--talking and praying to God a lot. And, I remember one night asking God one of the many times my father came home drunk late at night ranting and raving to my mother, 'God, what's wrong with my father?' And, as if answering it, unlike his usual drunken character, my father got quiet downstairs and remorsed, 'The people at the church are looking down on me.' That's the 'answer' I got. I knew at that time that wasn't a very 'Christian' thing to do with all of Jesus' statements to 'judge not lest thee yourself be judged', 'love your neighbor as yourself', etc., and, in conjunction with us stopping going to church, I, in my developing adolescent years, started becoming agnostic. This progressed in my college days to the point to where, when I got in medical school, I was a reactionary atheist that remembers one point telling one of the 'conservative Christians' in the class (of which, at Texas A&M, about three-forths of the class was 'conservative Christians'..) that 'God was a green fart in the wind.' I was reactionary in much of the ethics that concerned medicine--and it was in ethics class where I spoke out the hardest and loudest about things like abortion, euthenasia, 'role playing of physicians', and things like that.

But, at the same time, I, also, was starting to drink too much--and, as I look back on it now, I was headed for self-destruction. Then, after getting quite wasted one weekend in my second year of medical school, I got in the car, got lost on a road that we oftentimes went drinking on (it was no where near my apartment), and I had a major car wreck--missing a 90 degree corner and ending up impacting my car in a pasture near a tank. My father looked at the site the next day and told me 'You must've been going pretty fast, son. That fence is still standing and, judging by your tire tracks, you rolled over twice and hit an embankment before your car caught on fire. It now looks like a rusty hull that's been there for 50 years.'

I don't remember much about the wreck. I barely remember speeding by houses and trees. I do remember one thing fairly clearly. During the wreck, amongst a lot of noise and violent shaking around (I wasn't wearing my seatbelt), I said to myself, 'There is a God.' As you may know, for the following month, I underwent a substantial change in me that was later described by that psychiatrist-neurologist that I respected so much as being a 'temporary manic spell' (for the next several weeks, he offered me lithium every time he would meet me in the hall). For a month, without any alcohol or drugs (or even coffee), I couldn't concentrate, couldn't study, barely held on to my position in medical school--but, my mind was racing. I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep. I lost a lot of weight. In fact, as I was later told by some of the professors, many of them wanted to kick me out of medical school--it was my fellow students when they got word of that possibility that talked them into letting me stay.

I had told another professor of mine (one of the ones that had interviewed me for medical school) about my feelings and my problems and had told him that I didn't know if I wanted to stay in school or not. The story of my family's turmoil in the church and with the community came back to me (I also discussed it with the psychiatrist) and I related it to this professor and added that 'I didn't know if I wanted to stay in medical school. It appears like I might have found the answer I was looking for--but, something still didn't feel right.' He convinced me to stay and I do remember that it was on one Sunday that I remember getting a revelation to my problem and I called that professor up then to tell him. I said to him, 'You know how I told you that I felt like the people at the church were "stopping at the word"--mouthing Christian concepts but not really practicing them.' 'Yes,' he added. 'Well, I think that I've figured out my problem.' 'What's that?' he asked. 'I have been "stopping at the word"--and going the other direction--but I was still "stopping at the word".' He congratulated me for my endeavors and, I don't know what it was about me when he saw me the next day but he looked at me, got a sort of shocked look on his face, and, then, like I had been doing already for the past several weeks, he started pacing the floor. I followed him and asked him what was wrong. He just stopped, briefly looked at me, and said, 'You're going to be a good doctor'--and he kept walking.

God, I'm having a hard time holding back tears telling this to you now.

It didn't slow down my mania, however--I felt better than ever, still not being able to study, still not being able to concentrate, but ecstatic, anyway.

Then, came the time for me to go home. I was anxious to see my father and tell him all the things that I had thought I had come to 'understand'. And, I got home and started trying to tell it in the fast, 'pressure of speech' fashion typical of manic patients. My father would have none of it. He grabbed me by my collar, shoved me up against the wall, and said quite sternly (and my father could be quite stern), 'Son, you better quit what you are doing right now or you are going to ruin your life.' It appears that my father had experienced similar episodes and knew his own experiences with it. I started coming down...it took a couple of weeks for me to feel 'normalized' but I did do it and was able to resume my position in medical school (to have trouble with my physician-mentors again with 'how I dressed and how I acted' in my clerkships starting the third year--I grew my hair and beard long--still wear the beard, I don't have much hair left....)--and never to get 'that high' again...

My point in telling this story is in explaining the problem with the concept of 'proof' when it comes to issues like this. Before my carwreck, no one could have convinced me that there is a God. I was 'that certain' in my 'rational concepts'. After the carwreck, no one will convince me there isn't....

Keep the faith....

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Kerry
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

I've heard Thom's snide remark regarding atheism - think you all are making way too much of it. Sounded to me as if he was accusing some zealous anti-religion commentators as being no better nor less close-minded than the zealous religious fanatics. I also sensed that since he considers himself a spiritual person, atheism (under his simplistic definition) is an affront to his spirituality. Sometimes Thom takes a simplistic view of things in order to make some sense of the chaos - wish it were that easy.

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In all sincerity, it is not obvious to me. For that matter, why should the voodoo worshiper get less respect than a Christian? Why is worshiping Zeus more absurd these days than worshiping Christ? I really truly don't get it.

O.K -Even the abstract follow rationlity. At least Zeus and the like "fill the role" of gods. Santa and other purely imiginary role are pressumed to be non existent. God and the like are to a coorespondence in a reality.

Please define God for me then. I have no idea what you mean by God. And explain why your definition is better than someone else's definition.

first off I have no cliam to "betternees." I think the word should be considered on a couplelevels. One as a being. Another as universal consciousness. I suppose multi level god beings might be in there too.

Yes, the cartoon strip doesn't pretend to be true.

Exactly

Quote mattnapa: Well if you cannot distinguish between cartoon figures and the question of existence I feel sorry for you

But I don't see that religion answers questions of existence. From my perspective, the religious folks are essentially saying the cartoon strip is a deep discussion on the meaning of existence. Well, perhaps the best cartoons do have something important to say on what it means to be human at least. But again, the cartoon strip doesn't claim to be true. They use story and metaphor and humor to communicate.

I do not claim necessarily that there is evidence of God, I just protest your certainity that there is not one.

When did I say we had a mechanical non-free will universe? I'm pretty sure I've said that indeterminacy appears to be a fundamental aspect of reality and that quantum mechanics pretty much destroyed any hope we had of a deterministic clockwork universe. When was I unwilling to take on randomness? What did you want me to respond to regarding it?

Free-will is not the same as quantum probability. However I doubt the point has much bearing at this point. If you wish to argue for randomness do so. My position is that "intelligent design" is simply more intuititvely rational than we are here from an accident.

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mattnapa
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Quote DRC:I have said before that the issue of atheism bores me. Do metaphors exist? Do they have ontology? What difference would it make if God did exist? What do you gain by God not existing?

What do you gain by positing a God? It doesn’t add to our understanding of the universe. It doesn’t add to our understanding what it means to be human.

But it can change our perception of what it is to be human. There is no doubt that 'believing" you are connected to the world and others in a continuous manner is comforting for most. I think for many of us the metaphysical construct seems cod and irrevocable

]

I would refer you to the book “The Science of Good and Evil”. A lot of work has been done on the evolutionary origins of ethics and morality. All social creatures display various behavior we might term “moral”. Cooperation, altruism, and what we call love can be evolutionarily stable strategies. I reject the primarily religious, egocentric notion that humans are somehow “special” and more than other animals.

Special can mean different things. i doubt that other creatures have the experience of free-will, and in some ways that increases our responsibility in relation to them. I do not find the general scientific approach to be any haven for non-egocentric perogitives. You can try to differentiate it from technology if you like, but the importance of the distinction is lost on me

(One of the problems with God is that the proposition places humans in a special relationship with the universe that excludes other animals.)

There is plenty of religous belief that runs contrary to this assertion. Amazing how much traction the "dominion" quote gets. this is not to say that there is not truth to the assertion however, but it is a function of belief systems in religion and not a function of the idea of a god.

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Earth's credit card has been maxed out!

If Earth's resources were a credit card, we have already maxed out our entire allocation for this year. The think thank Global Footprint Network announced that August 19th was “Earth Overshoot Day,” meaning that all the resources we use after that day exceed what our planet can produce in a single year.

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