another dialogue on atheism
10/16/2006 12:07:00 PM
This is another dialogue I had with atheists, one named "BleuuNikki" and another named "Captain Atheism". It was an interesting conversation to say the least. Here is the forum.

At last! A theist that knows what he's talking about!

I've been corresponding a bit with a YA Poster known as (me). Some of you may have seen him around. He's a Christian, more or less, and he's pretty knowledgeable about religion and so forth, and I've been impressed with his ability to rationally discuss the subject without getting huffy. (In fact, he's probably better at that than I am :) ).

Anyway, I've invited him to discuss a variety of subjects with me here. I'd prefer not to call it a debate, as it is not my intention to "prove him wrong". I simply think that it will be a good way to get at the truth, by simply analyzing and evaluating the facts. We should pick a topic here pretty soon and begin stating the points and counterpoints, and see what we come up with. Comments are welcome, but of course, please be respectful. :)

Wednesday October 11, 2006 - 11:31am (EDT)

Bluuenikki -- He won't be converting me, that's for sure, but I will keep an open mind to whatever he might blather with a lot of methane---er, I meant say. :-)

Wednesday October 11, 2006 - 11:37am (PDT)

My Reply -- William Lane Craig popularized this adaptation of the Kalam Cosmological Argument for the existence of God.

1.) Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2.) The universe began to exist. (Big Bang Cosmology)
3.) Therefore, the universe had a cause. (i.e., something external to the universe, thus supernatural)

I have written a similar argument based on the first and second law of thermodynamics:

1.) The First Law of Thermodynamics says the total amount of matter and energy in the universe is constant.
2.) The Second Law of Thermodynamics says that entropy increaes in a closed system. (Things don't get more complex, they get simpler.)
3.) Matter still exists.
4.) If the universe always existed then matter would not exist because it would have decayed into heat energy an eternity ago.
5.) If matter still exists, then the universe has not always existed.
6.) If the universe has not always existed, then it has an origin.
7.) Matter and energy cannot create the universe because matter and energy cannot create matter and energy.
8.) Matter and energy cannot come from nothing.
9.) Therefore, the universe was created by something external to the universe.

How does atheism work around this?

Wednesday October 11, 2006 - 03:26pm (CDT)

Captain Atheism -- Well, to be honest, I don't really think that this discussion is pertinent to religion. We could go back and forth all day debating the merits of several unproven scientific theories, but that really doesn't address the idea of whether a Middle Eastern god created everything 6000 years ago.

To put it plainly however, here is how atheism works around that... we don't. We don't know how or why the universe came into existence. And we probably never will. Atheists admit this, although we definitely would like to know the answer. However, that is the key difference between atheists and theists. We admit that we don't know.

Theists, on the other hand, claim to have absolute knowledge as to the origins of the universe... God did it.

This is clearly a cop out. This is what our ancestors came up with, when they had next to no knowledge of science whatsoever. Back then, religion WAS their science. We have simply improved upon it since then. But in their time, I'm sure it made perfect sense to believe in "magic". Magic, although it has never existed, was wholeheartedly believed to be real back then.

But we know better now. And it is embarrassing, that in this day and age, some people are still so indoctrinated with religion, that they refuse to consider the reality of it.

But before we go further, let me just explain first off, that I don't believe in anything related to the god of Abraham, which I consider to simply be mythology that managed (by military force) to become the dominant mythology in several key cultures. The leaders of this religious movement simply stamped out the other mythologies of the people they conquered, and labeled them as false.

Now, am I correct in my assumption that you also, do not believe in the god of Abraham?

Wednesday October 11, 2006 - 05:06pm (EDT)

My Reply -- I don't necessarily advocate a young earth position, but I don't have to in order to be a Christian. The fact is that the Bible doesn't spend a whole lot of time talking about creation?only one page out of the thousands of others. In the scope of scripture, the emphasis is not on how God created it, but that he did create it.

What seems to be more of a cop-out than invoking God is avoiding the issue altogether. That sounds more like denial, or looking away from the obvious due to prior commitments or the fact that it might challenge one's worldview, which in your case is atheism. Probably more primitive than atheism is a commitment to naturalism, which denies the supernatural altogether. Based on your statements, it seems that you are a naturalist (i.e. magic does not exist). The problem with naturalism is not that they can't find evidence for God's existence, but that evidence for his existence cannot exist in that worldview, so atheism is a logical byproduct. It has nothing to do with the lack of evidence, and everything to do with the premise that evidence cannot exist.

As for how I believe, I believe in a Trinitarian view the Christian God. Christians say (as I do) that the God of Abraham as their God. Jesus says that He was there when Abraham was alive. (Matt 22:32)

This really has nothing to do with the cosmological arguments, but I do disagree with your analysis saying that the primary vehicle for the expansion of Christianity was military force. I am not denying that Christianity has been spread by militaristic force, but I really think that it is more the result of politicians using religion to bolster their ideologies. But atheism is no different: it has been spread through militaristic force too under the banner of communism. Before Christianity ever became a state religion, it has already spread through most of the Roman Empire and to the East of Jerusalem under the Nestorians. As many as 1 out of 10 people in the Roman Empire were Christians. Another counterexample would be the expansion of Christianity in modern China. The church there has grown from less than 1 million believers to nearly 65 million believers in 20 years under a government which condones the faith, and without the aid if an army.

Wednesday October 11, 2006 - 04:55pm (CDT)

Bluuenikki -- 3.) Therefore, the universe had a cause. (i.e., something external to the universe, thus supernatural)

What if the cause is something very VERY natural? And nothing to do with a "god" or anything supa-dupanatural? There was a theory (not proven but not disproven yet either) that there was already a universe and that the Big Bang was burped by another black hole. It swallowed something and then it "shits" a Big Bang, thusly, creating a new universe. I tend to go for that theory over "god" any day.

Thursday October 12, 2006 - 02:01am (PDT)

Bluuenikki -- Actually, I do think Christianity was spread by "force". Evangelizing IS a form of spiritual rape. I am not denying the force of communism and all that, Dearie, but atheists no longer "force" anything on anyone, yet I see christians still doing the spiritual rape.

Thursday October 12, 2006 - 02:04am (PDT)

My Reply -- Bluuenikki,

1.) You probably need to define "spiritual rape",

2.) Can an atheists be spiritual and deny the supernatural at the same time?

3.) Communisim still exists and is still cracking down on religion.

4.) Where did the black hole that "burped" the universe to existence come from? It still requires an origin, even if it is pre-existent to this universe.

Thursday October 12, 2006 - 10:20am (CDT)
Bluuenikki -- 1) Evangelism. Any kind of any religion of any type that forces religion on others is what I deem spiritual rape. I don't see atheists doing that here in the States.

2) Duh, honeybuns, I *AM* a spiritual atheist. Spirituality does not require a childish belief in supernatural. All we do is disbelieve in a deity. It does not mean we totally deny everything else like ghosts, emotional "leftovers" that people leave behind when they die (poltergeists), UFOs, crop circles.....none of those things require a deity belief. What about the Taoists and Buddhists? Majority of them are atheists but fiercely spiritual.

3) I never denied that communism didn't exist.

4) Oh geez, don't tell me you don't know where black holes are theorized to come from??? Scientists theorize that black holes probably born of collapsed stars or stars that went nova and then that collapsed under the gravity.

Thursday October 12, 2006 - 11:17am (PDT)

Bluuenikki -- If you agree that there is psychological rape (a la psychotherapists with their patients---I don't trust psychotherapists), then you do believe in a form of spiritual rape. I have met a few christians who are outright rapacious with their comments that I am going to hell for just not believing. Those kind of comments tear down the soul....a la spiritual rape.

Thursday October 12, 2006 - 11:21am (PDT)

Bluuenikki -- Cappy, where did you dig this gem up?

Thursday October 12, 2006 - 11:22am (PDT)

My Reply -- Bluuenikki,

1.) If evangelism presents a case and asks one to decide, how is that any different from the mission of Captain Atheism --? He says his mission is to educate about what he considers to be true, and letting people decide for themselves. Second, the site many atheists like to link,, has a similar mission. Is this not atheistic evangelism? Christian evangelism is about presenting people with religious beliefs and allowing them to decide, not coercing them to believe.

2.) It seems that you are you are allowing beings to exist without material substance, and in doing so you are allowing for the supernatural to exist. By claiming to be a "spiritual atheist" you are saying there is more to being than the material that makes up a person's physical body, which by definition is supernaturalism. If you allow beings to exist without substance, then it is possible for God to exist because he is an immaterial being.

3.) My point from communism was that atheism was still being impressed on people by a state that is anti-religious. In other words, people are being coerced into atheism under communism.

4.) Again, it's not about how black holes are formed, it's about the substance that forms the black hole. Where did that substance come from? That's the point of the cosmological argument.

Thursday October 12, 2006 - 02:27pm (CDT)

Bluuenikki -- Cappy, where you did dig up this funny guy?

1) I don't see evangelizing as "presenting a case and allowing the other to decide". I see evangelizing as "telling others what to believe---period". Cappy does it differently---he does what you just said---presents his case and allows others to decide for themselves. I see a big difference there, hon.

And I live in a fraking bible-belt. :-(

2) Hon, I am atheist, but I don't discount the existence of souls. I just use scientific explanations on how souls came to be. Souls are just a mass of neurons, synapses in the brain that will rot and wither away once death takes hold---ergo, the soul dies at death. Ghosts and poltergeists, the way I see it, are very simply "emotional leftovers" that the person left behind that they didn't absolve yet. Energy. Energy is NOT supernatural. Energy was tested and retestedin the science labs time and time again. I believe in energy.

I think you need to study atheism a bit more before you jump to conclusions, dearie.

3) Again, I never denied that communism still exists. I am stating that this does not happen in the STATES.

4) Dark matter. Matter, molecules, quarks. Read a science book.

Thursday October 12, 2006 - 12:41pm (PDT)

Bluuenikki -- I am hoping I clarified myself to the point your christian mind can understand. :-) If my words come across a tad harsh and abrasive, do pardon me---I have been burned by way too many christians in the past and still harbor some anger.

I am a spiritual atheist. I love the mythological deities---Greco-Roman (Ares and Aphrodite), Hindu (Ganesha and Durga), Japanese (Kwan Yin comes to mind). But the way I see it, I see those deities entirely in the context of Jungian psychology----archetypes. I am awfully BIG on JUgnian psychology. Each of those deites---mythological as they are, INCLUDING the oppressive biblical "god"---are just mere representations of who we are. They do not exist out there. We only exist in our imagination, like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

Zeus is the amorous aspect of ourselves. Zeus represents my horny side. Hera represents my jealousy. Durga and Ares represent my warrior status. Janus, my favroite, has two heads: one looking back in time and other looking forward in time. Hermes represents my intellectual side. Ad nauseum. I view that as we all need to learn from our past mistakes and apply them to our new fludic future.

You might be confusing atheism with hard-core skepticism. Skeptics tend to not believe in anymost anything that is immaterial (ghosts, energy, poltergeists, UFOs, crop circles, water stick fishing, blah blah blah), whereas SOME atheists tend to take a softer take on some of the other non-deity beliefs.

Spirituality takes on several forms of mediums: writing, poetry, dancing, panting, volunteerism (I volunteered with deaf and Down Syndrome kids at a mere age of 18---tiring but had a BLAST!!!! Looking into doing that again in the near future).

Spirituality can be most anything. Music, washing dishes, just picking a pen and staring at a blank page.....those speak more powerful words than any bible ever would. :-) Atheists DO feel inspiration. Atheists DO feel ontent, unexplained peace that theyhave no idea where that came from. We are NOT dry and crackly folks devoid of feelings and altruism.

My favorite music are: Folk (Polka, fiddles), electronica, some Gregorian chants, organ music, tribal flute/drum music, some reggae, some alternative. Most of those seems to bring me and my moods into some weird ethereal state. And to boot, I sense no deity, even I try to remain open to it.

Thursday October 12, 2006 - 12:59pm (PDT)

My Reply -- 1.) The way I present Christianity is not coercive, but much the same way Captain presents atheism. Am I being coercive here in this forum? I don't think I am. Certainly, I think you are wrong because I am a theist, but certainly you think I am wrong too because you are an atheist. So are we "spiritually raping" each-other? I don't think that disagreeing with somebody is "spiritual rape" as you put it. What would seem more akin to that is calling my belief system "childish", calling me a "funny guy" or calling supernaturalism "supa-dupanatural". I personally don't take it offensively and could really careless what you call me. Evangelism doesn't have to be "spiritual rape" if it is done right. I apologize if you have been brandished by other Christians, but I personally don't advocate that method of evangelism, and I certainly don't think it is biblical.

2.) What seems odd is you equate the soul to a mass of nervous tissue, but you still allow energy to have an essence of being absent of nervous tissue as "emotional leftovers". Does the mass of nervous tissue have an essence of being outside the material that makes it up? If not, then the essence being of the nervous tissue is fundamentally different from the essence of being of the energy. If it does, then there is something more to the soul than nervous tissue. The former would be a contradiction; the latter would be a mitigated position of supernaturalism without calling it that.

3.) So you granting that atheism is still spread by force? That was the point of bringing up communism. I grant that it is being spread peacefully, but the point was that atheism has also been spread through force (like Christianity) too.

4.) The type of matter isn't the point. I am asking, where did all that matter came from? It can't have just appeared from nothing, and if it has always existed, it would have decayed into the most primitive form eons ago.

Thursday October 12, 2006 - 03:40pm (CDT)

My Reply -- I like to read fantasy and science fiction novels. I like to listen to music of all types. I particularly like Ulerian Pipes, Bluegrass, and Synth (New Age) like Enya. I love to visit art museums and marvel over sculpture and paintings and the like. I love to visit the mountains and view the vistas that it affords. I love to play guitar and sing sings. I love to do photography and cook. Not all theists are stuffy Bible thumpers that are uniform in nature.

You mention peace, and altruism, and concede that you don't know where they come from. I ponder that too. It seems that ascetics, justice, pleasure, pain, peace, happiness and other things such as these come from something that is not of ourselves, something supernatural. I cannot help but think that it is God. Such things help me have a better appreciation of God, and not seem him as the grumpy old man in the clouds many portray him as, but a being of profound intellect and appreciation of creativity and beauty. That is the God I worship and adore.

Thursday October 12, 2006 - 03:53pm (CDT)
Bluuenikki -- 1.) Actually, my calling you "funny gem" is a compliment. *hug* I just show strange ways of giving compliments. Apologies if you took it the wrong way. Right now, I don't think you are raping anyone, and I certainly hope I have not raped you in any way or form. Do please swat me on my head if I have. I have my own petnames for almost everything. Some names are degradatory and others are endearing.

May I know which school did you attend? If that is too private, tell me to promptly shut up my busybody mouth. ;-)

2) Good points, Mule (if I may call you that?). Energy needs not to be attributed to deity or messiahs. We hold molecules that don't die from when we exhale our last breath. Atoms, certain types of molecules just disappiate into the air and become something else later on. A small part of me will live on for thousands of years, as Ben Franklin, Plato and Aristotle have for thousands of years. I see nothing super-duper natural about it. It is very natural.

Hoping I won't be sidestepping here and straight to the point. Neurons create our memories, tramumatic and good. Synapses help create those. Those also contain atoms and molecules that seems not to die after death. They just change form or dissipiate into the air. Molecules and atoms do not have souls or thoughts. They just exist, like viruses and bacterium. I have yet to hear that atoms and molecules die (correct me with references that I am mistaken).

To clarify a bit further but maybe off-topic?...I don't believe we are "born with a complete soul at all". We grow our souls. A baby won't have a lot of soul, but a 50 year old will have a lotta of soul due to living and experiences. I do admit that I am very queasy about abortion at 4 months along cuz the fetus starts to grow nerve endings--still raw and undefined but enough to feel some pain---but not cuz I think they may or may not have a glimmer of soul. In doing so, we grow our soul. In doing so, we gain molecules and atoms as we grow.

3.) I am not denying it. Some atheists are so militant about atheism that they scare the poopylights out of me....even if I agree with their reasoning. I just tend to see that christians are far more forceful about religion than atheists are.

4.) Matter always comes from something NATURAL. Scientists still have yet to know what the origins are. Since we don't know yet, we tend to attribute it to something supernatural cuz we simply don't have the answers yet. As I stated in my Atheism Q and A blog, science does not have all the answers. Science is still in its infancy. It is not infallible, and I accept that wholeheartedly. For now, I like that theory that the black hole that was createdin another universe "pooped" a new Big Bang. It seems the most plausible theory for me---until something else comes along----preferably from scienctific POVs.

I don't know where altruism comes from. However, I think they come from a small part of ourselves, not something supernatural. You heard about what I said about Jungian psychology. Everything comes from within, not from without. Every deity, intermeditary, angel and demon are all a part of who we are----they don't exist outside our minds---they exist only in our minds.

Thursday October 12, 2006 - 02:23pm (PDT)

My Reply -- "Mule" is fine.

On Souls and Existence: Now concerning a material soul in relation to ascetics, justice, and the like, I have a hard time with this. If I understand you correctly, you think that human beings have a soul that is made from material substances (i.e. nerve tissue) and there is no supernatural element to the soul. So in essence, one?s being is entirely wrapped up in the matter that makes up his or her body, and beyond that there is nothing. The problem as I have with this is that it binds notions such as beauty and justice to chemical processes in the brain. Outside of these chemical processes, these notions have no intrinsic value. To illustrate, I will use an analogy. Belly button lint and gold are made of the same fundamental building blocks: protons, neutrons, and electrons. One could theoretically take bully button lint and recompose it as gold. Yet we give gold more intrinsic value than belly button link although they are fundamentally the same thing. If beauty is just a chemical process, and it has no intrinsic value outside of that, then it is rather meaningless. But I intuitively know that a sunset over the ocean on a lazy summer evening is a beautiful thing, therefore my perception of beauty has more intrinsic value than the chemicals that compose the process in my brain. I then ask "Why?" It seems to me that there is something that gives these notions value and I think that is God.

On evangelism: I grant that Christians are probably are more forceful with their beliefs than atheists are, but that is motivated by the beliefs themselves. There is no motivation for atheists to convince others of atheism because it really doesn't any implication beyond the temporal world, although that is probably not entirely true. I could see atheists wanting to "liberate" us theists because to some atheists, I am sure we seem to be utterly confused. Christian beliefs have eternal implication (heaven vs. hell, etc.) and are motivated to see that nobody goes to hell by spreading their beliefs. It can come across as coercion, but it is really driven by a sense that none should perish.

On Cosmology: I am glad that you accept science as fallible and limited. If science is all there is, then we'd have a very bland world. As for theists, the "how" isn't the important part for the origin of the universe, but that God created it. I just think from the argument I started with demands that the universe, no matter how far one wants to trace it back, be created. Nothingness isn't an option, and matter cannot make more matter. There is a fundamental problem saying that matter can make more matter, because if it can, then physics would fall apart.

Thursday October 12, 2006 - 05:25pm (CDT)

Bluuenikki -- Cappy, sorry for taking over your blog. Jump in anytime! :-) Mule, I am Nikki, Nicole, Bluue or Cole. PIck what you like. :-)

You quoted: The problem as I have with this is that it binds notions such as beauty and justice to chemical processes in the brain. Outside of these chemical processes, these notions have no intrinsic value.

Actually some scientists are theorizing from some of their discoveries (again infalliable) that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder----actually in the brain of the beholder. When we see a beautiful person, our mental processes does not have to "work doubly hard" to process the beautiful face, whereas we see a ugly face, our brains work just as hard. You ARE correct in the assessing that I see beauty entirely by cranial chemicals and neuron firings and such. I have a neurological disorder, and been seeing a neurologist for that may have influenced my beliefs somewhat.

I know. It seems so cold, so final, so "empty", so void of feeling and warmth. I do feel those things: warmth, depth, no void. I do ask the question of "Why" occasionally. But when I do, I tend to attribute it to scientific theories such as cranial chemicals working OT. It does not mean I cannot enjoy bouts of inspiration to write or to paint or just simply feel inspiration and inner peace for the sake of it.

Do you know I often use theological terms in my poetry? Sin, hell, heaven, angels, demons, etc? I use those words figuratively and not in the christian sense. I use those words in a way that describes what is going on in my head---they take on entirely new definitions.

Well, if the christian (not neccessarily you) are driven by the notion that no one should perish in hell, then they are going by the notion that everyone shares the same beliefs as they do. That, to me, is a gross and disrespectful assumption. One I try hard not to resort to when I meet a christian----with a relapse now and then. *sigh* I once chewed another christian's head off by saying I have "no christian standards"......but I have standards that I gleaned from various religions and philosophies of the world. It appears I shut her up.

Just as science is infallible, so the bible and all other religious texts of the world. :-)

Thursday October 12, 2006 - 03:49pm (PDT)

Bluuenikki -- Science inspires me. Science leaves me to wonder. Science leaves me to dream.

Science-fiction certainly does a good enough job of that! ;-)

Thursday October 12, 2006 - 03:51pm (PDT)

Captain Atheism -- Sorry, I missed out on most of this, haha. I'm going to start another thread here shortly. I'd like to address one of Mule's points above more extensively. But in the meantime, check out my next post, as I explain why I was absent yesterday, hehe.

Friday October 13, 2006 - 09:29am (EDT)

My Reply -- On souls: The point I was making from beauty was that everyone has the concept of beauty, but not that everyone has the same concept of beauty. What makes beautiful things beautiful? The same holds for justice: what makes right, right and wrong, wrong? Leaving it to a chemical process seem to cheapen such things. Let say I walked into a school, whipped out a gun and shot 8 young girls, 5 of whom died. Now if this heinous act is just a chemical process, then nobody should feel remorse for such things, because it would hardly any different than pouring vinegar on baking soda. But we know intuitively that this is wrong, so there is something other than the chemical process going on here, something that is more than just a natural phenomenon. I am not saying that atheists are amoral people, but I am saying that I believe theism better accounts for things notions of right and wrong, beautiful and ugly, etc.

On cosmology/science: I do appreciate science too. Many people want to make science in the enemy of theism, but really it is not. Rather it is a different discipline of study. They can complement one another. As a theologian, I am not really wrapped up in trying to explain the particulars of how things come into being, but that it seems that the particular point to a notion that God created the universe. There are limitations for both theology and science. Where theology excels, science lacks, and where science excels, theology lacks. The spheres however are not mutually exclusive, and one can have implications in the other sphere. So to say that one is the end-all-be-all for truth would be nearsighted.

As far as the Christian faith assuming that all others are wrong, I remain unapologetic about that. I know that it sounds harsh, but I sincerely believe that those who do not believe Jesus are going to hell. Is this assumptive? Yes--I grant that. But what would really be a contradiction is if I didn't assume this. If I accepted other beliefs to be true, then I would be denying my own beliefs, because I think what I believe is the only truth. Either I am right and everyone else is wrong, some else is right and I am wrong, or everyone is wrong, but only one truth worldview can exist.

Friday October 13, 2006 - 09:57am (CDT)

Bluuenikki -- I tend to agree with some scientists who theorize that we have genetic make-up that helps us determine what is sexy and what isn't. For instance, I have brown eyes, and I LOVE brown eyes.....I prefer to date a guy with brown eyes than one with blue eyes. I just don't find blue eyes sexy. I think it has something to do with my genetic make-up that causes me to prefer brown eyes over the blues.

WHat makes right right? What makes wrong wrong? I think everything "just is", Mule. Even murder. We murder cows to get beef. Same thing, at least in the vegetarians' eyes. We just make it wrong or right by applying our own "moral yardstick" to it. I don't see that as cheapening things at all. I apply my own moral yardstick to some issues, too. We all do.

As for murdering children, we applied our 'moral yardstick' a very LONG time ago (try back in the times of Neanderthals and early HOmo Sapiens) that murdering children is wrong so that meme was passed down generation after generation. Eventually that worked for everyone so all cultures adopted this meme of not murdering children.

I think "god" is nothing but an emotion. We feel inspired, we attribute that to something that is external or supernatural. We feel fear, we tend to attribute that to something external as well.

I don't want science to be the enemy of theism at all, Mule. Far from it. I have both science and spirituality in my path. I *was* a theist once.

You said: As far as the Christian faith assuming that all others are wrong, I remain unapologetic about that. I know that it sounds harsh, but I sincerely believe that those who do not believe Jesus are going to hell. Is this assumptive? Yes--I grant that.

At least you are honest about that....which is far, far, FAR more than I can say for a lot of other christians I have met. Actually, I do think christians can accept a more liberal worldview----that they are christians but don't think that their way is the only way at all. I have met a couple of such christians in the past and I LOVE their attitude. :-) I think that is the right attitude to take---again, that is just my moral yardstick showing. :-)

I accept some of Jesus' teachings, believe it or not, and I am not a christian at all. I still have some of my pagan beliefs from when I was Wiccan with me on my atheist path. Do you know that there is a website for atheists who appreciate Jesus' teachings? Just yahoo "Atheists for Jesus" and you will find the site. :-) I only ask that you do NOT judge them, NOT harrass them, NOT tell them they are wrong, ok? :-)

Friday October 13, 2006 - 08:18am (PDT)

My Reply -- I don't think you hear what I am saying...I am not talking about moral absolutes. I am talking about the notions of beauty and justice themselves apart from any standards. Although I would argue for moral absolutes, that's not what I am talking about here. It is probably true that what you find beautiful is different than what I find beautiful. Some things you consider wrong are probably different than what I consider wrong. But we both have a concept of beauty and a concept of justice.

Where Dawkin's meme theory breaks down is at the point where one has to consider where these things came from. This goes back to the original discussion about cosmology. If left to naturalistic process, a concept of beauty is hardly more than a chemical process, so we really aren't conscience at all, but really more like zombies with no real will, no real concepts of beauty, no real concept of justice. In fact, all these things are delusionary, or even worse, meaningless in reality.

You say that everything "just is? and I would say the same thing, but warrant them being that way because God made them that way. Cross apply what I initially said about Captain's concession about the origin of the universe: Not addressing the origins of such notions This seems to be avoiding the issue altogether or looking away from the obvious due to prior commitments or the fact that it might challenge one's worldview, which in your case is atheism.

I Googled the site that you were talking about, and read through some of the stuff they were talking about. They really are drawing from something that was started and rejected as orthodox Christianity. These guys, like many liberal Christians who are not exclusivist seem to be rejecting the claims that Jesus made about himself, or in essence saying that Jesus was wrong. Jesus said that he was the only way to God and said that he was God, and at any point they reject these claims, then they are turning Jesus into something he is not. That is why I cannot embrace universalism.

Friday October 13, 2006 - 01:39pm (CDT)

Captain Atheism -- On the subject of "not addressing" the origins of the universe, I will say this. I don't see that anyone is avoiding the issue. We all want to know the origins of the universe. And better brains than mine are working on the subject. (People like Stephen Hawking, for example.) And I eagerly anticipate their findings. However, the origins of the universe, I'm sure, will be incredibly difficult to understand, and will require all manner of scientific disciplines combined to piece together the puzzle.

This is a far cry from the Creationist point of view... "God did it".

There is no evidence to support such a notion, for one thing. There very well may be some sort of creature or being responsible for the creation of the universe. I'm not going to say there isn't. But I can confidently say that whatever this being is, he/she/it is not responsible for writing the Christian bible. And that's the true heart of the matter.

Whether a god exists or not is not really the issue for me, and I don't think it's an issue for most atheists/agnostics. We are simply saying that if there is a god, it's highly unlikely that it's the God of Abraham.

Speaking for myself, I'm a bit of a spiritualist, myself. I believe there is some form of energy that exists in living beings and so forth. I don't consider this energy magical. I simply view it as something that we don't understand yet. I am what you would call a Taoist. There are some who would say that Taoism does reflect a belief in a higher power, though it's more of an "energy" than a living, thinking, personification. And I have no problem with that.

What I have a problem with is anyone who claims to know, and/or speak for this "entity", and that he can tell someone else what this god likes and dislikes. This is what worshippers of the god of Abraham do. For example, your claim that Jesus is the only way... Sorry, but you can't rationally claim that that is the truth.

Your reason for believing that, is simply a book... the bible. And that's not evidence. It's not proof. It's no more legitimate than the Book of Mormon. And we all know where that one came from...

Friday October 13, 2006 - 03:12pm (EDT)

Bluuenikki -- >>> I am talking about the notions of beauty and justice themselves apart from any standards.

Oh ok. We do both have a concept of beauty and justice. We just are not going to agree on what it is. Leave the topic, perhaps. :-)

>>> If left to naturalistic process, a concept of beauty is hardly more than a chemical process, so we really aren't conscience at all, but really more like zombies with no real will, no real concepts of beauty, no real concept of justice.

Ummm, that IS what I believe, Mule....sans the zombie-with-no-conscience part. I believe in the naturalistic process. I find beauty in the natural. To you, it is hollow and empty and void of meaning. To me, it is rich with wonder, inspiration, beauty. And full of meaning cuz _I_ put the meaning there, not any deity. I define what beauty is, for myself as an individual. I apply the meaning to life and its processes, not any deity. _Some_ theists seem to be unable to grasp that notion and empower themselves with that concept---that they, alone, put meaning to life, not a deity.

>>> In fact, all these things are delusionary, or even worse, meaningless in reality.

While I know you may not be attacking me or my belief system.....let me just say this to those who do attack others' belief systems.....if my belief in the naturalistic process is delusionary, then I can turn around say the same thing of some christian beliefs. What did Jesus say about "doing unto others"? ;-)

Again, I know you did not mean anything by that comment, so no harm done. :-)

>>>> .... such notions This seems to be avoiding the issue altogether or looking away from the obvious due to prior commitments or the fact that it might challenge one's worldview, which in your case is atheism.

Or perhaps YOUR worldview? You never know the the future, you might change to atheism or a more liberal religion and in my future, I might change to a universalist christian. Who knows? You don't know if you will change religions or not in the future. :-)

Friday October 13, 2006 - 12:13pm (PDT)

Bluuenikki -- Btw, I was not avoiding the issue at all.

Friday October 13, 2006 - 12:14pm (PDT)

Bluuenikki -- As for avoiding the issue.....*coughs*

I do have the belief that most things in life "just is".....and it is up to us to determine what is beautiful and what isn't...and what is safe and what isn't. Deity didn't make it that way for us. I already see some evidence (er, it proves it to me, that is) of that in other cultures that are radically different from us. They applied their own meaning to the life they know, they have their own beliefs and so on. Some beliefs are universal throughout cultures such as not-murdering-children.

Life IS hollow. It is up to me to make it meaningful or hollow. I want meaning in my life, so I am making that meaning come to life in my life. :-) That is my spirituality, and no religion or deity is needed. :-)

Friday October 13, 2006 - 12:21pm (PDT)
Bluuenikki -- I agree with Cappy Pinktights latest comments. Well said, better than I could! :-)

Friday October 13, 2006 - 12:23pm (PDT)
My Reply -- Lots to answer I will try and be succinct as possible.

On beauty/souls: What I am saying when I am talking about zombies is that if things are left to purely naturalistic processes, then conscience really doesn't exist. Our perceptions of consciousness are really not perceptions at all because it is nothing more than the chemical reactions. Can a bottle of oil be aware of itself? If so, how? A prerequisite for calling something beautiful is a concept of beauty. A prerequisite for calling something right or wrong is a concept of justice. Apart from consciousness, how can such concepts exist? Or more fundamental to that, how can conciseness exist in a naturalistic framework?

On cosmology: First, I do not necessarily have to argue for the God of Abraham in creation. It could be Zeus, Krishna, or Allah for that matter. All these religions/mythologies have creation stories.

Second, Why is saying "God did it" bad? How is a theory crafted by a man superior to another's theological explanation? One uses science, the other theology. I am glad that you aren't avoiding the issue now though.

Third, I certainly think that there is plenty of evidence that points to creation, but as a naturalist, you probably will reject such evidence. One type of evidence we have been discussing: abstract concepts like beauty and justice. Another type is the complexity in life.

On the Bible and belief: Belief to me isn't blind, but rooted in facts. Like I said, I tried other stuff before I became a Christian, and to me Christianity was the most cohesive and most coherent worldview. It's not based solely on a book, but the testimony of history, the evidences in nature, and the personal experience. The Bible speaks to all these things, but I don't necessarily believe the Bible because it is the Bible, but I believe the Bible because it has shown to be trustworthy. This is another can of worms in and of itself, so I'd rather not go here yet. Let's focus on the thing at hand.

Saturday October 14, 2006 - 02:13pm (CDT)

My Reply -- Concerning engergy, read what I wrote to Nikki further up the blog.

Saturday October 14, 2006 - 02:18pm (CDT)

My Reply -- To answer your question on attacking beleifs...

I am not attacking your worldview per se, but just disagreeing with it. Honestly, atheism as I see it leads to a pretty colorless world. Take that however you will, but I am sure that many atheists see Christianity or the whole of theism for that matter the same way.

Saturday October 14, 2006 - 02:29pm (CDT)
Bluuenikki -- >>> On beauty/souls: What I am saying when I am talking about zombies is that if things are left to purely naturalistic processes, then conscience really doesn't exist.

I have to disagree. Dolphins, apes, and some dogs often have some form of conscience and they are not as sentient as we are. They are more naturalistic. We learn from mistakes what is right and what is wrong and go from there. Early man learned from their mistakes and passed it down thousands of generations, becoming memes, from what little I know of it. That's my stand. :-)

I don't see science as "theology" but I respect many theists who may think we do due to how some people "treat" science---on a pedestral. I can see how theists think that. :-) Anyway, I digress.

I don't see "deity did it" as bad or immature or anything....I just see it as a cop-out, as avoiding the issue---which I know you are NOT doing at all, Mule. :-) I like cold, spelled-out, concise explanations to vague explanations. It may just be my obsessive-compulsive nature (nature again, LOL) that needs more spelled out explanations than vague ones. Science provides me the concise answers I like.

Yeah, atheism can be colorless at times, even I agree with you on that sometimes---I put the color in my life. :-) I think with atheists, we have to do the "coloring our lives" and that requires more thinking, more analyzing, more study......and with MANY theists, they already have the color, so no "extra thinking" required. Er, I said 'MANY theists', not all...and I know that might be a mudsling to some folks. :-)

I am glad you are not the sort that avoids thinking like so many theists do......kudos!!! :-)

Sunday October 15, 2006 - 05:39am (PDT)

My Reply -- Is sentience not the essence of consciousness? That is what seems to separate animals from human beings. The ability to learn doesn't necessarily make one sentient or alive. I program a computer to learn from its mistake. This is the concept behind artificial intelligence (My undergrad was in computer science). But what makes one conscience is the ability to recognize that I am learning something, rather than just the lesson itself. In other words, I know that I learn something when I place my hand on the hot iron. Not only do I learn not do it again, but I also know that I learned a lesson.

If I apply the same idea to the other things we have been talking about, I have be a sentient being to judge right and wrong, and to appreciate beauty. Like I said: I have to be aware of beauty before I can talk about something being beautiful. I think sentience (consciousness) goes well beyond being just aware of one senses--it can be intellectual and spiritual as well.

Philosophers have been pondering the essence of the mind sense as long as history has been recorded. To me, the worldview that seems to correspond with the reality I experience is the worldview presented by Christianity that speaks of a God, his creation, his dealings with creation, the nature of mankind, the nature of the world, and our most intimate deepest needs. This is somewhat subjective and science really can't explain it, but I certainly think that it lends itself as credible evidence for the existence of God. It's more of a pragmatic case for the existence of God, particularly the Christian God.

As far as creation and origins are concerned, I don't have to have the particulars figured out. As I see it, how ever God did it is really not the important part, but the fact that he did. My hunch is that the more science learns about origins, the more we will see God smiling back at us from the evidence we gather. So far, I think that this is the case.

Sunday October 15, 2006 - 01:43pm (CDT)

Bluuenikki -- I define sentience as being self-aware (self-consciousness). Very few non-human animals are sentient. I would deem most apes and dolphins and a few dogs as sentient. I think you and I are on the same page on that issue. :-)

I do agree with you that I have to be aware of beauty to find something beautiful---as well as being aware of ugliness to find something ugly.

Monday October 16, 2006 - 01:52am (PDT)

My Reply -- I think we've said enough on this thread. If Captain will start a new one, we can talk about something different. It's been fun though. Peace.

Monday October 16, 2006 - 10:53am (CDT)

Comments: 0
Post a Comment