Why I’d Make a Bad Atheist

I don’t think I’d make a good atheist, for dwelling within me is a strange desire to be happy. This isn’t to say atheists aren’t happy, of course. In fact, most of my atheist friends are a damn sight happier than myself. But the existence of this desire poses a problem.

Which I'd like to resolve.

The desire for happiness is naturally oriented towards eternal happiness. When I am happy, I have no desire for that happiness to end. Such a thing would be inconceivable, directly contrary to the very nature of happiness. Thus we never see a man who, when happy with his wife, can’t wait for the next turn of marriage misery.

If this seems obvious, then I am pleased. But it is also extraordinarily stupid. For we live in a world that practically guarantees that we won’t always be happy. We die, others die, people hurt us, we hurt people, and some days we’re doomed to wake up to a suffocating haze of “You suck, self!” with apparently little cause.

And so we arrive at a disconnect. Our natural desire is not met within the universe we are a part of.

Or take the idea of satisfaction. We constantly set up images of ourselves, saying, “If only I could be x, then I would be satisfied.” If only I could get that job. If only I could publish a book. If only I could move to California and join a yoga commune. Then we get those things and wake up, ready to start our new, satisfied life, and what do we find?

We find what Cormac McCarthy talks about in No Country For Old Men:

You think when you wake up in the mornin yesterday dont count. But yesterday is all that does count. What else is there. your life is made out of the day’s it’s made out of. What else is there? Nothin else. You might think you can run away and change your name and I dont know what all. Start over. And then one mornin you wake up and look at the ceiling and guess who’s layin there?

We think if only I could be successful, then I’d be happy. Then we’re successful, and who are we? The same “I”.

That’s why so many folk’s satisfaction doesn’t involve being something, but rather constantly doing something. If you stake all your desires for satisfaction on being a doctor, you’re taking a mighty risk. For once you’re that doctor, what do you do if you’re not satisfied? You’re screwed! Move on to the next image of your satisfied self.

Better instead to find satisfaction in travel, for you can always travel more. Better to find satisfaction is physical pleasure, because you can always try for more sex, more drugs, more alcohol. Better to find satisfaction in something you do, not in who you are.

Yet what do we say? We want to be satisfied with our selves. We want to be happy with ourself. Like this kid:

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This desire for satisfaction is naturally oriented to the eternal. No man wants to be satisfied with himself for a day or two. We want forever. But once again, it seems that our desire to be satisfied with ourselves cannot be met within the universe we live. We get glimpses of it, don’t get me wrong, but how much of our satisfaction is really in the things we do, and not in who we are? It’s a tough question.

This seems to be the case with an unaccountable number of things. We want to love and be loved, and these desires are orientated towards “Forever”. (If a man asks a woman to love him for a month, he doesn’t want her love at all.) But we find it difficult to love, difficult to be loved, difficult to live up to the eternal call love cries. Or take our natural desire to be “one” with things. We want to be one with nature, one with beauty, one with him, one with her, one in mind, one in heart. But the reality is we can never achieve this oneness we desire. The universe dictates that two objects cannot occupy the same space. Bummers all around.

Now here a complaint could be rightfully made: So what? And I suppose it depends. The man who can be fine with this disconnect between what we desire and what we can actually get, well, I imagine he’d make a good, rational, happy atheist, agnostic, or post-Christian-what-have-you. I’d honestly, I’d commend him for it.

But forgive me, for I have a certain weakness that cringes at meeting a seemingly insurpassable wall.

If I have a desire that cannot be met by the natural universe, this seems to imply that there is something in me unnatural.

We have a desire to be eternally satisfied, to be eternally happy, to be one with another, to be eternally loved and eternally love — these desires cannot be met. What then, are we to make of our desire for truth?

When we go about the work of science, we go under the assumption that the desire for truth can be met, for why would we have within ourselves a desire that has no correlation to reality? But if we claim that our desire for eternal happiness cannot be met, and that any thinking to the contrary is delusion, then we seriously call into question the idea that our desire for truth can be met, and that all satisfaction of that desire is any more than just delusion.

If our desires don’t necessarily have objects, than man is absurd creature, and his reasoning cannot be trusted. If his wants can be mere delusions and fantasies, then his attempt to fulfill those wants are suspect. All his work is suspect. His atheism is suspect, his theism, his books and his thoughts.

If however, we look at these desires and believe that they do have objects, then our need to know can be satisfied, as can our need to be forever satisfied can be satisfied. This is the position I cannot help but take. If I have a desire that cannot be met by the natural universe, this seems to imply that there is something in me that yearns something outside of the natural universe. And I do believe these desires can be met “there” — the desire to be one with Another, to be satisfied with myself as precisely who I am, to love and eternally be loved, to be forever happy and to spend my days in perfect peace — for if I don’t, I simply make no sense.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1413455857 Joe A. Dantona

    Someone’s been reading his C.S. Lewis.

    • Vision_From_Afar

      Like he reads anything else?

      • lakingscrzy

        Chesterton too, it’s how I found this blog.

        • Cal-J

          I’m almost certain’s he’s read some Aquinas, too.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/OZPJEEH6OQKV5FAKVDLURDK7DA Joan

      Or St Augustine.

      • musiciangirl591

        or both!

  • http://vespersontherocks.blogspot.com/ K. Bartell

    Nice work with the McCarthy quote. You’re right about the quest for the infinite, but in the specific instance of “wherever you go, there you are,” I think part of it’s our tendency to mistake accidents for substance, don’t you?

  • http://www.facebook.com/brian.westley Brian Westley

    “If our desires don’t necessarily have objects, than man is absurd creature, and his reasoning cannot be trusted.”

    I’d say people whose reasoning creates imaginary superbeings out of whole cloth cannot be trusted. If one night you dream you can fly by flapping your arms, does this mean it must be possible? You’re simply demanding that the universe must exist in some way as to satisfy any and all of your desires; I see no reason to assume that. To quote The Princess Bride, “Learn to live with disappointment.”

    • Mark

      You are confusing unnatural desire for the temporal with natural desire for the eternal. The urge to fly brought about by a dream is not a natural part of the human person but influenced by cultural factors, and not shared universally. The human desire for eternal satisfaction is universal and found within every culture and every person, however much a person may attempt to deny their natural desires. Furthermore, the comparison of natural desire to dreams is a false analogy because dreams are merely the brain’s amalgamation of images witnessed throughout the day whereas the natural desire for eternal satisfaction is purely internal and can exist without any external imagery. Imagery within dreams is external in origin and therefore cannot be compared to internal desires, that arise naturally without the need for external imagery. No one would claim that the natural desire for food because one dreamed of a particularly fantastic banquet; likewise, it is equally absurd to attempt to invalidate the argument from natural desire by comparing it to dreams about flight.

      • Deven Kale

        “The human desire for eternal satisfaction” actually has biological causes such as adrenaline, serotonin, progesterone, and other neurotransmitters and endorphins. In terms of what I imagine you yourself are calling something that feels good, that’s most likely a flood of oxytocin, which is not just a post-orgasm hormone. It’s released all the time for different reasons such as making new friends, helping others, cuddling with a child, etc. These are all times when oxytocin is released. So in other words, you’re desire for eternal satisfaction is actually nothing more than a yearning for those floods of chemicals within your own brain.

        • Mark

          The fact that the body has a physical response to a spiritual need does not refute the argument. The fact that the human person is able to conceive of and desire that which transcends space, time, and matter shows that there is an element of the human person that transcends space, time, and matter. The body is merely a part of the human person that may have a chemical response to the human person’s desires. This argument, however, does ignore the fact that the Christian life, or devout expressions of other forms of religion, and the pursuit of eternal happiness is often completely lacking in physical or psychological pleasure and therefore this materialistic counterargument does not reflect the reality of religion.

        • JK_Nation

          “‘The human desire for eternal satisfaction’ actually has biological causes such as adrenaline, serotonin, progesterone, and other neurotransmitters and endorphins.”

          Marc has actually posted on this topic. This reality is further evidence of the existence of the eternal, not the other way around.

      • Mark

        “No one would claim that the natural desire for food because one dreamed of a particularly fantastic banquet” should read “No one would claim that the natural desire for food is invalid because one dreamed of a particularly fantastic banquet.” Mea culpa.

      • Brian Westley

        “You are confusing unnatural desire for the temporal with natural desire for the eternal. The urge to fly brought about by a dream is not a natural part of the human person but influenced by cultural factors, and not shared universally. The human desire for eternal satisfaction is universal and found within every culture and every person, however much a person may attempt to deny their natural desires.”

        This is just one big argument by assertion. It’s easy to counter with another assertion: “You’re wrong.”

    • http://www.facebook.com/nicholas.escalona Nicholas Escalona

      Perhaps it is that he is speaking of natural human desires. The desire to fly is an accidental desire, one easily forgotten. And for that matter it is probably reducible to natural desires.

    • Phil L.

      Hi Brian,

      Mark was already getting at it, but what Marc is addressing in this post are the transcendentals. These are the those things that transcend space/time itself, which is why comparing it to the dreaming of flying is merely a caricature of what Marc was saying.

      He is speaking of love, truth, beauty, and being itself. These are things that will never be satisfied in this material world. There are many beautiful things, but you will never come across something that you say, “Wow this is beauty itself, and I will never see anything more beautiful than this as there is nothing more beautiful.” We may think that for a while, it could be most of a lifetime for some, but at some point you come to the realization that I am yearning for something even more beautiful. And this thing that I thought was beauty itself, doesn’t come close to full-filling that yearning within everyone. Some of course are more aware of this than others and keep filling it up with the things of the world.

      This above can be applied to love, truth, and being in the same way.

      Take Care,
      Phil

    • CPE Gaebler

      Well, it’s a good thing other people created my imaginary superbeing for me!

  • Ellen T

    Not very profound, but my little sister (9) says: If I ate you we’d be in the same space!

    Here’s a sonnet for you that hits on some of the same thoughts:
    I stopped, when I began to be at peace.
    The reason known but distantly, I raged
    And cursed at our flightly human ease,
    Always, only, ever, or merely staged.
    I know, each hour I see another sink
    To a fury of despair and sorrow,
    This incensed soul is not the first to think
    On unrest waiting for your Good Morrow
    To quiet this lacerated longing
    Of all your weary creatures. Fled from your
    Gentle love, though to it still belonging,
    We despise, ache, for entry of that door.
    And will this restless strain be here, always,
    And life seem more than a transient phase?

    • http://twitter.com/lisajulia65 Lisa Julia

      Hmm…if i ate you, we’d share similar space; it would not be the EXACT SAME space….someone correct me here, if necessary.

      • Phil L.

        Hi Lisa,

        You are getting at some very interesting topics. I will give you the long and short answer, so if you are really not that interested you can skip the long. ;)

        Short: Pretty much correct what you said. Food is taken in and assimilated and truly becomes us physically, but we do not physically become what we eat, and in that way again you are correct they are not in the same place, at the same time, in the same way.

        Long: So when we eat a chicken, even if we ate chicken for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day we would never actually become a chicken. This is because there is a distinction between form and matter. The matter is what is assimilated into us and made literally the same as us. We take in the physical matter of a chicken and it literally becomes us, but we do not become a chicken because we do not take on the *form* of chicken. The form is the organizing structure and what informs all matter, there is no such thing as pure matter. All reality is a combo of form/matter composition. So when we eat the chicken and its material literally becomes us, there is no such thing as the chicken any more, only the material that used to be informed by the form of chicken. So that is why it would not be correct to say that myself and the chicken now occupy the same space, since there is not such thing as the chicken anymore, only the material that used to be the chicken

        So that it is not totally correct to say “You are what you eat,” but rather more correct to say “You are and you are not what you eat.”

        Hope this helps!
        Phil

  • Phil L.

    Marc, good intro commentary to the transcendentals and their pointing/yearning for the infinite.

    A lot of your post have some philosophical inklings sprinkled throughout them; are you studying philosophy at Steubenville? If not, you should definitely dive into that since you would be good at it, and it would only strengthen your intellectual basis.

    I’m going into my 3rd year at Borromeo Seminary up here in Cleveland, and Metaphysics and Philosophy of God is up for me now. Looking forward to it!

    Take Care and God Bless,
    Phil

    • KuiperBelt

      I second that opinion, Marc does a very good job synthesizing philosophy and theological concepts and if he doesn’t study philosophy formally yet he should get on it while he has the chance!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000909947326 Nick Corrado

      He’s currently an English major, I believe. I think he would do well in philosophy too, though.

  • Jay E.

    C.S. Lewis ftw

  • musiciangirl591

    “And I do believe these desires can be met “there” — the desire to be one with Another, to be satisfied with myself as precisely who I am, to love and eternally be loved, to be forever happy and to spend my days in perfect peace — for if I don’t, I simply make no sense.” favorite line of the whole page today :)

  • Alexandra

    Do you realize that you talk about atheism more than Catholicism?

    Check out your word cloud.

    • Phil L.

      Hi Alexandra,

      “Do you realize that you talk about atheism more than Catholicism?
      Check out your word cloud.”

      I would say that that is because atheism has definitely been the “fad of the month” for several years now. Especially what we know now as a new atheism or I would call it a “pop atheism” as it got rid of a lot of the intellectual rigors of the atheism that Nietzsche wrote on.

      So it would make sense that atheism would come up in a lot of posts but a whole post can be Catholic without even mentioning the word or words associated with it. Heck the metaphysics that Catholicism is based on is from the pagan Greeks, so who says Catholics aren’t supportive of non-believers ;).

      (After all at its base, Catholicism is most interested in absolute truth wherever it may come from or be found.)

      Take Care,
      Phil

    • Shawn

      For being an atheist, do you realize that you spend a lot of time on a Catholic blog?

      Check out your internet history.

      • musiciangirl591

        i know right! she needs a hobby….

      • Alexandra

        I do recognize that, yes.

        I just noticed that atheism had gotten bigger than Catholicism and thought it was worth mentioning. It wasn’t a criticism, it was an observation.

        • Wrestling_Enkidu

          Looks like there has been a lot of unwarranted hostility to a Alexandra’s pretty harmless comment. How about some intellectual charity?

        • c matt

          Well, it was a post on atheism, so why should that be unexpected?

    • musiciangirl591

      are you an atheist, just wondering, and if you are, why are you always here…

    • Wrestling_Enkidu

      I’m glad Mark talks about atheism a lot (was this comment a criticism or simply an observation?). I think it is helpful to get an honest informed view from the outside. Also, atheists probably spend proportionally much more time on religious matters, which is also fine with me.

      • Korou

        Well, yes; if there was no such thing as religion, there would be no atheists. If, one day, there is no theism, we’ll stop referring to ourselves as a-theists.

        • musiciangirl591

          religion is man’s response to God…. atheists would still probably exist if there was no religion, just saying…

          • Korou

            If there was no religion, we’d all be atheists. And if we were all atheists we wouldn probably no longer feel any need to call ourselves that.
            By the way, is religion Man’s response to God – or humanity’s attempt to create Him?

          • Deven Kale

            Atheism is mans response to religion (theism). So if there were no religion, there would be nothing for us to respond to, and therefore no atheism. Just saying…

          • musiciangirl591

            is atheism the absence of religion? because atheists seem to make having no religion their religion…

          • Deven Kale

            For some, yes. For others, it’s a denial of religion. For yet others, it’s a rejection of religion. Small, yet important, distinctions. There are probably other options that I don’t know of which would also fit under the atheism umbrella.

          • Korou

            Musiciangirl: what exactly are you trying to say?

          • musiciangirl591

            i really don’t know, i’m kinda tired because of work

          • c matt

            Well, if we’re going to get all root word on us, religion is from religio, which is cult or culture. Theism derives from God – so a-theism is no-God, not no-religion (a-religion). There are plenty of folks who profess to be theist, but not religious – that is they believe in God, but follow no specific God professing “culture” – ie., religion. I doubt your average atheist would agree with them on the God part.

            So I would have to agree with musiciangirl here.

          • Deven Kale

            Well, now you’re just being an ass, so I think I’m going to ignore the rest of your comments for a while. At least, until I think you’re done with trolling my comments for any little bit of nit-picky goodness and are ready to actually have a conversation again.

          • Korou

            Well in that case musiciangirl was wrong to say that religion is man’s response to God.

          • musiciangirl591

            it is, its what i learned in school!

    • Marc Barnes

      Yep! ( :

  • Rick Dean

    I can appreciate your thoughts about desire. I am agnostic on the subject of God’s existence or an afterlife but with one elbow resting on atheism. I do not belief in an eternal afterlife nor have I ever seen proof or a convincing argument in support of one. There is, however, evidence that points to the very real possibility that when our neural networks cease to function the “I” that you mention will no longer be. Do I desire an afterlife and the notion that I may one day be reunited with loved ones who have passed? Absolutely. I would give anything for it to be the case but my desire for it to be true certainly does not make it so. I have only the evidence and science to fall back on.

    That being said, it is a very hard thing to face one’s mortality. It does not make me unhappy though. I am very happy to be who I am and to have the family that I have. I am very far from perfect but feel that I get closer every day to the person I want to be for them. I have the understanding that comes from self analysis to thank for that. I may not be here for very long in the grand scheme of things but for the time I am here I will marvel at the possibilities.

    Rick
    http://nogodsallowed.com

  • Hitchslap.blogspot.com

    Why are people so tough on this theist being honest? As an atheist, I found it an insightful story. Just because we sit on oppose sides of the fence does not mean we have to fight.

    • Wrestling_Enkidu

      I don’t see anyone criticizing Marc’s honesty. Instead, many atheists criticize (or try to criticize) his arguments. This doesn’t have to imply that atheists are fighting him, although some are. I think that it can be interesting and productive to engage with those with opposing beliefs.

      Further, even though disagreeing does not necessarily imply fighting, sometimes fighting is warranted, especially if the ideas are harmful. I don’t know how worth fighting about Marc’s posts are, but in principle, I think that there are plenty of ideas worth fighting for or against.

      • Badams1314

        Hear! Hear! Only nothing is worth fighting about on the internet…

        • Vision_From_Afar

          Lolcats?

  • megan

    I was basically having a long conversation about this yesterday with a friend without realizing basic implications we were dancing around. I just got my master’s and joined a national company that pays extremely well and also allows me to live anywhere in the country. I call myself a paid drifter. I’m good at my job, I’m truly helping others, I have a new car and I’m keeping up with all of my payments with no stress. Everything in this world tells me I should be happy and content, but I’m not. I’m not depressed, but I’m uncomfortable I guess is what id say. I’m definitely grateful for where I am and the blessings ive been given (more grateful than anyone could know) but I’m not content. There’s nothing more I want, my goals kinda ended at degree and job and help others. I mean, I do want more, but I don’t know what. Obviously, my soul knows what it wants and now my brain’s starting to get it with the help of your blog post. Thanks.

    • Marc Barnes

      Awesome! ( :

    • Laura Camp

      Rollin’ with St. Augustine! “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

    • Gibbslarryd

      “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” John 6:35

    • KeatThePeat

      Thanks for your open honesty, Megan. I genuinely hope that you find contentment in your life–not in the “I hope it doesn’t rain today” sort of way. I have hope for you, girlfriend. Seek :)

  • Wrestling_Enkidu

    If all humans had a natural, universal desire for eternal companionship with unicorns, I don’t see how this would make belief in eternal unicorns necessary to “make sense” or “pursue truth.”

    I think we can all acknowledge human fallibility without slipping into universal skepticism or having to think that human pursuits are impossibly absurd. We can acknowledge that desires do not necessarily have objects, and that our pursuit of truth will not necessarily be successful, but still attempt to satisfy those desires as best as possible.

    I don’t know how well this reflects Catholicism, but we all know that certain moral perfections are unattainable, and me might say that perfectly emulating Jesus (do Catholics do this?) is impossible to succeed in. But, it’s not absurd to strive, despite the impossibility of success, perhaps in part because even though we can’t attain perfection, we can still go for “better” and avoid “worse.”

    Similarly, even if absolute universal truth and eternally satisfied desires are unattainable, there still seems to be non-absurd reason to pursue close approximations of truth (flat earth to spherical earth to oblate spheroid earth), and higher degrees of desire fulfillment (perpetual starvation to periodical satiation to rare hunger).

    • Anodos

      Your response implies that our desires do, in fact, have natural objects. Hunger points to food; food exists. Human nature points truth; truth exists.

      We also desire for each of these desires to be eternally satisfied. Therefore, an object which eternally satisfies each of these desires exists.

      • Wrestling_Enkidu

        My post above was a response to Marc’s claim that on atheism, life, or the pursuit of truth is absurd. I haven’t heard a response to that at all. That problem I think refutes his pessimistic conclusions about pursuing truth or doing “work” given atheism. Marc would make a spectacular atheist.

        But the point you brought up is a different one that I didn’t respond to, so I’ll do that here:

        Let’s assume Marc is right about us desiring the eternal (not even sure about that, but we can work with it).

        We’re mammals. We feel pleasure and pain. We don’t like pain, and we do like pleasure. When I burn myself on a searing hot pan, it seems like a natural reaction to want that never ever, for all eternity, to happen again. Does this natural reaction imply that there is some mystical realm where “burning” doesn’t exist? No. This seems like a forced supernatural conclusion, where none is necessary. Of course we don’t ever want to feel horrible searing pain. Because it hurts. No eternal realm necessary.

        Similarly, when I’m in a happy state, the fact that I don’t want it to end seems to be explained quite easily by the fact that I enjoy being happy, which is really all that is necessary to explain my desire to maintain happiness. Again, no mystical eternal happy realm necessary. The simple fact that we don’t like to suffer and we do like to experience happiness is enough to explain why we want to forever avoid horrible suffering, and maintain happiness as long as we can. No ad hoc, magical explanation necessary.

        • Wrestling_Enkidu

          I would add that even if Marc’s rationale was correct about the existence of eternally satisfying objects, his argument is still invalid. The existence of eternally fulfilled desires does not necessitate a God. A strange, supernatural atheistic realm perhaps, but a God is still an extra, unneeded assumption.

          Marc could hold his (I think wrong) Lewis-esque assumptions, and still be a consistent atheist, just a rare one. You’re always welcome to the other side Marc. :)

          • Anodos

            At that point, however, you would be faced with the choice between what would be a metaphysical conundrum – a permanent, supernatural realm with no omnipotent being to either create or sustain it – and at least some form of theism.

        • Korou

          Exactly! You’ve hit the nail on the head here.

          • John

            Not really.

      • Korou

        Hunger may point to food, but that doesn’t mean that you can happily eat 24/7.
        Our desire to live can be satisfied, but that doesn’t mean that it can be satisfied forever.
        Try saying out loud now, “I want a giant ice cream, as big as a house!”
        Then listen.
        Hear that?
        What you hear is the universe saying to you: “I don’t care what you want.”
        It says the same thing when you say you never want to die. Which, by the way, we certainly do have knowledge of and can imagiune.

        • Anodos

          That’s a straw man. Eternal satisfaction does not mean our inundation by the object of the desire. (Nor even is eating 24/7 a desire we have, regardless of whether we’re capable of it.)

          The desire for a serving of ice cream the size of a house is an instantiation of hunger and the desire for pleasure – its two corollary natural desires, both of which direct us to real objects.

          (And no one ever argued that “If you want it, it will come to you.” The argument, in absurdly simple form, is: “If you want it, there must be an object which would satisfy that want.”)

          • Korou

            Actually, I think “eternal satisfaction” does mean inundation by the object of the desire. You want to be happy and to live forever; what do you imagine heaven is going to be like?

            “(And no one ever argued that “If you want it, it will come to you.” The argument, in absurdly simple form, is: “If you want it, there must be an object which would satisfy that want.”)”

            Anodos, you are missing the point again and again. Do you not see that “if you want it, there must be an object which would satisfy that want” is an absurd argument to make?

            If you choose to nitpick, and to say “I didn’t say that you’ll always get what you want, just that you always can get what you want…” you haven’t made your position any more tenable.

            The difference between wanting something and it always coming to you because you want it, and wanting something and it always existing because you want it, is not an important one. What makes you think that, because you want something, it must exist? We have already looked at how it is wrong to say heaven must exist because otherwise we couldn’t imagine it.

        • musiciangirl591

          *imagine*

          • Korou

            Sorry?

          • musiciangirl591

            i corrected your spelling

          • Korou

            A beautiful song, with a wonderful message.

          • Sir Mark

            If the message of that song is true, then there is no beauty. All is corruptible. All will perish. All will cease to exist.

            Imagine that!

          • Korou

            Which is why the atheists, more than the theists, have reason to treasure the experiences of the world while we have them.

          • John

            You’re implying that theists don’t treasure the world’s experiences to the extent atheists do. You are wrong.

          • Deven Kale

            “There is no beauty.” Perhaps, but only by your own super-strict definition. Others see beauty in different ways than you do, which explains the phrase “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

            “All is corruptible.” Which is why everything must be enjoyed while it’s still pure and beautiful, before it becomes corrupted.

            “All will perish.” Which is why our friends, family, and all others that we love should be appreciated and enjoyed while they’re still alive.

            “All will cease to exist.” Which is why we should make the most out of the existence we have, and attempt to make it better for those who come after us.

            I consider this a better way of looking at the world than the, “the next place is better, so f*** this place and all it’s problems,” kind of attitude I see in far too many who believe in an afterlife.

          • John

            >> I consider this a better way of looking at the world than the, “the next place is better, so f*** this place and all it’s problems,” kind of attitude I see in far too many who believe in an afterlife.

            Odd. I never found this true in all of my friends and the acquaintances that believe in an afterlife.

            Actually, what I find eye rolling between yours and Korou’s post is that you both seem to imply that theists or those who believe in an afterlife are A) going through life nonchalantly because “the grass is greener once I die” and B) don’t appreciate what they have in front of them, or last not the extent in which they should.

            I would say that the atheists in my life are what you accuse of the theists of being. They’re pretty much the walking stereotype – once you meet one you most likely have met them all, but of course that’s not true in your case. Of course not.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Wallen-II/100000420413545 Joe Wallen II

    Wishful thinking, argument from consequences.

    The author fails at logic.

    “If I have a desire that cannot be met by the natural universe, this seems to imply that there is something in me unnatural.”

    Why?

    • Phil L.

      Hey Joe,

      Refer to my comment above in reply to Deven to answer your question.

      Take Care,
      Phil

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Wallen-II/100000420413545 Joe Wallen II

        No, Phil. That still doesn’t make sense.

        • Phil L.

          Hi Joe,

          Can you elaborate on what isn’t making a connection for you, then maybe I could clarify?

          Take Care,
          Phil

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Wallen-II/100000420413545 Joe Wallen II

            I don’t see any justification for assuming that there is anything beyond the real world.

            There are the assumptions that we all make.
            I am real. I live in a universe that obeys unchanging laws and logic. I might learn about the universe.

            The metaphysical, and supernatural?
            Where is the justification?

            Because it might make me happier?
            Because life would suck if it ends at death?

            B.S.

          • Korou

            Exactly.

          • John

            Not really.

          • c matt

            Concpets themselves are metaphysical – are you saying concepts do not exist? Thought is a delusion?

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Wallen-II/100000420413545 Joe Wallen II

            So because the concept of eternal happiness is metaphysically real, eternal happiness is really real?

          • Rider of Rohan

            this is an interesting exchange. do you think that love is real, or merely a concept? is there a concrete “love” that obeys the “unchanging laws and logic of the universe”?

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Wallen-II/100000420413545 Joe Wallen II

            The feeling of being in love or loving something is an emotion that arises out of a chemical/physical state of the brain.

            I don’t know if ‘real’ or ‘concept’ describes it better.

            You might as well ask if conciseness is real. Mine is real to me and unknowable to everyone else.

          • Rider of Rohan

            since an emotion like love or hunger for affection arises in the brain, does it follow that it can’t be objectively satisfied, never mind in another world, but in the world we live in, here and now?

          • Deven Kale

            Assuming that the feeling of love is nothing more than a chemical state within the brain (which I just happen to believe), then the desire for love is nothing more than a yearning for that chemical state. Achieving that state would objectively satisfy that desire.

            This is little different than a hunger for food (also a chemical state within the brain, triggered by an empty stomach, among other things). Once the desire is satisfied, the need for it goes away for a period of time. How long depends on how well it was satisfied and the particular needs of the person.

            As for the deeper question of whether love is objective or subjective, I would say that it’s surprisingly both. It’s objective in that the chemical state is roughly equal for all people who experience it, but how it’s reached varies from person to person which is what makes it subjective.

          • Rider of Rohan

            would you agree that since the desire for love is nothing more than a yearning for that chemical state, it’s possible that anything might achieve that chemical state of the brain which will satisfy the feeling of love, or hunger for affection? so then, as long as there’s someone or something to meet an infants physical needs, the infant doesn’t necessarily need a human to achieve its emotional needs?

          • Deven Kale

            I would agree that it could be possible to achieve anyone’s emotional needs without need of a human to do so, but for the most part that’s beyond the reach of our current technology. Even so, just because something can be done, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it should be. Once we reach that point, then we should consider the morality of doing such a thing, but since we’re not there now we’re unlikely to know the specifics of how that would be done, so discussing it’s morality is basically pointless (plus, it’s probably over my head anyway).

            The discussion here isn’t about hypothetical futures though, it’s a discussion as to whether the ideas put forth by C.S. Lewis are really worth considering, or just nicely worded flights of fancy and no more worthy of attention than the Invisible Pink Unicorn.

          • Rider of Rohan

            this is actually a repy to your latest post, but i can’t reply there due to issues with formatting: i have to respectfully disagree that this isn’t a discussion about hypothetical futures, given that mark’s post is about innate desires which can only be satisfied in some “hypothetical” future!

            that said, i’m wondering what you make of our inherent desire for love and affection? would you agree that at the very least, given the limitations of current technology, and given the limitations of animals, drugs, and alcohol to fully satisfy our hunger for love and affection-would you take exception with the assertion that the natures of these longing is such that other humans are in a unique position to be able to fulfill these desires, however temporary that might be?

          • Deven Kale

            Considering that, if your position is the correct one, countless numbers of people have already experienced some portion of either “heaven” or “hell,” it’s still not much of a hypothetical future. Unless you only count those of us who are having the conversation right now, in which case I’ll agree. ;)

            Otherwise yes, I would take exception to your assertion that our desire for acceptance and happiness can only be satisfied by others of our own species. For some people who have experienced some critical mass of suffering brought on by the hands of other humans, attempting to achieve that feeling of being loved by another human would be impossible (there could be other circumstances, but this is the most obvious one).

            In that case they will attempt, and sometimes even find, those same feelings of love and companionship with pets rather than other humans. Alcohol and other drugs (with the exception of maybe ecstasy, but I’m not sure) don’t work on the proper pathways within the brain to actually bring on those same feelings, and even if they did I wouldn’t say it would be a healthy situation. I wouldn’t say the pet situation is healthy either, but this world isn’t purrfect and sometimes weird things happen.

    • Anodos

      The argument isn’t from consequences. It is, in its simplest form, as follows:

      1) All desires correspond to real objects.
      2) All men desire eternal happiness.
      3) Therefore, eternal happiness is a real object.
      4) Eternal happiness is not an object found in this life.
      5) Therefore, eternal happiness must be found outside this life.

      • Anodos

        I should clarify.

        1) All natural desires have real objects.

        6) Therefore, there is something outside this life.
        7) Materialistic atheism depends upon the claim that nothing outside this life exists.
        8) Materialistic atheism depends upon a false claim.

        It’s not a mathematical proof, and neither purports to nor does actually provide mathematical certainty. It’s a line of reasoning rooted in the one of the most common experiences of mankind, experience which it is foolish to ignore.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Wallen-II/100000420413545 Joe Wallen II

          “I should clarify.”

          “1) All natural desires have real objects.”

          This is a profoundly stupid thing to assume. Justify it.

          “2) All men desire eternal happiness.
          3) Therefore, eternal happiness is a real object.”

          Good job. You have a ridiculous conclusion drawn from an unsubstantiated premise.

          “4) Eternal happiness is not an object found in this life.”

          Agreed. Life is not eternal, so how could happiness be?

          “5) Therefore, eternal happiness must be found outside this life.
          6) Therefore, there is something outside this life.
          7) Materialistic atheism depends upon the claim that nothing outside this life exists.”

          Atheism fails to jump to the conclusion that there is anything beyond this life. There is no evidence.

          “8) Materialistic atheism depends upon a false claim.

          It’s not a mathematical proof, and neither purports to nor does actually provide mathematical certainty. It’s a line of reasoning rooted in the one of the most common experiences of mankind, experience which it is foolish to ignore.”

          Yeah, well it needs a little work.

          • Anodos

            You misunderstand the intent of my post. I meant it by way of explanation of Marc’s argument.

            Seeing as premise (1) is a universal assertion, it would be easier to argue if you provide a counterexample. Otherwise, we could go around in circles on that for a while.

            (3) follows necessarily from (1) and (2), so we can address the veracity of (1) before deciding whether (3) is “ridiculous.”

          • Deven Kale

            Before you can determine whether premise (1) is even true, first you must define what you mean by natural, desire, and object. Otherwise everyone who decides to join in this part of the discussion will likely be arguing completely different points and have no idea what the others are saying.

            Premise (2), on the other hand, is patently false. According to my understanding of reality, there’s no way I would want anything eternal, even if it is happiness. I’d be perfectly happy with more happiness, but eternal? No way.

          • Anodos

            That begs the question. You’re saying “There is no thing that exists such that it is eternal, and I want nothing that does not exist; therefore I want nothing eternal.” That argument assumes the contradictory of my conclusion without proving it, in order to disprove my conclusion. If a locked room contains its own key, I can’t use that key to get inside.

          • Deven Kale

            I am not saying “there is no thing that exists such that it is eternal.” I was giving you evidence, however anecdotal, that you’re second premise is patently and demonstrably false by giving you just one single example which contradicts it.

            To restate your premise: “All men desire eternal happiness.” I am a man, but I do not desire eternal happiness. In fact, I do not desire eternity in any form. More happiness is not a problem, which is something I think most people would agree with, but at some point I would like for my existence to end. Eternal happiness would make that end literally impossible simply by being eternal, therefore I do not want eternal happiness.

            Now that we’ve disproven premise (2), can we get back to defining what you mean in premise (1) please? I’m much more interested in that one.

          • Anodos

            In that case, I simply assert that you misunderstand what eternal happiness and what annihilation each entails. Desiring your annihilation seems to be as foolish a position as the relativists’ in Aristotle’s Metaphysics, and that though you say one thing, you must be deluded or deluding yourself.

            I sincerely think that no one could not desire eternal happiness.

            Regardless, your assertion does effectually end the debate on premise (2). We’re debating (1) above.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Wallen-II/100000420413545 Joe Wallen II

            I thought that happiness is something that, by definition you would want.

            Is that what they call a tautology?

          • Deven Kale

            Pretty close. A tautology is more like “water is wet,” or “sexiness turns me on.” lol It’s saying literally the same thing in different ways, sometimes in just one sentence.

            I do like happiness, and like I said, more of it would be nice. But I do not want eternal happiness, because eternity is something I don’t want.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Wallen-II/100000420413545 Joe Wallen II

            I made no assumptions about the intent of your post. I was merely responding to the points numbered.

          • Anodos

            You seemed to think I was trying to prove the soundness of my argument. I wasn’t.

            I was trying to explain the logic of Marc’s post. Stripped of its rhetoric, his argument follows the logic I listed above. Although you disagree with certain premises, if those premises are true, then the conclusions do follow. That is the definition of a valid argument.

            So Marc does not “fail at logic.”

            Whether the argument is sound (and therefore a reliable reflection of reality) is another question. That depends upon the veracity of the premises, which I’m happy to discuss if you want to.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Wallen-II/100000420413545 Joe Wallen II

            OK

            “1) All natural desires have real objects.”

            This is a profoundly stupid thing to assume. Justify it.

          • Anodos

            Proving a universal assertion might take longer than either of us have.

            On the other hand, it should be relatively easy for you to disprove. Can you name a natural desire you have which does not have a real object?

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Wallen-II/100000420413545 Joe Wallen II

            before we try that, what is an unnatural desire?

          • Anodos

            Sorry for the slow response. Busy afternoon.

            There are many difficulties with providing a definition of “natural desire” in the context of this debate. The definition I would provide presupposes the categories and premises of classical philosophy, which are probably unacceptable to you and for proofs of which we have little room here.

            I wonder if, then, we could use as our definition “Desires which, with a relative degree of certainty, we can say all men have.” That would make unnatural desire “desire which not all men share – either by perversion or by peculiarity.”

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Wallen-II/100000420413545 Joe Wallen II

            Isn’t it wonderful how each response gets bumped to the right? I will instead reply to a previous post.

          • Patterrssonn

            I have no desire for eternal happiness, or eternal anything really, which means that not all men share this desire, so by your definition the desire for eternal happiness is unnatural.

          • Korou

            Certainly. Eternal life.

          • Deven Kale

            While it would seem easy to state that you would truly want eternal life, the question is actually about what it is that you really want, what that desire truly is. So while it’s easy to say that you would want eternal life, I don’t believe that’s your desire at all, and the reason is infinite.

            Humans just can’t truly comprehend infinity, it’s simply beyond what the human mind is capable of. Even a relatively small number like one trillion is a massive stretch of our capabilities to truly understand. Think of it in your mind, just how much money, really, is one trillion dollars? Since you can’t understand infinity, you can’t understand eternity either, which is an infinite amount of time. Since you can’t even understand the concept of eternity, there is no reason to think you can actually desire it.

            What I’m saying is that I don’t think your desire for eternal life is actually so, it’s a desire for more life. You don’t really want to live for eternity (and I would argue that anybody who’s honest with themselves really wouldn’t), you just want to live longer than you think you can. To a point, that’s something that just about anybody would agree with. But to call that a desire for eternal life seems a bit disingenuous to me.

          • Korou

            Hey! Same team! :)

            I do of course agree with you, Deven.

          • Deven Kale

            Sorry about that, I’m terrible with names. Especially when there are so many new ones for me to get used to.

            I still think it was a good point though. ;)

          • Jktaadn

            For eternity is not an awareness of everlasting time, but an awareness which is itself totally without time.

          • Deven Kale

            Still wholly incomprehensible, since we only understand how to live within time.

        • NB

          The common experience of mankind is that thunder is caused by angry sky gods. Science and climatology being relatively new compared to the entire history of mankind. It is foolish to put the gut reaction of cavemen above the research of modern men.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Wallen-II/100000420413545 Joe Wallen II

        I don’t see the point of differentiating between natural and unnatural desires on popularity alone, but OK.

        I want to time travel. Specifically, I want to go back and correct mistakes from the past, or take up opportunities that I missed through stupidity. I think this desire is universal to anything that has the wit to plan ahead or regret. I hope you accept this as a natural desire.

        Would this mean that time travel is possible, even though changing the past is paradoxical?

        • http://indefinitecrisis.wordpress.com/ Michael H

          Strangely enough, we Christians crazily confess a God who is not only immortal, but is eternal – that he exists in all places in all times. So, yes.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Wallen-II/100000420413545 Joe Wallen II

            Yes, strange and irrelevant. It says nothing about how desiring something makes it real or an ‘object’. Or how we can only desire real ‘objects’ or whatever.

      • Patterrssonn

        1. How do you know this?

        2. I don’t, which pretty much proves this wrong. I don’t even desire eternity.

        3. Since 1. is tautology and I just proved 2 false then it follows that 3 is false.

        4. Eternal happiness is an catchphrase not an object.

        5. Again I’ve disproved 2 and 1 still remains to be proven which makes your conclusion entirely spurious.

        • Cal-J

          May I try? (This is a response half to Patterrssonn and half to Joe Wallen II, which is an awesome name).

          1. For every natural, innate desire we experience, there is something objective and real that corresponds to it and satisfies it. Food (hunger), water (thirst), sleep (exhaustion), friendship (loneliness), sex (don’t you dare tell me otherwise, liar), beauty (ugliness).

          2. There exists in us a natural, innate desire which nothing in time, nothing on earth, no creature can satisfy. (Some call this the desire to be happy).

          3. Therefore there must be something beyond time, earth, and creatures, which can satisfy this desire.

          Notes on 1: Note the distinction of natural/innate desires; this excludes things like time travel. And the desires that arise from regret. Regret-desire arises from human failures of action. The natural/innate desires I’m speaking of above are akin to what modern science (horribly vague term, that, but it’s a broader field than psychology and biology) call “needs”. Now, this regret-desire does, in fact, relate to the subject, but not in the way Joe was intimating.

          Notes on 2: This is easy. Ask yourself if you’re content. Take every wonderful thing in the world, go through it all. Are you happy? Really?

          “…there comes a time when one asks, even of Shakespeare, even of Beethoven, ‘Is that all there is?’ – Jean-Paul Sartre

          Notes on 3: This does not argue for the Christian God, or even the Abba of the Jews (forgive me if I use the term too glibly; I forget the proper term of reference to God in Judaism… beyond, well, “God”). This does not argue for the Oneness of Hinduism or Buddhism. Jove and Amaterasu aren’t here, either.

          This version of the argument simply says that there is must be a *something* that fulfills the desires innate desire that is unfulfilled by the natural world and its objects. Something *more* than natural; something, well, supernatural.

          What that supernatural something is is up for debate.

          • Patterrssonn

            I’m still not finding your argument very compelling. For one thing you mention the desire for friendship a social construct. There are many social/mental constructs or ‘objects’ that exist only in our minds, and possibly in the minds of other animals that evolve to live socially, ie fame, love, acceptance. How is happiness any different? It’s existence is just as real and objective as love, in other words it has no existence outside of our experience, or other animals experience of it. In which case since the desire for happiness can be satisfied by the mental construct happiness it is no different than the desire for fame, but much different from the desire for calories and proteins which have objective real world existence not dependent on our existence.

            Since your argument includes mental constructs in its definition of real and objective then according to your terms you are correct, but then you have to allow the objective existence of all mental constructs from the yeti to the Easter bunny,

          • Cal-J

            “For one thing you mention the desire for friendship a social construct. There are many social/mental constructs or ‘objects’ that exist only in our minds, and possibly in the minds of other animals that evolve to live socially, ie fame, love, acceptance.”

            Several problems:

            -What on earth does that have to do with anything? The way you use the word “construct” sounds like the way I use “imaginary”, so I’m assuming that’s what you mean.
            -Assuming that’s the case, you seem to be suggesting the fact that companionship is based in mutual, subjective appreciation means that it is not itself objective, or real.
            -Also, this implies that the desire for companionship, also known as “loneliness”, does not correspond to a real need, because companionship is not a real thing.
            -Would you like a hug?
            -That desires occur for nonmaterial or abstract goods does not mean they are unreal or arbitrary.

            Now, about “fame” and acceptance.
            -”Fame” refers to the desire for recognition.
            -”Acceptance” refers to the desire for… itself.
            -One could make an argument that the desire for acceptance is related in some way to the desire for companionship, or that fame is an arbitrary excess for acceptance. That is not my purpose here, so I will not waste my time following you down the tangent.

            I will address your point on “love” later.

            “How is happiness any different? It’s existence is just as real and objective as love, in other words it has no existence outside of our experience, or other animals experience of it.”

            Aha! Kant, you old dog. Die, already.

            First thing to work on. You’ve assumed that by “love” or “happiness”, I refer explicitly to the emotional forms there of, such as being in love, or experiencing pleasure.

            Passing over the fact that I never explicitly referred to “love”, to address the first word, I use a more expansive form of the word. When I say “love”, I generally refer to the act of desiring the best for the beloved, or perhaps am about to expand upon one or all of C.S. Lewis’ Four Loves (Romantic Desire, Familial/Motherly Affection, Brotherly Companionship, or Sacrificial Charity).

            Secondly, you seem to be saying, again, that because something has a subjective basis in the mind of a person that it is somehow non-objective. Falling in love is a subjective experience and therefore… what? It doesn’t count?

            I don’t suppose the fact that humans universally recognize the sensation of falling in love speaks to its universality. That all humans can fall in love certainly seems to suggest it belongs to something innate to humans. Whether or not it counts as a desire is beyond the point of this tangent.

            Also, I only briefly mentioned “happiness” as an aside, as my version is the argument from desire.

            We could easily call it satisfaction, or the state of needing nothing else. I wasn’t referring specifically to pleasure.

            “In which case since the desire for happiness can be satisfied by the mental construct happiness it is no different than the desire for fame, but much different from the desire for calories and proteins which have objective real world existence not dependent on our existence.”

            My actual argument refers to the fact that we desire things at all and remain unsatisfied, not specifically that we desire happiness and remain sad. That was an aside.

            “Since your argument includes mental constructs in its definition of real and objective then according to your terms you are correct, but then you have to allow the objective existence of all mental constructs from the yeti to the Easter bunny.”

            Not so. You’re using “mental constructs” equivocally.

            There is a big distinction between “things that are recognized through the mind” (beauty, companionship) and “things we invented” (Easter Bunny, yeti… maybe) that you’re objection fails to account for.

            That we recognize something mentally does not mean we made it up.

            That we desire some things recognized through our mind does not mean we must naturally desire everything we invented, nor does it mean we must likewise desire everything we recognize through our minds, such as taste — there is no internal human desire for spicy foods, for example.

          • Patterrssonn

            By social and mental construct I mean existing only in our minds it’s not very complicated. Happiness exists for example it is not Imaginary but it still only exists within our minds. The same with beauty, it has an objective existence in that the concept is shared, but that is all it is, a concept, in other words a mental construct, constructed by the mind.

            I’ll try to make it simple for you. You claimed that “natural innate desires” have objective real objects. I pointed out that many natural innate desires have objects that exist only in our minds.

            So help me out here Cal, can you rephrase or explain your first proposition in the light of this argument or not.

          • Cal-J

            The only things I refer to that could possibly be considered mental constructs are “friendship” and “beauty”.

            Companionship (extrapolating from the word “friendship”, which is a form of it) is the mutual relationship of two human beings that satisfies the natural human desire for society.

            Beauty is that which pleases when perceived. It is an immaterial principle, true, but that is no argument against it being objective.

            I say that both things are, in and of themselves, objective. They exist beyond us, beyond our minds.

            That we perceive beauty in unique ways does not mean beauty is non-objective, for it does not originate in us. Beauty is not a human response; humans recognize and respond to Beauty. Beauty precedes and inspires both the recognition and the response of joy.

            “By social and mental construct I mean existing only in our minds it’s not very complicated.”

            In my defense, the word “construct” implies that someone put it together, which led me to my idea that you were suggesting “made up” or “imaginary”.

            “I’ll try to make it simple for you. You claimed that “natural innate desires” have objective real objects. I pointed out that many natural innate desires have objects that exist only in our minds.”

            Your argument here assumes that by “objective” and “real” I was referring specifically to material objects. Not so. There are objective abstract principles. I say beauty is one of them.

            I can refresh this argument for you.

            It stands, though now with the footnote that natural, innate human desires can occur for certain abstract principles.

      • Carson Davis

        I feel as though this argument fails at the first premise: “All desires correspond to real objects.” It fails because it can be easily shown that all desires do not correspond to real objects. You can easily desire something that isn’t real. For instance, I could desire to marry a beautiful 5 foot, brown haired, blue eyed girl who loves cooking, reading, having intelligent conversations, and harbors an immense curiosity about the universe. But just because I desire such a girl does not mean she actually exists. She doesn’t have to exist for me to desire her.

        When I was a little kid one of my strongest desires was to have a ring that would give me telekinetic powers. I played make-believe all the time, pretending that I had such a ring. But the fact is that no such ring exists, and such a ring doesn’t have to exist for me to desire it.

        For her 7th birthday my sister wanted a pink unicorn. A real pink unicorn. She got a toy instead, because real pink unicorns don’t exist. Her desire for a pink unicorn did not correspond to a real object, it corresponded to an imaginary object.

        The author of the blog stated, “If I have a desire that cannot be met by the natural universe, this seems to imply that there is something in me unnatural.” This statement could not be further from the truth. Desiring things that you can’t have or that don’t exist is a fundamental part of being human. It is NORMAL. It doesn’t make you unnatural. There is nothing strange about desiring for good thing like happiness to continue for longer than it really does, for eternity. However, believing that desiring something which isn’t real causes that something to be real is childish and immature.

        There comes a point in your life when you have to grow up and realize that not everything you desire is real, and that you will not get everything that you desire. I have to realize that I am never going to have that perfect 5 foot woman, and I need to love the 5 foot 6 one that I do have. I can look back on my childhood fantasies with fondness, but eventually I have to learn be satisfied with the real world, in which telekinesis is nothing but a fantasy.

        This life is short, and there comes a time when you have to grow up and quit mooning over fantasies like eternal happiness. Instead you should live in the real world, and cherish every short moment of real happiness that you get.

        • Rose

          Hear hear! I wanted to be mermaid so bad when I was a child! WHYYYY CRUEL WORLD?! (lol) :)

        • CatholicMinnesotan

          ok, I will try to get to that argument.

          1)All desires have objects, be they fact or fiction

          • NB

            That doesn’t mean anything. Yes, fake things are not real things. That doesn’t mean that people still want fake things. The desire for fake things does not mean that fake things exist in a spiritual sense (Which is the only way I can interpret the original blog post). It just means that people want fake things. Nothing more.

      • Jktaadn

        1) All desires correspond to real objects.

        The arguments against this don’t really hold water for me. The atheist can say:
        “For her 7th birthday my sister wanted a pink unicorn. A real pink unicorn. She got a toy instead, because real pink unicorns don’t exist. Her desire for a pink unicorn did not correspond to a real object, it corresponded to an imaginary object.”
        Okay, fine. What if I said, “I desire a drink that is not wet and can be carried in my pocket that rhymes with orange and is not water based. Oh, no such drink exists? There, thirst does not exist.

        • Deven Kale

          That’s because things such as the pink unicorn are a poor example. The pink unicorn can be viewed as a combination of objects which are real. There is such a thing as pink, there is such a thing as a horse, and that horse can be given a spiral horn to make it a unicorn. Therefore, the desire for a pink unicorn can easily correspond to real objects, even though it doesn’t truly exist as a whole.

          Eternity is completely different. Eternity is irreducible, it cannot be broken down into component parts, or reduced into smaller pieces. On top of that, we can’t truly desire eternity either, because we are completely unable to comprehend it in any realistic way. So even if all desires have real objects to correspond to them, there is no reason to believe that eternity exists as a real object anyway.

          Eternity doesn’t exist, even the universe will eventually die. One day there will be absolutely nothing happening, anywhere, at all. Luckily, that won’t happen for tens of billions of years, which is close enough to eternity to really make no difference.

          • Jktaadn

            We are unable to comprehend eternity, I agree. I cannot even comprehend how my television works, but it still exists. Modern science cannot comprehend a lot of things that certainly exists, like subatomic particles. A book written today on astronomy, for example, will be outdated in five years. How is our ability to comprehend something in anyway connected to weather or not it exists? The human experience is one of longing. Nothing in this world completely satisfies us. I believe that is because we are not created to be satisfied in this world, but in another. There are good things in this world that reflect the Goodness of eternity, but it is never complete. That is my faith, which by definition cannot be proven (otherwise, it wouldn’t be faith). It cannot be dis-proven, either.

          • Deven Kale

            The argument was an attempt to explain why a belief in eternal life could be considered reasonable. Since there is no other reason to believe that eternity could exist, the argument was that all things that we desire have a real object corresponding to them, including eternity. The counter-argument is that we cannot truly understand eternity, and therefore cannot desire it. This means there is no reason to believe that eternity exists even if all our desires have real objects. Subatomic particles and TVs have plenty of evidence supporting them, so believing they exist is much more reasonable.

            I appreciate your honesty in stating that it is your faith that there is an eternal life after this one ends, and that you will believe that even in the face of any evidence against it. It’s just not a position that I am able to take. For me, something has to have some sort of real evidence both supporting a position, and pointing directly towards it. In some ways, this makes my life more difficult than one of faith, because it’s often hard to find that evidence. But I cannot be dishonest with myself and believe something just because I want to. It’s just not in me to do so.

          • Jktaadn

            You lost me in your last paragraph. I absolutely cannot believe in something if there is conclusive evidence against it. I never claimed that my faith was at the expense of evidence, because that would be insane. The Higgs particle, for example, is only recently something that has evidence supporting it. Not too long ago, you would have not believed in it, and you would be wrong, like this dude–> http://www.wimp.com/stephenhawking/
            There are other scientific breakthroughs that we currently await that we cannot even begin to comprehend.

            If you tried to force me to prove my wife is in love with me, I could not do if you were a sophist. Porn stars kiss and have sex, yet they don’t love. College roommates live together and enjoy each other’s company without being in love. You could even use some of the things I do that annoy her as evidence that she does not like me (just this week I have driven her crazy I am sure).

          • Deven Kale

            Stephen Hawking:

            But it is a pity in a way, because the great advances in physics have come from experiments that gave results we didn’t expect. For this reason, I had a bet … that the Higgs particle wouldn’t be found. It seems I have just lost $100.

            In other words, he hoped it was wrong. Not because he didn’t think the evidence would be there (which he basically implies he did believe by saying “we expect”), but because it would lead to something even greater. Also, I didn’t believe the Higgs Boson was a thing (and like Hawking also hoped it wasn’t) until last week either. I still don’t, until those doing the experiments say so definitively. There is still a small amount of testing to be done before they’re absolutely sure.

            About your love statement, there are some things we have to just take peoples word on, or they become useless. Love is one of those things that actually can be tested with fMRI, but forcing your lover to do so would quite likely destroy that love anyway, so it’s just best not to and trust them as long as they don’t contradict it completely. Faith is another of those things.

            As for you believing in things which have evidence against them, well- Eternal life has reams of evidence against it, and absolutely nothing for. I’d say that’s pretty conclusive that it doesn’t actually exist, and yet you believe in it anyway.

          • Jktaadn

            The Stephen Hawking video shows how he was wrong and owed $100 to another scientists as a result. I am not understanding how you are asserting that there is conclusive evidence that eternity does not exist. Your claim that it cannot exist because we cannot comprehend it is certainly not evidence. I cannot comprehend this, either–>”… even the universe will eventually die. One day there will be absolutely nothing happening, anywhere, at all.” What about the scientific law of the conservation of matter? I do not feel totally satisfied by anything in this world, and I can understand that longing. Everyone on earth shares in this longing. I can also understand in the most abstract of ways that there does exist a world where everyone will be completely satisfied.

          • Deven Kale

            The video is him stating he made a bet against it, that doesn’t mean that he believed it was wrong. He even states that he made that bet for the reason that he hoped it was wrong, so that a greater discovery could be made. Hope and belief are two separate things.

            Evidence for a non-existence of eternity: everything dies. People die, dogs die, cats die, rabbits die, deer die, whales die, plants die, everything dies. Nothing lives forever. At some point in the very distant future, matter may still exist (there are reasons to believe it might not, but I don’t fully understand them yet), but it will be so thin that it will only exist as individual atoms. Spread so far apart they will be unable to interact, nothing will be able to happen to these atoms throughout the entirety of existence. That’s what I mean by death of the Universe, so not even that will really exist forever.

          • Jktaadn

            Deven, Stephen Hawking bet the next particle wouldn’t be found. He lost a small sum of money and smiles about it. Our knowledge of science continues to expand and it is awesome. You say the universe will die. For how long will it be dead?

          • Deven Kale

            How long will it be dead? I don’t know. I don’t think anybody does, and if anyone has actual evidence which points to any single answer I really would like to see it.

            The real question you should be asking is this: when the fabric of space gets that stretched out, what will that do to time? My answer to that is: I have no clue.

          • Jktaadn

            So, it seems as though the universe (as well as us) cannot be dead for eternity, because eternity does not exist. Thought I’d end on a light note :) Good chatting with you, man!

          • Deven Kale

            I do not feel totally satisfied by anything in this world, and I can understand that longing. Everyone on earth shares in this longing. I can also understand in the most abstract of ways that there does exist a world where everyone will be completely satisfied.

            First, I’m satisfied quite often by many things in this world. I would have to say that every single natural desire (companionship, hunger, sex, beauty (I’m not even sure I’d call that a desire, but you folk like to), non-material type things) I have has been satisfied by someone or something at some point in my life. The degree of that satisfaction varies from time to time, but it’s still there. The fact that I want that to happen more often is not enough evidence for me to believe that there is a plane/realm where that will happen unendingly. I believe that it is enough evidence for you, even though I can’t understand why, but my understanding isn’t required.

            This conversation with you is starting to veer off-topic though, and since I really only wanted to explore the argument for eternity I think it’s time to end it. So unless you have more to say that’s on topic that hasn’t already been said before, I think we’re done, and I appreciated the conversation. It was somewhat enlightening.

          • Deven Kale

            I know this conversation is over, but I thought you’d be interested to know that there’s been a recent discovery in what I was calling the death of the universe. First, I didn’t know before that it actually had a real name, “The Big Rip,” so if you’d like to know more about the end of the Universe and time itself, you now know what to look for. Second: the new discovery is that somebody has finally calculated a probable time for it to happen, and it’s much sooner than the tens of billions that I said earlier. In fact, it’s only 16.7 billion years from now, which is sooner than anyone would have guessed.

          • NB

            Have you ever had a pet dog that didn’t know when to stop eating? If it had unlimited food, it would just eat and eat and eat until it was sick? Is the dog built for his hunger to be finally satiated in another world? Or is the dog just dumb, and doesn’t know to stop eating? The human experience of longing is just the next step of that.

        • Stephen Brandt

          jktaadn, Carson Davis never argued that the desire does not exist. Your liquid example attempts to refute his argument by saying that because the object doesn’t exist, the desire does not exist. Carson Davis never made that claim. he said not all desires have objects

  • Deven Kale

    So, what I see you saying here is basically this: You don’t see that your desires are going to be met here during your life, but if there’s an afterlife, they probably will then. Because of that, you must believe in that afterlife, because not believing in it seems far too unsatisfying. Therefore, your belief in an afterlife is primarily based on your own selfish need to be satisfied. An I incorrect in this interpretation? Because to me, it seems like a terrible reason to believe something.

    For myself (and I would imagine most other atheists, but I can’t speak for them), how much I would like to believe something has no bearing on whether or not I actually do believe in it, and vice versa. I must look at the evidence that really does exist, and if that evidence shows that what I currently believe is wrong, then I’m willing to go over all the evidence again and change my beliefs accordingly, regardless of how badly I want it. In fact, that’s the entire reason why I’m an atheist at all, nobody’s ever been able to give me evidence which points definitively to any specific God, even though I really do wish there was one (things would be a hell of a lot easier without so much personal/social accountability).

    I don’t mean to play the “No True Scotsman” card here, but you do have a pretty good point. The atheist community in general tends to care quite a bit about the truth of a claim based on it’s evidence. If you’re willing to believe something simply because you really really want it to be true, there are going to be a lot of people who say you’re a bad atheist.

    • Phil L.

      Hi Deven,

      Ultimately, no that is not what is being said. Marc is not a philosophy major as I just found out, (but I know he would be awesome at it if he did study it), so he doesn’t know exactly how to formulate it and it may come out sounding like a “afterlife of the gaps” as you put it. (i.e like “God of the gaps” thinking.)

      That is not what true metaphysical arguments are, metaphysical arguments are much closer to geometrical proofs in that it is all or nothing. Either they are correct and you must accept the conclusion, or you must argue a premise for one reason or another and show it is faulty in that way. (i.e. “afterlife of the gaps” thinking is saying that Marc here is proposing a scientific theory for why these things haven’t been explained by science. That is not what he is ultimately doing.)

      So what we understand about love/goodness, truth, beauty, and being itself is that it is not metaphysically possible for them to be grounded within space-time. They are not physical objects. We can’t say, “Hey look-There is truth itself!” He love, you can’t see love, these are what are known as transcendentals. They transcend space-time. I can recommend some books if you are interested in this more, just let me know.

      As a side note, on the topic of truth, it is actually irrational to be a materialist/naturalist/i.e. believe all that exists is matter and also believe in the theory of evolution. Why is that? It is because evolution is not aimed at truth. The truth value of any statement makes no difference. So for all you know your belief that evolution is true is only to help you better survive even though it is actually false. Truth cannot be grounded in the purely material world, as then everything becomes ultimately mechanistic, no matter how complex.

      A good quick read on this is: “The Last Superstition” by Edward Feser. One of *the best* overviews on these topics I have ever read.

      http://www.amazon.com/The-Last-Superstition-Refutation-Atheism/dp/1587314517

      Take Care,
      Phil

      • Deven Kale

        I re-read his entire post, and I still see the exact same thing, even after your attempted answer. There is no philosophical argument here, which you yourself have shown to be highly unlikely by finding out he’s no philosopher. More likely your understanding of philosophy is projecting more onto the argument than it really deserves by attempting to add philosophy into it where there was almost surely never meant to be any.

        His argument really seems to be: “I want more happiness than what I can get here so I have to believe that when I die, I’m going to go to a place where I can get all that happiness that I want.” What he fails to do is prove that the simple desire for more does not prove that there is more. All he’s shown is that he wants more than he thinks he can realistically get. I still would like an answer from Marc himself as to whether or not I’m understanding the overall thrust of his post though, not an answer from a third party.

        You can see love, at least in small animals (I think it was mice that were studied). Block oxytocin receptors, and they become purely self-interested creatures. Even after giving birth, they have no interest in their own children and care nothing about whether or not they die. Nobody so far is willing to do a similar study in humans that I know of though. What I’m saying is, love seems to be an object. In can be distilled into a liquid and placed into a jar. You can actually look at extract of love, it is not “transcendental.”

        I already responded to truth in another comment.

        Evolution isn’t aimed at anything, and believing that it is implies a misunderstanding of science in general. The theory of evolution is just like any other scientific theory. It’s a collection of hypotheses which have been shown accurate to a high degree of confidence which explains the diversity of life on this planet, and makes predictions based on that evidence. It can also be easily falsified just like any other theory/hypothesis through proper understanding of even it’s most basic tenets. Evolution is a purely materialistic concept, and stating that it’s not is illogical.

        • Phil L.

          Hi Deven,

          1) “I re-read his entire post, and I still see the exact same thing, even after your attempted answer. There is no philosophical argument here, which you yourself have shown to be highly unlikely by finding out he’s no philosopher. More likely your understanding of philosophy is projecting more onto the argument than it really deserves by attempting to add philosophy into it where there was almost surely never meant to be any.”

          I agree 100% that Marc’s article is not meant to be a hardcore (or softcore for that matter;) philosophical or metaphysical argument. It has been myself personally that has been trying to further it in my comments and turning the truths that are in Marc’s article above to look at them from a philosophical/metaphysical POV.

          What I noticed when I read his article was that: Marc has stumbled upon the transcendentals that we know very well from metaphysical inquiry. The truths that Marc has come upon are for sure metaphysically grounded. That’s when I took it and was responding to hopefully kind of “beef up” what Marc was saying.

          ——

          2) “You can see love, at least in small animals (I think it was mice that were studied).

          So oxytocin = love? Definitely would be an eliminative materialist philosophical point of view.

          ——-

          3) “Block oxytocin receptors, and they become purely self-interested creatures. Even after giving birth, they have no interest in their own children and care nothing about whether or not they die. Nobody so far is willing to do a similar study in humans that I know of though.”

          Ahh, you have stumbled across a great philosophical distinction that non-human animals can’t truly love. (In the agape sense) Why, because love is a choice of the will, animals act out of instinct and sense memory. (Which of course ties to the physical presence of chemicals and such as you mention.)

          We as humans have ties to the rest of the animal kingdom, as evolution supports. So it is no surprise that oxytocin shows up in the human person, but guess what; because of the intellect and will of the human person we can choose to act upon that feeling of oxytocin. Meaning even if there is no feeling of love or if there could be no oxytocin flowing, a person could still choose to love another.

          A example would be, think of a woman who actually despises homeless people think they are no good rotten rats. She is walking along the sidewalk in NYC and sees a homeless person. There is surely no oxytocin flowing, she may even feel hate and resentment, or feel nothing different at all from the second before she saw him. But she sees that this man is hungry and with no feeling whatsoever, decides to give him her lunch. That is an act of love of the will and self-sacrifice.

          There are other examples with a husband and a wife, because eventually those nice fuzzy feelings will disappear! If you are married you will probably know what I mean! But guess what, the husband and wife still *choose* to love each other. Doesn’t have to do anything directly with oxytocin levels.

          4) “What I’m saying is, love seems to be an object. In can be distilled into a liquid and placed into a jar. You can actually look at extract of love, it is not “transcendental.”

          The answer to this flows directly from what has been said above, oxytocin does not equal love (agape).

          Are you married? If so, under what you are proposing, you only love your wife when the oxytocin is flowing, well you better make sure that when your wife says she loves you or you tell her you love her that the oxytocin is flowing, or she is lying to you. (Or you are lying to her.)

          —-

          5) “Evolution isn’t aimed at anything, and believing that it is implies a misunderstanding of science in general.”

          Ding ding ding, so how do you know that your belief in evolution is true? Evolution isn’t aimed at anything, even truth. What you have done is undermined evolution itself, if you take a materialist approach. If you are not a materialist, you are in the clear and can still rationally believe in evolution.

          (For that matter how can one believe in the truths of science in the first place, if our truths simply developed out of a mindless process like evolution?

          Or how do you even know you are not a brain in a vat and this is all just in your mind? That’s where one needs philosophy to know if there even is a world out there for science to study.)

          6) “Evolution is a purely materialistic concept.”

          Exactly, and that’s why the argument is so damning to materialism. Because it shows that it is irrational to be a materialist and also believe in evolution, since how can one come to know the *true* truth value of any statement that comes about from a mindless process?

          There is absolutely no contradiction or problem between Catholicism and the theory of evolution. The Church readily accepts the truth of evolution.

          Actually all these arguments people put forth between religion and science are really misdirected. They are not actually arguing between those 2 things, they are actually arguing 2 different metaphysical views of reality. So it is good for people to become aware and do some studying of metaphysics and I think many misconceptions would fall away, save the ones that are emotionally driven rather than intellectually, driven. But whatcha gonna do. ;)

          Take Care,
          Phil

          PS – Another good book that would sure up some ideas on the mind would be “Philosophy of Mind” – Edward Feser Great intro book, and look at both the pros and cons to a materialistic, dualistic, and hylomorphic view of the mind.

          • Deven Kale

            1) I’m really not interested in a philosophical discussion, because I’m not educated on philosophy to any degree whatsoever. I thought I already said that.

            3) I said that Love is a conditioned response based on oxytocin (if not in this comment line, then it was another on this post, I forget specifically where), much like an addiction. We’re conditioned by oxytocin to expect that a certain action gives positive “feel good” results. Once the oxytocin stops flowing completely, there’s a good chance the behavior has become habitual, again similar to an addiction. Acting on those behaviors may bring on the memory of that feeling, which isn’t as effective but still effective (but this is just conjecture). Pavlovs dogs are a good example of this, where they were accidentally conditioned to salivate at the ringing of a bell. As you said, humans are able to override this conditioning with concerted effort, but that doesn’t mean we are immune to it’s effects.

            5) I like Thunderf00ts answer to this problem, that we have to work on a few fundamental assumptions in order to have anything make sense at all. 1) That the universe exists. 2) That we can learn something from it. 3) Models with predictive capability are better than those without.

            The more levels you need to add to that, the less likely you are to get an accurate result. This is about the only philosophy I know, and I’m happy with that for the time being.

            Otherwise, in trying to have a philosophical discussion with me, you’re wasting your time. Even if I were to willingly enter into one with you, I would lose. For you, it would be a hollow victory. It would be like an average teenager getting into an argument with a three year old. All you’ve done is confuse the kid and make yourself feel good, but anybody watching would be laughing at both of them.

            As for your statements about about evolution and materialism: I don’t know how a mindless process can cause us, and I’m happy with that too. Eventually, some scientist will figure out how we evolved these traits and characteristics from a materialist perspective, and I will find them. I may agree with them, or I may not, but I’ll find that out when I get there.

            You can give me a list of those books if you’d like, but I think our conversation is done. Like I said, I don’t have much desire for a discussion on topics that I have almost no knowledge of.

          • Phil L.

            Hi Deven,

            1) You have been doing philosophy since the beginning, whether you knew it or not :)

            3) On Love: A deeper understanding of philosophy would help so we won’t dwell on this topic since I know you want to try and stay away from the deeper philosophical topics and implications.

            5) Thunderf00ts has made a metaphysical claim then with the 3 points you just said. i.e. He can’t back up what he just said with simply science, science presupposes that there is a world to actually study.

            He is now doing metaphysics. So his point number one agrees with my metaphysics of being, which takes as first principle that being is the ultimate starting point.

            The question then becomes how do we get in contact with this outside world. Now we get into philosophy of mind. His second point already assumes this, but he can’t assume another point as he already took as his first principle that being exists. (i.e. there is an actual outside physical world.) So now he must delve into philosophy of mind to figure out how we are actually in contact with the world, since how do we know what our senses are actually telling us are correct. They may seem correct but do we really have direct knowledge of the outside world, since our senses seem like a mediator between our mind and the outside world.

            As I said you have been doing philosophy all along. Come along for the ride! Just make sure you are doing good philosophy!

            6) “Eventually, some scientist will figure out how we evolved these traits and characteristics from a materialist perspective, and I will find them. I may agree with them, or I may not, but I’ll find that out when I get there.”

            Science of the gaps! Sorry had to throw that in. ;)
            —–

            No I completely understand, and honestly this isn’t about winning or losing, this is about getting closer to ultimate truth. We should all be searching for ultimate truth and so that is what every discussion like this should be aimed at, not at winning or losing.

            **Book List**

            I usually don’t suggest books from the same author for stuff like this but Edward Feser does such a good job at making it accessible for those that don’t want to dive in to deep, but yet he gets his point across.

            1st Read: Start with a good overview to the structure of reality:

            “The Last Superstition” Edward Feser

            http://www.amazon.com/The-Last-Superstition-Refutation-Atheism/dp/1587314517

            (Don’t let the title frighten you, he goes through the metaphysics of the ancients through the modern materialistic philosophies and looks at what works and what doesn’t.)

            2nd Read: Dive into the Mind:

            “Philosophy of Mind” Edward Feser

            http://www.amazon.com/Philosophy-Mind-A-Beginners-Guide/dp/1851684786/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1341173103&sr=8-1&keywords=philosophy+of+mind+feser

            Good Luck and Take Care!
            Phil

          • c matt

            As you said, humans are able to override this conditioning with concerted effort, but that doesn’t mean we are immune to it’s effects.

            well right there you just admitted to the existence of the non-material. Concerted effort means nothing more than the “will” – the “will” is not a material thing, but a metaphysical reality, and in fact, as you admit, works against material things (such as oxytocin and its effects).

          • Deven Kale

            I admitted to nothing, you interpreted it as such due to your own presuppositions. Humans are able to override our instincts and other conditioning, I don’t know why that is. I don’t know if anybody knows why that is. I really doubt that you yourself actually know why that is, except to say that a god designed us that way, which doesn’t even really answer the question, and actually raises many more. I say that, if anything, the will is just what we call a humans somewhat unique* ability to reason, for which we are still trying to determine the cause.

            You’re making two mistakes here, one is called the “god of the gaps.” Where a god is given credit/blame for something simply because we don’t know what actually does cause it. The other is called an argument from ignorance, which is pretty self-explanatory. Come to think of it, the “god of the gaps” might just be nothing more than an argument from ignorance, so it could only be one mistake.

            *Other apes have social orders and behaviors very similar to ours, most mammals will override their fear instincts to protect their young, and elephants will even mourn their dead. This is circumstantial evidence that our ability to override instinct, or to reason, may not be as unique as we like to think.

    • JAGreene86

      Just real quick…you said “nobody’s ever been able to give me evidence which points definitively to any specific God, even though I really do wish there was one”. I just want to dive into that:

      1. There is no “hard” evidence to prove against the existence of God either. There is no “hard” evidence to prove for or against the existence of God, therefore, believe that there is a God or that there is no God is based on faith…yes, I said it, based on faith. Atheist believe that there is no God and try to find hard evidence to support it (which there is none), while Christians believe there is a God and try to find hard evidence to support it (which, again, there isn’t). Both the Atheist and Christian can make up “circumstantial” arguments to help support their belief, but it is a belief nonetheless. So, the fact that you are an Atheist indicates to me that you choose to be an Atheist…which leads to my next point.

      2. The reason why you can’t find “God” is because, as indicated from point one, is that you’ve already chosen to believe that there is no God, and since you already have that belief, why look for something that you don’t believe exists in the first place? Also, since Atheism and Christianity are based on faith, it is only when the faith changes can the perspective change. Here’s an example:

      You and I are looking at the same tree. I ask you want you see…and you say “I see a tree”. You ask me the same question, and I say “I see God”. You then ask me “how do you see God? It’s just a tree!” and I say “I see God, because He created the tree, and He makes His mark on all of His creation, therefore, I see God because I see the tree”. Now, before you start walking off and start judging me as a lunatic, you ask the question “If I were a Christian, how would I see the tree?” because depending on what we believe, depends on what we see. Seeing is not believing, believing is seeing.

      I see God, because I choose to see Him. I see Him in my life, I see Him in the lives of the people around me, I see Him in the animals, the plants, the weather…I see Him in science, philosophy, psychology, mathematics, geography, astronomy…everything. The Atheist sees none of those. Physically and mentally, I see the same thing as the Atheist…but because I am a Christian, I see more than what the Atheist sees…and the Atheist cannot see it, because they choose not to see it.

      Also, the fact that you “need hard evidence to believe in God” does not make you suitable to see God. In order to see God, we must first have faith in God. Yes, it seems like a contradiction, but that is exactly what God wants us to do. He wants us to see for ourselves the courage that He build in our hearts to believe, *despite* not having any hard evidence. If God wanted to make Himself known through hard evidence, He would, undoubtedly…but the reason is because that would eliminate the factor of faith, and also eliminate the factor of love. Because it’s easy to love something that we see and know and are comfortable with. Love is not measured by feeling, it’s measured by our trust, and we cannot fully love what we do not trust.

      I hope you don’t take offense to this, but there is a great lack of faith within you…and that is why you are unable to find God. If you wanted to find God, you would have by now…but the fact that you haven’t, makes me doubt your words…but your intentions can always change, and that is the beauty of free will. Who you are doesn’t have to dictate who you’re ultimately going to be…

      …so be the person that you were created to be…

      …which requires two things: Discover who (or what) created you…and why.

      There, all other secrets of life will be revealed through time and faith.

      • Deven Kale

        You have a fundamental misunderstanding of what atheism is. Atheism is simply the lack of acceptance of a god claim, that’s all. There is no faith involved in denying the claims of someone else. My favorite example is the dragon I let use my garage. You can’t see, hear, touch, taste, or smell him. In fact, you can’t detect him in any way whatsoever, but I guarantee you he’s there. What reason do you have to believe me? By that same token, you claim that an undetectable god created that tree. What reason do I have to believe you, even if I really wanted to?

        What I’m really saying is, I would love for there to be a god out there. I really would, it would make things much easier. But which ones really exist, and which one’s are just completely made up? If I ask a Christian, I get a completely different answer than I would get from a Muslim, or from a Mormon, or from a polytheist. Which one is right? What objective standard of evidence can I use to determine which gods really do exist, if any? And even worse, how could I trust that the person giving me this standard isn’t suffering from a confirmation bias themselves?

        If anything, atheism is the exact opposite of faith, it’s being too intent on making sure that one actually has the evidence for something before they commit themselves to it fully. Faith is committing yourself to something in the hopes that you’ll find the evidence for it in time.

        • Matt

          Please go tell The Friendly Athiest that he’s doing it wrong, then. He does nothing but post about as many anti-religion things as he can find.

          • Deven Kale

            There’s no right or wrong way to be an atheist. Like I said, atheism is not accepting (or even outright rejecting) god claims. Primarily since none of them have any real evidenciary support, but different people have different reasons. So no, he’s not doing it wrong, he’s just doing it differently than you or I would.

          • JAGreene86

            True, because the Atheist doesn’t believe in a Universal right and wrong…so, technically, there is no “right or wrong” way to be an Atheist…because, in a sense, in their own perspective, everyone’s an Atheist…they just don’t know it yet.

          • Deven Kale

            If by right and wrong, you mean morally right or wrong; then, well, you’re wrong. Atheists generally believe in morality just like you do, they just don’t agree with you on where we get it from. The reason there’s no right way to be an atheist is because atheism has no dogma, no tenets, no basic beliefs to follow in order to be a “true atheist.” Atheism is just a rejection of god claims, that’s all. Any thing an atheist actually does do is something else altogether.

            Also, I don’t think everybody is an atheist, and I don’t know any atheist that does. Then again, I could be wrong. Christians, on the other hand, are guilty of claiming that everybody really believes the same as them, but just don’t know it yet. Says so right there in the Bible, just ask Eric Hovind.

          • Vision_From_Afar

            Most of his posts are about curbing the excesses of (certain) religion(s), which often feels anti-religious to those whose excesses are being curbed.

          • Korou

            Because he believes that the people who think there is a God are guided by their beliefs to do bad things.
            That doesn’t have anything to do with whether or not there really is a God or not.

          • JAGreene86

            People can “claim” that they’re doing something in the name of God, but as we have learned from history, not everyone who associates themselves as a “Christian” act in a Christian manner. It saddens me how people use “God” to justify their own selfish ambitions, in which I believe God is in tears from what they’re doing.

            God will not save those who reject Him, either with their mouth or with their actions. For those who repent, He will always show everlasting Mercy to them.

            God is all about love…anything that is not done in love is not an action from “God”. As the classic hymn goes:

            “They’ll know we are Christians by our love”.

            Measure someone’s association with God by how they love, not just what they say.

          • Korou

            That is one interpretatioj of being a Christian, but it is not the only one. If people say that they are Christians, we take them at their word; since God doesn’t exist, it doesn’t matter whether they are right or not. What matters is that they think they are right, call themselves Christian, and commit harm to society.
            Furthermore, plenty of Christians say (and presumably believe) they are loving while doing terrible things.

        • JAGreene86

          Quite simply: The only objective reality is individual existence. I know, objectively, that I exist. Everything else, as the claim can be, is subjective. The claim that something exists, or that nothing exists, both fall into the lens of subjectivity (hence why Relativism is so popular)…but with that logic, my existence in your life is subjective. You have no objective way to prove my existence. MY objective truth is YOUR subjective perspective…so there is NEVER any way, for sure, to know if someone is telling the truth or not, because all information is seen through a subjective lens, even if it is an objective truth. This is what distorts philosophy and science…the fact that EVERYTHING can be doubted, except for one’s own existence.

          So, based on your logic, when completed, leads to doubting everything. The only thing that we cannot truly doubt is our own existence. However, if nothing is real, what is real? Does reality even exist? Does Truth even exist? Then we start meshing the black and white and make it all grey, or all white or all black.

          Also, how does your subjective perception override what is my objective truth? If I know myself to exist, but you doubt my existence, would you be wrong or right? This is what I mean:

          Failure to “find evidence” for God does not mean He does not exist. This is why I say Atheist have faith, because they *believe* that there is no deity. A failure of evidence does not conclude a trial case…but only continues it.

          I think you’re confusing Atheism with Agnosticism. Agnosticism are people who know they don’t know (whether they’ve continued to search or not doesn’t matter in the definition). That more accurately defines your mentality, not Atheism. Atheism will believe, die-hardedly, that there is no deity what-so-ever, whereas you are unsure.

          And, I agree, there are many different perceptions of God…but that is why it is important understand, first of all, what the word “God” means in a philosophical argument. Next, we see what’s around us that fits that “definition of God”, and that’s how we can figure out who is telling the Truth and who is full of BS.

          …and I think the concept of “believing is seeing” is beyond your comprehension, and for that, I apologize. Just how you find it difficult to understand how people can see God in the world around them, I find it similarly difficult to how people can NOT see God in the world around them. I live in the same world as everyone else, and yet I see something different that other people don’t see…and not because I’m “making it up”, but because I choose to see beyond what the human eye cannot see, and that requires me to have trust in what I see…for without that, I cannot see what is truly there.

          I have a simple mind, believe it or not. The world has complicated it…but, nonetheless, I have so much of an appreciation for simplicity. Without this simplicity, I am lost in this world more than any one before and after me…but since I see something that is so simple, but yet so profound, this is which I solidify my life to…for all came from One…the One who calls Himself “I AM”.

          …that is as simple as you can get.

          • Deven Kale

            Now you’re taking objective and subjective to a level which renders both terms effectively meaningless, so I’m not even going to go there.

            Doubting everything without having good evidence for it helps us lead to more accurate beliefs, based on the actual evidence for something rather than our own subjective desires and biases. In fact, that’s exactly why the scientific method was created, to try and minimize the effects of personal bias and subjective interpretation of data. By following the rules of evidence provided for in the scientific method, which has doubt as one of it’s foundational precepts, we’ve been able to arrive at the point we are today where people can live over 100 years and 1% of the population produces the food for the other 99%.

            I’m also not confusing atheism with agnosticism. Atheism deals with belief, while agnosticism deals with knowledge. The religious definition that I fall into would be one of the agnostic atheist. This means that I do not believe there are any gods (atheist), but I’m still willing to admit to the possibility that they may actually exist and I simply haven’t seen the evidence to convince me yet (agnostic).

            Oh no, I do understand the concept of believing is seeing. I simply do not agree with it. I was once a Mormon, back when I was a little kid, and I saw their god all over the place as well. Then I started to realize that their god made no sense, and when I looked at the other versions of gods, even Biblically based ones, they didn’t make any sense either. That’s when I switched from “believing is seeing” to “seeing is believing.” So, in a sense, you could say it was “God Himself” that drove me away from “Him.”

          • Korou

            I love it! Lower the standards of proof so that nothing can be proved, and you have succeeded in proving that anything can exist.

            JAGreene, you can’t expect anyone to take this seriously. In essence, all you’re doing is saying “I believe because I believe.”

            Sorry, this isn’t a discussion worth having.

            By the way, I think you ought to check on what an “agnostic atheist” is. Which is what most of us are.

      • Vision_From_Afar

        “You and I are looking at the same tree. I ask you want you see…and you say “I see a tree”. You ask me the same question, and I say “I see God”. You then ask me “how do you see God? It’s just a tree!” and I say “I see God, because He created the tree, and He makes His mark on all of His creation, therefore, I see God because I see the tree”. Now, before you start walking off and start judging me as a lunatic, you ask the question “If I were a Christian, how would I see the tree?” because depending on what we believe, depends on what we see. Seeing is not believing, believing is seeing.”

        So if I instead said to you, “I see the spirit of the tree, and the earth spirits who help nurture her gathered around the tree.” What would you say?

        • JAGreene86

          I would say that sprit is God…we just have a different word to describe the same thing.

          • Korou

            And supposing Vision_From_Afar then said that the earth spirits were now telling us that they didn’t want us to cut down trees any more? Would you see and hear the same?

      • Korou

        JA Greene, thank you for putting it as clearly as this:

        “There is no “hard” evidence to prove for or against the existence of God, therefore, believe that there is a God or that there is no God is based on faith…yes, I said it, based on faith.”

        You seem to have some misconceptions about what an atheist is.

        If there is no hard evidence to believe in something, then you shouldn’t believe in it. Because you could be wrong. It’s best to withhold judgement until you do have some hard evidence.

        Atheists do not have the problem you have because we do not have to prove that there is no God. We only have to see if you have any evidence for your claims that their is; which, by your own admission, you do not.

        Seriously: you see the position you put us in here? What else can we do, except to refrain from believing in God? How is it possible for us to believe in Him when there is no hard evidence that he exists?

        I hope that has cleared it up for you.

        • JAGreene86

          This is not clear to me.

          I was saying there is no “hard” evidence either way…so to say to *not* make a decision until you know for sure, then I’ll say “you’ll never make a decision then”, because there is no “hard” evidence either way.

          The absence of evidence is not to say that a person is guilty or innocent…you would need evidence to prove that he is either guilty or innocent…and the person would continue to be on trial until there is evidence to convince the judge and the jury one way or another.

          What bothers me is when Atheist say “prove that God exists”, because I can say the same thing to them and say “prove to me that God doesn’t exist”. We’d come to a standstill…a stalemate. The Atheist does not have hard evidence against my beliefs, and I don’t have any hard evidence against his.

          As I said earlier, the *only* thing we can know for sure is our own existence. However, if I know I exist, but you doubt that I exist, are you wrong or right? In your mind, you can convince yourself that I don’t exist, because you see me in a subjective reality, therefore, whether you believe me to exist or not, is right either way…according to you. However, as I asked before…why does your subjective opinion override my objective truth?

          What if you never met me though. Would I still exist, even if you never met me, never saw any trace or me, or heard of me, or saw no effect of me? In your mind, you would not think about me existing, but nonetheless, I would exist outside of your own subjective perspective.

          This is what I’m getting at: God either exists, or He doesn’t. If God does exist, than His existence is an objective Truth, just like our own existence is an objective Truth. If this is true, then I would be wrong in saying that God doesn’t exist. This “truth” can go outside of our own subjective perspective of God. Just because our “subjective perspective” would indicate that there is no God, that subjective perspective wouldn’t make it true, but because it is true BEFORE existence is what makes it true.

          See, since the beginning of the Universe, there are only three possible scenarios as far as a deity:

          1. There is no God
          2. There is one God
          3. There are more than one God

          Only one of these scenarios is true…no more, no less. Also, whichever of these scenarios is true, has been true since the beginning of time, and it will forever remain true until the end of time. Nothing can change it…nothing we see, feel, taste, touch, think, perceive…nothing we do can change it.

          So, in order to be “correct”, one must believe one of these three scenarios…but, like I said, only one of these are correct. If I were to believe that there is no God, but there is, in fact, a God, then I would be wrong. If I were to believe that there is a God, but, in fact, there is no God, then I would be wrong. Since no one knows with 100% certainty which scenario it is, “choosing” any scenario is an act of faith (and a desire to want it to be true as well).

          Really, the main difference between Atheist and Christians is not a matter of faith, but in what we put that faith in.

          …if this is different than the actual “definition” of Atheism, then I would say Atheist themselves haven’t put much thought into what they actually “believe”…

          …for there is no other scenario in which the idea of Atheism can be better defined…at least not in philosophy.

          • Deven Kale

            See, since the beginning of the Universe, there are only three possible scenarios as far as a deity:

            1. There is no God
            2. There is one God
            3. There are more than one God

            Only one of these scenarios is true…no more, no less. Also, whichever of these scenarios is true, has been true since the beginning of time, and it will forever remain true until the end of time. Nothing can change it…nothing we see, feel, taste, touch, think, perceive…nothing we do can change it.

            I believe this to be the key point in your comment, so I’ll focus on it above all the other stuff.

            Of these three options, number 1) cannot be proven true, since a negative cannot be directly proven, therefore the only way to prove it is to rule out options 2 and 3. Option 2 is undefined and therefore leaves some ambiguity. Option 3 has so many possible permutations that attempting to quantify who and what those gods are is nigh impossible, but luckily should only be considered if option 2 is shown to be true first.

            So we should start off with option 2, first we must determine what this god does, has done, or will do. Did they create the universe? One way of looking at the evidence is to say that yes, the only possible explanation is that something outside of this universe created it, perhaps that thing is what we call a god, but perhaps not. We still need more evidence on that.

            So whether it was a God that created the universe can’t be proven with current evidence, alright then. What about the universe that we actually do have, does this god somehow interact with it? If not, then where did this idea of a god come from in the first place? Most likely, man made it up, which not only rules out number 2, but also number 3, leaving us with number 1 as the only option.

            If this god actually does interact with the universe, then how? Through what mechanism? If there is any interaction between this god and the universe, there would be some way of measuring it. Some way of determining where they’ve put their hand in to stop the gears and intervene in some way, even temporarily. So far, we’ve not been able to do this. There is no mechanism of divine intervention that we’ve found, and the only time something happens which cannot be attributed to random chance is when man intervenes. Which again rules out both options 2 and 3, leaving only option 1.

            So until such point as there is verifiable objective evidence of true godly interventions or universal creation, then options 2 and 3 must be assumed false, since they both require positive evidence for them to be true. Option 1 is the fallback (or default) position which is the one that should be believed until one of the others has actual evidenciary support, no matter how badly a person may want options 2 or 3 to be true.

          • Korou

            JA Greene, can I suggest that you read a bit more about atheism – say, Dawkins’ The God Delusion. You don’t have to agree with it, but at the very least it would set you straight about what atheists actually think the word “atheist” means. Right now, you don’t seem to know, and it creates unnecessary and time-consuming complications.

    • c matt

      “nobody’s ever been able to give me evidence which points definitively to any specific God, even though I really do wish there was one (things would be a hell of a lot easier without so much personal/social accountability).”

      Am I correct your position is that one is less personally accountable under theism than atheism? How so? If there is no God, and therefore no “final judgment,” there would be no reason to be accountable at all – the only rule to live by would be “do as you please, just don’t get caught.” What logical basis would there be for personal accountability? Or am I reading your statement incorrectly?

      • Deven Kale

        Yes, you’re reading my statement wrong. Just because I don’t believe in a god doesn’t mean I don’t believe or follow a moral code. The only difference is, I don’t claim to know where morality comes from, whereas you believe that you do. I would know if I did something wrong, and I would feel guilty for doing so. I would not be able to say “my god will forgive me, because I’m doing this for him” or something along those lines. Christians are able to convince themselves that evil is good (such as persecuting homosexuals) by believing it’s the will of their god, but I don’t have that luxury. I have to analyze myself and my motivations on a regular basis to make sure that my actions and beliefs coincide with my moral code. To me, not having a god to fall back on seems far more difficult, because all that leaves one with is personal accountability.

        I can’t help but notice the implication in your question though. Do you mean to say that, should you stop believing in a god, that you would suddenly become a narcissist/egotist and do only things which you won’t get in trouble for, regardless of the consequences to others? Is the reason you believe in a god to keep yourself from acting this way? Your question would imply that you probably would, and I hope that I’m wrong on that. I think there’s something more to it, something not related to your belief in a god that keeps you from acting that way, and you’re just afraid of admitting it.

  • Brandon Dorris

    What if, rather, these desires you feel are unnatural? Just curious, what do you suppose the rational conclusion of that line of thought would be?

    I love these posts about Christianity vs. Atheism. Occasionally I find it hard to express my objections to Atheism, so it’s good to find someone more eloquent than me :)

    • Phil L.

      Well, if one finds the desire for truth, love/goodness, and beauty irrational I’d love to hear arguments. (Especially the truth one! For some reason I don’t think that arguing that truth is irrational would go very far before arguing in a circle ;)

      Take Care,
      Phil

      • Deven Kale

        I don’t think anybody would argue any of those things irrational, although your wording of them is interesting. What you call the desire for truth is actually what I would call a desire for understanding. Humans have developed a natural desire to understand things. Why that is, I don’t know, I’m not a scientist of any stripe. By studying something, we come to understand it better, fulfilling that desire. The more we understanding it, the more likely we can say that the conclusion we’ve come to are “true,” or more specifically unlikely to be “false.” The motivation itself though is not whether it’s true, but just to understand it more at all.

        The desire for love is a conditioned reaction within the brain to oxytocin. Having more of this hormone brings good feelings, so we condition ourselves to do things which increase those levels. Sex is one option, but even something as simple as petting an animal releases it as well. If anything, the desire for love is a physical addiction to oxytocin, although few people would argue it’s an addiction in the standard negative sense because it generally increases social cohesion with few negative side effects.

        As to beauty, that’s a philosophical point that I’m not even going to touch on. Philosophy isn’t really my thing.

        • Phil L.

          Hi Deven,

          It seems fitting to just respond to one statement at a time to keep it organized: (Just be aware this whole discussion is philosophical minded, even the original post, so whether you like it or not you have dove in. It’s up to you if you want to stay ;)

          1) “What you call the desire for truth is actually what I would call a desire for understanding.”

          Exactly, they are same-same. Our desire for understanding and truth is aimed at the intelligibility that the universe and the intelligibility that all of reality is screaming at us. There is some objective truth and intelligible reality that we as rational creatures desire to understand. (There is actually a great metaphysical proof for the existence of God tied to this, but that’s for another discussion ;)

          And to further what you said in that first point, we then must ask what grounds this desire? It surely can’t be evolution. Evolution is aimed at survival not at the truth value of any single statement. It could be very well that every single thing we think is true is actually false or vice-versa. Or your very belief in evolution is false, but you believe it is true because it helps you survive. You *think* you are understanding things about the world, but in reality you are only learning things that helps you survive that you think are true. In other words, it is not rational to believe in evolution and also believe that matter is all that exists in all of reality.

          -Aside: (This can also go the direction of how can we actually know something that would bring up the famous “mind-body problem” that is really only a modern problem but was never and still isn’t a problem for ancients and medievalist philosophers in the Aristotalian school of thought.
          Also can think about how can we actually know something if we are simply a physical being, and those are simply physical objects. Light reflects of an object towards our eyes. Turned into neurological signals which then go where. Is there some magic movie screen in our head, with a little man? Or is there an actual tree in our mind when we are looking at a tree. Neurons are just physical signals, they can’t represent anything at all. Just like the ones and zeros of digital code don’t mean anything unless interpreted by a person. But that leads to a circular fallacy.)
          -Aside over-

          2) On your thought on love:

          I think you have a slight misconception of love/goodness. Love is not purely a feeling. That type of love is known as eros. We are speaking of agape. The self-sacrificing love, the desire and the will to will the good of the other, as other, with no selfish underlying motives.

          That is why love (agape) transcends the pure physical effects of oxytocin. True agape also has no selfish desire when willing the good of the other. We choose to love the other as a choice of the will no matter what we feel like, or if the oxytocin is flowing or not!

          All of these are in the philosophical realm of discussion, not just beauty. They all transcend the purely physical, and a philosophical background would help to see where this all leads, so it is up to you if you want to get on that horse and start doing some studying! (Realize I understand actually studying philosophy is not for everyone, but figured I’d send out the invite since philosophy and metaphysics applies to everything you will ever come across with in life.)

          Take Care,
          Phil

          • Korou

            Phil, in response to your saying:

            “It surely can’t be evolution. Evolution is aimed at survival not at the truth value of any single statement. It could be very well that every single thing we think is true is actually false or vice-versa. Or your very belief in evolution is false, but you believe it is true because it helps you survive. You *think* you are understanding things about the world, but in reality you are only learning things that helps you survive that you think are true. In other words, it is not rational to believe in evolution and also believe that matter is all that exists in all of reality.”

            I can see it now…an ape-like creature wandering around the forest. It sees some bananas in front of it. “Hmmm,” it thinks. “Those look like bananas; but who can tell? They might in fact be pebbles, or a hungry tiger. After all, all they are is information relayed by my senses, and who knows what tricks they could play?”

            This, Phil, is what you are saying happened when you say that evolution does not select for a realistic understanding of the world.
            You’re right, evolution is aimed at survival. How long do you think an organism would survive if it perceived the world inaccurately? What makes you think that deluding yourself or receiving illusory sensory input would make you more likely to survive?

            So yes; it surely can be evolution, and is. If you’re going to try to prove that misperceiving the world is a benefit to survival you’re going to have your work cut out for you.

            Put quite simply: an accurate assessment of the worldand an ability to respond to what is a survival advantage. That works whether you’re a human, a primate, a vertebrate or an amoeba.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Doc-Kimble/100001742531811 Doc Kimble

    God is Love.
    Godly love limits choice; Godly choices expand happiness.
    We want to be happy; God wants us to be happy.
    Love God, and then do what you will.

    • musiciangirl591

      i wrote a 30 minute talk about God being Love, its the truth :)

    • Bob M.

      The Bible is clear “God is love.” However, there is nowhere in the Bible that says God wants us to be happy. God wants us to obey, love, trust, etc. If we do these things we will experience a peace that transcends understanding and we will demonstrate spiritual fruit, which includes joy (which is not circumstantial like happiness is).

  • Erin C

    Marc, I am always amazed at your posts! Also, I’m totally in for the 1flesh revolution!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Maine-Skeptic/100003717759495 Maine Skeptic

    “If I have a desire that cannot be met by the natural universe, this seems to imply that there is something in me that yearns something outside of the natural universe.”

    I think you’ve made a very heartfelt and reasonable post, and I say that as an atheistic skeptic. I think you’ve summed up the only argument in favor of Christianity that really counts, and I suspect its the argument that actually wins over most believers of all stripes. Can we really be consciously alive and not be supernaturally alive? Aren’t we better off believing in *something* supernatural, no matter what it is, just in case there is an afterlife? The overwhelming majority say “no” to the first question and “yes” to the second.

    I can understand that, because that same line of reasoning made sense to me for a long time.

    What I found in the long run, though, was that Pascal’s Wager only makes sense if your highest priority is avoiding the possibility of hell and/or death. Giving up vices and adhering to certain rules is a small price to pay for nullifying the fear of death, but if we really are finite beings who end abruptly at death, does that really make life meaningless? If this life is all we have, are you really saying that it isn’t worth living?

  • Korou

    On reading the post, it seems that you’re basically saying that you would be unhappy if something were not true, so you have chosen to believe that it is true.
    That doesn’t seem to be a very reasonable position to take.

    • Korou

      :) As I now see quite a few people have already pointed out, after reading through the comments.

  • Murph

    “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for these desires exists. A baby feels hunger; well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim; well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire; well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Chapter 10: Hope

    Nailed it brother, totally nailed it.
    Dead for almost 50 years, and still takin’ us to school.

  • Murph

    “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for these desires exists. A baby feels hunger; well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim; well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire; well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Chapter 10: Hope

    Nailed it brother, totally nailed it.
    Dead for almost 50 years, and still takin’ us to school.

    • Korou

      Nailed it? More like hit his thumb with the hammer.

      C.S. Lewis got plenty of things wrong or mixed up, and very often these were covered over with his personable and readable style, especially by using misleading analogies. His arguments really weren’t very good ones, but work very well to reassure Christians who want to believe that their beliefs are reasonable.

      As in this case. If you believe what he says, then you have to believe that we are incapable of imagining something we want unless it exists. Which of course we are capable of. Maybe we can’t imagine things that are completely alien to us, like what it would be like to see or hear at a different range than we do, but we can certainly imagine things that are based on what we know, like more happiness.

      There’s nothing wrong or unnatural about being in an unsatisfied state, it’s the natural by-product of having physical and emotional needs.

      So the answer to C.S. Lewis is exactly the same as the answer to Marc. Wishing doesn’t make it so; and just because you’re unhappy about something the Universe has no obligation to do anything about it.

      • JK_Nation

        It’s very hard to take you seriously when your first two sentences are just one childish, immature insult. You look less like somebody who wants to have a discussion, and more like a troll.

        • JK_Nation

          Especially when the rest of your post is one big strawman.

          “Wishing it doesn’t make it so.”

          What??? He doesn’t even come close to saying that it does. He said that desires correspond with actual objects that are desired. Two completely and almost unrelated claims.

          • Korou

            No, he says (essentially) that because he wants something it must exist. Which is not a logical thing to say.

          • Bob M.

            Korou, if you believe you are here because of some combination of time, chance, and the instinct to survive, then you should only have survival-oriented wants, which of course are needs, not wants. If, however, you believe you were created by an intelligent designer, then it is not illogical to believe that a “want” to know and be with that designer has been designed into you.

          • Korou

            I think that any desire to be with your “Designer” is merely the misinterpretation of your naturally evolved desire to be safe and happy.

          • Charles

            Arghh, Bob, now I’m in a metaphysical loop contemplating “Roy” from BLADE RUNNER and his reaction to his maker’s admission that Roy’s destiny was a done deal. Head hurts now.

        • Greg_Peterson

          Are you kidding, JK? That was a perfect way to kick of a very salient point. Your response showed far less maturity than the initial comment did. Just because you don’t like someone’s opinion does not mean it is either childish or troll-like.

        • Korou

          I’m sorry you felt insulted. I thought that if Murph felt that an argument that he agreed with could be described as “nailed it” I could extend his metaphor by disagreeing with it.
          I do want to have a discussion, and I think my post raises a valid point.

      • Murph

        Korou,

        Thanks for taking the time to reply. In regards to your comments about Lewis, I can’t really engage in a dialogue until you try to provide some specific, concrete examples of how he “got plenty of things wrong.” If you would like to present these to me, I would love to look at them. But until then, I’ll stick with the former Atheist who’s rhetoric, boss examples, incredible experiences, and specific, concrete logic reminded the 20th Century that Christianity is not only real, but reasonable. Lewis would be the first to point out that an Ad Hominem argument gets us nowhere. Clive Staples put a hurting’ on dat’ fallacy!

        And now for your argument against everyone’s favorite Bad Catholic. You are very right. We, as rational human beings are capable of imagining things that don’t exist. Let’s us C.S. Lewis for an example. In Narnia he came up with all sorts of weird creatures and images that are not real to us. Does that mean that my desire for a talking lion who dies and is resurrected must have a fulfillment?

        Maybe not.

        Let’s look at it like this. Ever since I was little I dreamed of climbing a gold mountain, one could even say I desired it. Well, if ever desire has a satisfaction, it would mean that there must be a shiny, gold mountain out there destined for me to climb it. So we’re left with the conclusion that we made up the gold mountain. But we didn’t really make it up, not really. We’ve seen gold before, we’ve interacted with it, we may have even touched it. The same with mountains, we’ve seen them before, we may have even desired them. There’s no real creation going on there, it’s just some fancy combining. Our desire for gold (which can be fulfilled) meets our desire for mountain (with also can be fulfilled) and we now desire a gold mountain.

        This is true of all of our desires. Anything information, any image, any piece of knowledge we obtain comes from our senses (the five external or the four internal). We are not capable of imagining things that we have not sensed.

        Let’s try this out.

        I dare you, try imagining a color that has never been thought of before. And no, don’t just picture a combination of two colors, I mean WHOLE NEW COLOR, one that you have not seen with your eyes. Kinda tough, right?

        Well I know what you’re saying now. “In a desire for eternal life, one is just combining their desire for life (which we can obtain) with their desire for eternal. Right you are! But wait?!?!? Where the piss does we ever come across the idea of eternity???? Nothing we’ve ever seen is eternal, we can’t taste everlastingness, nor can we smell forever. Oh snap….

        This means there was some point in our existence where we came into contact with eternity itself (maybe like when we were created and endowed with an everlasting soul by an eternal God). We can’t come up with eternity, we can’t create forever, in the same way we can’t image a color we’ve never seen or a sound we’ve never heard.

        You’re very right Korou,wishing doesn’t make something so. But you know what does? Coming into contact with something, arriving at the definitive realization that there is something inside of us that we didn’t put there, that would have no logically reason to exist if it cannot be actualized, and that we sure as hell didn’t come up with ourselves. Potency descends on act, and desires depend upon fulfillment. I have the idea of mountains, of gold, of bacon, of Mumford and Sons and of all things because THEY ACTUALLY EXIST. Well, where the heck did the idea of eternity come from. For this writer at least, it’s more logical to believe that I desire eternity because it is real that to believe that every human being performed a miracle by imagining and congaing something that doesn’t exist and has never crossed our sense.

        One BOOM for C.S. Lewis.

        One ROASTED for Bad Catholic.

        Your’s truly,

        A concerned Seminarian

        • Korou

          Hi Murph,

          I’m not particularly interested, right now, in going through all Lewis’ arguments and examining which ones make sense; but if you’d like to bring up any I’d be happy to discuss them with you.
          In my post above, the only point I wanted to make was that Lewis’ arguments often seem superficially convincing due to the way he makes them – as I said, a very readable style, and with plenty of analogies which seems convincing but on further inspection prove to be misleading.

          I do not, of course, mean any insult to people who admire Lewis, or to impugn their intelligence.

        • Korou

          Murph, you have outlined the argument very well, and I think your examples of a mountain of gold and a colour we’ve never seen before demonstrate this very nicely. You’re quite right, there are some things we can never wish for, I think, because we can’t conceive them; and there are some things we can wish for, because although we may never have seen them we can extrapolate them from our previous knowledge. As you say, we’ve seen mountains and we’ve seen gold; so a mountain of gold is a very good example of something we can imagine without having seen before.

          Am I right in saying that you argument is this:
          1. We have never seen or experienced eternity.
          2. We can imagine and long for eternal life.
          3. Therefore, eternal life must exist, and we must sense that it does in order for us to long for it.

          Right?

          In that case, I think it’s come unhinged a bit, at number 2.
          Where did the idea of eternity come from? Well, it’s simple. We know what it is to be alive, and so we can imagine being alive for longer; and because we consider being alive for longer a good thing, we imagine being alive forever. Or at least we say we can.

          Now you might say that a long time and forever are two very different things, and I think you’re right. But when people say they can imagine being alive forever, I don’t think they really can. Can you? Can you imagine what it will be like to see your trillionth birthday, and know that you are no further along in your afterlife than you were before? I can’t.
          Perhaps when people think about being alive in heaven they don’t think how boring it will be, singing God’s praises for the billionth time. Or perhaps they think that God will sort it out; that their perception of time will alter. After all, presumably God and the angels don’t get bored, do they?
          Well, this is a discussion for another time. The point is, I think that the fact that people imagine staying alive after they die doesnot mean that they have actually imagined eternity; and it does not mean that eternity exists.

          As I said: wishful thinking.

          Put it back in the oven; I think it isn’t quite done yet. Sorry for being a troll there.

          • Anodos

            Not to get side-tracked, but no, we don’t believe Heaven will be boring. Being bored implies that whatever one is doing is inadequate is some way. We will be in the presence of Him who fully satisfies all of our innate desires. There will be no inadequacies in that.

          • Korou

            I’m sure you don’t believe heaven will be boring. But I can’t imagine how you could avoid it.
            And no, I don’t think that being bored does imply inadequacy. Rather the opposite.

          • Murph

            Korou, I’ll use this to reply to your comment on heaven and your reply to my argument.

            I believe that you misunderstood the initial syllogism I was trying to create.

            Let’s try this again.

            1. Every single one of our desires, wants, and needs is based upon the things we have come into contact with in the real world, or a combination of those things.

            2. We have a desire for eternal, infinite happiness.

            3. Eternal and infinite cannot be broken down. They are not things that we made up. (I’m sure this is the most heated point of my argument, so I’ll address it latter).

            4. As far as we know, eternalness, infinity, doesn’t exist in this world. BUT we still have the desire for eternal happiness, soooooo…

            5. WE WERE MADE FOR ANOTHER WORLD. (I.e. heaven/a place where we can be eternally fulfilled.

            Now back to number 3. Can we make up eternity? Can we come up with infinity. Let’s try! I know I can think of a long time, I can even take a shot at imagining your trillionth birthday.

            But you know what? The more I can imagine it, the less I desire it. Existing forever sounds boring. If heaven is nothing more than some harps, a few clouds, and some golden roads than count me out. But that’s not what heaven really is. Heaven, in a Christians eyes, is complete and unending fulfillment. It is where we realize that we were made, completely, totally, and irrevocably, for something. That is a lot more than a long time, in fact, it’s in complete and total contradiction to it. I don’t the idea of time to think of eternity. In fact, that’s one of the things that makes eternity what it is, the fact that it does’t exist in the sphere of time. No where the piss would my desire for a world outside of time come from, if every single experience I have, every last event I have ever known is based in time?

            And in regards to your comments about cooking. I ain’t the one baking this dish bro! I got this recipe from over 2000 years of men and women looking at their hearts and saying “all my desires will, or at least can, be fulfilled in this world, except this one…”

            As Saint Paul said to a bunch of Corinthians stuck on the same issue we now find ourselves in. “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard”

            And this is why I, much like Mr. Bad Catholic himself, would make one bad atheist. It takes too much blind faith, I’ll have to go with my head and believe that this desire is inside of me for a reason.

            I look forward to hearing more from you, Korou. It’s nice to have a discussion where dignity and civility don’t get thrown out the window. Hurrah to you.

            Your Friendly Neighborhood Seminarian,

            Murph

          • Korou

            Murph: Let’s try this again.
            Korou: Okay, let’s!

            Murph: 1. Every single one of our desires, wants, and needs is based upon the things we have come into contact with in the real world, or a combination of those things.
            Korou: Or an extrapolation of them. I don’t want to sound like I’m nitpicking, just to make sure we don’t get into problems later on.

            Murph: 2. We have a desire for eternal, infinite happiness.
            Korou: You know, I was going to dispute this, because infinite happiness would be contradictory; but I will have to agree with it; because if you are happy forever you would always be, well, you know, happy.
            But that isn’t a point in your favour; in fact, it undermines your whole argument. All you are saying, in fact, is that you know what it is like to be happy, and you never want that to change. Which is, of course, something you can imagine – not being happy forever, but being happy at any of the infinite number of moments that make up forever.
            Put simply: you want to stay happy. How can you call this outside of human experience?

            Murph: 3. Eternal and infinite cannot be broken down. They are not things that we made up. (I’m sure this is the most heated point of my argument, so I’ll address it latter).
            Korou: Sure, we can come on to this later.

            Murph: 4. As far as we know, eternalness, infinity, doesn’t exist in this world. BUT we still have the desire for eternal happiness, soooooo…
            Korou: …so, it means that we do not actually have a desire for eternity, which we cannot imagine nor comprehend; all we have is a desire for happiness to continue and not to end. Which is a perfectly reasonable thing to desire; it’s a natural extrapolation of our desire for happiness, and proves nothing. Case closed.


            …Oh, alright. Let’s look at the next point…

            Murph: 5. WE WERE MADE FOR ANOTHER WORLD. (I.e. heaven/a place where we can be eternally fulfilled.
            Korou: The only fulfillment here, as it has been throughout the thread, is wish fulfillment, fallacy of. It really has been a fascinating read, seeing the basis of theism exposing itself. You don’t want to die; you don’t want to be unhappy; you imagine living and being happy after death; and you convince yourself that this will happen.
            I know that there are other things Christianity and other forms of theism are based on, but this is one of the key ones, and I think it’s very interesting to see it being laid bare.

            Murph: Now back to number 3. Can we make up eternity? Can we come up with infinity. Let’s try! I know I can think of a long time, I can even take a shot at imagining your trillionth birthday.
            But you know what? The more I can imagine it, the less I desire it. Existing forever sounds boring. If heaven is nothing more than some harps, a few clouds, and some golden roads than count me out. But that’s not what heaven really is. Heaven, in a Christians eyes, is complete and unending fulfillment. It is where we realize that we were made, completely, totally, and irrevocably, for something. That is a lot more than a long time, in fact, it’s in complete and total contradiction to it. I don’t the idea of time to think of eternity. In fact, that’s one of the things that makes eternity what it is, the fact that it does’t exist in the sphere of time. Now where the piss would my desire for a world outside of time come from, if every single experience I have, every last event I have ever known is based in time?
            Korou: I don’t think you do desire a world without time. I just thing you’re projecting something you do understand and desire – a state of happiness – and imagining it as being without end.
            I don’t believe that you can imagine and therefore desire a world without time; I think you’re just imagining being happy and saying that God will magically sort out all the difficulties which would otherwise, as you correctly point out, make even the most satisfying and exhilarating experience pall over time.
            This whole argument really is unbelievably weak, but I think that’s really all you have to use. No offence to you personally; but when your God is invisible, and when nobody can experience heaven or hell until they’re safely beyond ever coming back to tell us about it; when, in short, there is a complete lack of evidence for the huge and important claims you are making, I suppose you have to depend on clever word games and empty arguments. “I can imagine it, therefore it exists!”
            Please just realize what it looks like to us: you are trying to define your own fantasies into existence, tailors weaving cloth so “fine” that it cannot be seen – and when you put it on and walk outside, you wonder why we atheists look at you and say, “Are you sure you know what you’re doing there?”

            Murph: And in regards to your comments about cooking. I ain’t the one baking this dish bro! I got this recipe from over 2000 years of men and women looking at their hearts and saying “all my desires will, or at least can, be fulfilled in this world, except this one…”
            Korou: “And wouldn’t it be nice if they were fulfilled! My, I sure would be sad if they weren’t. And you know, because everything in life always works to make me happy, I guess that this will too! It must come right, because the vast universe wouldn’t let me be sad, would it?”
            Anyway, you were the one who said it was roasted. Mind you, I know what it’s like – you put it in the oven, and it comes out nice and brown, then you carve it and you find it isn’t done after all…

            Murph: As Saint Paul said to a bunch of Corinthians stuck on the same issue we now find ourselves in. “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard.”
            Korou: “…but you can trust me,” the Apostle continued, “because I say it is so. Can’t you just imagine it? Well, if you can imagine it, surely it must exist somewhere!”

            Murph: And this is why I, much like Mr. Bad Catholic himself, would make one bad atheist. It takes too much blind faith, I’ll have to go with my head and believe that this desire is inside of me for a reason.
            Korou: Murph, I’ll say this in the friendliest way I can. To say that being an atheist takes faith takes a hell of a lot of chutzpah. You are talking about an invisible and unknowable world, which you have never seen and never seen anyone go into or come back from, and you say that it takes faith to believe that it isn’t there. If you believe that you’re not going with your head; you’re going with your heart, and using your head to rationalize it.
            You know what my “faith” is? That I’m alive; that I can taste the food I eat; that the sun will come up every morning; that the world around me is real. This is a “faith” that you share, and you cannot use the word in the same sense that you use to talk about the pure speculation that is your thoughts on the afterlife.
            Besides which, there may be such a thing as a good Christian – one who follows the rules and model of Christianity – but in order to be an atheist all you have to do is lack a belief in gods, whatever the reason you give for it. I don’t think you can be a good or bad atheist, just a good or bad person.

            I look forward to hearing more from you, Korou. It’s nice to have a discussion where dignity and civility don’t get thrown out the window. Hurrah to you.
            Korou: Murph, I hope that in being blunt here I have not been uncivil. I have enjoyed talking to you too.

          • Anodos

            Out of curiosity, how would you define boredom? I didn’t mean to assert any profound philosophical truth by saying boredom implies inadequacy. I thought I was simply clarifying the commonly accepted definition of the word.

          • Korou

            Well, let’s see. I suppose if I were define boredome it would be a state in which there is no stimulation and in which unhappiness results from enforced inactivity. Which could also be the case with actions which make us happy repeated too often – after a while, we enjoy them less and less and eventually they become boring, tedious and unpleasant.

            You know this is true – imagine something you love doing – doing it again and again – eventually, you’d get bored with it. Right?

            Dictionary.com says: “to weary by dullness, tedious repetition, unwelcome attentions, etc.”

        • Anodos

          We do, however, have the experience of duration. Why could we not extrapolate from our experience of cumulative duration to the idea of infinity or eternity?

          Would you argue that the difference between the longest conceivable time and an infinite amount of time is a difference of kind and not measure? If so, it seems your argument holds water. Otherwise, it seems “infinity” is akin to your mountain of gold.

          (Also, I’m Catholic, so I’m definitely playing devil’s advocate here.)

          • Murph

            Anodos, great question/concern.

            You are correct, we do have the experience of duration. In fact, we cannot live in that experience and have comes to call it ‘time.’ It’s pretty darn hard for use to think outside of it, or even imagine living outside of it. That’s why all of our needs are temporal. I need/desire water, I take a drink. I want to go rollerblading, I do.

            But there is this one desire, this one want, this all encompassing thirst, to have that want continually and always fulfilled. And that just doesn’t happen in time. It takes an experience outside of time. It takes a thirst for infinity.

            Your question is if I would ” argue that the difference between the longest conceivable time and an infinite amount of time is a difference of kind and not measure?” I’m not only saying that , I’m saying they are complete and total opposites. I’m saying that ever one of our desires is in the context of a temporal, time-sensitive world, which makes sense, because this is the world we’ve lived in since conception. Every one of these desires can be fulfilled.

            But one of our desires, I dare say one of our more important desires, lies outside of time and is something, as Lewis would say, that is outside of this world.

            Christian philosophy would say that man is an animal. (Disclaimer, they believe he is also created different and in a higher dignity than any animal is). Yet they also believe he is different from every other animal because he is endowed (by God) with the gift of reason. EVERY other desire in the animal kingdom can be fulfilled.

            For the hungry baby there is food.
            For the swimming duck there is water.
            For the man in want of sex…there is sex.
            And we, as Christians, cannot help but think, for the man in want, in need, in dire and desperate of thirst of eternal happiness, that exists too.

            Why would we have a desire for eternity, for this far-out, almost unimaginable idea that contradicts every single second of every single day we live, if there could not be somewhere, somehow, fulfillment for that desire?

            Hope I didn’t muffle this.

            With love,

            Your favorite neighborhood seminarian.

          • Anodos

            Thanks for the thorough reply, Murph. I find myself happily in your corner!

      • Murph

        Korou,

        Thanks for taking the time to reply. In regards to your comments about Lewis, I can’t really engage in a dialogue until you try to provide some specific, concrete examples of how he “got plenty of things wrong.” If you would like to present these to me, I would love to look at them. But until then, I’ll stick with the former Atheist who’s awesome rhetoric, boss examples, incredible experiences, and specific, concrete logic reminded the 20th Century that Christianity is not only real, but reasonable. Lewis would be the first to point out that an Ad Hominem argument gets us nowhere. Clive Staples put a hurting’ on dat’ fallacy!

        And now to address your argument against everyone’s favorite Bad Catholic. You are very right. We, as rational human beings are capable of imagining things that don’t exist. Let’s use C.S. Lewis for an example. In Narnia he came up with all sorts of weird creatures and images that are not real to us. Like Asland. Does that mean that my desire for a talking lion who dies and is resurrected must have a fulfillment?

        Maybe not.

        Let’s look at it like this. Ever since I was little I dreamed of climbing a gold mountain, one could even say I desired it. Well, if every desire has a satisfaction/fulfillment, it would mean that there must be a shiny, gold mountain out there destined for me to climb. But, as far as I know, there is not. So we’re left with the conclusion that we made up the gold mountain. But we didn’t make it up, not really. We’ve seen gold before, we’ve interacted with it, we may have even touched it. The same with mountains, we’ve seen them before, we may have even desired them. There’s no real creation going on there, it’s just some fancy combining. Our desire for gold (which can be fulfilled) meets our desire for mountain (with also can be fulfilled) and we now desire a gold mountain.

        This is true of all of our desires. Anything information, any image, any piece of knowledge we obtain comes from our senses (the five external or the four internal). We are not capable of imagining things that we have not sensed.

        Let’s try this out.

        I dare you, try imagining a color that you’ve never scene before. And no, don’t just picture a combination of two colors, I mean WHOLE NEW COLOR, one that you have not seen with your eyes. Kinda tough, right?

        I’m sure I know what your reply to this will be. “In a desire for eternal life, one is just combining their desire for life (which we can obtain) with their desire for eternal.” Right you are! But wait?!?!? Where the piss does we ever come across the idea of eternity???? If eternity doesn’t exist, then nothing we’ve ever seen is eternal, we can’t taste everlastingness, nor can we smell forever. Oh snap…. This means that we can’t think of anything even close to eternity. BUT WE DO! We think about it all the time, we desire it in our very being.

        This means there was some point in our existence where we came into contact with eternity itself (maybe like, I don’t know, when we were created and endowed with an everlasting soul by an eternal God). We can’t come up with eternity, we can’t create forever, in the same way we can’t imagine a color we’ve never seen or a sound we’ve never heard.

        You’re very right Korou,wishing doesn’t make something so. But you know what does? Coming into contact with something, arriving at the definitive realization that there is something inside of us that we didn’t put there, that would have no logical reason to exist if it cannot be actualized, and that we sure as hell didn’t come up with ourselves. Potency descends on act, and desires depend upon fulfillment. I have the idea of mountains, of gold, of bacon, of Mumford and Sons and of all things because THEY ACTUALLY EXIST. Well, where the heck did the idea of eternity come from? For this writer at least, it’s more logical to believe that I desire eternity because it is real (just like every other one of my desires) than to believe that every human being performs a miracle by imagining and congaing something that doesn’t exist and has never crossed our sense.

        One BOOM for C.S. Lewis.

        One ROASTED for Bad Catholic.

        Your’s truly,

        A concerned Seminarian

  • Noe

    I would say “welcome to Buddhism”, or the vegan “spiritual secularism” with saffron seasoning of “Buddhism without beliefs” that abounds in the west under many and no names. This desire that you ‘make’ special, the identity that you have that desires, will both be dissipate in a few short years (if they even actually exist now, give the deliverances of neuroscience on perception of self, mind, delusion of freewill, etc, etc – or at least that’s a point “spiritual secularists” like Blackmore would likely make) – like so many desires. Desires you should not be attached to, no matter how nice, for the very reasons you offer above. Simply because you have those desires, does not mean the have a coorespondent. I’m sure in the hundreds of years of interaction betwixt Buddhism and Christianity, Buddhists somewhere have engaged Aquinas, or whomever is the font of this emphasis on “we have this desire for fulfillment, therefore there MUST be a corresponding fulfillment to this desire” thing. Not that I would have read it – I’m just a Catholic in process who is really confused by the supposed ‘force’ of this argument.

    • Alexandra

      Well said. I read this article and thought of how much I’ve been able to solve this problem Marc talks about by trying on the California flavor of Buddhism. You can “satiate” those desires by letting go of them.

      Moreover, I have no desire to be perfectly happy all the time. I desire to live a full life and experience. I’m happy with my husband, and I look forward to the future with him, and all of the emotions and experiences that come with it. I don’t desire happiness, I desire life.

      If you want to spend your life believing that there is a sort of perfect happiness in another life, good for you, but it sounds lame to me. And like the kind of idealism that you grow out of.

      • Korou

        And I think, if you really believed there was an eternal lifetime of bliss waiting for you as soon as you left this world, then you would be less likely to enjoy this world fully while you were here.

        • Brian

          Oh, we still get by. I’m on vacation now and loving it. But, I should be offering you congratulations … for you got some part of Christianity right. We’re not fully satisfied with this world because it fails to fully satisfy! That’s precisely what Marc elaborated.

          • Korou

            Compared to infinite happiness, any less-than-infinite happiness must seem, well, not like happiness at all.
            I’m glad you’re enjoying your vacation. I’m on holiday too, as it happens.

          • KuiperBelt

            Actually yes, any happiness experienced on Earth will pale in comparison to heaven. But on a practical level, no one on Earth has experienced heaven and thus has nothing to compare to. “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard” and all that.

        • Corita

          No. Not true at all.

          In fact, a failure to enjoy and thank the Creator for the delightful things of this existence would be the sign of major spiritual deadness.

          If you think about it, the question of “How much are you enjoying this life?” is a privilege of those who are able to think about such things on a regular basis. The idea of a better next life has been a comfort and a help during times of extremity.

          • Korou

            Sorry, Corita, I think that this is true; self-evidently true. If yoou have something good to look forward to, it meakes you impatient to get there. Now that really is the experience we have from our life. Ask any child on the night before Christmas, ask any worker at the beginning of the last week before his holiday. You say that you are looking forward to a life in which, after you have left this Earthly existence, you will be in the most perfectly wonderful state imaginable – and you say that you’d rather not hurry up and get there?

            Mind you, I think you’re quite right not to – but that’s because I am enjoying my life, life is sweet to all of us, even when it’s difficult; it takes very extreme difficulties indeed before we would rather die than live. So I do want to stay on Earth for as long as possible. But by your logic, heaven is the maximum possible happiness – and if I were you, I’d want to get there as quickly as possible.

            And the fact that Christians – indeed theists of all kinds, except for suicidal ones – do NOT want to get there – well, it makes me wonder if, subconsciously at least, they don’t really believe it exists.

            By the way, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t enjoy life while you are here; or, if you are a Christian, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t praise and thank God for the good things He has done for you. I’m just saying that you aren’t, apparently, in a hurry to get to heaven – a place which is infinitely better and happier than here; and you should be, any rational person should be, and if I were a Christian who really believed in heaven I would slit my wrists right now to get there as quickly as possible.

            I suppose that sounds like an absurd conclusion; but it’s one that I think follows the premises of your religion quite reasonably.

          • KuiperBelt

            Except for the simple fact that suicide is considered by Christians to be an immoral and disordered act.

          • Korou

            Of course it is. It would have to be, wouldn’t it? A religion which offers a wonderful reward after death would have to have a prohibition against suicide.

            Perhaps I’ve misunderstood the word “disordered.” Does it mean foolish or mad? Because given the claims that Christians make, I would say that killing oneself would be an extremely sensible thing to do.
            Why would it be an immoral act to do so?

          • Corita

            Our lives are not “ours” to do with as we please. That is the first fundamental spiritual truth imparted in our creation story: We are CREATED; we are creatures of a loving G-d. We are not gods, we did not make ourselves and our lives have been given to us. It is wrong to deliberately and aggressively take the life of any one of G-d’s human creations… that includes our own life.

          • Korou

            So your answer is that it is wrong to kill ourselves because that would be acting like a God, which would offend God? Insult Him?

          • Corita

            It is wrong to take life that is not yours to take.

          • Corita

            And, also, Korou, I think your “dialogue” is anything of the sort. By your own definition here, it is just you trying to get other people to tell you what they think so you can criticize it. It’s more on the lines of pedantic boorishness. Or intellectual masturbation. Or both. It also rests partly on your continued insistence that someone thinks what you say they think instead of what they are telling you they think.

          • Korou

            Well, Corita, I think that there are plenty of things on here which I disagree with, starting with the subject of the opening post; and I think it’s right and proper to say why I disagree with them – which may well mean saying they are wrong.

          • Corita

            Korou,
            I suppose I would be like a kid before Christmas if I were, indeed, on the eve of my peaceful, painless death at an advanced age with my good and loving descendants around me. Oh, and I glimpsed the Blessed Mother at the foot of my bed.

            The rest of life…no. And your reference to slitting your wrists is either ignorant or deliberately insulting.

            Your example of anxious children is also silly because human psychology doesn’t work that way. We go along with what we know and what is familiar. We are invested by our senses and reason in this life. We don’t have any experience of heaven so any “excitement” would be completely based on theory. Momentary visceral reactions to the idea is about as close as anyone I know has ever come– while they are going about their days eating, sleeping, working, loving, raising children, etc. like a normal human being.

            I do know people with much more robust spiritual lives than mine who express joy at the idea of heaven. But they, and I, think that our life here on earth is given to us first, and we have to open this gift before the next one. I will be honest with you: I am very much a sense-invested person, scientifically and sensually, and I don’t think about heaven all that much except as an article of faith, with the occasional longing for a time when the pain of separation will be over. My beliefs drive me to do most things purely in a desire to do Good, and avoid spreading evil, NOT to collect a reward. (This might be a shortcoming of mine; I am just saying it to let you know how one believer thinks about heaven.)

            I think your comment above points to a problem in the whole enterprise of non-believer trolling around believer blogs (or vice-versa); you seem inordinately invested in *telling* other people what they think (and, apparently, feel) rather than asking them and building a dialogue for mutual understanding from there.

          • Korou

            Corita, I hope I haven’t given offence. But right now the dialogue I am hoping to build involves pointing out logical mistakes. It might be that in using a phrase such as “slit my wrists” I did give offence, and I apologise for that. But if I were to write instead “kill myself” I would be making the same point, which I think is a good one, one that – according to the rules of Christianity – cannot be answered. I invite people to correct me and answer me if I am wrong.

        • Corita

          By the way, Korou, in case you *are* interested in how various Catholics think about things, particularly about living life, I recommend this lady and some of the folks in her blogroll:

          http://shirtofflame.blogspot.com/2012/01/bomb-exploding-our-hypocrisy.html

      • Brian

        The heart was made to yearn. I don’t know about you, but wanting existence for existence’s sake seems unfulfilling and unexplained. The heart yearns for that which isn’t fleeting, and I simply cannot settle for less. I agree with Marc, it’d be absurd.

        • Alexandra

          Living for the fact that living is fantastic is fulfilling. I can’t imagine that living with the hope that I will someday join my god would be fulfilling, seeing as I’d never be able to feel truly content. I don’t focus on desires for things that don’t exist in this world because that’d be a really lame way to spend my life. There’s too much awesome stuff that I can access to waste time dreaming of stuff I can’t have.

          • musiciangirl591

            you can’t be truly content here because, like i figured out when i was in the sixth grade, this world sucks…

          • Deven Kale

            QFT:

            you can’t be truly content here because, like i figured out when i was in the sixth grade, this world sucks…

            Thank you. You have just made it obvious to everyone willing to see why exactly it is that you believe in an afterlife, and therefore a god.

          • Alexandra

            Where did she say that? Did she edit it out?

            Also musician, it gets better as you grow up. Middle school does blow.

          • Deven Kale

            That was her original comment that I was going to respond to, before she edited it out. The QFT stands for “Quoted For Truth,” and that’s basically exactly what it’s used for, bringing back that which was once removed.

          • musiciangirl591

            no it just didn’t make any sense to me… so i edited it… whats wrong there?

          • musiciangirl591

            no, i was seriously depressed…

          • Alexandra

            No I’m not afraid of dying, but I can’t understand why you’re not. I know it’s like going to sleep forever, but you think that it’s going to be judgement. I guess unless you’re under some impression that there’s no chance of you going to hell. Which I’d believe, given how batshit you are.

            I don’t want to die yet, of course, but I have no reason to fear it. You should.

          • musiciangirl591

            language check, i know there’s a chance that i’m going to hell, but i’m just saying, is it so wrong to yearn for more, and i could die tomorrow and i would be completely fine with it (not suicidal just saying), i just don’t want to die yet

        • Korou

          Be careful that you don’t lose the pleasure of this life in waiting for the pleasure of another one that never comes.
          Because if we’re right, it will never come.
          But you don’t need to worry about that, do you? Of course a magical invisible realm that you’ve never experienced before exists and is waiting for you.

  • http://www.2catholicmen.blogspot.com/ Ben of Two Men

    Sin is the cause all unhappiness and God’s Grace is the solution. Men seek power, possessions and pleasure as an adaptive, temporal solution. God Grace is an eternal and simple solution, but simple like weight loss is simple. If you intake fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight; VERY simple. But how difficult it is with our bad habits, hunger pains and the “culture of food” we live in? So it is with working toward happiness.

    • Korou

      The cause of all unhappiness?
      What about the happiness of not having enough food to eat? Or of your house burning down? Or of falling down and cutting your knee?
      Those aren’t caused by our own bad or evil behaviours, are they?

      • http://www.2catholicmen.blogspot.com/ Ben of Two Men

        The fallen world of original sin brings death & disaster and causes unhappiness. The sins of others and sins of omission cause unhappiness.

        • Korou

          I’m not sure if that nswered my question. Can you elaborate?

          • http://www.2catholicmen.blogspot.com/ Ben of Two Men

            I think Corita (above comment) elaborated it well.

          • Korou

            Yes, I suppose she did.

          • musiciangirl591

            well, she did :P

      • Corita

        Korou, Not having enough food to eat is completely the result of sin. Nobody would go hungry if all humans were doing what is Good for one another.
        Next, why does the house burn down? Why does cutting your knee hurt? (cause unhappiness???? this one is a stretch) because of a fallen world, in which ill health, pain and the principle of entropy have sway. Christian narratives of Creation all agree that the world in which decay is the inevitable end of all matter, was not the one intended for us but is this way because of the first sin.

        It’s not about our own sins causing us to suffer (at least, not jsut that) but the world being pervaded by the devastating effects of sin from the first one onward.

  • Val

    “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.”
    -C.S. Lewis

    • Korou

      The most probable explanation is that you have misinterpreted your desire. Proving the existence of other worlds requires more than some ill-explained intuition you happen to have.

      • Bob M.

        Korou, C.S. Lewis is already experiencing existence in the next life. His intuition wasn’t ill-explained. The Bible clearly explains the only two alternatives. You get to choose one or the other. But you have to choose before you die. Choose Jesus now and spend eternity with Him. Deny Jesus now, and spend eternity separated from God …in hell.

        • Korou

          Whether is was ill-explained or not is precisely what we are discussing here.
          At the very least, I think it’s clear that C.S. Lewis’ intuition is not a good reason for anybody else to believe in life after death.

          The choice you have offered, which purports to be fair and loving, is in fact a most horribly evil act on God’s part.

          First, I cannot make this choice, because I do not believe it exists. I do not believe there is a heaven or a hell to choose between.

          Second, go to hell because you deny Jesus? Go to hell because you sincerely believe that a Jewish carpenter did not come back to life, and that the there is no such thing as an invisible and omnipotent intelligence?

          If someone is asked the question “do you believe that Jesus was the son of God?” and answers, “no,” they do not deserve unending torture.

          And yet you have said that they do. Do you feel this is a moral thing for you to do?

  • Adam Rasmussen

    What about the fact that we don’t want to live forever? From Spe Salvi, nos. 10-11:

    “The question arises: do we really want this—to live eternally? Perhaps many people reject the faith today simply because they do not find the prospect of eternal life attractive. What they desire is not eternal life at all, but this present life, for which faith in eternal life seems something of an impediment. To continue living for ever —endlessly—appears more like a curse than a gift. Death, admittedly, one would wish to postpone for as long as possible. But to live always, without end—this, all things considered, can only be monotonous and ultimately unbearable. This is precisely the point made, for example, by Saint Ambrose, one of the Church Fathers, in the funeral discourse for his deceased brother Satyrus: “Death was not part of nature; it became part of nature. God did not decree death from the beginning; he prescribed it as a remedy. Human life, because of sin … began to experience the burden of wretchedness in unremitting labour and unbearable sorrow. There had to be a limit to its evils; death had to restore what life had forfeited. Without the assistance of grace, immortality is more of a burden than a blessing”. A little earlier, Ambrose had said: “Death is, then, no cause for mourning, for it is the cause of mankind’s salvation”.

    Whatever precisely Saint Ambrose may have meant by these words, it is true that to eliminate death or to postpone it more or less indefinitely would place the earth and humanity in an impossible situation, and even for the individual would bring no benefit. Obviously there is a contradiction in our attitude, which points to an inner contradiction in our very existence. On the one hand, we do not want to die; above all, those who love us do not want us to die. Yet on the other hand, neither do we want to continue living indefinitely, nor was the earth created with that in view.”

  • Wow Really

    I find it interesting that this article talks about finding eternal happiness and eternal peace at the same time talking about desires. What makes you happy? Sitting around in an eternally peaceful place with nothing to do except be peaceful and happy? Will we no longer have desires? The desires that will us to do more in this life? And while sitting around being peaceful and happy, at the same time knowing probably more than half of the people you knew and loved in this life are burning in an eternal fire? It’s weird to think about eternal happiness and peace and where exactly that happiness will come from. Don’t we have the Desire to have more, do more and be more than just a being who sits around enjoying peace and happiness? Where is that happiness going to come from? Will God make our brains eternally ignorant and no longer caring about the people who are not there with us so that we can be happy? Or will we just forget about everyone else and be happy with ourselves? Which sounds kind of selfish. I don’t know about any of you, but the thought of eternal peace and happiness just doesn’t compute for me if everyone I love is not there with me. And it sound awfully boring so I think I will focus on being as happy as I can in this life with the people I love. If I do make it to the place of eternal happiness, I won’t be happy without my family and friends, so maybe I’d be happier at the other place.

    • http://indefinitecrisis.wordpress.com/ Michael H

      Or is there is a process of eternal movement from glory to glory called theosis, such that we are not cherubs on clouds but living as the earth was meant to be, constantly yearning while constantly being filled, where maybe, just maybe, sex and food and all else will still be there because that’s part of the design of the world, because it’s naturally ordered to the celebration of the Creator?

      What? You get your Heavenology from Precious Moments? My apologies; that must be incredibly boring.

    • http://wasteyourtime.mtgames.org/ Scaevola

      The thing is, you’re thinking of eternal peace and happiness in temporal terms. If heaven is more of the same that we have here, you’d be right and it would be boring. But heaven, being with God, is the ultimate, perfect fulfillment of all desire. It is categorically different than the limited things that fulfil desire on earth to a certain extent.

      Your q about hell? In heaven you will see that those in hell completely deserve to be there. You will see God’s perfect justice in their condemnation. It’s hard to take, but that’s how it is.

      • Patterrssonn

        Trust us it’ll make sense when your dead.

    • musiciangirl591

      there are books you can read on heaven, i would suggest heaven is a real place and 90 minutes in heaven… they are pretty interesting!

      • The Other Weirdo

        Suppositions and flights of fancy, and unsubstantiated as every other concept of heaven and hell. Nothing, except light diversion, could be gained by paying too much–or, indeed, any–attention to them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kathy.lehnerz.9 Kathy Lehnerz

    Dear Marc, I read your “In Focus” article in the “Our Sunday Visitor” weekly paper. I like the idea of trying to reach out to others, sharing your Faith, by unconventional methods…
    I was wondering if any of your readers would be interested in spiritual sci-fi:

    http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Fighting-with-Angels/122744651086552

    I know that Jonathan would appreciate some feedback.
    Thanks,
    Kathy
    West Bend, WI

  • Brother White

    Okay…so the basic gist of the Marc’s argument presented in the post above is, if I understood it correctly:
    1)I want to be happy
    2a)This desire for happiness is defined as wanting eternal happiness;
    because
    2b)Wanting Happiness to end(e.g. “not wanting happiness”) is contrary to the desire to happiness -> therefore, wanting finite happiness is not truly wanting “happiness” at all

    Counterpoint 1:
    2a and 2b disregard the experience of satisfaction(the assumption something is “enough”) and/or weariness(“growing tired of something”)

    However, if someone is “satisfied”, his happiness does not necessarily cease, but rather reach a more level state. As such, satisfaction cannot be used to argue for the “ending” of happiness, because satisfaction in itself does not end happiness, merely change it.

    Weariness of a former happy state, on the other hand, turns this happiness into a chore, into displeasure, into unhappiness. By itself, it destroys this happiness and ends it.
    However, wanting to be happy AND simultaneously wanting to eventually grow weary of this happiness, falling into displeasure is similarly NOT congruent with the “desire for happiness” stated by Marc in 1)

    Therefore, if Marc truly wants to be happy, then he wants to be happy forever, with no strings attached.

    3)The issue of satisfaction:
    When is a man satisfied with himself?
    3a)If I achieved “that goal”?
    3b)If I “do” “this activity?”

    3a) faces the problem of routine. If someone reaches a certain goal, and then this becomes his normal state, he typically grows accustomed to this state after some time; he no longer derives the same satisfaction from it that he experienced upon reaching it the very first time.
    As such, his satisfaction declines; it needn’t cease entirely, but it usually dwindles over time.

    This is probably also the reason why some people shun “eternal happiness” if they imagine eternity to suffer from the same problem: Growing dull, boring, a chore to bear.
    (The actual qualities of eternal happiness in the christian sense differ quite a bit from that scenario, but that’s a different topic. Iirc, Marc already posted upon that issue earlier)

    3b)By deriving satisfaction from an activity that can be repeated with variations, one already supports the argument 2b, because deriving satisfaction from “doing something” overcomes the FINITE quality of 3a), heading into the direction of INFINITE(eternal) quality of 2b), but still limited by the stumbling block that is the finite, mortal life of a human.

    This finite environment(human mortality, the finicky nature of relationships that do fail/end for some reason or the other, etc) seems to contradict the idealistic infinite desires.

    As such, Man faces a choice:

    EITHER accept the finite environment as absolute, and deal with life and your desires within this preset context(-> “live your life to the fullest” or “Let us eat and drink and be merry, for tomorrow we will be dead”)

    OR reject the finite environment, declaring it cannot be absolute, cannot be complete precisely because of its finite, changing nature.
    The assumption of “truth” and “universal laws” fits pretty squarely into this realm, because on a personal level, absolute truth can’t be proven without a doubt, there’s only degrees of plausibility and trust(“The sun will rise tomorrow? I’m pretty sure, but if somehow tomorrow the sun didn’t rise and instead exploded because of something I didn’t know, well…yeah, I can’t do anything about that and will continue to pretend that the sun rises tomorrow”)
    (“I have no idea wether you are speaking truthfully to me right now, and I have no evidence since I just met you and we talked for the first time, but I’m gonna assume that you mean what you say because if I don’t, we can’t really communicate at all…”)

  • Marian

    The kid in the video would make a great priest someday. ;)

  • Ptyler

    monotheism is similar to atheism…if you put it that way

  • http://www.catholicfword.com/ Chrisitne Falk Dalessio

    Jagger’s “Satisfaction” comes to mind …a secular ache reflecting that universal longing.
    “If I have a desire that cannot be met by the natural universe, this seems to imply that there is something in me unnatural” unnatural, supernatural. Nice.

  • Charles Culbreth

    Marc, the “No Country-McCarthy” quote is a slayer. Thanks for the reminder.
    I don’t know if you’ve been a Wes Anderson enthuiast, but I’d love a 21st century “kid’s” take on his latest film, “Moonrise Kingdom.” To this “Old Man” it speaks very much in concert with this post.

  • Emmacoulter22

    Interesting word here (and totally unrelated to the post) Binary: a whole composed of tw0

  • LeechcraftMegilp
  • http://twitter.com/byzcathwife priest’s wife

    why I’d make a bad atheist: I would never want to be the center of my own universe

    • Deven Kale

      Don’t worry, as an atheist you wouldn’t be the center of your own universe. There are still plenty of things to base your life upon besides yourself or your god, and they’re quite easy to find once you start looking. If that’s the only reason you’re not an atheist, then have no fear and come on over. Your fears are wholly unwarranted.

  • Deven Kale

    I was just rereading Marks post and remembered this awesome remake of the preacher kid. I noticed nobody else had mentioned it, so I thought I would share it with you all.

    P.S. if anybody knows how to have a video show at the bottom of a comment, lemme know please. ;)

  • NT

    Hey, Marc, thought you’d like to see a recent post on the Curt Jester’s website: http://www.splendoroftruth.com/curtjester/. Check out how atheists are backsliding…only 30% of people raised in an atheist home remain atheist as adults…just some interesting data from the 2008 Pew Forum’s Survey of Religion.

  • Alphazulu99

    And then Jesus came upon his disciples and said, “What, brethren, is this ridiculous bullshit I’ve been hearing about me being a human sacrifice for your sins!!? Hast thou lost thy fucking minds!!!!? What in the goddamned hell kind of Neanderthal bullshit is that!!? Blood sacrifice!!!!!!!!?? Are you all insane!!? Listen, brethren, as I tell you a secret. Love me, adore me, praise me. But, please, for the love of the Buddha, stop with this sadistic, immoral, disgusting, sickening, vile, wicked, pathetic bunch of Stone Age bullshit about blood sacrifices!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It makes us all look like a bunch of deluded, brain-dead, goddamn lunatics!!!!”–Jesus Christ, the Lost Gospel

    • whatalune

      If you are truly interested to know why, in the Christian religion, it was necessary for God to become man and sacrifice his life, you should read Cur Deus Homo by St. Anselm, written in 1098 AD. I mean it’s in the New Testament too, of course. It is a historical fact that Jesus the Nazarene was put to death on a cross – there are other non-religious historical sources that confirm that – (see the writings of Josephus).
      Cur Deus Homo can be found here: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/anselm-curdeus.asp
      Anselm’s writing on the subject is a formula for redemption.
      Abelard, who was writing just a little later in the mid-1130s, instead discusses the Cross as the ultimate example of God’s love. Unfortunately, it seems the text for his Commentary on the Epistle of Paul to the Romans is not available online, but here is a good essay explaining what he added to the discussion: http://shell.cas.usf.edu/~thomasw/abelard.htm
      I happen to think the two explanations complement each other, but as you will see from the essay, Abelard was not known for being quite on point, so a lot of theologians want to throw out his commentary altogether.
      It doesn’t seem like you were really looking for a reply with real information, but there you go anyway.
      Or you could continue to be incredibly disrespectful to our religious beliefs and write rude comments.

  • Desire

    I don’t understand why a desire which can’t be fullfilled would be unnatural. Desire is a feeling. Just because you feel desire for something doesn’t mean you will ever get it, why would you assume it would?

    Desire is just the way the brain motivates itself to keep doing things.

    • whatalune

      YES. I am a believer but I always thought this was a leap in logic as well. I would love for someone to bridge that philosophical gap for me.

      • whatalune

        Though I can’t say I agree with this statement: “Desire is just the way the brain motivates itself to keep doing things.” What things? Why would the brain want to motivate you to jump out of a perfectly good airplane, for instance? Or to splurge on a great pair of heels?

  • Lucretius

    You ARE an atheist, actually. Just not about Yahweh. But I’m pretty sure every Catholic is an atheist when it comes to Zeus, Neptune, Molech, Baal, Thor, Loki, etc. etc.

    I just take it one step further and cross out Yahweh, putting him in the same category as other ancient myths and magical beings like the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus.

  • Peaslepuff

    Wow. Yes, you would make a terrible atheist.

  • Theyon

    I’m an atheist, and I’m happy.
    Though, wouldn’t you get bored of everything being perfect all the time? I would.

  • Doopa

    Okay, atheist perspective.

    I consider myself happy. It doesn’t bother me that someday, this happiness will end in the form of death. Because when I die, I don’t expect to feel good, bad, or even neutral. I just won’t feel, and I won’t have to ponder it. I’ve accepted a likelihood that I won’t live forever, and I think that helps me enjoy the life I do have a little better. But to each his own.

    I view my life as a continuum with a distinct beginning and end. To me, it is an eternity, because time is subjective and what happens before and after my death is irrelevant to me (with one exception, I want future generations to enjoy life as well, so I pay it forward in that regard).

    It does, on the other hand, bother me that someday before I die my happiness could end in the form of unhappiness. My life could turn on its side. That frightens me more than if I were to die tomorrow, because then I would at least have quit while I was ahead.

    One more thing, for your sake. You may be feeling like you aren’t happy because you seek an unobtainable ideal. If you think you need to be eternally happy to be happy, I don’t think you’ll ever be happy. One day at a time, man.

    • anon

      Right on!

  • Imagicka

    How about the fact that you are unable to do any research, and are unable to distinguish fact from fiction?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/3DX3RWS6ZGDX6MSUPWYHYQHD3E Vince

    I don’t need to delude myself that there’s some afterlife that’s perfect in order to be happy in my life. You can keep living for the afterlife, but I’m going to live for today, and get some actual satisfaction from life. Come join us in reality, the water’s fine!

  • http://twitter.com/karlmeyer karl meyer

    As an atheist (a happy one) I can understand why the desire for happiness is important. As long as people are happy within their beliefs then that’s great.

    If people find comfort in belief and that benefits them then go for it. To be honest some of the virulent atheists can be depressing for me to listen to – no-one wants to have “YOU’RE WORM FOOD” yelled at them daily.

    Personally I enjoy listening to a sung latin mass and find a lot of religious architecture inspiring (in the UK we have a lot – Kings College Cambridge is fantastic) But I find them inspiring because they are human endeavours. People have written this wonderful music or designed and people built these wonderful buildings. It is through these endeavours that these people have immortality.

    However the major form of conflict that many happy atheists have with believers is when believers feel that, because they have “god”, their views on anything from who can get married to whom and what contraception is available (or not) are given extra power by having a “god” behind them and so can be imposed on everyone else.

    As long as we can all mind our own business and keep out of each others personal lives then we’ll all be happier and that’s the important thing.

  • ls

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