Cathedral of Suns: A Humanist Sermon

In my encounters with religious proselytizers, I have occasionally been told that atheism robs the world of the sense of awe and wonder, that my lack of belief in a god who miraculously created us all must mean that my life is lacking in the intangible qualities that makes it worth living. I have been told, as well, that I reject the possibility of a god too great for me to understand. This is my reply to those claims.

There is a famous photograph taken by the Hubble Space Telescope of a region called M16, also known as the Eagle Nebula, that lies 7,000 light-years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Serpens. It is more colloquially called the “Pillars of Creation“. The Hubble image depicts three tall, twisted, intricately shaped clouds of gas and dust, like columns of smoke rising from a campfire. At the tips of each of these columns are dozens of tiny fingerlike protrusions, very small by comparison, easily overlooked among the eerie beauty of the entire scene. It is only when you understand what you are really looking at that the scale of this image becomes apparent. Those minuscule protrusions are new stars being born. Each of them is far larger than our entire solar system. The Eagle Nebula is a stellar nursery, where new suns are coalescing from interstellar clouds of molecular hydrogen – a place where the attractive pull of gravity causes the denser clouds to collapse on themselves, becoming denser and hotter until their cores reach the multimillion-degree temperatures required to ignite nuclear fusion, synthesizing hydrogen into helium. The outward pressure of the energy released by this reaction counterbalances the inward pull of gravity, causing the new star to enter a stable state in which it can shine for millions of years, until its fuel is exhausted.

But even the Eagle Nebula is only a very small part of our own galaxy. On a clear, dark night far from the lights of civilization, you can see the Milky Way itself, a faint, misty band of light that arches across the night sky. But again, the sight only attains its full degree of awe when you understand what you are looking at. Using parallax and luminosity measurements, we have mapped the Milky Way, our own galaxy, and found it to be a barred spiral of a hundred billion suns, so large it takes light a hundred thousand years to cross from one end to the other. Our solar system is on the outer edge of the galaxy, embedded in one of its rotating spiral arms. When you see that faint band of light, you are looking inward, toward the center of the galaxy, where the light from millions and millions of stars blurs together into a glittering cloud. If certain hypotheses in astrobiology are correct, some of those distant stars may harbor advanced civilizations of their own, fellow travelers in this vast and uncharted cosmos that we have yet to discover.

But our gazes have ventured even beyond the Milky Way itself. We have realized that some of the fuzzy patches in the night sky are not stars or nebulae, but other galaxies, magnificent island universes spread out like jewels against the ocean of universal dark. But our universe is not a peaceful place. Through our telescopes, we see cosmic catastrophes on a scale too vast to comprehend. In some of these distant galaxies, we see supernovae – the cataclysmic deaths of stars, explosions so bright that they briefly outshine the entire galaxy in which they occur. At the center of many galaxies, we see cosmic monsters, massive black holes with the mass of millions of suns that devour streams of matter and send out intense jets of radio and X-ray energy. We see galaxies themselves collide, their gravitational tides tearing each other apart. And on rare occasions, we have seen explosions even more enormous than supernovae, called gamma-ray bursts, some of which are so bright that they briefly outshine the entire rest of the visible universe. Gamma-ray bursts inevitably occur at cosmological distances, billions of light-years from Earth, and their exact cause is still unknown. Perhaps most incredibly of all, when we read the light from these galaxies, we see that every single one of them, save for a few in our local cosmic neighborhood, is shifted towards the red, indicating that they are hurtling away from us. They are receding from us, and we from them, as space itself expands.

We have mapped the distribution of galaxies on the largest scales and found that it is not entirely random. Viewed from outside, our universe would resemble a foam of soap bubbles, with structures called “great walls” – vast sheets made up of thousands and thousands of galaxies – wrapped around even more enormous voids. One of the most famous large-scale surveys of galaxy distribution revealed a figure astronomers named the “Stickman” – a supercluster of galaxies spread across the northern sky, 500 million light-years wide, in a shape that vaguely resembles a stick-figure drawing of a human being.

Beyond even this, we have seen the very first light in the universe. We have studied the sky in microwave light and glimpsed the afterglow of the Big Bang – a diffuse bath of energy that pervades the entire cosmos, the fading remnants of the initial white-hot fireball, now cooled to about three degrees above absolute zero by time and expansion. We have found tiny temperature variations in this cosmic microwave background radiation – fluctuations of millionths of a degree, observed by a satellite named WMAP that even now orbits at the second Lagrangian point, almost a million miles from Earth, in the darkness of space. These almost imperceptible temperature ripples date back to the instant of origin; they represent spots of slightly increased or decreased density, tiny departures from uniformity at the very beginning, that seeded all the future formation of stars and galaxies. They are the blueprint for the universe as it exists now, 13.7 billion years later.

The point of all this is that, by following the scientific method, we have discovered a cosmos far vaster, more intricate, more magnificent, more awe-inspiring, and to which we are more deeply and fundamentally connected than any poet or theologian of antiquity ever dreamed of. All the elements in our bodies heavier than hydrogen – the carbon of our cells, the oxygen we breathe, the iron in our blood, the calcium in our bones – were synthesized from lighter nuclei in the cores of massive stars and blown into space when those stars died, becoming dispersed throughout the cosmos and enriching nebulae that formed the next generation of stars, including the one out of which our solar system formed about five billion years ago. When you look into the night sky, you are viewing the place where you came from. We are all, quite literally, stardust, heirs to a lineage that dates back to the Big Bang itself. Even the greatest thinkers of the prescientific era never conceived of something so amazing. Even they never imagined a universe as grand and majestic as the one we now know we actually live in.

Then I turn to the Book of Genesis, and what do I read? I read that God made the Earth, his green footstool, with loving care and painstaking effort and attention to fine details during the first three days of creation, before anything else existed. Then, and only then, on the fourth day, he creates the entire rest of the universe – everything I have just described, all the majesty, all the immensity – as background, as scenery, as a tossed-off afterthought, for no reason other than to serve as signs and portents to the inhabitants of the Earth.

In fact, it’s not just the Bible – it’s all religions. All of them reflect the prideful fantasy that human beings are central to the workings of the universe. None of them ever anticipated all the incredible things we have discovered. When theists tell me that I am putting God in too narrow a box, I reply that their belief does not give him nearly enough credit.

These religions myopically imagine that this pale blue dot, this green atom, this place that is an infinitesimal speck inside an infinitesimal speck when compared to the unimaginably awesome vastness of the cosmos, is not just a place of interest to the creator of it all, not even just the most important place, but the very reason for the creation to exist at all and the only thing in it that has any real meaning or interest to God. We look out into the sky and see crashing galaxies and exploding stars and black holes that consume suns, and religion says that the death of a single man or the formation of a small fiefdom thousands of years ago is the most important thing that ever happened in the history of the universe. We witness planet-sized storm systems in the atmospheres of gas giants, explosions visible across the whole of the known universe, and ultradense, collapsed remnants of suns called neutron stars, so dense a teaspoonful of their matter would weigh millions of tons and rotating hundreds of times per second – and religion tells us that a minor shift to the course of one waterway on our planet, or the collapse of one ancient city’s mud-brick walls, is a great miracle. Can an atheist be blamed for thinking that this theology reflects nothing but the arrogant anthropocentrism of the humans who came up with it? Can we be blamed for thinking that it is so small because its creators were small?

Though I do not believe there actually is a deity who created all this, if there was one, I would expect that he would be large enough to fit the creation. Part of the reason I am an atheist is that, based on the facts I observe, I have tried to reason my way to a conclusion about what a god who made the universe would look like, and the answer I keep getting is not in accord with what any current religion says. And though I would freely accept that I was wrong if I could see evidence otherwise, such as a clear communication from God, I have received nothing like that.

In any case, lacking theistic belief does not in any way impair an atheist’s ability to feel awe and wonder, or to recognize that there are things far greater than us. If anything, I believe this cathedral of suns, infinitely vaster and more majestic than anything made by hands, produces a sense of awe and wonder so far surpassing the imaginings of religion that it clearly shows all of them to be untrue. The cramped and antiquated imaginations of human beings do not compare to the true glory and grandeur of the cosmos as it really is.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Montu

    It’s strange that you posted this today, because as I was walking home last night, I looked up. There were one or two stars out, and the moon was peaking through the clouds. It’s been well over a month sense I’ve seen even that because of all the rain, but even on a clear night here in “The City” you can only see at most a couple handfull of stars. I grew up in the country, looking into the milky way as you discribed it, completely away from interference from light pollution, so I often get frustrated not being able to see more of the night sky. But even with the few little lights peaking through the clouds, it got me thinking about the mindset of religion v. atheism, and it struck me that we simply look at the stars in a fundementially different way. They look up and somehow feel justified, always forgetting the scale of what they are looking at, while atheist look up and are awe-inspired, fully understanding the scale of the night sky. We look up and ask why and how, they look up and feel they are looking back at themselves. And it seems truly sad to me that they would think this.
    Thank you for this post, it’s good to know that I’m not alone in this thought. Very well said.

  • Loren Petrich

    And going from the very large to the very small, one also finds a lot of detail that previous generations were entirely unaware of. An instructive exercise is powers of 10, both increasing and decreasing. Let’s take the tree in my house’s front lawn.

    Tree -> Willamette Valley -> The Rocky Mountains -> North America -> Earth -> Earth-Moon -> Solar System -> Nearby Stars -> The Orion Arm -> The Milky Way -> The Local Group -> The Universe

    Tree -> Leaf -> Spongy interior -> Cell -> Chloroplast -> Inner membrane -> Antenna complex -> Chlorophyll molecule -> Carbon atom (10^(-10) m) -> Carbon nucleus -> Protons and neutrons (10^(-15) m) -> Quarks and gluons -> Electroweak unification (10^(-17) m) -> Supersymmetry? (10^(-18) m) -> (the “desert”) -. Grand Unification (10^(-31) m) -> Quantum Gravity (10^(-34) m)

    So why weren’t all these marvels revealed to us? As Richard Carrier had noted in From Taoist to Infidel, it’s curious that Jesus Christ seemed ignorant of all these marvels, despite having a (presumably) super-knowledgable father.

  • Quath

    Secret Worlds shows the powers of 10 in a Java applet.

    I always thought it was interesting that tribal gods were claimed by the believers to be gods of everything. However, these gods ignored everything but the tribe they belonged to.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    I recently visited the Rose Center at the Museum of Natural History in New York to see the new Cosmic Collisions show, but I had a chance to tour the Powers of Ten walk also, which I never miss. For those who haven’t seen it, the planetarium in the Rose Center is a giant sphere about 80 feet in diameter hanging in the center of the museum wing, and a spiral walkway winds around it comparing the sphere’s size to some object, with a much smaller model in front of you to show how large some other object is in comparison. Each stop at the walkway decreases by a power of ten from the previous one, beginning with the whole visible universe and moving down through to subatomic particles. The sense of perspective hits at a visceral level when you realize just how infinitesimally small the Earth is in comparison to all the cosmos.

    It’s hardly surprising – at least, for us atheists who don’t believe in divine revelation – that ancient people had no idea just how big the universe is. When all you know is the Earth, when you live on land that’s solid underfoot and goes from horizon to horizon, it’s hard to think of the stars and planets in the night sky as places just like this one. If you don’t know, it seems quite plausible that they’re just little pinpricks in a black curtain draped overhead. The anthropomorphic conceit is fueled by our limited perspective.

    But now that we know better, now that we can transcend that limitation… One of the visuals in the Cosmic Collisions show was the meteor that hit Earth 65 million years ago and precipitated the K-T extinction. You see it from the perspective of space, from high above the planet, while it revolves in space below. Viewing the Earth from that vantage point, it becomes painfully clear that it’s just one place among many, and a very small one in the grand run of things, at that. What happens here matters very much to us, but it doesn’t matter at all to the rest of the cosmos. The solar system will spin on, the Milky Way will continue to revolve, the galaxies will continue to travel through space… and none of this vastness cares about us and our speck of dust, notwithstanding what we may become some day.

    I’m all too aware that manned space flight can hardly be justified on either scientific or economic grounds, but still, it’s the kind of perspective I wish more people had a chance to get. It would make it much harder to retain these ludicrous illusions of ourselves at the center of all things, illusions that have been fostered and perpetuated by religion throughout the ages. The truth is far grander and more wonderful.

  • BlackWizardMagus

    I can see their point though; it’s also scary, impersonal and foreboding. You have no future beyond these years, you have no hope of ever getting to these places that dwarf our planet (personally, I mean, the human RACE might someday), you are some germ on a speck of sand, compared to even the observable universe (I am of the mind that the universe in infinite in time and space, which is obviously ever more powerful). It can scare people, especially when someone dies or they get close to death and they slam into their own mortality like a brickwall. Sometimes, honestly, it even gets to me. I feel like I am indeed insignifigant. Of course, I get over it; not because it’s wrong but because it just IS; there is no purpose to the universe and therefore nothing “matters” to it, but I can matter to myself. But, honestly…when I see things like the Powers of Ten video that’s been made or look up when I’m in the middle of New Mexico on vacation, yeah, I can see the reason to be afraid. If anything, I feel like doing that is what drives people TO theism, not the opposite.

  • Montu

    I guess it’s all just a matter of perspective. I found it increadibly liberating to understand that my life doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but at the same time, I can understand why that’s a frightening thought, BWM. I had a teacher once who put it like this: “There’s no such thing as meaning, but that doesn’t mean that things can’t be meaningful.” I think this is a really great point, when we look out, and understand that we truly are nothing, it can be really devistating, because we as a people all seem to be used to taking orders, or having someone “watch over us.” The thought of taking our own lives by the riegns and making it meaningful FOR OURSELVES can be really hard for a lot of people to do. And I think this is part of the reason that religion arose, so that there would still be the allusion that someone is “watching over us.” Perhaps that’s why, even today when we understand the greater picture, people still fall back to religion, because they are scared of what the big picture means (or they don’t want to admit that they are insignificant).

  • Archi Medez

    When I was a kid I used to escape from having to go to Sunday school (a boring, stuffy experience) in order to pursue my real interests at the time, which involved exploring the countryside, fishing, etc. There is an aesthetic dimension to our experience that can be accessed directly—call it no-name spirituality, or whatever. No need for a middle-man, no membership card required, no fees.

    The wonder discussed in Adam’s post has also been expressed in the statements of Darwin, Einstein, Newton, etc. It seems that science, at least for some, is motivated by a profound sense of wonder. That sense of wonder is then followed up with curiosity and investigation.

    At no time was my experience of rainbows ever diminished by knowledge of theory of light refraction. Rather, such experiences are enhanced by scientific exploration and knowledge, with no loss to the sense of wonder.

    That sense of scientific wonder extends to cognition itself. What is meaning, and how do we establish meaning (or its correlate), physically, in the neural networks of the brain? What happens in the brain’s motivational systems when we experience wonder? How does it work? How do hunches, hypotheses, and tentative conclusions become established? How do these differ, objectively, in the neural substrate, with more rigidly-held beliefs? How do empirically-supported beliefs differ from those that are not well-supported in knowledge and experience? Is our wonder at the workings of the mind itself the same as that of our wonder at external nature?

  • http://www.pluckypunk.blogspot.com plucky punk

    Excellent, beautiful post. When I was a kid my father told me that some of the atoms in my body used to be part of a star (yes, I know he ripped it off from Carl Sagan). So far, no religion has been able to top the coolness of *that.*

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    Thank you very much! All us atheists, of course, owe Dr. Sagan a great debt. As they say, Charles Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist, but one could argue that Carl Sagan made it possible to be a spiritual one.

  • Jerry Feheley

    The Universe itself is God.

    We are the Universe understanding itself.

    The Universe exists so that life can exist.

  • OMGF

    Please provide evidence that the universe has an imperative to exist so that life can exist.

  • OMGF

    To clarify, I mean that I’d like to see some evidence that there’s some intentionality behind the existence of the universe.

  • Jerry Feheley

    I have lots of evidence that I have thought of over the years. None by themselves are a proof but together I believe they do prove the Universe exists for life. It would take me hours if not days to state all of them and explain the interconnected meanings. Here is one.

    If you could go back in time, say 5,000 years, and find a scholarly person, an intelligent thinker for the time. If you told this person that in the ground there are 92 different building blocks (I refer to the 92 natural occuring elements) and that over time they will all be discovered. You tell this person that with these building blocks almost everything imaginable and much more can be built. You discribe for him examples of things from Saran Wrap to digital wrist watches. You discribe and explain many things that can be made from the building blocks in a way that he can comprehend. His responce would be this. He would say if that is true, if these things are in the ground waiting to be discovered, then there must be some kind of intentionality behind them. There must be intentionality by the Universe.

  • OMGF

    Mr. Feheley,
    I was not aware that the superstitions of our ancestors constituted evidence that the current superstitions you hold – that you inherited from them – are valid. Oh wait, they aren’t. Are you really going to hold that religious thought about the intentionality of the universe is its own evidence? And, why am I not surprised that the evidence is simply too complex to lay out? I hear this excuse all the time.

  • goyo

    Mr. Feheley:
    Another scenario: You go back and find this intelligent person and tell him that in addition to the elements, there is also a scientific reason for the seasons changing, volcanoes exploding, earthquakes occurring…that the sun will return after an eclipse, and that the earth actually goes around the sun…all of the things he fears and doesn’t understand, are actually explainable by scientific observation.
    Guess what? If he understands that and comes to the conclusion that there is no deity to appease, you get to stone him to death for his unbelief.

  • Jerry Feheley

    It was nice to see comments but I was sad to see that they were addressing me with what appeared to be an attitude. I meant only to bring up an interesting point that has crossed my mind over the years. I only meant it as a respectful comment toward the majestic Universe. Your answers were as though I was trying to disprove atheism or that I was suggesting some pie in the sky god which I was not doing. I was using a person from the past to simply make a point. I imagined this person as someone who would shun organized religion. A person who was seeking truth like Aristotle. I only meant to say what a person seeking truth like Aristotle might think when hearing about the elements. I don’t see superstition with this thought. I could state my point in another way for today and not in the past. It is simply interesting that the elements are there and can be used by humans to build wonderous things. I know it can all be explained but that doesn’t take away the fantastic idea that the elements are there in the first place. The Universe itself doesn’t need the elements and Suns don’t need the elements just hydrogen but when stars use up the hydrogen they go on to create the elements and then with a supernova spread them throughout the Universe. Some of the elements are of course needed to make life and then human life can use the elements for endless wonders. This is an interesting thing the Universe does.

    Is life an accident is one question that is logical to ask. The other side of this question is could it be that life was meant to be. Is there any evidence that might point in that direction. If life is just an accident it would suggest to me a disrespect to the Universe. I don’t mean to suggest some God like organized religion meaning here. A Universe without life would be a colossal waste. A Universe with human life would be much better. Without humans there would be no awareness of stars, galaxies, all the wonders of the Universe, a sunset, a cute kitty.. humans give meaning to everything. I am not trying to say this is the truth but simply saying that is it possible for the Universe in all its wonders to possess rules to create life and ultimately human life to know itself. I see lots of things that point in that direction. I simply brought one up that maybe does. I didn’t bring other observations up not as an excuse but I didn’t feel like spending to much time writing and maybe no one cares to hear them.

    I have discussed this subject with many people (usually other atheists) and just played around with the idea. Why is it that so many atheists shun organized religion (as I also have done) and then be so negative about everything. I don’t say this so we can take swips at each other but it sometimes seems that way. “The Universe is so big it makes me feel insignificant,” people say over and over. I don’t feel that way. I take Einsteins relativity and reverse this thought. Looking inward at the atom we can realize that we are truly gigantic magnificent wondrous beings. I am just simple proposing an interesting positive thought with hopes of thoughtful respectful comments with constructive opinions either for or against. I ran across this site and thought I might throw out some of my thoughts and learn something from other thinkers. If any of what I have said sounds rude I truly don’t mean it that way. I am just saying if the Universe has constructed itself to have life, how interesting. Can there be any evidence to show this or point in that direction?

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Mr. Feheley,

    It was nice to see comments but I was sad to see that they were addressing me with what appeared to be an attitude.

    I admit to a little bit of snark, but c’mon. Did you really think that was evidence for your position? That’s how you presented it.

    This is an interesting thing the Universe does.

    And it lends no evidence to the idea that we are here on purpose or that any god exists.

    The other side of this question is could it be that life was meant to be. Is there any evidence that might point in that direction.

    At this point, no, there is no evidence unless one makes invalid assumptions.

    If life is just an accident it would suggest to me a disrespect to the Universe.

    The universe is not a sentient being, so it’s pretty hard to disrespect it.

    A Universe without life would be a colossal waste. A Universe with human life would be much better.

    Aside from the anthropomorphic leanings, the universe cares not one whit whether humans are here or not.

    Without humans there would be no awareness of stars, galaxies, all the wonders of the Universe, a sunset, a cute kitty.. humans give meaning to everything.

    No, we don’t. We ascribe our own meaning to things. Why humans? Why not some other creature?

    I am not trying to say this is the truth but simply saying that is it possible for the Universe in all its wonders to possess rules to create life and ultimately human life to know itself.

    Yes, it is possible, but there’s no evidence for it. I could postulate all kinds of things that may sound interesting, but in the absence of evidence, they are all just empty.

    I see lots of things that point in that direction. I simply brought one up that maybe does.

    No, you didn’t.

    Why is it that so many atheists shun organized religion (as I also have done) and then be so negative about everything.

    Evidence pls? Most atheists I know are not negative about everything. This is simply a characterization of atheists, that we must be nihilistic and full of hate, etc.

    I am just simple proposing an interesting positive thought with hopes of thoughtful respectful comments with constructive opinions either for or against.

    Honestly, I don’t find your thought interesting at all…no offense. It’s been said and done a million times already; you are certainly not the first. People have been postulating that humans were inevitable products of the universe for thousands of years, yet none of them have ever brought any sort of evidence to back up their claims. What would be interesting is if you actually presented some evidence.

    Can there be any evidence to show this or point in that direction?

    I’m not aware of any. Earlier, you sounded as if you had some and now it sounds as if you are asking if there is any?

  • Steve Bowen

    Some of the elements are of course needed to make life and then human life can use the elements for endless wonders. This is an interesting thing the Universe does.

    Jerry, this is usually explained with reference to the “anthropic principle or the old story about the puddle that is surprised to find it lives in a hole exactly the right shape. One theory states that at the big bang or whatever an all but infinite number of universes were created. We, unsurprisingly occupy one that allows for the existance of intelligent life, the vast majority may well be lifeless, lack all of the elements we are familiar with or may have different but equally complex internal structures.

  • Trung

    Well said, truly well said. Almost brings a tear to my eye.

  • Jerry Feheley

    Hi OMGF,

    I can see by your answers that you totaly missed the point that I was trying to make. All your stated answers were to a wrong interpretation of my meaning. My original statement, “Humans are the Universe understanding itself,” is very profound. Did you think about that statement? Over the years I have always received profound complements for it. To me it sums up mankinds religious quest. It is an original statement that I thought of in the 1960′s. I have been a musician all my life and I was playing in a club in Manhatten Beach California when I had this thought based upon years of reading science manuals and studying astronomy and music in college. I am 73, the same age as Carl Sagan would have been, and who incedently made a similar statement in the 1980′s. The idea that the Universe exists for life is not some off the wall idea but is often discussed in the scientific world. I can now see by your answers that you know nothing about the elements or astronomy. I am sure you know the names of a few elements but are not aware of the structure and design of them. I suggest you read “At The Heart if the Web” by George Seielstad (The Inevitable Genesis of Life) to get an understanding of the chemestry of the elements and how the neutrons, electrons etc. connect the elements to become things. Especially the carbon atom and how it appears to be designed to create life (among other things).

    You have taken the road so many take. Humanity is this meaningless speck in the cosmos. You chose to ignore my statement (and a meaningful one) that looking inward toward the atom shows that humanity (and all of life) not as a meaningless spec but something so majestic, unbelievably gigantic and complex that only the mysteries of the Universe could create it.

    We never did get into all the scientific discoveries that suggest the Universe exists to create life (if one chooses to use them for that purpose). I would ask you, sir. Why would the Universe exist without life? What would be the purpose?

    You want a simple fact of evidence that the Universe exists to have life. Something that you can prove and see with your own eyes. Here it is.

    The Universe exists and it has created life.

    I rest my case.

    Hey, if you want to hear some of my music go to http://www.soundclick.com/jerryfeheley

  • goyo

    Hey Jerry: I just checked you out, and I really enjoyed your music. I am a fellow musician (guitar), and “My Favorite Things” is one of my favorite tunes to play.
    I’ll contact you later through that email to talk to you further about your music.
    So are you an atheist, deist, or what? It’s kind of hard to tell from your comments.

  • OMGF

    Mr. Feheley,

    My original statement, “Humans are the Universe understanding itself,” is very profound.

    I disagree, but it’s very humble of you to claim how great your views are.

    To me it sums up mankinds religious quest.

    No, mankinds religious quest is for us to explain the universe to ourselves. Unfortunately, religious thought has made zero progress on this score. Science, however, has made significant progress, which is why people (like you) try to co-opt science as somehow explaining your religious thoughts.

    It is an original statement that I thought of in the 1960′s.

    You may have come up with this specific statement, but I fail to see how it differs from many other religious thoughts throughout the years. We’ve been trying to figure out why we are here for thousands of years.

    I can now see by your answers that you know nothing about the elements or astronomy.

    What specifically did I say that leads you to that conclusion? The only think I can see is that I disagreed with your unsupported assertions that the universe is here to create us. From this end, it’s you who is talking about things which you don’t understand, but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt…just show me.

    Especially the carbon atom and how it appears to be designed to create life (among other things).

    Only to those who already have a pre-disposed notion that life isn’t an accident. Perhaps you are misinterpreting Fred Hoyle’s discovery of Carbon 14?

    You chose to ignore my statement (and a meaningful one) that looking inward toward the atom shows that humanity (and all of life) not as a meaningless spec but something so majestic, unbelievably gigantic and complex that only the mysteries of the Universe could create it.

    There you go again with that wonderful humility…Anyway, don’t jump to conclusions about my position without understanding it. What I’ve said is that the universe is under to obligation to us, either to create us or sustain us.

    We never did get into all the scientific discoveries that suggest the Universe exists to create life (if one chooses to use them for that purpose). I would ask you, sir. Why would the Universe exist without life? What would be the purpose?

    You are begging the question. There is no intrinsic need that there be a purpose.

    You want a simple fact of evidence that the Universe exists to have life. Something that you can prove and see with your own eyes. Here it is.

    The Universe exists and it has created life.

    I rest my case.

    So, we are here on purpose because we are here? C’mon. Look, I’m not trying to be a jackass here, I just want some real evidence for your position. If you are going to present “profound” thoughts, I’d like for you to actually give some evidence for your position. Do you understand why this does not constitute evidence? It is, once again, begging the question.

  • Jerry Feheley

    I clicked on OMGF and it took me to your website. It appeared to me that you seem to belittle others that don’t think as you do but a lot of atheists do that. I don’t agree at all with Christians or any organized religions but I do realize that the average Christian person (not the Pat Robertsons of the world who do deserve a slap in the face)are people who (for whatever reason) are trying to do good but are on the wrong road to truth. When you first asked me for evidence I thought that was a valid and welcome question. I tried to give an analogy of a thought on the elements and stated that I had many other thoughts that pointed to the Universe existing for life. You totally missed my point and said something about ancient superstitution. Nothing wrong with that on your part, we all can miss the point. You then said that I claimed to have other points but didn’t state them and that you have heard that excuse before. My point here is that your whole attitude in your responce was really just rude. I thought it proper to give one idea and express more if someone wanted to hear more. You could have said the same thing in a polite way. Perhaps you could have said, “your going back in time seems to have superstition involved and I can’t agree with that. Perhaps I am not understanding you. What are some of your other points?” We might have had a nice discussion. Your attitude pulled us from the subject I attempted to discuss and now I realize I have said things I wish I never said. I would like to apologize to you because I ended up saying things to you that were rude, not right and not true.

    I don’t think we should discuss anything anymore and this will be my last comment. I am not afraid to say to someone, that’s a good point. I am not afraid to change my whole opinion about something if a valid argument suggest I do so. I am not saying this because I think I have said anything extraordinary. That’s the point, we never said anything about the subject I brought up. Your comments to me were more of a put down than polite inquisitive questioning. I even tried to say of all the things I said at least this is a meaningful statement and that is referring to something that even an editor of an atheist magazine recently said to me, “that is very good.” I couldn’t even get you to say, ehh, maybe it’s interesting. All you would say is I was showing my wonderful humility again. I was trying to convince myself that at least you could make a fair comment. I am sorry to say this but it is very hard for me to imagine you ever saying, “That’s a good point.”

    I am sorry you never got to hear my reasoning. I might have been able to strengthen and refine them if we had discussed them.

    Sincerely,

    Jerry

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Mr. Feheley,

    I clicked on OMGF and it took me to your website. It appeared to me that you seem to belittle others that don’t think as you do but a lot of atheists do that.

    Where have I belittled others? Please provide evidence, as well as evidence that “a lot of atheists do that [belittle others].” I doubt that you will be able to.

    When you first asked me for evidence I thought that was a valid and welcome question.

    It still is and should be.

    I tried to give an analogy of a thought on the elements and stated that I had many other thoughts that pointed to the Universe existing for life.

    But no evidence. Why did you not provide any evidence if you thought my request was “valid and welcome?”

    You totally missed my point and said something about ancient superstitution.

    Whether that was your point or not, you presented – as evidence – a situation where some person from the past would agree with you that things looked designed. So what? Is that not an argument from tradition, especially the traditions of superstition?

    You then said that I claimed to have other points but didn’t state them and that you have heard that excuse before. My point here is that your whole attitude in your responce was really just rude.

    You did claim to have lots of evidence and when asked for it, you demurred. Why?

    Your attitude pulled us from the subject I attempted to discuss and now I realize I have said things I wish I never said.

    Are you blaming me for what you said?

    I would like to apologize to you because I ended up saying things to you that were rude, not right and not true.

    Apology accepted, but completely unnecessary. I’m not taking things personally.

    I am not afraid to say to someone, that’s a good point. I am not afraid to change my whole opinion about something if a valid argument suggest I do so.

    Are my arguments invalid if they offend you?

    That’s the point, we never said anything about the subject I brought up.

    Because you aren’t presenting evidence for your position. You still aren’t.

    Your comments to me were more of a put down than polite inquisitive questioning.

    If pointing out that you aren’t presenting evidence is a putdown, then guilty as charged. Whenever someone challenges your assertions, are you similarly offended?

    I couldn’t even get you to say, ehh, maybe it’s interesting. All you would say is I was showing my wonderful humility again.

    Are you looking to have a conversation/discussion, to have your ideas challenged, or to simply have people stroke your ego?

    was trying to convince myself that at least you could make a fair comment.

    Ah, so I’m not being fair unless I tell you how great your thoughts are? Nice.

    I am sorry to say this but it is very hard for me to imagine you ever saying, “That’s a good point.”

    Make a good point and you’ll hear it. Show me the evidence that you say you have tons of. All I’ve seen so far from you is grandiose claims and nothing to back them up, then a bunch of lamenting that fact that I don’t think your claims are special.

    I am sorry you never got to hear my reasoning. I might have been able to strengthen and refine them if we had discussed them.

    No you’re not, because you wouldn’t get the validation that you’re looking for from me because I’m not swallowing your mumbo jumbo uncritically. If you want to get somewhere with me (and most other people on this blog if I can speak for them) then you’ve got to back up your arguments with substance; something you’ve been unwilling and/or unable to do.

  • Jerry Feheley

    Hi goyo,

    I’m glad you liked my music. Is there any website or can you send me some MP3′s so I can hear some of your guitar playing. I had a Duo with a guitar player in So. California several years ago. We did pretty good together. We played on a cruise for a while and sailed through the Panama Canel and all around the Caribian Islands. Lately I’ve thought of teaming up with a guitar player again for a Duo. Are you a full time musician. I’ve been playing music all my life, never had a day job and it has been great. Please feel free to email me like you said. We can talk some more. You asked if I was an atheist because it was had to tell from my comments. Yeah I am an atheist. I kind of got off track on this blog. There are a couple other atheist sites I go to regularly (I ran across this one by chance). One of the sites has a atheist magazine. I sent them some quotes and short essays recently and they are going to publish them in the magazine. Hey, email me from the soundclick website and we can talk more.

  • I.

    The universe’s purpose being us humans, so we can understand, observe and assign meaning to it sounds nice, but things aren’t true because they make us feel special. The universe isn’t a sentient being, it has no conscience, so it can’t have or assign purpose to things (be they dead or alive).

    And even if it did posses some sort of intelligence, enough to be capable of creating “things” to fulfill certain purposes, then it would also be able to understand itself and it wouldn’t need us, would it?

  • Jerry Feheley

    Perhaps this webpage says in more explicit detail what I was trying to say with simplicity.

    http://www.discovery.org/a/2177