The Hopelessness of Life Without Cupid

Inspired by an analogy invented by Daniel Dennett, I have some thoughts for the benefit of those who believe that an atheist’s life must necessarily be meaningless and nihilistic.

Imagine that there’s a society which, instead of God, believes in Cupid. This is the Cupid of Greek mythology, as co-opted by greeting card companies: the rosy-cheeked cherub with tiny wings, who flutters around firing magical arrows into people’s hearts that make them fall in love. Imagine that people in this society were genuinely, wholeheartedly convinced of the existence of Cupid; they build altars in his honor, sing his praises every week, and feel extremely devoted and thankful to him for conferring upon them a feeling as joyous and wonderful as love.

Now imagine that this society, like ours, has its skeptics. These skeptics note that Cupid cannot be seen and leaves no evidence of his presence. They notice that people who are extremely ill-suited for each other sometimes fall in love, which would cast some doubt on Cupid’s wisdom and benevolence even if he did exist. And, finally, they observe that love appears to be a neurological phenomenon whose antecedents can be detected in the physical functioning of human brains. Some of these people finally come to doubt the widely held assumption of their society, and conclude that, in reality, it’s highly probable that no such being as Cupid exists.

What is the rational next step for doubters of Cupid? Cupidian apologists will be only too happy to tell them: “If you don’t believe in Cupid, then you must believe that love is a superstitious delusion and doesn’t really exist! What a bleak and miserable worldview that is! You may try to convince yourself otherwise, but we all know that love does exist, and that it’s a wonderful and beautiful feeling that gives meaning to our lives. The fact that love exists is proof of Cupid’s existence, and you’re being ignorant and unreasonable to say otherwise.”

In this scenario, the fallacy should be clear. Disbelief in Cupid does not require a person to disbelieve in love. On the contrary, even a Cupid skeptic can and most likely will agree that love exists, that it’s a wonderful feeling and that it confers meaning on our lives. One can maintain this even while believing that love is a neurochemical phenomenon occurring within our brains, not the result of invisible magic arrows. All these skeptics say to society is that love is not caused by what they always thought it was caused by. They agree with everyone else about the effect; they simply differ about the cause.

Why would denying the existence of Cupid rob love of its power? I may love my partner because she’s kind and compassionate to me, because she’s been there for me in times of trouble, because we enjoy similar activities, because she selflessly gives of herself to make me happy, because I’ve grown close to her so that her happiness is bound up with my own. These are all perfectly sufficient and rational reasons to fall in love, and don’t need the blessing of magic arrows to confer validity on them. The fact that love is grounded in material reasons rather than supernatural causes doesn’t make it any less real or less true.

The situation is the same in our world. Too often, religious apologists seek to take credit for love, happiness, purpose and other desirable qualities by asserting that God causes them, and then claiming that to deny the cause is to deny the effect. Not so. We acknowledge the effect, but propose a different cause. We still find meaning in all the other things that give life meaning – in friendship and community, in exploring and learning about the world, in applying our skills and our minds to worthwhile endeavors. We just don’t believe that a supernatural being is required to confer meaning on these endeavors when they are already meaningful in themselves. Anyone who acknowledges that denying Cupid is not the same thing as denying love itself should take the next step and recognize that atheists can and do affirm life and all it offers without any necessity of believing in a hidden supernatural being that undergirds it all.

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.

  • Kiefer

    Just one minor quibble, Ebonmuse. Cupid is Roman, not Greek.

  • http://intrinsicallyknotted.wordpress.com Susan B.

    At least you’d have slightly more justification for saying “Cupid is love” than “God is love”. It still does raise the question of how an abstract emotional state and neurochemical phenomenon is capable of firing weapons, though.

  • http://lostaddress.org Ray

    Good article and great analogy. It does make me wonder what a Cupidian Rapture festival would look like and how one would get tickets :)

  • http://www.thegreenatheist.com TGA

    Great analogy, brilliant.

  • http://www.yunshui.wordpress.com yunshui

    I don’t believe in Bacchus. Does that make me incapable of enjoying a good Burgundy?

    Excellent post. It’s a shame we don’t have a society which worships Cupid; I imagine it would be far more pleasant than the one we have now…

  • valhar2000

    I don’t believe in Bacchus. Does that make me incapable of enjoying a good Burgundy?

    Yes. You may think that you are enjoying a Burgundy without Bacchus, but really you are just using the Bacchuss given ability to enjoy Burgundy that believers acknowledge but you perversely insist in denying.

    Similarly, when you fall in love, you are being affected by Cupid’s arrow: you just hide the arrow under a layer of arrogance, you disgusting little bastard! Hey! Don’t be so angry, man! See what happens when you don’t have Cupid in your life? You only feel negative emotions…

  • http://www.xanga.com/andrea_thatonegirl TheNerd

    What we have here is the Battered Person Syndrom.

    According to Wikipedia: In lay terms, this is a reference to any person who, because of constant and severe domestic violence usually involving physical abuse by a partner, becomes depressed and unable to take any independent action that would allow him or her to escape the abuse. The condition explains why abused people often do not seek assistance from others, fight their abuser, or leave the abusive situation. Sufferers have low self-esteem, and often believe that the abuse is their fault. Such persons usually refuse to press criminal charges against their abuser, and refuse all offers of help, often becoming aggressive or abusive to others who attempt to offer assistance. Often sufferers will even seek out their very abuser for comfort shortly after an incident of abuse.

    Domestic violence is defined as coming in many forms including physical violence, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, intimidation, economic deprivation or threats of violence.

    Emotional/Psychological abuse can include humiliating the victim, controlling what the victim can and cannot do, withholding information from the victim, deliberately doing something to make the victim feel diminished or embarrassed, isolating the victim from friends and family, and denying the victim access to money or other basic resources.

    If a believer of any faith is constantly being threatened with hellfire, he/she loses the ablility to judge the true sources of their joys or sorrows. “Without God, I am nothing” becomes the mantra of the Christian. Is life rich and bountiful? Praise God! Are times hard and seemingly hopeless? My faith in God must be increased. This is clearly the result of emotional abuse within the religion.

    Having been on the receiving end of childhood punishments for such “sins” as reading a book on world religions, not wanting to attend a church service, and being in a boy’s bedroom (even with the door open), I can attest to the long-term psychological damage this kind of thinking creates.

    So when a person becomes emotionally dependant on God, he/she can no longer see how anyone can live without God. The minute one admits that goodness and love can exist independant of a god, is the minute one’s psycological protections against the reality of the emotional abuse comes crashing down. Without that protective illusion, the very basis of that person’s faith in God ceases to make sense.

  • Christopher

    Ebonmuse,

    “I have some thoughts for the benefit of those who believe that an atheist’s life must necessarily be meaningless and nihilistic.”

    Even if it were the case that all Atheists must be Nihilists, why is that such a “bad” thing? I fail to see why people are so hung up on this idea of intrinsic value: are they really that commited to upholding their imaginary constructs (such as “truth,”"justice” or “peace”) that they can’t imagine a world without them, or are they simply too scared of what may happen next upon releasing them back into the void from whence they came? Has it even crossed your mind that there are some people who actually don’t need them to give purpose to their existence?

    I’m not asking you to change your mind: only to consider the idea that life without intrinsic value can still have meaning – even if only to the individual living it. And to me, that’s all that really matters when all is said and done anyway…

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    Great analogy. I actually think its best application is with ethics. People argue that ethics have no meaning if they weren’t given to us metaphysically by God but instead evolved physically in our brains. I think this analogy is neat way of countering that.

  • bestonnet

    Well life doesn’t have any intrinsic value, nothing does.

    That doesn’t lessen the value that we do create though (and in fact may increase it since we ourselves are the ones who choose what is important in life, not some fictional character).

  • Robert Madewell

    Great post. Just because I don’t believe in Thor doesn’t mean I deny the existence of lightning. I just believe that lightning has another cause that does not rely on the supernatural.

    Of course life has value. Life has value to those of us who are alive!

  • Jennifer A. Burdoo

    I like this very much. Something you did not explicitly mention (but comes out in the final paragraph) is something that occurred to me as I read it — a fine reply to the “your life must be meaningless” question. My response, from now on, will be:

    “On the contrary. I find joy and meaning in all the same things you do. I simply ascribe a different cause to them. A cause, I should point out, that I can prove exists.”

    Robert: Well put!

  • SteveC

    Christopher said, “Even if it were the case that all Atheists must be Nihilists, why is that such a “bad” thing?”

    Taking that a bit further, suppose that all atheists were invariably nihilists, and further, suppose that that was always a bad thing. What bearing would it have on whether or not the atheists are _correct_? None. It is an appeal to consequences, which is a logical fallacy.

  • Christopher

    bstonnet,

    “Well life doesn’t have any intrinsic value, nothing does.

    That doesn’t lessen the value that we do create though (and in fact may increase it since we ourselves are the ones who choose what is important in life, not some fictional character).”

    I suppose that some one can ascribe more value to a thing then what it’s supposed intrinsic value is, but it would be disingenuous to assume that a lack of intrinsci value = more value. Aside from that little split hair, I tend to agree with you statement.

    SteveC,

    “Taking that a bit further, suppose that all atheists were invariably nihilists, and further, suppose that that was always a bad thing. What bearing would it have on whether or not the atheists are _correct_? None. It is an appeal to consequences, which is a logical fallacy.”

    Your logic is correct, but it seems to talk past the issue at hand – whether Nihilism is “bad” or not (personally, I say the answer is no – but then again I am a Nihilist, so my opinion may be biased). Ebonmuse has wrote a diatribe against it in the past and made reference to that work at the beginning of this article – implying that somehow Nihilism is in and of itself a “bad” thing. But, both then and now, he has failed to make a case for *why* it is “bad” in the first place.

    BTW: to expound on your comment, just as not all Atheists are Nihilists not all Nihilists are Atheists – as a belief in a “god” doesn’t necissarily entail a belief in intrinsic value (as some theists actually believe divinity to be a transcinet quality that decays over time – Mishima would be a good example of this). But as you said, even if Nihilism is “bad” it says nothing about its correctness or lack thereof…

  • Christopher

    Spelling: “transcient”

  • http://www.originalfaith.com/ Paul Maurice Martin

    I wonder if the major sticking point between theists and atheists might not be the matter of mortality. I suspect that most theists would find love, happiness, learning etc. less meaningful in a context where some larger energy or entity wasn’t conceived as keeping these good things from simply being permanently snuffed out after a short shelf life. They might view this as kind of like enjoying the breeze on a hot day after jumping off a tall building.

  • http://taitoday.blogspot.com/ Ennis

    Two thoughts. One, where do you suppose the ability to recognize the beauty of life and enjoy purpose came from. These are personal qualities. Can they be supplied through impersonal mechanical processes such as evolution or would the presents of these qualities presuppose a higher personal being Who engineered it in our make up. Animal life sure doesn’t demonstrate the same capacity for the appreciation of life and the love they show is a response not a choice.

    Secondly, Voltaire believed as you do and was very vocal about it during his life. It was only in the end that he recognized his folly.

  • http://taitoday.blogspot.com/ Ennis

    One more thouht (to TheNerd). Don’t confuse the actions of people with the intentions of God. We don’t blame the president when the police abuse people do we? Believers in God are admittedly and notoriously flawed. Those flaws, unfortunately, don’t dissipate by believing but they don’t deny God either. God is love. Believers are not. Believing doesn’t make me God (or completely God-like) any more than voting makes me like the person I vote for.

  • bestonnet

    Christopher:

    I suppose that some one can ascribe more value to a thing then what it’s supposed intrinsic value is, but it would be disingenuous to assume that a lack of intrinsci value = more value. Aside from that little split hair, I tend to agree with you statement.

    The value something has is what we decide it has, thinking through a bit more I think that being conscious of that fact would make us more honest in our value assessments than if we just assumed that intrinsic value did exist.

    Paul Maurice Martin:

    I wonder if the major sticking point between theists and atheists might not be the matter of mortality.

    It’s hard to say what the major sticking point(s) is though I suspect that is part of it. We’ll probably find out how much the afterlife means to religion if transhumanism succeeds.

    Ennis:

    Two thoughts. One, where do you suppose the ability to recognize the beauty of life and enjoy purpose came from. These are personal qualities. Can they be supplied through impersonal mechanical processes such as evolution or would the presents of these qualities presuppose a higher personal being Who engineered it in our make up. Animal life sure doesn’t demonstrate the same capacity for the appreciation of life and the love they show is a response not a choice.

    If those qualities increase the chance of survival to reproduction then should they appear evolution will tend to select for them and that is probably exactly what happened.

    BTW: Who created God?

    Ennis:

    One more thouht (to TheNerd). Don’t confuse the actions of people with the intentions of God. We don’t blame the president when the police abuse people do we? Believers in God are admittedly and notoriously flawed. Those flaws, unfortunately, don’t dissipate by believing but they don’t deny God either. God is love. Believers are not. Believing doesn’t make me God (or completely God-like) any more than voting makes me like the person I vote for.

    The problem we have here is that the God of the Christians is a flawed person (it would be more accurate to describe it as hate not love), in fact most believers are better people than the God they worship.

  • Robert Madewell

    bestonnet said:

    The problem we have here is that the God of the Christians is a flawed person (it would be more accurate to describe it as hate not love), in fact most believers are better people than the God they worship.

    My point for a long time. Not only is the christian god flawed, but at times he seems to have the mentality of an abusive husband/father. A good point also is that most christians have better morals than their god. Most christians wouldn’t stone a disobediant child (Dueteronomy 21:18-21). Most christians would not support slavery (the bible condones slavery as long as it is done by the rules). Most christians are horrified by genocide (God commands genocide several times in the bible, and revelations depicts Jesus as commiting genocide in the future. Revelations 2:23).

  • SteveC

    Christopher wrote “Your logic is correct, but it seems to talk past the issue at hand.”

    Yes, you’re right, it does talk past the issue at hand. I only mention it because only rarely do people manage to get past the point of insisting “there is too meaning without god!” in these sorts of discussions. So I thought I’d blow right on past it, as it’s a point a lot of people don’t seem to be aware of, that’s all. When people get in a debate about, say, whether or not Christianity is true, and the Christian brings this up (“your world view makes life meaningless!”, or whatever variant of that,) this “issue at hand,” is actually a derailing of such a discussion, which few people seem to realize. So I thought I’d mention it. If, in such a situation, you don’t want to get bogged down in the tar pit of ambiguity and chuckleheadedness that is encased in the ridiculous words “meaning of life,” the way out is to point out that it is simply not relevant.

  • http://thechapel.wordpress.com the chaplain

    I’m really disappointed that you don’t believe in Cupid. :(

  • http://taitoday.blogspot.com/ Ennis

    Christopher, how reasonable is it to acknowledge the flaws of a person you don’t believe exists?

  • Mrnaglfar

    Ennis,

    Christopher, how reasonable is it to acknowledge the flaws of a person you don’t believe exists?

    It’s a moment of entertaining the idea. Like saying “I don’t believe in any of that, but just assuming for a moment such a being exists as you describe it etc etc”.

    Two thoughts. One, where do you suppose the ability to recognize the beauty of life and enjoy purpose came from. These are personal qualities. Can they be supplied through impersonal mechanical processes such as evolution or would the presents of these qualities presuppose a higher personal being Who engineered it in our make up. Animal life sure doesn’t demonstrate the same capacity for the appreciation of life and the love they show is a response not a choice.

    First of all, how do you know animals don’t show the same capacity for appreciating life?
    As for could they be supplied by evolution; absolutely. Of course I would say more generally it’s the capacity for the appreciation of beauty in members of our own species that could then translate onto other things. There are readily apparent benefits to being able to distinguish beauty
    But since you mentioned purpose I’d be curious to hear what you feel the purpose of your life is.
    I’d also be curious for you to describe to me how an all powerful, all knowing, intelligent, creative, purposeful, immortal and so on, being like a god would just manage to appear by what could be considered the ultimate random chance.

  • Robert Madewell

    Ennis said:

    Christopher, how reasonable is it to acknowledge the flaws of a person you don’t believe exists?

    How reasonable is it to acknowledge the flaws of a person you can’t prove exists (other than with personal testimony)?

    It’s a thought experiment that’s all. Someone who can’t argue the flaws of a being that they don’t believe in, has little imagination. Ennis, you’d be able to read about Zues and then discuss the flaws (and virtues) of that imaginary being. Same with us. Atheism didn’t suck the imagination out of us. However, I do wonder if indoctrination sucks the imagination out of fundies. Do you ever look at the clouds in the sky and wonder how they got there? Would you go to the library and read a book about clouds? Look up clouds on wikipedia? Or would you just block it out of your mind and say “God-dun-it!” and end your curiosity right there? I just can’t be unimaginative enough to be a christian. I want to learn. I love to exercise my imagination. “God-dun-it!” is just not a good enough explaination for me. It ends learning before it even starts.

  • bestonnet

    Ennis:

    how reasonable is it to acknowledge the flaws of a person you don’t believe exists?

    Didn’t you go to school because that’s done in pretty much every English class?

  • http://taitoday.blogspot.com/ Ennis

    Wow, I love this interaction.

    The argument in this particlar case is evidence of “existence.” How many of us argue the reality of Zues. He is very iteresting but not at all compelling. I don’t know of any meaningful or serious debates over the existence of Zues or Thor or whoever. From mythical characters we derive entertainment not guidance. No one really takes them seriously. What value they may add was already established. Would I be right in saying that you (Robert) know more about God in the Old Testament than about Zues? And if true, why?

    And what animal Mrnaglfar do you think has the capacity for creativity, abstract thought, or self determination? A human can become a doctor but a dog will always be a dog (they learn tricks only because we teach them). How can evolution produce these qualifies (every one of which are personal) if, in fact, evolution is not peraonal. And, please, I know that Christians sometimes act stupid and are often very shallow but generally they are thinking people. They feed their curiosity like any other person and they enjoy investigation. The bias they begin with is not worse than the bias of any other person. Everyone begins with a theory and at this point no particular theory has been proven absolutely not even yours. And, you might not know this but all the Ivy League Colleges were started and led by Christians. There are many great Christian thinkers in history. One last question. With all our study of the clouds why can’t we control the weather yet? Just kidding. I hope they find the answer.

    I’m sorry bestonet. Your comment went right over my head. I confess to being a little slow sometimes. Please explain

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

    Ennis,

    The argument in this particlar case is evidence of “existence.” How many of us argue the reality of Zues.

    Irrelevant. Simply because your particular god is currently in favor doesn’t mean that it has more evidence for it than Zeus does. It’s fallacious to assert that your god has some evidence for it simply because people talk about it.

    And what animal Mrnaglfar do you think has the capacity for creativity, abstract thought, or self determination? A human can become a doctor but a dog will always be a dog (they learn tricks only because we teach them).

    A doctor is a human, or are you implying that they aren’t? Either way, we know that animals feel love and compassion (apes hold wakes for dead members of their group for instance).

    How can evolution produce these qualifies (every one of which are personal) if, in fact, evolution is not peraonal.

    Your particular love for your mate or family or what-have-you may be personal to you, but it is not personal in the sense that all humans have these feelings, which are products of evolution. Mate selection is very much a product of evolution as is nurturing for our young.

    And, please, I know that Christians sometimes act stupid and are often very shallow but generally they are thinking people.

    There are many Xians who are intelligent, thoughtful people. They all have a blind-spot (IMO) when it comes to the illogical position they hold in respect to Xianity, however. I would also point out that there is a streak of anti-science (anti-intellectualism) in Xianity (anti-evolutionism, global warming denialism, etc).

    I’m sorry bestonet. Your comment went right over my head. I confess to being a little slow sometimes. Please explain

    In English class you were asked, at times, to critique the characters of novels you read. These characters were not people that actually existed, and I doubt that you believed that they exist. Yet, you were probably able to acknowledge their flaws, correct?

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    And, you might not know this but all the Ivy League Colleges were started and led by Christians.

    This is false. Andrew Dickson White, the co-founder of Cornell University, was a freethinker who published the famous book A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom. Among other things, this book describes “the tribal god of the Hebrews” as “one among many jealous, fitful, unseen, local sovereigns of Asia Minor”.

    Also, Ezra Cornell, the other co-founder, was born a Quaker but was excommunicated from that sect for marrying outside the faith. I know of no evidence that he later joined any other church.

  • Robert Madewell

    Ennis said,

    How many of us argue the reality of Zues. He is very iteresting but not at all compelling.

    Why would you assume that I would find Yahweh compelling (or interesting)? Just because you think the case for a particular god is compelling doesn’t mean I am required to. Yahweh and Zues are also contemporaries. Would Zues be more or less compelling to a Greek man in 300bc or a Jewish man in 300bc? It really depends on what god is currently in favor in the locale at the time. Keeping with the subject, I’m sure Cupid was more compelling than Yahweh to some romans.

    Would I be right in saying that you (Robert) know more about God in the Old Testament than about Zues?

    Yes, you are correct.

    And if true, why?

    Because, I was indoctrinated. I was born into an area where and a time when the christian god is worshiped. I, also, am the son of a baptist pastor. Because, as well, I have read the bible. All of it, not just the good parts.

    Just because, I was taught to be a christian, doesn’t make the christian god real. Just because I know more about Yahweh than Zues doesn’t make the case for Yahweh any more compelling than the case for Zues. You are just appealing to popularity and authority. Both of which are logical fallacies.

  • bestonnet

    Ennis:

    The argument in this particlar case is evidence of “existence.” How many of us argue the reality of Zues. He is very iteresting but not at all compelling. I don’t know of any meaningful or serious debates over the existence of Zues or Thor or whoever. From mythical characters we derive entertainment not guidance. No one really takes them seriously. What value they may add was already established.

    There actually are people who believe in Zeus (and they seem to be pretty serious).

    Besides, the evidence for Zeus is the same as the evidence for all the other gods that have been proposed.

    Ennis:

    There are many great Christian thinkers in history.

    Seems to be mostly in history that the great Christian thinkers lived.

    Ennis:

    I’m sorry bestonet. Your comment went right over my head. I confess to being a little slow sometimes. Please explain

    OMGF:

    In English class you were asked, at times, to critique the characters of novels you read. These characters were not people that actually existed, and I doubt that you believed that they exist. Yet, you were probably able to acknowledge their flaws, correct?

    Exactly.

  • http://www.skepticalmonkey.com Ted Goas

    I love Robert Madewell’s comment “Just because I know more about Yahweh than Zeus doesn’t make the case for Yahweh any more compelling than the case for Zeus. You are just appealing to popularity and authority.”

    Exactly! Christianity is a current religion. Worshiping Zeus, not so much. If a Hellenic polytheistic revivalist walked into, say, a Catholic church and tried pleading their case for the existence of the god Zeus, he or she might get laughed out of the building. But simply replace Zeus with God and Jesus, use the same logic, and it’s now accepted.

    Religions such as Christianity carry an aura of popularity and authority. Logic and reason don’t always need to factor in.

  • http://taitoday.blogspot.com/ Ennis

    OMGF said:

    Simply because your particular god is currently in favor

    How long is “currently?” The New Testament era began 2k years ago and was an extension of th Old (adding roughly another 2k yrs).

    A doctor is a human, or are you implying that they aren’t?

    Yes, doctors are human but human capacity for development is unparalleled in any other species. You and I are common because of our human-ness but we are indviduals because of divergent expressions of development. No animal comes close to this ability. They can’t even give expression to the concept, supposing, of course, that they can conceive it.

    Your particular love for your mate or family or what-have-you may be personal to you, but it is not personal in the sense that all humans have these feelings, which are products of evolution. Mate selection is very much a product of evolution as is nurturing for our young.

    Not all humans display these feelings. Expressing love can make you vulnerable and the fear factor is inhibting. But, I would like to believe that everyone has the ability and the need to express love on a personal level. An argument can be made against it but there is much to sustain the idea.

    And, I am not sure I would say humans “select” mates. We do make choices but it is more of a commitment than an impersonal mechanical procedure. A person may reject the traditional marriage scenario but as far as I know there are no successful “long term” variations.

    BTW I live in South Africa and have visited Kruger National Park on a few occasions. By my observatons (I am not a biologist) I would not be surprised if the life span of most animals is shortened by hypertension. From an animals perspective there can’t be too much beauty in nature.

    They (Xians) all have a blind-spot (IMO) when it comes to the illogical position they hold in respect to Xianity, however. I would also point out that there is a streak of anti-science (anti-intellectualism) in Xianity (anti-evolutionism, global warming denialism, etc).

    Your comments smack of the intolerance for which “Xians” are usually accused. Once again, I do admit that C’s have been bigoted, unreasonable and intolerant. I have been all of those things, admit it and am very sorry for it. But that is not an attitude peculiar to C’s. Whenever you have opinions so diametrically opposed the possibility for tolerance is resident in both sides. I will say this. You are willing to engage the arguments. Not every person on either side of this issue is willing to do so. (In fact, just for the record I have gotten more interaction with atheists over these issues than I ever do with C’s).

    Define “science” and once you have please demonstrate for me and anyone else watching a real evoluntionary progression in a lab. I admit readily that I, nor anyone else, could prove scientifically that I am created by God but I would be just as hard pressed to prove that it was an evolutionary process. The choice you make is not, strictly speaking, a matter of science. I do admit that Christians have often been unwilling to at least entertain an unusual idea or explanation of phenomenon but is the flaw of the C not C-anity.

    BTW I know many C’s thumb their nose at global warming but there are some, maybe many, who don’t. I, for one, think it is a serious problem.

    Ebonmuse said:

    This is false. Andrew Dickson White, the co-founder of Cornell University, was a freethinker who published the famous book A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom.

    My statement was incorrect (pls accept apologies) but it wasn’t false. Cornell was the last of eight Ivy League Colleges to be started and, yes, they were attempting a response to the Christian emphasis of the other colleges but the idea of higher education, exemplified in all these schools (even Cornell), was promoted first by very strict calvanistic Christian leaders. And, I would add, that these schools (even though the curriculum was biased toward the Bible they did not disallow dissenting opinions.

    Adonirum Judson, whose father was a Congregational minister, graduated from Brown Univ. in 1807 and was outspokenly atheist during his studies. He and several other students banned together, speaking and writig against the biblical emphasis, without recriminations and at the time these schools were calvanistic in the worst possibe way.

    BTW, Adonirum was a brilliant man. He did convert to Christianity later and eventually translated the entire Bible into the Burmese language.

    Point? The original trend for these institutions was Christian based.

    Robert Madewell said:

    Why would you assume that I would find Yahweh compelling (or interesting)? Just because you think the case for a particular god is compelling doesn’t mean I am required to.

    When I referred to God as compelling I was referring to His influence not His being right or wrong or even interesting. Compulsion is a response not a choice. The response of denial is no less an expression of compulsion than the response of belief. “God” generally as a concept is compelling and this blog is evidence of that. When sides are chosen compulsion is a factor. The “God of the Bible” is also compelling becaue His signature is found many places in human society. You will try to disprove that only because you are compelled to do so.

    It really depends on what god is currently in favor in the locale at the time.

    “Local” is a good word. The concept of god is everywere historically and geographically. That fact is not easily reasoned away. But Christianity did something which no other religion, to my knowledge, has done. In one generation it spread from Jerusalem, all over Palestine and to the greater part of the world.

    Now, as you will agree Christianity is distinguished with several principles that fly in the face of common life style choices (e.g. abortion, sex out of marriage, homosexuality etc. – I’m not arguing for or against, I am only stating the case). How did a religion with this prescriptive, without political support (it actually vied with politics – I don’t believe Zues did) manage to become so well established in such a short period of time? What made the idea of God popular? What makes Christianity so popular? Do you really think that every Christian is a silly fool? Do you really think that most people believe only because the powers that be insist on it. There is a lot evidence to contrary even today.

    bestonnet said:

    The evidence for Zeus is the same as the evidence for all the other gods that have been proposed.

    The only way to prove that is to study the details of each. Without that study you’re just speculating. Not very scientific.

    OMGF said and bestonnet agreed:

    In English class you were asked, at times, to critique the characters of novels you read. These characters were not people that actually existed, and I doubt that you believed that they exist. Yet, you were probably able to acknowledge their flaws, correct?

    First of all, I get the point bestonnet. Thanks for explaining. But, here is the question(s).

    Were any of those characters ever thought of as real? Not the ones we studied. They were fictitious creative illustrations of both good and bad qualities. And, did we ever think of these characters as revealers of truth? Not to my knowledge. Did the teacher or the student spend a lot of mental energy proving how fictitious they were? Not in my classes. The truth they captured was already in place and they were appealing, or not, based on how entertainingly they made their point.

    Did we ever crtique the characters solely on the story line? In other words was the story the source of truth? No. Illustration, yes. Source, No. We were only able to judge these characters based on an external well established standard of truth.

    God, however, claims to be revealing the truth not just giving us a creative pespective. Some may not want that to be so and digging it out will take more than a casual reading but that is what God claims (and many believe).

    I would be interested to know this. If you don’t think truth and ethics are revealed then do you think they evolved? Personally, that idea is a bit scary to me.

    Is there any particularly action or act of God that you think is unethical and why?

    Ted Goas said:

    Religions such as Christianity carry an aura of popularity and authority. Logic and reason don’t always need to factor in.

    Ted, no belief system is completely logical or reasonable, not even yours. Because this flaw exists in every system it can’t be used against any.

    In the end there is always an element of faith. We can obscure the faith factor with a lot of words but when the explanation is finished there is always another question.

    Why do you think Christianity carries the aura popluarity and authority?

    Signing off for now. Have a good read.

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

    Ennis,

    How long is “currently?” The New Testament era began 2k years ago and was an extension of th Old (adding roughly another 2k yrs).

    And other religions have been around for longer and still are around. Longevity of a bad idea doesn’t make the idea good.

    Yes, doctors are human but human capacity for development is unparalleled in any other species. You and I are common because of our human-ness but we are indviduals because of divergent expressions of development. No animal comes close to this ability. They can’t even give expression to the concept, supposing, of course, that they can conceive it.

    It is not development in a biological sense that leads to people being doctors. And, some animals do have division of labor, like lions, apes, etc.

    Not all humans display these feelings.

    Once again, that’s irrelevant. We all feel these emotions because we are social animals.

    And, I am not sure I would say humans “select” mates. We do make choices but it is more of a commitment than an impersonal mechanical procedure. A person may reject the traditional marriage scenario but as far as I know there are no successful “long term” variations.

    Mate selection is a specific term for how mates pair off, and there is a large amount of impersonal mechanism to it. You are attracted to certain types of people simply because of your chemical makeup. And, homosexuals who have been denied marriage are a good counterargument to your assertion that there are no long term variations to marriage. George Takai (of Star Trek fame) recently proposed to a man who he’s been with for 21 years. Even though they were barred from marriage, they stayed together all that time.

    Your comments smack of the intolerance for which “Xians” are usually accused.

    I don’t see how that is so. Theistic thought is based upon faulty logic, period. One has to assume one’s conclusion to even have the idea of god as an option. Further, it’s pretty well established (in this country at least) the anti-science streak that runs through some Xian thought. This is not even worth debating.

    Define “science” and once you have please demonstrate for me and anyone else watching a real evoluntionary progression in a lab.

    Science is the systematic study of the universe using the scientific method (simplistic version). Science need not necessarily be done in a “lab” but we still see evolution in lab and real-world environments. Take the chromosome fusion that led to humans having one less chromosomal pair than our ape ancestors for instance. This has been studied, verified, repeated, etc.

    I admit readily that I, nor anyone else, could prove scientifically that I am created by God but I would be just as hard pressed to prove that it was an evolutionary process.

    Prove to 100%? Science doesn’t work that way. Prove to the point where it’s ludicrous to disagree? Already done. Humans did arise through evolutionary processes. Are you really disputing that?

    The choice you make is not, strictly speaking, a matter of science.

    The choice is whether to be a science denialist in favor of unproven and unprovable assertions (unevidenced as well) or to accept the mountains of evidence in favor of evolution. There is only one rational path on this one.

    I do admit that Christians have often been unwilling to at least entertain an unusual idea or explanation of phenomenon but is the flaw of the C not C-anity.

    I disagree. When the brand of Xianity is teaching its supporters to deny science, then the teaching is most definitely at fault as well.

    The concept of god is everywere historically and geographically. That fact is not easily reasoned away.

    That humans have superstitions and are naturally inclined to look for patterns – even ones that aren’t there – is not hard to explain. There are even studies that show other animals have the same traits. And, simply because we have these tendencies doesn’t make god real.

    But Christianity did something which no other religion, to my knowledge, has done. In one generation it spread from Jerusalem, all over Palestine and to the greater part of the world.

    Only because the Roman emperor converted – it’s not mysterious or grand at all.

    Do you really think that every Christian is a silly fool?

    I believe that all theism is based on logical fallacy, but that doesn’t make the adherents into fools. It’s just that on this one issue they think illogically.

    Do you really think that most people believe only because the powers that be insist on it. There is a lot evidence to contrary even today.

    I’d like to know what that evidence is. I’d be willing to say that most people who are Xians are Xians because they were brought up as Xians, just as Muslim parents tend to have children who become Muslims.

    The only way to prove that is to study the details of each. Without that study you’re just speculating. Not very scientific.

    Or we could simply note that no god has ever actually had any evidence for it.

    I would be interested to know this. If you don’t think truth and ethics are revealed then do you think they evolved? Personally, that idea is a bit scary to me.

    It’s scary to you? That’s funny because it’s been pretty well demonstrated that our ethics and morals do evolve. If that were not the case, we’d still own slaves and our women.

    Is there any particularly action or act of God that you think is unethical and why?

    Genocide, hell, torture, ordered rapes, blaming the victim, etc. I don’t think I need to explain why I think these things are immoral.

    Ted, no belief system is completely logical or reasonable, not even yours.

    What is illogical or unreasonable about atheism?

    In the end there is always an element of faith.

    What faith do I have?

    Why do you think Christianity carries the aura popluarity and authority?

    Because we both happen to live in a Xian majority nation.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Ennis,

    The New Testament era began 2k years ago and was an extension of th Old (adding roughly another 2k yrs).

    Hinduism is older than that. And the Jews, who are still around, you know, would not agree with you that the New Testament is an “extension” of the Old.

    Define “science” and once you have please demonstrate for me and anyone else watching a real evoluntionary progression in a lab.

    Science is the study of the world through methodical testing of hypotheses and the gathering of empirical evidence. Evolutionary change has been observed in the lab many times, both in living beings and in computer simulations that use evolution as a design tool, frequently producing inventions that surpass the understanding of the programmers who wrote the simulation in the first place.

    …but the idea of higher education, exemplified in all these schools (even Cornell), was promoted first by very strict calvanistic Christian leaders.

    That’s probably because, at the time most of these schools were founded, the American colonies were still Christian theocracies where “blasphemy” was forbidden by law. It doesn’t prove much to outlaw the holding of any other belief and then notice that all the people who’re getting things done are professing Christians. That’s like shooting the players on the other team and then claiming the championship.

    The concept of god is everywere historically and geographically. That fact is not easily reasoned away.

    Actually, what’s “not easily reasoned away” is the fact that by far the large majority of cultures in human history were polytheist. Monotheism appears to be an isolated aberration, one that’s only arisen a handful of times throughout humanity’s existence. If you’re going to make your decision based on this line of reasoning, you should believe in many gods, not just one.

    But Christianity did something which no other religion, to my knowledge, has done. In one generation it spread from Jerusalem, all over Palestine and to the greater part of the world.

    Christianity did not spread to “the greater part of the world” in “one generation”. It took at least three hundred years before it was anything more than an isolated sect among many different belief systems in the Roman Empire, and only then, it grew largely because it caught the ear of an emperor. But if we’re discussing evangelistic success, Islam has done the same, and arguably grew even faster than Christianity did.

    Is there any particularly action or act of God that you think is unethical and why?

    If by “act of God” you mean “story recorded in the Bible”, then I recommend my essay A Book of Blood.

  • bestonnet

    Ennis:

    “Local” is a good word. The concept of god is everywere historically and geographically. That fact is not easily reasoned away. But Christianity did something which no other religion, to my knowledge, has done. In one generation it spread from Jerusalem, all over Palestine and to the greater part of the world.

    It took quite a bit longer than a single generation for that to happen (and Christianity was by no means the only religion of its type back then, it just got lucky and managed to get Constantine to convert to it).

    Ennis:

    How did a religion with this prescriptive, without political support (it actually vied with politics – I don’t believe Zues did) manage to become so well established in such a short period of time? What made the idea of God popular? What makes Christianity so popular?

    Give Christians special privileges and people will want to be a Christian.

    Force and economics are sufficient to explain most historical conversions to Christianity.

    Ennis:

    Do you really think that most people believe only because the powers that be insist on it. There is a lot evidence to contrary even today.

    Most people were converted because if they didn’t at least pretend to be Christians they’d be killed, after that they raised their children to be Christians who then raised their children as Christians and so on…

    Ennis:

    Were any of those characters ever thought of as real? Not the ones we studied. They were fictitious creative illustrations of both good and bad qualities. And, did we ever think of these characters as revealers of truth? Not to my knowledge.

    That’s how we think of God.

    Ennis:

    Did the teacher or the student spend a lot of mental energy proving how fictitious they were? Not in my classes. The truth they captured was already in place and they were appealing, or not, based on how entertainingly they made their point.

    Because in that case the students could tell the difference between fiction and reality.

    If there were children in the class who did think the characters were real then it would be proper for the teacher to correct them on that (and they should also correct any falsities in books that are “based on a true story”).

    Ennis:

    God, however, claims to be revealing the truth not just giving us a creative pespective.

    But gives us no reason to take the claim seriously.

    Ennis:

    Is there any particularly action or act of God that you think is unethical

    Pretty much the entire Bible.

    http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/inj/long.html
    http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/cruelty/long.html
    http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/int/long.html
    http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/fv/long.html
    http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/women/long.html
    http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/sex/long.htm
    http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/gay/long.htm

    Ennis:

    and why?

    Because it conflicts with my secular morality.

    Ennis:

    no belief system is completely logical or reasonable, not even yours. Because this flaw exists in every system it can’t be used against any.

    Maybe not but that doesn’t mean that some belief systems are more logical or reasonable than others.

    Ennis:

    Why do you think Christianity carries the aura popluarity and authority?

    Part of it is because we haven’t been opposing it enough and have been allowing Christians to have ‘harmless’ special privileges (i.e. we’ve taken the advise of Matt Nisbet a bit too seriously before he was even born).

  • Arch

    We acknowledge the effect, but propose a different cause. We still find meaning in all the other things that give life meaning – in friendship and community, in exploring and learning about the world, in applying our skills and our minds to worthwhile endeavors. We just don’t believe that a supernatural being is required to confer meaning on these endeavors when they are already meaningful in themselves.

    What is problematic is that you are not giving any rationale as to how or why love exists or why it is meaningful. What is the nature of love? What is the cause or origin of love? Did love will its own meaning? How did we attain the capacity to love and be loved?

  • bestonnet

    Ebonmuse:

    Christianity did not spread to “the greater part of the world” in “one generation”. It took at least three hundred years before it was anything more than an isolated sect among many different belief systems in the Roman Empire, and only then, it grew largely because it caught the ear of an emperor. But if we’re discussing evangelistic success, Islam has done the same, and arguably grew even faster than Christianity did.

    Continuing a discussion of evangelistic success atheism has expanded even faster despite very little in the way of actual attempts to deconvert people.

  • bestonnet

    Arch:

    What is problematic is that you are not giving any rationale as to how or why love exists or why it is meaningful. What is the nature of love? What is the cause or origin of love? Did love will its own meaning? How did we attain the capacity to love and be loved?

    It’s not like theists have an answer either.

    Ignorance is acceptable provided it is acknowledged and not just disguised with fairy tales.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    What is the cause or origin of love?

    As with other aspects of human psychology, love arose through evolution to facilitate pair bonding, the maintenance of extended families, and the protection of offspring.

    Did love will its own meaning?

    This is a nonsensical question. Love is an emotional sensation, not a conscious agent. It cannot will anything. It is meaningful because we consider it so.

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

    The thing about Arch’s questions is that he will continue to ask them as if they’ve never been answered. I’ve answered in similar ways as you Ebon, to similar questions and Arch plows on ahead as if we’ve never said anything, or says something along the lines that our answers aren’t serious enough.

    Arch, if you are serious about having a reasonable discussion, I suggest that you stop your previous tactics and actually engage the answers that have been supplied to you. I also suggest that you provide your answer to this question and tell us how it is any answer at all, considering that “goddidit” isn’t an explanation for anything.

  • Arch

    As with other aspects of human psychology, love arose through evolution to facilitate pair bonding, the maintenance of extended families, and the protection of offspring.

    What could deem pair bonding a good thing? How did existence gain a greater value than non existence? Or did it just happen to occur again–matter happened to mutate into human beings, and human beings mutated into beings that can love because love is a good thing… is that what you are saying? What evidence is there for love being part of evolution???

    Love is an emotional sensation

    That is in no way true. While our emotions are part of us and can be present when we love, there is no emotion that is synonymous with love. There can be situations in which the loving thing to do doesn’t bring about a good emotion. And human attraction is not love either. Emotions can change with the hours of the day, and an “emotion of love” does not last. Someone can also feel a “good” emotion and be using a person which is the farthest thing from love! Love is much stronger than an emotion or sentiment. Love is an act of the will.

    engage the answers that have been supplied to you.

    I’m asking you to do the same and you continue to respond with statements that are not adequate or not even arguments at all.

    I also suggest that you provide your answer to this question and tell us how it is any answer at all, considering that “goddidit” isn’t an explanation for anything.

    I am not arguing “God of the gaps”. I am saying that the atheist is irrational in denouncing the possibility that God exists. There is no rational, definitive proof that God did not create us, nor that God is not active in our world and our lives–yet here you speak of evolution definitively and denounce God without proof. You speak of all elements of the universe as matter that somehow evolved from crystals, cosmic slime, or some other element. Your rejection of the possibility of a Creator is what I find most problematic with your arguments.

  • bestonnet

    Arch:

    I am not arguing “God of the gaps”.

    I suspect that you are.

    Arch:

    I am saying that the atheist is irrational in denouncing the possibility that God exists.

    Define God. It is possible that a god exists but there is no evidence for it (thus making atheism reasonable) although there are many gods that can not possibly exist, your God may well be one.

    Arch:

    There is no rational, definitive proof that God did not create us, nor that God is not active in our world and our lives

    ∴ there is no reason to believe in God.

    Arch:

    yet here you speak of evolution definitively and denounce God without proof.

    Evolution is the definitive explanation for how complex life arose out of simple life.

    Besides, would you want to be forced to prove your innocence if you were accused of a crime?

    Arch:

    Your rejection of the possibility of a Creator is what I find most problematic with your arguments.

    Who created the creator?

  • Mrnaglfar

    Arch,

    What could deem pair bonding a good thing?

    Deem it a good thing? Bad language. It was selected for in species to varying degrees in large part dependant upon how reliant on the parents the offspring are, and in the other large part to how well reciprocial altruism benefits the species. In species for which both conditions are salient we get high levels of pair bonding (see humans and many birds for instance). In other species for which the mother cares for the infant on her own we see little pair bonding, and typically physiology and behaviors to match.

    How did existence gain a greater value than non existence?

    Nonsensical question; we just happen to value existance more because we exist.

    Now, compare the following two, back to back, points:

    What evidence is there for love being part of evolution???

    While our emotions are part of us and can be present when we love, there is no emotion that is synonymous with love.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love

    The problem here is not that love does not exist, rather that it’s definition is too broad. People may use the word love to mean several different experiences entirely that different words can also be suited for; in this sense love can mean sexual attraction, jealously, friendship, family bonds and so on.

    You’ll need to define your terms if you want specific answers

    There is no rational, definitive proof that God did not create us, nor that God is not active in our world and our lives–yet here you speak of evolution definitively and denounce God without proof.

    There’s plenty of evidence that speaks to your particular religion being wrong.

    There are plenty of definitions for what ‘god’ is to different people; far more definitions than what love is, making the term vague to the point of uselessness.

    There’s also no evidence that god DID create us or that god IS active in our lives; god, as data in the world, does not surpass the null hypothesis. That is to say there is no evidence whatsoever that god exists or effects the world. That statement, in and of itself, speaks volumes.

  • Christopher

    Ennis,

    “Christopher, how reasonable is it to acknowledge the flaws of a person you don’t believe exists?”

    Where in the hell did this question come from? I wasn’t talking about “god” in my previous posts, I was bringing up Ebonmuse’s contrarian position to Nihilism – in short, I pointed out that it was baseless as he condemns it as being “bad” without providing any reason for its “badness.” An evaluation of any “god” wasn’t even mentioned in my posts for this article.

    You may want to read the user names a little more closely before you begin to question points that were never raised in the first place…

  • Christopher

    BTW, Ebonmuse: feel free to provide some reasons for the “badness” of Nihilism anytime – assuming you have any.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Arch,
    Allow me to pile on just a bit. Mrnaglafar has already gone into greater depth about love and evolution, and I predict that you will continue to reject the answers given, just as you did with Ebon’s answers. Yet, you still continue to insist that you have some answer that you are unwilling to provide.

    I’m asking you to do the same and you continue to respond with statements that are not adequate or not even arguments at all.

    Which you know is false. We are engaging your arguments. If you personally don’t find the arguments adequate, then it is up to you to explain why instead of simply rejecting everything outright with no explanation and a huff.

    I am not arguing “God of the gaps”.

    Yes, you are. By not providing an answer of your own to your own questions when asked, and by loudly complaining that our answers are inadequate to you, you are hoping that the you will win the argument by default without having to bear any burden. That the supposed inadequacy of our arguments will allow you to walk away saying, “Well, since they can’t answer the argument, then god wins by default.” This is evident in the rest of your last paragraph where you insist that we have to find the idea of god feasible due to your insistence that we don’t have any answers, which is false in multiple ways in that we do have answers (even if you personally don’t accept them) and that god is not a default answer to anything.

    I am saying that the atheist is irrational in denouncing the possibility that God exists.

    Who here has done that?

    There is no rational, definitive proof that God did not create us, nor that God is not active in our world and our lives–yet here you speak of evolution definitively and denounce God without proof.

    There’s no rational, definitive proof that invisible, pink unicorns did not create us, nor that invisible, pink unicorns are not active in our world and our lives. Don’t you dare denounce them, or else I will call you irrational. When you figure out what is wrong with the previous two sentences, then you will know what is wrong with your statement.

    You speak of all elements of the universe as matter that somehow evolved from crystals, cosmic slime, or some other element.

    Because we have literal mountains of evidence that evolution is correct. Evolution denial is ludicrous at this stage in our knowledge. You can add the god layer to evolution, but there’s no need to do that, as natural mechanisms are more than adequate to explain humans and the life around us. Additionally, adding the god layer is irrational in the sense that you have no reason to add the god layer and no supporting evidence.

    Your rejection of the possibility of a Creator is what I find most problematic with your arguments.

    Once again, no one here has done that.

  • bestonnet

    Arch:

    I am saying that the atheist is irrational in denouncing the possibility that God exists.

    OMGF:

    Who here has done that?

    It appears that Arch believes in a God that is a square circle and as we all know square circles can’t exist (or at least should).

    So it might be possible to count me as having done that, at least to Arch.

  • http://taitoday.blogspot.com/ Ennis

    Question:

    How did evolution initiate?

    I’m not asking what materials were present to get things started. The question is where did those materials come from? Who made them? Where did space come from? If we didn’t start from “nothing” then what did we start with and where did these starting materials come from?

    Definitions
    Nothing – absolute absence of space, pressure, vacuum, time, etc.

    God – Supreme, all powerful being

    Evolution – The process by which change took “nothing” and produced what we see today.

  • Mrnaglfar

    Ennis,

    How did evolution initiate?

    It’s not something that one turns on and off like a switch; it’s merely the natural outcome of randomly mutating replicators who’s traits are heritable, competing for available resources that limit growth. Since you’re asking such a basic question I can assume you have actually not even looked into the question on your own or done any actual research before forming an opinion.

    Asking how evolution initiated is like asking how gravity initiated.

    The question is where did those materials come from? Who made them? Where did space come from? If we didn’t start from “nothing” then what did we start with and where did these starting materials come from?

    I assume you mean to say that god created everything as we see it, so let me set the record straight:

    1) There seems to be things that exist
    2) You assume these things that exist need to have not existed at some point in some form (why?)
    3) In order to answer the question of how anything appeared in the first place (provided it needed to) you begin by assuming that an all-powerful, all-knowing, intelligent, creative, immortal, intentional, presumably moral being just happened to exist that had the power to create everything. This being itself of course requires absolutely no explaination as to how it originated because it always was.

    So in order to explain the simpliest forms of existance and life/proto-life you begin with the assumption that the most complex living being that could be imagined just happened to exist forever and wished it all into being with magic. Why not just assume that energy always existed in whatever form since we can at least see and interact with it and prove it exists. The same cannot be said about any kind of god, deistic to personal.

    Also:

    Evolution – The process by which change took “nothing” and produced what we see today.

    Evolution only applies when:
    1) Life (self-replicators) exists
    2) These self replicators vary or change naturally
    3) There are constrains on growth
    4) These replicators have offspring which resemble their parent(s)

    Evolution is not an explaintion of anything other than how life changes overtime. So your definition is poor.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Ennis,
    For sure, we have gaps in our knowledge. We don’t know what was present before the big bang or why it happened, etc. That is not a good reason to insert your god, however. god of the gaps reasoning is as fallacious in this instance as in any other. Also, you shouldn’t make the mistake of assuming that before the big bang there was nothing. The big bang is when time for our universe started, when matter started to become what we see today, but not necessarily the ex nihilo creation of all of that.

  • Arch

    For sure, we have gaps in our knowledge. We don’t know what was present before the big bang or why it happened, etc. That is not a good reason to insert your god, however. god of the gaps reasoning is as fallacious in this instance as in any other.

    This is part of the problemn right here… why are you so anti anything or anyone who recognizes the possibility that God exists?? You have no idea how the big bang or the beginning of matter took place, yet you vehemently refuse to askowledge the possibility that God, an eternal being who is not confined by space, time, or a human mind, created the universe and us. And to say evolution just naturally worked things out this way is an absolute cop-out… it fails to account for far too many elements of creation including the complexities of human life.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Arch,

    This is part of the problemn right here… why are you so anti anything or anyone who recognizes the possibility that God exists??

    Suppose I said, “We don’t know how our dog got out of our yard, therefore invisible, pink unicorns came, sprinkled fairy dust on her, and she flew away.” You would probably find that to be fallacious, right? So, why is it OK, for you to say, “We don’t know how X happened, therefore god?”

    Notice, I never said that god didn’t do it. I merely said that it is fallacious to assert/conclude god based on a lack of knowledge or the inability to come to a conclusion based on a different hypothesis. In order to conclude god, you have to present some evidence for god.

    You have no idea how the big bang or the beginning of matter took place, yet you vehemently refuse to askowledge the possibility that God, an eternal being who is not confined by space, time, or a human mind, created the universe and us.

    I am more than willing to acknowledge this possibility so long as you give me some evidence that makes the possibility rational to be included in the list of potential causes. Until then, it remains a possibility still, but I don’t rationally include it. Note again, nowhere have I claimed that it is impossible that a god did in fact do it.

    And to say evolution just naturally worked things out this way is an absolute cop-out… it fails to account for far too many elements of creation including the complexities of human life.

    To say evolution worked things out would not be a cop-out, it would be incorrect. Evolution does not strive to “work things out.” It is simply a process. It is not, however, insufficient to explain the complexities of human life, and it is by far more parsimonious and a better explanation than anything out there. In fact, there are no competing hypotheses. Your idea (it doesn’t rise to the level of a hypothesis) of “goddidit” is not even in the same league until you can provide some evidence for this hypothesis and explain how it explains anything, how it makes sense. Until then, it’s simply a non-answer, and it’s fallacious for you to default to it and throw out all the questions that have been answered simply because there’s a question or two that is still left unanswered.

  • http://taitoday.blogspot.com/ Ennis

    To Ebonmuse:
    I followed your link to “A Book of Blood” and read the entire essay. You did a lot of work there. I would enjoy dialogue over some of the issues if you are game but will think about it a bit. I also read a couple more essays.

    To bestonnet:
    Yes, Christians are privileged and I can see how that would seem unfair to those of an opposing opinion. I don’t think I could question the sincerety of those who enacted the laws which created those privileges and I would never argue that Christians deserve them (although many come across that way). What disturbs me is that Christians tend to absorb the benefits of privilege on “self” rather than use it for the good of others.

    To Christopher:

    You may want to read the user names a little more closely before you begin to question points that were never raised in the first place…

    Apologies

  • bestonnet

    Ennis:

    Yes, Christians are privileged and I can see how that would seem unfair to those of an opposing opinion. I don’t think I could question the sincerety of those who enacted the laws which created those privileges and I would never argue that Christians deserve them (although many come across that way).

    The sincere ones are the ones that truly scare me, those that are just using religion as a personal power grab are far less dangerous.

    Ennis:

    What disturbs me is that Christians tend to absorb the benefits of privilege on “self” rather than use it for the good of others.

    A large part of Christian privilege seems to be about making the religion more attractive to potential converts (i.e. lowering the cost of being a Christian) and keeping those who are already in the religion.

    Seen that way it becomes obvious why Christians tend to use their privilege on self, because that’s what it is intended for.

    Arch:

    You have no idea how the big bang or the beginning of matter took place, yet you vehemently refuse to askowledge the possibility that God, an eternal being who is not confined by space, time, or a human mind, created the universe and us.

    You state the possibility without any evidence, ∴ we can dismiss it without evidence.

    OTOH we do have evidence that a big bang occurred and that evolution is real.

    OMGF:

    The thing about Arch’s questions is that he will continue to ask them as if they’ve never been answered. I’ve answered in similar ways as you Ebon, to similar questions and Arch plows on ahead as if we’ve never said anything, or says something along the lines that our answers aren’t serious enough.

    Arch, if you are serious about having a reasonable discussion, I suggest that you stop your previous tactics and actually engage the answers that have been supplied to you. I also suggest that you provide your answer to this question and tell us how it is any answer at all, considering that “goddidit” isn’t an explanation for anything.

    From what I have seen so far this is a very good description and I’ll second (or did someone else already do that?) the advise given.

  • http://taitoday.blogspot.com/ Ennis

    bestonnet:

    The sincere ones are the ones that truly scare me, those that are just using religion as a personal power grab are far less dangerous

    I’m not sure I understand. Please explain. Are you talking about those who are genuinely sincere or just those who give the appearance?

  • bestonnet

    Ennis:

    I’m not sure I understand. Please explain. Are you talking about those who are genuinely sincere or just those who give the appearance?

    I’m saying that the genuinely sincere religious believers are the ones who are the most dangerous, far more dangerous than those who are just using the religion as a way to get power for themselves.

    The people that are just pretending to be really religious because it gets them votes will also tend to only give the theocrats token gestures that don’t really mean anything while those who really are really religious will tend to go far beyond token gestures and into full on theocracy.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Or as C.S. Lewis put it:

    Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

  • http://taitoday.blogspot.com/ Ennis

    To bestonnet and Ebonmuse,

    OK, I get that point. Sincerity can be very dangerous if it is insecure, immature and unfair. What makes us equal is not the particular belief but the right and freedom to choose. I get that.

  • Arch

    we do have evidence that a big bang occurred and that evolution is real.

    So you can prove that the big bang theory occured and explain what allowed it to take place? You can explain how matter came to exist of itself? I welcome those thorough explanations…
    I also welcome the explanation of how crystals, slime, or whatever form of matter existed, evolved into spiders, sharks, (pick any insect or animal of the millions), stars, trees, (pick any existing thing), and human beings with our complexities that are unmatched by any other being; yet many of you are calling the possibility of a Creator absurd. That negation is most unreasonable.

  • Mrnaglfar

    Arch,

    So you can prove that the big bang theory occured and explain what allowed it to take place? You can explain how matter came to exist of itself? I welcome those thorough explanations…

    You’re assuming there was a point at which matter/energy did not exist. Just because we don’t know what came before the big bang does not mean nothing did. As for what allowed it to take place, you ask as if there needs to be something allowing energy to exist and for the big bang to happen. Your questions are founded on assumptions that I see no reason for being true, so until you can demonstrate that premise I’d say they’re silly to ask.

    But when you explain where a conscious, personal, immortal, all-powerful, and all-knowing god who’s son on earth was Jesus Christ came from (not just some vague creator you seems to be mentioning) I’ll welcome that explaination too.

    I also welcome the explanation of how crystals, slime, or whatever form of matter existed, evolved into spiders, sharks, (pick any insect or animal of the millions), stars, trees, (pick any existing thing), and human beings with our complexities that are unmatched by any other being; yet many of you are calling the possibility of a Creator absurd. That negation is most unreasonable.

    First bad attempt here is to talk as if because we haven’t figured it out yet that we won’t. We’ve had only a handful of years of serious scientific inquiry and it’s yielded mountains of results; religions have had many thousands of years and have not got us an inch closer to any truths. Give it another 100 or 200 years and expect the wealth of our knowledge to grow by leaps and bounds.
    Second, you talk as if by mentioning these current unknowns followed by the idea of a creator somehow validates it. You’ve done this time and again, but by actting as if your idea of god (not just some random creator) is the default position until other people can prove you wrong is simply bad logic. There is no negation here; simply because we are unable to provide you with every single fact yet does not suddenly make what we know wrong, it merely means we have to add to it because that’s how science works.

    We call the creator idea absurd because:
    1) You have no evidence for it
    2) There’s no reason to believe the idea except through assumptions
    3) No questions actually get answered without more questions being added until, as I mentioned before, the whole thing descends into how we can’t understand god or some paradoxical nature of religion, which might as well be a simple “I don’t know and that’s your answer”.
    4) You think life is too complex to just happen, yet your assumption begins with the most powerful and complex form of life one could imagine just happening
    5) You have in no way demonstrated why such a creator should be as you imagine it to be. Why one god and not 2, or 5 or more? Why should this creator be all-powerful, or intelligent? What if this creator accidently created the universe? One can speculate any number of possible different scenerios and all share percisely the same evidence.

    There’s a short list.

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

    Arch,

    So you can prove that the big bang theory occured and explain what allowed it to take place?

    Prove is the wrong word here. We have evidence that we use to infer that the big bang is the best explanation. In all likelihood, we will never know anything to 100% certainty, so if that’s what you are looking for, you’ll never find it for anything. Of course, I note that you don’t demand the same level of proof or evidence for your assertion of god.

    You can explain how matter came to exist of itself?

    In all likelihood, matter was always there, mostly in the form of energy. There are many competing hypotheses, I doubt you are interested in them.

    I welcome those thorough explanations…

    No you don’t. You simply want to sneer at our answers and then re-assert your unevidenced god. It would be a simply matter for you to look up “big bang theory” in wikipedia and get a quick summary of some of the evidence that we use to infer the big bang took place. Yet, once again, I doubt that you really want to do that. You want to act as if your god should win by default (without evidence) and complain that we aren’t taking your god seriously enough and that we are unfair for not simply accepting your god as a serious hypothesis. Yet, I’ve already told you (as have others) that if you want your god to be taken seriously, then you have to provide some evidence. Else, it’s just as likely as invisible, pink unicorns and fairy dust.

    I also welcome the explanation of how crystals, slime, or whatever form of matter existed, evolved into spiders, sharks, (pick any insect or animal of the millions), stars, trees, (pick any existing thing), and human beings with our complexities that are unmatched by any other being…

    Once again I find myself saying that you don’t really want to know any of that. If you did, there are numerous resources that you could check out, like talkorigins.org (check our the common descent page and the 29+ evidences for macroevolution). You could pick up Ernst Mayr’s book “What Evolution Is” at your local library and read it. If you really wanted to know about human complexity (which is not as great as you think) then you could look up any number of evolutionary books or studies on the topic. I believe Pinker has done some work in this area. But, my guess is that you’ll simply sneer and complain some more.

    …yet many of you are calling the possibility of a Creator absurd. That negation is most unreasonable.

    Once again, who said that a creator could not possibly be? No one. You are inventing strawmen. No one has said the possibility of a creator is absurd. Positing your creator as the “answer” to life, the universe, and everything (which I have on good authority is actually 42) with no evidence to back it up is what is absurd. Once again, if it is not absurd to say that goddidit, then it’s equally not absurd to say that invisible,pinkunicornsdidit or leprechaunsdidit. Without evidence, you can’t simply make assertions and then say they are reasonable. Worse yet is to call others unreasonable for not simply accepting your proclamations.

  • bestonnet

    Arch:

    I also welcome the explanation of how crystals, slime, or whatever form of matter existed, evolved into spiders, sharks, (pick any insect or animal of the millions), stars, trees, (pick any existing thing), and human beings with our complexities that are unmatched by any other being; yet many of you are calling the possibility of a Creator absurd. That negation is most unreasonable.

    Have you been watching Expelled lately?

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Once again, Arch has derailed a thread with preaching and irrelevant apologetics. This is my last warning to him: I’m not going to permit this to happen again.