Rationalists/Atheists: Don’t Too Readily Dismiss the Believer

It’s certainly no challenge for a rationalist/atheist to dismiss out of hand those who believe in God.

The Christian, scoffs the rationalist, is weak-willed: superstitious, deaf to logic, incapable of independent thought, intellectually and even morally lazy.

Okay. We believers can take that sort of criticism. We can (or certainly should) even acknowledge the ways in which we too often facilitate non-believers reaching such conclusions about us.

But, to be fair, rationalists and atheists should consider the validity of the believer’s way. A clear context in which to understand the whole of one’s  life, as opposed to just that realm of it apprehensible to the rational mind, is a beautiful thing.

The logical mind can do and cover a lot—but not all. Before love, for instance, it can only surrender in baffled awe.

The bottom line is that when the white knight of the rational mind reaches the dense forest of human emotion, it must pull its horse up short, turn around, and trot back home. It has no business inside that forest; a few trees in renders it lost and helpless.

Whatever his shortcomings might be, the believer possesses one thing the non-believer lacks: a clear, dependable context by which to understand, process, and experience all of his emotions. That’s not nothing.

 

On the other hand: Christians: Don’t Too Readily Dismiss Atheists/Rationalists.

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • Mark Lattimore

    Great post, John. I think the idea can go further. The logical mind does not necessarily have to "surrender in baffled awe" (my new favorite expression)to love or any other emotion. It can (and should) surrender and it can stand in awe, but it need not be baffled. Because too many questions are left unanswered by naturalism (a position which seems to be the basis of many philosophical rationalists' worldviews), it seems that the logical mind would realize its own limitations, a realization that would be perfectly rational (in a general, not philosophical sense).

  • J. J. Ramsey

    This looks like a close cousin of the Straw Vulcan trope:

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/StrawV

    I don't think that you will find many rationalists who don't see roles for emotion: enjoying a sunset, spending time with friends, having fun listening to music, and so on. Nor is the act of applying reason a cold act, either. It can be kind of fun to take apart ideas and see how they work. Think about an amateur mechanic who enjoys poking around in engines, learning how to restore old heaps, etc. It's sort of like that.

    And what "clear, dependable context" is it that believers have that helps them process their emotions? Myths, legends? How are these a help? Faith? Faith(*) is, at its heart, about trust, and it is no virtue to trust in something unreliable, like the Bible or a perceived inner feeling, and no vice in being cautious about where and how much one places one's trust.

    (*) Footnote: I am not going to use that old chestnut about faith being "belief without evidence."

  • Dan harrell

    Hi John,

    I have begun to believe that most Christians, including this one, are so strident about faith because they have doubts, but feel somehow they aren't allowed to express them.

    We can't all stay on the mountain top forever, when we come down, things happen that test our faith, and we doubt.

    The great commission was so first century. Now we need to chill out and love. Oh, and accept the critics that lob the bibles back over the fence.

  • http://inkstainedpaws.blogspot.com casey

    nifty post. love the white knight/ forest example.

  • Lynn

    Very good post John, you are a literary marksman. Good comments too.

  • http://suddenlyatheist.wordpress.com/ morsec0de

    Very well written post. I disagree, however, with nearly every point of it.

    You seem to think that emotions somehow can't be understood except through faith or spiritualism. Sorry, but the whole of emotions exist in the material brain. I realize you probably don't like that, but there is no evidence that it is otherwise. And there is a desire for humans to try and imagine themselves as more than just their bodies.

    But while I understand that desire, I recognize it for what it is…just a desire. And with no connection to reality.

  • http://msatheists.org Oliver

    Wait… what are you trying to say: The non-believer is incapable of distinguishing or applying context to all of their own emotions? I am currently experiencing confusion (an emotion) at bias in your post (the context).

    I'm a non-believer and I have to say that I am fully capable of understanding my emotions. You should clarify your post by naming just one emotion that I, or any other non-believer, am incapable of applying the appropriate context.

    You have been challenged.

  • brian walton

    Materialistic explanations for emotions don't explain them, they only describe them. The matialist might say that the awe of a sunset is caused by the desire for exploration as signified in the sky, yet this "explanation" does little to explain desire in the first place. How did "desire for exploration" ever lead to "awe."

    That is a bridge left untraveled by the materialist. The only explanation is to allow for meaning or purpose that exists separate from an object. The sunset as being worthy of awe is as fundamental to its existence as the various elements that must unite in order to cause it.

    Applying the context will no doubt be interesting, like a mechanic tinkering with an engine, but without an understanding of the larger context — that an engine was built to move something — it quickly becomes an exercise in futility.

  • Candace

    John, I've followed your blog for several months now, and the more I read of the atheist/theist posts, the more I wonder what the point is of engaging in them.

    Don't get me wrong. I appreciate your persistance in the exploration, and I find it entertaining reading.

    More and more, though, it's smacking of the sighted trying to explain color to the profoundly blind. Without a miracle, it just ain't happenin'.

    Given that true conversion is the Lord's purview, and that without His intervention, nobody is gonna change … where's the payoff?

    I ask from the perspective of someone who spent 3 or 4 decades baiting and bashing Christians (they WISHED I would have just dismissed them!) before finally "seeing the light" myself.

    Nothing any Christian ever gave me in the way of response to my obnoxiousness ever moved me so much as a smidge. Looking back, the only benefit or purpose I can see to their tolerance and kindness toward me came AFTER my conversion, in that it served to awe and humble me when I looked back at it. The more patient of my Christian friends and acquaintances then became good examples.

    Other than that … well, can you (anyone) help me see more in it?

  • http://suddenlyatheist.wordpress.com/ morsec0de

    "How did “desire for exploration” ever lead to “awe.” "

    Can you answer that question?

    And when you do, can you do so with anything other than "god made it that way"? Because that, I'm sorry to reveal to you, is not an answer. It explains nothing. It merely pushes the explanation back, and glorifies not knowing.

  • Rich

    John…thanks for this post. And no, I’m not thanking you simply because you’re writing it from the viewpoint I agree with (which you are). I saw Candace’s question about the worth of the discussion/debate/argument, and it gave me pause to question the same thing. But then, I realized what I like most the posts on this particular topic.

    I like the fact that you’re not completely hung up on “being right”.

    I think that all too often the only reason Christians participate in discussions like this is to try and win a debate. They want to be right and they want the opposing viewpoint to admit they’re wrong. They want to get another tic mark on their “Spiritual Warfare Kill List”. Sadly, the love of Christ is muted by the words of men.

    I appreciate your discussions for what they are—conversation starters. Having a civil conversation with somebody who espouses an opposing viewpoint is something that is new (and refreshing) to me. Both sides are equally capable of presenting a well-reasoned, rational argument for their side. From a Christian standpoint, once I realize that I’m not the one who saves somebody—or even convinces them of their need for salvation—it takes away all the pressure to “convert” someone. At that point, I’m free to listen, to share, and to enjoy the conversation & company.

  • http://anziulewicz.livejournal.com Chuck Anziulewicz

    Please try not to paint nonbelievers with too broad a brush, John. Most of my dearest friends are believers. All my family members are faithful Catholics. I absolutely NEVER denigrate the faith of any of these friends and loved one. If your faith brings you comfort and understanding in an uncertain world, more power to you.

    As for me, though, I just never really got the hang of the whole "God" thing. It's as though my antenna simply doesn't pick up that frequency. It's nothing I can regret or apologize for. My personal belief is that God doesn't NEED to exist in order for me to conduct my life with decency and humility, and that my lack of faith doesn't make my life meaningless. For me, life is meaning in and of itself. But I am not, for lack of a better term, "evangelical" about this.

  • http://anziulewicz.livejournal.com Chuck Anziulewicz

    Please try not to paint nonbelievers with too broad a brush, John. Most of my dearest friends are believers. All my family members are faithful Catholics. I absolutely NEVER denigrate the faith of any of these friends and loved one. If your faith brings you comfort and understanding in an uncertain world, more power to you.

    As for me, though, I just never really got the hang of the whole "God" thing. It's as though my antenna simply doesn't pick up that frequency. It's nothing I can regret or apologize for. My personal belief is that God doesn't NEED to exist in order for me to conduct my life with decency and humility, and that my lack of faith doesn't make my life meaningless. For me, life is meaning in and of itself. But I am not, for lack of a better term, "evangelical" about this.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Good morning, blog-companions! Though it'll surely be an excercise in Gross Inadequacy, I'll real quick respond to you each:

    Mark: Yes. (See? Grossly inadaquate.)

    J.J. I'm of course not asserting the absurdity that non-believers don't have or appreciate emotions. I'm only saying that any God-based belief system that addresses the entirety of the human experience–including emotions, which are the most inexplicable part of the human experience–can be a comfort and even intellectual touchstone (or at any rate a very valuabe life tool) for the believer that the non-believer simply lacks. A Christian experiences love, and understands it as reflective of God's love. A Christian grieves, and is comforted by God. He faces death himself, and is assured of God's presence with him. In all those sorts of hyper-dense emotions, the atheist is on his own, while the believer is not. Hence the old saying about there being no atheists in foxholes.

    Dan: Beautiful, as always.

    Casey: Thanks very much!

    Lynn: Wow! What a totally lovely thing to say to me. Thank you.

    Morse: Sorry (and, again, I'll be obnoxiously short, because, frankly, I don't think anyone'll read anything I say here anyway, cuz who reads comments?), but I can't take seriously the assertion that the natural instinct shared by most people that they are more than their body has no connection to reality. That's just entirely too dismissive of too common a conviction. (But I know what you're saying about it ALL being in the brain. I know that's a totally reasonable assertion. DESTINED to fail you, but … a fine boat to sail in for awhile.)

    Oliver: Sorry, but your "You have been challenged" is a tad too dramatic for me. We're not Spanish dukes in 1823.

    Brian: Yes. I think. Mostly. Good points!

    Candace: I write what I do cuz … that's how I'm programmed, somehow.

    Rich: Thank you. I'm real glad you've joined the comments sections here on my blog. You always have such nice things to say.

    Chuck: You're right, of course: It's not ever helpful to paint any group with too broad a brush. And I love what you've said about having never gotten ahold of the whole God thing. Lately I've been wondering if there just isn't a God GENE that some people have, and some don't. That totally makes sense. And (to say it one more time; I think you know how dearly I hold this): I certainly don't think anyone needs God in order to conduct one's life with decency and humility. Hardly. And, like you, I'm not inclined to be evangelical about my own perspective. As, again, I think you know. It's just fun stuff to talk about.

  • Faith

    Chuck, what you said made me think of something I saw recently:

    On the "Numbers" TV show, a main character and his girlfriend were talking about his recent search for his Jewish roots, and she said she wasn't really interested in spiritual things. She said something like "I study the law. That's where I find my meaning."

    I found that surprising, because law, by its nature, is a set of standards. It forces humans to reach toward a higher absolute of behavior. So I guess I can't imagine where the idea of law — or of decency and humility, as you so eloquently stated — comes from, unless we are yearning toward something better than we are, better than we would typically be in our laziest and most selfish state.

    You said, "My personal belief is that God doesn’t NEED to exist in order for me to conduct my life with decency and humility [...]."

    On choice of conduct? Sure, I get your drift. But doesn't God need to exist for you to 1) even conceive of such intangible concepts of decency and humility, and 2) have a *desire* to live by those "standards"?

    It's like air and water. You can say they are simply natural phenomena, with no connection to a greater mind, source or design, but you still survive because of them. You still benefit from them. Similarly, whether or not you are sure of the actual source of decency and humility, you still benefit from the mental capacity to understand higher levels of conduct (which the animals have no words to discuss), you have a yearning to be a person who is known by those qualities, and you know the world is a better place when people live in such a way.

    I think your antennae are working just fine. You are clearly connecting with God and his kindness, but just not literally seeing *him*…quite yet.

  • Faith

    Chuck, what you said made me think of something I saw recently:

    On the "Numbers" TV show, a main character and his girlfriend were talking about his recent search for his Jewish roots, and she said she wasn't really interested in spiritual things. She said something like "I study the law. That's where I find my meaning."

    I found that surprising, because law, by its nature, is a set of standards. It forces humans to reach toward a higher absolute of behavior. So I guess I can't imagine where the idea of law — or of decency and humility, as you so eloquently stated — comes from, unless we are yearning toward something better than we are, better than we would typically be in our laziest and most selfish state.

    You said, "My personal belief is that God doesn’t NEED to exist in order for me to conduct my life with decency and humility [...]."

    On choice of conduct? Sure, I get your drift. But doesn't God need to exist for you to 1) even conceive of such intangible concepts of decency and humility, and 2) have a *desire* to live by those "standards"?

    It's like air and water. You can say they are simply natural phenomena, with no connection to a greater mind, source or design, but you still survive because of them. You still benefit from them. Similarly, whether or not you are sure of the actual source of decency and humility, you still benefit from the mental capacity to understand higher levels of conduct (which the animals have no words to discuss), you have a yearning to be a person who is known by those qualities, and you know the world is a better place when people live in such a way.

    I think your antennae are working just fine. You are clearly connecting with God and his kindness, but just not literally seeing *him*…quite yet.

  • http://anziulewicz.livejournal.com Chuck Anziulewicz

    "Doesn’t God need to exist for you to 1) even conceive of such intangible concepts of decency and humility, and 2) have a *desire* to live by those “standards”?" -Faith

    Not as far as I'm concerned. Intangible concepts such as decency and humility assist in the smooth functioning of human society. It is to the benefit of everyone. Such orderly patterns and behavior occur throughout the natural world, of which we are part. I guess the difference in humans is that our complex brains are capable to perceiving things not only as they are or as they once were, but as they might be in the future. I consider The Golden Rule to be a permutation of this; we do not "do unto others" because "God" told us to, but rather because we would wish to be treated in a similar fashion. We perceive that it is well and good for future generations.

    Sorry if that sounds a bit wishy-washy. [:o)

  • http://anziulewicz.livejournal.com Chuck Anziulewicz

    "Doesn’t God need to exist for you to 1) even conceive of such intangible concepts of decency and humility, and 2) have a *desire* to live by those “standards”?" -Faith

    Not as far as I'm concerned. Intangible concepts such as decency and humility assist in the smooth functioning of human society. It is to the benefit of everyone. Such orderly patterns and behavior occur throughout the natural world, of which we are part. I guess the difference in humans is that our complex brains are capable to perceiving things not only as they are or as they once were, but as they might be in the future. I consider The Golden Rule to be a permutation of this; we do not "do unto others" because "God" told us to, but rather because we would wish to be treated in a similar fashion. We perceive that it is well and good for future generations.

    Sorry if that sounds a bit wishy-washy. [:o)

  • Faith

    Nah, you don't sound wishy-washy, Chuck. :-)

    And I hear you: "Such orderly patterns and behavior occur throughout the natural world, of which we are part."

    I guess it seems like a circular argument to me. We benefit from orderly behavior, so that's why we do it. But the simple concept of order itself cannot be without a source. For that matter, we could also create a baser type of order by killing — we would have less living beings to compete with for survival.

    So to me, decency and humility go far beyond the effort to make the natural world work. They are values of the human heart.

  • http://anziulewicz.livejournal.com Chuck Anziulewicz

    The simple concept of order itself cannot be without a source.

    Actually order and chaos exist in a sort of Yin-Yang relationship. One is constantly becoming the other and vice versa. I believe this idea is explored in fractal mathematics.

    We could also create a baser type of order by killing — we would have less living beings to compete with for survival.

    A better example in human society would be two parents limiting the number of children they have based on their financial ability to provide for their survival. Members of a species killing one another for the sake of survival happens all the time, and it will occur among human being under extreme conditions. But the benefits of cooperation and altruistic behavior among animal species generally outweigh the risks of such anarchy.

    Decency and humility go far beyond the effort to make the natural world work. They are values of the human heart.

    As poetic as "values of the human heart" sounds, decency and humility are simply more complex permutations of the cooperation we see in other animal species. And human beings ARE animals.

  • http://anziulewicz.livejournal.com Chuck Anziulewicz

    The simple concept of order itself cannot be without a source.

    Actually order and chaos exist in a sort of Yin-Yang relationship. One is constantly becoming the other and vice versa. I believe this idea is explored in fractal mathematics.

    We could also create a baser type of order by killing — we would have less living beings to compete with for survival.

    A better example in human society would be two parents limiting the number of children they have based on their financial ability to provide for their survival. Members of a species killing one another for the sake of survival happens all the time, and it will occur among human being under extreme conditions. But the benefits of cooperation and altruistic behavior among animal species generally outweigh the risks of such anarchy.

    Decency and humility go far beyond the effort to make the natural world work. They are values of the human heart.

    As poetic as "values of the human heart" sounds, decency and humility are simply more complex permutations of the cooperation we see in other animal species. And human beings ARE animals.

  • http://anziulewicz.livejournal.com Chuck Anziulewicz

    But really, whether there is some sort of "God" or other supernatural force lurking behind of this is really kind of unknowable as far as I'm concerned. It is at least "a matter of faith." It's not something I lose sleep over. I just try to do well by my fellow human beings. I just don't need Heaven or Hell to bribe or scare me into behaving decently, thank you very much.

  • http://anziulewicz.livejournal.com Chuck Anziulewicz

    But really, whether there is some sort of "God" or other supernatural force lurking behind of this is really kind of unknowable as far as I'm concerned. It is at least "a matter of faith." It's not something I lose sleep over. I just try to do well by my fellow human beings. I just don't need Heaven or Hell to bribe or scare me into behaving decently, thank you very much.

  • Faith

    At the risk of saying something that has already been said by so many…

    At my deepest times of doubt, the natural world actually points me to God. People and circumstances can easily decrease my faith that God exists (because as well-meaning as people may be, they cannot ALWAYS be decent and humble). But the world around me is so mind-numbingly complex, so multi-layered, so mathematical, so incredibly "creative" and colorful, that it cannot be without a designer.

    The natural world increases my faith because the discoveries never end — in fact, the WWF just did a press release today that 1068 new species were found in the Mekong Valley from 1997-2007.

    If we are our own gods, so to speak, why don't we ever run out of discoveries? Why haven't we found it all? Why should it take so much time?

    We are undeniably finite human beings. However, each new generation learns more about the natural world. Therefore, there must be an overarching, unending, timeless source that spans all of these discoveries. And while God is hidden to us, to the degree that we cannot see HIM physically, he has made it possible for us to uncover and discover him in everything we do see.

    It would take an unending amount of faith for me to believe there is no God behind the natural world. You are exercising a great deal of faith, Chuck.

    In fact, dare I say it? . . . I think Chuck, that you might be a bit like the man whose wife wrote to John to say that because he did not "love" God like other Christians did, he feared for his faith. John wisely told her that emotional love for God is not the issue. We do not know God or love him as we do other human beings.

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  • Colleen

    Great post!

    Your “baffled awe” comment reminded me of a clever quote that goes, “You never grow old until you’ve lost all of your marvels”

    The challenge with the kind of dialog you started John, is how do we avoid overly presumptive thought, that may promote further intolerance of each other’s views when we finally reach that fork in the road? Do you think it might help us better understand each other if we took an approach of asking each other more questions on how a person arrived at their philosophical destination rather than debate why they remain there? For example, some people live with ambiguity quite comfortably, while others wrestle and travail with unknowns and mystery until they reach their breakthrough. The world has benefited greatly from the second type, who I like to think of them as Olympians wrestlers of stubbornness. These champion forward thinkers are clearly found in both camps.

    A very serious thought we all can agree on. :)

    We are here on earth to do good for others.

    What the others are here for, I don’t know.

    W. H. Auden

  • Colleen

    Great post!

    Your “baffled awe” comment reminded me of a clever quote that goes, “You never grow old until you’ve lost all of your marvels”

    The challenge with the kind of dialog you started John, is how do we avoid overly presumptive thought, that may promote further intolerance of each other’s views when we finally reach that fork in the road? Do you think it might help us better understand each other if we took an approach of asking each other more questions on how a person arrived at their philosophical destination rather than debate why they remain there? For example, some people live with ambiguity quite comfortably, while others wrestle and travail with unknowns and mystery until they reach their breakthrough. The world has benefited greatly from the second type, who I like to think of them as Olympians wrestlers of stubbornness. These champion forward thinkers are clearly found in both camps.

    A very serious thought we all can agree on. :)

    We are here on earth to do good for others.

    What the others are here for, I don’t know.

    W. H. Auden

  • Colleen

    Great post!

    Your “baffled awe” comment reminded me of a clever quote that goes, “You never grow old until you’ve lost all of your marvels”

    The challenge with the kind of dialog you started John, is how do we avoid overly presumptive thought, that may promote further intolerance of each other’s views when we finally reach that fork in the road? Do you think it might help us better understand each other if we took an approach of asking each other more questions on how a person arrived at their philosophical destination rather than debate why they remain there? For example, some people live with ambiguity quite comfortably, while others wrestle and travail with unknowns and mystery until they reach their breakthrough. The world has benefited greatly from the second type, who I like to think of them as Olympians wrestlers of stubbornness. These champion forward thinkers are clearly found in both camps.

    A very serious thought we all can agree on. :)

    We are here on earth to do good for others.

    What the others are here for, I don’t know.

    W. H. Auden

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    A nice affirming piece John…full of baseless claims and wrong on most every important point…but nice and affirming to the believers.

    For starters…..oh I don't think I have the energy to cover that much ground. I may leave it to the rest of the non-believers until I get some sleep.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    A nice affirming piece John…full of baseless claims and wrong on most every important point…but nice and affirming to the believers.

    For starters…..oh I don't think I have the energy to cover that much ground. I may leave it to the rest of the non-believers until I get some sleep.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Thanks, John, very much.

    I'll count each moment until you deign to point out my many baseless claims, Mr. Thinker.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Thanks, John, very much.

    I'll count each moment until you deign to point out my many baseless claims, Mr. Thinker.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Thanks, John, very much.

    I'll count each moment until you deign to point out my many baseless claims, Mr. Thinker.

  • Mark Lattimore

    Candace,

    “Looking back, the only benefit or purpose I can see to their tolerance and kindness toward me came AFTER my conversion, in that it served to awe and humble me when I looked back at it. The more patient of my Christian friends and acquaintances then became good examples.

    Other than that … well, can you (anyone) help me see more in it?”

    Even if there were nothing else in it, Candace, isn’t that enough? I believe there is at least a little more in it, though. If nothing else, these posts challenge believers to examine their own views — a very worthwhile exercise. Is that part of the exercise, John?

    And Brian…excellent.

  • Candace

    Hey guys (John, Rich, Mark), thanks for your responses to my question this morning. Loved them.

    Yeah, Mark, you are right! Even if there were nothing else, that WOULD be enough :-)

    I was having an Ecclesiastes kinda morning, I think. But the nice thing is, the moment I expressed myself, I started seeing all sorts of answers to my own question. And then you guys provided more.

    Again, thanks. I appreciated your thoughts.

  • Candace

    Hey guys (John, Rich, Mark), thanks for your responses to my question this morning. Loved them.

    Yeah, Mark, you are right! Even if there were nothing else, that WOULD be enough :-)

    I was having an Ecclesiastes kinda morning, I think. But the nice thing is, the moment I expressed myself, I started seeing all sorts of answers to my own question. And then you guys provided more.

    Again, thanks. I appreciated your thoughts.

  • http://shootordie.wordpress.com/ J

    Brilliant post, John. For some reason I was moved by what you wrote. I guess it’s the way it was expressed so assuredly and rationally. I’m sharing this :)

  • http://shootordie.wordpress.com/ J

    Brilliant post, John. For some reason I was moved by what you wrote. I guess it’s the way it was expressed so assuredly and rationally. I’m sharing this :)

  • http://suddenlyatheist.wordpress.com/ morsec0de

    "That’s just entirely too dismissive of too common a conviction."

    I just want to point out, while it appears we're just being dismissive here, this isn't a sudden response. It has been reached due to much consideration and scientific study.

    And how, exactly, is it destined to fail? Are you speaking of some sort of scriptural prophecy, or is this just a feeling you have?

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    I mean that continuing to claim, as you did, that you are no more than your body is guaranteed to one day prove to you an egregiously erroneous assumption.

  • http://suddenlyatheist.wordpress.com/ morsec0de

    Is that a nice way of saying "You'll find out your wrong and then you'll be sorry!"? :)

    And it's not an assumption. It's a conclusion based on evidence.

    I'll even give you an example. Brain damage.

    When someone has part of their physical brain damaged, their personality can change. This can be as simple as memory loss, or as complex and strange as giving the person an entirely different personality. Or, more often, parts of the persons' abilities are lost…speech, motor functions and the like.

    So if, when the physical brain is damaged, parts of that persons' being are lost, why should we assume that the complete death or destruction of the physical brain would allow for the persons' being to continue to exist in it's complete form?

    Or is the 'soul' or 'spirit', to you, not the persons' consciousness and being?

  • http://suddenlyatheist.wordpress.com/ morsec0de

    Is that a nice way of saying "You'll find out your wrong and then you'll be sorry!"? :)

    And it's not an assumption. It's a conclusion based on evidence.

    I'll even give you an example. Brain damage.

    When someone has part of their physical brain damaged, their personality can change. This can be as simple as memory loss, or as complex and strange as giving the person an entirely different personality. Or, more often, parts of the persons' abilities are lost…speech, motor functions and the like.

    So if, when the physical brain is damaged, parts of that persons' being are lost, why should we assume that the complete death or destruction of the physical brain would allow for the persons' being to continue to exist in it's complete form?

    Or is the 'soul' or 'spirit', to you, not the persons' consciousness and being?

  • http://suddenlyatheist.wordpress.com/ morsec0de

    Is that a nice way of saying "You'll find out your wrong and then you'll be sorry!"? :)

    And it's not an assumption. It's a conclusion based on evidence.

    I'll even give you an example. Brain damage.

    When someone has part of their physical brain damaged, their personality can change. This can be as simple as memory loss, or as complex and strange as giving the person an entirely different personality. Or, more often, parts of the persons' abilities are lost…speech, motor functions and the like.

    So if, when the physical brain is damaged, parts of that persons' being are lost, why should we assume that the complete death or destruction of the physical brain would allow for the persons' being to continue to exist in it's complete form?

    Or is the 'soul' or 'spirit', to you, not the persons' consciousness and being?

  • natalie

    The soul is what you refer to as the person's consciousness and being, very much connected with the body. The spirit is the eternal part. That's the part that naturalists do not believe exists.

    Most Christians agree that the human being has 3 parts (body, soul, spirit), like God.

  • natalie

    The soul is what you refer to as the person's consciousness and being, very much connected with the body. The spirit is the eternal part. That's the part that naturalists do not believe exists.

    Most Christians agree that the human being has 3 parts (body, soul, spirit), like God.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    JS said:

    It’s certainly no challenge for a rationalist/atheist to dismiss out of hand those who believe in God.

    Speaking for myself; I do not dismiss the 'those who believe in God". Rather I dismiss the belief system that the majority of them embrace. A subtle but important difference.

    JS said:

    The Christian, scoffs the rationalist, is weak-willed: superstitious, deaf to logic, incapable of independent thought, intellectually and even morally lazy.

    I suppose some do, but more commonly the rationalist sees the believer as ignorant of evidence for other [more plausible] explanations of things or of evidence in conflict with their belief system. [Before the flame goes on; 'ignorant' here is not a denigrating term. We are all ignorant of most things. I am ignorant of knitting techniques. Ignorance means one merely has not been exposed to the information/ideas/process/etc.]

    JS said:

    We believers can take that sort of criticism.

    Some can. Some can't.

    JS said:

    We can (or certainly should) even acknowledge the ways in which we too often facilitate non-believers reaching such conclusions about us.

    This is the sentence that I agree with. :-)

    JS said:

    But, to be fair, rationalists and atheists should consider the validity of the believer’s way. A clear context in which to understand the whole of one’s life, as opposed to just that realm of it apprehensible to the rational mind, is a beautiful thing.

    It seems that by 'validity' you mean to say 'effectiveness'. I don't think it is too out of line to say that any rationalist participating in these forums has considered the validity of the believer's way and found it … er … 'wanting'. Many (most?) like myself were once believers. (On the matter of 'effectivness'; that has never been a point of dispute.) On the matter of 'clear context'…how clear can that context be if we find it its basis factually false? There is much that the rationalist finds beautiful and awe inspiring. Speaking for myself; I find much more reward and awe in persuing the things that I don't know. The 'clear context' set forth in the Bible too often extinguishes inquiry by claiming to answer the unknown and unknowable. Inquiry in pursuit of genine knowledge is a most 'holy' persuit. Inquiry soley for the purpose of bolstering what one already believes is a defensive (and too-human) manuever.

    JS said:

    The logical mind can do and cover a lot—but not all. Before love, for instance, it can only surrender in baffled awe.

    Can you demonstrate that the believer and rationalist experience love differently?

    JS said:

    The bottom line is that when the white knight of the rational mind reaches the dense forest of human emotion, it must pull its horse up short, turn around, and trot back home. It has no business inside that forest; a few trees in renders it lost and helpless.

    I know you didn't intend to offend, but this is the unintentional bigotry that gets my hair standing. The believer does not have the market cornered on understanding and appreciating emotion. Had you baselessly claimed Asians can't undstand emotion, you would have been roundly (and rightly) criticized. And if you are claiming that rationality can offer no insights into emotion, you would be wrong. Inquiry has given us insights into emotion. Emotion is, plain and simple, a function of the electro-chemical soup in our heads and we do, actually, know things about it. Does the rationalist experience emotion any less? No. I would turn your phrase around and say "We all stand in awe in the emotional forest, but the rationalist keeps looking for more."

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    JS said:

    It’s certainly no challenge for a rationalist/atheist to dismiss out of hand those who believe in God.

    Speaking for myself; I do not dismiss the 'those who believe in God". Rather I dismiss the belief system that the majority of them embrace. A subtle but important difference.

    JS said:

    The Christian, scoffs the rationalist, is weak-willed: superstitious, deaf to logic, incapable of independent thought, intellectually and even morally lazy.

    I suppose some do, but more commonly the rationalist sees the believer as ignorant of evidence for other [more plausible] explanations of things or of evidence in conflict with their belief system. [Before the flame goes on; 'ignorant' here is not a denigrating term. We are all ignorant of most things. I am ignorant of knitting techniques. Ignorance means one merely has not been exposed to the information/ideas/process/etc.]

    JS said:

    We believers can take that sort of criticism.

    Some can. Some can't.

    JS said:

    We can (or certainly should) even acknowledge the ways in which we too often facilitate non-believers reaching such conclusions about us.

    This is the sentence that I agree with. :-)

    JS said:

    But, to be fair, rationalists and atheists should consider the validity of the believer’s way. A clear context in which to understand the whole of one’s life, as opposed to just that realm of it apprehensible to the rational mind, is a beautiful thing.

    It seems that by 'validity' you mean to say 'effectiveness'. I don't think it is too out of line to say that any rationalist participating in these forums has considered the validity of the believer's way and found it … er … 'wanting'. Many (most?) like myself were once believers. (On the matter of 'effectivness'; that has never been a point of dispute.) On the matter of 'clear context'…how clear can that context be if we find it its basis factually false? There is much that the rationalist finds beautiful and awe inspiring. Speaking for myself; I find much more reward and awe in persuing the things that I don't know. The 'clear context' set forth in the Bible too often extinguishes inquiry by claiming to answer the unknown and unknowable. Inquiry in pursuit of genine knowledge is a most 'holy' persuit. Inquiry soley for the purpose of bolstering what one already believes is a defensive (and too-human) manuever.

    JS said:

    The logical mind can do and cover a lot—but not all. Before love, for instance, it can only surrender in baffled awe.

    Can you demonstrate that the believer and rationalist experience love differently?

    JS said:

    The bottom line is that when the white knight of the rational mind reaches the dense forest of human emotion, it must pull its horse up short, turn around, and trot back home. It has no business inside that forest; a few trees in renders it lost and helpless.

    I know you didn't intend to offend, but this is the unintentional bigotry that gets my hair standing. The believer does not have the market cornered on understanding and appreciating emotion. Had you baselessly claimed Asians can't undstand emotion, you would have been roundly (and rightly) criticized. And if you are claiming that rationality can offer no insights into emotion, you would be wrong. Inquiry has given us insights into emotion. Emotion is, plain and simple, a function of the electro-chemical soup in our heads and we do, actually, know things about it. Does the rationalist experience emotion any less? No. I would turn your phrase around and say "We all stand in awe in the emotional forest, but the rationalist keeps looking for more."

  • J. J. Ramsey

    “A Christian experiences love, and understands it as reflective of God’s love. A Christian grieves, and is comforted by God. He faces death himself, and is assured of God’s presence with him. In all those sorts of hyper-dense emotions, the atheist is on his own, while the believer is not.”

    What evidence do you have that believers aren’t on their own? The way I see it, both the believer and the atheist are on their own, but the atheist realizes that this is the case. You are at best dangerously close to an argument from personal comfort.

    “Hence the old saying about there being no atheists in foxholes.”

    Except that this statement isn’t true, and is rather insulting to atheists serving in the military, to boot.

  • Susan

    John, I heard you speak today. Your words and this blog remind me of many conversations and of daily news that show how disconnected humans, largely same, are and have ever been. Conversations mired in assertions, explanations, and right/wrong headedness have always served as cautions to me about Religion, Atheism, Science, and all the other constructs seeking to explain, and box, and comfort us with certitudes we choose in a world where there are none.

    I admire the teachings of the New Testament, but do not recognize them in the assertions made by people who preach intolerance in the name of Religion. Science and Atheism seem no less dogmatic and inscrutable than Religions, and at their core seem still to require some leap of faith. All seem to have an element of arrogance in their certitude. We argue for arguments sake and offer our proofs and faiths. Our minds, thoughts, and words seem a poverty to me compared to what we seek to perceive.

    I am still interested in these conversations, in how they represent facets of understanding, and how we find common ground because I find truth here and there, now and then. Not the absolute sort; I tend to be suspicious of absolutes as singular, incomplete perspectives. I admit that, despite the condescending looks from friends that suggest they think I am naive and that they may have overestimated my IQ, I believe in God and my heart is broken open with faith. And with my faith I also have doubts, and I think in these I am simply, humbly human.

  • Susan

    John, I heard you speak today. Your words and this blog remind me of many conversations and of daily news that show how disconnected humans, largely same, are and have ever been. Conversations mired in assertions, explanations, and right/wrong headedness have always served as cautions to me about Religion, Atheism, Science, and all the other constructs seeking to explain, and box, and comfort us with certitudes we choose in a world where there are none.

    I admire the teachings of the New Testament, but do not recognize them in the assertions made by people who preach intolerance in the name of Religion. Science and Atheism seem no less dogmatic and inscrutable than Religions, and at their core seem still to require some leap of faith. All seem to have an element of arrogance in their certitude. We argue for arguments sake and offer our proofs and faiths. Our minds, thoughts, and words seem a poverty to me compared to what we seek to perceive.

    I am still interested in these conversations, in how they represent facets of understanding, and how we find common ground because I find truth here and there, now and then. Not the absolute sort; I tend to be suspicious of absolutes as singular, incomplete perspectives. I admit that, despite the condescending looks from friends that suggest they think I am naive and that they may have overestimated my IQ, I believe in God and my heart is broken open with faith. And with my faith I also have doubts, and I think in these I am simply, humbly human.

  • Susan

    John, I heard you speak today. Your words and this blog remind me of many conversations and of daily news that show how disconnected humans, largely same, are and have ever been. Conversations mired in assertions, explanations, and right/wrong headedness have always served as cautions to me about Religion, Atheism, Science, and all the other constructs seeking to explain, and box, and comfort us with certitudes we choose in a world where there are none.

    I admire the teachings of the New Testament, but do not recognize them in the assertions made by people who preach intolerance in the name of Religion. Science and Atheism seem no less dogmatic and inscrutable than Religions, and at their core seem still to require some leap of faith. All seem to have an element of arrogance in their certitude. We argue for arguments sake and offer our proofs and faiths. Our minds, thoughts, and words seem a poverty to me compared to what we seek to perceive.

    I am still interested in these conversations, in how they represent facets of understanding, and how we find common ground because I find truth here and there, now and then. Not the absolute sort; I tend to be suspicious of absolutes as singular, incomplete perspectives. I admit that, despite the condescending looks from friends that suggest they think I am naive and that they may have overestimated my IQ, I believe in God and my heart is broken open with faith. And with my faith I also have doubts, and I think in these I am simply, humbly human.

  • Pingback: Rationalists/Atheists: Don

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  • DarwinsGauntlet

    There's an awesome disparity between the real estate of the mind yet to be claimed by Science, and making a case to believe in a divine creator. How do you justify that jump?

    You can't conclusively explain The Taos Hum for example, so does that mean you should believe in Thor, or Zombies? As a rule of thumb, it's unnecessary to "go native" because you don't understand something, when you can actively seek the answers along with Science, and accept the question is still open. The notion that an answer is required for you to comfortably function is as fatuous as the faith belief itself.

    Science has progressively over time, taken ownership of a whole host of religious claims of the once believed unanswerable. Science has battered divine creation and theological claims to the point of obsoleteness century after century with its eyes fixed on the future. Neuroscientists have been charting the map of the human mind piece by piece, revealing more and more each decade that passes. There's no reason to believe we won't have all the answers some day. Isn't it an exciting and noble pursuit to realize the end of that, and wouldn't you want to revel in the glory of its truth when we do arrive there? Do you really want to be in on the delusional bandwagon of primitive superstition when progress bears its fruit?

  • DarwinsGauntlet

    There's an awesome disparity between the real estate of the mind yet to be claimed by Science, and making a case to believe in a divine creator. How do you justify that jump?

    You can't conclusively explain The Taos Hum for example, so does that mean you should believe in Thor, or Zombies? As a rule of thumb, it's unnecessary to "go native" because you don't understand something, when you can actively seek the answers along with Science, and accept the question is still open. The notion that an answer is required for you to comfortably function is as fatuous as the faith belief itself.

    Science has progressively over time, taken ownership of a whole host of religious claims of the once believed unanswerable. Science has battered divine creation and theological claims to the point of obsoleteness century after century with its eyes fixed on the future. Neuroscientists have been charting the map of the human mind piece by piece, revealing more and more each decade that passes. There's no reason to believe we won't have all the answers some day. Isn't it an exciting and noble pursuit to realize the end of that, and wouldn't you want to revel in the glory of its truth when we do arrive there? Do you really want to be in on the delusional bandwagon of primitive superstition when progress bears its fruit?

  • DarwinsGauntlet

    There's an awesome disparity between the real estate of the mind yet to be claimed by Science, and making a case to believe in a divine creator. How do you justify that jump?

    You can't conclusively explain The Taos Hum for example, so does that mean you should believe in Thor, or Zombies? As a rule of thumb, it's unnecessary to "go native" because you don't understand something, when you can actively seek the answers along with Science, and accept the question is still open. The notion that an answer is required for you to comfortably function is as fatuous as the faith belief itself.

    Science has progressively over time, taken ownership of a whole host of religious claims of the once believed unanswerable. Science has battered divine creation and theological claims to the point of obsoleteness century after century with its eyes fixed on the future. Neuroscientists have been charting the map of the human mind piece by piece, revealing more and more each decade that passes. There's no reason to believe we won't have all the answers some day. Isn't it an exciting and noble pursuit to realize the end of that, and wouldn't you want to revel in the glory of its truth when we do arrive there? Do you really want to be in on the delusional bandwagon of primitive superstition when progress bears its fruit?

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Dude, I'm sure that at the heart of what you've said here lie some trenchant, penetrating thoughts. But if you ever want anyone to really hear what you're saying, you've GOT to ratchet back the density of your sentences about 25%. You're trying to cram too much into each sentence, and you lack the technical writing skills to do it without your stuff coming out too near gibberish for comfort. As an atheist, I'm sure you greatly value logic. Learn to write as if you do. Less is more. Simplify.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Dude, I'm sure that at the heart of what you've said here lie some trenchant, penetrating thoughts. But if you ever want anyone to really hear what you're saying, you've GOT to ratchet back the density of your sentences about 25%. You're trying to cram too much into each sentence, and you lack the technical writing skills to do it without your stuff coming out too near gibberish for comfort. As an atheist, I'm sure you greatly value logic. Learn to write as if you do. Less is more. Simplify.

  • DarwinsGauntlet

    John, you're attacking form, but skirting content.

    caveat/edit of last post: That should have been written as "bandwagon of delusional, and primitive superstition."

  • DarwinsGauntlet

    John, you're attacking form, but skirting content.

    caveat/edit of last post: That should have been written as "bandwagon of delusional, and primitive superstition."

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    You don't know me very well. If you'd spent any time at all reading this blog, you'd know I never "skirt" content.

    I'm saying your form is so bad I can't even access your content. I mean, I'm sure I could if I spent a lot of time parsing out exactly what you're trying to say, but A. I know you're not saying anything I haven't already answered on this blog a million times (though of course I understand that you have no reason to know that); and B. It's hard to take seriously any thought so poorly articulated. I'm not just saying that to be an asshole; I'm really trying to help you better make your own case. To a degree you can't possibly know unless you're much more familar with my writing, I'm on your side.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    You don't know me very well. If you'd spent any time at all reading this blog, you'd know I never "skirt" content.

    I'm saying your form is so bad I can't even access your content. I mean, I'm sure I could if I spent a lot of time parsing out exactly what you're trying to say, but A. I know you're not saying anything I haven't already answered on this blog a million times (though of course I understand that you have no reason to know that); and B. It's hard to take seriously any thought so poorly articulated. I'm not just saying that to be an asshole; I'm really trying to help you better make your own case. To a degree you can't possibly know unless you're much more familar with my writing, I'm on your side.

  • Serena

    DarwinsGauntlet – Fortunately, I didn't have the same trouble reading your points as Mr. Shore ostensibly had. I think what we're seeing here is officially known as the 'red herring'. Mr. Shore is playing that the style and structure of your writing are why he can't face your question how it was he made the jump from a lack of answers from the scientific community, to the belief in an omnipotent superintelligence.

    I'd also like to hear him try to answer that (assuming he hasn't completely lost his ability to understand plain English by now by now). ;)

  • Candace

    Well, personally, *I* think what we're seeing here are two (more) annoying boors who are hopelessly in love with their own vocabulary and ideas and have no interest whatsoever in doing anything but baiting our host.

    Serena, what you both wrote reminds me of the stuff my intellectually snobby friends and I used to come up with when we were high. Rereading it the next morning, I could never quite recapture why I thought it was so special.

  • Candace

    Well, personally, *I* think what we're seeing here are two (more) annoying boors who are hopelessly in love with their own vocabulary and ideas and have no interest whatsoever in doing anything but baiting our host.

    Serena, what you both wrote reminds me of the stuff my intellectually snobby friends and I used to come up with when we were high. Rereading it the next morning, I could never quite recapture why I thought it was so special.

  • Candace

    Well, personally, *I* think what we're seeing here are two (more) annoying boors who are hopelessly in love with their own vocabulary and ideas and have no interest whatsoever in doing anything but baiting our host.

    Serena, what you both wrote reminds me of the stuff my intellectually snobby friends and I used to come up with when we were high. Rereading it the next morning, I could never quite recapture why I thought it was so special.

  • DarwinsGauntlet

    Candace, it's a curiosity how you arrived at that from anything I've written thus far. I won't argue that you used to "get high", or presume to know why you get offended by vocabulary, and I'm not sure how that's relevant to the questions I'm asking. It's curious too, the 'Christian' (presumably) would be the first one hurling invective here.

    In the the interest of clarity, I'll simplify my question for the people that seem so confused:

    Q: Because Science hasn't fully explained everything there is to know about the human brain, (the nature of certain emotions in this instance) why/how is that a compelling reason to adhere to bronze aged biblical doctrine, or believe in a creator agent?

    Certainly even the most zealous among you can see the reasonableness in such a question. I can only assume that there is some desire for rational discussion here, and not everyone is content with posting inside of an echo chamber. If there's truth to be found in the author's blog, certainly a rigorous discourse could only reinforce your beliefs, and consequently most of what I'm espousing would be debunked. That is of course, if you really believe deep down, what you're all professing is tenable.

  • Candace

    I've arrived at it from seeing the near endless parade of your type through here, professing an openness to discussion and sincere interest, when the very names they give themselves, and their snide and condescending manner of expressing their thoughts and "questions", reveals so very plainly that their underlying attitude and motive is anything but genuine. Any time John or others DO engage, that becomes increasingly clear with each volley.

    Not to mention the fact that if you had just bothered to read selections from the rest of the blog, you yourself would have noticed this very pattern, and seen that the questions you present here — yet again — are not original and have already been addressed. Repeatedly.

    It almost leaves one wondering exactly who the smarter ones are, compared to those who incessently lay claim to that turf.

  • Candace

    I've arrived at it from seeing the near endless parade of your type through here, professing an openness to discussion and sincere interest, when the very names they give themselves, and their snide and condescending manner of expressing their thoughts and "questions", reveals so very plainly that their underlying attitude and motive is anything but genuine. Any time John or others DO engage, that becomes increasingly clear with each volley.

    Not to mention the fact that if you had just bothered to read selections from the rest of the blog, you yourself would have noticed this very pattern, and seen that the questions you present here — yet again — are not original and have already been addressed. Repeatedly.

    It almost leaves one wondering exactly who the smarter ones are, compared to those who incessently lay claim to that turf.

  • Candace

    I've arrived at it from seeing the near endless parade of your type through here, professing an openness to discussion and sincere interest, when the very names they give themselves, and their snide and condescending manner of expressing their thoughts and "questions", reveals so very plainly that their underlying attitude and motive is anything but genuine. Any time John or others DO engage, that becomes increasingly clear with each volley.

    Not to mention the fact that if you had just bothered to read selections from the rest of the blog, you yourself would have noticed this very pattern, and seen that the questions you present here — yet again — are not original and have already been addressed. Repeatedly.

    It almost leaves one wondering exactly who the smarter ones are, compared to those who incessently lay claim to that turf.

  • DarwinsGauntlet

    Candace, I can assure you, despite your paranoid, jaded mischaracterization of me or my intentions, that I "genuinely" want to hear the answer to my question, and do not wish to partake in your ad hominem attacks, or further derailment from my original blog-pertinent questions. John himself never addressed my simple question here within this blog. What's more, is neither have you for that matter. If you think he's done so elsewhere, I'm open to following any provided links. If you can't control your compulsion to pathologically sling mud however, I'll have to ignore our exchange. I'm here to talk about the blog, not your stereotypes or your subjective view of me.

    Back to the topic at hand, and looking at another of John's statements:

    –"I’m only saying that any God-based belief system that addresses the entirety of the human experience–including emotions, which are the most inexplicable part of the human experience–can be a comfort and even intellectual touchstone (or at any rate a very valuabe life tool) for the believer that the non-believer simply lacks."–

    This is an argument for the utility of religion, which any educated secularist won't deny, but it says nothing about the evidence of a creator, or the credibility of monotheistic beliefs. Furthermore, it's unfounded conjecture to say that only "God-based belief systems" can address the entirety of the human experience. It presupposes that selective delusion, and adherence to restrictive iron age doctrine, is the pinnacle of the human experience. It also, assumes that the secularist is devoid the same fulfilling experiences that the religious facilitate by subconsciously ascribing feelings of tranquility, harmony, love, unity, bliss ect to a creator agent. Secularists with a good grounding in psychology, simply ascribe those feeling to themselves (or super-ego in this case). They don't need the supernatural god delusion to feel the same things. A more conspicuous example of this can be easily found on the beaming faces of Tony Robbins seminar attendees, and followers of other similar self-motivation speakers. Religion is useful for those that need it, but it's simply a psychological tool like any other that has utility. Guided Meditation, Behavioral Therapy, Buddhism, Hinduism, pharmacological means, Chakra mediation, nutrition and yoga, self-exile and introspection etc. etc. There are infinite ways to achieve elevated states of well being, self-transendence, and true harmony that can match and even exceed that of a church congregation, Sunday, full mass.

    The claim that monotheism is the only path to these types of experiences, simply isn't true, and I think even the casual observer can see that when weighing all of their options, monotheism is more injurious comparatively because of the antiquated oppressive baggage of the doctrine that comes with it.

    • A Remnant

      DarwinsGauntlet

      I’m probably too late……but just in case……if you have a link to more of your thoughts on this subject, I would very much appreciate it. I may not agree with everything said by Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins, Thomas Paine or even Albert J Nock but I do, very much, admire their way of saying it. I wish I had spent more of my life gaining the skills necessary to express a thought anywhere near as well as you have done here. I share your thoughts and thank you for taking the time to share them with us.

    • Emma

      DarwinsGauntlet:

      This is also late, but I’ve been reading through the comment sections of some posts from this blog, and I agree. Why is it so hard to get a straight answer???

      As an atheist, I have no problem with someone attacking my views — I have a case to back them up.

      To me, the unwillingness to engage on the part of many Christians belies an underlying lack of confidence in their stated beliefs.

      Answer the freakin’ question!!!

      Oh, and after reading, appreciating, and fully comprehending your earlier point, I was highly amused by the dearth of reading comprehension skills that subsequently arose among some commenters…

      Cheers,

      Emma

      • DR

        What straight answers are you looking for, Emma? I answered your question about you and your boyfriend. It’s a vacation weekend so you know, people probably aren’t hanging out online too much. Would you point to something you didn’t get a response to?

        One thing to consider: productive debates start with people acknowledging the premises from which they ask questions and offer specific points of view. The two people talking don’t need to “agree” on those premises but they do need to acknowledge them. Atheists and Christians sometimes don’t do this very well. For example, you don’t believe in Jesus in the same ways I might. That’s a premise so I’m not going to offer anything where you’d have to address that. Similarly, faith can’t be proven in the same ways that science proves things through analysis and successful repetition. That’s a faulty premise. Often atheists asks Christians to “prove it” using a scientific premise as the only exclusive acceptance of a “proof” of faith. Which is impossible. So when talking about this stuff with Christians, be aware of the expectations you have and what you ask of Christians to “back up”.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        Emma: I can tell you that I didn’t answer your question because it was extremely clear that your only real desire in asking it was to provoke an argument. Your veneer of earnestness seemed as thin as you’ve since proved it to be.

  • DarwinsGauntlet

    Candace, I can assure you, despite your paranoid, jaded mischaracterization of me or my intentions, that I "genuinely" want to hear the answer to my question, and do not wish to partake in your ad hominem attacks, or further derailment from my original blog-pertinent questions. John himself never addressed my simple question here within this blog. What's more, is neither have you for that matter. If you think he's done so elsewhere, I'm open to following any provided links. If you can't control your compulsion to pathologically sling mud however, I'll have to ignore our exchange. I'm here to talk about the blog, not your stereotypes or your subjective view of me.

    Back to the topic at hand, and looking at another of John's statements:

    –"I’m only saying that any God-based belief system that addresses the entirety of the human experience–including emotions, which are the most inexplicable part of the human experience–can be a comfort and even intellectual touchstone (or at any rate a very valuabe life tool) for the believer that the non-believer simply lacks."–

    This is an argument for the utility of religion, which any educated secularist won't deny, but it says nothing about the evidence of a creator, or the credibility of monotheistic beliefs. Furthermore, it's unfounded conjecture to say that only "God-based belief systems" can address the entirety of the human experience. It presupposes that selective delusion, and adherence to restrictive iron age doctrine, is the pinnacle of the human experience. It also, assumes that the secularist is devoid the same fulfilling experiences that the religious facilitate by subconsciously ascribing feelings of tranquility, harmony, love, unity, bliss ect to a creator agent. Secularists with a good grounding in psychology, simply ascribe those feeling to themselves (or super-ego in this case). They don't need the supernatural god delusion to feel the same things. A more conspicuous example of this can be easily found on the beaming faces of Tony Robbins seminar attendees, and followers of other similar self-motivation speakers. Religion is useful for those that need it, but it's simply a psychological tool like any other that has utility. Guided Meditation, Behavioral Therapy, Buddhism, Hinduism, pharmacological means, Chakra mediation, nutrition and yoga, self-exile and introspection etc. etc. There are infinite ways to achieve elevated states of well being, self-transendence, and true harmony that can match and even exceed that of a church congregation, Sunday, full mass.

    The claim that monotheism is the only path to these types of experiences, simply isn't true, and I think even the casual observer can see that when weighing all of their options, monotheism is more injurious comparatively because of the antiquated oppressive baggage of the doctrine that comes with it.

    • A Remnant

      DarwinsGauntlet

      I’m probably too late……but just in case……if you have a link to more of your thoughts on this subject, I would very much appreciate it. I may not agree with everything said by Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins, Thomas Paine or even Albert J Nock but I do, very much, admire their way of saying it. I wish I had spent more of my life gaining the skills necessary to express a thought anywhere near as well as you have done here. I share your thoughts and thank you for taking the time to share them with us.

  • Candace

    (grin)

    I rest my case.

  • Candace

    (grin)

    I rest my case.

  • Candace

    (grin)

    I rest my case.

  • Serena

    lol candace you never made one..

  • Serena

    lol candace you never made one..

  • A Remnant

    DarwinsGauntlet

    I’m probably too late……but just in case……if you have a link to more of your thoughts on this subject, I would very much appreciate it. I may not agree with everything said by Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins, Thomas Paine or even Albert J Nock but I do, very much, admire their way of saying it. I wish I had spent more of my life gaining the skills necessary to express a thought anywhere near as well as you have done here. I share your thoughts and thank you for taking the time to share them with us.

  • Emma

    DarwinsGauntlet:

    This is also late, but I’ve been reading through the comment sections of some posts from this blog, and I agree. Why is it so hard to get a straight answer???

    As an atheist, I have no problem with someone attacking my views — I have a case to back them up.

    To me, the unwillingness to engage on the part of many Christians belies an underlying lack of confidence in their stated beliefs.

    Answer the freakin’ question!!!

    Oh, and after reading, appreciating, and fully comprehending your earlier point, I was highly amused by the dearth of reading comprehension skills that subsequently arose among some commenters…

    Cheers,

    Emma

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

    Emma: I can tell you that I didn’t answer your question because it was extremely clear that your only real desire in asking it was to provoke an argument. Your veneer of earnestness seemed as thin as you’ve since proved it to be.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

    Emma: I can tell you that I didn’t answer your question because it was extremely clear that your only real desire in asking it was to provoke an argument. Your veneer of earnestness seemed as thin as you’ve since proved it to be.


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