Now Everything Makes Sense

Ty made this comment in On The Consolations of Atheism, but I thought it was so good I wanted to highlight it in a post:

When I believed in an interventionist Christian God, the universe didn’t make any sense at all. I just had to keep telling myself it didn’t make any sense because God’s thoughts were higher than my thoughts, and somehow it all made sense to him.

Once I abandoned supernaturalism in general, and god concepts as part of that, suddenly the universe made perfect sense. The universe is what it is. It offers no plans, no inherent meaning, and asks nothing of us in return. If a meteorite wipes us all out tomorrow, it won’t be an act of vengeance, or retribution, or any sort of malevolent act of any kind. It will just be the natural workings of well understood physical laws and being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

This freed me to accept bad things happening with no seeming explanation, and it also inspired me to create what comfort and happiness I can in the people I care about. The universe won’t do it for me.

Well said, Ty!

  • mikespeir

    Yes it is well said. My thoughts exactly, but perhaps better expressed.

    • Tobytwo

      Ditto. This is what it all boils down to.

  • Woodwose

    Its often said that “Bad things happen o good people.” They happen to bad people too … but we just don’t care!

    • Baconsbud

      You are so right on this. Most people only want to know when bad things happen to good people.

  • Elemenope

    Theism is certainly not the most parsimonious of theories; it raises so many more questions than it solves that it has always confused me on some level that people argued it made things simpler for them when it comes to understanding the world.

    • trj

      There’s a difference between things becoming simpler as a result of you understanding them for yourself and things becoming simpler as a result of you giving up on searching for the answers.

      I’ll venture that most believers who say that believing in God makes things simpler say so because they trust that others (God or their fellow believers) have the answers to everything, including all the confusing and unpleasant questions, which liberates them from having to search for answers themselves.

      • Spirula

        Reminds me of my “believer” days when it became all the rage in our church to add “Lord willing” to every prayer. Prayer not answered? “It’s God’s will!” Prayer “answered”? “Praise be to God! Proof of God!”

  • Audrey Hopkins

    It’s always great when someone writes exactly what I have been thinking in such an eloquent way. Ty can count on my plagiarizing his comments. Well done!

  • Siberia

    Yeah, it did explain a lot.
    Well done, Ty. I agree.

  • http://foreverinhell.blogspot.com Personal Failure

    Perfect! Once I realized that, I was set free. No longer did I have to excuse God for allowing small children to die of cancer or burn to death in fires. Things happen. I may perceive them as good or bad, but outside of my own perception, they simply are.

  • Olaf

    Perfectly explained how I see it too.
    The universe might kill me with a meteorite, but at least I had a wonderfull and interesting life.

  • Jonny Rad

    But then this begs the question: how did the universe get here? Who/what was the first cause? I feel like every worldview has to answer that. Also, if this is a completely naturalistic place, where do morals come from?

    I’m really interested to see people’s answers : )

    • Siberia

      how did the universe get here?

      I don’t know. How did God get here?

      Who/what was the first cause?

      Why is a first cause necessary? What makes you think it wasn’t a combination of events – perhaps even utterly unrelated to the result?

      I feel like every worldview has to answer that.

      Why?

      Also, if this is a completely naturalistic place, where do morals come from?

      Biology itself – social behavior. What’s good for the species is good morals, what’s bad for the species is bad morals. We punish the ones that go against the newest flavor, we reward those who stand up for it. At least, that’s what I’d think.

      I’m really interested to see people’s answers : )

      Alas, I have only more questions :)

      • Tobytwo

        Insisting upon a world view that answers life’s ultimate — and currently unanswerable — questions is a mistake. Why not be satisfied with the amazing things we do understand about ourselves and the universe? Why not be in awe about how lucky we are to exist in this place and time, when we are in a position to know more than any other living being on Earth ever has about the cosmos?

        • Baconsbud

          Well put.

      • TheWrathOfOliverKhan

        Biology itself – social behavior.

        Axelrod’s The Evolution of Cooperation is a great analysis of how this can happen without any intervention from a “higher authority.” I recommend it very highly.

        • Siberia

          Thanks for the suggestion! I’ll check it out!

        • Ty

          I think the most damning evidence against the ‘higher authority’ argument for morals is that all the holy books that claim to have those revealed morals require a shitload of human interpretation to make even a lick of sense.

          • Tobytwo

            Good point. Why wouldn’t God provide his word in clear language that anyone could understand? To anyone who would respond, “it doesn’t work that way,” don’t bother. If God is God, he could pass down a moral code unambiguously.

            • Siberia

              Actually, one could argue God hardwired moral behavior in us – except some have a “faulty compass”.
              Would make more sense than trusting ancient books.

            • JonJon

              ^^

              This

            • Sunny Day

              “Actually, one could argue God hardwired moral behavior in us – except some have a “faulty compass”.”

              I’ve seen it argued like that. Sometimes you feel guilty = thats god talking to you. It’s like saying water is wet because god made it that way. It doesn’t really answer anything.

            • Ty

              Nothing about god explains or answers anything.

              People just like it anyway.

            • Ty

              Also, Jonjon, that explanation you like like fails on a variety of levels. My favorite failure is that god’s own chosen people, acting with his blessing and on his behalf, engaged in activities that we today would find vile in the extreme.

              Does that mean that we have broken compasses regarding slavery, rape, and murder because those things would bother our consciences, and they clearly didn’t bother the biblical practitioners of them?

            • Heidi

              My current favorite example of this is:

              Deuteronomy 22:28-29: If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives. (NIV)

              So if we’re going to follow biblical morals, then rape victims should be forced to marry their rapist, right? After she has been duly purchased from her father, of course.*

              (With thanks to Atheist Keith’s post in the About.com forums.)

              *Note that there is indeed a measure of hostility in this statement, as I am utterly offended by this bible passage.

            • Siberia

              Agreed that it doesn’t answer anything, but god’s such a fluid concept – and people are slippery about it, too.
              Also, as someone who’s seen the damage that forcing a girl (14) to marry her rapist (+40) can cause, I am too absolutely disgusted by that passage.

            • JonJon

              Culturally, a rape victim marrying the rapist would have been something helpful in most cases, since without proof of virginity, women were unmarriageable, and therefore worthless and were condemned to live with their own family as second class citizens.

              @ Ty

              What, moral good can’t change over time? I thought we had all agreed that some things that were ‘right’ today could be ‘wrong’ in the future, right? So why wouldn’t a perfect morality, built into people but often ignored, be able to accommodate changing times? Heck, it could change with time far more fluidly than a codified moral code written down some place.

            • JonJon

              @ Heidi

              Also, I’m pretty sure you could get stoned for getting raped in the first place. Rape victims even today are often blamed for the crime committed against them. This ensured that the victim wouldn’t be killed outright.

            • Heidi

              JonJon, are you actually defending the practice of forcing her to marry her rapist?? If so, then you’re bloody disgusting. You (and your god?) are saying that since she had a choice between stoning, second class citizenship, or sex slavery, the sex slavery is ok. That’s positively sickening. I’m certainly glad *I* don’t get my morals from this twisted piece of evil literature.

            • JonJon

              I’m not saying any of the options are great. There really aren’t any great options in this situation. I’m saying that because the choice is between death, being scorned by your family and forced to live with them anyway with no chance at a family of your own, and *marriage* (which doesn’t equate to sex slavery, btw; the rapist is forced to feed, clothe, and shelter his victim for the rest of his natural life, and it gives a chance at a normal life for the victim) that marriage is probably the best option available in that society.

              What would your punishment for this guy be? Kill him and give all his stuff to the victim? What would you do for her? Teleport her to another culture?

              I’m sorry you think this is evil. I think if this was mandated in our own culture, it would indeed be evil. Just because something is evil in our society does not mean it was evil in all societies.

            • Baconsbud

              I have to side with Heidi here. If your god is so morally superior, why couldn’t he have said something like any victim of rape will be still seen as a virgin since it wasn’t her fault she was attacked? In a way you are condoning the continued belief by some cultures that it is the female that is to be punished for being raped.

            • Heidi

              Just because something is evil in our society does not mean it was evil in all societies.

              Yes, yes it does. They (and your god) might not have considered it evil, but it was evil, nonetheless. Your god shouldn’t have society-dependent morals, should he? And yet, not only did he not stop it, but he let it be commanded in his inerrant holy book.

            • Sunny Day

              JonJon

              “Culturally, a rape victim marrying the rapist would have been something helpful in most cases”

              I’m glad to see you admit morals are relative. Now, whats with that hogwash you were supporting that said they were hardwired in?

              If morals do change, and are supposed to change for the “better” what need is there for a god to change them?

      • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lukejrosynek L. Jerome

        I used to labor of the question of “what started it,” but why must there be a “start?”

        So much points to there being no real beginning; as in, god created, or the big bang created, because:
        If you posit that there had to be a first cause – then wouldn’t you also have to concede that the causer needs a cause?

        Mormons say God was a man just like us, and he was really good and nice and was able to get to his level of Godliness and now rules over us (his children) – well what God does he answer to / worship? I want that God on my prayer line – why worship the Assistant Manager when you know there is a CEO that writes all of our checks?

        The seeming truth is, humans had a start, religion had a start, civilization had a start, industry had a start, but the universe? Perhaps the way the universe works is that it just is…we popped up in it. We’ve been kicking dirt around for about 150,000 years – give or take – and we will disappear again.

        It is quite amazing that the universe exists rather than nothing – but if it were just nothing, well……… (<—–that signifies nothingness)

        • Ty

          Mormon cosmology is a lot like Amway, isn’t it?

        • Korny

          I’m not at all convinced things like civilisation and humans and industry had a start either. Biologically speaking, there were apes, and then there were apes that walked on two legs and had slightly bigger brains, and then there were apes with bigger brains that walked on two legs that were a bit less hairy and so on – but when you start calling them “human” is pretty arbitrary.
          Civilisation developed out a self-reinforcing cycle of many things – and it’s only the interaction of many of them that generated civilisation. At no point in history can you say “yesterday there was no civilisation, and today there is.” So in what way does it have a start in terms of a discrete point-to-something-solid-HERE-IT-IS kind of way?

          • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lukejrosynek L. Jerome

            I think I generally understand where you are going with your statement – and I am pretty much on-board with it. However, I feel that I can’t let it pass that it is a little bit an argument of semantics that you offer.

            I get the progression thought exercise – today there is an animal we call human, but its parents are not? Today we have a group we call civilization, but yesterday they weren’t? Totally valid discussion to have, but aside from the point. To go further, here is how Wiki describes civilization:

            A civilization is a society or culture group normally defined as a complex society characterized by the practice of agriculture and settlement in towns and cities. Compared with other cultures, members of a civilization are commonly organized into a diverse division of labor and an intricate social hierarchy.

            Therefore, really, a family ‘could’ be labeled a civilization – but of course it is us labeling them and arguing over whether it could fit the definition. Adorable to have the discussion, but it doesn’t change what it is. Group – probably some shelter – probably agriculture (what is agriculture? one carrot? 3?). The term “complex” now becomes a serious topic of discussion – but it is only about the label.

            The human argument is a bit different and I’m now quite interested in it. We can look at the DNA or chromosomes – there is an identifiable pattern – if it weren’t human, it wouldn’t have it. Could it have been so close we could not tell the difference in the genome? That would be incredible. I’ll have to think about that for a little while.

            Nevertheless – there were hominids without civilization – certainly without industry – and then there were hominids with those things.

            There was not necessarily absolute nothingness and the a universe of somethingness. (I have no way of proving this, however.) (considering deleting this – nope, posting)

            • Korny

              Ahh, what I thought you meant by a start of civilisation (etc) was what not you thought you meant. What you thought you meant makes perfect sense – we agree entirely.

              And your point about the universe is even better if a “start” does not have to be discrete point.

              I was asked about this once in an evolution of behaviour class – do I think the universe started or has always been and I refused to pick a side. The universe is just too damn weird for either of those to be right. :D
              (I don’t know why the evolution of behaviour lecturer wanted to know about our veiws on cosmology either!)

            • Siberia

              The human argument is a bit different and I’m now quite interested in it. We can look at the DNA or chromosomes – there is an identifiable pattern – if it weren’t human, it wouldn’t have it. Could it have been so close we could not tell the difference in the genome? That would be incredible. I’ll have to think about that for a little while.

              Consider a child with Down’s syndrome: it has a genotype slightly different from the average human – a replication of chromossome 23, if I’m not mistaken. Is a child with Down’s syndrome human? Certainly, but it is different. And so it happens with several million mutations that, while differentiating humans from each other, do not cross the “genetic fence” into another species.

              But if there’s infinite variation and difference and modification inside the species itself, how different “different” has to be for us to declare that a human is not a human? That’s the beauty of biology – it’s a gradient, not discrete steps. We have humans, we have apes and we have the thousand million iterations between us – most extinct, maybe even more unidentifiable to us, but there are.

              I don’t think we can’t distinguish what is a human and what isn’t, simply because the concept of species itself is rather murky.

            • Korny

              Yeah, there are about 3 or four MAIN different definitions and dozens of variants of each. And they’re not mutually exclusive either, so several can be variously applicable to the same situation, depending either on what you’re aiming to do or what point you’re trying to prove.
              But I’ve just watched the finale of Battlestar Gallactica so good luck getting any sense out of me when it comes to defining human for a while :D.

    • Booger

      Well, that’s where you go astray. No worldview has to answer that. Suffice it to say “we don’t know” and leave it at that. End of story.

      Morals come from empathy.

    • Sven

      “where do morals come from?”

      Morals come from people who recognized that working together gives more security. This was later recognized and put in the bible.
      Morals do not come from the bible. If so, please explain “thou shalt not kill” and the death penalty in the US.

      My question to you;
      You can not call all the murder, rape and slaughter in the bible ‘good morals’ do you?
      If you agree, ask yourself the question what part of you decides which parts of the bible show “good morals” and which parts do not show “good morals”.

      • Question-I-thority

        The phrase from the Decalogue, “Thou shalt not kill” is better translated, “Thou shalt not murder” At least that was the understanding 25 years ago when I studied such things. But, of course, there are overwhelming examples in the Bible of horrible morality that is directly attributed to it’s god so your underlying point is well taken.

    • John

      how did the universe get here? Who/what was the first cause? I feel like every worldview has to answer that.

      Why? What if there just aren’t any viable answers? Do you just make one up in that case?

      Sometimes “I don’t know” is the only intellectually honest answer anyone can come up with.

      • Yoav

        Took the word out of my mouth. As we study the universe we get some better understanding so there are fewer questions to answer “don’t know” on. Will we be able in the future to give a different answer to where did the universe came from, maybe, but just saying god did it and claim you solved the problem sounds like cheating to me.

    • Jonny Rad

      Haha, Siberia I like your response. There’s no way to explain how God got here — He just was. My thought is that we can’t understand it because we can’t understand eternity and being outside of time. I know that kind of answer leaves a lot to be picked apart on my end (perhaps it’s blind faith?), but He’s the “uncaused-causer”. Perhaps you could even apply the same explanation to matter and energy. I just feel there are too many awesome things on earth you can’t explain through evolution/naturalism. The immune system, and anything with the human body really, amazes me the most.

      Thanks for responding though : ) You guys really know what you believe, and I respect that.

      • CoffeeJedi

        there are too many awesome things on earth you can’t explain through evolution/naturalism. The immune system, and anything with the human body really, amazes me the most.

        But…. one CAN explain those things. In fact, we have a great method for doing just that. It’s called “science” and it produces things like “medicine” and “the internet”. The immune system is the kind of thing that makes far MORE sense when viewed as arising from a complex interaction of self-serving forces for millions of years, than it does as a designed system from a single point of origin.

      • John

        there are too many awesome things on earth you can’t explain through evolution/naturalism

        Perhaps you nor I can explain them, but lots of other people can, and in great detail. I’m always taken aback, say, when I visit any wikipedia page on some animal or body part or astronomical object, the amount of painstaking detail with which these things have been studied, classified, argued about, deconstructed, compared, built upon, etc.

        Billions of person-hours have gone into studying and explaining these things outside your purview. Spend ten minutes at talkorigins.org and see if you don’t go dizzy at the vast amounts of human knowledge you didn’t know was there before.

        • http://ironymous.blogspot.com/ nomad

          Do they actually explain? Or do they just describe. For example, you can describe the mechanisms of life, but you can’t really explain why it is what it is.

          • Ty

            Evolution attempts to do both.

            It describes what is, and then shows through evolutionary processes why those results occur.

            In fact, good science always does both. Unless by ‘why’ you mean some sort of underlying master plan.

            I always hate when creationists describe evolutionary processes as creatures ‘wanting’ various traits. But that word shows up all the time. “Why would animal X waste resources on trait Y? Why would it want that trait?”

            Natural processes don’t ‘want’ anything.

            • http://ironymous.blogspot.com/ nomad

              Of course I do. Can “why” mean anything else?

          • CoffeeJedi

            Define “why”?
            Things happen because something else happened. That’s it, that’s all the “why” science cares about.

            Why did event A happen?
            Because of event B.
            How did event B happen?
            It contains processes 1, 2, and 3.
            Why does B contain 1, 2, and 3.
            Because of event C.
            How did C happen?
            It contains processes 4, 5, and 6

            I think you can see where this is going. But really, that’s it. You just keep reducing those events and processes down until you get to infinitesimal levels, then you try to go deeper. There’s no need for a “why” beyond that.

          • John

            They explain how things got to be where they are. I was presuming that’s what Jonny Rad meant.

            As for the why, who said there is one? That you’re searching for something doesn’t mean it’s there.

            • rodneyAnonymous

              Asking a Cosmic Why also presupposes there is something to ask. Otherwise the question is meaningless… purpose from what perspective?

              Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

      • http://ironymous.blogspot.com/ nomad

        The question about first causes is more of a statement about the orientation of the questioner than an actual question. It identifies the primary concern of human beings: causes (reason). Only a finite being can have such an issue. From the perspective of infinity, limitless time, limitless space, the idea of a first cause is meaningless.

        • Ty

          As Dawkins points out, our brains evolved to perceive medium sized objects moving at medium speeds and at medium distances. Once we move into the very large or the very small, we are quite literally forcing our brains to do something they were never evolved to do.

          A similar point is that all of our ancestors were the ones that saw the bushes move and assumed that meant something moved them, and then ran away. The need to link affects to causes is literally burned into our brains by millions of years of survival training. You have to train your brain to abandon that with a lot of effort if you want to get past it.

        • CoffeeJedi

          Actually we’re discovering some really really “weird” things about the fundamental nature of the universe and how it all began.

          Basically, before the big bang, when there was only the singularity, cause and effect didn’t really exist, because time didn’t exist yet. Causality rules hadn’t worked themselves out yet. And even saying “yet” in that sentence is meaningless because it implies that “time” somehow “passed” when time didn’t even exist.

          It is nearly impossible to wrap your brain around, as we are finite beings, but we invented math to help us out, and computers aren’t bothered by our silly temporal limitations in their thinking.

      • Siberia

        I’m glad you did :)
        The same could be thought about the universe, however. Think: if space and time are connected, and there was a time when there was no space, you could assume there was no time; thus, a question about “before” the beginning makes no sense. I can’t really come up with the specifics, considering I’m at work and supposed to be, uh, working, but I can point you to The Universe in a Nutshell – which is a great attempt to explain the origins to laymen. At least I thought so.

        As for the immune system… having an autoimmune disease since I was eight months old, for no particular (known) reason, I beg to differ about its awesomeness ;) but see, that’s the point: it exists for a reason; to protect us. Those of us who have good immune systems (such as, say, one that doesn’t eat itself) have a better chance of survival and thus, passing on the genes. Those who don’t, will most likely die (as I would have if modern medicine didn’t exist) or have their chances greatly reduced (as it happens).

        I’ll say, it IS awesome. I love it. That’s why I love biology; it amazes me how the world could get to the point it is now. The diversity and ingenuity of lifeforms is simply amazing.

    • Question-I-thority

      Jonny Rad:

      How do you answer the infinite regression problem (it’s turtles all the way down) expressed in the First Cause argument?

    • Olaf

      Every question that you ever have is answered here:
      This is what I call a clear scientific answer to all religious questions.

      http://talkorigins.org/indexcc/list.html

    • Jabster

      I don’t think “begs the question” means what you whink it does …

  • Ty

    The assumption that there must be a first cause is not one backed by any evidence. God as a theory also only pushes first cause back one level. Why do arguments that the universe could appear without any sort of first cause not then apply to why a god might appear without a first cause?

    Besides, things pop into and out of existence all the time with no apparent cause. The only rule seems to be that the net energy is zero. Research Hawking radiation to get one example of this spontaneous appearance of particles that add zero energy to the universe. And, it is entirely possible, and looking for likely as we learn more, that the net energy of the universe is zero as well.

    • JonJon

      “The assumption that there must be a first cause is not one backed by any evidence.”

      If that is true, then why include a reference to hawking radiation?

      I think ‘everything in the universe that we have ever seen (except things on a quantum level, where our understanding is not so good) is caused’ is decent evidence. The fact that you bring up an exception to evidence which supposedly doesn’t exist makes me think that there actually is evidence…

      In answer to your second question, God is defined for a whole school of philosophy as ‘first cause’ and that’s all. Anything caused, according to this definition cannot be God. The problem isn’t that God pushes the whole question one step farther back, but that without a first cause, we are left with an infinite regression of causes and no beginning. Physical evidence and philosophy don’t mix well, but incidentally, the physical evidence we have about the origins of the universe indicate that it had a beginning, not that it has existed in an infinite regression of causes.

      • Ty

        Because Hawking radiation has no first cause. Photons and anti-photons pop into existence out of nothing, and then collapse back into nothing when they annihilate each other. They are basically the universe saying “I don’t have to explain shit to you about why things happen, sometimes they just do.”

        The ‘god as first cause’ philosophy has as its basis ‘we humans don’t understand things that break the cause/effect cycle, so we’ll make something up’. It has absolutely no evidence to support it, and is thus basically a word game we play with ourselves.

        And while the universe has had a beginning, that says nothing about the cosmos having a beginning. Just because peas can’t see outside the pod doesn’t mean the pod is the only thing in existence. Now, as Hawking very rightly points out, the fact that our universe exists in a larger cosmos made up of infinite universes or even stranger things is interesting, but not useful until we can find evidence of those things. It may be entirely possible that since we exist in this space/time, we are physically incapable of learning what happened prior to it, if past/present/future even have meaning in that context.

        But at least the physicists and theoreticians admit that they are playing word games and have no evidence to support them outside of some exotic math. Most theologians won’t make the same admission.

        • Jonny Rad

          Theologians base it on faith, not science. That’s the difference. We wouldn’t have known about Creation unless it was in the Bible. We can’t prove that the earth was created the way it is detailed, but we believe it. It’s not all science.

          • Ty

            I admit, I find that sort of sad.

            I mean, the only reason you picked this arbitrary creation story (if you are like 90% of religious folks in the world) is because of an accident of birth.

            If you lived in India you’d be Hindu or Muslim, if you lived in Taiwan you’d be Buddhist.

            It just seems like such an abdication of intellectual choice to me.

            But that’s just me.

          • CoffeeJedi

            That’s cute.

            We rationalists CAN prove the earth was created in the way we think it was. In fact, we made no presuppositions, we just searched and found the answer. Don’t need to throw out any evidence that doesn’t support our theory, we just add it in and adjust the theory.

            You on the other hand, have ignore MOUNTAINS of good evidence just to bring your thinking in line with that of bronze-age nomadic goat herders.

          • Question-I-thority

            If your position is based on faith why do you try to make rational arguments about it?

            • JonJon

              because faith does not preclude rationality, nor does rationality preclude faith.

            • rodneyAnonymous

              Faith and reason are like two different languages, baby.

            • JonJon

              and it is impossible to be bilingual?

            • Question-I-thority

              But if your faith is based on then what is the need for rational arguments? Faith does not preclude coffee drinking nor does coffee drinking preclude faith.

            • JonJon

              I wouldn’t pursue a faith which was incompatible with rationality, if that’s what you mean… Rationality is important to the human mind.

            • rodneyAnonymous

              Sorry I thought it would be obvious that I don’t think that. If reason is a language, faith is gibberish.

            • Ty

              Jon, you are astonishingly compartmentalized.

              Faith is by definition irrational. Rationality requires evidence, which faith, by definition, lacks. Faith is belief in spite of a lack of evidence.

              If you mean by your comment that your faith does not include anything that has evidence actively against it, then yes, many modern liberal theologies work that way.

              But I can’t see how you can make the claim that they are compatible beyond the fact that you’ve defined your areas of faith to not include anything that rationality will bump into.

            • JonJon

              You’ve defined faith as ‘irrational.’

              faith is irrational, therefore faith is irrational…

              This is circular.

              Rationality does not require evidence. Rationality requires only the mind.

              Faith may be belief without evidence, but it is not necessarily irrational.

            • JonJon

              And yes, I compartmentalize. I think that’s an important skill both to understand the arguments of those who disagree with you and for critically examining your own position on a given issue. Unless your criticism is that I’m not a holistic person, in which case… okay I guess?

              Sorry to be terse, I’m a little tired today…

        • JonJon

          @ Ty

          “The ‘god as first cause’ philosophy has as its basis ‘we humans don’t understand things that break the cause/effect cycle, so we’ll make something up’.”

          Nope. It has its basis in the fact that everything we have ever observed has eventually been found to have a cause. The best you can say is that Hawking Radiation appears uncaused. And that this is unusual and noteworthy exactly because everything else we have ever observed has been found to have a cause.

          I made the above claim very strongly, and this could come back to bite me. I am by no means a physicist. I am an undergrad liberal arts major; I like science, but it isn’t my consuming passion. I know a deal more about philosophy than I do about science, but I can’t think of anything besides Hawking radiation and the explosion of a singularity into a universe that is ‘uncaused.’

          Furthermore, one of the principle functions and motivations of science is a better understanding of the causes of things. It isn’t as though we don’t care that Hawking Radiation appears uncaused. I guarantee people would love to know what causes it, and are therefore probably on the lookout for likely explanations. That’s what science does.

          Yes, sometimes at the intersection of science and philosophy there are word games. I don’t think you can just dismiss all of them, though. Philosophy is, in large part, word games, and while I suppose you could relegate an entire discipline to the dust heap, I’m not sure if I would follow you down that road.

          The problem of an infinite series of causes, though, is more than a word game. It gets at the heart of what science is. If you allow for an infinite regression of causes, then science becomes a purely pragmatic exercise, and cannot claim anything beyond the next step. I think of science as a search for the truth of things, the way they really are, their underlying makeup. If A is explained by B is explained by C into infinity, then science can never get to the heart of what it is observing. This is an acceptable role for science, but it effectively means that science has less firm of a grip on truth than philosophy, which I find dissatisfying.

          • Heidi

            Nope. It has its basis in the fact that everything we have ever observed has eventually been found to have a cause.

            So are you saying that because you assume there must be a “first cause,” that it is then logically a magic anthropomorphic being who doesn’t eat, breathe or obey any of the laws of physics? And that makes more sense to you than…

            The ‘god as first cause’ philosophy has as its basis ‘we humans don’t understand things that break the cause/effect cycle, so we’ll make something up’.

            Seriously?

            • JonJon

              “So are you saying that because you assume there must be a “first cause,” that it is then logically a magic anthropomorphic being who doesn’t eat, breathe or obey any of the laws of physics?”

              nope. I’m saying that there are logical consequences to there not being a first cause. As I said above: “God is defined for a whole school of philosophy as ‘first cause’ and that’s all.” The philosophical definition of God based on the first cause argument is simply an uncaused causer. Omniscience and omnibevenolence don’t come into it, because that would be an unreasonable leap. What comes into it is that having an infinite regression of causes raises a whole host of unpleasant and messy issues.

            • Heidi

              So then the term “god” is basically meaningless, and you might as well just call it “thing,” or “big bang,” or “nothing.”

            • Korny

              Only if time is linear. If it’s not, we’re sweet. :D

            • JonJon

              How about ‘uncaused causer.’ I don’t think that phrase is meaningless.

              I’m confused about where you are going with this…
              I’m all sorts of not evangelizing, but I’m getting hostility signals. I haven’t said anything about a personal God, I haven’t said that the currently accepted cosmological model must be wrong; I don’t think I’ve mentioned anything that wouldn’t be fair game in a classroom (philosophy, not physics). The reason that ‘uncaused causer’ gets assigned to ‘God’ is that the classic idea of God could, if actually an existing entity, fill that role, which seems to have an unusual set of requirements. By no means, however, does what fills that role have to be ‘God’ in any capacity other than an initial cause.

            • Heidi

              … Um, what in the world did I say that was hostile??

            • JonJon

              “So are you saying that because you assume there must be a “first cause,” that it is then logically a magic anthropomorphic being who doesn’t eat, breathe or obey any of the laws of physics? And that makes more sense to you than…

              The ‘god as first cause’ philosophy has as its basis ‘we humans don’t understand things that break the cause/effect cycle, so we’ll make something up’.

              Seriously?”

              Meh, I was picking up signals from that. If I misread, then I apologize. The internet is nice, but not always the best medium for this sort of thing.

            • Heidi

              I still don’t see where you’re getting hostility from that question. But yes, you did apparently misread.

          • Ty

            “Nope. It has its basis in the fact that everything we have ever observed has eventually been found to have a cause. ”

            You are unwilling to grant this possibility for anything other than your god, who is given a get out of causality free card just because?

            • JonJon

              If a cause was found for god, then under this definition, god wouldn’t be the uncaused causer, and therefore wouldn’t be god…

              I’m confused by your question. We could posit a cause for the christian god, but at that point, this particular philosophical definition of god no longer applies to the christian god. Unfortunately, neither does the the christian definition of god. Therefore, if some entity like the christian god was discovered and also found to have been caused, that would not negate the need for a first cause.

      • Question-I-thority

        without a first cause, we are left with an infinite regression of causes and no beginning

        We are left with a mystery for which we are allowed to hold conclusions in abeyance until there is sufficient evidence.

        At least hold off until there is a plausible theory. What philosophers posit as First Cause is not some empty thing but a highly complex entity. It has the same problem you are trying to solve. Stating by fiat that God has always exited is special pleading.

      • Siberia

        In answer to your second question, God is defined for a whole school of philosophy as ‘first cause’ and that’s all. Anything caused, according to this definition cannot be God. The problem isn’t that God pushes the whole question one step farther back, but that without a first cause, we are left with an infinite regression of causes and no beginning. Physical evidence and philosophy don’t mix well, but incidentally, the physical evidence we have about the origins of the universe indicate that it had a beginning, not that it has existed in an infinite regression of causes.

        Ah, but Buddhism posits that samsara is, always was and always will be – which means it could be an eternal cycle of creation and destruction of universes (much like, in Buddhism, people are born, die, are born again, die again…) for no more reason than because that’s the way it is.

        • JonJon

          “for no more reason than because that’s the way it is”

          See, that seems like a bad argument to me, and may be doing what I have been avoiding: just saying ‘we don’t understand so we’ll make something up…’

          • Ty

            No no no.

            It’s not that at all. It’s saying, “We don’t understand, so we’ll ADMIT WE DON’T UNDERSTAND.” Which is pretty much exactly the opposite of “we don’t understand, so we’ll make something up.”

            • JonJon

              this was directed at the Buddhist doctrine siberia mentioned.

              saying ‘that’s the way it is’ is rarely a good argument.

              I don’t think that’s what you’re doing, but what that Buddhist doctrine entails.

          • Siberia

            Which is why I’m not a Buddhist, or religious at all. I don’t know. I’ll admit I don’t know. I won’t make up stuff to fill the blanks…

  • Ty

    Ugh, that was supposed to read “Why do arguments that the universe could NOT appear without any sort of first cause not then apply to why a god might appear without a first cause?”

  • Ty

    “if this is a completely naturalistic place, where do morals come from? ”

    The simple answer is naturalistic processes. Five minutes on google will give you hundreds of articles on the evolution of pack behaviors and morals.

    Five minutes reading the holy texts of just about any religion will tell you that morals definitely don’t come from god/s.

  • http://brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

    I’ve found it very interesting to read the various “testimonies” (for lack of a better term) from you all at UF (especially in the forum). Liberation is something we Christians tend to tout as valuable in our own faith and lives; to hear atheists speak of feeling liberated after leaving Christianity is very thought-provoking for me.

    • Question-I-thority

      I was really, really surprised how much my empathy increased after ‘leaving the faith’.

  • http://www.atheist-pig.com Mike S.

    I agree, that is a great observation.

  • Ty

    And, contrary to what some theists will claim, the freedom is not freedom from responsibility or moral obligations.

    In fact, I didn’t pick up a single new vice after leaving religion.

  • http://meanderwithme.com Allison

    Daniel, THANK YOU for bringing this up to the front page. Ty quite eloquently stated what I’ve discovered also. I’m likely to repost this (with linkage and credit, of course) at my place, it resonates with me so much.

    Ty, not only have I not picked up any new vices since leaving religion, I’ve noticed that I’ve dropped quite a few. While I don’t always succeed at holding myself to the highest standard, my standards are higher simply *because* they come from inside of me rather than from without.

    • Ty

      Girlz who know science = hawt.

      <– also an ERV fanboy.

      • Ty

        Wow, that’s really weird, I was posting that in response to Korny way down at the bottom. My browser seems to be doing some seriously weird stuff.

        Sorry, Allison. Didn’t mean to drop a creepy non sequitor on you like that.

        • Korny

          We can’t expect laymen to understand about reply buttons haha :D

          • Ty

            You only say that because science can’t explain the Reply button. Has anyone ever found the transitional forms?

            And if there are Reply buttons, WHY ARE THERE STILL MONKEYS?!?!

            • Korny

              Science doesn’t WANT to explain most of the internet. Science would be permanently scarred by looking too closely at most of the internet.

              And what use is a reply button without a monkey to hit it?

  • Jonny Rad

    Then to be consistent, you also have to agree that no conviction of one person is greater than anyone else’s. Thereby, murder, stealing, cannibalism, cheating, rape, etc. are ok if it comes from within the person’s heart. If there is no basis for convictions or absolute morals, there is no basis for law and the idea of law is a manipulation of someone’s personal free will. Anarchy is the preferred method. Our conceived law of morals would then be substituted with survival.

    Saying there are no absolutes is, in itself, an absolute statement : )

    Another thing: I think the feeling of freedom you folks are describing is the feeling of being accountable to only yourself. Truth be told, if there is no god, that’s a good thing. No need for putting unnecessary rules upon yourself. WIth that understanding in mind, it SHOULD feel like a burden is lifted. But what if you’re wrong? What if you have a misguided sense of liberation when the whole time you are indeed accountable to something higher? Then it’s bad. Not trying to be a “hell-fire-and-brimstone” guy, but the feeling alone doesn’t cut it.

    Thoughts?

    • CoffeeJedi

      Why is an invisible magic sky-man a better source of morals than human society?

      Those things you listed are simply wrong because they hurt other people. Whether we realized this ourselves or it was decided by a god makes no difference.

      Seeing as how we have no evidence for any god, the better explanation is that we just realized the simple fact that “not doing hurtful things to each other” is good.

      • Jonny Rad

        The “man in the sky” is a better source because the one who determines evil and good must be able to fulfill his own standard. If I decide what’s wrong and good, what good is it if I can’t keep it? The ability to discern between good and evil has to be absolute. It may not mean that we know ALL that is good and evil (I don’t claim that either), but there has to be a standard.

        What is harmful to others then? What is “good”? Who determines those two things? On what basis do you claim with authority that we need to care about others? Being a Christian I can safely say that Jesus felt that that is 50% of our moral obligation (Love the Lord, love your neighbor). Especially if you’re big on proof and science I don’t think that a “feeling” or a “realization” is the proof I hear so many people asking for. Is it verifiable? Testable? Repeatable?

        • Bender

          Except he doesn’t fulfill his own standard. He kills innocent people by thousands in the old testament, including women and children.
          The standard for good and evil is another human being. Whatever causes innecesary suffering to another person is wrong. Everything else is invented nonsense.

        • cello

          Unfortunately, good and evil are defined by humanity and the given culture at the time. Slavery was once legal and good, now it is evil. Some think the death penalty is allowable and good, others think it is evil – even within Christianity itself. Yes. It would be easier if we could have absolutes – but I do not observe the world working that way. We build the world we want to live in.

        • CoffeeJedi

          The “man in the sky” is a better source because the one who determines evil and good must be able to fulfill his own standard. If I decide what’s wrong and good, what good is it if I can’t keep it?
          But he doesn’t even fulfill his own standard. The old testament is filled with horrible atrocities committed by God’s followers on his orders.

          The ability to discern between good and evil has to be absolute. It may not mean that we know ALL that is good and evil (I don’t claim that either), but there has to be a standard.
          Well yes, but we DECIDE that standard. Not as individuals, but as a society. Those standards are kept by a democratic government with a transparent and fair legal system. As this society grows and matures, the morals and ethics inevitably get better. That’s why we don’t have slavery any more. That’s why women can vote. That’s why gay people will be able to marry each other very very soon. We begin to realize more and more what is truly fair.

          What is harmful to others then? What is “good”? Who determines those two things?
          Well, knowing what is harmful to others isn’t really even a question. Did you deprive them of their health, life, property, or family? Those things are harmful. Were they caused pain and stress from your actions when they did nothing to you in the first place? Then you had no right to harm them. I have no need for invisible beings to know this.

          On what basis do you claim with authority that we need to care about others?
          My own, because to other people, I am one of those “others”. As are you and Daniel, and everyone else in the world. Every one of us is “other” to everyone else.

          Being a Christian I can safely say that Jesus felt that that is 50% of our moral obligation (Love the Lord, love your neighbor).
          Good for him. Don’t know how real the guy was but he had some nice things to say. But loving an invisible being with no proof of existence when I can spend my time helping others or simply enjoying this world (in a non-harmful way of course) makes no sense to me.

          Especially if you’re big on proof and science I don’t think that a “feeling” or a “realization” is the proof I hear so many people asking for. Is it verifiable? Testable? Repeatable?
          Sure! As I said before, humans have developed societies to band together and protect each other. Good societies work better when the people in them show respect and care for one another. They work even better when different societies show respect and care for each others’ members. This is basic anthropology and political science. It’s the 21st century and we’re finally figuring out that helping each other no matter what “tribe” we come from is a better way to ensure prosperity and distribute resources.

        • Question-I-thority

          Morality as emergent properties of evolution is elegant and parsimonious.

          • Ty

            When things are described as elegant and parsimonious I get a funny feeling in my pants, and I like it!

            • Jabster

              “funny feeling in you pants”? Weird I just think of parmesan cheese.

            • Question-I-thority

              Is that a demon in your pants or were you just happy to read me?

            • Ty

              Little of column A, little of column B…

        • Aor

          @Jonny Rad

          Lets try an experiment.. pick something you think is good. The perfect good thing, something that could never ever ever in any situation be wrong in any way. A concept, an act, whatever it is.. as long as it is always good.

          When you struggle to find an example that can’t be torn to pieces, you may learn that good and bad are indeed relative things.

          • JonJon

            compassion for another person

            • Jabster

              Depends who that person is …

            • JonJon

              No, not really. We should be less compassionate to… who exactly?

            • Jabster

              Oh I don’t know, Hilter or Stalin maybe. Can’t say I feel much compassion for them — do you?

            • JonJon

              no, not really…

              but the question was, would it be wrong if I did feel compassion for them, even if I don’t approve of anything they did. I can’t see compassion being incompatible even with fighting a war against someone, or even killing them for the betterment of humanity. There isn’t any reason I can see that a lack of compassion makes my disapproval somehow ‘better.’

            • Korny

              Na-ah folks, Jabster Godwin’d it. He lost, discussion is over. Move along! :D

            • Jabster

              “A concept, an act, whatever it is.. as long as it is always good.”

              Compassion is not always good in fact compassion can be a hindrance.

            • JonJon

              I’m siding with Korny on this one!

              >:|

            • rodneyAnonymous

              No foul. Godwin’s Law only applies to inappropriate analogies.

            • Jabster

              @RodneyA

              True, very true …

            • Jabster

              “Hilter or Stalin” which makes it a Godwin lite!

          • Aor

            All that needs to be done is find a situation where compassion results in ‘evil’ or ‘bad’ results. Compassion for an unrepentant child molester would be bad if such compassion led to the person being free from punishment, thereby allowing that person to continue to molest.

            Got any other suggestions? That was too easy to destroy.

            • JonJon

              ‘compassion would be bad if (insert something that is morally at fault but not compassion)’ is not a particularly compelling argument.

              Compassion in and of itself does not necessitate that justice is not done, nor is it incompatible with punishment.

            • Aor

              Just because compassion is not incompatible with punishment does not imply in any way that compassion cannot have bad results.

              As I said, “as long as it is always good.” Not always being bad is not the same as always being good.

              Try again.

            • JonJon

              No thanks, Aor.

              I know better now.

            • Aor

              Is that your way of saying you accept moral relativism, or do you just want the conversation to end?

    • nelly

      What if?

      That’s what holds most people who aren’t quite sure to religion……………what if. Or how about “just in case”, it’s about the same. There may be nothing after death, or maybe …………(add any kind of emotional blah blah you want here)…….so, JUST IN CASE

      you get the picture

      That’s not even an argument to me anymore. Like I say to anyone who actually tries to engage me in that nonsense…………………I’ll find out when I die.

    • Tobytwo

      We certainly do not have to agree. You’re entitled to think those things are right, if you wish. And we’ll get together and lock you away to protect ourselves and others. Absolute morals are simply not required.

      The feeling of freedom being discussed here is not a freedom to sin. Atheists do not turn away from God so they can happily do harmful things. The feeling is a glorious equilibrium in which our capacity for reason is no longer at odds with supernatural claims.

    • Ty

      “Then to be consistent, you also have to agree that no conviction of one person is greater than anyone else’s. Thereby, murder, stealing, cannibalism, cheating, rape, etc. are ok if it comes from within the person’s heart. If there is no basis for convictions or absolute morals, there is no basis for law and the idea of law is a manipulation of someone’s personal free will. Anarchy is the preferred method. Our conceived law of morals would then be substituted with survival.”

      This is an assertion without evidence. Support it if you think anyone should take you seriously.

    • Sunny Day

      “If there is no basis for convictions or absolute morals”

      The degree of harm caused to another person can’t be used as a measure, why?

      • JonJon

        Because I get to decide what’s harmful, I think is the idea.

        • Sunny Day

          You can decide whatever you want is harmful.

          Right up to the point when a group of people you’ve harmed come kicking in your front door.

    • Siberia

      Then to be consistent, you also have to agree that no conviction of one person is greater than anyone else’s.

      That’s right. But I don’t see how that is bad.

      Thereby, murder, stealing, cannibalism, cheating, rape, etc. are ok if it comes from within the person’s heart.

      The irony is, there are several societies where cannibalism is accepted – the cannibalism of enemies is pretty common among Amerindians. Can we say they are immoral? I’m not so sure. To us they might be, but to them, they certainly are not.

      Even worse: for many centuries women were married at age 12, 14 – even younger. We would consider that pedophilia and immoral now, but back then it wasn’t – can we say people back then were immoral?

      Likewise murder: it’s considered legal and not immoral to kill enemies in a battlefield, but it is immoral to kill someone for no (apparent) reason.

      If there is no basis for convictions or absolute morals, there is no basis for law and the idea of law is a manipulation of someone’s personal free will. Anarchy is the preferred method. Our conceived law of morals would then be substituted with survival.

      Not quite. That’s the beauty of it: the dynamics of society won’t allow one individual to get away with it. It’s always a combination of forces and biological imperatives – some societies will thrive if they act certain ways, others will not.

      Saying there are no absolutes is, in itself, an absolute statement : )

      Indeed!

      Another thing: I think the feeling of freedom you folks are describing is the feeling of being accountable to only yourself. Truth be told, if there is no god, that’s a good thing. No need for putting unnecessary rules upon yourself. WIth that understanding in mind, it SHOULD feel like a burden is lifted.

      Well, to be honest, the sense of freedom I felt was more of being free of the pretense. It’s hard to pretend you believe and agree with things you don’t; hard to pretend you believe, trust and love something you’re not even sure exists. There is freedom in abandoning the lies born of this charade. My behavior didn’t change in the least when I finally gave up trying to be a good believer (I won’t say Christian, because I tried Wicca too, and Buddhism).

      But what if you’re wrong? What if you have a misguided sense of liberation when the whole time you are indeed accountable to something higher?

      Then there’s nothing I can do. I can’t force myself to love an ideal I do not believe in. I can’t force myself to do to things I do not agree with. If I am accountable, and the higher thing is displeased, then so be it.

      Then it’s bad. Not trying to be a “hell-fire-and-brimstone” guy, but the feeling alone doesn’t cut it.

      But that’s the point: we don’t know. We can’t know. Even if I knew the Christian God existed, I am not sure I’d be able to love it, not truly. I might out of fear – Stockholm syndrome – but I am not sure it’d even change anything. I’d be doomed anyway.

      • Ty

        “That’s right. But I don’t see how that is bad.”

        I disagree. There are, as Sunny Day points out, useful measuring sticks for whether one person’s convictions are more useful than someone else’s.

        There is not Objective measuring stick established by the universe/god, but that doesn’t invalidate the subjective ones we humans create based on our biology and group interactions.

        • Siberia

          I disagree. There are, as Sunny Day points out, useful measuring sticks for whether one person’s convictions are more useful than someone else’s.

          There is not Objective measuring stick established by the universe/god, but that doesn’t invalidate the subjective ones we humans create based on our biology and group interactions.

          And why would your subjective conviction that someone’s own subjective conviction is better than anyone else’s subjective convictions that other people’s subjective convictions are right? :p

          See my point? We can, of course, accept that some ideas are better than others, based on the societies we belong to. That’s normal. We may even be convinced some of those convictions are not right, and fight to change them, but as there isn’t an absolute, it remains fluid: what’s moral today, what’s our conviction today, will not necessarily be so tomorrow. I happen to think causing no harm to other living things is a great thought; empathy makes me agree; but in the finer points – such as whether cannibalizing a corpse is moral or not – are not so clear.

          • Ty

            Indeed, and in many instances the only measurement we have is aesthetic and subjective.

            But we are biological creatures. We share a great many requirements for existence and prospering. I think using those basic requirements as a starting point is as close to objective as we can get.

            Now, as you point out, if you toss out protecting and preserving life as a starting point for consensus, then pretty much anything goes. But I think our species history shows that we almost always wind up agreeing on that basic starting principle.

            And I have no problem pointing at someone who does not share our general concept of keeping each other alive if possible and say that their moral system is worse than mine.

            • JonJon

              See, I don’t think our moral system (currently) is actually based on protecting and preserving life. I think it is based on an idea of ‘fairness,’ which kind of worries me.

            • Jabster

              … and what exactly is wrong with having fairness is a guide?

            • JonJon

              less productive than having one based on protecting and preserving life.

              Who’s to say fairness is actually a good thing? In our society it totally is, and in others, the name of the game was unfairness, preferably as unbalanced as possible. That was sometimes what made a lasting civilization (like feudalism) possible.

            • Sunny Day

              “less productive than having one based on protecting and preserving life.”

              You want to protect and preserve life but not treat people fairly?
              Who’s life?

            • Ty

              “You want to protect and preserve life but not treat people fairly?
              Who’s life?”

              This is a good point, Sunny.

              There are a few situations in which I would rather have fairness than protection.

              I’d rather live a very risky life of freedom than one of an extremely well protected slavery.

            • Siberia

              Who’s to say fairness is actually a good thing? In our society it totally is, and in others, the name of the game was unfairness, preferably as unbalanced as possible. That was sometimes what made a lasting civilization (like feudalism) possible.

              Well, there are thriving hunter-gatherer societies up to this day…

              Quality over quantity, mayhaps?

            • Siberia

              Indeed, and in many instances the only measurement we have is aesthetic and subjective.

              Aye.

              But we are biological creatures. We share a great many requirements for existence and prospering. I think using those basic requirements as a starting point is as close to objective as we can get.

              Quite true! I agree entirely. Like I said before, the question whether girls aged 12, 14, should marry and bear children: in the past such a thing may be necessary for the survival of the species; today we have greatly increased our chances of survival and reproduction at later times; what was moral back then became immoral today. Biological imperatives reinforcing worldviews; I find it a fascinating idea.

              Now, as you point out, if you toss out protecting and preserving life as a starting point for consensus, then pretty much anything goes. But I think our species history shows that we almost always wind up agreeing on that basic starting principle.

              Sure. We’re social animals, after all, and we have empathy – we tend to follow a pattern that preserves society (such as not killing, not stealing, unless it belongs to another tribe that competes with us for resources – quite animal indeed: murder is illegal, but killing others in wars isn’t).

              And I have no problem pointing at someone who does not share our general concept of keeping each other alive if possible and say that their moral system is worse than mine.

              Oh, me neither. That’s all fine and well – necessary, even, if we want to push the species forward rather than backward.

    • Olaf

      Jonny, if I am wrong then I am wrong and take full responsability that I have not worshiped a god and take the consequences. I have no one to blame for.

  • lost in space

    Very well said.
    I’m still coming to understand the anger and guilt that I’d been stewing in all those years, (guilt that I couldn’t be as good as expected and anger at the incredible amount suffering god seemed to allow) I had no idea the freedom that I could feel from lack of expectation.

    I used to fear “wonder” because it wasn’t something set in stone ( god damn those rules) I simply couldn’t lie anymore about how I’d been lied to. I have been asked if I have felt any sense of loss, which at first, I thought that I would feel . The fact is , even with the small amount of knowledge I have about the universe, the sense of gain, through lack of fear, has been overwhelming. I now look forward everyday with how much there is to learn.

  • CybrgnX

    Nonsense!!!! Anyone older then 50 knows that if a meteor hits and wipes us out it is because Ming the Merciless has got his aim right!!! And finally hit us.

    • Ty

      Flash would save every one of us.

      • Sven

        Now Everything Makes Sense! He is the king of the universe!

        • Ty

          No, just King of the Impossible.

          (stupid not clicking the right reply button)

      • CoffeeJedi

        You’re right, that Flash (Ah-ah!) He’s a miracle.

        • Heidi

          Oh, great. Now that’s stuck in my head, and we probably only have 14 hours to save the earth.

  • Ty

    No, just King of the Impossible.

  • Nicole

    I believe in a personal God because I have experienced Him in small ways throughout my life, and sometimes He is the only thing that does feel real and constant. However, I agree that He does allow people, and demons, to have their way with the world, for the most part. How else could we realize that this world is not heaven and that our demons are just that? As a Christian, I realize that THIS world has nothing for me… no guarantee of happiness or health or anything. But I have security in Him, knowing that this world holds nothing to eternity. It is my eternal soul, that has a purpose in ETERNITY that I am grateful for, not special blessings on Earth. When you know God, and you KNOW you know Him, it doesn’t really matter what this world is, because you are experiencing the fullness of His Spirit indwelling you. You feel that with Him you can do anything, endure anything, and rise above it all. Who cares what I have to suffer in this life? The more I suffer here, the stronger He is to get me through it. I don’t believe in Him for convenience, but because I CANNOT deny His existence. He IS LIFE!

    • Ty

      Your evangelism has been noted.

    • Siberia

      I believe in a personal God because I have experienced Him in small ways throughout my life, and sometimes He is the only thing that does feel real and constant.

      That’s kind of sad, but, ok.

      However, I agree that He does allow people, and demons, to have their way with the world, for the most part. How else could we realize that this world is not heaven and that our demons are just that? As a Christian, I realize that THIS world has nothing for me… no guarantee of happiness or health or anything.

      Why, then, are you still alive?

      But I have security in Him, knowing that this world holds nothing to eternity. It is my eternal soul, that has a purpose in ETERNITY that I am grateful for, not special blessings on Earth. When you know God, and you KNOW you know Him, it doesn’t really matter what this world is, because you are experiencing the fullness of His Spirit indwelling you.

      Even more depressing, that you dismiss life so easily in search of a hope. Alas.

      You feel that with Him you can do anything, endure anything, and rise above it all. Who cares what I have to suffer in this life? The more I suffer here, the stronger He is to get me through it.

      Except others don’t have this luxury. Then again, it still depresses me that someone would be this subservient, to anyone.

      I don’t believe in Him for convenience, but because I CANNOT deny His existence. He IS LIFE!

      The very one you disdain so much?

      Yeah, I know, feeding the troll, etc.

      • khal82

        How circular and masochistic is this, Nicole? He sends the “demons” etc. to make the world a terrible experience for you so you’ll look forward to heaving, yet you appreciate him for helping you endure WHAT HE IS PUTTING YOU THROUGH. Whaaaa?

        • khal82

          sorry “heaven” though the whole thing makes me heave

    • Olaf

      Nicole what stops you from staring to realize that the bible is pure fictional?
      Have you ever wondered how it would feel if you discover that the people and gods in the bible do not exists?
      Have you ever considered the possibility that the bible you are reading is a fake one and that you are part of a sekt without realizing this?
      Are you really sure that the bible you read is a real bible and not a modified one from a false prophet intended to lure you away from the real true god?

    • Heidi

      As a Christian, I realize that THIS world has nothing for me…

      That may just be the most depressing thing I’ve read since… erm… probably something by Shakespeare or Joss Whedon could top it, but other than that, not so much.

      I’m pretty happy with this world. It hasn’t been smooth sailing — not even close, but it’s a nice place. I’m particularly fond of the color of light in the early morning and late afternoon, when the rays have to penetrate more of the atmosphere. Very pretty.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/78284495@N00/ MichelP

    Letting go of “meaning” is a thoroughly liberating experience.
    One then might discover that:
    -The universe unfolds as it must.
    -Individual life is a terminal condition.
    -Meaning is what you make of your time.

  • Korny

    @Jonny Rad:

    I just feel there are too many awesome things on earth you can’t explain through evolution/naturalism. The immune system, and anything with the human body really, amazes me the most.

    This sort of statement drives me absolutely UP THE WALL. Because I am a practicing evolutionary biologist. I’m actively studying, every day of my life at the moment, human evolution.

    When people (and yes, I am making a great big generalisation here!) say things like “science doesn’t really know XXXXX”, you are saying, in effect, that I, me PERSONALLY, don’t know what I’m talking about. And I feel justified in being insulted.

    Science doesn’t happen “out there”. Science happens because people work their ASSES off for it. And it’s absolutely soul-destroying when we come across people with a certificate in history or theology or whatever stand up and say “Actually, you’re wrong, and I don’t even need to read what you’ve done to know it.”

    Science is done by people who are trying to make your life better. So thanks for stomping all over it “because the bible tells you so.”

    • Korny

      Sorry about the bolding there, still getting the knack of these tags.

      • Ty

        We can’t expect scientists to know about bold tags.

        • Korny

          Far too practical for a scientist to know. Want to know about the ideal circumstances for fossilisation? I’m your girl. Want a lecture on the evo-devo of the human hand? All over it. HTML? Ehhhh, not so much. :D

          I could fix it if Edit or delete comments were enabled though. Daniel?

    • Spirula

      Science, logic, and reason use Occam’s Razor as a starting point for explanations.

      Creationists apply Occam”s Blender. “Whatever explanation I can concoct, as long as “God” is part of it, is the explanation.!”

      • rodneyAnonymous

        I agree with your meaning, but that is a common misunderstanding: Occam’s Razor is not a “starting point”, it is the least of four criteria for evaluating the strength of an explanation: is it internally consistent?, is it externally consistent?, does it explain the widest range of available data?, and does it invoke the fewest unknown entities?

        “The simplest explanation is best” is only literally true for explanations that are otherwise equal (in consistency, explanatory power, predictive power, etc.). The modern understanding of oxidation (combustion and rust) is somewhat more complicated, from a certain point of view, than phlogiston theory, but it is more consistent externally and explains a wider range of data (such as the fact that metal gains weight when it “burns”, instead of losing it).

        That Christian mythology is horribly convoluted, and that a creator of some kind (benevolent or otherwise) is vastly more complicated than any naturalistic explanation, is more evidence against the veracity of such things, not the fatal flaw.

    • Michael R

      It is definitely irritating to hear someone knocking evolution only to discover they haven’t the faintest clue what it is. I usually recommend they read Dawkin’s “The Selfish Gene”. It’s pretty palatable for a layman. Does anyone else have any recommendations that aren’t too technical for laymen? Thanks in advance.

      • Korny

        Well, don’t read Darwin straight off the bat, for goodness sakes. He got a few bits completely wrong (like heredity), is amusingly Victorian in his attitudes and his writing style is harder going than Tolkien.
        I have never actually read the Selfish Gene, and it’s recommended all over the show. “Science of the Discword” I thoroughly recommend though. I can’t remember which one of thoe covers evolution though. Possibly the first one.
        I dunno – I don’t read stuff written for laymen – I read Fisher and Huxley and Darwin and they’re all dreadful writers. Products of their time, sure. But hard going.
        I’d love to read Bill Bryson writing about evolution – I reckon he’d do a fantastic job of it.

    • khal82

      You rock it, Korny…I defend those hard-working scientists every chance I get; the world is too special to let theists decide they know enough about it, sit on their asses, and indoctrinate their children

  • Ty

    “Want to know about the ideal circumstances for fossilisation? I’m your girl.”

    Ok, now I’m a little turned on.

    • Korny

      If thats exciting for you, you serrrrriously need to get out more.

      • Michael R

        I dunno, smart women really are a turn-on.

      • JK

        I’m sure Ty loves your invitation to go out with you… ;-)

      • CoffeeJedi

        Nerd girl I don’t deserve you
        I don’t get the references you refer to
        I love your lip smackers and your lack of perfume
        I hope to get you home by curfew
        (Word up!)
        -MC Chris

      • Korny

        *Blush*

        Well I’m in NZ – I’ll date the first one of your to pony up the airfare to get me to where you are :P

        • Sunny Day

          Screw that, NZ sounds like a better place.

  • Brian

    When you give up supernaturalism you should also give up certainty. Otherwise you just trade one form of certainty for another. There very well may be meaning behind everyday events. There’s just no way to know. Saying there is no god is just as illogical as saying there is one.

    That said, all available evidence points to natural workings as the cause of everything we see. I just think there’s danger in certainty.

    • Ty

      Who is claiming any certainty? No one that I can see.

      My claim is that there is no evidence for any god/s that isn’t better evidence for something else.

      • Jabster

        “Who is claiming any certainty? No one that I can see.”

        Are you certain about that?

        “My claim is that there is no evidence for any god/s that isn’t better evidence for something else.”

        I’m not sure there’s any evidence for god at all that has anything to back it up. Doesn’t the “evidence” really boil down to I can’t beleive how that could have happened as it seems so improbable so I’ll invent an entity (god) as an explanation and then brush under the carpet the fact that this entity is even more improbable.

        • Ty

          Well, theists will claim certain things are evidence of god. But when we really examine those things, they always turn out to be better evidence of something else. That’s all I was saying.

          I mean, lightning used to be evidence for Odin. Now we know it’s actually evidence for static electricity generated by moving particles in the atmosphere.

      • http://ironymous.blogspot.com/ nomad

        “Who is claiming any certainty? No one that I can see.”

        Are you certain about that?

        (RodneyAnonymous )”There is no supernatural anything.”

        • Ty

          I guess for a certain definition of certainty that might qualify.

          I have no problem saying, “There are no unicorns” with exactly the same tone as I might say, “there is no supernatural anything,” but in both cases the appearance of a unicorn would change my mind.

          The ‘no certainty’ claim is as wishy washy as hell, and one I personally would like to see die whimpering.

    • Karleigh

      “When you give up supernaturalism, you should also give up uncertainty”.
      I agree wholeheartedly!

      “Saying there is no god is as illogical as saying there is one.”
      No one here is claiming certainty on this… what’s your point?

    • Aor

      Saying there is no invisible immaterial dragon in my garage is as illogical as saying there is one.

    • Sven

      @Brian
      “Saying there is no god is just as illogical as saying there is one.”

      Sorry, you’re wrong. Saying there is no god is just as logical as saying there is no Santa Claus, and just as logical as saying there are nu unicorns, and just as logical as saying there is no Bugs Bunny, and just as logical as saying we were not pooped in existence by a purple donkey.
      See what I mean?

  • Brian

    If we don’t have evidence for or against something then by definition we can’t know about it. We have evidence Santa was made up by marketers. We can safely conclude santa doesn’t exist. There’s good evidence that the christian god was made up as well.

    Personally, I assume that all supernatural mechanisms proposed by humans without evidence are false. I seriously doubt it but I can’t disprove a higher intelligence. I can’t say for a certain fact that a higher intelligence does not exist.

    It’s the trait of the religious to believe in a black and white world.

  • Olaf

    I have one question for real believers.
    How would you know that God did not exist?
    How would you proof that God does not exist?.

    I mean if you are so convinced that God exists and feels him everywhere, then you probably also have checked for evidences of none existence to make sure that you really talk about a god but not a fictional character that has a placebo effect on you.

    What tests should fail to proof that god is not a real god but an imposter?


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