Why We Should Trust Reason Over Emotion

Jesus Walking on WaterJennifer sent in this question:

Why is logic so much more superior to an emotional way of thinking? I was raised in Pentecostalism, and I always witnessed amazing miraculous acts – people getting “healed” right in front of me, speaking in tongues, and general “proof” as given by the Holy Spirit. What, is it all a big scam and lie? People I’ve known for years that I’ve known with diseases and cancer suddenly don’t have them any more for no reason? I mean, you can’t explain that. Am I a blimey ignorant fool for assuming that it’s God when there is no other explanation?

I think dismissing miracles, especially after you witness one in person or see the intimidating practice of Pentecostalism in action — is extremely ignorant. Also, one thing that really irritates me about agnostics is the demands of proof.

Why Trust Reason?

When it comes to finding truth, reason is superior over emotion because it works. It’s really as simple as that. Emotion can only tell you that you’re experiencing emotion — it cannot tell you anything about the cause of the experience, nor any truth claim behind it.

I once argued with a pair of Mormons on my doorstep. I thought I had thoroughly decimated their arguments, but they kept pleading with me to “just read the Book of Mormon” and it would tell me it was true. How would it do that? They said I would feel a burning in my heart, and that was evidence the book was really from God.

Bullshit. It could be indigestion. It could be anger. It could be I like the story — or hate it. But a “burning in my heart” does not mean their claim is true. It just means I had a burning sensation. You can see this easily by changing their claim: “If you feel a burning in your heart while you read Harry Potter, then it means God wrote the book and wants you to become a clown.” Doesn’t sound all that convincing now, does it?

Unfortunately, I used the same argument as an evangelical Christian. “The Bible is God’s Word,” I would tell people, “Just read it for yourself, God will testify with his Holy Spirit that it is indeed inspired by God. You’ll feel it in your heart and God will bring you to himself. Please, dear sinner, read this book!” Some people would read it and shrug their shoulders. But others would read it and have a life-changing experience. But Mormons have similar experiences. So do Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Scientists, and others.

Experience Is Valid, But It’s Not Proof

Whose experience is valid? All of them, of course! Experiences are experiences and all people have them. But just because someone has an experience does not mean all their religious claims are true, it only means they had experiences, just like everyone else.

If we trust in experience, we are doomed to subjectivity. Yet there is no other way to test religious claims, since they can never produce real evidence for their claims.

All religions play on emotions like fear, guilt, love and acceptance. Without emotion, they are doomed, because they do not have sufficient evidence to convince skeptics. That is why you rarely hear of someone converted because of the overwhelming evidence for Jesus’ resurrection — no, they start out saying that they were at a low point, and they met a Christian who told them about the love of Jesus who can save them from their guilt and give them a new life, or they started going to church and becoming part of the community.

Emotion, not reason. If the person had started asking questions about how they knew this Jesus existed and what exactly he said, it is very unlikely they would have continued down the path to faith.

Miracles Would Be Proof

Jennifer says that it is “ignorant” to dismiss miracles. And if there were real miracles, I would agree — why would someone dismiss amazing things that really happened? But no one has been able produce a real miracle. Thousands of miracles have been disproven or shown to be lies, and not one has been shown to be anything amazing. People can only say that “a friend” saw something, or point to an ancient book that says a miracle happened. No proof but hearsay.

The healing “miracles” that happen in churches are always subjective or things that can go away on their own. You never see amputee’s limbs growing back. If we did, we’d all believe in miracles — who wouldn’t want to believe in them?

What do you think — should we trust reason over emotion?

  • stoat100q

    What if… everyone in the world suddenly started using reason rather than emotion? That would make a great sci-fi novel!

    Or even a song:

    ‘Imagine there’s no Heaven. It’s easy if you try…’

    Damn. Someone beat me to it. Someone who, in fact, met a sad end at the hands of an emotional and unreasonable person. The irony..

  • DDM

    …one thing that really irritates me about agnostics is the demands of proof.

    Oh I’ll bet that’s irritating…Especially when you have none!

    • cello

      Yeah, that is the line in her questioning that made me LOL the most.

    • Efogoto

      And yet her opening for discussion is “proof” for Pentecostalism:

      I always witnessed amazing miraculous acts – people getting “healed” right in front of me, speaking in tongues, and general “proof” as given by the Holy Spirit. What, is it all a big scam and lie? People I’ve known for years that I’ve known with diseases and cancer suddenly don’t have them any more for no reason? I mean, you can’t explain that.

      She understands the need for evidence and wants her testimony to be accepted without question.

      one thing that really irritates me about agnostics is the demands of proof.

      Maybe that should be rephrased “one thing that really irritates me about agnostics is the examination of claims.”

  • Sgt Skepper

    “They said I would feel a burning in my heart”

    In my experience, that means I’ve eaten something too quickly.

    • Hansen

      If the burning feeling persists, you should probably see a doctor.

    • Yoav

      A few months ago I drove by “Jesus and Maria Mexican restaurant” I’m sure that if I stopped there I would have felt a burning in my heart. Too bad I just had lunch so I missed my chance to be saved.

    • Baconsbud

      I never got a burning feeling when I have tried reading the bible but I did start yawning a lot. Does this mean anything?

  • Hansen

    Am I a blimey ignorant fool for assuming that it’s God when there is no other explanation?

    No, but you are a blimey ignorant fool for saying that there is no other explanation!

  • DDM

    On a related topic, does not one Christian question the verse that basically says “I’ll reveal myself to the stupid and hide myself from the smart?” Do they find nothing wrong with that verse? And not just because it calls them stupid?

    • trj

      Quite the contrary, in my experience. That verse (together with “The fool says in his heart there is no god”) is an absolute favorite of Christians (it does say people should be child-like, rather than stupid, mind).

      It’s a very convenient “argument” when the doubters bring up all those pesky questions. Just trust unquestioningly in god, like a little child, the believer will say. Forget about all those questions of yours that I’m unable to answer and just believe in God, because, well…, just do it. Be child-like.

      • Kodie

        We heard of that guy.

        • trj

          And heard a lot from that guy.

          • Sunny Day

            Kinda like mewling version of Voldemort, we dare not speak its name.

            • rodneyAnonymous

              He Who Shall Not Be Plain

      • http://allthingssteve.com L. Jerome

        I may have said this before; I prefer to interpret the “child-like” rhetoric and verses differently.

        Children are always questioning, always wondering. Their most common question is ‘why?’

        Cannot the perpetual curiosity that children display be the “child-like” trait that we pursue? It is much more positive, productive, helpful, authentic, honest, etc. than blind ignorance.

        SO OFTEN we hear, “be child-like” and are then told that being child-like means to ‘shut-up and believe what I say because I am your boss and you should recognize that you are too stupid to understand.’ If you say that to a child, they will probably ask, “why?”

        Questions and curiosity lead to knowledge and understanding. Children grow into adults; the children who remain curious into adulthood learn more than those that reject learning and abandon curiosity. Stay child-like, folks.

      • Baconsbud

        I know a few children and I would say that they ask more questions in a hour then most adults ask in a week. You could take that verse to mean that you should ask and learn not be silent with your doubt.

        • http://wmdkitty.livejournal.com WMDKitty

          That’s downright Satanic! Question EVERYTHING, folks! (Hail Satan, etc.)

  • Michael R

    If miracles really occurred, discussions like these would be unnecessary. The fact that it boils down to “belief” is evidence enough for me that there’s no such thing. I used to believe as a child that covering up with my blanket protected me from monsters. Doing so brought me comfort and made me feel safe. That doesn’t mean that my blanket had supernatural protective powers.

    • Tobytwo

      The anti-monster blanket is a great example. And it’s amazing how these things can linger. Even now as an adult, if I become paranoid in the middle of the night, tucking my feet under the covers can bring a sense of protection.

      • Jabster

        A great example, are you sure. Did you ever get attacked by a monster? I think not, therefore the blanket worked.

        • Daniel Florien

          That’s why I have to eat dessert twice a day. It’s kept the monsters away, and it’s done a damn fine job.

          • trj

            Plus, eating the dessert gives you a nice feeling in your stomach, so you know they really work.

            Double proof!

        • ThisGodlessEndeavor

          I immediatley thought of the Simpsons Bear Patrol episode.

          Lisa: “The Bear Patrol is not keeping bears away, we just don’t have any bears. Its like saying this rock is keeping us safe from Tigers”
          Homer: “I’ll give you $20 for that rock”
          Lisa: “Dad you’re missing the…okay”

  • trendline

    first it takes faith n Gods timing . but wait , Mormons? Jehovah’s Witnesses? Christian Scientists? are they real christians??go to a reputable church who have serve the community and have sincere preacher to find out the truth.use your common sense.

    • Triften

      My common sense tells me that “sincere” != truth.

      • trendline

        true , true. you can go bible school for truth. christian are saved for good works . the church cannot proof to you the truth(u must experiance yourself). but at least the church must serve the community so that people will know God is living among these people . alway watch the church who doesnt do what they preach. not all sheep are sheep

        • Kodie

          Yeah, you wouldn’t want to be completely foolish. Use your common sense!

        • Joel

          Trendline,

          An argument I always like to use when discussing proof and truth is this. How do you know that gravity exists? How do you know that the medicine you take actually works? How do you know that the earth is round? These are all assertions that have been proven with evidence. That’s how science works, we ask questions, run experiments, observe and draw conclusions based on the evidence. If we never demanded evidence for anything, we would know nothing. No experiments would be run. No theories proposed. No cosmic laws deduced. We would simply have a bunch of competing schools of thought in regards to the natural world: Flat-Earthers vs Round-Earthers, geocentrists vs heliocentrists, atomists vs elementalists. Moreover, we would have absolutely no way to show who was right since we would have no proof or evidence to back our claims, merely dogma.

          Not surprisingly, the aforementioned situation is the exact problem one finds with the religions of the world. They all make competing, mutually exclusive claims to ultimate truth, get give us no evidence for their claims, only stale dogma, empty words, and arguments from experience. If you want us to take your claims of metaphysical truth seriously, show us the evidence!

          • trendline

            Thanks Joel for your argument. but seriously i cant give the evidence . only my works and sincerity.i doubt anyone on this earth can .but i am not here to convince anyone . in fact i respect your faith n lifestyle . But if you happen to be seriously seeking the truth , i am sure you will find it. (not as a fact but an encouragement). like i said , if anyone is trying to bomb you , u know they are not from God

            • Daniel Florien

              if anyone is trying to bomb you , u know they are not from God

              So we know the Jews in the OT were not for God because they attacked and slaughtered cities in the name of God, right?

              And if someone threatens that Jesus will come back and kill everyone for not believing in him (just a future bomb scenario), we know they’re not from God, right?

            • trendline

              in OT not only the jew conquer cities but other nation. when God use the jews to pass judgement on other nation who am i to say God is evil. cause also use other nation to punish his own people too for their disobedience. is God fair ? you decide

              in modern context , where christian kill innocent people for what they believe . are they not the same as terrorist? so are they still christain?

            • Daniel Florien

              Oh that’s right, it’s okay for God to command people to slaughter women and children because “they’re evil” — but when Muslims do it because “they’re evil” it’s just so completely different.

              Newsflash: there is no god. People do, however, hear voices telling them to kill other people. They’re not hearing from god, though, they’re schizophrenic and they need help. And other people think they hear from jesus/baal/allah/krishna/aliens about teachings, but again, they’re either schizophrenic or lying.

              You have no evidence to show us. So why bother? Believe based on some experience you had, and others will believe something else based on their experience, and we’ll say you both had experiences but have nothing to do with god.

            • wintermute

              if anyone is trying to bomb you , u know they are not from God

              when God use the jews to pass judgement on other nation who am i to say God is evil. cause also use other nation to punish his own people too for their disobedience.

              Just to make sure I’ve got this straight, If someone tries to kill people, you know they’re not doing god’s work, unless they are. Is that right?

            • Yoav

              @ trendline
              So when Allah uses Osama Bin-laden to pass judgement on the infidel west who am I to say Allah is evil. Do you agree with that claim as well or is it only valid when your version of god commit mass murder?

    • Confused

      If the person had started asking questions about how they knew this Jesus existed and what exactly he said, it is very unlikely they would have continued down the path to faith.

      Unless the envangelist (deliberately or without realising) lied through their teeth with an earnest smile. I suspect this happens a fair amount.

      People I’ve known for years that I’ve known with diseases and cancer suddenly don’t have them any more for no reason?

      In a word? YES. Cancer especially can be extremely unpredictable, and can sometimes disappear for what seems like no reason. If your friend had terminal metastatic cancer with two weeks to live, and after being healed was completely clean and went on to live for twenty years, then I’d think twice (although I’d want to see medical records). If they had a shadow on a mammograph which disappeared after being prayed for, I’ll be thoroughly unconvinced. If they were undergoing treatment concommitant with being prayed for, I’ll remain unconvinced for what I hope will be obvious reasons.

      In short, there are three possibilities more persuasive than “it’s a miracle!”: 1. false positive – your friend never had cancer in the first place, and whatever scan/test that picked up made a mistake. This does happen sometimes, especially common for things like breast cancer. 2. False negative – your friend still has cancer, and whatever tests said they didn’t made a mistake. Also happens sometimes, although there’s often something else going on (some patients will keep getting second opinions until they find a diagnosis they like and then stick with that one). 3. Treatment your friend was receiving worked around the time they were being prayed for. Medical prognoses are always matters of chance; even if there was a one-in-a-million chance a treatment could be as effective as it was, there is still a chance.

      What you really want to be asking yourself is how many people with cancer come in hoping for a miracle and don’t get one. There are a couple of reasons why this might be, but they’re either arbitrary (it’s not God’s will that you survive) or repulsive (the unhealed is at fault for not having enough faith – imho the most repugnant concept in all christianity); both of these ask some uncomfortable questions about the nature of God.

      • Confused

        Damn, that wasn’t meant to be a reply to someone elses posts. Sorry for hijacking the thread!

      • Olaf

        The first thing I am wondering is how do these people know that they have cancer?
        Is it because some sjaman said them that they have cancer? And then he lay his hands on them and after 2 weeks when they go to the doctor the cancer is suddenly gone? To bad they did not go to the docter before so they have no pictures of the cancer before he laid his hands on?

        Or could it be that these people have really cancer and this priest lay his hands on them and say to them they are healed. So they do not go to the doctor anymore, why bther since the priets told them that Jezus healed them. Then 2 years later they just drop ead because of some untreate cancer?

        So far no medical records under controlled environmend has shown mirakles to work. I mean take 20 people with cancer, use healing on 10 of them with a real miracle priest, and 10 with a fake priest and see who gets cured and who not. Make sure that all 20 of them doe not get any real medical help except for this priest. Because taking pills of chemotherapy means cheating!

  • http://www.distantisaluti.com Giovanni Fontana

    Just think of optical illusions: that is what you feel!
    Emotion is a wonderful catalyst, in lot of cases it’s right: fear, hunger, love, etc. Really works. But since sometimes it doesn’t, what any reasonable person should do is enquiring with reason. The thing everyone does. Jennifer too, when she’s writing to you arguing (she’s not using emotion to convince you, she’s arguing with logics!).

  • Kodie

    If someone can’t grasp probability, they might use the powerful emotions to tell them that they are special and that this happened for a reason, then it must be a miracle. It could have happened no other way except that it could have because it does.

    What, is it all a big scam and lie? People I’ve known for years that I’ve known with diseases and cancer suddenly don’t have them any more for no reason? I mean, you can’t explain that.

    Yes, Jennifer. It is. A big scam and lie. I can’t explain what happened for people I don’t know, but I suspect there were doctors and medicine involved somewhere along the way. Just because you pray you will not be sick anymore and the medicine worked doesn’t mean god had anything to do with it.

  • trendline

    i wish i can proof every miracle to be genuine but since it happen in a church environment who am i to say its not god . since i am not the one with cancer , handicap, blind , emotional hurt whatever ,only these people will ever know what they experiance is real.. but if anyone believe , they have seen the hand of God at work . but if you dont , you dont lose anything. at the end of the day what we want is a better quality of life.

    • Joel

      Well, prove it. Why don’t you follow up with the people who were supposedly cured, healed, etc., and take them to a doctor to see if they actually were cured or not. If you find that all of their ailments miraculously vanished then there maybe something to your claims of miracles, if not, then you should amend your thinking accordingly, but I’m not counting on it.

      By the way you do lose something by believing in the miracles. Many people go to “miracle workers” instead of seeking actual medical help and the die in the process.

      • trendline

        of course , there are real cases n not real ones. n true people seeking mircles sometimes get hurt. but there are a lot of factors why it did not work , but who am i to question God .even jesus’s disciple ,at that time, have fail to heal . n jesus always scold the disciple for their lack of faith. u know there is one prayer request that did not come true for jesus . he ask that he not go through the cross but he always understand his higher purpose.

        • Confused

          n jesus always scold the disciple for their lack of faith.

          I mentioned above that this is, to me, the most repulsive concept in christianity – the idea that if miracles don’t happen in your life it’s because of your own lack of faith. It insists that followers squeeze their eyes closed and denounce any doubts or skepticism, and leads to people desperately scraping for confirmation of their faith. These conditions open you up to a huge set of logical biases that skew and distort your understanding of what’s actually going on.

          It’s also a very powerful motivator for people to “step out in faith” by coming off potentially lifesaving medicines. I mean, to keep taking it would mean you didn’t have faith that you were healed, right? (I appreciate you were talking about the disciples not having faith, but has been made of passages where Jesus asked the sick “do you want to be made whole?” before healing them).

          It’s also the kind of thing proven charlatans and frauds often say; that belief is necessary for “positive energy” treatments or reiki or magnetism or draping a dead squirrel on your head to cure your cancer. Frankly, that kind of explanation makes me more likely to reject Jesus as a fake than accept that miracles don’t always happen.

          Same goes for the “higher purpose” argument. It works very well as a strategy for ignoring inconvenient facts.

          • trendline

            it always takes faith for miracle to take place . thats why jesus ask the recipient if he wants the miracle. but seriously do you want to go into my faith where i myself have no power to proof over my laptop and no communication skill/faith that can raise the died? everyone have to be accountable for their own lives ,whatever faith that is.

            • Confused

              it always takes faith for miracle to take place

              This statement is nothing more than a convenient excuse for why miracles don’t happen reliably. It is also, as I have mentioned, an incredibly damaging and dangerous excuse.

              but seriously do you want to go into my faith where i myself have no power to proof over my laptop and no communication skill

              Not particularily. But if you want me to believe that God can perform miracles, you will need to be a damn sight more convincing than you have been so far.

            • Yoav

              No one asks that you prove all supposed miracles. To win by knockout all you need is to prove ONE.

            • Sunny Day

              So Miracles are real except when they are not and you have no way to tell, nor do you want to, tell the difference between a miracle and a lie.

              Genius!

            • Aor

              @trendline
              If you truly believe those words then you will naturally believe in every miracle associated with every single other religion in the world, past and present. Right? Or do you hold other religions to a standard higher than your own?

      • Young Earth Atheist

        Why don’t you follow up with the people who were supposedly cured, healed, etc., and take them to a doctor to see if they actually were cured or not.

        Silly – if we could prove it, then people wouldn’t need faith.

        Duh.

      • Reginald Selkirk

        Why don’t you follow up with the people who were supposedly cured, healed, etc.,

        james Randi actually did this. You can rad about it in his book The Faith Healers.

  • http://pulltheplugonignorance.com Nathaniel

    Magic looks true, and you might even feel that it’s true, but it’s still all just an illusion. The same is true of religion. Whether Jennifer feels she has experienced “true” miracles, they’re all easily explained as frauds or illusions. There’s also the fact that the mind is just as important as medicine when it comes to fighting disease. Just think of placebos as one example.

    I have a colleague who is fiercely Christian, and who claims to have witnessed these same things: everything from simple healing to exorcisms and literally raising people from the dead. How can he claim to have personally witnessed these things, yet simply shrug his shoulders at me when I ask for evidence of these things actually having taken place? He even refuses to give any details, such as “how long was the person dead” or “what diseases did the person suffer from”. Why, then, should I believe him and his claims any more than I believe that Copperfield can actually make the statue of liberty disappear completely?

    The difference between reason and logic and faith and magic is the difference between believing the sun revolves around the earth because it looks that way to us, and knowing that the earth actually goes around the sun because we have studied the evidence of this. Reality is truly a deceitful bitch sometimes… :)

  • Jer

    At the time of Jesus the god Aesclepius had a very, very large number of documented healing “miracles” that happened at his various temples all around Greece. People would have an ailment, go to his temple, talk to the priests, and if the priests couldn’t help them with mundane cures, they would sometimes have visions of the god who would tell them what to do to be healed – or even just heal them outright.

    So I turn it around back to believers – why were the believers in Aesclepius deluded fools following a pagan idol while the miracles that Christians encountered are sent by God? To an unbeliever these things look exactly the same – why should I believe in Jesus instead of Aesclepius if I’m looking for a “miracle cure”?

    And as far as this goes:

    They said I would feel a burning in my heart, and that was evidence the book was really from God.

    I’ve never felt that when I read the Bible. Or the Book of Mormon. Or any “holy book”. Maybe when I eat a taco too fast, but not when I read a book. Mostly when I read the Bible I’m astounded at how violent the first few chapters are, and how heartless and cruel and capricious the character of God is in them. Mostly when I read the Book of Mormon I can’t stop giggling because I actually know a bit of North American history and the whole setup just seems really Grod-damned humorous to me. (Though I’m always polite to the Mormons who come calling – no need to be rude after all).

    • Aor

      There was also some charlatan around the time of Jesus, he had a snake wear a mask and people came and prayed to the masked snake and were healed. Naturally followers of other religions declared the snake with a mask could not actually heal, while simultaneously claiming their cultic god would heal you if you burned a sheep on his altar.

  • http://brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

    They said I would feel a burning in my heart, and that was evidence the book was really from God.

    I usually get that after a late-night snack — does that mean my cold pizza was a gift from God?

    You never see amputee’s limbs growing back.

    A question for the skeptics of UF: if you witnessed this personally, or if you knew and trusted someone who witnessed that personally, would it change the way you think at all? If so, how?

    When it comes to finding truth, reason is superior over emotion because it works. It’s really as simple as that. Emotion can only tell you that you’re experiencing emotion — it cannot tell you anything about the cause of the experience, nor any truth claim behind it.

    I’m curious as to how you would explain the relational implications of that statement. For example, when I tell my wife I love her, I am telling her something that is 1) 100% truth and 2) a statement based in an emotion that I feel about her. I support those words with actions, so she has reasons beyond just me saying “I love you” to know that I love her; however, when she responds with “I love you,” I believe her, and it’s not because I reasoned my way into believing it.

    Anyway, that’s a way of questioning whether the reason/emotion dichotomy that has been presented here is really as obvious and rigid as you’ve just expressed. I think it’s a lot more fluid than that in matters of daily life.

    • Daniel Florien

      I never understand the love argument. If someone says they love you, it means nothing, You know that. It only matters if they back it up with actions. When a husband says he loves her, but then he beat up his wife, she’ll often still feel love for him. But he doesn’t really love her. You have to reason that out.

      If your wife tells you she loves you, but then tells are her friends what a stupid fool you are, do you simply trust your emotions, or do you reason it out that she’s playing you false?

      When your wife tells you she loves you back, you believe her because it syncs with other areas. She shows you she loves you — it’s in her eyes, in her voice, in her actions. Now that doesn’t mean it’s true — she could still just be fooling you for your dashing good looks and fat bank account. But you do believe her because your reason tells you it’s accurate, and your emotions tell you you love her too.

      When people say “I love you” sincerely, they are simply communicating that they feel a certain way towards you. And we use our reason to know if they’re sincere. But love and hate are emotional feelings — they simply are. You communicate that you feel them. I don’t see the big deal or what’s not to understand.

      And if I met someone who could grow back limbs instantly thorough prayer and do other amazing things like raise the dead and stuff like that, then of course I’d be skeptical (no one has ever done these things before, so we should first assume he’s a fraud or magician unless he can prove otherwise), but if he’s legit, then hell yes I’m believing it. That would be awesome!

      • http://brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

        I never understand the love argument

        To be fair, I’m not arguing for God; I’m just questioning whether or not the chasm between emotion and reasons is as wide as your statement seems to imply.

        When your wife tells you she loves you back, you believe her because it syncs with other areas. She shows you she loves you — it’s in her eyes, in her voice, in her actions. Now that doesn’t mean it’s true — she could still just be fooling you for your dashing good looks and fat bank account. But you do believe her because your reason tells you it’s accurate, and your emotions tell you you love her too.

        Right, I agree with you. There are actions to support the words; consequently, there are reasons (over and above emotion) to think that those words are sincere. But here, reason and emotion aren’t enemies; they’re complementary. Which is why I pushed back to your statement:

        Emotion can only tell you that you’re experiencing emotion — it cannot tell you anything about the cause of the experience, nor any truth claim behind it.

        When I see my wife, I have an emotional reaction, and I know that she caused it. Emotion isn’t the only thing involved, as we’ve agreed; actions support/undermine emotional reactions. But I can know with certainty that the emotional reaction I feel around my wife is because of her.

        But, if I experience a burning in my gut while doing a nightly devotional, that could be God, or it could be the pizza I ate for dinner — I’m not objecting to that fundamental point that you are making. Simply pointing out that in matters of daily life, I think reason and emotion work together more often than they compete.

        • Daniel Florien

          And I agree they work together. I’m all for emotional experiences. I just want to be clear that they can often fool us into believing something that isn’t really connected.

          I think we agree here more than we disagree.

          • Jabster

            Relying purely on reason would be an absolute disaster — can you imagine how difficult something we think is simple, like doing the food shopping, would be if you had to think rationale about every purchase. You’d be in the shop for hours.

        • Question-I-thority

          Brgulker:

          It appears to me that neuroscience is finding support for your point ( I’m interpreting it to mean that reason and emotions are somehow interlocking). Emotions appear to be a necessary part of the decision making or learning process. The problem is that the reinforcement roll of emotions in the process can and does take place whether the decision is grounded in reality or not as is obvious from experience. There is also a large number of different emotions and each can occur with a wide diversity in impulse strength. Further complication comes from thinking that emotions are one kind of ‘thing’ when they actually come from a number of different processing centers. Why is that and what new abilities did these centers ad when they came on line? On top of that, afaik we don’t yet understand very well how the subconscious and conscious interact to accomplish ‘reason’ which again appears to be going on in different parts of the brain that came on line at different stages of evolution necessitating integration and reintegration.

          I am not a neuroscientist so if someone in the field wants to correct me or expound on the subject it would certainly be appreciated.

          • http://brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

            I think the neuroscience behind all of what you alluded to is fascinating. My own understanding of it is rudimentary at best, and it’s limited to my 20 Psychology credits from undergrad :)

            But, when we start to think of emotions as functions of the brain and reason as a function of the brain, I think it changes the conversation, at least a little.

            • Ty

              They aren’t?

              Even dualists have to admit they are. It’s too easily demonstrable that changes to the meat create instant changes to personality, reasoning ability, and emotional reactions.

              We are getting to the point where we could (with ethical constraint cast to the wind) make pinpoint changes to personality through manipulation of the physical brain.

            • http://brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

              They aren’t?

              They aren’t what? And what’s “they”?

              If “they” refers to “emotions as functions of the brain,” I wasn’t trying to deny that but rather affirm it.

              I’m confused.

    • Confused

      Just witnessed? No. I know enough to know that lots of seemingly amazing things can be faked. If I knew an amputee closely for years independently of any such test and then witnessed him healed, yes, then I would recognise that something I could not explain had happened.

      If such healing miracles were provided by a single source (i.e. christians as opposed to muslims, not a single person) then I would take their message seriously.

      Even so, I would apply logic to see whether their miracles justified their claims. For example, just because someone can perform medical miracles does not mean they automatically have authority to tell me that homosexuality is evil, or any other arbitrary moral proscription.

      • Zotz

        “If I knew an amputee closely for years independently of any such test and then witnessed him healed, yes, then I would recognise that something I could not explain had happened.”

        Exactly. The best way to respond to the “confused” people like the person who wrote to Daniel is ask: “Why doesn’t God heal amputees?” Then send them to this web site:

        http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

        I’ve turned several raving religious lunatics into budding rationalists with the above site. Anyone who has read this and still isn’t “cured” is not worth further discussion.

    • Question-I-thority

      If Christians are really interested in us, show us the evidence. If a person I trusted told me about a miracle I would ask for the evidence.

      I might not believe with the first one or the tenth but at some point if there is some genuine consistency of evidence then I will change my mind.

      With all the bizzilions of prayers going up every day why is there not one verifiable limb regrowth? If someone had no arm but all of a sudden had one, there would be a furor in the community at large. Same with down syndrome, advanced ms, total blindness since birth, three day old corpses filled with embalming fluid hopping out of the coffin, etc., etc.

      One story that stands out from when I was a Christian was told by an executive in the denomination. He and a carload of teenagers were returning from summer camp at night when they were confronted with a potential head on collision. He stated that God picked up their car and placed it in the dirt off the road. HOW HARD IS IT TO GET AFFIDAVITS FROM THE OTHER PASSENGERS? And then repeat and rinse with all the other amazing, yet always nebulous miracles?

      This is a chance for Christians who endorse science to apply it.

  • wazza

    People always say that you have to choose logic or emotion, but it’s illogical to ignore your emotions, considering the effect they can have on you. You just have to consider where they’re coming from, and only use them as part of the decision-making process, not the whole thing.

    • Daniel Florien

      I’m not suggesting we ignore our emotions, only that they are not a reliable guide to help us discern truth claims.

  • trendline

    hey no more reply . how nice. on the note about OT. God promise a land for his people. how was it done through military means. God did not really command them but he did support their effort.(even to day) i could be wrong. since i am no bible scholar. the concept of holy war was no longer valid once jew have their land. anyway thats it for now , so many question

    • Daniel Florien

      The Jews don’t have all their land, do they? So I guess holy war is still valid?

      • trendline

        i am sure you can get your answer from the news. i think they call it “the right to exist”

        • Daniel Florien

          You’re talking in circles. First you said people who bomb others are not from God. Now it’s okay as long as it’s “holy” war.

          • trendline

            the people i mention that bomb people , thinks the world are infadels . the jews are fighting for that piece of land. is it right to fight for your nation ?if i can solve this problem i would have won a nobel prize

            • Francesco Orsenigo

              Last time I checked, Israel’s right to exist is costing the Palestinians THEIR right to exist… http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/middle_east/03/v3_ip_timeline/html/default.stm
              I am amazed by how the ‘victims’ are always those that are rich, powerful, invading foreign territory and causing by far the largest number of deaths.

            • Jabster

              … and you can’t think of another group of people that are also fighting for that land in the name of god because they think it’s right to fight for their nation?

            • Drew

              the people i mention that bomb people , thinks the world are infadels . the jews are fighting for that piece of land. is it right to fight for your nation ?if i can solve this problem i would have won a nobel prize

              Ugh…Where to start? First of all, there is ZERO historical or archeological evidence that the god-forsaken rock these people are fighting over ever even belonged to the Jews. There was likely no second Solomon’s Temple, there was *almost certainly* never an Egyptian Exile. Second, the nation of Israel has been using disgustingly dirty tactics, including bombing civilian Palestinians, to try to get its little slab of land. I am no anti-semite, but I am not in favor of blindly supporting Israel either.

            • Yoav

              Actually there is quite good archeological and historical evidence for a Jewish kingdom that lasted until the Roman in response to a revolt exiled most of the population around 70 AD (hebrew writing on monuments etc., the writing of roman historians, the images of the temple’s menora carried to Rome on the Titus gate). I don’t say Israel is always right but this portraying of things as evil Israel against the saintly Palestinians is not based in reality which is a lot more complex. The biggest obstacle to a solution in the region is religion. As long as it was just argument over real estate then it was possible (very hard but possible) to reach a compromise that both sides will be able to live with but once you start viewing it as holy sites and our legacy from god and all that stuff then getting people to be reasonable become impossible.

          • Zotz

            Daniel, why keep feeding this troll, who can BARELY express a cogent thought, let alone spell infidel!

            • Drew

              May as well be nice. He may sound like a troll to you, but he has kept it civil and impersonal. He’s very misinformed, and perhaps just a bit under-educated, but we ought to see that as an opportunity to correct the misinformation that a seemingly well-meaning person has been fed.

    • http://brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

      Even in the OT, support for the nation of Israel possessing the land isn’t guaranteed; it’s contingent. Contemporary Christians who insist otherwise are hypocritical and selective in their readings of the books that they themselves insist to be inerrant. It’s very frustrating.

    • trj

      Does it really matter if the atrocities of the Bible are also happening in the present or not? God condoned, even commanded, genocide, slavery, killing of infants; he killed the entire planet except one family, if we’re to believe the Bible. This from a God who is allegedly unchanging. Even if these things don’t occur anymore one must ask what it says about God that he was apparently a-ok with such things in the past.

      • trendline

        i dont think i mention genocide, slavery , killing of infants.what people do in war has no difference what country its from .innocent do get hurt. its war after all. at the moment i dont see how israel can live in peace since all the muslim country are against them. God support israel , and i am sure HE use america in the process . oh i am going to deep into politics

        • wintermute

          If a war with god on your side is just as bloodthirsty, just as damaging, and has just as much chance of you losing, what’s the point of adding him to your army? What do people get from fighting his battles for him, other than dead?

        • Francesco Orsenigo

          Yep, there it is the US zealot protecting the only two western countries actually invading other countries…

          Do you know that US supported Iraq and Saddam Hussein against Iran?
          http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/11/20/sbm.overview/index.html

          And there is more than one Jew (‘self-hating Jews!) that are very critical of what Israel is doing http://i3.democracynow.org/2009/1/14/leading_israeli_scholar_avi_shlaim_israel

          If Israel is just ‘defending’ why in the world are they building settlements?
          http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1060043.html

          Have you noticed that whenever a strong nation wants to beat a weak one, they claim ‘defense’?
          Do you really think that you are NOT subject to propaganda like the rest of the world?

        • Felix

          Well, the muslims believe that God has promised all land under the sun, all people of the world, to Islam. Their claim is exactly as valid as the Jewish claim that the land is theirs. Both sides use the same arguments to support their own scriptures – miracles, prophecies, inerrant text, integrity, inspiration. They can not both be right, but they can both be wrong. Nothing in either text can not be the product of human invention.
          The Jews started settling outside of their tribal lands after being drawn into religious conflict (the anti-Hellenistic rebellion movement). Then they met persecution at the hands of people motivated by their own religious texts. So, again motivated by alleged promises from divine authority, they retook their tribal lands with forceful support and a measure of terrorist activity. The reaction of the muslims – who were defending their own holy sites – was of course a violent one. A vicious cycle of reciprocal hate and destruction that started with religion and will only end when religion is abandoned. There is one thing to understand: no person was ever or will ever be under protection from god. No person ever received any promise from god. No person ever received any gift from god. Pull down that stifling blanket from your head and breathe reality.

  • claidheamh mor

    Maybe people have genuine “mystical” experiences – how they interpret them afterward, and perhaps during, can be anything, be it ever so ridiculous.

    I think people have had everything from hallucinations to genuine experiences with feeling life, and most of them in this culture are surrounded by christians who are ready to tell the individual everything they know about how the universe works, and the hapless individual believes their interpretation.

    So an enriching experience gets credited to christian sky-god and Jeezus. That is a damned shame.

  • John C

    Reason is superior to “emotion”. Emotions are soulish, human and subject to change, flighty. I think you may be confusing emotion with spirit. Spirit is pure, true, steady, not subject to change.Therefore, spirit is superior to reason. God IS spirit.

    What you are seeing on many of those “Christian” video clips is mostly human emotion. The things that God does in a man’s heart (mankind) is not necessarily demonstrative, animated, but rather quiet, transformative, powerful and lasting.

    Body (physical), Soul (mind, will & emotions), Spirit (deepest, true’est aspect of man(kind).

    • Felix

      Spirit is just a word. At best it is poetry – no less than soul. You are trying to speak into existence what only exists within speech.

    • Zotz

      Oh, for chrissakes! What crap!

    • trj

      I think you may be confusing debate with assertion. Assertion is blind, easy, not subject to change. Therefore, assertion is superior to argument. God IS assertion.

      • Zotz

        Well done!

      • John C

        Because you operating in the temporal realm and speaking from an unrenewed mind, it stands to “reason” that you would come to such a (faulty) conclusion for you see in one (limited) plane only. What is man? He does not even know his own nature, construct. In the fall, man (being deceived, enticed) exchanged his glory for shame, light for darkness and so he “fell” down from a high position (in the spiritual realm) to a lowered, temporal status. His spirit receded so far within his interior that he was no longer even aware of its existance…just as you are (currently) unaware of your spirit man. Now, as a result of the “fall” man’s faculties of reason and logic have become the dominant aspects of his being, at the expense of his true, eternal, inner man, his spiritiual apsect. He is, in a sense “turned upside down”.

        Christ is the “light that lights every man” and would restore that original condition, rightfully re-positiong man and his nature as to how things were intended in glory, in the beginning. But man prefers darkness, is as Jesus called them “rich”, meaning self-content to be as he is now, in and of himself, apart from God. The man we see that walks this earth now is a far cry from his original matrix, design for this is man’s only reference, he sees man in this age and not how he was originally created which was “in the very image and likeness of God” and in glory. Man is truly now a “shame”, a mere shadow compared to his true Self which looks a lot like the God-man, Jesus Christ.

        But we think its all about “religion” and since religion is a dead, burdensome and oppressive thing contrary to our true nature and not at all what JC offers, we lump Him in with the whole lot never inquiring as to the “more” (that He is) the true offer that He makes which is beautiful if we only knew it. What a “shame” indeed.

        When Jesus said in John’s gospel “Father now glorify me with the glory that we had in the beginning” He was referencing adam’s (original) glory and nature. But since we know so little of our true, intended status we are content, “rich” in ourselves and so miss out on so very much that Love (God) Himself longs to re-impart, restore unto us. Its too good for us to believe…so we dont. But if we did.

        So then we ask again (along with the Psalmist David) “what is man that thou are mindful of him”? Yes, what is man? Who are you? Are you who He intended? What will we be appeased by? Some “lesser” status, some mere and poor facsimile of the true rendering?

        The truth of every man is Christ perfected in Him.

        • trj

          That’s quite a treatise you wrote there, considering all I did was substitute a few choice words from your own previous post. Did you fail to see it for the joke it was?

          • Zotz

            Treatise is being VERY kind. And I assume you’re refferring to the quantity vice the quality.

            IT WAS TOTAL NONSENSE (as usual)!

            I bet he had a warm feeling though… I posit endorphins from self-flagellation while blogging.

            Zotz to JohnC: Why do you keep flagellating yourself?
            JohnC: It feels good so good when I stop to write crap!

        • Don

          :D I love it when y’all get so esoteric. It’s funny to watch you pretend to be wise with such big words.
          So, to break down your point, there are two divisions (at least) in reality. There is our carnal plane, the one which we operate in 24/7 till the day we die. Then there is the supernal plane which only God has access to.
          Do you have access to this plane, are you watching all of us silly mortals in the carnal plane from your supernal heights? I’m guessing not, or else you would probably be running around performing miracles rather than debating God on an atheist website.
          So God can see this plane, and only God. Who told you this? Was it perhaps the priests? Have they seen this supernal plane? I’m guessing not as well or I probably would have heard of a new Jesus running around. So where did this concept come from. Oh, God told you, well isn’t that silly. Why believe God? Because he told you he can’t lie? Well that is a pretty hollow argument. How did God tell you all of these things? From a book, I see. Do you make a habit of believing everything you read without question?
          So let’s do away with religion you say. Burn the books and ban the preachers! The problem with this is it gets rid of your Jesus entirely. There has not been a single person who has woken up one day and “discovered” the bible without any prior knowledge of its existence. Without your religion teaching you who God is supposed to be, you would have nothing. I would be wary of casting off your religion so lightly.
          I digress though. My point was to discuss your views on the duality of reality. So what is this supernal realm? Does it interact with our world in any way? If it does then it should produce effects. We could measure these effects. You could then publish your “theory of supernal investment in the daily affairs of the carnal world” and win yourself a Nobel prize while turning our whole notion of reality on its head and bringing up a strong proof for your God. If it doesn’t interact with our world then what purpose could it possibly have? There is a black hole in the center of the Andromeda galaxy. It cannot affect my life in any way whatsoever. Therefore it is not at all important, except maybe in the sense of scientific curiosity. I don’t pray to this black hole, nor do I watch the night sky hoping that it won’t try to swallow me up. If we cannot perceive your supernal world in any way, nor can it interact with us in any way, then it is more than superfluous. Even black holes and extra dimensions from string theory can interact with us on some level, and so have some measure of significance.
          The argument that we are fallen is a classic religious one. Of course the argument that we are fallen is also a classic one in politics and old people conversations. Go watch a video Four Yorkshiremen (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe1a1wHxTyo) to see an example of this argument. The reason this argument holds such weight is because since we were children we have spent our entire lives gauging the world in terms of “good” and “bad”. We feel guilty when we do bad, because that is how we have been raised to feel. These guilty feelings are necessary to keep young children, and emotionally immature adults (I’m looking at you Christians) from behaving in socially destructive ways. One way we humans try to assuage our guilt is to hypothesize that there was a time where we were perfect. Because we were once perfect it means that it is possible for us to be perfect again. We therefore feel like there is a purpose to our striving to be good. Mind you, this argument is only needed when one can’t grasp the concept of goodness for the sake of goodness.
          Your claim that “reason and logic” are a result of man’s nature “turned upside down” is the major reason why religion (and yes I’m including you) are a destructive force for this world. It is an atrocious lie perpetrated by the priesthood. They claim that reason and logic are flawed and so it doesn’t matter that their God can’t stand up to them. The reason why God is easily disprovable by reason and logic is because God is so much better than reason and logic. It is nothing more than a control scheme. They train you to ignore all logic and reason that contradict what you have already been told. Of course this only applies to religion, every other facet of life must be guided by reason and logic. I’m sure there is no Christian who would be willing to try and cross a busy highway blindfolded and letting their feelings guide them across. They would use reason and logic to determine when it was safe to cross. If they didn’t use reason and logic they would die. This is true in every single area of human life, without reason we would die.
          Let us compare reason and your spiritually induced emotions. What has reason brought to the world: Cars, airplanes, antibiotics, astronomy, doctors, courts, democracy, houses, farming, irrigation, the pyramids, clocks, chocolate, language, writing, the internet, pets, music theory, instruments, realization that physical objects exist, cognition of object permanence, etc. Um, so pretty much everything in the world both good and bad.
          What has spiritually induced emotions brought to the world:
          Religions, competing and contradictory religions, religious wars, intolerance, extreme guilt, exceedingly powerful and corrupt church officials, divine right of kings, some books (though the language, paper, and ability to rationally think that created these books came from reason and logic), conspiracy theories, confirmation bias, etc. Most of what spiritually induced emotions bring about are negatives. Oh you might argue that charity comes from religion. That is wrong, charity comes from an understanding of how societies run (they need everybody) and a respect for human life (knowing that I may one day be homeless on the street). These are reasoned and logical principles.
          Hell, just look at your post. You are using reason and logic to try and convince me that reason and logic don’t work. Is it even possible to convince someone of something without reason or logic?
          Furthermore, your post reeks with the religious heresy (heresy against the common decency of man) that we are all evil, fallen, and shameful. This is another argument used to convince people via emotions (even though it takes reason to bring the person to the point of feeling the emotion). Once again, we are taught as children to feel bad about our actions. Being children we have a hard time separating our bad actions from us as bad people (and to be fair most parents don’t help much). The religion taps into this guilt we feel over our bad deeds. It says “God makes the bad feelings go away”. Because the “bad feelings” are all in our mind, our minds can make them go away. Therefore the religion “works” when it convinces people to take away the guilt and shame. However since the source of good feelings is posited as the church, the religious person needs to get a constant “fix” of religion and God as their good feelings go away. On the other hand, an atheist has realized that they are not bad people and so can make their bad feelings go away (not completely, but more effectively than a religious person can) on their own. They do not feel the constant guilt of past sins and so don’t need the drug of religion to assuage their guilt.
          The problem is that all you do here is claim to have esoteric knowledge that none of us can ever obtain (and you yourself can’t even obtain) which was handed down to you from a mythical source. There is no proof of your claims, there is no reason for me to believe you. You may be able to elicit an emotional response in some, but that doesn’t mean you have any validity to your claim. You are simply advertising. When Budweiser advertises for their beer they use psychological tricks to make you feel (not reason, but emotion here) that Budweiser is the best beer. If you feel the feelings they want you to, does that make Budweiser the best beer? What happens when Coors does the same thing? How can Budweiser be better than Coors while Coors is better than Budweiser? The answer is that none of them are better. Making me “feel” like one beer is better than the other doesn’t make it true. Likewise your religions play psychological games with people to make them “feel” like they have the one true religion. Does this make them right, simply because they can advertise well? No, of course not. Just because someone is good at lying doesn’t mean they are telling the truth.
          That is what religion is. An emotionally convincing lie based on guilt complexes and societal reinforcement. They use mind games like telling them “smart people are stupid” and “if you don’t believe then you are bad” to convince them to never question authority. So why do these religions exist? Is it because there is one real God? Then what about all the other religions? The answer to why there are religions is because they are the most effective way of controlling people. Guess what, your religion is out to control you. It is out to make everyone exactly the same, and destroy their ability to question anything, so that the priest caste can live off the fat of the people. Seriously, wake up and think about it for just a moment. If God is so great and mighty why does he need preachers to interpret his message? And don’t give me the “God speaks to my heart” B.S. You have formed all of your religious opinions based on what a preacher once told you, even if you don’t go anymore.
          Faith does not let you see more, faith makes you see less.

          • Heidi

            Win.

    • cynic

      ” spirit is superior to reason. God IS spirit.”

      i thought god was both water and spirit

  • Question-I-thority

    The reason we should trust reason over emotions is that even the people telling us to trust emotions are doing so with attempted reason.

  • Clyde

    Though I’m not a Randian or an Objectivist, I do believe the lady got a lot of things right. For example, her definition of emotions: “An emotion,” she wrote, “is the psycho-somatic form in which man experiences his estimate of the relationship of things to himself.” “Emotions,” she also wrote, “are not tools of cognition.”

    Emotions, for other animals, are behavioral imperatives whereas for humans, since we have the cognitive ability to override them, emotions become behavioral incentives. That’s why, I believe, the more we allow ourselves to be controlled by our emotions, the more apt we are to behave as beasts rather than humans.

  • http://www.vidlord.com VidLord

    When discussing miracles I always start out: Isn’t the universe beautiful? The order, the sublime simplicity yet elegant complexity? The way the planets move, their motions predicted by our natural laws?

    Yes – God’s creation is beautiful.

    So when you say a miracle happened, that defies these natural laws, it is no different than saying the planet Jupiter suddenly flew out to another galaxy then came back again, for no reason. The natural order of the universe cannot be interrupted. Walking on water is no different than the Sun suddenly turning to ice.

  • http://epeuthutebetes.wordpress.com/ Lue-Yee Tsang

    I’m a Christian, yet I still find this reliance on feelings incredibly irritating. It gets worse when people feel something and later say ‘God told me’: I find it the most blasphemous thing ever, actually.

    • Heidi

      I can understand that. It does seem arrogant to think that you’ve been singled out for divine communication.

  • http://evilburnee.co.uk PaulJ

    What do you think — should we trust reason over emotion?”

    [devil's advocate mode: on]

    How do we know reason works? The only way of testing it is by using … reason. Which is kind of circular. So if the Book of Mormon is true because it says so in the Book of Mormon, that’s just as valid, right?

    • Sunny Day

      LOL just as circular as using faith to test faith.

      But in this case only one thing has been proven as an effective method of determining the actual state of the world around us.

  • Harold

    It’s not like we don’t have answers. If a Christian is unwilling to answer, find one who will. It might surprise you, questioning God and exploring the doubts you have are important. Leaving your doubt alone and trying to “tough it out” is like avoiding cover in a firefight. You keep firing back, but sooner or later you get hit. And we’re the people who spread the Good News! It’s our divine imperative to answer your questions, tell you as much about our faith as we can. For us, leaving a question unanswered is like a doctor that notices poison in a patient’s snake bite and refuses to treat it. Unless it recieves some kind of treatment, the patient will die inevitably.

    Faith is not tested by faith. Faith is tested through trials and hardship, suffering one goes through because of their held belief in God. Because they go through that hardship, they are blessed. It means something to God when people suffer in his name, and he rewards that, and not necessarily with material gain. When I say “go through”, I mean they endure in their spirit. If they can come out on the other side still standing firmly beside their beliefs, they’re instantly rewarded spiritually. It’s possible that they increase in wisdom, and while it can happen, material gain is not to be counted on.

    What if they really do feel God spoke to them? It’s not your place to look into the heart of man. Fellowship is necessary for building upon each other spiritually. BTW, I’m sorry if I sound like a know-it-all. I like using objective criticism.

    In June, I was with my youth group, among others of the same denomination from the nation in the Rosebud Reservation. We did work there, teaching children about God, literally being the highlight of their summer, caring for them, etc. A friend of mine, who’s still in High school, reflected on it one evening during the second track, which is for Juniors and Seniors. It was our own youth group’s deal, we split off at a rest stop, and some went home while the rest of us spent 3 days in Minnesota. He said that people will say “I felt the presence of God” and it’s like their holy moment, or that they were filled with awe to notice how he was working, etc. But for him, he meant to say that he literally felt God’s presence during worship with the kids one time, in the room next to him.

    Sure, it might have been an overwhelming, emotional experience for him at the time, but you know what: I believe him. I really do. It’s not in him to lie like that. Maybe he’s living a huge lie, but I will litally hit myself for even suggesting that next time. If he really felt God’s presence, it would be a slap in the face to say he didn’t, when it could have been God’s presence that made him suddenly aware with awe, or emotional. If a man has absolutely no reputation for lying, there’s no reason to think he’s being deceitful about his own beliefs. I’d rather be wrong about my spouse(no, I’m not married) who happens to just be playing one huge game with me, than to lose my best friend because I think he’s being false or shallow with me.

    If I want to settle a dispute with my neighbor, I try to find out what’s upsetting him. If he drops a basket of food on my doorstep, I try to figure out why, even if it doesn’t matter. That’s what’s powerful about emotion. If correctly guided, can be used to build relationships with people and create harmony, or destroy them and create emnity.
    You have to reason with your emotions, and visa versa, you have to really care about your reasoning. Emotion is very important, it helps you care about what you think is right, or positive toward keeping order, or whatever. But, you have to keep it in check, keep the flare-ups from abusing anyone, physically or verbally.

    What does that mean, turning the sun to ice? If God wanted to, he could reverse the effect of heat and the absence of it just as easily as bowing to the “laws” of nature to save a man’s life discreetly. Taking mars and moving it, and then putting it back doesn’t say anything about whether or not God chooses its absence to have any impact on the universe.

    • http://www.vidlord.com VidLord

      Harold: “If God wanted to, he could”

      You speak of God as if God is a human being.

      Why do you use the word “he”? Is God male?

      When you say If God “wanted” to, why do you not then ask yourself why an omnipotent being “want” anything? Wanting implies something is lacking. Would God lack anything?

      You say “God chooses”

      Why would an omnipotent being have choices?

    • Ty

      You are preaching to a bunch of former Christians, several of us former Ministers.

      We’ve heard your pitch before, and we don’t care, because we know it’s all a load of baloney. Go preach to the uneducated. It usually works better. Heck, Paul even told you to do it. He knew where his drones would come from.

      • John C

        No, he is “preaching” to a bunch of ex-religious types and former church go’ers, that is painfully obvious. What does having once been an ordained “Minister” have to do with anything? Going to McDonalds doesnt make one a hamburger anymore than going to church makes one a “Christian”, ie a Son (spiritual offspring) of God.

        • Ty

          You’re right. To really do it up right, you need a year long isolation and malnutrition, leading to an emotional breakdown.

          I forgot.

    • Elemenope

      Leaving your doubt alone and trying to “tough it out” is like avoiding cover in a firefight.

      That works surprisingly well in Call of Duty 4.

      Just saying.

    • Heidi

      It’s not like we don’t have answers.

      Actually, it’s exactly like that. All pro-religion arguments boil down to “you have to have faith” or “we can’t understand the ways of god.” Both of which equal “I don’t know, stop asking me.” I would hazard a guess that pretty much anybody here could rattle off at least a dozen questions you can’t answer. More if we bothered to give it more than a few seconds’ thought.

      What you need to realize is that the majority of atheists are not Christians in doubt, disguise, or denial. I don’t “doubt” your god myths. I flat out disbelieve them every bit as much as I do the mythology of every other culture. It’s like saying I “doubt” the existence of Apollo. Or Mithras.

      And really, you might want to stop and question your choice of worshiping a “being” who you believe enjoys and rewards your suffering. That’s a lot like an abusive parent saying “I only hit you because I love you.” Which pretty much sums up the entire Old Testament, if you think about it.

      • Ty

        Why do you make god hurt you, Heidi? You know he only does it because he loves you so much!

        • Heidi

          I’m contrary that way.

        • trj

          “Now look what you made me do.”

  • jerry ward

    Common sense, logic, reason. If you use any of these, you can pick apart any religion being practiced today, because it is all based on “faith”, without any proof at all. The Garden of Eden about 6000 years ago (not millions/billions of years ago), Noah and the Arc…..Please, 2 of every animal on earth, even an aircraft carrier couldn’t hold that, the new testament written up to 1-200 years after the fact by people proclaiming to be the deciples, etc., etc., People who use their brains instead of the brainwashing hogwash put forth by religion, need to try to apply a little logic and reason to this whole crapola.

  • Chad Rushing

    Trusting in any and all historical records, not just those associated with particular religions, require the reader to have faith in the original authors being honest and reliable rather than deceitful or delusional. Archaeology, geography. and external sources from the same time period can be used to corroborate those written records to a large degree (or not). A close proximity between when historical events were recorded and when they actually occurred also helps. Even for modern bloggers, posts about what happened last year are probably more factually reliable than posts about what happened to them thirty years ago. If the authors were intimately involved in the events which they have recorded, that is even better.

    As for recorded histories associated with religions (aka “scriptures”), if the events detailed in those written records can be demonstrated to be conclusively false via the above means, then the religions that follow from those historical events probably are equally false no matter how much they may “warm” some individuals’ hearts. However, if those written records cannot be disproven with certainty, then a reader is then obligated to have an open mind about them.

    Lastly, if those historical records mention supernatural events, atheists are generally presuppositional naturalists which unnecessarily (in my opinion) precludes them from even considering the claims of said records. Such presuppositions are usually based on inductive reasoning (“I’ve never observed a supernatural event, nor have others whom I consider credible.”) rather than true deductive reasoning, so there is always the possibility that they could be false. In the end, it is best to follow the timeless advice of Sherlock Holmes: “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”

    • Kodie

      You were doing so well.

    • Jabster

      Are you sure it’s best to follow the advice of a fictional character?

  • Francesc

    As for recorded histories associated with religions (aka “scriptures”), if the events detailed in those written records can be demonstrated to be conclusively false via the above means, then the religions that follow from those historical events probably are equally false no matter how much they may “warm” some individuals’ hearts.

    Global flood never happenned. According to you that is enough to discard all abrahamic -including christian- religions?

    In the end, it is best to follow the timeless advice of Sherlock Holmes: “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”

    Let’s accept for the sake of the argument that supernatural events aren’t the impossible. People lying in an old book would still be possible, how do you eliminate it?

  • JimmyFred

    My mind or soul does not allow me to just accept everything on face value, i.e. Blind faith. Regardless, my beliefs, like feelings, are my mine and my reality. Just because some arrive at beliefs differently, doesn’t make them wrong just because our minds respond more to reasoning than emotion or blind faith. Though we seem to require similar paths to belief, at least some are emotional and to me my reality. One of these is love. I can’t even describe it other than with emotion. I don’t think that makes me wrong. And who is the judge of right and wrong? You? Me? A supreme being.

    • http://ohmatron.wordpress.com/ Custador

      No. Because right and wrong aren’t objectively definied by a third party, you see.

  • Laddy

    From where do we obtain a sense of morality? Do we determine what is right and wrong individually, based on our own sound reasoning, and trust that others will do the same? Do we trust that we will all reach agreeable conditions regarding life and see them through? Come to think of it, if you see fit to respond, do you suppose I should take your advice? Why? One would think that in order to give advice in regards to morality, a person would have to be the epitome of all things “moral”. Heck, if you find yourself blameless, please share your secret. If you determine yourself to be unqualified to give advice, then to whom do I look for when making moral decisions? Is there not even one person that can help? I suppose I can attempt to sort out my morality on my own. Whew…what a task! What if I determine that a specific ethnicity is deserving of extermination? Who is to tell me that is wrong? Oh… I know, I know, that’s silly. Who in their “right” mind would want to do such a thing. Although…I suppose there could be a way I might really benefit from such an idea! I mean, there sure are a lot of trashy people crowding my neighborhood recently. Maybe if I get rid of those trashy people first, then all MY friends, with morals and skin and possessions like mine, can have room to live happily! Surely that’s not immoral. Do you suppose I am being a bit extreme? (Well, good luck with the Hitlers of the world.) Now that I think of it, you’re right. That was a silly idea. I wouldn’t kill anyone. However, my family is awfully hungry these days, since I’ve been spending all my money at the strip club. Man, my neighbor Dave sure is LOADED! I’ll just run over and take a few of his things and sell them so my family can eat spam while I go back to the club. Dave won’t put up much of a fight, seeing as how he is in a wheelchair and all. Heck, I think I’ll just take ALL of his stuff. Of course when the moral police show up I’ll just tell them that homeless dude did it. Boy, this new sense of morality sure is great! I would listen to other people’s advice about doing what is right, but there isn’t anyone “good” enough to tell me what to do. Woah, man! I just got a great idea! My buddies think its hilarious when we punch each other in the nuts. I gotta quit writing on this thing so I can go find a place where my friends can watch me punch a whole lot of strangers in the nuts for a good laugh!! HAHA! Wow, this will be so great! Of course, I will have to find a place where people can’t put up much of a fight so it will be more convenient for me to escape. I think I will go to an emergency room! That’s the ticket! ….. Please excuse my sarcastic rant, but I think the question still applies. From where are we to get a sense of morality? Who is qualified for such a task? I have a humble suggestion. One that is not deriving from some source of a preconceived idea that I have things figured out. Assume my intentions as you like, but my hopes are to spark your curiosity. A man named John recorded an account about a person named Jesus. This Jesus claimed to be the 1 in infinity chance of a person that lived a blameless life. Jesus (as well as John) had no intention of forcing their beliefs on you (as some Christ followers have apparently misunderstood). Rather, there is a clear invitation. A solid theme that runs through his writings, that invites you to come and see. An invitation to come and see for yourself a Jesus who, as the Bible claims, created all things, and yet goes to weep at the grave of a friend. He stated beforehand that he would raise this friend from the dead so that those who would witness would see and believe. And yet, according to John’s account, he stood at this grave….. and wept.

    • Nox

      Morality is an emergent property of human interaction. It comes from empathy.

    • Sunny Day

      Laddy,
      Thank you for being another example of how religion poisons people.

    • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

      You don’t think there’s any reason to trust another person’s advice on how to conduct yourself morally but you think there’s a reason to believe an x-hand account attributed to a man named John writing decades after the events. Can you tell us what this reason is, particularly when this account is of a rather extraordinary nature – a man who created the universe and rose his friend (and later himself) from the dead?

    • Kodie

      Why do you have to turn to Jesus to ask him if it’s ok to steal your neighbor’s stuff? Why don’t you know how your neighbor would feel about that and then decide whether you should do it, or even some other thing, like whether he’ll call the police and they’ll find his stuff at your house and arrest you? Why overcomplicate this shit, it’s fairly simple.

    • Jabster

      Funnily enough I was speaking to God earlier and he said don’t worry about that Laddy … he’s a bit of dick pretending to know what I mean and have done but he’s harmless enough. Saying that he’s still thinking about sending a couple of tigers (bears are so BC) down to maul him just for the lolz.

      • Sunny Day

        Exactly, anyone that wants to assert that a higher morality can only come from god is also open to the claim that god talked to me just yesterday and told me you were an idiot.

        • trj

          In theory, yes, but we both know Laddy’s god tells him only things he already agrees with.

    • Yoav

      What if I determine that a specific ethnicity is deserving of extermination? Who is to tell me that is wrong? Oh… I know, I know, that’s silly. Who in their “right” mind would want to do such a thing.

      How about the god you claim is the source of all morality. Maybe you should read your own magic book, look up the Amalekites.


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