The Nature of God by H.P. Lovecraft

The following is an essay from the new book Against Religion, a compilation H.P. Lovecraft’s writings on atheism and religion. Thanks to Sporting Gentlemen for giving permission to publish this essay on the site. If you like this essay, check out the book! And thanks be to Vorjack for editing the article and adding headings.

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[The following is a series of extracts from letters to the "Kleicomolo," (October 1916 and April 1917). a round-robin correspondence group that included Lovecraft, Rheinhart Kleiner, Ira A. Cole ("Mr. Co") and Maurice W. Moe ("Mr. Mo"). Lovecraft argues that the standard Christian conception of God is full of implausibilities and paradoxes, but goes on to say that widespread disbelief would probably be harmful to society. Lovecraft also engages in a vigorous defense of the pursuit of “absolute truth.”

Editor's note: These selections make for a long blog post. For the sake of readability, I have separated the solid block of text into sections and paragraphs. The section headings are my own. -Vorjack]

God’s Domain

Pullquote: “The whole structure of our chieftain’s orthodox Christianity is built upon the relation of Deity with the one crawling atom we call man; and no theologian can sustain his religion unless he can prove that this speck in infinity is the central point of all creation.”

Concerning the ultimates of time and space, I fear no philosopher would be quite satisfied with Mr. Mo’s light rejection of considerations beyond our own terrestrial globe. The whole structure of our chieftain’s orthodox Christianity is built upon the relation of Deity with the one crawling atom we call man; and no theologian can sustain his religion unless he can prove that this speck in infinity is the central point of all creation. Mr. Mo leaves us in perplexity whether his God is absolutely omnipotent, or whether he is a local deity, presiding over this particular little world or universe as some minor hamadryad presides over some particular tree or grove.

The latter conception, of a God who is confined in action to our visible universe, leaves us to speculate as to what God or forces may preside over the rest of creation—or if we adhere to the commandment of Scripture, and believe only in one God, we must assume that the rest of space is godless; that no personal loving father-deity is there to bless his sons and subjects. But then, if this be so, why did the personal all-wise parent select this one particular little universe wherein to exercise his beneficence? I fear that all theism consists mostly of reasoning in circles, and guessing or inventing what we do not know.

If God is omnipotent, then why did he pick out this one little period and world for his experiment with mankind? Or if he is local, then why did he select this locality, when he had an infinity of universes and an infinity of eras to choose from? And why should the fundamental tenets of theology hold him to be all-pervasive? These are monstrous uncomfortable questions for a pious man to answer, and yet the orthodox clergy continue to assert a complete understanding of all these things, brushing inquiry aside either by sophistry and mysticism, or by evasion and sanctified horror.

Orthodoxy

Pullquote: “The word “Christianity” becomes noble when applied to the veneration of a wonderfully good man and moral teacher, but it grows undignified when applied to a system of white magic based on the supernatural.”

Why must men of sense thus delude themselves with notions of personal and “loving” gods, spirits, and demons? All this sort of thing is good enough for the rabble, but why should rational brains be tormented with such gibberish? It is perfectly true that the conception of a personal force is a vast help in managing the millions, and in giving them much hope and happiness that truth does not convey. Viewing the question in that light, I am a friend of the church, and would never seek to disturb or diminish its influence among those who are able to swallow its doctrines.

I even wish I could believe them myself—it would be so comfortable to know that some day I shall sprout wings and go up to Heaven for a talk with Alexander Pope and Sir Isaac Newton! But, provided a man cannot believe in orthodoxy, why grate on his sensibilities by demanding that he believe? We cannot do what we cannot—at least this has been the general idea since the abolishment of the Popish Inquisition.

It is only the forcible propagation of conventional Christianity that makes the agnostic so bitter toward the church. He knows that all the doctrines cannot possibly be true, but he would view them with toleration if he were asked merely to let them alone for the benefit of the masses whom they can help and succour. The agnostic becomes bitter only when someone presumes to affront his reason by demanding that he believe the impossible, under penalty of censure and ostracism.

The word “Christianity” becomes noble when applied to the veneration of a wonderfully good man and moral teacher, but it grows undignified when applied to a system of white magic based on the supernatural. Christ probably believed himself a true Messiah, since the tendencies of the times might well inculcate such a notion in anyone of his qualities. Whether his mind was strictly normal or not is out of the question. Very few minds are strictly normal, and all religious fanatics are marked with abnormalities of various sorts. It is well known that psychologists group religious phenomena with other and less divine disturbances of the brain and nervous system.

Whether, as the novel of Mr. Moore implies, Christ was alive after his nominal execution; or whether the whole Resurrection legend is a myth, is immaterial. Very little reliable testimony could come from so remote a province as Judaea at that time. For the sensitive mind to harass itself over ancient and mediaeval conceptions, to strain over such questions as how many angels can stand on the point of a needle, (this was actually debated in the Middle Ages) or to wear itself to fragments trying to accept that which it can never accept, is as cruel and reprehensible as to deprive the masses of their spiritual and orthodox solace.

Absolute Truth

Pullquote: “..can thinking men ever be satisfied with a truth short of the ultimate and absolute? Dangerous and hurtful as may be this particular brand of truth, mankind has a shockingly perverse way of chasing after it!”

I think that Mr. Mo really has the same basic conception of creation that I have, save that his long grounded orthodoxy forbids him to express or even to think consciously the stark, bald facts. Mr. Mo’s great argument for orthodoxy is that it accomplishes vast good; an argument which neither affirms nor denies its foundation in absolute truth. Many false beliefs have wrought incalculable good—the observed effects are the effects of the belief; not of the possible truth or untruth that may lie behind the belief. Because a certain preacher has helped reform a drunkard, we have no grounds for acclaiming him as vice-regent of some other person or conscious spirit for whose existence we have no other evidence.

Mr. Mo’s summing up of his own case may be adopted without change as the summing up of my case. “In the face of these phenomena, what does the nature of absolute, ultimate truth matter to you and me? Christianity pure and undefiled is the truth to this world, for it works!” That is, Christianity is “truth to this world”. All men may perfectly agree when they admit the existence of more than one kind of truth. Christianity is not necessarily logical or actual truth, but it is “terrestrial truth”, and that is enough for the majority. Let us be thankful if anything can govern such an unruly race as man.

My point of issue with Mr. Mo is, can thinking men ever be satisfied with a truth short of the ultimate and absolute? Dangerous and hurtful as may be this particular brand of truth, mankind has a shockingly perverse way of chasing after it! An arch-pessimist like myself would naturally wish to avoid the true kind of truth, yet it has the same fascination for me that it had for Copernicus and Galileo! But this is the fault of the age. Why are philosophical studies permitted if their result is so disastrous? We may say of true truth what Mr. Pope said of Vice:

“But seen too oft, familiar with its face,

We first endure, then pity, then embrace!”

[. . .]

Value of Orthodoxy

Pullquote: “Truth is of no practical value to mankind save as it affects terrestrial phenomena, hence the discoveries of science should be concealed or glossed over wherever they conflict with orthodoxy.”

To conclude this weighty discourse, I shall state my attitude toward orthodox theism and Christianity in my own cold-blooded words. I truly believe that Mr. Mo’s opinion, if spoken with equal directness, would be precisely the same:

(1) Orthodox Christianity, by playing upon the emotions of man, is able to accomplish wonders toward keeping him in order and relieving his mind. It can frighten or cajole him away from evil more effectively than could reason. Because of its hypnotic and auto-hypnotic power, this faith should be preserved as long as it can be propped up with arguments or diffused through rhetoric.

It is a crime publicly to attack the church, since upon that institution rests more than half of the responsibility for maintaining the existing social order. On this account, it is well to refrain from open utterances concerning religion, and at times even to pretend belief. Truth is of no practical value to mankind save as it affects terrestrial phenomena, hence the discoveries of science should be concealed or glossed over wherever they conflict with orthodoxy.

It is wisest to invent an artificial sort of “truth” which conforms to the well-being of man. It will never do us any good to know the dimensions of space or the aeons of time, so let us forget all about the universe and the infinity outside the universe. The notion of personal, affectionate Godhead works best with the masses, so let us gently adapt what we know, to what we ought to think. Anything is justifiable in the interests of humanity.

Reality

Pullquote: “We know that yesterday in time our universe and race did not exist. We have no reason for assuming that it will remain in existence save for another moment of eternity.”

(2) As to naked reality—we only know that we are a speck in the engulfing vortices of infinity and eternity. We know that all creation obeys certain laws or principles whose source we know not, but which apparently result from the interaction of material particles, or modes of motion. It is utter quibbling to differentiate betwixt Nature, and a Deity immanent in nature. The distinction is purely one of words.

We know that yesterday in time our universe and race did not exist. We have no reason for assuming that it will remain in existence save for another moment of eternity. Of our relation to all creation we can never know anything whatsoever. All is immensity and chaos. But, since all this knowledge of our limitations cannot possibly be of any value to us, it is better to ignore it in our daily conduct of life. It is dangerous, and therefore, should not be spread broadcast. But every man has a right to think what he thinks and to believe what he believes.

I am interested in Mr. Co’s researches concerning the occult and the supernatural; particularly so since I have encountered several reviews of poor Oliver Lodge’s book “Raymond”—a work which I confess I have not perused at first hand. It may be well to state that Sir Oliver, as well as Sir William Crookes, have received little faith since they turned their attention to [the] fallacy-ridden realm of the supernatural. Their speculations in this direction may well be taken as evidences of freakishness—and in Sir William’s case, of senility; since he is now eighty-five years of age.

It is Lodge, however, who is under consideration, and he cannot plead old age, since he was born in 1851. Of his reported phenomena, and of other cases of a like nature, it is safest to say that insufficient evidence throws them out of court. Disturbed mentality, auto-suggestion, and deliberate charlatanry will be found at the base of most alleged spiritualistic and telepathic manifestations. They most generally occur amongst the ignorant, or amongst those who ardently wish to have them occur.

Skepticism and Imagination

Pullquote: “The very vagueness of human reason, and the very subjectivity of human thought, should warn the student to pay scant attention to the fleeting fancies of the mind. Imagination is a very potent thing, and in the uneducated often usurps the place of genuine experience.”

Many of the most plausible cases resolve themselves into the most deliberate imposture upon impartial and authentick investigation. More than one “broad-minded” dupe of spiritualism felt the throes of sheepishness when the exceedingly clever Eusapia Palladino was exposed as a fraud; yet each victim might have known that such magic as she exhibited was impossible according to the recognised principles of Nature. Open-mindedness becomes a fault when it fails to take into account the fundamental probabilities of things.

I abhor the sickly attitude of a certain soft-headed class of investigators, who so fear the imputation of bigotry, that they will make fools of themselves by wasting serious thought over obvious cheats and impostors. The very vagueness of human reason, and the very subjectivity of human thought, should warn the student to pay scant attention to the fleeting fancies of the mind. Imagination is a very potent thing, and in the uneducated often usurps the place of genuine experience.

I have encountered many instances of children who, without conscious falsification, confuse the real with the unreal, and relate in good faith experiences through which they have not passed. It is reasonable to assume that many apparent instances of supernatural manifestations were devised subconsciously in the brains of the narrators. Atavism hath implanted many dark fancies in man; it needs but a little relaxation of intellectualism to bring up the old ghosts of the past, and revive that intense faith, or tendency to have faith, in the supernatural, which originally grew out of our ancestors’ attempts to explain nature.

The progress of science will eventually, I believe, enunciate at least two laws, which will forever put an end to spiritualism amongst the educated and even the half-educated. They are:

(1) Life, animal and vegetable, including human life, is a mode of motion which ceases absolutely upon the death of the body containing it.

(2) The future, so far as organic beings are concerned, can never be predicted, since individual and unfathomable caprice has power to direct events into any of the innumerable channels possible under the natural law.

[. . .]

Effects of Science on Religion

Pullquote: “Not that science positively refutes religion—it merely makes religion seem [so] monstrously improbable that a large majority of men can no longer believe in it.”

As the Mo-Lo theological controversy narrows down to fewer points of difference, it may be correspondingly given a smaller and smaller space in each successive epistle. I perceive that my erudite opponent challenges my assumption that scientific progress must be “concealed or glossed over” in order to ensure the preservation of religious belief. He declares that the church is willing to admit all the discoveries of science, reconciling them to some increasingly vague theistical plan—that is, to use plainer language, altering religion to suit science, and making of God a plastic character to be remodelled whenever obvious truth disproves one of His original legendary attributes.

This I am willing to admit; but I am not equally willing to abandon the basic idea of my statement, that it will be found necessary in the end to minimise science in order to preserve faith. Not every man is as happily incurious as Mr. Mo; and for many persons, a mere knowledge of the approximate dimensions of the visible universe is enough to destroy forever the notion of a personal godhead whose whole care is expended upon puny mankind, and whose only genuine and original Messiah was dispatched to save the insignificant vermin, or men, who inhabit this one relatively microscopic globe. Not that science positively refutes religion—it merely makes religion seem [so] monstrously improbable that a large majority of men can no longer believe in it.

And to go a step further—sooner or later the relation betwixt organic and inorganic life will be discovered. It will be clearly demonstrated how carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and other elements combine to form substances possessing vital energy. Probably the chemist or biologist will be able to create in his laboratory some very primitive sort of animal or vegetable organism. This will be the death knell of superstition and theology alike; and unless it be sacredly concealed, the church will cease to exist save amongst the very ignorant. But of course, since this has not yet come to pass, I am aware that it forms no truly legitimate part of my case against orthodoxy. However—the probability is strong!

When Mr. Mo charges me with inconsistency in asking whether thinking men can ever be satisfied with make-shift terrestrial truth as opposed to stark absolute fact, I fear he misapprehends my meaning. I did not ask, can a thinking man be so satisfied; my question relating to thinking men as a class—to the majority of the scientists and philosophers of today and tomorrow. Surely Mr. Mo does not deem me so ignorant as not to know that many men of vast culture and attainments are devoutly orthodox.

Indeed, there is much in pure humanitarian culture, as opposed to rigid scientific training, which encourages absorption in the affairs of mankind, and more or less indifference to the unfathomed abysses of star-strown space that yawn interminably about this terrestrial grain of dust. Perhaps I am a barbarian at heart—sometimes I believe I am—to be so anxious to know what is, and not what ought to be. I cannot attach so much importance to mere mankind as I should—the “Homo sum” sort of enthusiasm never appealed greatly to me.6 I am not very proud of being an human being; in fact, I distinctly dislike the species in many ways. I can readily conceive of beings vastly superior in every respect. But to be orthodox, one should have less imagination!

Pragmatism and Absolute Truth

Pullquote: “The pages of history are red with the blood of those who have died for their intellectual convictions. Truth-hunger is a hunger just as real as food-hunger—it is equally strong if less explicable;”

Mr. Mo’s frank admission that he is satisfied with the empirical “truth” which results from an evasion of astronomical facts, is in a way surprising to me; yet after reflection I can understand the mental attitude, the direct opposite of my own, which enables him to make such a statement. He is to some extent, consciously or unconsciously, a disciple of that not unknown Oxford don, Prof. Schiller, concerning whom an article lately appeared in THE INDEPENDENT. This philosopher, like our Appletonian comrade, has a rather elastic notion of Truth, giving that supposedly inflexible abstraction a curiously adaptable nature. In a word, he is a pragmatist of extreme type.

Until I read of Prof. Schiller, I was unable to understand how such theories could be held; but I now perceive that there is a not inconsiderable school of pragmatists, who hold to similar ideas. This controversy has taught me many things, foremost among them being my own comparative ignorance of formal philosophy and its subdivisions. I intend to give some attention to this subject in future, in an endeavour to comprehend views which seem to me now too absurd for credence on the part of thinkers. I have a notion that I shall become ardently interested in this subject, for I am a born speculator. (In the academic, not the financial sense!)

Mr. Mo’s final statement: “All your argument has not shown me why it (absolute truth) interests you,” brings to my mind an interesting train of thought. Is there, then, no genuineness in that instinct of truth-seeking which we commonly suppose to reside in the human mind? Does nothing matter which has no direct bearing on our daily life? Were the Papists right in torturing men who believed in the Copernican system? Verily, it matters little to man whether the earth revolve around the sun, or the sun around the earth! No one has really shewn why this matter should interest us! It is sufficient if we eat, sleep, and worship!

But with all due respect to Mr. Mo, I must reiterate my belief in the necessity of truth to the human mind. [M]y argument does not need to show why truth interests me […] The fact remains that it does interest me, as it has interested thousands of other men. The pages of history are red with the blood of those who have died for their intellectual convictions. Truth-hunger is a hunger just as real as food-hunger—it is equally strong if less explicable; indeed, who can assign a direct reason for any of the obscurer desires and aspirations of man? It is all according to the plan of Nature.

In flouting the absolute truth because of its lack of application of the affairs of mankind, Mr. Mo reminds me of the Florentine astronomer Sizzi, who thus argued against the existence of Jupiter’s satellites: “Moreover”, quoth this sage in the course of his argument, “the satellites are invisible to the naked eye, and therefore can exert no influence on the earth, and therefore would be useless,and therefore do not exist!” ‘Twas vastly inconsiderate of Galileo to see these troublesome orbs, after they had been conclusively demonstrated not to exist at all! How complex is the mortal brain!

  • Elemenope

    Indeed, there is much in pure humanitarian culture, as opposed to rigid scientific training, which encourages absorption in the affairs of mankind, and more or less indifference to the unfathomed abysses of star-strown space that yawn interminably about this terrestrial grain of dust. Perhaps I am a barbarian at heart—sometimes I believe I am—to be so anxious to know what is, and not what ought to be. I cannot attach so much importance to mere mankind as I should—the “Homo sum” sort of enthusiasm never appealed greatly to me.6 I am not very proud of being an human being; in fact, I distinctly dislike the species in many ways. I can readily conceive of beings vastly superior in every respect. But to be orthodox, one should have less imagination!

    Wow. Nietzsche and Lovecraft, sittin’ in a tree…
    ——————————–
    This is a really awesome compilation.

  • john locke

    The author heavily overestimates how much people think like him. Much of the things he has said have come to pass, yet many people remain religious in spite of that. Most people are less concerned with absolute truth than he thinks.

  • mikespeir

    It is a crime publicly to attack the church, since upon that institution rests more than half of the responsibility for maintaining the existing social order.

    This is a tempting notion, one with which I find some sympathy. I’ve often said that religion is the trellis upon which civilization has grown. We can’t hack away at the trellis without pulling down much of human society with it. That’s why I don’t care for the tactics of those who would have religion disappear tomorrow if possible. It’s a tantalizing prospect, of course. We all see the harm that religion has caused. But we stand to do even more damage by acting rashly.

    But that doesn’t mean religion shouldn’t be attacked at all. We must be willing to demonstrate the absurdity of it or it will live forever. So, while I think religion needs to be go away, it must be a gradual, subtle process. For every structural member we pull down we should have another already in place, ready to bear the load. It’s a process that’s been ongoing for several centuries now. It may require the patient work of several more.

    • janelle1010

      We must be willing to demonstrate the absurdity of it or it will live forever. So, while I think religion needs to be go away, it must be a gradual, subtle process. For every structural member we pull down we should have another already in place, ready to bear the load. It’s a process that’s been ongoing for several centuries now. It may require the patient work of several more.

      This statement finally encompasses the sane solution to a pandemic problems Thank you very much!

  • GeekGirl

    “But then, if this be so, why did the personal all-wise parent select this one particular little universe wherein to exercise his beneficence?”

    Because we’re the cool kids.
    ;)

  • John C

    DANIEL, please allow this one (heartfelt) comment as I will not post any more today, you guys can have the ‘last word’. Maligned, disparaged and refuted as it will surely be, yet I believe it to be topic-relevant and sincere. I’m sure the forum will ardently disagree, but what’s new eh? We know one another well enough by now and I greatly appreciate and value each and every one of you, even if my sentiments are utterly unrequited.

    Some of his words really moved me, for there is a grain of truth to be found in them, they speak to man’s (true and tragic) condition, to his pitiful plight. But here’s the problem, it is impossible to know in truth the ‘nature of God’ in a state of unbelief, is a severe contradiction, cannot be known, misinterpretation is the only possible consequence for God (in His mercy) will not empower the prideful, there is no light in unbelief, in darkness, it is never rewarded as that would only serve to further distort their own self-imposed deformity (from their original, God-like nature) for he is even ‘kind to the unthankful and selfish man’, Luke 6:35. That mind (and man) cannot know God, is hostile to Him as is plainly recorded here.

    He says (as Elemeno cited) ‘I am not very proud of being an human being; in fact, I distinctly dislike the species in many ways. I can readily conceive of beings vastly superior in every respect’.

    Powerful words indeed. But what is it about his own ‘species’ that causes him to lament his very association with it? How intuitive, perceptive, ironic. Is it not the very things that Christ came to reform, to heal in us? (1 Jn 3:8). His whole premise falters in his very perception of mankind, for he see’s him limited by his current (and corrupted) condition, in a minute slither of (temporal) time as opposed to seeing him in a panoramic sense, from his initial (God-like) conception and design, so he ‘dislikes the species’, even himself, loathes his own (seeming) insignificance, how tragic, sad.

    But he is right about one thing in that he ‘readily conceives of beings vastly superior in every respect’, in that he (unknowingly) references the original matrix, the first Mold, ie Christ who is the ‘express image’ and type of who we (really) are, were intended to be from the beginning. And so the contrast between the ‘species’, ie mankind that we see today with his grossly vile and tragically abundant history of war, hatred, countless cruelties and injustices across the ages of time and Christ (when we see him in truth, in beauty) is astonishing, is most regrettable. Lovecraft laments this, all the while oblivious to the fact of his (at the same time) pointing out the gospel message, the chasm and the hope, paradoxically.

    Within man lies the Seed of perfection, a perpetual potential and invitation to arise, to re-ascend (be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect, Matt 5:48) meaning restored to his original state/condition but he refuses, is content (is rich as Christ put it, in and of himself) apart from God. And that very contentment, that (self) satisfaction is a darkness itself, a dis-ease yet unknown to those that bitterly hold to it in ignorance (in the true, non-malicious sense of the word), is an insidious ‘venom’ of sorts for which there is only one Antidote, ie Love (Himself).

    Man refuses the Cure that heals the creature and frees him from ‘the bondage of corruption’ (for how can one long for freedom when he thinks himself already free?). How astute, how poignant in many ways are Lovecraft’s words and dilemma for in them the same great need, the hope is communicated albeit subtly, in undertones. The current ‘species’ is as a rogue, runaway kind, foreign and alienated from its original Form. Yet somehow, mercifully in man’s consciousness, there is a faint, latent ‘memory’ of sorts that reminds him of who he (really) is, who he was in the beginning that (perpetually and mercifully, lovingly) calls unto him, grinds away inwardly, daily, unceasingly groaning within himself saying ‘how can I re-ascend to that (high and lofty) place, how can I be that (original) man again’? That is the gospel message in a nut (I’m the nut i know, ha) shell.

    Love, compassion, nobility, selflessness, tenderness, kindness, unity, understanding, light, truth, all these are in that ‘originally intentioned’ creature, ie mankind for he originally came ‘out of’ God but who sadly remains unaware of his true and noble Origin.

    If we’ll allow the pain and discomfort of that (ever-present) memory to ‘drive’ us, to lead us homeward again, if we’ll embrace that gnawing sense of incompleteness then in the end we will find a great mercy, a fairy tale of sorts awaiting our discovery and longing for then we will have been following our ‘hearts’ which always point true north, homeward, Paternally speaking.

    When the gospel message is seen and heard in truth, what it truly is, then and only then will it be immensely esteemed, treasured. But as long as ‘religion’ is allowed to cloak over and cover its true essence, than the beast nature prevails and the beauty (our true hearts) are like a lover scorned, refused and left unfulfilled, unsatisfied, brokenhearted.

    Lovecraft is on to something here, in his very name lies the answer itself, paradoxically.

    • Jabster

      So when you claimed that you weren’t here to evangelise what exactly did you mean?

    • JohnMWhite

      John, in all seriousness, how many times do you have to be told that quoting biblical passages at non-believers does not in any way bolster your case? If I quoted the Qur’an at you, would you believe in Islam? Would you even consider it worth thinking about? After being here for so long I find it astonishing that you still attempt such a tactic. We do not care what Luke and John and Matthew say. That isn’t evidence. Telling us the thoughts on a deity we don’t believe in of some people we have no reason to trust is utterly pointless. Scripture is not evidence, nor is it a rebuttal to Lovecraft’s points. It would be like using the TV show 24 to refute an article on US foreign policy.

      • Yabo

        Jack Bauer would own J.C.

        • JohnMWhite

          Of course he would. Jack Bauer has been back from the dead TWICE. When faced with a difficult situation, I always think to myself… WWJD? What Would Jack Do?

          • trj

            Or WWJT – Who Would Jack Torture?

            Sad thing is, some Americans, including a politician or two, have used Jack Bauer as an example of why they think torture is justifiable.

    • busterggi

      Although its tempting to refute you by quoting from the sacred book, the Necronomicon, I shall refrain out of respect for Yog-Sothoth.

    • Dhes of Yuggoth

      The bulk of John C’s assertions I will refrain from comment on, as it has been quite sufficiently and wittily covered by the others above, but it does little good to suggest as was done in the final parting shot, that the answer you insist might have done Lovecraft some good was right there in his own name. I can only conclude that John C. may well have meant the “Love-” portion, meaning something on the order of the love which is said to be granted by God. Setting aside for the moment that he’d no doubt have rolled his eyes at this as a fairly simplistic, mawkish, trite and twee sentiment for which he’d probably have had very little patience, the “Love” portion of his surname owes nothing whatsoever to the tenderer of human emotional states and everything to the modern corruption of an old French word meaning “she-wolf.” This is likewise true of many such old English names of Norman origin that begin with “Love-”, like “Lovecraft” and “Lovell,” along with a host of others. One may therefore deduce without much risk of error that the old aristocratic line from whence he originally hailed once owned land containing a small field (or “croft”, which became corrupted to “craft” as late as perhaps the 17th century) where wolves once roamed, long ago.

    • Roger

      What the devil is this fool babbling on about?

      • John C

        God’s love for the Rog’ster! Big time, unfathomable, undying, immeasurable, yet unrequited.

        • JohnMWhite

          My questions are feeling pretty unrequited right now.

          • John C

            Actually JWM, if you look again, very little ‘scripture’ was employed in that long (too long, ha) comment of mine yesterday. Neither am I here to ‘convince’ you of anything, my only obligation and heartfelt desire is to communicate in love truthfully while offering a disparate viewpoint for your consideration.

            I know, I know…you want ‘evidence’. That’s an all too convenient cop out since we don’t approach God in the way we would a textbook lesson or a science project. Seeking an exception, an ‘end run’ of sorts around faith, that much maligned and misunderstood term is pointless. But fortunately, even that (faith) is a God given thing as He supplies the ‘all’ you need to know Him who reveals himself to the humble, the meek and the ‘poor in spirit’. Can you identify with any of those attributes JWM? Are you humble, meek or ‘poor in spirit’ friend? All the best.

            • JohnMWhite

              “Actually JWM, if you look again, very little ’scripture’ was employed in that long (too long, ha) comment of mine yesterday.”

              You used three direct citations of the bible to try to support your point. Why? Again, what is the point in quoting something to us when you already know it doesn’t have any meaning to us? If the bible were at all meaningful to us, we would not be atheists. Since you may have missed the further question, I’ll ask it again – if a Muslim told you of the love and peace Allah has for you, and quoted the Qur’an at you, would those passages make any difference to you or hold any weight with you whatsoever? What about someone quoting the Kama Sutra? The Iliad?

              “Neither am I here to ‘convince’ you of anything, my only obligation and heartfelt desire is to communicate in love truthfully while offering a disparate viewpoint for your consideration.”

              But you’re not communicating. You’re spamming. I mean that in the nicest of terms, but honestly, I find it bizarre that you do not realise by now that biblical quotes are as meaningless to us as offers of money from Nigerian Princes and pills to increase our manhood.

              “I know, I know…you want ‘evidence’. That’s an all too convenient cop out since we don’t approach God in the way we would a textbook lesson or a science project.”

              No, YOU don’t approach god the way you would a textbook lesson or science project. THAT is the cop out.

              “Seeking an exception, an ‘end run’ of sorts around faith, that much maligned and misunderstood term is pointless. But fortunately, even that (faith) is a God given thing as He supplies the ‘all’ you need to know Him who reveals himself to the humble, the meek and the ‘poor in spirit’.”

              I understand faith. I don’t have it. I won’t have it without some reason for it to begin. As a blank slate here, I have as much reason to have faith in Allah as in Yahweh, in Shiva as in the Buddha, in the Flying Spaghetti Monster as in Lord Mandelson. Unless you can tell me why I should have faith in YOUR god, I could choose any, but it would be a pure lottery for no reason whatsoever.

              “Can you identify with any of those attributes JWM? Are you humble, meek or ‘poor in spirit’ friend?”

              No, I’m not humble, meek or poor in spirit. I don’t need Jesus to save me from anything, except, if you are correct, himself, and that’s his own damn fault and I will not beg a bully to spare me. If he loves me so much, he wouldn’t have created hell and wouldn’t try to abuse and blackmail me into accepting him.

            • John C

              Only the Truth (Christ) requires an inward validation, a reciprocating, response, is what we are held accountable to, are responsible for. For to whom much is given, much is required. It’s not the same for the Quran because its not…Christ, erh Truth, get it? The truth you hear in this life, in this (temporal) form and condition is actually a great grace, a merciful intervention of sorts though it be spurned, treated as mere worthless dung.

              How can God make us accountable for His truth over other ‘voices’? Because in each of us lies a frequency, a latent bandwidth of sorts to recognize truth when we hear it since we originally came out of that same Truth Itself. It’s a who’s your Daddy’ identification, a lineage. So this gets back to the Truth saying “as many as believed Him (recognized, chose to hear and validate his truthful voice speaking within themselves) He gave the power to become sons of God (again)”.

              A longing for the truth, inwardly speaking is an essential attribute. It’s been said that the scariest thing is to believe a lie. If its truth that sets us free then the opposite must also be true, that its the believing of a lie that enslaves us, that binds us.

              Why an occasional scripture verse? Why Dawkins, Hitchens and all the other (self made) men and women quoted here? For the same ‘reason’, it’s all a matter of who has your ear, who you listen to isn’t it? All the best.

            • Kodie

              For to whom much is given, much is required. It’s not the same for the Quran because its not…Christ, erh Truth, get it?

              So you’re saying that it’s impossible for the same to be true about other religions because they are mistaken. People who believe all those as purely as you believe what you believe are ALL mistaken because only Jesus is true. Only Jesus doesn’t sound crazy to you.

              You are one oblivious snore of a person, John C. Broken record, wild tales of hypocrisy and made up stuff that is only true for you. You drank the water and call it truth, it was some really crazy water, and you are plain crazy.

            • trj

              > “the scariest thing is to believe a lie.”

              So Muslims, Hindus, Jews, whoever don’t follow your particular god, must be really scared then? Because they wouldn’t be able to find comfort believing in something that isn’t true?

              Sorry, that doesn’t hold up. Believing in a lie isn’t scary in the least. Usually quite the opposite, in fact.

              BTW, how often do you see someone here quoting Dawkins, Hitchens et al.? Let’s make a deal: for every time one of those guys are quoted, you can quote the Bible. Seems fair, yes?

            • JohnMWhite

              “It’s not the same for the Quran because its not…Christ, erh Truth, get it? ”

              Well that’s convenient for you… except if I asked this question of anyone else of another faith, they’d say the same for your holy book. And they would have precisely the same amount of evidence and conviction and feelings inside that god/allah/yahweh/buddha/whatever had told them The Truth.

              “How can God make us accountable for His truth over other ‘voices’? Because in each of us lies a frequency, a latent bandwidth of sorts to recognize truth when we hear it since we originally came out of that same Truth Itself.”

              Citation needed. And remember, the bible doesn’t count. The bible would only count if we already believed in a god that could have divinely inspired it.

              “If its truth that sets us free then the opposite must also be true, that its the believing of a lie that enslaves us, that binds us.”

              Or an infinitely more powerful bully capable of binding you in hell for all eternity with a mere thought. That could enslave us and bind us. Not sure I want to worship something like that.

              “Why an occasional scripture verse? Why Dawkins, Hitchens and all the other (self made) men and women quoted here? For the same ‘reason’, it’s all a matter of who has your ear, who you listen to isn’t it? All the best.”

              You’re missing the purpose of the question. As touched on, Dawkins and co aren’t quoted all that often here, and besides, these (especially Dawkins) are scientists who have a basis for what they are saying and their work can be corroborated against other sources. However, the main problem is… we’re atheists, by and large. We don’t believe in god, certainly not the god of the bible, so we can not see it as divinely inspired and cannot find any authority in it. There’s no point quoting it. It’s hearsay at best. Texts from scientists, though… that’s information that is verifiable and testable and falsifiable. For people who believe in science, you need to use more than magic words to appeal to them. You need something approaching evidence. And you can’t just keep calling the request for evidence a cop out, all that does is tell us you have none.

            • John C

              JWM, yes, you are utterly beholden, captive to the physical senses, the ‘sciences’ to assuage your need for ‘evidence’. This is man’s plight, his ‘earthiness’, he can no longer see past himself, is conflicted.

              Besides, you don’t really want evidence do you? I mean that would force you to believe right? Would remove the need for faith, all the childlike wonder would be gone, the mystery, the crescendo, wouldn’t be love, you’d be a mere Godbot, would reduce Him to your standards, tarnish the luster, the very essence? You only think you want ‘evidence’. God is not a field of study, but a Person, a beautiful, beautiful Person.

              So when we hear things like ‘blessed are them that believe and yet have not seen’ then maybe we can begin to understand, maybe? Nah, you don’t care to know, you want evidence instead. That’s quite a severe trade off.

            • JohnMWhite

              “JWM, yes, you are utterly beholden, captive to the physical senses, the ’sciences’ to assuage your need for ‘evidence’. ”

              Yes. You make it sound like a bad thing.

              “This is man’s plight, his ‘earthiness’, he can no longer see past himself, is conflicted.”

              Citation needed. I think I’ve asked you for some others before and never seem to get them. Who says this is a plight? Who says that man is conflicted? I don’t feel conflicted, I just want the truth. Quoting from a book I have zero reason to trust isn’t going to help me find any truth. That’s not conflict, it’s rationality.

              “Besides, you don’t really want evidence do you?”

              Sure do. That’s why I keep asking.

              “I mean that would force you to believe right?”

              No, it wouldn’t. Think of a trial. The jury is presented with evidence both for and against the guilt of the defendant. They then deliberate and decide whether they believe the evidence presented best suggests his guilt or his innocence. Remember, I’m looking for evidence, not proof. Just evidence, just something to deliberate. Hearsay in court is not evidence, and I’m certainly not going to stake my life and soul on a few quotations from a book with no authority or relevance.

              “wouldn’t be love”

              No, for the hundredth time, abuse and threats of damnation are not love. Creating the false dichotomy of “love me or burn forever” is not love. It’s pure evil.

              “You only think you want ‘evidence’.”

              Glad you’re in my head to tell me what I think.

              “God is not a field of study, but a Person, a beautiful, beautiful Person.”

              Then he can introduce himself to me. Properly.

              “So when we hear things like ‘blessed are them that believe and yet have not seen’ then maybe we can begin to understand, maybe?”

              What have I been telling you for the past few comments?

              “That’s quite a severe trade off.”

              Only because it apparently cannot be provided.

            • John C

              JWM, I’ve noticed you employ that love/burn thing often, not just with me either. You made me remember an old article on your favorite topic, ha. Perhaps your understanding of it is incomplete? Check it out:

              “Nothing is inexorable but love. For Love loves unto purity. Love has ever in view the absolute loveliness of that which it beholds. Therefore all that is not beautiful in the beloved, all that comes between and is not of love’s kind must be destroyed. And ‘our God is a consuming fire.’ It is the nature of God so terribly pure that it destroys all that is not pure as fire. He will have purity. It is not that the fire will burn us until we worship thus, if we do not worship God, but that the fire will burn us until we worship thus, but as the highest consciousness of life, the presence of God. In the outer darkness, where the worst sinners dwell, God hath withdrawn himself, but not lost his hold. His face is turned away, but his hand is laid upon him still. His heart has ceased to beat into the man’s heart, but he keeps him alive by his fire. And that fire will go searching and burning on in him, as in the highest saint who is not yet pure as he is pure. But at length, O God, wilt thou not cast death and hell into the lake of fire even into thine own consuming self? Death shall then die everlastingly, and hell itself will pass away, and leave her dolorous mansions to the peering day. Then indeed will thou be all in all. For then our poor brothers and sisters, every one,-O God, we trust in thee, the consuming fire, shall have been burnt clean and brought home.”

              George Macdonald (1824-1905) Scottish author, poet, lover of God.

            • JohnMWhite

              Oh that makes it sound so much better. And I like that he has taken it upon himself to define god and hell. I’m afraid you haven’t answered any of my points or questions at all.

            • Kodie

              You basically derived a yearning for god from a few strands of thought out of context from a guy who simply cannot reconcile god’s existence with reality and explained why. You ran over all that and went straight for the part where he just wants so much to believe in god, and how it would help if only he could receive it! How he said things without knowing he was really saying what you’re always saying! Sure, god is pretty much a last resort, appealing to the lowest of the low. God conveniently “reveals himself” when people have tried everything else. He wasn’t there all along, and he isn’t there now — the difference is that people need a rope to hang onto, and that’s an existing concept. It’s not true, but it’s a concept.

            • Siberia

              But fortunately, even that (faith) is a God given thing as He supplies the ‘all’ you need to know Him who reveals himself to the humble, the meek and the ‘poor in spirit’.

              Except he doesn’t, because to believe him you must first know he exists, and to know he exists you need to be born in a country or a family where such a belief already exists.

              I ask you again and again, JC, a question you never answered: if people are born with all the needed information to find god, why don’t christians spontaneously sprout WITHOUT having to read scriptures/be introduced to it by someone else first? Why don’t natives in the Amazon jungle don’t spontaneously find Jesus and all that rot? Might it be because they don’t even know such a thing as Jesus exists?

            • John C

              Siberia,

              As in nature, the shell of the seed must first be cracked open before any signs of life are seen, prior to any ‘sprouting’ above ground is evident. So, underground (spiritually speaking) in one’s inner man God is ‘cracking that (hard) shell before any ‘bible reading’ or ‘fruit’ etc manifests in the visual realm. That inward work is a hidden beauty, its just a matter of who will be broken, and who will hardened, and that is our choice, our dilemma.

              Peace and blessings to you in your (physical) hardship, my heart goes out to you tonight in Brazil. All the best.

            • Kodie

              It has nothing to do with nature. It is not like nature, it is not as in nature. Millions and millions of people are fooled into thinking their purpose in life is to save people who have never heard of Jesus, so they pack up their stuff, go around the world, and tell people this unbelievable story – it is just a story. You really make me want to throw up. The truth is – I really want to throw up. Everything you say has that effect on me, so I guess I have to take a break from reading these train wrecks you call answers.

            • VidLord

              Siberia: “Why don’t natives in the Amazon jungle don’t spontaneously find Jesus and all that rot? Might it be because they don’t even know such a thing as Jesus exists?”

              To add to that thought – what about the billions upon billions who lived and died BEFORE Christ? Did they not have spirituality? Were they not humans just like us? I would love to see a day when we encounter aliens and they communicate to us how great and all powerful their god is. No doubt we would say – poor foolish aliens – they have no clue that Jesus is the savior!

          • John C

            You’ve essentially put God on trial, that is not a beneficial posture, won’t lead to ‘knowing’. The only way to know for yourself is by the very way he said you could, that’s the truth friend and no, it doesn’t have anything to do with ‘church’.

            Here’s a question for you, for all. How is it, that after nearly a year and a half here my love for the UF forum only continues to increase despite all the persistent ugly words, name calling, etc yet only a small group here can even tolerate my presence, let alone be nice to me in return, ha. And all I do is share that truth of my Father’s love, His heart toward mankind. I haven’t come to know Him casually or without a severe cost, in fact its cost me everything, cost me ‘all’ over the last quarter century. Is it because I’m delusional, crazy, do I have some martyr complex? No, none of the above. here’s the secret, its not me at all. It’s Christ in me who genuinely loves you guys, for He is Love.

            There’s the ‘evidence’ you’re looking for! :) ha all the best John.

            • VidLord

              John – clearly name calling on a little webpage means nothing to you nor should it. If you are enlightened then the least of your concerns would be what others think of you. Your idea of ‘Christ’ in you is no different than the ancient mysteries that the Gnostic’s used to believe in – before Christ ever came onto the scene.

              You see – you are feeling something that countless others have felt before Christ. You use the word ‘Christ’ but really that is just a different word for the same feeling. The suffering godman who dies and resurrects was around long before Christ. I do not doubt that it is a strong and profound feeling – but still, it is a feeling within your brain and nothing more – no matter how profound that feeling is to you, it is an emotional state within your brain. We can see it gives you a great inner peace – and that good sir is the beauty of delusion.

            • John C

              No, there is no ‘beauty’ in delusion since its a falsehood and nothing false can ever ‘truly’ set one free’. But the spirit? There is ample beauty there indeed.

              As far as me being upset about name calling, never. Its impossible to offend a dead man and I (that old man and nature, ie my adam died with Christ on the cross long ago). That is a truth that sets me ‘truly’ free! Get free Vid, ha take care.

            • Jus

              Along the lines of what John C is saying:

              “How much do you have to hate somebody…..to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody……..to believe that everlasting life is possible, and not tell them that?”
              - Penn Jillette

              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhG-tkQ_Q2w

              “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

            • mcc1789

              @JohnC Maybe you’re masochistic, John? How should we know? I don’t think any of us hate you, and haven’t seen any “ugly” words unless as is likely that means “questioning your position.” There are many atheists whom I know from experience suffer the “ugly” words of Christians and others for disagreeing with their beliefs, yet still don’t hold a grudge. I know because I’m one of them. The Amazon tribes bit reminds me of something:
              “A missionary priest brought the Gospel to Eskimos in the cold, isolated regions of Canada, after painstakingly learning their language so he could tell them about God, sin, the salvation which they could have. After this, in puzzlement, an Eskimo asked the priest ‘If I did not already know about God and sin, would I go to hell?’ The priest answered ‘No, not if you didn’t know.’ Then why did you tell me?’ cried the Eskimo in consternation.”
              If the “truth” is something, that once heard, will kill me if I don’t believe, then I’d rather not know. If you love me, don’t tell it. Because I can’t believe that. If God exists, why give us minds to reason, when you explicitly say to cast it aside, regardless of evidence and logic. However, I at least understand why you go by faith alone, or fideism. Certainly no evidence or logic has proven the existence of God. Yet that is precisely the “reason” I cannot believe. If God exists, he gave us reason. If he doesn’t want me using that, it seems like a waste at the least, if not cruel game-playing. On the other hand, all my reason shows he doesn’t exist, so until then, I don’t believe.

        • Roger

          So, your imaginary sky friend is a spurned lover? It sounds like Bella from “Twilight.” Dude, you have got to stop reading those bodice rippers. Oh, and get on some damn meds.

    • Mark Temporis

      Ummm…you DO know who you’re talking about, right? H.P. Lovecraft provides numerous examples of ‘beings superior to humanity in every way’ in his work. They are nothing like Christ, and nothing like humanity. His imaginary beings have as much origin in the human ideal as humanity itself has in any hypothetical formic ideal.

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  • LRA

    Some excellent points there! Yes, the search for “absolute truth” is dangerous and hurtful. Disillusionment hurts like hell. Yes, children and the immature-minded confuse real with unreal. It is easier to believe unreal comfortable things than to face real threatening things. Yes, science makes religion seem silly. It is a powerful process that shoots for objectivity as best it can through elimination, as much as possible, of human biases in addition to making the etiological stories of the past unnecessary. Bravo, Lovecraft et al.

  • VidLord

    “no theologian can sustain his religion unless he can prove that this speck in infinity is the central point of all creation. Mr. Mo leaves us in perplexity whether his God is absolutely omnipotent, or whether he is a local deity, presiding over this particular little world or universe as some minor hamadryad presides over some particular tree or grove.”

    yes – I’ve thought about this a great deal. Someone mentioned before that size scales (trillions of stars, galaxies etc.) are irrelevant as a tiny microscopic virus can kill millions and never be seen. Very true. I asked an old monk this question, to which he replied, “the balls of hydrogen you call stars are nothing compared to a single human thought”. Beautiful – arrogant -but beautiful. But would God make anything in vain? No – was the reply (as if he knew). Ok….then about those balls of gas you said were nothing??? No response.

    I don’t believe there is a supernatural omnipotent “BEING” out there. We are humans and of course we want to create some sort of ‘being’ that is like us. The ‘being’ acts like us, gets angry like us, has our emotions etc. No. Any description of said ‘being’ that in any remote way resembles humans is a complete arrogant lie. Any attempt to have that being localized ie. to a mountain, gold box etc. is utter absurdity. Any attempt to confine ‘God’ and prayers to a TIME that is more opportune ie. holy week, christmas, easter etc. is foolish as well. Now if I were to spout forth a theory of ‘God’ it would be this (which i don’t believe btw)

    As humans we are not aware of every single cell in our body. Cells live and die millions of times over within our bodies each and every day and we are not the slightest bit aware of a single birth or death or prolonged suffering. If a cell is in violent pain due to a virus attack – we are not aware of it. If it was ‘unfair’ -still we don’t care. And yet the cells – they are alive are they not? When the cells die they do not have an afterlife. Neither do we. In the same manner ‘God’ is the universe – all that there is – and we are the cells. ‘God’ is not aware of our births or deaths or sufferings etc. and yet we are part of ‘God’ just as ‘God’ is a part of us. Each of us is but one single cell (or two if you count conjoined twins) amongst an unlimited number of other cells living and dying on other planets – the entirety of it all, taken together as one whole is ‘God’.

    • Francesc

      “the entirety of it all, taken together as one whole is ‘God’ ”
      You can name the Universe (or the multiverse) as ‘God’. I assume you are aware that’s not the usual definition of God and of course, it is not by any means the christian definition of ‘God’.

      Moreover, it is not even a usefull definition of ‘God’ as…
      - “All what is” can’t interact as a whole with a part of itself.
      - You can’t extract moral rules from something without will

      • VidLord

        “You can’t extract moral rules from something without will”

        Yes which is why ‘God’ is oddly and peculiarly just like US!

        “But if cattle and horses or lions had hands, or were able to draw with their hands and do the work that men can do, horses would draw the forms of the gods like horses, and cattle like cattle, and they would make their bodies such as they each had themselves.”
        Xenophanes

        “Men create the gods in their own image.”
        Xenophanes

  • nazani14

    Dang, I love the way he writes. I’ve read most of his fiction, and I’d read an account of pulling weeds if it were written by Lovecraft.

    • Dhes of Yuggoth

      ;) I have read something of the sort of his, though, it wasn’t quite about pulling weeds half so much as hacking them down with a machete in great swaths. He did this on at least two separate occasions as an adult, and both times, he certainly seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed himself.

      But, your assessment is spot on. The stuff reads like a ripping adventure yarn. :D

  • Dhes of Yuggoth

    “Wow. Nietzsche and Lovecraft, sittin’ in a tree…” Hee. Well, Elemenope, you’ve definitely hit on something there. In truth, Lovecraft (or Howie, as I often call him) was quite the Nietzschean, and greatly enjoyed the company of the few other Nietzscheans he knew, often extolling highly the virtues of their company to his other friends and in precisely such terms.

    I will definitely have to add this book to my collection, as I have always enjoyed a number Howie’s essays and letters, particularly when he waxed philosophical like this. His writing was marvelous intelligent, vibrant, moving, graceful, and captivating, and although there are certain topics upon which I can never agree with him, I have always found his manner of expression very much worth the reading, and at times even delightful.

    His conception of humankind was indeed somewhat pessimistic as regarded its abilities and limitations, and more than once he despaired for the greater human cause towards universal enlightenment and erudition, but what he considered intellectual individuals to be capable of was greater by far, and I think therein lay whatever dim hope he had for humanity as a whole.

    In my own journey towards atheism, I found his writings on the subject greatly illuminating and enjoyable reading, particularly when he sparred with Maurice W. Moe, who often spent a great deal of time trying to “save” Howie from his atheism. Howie in turn always held his own brilliantly and every time reduced Moe’s arguments to smithereens and, playfully, it often seemed to me, returned the effort, trying to “save” Moe from his Christianity. In fact, as near as I can tell, their entire friendship was founded on intellectual sparring with one another on various topics that arose in the world of amateur journalism that they shared, but religion was one of the most frequent. However, on another level altogether, I enjoyed the little “war” between them over Howie’s slighted New England R’s (his Rhode Island accent was plainly evident in some of his poetry) and Moe’s staunch Midwesternism that went on for years. The humor on Howie’s side throughout was positively sparkling.

    But, I’ve been through some pretty rough times as a result of my own eccentricities over the years, and partially due, I think, to a certain similarity between Howie’s cast of mind and my own in at least a significant portion of the relevant respects, I’ve always found him greatly comforting, if a bit strangely so by the lights of others. When the world seems a harsh and alien place, certain of his letters, and sometimes tales and poems have provided solace that before always eluded me. He is the foremost of my “Gods of Literature,” a term I have borrowed from him, and Poe (or Eddie, as Howie himself would sometimes call him in moments of whimsy) has even longer been a part of my literary pantheon, as well.

    There are a couple of my favorite things Howie has written on the subject of religion that I’d like to leave you with. The first: “If religion were true, its followers would not try to bludgeon their young into an artificial conformity; but would merely insist on their unbending quest for truth, irrespective of artificial backgrounds or practical consequences.”

    And the second: “Bunch together a group of people deliberately chosen for strong religious feelings, and you have a practical guarantee of dark morbidities expressed in crime, perversion, and insanity.”

    Against the tide of the Christian dogmatism that rages against that sense of a dying god, I feel that these things still ring true, and with a persistent primacy that will not yet admit of shelving them amongst the quaint discourses of a dead and bygone age.

  • VidLord

    JohnMWhite – JohnC ‘feels’ Jesus within him. You cannot fight the ‘feeling’ with reason. To battle feelings with reason is pointless. You might as well tell John that the color yellow tastes sweet. As a matter of fact he looks at you with immense pity – because you don’t feel as he does. If only you could experience his feeling! If you could feel what he feels deep within, then you would set aside this silly and pointless talk of evidence as it would instantly disappear as irrelevant.

    • John C

      Vid, ‘feeling’ is of the soulical, is emotional, not pure spirit. Feelings have nothing to do with it.

      • VidLord

        ‘soulical’ eh? had to look it up – not surprisingly i found a person who sounds eerily like you do. Kinda reminds me of your ‘soulish realm’ comment way back when.

        Simply stated, “soulical” refers to the area of man, whether fleshly or unfleshly, being lived by. “Soulish” refers to the person and his behavior, living in that area of his being. While soulish pertains to the person’ living, the word soulical pertains to the area of man’s being that is neither the spirit or the body.

        http://www3.telus.net/trbrooks/explanatory_soulical.htm

        • John C

          True, because man is a tri-partate being although most are even unaware of their own constitution.

          Take care Vid…

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  • Jus

    I believe in Jesus, and yet in this article I find myself siding with Mr.Lo more than Mr.Mo on most issues. My biggest problem is his sacrificing truth for pragmatic reasons.

    I think this is the opposite of the promise “seek, and you will find…”

  • Jus

    “Truth-hunger is a hunger just as real as food-hunger—it is equally strong if less explicable…”

    Yes!

    And I believe this is why Jesus gave the invitation:
    “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink….”

    It is the same invitation given by Isaiah:
    “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters;
    and you who have no money, come, buy and eat.
    Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread?
    And your labor for that which does not satisfy?”

    • Custador

      Truth… I do not think that word means what you think it means…

      • Jus

        Sorry if I didn’t make myself clear. I didn’t mean epistemology, scientific truth, Popper’s falsifiability, Kant’s categorial imperative, etc, etc.

        What I meant by those quotes is: truth as was discussed under the section heading “Absolute Truth”, truth encompassing all those truths, ultimate and absolute truth.

        I agree with Mr.Lo that… we have no grounds for acclaiming the preacher as vice-regent of some…conscious spirit for whose existence we have no other evidence.

        I disagree with Mr.Mo’s attitude that…. In the face of these phenomena, what does the nature of absolute, ultimate truth matter to you and me?

        Because I ask together with Mr.Lo…. can thinking men ever be satisfied with a truth short of the ultimate and absolute?… (Because I think the answer is NO.)

        Why is our truth-hunger there in the first place? Could it be because it was put in us, so that it could be satisfied? Could it be that the missing grounds for the vice-regent preacher is personal experience with the Living God?

        And he invites us all…

        “Come all you who are thirsty, come to the waters…”
        “I am the way, THE TRUTH, and the life…” — Jesus

        • LRA

          LOL! How can something count as truth when it is not verifiable? Jesus saying he’s the Truth is just silly. We can’t verify that, so it is just as effective as saying The Tao is the Truth.

          • yahweh

            The turkey sandwich I had for lunch today is the truth.

            • Ty

              Next time, bring enough truth to share. I’m hungry.

            • Jus

              Hahaha good one Ty, yahweh :)

              LRA, thanks for your reply :) I can see now that I’m still unclear. Sorry, I was trying to say…. could it be that the nature of this so-called ultimate and absolute truth is such that it has to be experienced personally?? And this is why Jesus is inviting all of us to a personal experience with him? and thus verifying (or nullifying) this so-called truth ourselves? This is why I specifically mentioned Karl Popper and falsifiability/verifiability, because I was aiming at “Absolute Truth”, truth encompassing all those other truths.

              What does it mean to come to Jesus and drink? Surely it doesn’t mean he’s going to give us a bottle of spring water?? He himself said, “Everyone who drinks of this water [from the well] will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

              When he says…. “I am the truth”…. could it be that he was referring to his other words? Like what he says regarding God’s word…. “your word is truth”?

              “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God”.

              “The name by which he is called is The Word of God”.

              “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us,…. full of grace and truth”.

              “I am the truth”.

              What does it mean to come to Jesus and eat? Surely he doesn’t mean the communion wafer? or a turkey sandwich? or even cannibalism? And yet he issues a challenge: Eat Me! and you will live…
              “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst”.
              “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life… For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink”.

              So there. That’s what I brought to share, hopefully it’s enough for some of you…
              Once you decide to try Jesus, you don’t stop being a thinking person. In fact, you think even harder. No you don’t stop having doubts, but you have even newer, deeper doubts now coming up as old ones are answered.
              At least this is my experience.

              I think, an open-minded person will not suddenly stop being open-minded once he chooses to become Christian. The difference is, he probably has more patience with his unanswered questions now, than before.
              Probably John C would also agree.

            • LRA

              Hm. Well, I experience Harry Potter when I read books about him, but I think we can agree that he is not real. Just because you have *personal feelings* about Jesus doesn’t make him real. Again, how can we *know* (in an epistemological sense) that Jesus is still around (or was ever around) when we have no way to *verify* that claim. And when I say verify, I mean in a variety of ways, taking into account what philosophers have said about it:

              http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/truth/

              Also, to assume I was never Christian and that I don’t know about “Christ-following” is silly. I was a Christian for at least a decade, but as I learned more and more about Christianity in an attempt to deepen my faith, I found it to me more and more illogical and disturbing. I asked hard questions that so-called leaders and apologists couldn’t answer, and finding myself increasingly frustrated, I finally gave up and left. It was the best and most rational thing I have ever done.

            • Jus

              Wow! I probably have gone through something similar. (I was a serious Christian for about 8 years before becoming atheist). And I totally agree, in that situation, to give up and leave is the best and most rational and honest thing we could do.

              Sorry, but I didn’t assume you were never a Christian. If you’ll notice, the invitation that he gives, he gives *to us all*, including Christians. You don’t “graduate” when you become Christians, the same way you don’t “graduate” when you become atheists. It’s a daily walk that we have to go through, daily battle that we have to fight.

              As to how to verify Jesus’ Truth, probably I approach it more from the coherence theory side.

              Yes there is no way to verify the fact that Jesus was alive, and was condemned to death, and was nailed to the cross, and died. There’s not even proof that the Bible we have is actually even the copy of the original. (Bart Ehrman, Karen Armstrong, etc)

              What I have found, from studying the Bible, is that it is amazingly coherent internally. Unlike the Qur’an, which is an exact copy of one in heaven, the Bible contains many human failings in it. It has been changed, by mistakes, accidents, even might be intentional changes according to the agenda of the ruling power at the time. But somehow, when it was finally formed into a book, there were so many prophecies in it that came true in Christ.

              At first I thought, ahhh people could change that and make it consistent with the rest of the book. But after studying more and more, I see more and more it is impossible to make these things up. Yes there are weird inconsistencies, but the consistency is much much more than the weird things.

              “…for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
              My first approach to God was based more on *believing he exists* part, and disregarded *believing he rewards* part. But now I have found that believing that he truly rewards part is *as important* as believing that he exists part.

              “…Seek, and you will find…”

            • JohnMWhite

              I’d like to know what prophecies came true in Christ, please.

            • Jus

              I’ll give a few common ones and a couple not so common ones that I know. Remember, any of these prophecies can happen to anybody. The shocking thing is, *all* of these happened to Jesus. (and this list is far from exhaustive)

              Common ones: (more “factual”)
              1. He is a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob….
              “In your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed”

              ….descendant of Judah son of Jacob….
              “The scepter shall not depart from Judah”

              ….*Son of David*…..
              “I will raise up for David a righteous Branch

              2. He is born by a virgin.
              “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son

              3. He is born in Bethlehem.
              “But you, O Bethlehem… from you shall come forth… one who is to be ruler in Israel”

              4. He is preceded by a “messenger”.
              “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me”

              5. His ministry in Galilee.
              “Galilee of the gentiles… have seen a great light

              6. He heals the afflicted.
              “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped”

              7. He enters Jerusalem on a donkey.
              “Behold, your king is coming to you… humble and mounted on a donkey”

              8. He is betrayed by a friend.
              “Even my close friend… has lifted his heel against me”

              9. He is sold for 30 pieces of silver, betrayal money thrown in Temple.
              “They weighed out as my wages thirty pieces of silver”

              10. He is forsaken by his disciples.
              “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered”

              11. He is rejected.
              “He was despised, and we esteemed him not”

              12. He is accused by false witnesses.
              “False witnesses have risen against me, and they breathe out violence

              13. He is silent before his accusers.
              “Like a lamb that is led to slaughter… is silent”

              14. He is beaten and mocked.
              “I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting”

              15. He is pierced hands and feet.
              “They have pierced my hands and feet”

              16. He is crucified with law-breakers.
              “He… was numbered with the transgressors”

              17. People gamble for his clothes.
              “They divide my garments among them”

              18. He is buried with the rich.
              “They made his grave… with a rich man in his death”

              19. He is resurrected from the dead.
              “You will not abandon my soul to She’ol”

              Not so common ones: (more “personal”/”meditational”)
              A. The slaughter of the lamb.
              When Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac, the son asked his dad, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” And Abraham replied, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son”….
              Did God provide a substitute? Yes he did provide a ram. But is that the end of the story?
              ….”Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” says John the Baptist when he saw Jesus.
              The passover celebration also paints a very vivid picture: the slaughter of the perfect lamb, without blemish.
              Here is one interpretation that I think is pretty cool:
              http://rabbiyeshua.com/articles/2001/pesach.html

              B. Son of David will build the LORD’s house.
              “…the LORD will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son…”
              Who is this *Son of David*? Is it Solomon?
              Yes Solomon build the first temple, but is that the end of the story?

            • Bender

              @Jus:
              Besides the fact that some of those are so vague they are meaningless, others are absurd (“he enters Jerusalem in a donkey”, apparently he decided not to use the helicopter), it never occurred to you that the authors of the gospels knew about those “prophecies” and could easily falsify Jesus’ biography to make it fit?

            • Jus

              @Bender: You have brought up some very interesting points.
              Actually yes it has occurred to me that they could have reported something that’s not true. In fact, there are at least 2 other possible sources for untruth: witness/origin (eyewitness, secondhand, etc) and scribes/copiers of manuscript. And in places like this donkey incident, even Jesus himself could be the source of untruth/lying, because he himself is an expert of the Law/Prophecies. If you read the story, it was he *himself* who told the disciples to fetch the donkey, so that he could sit on it.
              Isn’t this like…. cheating?? :) And why would the gospel writer include this fact in the story??

              When we bring in this dimension of intentionality, we double the size of our truth table. We have Jesus, the witnesses (times how many levels removed they are from the event), the writers, the copiers, and any/all of them could be intentionally making up stuff, or accidentally propagating untruths, etc. And out of these *myriads* of combinations, only *one* case really matters to us: when everybody is telling the truth “the best they can”.

              Though when I think about intentional falsification, one question keeps coming up that I can’t really find a plausible answer for: why?
              Why would people falsify a story about a guy who was a great teacher and miracle worker, who claimed to be haMashiach (The Anointed One/Messiah/Christ), who was condemned to death by Jewish priests/leaders, delivered over to gentiles, flogged,
              crucified, and died?

              Also, who would know the most about these ancient Jewish prophecies anyway? Probably Jewish scribes & teachers? How come they didn’t believe/accept Jesus, if he so fulfilled the prophecies?

              “…some of the people said, “This really is the Prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.”
              But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?”…”
              (Too bad they didn’t come to him themselves to find out… because he himself invited them to come)
              “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”

              (Actually, some of them did… “Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him,
              but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it,
              so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.”

              Another point: Why so vague? Why isn’t it clearer? Why it seems somebody is trying to hide something? There are many possible answers. One possibility could be directly tied to the other point: it’s *because* they want to falsify the truth, therefore they need to stay as vague as possible. If it’s too clear, then people would have a chance to refute their report, and nobody will believe it.
              Another possible answer is…. could it be that God himself is the one who’s hiding it?

              “…Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given
              to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given”…”

              Is this why it is “like a hidden treasure“??

  • Pingback: Excerpt of "Against Religion" by Lovecraft, Joshi, and Hitchens Now Online | Lady Lovecraft's Blog

  • Redskin

    A lot of good atheism did for Lovecraft. He died bitterly death at an early age from cancer.

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

      Sorry, one second: Are you implying that the two are somehow connected?! Or that a religious faith might have somehow cured his cancer?! Damn, and you people wonder why we treat you like intellectual peons!

    • Sunny Day

      You’re confusing his magnificent transformation into a servant of the Old Ones with cancer.

  • Mr.Notyou

    Alright, so from what I understand in the comments is that faith is for the stupid and atheism is logical. Which surprises me to hear, because the very concept of science lays itself in the arms of faith. Perhaps not a religious faith but still faith, when one makes use of postulates one must have faith that their concept of it is true. Take quantum mechanics Einstein spent a portion of his life trying to disprove the possibility of something truly random, pretty sure you’re all familiar with his line “God does not play dice!”. Now we know that Einstein was wrong on that matter, but that still didn’t stop him from trying to give that ‘faith’ to others or try and get them to believe it. I feel that’s a good enough example for right now. Religion follows the same concepts of having faith in something being true, even if necessarily you can’t put your physical hands on it. Now some people (this includes atheists as well as the religious) refuse to accept or even consider other ideas, but I refer back to the Einstein example for this. Now we can argue forever and ever about what religion(or lack there of) is ‘right’ but I’m here to discuss why its just ridiculous to mock or dismiss others beliefs. Alright I’m not blind I can see most of you have your fair number of you have thoughts dismissing religion, and they can be very good points. That doesn’t mean you’re right and even if your answer is ‘logical’. A little note is that Socrates (Essentially the founder of modern day philosophy and logic) was accused of being an atheist, however he proclaimed that he truly was spiritual but simply did not believed in the same pantheon as the city he lived in. Now Socrates is pretty well regarded as a wise man, even by modern standards his wisdom shines, and evidence shows that he was a theist. Alright this has gone on long enough I’ll regret posting this sometime in the future. Well I suppose while I’m here I’ll give a TLDR version to make things concise;
    1. Facts are founded upon faith
    2. Dismissing others beliefs is obnoxious weather you are of a religion or not.
    3. Intelligent people have believed in theism
    4. Can we stop hating each other?
    5. Woot! Socrates
    6.In hindsight I wish I didn’t write this.
    7. Have a good day.