Is Life Absurd Without God? A Reply to WLC’s Influential Article.

Is Life Absurd Without God? A Reply to WLC’s Influential Article. May 7, 2019

I recently wrote about an atheist who gushed about the irresistibly incisive philosophical arguments of Christian apologist William Lane Craig (WLC). He signed his letter to Craig, “Your biggest atheist fan.” This atheist said that Craig’s essay “The Absurdity of Life without God” kept him awake at night because it “completely shattered my worldview.” We’d better take a look at this life-changing essay.

(The full essay is in Craig’s Reasonable Faith (2008), and I’m guessing this isn’t much changed from the 1984 first edition. The version I’m responding to is online and a little shorter.)

The foundation of the problem

Craig begins by recounting how he first learned as a child that life is finite. He said, “I was filled with fear and unbearable sadness.” That his own death was far in the future did nothing to allay the problem. Whether his death was hours or decades away didn’t matter—it was eternity or nothing.

Here Craig tips his hand. His life’s work has been dedicated to resolving that little boy’s fear of death. He might’ve confronted the problem of death by being a doctor or cancer researcher. He might’ve explored religion and spirituality as a skeptic to see if any discipline offered tangible truth about the afterlife. But he has made clear that following the evidence where it leads isn’t his goal.

And following the evidence is certainly not what he’s doing in this essay. He finds no ultimate meaning, value, or purpose in atheism (I agree—atheists just find regular meaning, value, and purpose) and then flails about as if we can do something about that. It’s like wishing that 2 + 2 = 9 and then spending your entire life concocting a justification for your new view of arithmetic.

How does reality work?

WLC whispers truths about reality as if his dreadful realizations may not be expressed in polite company.

“My life is just a momentary transition out of oblivion into oblivion. . . . This thought is staggering and threatening: to think that the person I call ‘myself’ will cease to exist, that I will be no more!” (Well, yeah. Your life and death are not really that big a deal. Welcome to reality. Neil DeGrasse Tyson observed, “If you are depressed after being exposed to the cosmic perspective, you started your day with an unjustifiably large ego.”)

“And the universe, too, faces death.… As it [expands], it grows colder and colder, and its energy is used up. Eventually all the stars will burn out and all matter will collapse into dead stars and black holes.” (You’re seriously anxious about the fact that there will be no more stars in 100 trillion years? No one but you loses sleep over this.)

“Mankind is thus no more [ultimately] significant than a swarm of mosquitos or a barnyard of pigs. . . . Man and the universe are without ultimate significance.” (Yeah. Get over it.)

And again we have the perspective of the young boy shocked by these realizations for the first time. This is a boy growing up in America, smart enough to do well in school and build a career. This is a boy granted the luxury to fret about existential issues like eternity, the eventual death of the universe, and Mankind’s lack of ultimate significance. Sounds like someone has #FirstWorldProblems. Sounds like someone needs a hug.

Contrast these concerns at the top of Maslow’s pyramid with Third World issues. Consider a child with real problems—orphaned by a tsunami in Haiti, forced to serve as a soldier in the Congo or a sex slave in India, or dying of malaria in Niger. WLC’s handwringing about the eventual death of the universe doesn’t amount to much by comparison.

Let’s return to his central point, “This thought is staggering and threatening: to think that the person I call ‘myself’ will cease to exist, that I will be no more!” He’s fretting about how a billion years from now, without Christianity’s promise of an afterlife, no one would care whether he had existed or not (which, apparently, is enough evidence of the afterlife for him).

But what does this approach imply? He could save his own relatives from such an oblivion by learning about and celebrating their lives. He could share anecdotes from his genealogical research with family members so that great-great-great-grandma would live on. But unless he’s forgotten to share the importance of this crucial hobby with his readers, he doesn’t care. Apparently, the goal isn’t to help mankind live on but to help him live on. (h/t commenter MR)

An elementary error

Another category of concern is with the meaning of life. Read these quotes and see if you have the same objection I do.

This is reality in a universe without God: there is no hope; there is no purpose.

Life is utterly without reason.

If God does not exist, then you are just a miscarriage of nature, thrust into a purposeless universe to live a purposeless life.

In a universe without God, good and evil do not exist.

No, what you mean to say is that there is no ultimate hope, purpose, reason, good, or evil. People find plenty of the ordinary kind. Look up those words in the dictionary—they don’t need any transcendental or absolute grounding.

It’s not that Craig doesn’t understand the issue. For example, he asks, “[A person’s life] may be important relative to certain other events, but what is the ultimate significance of any of those events?” Here, he contrasts importance from the standpoint of that person with ultimate importance—not a difficult distinction to make. But in dozens of other instances, as in the quotes above, he conflates the two ideas. You’d think someone with two doctorates would write more carefully.

Here’s an example where he conflates the two in the very same sentence: “If God does not exist, then life is objectively meaningless; but man cannot live consistently and happily knowing that life is meaningless” (emphasis added). It’s hard to imagine how this confusion has survived in this essay since he wrote it three decades ago. He’s either a sloppy writer, or he intends to deliberately mislead the reader.

In part 2: WLC’s essay has a number of points that need responses.

Somebody is looking out for me,
keeping track of what I think about things, forgiving me . . .
I believe they know everything I’ve said and done
and they still love me.

And, I’ve concluded after careful observation
that the person keeping score is me.

— Adam Savage

.

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 4/16/15.)

Image from Elijah O’Donnell, CC license

.

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  • Lex Lata

    As a fellow schlub briefly treading this ball of turf and puddles, I actually sympathize with part of what Craig is saying here. I get the existential yearning for more, for transcendent meaning, for some sort of, well, ascension and/or salvation. And truth be told, I also experience periodic ambient anxiety about the Big Oblivion Nap Awaiting Us All.

    But our insecurities and dissatisfaction and desires are nowhownoway evidence for the existence of souls, spirits, an afterlife, or deities generally–much less a specific guardian-father-son-ghost-savior. Our feelings are motives for forming or holding transcendent beliefs, not support for the truth of such beliefs. They are utterly human, and utterly irrelevant to a mindless and mind-boggling universe, which has exactly zero obligation to conform to our wishes.

    To contend otherwise is to rely on an argument from consequences, to indulge in wishful thinking, and, ultimately, to seek relief from the mundane, from our suffering and fears and failures and guilt, in a form of escapism.

    • As a kid, I’d toy with the fear of winding up in hell, and oblivion always sounded far better, so maybe that’s why I never felt that.

      I don’t appreciate WLC declaring that all atheists must be in denial or that the lack of objective morality is some terrible worldview flaw.

      • Anat

        I learned that life was finite from fairy tales – you know, all those stories about orphans. I accepted it as just another fact about the universe. Then I came across claims that mysterious, possibly really bad, stuff supposedly could happen to you after death. That scared and depressed me, until I realized religions as we know them are likely made-up stories. And death became a non-issue once more.

      • Adam “Giauz” Birkholtz

        I never had a problem with me going to hell. I always believed I deserved to go there. Can you tell I have chronic depression?

    • MR

      So many of us are spoon fed that expectation from before we can think for ourselves. It can come as quite a shock when you consider it might not be true. Some people continue to cling to the belief even when they let go of God belief. I experienced a brief disorientation, myself, but quickly got over it. It’s what I call: growing up.

      • We might say that religion is more “force fed” than “spoon fed”, but the thing is, since indoctrination occurs BEFORE people have acquired critical thinking skills–that is, as young children–they tend to gobble it up. Either way, the effect is the same.

        Some have said that filling a child’s mind with stories-as-fact before they can think critically is a form of child abuse. Makes sense to me.

        • MR

          I guess I’d be a little more charitable, but I agree, it is problematic.

    • It’s astonishing just how many people seem to think that a simple appeal to consequences is valid. They will say things like “An afterlife must exist, because 70 years isn’t enough”. I’m sorry, but that will never follow. Not that I’m always unsympathetic (the woman who said this had lost her father at 70). My sympathy though will not change it.

      • Kuno

        I once had a discussion about the afterlife with a few co-workers (a muslim, a self-proclaimed “lapsed” Catholic and a member of the New Apostolic Church and me as atheist. After the sentence “But there has to be something after death.” I realized the discussionn wouldn’t go anywhere. Especially as the one who said it had recently lost her grandmother.

        • Yes, it’s very common. Most people simply do not seem to care if they have true beliefs, just so long as they’re comforting. I was like that myself before learning to be more a critical thinker (I’m not perfect, of course). It’s not helped by our culture, as it actively supports this and discourages debate.

    • Same here. As much as I try to rationalize it thinking among other things on the sheer size of just the observable Universe -not to mention if others existed-, nonexistence cannot be perceived, nor that it’s the equivalent of a black hole sucking someone, the words “oblivion” and “death” still scare me.

  • skl

    No, what you mean to say is that there is
    no ultimate hope, purpose, reason, good, or evil. People find plenty
    of the ordinary kind.

    In other words, ‘Your ordinary hopes and purposes are ultimately hopeless and purposeless.’

    To be expected, given that mankind and its musings will
    stretch over less than 0.004% of the history of the universe.

    • Are you making a point?

      • skl

        Clear as can be.
        Maybe even more so, as I’ve just now added italics.

        • Michael Neville

          Like your fellow Christian WLC you fear being irrelevant. Unfortunately, the universe, being non-sentient, doesn’t care about your wants, concerns and fears. You are irrelevant and your wishful thinking about spending eternity singing hymns at a narcissistic megalomaniac isn’t going to increase your relevancy in any way.

        • skl

          … the universe, being non-sentient, doesn’t care about your wants, concerns and fears. You are irrelevant…

        • Michael Neville

          Hey, everyone, skl has finally mastered <blockquote>. Our child is starting to grow up.

        • Greg G.

          He was quite proud of himself when he figured out how to use italics.

        • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

          I guess it helps that Disqus finally put the buttons in the comment boxes.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          &ltsnerk&gt

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          If I may say, it’s only clear if one accepts your presuppositions.

          Would you be so good as to list them, at least the major ones?

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      But it’s all we know, and it’s still possible to live a full and satisfying life without ultimate purpose.

    • zenmite

      In other words, ‘Your ordinary hopes and purposes are ultimately hopeless and purposeless.’

      This is simply your own judgement and projection. This ‘ultimate’ that you speak of is a product of your own hopes, fears and imagination. It requires that reality must be building toward some endpoint or grand finale. Coincidentally, just what your religion tells you. Hope and purpose are relative terms that have meaning within ‘this’ life. Good and bad have relative meaning in this life. Our minds mislead us into thinking that because a liittle bit of something is good, a lot must be better. (think drinking alcohol or eating too much). And so we invent the idea of absolute good, ultimate purpose, figuring these must be infinitely better. Just because we can imagine something, does not mean it is real. It’s rather like imagining ‘Ultimate North” or Absolute sweetness. These are relative terms that apply only to things within reality. To apply them to reality as a whole is to make a category mistake.

      • skl

        Well, given that you would agree that what you just said is not absolute truth, I’ll dismiss it as just your own subjective judgement and projection.

        • Dus10

          Are you saying that we can’t come to an agreement on something unless we agree on the extremes? We can’t agree that honey is sweet unless it is the sweetest thing ever?

        • skl

          Are you saying that we can’t come to an
          agreement on something unless we agree on the extremes?

          No, I’m not.

          Of course we can come to agreements, agreements of, as Bob said, “the ordinary kind”.

          In fact, I’m agreeing with Bob in my saying
          “In other words, ‘Your ordinary hopes and purposes are ultimately hopeless and purposeless.’”

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Then demonstrate this ‘ultimate’ you natter on about has any existence outside imagination.

        • Dus10

          But in so doing you are focusing on ultimate to scorn ordinary. You are focusing on destination rather than the journey. You are saying the journey doesn’t matter when the people involved are saying the journey matters to them. You come off as condescending by saying the journey should not matter because you think you know better.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          I think “the end justifies the means” is also implicit in skl’s worldview?

        • Greg G.

          You come off as condescending by saying the journey should not matter because you think you know better.

          skl must make the best of the rare opportunity to condescend.

        • Dus10

          It’s not really condesending once you consider the source. Putting my fundy hat on: skl’s sin is pride and having a “haughty spirit”

        • skl

          But in so doing you are focusing on
          ultimate to scorn ordinary.

          I’m not scorning the ordinary. I’m merely putting it in the full context
          of reality.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          I’m not scorning the ordinary. I’m merely putting it in the full context
          of reality.

          NOT until you can demonstrate your ‘wider context’ exists outside your head.

        • se habla espol

          You’re omitting a major portion of reality for this discussion. Here, let me fix it for you:

          But in so doing you are focusing on a nonexistent

          ultimate to scorn the actual ordinary.

        • zenmite

          Maybe. But unless you honestly and fearlessly examine your own thoughts and views to see if any of what I said might be true for you, what value is there in either accepting or dismissing what anyone claims? If you can find any absolute good, evil, north or purpose outside of your own imagination, point to them.

        • skl

          Again, dismissed.

        • se habla espol

          Yes, you are dismissed.

        • se habla espol

          prety much the same way we get to dismiss your subjective judgements and projections, especially whn you arrogantly procleim them as Absolute Truth™.

    • Rudy R

      Why ought we have hope and purpose?

      • Kodie

        I’ll tell you it’s because it gives us a reason to wake up every day. Having children primarily, and jobs, secondarily*, gives us obligation that we are encouraged to establish so we dependably exist day to day, year to year, etc.

        *Jobs can suck anyway, but having children forces us to “grow up” and put up with terrible conditions, terrible bosses, etc., so they can eat. Grow up means suck it up, do anything you could not previously have ever imagined you’d put up with. Bosses should be more grateful to employ parents, because they will not up and quit on the first negative review. Maybe soulless jobs contribute to divorce more than society acknowledges. If you can employ someone just well enough conditions to keep them from the ledge, because they are a divorced parent who is conditioned that 40s is too late to change course, and just put up with the cage of the rest of their life, you win.

        Oh, why ought we have hope and purpose? We don’t have to. It’s a thing people try to encourage everyone else to have. It’s like posting inspirational memes on facebook so your “friends” don’t off themselves, because that means you don’t have fewer friends.

        • Greg G.

          *Jobs can suck anyway, but having children forces us to “grow up” and put up with terrible conditions, terrible bosses, etc., so they can eat. Grow up means suck it up, do anything you could not previously have ever imagined you’d put up with.

          That settles it. I ain’t never gonna grow up.

        • Kodie

          Me neither!

        • Rudy R

          Your reason is just as valid as the other 8 billion human inhabitants on earth.

          I was just having a bit of fun with skl on the is/ought problem, because it doesn’t buttress the Christian worldview. He used to be an armchair philosopher, but he gave up that method to prove the Catholic god, because he found that particular system of thought was a failure for legitimizing his faith. Now he just renders his belief solely on faith.

          Atheist conversation with WLC
          WLC: God gives us purpose
          Atheist: why ought we have purpose?
          WLC: so life is not absurd
          Atheist: why ought life not be absurd?
          WLC: so life will have meaning
          Atheist: why ought life have meaning?
          WLC: we can’t live happily without meaning?
          Atheist: why ought we be happy?
          WLC: we ought not be happy. The chief purpose of life is not happiness, but the knowledge of God.
          Atheist: so life can indeed be absurd and have no meaning, as long as we have knowledge of God. So our purpose is to have knowledge of God
          WLC: yes
          Theist: why ought we have knowledge of God?

          At this point, enter rabbit hole.

        • Greg G.

          If we ought to have knowledge of an omnipotent thingy, why do we not have knowledge of omnipotent thingies?

        • Kodie

          I don’t really have a purpose. Like (I think) most people, I have a lot of things I’d rather be doing, and just as many real and imaginary excuses why I’m not able to do them. (I think) most people live a “someday” kind of life, and that’s where heaven and god fits in. It’s not without reason that most pop culture renditions of heaven look like a fantasy leisure village.

          It’s not just poor people with no options, but wealthier people with a lot of obligations, but also plenty of time to take vacations, plenty of money to hire labor to clean, garden, etc., or why there’s a trend for younger people to work and save extra-super-hard so they can afford to retire while they’re young enough to enjoy the rest of their lives. Retire from working at 65 or 70 or even later, the usual, it is implied that you have used up your capacity to be productive. You might be alive for another 30 years or more, but the idea of retirement pretty close to when you’re going to die anyway, so companies can use you to the last drop, and leave no energy to enjoy retirement to the fullest.

          Most likely had children, and that saps not just a lot of extra energy in driving them to activities and doing their laundry and making sure they always have new clothes and shoes and enough food to eat, but the draining amount of worry over their welfare, that anything can happen to them, that they don’t know how to navigate the world without your guidance, and you might not even be that good at it, and they ignore a lot of your advice and there’s nothing you can do about it, and you think you can stop worrying if they choose a lucrative career and a nice mate to settle down with. Spoiled rich kids are handicapped from knowing what it feels like to need basics, and often pressured to enter careers that might suck their soul because status and prestige are required to be in their value systems.

          I’m just saying there are poor problems and rich have many of the same problems that we don’t really want to credit them with, especially if they outsource a lot of the labor of parenting and housework, but they can hate their job too, and feel trapped by needing to keep up with their obligations and think what they need to do for their children’s best chances in life.

          It’s very lucky to like what you make enough money doing so much you might even do it for free if you had your needs met, that you’d be so bored in retirement that you’d return to it, or that your version of pop culture heaven would include the option to continue doing it. Of course, some people just love making money, so they learn some way to be good at it, that’s fun, like gambling almost, seeing how much money you can get out of a customer, how much upselling, how many clients you can get, etc., so maybe salespeople just go to hell.

      • Sample1

        Why ought we have hoop and porpoise?

        Deep metafishics. Cod exists.

        Mike, eEeEeEeEeEeEe

        • Greg G.

          My response: Groans and whales.

        • MR

          Pun runs are no longer allowed. They will be issuing cetaceans to all offenders.

        • Greg G.

          I often blow hole paychecks on the fines.

        • Kodie

          Seek help.

        • Jeremy Klein

          We might disagree on God, but I’ll give you this one. Amazingly funny comment.

          Also, I hope you haven’t become a MALIGNANTLY USELESS living puppet by now. 😉

        • Sample1

          Heh…

          I’m half done with the book. For others here, it’s, The Conspiracy Against The Human Race by Ligotti. Too sunny outside to read right now, will finish by tomorrow.

          It has yet to strike any existential crises for me as an atheist/naturalist perhaps that’s because many of the ideas/contemplations aren’t new. I do wonder if he had a particular audience in mind. I will say this, many of the themes he touches on have been used in theist forums against atheism (always a mistake because atheism isn’t a world view, it’s a null hypothesis position and that’s it). The book almost seems spoofish,…as if he’s an anti-naturalist theist in disguise!

          *Mini-Spoiler Alert* The core of his starting point and ensuing thesis is a demarcation line between pre-conscious hominids and us and, for him, the terrible baggage that the subsequent knowledge of suffering, theory of mind, has brought to our species. I actually thought he wrote quite movingly about that evolution. Beautiful even. From there he takes off into an admittedly allowable and pessimistic direction. He’s allowed to.

          So far, one thought has stayed with me while reading this book that keeps his thesis from really sticking. I’d put it like this: one good principle can ameliorate a thousand gruesome facts. Don’t want to give too much away but he has picked a single giant cherry from our evolutionary past to base his work on. It’s a juicy one but he’s left a lot of cherries behind. He has to.

          That said, still have a hundred or so pages to go. Personally, so far, Benatar has a cleaner approach with anti-natalism than Ligotti does with pro-mortalism. I still reject both. And I think they can be rejected soundly by doing what they do: offering world-views of our own. That’s not to say one has to ignore pessimistic facts they bring up. I would simply place more value in optimistic guiding principles. If he can make a judgment about existence claim, why can’t I? Why can’t you?

          Maybe this book scares people. My guess is though that it scares those who have never thought about these subjects before or haven’t thought about them much. I can definitely see believers freaking out, using his facts to make war against naturalism. It’s a contrived war though. Doesn’t help anything. To be continued.

          Mike, undead and still optimistic

        • Jeremy Klein

          Well, as my atheist friend from college said to me when I told him about the book: “Of course it’s scary. He’s a horror writer.”

          He’s not a philosopher by trade. He’s writing for a very specific kind of person who likely already enjoys his books and is sympathetic to his philosophy. Perhaps Benatar is among this group, seeing as antinatalists aren’t exactly popular

          Honestly, your reaction to the book and our conversation in general- so down to earth, and so enthusiastically written- has changed my perspective on anti-natalism’s relationship to atheism. Your optimism is truly moving, and I’m glad to say you’ve enriched my feeling that theists and atheists can work together to make the world a better place.

          I appreciate our conversations.

        • Sample1

          Hell, atheists and theists have to get along. We can disagree with what we think about reality but all of us belong to society and are responsible for keeping it peaceful today. Neither of our camps are going to eliminate each other in our lifetimes. And we may not want to eliminate each other. I’m no fan of religion and I can understand when people say they are no fans of naturalism. Both come with world views that we contemplate in the quiet of our minds but in the noisy world, we all work and play together. Usually just fine I might add.

          Of course I’m not meaning to gloss over the political aspects of either that do regulate or try to regulate our behaviors. It seems to me that our species has figured out two ways to regulate human behavior: religion and government. The Founders were so remarkable, for their time, to seek a third way: government for the people and by the people allowing a multiplicity of private world views to find breathing room. It’s not perfect, of course. But it’s damn better than a thousand years ago or 3000.

          Christianity as a philosophy could be made more attractive as probably any religion can, there is a lot of baggage to work through. The supernatural components just aren’t compelling anymore. I don’t know what is coming next, but we aren’t going to stop it. People change and with them, their cultures. Any monkey can point to the messiness out there, it sells headlines, but for most, I’d conjecture, the free time they have to criticize what is bad is possible only or at least in part, because there is so much good to allow the time in the first place! We’ve escaped the peasant drudgery of our ancestors. Many haven’t and that’s tragic.

          Unfortunately that good space doesn’t sell headlines. I’m just speaking off the cuff, I’m sure there are some here who are shaking their fingers at me for being a bit simplistic in my musings. And so, I’ll say that there are still serious problems that organized religion isn’t helping with. 🙂

          I like paradoxes and philosophical conundrums, that’s probably why I was eager to read Benatar and Ligotti. I’m appreciative of their efforts even if I disagree with them.

          If there is something I’d like more people to appreciate it’s knowing that our species has a special relationship with the laws of nature unlike any other. It’s mind boggling and awe inspiring to think about that. But it also takes discipline as it’s easy to jump from recognizing the mind boggling aspects of existence to then ignoring them (because it “hurts our heads”) or becoming destructively nihilistic. Finding that sweet spot and sharing it with others is, I suppose, a kind of great commission for naturalists. And it doesn’t have to eliminate the religious experience any more than it has to dominate reality with a supernatural-free outlook. That’s up to each person and how they want to be in relationship to the ultimate free lunch: existence.

          Good talking with you too. Hope you find your bliss with your venture to Orthodoxy. Don’t be surprised if you find future posts of mine being less accommodating to religion in general. But do call me out if I unjustly attack people rather than their ideas. 🙂

          Mike, undead and optimistic.
          Edit done.

  • Damien Priestly

    The arrogance and ignorance of these apologists…they advertise a single purpose for life — fairly described as worshiping a dictatorial deity. Yet they cannot recognize somebody could have multiple self-conceived purposes…even many purposes, if desired.

    I don’t actually think that WLC and other apologists that have at least a modicum of education actually believe their own nonsense. They are just too invested in their own rationalizations too change now.

    Hitchens said that Billy Graham and Charles Templeton admitted as much…it was too late to change out of their con-job. They died as frauds,

    • Michael Neville

      Possibly WLC is driven by fear of death and wishful thinking. If the magic sky pixie doesn’t schlup Ol’ Lane Craig up to Heaven where he’ll live forever, then he’ll die and in a hundred years he might be a minor footnote in some book. In a thousand years he won’t even be that. That gives WLC the collywobbles.

      Fame is fleeting but obscurity is forever. –Napoleon

      • That gives WLC the collywobbles.

        Christianity infantilizes.

        • Michael Neville

          The church doesn’t like for people to grow up because you can’t control grown-ups. — John Shelby Spong

  • Otto No Collusion Goat

    Life is absurd without or with God.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      one capital letter aside, I agree wholeheartedly with you.

    • epicurus

      Totally!

    • David Peebles

      Can’t agree. If god exists, nothing makes sense/is absurd. But without god, everything makes sense.

      Example: with god, if a landslide crushes you and your family, why did god allow that? Makes no sense.

      But without god: you built at the bottom of an unstable slope, and ignored the imperatives of gravity. You made a blunder, but the event is not absurd except for your own part in it.

      And it bothers me that people are so willing, even eager, to make excuses for the carelessness, capriciousness, and sometimes malice of god. I think we should call them on it.

  • I Came To Bring The Paine

    From now on I shall refer to WLC as “Slippin’ Willy”. He reminds me of
    the Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman character of the Breaking Bad spin off Better Call Saul.

  • Dan Barker

    I write about this — especially about Craig’s view of “ultimate meaning” — in my book Life Driven Purpose. We should not want our lives to be ultimately meaningful. That would cheapen our lives, making us salves or servants in a top-down system. Our lives are IMMEDIATELY meaningful, bottom-up, as we strive to solve the problems that confront us in our daily lives and in the real world.

    • sandy

      Keep up the good work Dan. I’m a big fan and enjoy all your books!

    • Greg G.

      That is a good point. If the meaning of life is a trickle down process, we are all essentially meaningless peons.

      This is the first time I have interacted with someone on this forum that I have knowingly met IRL. I met you when you gave a talk at Cleveland State University a few years ago. But when I say “a few years ago”, keep in mind that 2005 seems like it was a minute ago.

    • Joseph Patterson

      Yes ultimate purposes gives us temporary life applications like “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple”. “And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell,

    • Thanks for the note. One commenter recently passed along this link (“Six reasons why objective morality is nonsense”), which makes a similar point, that objective morality would not be a good thing.

      https://coelsblog.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/six-reasons-why-objective-morality-is-nonsense/

      • Rudy R

        Great article countering the contention from a theist worldview that we ought to prefer objective morality over subjective morality. Because objectivity is a judgement that is not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts, it is essentially a presupposition that we ought to prefer objectivity over subjectivity. But that is not necessarily the case in all judgements, which would include morality, even given a theistic worldview. For example, all minds bounded to this physical universe could believe slavery is wrong, but the one mind that is not bounded to this universe (god) could believe slavery is good. Even though the god has established an objective moral, slavery is good, does not necessarily conclude that the bounded minds ought to prefer the objective moral over the subject moral. On the contrary, because all the bounded minds judge slavery as immoral, they ought to prefer the subjective morality over the subjective. From a practical perspective, the subjective judgment is more likely to succeed in terms of human flourishing than the objective judgment. So objectivity is not always necessarily the logical position to take, in terms of making judgments.

        • WLC and similar evangelicals like to say, “But you can’t say slavery is really wrong!!”

          But what if God’s objective morality says that slavery is right? God’s ways are not our ways, doncha know. Then they can’t say that slavery is really wrong, either!

          “Objective morality” to them is simply “what we all feel deep down,” but that’s not how they actually define it.

    • Chuck Johnson

      The ultimate meaning of our lives is surviving and evolving.
      Evolutionary biology shows us that this is the ultimate meaning for all living things.

      But such evolutionary meaning does not give precedence to any God or to any politician. It gives precedence to ALL strategies that promote survival and promote evolution.

      This is a feature of the abiogenesis creation story.
      It predates the Genesis creation story by billions of years.

      • MR

        Eh? That sounds like meaningless deepities. You’re applying agency where there is none.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Eh? That sounds like meaningless deepities. You’re applying agency where there is none.

          Biological evolution advances by the combined agency of mutation and selection pressure.

        • Susan

          Biological evolution advances by the combined agency of mutation and selection pressure.

          Depending on what you mean by “advances” and “agency”.

          Anyway, there is nothing ultimate about it.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Advances means moving towards better ways of surviving and evolving.

          Agency the means ability to accomplish something or to be effective.

          For billions of years, mutation and selection pressure were effective despite the fact that they worked blindly and had no brainpower.

          Once animals developed brains, the forces of mutation and selection pressure had the additional agency of brainpower.

          Genetic adaptive evolution was then joined by cultural adaptive evolution.

        • MR

          Accomplish implies intent. Evolutionary processes have no intent. It’s nonsensical.

        • epeeist

          You will have some difficulty with this, Chuck knows much more about science than anyone here while you know nothing about the subject as he will no doubt inform you in due course.

        • MR

          Are you saying evolutionary processes are an agent with intent? I’ve always had issue with the way we frame how we talk about evolution, anyway. Evolution “directs,” evolution “guides,” evolution “promotes….” I kind of get it, it’s a shortcut way to describe a difficult to explain process, but that’s not what is really happening.

          But, once we start talking about meaning and purpose, well, there’s no active agent with will and intent at work at that level to derive meaning or to have a purpose unless we’re talking about God again. It’s just so much mental masturbation and Deepak Chopra deepities.

        • epeeist

          Are you saying evolutionary processes are an agent with intent?

          Err, wut? I think you may be replying to the wrong person here. I have as much problem with teleology not being part of evolution as I have with some quantum processes not being causal. It is Chuck that has difficulty with both of these.

        • MR

          Sorry, epeeist, of course I know that. I wasn’t asking you so much as expressing faux-surprise, “Shocked, shocked I tell you!” There was a nod and a wink in there, but it got lost in the internets. And then, of course, I was shamelessly using you as a platform to express my beef on how we tend to frame evolution in general, and to balk at the absurdity when one crosses the line to express evolution in terms of the MVPs (meaning, value and purpose).

        • Kodie

          I think he is mocking Chuck, but evolution is obviously not an agent. Plenty of species go extinct because their selection for mates went the wrong way or took too long. I think I’ve gone on about choosing the wrong human mate a while, but we really don’t know what the future will demand of our species. Our current selection process is based on social status, and current ideals of attractiveness, and still feels like men hold most of the cards. Despite our consciousness, humans seem to rail and rebel against regulations that might control fertilization. Despite abuse and manipulation, I mean evolution favors rapists? Humanity does not favor rapists officially, but society wants to give rapists a chance to impregnate again, because they are young and have good prospects, they are talented, they have some other social status, why ruin all the other accomplishments they have and let them continue to improve our society by keeping them free.

          So, what evolutionary agent favors rapists? The bible says rape is wrong (officially), but the condition for proving it is still what’s in play today – she didn’t scream at the time, no one heard it, it didn’t happen.

          She’s pregnant now? She willingly slept with a man who took advantage of her, as the implications go, and now cannot stop the pregnancy, because it has a soul unique DNA. The woman is just bitter because all women are just bitter about mysterious things men cannot guess, and never try to understand. That’s how we get more babies. Rapists find a breathing, proximal woman, and seizes his sperm, while Christians conspire to keep that sperm up in there until it’s a baby, harangue that woman to regret abortion if she chooses it, and the harangues her again that she is nowhere near fit in her life to raise a child alone. I mean, this fits not encouraging girls to seek higher education or prosperous careers, and raising little girls to hope one day a man will choose her to marry and raise children. AS HER PURPOSE. It’s pretty easy to make a woman feel insecure about her abilities with that kind of background, and take her baby for a “good Christian home”.

          So that typical evolutionary process led to a typical cultural process where that biological winner ends up in a home raised in ignorance by people who were biologically unfit to produce offspring themselves.

        • Kodie

          Agency doesn’t mean a fucking thing. Women can get raped pregnant without agency or selecting a mate. The forces of mutation and selection favor males who can fuck thousands of women against their will, impregnate them all, and keep them from procreating with anyone else. Human selection process generally favors a woman who doesn’t have children, certainly against one who is currently pregnant!

          But I said in another post – what makes a human selectable as a mate? Culture drives this instinct, but doesn’t prevent two stupid uggos from making a baby. It’s really hard to tell in global terms what makes a fit human to select. Young, fertile, breathing, and proximal works for almost any population. “My mother doesn’t like the girl” because she’s not [whatever quality] also works.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “It’s really hard to tell in global terms what makes a fit human to select.”

          Some features are easy for us to understand.
          Some features that make for a desirable mate are hidden to us.

          The overall effect is obvious.
          As time goes by, the human race becomes smarter and more competent to survive and to evolve.

        • Kodie

          No they don’t. Technology advances, but learning how to use the current technology doesn’t mean anyone is smarter.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “No they don’t. Technology advances, but learning how to use the current technology doesn’t mean anyone is smarter.”

          Advancing technology combined with advancing human knowledge make the human race smarter.

          By “smarter” I mean the ability of the human race to survive and to evolve.

          This is what evolutionary biologists generally mean when they speak of “intelligence”.

        • Kodie

          Advancing technologies aren’t always for our benefit, and can more easily take advantage of people, like using personal info against ourselves. I don’t think humans are getting smarter.

          That’s an illusion.

          Like to see any citations you might post, because you sound like your citation is your ass.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “Like to see any citations you might post, because you sound like your citation is your ass.”

          I don’t think that you would like to see any citations.
          It looks like you just enjoy mouthing off.

        • Kodie

          Do you even have any citations?

        • Chuck Johnson

          “Do you even have any citations?”

          A simple and clear example is the industrial revolution of more than a hundred years ago.

          The industrial revolution disrupted Western civilization and created a great deal of hardship.
          Charles Dickens’ stories show examples of this in England.

          The benefits of factory production were not rejected because of this. We are more factory-intensive, machine-intensive, and digital-control intensive than ever.

          This creates problems, and solutions get discovered.
          Abandoning machine production would be a step backwards for humanity.

          We need more intelligent solutions for the problems that advancing technology creates.
          Such “intelligent solutions” have become a part of technology itself.
          This is necessary in this time of rapid technological changes.

        • Kodie

          HUMAN BEINGS aren’t smarter.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Human societies have incorporated the improvements accumulated over thousands of years.

          Maybe human beings can be shown to be smarter.
          But even if not, human societies are much smarter.

          That is, human societies have the ability to better survive and evolve.

        • Kodie

          You are conflating evolutionary biology and anthropology.

        • epeeist

          You are conflating evolutionary biology and anthropology.

          What he is attempting to do is rescue his initial statement, that humans are smarter, by switching to a different claim. He is being forced into doing this because he can’t substantiate that first assertion.

        • epeeist

          As time goes by, the human race becomes smarter and more competent to survive and to evolve.

          You do of course have evidence to support this supposition.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “You do of course have evidence to support this supposition.”

          Evolutionary biologists have plenty of evidence to support my statement.
          Such understanding is part of what evolutionary biology is all about.
          It wouldn’t be called “evolution” if increased ability to survive were not involved.

          PBS Nova has “Becoming Human Parts 1,2, and 3” to offer.
          Plus many other Nova episodes outlining the biological and cultural evolution of the human race.
          Evolution towards intelligence and survival.

          Also, Stephen Pinker has various Youtube presentations on the subject of human cultural adaptive evolution.
          For example:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ramBFRt1Uzk&t=851s

        • epeeist

          Evolutionary biologists have plenty of evidence to support my statement.

          Citations required, otherwise why should I accept just another assertion on your behalf.

          PBS Nova has “Becoming Human Parts 1,2, and 3” to offer.

          Several things here, firstly I live in the UK so referring to a US TV channel isn’t particularly useful. Secondly, I tend not to watch videos since the information transfer rate is too slow. Lastly, and most importantly, this is a a secondary source. If the programmes do claim that there has been evolutionary change which has increased human intelligence and cultural adaption then presumably this is based on primary sources, why don’t you provide links to these?

          Also, Stephen Pinker has various Youtube presentations on the subject of human cultural adaptive evolution.

          I have read Pinker, the same question applies as above, where does he claim that evolutionary change has driven an increase in human intelligence and adaption?

        • Chuck Johnson

          By being dishonest, you have proved that you are right and I am wrong.

          We in the USA have a huge cult of that type.
          They worship Donald Trump.

        • epeeist

          By being dishonest, you have proved that you are right and I am wrong.

          I take exception to you calling me a liar.

          It is obvious that your attempt to smear me is due to the fact that you are unable to provide any substantiation of the assertions you have made.

        • MR

          This guy is as bad as our Christian apologists. wtf?

        • epeeist

          This guy is as bad as our Christian apologists.

          Certainly as clueless as most of the apologists who come here.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “I take exception to you calling me a liar.”

          You changed “dishonest” into “liar”
          You are being dishonest again.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “. . . are unable to provide any substantiation of the assertions you have made.”

          You and Max Doubt work this same dishonest routine.
          When you can’t say anything insightful, you just claim that evidence has not been provided.

          But you don’t provide evidence that the evidence has not been provided.
          It’s a ritualized form of dishonesty.

        • epeeist

          But you don’t provide evidence that the evidence has not been provided.

          Your original claim was, “As time goes by, the human race becomes smarter and more competent to survive and to evolve.” This is an ontological commitment and as such it is down to you to demonstrate that it is true. As the old saying goes, “He who avers must prove”.

          It isn’t down to me, or anyone else, to show that the statement is false.

          I have yet to see you provide any primary and apposite data to substantiate your position.

        • Chuck Johnson

          I did refer you to and I do refer you to evolutionary biologists.
          Smart and competent is the major standard standard by which anthropologists and evolutionary biologists measure the evolutionary fitness to survive of our ancestors going back millions of years.
          PBS Nova’s “Becoming Human” series is one of many examples that you can watch.

          If you have no interest in seeing or reading any human evolutionary biology, then of course, the evidence that I refer to will become (magically) non-existent.

          A lot depends upon your own level of energy and curiosity.
          Or lack thereof.

        • epeeist

          I did refer you to and I do refer you to evolutionary biologists.

          An utterly and completely useless referral. Which biologists, what papers in which journals, which volume and what page numbers?

          PBS Nova’s “Becoming Human” series is one of many examples that you can watch.

          No, I can’t since I don’t live in the States and I don’t have access to that channel even if I wanted to watch it. As I said, and as you also seem to have ignored, this is a populist secondary source. What primary sources do they refer to?

          If you have no interest in seeing or reading any human evolutionary biology, then of course, the evidence that I refer to will become (magically) non-existent.

          You haven’t presented any evidence, all you have provided is a few vague and substantiated assertions. If I was to say “Physicists say that the only thing that really exists are relativistic quantum fields” and told you to watch a BBC Horizon programme on quantum physics would you accept this? Or would you require something rather more substantial?

          A lot depends upon your own level of energy and curiosity.

          No, a lot depends on your unwillingness to substantiate your position.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Your replies to me are fraudulent.

        • Chuck Johnson

          When I see replies like yours, I wonder, which parts of your reply are your ignorance, which parts are your stupidity, and which parts are your eagerness to deceive ?

          So I keep my responses to you brief.
          You will continue to pretend that evidence has not been provided.

        • epeeist

          So I keep my responses to you brief.

          When I see a response that consists almost completely of ad hominen I usually find that it is because the poster lacks an argument.

        • Chuck Johnson

          I withhold my arguments.
          You are a deceiver.

        • epeeist

          I withhold my arguments.

          No, you don’t have any arguments.

          You are a deceiver.

          And because you don’t have any arguments you, once again, resort to ad hominem.

        • Chuck Johnson

          I have arguments, I don’t offer them to you.
          I offer them to more honest people.

        • epeeist

          I have arguments, I don’t offer them to you.

          So what is the difference (if any) between having arguments but not revealing them and having no arguments at all?

        • Chuck Johnson

          Some of the people that I converse with are honest enough for me to proceed.

        • Kodie

          If you mean me, and I’m not saying you do, your arguments are pretty shallow and dumb.

        • epeeist

          If you mean me

          He means me. Having made the claim some while back that human intelligence had increased and that humankind was more competent to survive. He stated that evolution was causal in this. However he hasn’t been able to provide any evidence for his claims nor a causal warrant. It isn’t so much that his arguments are “shallow and dumb”, more that they don’t exist.

        • Kodie

          Some of the people that I converse with are honest enough for me to proceed.

          Chuck keeps trying to explain what he meant and I am guessing those are his most coherent and substantial arguments. I don’t know why he thinks you’re dishonest, or if he might think I am honest, but so far, do you think he is holding on to better arguments because he considers both of us and everyone else too dishonest to share them?

        • MR

          I think he is holding on to them because he knows they won’t stand up to scrutiny. His is just a reshaping of the woo into a scientific woo. It’s the closest thing I’ve seen to “scientism.” He wants you to play by his rules so his ridiculousness isn’t exposed.

        • Kodie

          I think he is sharing his best arguments with me. Nobody holds back better arguments in favor of shitty arguments that aren’t getting through. I mean, though, I think he thinks I’m fucking stupid, that’s why he keeps trying to explain the same thing he already said 17 times already. I mean, Kodie, you’re just not getting it. We have life. Abiogenesis created life. Without it, we would have no meaning, thus, that IS the meaning! The “ultimate meaning of our lives” is that we’re alive at all so we can have meaning!

          I don’t think he has something beyond that, or is he waiting for me to agree so he can move to the next thing?

        • epeeist

          His is just a reshaping of the woo into a scientific woo. It’s the closest thing I’ve seen to “scientism.”

          I have been away and haven’t had time to respond, however your reply covers all the ground, especially in regard to scientism.

          He wants you to play by his rules so his ridiculousness isn’t exposed.

          Exactly that, and certainly when it comes to science his rules are a cover for his superficial understanding of science, its methodology, history and philosophy.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Your present response is pretty shallow and dumb.
          Dimwitted personal insult is one of your tools for discourse.

        • Kodie

          No, Chuck, I cut to the chase. You keep saying the glass is the water. No matter how much you explain it, it’s incorrect. Am I supposed to waste my time pretending you have an intellectually sound argument and presenting accordingly? I tried, and you doubled down.

        • epeeist

          Some of the people that I converse with are honest enough for me to proceed.

          Oh, I have no problem with you proceeding, it’s just that when you tell me that there is a path in front of us I would rather like some evidence that it actually exists.

          Perhaps it might be better if we tried something a little less contentious. Tell me, scientifically speaking who is the better composer Bach or Beethoven?

        • Chuck Johnson

          Tell me, scientifically speaking who is the better composer Bach or Beethoven?

          They both are better.
          The particular feature of their works that is being discussed will make one composer better than the other for particular features.

          The particular music critic that is doing the discussing will make one composer better than the other.

          Most critics will not do an overall assessment of better or worse in such a comparison.

        • Sample1

          Rocks contain information as do genes and brains. All three are repositories of information. I agree, presumably with you, that more information resides in our brain than in our genetic code or in rocks.

          What brains do with information that rocks and genes do not is create knowledge.

          And so for billions of years reality was boring, if we agree that information without knowledge is boring. In other words, nothing new in the universe was created after the first billion years or so since the Big Bang.

          Likewise with our species. We’ve had, structurally, the same brains for a hundred thousand years and yet for the majority of our species’ existence, little by way of anything new was created. Most of our history involved individuals who never experienced anything new. Fire, clothing, shelter, dominated as technology for tens of millennia.

          What changed? If you’re a student of Deutsch, it changed when we ditched the static memetic knowledge created by religious thinking to hard-to-vary explanatory knowledge. Knowledge that may be acquired independently of sense experiences. Knowledge that that can create reliable models of reality not dependent on a single human lifetime.

          There are hints that our species came close to what became the scientific revolution of the last few centuries with perhaps the ancient Greeks, but those earlier potential revolutions typically lasted only a generation or two with religions ultimately winning the war. That type of victory kept bad explanations dominating culture for a couple more millennia.

          What you’re advocating with calling something, anything, an ultimate meaning (are you?) is a return, if only a step, to that pre scientific stasis of religious knowledge creation: easy-to-vary bad explanations.

          No thank you.

          Mike, faith free
          Edit done.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “In other words, nothing new in the universe was created after the first billion years or so since the Big Bang.”

          The universe does evolve and new things are being created all the time.

          But the really interesting things are those things that began four billion years ago during abiogenesis.
          Those really interesting things continue to evolve in very interesting ways.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Likewise with our species. We’ve had, structurally, the same brains for a hundred thousand years and yet for the majority of our species’ existence, little by way of anything new was created. Most of our history involved individuals who never experienced anything new. Fire, clothing, shelter, dominated as technology for tens of millennia.

          There was something new that you didn’t mention.
          For most of those hundred thousand years, modern complex language was being developed.
          This took place in the southern part of Africa.

          Apparently, all modern languages descended from that language development in Africa, and the the genetic makeup of all modern humans has descended from genes that those Africans possessed.

          With the advent complex languages, our human ancestors could engage in complex thinking, detailed remembering and in sophisticated interpersonal communications.
          And conquer the world.

          See PBS Nova’s “Becoming Human Parts 1,2 and 3”

        • Sample1

          Yeah, we are talking a little past each other. The crux of my point is that for hundreds of thousands of years humans lived remarkably similar lives on this planet: survival, reproduction and death. Complex language evolution didn’t change that. Fire didn’t change that. Wearing rotting clothing didn’t change that. We limped along in the dark, fearfully, with arguably and relatively no time for much else.

          And our first foray to understanding our place in the universe, conceptually, was understandably wrong, being so close to our savagery and its evolutionarily linked biases of false agency detection and incorrect pattern correlations in our environment.

          Eventually we formed societies which afforded more free time to start thinking deeply. But we got that wrong too. What’s remarkable is that we got it so wrong for so long with essentially the same brains we have today.

          This all changed when our species started to value and know how discover hard-to-vary explanations about reality. The scientific revolution a few centuries ago provided that lift off in understanding power. And we’ve traveled further in the blink of an eye compared to the powerful societal memes that held us back for tens of not hundreds of millennia.

          Those memes are still around and we must look at them skeptically.

          Mike, faith free
          Edit done.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Yeah, we are talking a little past each other. The crux of my point is that for hundreds of thousands of years humans lived remarkably similar lives on this planet: survival, reproduction and death. Complex language evolution didn’t change that.

          Complex language evolution and the complex ways of thinking and discovering that go along with it certainly did change that.

          And the scientific revolution would have been impossible without the tools of language and logic that were available to Newton and others.

        • Sample1

          Not denying any of that. Sigh.

          Mike, excommunicated

        • Sample1

          Language and logic isn’t enough though. Aquinas was logical, Stan Lee and his comics are logically enclosed systems.

          If armchair logic does not comport with what we discover by observation outside the window it’s dismissible, or at the least highly suspicious. Reason (which includes tools like logic) in conjunction with observation and testing is what counts as good explanatory knowledge, explanations that are hard-to-vary while still describing the phenomena. Our ancestors settled for easy-to-vary knowledge, bad explanations (static memes) for hundreds of millennia.

          Mike, undead and optimistic

        • Chuck Johnson

          Language and logic isn’t enough though. Aquinas was logical, Stan Lee and his comics are logically enclosed systems.

          You seem to believe that Aquinas logic and Stan Lee logic have little or no value in the development of better human thinking and understanding.

          I say that you neglect to appreciate the value of human cultural advancement unless it is simple enough to be immediately obvious to you.

          To acquaint you with my way of thinking, I will tell you this:

          (A) First, with no complex language ability, humans had no ability to invent religions.

          (B) Second, when the intellectual ability was present, humans invented religions of all kinds all around the world.

          (C) Third, as the human intellectual ability continued to increase, religions in the industrialized world started to decline in popularity.
          That decline continues today.

          So I will tell you that I believe that (A) is the least culturally advanced stage of humanity, (B) is more advanced, and (C) is the most culturally advanced stage among the three.

          Religions historically have had a lot of cultural value for societies and that value continues today for many people.
          Advances in societies then cause the religions to become obsolete.

          Here is Asimov’s essay on the relativity of wrong:
          https://chem.tufts.edu/AnswersInScience/RelativityofWrong.htm

        • Sample1

          Thanks for your ideas. I’m not in a position to comment because you really haven’t explained what exactly I’ve written that you’re objecting to.

          Mike, hoops and porpoises

        • Chuck Johnson

          You seem to think that knowledge “explained clearly in words” is the only kind of knowledge that is worthwhile.

          I’m telling you that there is an enormous world of knowledge outside of “clearly explained in words” which is very valuable even though it is often unseen.

        • Sample1

          I realize you are telling me things. Again, I’m not sure what you are responding to from what I’ve written. That’s why I’ve asked, and am asking again, patiently, what have I stated that you are objecting to? Obviously it must be something.

          Until then, it doesn’t make sense to me to respond to what you’re telling me without a proper context before we can move on.

          Mike, excommunicated

        • Chuck Johnson

          That’s why I’ve asked, and am asking again, patiently, what have I stated that you are objecting to? Obviously it must be something.

          I am not necessarily objecting to anything that you are saying right now.
          You would have to explain before I could say that I am objecting.

        • Chuck Johnson

          There are hints that our species came close to what became the scientific revolution of the last few centuries with perhaps the ancient Greeks, but those earlier potential revolutions typically lasted only a generation or two with religions ultimately winning the war. That type of victory kept bad explanations dominating culture for a couple more millennia.

          Religions had been around for thousands of years before the Greeks, and the Greeks were religious, too.
          The problem is much more than just the presence of religions.

          Along with religions, imperialism and authoritarianism shut down the scientific progress that the Greeks had been making.

          Unfortunately, science and technology provide the tools that emperors, kings and popes can use to build empires and to subjugate the world.

        • Chuck Johnson

          What you’re advocating with calling something, anything, an ultimate meaning (are you?) is a return, if only a step, to that pre scientific stasis of religious knowledge creation: easy-to-vary bad explanations.

          Evolution is not an ultimate meaning of the universe.
          That would imply that an “ultimate meaning” can exist independent of human minds or any kind of mind.
          The universe itself does not think.
          A lot of meaningless things go on in the universe.
          But here on Earth, many things happen which are meaningful.

          Evolution is the foundation or source of all meaning for the human race.

          The word “meaning” and the thought of “meaning” are both the result of human intelligence.
          Intelligence is a result of biological evolution.

        • Sample1

          I’m an anti-foundationalist. More interested in fundamentals and good explanations.

          Don’t forget that evolution is also responsible for leaving us susceptible to thinking poorly and disease. 🙂

          Mike, excommunicated

        • DingoJack

          Are you against the First or the Second?

        • Sample1

          Good question. Still figuring out various philosophies about knowledge, with bits from here and there. I don’t mind so-called justified true beliefs used on one level of conversation but wary of slipping into a naïve rationalism that may ignore the skepticism that works well for other levels of discussion.

          Mike, excommunicated

        • MR

          Which is meaningless in regards to the word “meaning.”

          The ultimate meaning of our lives is surviving and evolving. Evolutionary biology shows us that this is the ultimate meaning for all living things.

          That is not what people find “meaning” in. The “combined agency of mutation and selection pressure” does not find “meaning” in that.

          [Evolutionary meaning] gives precedence to ALL strategies that promote survival and promote evolution.

          “Evolutionary meaning,” is a senseless term. “Meanings” don’t “give precedence. You need an agent to which something “means” something to. There is no agent that “gives precedence” or “has strategies” to promote survival or evolution. Indeed, evolution can happen passively just as well. Just because I dodged an asteroid strike by being on the other side of the earth, or a flood that wiped out my competition doesn’t require agency or strategies or promotion of survival or “giving” precedence to anything. These are things a theist would say.

        • Chuck Johnson

          You wouldn’t be sending me philosophical comments if it weren’t for the evolutionary processes that created you and created your interest in the philosophy of “meaning”.

          Those evolutionary process are truly foundational to everything that you think and everything that you value.

          It’s our biological history that gives meaning to the word “meaning”.

        • MR

          It’s nonsensical to talk about ultimate meaning. You’re just replacing “evolutionary processes” for “God.” Evolutionary processes don’t derive or find meaning in anything.

        • Kodie

          What is the ultimate meaning for a rose? A rose helps the rose bush stay alive. Flowers are sex. Most roses aren’t cut off the bush. It depends on where the bush is located, because plenty of roses are cut to provide romantic symbols. They go in a vase, and in a week or less, they are wilted. What is their ultimate meaning for blooming? So your loved one remembers that one time you got her roses because you didn’t really know what she’d like, and think, all women like roses for Valentine’s Day? Yes, that is one human trap of civilization. One year, in college, I got a delivery of 5 roses. I think it was supposed to be 6, but it was 5. How weird. I hate that guy anyway. One year, about 10 years after that, I had a fight with my (different) boyfriend because he didn’t know me. Just saying, if you tear the roses off the stem and throw them, it’s a lot more satisfying than Gerber daisies or whatever. They just make a little solid ball.

          Was that their purpose? I just think purpose is a feeling – like if you are not happy doing whatever you’re doing, you don’t think that’s your “purpose”. Like being unhappy is a sign. Like, I’m not supposed to be with a guy I want to throw the roses he gave me at. I’m not supposed to spend all weekend in bed resting if I actually liked the job I have, etc., so I must want to be with someone else and a different job. I think I was talking to Chuck about purposeless infertile couples – I can’t think of a reason for getting on a waiting list to adopt an infant who isn’t born yet, or to encourage a culture to produce more infants for them to select from. If you care about children, do something else to support children. If you feel your purpose is to be a parent, and I think it’s usually mother*, lots of kids need a home that you overlook.

          *Men on this blog may not realize what it feels like to grow up as a girl, that we feel our purpose is to have a baby and care for that baby. That is how most of us are socialized. Maybe younger women do not feel this, but I feel like that was expected. I would grow up, marry someone, and have a few babies, and fulfill my purpose. Or fulfill the purpose that I have a uterus and men don’t. Women make some progress seeking careers, but never escape their blatant capacity for bearing children, while men do not similarly strive in the direction of raising children in addition to having a career. I think sex is a biological urge, but we can prevent unwanted children, but despite this, many couples think the next checkpoint is having a baby.

          Is one’s ultimate meaning to fuck and make another person or several? What is all the rest of this shit then? If you can’t make a baby from fucking, or you make a baby from fucking that you don’t want, I guess that matches up, but human innovation has created ways around getting pregnant or staying pregnant. Waiting list for adoption seems like you just really wanted to make a baby but couldn’t, not that you really want to parent a child, which there are plenty of children waiting to be parented. This means people think their child from zero will be 100% programmed to be whatever they want, whatever parenting skills and talents they think they have, but that they don’t have those skills and talents to a child already begun programming. They want those dumb first steps and first words. They don’t want a child who already knows their colors, they want the privilege of teaching a brand-new human red, blue, green, 1, 2, 3.

          That’s what I don’t fucking get. Every human is different but mostly the same. Value the same fucking things everyone else does. That might be what every child needs, but I don’t get why that is what every parent needs. To me, there’s a big difference between caring about the welfare of a child and wanting to cherish the same old milestones every baby does.

        • Kodie

          What about all the people who don’t ever think about this shit? What’s their meaning, and should they be allowed to procreate anyway?

        • Chuck Johnson

          “What about all the people who don’t ever think about this shit? What’s their meaning, and should they be allowed to procreate anyway?”

          There are many previous philosophies throughout the world (many of them being religions) that promoted their versions of “good morality”.

          They did what they could to produce an improved human morality.
          Some of the things that they did were successful, some were failures. Today we have better social tools than they had to produce improved morality.
          This is connected with the fact that religions are disappearing in the industrialized world.

          And as far as people being allowed to procreate, laws prohibiting the procreation of “inferior people” have a way of blowing up in the face of the society that makes such laws.

          Education on the subject of genetic fitness is the best way to improve the overall genetic makeup of the human race.

          The Nazi eugenics programs frighten people, and with good reason.

        • Kodie

          We don’t really know much about genetic fitness. We know some diseases are genetic, and altering these genes in the embryonic stage or in utero is still funky. It means 2 things – changing one part of the genetic code can screw up something we cannot predict, and, 2, it means we can create vanity babies, and we’ll really be able to tell who is a have and a have not, and that would be bad.

          But what I’m saying is, some people don’t have the luxury of wondering why they were born, if they have some special individual purpose. Your laid-out purpose is mostly an overview. People keep wanting to have children because there’s some romanticized mystique there, because everyone else does it, because it’s pretty normal thing to do, or because they genuinely love children. Some people cannot have children biologically, and this makes them feel inferior to the species, because having children is a normal step and also something most people are conditioned from a very young age to believe checks the box of normal milestones. I am intervening for those people who either never wanted children, or decided in time, let’s say a mature enough age to unromanticize the “obligation” to fit in, and decided in time, not to have children.

          Saying the purpose of everyone alive is to make more people is ridiculous. I don’t think people have that much of a permanent purpose for being born. Maybe your dentist has a purpose for meeting you at your appt. and cleaning your teeth, but s/he can retire the next day, and then what is his/her purpose after that? Have they completed their purpose of attaining a career in dentistry some 20+ years after they were born, like their whole purpose was to become YOUR dentist. and now that they’re not your dentist, they should just kill themselves instead of enjoy life outside of other people’s mouths, and all the money they racked up.

          I’m going to hazard, a lot of people would not have become a dentist if they did not see dollar signs and great benefits and a comfortable retirement. That’s a way to prioritize. Dentists, unlike teachers, don’t have to work at home, grading papers. I’m not going to say nobody’s passionate about teeth, but teachers are usually women, and drawn to a traditional field caring for children, but also becoming educated to teach them on a set of subjects for their age and developmental level that their parents do not have time or knowledge for. Taking a lower wage at a thankless job voluntarily gives most people the idea that there’s more passion for the vocation than there is for dentistry.

          I also wondered what my cat’s purpose is, compared to your idea. Most pets get spayed, and the purpose they serve is “pet” from the owner’s perspective. I don’t like to think my cat thinks she is my pet slave. She’s pretty comfortable and basically imprisoned from a life she might enjoy, putting her in the job of just about anyone with their needs met – they’d rather be doing something else. She’s also spayed, and doesn’t see any other cats anyway. Dinosaurs wouldn’t have ever imagined (if they could) that their purpose was to fuel trips in your car or heat your home.

          Surviving and evolving deosn’t seem to be an ultimate purpose for any individual, regardless of species, nor a mountain or river or anything else.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “Saying the purpose of everyone alive is to make more people is ridiculous.”

          This is a necessary purpose for some people.
          It wouldn’t be necessary if we lived forever.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “Surviving and evolving doesn’t seem to be an ultimate purpose for any individual, regardless of species, nor a mountain or river or anything else.”

          The mountains and rivers don’t undergo biological evolution.
          Surviving and evolving means nothing to them.

          Surviving and evolving is an ongoing purpose for all species, including humans.

        • Kodie

          Surviving and evolving is not a PURPOSE IN THE WAY PEOPLE WANT TO KNOW WHAT THEIR PURPOSE IS. I don’t know how much more to explain it to you. That’s not a purpose. Species want to endure, and to do so, must adapt, but that is not what the fuck we’re talking about.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Surviving and evolving is not a PURPOSE IN THE WAY PEOPLE WANT TO KNOW WHAT THEIR PURPOSE IS

          It is a purpose as evolutionary biologists know it.
          I understand enough evolutionary biology to know that surviving and evolving is one of my purposes.

          It is one of your (Kodie’s) purposes as an evolutionary biologist would see it.
          It is not one of your purposes as you see it.

          A more specific wording solves the problem.
          Intelligent beings perceive purposes.
          Each intelligent being has his own personal perceptions.

          Evolutionary biologists will project purposes onto you as they see it.
          Psychologists and psychiatrists will project purposes onto you as they see it.
          Some scientists have this task as a part of their job.

        • Kodie

          Your original statement was:

          The ultimate meaning of our lives is surviving and evolving. Evolutionary biology shows us that this is the ultimate meaning for all living things.

          What is my meaning to other people – not the same as my meaning to myself. When I’m gone, whatever I am to some people will be missing, but I won’t miss it. When I can’t do my job, someone else will. When I am driving on the road, what I mean to myself is the driver trying to go someplace I probably don’t want to go, but to others, I am a particle of traffic they are trying to get through. I am not evolving, you are not evolving. I can change, I can improve or not, and whether I am improving is relative to my standard, and maybe not fast enough for me, or not fast enough for someone else, or in a different direction than they would label “improvement.” Getting better at living my life is not increasing the intelligence of the species, and it’s not evolving.

          Finding a fit enough mate to fuck and spawn is the only area in which humans contribute to evolution, and it doesn’t seem that exclusive. Most people seem fit enough to find another warm body and have children accidentally (or more due to conformity and expectations), who do nothing to contribute to the collective intelligence… I mean we didn’t go to the moon. Did you go to the moon? Most people have nothing to do with space exploration or biotech or AI or even entertainment. They are a cog in a machine and do the same thing every day. They have an amazing smart phone with lots of apps, and all their kids have tablets and play games 2-10 hours a day. They don’t know how it works, but they know enough about something to earn enough pay to buy all that shit and the technology is what’s called user-friendly. That’s how easy it is to catch a virus or allow “friends” you don’t know to access your private information, it looks so easy to click on a pop-up banner telling you something you think is coming from your computer. You have to know about that shit in advance to avoid it.

          I don’t see evolution as a purpose for MY life. I cannot evolve myself, and I did not have children, so I’m done meaning anything to you. I understand what you’re trying to say – living beings seek survival and natural selection sorts it out, but it is not an ultimate meaning whatsoever. Many species have become extinct, and I guess they don’t mean anything? Some people think it would be cool to clone some dinosaur DNA or woolly mammoths or some shit. What do we need animals that could not survive for? Save the polar bears and giraffes and lions and elephants, and get rid of the mosquitoes, fleas, and fruit flies. I mean, we don’t live in a perfect world for us, that’s what the bible is mostly about, isn’t it? They are selling a new world without mosquitoes and fleas and fruit flies and humans they don’t like, because humans are kind of the worst. Some are the best, some are pretty good a lot of the time, but many are really the worst, but evolutionary biology doesn’t give a shit about culture, such as habitually being the worst, and if you’re talking about biology, that’s distinct from culture.

          No ultimate meaning, if your meaning says everyone is just a cog in a larger system, and that’s your ultimate meaning, that’s not what people mean by meaning or purpose.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “I’m going to hazard, a lot of people would not have become a dentist if they did not see dollar signs and great benefits and a comfortable retirement. That’s a way to prioritize.”

          Generally, when a person chooses a career, they want both the money and the job satisfaction at the same time.

          When a career works out well, it benefits both the worker and society as well.

        • Kodie

          A lot of people become imprisoned by their career or whatever job(s) they could get.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “Taking a lower wage at a thankless job voluntarily gives most people the idea that there’s more passion for the vocation than there is for dentistry.”

          Money plus job satisfaction are the important parts of work for just about everybody.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “We don’t really know much about genetic fitness. We know some diseases are genetic, and altering these genes in the embryonic stage or in utero is still funky.”

          That is still a subject for research.
          Today, in clinical practice, genetic counseling is often used.
          Under some circumstances, a couple may choose to not have children and to adopt instead.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “I am intervening for those people who either never wanted children, or decided in time, let’s say a mature enough age to unromanticize the “obligation” to fit in, and decided in time, not to have children.”

          The obligation to have children is for human societies as a whole.
          Individuals do not all have to have children. This creates no problem.

        • Kodie

          Individuals are pressured to have children or be socially ostracized, to disappoint their parents and lose touch with friends they can’t relate to anymore.

          This creates a lot of problems.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Fortunately, modern societies tend to see individual worth more broadly.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know what you even mean by that.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Having children is one of many different things that a person can do.
          Modern societies tend to respect differences among people more than earlier societies did.

        • Kodie

          I guess it would have helped to first look at it in the context of the discussion, i.e. my comment beforehand. I disagree. Modern societies are still tribal. Parents hang out with other parents and have nothing in common with their friends who don’t have kids. They might “accept it” as in not saying mean things at you, but they have different priorities in life.

        • Chuck Johnson

          The spoiler here is the advancement in electronic communications.
          Social media, email and other communications make it more practical for people of different lifestyles to be connected.

          Also, I hang out with my friends who have kids because I love kids.

        • Kodie

          When people ask what is the meaning of life, or what is the ultimate meaning, they usually mean, why are they conscious and what are they supposed to do with their human abilities? I think most people waste most of their lives. There’s the thing where most people do the same human things – grow up, meet someone, make a family, and maybe have a job. Jobs are under-rated as a purpose, because most people probably don’t think they are in a job that has meaning for them other than providing a paycheck that helps them provide for their family, which most people are just in the same cycle. I think our biological prospects for evolutionary selection is weird because of culture values – who we find attractive and why are influenced a lot by culture, so this is a macro look at nature vs. nurture. By this system, do we make the most fit children? Or is it made trivially simple to make an offspring and then outsource their nurture to an underpaid employee, and what contribution does one make to humanity through either their children or their job, if the only reason they have the job they have is that companies exist to exploit consumers AND workers for profit?

          What means “fit” in the human species? Breathing and fertile and proximal? Preventing women from access to birth control or abortion is a large part of it. Squeezing every available infant from the population of women who would otherwise have preferred to prevent pregnancy to provide blank-slate infants to the infertile religious couples who have a biologically urgent hole to fill in their lives, only to have that child influenced in a familial culture we do not all approve of, which may, in fact, detriment the species, to give one more malleable mind to a culture of willful ignorance and propaganda against the progress and survival of our species? If they can’t make their own, tough shit on stealing my body to live their dream of being parents. The pitch for adoption is to give your baby a loving home, but most people don’t get to choose. Ok, maybe a gay couple, maybe a non-religious couple, but abortion preventers (called pregnancy crisis centers), and adoption agencies are largely controlled by religious organizations for a reason.

          Don’t even get me started on immigration! How dare humans in need come from their own backwards cultures to try to “take” what belongs to people born inside our borders that we don’t even want, but if you are of certain religions, feel free to birth as many idiots and slaves as you wish because you’re American, you know? Nobody ever says that shit needs to stop.

        • Kodie

          Species have something worked out as a way to try to survive death, which is to procreate. Every member of a species doesn’t need to procreate in order for the species to evolve. Life itself has ways, but is each member of a species’ meaning to …. yes, socially, we consciously value procreating over not procreating. People can feel like they have to, or they don’t know where it comes from, but they really need to. I know why people think their own biological child is necessary, vs. other options, so I don’t actually know where adopting a child falls on this “purpose” of living. Surviving and evolving and procreating, let’s say an ordinary het Christian couple can’t make their own children biologically, and manage to suffice the “purpose” of living by the burden of a young woman who was guilted out of getting an abortion. So there’s that. Not every pregnant woman wants an abortion, but adoption is not popular enough to supply all the infants for all the infertile parents who feel they need to raise a child from a newborn who looks like them to feel whole. This doesn’t feel like how it should be, for intelligent creatures to fulfill even this basic outline of a purpose.

          The young of the species need guidance and structure and whatnot, so why are so many young abandoned because people only feel fulfilled in their goal to parent, which is not by itself a manifestation of surviving or evolving, by an infant, thus creating a market for infants and a structure of socialization which procures the greatest quantity of infants to supply the market? I mean, people would rather go overseas for a chance at an infant who doesn’t look like them than a child in need of parents who is not an infant, either it’s quicker, cheaper, or they didn’t pass the, you know, you’re going to adopt a child, suddenly they care what kind of person you are (vs. making your own and having a wide berth for abuse before anyone checks in). Not to say those infants don’t need parents either, but IF THE PURPOSE OF LIVING IS TO KEEP SURVIVING AND EVOLVING, adoption doesn’t figure at all, except as a way to support the living of the species who need parents. Getting on a waiting list for an infant and feeling deprived and impatient with this system is kind of cold, considering how some other people live, and their problems, first being, children on a waiting list for parents, and women who’d prefer to get an abortion, regardless of reason, but we do have enough people, and haven’t lost the recipe for making new ones.

          But essentially, when people say what is the meaning of life, they mean what is the meaning that I am aware of being alive and have invented time, which I now have to kill.

        • Chuck Johnson

          IF THE PURPOSE OF LIVING IS TO KEEP SURVIVING AND EVOLVING, adoption doesn’t figure at all, except as a way to support the living of the species who needs parents.

          The biological support of an adopted child is one obvious way to serve the needs of surviving and evolving.

          But you can look more closely and find many more, almost an infinite number of smaller ways that adoption serves the purpose of surviving and evolving.

          Every move that a human makes, every thought has the potential to make the human race more successful (if done right) or to cause harm to the human race (if done wrong).

          We can’t know the full details of our everyday thoughts and actions.
          Just in part.

          We can know morality in a generalized way.
          Good intentions tend (in general) to lead to better morality.
          Correct ideas tend (in general) to lead to better morality.
          Competent communication between people tends (in general) to lead to better morality.
          etc.

          Also, in the vast human search for better morality, randomness figures in. This can fool people into not knowing what actually is moral and what is immoral.

          But adoption is usually done with good intentions, and in this day and age, the parents are carefully selected and educated as part of the adoption process.

          The human processes of surviving and evolving contain intentional components and unpredictable or random events, too.
          But four billion years of evolutionary history shows us that the creative forces of selection pressure can indeed produce biological systems which are astonishingly good at surviving and evolving.
          This talent to survive is progressive with the passage of time.

        • Kodie

          I don’t think you got the gist of my post.

        • epeeist

          Biological evolution advances by the combined agency of mutation and selection pressure.

          Except when it doesn’t.

        • Kodie

          The ultimate meaning of life is to make poop. Most endeavors of humanity are clever ways to make more poop. Some of the rest of the day may trying not to get bored, or, the crux of our existence, inventing new ways for people to keep pooping and/or prevent boredom.

          Life is long, pass the time somehow, and keep making poop.

      • Surviving and evolving is a key factor at a species level, but I would hesitate to call it “meaning.” I prefer to choose my own meaning, and at the moment it involves writing, stargazing, and playing my clarinet.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Writing, stargazing, and playing your clarinet all contribute to your own survival and evolution, and to the survival and evolution of others.

        • Even if that were so, Chuck, that is not my reason for doing so and hence not my purpose.

          I reject the idea of being hard-wired to some extrinsic purpose that came into existence without my input. I believe that meaning is subjective and individual.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “I believe that meaning is subjective and individual.”

          Of course it is.
          Evolutionary biology has all sorts of sub-meanings.

          The subjective and individual meanings that you will tell us about are examples of evolutionary sub-meanings.

          The foundational meaning for humans is the existence of life, the survival of life, and the evolution of life.

          Without these processes which have been around for four billion years, your subjective and individual meanings in your life would be non-existent.

          Humans do not have to know about evolution for it to be effective in causing changes in the human race.

          In the same way that humans do not need to know that their bodies are mostly made of water for that to be true.

        • Evolutionary biology is chemistry, Chuck. I do not get my meaning from chemistry. Drop it.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “Evolutionary biology is chemistry, Chuck. I do not get my meaning from chemistry. Drop it.”

          It’s more than just chemistry.
          It has given you you the ability to write comments.

          When you don’t understand science, you should not pretend that you do.

        • Oh, I think I understand science well enough. The ability to write comments is an emergent property of a complex biochemically-based organism. I am not aware of any particular non-chemical ingredient required for this phenomenon.

        • Chuck Johnson

          I am not aware of any particular non-chemical ingredient required for this phenomenon.

          If all you understand about genetic evolution or cultural evolution is chemical reactions, then you don’t understand evolution.

        • Where did I say anything about “cultural evolution”?

        • Chuck Johnson

          If you want to limit it to DNA evolution, such evolution consists of mutation and selection pressure.

          Selection pressure is an environmental phenomenon and it doesn’t consist of chemical reactions.

          Your shortcoming in understanding evolution is obvious.

        • I say again, where did I say anything about “cultural evolution”? Answer the question.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “Even if that were so, Chuck, that is not my reason for doing so and hence not my purpose.”

          You do many, many things that you don’t fully understand.
          All people do.
          Many things happen that aren’t fully understood.

          —————————————————————————–

          “What is Fate?” Nasrudin was asked by a Scholar.
          “An endless succession of intertwined events, each influencing the other.”
          “That is hardly a satisfactory answer. I believe in cause and effect.”
          “Very well,” said the Mulla, “look at that.” He pointed to a procession passing in the street.”
          “That man is being taken to be hanged. Is that because someone gave him a silver piece and enabled him to buy the knife with which he committed the murder; or because someone saw him do it; or because nobody stopped him?”

        • Chuck, stop trying to superimpose your pretentious woo-woo on my view of Life, the Universe and Everything.

          I don’t need to understand everything fully, and in any event that’s a fool’s errand — As a strong agnostic, I believe that total understanding is simply not possible.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “I don’t need to understand everything fully, and in any event that’s a fool’s errand — As a strong agnostic, I believe that total understanding is simply not possible.”

          That’s true.
          The problem is that you pretend to understand things that you don’t.

          You are being dishonest in way similar to the dishonesty of religious people.
          Saying that you don’t understand is appropriate when you don’t understand.

        • Ah, your true colours come out — accusing a total stranger of being dishonest. You have just reduced the value of your opinions to zero in my eyes, probably permanently.

        • Chuck Johnson

          You are not a total stranger.
          Your dishonesty identifies you.

        • I am a stranger to you, because you’ve gotten a frightful number of things wrong about me.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Now, this is all about you, not the science ?
          Now I know one more thing about you.
          You have a tendency towards narcissism.

        • No, I think it more likely that you’re addicted to being right — even when you’re not. 😉

        • Sample1

          I’m perceiving there could be a “violently agreeing” subtext happening.

          Perhaps if you fleshed out your ideas we all might converge about evolution. Are you just using “meaning” “accomplish” and “agency” as colloquialisms rather than trying to put forth a metaphysics?

          Mike, undead and optimistic

        • Chuck Johnson

          “Perhaps if you fleshed out your ideas we all might converge about evolution.”

          Some of the comments that I make about evolution have to do with genetic adaptive evolution.
          More of the comments that I make have to do with cultural adaptive evolution.
          Both of these types of evolution are categories of biological adaptive evolution.

          I know that it’s a bit unusual to cite cultural evolution as a part of biological evolution.

        • Sample1

          Well, you’re going to get into a thicket of problems if you aren’t careful. Don’t know your background so maybe you’ve already sussed out the challenges. Perhaps you’re being more philosophical than scientific?

          Sure, we can recognize a connection between culture and biology through reductionism. The onerous word here is adaptive. At the cultural level, we might have an easier time correlating behaviors with adaptations but genetically, it is extremely tricky when it’s possible at all. That’s because calling something an adaptation assumes one has knowledge about selection by nature. We are nature, conceptually, but we also aren’t nature comprehensively. We model how we think nature behaves. Models are not the map.

          When using the word adaptation, the prevailing thought is that it should only be used at the level of the gene with each higher adaptive claim needing more evidence. When we get to organisms, figuring out what is an adaptation, that we may call a specifically selected trait, becomes insanely difficult.

          Just my random, maladaptive, adaptive, selected for, .02.

          Mike, undead and optimistic
          Edit done

        • Chuck Johnson

          “The onerous word here is adaptive. At the cultural level, we have an easier time correlating behaviors with adaptations but genetically, it is extremely tricky when its possible at all.”

          Both for cultural evolution and for genetic evolution, there are some changes (mutations) that we can pretty well predict will be adaptive and some mutations will be pretty much counter-adaptive.

          But that’s not how we know that evolution is true.
          Darwin, Wallace and others saw that evolution happens over time by observing the overall results.
          They knew nothing of DNA but they knew that something was keeping species the same and that something was also causing changes.

          The workings of evolution are stochastic.
          Understanding evolution in a detailed genetic way would be quite a challenge.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNPbjtej1Hk

        • Kodie

          I think one of the features of humans is to be culturally adaptive in the first place. It doesn’t mean a 4-year-old who is savvy on the tablet is smarter than her 85-year-old great-grandmother, whose address book is an actual book, and still buys postage stamps by the book. Young people absorb what they’re exposed to, and more easily adapt to and accept innovations in their 20s and early 30s, and then things get out of hand for most people. They aren’t smarter, we all aren’t smarter, and they aren’t dumber just because they’ve lived to meet technological innovations that change everything they’ve ever known since childhood. We use more sophisticated technology, which isn’t the same thing. If I can sound older than I want to right now, it’s long been the complaint that technology makes us dumber. We still learn math functions and figure them on a piece of paper with a pencil, while a piece of paper and a pencil isn’t any smarter than a slate or a stick in the sand, but the counter-argument is, if everyone carries a calculator in their pocket that is also every other function we might ever need on a desert island except a power source to keep it charged, why would we remember how to do long division. And every child since I’ve ever been a child (and probably before) asks the teacher, “when am I ever going to need to know this”?

          Using text, email, or facetime, they aren’t teaching cursive in school anymore, kids don’t learn how to write longhand (or so I hear), so they are dumber at handwriting, but they still teach block printing in the lower grades. I’m not really going to complain about that, but I don’t even think learning a fact makes someone smarter than people were a hundred or a thousand years ago. Having greater access to media in the form of newspapers at a time, or books, or schools, or the internet… doesn’t make humanity smarter. How many things do you look up because you have some itch to know, and the luxury of being able to find out the answer to your question is trivially easy that you don’t have to be resourceful in learning this new fact, and then, having satisfied your immediate need to know something, that information was no longer useful to you or anyone else*, and you failed to commit it to memory? I cannot count the times when a subject might have come up, and you have part of an interesting relevant comment, and start to interject, only you can’t remember how the whole thing went, and try to look it up on your phone while the moment passes? If you’re on the internet, like I am right now, in a slower format like a blog, instead of try to paraphrase part of a memory, just look it up again, or retrieve it from your bookmarks, and paste it (and maybe reread it).

          The “purpose” of living is not to survive and evolve. The purpose of life is, it’s not a consciousness. I think you’re trying to simplify something that is not simple. It’s like saying the purpose of the rain is, or the purpose of a hurricane is, or the purpose of dirt is, or even the purpose of fossil fuel is. All those things don’t have a purpose for us, we make purpose from them, for ourselves.

          *Maybe win a couple bucks in trivia night at a bar, or lucky enough to get on a game show.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “The “purpose” of living is not to survive and evolve.”

          But it is.
          Evolutionary biologists know this.
          The work that they do confirms this all the time.

          When you type messages to me, this is a learning experience for both of us.
          Learning experiences fall under the category of “cultural evolution”.

        • Kodie

          And cultural evolution and evolutionary biology have what to do with each other?

        • Chuck Johnson

          Young people absorb what they’re exposed to, and more easily adapt to and accept innovations in their 20s and early 30s, and then things get out of hand for most people. They aren’t smarter, we all aren’t smarter, and they aren’t dumber just because they’ve lived to meet technological innovations that change everything they’ve ever known since childhood.

          Each human mind has limits as to how much useful knowledge and intelligence it can have.

          One way that we can get around this limitation is to invent machines to help us get what we want.
          We do that and the result is that the human race (as a whole) gets smarter and more able to survive.

          By “smarter” I mean a greater understanding of our universe and a greater ability to survive,

          When human minds communicate effectively and cooperate effectively, then the human race (as a whole) becomes smarter.

          Here is my description of the process of evolving towards better communication and better cooperation:

          http://tinyurl.com/jnqyjy2

        • Chuck Johnson

          Using text, email, or facetime, they aren’t teaching cursive in school anymore, kids don’t learn how to write longhand (or so I hear), so they are dumber at handwriting, but they still teach block printing in the lower grades. I’m not really going to complain about that, but I don’t even think learning a fact makes someone smarter than people were a hundred or a thousand years ago.

          The quantity of knowledge of a human is not sufficient to describe whether that person is smarter than his ancestors.

          Quality of knowledge counts.

          When I talk about “smarter” or “more intelligent” I am talking about what the evolutionary biologists refer to.
          That is:
          “Smarter” means a mind that knows the things that are useful and appropriate to help the individual survive and evolve.
          Also, knowing things that help the human race survive and helps life on Earth to survive.

          If you study evolutionary biology, those biologists do describe humans becoming more intelligent over thousands of years.
          Ability to survive and to evolve are the important criteria for this “becoming more intelligent”.

        • Chuck Johnson

          If you’re on the internet, like I am right now, in a slower format like a blog, instead of try to paraphrase part of a memory, just look it up again, or retrieve it from your bookmarks, and paste it (and maybe reread it).

          Yes.
          The machinery of the internet and the machinery of the Google search engine do make the human race smarter.

          This is not just the appearance of smarter, or the feeling of smarter.
          The use of this machinery actually does make the human race smarter.

          Your mind is supplemented by digital machinery.
          Your mind is supplemented by the thoughts, discoveries and the knowledge of your fellow human beings.

          Communication and cooperation are a smarter way to live your life.
          Lack of communication and lack of cooperation are a not-as-smart way to live your life.

          Working together with other humans counts for a lot.

        • Kodie

          Your mind is supplemented by digital machinery.

          That doesn’t make humans smarter. If the infrastructure is destroyed, you are even stupider.

        • Chuck Johnson

          It’s like saying the purpose of the rain is, or the purpose of a hurricane is, or the purpose of dirt is, or even the purpose of fossil fuel is. All those things don’t have a purpose for us, we make purpose from them, for ourselves.

          At this point, we need to refer to semantics to make your statement clear.

          Rain does have a purpose, but only after we see a purpose or make a purpose for it.

          So to say “rain has a purpose” might be misunderstood.
          Of course, rain has no mind to know about purposes.
          So “rain’s own purpose” doesn’t make sense, except maybe to ancient people who perceived human-like thoughts in inanimate objects.

          So we either need to rely on our reader to understand that we are talking about “our purpose for the rain” or we need to explain that it’s our own purpose specifically to avoid confusion.

        • Kodie

          So it is with evolutionary biology. A river carves the earth and changes the earth and its own path over time, and can’t stop itself from flowing. Is that its purpose? You wouldn’t describe that as a purpose.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “A river carves the earth and changes the earth and its own path over time, and can’t stop itself from flowing. Is that its purpose? You wouldn’t describe that as a purpose.”

          The river has no mind.
          The river does not think that it has any purpose.

          The humans that see the river can think of all sorts of purposes that the river has for them. This is rational thinking.

          The ancient humans might see the river and think of all sorts of purposes that the river intends.
          This is magical, metaphorical, primitive thinking.
          I do my best to avoid thinking like that.
          Scientists try to avoid thinking that objects throughout our universe can think.

        • Kodie

          You are stating that evolutionary biology can think, and you are also conflating it with cultural changes that affect humans and maybe how they are forced to process new information. The ultimate meaning of MY LIFE is an unconscious process through which my species and all other living things endure generations via some method of procreation? You said “the ultimate meaning of our lives” – to whom? To what? To evolutionary biology says so?

        • MR
        • Chuck Johnson

          “You are stating that evolutionary biology can think,”

          Evolutionary biology has very powerful effects.
          Selection pressure selects which types of organisms will survive and which types will not.

          These are decisions, but they can be done without a brain and without a mind.

          Selection pressure is similar to thinking, but evolutionary biologists do not call it thinking.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “conflating it with cultural changes”

          Cultural adaptive evolution is a type of evolution.

        • Kodie

          But you keep interchanging what you’re talking about.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “But you keep interchanging what you’re talking about.”

          Here is a definition to use to follow what I am telling you:

          Biological adaptive evolution is general term which includes both genetic adaptive evolution and cultural adaptive evolution.

          I see the ongoing cultural developments and changes that we see everyday to be a form of biological evolution.

          So, with this in mind, to me, I am not interchanging.
          These are both in the category of biological evolution for humans.

          It began around 100,000 years ago when our human ancestors began what has become modern complex language, including English.

          With this development, humans can pass inventions (cultural evolution) forward to succeeding generations.
          We continue to build upon our earlier discoveries and inventions.

          Other animals cannot do this nearly as well as humans can.
          It’s what sets us apart.

        • Kodie

          You are interchanging terms.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Which terms ?

        • Kodie

          Christ, man.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “The ultimate meaning of MY LIFE is an unconscious process through which my species and all other living things endure generations via some method of procreation?”

          The ultimate meaning of your life is not the proper way to state it.
          The various meanings of your life tend to be things that you recognize and things that people who know you recognize.

          I am talking about the source or the foundation for meaning in your life.
          Intelligent beings have meanings in their lives and that intelligence came about due to evolution.
          Without intelligence, the thought of meaning does not exist.

          Evolution is a source of intelligence and meaning, but you don’t have to know about evolution to have meaning in your life.

          Evolution is the source of all meaning and intelligence is also the source of all meaning.

        • Kodie

          I try to understand what you’re talking about, but you stated the “ultimate meaning of our lives”. WLC called it a “miscarriage of nature”. You are talking about the same thing. When people talk about meaning, they are really asking why they personally need to exist instead of someone who was never born, or even why they need to be alive, as the human species depends essentially zero on any one of us. Does the human species have some ultimate meaning? Still no. It’s a fun ride, that’s it.

        • Chuck Johnson

          I try to understand what you’re talking about, but you stated the “ultimate meaning of our lives”.-Don

          Maybe it would be easier for you to see what I am saying if I stated that:

          “Abiogenesis, survival and evolution provide the foundation for all meaning in our lives.”

          This means that nobody would have any meaning in their lives if these things hadn’t happened.
          They are the necessary foundation.

          On the other hand, knowing about abiogenesis, survival and evolution helps to add meaning to the lives of only those people (such as me) who know and appreciate these biological concepts.

          So with this, the biological EVENTS (long ago) provide meaning to everyone, but the SCIENTIFIC UNDERSTANDING of those events will not necessarily provide meaning (personal meaning) to everyone.

          Many people do not know about this area of science, so this is not a part of their own collection of items that helps to give them personal meaning in their life.

          I had to type all of those words, because to me, these concepts are subtle and complicated to explain.

        • Kodie

          You can’t catch water without a vessel, you’re basically explaining that our meaning is the glass and not what you pour into it, because without the glass, the drink would be spilled on the ground.

        • Chuck Johnson

          You can’t catch water without a vessel, you’re basically explaining that our meaning is the glass and not what you pour into it, because without the glass, the drink would be spilled on the ground.

          This whole discussion is about the meaning of people’s lives.
          The fact that meaning is even possible is the foundation of the meaning of people’s lives.

          Once meaning is even possible, then a multitude of thoughts of meaning come into existence.

          The intelligence of animals gives the ability to have meaning.
          Intelligence comes from billions of years of evolution.

          Every one of the things that I have mentioned is a part of understanding the meaning of people’s lives.

        • Kodie

          You have been blathering on about the “ultimate meaning of our lives” and now you say it is a part. Glad you have backed off your initial claim, because it was obnoxiously false.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Abiogenesis, survival and evolution are the basis or foundation of all life on Earth.
          They are the basis of all intelligence on Earth.
          They are the basis of all meaning to life that people on Earth have.

        • Kodie

          You are conflating things again.

        • Chuck Johnson

          It’s two “basis of meanings to life” that I am discussing.

          Basis (1) is the ability to have any meaning to life.
          Abiogenesis, etc. provides this for all humans.

          Basis (2) is the ability to know and appreciate abiogenesis, etc. as being meaningful to their own lives.
          The study of science provides this meaning only to some humans, such as me.

          This is an example of when a phrase such as “basis for the meaning of life” is not sufficiently specified, then more words are necessary to explain.

        • Chuck Johnson

          And every child since I’ve ever been a child (and probably before) asks the teacher, “when am I ever going to need to know this”?

          This is a shortcoming of our education systems.
          If a child asks a question like that and the teacher either doesn’t know how to demonstrate the need for this knowledge, or doesn’t care, or is a part of a curriculum which doesn’t care, then we are seeing a serious defect in the education that is delivered to the child.

          I have been seeing such “serious defects” since I was a child.
          It’s a shame.

        • Kodie

          I can validate that I never need to know most of the stuff I was taught in school. I could like to know it, I could need to know it for my job, but a lot of it is not useful to most people.

        • Chuck Johnson

          The practice of learning new things is said to be a valuable thing.
          It would be better if the lessons were not one-size-fits-all.

          Learning things that are actually employed in work, industry,research, etc. would be more valuable.

          But at the earliest grades, numbers, reading and writing still makes sense.

        • Kodie

          Yeah but, Christ, those are basics. American History isn’t basic to non-Americans. It would be better in science class to really know how science works, as a probable consumer of science, students would be better off learning a lot more about the scientific method than what’s inside a frog or naming the planets of the solar system.

        • Chuck Johnson

          I tell people that the main reason that true-false and multiple choice type of education dominates American schools it because it is cheap and easy.
          Large class sizes are cheap.
          Small class sizes are expensive.
          The teacher’s edition book tells all the answers.
          Some teachers don’t understand the lessons themselves.

          So the quality of education is undermined for economic reasons.

        • Kodie

          I excelled in kindergarten because I had learned how to read from public television. The teacher would hand out a worksheet, and I finished mine before everyone else, it was so easy. I mean, imagine being 30 years old and not knowing what a triangle is. Can you think how often knowing what a triangle is comes up? I mean, it’s not a hard problem, but it almost never comes up. When am I ever going to use this? When someone makes you feel so fucking stupid for not even knowing something you can’t pass kindergarten without knowing. It comes up again several times throughout school, so you need to learn it in kindergarten to continue your education. I had a 12th grade English teacher…. we got elective English classes, they call it English Language Arts (as opposed to learning the English language) now, and I took Dramatics. I thought we would read plays, maybe act them out in front of each other. That’s basically how Poetry went, plus writing our own poems. No. My teacher decided, before we graduate, she was going to teach us grammar. Holy fuck. What is a noun, what is a verb, what is the subject, what is the predicate. You cannot get to 12th grade without learning this stuff. But you could still get to 12th grade (and you can have a decent job now, even) without knowing grammar. They teach and you don’t learn, you still somehow get to 12th grade where the English teacher with a mission wants to make sure no one goes out into the world without knowing the difference between an adverb and an adjective, and screw everyone who chose the class on purpose because they wanted to concentrate their English language education on plays.

          In retrospect, was that more worthwhile? One could say, that’s a basic skill everyone needs in every profession. Nobody should be 18 and think of going out into the world for a job or a college education without it. Then I got to my sophomore year in college and took a writing class. I almost feel like it was required or I wouldn’t have signed up for that. More fucking grammar. Jesus fuck. My take on education is – TEACH THE KIDS STUFF. If I didn’t repeat a grade, don’t repeat the fucking lesson. I had so much repeat education in 12 years of public school. Just teach us so we know, then move onto another subject. Stop filling up 12 years of babysitting by telling me the same story of photosynthesis 4 times, taking us to the planetarium every year to learn about constellations that don’t fucking matter, and nothing about chemistry or physics. In 12 years, my entire chemistry education that I remember is H2O is a water molecule, and the parts of an atom! To be fair, I was allowed to quit science after 10th grade, so I could have taken chemistry and physics, but the teaser of interminable biology and geology repeats wasn’t exactly intriguing.

          So, what you need to know is about 2 years worth of rigorous grammar and how to manage money, and civics, and of course statistics (which didn’t really come up until my junior year in college). In 7th grade, I had a math assignment to work out a mortgage, something else that might be useful (but not to me so far). Go nuts with a lot of subjects so people can find what’s interesting to them. I think first aid should be taught in school, and not elective extra-curricular. I know physical activity is important, but why PE was concentrated on this sport or that sport by quarter (outdoor/indoor/indoor/outdoor) instead of finding different fun things to make kids run around for 35 minutes twice a week. That’s why a lot of kids hate gym class, it’s just being forced to play soccer for 3 months until we go inside and play floor hockey. What the fuck was square dance about.

          School is done totally stupider than it needs to be because they don’t know how to change it, it’s bureaucracy. I feel very strongly in education and the power of knowledge, and teachers are amazing, but the whole system is fucked. We send our kids to school just like lapsed Catholics bring their kids to church. You did it and feel that it is fundamentally the right thing to do, or because you cannot afford private school and… most adults aren’t too fucked up, they’re not that fucking stupid from school, they just did it and their kids do it, because there isn’t a more capable institution for filtering a lot of forgettable and forgotten information to prepare young people for the future. Only a few will be curious enough to know stuff they want to know that makes the rest of us pretend we’re smarter because someone in the human species actually studied and got somewhere and made something of a rubbish education.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “Can you think how often knowing what a triangle is comes up? I mean, it’s not a hard problem, but it almost never comes up. When am I ever going to use this?”

          I use my knowledge of shapes (including triangles) all the time.

        • Kodie

          I think most people do not. I think most of the stuff you learn in school might snap into focus if you like a subject and pursue it more intensively, like whatever you need to know what a triangle is and more advanced geometry or mathematics. What I’m really talking about is all the stuff in school. You’re made to feel dumb if you never learned it or can’t remember it, but it otherwise isn’t useful to know. These are the essential things you need to know if you want to know the bare minimum of what everyone else also knows, so they know that you know, so they can deem you not totally stupid for not knowing it too, but you don’t use it at home or your job or when deciding who to vote for, or while cooking dinner. Sorry, do I need to know the capital of Iowa if I’m never going to Iowa? Just like any other adventure, I might look it up if I find some reason that I need or want to go to Iowa. I think it’s just enough to know there’s an Iowa, and where it roughly is on a map.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Our educational systems should be oriented more towards stimulating the student’s curiosity and then doing activities that will answer the questions that are created.

          True-false and multiple choice tests based upon memorization are the cheap and inferior education that we (all too often) get.

        • Chuck Johnson

          I do because I find geometry interesting, and it is useful for the science, engineering and technology that I have been doing since I was a child.

          There is a connection between finding something useful and finding that thing to be interesting.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “In retrospect, was that more worthwhile?”

          That’s not the important point of your story.
          The class title of Dramatics turned out to be a fraud, apparently.
          And nobody who mattered cared.
          Students don’t matter.

          That’s the important lesson here.

        • Kodie

          The teacher felt strongly that we did matter, and we did use grammar as a vehicle of performance. She just had been teaching so long, she couldn’t just test us and see whether we needed remedial grammar before letting us graduate. She thought if she didn’t make absolutely sure we knew grammar, we might graduate as total dummies. In my school, the final 3 semesters of high school English (Language Arts) were electives, but also it was a required course, unlike science and math, which one could elect to stop taking after 10th grade.

          That means, English Language Arts is a required course through 12 grade, but we could also take whatever appealed to us, so it is more like taking an art course (which is not required) than something actually useful. Social Studies was the same, but now they require Civics in 12th grade instead of elective (maybe ELA is also different now). We did not learn any plays (as opposed to classic novels in regular ELA). In Poetry, we learned poems, we learned formats of different poems, and required to keep a poetry journal which was not private. For a requirement, that seems kind of frivolous, compared to being required to buckle down and learn grammar before it’s too late.

        • Chuck Johnson

          In my grade-school days (1950s and 1960s) we didn’t get much choice.
          Grammar was included (which I didn’t much like) along with whatever type of poetry or literature they though of for that class.

          Our school (Ridgefield, CT) had a teacher exchange program with teachers from the UK.
          My English teacher was Priscilla Sears, a teacher from England, and she was exceptionally talented.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “Then I got to my sophomore year in college and took a writing class. I almost feel like it was required or I wouldn’t have signed up for that. More fucking grammar.”

          I fared better at Penn State.
          I took an English placement test as part of the application process and I got a high enough score that I never had a grammar course in college.
          Instead, I got a literature course with a small class size.
          We read books and discussed them.

        • Chuck Johnson

          “School is done totally stupider than it needs to be because they don’t know how to change it, it’s bureaucracy. I feel very strongly in education and the power of knowledge, and teachers are amazing, but the whole system is fucked.”

          Our educational systems need a lot of improvement.

          Also, many people have the idea that the education industry is the place where you learn, and outside of the system you do not learn much of anything. – – – That’s a big problem.

    • Phil Rimmer

      Work for the boss or work for yourself?

      Being given a purpose/meaning is like being given a job.

      I can’t help feeling there is an IQ thing in play here.

    • David Peebles

      I say this as a confirmed atheist, but it (disturbingly) seems a bit tinged with religious implications: Perhaps our lives do have a (more or less) ultimate meaning if we, as stardust transformed via chemistry into biological entities and through evolution into sentient beings, are an expression of the cosmos being alive and conscious; and as we inquire more and more deeply into the cosmos, in a sense the cosmos (through us) is becoming self aware. Our being alive is the evidence that the cosmos lives.

      And I would guess that the same process has happened, or is happening, or will happen on innumerable other planets

      Even though the vast majority of us are barely literate concerning the cosmos, we act as if we own it thanks to the scientific endeavor and daring of others. We do say “we have been to the moon” not because any but a handful have done so, but because we share in that yearning to grasp the cosmos. The astronauts’ exploits are our exploits. Mars, here we come.

      I hope someone can straighten out my confusion.

  • Jim Jones

    > Here Craig tips his hand. His life’s work has been dedicated to resolving that little boy’s fear of death.
    He might have shown the little boy how much better hi life is, thanks to science. And iron lung would do it.
    But instead he sells fear with lies.

    • Len

      “He sells fear with lies.”
      That pretty much sums up all religionists.

    • Phil Rimmer

      Like all advertisers he gives you fear and sells you a bogus antidote.

  • Hans-Richard Grümm

    What WLC implies that the existence of a creator god would give our lives an objective meaning. But that’s a false implication. All meanings are meanings according to someone (or a group); thus such a god could only give us meanings according to him, thus not objective ones.

    • Treyarnon

      Agreed, I’ve never understood why the meanings we give are subjective but god’s are supposedly objective. Neither are intrinsic and both are imputed.

  • Hɐlbe

    WLC here doesn’t even make a case for the veracity of his beliefs. He just desperately (and dishonestly) appeals to existential fears that people (may) have. It is extremely weak. And: I like the Norse afterlife for warriors killed in battle better than what WLC has to offer. And since the truth clearly hinges on my preferences regarding how the universe should work, I put my faith in Oden and Valhalla.

    • (hands Hɐlbe an all-access VIP pass for Asgard)

      • I prefer a sort of reincarnation at universal scale. Hopefully I’ll pop
        up again in a post-singularity society that has progressed much further
        in space than us.

        • That would be interesting. (Don’t know whether I would want to retain any of my current memories or start fresh, though.)

        • If sort of that happened, it would be starting from scratch. Even if somehow they survived to my death (any weird quantum phenomena related to information not being destroyed), there’s no way my current memories could be conserved and recalled to a place that could be millions of light-years from here and millions of years in the future. The Universe is after all ludicrously huge, and barring a Big Rip event or a vacuum collapse is still on its infancy.

          Either that or being an elf or a dragon in any of those fantasy settings (well, a dragon not that are hunted for sport by fucking adventurers for their treasures and XPs)

  • Anri

    “Your life is entirely meaningless unless you agree with what I say about the grand purpose of the universe. Oh, I’m very humble by the way.”

  • ThaneOfDrones

    Craig begins by recounting how he first learned as a child that life is
    finite. He said, “I was filled with fear and unbearable sadness.” That
    his own death was far in the future did nothing to allay the problem.
    Whether his death was hours or decades away didn’t matter—it was
    eternity or nothing.

    The debate tactic I plan to use if I ever debate WLC or someone like him:
    “Take out your wallet. How much cash do you have there? Is the value infinite? Is the value eternal?
    No? Well then, since the value is not infinite and not eternal, then it is of no value whatsoever to an absolutist like yourself. So please hand it to me. I know how to value something that is not infinite. That money will not feed me for eternity. It won’t even feed me for a lifetime. But I can buy lunch with it, and that is better than nothing at all.”

    • Greg G.

      Then there are Sunday sermons. The less value they have, the more they seem to last for eternity.

    • Joe

      He’s got plenty of cash, it’s the ranks of the gullible that seem to be infinite.

  • Joseph Patterson

    Isn’t a life that ends up in hell a meaningless life even if God exists? But man cannot live consistently and happily knowing that in the end there is a high probability that her very soul could spend an eternity in the fires of hell. “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.“Also according to many Christianities WLC is a heretic and headed to hell unless he repents and joins the right church.

    • Indeed. Who could ever top that? Yet a theist has told me how the damned would prefer Hell to nonexistence. I find it hard to take such a statement at all seriously.

      • Elizabeth A. Root

        Not me. Both of my parents had extended, painful deaths. Being dead doesn’t scare me, only the suffering of deterioration before I die.
        Sometimes, being dead sounds so peaceful.

        • Greg G.

          Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome. –Isaac Asimov

        • Elizabeth A. Root

          I don’t know which is cause and which effect, but it often seems to me and my friends that many (not all) of the people who believe in eternal life are the most afraid of death. I don’t know whether they believe because they’re afraid, or are frightened because they believe in hell, or whatever awaits sinners.

          Sometime in the 1970s, someone had put forth a hypothesis (one of many) that the universe wouldn’t collapse and restart, but spread out until entropy took over. A friend was very surprised that that I actually didn’t care which happened. I don’t even care that millions of years from now, the sun will expand and sterilize the earth. Not the sort of thing I worry about, expecting to be long dead by the time either thing that I can’t control happens.

          As I see it, the universe as a whole rolled along just fine before I was born, it would have been just fine if I had never been born, and it will roll along for quite a while after I’m dead. When an anti-abortion friend asked me, “What if you had never been born?” I assured him that I wouldn’t be complaining, He couldn’t argue with that.

        • MR

          It’s a very egocentric view. No one can even tell you who their 3rd-great grandmother was on their mother’s father’s mother’s mother’s side, but you should care to want to live forever. They don’t care that much about their own ancestry, but they instinctively know to try to appeal to your own ego. It’s savvy marketing.

        • Kodie

          Well, it’s not so much that they don’t care about their own ancestry, it’s that they realize no one living is going to remember them, so they hope they are more than just an index card in a file in a cabinet in a room nobody goes into.

          And for what it’s worth, I know genealogy is kind of a thing now, the shallow details about where you came from and who your ancestors were, like what their names were, who they married, the kinds of things that most searches turn up…. isn’t like to know them as a person. It might make it easier to learn about history if you become interested in a particular person’s family on a particular boat or their military service. We didn’t learn so much of that in school – we learned political history mostly – famous figures in famous wars, and not so much what it was like to live in certain places in certain times. You get that on PBS to some extent, but not in public school that I recall.

        • MR

          I guess my point is that the appeal to eternal life is a selfish appeal. People only care about themselves and the people they know. No one cares about those that have already gone past.

        • Kodie

          At my former address in a different state, I started a habit of taking a long walk every morning, and I used to walk up to this cemetery and take a big loop through it, sometimes different paths, and I think that was a weird thing for me to do when I think about it now. It’s not like there weren’t other parks, but I guess I thought there weren’t so many people at the cemetery. A lot of people dead over 100 years, nobody’s coming. One semi-famous grave, still not a lot of people realized it was there…. I know a lot of people would not travel specifically to visit it, but might if they were nearby, I think it would have been one of the few “landmarks” if you wanted something semi-interesting to show your out-of-town visitors, but probably not. I want to say, I think soldiers were buried in a specific area, because around the holidays, they were decorated, but some were not in that area, and not decorated who fought in the Civil War or the some other war. Like 1812 or something. I haven’t lived there in 15 years, and stopped my walks before then because it didn’t really inspire any other healthy habits like I hoped it would.

          Anyway, don’t you think it’s weird to sacredize (I feel like there’s a word for it I can’t think of) a plot of land for dead people no one remembers, and every once in a while, on the news, vandals knock over some gravestones, like, we only care because of how we’ve set aside little parts of the earth with little markers, this person used to be around, and don’t disturb this site, because people are not just a name in a file, we’ve established not only a way to hygienically dispose of the remains in a collection fenced off from the nearby living society, but someone paid for some kind of craftsman to indelibly etch into the stone on the earth that there used to be a person, and for how long they lived, and what relation they had to other people, so if someone wants a quiet walk, they might be noticed for another couple centuries.

          Do not get suckered into getting (yourself or your loved ones) buried up on a hill next to a tree with a scenic view. See if there’s any plots next to the path.

        • Greg G.

          sacredize

          Sanctify?

        • Kodie

          Let’s call the whole thing off.

        • westcoast77

          I’m glad I’m not as cynical as you about the dead. Maybe years of exposure to shinto in Japan colored my viewpoint. No doubt you’re thinking again how emotional I am, eh. There’s a lot to be learned from ancient Asian cultures.

        • MR

          I’m not the one who’s being cynical. My point is about Christians. I, in fact, do know who my 3rd-great grandmother was on their mother’s father’s mother’s mother’s side was.

          My point is that Christian appeals to eternal life are appeals to our own selfish desires. You should be able to appreciate that since you claim not to expect it.

        • Kodie

          Comforting fiction is still comforting fiction. It’s not cynical to recognize what’s real. You don’t care about the woman who assembled your sneakers. I think it’s REALLY MORE CYNICAL to say you care about people, use some “ancient Chinese secret” magical dust, and you actually don’t care about people in those Asian cultures who are used up as cheap labor tor the consumer goods you take for granted. You don’t care about souls or anything. You are whatcha-call, warm and fuzzy. It’s not cynical to see things as they actually are.

        • westcoast77

          Don’t stop there. Go back to your crystal ball and tell me more about what I think and feel.

        • Susan

          Go back to your crystal ball and tell me more about what I think and feel.

          You mean like this?

          There is nothing that scares atheists more than a brainy, well-educated person who is not atheist

        • westcoast77

          No, like this.

          You don’t care about the women who assembled your sneakers. I think it’s REALLY MORE CYNICAL to stay you care about people, use some “ancient Chinese secret” magical dust, and you actually don’t care about people in those Asian cultures who are used up as cheap labor for the consumer goods you take for granted. You don’t care about souls or anything.

        • Susan

          No, like this.

          More appropriately. Yes and like this.

          Mind reading seems to be perfectly acceptable when you do it.

          I agree that Kodie hasn’t shown a strong enough case to make the claims that she did.

          The points she brings up are important. But she hasn’t made the case.

          But neither have you.

          Just snide insinuations.

          Without a speck of evidence.

          When people made real efforts to engage with you, you punted to “great thinkers” without making a case, and accused us of incuriosity without making that case.

          And you conflated Lewis’s position with the RCC catechism without showing the connection.

          And ignored all the problems with Lewis and the RCC catechism (i.e. that they make claims they can’t support).

        • westcoast77

          No point pretending you’re trying to engage in reasoned debate when you’re just playing word games. I think you understood my suggestion of a similarity between that comment of Lewis’s, and a particular paragraph from the catechism. Both imply the voluntary nature of occupancy in hell. Supporting the claims of either source is not my interest or my responsibility.

          Yes, atheists fear intellectual religious people. All over the internet, atheists attack Christians usually by going after the low-hanging fruit, the most gullible and defenseless of simple people. Now this blogger sets his sights higher by focusing on Craig–a well-educated Christian philosopher/celebrity who thinks fast on his feet and whose mastery of the principles of logic was admired by Christopher Hitchens, among others. Mr. Seidensticker devoted three posts to Craig here. Why? He won’t change anyone’s mind. Firmly-entrenched atheists write predictably scornful comments. Non-atheists like me have heard it all before and remain unimpressed.

          Of course the blogger can write whatever he wants. But the fact that he devotes so much time and effort to debunking Craig suggests to me that my comment, which you find objectionable, is spot on. If Craig sees these posts, he’ll be thrilled with the attention, when in my view, he is best ignored.

        • Susan

          No point pretending you’re trying to engage in reasoned debate when you’re just playing word games.

          Really? With which words am I trying to play games? I never suggested that “catholic” and “Catholic” are the same. I think that was you. But give me an example.

          I think you understood my suggestion of a similarity between that comment of Lewis’s, and a particular paragraph from the catechism.

          You claimed that it was a “theological concept” and then said “It’s in the catechism.”

          Yes, atheists fear intellectual religious people.

          Atheists have no belief in (god)s. It is that simple. No one here has shown fear of anything. They have simply pointed out the lack of support for belief in (god)s. You have provided none.

          Mr. Seidensticker devoted three posts to Craig here. Why?</blockqjuote:

          Because these are defenses raised by christians when they are asked to defend their beliefs. Not all christians. There is the Chopreseque version that Hart does as well. One claim at a time is the best a blogger can do.

          He won’t change anyone’s mind.

          It certainly helps people who investigate the support for the claims that christians make. If you are interested in the support for christian claims, yes, it can change someone’s mind. That is the point in discussion.

          So far, you’ve provided no support. And when asked to provide some, just attacks on the character of people who don’t believe.

          the fact that he devotes so much time and effort to debunking Craig suggests to me that my comment, which you find objectionable, is spot on

          The fact that Craig is considered a “great thinker” by many means that it has to be addressed. Do you know how many christians cite Craig as the real deal and accuse atheists of dealing with “low-hanging fruit” if they don’t address his arguments?

          Plantinga is the very best and he’s shite on the subject of theism.

          So, when are you going to begin to support your claims?

        • Both imply the voluntary nature of occupancy in hell.

          How is hell voluntary given the parable of Lazarus and the rich man?

          Yes, atheists fear intellectual religious people.

          Give me some scary intellectual arguments. Let’s see how I respond.

          atheists attack Christians usually by going after the low-hanging fruit

          The very existence of apologetics reveals the problem.

          Mr. Seidensticker devoted three posts to Craig here. Why? He won’t change anyone’s mind.

          I thought you were open minded. Maybe not.

          Non-atheists like me have heard it all before and remain unimpressed.

          Cool. Take a few arguments and list the problems with them. Help us out.

          the fact that he devotes so much time and effort to debunking Craig suggests to me that my comment, which you find objectionable, is spot on.

          What was your comment?

          If Craig sees these posts, he’ll be thrilled with the attention

          You flatter me, but no, Craig doesn’t much care what atheists say about him.

        • westcoast77

          Atheists are part of Craig’s bread and butter. He seems to relish skewering them with his logic, as when he embarrassed a student who told him you can’t prove a negative. Obviously you have your reasons for writing about the man. Maybe you envision what you would say to him in a debate.

          My mind is open, but I have filters that sift out the superficial and try to retain the profound. I see nothing original or compelling in the way of argument here. The same tropes appear on virtually all atheist blogs, and you know what they are. One odd thing about this blog is that it has an unusual number of people who make inaccurate extrapolations from my words, then expect me to defend a conclusion I don’t hold. I don’t make truth claims about the NT, the voluntary-hell notion, or the catechism. If you or your readers want to know how voluntary-hell theorists square that idea with the parable of Jesus and Lazarus, you’ll have to ask them. Another example of a sort of semantic bait-and-switch is given a few paragraphs below.

          A few days ago I wrote here that I doubt there’s an afterlife. At most, I hope for a ground of being–not a super-being, not a sky-daddy or imaginary friend–but an ineffable, unifying meaning behind a world that sometimes seems like a three-ring shit-show. Exactly what that might be, I do not know. The 100% certainty with which some people assert their beliefs on spiritual topics is a source of bafflement to me. I don’t believe in an idyllic heaven or in endless torment. Sometimes I think eternal oblivion can’t come soon enough.

          I do not include myself among “scary intellectuals” arguing with atheists. Atheists fear the heavy hitters of theology and philosophy, some of whom I’ve named previously. A few (Dawkins, Hitchens) have admitted it, while others (Sam Harris, Lawrence Krauss) just look and act nervous in debates. Sam Harris, in a series of email exchanges with Andrew Sullivan, became increasing snarky to Dr. Sullivan as the latter scored points and maintained his composure. A sharp high school forensics league could demolish most of the erstwhile New Atheists and their admirers. While I do a lot of reading and discussion on the topics, my professional career was spent as an army infantry officer, and after military retirement, in upper management in state government. Alvin Plantinga and Daniel Dennett published “Science and Religion” a few years ago in an informal debate format. Maybe you’ve read it. Both distinguished themselves, but predictably, people decided who won or lost based on their previously-held opinions. Bishop Robert Barron would engage with you. You might learn from each other. If you haven’t visited his websites or YouTube channel, you might go there and check out the conversion experiences posted there by former atheists.

          An approach taken by some people writing here is not only to sweat the small stuff, but to completely misunderstand it and overreact accordingly. Someone responded to my brief inoffensive remark that there’s a lot to be learned from the ancient cultures of Asia by speculating that it was a “backhanded insult.” She made a reference to “ancient Chinese secret magical dust” that I didn’t understand, before accusing me of being a hypocrite who doesn’t care about Asians who make shoes. I have no idea where that came from. While I could still walk, I volunteered with PeaceTrees, and also briefly with an environmental group helping to clean up contaminated soil around Da Nang Harbor, where barrels of Agent Orange were abandoned after the US invasion. The barrels rusted and toxic dioxin leached into the soil and water, where it is still causing cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s, and birth defects–including the same constellation of heart defects which killed my second child at the age of eight days. I have a long, close personal involvement with Asia and Asians by virtue of living and working in Korea, Japan, and Vietnam for years. So yeah, no, the level of dialogue on this blog has not been edifying.

          Binary thinking is a stumbling block for people who suspect that anyone who isn’t atheist must be a Christian apologist, and probably a fundamentalist. There’s a population of atheists so thin-skinned that they take unintended personal umbrage at even bland comments. The problem is partly one of intolerance, as I see it, which is ironic since intolerance is a problem with many believers as well, and partly that they are not truly attentive to what other people are expressing. This intolerance can be seen in the contempt elicited by answers intended to be helpful or at least neutral, as when I noted that some of the NT words translated as sin actually have a milder meaning in Greek, e.g., to miss the mark. Maybe factual details bore people. Hyperbole seems to get more traction here.

          In short, this is a blog in which many readers want all the comments to toe the party line. There’s not much opportunity for genuine communication, and not much respect, for those with differing viewpoints.This is the extent to which I will respond to your issues. Let me know when you’re going to have a discussion with Bishop Barron and I’ll tune in.

        • epeeist

          Atheists are part of Craig’s bread and butter. He seems to relish skewering them with his logic

          He always seems well prepared, but to be blunt his debating points seem to be little more than Gish Gallops.

          Atheists fear the heavy hitters of theology and philosophy, some of whom I’ve named previously. A few (Dawkins, Hitchens) have admitted it,while others (Sam Harris, Lawrence Krauss) just look and act nervous in debates.

          So which are the “heavy hitters” on the theological side?

          Bishop Robert Barron would engage with you.

          Not since his lackey banned quite a number of us from the Strange Notions web site.

          There’s a population of atheists so thin-skinned that they take unintended personal umbrage at even bland comments.

          There’s an even bigger population of Christians who regard any questioning of their views as persecution, we have had quite a few of them here.

        • Pofarmer

          WLC seems well prepared because he pretty much repeats the same thing in every debate, even if that point was destroyed in the last debate, he trots it out again. It’s easy to declare victory that way.

        • epeeist

          WLC seems well prepared because he pretty much repeats the same thing in every debate

          Hmm yes, *cough* Vilenkin *cough*.

        • WLC was most outmatched IMO when he stepped into the ring to debate cosmology … with a cosmologist! Dr. Sean Carroll cleaned his clock.

          His armchair science works best against non-scientists, I’ve discovered. Weird.

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, but it doesn’t phase him. He’ll go out and repeat the same crap arguments in the next “debate” as if it never happened.

        • Hey, he got a degree in philosophy, not intellectual integrity.

        • Pofarmer

          Intellectual integrity would be a precious commodity in the apologetics field.

        • Kodie

          He’s trying to win a debate, not learn anything. Besides, we use the same counter-arguments on theists and it doesn’t sink in. There’s a chance he’s not learning anything anyway.

        • Pofarmer

          Good point.

        • Pofarmer

          . Bishop Robert Barron would engage with you.

          No, he wouldn’t. If you attempt to interact with him he’ll simply ban you.

          Peruse the Catholic Channel on Patheos and see how many sites have comments disable. There are many more who censor comments so hard that there are effectively no comments.

          ,i>In short, this is a blog in which many readers want all the comments to toe the party line.

          Then it sure is a good thing that you’re here to dazzle us with your brilliance.

          There’s a population of atheists so thin-skinned that they take unintended personal umbrage at even bland comments.

          This is kinda rich, coming from someone sticking up for a religious tradition that invented the Inquisition.

        • MR

          You always seem to have a lot to say, but you never support your beliefs. You try to play on emotions, and when that doesn’t work you insult and hand wave toward “great thinkers” who are just as lacking in evidence. I don’t care about the great thinkers, even great thinkers can be wrong. I care about great arguments. “I made a priest cry” is not a great argument. Craig’s arguments are not great arguments.

          Why do you believe? How do you support it. If you could be wrong, why do you even imagine we should believe you? Why do you even continue to believe yourself? You yourself said you could be wrong. That’s not very convincing. What constitutes good evidence to believe something? How do you prevent yourself from being fooled?

        • Atheists are part of Craig’s bread and butter.

          Atheists are part of Craig’s shtick. His audience is Christians. Converting atheists is tertiary.

          He seems to relish skewering them with his logic, as when he embarrassed a student who told him you can’t prove a negative.

          Sure, you can cherry pick the weakest, most poorly thought out arguments and thrash them. Kinda cheating though, isn’t it?

          I see nothing original or compelling in the way of argument here.

          Then it shouldn’t be hard to illuminate the errors in the posts here. Is that not something you like to do?

          I don’t make truth claims about the NT, the voluntary-hell notion, or the catechism.

          Then what topics would you like to talk about?

          Another example of a sort of semantic bait-and-switch is given a few paragraphs below.

          Bait and switch? Maybe people are confused about your beliefs and why you’re here. I bet you could go a long way to make that clear. You’re the new guy, so you’re going to have to go the extra mile to make your position clear, especially if you’re easily miscategorized.

          At most, I hope for a ground of being–not a super-being, not a sky-daddy or imaginary friend–but an ineffable, unifying meaning behind a world that sometimes seems like a three-ring shit-show. Exactly what that might be, I do not know.

          I hear you. Does this sound fuzzy to you, too?

          Atheists fear the heavy hitters of theology and philosophy, some of whom I’ve named previously.

          Again, I’m not seeing this. The closest I’ve seen is Dawkins refusing to be part of WLC’s show. Maybe Dawkins doesn’t feel comfortable debating; maybe he knows that one’s performance is irrelevant and WLC would crow about the results no matter what.

          A sharp high school forensics league could demolish most of the erstwhile New Atheists and their admirers.

          We don’t have high school debaters here, alas; we just have you. You’re not going to fill in?

          predictably, people decided who won or lost based on their previously-held opinions.

          Yes, that’s how these things work.

          Bishop Robert Barron would engage with you. You might learn from each other.

          Bishop Barron, you, or indeed any Christian is welcome to come here. I’ve been doing this for years, and there’s surely enough material to find interesting things to respond to. Consider the first volley fired.

          If you haven’t visited his websites or YouTube channel, you might go there and check out the conversion experiences posted there by former atheists.

          Can you recommend something in particular? “You ought to check out his stuff” is too vague.

          An approach taken by some people writing here is not only to sweat the small stuff, but to completely misunderstand it and overreact accordingly.

          Yeah, it’s the internet.

          So yeah, no, the level of dialogue on this blog has not been edifying.

          Find a more interesting topic. There’s the All Posts tab on the top and the “Search this blog” box along the right side.

          Binary thinking is a stumbling block for people who suspect that anyone who isn’t atheist must be a Christian apologist, and probably a fundamentalist.

          Binary thinking usually works here. Sometimes it doesn’t. If you’re an outlier, help us out by clarifying (perhaps repeatedly) where you’re coming from.

          There’s a population of atheists so thin-skinned that they take unintended personal umbrage at even bland comments.

          That’s a shame. But keep in mind that atheists are in a minority in the US, and it can be invigorating when they find an atheist oasis. Still, polite and thoughtful Christians (or whatever you are) can get a hearing. We get lots of angry Christians, so that will make it a little difficult. Persevere.

        • MR

          At most, I hope for a ground of being–not a super-being, not a sky-daddy or imaginary friend–but an ineffable, unifying meaning….

          I missed this in the wall of text. I am continually amazed at people who seem to be quite willing to believe something on an “I hope for.”

          I hope for is not evidence. I hope for is wishful thinking!

        • Agreed. And problem 2 is: what’s a “ground of being”? And how would we know if one existed?

        • Susan

          I hope for is not evidence. I hope for is wishful thinking!

          There is also the problem that “ineffable, unifying meaning” appears to be a wall of drivel.

          An impenetrable deepity.

        • Pofarmer

          A black hole of stupid.

        • Kodie

          Your perception of how atheists are frightened, and mischaracterizing my comment to you, when I explained it to you, just tells me to lump you with dummy un-intellectual Christian apologists who work off the power of suggestion and rumor. Christians hate atheists and tell you lies, and of course, when you encounter atheists, your impressions aren’t uncolored or unprejudiced already, you see what you want to see and confirm your bias – just like they wanted you to. They cannot afford to lose you to critical thinking.

        • rationalobservations?
        • Weren’t you going to give a convincing case that no Pauline manuscript dates to before 300?

        • rationalobservations?

          Wow – you got through those links and the links within the links very rapidly, Bob!

          The oldest fragment is still claimed to be P52 but without the destructive method of carbon dating, the date of fabrication must remain a matter of scholarly considered conjecture.
          As I have said many times – even if could be proved that the small scrap of papyrus that only measures 8.9 x 6.0 cm and contains so fewer scrawled and semi literate characters was validated as mid second century fabrication – that would not be evidence of the existence of characters and events in later more lengthy and ever exaggerated fables that are merely attributed to the first three decades of what became the “1st century” only in what at the same time became the “8th century”.
          There remains to tangible and authenticated evidence of the existence and adventures of “Jesus” that are contemporaneous to the time in which those legends are merely set but in which no historical evidence has ever been discovered.

          https://vridar.org/2013/03/08/new-date-for-that-st-johns-fragment-rylands-library-papyrus-p52/

          https://poj.peeters-leuven.be/content.php?url=article&id=2957937&journal_code=ETL

          https://www.academia.edu/436092/The_Use_and_Abuse_of_P52_Papyrological_Pitfalls_in_the_Dating_of_the_Fourth_Gospel

          https://sites.dartmouth.edu/ancientbooks/2016/05/23/67/

          https://www.library.manchester.ac.uk/search-resources/special-collections/guide-to-special-collections/st-john-fragment/what-is-the-significance/

        • Are you backing away from your claim? Looks like it.

          Look–I’d love to find new arguments with which to skewer Christians. I’m just not going to make a claim that doesn’t have strong evidence behind it. That’s what the Christians do.

        • rationalobservations?

          I’m not backing away from anything, Bob.

          Did you read all that I linked to?

        • Nope. Why should I? What I’m looking for should be quite easy for you to provide: a clear statement of your claim about he earliest Paul manuscripts and backup for that statement. A blizzard of links is exactly what I’m not looking for.

        • rationalobservations?

          “Nope. Why should I?”
          That is more like an answer from a thoroughly indoctrinated religionist than an open minded seeker after knowledge and truth.

          “Clear statements” are what the indoctrinated offer. Science and history are much more messy and obscured by millennia of myths, legends and lies.

          I have spent (wasted?) decades searching and researching in locations around the world and more recently sifting through the myths, legends and lies on the www for things that ring true and are supported by cross referencing that evidence from which the things that ring true have been deduced.

          I wonder if you will have the patience to read the treatise at the end of this link, Bob?
          https://www.religion-online.org/article/the-oldest-extant-editions-of-the-letters-of-paul/

          Best wishes to you and yours my friend
          RO?

        • That is more like an answer from a thoroughly indoctrinated religionist than an open minded seeker after knowledge and truth.

          I have about 100x more input than I can process, so I must prioritize. This question isn’t worth the work that you’re making it. I’m simply asking you to back up your claims. Not a fair request? It’s what I demand of the Christians.

          I have spent (wasted?) decades searching and researching in locations around the world and more recently sifting through the myths, legends and lies on the www for things that ring true and are supported by cross referencing that evidence from which the things that ring true have been deduced.

          “Because rationalobservations said so” isn’t worth anything to me. Sorry. If you can’t put the fruits of your labors into a verifiable format, then I can’t use it.

        • rationalobservations?

          I am sorry that you don’t have the time to check even the one link in the entry you respond to.
          I am not worried that you do not wish to pass on my evidence based observations because you haven’t the time to sift through the mountain of evidence that I have condensed into observations that no religionists has ever contradicted through evidence.

          I am appalled by the idea that anyone would think that “because Rationalobservations says so” is any sort of argument. It ranks with: “because my version of bible says so” as a non argument for anything but gullibility.

          Keep up the good work, Bob. Best wishes to you and yours, my friend.

        • rationalobservations?

          “Nope. Why should I?”
          That is more like an answer from a thoroughly indoctrinated religionist than an open minded seeker after knowledge and truth.

          “Clear statements” are what the indoctrinated offer. Science and history are much more messy and obscured by millennia of myths, legends and lies.

          I have spent (wasted?) decades searching and researching in locations around the world and more recently sifting through the myths, legends and lies on the www for things that ring true and are supported by cross referencing that evidence from which the things that ring true have been deduced.

          I wonder if you will have the curiosity to read the treatise at the end of this link, Bob?
          https://www.religion-online.org/article/the-oldest-extant-editions-of-the-letters-of-paul/

          Best wishes to you and yours my friend
          RO?

        • rationalobservations?

          A pretty clear statement could have been read within one of the key links presented previously:

          “There are no first century New Testament papyri .
          Biblical scholars should realise that some of the dates proposed by some of their colleagues are not acceptable to Greek palaeographers and papyrologists.”

        • There are no first century New Testament papyri .
          Biblical scholars should realise that some of the dates proposed by some of their colleagues are not acceptable to Greek palaeographers and papyrologists.

          Yes, I know all this. This isn’t the question.

        • rationalobservations?

          All the best, Bob.

        • Greg G.

          There are no first century New Testament papyri .

          Papyrus is fairly stable in low humidity environments but is susceptible to mold in humid climates, so it rarely lasts more than a couple of centuries outside of Egypt. The lack of papyri on a particular topic found outside of Egypt does not imply that there were no writings on that particular subject anywhere.

          Many of the papyri are of the Gospel of John. Since they cannot all be the original Gospel of John, the gJohn must be earlier than the earliest papyrus of gJohn. A Gospel of John implies and earlier Gospel of Mark.

        • rationalobservations?

          That there are no first century New Testament papyri mentioning “Jesus” is a fact.
          That is however not the only absence of evidence. There is absolute, total and complete historical silence concerning the remarkable “Jesus” and his very newsworthy (centuries later written) adventures and exploits.

          No authentic and original 1st century originated text mentions “Jesus”.
          No authentic and original 1st century originated inscription mentions “Jesus”.
          No letter from any politician, clerk, historian, poet or chronicler mentions “Jesus””
          No authentic and original 1st century originated graffito mentions “Jesus”.

          Your use of the word “implies” is telling. Without evidence of any description, the later written legends stand alone and any implication attached to much changed and evolved texts that first appeared in late 4th century fabricated bibles has no impact upon the absence of evidence supporting those first bibles or the very different bibles that are circulated today.

          The oldest 4th century founded christian Church agrees, saying:

          “Our documentary sources of knowledge about the origins of Christianity and its earliest development are chiefly the New Testament Scriptures, the authenticity of which we must, to a great extent, take for granted.”
          (Catholic Encyclopedia, Farley ed., vol. iii, p. 712)

          The Church makes extraordinary admissions about its New Testament. For example, when discussing the origin of those writings,

          “the most distinguished body of academic opinion ever assembled” (Catholic Encyclopedias, Preface) admits that the Gospels “do not go back to the first century of the Christian era”

          (Catholic Encyclopedia, Farley ed., vol. vi, p. 137, pp. 655-6).

          This statement conflicts with priesthood assertions that the earliest Gospels were progressively written during the decades following the death of the Gospel Jesus Christ.

          In a remarkable aside, the Church further admits that,

          “the earliest of the extant manuscripts [of the New Testament], it is true, do not date back beyond the middle of the fourth century AD”

          (Catholic Encyclopedia, op. cit., pp. 656-7).

          http://www.southernprose.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/zEW3q-300×219.jpg

        • Greg G.

          We have no dispute about whether Jesus existed. We both think he was invented.

          That is however not the only absence of evidence.

          Absence of evidence is evidence of absence only if there should be evidence. Absence of first century papyri in Egypt could mean that the myth didn’t arrive there in the first century. Absence of papyri almost anywhere else that is more than three centuries old is what we would expect as humidity enables mold to eat papyrus. So “No authentic and original 1st century” does not mean that there was none.

          The way you jump on my use of the word “implies” is telling that you are not thinking in the logical sense of the word.

          It has been pointed out to you that the Catholic Encyclopedia you keep citing is more than a century old so it is missing most of the 20th century findings and is mostly based on 19th century research. You should do better than that.

          2 Corinthians 11:32 (NRSV)32 In Damascus, the governor under King Aretas guarded the city of Damascus in order to seize me,

          If this verse is accurate, Paul was writing in the first century BC. Aretas !V was the Nabatean king for nearly 50 years from 9 BC to 40 AD, but Syria and Damacus was under Roman control from the middle of the first century BC on. Aretas III controlled Damascus before that for several years.

          If the story was being invented in the fourth century as you suggest, the forgers would have to know the history of the region in the first century even better than the people of the first century would know. Josephus described how Pompey took Damascus in Jewish Wars 1.6.4-5 (§131-137).

          I have visited 42 states in the US and many cities. I can tell you who was mayor in probably no cities and who was governor in no states of any of them from visits 15 or 20 years ago. So I can understand how Paul might have made the mistake of naming the wrong ruler if he wrote before Josephus wrote Jewish Wars.

          I see many places where the Gospel of Mark relies on Jewish Wars but probably not Antiquities of the Jews while Matthew and Luke obviously relied on Antiquities of the Jews but probably not Jewish Wars. Luke also used Josephus’ autobiography. The Gospel of John may have used other sources but no apparent uses of Josephus.

          I can see how Mark might have written after Josephus released Jewish Wars and before Antiquities of the Jews while Matthew and Luke may have only had Antiquities of the Jews. But if these gospels were written around the fourth century in a conspiracy, it is likely that the forgers would have had all of the source material and would not have used Mark as a basis.

          The Gospel of John is a mess. Jesus get baptized at Bethany beyond Jordan, picks up a few dudes, then to Cana in Galilee up to Jerusalem for the temple tantrum, then to the land of Judea as if Jerusalem was not in Judea, then to Galilee via Samaria, then back to Cana, back to Jerusalem in chapter 5 and chapter 6 has him on the other side of the sea of Galilee.

          Maybe the chapters got messed up. That is more likely to have happened if it was written a few centuries before it was put into Sinaiticus.

          1 Corinthians 10:18-22 flows easily into 1 Corinthians 11:30-31, completing a pattern of exhortation, rhetorical question, and an answer that uses similar metaphors as the question. So it appear to be a seam for an interpolation. It is filled with repetitous topics from earlier chapters, some 1 Timothy-like stuff, and something that looks like it was copied from Luke’s version of the Last Supper.

          But it seems that the Gospel of Mark was somewhat dependent on 1 Corinthians and Luke was certainly dependent on Mark. That seems unlikely if it was all put together in the fourth century without there being earlier writings.

          The all-done-in-the-fourth-century-theory doesn’t pass the sniff test.

        • Pofarmer

          Or if “Paul” is writing much earlier than originally thought.

        • rationalobservations?

          “If the story was being invented in the fourth century as you suggest, the forgers would have to know the history of the region in the first century even better than the people of the first century would know. Josephus described how Pompey took Damascus in Jewish Wars 1.6.4-5 (§131-137).”

          Where did I suggest that the oldest / first bibles were invented by their writers? All straw man non-arguments offend me.

          I am always very careful to stick to evidence supported facts and due to the absolute and complete absence of significant evidence of the origin of the stories contained in the oldest bibles – it would be pure speculation as to where those fables and legends originated.

          Real people and places have been included within many works of fiction and without historical evidence of other people and events within apparent fiction – it is pure speculation to add credibility to the fiction due to the smattering of fact within that apparent fiction.

          It is interesting to note that the reference you quote (2 Corinthians 11:32) from a version of bible first published in 1989 is entirely similar to the same verse in the oldest bible fabricated in the late 4th century when so much else of the apparent fiction is different between them.

          “If this verse (2 Corinthians 11:32 (NRSV)) is accurate, Paul was writing in the first century BC. Aretas !V was the Nabatean king for nearly 50 years from 9 BC to 40 AD, but Syria and Damacus was under Roman control from the middle of the first century BC on. Aretas III controlled Damascus before that for several years.”
          The verse appears to be accurate but there is no evidence of the existence or writings of “Paul” from within the 1st century.

          Every single person and text you quote first appeared centuries after the time in which the alleged author died.
          The oldest version of “Paul” can be found in Codex Sinaiticus written in the late 4th cntury.
          The oldest individual documents attributed to Paul date from many centuries after the death of Paul.
          See: https://www.religion-online.org/article/the-oldest-extant-editions-of-the-letters-of-paul/

          The oldest manuscripts of the works of Josephus in their original language of Greek date to the tenth and eleventh centuries.
          See: http://www.tertullian.org/rpearse/manuscripts/josephus_antiquities.htm

          You offer some “maybes” and assorted assumptions, presumptions and suppositions – but speculation is not evidence based.

        • Greg G.

          Where did I suggest that the oldest / first bibles were invented by their writers? All straw man non-arguments offend me.

          On May 15, you posted http://disq.us/p/21t02ci :

          How do I know that the late 4th century originated Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vatican’s are the world’s oldest bibles? Because no one has discovered any older books or identical/near identical texts.

          All else is assumption, presumption and supposition.

          Evidence supported facts are infinitely more reliable than wishful thinking, guesswork or propaganda.

          That was responding to “How do you know these were prototype bibles? There may have been many collections before them that were lost to fire, decay, or recycling.” (You added another paragraph after the first without noting the edit.) Allowing that “infinitely more reliable” as hyperbole, you still equated “assumption, presumption and supposition” with “wishful thinking, guesswork or propaganda” in favor of evidence.

          Every time I have suggested that there were copies of the gospels and epistles in collection before the CS, you have argued against it. You haven’t even admitted that there might have been a first draft of one or two of the books in the CS, and you can’t do that and be consistent because it would be “assumption, presumption and supposition” and “wishful thinking, guesswork or propaganda”.

          I am always very careful to stick to evidence supported facts and due to the absolute and complete absence of significant evidence of the origin of the stories contained in the oldest bibles – it would be pure speculation as to where those fables and legends originated.

          History is a probability game. You stick to evidence, but you assume you have sufficient evidence to know what actually happened. Historians don’t do that. They know there could be more and better evidence yet to be found. You don’t appear to know your terminus ante quem from a hole in the ground. If you have a collection of writings that can be reliably dated, then that date is the terminus ante quem, the latest possible date for each of the writings. If you can reliably date a reference to a writing, then that date is the terminus ante quem for that particular writing. But you treat a reliable date for a manuscript to be the terminus post quem, the earliest possible date. You refuse to consider the far more likely situation that the oldest example is a copy of the original, or a copy of a copy of a copy. You rely on century old knowledge when you cite the Catholic Encyclopedia. That is not how historians work. That is how crazy conspiracy theorists work.

          The oldest version of “Paul” can be found in Codex Sinaiticus written in the late 4th cntury (sic).

          Did you get that from the Catholic Encyclopedia? The P46 has Romans through 1 Thessalonians and is dated to 200 AD, and to the late third century by a few.

          The oldest manuscripts of the works of Josephus in their original language of Greek date to the tenth and eleventh centuries.

          There is a Latin version from the fifth century, which means there was a Greek version earlier than that.

          Your methodology guarantees that you will draw incorrect conclusions unless you just happen to have an actual first manuscript version of a document. Your methodology is inappropriate for writings in excess of a thousand years old. Maybe you could stick to the Declaration of Independence.

        • rationalobservations?

          You write: “How do you know these were prototype bibles? There may have been many collections before them that were lost to fire, decay, or recycling.”
          Present evidence of the existence of older bibles? Otherwise your “may have been” remains unsupported.

          You write: The P46 has Romans through 1 Thessalonians and is dated to 200 AD, and to the late third century by a few.
          Yes, I know that many of the fragments of pre-4th century texts are dated to 3rd and 4th century. Your challenge remains to present authentic and original, 1st century originated evidence of the existence and exploits of “Jesus”. You have so far failed spectacularly to do so.

          You write: “There is a Latin version (of Josephus) from the fifth century, which means there was a Greek version earlier than that.”

          What is the significance of a 5th century originated document with regard to a 4th century originated religion and 4th century originated bibles that are so different from modern bibles?
          What evidence of an earlier “Greek version” cab you offer and where is the evidence conserved? All this opinion and speculation does your cause no credit at all!

          You offer only assumption, presumption, supposition and opinion regarding other people’s assumption, presumption, supposition and opinion.

          You have failed to present the actual, tangible, authentic and original EVIDENCE you lie about.

        • Greg G.

          Present evidence of the existence of older bibles? Otherwise your “may have been” remains unsupported.

          P46 is a collection of epistles. That is more like a prototype than Sinaiticus.

          Yes, I know that many of the fragments of pre-4th century texts are dated to 3rd and 4th century.

          That undercuts your claims.

          Your challenge remains to present authentic and original, 1st century originated evidence of the existence and exploits of “Jesus”. You have so far failed spectacularly to do so.

          I haven’t failed because that is not my challenge because that is not my claim.

          What is the significance of a 5th century originated document with regard to a 4th century originated religion and 4th century originated bibles that are so different from modern bibles?

          I was showing that you are cherry picking evidence and ignoring counter-evidence.

          What evidence of an earlier “Greek version” cab you offer and where is the evidence conserved? All this opinion and speculation does your cause no credit at all!

          Wars and Antiquities both say that they were written in Greek.

          You offer only assumption, presumption, supposition and opinion regarding other people’s assumption, presumption, supposition and opinion.

          The word you are looking for is “inference”. It is not a dirty word. It is how rational people do history.

          You have failed to present the actual, tangible, authentic and original EVIDENCE you lie about.

          That is pathetic. I am questioning your conclusions. You have shown that you are incapable of doing logical inference from the evidence.

        • rationalobservations?

          With all due respect, Greg – I referenced the oldest/first BIBLES and no one (including you) has named older bibles than Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus. Both written by different small groups of anonymous scribes toward the end of the 4th century.

          Even though you decline to accept it: The challenge remains to present authentic and original, 1st century originated evidence of the existence and exploits of “Jesus”. All have so far failed spectacularly to do so.

          Nit picking about diverse and very different scraps of text (that are the subject of scientific controversy regarding the date of origination) has little relevance to the undoubted 4th century origin of all modern businesses of christianity and the fabrication of the first book form bibles shortly thereafter…

          https://vridar.org/2013/03/08/new-date-for-that-st-johns-fragment-rylands-library-papyrus-p52/

        • Greg G.

          With all due respect, Greg – I referenced the oldest/first BIBLES and no one (including you) has named older bibles than Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus. Both written by different small groups of anonymous scribes toward the end of the 4th century.

          I have owned cars built of steel in the last forty years that no longer exist. Do you think parchment and paper is indestructible? Should every Bible manuscript be expected to last for centuries? It takes a very dry climate just to have a scrap of a parchment manuscript survive.

          Even though you decline to accept it:

          I don’t accept it because I do not expect anything like that to exist. They would not have been plentiful in the first century and not likely to have been kept dry if they did. They had to replace manuscripts continuously by rewriting them. Why would anybody want to keep a crumbling old document, especially if they didn’t have a long history and were expecting the Messiah to come at any time?

          Nit picking about diverse and very different scraps of text (that are the subject of scientific controversy regarding the date of origination) has little relevance to the undoubted 4th century origin of all modern businesses of christianity and the fabrication of the first book form bibles shortly thereafter…

          Do you think those parchment fragments are the original documents? Nobody else does. They think they are copies of copies. If they are not original documents, then the originals are older than the scraps.

        • rationalobservations?

          Once again you offer only speculation, supposition, assumption and presumption.

          Ps.That old car of yours probably ended up as refrigerators or razorblades.
          Not that this has any relevance to the complete, utter and absolute absence of evidence of the existence of “Jesus”.

        • Rudy R

          …atheists fear intellectual religious people

          Well, we don’t fear you, so you must not be an intellectual religious person. Are you one of those gullible and defenseless simple people you speak of?

        • MR

          yes

        • MR

          Craig’s a bit of a charlatan. As you said, he thinks fast in his feet. That’s the mark of a charlatan. I want a good argument, not someone who’s trying to con me. Was it in this article where Bob catches him conflating terms? You act like we’re afraid of him when it’s just that we can see through him.

          No point pretending you’re trying to engage in reasoned debate when you’re just playing word games.

          You’re accusing people of your own shortcomings. When it comes to reasoned debate you flee the camp. Why do you believe and hope do you support it? Why do you continue to believe something when you admit you could be wrong? How do you protect yourself from deceiving yourself?

        • Kodie

          When you say things like “There’s a lot to be learned from ancient Asian cultures” and say you’re glad you’re not as cynical about the dead, I really don’t know what kind of backhanded insult that’s supposed to be. Earlier you said what Susan quoted, and I think, despite she says I didn’t make my case, the common thread here is hypocrisy. You have a bias against atheists and I said something kind of jarring and upsetting. Susan said it more patiently, but you still didn’t get it. Christians have this weird way of thinking they make sense when they’re repeating blanket judgments that come from the elders of your religion, a prejudice you did not come here to be disabused of. Please try to stop insulting people and calling them names if you don’t want to be summed up in kind.

        • westcoast77

          You said it: you really don’t understand. It was not a backhanded insult. It was a statement of my thoughts, based on a long lifetime of experience which is very different from yours. Your validation is not required.

          I lived for years in Okinawa and also mainland Japan, as well as Daegu, Yeong Tae Ri, and Seoul, ROK. I spent a year fighting in Vietnam.I have a Korean Buddhist son-in-law. For over a decade, I lived in Asia with people who practice religions which incorporate great reverence for ancestors. These religions include Shinto, several schools of Buddhism, and unnamed syncretic folk religions.

          Do you believe that MR is correct that “no one cares about those who have gone before,” or do you think, as I do, that that’s a cynical attitude? Do you disagree that “we can learn a lot from ancient Asian cultures?”

          Also, what is the meaning of this bizarre term you used?

          ancient Chinese secret magical dust

          Kind of insensitive, don’t you think?

        • Kodie

          Lots of cultures have great reverence for ancestors, just not necessariliy individuals. Generic “elders” or something. Some cultures treasure their living elder persons more than others. That doesn’t mean those cultures are pristine. That doesn’t mean acknowledging that most people forget about their ancestors by a couple of generations is cynical. That doesn’t mean Asian cultures are really on the ball, especially where humane labor laws are concerned. So you admire the way they revere the dead more than the children.

          I put the thing in quotes, it’s from a laundry commercial, i.e. the way you revere the Asian cultures for how they acknowledge the dead and ignore the Asian punishment for being alive. Who is insensitive? There is a real phenomenon of stereotyping Asians for their mysterious secret wisdom, which is something you pretty much referred to.

        • Kodie

          What objection did you have to the comment you called “cynical”?

        • Yes, my mom’s parents had similar experiences. There’s worse than death that can happen.

      • And CS Lewis said that the gates of hell are barred from the inside. One wonders if he’s ever read the NT.

        • I Came To Bring The Paine

          CS Lewis said that the gates of hell are barred from the inside.

          How would he know? Did he try really hard to break in? I guess he couldn’t get into Heaven either, because the bouncer, Pete, wouldn’t let him in because, to paraphrase Mark Twain, “his theology wadn’t straight.”

        • ThaneOfDrones

          (Ken Ham mode) Was he there?

        • westcoast77

          Lewis may have had in mind the theological proposition that hell is merely voluntary separation from God.

        • Susan

          the theological proposition that hell is merely voluntary separation from God.

          A proposition based on the existence of Yahwehjesus, an agent, for which there is no support.

          If you want to call it a metaphor, (I’m not assuming you are, but based on your previous comments, I accept it as a possibility), it’s not a very good one. It’s misleading.

        • westcoast77

          It’s from the Catholic Catechism, Susan. I doubt that it’s intended metaphorically, but as I wrote earlier, I’m not counting on any afterlife, and I’m fine with that.

        • Susan

          It’s from the Catholic Catechism, Susan.

          When Lewis wrote about it? Where was it in the catholic catechism when Lewis wrote his article?

          I doubt that it’s intended metaphorically,

          I’m fairly certain the RCC does not intend very much metaphorically.

          I’m not counting on any afterlife, and I’m fine with that.

          That’s reasonable.

          But the RCC has made a fortune off the claim of an afterlife for a very long time.

          As I said, I doubt Lewis meant it in a metaphorical sense.

          “Theology” in the RCC sense is a claim that an agent exists, and that we have souls and that many harmless acts are “sins” against that agent.

          I’m glad you found strategies to deal with the horrors you have had to live with from Viet Nam. I’m afraid that human history is rife with that sort of unspeakable psychological torment. You’re entitled to that.

          But Lewis was claiming an agent existed and making arguments from that assumption.

          And I’m not sure the catechism supported him at the time.

          I would appreciate a link to the catechism in 2019 that supports Lewis’s claim.

          Not because I necessarily doubt you but because I would like to be able to refer to it.

        • MR

          It appears that he’s just making his own sect of Catholicism. On what grounds do we believe him over the historical RCC over any other claim?

        • Susan

          It appears that he’s just making his own sect of Catholicism.

          I am not familiar with any “theological” claim by the RCC when Lewis wrote his paper that is consistent with Lewis’s claims. Lewis was a heretic in many ways (and still is) but catholic apologists refer to him when it’s convenient to do so.

          Not saying wc77 is trying to be “convenient”. He seems fairly sincere.

          Also, I don’t see the RCC being very consistent with the “catholic” part of being “Catholic” in any recent history.

          I can understand that the shit you would have to do endure in a terrible “war” against innocent people in the line of duty might mean you have a deeply human interaction with a priest many years later (many decent priests exist) who cares deeply about the people with whom he interacts and looks for solutions to their situations.

          But the RCC claims that Yahwehjesus exists, that souls exist, that women shouldn’t use birth control, that husbands of those women should not use birth control, that women should carry pregnancies to death, if their souls require it, that gays should never be allowed to engage in bonded, sexual relationships, that no one should ever masturbate, lest they put their eternal “souls” at risk.. etc.

          Hart is just a lot of woo based on the “Ground-of-All-Being”.

          Hart’s not stupid. Just meaningless, if you read him. That is, evasive, and aimed at inferring a specific agent because something exists.

          Meaningless deepity aimed at claiming Yahwehjesus exists and at evading support for that claim.

        • westcoast77

          Unless you’re a mind reader, Susan, you don’t understand anything about me, based on your comments. Too many atheists ask questions, and when thoughtful answers are provided, superficially dismiss them out of hand. No, Hart is not stupid. At least you understand that much.

        • Susan

          Unless you’re a mind reader, Susan, you don’t understand anything about me,

          I can only respond to what you’ve explained about your position.

          And compare it to RCC claims.

          Those are two separate issues. That you’ve found comfort and/or meaning in RCC claims is important. Also, irrelevant until you address those claims, if you think anyone should take those claims seriously.

          Too many atheists ask questions, and when thoughtful answers are provided, superficially dismiss them out of hand.

          Where did I superficially dismiss your answers?

          I am simply saying that you finding psychological solace in your experiences does not mean Yahwehjesus exists. Which is what the RCC insists is true.

          No, Hart is not stupid.

          Nope.

          At least you understand that much.

          What exactly is he claiming and how does he support it?

        • westcoast77

          Look at the link I provided Susan. The whole Catechism is available online if you’re curious. But I fear that neither you, nor Susan, nor many of the atheists here are really curious. You want to sum up, categorize, pigeonhole, and then superciliously judge all who do not concur with your notions.

          From a few lines of type, you make assumptions, jump to conclusions, and presume to analyze my deepest motives, thoughts, and feelings. Confirmation bias is not conducive to an open mind or an exchange of worthwhile ideas. Some commenters here are just taking turns validating each other’s nonbelief, and patting themselves on the back about how dumb everyone else is. I’m one of the few people on this particular thread honest enough to admit that neither I, nor any other human, will ever have all the answers to existential questions. I don’t know why Susan assumed she knew more about the church’s stance on hell than C.S. Lewis, or than I do myself, for that matter. If Susan looked at that link, she now knows differently.

          Why would anyone, atheist or otherwise, believe that the great thinkers of the world have nothing to teach them? Many atheists are in the dark about the empty hell proposition as well, which is discussed by Bishop Robert Barron and others at length, in their writings and even YouTube videos. There is nothing that scares atheists more than a brainy, well-educated person who is not atheist. Do yourself a favor and do your homework so you don’t keep embarrassing yourself.

        • MR

          I’m just going off you’re own words. You didn’t reach for arguments, you reached for tales of yourself, indoctrination and emotion.

          You seem to think we’re not familiar with these things and appear to be doing exactly what you’re accusing us of. Most of us are familiar with your “great thinkers.” And we’ve indeed learned a lot fron them. They have no evidence for God either. You’re piece mealing your own religion to suit you’r own biases. You have no evidence for your beliefs either.

          Why do you believe? How do you support your belief? So far all you’ve provided is a testimonial. You stated you could be wrong. You admitted you could be wrong. If you don’t even know, why should I believe you? I’d you’re wrong, you’re spreading a lie. And you’re suggesting I’m embarrassing myself?

        • Susan

          Look at the link I provided Susan.

          I did look at the link you provided. I even provided a link for context. Lewis’s claim is based on unsupported assertions, as is the whole context of the catechism for which you provided a single reference.

          I fear that neither you, nor Susan, nor many of the atheists here are really curious

          Yet MR is an ex-christian and I am an ex-catholic. My curiosity began to wane when I started to notice that the indoctrination the RCC aimed at me when I was too young to know better was unsupported nonsense.

          You want to sum up, categorize, pigeonhole, and then superciliously judge all who do not concur with your notions.

          No. I would like (and I’m guessing MR would like) for the RCC to support their assertions. In all of my efforts to discuss this subject, they never do.

          From a few lines of type, you make assumptions, jump to conclusions, and presume to analyze my deepest motives, thoughts, and feelings. Confirmation bias is not conducive to an open mind or an exchange of worthwhile ideas. Some commenters here are just taking turns validating each other’s nonbelief, and patting themselves on the back about how dumb everyone else is.

          No one has called you dumb. That’s a strawman. The burden is on the one who claims an agent exists and who claims “eternal life”. The catechism loves to claim things which it cannot support.

          Why would anyone, atheist or otherwise, believe that the great thinkers of the world have nothing to teach them?

          I don’t. What are you describing as a “great thinker” and on top of that, are you suggesting that great thinkers can’t be wrong?

          You have started to do the classic catholic move of punting to “great thinkers” without showing that their arguments support their claims, of accusing people who want to see support for those claims of arrogance and incuriosity, all without making a case for these claims.

          Many atheists are in the dark about the empty hell proposition as well, which is discussed by Bishop Robert Barron and others at length

          I’ve heard more Barron than I can bear. He doesn’t support a single thing.

          There is nothing that scares atheists more than a brainy, well-educated person who is not atheist.

          And finally, the strawman and the ad hominem.

          But nothing substantive in response to honest and respectful questions.

        • Pofarmer

          What is it we’re supposed to be curious about, anyway?

        • Susan

          What is it we’re supposed to be curious about, anyway?

          Excellent question.

        • westcoast77

          Why is there something instead of nothing? What is the meaning of life? Why is there suffering? How do we come to know and be true to our authentic selves? What is the most profound expression of love? Where do I find guidance for difficult decisions?

        • Susan

          Why is there something instead of nothing?

          Why shouldn’t there be?

          What is the meaning of life?

          Whose life? Life is ancient on this planet. Most of it is non-human. How does Yahwehjesus provide meaning?

          How do we come to know and be true to our authentic selves?

          What does that have to do with the catechism?

          Where do I find guidance for difficult decisions?

          What does that have to do with the catechism?

          Religious belief provides no reliable answers for any of those questions.

          Just unsupported assertions.

        • MR

          A bunch of woo peddling questions. Deepities.

        • Pofarmer

          I don’t think we’re the ones lacking curiosity.

        • MR

          It’s pretty remarkable that someone who follows so many “great thinkers” can’t spot a fallacious question when he sees one.

        • MR

          These are just a bunch of loaded questions, most of them senseless.

        • epeeist

          Why is there something instead of nothing?

          I don’t know, but neither do you.

          What is the meaning of life?

          Begs the question, in that assumes that there is a meaning to life.

          Why is there suffering?

          Begs the question, assumes there has to be a reason for suffering.

          How do we come to know and be true to our authentic selves?

          Begs the question, assumes that there is such a thing as an “authentic self”.

          What is the most profound expression of love?

          Begs the question, assumes there is a “most profound” expression of love.

          Where do I find guidance for difficult decisions?

          Rather depends on the decision doesn’t it.

        • Pofarmer

          Wow, how profound, I’d never ever come across any of that.

          Do tell, you know the answers?

        • Greg G.

          Why is there something instead of nothing?

          I read an article yesterday that scientists measured yet another sub-atomic anti-particle that has a slightly faster decay rate than the corresponding particle. Perhaps you should look there.

          What is the meaning of life?

          Whatever meaning you give your life.

          Why is there suffering?

          Because there is no being that is both powerful enough to make all suffering unnecessary and loving enough to prevent all unnecessary suffering.

          Pleasure and pain are two ways that life forms favor certain behaviors that are beneficial while avoiding behavior that is detrimental. Suffering is an unintended consequence of the pain feature.

          How do we come to know and be true to our authentic selves?

          It seems that religion is a way to create an imaginary self that one can pretend is an authentic self.

          What is the most profound expression of love?

          Love comes from the pleasure-pain thingies to promote survival of offspring.

          Where do I find guidance for difficult decisions?

          By praying to an imaginary god thingy. No, wait, that never works.

        • Kodie

          By praying to an imaginary god thingy. No, wait, that never works.

          Can’t say it never works. It is like flipping a coin, and they say you know what you really want when the coin is in the air. What you want might be the wrong outcome too, but you can’t really say consulting (i.e. praying) with your deity never works out for the better outcome. If you are completely jammed up, at least making a decision, even if you think it’s not your decision, but the guidance of a deity, is many times neutral. Doing what you want really, when there is another choice, and other people who matter to you at stake, there’s a reason why you can’t decide. Both choices seem ok, but you need to make one. I don’t really know what difficult decisions religious people consult a deity for. Should you get a divorce or stay with this person? Probably you want to get a divorce, but you wish this partner was different and would show you a sign, but they won’t, so “god” says break up. Did you think this through? Were there other options, such as communicating with someone who isn’t imaginary?

        • epeeist

          Can’t say it never works.

          I take it that Greg G. is saying that the act of praying is causal in the production of guidance. If there ain’t nothing there to pray to then it can’t be causal.

        • Kodie

          I imagine other people will come by or already have come by to try to counter your stupid theist questions. I’m just here to tell you those are stupid theist questions. What made you think you were brainy or educated? What you are is boring and redundant. All theists come here with those questions, they are not challenging questions for atheists. How dare you accuse us of being threatened by “brainy, well-educated” theist questions.

          Your questions are indications of weakness in your critical thinking skills. They are indications of wishful thinking. Tell me what grown ass adult needs these pacifiers? We’re all in this together alone down here. Whatever. We live on a planet and EVOLUTION. We keep trying and probably suppressing it because that’s what it means to be a socially acceptable human being – do you really think your religious sycophant is your authentic self? That’s a stacked question with many biased or non-biased answers. Your imaginary friend guides you better than another person or people, or support groups, or family, or friends, or … some people (at least as portrayed on tv) sit on a park bench and talk out their problems to a stranger, and if they don’t get up and walk away, they may be better than whatever you think god thinks you should do!

          I recently had a back-and-forth about education, and distinctly remember worksheets with illustrations about “CAUSE AND EFFECT”. Is this something religious people block out? Difficult decisions might not have a right answer. If you have 2 possible answers, there might be 2 possible outcomes. You want the outcome you want, but you know that outcome might hurt someone like your family or the environment, so you choose the other outcome which you don’t like, because it seems like the right thing to do. Try to project if the “right thing to do that you don’t want to do” has an effect farther down the line, like increasing your unhappiness. Maybe getting a divorce is something you’re supposed to do. A decision you are faced with might cause a divorce, and you are “well, that must be the wrong decision,” but how do you know the other path doesn’t lead to a divorce eventually, because you’re so fucking unhappy, that you sacrificed your own happiness for your family in the first place, but your true feelings damage your family to a degree that divorce happens anyway.

          I’m just saying. No matter what you think god guides you in doing, you will rationalize why it’s the right time. The decisions you make are what you think you should do, and pretend that you are talking to your imaginary friend, who offers you feedback. IT IS ALL IN YOUR OWN HEAD. What’s really sick is when people just do what they really want to do, and then say god guided them to that selfish decision. If your job transfers you, you tell your wife that god said we have to transfer. That’s using god just like any other theist, to bully people to do what you decide.

        • Pofarmer

          Dude. I’ve interacted with Barron. I’ve interacted with his flunky on Strange Notions. I’ve interacted with countless Catholics on Numerous blogs. I’ve interacted with Edward Feser and Trent Horn. Do yourself a favor and get over yourself.

        • There is nothing that scares atheists more than a brainy, well-educated person who is not atheist.

          You’re out of touch. Talk to a few atheists and see if this is true for them. Speaking only for myself, there’s nothing I’d like more than to find a challenging, thoughtful pro-Christian argument.

          You’re saying that atheists are fearful that a smart Christian will tear down their worldview? Make my day.

        • Kodie

          There is nothing that scares atheists more than a brainy, well-educated person who is not atheist.

          Is that what you’ve been led to believe? Atheists are bored to death of the endless train of theists trotting out the same brainwashed bullshit dressed up like a subject called “theology”, much less the accusations of what scares us or what we really believe deep down, so check your ego first, and if you think you have something new, interesting, and actually intelligent… don’t forget your evidence, please. Please try.

        • westcoast77

          https://digilander.libero.it/monast/inferno/inglese/catechismo.htm 1033, last sentence: “And it is this state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed, which is designated with the word hell.”

        • Susan

          1033 last sentence

          .

          So far, appears to be a little bit of cherrypicking. Here is a little bit of context for anyone interested.

          http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p123a12.htm

          Anyway, it was 1992 when Lewis’s “theological proposition” became anything remotely part of the catechism. If we were even to accept your interpretation.

          Almost thirty years after Lewis died.

          The statement that Lewis may have had in mind the “theological proposition” had nothing to do with the catechism at that time, as far as I can tell.

        • westcoast77

          What interpretation? I gave you the relevant Catholic catechism citation at your request, but I don’t know why you keep linking it with Lewis. He wasn’t Catholic. He was atheist as a young adult, and then became Anglican. I expect their catechism is on line as well.

        • Susan

          I gave you the relevant Catholic catechism citation at your request.

          And I tried to point out by linking the context, two things.

          1) There is no support for the claims made in context. And

          2) There was no support for Lewis’s article based on the catechism at the time he wrote it.

          I don’t know why you keep linking it with Lewis. He wasn’t Catholic.

          I know. You linked it with Lewis.

        • Susan

          I gave you the relevant Catholic catechism citation at your request, but I don’t know why you keep linking it with Lewis.

          Because you linked it to Lewis? Which confused me. Because the catechism and Lewis aren’t linked.

          He wasn’t Catholic.

          Yes, I know.

          Which is why your comment confused me.

        • I Came To Bring The Paine

          Sort of like my position that theology is merely voluntary separation from reality.

        • He was way less “orthodox” than I suspect many of his fans know.

      • Joe

        If I was nonexistent, I’d have difficulty saying if I preferred that life to a life of hedonistic pleasure.

        • True. While we are alive though, preferences exist.

        • Elizabeth A. Root

          You wouldn’t have preferences or opinions.

        • Elizabeth A. Root

          It always seemed to me that since one has to die in any case, one isn’t missing anything if one just stays dead.

    • Joe

      He’d best hedge his bets and join them ALL.

  • MR

    Here’s an example where he conflates the two in the very same sentence: “If God does not exist, then life is objectively meaningless; but man cannot live consistently and happily knowing that life is meaningless” (emphasis added). It’s hard to imagine how this confusion has survived in this essay since he wrote it three decades ago. He’s either a sloppy writer, or he intends to deliberately mislead the reader.

    And we see it all the time in the apologists that show up here. Just look at our ex-friend, Paul’s comments. He conflated the two all that time. Stupidity or intentional?

    Here’s a recent example where he tried to blur the lines (link):

    Do you experience moral values and duties in your life?

    To which I responded:

    Objective ones? No. Do you? How do you know they are objective?

    The sheer dishonesty or stupidity or combination of both gets tiring after a while. Do they think we don’t notice?

    (h/t commenter MR)

    Ah, , gee, thanks, @BobSeidensticker:disqus!

    • MR

      NB: By the way, my bet is that Paul was our old nemesis, Ameribear. Came across this:

      What does “really” mean? A wishy-washy word that Ameribear likes to use, too.

      • Greg G.

        Did anybody make a derogatory statement about the Catholic hierarchy? That always triggered Ameribear.

        • MR

          Heh. We’ll have to test that on the next sock.

  • Doubting Thomas

    To summarize Craig’s position:

    “A child unable to accept their own mortality grows into an adult unwilling to accept it. Therefore, magic.”

  • Kodie

    Death affects other people still living. It might also affect someone who knows they are dying. I think the Jesus dying thing is so …. pronounced here. He allegedly died to give everyone [a chance at] eternal life. If he died and just died, then he probably should have stayed alive to help more people live their best and most healthy lives.

    I don’t want to live forever, and I don’t fear not being remembered. I would like to live forever just to see how things turn out, but that becomes less and less interesting to me as I get older. When I was in high school, a teacher pointed out that we are all born to die. It wasn’t a whole class lesson, it was just something maybe young people don’t think about, because we’re young. It was like a “huh” moment. I didn’t really think of death again until my late 20s when Princes Diana died. I did not love, adore, or follow her doings, but she was young and died tragically, and I would lay my head down to sleep every night, only to be startled in a panic that I could die young and tragically, and sometimes kept awake for hours. I found out later that late 20s is target for the existential crisis of not feeling like you have any traction or a future yet, that life is just passing you by, and you haven’t done anything yet.

    I don’t remember how long that went on, but eventually it stopped. I guess just a few years later, 9/11, I had an adjacent pass delivering a package for my job to the 91st floor of Tower 2 of the Twin Towers just months before, and after 9/11, tried to envision just minding your own business at work, and suddenly you’re dead from an airplane crashing into your office, or on fire, and jumping out the window. It affected me to a degree that I moved from just up the Hudson from NYC to Western NY to get back with a guy who had already had a psychotic break with reality, but recovering with meds, the stupidest mistake I’ve ever made, and based on the emotions I felt while watching a tv broadcast of Barefoot in the Park. All this trying to find a place I could live and not feel like I was going to die young and tragically took up half my 30s, and that’s kind of late to establish, almost to a degree that I should have risked it. I guess the anxiety finally subsided when I decided to follow my heart – which, I repeat, was the dumbest thing I’ve ever done.

    At this point, I’m afraid to be dead and embarrassed. I seriously need to go over my apartment and make sure there is nothing incriminating me to my family, so for as long as I have a reputation among the living, that it’s decent. Craig’s fear of not being remembered is stupid, but another thing I get from the article, is thinking about babies. We don’t look at a newborn and think, a long time from now (probably), they’re going to die. Congratulations, it’s a boy who is going to die 3-5 score from now. When you’re older, you want to be younger, feel healthier, but the more I talk to people, they don’t want to do over any decade… I mean, hey. This is the “if I knew then what I know now” chance to be in your 20s but smarter, it’s not “turn all time back so you have to do shit you fucked up then again”… but even if you did, didn’t you have fun, was it that painful? Put your life to a different course if you want. I guess people are happy enough with how life turned out to do over being younger. Since I was pretty young, I wanted reincarnation to be true, not eternal life. I always wanted to live life again and again and again, stop doing stupid shit, and get to be young again, while when I was a minor, all I wanted was to be an adult, and basically now living the life of a child with a grown-up’s driver’s license – the dream.

    Mortality just isn’t something I’m afraid of. I am tired of being alive sometimes, because it’s hard, people suck, and I don’t think there’s anything else I need to do. I’m not obligated to a whole lot of people. I still feel like being alive, though, so I keep trying to improve conditions that I can control. I don’t feel like I have to cross things off a bucket list – this concept is absurd to me now, as what are you going to do with this list when you do die? Look nostalgically at your photo album of experiences? I mean, I no longer feel obligated to collect experiences, or compare myself with others who travel, for example. A couple years ago, I did start doing a few things I never did before, like, I went to a pro baseball game for the first time, and finally had a Shamrock Shake. I think seeking novel experiences might be worth living for, and grinding away at a routine you hate is not worth living for, especially if no one is depending on you, even if it’s only yourself, especially in a position where you can be replaced. Older people like to feel needed, but younger people like to force older people to rest, and then do it themselves. If you can be replaced, it takes away your vitality, it’s not an honor that you feel that you’ve earned.

    To me, the truth is – most people’s lives are interconnectedly so ordinary and probably replaceable. We live on the planet for a while, and our “purpose” is to get along and help each other. Without social connections to care about you personally, you’re just like a lot of other people. The hitch in life, especially religious life, is that each single human is unique and essential to the story of humanity. But what, they go to school, graduate, have a job doing something, get married, raise children, and all the same things everyone else does – these are the favored values and stepping stones in life. Your children will have children, and complete the circle of life. You’re old and then you die, and you had people who cared that you lived, because you made them. Straying from this path gets you the side-eye, but most people are still interconnected with non-familial strangers, they work with them or are neighbors, make friends, etc. People are only special in the circle of people who know them. The younger they are when they die, the more people step up to say they cared about this, but really generically. We’re sadder when babies or children die, even though most people who don’t know that particular child think generically “how sad”. That means, those children were ordinary fillers for children in that person’s mind, but possibly relate to the parents. Disclaimer: I work with children and know they are not all the same, i.e. 10-year-old girl, or whatever. When I hear things on the news, I still don’t relate to it personally. I feel for the families, the people who personally knew that person who is in critical condition or dies, but I don’t know those families either, so it doesn’t sink in that far emotionally, regardless of the age of the victims.

    When William Lane Craig dies, his family and friends and colleagues and fans will remember him. Until they all eventually die. His books are a legacy that may or may not reach later generations. It’s not devastating. Being dead doesn’t feel like anything – I mean, what does sleeping feel like? What do you think it would feel like if you never woke up? I went out with a guy in those weird 20s of mine who was a little suicidal. I’ve checked, he’s still alive. I said what about how your mother would feel, or whatever, he said, I won’t be able to care. Anyone you meet could educate you, that’s my take-away. When I die, I can’t care about the environment, or being embarrassed by my detritus, or not having seen the Eiffel Tower in person, or how my mother bawls her eyes out over not doing enough that she thought she could have done. I can care NOW, because I’m alive, I can foresee how people might feel, and I think they care and would be traumatized. I still might die, relatively young, and tragically, and my apartment is still an open book of neurosis and a little hoarding, and I cannot do anything about that. I think that’s why most people deny the possibility of death, they use statistics and denial to pretend that it won’t be them that day. I lived for maybe years thinking it would be me, every single day, and it still wasn’t the idea of being dead, but the idea of dying young and tragically, situations I cannot control, and things left that I would like to do in my one life.

    • When I was younger, the idea of being remembered was important.

      One day, though, I did a thought experiment. I imagined a non-humanoid being, on a distant planet in another galaxy billions of light years away, independently discovering one of the ideas that currently appeal to me. The thought of a concept persisting, either through transmission or rediscovery, was much more satisfying than “me” persisting.

      • Kodie

        I think, don’t you feel smartest when you suddenly realize something, put 2 and 2 together, solve a problem with just the right solution? I think we are all inventors to a degree. How many times do you need just the makeshift fill-in thing, and devise it from found materials? I am not really sure I care about information persisting. When humans go extinct and some other creature, either on earth or from space, explores the earth and starts to figure out what the hell we were, what’s left of humans, what did any of it mean, will they be able to figure it out? Will they be able to read our books, find our tools, and skip the hard part of civilization? Will they make the same selfish mistakes, will they learn from ours? That’s something I’d like to be reincarnated as a fly on the wall to see.

        What we have learned so far (as a species, I don’t personally know a lot of it) is knowable, so any intelligent species can know it if they can grasp onto knowledge itself. That sounds so pompous. Lots of animals know things we don’t, or behave in ways we don’t suspect that they know what they do know. The intelligence of humans is the capacity for innovation. Some animals have it too, but they do not become progressively inventive like humans. They stick to what they need to know, and not try to learn what they don’t need to know. Some animals need to be taught by the grown-ups and some just have the instinct, so I think humans have instinct but also need to be taught some things. I mean, you don’t just know how to repair the engine in your car or make a quiche. If you know how to read, you might be able to do both, but you might need a teacher and some practice, and neither is a necessary skill, and may or may not be taught by your parents or another tribe elder. If your furniture pack comes with an instruction sheet, there are 2 options – easy or impossible. It’s not something there’s a class for, it’s supposed to be easy, but some people find it impossible.

        I just heard about prairie dog languages and cities the other day:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1kXCh496U0

        Oh yeah, by the way, being remembered wasn’t important to me at all. I had one wish on dying, that was to be a ghost. I wanted to hear what people say about me at my funeral, I want to hang out, maybe a little mischief like rearranging all the cabinets in my boyfriend’s mother’s kitchen, nothing really frightening, just a tiny bit of exasperating. I felt like being dead would be almost a super-power. They wouldn’t know it was you, but it was you, ya know?

  • ThaneOfDrones

    No, what you mean to say is that there is noultimatehope, purpose, reason, good, or evil.

    Gosh, why were adjectives invented?

  • Sue Smith

    Almost all my religious friends use the carrot of heaven to sooth their fear of death. But, the underlying terror of death still exists in their minds even if they try to picture eternity spent in the presence of … insert name of diety here.

    • Michael Neville

      “Everyone wants to go to Heaven, nobody’s in a hurry to get there.” –Tom Clancy (the folksinger, not the novelist)

      • That Christians feel the same way is telling.

        • Lark62

          That christians tend to fear death far more than atheists is even more telling. Look at their opposition to Medical Aid in Dying. They are freakin’ terrified.

        • I remember a study that said that Christians spend 3x as much in end-of-life care as atheists (though now I want to double check that). You’d expect the reverse.

        • Kodie

          I thought the whole idea about, say, humane ending life, was not to interfere with “god’s plan!” but isn’t using extra medicine interfering with god’s plan? Not to mention, those other Christians who let their children go without medicine because they think god will save them. Why don’t they all get their shit together, huh?

          Being dead will not hurt a bit, this is why I don’t feel sorry for the dead, even if they are children. What they’ve missed is a lot of things they could have done or not done, and being dead, it’s not going to be like going to school on Monday after you couldn’t go to your best friend’s birthday party – you’re not going to feel slighted or regretful or jealous when everyone is talking about the thing with the thing that happened, OMG. The living feel bad, it’s the living people who miss the dead and feel a hole in their lives.

        • epeeist

          One of the things that I do is to act as a “simulated patient” for trainee doctors to practice on. I have just got my next assignment – it is all about end of life care…

        • Greg G.

          Today’s XKCD. Tell the trainee you read about this type of surgery online.

          https://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/appendicitis.png

      • I Came To Bring The Paine

        Everybody wants to go to Heaven, but nobody wants to die.

        • Greg G.

          Nobody wants to get old and nobody wants to die but everybody* would choose to do both.

          * There are always** exceptions.

          ** Approximately always.

    • Joe

      Some apologists like to say “ah, but if you get angry at injustice you act like objective morals exist!”, to which I reply “if you’re afraid of dying, you act as if heaven doesn’t exist.”

      • Michael Newsham

        The reply to “there are no atheists in foxholes” is “there are no Christians at funerals”.

        • Joe

          Maybe the loved one they’re crying over has gone to Hell and is being tortured at that very moment?

        • David Peebles

          Also, Xtians get blown to bits in foxholes about as readily as atheists do.

  • eric

    My kid learned about death when my father died. Yeah he was troubled, but not “filled with fear and sadness.” Mostly he wanted to understand why. Then again, we didn’t mollycoddle him about where his bacon comes from either, so I guess he’s probably thought about animal death for a while before experiencing human death up close.

    In any event, it seems to me that WLC’s childhood fear and sadness at death might be a (partial) consequence of his religious beliefs and upbringing, rather than his religion being a result of his fear and sadness at death. If you’ve spent your kid’s childood telling them things like “God loves us all and we’ll live eternally in his bliss,” then one day telling them “oh by the way, your Grandfather just died” might be more upsetting, not less.

    • ThaneOfDrones

      Especially with certain religions, where it would be, “oh by the way, your Grandfather just died, and he is almost certainly in Hell.”

      • Greg G.

        “oh by the way, your Grandfather just died, and he is almost certainly in Hell.”

        Which leaves the tacit implication of “Because you didn’t lead him to Christ.”

        • Ohyetwetrust

          My grandson, being raised Southern baptist, was made to proselytize an adult seat-mate on plane.
          I cringed and knew I wouldn’t be allowed to see him for the next 15 years. I’m still waiting.
          Even phone calls are out.

        • I’m trying to put the pieces together. Was there a connection between him being forced to evangelize and your not being able to contact him?

        • Ohyetwetrust

          Good question, Bob. Our daughter-in-law married our 30-year-old son and they moved to NC from MA. They had gone to an independent evangelical church up here and then down there in NC, Southern Baptist. They are homeschooled and while not as bad as a lot of cases I know. the grandchildren are pretty controlled. The oldest is 18 and not going to college and the other is a son who is 17. I think they are so inexperienced or over-protected that they wouldn’t make it even at Liberty University.

          In any case, the DIL is difficult and there’s been a cut off. We only talk on the phone with him and no one else is in the room. My husband is ill and though we have been invited down there, I don’t want to go there in case she blows up at me again. My first responsibility as my husband’s caregiver is to protect him. (He’s a retired ordained UU minister and the kindest person on the planet).I’m a former hospice chaplain and get along famously with everyone but…. We have spoken to the grandchildren on occasion but it’s stilted and they are being monitored by the parents.

          I used the evangelizing as a shortcut to show what their childhood was like. We’re not angry with them, just flummoxed. We can’t talk to them about religion or politics. She is extremely anti-abortion and domineering in the household. I don’t want to blame her.

        • From my perspective, their overprotection of the children and wariness of you is the Christian meme struggling for survival. It’s frustrating that Christians correctly see that going to college might hurt their children’s Christian belief and yet don’t think further to see what that might mean.

          Perhaps when the grandchildren are older you can build a sane relationship with them without their parents as guardians.

        • Ohyetwetrust

          That is our hope. Right now they seem to be subdued. We’ll see. It hurts my husband more than me. He has Parkinson’s. But he’s the one who modeled for me how to turn off the angst. Our son doesn’t call him up to talk to him and see how he’s feeling or what he’s doing. That’s not how he was raised.

        • And Christians often can’t imagine how their “loving” community could cause harm.

          Thanks for sharing your story and best wishes for better family connection in the future.

        • Ohyetwetrust

          Thank you for your kind attentions.

  • RichardSRussell

    My life is just a momentary transition out of oblivion into oblivion. —William Lane Craig (1949-notyet), professional fearmonger and egoist

    “I do not fear death, in view of the fact that I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”—Mark Twain (1835-1910), nom de plume of Samuel L. Clemens, American writer and humorist

    • Pofarmer

      I use that Twain quote pretty often.

    • eric

      When you sleep, the pattern that is your consciousness disappears. It isn’t stored, it’s just gone. The next morning, your brain rebuilds it…imperfectly. It’s not exactly the same substrate or pattern, because during that times your body has literally replaced some atoms in your brain with other newly acquired ones.

      So in one way of thinking about it, we die every night. The person who wakes up the next morning thinking they are us is merely a very good copy whose brain has convinced him/her they are the same sentience who went to sleep.

      • I was a little horrified when I figured out that the Star Trek transporters kill you as well. There’s a guy on the other end of the transporter who thinks he’s me, but I cease to be when my atoms are used only as information to repurpose different atoms on the other end.

        • Chuck Johnson

          This happens for many of your atoms, anyway.
          They get replaced by atoms that you eat and drink.
          But one atom is as good as another for that purpose.

        • True, but my consciousness would apparently continue. There’s no me that’s left behind saying, “you’ve forgotten me!”

        • Chuck Johnson

          Yes, one atom is as good as another.
          And now, the medical world is starting to use 3D printers for living organs.

          Done competently enough, a 3D scanner combined with a 3D printer would constitute a human transporter or cloning machine.

        • I would see it as a cloning machine, not a transporter. If they added a disintegration component, only then would it be a transporter, and the disintegration unit is the part that I’m not too happy with!

        • Chuck Johnson

          Modern technology is very versatile.
          We have the ability to copy and paste or to cut and paste.

        • I Came To Bring The Paine

          I feel it would be the same way when we finally figure out how to successfully upload our consciousness from our brain to a server.

        • Uploading our consciousness into a computer would just make another copy of you. The carbon me would still be here. And having a silicon clone when I die won’t help. I don’t know why Kurzweil thinks it would be otherwise.

        • eric

          But that’s just the thing, Bob; if they killed meat-you as part of the upload, your silicon clone (assuming it was as accurate a copy as your brain produces) would feel no more anxiety over it’s copy-ness than you do every morning when you wake up. It would happily say – and fully believe – “I’m the one and only real Bob.”

          I suspect this is one of the tricks our brains play on us. Just as we can’t typically be aware of our own blind spots, and we all think our memories are record-like rather than constructive, our brains impose on us a similar illusion of continuity.

        • Right–but I’m the version 1 that’s getting left as a pile of atoms! That’s swell for everyone else that Bob 2 comes out of the other transporter, but who cares about that guy? I’m dead here, people! Must I explain what’s wrong with this picture??

        • I Came To Bring The Paine

          This comic can answer your question ==> http://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/the-denial-of-death

          And, to paraphrase Greg G., click on the red button afterwards. 😉

        • eric

          Must I explain what’s wrong with this picture??

          Given that Bob v.5/10/19 is a different copied version of Bob v.5/9/19, what I’m pointing out is that rationally you should feel no different about going from (your hypothetical scenario) v1 -> v2 than you feel about going from v5/9/19 -> v5/10/19…which you just did, last night.

          It’s rational to worry about the fidelity and maturity of the process, sure. I certainly wouldn’t sign up to go through 1st gen uploading tech any more than I’m going to go buy a self-driving car the day they become available. But worrying about whether the end result will be “you” is to fall for the illusion that “you” today is magically continuous with “you” yesterday…when it really isn’t. It’s just atoms – which aren’t the same – and electrical patterns – which also aren’t the same, and even worse, went through a discontinuous break when you slept.

        • Kodie

          That’s very nice, eric, but, I don’t die every time I fall asleep, and when I wake up, I usually remember how I got there!

          If I’m copied, I don’t think inside a new skull the same time I am thinking in the skull I already have. We’re not synched up like a phone app and your main laptop. If you drop your phone in a puddle, the data might be saved elsewhere, but you still need to buy a new phone. If you came in the night to upload me to a new body’s skull, why can’t you make me thinner and younger? If I have to die in the procedure, either before, during, or after… like someone said, since there is another brain continuing on with all my knowledge and memories, I would still be about to die. Maybe if I was already going to die, but I would still die. The brain in my head with all the thoughts and stuff, living on after me, would not comfort me. It’s the same as saying I have to die so Bob can remember all my thoughts for the foreseeable future, and then what happens to Bob’s thoughts? I mean, it feels like face transplant time with this logic, the idea being, someone else whose face was disfigured gets to go through life with someone else’s face who died.

          I don’t get this whole beaming shit from Star Trek, because I’m not a nerd, and it’s not real anyway.

        • eric

          I don’t die every time I fall asleep, and when I wake up, I usually remember how I got there!

          Your mind dies, and physically many of your atoms are replaced. The difference between sleep and a transporter is merely one of rate: it replaces all your atoms at a much faster rate….but there’s probably no atoms in your body now that were there a few years ago. And your mind is dissolved and rebuilt every night. And sure, you remember being you because that’s exactly what an illusion of continuity would feel like. But in what way are you the same being from even a couple weeks ago, if (a) all your physical atoms are different and (b) the electrical pattern that is your mind is only a many-times rebuilt partial copy of that one?

        • Kodie

          Mind is what the brain does. I don’t see how this is relevant to sleep. Someone can watch you sleep, they’re not counting your atoms. What are your atoms being replaced by? You’re not explaining it right.

        • Greg G.

          Yesterday morning, I awoke from a dream about my father. Then I remembered that he was dead. Next I couldn’t remember his funeral. Then I remembered that he had no funeral. My next thought was whether my consciousness was building itself as eric has been suggesting.

        • Kodie

          You know how, sometimes you wake up and feel like you had a really important dream about something, but it’s totally gone? Are those missing atoms? What about times you wake up and go make your coffee, check out some morning news shows or, if you’re up early enough, some coffee with Bob Ross, but then, like, 4:00 or so, you suddenly remember somewhat vividly something about your dream you had while you were sleeping? Can your atoms go away from your brain, but spontaneously recombine inside your brain coincidentally? What if I am remembering the atoms from someone else’s dream? What if I am actually getting the atoms from someone else’s thoughts, so I can be kinda psychic and solve crimes or something?

          I have to say what I think about dreams, they can tell you what you’re thinking about. But I love/hate the dreams where I’m picking up money off the ground because they’re not real. I love the dreams where I am in Paris, where I’ve never been. I love the dreams where I am in a building that doesn’t already exist, and I have architected the entire thing in my head, which is usually combined with the dreams I have when I see dozens, if not hundreds, of individual people, many celebrities and dead relatives, except it usually gets haunted by the end of it. And they are never the same people.

          I don’t understand anything about atoms. I’m sure it’s something absurd. I understand cell regeneration. My initial concept of atoms is similar – they don’t contain information, they are elements of my content. I would not go so far as to believe someone saying my brain dies every night and revives when I wake up. My initial concept of atoms would be that they can also regenerate during the day while I’m awake, but sleep is one of those biological mysteries of what it’s necessary for.

          As for the uploading discussion, if I had to die to be uploaded, I would never know if I were dead or if the transport took. My awareness on the other side would say, I guess it took, just like I wake up and say, I guess I didn’t die in my sleep. This seems like the last-Thursdayism shit that I also think is screwy.

        • Greg G.

          Are those missing atoms?

          No, I saw on Facebook that there are more water molecules in a drop of water than there are drops of water in the ocean. I expect that is certainly true if you define the size of a drop properly. Long-term memory is formed by dendrites, which are like a brain neuron reaching out to another neuron so they can sync up. Date rape drugs, for example, can block the protein formation that build the dendrites so long term memories cannot form. A dendrite is probably made of millions of atoms.

          If an omnipotent god thingy can resurrect a person whose body is decayed and the atoms are part of other people’s bodies, is it the same person or a copy with the same memories? That god thingy could arrange a bunch of atom to look like you and have the same memories and both you and the copy would feel certain that she was the original. So if you die, then get resurrected, is it you or a copy that suffers for eternity or praises the god thingy for not punishing her for what you did when you were alive?

          My father gave me my grandfather’s old axe. Dad replace the head twice and the handle five times but it is still my grandfather’s axe.

          If you but a car and replace the windshield wipers, is it still the same car? What if you eventually replace over half the parts? What if you have replaced every part? What if you reassemble the replaced parts? Then which is the same car? A newborn baby is composed of atoms and molecules that were part of the mother’s body but it is not the same person.

        • Kodie

          I mean, we’re sentimental about items, and possibly arbitrarily value some items to be more of value than others, and so some restoration doesn’t decrease the value of an item, while some restoration is completely necessary or the article will be lost (usually a building), and of course, some restoration devalues the purity of an item. It seems to depend on what the item is and how… I don’t think Antiques Roadshow is going to think that’s Abe Lincoln’s axe anymore, but it might be almost as valuable if the restorations are almost as old. I don’t know why you’d restore a valuable antique to a utility, like as a hammer that you could actually use, but there is value in continuing to use a hammer that you feel through your ancestors. Why would you even restore the item instead of preserve it as the heirloom piece, and buy something new that you don’t care about.

          And yes, we’re sentimental about people. There’s the person you think you are, and the person other people think you are, so the person you think someone else is, we grieve when people change in a different direction than we do, maybe almost as much as if they were dead. I think about old classic rock trying to put out new songs. Music is a particular genre I think it’s hard to sustain progress, because musical tastes change. Some artists are great for a period of time, and then tour forever as a nostalgia act. No new fans are coming for your new releases. We can see that older people are not the same as their younger selves. If we don’t all have children, we must know some, and they are not the same as their younger selves. So maybe I’m just confused, but what does that mean? My essence was birthed on a particular date, and I maintain the same name and social security number as I was issued on that date for several decades. I wake up being the same fool I was yesterday, or else I stay up all night and forsake sleep on some procrastination, because that’s the constant quality of who Kodie is. If I am different atoms, can’t some smarter ones with better time management and self-respect check in?

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwohsAoAYCg

        • DingoJack

          See: The Boat of Theseus.

        • Greg G.

          Exactly.

        • Joe

          I have a problem with this. If my consciousness could be replicated, I’m sure this consciousness would be happy, but it leaves an original consciousness that will still perish.

          In my view, as soon as a consciousness starts to have different experiences, it is a different person.

        • Greg G.

          A man cannot step into a river twice for it is not the same river and he is not the same man.
          –Heraclitus

        • eric

          Sure they would. In Star Trek scenarios (the award-winning short story “Think Like a Dinosaur” also explored this), society solves that problem by killing the original any time you transmit a copy.

          Though AIUI, Star Trek is a bit more nice about it than Dinosaur. AIUI the Star Trek tech, disassembly is a necessary part of transportation; thus ‘killing the original’ is not a choice if you want to transport; you have to do it to make the transporter work. In Dinosaur…well, read it, it’s good. 🙂

        • Susan

          If my consciousness could be replicated, I’m sure this consciousness would be happy, but it leaves an original consciousness that will still perish.

          Does your yesterday self technically exist? How about your seven-year-old self?

          How many of your consciousnesses have long since perished already?

        • 3vil5triker .

          I threw a pair of visiting Jehova’s Wittnesses in for a loop with a similar argument. According to their beliefs, after Armageddon, God will bring dead people back to life to potentially live forever on Earth. So I asked them, how do they know God isn’t just making a copy, given that they don’t believe in the existence of immortal souls? They were pretty much stumped.

        • Greg G.

          I can have fun being as evil as I want to be and some copy of me will be tortured forever. Or I can do everything I imagine a god thingy would like me to do and some copy of me will be rewarded for eternity.

          Hmmmm. Just curious… What’s the login and password to your life savings?

        • eric

          Or even just asking ‘which me? Me at 5? 15? 25? 35? They are different people, comprising not just different psychological beliefs and feelings but literally entirely different sets of atoms.”

        • eric

          Well if you consider mind to be something importantly different than brain (even as a materialist), and that the really important part of you is that mind, then you essentially go through a Star Trek transporter every night.

          Which can be highly disturbing to consider. On the other hand, if we ever develop teleportation technology, maybe thinking this way can make us realize that philosophically, there’s nothing really new about the existential question it poses; we deal with that issue every day already. So go ahead and step in; you’ve been stepping into it every night your whole life anyway.

      • RichardSRussell

        Reminds me of the 1996 movie Multiplicity, in which Michael Keaton’s character keeps making a series of progressively less perfect Xerox copies of himself.

    • ThaneOfDrones

      Not true. By being “dead” in the early first century, a person missed out on the development of the legends and myths which would become Christianity; if that does not interest you there are probably other historic events which you would have enjoyed seeing. If I die before 2027 I will miss out on some of the announced Star Wars and Avatar sequels.
      STAR WARS & AVATAR Will Alternate Christmas Dates For The Rest Of Your Life

      • Michael Neville

        Avatar was good until the ending. It takes a white guy to save the natives from the white guys. The white guy tames the biggest, baddest bird. He comes sailing in with his breakthrough notion to unify all the tribes and crush the exploiters in spite of their massive firepower. They do the battle and win!

        But that’s not the only problem with the ending. Well, first let’s note that the Jake Sully character is not the first person to have thought about uniting the natives to fight the invaders. To take just one example, there’s Tecumseh. His vision was to unite all the tribes west of the Appalachians and prevent the outsiders from taking their land. He mobilized a whole confederacy, and, as on Pandora, they won some battles. But you may have noticed that the invaders got well beyond the Appalachians. Tecumseh’s people were defeated at the Battle of Tippecanoe and the victorious William Henry Harrison then rode his reputation as a winner straight to the White House. Native people the world over have experienced the same problem—if you defeat one group of invaders, the invader culture just sends more.

        When I have a major philosophical problem with the original movie, I’m less likely to watch the sequels.

        • ThaneOfDrones

          When it stops being a movie and becomes a ‘franchise’ or a ‘universe’, I lose interest.

  • Pofarmer
    • Sample1

      I don’t hang around prisons, so why would I hang around places that boast of being full of sinners?

      Mike, faith-free

      • westcoast77

        Because we have seen the sinners, and they are us?

        • Sample1

          Nobody here sins. To sin is to offend the will of some God. A notoriously vague concept through the centuries. A bad theory.

          You can call yourself a sinner if you like. I’ll just stick with human being.

          Mike, undead and optimistic

        • westcoast77

          If you want to quibble semantically because you object to the spiritual aspect of the word sin, fair enough. There are other fitting words: evil, violence, wrong-doing, destruction, harm, deceit, theft, greed, etc.

          The worst of mine were committed in Vietnam, 1969-70, where I helped wreaked indescribable havoc on a nation and a people that didn’t deserve any of it. I killed 20 or 21 people at close enough range to see them drop, and an uncounted number at a greater distance. My only excuse is that I was too young and naive to know better, and I was stupid enough to seek out dangerous challenges. Am I going to hell? I don’t believe in that. I’m not counting on any afterlife. But do I feel guilty? You bet I do. Sin is the best word I know to describe the taking of a human life.

        • Sample1

          I honestly didn’t intend to impart a mere quibble-like objection. Sin has a distinct spiritual meaning, one that has gained an undeserved usage broadly among society. It’s a highly successful reproductive meme and I don’t like it. 🙂 There are clearer words to use, and I agree with he ones you substituted.

          If you want to call your service time a sin, that’s you’re prerogative and I’ve no dog in that fight. If we are going to meta-discuss reality instead of approaching it from a single personal account, however, I think the other words are more useful. Unless you want to disagree, which is again your prerogative, and defend the word sin as having some better utility or explanatory power.

          I’m glad you feel guilty, it means you have a conscience, but that’s not the same thing as saying I’m glad that you had to experience what you did. As a fellow fallible human being, all I can do is offer solidarity for what values we may both share today.

          Guilt is real, I’d never deny that.

          Mike, excommunicated

        • westcoast77

          I initially replied to a comment of yours which was personal, in which you pointed out that you didn’t hang around prisons, and (therefore) would not hang around a place full of sinners. That isn’t meta-discussion, so I answered you in kind. Meta-discussions are best left to trained philosophers, which I am not. As a career US infantry officer, my degrees are in political science and public administration. I found Ranger School more meaningful than the single philosophy class I was required to take, which was taught by a brilliant, eccentric Benedictine monk. He told me that I struggled with philosophy because I couldn’t relate it to anything in my symbol structure. Indeed.

          In this thread, a highly-educated philosopher (WLC, who intimidated even the articulate Christopher Hitchens) was called Crackhead. His debate performance against Sam Harris and Lawrence Krauss has been misrepresented too, a fact which was politely and wittily mentioned by an honest moderator here. I am in awe of Craig’s grasp of abstruse principles of logic and his quick thinking in public debates, although I do not share his dogma or concur with his ultimate supernatural conclusions.

          Religion is a notorious hot-button issue for many people, and your civil tone is much appreciated. Cheers.

        • I found Ranger School more meaningful than the single philosophy class I was required to take, which was taught by a brilliant, eccentric Benedictine monk.

          I have found philosophy off-putting, but I think that’s because I’ve seen it abused by many Christian apologists.

          In this thread, a highly-educated philosopher (WLC, who intimidated even the articulate Christopher Hitchens) was called Crackhead.

          WLC is indeed well educated. That’s why it’s so surprising to me that some of his arguments are so weak. You barely have to read between the lines to see that the grounding for his entire project is that he wants there to be an afterlife. He’s not reporting what he’s discovered to be true after following the evidence. Rather, he’s telling us what he wants to be true and then sifting the available facts to put together a plausible story to defend his position. He’s a smart guy, so his defense is pretty good (Shermer’s Law).

          I’ve written more about his philosophical grounding here:
          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2018/01/christian-nonsense-from-people-who-should-know-better/

          I am in awe of Craig’s grasp of abstruse principles of logic and his quick thinking in public debates

          I’m not, though I guess this isn’t surprising given our different worldviews. His biggest failure IMO was debating Sean Carroll. But I haven’t closely watched his debates. Anyway, I think it’s widely agreed that debates aren’t the best way to learn new ideas.

          I do not share his dogma or concur with his ultimate supernatural conclusions.

          What are your thoughts on the supernatural then?

          Religion is a notorious hot-button issue for many people, and your civil tone is much appreciated.

          Yes, I prefer a civil chat rather than an emotional debate. Bravo for those on all sides of the discussion for keeping things polite, if lively.

        • westcoast77

          Thoughts on weighty and potentially supernatural ideas are difficult to communicate through the limited medium of brief textual exchanges. This is intuitive and also underscored by the communication skills I learned in organizational management coursework required to complete my master’s in public administration.

          An essential component of effective interpersonal communication is nonverbal. Blog comments are lacking the larger context of facial expressions and bodily posture, vocal pitch and inflection, pauses, and so on. Without those nonverbal cues, whatever one might write is subject to misinterpretation. You already know this.

          Also, the anonymity of the internet frees some people to behave badly, e.g., crude name-calling and false generalizations are applied to huge groups of diverse individuals. For these reasons, the older I get, the more I limit my online presence, to include deleting my Facebook and avoiding certain blogs which I think have become more damaging, due to the influence of the current US administration, with its finger-pointing, barely-veiled violent references, and dangerous divisiveness.

          Even on Patheos, I sometimes see a harmful “us versus them” attitude, which is not limited to any particular channel. My two cents: In reality, we are all “us.” I learned that the hard way in Vietnam. I worry for my children and grandchildren now with a President who has reportedly asked, “Why do we have nukes if we can’t use them?” I wonder what he might have learned had he fought in a war.

          I am happily curious about profound disciplines that seem beyond my intellectual grasp, which I why I continue to pursue philosophy and religion. At present, I am re-reading David Bentley Hart’s “The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss.” In person, I enjoy discussing Hart’s ideas, as well as those of Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, Kierkegaard, and so on. The less opaque and more accessible Thomas More’s “Care of the Soul” is on my nightstand and I read passages from it several times a week for uplifting insights. (Studying Kierkegaard or Buber could be an eye-opener to a commenter here who thinks that Biblical and existential philosophy do not intersect, but such a suggestion would probably be wasted on someone who seems not to have read the Book of Ecclesiastes {Qoheleth} or heard of the Perennial Philosophy.)

          All I can say here about my spiritual practice is that it is eclectic, syncretic, fluid, and non-dogmatic. It finds expression in my presence at Catholic, Unitarian, and Buddhist services, and most recently a neo-pagan hand-fasting. I think there exists a divine ground of being, not “a being” as such, but I’m not sure. If anyone finds me strange, treat yourself to the writings of Robert Kennedy, who is a Jesuit priest, Zen roshi of the White Plum line, professor of theology, and psychoanalyst. My spiritual views may strike many as inconsistent, but I keep in mind that “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” I think Emerson said that, but don’t quote me. Parkinsonism and diabetes from Agent Orange exposure are overtaking my brain and body, and I am at peace with that.

          Cheers

        • Thanks for the suggestions.

          I don’t know what to say about the Agent Orange. That’s a terrible consequence of national service.

        • westcoast77

          It doesn’t matter, since my comment was marked as spam.

        • Fixed. Disqus does that sometimes.

        • westcoast77

          I know. They automatically mark as spam anything with unusual punctuation. I guess they’re unaccustomed to seeing brackets within parentheses.

        • I’d never heard that argument. I’ll look for that cause in the future. Weird.

        • MR

          Were you raised in Catholicism or was there an argument that you found compelling that led you to it?

        • westcoast77

          It’s a long story. I was raised Presbyterian, although my Scottish grandmother was the only family member who was religious in the traditional sense. Most of my adulthood I was agnostic or apatheist. I attended Benedictine and Jesuit universities for my undergrad and graduate degrees–not for religious reasons, but because of the rigorous academic demands and the qualifications of the teaching staff. The high academic standards of Catholic institutions, and the role that the Catholic Church played in the establishment of universities and the pursuit of science, made a lasting impression on me, which was more fully realized as I got older and tried to get wiser.

          Years later, I returned to the study of the philosophers and theologians I had found so baffling in my youth. This was prompted by my life experiences, some of which were traumatic and impossible to forget (combat in Vietnam, observations of horrendous suffering and poverty up close and personal in the poorest nations on earth) and also by basic intellectual curiosity. The father of the Big Bang Theory, the father of genetics, and one member of the Peking Man discovery team were all Catholic priests. Physicist and historian of religion Dr. James Hannam credits the Christian Middle Ages with launching the scientific revolution. Dr. Martin Nowak, Harvard professor of biology and math and a practicing Roman Catholic, makes persuasive arguments demolishing the hackneyed religion versus science controversy, which was actually manufactured in the 19th century by two noted academics. For more on that, I read historian of science Thomas Principe.

          A psychiatrist friend who was also a diocesan priest encouraged me to dip my toes in the water of mystical religion. I began to attend retreats on meditation and centering prayer. Like many American laypeople, I was surprised to learn about the ancient history of Christian mysticism, hermeticism, and contemplation. I read books by people who were both Catholic priests and Buddhists. I started with Jesuit priest Robert E. Kennedy, who is also a Zen Roshi of the White Plum lineage, and then discovered Trappist monk Thomas Merton, who also wrote extensively on Buddhism. I learned to see the similarities between Zen Koen and the parables of Jesus. Right now I’m reading Meditations on the Tarot, A Journey into Christian Hermeticism.

          In Korea, Okinawa, and the US, I attended Buddhist funerals, weddings, and seasonal festivities. I became acquainted with shinto and animism in Japan. I worshipped at a Unitarian Universalist congregation for a while, including their CUUPs subset. That stands for Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans, where I attended the hand-fasting of one of my granddaughters and her wife.

          After realizing that the Catholic church, as the name implies, does take a universal approach to the meaning and mysteries of life, I converted at the age of 60. The RCIA process was almost my undoing, as it requires profound soul-searching and examination of one’s beliefs, conscience, and actions. At my first confession, I cried as I told the elderly priest of the human slaughter I had committed as a young man. It took a long time. He listened silently, at times squeezing my shoulder reassuringly, and absolved me of my sins. The penance he gave me was to donate and if possible volunteer to work with PeaceTrees, an organization which seeks to ameliorate the destruction and suffering inflicted on Vietnam by the US invasion. Then he stood and, with tears in his eyes, embraced me briefly. At that point, to use a corny phrase, I knew I had “come home.”

          My spiritual beliefs and practices aren’t defined by any label. All labels are limiting and worst of all, subject to misinterpretation, as seen by some of the remarks here, which reveal that some view religions as narrow-minded groups of people, all of whom buy 100% into the same creed, which is usually one that damns everybody else to hell. No church and no individual has all the answers. All faiths are mixed bags because they are made up of fallible humans. I tried to briefly sum up my views in an earlier reply to Bob Seidensticker. As I also told him, intangibles are difficult to discuss in blog comments. This is my best attempt to answer your intelligent question. Hope I did not bore you.

        • That’s a complicated background. Thanks for sharing.

        • MR

          Not bored, but yes, it was a lot of words to express heavy indoctrination and emotional influences. Really bad reasons to believe in something. The intangibles you speak of are difficult to discuss in blogs because they rely on emotion, not on evidence, not sound arguments. They rely on the tactics that any cult might use to indoctrinate the emotional weak or unstable. I guess my only other question would be, could you be wrong?

        • westcoast77

          Of course. At least I read a lot and maintain an open mind. How about you?

        • MR

          Of course I could be wrong. An open mind is fine if you keep it open for reasonable evidence. I look at your history and I see you ready to embrace just about anything that comes your way. Sure I could be wrong, but I have to consider that you could be wrong, too. So, should I believe what someone tells me simply because they believe it themselves?

          Nothing in your story tells me anything about God. It tells me a lot about you and the heavy indoctrination and the strong emotions that influenced you. As you no doubt are aware, those are notoriously bad reasons for discovering truth and are used by charlatans the world over. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you’re a charlatan, I think your beliefs are sincere, but those influences are not sound influences.

          If God existed, I imagine that in his toolkit he would also be able to use things like reason, logic and evidence. A toolkit that relies on tears, regret, mysticism, egoism and indoctrination sounds suspect. Unconvincing. I’m surprised you don’t see that.

        • Sample1

          All faiths are mixed bags because they are made up of fallible humans.

          Agreed.

          After realizing that the Catholic church, as the name implies, does take a universal approach to the meaning and mysteries of life

          I don’t understand the significance you seem to be inferring with this remark.

          Mike, excommunicated

        • westcoast77

          The meaning of the word Catholic is “universal,” and the depth and breadth of study, liberal thought, and effort that Catholic religious have applied to the ultimate universal questions exceeds that of most other major faiths. There are exceptions, of course. David Bentley Hart is an Orthodox Christian, Martin Buber Jewish, and I think Niebuhr and Tillich were Protestant, just to name a few. Spong is a wise and open-minded Episcopalian. Maybe over time other Protestants will catch up intellectually, and I’m sure there are some out there today that I just haven’t found yet.The ones I name in my posts are among the most prominent. Even so, no one here has engaged me in discussions about them. The overall attitude is a dismissive one, which I’m used to from atheists, but that’s okay. My skin is thick.

          I doubt that a Pentecostal or Southern Baptist minister, for example, would read, much less write favorable commentary, on a book titled Meditations on the Tarot. (My grandmother believed modern playing cards were instruments of the devil.) Or devote years to the study of Buddhism, Jainism, or Taoism. Yet numerous Catholic vowed religious have done just that. Being intellectually curious myself, I’m fascinated by people who have gone to great lengths to investigate and expound upon the systematic metaphysical work of others. At a local Benedictine priory, some of the sisters practice healing energy work. A few old-school Catholics locally refer to them as “New Age” nuns, but the sisters are happy to offer workshops in topics as diverse as yoga, enneagrams, reiki, TM, and other areas which are considered part of the lunatic fringe by many churches. Most of the nuns also have advanced degrees in counseling psychology or related disciplines.

          The Catholic devotion to tireless study has even become a subject of jokes. For example, how many Jesuits can dance on the head of a pin? That’s a spoof of a reductio ad absurdum challenge which derived from the intensely detailed, scholarly works of people like John Duns Scotus, the Venerable Bede, and Thomas Aquinas. If you’re unfamiliar, the original was how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Do you understand now where I’m coming from?

        • Susan

          The meaning of the word Catholic is “universal,”

          The meaning of the word “catholic” is “universal”. When you capitalize it, it becomes something else entirely.

          the depth and breadth of study, liberal thought, and effort that Catholic religious have applied to the ulitimate universal questions

          Well, now… what are the “ultimate, universal questions”?

          exceeds that of most other faiths.

          Really? For one thing, why the limitation of “faiths”? Also, as I asked, what are the “ultimate, universal questions” and why restrict it to the questions and answers that “faith” provides?

          The Catholic devotion to tireless study has even become a subject of jokes.

          The Jews (and others) are as equally devoted to tireless study.

          how many Jesuits can dance on the head of a pin?

          That’s an inside joke. The outside joke is “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?”

          The RCC claims that angels (and demons) literally exist and have devoted centuries to claiming their effects on reality, up until this day. . What they don’t do is show that any kind of angel of fallen angel exists.

          scholarly works of people like John Duns Scotus, the Venerable Bede, and Thomas Aquinas.

          “Scholarly” doesn’t mean they had anything right. References to big hitters doesn’t answer any of the questions.

          the original was how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

          Yes, The outside joke. I’m sure Sample 1 is familiar with it as are most of us here.

          The problem being that if you assume your premise without supporting it, you can make claims about it all you like, but nothing along the line is justified.

        • Sample1

          That helps. The word Catholic, I think first used by Irenaeus, and if not he then someone from the 2nd century, referred to the whole of the Christian population. I see an oxymoronic usage when Catholic is used to mean universal. That’s easily shown to be in error.

          On the other hand, humans have universal minds, we all share them. We don’t all share Catholicism.

          Like sin, the equating of Catholic with universal looks like an unearned and privileged meme in Western culture.

          I think we can both use the words just fine as long as we are clear about how we are gauging the meanings.

          Mike, excommunicated

        • westcoast77

          Catholic is from the Greek word katholou, literally translated “on the whole” but idiomatically meaning universal. Ignatius of Antioch is credited with the first use of the word Catholic, around 107, in a letter to Christians in Smyrna. And at that time, all Christians were included in the term, of course.

          Yes, I agree we should be clear on the meaning of words in order to use them effectively, but I expect you know neither one of us is going to be able to eradicate an ancient meme just because we don’t like it, regardless of the dynamic nature of language.

        • Sample1

          but I expect you know neither one of us is going to be able to eradicate an ancient meme just because we don’t like it,

          Correct. Emotion never adds to the truth or falseness of a claim.

          Good explanations on the other hand…

          Mike, excommunicated

        • Joe

          There are other fitting words: evil, violence, wrong-doing, destruction, harm, deceit, theft, greed, etc.

          Sin also includes lots of trivial things like not following religious observations, which is not harmful to anybody.

        • westcoast77

          Whose definition of sin are you referring to? Please be specific.

        • Joe

          There’s no one definition. That’s the point.

        • westcoast77

          You did not make that point in your comment.

          I’ll ask you again, which church, belief system, or spiritual movement has a concept of sin which includes “lots of trivial things like not following religious observations.”

        • Joe

          Christianity.

        • westcoast77

          Your answer fits fundamentalist groups, Joe, but does not apply to more liberal Christian sects. One size does not fit all.

        • Joe

          Which group is correct?

        • Kodie

          Christians across all denominations seem to be overly sensitive about blasphemy, which harms no one.

        • Greg G.

          Sin is what religious folk imagine that their imaginary god thingy is opposed to.

        • MR

          Sin is the best word I know to describe the taking of a human life.

          This seems a profound, but very personal definition of sin. I can appreciate the sentiment, but is seems like you are schooling people for taking a definition of sin that is more or less the default. Perhaps I’m misinterpreting your tone.

        • westcoast77

          You’re right. My usage there was deeply personaI. My intention is not to sound pedantic, but there is no single correct default definition of sin. That’s because there were several different words in Hebrew and Greek that have been imprecisely translated into the word sin, so it gets complicated. When I comment, I do try to define terms as accurately as possible. Otherwise, communication is impaired and misunderstandings arise.

          I can’t write Hebrew with my keyboard, but various OT words which more accurately just meant wicked, bad, or evil, have been translated into the catch-all word sin. In Greek, many words fell into that basket, and I’ll give a few examples. Parabasis means to cross a line. Paraptoma means to fall when one should have stood. Hamarita means to miss the mark. All have been translated as sin, along with a few others I can’t recall, but which referred to specific shortcomings and failures. I think that in Judaism, violation of any of their 600+ commandments is considered sin, but I could be wrong about that.

          These words did not connote the damnation of the individual involved to eternal hellfire. The word sin has been co-opted by some fundamentalist groups and applied prohibitively to even relatively harmless behaviors. Similarly, the word translated as “hell” may more accurately be translated as the underworld or the world of the dead in the Old Testament, such as sheol and hades. The New Testament Gehenna, often translated as hell, referred to a smoldering ravine, a sort of landfill in NT times, which had probably been used for human sacrifice in OT times, then a place where the bodies of executed criminals were thrown, and ultimately a big burning trash pit. I hope this clarifies my views a bit.

        • MR

          It tells me that you’ve defined sin to fit your very personal, unique beliefs. It doesn’t match with how most people would define sin so it’s hardly fair to school them. A very basic definition of sin includes a transgression against a divine being. If a divine being doesn’t exist, the word is meaningless. The “sin” you described is simply a wrong against humanity. No divine being required. No need to use the word “sin,” unless perhaps you were to qualify it as a “sin against humanity.”

        • westcoast77

          I don’t know of any well-designed polls that reveal how “most people would define sin.” If you do, please share. I am aware of sin sometimes being broadly defined as a sin against divine law, not a divine being. I guess you’re just kind of winging it.

        • MR

          Fine, but divine law implies a divinity. It doesn’t change my point. No divinity, no divine law. Without a divinity, the word is meaningless.

          [edit for dropped ‘no’]

        • westcoast77

          Not to quibble, but divine law may not imply a divine supernatural being. A Unitarian I met at the local congregation typically greets people with the words, “The divine in me greets the divine in you.” She describes herself as an agnostic/soft atheist, and believes that every life is divine, while not placing faith in any divine creator/god.

        • MR

          Doesn’t change my point.

        • Sample1

          Around 1998 I was part of a rag tag forum on the old Pathfinder boards run by Time magazine. Had some amazing folks participating. An atheist Jewish woman was the first person I recall ever mentioning to me that, for her, sin was (can’t remember how she phrased it) a word that didn’t have any meaning. She also avoided the word evil though I shared a poem about evil and she changed her mind a bit, I think.

          It was also a time when another in the same forum, Alex, said the Bible was a dangerous book.

          Both comments triggered me, I’m guessing, because, I was a Catholic then. I credit those comments and maybe a dozen others during the late nineties that nudged me closer to atheism (which happened a decade or so later).

          Mike, excommunicated
          If any pathfinder, Salon, or The Well people are reading, my handle back then was Istari.

        • Kodie

          If I might say something, I don’t have the same religious baggage to the word ‘sin’ as a lot of other people. I also think most of us agree that god is really a reflection of a person’s beliefs and judgments, etc. If sin is a crime against god, meaning oneself, I don’t see a problem with using it. There are people who are brainwashed into a cult to hold themselves up to impossible standards, and believe there is a god who holds that standard and judges them, but I think it’s the same if you can’t live up to your own normal human standard. If you commit an act that violates your personal sense of propriety or righteousness, is that not a sin, or what else would you call it to distinguish it from doing a bad thing you feel bad about doing… especially if you were never punished for it, or in the case of war, like westcoast77, probably commended for it.

          There’s no hell but the rest of your life, and there’s no cosmic forgiveness and salvation. What is someone who killed a bunch of people who didn’t deserve to die supposed to feel like, if they are transported back to their safe and warm home to continue living a normal life if they can, even if they think they don’t deserve to? If someone can forgive themselves for circumstances out of their control, or actions they could not protest in the moment* without severe penalty at the time, that’s really just like not righting a wrong, but taking the magic eraser to their deeds anyway. The thing about religion and forgiveness for sinning, it’s something that people seem to need more than we’re acknowledging. There are so many cases where people do terrible things (or minor offenses that really screw up someone’s life) with no way to, as recommended by many atheists, make things right with that person or those people. If you repent, which is another word like ‘sin’, which is an appeal to god to tell him you’re sincerely sorry… well without a god, what is that but a sincere regret for doing something. Are you actually sorry, or are you scared god is mad at you now, and trying to make the best of it? This is a situation familiar to parents – are you actually sorry you did the thing, or are you sorry you got caught? Even adults can’t honestly answer that sometimes.

          But, if you put out into the universe that you’re sincerely sorry for doing something you did that you feel sorry for, and how messed up, should you continue to feel terrible and beat yourself up?

          I mean, what is punishment other than a way to deter bad behavior? If you know you were bad and promise to be better, should you also still be punished? Americans like to say yeah, that murderer might really be sorry for doing it, and be trustworthy never to murder again, but the victims want “justice” which means that person has to be in jail for the rest of their life or executed in some states. My personal feeling of people is that they aren’t sorry, they just want to get out of being severely punished. This is weird in a supposed Christian nation, and possibly why many Christians think most Christians aren’t true Christians. From a distance, I think most Christians think set it and forget it, so they act in normal human loophole-seeking ways. In court, it’s hard to say which is which, since it’s a play.

          *I was thinking of “just following orders” here. I mean, what were their alternatives? Wasn’t every soldier in every army just following orders, and rather not kill anyone? If you were a Nazi, you could see the literal horrors that you could become a victim of if you stood up. The nail that sticks up gets hammered down. I think it’s really a lot harder than a lot of people want to believe to be a righteous person. That is a huge risk, and I challenge most people to think of some time when you knew the right thing to do, but something much less than your life was at stake, and you saved your job or whatever, at the cost of other people’s job. And also, “just following orders” is another thing entirely if it is a lie, when your real answer is, they deserved it and I felt righteous executing those orders.

        • Pofarmer

          That sounds more like remorse, brought on by empathy.

        • Joe

          No, sin is as real as space flu. Which is to say it is a made-up concept.

    • Ohyetwetrust

      I saw this. Great story. What took him so long.

      • Pofarmer

        $$$$$$#

  • Chuck Johnson

    This is reality in a universe without God: there is no hope; there is no purpose.
    Life is utterly without reason.

    Life has lots of little reasons or sub-reasons for existing.

    But the main reason, or foundational reason for human life on Earth is the organic chemical reactions that occurred here four billion years ago.
    Those organic molecules learned the trick of self-replication.
    They learned how to survive and how to evolve.
    And thereby hangs a tale.

  • Mutale

    “Life is utterly without reason”
    So is gods existence without any reason since he is suppose to be a being that always existed and will continue to do so for eternity. if anything what is gods ultimate significance.

  • Joe

    “The Absurdity of Life without God”

    If god would show up (any one would do), we could evaluate this claim objectively.

    • Ohyetwetrust

      Antigonish

      “I met a man upon a stair
      and when I looked he wasn’t there.
      He wasn’t there again today.
      I wonder when he went away. ”

      ….

  • Lifelessly

    Life is always absurd or not with or without god despite that why materialistic things mean so much to us it’s fleeting but blissful ignorant but peaceful
    so many agreed that it bullshit to being tied down by a god
    Even the after life seems pointless considering all the religion afterlife what do you have to look forward to
    (Most but not all) foretells either a blissful but boring after several thousand yrs new Earth and heaven where most emotion and happiness are control to the point of robotic or a flaming pit of fire where you burn unjustly and with no eternal respite which itself sounds like hell already on both sides.
    And then the hindu don’t know much but I should expect the same as the other religion that believes in the god of the bible (heaven and hell that is) If am wrong about this (deeply sorry to the offended) except it’s alittle more just now with humanity being reset after something call Kali yuga.
    then buddism and taoism and Shintoism probably all the same basically all around reincarnation so I guess you can look forward to that I guess but couple time eventually it the same.
    It all the same eventually even the only thing that has meaning and make life less absurd is materialism and fleeting thing like candy or games

    • Lifelessly

      Heres a little poem or haiku from me
      *Ahem*
      “A life simple and fleeting
      Here and thereafter
      Darkness for all to see”

      • ThaneOfDrones

        Who is this “all” who will do the seeing?

  • Phil

    Who says life has to have a meaning? It is just something people make up that can’t cope with it.

    • Elizabeth A. Root

      I tell people that life is its own meaning. Like Khalil Gibran said, we are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself.

      Life that doesn’t long for itself goes extinct really fast.

      Feel free to have all the side hobbies you like.

    • Ohyetwetrust

      Existential philosophy teaches people to make their own meaning. Not saying it works but if you are seeking meaning, that is your own personal responsibility. Someone pushes religion on you, run.

  • Jack the Sandwichmaker

    Hearing some of the descriptions of Heaven, it sounds like the person I call “myself” would cease to exist anyway, even if Jesus were to graciously accept me in to heaven. Heaven sounds like it’s full of soulless emotionless beings with no connection to the people who once lived on Earth.

  • Disraeli Demon

    WLC is like a handyman who turns up to measure your house with a mile-long ruler, and after a few fruitless attempts to get it in through the door, says, “sorry, you can’t have any work done, your house is too small.”

  • RichardSRussell

    I know that Patheos is a business and has to make money any way they can, but I’ve still gotta wonder how many clicks they get on the banner at the top of Cross Examined, which today is touting the wonders of the Aquinas School of Theology: “Find your passion! Study theology and ministry in the Catholic and Dominican tradition.”

    • Kodie

      How many more times do I have to click on this site before they can afford a “back to top” button?

    • Greg G.

      I click on the Visit Israel ads occassionally so the adware keeps showing me pretty women in bathing suits.

    • Inquiring minds wanna know.

  • Phil Rimmer

    I apologise for this near enough cut and paste from another thread, Hey, Its mine and its what I want to say.

    What if we had a culture that acknowledged and embraced death? That accepted that the greatest poetry is only accessible to those who expect total extinction; that believed (give or take the statistical noise of a few decades) today is the best moment in our entire history, life’s history, seeing more, knowing more, even laughing more, certainly caring more. Only available through death, through evolution of genes and cultures, through replacing tired old brains pruned to the limit with fresh ones sitting atop that best day, today, ready for the next bit of adventure?

    I’m scared of spiders, but in front of my kids I was brave. They lost their fear of spiders. All that rehearsal of bravery made me a bit braver too.

    What if cultures started to feel this way? I see a sea change in our relationship to death. Jonathan Miller, Miriam Margolyes and folk like them, in the UK at least, re-introduce us to the realities of life. We talk about it more and in less fearful terms. We talk of regaining dignity in our own end increasingly. My dad most particularly wanted me not to fear death and painted the picture of its achievements. It stuck.

    • Ohyetwetrust

      Thanks, Phil. excellent.

      I wrote above that I was a hospice chaplain at one time. Buddhist teachings are healthy and sane and people confront their fears of death. It’s important to know that Christianity teaches, indoctrinates people in an exaggerated fear of death. They are paranoid they won’t get into heaven, obsessed with ‘looking good’ in church and like they have a special ‘in’ with God. To do this they can spend years judging their fellow church members and family and acting superior. They follow the religion’s doctrines and cause great political and personal harm. I can’t stand to be around them but my family is still stuck in this so I have little to do with them.

      • westcoast77

        No offense, but Buddhist teaching is not a monolithic set of beliefs which can be neatly labeled in a couple of words. Buddhism is complex and varied, with significant differences in the various schools and in individual practice. Who can say if samsara or the many levels of Buddhist hell are healthy and sane? My knowledge of Buddhism is first-hand, acquired through living for many years in Korea and Japan, and having a Pure Land Buddhist son-in-law. I wouldn’t dream of making judgmental pronouncements on the relative sanity of Buddhism or of any other major faith.

        Fortunately, neither you nor I nor William Lane Craig are the arbiters of what constitutes “healthy and sane” religious faith. With some obvious exceptions, I have found in my 70+ years that most people–regardless of religious belief or total lack of same–try to authentically live their lives with integrity and care for others.

        My philosophy is to be open-minded and acknowledge our own conceptual limitations. Your sweepingly intolerant generalities, which are favorable toward Buddhism (about which you seem to know little) and negative toward Christianity (ditto) are odd viewpoints for a self-described hospice chaplain.

        • Phil Rimmer

          Yet, I think Christianity is indeed blameworthy for selling everlasting life, with rewards and punishments.

          In some areas (in Northern Europe say) through the Enlightenment some varieties emerged into decency. My own favourite (I write about them often) are the UK Quakers. These folk have little moral dogma and give little thought to beyond the living. If there is Grace it is in using their given talents, wit and wisdom, to be moral authors of the good for the living.

          Because kids may well emerge into rational beings as they experience our new world, giving them as a fact when young that they will live forever, like thus and so, is a horrid gift. They may well be forced by sheer lack of evidence to realise later the unlikeliness of the promise, with the depressing result that Granny, their little brother, needs to die all over again. Just don’t promise it. We can live without it and probably better and more keenly.

          I agree Buddhism is a mixed bag. My daughter at 12 wanted to explore religion for herself and I suggested two to look at. UK Quakerism and Buddhism. She rejected the latter a few months later on account of it leading folk to believe people earned their misfortune, leading to a negative view of the unfortunate for no good reason. Its good and clever insights were contaminated with other toxic ideas, utterly unfenced-off. That file, stamped immoral, was closed.

  • Greg G.

    Too bad nobody checked SMBC while Paul was here.

    http://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/utilitarian

    Don’t forget to click the Big Red Button.

    • Neko

      Greg: I got banned from Godless in Dixie so can’t respond to your comments. We went on forever about mythicism some years ago; no need for a repeat. Hope you’re well. –Neko

      • Greg G.

        Hi Neko,

        Somebody named Neo began to post here last week. At first I thought it was you and was disappointed thinking you had changed your black cat avatar, but I soon realized the arguments weren’t on par with yours. I was happy to see the black cat at GiD.

        Yes, I am well and happy. I hope you are, too.

        • Neko

          Thanks! 🙂

          I did delete my last profile, but it’s the same me with the same avatar. Good to see you, too. I remember you as a challenging sparring partner–really enjoyed getting down in the weeds.

          I’m doing OK, can’t complain!

    • Jemolk

      As a utilitarian, I find this highly amusing. Yes, yes, if you being a utilitarian is reducing total utility relative to other options, then as a utilitarian I must say that in such a case you shouldn’t be. But that’s fine; I’m not an authoritarian git trying to get everyone to work the way that works best for me.

  • JustAnotherAtheist2

    I find it very difficult to read Craig’s rantings and not think of a crying baby gif.

    • Ohyetwetrust

      big girls don’t cry and Real men don’t make fun of men or women who cry. Or imply they are weak. Check your macho attitude.

      • JustAnotherAtheist2

        Huh?

        • Ohyetwetrust

          negative comment about girls being crybabies.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          I haven’t a clue where you are getting this from. Did you mean to respond to another comment?

        • Ohyetwetrust

          I was in error. My apologies.

        • Greg G.

          There is nothing about girls or women in JustAnotherAtheist2’s comment unless you are calling William Lane Craig a female.

          “gif” is a picture file type that can be animated.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Thank you, I had no idea where s/he was coming from.

        • Susan

          negative comment about girls being crybabies.

          I think you misread. JAA2 typed “gif”, not “girl”.

          It was about a gif of an actual baby, not gender specific.

          Like this:

          https://giphy.com/gifs/cry-baby-TL2Yr3ioe78tO

        • Ohyetwetrust

          thank you, I am in error.

        • Susan

          thank you, I am in error.

          It happens to all of us as we skim through discussions.

          Thanks for your instant response. I don’t mean that in a patronizing way.

          It’s just that I’ve been involved in a discussion with someone who can’t seem to be able to do what you just did, what we all have to do (because it happens because we’re human).

          https://disqus.com/by/ozarkmichael/

          Anyway, thanks for being an example of reasonable discourse.

          (Sorry to wander off.)

        • Ohyetwetrust

          Thanks for figuring out my error. I hope I always regret my errors and try to make it right.

        • Susan

          I hope I always regret my errors and try to make it right.

          I hope the same for myself and anyone with whom I’m trying to have an honest discussion.

          It’s an important part of the process.

          Like I said, I wouldn’t be making such a deal out if it if it weren’t for me having to deal with someone who doesn’t understand and won’t comply with such a simple concept in another discussion.

          I screw up all the time.

          I just appreciate that you acknowledged an error. Something so basically correct that shouldn’t have to be explained.

          I hope the link I provided explains why I’m going on about it.

      • Raging Bee

        We’re not implying they’re weak, we’re implying they’re childish and thin-skinned.

  • epicurus

    Craig has also said the happy smiling assurance of a girl he liked convinced (and became his girlfriend and wife) him that Christianity was true. I guess if she had been a happy smiling Mormon he would now be a famous defender of the Mormon faith. Doesn’t sound like a particularly rigorous way to approach the matter if he was really so concerned as a child about death. but I guess it fits into his current theology that it’s more about how you feel than what the facts are – Self authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit, etc.

    • Elizabeth A. Root

      I think C. S. Lewis used that motif in The Screwtape Letters.

      • epicurus

        Craig has the rep of the Philosophy doctorate logic machine amoung his followers, so it’s more annoying to hear him go down that road (at least for me) than someone like Lewis, who was an English Professor who liked to play philosopher.

        • Greg G.

          Some time ago, I saw on Craig’s Q & A section where he was going to respond to the Euthyphro Dilemma (IIRC) but he was misquoting it. A guy with that many advanced degrees either couldn’t cite an ancient paradox or he was straw-manning it because he couldn’t defeat it.

        • Otto

          Craig should easily answer the dilemma, something is good because God says so, he has said as much and he is big into Divine Command theory IIRC.

        • epicurus

          Probably a bit of both

    • That he could be just as convinced a Mormon as an evangelical (if he’d taken that other fork in the road with a Mormon girlfriend) shoots down his claims of objective truth. But of course that wouldn’t convince him.

      Which shoots down his claims of objective truth.

      • epicurus

        I’m sure his response would be along the lines of eventually rejecting any other religion he might have gotten into because of the obvious problems with all non Christian religions – he would have ended up a Christian eventually because only Christianity can stand up to rigourous analysis.
        I’ve heard that line used by some on occasion.

    • I Came To Bring The Paine

      It would’ve been funny if your comment instead ending with “- Self authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit, my ass!”

    • Ellabulldog

      getting laid is a religious experience 🙂 also a big motivator to be religious.

      • Meepestos

        Brings to mind this quote: “indoctrinating the young girls before they reach marriageable age and you have the foundations of a church. (You have to get the girls first, any club owner will tell you this, get the girls and the young men will follow.)” A priest told me something like this in a different way by saying it is better to get the girls in church, as nowadays there are so many of them that are single moms.

        • Ellabulldog

          if my church had prettier girls I might still be Catholic. Emotion before reason. Sex before reason 🙂

        • Meepestos

          In my neck of the woods, the moms looked hotter than their daughters.

        • Ohyetwetrust

          probably to keep their husbands away from their fathers

  • DingoJack

    Awww poor ol’ WLC — someone should send him a copy of Fitzgerald’s translation of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.
    [He’s still remembered (& quoted) 888 years after his death, that’s some kind of immortality. I wonder if WLC could hope to be able to have the same?]
    ———-
    PS: Interestingly, WLC craves immortality (like a frightened child) — but is too mediocre to do anything to keep his memory alive in the minds of the living.

  • Ohyetwetrust

    I’m a former hospice chaplain and atheist. I know that people turn to god, like an addiction or a baby’s pacifier to deal with their fear of death. And I’ve seen many women (mostly) in my life who went back to Christianity (one’s an ex-JW) because they felt anxious, were adrift, or unable to face when we faced, many of us as young children. It’s sad to see someone with a good brain fall for the sentimental claptrap of ‘Jesus loves you’ and ‘God is in charge.’ Sad.

    • Good point that religions are essentially coping mechanisms for a lot of–if not virtually all–subscribers. Of course, there are many other coping mechanisms available (e.g. meditation, exercise, energetically loving and helping fellow human beings), but as I’m sure many on this thread already know, unlike “nicer” forms of coping, religions are often destructive in myriad ways and can be quite obnoxious when they are weaponized against non-adherents.

      I would just rephrase slightly here: “I know that people turn to god[-beliefs]…”

      Reason being that wording such as “turn to god” connotes implicit acceptance and affirmation–even by non-theists like us!–that “god” DOES exist. I am more comfortable–and feel more true to myself and frankly, honest–if I word as “…people turn to god-beliefs…”

    • I think the most common reason for Christian belief is indoctrination during childhood. But the second most common reason is probably as a way of coping with psychological problems.

  • Contractions of Fate

    I cannot imagine why anyone would have the slightest interest in anything William Lame Crackhead has to say.

    Several years ago I saw Sam Harris absolutely tear Crackhead to shreds, napalm the pieces, incinerate the ashes and then take a dump on the carbonised dust. I’ve never watched anything with him in again.

    Apart from the one with Lawrence Krause doing pretty much the same thing as Harris, but not quite as elegantly.

    >:8o

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      It’s not about Craig himself, it’s about those people who haven’t yet seen him be exposed (or didn’t realize it when it happened before).

    • Several years ago I saw Sam Harris absolutely tear Crackhead to shreds, napalm the pieces, incinerate the ashes and then take a dump on the carbonised dust.

      That was an eloquent summary, articulate sir or madam.

      Can you point us to the video? I believe I’ve seen a WLC/Harris debate, but I don’t recall such a spanking. Maybe I saw a different one, or maybe I need a second look.

      • Contractions of Fate

        Oh, I have no idea where it is now. Sadly, I was not able to download YT videos back then. But how many times did he go up against Sam Harris? It’s probably the one you’ve seen, which I recall being nothing but delusional and erroneus apologetic claptrap from WLC.

        I watched more Sam Harris after that, but he was never as good, IMO. And when he started talking dross about AI destroying the human race and the delusional philosophy that because you cannot choose to eat Mount Wilson with a plastic spoon, you therefore have no Free Will, I unsubbed from his channel and podcasts etc.

        It’s a bit like that imbecile, Sargon of Akkad. He does one good video tearing Anita Sarkeesian to shreds and everyone thinks he’s the best thing since powdered eggs. But watch everything else he’s produced and he’s a ridiculous, petty little Alt Right Little Englander with absolutely no conception of how the European Parliament and EU actually works and on every other subject apart from Anita Sarkeesian he talks nothing but tripe.

        >:8o

        • Yes, I’m quite familiar with WLC’s self-congratulatory BS in the aftermath of a debate. I need a barf bag handy when I listen to his podcast. “My goodness, Kevin, I was shocked when I heard the X argument from my opponent. Doesn’t he know that metaphysicians and alchemists dismissed that argument decades ago?”

          I haven’t gotten into the free will discussion. It’s fascinating for some, but it’s uninteresting to me.

        • On WLC’s website, there is only one video of one debate which he had with Sam Harris. Here is the link:
          https://www.reasonablefaith.org/videos/debates/craig-vs.-harris-notre-dame/

          I doubt that they have debated more than this one time.

        • Thank you.

  • Flint8ball

    WLC is full off existential nonsense. Believers don’t think critically, so his career is rock solid. He’s old enough that he’ll ride this out without any discomfort.

  • Mustafa Curtess

    No – Life is a humanitarian ordeal because OF an imaginary God. Mankind will never achieve our rightful place in nature until we liberate ourselves from the emotional and imaginary bondage of superstitious “faith”.
    It’s 600 years overdue.

  • Pofarmer

    Stole this quote today about pro lifers

    “They claim they love what they cannot see ( God & unborn) but they can’t stand what they can see.”

    • I Came To Bring The Paine

      It seems to paraphrase 1 John 4:20: “If a man say, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar: for he
      that loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he
      has not seen?”

  • Kit Hadley-Day

    he seems to make the same mistake that those who like to cite the thermodynamics against evolution do, he seems to miss that the macro rule may be true over all, but at the local level things do not have to follow. in the long run we will fall to oblivion and be forgotten (well most of us anyway) but within our lifetimes we create our own meaning.

    And as to child like fears, that just reinforces my opinion that religion allows people to stay children. Meaning they will never have to face certain brutal realities, preferring the happy delusions of childhood.

  • GW1: Bob, another excellent article.

    WLC: This is reality in a universe without God: there is no hope; there is no purpose.

    GW: People have hopes and purposes, even in a universe without God.

    WLC: Life is utterly without reason.

    GW: No deity created life for a reason.

    WLC: In a universe without God, good and evil do not exist.

    GW: In the real universe without God and in a hypothetical universe with God, helpful and harmful behaviors exist.

    WLC: If God does not exist, then life is objectively meaningless; but man cannot live consistently and happily knowing that life is meaningless…

    GW: Even if God did exist, life would be objectively meaningless because the meaning of human life would be subjective to God.

    • A dictionary would help show that good, evil, morality, and the rest don’t need a “really” or “objective” qualifier.

      • An encyclopedia would show something different. The nature of good, evil, and morality is a very complex topic which has been debated for millennia. As you know, subjective vs objective morality is a controversial subject, which has been discussed on this forum previously. I don’t think it was your purpose to address that specifically.

  • Ellabulldog

    Yes, we live a finite existence. It’s evident.
    I suppose if Craig is smart he knows what he is peddling is false. It’s a living for him.
    If he doesn’t than he is simply a wishful thinker. Afraid. Fearful. Trying to convince his mind that reality isn’t what he knows it is.
    Bad enough that he fools himself. Shame he wants to fool others.

    I think he knows he is wrong. Lots of money to be made peddling religion. I suspect most preachers/pastors/popes simply are doing a job.

    Quite vain if he thinks the universe is about him and humanity.

    Sure has a lot of sunk costs tied up in his faith if I am wrong about his motives.

    He’s not alone. Millions to billions are superstitious. They sure do like to all get together to tell each other how they aren’t wrong. Takes a lot of effort to maintain the delusion.

    • Perhaps the lesson is that even guys with 2 earned doctorates can be childish. Good thing for him his followers aren’t looking for a serious argument but rather a pat on the head.

      • Ellabulldog

        Doctorates in nothing. Theology is like taking a course in how to use an abacus.
        it’s time has long since passed. His philosophy doctorate focused on well…theology it seems.

        Seems he could have amounted to something if he had better role models.

        • Theology is like Harry Potter-ology. You can get great expertise in either … but who cares?

  • Ellabulldog

    Another thought. Craig’s whole career is tied up in the Kalam argument. It’s fallacious. It states everything has a first cause and somehow this cause is “God”. Of course this god doesn’t need a cause. So quite illogical and special pleading. We certainly live in this universe. We have evidence of it. We have zero evidence of any god. Wishful thinking is all it is.

    Amazing how someone can spend a whole lifetime in a useless endeavor. A lifetime confirmation bias quest.

    That he is a “Christian” is no surprise. It is surprising how he somehow thinks ancient fable is the “god” that also is the entity that was this first cause.
    Seems he also has to neglect centuries of history of how this “god” was invented by humans.

    People believe anything if they really really want to.