Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Atheism and Other Religions (10.04.08)

That was interesting. I hadn’t intended to generate such panic in the atheist community. In fact, I had no idea they followed my work so closely.

I am not surprised that militant atheists have become just another angry victim group, because that is what they have always been, starting with Grandma O'Harebrain. Please bear in mind that I am specifically referring to the easily offended activist kind of atheist who wishes to rewrite history and efface the Judeo-Christian heritage of this country, not to the person who is really and truly just indifferent to God. I have no quarrel with the latter kind of atheist, nor should they with me. While our respective philosophies are no doubt bizarre to one another, I am fully cognizant of the fact that it takes all kinds to make a world, and that a good atheist will contribute much more to the world than a bad theist. It’s a non-issue to me that there are good and decent atheists.

Nor do I have any problem whatsoever with agnostics. While I regard militant, or “positive” atheism as the commonest form of philosophical stupidity (i.e., the affirmation that God definitely does not exist, as opposed to mere disbelief in God), I would never say that of agnosticism. For one thing, simple common sense and intellectual honesty compel agnosticism, and I would never denigrate common sense, being so uncommon and all.

There are several ways to end up being what I call an obligatory atheist. Like every other human capacity--from math to music to hitting a baseball--the ability to intuit the divine runs along a continuum. Frankly, there are a few people for whom the realm of the sacred really does seem to be a closed book, but I actually focus a lot of my writing on trying to give these good folks a hand up, a way to "get" religion. On the other hand, a larger percentage of atheists have been traumatized or repulsed by a dysfunctional version of religion as a child. They are the ones who can get more angry, obnoxious and militant.

Another segment of the atheist population consists of the “not smart enough” who are nevertheless extremely proud of their intellect. This in itself is a contradiction, for they have great faith in the intellect’s ability to know reality, and yet, place an arbitrary limit on what the intellect may know. The placement of this limit is not a result of logic or reason. It is actually more of a religious inclination, for it is an absolute statement about what the human mind may or may not know. And once you are in the realm of the absolute, you are reflecting one of the attributes of the divine mind.

I do not know the first thing about wine. And yet, I know that I do not know, and I also know full well that there are enologists who do know what I don’t. In fact, I am one hundred percent certain both of my ignorance and their expertise in this area. But since I am ignorant, how do I know this? Among other reasons, I know it because it would be absurd to deny the testimony of thousands of enologists who have trained themselves to make subtle discriminations in the realm of wine. If I were to object and tell them that they are fooling themselves and that there is no empirical proof that one wine is any better than another, they would properly regard me as a gustatory moron with a boorish and cretinous palate.

While numbers aren’t everything, needless to say, the numbers are on my side, in that billions of human beings have personally experienced the Divine, whereas atheism is an absurdity that makes no sense to all but a few eccentrics and misfits. More importantly, there are any number spiritual geniuses who have left maps of the domain of spirit that are every bit as subtle and detailed as the maps of science. I have been guided by these maps, so I know the territory they describe is ontologically real.

One atheist yesterday took me to task for “trashing” atheism because I hadn’t personally experienced it, but that is false. There was a time that I was an atheist, but I eventually found its philosophical foundation to be utterly lacking. When I wrote yesterday that positive atheism was naively self-contradictory at every turn, I meant that literally, not as an insult. Most bad metaphysics can be dismissed with a single insurmountable sentence or two, and atheism is no exception. To declare that it is absolutely true that only relative truth exists is nonsensical. And to declare that absolute truth exists is to make a statement so pregnant with metaphysical implications that one could write a whole book on the subject, which I done went and did.

One commenter proclaimed yesterday that “I am an Atheist because the universe makes perfect sense to me without putting God in the equation. You say God is easily provable. That is horse manure. There is absolutely no evidence God exists. God is nothing but a manmade idea in order to give one hope for meaning and even everlasting life.”

He dismisses all religion as an “invisible myth that you cling on to. In fact, I now have as much justification that there is an invisible man living under my bed, as there is a God. In other words, I have no reason to believe in either, as no evidence exists that either God or the invisible man under my bed exists.”

How does one respond to such invincible ignorance? “There is no evidence that God exists.” Of course there is evidence. It's just that he is either unfamiliar with the evidence or has chosen to reject or ignore it, which he is naturally free to do. As for the statement that religious belief is an “invisible myth,” the reverse is true: it is only possible to cling to the invisible myth of atheism in a hermetically sealed environment of fellow fervent believers who are similarly innocent of any direct encounter with transcendent reality. They are free to insist that “all wines are identical,” just as I am free to dismiss them as possessing barbarous palates.

Yesterday I pointed out the truism that “Human beings are much more difficult to account for than God--in fact, impossible for materialistic science to explain. Of this I am certain.” An atheist responded, “Then I respectfully advise you read more books on science, & a few less on iambic pentameter.”

For the record, I have read thousands of books on the former and none on the latter, but somehow I must have missed the scientific breakthrough that has explained human consciousness. In fact, in the course of obtaining a Ph.D. in the field, it somehow eluded me that materialistic science has fully accounted for all of the miraculous properties of human consciousness. I’m sure I must have been absent that day. He specifically recommends Julian Jaynes’ Origins of Consciousness In the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, which I read when it was published 25 years ago. What his speculations have to do with the topic at hand is anyone’s guess.

Again, atheism is pure postmodern mythology. As this atheist just demonstrated, it has nothing to do with an honest assessment of the evidence, but, like so much bad metaphysics, is simply an assumption dressed up as a conclusion. On the other hand, my theistic belief is based, among other things, on personal experience that I would no more doubt than I would doubt the fact that my eyes see or that I love my child.

One of the reasons I wrote my book is to give sophisticated and ironized readers "permission” to take religion seriously. As a result of mindless repetition, secularists have made significant inroads to the undermining of rational religious belief, which will have catastrophic consequences for the future evolution of mankind, which we can already see with regard to spiritually exhausted old Europe. For a person who is alienated from his own soul and intellect properly so-called is like a disabled person with missing limbs, except that he doesn’t know it. Better yet, he is like a leper, in the sense that lepers suffer from nerve damage that causes them to be unaware when they are injuring themselves. To the extent that one is unaware of one’s soul, one will engage in more or less spiritually self-injurious behavior. (No different, really, than the neurotic patient who suffers because he is ignorant of his unconscious motivations.)

The effectiveness of one’s “thinking about God”--that is, thinking metaphysically--always depends upon two factors, neither of which falls strictly within the realm of rationalism. First, there is the depth, breadth and profundity of the intelligence involved. Obviously there are plenty of smart people walking around. College campuses are full of smart people. But they are hardly profound, deep, or wise thinkers. For example, there are presumably thousands of musicologists with Ph.D.’s, but who would pretend that their words are remotely as deep or profound as one of Beethoven’s late string quartets? There are many books on iambic pentameter, but only one Shakespeare.

The second thing that limits the mere rationalist is an arbitrary restriction on what is taken as evidence. The rationalist limits himself to empirical phenomena (or something reducible to it). But this limitation is not something that can be justified by reason. Rather, it is a pre-logical, a priori assumption.

The religious metaphysician is not hindered in this manner. He does not arbitrarily stop at the external senses, but considers other sources of information, most notably, divine revelation, the testimony of the saints and sages, and one’s own personal experience. The rationalist merely defines these realms out of existence, and as a result, is unable to reason about God at all. Or we can say that his reasoning will be limited to mundane facts of common experience, not to that which transcends them. They will simply project onto God their own limited understanding, like a two-dimensional circle pronouncing on the nonexistence of spheres. Of course spheres do not exist for such a square. They can prove it with ironclad logic.

This is what happens when reason detaches itself from the intellect, which is the realm of pure, unencumbered intelligence. Properly understood, reason is a tool of the intellect, not vice versa. Something is not true because it is logical, but logical because it is true. The rationalist confuses truth with method.

One of the monumental lies of our age is that the intelligence is inherently limited, so that the realm of ultimate issues must be left to faith alone. Who said that intelligence is limited? If so, how do we know that that statement is not equally relative and limited? Who said that human beings are intelligent enough to pronounce on the limitations of intelligence? Either intelligence is in principle unlimited, or else it is arbitrary, relative, and illusory, incapable of saying anything with certitude. But the shallow contemporary thinker wants it both ways: the omnipotent ability to know where to place an absolute line between what is knowable and what is not.

But reason is not autonomous, and cannot reason without data being supplied from elsewhere. As Schuon writes, “Just as it is impossible to reason about a country of which one has no knowledge, so also it is impossible to reason about suprasensory realities without drawing upon the data which pertain to them, and which are supplied, on the one hand, by Revelation and traditional symbolism, and, on the other, by intellective contemplation, when the latter is within reach of the intelligence. The chief reproach to be leveled against modern philosophy and science is that they venture directly or indirectly on to planes which are beyond their compass, and that they operate without regard to indispensable data...”

Bottom line: I would not presume to get into an argument with Van Gogh about what he saw with his eyes. I’d rather just enjoy the depth of his vision. But if you don’t believe in depth of artistic or spiritual vision, then a Van Gogh is no better than a Thomas Kinkade purchased on QVC, and atheism is just as profound as the Upanishads.

*****

For what it is worth, the wisdom of one of the world's leading atheists (HT Jewish Atheist):

Regarding the accusations of sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests, deplorable and disgusting as those abuses are, they are not so harmful to the children as the grievous mental harm in bringing up the child Catholic in the first place. --Richard Dawkins

He has a point, because inculcating a child to believe lies and fantasies is without a doubt abusive. This is what I mean when I say that intellectually consistent militant atheism amounts to strict foolishness.

50 Comments:

Anonymous juliec said...

Ah, Thomas Kinkade vs. Van Gogh - much like Arbor Mist vs. Cakebread (a really great wine I had once on my anniversary - that was four years ago, but man I still remember how good it was). Lots of people are perfectly content with Kinkade and Arbor mist. It's relatively affordable and makes them feel good. Fewer people have the opportunity to even experience (in real life, not through reproduction) a Van Gogh or a truly exceptional wine, much less understand in describable terms why one set has depth and the other sells a lot. It makes sense now - being a militant atheist is rather like being the kind of person who not only prefers Arbor Mist and Kinkade, but is angry that other people even have the opportunity to experience something deeper from other, less accessible and more expensive, paintings and wines. (They're all jut color and fermented grapes, therefore equally valuable/ less).

Full disclosure - Kinkade sets my teeth on edge.

10/25/2006 08:58:00 AM  
Anonymous looptloop said...

Here’s an interesting take on atheism by none other than an NYU psych professor. Gives a new twist to the idiom “Who’s your daddy?”.

10/25/2006 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

looptloop--

Very good--all interested cosmonauts are directed to that article. However, I'm sure the psychology of atheism is multifactorial and cannot be reduced to just one. Rather, it is what we call the "final common pathway" of a host of things. Perhaps Vitz even said that, as I skimmed the piece.

10/25/2006 09:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Tana said...

'whereas atheism is an absurdity that makes no sense to all but a few eccentrics and misfits'

There is an entire country of them. Country I left years ago, Czech Republic. Forty years of communism wholly annihilated the capacity to think about God any other way than with disdain. The majority fits to your definition:

‘Another segment of the atheist population consists of the “not smart enough” who are nevertheless extremely proud of their intellect.’

They are cynical and angry when God enters the conversation.

10/25/2006 09:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Jenny said...

It's a naive domestic burgundy without any breeding, but I think you'll be amused by it's presumption. - James Thurber

I've practiced this line so that next time I'm at a dinner party I can give my two cents on the "bouquet" of the wine and see if anyone catches it or thinks it's funny. Or maybe it's just me. :)

10/25/2006 10:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, to be a true, honest atheist, one must believe in the "absolute truth" that "there is no god". As a former, studied, "honest atheist" myself, it was that belief that ultimately forced me to consider the only tenable, realistic, even rational, alternative absolute truth -- that "there is a god" (resist though I did, long and strenuously). My best advice to anyone is these matters is to honestly and openly follow your thinking clear through to its logical end -- and see what there lies. You live, therefore you are obligated to do so.

NoMo

10/25/2006 10:44:00 AM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

One definite proof of Divine Intelligence and its knowability, IMHO, is your ability to crank out these rational and cogent little dittys in a couple of hours each morning before going to work, day, after day, after day, after day...............
Still amazes me after months of seeing it with my own eyes.

10/25/2006 10:59:00 AM  
Anonymous juliec said...

Nice Thurber quote, Jenny. Thanks for the link, Loop. An interesting article, which certainly had some personal resonance for me. It doesn't explain everyone who's an atheist, but it certainly raises some interesting correlations.

10/25/2006 11:08:00 AM  
Anonymous tsebring said...

Looptloop - great link. Some of the reasons Vitz cites for being an atheist are exactly the ones that kept me in that state - especially "specific socialization" (lots of nihilistic and atheistic friends) and "personal convenience" (I did not want to give up sex and drinking, as related in my previous comment). The "defective father" thing rings pretty true too - I think it explains a lot of "angry atheists" who can't relate to a father figure or can't understand why God would let bad things happen, like Russell Baker (read Rabbi Kushner's book for the antidote to this). I have met several women abused by fathers who struggle with faith for this reason. I think it's one of many reasons why, though personal experience (like 9/11) can help propel one in the direction of faith, often it will bitterly disappoint it we rely on it as a sole motivator. The seeker ultimately learns through these disappointments to reach beyond himself, beyond mere rationality and logic, to that which his soul and spirit knows but his mind cannot comprehend.

10/25/2006 12:51:00 PM  
Anonymous tsebring said...

Addendum to above: Often it is the shallow stupidity and downright materialistic heresy of the "Prosperity Gospel" as put forward by Oral Roberts, Ken Hagen, Ken Copeland, John Osteen, and others, that sets up the poor, hapless believer for a terrible fall into the "angry atheism" that I referred to. I personally do not blame or condemn anyone who was driven to atheism by such rubbish; perhaps Dawkins' statement about religious abuse really does apply here.

10/25/2006 01:02:00 PM  
Blogger Zrinyi's Last Stand said...

Just wondering if you've seen the recent scientific atheist push. I've skimmed an article in Wired magazine and read this column today http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15363394/site/newsweek/

The philosophical ridiculousness of atheism aside, the politics it leads to are more of my concern.
Tom Wolfe wrote a great little article speculating on the future if these scientific atheists would get their way.
http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles/WolfeSoulDied.php

This kind of inquiry predominates in my area of study, political science. Yet no scientific atheist wants to follow through on the conclusions of their atheism in terms of morality or reason. It's an illogical, shaking of the fist at God- just spiteful pride at its worst. Reason for them is just an instrument to their pride.
It's terribly frustrating trying to argue against such a position, at least until tenure.

10/25/2006 01:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Michael A. said...

TSebring:

I can't think of anyone who more deserved what they got from the Internet than Robert Tilton.

(For those out of the loop: There's a popular series of videos with dubbed-in audio of gas apparently escaping from Rev Tilton's other end, for a change.)

10/25/2006 03:32:00 PM  
Anonymous tsebring said...

Micheal A:
Amen, bro! Tilton is definitely one of the worst. He is a serpent if ever there was one. He and Wallis should share the same cell for a day; Tilton's prosperity gospel and Wallis's Marxist one would be like combining sodium and water (kaboom, if you rememnber HS Chemistry). Would love to see that video series; just the thought is making me laugh.

10/25/2006 03:59:00 PM  
Anonymous tsebring said...

Michael A:
just saw the Tilton videos; I still have tears in my eyes from laughing. Thanks for the heads up!

10/25/2006 04:21:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Figures- take a couple of days off for a heart attack and I miss all the good stuff. I'll catch up later.
Atheism? Dennis Prager was talking about it the other day. In short: No God=no meaning. If you're comfortable with a meaningless existence then be my guest. I wouldn't want anyone to feel uncomfortable. Too tired to argue. I'm alive. Very aware of that right now. But Booger the Cat is pissed. She missed her morning hour in the lap for the last couple days. Doesn't want to hear excuses from me.

JWM

10/25/2006 04:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Will said...

jwm - Here's wishes and prayers for a speedy and complete recovery, from me and Fergus the Cat.

10/25/2006 05:13:00 PM  
Blogger BaconEating AtheistJew said...

You state that there is evidence that God exists. You use this as your basis to dismiss and trash Atheism.

Lets have your evidence. Please, I'm waiting.

10/25/2006 05:53:00 PM  
Blogger MikeZ said...

(The site is sorta broken today - both IE and Firefox. The "About Me" comes under the first post, and everything else seems to want to be in a single column)

I've been looking through Wired's featured article, "The New Atheism". Looks like the culture war is in full swing. The inside title is "The Church of the Non-Believers" (which seems to support your thesis that atheism is a religion of some sort). In the Wired article, the generals are Dennett, Dawkins, and Sam Harris ("Letter to a Christian Nation", the main point of which seems to be "wake up, people - ypu're all wrong!").

10/25/2006 06:14:00 PM  
Anonymous cousin dupree said...

Bacon eating atheist Jew:

What, bacon is not enough?

What about bacon and beer?

10/25/2006 08:18:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

JWM-I am so glad to hear that you are on the path to recovery. My thoughts, dare I say prayers, will be positive for you! You will be back on your feet in no time hitting the Whittier Hills. Take care...get lots of rest.

10/25/2006 08:22:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

JWM - You should be aware that the Surgeon General has determined that Heart Attacks can be hazardous to your health.
Even so, you might want to avoid making a habit of them.
Seriously, congrats on on living to tell the tale; my advice is to tell more tales.
And of course, feed the Cat, very important.
;-)

10/25/2006 09:12:00 PM  
Blogger geckofeeder said...

JWM ,
So sorry to hear about your heart attack and so glad that you are still with us. Always I thank you for guiding me to One Cosmos. Get well soon. More time to read and blog and allow your heart mend knowing Bobbleheads are holding you in the light.
The latest Wired Magazine's cover story is "The New Atheism" and the players seem to be Sam Harris,Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennet. No time to read the article yet but it would seem that this is the beginning of a political "issue" and there is a call to "come out" if you are a secret atheist. Sort of like back in the sixties when the Time and Newsweek cover stories were "Is God Dead?"

10/25/2006 09:14:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Lisa,
SHHH! don't say prayers! Next thing you'll say 'Thank God'(!). The Athiests beliefs... um... lack of beliefs...are far to delicate to withstand all of that. JWM will heal just fine, but them... I'm not so sure....

10/25/2006 09:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Joseph said...

JWM,
My God be with you and peace be upon you and may you speedily recover.

10/25/2006 09:55:00 PM  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

That was interesting. I hadn’t intended to generate such panic in the atheist community.
No, you flatter yourself unduly. Most don't know you exist. Last count, we were at #3 in the population, beating out hinduism.
Let's synopsize briefly, shall we?
On your post about 'men w/o chests', I simply offered myself up as anecdotal evidence that not every last 1 of us are 'whimps'.
I called no names. I stated clearly that you were poisoning the well (go ahead & look that 1 up: I can wait). I offered evidence (an unrepresented example? Perhaps) that you were wrong.
& the 'intellectual heavyweights' (including yourself) devolved rapidly into high school histrionics more worthy of middle-school martinets. Shrill cries of 'Troll!', 'Barbarian', & 'girly-man' were pronounced stridently.
In less than 24 hours, you drafted up a post where, w/o indulging anyone concerned in a real dialogue, you came after me in a most dishonest manner, & declaring your 'victory' by slandering any & all dissent.
Primitive men, BTW, worship that which is not. Civilized men do not.
You also show a shocking lack of knowledge in re: atheism. Atheism predates Madalyn O'Hare by some 1000s of years, Epicurus & Anaximander to illustrate 2 such worthies.
Let's dissect this:
On the other hand, a larger percentage of atheists have been traumatized or repulsed by a dysfunctional version of religion as a child.
Do you draw on anything other than assertions? This is a stereotype, & a poor 1 at that.
For the record, I have read thousands of books on the former and none on the latter, but somehow I must have missed the scientific breakthrough that has explained human consciousness. In fact, in the course of obtaining a Ph.D. in the field, it somehow eluded me that materialistic science has fully accounted for all of the miraculous properties of human consciousness. I’m sure I must have been absent that day.
I am truly shocked & chastened then: I had mistaken you for a scientist, when in fact you are remarkably ignorant for such a learned man.
Science doesn't provide FULL ACCOUNTS. It provides ongoing data - the world is still a work in progress.
Shall I enumerate the logical fallacies you have indulged your ego in, then?
Being such a learned man, I would think you could spot them yourself, but everyone can deceive themselves. Even you.
Poisoning the well.
Ad hominem.
Appeal to authority.
Appeal to incredulity.
Hasty generalization.
Association fallacy.

For a degreed scholar, you behave like any other theist.
Poorly.
Do get off your high horse, & wallow in the mud w/the rest of us, that is, unless you're convinced you're on a higher plateau than the rest of us.

10/25/2006 10:15:00 PM  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

van:
SHHH! don't say prayers! Next thing you'll say 'Thank God'(!). The Athiests beliefs... um... lack of beliefs...are far to delicate to withstand all of that. JWM will heal just fine, but them... I'm not so sure....
What, are you 12 or something?
Delicate. Wow. Maybe you hadn't heard? Prayers do nothing. Nothing at all. Well, maybe a fuzzy 'feel-good' sensation, but that's probably indigestion.
"Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived." - Asimov

So pray away. I assure you that my constitution has survived much worse than your feeble imprecations.

10/25/2006 10:21:00 PM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

Ka,
That pony-tail-guy metrosexual picture is hilarious. I bust out laughing everytime I see it. Where did you find it?

10/25/2006 10:33:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

You are right, Van! They are very touchy. I am curious, though, as to why an atheist would even care what is discussed here at One Cosmos. Must be similar to being an air guitar professional player! Whatever...Thanks also for your permission to pray, Ka. You are so kind and tolerant.

10/25/2006 11:14:00 PM  
Anonymous 2b over said...

There sits a tortuous abyss between those enamored with egoistic thought & reason and those consoled by knowledge & wisdom.

10/26/2006 12:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Jacob C. said...

There are those aware of the hole in their soul. Some look to the vertical to fill it, others look to the horizontal - the latter being consumers of drugs, fast movement and lots of sex - vital men, in Bob's words.

And then there are those who can't see the hole, or won't admit that they have one - such a man prides himself being, in the words of William Burroughs, "the only complete man in the industry."

Appropriately, the character who said that line winds up a cannibal.

10/26/2006 12:11:00 AM  
Anonymous ben usn (ret) said...

Dear JWM:
My thoughts and prayers are with you Pal for a fast and complete reckonessence.
As a fellow cosmonaut of the elite Bobblehead special forces youknit, you will adapt and overcome this sityouwaitshun,
through this mission of revelations in absolute Truth and Life.
In the meantime, try to avoid rugby. :^)
I eagerly await your JWMservations when you feel better, my friend.
Best regards,
Ben

10/26/2006 03:02:00 AM  
Anonymous ben usn (ret) said...

Ka-
Check the chain of custody of your evidense for true endarkament.
I will give you points for the realization that you are wallowing in mud, although you have no clue that you answered your own question.
That horse is alot higher than you can imagine.
Predictably, you and baconatheist are blind to the evidence that Bob so kindly provided,
and just as predictably you fail to address it with your Assimovian rezoning.
You mock what you don't comprehend and fear what you cannot see.
Truly, a wimpy performance.

10/26/2006 03:43:00 AM  
Blogger AngloAmerican said...

I probably had something to do with the recent visits of Ka and the Bacon Eating Atheist Jew. I encouraged them to come over and take a gander at Christian writing that also accepts evolutionary theory. Even though I consider myself to be an Atheist I was impressed by the eloquence I found here and the fun with words. Atheist writing can be a little prosaic at times and I feel it often throws the baby out with bath water, mocking any appreciation for the mystical or the divine even when it is purely metaphorical. I realized the truth about evolution and creation one day in a moment I liken to Paul on the road to Damascus when I discovered that creative power was at its greatest when it was not driven by a mind or a plan. Indeed a mind would inhibit it. Religious imagery and evolutionary theory both fascinate me.

I intend to read all the archives here and perhaps learn a thing or two even if only to make my own arguments more interesting.

I note that there is certainty here that God exists and I think the argument is that He is more than just an Ideal. If that be the case then we can trot out our old argument about why God chooses to ignore the suffering of innocents. If God exists then we Atheists can return to our roots and point an accusing finger and demand an explanation or at least refuse to worship. Better to be hot or cold is it not?

10/26/2006 04:19:00 AM  
Anonymous charlz said...

Bacon Eating Atheist Jew asked for proof.

I offer the following. http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap061016.html
Observe the little blue dot in the upper left quadrant, realize that it is what it really is, then tell us you believe it all occured by chance.

10/26/2006 05:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Robert Simms said...

Like angloamerican, I too found the writing fun. Unlike AA I'm not an atheist. I came over informed of the lively debate. It started out as advertised. But soon I encountered what I assumed were the ubiquitous trolls: the Vans and the Hoarheys and the Ben usn (ret)s, to name the current crows. I found the mocking tones, both subtle and overt, completely out of place and character with what I assumed was a reasoned platform for discourse about belief. I assumed they would be properly chastised by a moderator, or by the commenting faithful.

Then I spent some time digging back into the archived comments and discovered that this site actually seems to devolve into name-calling on a regular basis. The teenagers in your midst ARE the commenting faithful, to some not-small extent. And apparently this mix is encouraged by its own moderator, Gagdad Bob. Else it would be deleted, no matter who is at fault. Certainly I found similar name calling in the posts themselves, as far back as I cared to go.

I am disappointed to come to the realization that what promised to be a site dealing with theological argument and metaphysical aspiration has turned out to be nothing more than a Fox News take on truth. Originally I was excited to find that there was a book I could read, written by Dr. Godwin, but as I continued to read the name calling and even personal attacks on people no one has ever met, I decided that the walk here speaks louder than the talk, no matter how honey'd the words. Count me out. Good night & may those who are looking find sweeter currents to ride upward.

JWM: Nothing happens by accident. That you are here, contemplating your latest adventure, marks you as worthy of divine insights. May you seek with keen intent; may you steer your self away from that which detracts from your search.

10/26/2006 05:47:00 AM  
Blogger Simon said...

Fine words. But it doesn't alter the fact that religious people should be killed.

10/26/2006 06:25:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out, Robert! ba-bye!

10/26/2006 08:01:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

By careful inspection of Robert Simms contribution "nothing more than a Fox News take on truth." and "...marks you as worthy of divine insights. May you seek with keen intent; may you steer ...", I venture to deduce a variety of the common leftist red letter christian, with perhaps a whiff of spiral dynamics, perhaps best expressed as Jenny said:

"It's a naive domestic burgundy without any breeding, but I think you'll be amused by it's presumption. - James Thurber"

Those of you concerned about the separation of church and state, fear not, Simon will maintain civil rights and control.

10/26/2006 08:37:00 AM  
Blogger BaconEating AtheistJew said...

Charlz, there are most likely many earth like planets in the universe.

The ones that sustain life do not prove that God exists.

10/26/2006 08:39:00 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

For what it is worth, the wisdom of one of the world's leading atheists (HT Jewish Atheist):

As if the world's leading theists are better. Need I quote Falwell or Robertson, Muslim Imams, or Rabbis? Dawkins made an offensive comparison, to be sure, but theists around the world happily call for the deaths of gays, members of other religions, etc. Falwell and Robertson blamed 9-11 on feminists, the ACLU, and homosexuals.

10/26/2006 08:50:00 AM  
Anonymous tsebring said...

Robert,
gimme a break, dude. This is a blog, not the Council of Nicea. Being a blog, it is by definition an opinion forum. Yes, it's themed primarily around theological questions, but, being that Bob attempts to bring all of this high stuff into the real world where we all live, it necessarily involves politics as well. Most of what is being posted is an attempt, and a damn good one, to show how politics is affected by theology (or lack of it), and vice versa. And any public forum that involves politics is going to be like the Mos Eisley cantina in Star Wars: "Watch yourself; this place can be a little rough".

Simon: I believe you have just crowned yourself Stalin's heir. And I feel moved to press that little red button again that implements....TROLL ALERT...TROLL ALERT...TROLL ALERT...

10/26/2006 10:17:00 AM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

Kaw, Kaw,

Robert,
You'd do yourself a great service by tuning your radar to the true trolls around here. You know, the ones who show their true nature for all the world to see on their first post. ;)
And don't kid yourself, you ain't goin' nowhere. Like you're going to find anything deeper or better on the web. You'll be what's known as a lurker.
Your resentment will draw you to the resented like a moth to a flame.

10/26/2006 10:18:00 AM  
Anonymous charlz said...

BEAJ,

Nor do they prove He/She/whatever doesn't.

If one of those inhabited world's beings were to have faith in a religion very like one of ours, do you think maybe you would then have a little faith?

And, for the rest of us - Who is this God of which we speak? Are we all discussing the same entity, or do we each conceive a different God?

And, if the concept is different for each ~ does not that somewhat lend credence to his creation by us instead of the reverse? Does it matter? Why?

10/26/2006 11:04:00 AM  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

I don't think that "militant atheists" are a major concern. But there is plenty of evidence presently that militant christians and militant muslims are.

11/15/2006 03:59:00 AM  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

Atheism is a religion in the same way that bald is a hair colour.

11/24/2006 04:01:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

That's for sure. Atheism is a religion for the metaphysically colorblind.

11/24/2006 06:54:00 AM  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Once you realise that theists believe that faith is EVIDENCE of things not seen, you pretty quickly realise that you are not dealing with people who are the full loaf of bread.

11/26/2006 08:11:00 PM  
Anonymous cousin dupree said...

Once you realize that atheism is nothing more or less than a frank confession of total ignorance of any realm transcending the ego, you pretty quickly realize that they don't know the difference between a loaf of bread and a grain of wheat.

11/26/2006 08:23:00 PM  
Anonymous smeggo said...

"[P]ure postmodern mythology" my foot.

"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?"
– Epicurus (ca. 341-270 B.C.E.)

1/22/2007 09:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Melanie Stephan said...

I have a very big story to tell all of you. It kind of answers all of your questions about whether or not there is a God. My story is that God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost talked to me. I have proof. Now God talked to me just like he talked to Abraham, Daniel and John in a series of dreams. In the dreams I was told the meaning of First is Last and Last is First. Birth is Last. Now Jesus told me a number of things but it is to long to write here. Another point is that Jesus talked to me, not any other God. Logic would say that since there is one God, and one Son all others are false prophets. Now for all of you that want proof. You really don’t want God to talk to you. It has been very difficult for me. Everyone has been calling me names like crazy, looney, etc. No one believes me and I have proof. You would think that people would like to see the proof. They don’t care to see it and they don’t want to know what else God had to say to me. So even though I have proof it seems that God wants you to find out the truth for yourselves. He said look and you will find. Now I study plants, my studies lead me to believing in God. My question was, ‘How do plants know about insects and animals?’ They make flowers for the insects to come and fruit for the animals to eat. How can they possibly know about animals, they don’t have a brain? God does. I just couldn’t see this as being coincidential. Now I don’t go to Church and I didn’t read the bible before the Holy Trinity dropped in on me. My thought was that the Pope or someone in the church would be a better choice that me, I am no one important. Then I have been reading some of what other people have been writing about the Church. Maybe God does not agree with the Church either. Another thing, Jesus told me the meaning of the Numbers. Most of us think we know everything. He said that there are a Number of people that are full of Crap, that includes you and me. Thank you for letting me write on you site. God is working blogs with my help. He could use your help too. Melanie Stephan

6/07/2007 07:56:00 AM  

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