Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Going Nous-to-Nous with Atheism

A self-acknowledged “leftie atheist” paid us a visit yesterday, leaving a comment that speaks for itself. If there is any pseudo-philosophy worthy of a priori dismissal, it is atheism, for it is naively self-contradictory at every turn. There is more wisdom (as opposed to mere factual or empirical knowledge) in a single randomly plucked page of Aurobindo, or Eckhart, or Schuon than in the entire body of works of every atheist who ever lived. I hope that doesn't sound polemical or defensive, for I mean it literally, and I say it in the most relaxed and offhand manner. But it does sometimes need to be said.

It only adds to the irony that this particular atheist congratulates himself on being a sophisticated “renaissance man,” which connotes everything an obligatory atheist can never be--which is to say, someone with “broad intellectual interests,” in possession of “more than superficial knowledge of many different disciplines,” and who is “accomplished in areas of both the arts and the sciences.” For true knowledge of any kind--let alone knowledge that is deep and broad--leads directly to the threshold of the Divine, something all wise men realize because men were made to realize it.

However, notice that I said “threshold,” for our natural reason can only lead to an honest confession of agnosticism unless one makes the conscious decision to take the next step over the threshold. If that weren’t the case, we would not be free to discover God--rather, we would be “theology machines,” which we are not, precisely.

Many in the west have been so poisoned by secularism that it is difficult for them to any longer perceive God. For that is a key point. The existence of God may be easily proved, but only to a generous intellect that is inclined to accept the evidence. To the intellect that so not so inclined, no evidence will ever suffice. But make no mistake--it is absurd for a wholly contingent being (which is how an atheist must regard himself) to make any absolute metaphysical claims about anything whatsoever.

To the extent that human beings may conceive of absolute truth it is because we participate in absolute truth. One such absolute truth is the metaphysical certainty that “God is the being that cannot not be.” Human beings, on the other hand, are much more difficult to account for--in fact, impossible for materialistic science to explain. Of this I am certain.

Perhaps an analogy will be useful. From the earliest age, I have always been passionate about music, and have regarded it as a primary need, no different than food, or knowledge, or beer, or baseball. However, there came a time that I reached “the end of the line,” so to speak, with the sort of popular music offered by our mass culture. So I decided to explore modern jazz, which is infinitely more complex (I won’t say “deep,” because aesthetic depth is an extraordinarily mysterious phenomenon that in itself leads to the threshold of God) than rock music--harmonically, rhythmically, melodically, and technically.

At first, much of it was impenetrable to my rock-trained ears, and it is fair to say that a lot of it sounded like “noise.” And yet, something compelled me to continue immersing myself in its world, until I was eventually able to “perceive” its depth and beauty. And once I was able to perceive this incredibly rich and complex world, contemporary popular music became even more offensive--even painful, for there is such a thing as aesthetic pain (more proof of higher senses). But if I were to approach the typical slack-jawed pop music fan and asked them how they are able to tolerate subjecting themselves to so much pain, they would have no idea what in the world I was talking about.

It is just so with atheism. One might well ask an obligatory atheist, “how can you tolerate a world view that is so painfully narrow and stupid?” Not only would they have no idea what I was talking about, but they would probably be offended at the blasphemy, for one of the curiosities about the atheist is that he is quite passionate about something that his philosophy denies at the outset, which is totalistic and certain metaphysical truth.

The atheist is literally metaphysically blind, for the gap between an animal and a being capable of knowing any truth--let alone total truth--is as great as the gap between nothing and the most inconsequential existing thing. The hiatus between even the smartest animal and the most benighted atheist is absolute. I have that much awe for the miracle of human consciousness. The mystery and majesty of man’s subjectivity is the sufficient reason for an immediate intuition of a source far greater, but only for a relatively uncorrupted intellect.

The intellect corrupted by secularism will nevertheless come up with its own substitute wisdom, such as this little neo-Marxist bon mot by our post-civilized visitor: “Reinvention is key to the progress of the individual.” Er, wrong. The key to the progress of the individual is not “reinvention,” if for no other reason than we are not invented to begin with--at least not by ourselves. Rather, the key to progress--both psychologically and spiritually--is self-discovery.

And where was that self before it was discovered? What is the ontological status of the “I” that exists in potential but awaits deployment in time? It is none other than the spark of divinity known as your soul. As one progresses spiritually, one becomes aware of the soul in the same manner that I became aware of the depth and beauty of modern jazz. It is not something you can ever discover empirically, for it is not a thing you can look at, but that through which you look. For as Meister Eckhart observed, “the eye with which we see God is the same eye with which God sees us.” Suffice it to say that this perfectly accurate statement makes no sense to the atheist, because he lacks (or is alienated from) the perceptual apparatus to understand it--that is, the intellect properly so-called.

Coincidentally, yesterday Dr. Sanity emailed me an editorial by Dinesh D’ Souza entitled God Knows Why Faith is Thriving. He writes,

“A group of leading atheists is puzzled by the continued existence and vitality of religion.

“As biologist Richard Dawkins puts it in his new book ‘The God Delusion,’ faith is a form of irrationality, what he terms a ‘virus of the mind.’ Philosopher Daniel Dennett compares belief in God to belief in the Easter Bunny. Sam Harris, author of ‘The End of Faith’... professes amazement that hundreds of millions of people worldwide profess religious beliefs when there is no rational evidence for any of those beliefs.”

It is a banality to point out that there are many ideas that are so stupid that only a highly educated person could ever believe them. Even on strictly Darwinian grounds, we can easily understand how religion is more adaptive than secularism: “Which of the two is more likely to survive, prosper and multiply? The religious tribe is made up of people who have an animating sense of purpose. The secular tribe is made up of people who are not sure why they exist at all. The religious tribe is composed of individuals who view their every thought and action as consequential. The secular tribe is made up of matter that cannot explain why it is able to think at all.”

D’Souza’s concludes that “it is not religion but atheism that requires a Darwinian explanation. It seems perplexing why nature would breed a group of people who see no purpose to life or the universe, indeed whose only moral drive seems to be sneering at their fellow human beings who do have a sense of purpose. Here is where the biological expertise of Dawkins and his friends could prove illuminating. Maybe they can turn their Darwinian lens on themselves and help us understand how atheism, like the human tailbone and the panda's thumb, somehow survived as an evolutionary leftover of our primitive past.”

For that is the key: atheism is a post-civilized primitivism, pure and simple. The comparatively narrow realm of evolution explained by natural selection is embedded in the much grander vision of an evolutionary cosmos that deepens and reveals its own truth to itself through the mysterious vehicle of human consciousness. Even if materialistic scientists imgaine that they have “explained” consciousness, they will never, ever explain how this consciousness may know absolute truth. For as J.B.S. Haldane observed, "If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motion of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true... and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms."

Lowly Darwinian man, severed from his transcendent source, can no more draw on his own resources to bear witness to total truth "than a mayfly can expatiate on the alternation of the seasons” (Schuon). For in the grand scheme of things, we are indeed a “creature that is born at midnight and whose life will last but a day.” And yet, we have been warmed by the heat and seen the light of the morning sun. And that is more than enough proof that the sun exists.

76 Comments:

Anonymous Michael A. said...

I know several people personally (like my wife) who have found religion too uncomfortable to deal with (usually because of some unpleasant encounters in the past with religious people), but who resolutely refuse to step across the line into atheistic nihilism. Lenny Bruce once described such people as "leaving the church and going back to God." I'm not sure how I would describe them.

10/24/2006 08:26:00 AM  
Anonymous juliec said...

Personally, Michael, I'd have to agree with your wife. Though I have a great deal of respect for most churches and the ways in which they benefit society as a whole, on a personal level I have had experiences which made me extremely leery of joining any congregation (I've tried many). From hypocrisy and paranoia to touchy-feely empty platitudes, I have seen the less pleasant aspects of organized religion. That's one of the reasons I come here every day. The important thing to remember is that the presence of unpleasant people or ideas in some churches does not equal the absence of God.

10/24/2006 08:58:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Probably fair to say that organized religion must always be complemented by disorganized religion, which is true of virtually all human endeavors.

10/24/2006 09:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Rob said...

Bob, I like your writing and I geneerally like your philosophy. This, however, is arrogant and rude. I'm an atheist, but I have the manners to know better than to trash the belief systems of others (especially when I can't experience that belief system myself).

This is just plain wrong and there are centuries of debate to prove it:

"The existence of God may be easily proved, but only to a generous intellect that is inclined to accept the evidence."

It's your site and you're certainly entitled to your opinion, but I think I'll go hang with Bertand Russell today - at least he had the good manners not to simply dismiss derrisively those he disagreed with.

10/24/2006 09:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Will said...

I sometimes think that the "pro agnostics" might perform a needed spiritual function in today's world. That's to provide a questioning perspective for those who are prone to leaping headlong into new age hooey via cults, trashy occult pursuits, etc. Nature, higher and lower, does have its own "braking system".

This new breed of passionately militant atheists, however - that's another story. If they have a "meaning" in the larger sense, it's only to underscore that the contrary forces are flexing, girding for what they sense is a coming Showdown. They're correct in their assessment, I think.

Louis Armstrong was once confronted by a fellow jazz musician who claimed that he didn't believe in God. Armstrong's jaw dropped, and he exclaimed in incredulity, "That ain't possible!"

10/24/2006 09:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

per Ka -
Thankfully, someone went nous-to-nous with me as a young, adamant atheist some 25 years ago. It was simply someone who actually cared and urged me, that if I was indeed the Truth-seeker I fancied myself to be, I owed it to myself to do no less than follow my "beliefs" to their logical conclusions. When I finally arrived at that empty void and found that it was not even a remotely sensible explanation of reality, I turned the other way, "saw the light", and have pursued it ever since.

Welcome, Ka.

NoMo

10/24/2006 09:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Jenny said...

Rob, maybe you're too sensitive or uncertain about your atheistic beliefs and Bob struck a nerve. otherwise you'd just write him off as a quack and go on your merry way. His post did not sound rude to me at all, just a statement of the facts.

And Will, it does appear to me also that "atheistic" forces are clicking into high gear. I have to ask myself why they care so much what religious people think? Or actually, more why they care so much what Christians think in such a negative way - as they don't seem to be all that concerned over islamic beliefs.

10/24/2006 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger PDS said...

I wonder if Bertrand Russell is still not a Christian. Isn't that THE great question?

10/24/2006 09:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This new breed of passionately militant atheists, however - that's another story.

I prefer the term "Anti-Theists"; they're beyong atheism into violent reflex hostility towards anything resembling theism.

An earlier term I used was "Fundamentalist Atheists", but "Anti-Theists" is a more compact term.

10/24/2006 10:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Dogsbody said...

While I'm not a dedicated follower of any organized religion, I also find the behavior of *some* atheists rude at best, fascistic at worst. Polite atheists like Rob are probably in the majority, though - most people tend to believe what they believe and let others do the same. We should beware of blanket accusations.

The fact is, when it comes to religion and spirituality, some people just don't "get it." I'm not an atheist, but I generally count myself among the clueless. God - no problem. Original Sin - pretty damn self-evident if you read history and keep up with current events. The rest of it - heaven, hell, redemption, being "saved" - makes no sense to me. And credo quia absurdum doesn't cut it.

I do not consider myself fortunate in this. There's a vast territory of human experience, history, wisdom, and emotion that I can't explore because I can't find the way in. I would never, out of pride in my own intellect or fear of the unknown, try to prevent others from entering if they are able. Wouldn't be human.

10/24/2006 10:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Will said...

Jenny - to his credit, leftie/atheist Sam Harris publicly pointed out that the left fails to chastise the Islamofascists, while continuing on with their Christian bashing.

For the most part though, the left does favor bashing Western Judeo-Christianity. I really don't think there's any mystery here. Evil is going to attack the Light, it's not going to bother with forces that are essentially on its side, though those forces are ostensibly "religious" as is the case with Islamofascism.

10/24/2006 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger geckofeeder said...

Me too Juliec. It seems that lots of others have made that choice especially in Europe and the vacuum created by so many leaving the church has left a space for the religion of peace to buy churches, take over schools etc. It is not for naught that Orianna Fallaci, an avowed atheist, left her writings to the Pope whom she met with shortly before her recent death.
Rob, Bertrand Russell was an antinomian, i,e, one who holds that the natural law and morality are superceeded by Christianity. What is particlarly appealing about him was that, unlike some other Bloomsbury types of that time, he stood behind his pacifism and spent a bit of time in jail, though it was because he needed a rest from his constant womaninizing and many marriages. He was what Gagdad would call a "vital man".

10/24/2006 10:40:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

Anon -

>>I prefer the term "Anti-Theists"; they're beyong atheism into violent reflex hostility towards anything resembling theism<<

OK, but that implies that traditional atheism has not displayed a "violent reflex hostility toward . . " etc. On the contrary, I think. The officially atheistic communist states proved to be very violent re the religious-minded. Even today, practicing Christians in the Peep's Repub of China conduct what is essentially an underground religion, this for fear of gov't repression, imprisonment, etc.

10/24/2006 10:50:00 AM  
Anonymous charlz said...

Born the son of a bible thumping pulpit pounding fundamentalist (really!) preacher, I became sorely dis-illusioned with organized hypocrisy, er uhh, religion at an early age when Ol' Dad surrendered in the discipline wars and gave up my soul to God.

Probably the best thing that ever happened to me as I then began a serious investigation into that which we call religion. For a time, my belief was that I might live long enough to see man reach other beings on another world and then, what ever beliefs they had that correlated with beliefs we had, that was what I would quickly believe. Sort of an extra-planetary agnosticism, I suppose.

Then, through many self inflicted troubles and travails, I began to observe what seemed to be a guiding or maybe even, protective, unknown unseen hand/force/spirit which/who, while allowing me numerous forays into almost terminal stupidities, always seemed to be gently correcting my path.

Now, I avail myself of the mystery at every opportunity through contemplation of the unknown, unseen, unlikely presence of the absolute One.

Ol' Dad has been forgiven and even thanked. He may have even known what he was doing. Organized religions lose their religion in their organizations.

People of like beliefs/minds/spirits will find a way to congregate kinda' like - like-feathered birds at One Cosmos.

10/24/2006 10:57:00 AM  
Anonymous juliec said...

One thing I've always found somewhat interesting/ amusing about Atheism is that the militant atheists I've encountered in life never seem to ask themselves "What if I'm wrong?" If we Bobbleheads, and people of faith the world over, are wrong, there is no eternal consequence, and anything we do in life is in fact meaningless. If the Atheists are right, then when we die, there will be nothing. No eternal being, no Heaven, no Hell. No consequence for refusing to believe in God, no accountability for the totality of our lives. The lives we live are truly irrelevant, because ultimately, inevitably we will be forgotten, and it will truly be as if we had never existed at all.

If, on the other hand, as so many believe (some of us especially after applying reasonable and rational thought processes), there is a God, then there must also be consequence. I don't claim to know what happens to the soul once the body has died, but I Know - not believe - that there is more than this horizontal existence. I can't prove it, certainly not to those who won't see. I just wonder, when their souls leave their bodies, how can they stand to face what comes next?

A couple more questions, then I'll let wiser heads than mine take over. If you are truly an Atheist, why do you care what other people believe? All we are is matter. All we have is this one life. If some of us choose to believe things that bring us happiness, hope or comfort (or the opposite, on occasion when we act counter to those beliefs), what difference does it make to you? Again, it all comes down to nothing, right? If it annoys you that other people believe in silly superstitions, that's your problem, not theirs. I know it's annoying to have random strangers approach you and force their beliefs down your throat, whatever those beliefs are. But to begrudge others that which fills a vital need in their lives, if not yours, seems pretty cold and callous to me. Not that it matters - we're all just random particles anyway, right?

10/24/2006 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger Mark W. said...

Gagdad Bob,

You skipped over a very major point. Natural reason can bring man to the "threshold", but he can *never* cross it on its own. (C.S. Lewis is the perfect example.)

There *must* be the gift of faith from God for one to cross the "threshold". Until the gift has been received, they are indeed blind as pointed out.

The gift of faith is freely given if one just asks for it with an honest heart.

10/24/2006 11:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Rob said...

Well, no, I'm pretty comforatble in my atheism (search on that keyword at my website). I'm no kid, I've arrived where I'm at over decades of serious thought and research.

What rankles me is when people from either side presume to tell us about the inner thoughts of the other side. I get just as mad when religious people are bashed for their "simple", good vs. evil, view of the world.

The fact is that you either have the faith or you do not. If you do, you can't know what it's really like not to and if you don't, you really don't know what real faith is like. The sets are mutually exclusive. And, despite a hell of a lot of rhetoric, I'm not convinced that either side has held up particularly well in intellectual debate over the last few hundred years.

So, it's fine to have a strong feeling either way, but foolish to mock those on the other side when your position is hardly intellectually secure. Before anyone objects: I mean it when I say "intellectually" secure. You may have the faith of ages and the feeling of utter certainty in your belief (either way), but that's not the same thing as objective evidence.

Was Bob mocking or rude? I think so. Atheists, he says, are "worthy of a priori dismissal". They are not wise, they don't have a "generous intellect" inclined to accept the "proof". They are animals, because they are "metaphysically blind". These are not the words of someone arguing in good faith, they are the words of a committed demagogue. They aren't polite towards contrary belief, which I think is the bedrock of the debate.

Also, before anyone objects, yes, I've said I'm an atheist, but gone on to espouse more of an agnostic position. I know this, but I don't like the wishy, washy way that too many people say they are agnostic merely because they don't want to think about it, don't want to come down on one side or the other, don't want to make up their own minds. I don't have the faith. Not one ounce. It would take a personal, tangible visit from the deity to change my mind. On the other hand, I concede that God may exist, I simply have no faith that He does. I call that atheism and damn the politics ahead.

As an atheist, I'll allow that there are "higher powers" than me in the universe all day long. I just don't think they are god-like in the sense that they are beings in the ways that we usually think of beings. Gravity, for that matter, is a higher force than me, but it's not a god. Collectively, all of the laws of physics (ones we know and those we'll never understand) or "Nature" might be called "God" by some, but I don't buy it. Higher power, sure, but not what I mean when I think of the word God.

I think too many people (on both sides) treat the question of God with far too little rationality and far too much mysticism. What are the real roots of faith? Why would a God, if such exists, cause these feelings in some and not others? If God does not exist, what point can there be in any universe at all? Important questions are endless. Rather than saying, "nanny nanny boo boo, all the people on the other side are poo-poo heads!", we ought to be tackling the subject seriously. Both our faith or our lack of it are equally good reasons to be serious about it.

So, yes, I'm touchy about this subject, but not for the simple reason.

By the way, if you read the book, Bertrand Russell takes it issue by issue as to why he wasn't a Christian, but one point struck me as particularly principled. He said that he could never condone any religion that preached eternal damnation for ephemeral sin. Infinite punishment could never, in his mind, be justifiable for temporary sin and he refused any God who would condone such, even if it meant his own eternal damnation. In the end, he thought justice was a higher principle than his own damnation and I like that about the guy.

10/24/2006 11:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Jenny said...

Juliec - I read something recently I found interesting about life after death. Aside from my own brushes with the Divine (and I personally saw a spirit that had just left a body when I was about 8 years old, scared the everlivin crap outta me) - I recently read the biography of Maxwell Perkins who was the editor for such writers as Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald - and while I was reading the book I thought a few times that this was a man who probably had a close personal relationship with God, altho he didn't appear to be a very religious man. Anyway, right before he died, he suddenly sat up in bed and looking over in the corner of the hospital room asked "Who is that?" And then promptly passed away.

10/24/2006 11:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Hoarhey said...

Rob,

Something that may interest you is that many here have been where you are with their atheism, before things began to change for them.
I think you'll find that the experience has been had else the thoughts would not be spoken.

10/24/2006 12:03:00 PM  
Blogger Mark W. said...

Rob and other atheists:

The other day, Bob wrote in a post:

...every man is faced with two, and only two, choices that will determine everything else: essence or existence. For the religious man, essence is prior to existence and determines existence. God knew you before you were bearthed and begaialed and keeps a running count of every hair on your head.

For the [man without faith], existence determines essence. You are an accident. You have no a priori transcendent essence, but your essence is determined by accidental factors such as race, class and gender.


Is this a true statement? Is it a difference in view points on essence and existence?

10/24/2006 12:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Joseph said...

Rob,
I believe you confuse profession of certitude with rudeness. If atheism were true, for example, there should be no offense whatsoever in referring to any person as an animal, since, de facto, we would be nothing but animals, albeit ones with strange cognitive powers, but without other intersting traits, like flight, for example.
You place all the emphasis on faith, as though, half of us have it and half of us don't. I, for one, don't have perfect faith. I have, since a teenage conversion to God, had a certain amount of faith, but not boatloads of it. I tend to rely, scientifically one might say, on the testimony of eye (of the heart) witnesses. Of these there are many, coming from different worlds (almost like planets charlz), speaking different languages, but telling the Self-same Truth. My personal favorites are Abhinavagupta, Shankara, Honen, The Buddha, Meister Eckhart, Ibn Arabi, Rumi, and Schuon, but there are many many more. They have crossed the threshold and travelled to the other shore (so they say). They have left a body of writings and teachings for us to chew on. What atheist has told us so much?

10/24/2006 12:11:00 PM  
Anonymous juliec said...

Rob,

You raise some interesting points, but by your own admission I don't think you can truly be called an atheist. Simply by stating "there may be a God", you have cracked open the door of possibility. An atheist is one who believes as a certainty that there is no god or deity. You, on the other hand, by your own admission have no faith - a different sort of non-belief altogether. Therefore, I think that your point of view is not in fact covered by Bob's post. It is interesting that you took it to heart.

As to the idea of an unjust God, who would damn to hell for eternity anyone committing a minor sin, I happen to agree with you. I suspect that many here believe that God is, in fact, the ultimate impartial Justice. If it were true that for the smaller sins we have committed we face eternal damnation, I would have to stand with you and Bertrand Russell, as every human I have had the privilege to know falls under the category of sinner. I don't happen to believe that God would allow for all the spectacular variation that is humanity if he only wanted to allow a handful of saints into Heaven - that strikes me as nearly as pointless and hopeless as atheism.

In regards to seeing things from both points of view, I have tried atheism, as have others here. With the help of quacks like John Edwards, my previously mentioned negative church experiences and secularist scholars out to prove that Jesus was actually a terrorist in his day, I found myself in the bleak position of believing in nothing. It very nearly made me suicidal. Fortunately, I managed (or was guided) to pull my head from my hindquarters and examine the ridiculous amount of good fortune in my life. Nobody is this lucky by happenstance.

10/24/2006 12:13:00 PM  
Blogger WhidbeyIslander said...

As a side note I am fascinated with your analogy contrasting modern jazz vs. pop/rock.

I pretty much gave up on pop/rock in the late 1970s when a growing appreciation for jazz forms (springing from my concert music training) exposed the three-chord emptyness of the top-40 list. (That, and the rise of the anti-music of Punk and Rap.)

But I have found found a lot of joy in pre-modern jazz as well (I can't get enough of Trad.) Have you shaken off the surley bonds of melody for the thin, airy heights of Bop?

10/24/2006 12:13:00 PM  
Blogger Jauhara said...

I can understand why militant atheists are so set on forceably proselytizing the rest of us by means of their "temples"...the courts, the schools, television and newspapers. You can even find whole churches which are ostensibly christian, from an historical perspective, that are now atheistic from the pulpit through the pews, and having forsworn their first love, are now actively substituting faith for political action. And through it all, they invoke the name of God, Jesus, or guilt in every one of their suckworthy endeavours.

10/24/2006 12:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since coming to believe that everything Jesus said was true in all its implications (he said he was God, etc. etc.), I have also come to believe that, by necessity, making the decision to believe is equally possible to every human being. One doesn't have to be an intellectual or a theologian to believe (and receive). However, if one to whom those words are available never avails him/herself of them, can they honestly be discounted out of hand? My advice is not to focus on the actions and thinking of the imperfect many, but the words and deeds of the one -- the one who did not say join this or that group, or follow this or that set of rules, but, simply, "I am the way, the way, and the life." Can it be that simple? I think it has to be.

NoMo

10/24/2006 12:57:00 PM  
Anonymous B. Fish said...

The odd thing about atheists that I have always found is that while they believe they are truly enlightened people of great intelligence, they feel the need to tell everyone.
You can know any number of people who believe in God in one form or another and not know what particular religion they follow (although it usually is easy enough to figure out after knowing someone for a while), but I guarantee that everyone knows about the atheists in their life. They (atheists) feel the need to tell people almost incessantly. It is something I have always found odd and rather sad in a lot of ways, because for some of them it seems almost desperate.

10/24/2006 02:28:00 PM  
Blogger HV said...

"...and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms."

An interesting and unexpected line of reasoning leading to a profoundly skeptical conclusion about mind-brain identity is found in philosopher Peter Unger's "All the Power in the World", available online. Especially Chapter 7, "Why We Really May Be Immaterial Souls". It's pure analytic philosophy (a hard slog through) involving no religious assumptions and not always compatible with religion. But reading Unger is rewarding, and you wind up feeling like your mind has been blown away by a Zen master, along with all your materialist preconceptions.

10/24/2006 02:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As to the idea of an unjust God, who would damn to hell for eternity anyone committing a minor sin ...

I don't think the Bible says or implies any such thing. Rather, the Scriptures say that all men of the fallen world are sinners, and the debt for these sins was paid by the death on the cross of Jesus Christ. He asks only that men repent of their sins and accept the gift He gave by His death and resurrection. If one is not going to believe in something, perhaps it would be good to be clear about what he does not believe.

Bob, was there a particular song that introduced you to jazz? I can precisely place the track that led me to explore and fall in love with jazz: Jeff Beck's version of "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" on the Wired album. I must have 25 different versions.

10/24/2006 02:48:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Please. I don't know why any atheist should be offended by my regarding atheism as a stupid philosophy, especially since the philosophy of atheism would necessarily regard my beliefs as lunatic. Although I find atheism offensive, I am personally not at all offended by it.

I certainly meant no offense by characterizing atheists as animals, since this is the designation their own philosophy would proudly assign them. For the record, I believe that atheists are created in the image of God. That is what I should think an atheist would find offensive. And most atheists are indeed metaphysically blind, since they deny the possibility of metaphysics at the outset. Furthermore, it should go without saying that atheists are not inclined to accept any of the ontological proofs of God. This is news?

And atheism is hardly the only philosophy I consider stupid. One could add to the list dozens of others, including logical positivism, materialism, deconstructionism, rationalism, pragmatism, behaviorism, dialectical materialism, reductionism, existentialism, etc. All may have a narrow applicability, but are integrally false.

I frankly don't know why an atheist would have even the slightest interest in my writings.

10/24/2006 02:54:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

anonymous--

Good question.... It might have been Potato Head Blues, by Louis Armstrong... Or Well You Needn't, by Monk & Trane... Or So What, by Miles... Waltz For Debbie, by the Evans trio.... I'll try to remember back to the precise instant the cosmic tumblers clicked....

10/24/2006 02:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Joan of Argghh! said...

I am reminded of Richard Wurmbrand's, "Sermons in Solitary Confinement." He was imprisoned in Communist Romania and subjected to all manner of torture, drugs, and mental abuse because he was, "sick" i.e., Christian. (Which I fear is the real reason the atheist intellectuals are rising up--it's deja-vu communism all over again.)

The point, though, is that, beyond all his learning, his mental acuity and reasoning, which was powerful, he was reduced to not even knowng who he was, or why he was in prison being tortured. He couldn't even form the word, "God" or remember his faith. But he testifies that he still knew that whatever the reasons for all his suffering, it was worth it.

I'm not sure if that is more a testimony to God's abiding reality above and beyond our ability to even express or think a coherent thought, or a testimony to the monstrosity that is Communism and its side-kick, atheism; that even the feeblest unutterable spark of life and free thought was better than all the so-called best efforts of men to "re-make" themselves.

In another sermon, he recounts the atheist sculptors, man and wife, who while working on a statue of Lenin, began to meditate on the wonder of the human thumb. They discussed and chipped away, and discovering their own hands within the mystery, and the amazing leap of life brought about by this little appendage, they decided that the God which made the thumb would be the one they would worship. A little step for a man, a giant leap for faith. Later on, they, too, were imprisoned for their subsequent Christianity.

Whether we're not sure if we're somebody, or if we're thumbody, we're not that far from knowing.

10/24/2006 03:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Rob said...

I don't know why any atheist should be offended by my regarding atheism as a stupid philosophy

Bob, let's be real here. Can't you see that that exact statement cuts both ways? Take off the "a" and it could come right from the mouth of an atheist.

I certainly meant no offense by characterizing atheists as animals, since this is the designation their own philosophy would proudly assign them.

I have no idea by what you mean here. I can tell you for certain that an atheist can see a man as more than a mere animal without invoking God to provide the difference. What other animal, for example, could argue over the existence of its creator? What other animal contemplates its own death? As Mark Twain argued, man is the only animal that blushes - or needs to.

Scientifically speaking, of course, we are animals, but I don't see that as a big deal, either way.

Personally, I would be thrilled to "accept any of the ontological proofs of God", if only I found any convincing ones. My example, Bertrand Russell, was almost certainly a smarter guy than either one of us and that fact that he didn't find any of the proofs convincing certainly doesn't, by definition, put me in "stupid" company.

I'm a bit surprised at the way you think of this. Most people, especially therapists, would know that calling someone's beliefs "stupid" is tantamount to calling them stupid. It's certianly not a nice thing to do, in any case.

You're foolish indeed to assume that no atheist wants to believe. I've seen many, many examples where a belief in religion was very, very helpful to a person in their life. No doubt it is a wonderful thing to imagine that you are all set and in tight with the deity - needing only to live an exemplary life to be assured of a wonderful afterlife.

The outlook for an atheist is depressing indeed (well, so are both heaven and hell, if you believe in them) and I can't imagine anyone desiring not to believe in God. But, I have to be honest with myself and I just don't believe. I haven't been shown enough proof, I haven't been endowed with enough faith, you pick the reason because, by nature, I probably can't know it.

It's snide indeed (not to mention simply rude) on your part to characterize all aethists as "proud" of their beliefs. That might cut both ways a little bit too, huh Bob? Might you be just a little filled with pride at your holy place in the universe? I can't say, of course, but you can.

Oh, and by the way, the only people who would know I was an atheist are people who read my website and my wife. I never bring it up, because I think it's impolite to debate religion with people unless they really want to. Certainly none of my coworkers or casual friends would have the slightest clue.

I frankly don't know why an atheist would have even the slightest interest in my writings.

Ah, now here you've probably won the debate and I conceede. I, personally, think that both sides have something to learn from the other, on the principle that you know least that which you are the closest to and most comfortable with. Your beliefs are never really stretched until they are viewed in the light of someone who doesn't share them. So, I hang out with religious people (which is how I know that faith can be very comforting), even to the point of going to church with them and respectfully listening to them talk about their faith.

Since you care nothing for the other side, I can see that my presence can only be harmful to you. So, I'll be on my way now.

10/24/2006 03:31:00 PM  
Blogger ximeze said...

Hi everyone

Been lurking/learning for about a month now, and am so very delighted to have found people who discuss Real stuff.

The questions of why some people have (get) faith & others don't & if one does not, where/how does one get it, made me crazy for many years. Was told "it's a gift", which did not solve the who/why revolving merry-go-round. Clearly there must be some kind of merit system at work to receive such a special gift.

When I found out that faith (pistis) in Greek is a VERB, you could have knocked me down with a feather, the merry-go-round stopped & I got off. One does not "have" faith (a passive receiving sort of thing), rather one "does" faith (action word).

Coming from a family where multiple languages are spoken, where the "family quack" is a jumble of idiomatic expressions, words & syntax garnered from those language frames, pretty much mix & match , I knew right away what a HUGE difference that one fact made. Time to reshuffle the whole deck of cards.

We are,in a way, prisoners of our language frame, the available words, cases & syntax, often trying to express in one, something which does not translate well. Thus: the idiomatic expression, used to get the full context/meaning.

I,too, thought only a Damascus Road experience would do the trick. Turns out the Great One has a sense of humor & the joke was on me, kicking, screaming, whining & moaning along the way.
It's turned out to be more the mustard seed kind of thing, with the occasional shazzam of clarity.

Thanks Bob for your postings, your book & the other things to which you point us (love "the art of knowing" - MP had IT down pat) Proud to be a Bobblehead.

10/24/2006 03:52:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Rob--

I don't know what to say. I haven't the slightest interest in converting someone who is at peace with God or with Godlessness to my point of view. I am sure there are plenty of atheist sites where you can feel comfortable with "your kind," but this site is basically addressed to people who wish to deepen an already existing belief in God, not to argue with those who don't have one or who believe such a thing is impossible.

I will leave you with one piece of unsolicited advice which you are free to ignore. Bertrand Russell was no doubt an intelligent man, but he is also a fine example of the truism that "philosophy is simply error on a grandiose scale." You can spend the rest of your life studying analytic philosophy, but you will leave the earth no closer to the Truth than when you came on board. Call it what you like, but of this I am certain. Some day you may thank me for avoiding that dry hole.

10/24/2006 04:16:00 PM  
Blogger BaconEating AtheistJew said...

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 man made idea in order to give one hope for meaning and even everlasting life.
Just because others believe in God, doesn't mean I have 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.

And most Atheists started out as believers because we are taught to believe at an early age.

Your diatribe against Atheists is typically bias and full of it. Atheist simply means without belief in God. In other words, you can't define what a common Atheist is or who a common Atheist is. We come in all shapes and sizes, and we all share different upbringings which led us to approximately the same conclusions about the invisible myth that you cling on to.

10/24/2006 05:11:00 PM  
Anonymous juliec said...

Ximeze, what a great way of looking at it. For those of us who have more or less been raised with faith, it can seem as natural as breathing. Losing it can quite truthfully make you feel as though you are dying, or that someone you love has died. However, like breathing it is indeed something that you do, a process. Whether it's prayer, meditation, simply pausing and living in the moment, or actively looking for God faith, like love, is something that requires constant tending.

10/24/2006 05:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Connecticut Yankee said...

Apropos of music as a vertical path-- I had a college classmate who grew up basically unexposed to any religion, decided to major in music, developed a special fondness for Bach, and eventually became a Christian-- her explanation being that she wanted to understand more about the faith that breathes through Bach's music, and then, as she put it, "the door [to belief] just opened." I don't find it surprising, BTW, that there are jazz groups who improvise on some of Bach's compositions. There is something about the vertical potential of music that reaches across the generations for those who have ears to hear.

10/24/2006 05:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Bruce Kodish said...

Re Richard Dogma and Daniel Definite, (I don't know enough to say anything about Sam's Horses...t, I leave this quote from Alfred Korzybski:

"...an active atheist is psycho-logically as unsound as a rabid theist."

10/24/2006 05:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Cousin dupree said...

Thank you for that confession, Bacon Eating Atheist Jew. But we never doubted for a moment that the universe you inhabit makes perfect sense to you. How could it be otherwise?

10/24/2006 05:35:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

The personal outlook which shows itself as leftist or conservative also applies to atheists as well, some are obnoxious in your face types, and some are quiet, thoughtful types, and the most confused are where most of the confused usually are - in the middle of the road.

As Rob said, and I can attest to having been until not so long ago best described as an one who gave no credence to religion, most people who knew me had no clue about what I thought of the fundamentals of their beliefs, unless they showed an interest in discussing religion and metaphysics, and then I was eager to discuss the matter - emphasis on discuss as in DIAlogue.

I'm with Joseph on this (Wow! Maybe that means that the Card's will win tonight!) when he said "I believe you confuse profession of certitude with rudeness." I welcome, I revel in, I CRAVE honest statements of a persons position. Rude people however, no matter their bent, tick me off and my personal personality flaw is to eagerly dive into their windy selves and let the air out of them with as much gusto as I can muster. My ability to refrain from doing that... um... fluctuates.

However I've never been 'offended' by either those professing faith, or those professing atheism - I have however been rather annoyed by some people of either stripe who don't observe civilized rules of discussion and argument. I think those who are so easy to feel offense over statements of position and what they see as their implications, probably hints at either insecurity in their own beliefs, or just an eagerness to indulge in the feeling of being offended.

10/24/2006 06:04:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Maybe atheists just don't have the "God gene" ...I actually feel sorry for them that they cannot appreciate the beauty and intricacy of the universe in both the micro and macro form. This level of design and beauty cannot be merely accidental and so consistent. All of my science classes in college convinced me that there has to be a higher power regardless if you believe it or not. It seems that it is a case of pure hubris and denial to believe there is nothing greater. But to each their own. No one is forcing anyone to believe anything unless of course you are Muslim. Islam is actually a cult not a religion.

Here is the link to the god gene article in case you think I made that one up, even though it is probably junk science to some extent. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news
/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/11/14/
ngod14.xml

10/24/2006 06:06:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

The first Shamen, Bards, Prophets... were Poets, those who saw meaning in particulars, concepts in facts, principles in concepts, truth in principles and visionary inspiration in Truth that binds all together as One. They were the ones who found the One and applied it to living our lives, and so began scaling the Vertical depths and bringing back the imagery that helps us to follow them on their treks.

There is much in the Odyssey, in Genesis, Abraham & Isaac, Job, the Gospels that opens the inner-to-wider-outer world to those who look for it, and learn to look more skillfully for it. I personally think that there are many parts of all the holy books which I flat line on, unable to find that foothold to boost up into the vertical from it, some are difficult to get a grip on (Deuteronomy 21:18-21 comes to mind), others (such as Matthew 5:18-19) if read literally, horizontally can seem cold, even brutal, but read poetically, vertically it is almost a high-speed escalator.

Personally I had found some toeholds in the 10 Commandments, but mostly they left me not much better than what Sam Harris terms as nomadic goat herder rules to live by. However, Gagdad's recent series on the 10 Commandments were an eye wide opener for me, without that perspective I would still be missing in on much.

Which brings me to nod towards what Michael A. and Juliec mentioned earlier, that quite often churches seem to be the least likely place in which to find meaningfully Religious people, I think, because too often religion is taught as flat, horizontal dogma, bereft of meaning and bulked up with scolding. But that is something lacking in those to profess it in that way, not in the material itself. Dogma can be a wonderful vehicle to assist in scaling those vertical depts. – if delivered properly.

And it's another reason for being truly thankful that Gagdad unlocked the knowasarchive and has continued to grab his 5:00 am flyby' thought s and zoom them out to us on this site.

10/24/2006 06:51:00 PM  
Blogger David said...

Wow! What *are* you talking about?!

10/24/2006 07:57:00 PM  
Anonymous cousin dupree said...

Oh, nothing that would interest you. Run along.

10/24/2006 08:06:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Cousin Dupree... I like your style ;-)

10/24/2006 08:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Connecticut Yankee said...

Van--

Cards just won, 5-0. You and Joseph must have some kind of cosmic clout!

10/24/2006 08:57:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Needless to say, it's usually pointless to talk baseball with Petey. But to make it interesting, he promised "not to peek," and confidently picked the Tigers in four. I'm a little surprised he kept to his word. It's not like him. Makes me wonder if he's just setting me up for a big killing on the Super Bowl.

10/24/2006 09:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Jimmy J. said...

You might be an atheist if:

1. You KNOW you can prove beyond a shadow of doubt that there is no God.
2.You KNOW that the Theory of Evolution is proven and is actually a Scientific Law.
3. When you see or hear anything pertaining to Christianity in public it ruins your whole day for at least a week.
4. Your position on Transcendental Experiences is: There is no such thing. Period! End of discussion!
5.You KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Universe and everything in it is just a colossal accident.

10/24/2006 09:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Fergus the Cat said...

Umm, a couple of OC postings ago, before the Series started, I picked the Cards in 6, maybe 7. (go on, go back and check, I did!) And this was contrary to the prognostications of all the high profile baseball mavens.

OK, it wasn't me who predicted but that biped who shares the 'puter with me. But I provided the inspiration.

Detroit will eke one out in St Louis, but Cards win it all.

Feed me.

10/24/2006 09:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Joseph said...

Lisa,
I believe you play perfectly into the atheist's argument when you suggest that the religion of Islam is a "cult" or, as you have otherwise stated "false". If a billion people are completely wrong about something so fundamental as their faith, then it is not a far leap that the rest of the planet is also wrong about theirs. Just a thought.

Go Cards!

10/24/2006 09:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joseph -- There is a profound difference between the "founders" of Islam and Christianity. One claimed to be a prophet of god, the other claimed to BE god -- and left a spectacular trail of miraculous activity witnessed and recorded by numerous mortals. So, yes, it is possible that "a billion people are completely wrong about something so fundamental as their faith".

Thought for the day:
There are more people alive today than have ever died. This means something, I just haven't figured out what.

NoMo

10/24/2006 10:00:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Connecticut Yankee said... "Van Cards just won, 5-0. You and Joseph must have some kind of cosmic clout!"

It's all in the wrist.

NoMo said..."There are more people alive today than have ever died. This means something, I just haven't figured out what."

It means that Undertakers have always made a killin'.

Joseph, I knew when I read Lisa's comment, that'd get you out ;-)

Go Cards!
(I think the word verification just cursed me out)

10/24/2006 10:11:00 PM  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

Intriguing.
If there is any pseudo-philosophy worthy of a priori dismissal, it is atheism, for it is naively self-contradictory at every turn.
& you have some sort of proof for that, outside of pretty rhetoric?
Poisoning the well.
It only adds to the irony that this particular atheist congratulates himself on being a sophisticated “renaissance man,”
Ahem, you left out the 'sort of'.
It is just so with atheism. One might well ask an obligatory atheist, “how can you tolerate a world view that is so painfully narrow and stupid?”
& again.
Human beings, on the other hand, are much more difficult to account for--in fact, impossible for materialistic science to explain. Of this I am certain.
Then I respectfully advise you read more books on science, & a few less on iambic pentameter.
And where was that self before it was discovered? What is the ontological status of the “I” that exists in potential but awaits deployment in time?
Try out Julian Jaynses' 'Origins of Consciousness In the breakdown of the bicameral mind', for starters.
Short version: you talk real pretty, but not really overly impressed, sorry.

Rob:
Thanks for speaking up. Appreciated.

10/24/2006 10:13:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Thanks, Anon/Nomo. I can only add that a religion whose higher power commands them to slay unbelievers, as well as the oppression of women, gays, children, and camels is both sick and wrong!

Tawlk amungst yurself, Joseph! The rest of us have already had this conversation. Just because a billion people are jumping off a bridge, should you?

10/24/2006 10:13:00 PM  
Anonymous ben usn (ret) said...

Bob smash puny human!!!

10/25/2006 03:05:00 AM  
Blogger jw said...

michael a. I think you have said it for me and for my wife. We have left the church and gone back to God.

I find myself objecting to being "taught" by a person who does not understand the basics. I object to sexism ... one cannot find a church which does not teach it in one way or another.

As for the atheist ...

There's a question which has long been on my mind: All primitive cultures have religion. Yet, atheism is the easier path to follow. One would think that primitives would follow atheism, but they don't. Why?

Also, I object to stating X is true in any science without having a good reason to say X is true. We cannot prove God is true or untrue. Why then state God is untrue?

Moreover, there are at least two proofs of God ... not the Christian God, but proofs of "power interference" none the less. The one being the physicists math which shows via the self replicating machine that we could be our own God.

In the same way, Christianity in its pure form, has the greatest fit to human behavior. It has the greatest possibility of being true and has the strongest opposition. A strong opposition in faith is to me, a guide saying "there is something here."

Add it all up and I find atheism to be the least likely solution to the God question.

10/25/2006 03:13:00 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

Wow. So many misconceptions about atheists all in one place. It's hard to know where to start.

First, your post uses non-sequitors rather than arguments. For example:

If there is any pseudo-philosophy worthy of a priori dismissal, it is atheism, for it is naively self-contradictory at every turn.

Heck of a claim. I've never heard someone call atheism self-contradictory before. Surely you have a reason. Nope, just on to the next "argument:"

There is more wisdom (as opposed to mere factual or empirical knowledge) in a single randomly plucked page of Aurobindo, or Eckhart, or Schuon than in the entire body of works of every atheist who ever lived.

Really? Are you sure Shakespeare, for example, wasn't an atheist? What about Hume or Wittgenstein?

Skipping down a bit...

The existence of God may be easily proved, but only to a generous intellect that is inclined to accept the evidence.

"Easily proved?" What a ludicrous claim. Even the religious philosophers don't claim God's existence can be "easily proved." Moreover, there have been many "generous intellects" who have been unswayed by attempted "proofs" of God's existence. I suppose you can just keep telling yourself that they were all disinclined from accepting it.

“God is the being that cannot not be.”

Theists often think they're being profound when they're being in fact nonsensical, I find.

The atheist is literally metaphysically blind, for the gap between an animal and a being capable of knowing any truth--let alone total truth--is as great as the gap between nothing and the most inconsequential existing thing.

Are you not ignoring the many atheists who are former believers? Or are you arguing that no atheist was ever a True Believer? Or that we were born sighted but struck blind?

10/25/2006 09:23:00 AM  
Anonymous tsebring said...

Wow, this post sure ignited a firestorm - but any discussions that get down to the real nitty-gritty of faith usually do. Personally I believe that there are some people who, by temperament (Kiersey and Bates call them "Questers")are naturally drawn to spiritual things, and others that are not. But I also believe that God has made provision for all of that; some people only come to faith by an explosive "Damascus Road" experience, while others simply seem to discover it more gently in the course of seeking it.

Though I cannot abide by atheism, I know somewhat where such a one is coming from, having been an adamant one for a long time. Looking back on what drove it, I was quite simply afraid that giving up my atheism would mean giving up my freedom to "do what I want, any old time"; i.e., sex, booze, thrash metal, etc. I was also afraid that I would have to "dumb myself down"; i.e., give up my love of science and progressive music and be a simple-minded, churchy goody two-shoes (Unfortunately, this is the view of spirituality that organized Churchianity gives us). I related in a past comment how an intellectual "Quester" got me to see the mystical side of Christianity, and the rest was history. I discovered that God did not ask me to give up any of those things I mentioned, but give myself to him. I still love science and music, and many of the things I always have; the funny thing is that I feel more free than I ever have.

I too, was led to "leave church to find God". The church that I belonged to, under a new pastor's leadership, simply took the wrecking ball to all the traditions that kept us from finding God. The final result was a house church with no pastor (yes, he voluntarily left shortly thereeafter). And the spiritual waterfall was unleashed. There are congregations all over the world that are going this way. Read any books by Frank Viola, Peter Lord, or Gene Edwards about this phenomenon.

To sum it up, I can see that, in my case, my atheism was driven by pure fear; fear of confronting and examining, fear of losing. Embracing the spiritual has largely abolished that fear, I am happy to say. Whatever I did end up losing (only that which was harmful in the first place), what I gained was incalculably larger. I'm not trying to recommend any formula to anyone, just relating my own experience.

Bob, I too appreciate the parallel found in music. I am an avid listener to progressive rock (which borrows a lot from jazz, as well as classical). After listening to the likes of the Flower Kings, old Genesis, old Yes, Spock's Beard, and Glass Hammer, I can't bring myself to listen to Diddy or Britney, any more than I can read DailyKos after reading this blog.

10/25/2006 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger BaconEating AtheistJew said...

TSEbring, my Atheism has only gotten stronger. The more I learn, the more science answers, the less doubts I have...in fact, I have no doubt now that there is no such thing as God.
I don't know too many Atheists who took to being Atheist to be rebels like you. But that is what it seems by reading your post.

JW,

There's a question which has long been on my mind: All primitive cultures have religion. Yet, atheism is the easier path to follow. One would think that primitives would follow atheism, but they don't. Why?
*******************
We are social thinking animals. Primitives did not have science going for them, it was natural to invent Gods and superstitions to explain life and death.

Also, I object to stating X is true in any science without having a good reason to say X is true. We cannot prove God is true or untrue. Why then state God is untrue?
*********************
Why not state that 12 Gods are untrue? If you want to bring God into the equation, it is up to you to prove it. If I say that there is an invisible man under my bed, should you be allowed to say that isn't true. Yes, unless I provide evidence.

Moreover, there are at least two proofs of God ... not the Christian God, but proofs of "power interference" none the less. The one being the physicists math which shows via the self replicating machine that we could be our own God.
********************
Define God. Then we can play a game to prove God under your definition cannot exist.

In the same way, Christianity in its pure form, has the greatest fit to human behavior. It has the greatest possibility of being true and has the strongest opposition. A strong opposition in faith is to me, a guide saying "there is something here."
*********************
Lots of opinion. Even if true. Why then can't Christianity be human made right from inventing Jesus, which incidentally I believe Paul did (there is no evidence Jesus ever existed, at least real proof from contemporary sources: 1-35 AD sources).
There is strong opposition to Islam amongst non-Muslims. Does that mean Islam is the right religion too?

10/25/2006 01:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Jenny said...

Beacon Eating Atheist, don't you find it in the least interesting that so many people, for example here, who come from many different educational and economic backgrounds have found the same "path" and understand what each other are talking about when other people stop by and say "what the heck are you people talking about?" Yet we understand each other perfectly and have experienced some of the exact same things?

10/25/2006 01:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Joe said...

bacon eating atheist jew, taking your statement that: "...in fact, I have no doubt now that there is no such thing as God."

You can rephrase it as: "... in fact, I have complete faith now that there is no such thing as god".

:)

10/25/2006 03:58:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Bacon Eating Atheist Jew,
I'm not going to bother trying to refute any thing, instead I've got a question.

You've got at least 29 links on your blogroll with some version of "Atheist" in them, not to mention the flavors of strident tones of "blasphemy!", "Religionists are idiots!" (which is quite a trick in a 2 or 3 word link).

What is the point, what is the obsession with something which doesn't exist?

Personally I've always considered claiming to be an Atheist! as a bit silly just on the consideration of identifying your beliefs based on something that you DON'T believe. Most of my life I've been someone who hasn't given credence to religious beliefs - wasn't because of any issues with authority, family, etc - had a good life, just wasn't convinced - but I've never felt a need to walk up to someone who believed differently than I, whether religious, political, etc, and say "Fool! I know better! You're a Twit!" which is the overall obsessive tone of your site.

What's the point? One might be tempted to think that something other than intellectual conviction is making your bacon sizzle and pop.

10/25/2006 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger BaconEating AtheistJew said...

Jenny, people are social animals and we've evolved superstition and a need to believe in God. Believers have more children and some people are more susceptible to buying nonsense than others. Are you saying that 1.3 billion Muslims can't be wrong?
As far as Christians go for example, there too many subcults and sub beliefs that make your statement that y'all believe the same thing, to be hooey. Lots of Christians believe in theistic evolution. Lots don't. Lots accept an ancient earth. Lots don't. Lots accept condoms. Lots don't.

Joe, I have no reason to believe God exists. Absolutely none. Unless going with the majority is a reason.

Van, I didn't identify myself for years. But this ID thingy pisses me off. So does the idea of making a big deal out of gay marriage. It is tough to be an Atheist and be silent to believers who forget about separation of church and state. I have no problem with believers keeping their beliefs in their homes or their places of worship and out of the newspapers.

If the "fools" just kept their mouth shut, I would have no reason to open my mouth.

10/25/2006 05:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Your stuff is getting better. You're in The Zone I think.

10/25/2006 08:03:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Bacon Eating Atheist Jew said "... the idea of making a big deal out of gay marriage. It is tough to be an Atheist and be silent to believers who forget about separation of church and state. I have no problem with believers keeping their beliefs in their homes or their places of worship and out of the newspapers."

There are a whole lot of us who object to redefining marriage as a same sex venture, for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with church and state, religion or lack of religion. I don't object to gay marriage on the basis religion, but on the basis of it being an in your face attempt at redefining the meaning and use of the word 'marriage'; it was done informally with the word 'gay' and it destroyed numerous songs, passages in novels, etc for children and adults - the phrase or passage containing the word can't be read without snickers abounding. I don't want to see worse done formally and legally to the word 'marriage'.

I don't have any problem with creating a new term for a civil union, or any religion coming up with a new category for same sex unions, but attempting to redefine such a traditional term, and through the courts at that, is just plain rude.

Also, as to - "If the "fools" just kept their mouth shut, I would have no reason to open my mouth. " hmm... tempting, but I'll pass.

10/25/2006 08:33:00 PM  
Blogger BaconEating AtheistJew said...

Van, marriage is just a word. Admit you have a problem with gay marriage because of religious reasons. You can do it. Just like you can admit that ID is about bringing God and creation into the science class. I know you can do it.

50% of marriages end in divorce. And you are hung up by the use of the word marriage?

10/25/2006 09:16:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Bacon Eating Atheist Jew said...
"Van, marriage is just a word. Admit you have a problem with gay marriage because of religious reasons. You can do it."

I commented on this subject here a while back, Blogger is too sick at the moment to find the post, and I'm not going to trot those dear to me out for chits in an argument with a fool.

I don't make a habit of saying things I don't believe. I stated what I don't like about it, and it goes no further.

I don't know of anything that I have a problem with on religous grounds. Coming as I do from giving little or no credence to religion all of my life, until very recently when I discovered that the poetic imagery in Religion, much of he dogma I used to deride, can lead to more internal discoveries, and hints of external ones to come, a more Whole Truth - than decades of studying Philosophy, Literature & Psychology alone were able to deliver.

It may be more accurate for me to say that it is only now, having all of them merged together within me, that I have been able to gather the deeper understanding and enlightenment which I now enjoy, and which only taunted me before from a distance.

By the way, you're a dork.

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

bacon eating atheist jew:

Well ... Not quite. Using the physics of space-time and the strong possibility of the von Neuman machine it has been shown that we could, at some arbitrary time in the future, go back and collect the mind of all humans, thus being our own God. The math works, or at least no one has been able to show that the math does not work. Thus, the base concept of God has been shown to be possible.

There are other cases of similar "proofs." That is, the concept "God" is within the theory of the science which currently exists.

Second, study of coincidence shows too many coincidences given the statistical reality of humanity. The odds of walking down the street of a strange city and running into someone you know are too high given the laws of probability as we know them.

Next, in studying ability to predict the mark on a card using either the four or five mark card set, researcher bias is too high. WAY too high, staggeringly too high. There's something as yet unknown going on here.

The opposition to Christianity is too high, too loud and too demanding. Something is happening here which does not fit with human behavior as we understand it.

I could go on and on and on ... All taken together we must grasp the idea that there is something happening which we do not understand and cannot explain given current methods of explanation.

Add it all up and it comes out to "Best to say that God is more likely than not-God."

Thus, for me, God is. Oh I reject a lot of the garbage fellow Christians demand be dumped into Christianity! DEFINATELY!

To state that Atheism is the only way of science is also dumping garbage into humanity.

10/26/2006 03:14:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Crud. I was hoping to slip in and delete my last comment before anyone saw it. Woke me up several times last night. My apologies to everyone.

By the way bacon eater, I finally realized what ID (intelligent design I presume?) was... is there some comment about it that I've made that you're responding to, or is it just always on your mind?

Geuss it goes back to my earlier comment to you, which you've avoided by the way, what is your obsession with what you don't believe in? Your site is nearly a monument to attacking what others believe... something a little off there.

10/26/2006 05:07:00 AM  
Blogger BaconEating AtheistJew said...

Van, you may think you are arguing against gay marriage in a secular manner, but the fact is, I can't remember seeing one Atheist who has taken a stance against gay marriage.
I know that isn't proof that any argument against gay marriage has religious roots, but it is a good theory.

JW, being our own God? That is just gobblygook. All you are doing is calling nature God. Again, I'd like to see your definition of God.

As far as the theory of coincidence being evidence of God. That is just another God theory trying to fill in the gaps. I'm not even sure if there are gaps in the examples you cite. I'd like to see the data behind your hypothesis for one thing.

And as far as your card example, I don't dismiss the idea of mental telepathy. I think our brains are capable of a lot more than we give credit for. At least I welcome the possibility. But it has nothing to do with God.

So if that is your evidence of God, I'm not buying.

10/26/2006 05:14:00 AM  
Blogger BaconEating AtheistJew said...

Van, I am not obsessed with the idea of God. I'm fascinated by the lengths that people will go to defend his existence without a shred of evidence.

If we were to turn the clock back 1000 years and I was blogging about the earth revolving around the sun, would you call me obsessive?

And I didn't avoid your question, I answered it. As long as the lunatic fringe keep forgetting about the separation of church and state and as long as people murder over religion, I will blog about the stupidity of such beliefs.

Eventually the majorities who believed the sun revolved around the earth became so small that they didn't make a difference in any policies whatsoever. I don't need to blog about them anymore.

10/26/2006 05:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Joe said...

bacon eating atheist jew, "...At least I welcome the possibility. But it has nothing to do with God."

hmmmm, how do you know that?

That sort of statement is really an assumption - a wish fulfillment that trys to fit the world around your religion of atheism.

Absolutely un-scientific.

How can you have scientific proof of god if you can pre-deny anything and everything as being possible proof?

Likewise - how can you have scientific proof of atheism if you can automatically state knowledge of the unknown?

B.E.A.J, You have become your own high-priest.

10/26/2006 07:40:00 AM  
Blogger BaconEating AtheistJew said...

Joe, I'm open to the idea that the brain might be capable of some ESP. I know dogs can sense certain weather conditions. I think a reasonable explanation for what we think is ESP is based on our innate ability to understand body language. This is why dogs seem to anticipate someone coming over. They pick up on our body language.

But again, how do I know it doesn't have to do with God? Why should I even toy with the possibility. Maybe it has to do with hollow earth people who have a supercomputer and control us? Maybe it has to do with the invisible man under my bed?

10/26/2006 08:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Joe said...

Bacon Eating Atheist Jew, all of what we believe depends on where and what we each choose to put faith in.

Logic contorts itself to our beliefs

Most people don't bother to even look at those facts, never mind what lies beyond them.

You ask: How do you know it doesn't have to do with god? - Fact is you don't.

How can it be otherwise?

I'm about to say something that sounds like a smartass comment - its not intended that way.

The only way you will find the proof you demand is if you stop looking for it.

10/26/2006 09:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is no God. In fact, all definitions of the word "God" are either self-contradictory, incoherent, meaningless or refuted by empirical, scientific evidence.

10/28/2006 06:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate these websites. All I've been trying to do for the last half hour is find a bittorent for the thrash metal band, Atheist. Consequently this site has the word atheist and torrent in it, so I stumbled across the title in a google web search after ignoring 3 other hits similar to it. Not only do I like the band Atheist, but , ironically, I am an atheist. So I thought Id explain the reasons why i believe the way I do in response to this uninformed article.

My disbelief in God isn't because I was hurt by religion or anything emotional like that. Rather, I derived my beliefs from deductive logic.
I figure, If there is such a thing as a God, it probably doesn't care too much about us. Hypothetically, a God would have some sort of intelligence behind it, right? I mean, if such a being had some sort of hand in creating the universe from scratch, why would this entity, in its infinite wisdom, allow people to be killed in its name. Why would it allow ambiguity and false, man derived interpretations of its wishes to proliferate and prosper. Im, of course, talking about holy wars and the many drives of various main stream religions to spread their faiths. Why wouldn't God just come down and clear things up. If such an entity could create the universe, couldn't it do something as feeble as that. Its not unreasonable to ask of such a being to reveal itself in a definitive way other then in the questionable appearances viewed by isolated or long dead individuals that may have simply been fooled by the workings of mental or non-devine aberrations.There are many other reasons, as well, for my disbelief in God.
I don't understand why it is so hard for theists to not at least see rationality in a disbelief in God. It comes down to a simple answer I asked my mother when I was 4. Who created God? Its a good question, but, of course, the answer I got was, "well he always was and always will be". I love my mother, dearly, but God is just a way of displacing the answers. If something as complex as a God cant be created, then why is it so hard to believe that something relatively simpler then a God has always existed, the universe. A God is a supernatural, highly intelligent being. On the other hand, the universe is a vast reservoir of information known as matter. This is information, by the way, that can be scrambled, manipulated by governing laws such as gravity, and organized into more complex forms by those same laws. Being that the universe is of a far simpler nature then that of an all knowing God, I can reason that its far more probable that the universe has always existed in one form or another as opposed to a God.
Evolution is a tricky subject to summarize within the confines of a few paragraphs. In my opinion you can have faith in a God and adopt the theory of evolution as a way of explaining the natural world, as all leading Biologists have. Its not a faith that was made up for Atheists; its a real phenomenon that's been proven through years of tedious research in the fields of genetics, anthropology, etc. All of you who are taking the time to read this have probably heard the basic central dogmas concerning evolution, poorly explained by those in defense of the 7 day account. I suggest that you stop reading the stilted views of Creation Science Magazine(a very nonscientific periodical), and take a Biology course. Trust me, its worth it. Take a class at your local community college. In my mind, its worth it if it helps saves a few public school teachers their jobs in Kansas.

As for the assumption that all atheists are nihilists, that's just an assumption. Though I don't believe in a God, I do believe in the future. As opposed to a lot of religions that propose prophecies of how the world is going to end, I take solace in the fact that I don't know humanities fate. Of course, I know general things like the rough estimations that scientists have made predicting when the sun is going to wane out of existence, but its nothing like what's seen in, say, the book of revelations. According to the Bible, there is no hope for humankind, because most of mankind will be consciously rotting forever in eternal torment, where a slim minority will actually make it to eternal paradise where humanity will have lost its ability to procreate. I, as an atheist, have hopes that mankind will stop waging war. Instead of using science to create tools of violence, I hope we learn to use it only to advance the human species and bring up the quality of life for the general human populace. Hopefully, this greatest of human assets, will one day take us to the stars, so that our species doesn't have to die along with our earth and sun. We just need to get past this period of technological adolescence without blowing ourselves up.

I think that human existence is a rare and wonderful thing. I mean, we have stumbled across a great lottery by simply existing as intelligent, self reflective beings. The ability to exist, dream, and love are all very wonderful things. They are so wonderful that I think that they are worth passing on to new descendents. I want to make sure that other generations can comfortably enjoy this gift that nature has bestowed upon me, my generation, and those in the past. I hope that these foolish, stupid, irresponsible wars that mankind has been waging for millennia will come to a halt, so that others in my path can continue the human tradition of intelligent existence and go on to do greater things then those lead by people in our day. I don't need anything else out of life. I don't need the comfort of heaven or a God to die happy. The only thing that will make me content with death is knowing that my children and humanity have it better then me.

1/10/2007 12:59:00 AM  

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