Saturday, October 04, 2008

Atheists and Other Whine Experts

I wish Lileks were a reader of this blog, because he would be so freaking envious that I got to see Monty Hall again last night. Yes, again. He's an old family friend (on my wife's side), so he's there at every family function. Looks amazing for 87. Last night I noticed for the first time how luxuriantly soft his hands are. Plus, you should see how he "floats" and shimmers into the room. I don't mean to brag, but he once took us to a Kings hockey game. He's Canadian, so he's a big fan. In fact, before Let's Make a Deal, he called hockey games on the radio. Did you know that Carol Merrill's son is minor league hockey player? That's the sort of thing that only Monty's intimates know about.

Well, today I have to attend one of those stupid all-day continuing education seminars. It's like losing a whole day of your life, or making a sacrifice to the gods of political correctness. It's one thing for medical doctors to keep up with the latest research. But psychologists? There's been nothing new in psychology since Genesis. Instead, the activists who have taken over the field merely publish fraudulent studies to prove this or that aspect of their leftist agenda in order to bring down western civilization.

Anyway. In honor of Bill Maher's new film, I'm republishing this old rant from two years ago.


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 aggressively 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, so long as the atheist is in a culture that embodies theistic values. 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, in the absence of transrational and suprasensory sources of information, the mechanical application of profane reason more or less compels agnosticism. There is no way to exit the closed circle of logic with more logic, especially if your premises are all wrong.

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. I would guess that a larger percentage of atheists have been traumatized or repulsed by a dysfunctional version of religion they were exposed to as a child. They are the ones who naturally get more angry, obnoxious and militant. Or, sometimes they are just bitter about other things, and channel their bitterness through anti-religious sentiments.

Another large 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 two irreducible modalities (along with the infinite) of the Divine.

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 of 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.

While numbers obviously aren’t everything (except for the materialist), 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 cranks 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 independently verified these maps, so I know to my satisfaction that 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 categorically false. There was a time that I was an atheist -- a much more effective one, I might add, than our scientistic jester -- 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. But to declare that absolute truth exists is to make a statement so pregnant with metaphysical implications that it alone can lead one out of the abyss of atheism.

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, incapable of understanding the arguments (for no demonstration can convince everyone, least of all the spiritually inadequate), 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 atheistic materialism 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.

Again, atheism is a purely substitious postmodern mythology. It has nothing to do with an intellectually honest assessment of the evidence, but 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 assist people whose very intelligence may ironically -- ironic because intelligence is a reflection of the Divine Mind-- pose a barrier to religiosity. 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 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 of 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.)

As Schuon has noted, 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" mediocrities walking around. College campuses abound with them. 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 poetry, 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, one’s own personal experience, and the existence of the human subject, or Imago Dei, itself. The rationalist merely defines these things 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 and contemplation. 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 somehow 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.


Anonymous Alan said...

A friend from Texas once told me of a radio shock jock there who had a daily segment about celebrities he called "Canadian or Dead". As a Canadian, I'm jealous that you know Monty Hall and at least I can answer the question "Yes and No".

10/04/2008 08:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"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"

That's an interesting comment. His previous comment sounds like a slightly distorted argument made by Dawkins. Nobody attributes winning the lottery to God, except for the people who win it. But at the same time everybody knows we don't know everything about the body, yet everybody proclaims an act of God when a miraculous recovery happens. One thing we do know is that your limbs won't grow back, and that is one thing that has never happened.

The one thing that atheists can argue is that the more knowledgeable man becomes, the less God is actually believed to be involved. The original concept of God gradually becomes outdated because the biggest need for creating a God is simply to explain things, but now we know quite a lot about things where the explanation that could be explained by God are now no longer relevant or accurate.

I don't feel that God any longer is needed to explain things, but I do think people keep the idea around for if anything God does have a purpose for people. It is not unreasonable to say that even if God does not exist he provides those who believe mental soundness in what could otherwise be an overbearing chaotic world. That is in effect real, that benefit is not perceived. So in the least nobody can argue the benefit of believing in God, but at the same time that benefit doesn't have to come from belief in God, it could be any mental escape from the stresses of reality.

10/04/2008 09:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*correction, I didn't word it correctly but people have a reason to believe in God that goes beyond tangible. That's what I meant by God has a purpose for people, and I realized that didn't convey what I meant.

10/04/2008 09:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*an addendum to that correction is that atheists focus only on what is tangible, their viewpoint is it's irrational to believe in God to explain the world, and that's why they don't get where theists come from. If they realized that's not even half of it, then maybe they'd be a little more understanding.

10/04/2008 09:52:00 AM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

Guinness is a miracle.

10/04/2008 10:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I had time I'd explain how I believe videogames tie into the youth being more atheist than before, but essentially it ties into that mental escape.

10/04/2008 10:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course, I didn't really explain that as well as I could have but you get the gist.......don't you?

10/04/2008 10:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, maybe you don't but I don't have time to explain it now, just trust me on this, I know what I'm talking about.

10/04/2008 10:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now, I can see where it might sound as if I don't know what I'm talking about because of what I've previously written but my words are carefully thought out beforehand, at least in my own mind.

10/04/2008 10:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm, I can see where my responses might be beginning to look a little foolish but I'm trying to convey my carefully thought out theorys as best as I am capable.

10/04/2008 10:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh well, at least I'm anonymous.

10/04/2008 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

anony, are you the same one that writes the credits for Mont Python movies?

Beware the lama's.

10/04/2008 01:07:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"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."

Was more like revealing a passage opening inwardly outwards, than a hand up, but either way, it worked for me.

Thanks again.

10/04/2008 01:12:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Have you seen Mifune, a quirky Danish gem made about 10 years ago? As one of the reviews (here & here) says "it's a breath of fresh air from the stale stench of the overblown Hollywood mega-productions."

Netfix has it.

10/04/2008 03:26:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Ximeze, your first link there is wonky.

10/04/2008 04:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was an atheist for a long time, and it wasn't at all difficult.

Atheism was a comfortable way station in life; I could hang there for a good piece of time, well and good; let the good times roll, no responsibilty.

Later in life I became "convicted." The comforting illusion that God was absent became impossible to maintain and I had to drop into reality.

I have to watch my actions, because they do count. Its a pain in the arse but the alternatives are not pretty.

Once It calls to you and you acknowledge, game over. If you once meet its "eyes" and it knows you know, It will not let you go back to ignoring It.

Magda the Plumber's Asst. Georgtown U.

10/04/2008 04:29:00 PM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

Whence comes this curious notion that God was invented to explain things? No, it is the other way around: We attribute certain effects to God because these are things God would typically do.

It is a bit like saying that the sun was invented to explain the sunshine. In a sense it is true, but it is in a very dumb and pointless sense. After all, the sun would shine even if everyone attributed the sunshine to a really big swarm of fireflies. It is merely our concepts that change over time.

10/04/2008 04:37:00 PM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

Ximeze - thanks, I'll check it out.

Saw "An American Carol" today. Good Zucker-style hammy pratfalls and laughs and some surprisingly moving scenes snuck in between the farce. There were only about 20 people in the theater, unfortunately.

MSM critics hate it, btw. Shocking, I know.

10/04/2008 06:32:00 PM  
Blogger Warren said...

Just finished reading "Nihilism" by Fr. Rose. HOO-AH!!! It was like reading a copy of Goldstein's book! A most refreshing attack on the modern world and all its works, more than worthy of Guenon.

And speaking of Guenon, reading Fr. Rose's book raised a question in my mind. The Traditionalists (including Schuon, I think) speak a lot about a "counter-tradition" that is totally opposed to the true Tradition which they espouse, and which is basically of Satanic origin. Now, it is part of the Traditionalists' creed that each of the world religions (including Christianity) is divinely intended only for a certain portion of humanity. But Christianity totally denies this - it makes absolute and universal truth claims for itself. If Christianity's claims are true, then Traditionalism itself is actually a "counter-tradition", a Satanic counterfeit....

Oh, dear.

10/04/2008 06:53:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...


I had meant to cover that topic in a previous post. There is no doubt in my mind that the integral/new age movement is a satanic counterfeit.

10/04/2008 06:59:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Thanks for the heads-up on hinky linky-dinky Julie, so here it is again (actually tested this time)

Pay no attention to the bogus jacket design, which was created only for the American market & has about zero relation to the film itself.

10/04/2008 08:37:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Much better whine after aging a bit, Bob!

You guys know Monty Hall, eh?
It never ceases to amaze me the people you know! :^)

10/04/2008 10:04:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

I'm not hurt or disappointed because as I explained, I'm no longer a Cubs fan. Lovable Losers, my arse. What's lovable about losing? But all I can say is . . Wow . . . what a monumental train wreck.

My South Cal friends tell me there is a terrible, mesmorizing beauty about the Santa Anna winds-induced fires. Never seen 'em myself, but I have seen the Cubs flame out in 2008 and that's gotta be near the same. I am awed - and I mean metaphysically awed.

10/04/2008 10:46:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

Make that "mesmerizing".

Not good to have misspellings in an obituary.

10/04/2008 11:00:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Well, there's always the White Sox, right?

Okay, I'm sorry! I didn't mean it, Will!

10/04/2008 11:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A former new ager picks Deepak's deception apart on Catholic Answers radio show.

10/05/2008 01:15:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

Ben, I will say this:

If the Cubs are good for anything, save for the cynical aside, it's helping the spiritual pilgrim/baseball fan to achieve the holy art of dispassion.

10/05/2008 02:55:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

In defense of the Cubs, they just happened to run into the proverbial buzz saw. The Dodgers have been the hottest team in baseball since Manny joined them on July 31. And their previous best player, Furcal, only rejoined the lineup a couple of weeks ago, making them even stronger.

Speaking of Santa Ana winds, we're definitely due for a fire around here, since it's been three years. I predict the week of October 20. If it passes through, I'll take pictures and post them. Will's right, it is mesmerizing, especially at night, when the flames shoot up 100 feet into the sky.

10/05/2008 07:32:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Apropos of absolutely nothing, I thought this was funny. So that's all I have to do to help defeat Obama?

10/05/2008 11:02:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Okay, back to relevance,

"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, one’s own personal experience, and the existence of the human subject, or Imago Dei, itself."

On Friday I finally started reading the Satprem book on Aurobindo. Since I've also been reading MOTT again this week (I still have a long way to go in that one - it's so dense), the parallels between the two really stand out. The closest way I can think to describe it is like one of those textbook anatomical diagrams that has layers of transparencies. If reality as we know it is the base layer, then the perspective of each sage is like an extra layer of transparency that gives meaning to the whole, and also complements each other. Their specifics may be different, but you can see how they interconnect; truly fascinating.

Also, very helpful, since I still haven't had much exposure (beyond OC) to a lot of the Indian terminology in any useful context. And so far, it's a blessedly fast read.

10/05/2008 11:27:00 AM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Here's some slogans:

Wink the vote!

Bat an eyelash for Sarah.

(chaos theory)An eyelash fluttering in Alaska may cause a hurricane in Washington.


10/05/2008 12:34:00 PM  
Anonymous JT said...

Hey Bob, off topic here but do you have any thoughts about the so called "Illuminati" and the New World Order agenda, and how it may be playing out behind the scenes at the top levels of our government here in the US and abroad?

10/05/2008 12:43:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

No particular thoughts, just a psychiatric diagnosis.

10/05/2008 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

It's an entertaining card game. I like to play as the UFOs - nobody knows what their objective is (mwuh ha ha!)

Off on another tangent (yes, I have too much time on my hands today, why do you ask?), is it just me or did the guy who came up with this movement relate a little too closely to Mojo Jojo? Also, I get the distinct impression it plays to the same group of people who loudly declare their Mensa membership.

Then there's this place. Seems like just the thing for Ray.

10/05/2008 01:00:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

Re: the Santa Ana Cubs: Not to take a thing away from the excellent Dodgers, but dominant, destiny-bound teams - as the Cubs proclaimed themselves to be from the beginning of the season to the playoffs - rise to the occasion. Somehow the Cubs always manage to stock themselves with anti-Mannys, anti-Reggies, guys who when the big money is on the line, wilt away like flowers in a frost.

Concept for story - a bunch of Cub fans, gone insane from perennial Cub futility, decide the only way out is for the Cubs to start all over, from virtual scratch. Thus they devise a plot to blow Wrigley Field to atoms with a low-yield nuke (after issuing fair warning to the 'hood), assuring that a new stadium will be built elsewhere. Suspense and hilarity ensue.

10/05/2008 01:31:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

JT - most of the "Illuminati" conspiracy mongerers - all pro-Obama - veer toward an anti-Israeli, anti-semeticism.

If you want an indication that the demonic is afoot, that would be it.

10/05/2008 01:39:00 PM  
Anonymous JT said...

Bob - What would be the diagnosis?

Will - Strangely enough, most of what I came across lately believe that both parties are involved. Not all politicians, of course, but a hand full are in there trying to forward this NWO agenda. Even if it isn't true on a conscious level, couldn't it be true on a subconscious level or spiritual level? Some may be in league with dark or demonic forces they do not know or understand.

There are some proponents of this theory or conspiracy who predicted an economic crisis like we've just seen.

10/05/2008 02:12:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

The diagnosis would be delusional disorder of the persecutory type, AKA paranoia.

10/05/2008 02:15:00 PM  
Anonymous JT said...

But doesn't that one song say..."just because you're paranoid, don't mean they're not after you!"? : )

10/05/2008 02:19:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Just did a quick google search and found this gem:

"Most people react with disbelief and skepticism towards the topic, unaware that they have been conditioned (brainwashed) to react with skepticism by institutional and media influences that were created by the Mother of All mind control organizations: The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations in London."

Wouldn't you know it, Bion was one of the early members of the Tavistock Institute. Does that make me one of the conspirators?

10/05/2008 02:25:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

JT - if you're talking about David Wilcock, one of the most "expressive" of the Illuminati conspiracy theorists, he is very pro-Obama. DW thinks Obama is, if not an avatar, at least a clean break from politics as usual. Which I guess is true in a sense, but not in a good way. BTW, Wilcock seems to becoming more anti-Israeli by the day.

>>There are some proponents of this theory or conspiracy who predicted an economic crisis like we've just seen<<

Yup, and Wilcock posts a lot of stuff that does ring true. The classical heresy is one that rings true for the most part, but due to one fatal flaw or another, ultimately fails; and a flawed mysticism often becomes demonic.

>>Some may be in league with dark or demonic forces they do not know or understand<<

There it is.

10/05/2008 02:30:00 PM  
Anonymous JT said...

Will - Haven't heard of Wilcox. It came by way of Terence McKenna to Jay Weidner to David Icke, all of whom are a bit off in left field each in their own right, BUT if you do a search on say the Georgia Guidestones, these monuments do in fact exist. A sort of new 10 commandments for the future, starting with "Keep the population under 500 million in harmony with nature" or something to that affect.

I don't think it's unreasonable to believe that there are some out there in league, consciously or unconsciously, with these NWO ideas. How vast the web is, is a whole other question.

10/05/2008 02:38:00 PM  
Blogger Dougman said...

Does that make me one of the conspirators?

That's the power of the Protocols.
You can admit it and be a member or you can deny it and still be a part of it.

You gonna make a liar out of Isaiah?

10/05/2008 03:05:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

There have been many people over the last decade "who predicted an economic crisis like we've just seen", warned of it & had plans to avoid this whole mess. Just check the Congressional Record or this video.

10/05/2008 06:30:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

That proves nothing. Barney Frank is a thrice-cleared operating thetan and high epopt of the secret illuminati.

10/05/2008 06:42:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

I lived just a few miles from the Georgia Guidestones for about a decade. If the rumors are to be believed, some mighty weird stuff goes on around there some nights.

Could just be teenagers goofing around, though. ;)

10/05/2008 07:02:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

From Julie's link.

"The Atheon has been made possible through a generous grant from the University of California, Berkley Chancellor's Community Partnership Fund."

Um hm.

Aren't there starving children in the world who are a bit more deserving than this, er, project?

Oh, but I should leave them alone. Like Mary, they are pouring out the oil of their lunacy on the "feet" of the universe, "doing what they can."

10/05/2008 07:08:00 PM  
Anonymous matthew said...

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)

My favorite definition... as it either admits of god, or not, depending on your attitude towards 'evidence', etc.

Whether new age is sstanic, I would say depends on whether powers or ideas other than the UnityOneGod are actually being worshipped. Judaism measures 'avoda zara' by 'bowing down' to other gods or powers-that-be; 'Satan' is a much subtler concept (whose subtlety was largely lost in translation to Christianity).

10/06/2008 12:39:00 AM  
Anonymous austracoon said...

"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."

2Co 10:12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

10/06/2008 01:10:00 AM  
Blogger CrypticLife said...

"It is a bit like saying that the sun was invented to explain the sunshine. In a sense it is true, but it is in a very dumb and pointless sense. After all, the sun would shine even if everyone attributed the sunshine to a really big swarm of fireflies. It is merely our concepts that change over time."

And in that case, the big swarm of fireflies would indeed have been invented. Just as Apollo in his golden chariot was invented.

"I am an Atheist because the universe makes perfect sense to me without putting God in the equation."

This is likewise incorrect. It does not actually matter if the universe makes perfect sense to you, as that falls right back into the trap of invoking a deity for anything that doesn't seem to make sense. It's not about whether particular facts make sense, it's about whether the idea of a deity makes sense.

10/06/2008 08:00:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Hmm, God runs everything. All so called Illuminati are impostors. I'm sure the guys who mangled Maximus the Confessor thought they were hot shit. Who's laughing now? That's the way it goes with the folks that think they are illuminati, go to secret meetings, connect with the world mind, make big plans. They die just like everyone else.

The real 'illuminati' are the Children of Light, the Remnant, whatever. Look in the Synaxarion, for one. Everyone else thinks if they come up with a plan to rival God's (think: Babel) they are gods. Wait, isn't that what happened in the Garden?

I could go on. Conspiracy mongering is false on the first account: It doesn't matter for what matters. Those who are wrapped up in the material world and its passions will be forever shaken by those who have worldly power or who think they do. For the Illuminated, there is only one power. In that way, your enemies could spend 1000 years building a system to brainwash everyone, and you could, by grace, undo all of their plans in a minute.

Read Psalm 2...

10/06/2008 08:13:00 AM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

Hello again CrypticLife!
My point was actually the difference between observation and explanation. Lately, we know a lot more about the sun than our ancestors did. (Although it is uncertain how literally they took the stories about the sun being drawn across the sky by glorified members of the local fauna.) We know today that the sunshine comes from nuclear fusion, something our remote ancestors could not possibly know. But this knowledge does not have much effect on our daily experience with the sun, and it has no effect whatsoever on the sun itself.

I would rejoice of we made as much progress in spiritual science as we have done in material science. It would not do away with God, quite the opposite, only with the superstitions around God. But coming up with theories without observation is a bad idea, whether in cosmology or theology.

10/06/2008 08:18:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

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.

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

10/06/2008 10:44:00 AM  
Blogger CrypticLife said...

"But this knowledge does not have much effect on our daily experience with the sun, and it has no effect whatsoever on the sun itself."

Well, it could have an effect on our experience with the sun; for example, we don't fear solar eclipses or view cloudy days as bad omens (except for beachgoers).

An ancient may or may not have done these things. How literally they took the stories is indeed a question, but I'd keep in mind that at least some today believe in healing by prayer to such an extent that their children die from medical neglect, and it's standard RC doctrine that the Eucharist literally turns into the flesh and blood of Christ. These kinds of beliefs are probably as outlandish as the idea that superfauna carries a lump of gold across the sky.

You're right that the scientific explanation is only partially explanative. It gives an (correct) explanation, for example, for why the sun rises and sets, but not for the origins of all stars.

What you seem to be suggesting is that for spiritual science to progress one would need to directly observe the divine. I don't think that's been convincingly done.

10/06/2008 12:47:00 PM  
Blogger CrypticLife said...

Oh, and hello to you also, Magnus!

10/06/2008 12:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds like you need more tinfoil in your hat Bob.

10/06/2008 02:26:00 PM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

I believe the researchers of the so-called "perennial wisdom" are applying a commendably scientific approach to religion, in that they are systematically gathering observations from different places and times to see which elements are recurring, and view them from different angles to get a better picture.

However, it is my impression that the spiritual science is nascent at best. We have no tools, and in truth much of what we try to see is more like dim stars than the sun. Unless gifted with a peculiarly sharp sight, we need to leave the well-lit city and observe from remote places, and there is as of yet no equivalent of the telescope that I can think of.

10/06/2008 02:37:00 PM  
Blogger Mariano said...

Upon making the following assertion we encounter an interesting bout of atheist circular-illogic: “billions of human beings have personally experienced the Divine, whereas atheism is an absurdity that makes no sense to all but a few cranks and misfits.”

The response would be that any of the billions who claim to have had personally experienced the Divine are not only much, much less well informed than the atheist but are either lying, mistaken, self-deluded, hallucinating or ___________ (fill in the blank). However, the only way that one could know that those millions were in error would be to presuppose that the Divine does not exist. Ergo, one argument may go thusly, “The Divine does not exists and we can know that because no one has ever experienced the Divine and no one has ever experienced the Divine because the Divine does not exist.”


10/14/2008 06:49:00 PM  

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