A Born-Again Agnostic
Posted: 05 January 2005 11:05 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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I'm halfway through my second reading of Sam's book and enjoying it more this time around.  I was a devout atheist, but after reading TEOF I realize that atheism is as unsupported by evidence as theism.

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Posted: 08 January 2005 05:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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For me, becoming an Atheist is not about gathering evidence that there is no God. It is quite the opposite. It is due to a lack of evidence for a God.

My devout friends say that I am just not listening for God’s message. My reply is, that if God is omniscient, and wants us to believe, he would know exactly what it takes to get each unique individual to believe.

Most people believe based on pure faith and a deep seated feeling that what their chosen religion states is the “truth”.  For them a different kind of evidence, such as the Bible or the Koran,  is enough. For some of us, we need much more than that.

If God wanted me to believe, he should have no trouble knowing exactly what it takes to make me believe. For each individual, the proof will be different.

My conclusion is that either God doesn’t exist or he doesn’t care if I believe or not.

Yet, the Fundamentalist Christians tell me that if I choose not to believe in he or his son, I will go to hell.

I have a real problem with a being that would create some one like me, give him an intellect capable of looking at the evidence and choosing not to believe in him and then punishing that individual for not believing.

I think that most atheists would believe anything if confronted with evidence that satified their particular requirements for belief. With regards to a supreme being, that evidence will not likely ever be provided by other humans in either print or spoken word.

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Posted: 09 January 2005 03:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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I feel fundamentalist Christians have lost the ‘thread’ of Christianity.

The going to hell notion is wrong.

It is meant for small children and those with less intelligence to keep them in line.

It was originally meant to be something more like what my father told me.
“You can make THIS life heaven or hell for yourself by your action”

If God is benevolent then he would not condemn any soul to hell. If there is a heaven and hell which has yet to be proven.

I do not believe that God sits up there and directs individual actions that occur in nature. That is a ridiculous hypothesis and needs to be jettisoned as such. I chose to believe that God is the Creator. God created what we know as ‘reality’. God set the rules (physics, biology, etc. etc.)

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Posted: 09 January 2005 04:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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[quote author=“ptripp”]For me, becoming an Atheist is not about gathering evidence that there is no God. It is quite the opposite. It is due to a lack of evidence for a God.

My devout friends say that I am just not listening for God’s message. My reply is, that if God is omniscient, and wants us to believe, he would know exactly what it takes to get each unique individual to believe.

The whole “apologetics” hustle arose precisely because christian claims aren’t all that persuasive, especially in modern cultural environments where more and more information either conflicts with christian beliefs (e.g., findings from paleontology) or else competes with them for people’s attention. (For example, today’s children would much rather read about Harry Potter than Jesus.) When christian apologists have to grasp at straws like James’s ossuary, “god genes” and Intelligent Design, you know that they realize their case is looking increasingly weak.

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Posted: 09 January 2005 05:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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Advanced Atheist mentions that Christians know that their case is looking increasingly weak. Therein lies the problem. To them, their case is as strong as ever.  I agree with advanced about the weakness of the Christian dogma. The problem is with the Christians.

Devout Christians truly believe that the earth is only 5,000 or so years old. That all things explained in the bible over rule any scientific explanation.

It may not be outright insanity but it is certainly a form of delusion and irrational thinking.  Their entire world view is wholly incompatible with any logical or rational argument that you or I have to offer them. They are incapable of “hearing” or processing a rational argument.

That is why the world of science and religion can never co-exist or be blended together in the schools. The beliefs of each are like water and oil or matter and anti-matter.  They are completely incompatible. Phil Tripp

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Posted: 09 January 2005 09:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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[quote author=“ptripp”]That is why the world of science and religion can never co-exist or be blended together in the schools. The beliefs of each are like water and oil or matter and anti-matter.  They are completely incompatible. Phil Tripp

There are many things that science can not explain.

We can de-construct the human brain and now we understand thought process’ better. But we find it nearly impossible to explain phenomena such as faith healing or group psychosis.

Their is something in the human psyche that craves a ‘father’/‘mother’ figure. To a small child father and mother are gods. They are seen as such because they can do amazing things. Perhaps as we grow older and realize that mom and dad are just average humans our inner self still craves the old familiar security of the protection of the gods. Perhaps many humans need to believe that there is purpose to life and that a personal god does watch over them. And this belief may be necessary for them to function in daily life.

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Posted: 09 January 2005 06:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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Lawrence wrote that “there are many things that science can not explain”. The same can be said for religion.

I am having difficulty with the last part of his message. Is it an explanation for why people believe in God(s) or a reason not to believe in God(s).

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Posted: 10 January 2005 03:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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That the human psyche craves anything only means, as a species, we are still children. It’s only fear that creates a need to have everything explained.

The supernatural exists only because fearful children, trapped in adult bodies, want it to exist.

The problem accruing from this childish addiction to superstition is that children, absent any restraint, are very cruel to each other.

 

 


[quote author=“lawrence”][quote author=“ptripp”]That is why the world of science and religion can never co-exist or be blended together in the schools. The beliefs of each are like water and oil or matter and anti-matter.  They are completely incompatible. Phil Tripp

There are many things that science can not explain.

We can de-construct the human brain and now we understand thought process’ better. But we find it nearly impossible to explain phenomena such as faith healing or group psychosis.

Their is something in the human psyche that craves a ‘father’/‘mother’ figure. To a small child father and mother are gods. They are seen as such because they can do amazing things. Perhaps as we grow older and realize that mom and dad are just average humans our inner self still craves the old familiar security of the protection of the gods. Perhaps many humans need to believe that there is purpose to life and that a personal god does watch over them. And this belief may be necessary for them to function in daily life.

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Posted: 10 January 2005 06:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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[quote author=“lawrence”]

There are many things that science can not explain.

There are many things that science cannot currently explain, though its impressive track record makes it reasonable to expect that it can continue to knock down the remaining mysteries.

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Posted: 10 January 2005 06:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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[quote author=“ptripp”]Advanced Atheist mentions that Christians know that their case is looking increasingly weak. Therein lies the problem. To them, their case is as strong as ever.  I agree with advanced about the weakness of the Christian dogma. The problem is with the Christians.

The apologists know precisely where the weaknesses lie, hence the increasingly far-fetched arguments they make in defense of the faith. The educated clergymen among them are well aware that modern scholarship throws considerable doubt on the “official” version of christian origins, yet they continue to play a cynical game so that their creduous congregations keep them employed.

I might add that the unusual popularity of The Da Vinci Code suggests that more and more ordinary Americans are willing to entertain the idea that the standard Jesus story doesn’t sound quite right, and that some important information seems to be missing. Unfortunately the author, Dan Brown, has contaminated the Jesus historical problem with a fact-free counter-myth that could discredit in the popular mind more rationally defensible lines of inquiry into the source of the christian delusion.

Devout Christians truly believe that the earth is only 5,000 or so years old. That all things explained in the bible over rule any scientific explanation.

Actually the Catholic Church seems comfortable with the modern scientific view of earth history. The young-earth form of christianity prevails mainly among Protestants in the U.S. and in Third World countries.

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Posted: 10 January 2005 06:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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The insatiable thirst for knowledge may distinguish us from other species but does not per se ennoble us or improve the human condition.

I’ve read Carl Sagan, Jacob Bronowski, Charles Hawking and others. Somehow these people look up at the stars in awe, and want us to spend trillions of dollars exploring every quantum particle, trying to prove wave theory vs. superstring theory, constantly asking “Why?” and “How”?

It’s all fun to watch on TV, but it doesn’t cause me to have “faith” in science, any more than I have “faith” in a particular deity.

The ultimate question isn’t one of cosmology. The question ought to be “Where is humanity going, here, on this planet?”

We ought not to be expecting scientists to answer all our questions. What isn’t known doesn’t necessarily have to be known. We are not better off now than we were centuries ago, with or without religion, with or without scientific progress, if we are afraid to do battle with the forces of evil - i.e. those promulgating extreme religious belief, those that want to take us back to the dark ages.

I don’t mean “evil” in the religious sense. I refer to it the way Jung did, as a collective identification with the darker aspects of the psyche.


[quote author=“advancedatheist”][quote author=“lawrence”]

There are many things that science can not explain.

There are many things that science cannot currently explain, though its impressive track record makes it reasonable to expect that it can continue to knock down the remaining mysteries.

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Posted: 10 January 2005 06:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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Adanced Atheist wrote that science is likely to solve the remaining mysteries of the universe.

My first comment is “Ouch”! Let’s not put undo pressure on science. I’d like to think that science has come a long way. However, an axiom of science is that “the more you learn the less you know”.

The mysteries of the universe, I believe, are almost unknowable with our limited scope and vision. As our abilities to observe and study the universe expand, we are constantly making observations that put previously solid theories back on the drawing board. That has always been the nature of scientific endeavor.

Regarding our understanding of the universe, I don’t think the axiom will change for eons to come. We are, after all, just highly intelligent animals on a very small planet in an almost infinite universe.

My intuition tells me that we really know very little about the full extent of this vast universe. That thought excites me to no end. Phil Tripp

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Posted: 10 January 2005 07:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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Joseph Phillips wrote that the ultimate question is, “Where is humanity going, here, on this planet?”

I won’t debate what the ultimate question is. That question is not answerable. Where we are going should be of great concern to all of us.

My point is that Carl Sagan, Jacob Bronowski and Charles? Hawking have/had remarkable intellects and followed their passions towards understanding the universe.

You seem to be questioning their desire to understand the universe by spending money for research. I don’t get where you are coming from with your reply.

I would think that men with that type of intellect would also be deeply concerned about the direction that mankind is headed. You don’t know them for that. However, don’t assume that mankinds destiny isn’t very important to men of that intellect. In fact, they may have felt that understanding the mysteries of the universe would improve mankind.

Whether we are better off now because of science and technology is another issue that scholars will continue to debate for ever.

No one expects science to answer all of our questions and last, let us all hope that we can avoid the “dark ages” with respect to religious control of our lives. Phil Tripp

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Posted: 10 January 2005 04:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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. Perhaps many humans need to believe that there is purpose to life and that a personal god does watch over them. And this belief may be necessary for them to function in daily life.

thats exactly what pisses me off about religion. People need an excuse to live or to do something good (help out others). I just find it depressing how inept people are, same thing with laws/rules/rights people cant act rational, its really sad.

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Posted: 12 January 2005 01:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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[quote author=“Anonymous”] I just find it depressing how inept people are, same thing with laws/rules/rights people cant act rational, its really sad.

Humans have a problem with ‘time’. By the ‘time’ most people ‘see’ reality and abandon their fantasies they are in decline. (ie 50(me) or older)

How do we stop people from emotionally ‘buying’ into fantasy?

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Posted: 12 January 2005 11:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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First you have to acknowledge there is an emotional need on some level.

We can’t grow everyone up to our advanced age all at once.

I have been trying to understand the need, the neurosis, and exactly what spirituality is to people.

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