Existentialism: Freedom and Responsibility

July 14, 2008 at 2:11 am 417 comments

So far we have reviewed the existentialist themes of death and isolation, why they are considered to be ubiquitous human issues, and why they are important. Then we looked at the fundamentalist Christian “answer” to these issues, and how I suggest that answer goes awry. Here, we continue with another existentialist theme: our freedom.

Freedom/responsibility - Just as we are, each of us, our own parent, so too are we the author of our lives. No better term exists for the description of the rock-bottom responsibility – an unavoidable responsibility – each of us has to create our lives. I am the author of my life. I write my life in the first-person; I do not “find” it in the third-person. I am responsible for my decisions. I constitute my world, no matter what my circumstances, no matter what I am given; if nothing else I am still responsible for my attitude toward my life.

It may sound odd but how, really, could it be otherwise? For any proffered external basis for valuation and decision-making – such as “you should do x because x is reasonable” or the pragmatic “you should do x because it helps you achieve your goals” – it always can be asked: “and why should I care about that?” Even the justification “You should do x because God says so” (and even assuming I agree that God does in fact say so) requires something further – after all, why should I care what God says? Existentialists argue: because you make a choice to. There is no other answer. No matter what standard you adopt as a basis for decision-making, you are responsible for having made the choice to assume that standard. Responsibility is irreducible; there is no getting around this.

Existentialism argues that the world does not contain values. In other words, it was easy to believe, in Christian medieval Europe, that God imbued our life and the world with meaning and value and purpose. If one forgot what it was, it could always be re-discovered by examining the world. Existentialism denies this is possible. The world is neutral. Nature is neutral. It is neither good nor bad, friendly nor hostile, purposeful nor purposeless. The world is just matter in motion; it does not tell you what is good or what goals should be pursued. It, therefore, has no value at all but what we put in it. “Nothing in the world has significance except by virtue of one’s own creation. There are no rules, no ethical systems, no values; there is no external referent whatsoever; there is no grand design in the universe.” (p. 221) Therefore, we are entirely responsible for what values we create – there is no deferring to nature or to God, no passing of the buck. Whatever we find, we put there, and thus we are responsible for it.

As before, this is a terrifying experience when it is really encountered. To accept full authorship, without evasion or denial, is difficult because it means there is nowhere to turn, no one to blame. “No ass to kick, no heart to appeal to” runs an old line that got stuck in my head somewhere (I haven’t been able to source it), and that perfectly describes this condition.

Fundamentalist Christianity wishes to avoid this responsibility in spades, and here is where I find it most destructive, and most disingenuous. That theology heavily emphasizes personal responsibility – indeed, preaches responsibility as a high moral virtue – but at the same time, I suggest that it undermines personal responsibility utterly. For not only does it teach that no one is competent to run his or her own life, not only does it teach it is sinful even to try, it teaches that the correct response of creature to Creator is one of abject submission. One is to empty one’s will, and thus has only the most infinitesimal responsibility of doing what one is told. This is what evangelical Christian responsibility amounts to: following orders. Never mind that they have also chosen what they will consider to be the orders in the first place. The outsourcing of responsibility is thus shot through the entire theology, and this has, as always, a cost.

For truly accepting responsibility for one’s life, rather than ducking it or lying to oneself about it, is simultaneously liberating and empowering, according to the existentialists. It amounts to what psychotherapists call an “internal locus of control” – the sense of being in charge of one’s life, oneself, rather than constantly looking outward for instructions and rescue (God), or blame (Satan, or human sin). It means we are constantly in the act of self-creation. No matter what givens I have – matter what life hands me – it is I, and I alone, who is responsible for what I do with it. This means, of course, that change is an ever-present potential within each of us, at every moment – if we have the courage to use it. I can always change my life by changing myself. I am, fully, the author of my life – and I can change the plot anytime.

- Richard

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Atheistic attacks on Christianity Existentialism: The Search for Meaning

417 Comments Add your own

  • 1. John Morales  |  July 14, 2008 at 5:15 am

    No matter what standard you adopt as a basis for decision-making, you are responsible for having made the choice to assume that standard. Responsibility is irreducible; there is no getting around this.

    I hope you don’t take this as sophistry, but if I were to argue your thesis, I’d raise the question “at what point does a choice stop being a choice?”

    For example, I no more consider I can choose to truly believe Santa Claus is real than I could the Risen Jesus is.
    Just not going to happen, because, inside my head, I can’t lie to myself, and I can’t believe claims I consider absurd.

    I wonder if religion endures because others can…

  • 2. John Morales  |  July 14, 2008 at 5:16 am

    Ack. I think this site needs comment previews!

  • 3. Grant Dexter  |  July 14, 2008 at 8:39 am

    John: Ack. I think this site needs comment previews!

    :D I think you hit the nail between the eyes! I see a forum link up there and I’m even registered. Why don’t these posts all go in there?

    Richard:Fundamentalist Christianity wishes to avoid this responsibility in spades, and here is where I find it most destructive, and most disingenuous. That theology heavily emphasizes personal responsibility – indeed, preaches responsibility as a high moral virtue – but at the same time, I suggest that it undermines personal responsibility utterly. For not only does it tea … at they have also chosen what they will consider to be the orders in the first place. The outsourcing of responsibility is thus shot through the entire theology, and this has, as always, a cost.

    Richard. I know you do not want me to question your reasoning behind rejecting Christianity, but I find it highly hypocritical to then use attacks on Christians in order to prop up your ideas. If you have accepted a life apart from Christ and are preaching to others who share the same trait then why even the need to ridicule fundamentalism?

    ——————————–

    Here (morality) is where existentialism falls flat on its nose. If you deny the existence of meaning and value then you deny the possibility that anything you say has meaning or value. You just lost every possible means by which you might be able to persuade anyone of the truth in what you say regardless of their status with God.

    I think you should admit that the universe is imbued with the notion of what is right and what is wrong. That way you might be able to tell me I’m wrong without being a hypocrite. Tempting, no?

    The world is just matter in motion…

    Is this statement logically valid?

    Yes .. that is a leading question. My response (regardless of your answer) will be, “Is logic ‘matter’ or ‘in motion'”.

    Again, the only way you can argue with me and not be a hypocrite is to admit that reality comprises of more than ‘matter in motion’. The fact that logic exists being case in point. And again it would be an inviting prospect to be able to use logic in order to argue with what I say, would it not?

    Cheers :)

  • 4. John Morales  |  July 14, 2008 at 8:49 am

    Um, Grant.

    If you deny the existence of meaning and value then you deny the possibility that anything you say has meaning or value.

    Here are relevant sentences from the post (my bold):
    1. Existentialism argues that the world does not contain values.
    2. It, therefore, has no value at all but what we put in it.
    3. “Nothing in the world has significance except by virtue of one’s own creation. There are no rules, no ethical systems, no values; there is no external referent whatsoever; there is no grand design in the universe.”

    Grant, you’re asking what was addressed directly in the post. Why? I doubt it’s lack of comprehension.

  • 5. HeIsSailing  |  July 14, 2008 at 10:28 am

    Ah, now this is something that I can fully resonate with. The realization that we live in a universe with no intrinsic morallity was something that took me a long time to accept, and I have to be honest, it was even a little scary there for a while. As an apostate from Christianity, I fully embrace this aspect of existentialism.

  • 6. Grant Dexter  |  July 14, 2008 at 10:39 am

    If you wish to say value exists because you say it does then you require some evidence in order for me to believe you. What proof do you have that meaning only exists because you say it does?

  • 7. HeIsSailing  |  July 14, 2008 at 10:50 am

    If you wish to say value exists because you say it does then you require some evidence in order for me to believe you.

    Grant, I have no desire to make you believe me.

    I disagreed with much of Richard’s last article on Death and Isolation, but at least it made me think and consider my own situation. Other De-Converts may agree or disagree with certain aspects of this article on value on worth. That is what these series of articles are for – points to ponder and discuss. They are not articles of faith which need defending.

  • 8. LeoPardus  |  July 14, 2008 at 11:03 am

    the correct response of creature to Creator is one of abject submission. One is to empty one’s will… This is what evangelical Christian responsibility amounts to: following orders.

    Actually this all makes perfect sense to me from an internal (to Christianity) perspective. If there is a supreme, all knowing deity, and if he has told you what is right/wrong, etc, then submission would be good. Why follow your own, limited ideas or morals, when you have perfect guidance? Analogistically, why stumble around in the mountains if you have a native guide, or a GPS, to direct you?

    I’m not arguing the truth of the faith here. I’m just saying that if you believe in the Christian deity, then it makes perfect sense to follow his divine ways over your own ideas.

    Never mind that they have also chosen what they will consider to be the orders in the first place.

    BUT here you NAIL the problem. Few, if indeed any, ever follow the “divine” guidance. Everyone picks and chooses what they want to do or believe. Then they design apologetics after the fact to defend their human decision. (And of course they then brand those human-devised apologetics as “taking the Word of God literally.”)

  • 9. Grant Dexter  |  July 14, 2008 at 11:16 am

    Other De-Converts may agree or disagree with certain aspects of this article on value on worth. That is what these series of articles are for – points to ponder and discuss. They are not articles of faith which need defending.

    I’ve pondered and discussed this issue extensively. I’ve come to a conclusion. Would you prefer to flounder in the dark for as long as I did or see the simple truth. ‘Coz it’s rite there…

  • 10. HeIsSailing  |  July 14, 2008 at 11:35 am

    Grant, believe it or not, I lived the ‘simple truth’ as a Christian for decades. I know what your conclusion is – I lived it myself, and I have rejected it as pious fantasy. You can type what you want here, but don’t be surprised when we reject it. We apostates already know what your conclusion is, and we have already rejected it.

  • 11. LeoPardus  |  July 14, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    Happily for Grant, his bible teaches arrogance and condescension as the greatest of christian virtues.

    Some quotes from the bible he reads:

    “In all large-headedness, consider others as lower than yourself.”

    “God spits on the humble, but he admires the proud.”

    “When you come to a banquet, kick the guy out of the highest seat at the table and take it.”

    “Be always ready to give an answer for the hope that is in you. But do this with harshness and no respect, so that those who speak against you may be ashamed of their stupidity.”

    “The gospel is an offense to those who do not believe, so do all that you can to be as offensive as possible.”

  • 12. Jonathan Blake  |  July 14, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    If you wish to say value exists because you say it does then you require some evidence in order for me to believe you. What proof do you have that meaning only exists because you say it does?

    Another way to say what others have already said is that value and meaning aren’t impersonal objective realities; they are intimately personal. There is no right or wrong in questions of meaning or value. That would be like saying it’s “wrong” to have strawberry as your favorite flavor of ice cream. That just doesn’t compute. My life has a certain meaning for me. It has a different meaning for you. That doesn’t break any fundamental laws of the universe.

  • 13. LeoPardus  |  July 14, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    And the truly amazing this is that Grant will respond to the above by showing us how absolutely right he is.

  • 14. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 14, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    At least some Christians who come here can prompt some interesting discussions, even if nothing really comes of them; Grant is just asinine.

    I’m about ready to break out the “Do not feed the trolls” sign again after reading his posts…

  • 15. Rover  |  July 14, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    This is a great struggle for me. If I leave the security of Christianity what do I cling to? What do I teach my son about right and wrong. Do I tell him to lie if it suits him? To steal as long as you can justifiy it. To sleep with as many women as possible as long as you enjoy it? This lack of a foundation or lack of an external moral construct scares me. The bible makes perfect sense when it describes who I am and how I think. In this regard it seems to have credibilty.

  • 16. Grant Dexter  |  July 14, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    We apostates already know what your conclusion is, and we have already rejected it.

    I’m not here to try and convince everyone of everything. Wouldn’t dream of being capable of that… :)

  • 17. Grant Dexter  |  July 14, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    LeoPardus. If you have a rational defence for your faith then I’d be willing to respond to it. That you must resort to discussing your dislike of me gets us nowhere…

  • 18. Grant Dexter  |  July 14, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    Jonathan: Another way to say what others have already said is that value and meaning aren’t impersonal objective realities; they are intimately personal. There is no right or wrong in questions of meaning or value. That would be like saying it’s “wrong” to have strawberry as your favorite flavor of ice cream. That just doesn’t compute. My life has a certain meaning for me. It has a different meaning for you. That doesn’t break any fundamental laws of the universe.

    Preferences aren’t matters of right and wrong, they’re preferences. You need to use an analogy that actually fits the situation. Or are you really of the opinion that anything we feel the desire to do is justified by that desire?

    And again there is no evidence provided as to why I should accept that meaning and value, right and wrong are merely the result of human machinations.

    – – –

    If you wish to ignore me, call me a troll, insult and ridicule a parody of me then I am well prepared to depart. Or else you could just ask. It’d save a bit of bother.

    Or perhaps you could just respond to the simple challenge I pose. Upon what evidence does anyone here accept that meaning and value are solely the construct of human preference?

    Let me guide you through what my response will be. Either you will say there is no evidence, to which I will rest, or you will show me evidence at which point I will ask whether that evidence is the result of human preference.

    Choose well.

  • 19. Grant Dexter  |  July 14, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    SnugglyBuffalo: I’m about ready to break out the “Do not feed the trolls” sign again after reading his posts…

    Show me where I’ve been illogical. Show me where I’ve been untruthful. Show me where I’ve tried to hijack the conversations. Show me anything except your inability to respond in a reasonable fashion and your obvious dislike of what I have to say.

    Truthfully? Honestly? I do care if I am to be ignored on and banned from every website where my views do not line up with the stated vision. But the feelings I have to deal with have in no way dismantled the logic and reason I present. I’m sorry you don’t like it. But maybe I’m the last chance some people have to hear something helpful for them. Perhaps you’re impeding the pursuit of happiness for even one person. Perhaps your dislike of me has overtaken your common sense that tells you, “I might be wrong”.

    I’m sorry you don’t like me. But I ain’t gonna change from being reasonable and logical because of that. So if you’re all going to do something about it, do it quickly. Then we don’t have to all pussy-foot around.

  • 20. Richard  |  July 14, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    but I find it highly hypocritical to then use attacks on Christians in order to prop up your ideas.

    If you read carefully, I am not attacking Christians. I am attacking Christian theology.

    I think you should admit that the universe is imbued with the notion of what is right and what is wrong…

    …The fact that logic exists being case in point.

    Grant, you are conflatingthree very different issues here. The existence of morality and the existence of logic are entirely distinct and the latter does not necessarily imply the former. And meaning and value are something else entirely. So, you need to separate these things in your thinking before we can clearly get at them,

    There is nothing contradictory about a logical, orderly univrese that has no “objective” moraility, whatever that might mean.

    The existentialist view is that moraility and meaning and value are human creations. There is nothing at all wierd about this,. Meaning exists ” because I say it does” in the same way that having a headache exists because I say it does. I.e., meaning and value *for me*.

    Morality is more complex, and there are more ways to “ground” morality than divine command theory (e.g., Kant), althought existentialism would be critical of that too.

    So, which of these three would you like to discuss?

  • 21. Richard  |  July 14, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    Sorry, that last post was mine. (#20)

  • 22. HeIsSailing  |  July 14, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    And again there is no evidence provided as to why I should accept that meaning and value, right and wrong are merely the result of human machinations.

    The evidence provided is that there is no evidence for a transcendent being who provides those standards of meaning and value for us. With that realization, we have no choice but to take up the reigns and impose those standards of meaning and value on our own lives as best as we can.

    Here is my analogy. Why is gold a precious metal? Does it have have intrinsic worth imparted on it by a Divine Being? No – gold has worth and value only because we, as a society, have decided that it has worth, and have given it that worth.

    I do not see our lives, our meaning or our morality as being any different. We, Christians and non-Christians alike, impose those things upon ourselves. Our meaning, our worth, and our morality are granted by us and for us, just as we do any other object that we deem valuable. I have written several articles on this if you are interested. Check the archive.

  • 23. ubi dubium  |  July 14, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    Rover,

    You are so in the right place. Discarding christianity does not mean discarding all sense of right and wrong. Let me remind you of the “deconversion wager”:

    Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place.

    That’s a good start. And although I have no belief in supernatural beings, I can look at the holy books of all religions as man’s effort to understand just those questions you asked. They all contain some measure of wisdom and there are some points that they are all in agreement on, such as the golden rule.

    You can still use some of the teachings of the bible as a moral foundation, even without accepting it as divine revelation. (Just as long as you skip those parts about it being OK to kill people, or own slaves, or abuse children, as long as god tells you to.)

    And for your son? Teach him that he is part of a community of humans, and we must take care of each other, and our planet. Teach him that whatever decisions he makes in his life, he will be responsible for their outcome. That he must think of the long-term effects of what he does, and be prepared to live with it.

    And sometimes lying is OK. Like when you tell your mother-in-law how much you just luuuv the singing necktie she gave you.

  • 24. Obi  |  July 14, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    Rover —

    Any way you look at it, you’re clinging to human morals. Contrary to popular belief, every single moral teaching in the Bible and all other holy books comes straight from humans. Humans can govern and create moral laws for themselves without the need of supposed “divine revelation”. We create rules and regulations to help keep society together, and morality in no way stems only from religion. For example, does the Bible tell us how to dispose of nuclear waste so as to reduce its potential impact on the environment? It would be “wrong” to just leave it out there, so we do the “right” thing, such as storing it in mountains.

    Another example is the field of bioethics. I’m currently doing a paper on the bioethics surrounding genetically modified organisms and their implementation in the wordlwide food supply (if you eat any type of grain, you’ve eaten GMOs). The BIble says nothing about these issues, for obvious reasons. So far, God hasn’t carved any rules out on stone tablets instructing scientists on how to regulate these practices, and I think most realize that he never will.

    Morality and ethics are completely human undertakings that are in no way dictated to us by a God or gods. One reason is that there is no evidence for the existence of these entities, but another reason is that the “divine command theory” of ethics runs into an ancient problem, namely the Euthyphro dilemma, which is usually formulated as, “Is what is moral commanded by God because it is moral, or is it moral because it is commanded by God?” It’s an extremely interesting problem, and one you should definitely think about.

    Anyway, long story short, tell your children that they should do “good” things to other humans because doing such things contribute to the cohesiveness of society and bring pleasure and happiness to other humans, among other reasons. Not because some mysterious, invisible entity in the sky commands you to follow these rules or you’ll face eternal hellfire, but because it benefits your fellow human beings. I think that’s a much better way to instill morality into your children.

    Oh, and P.S.: lying can be good in certain circumstances. Morality isn’t always black and white, either. If you were a compassionate German during the Holocaust and a Nazi officer came along one day searching for Jews and asked if any were hiding in your neighbor’s attic, would you tell him the truth if they were there? Sure it would be “right” to always tell the truth, but is it really “right” if it causes the loss of innocent life when a lie could have saved them? That’s simply one example of situational ethics, there are many more. The world is a complex place.

  • 25. LeoPardus  |  July 14, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    If you wish to ignore me, call me a troll, insult and ridicule a parody of me then I am well prepared to depart.

    Great. Ta ta.

  • 26. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 14, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    Grant:

    I think you should admit that the universe is imbued with the notion of what is right and what is wrong.

    What support do you have for this? The only thing in the universe I see behaving with any sort of a sense of right and wrong is humanity, and it’s been seriously debated as to whether that’s innate or learned, a good point in favor of it as a learned sense being feral children.

    Again, the only way you can argue with me and not be a hypocrite is to admit that reality comprises of more than ‘matter in motion’. The fact that logic exists being case in point.

    Logic doesn’t “exist” any more than our thoughts “exist.” The universe is not “logical” or “illogical,” it simply is. Logic is a construct of the human mind, itself a product of our brains. So far you have provided no compelling argument against the universe existing as nothing more than matter and energy.

    You have yet to provide anything more than asinine arguments trying to steer this discussion of existentialism over to a discussion of why Christianity is the Truth.

  • 27. orDover  |  July 14, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    Existentialists argue: because you make a choice to. There is no other answer. No matter what standard you adopt as a basis for decision-making, you are responsible for having made the choice to assume that standard.

    When I took an introductory philosophy class my sophomore year of college I participated in a group presentation on Existentialism. To illustrated this last point, we made cupcakes, half of them with sugar, half of them with salt instead. The salty cupcakes we decorated more lavishly, the sugar ones had plain frosting. Everyone chose a cupcake based on which they thought looked most delicious, and then at the same time took a bite. We told those who chose the salty ones that they should now be forced to eat their entire cupcake, to accept responsibility for their choice. But we weren’t that mean. :)

  • 28. LeoPardus  |  July 14, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    Rover:

    Really good questions.

    If I leave the security of Christianity what do I cling to?

    Well, in a sense, nothing. There’s nothing like an all powerful father figure. You can hold to those you love; to ideals you recognize as good and beneficial to live with; to things you enjoy; etc.

    What do I teach my son about right and wrong.

    Teach him what you know already. The golden rule, common sense, and so on. You can use Biblical morals, so long as you know the undergirding ideas that make them apply to today. (e.g. it’s OK to wear mixed fiber clothing now, but it’s still bad to steal)

    Three tough situational ones here:
    Do I tell him to lie if it suits him?

    No. Teach him the consequences of lying and of telling the truth. This approach may help him understand why it’s OK to lie about hiding Jews from Nazis, but not to lie about stealing cookies.

    To steal as long as you can justifiy it.

    Consequences and effects of actions should be learned. The Golden Rule would really apply here. E.g. if someone were about to starve, would you want/mind that they stole your food?

    To sleep with as many women as possible as long as you enjoy it?

    Consequences and effects. Risk of disease, pregnancy, jealous other boyfriends, dads, big brothers, etc all should be considered. Would you want someone to casually sleep with your sister, mom, girlfriend, wife? Would you want your wife, girlfriend sleeping with others? What about her having slept around before you were going out with her? ….. Etc.

    This lack of a foundation or lack of an external moral construct scares me.

    Boy oh boy, can we all identify with THAT! Given what I was like before I was Christian, I did not want to return to such an existence. Fortunately I grew up in the interim. It probably also helped that, as part of my apologetics, I looked for reasons for Christian morals apart from the Bible. After all, I couldn’t very well witness to non-Christians with, “The Bible says this is right/wrong.” could I?

    The bible makes perfect sense when it describes who I am and how I think. In this regard it seems to have credibilty.

    Yes indeed. I lived with it for 25 years. My identity was totally wrapped up in my faith and my understanding of the Bible. It made sense. Losing the faith caused an great identity crisis. Finding myself again was a struggle. I know others hereabouts would say the same.

  • 29. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 14, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    Sadly, when I took a course on philosophy in college I was still fully entrenched in my Christian belief, which led to me to finish the class without really taking anything away from it.

    As for Rover’s questions, I’m going through that exact struggle right now. Since I can no longer cling to Christianity for the basis of my morality and ethics, I’m having to figure these things out on my own. It’s both a thrilling and terrifying experience. I have some close atheist friends who are all very morally upright citizens, and if they can manage without the support of Christianity, there’s no reason I can’t.

    As far as the specific questions, I think Leo addressed them far better than I ever could.

  • 30. Richard  |  July 14, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    Rover and SnugglyB. –

    I hear you, believe me, I do. I have struggled with exactly the same thing, as I suspect many people here have.

    We have been conditioned by our former faith to believe, as Grant does, that all possible morality and ethics are inextricably intertwined with Christianity. If it falls, all is lost, or so we fear.

    Anyones answer to this fear is going to be very personal, and may or may not work for you. Most people struggle with it and eventually find a way of making ethics make sense. So, all I can offer you here is my own personal answer.

    What worked for me was to turn the question around. I.e., make it empirica & pragmatic. In other words, dont ask whether there can be any ethics outside of religion. Look around you, and within you, and ask yourself what you actually find.

    Do you *want* to teach your son to lie, cheat, and steal? Do you *want* to teach him that it doesnt matter what you do or how you live? Forget, for a moment, whether you can “justify” it. What do you want for him?

    When I look at my children I see the most beautiful,sublime, worthwhile and — I will use the word — “holy” things I have ever known. I see in them all the “justification” I need to love life and to teach them how to live a good life.

    No, I cannot “ground” my ethics or values with the certainty fundamentalism offers. And I admit that that is a loss — but then, it was never really there in the first place. It was an illusion. But I have learned to live with that uncertaintly. Im okay with being unable to justify with geometric proof exactly what is right and what is wrong. I have to struggle with my ethics rather than having it handed to me or looking it up in the Instruction Manual.

    But, for my part, I have found that it simply makes no difference in how I live or act, ethically, whether I can “ground” it in God or not. If someone were to prove to me that there was a god, and he commanded murder and rape — I would not do it, command or no.

    Thats, at least, what works for me. It may not be philosophically watertight, but pragmatically, it works.

  • 31. LeoPardus  |  July 14, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    If you have a rational defence for your faith, then I’d be willing to respond to it.

    But you can’t understand it. So why would I trot it out?

    How does the shoe fit Grant? Comfy?

  • 32. Griffin  |  July 14, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    “This is a great struggle for me. If I leave the security of Christianity what do I cling to? What do I teach my son about right and wrong. Do I tell him to lie if it suits him? To steal as long as you can justifiy it. To sleep with as many women as possible as long as you enjoy it? This lack of a foundation or lack of an external moral construct scares me. The bible makes perfect sense when it describes who I am and how I think. In this regard it seems to have credibilty.”

  • 33. Griffin  |  July 14, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    Stupid lack of preview button and accidentally hitting ‘enter…’

    Rover,

    “This is a great struggle for me. If I leave the security of Christianity what do I cling to? What do I teach my son about right and wrong. Do I tell him to lie if it suits him? To steal as long as you can justifiy it. To sleep with as many women as possible as long as you enjoy it? This lack of a foundation or lack of an external moral construct scares me. The bible makes perfect sense when it describes who I am and how I think. In this regard it seems to have credibilty.”

    Teach your son that we are all human. Teach your son that because we are all human, we are all in this together. If he wants to lie, have him ask himself if he wants other people to lie to him. Ask him if he would mind if his fellow humans stole his property or robbed him of the fruits of his labor. If he wants to sleep around, ask if he would enjoy being used as a disposable toy.

    Without God to punish others for disobeying his arbitrary rules it is up to us to be empathetic. All of are equally human and therefore share an equality of rights and privileges. All we have to ‘cling to’ is a trust that if we extend an understanding of our shared humanity to each other, everybody else will extend it to us.

    Sure, there is no ‘hell’ waiting for those who would take advantage of us but there are civil means for redress and beyond that it’s just something we must accept.

    In the end, every other person on earth is human, just like you. Treat them as such.

  • 34. Grant Dexter  |  July 15, 2008 at 1:57 am

    Anon:So, which of these three would you like to discuss?

    I’d like to discuss the connections I actually made rather than the straw men you lined up. The original statement was that the world is nothing but “matter in motion” which is the basis on which morality is seen as an illusion. My challenge is that logic could be seen as an illusion by the same reasoning. So, what do you think? Is logic something real that “imbues the universe”? Or is it just something that only has relevance because people like it?

  • 35. Grant Dexter  |  July 15, 2008 at 2:01 am

    Anon = Richard …

    HelsSailing:The evidence provided is that there is no evidence for a transcendent being who provides those standards of meaning and value for us.

    Oh, great. Another argument from silence.

    The existence of morality is evidence for God. How blinded are you?

  • 36. Grant Dexter  |  July 15, 2008 at 2:07 am

    As an aside: Euthyphro dilemma, “Is what is moral commanded by God because it is moral, or is it moral because it is commanded by God?” is easy. It’s moral because God said so.

    Euthyphro’s assault doesn’t work on God who has three persons who testify to the righteousness of each other from eternity past.

    As not an aside: Seeya, LeoPardus. Didn’t know you were leaving, mate! What brought this on?

  • 37. Grant Dexter  |  July 15, 2008 at 2:09 am

    SnugglyBuffalo:What support do you have for this? The only thing in the universe I see behaving with any sort of a sense of right and wrong is humanity, and it’s been seriously debated as to whether that’s innate or learned, a good point in favor of it as a learned sense being feral children.

  • 38. Grant Dexter  |  July 15, 2008 at 2:11 am

    ….continued from last post…

    Oh. So you see the unique example of right and wrong being recognised and somehow this is evidence that right and wrong do not exist just as logic does? Golly!

  • 39. Grant Dexter  |  July 15, 2008 at 2:13 am

    Logic doesn’t “exist” any more than our thoughts “exist.” The universe is not “logical” or “illogical,” it simply is. Logic is a construct of the human mind, itself a product of our brains. So far you have provided no compelling argument against the universe existing as nothing more than matter and energy.

    I see. Chalk one up for not believing logic exists.

  • 40. John Morales  |  July 15, 2008 at 4:30 am

    [meta]
    Grant,

    I’m a newcomer here, but, unlike you, I wipe my feet on the mat and don’t (as we Aussies say) carry on like a pork chop.

    Yes, we know you disagree – but when people try to engage you you merely fall back on sarcasm and attempted ridicule rather than addressing the issue.

    Hint: before you can ridicule a position you have to know what the position is.
    It’s pretty clear to me you don’t, in this case. And I think it’s because you don’t want to try to understand it.

    There, there.

  • 41. John T.  |  July 15, 2008 at 8:19 am

    For everyone here who is a de con.

    Do any of you still have a sense of a creator? I dont follow any specific doctrine or religion, yet I still believe that we have a Creator outside of my physical view of the world. Do any of you believe that also?

  • 42. BigHouse  |  July 15, 2008 at 8:57 am

    John,

    I believe it is possible that there is a creator. I do not believe there is any compelling religion, doctrine, etc out there that adequately defines him or our purported relationship we should have with him though.

  • 43. John Morales  |  July 15, 2008 at 9:00 am

    John T.

    Not sure if I count, I deconverted as a teenager long ago, but, for what it’s worth:

    No.
    No.

  • 44. ubi dubium  |  July 15, 2008 at 9:01 am

    John T:

    Do any of you still have a sense of a creator?

    No, I don’t. The more science I learn, the more I am persuaded that the universe is (to quote The Simpsons) “Just a bunch of stuff that happened”. And I’m totally fine with that.

  • 45. John T.  |  July 15, 2008 at 9:06 am

    Bighouse, Ubi, John

    Thanks for you responses. I love science and pretty much all the “natural” things life seems to bring us. Its funny though, that little intuitive voice I have still tells me something larger than life started it all. ;)

    Oh and by the way for all the Fundies………..the christian version is a wee bit too small. But hey hes got “some” good advice on living.

  • 46. BigHouse  |  July 15, 2008 at 9:09 am

    I agree John. There are parts of judeo-christian ethics I will continue to hold dear and teach my little ones. I’ll just forego the fire and brimstone stuff.

    I’ll also teach them to learn about everything around them, question it all, and make up their owns minds about what is truth. I am their guide and protector, not their dogma programmer.

  • 47. mysteryofiniquity  |  July 15, 2008 at 9:53 am

    Richard,

    Wonderful series of posts and well said, above. Ultimate responsibility is an awesome and scary thing, because we and only we make decisions for our lives. We can call that little voice in our heads “God” or “conscience” or “the fairy godmother” all we want, but it’s ultimately our voice with all of our experiences good or bad nurturing it along.

    The hardest thing for me to come to grips with in an existential universe is what you wrote:
    “The world is neutral. Nature is neutral. It is neither good nor bad, friendly nor hostile, purposeful nor purposeless. The world is just matter in motion; it does not tell you what is good or what goals should be pursued.” But to me it’s ultimately freeing as well.

    Everyone is scared s*#tless that there is no such thing as a purposeful universe. Why are they scared? Because it would mean that they would have to grow up and take responsibility, not only for their own actions, but perhaps for the actions of others as well. Human beings aren’t ready for that. They’d rather blame a big Daddy in the sky who’ll get them out of trouble or pat them on the head and tell them how wonderful they are. So much evolving yet to do…

    Thanks for the read.

  • 48. Richard  |  July 15, 2008 at 10:44 am

    My challenge is that logic could be seen as an illusion by the same reasoning.

    Well, I suppose you could

    argue

    that it is, but asserting it “could be seen” as such doesnt add up to much. My argument was that there is no necessary connection between the existence of logic and the existence of morality. There is nothing at all contradictory about a universe that is both amoral and nonetheless orderly. If you think there is a contradiction, where is it?

    I think we are both agreed on the existence of logic. Logic is, in epistemological terms, “self-evident” (or, rather, the individual parts of it, like the law of identity). That makes it a part of whats called foundationalism. Truths considered logically self-evident are not in need of further grounding or explanation.

    The point here is that the “existence” of logic, basically, is an axiomatic posit. It does not get, nor does it require, further justification. (Perhaps this is a weakness in finite human epistemology, perhaps it is just a reflection of the way the world is.) It is a description of the relationships that govern the stuff in universe.

    Morality is not like this. Or, if it is, you have not shown to be much. We are agreed that logic “exists” in some objective sense (we could test at least some of it) and, for our purposes, can set aside for a moment the question of whether it is in need of explaining as you seem to suggest. We are not agreed that morality so exists. I await your argument.

    My argument seems only like a straw man because you persist in making category mistakes.

  • 49. Griffin  |  July 15, 2008 at 10:46 am

    John T:

    “Do any of you still have a sense of a creator? I dont follow any specific doctrine or religion, yet I still believe that we have a Creator outside of my physical view of the world. Do any of you believe that also?”

    No. I don’t really see (or feel) the need for a creator. Science has made great strides in the last 200 or so years in explaining the rational and natural origins of the universe around us. Assigning a ‘sky daddy’ to be behind everything (even the Deist sort of a ‘prime mover’ with no interest in the world) strikes me as the very last gasp of the ‘God of the Gaps’ that has slowly been expelled from our understanding of the world.

    Science doesn’t have all the answers yet but it has provided us with a self correcting system for examining the world around us based on the world around us. Introducing a force beyond scientific examination seems foolish. Everything else we have come into contact with has a scientific explanation or has shown signs of having a scientific explanation we haven’t deciphered yet. Why create a exceptional second category when everything fits into the standard category we have now?

  • 50. Richard  |  July 15, 2008 at 10:50 am

    Euthyphro’s assault doesn’t work on God who has three persons who testify to the righteousness of each other from eternity past.

    Dude, are you kidding? You are going to have to do a lot better than quoting Christian dogma as though it were an argument if you wish to convince anyone here.

    Here’s a question for you: how do these “three persons” know whether their two other buddies have got righteousness correct? That was the original question for “God”. You just split it into three.

    You have not solved Euthypro, my friend. Dear me, no, no, no. What you did is more like a kid who spreads his mashed potatoes all over his plate and then pretends they’re gone.

    (P.S. Ther *are* very venerable Christian answers to this dilemma. They are elegant, if not always convincing except to the faithful. Check it out.)

  • 51. Richard  |  July 15, 2008 at 10:54 am

    MOI-

    Everyone is scared s*#tless that there is no such thing as a purposeful universe. Why are they scared? Because it would mean that they would have to grow up and take responsibility, not only for their own actions, but perhaps for the actions of others as well. Human beings aren’t ready for that. They’d rather blame a big Daddy in the sky who’ll get them out of trouble or pat them on the head and tell them how wonderful they are.

    Exactly. That very freedom is exhilarating and terrifying. We receive no guidance from anyone bigger or smarter than ourselves about how to run our life, so we have to muddle along, as best we can, with a high level of uncertainty. We receive no cosmic validation: our importance and worth are in our own hands too. And good really does become its own reward; how could it be otherwise?

    But the possibility of living authenically, of really “becoming who you are” (to use Nietzsche’s phrase), of chosing your life and yourself and living richly and fully is thereby opened. Small comfort, perhaps, pr perhaps a large comfort — but either way, we had better get used to it!

  • 52. Griffin  |  July 15, 2008 at 10:58 am

    Post #49 was me. Oops.

  • 53. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 15, 2008 at 11:28 am

    I see. Chalk one up for not believing logic exists.

    Oh, please, is that the best you can do? I quite clearly said no such thing. I stated that logic only exists in as much as a product of the human mind. By its definition you can’t have logic without a rational mind to use it.

    Or maybe you meant logic as it applies to mathematics? In which case it “exists” in the same sense as the laws that govern the universe, which is just the rules for the behavior of matter and energy. None of this points to the necessary existence of morality, much less any sort of deity. Heck, even if logic exists in exactly the way you say it does, it’s still a logical fallacy to claim that morality must therefore also exist.

    The existence of morality is evidence for God. How blinded are you?

    You really believe this, don’t you? If you think that’s a reasonable statement, then I give up. There’s no point in arguing with fools. You say you aren’t “gonna change from being reasonable and logical.” I agree, because you can’t change away from something you never were to begin with.

  • 54. Grant Dexter  |  July 15, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    My argument was that there is no necessary connection between the existence of logic and the existence of morality. There is nothing at all contradictory about a universe that is both amoral and nonetheless orderly. If you think there is a contradiction, where is it?

    You’re not responding to my challenge. My challenge is to your statement that the world is solely comprised of “matter in motion”. This statement is a foundation upon which you justify the fact that morality does not exist independent of humanity’s ability to construct it. My challenge is that logic exists and that it must exist independently of our ability to construct it.

    This challenge leaves you with no escape.

    If you accept that logic exists as an independent quality of creation then you contradict your idea that the world is only “matter in motion” (unless you want to insist there are logic molecules).

    If you insist that logic only exists as a human construct then you are going to have to defend that with evidence. I really hope you are honest enough to admit that logic does not change depending on who uses it. :)

    I think we are both agreed on the existence of logic. Logic is, in epistemological terms, “self-evident” (or, rather, the individual parts of it, like the law of identity). That makes it a part of whats called foundationalism. Truths considered logically self-evident are not in need of further grounding or explanation.

    And from this I assume you are also prepared to admit that logic does not have molecules associated with it. I am going to assume you do not think logic is “matter in motion”. I am going to assume you simply haven’t seen the contradiction this idea about logic makes with your statement that the universe is solely “matter in motion”.

    If you do admit the contradiction then you must also see that if we have one example of something real that is not matter in our world then perhaps you are wrong about morality not being a real thing which exists independent of humanity’s ability to construct it.

    To return to your question that was off topic, I do think there is a contradiction between the idea of an amoral yet logical universe. I think that logic provides the black and white divide between right and wrong. I believe that this divide (coupled with the vast possibilities that life offers) makes every situation quantifiable as either right or wrong. To make the link between logic and morality, then, all I need is another non-material thing that exists. That thing is called, “Authority”.

    So here is another challenge to you, Richard. Does authority exist, or do you believe it is a human construct as well?

  • 55. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 15, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    Could you tell me what, outside of humanity, is logical about the universe? I get the feeling you’re using a definition of logic that is more broad than it should be…

  • 56. Grant Dexter  |  July 15, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    Dude, are you kidding? You are going to have to do a lot better than quoting Christian dogma as though it were an argument if you wish to convince anyone here.

    Nope, I’m not kidding. And I would have thought y’all’d have understood the answer, being de-converts and apparently more well trained in bible matters than most Christians.

    Euthy’s challenge is God cannot be worth considering because He either is subject to the same morality we are or else we are subject to His whim that might change at any time. If you look at the society Socrates was speaking to you’ll find this challenge very potent. In a pantheistic society the simple challenge of a moral code that might guide the ever-quarrelsome gods is unanswerable. But Socrates did not pose the challenge to God who is three persons who have never disagreed or dissented among themselves. In fact, Socrates challenge should have pointed clearly to gods who did not fight (which is almost a description of the trinity). The Greeks even had a monument to this “unknown god”.

    The God of the bible may claim to be the author of morality and we are able to trust Him if we accept His nature as described in the bible. If we see Him as dissenting amongst Himself as the pagans did their gods then Euthypro defeats Him.

    My answer is justified by my faith and is perfectly valid. I understand that you do not trust God so clearly you will reject Him no matter what. But Euthypro’s dilemma is answered sufficiently.

    Don’t worry though. It wasn’t all that good of a challenge (being directed at rocks and superstition). There are other challenges out there that I feel more challenged by.

    Peace :)

  • 57. Grant Dexter  |  July 15, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    Could you tell me what, outside of humanity, is logical about the universe? I get the feeling you’re using a definition of logic that is more broad than it should be…

    Do you think A might possibly be not A if no one is looking?

  • 58. Obi  |  July 15, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    Grant Dexter —

    (1) Logic is a way of describing the Universe. Things such as the laws of thermodynamics did not come into existence when humans formulated descriptions of them — we humans simply became aware of these laws. They are part of the Universe, the way things are. For example, “a black raven is red” is an illogical statement because that isn’t the way things are. It’s merely not how things work.

    (2) Morality is not a part of the Universe in the manner that logic is, because morality is a set of rules that are created by social animals (humans, gorillas, chimpanzees) that allow them to function more cohesively as a group. Morality does not exist independently of said animals, because it is something that they construct between themselves to better themselves.

    (3) Logic isn’t an immaterial concept. The thoughts that occur in our head when we even think of “logic” are founded in the material of our brain; the neurotransmitters, the neurons, the electrical impulses travelling across synapses, it’s all in our heads. We are wholly and completely beings made of mass-energy.

  • 59. Grant Dexter  |  July 15, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    Obi(1) Logic is a way of describing the Universe. Things such as the laws of thermodynamics did not come into existence when humans formulated descriptions of them — we humans simply became aware of these laws. They are part of the Universe, the way things are. For example, “a black raven is red” is an illogical statement because that isn’t the way things are. It’s merely not how things work.

    I agree!

    (2) Morality is not a part of the Universe in the manner that logic is, because morality is a set of rules that are created by social animals (humans, gorillas, chimpanzees) that allow them to function more cohesively as a group. Morality does not exist independently of said animals, because it is something that they construct between themselves to better themselves.

    I don’t agree!

    (3) Logic isn’t an immaterial concept. The thoughts that occur in our head when we even think of “logic” are founded in the material of our brain; the neurotransmitters, the neurons, the electrical impulses travelling across synapses, it’s all in our heads. We are wholly and completely beings made of mass-energy.

    Really? So you think it’s possible that A might be Not A if someone says so?

  • 60. Obi  |  July 15, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    Grant Dexter said, “Really? So you think it’s possible that A might be Not A if someone says so?

    How does that even follow from the statement you quoted?

  • 61. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 15, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    It seems like the concept of logic as a method of reasoning and logic as the order of the universe are being used interchangeably.

    The universe is not logical. It has an order, because of the properties of matter and energy. But it is not a thinking thing capable of reason. A is A because of the properties of matter and energy. Logic is simply thinking with reason about this fact.

    Logic is a construct of a reasonable mind, a set of rules to follow in your thinking. The order of the universe is the product of the properties of the matter and energy that comprise it.

  • 62. Grant Dexter  |  July 15, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    A short list of some things that are real yet not physical:
    Authority.
    Life.
    Logic.
    Love.
    Morality.
    Pain.
    Thought.
    Truth.

  • 63. Obi  |  July 15, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    Grant Dexter —

    All of those are firmly physical. Unless you’re stating that the brain isn’t physical, in which case you might be out of one.

  • 64. Grant Dexter  |  July 15, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    SnugglyBuffalo and Obi: If you think logic only exists in our minds then why does it always judge us according to what is real about the universe? What’s the connection? Why is everything that is stated in logical form able to be determined as valid or invalid?

    Is it simply pure luck that nobody has yet shown a logical set of statements that prove A is not A or is it possible that you are wrong when you say the logic a human uses is not connected to reality?

  • 65. Richard  |  July 15, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    Grant-
    Re: Euthyphro. Well, if youre going to insist that getting agreement among an alleged Godhead somehow satisfies the Euthyphro dilemma then Im not sure what to tell you. What do you say to man who baldly insists a nonsequitur makes sense? The problem is not that the Trinity might possibly disagree with itself. The problem is that youhave not addressed the question as to how *that which it agrees with itself regarding* is, in fact, good. Whether God is a unity or a trinity or a panethon makes no difference: whatever you assert to be “good” because God says so, is it good *because he says so* or is it good “and therefore he says so.” To simplify another notch: is God decreeing the good or reporting it? Trinity or not doesnt matter. You never answered my question:

    Here’s a question for you: how do these “three persons” know whether their two other buddies have got righteousness correct? That was the original question for “God”. You just split it into three.

  • 66. Obi  |  July 15, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    Grant Dexter —

    Surely you mustn’t be talking to me, because I never once stated that logic only existed in our minds in the way that you’re implying. Logic is a way of describing the Universe that we derive from observing the Universe. If we say that “All sheep are white“, and we subsequently find a black sheep, then the statement “All sheep are white” is rendered illogical, because it doesn’t describe how the Universe reallly is.

    However, I really don’t think we’re even on the same page here. You seem to be somewhere else entirely.

  • 67. Richard  |  July 15, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    Grant -#65 was mine. Sorry, again. Typing too fast.

  • 68. Grant Dexter  |  July 15, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    All of those are firmly physical. Unless you’re stating that the brain isn’t physical, in which case you might be out of one.

    You’re weird. But don’t worry. I like weird.

    :D

  • 69. Obi  |  July 15, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    Grant Dexter —

    But since you insist, please elaborate and explain how those things you mentioned are not physical?

  • 70. Grant Dexter  |  July 15, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    Here’s a question for you: how do these “three persons” know whether their two other buddies have got righteousness correct? That was the original question for “God”. You just split it into three.

    The “three guys” can be trusted to have got things right because they have never accused any other member. You can either accept that situation or not. I accept it. Why do you reject it. What evidence do you have that trumps the word of God?

    I’ve answered this question. I answer Euthypro’s Dilemma by saying that God determines what is moral. I do not fall victim to the accusation that I accept the whim of a bunch of gods who are always fighting with each other because I place my faith in God who within His Godhead has spent eternity in agreement with Himself. I can answer Euthypro’s Dilemma without worrying that you do not like my answer because I trust God not your assessment of Him or me.

    My trust is reasonable because God has shown Himself trustworthy. I know you do not accept God, but it is perfectly reasonable for me to accept Him and trust His judgment when there are no examples that might make me distrust Him.

    Your accusation that I have split the problem into three ignores the fact that in response to Socrates it is narrowing the field from a vast pantheon! It narrows the field from numerous gods all fighting and bickering amongst themselves. A pantheon that nobody in their right mind would accept decrees of morality from. It narrows the field to a unique God who has an eternity of trustworthiness to justify my faith.

  • 71. Grant Dexter  |  July 15, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    Obi. Given that we cannot create life, change logic, package love, make morality, press pain, transport thought, shoot at choices or train truth I see it as your burden to prove that those things are material.

  • 72. Griffin  |  July 15, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    Grant:

    “Really? So you think it’s possible that A might be Not A if someone says so?”

    You couldn’t have chosen a better example!

    Of course ‘A’ would not be ‘A’ if someone says so. In fact, people say so all the time! There are many languages that share our alphabet. German, French, Dutch, Italian, the list is extensive. In each of those languages, the symbol that looks like ‘A’ has different names and may even signify a different sound – and combines differently with other letters to form different words. So ‘A’ may always be a collection of lines but its nature varies greatly.

    This is because ‘A’ a human construct – it does not exist in nature. It is a symbol for a sound which we use to communicate among our species. As such, if our species were to be destroyed by a huge comet impact, ‘A’ would vanish from the solar system. ‘A’ would cease to be ‘A.’

    Of course one doesn’t need anything so dramatic to change ‘A.’ If enough people decide to call ‘A’ “glub” and write it to look like a ‘[]’ then your ‘A’ no longer exists. Think of things like ‘f’ in place of ‘ss.’

  • 73. Grant Dexter  |  July 15, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    Oh .. dear….

    I’m going to bed. That was really lame Griffin… :nono:

  • 74. ubi dubium  |  July 15, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    Grant –
    You still have not given any answer to the Euthyphro question:

    “Is what is moral commanded by God because it is moral, or is it moral because it is commanded by God?”

    Your assertion that there are actually three gods who agree with each other has nothing to do with the question you were asked. I’d like to hear an actual answer.

  • 75. Griffin  |  July 15, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    Grant:

    “Obi. Given that we cannot create life, change logic, package love, make morality, press pain, transport thought, shoot at choices or train truth I see it as your burden to prove that those things are material.”

    I can’t create stars. I can’t change the earth’s position among the planets. I can’t package sound. I don’t know what pressing pain is but I know that I can’t transport 31°47’N, 35°12’E. I can’t shoot at sound or train rocks. I see it as your burden to prove that those things are material.

    ———

    Regarding your dismissal of Obi’s explanation of the material nature of “Authority, Life, Logic, Love, Morality, Pain, Thought [and] Truth:”

    All of these (save life and pain) are either human constructs and are therefore ‘thought.’

    Either you are woefully ignorant of modern science or you are being purposely disingenuous. Science has demonstrated that the nature of human thought is a series of electrical charges (energy) traveling along synapses in the brain (material). Love is some as-yet-imperfectly-understood interaction of thought (and associated personality) and hormonal changes in body chemistry.

    While we may not (yet) be able to interpret these impulses and hormonal changes, they are detectable, observable, recordible and completely within the mass/energy boundaries.

    Life at its simplest is just a collection of atoms that uses outside energy sources to reproduce itself. Science engineers custom bacteria that don’t exist in nature. More advanced forms of life can’t be created in the lab yet, but we couldn’t split the atom 100 years ago either.

    Pain is simply electrical signals traveling along nerves and expressed as a sensation (functions like a thought – see above) by the brain.

  • 76. Griffin  |  July 15, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    Stupid lack of edit button… Only the first paragraph was Grant’s, the rest is my response. (obviously)

  • 77. Obi  |  July 15, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    Obi. Given that we cannot create life

    We cannot create matter either, yet it is physical.

    change logic

    This makes no sense. What does that have to do with it being physical or not? The concept of logic as stored in our brains is physical, and we derive this concept of logic from the physical Universe around us and how it behaves.

    package love

    Quite to the contrary. Feelings of love are triggered in certain parts of the brain by neurotransmitters and other chemicals. That’s physical in every sense of the word.

    make morality

    Again, the concept of morality is rooted in our physical brain. When you think of morality, the neurons in your brain are firing off to communicate with each other through electrical impulses transferred across synapses. That’s physical.

    press pain

    Same as love. When you feel the pain resulting from you touching a hot stove, nerve cells in your fingers fire off with signals that are relayed to your brain.

    transport thought

    Refer to morality. Put simply, thought is the result of neurons firing. Haven’t you ever seen the results of scans from an fMRI perhaps on the news relating to neuroscientists mapping out areas of the brain engaged in certain activities? I thought most have.

    shoot at choices

    Refer to thought.

    train truth

    Refer to thought. All of these conceps are based in your physical brain.

    The problem you seem to be having is that you’re purposefully feigning misunderstanding, mate. Does the fact that you cannot press, train, package or shoot a quark make it any less physical? Of course not, that’s silly.

  • 78. Richard  |  July 15, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    The “three guys” can be trusted to have got things right because they have never accused any other member.

    What can I say to this? You are trying to argue that because they agree therefore whatever they say is true.

    And even if I *were* to accept this non sequitur, ***it still doesn’t answer the question***, which is where do they get all these things that they get right? Do they discover them, or decree them?

    You are arguing 2+2=5 and insisting that, by faith, this satisfies you about the question of where God gets morality.

    You can either accept that situation or not

    Okay. I don’t accept it because its false. Actually, not so much false as illogical.

  • 79. Cthulhu  |  July 15, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    OK – I am with SnugglyBufalo’s earlier sentiment – don’t feed the troll. Grant doesn’t have any answers – just arrogant platitudes.

  • 80. Joe  |  July 15, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    “Is what is moral commanded by God because it is moral, or is it moral because it is commanded by God?”

    If God is the Creator then he has obviously created things based on what He thinks is considered moral right? I would say it is moral because God has “commanded it” or basically intuitively put it in our minds and hearts.

    SnugglyBuffalo—–

    I have posted on so many threads that I’ve forgotten which one it was I was talking on yesterday about the “martyr complex”—-I was searching through various threads and cannot find the specific example I was looking for at this time. But I can tell you this. One De-con in particular, who used to be a minister for 40 years is the one who said twice or three times to me “You have no idea the suffering I have gone through in coming to my decision to deconvert” (paraphrase).

    I told this person to “stop sniveling” and get over it. He then responded “I am over it. Move on”. This person, along with a couple more have made statements to that effect, and is why I spoke of the “martyr complex” yesterday. If I happen upon the posts I will sample them for you.

    I know I am off subject, but wanted to make sure you knew that I wasn’t just “making things up” yesterday, and did give it some effort this morning. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be a search engine where you could put a phrase like “I am over it. Move on.” and it would take you to the exact set of posts. Unless someone knows how to do that here.

  • 81. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 15, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    SnugglyBuffalo and Obi: If you think logic only exists in our minds then why does it always judge us according to what is real about the universe? What’s the connection? Why is everything that is stated in logical form able to be determined as valid or invalid?

    Again, you’re confusing the properties of the universe with the ability to reason about it. Logic doesn’t judge us. We’ve created logic such that following it helps ensure you don’t arrive at conclusions that do not mesh with reality, but reality is the way it is because of the properties of the matter and energy that make it up. Something that is stated in logical form can be determined to be valid or invalid because we’ve set logic up to work within the bounds of reality. But again, reality is not set up with logic, it merely follows the properties it has, mindlessly.

    Logic is a method of reasoning, created by humans. It is set up to follow the boundaries of reality, which themselves result from the properties of the matter and energy of the universe. It is not some non-physical “thing” that humans stumbled upon. If the laws of the universe somehow changed we would have to change logic to work with that.

    And Griffin, I think Grant meant “A” as a variable, not as the literal letter of the alphabet. Logically, you cannot say some thing, A, is not A, that’s what he was getting at. The problem is, A is A because that’s how the universe works. Logic only comes into play when we try to reason about A.

    Anyway, I doubt this last argument of mine will have any impact on Grant. He’s already operating under the assumption that there are non-physical things, and dismisses out-of-hand any suggestion that this may not be the case. This whole debate is becoming less than fruitless, and I’m going to take my leave of it for now until I see some indication that it might actually go somewhere.

  • 82. Joe  |  July 15, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    OK – I am with SnugglyBufalo’s earlier sentiment – don’t feed the troll. Grant doesn’t have any answers – just arrogant platitudes.

    I sure wish I could understand why so many conversations with Christians devolve into the above type of comments. Yesterday I was called “an arrogant ass” after making a couple of sarcastic remarks. It really seems if a Christian really opens up here and gives a very valid opionion—–one you don’t happen to like—he is therefore making “arrogant platitudes”. I really don’t understand this as this is a blog, and often on blogs people make sarcastic comments, or forceful comments.

    Richard—

    In response to Grant before he has been called “arrogant” you said:

    You are arguing 2+2=5 and insisting that, by faith, this satisfies you about the question of where God gets morality.

    What else is he supposed to do? God, according to the Bible, ALWAYS HAS BEEN, IS, AND ALWAYS SHALL BE. We cannot grasp this of course—-we are finite. It shocks our system, because everything here has a beginning and an end. To say that someone exists that always has been and will always be is an infinite statement. Morality is therefore infinite—-it is PART of who God IS—not something that God “gets” at all. The Ten Commandments are therefore infinite because they have ALWAYS been part of God’s moral law—–WHO HE IS.

    I know it is hard to accept this—–again, we are finite—-we cannot grasp that. But it is true.

  • 83. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 15, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    Joe, was it in coming to the decision to de-convert, or the act of de-conversion itself that was said to be painful? Which did the poster mean by his statement? This is an important distinction, because as you’ve said, many have gone through the doubt that leads some to de-convert. However, not everyone goes through the pain of actually de-converting; you certainly haven’t, and therefore cannot know the pain involved in actually giving up your faith vs. simply doubting your faith.

  • 84. Cthulhu  |  July 15, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    Joe,

    My comment was provoked by the fact that Grant does not answer direct questions – he prefers to play word games and mouth the same tired platitudes seen here repeatedly.

    God, according to the Bible, ALWAYS HAS BEEN, IS, AND ALWAYS SHALL BE.

    And the Bible was written by superstitious semi-nomadic Semitic tribesmen too ignorant to keep their own excrement out of their food (channeling Sam Harris). And ‘The Bible said so’ is supposed to mean exactly what to me?

  • 85. mysteryofiniquity  |  July 15, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    SnugglyBuffalo,

    You wrote: “many have gone through the doubt that leads some to de-convert. However, not everyone goes through the pain of actually de-converting;”

    I would add also that I think the process for converting or for deconverting is not a one-time event. Remember most evangelical Christians believe Conversion is a one-time event that happens at a particular moment in history, the Holy Spirit is conferred, and some even say that after that moment, the believer cannot be lost. Most evangelicals who debate on this forum are of this mindset, which is why they now tell deconverts that they were never converted to begin with; i.e. they never experienced this one-time event.

    Therefore, these same evangelicals are also assuming from their doctrinal experience that deconversion is also a one-time event. That many of us can point to a single moment in history when we chose not to believe, just as they thought we could point to a moment when we chose the opposite. One minute we are Christians and the next, Hell awaits.

    I personally believe both conversion and deconversion are processes that take much time. There is no one-time, once and for all event in which one minute we are “accepted by God” after a lifetime of un-acceptance. What appears to be a one-time event took a while to germinate. So, I’m wondering if some of us are working off the premise of both being processes and others are working off the premise of both being single events.

    What think you?

  • 86. Griffin  |  July 15, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    SnugglyBuffalo:

    “And Griffin, I think Grant meant “A” as a variable, not as the literal letter of the alphabet. Logically, you cannot say some thing, A, is not A, that’s what he was getting at. The problem is, A is A because that’s how the universe works. Logic only comes into play when we try to reason about A.”

    I know. I figured language, as a human construct, was similar enough to logic that he’d get the point. Apologies if the ‘tongue in cheek-ness’ didn’t come through.

  • 87. Griffin  |  July 15, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    Joe:

    “You are arguing 2+2=5 and insisting that, by faith, this satisfies you about the question of where God gets morality.

    What else is he supposed to do? God, according to the Bible, ALWAYS HAS BEEN, IS, AND ALWAYS SHALL BE. We cannot grasp this of course—-we are finite. It shocks our system, because everything here has a beginning and an end. To say that someone exists that always has been and will always be is an infinite statement. Morality is therefore infinite—-it is PART of who God IS—not something that God “gets” at all. The Ten Commandments are therefore infinite because they have ALWAYS been part of God’s moral law—–WHO HE IS.

    I know it is hard to accept this—–again, we are finite—-we cannot grasp that. But it is true.”

    I have a very simple question:

    What if the Bible isn’t true?

  • 88. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 15, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    I would agree that it’s all a process. I would add the stipulation that there is a one-time event where you decide to consciously acknowledge the result, however. It was a months-long process of study for me as I de-converted, but it wasn’t until May 31st of this year that I finally, consciously recognized that I no longer believed. This wasn’t a decision, just a realization.

    Griffin,
    I don’t know if your example really works that well even in the tongue-in-cheek context. If someone(s) decides that A will now be %, the variable A now refers to %, not the letter A. Maybe the meaning behind what you said is lost on me, though. I have a hard time reading people even when I’m in the same room talking to them.

    Anyway, tongue-in-cheek responses are difficult to put in pure text, as I’m sure Joe will attest to ;)

  • 89. Richard  |  July 15, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    What else is he supposed to do? God, according to the Bible, ALWAYS HAS BEEN, IS, AND ALWAYS SHALL BE. We cannot grasp this of course—-we are finite. It shocks our system, because everything here has a beginning and an end. To say that someone exists that always has been and will always be is an infinite statement. Morality is therefore infinite—-it is PART of who God IS—not something that God “gets” at all. The Ten Commandments are therefore infinite because they have ALWAYS been part of God’s moral law—–WHO HE IS.

    Joe, thank you for addressing this question; I think you bring up some very important points.

    You have just given the best Christian (or, indeed, theistic) answer to the Euthyphro problem that there is. That is not to say it is without problems! ;) But it is an honest effort and, moreover, were I a believer, I could see the appeal of this sort of answer. It is, in a way, elegant. But its also unconvincing.

    What you’ve done, here, is two things: (1) you equate (implicitly) God with the Good. I.e., God is *defined* as being Good and (2) an appeal to ineffability.

    (1) This is a fine answer to the problem of the source of morality, except that it is, at bottom, arbitrary. There appears to be no reason why someone else (i.e., a nontheist) couldn’t also solve the problem by definition. If you can say you know why good is good because you define it as so (or, equivalently, posit an incorporeal being and then equate the two), why cant I?

    (2) I am probably kinder on the ineffability argument than some other nontheists (I don’t think its just meaningless, as some do) but, again, its an unsatisfactory answer for someone not already inclined to believe. It may be the case that we just cant understand, but what reason do we have in particular to think that it is actually true? Couldn’t I also say, “Morality is grounded in mystical

  • 90. Richard  |  July 15, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    …that last post should end with:

    …mystical armadillos. We cant understand that because we are so limited, but it is true.”

    Kinda loses the punch line… [sigh]

  • 91. Richard  |  July 15, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    You’re not responding to my challenge. My challenge is to your statement that the world is solely comprised of “matter in motion”. This statement is a foundation upon which you justify the fact that morality does not exist independent of humanity’s ability to construct it. My challenge is that logic exists and that it must exist independently of our ability to construct it.

    Okay, fine. Im going to concede that I spoke too loosely in my original article. When I said “matter in motion” I thought that I would be understood to mean “matter + natural law” -i.e., naturalism. I did not think I would be taken to mean “matter in random motion, e.g., like a gas.” I can see how I could be understood that way, although it’s a tad literal, but okay, I concede and will clear up my meaning: the world is matter in motion PLUS the laws of nature *which are described in terms of* logic. So, yes, logic “exists” in some vague sense, and matter exists in a more robust sense.

    If you do admit the contradiction then you must also see that if we have one example of something real that is not matter in our world then perhaps you are wrong about morality not being a real thing which exists independent of humanity’s ability to construct it.

    Perhaps I am wrong, perhaps I am not. It remains your burden of proof to demonstrate that morality is objective. But starting by arguing that logic exists will not get you there. You cant infer that because some things exist that are real yet not material (which I do not dispute) that therefore this particular thing that you want to discuss (e.g., ethics) is such a thing.. There are an infinite number of possible real, nonmaterial things. That doesn’t mean we should affirm any one such thing without some other reason to do so.

    . I think that logic provides the black and white divide between right and wrong. I believe that this divide (coupled with the vast possibilities that life offers) makes every situation quantifiable as either right or wrong.

    Again, you make a category mistake. Morality is not the same thing as logic.

    To make the link between logic and morality, then, all I need is another non-material thing that exists.

    Friendship exists, therefore, logic and morality are to be equated? This is nonsense.

    That thing is called, “Authority”. …So here is another challenge to you, Richard. Does authority exist, or do you believe it is a human construct as well?

    Probably. But before I commit to an answer. I want to know what you mean. Define how you use the term “authority”.

  • 92. Joe  |  July 15, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    Cthulhu—

    And the Bible was written by superstitious semi-nomadic Semitic tribesmen too ignorant to keep their own excrement out of their food (channeling Sam Harris). And ‘The Bible said so’ is supposed to mean exactly what to me?

    I have seen this same old platitude over and over again here too.
    What else do you want Christians to say? We are coming from the standpoint that the Bible is true—-you are coming from the standpoint it is totally false. What none of you seem to be able to do is make an argument based on the premise it IS TRUE, yet expect Christians to argue based on a premise it IS FALSE. Is that fair?

  • 93. Joe  |  July 15, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    By this I am not asking you to state it is true—What I mean, can you make your same arguments allowing even for a moment that it could be true?

  • 94. John Morales  |  July 15, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    Re: Logic.

    Logic, in the sense that we generally talk about it, isn’t really one thing. Logic is a name for the general family of formal proof systems with inference rules. There are many logics, and a statement that is a valid inference (is logical) in one system may not be valid in another. [...] Given the right set of premises, you can prove almost any statement; given a choice of both logics and premises, you can prove absolutely any statement.

    Logic is a human construct.

  • 95. Joe  |  July 15, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    Richard—-

    I see where you are coming from. Just as a side—I was thinking of a couple of things the night before last, and haven’t had a chance to investigate them yet. There are many who say there are contradictions in the Bible, etc.

    Here is one of them that I was thinking about: In one place it says “nothing shall be impossible with God”. Yet in Hebrews it says “It is impossible for God to lie”. The thought came to me “Maybe it isn’t impossible that God COULD lie, but IT IS impossible that he ever WOULD lie”. Not sure if it makes sense—-kind of falls under the same question as “could God create a rock so big he couldn’t move it? LOL

    The second thing I thought of falls under the same type of question given above about morality–it is the same type of question I guess–sort of like “what came first, the chicken or the egg? Hebrews 6:4-6 says “It is impossible for those once enlightened, should the fall away, to renew them to repentance”. The question came to me “Is the verse there BECAUSE it IS impossible, or is it impossible because the VERSE has been put there, and says it is? In other words, would it have been impossible if God didn’t say it was, or is it impossible because he says it?

  • 96. Joe  |  July 15, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    Joe, was it in coming to the decision to de-convert, or the act of de-conversion itself that was said to be painful? Which did the poster mean by his statement?

    Snuggly—–

    The poster said this “You don’t know me. You have no idea the torment some of us have gone through in making the decision to deconvert”. He went on to describe the great doubts he suffered, the unanswered prayers, the great conflict of conscience, etc. He added that a member of his family had been molested by a church member.

    Now, I have never had a member of my family molested by a church member–but I have suffered great doubt, unasnswered prayers, conflict of conscience so great I almost threw in the towel. I mean, I came very close to just saying “I don’t believe any of this crap any more!!” And it was HUGE torment. So, when he said “You have no idea, etc” I had to think “Yes—I do have an idea—-I really do–I have expericenced almost exactly what you have” (minus the molestation—but if the molestation drove one over the line, one should admit that that is why—-one is angry with a God who should have protected the family member, and did not).

    Yet, I came through it all still believing. This person and a couple of others have made it sound like their case was “special”—that they deconverted because they had gone through something no other believer ever had or they would deconvert too! The reason I told the person to “stop sniveling” is because I see it as several people in a race—there are always a couple who feel like giving up. They are ALL feeling the same pain, need for air, pain in their legs, etc.—some are just better conditioned, have more stamina—or in the long run, have more faith that they will succeed.

    Sometimes a person drops out of the race. Others, who have experienced the same thing are still IN the race though. They refuse to give up. Before the person gives up it may have been a slow process—dropping behind more and more, complaining to themselves, eventually walking, and then eventually walking off the track.

    BUT, they have no right afterwards to say to the other runners who finished the race”You have no idea what I went through in coming to the decision to end the race”–because the other runners are just going to stare at them and say “We were ALL in the same race—you just DECIDED to give up—maybe not right away—-but you slowed down, began walking, and then left the track. Don’t try to make it sound like you experienced anything different than we experienced also–we went through all of the same things—-but we “decided” to finish the race and not quit. So quit your sniveling”.

  • 97. Joe  |  July 15, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    I forgot to mention. A couple of others who left the “race” said nothing of family members being molested, etc.—-they spoke only of their “crisis of faith”, doubts, unanswered prayers, etc—so trying to build the case solely on the molestation aspect would really be dishonest. Believe me, I am not saying that a molestation is not a grievious thing to endure—and my heart goes out to them for that——but many Christians have gone through far worse (murdered children etc), plus the crisis of faith and doubt, and are still Christians today. They just made the decision to keep believing, and not throw away their confidence.

  • 98. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 15, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    Ah yes, I remember that post. I agree that he might be feeling that he has suffered more than most (and in fact likely has suffered more than most, though not all). You admit yourself that you have not had a family member molested, so in fact you don’t really know what that poster went through. I will agree that others have gone through the same, though, and I’m sure some have gone through and still come out believing. The poster’s case is rare and unfortunate, though not unique.

    I think you might be generalizing this one post to the statements made by others here, however. It’s a bit of a stretch to say a “martyr complex” is common based on this. Most of the comments I see here are to the effect of “you don’t know the pain involved in giving up your faith,” not “you don’t know the pain involved in doubting your faith.”

    Of course others doubt and still end up believing. I think every rational person here will admit that. Looking at why some of us de-convert and why others stay with the faith is an interesting topic, but I don’t think anyone here will say it’s because there’s something special and unique that we experienced, that if other Christians experienced the same things they would de-convert also.

    I will say that I personally believe it’s because we are capable of rational analysis of God and aren’t willing to delude ourselves, even if that provides the more comfortable outcome. That opinion is based largely on my own experience, and looking back at why I continued to believe even in the face of doubt in the past. It wasn’t because of doubt that I stopped believing. It was because of doubt that I took a closer look at my beliefs and decided they didn’t hold up to honest scrutiny.

  • 99. Joe  |  July 15, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    Snuggly—-

    Thanks for the explanation. I will have to consider this a
    bit more.

    Thanks, Joe

  • 100. John Morales  |  July 15, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    They just made the decision to keep believing, and not throw away their confidence.

    Interesting.
    You think people can literally choose what to believe.
    And it seems you think self-worth is somehow tied to religious belief.

    I can tell you right now that’s now how I think.
    I can’t choose what to believe; my belief follows my reason and the evidence I have.
    My self-worth is tied to my self-judgement; my interactions with others provide feedback – a reality-check.

    You seem proud of your blind faith. To me, that looks foolish.

  • 101. rover  |  July 15, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    I am not afraid of de converting for fear of taking responsibility. I fear de converting for fear of truly being free to live life as though I were god. At my core I am selfish. Through the teachings of Christ I have learned to be less selfish. Logic tells me that if I am not responsible to an omniscient entity I am free to be as depraved as I want to be as long as I don’t get caught.

  • 102. John Morales  |  July 15, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    Logic tells me that if I am not responsible to an omniscient entity I am free to be as depraved as I want to be as long as I don’t get caught.

    Surely you’re not serious.

    You think no religion means no morality?

  • 103. rover  |  July 15, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    John,

    I am expressing my fears and anxieties about de converting. I fear that if I let go of God then I am without external restrain (I do not mean civil law), ie, I can do whatever I want as long a I don’t get caught. Am I the only one who has had this feeling? I really feel as though my morality will degenerate into something I won’t respect. Forgive me if this seems boring and trivial to you, but it is my struggle nonethe less.

  • 104. Obi  |  July 15, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.
    — Albert Einstein

  • 105. John Morales  |  July 15, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    Hm, sorry Rover if I seem incredulous, but I stand by what I wrote

    As Obi points out, many highly principled and moral people have not believed in a personal God.

    I think a good person will be good without religion, a bad person will be bad even if religious, and the rest of us are somewhere in between.

    Behaving well because of the threat of punishment is not the same as behaving well because one thinks it’s the right thing to do.

    I think you know that; so just extrapolate from there: if you worry about being depraved now, you’ll likely still worry about it even if you don’t fear punishment for it.

  • 106. John T.  |  July 15, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    Rover

    “fear that if I let go of God then I am without external restrain (I do not mean civil law), ie, I can do whatever I want as long a I don’t get caught.”

    If this is a problem then by all means continue with your belief in God. I think society has enough screwed up people. Keep your leash intact.

  • 107. Richard  |  July 16, 2008 at 12:15 am

    rover-
    I think many people coming out of Christianity are saddled with the awful burden that many versions of Christianity teach — namely, that there is no difference between thinking something and doing it. “If you are angry at your brother…” and all that.

    But its just not true. There is all the difference in the world between the two and I, for one, am convinced that much harm is done by trying to keep all our “bad” feelings pushed away. Because we cant; emotions dont work like that. But feeling is *not* the same as doing. The fact that we can imagine — and, at times, in our worst moments of emotional upheaval — momentarily *wish* awful things doesnt mean we will *do* them. Being sometimes angry at your brother doesnt make you depraved, it makes you human.

    I dont know you, of course, but I suspect you will find what you fear will not come to pass. You mentioned before that you have a son. I am sure you love your son like nothing else in the world. Heres my question: Do you really need a god to tell you to be good to him? Dont you want to be good to him just because of what a beautiful being he is and how passionately you care for him? Do you really have to be *told*?

    Not many people in this world *really* believe it doesnt matter what they do, so long as they dont get caught.

  • 108. Quester  |  July 16, 2008 at 1:48 am

    Rover, deconverting does not mean regarding yourself as God. It does not mean that actions no longer have consequences. For me, it wasn’t even a choice. I simply realized I no longer believed.

    If it helps, remember that if there is no God, then there was no God yesterday, either, causing you to act morally. Your actions were your own choice, and they continue to be. Nothing’s changed but your perception.

    If that doesn’t help, I recommend getting professional advice. You are struggling, and you do not have to struggle alone. Find a counsellor, a psychologist, or a psychiatrist, and explain that you fear becoming a depraved degenerate and need help. That’s what they’re there for.

  • 109. Aussie Ali  |  July 16, 2008 at 2:32 am

    Rover as christians we were taught that all morality and motivation for being good comes from God. It is a mindset that is difficult to break away from.
    Just because I stopped being a Christian doesn’t mean I suddenly underwent a personality change. I am exactly the same. I still care about how my behaviour affects others, I still want to be good to other people and be a contributing member of society. I just got rid of the baggage that caused a lot of confusion, angst and mental gymnastics. My morality is more meaningful because it actually makes sense to me.

  • 110. rover  |  July 16, 2008 at 7:21 am

    All,

    thanks for your comments. It is comforting to know that there are people who understand where I am at. I am sure that many of my fears are unfounded, yet I have many. It is like letting go of a part of me.

  • 111. John Morales  |  July 16, 2008 at 7:42 am

    Rover, you’re welcome.

    To sum up: trust in your humanity, if you must trust.

  • 112. Grant Dexter  |  July 16, 2008 at 9:24 am

    I’m going to discuss this with Joe because I don’t think I quite agree with him and because it seems my clear statements have been misunderstood.

    First of all, Joe, thanks for the support.

    Now onto attacking your position ;)

    You say that God, according to the Bible, ALWAYS HAS BEEN, IS, AND ALWAYS SHALL BE. I agree. I do not agree that we cannot grasp this. We are not finite. Eternity has been placed in our heart and we will learn to deal with it. It is a shock to our system to consider God having no beginning, but I believe this does not change our ability to comprehend, understand or trust Him. Most importantly I disagree with your following analysis. You say that morality is infinite and is PART of who God IS and not something that God “gets”. My answer to Euthypro’s Dilemma is that morality exists because of what God decrees as right and wrong, not because God follows morality. If God follows a moral code then that moral code must have a source and that moral code has an authority over God (this is the third time I have responded to this dilemma yet people are still asking me to respond).

    The challenge that Socrates levelled at the pantheon of Greek gods was valid. But his challenge was never aimed at the one true God. In fact his challenge should have shown that the only rational god or gods would be ones who were not continually arguing and fighting with each other. There is even evidence that the Greeks recognised this conclusion with their tribute to the “unknown god” that Paul preached from.

    I have no problem placing my faith in God. One must recognise that the Euthypro’s Dilemma does not show that God does not exist, it only shows that He is either not all powerful or He is not worthy of faith. But our faith is justified because God testifies of Himself (within the Godhead) that He is faithful. This does not mean that He has followed a moral code. It means that He has always kept His word.

    So The Ten Commandments are not infinite. They have not always been part of God’s moral law. What need would God have for a moral law when there was no rejection of His word?

    Do you understand?

  • 113. Grant Dexter  |  July 16, 2008 at 9:31 am

    Those who insist that logic is entirely physical use a dishonest set of assertions. First they assert that logic is a human construction and then they insist that that construct matches the properties of the universe perfectly. If our “construct” always works then that is simply evidence that logic is constrained by reality rather than by human minds.

    I believe logic is rational and meaningful because God is logical and rational. Why does an atheist believe that logic is rational and meaningful?

  • 114. Richard  |  July 16, 2008 at 9:45 am

    Grant-
    Logic is a foundational belief. It is axiomatic and self-evident. It is not “explained” as meaningful in terms of something else. Thats what foundational means. It does not “match up” to the rest of the world, it is that which we use to understand the world in the first place. As a rough analogy, it is like the lens in your eye.. It does not match up with the world, but makes you able to see everything else.

  • 115. Grant Dexter  |  July 16, 2008 at 11:04 am

    Logic is a foundational belief. It is axiomatic and self-evident. It is not “explained” as meaningful in terms of something else. Thats what foundational means.

    So you think logic is logical and rational because it is logical and rational? Way to be logical, Richard! :thumb:

    It does not “match up” to the rest of the world, it is that which we use to understand the world in the first place. As a rough analogy, it is like the lens in your eye.. It does not match up with the world, but makes you able to see everything else.

    Yet you remain devoid of any evidence for your opinion and unwilling to admit the evidence against. The fact is that our use of logic is always tested against reality. It does not change according to a person’s opinion.

    I say that our use of logic is evidence that there is rationality to the universe. You say that our use of logic means that we have logic. How is your opinion evidence that the universe is not rational?

  • 116. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 16, 2008 at 11:28 am

    But our faith is justified because God testifies of Himself (within the Godhead) that He is faithful.

    You’re saying God is faithful because he say’s he’s faithful? Just because one aspect of God says this of the other two? This begs the question in the worst of ways.

    …then they insist that that construct matches the properties of the universe perfectly.

    There you go again, putting words in our mouths. I never said it matches the properties of the universe perfectly, only that it matches it as we see it. By its own definition, logic is a method of reasoning, not some fundamental aspect of the universe; I am not asserting that it’s a human construct, I’m pointing out that it must be by its definition. We create it to fit within the universe as we see it.

    I believe logic is rational and meaningful because that’s how humanity set it up.

    The universe is rational because it is the universe. If the fundamental laws that govern everything caused every atom in the universe to change it’s location, velocity, and subatomic composition at random every second, it would seem very irrational to us here, but in such a universe that would be perfectly rational.

    You yourself have no evidence that rationality it some fundamental aspect of the universe, and you are unwilling to admit the proof, by its definition, that it is a human construct.

  • 117. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 16, 2008 at 11:30 am

    Argh, forgot the slash on the closing blockquote tag…

  • 118. Grant Dexter  |  July 16, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    You’re saying God is faithful because he say’s he’s faithful? Just because one aspect of God says this of the other two?

    Yup. That’s the way faith works. You look at the words and you match them up with the deeds and you judge for yourself if the subject is worthy of your trust. Works with people too!

    This begs the question in the worst of ways.

    I can see how you would think that. If I claimed to trust a god who simply made up rules with no accountability or moral code then you would be right. However I trust a God who has been in eternal communion within His Godhead. The three members of that Godhead testify of each other that God is worthy. I’m sorry that you do not accept the testimony of reliable witnesses, but that is what I believe and that is how I answer this dilemma.

    There you go again, putting words in our mouths. I never said it matches the properties of the universe perfectly, only that it matches it as we see it. By its own definition, logic is a method of reasoning, not some fundamental aspect of the universe; I am not asserting that it’s a human construct, I’m pointing out that it must be by its definition. We create it to fit within the universe as we see it.

    You think it is a human construct that A is never Not A? You think that does not match reality in each and every possible situation?

    I believe logic is rational and meaningful because that’s how humanity set it up.

    So, let me get this straight. The most irrational and illogical group of creatures in the universe developed a system that matches reality 100%?

    :rotfl: Good one, Snuggly!

    The universe is rational because it is the universe. If the fundamental laws that govern everything caused every atom in the universe to change it’s location, velocity, and subatomic composition at random every second, it would seem very irrational to us here, but in such a universe that would be perfectly rational.

    It seems you are forced to invent make-believe in order to describe a situation where we might be able to face an irrational universe. I wonder why that is? Perhaps it is because the situation you are trying to construct is utterly untenable and inherently irrational.

    Hmm?

    You yourself have no evidence that rationality it some fundamental aspect of the universe, and you are unwilling to admit the proof, by its definition, that it is a human construct.

    Actually, I do have evidence that logic is a trait inherent to reality. My evidence is in the fact that every person, every opinion, is held accountable to logic. As humans we are capable of making mistakes and being ignorant, but we cannot escape the fact that everything we propose can be judged according to its rationality and logic. My evidence lies in the fact that whether we disagree or not over the validity of a given argument there is always a right answer and a wrong answer. Those answers do not come from the mind of a person. My evidence for their non-human origin is the fact that they never change no matter how much people do.

    My evidence is logical. A rational God confers rationality and logic to an irrational human race.
    Your evidence seems to be that irrational and illogical humans gave themselves logic and reason.

    Of course I am unwilling to admit a human source for logic. That would be plain silly!

  • 119. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 16, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    The most irrational and illogical group of creatures in the universe developed a system that matches reality 100%?

    There it is again. Stop doing that. I didn’t say it matches reality 100%. It matches it as perfectly as it can based on what we can see. We will revise our logic if some part of it is found to conflict with reality.

    It is a human construct to reason about the fact that A cannot be not A; this is logical because that’s how the universe works. But A cannot be not A because that is how the universe works, not because that is logical.

    As for my “make-believe” it was merely a thought experiment. I’m just trying to point out that you are confusing a method of reasoning for the order of the universe.

    As for your “most irrational and illogical group of creatures in the universe” comment, I’m sorry that your opinion of humanity is so negative. We are the only creatures on Earth who are capable of rational and logical thought. If you really think humans are less rational and logical than all the other organisms on Earth, all of which are non-sapient (as far as we can tell), then there’s truly no point in discussing this further.

  • 120. Grant Dexter  |  July 16, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    You keep talking about how the universe works and then you keep insisting that our logic is constructed around the observation of that universe. I don’t see how you arrive at the bizarre conclusion that the universe is not logical, reasonable and ordered. It seems like you’ve simply assumed the truth of your conclusions in order to provide evidence for your claims.

  • 121. Grant Dexter  |  July 16, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    There it is again. Stop doing that. I didn’t say it matches reality 100%. It matches it as perfectly as it can based on what we can see. We will revise our logic if some part of it is found to conflict with reality.

    Then you do believe it is possible that one day we will find that A is Not A? Why should I discuss anything with you when you recognise no way anything we say to each other might be meaningful?

  • 122. John T.  |  July 16, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    Grant and snuggly

    You guys are hilarious. Why dont you just say to each other, youre full of shit and be done with it ;)

  • 123. Grant Dexter  |  July 16, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    He wouldn’t have any means by which to determine whether I was right or he was .. ;)

  • 124. Joe  |  July 16, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    I am expressing my fears and anxieties about de converting. I fear that if I let go of God then I am without external restrain (I do not mean civil law), ie, I can do whatever I want as long a I don’t get caught. Am I the only one who has had this feeling? I really feel as though my morality will degenerate into something I won’t respect. Forgive me if this seems boring and trivial to you, but it is my struggle nonethe less.

    Rover—

    A person who de-converts, or an atheist who has never believed in God will not become totally immoral beings unless they choose to do so. As someone mentioned, there have been some very intelligent, highly moral atheists which have existed on this planet—and with this none can argue.

    But your statement does bring up a point that I feel is very important. What about those who do respond without a moral restraint? What of the serial killer, unafraid of any future judgment, who kills indiscriminately, feeling this life is “it” and he will never face recourse for his actions. What do we make of that?

    We know that physical laws states that for every action their is an equal and positive “reaction”. Why do we feel this is not the case morally or spirtually? Can we REALLY believe that someone like Hitler can kill 6 million jews, cause torment and torture to millions of others, then shoot himself, and enter oblivion just the same as all people will?

    Do we TRULY believe that he can literally “get away with all of that without facing some sort of judgment”? Can his ACTION truly result in NO REACTION? The “Spiritualist” church believes that Hitler was merely an actor on a stage–doing what he was “meant to do”—and that one day all of this will make sense (I heard a spiritualist say this—not sure if they all hold that opinion)—that is absolutely absurd–to think someone was “meant” to be a killing monster to play a “part”.

    But how absurd is it also to think someone could do all of those absolutely grotesque and horrible things without paying for it one day—that a person who gives their whole life to help others and a person like Hitler will face the same end—-oblivion. I’m sorry—-that is neither logically nor morally acceptable to conceive. And I ask—would we really WANT THAT? Do we really want to believe there is NO GOD, and that the Hitler’s, and Stalin’s of the world were able to do whatever they wanted, causing untold suffering, and then never face a judgment for it? Will there never be a spiritual REACTION to the horrible ACTIONS of these characters?

  • 125. Quester  |  July 16, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Joe, if one man kills a million others, the equal and opposite reaction is that one million die at his hands. The consequence of a killer’s action is a corpse. It is the responsibility of we who value life to live with this knowledge and do something about it.

    I may want it to be otherwise, but that has no bearing on what is or is not.

  • 126. Obi  |  July 16, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Joe —

    Appeal to consequences. It’s a logical fallacy that I see employed all too often by people such as yourself. You state that the fact that there is nothing after death is “logically” unacceptable, and that’s simply foolish. Logic has nothing to do with that, but it certainly pertains to the logical fallacy you committed with your entire post. I think Albert puts it quite nicely.

    I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own — a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotisms.
    — Albert Einstein

    Also, I find it ironic that you complain that without an afterlife, people would not be forced to pay for their wrongdoings when the very foundation of your faith rests on the belief that Jesus came to take that responsibility away from you. Thus, the Christian belief system states that Hitler (or anyone) could kill millions and millions of people, turn around and fully accept Christ, and be saved and absolved of all responsibility for sins. However, someone like Gandhi who never accepted Christ but dedicated his life to helping people would be sent to hell simply for that one belief (or lack thereof). Your argument falls flat any way you look at it.

  • 127. Joe  |  July 16, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    Grant—-

    I understand your stand. However, Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life”. Jesus is clearly stating that TRUTH is not a “group of commands”, but a PERSON–himself (I say this from a Christian perspective, as I know many here immediately will jump all over this—so I already know YOUR STANCE–I am addressing Grant on his stance).

    And if TRUTH is a person, and Jesus is “the express Image of the Father”, then this truth is ETERNAL. It is part of God himself—-not just a group of morals he is “commanding”. God gave the 10 commandments, laws which come from the very heart and parcel of his being, KNOWING we could not keep them. Why? They are divine and infinite, and we are finite and fallen beings.

    He therefore sent Jesus to “fulfill the law”—Jesus literally “became a curse for us”, and thus fulfilled the divine law of retribution written on the very heart of God, to allow us to be free from the law of sin and death.

    You may not agree—I understand. It goes back to the question “did God give the commandments because they are moral, or are they moral because God gave them?” I believe the answer is both.

  • 128. BigHouse  |  July 16, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    Good post, Obi, I was formulating a similar retort in my mind before I read yours..

  • 129. Joe  |  July 16, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    Obi—

    The reality is that Hitler shot himself, and by his writings showed he was still fully committed to his plan. He died, having never paid or receiving anything for all of the pain and suffering he had caused. Gandhi died also—-I have no idea who Gandhi was at heart and leave his judgment to God. IF a Gandhi does go to some sort of hell, it will not be close to the sort of hell a Hitler will face. The Bible speaks of those who will suffer “many stripes” and those who will suffer less. But how do I know where Gandhi will spend eternity? Does my being a Christian, or deciding what I believe rest on something that “might” or “might not” be, or what happens to a leader whose heart I know nothing about?

    So, Obi, yes, theoretically, should a Hitler “repent” in all sincerity for killing 6 million jews, perhaps he could be forgiven—but the fact is, I’ve never seen that happen. I still ask the question though—-can you REALLY believe in your heart of hearts that a vicious and cruel person, who inflicted untold misery onto millions of people will NEVER FACE the consequences for his actions? Perhaps you can in your strained logic, where you cannot separate physical life with a moral and spiritual plane. Einstein may be a brilliant mathematician and scientist—-but you can be extremely intelligent and still greatly lack wisdom.

  • 130. BigHouse  |  July 16, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    Joe, murders accept the Lord all the time while on death row or what have you. Is it your contention that they don’t go to the same heaven what you do?

    And similarly, that there are ‘different levels of hell’? Could you cite a verse? That’s news to me.

    The fact that Ghandi can go to hell while a last minute repentant murderer goes to heaven strikes me as ‘strained’ logic, to use your terminology.

  • 131. Obi  |  July 16, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    Joe —

    My previous post should still suffice to answer all of your questions. Regardless, I find that anyone who holds onto the doctrine of hell as you do should really think about what it is that they believe. First of all, what is the purpose of punishment? Is it not to teach a lesson? You previously state that a wrongdoer should be punished in equal measure to his/her actions. I’ve already spoken regarding how this is foolish for a Christian to say, but I will take it a step further. Is it really just that God should send a human who lived a finite number of years and committed a finite number of sins to an eternity of infinite punishment? What does this teach them? Not only this, but once one enters hell, one can never get out in the Christian belief system. Even if one has “served their time” and is truly sorry and in full repentance for their actions, for some reason your “just” God will not take heed of their cries, as in the case of the rich man described in the NT.

    This is simply more proof that the Christian God simply cannot exist. You proclaim justice and equal praise/punishment for actions, yet you believe in a God who sends the upstanding people of the world to hell and absolves murderers of their sins all on the basis of belief in him. This is tantamount to a judge in a courtroom prosecuting people upon the basis of whether or not they have a personal relationship with his son. A criminal with blood all over his hands walks in and can be fully pardoned because he knew the judge’s son. No one on Earth would ever call that justice, yet you proclaim that such a God exists and that he is indeed just.

    The question is not whether I can believe in my “heart of hearts” that such a person would ever receive punishment for their actions, but it is why you believe that such a person can be absolved of all of their wrongdoings by simply believing in a particular god. That takes away any basis for doing good at all in this world, if you can do as you like and then simply call in Christ to clean your mess up for you and buy a free ticket into heaven.

  • 132. John T.  |  July 16, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    Obi

    Very well put!

    Well Joe, Im eagerly waiting for the spin you will put on this one.

  • 133. Joe  |  July 16, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Obi/BigHouse—-

    You are both conveniently ignoring my question. I asked “In your heart of hearts do you really believe that a Hitler can simply enter eternity not facing any judgment at all for his actions?”

    You are going into dogma about hell, and repentance of killers, etc., etc. I am asking you a very easy question—–in your heart of hearts do you really feel Hitler could live on this planet, cause untold grief, and then face NO REACTION for his ACTIONS? Will his life simply end and enter nothingness after all of that? Do you REALLY believe that?

    That is my question—-not whether there is a hell or a heaven, or murderers repenting, or Gandhi, etc. Please just answer the question.

  • 134. BigHouse  |  July 16, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Joe, yes I really think that that is what happens when you die. I could be wrong of course, but that’s what I think.

  • 135. Obi  |  July 16, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    Joe —

    I don’t believe that, I know that. Hitler faces no punishment after death because there is no “after death”. That’s the plain and simple answer to your question. It’s a hard pill to swallow knowing that this life is all you get, so live the best one you can while helping your fellow humans around you.

    Also, I understand that that may be a crushing blow to some people such as yourself who would gleefully watch as people such as Hitler were lowered into hell for all eternity as “punishment” for their sins, but you’ll have to realize that that simply isn’t the case. That quote by Albert is so wonderfully fitting, that you must excuse me for my posting it again.

    I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own — a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotisms.
    — Albert Einstein

    It demands quite a bit of a person’s will for them to realize that some will go “unpunished”, but that’s simply too bad, to be honest. WIshing that it was not so will change nothing, and believing that it is not so is the definition of denial. As I stated previously, live your life seeking to benefit your fellow human. If there is a God, he will judge you accordingly and you will enter heaven, or what have you. If there isn’t, your deeds will benefit the human species — no matter how local your efforts — and your body will return to the Earth in a “circle of life”. It’s a win-win situation either way you look at it. Life is truly beautiful, if you look at it as so.

  • 136. BigHouse  |  July 16, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    Kenobi would be proud of you Obi :-) Well said.

  • 137. John T.  |  July 16, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    Obi

    “It demands quite a bit of a person’s will for them to realize that some will go “unpunished”, but that’s simply too bad, to be honest”

    Geez obi, that almost sounds like a Fundamenalist who thinks he knows what happens to everyone at the end of our lives.

    I actually believe in a continuation of existence in some form or another, and I believe that consequence from our actions continues right along with it. You dont need religion to believe that life has purpose “and” a never ending quality to it.

  • 138. Obi  |  July 16, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    John T. —

    If it did have such a fundamentalist ring to it, I can assure you that it wasn’t intentional. I’m simply tired of this “us and them” mentality that I see perpetuated in the vast majority of religions that I’ve studied. Humans are too divisive and seem to gleefully condemn those who don’t believe what they do to some type of gruesome after-death hell, when they should really be concerned with being the “best they can be” now. Any just God hovering over us will mainly take our actions into account when judging us, and not our thoughts and beliefs.

    The facts are that we don’t have a clue about what “lies beyond”, and all evidence points to there being nothing “beyond”, so we should live life now, and live life well.

    In my opinion.

  • 139. Joe  |  July 16, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    Also, I understand that that may be a crushing blow to some people such as yourself who would gleefully watch as people such as Hitler were lowered into hell for all eternity as “punishment” for their sins.

    Obi—-

    See—you really reveal who you think Christians are with this remark—what makes you think I would “gleefully watch”? That is truly a very unfair thing to say. But what you appear to be saying when you say that Hitler hurt, tortured and killed 6 million Jews, and will NEVER face anything for it is even worse Obi—you are saying “Oh well! It’s a tough pill to swallow, but that’s the way it is”.

    As horrible as hell may seem to be, at least there is accountabilty. Everything in this life has cause and effect. If you break the law, you pay the consequences—it is in our very nature to think so. We can argue about heaven and hell and God’s fairness or unfairness, but as human beings we KNOW DEEP DOWN INSIDE that there HAS TO BE recompense for a life lived as Hitler lived. We know it intuitively. I don’t want to “gleefully watch” Hitler frying in hell—I myself do not understand hell, nor will I try to even define it.

    But, to me, it is worse to think that Hitler could do all that he did, and hurt and kill myriads of people, and never face anything for it—he will face the same oblivion as Grandma Wilson will, who believed in God, never hurt a fly, and gave to others all of her life. If you can believe that, then you are the one “gleefully watching” thousands of people getting away with crimes they will maybe never pay for—you are looking at a killer who gets away with killing people and dies and you saying “Oh well, he’s dead now, that’s it”.

    Obi—you can say that you believe that’s it. You can say that you think a Hitler just dies, and that’s it. But again, in your heart of hearts—the deepest morality of your being—don’t you WANT a Hitler to have to face what he has done? Can you REALLY AND TRULY believe he will not?

  • 140. John T.  |  July 16, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    Joe

    don’t you WANT a Hitler to have to face what he has done?

    I guess you missed the main point of Christianity. I think it was something along the lines of Forgiveness……..lmao.

    You know something Joe, im sure you have whatever any other sociopath or psychopath has in them. You just werent germinated in the same enviroment. Before you sleep tonight you should that your god that you wont be so harshly judged for all your trangressions, post and present and future.

  • 141. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 16, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    You keep talking about how the universe works and then you keep insisting that our logic is constructed around the observation of that universe. I don’t see how you arrive at the bizarre conclusion that the universe is not logical, reasonable and ordered.

    Putting words in my mouth again. I have quite clearly stated that the universe is ordered. It is not reasonable or logical, however. Reason and logic are the domain of the mind. You are combining concepts that are not the same.

    The universe is ordered, as a result of the properties of the matter and energy that make it up. We construct logic around that observation of an ordered universe. I’ll keep saying it: logic, by its definition, is a method of reasoning, not a property of the universe as you are trying to make it out to be. You are confusing logic for the order of the universe.

    Then you do believe it is possible that one day we will find that A is Not A?

    Only as possible as the fundamental laws of the universe changing. But we do revise our logic based on new information about the universe. Look at the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. It doesn’t make much sense, and seems rather illogical. Before we began to understand quantum physics, it would have been judged an absurd and illogical concept. But we learned about quantum physics, and revised our logic to include it.

    Anyway, it’s becoming increasingly clear that you already have the idea of “non-physical things” existing in the universe, and the very idea that this might not be true is anathema to you. It’s obvious that no one here thinks the universe is infused with some notion of morality (a fairly weak Christian platitude that I’m sure everyone here at least heard, if not believed, as Christians), whether they agree with my arguments on logic or not, so this whole discussion is rather pointless. Can we just let this discussion die?

  • 142. Obi  |  July 16, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    Joe —

    This “shouting match” is meaningless and can go on forever. What’s said has been said, and I stick firmly to what I told you before. You can toss around your appeals to emotion and tell me to search in my “heart of hearts” all you want, but that doesn’t change reality. You speak of all of this punishment, reward, retribution, and responsibility while continuously forgetting that Christianity is a religion founded firmly on the belief that you can escape responsibility by believing in Christ. Your argument is self-defeating.

    Good day mate, and much love.

  • 143. Joe  |  July 16, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    Let me give you one more “for instance”. 31 people were living very innocent lives, filled with hopes and dreams. One of them was a holocaust survivor—he had already lived through Hitler’s nightmare. He became a teacher. Others were Christians, maybe a couple of atheists (who knows), etc. but they were all filled with dreams and aspirations in life.

    Then a dude, due to his deep hatred, and an evil intent to destroy everyone else because of the way he felt about himself, takes a couple of guns, goes into a Virginia Tech building and kills them all–then he shoots himself.

    I have to ask again, do you REALLY BELIEVE in your heart of hearts—-I’m talking what makes you a person–not the “arguments” you use, or some rules you may live by, but in your very core of a person—do you REALLY BELIEVE that this person, along with all of the good people he took with him, will just enter oblivion and cease to exist? The gunman will never be judged or pay for his evil choices, and the lives he took just end, for no apparent reason at all?

    I’m talking just as a person now—not a Christian, or any other faith—-just a person. Could I ever believe such a thing? Einstein may be very intelligent, but he was not using WISDOM–wisdom is a very different thing. An Einstein—a very intelligent person—can make a statement—but when held up to Wisdom’s light, can appear utterly foolish. Some of the wisest people in the world are not very intelligent. Some people in America’s past, made to labor as animals, had no schooling, but were some of the wisest people around, due to their great suffering and experience. Wisdom tells us that yes—-that gunman will face a judgment—-there will be a reaction to his action—-and we know this in our heart of hearts.

  • 144. Joe  |  July 16, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    This “shouting match” is meaningless and can go on forever

    Obi—-

    What do you mean? I am not shouting in any way or form. I am asking simple questions. Why do you always resort to saying things like that when the question is not based solely in logic. I am not shouting at all. And it isn’t meaningless Obi—-I am not asking this as a Christian, but as a Person—I am not using Bible verses, talking about Christianity—–I am asking a simple moral question that ANYONE can ask themselves deep within their own hearts. Can you do that? Just, as a person, look into your own heart and ask yourself what you truly morally believe—-not based on Christianity or religion—-but based on WHO YOU ARE inside. That’s all I’m asking.

  • 145. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 16, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    This is the second thread to be Godwinned on this blog in one day. Rather depressing.

    Do I want evil people to be punished? Of course. Do I intuitively know that they will be punished? Not at all. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about life, it’s that it isn’t fair. Evil people go unpunished, good people go unrewarded. That’s the way it is in life, and my desires for justice don’t mean that it must therefore happen in death. I fully believe, in my “heart of hearts” that when anyone dies, they cease to be, end of story.

    And your argument falls apart in Christianity, too. If an incredibly evil, heinous person repents and accepts Christ before they die, they get to go to Heaven and effectively “get away with” all their heinous acts.

  • 146. Joe  |  July 16, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    You know something Joe, im sure you have whatever any other sociopath or psychopath has in them. You just werent germinated in the same enviroment.

    This is absolutely amazing. I have asked one simple question, not based on the Bible, not quoting scriptures, or forcing morals—and I am being told I am shouting, and njow I am a psychopath.

    I really have to ask what is up with you people? I have seen you absolutely attack anyone who does not hold your views, or who asks a question you don’t seem to like. I really don’t get it at all. Look again at my question. I asked it sincerely and truly—-I said “as a person”—not per religion—–as a person answer the question—and you know what? You won’t. Only BigHouse was honest enough to just answer the question truthfully. But you won’t—it’s not that you can’t—-you just won’t. And you mock anyone who does not align with your philosophy. That is truly an amazing thing to me. I saw Grant going through the same thing with you earlier. What exactly is your problem?

  • 147. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 16, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    I don’t think he was calling you a psychopath, Joe, just saying that if you had been raised in exactly the same way as some psychopaths that you could have been one.

    Of course, there’s evidence that psychopathy is genetic, not environmental, but that’s not a discussion for here. The basic idea that you could have become a horrible person if raised in the right (wrong?) environment is the point, and it still stands.

    He wasn’t attacking you, just making a point.

    As for the shouting match, I think he just meant the back-and-forth discussion, going over the same points repeatedly without making progress, as if in a shouting match.

    No one is accusing you of shouting or being a psychopath, at least as far as I can tell. I guess now we know how you feel when you say we take things you say out of context :P

  • 148. notcalvin  |  July 16, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Joe,

    In regards to fairness:
    Is it fair that God predestines who will go to hell and who will go to heaven before they were even born? Is it fair that men are born dead in their sins and trespasses and cannot by their very nature except Christ, yet they are held accountable for accepting him? Is it fair that millions will spend eternity in hell simply because God chose not to choose them?

  • 149. Joe  |  July 16, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    You can toss around your appeals to emotion and tell me to search in my “heart of hearts” all you want

    Obi—

    Are you truly that blind and heartless? I am not “appealing to emotion”–I am asking a valid question. I truly, truly am.

    Snuggly—

    THANK YOU FOR YOUR ANSWER. THAT WAS ALL I WAS ASKING FOR. Obi and John T. (and yourself at times to) are resorting to mockery, attacks, etc. instead of just answering a simple question. What it looks like to me is that the question scares them or something—–it is something they DON’T want to answer because it makes them think a bit more than they want to. They are so used to failling back on to their “set” answers based in blank logic—that they really can’t think for themselves when it comes to a question that doesn’t have a “pat” answer for them.

    Today, I came in here, calm as can be, asked one question “In your heart of hearts do you think Hitler will NOT pay for his actions?” and instead of just getting answers, I received ridicule, mocking (being called a psychopath) and endless arguments AROUND the question. And why? It doesn’t fall into line of what you want to talk about, or how you think. Who does that sound like? The very fundamentalists you often say are so closed-minded. Fine—your little “clique” is safe. I am just flabberghasted by this—–and also it makes me want to laugh my head off at the same time. :>)

  • 150. john t.  |  July 16, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    Thanks snuggly

    Thats right Joe, I was just stating a point that had we been raised the way Hitler was, who knows what we would have done. I heard it said once that, “If I had the power of a nation in my hands, I am not so sure I would like to see what I am capable of.”

    I know when my enemies persecuted me in my youth, I would have definately done some pretty nasty things to them had I had the power of a Nation behind me.

  • 151. Joe  |  July 16, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    You know something Joe, im sure you have whatever any other sociopath or psychopath has in them.

    Snuggly—

    I suggest you read that sentence again. What if I said “Snuggly, I’m sure you have whatever any other retard or idiot has in them”.

    Come on—-you can see where he is coming from. And it is tossed at me for one simple question. Unbelievable.

  • 152. Joe  |  July 16, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    In regards to fairness:
    Is it fair that God predestines who will go to hell and who will go to heaven before they were even born? Is it fair that men are born dead in their sins and trespasses and cannot by their very nature except Christ, yet they are held accountable for accepting him? Is it fair that millions will spend eternity in hell simply because God chose not to choose them?

    NotCalvin—-

    I don’t believe what you state above to be true. That is a matter of dogma. I believe John 3:16 says it all—“whosoever”–God did not create anyone to be lost forever.

    Has the Gospel been presented to you NotCalvin? Have you had an OPPORTUNITY to hear it and receive it? Yes—you have. Before one accuses God of being unfair, look at one’s own situation. You are freely able TODAY to receive the free gift of God of eternal life—it is being offered to you and “whosoever” will receive it. Will you reject it because of a dogma no one really understands? will you reject it because one group of people teach predestination of the elect and the reprobates? I believe that teaching to be false. But it doesn’t matter—-what is important is that I have been offered eternal life—I have been given the chance—just like you have. What will you do with it is the real question.

  • 153. john t.  |  July 16, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    Joe

    My comment is a reference to the duality of our natures. You make your judgements of Hitler based on your morality, which I am to assume was derived from a completely different social enviroment to his. Remember the saying “Walk a mile in a another persons shoes”

  • 154. Joe  |  July 16, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    John T.—

    I apologize if I misinterpreted your statement. I am kind of a psychopath when I actually think about it. LOL!!

    –Joe

  • 155. john t.  |  July 16, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    Snuggly

    Hmmmmmm can genetics be altered due to our enviroment…….now theres an interesting proposition.

  • 156. john t.  |  July 16, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    Joe

    Thanks for the courtesy of apologizing, but for the most part I dont get offended by words on a screen. Now, in person may be another thing ;)

  • 157. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 16, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    Obi and John T. (and yourself at times to) are resorting to mockery, attacks, etc.

    I assume “yourself at times” refers to me. I try not to resort to mockery and attacks, but I’m only human. I do recall making a comment about something you said regarding technology making me laugh, and I admit I said that in a mocking attitude, for which I apologize. Technology is something I’m rather passionate about, so I tend to lose my self-control a little easier when it’s involved, though that certainly doesn’t excuse the behavior.

    If there’s any other times I’ve come across as mocking or attacking you, I apologize. I really hate it when I see that coming from others, and doubly so when I realize it comes from myself.

  • 158. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 16, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Hmmmmmm can genetics be altered due to our enviroment…….now theres an interesting proposition.

    I would say most definitely, if environment includes factors such as radiation, viruses and other things that are known to disrupt DNA replication or harm DNA directly.

    Can our DNA change based on how we are raised? I’m pretty sure I’ve read that some genes will only express themselves in the right environment, so I think it’s entirely possible that there are genes that only express themselves if the person is in a certain emotional/mental environment (possible, but I don’t think there’s any actual evidence for this, it’s more an interesting thought than anything).

    It seems like the whole nurture vs. nature debate is much blurrier than we we usually expect it to be.

  • 159. john t.  |  July 16, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    “It seems like the whole nurture vs. nature debate is much blurrier than we we usually expect it to be.”

    Almost as blurry as is there a God or not? lmao. ;)

  • 160. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 16, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Hey now, at least we have empirical evidence that the environment can influence gene expression. :P

  • 161. john t.  |  July 16, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    Snuggly

    If you dont mind my asking. are you male or female? and around what age. im 44

  • 162. societyvs  |  July 16, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    I don’t get it – is Joe trying to convert the converted? Or did he come for the de-converted who by all means have at least converted once (and are sure to be on steady ground by most Christian theologies anyways)?

    I don’t get it Joe…the sign says ‘de-converts’ right on the front of the webpage – and they have decided to back away from their original conversion…but that does not nullify the fact they did convert once.

    I think it’s a waste of time to try convert people that have already done it.

  • 163. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 16, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    John T.

    23-year-old male

  • 164. Joe  |  July 16, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    societyvs—

    I’m not sure what you mean. Unless you are referring to my response to this question:

    In regards to fairness:
    Is it fair that God predestines who will go to hell and who will go to heaven before they were even born? Is it fair that men are born dead in their sins and trespasses and cannot by their very nature except Christ, yet they are held accountable for accepting him? Is it fair that millions will spend eternity in hell simply because God chose not to choose them?

    I simply told NotCalvin that I do not believe in this premise. Society—he/she brought it up, not me. If you notice each sentence ends with a question mark and is asking about God and Christ. How can I answer this question without talking about the same faith and doctrine the person is referring to? I did ask if they had an opportunity to hear the Gospel simply because they are saying millions will spend eternity in hell—and I am stating by this to show that if anyone wants to go there they can—-but everyone is being given an opportunity to accept a different path.

    I am fully aware that the people here are de-cons—-but sometimes they ask questions based on the Bible and faith that can really be answered using only the same.

    Unless you are referring to another post—-but my other posts today had nothing to do with Christianity—they had to do with what a “person” really beleived inside.

    Can you be more specific?

    Thanks, Joe

  • 165. Griffin  |  July 16, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    Joe:

    “[...]Then a dude, due to his deep hatred, and an evil intent to destroy everyone else because of the way he felt about himself, takes a couple of guns, goes into a Virginia Tech building and kills them all–then he shoots himself.

    I have to ask again, do you REALLY BELIEVE in your heart of hearts—-I’m talking what makes you a person–not the “arguments” you use, or some rules you may live by, but in your very core of a person—do you REALLY BELIEVE that this person, along with all of the good people he took with him, will just enter oblivion and cease to exist? The gunman will never be judged or pay for his evil choices, and the lives he took just end, for no apparent reason at all?”

    Yes. They all well just enter oblivion and cease to exist.

    In fact, the ‘entering oblivion’ thing is probably extraneous – it’s really just ceasing to exist.

    Why do you find that so problematic?

  • 166. Joe  |  July 16, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    don’t you WANT a Hitler to have to face what he has done?

    I guess you missed the main point of Christianity. I think it was something along the lines of Forgiveness……..lmao.

    John T.—

    Listen—I’ll let this subject drop—-but this comment above (though I know it is made tongue in cheek) I find very interesting. Are you referring that Christians should forgive Hitler for what he did? When I ask “Don’t you WANT Hitler to face what he has done?” this is no question for an “lmao”.

    You are thinking of Hitler, and not remembering the 6 million people who died at his hands. I am not talking about “gleefully watching” (as Obi put it) Hitler go to hell. I am talking about judgment concerning 6 million Jews, and several million others who died because of his leadership and teaching. Don’t you WANT Hitler to be judged for those crimes? Don’t you WANT to see the man brought to justice, and tried who killed ALL of those people? That is my question. I have not “missed the point of Christianity—I was asking a very real question.

    A person has had a child murdered. What if they were told–“sorry, were not looking for the man who did it—that’s that and it’s all over”. Would you accept that? Then how can one ACCEPT that death itself will end JUSTICE deserved? How can one ACCEPT that Hitler can kill all of those people and never face a REACTION to his ACTIONS?

    That was my question—–just from the perspective of a decent human being—not from a Christian perspective, or a religious one—-just from a Moral Absolute perspective. I won’t address this any more unless you choose to do so—I just wanted to make it clear as to where I was coming from.

  • 167. Griffin  |  July 16, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    Joe:

    “Today, I came in here, calm as can be, asked one question “In your heart of hearts do you think Hitler will NOT pay for his actions?” and instead of just getting answers, I received ridicule, mocking (being called a psychopath) and endless arguments AROUND the question.”

    I think that Obi and Snuggly assumed that you would realize that their answer to that question would be “yes.” Since they thought that you already knew the answer that they would give, they simply tried to examine what point you were trying to make by asking a question to which you already knew the answer.

  • 168. Joe  |  July 16, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Yes. They all well just enter oblivion and cease to exist.

    In fact, the ‘entering oblivion’ thing is probably extraneous – it’s really just ceasing to exist.

    Why do you find that so problematic?

    Griffin—

    Are you really examing what I asked you? Can you so easily say “why do you find that problematic?” when we are talking about the killing of 31 innocent people by an evil, sadistic person?? YES—-I FIND THAT PROBLEMATIC. People are not problematic—–they are REAL LIVES that were ended in an unfair and vaslty horrible way. And you are saying that the killer and them will just cease to exist, and you find NO PROBLEM WITH THAT????

    That is why I was asking if you look into you very HEART OF HEARTS—-do you really believe that something like that can happen——with no law of REACTION towards the ACTION that caused so much grief and unfairness? Just as a person—-a real human being—can you really and truly accept that all of them dying without an accounting is truly reality??

    I just cannot see that—–I am no talking in a Christian perspective—I just mean as a human being I cannot truly believe that is the case. To every action, there is an equal and positive reaction—–someone said the “reaction” was corpses—that is a terrible thing to say. No—the reaction would be a reply to the action—and I say there has to be one—I reall believe that.

  • 169. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 16, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    …don’t you WANT a Hitler…

    Every time I see that question quoted, I see this single snip before I see anything else. I can’t stop laughing at the image of a man seriously asking me, “don’t you want a Hitler?”

  • 170. Joe  |  July 16, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    I think that Obi and Snuggly assumed that you would realize that their answer to that question would be “yes.”

    Griffin—

    Snufffly yes, Obi never. I have never seen him even come close to agreeing with someone. LOL LOL

  • 171. Joe  |  July 16, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Griffin—

    Meant “Snuggly”—I didn’t mean necessarily “agreement”, but a willingness to see both sides. Obi—never.

  • 172. ubi dubium  |  July 16, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    …Then a dude, due to his deep hatred, and an evil intent to destroy everyone else because of the way he felt about himself, takes a couple of guns…..

    No, that’s not right – …then a dude who suffered from a chemical imbalance resulting in severe depression, who was off his medication, and whose parents had not been alerted of this fact because of Virginia privacy laws…

    Cho wasn’t evil. He was mentally ill. He didn’t choose to be that way.

    …I have to ask again, do you REALLY BELIEVE in your heart of hearts—-I’m talking what makes you a person–not the “arguments” you use, or some rules you may live by, but in your very core of a person—do you REALLY BELIEVE that this person, along with all of the good people he took with him, will just enter oblivion and cease to exist?

    Yes, yes I do. He’s not in hell. They’re not in heaven. They’re just gone. The only real hell is what the parents of those kids are going through now. Especially for the Cho’s, who might have been able to prevent the whole tragedy if anyone had been allowed to tell them their son was off his meds. (I live near several of the victims families, so this is a touchy subject for me!)

  • 173. Joe  |  July 16, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    Every time I see that question quoted, I see this single snip before I see anything else. I can’t stop laughing at the image of a man seriously asking me, “don’t you want a Hitler?”

    Wow–

    I am really saddened by the “lmao’s”, “Do you find that problematic” and now “Don’t you want a Hitler”(laughing) when I am talking about the deaths of millions of people, and the judgment or rectifying of such an event. I think I am facing a group of truly desensitized people. Your “logic” and “pat answers” have deadened any true feelings you might have when being asked the question I have posed. I am truly amazed and saddened. I mention 31 people being gunned down by an evil person, and will they all just cease to exist without any judgment concerning them? And I am met with “Yes—do you find that problematic?”

    Who are you people??

  • 174. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 16, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    Whoa, Joe, I didn’t mean I think it’s funny to have another Hitler in the world. I’m thinking more about a man trying to sell me my own personal Hitler. Your own man with a funny mustache and crazy ideas that you can take for walkies and the like. I’m laughing about this the way I life when I see that Banjo Hitler on YTMND, or Girl Hitler in the Venture Bros. cartoon. I most definitely do not find the idea of a murderous megalomaniac funny. The juxtaposition of something horrible with something innocuous or pleasant, I guess.

  • 175. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 16, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    I’m laughing about this the way I life…

    Way I laugh. Laugh not life…

  • 176. Griffin  |  July 16, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    Joe:

    “Are you really examing what I asked you? Can you so easily say “why do you find that problematic?” when we are talking about the killing of 31 innocent people by an evil, sadistic person?? YES—-I FIND THAT PROBLEMATIC. People are not problematic—–they are REAL LIVES that were ended in an unfair and vaslty horrible way. And you are saying that the killer and them will just cease to exist, and you find NO PROBLEM WITH THAT????”


    Of course I find somebody killing 31 people problematic. In fact, I find a person cheating somebody else out of 31 dollars problematic too. And yes, people lead real lives that sometimes are cruelly cut short. (I find that tragic.) But emotional desire for justice on behalf of these people does nothing to dissuade my (logical) position that once you’re dead, you’re dead. If some guy owed me money and was paying me with the money he earned playing the trumpet died, I’d be upset that he would no longer be able to settle his debt but that wouldn’t prove to me that there is an after life.

    “That is why I was asking if you look into you very HEART OF HEARTS—-do you really believe that something like that can happen——with no law of REACTION towards the ACTION that caused so much grief and unfairness? Just as a person—-a real human being—can you really and truly accept that all of them dying without an accounting is truly reality??”


    First, laws of action and reaction are found in physics, not in the world of emotions. (I learned this the hard way in middle school.) Additionally, my heart of hearts pumps blood to my brain which tells me that human emotions don’t trump logic.

    “I just cannot see that—–I am no talking in a Christian perspective—I just mean as a human being I cannot truly believe that is the case. To every action, there is an equal and positive reaction—–someone said the “reaction” was corpses—that is a terrible thing to say. No—the reaction would be a reply to the action—and I say there has to be one—I reall believe that.”

    It IS a terrible thing to say. It’s also the simple fact. You’re position is that “the reaction would be a reply to the action-and I say there has to be on.” To which I ask, why?

  • 177. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 16, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    I mention 31 people being gunned down by an evil person, and will they all just cease to exist without any judgment concerning them? And I am met with “Yes—do you find that problematic?”

    What did you expect, Joe? I’m sure everyone would want these evil people to be judged, but life is cold and cruel, nothing is fair and things rarely go exactly how we want. Why should we expect death to be any different?

    Horrible things happen, and none of us feel nothing when they do. But there’s nothing wrong with accepting reality, accepting that some people will escape judgment until they die and then that’s the end of it. There’s nothing wrong with realizing that life is cold and unfeeling and cruel. It’s when we ourselves become that way that it’s a problem.

  • 178. john t.  |  July 16, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    Ubi

    “Cho wasn’t evil. He was mentally ill. He didn’t choose to be that way”

    Ubi, Im going to have to disagree with you on this one. You dont know whether he chose it or not. As far as him being Evil, well I guess you would have to define what you consider Evil. And by the way, he did decide to stop taking his medication. There needs to be some accountability for our actions. Its not all just genetics you know.

  • 179. john t.  |  July 16, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    Joe

    Have you ever contemplated the fact that people who do shitty things generally live really, really shitty lives. Hitler lived with paranoia, anger, resentment and lack of love for his few short years. Do you not consider that maybe he was getting some of that action/reaction you talked about?

  • 180. BigHouse  |  July 16, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    Joe reminds me of Demi Moore in in the courtroom scene of “A Few Good Men” when he keeps retorting with “NO, really look in your HEART of HEARTS and answer my question…

    Demi: I object!
    Judge: Objection overruled.
    Demi; No, I STRENUOUSLY object!
    Judge: Still, OVERRULED.

    It just goes to show that he’s not actually interested in someone else’s thoughts on the matter, he just thinks there’s a correct answer that is naturally elicited when he words his questions a ‘special’ way…

  • 181. john t.  |  July 16, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    Joe

    Something just dawned on me. I assume you are a Christian, and if you are, shouldnt you be more concerned with the notion that all those Jews hitler killed didnt believe in Jesus Christ as their personal saviour. In that scenario they now get to be tortured in Hell for all eternity. Dont you think that is just a little “whacked”

  • 182. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 16, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    Joe:

    To every action, there is an equal and positive reaction

    You mean oppposite, not positive, right? I’ll go out on a limb here and assume you made the same mistake I did when I typed “life” instead of “laugh” previously.

  • 183. Joe  |  July 16, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    Whoa, Joe, I didn’t mean I think it’s funny to have another Hitler in the world. I’m thinking more about a man trying to sell me my own personal Hitler.

    Snuggly–

    Sorry—I guess I was a bit too emotional about this. And Yes—“opposite” you’re right.

    John T.—

    I believe in Hell. But I do not understand it. The Bible says Hell was created for “the Devil and his Angels”—not for man. This basically refutes those who teach some extreme Calvinism that God created some for heaven, and created others for hell. The Lake of Fire was not created for man according to the Bible. God has not “predestinated” anyone to Hell–and I do not believe the Bible teaches that at all.

    But I’ll tell you—-I don’t think any fiery hell awaited those who died in the Holocaust.(except those who willingly chose evil–like some of the SS guards). I know this won’ t fall into line with “Scripture”. But, you see, I believe the word “hell” covers a large area on interpretation. In Luke it speaks of those who “knew their master’s will AND DID IT NOT–and it says they “receive many stripes”. Then it mentions those who didn’t know his will, AND DID IT NOT and they received “few stripes”. Of course, this is subject to interpretation, but it couild infer that there may be a hell for some, but their suffering will be small. Whereas others—who knew the way of truth and rejected it, will “receive many stripes”—they literally put themselves in a place there was no way they needed to go—-they simply rejected it.

    I am being “unorthodox” I know—–but I do not understand hell, and can’t even attempt to do so. Only God knows what happened to the souls of the Jews from the Holocaust—but I will say this–the Psalms say God “merciful onto ALL THOSE who call upon him”—-and you can be SURE that the Jews were praying daily while in those camps.

  • 184. ubi dubium  |  July 16, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    Johnt:

    Ubi, Im going to have to disagree with you on this one. You dont know whether he chose it or not.

    Well, being that I live not far from Cho’s parents, the news in my area had a rather thorough account of his past. He had a severe mood disorder, and had been under treatment for it for quite awhile. Nobody chooses to be mentally ill. If you’d had to live with somebody like that, you’d know why.

    Someone very near and dear to me has something very similar. She didn’t choose to have it, she was born that way. It only takes forgetting to take her medication for a day or two for the symptoms to return. And unfortunatly, among the symptoms is an unwillingness to admit to needing medication, or to seek any help. The disorder knocks out that ability. It also knocks out the ability to cope with stress, or at its most severe, to experience any positive emotions at all. All that’s left are anger and violence. On her medication, though, she’s a wonderful creative person, and a joy to be with.

    Some people are indeed “evil” (Hitler and Stalin). Some people are raised in bad situations that warp their perception of what evil is (teenage suicide bombers). But some people do evil things because their brain is sick. It’s not their fault. Life (not god) dealt them a lousy hand.

    I’m sorry, I can’t believe in any god that would send this kid such a severe illness, and then send him to hell because of it. As Snuggly said, life is cold and unfeeling and cruel. Our challenge to to be kind and compassionate, even when life isn’t.

  • 185. ubi dubium  |  July 16, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Oh, and Joe,

    …look into you very HEART OF HEARTS…

    My emotions aren’t in my heart. It’s a pump – it doesn’t feel emotions. Around here, perhaps you should ask people to look into their “very BRAIN OF BRAINS”. That’s where my emotions are.

  • 186. john t.  |  July 16, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    Ubi

    I lived it. My brother committed suicide and for years was very violent. Though he was mentally ill, he made many choices and decisions during those years, genetics or not. I cant or wont just wipe away all accountability based on are “genetic” makeup.

  • 187. John Morales  |  July 16, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    What Joe calls “heart of hearts”, I call naive intuition. Luckily for me, my intellect overrides my intuition when I make determinations of any importance.

    Joe, believing things because you wish to but with no other justification is called wishful thinking.

    I find it pitiable rather than admirable.

    Also, Joe is drifting further and further from any specific thesis as he progresses along his intellectual drunkard’s walk.

    It’s vaguely entertaining, I suppose, to watch his disjoint attempts to argue against freedom and responsibility.

    Still, since you appear to like arguing by anectode and rhetorical questions, I will indulge you.

    Joe, in your heart of hearts, do you believe Jeffrey Dahmer saved because he declared himself a born-again Christian and was baptised shortly before his death? How does that match your naive intuition of fairness?
    PS bonus rhetorical question: Where do you think your naive intuitions come from if not your biological self?

  • 188. Joe  |  July 16, 2008 at 7:27 pm

    Joe, in your heart of hearts, do you believe Jeffrey Dahmer saved because he declared himself a born-again Christian and was baptised shortly before his death? How does that match your naive intuition of fairness?
    PS bonus rhetorical question: Where do you think your naive intuitions come from if not your biological self?

    John—-

    A lot of people (especially in jail) “declare themselves” to be born again Christians. So, I really have no idea concerning that. The Bible does say that “whosoever” believes in Jesus can receive eternal life though—–so if he were truly sincere, then yes, he could be saved.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “naive intuition”–when I used the term “heart of hearts”—most people would realize I am not talking about the physical heart pumping away—-but the core self—-wherever that is–in the brain–in the soul (if you believe in a soul)—-it’s like saying “what is your gut feeling?” You don’t expect someone to come back and say “You mean, what does my stomach feel?” No—you expect them to know the term. When I said “heart of hearts” I thought it was a “given” and didn’t expect someone would come back saying “You better say brain of brains”—that’s getting just a bit ridiculous.

    But if you can explain naive intuition a bit more maybe I can address that.

  • 189. John Morales  |  July 16, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    Sure.

    Naive intuition = Gut feeling.

  • 190. Joe  |  July 16, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    I lived it. My brother committed suicide and for years was very violent. Though he was mentally ill, he made many choices and decisions during those years, genetics or not. I cant or wont just wipe away all accountability based on are “genetic” makeup.

    John T.—

    I agree. How many others with just as bad a “sickness” never resort to killing 31 people? There are many many people who are what we call “mentally ill” who never do something like that. To take away all responsibilty from the guy for his actions is totally incorrect.

  • 191. Joe  |  July 16, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    Sure.

    Naive intuition = Gut feeling.

    John—

    Don’t mean to get technical here, but a “gut feeling” might be something you use when making a bet. If this is the “naive intuitiuon” you are talking about, then you’ve got it wrong.

    I am talking about the core of your being—–your real belief about something. Often people will make an “argument” about something. They will use their “logic” and their “reason” as to why they are right about something, etc. They have trained themselves to do so. They are like Pavlov’s dogs.

    But—when pressed to the limit, what they REALLY believe can be quite different. You can spout all day long that God does not exist, and make your logical arguments as to why, all based on rhetoric you have stored up through reading, etc.

    But when asked “Do you really believe that Dylan Kliebold and the other guy at Columbine, went in and killed all those kids, driven by their evil impulses and hatred, and then killed themselves, and will NEVER face responsibilty for what they did? Are they and the people they killed on equal terms—-just gone into non-existence? Do you REALLY believe that?

    Maybe you do. But I know that many others look at something like that and know that just cannot be. It may not meet their “logical standards” of thinking, or their patterns of “reasoning”, but they know deep inside that those two guys will one day face their crimes.

    You can argue something, and very well, and still in your heart of hearts (as I call it) REALLY hold to something else. In the move about the Scopes Trial, the main lawyer (I think it may have been Spencer Tracy, not sure) argues his point, and makes Bryant look like a fool. But at the end of the movie, when he walks up to Bryant, he puts the Bible on top of all of this other law books. He is stating that he may have “argued” against the book the whole way, but in the end He REALLY does honor it and believe in it. And he smiles at the character portraying William Jennings Bryant, and then walks away.

  • 192. John Morales  |  July 16, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    Oh, OK. Sorry, I don’t have a “heart of hearts”, then.

    All my beliefs are tentative.

  • 193. John Morales  |  July 16, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    By the way, Joe, what you ask me to believe is apparently the concept of Karma.

    I thought that was Eastern school thought, not Christian.

  • 194. Anonymous  |  July 16, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    Joe, how many times do you expect to ask the same question until you get the answer you want?

    There’s a word for that ya know…

  • 195. BigHouse  |  July 16, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    Joe, do you think that by asking the same question over and over again, you’ll eventually get a different answer, the one you’re seeking?

    There’s a word for that kind of behvaior..

  • 196. John Morales  |  July 16, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    Re: Jeffrey Dahmer.

    Yes, from all accounts he was apparently sincere.

    so if he were truly sincere, then yes, he could be saved.

    But that’s contrary to what you’re asking me to believe in my putative “heart of hearts”.

  • 197. BigHouse  |  July 16, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    My bad fot the double-post..I thought it wouldn’t let me without filling in the above..

  • 198. ubi dubium  |  July 16, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    John T.

    I lived it. My brother committed suicide and for years was very violent. Though he was mentally ill, he made many choices and decisions during those years, genetics or not. I cant or wont just wipe away all accountability based on are “genetic” makeup.

    I so sorry for your loss. You then know the pain and struggle a family goes through in dealing with this. I have no idea whether this condition comes from genetics, a developmental problem, or another cause. But I would think that your brother might have made some different choices in his life if he had not had the burden of a mental disorder.

    Joe –
    Sure, there are other people that are mentally ill that don’t kill 31 people. There are many varieties and severities of mental illness. And even for the worst, the most violent, some get the help they need, and lead normal lives. Some are stopped and locked up before they kill. Some turn their negative thoughts against themselves only. And some do things like storm into the Capitol, shooting the Guards, because they are desperate to reach the Ruby Sattelite that can cure the Black Heva disease sent by the aliens. (Do you remember Russell Eugene Weston? He really did that. Schizophrenic.)

    I think my real point is that this issue, like all issues, is not black-and-whilte. The real answer is complicated. Some people are clearly totally responsible for the harm they cause, some are so disconnected from reality that they can’t understand or truly be responsible for anything they have done, and there is a big gray area in between.

    That’s why the dichotomy of people winding up in either heaven or hell never really worked for me. No gray area. At least the catholics came up with the idea of purgatory, to cover the in-between cases. One of their better inventions.

  • 199. John Morales  |  July 16, 2008 at 8:10 pm

    I’ve just checked. From Wikipedia:
    The Esoteric Christian tradition, Essenian and later Rosicrucian schools teach it as the “Law of Cause and Consequence/Effect”. However, this western esoteric tradition adds that the essence of the teachings of Christ is that the law of sin and death may be overcome by the Love of God, which will restore immortality.

    I guess you must be an esoteric Christian, Joe. :)

  • 200. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 16, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    Joe, do you think it might be possible that in some people’s “heart of hearts” they don’t have the same convictions as you about God and justice? It seems so obvious to you, and you appear quite incredulous that some of us honestly don’t have a problem with terrible people not getting their comeuppance when they die.

    I will agree that I wish they would get their just deserts. But I have no problem accepting the fact that they won’t. I think it’s far worse of an injustice that people are murdered and have their lives cut short when they don’t deserve it than that the people who killed them won’t suffer for it. There’s so much more wrong in the world that people not suffering for their crimes seems like small potatoes…

    Also, while I agree that the “heart of hearts” thing is an appeal to emotions, I also think that arguing about our heart being nothing more than a blood pump and that emotion comes from our brains is being pedantic. We all know what Joe means, no one ever talks about our emotions literally originating in our blood-pumping hearts.

  • 201. John Morales  |  July 16, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    There’s so much more wrong in the world that people not suffering for their crimes seems like small potatoes…

    Oh so very well put!

    So, Joe, I pointed out you’re making contradictory claims and SnugglyBuffalo puts your emotional appeal into perspective.

    Still feel it should be compelling?

  • 202. Obi  |  July 16, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    This is addressing no one specifically and everyone in general, but am I the only one who finds it ironic that a Christian such as Joe is emphasizing how everyone should have this feeling of “justice” that leads them to believe in some sort of afterlife where the wrongdoings done in this world will be paid for? Joe tells us that in our “heart of hearts” that we cannot believe that someone can massacre millions in this life and then meet the same fate as everyone else — nonexistence.

    However, in the Christian faith that he himself belongs to, a murderer on the scale of those during the Inquisition or the Holocaust could be sitting in heaven right next to the person he killed in cold blood; or, even worse, he could be sitting in heaven because he’s a Christian and the other person could be burning in hell simply because he was a Muslim or a Jew or a Hindi or a Zoroastrian or any manner of other faiths. No matter what one does, their evil can be absolved simply by believing in Christ; but on the other hand, no matter what one does, their good means nothing if they don’t believe in Christ. Is this the “justice” and “payment for wrongdoing” that you speak of?

    One can only wonder…

    Oh, and I think my post may have directed itself more at Joe as it went on than I meant it to, therefore he should feel free to respond.

  • 203. rover  |  July 16, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    I have only been on this blog for a short time, but I do believe that many of you are truly former christians. So, why give Joe a hard time about the message of Christ? The teaching of the bible is that we are all sinners incapable of saving ourselves. Sin keeps us from having a relationship with God. Christ died for our sins, but that sacrifice is only effectual to those who believe. Christ will forgive all sins if the person has faith in the propitiation for sin. Isn’t knocking Joe, and other Christians like myself, for believing this kind of disingenous?

  • 204. Aussie Ali  |  July 16, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    If someone commits a heinous crime or is a JW, Mormon or Muslim then a Christian would say they will go to hell. They will receive the same punishment regardless of whether their sin was murder or unbelief.
    In my ‘heart of hearts’ this does not seem a particularly fair not system. Neither is it more fair that a mass murderer could genuinely convert on his death bed and go to heaven.

    The bible speaks very sketchily about what hell is let alone trying to say that there are different ‘hells’ for different degrees of badness.

    According to Joe’s theory:

    1. If there is NO hell, Hitler or mass murderer does not get punishment for their crime.
    2. If there IS hell, but Hitler or mass murderer does genuinely convert on their death bed they will not go to hell and receive punishment for their crime.
    How is this any different? The end result is the same and the victims will have received no justice.

  • 205. John Morales  |  July 16, 2008 at 9:04 pm

    Rover,

    So, why give Joe a hard time about the message of Christ?

    Go back and read Joe’s contentions.

    If they reflect the message of Christ, I’m an idiot.

  • 206. John Morales  |  July 16, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    Aussie Ali, you get to the heart of the matter.

    The argument is that, if you buy into the imaginary punishment, that you can avoid said punishment being Christian and truly repenting. Very visceral.

    And Christianity provides a free-get-out-of-jail-card, if you buy that absurd claim.

  • 207. Quester  |  July 17, 2008 at 12:18 am

    Rover,

    The teaching of the bible is that we are all sinners incapable of saving ourselves. Sin keeps us from having a relationship with God. Christ died for our sins, but that sacrifice is only effectual to those who believe. Christ will forgive all sins if the person has faith in the propitiation for sin.

    Can you not see how this is the exact opposite of what Joe is arguing? He is arguing for a justice I have no reason to believe will ever come about. You are discussing a mercy that I have no reason to believe anyone has ever received. If Hitler had received that mercy, perhaps the justice Joe desires would not be necessary. The fact that I, for years, simultaneously believed in the justice and mercy now baffles me as I see how they conflict on every point.

  • 208. Richard  |  July 17, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    Grant- Wow, lots of conversation in the last 24 hours. Responding to #115:

    So you think logic is logical and rational because it is logical and rational? Way to be logical, Richard! :thumb:

    Its difficult to have this conversation with you when youre not up on the basics. Nowhere did I say “logic is logical because it is logical.” That is a class-A strawman and, moreover, really goofy. You need to brush up on some basic epistemology before youre going to be in a position to debate this.

    I am speaking from a foundationalist perspective (look it up). There are a lot of nuances that are being skated over, but for our purposes, here is what I am saying in simplest terms:
    (read my lips) Logic exists.

    Notice there is no “because.” Thats what makes it foundational. Thats what we mean by an axiom. There is no “because.” So, if you think there is a contradiction somewhere in those two words, by all means elaborate.

    Yet you remain devoid of any evidence for your opinion and unwilling to admit the evidence against. The fact is that our use of logic is always tested against reality. It does not change according to a person’s opinion.

    Evidence for or against the existence of logic? Youre really over your head here, my friend. Logic is indeed *not* “tested against” reality. Praytell how one would construct such a test? Logic is that which allows us to interpret (and perform) all other tests. You do not gather “evidence” that logic exists or that it works. That has to be assumed for all other theory-construction to proceed and for all evidence to be weighed. Tell me, how would you evaluate the “evidence” for or against logic? Through logic?

    I say that our use of logic is evidence that there is rationality to the universe. You say that our use of logic means that we have logic. How is your opinion evidence that the universe is not rational?

    So you say our use of logic is evidence that there is a logic to the universe? I agree. Thats pretty much what I said. I did not say the universe was not rational. I said it was not moral. That difference is much of your confusion.

  • 209. Richard  |  July 17, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    I am a latecomer to this conversation, but I would like to toss my hat in.

    1. Joe, I think the concern with your position stems from two things: first, the equal-and-opposite-reaction thing is out of place in discussions of ethics, in our minds. That concept comes from physics, and doesnt apply here. Or, at least, theres no particular reason to think it does. Theres nothing illogical about thinking crimes can go unpunished. Its unfair and unethical, but not illogical.

    2. In our heart of hearts, of course most people would wish for Hitler to be punished. But wishing doesnt make it so. In my heart of hearts I also wish he had never been born, or that he had never become the genocidal maniac he was. But I have to live with those facts regardless. Maybe I should be more upset about it, but perhaps I take some cold comfort in knowing he can no longer hurt anyone. And the desire for revenge is never something to be nursed, I think.

    3. Your position on hell is indeed unorthodox. Most versions of Christianity, at least conservative ones, do not teach what you have concluded. They teach that all who do not [x,y,z] – usually “accept Jesus as their savior” – do suffer in hell forever. To us de-cons (at the risk of speaking for others) this is obscene. This is, in fact, far more of a miscarriage of justice than the no-afterlife (and therefore no-punishment) concept is.

    *Most* conservative Christians do think that all those 6 millions Jews *also* went to hell. In fact, Joe, I think the problem here is that doling out justice is much greyer and fuzzier a matter than any of us would like to imagine. Whose to decide just how much “hell” one deserves? How do we measure that? And why does believing in the right religion get you out of it? Thats the point: the whole Christian concept of atonement (and punishment) seems grossly unfair and arbitrary to de-cons.

    And to other de-cons, lets be clear in our critiques of the hell-concept: this issue here is moral and ethical, not logical. There is nothing at all strictly illogical about the concept of hell. It is perfectly consistent with standard Christian theology, and the “kinks” can be ironed out, conceptually (though not always satisfactorily). That is not the issue.
    The issue is that it is a deeply, and indeed viciously, *immoral* idea – infinite torment for finite failings, many of which, as we have been discussing (about genetics, etc) may not have been under our control in the first place – that is “paid for” by *believing* the right thing. Hell is a grotesque perversion of justice masquerading as “perfect” justice from a “perfect” Lawgiver. Thats just bloody awful.

    Our critique of hell must be ethical, not logical.

  • 210. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 17, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    Looking back, I realize that I chastize people for being pedantic about hearts and emotions, but my arguments about logic seem a bit pedantic, too, picking too much on the definitions, as opposed to arguments that start from how the term is being used.

    I suppose I could revise my arguments on logic thusly: logic exists, but as a result of the properties of the universe. Just as abstract concepts such as thought and emotions are the product of our brains’ neurons firing, logic is a product of the properties of the universe.

    Logic exists. Entropy exists. Newton’s laws exist. All of these are abstract concepts that exist because of the physical properties of the universe, of the matter and energy (matter in motion). These things exist because of the way the physical universe is, not because they inherently must exist. If the matter and energy of the universe had different properties, all these abstract concepts would be different.

    If there is some inherent morality to the universe, it is only a result of the matter in motion, not an addition to it. Given that our understanding of physics does not include some sort of morality arising from it, I find that unlikely. The only evidence for an inherent morality is the appearance of morality in all human cultures. Since humans raised outside of these cultures do not seem to have any sense of morality (e.g. feral children), it would appear that morality is learned, rather than innate. We seem to have an innate ability to learn morality and empathy through interactions with others, but the morality and empathy itself doesn’t seem to be an inherent aspect of humanity.

    Heck, let’s take a step back from arguments about whether logic exists as some innate, non-physical thing, and assume it does as Grant wants us to. Even if the universe has some non-physical things, it is a logical fallacy to assume that morality must therefore exist as another innate, non-physical thing. Since there is evidence that morality is learned rather than innate, it seems the argument for morality as an innate non-physical thing of the universe doesn’t hold up.

  • 211. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 17, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    And rereading what I just wrong, I think it’s just a slightly different way of saying the same thing. Oh well…

  • 212. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 17, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    Just wrote, not wrong…

    Haha, Freudian…!

  • 213. Joe  |  July 17, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    I have to point out something from yesterdy. Everyone keeps saying I am asking the same question over and over again trying to get people to answer the way I want them to. That isn’t true at all. I was asking over and over again in amazement, because no one WOULD answer the question about what they felt in their “heart of hearts”. Finally Snuggly did, and I thanked her. That was one of the funniest things I have ever seen—everyone was so “scared” (yes I use the word) to just answer a “person to person” question (it was not asked from christian perspective, or religious perspective—but just on the level of a human being)–what do YOU really think about it—not the “logic” you like to use, or the “reasoning methods” you like to use—-but you personally. Only two people would answer. That was hilarious actually!! LOL

    I don’t believe that, I know that. Hitler faces no punishment after death because there is no “after death”.

    Obi—just saw this. You “know that” huh? Then you are the first person on earth who “knows” it. Should I call the ENQUIRER? And just how do you “know” that Hitler faces no punishment? Because YOU say so?

  • 214. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 17, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    Her? There’s a post above where I specifically said I’m male.

    *sigh* That’s what I get for having the word “snuggly” in my name, I suppose.

  • 215. Joe  |  July 17, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    Snuggly—

    Sorry about that. Every time I see your name I think of that bear in the “Snuggles” commercials who hugs the towels. LOL.

    -Joe

  • 216. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 17, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    Hah, funny you should mention that; apparently I loved that bear as a toddler and would rush to the TV whenever those commercials came on. According to my parents, anyway.

    I’m gonna have to reassert my masculinity when I get home by playing some Unreal Tournament 3, methinks…

  • 217. Obi  |  July 17, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    Joe —

    Oh, I’m definitely not the first person who came to know that. Remember that Einstein quote? Indeed, he said it a few decades before me, and I’m sure others have said it as well. The hope for an afterlife and the belief in one even when all evidence is to the contrary is unique to humans, most likely because of our larger brains that have evolved the capacity for abstract and higher thought.

    For example, a small animal may be threatened by a large predator, in which case it may run into its hole or burrow, thinking that it has escaped death. Humans, on the other hand, have realized that they can postpone death, but never fully escape it. Their heightened sense of consciousness about self and the death that was an inevitable part of being led to the foundations of belief in the afterlife and the “soul”, or that which embodies consciousness. However, with advancements in the field of neuroscience that were obviously unprecedented in the Middle Paleolithic period when religion and this sense of “spirituality” first developed.

    We now see that our consciousness, thoughts, emotions, everything that makes us us is seated in our physical brains, leaving no room for any type of “soul”. Einstein was correct in his statements regarding survival after death — we don’t. I also fnd it ironic that he uses the word “souls” in his statement…I wonder if that was a hint of humor?

    Oh, and here’s the relevant part of the quote for reference, “Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotisms.

  • 218. Joe  |  July 17, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    Neither can I believe

    From Einstein sample above. The important thing to see is that this is not a “fact” but a “belief” of Einstein.

    We now see that our consciousness, thoughts, emotions, everything that makes us us is seated in our physical brains, leaving no room for any type of “soul”. Einstein was correct in his statements regarding survival after death — we don’t. I also fnd it ironic that he uses the word “souls” in his statement…I wonder if that was a hint of humor?

    Who is “we”? I have seen no scientific evidence that has stated as “fact” that there is no soul Obi. YOU may “believe” (I use the word believe because what you state is not “factual”) there is no soul, but no one can prove that.

    In regards to Einstein, yes–he does use the word “souls” in his quote—but I will allow for the interpretation of a “soul” being a person—because it appears obvious he didn’t believe in an actual supernatural soul.

    But, as I mentioned before—-someone can be extremely intelligent, but not very wise.

  • 219. Obi  |  July 17, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    Joe —

    Oh, he was very wise, you must only be saying that because you don’t agree with his conclusion. It’s no small wonder that his name is synonymous with genius. However, that’s beside the point. To posit the existence of a soul, you must provide evidence for it. What evidence do you have for the existence of a soul, Joe? Having no evidence yet holding strong belief is the hallmark of a fool, the opposite of one who is “wise”, as you say. So since you appear to have a strong belief that there is a soul, what evidence do you have?

    I say there is no soul because through scientific study, we have seen that the “consciousness” that is attributed to the soul/spirit by the religious is in fact completely physical — consciousness is seated in the brain. Therefore, the soul would be a superfluous entity that served no purpose whatsoever, which leads to the logical conclusion (through Occam’s Razor) that it does not exist, and is in fact exists only as a construct of the mind. However, like I said before, can you provide any evidence that would lead me to see otherwise?

  • 220. BigHouse  |  July 17, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    Joe, multiple people answered your ‘heart of hearts’ question. And you kept asking it. With more CAPS used.

  • 221. Joe  |  July 17, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    Having no evidence yet holding strong belief is the hallmark of a fool, the opposite of one who is “wise”, as you say

    Actually, I would define a fool he says something “is so” simply because He states it is”—that is purely ridiculous. Of Course, I cannot “prove” there is a soul—-my post was regarding your statement that “you know”—when in fact you don’t know at all.

    I have seen no report on the news “Scientists Prove there is no soul”—-so how can you say “I KNOW” and that you have “PROVED” there isn’t. That is a very foolish thing to do.
    I never said I could PROVE it—I do BELIEVE there is a soul. YOU are the one who KNOWS it to be the case—–when sceintists have never stated such a thing as FACT at all.

  • 222. Joe  |  July 17, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    Actually, I would define a fool he says something “is so” simply because He states it is”—

    Having trouble typing today— I would define a fool as he that says something “IS SO”simply because HE says it is–that’s exactly what you are doing Obi.

  • 223. Joe  |  July 17, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    BigHouse—-

    The didn’t answer it. Snuggly did. He said “Yes, I would WANT those people to be responsible, but I do not think they will as I don’t believe you live after you die” (paraphrase).

    That was great. He answered the question. That was ALL I was asking. But instead of just “answering” several spoke of “shouting matches”, brought up Christianity, hell, etc. and wanted to debate that—-all I wanted to know is if you REALLY THINK what you are saying through your “reasoning methods” is true.

    Many people (like lawyers) are able to “reason” and “argue” from a position that they REALLY do not believe at heart. That was my whole question.

  • 224. Joe  |  July 17, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    BigHouse—

    To elaborate just a bit. I recently saw a show about college debates and debaters. They are graded and win contests by making “arguments”. They are able to take a position and argue the heck out of it. Yet, if you ask some of them afterwards “Do you really “believe” at heart the position you just took?” Many would answer “no”—-I was just arguing the point.

    I was wondering if anyone was doing the same in here. You are arguing from a certain “position” you hold. BUT, what if you were asked something that may not stand with the position you take? Would you still argue the point, EVEN THOUGH DEEP INSIDE (or deep inside your head for those of you who need a better definition) you do not hold to that—-or HAVE YOUR DOUBTS about your own postiion?

    That was really what I was asking. Does that make sense?

  • 225. BigHouse  |  July 17, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    Now it makes much better sense, yes. And if you scroll up, you’ll see I and Obi both answered it. Obi still gave you some grief about your wording, but he answered it.

    I think you kept asking it because you couldn’t believe the answers you were getting….

  • 226. Obi  |  July 17, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    Joe —

    The soul has been disproven. From Merriam Webster’s online dictionary, the definition of soul reads as follows, “the immaterial essence, animating principle, or actuating cause of an individual life“. Neuroscientists, psychologists and biologists have shown us that all of our consciousness, thoughts, memories, and emotions are products of our physical brain. These were previously attributed to the soul, so indeed, the soul has been disproved, because (1) there is no reason for it to exist and (2) there is no evidence for its existence.

    However, I assume that you may have redefined “soul”. In which case, outline your definition of it and provide the evidence upon which you base your belief in it. If you cannot, your belief is baseless and you are a fool for assuming such a belief. I’m sure this request isn’t too hard to comprehend nor comply with, is it Joe? As I said before, believing in things without evidence is the hallmark of a fool. Present your evidence.

    Oh, and just as an extra, let me teach you a little something. The onus to provide “proof” or “evidence” is never on the one making the negative claim, it is always on the one making the positive claim. To posit the existence of an entity means that you must have evidence for the existence of said entity. I’m sure you don’t assume that scientists are out there busily trying to disprove the existence of unicorns, leprauchauns, fairies, and all of other types of imaginary creatures. No, those who seek to assert their existence must provide the evidence, as they are the ones making the positive claim of existence. It is not the other way around, as you seem to think.

  • 227. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 17, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    I would define a fool as he that says something “IS SO”simply because HE says it is

    Crap, my irony meter just exploded.

    This is exactly what you are doing, Joe. Saying we have a soul because you say so. Or maybe because the Bible says so.

    We’re pointing out that the aspects of consciousness associated with a soul have been shown to be controlled by the brain; we can scan your brain and see the activity associated with different acts of consciousness and un- or sub-consciousness.

    We’re arguing from evidence, you’re arguing from the position of “because [ I / the Bible ] say so.”

    If you want to talk about your spirit (I’ve seen many churches that make a very clear distinction between one’s soul and one’s spirit), that gets into the same arguments about the existence of God.

  • 228. john t.  |  July 17, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    “The soul has been disproven. From Merriam Webster’s online dictionary, the definition of soul reads as follows, “the immaterial essence, animating principle, or actuating cause of an individual life“. Neuroscientists, psychologists and biologists have shown us that all of our consciousness, thoughts, memories, and emotions are products of our physical brain. These were previously attributed to the soul, so indeed, the soul has been disproved, because (1) there is no reason for it to exist and (2) there is no evidence for its existence.”(OBI)

    Now Obi, soul has different meanings for different people, I for one believe that I do have an essence that cannot at this time be measured by science. I cant prove it to you, nor do I need to, my intuition of it is enough for me. I just wonder why people who had at one point had an extreme view of their faith, now have an extreme view that its all bullcrap. All or Nothing. Extremists, rarely have room for a middle position. This is the only truth that I know. We have yet as a collective whole found a way to concretely say how the Universe came to be. We can banter on all we want about Science knowing many things, but it cant as of this point give the Ultimate answer. And we all know Religion doesnt even come close either.

    “There was a time when religion thought it could explain the workings of the Universe, then came Science, they both come up short.”

  • 229. Joe  |  July 17, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    The soul has been disproven

    Obi—- You are making me laugh heartily. The soul HAS NOT been disproven. If that were the case you would hear people on a daily basis state that as “fact”. I repeat, I have NEVER heard a news announcement saying “Scientists Prove Soul does not exist”. And Obi—you KNOW that to be the case.

    This is exactly what you are doing, Joe. Saying we have a soul because you say so. Or maybe because the Bible says so.

    Snuggly—

    You’re wrong. Re-read my posts. I just told Obi “I cannot prove there is a soul”. My argument is with his statement “I KNOW there is no soul and it has been PROVED” because Snuggly IT HAS NOT BEEN PROVED.

    Show me a news article that shows the absence of a soul is an ESTABLISHED FACT. I cannot show one that shows that the soul exists as an ESTABLISHED FACT EITHER—-and I ADMIT THAT.

    Obi keeps saying it is an ESTABLISHED FACT that the soul does not exist. THAT IS ABSOLUTELY UNTRUE.

    I will post what Obi said one more time Snuggly:

    The soul has been disproven

    Now—check any of my posts above and show me where I make the statement “The soul has been proven”—-you won’t because that is not a fact.

  • 230. Obi  |  July 17, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    john t. —

    The very first sentence of the very next paragraph stated, “However, I assume that you may have redefined “soul”.“, so I think your “soul has different meanings for different people” criticism is rather unnecessary. Read the entirety of posts before you criticize them, mate. Regardless, I don’t care much, if at all, for your intuition or anyone’s at all. Subjective experiences such as that don’t have much weight, and for good reason. They can’t be felt/observed/tested by others, and are of little to no use when it comes to scientific understanding of the world around us.

    Also, have you ever thought that there is no answer to any “ultimate question”, and that such a question is merely the construct of human minds? If there were no humans, there would be no “ultimate question”, and the Universe wouldn’t be any different for that loss. Think about it.

  • 231. Joe  |  July 17, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Snuggly—

    I have to add—-for two days now I have been in discussions where I barely, if in any way, used the Bible or Christianity in my arguments. Yet—right away—like your post you say I am trying to “prove” something using the Bible. In this case I SAID I CANNOT PROVE IT and you still threw that at me.

    Don’t you see the unreality in Obi’s statement? Come on—there are some scientists that might state that we are made up of chemicals, but no scientist is going to say “IT IS A PROVEN FACT THERE IS NO SOUL”–they aren’t fools.

  • 232. Obi  |  July 17, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    Joe —

    Alright, since you continue to evade and choose to not answer my question regarding the evidence you have for the existence of a soul, I will conclude that you’re a fool (as if I hadn’t already). You make it so easy, mate. Couldn’t you have at least tried?

    And by the way, the definition I gave of soul (by far the most common one) does not exist. Get over it. All that we are is rooted in our physical brains, of which I think you may be lacking a little bit of, Joe.

  • 233. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 17, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    Joe, I didn’t say you were trying to prove a soul. But you are claiming we have one, with no evidence whatsoever. So, either you say we have a soul because you say so or you say we have a soul because the Bible says so and you agree with it. I was just making an inference about the possible sources for your argument for a soul, not trying to throw anything at you. There could be a third source for your belief that didn’t come up in my inference, in which case I’d be interested to know what that source is.

    Our arguments against a soul as Obi defined above, are based in evidence that the aspects of our consciousness are based in our brains. No one has disproved the soul, but we have disproved every aspect of the soul as existing outside of our brains. There may yet be some supernatural essence to humans, but that cannot be proved or disproved, and falls in the same category of argument as God. We have no evidence that it exists.

    And let’s please not stoop to calling each other fools. Whether you believe it about a person or not, you do no good throwing it about as an insult. Let’s keep this discussion civil, your opinions about the arguers isn’t relevant.

  • 234. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 17, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    That last paragraph is directed at everyone, not Joe specifically, in case that wasn’t clear.

  • 235. Joe  |  July 17, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    Alright, since you continue to evade and choose to not answer my question regarding the evidence you have for the existence of a soul

    Obi—

    This is incredible. I never said I had “evidence” for the “existence of a soul”. I said to you I CANNOT PROVE IT—-I just BELIEVE it.

    You are the one saying YOU “KNOW” IT DOESN’T EXIST—and you cannot say that Obi—because you DON’T KNOW that for sure. If you would just admit that it is not a FACT that the soul does not exist this whole discussion could end. But you, as always ABSOLUTELY REFUSE to admit YOU ARE WRONG ON ANY STANCE YOU TAKE.

    You KNOW the statement “it is a proven fact there is no such thing as a soul” is NOT A TRUE STATEMENT. But, you refuse to admit that. Instead, you keep saying I’m trying to prove something, or that I am saying I have evidence for something—I HAVE NEVER SAID THAT.

  • 236. Joe  |  July 17, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    And by the way, the definition I gave of soul (by far the most common one) does not exist. Get over it. All that we are is rooted in our physical brains, of which I think you may be lacking a little bit of, Joe.

    Obi—

    You are impossible to have discussions with at all. OK–OBI SAID IT—IT MUST BE TRUE. Is that what you want me to say or accept? Get over it? Why because YOU said it?

    LOL—Obi do you have a great big picture of yourself hanging over your fireplace with the title “I KNOW THE ANSWERS TO EVERYTHING” under it? LOL

  • 237. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 17, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    Joe-

    You KNOW the statement “it is a proven fact there is no such thing as a soul” is NOT A TRUE STATEMENT.

    Obi-

    Neuroscientists, psychologists and biologists have shown us that all of our consciousness, thoughts, memories, and emotions are products of our physical brain.

    If you are defining the soul as your consciousness, then what Obi stated there is true. This has been proven, you can find studies on it.If you are talking about some supernatural essence, then you can refer to the comment I made on that being neither provable nor disprovable, and falling in the same category as God.

    No one is claiming that we have disproved the soul. We have proved that every aspect of what we typically think of as the soul is in fact rooted in the brain.

  • 238. John Morales  |  July 17, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    John T:

    I for one believe that I do have an essence that cannot at this time be measured by science. I cant prove it to you, nor do I need to, my intuition of it is enough for me.

    Science does not “prove” anything in an epistemic sense, you’re thinking of math or logic. All science does is tentatively explain observations.

  • 239. john t.  |  July 17, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    John M.

    Ok math and logic then.

    Obi

    Just curious, how old are you, Im 44 .

  • 240. Joe  |  July 17, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    CHICAGO SUN TIMES JULY 17 2008

    SCIENTISTS STATE SOUL DOES NOT EXIST

    Scientists today made the announcement that the human “soul” does
    not exist. They stated that is is now a “fact”, and the long controversy
    has finally ended. For centuries man has believed that a “spiritual
    essence” exists within man, and the body is simply the vehicle this “soul”
    inhabits. Some scientists on the other hand argue that man is made up
    of chemicals and impulses, and that the soul does not really exist.

    James Piedmont,a noted scientist, made the announcement from the podium
    of Johns Hopkins University earlier today. When asked how they had finally come
    to this critical decision Piedmont answered “Because Obi says so. And Obi knows
    absolutely everything”. No one at this time knows who “Obi” is but we will print
    further information as it becomes available.

  • 241. Obi  |  July 17, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    Joe —

    Aye, I expected that type of fuming and raging answer from you. I realize that we may exist on rather far apart intellectual levels (I’m sure you can guess where you are in relation), so any attempt by me to communicate with you efficiently is ultimately futile. SnugglyBuffalo has more patience than I for extreme stupidity and blockheadedness and therefore he has been trying, but I still don’t think the message got through.

    However, let me sum up my thoughts about what you’re saying in the hopes that you may understand it (it’s quite a long shot, I know). You’re essentially stating that you have absolutely no evidence for the existence of a soul, but you believe that there is one for no other reason than because you simply want to believe. If you have any functional neurons still firing in that brain of yours (which I assume has undergone severe necrosis due mostly to lack of use), then you’d realize that that is, in fact, a horrendously stupid reason to believe anything. The fact that you admit to holding a belief so strongly with no evidence to support it clearly reveals to me how complacent you are in your state of extreme ignorance.

    If you have any sense of intellectual honesty regarding your knowledge (or lack thereof), then you’d do yourself well to scroll back up this page and review how I detailed to you why I say that there is no soul, and how I arrived at this conclusion. As you can see by the vitriolic nature of this post, my tolerance for willing stupidity and ignorance is very low.

    Good day, mate.

  • 242. Joe  |  July 17, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    Snuggly—-

    I can’t believe you are ignoring every quote I have shown you from Obi where he is stating that IT IS A PROVEN FACT (ONLY BECAUSE HE SAYS SO) that the soul does not exist.

    Scientists, doctors, lawyers, etc,—-all have “opinions” and “beliefs”—they may even write extensively about how the human body works. But, again, I repeat, I HAVE NEVER HEARD A NEWS ARTICLE SAY THAT THE SOUL DOES NOT EXIST. That is because you cannot prove one way or the other that it does or doesn’t.

    Again,. for the umpteenth time—-I am not trying to prove it does. I do not have evidence it does. I simply believe it does.
    My whole argument has been that Obi is stating it is a “FACT” that it does not exist——and if that was the case it would have been in the headlines for Pete’s sake!!!!

    What makes it so hard for some of you to just say “Yes—scientists have said they are fairly certain a human soul is not there—–but they have never stated it as a proven fact”. Why is it so darn hard for Obi or anyone else to say that? I really do not get that at all.

  • 243. Obi  |  July 17, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    john t. —

    I’m 17 years old.

  • 244. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 17, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    Joe, re-read this:

    Neuroscientists, psychologists and biologists have shown us that all of our consciousness, thoughts, memories, and emotions are products of our physical brain.

    You can find studies to support this. Our consciousness is in our brains. And most definitions of the soul equate it with our consciousness. This is what Obi is arguing.

    If you want to talk about a supernatural, spiritual essence, then yes, no one has proven anything about it. It has not been proven to exist, or to not exist. Like God, there is no evidence that it exists, and thus the onus is on you to prove that it does exist, not on us to prove it does not.

  • 245. Joe  |  July 17, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    Aye, I expected that type of fuming and raging answer from you

    Yeah Obi—-and you can expect it from others to. It becomes a last resort with you—it really does. I have seen others resort to it also. It becomes so ridiculous to try to talk to you, that all that is left is incredulousness, and sarcasm. You are too much mate.

  • 246. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 17, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    Joe, you’re right, Obi is saying the soul is proven to not exist, which isn’t really correct. We have proven that every aspect of what is typically thought of as the soul is a product of our brain, however. This is proven, not some speculation by scientists.

  • 247. Joe  |  July 17, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    You can find studies to support this

    Snuggly—-

    PLEASE read my posts, and read Obi’s. This is really unbelievable. I KNOW THERE ARE STUDIES TO SUPPORT THIS—many people write many things. There are “other studies” that may support a differnt take on it. I am not denying that at all.

    My whole argument has been that it is not a PROVEN FACT. Obi says IT IS—–AND IT IS NOT A PROVEN FACT. Obi has said several times “It is a proven fact the soul does not exist”
    That is NOT A TRUE STATEMENT—-but he will not admit it.

    I can say “THE LOCH NESS MONSTER DOES NOT EXIST” all day long—MOST studies show there most likely is no monster—but IT IS NOT A PROVEN FACT THAT THE MONSTER DOESN’T EXIST—-if it was they wouldn’t keep putting boats out on the Loch.

    And people keep searching for a soul also. Why?????
    Because it has been PROVEN YET that it does not exist.

    Does anyone get this??? I can’t believe this.

  • 248. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 17, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    Mm, yes, the Theory of Gravity is not a proven fact either, by that reasoning.

    There are no studies that indicate our consciousness is not tied to our brains. There are myriad studies that say it is. It’s as proven as anything can be.

    There are “other studies” that may support a differnt take on it.

    No, I’m 99% sure there aren’t. If there are, could you point me to them?

    So it’s not a wholly one-way request, Here’s a study showing a link between conscious learning and the brain

  • 249. Obi  |  July 17, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    Joe —

    By the way, since I recommended that you read my posts to gain some much needed knowledge, I recommend starting on post #226 where I outlined the specific definition of soul that has been disproven. Fittingly, it is the most common definition of soul, that being: “the immaterial essence, animating principle, or actuating cause of an individual life“. We know where our seat of consciousness, emotion, and memory is. We know what defines life, and how humans recognize “self”.

    That is by far the most common definition of soul, and it has been disproven. We now know that those things are seated in the physical brain, and not an immaterial essence. I then moved on to state that you may have another definition of soul which may not have been disproven yet, and I subsequently asked you to define it and provide evidence for it, and you complied to neither request. Thus, you led me to the only reasonable conclusion, which is what I outlined in post #241.

  • 250. Joe  |  July 17, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    Mm, yes, the Theory of Gravity is not a proven fact either, by that reasoning.

    Huge difference Snuggly. I can simply drop something and gravity takes over. It may not have been “proven” in the way you are stating, but it is plainly observable.

    The soul is something intangible. You cannot prove or disprove it. If you “believe” man is just made up of chemicals, and impulses, etc. perhaps it’s easy to believe it.

    But it awfully hard (and someone else pointed this out in another post a while back) for me to believe that the tears that can come to one’s eyes when observing a beautiful sunrise, or the joy one feels when they see some true act of kindness done can come from “chemicals and impulses”. You can believe that all you want—-I think it is an intangible thing—something that cannot be explained properly—-and actually, I think that is a good thing.

  • 251. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 17, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    We can do a brain scan that shows the exact parts of the brain that are triggering your emotions and tears when looking at something that causes those reactions.

    Just because those reactions are originating physically in my brain doesn’t make them any less real, it doesn’t make a sunset any less beautiful. It doesn’t make those emotions, thoughts, and my consciousness itself any less meaningful to me.

  • 252. Joe  |  July 17, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    That is by far the most common definition of soul, and it has been disproven.

    Obi—-
    OK—-please reprint the news article that announced this. I want ot see where it was actually “disproven” and will now be put in school textbooks. Funny you keep saying stuff like this Obi, because I keep seeing programs about the “soul” and even “near death experiences” and none of it is “proven” one way or the other. Scientists have their “hypotheses” about a “soul” or what happens during “near death”—but I have NEVER HEARD them once say “It is a “proven fact” that all of these things are seated in the physical brain”.

    You are making the same mistake you always do—-you are saying something is “proven”—-because YOU THINK IT IS–it’s your opionion IT HAS. You will say “Face it mate, there is no life after death”. And you expect me to say “Oh, thanks Obi, never thought of that—but it must be true because you said it.” And yet you have no PROOF there isn’t life after death at all. I am not saying I HAVE—I’m saying you should not be making statements with FINALITY which have never been proved.

    When I make statements concerning Christianity I am coming from the knowledge that you “used to be christians”–but I realize you are not going to accept a lot of it. But you are stating things on “logical grounds” using “finality” for things which do not exist in the scientific realm yet (it has never been proven one way or the other by science–only postulation), and backing them up with one thing alone—-because Obi says so. I’m sorry that is not good argument.

  • 253. ubi dubium  |  July 17, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    Joe, I noticed your “all caps” are becoming more frequent. You really don’t need to shout. Try italics, they are a more polite way of showing emphasis.

    You keep wanting to discuss souls, to which our answer is “we have no good reason to think that they even exist”.

    Your response is “Well, you can’t prove they don’t”. Sure. But there is no hard evidence indicating that they do. None. So, until there is, I’ll stay with “the probability of souls existing is very close to zero”.

    If you keep arguing about about how souls can’t be disproven, I’ll have to start throwing the Flying Spaghetti Monster at you again (pesto be upon him). And I know you get really annoyed by that, so let’s talk about something else.

  • 254. john t.  |  July 17, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    Snuggly

    “Just because those reactions are originating physically in my brain”

    The thing is, what started the chemical reaction in the first place?

  • 255. Obi  |  July 17, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    Joe —

    And there we have it. The real reason why you believe — the logical fallacy of an argument from incredulity. Ah, but an argument for any religious/spiritual/supernatural event or entity always boils down to either that or an argument from ignorance, and since the soul falls in those categories, it’s now small wonder that that is your justification for believing as you do.

    But indeed, SnugglyBuffalo is correct. Even if you want to continue wallowing in ignorance and not face the facts, it says nothing about their truth value. Neuroscientists and biologists have identified quite a large amount of the neurotransmitters that trigger our emotions, and the areas of the brain that are active during periods of their expression. Since you’ve gained this new knowledge, will you admit to having learned something or will you stay how you were before?

  • 256. Joe  |  July 17, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    We can do a brain scan that shows the exact parts of the brain that are triggering your emotions and tears when looking at something that causes those reactions.

    Snuggly—

    Granted. I have seen brain scans done where they can make people recall memories by touching a section of the brain, etc.—I believe that to be very real indeed. The brain is an organ. You have probably seen this argument used before—–but what is a car by itself? It has a computer system that can tell different parts of the car to do different things. It can make noise through a horn, turn on music, etc. etc.—-but without the person inside of it, what is it? You see—-I cannot “prove” that a soul exists Snuggly, I know that. But I truly believe that our bodies are “vehicles”—–I am not my body. My body is “part” of me—-something I am using.

    And when “I” leave this body due to it’s physical inability to keep going, “I” will go elsewhere. See, when I walk around daily, unless I am holding up a mirror, I forget what I even look like—–“I” am looking out through the eyes given me to see, but “I” am not just this body I am in. The “I” that exists is not my brain either—I am using it to compute, and problem solve–it also gives my nerves the abilty to physically feel, etc.—but it is an “organ”—it is not me—-it is part of “me” in the sense that I am using it at the present time, or else I could not use the rest of my faculties either. But the “I” inside of me is a separate entity. I cannot “Prove” this—I know I can’t.

    But at the same time no one has “proved” otherwise either, or it would be “accepted knowledge”, which it is not. When Obi or anyone else says “the soul does not exist—it is proven”–all I can ask is show me the news story—-show me the facts.

  • 257. Joe  |  July 17, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    If you keep arguing about about how souls can’t be disproven

    Ubi—

    Believe me, if Obi hadn’t stated over and over that “it has been proven that the soul doesn’t exist” I wouldn’t even be arguing the point at all. I am using CAPS because apparently Obi is hard of hearing.

  • 258. Joe  |  July 17, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    Ubi—

    Just for once I’d like to see someone like Obi say “I misstated myself” or “You know what? I was wrong—there is no real “proof” that souls don’t exist”—there is large evidence for it—but I cannot state unequivocally that that is the case”.

    I swear—even something like that would remove all use of caps, and make for a nice discussion. But he insists that “he knows all” and once he’s said something it just has to be. A few others are like that in here too. And I get annoyed, but often laugh also—-because I realize that Obi and a few others are actually being more ‘close-minded” than the fundamentalists they accuse of doing the same. They are just too proud to admit that maybe what they are stating is not entirely correct. LOL

  • 260. Obi  |  July 17, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    Hmm, that was up with that formatting? Anyway, simply click on anywhere in the paragraph (…) to be linked to the article.

  • 261. Obi  |  July 17, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    Edit buttons should be implemented into these sites. That smiley was unintentional.

  • 262. john t.  |  July 17, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    Obi

    “Neuroscientists and biologists have identified quite a large amount of the neurotransmitters that trigger our emotions, and the areas of the brain that are active during periods of their expression”

    Ok now im waiting for the scientists to tell me what triggered the neurotransmitters to trigger our emotions. I wait breathlessly. lmao.

  • 263. Obi  |  July 17, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    john t. said, “Ok now im waiting for the scientists to tell me what triggered the neurotransmitters to trigger our emotions. I wait breathlessly. lmao.

    Electrical impulses triggered them, which were sent from the nerve cells in our sensory organs. For example, if you see something such as a couple kissing on a movie screen, the light will pass through the front of your eye, through the vitreous humour, and then become projected on your retina. Nerve cells then fire off, sending impulses to the visual cortex in your brain, where these signals are decoded, forming the visual image of the couple. Such actions start a cascade of reactions, which can lead to sexual stimulation (arousal), or even tears (sadness).

  • 264. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 17, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    John T.-

    The thing is, what started the chemical reaction in the first place?

    Probably some outside stimulus. For instance, watching a sunset. Your eyes send the data to your brain, which interprets it. The emotional center of your brain gets stimulated, and you experience whatever emotions you typically associate with watching beautiful sunsets. There’s obviously a lot more to it than that, the brain is an extremely complex organ. Trying to abstract from neurons firing up to experiencing emotion is difficult, and not fully understood. But we know it happens. It’s kinda like all the bits in your computer’s processor working together to display this blog, to run the operating system you are using, to convert your mp3s from data into sound. I fully believe we will some day create an artificial intelligence fully capable of experiencing emotions (of course, we need to be able to create an actual artificial intelligence first, which is still a long ways off).

    Joe-

    It has a computer system that can tell different parts of the car to do different things.

    What happens when the computer system in the car becomes so advanced that it doesn’t need a human driver? When the computer becomes capable of emotion and independent, rational thought?

    I have no problem with belief in an independent spirit (at least no more than with a belief in God), even one that continues on after our physical selves die. I don’t personally believe we have one, but it’s something that can be neither proved nor disproved. But your consciousness is most definitely in your brain. An easy example is people who suffer brain damage that completely alters their personalities. They become completely different people.

  • 265. John T.  |  July 17, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    Snuggly and Obi

    You are missing the point of what Im trying to say. I know all about the science, I own a wellness clinic. I know about action potential, sodium and potassium in relation to nerves and all that stuff. Well almost all, lol. Dont make me dig out my school books. What Im trying to say is eventually we get to the point that even science cant say what started it. That is why many people feel a call to spirituality.

    Snuggly

    by the way how old are you?

  • 266. Obi  |  July 17, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    John T. —

    We interpreted what you said as anyone else would. Don’t fault us for failing to “find the hidden meaning” that wasn’t there in the first place, mate. Regardless, attributing such things to spirituality is a mark of ignorance. Simply because we don’t know what happens in a certan line of events doesn’t mean we have to make the jump to spirituality/the divine — that’s something humans have been doing for thousands of years, and in each and every case it’s been shown to be completely naturalistic. Regardless, I don’t know exactly what you’re talking about when you say “even science can’t say what started it“, because the visual information pathway is fairly well understood. Are you speaking of something else?

  • 267. John T.  |  July 17, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    Obi

    You wouldnt be the first to call me ignorant lmao. I am speaking of what started it all. I know at one time atoms were the smallest, I believe now its what a quark or something? There will be another discovery that precedes those, but as of yet we still dont know the origin of all of matter as we see it. But Im sure math and logic and science will one day tell me, right Obi ;)

  • 268. Obi  |  July 17, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    John T. —

    Ah, after reading my post I see that I may have come off a bit too harsh, mate. I didn’t mean to call you ignorant like that, but I think you saw through it and caught the meaning of my post regardless.

    But can I ask you something, mate? Why do you think matter must have an origin? I think we can both agree that something must be without origin to avoid an infinite regression, but why can’t it simply be matter? The law of conservation of mass-energy tells us that mass-energy cannot be destroyed, and each and every day scientists are uncovering more and more about the Universe that explains things that were previously attributed to supernatural/spiritual/divine forces. Me, I see a trend playing itself out. Over the past few hundred years, we’ve seen science flourish and dispel myths regarding the causes of various phenomena — from volcanoes to the rising and setting of the Sun. Given this trend, why do you think that there’s still any room for the supernatural in our natural world?

    The reason I used the word “ignorance” is because from my observations, any defense of belief in the supernatural/divine/spiritual basically boils down to either of two logical fallacies — the argument from ignorance and the argument from personal incredulity, and I see that as extremely limiting of our ability to understand the world. I often see religious people saying “Science can’t explain this…” and “Science can’t explain that…”, and then plugging in their spirit/essence/deity of choice to explain these occurrences, only to have said occurrence explained latter, upon which instead of learning from this happening, they simply move on to the next area of ignorance and start the process all over agan. What I propose is that there are no supernatural/spiritual forces at work interefering with out Universe, it’s merely things we don’t understand yet. Thus, instead of “copping out” and “Godstopping” everything, we should focus our effort on learning more about the actual world around us that we know to exist, and in this process dispel all of the myths our ancestors crafted to explain it.

    That’s my opinion. What do you think?

  • 269. John T.  |  July 17, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    Obi

    Sticks and stones lol. When I was a kid I thought ignorant meant stupid, I now know that its “uninformed or lacking in knowledge.” I can testify to being ignorant in many things. There are things in my life that may one day be proven by some means or another, but the way “my” brain is wired, I see something greater than myself at work, a spirit if you will allow me that description. I cant quantify it but I can certainly sense it. Who knows, maybe it was the acid I did when I was 17 :) all I know is that in my mind its real. If the material world works for you and all your questions, far be it for me to try to dissuade you of that. I know the problem of Fundamenalists, they need everyone to believe what they believe. I dont, I like the fact that you think Im full of shit, thats what makes for great conversations. Just think about this one tonight or morning ;)

    Maybe logic and math and science is your God.

  • 270. Obi  |  July 17, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    John T. —

    Hmm, and science has something to say about that as well. The evolution of religion and belief in God(s) as a human construct is something that’s quite interesting to read about. Since humans have been developing religion and with religion for the past, say 50,000 years, some scientists posit that religious belief may indeed by “hard-wired” into our brains (as in, it’s genetic), which I find interesting — it would explain a lot, especially why religion is so prevalent in human society. I think that it’s a combination of both nature (genetics) and nurture (society and it’s constructs), since that’s how most, if not all psychological issues end up being.

  • 271. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 17, 2008 at 10:38 pm

    John T.

    I gave my age earlier, at the same time I stated I was male; I’m 23, just so you don’t have to go searching for it.

    I have no problem with a belief in spirituality, or God, or anything of that sort, as long as you don’t let it limit humanity’s search for answers (my mom once said something to the effect of “we shouldn’t do science and just let God reveal things to us”) or bring harm to others.

  • 272. John T.  |  July 17, 2008 at 10:44 pm

    snuggly and obi

    You guys are smart, damn freaking smart by what I read. I believe in evolution, science, math and all of what we see, touch, taste and feel. I just think there is a Driver for this vehicle we call the Universe. And I know sure as shit it aint me.

  • 273. Obi  |  July 17, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    John T. —

    Aye, mate…but let me pose some final rhetorical questions to you. Who taught the driver how to drive? And who taught that driver how to drive? It’s infinitely more reasonable to state that this Universe, this “vehicle” is on auto-pilot than it is to state that there is some mysterious, invisible, and intangible driver who needs no lessons to know how to drive.

  • 274. John T.  |  July 17, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    Obi

    “It’s infinitely more reasonable to state that this Universe, this “vehicle” is on auto-pilot than it is to state that there is some mysterious, invisible, and intangible driver who needs no lessons to know how to drive.”

    Possibly correct, just not necessarily “infinitely more reasonable”

  • 275. Obi  |  July 17, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    “A little bit more…”
    ;)

  • 276. John T.  |  July 17, 2008 at 11:09 pm

    ok…………

    You know the one thing about life. You can read all about it, kind of like reading about football, but you just dont know it until you get tackled. ;)

  • 277. Grant Dexter  |  July 18, 2008 at 1:43 am

    Way back in post #141. SnugglyBuffalo said:I have quite clearly stated that the universe is ordered. It is not reasonable or logical, however. Reason and logic are the domain of the mind. You are combining concepts that are not the same.

    Why are they not the same? We are capable of assessing the validity of arguments using loci that the universe also displays. A is never Not A works in our minds and also in reality. Yet we see no molecules associated with those facts. It is true that logic exists and it is also true that it is not physical. The statement that the world is nothing but matter in motion ignores these facts.

    The universe is ordered, as a result of the properties of the matter and energy that make it up. We construct logic around that observation of an ordered universe. I’ll keep saying it: logic, by its definition, is a method of reasoning, not a property of the universe as you are trying to make it out to be. You are confusing logic for the order of the universe.

    Logic necessarily follows the laws of the universe. If you wish to define logic as only residing inside a mind then you are simply creating redundancy to support your ideas. But then again even logic in the human mind is not physical. None of the five senses tell you something is logical. None of the electrical impulses verify the validity of premises. When we use logic we are utilising a property imbued into the universe. We are utilising the rational and ordered nature of reality. And we trust that assessment because we are logical people.

    Well, most of us are logical. Some people deny logic exists…

    Then you say finding A equals Not A is:

    Only as possible as the fundamental laws of the universe changing.

    Which defeats your whole division between the mind and the universe.

    But we do revise our logic based on new information about the universe. Look at the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. It doesn’t make much sense, and seems rather illogical. Before we began to understand quantum physics, it would have been judged an absurd and illogical concept. But we learned about quantum physics, and revised our logic to include it.

    Really? Which logical structures did we change? Did A used to equal Not A? And, by the way, the laws of the universe do not change just because we find something we don’t understand.

    Anyway, it’s becoming increasingly clear that you already have the idea of “non-physical things” existing in the universe, and the very idea that this might not be true is anathema to you.

    That’s true. I do not love based on the number of molecules that have lined up throughout history to make me do so. I do not choose based on an unknowable convergence of matter. I don’t feel heartache because certain objects have come into contact. It is pure silliness to insist that the universe is only a product of matter. I can see how such an idea might be anathema to you, but unfortunately all the evidence is on my side and all you have are re-definitions and blind observance of your preferences.

    It’s obvious that no one here thinks the universe is infused with some notion of morality (a fairly weak Christian platitude that I’m sure everyone here at least heard, if not believed, as Christians), whether they agree with my arguments on logic or not, so this whole discussion is rather pointless. Can we just let this discussion die?

    Uh .. OK. If you’re not interested then just let it go. I won’t respond to what you don’t post ;)

  • 278. Grant Dexter  |  July 18, 2008 at 2:03 am

    Richard – Wow, lots of conversation in the last 24 hours. Responding to #208 ;) :

    I am speaking from a foundationalist perspective (look it up). There are a lot of nuances that are being skated over, but for our purposes, here is what I am saying in simplest terms:
    (read my lips) Logic exists.

    Well, gosh! So your epistomology is axiomatic. I know you said that, but, wow! You aren’t even going to pretend that you have a logical reason for believing what you do? I think accepting the strawman would have been a better idea, mate ;)

    Notice there is no “because.” Thats what makes it foundational. Thats what we mean by an axiom. There is no “because.” So, if you think there is a contradiction somewhere in those two words, by all means elaborate.

    So you completely reject the idea that your source of knowledge has some logical reason. You expect us to accept on faith that what you say is true and rather than refusing to answer questions of why (like some might accuse a fundamentalist of) you insist there is no why. How does your alogical belief stack up against a logical source for logic like mine? I say that God exists and that God is logical therefore Logic exists (as a non-physical part of reality). That set of statements can be evaluated by logic and accepted or rejected. Yours cannot. My position is logical, yours is just a person demanding blind acceptance.

    Evidence for or against the existence of logic? Youre really over your head here, my friend. Logic is indeed *not* “tested against” reality. Praytell how one would construct such a test? Logic is that which allows us to interpret (and perform) all other tests. You do not gather “evidence” that logic exists or that it works. That has to be assumed for all other theory-construction to proceed and for all evidence to be weighed. Tell me, how would you evaluate the “evidence” for or against logic? Through logic?

    Of course! If I wanted to understand the source of logic of course I would want to be logical about it! That you do not is your problem and evidence against the validity of your ideas, not mine!

    You can construct a test for logic by proposing a few premises. Premise A: There is a God. Premise B: The universe is logical. Etc. C: Logic is not axiomatic. After that you use logic to test logic. Simple.

    Feel free to try your own :)

    So you say our use of logic is evidence that there is a logic to the universe? I agree. Thats pretty much what I said. I did not say the universe was not rational. I said it was not moral. That difference is much of your confusion.

    You said it was not moral which was supported by your statement that the world is nothing but “matter in motion”. I pointed out that logic is not physical which means in order to give support to your statement about morality you also have to invent ideas about other things.

    We’ve seen the illogical roots of your views on logic. We’re yet to see how you deal with other non-physical entities like love, pain, authority and will. To name a few.

  • 279. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 18, 2008 at 2:44 am

    Read post 210, Grant. I’m willing to revise my argument and say that logic exists, though I still say it exists as a product of the universe.

    I say that God exists and that God is logical therefore Logic exists (as a non-physical part of reality).

    Interesting. Did God create logic? Was God logical before he created logic? Or does logic exist as something apart from God, as some non-physical thing outside of him?

    Regardless, this argument is not logical because it begs the question. We have to assume that logic exists to accept the premise that God is logical.

  • 280. John Morales  |  July 18, 2008 at 6:07 am

    <cough>

    Sorry guys, but what are you on about?

    Logic is the term for a system comprised of a formal inference system and rules of inference.

    Are you talking about…
    A formal or an informal logic?
    A propositional logic?
    A predicate logic?
    A modal logic?
    A first or greater order logic?
    Intuitionistic logic?
    etc etc – that’s ignoring the mathematical logics such as boolean or fuzzy.

    All these logics are all man-made; most in the last couple of hundred years.

    They happen to correspond to reality because it would’ve been damn stupid to develop formalisms to investigate reality that don’t correspond.

    But to say logic is part of nature is like saying language is a part of nature. Yeah, it is, but it’s a man-made tool for communication in the same way logic is a man-made tool for reasoning.
    There are many languages, just like there are many logics – both English and Chinese help you communicate, as both predicate and propositional logics help you reason.
    And sure, at bottom, you could communicate non-verbally just as you could reason non-formally – but not particularly well or effectively except for very limited domains.

    I think all this talk of “the source” of logic is rewarmed Platonic idealism. It’s pretty old hat and has been discussed ad-nauseam. And it ain’t gonna convince anyone who bothers to read up on it and has a skerrick of intellectual honesty.

    PS Grant, enlighten me: how much do you know about logic? Had any formal training?
    Because it sure looks like you don’t have a clue.

  • 281. John Morales  |  July 18, 2008 at 6:16 am

    Sigh. I garbled that when condensing my comment.
    Try again…

    Logic is the term for a system comprised of a formal language and an deductive system (inference rules + axioms).

    Other than that glaring error, the comment stands.

  • 282. Grant Dexter  |  July 18, 2008 at 6:54 am

    SnugglyBuffalo’s post 210I’m willing to revise my argument and say that logic exists, though I still say it exists as a product of the universe.

    I look at it this way (I don’t agree with your conclusions from #210): If there is no logic then reality becomes meaningless. But life does exist and that life deems logic as necessary. So to think of the same physical universe only without life as being devoid of logic seems highly illogical to me. I assume you don’t agree with my conclusion here, but given that we have no means of testing the idea I remain incapable of showing anything further.

    But the key to this problem is that the evidence all points to logic pervading every aspect of the universe. There is no evidence to say that logic does not exist just because there is nobody to perceive of it.

    Interesting. Did God create logic? Was God logical before he created logic? Or does logic exist as something apart from God, as some non-physical thing outside of him?

    I would say that logic is an attribute of God. God is uncreated, eternally existing from past to future. So logic was not created and could not exist without God.

    I think this attribute is under-appreciated by the Christian community who prefer stop-gap answers to the difficult questions. Christians usually point to God’s omnipotence and “outside of time” attributes to dodge certain issues. Those attributes have little or no scriptural support whereas God being logical (The Word was God) is easily supported.

    Regardless, this argument is not logical because it begs the question. We have to assume that logic exists to accept the premise that God is logical.

    The premises are that God exists and is logical. From that we can use logic to derive all sorts of truths about the universe and our place in it. It is not begging the question to make assertions and test them with logic.

    John Morales:

    You need some Lemsip, mate?

    Sorry guys, but what are you on about?

    Logic. I can sense how you would be lost…. ;)

    Logic is the term for a system comprised of a formal inference system and rules of inference.

    I just want to know if the universal truth that A is never Not A has any meaning. Do you think A is never Not A or are you prepared to admit that you think one day A could be Not A?

    If you think A is always Not A then you must surely admit that it will be so regardless of the presence of humans and their ability to recognise such truths. If you admit that one day A could be Not A then you are an idiot.

    Simple enough for you?

    PS Grant, enlighten me: how much do you know about logic? Had any formal training? Because it sure looks like you don’t have a clue.

    Yes.

  • 283. John Morales  |  July 18, 2008 at 7:29 am

    Grant, you’re a wanker and not worth spending my time on.

    Go pray yourself.

  • 284. John Morales  |  July 18, 2008 at 7:39 am

    re:

    Do you think A is never Not A or are you prepared to admit that you think one day A could be Not A?

    For the rest of you, there are trivalent logics and up (true, false, unknown) where A = ~A for A=unknown.

    Just in case you thought the fool had a point.

  • 285. John Morales  |  July 18, 2008 at 8:21 am

    I can’t help it. I choose to waste time pointing out the dishonesty of the fool:

    280. John Morales | July 18, 2008 at 6:07 am

    280. John Morales | July 18, 2008 at 6:07 am
    Logic is the term for a system comprised of a formal inference system and rules of inference.

    281. John Morales | July 18, 2008 at 6:16 am
    Sigh. I garbled that when condensing my comment.
    Try again…
    Logic is the term for a system comprised of a formal language and an deductive system (inference rules + axioms).
    Other than that glaring error, the comment stands.

    Then the fool figures we’re like him and quotes my clearly acknowledged and corrected error for his rhetorical (the fool thinks) coup de grâce – with a bonus snide comment to complement the pseudo-smarm.

    Logic. I can sense how you would be lost….

    Logic is the term for a system comprised of a formal inference system and rules of inference.

    Fool.

  • 286. John Morales  |  July 18, 2008 at 8:58 am

    [meta]
    To everyone, yes I know only a fool argues with a fool. But someone has to point things out so that even the fool gets it. If I’m over the line, I will be told so and desist. But I think honest, straight talk without cultural cringing is not outside the spirit of this forum.

    I, too, am a fool.

    So what? At least I’m intelligent and can stop being a fool when I choose to.

    More importantly, I know I’m being a fool.
    [/meta]

    I feel I may have been uncharitable – one should not attribute to malice and all that.

    It’s pretty clear the fool didn’t even consider my statement. He might well not have seen my correction before he posted or even noticed there was a difference at all – I can only imagine how he labors over expressing himself and how long it takes. The time-stamps allow for that.

    So, I might have been premature in calling him dishonest for misquoting me; instead, I’ll just point out he’s dishonest for not even addressing my contentions, and arrogant for assuming he has half-a-clue as to what logic is and can grandiosely dismiss me.

    Feel free to correct me, fool.

  • 287. John T.  |  July 18, 2008 at 9:04 am

    John M.

    I think you need to chill a little. You need to come by our clinic for a massage ;)

  • 288. John Morales  |  July 18, 2008 at 9:07 am

    No worries, John T. I’m pretty much giggling as I post these, I’m following the PZ cracker furore and spending most of my internet time there.

    I think truth machine may be rubbing off on me.

  • 289. Grant Dexter  |  July 18, 2008 at 9:09 am

    John. You’ve just spent three posts telling me I’m not worth talking to. I find that highly illogical behaviour….

  • 290. John Morales  |  July 18, 2008 at 9:38 am

    Grant, sure you do. How feeble is that?

    Calling it as it is is hardly illogical, especially when I get to feel virtuous at the same time.

    Try again.

  • 291. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 18, 2008 at 11:08 am

    The premises are that God exists and is logical. From that we can use logic to derive all sorts of truths about the universe and our place in it. It is not begging the question to make assertions and test them with logic.

    I clearly point out how you are begging the question, and you still deny it? You have formal training in logic? I find that incredibly hard to believe.

    Your premise that God is logical already assumes the conclusion, that logic exists. That is begging the question. It is a classic example of that logical fallacy. I agree, “It is not begging the question to make assertions and test them with logic,” but it is begging the question when your conclusion is also one of your premises.

    If there is no logic then reality becomes meaningless.

    I will agree that logic is intrinsically tied to the universe. You can’t have the absence of logic in the universe. But again, I say logic is a product of the universe, not the other way around. I will admit that this is more a matter of opinion than fact, but it is no less valid than the one you put forward, and does not contradict a universe of purely matter and energy. Given the lack of evidence for God, I’d say it’s the more plausible explanation.

    Finally, a random thought. In quantum physics, is it possible for A = -A to be true? You can have a particle with both a clockwise and counterclockwise “spin” at the same time. Like Schroedinger’s cat being both alive and dead. I guess A and -A are still not equivalent, but it is possible for A and -A to both be true. This has no real relevance to the discussion, but I’m curious as to others’ thoughts on it.

  • 292. ubi dubium  |  July 18, 2008 at 11:43 am

    Oooh, Oooh, as long as we are getting into logic, I need to throw in some Godel here! (Has anybody else read Godel, Escher, Bach?)

    Let’s suppose your A is “The set of all true statements”. Then your ~A becomes “The set of all false statements”. Now what do you do with this?

    “This sentence is false”

    It’s undecidable. It’s sort of both, and sort of neither. So now you have A, ~A, and also some fuzzy area in between A and ~A. No matter how well you refine your rules for deciding what statements are true, and what statements are false, you will always have an area that is frustratingly undecidable.

    And I remember in quantum the math was very strange. For instance, in regular math

    X*Y always equals Y*X (The commutative property. I’ll call this “A”)

    But in quantum mechanics the commutative property no longer holds.

    X*Y does not always equal Y*X (so this sounds like “~A”)

    So A and ~A are both true, depending on what scale you are looking at.

    And I like the example of Shrodingers cat – existing in a combined state of being both alive and dead until you actually observe it and its waveform collapses into being definitely one or the other. It’s a good metaphor for the way subatomic particles actually behave. Are they waves or are they particles? The answer: “Yes!”

  • 293. ubi dubium  |  July 18, 2008 at 11:44 am

    Sorry – those smileys are supposed to be parentheses. Can we have a preview button please, de-Convert?

  • 294. Grant Dexter  |  July 18, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    SnugglyBuffalo. Those premises I suggested did not have any of the previous conclusions I may have referred to necessarily attached to them. If we presume that God exists and that He is logical then there are many conclusions we could derive that would explain the universe. For one it would explain why the universe is ordered and logical and why people can relate to that order.

    I did not think anyone was going to seriously suggest that logic does not exist in order for me to need to prove it. And, as you suggest, I cannot use logic to prove that logic exists. All I can do is presuppose that it does. Fortunately I have a logical source for logic, namely God. Richard on the other hand does not.

  • 295. John T.  |  July 18, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    Grant

    “Fortunately I have a logical source for logic, namely God”

    Now Grant, this begs the question, whos rendition of God is the Logical one?

  • 296. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 18, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    Those premises I suggested did not have any of the previous conclusions I may have referred to necessarily attached to them.

    And now you engage in moving the goalposts. You clearly said that God exists and is logical, therefore logic exists. That statement begs the question.

    If we presume that God exists and that He is logical then there are many conclusions we could derive that would explain the universe. For one it would explain why the universe is ordered and logical and why people can relate to that order.

    Unfortunately, your conclusions only hold up as long as we are assuming God’s existence. Since that premise has no support, all your conclusions that are drawn from it fail.

    Fortunately I have a logical source for logic, namely God. Richard on the other hand does not.

    You’re begging the question again. You cannot have a logical source for logic, because you have to assume the conclusion of logic’s existence to make the premise of a logical source. Richard’s source for logic is the natural universe, that it’s axiomatic. He does not beg the question in his assertion of logic’s existence. He is far more logical than you.

  • 297. Joe  |  July 18, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    Read It’s rather well written and should help you understand a bit more. Oh and by the way Joe if you don’t mind me asking, what level of education have you attained in your life? As in, are you university educated?

    Obi—

    I appreciate the article. But John T.Goss is wrting his opinion on this. What I was stating, and continue to state is that you were saying it is a “proven fact” that there is no soul. I still have to agree with that. P.S. Why should education concern you? You say you only just turned 17 and already KNOW all the answers. LOL

  • 298. Joe  |  July 18, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    I still have to agree with that

    LOL—I meant “disagree”.

  • 299. Joe  |  July 18, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    I am a latecomer to this conversation, but I would like to toss my hat in.

    Richard—-Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. I appreciate your clearly answering the question I posed. I missed your post #209, and just read through it now. Though I do not agree with some of the answers you gave, your clearly defined, and HONEST answer is really refreshing—-I wish I had seen it and read it yesterday. I believe this was an honest response, and I really appreciate it. Thanks for answering the personal question I was asking without treating it in a mocking manner, and then intelligently rebutting it. Though I don’t agree with your rebuttal in a lot of things. LOL

    Thanks, Joe

  • 300. Joe  |  July 18, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    The issue is that it is a deeply, and indeed viciously, *immoral* idea – infinite torment for finite failings.

    Richard—–

    I do not understand hell—I really don’t. But I do know that Jesus taught it. I understand your disgust for a concept that one could suffer eternally for a finite life. There are things in this short life that are like that on a much smaller scale. When someone young, in one unthinking moment, sticks their hand into a bandsaw, and loses a hand for life, we think “One tiny error and he has to pay for it for the rest of his life!!”

    This is just an example from this short life, and cannot correlate with eternity, and I fully realize that. I am just saying there are many things that don’t seem to make sense to us, even in THIS LIFE.

    As I said, I do not understand hell—-but I cannot cast away my faith because of something I do not understand. I know that I have been given the opportunity (and taken up the offer) to escape that place—and I don’t want to be fool enough to reject the offer just because I feel the alternative is “unfair” and don’t understand the concept of it.

    I am a bit “unorthodox” in stating that I don’t believe the ALL the holocaust Jews went to hell (of course I don’t know all of them, and just because you are in a concentration camp doesn’t necessarily mean a FEW of them might not have been murderers, or rapists or killers before they were sent there).

    But the MAJORITY of the Jews in those camps were good people I am sure, and suffered horrible crimes against them. I do not have a divine mind, so I cannot judge such things. God has an “eathly” people—the Jews—and he has a “Heavenly” people—Christians (I am speaking in an “orthodox” manner on that subject of course). Will God send his “earthly” people to hell for not believing in Jesus? I personally don’t think so. I know I am just speaking of the Jews here—-but I don’t think so.

    But on the subject of hell itself—-I do not know the answers—and cannot pretend to—-all I ask someone who has such a great concern about it is “Have you heard the Gospel? Do you yourself have a way to avoid going there? Yes—you do–and so does everyone else who has heard the message—and we really don’t know to what extent that message has been given. In other words, don’t become “lost” and reject a message that could “save” you, just because you don’t understand a concept or feel it is “unfair”. ACCEPT CHRIST and keep believing—then call hell unfair all you want to.

  • 301. Obi  |  July 18, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    Joe said, “I appreciate the article. But John T.Goss is wrting his opinion on this. What I was stating, and continue to state is that you were saying it is a “proven fact” that there is no soul. I still have to agree with that. P.S. Why should education concern you? You say you only just turned 17 and already KNOW all the answers. LOL

    His opinion backed up with researched facts. I’m assuming you glossed over the works he cited in his bibliography? The fact of the matter is that the “soul” as defined by most people as “the self-aware essence, or consciousness, unique to a particular living being” has been thoroughly disproved by advancements in neuroscience, biology, and psychology. Our consciousness and “self” are rooted in our physical brains, leaving no room for spiritual “essences”. Full stop. Period. That’s seriously the end of it, mate. However as I was saying before, if you’re thinking of a different definition of soul, please present it so that we may discuss it, even though I doubt there even are definitions of soul that are substantially different from the most commonly used one.

    Oh, and your level of education was just a simple matter of curiosity to me, because I was somewhat surprised at a few of the things you appeared to know little about. Hopefully you should have realized by now that age is by no means an indicator of superior intellectual capacity, as the discussions between you and I have made so glaringly obvious. Also, on no occasion did I state that I “knew all the answers”, so your misrepresentations and fabrications certainly don’t phase me.

  • 302. Joe  |  July 18, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    The fact of the matter is that the “soul” as defined by most people as “the self-aware essence, or consciousness, unique to a particular living being” has been thoroughly disproved by advancements in neuroscience, biology, and psychology.

    Well Obi, there you go again. You say it has been “thoroughly disproved” and that is not true.

    Our consciousness and “self” are rooted in our physical brains, leaving no room for spiritual “essences”. Full stop. Period. That’s seriously the end of it, mate.

    No–it is not the end of it Obi. You presented one article, by one “researcher”—-when you are able to post a News Article from an established news source that says difinitively “ScientIsts PROVE their is no soul” or “SCIENTISTS PROVE THE SELF IS LOCATED IN THE BRAIN” then I will say “You know what Obi you’re right—it’s a proven fact. But so far the only “fact” I am hearing is YOUR INSISTENCE that it is true——sorry, but that is not enough to go on, mate.

    Hopefully you should have realized by now that age is by no means an indicator of superior intellectual capacity, as the discussions between you and I have made so glaringly obvious.

    Yes it has—a 17 year old who uses big words is not necessarily a relevant indicator of “real” intelligence—anyone can sound intellgent with a little practice, as our exchanges have made this abundantly clear.

  • 303. Joe  |  July 18, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    Obi—

    I’m not sure why you insist on berating people, until they “come back” at you. Read your last post, and the condescending, insulting manner you use:

    Hopefully you should have realized by now that age is by no means an indicator of superior intellectual capacity, as the discussions between you and I have made so glaringly obvious.

    Why do you address people in this manner? Richard was able to both answer, and rebutt my question, in a very intelligent manner without resorting to personal insults or mockery. You often misunderstand questions (though you appear to feel you are extremely intelligent) and begin a conflict with somone as a result. You will then INSIST they are completely wrong, and what they are saying is COMPLETELY WRONG, and make a statement such as “That’s the way it is mate, get over it” (paraphrase)—as though because you say it, it must be so.

    This is no way to go about having a conversation with someone you disagree with, and I have an exceedingly hard time trying to converse with you. You may be intelligent about science, but your intelligence about common ettiquette is seriously lacking.

  • 304. Obi  |  July 18, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    Joe —

    Weren’t you the person who was stating before that the de-converts here were too “sensitive” to your attempts at sarcasm and humour? Take my condescending manner of speaking to you in a way similar to how you recommended others to take your supposed “humour”. Even if I do think you’re an old, ignorant, and uneducated fool, you shouldn’t take everything so seriously! I could just be kidding, after all.

    And yes, most “anyone” could train themselves to sound intelligent, and if so, perhaps you should begin doing so post-haste, because perhaps it could make you look somewhat less stupid and ignorant regarding the subjects you’re challenging me on. Your acceptance of the facts that I lay in front of you has no impact on the way I live my life, because I’m doing perfectly fine already. I only subject myself to dealing with you continuously because I find it somewhat entertaining to “play around” with you and see how you fumble around attempting to communicate in an intelligble manner. If I was looking for intellectual gain, I would have sought elsewhere before resorting to talking to you; for example, a Dr. Seuss book.

    All “insults” aside however, there are still many things that neuroscientists do not know and are working to find out about the human brain and how it works and produces the sensations, thoughts, and memories that we experience in every day life. I’d recommend that if you’re truly interested in increasing your knowledge that you perhaps subscribe to the Journal of Neuroscience, and keep yourself up-to-date on scientific developments.

    Here’s a link to their site: http://www.jneurosci.org/
    Also, here’s a link to another story covering consciousness that I found a more enjoyable read: http://health.usnews.com/usnews/health/articles/061015/23soul.htm

  • 305. Joe  |  July 18, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    Weren’t you the person who was stating before that the de-converts here were too “sensitive” to your attempts at sarcasm and humour? Take my condescending manner of speaking to you in a way similar to how you recommended others to take your supposed “humour”. Even if I do think you’re an old, ignorant, and uneducated fool, you shouldn’t take everything so seriously! I could just be kidding, after all.

    One difference—-when I mention “sensitivity” I am referring when I make a “blanket” statement rearding everyone here, of sarcasm or humour. You on a regular basis, and Leo (when pushed to far) seem to be the only one’s that attack people “personally”—-so what is the result? You are attacked back on a personal basis.

    LOL—look at how you talk to people on a regular basis:

    And yes, most “anyone” could train themselves to sound intelligent, and if so, perhaps you should begin doing so post-haste, because perhaps it could make you look somewhat less stupid and ignorant regarding the subjects you’re challenging me on.

    What a condescending way to talk. From now on I am just going to ignore your posts. You are one of those people who think they have the full right to demean anyone , because their superior intellect gives them that right somehow.

    As I said before, and will repeat, you can be an extremely intelligent person and not have a shred of wisdom. You fit that bill to a tee.

  • 306. Joe  |  July 18, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    You fit that bill to a tee.

    LOL—-I just made that up.

  • 307. Obi  |  July 18, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Joe —

    Where did this tameness spring from all of a sudden? Are you too busy limping around and licking your wounds to be “sarcastic Joe” anymore? It seems you’ve unleashed the malicious “spirit” in me, and I find it so very pleasing that you’re backing down now and choosing to ignore me instead of lashing out like you used to. Is it too much for you to handle, you simple-minded fool?

    LOL LOL LOL LOL
    Isn’t that how all of the mature 52-year-olds speak these days? By using meaningless and utterly asinine instant messaging acronyms?

  • 308. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 18, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Joe-

    No–it is not the end of it Obi. You presented one article, by one “researcher”—-when you are able to post a News Article from an established news source that says difinitively “ScientIsts PROVE their is no soul” or “SCIENTISTS PROVE THE SELF IS LOCATED IN THE BRAIN” then I will say “You know what Obi you’re right—it’s a proven fact. But so far the only “fact” I am hearing is YOUR INSISTENCE that it is true——sorry, but that is not enough to go on, mate.

    An article in an established news source is very weak proof of anything. At most I would demand an article in a peer-reviewed scientific journal demonstrating that the soul has been disproved. Even then, I doubt this is going to happen; scientists have no interest in determining if there’s a soul or not, because all the other studies indicate it’s not there. Scientists might as well try to disprove gravity, at this point.

    Go to PubMed and do a search on “consciousness” and “brain” and you’ll come up with thousands of articles. There’s no one study that disproves the soul, but there are thousands of studies that indicate all the parts of the soul are proved to be in the brain.

    And I’ll clarify again that this is different from some sort of eternal, supernatural spirit, which is completely untestable.

  • 309. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 18, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    And Obi, Joe can we please not let this devolve into a back-and-forth of personal attacks? You should both be above that.

  • 310. John T.  |  July 18, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    Obi and Snuggly

    Im curious, would you say you guys are happy and content in life?

  • 311. John T.  |  July 18, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    Joe

    If you want an interesting read on punishment and the eternity in hell idea, read “The inescapble love of God” by Thomas Talbott

  • 312. Joe  |  July 18, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    307 The real person emerges. The Incredible Hulk comes out of his intellectual shell. LOL

  • 313. Joe  |  July 18, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    Snuggly—

    The argument can go on and on. All I am saying (for the 151st time possibly) is you can’t say something is an absolutely disproven fact when that is not the case. I cannot say the soul exists as a “proven fact”—I can INSIST it is the case due to my beliefs—-but If I did so I would be spouting an untruth–because the soul has never been “proved” and I know that. To try to say it is “fact” that it does NOT exist would be equally dishonest.

    –Joe

  • 314. Obi  |  July 18, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    Snuggly —

    I simply enjoy seeing his reactions. I’m merely toying around with him, but it seems that even that goes over his head.

    Joe —

    Come on mate, lighten up and see the humour in things! Goodness, you Christians are so uptight and sensitive about all of this. Perhaps I should change my name to “the Big Bad Wolf” so I can devour Grandma Honeybutter, eh?

  • 315. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 18, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    John T.

    Completely happy and content? No. But I’m at least as happy, if not happier, than when I was a Christian.

    The only real sources of unhappiness in my life at this moment are completely non-spiritual: no girlfriend, some of my friends are moving away or planning to within a year, some mild dissatisfaction with my job (which I’m hoping to change soon), and the anxiety I feel when I realize that I’ll have to tell my family about my de-conversion at some point. All but this last one I felt before my de-conversion, too.

    But I don’t feel any spiritual emptyness. To be honest, even as a Christian I never really thought of myself as spiritual. I believed in God, I prayed, but I did these things because I thought Christianity was the truth, not because I felt some spiritual need.

    In a big picture sense, though, I’d say that, yes, I am happy and content with my life. I’m a really laid-back person, so I’m fine taking the mild dissatisfactions in stride and still being happy with my life overall.

  • 316. ubi dubium  |  July 18, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    Now, now boys, settle down and play nice. This argument’s gone on much too long, and now it’s getting personal.

    So Obi, will you please acknowledge that there is a possibility (however vanishingly small) of the existence of something totally unmeasurable that fits Joe’s concept of soul? You don’t have to believe that there is one, only admit that the probability is non-zero. One of the most important parts of being a thinking person is that you should always leave open the possibility that you could be mistaken.

    And Joe, will you please promise not to shout anymore, or tease Obi about his age?

    And will you both stop it with the personal attacks? Thank you.

    Sigh. Even on the internet, I’m still the Mom.

  • 317. John T.  |  July 18, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    Ubi

    Thats better than being called a “mother” ;)

  • 318. Obi  |  July 18, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    ubi —

    There’s no need to play the role of the “mother”, I think I can handle myself just fine, mate. I was merely introducing my brand of humour to Joe. However regarding the existence of the soul, I give it the same “possibility of existence” as I give Helios, the Greek god of the Sun and sky who pulled the Sun along in the sky every day using his chariot and flaming horses, as well as all other gods, goddesses, creatures, spirits, and entities fabricated by the human imagination. That is to say, none.

    I realize that you aren’t even arguing with me on this issue, but certainly you can see why I do not even wish to entertain this foolish superstition regarding the existence of the human “soul”? Any and all sensations and thoughts we experience with our minds are the products of electrochemical reactions in our brain. For example, if we had a soul that was the seat of consciousness, would drugs that induce hallucinations such as LSD even have any effects on our perceived consciousness? Would anti-depressants that influence emotions work? Would anaesthetics works to momentarily stop sensory perception? Would partial brain lobotomies produce drastic changes in the behaviour patterns of people, such as in the accidental case of Phineas Gage?

    The answer to all of these questions is a resounding “no”, because by definition that which is immaterial cannot be influenced by the material, or it wouldn’t be immaterial in the first place. This, combined with the complete lack of evidence for such an essence in the first place, leads me to the conclusion that it is a product of the human imagination. I don’t think I’m being overly presumptuous when I state that holding on to a belief in the soul is the result of stupid human tenacity, and not any reasonable belief.

  • 319. Joe  |  July 18, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    So Obi, will you please acknowledge that there is a possibility (however vanishingly small) of the existence of something totally unmeasurable that fits Joe’s concept of soul? You don’t have to believe that there is one, only admit that the probability is non-zero. One of the most important parts of being a thinking person is that you should always leave open the possibility that you could be mistaken.

    Ubi–

    That’s all I’ve asked for since the beginning. Thank you.

    And Joe, will you please promise not to shout anymore, or tease Obi about his age?

    And will you both stop it with the personal attacks? Thank you.

    No problem. Thanks Mom!! :>)

  • 320. Joe  |  July 18, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    One of the most important parts of being a thinking person is that you should always leave open the possibility that you could be mistaken.

    Ubi—

    Thank you for saying that so very much. The only time I get infuriated on this board (and I’m sorry for getting that way) is when someone takes a stand that something “is so” all based on their “own insistence”, and calls it “fact”. If they leave open the possibility that they “could be wrong” it shows so much more honesty. Thanks again. All I can say as a christian–using hell for example—is “I believe it exists because Jesus says so”—but I will not state adamantly that it is there and that it is a “proven fact”, because I know I cannot do that. I have to admit that “I don’t know” —others here, though using completely logical means are willing to do the same—-to me that is a true sign of real intelligence. I will address others on the board from now on, and avoid what I know leads to unreasonable conflict.

  • 321. ubi dubium  |  July 18, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    Obi –

    It’s just that when you come down as 100% sure about something its too easy to sound closed-minded. Considering all the scientific evidence linking our selves to what is chemically going on in our brains, I’d put myself at 99.999% sure about the non-existence of souls. Even though I don’t expect to see any evidence to change my mind, I have to leave open the possiblity that there could conceivably be some out there.

    Any scientific hypothesis which is not “falsifiable” needs to chucked out. Each piece of evidence, each study, may bring you nearer to that 100% certainty. Near enough to 100% that for all practical purposes we can treat it as 100% in our daily lives. But that tiny shred of “I could be wrong” needs to remain for us to remain intellectually honest.

    Besides, the god-bots that show up and “drive-by preach” at us say they are 100% sure of themselves, and you don’t want to sound like them!

  • 322. ubi dubium  |  July 18, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    Thanks, Joe. You can have an extra cookie now. Don’t forget to brush your teeth!

  • 323. Joe  |  July 18, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    I have to clarify a bit of what I said above. I cannot prove Hell exists using “logical” means. I “believe” it does—-and I may be “insistent” that it does–from that perspective. But if you ask me to “prove” it does using physical or natural means, I know I cannot do that.

  • 324. Joe  |  July 18, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    Thanks, Joe. You can have an extra cookie now. Don’t forget to brush your teeth!

    That’s funny! I saw this cartoon once that showed a place called
    “MOM’S DINER”—the waitress is standing beside one of the patrons at the table and is shouting “EAT YOUR PEAS!!”

  • 325. Obi  |  July 18, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    ubi —

    Are you 99.999% sure that the Sun is in the sky right now? You’re giving Joe the false impression that he could be right, which I think is (1) Rather dangerous when it comes to people who behave like he does and (2) Intellectually dishonest. I’m very familiar with philosophy of science, so I need no lessons on Popper’s ideas regarding falsifiability, but this isn’t regarding so much a theory, but observations. We see clear evidence showing us that the idea of a soul was a key part of early animistic religions and their mythologies, and has no evidence supporting it in reality, but it has mountains of evidence against it. Are you really going to say that “Oh, it’s a possibility”, when it really isn’t? I’d rather round off that 99.999% to 100%, instead of going around and believing that fizzing soda isn’t caused by carbon dioxide bubbles but by invisible and intangible 12th dimensional fairies sneezing, simply because it hasn’t been proven completely wrong.

  • 326. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 18, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    Ubi-

    Near enough to 100% that for all practical purposes we can treat it as 100% in our daily lives. But that tiny shred of “I could be wrong” needs to remain for us to remain intellectually honest.

    I agree in principle. But in practice, humans don’t really work this way. Scientists consider the Theory of Relativity a fact, and I would say the soul as the product of our brains is a fact in the same vein. There’s a tiny chance that we’re wrong about the soul, but it’s about as likely as us being wrong about relativity; at worst there might be revisions to the view, but it’s terribly unlikely it will ever change completely. To admit that the non-existence of a soul as a separate entity is not a proved fact is disingenuous. To do that, we must admit all scientific theories are not proved facts.

    That’s the problem Obi seems to have, and I agree with him. There’s that tiny sliver of a chance that we’re mistaken, I freely admit that, but it’s so minuscule that we can safely ignore it and call our statements fact, as science must do for all “facts”.

    Obi-

    I was merely introducing my brand of humour to Joe.

    C’mon, that’s bullshit and you know it. There’s no need for that kind of “humor.” We’re all capable of behaving like mature adults here.

  • 327. Obi  |  July 18, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    ubi —

    Oh, and I disagree with that comment about sounding closed-minded. One can speak certainly about how Santa Claus and leprachauns don’t exist, but when it comes to silly religious ideas and superstitions that people hold close to themselves, one is “closed-minded” for speaking using clearly observable facts and drawing from tested hypotheses. It puts a bad taste in my mouth.

  • 328. Obi  |  July 18, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    Snuggly said, “C’mon, that’s bullshit and you know it. There’s no need for that kind of “humor.” We’re all capable of behaving like mature adults here.

    The original sentence you quoted contained had the word “humour” in italics, I thought that would have conveyed the sarcasm and slyness of the statement a bit more clearly.

  • 329. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 18, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    I figured you were just British or something :P

  • 330. Joe  |  July 18, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    16th century doctor to associate: “Why are you giving that patient herbs? It is a proven fact that “bleeding” the patient will cure him much faster.”

    Other doctor: “Yes, good God man, there is scientific proof that “bleeding” this man will help to cure his ailment.

    Associate: “Are you sure? Is it possible you’re wrong? Could there be a chance this is the wrong disgnosis?”

    Doctor: “We’re talking science my good man!! Are you going to doubt the tests and research of doctors in this field??? Now, cut open his arm and start bleeding him immediately!!!

  • 331. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 18, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Oh, also, I realized it was sarcastic, I still call bullshit on it. Hence my quotation marks around “humor” when I quoted it.

  • 332. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 18, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    Bleeding people was about as scientifically sound as homeopathy.

    Anyway, as I said, we’re as likely to reverse the view of the non-existence of a separate soul as fact as we are to reverse our view of relativity. For all practical purposes, it is a fact. The only way to argue otherwise is to be needlessly pedantic, at which point there are no facts. There’s a sliver of a chance that the entire universe came into existence 3 seconds ago, and that it will end 3 seconds after I finish typing this comment. For all practical purposes, we can ignore that possibility.

  • 333. Joe  |  July 18, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    One of the most important parts of being a thinking person is that you should always leave open the possibility that you could be mistaken.

    Ubi—

    By the way, I mentioned several times in my posts, that someone can be extremely intelligent, but not be very wise. There is quite a difference between intelligence and wisdom. The above statemnet is a wise statement. Mom’s are usually pretty “wise” because often what appears to be the “reasonable” answer to a family problem is not the one that “really” solves it.

  • 334. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 18, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    C’mon, we’re less than 100 posts away from setting a new record for longest thread on this blog.

    Follow the dream!
    Don’t let the flame die out!

  • 335. Joe  |  July 18, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1282/is_n12_v46/ai_15544276

    When I read this article—-and there are many more examples—
    (by the way, the book is written by a Nobel prize winner who does believe the soul is simply chemical impulses) I see no “proof” whatsoever that anyone has concluded that his “hypothesis” is correct. The book reviewer asks some very good questions which seem to refute the idea in several ways. I know he is just a reviewer—-but I bring this up because it shows there is still much “argument” over whether a soul exists—-even “scientific argument”—there is no “finality” to any hypothesis given on the subject. It is no where close to 99.999% certain as is being postulated. I am going to search for more articles on this.

    As I stated in another post, I recently saw a program on the Discovery channel where scientists were investigating the possibility of the soul, and investigating near death experiences—-the show was very fair—-it had scientists who think everything is chemically induced—-but there are other “scientists”—(especially physicians who have seen some of these experiences, or heard the tales) who do not think the investigation is over by far—-and are doing their own clinical studies. Ubi is very wise (even if she totally agrees a soul does not exist) to leave open the possibility of such a thing—-some scientists are—why shouldn’t we?

  • 336. Obi  |  July 18, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    Joe —

    The only difference(s) between that and now is that (1)we’ve experienced an incredible advancement in all fields of technology, and we can directly observe the effects of different variables, and eliminate most, if not all interfering factors and (2) we have much more advanced codes of conduct in modern science, that emphasize repetition and objectivity. We’ve developed statistical measures that can objectively measure the potency of a specific drug in multiple trials, and other things of the sort. Science today is worlds ahead of those practices in the 16th century, as is evidenced by the fact that we can accomplish things such as brain and heart surgery. Such feats wouldn’t be possible without extremely in-depth understandings of the functions of said organs (and any other organ, machine, process, or what have you) so your comparison fails.

    On a related note, we’ve seen that spiritual/supernatural explanations for natural phenomena such as using the soul to explain consciousness, demons to explain psychiatric illness (as well as colds and other viral infections, among others) and other things of similar nature have been shown to be false — the causes of such phenomena were completely naturalistic. How much will it take to make you think otherwise, so future generations don’t think the same of people like you as we do those who lived in centuries past? Even though medical leech therapy is still used (look it up), I assume you would go to an exorcist to help you with psychiatric problems?

  • 337. ubi dubium  |  July 18, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    Obi

    Are you 99.999% sure that the Sun is in the sky right now?

    Well, you don’t actually know which hemisphere I’m in, so the answer might have been “no”! But since there is light shining in my windows now, I will go with “yes the sun is there. There is an infinitesimally small probability that it actually went out and a prankster is shining an artificial light in my window instead, but that possiblity is so remote that I think it does not need to be considered for most purposes.

    In the same way – I don’t believe in souls. But if we are having an argument about whether the existence of a souls can actually be totally 100% disproved I would have to say that total disproof is not possible.

    One can speak certainly about how Santa Claus and leprachauns don’t exist, but when it comes to silly religious ideas and superstitions that people hold close to themselves, one is “closed-minded” for speaking using clearly observable facts and drawing from tested hypotheses.

    We should use things that are clearly observable in our arguments, every chance we get. The problem is that religious ideas are often phrased in a way that they cannot be 100% disproved. If we find a way to disprove one of their ideas, they will find a new way to phrase it to make it more vague, and so harder to find evidence against. Most supernatural claims are like this, and so our best argument is often “extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof” and they have an “absence of extraordinary proof”.

    Since “absence of proof” is not the same as “disproof”, I much prefer to argue about probablilities. Perhaps I cannot offer a disproof of god, but is a believer able to offer evidence that their god is more likely to exist than, say, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or to use your example, Santa Claus?

    Snuggly

    Scientists consider the Theory of Relativity a fact, and I would say the soul as the product of our brains is a fact in the same vein.

    At one time people considered Newton’s Theory of Gravity a fact. They did not consider the idea that it might be incomplete until Einstein figured out Relativity. So now, I think we must keep the same openness to the idea that Relativity may also be incomplete, and may in the future be further modified.

    There will always be new things to discover about the mind. I don’t think that any of the things that we discover will point to a soul, but I can’t say I am 100% sure of that.

  • 338. Joe  |  July 18, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    By the way—-

    Are you trying to tell me that JAMES BROWN, and his music, is just the result of chemicals and neurons? Or that Van Gogh and his art come from overactive brain-waves? Or that Mozart came up with his symphonies due to more creative brain impulses?

    What makes us so different from the animals is our unique creativity. If we are just made up of chemicals, and all that we ARE is made up of the same stuff the animals are, why don’t amimals have more art in the Louvre?

  • 339. Obi  |  July 18, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    Joe —

    Yes. Until you provide evidence (which you can’t) of an immaterial soul, the brain will remain completely physical. My recommendation for you to subscribe to the journal of neuroscience was a serious one. However, even if you’ve never come into contact with such a journal, I’m surprised that you’ve never heard one of the ever so common reports of neuroscientists finding out more regarding the areas of our brain the process music and language, are responsible for creativity and math, et cetera. It’s all physical, Joe, and it’s all there for you to learn and read about.

    Your argument from personal incredility is weak, especially when the knowledge is out there waiting for you to learn it.

  • 340. Joe  |  July 18, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    I know that chimpanzees can be “taught” to use a paintbrush, or to hold a stick and “conduct” a fake orchestra, but they will not do this on their own.

    If they are made up of the same thing and we are as “soul-less” as they appear to be, how come we find no ancient “chimpanzee art”, or “Gorilla symphonies”? This may sound stupid, but if we are just “amimals”, without a soul, just more highly evolved minds—-why don’t we find examples of “primitive” art going all the way back to ancient ape like creatures? I know there is art in caves—but it is recent—-the work of Neandrathals, etc. Where is the example of a primitive “symphony” some ape tried to write way back when?? :>) I know—sounds pretty stupid—-by I’m intrigued.

    I believe the “soul” is what makes us different from the animals. I just believe that—can’t prove it.

  • 341. Obi  |  July 18, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    Joe —

    Come on mate, surely you were taught how humans have much larger brains than chimpanzees, allowing us the capacity for higher thought? The main area that produces such creativity in humans is the cerebral cortex, which is a general use area of the brain that serves in associating and combining together ideas. Not only that, but we see, going back in time, that humans were more and more primitive. It’s all progressive, the march of evolution both biologically and that of ideas and knowledge shared and passed down through generations.

    Regardless, you say that chimpanzees must be “taught” how to do such things, but do humans not go to school? Are you saying such things are born with us? Surely you must have said that mistakenly. Humans go to art school to learn how to paint, and musical conservatories to be taught how to play music and conduct it. No human popped out of the womb and instantly developed something, it has been a steady accumulation of knowledge over generations and generations of humans. Gorillas have seen to be empathetic, show feeling, care for their young; and one gorilla even rescued a human child who fell into a cage at a zoo, quickly returning the child to its handler.

    Also, you realize that we aren’t directly descended from Neanderthals, correct? They diverged from the line that became modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens) and they were more primitive than us, which is why we out-competed them and became the dominant species. So you unintentionally proved yourself wrong, mate.

  • 342. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 18, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    Ubi-

    At one time people considered Newton’s Theory of Gravity a fact. They did not consider the idea that it might be incomplete until Einstein figured out Relativity. So now, I think we must keep the same openness to the idea that Relativity may also be incomplete, and may in the future be further modified.

    I actually did account for this. We may revise our understanding of the soul, but it’s not likely to be anything drastic. We didn’t throw out Newton’s Theory of Gravity, we added Relativity. I remain open to revisions to our understanding of consciousness, but it seems highly unlikely that the brain connection will be done away with.

    Joe, I’m glad you went and found an article to support your view! The only problem I have with it is that it was written in 1994, 14 years ago, and we’ve made significant advances in our understanding of consciousness since then. If you can find a similar article that’s recent, I’d be willing to significantly raise the probability that I’m wrong.

    …but there are other “scientists”—(especially physicians who have seen some of these experiences, or heard the tales) who do not think the investigation is over by far—-and are doing their own clinical studies.

    You’ve got me with this one. I’m willing to raise the possibility that I’m wrong to something statistically significant at this point. This is news to me. I’d be very interested in what those studies showed, if you remember the names of any of those scientists.

    As for the creativity thing, I’d agree with Obi that it is the result of chemicals and neurons. I don’t think that cheapens creativity, nor do I think it puts us on par with animals. We have by far the most advanced brains of any organism on Earth, which still distinguishes us from any other animal. If anything, I find it all the more fascinating, amazing, and awe-inspiring that a collection of neurons and chemicals can give rise to a sapient being, capable of rational thought and creativity.

    We don’t see art from apes because they aren’t sapient. We see cave-art from neanderthals because they were sapient at that point. What if we one day create a sapient computer AI that is capable of emotion and creativity? This is still a long ways off, and may well not happen in our lifetimes, so this is more an idle thought than anything significant.

    Also, most churches I went to argued it was your spirit that distinguished you from animals, not your soul.

  • 343. ubi dubium  |  July 18, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    Well, I’m not sure that apes aren’t sentient. They definitely have self-awareness – the great apes all can pass the mirror test, along with dolphins and Asian elephants. Maybe parrots, too.

    Perhaps other species do have artistic creativity, but we aren’t capable of appreciating it. There may be a “whale Mozart” out there, who is composing whale songs that other whales will be singing for years to come. We’d have no way of knowing.

    And I have seen elephant art for sale. It started with a bored elephant who had started stepping on ducks to pass the time. That had to stop, so they gave her a paintbrush and canvas, and she does wonderful work now.

    Until we can speak with dolphins in their ultrasonic clicks, and with elephants in their subsonic rumbles, I don’t think we’ll know just how sentient they actually are. (But I will be really annoyed if we finally manage to translate dolphin language, and the first thing we translate says “You must convert to the Dolphin God, you heathens!)

  • 344. Joe  |  July 18, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    Snuggly—

    It was the first article that popped up when I googled it. There are many more. 14 years hasn’t changed many people’s “search for a soul” though—-like I said I just recently saw another program on it. You see—what you are doing—is like “skeptics” do—-a person who absolutely does not believe UFO’s exist states so—and because he cannot understand how anyone could believe in them he states it is a “fact” they do not exist.

    By the way, I have no way of knowing either way–though I suspect the majority of UFO sightings are fantasy. But there are actual scientists searching the skies, and researching them, despite what many “skeptics” say. The same can be said for the soul. You say it doesn’t exists based on your own “skepticism” and accepting some scientific articles (despite the fact others exist stating the contrary) and it is a “fact” due to that. It just is not the case.

    “No human popped out of the womb and instantly developed something” I beg to differ. There are “savant” children that people label “old souls” due to their absolutely inexplicable ability to play an instrument expertly when quite small—-and Mozart wrote his first symphony at age 4. And some of them, having never gone to school, will paint amazing pieces of art–and most amazingly—in a “creative” manner—-not like a chimpanzee, who is “taught” to draw something—–but “creatively”—-from their own impressions—and people ask where did that sense of expression come from? Where did that amazing abillity to write music (not robotically mind you, but very creatively) come from? I call that the soul.

  • 345. Grant Dexter  |  July 18, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    If my premises are that God exists and God is logical then it is not begging the question to conclude that the universe is logical. Just as Richard’s premise (or axiom) that logic exists does not make him begging the question to then say anything is logical.

    The difference between the two views is that mine is a logically valid set of statements. Something that can be worked with. Richard’s is just a statement of faith.

  • 346. Joe  |  July 18, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    You know—we could go on and on as we are doing. All I can say is that when I hear a beautiful piece of music, or see an amazing piece of art, or sculpture, or dance, or anything extremely creative I would not be able to say “that creativity is all the result of chemicals in the brain, etc.”

    What a dead and boring world it would be if everything could be “proved” to be just chemical reactions in the brain. No soul, no spirit—no, the creative force is just chemicals and tissue. Sorry, I just cannot buy that. If you have the same chemical make-up of a Mozart, then you write a symphony. You can believe that if you want to of course (or say “I don’t believe it, I KNOW it”) as one person has a habit of saying, but there is no way I could ever believe that, or accept that. So, we are in a circular argument with no end really. :>)

  • 347. Obi  |  July 18, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    Joe —

    You do realize that the word (1) “savant” in it’s most common usage describes a person who is extremely proficient in one area, but extremely mentally deficient and even retarded in others and that (2) The vast majority of people are ,b>not savants, and even when they are, they still need to be taught but simply learn much more quickly and efficiently. The fact that you keep parroting on about the soul tells me more of what you’re ignorant of than what you know, and I say that this time without the intention to insult.

    Scientists have used fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) and PET scans (positron emission tomography) to monitor parts of the brain that are active during different activies, to we know the general location of things such as motor skills (swiping the paintbrush or moving the violin bow), visual perception (reading the music and looking at your paintings and the colors), et cetera. Like I said, the literature is all there for you to explore.

  • 348. Obi  |  July 18, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    Joe —

    Here are some good links by the way, to start you on your “journey”.

    http://www.neuroskills.com/brain.shtml

    http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/bb/kinser/Structure1.html

    http://tolearn.net/hypertext/brain.htm

  • 349. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 18, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    Grant-

    If my premises are that God exists and God is logical then it is not begging the question to conclude that the universe is logical.

    Nice strawman. You’re right, it’s not begging the question. I wasn’t criticizing that statement. “Logic exists” and “the universe is logical” are two different conclusions. I was talking about your proof for the existence of logic itself.

    Didn’t you say you would leave if you weren’t wanted? I’m an incredibly patient man, but you have strained that patience to its limit. Please leave. It’s abundantly clear that you are not capable of logical debate.

    Joe-
    I wasn’t basing my rejection of a soul on simple skepticism. My view was based on the myriad studies that supported my view, and the lack of any recent studies that supported the opposite view. If I find studies that suggest the soul is separate from the brain, I will gladly revise my view. The article you linked was a good start, but it’s old enough that new studies may have invalidated it. Which is why I’m greatly interested in the studies of the scientists in that Discovery Channel show you saw.

    And you seem to still hold the idea that the chemicals and neurons of the brain as the source for creativity makes it less amazing. Why is the incredible complexity of our minds a less significant source for creativity than a soul? Sure, if someone had the exact same chemical and neurological makeup as mozart, and the same memories, he would be able to create the same music. But each of us is unique, no two minds are alike, thanks to the incredible complexity of our brains. That my emotions are based on chemicals and neurons does not make those emotions any less real, any less meaningful. That creativity is based on the same also does not make it any less incredible and meaningful.

  • 350. John Morales  |  July 18, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    The fool:

    If my premises are that God exists and God is logical then it is not begging the question to conclude that the universe is logical.

    No, it’s not begging the question in this case; it’s a non sequitur.

    By the way, fool, if you want to make a logical argument, try first defining your terms, then set up the premises, then show us what inferential steps you’re making to reach the conclusion.

  • 351. John Morales  |  July 18, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    Joe

    Where did that amazing abillity to write music (not robotically mind you, but very creatively) come from? I call that the soul.

    So the central nervous system is the soul, eh?

    What a remarkably inane thing to say.

  • 352. John Morales  |  July 18, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    Joe,

    What a dead and boring world it would be if everything could be “proved” to be just chemical reactions in the brain. No soul, no spirit—no, the creative force is just chemicals and tissue. Sorry, I just cannot buy that.

    Great. Another who can’t even get to the point of a formal fallacy.

    Look Joe, your argument from personal incredulity is not convincing to anyone else. We know you don’t like to face reality.

    What’s keenly ironic is that you’re commenting on a post about freedom and responsibility.

    Here is a quote from the post, Joe:
    For truly accepting responsibility for one’s life, rather than ducking it or lying to oneself about it, is simultaneously liberating and empowering, according to the existentialists.

  • 353. ubi dubium  |  July 18, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    I wrote a minuet once. I got a “B” on it. The actual act of writing music is a skill that can be taught. But only a few of us have the talent to use that skill to its fullest potential. (Its not necessary to be a savant to have a real talent.) But I think the variability of the human mind accounts for the wide spectrum of talent we see. It’s an adaptive trait for different individual humans to have different talents, and so that’s the way we are.

    Long ago, it was to a tribe’s advantage if some members could work out migration patters of animals in their heads, others were better at building new kinds of shelters, others better at learning the languages of others, and still others better at leadership. Today we turn this variability to different ends. I think creativity goes hand-in-hand with intelligence. I see no need for me to believe in a soul in order to understand how we get a musical genius or great architect.

  • 354. Joe  |  July 18, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    So the central nervous system is the soul, eh?

    What a remarkably inane thing to say.

    John—–no worries. I know you don’t have a soul. :>)

  • 355. Joe  |  July 18, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    And you seem to still hold the idea that the chemicals and neurons of the brain as the source for creativity makes it less amazing. Why is the incredible complexity of our minds a less significant source for creativity than a soul?

    Snuggly—

    I’ll get jumped on for this, but that’s OK. When a Stalin looks at mankind as “souless”, and made up of “just chemicals” who will “cease to exist when they die”, and feels he will never face judgment for his actions, it is easy to execute thousands of people. They are just muscles and sinews, nothing more–so what’s the big deal in erasing a few thousand of them from the earth?

    But if one sees each man as unique and deeply valuable—individual souls, it would be extremely more difficult to do so. This proves nothing I know—-but those who see people as “souls” far more greatly value them than someone who sees everyone as just bones and sinew.

    I believe the mind is an extremely complex thing—and the nervous system, and everything in our bodies are absolutely amazing devices. I believe that at the top of the animal scale (if you can call it that) is man—he is the most aware, intelligent being on the planet. But, I also believe he is also one step “beneath” the angels—-he is actually inbetween where animal life and spiritual life meet—he is part animal, and he is part spirit. Then the “scale” moves upwards to angels who are pure spirits, and cherubim, and seraphim and archangels—a world we cannot perceive with our natural senses. You can scoff at this—I really don’t care. So, man is far greater than just his mind, or nervous system, or body–he is a combination of two different worlds. I know you don’t “believe” that—-and that’s cool. John—it seems you are in a mood for mocking everyone tonight(at least your posts appear to be reflecting that)–so go for it. LOL :>)

  • 356. John Morales  |  July 18, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    When a Tomás de Torquemada looks at mankind as ensouled, and as vessels for a spirit that will live on after they die, and feels he will face judgment for his actions, it is easy to execute thousands of people for their own and everyone else’s good. They are just carriers for their souls, nothing more–so what’s the big deal in erasing a few thousand of them from the earth if it saves even one from damnation?

    Joe, are you trying to reach a Grant-level of foolishness?

  • 357. Obi  |  July 18, 2008 at 8:10 pm

    Joe said, “I’ll get jumped on for this, but that’s OK. When a Stalin looks at mankind as “souless”, and made up of “just chemicals” who will “cease to exist when they die”, and feels he will never face judgment for his actions, it is easy to execute thousands of people. They are just muscles and sinews, nothing more–so what’s the big deal in erasing a few thousand of them from the earth?

    But you forget that we’re finding that these electrochemical reactions are what give us the ability to love, to hate, to build, to destroy, to empathize, to turn a cold shoulder, and most fascinatingly, they give us the ability to find out more about how we use these electrochemical reactions to find out how we use them. This is what makes us human, and you wishing it to be another way doesn’t change it. Realizing that we are completely material beings does not rob us of our humanity, and I find it strange that you think that it does.

    To the contrary, it enhances my humanity, and it enhances my connection with the Universe. Stating that “we’re of two different worlds” is not only a silly and baseless claim to make, but it robs the Universe of its beauty. Think of it this way: each and every one of us is made up of materials that were drawn together when we were born and developing, and that will be dispersed when we die. These materials are part of the Universe, so in a way our Universe is a gigantic sentient creature, and each one of us are parts of its overall consciousness. We use our brains to gain awareness and knowledge about our Universe, and then we die and return to it in a massive circle of life. Each part of your body has existed in some other organism’s body sometime in the history of the Earth, and after you die “you” will continue to exist in such a fashion. I don’t think it gets much better than that, and it actually makes sense.

  • 358. ubi dubium  |  July 18, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    Joe:

    But if one sees each man as unique and deeply valuable—individual souls, it would be extremely more difficult to do so. This proves nothing I know—-but those who see people as “souls” far more greatly value them than someone who sees everyone as just bones and sinew.

    I have to disagree on this one. I see people as bones and sinew, and I also see each human as unique and deeply valuable.

    Stalin was a megalomaniac who devalued human lives. He killed millions of people he considered less worthy. He was also an atheist, and had a mustache.

    Hitler was a megalomaniac who devalued human lives. He killed millions of people he considered less worthy. He was also a catholic, and had a mustache.

    I don’t think that belief in souls would have stopped Stalin. If a belief in souls had that kind of effect, no christian would ever become a murderous dictator. But they do, so that argument doesn’t work for me.

  • 359. Cthulhu  |  July 18, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    Whoa – you go away for about 24 hours and the thread blew up. And we need an equivalent of Godwins’s Law for Stalin it seems…sigh

  • 360. John Morales  |  July 18, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    Joe, what’s with the mythology?

    But, I also believe he is also one step “beneath” the angels—-he is actually inbetween where animal life and spiritual life meet—he is part animal, and he is part spirit. Then the “scale” moves upwards to angels who are pure spirits, and cherubim, and seraphim and archangels

    You mean you claim to believe this guff.
    If you do, then you presumably also believe in the shedu and the lammasu. Since apparently Aza and Azaz’el are real for you, you presumably give credibility to magic, divination and astrology.

    That’s funny.

    PS you write man when you mean mankind

  • 361. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 19, 2008 at 1:17 am

    Clearly, mustaches leads to devaluing human lives, and ultimately mass murder. That’s why I never grow one! And why women with mustaches are so truly disturbing.

    Joe, the fact that we don’t have souls in fact makes me value human life even more. If I kill someone with a soul, their soul lives on. If I kill someone without a soul, I have robbed them of the only life they would ever have. You can’t take an attitude of “let God sort it out” if you don’t think people will live on in the afterlife.

  • 362. Richard  |  July 19, 2008 at 1:54 am

    Grant- The effort involved in trying to keep up with your map jumping is fatiguing. I am going to have to letter these sentences just to point out your contradictions. In #278, you quoted me:

    (a)

    Tell me, how would you evaluate the “evidence” for or against logic? Through logic?

    And then replied: (b)

    Of course! If I wanted to understand the source of logic of course I would want to be logical about it!

    Then, in 294, you said: (c)

    And, as you suggest, I cannot use logic to prove that logic exists. (d) All I can do is presuppose that it does. (e) Fortunately I have a logical source for logic, namely God. (f) Richard on the other hand does not.

    So, where to start? Well, how about here: (b) and (c) contradict. Evaluating “evidence” for *anything* must be done using logic. So to evaluate the evidence for logic, we would have to use logic. That, of course, is goofy. No, actually, it would be question-begging. You must presuppose/assume logic, you cannot gather “evidence” for it. That’s why it has to be an axiom – or, rather, comprise a set of self-evident axioms. Logic is asserted and defined, not evidentially explored like DNA theory.

    Then, you assert (d). “…presuppose that it does.” Funny, that’s exactly what I did.

    Then, you assert (e), which contradicts (d). If you presuppose something you do not then look for a “source” for it. That’s what makes it presupposed.

    All the while you seem not to notice that assuming God is no less axiomatic than assuming logic in the first place – remember “First Cause?” – and needlessly multiplies entities. And unless you can describe in some detail exactly how God allegedly explains logic, then you haven’t actually explained anything, you just given a word for your ignorance.

    In short: “God” adds nothing to your epistemology except warm fuzzies. Presuppositionalism is a dead-end, my friend. Im sorry you’ve been sold some swamp water.

    And, Im also sorry that I am going to have to bow out at this point. For one, this conversation seems to have run its course, and other things are demanding my attention.

    Fare well! Perhaps we will cross paths again.

  • 363. Richard  |  July 19, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    Joe- (re: #300)On the one hand, I can see where youre coming from. CSLewis used this very same argument to quell my doubts and anxieties about the apparent unfairness of hell back when I was a believer — i.e., “if you’re upset about other people drowning, the worst thing you can do is to drown yourself in protest.” (Very loosely paraphrased.)

    Part of the problem, now, of course, is that the injustice of hell is not the only objection I have to it. Theres also the epistemological issues. Which is to say, I am not convinced there is such a place in the first place, nor that anyone really deserves it if there was.

    De-conversion for me has been , in part, a process of making formerly obvious things seem surprising. For example, it once seemed clear and obvious to me that human beings were “basically sinful” – which was to say, really rotten – and *deserved* punishment… unless, of course, they were forgiven.

    But leaving the faith, and especially studying other faiths, has drawn these sorts of assumptions into question. For this example, in Christianity’s parent religion, Judaism, there is no such concept. Humans are not assumed to be *basically* bad or evil, and it is not thought that the Bible teaches that we are. IN fact, there’s a verse early in Genesis in the Cain and Abel story in which God tells Cain that sin crouches at his door, but that he could master it. Moreover, Judaism has no concept of Original Sin. While there do exist various kinds of sin, the purpose of trying to live without sin, or atoning for it when it happens, is because that is how you live a good and Holy life. Imitatio Dei. Not because of a wish to avoid punishment in hell, nor even because “God can’t tolerate sin” (whatever that means), but because that’s what it means to live a good life. There is no hell at all, in ancient Judaism, only a shadowy Sheol (an underworld where everyone goes) (this is what seems to be spoken of in the OT; many modern Jews don’t believe in an afterlife at all). In particular it is nowhere taught in Judaism, now or ever, that the purpose of the Law is to provide a way to live sinlessly, but that if you fail even once at even one small part of Law, you deserve Hell. That is thoroughly a Christian concept.

    Moreover, many narratives within Judaism seem to teach that humans have some standing before God, and can at times even call God to account, such as when Abraham bargained with God or Moses wished to be snuffed out by God, in solidarity with the Israelites. Therefore, the idea that “what God says, goes” and therefore, if God says hell is justified, then we are obliged to accept this, is foreign to Judaism.

    My point in bringing this up is not to evangelize for Judaism but only to point out that there are some implicit concepts within Christianity that treat things as obvious when, in fact, they could be otherwise. You suggested that your reason for accepting hell was, basically, because Jesus taught it and our job is to reconcile ourselves to his authority despite it seeming unfair to us. I.e., the implication is that *our* sense of fair and unfair is at issue, not God’s.

    But that can be challenged. Of course, Im speaking somewhat hypothetically here, because as you know I believe in neither God nor hell. But what I encourage you to do is to take, for the sake of argument, as surprising things which perhaps seem obvious to you.

    Hell as it is traditionally taught is a monstrous affront to any human sense of justice. Perhaps God knows better, but alternatively, perhaps we can justifiably call him to account for such a barbarism, and appealing to mystery or God’s superior judgment is really just an abdication of our status, and indeed our duty, as moral beings.

    Just food for thought.,,,

  • 364. Grant Dexter  |  July 20, 2008 at 2:21 am

    Ubi, if you want to point out where I’m question begging then you’ll have to challenge what I actually said.

    Richard, it’s sad that you’d choose to end things here when you clearly do not understand the challenge to your position.

  • 365. John Morales  |  July 20, 2008 at 4:48 am

    Grant, I’m watching you.

    Be nice, be honest.

  • 366. ubi dubium  |  July 20, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    Grant:

    I’m not sure what you are referring to here. Back at #70 I did not say you begged the question, I said you had evaded it. You answered some other question. I don’t need to challenge what you said, because what you said was not actually answering the question we asked of you. If you decided to answer the Euthyphro question, I’ll be happy to respond.

  • 367. Grant Dexter  |  July 21, 2008 at 2:06 am

    Right. Sorry. It was SnugglyBuffalo, not you B .. uh .. Ubi .. :)

    What question did I evade? I’ve answered Euthyphro’s Dilemma a number of times now. I say that morality is something that God decides according to His standards.

  • 368. ubi dubium  |  July 21, 2008 at 9:06 am

    Euthyphro: Is what is moral commanded by God because it is moral, or is it moral because it is commanded by God?

    So, Grant – so your answer seems to be the second choice in the question:

    “it is moral because it is commanded by God”.

    Would that be a correct assessment?

  • 369. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 21, 2008 at 11:25 am

    Grant-

    if you want to point out where I’m question begging then you’ll have to challenge what I actually said.

    That’s what I’ve been doing, you seem to have a chronically poor memory. Let me refresh it for you.

    I say that God exists and that God is logical therefore Logic exists (as a non-physical part of reality).

    Begging the question.

    Fortunately I have a logical source for logic, namely God.

    Begging the question again.

    You also said-

    Richard’s is just a statement of faith.

    -in reference to his treatment of logic as an axiom, something that we can presuppose because it is self-evident. You go on to say-

    And, as you suggest, I cannot use logic to prove that logic exists. All I can do is presuppose that it does.

    -which is exactly what an axiom is! Then you go on and say the source for logic is God, at which point you are no longer presupposing logic exists, you are arguing for its existence (and arguing in a way that begs the question).

    I’ve been challenging what you actually said every time. You’re the one with a love for challenging things unsaid:

    …then they insist that that construct matches the properties of the universe perfectly.

    Never stated in any post in this thread.

    Some people deny logic exists…

    I have never said this. You seem to have a love for strawmen.

    I don’t know why I’m still arguing this with you. I guess I keep thinking that if I explain this in just the right way, you might actually understand it and learn something. With every post you make I am more certain that I’m wasting my time, however.

  • 370. Grant Dexter  |  July 22, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Ubi – Yes.

    Snuggly – It is not begging the question the presuppose that God exists and that God is logical and then to conclude that the universe would be logical.

    I do not presuppose logic as Richard does. I presuppose God.

    If you presuppose logic then all you have is blind allegiance to something that logic cannot comment on. If you presuppose God then you have a logical source for logic.

  • 371. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 22, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    Grant, I’m trying very hard at this point not to fall into insults and condescension. You are repeating statements that I have already addressed, explicitly. You aren’t adding any new twist to what you say. You even contradict yourself (read the 5th quote from you I included in my previous post, then read the third sentence in your last post).

    This is my last post on the subject. I’m done trying to get through to you.

  • 372. Ubi Dubium  |  July 22, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    Grant –

    To continue on your answer to the Euthyphro quesion – then if somebody does something because they believe it is commanded by god, are they acting in a moral fashion? Even if others would find their actions repellant? (Biblical examples – Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of Isaac, Joshua’s slaughter of women and children in Jericho.)

  • 373. LeoPardus  |  July 22, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of Isaac

    Heard an interesting take on this story BTW. It was years ago. The presenter ended up proposing that Abraham actually FAILED the test. When he was told to sacrifice Isaac, he was supposed to say, “NO! That’s wrong!”

  • 374. Joe  |  July 22, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    Leo/Ubi—

    By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.

    Hebrews gives the reason that Abraham went through with the sacrifice. He knew God had already PROMISED that the promise would come through Isaac. If Isaac was to be killed, how could God’s promise be fulfilled? He KNEW that either this was just a test, or that if it “actually” transpired, God would “have to” raise Isaac from the dead to keep the promise he had made. Abraham KNEW Isaac would survive somehow, even before sacrificing him.

  • 375. Joe  |  July 22, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    Leo/Ubi—

    The first paragraph is from Hebrews 11–

    17By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring[b] will be reckoned.”[c] 19Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death (Heb 11: 17-19)

  • 376. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 22, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    Joe, that doesn’t make a command to sacrifice your son any less reprehensible, or hypocritical considering all the condemnation other religions of the day receive for human sacrifice.

  • 377. Joe  |  July 22, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    Snuggly—

    What I am saying by showing the Hebrews 11 verses is that many people say “OH, how horrible for God to ask Abraham to sacrifice his own son!! Imagine the suffering he went through, thinking of losing him, etc..how vicious, etc”

    Yet, the verses show that Isaac KNEW that God had already promised that through Isaac his promises would be fulfilled. Isaac knew that Isaac would have to either be saved from the sacrifice, or raised from the dead. So, he was basically more confused, than suffering—“why would God ask me this, when he promised that through Isaac my seed would be blessed? He’s got to raise him from the dead, or do something else. I wonder what’s up? (to paraphrase).

    I am not saying that God asking Isaac to sacrifice his son is a nice thing to do—I don’t understand it—accept that it is a “type” of the Father sacrificing Jesus on the cross. But, I point out Hebrews because there is much misunderstanding about what Isaac was thinking–Hebrews clears this up.

  • 378. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 22, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    Oh, I understand that point, Joe. I’m saying that, even if Abraham only went through confusion and not suffering, I don’t think it’s any less reprehensible. Even with the thought, “oh, God will just raise him from the dead,” God was still asking Abraham to sacrifice his son to him. I don’t really think there’s any context where I wouldn’t be upset with that.

  • 379. Ubi Dubium  |  July 22, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    Joe, no that is not the point I was making. I am asking whether it was moral of Abraham to be willing to sacrifice his son, just because he thought god told him to. (I think the story was pretty clear that he was ready to go through with it.) Was it moral of Joshua to follow gods command to kill all those innocent people?

    Recently Andrea Yates drowned her five children because she thought god wanted her to. Was this moral? It doesn’t sound that much different from Abraham to me.

  • 380. Joe  |  July 22, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    Ubi—

    Maybe you didn’t understand what Hebrews said. Abraham KNEW that even if he slew his son God would HAVE TO either spare him, or raise him from the dead because of what He had promised. Abraham was “willing” only because he KNEW he had to get his son back somehow—-that’s what Hebrews is stating.

    If he was unsure, who knows what he would have done? He may have screamed “no way am I doing this!!” or something such as that. But he “knew” that despite all he would have Isaac back, or God was a liar, and he knew that God was no liar.

  • 381. Ubi Dubium  |  July 22, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    So you are saying Abraham was acting morally in that instance.

    Mohammad Atta KNEW god would reward him with 72 virgins if he flew that jet into a skyscraper. He KNEW that it was the will of god. He KNEW that his god was no liar. So by your standard, he was as moral a person as Abraham.

    Andrea Yates KNEW god wanted her to drown her children. She KNEW it was the only way to save them from hell.

    I’m sill not seeing a difference. Just because one event happened a long time ago and was enshrined in a holy book doesn’t mean that it gets a free pass from me.

  • 382. John Morales  |  July 22, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    Abraham was “willing” only because he KNEW he had to get his son back somehow—-that’s what Hebrews is stating.

    Bwahahahahahahaha.
    Good one!

    Just like he got all the other sacrifices back, obviously.

  • 383. John Morales  |  July 22, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    Boy that was funny.

    Joe, you’re talking about Sacrifice.

  • 384. John Morales  |  July 22, 2008 at 11:38 pm

    To be helpful, I urge Joe to look up the Binding of Isaac and its significance.

  • 385. John Morales  |  July 22, 2008 at 11:50 pm

    I preemptively add that I think its significance is pretty much the surface meaning. Blind obedience to authority is the highest morality.

    Not an idea I espouse.

  • 386. Richard  |  July 23, 2008 at 1:32 am

    SnugglyB-
    Maddening, isn’t it?

    I admire your tenacity in engaging with Grant! I gave up last week for much the same reasons you are now. What do you say to a man who looks you in the eye and says “Its raining today, therefore, it follows that the sun is yellow”?

    Are you familiar with presuppositionalist apologetics? I am always interested in apologetic techniques and how they (try to) work, and this is the most delightfully twisted of the lot. The approach Grant is using (albeit clumsily) is, by my lights, basically presuppositionalist. Im not sure if he knows that, but it is. That technique tends to argue, among other things, that logic (and therefore human thought) are only possible *at all* in the Christian worldview. I.e., if non Christians cannot adequately “explain” or “account for” logic itself, then their worldview is declared to be self-contradictory, something like the way you cant empirically justify empiricism itself, so how do we know it works?

    Their own answer to this problem is to presuppose (i.e., assume, posit) God and, usually, the veracity of the Christian Bible. Since God is faithful and created an orderly universe (which was just presupposed) we can trust logic, our reason, etc.

    Fascinating, no? The surprising upshot of this approach is that to argue with a presupper *at all* is to prove him right! After all, if you cant produce a flawless epistemology, it is, well, flawed, and therefore deficient, and therefore you must accept the Christian’s. Or so they say – process of elimination.

    Debates about it tend to get very slippery and go into a lot about circularity and burden of proof. The basic flaw in it, as I see it, (beside the fact that, even if you accept the argument as valid, there is nothing at all uniquely Christian about such a logic-grounding god) is that it does not address basic foundationalism.

    Grant doesn’t seem to understand this at all. He keeps admitting that we presuppose logic and then demanding that we explain its source – never seeming to notice that something presupposed is a starting point, not itself explained. Nor does he notice that if you presuppose God, you cannot then legitimately infer logic, because you do not have logic yet. I.e., any kind of inference or deduction is a kind of *logic*, and you haven’t established logic yet when all you have done is presuppose God. And it goes without saying that he never explains the “logical source” for God (like we apparently “must” have for logic itself), or why “blind faith” in a god-posit is somehow supposed to be more satisfying than a “blind-faith” logic-posit.

    Anyway, thanks for you help. I don’t think we reached him, but the effort was valiant!

  • 387. Grant Dexter  |  July 24, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    Snuggly. Don’t give up on me yet! I guess my position may be a little difficult for you to grasp and perhaps my explanations have not been clear enough, but I do not see a contradiction or any question begging.

    The issue is the existence of logic and an explanation for that existence. I presuppose a logical God which then makes it logically possible to explain the existence of logic. This presupposition could also be described as a presupposition of logic. However if one presupposes logic then it is not a logically coherent argument to use that presupposition alone to conclude the existence of logic.

    Richard presupposes logic as axiomatic. He cannot then use this presupposition as a logical argument for the existence of logic (He conceded this point up there somewhere).

    I presuppose a logical God (I presuppose God and presuppose that He is logical). Using these presuppositions I am capable of forming a logical argument that explains a creation imbued with logic.

    I have a logical source for logic. Richard does not.

    I have evidence that the universe is made up of more than matter. Richard has no evidence that it is only made up of matter.

  • 388. Grant Dexter  |  July 24, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Ubi: To continue on your answer to the Euthyphro quesion – then if somebody does something because they believe it is commanded by god, are they acting in a moral fashion? Even if others would find their actions repellant? (Biblical examples – Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of Isaac, Joshua’s slaughter of women and children in Jericho.)

    Depends upon whether they actually are acting upon the word of God or if they are acting upon their own word.

    God’s testing of Abraham is clearly justified. I think LeoPardus’ friend had a point hidden in his error (Abraham’s actions pleased God). If Abraham had said, “No” to God then God would have gotten a pleasant surprise.

    Joshua’s obedience to God’s command was also justified though I guess it is impossible for an atheist to accept God’s righteous authority.

    What is your point?

  • 389. Grant Dexter  |  July 24, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    Richard. Thanks for the explanation!

    To explain a little more – I do not demand that you give an explanation for the existence of logic. I just note that you, Richard, hold it as an axiom. You presuppose logic just as I presuppose God. So if you have some reason as to why your standard is more logically valid or “Better” than mine then I’d like to hear it!

    I’ve already given reasons why I think my standard is better than yours ;)

  • 390. Grant Dexter  |  July 24, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    Snuggly: …that doesn’t make a command to sacrifice your son any less reprehensible, or hypocritical considering all the condemnation other religions of the day receive for human sacrifice.

    Do you think it is reprehensible to sacrifice a human life in every case?

  • 391. Ubi Dubium  |  July 24, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    Grant

    Depends upon whether they actually are acting upon the word of God or if they are acting upon their own word

    My point is – how can you tell the difference? Abraham and Joshua didn’t have any bible to rely on – it wasn’t written yet. They just had some voice in their head, or saw some hallucination, and thought it was the voice of god. When someone today says they committed a horrible action because god told them to, how can you distinguish whether or not this is actually true? You can’t. If you believe there is a god up there who has sometimes commanded individuals to commit atrocities for no apparent reason, how can you know that he is not still doing that?

    The 9/11 hijackers sincerely thought that they were acting “in obedience to god’s divine command”. So by your reasoning, this makes them morally righteous. (And how do you know god didn’t actually speak to them? You don’t.)

    The willingness to ignore your own instincts and common sense, and to blindly follow the “will of god” is a very dangerous thing. That’s my point.

  • 392. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 24, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    Grant, we’re done with this discussion. You are making the same logically invalid statements over and over again, and you are either too incompetent or willfully ignorant to see it. Your arguments are not difficult to grasp, nor are your explanations unclear; they are clearly illogical, however, and you either cannot or will not realize this. It is impossible to have a reasoned discourse with you, and so I ask you again to please leave.

  • 393. John Morales  |  July 24, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    Grant, this place is not for you.

    Why not go somewhere where you can feel comfortable?

  • 394. Fig Newton  |  July 24, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    John—

    Went to the link in #393 above. Question: Are you an atheist, or a believer arguing from an atheist standpoint? You know, sort of like an actor being “in character” while filming a part? I guess you wouldn’t tell me if you were though would you? You’d break character. Or,maybe your an atheist pretending to be a believer acting like he’s an atheist?

  • 395. John Morales  |  July 24, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    Fig, why would it matter what I am?

  • 396. Fig Newton  |  July 24, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    John—

    Good point.

  • 397. Ubi Dubium  |  July 24, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    Grant

    Do you think it is reprehensible to sacrifice a human life in every case?

    I think it is reprehensible to sacrifice a human life to appease a tribal sky-god. (Or even to sacrifice a chicken to appease a god for that matter.)

  • 398. Grant Dexter  |  July 24, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    Ubi – I can tell the difference because I understand context and history and recognise the inconsistency of someone claiming atrocities for God today. I can understand why this will not wash with you. I can also understand why you would refer to a strictly negative definition of the word salvation to answer my question, so allow me to rephrase it:
    Do you think there is any situation where the word sacrifice could be used to refer to an act you would consider right and good?

    Snuggly. If you can show me how making the assumptions that God is real and God is logical does not allow me to logically conclude that God would create a logical universe … then you might have a point. But you don’t. So .. umm .. no.

  • 399. Ubi Dubium  |  July 24, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    Grant

    I can tell the difference because I understand context and history and recognise the inconsistency of someone claiming atrocities for God today.

    How? How can you tell? Can you explain the difference? (serious queston) They sure look the same to me. One event is historical, one is current, but apart from that, how are they different? (And, of course, the fact that one is biblical does not carry weight when arguing with an atheist.)

    Do you think there is any situation where the word sacrifice could be used to refer to an act you would consider right and good?

    Sure – a mother throwing herself in front of a car to save her child. Or a real example from my neck of the woods: in 1982 Air Florida flight 90 crashed into the ice-covered Potomac River. Helicopters rushed to the scene to pull survivors out of the frigid water before they died of hypothermia. There was one man in the water who, each time he was thrown a lifeline, deliberately put it on one of the other survivors so they could be rescued. He refused to accept a rescue as long as there was anybody else he could help. By the time the helicopters came back for him, it was too late. That’s a meaningful sacrifice.

    I know you are now going to try to extend this to the “sacrifice of jesus”, so let me pre-empt you on that. My examples dealt with real peril of death. Nobody in my examples was responsible for creating the dangerous situations they faced. And the danger was real, not a fabrication.

    The “dying king” who dies for the benefit of his people is an ancient concept that far predates christianity. (Read your Joseph Campbell.) Blood sacrifice to appease the anger of a god is a common idea, from the ancient Greeks and Hebrews, to the Mayas and Aztecs. No new ior unique concept there.

    Religion had to invent something we needed to be “saved from” before it could sell us on needing to be saved at all. The Aztecs actually thought blood sacrifice was necessary for the sun to rise each day. (And they had no way to test whether this was false, since they weren’t willing to risk the consequences of being wrong.) The ancient Egyptians feared the gods would not send the annual flood their crops depended on, and so sacrificed to their gods regularly. Christianity has invented the concepts of “sin” and “heaven” and “hell”, and works very hard to sell us on those ideas. Unless we buy in to that, we have no reason to see any need for “salvation”.

    (You know, the ancient Egyptians could get into their afterlife by having their body preserved and the right magic words said. The Norse could get there by dying valiantly. No dying god/sacrifice required. But I prefer the Pastafarian heaven – all you have to do is proclaim your noodly master, and talk and dress like a pirate, and you get an eternity of beer and strippers! Any preacher who wants me to buy into their ideas is going to have come up with something that beats that! :) )

  • 400. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 25, 2008 at 12:53 am

    Grant, here’s how our “conversation” has gone so far:

    Grant- God exists and is logical, therefore logic exists.

    me- That is begging the question, you have to presuppose logic exists to claim God is logical.

    Grant- It’s not begging the question to assume a logical God would create a logical universe.

    me- WTF? That’s not what we’re talking about.

    -repeat numerous times-

    Every time I attack your argument for why logic exists, you defend a completely different conclusion, that God would create a logical universe. They are not the same conclusion.

    A logical source for logic is begging the question. A logical God creating a logical universe is not. I am attacking the first argument, not the second.

    You cannot have a logical source for logic. You must presuppose logic exists in order for a source to be logical, and thus your conclusion becomes one of your premises. A logical source for a logical universe is a different argument.

    Of course, you can’t seem to grasp this.

  • 401. Grant Dexter  |  July 25, 2008 at 1:23 am

    Ubi: How? How can you tell? Can you explain the difference? (serious queston) They sure look the same to me. One event is historical, one is current, but apart from that, how are they different? (And, of course, the fact that one is biblical does not carry weight when arguing with an atheist.)

    You have to understand the rules God had in place at the time. You know that God has changed the rules quite a few times, right?

    I’m sorry, but I cannot explain God without using the bible very well. Maybe you could understand it this way … when the death penalty was in force an executioner was justified by law in killing those convicted of a capital crime. After the laws changed he was no longer so justified. It’s not the best example in the world, but can you understand the concept?

    It’s good that you understand there are situations where sacrifice is good. It’s a pity we can’t agree more, but I’ll take what I can get :)

  • 402. Grant Dexter  |  July 25, 2008 at 1:31 am

    Snuggly. I can understand your problem with what I’ve said. It is quite difficult to distinguish between presupposing logic and presupposing a logical God.

    Did I really say the first one? God exists and is logical, therefore logic exists. I don’t recall posting that. I have only been trying to explain that it is perfectly reasonable to assume a logical God would create a logical universe.

    And the challenge to Richard is that he has no logical support for his ideas on the nature of logic.

    Thus my challenge to the notion that the world is only matter in motion has logical support. ;)

  • 403. John Morales  |  July 25, 2008 at 4:54 am

    For crying out loud Grant, did you even read #393?

    I can’t even tell if your muddled mess is Van Tillian or Clarkian presuppositionalism – both are bad enough as it is, but when clueless people like yourself mangle even those concepts and have no idea what logic actually is, it’s offensive to educated senses to wallow through your garbage.

    Go take it up with Rhology – he’s a reformed baptist and a YEC, and he’s a few steps ahead of you (i.e. he’s only half-clueless). Go learn your craft before you try being a journeyman.

    Or be called on it.

  • 404. Ubi Dubium  |  July 25, 2008 at 10:59 am

    Grant

    You have to understand the rules God had in place at the time. You know that God has changed the rules quite a few times, right?

    God changing the rules from time to time is one of the problems I have with religion. And if he has changed to rules in the past – he could change them again if he wants, right? There are bible quotes that say god is eternal and unchanging, and others that say he changes his mind. That kind of thing is much more consistent with god being something people made up to suit their needs at the time. If I were inclined to follow a religion, I’d prefer to follow one where god was more consistent in what he expected.

    I’m sorry, but I cannot explain God without using the bible very well

    Grant, it’s OK for you to use the bible to explain why you hold a particular belief. What doesn’t fly is to use it to establish something as objectively “true” in an argument. Do you see the distinction here?

    …when the death penalty was in force an executioner was justified by law in killing those convicted of a capital crime. After the laws changed he was no longer so justified.

    Well, in this case, I’d call what the executioner was doing “legal”. This does not speak to whether it was “just”. Two different issues. There are many things which are permissable to do under the law, but which I would find it unethical to do myself (like cutting down old growth forests, or training a child to be a street-corner evangelist.) There are other things currently illegal in my state (like medical marijuana, gay marriage, and assisted suicide) that I find to be highly ethical, and I support people’s right to fight for them. Changes in civil law do not change my own internal sense of what is actually “just”. Nor do the changing whims of an ancient tribal sky-god. Killing an entire city of innocent civilians is wrong, and I don’t care if your god told you it was OK or not. It’s still wrong.

  • 405. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 25, 2008 at 11:05 am

    You really don’t remember saying that? Let me go grab the quotes, Grant.

    (all emphasis mine)
    Post 278-

    How does your alogical belief stack up against a logical source for logic like mine? I say that God exists and that God is logical therefore Logic exists (as a non-physical part of reality).

    Post 294-

    And, as you suggest, I cannot use logic to prove that logic exists. All I can do is presuppose that it does. Fortunately I have a logical source for logic, namely God.

    Post 370-

    If you presuppose God then you have a logical source for logic.

    Post 387-

    I have a logical source for logic. Richard does not.

    These are all statements you have made, Grant, and I have quoted them every time I have challenged you. Every one of those statements begs the question, and all but the first one are statements you have made after I called you on the fallacy.

    Can you see why I’m frustrated, Grant? It’s maddening. I have clearly pointed out where you are begging the question, and you keep insisting you are not by defending a different statement, and then you go right on to beg the question again. We’ve got over 400 posts in this thread now, and you still can’t grasp it.

  • 406. Grant Dexter  |  July 25, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    I see. It’s not intentional. I consider a logical universe to be a reasonable conclusion given the presupposition of a logical God. That’s the challenge to Richard’s position.

  • 407. Grant Dexter  |  July 25, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    Ubi: God changing the rules from time to time is one of the problems I have with religion. And if he has changed to rules in the past – he could change them again if he wants, right?

    Right. but it’s generally a once-in-a-thousand-year thing…

    There are bible quotes that say god is eternal and unchanging

    Actually, there aren’t any that say He is unchanging. That would be silly. Some describe His attributes as unchanging…

    and others that say he changes his mind.

    Sure.

    Well, in this case, I’d call what the executioner was doing “legal”. This does not speak to whether it was “just”. …

    OK. Well if you want to understand you’re just going to have to accept it as I explain it. In one timeframe the executioner was under one set of rules and then that changed.

  • 408. Ubi Dubium  |  July 25, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    Grant

    Actually, there aren’t any that say He is unchanging.

    Try James 1:17, Malachi 3:6, Numbers 23:19. Look ‘em up.

    The thing about having a holy book that is so large, and written by so many different people, is that you can usually find a verse to support any position you want to take.

    Well if you want to understand you’re just going to have to accept it as I explain it. In one timeframe the executioner was under one set of rules and then that changed.

    I can’t accept ethics as just simply adhering to a bunch of rules somebody handed you. You have to work it out for yourself to some extent. If you don’t, then all you have is blind obedience, not ethics.

  • 409. Fig Newton  |  July 25, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    One more:

    Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8)

  • 410. Grant Dexter  |  July 26, 2008 at 11:04 am

    First of all these passages have nothing to do with God changing rules or laws like my point was about. If you want to defeat my point you’ll have to show the bible saying that God never changes any laws.

    Now to the text.

    James 1
    12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
    13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.
    14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.
    15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
    16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.
    17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
    18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.

    God will always be good.

    Malachi 3
    5 And I will come near you for judgment;
    I will be a swift witness
    Against sorcerers,
    Against adulterers,
    Against perjurers,
    Against those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans,
    And against those who turn away an alien—
    Because they do not fear Me,”
    Says the LORD of hosts.
    6 “ For I am the LORD, I do not change;

    God will always be just.

    Numbers 23
    19 “God is not a man, that He should lie,
    Nor a son of man, that He should repent.
    Has He said, and will He not do?
    Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?

    God will always be true.

    Hebrews 13
    8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
    9 Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.

    God’s word does not change.

    None of these mean that God can never change anything. That would be silly. I think you will want to point out biblical inconsistency by looking at the nature of God in relation to change. I’ll concede that you do not accept God as presented in the Bible if you will accept that the accounts of God responding to His people completely swamp the idea that God might be incapable of changing a few rules.

  • 411. Ichthus  |  September 12, 2008 at 1:55 am

    Some have argued that we do not have free will because the universe, including all of our actions within it, is physically determined (upwards causality) and/or predestined by God. Schopenhauer says: “a man can do as he will, but not will as he will” (32) because, “Everybody acts not only under external compulsion but also in accordance with inner necessity,” (32; Einstein). If this is true, we are not responsible for our actions and cannot realistically take credit or blame for them, and therefore do not need God to save us. However, the universe is not physically determined (it is probabilistic), we can influence the universe (downwards causality), and God’s predestination of the universe from beyond time (He knows all the probabilistic outcomes) includes our freely willed, self-determined, downward-causing, co-creative actions (with His interaction). [Note that Karl Popper (30) spoke of downward causality but had a much different view of the universe and God.] Granted, the fact that we are not omniscient or omnipotent (because we are not omnipresent in and beyond space-time, like God) puts limits on our options, but we are free to choose from among those options. “I did not have the option” does not equate to “I did not have free will.” Many factors, including what we know, determine our conceivable and viable options, but only influence our actions [for more: see (27)].

    The fact we are born with the ability for empathy, as mentioned earlier, does not mean it has been put in our heart against our will – without it, we would have no will, as it is part of what makes our will possible. Studies show (21) that the reason certain individuals who lack empathy have such a hard time navigating through life is that they cannot empathize with their own self in the future, in planning, in order to act in their own best interest – this is a crippling obstacle to the will (an obstacle God can remove).

    Even though our options are ‘given’ rather than chosen — we can shape which options will occur to us (as conceivable) — (and to that extent they are chosen). Knowing that you will only think about what you are exposed to and how you react to it, and that habits form by repeating attitudes/behaviors, you can willfully control what you are exposed to and/or how you react to it. You can therefore condition future reactions. Align your will with the will of God, so that by habit you will perform God’s will even when there is no time for thought. Actions performed as a matter of habit confirm a pattern of past intention. If you make an effort to behave against inclination, that inclination is not your will. That you want to make and do make an effort against it describes who you want to be (and therefore already are). Your inclination is an obstacle to who you want to be, like a broken leg is an obstacle to where you want to go. That inclination is just like a broken leg and does not describe your will. Who you struggle to be, and where you struggle to go describe your will. It’s like when you quit smoking cold-turkey, but still experience the pangs for nicotine — your body/brain wants it (but it is not your will) — it is not you who wants it. It is also like when you decide you are going to change your eating and exercising habits to permanently get rid of accumulated flab — that flabby body does not reflect the current state of your will. That flab is like the light of stars (lol) — it is like looking into the past.

    There is an argument that centers around the narrative of the Fall found in the book of Genesis. This argument claims God failed to provide a consequence Adam and Eve would understand (because they had no idea what death was), and so they were acting in ignorance and didn’t mean to sin; they didn’t possess free choice, they didn’t ‘know’ what they were doing, until after eating the fruit from the Tree of the ‘Know’ledge of Good and Evil. However (if this narrative actually happened, and if we grant they had no idea what death was), in Eden, Adam and Eve knew the difference between eating and not eating the fruit. It is not that their freedom began when they ate of the fruit and God killed an animal to demonstrate death and make them clothing. Before they ate the fruit, they were freely following God. Understanding the consequences was not necessary for them to ‘know’ that they were doing something God warned them not to do, and we should not only do right when there is a reward for it or a punishment for doing wrong (our only motivation should be God’s unmerited love). Additionally, how would God have given a proper demonstration of the kind of death He meant—breaking unity with Him (essential life and goodness)? Adam and Eve could have had as much knowledge as God could give them if they had asked Him for it. That they broke unity to try to be like God apart from Him (essential love) is how they came to be able to distinguish good from evil, rather than only knowing good (though, before disobeying God, they didn’t know they knew good, like spiders don’t know they know webs and birds don’t know they know nests). Knowledge of good is the kind of intuitive, innate sense we discussed earlier which makes us capable of knowing the supernatural standard of God’s goodness. Some have said that we don’t know what good decisions are (and so are not free to make them) until we make ourselves capable of committing and empathizing with the opposite evil. Actually, we don’t know evil without knowing first the good which becomes corrupted (evil). The only good purpose of knowing evil is to develop antibodies against it, but our focus should primarily be to educate ourselves in God’s love. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good,” Romans 12:21. For example, it is good to educate ourselves in CPR so that we are able to provide it when the need arises. If we don’t know CPR, we are not free to provide it correctly, though our free will is intact. Don’t get a guilt trip if you have no time or resources to learn CPR—God saves the world through us as He calls us and will provide the tools He deems necessary.

    It should be noted that our sin does not affect God’s sovereignty. Everything we have ever experienced exists for only one divine purpose: to experience God (Love). Love is not love if it is not chosen, and so requires free will. Without the possibility of rejecting God’s love (at the root of all sin), there is no possibility to choose it. Love must be chosen – it cannot be forced upon us. With moral autonomy comes the ability to go one’s own way, set one’s own standards, yes — “become one’s own law-maker” — but the point of moral autonomy is to be able to adopt God’s requirement as our own: our ultimate fulfillment: love. Our freedom to reject love and responsibility to choose love is a built-in part of this grand creation over which God is sovereign. That we choose to reject love, that we choose to sin in His creation, does not equate to His endorsing what we chose – but it does equate to His endorsing “choice” (for He is not a dictator). C.S. Lewis writes, “(Our) Free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give (us) free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of (robots) would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for (us) is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that (we) must be free,” (18; 48).

    It should also be noted that our freedom to do good does not affect God’s sovereignty, because apart from Him, we are not free to do good. Anyone who thinks they do good apart from God’s unmerited love is mistaken, because whatever they are doing, they are doing it from the wrong motivation. The only right motivation to doing good is unmerited love, God. If we think doing good makes us a good, worthy person, we are enslaved and reject God’s unmerited love. We cannot buy His love with good works, and works cannot really even be considered ‘good’ if not motivated by His unmerited love. Though some have argued that following Christ is stifling, the freest from the bondage of sin, from the mud, are those who walk the closest with God. “Freedom, then, is not the absence of [moral] limitations and constraints but it is finding the right ones, those that fit our nature and liberate us. …What then is the moral-spiritual reality we must acknowledge to thrive? What is the environment that liberates us if we confine ourselves to it, like water liberates the fish? Love. Love is the most liberating freedom-loss of all,” (2; 47, 49, emphasis added). Jesus’ sacrificial love for all of us, His adjusting to us, His pursuing us, requires — motivates — our freely-willed sacrificial love of Him, our own selves, and each other. He is both the Lion and the Lamb, the first and the last, eternally (I AM). Being a Christian means growing in a relationship with Christ who is in us, forging us into authentic beings who acknowledge our sin and accept His unmerited love, freely building our identity on what we look like through His eyes.

  • 412. Misconceptions: Atheists are amoral « orDover  |  January 8, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    [...] use several different systems, including everything from the simple Golden Rule to Humanism to Existentialism. What these systems have in common is the basic concept of empathy: the recognition that personal [...]

  • 413. Alban  |  June 19, 2014 at 4:01 am

    Richard, before trying to change yourself, why not discover the part of you, that is unchangeable? When that huge aspect is overlooked and most of us do overlook that, our minds seek a copycat kind of theme. Real change is not reactive. It is literally proactive. In order for it to be however, you must BE. Sounds almost oxymoronic, but find the changeless in you and then that wisdom can inspire. Can you still make bad decisions?

    Yes, but the field of that opportunity shrinks in addition to compulsive response. Like how a sense of humor can diffuse a ‘confrontation’. Where did that lightness come from, a trained response or real empathy? There will come a time soon where that empathy is recognized as a naturally appearing asset rather than one which is learned or acquired.

    I know it is hard to believe, but the possibility has to be put forward to open our limited horizons. Like living in a box with a window. Most who see what is unexplainable cover up the window while some remove the window structure and climb out. Reverse that and climbing in encourages simple common sense change in a myriad of complication.

  • 414. Alban  |  July 3, 2014 at 11:14 am

    Piper, what topics are you interested in? A number of different perspectives are contributed on this site.

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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