Does God exist? Why I think the answer is no.


If God does not exist, where did the universe come from?


It came from previously existing matter and energy in what’s called the Big Bang. Now, let me ask you, if God does exist, where did God come from?

God is eternal. This is part of what it means to be God.

You are saying that the universe had to come from somewhere, therefore God must have created it. Yet, you are also saying that God didn’t have to come from somewhere because he always existed. Why is it impossible for you to believe that energy and matter always existed, yet you have no trouble believing that God always existed? Wouldn’t God have to be far more complex than energy and matter and therefore in greater need of an explanation?

But there is also the problem of design. No machine that we can create is nearly so complicated as the human body, yet if you found so much as a watch on a deserted beach, you would know that someone HAD to have created it. Yet, you look at your own body, and insist that it just happened.

I don’t believe my body “just happened.” I believe it is the product of eons of organic evolution by natural selection. We can actually see organic natural selection in process and in the geological record, yet no one has found the least evidence that watches evolve through natural selection. Indeed, this is how we know that a found watch was created.

Does it not worry you that, even if you are right, it would be morally disastrous for society if everyone embraced atheism?

If atheists are immoral, why are there far more of them in universities than in prisons (93% of National Academy of Science members are atheists versus one-fifth of 1% of federal prison inmates), and why are those times and places where religion had its greatest influence infamous for ignorance and cruelty?

Even so, it would seem at least plausible that the fear of eternal punishment would lead many people to behave better than they otherwise would.

I am unaware of any evidence to support the belief that vast numbers of people would suddenly go out and commit crimes were they to become atheists. In fact, I don’t know of even one person who was ever harmed in the name of atheism. It’s the people who act in God’s name that scare me. Look at the Middle East today, and you will get a pretty good idea of how Christians behaved for most of their 2,000-year history.

But why wouldn’t atheists be more likely to behave badly?

They would risk being sent to prison for one thing. I also suspect that much of our morality evolved right alongside our other characteristics. For example, I would be astounded to learn that many of us harbor a secret desire to hit people over the head and steal their money. Whenever someone tells me that the only thing that keeps us all from running amuck is that we’re afraid of hell, I wonder if he’s telling me that he would run amuck if he wasn’t afraid of hell. If he is, then I’m glad he’s afraid. As for most people, I think it is their nature to behave well more often than not. Unfortunately, it’s bad behavior that makes the news. Can you imagine a newscaster saying, “937,000 Americans let another motorist change lanes in heavy traffic today”?

If God does not exist, why do so many people believe in him?

People generally believe whatever they were taught from their earliest childhood. This is why most Americans are Christians and most Indians are Hindus.

But if most people in every part of the world have always believed in God, doesn’t that in itself prove his existence?

Prior to the blossoming of scientific knowledge, a belief in God wasn’t logically justified, but it was readily understandable. Now that science has explained many of nature’s more obvious mysteries, I suspect that there are more atheists. However, people’s belief in God goes beyond an attempt to understand nature. It also offers emotional comfort in time of sickness, death, or other loss, and this is why it is harder to give up than, for example, the belief that the sun revolves around the earth.

Even so, science can’t explain everything.

That is true. Maybe someday it can, but I doubt it.

Doesn’t this leave the door open to a belief in God?

“God did it,” has always been what people said about a phenomenon that they didn’t understand. Take lightning, for example. Now that we know that lightning is caused by the attraction between positive and negative electrical charges, we give that as the answer when a child asks what causes lightning. If everyone who came before us had settled for “God did it” as an explanation for natural phenomena, we would know little more than we did thousands of years ago.

But you can’t prove God doesn’t exist.

No, but neither can I prove that invisible Martians don’t inhabit my clothes dryer or that my schnauzer doesn’t speak German when he’s alone with other schnauzers. The person who claims that something is true is the one who is obligated to prove it.

If there was no God, there could be no guarantee of justice. People could do horrible things and get away with them.

If there is a God, there can still be no justice. Take the story of Job. His family was killed, his wealth was taken away, and his body was afflicted with boils. His family and wealth were later replaced, and his body was made whole again. Do you imagine that this made up for the injustice he suffered? The only way that justice could really be served would be for injustice to never exist.

You spoke of the emotional comfort that a belief in God brings. Do you not feel a lack of this in your own life?

Yes. Not all atheists do, but I do. Believers often speak of belief as if it were a choice, but I see no evidence that this is true. Certainly, it has not been true in my own life. I grew up believing, and I struggled desperately to hold onto my belief when it began to slip away at age eleven or twelve. But no matter how much comfort I thought it would bring me, I was unable to accept with my heart that which seemed absurd to my mind.

Without God, for what possible purpose do any of us exist?

Without God, there can be no ordained purpose. This is not to say that our lives can have no purpose but that it is up to us to give them a purpose.

Yes, but any purpose we find will be transitory.

This is true, but then our lives and the lives of all those for whom we might do good are also transitory. This means that whatever good I do can be extremely beneficial when measured by the scale of human, animal, or even plant life. It also means that the evil I do can be extremely harmful. I know of no stronger argument for doing good than that our lives are but a flicker against the darkness of eternity.

96 comments:

Marion said...

God exists. I have no highbrow arguments or scientific reasonings. I was raised with no organized religion. And yet I know that God exists as does Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I do not go to church, although I've spent time studying every major eastern and western religion. I've read the Bible through 4 times. God speaks to me and no, I'm not on psychopharmaceuticals. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God exists because I have experienced his presence, his love and his being-ness. I believe that nature mirrors God and each year I watch it die and be reborn. But that's not why I believe. I believe in God because I choose to and it has made my life richer and more fulfilling. And I also respect you, as a fellow traveller, to believe whatever you want.

Love & Blessings, Snow! I hope you're feeling better! xoxo

Green-Eyed Momster said...

I love this post! Love, love, love it! I feel the same way.

Hope you are happy and feeling well. I am trying to catch up with you!

T

Natalie said...

God IS the energy and matter you speak of.It's that simple.'God' is just a label for it.
I actually lean on the cynical, scientific proof side of the fence, but have experienced so many miracles, that i can no longer deny that a 'loving energy' permeates my matter.

Diana said...

Belief is most definitely a choice as is over analyzing. Give it a rest already and shit or get off the pot.
No one has the answers. When we die we won't be able to give the answers then either .
So just choose and get on with your life.
No one can choose for you. And quite frankly, by your age you should have a clue as to how you feel.
You'll never find the eternal answers so just get on with it boy.
Do you ever have fun even through your pain? If not I am so sorry.
But then perhaps it is pity that feeds you.
Dear Snow I really do think that you have much too much time on your hands to think. If you are so focused on weather or not God exits, all of the time, you will just drive yourself crazy.
CHILL OUT!!!!
Love Di ♥

C Woods said...

This was a great post. I hope you don't mind if I put a link to it on my blog.

I felt little emotional discomfort when I lost my faith. Actually, I felt relief. I no longer had to feel guilty about not believing enough or being "good" enough to get to heaven. I didn't have to hate people who didn't believe as I did. (Although Christianity doesn't necessarily preach hatred, it is rather implied that anyone who doesn't accept Jesus is an evil sinner headed for everlasting damnation. Most organized groups of non-believers can show numerous examples of hate mail wishing their members pain and death ---and almost all of them are sent by "good" Christians.)

There is a certain comfort in belonging to a community of like-minded people such as a religious congregation. And many of these groups do good things for their members. When my sister was dying of cancer, her church was very supportive, delivering dinners and driving her to appointments. But I'm sure I could rely on friends, both religious and non-religious, to help me in a pinch.

One thing I have observed about non-believers, though, is that they are a rather independent bunch. They know if something has to be done, they have to do it themselves. They cannot rely on prayer or magical thinking. And most religious people can't rely on it either. Otherwise they would not visit doctors when they are ill or donate to charities to feed the hungry, help people in disaster areas, or do medical research. To a "true believer," prayer would be enough. Yet, we see how society and the courts treat those who refuse medical attention for curable illnesses, especially for their children, relying solely on prayer. Our judicial system apparently doesn't believe in prayer either, for they have often convicted such parents of manslaughter and/or abuse, or even forced them to seek medical help.

Kerry said...

I really respect the way you construct an argument, and the thought that you give to it. I look forward to the response of your readers.

If not religious, do you consider yourself spiritual? What is the difference between these things? Can you be one without being the other? (I'm interviewing you!)

Rita said...

Yikes!

Bernie said...

Not going there with you this time Snow.....you know how much I love my faith and there is nothing you or anyone could say that would change.my.mind.ever.

If you spent more time in prayer Snow perhaps you would have less time to try and think up ways to prove to yourself there is no God, and that is what you are doing you know. You are trying to justify why you feel this way....it won't work on Christians and may even upset some of them.

I don't even have to think about it, its called Faith and my life is so much richer for it. Life is good. Good Luck on this subject my friend but somehow I think you enjoy these controversial subjects.........:-) Hugs

Snowbrush said...

Marion, you said that God speaks to you, yet you also said that your belief in God is a matter of choice. I'm not sure how to combine the two statements, so I'm wondering if you would clarify.

Green-eyed Monster said: "I love this post! Love, love, love it! I feel the same way."

Thank you. I'm aware that several of my readers are either atheists or agnostics. I've read that about 5% of people are. I've also read that most voters--in the U.S anyway--would elect anyone whomsoever to office before they would elect an atheist no matter how glowing his qualifications.

Natalie said: "God IS the energy and matter you speak of.It's that simple.'God' is just a label for it."

This is the pantheist view. Tell me though, why add the extra label? Why not just call energy and matter energy and matter? (Please see what I wrote to Kerry about pantheism.)

Diana said: "Do you ever have fun even through your pain?"

I had fun writing this post, Diana. Recording my thoughts in a systematic manner gives me enormous pleasure. I wrote this out of the blue, yet it all flowed so smoothly that I suspect I was probably pondering it at some level.

Diana said: "You'll never find the eternal answers so just get on with it boy."

"Boy"? Oh my goodness. I haven't been called boy since several years before my mother died in 1986, and she only called me that when she was exasperated.

C Woods said: "This was a great post. I hope you don't mind if I put a link to it on my blog."

Thank you. I would be honored. I was hoping you would like it.

C Woods said: "Most organized groups of non-believers can show numerous examples of hate mail wishing their members pain and death ---and almost all of them are sent by "good" Christians."

I've gotten hate mail when I criticized religion, and I'm sure you have too. That so many believers can be so vicious is what scares me most about religion. I've no doubt whatsoever that millions and millions of Christians would like nothing better than to see people like you and me die a horrible death, and that if they had the political strength they would inaugurate a new Holy Inquisition (it really was called that).

Kerry said: "If not religious, do you consider yourself spiritual?"

Yes. This is why I am torn between referring to myself as a pantheist or an atheist. A pantheist IS an atheist regarding the supernatural (actually EVERYONE is an atheist in regard to versions of God that they disagree with), but he feels awestruck--even worshipful--toward the natural world. The problem with designating myself as a pantheist, as I see it, is that it's an implied put-down of atheism. It is, in effect, saying that those who choose to call themselves atheists only are bereft of the ability to feel such awe, and I know this isn't true. Carl Sagan and Chet Raymo are well-known examples.

Rita said: "Yikes!"

Could you elaborate, Rita?

Bernie said: "you know how much I love my faith and there is nothing you or anyone could say that would change.my.mind.ever."

Yes, I have some idea of how much you love your faith, and I never for a moment expected to change your mind, Bernie. I am entirely content for you to believe as you think best.

Bernie said: "I think you enjoy these controversial subjects."

Yes, this is true, but you might not understand why. My purpose is to challenge people to think about points of view that are dear to me but that they might not ordinarily encounter. I would be surprised if I ever persuaded anyone to agree with me (although it's possible, certainly), but at the very least, I might promote understanding and tolerance of other viewpoints.

As for your belief that I'm trying to prove to MYSELF that there is no God despite my statement to the contrary, I am curious as to why you would make such a charge?

Natalie said...

I didn't make the label, I have just noticed that is what people call it.
Snow, It doesn't matter what you believe, or I believe, or Bernie believes.
All that matters is this :
An appreciation for all living things
Harm none...even yourself.
Love is a doing word,express it in every opportunity that comes your way.
You don't have to go to church to do these things.
As far as I can see, you do it all anyway.
You are a beautiful human being, and I suspect you underestimate your worth.You have made a significant impact on many people.

You have made my life all the richer for having been in it.
Just relax, and do what you do best.......bring people together. ♥

Rita said...

Just ignore that last comment. I was quite surprised to see it there myself this morning. Thank goodness it's not the worst comment I ever made while blogging & drinking. ;)

I spent many years under the thumb of christianity & when I finally broke out to the other side, I was angry, as a lot of people are when they realize they'd been duped or blackmailed or bullied into going against their own good instincts as to what is right & true for them.
As an Atheist, I have found inner peace with myself & a true affection for humankind by embracing my own secular humanist ideals.
Which coincidentally, seem to be pretty much in line with your way of thinking.
Christians like to think that they have a monopoly on the ultimate truth. O.K. Whatever! IMO, They sure have fallen short in the real world. Convenient for them that they will be proven right only after they are dead. :)

All Consuming said...

Interesting stuff as usual, I think it'd be fair to say I may be a pantheist...then again I tend to think of myself as an atheist, the lines really aren't too clear for me. But I don't lose any sleep over it hahaha

julie mitchell said...

I guess I am with you on this one Snow…It is certainly true that much of the hate in the world is in the name of God..America is a God fearing nation..we even claim that God is on America's side, watching over us as we bomb smaller nations back to the stone age and list the deaths of women and children as collateral damage. This God is not something I want any part of.

I do believe there is something bigger then us and for me it comes down to my belief that we are all one energetically..I believe God/Goddess is in us and we show it through our capacity to love and show compassion. We need to stop looking toward the heavens to save us, and start looking to our hearts. Buddhist don't believe in God. And I know some call it a philosophy rather than a religion. Buddhism doesn’t depend on a punishing god to keep us in line…it teaches that selflessness, ethics, meditation and the wisdom of the sages is what will keep us from doing harm to one another.
…I guess love is my god…the inner light we find in each other that makes us one, it's a soul thing.
hug, hug...thanks for a great thought provoking post!

Snowbrush said...

Natalie said: "I suspect you underestimate your worth"

Yes. Since my first surgery last year, I have cut down on my social contacts until they are all but nonexistent. The Internet is practically all I have other than Peggy, so my life is not well-balanced. I feel invisible among the part of humanity that has faces I can actually look at as we interact.

Natalie said: "Just relax, and do what you do best.......bring people together. ♥"

Would you include this post in your statement? As for being relaxed, I enjoy discussing subjects that people disagree about, and to do so constructively, I have to stay relaxed. Just as some of my posts get a rise out of people, their responses sometimes get a rise out of me, yet I am honored that they care about me (as I generally believe they do), and that they took the time to respond at all, so I relax myself so that I can reply with appreciation.

Everyone who reads this blog knows I'm going to challenge them in some way. That's a big part of why they read it at all, but it also seems to annoy the hell out of them at times. It is NEVER my goal to alienate anyone though. Even when people get mad at me, I never want them to go away.

Rita said: "it's not the worst comment I ever made while blogging & drinking. ;)"

I know what you mean. I always try to remind myself to think hard before I hit that orange button. I'm surprised now to see that you agreed with me. I took "yikes" to mean that you were shocked or offended.

All Consuming said: "the lines really aren't too clear for me. But I don't lose any sleep over it hahaha"

You're like Peggy. The subject doesn't interest her enough to even spend time thinking about it, whereas I was engrossed by it from my earliest memories.

Julie Mitchell said: "we are all one energetically.."

I don't know what this means, perzactly. I realize that matter and energy are the same, and that we are made of the same elements and that these elements are recycled endlessly, so if you call this God, I certainly have no argument. I'll just say that the God I wrote about was supernaturally transcendent.

Julie Mitchell said: "…I guess love is my god…the inner light we find in each other that makes us one, it's a soul thing."

You no doubt realize that this concept is big in Quaker thought, among others. Here again though, I'm not sure what it actually means. To them, it doesn't mean that a supernatural deity doesn't exist, but that he inhabits all of us. Since you, so far as I can tell, don't believe in the supernatural, I'm having trouble grasping your meaning. I suppose you mean that our basic needs and emotions are the same, and that we are therefore bound by our common humanity and by our highest shared values. When I consider the bad behaviors of so many people though, I lose faith in the idea that these shared values exist, or that we are all basically good at heart (as Ann Frank believed). While I don't believe in God, I very much believe in evil.

Vagabonde said...

You have written an interesting post. You know being born in France, which has a real separation of church and state, we do not speak often about religion. It is considered a private subject. Growing up I only knew one girl who went to church, and because her grandma forced her. That is all, truthfully. I just read that the Catholic Church in France has such a hard time finding priests that they hired a PR firm and are having ads on Facebook trying to recruit. Many churches are closed and only have mass once every 5 weeks. Most little towns have only one church anyway. My cousin lives in a town with 24,000 and there is only one church (14th century) and on one Sunday I looked inside and saw about 80 people attending the service, that’s all – out of 24,000! They have other Christian churches, but they are just “Protestant” and that’s all, and not many. Attendance on Sunday is down to less than 5% - compared to the 60% here. I hear that in Portugal it might be even lower (same with Italy, Belgium and Spain.) Churches there are monuments of art. Interesting to know that French people are statistically happier, live longer, with less crime and better health and education than here. In England they are selling their churches as private residences, also in Wales. I know a guy who bought a lovely church in Wales.
One of the reason foreigners distrust Americans is because they see them with a Bible in hand and their great faith, then having no problem letting their president going overseas killing people, or having more homeless per capita than anywhere in the western world. They observed how nothing was done to stop torture or CIA operatives with hidden far away prisons, or spending 600 billions on an illegal war – don’t they follow Jesus? Most of them don’t even know their religion, only the good parts. I have read a lot of hateful comments on evangelical blogs towards non-Christians you know. When French president Sarkozy (conservative) said prayers should come back in public life, huge amount of people walked in the streets to keep separation of church and state. I did not see many people walking in the streets against the government after Katrina?
Your blog looks interesting and deep – I started my blog as a memoir for my grandchildren, to recount my growing up in Paris and also my travels. It is read by my family here and in France, so I don’t talk about sensitive subjects (for the US family – the French one does not care, they are open minded.) Here the conservatives or super Christians do not like to talk with liberals and vice-versa. I like to have a good argument but it is hard to find people with an open mind. I do miss the open mindedness of Europe and the freedom. Yes freedom because in Paris the mayor is openly gay and has been re-elected, French president Mitterand was agnostic and nobody cared. Try to imagine an American president who would be agnostic? Never, even if he was the best for the job. So where is the freedom of that person to run for office? None. I have learnt that both countries have their good and part parts, the problem is when I speak to people here about the bad parts they don’t want to see them – they always say this is the best country in the world. I think there is too much greed here really.
Thanks for coming over to my blog and commenting.

Suzanne said...

You know I come here often, but I can't find my voice. I just read the last three posts and feel overwhelmed. You literally blow me away. I love the fact Kylie thought we would be a great team. We are. That's for sure. Allow her to give me your email or you mine. We'll chat there. You're writing is so powerful and honest. I love coming here because I always learn something. I like that. XO

Snowbrush said...

I'm redoing my last response because I left some important things out.

Vagabonde, thank you so much for your interesting response. You alone made this post worth writing.

As you know (but some may not), here in the U.S., we know little of the rest of the world and their attitudes toward us. There is in our ignorance the implication that we're Number One, and the rest of you don't matter terribly much. Yet, there are also those among us who are constantly mortified by the behavior of our country, particularly the asinine wars that we seem strangely addicted to. They drain us both economically and spiritually and are quite incomprehensible rationally speaking. It's as if being Number One (and I'm not saying we are by any means since we clearly are not in an ever increasing number of categories) requires that we be forever throwing our military might around. Of course, we don't seem to be doing very well anymore even in that category. We've now been in Afghanistan for eight years making it our longest war, yet our head general said just yesterday that neither side is winning. Meanwhile, the body count just keeps going up, and for what?

Here in the U.S. we have various organizations that promote atheism. I just read a book about religion in Scandinavia, and learned that there is no such equivalent in that part of the world. The reason for this is that there are few people left who are religious, and that they have no political power, hence they are of no threat. Here, religion is a very grave threat. Texas, for example, now gives creationism equal weight with evolution in its textbooks, yet creationism is without a scientific basis. Abortion, stem-cell research, gay rights, euthanasia, healthcare, and even free speech, are restricted or opposed in this country primarily because religious groups are against them, and won't vote for candidates who support them regardless of how qualified those candidates are otherwise.

It is also true that members of fundamentalist and evangelical religious groups (which are a major political force here) are MUCH MORE likely to favor war, torture, and long prison sentences, than are secularists. This is because they view the world as "us versus them," and in black and white versus shades of gray.

Many Americans look down on those parts of the world that are less religious, yet, as you pointed out, look at the atrocities WE commit, and look at how our standard of living as measured in numerous ways sinks ever lower. It's all really quite disheartening.

A lot of people share your concern about discussing sensitive subjects on their blogs. As you can tell, I have no such reservations. I assume that few friends or family members read my blog anyway, but even if they did, I have never been a person to keep my opinions to myself. I'm sure I have fewer friends for it though, and I am VERY pained by this, so I can't say that everyone should do the same. Even so, I would live no differently. I had rather alienate the whole world than to keep my mouth shut, although I make a great effort to express myself respectfully.

Suzanne said: "You literally blow me away."

Why, thank you SO MUCH, Suzanne. I'll look into how to share email addresses. I don't list mine on my blog due to the hate mail I sometimes receive, but I don't object at all to sharing it with regular readers. In fact, I like to do so because I never know what might become of Blogger. They could go out of business or start charging us a lot of money, and then our community could vanish overnight.

Bernie said...

Snow what I said was not meant to be a charge at you....I find that if you truly believed that God did not exist then you would not keep talking about it or give your energy to it. You would just accept you beliefs and let others believe what they want. I find those of us who believe never have a post on "does God exist" we just know and it is a peaceful knowing.
Love you.......:-) Hugs

Realliveman said...

"Those who argue for or against God's existence is why God never shows Himself to them"

"Be here, be now, free yourself of such petty arguments and let the universe create the life you were intended"

Snowbrush said...

Bernie said: "...if you truly believed that God did not exist you would not keep talking about it....those of us who believe never have a post on "does God exist" we just know...."

But Bernie, I'm sure you remember Thomas Aquinas, Thomas Merton, Augustine of Hippo, Thomas à Kempis, Bernadette of Lourdes, and others of your Catholic faith who wrote about their beliefs. If you are right about me writing about my non-belief because I actually do believe then wouldn't this mean that they wrote about their belief because they didn't believe?

I will also point out that there ARE people who blog about their religious beliefs. If you don't, maybe you should give some thought to doing so. As Jesus said, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand?"

Here's the way I see it, people write about what interests them. There are those who write about Hitler without approving of Hitler, and there are those who write about the Roman pantheon without believing in the Roman pantheon. In my case, there is also the desire to do my share to make the world a friendlier place for those who feel as I do. One thing is for sure, dear Bernie, if people like myself don't write about atheism, it won't be written about fairly.

Realiveman said: ""Those who argue for or against God's existence is why God never shows Himself to them"

My but God is persnickety. It is my experience that he doesn't show himself to those who give little thought to his existence one way or the other either. This means we're all out of luck with the possible exception of those like yourself who, if I understand you correctly, accept his existence with a quiet knowing.

Realiveman said: "free yourself of such petty arguments and let the universe create the life you were intended"

Surely, you are aware that implicit in both of your sentences is the belief that God exists. Nothing I wrote to the contrary resonates with you, so you dismiss it as petty. I would like for you to consider that your dismissal amounts to a subjective value judgment that is offered without a hint of evidence. Rational argument, I welcome, but simple dismissal is, while acceptable, not terribly useful.

kylie said...

i wrote a comment, please tell me you got it?

Snowbrush said...

Kylie said: "i wrote a comment, please tell me you got it?"

Oh, Kylie, I wish I could, but this is the only comment I got.

babbler said...

Dear Mr. Snowbrush,
Any lack of slime on the belly makes even the most solid ground a very rough subject to cover."

Mrs. Slug applaudes your willingness to tackle the subjects that most slugs would find difficult to ponder with our simple minds. You are a most interesting and thought provoking slug indeed. I like to think, "WWMSD?" (What would Mr. Slug Do?) when deciding on a silvery path on a moonlit night. Of course, I am biased, being the wife of a good hearted slug - like Ann Frank, I want to believe in the goodness of people, and slugs, but life will teach one to look heavenward to see not only the beauty of the clouds and sun and trees, but for the dangerous sole of a shoe that belongs to the human who is not watching where they are going in life.

I know this comment is a little loopy, but, I am a slug so I feel that I am entitled, as you are entitled to state your feelings and beliefs, or non-beliefs any way you wish while you are sliding freely across the ground.
Much love to you and may your belly always have ample slime,
Mrs. Slug

Snowbrush said...

Babbler said: "I know this comment is a little loopy..."

With a blog called Babbler, one would have to charge you with false advertising if it were otherwise.

Babbler said: "life will teach one to look heavenward to see not only the beauty of the clouds and sun and trees, but for the dangerous sole of a shoe..."

Exactly. No one could have put it better.

Babbler said: "I like to think, "WWMSD?" (What would Mr. Slug Do?)"

Mrs. Slug, I doubt that there are many situations in which Mrs. Snowbrush would ask herself what Mr. Snowbrush would do. I can but applaud you in your intelligent choice of a mate, and applaud Mr. Slug in his intelligent choice of himself as himself.

Babbler said: "you are entitled to state your feelings and beliefs, or non-beliefs any way you wish while you are sliding freely across the ground."

Or while standing on a mountain top with a sweet fragrance issuing from my shiny but sticky leaves. For you forget, Mrs. Slug, that I am a plant. Some might say that my resultant lack of a brain explains a great deal.

Angela said...

Dear Snowbrush, there is always so much READING here to do, and then thinking, and nodding, and headshaking, and smiling. I love your blog, but it sure takes up a lot of time! In my head I have been writing you a long email, but when I read Vagabonde`s answer to you, I found she had already said much of it. I would like to have your mail address so I could tell you more about our non-American views on your world! Creationism is something we can only shake our heads over... The God of American Bible churches is indeed also one I could not live with but I do believe in Love. I do.

Mim said...

Great post as usual.

I believe in God(s) but I don't believe/accept religion. Makes no sense to me to mandate rituals.

I also believe that I exist - which might be dis-proven someday. By that time I'm sure I won't care.

and I also believe that schnauzers speak German when together - of course they do!!!

kylie said...

i was here tyo give you my thoughts (again) on faith in God and so forth but it's pretty tough to come afetr mrs slug :)

i think i have told you before, snow, but i'll throw it into the mix.

i was raised in a christian home, i still identify as christian and i believe in God but it's a bit of a vexed subject.
sometimes i think i hear the big fella but it could just be my own mind....
i want to believe in a loving God but i dont understand why he isnt giving me what i hope for, i dont hope for much

struggling with faith might make me a "bad" Christian but i think it is to be expected given that i am scientifically qualified, ie educated to question

at the end of the day i just accept the questions as part of the fabric of life and feel grateful that i dont just accept what somebody tells me

Zuzana said...

Having a philosophical conversation with you would be indeed an intriguing experience.;)
As a scientist, I have to agree with you on all points. As a human being and as an artist, I need to disagree on some. I guess I need to believe that the world does contain an ounce of magic in it, as I see miracles happening everywhere around me, that no natural laws an explain. Even Einstein said:
"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed."
Have a great weekend,
xo

rhymeswithplague said...

As you know, I never discuss sex, politics, or religion. Well, okay, sometimes. I saw your post title and thought "Here we go again..." so don't say you never get any exercise, Snow, because you are riding that same old horse. (This is meant to be humorous, but if you find it otherwise, I do apologize.)

I for one (I can't speak for the millions and millions) do not wish "people like you and C. Wood" would die a horrible death or want to start any sort of Holy Inquisition. I believe you have engaged in what my literature teacher called hyperbole.

But I do suspect that you are still being paid by that American Atheist Magazine or whatever it was called that you used to be editor of (bad humor again, not to mention bad grammar)....

I like you no matter what you say about me.

Teresa said...

Snow, you are trying to perceive God with your mind...(that is like an ant trying to figure out what is going on in your mind.)

Open your heart...to the miracles all around you.

(((HUGS))) T

Marion said...

Snow, I don't know how to explain it to you. It's like saying I choose to breathe or my heart chooses to beat. But I'll think some more and see what I can come up with. (I like that you always make me think...) Words are sometimes inadequate to explain what the heart feels/knows. Love & Blessings!!

Snowbrush said...

Angela said: "I love your blog, but it sure takes up a lot of time!"

I go to great pains to shorten what I write and to make it easily readable, yet reading about ideas necessarily takes longer than reading a story or an account of what someone did with their day, for example.

Mim said: "I believe in God(s) but I don't believe/accept religion. Makes no sense to me to mandate rituals. "

I assume, then, that your practice your spirituality alone--if you practice it at all. Do you feel no need for a shared spiritual expression? Such things are what I miss most about church.

Kylie said: "i dont understand why he isnt giving me what i hope for"

Jesus said in John 14:13 "Whatsoever you shall ask the Father in my name, that will I do." Guess he was mistaken, eh?

Zuzana said: ""The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious."

What did I say to make you think I felt otherwise? As for believing in miracles, would you please define what constitutes a miracle? I find that people often argue over what they believe because they are unaware that they are defining words differently.

Rhymes said: "I believe you have engaged in...hyperbole."

Point taken. I could have said millions with complete confidence, but I stretched it into millions and millions without being completely confident, so I will accept your charge. I will also say though that when horribly unfair and cruel events like the Inquisition--or America's endless wars--occur, there are those relatively few people who actually carry them out and then there are the greater part of the population that supports them, if only by their silence and/or the taxes they pay.

Teresa said: "you are trying to perceive God with your mind..."

Other than an undefined reference to your heart, you didn't say what you perceive God with, so I have no place to go with this. I hope you will elaborate because I truly don't understand what you mean.

Marion said: "Words are sometimes inadequate to explain what the heart feels/knows."

Another reference to heart (see my response to Teresa). By heart do you mean feelings or emotions, perhaps?

I never feel limited by words. I see it this way. "Saving Private Ryan" was said by many veterans to be an accurate portrayal of war. Yet, how silly would any of us have to be to see that movie and think we understood war. After all, it wasn't we ourselves who were being shot at as sat in the theater, and our entire experience lasted less than two hours. Words are the same. I can describe my chronic pain quite accurately, but I can't make anyone understand what it is like to feel it day after day for years. I don't blame this on words though. I think they do as much as they can reasonably be expected to do.

I think though that using words to communicate beliefs and ideas is a different (and easier) matter than using words to describe our feelings about our experiences. If I can't tell you what I believe, it's due to my limitation and not to the limitation of language. I might need to further clarify my thoughts to myself, or I might need to be sure we agree on the definitions of the words we're using, but I am convinced that any idea that can be thought can be accurately expressed.

Whether by "heart" you meant the former (a personal experience) or the latter (an idea) I don't know.

kylie said...

i'm probably asking in my name. thats who wants it

Confessions of a Closet Hoarder but you can call me Judy said...

Thank you for stopping by my blog last night, Snow. It's nice to meet you. :)

You've written a very thought provoking post. I am a Christian, but I am also interested in what others believe. I just don't care for confrontational arguments against one another. I'm not a real confrontational person.

I hope you get good news from your doctor, and that you don't have CRPS. I will be praying for you. I hope you don't mind. :)

Teresa said...

Snow, I tried to make my statement as simple as I could. No amount of human reasoning can understand God, just as no amount of ant reasoning(providing and ant can reason) can understand a man:

Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God for he will freely pardon.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither your ways are my ways," declares the Lord.
"As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed, for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it"....
Isaiah 55:6-11

I think you understand this...quit trying to figure it all out, because you never will...

By opening your heart I mean, just be still...let go and let God...expect a miracle...

Snowbrush said...

Kylie said: "i'm probably asking in my name. thats who wants it"

I spent years excusing God for his failure to keep his promise to reveal himself to those who sought him (namely me). One day it occurred to me that, even if I were to blame for his failure to reveal himself to me, he didn't seem to be revealing himself to other people either because if he had, they wouldn't be fighting tooth and nail (whether verbally or physically) over what the Bible says, over what denomination he prefers, and even over whether he is going to send all the Moslems to hell for not being Christians or all the Christians to hell for not being Moslems. And I won't even get into issues like slavery, women's rights, abortion, evolution, and countless others about which Christians bitterly disagree with other Christians.

Closet Hoarder wrote: "I hope you get good news from your doctor, and that you don't have CRPS. I will be praying for you. I hope you don't mind. :)"

It now appears that I have syringomyelia instead of CRPS. They both turn you into a pain-wracked invalid, but the former is harder to pronounce.

Teresa said: "I think you understand this...quit trying to figure it all out"

Teresa, I don't know what it is you think I understand. As for not trying to figure things out, the unwillingness to think rationally about religion seems to me to be responsible for a great deal of the harm it causes. However, I will grant that Jesus never once praised curiosity, intelligence, rationality, or skepticism. Instead, he threw tantrums because people didn't trust him to be the "Son of Man" based upon his personal say so. David Koresh, Jim Jones, Sun Myung Moon, and L. Ron Hubbard behaved similarly. Prudent discernment is inseparable from rationality.

Teresa said...

You are right Snow, Jesus, just wants us to 'believe', 'and keep our eyes on Him, and follow Him.

Never once did he ask us to follow a man, such as David Koresh, Jim Jones, Sun Myung Moon, nor L. Ron Hubbard.

I guess that is far to simple, for such a wise man as you. Your prudent discernment may be just a lack of "trust". I am just saying... ((((HUGS))) T

Crazed Mom said...

I'm starting to doubt. What kind of God would take my 10 month old and leave me to fall to pieces. Now my 19yo wants to join the Army Rangers. All I know is that if I lose another child, I will not be able to cope. Not at all.

Where's God in my life lately? Either he's hiding or he's left me.

Snowbrush said...

Teresa said: "I guess that is far to simple, for such a wise man as you."

Teresa. I can't think of anything more to say to you on this subject, and I am sorry for that.

Crazed Mom: "What kind of God would take my 10 month old and leave me to fall to pieces."

I have never found an answer that made even the least sense to me. The injustice and cruelty that exists in a world which is supposedly under the jurisdiction of an all strong, all smart, and all loving deity was what initially caused me to doubt God's existence at age eleven. I was so desperate to hold onto what little faith I had left that I undertook the study of theology at an Independent Methodist college seven years later, but the answers it provided struck me as so bizarre that they only made me more of skeptic.

I think that a person of faith would do well to follow the path that Teresa has taken (assuming i understand her correctly) and simply stop asking tough questions. As Jesus put it: "...whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it."

Because I have never been able to help but ask questions, and because I considered the answers I found to be woefully inadequate, I no longer even want to believe in the God who is portrayed in the Bible--both Old and New Testaments--because he is is a deity for whom I feel only contempt.

I am very sorry for your loss. All that I have to offer is to remind you that you have other reasons to carry on. The worst loss that I can imagine in my own life would be to lose my wife, Peggy, and I honestly don't know if this same advice would carry me through that. I say this to assure you that I in no way mean to minimize your grief. Far from it.

Teresa said...

Hi Snow,
I certainly hope I did not offend you in any way...that was not my intent.

You are a very wise and intelligent man, and like you said : As Jesus put it: "...whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it."

That was the exact point I was trying to make. Sometimes, we over think things...I do it too. I believe God sees the bigger picture...in all things, things we could not even imagine.

((HUGS and BLESSINGS))) T

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Snow, Always interesting; always compelling.

Snowbrush said...

Teresa said: "I certainly hope I did not offend you in any way..."

I wasn't offended. As I said further up, I try to maintain an attitude of gratitude toward those who respond to my posts. Even if I think someone is trying to be rude or condescending (and I rarely do think this), I remind myself that I can't really know what is in his or her heart. This usually enables me to respond respectfully or at least civilly. I have gotten very few comments that were so vicious that they left no room for doubt, and those I didn't publish.

You approach your religion through faith as Jesus emphasized that you should do. I hold such an approach in low esteem (and here it is I who do not mean to be rude) because it leaves no room for discernment. Take Jesus' example of believing as a little child (not just any child but a little child). A little child lacks the experience necessary to examine statements (or people) critically or even rationally, and this makes him prey to those who would manipulate him for evil ends. An adult who approached religion "as a little child" would be equally vulnerable. Even if I believed in a supernatural deity, I would not expect him to give us such intelligence as we are are least capable of demonstrating if he did not expect us to use it in matters of religion as much as in anything else.

On this subject, we each think the other's approach to be in error.

rhymeswithplague said...

What, exactly, is "an Independent Methodist college"?

The great unanswered question that people always use to dismiss God as a monster is always some version of "Why would He take my ten-month-old child?" This has always baffled me, because it seems to imply that human beings think they should be immune from death, that they should be immortal, that they don't think anyone should ever die at all, that "if I were God I would do things differently", and so forth. Isaiah wrote that Satan said "I will be like the Most High" and that has always been our problem as a race, from the Garden until now. We think we know better.

My point is that we are not God, no matter how much we think we could do a better job. As usual, I'm not saying this very well.

dana said...

I worked hard for 40 years to trust and believe in God. When I asked questions, I was told "We won't know the answer until we are dead and then the questions won't be important" huh? "someone" created life and has all the knowledge of life, yet leave us alone to ponder the unanswerable until we are DEAD? WHAT blessing is that?

In human's struggle to shove their beliefs down our throats, NEW "technology" says that dinosaurs only existed 15,000 years ago and were mentioned in the Bible under the name mammoth (used ONCE) in direct opposite of the word "lamb" and "sheep".

Wouldn't something as immense as dinosaurs be given more than one word?

I have been told that I work overtime to point out that there is no God, and yet christians working overtime to insist there IS a god are considered to be doing the GOOD WORK of the bible.

There is definitely a double standard.

The only "fact" I have regarding the absence of god is that of my "soul-less" pets. They stand by me and would fight a bear to save ME. I would NEVER allow THEM to suffer if it was in my power to prevent it.

Compare that simplicity to the millions of people who insist THEIR god LOVES them, and only ALLOWS their suffering so that they can GROW in their LOVE of their FATHER.

I insist it doesn't make sense and they insist that it gives them peace. Personally, it gives me nightmares to believe there is a power that LOVES me yet demands that I FEAR him.

If it were TRUE, there wouldn't be so many giant question marks in our brains. We eventually give up and "trust" that it's true, or give up when we realize it's not.

If it WAS true, every newborn - fresh from god's hand - would be born KNOWING, without having to be brainwashed into believing.

Teresa said...

Actually Snow, I have been duped and scared by a 'supposed man of God' who did take advantage of my 'childlike' faith.

It was after this event that I gained much wisdom and discernment, about whom I should follow.

Jesus, has never, nor can He ever, lead me astray. However, there is much evil in this world, and I am very well aware that I can be led astray and decieved so very easily, not only by the evil, but by my own flesh. I confess I am a sinner and no better than anyone else, for none are good, not one.

However, I believe that God's Grace is Sufficient...even for me.

But by the Grace of God go I...whether I am a vulnerable little child, or a wise and discerning adult. God's Grace is sufficient for you too...accept this wonderful gift!

T

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I see an elephant.
And I believe in God.
I taste a strawberry.
And I believe in God.
I smell a gardenia.
And I believe in God.

If one feels the need to prove the existence of God in a scientific fashion, I doubt it could ever be done. That's why it's called faith, I suppose.

Snowbrush said...

Dana, I would be happy to print at least one of your responses if you don't object. Just let me know. I certainly don't want to presume.

Rhymes said: "What, exactly, is "an Independent Methodist college"?"

My impression was that at least two off-shoot Methodist groups went together to run the school. I suppose they left the United Methodist Church because they felt it was too liberal. I don't really know for sure, and neither do I know at what point the split or splits occurred as I was never interested enough to inquire. You might google the terms Independent Methodist and Methodist Protestant.

Rhymes said: "it seems to imply that human beings think they should be immune from death, that they should be immortal, that they don't think anyone should ever die at all"

If God is all powerful AND all loving, why should anyone have to suffer or die, particularly ten month old babies? The answers to this always come down to the fact that human freewill can trump the best laid plans of God, which would, of course, imply that he really isn't all powerful after all, even if he is all loving.

Teresa, hanks for sharing your personal experience with having your faith abused.

Pamela Terry and Edward said: I see an elephant.
And I believe in God. I taste a strawberry. And I believe in God. I smell a gardenia. And I believe in God.

I found it interesting that all the things you mentioned were pleasurable, If you are satisfied that, despite all the pain in the world, gardenias and strawberries prove the existence of God, then I'm at a loss for words. As you admitted, his existence can't be proven, which was pretty much my point, although I would add that there are a great many things that would seem to make it terribly unlikely.

mac said...

I like it :-)

I hear, a lot, that life cannot come from nonlife as a reasoning for god, any god.

BUT, none can explain, without denying their previous claim, from where God came.

"Well, god was always was" ...but I thought existence can't just be?


Still, none can explain it in a fashion I understand!

Rinkly Rimes said...

As an agnostic since the age of 14 I'm so used to 'nothingness' that it really doesn't worry me! I enjoyed the arguments and I'll be back for more.

All Consuming said...

Nooo, it does interest very much indeed, and I have thought about it for as long as I can remember reasoning, I just don't worry about it enough to lose sleep I meant.

Diana said...

Boredom, it must be nice. LOL!
Love Di ♥

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I was not commenting merely on the pleasurable, but the unique.

I believe we live in a fallen world, one rife with pain and suffering. I believe in both good and evil. I do not believe God causes pain and it is a mystery to me why He allows it. However, I have felt His comfort in the midst of pain, and I have seen His goodness in the midst of suffering.

Snowbrush said...

Mac said: "none can explain, without denying their previous claim, from where God came."

Yes, and their attempt constitutes a logical fallacy known as special pleading in which a person applies a requirement to one thing (in this case life) while exempting another thing (in this case God) without justifying the exemption.

Rinkly Rimes said: "As an agnostic since the age of 14..."

I would ask you what I recently asked a penpal. Namely, the agnostic position admits that there is at least some evidence to support a belief in God. I'm wondering in your case what that evidence would be. In asking this, I'm aware that most people--whether believers or atheists--probably don't hold their opinion as so completely certain that they would admit not possibility whatsoever of error. Even so, they feel sure enough to come down on one side or the other, whereas the agnostic is forever on the fence.

All Consuming said: "it [whether she is a pantheist or an atheist] does interest very much indeed, and I have thought about it for as long as I can remember reasoning, I just don't worry about it enough to lose sleep..."

Same here. I would like to call myself a pantheist because it's a positive statement of belief rather than a negative statement of disbelief. However, I always run into the objection that was (so far as I am aware) first raised by Schopenhauer in 1851 as to whether the pantheist position actually is a positive statement:

"The chief objection I have to pantheism is that it says nothing. To call the world God is not to explain it; it is only to enrich our language with a superfluous synonym for the world wold."

Diana said: "Boredom, it must be nice. LOL!"

What do you mean, Diana?

Pamela Terry and Edward said: "I have felt His comfort in the midst of pain, and I have seen His goodness in the midst of suffering."

So is it fair to say that you believe in God based upon your own experience? If this is the case, is it possible that your experience could have been caused by your mental state rather than by a supreme being?

...I just re-read your previous response in which you emphasized the importance of faith, so perhaps that would be your basis for identifying your experience as emanating from God.

julie mitchell said...

I believe in the supernatural…I do believe things happen beyond scientific explanation….I believe in angels and spirit guides…I believe that we really are all one in that we all come from stardust. We humans are like everything else, made up of energy, we mingle those energies together when we are with one another, we become one to varying degrees.. I believe that God is love…not some figure sitting in a chair judging us as good or bad…not up there somewhere granting wishes and answering prayers...I believe that this God love energy is born with us and is always there, inside our souls…shining brighter for some than for others. I believe that miracles happen all the time, and that they occur because of love. I believe we are here together to listen to each others stories and learn to love each other and have compassion for our fellow travelers.….and when we all open up to love and compassion there will be heaven on earth....that’s pretty much it…...I don't believe that we are all good...I do mean that we all come into the world filled with Spirits light. Stuff happens that keeps us from accessing our highest good...I keep going back up to the original comment you made relating to my comment...I think I'm covered everything...and no I don't know much about the Quakers...I think I would like to though.
Hope you're having a good day...hug, hug

Reuben said...

This final paragraph did not fit:

On a somewhat different note, what I appreciate predominantly about your blog is that and the way in which you tell stories with a straightforward style that resonates in its emotional depth despite our vastly different circumstances. I am not usually interested in the exact milligrams of unpronounceable medications that the author has taken. That you sometimes make such direct forays into the topic at hand is an added benefit.

Reuben said...

Having read your original post and then waded through the 54 comments here, a mixture of good sense, drivel, and some things between, one fact that I note with some surprise is that none of the defenders of theism or other vague spiritualities here have attempted to rebut any of your contentions via logical and evidential arguments. Rather they have been an assortment of appeals to allegedly self-validating generic experiences and personal intuitions. Your patient and competent responses nicely identify and challenge such comments. But the interest expressed by your interlocutors in both your writing and welfare prevents me from picking quarrels, moreover that is your prerogative as the owner of this blog.

Thus I briefly take up the question posed to Rinkly Rimes, though she may choose to respond otherwise, on the arguments preventing agnostics from falling on the side of atheism. Personally, I am not quite comfortable even with the title agnostic, which is often imagined to belie apathy or superficiality. I most honestly identify as a self-styled “disjunctivist,” as if the philosophical lexicons were not already engorged with abstruse terminology. That is, I consider a string of disjunct propositions regarding the metaphysical question at hand to be more probable than any one of its given disjuncts, including most perspicuously, that a theistic God exists, and that no gods exist.

By way of anticipating a possible rejoinder, I agree that this *seems* like a trivial position that would be advocated by anyone who is not a hardened dogmatist. However, I maintain this model for it best captures the fact that depending upon the article I am reading, the last debate I watched, the figures on my recent bank statement, the temperature of the room, and infinite other factors, the collection of disjuncts will more impress themselves upon my reasoning differently then they had an hour before. Thus weights in the pans shift, and sometimes my atheism is up, and sometimes my deism levels with my pantheism, and so on. Of course, most disjuncts remain very light, while theism and atheism generally consume most of my attention.

To return to the question then, what *arguments* prevent atheism from tipping the scales irrevocably, and not mere moods (which admittedly play a significant role), I briefly note three, any of which you are likely familiar with. Christian apologist Bill Craig once sold me on the Kalam Cosmological Argument in his book of the same title, and though I was later introduced to reasons for skepticism, I have not been persuaded that it is unsound. The teleological argument from the fine-tuning of the universe to an intelligent designer, coupled with the anthropic principle, remains plausible to me despite or because of my vast ignorance of physics, though the plain failure of some popular criticisms by its detractors suggests that the argument is rather robust. While I admit that the moral argument is often tied to a kind of pragmatism, and that divine command theory has received a bad rap, I have yet to see how realism in this field, which is certainly desirable and perhaps true, can be achieved on atheism, while it seems plausible on theism. I am open to education on any of these points.

Some arguments that compel me very little or not whatsoever include varieties of the ontological argument, varieties of Pascal’s Wager, historical arguments for the resurrection of Jesus (or the activity of any other holy figure), and personal testimonies of miracles and religious experiences. Other arguments fall somewhere between, the better of which conspire with my psychology to prevent me from settling comfortably into atheism.

Rob-bear said...

Interesting conversations you stir up, Snow.

Keep having fun with it.

Loved the first part:

If God does not exist, where did the universe come from?

It came from previously existing matter and energy in what’s called the Big Bang. Now, let me ask you, if God does exist, where did God come from?

That "previously existing matter and energy", actually, was God. (And it's not pantheism, it's panentheism — there is a profound difference between them.)

And to recall your own wisdom: "Tell me though, why add the extra label [i.e., "the Big Bang]?" The "label" God was around long before the "label" called the Big Bang.

Hugs (gentle ones) from the Bear up north. :)

Snowbrush said...

I posted the following and right away saw one grammatical error, so in the few moments I have left before I have to go somewhere, I'm going to correct it.

Hi, Julie, I appreciate your statement of what you believe. I could ask questions about it, but I'm beginning to feel uncomfortable with my growing role as the challenger of individual respondent's beliefs.

Reuben said: "one fact that I note with some surprise is that none of the defenders of theism or other vague spiritualities here have attempted to rebut any of your contentions..."

This has been my consistent experience with such posts. I suspect that most of those who disagree with my position pay little attention to my arguments. I must admit that I have come to do the same regarding arguments from the other side. I would emphasize "have come to" because I once wanted very much to be persuaded, but was unable to find a single book from the pro-belief side that I did not find embarrassing by virtue of its shallowness and its egregious errors in logic. It was the arguments FOR belief that led me to the final loss of my belief moreso than the arguments against belief.

As for not feeling that you can come down solidly on the side of atheism, I would guess (and please tell me if I'm wrong) that such skepticism (if I may call it that) is a position that you often find comfort in in regard to philosophical issues that are of no immediate importance to you, but not in regard to practical issues that are.

Here is how I see it. If I waited to announce my position about anything until I achieved what I considered to be a permanent level of 100% certainty, I would be forever in limbo about everything. Yet, I choose to live as if I believe some things to be true and other things to be false. In congruence with this approach, I take my vitamins, look both ways before I cross the street, faithfully invest money in my Roth IRA, and consider myself an atheist, at least in regard to a supernatural deity. Fence-sitting, however justified, is not a lifestyle that I find easily tenable despite that fact that the earliest skeptics employed it as a remedy for emotional distress. Yet, I must admit that my level of comfort with the decisions I make vary. For example, I am often tempted to pull my Roth money out of stocks and put it into government bonds.

Reuben said: "Other arguments fall somewhere between, the better of which conspire with my psychology to prevent me from settling comfortably into atheism."

My psychology is the reason that I HAVE settled into atheism. Can I say with 100% certainty that a supernatural deity doesn't exist? No. I am stuck at around 95%. This is intellectually sufficient, in my mind, for atheism. Emotionally, it's another story. Given my fundamentalist upbringing, I suppose I will always be haunted by the specter of the God of the Old Testament because, although my church spoke of Christ, the emphasis was on hellfire and God's righteous wrath and indignation against his fucked-up (through no fault of his own, of course) creation.

Rob-bear said: "And to recall your own wisdom: "Tell me though, why add the extra label [i.e., "the Big Bang]?" The "label" God was around long before the "label" called the Big Bang."

I take it, Rob-bear, that you mean this playfully since you know full well that the word God and the term Big Bang are hardly synonymous.

I very much appreciate both of you guys. Reuben, it's obvious that you spent a lot of time on this post, reading people's responses, and formulating your own response. And Rob, I know you've spent a lot of time going back over old posts. I am honored by the attention you both have paid me.

lakeviewer said...

I'm uncomfortable leaving another comment here. Too many people, too much noise. You've laid out the argument very clearly. Yet, those who need to believe, believe. Religion is a security blanket, a catch all set of norms to aid ethical behavior and communal mores.

Sparx said...

This is the best post I've read in ages on any blog. I straddle the fence. I have a real belief that there is a God and an equally deep belief in science and physics; I don't think the two are mutually exclusive. I think what people refer to as 'God' is essentially the force that ties all matter together, whatever that may be. HOWEVER, what people actually EXPERIENCE as God is what comes from within themselves, I believe.

Religion is good in that it supports people who may not otherwise have a deep inner strength; they feel they have the support of God and tap into parts of themselves to which, for one reason or another they have denied themselves access. Organised religion is bad in that when manipulated, it can lead its followers into atrocity and frequently does.

I think the physisists will find God before the theosophists will.

Sonia ;) said...

Snow...Dear friend...

I love this post. I believe if someone reads this, then they read it and everyone has an opinion. I dont believe you were trying to persuade or change someones mind in their beliefs. Opinions, beliefs, and faith in anything is a personal decision. I commend you for being your own person, and being braver than most to post your thoughts. This is your blog after all. If someone read it , wasnt that their choice to do so. Yes it was. Why should someone determine what makes someone happy, occupy them through pain, or how they write. Everyone makes choices to how they occupy or distract themselves from pain. Or how to write their opinions in their blog. Unfortunately there will always be someone or a group of people who do not have the same views. And that is their opinion, but I think that should never give someone the right to tell them how to conduct their thoughts, opinions or blog.

Snow I consider you a friend, for about a year now. I respect your insight, your writing(which is beautifully set). I have always loved the way you invoke thought, if by meaning to or not. People should think, because when others tell us how to think we no longer are ourselves. We become puppets of others opinions. I take responsibility for my own actions and feelings, not for someone else who told me i should, how or why to feel that way. Everyone has there own experiences that make them who they are. I think you were very tactful, and to the point. Thank you....very insightful for sure....I dont like labels never have. But I can say there is no way around labeling anything, otherwise we wouldnt have a dictionary or language...I am female u are male..lol...so I label you friend ...LOL...ps I know you have other interests, and right now it is restricted due to the pain. Renee once said if we didnt manage through the pain with some other distraction we would die before we had too. What keeps us going is a personal and private thing. And writing is something you do well....and wish i had as a talent.

Love ya Snow xoxox

julie mitchell said...

Hi Snow...I'm sure you have questions and challenges...I guess that is what makes your blog so interesting...you keep us questioning. My vision, belief system works for me...really the bottom line is we need to focus on being the best we can be no matter, God or no God, heaven or no heaven. We're all in this boat together.

Rob-bear said...

Snow, you said, "I take it, Rob-bear, that you mean this playfully since you know full well that the word God and the term Big Bang are hardly synonymous."

And you're right, Snow. The "Big Bang" exists within God (speaking metaphorically, perhaps). The problem is that you're prepared to accept only a very limited view of life. And that skews your understanding.

There's more to life than science, Snow. And I think you know that as well as I do.

Snowbrush said...

Lakeviewer said: "Religion is a security blanket, a catch all set of norms to aid ethical behavior and communal mores."

Are you saying, then, that religious people are more ethical?

Sparx said: "I think the physisists will find God before the theosophists will."

A great many religious people criticize science bitterly, right up until science looks like it might be on the verge of coming up with the least thing that they might use to lend intellectual respectability to their beliefs.

Sonia said: "I think that should never give someone the right to tell them how to conduct their thoughts, opinions or blog."

I try to cut people a lot of slack about this, but I won't claim that it's always easy.

Sonia said: "Renee once said if we didnt manage through the pain with some other distraction we would die before we had too."

This is so true.

Rob-bear said: "The problem is that you're prepared to accept only a very limited view of life."

Because I don't believe in the supernatural?

Rob-bear said: "There's more to life than science, Snow. And I think you know that as well as I do."

Other than coffee and dark chocolate? Perhaps, you could offer some examples.

Rob-bear said...

Rob-bear said: "The problem is that you're prepared to accept only a very limited view of life."

Because I don't believe in the supernatural?


I suppose. But the "supernatural" doesn't mean just God. It includes things like compassion. And the para-normal.

Rob-bear said: "There's more to life than science, Snow. And I think you know that as well as I do."

Other than coffee and dark chocolate? Perhaps, you could offer some examples.


You haven't "got" what I've already told you; I doubt you'd "get" what I could say. But I'll try.

Prove to me, scientifically, that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

Also, give me a scientific definition of "beauty" that would be acceptable to everyone.

As we say in Canada, "Be cool but stay warm."

Farmers Wifey said...

Wow that post is very interesting and has certainly made people think..thank you for stiring some emotions.

nollyposh said...

That you question and continue to do so...is all that matters... methinks X;-)

Deborah said...

Thank you for stopping by. Ever so happy to make your acquaintance, however, I fear you are much too hyper-intelligent for simple little me! I don't so much believe that faith is a choice; I believe it is a gift that is given freely, but we must do the asking, for the God I believe in is a nonimposing God, and big enough to take our questioning and doubting. You are quite an interesting read. **kisses** Deb

Snowbrush said...

Julie Mitchell said: "the bottom line is we need to focus on being the best we can be no matter..."

The problem with this is, as I see it, that our core beliefs determine what we define as "best." To some people, the best they can do is to inflict incalculable pain on others in an attempt to achieve some vision of utopia. Ever with many of us is the belief that life on earth would be wonderful if only we could win others over to our way of thinking--or destroy them if they remained obstinate.

Rob-bear said: "the "supernatural" doesn't mean just God. It includes things like compassion. And the para-normal."

If you define compassion as supernatural, then I believe in the supernatural, although I have never before heard compassion described in such a manner. I take it that, behind your definition, is a belief that the natural world is infinitely inferior to the supernatural realm in which God resides, and therefore any good that is found within the natural world must have come from outside of it, i.e. from God.

Rob-bear said: "You haven't "got" what I've already told you; I doubt you'd "get" what I could say. But I'll try. "

You appear to see yourself as one who struggles mightily to reach a poor learner. I can but thank you for your efforts, however hopeless you feel about them.

Rob-bear said: "Prove to me, scientifically, that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line."

Like all knowledge that is gained experientially, it cannot be proven. Neither can I prove that fire burns or that jumping off a cliff will cause me to plummet to the ground. Yet, all of these things have occurred so consistently at all times to all people in all parts of the world that few would doubt them.

Rob-bear said: "Also, give me a scientific definition of "beauty" that would be acceptable to everyone."

Few definitions of anything would be acceptable to everyone, but what does that mean to you? I will tell you briefly what I think about beauty. Beauty can not be said to have an objective existence because if it did, we would all agree about what constitutes beauty. Therefore, beauty does not describe objects but rather our response to objects. The subject of this post was the existence of a supernatural deity. If such a being exists, it would be very unlike beauty in that it would possess an objective existence.

Farmers Wifey said: "Wow that post is very interesting..."

Thank you very much.

Nollyposh said: "That you question and continue to do so...is all that matters..."

The universe is a wonder. Who could be so dull as to not wonder endlessly about all manner of things?

Deborah said: "I believe it [faith] is a gift that is given freely, but we must do the asking"

Asking never worked for me, Deborah, and it never worked for many other people either.

Snowbrush said...

In case anyone is confused, I should elaborate on what I told Rob-bear about proof. Experience (which science is based upon) can never lead to certainty in the field of academic logic. For example, you could have a million people hit a million eggs an hour with hammers for a million years, and even if every egg broke, it would not prove that the next egg would break. It would make the probability so likely that no one would seriously doubt the outcome, but we're not talking about the world of common sense, we're talking about academic logic.

People often try to defend religion by attacking science, and perhaps this was what Rob-bear was trying to do. As I see it, the proof is in the pudding. Science can prove it's understanding of how thousands of things work by firing a rocket from earth and hitting Mars. Science can prove its understanding of chemistry and microbiology by creating vaccines for dread diseases. And, yes, science, can prove its understanding of physics by creating nuclear bombs. Science is not a god, it is a tool developed by human beings, and human beings are fallible. This is the worst that can be said about science.

By contrast, where is the proof in the pudding in regard to religion? If 499 people die in a plane crash and one lives, it is pronounced a miracle. If 50,000 people die of some dread cancer, and one lives, that too is proclaimed a miracle. Such is religious faith. It is a grasping at straws. It is the determination to see only what one wants to see, calling this determination faith, and proclaiming it a virtue. In any testable arena, prayer is no more effective than magic amulets and other relicts of the Stone Age.

JOE TODD said...

Great post Snow. Recently I've been wondering if we aren't just biological robot/computers. Being the advanced model we can reproduce. Created/made by Mr. Big Bang himself for what purpose (probably entertainment).I don't necessarily believe we were programed to be "nice" to each other but the world seems a little nicer when we do.LOl

Rob-bear said...

This is all getting very long and convoluted. Just to perhaps relieve you, Snow, I'm not anti-scientific. I understand scientific methodology, purpose, and findings, and how important those are to our daily lives. For example, I get a flu shot every year because the influenza virus mutates, or evolves, fairly easily. Scientists prediction of what strains to include in each year's vaccine can be off a bit.

That said, I also recognize the limits to science, which you have, yourself, pointed out. Or to quota Albert Einstein, "Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." That's why compassion is, ultimately, not scientific, but in a sense supernatural. Nor is God measurable. Yet science exists within the wholeness of God as part of the divine economy (economy coming from the Greek, referring to "the management of the household.")

Perhaps this is a bit too cryptic, and if it is, I apologize. There is only so much space one can reasonably use in another's bog.

Confessions of a Closet Hoarder but you can call me Judy said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog again, Snow. :) I've been reading all the comments on this post. It's been interesting to say the least.

I looked up syringomyelia. I'm sorry you have it. It sounds horribly painful. I'm sorry you're in such pain. :(

A friend turned me onto L-Theanine about 6 weeks ago for anxiety, but she'd found it worked on pain as well. It's an antioxidant that works on the neurotransmitters in the brain, doesn't have side effects, and it's helped me with my fibromyalgia considerably. Do you think it might be something you could try?

Sparx said...

This may not be relevant but one of the few arguments for faith (as opposed to religion, for which I have a profound mistrust) is that it does have the capacity to (and here I want to use the phrase 'humanise us' which seems wrong) limit some of the more destructive natural behaviours of which man is capable. This helps keep the species going as opposed to killing itself off. However, religion has caused so much violence and misery and faith is so linked to religion that it does seem hard to defend. Faith is not scientific but it has positive benefits for the species which is why it has survived... Darwinism at work...

lyptis said...

Fuck man, u got a lot of comments on that one, must be a touchy subject!;)

I find it almost hard reading ur post, because im a raging Atheist(almost wrote Antichrist there, ha).

God doesnt exist and this whole religious shit makes me soo angry! Its all a lot of brainwashing, hypocricy and all the stupid arguments contradict each other.

I hate it, talking to Christians about religion, u cant win, they are so brainwashed.
(Have only read some of ur comments so far, but its a good laugh, some people are so angry..)

Rob-bear said...

In response to lyptis: God exists and this whole atheist shit is all a lot of pseudo-scientific brainwashing, that people accept as science, and that's very dangerous to society.

Let's try that out.

;))

Snowbrush said...

Judy said: "L-Theanine...doesn't have side effects, and it's helped me with my fibromyalgia considerably. Do you think it might be something you could try?"

Thanks so much for the suggestion, Judy. I just read the Wikipedia article on theanine, and noted that it hasn't undergone much in the way of human testing at the higher doses that many people are taking. I never believe that any chemical that's strong enough to have much positive effect is completely without negative risks, but my only reason right now for not investigating it further is that I'm taking so many other drugs--I take Neurontin, Tofranil, Celebrex, and SAM-e, daily, and I also have on hand five kinds of narcotics plus five kinds of prescription sleeping pills. For whatever reason, I'm actually doing a great deal better. Last night, I rolled dough for crackers and couldn't sleep for the pain from that, yet I'm able to do a fair amount of yard work, and am even thinking I might be able to take on some more serious projects before the summer is out.

Sparx said: "faith...does have the capacity to...limit some of the more destructive natural behaviours of which man is capable"

I hope I didn't chop up your sentence too much there, Sparx. I have serious reservations about whether what you're saying has a factual basis or could even be tested. To begin with, what constitutes faith, and why should confidence in a supernatural being curb destructive behaviors more effectively than confidence in, for example, human potential?

Lyptis and Rob-bear, I just don't know, guys. It's 1:20 a.m., and I'm too sleepy to think of anything really useful to say about your intensity here, and I feel badly about that. Maybe later on, something will come to me. I just hope I don't lose sleep thinking about it. I feel awfully responsible for what happens on my blog, which is one reason I try so hard to keep my own comments from going off the deep end.

I rather thought that you, Lyptis (bless your heart) were expressing yourself more heatedly than I would have preferred, but I let it pass. Then, Rob (bless your heart), you just jumped right on in there with both feet so, having let Lyptis' comment pass, I felt I should let yours do the same. Just know guys, that it's not going to escalate any further here. I don't say that to put anyone down, but only because I want so much to maintain what I would consider a constructive dialogue.

Rob-bear said...

Don't worry Snow; my comment isn't looking for a response. It's largely (though not entirely) tongue in cheek. You can tell from the big smiley wink: ;)).

To quote a fellow blogger: "Bear does tongue in cheek almost as well as tongue in honey pot."

Relax, and (hopefully) get some sleep. Just because I can't sleep doesn't mean you should go sleepless.

Snowbrush said...

Rob-bear said: " Just because I can't sleep doesn't mean you should go sleepless."

Doesn't solidarity mean anything anymore? I mean, how could I possibly sleep knowing you were awake? Besides, I couldn't sleep anyway. Too much yard work left me in more pain than I've been in for weeks.

As for smiley winks, I don't place too much confidence in them, although I try not to be overly sensitive or suspicious either.

kylie said...

i miss you , mr snow

dana said...

Gosh. Two of my favorite people are having at each other: Rob Bear and Snowbrush.

But both of you have too much class to end up on the ground in a death grip, so I'll just remain proud that I know both of you.

Snow, when I start missing a new post by you, all I have to do is read your comment section. But while one is peaceful the other is full of verbal combat. I doubt that an intense discussion of politics would produce more emotions. And therein lies the crux of the situation. People feel the need to have a "side" and then to defend it.

There is nothing wrong with having a side; after all, if we are too open minded our brains would fall out.

The problem arises when the stones inevitably start being flung. (I'm NOT talking about you and Rob Bear here: only class-less people in general)

My husband and I were talking today of the holier than thou moral split between believers of one religion versus believers of another, when the center of all religions is proclaimed to be GOD/LOVE.

Then there's the pros and cons of belief in a God versus a belief in NO god.

And it ALWAYS boils down to "science" (like we're all genius's and have any idea what we're talking about) and "can you prove this" or "that", with escalating blood pressure.

"How did we come into existence?" cannot be proven scientifically OR biblically.

The question predictably comes with God as the "answer". Fingers point skyward, and a collective "HE DID IT!" is spoken.

Again: no proof, but a fantastic presentation, what with all the singing, Bibles being held aloft and emotions running wild.

Ineffective, I must add, but predictable.

And so, I must leave an addendum to THE bottom line:

Lack of scientific proof is not to be taken as biblical proof.

Rita said...

I know of no stronger argument for doing good than that our lives are but a flicker against the darkness of eternity.
That is an interesting way to put it. As an atheist secular humanist, I believe when a person is dead, well...they are just dead, but I also choose to believe we all are but a link in the chain that stretches on to....? Who knows? infinity? Something better?

Kerry said...

EIGHTY comments. I will return and read them carefully. I really love the way comments work on this blog. Nothing else like it.

I guess I should say:
There are people with religion, but without spirituality. There are others with spirituality-and no religion. I have family members and friends in both of these camps. I can barely stand to be with the first group, and am happy to be with the second.

I have met very few people with a foot in both.

Just_because_today said...

more important than believing in a God is to live life in a "godly" way. Whether you believe or not makes no difference but how you conduct your life. A person can beat their chest and go to church every day and profess their faith, yet be total jerks in their lives with no regard for anyone but themselves or an atheist can live a life of love and kindness. To those of us who believe, that should be more important in the eyes of God and ours.

dana said...

GO KERRY! GO KERRY! *pom poms waving in the air*

That could NOT have been said more succinctly!!

I (a non believer due to a life spent on my knees while having my defenseless body kicked to smithereens) and my husband (a sweet believer) were both in agreement with your simply-put, and correct, insight.

Snowbrush said...

Dana said: "Two of my favorite people are having at each other: Rob Bear and Snowbrush."

He's a bear. He's smelly, mangy, grouchy, and flea-bitten. He also has bad breath, especially in the spring. I'm a shrub. I'm beautiful, and I smell like cinnamon. My evergreen leaves are shiny and blueish green in the sunlight. My large, bee-covered, white flowers could take a lecher's minds off women. One so beautiful as I could not possibly be wrong--about anything. Trust me.

Dana said: "But while one is peaceful the other is full of verbal combat."

Perhaps, you use the word combat as a synonym for debate. I'll just say that I try to run a constructive blog--both in my posts and in the comment section--by maintaining my own composure, and by blocking what I consider abusive comments. Fortunately, I have only gotten three comments that clearly fell under this heading the whole time I have had a blog (angry ones, yes, but seldom abusive ones). I can but hope that I succeed in doing these things far more often than I fail, yet I no doubt sometimes fail.

Rita said: "I also choose to believe we all are but a link in the chain that stretches on to....?"

I have no such hope, but then I'm a pessimist in many ways. Yet, I also feel that it is my duty to show what kindness and equanimity I can. Mostly, I do it in small ways. Sometimes, I do it passively just by keeping my mouth shut. I often think that it would be no small thing if a person could simply go through life and severely curtail the times he or she behaved badly.

Kerry said: "here are others with spirituality-and no religion."

As one who doesn't believe in the supernatural, I've been pondering my own use of the word spirituality. I should think I could be clearer--within myself and with others--if I used other words. For example, instead of thinking of something as a "spiritual experience," why not just think of it as a "meaningful experience?"

Just_because-today said: "more important than believing in a God is to live life in a "godly" way. Whether you believe or not"

A great many people who regard themselves as deeply devoted to God do horrendous acts everyday because of their devotion. You might object that you know better than they what it means to be Godly, and that they are not Godly at all, but I will leave it to those of you who believe in God to work that out. As for myself, I can't even begin to imagine why any atheist would choose to use the word Godly to describe his behavior (or would be anything but offended if someone else used it to describe him) anymore than you would use the word atheistic to describe yours. I would suspect that most atheists feel as i do, that the world would be far, far better off if no one believed in the supernatural.

Rob-bear said...

I'll have you know that I'm NOT mangy. As for the rest of your comments, well, we all have some "defects of character."

The Bipolar Diva said...

Oh My Dear Snowbrush that I have come to love in such a short time, I really want to comment here, but I'd probably get my human feelings hurt and run away crying.

I've cried far too much lately with the death of my grandson, the killing if my mom and the death of my dad, and that's the tip of the iceberg. Can I have an award now for a really bad run on sentence?

Maybe one day I'll tell you my opinion.

I miss you not posting more often, you make me worry about you far too much and I'm not happy about that! :)

I hope that you are feeling better and I hope that the black man that sleeps with your wife allows you a little time with her.

Teresa said...

May God Bless you All : ) (NOT BEING SARCASTIC) I mean it! (((HUGS)))) T

1skepticalbrother said...

Snowbrush, I enjoyed reading this post, the stampede of comments and your “Rifleman-like” responses…after about ten minutes I started hearing that theme song. After reading your thoughts in this blog, I felt like I had met a kindred spirit. The question; does a God or Gods exist has occupied a great deal of my intellectual and spiritual time, perhaps too much.

Growing up in the projects in Brooklyn, N.Y. during the sixties and seventies was challenging enough, my brother and I were recipients of a unique religious upbringing. My mother was a Baptist and my father was a card carrying member of the Nation of Islam. After years of dual indoctrinations into very different religious systems of belief, I came away with more questions than answers. I loved my parents (they are deceased) but I knew that one of them was wrong or perhaps, both of them were mistaken.

You have plenty of reading material here, and I’ll comment whenever I feel I have something constructive to add to the fray. If you don’t mind, I’d like to link your site to some of my blog posts.

Go in peace Snowbrush,
Robert H.
Blog: The African American Agnostic
@hamptonroads.com

Snowbrush said...

Hugs to you too, Teresa.

Bipolar said: "I miss you not posting more often..."

Well, I wanted to take as many comments as possible, and since most people only read the latest entry, this meant leaving the post up for a long time--I'm doing the same thing with my most recent post. When I post something less thought-filled, I am not so interested in comments than when I post something that I hope will stimulate discussion. I have still written a good bit, but I write at least one entry for every entry I actually post. I really do try to have a quality blog.

Robert, I was tickled by your Rifleman comparison. You must either be my age, give or take a few years, or you were awfully fond of reruns.

When I read of your upbringing, I of course thought right away of Malcom X for whom I always felt an appreciable fondness since i could better relate to him than to someone like MLK Jr who appeared, at least, to have had less of a darkside.

You will note that I am now your "follower." I know, of course, that you never post, but I wanted to offer you my ear as a gift in case you ever do. By the way, I live in Oregon, but when my wife and I left Mississippi in 1986, NYC was our second choice of a place to relocate too. There was--and still is--an intentional community on Staten Island just a few blocks walk from the ferry to Manhattan. I loved the people, and they loved me, but Peggy (my wife) didn't care for them or they for her, so that's why we came here.

Snowbrush said...

P.S. to Robert. I did finally notice that you blog link was different from the blog address you wrote out at the end of your response. The latter asks for more info than I'm entirely comfortable with giving, but I did read your latest entry. What struck me right away was that Jesus gets a lot of press for being peaceful and loving, yet he also (reportedly) said a great many things that portray him in a very different light.

1skepticalbrother said...

Snowbrush, sorry about the blog link/address flub…I’m not as computer savvy as I should be.

Even after Malcolm fell out of favor with my dad (and thousands of other misguided Black men) after the Elijah Muhammad scandal and his break from the N.O.I., I continued to listen to Malcolm’s speeches. His rhetoric made me think, not hate. It took a great deal of courage for him to denounce the teachings of E. Muhammad, to acknowledge that White folks were not “devils” and to apologize for his errors in judgment. From my point of view, these types of adjustments in his thinking made him one of my heroes, when I used to have heroes. I respected MLK for his visions of a united America based on the content of our characters and not the color of our skin, but I disagreed with the lack of critical thinking that went into the planning and execution of most of the civil rights legislation. You cannot correct a historical injustice with hand outs and set asides; Farrakhan was correct when he said that welfare means farewell. The improvement of the quality of the schools in the “hood” should have been paramount…not bussing. The education of our children and teaching them to develop a love for the sciences, mathematics, history and the arts would have gone a long way towards the “leveling” of the playing field. Excuse me for getting preachy!

That said, my spiritual (for lack of a better term) sojourn has led me to the preliminary position that all religions and their attendant deities are manmade, and are respected (in my tiny, insignificant world) as long as they are kept personal and private; kind of like bowel movements. Go in peace Snowbrush.

Snowbrush said...

Robert, you didn't flub anything. When you responded to this post, a link to your Blogspot site automatically appeared at the top of your response. At the bottom of your response, you wrote in the address of the blog to which you regularly post. I copied and pasted that into my browser address bar, and got a warning saying that it might be a phishing site. I hesitated to go there, so I Googled the name of you blog, and when I got no similar warning, I went to it that way. I haven't been to any blogs that ask for as much information as your provider does, and I would assume that some people are a bit put off by it. It's not that I distrust you personally. I just have a problem with sharing information with your blog provider when I don't know where it might end up or what use it might be put to.

Since you "grew up in the sixties and seventies," you must be a bit younger than I--I'm 61. I didn't pay much attention to Malcolm X until a few years after he was dead when I read his autobiography. I was very touched that he was able to turn his hatred of white people around, and that he had the courage to keep speaking out for what he thought was right despite the near certainty that he would be killed. I simply never felt as strong a connection with any of the other black leaders of the era as I did with him, and I think it was his ability to transform his hatred that was responsible (others certainly displayed courage). That's an extremely rare quality in my experience, and it's much more impressive to me than the achievements of a person who gets on the right track early in life and manages to stay there.

Stafford Ray said...

Snowbrush.
At age about 17 I discovered Darwin and was thrown out of the Exclusive Brethren church.
At 19 I discovered the following truisms:
1. "Religious disagreement can only be ultimnately resolved by one protagonist killing the other." If you doubt the truth of this read history and think 'Ireland, Kosovo, Baghdad, Several African nations etc etc'.
2. "Political disagreements were only resolved by one side killing the other."
That changed for some of us with Magna Carta, others with a united Europe, (you won't like this) some others with the USSR, since gone back to tribalism.

No 2 Was changed with uinversal sufferage where it exists so the more socially evolved of us now settle at the ballot box.

No 1 Has no settlement mechanism. If you are born in Malaysia, you are a Muslim. If you are born in Northern Ireland, you had better be Protestant and so on. What part does God play in deciding where a 'soul' manifests a body?

I do not think there is any point in arguing for Atheism with the religious. Religious parents feed their inherited poison to their children and then offer them their particular set of myths, dogma and ritual as an antidote, while shielding them as much as possible from alternate belief systems, through church schools. (give me a child until he is seven...)

I could fill a book with further thoughts on morality, socialisation, the divide that should exist between a creation god and a personal god and some honesty about the biblical god, who is jealous (read the commandments) genocidal, vengeful and exhibits all the mean, cruel and illogical atributes the religious conveniently attribute to the Satan they had to have.

So to round off what was intended to be a short comment, I personally subscribe to one 'commandment'. "Do not do to anyone what you would not want another to do to you!" (masochists excepted).
That 'commandment' is a logical and desirable aim if humanity is to live with some degree of security in any social context.

I observe all religions concentrating on death over life, even if it is expressed as love of life until such times as their religion is threatened when history shows they respond with deadly force. With God one's side it always becomes OK to kill and maim in His name. The bible and history are full of it.

Now to conclude, a gentle poke at the dilemnma of the poor old celebate priest.

R.C. Priest’s Prayer

Give me, O Lord, my daily bread.
I promise I'll sleep alone in my bed.
I'll keep myself celibate
So I can celebrate,
Life's fun and games when I'm dead!

Amen!

PS. As I speak the news has arrived that we (Australians) now have our first female Prime Minister who, when asked (before the election), asserted she is an Atheist.
Challenge to the US:
Can you, having elected an Afrian American as you President, now go the next step and fully separate church and state as your constitution demands, be blind to religious affiliation as well as skin colour and elect your leaders on the basis of talent alone?

PPS. Australians are your friends and as friends are entitled to offer a little unsolicited advice.

Snowbrush said...

Stafford Ray said: "I personally subscribe to one 'commandment'. "Do not do to anyone what you would not want another to do to you!" (masochists excepted)."

This is a negative rendering of what Jesus called the second most important commandment. It also reminds me of the "witches rede": "An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will."

Of course, neither your statement nor the witches' rede suggests the importance of helping anyone, so I'm wondering if the omission was intentional on your part.