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aftershock567
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New guy

Heya, I just joined this site because I am considering being a monk in the Catholic Church, and I am just taking some time to make sure I really believe what I believe, and that my beliefs are valid. To do so I think that one must seriously consider that their beliefs may be totally wrong.  So I guess I will hang out here for a while to check the debates on the forums and the RRS videos, which I think are excellent and poke several extremely large holes in Theism. Anyways, just saying hello. Don't slap me too hard if I say something Stupid : )

Chris


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Welcome. That was a very

Welcome. That was a very impressive introduction.

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

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Hi.Why a catholic monk?Any

Hi.

Why a catholic monk?

Any particular order?

 

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aftershock567 wrote:Heya, I

aftershock567 wrote:
Heya, I just joined this site because I am considering being a monk in the Catholic Church

Sweet mother of ... wow. Y'know, I'm all for crafts, like the monks who make the caskets (I can't remember the order), but having to hang out with only guys just seems imbalanced to me.

aftershock567 wrote:
Don't slap me too hard if I say something Stupid : )

You seem to have an open mind, so you'll probably avoid ridicule. If you read some of the debate, you'll notice that (beside the comments that are just purposely inflammatory) most of the ridicule is directed at those who fervently believe in the supernatural and just wanted to tell us that. Stupid isn't usually the issue, but closed-mindedness is.

Welcome! I have to echo the other questions: what brought you to the idea of being a monk? Is it the simplified lifestyle, the routine, or something like that?

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HisWillness wrote:Sweet

HisWillness wrote:

Sweet mother of ... wow. Y'know, I'm all for crafts, like the monks who make the caskets (I can't remember the order),

 

I prefer the Trappists. They make beer.

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welcome

    

       Perhaps you could explain why you have a religious belief,  please don't make the explanation too long.

       I am very skeptical about the way you state things,  potential monks wouldn't say in the Catholic church, they are already there; more likely to say ".....join a monastary."  And I wonder why any person with such strong religious beliefs would use, so gleefully the phrase  ".......poke several extremly large holes in Theism".

 

 

     (edit question; How meny monestaries are there in Ft.Smith Arkanses?

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Welcome!I'd just like to

Welcome!

I'd just like to echo what HisWillness said: we can be nasty to people who are either stridently ignorant, purposefully bellicose, or are here just to proselytize. For the most part, though, respect is treated with respect. You should definitely be able to defend your beliefs, or be willing to admit when they are irrational, or (better yet) be willing to change your mind. That's about the only requirement.

I too would like to hear your story, about why you believe what you believe, and why you wish to be a monk. That's a pretty interesting vocational decision.

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   Hello.  My perception

   Hello.  My perception is that many of the atheists here are former Christians ( Protestant, Catholics, etc ) and some may have even been former clergy.   So many here are very qualified to comment upon Theism as an academic topic as well as what it is to actually be a theist believer. )

 

ps, welcome to the forum.

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I don't think there are any

I don't think there are any former clergy here, but there are definitely former clergy atheists - most Prominent being Dan Darker.

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aftershock567 wrote:Heya, I

aftershock567 wrote:

Heya, I just joined this site because I am considering being a monk in the Catholic Church, and I am just taking some time to make sure I really believe what I believe, and that my beliefs are valid. To do so I think that one must seriously consider that their beliefs may be totally wrong.  So I guess I will hang out here for a while to check the debates on the forums and the RRS videos, which I think are excellent and poke several extremely large holes in Theism. Anyways, just saying hello. Don't slap me too hard if I say something Stupid : )

Chris

Chris, that kind of honesty as a first post is quite refreshing considering most of the time we get a-holes who post hit and run ad homins.

Now I can only speak for myself, other atheists here will take a different aproach to you than I will. I myself am no hold's barred balls to the wall go for the jugular in debate. However, no matter how hard I go at you please remember that I only speak for myself, and my blunt blasphemy should be no reflection on you the individual, it is merely aimed at any claim you may make.

It may suprise you that I am just as blunt when it comes to claims even some atheists make. BUT, in any case, welcome and it is nice to see someone who doesn't fear us, even if they don't agree with us.

We won't barbaque your kittens or burn down your churches. If you cannot prove what you claim, we wont hate you, we merely wont adopt your position.

You defenatly stepped into the lions den here, but if the only thing that comes out of it is that you realize that we are just as human as you, that is something.

Now that you have swatted the hornet's nest, dont be suprised if your claims get stung. Happy to have you here and once again, thanks for that refreshing first post. We do hope you learn something during your stay.

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"I ate the soul of a monk

"I ate the soul of a monk once... tasted like chocolate"

 

Ok im done >.> hehe


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aftershock567 wrote:Heya, I

aftershock567 wrote:

Heya, I just joined this site because I am considering being a monk in the Catholic Church, and I am just taking some time to make sure I really believe what I believe, and that my beliefs are valid. To do so I think that one must seriously consider that their beliefs may be totally wrong.  So I guess I will hang out here for a while to check the debates on the forums and the RRS videos, which I think are excellent and poke several extremely large holes in Theism. Anyways, just saying hello. Don't slap me too hard if I say something Stupid : )

Chris

Welcome to the forums. 

It's good that you question your beliefs before you take such a step. I'm an ex-Catholic that was put on the course away from belief by attending a Jesuit University. When I challenged my beliefs they fell away to reason, knowledge and logic. Since you seem to already see holes in theism by your comments good luck.

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Wow. Any particuliar reason

Wow. Any particuliar reason you would pick a life that frowns on all sexual contact?


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Coming from a Catholic

Coming from a Catholic background, the only reason that I didn't consider a monastary was because I had already gotten married. When you are in the mindset of spiritual warfare, the idea of living in a place where your favorite sins are simply unavailable is quite attractive.

Even then, I was looking at the Eastern Rite Catholic churches, with the idea that the priesthood would be open to me after I changed rites(what is known as the Catholic Church is in fact just one of several "rites" in the Catholic church).

It is likely a way to try and bolster a failing faith.

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Wow, didn't expect so many replies : )

The order is Benedictine, the specific monestary is Subiaco Abbey, located in Arkansas. I am not sure I can point to any specific reasons for looking at the monk life. I have always been of a spiritual mindset, though I CONSTANTLY dabble back and forth between belief and nonbelief. I really don't think anyone should completely jump into any purely faith based thought and never look back. That being said, I am somewhat introverted and I highly dislike change. The monk life has a set schedule of work and prayer most days which suits my personality well. As for lack of sexual contact, a friend recently described me as "the least romantic person on the planet." 

I have an uncle that is a Trappist monk, I wonder if a monk gene runs in the family?

 

Chris


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aftershock567 wrote:I have

aftershock567 wrote:
I have always been of a spiritual mindset, though I CONSTANTLY dabble back and forth between belief and nonbelief.

That would put you in the same category as Mother Theresa, then. When she confessed that she just didn't believe any more, they said, "that's how you know it's working". I don't know if that applies in your case, but I've always had difficulty with the "spiritual mindset".

aftershock567 wrote:
The monk life has a set schedule of work and prayer most days which suits my personality well.

It's a tough decision you've given yourself. I don't envy you that. But you seem to be more attracted to the lifestyle than anything else, which used to be the normal reason to be a monk. The God stuff was taken for granted, but the stringent, ordered schedule was the real pull. Do you think it would matter if you didn't believe?

aftershock567 wrote:
 As for lack of sexual contact, a friend recently described me as "the least romantic person on the planet."

Well ... I'm the least romantic person on the planet. That doesn't mean I'm not getting any ass.

So what kind of discussion would you like with us, Chris? Do you have any questions about how we think about things specifically, or would you like to dive into a rationalist debate on God's existence or something like that? Personally, I can't see the relevance of the spiritual to your lifestyle choice, considering that would just be the named focus of your desire for structure, but what do I know? I don't think I've ever been drawn to the monastic lifestyle in the same way. 

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aftershock567

aftershock567 wrote:
aftershock567 wrote:
 As for lack of sexual contact, a friend recently described me as "the least romantic person on the planet."

 

So? I'm commonly described as "that quiet pacifist kid who never shows any emotions..." Doesn't seem to hurt my sexual contact.

 

You could easily be classed as "That non-romantic guy who still gets lucky and gets oodles of ass (or brass depending on which way you fly)," so don't give up just because of that.

 

As for a well-scheduled life, you can have that without resorting to Monkery (sorry if that sounds insulting, I'm not sure of the word for it). Plenty of people's lives revolve around schedules that they make, and for the most part, they are pretty happy. No downtime=no boredom!

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Scyth3s wrote:aftershock567

Scyth3s wrote:

aftershock567 wrote:
aftershock567 wrote:
 As for lack of sexual contact, a friend recently described me as "the least romantic person on the planet."

 

So? I'm commonly described as "that quiet pacifist kid who never shows any emotions..." Doesn't seem to hurt my sexual contact.

 

You could easily be classed as "That non-romantic guy who still gets lucky and gets oodles of ass (or brass depending on which way you fly)," so don't give up just because of that.

 

As for a well-scheduled life, you can have that without resorting to Monkery (sorry if that sounds insulting, I'm not sure of the word for it). Plenty of people's lives revolve around schedules that they make, and for the most part, they are pretty happy. No downtime=no boredom!

I am an atheist and my friends, family and co-workers, can tell you that I live like a "monk". I am pragmatic about what I can do vs what I want to do.

Having sex involves risk, not just sexually from desease, but if you knock someone up, it is an 18 year anchor. So unless you know the risk, or are willing to take the risk and have the means to back it up, don't do it.

You don't need magic to think pragmatically. I go to work and I go home which is the most practical thing to keep myself out of trouble.

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Hi Chris. Welcome to the

Hi Chris. Welcome to the forums.

Well, I can't help but comment on the whole sex-thing, like everyone else. It shouldn't be surprising that it is fascinating/odd/intruiging to most people when someone chooses to turn away from sexual contact completely. But I will say up front, that after my comment, I will personally stop proding that particular subject, and would encourage everyone else to make one comment and then leave it at that, because after all, there is more to life than sex, and it would be a shame to hijack your post here to be only about you defending that particular choice.

But here goes:

I think that many people I know (mostly women) have more sex, and sex with more people, than is really productive for them. Many people feel presured by society to be sexually proliferent, if not promiscious. That's a shame, because if it knocks you mentally off balance, not to mention cause you physical problems like STD's or unwanted pregnancy, then you shouldn't be doing it the way you are doing it.

However, I also know many people who are sexually frustrated, and I see that as just as mentally (and physically!) detremental, as having too much, or rather the wrong kind of, sex.

It makes you feel unwanted, overlooked, and generally uneasy, to not experience the wonderful experience that is good sex, and the romantic emotional attachments that come with it. Of course, much of this, though not all of it, will be aliviated if it is a free choice of celibacy, as opposed to an unwanted inability to establish romantic relationships with people. 

On the physical side, it is stressful to have a body that is constantly urging you to go out and get laid, and I genuily believe that it is unhealthy. Masturbation aliviates this to a large degree, but of course, that requires that you don't have any hangups with that particular activity.

In short, one of the things I think is very important for you to consider, before entering a life of self-imposed celebacy, is your own sexuality. You have to be very honest with yourself about your needs and desires, and should also prepare yourself for the fact that your sexuality is irrevocably tied up with your mental and physical health, so you need to be ready to listen to your body and your emotions too, not just upon entering into a life of celebacy, but continually, throughout that life.

That's all I have to say about that. I don't condemn you for your choice, as long as you are honest with yourself. And remember, that's the good thing about your own sexuality: it's only yourself you have to be honest with, so you don't have to air your deepest darkest desires to anyone else.

...But you'll HAVE to admit them to yourself. Otherwise I don't think you can suceed in lving a healthy life of celebacy.

 

Now, I think you should ask some questions about the things you would like to know about us. Of course you can also read through the different discussions on these boards, but you seem like such a friendly and open-minded person, I'd love for you to contribute to the forums. We get alot of insecure, angry, self-rightious people on here, which is very frustrating, so to hear from someone smart and friendly is a breath of fresh air indeed.

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HisWillness

HisWillness wrote:

aftershock567 wrote:
I have always been of a spiritual mindset, though I CONSTANTLY dabble back and forth between belief and nonbelief.

That would put you in the same category as Mother Theresa, then. When she confessed that she just didn't believe any more, they said, "that's how you know it's working". I don't know if that applies in your case, but I've always had difficulty with the "spiritual mindset".

aftershock567 wrote:
The monk life has a set schedule of work and prayer most days which suits my personality well.

It's a tough decision you've given yourself. I don't envy you that. But you seem to be more attracted to the lifestyle than anything else, which used to be the normal reason to be a monk. The God stuff was taken for granted, but the stringent, ordered schedule was the real pull. Do you think it would matter if you didn't believe?

aftershock567 wrote:
 As for lack of sexual contact, a friend recently described me as "the least romantic person on the planet."

Well ... I'm the least romantic person on the planet. That doesn't mean I'm not getting any ass.

So what kind of discussion would you like with us, Chris? Do you have any questions about how we think about things specifically, or would you like to dive into a rationalist debate on God's existence or something like that? Personally, I can't see the relevance of the spiritual to your lifestyle choice, considering that would just be the named focus of your desire for structure, but what do I know? I don't think I've ever been drawn to the monastic lifestyle in the same way. 

The way I see it, many people, theist or atheist, go back and forth between belief and nonbelief the same way that I do.  So, I think one of the questions you have to ask yourself is what do you hope for? I believe that if there is a god, he knows my limitations and he knows how limited my knowledge is in this life. So I hope god will understand my skepticism.

I have seen a few RRS videos and a debate. I remember hearing one of the RRS people say that they would rather go to hell than worship the malovelent god that we find in the old testament of the Bible. I totally agree with this. I find many of the qualities attributed to god in the old testament make god seem more like a regular man than a god, at least as far as temperament and personality goes. I don't think anyone should worship anything just to avoid a punishment such as hell or "being cast into an outer darkness" as some would say. People should want to attain goodness and truth because they are good and true, assuming we can all agree on what is good and true.  On the flip side, lets say god doesn't exist, and I waste my life at the monestary. I am not afraid of wasting my life at the monestary as long as in my heart of hearts I was just trying to do what I believed right, by placing hope and faith in a good God. Whatever I do, I am trying hard to keep my fears from controling me.

I do see a strong case for the inherent sinfulness of man. I believe that for some reason, whether you want to point to Genesis or not, man has been cursed with some original sin. I see it in the world and in my own life. I believe people need salvation, and that we cannot save ourselves. We cannot know for certainty, with our limited knowledge of the world, that a savior exists or existed. I do place my hope in God. If there is a god, and he is not completely good, all hope is lost. I just don't think we can know for sure in this life. I will just have to hope in a good god until I find some form of certain truth.

So, yes, I am drawn to the lifestyle more for how it suits my personality over faith, but I don't see that as a huge problem. I am going to be on different levels of undecided my whole life, so I am trying not to make a choice on faith alone. I do believe that I can do some good at the monestary in the form of charitable works and prayer.

As for the sex questions, I really don't mind them at all (I get them from my friends all the time). Yes, sex is fun, but eventually even careful people wind up with a kid. Not saying I don't want to have a family and all that stuff, I just think I  would be a much better monk than a husband or father.

If being a monk is a lifestyle choice, then why am I on these forums? Well, alot of it is lifestlye, but if before I take any vows I find something that I feel really drives the stake into theism, I would change my mind about the monestary. It wouldn't be fair to the other monks for me to make a vow if I didn't even have hope that Christianity is correct.

Lets see, I have a few questions for the atheists:

Do atheists see a purpose in this life?

Do we have any athiests around that drift back to theism sometimes? If so, what makes you take another look at theism?

Something that scares me to think about is what if we actually don't have souls, and when we die our consciousness fades like a candle. Doesn't that scare the hell out of anyone else?  Its like a droid in Star Wars having a memory wipe!

What is the best athiest argument against any sort of theism?

Thats about it for now, I know I did a bunch of rambling. I am very impressed with how smart and friendly everyone is on the RRS forums!

Chris

 


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aftershock567 wrote:I do see

aftershock567 wrote:

I do see a strong case for the inherent sinfulness of man. I believe that for some reason, whether you want to point to Genesis or not, man has been cursed with some original sin. I see it in the world and in my own life.

Yes we are inevitably flawed, it is the nature of anything that is real. Perfection is purely an abstract and subjective concept. "Cursed with some original sin" is a poetic exaggeration of course. The complexities of dealing with 'real life' and its compromises and conflicting demands and trade-offs, mean that there can be no one 'right' choice in so many situations. Then when you throw in the effects of our emotions and desires, of course human society is going to display all the faults that trouble you - and me as well, of course, altho we probably differ in detail as to what we see as the most serious flaws.

This scenario of finite imperfect beings stumbling through life, inevitably making all sorts of mistakes, less-than-optimum choices, is just what  we would expect to arise from an natural evolutionary process. It makes no sense that an all-wise, all-powerful being would be responsible for such a mess.

Quote:

I believe people need salvation, and that we cannot save ourselves. We cannot know for certainty, with our limited knowledge of the world, that a savior exists or existed. I do place my hope in God. If there is a god, and he is not completely good, all hope is lost. I just don't think we can know for sure in this life. I will just have to hope in a good god until I find some form of certain truth.

Certain truth? About the only thing we can be certain of is that we can never be certain whether our specific ideas about the ultimate nature of existence are even close to being true. And that our individual internal thoughts and intuitions, constrained as they are by our all-too-limited and error-prone perceptions and imaginations, are a very imperfect guide.

The best approach we have so far devised to partly overcome these limitations is compare observations and guesses with each other, test our guesses against external reality as best we can, let others try to find faults in our ideas that we have overlooked, and so on... IOW - science.

As for salvation, of course it is understandable that we would like some father figure to absolve from that feeling of guilt when we think of all the things we wish we could undo, to the extent that some people convinced themselves that it must be true, and started one of the various narratives that have emerged to comfort us when we contemplate life's hassles.

Quote:

Lets see, I have a few questions for the atheists:

Do atheists see a purpose in this life?

Each person seeks what purpose they feel they need in their own individual way. Some feel they need to justify their existence as the subjects of some authority figure, either temporal or imagined, so they see their 'purpose' as determined by forces beyond themselves. Atheists generally formulate their own purpose.

Quote:

Do we have any athiests around that drift back to theism sometimes? If so, what makes you take another look at theism?

Pretty rare AFAIK. I never was drawn to Theism.

Quote:

Something that scares me to think about is what if we actually don't have souls, and when we die our consciousness fades like a candle. Doesn't that scare the hell out of anyone else?  Its like a droid in Star Wars having a memory wipe!

Well, pretty much all the evidence we have points to our consciousness fading out when our brain ceases to function.

Personally, its not so much the 'lights out' that disturbs me, as much as a drawn out process of dying, of failing health, that I don't like to think about.

Quote:

What is the best athiest argument against any sort of theism?

Generally the absence of any decent evidence for the existence of God[s], and the lameness of the arguments for it.

Quote:

Thats about it for now, I know I did a bunch of rambling. I am very impressed with how smart and friendly everyone is on the RRS forums!

Chris

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aftershock567 wrote:The way

aftershock567 wrote:
The way I see it, many people, theist or atheist, go back and forth between belief and nonbelief the same way that I do.

Not in my case, but it's possible for other people, sure.

aftershock567 wrote:
So, I think one of the questions you have to ask yourself is what do you hope for?

Do you really want to know? I want to get so rich that I revive the patronage system. Then we can have some serious art instead of this post-post-modernist conceptualist garbage. I'm going to own a bank that makes its money the old fashioned way (3% interest, 6% mortgage, on the golf course by 3) and does nothing else with its money. I want to make the Renaissance happen again, a giant homage to the Medicis. It's going to be fantastic.

aftershock567 wrote:
So I hope god will understand my skepticism.

I should hope so. Even I can understand it, and I'm just some guy. If God is less understanding and forgiving than some guy you meet on an internet forum, then ... that would be weird.

aftershock567 wrote:
People should want to attain goodness and truth because they are good and true, assuming we can all agree on what is good and true.

If we could all agree upon what is good and true, there wouldn't be much conflict. Unfortunately, absolute moralities and truths elude us.

aftershock567 wrote:
On the flip side, lets say god doesn't exist, and I waste my life at the monestary.

I don't think that follows. If God doesn't exist, and you live a monastic life, you've lived a monastic life. That's not a "waste". There are many things that might benefit you about a monastic life. To someone who believes in no gods at all, your behaviour is like much of human behaviour: trying stuff out, being curious, doing things you enjoy, or things that fulfill some need. Some people like skiing. Are they wasting their time because they just go up and down the hill? I don't think so.

aftershock567 wrote:
I am not afraid of wasting my life at the monestary as long as in my heart of hearts I was just trying to do what I believed right, by placing hope and faith in a good God. Whatever I do, I am trying hard to keep my fears from controling me.

Is fear your major concern entering a monastery? I mean conquering fear?

aftershock567 wrote:
I do see a strong case for the inherent sinfulness of man. I believe that for some reason, whether you want to point to Genesis or not, man has been cursed with some original sin. I see it in the world and in my own life.

There are other points of view, but they can be difficult to see from where you are. If you see us as an animal, doing exactly what animals do, only with a layer of "intelligence" as a complicating catalyst, our behaviour makes much more sense. Try it some time when you're out - look at the people like you're in a zoo. Watch their behaviour. It fits much more easily that we are products of nature and behave like nature would have us behave than entities for whom "sin" is an issue.

aftershock567 wrote:
I believe people need salvation, and that we cannot save ourselves. We cannot know for certainty, with our limited knowledge of the world, that a savior exists or existed. I do place my hope in God. If there is a god, and he is not completely good, all hope is lost.

From my point of view, I don't know what a saviour would be saving us from. We can't know for sure if a saviour existed or not, and that helps you reach your belief how? Geographically speaking, if you were born many other places on the earth, you would pray to a different god. It's almost irrelevant which god you pray to. And hope, well we all know that springs eternal. Without a god, you most likely would find somewhere else to find hope. It's easy for me to say, since that's already what I do, but I don't feel good about suggesting that you abandon something that gives you hope.

aftershock567 wrote:
 I just don't think we can know for sure in this life. I will just have to hope in a good god until I find some form of certain truth.

I understand the draw to absolute truth. I really do. Even strong atheists like me, who believe there are no gods, would love a moral system devoid of gray areas and relativism, and absolute truth. It would be easier. It would be less exciting, but it would be easier. It just doesn't look like there is one. The world as it is seems more apt to surprise us than comfort us with an absolute. We can't be sure about a lot of things. That's just our ignorance. To me, there's no reason to draw a beard on our ignorance and give it a name.

aftershock567 wrote:
I am going to be on different levels of undecided my whole life, so I am trying not to make a choice on faith alone. I do believe that I can do some good at the monestary in the form of charitable works and prayer.

This is another reason that I wouldn't discourage the lifestyle. But naturally, especially on this site, I would emphasize the charitable work over the prayer. Largely because prayer tends to have the same effect as any placebo would. Charitable work without strings attached (i.e. now that we've set you up with some new clothes, let's pray) is in my estimation more admirable and humble, but happens rarely.

aftershock567 wrote:
If being a monk is a lifestyle choice, then why am I on these forums? Well, alot of it is lifestlye, but if before I take any vows I find something that I feel really drives the stake into theism, I would change my mind about the monestary. It wouldn't be fair to the other monks for me to make a vow if I didn't even have hope that Christianity is correct.

But you said yourself that it's likely the other monks also have doubts. So for periods of time, they, too, are atheists. Anyway, the probability that Christianity is "correct" with the myriad religions that have populated the earth is frankly low. The "stake" as far as I'm concerned is the extremely low probability that anything outside the natural world exists or has any influence on us. The odds that one specific supernatural entity with specific qualities is the one supernatural entity that exists ... well, "unlikely" would be an understatement.

aftershock567 wrote:
Do atheists see a purpose in this life?

We get to find our own.

aftershock567 wrote:
Something that scares me to think about is what if we actually don't have souls, and when we die our consciousness fades like a candle. Doesn't that scare the hell out of anyone else?

Sure, dying is a scary thought. But inventing an everlasting soul just because you're scared of dying smacks of fear controlling your thoughts.

aftershock567 wrote:
What is the best athiest argument against any sort of theism?

The enormous lack of gods is one! We have people the world over wanting desperately to find ghosts and gods and leprechauns, but we have yet to get anything on tape. If God is invisible, intangible, and can only guide us from our minds, then God resembles a figment of our imagination much more than something real. That, and as I said above, the odds of one specific version of a god-concept being the one supernatural entity around, when the supernatural is already a dodgy concept itself, are phenomenally low.

Let me know if you want me to clarify anything I've said - sometimes I'm a bad communicator.

Saint Will: no gyration without funkstification.
fabulae! nil satis firmi video quam ob rem accipere hunc mi expediat metum. - Terence


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aftershock567 wrote: Lets

aftershock567 wrote:
Lets see, I have a few questions for the atheists:

I'll answer them all, with the caveat that this is just me talking, and not "atheists in general". That hardly needs mentioning does it? I mean, it should be obvious. Even so, I don't think I am a typical atheist, if such a thing exists (which I doubt actually), so I imagine others will have very different answers than me.

aftershock567 wrote:
Do atheists see a purpose in this life?

Yes I do, but I have a very hard time trying to pin it down with words. I live my life very much from day to day, and rarely think in very transcedent terms about the future. I'm a happy, secure, and much loved and loving person, so I rarely feel the need to think much further than to: which one of my many friends or familymembers am I going to spend my day with?

That sounds banal I know, and I am youngish (28 years old) so I might think in deeper terms as my life goes on, but simply enjoying the moment is where I draw most of my meaning from at present.

But of course there are "bigger" things that give my life meaning. They are all hopes for the future.

I hope to raise a family some day. I absolutely love kids, and I feel very strongly about leading a new person through life. I also have 2 nephews and 6 nieces, all of whom I try to see as much of as possible, and hope to be another positive influence in their lives. Being a guide and a support for future generations is one thing that gives my life meaning.

Then there's the hope for the future of mankind. This is a bit more tricky, because I honestly rarely believe that I have any noticable impact on anything bigger than my immediate circle of friends and family. But I still try to touch as many people's lives as possible (one of the reasons I go on messageboards) to talk and discuss and enlighten, and be enlightened. The future of mankind, as I see it, hinges on communication between people. So that's what I spend alot of energy on. Talking to, and listening to, people.

Also, I don't fear for the future of mankind in the sense that I fear they might die out. You can visit the "too many people..." thread on these boards, to see my thoughts on that. I only fear that the future may hold more pain, suffering, loneliness and unhapiness, unless we all take an active interest in trying to turn that around.

Then there's that Cliché term: self realisation. Most of this is just the above feeling of being happy from day to day and enjoying myself, but there is also the slightly more longterm goals of singing in a band and writting stuff, both fiction, poetry and essays/philosophical musings. I do all these things allready, but I want to continue doing it, and perhaps take it further than I have at the moment.

And then there's this girl... I hope to be something for her that noone else can, to fill a role in her life that will give meaning to her life, thus giving my life meaning too. She certainly gives my life meaning simply by being my girlfriend now. I hope we last.

And finally, if none of the above pans out: if my girlfriend leaves me, and I never fall in love with another like her, if I never get anywhere with my music and writing. If I never have children, and find myself impotent (pun intented) to do anything to "change the world", as it were, I'm still fairly certain my life will not be devoid of meaning.

I think I am too happy, and too optimistic a spirit to ever give up on it all. Who knows, I might choose to live a monastic life of quiet contemplation and meditation then, though not in an actual monestary, because I was born an atheist, and I am pretty sure I'll die an atheist.

aftershock567 wrote:
Do we have any athiests around that drift back to theism sometimes? If so, what makes you take another look at theism?

Having grown up in a society (Denmark) in which religion has almost completely disappeared, except as nostalgic traditions, I have nothing to drift back to. My family has never discussed religion, and go to church only for marriage, babtism and funerals, and on Christmas Eve.

When we do, I have always felt, even as a little child, that this was a tradition of my family, not a philosophical pursuit. The only person to have called herself an atheist in my family, was my grandmother, who was a communist, but I've always felt that neither my parents, grand parents, uncles or aunts, ever believed any of the stories of the Bible, or believed in God or an afterlife in any concrete sense. I hesitate to call them all atheists as such, but they are certainly all the kind of agnostic who doesn't care about wether religion is true or not. It's simply not a part of their lives.

However, I consider myself a very emotional person, and I'm more concerned with language, art and emotional pursuits, than I am with science, math and hard cold facts. (Not that I don't take an interest in science, but I am, first and foremost a student of the humanities).

As such, I have often considered the thought experiment that had I been born in a more religious society, and into a more religious family, would I have been a devout theist? I think I probably would have been. Especially if I had been born into a not-so-dogmatic religious tradition. The more flowing and fluid a thought is, the more it is appealing to me. Poetry touches me more than dogma, so maybe in Saudi Arabia, or some other "God Is The Law" tradition I would still have been at odds with religion.

I don't know if that makes any sense to you. Rest assured though, that the thing I am most sure of, is that I am not sure of anything, so I drift alot. The things I am most sure of are my loved ones. I know I love them, and I trust, deeply trust, that they love me.

aftershock567 wrote:
Something that scares me to think about is what if we actually don't have souls, and when we die our consciousness fades like a candle. Doesn't that scare the hell out of anyone else?  Its like a droid in Star Wars having a memory wipe!

A fellow Star Wars fan I see Smiling That certainly puts you in my good books.

I'll quote Mark Twain from memory, so it's not the excact qoute: "I was dead for millions of years before I was born, and it never caused me the slightest inconvenience."

I think of that quote alot when I think of death.

When C-3PO has his mind wiped, really what happens is he ceases to be C-3PO. They don't portray this at all well in the movies, because he seems to retain his personality from the prequels to the sequels. But then, the minds and behavior of droids in SW doesn't make even the slightest bit of sense Smiling

It's interesting, however, that you use the example of a droid mindwipe, because the droid doesn't cease to be in the material sense: the body is still there, but in the "spiritual" sense, nothing of the "person" that was the previous droid remains.

It's almost as if you have a hard time accepting that a person, such as yourself can simply "cease to be", so you use an example where something lives on (the body), but you at the same time recognize the innate feeling we all have, that dead means dead, so you understand the concept of "ceasing to be" (the mind, and thus everything that is the person/droid, is gone). It's as if you are torn between two conflicting parts of your mind.

I saw a film of a lecture on richarddawkins.net reasantly, entitled "why we believe". It was some scientist, who argued for various psychological mechanisms that might be the sources of religious belief. I'll try and find the link and post it later.

At one point, he talks about how humans have so advanced brains, that we are capable of having eloborate talks and interactions with people who aren't there, in our imaginations. This is simply a result of our complex brains, and a very useful tool for a social animal, for a variety of reasons. However, it also results in a problem we have with dead people.

If a person that you know well drops dead right in front of you, one part of your brain observes the obvious: what was a moment ago a person, is now a corpse. However, another part of your brain is still capable of imagining that person alive: you can remember what they were just saying, and you can imagine what they might have said next. You can, in short, still experience that they are alive, even though you can also experience that they are dead, by looking at the corpse.

This creates a problem for your mental framework, and the leap to imagining a "soul" from there, is a pretty short one. It's not always easy being human Eye-wink But the fact that people cry at funerals tells us that there are parts of us, all of us, that know what is obvious: that when you die, you cease to be. Why cry for someone who is going to heaven after all?

My own feelings about death? I rarely fear it, but that's because I'm young, healthy, and live in an incredably safe society. But like everyone, I do think of it sometimes, and I don't like the idea of that final memory-wipe anymore than you do. But there are many things that console me:

Richard Dawkins opening to "Unweaving the Rainbow" has some nice thoughts on the subject. It's the bit about "we are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones"... Please, if somebody can find that quote, please post it. To you Aftershock, perhaps you can find a youtube video of him reading it or something. Otherwise, you'll just have to take my word for it that it is consoling until somebody posts it. I can't really explain it without remembering the excact passage.

Then there's the Mark Twain quote from above.

I know (or I should say, I believe) that once I have entered into death, I won't worry about it. It will be like before I was born. It is only as I die, that I have anything to fear. So depending on how I die, it's not going to last for long. My grandmother died an old woman, having lived a long and happy life full of love from her, and for her. And when she died she was "on top of her game" as it were. She had no seriously debilitating healthproblems, or lack of energy, she was just very old. She regularly hosted gatherings of the whole family, and she did volenteer work. She went to sleep one night, suffered a brain-embolism in her sleep, and never woke up.

What a way to go!

We all miss her terribly, but she had lived a fuller life than I could ever hope to live, and she died a peaceful death, that didn't even involve a period of illness where she knew that death was coming.

I fear the death of my loved ones more than I fear my own, because I will be around to suffer their deaths. My own will be over as soon as I'm done dying.

But don't get me wrong. I fear my own death too. But so does everyone else. So that's not going to lead me to theism. Everyone fears death, theists do so no less than atheists.

aftershock567 wrote:
What is the best athiest argument against any sort of theism?

That's a tough one. There are many many different kinds of arguments for theism. Almost as many different reasons for believing as there are believers.

I suppose one of the first things I think of when I read through something a theist writes on these boards, is that it is not so much that God doesn't exist in reality that is obvious, but rather that the God that exists in fiction is so obviously fictional.

What I mean is, all religious texts I am familiar with are so obviously (to me) man-made. They read like any other myth, any other story, any other law-book, or any other morality tale.

It's not that I don't find some passages of the Bible or other religious texts profound, it's just that I find parts of Beowulf, The Iliad, and Lord of the Rings profound too, and for the same reasons.

As an avid student of literature, and a huge geek for fantasy, sci-fi, myth and fairytales, I am drawn to, and inspired by all sorts of fiction. Never have I found that I had to believe any of it to be literally true, in order to find it inspiring though.

To me, religion is so obviously man-made because it all centers on the thoughts, hopes, dreams, and not in the least, fears of men. I know some would argue that this is because man can only understand the world through his own eyes, so God's message, whatever it might be, is "spoken in the language of human comprehension" so to speak, but I don't find that argument very compelling.

Religion just "feels" like a human invention to me... I know that's not the sort of argument one usually gets from an atheist. But I put alot of stock in the way I "feel" about the universe. Weirdly, I am still a materialist... Go figure...

aftershock567 wrote:
Thats about it for now, I know I did a bunch of rambling. I am very impressed with how smart and friendly everyone is on the RRS forums! 

Chris

haha, well, now that you've seen my posts, perhaps you won't feel all that bad about rambling Eye-wink

And thank you for your kind words.

Ironically, you will probably stick around to have many fruitful discussions with us. Teaching us something, and being tought something yourself. And yet, from your friendly demeanour, and your open mind, I find you just the sort of theist that I have absolutely no interest in "converting". Clearly you are a good and honest and kind man, and I respect and applaud your beliefs.

Meanwhile, the kinds of people I get annoyed at for not changing their minds, people like Chuck the troll, also known as Fringy_J or Flingy_J or something like that, is the kind of person who starts throwing insults and immature tantrums at the first person who engages them in adult conversation.

It's seems possible that I might be able to bring you around to my way of thinking, and yet, I have no interest in that, whatsoever. You seem like you are a possitively delightful person just the way you are. The angry, self-rightious theists on these boards, however, are people I would so like to see change their minds just a little bit, and yet, they are by far the least likely to ever do so.

What cruel irony...

Well I was born an original sinner
I was spawned from original sin
And if I had a dollar bill for all the things I've done
There'd be a mountain of money piled up to my chin


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Back for more

Thanks for the responses, you guys really go into some serious detail!

After reading the forums and watching a few videos, its seems like the RRS is really against emotionally charged religion, and not really against theism itself. I think this can be a good common ground for me and this site. As you could imagine, many of the non-Catholic Christians I meet in my life who catch wind that I am thinking about being a monk get really upset at the idea for some reason or another, and it almost never boils down to logic. I think I could "fight" along side some atheists against irrational emotional thought, but I refuse to piss on baby Jesus : P

More thoughts:

Ok, so we rewind the big bang and we get a extremely small something or maybe nothing. How does science explain the origins of the big bang without a god. I know that law, matter/energy cannot be created or destroyed, but I think the law was referring to natural means. I do realize this also leads to the problem: if god created the universe, who/what created god, and what created that, and so on. Either way we get a weird problem of something being infinite or eternal.

A poke at evolution. I have heard the argument that we and every other living being are a form of transisional fossil. Ok, I can see that. But how in the world did the first replicators and cells come to be? Even given billions of years, doesn't it seem somewhat fantastic that we came to be without some divine influence? Then again, I guess divine influence seems fantastic as well ; )

Do most atheists really swing Libertarian?

Chris

 


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aftershock567 wrote: After

aftershock567 wrote:

After reading the forums and watching a few videos, its seems like the RRS is really against emotionally charged religion, and not really against theism itself. I think this can be a good common ground for me and this site.

Personally, I'm completely open to the idea of, well, anything. The only major factors are the amount of compelling evidence and the probability of the idea. But yes, I am staunchly against religion, especially fundamentalism. 

Quote:
Either way we get a weird problem of something being infinite or eternal.

Yep, and because an intelligent entity being infinite, eternal, immaterial, existing before space/time, omnisomething, etc. raises innumerable more issues than a natural cause, we have to assume the natural cause. But, really, since this is mostly a matter of probability, it is also correct to say that we simply don't know. Sign, the "I don't know" position is so rare. 

Quote:
But how in the world did the first replicators and cells come to be? Even given billions of years, doesn't it seem somewhat fantastic that we came to be without some divine influence? Then again, I guess divine influence seems fantastic as well ; )

Well, it's not as fantastic as it might seem at first. Be careful here. While the diversity of life is explained by the theory of evolution, the origin of life is labeled abiogenesis. Although both propositions explain life, they explain different aspects of its existence, so we must not confuse evolution and abiogenesis. Even if God created life, evolution would still be the unifying theory of biology, unless God purposefully buried all the fossils, sequenced our genomes, created vestigial organs and limbs especially in embryos, and did many more tricks just to fool us. 

There are currently several hypotheses for the origin of life. I can't explain this very well so I'll wait for someone else. Or, maybe, try this video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8nYTJf62sE

Quote:
Do most atheists really swing Libertarian?

Wow, that's a really good question. Previously, I assumed that the vast majority of atheists were simply hardcore liberal democrats, but as I've met and socialized with more people, I've noticed that a ton of atheists are libertarians, which is great since I'm a moderate libertarian myself.  

 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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aftershock567 wrote:Thanks

aftershock567 wrote:

Thanks for the responses, you guys really go into some serious detail!

After reading the forums and watching a few videos, its seems like the RRS is really against emotionally charged religion, and not really against theism itself. I think this can be a good common ground for me and this site. As you could imagine, many of the non-Catholic Christians I meet in my life who catch wind that I am thinking about being a monk get really upset at the idea for some reason or another, and it almost never boils down to logic. I think I could "fight" along side some atheists against irrational emotional thought, but I refuse to piss on baby Jesus : P

More thoughts:

Ok, so we rewind the big bang and we get a extremely small something or maybe nothing. How does science explain the origins of the big bang without a god. I know that law, matter/energy cannot be created or destroyed, but I think the law was referring to natural means. I do realize this also leads to the problem: if god created the universe, who/what created god, and what created that, and so on. Either way we get a weird problem of something being infinite or eternal.

The way I see it, whatever may have initiated the Big Bang, the least likely and least explanatory idea is a 'god'. We have no logical or scientific reason to require the trigger to be anything more than an all but infinitesimal 'twitch' of the underlying 'fabric' of what is. Requiring it be anything greater, let alone infinite, is what invites the worst kind of 'infinite regress' problem you allude to.

My standard insight I will repeat again here: a conceptual 'infinite regress' is only a physical impossibility, implying eternities and real infinities of space or time, if we assume each element in the chain to be equal to or greater than what follows. If we instead imagine a sequence of ever decreasing elements, the 'real' infinities disappear. Instead we have a sequence which approaches zero at a steady rate.

Consider the infinite sequence of numbers defined by the expression: 1 + 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 + 1/16 + ... <to infinity>. Each number is half the one before. This can readily be shown by high school maths to sum to the quantity 2.0. Imagine we can define each number being the time interval in seconds between an event and its effect. So two seconds after we start the process going, it has disappeared.

Now reverse the sequence.

According to what Quantum mechanics seems to be showing us, space and time and energy are not infinitely divisible, but at an extremely small scale regime, there is an irreducible 'fuzziness', or 'uncertainty'. Now imagine something happening at this level, which initiates a simple doubling sequence as I described. Two seconds later we have the event corresponding to the 'full scale'.

So that is a coherent answer to the 'infinite regress problem'. It is only problem for the medieval concept of  'cause-effect', involving such terms as 'sufficient reason'. And it is only the God hypothesis that inherently requires something infinite or eternal.

As for conservation of matter/energy, that is not necessarily a problem either, since there is a sound argument for treating the energy stored in the gravitational field of a collection of masses as zero when those masses approach infinite separation, which become a negative quantity as they come together, representing the conversion of gravitational potential energy into kinetic energy of motion of the masses. To cut out a lot of physics here, it is argued that the nett energy of the Universe is in fact zero, when the energy equivalent of all the mass, the gravitational energy (negative) and all the other energy is combined. So there is not necessarily a violation of conservation of mass/energy either.

Quote:

A poke at evolution. I have heard the argument that we and every other living being are a form of transisional fossil. Ok, I can see that. But how in the world did the first replicators and cells come to be? Even given billions of years, doesn't it seem somewhat fantastic that we came to be without some divine influence? Then again, I guess divine influence seems fantastic as well ; )

Evolution and the emergence of the first replicators are normally regarded as two distinct problems - once something has started replication, the evolutionary process (variation + selection by differential survival) has something to work with, and is not seen as having any fundamental problems.

We know that the building blocks of proteins and nucleic acids are generated by various natural processes, so while there are certainly gaps in the detailed sequence and the sort of physical environment best suited for these building blocks to have time to get together into self-duplicating aggregates is the subject of intense study.

As for 'fantastic', I wouldn't say that. 'Wonderful', yes. Our minds are not equipped to grasp the scale of gazillions of molecules interacting over millions, maybe billions of years, on countless billions of planets across the universe -  the true miracle would be better thought of as the idea that under those conditions, nowhere turned out to be just right for life of some form to get started.

Quote:

Do most atheists really swing Libertarian?

Not me,  they do seem to cover pretty much the full political range, excluding theocratic, of course...

The trend, as judged by considering modern developed countries, would if anything seem to point to an association between atheism and the left, rather than libertarian.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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Nikolaj wrote:I'll answer

Nikolaj wrote:

I'll answer them all, with the caveat that this is just me talking, and not "atheists in general". That hardly needs mentioning does it? I mean, it should be obvious. Even so, I don't think I am a typical atheist, if such a thing exists (which I doubt actually), so I imagine others will have very different answers than me.

Pff! What a typical atheist thing to say!

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aftershock567 wrote:Thanks

aftershock567 wrote:
Thanks for the responses, you guys really go into some serious detail!

Force of habit. There are people I've talked to who object to my beliefs (or lack thereof) without knowing anything about them at all. 

aftershock567 wrote:
After reading the forums and watching a few videos, its seems like the RRS is really against emotionally charged religion, and not really against theism itself.

I'm sure you've understood my position (which probably isn't exactly that of the RRS "core" members), but I'll restate it just to be clear: the detailed supernatural does not exist. I can get into more detail, but that pretty much covers it. That's where all my verbal scrappiness comes from. If someone told you they were convinced that the moon was made of green cheese, you can't tell me you'd be able to hold back at least attempting to correct them. Something like, "no, that's not true - the moon can't be made of cheese, because that makes no sense." That's my position on theism. So while I'm not passionate-sounding about it, I am very much against theism. Not in the sense that I have a crusade against theists, just that I want them to understand where their thinking is irrational.

aftershock567 wrote:
I think I could "fight" along side some atheists against irrational emotional thought, but I refuse to piss on baby Jesus : P

I would hope that any mention of pissing on the baby Jesus was figurative. I can't imagine feeling compelled to urinate on a nativity scene. That just seems mean. 

aftershock567 wrote:
Ok, so we rewind the big bang and we get a extremely small something or maybe nothing. How does science explain the origins of the big bang without a god.

First of all, science has to explain everything without a god, because gods won't show up in the natural world. So there's no reason to include them in the explanation. Second, we're only just beginning to see what actually happened seconds after the big bang, so to say there's a solid explanation there would be misleading. The jury's still out. We know what happened, but the explanations are controversial. There exist a few good hypotheses, though. It just remains to be seen how each will do.

aftershock567 wrote:
 Either way we get a weird problem of something being infinite or eternal.

The "something" that might be infinite or eternal is our ignorance. We simply don't know. Religion doesn't have the luxury of admitting its ignorance, because people are drawn to religion for certainty. Many religious people can be certain, for instance, that God created everything and human beings are the focus of all of His attention. They have neither reason nor evidence to believe that, but they are certain of it nonetheless. Science takes a different approach, and when a scientist is ignorant of something, she is forced to say "I don't know".

aftershock567 wrote:
But how in the world did the first replicators and cells come to be? Even given billions of years, doesn't it seem somewhat fantastic that we came to be without some divine influence?

There are good hypotheses for that, too. I think the most entertaining (and helpful) is available here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8nYTJf62sE

The rest of that video series is also very good. 

[edit: I just realized that butterbattle sent you the exact same link. It's that good!]

aftershock567 wrote:
Then again, I guess divine influence seems fantastic as well ; )

A little fantastic, yes. But understandable.

aftershock567 wrote:
Do most atheists really swing Libertarian?

Seeing the relative success of left-leaning mixed economies as compared to right-leaning economies (for there has never been a purely capitalist state) I can't say I'd support a Libertarian government. Socialist countries just seem to have an easier go of it. Germany, Canada, and northern Europe are filled with great places to live, politically and economically speaking. If that requires a bit more tax from me, so be it.

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id rather be a fry

 van helsing shows the reason why 

 


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Chris,As I mentioned before,

Chris,

As I mentioned before, I was in a similar situation to yours at one time. If you really harbor the amount of doubt that your initial post indicated, why are you still considering the monastic life? You can certainly live a structured life outside of that setting, and have the resources to do more good for the world and for yourself. For example, I work from home. Aside from the very occasional trip to California to meet with co-workers, I have a very set routine that I follow. If I wasn't married with children, I would be even more structured.

Concerning god and the big bang, the proofs of St Thomas Aquinas convinced me for a long time after the fire of my initial conversion had dampened. Being able to see the fatal problems with those proofs was a major step in my reversion to atheism.

Concerning evolution, the other posters made excellent points. If you do a bit of research, you'll find a lot on abiogenesis. But, to get more to the point, how could you justify the existence of diseases like Ebola with a loving god who engaged in special creation? Do you believe that god created the Smallpox virus? If he did, why? If not, then why would you assume that that could develop, when other forms of life cold not? And, yes, I'm aware that a virus may not technically be alive, but as a biological replicator with adaptation mechanisms, it is applicable. To see an innocent child slough off pox infested skin or bleed out in the last stages of Ebola is terrible, and it does not bring to mind the idea of a beneficent deity. It is easy to see why such a thing would exist from a naturalistic viewpoint. Can there be anything but callous disregard or outright malevolence from a theistic viewpoint?

I should note that living as an atheist does not have to strip you of feelings of majesty and beauty. There is certainly art and beauty found within Catholic liturgy and practice, and I can appreciate it without being weighed down with the beliefs. But I have fond myself appreciating nature more and more. At the same time, I have grown more appreciation for human works. If you fear that atheism is a barren philosophical position, you may be surprised. I find that my life is more meaningful as a "magnificent accident" than as yet another devoted creation. The beauty and pleasure on Earth are so much more sweet and poignant now that I'm not obsessing over overcoming my human nature. Life is just so much more precious now that I don't think it is a pale prelude to something infinitely better. The only relationship in my life which is not almost immeasureably better is between my father and I, and that is completely due to my rejection of his religion.

Finally, I would challenge you to do this: spend a week or so as an atheist. Privately. Just make an effort to look at the world around you in a naturalistic fashion. Ignore emotional concerns and reactions. Demand a strict logical basis for any claims you may encounter during that time. Just look at the world, and see if anything you see is inexplicable outside of a strict naturalistic perspective. I think you'll find the world is actually more explicable. People and events just make more sense.

All that is necessary for the triumph of good is that evil men do nothing.


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Ha, if you only knew me...

thatonedude wrote:

Chris,

As I mentioned before, I was in a similar situation to yours at one time. If you really harbor the amount of doubt that your initial post indicated, why are you still considering the monastic life? You can certainly live a structured life outside of that setting, and have the resources to do more good for the world and for yourself. For example, I work from home. Aside from the very occasional trip to California to meet with co-workers, I have a very set routine that I follow. If I wasn't married with children, I would be even more structured.

Concerning god and the big bang, the proofs of St Thomas Aquinas convinced me for a long time after the fire of my initial conversion had dampened. Being able to see the fatal problems with those proofs was a major step in my reversion to atheism.

Concerning evolution, the other posters made excellent points. If you do a bit of research, you'll find a lot on abiogenesis. But, to get more to the point, how could you justify the existence of diseases like Ebola with a loving god who engaged in special creation? Do you believe that god created the Smallpox virus? If he did, why? If not, then why would you assume that that could develop, when other forms of life cold not? And, yes, I'm aware that a virus may not technically be alive, but as a biological replicator with adaptation mechanisms, it is applicable. To see an innocent child slough off pox infested skin or bleed out in the last stages of Ebola is terrible, and it does not bring to mind the idea of a beneficent deity. It is easy to see why such a thing would exist from a naturalistic viewpoint. Can there be anything but callous disregard or outright malevolence from a theistic viewpoint?

I should note that living as an atheist does not have to strip you of feelings of majesty and beauty. There is certainly art and beauty found within Catholic liturgy and practice, and I can appreciate it without being weighed down with the beliefs. But I have fond myself appreciating nature more and more. At the same time, I have grown more appreciation for human works. If you fear that atheism is a barren philosophical position, you may be surprised. I find that my life is more meaningful as a "magnificent accident" than as yet another devoted creation. The beauty and pleasure on Earth are so much more sweet and poignant now that I'm not obsessing over overcoming my human nature. Life is just so much more precious now that I don't think it is a pale prelude to something infinitely better. The only relationship in my life which is not almost immeasureably better is between my father and I, and that is completely due to my rejection of his religion.

Finally, I would challenge you to do this: spend a week or so as an atheist. Privately. Just make an effort to look at the world around you in a naturalistic fashion. Ignore emotional concerns and reactions. Demand a strict logical basis for any claims you may encounter during that time. Just look at the world, and see if anything you see is inexplicable outside of a strict naturalistic perspective. I think you'll find the world is actually more explicable. People and events just make more sense.

I do harbor a ton of doubt about a ton of things in the Bible. I have a few reasons for not wanting to act on that doubt. I am very impressionable, and I tend to make decisions based on "feelings" or "gut instinct." So some days I look at events in the news such as someone suffering with a terrible disease. I am quick to wonder why god would let this kind of stuff happen. I can only ever come up with three possibilities. God isn't completely good, God doesn't exist, or these terrible natural happenings are allowed to occur in order to allow us to actually exercise our free will (I know alot of atheists don't actually believe in a truly free will). Assuming we have free will, imagine a situation where God arranges things so there is absolutely no chance of us hurting ourselves. No way to sin even if we wanted to. In such a situation we could not have any possible sort of free will.  Without contrast we cannot see ourselves as we are.

So lets say we have a person that comes from a long line of serial killers. Lets say everyone in his family is a serial killer, they are rotten to the core, its genetic, and we know for sure that this person will too go on to be a serial killer. Do we lock the guy up and take away his free will even before he has done anything? Now I already know that putting this argument out there I have just opened up a whole can of something bad but you will have to slap me later : P

First off, I want to put a few things out there. I am still clinging to Theism because I am not convinced that God didn't cause the big bang, and I have only just started reading up on abiogenesis (I watched that video which was really cool) but I am not yet convinced that replicators could have formed in such a way. The areas of what was before the big bang and proving abiogenesis are the two big battleground areas in my mind that will ultimately decide which way I swing.

Drifting back to God, suffering, and free will. Ok, the Bible has huge problems here. If God created me, he knows what I will do. So why condem me to hell for the sins I sometimes commit? This is the main problem that causes me so much doubt. My only answer to it is my gut instinct, though I do believe we all deserve a better answer from God than what my gut instinct tells me. Anyways, my gut, and maybe my experience with people as well, tells me that we are all tragically flawed, and are destined to destroy ourselves unless we find some kind of salvation. I think this is what leads me to the monestary. Taking a look at my personal life I have little discipline when it comes to what I do with my free time. As it stands now, after work I spend much of my time drinking and well...doing worse things. I have actually stayed three months at the monestary back in 2005. Through the disciplined schedule, I became a much happier person, and I actually became physically fit, almost ripped (lots and lots of yard work to be done at the monestary). I couldn't help but feel that reaching for God in this way made me a better person in every way.

Yuck, I am not done with my rambling, but it is 6am and I need to sleep : (

Chris


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(I hope you don't mind that

(I hope you don't mind that I'm answering statements you directed at someone else. Let me know if you do.)

aftershock567 wrote:
 Assuming we have free will, imagine a situation where God arranges things so there is absolutely no chance of us hurting ourselves. No way to sin even if we wanted to. In such a situation we could not have any possible sort of free will.  Without contrast we cannot see ourselves as we are.

In your frame of reference, it's possible to "sin" because you have a god to offend. In my frame of reference, I can certainly hurt others and break the law of the land, but "sin" is an irrelevant concept. Just so you understand my point of view. So when I read "without contrast", I imagine that you mean if we don't have a reference regarding sinning and not-sinning, then we can't know ourselves. But you see my confusion. We continue to behave exactly as we have for thousands of years, under hundreds of different gods, so the influence of one of those gods is easy enough to discount.

aftershock567 wrote:
Do we lock the guy up and take away his free will even before he has done anything?

We would have to believe that genetics is the only determinant of behaviour, which it isn't. We wouldn't actually be taking away his free will in that case anyway, just his mobility.

aftershock567 wrote:
I am still clinging to Theism because I am not convinced that God didn't cause the big bang, and I have only just started reading up on abiogenesis (I watched that video which was really cool) but I am not yet convinced that replicators could have formed in such a way.

Fair enough. With regards to the Big Bang: if it did have a specific cause, and isn't just the continuation of a separate process (no way to know with the available information), why do you figure it's your God that would have caused it? There were hundreds of gods before Yahweh. Why would Yahweh be the specific god responsible for the universe's creation, and not, say, Wotan?

aftershock567 wrote:
If God created me, he knows what I will do. So why condem me to hell for the sins I sometimes commit?

Furthermore, since God is the one who outlined the sins, why would he set you up like that? The whole process seems to go: 1) You get created by God already doing what God doesn't want (sin) 2) You predictably continue to do what God doesn't want, 3) God punishes you for doing what even a mere mortal could predict that you would do: not what God wants.

The standard answer, of course, is that God works in mysterious ways. But what makes more sense is that we have been behaving the same way for millennia, and our interpretation of that behaviour is what has changed.

aftershock567 wrote:
Anyways, my gut, and maybe my experience with people as well, tells me that we are all tragically flawed, and are destined to destroy ourselves unless we find some kind of salvation.

You have to have a point of reference to judge "flawed". There must be some perfection by which you could judge that something or someone has a flaw. Self-destructive behaviour is common in people, but try viewing it as just a behaviour, and you might have an easier time with forgiveness and empathy.

aftershock567 wrote:
Taking a look at my personal life I have little discipline when it comes to what I do with my free time. As it stands now, after work I spend much of my time drinking and well...doing worse things.

I have a feeling your theology regarding your situation is disabling your ability to forgive yourself. If there is a God, and He has any wisdom at all, then He would want you to forgive yourself.

aftershock567 wrote:
Through the disciplined schedule, I became a much happier person, and I actually became physically fit, almost ripped (lots and lots of yard work to be done at the monestary). I couldn't help but feel that reaching for God in this way made me a better person in every way.

That last paragraph made me laugh, but not in a mean way. I can relate. When I'm on a disciplined schedule and physically fit, I'm happy, too. In fact, it's the only way I stay happy. So when you associate that with "reaching for God", it's a bit funny (for me). Have you tried a disciplined schedule without the God aspect? Have you ever considered that you may have adult attention deficit disorder? (Don't laugh - you've described some very common behaviours associated with it).

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aftershock567 wrote:I do

aftershock567 wrote:

I do harbor a ton of doubt about a ton of things in the Bible. I have a few reasons for not wanting to act on that doubt. I am very impressionable, and I tend to make decisions based on "feelings" or "gut instinct." So some days I look at events in the news such as someone suffering with a terrible disease. I am quick to wonder why god would let this kind of stuff happen. I can only ever come up with three possibilities. God isn't completely good, God doesn't exist, or these terrible natural happenings are allowed to occur in order to allow us to actually exercise our free will (I know alot of atheists don't actually believe in a truly free will). Assuming we have free will, imagine a situation where God arranges things so there is absolutely no chance of us hurting ourselves. No way to sin even if we wanted to. In such a situation we could not have any possible sort of free will.  Without contrast we cannot see ourselves as we are.

Yeah, I had to face that, too. It leads to the whole permissive versus active will debate. But you can actually boil it down to a simpler question: Does an intervention by god remove free will? Apparently not, as the bible shows god intervening many times, and it apparently does not strip one of free will. Would you say that Paul was stripped of his free will on the road to Damascus? Or Moses with the burning bush? If it does, then god routinely stripped people of free will. If is does not, then it should be no problem for god to intervene now. The only question would be as to the scale of that intervention.

This, as an aside, raises the question of why his miracles seem to have changed. The god of the Old Testament would routinely perform vast miracles, from columns of fire and smoke to stopping the sun to burning up religious rebels. I have always thought that a person would have to be downright insane to see even one of those miracles and still rebel, especially given the obvious propensity in humanity towards accepting bizarre beliefs(see Mormonism, Scientology, Hale-Bopp cult, Jehovas Witnesses, etc). Yet, we are told to believe that the majority of the Israelites routinely saw these things, and still strayed on many occasions. This makes no sense at all.

 

Quote:

So lets say we have a person that comes from a long line of serial killers. Lets say everyone in his family is a serial killer, they are rotten to the core, its genetic, and we know for sure that this person will too go on to be a serial killer. Do we lock the guy up and take away his free will even before he has done anything? Now I already know that putting this argument out there I have just opened up a whole can of something bad but you will have to slap me later : P

If this were actually possible, and you knew for certain that he would become a serial killer somehow, then yes, I think it would be entirely rational to stop him. You wouldn't let a rabid stray dog run loose if you had the power to stop it, would you? The caveat here is that we have no such assurance in real life, so such an action could not be condoned outside of the hypothetical situation.

Quote:

First off, I want to put a few things out there. I am still clinging to Theism because I am not convinced that God didn't cause the big bang, and I have only just started reading up on abiogenesis (I watched that video which was really cool) but I am not yet convinced that replicators could have formed in such a way. The areas of what was before the big bang and proving abiogenesis are the two big battleground areas in my mind that will ultimately decide which way I swing.

And that's fine. I think you will find(like I did) that many of your doubts about the science are fueled by an emotional responses, and not actual problems with the science.

Quote:

Drifting back to God, suffering, and free will. Ok, the Bible has huge problems here. If God created me, he knows what I will do. So why condem me to hell for the sins I sometimes commit? This is the main problem that causes me so much doubt. My only answer to it is my gut instinct, though I do believe we all deserve a better answer from God than what my gut instinct tells me. Anyways, my gut, and maybe my experience with people as well, tells me that we are all tragically flawed, and are destined to destroy ourselves unless we find some kind of salvation. I think this is what leads me to the monestary. Taking a look at my personal life I have little discipline when it comes to what I do with my free time. As it stands now, after work I spend much of my time drinking and well...doing worse things. I have actually stayed three months at the monestary back in 2005. Through the disciplined schedule, I became a much happier person, and I actually became physically fit, almost ripped (lots and lots of yard work to be done at the monestary). I couldn't help but feel that reaching for God in this way made me a better person in every way.

Yuck, I am not done with my rambling, but it is 6am and I need to sleep : (

Chris

Are we tragically flawed? I would agree wholeheartedly. However, this does not lead to the existance of a deity. Consider the fact that we are animals. Look at the behavior of our closest relatives, the chimps and bonobos. You will see most of our "bad habits" mirrored in those species. Murder, violence and segregation all have their chimpanzee analogs. Our sexual promiscuity is clearly analogous to the bonobos' "swinging" ways. Imagine that you took a chimp, for example, and layered on a human level intellect WITHOUT removing the underlying chimp behaviors. Now, you have a chimp that will still be driven to "bad" behaviors, but with the intellect to see that these are counter productive and undesirable(an understanding which will largely come from the ability to imagine himself on the receiving end). This realization made human behavior so much easier to understand and deal with for me. My own behavior came into focus, and I find that I have more control over my behavior, along with a more compassionate view of both my failings, and those of my fellow man.

I suppose I should stop and tell you a bit more about myself. I, too, tend to be a weird mix of logic and "gut" passions. Once I am convinced of something, I become the fiery defender. I always viewed my conversion to Catholicism as a logical progression. Once I was Catholic, I was 100% Catholic. I would say the rosary in (college) class, challenge philosophy instructors in class and hand out "miraculous medals" like candy at Halloween. I found receiving the eucharist in the hand to be borderline blasphemy, and I knelt to receive unless forced not to by the priest. I was the one taking the most undesirable timeslots for adoration. Yadda yadda. I was a hardcore Catholic.

Then, my dad(who was the other hardcore Catholic in the family) decided that he might want to become Eastern Orthodox. Well, I fought him every step of the way, attacking his arguments with ferocity. And, then it dawned on me. I was mad. Seething mad. This whole debate about Catholic versus Orthodox was born out of my emotions. And, as I had been so proud of my "logical" conversion, this shook me.

So, I stepped back from it. I cleared my head, and decided that it was time to examine both of those faiths with an unbiased eye. I would take nothing to the table but logic, and see which one made sense. My decision had to be cold and calculated. The problem was, neither stood up. I found that when I left my emotions on the sidelines, neither Catholicism or Orthodoxy made a hell of a lot of sense. I tried to build up my faith again by going back to the church fathers. It didn't have any effect. I finally had to accept that if I held my own faith up to the same level of critical thought that I held up other religions, it would also fail. I quietly became an atheist, as the only explanations that stood up to scrutiny were naturalistic.

I decided to bury my beliefs and live my life as a Catholic anyway. I saw this as the only palatable compromise. However, I began seeing that the irrationality of religion primed people for the acceptance of other irrational beliefs and behaviors, and how much damage it was causing. I finally admitted to my wife what happened. Then, I marched over to my father's house, and told him. He still thinks it is some rebellious phase.

I was scared of how empty my life would be, but it is far from the reality of what happened. I can be honest in ways I never really knew I wasn't before. My relationships with pretty much everyone except my father has been strengthened, even though most of them still don't know of my "defection" to the dark side. It really is like a block taken off of my shoulders.

All that is necessary for the triumph of good is that evil men do nothing.


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Its freeking cold!

Thanks again for the replies Willness and Onedude.

I think I am gonna take your advice and pretend I am hardcore atheist for a bit. I have a bunch of religious friends I can lay out some atheist arguments to and see how they defend theism. Stirring the religious pot should be fun. I will take some notes and let you know what they come up with.

Also, I am not saying you guys have "converted" me yet, but when I was 5 years old the first profession I was interested in was paleontology. I think I might look at what getting a degree in it would entail.

Another question for the atheists:

How do most atheists look at abortion? The way I see it, even looking at it from a religious point of view, is that it shouldn't be a big deal until a distinct EEG pattern, at about 24 to 27 weeks. (which is also about the same time that the fetus is viable outside of the womb). What are your thoughts?

Chris

I am editing this because I copied and pasted something and a bunch of gibberish appeared in the actual forum.


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aftershock567 wrote:Thanks

aftershock567 wrote:

Thanks again for the replies Willness and Onedude.

I think I am gonna take your advice and pretend I am hardcore atheist for a bit. I have a bunch of religious friends I can lay out some atheist arguments to and see how they defend theism. Stirring the religious pot should be fun. I will take some notes and let you know what they come up with.

That should be fun. Once I began to look for the fallacies in arguments from family anf friends, it became easy to see why their arguments failed. You could start with something like this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logical_fallacy 

Once you understand the basics of logical fallacies(and I'm not saying you already do not; I know nothing of your training in logic, so this is just general advice), you will find that most of their arguments boil down to a handful of common fallacies and emotional appeals.

Quote:

Also, I am not saying you guys have "converted" me yet, but when I was 5 years old the first profession I was interested in was paleontology. I think I might look at what getting a degree in it would entail.

Frankly, if a page of gentle probing questions and comments actually converted you, you were already an atheist looking for confirmation. I would not expect that. My goal in this is not to convert you. You simply had a similar story to mine, and I was sharing my experience and thoughts.

Quote:

Another question for the atheists:

How do most atheists look at abortion? The way I see it, even looking at it from a religious point of view, is that it shouldn't be a big deal until a distinct EEG pattern, at about 24 to 27 weeks. (which is also about the same time that the fetus is viable outside of the womb). What are your thoughts?

I think that you will find that atheists hold a variety of opinions on the matter of abortion. Most will probably tend towards a pro-abortion stance. There are also anti-abortion atheists. I am still trying to sort my emotions from the facts, and come up with a coherent position. 

 

 

All that is necessary for the triumph of good is that evil men do nothing.


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aftershock567 wrote:Thanks

aftershock567 wrote:
Thanks again for the replies Willness and Onedude.

You can call me Will. I should have said that before.

aftershock567 wrote:
Also, I am not saying you guys have "converted" me yet, but when I was 5 years old the first profession I was interested in was paleontology. I think I might look at what getting a degree in it would entail.

Interesting. Education is always a huge first step. Good luck! As for "converting" you, I have to say it's not really my goal. I know the tag-line of the site says something else, but for me, you already seem to address issues in a rational way, so the perspective of a lack of belief (at least) will always be with you. The difficult thing beyond that is relating to others once that perspective is gained. At first, it's like being someone who just quit smoking and you notice people smoking everywhere. Bizarre, but true. In my case, it ends up with me avoiding religious conversations with a friendly smile. Unless someone is being out-and-out antagonistic, that is. Then they're just asking for a beat-down.

aftershock567 wrote:
How do most atheists look at abortion? The way I see it, even looking at it from a religious point of view, is that it shouldn't be a big deal until a distinct EEG pattern, at about 24 to 27 weeks.

As far as I'm concerned, this is a really complicated problem. I'm not sure if my view is shared by other atheists, but I think Roe vs. Wade should have settled the issue of timing. The reason I think it's complicated is that the emotional trauma to a woman is very significant. So while I oppose abortion when keeping a child is viable (economically, emotionally, etc.) I can't imagine opposing it in cases where neither the child nor the mother is likely to come out of it for the better. Obviously that's vague, but I don't think it's a black-and-white issue.

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aftershock567 wrote:How do

aftershock567 wrote:

How do most atheists look at abortion? The way I see it, even looking at it from a religious point of view, is that it shouldn't be a big deal until a distinct EEG pattern, at about 24 to 27 weeks. (which is also about the same time that the fetus is viable outside of the womb). What are your thoughts?

After receiving a much needed lesson on this issue from Hamby, I'm really not sure what my position is now. However, what I am sure of is that we must take the most logical position, not one fueled by religion or emotion. It is not correct to claim that the fetus is completely without worth nor is it correct to claim that the fetus is always more important than the rights of the mother. Thus, anywhere from "no abortion except in incest, rape, might harm the mother" to "end of second trimester" seems possible for me. Or, leave it up to the states? Bleh.

 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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aftershock567 wrote:How do

aftershock567 wrote:

How do most atheists look at abortion? The way I see it, even looking at it from a religious point of view, is that it shouldn't be a big deal until a distinct EEG pattern, at about 24 to 27 weeks. (which is also about the same time that the fetus is viable outside of the womb). What are your thoughts?

I would agree with your conclusion.  As long as a fetus needs a womb, the woman with the womb has the right and responsibility for decisions regarding the fetus.  Once it can survive on its own, it becomes a baby that is a member of the wider community.  

BTW - This thread has been a very interesting read.  Thank you for this.

 

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Quote:The way I see it, many

Quote:
The way I see it, many people, theist or atheist, go back and forth between belief and non-belief the same way that I do.  So, I think one of the questions you have to ask yourself is what do you hope for? I believe that if there is a god, he knows my limitations and he knows how limited my knowledge is in this life. So I hope god will understand my skepticism.

While it is certainly closer to the god that Thomas Jefferson envisioned , being one willing to accept an intellectual  challenge, BOTH your statement and the attitude  of Jefferson still fail.

It merely is your mind wishing for utopian figure one inserts in order to fill in the gaps where answers are lacking.

The problem is that of efficancy. How long are you willing to wait in the hopes god will clue you in? Would you wait for a paycheck forever after it was passed due and still continue working? He clues some people in. doesn't clue others in, and people fight over who was clued in and who wasnt? That is not the sign of a god existing, but wrather a sign that people make up fantastic stories and fight over which one is real.

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Brian37 wrote:Quote:The way

Brian37 wrote:

Quote:
The way I see it, many people, theist or atheist, go back and forth between belief and non-belief the same way that I do.  So, I think one of the questions you have to ask yourself is what do you hope for? I believe that if there is a god, he knows my limitations and he knows how limited my knowledge is in this life. So I hope god will understand my skepticism.

While it is certainly closer to the god that Thomas Jefferson envisioned , being one willing to accept an intellectual  challenge, BOTH your statement and the attitude  of Jefferson still fail.

It merely is your mind wishing for utopian figure one inserts in order to fill in the gaps where answers are lacking.

The problem is that of efficancy. How long are you willing to wait in the hopes god will clue you in? Would you wait for a paycheck forever after it was passed due and still continue working? He clues some people in. doesn't clue others in, and people fight over who was clued in and who wasnt? That is not the sign of a god existing, but wrather a sign that people make up fantastic stories and fight over which one is real.

Lets put it this way, and I hope this doesn't sound too much like Pascal's wager, nobody can prove or disprove god to me...its just never going to happen. If we assume there is no god, and no sort of afterlife or cycle of rebirth etc, our lives are meaningless. Our universe will eventually end in some way. No trace of us will be left. So why live and suffer? I am not saying that I suffer terrible things, but life for most people is hard. Why put up with it? If our consciousness simply ends when we die there is no point to anything. Wouldn't you hope for at least a lasting purpose? If not I say we all rent a gun and buy a bullet :P  How long am I willing to wait for my hopes? I guess that depends on what they are worth to me. I do know that if my mind has no soul attached to it that existence isn't worth anything to me, because my existence and all the things it has and will influence, will eventually end.

So do I care what is right? Sure I do! Do I favor one scenario over another? You bet your ass! Is the "real truth" more important than my hopes? Yes, by far! But all I have to go on at the moment are my hopes, so they will just have to do...

Chris


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aftershock567 wrote: ...If

aftershock567 wrote:
...If we assume there is no god, and no sort of afterlife or cycle of rebirth etc, our lives are meaningless. Our universe will eventually end in some way. No trace of us will be left. So why live and suffer?...
*emphasis added*

I get what your saying in the sense that I understand your words, but I don't understand your reasoning at all. The above might as well be giberish to me.

 

aftershock567 wrote:
I am not saying that I suffer terrible things, but life for most people is hard.
*emphasis added*

Again, this is simpy not true in my experience. Life for most people is wonderful from where I'm standing. I know it's a matter of perspective, but even so, your reasoning is not universal. I'm seeing the glass as half full, and your reasoning doesn't make any sense to me.

 

aftershock567 wrote:
Why put up with it? If our consciousness simply ends when we die there is no point to anything.

Why not put up with it? The thing is, life is great, and I could never comtemplate leaving it behind. Now don't get me wrong, it's not that I have everything I could ever want, and that things don't go shitty for me from time to time. It's just that I'm an optimist, so the mere idea that there is no point to life is unfathomable to me.

I think it's a question of outlook. Never have I comtemplated an afterlife or a God or anything like that, because if I'm going to hope for something, might as well be something in this life. I just hope for a good time with my niece tonight, we're gonna be cooking dinner together. That's all the point to existence I could ever need: today.

So I'm not saying you're wrong and I'm right. I'm just saying your argument: "There needs to be a point to life" is simply incomprehensable to me. How could there not be a point to life? Life is the point.

 

I don't know that that helps you at all, but I just think you should know, the argument is not universal, insofar as to some of us, it doesn't make any sense at all.

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I was spawned from original sin
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There'd be a mountain of money piled up to my chin


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aftershock567 wrote:Lets put

aftershock567 wrote:
Lets put it this way, and I hope this doesn't sound too much like Pascal's wager, nobody can prove or disprove god to me...its just never going to happen.

That's fairly reasonable, considering proof really only happens in math.

aftershock567 wrote:
If we assume there is no god, and no sort of afterlife or cycle of rebirth etc, our lives are meaningless.

What? Why? Just because there isn't one, specific, prescribed meaning? You get to make your own! Isn't that great? Okay, maybe you're not there yet, but there are, in fact, lots of places to find joy in this situation.

aftershock567 wrote:
Our universe will eventually end in some way. No trace of us will be left.

Right. Our rarity makes us valuable, don't you think?

aftershock567 wrote:
So why live and suffer? I am not saying that I suffer terrible things, but life for most people is hard. Why put up with it? If our consciousness simply ends when we die there is no point to anything.

Well jeez, when you put it that way, it really does sound bad. But I don't know if I arrive at the conclusion that "there's no point to anything", especially if you think the alternative is to fight everything in your being to try and adhere to an arbitrary code of ethics that may-or-may-not have been written by an invisible creature that may-or-may-not exist.

That's just ... complicated. I can't describe to you the weight that would leave you, should you realize that you're part of an ecosystem. I mean really understand. If you take the God out of it, reality is plain, and wonderful, and boring and surprising. But it's all there in its mercurial glory.

aftershock567 wrote:
Wouldn't you hope for at least a lasting purpose? If not I say we all rent a gun and buy a bullet :P

I know you're joking here, but keep in mind, your "lasting purpose" is the ticket on the Eternal Heavenly Cruise that you might not even score. What happens if you end up in hell? Wouldn't it be better to have just died than to be eternally tormented? I'd say yes! And what are the chances that you'll actually get to heaven? I don't know all the rules, but if you've picked the wrong god, or there's a god without a heaven, or if the admission standards have changed ... then your purpose just turned into eternal hellfire. That's way worse than just dying!

aftershock567 wrote:
How long am I willing to wait for my hopes? I guess that depends on what they are worth to me.

I guess. But hope is only hope. It's not a promise, and sometimes it's just something to keep us going. I don't know what hope even entails for you.

aftershock567 wrote:
I do know that if my mind has no soul attached to it that existence isn't worth anything to me, because my existence and all the things it has and will influence, will eventually end.

But doesn't that make your time more valuable? It's going to end, so figure out how to make yourself comfortable. I don't mean get a comfy couch, I mean if you understand what improves your situation, do that. I don't see how that's a bad idea.

aftershock567 wrote:
So do I care what is right? Sure I do! Do I favor one scenario over another? You bet your ass! Is the "real truth" more important than my hopes? Yes, by far! But all I have to go on at the moment are my hopes, so they will just have to do...

But you're hoping for what? Something that may or may not happen. Okay. So now that you know that you have absolutely no control over that eventuality, what's next? Really - you don't know what happens after death, since nobody can disprove or prove anything about the supernatural (God, heaven, etc). Now you know that you know nothing about that, and probably can't influence that at all. What do you want to do now?

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Really, it will all end.

Have you ever met someone that claimed to be a Christian but didn't really understand what true belief in Christianity entails?  If I were a hardcore Bible thumping Christian and I believed that everyone in the world will be tortured in hell if they don't accept Christ, I would lead a very different life. If all I had to worry about was the afterlife then I would have no job other than spreading the gospel of my religion. And how could any half decent person who truly believes these things do anything else? We are talking about billions of people spending eternity in hell here!

Likewise, I don't think athiests really understand what the inevitibility of the nonexistence of EVERYTHING means. No only will you not remember your life, but eventually nobody will remember you. Eventualy, even the planet you once lived on will not exist. The puporse you may have attributed to yourself in this live will cease to have any meaning. Life is prescious, yes, but only while there are still minds that can attribute that worth to it.

Sigh, have to do some homework, will finish this thought later.

Chris


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aftershock567

aftershock567 wrote:

 

Likewise, I don't think athiests really understand what the inevitibility of the nonexistence of EVERYTHING means. No only will you not remember your life, but eventually nobody will remember you. Eventualy, even the planet you once lived on will not exist. The puporse you may have attributed to yourself in this live will cease to have any meaning. Life is prescious, yes, but only while there are still minds that can attribute that worth to it.

I certainly cannot speak for all atheists, but I myself am quite well aware of these things. Sure it is a bit gloomy, but reality is often bleak. I do not deny something just because it fails to provide me with a sense of comfort. I choose the cold harsh light of reality over an obscuring cloud of delusion.

 

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Save a tree, eat a vegetarian.

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aftershock567 wrote: Have

aftershock567 wrote:

Have you ever met someone that claimed to be a Christian but didn't really understand what true belief in Christianity entails?

I don't know even know what true belief in Christianity entails. Are to referring to being virtuous?

Quote:
If I were a hardcore Bible thumping Christian and I believed that everyone in the world will be tortured in hell if they don't accept Christ, I would lead a very different life. If all I had to worry about was the afterlife then I would have no job other than spreading the gospel of my religion. And how could any half decent person who truly believes these things do anything else? We are talking about billions of people spending eternity in hell here!

Ah, okay then, I've met very few Christians in my lifetime that understood what a true belief in Christianity entailed, such terrified individuals, terrified by their all-loving God.  

Quote:
Likewise, I don't think athiests really understand what the inevitibility of the nonexistence of EVERYTHING means.

Really?

Quote:
No only will you not remember your life, but eventually nobody will remember you. Eventualy, even the planet you once lived on will not exist. The puporse you may have attributed to yourself in this live will cease to have any meaning. Life is prescious, yes, but only while there are still minds that can attribute that worth to it.

My purpose in this life is to be happy and make some contributions to humanity. The first purpose has already been fulfilled. I'm working towards the second. 

For clarification, "I know not if this earth on which I stand is the core of the universe or if it is but a speck of dust lost in eternity. I know not and I care not. For I know what happiness is possible to me on earth. And my happiness needs no higher aim to vindicate it. My happiness is not the means to any end. It is the end. It is its own goal. It is its own purpose." Ayn Rand

 

 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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Welcome to the forums

Welcome to the forums Smiling

aftershock567 wrote:
Do atheists see a purpose in this life?


If a deity exists and determines our purpose for living, then we either live as slaves or rebel with freedom. I do not think the universe, or some entity that transcends it, has given us an ultimate purpose for existing. I think everyone has the right to decide on a purpose for themselves, to determine their own course in life, regardless of whether a deity exists.

aftershock567 wrote:
Do we have any athiests around that drift back to theism sometimes? If so, what makes you take another look at theism?


Throughout my life, I have held four positions concerning spirituality: Young Earth Creationism, Old Earth Creationism, Deism, and Agnostic Atheism. I drifted back and forth from Old Earth Creationism and Deism, but not between any others.

aftershock567 wrote:
Something that scares me to think about is what if we actually don't have souls, and when we die our consciousness fades like a candle. Doesn't that scare the hell out of anyone else? Its like a droid in Star Wars having a memory wipe!


People often characterize death as blackness, nothingness, the dying of the light, and so on. Have you noticed that people do not characterize the beginning of their life as whiteness, somethingness, the birth of the light, and so on? When we think about the past, we do not project ourselves into it. Our neural network, however, often causes us to project ourselves into a future in which we do not exist, which causes the idea of blackness to emerge, but that view contradicts itself. We cannot experience death, blackness, nothingness, and so on when we die—subjectively speaking, our own death always remains hearsay. Many people seem to not recognize the actual potency of the argument Epicurus made: when I am, death is not; when death is, I am not; why should I fear that which cannot exist when I do? I do not fear the prospect of death. I do feel a potential fright and disappointment about dying painfully or dying relatively early, but who doesn't?

aftershock567 wrote:
Do most atheists really swing Libertarian?


For each political philosophy, you can find atheists that accepts it. I have observed, however, that most atheists lean toward the left, in the form of libertarianism, progressive liberalism, classical liberalism, or a combination thereof.

aftershock567 wrote:
How do most atheists look at abortion? The way I see it, even looking at it from a religious point of view, is that it shouldn't be a big deal until a distinct EEG pattern, at about 24 to 27 weeks. (which is also about the same time that the fetus is viable outside of the womb). What are your thoughts?


For each position, you can find an atheist that accepts it. Most atheists I know take a pro-choice stance. My views accord with your own. I do not think the fetus has a right to life until a rudimentary consciousness emerges, which occurs roughly 24-27 weeks into the pregnancy. I think no one should prevent a woman from aborting the fetus before that time period if she does not want to carry it to term. After that, moral dilemmas arise. If the woman did not learn about the pregnancy until after that time, she should have a few weeks to decide whether to carry it to term or not. I think we should only legalize abortions after the 24-27 week period, for women who knew early on about the pregnancy, when someone raped the woman, the child resulted from inbreeding, or carrying it to term would cause serious medical problems for the mother.

aftershock567 wrote:
Our universe will eventually end in some way. No trace of us will be left. So why live and suffer? I am not saying that I suffer terrible things, but life for most people is hard. Why put up with it?


With the struggles and pains come satisfaction and pleasure. So long as I consider it possible to experience one more moment of satisfaction and pleasure, I shall choose to continue living.

aftershock567 wrote:
Wouldn't you hope for at least a lasting purpose?


The only purpose everlasting is the purpose unfulfilled. 

Stultior stulto fuisti, qui tabellis crederes!


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aftershock567 wrote:Have you

aftershock567 wrote:
Have you ever met someone that claimed to be a Christian but didn't really understand what true belief in Christianity entails?

I don't really know what true belief in Christianity entails, either, so I'd be a bad judge.

aftershock567 wrote:
Likewise, I don't think athiests really understand what the inevitibility of the nonexistence of EVERYTHING means.

Sure they do. It's only scary for the first little while, letting go of old ideas. Then you realize it's actually very liberating. Yes, it all will die.

aftershock567 wrote:
No only will you not remember your life, but eventually nobody will remember you.

True.

aftershock567 wrote:
Eventualy, even the planet you once lived on will not exist.

Yup.

aftershock567 wrote:
The puporse you may have attributed to yourself in this live will cease to have any meaning.

Yeah. That's fleeting anyway.

aftershock567 wrote:
Life is prescious, yes, but only while there are still minds that can attribute that worth to it.

Sure. Same holds true for gold or a flower. You may find this perspective that you're illustrating odd, but since we assign value, value wasn't here before we were, so when we're gone, it goes, too. Valuation is just a part of what we do, it's not something that comes from somewhere else.

So while there are still minds that can attribute worth (there are), life is precious. In the future, life may be gone. Yes.

I know, I know - it's like a space-walk. Trying to imagine getting along without the fatherly influence of an invisible deity. But it's very, very liberating. I don't think I can explain how unless you try it.

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Well I guess its been a

Well I guess its been a while since I have posted. Been putting God to the test lately, and he fails, and to fail one of my tests is pretty bad because you basically just have to write your name on the paper and be present. I actually don't think I will ever fully make it to the atheist arena, as there is still too much unexplained about where all this crap we call the universe comes from. Still, I am finding it obvious that God really doesn't give a shit. 

So let me get my atheism for life checklist out:

1: Be born.....Check!

2: Grow and mature while being fed religous bullshit.....Check!

3: Age and become bitter in the adult stage....Order pending

4: Get prostate cancer and die....Order still in dispatch

5: Nonexistence....Order still in dispatch

Ok then good, I am getting close to being halfway through with this shit!

 

Chris


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aftershock567 wrote:Well I

aftershock567 wrote:

Well I guess its been a while since I have posted. Been putting God to the test lately, and he fails,

I suppose he would.

Quote:
and to fail one of my tests is pretty bad because you basically just have to write your name on the paper and be present.

Literally.

Quote:
I actually don't think I will ever fully make it to the atheist arena, as there is still too much unexplained about where all this crap we call the universe comes from.

It's okay to acknowledge that you simply don't know. In fact, that's agnostic atheism (hint hint).

Quote:
Still, I am finding it obvious that God really doesn't give a shit. 

So let me get my atheism for life checklist out:

1: Be born.....Check!

2: Grow and mature while being fed religous bullshit.....Check!

3: Age and become bitter in the adult stage....Order pending

4: Get prostate cancer and die....Order still in dispatch

5: Nonexistence....Order still in dispatch

Oh, it's kind of depressing when you put it that way.

Quote:
Ok then good, I am getting close to being halfway through with this shit!

Chris

Congratulations?

 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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aftershock567 wrote:Well I

aftershock567 wrote:

Well I guess its been a while since I have posted. Been putting God to the test lately, and he fails, and to fail one of my tests is pretty bad because you basically just have to write your name on the paper and be present. I actually don't think I will ever fully make it to the atheist arena, as there is still too much unexplained about where all this crap we call the universe comes from. Still, I am finding it obvious that God really doesn't give a shit. 

So let me get my atheism for life checklist out:

1: Be born.....Check!

2: Grow and mature while being fed religous bullshit.....Check!

3: Age and become bitter in the adult stage....Order pending

4: Get prostate cancer and die....Order still in dispatch

5: Nonexistence....Order still in dispatch

Ok then good, I am getting close to being halfway through with this shit!

 

Chris

You sound a little overwhelmed and sad.  Are you ok with what you've been finding out with your tests?

"I am that I am." - Proof that the writers of the bible were beyond stoned.


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aftershock567

aftershock567 wrote:

 

Likewise, I don't think athiests really understand what the inevitibility of the nonexistence of EVERYTHING means. No only will you not remember your life, but eventually nobody will remember you. Eventualy, even the planet you once lived on will not exist. The puporse you may have attributed to yourself in this live will cease to have any meaning. Life is prescious, yes, but only while there are still minds that can attribute that worth to it.

That's just speculation though. There's nothing to say one way or the other. Maybe we'll exist a billion years from now, maybe not. Evidence of our existance will survive for billions of years. Who knows what life might stumble upon the relics, and what they'll learn? And that's just if we die, what if we continue?

Even if people forget who you were, your influence still exists. Frankly I wouldn't want to be remembered the way certain figures have been anyway. Having people put words in your mouth and say this or that about you a thousand years after your death. None of them having the slightest clue who you really were and what you'd really do. "Jesus would do this, Einstein would do that, Darwin said this", fuck all those arrogant morons. These types don't have the slightest idea what historical figures would do or say today. Obscurity is prefferable. People can't line you up for shots and use you for stupid agendas.

God is even worse. Infinate unchanging existance. Yeah...that sounds real fun...

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