Letter from Peony to RRS on myspace

Sapient
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Letter from Peony to RRS on myspace

ORIGINAL LETTER:

Quote:
Interesting. I was informed of your site from a friend who recieved a recent request from you. I too adore religious debate and am impressed by the apparent confidence you have in your abilities to back your points. Here are my questions...

1. As an Atheist, what are your beliefs? Do you completely deny the existence of anything beyond us and our natural evolution? Not just that which either current or ancient religions of the world perceive or have perceived as 'god' or 'gods' or 'the afterlife' in general...but any old thing at all.

2. Does your group offer invitation to those with points of view which may differ from your own, such as Pagans, Wiccans, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, etc. Hence creating an atmosphere for actual debate rather than a large group of individuals shouting "here, here"?

I ask not out of disrespect but because of previous encounters with religious/anti-religious groups who'd made no effort to acknowledge my questions. At this time, I'm hoping you'll respond even without knowledge of my own theoretical perspective on the subject at hand and hope you'll choose not to jump to any conclusions regarding it. Your time is genuinely appreciated.

~Peony

I'm in quite a rush, but your pleasant letter makes me inclined to give you a brief response. We might end up addressing your questions on a future show.

1. As an Atheist, what are your beliefs?

In reference to a god I'm lacking belief. In reference to other things in life I have plenty of beliefs. You'd have to be more specific. For example I believe my son should go to bed before 10pm on a school night, but I have a feeling that isn't what you were referring to.

Do you completely deny the existence of anything beyond us and our natural evolution?

I don't see any reason to believe in a being that is beyond us. One could argue that Jupiter is beyond us, so I'm not sure what you meant. Were you referring to a higher power? As for "natural evolution" I don't deny that at all.

Not just that which either current or ancient religions of the world perceive or have perceived as 'god' or 'gods' or 'the afterlife' in general...but any old thing at all.

You'd really have to be more specific. If you're referring to a creator of some sort, I disbelieve. I've seen no evidence for such a being and base my life on things I can prove.

2. Does your group offer invitation to those with points of view which may differ from your own, such as Pagans, Wiccans, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, etc.

Of course.

Hence creating an atmosphere for actual debate rather than a large group of individuals shouting "here, here"?

I'd prefer some civil debates. Our site is just getting started, however it's our hope that we will have plenty of theists to talk with as things get rolling.

I ask not out of disrespect but because of previous encounters with religious/anti-religious groups who'd made no effort to acknowledge my questions.

I'm sorry to hear you've had this experience. I've had plenty of negative experiences among Christian groups I went to debate.

At this time, I'm hoping you'll respond even without knowledge of my own theoretical perspective on the subject at hand and hope you'll choose not to jump to any conclusions regarding it. Your time is genuinely appreciated.

~Peony
I hope you don't mind, I've just decided to add a mailbag forum to the www.RationalResponders.com website, and this is the first email going in there. We'll have plenty more.

In Reason,

Sapient

- Brian Sapient


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Sapient
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Letter from Peony to RRS on myspace

PEONY RESPONDS, MY RESPONSE COMING IN A LITTLE WHILE

Thank you for your response. I'm in quite a rush, but your pleasant letter makes me inclined to give you a brief response. We might end up addressing your questions on a future show.

RE: Really, please take your time. The world should still be spinning when you get to it. Eye-wink

1. As an Atheist, what are your beliefs?

In reference to a god I'm lacking belief. In reference to other things in life I have plenty of beliefs. You'd have to be more specific. For example I believe my son should go to bed before 10pm on a school night, but I have a feeling that isn't what you were referring to.

RE: I wasn?t very specific in my questioning, no. It's sometimes difficult to word things as I'm limited by human language...specifically English. But you?re feeling is accurate and obviously your son might wake in a very groggy and irritable state without a sufficient amount of sleep.
In asking what your beliefs are as an Atheist, I?d meant on god, creation, the origins of mankind and the universe?that sort of thing. I understand that you don?t deny evolution but do you believe it holds true?

=================================================

Do you completely deny the existence of anything beyond us and our natural evolution?

I don't see any reason to believe in a being that is beyond us. One could argue that Jupiter is beyond us, so I'm not sure what you meant. Were you referring to a higher power? As for "natural evolution" I don't deny that at all.

RE: Let?s go with a ?higher power?. Even more specifically, how do you define the nature of whatever may have ?caused? the beginnings of all animation --the big bang, if you will? From what ?nothing? did ?something? happen or evolve and how? I don?t expect the answers to life and death and everything?just curious about your thoughts and opinions on the phenomenon of universal animation and the cause of its origins.
=================================================

Not just that which either current or ancient religions of the world perceive or have perceived as 'god' or 'gods' or 'the afterlife' in general...but any old thing at all.

You'd really have to be more specific. If you're referring to a creator of some sort, I disbelieve. I've seen no evidence for such a being and base my life on things I can prove.

RE: What, in relation to the basis of life, do you feel you are able to prove? Also do you feel you are able to disprove the existence of a ?creator? or ?creating force of some nature?? Do you specifically maintain your beliefs about the evolution or ?happening? of an apparently ?infinitely large? universe (which mankind is yet incapable of exploring to its possible limits) only on that which can proven by means of human conceived, finite, or earthbound resources and technologies. E.g. You disbelieve in an intelligent creator or creating force?can you prove your own disbelief to be accurate or an absolute truth using earthly scientific resources and technologies? If not, can you truly say you only believe in what you can prove to be fact if you can?t prove your actual disbelief to be fact? It may seem a silly question but I see it as sort of paradoxical...not meaning to be annoying by picking apart at every detail but that's usually what I do. My understanding is that you?re stating ?If it can?t be proven, it isn?t true.? Perhaps this makes it untrue for you but how can you convince others? I?m not saying I don?t know if Santa Claus exists because I?m unable to disprove his existence but we?re not discussing an old children?s fairytale. I personally believe the subject of the origins of the living universe and everything in it is the single most important subject I could imagine discussing.
=================================================

2. Does your group offer invitation to those with points of view which may differ from your own, such as Pagans, Wiccans, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, etc.

Of course.

Hence creating an atmosphere for actual debate rather than a large group of individuals shouting "here, here"?

I'd prefer some civil debates. Our site is just getting started, however it's our hope that we will have plenty of theists to talk with as things get rolling.

RE: I?d met with a group of Christian Apologetics years ago who?d stated that science has no evidence of macro-evolution (versus micro-evolution which is obvious) having ever occurred. In fact, they?d argued that an evolutionary mutation between two species is impossible. What are your thoughts on this?
Frankly, I don?t think it matters enough. I have to base my own believes on the ?biggest picture??the origins of all life in the most broad sense. We are miniscule, isolated, and limited beings dwelling in a fixed position within the vastness of the universe. What could possibly have begun with us? I too can?t delude myself and simply follow anything that can?t be proven to be absolute. If you will, my ?god? is absolute truth, absolute reality, ?what simply is?. I?m not Agnostic for the safety of it but for the sake of reality. I am incapable of claiming anything -right or wrong- without certainty. To many, I?ve come off as having a lack of opinion?my response to every question being ?I don?t know and can't claim to?. But fact is?I don?t and I can't.

I ask not out of disrespect but because of previous encounters with religious/anti-religious groups who'd made no effort to acknowledge my questions.

I'm sorry to hear you've had this experience. I've had plenty of negative experiences among Christian groups I went to debate.

RE: Unfortunately, I?ve encountered many individuals who don?t appreciate my questioning their beliefs (admittedly Christians and Muslims most frequently) and have taken it as a personal attack when I?d ask questions they couldn?t rightly answer without resorting to paraphrasing some old theist reasoning ? eg. ?The lord works in mysterious ways?. I personally welcome those who can offer a more sensible view of things than I currently hold. I hold strong, of course, but always say -- if you can change my mind by presenting some concept that makes far more sense than my own, please do.

At this time, I'm hoping you'll respond even without knowledge of my own theoretical perspective on the subject at hand and hope you'll choose not to jump to any conclusions regarding it. Your time is genuinely appreciated.

I hope you don't mind, I've just decided to add a mailbag forum to the www.RationalResponders.com website, and this is the first email going in there. We'll have plenty more.

RE: I look forward and I don?t mind at all in regard to the mailbag. Feel free. Look forward to checking out more on your site. Thanks for being here.

Respectfully,
~Peony

- Brian Sapient


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Sapient
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Letter from Peony to RRS on myspace

Quote:

In asking what your beliefs are as an Atheist, I?d meant on god, creation, the origins of mankind and the universe?that sort of thing. I understand that you don?t deny evolution but do you believe it holds true?

I do accept evolution as a fact. You can read a little here about why it is a fact. As an atheist I lack a belief in a god, I don't profess to know for sure that a general god doesn't exist, I only profess to not currently have a belief in one. I notice in your profile you claim to be agnostic. Do you recognize that agnostics are all atheist or theist? There is no such thing as an agnostic who is not an atheist or a theist. Read here for more.

Quote:
Let?s go with a ?higher power?. Even more specifically, how do you define the nature of whatever may have ?caused? the beginnings of all animation --the big bang, if you will? From what ?nothing? did ?something? happen or evolve and how? I don?t expect the answers to life and death and everything?just curious about your thoughts and opinions on the phenomenon of universal animation and the cause of its origins.

I don't see the need to insert a "higher power" in place of lack of knowledge. I think it's entirely possible the cosmos always existed. A current popular theory among the scientific community is that the big bang is merely an explosion of matter after a period of prolonged retraction. Currently the universe is expanding, it's proposed that one day it may start to contract to a small point again in which it will then explode. A never ending infinite timeline of expansion and contraction, if you will. I'm not sure if you realize but your presumption that something can't come from nothing, begs the question... Where did the creator come from? If it's plausible to believe it always existed, then why can't the universe have always existed?

Quote:
Not just that which either current or ancient religions of the world perceive or have perceived as 'god' or 'gods' or 'the afterlife' in general...but any old thing at all.

I see no reason to believe in a God that has zero proof, however I admit that it is possible that a general God could exist. One thing is for sure, the Gods we believe in today on this Earth, at least the ones I've studied, are all false.

Quote:
What, in relation to the basis of life, do you feel you are able to prove?

Are we speaking origins of life, evolution, or big bang? They're three seperate things. I can prove evolution as a fact, I can prove there is good evidence for abiogenesis, and that it's possible however I can't show it happen. I do believe that science will soon be able to show abiogenesis though... life coming from non-life. There are plenty of scientists working on this now.

Quote:
Also do you feel you are able to disprove the existence of a ?creator? or ?creating force of some nature??

No. I can prove many of the man made gods not possible. The contradictions in holy texts of Yahweh/Allah make it easy to show how those gods are not possible. I can't prove that no God exists. I haven't heard God defined in such a way that it was worth giving credence to, and in that sense... there is no God.

Quote:
Do you specifically maintain your beliefs about the evolution or ?happening? of an apparently ?infinitely large? universe (which mankind is yet incapable of exploring to its possible limits) only on that which can proven by means of human conceived, finite, or earthbound resources and technologies. E.g. You disbelieve in an intelligent creator or creating force?can you prove your own disbelief to be accurate or an absolute truth using earthly scientific resources and technologies?

There is nothing to prove as a disbeliever. I lack belief in what others claim they can prove, and can't. It's up to a believer to prove their extraordinary claims and until that point I won't believe it. My proof of disbelief is that they can't prove their belief.

Quote:
If not, can you truly say you only believe in what you can prove to be fact if you can?t prove your actual disbelief to be fact?

I only believe in what I can prove to be fact, yes I can say it honestly. I don't believe in disbelief in a god. I simply am without belief in what a theist has belief in.

Quote:
It may seem a silly question but I see it as sort of paradoxical...not meaning to be annoying by picking apart at every detail but that's usually what I do.

I look at your nitpicking as skepticism, and that is a noble quality.

Quote:
My understanding is that you?re stating ?If it can?t be proven, it isn?t true.?

That's close to what I'm saying, but not properly representative of my opinion. I believe that if it can't be proven, it is irrational to believe it, until it can. It may be true, but if it can't be proven scientifically I'm not prepared to believe it.

Quote:
Perhaps this makes it untrue for you but how can you convince others?

Through respectful and civil discourse. Every believer requires a different discussion.

Quote:
I?m not saying I don?t know if Santa Claus exists because I?m unable to disprove his existence but we?re not discussing an old children?s fairytale. I personally believe the subject of the origins of the living universe and everything in it is the single most important subject I could imagine discussing.

I agree. It is so important because religion and belief in god has caused so much violence, destruction, hate, and misguided decision making in our world.

Quote:
I?d met with a group of Christian Apologetics years ago who?d stated that science has no evidence of macro-evolution (versus micro-evolution which is obvious) having ever occurred. In fact, they?d argued that an evolutionary mutation between two species is impossible. What are your thoughts on this?

Where do I start? lol

1. They believe in a God with no evidence, so why question macro-evolution?
2. There is evidence for macro-evolution, tons and tons of it.
3. An apologist is guided by the bible, not by reality.

Quote:
Frankly, I don?t think it matters enough. I have to base my own believes on the ?biggest picture??the origins of all life in the most broad sense. We are miniscule, isolated, and limited beings dwelling in a fixed position within the vastness of the universe. What could possibly have begun with us? I too can?t delude myself and simply follow anything that can?t be proven to be absolute. If you will, my ?god? is absolute truth, absolute reality, ?what simply is?. I?m not Agnostic for the safety of it but for the sake of reality. I am incapable of claiming anything -right or wrong- without certainty. To many, I?ve come off as having a lack of opinion?my response to every question being ?I don?t know and can't claim to?. But fact is?I don?t and I can't.

It's here that it appears to me that you are an atheist, and might be having this discussion with me because you view an atheist as someone who professes to know for sure that no god exists. This is something that the Christians will tell you left and right, an atheist "knows no god exists" and an agnostic is in the middle. However the paper I linked you to at the top of this post should show you how, you are an atheist if you are without a positive belief in a god. Here's another paper on the issue, written by our own Rook Hawkins.

- Brian Sapient


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Sapient
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Peony wrote:
That's interesting...your point on the differences between Theism, Atheism, and Agnosticism as it pertains to how I've been defining my own "system of beliefs" if you can even call it a system of beliefs.

My understanding of Atheism has always been that it is defined as a certain belief that no god exists. And theism as a certain belief that a god does exist. And Agnosticism as an "I've no fucking idea what is going on because I'm just a lowly earthbound creature who is limited in knowledge" sort of belief (you'll have to excuse me, I've been drinking).

Anyway, thank you for the clarification. What do you know...I'm an Atheist! Praise God!! [j/k] Eye-wink

Honestly, I couldn't care less about what words we use to define our beliefs. What I care about is the beliefs themselves and what we claim to understand and hold true and why.

Thanks so much for your responses. You've likely taken part in the most significant conversation I've had since becoming a MySpacer. I am honored that you've posted our messages in your website's forum. Would you mind if I requested to join your group? I promise not to be drunk when making points (not frequently anyway).

Respectfully as always,
~Peony

- Brian Sapient


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Yellow_Number_Five
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Letter from Peony to RRS on myspace

Excellent conversation, well done, sapient.