Suppose it could be proven you were wrong--how would your life change?

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Suppose it could be proven you were wrong--how would your life change?

Theists:  Suppose that you were offered complete and total proof that your God (or gods) did not exist and that no other form of god existed either.  How would you change your life?

Atheists:  Suppose that you were offered complete and total proof that some god did exist.  How would you change your life?

 

I have asked this question of representatives of both communities in the past.  The answers never cease to amaze me.  Perhaps the answers here will help others as well.

 

Finally, please don't dodge the question by saying something like "no such proof is possible."  I'm OK with whatever the criteria you may have being completely impossible, highly ridiculous, and incredibly inconsistent.  I don't really care what the criteria would be and I'm not asking you to imagine what it would take for yourself.  I'm just saying that suppose a switch was flipped and you no longer questioned the existence of a god (you knew as strongly as you "know" now that the opposite of whatever you believe now was true).  The important part of the question is:  How would you change your life?


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BobSpence1 wrote:OK, Hi

BobSpence1 wrote:

OK, Hi ....

Sorry if I came across a bit pedanticly impersonal....

Not sure I can remember that Skype interaction at the moment, it may come back to me later now that you have prompted me.

I haven't seen a platypus in the wild either, only at fauna park south of here. I have seen a koala and a wombat in the wild, of our larger marsupials, apart from the ever-present wallabies and kangaroos.

 

I remember hunting possums as a kid with my dad.   I also remember chasing armadillos through the woods when I was young.   So we all have our continentally unique animals.

I just adore you Aussies, unique animals or no.  You're a great people in my opinion.   I can't really justify it with hard facts.

It's just personal opinion.

But you guys rock.

 

I think most Americans, if we witness Australia getting messed with we would think, "Don't mess with our brother's down under,"  And then we'd go down there and forcibly make them leave you alone.  What the hell is our military for if it's not protecting our friends?

 

"I am an atheist, thank God." -Oriana Fallaci


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I'm with cj. I couldn't

I'm with cj. I couldn't alter my ethics just because the biggest and baddest thing in existence is going to kick my ass otherwise. That's just basic terrorism. I got enough of it in my childhood that I'm liable to respond with violence.

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cj wrote:I have never been

cj wrote:

I have never been one to go along to get along.  It just isn't me.  And to me, it feels more irrational to kiss ass than to tell god/s/dess up yours.  I found this out taking an ethics class years ago.  One of the "ethical dilemmas" is do you have free will when someone is pointing a gun at your head, saying, "Jump off the Grand Canyon cliff other there or I will shoot you."  My response is sure, I have choices.  I can jump, stand still and get shot, or I can run, or I can attempt to take the gun away from the nut case, or ....  In short, I don't hold still for bullies.

And any god/s/dess who says, kiss my ass or fry for eternity is a bully.  I don't have to kiss ass, rational or not.  I don't have to be rational 100% of the time.  I am human and at least occasional irrationality comes with the package.  I have also been known to be self-contradictory and to have cheerfully admitted that I was, and to assert that I saw no reason to resolve the contradiction. 

Am I angry?  Perhaps.  Any rational person should be.  Take one omni-god/s/dess and look around at the mess that has been allowed to propagate on this world.  This is a plan?  This is intelligent?  As long as I am certain god/s/dess does not, can not exist, I don't have to waste my time and energy on anger.  But have him/her/it/them show up and I get to be angry.  Very angry. 

I can not conceive of hell and eleventy-bazillion years of torment.  But then, I can't conceive of playing a harp on fluffy clouds that long, either. 

 

I think really that this argument comes down to personal perception.   I'm currently 37.   I believed in the southern baptist faith hardcore until I was 25 and still believed in it nominally until I was 30.

 

Thirty was when I really admitted  that I could NOT keep coming up with the mental gymnastics to keep my faith.

So I'm used to the idea to me living forever in some shape or form.  Like life after death.   I'm conditioned for that thought.

I can see how people wiser than myself that figured out this stuff a long time before I did would be conditioned to think, no you die and then no one can mess with you.   And that's how they instinctually respond.

I respond like eternity is an option.   That's only because of my theist upbringing.  If you sit me down and start cussing at me for doing it I will have the good grace of at least blushing at this.

"I am an atheist, thank God." -Oriana Fallaci


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On a lesser note I'm taking

On a lesser note I'm taking my family to a county fair/rodeo for their first time next week.

Crap, I haven't been to a rodeo since I was a teenager.  So over twenty years ago.

I'm actually kinda excited about it.  Bull riders, calf roping, they release sheep out in the ring and let all the kids ride them.   Plus they literally grease a pig, unlease it into the ring, let the kids chase it, whoever catches it well you are the new proud owner of a pig.

Rodeo clowns, side games, random animals walking around like various species of monkies an zorses.

I haven't seen a Zorse in FOREVER.

Maybe they'll have a Liger.   That would be fantastic.   Please have Ligers.

"I am an atheist, thank God." -Oriana Fallaci


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Watcher wrote:I think really

Watcher wrote:


I think really that this argument comes down to personal perception.   I'm currently 37.   I believed in the southern baptist faith hardcore until I was 25 and still believed in it nominally until I was 30.

 

Thirty was when I really admitted  that I could NOT keep coming up with the mental gymnastics to keep my faith.

So I'm used to the idea to me living forever in some shape or form.  Like life after death.   I'm conditioned for that thought.

I can see how people wiser than myself that figured out this stuff a long time before I did would be conditioned to think, no you die and then no one can mess with you.   And that's how they instinctually respond.

I respond like eternity is an option.   That's only because of my theist upbringing.  If you sit me down and start cussing at me for doing it I will have the good grace of at least blushing at this.

 

My family is "I believe in god, but not in religion" for the most part.  So I was raised with options to attend or not attend since no one particularly cared one way or the other.  And when I was in jr. high, my very best friend was the preacher's kid.  His church was the Foursquare Gospel.

I remember thinking - and asking - at the time about heaven.  I thought then, and I haven't changed my mind, that singing praises and sitting on clouds for eternity sounded boring.  Hell sounded more interesting.  The immediate response of the adult I was questioning, was of course, heaven would be what you wanted it to be.  If you didn't want harps, you wouldn't have to play them.  Cool, I said, I want heaven to be a library.  The adult assured me that it would be for me.

Now, I believe since I can't remember what it was like not to be born, dieing should be not much different.  Please.  Let it be so.  And if it isn't, then send me to the library.

Long years ago, I read a short story similar to this.  A philosopher figured out how to call a demon and so he did.  When the demon showed up in the pentagram, he asked the philosopher what he wished for as his soul was already sold to the devil.  The philosopher was stumped - he hadn't thought of this.  So he asked the demon if he could postpone his wish for awhile.  Sure, says the demon and goes off to play a little poker.

Years later, the demon looks up from his card game and realizes the philosopher is about to die without expressing his wish.  The demon rushes to the philosopher's death bed and pleads for a wish.  Otherwise, the demon will get tortured for eternity in his place.  The philosopher thinks for awhile - and asks for the demon to take him to learn all there is to know about all universes and dimensions.  Exit, demon and philosopher, demon screaming, as they spend eternity learning all there is to know.

Now, that is a way to go.

 

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

"If death isn't sweet oblivion, I will be severely disappointed" - Ruth M.


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Vastet wrote:I'm with cj. I

Vastet wrote:
I'm with cj. I couldn't alter my ethics just because the biggest and baddest thing in existence is going to kick my ass otherwise. That's just basic terrorism. I got enough of it in my childhood that I'm liable to respond with violence.

I'm just going to let that sink in for a second...

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)


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No Theists?

 OK, one more shout out for theists to please respond to the thread and then I'll wrap it up.  It will be decidedly one-sided if no theists care to contribute...


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Assuming we have a fairly

Assuming we have a fairly "classical" god, I'd have a whole bunch of questions for this god thing.  How does it violate locality?  How does it think and where is it located?  Stuff like that.

Questions about morality would have to wait until I had some kind of understanding about how this thing functioned.  I'm going to take Arthur Weasley's advice here and refuse to trust something that thinks for itself if I can't see where it keeps its brain.  I'd have to understand this god enough to think it reliable before I started trusting it.

Questions for Theists:
http://silverskeptic.blogspot.com/2011/03/consistent-standards.html

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bfish wrote: OK, one more

bfish wrote:

 OK, one more shout out for theists to please respond to the thread and then I'll wrap it up.  It will be decidedly one-sided if no theists care to contribute...

What are your views on the matter and how do you feel that your life would change ?

Also, what are some of the responses that you have received in the past ?

I am curious.

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


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bfish wrote: OK, one more

bfish wrote:

 OK, one more shout out for theists to please respond to the thread and then I'll wrap it up.  It will be decidedly one-sided if no theists care to contribute...

Too bad. I think this is one of those questions they instinctively know they cannot answer honestly.

I too would love to hear about any other responses you've gotten. Would be neat to see.

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natural wrote:bfish

natural wrote:

bfish wrote:

 OK, one more shout out for theists to please respond to the thread and then I'll wrap it up.  It will be decidedly one-sided if no theists care to contribute...

Too bad. I think this is one of those questions they instinctively know they cannot answer honestly.

I too would love to hear about any other responses you've gotten. Would be neat to see.

Depending on how many Theists have actually seen the call, it does strongly suggest that we are the ones prepared to at least think about the problem of "what if I am wrong?".

Unsurprising, considering Atheism is mostly a consequence of being sceptical and/or scientific, and many have done the big change from Theism to Atheism, which involves the basic idea from the OP, of finding your beliefs are wrong.

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BobSpence1 wrote:natural

BobSpence1 wrote:

natural wrote:

bfish wrote:

 OK, one more shout out for theists to please respond to the thread and then I'll wrap it up.  It will be decidedly one-sided if no theists care to contribute...

Too bad. I think this is one of those questions they instinctively know they cannot answer honestly.

I too would love to hear about any other responses you've gotten. Would be neat to see.

Depending on how many Theists have actually seen the call, it does strongly suggest that we are the ones prepared to at least think about the problem of "what if I am wrong?".

Unsurprising, considering Atheism is mostly a consequence of being sceptical and/or scientific, and many have done the big change from Theism to Atheism, which involves the basic idea from the OP, of finding your beliefs are wrong.

In many arguments with theists, both on the streets and on the internet, I have sometimes concluded it, many times with :

If you can prove that I am wrong and you are right. If you can absolutely prove that to me. I will admit to being wrong and we will go from there.

IF, on the other hand, I can prove, beyond a shadow of all reasonable doubt. That I am RIGHT and you are wrong, what would you do ? They almost inevitably answer with : That is not going to happen. Or, I can not be proven wrong because god is real. Or, they evade the question altogether and try to throw at me a lot of double talk, circular arguments, and logical fallacies.

I remember the first time that I read George Orwell's 1984. (Orwell is one of my literary heros) I thought that while Orwell was writing about dictatorships and tyranny, he must have been thinking about religion when he came up with the expression of "doublethink".

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


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bfish wrote:Theists:

natural wrote:
 
bfish wrote:
  OK, one more shout out for theists to please respond to the thread and then I'll wrap it up.  It will be decidedly one-sided if no theists care to contribute... 
 Too bad. I think this is one of those questions they instinctively know they cannot answer honestly. I too would love to hear about any other responses you've gotten. Would be neat to see. 
I was debating some religious people myself and honesty is indeed such a rare thing to come by. So is logic, the ability to comprehend an argument and address it, to not avoid the major points and so on. One more thing, the ability to imagine themselves from the point of view of others or in other circumstances. These are most believers' mental limits and when we bump into them, the debate stops being fun and becomes pointless.
All right then, as a local honorary theist I will respond. It should do the job, changing our mind about anything we're emotionally attached to, should be pretty much the same.  

bfish wrote:

Theists:  Suppose that you were offered complete and total proof that your God (or gods) did not exist and that no other form of god existed either.  How would you change your life? 

I already had my beliefs proven false. (not the supernatural ones you probably mean) The truth we want to see the least is the one we need the most. And I can think of a few that I don't want to hear about yet. (again, personal stuff, not the supernatural) But there is such a feeling at the back of your mind, the world gives sense as much as it can, which is not much. But the feeling is still there, it is a blind spot, something about yourself you can't see no matter what, unless you try really hard and for a long time. And then suddenly the world is not all wrong, I am. So many problems because I was way too ignorant to work smoothly with the rest of society. I never had such a feeling when it comes to the supernatural, so this is really a back-breaking exercise of mind. But you're not interested in criteria.

I'd be flabberghasted for a week, month, or longer. It is a continuous state of utmost surprise, resignation and ashamed realizing how much wrong I am and how well off I could be, if I'd start to live in the truth earlier. And frustration that I can't make up the lag faster than by natural pace of things. 

But what then? One of my vices is obedience. It is comfortable to be organized and ordered around, to ask for advice and receive it, to obey and shift responsibility upwards. So I'd just obey this new reality. I'm a creature of routine, I can't smoothly adapt to a situation, I need so-called soulquakes, disturbing periods of re-orientation and embracing the newness so firmly, that I'll have to be shaken out of it by another soulquake. 

Getting my wits back together again, I'd continue in my humanistic studies and probably focus on management of people, masses, groups and individuals. I'd drop some subjects out of my study plans (like the ones by which I want to tap into the supernatural) and probably include some new ones.

Beings who deserve worship don't demand it. Beings who demand worship don't deserve it.


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Watcher wrote:cj

Watcher wrote:

cj wrote:

Sapient wrote:

 Let me just say this... if there is a God he/she has a lot of explaining to do if he/she wants to avoid me and a bunch of my intellectual friends getting violent on him/her.

There ya go.

You guys are crazy.  Holding a grudge or trying to get violent with an allpowerful entity is not going to have a happy ending for you.

Epic fail.

I say, let bygones be bygones.  Don't even bring that shit up.  Grab a buttcheek and start kissing.

I ain't burning for eternity over a principle.

"Yah suh!  Yah suh!   What can I do for ya suh?!?!?"

Courage will get you so far...then, in this case, it will get you in a world of eternal torment!

I would accept excuses such as "I am not all powerful" or "I was unaware that lots of people die of starvation every day" or other excuses of the sort.  Then I might understand.  But I currently lack the ability to kiss the ass of jerks and don't see how I will gain that ability when I die.  It's not courage it's character.  The way I see it... I'm used to the type of torture God doles out.  Maybe I'm not taking this hypothetical seriously, probably because it's extremely far-fetched.

 

 

 

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natural wrote:bfish

natural wrote:

bfish wrote:

 OK, one more shout out for theists to please respond to the thread and then I'll wrap it up.  It will be decidedly one-sided if no theists care to contribute...

Too bad. I think this is one of those questions they instinctively know they cannot answer honestly.

I too would love to hear about any other responses you've gotten. Would be neat to see.

All respect to you and Bob, but I think it's more than that. I think they instinctively understand that if they spend much time thinking "what if", they'll lose the key to keeping their faith, which is "don't ask questions the holy book doesn't answer". It's a bit more personal than trying to keep up in an argument.

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Feedback from both Atheists and Theists

 The most common response I receive to this question is that it simply wouldn't matter.  It might make a slight difference (as one atheist on this thread suggested, he would become a priest of Bacchus and basically carry on as before).  Another variation that comes only from atheists is the "spit in God's eye" response followed by carry on as before which also showed up on this thread.

 

I have to admit, I find this response generally shocking when I hear it from atheists.  I don't mean to say that I think they answered "wrong" as this question doesn't really have a right or wrong answer, but it always surprises me to hear that anyone would ignore or disdain an all-powerful being who could grant them some variation on eternal happiness (or at least potential godhead for themselves if you are considering an ancient pantheon).  I just think it is shocking that someone could decide that now beats the crap out of eternity.  I have a feeling that many people would behave differently if the choice were not just conceptual, but I accept that there are others (a much smaller number, I think) who know themselves well enough to know that having to change in the now would be just too much to take for a shot at eternity.  I think that small number of people is owed some grudging respect as they know themselves much better then I know myself.

 

From a theist, this is far less shocking to me.  I have never met a theist (eh, I have met one, see the P.S.) who claims that God is talking in his head or that an angel has made an appearance or some other form of very direct contact (of course, anyone who claims this type of contact would have to declare themselves insane if it were proven no god existed).  I know plenty of theists who feel that God guides them through prayer; who feel that prayer is not a time for requests, but a centering sort of thing where one puts aside one's own desires; and/or who feel that God acts through some sort of thing that looks "natural" to everyone else, but is really intended for their (or other's) benefit (earthquakes, spontaneous meetings, etc).  As a result, the proven lack of a God makes these things good practices and nice coincidences instead of acts of God and they move on.  The theists I have known who answer this way feel that they are "doing the right thing" and they are guided by their religion but, in general, they have chosen their religion because it aligns with their sense of right and wrong as much as anything else.  These theists seem to be content with doing "the right thing" whether it is God driven or just "the right thing."  Their belief that "the right thing" aligns with their God's view of "the right thing" is a happy association that makes things even better, but if God is removed from the equation, they still feel compelled to do "the right thing."  It is comforting and slightly disconcerting for me when I run into this type of theist because I figure these folks would either be the ones who would be doing things like the Crusades without a God (they'd just have a different overt motive) or would be comfortable chalking things like the Crusades up to misguided, over zealous religious types and would not have participated.  In general, I find I have the best discussions about religion with these people because questioning religion is not usually offensive, rather it is an opportunity to have a healthy, growing discussion from which we both could benefit.

 

Next installment...Other Theist responses I have received.  I'm going to wait a day or two to allow for reaction to this post (if any).

 

P.S.--I just remembered, I did meet a theist who described very direct contact with demons.  He was the religious consultant behind "The Exorcist" (it is worth noting that the movie and the events that "inspired" it were quite different).  I thought to start asking this question a year or two after I met him (he was my guidance counselor in high school) and never got a chance to ask him.  His answer would probably be very interesting--he is a very scholarly man who takes this kind of question quite seriously.  If I happen to see him again (although this is quite unlikely as he is quite old), I will definitely ask him.


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bfish wrote: The most

bfish wrote:

 The most common response I receive to this question is that it simply wouldn't matter.  It might make a slight difference (as one atheist on this thread suggested, he would become a priest of Bacchus and basically carry on as before).  Another variation that comes only from atheists is the "spit in God's eye" response followed by carry on as before which also showed up on this thread.

 

I have to admit, I find this response generally shocking when I hear it from atheists.  I don't mean to say that I think they answered "wrong" as this question doesn't really have a right or wrong answer, but it always surprises me to hear that anyone would ignore or disdain an all-powerful being who could grant them some variation on eternal happiness (or at least potential godhead for themselves if you are considering an ancient pantheon).  I just think it is shocking that someone could decide that now beats the crap out of eternity. 

I think you're misinterpreting these responses. If you read the responses in this thread along that vein, it is not about "now beats the crap out of eternity", it is that "an all-powerful god who suddenly makes himself known has A LOT of explaining to do for all the terrible suffering that has been going on for thousands and millions of years on Earth. If that god didn't have a damn good explanation for all that, then it would be an immoral evil god not worth worshipping. " Your response doesn't seem to take that perspective into account.

Quote:
From a theist, this is far less shocking to me.  ... and/or who feel that God acts through some sort of thing that looks "natural" to everyone else, but is really intended for their (or other's) benefit (earthquakes, spontaneous meetings, etc).  As a result, the proven lack of a God makes these things good practices and nice coincidences instead of acts of God and they move on. 

Really? Such theists are very rare in my experience. Do you have any examples of these responses we could see? I would be very interested to learn about this.

Quote:
The theists I have known who answer this way feel that they are "doing the right thing" and they are guided by their religion but, in general, they have chosen their religion because it aligns with their sense of right and wrong as much as anything else.  These theists seem to be content with doing "the right thing" whether it is God driven or just "the right thing."  Their belief that "the right thing" aligns with their God's view of "the right thing" is a happy association that makes things even better, but if God is removed from the equation, they still feel compelled to do "the right thing." 

Wow. I would really like to see some examples of this kind of theist. I have not run across many that seem that way to me.

 

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A being responsible for the

A being responsible for the world as we see it, who actually had done all the abominable acts in OT, would be an evil being, by any measure that makes sense to me.

I could not take the word of such a being that I was going to have a wonderful eternal life if I signed his contract.

He could not prove what his intentions 'really' were with regard to future actions, so it is a meaningless proposal to ask what I would do if the intentions or promises of such being were proven to be true, not just his existence.

At most, the existence of an immensely powerful being is all that could be 'proved'. No omni- or otherwise infinite qualities could be 'proved', or even demonstrated.

If it could be 'proved' that all of the things that contribute to the 'problem of evil' didn't happen or are in fact 'good', then all you have done is prove that reality is totally incomprehensible, 'good' and 'evil' are truly arbitrary labels, and that nothing can be taken as certain, which includes any apparent 'proof' of this being's very existence., at least in the apparent form he chooses to present to us...

 

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bfish wrote: The most

bfish wrote:

 The most common response I receive to this question is that it simply wouldn't matter.  It might make a slight difference (as one atheist on this thread suggested, he would become a priest of Bacchus and basically carry on as before).  Another variation that comes only from atheists is the "spit in God's eye" response followed by carry on as before which also showed up on this thread.

How's that? The loss of religion can be a great change in one's life. Not going to the church, sleeping on sunday mornings, getting thrown out of the parents' house... (maybe that's why they'll carry on)

Or maybe people just don't wear their religion/atheism on their sleeve. America is very puritan, there is this doctrine that spirit and matter are totally separated and pretty much nothing can be done about it. Scientific materialism basically confirms it. Christians are likely to live their material and spiritual lives rather separately, with exceptions of the Church sermons and general public religiosity, which is largely ceremonial. They're not these New Age folks who believe in bringing spirituality into their daily life. 

bfish wrote:
 From a theist, this is far less shocking to me.  I have never met a theist (eh, I have met one, see the P.S.) who claims that God is talking in his head or that an angel has made an appearance or some other form of very direct contact (of course, anyone who claims this type of contact would have to declare themselves insane if it were proven no god existed).
I don't know how about you, but when I'm in a company of various normal people, like classmates, or on the forum, they can tell some rather wild stories. Not just ghosts or prophetic dreams, but also telekinesis, voice in their head (do not confuse with mediumship) and many other phenomena. The funny thing is, I can totally relate to them, because I've had my share of phenomena, maybe too much for my own good. The point is, stuff happens. People sometimes see, hear and touch things that defy the current scientific worldview. And they still remain sane and sober. There is not even a medical definition of sanity, only legal. And it has nothing to do with your senses, it's more about your reasoning capabilities and objective consensus. 

The true mystery is, why these phenomena usually avoid skeptics. Maybe ghosts have their dignity too. Can you imagine how offensive it is to deliberately ignore someone's presence? Smiling

bfish wrote:
 P.S.--I just remembered, I did meet a theist who described very direct contact with demons.  He was the religious consultant behind "The Exorcist" (it is worth noting that the movie and the events that "inspired" it were quite different).  I thought to start asking this question a year or two after I met him (he was my guidance counselor in high school) and never got a chance to ask him.  His answer would probably be very interesting--he is a very scholarly man who takes this kind of question quite seriously.  If I happen to see him again (although this is quite unlikely as he is quite old), I will definitely ask him. 
Please, do so, that would be fascinating. 
I wonder how much would be his description influenced by Christian mythology and popular imagery. (you know, horned fiery demons) But I believe that must have been a terrible experience. What would you choose in presence of "demons"? To see them and know how far they are from you at any time, or to not see them and be able to sleep?

 

Beings who deserve worship don't demand it. Beings who demand worship don't deserve it.


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All-powerful being has 'splaining to do

natural wrote:

bfish wrote:

 The most common response I receive to this question is that it simply wouldn't matter.  It might make a slight difference (as one atheist on this thread suggested, he would become a priest of Bacchus and basically carry on as before).  Another variation that comes only from atheists is the "spit in God's eye" response followed by carry on as before which also showed up on this thread.

 

I have to admit, I find this response generally shocking when I hear it from atheists.  I don't mean to say that I think they answered "wrong" as this question doesn't really have a right or wrong answer, but it always surprises me to hear that anyone would ignore or disdain an all-powerful being who could grant them some variation on eternal happiness (or at least potential godhead for themselves if you are considering an ancient pantheon).  I just think it is shocking that someone could decide that now beats the crap out of eternity. 

I think you're misinterpreting these responses. If you read the responses in this thread along that vein, it is not about "now beats the crap out of eternity", it is that "an all-powerful god who suddenly makes himself known has A LOT of explaining to do for all the terrible suffering that has been going on for thousands and millions of years on Earth. If that god didn't have a damn good explanation for all that, then it would be an immoral evil god not worth worshipping. " Your response doesn't seem to take that perspective into account.

I guess, in a sense, you are right--maybe I'm not taking all the perspectives into account.  An all-powerful god suddenly makes himself known to you and he has "A LOT of explaining to do" or what?  You won't worship him?  OK, cool, I get that, you wouldn't want to worship someone who did all this stuff or maybe even someone who just let it happen.  That is cool.  

However, I just don't see anyone muscling up on an all-powerful god, grabbing him by the collar, shaking him, and roaring, "Explain yourself!"  To my way of thinking doing that is a suicide mission, ESPECIALLY if that god is responsible for all the crap that needs to be explained.  My point is that when push comes to shove, if such a thing happens, I figure the number of people who have a heart attack from the sheer unbelievability of his arrival before they go grabbing for his collar are much higher.  I'm figuring that while lots of people would like to think they'd go over and hold an all-powerful god to account wouldn't actually do it when confronted with that god.  And, if you would, well, my friend, you have my respect.  Heck, I know a lot of people who wouldn't do that to a cop when a cop is doing something outright wrong and a cop is a lot less of an authority figure then an all-powerful god.

Regardless of the perspective, doesn't it seem to require a lot of hubris to think that any one individual has a right to walk up to an all-powerful god and hold him to account?  I don't have the brass ones for that, so I'm shocked whenever an atheist clanks over and tells me he'd spit in God's eye.  I don't think my shock is out of line.  On the bright side, I get over the shock Smiling.


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"Right Thing" Theists

natural wrote:

bfish wrote:

From a theist, this is far less shocking to me.  ... and/or who feel that God acts through some sort of thing that looks "natural" to everyone else, but is really intended for their (or other's) benefit (earthquakes, spontaneous meetings, etc).  As a result, the proven lack of a God makes these things good practices and nice coincidences instead of acts of God and they move on. 

Really? Such theists are very rare in my experience. Do you have any examples of these responses we could see? I would be very interested to learn about this.

Quote:
The theists I have known who answer this way feel that they are "doing the right thing" and they are guided by their religion but, in general, they have chosen their religion because it aligns with their sense of right and wrong as much as anything else.  These theists seem to be content with doing "the right thing" whether it is God driven or just "the right thing."  Their belief that "the right thing" aligns with their God's view of "the right thing" is a happy association that makes things even better, but if God is removed from the equation, they still feel compelled to do "the right thing." 

Wow. I would really like to see some examples of this kind of theist. I have not run across many that seem that way to me.

 

 

I haven't asked this question on-line before--I haven't found the right forum in the past.  I've asked individuals, maybe as many as 40.  I haven't really kept count.  As a result I don't have an email chain I can forward (it wouldn't really be fair to do that either, I guess).  I hope you do meet more theists who provide this point of view because I find some of them are really worth my time in discussion.  I guess it is kind of like getting past the recruiter and talking to the HR guy at a company.  As for an example, I think Socrates was a pretty good example of that kind of theist (Phaedrus, sections 252-253 stood out when I did a quick look--beware theists of the Christian God, however, as you will not take a liking to the discussion found there).


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Phenomena and skeptics

Luminon wrote:

bfish wrote:

quote=bfish] From a theist, this is far less shocking to me.  I have never met a theist (eh, I have met one, see the P.S.) who claims that God is talking in his head or that an angel has made an appearance or some other form of very direct contact (of course, anyone who claims this type of contact would have to declare themselves insane if it were proven no god existed).

I don't know how about you, but when I'm in a company of various normal people, like classmates, or on the forum, they can tell some rather wild stories. Not just ghosts or prophetic dreams, but also telekinesis, voice in their head (do not confuse with mediumship) and many other phenomena. The funny thing is, I can totally relate to them, because I've had my share of phenomena, maybe too much for my own good. The point is, stuff happens. People sometimes see, hear and touch things that defy the current scientific worldview. And they still remain sane and sober. There is not even a medical definition of sanity, only legal. And it has nothing to do with your senses, it's more about your reasoning capabilities and objective consensus. 

The true mystery is, why these phenomena usually avoid skeptics. Maybe ghosts have their dignity too. Can you imagine how offensive it is to deliberately ignore someone's presence? Smiling

<sigh>.  The fact that people tell rather outrageous stories when sitting around a dorm is no great surprise.  It is interesting that you have been exposed to such phenomena, but odd to me that it made so little impression on you that you would find them consistent with a world without a God.  Imagine, for a moment, that you were afflicted with stigmata and then you discovered that there was no God.  Wouldn't that be incredibly troubling?  Man, that would be on the very top of my list.  If the Arch-Angel Gabriel appeared to me and then I knew for sure there was no God, then I'd be incredibly freaked out and the first thing I'd do is check my own sanity.  I say this with complete confidence because I think I'd want to check out my own sanity regardless if something like an Angel showed up in my bedroom.

Any skeptic worth his salt will tell you that the reason these phenomena don't appear among skeptics is because, if they believe the phenomena, then they are no longer skeptics.  Right?  That is a pretty self-satisfying definition from where I sit.  So, my guess is that things that look like "phenomena" to some look like explainable reality to others.

Luminon wrote:

bfish wrote:
 P.S.--I just remembered, I did meet a theist who described very direct contact with demons.  He was the religious consultant behind "The Exorcist" (it is worth noting that the movie and the events that "inspired" it were quite different).  I thought to start asking this question a year or two after I met him (he was my guidance counselor in high school) and never got a chance to ask him.  His answer would probably be very interesting--he is a very scholarly man who takes this kind of question quite seriously.  If I happen to see him again (although this is quite unlikely as he is quite old), I will definitely ask him. 
Please, do so, that would be fascinating. 

I wonder how much would be his description influenced by Christian mythology and popular imagery. (you know, horned fiery demons) But I believe that must have been a terrible experience. What would you choose in presence of "demons"? To see them and know how far they are from you at any time, or to not see them and be able to sleep?

You can go read his book (Fr. John J. Nicola) and check out what he believes (I have not read it, I get enough nightmares about other stuff), but what he told me about demons was chilling.  He believes 100% no ifs, ands, or buts.  It was kind of scary to talk to him about this stuff, because he was a guy who had a really commanding presence (not in a military sense, just a personal sense--he was the embodiment of getting someone's attention by whispering).  I met him just after I'd read the Amityville Horror (he wrote a preface for it, which should be a black mark on his reliability at this point as far as I understand it).  I didn't realize he was involved in this stuff until one day he came into the classroom and played a cassette tape from a session with someone whom he felt was possessed.  Geez.  It was Latin backwards, he made the whole class figure out what was being said by copying the tape to reel-to-reel, then running it backwards.  He seemed like the most honest guy in the world I've ever met, but even if it was faked, why play it for a group of kids?  Whatever the reason, it still gives me chills when I think back to it.  If the kid on that tape was just nuts, then he was waaaay scary nuts.


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bfish wrote: I guess, in a

bfish wrote:

I guess, in a sense, you are right--maybe I'm not taking all the perspectives into account.  An all-powerful god suddenly makes himself known to you and he has "A LOT of explaining to do" or what?  You won't worship him?  OK, cool, I get that, you wouldn't want to worship someone who did all this stuff or maybe even someone who just let it happen.  That is cool.  

However, I just don't see anyone muscling up on an all-powerful god, grabbing him by the collar, shaking him, and roaring, "Explain yourself!"  To my way of thinking doing that is a suicide mission, ESPECIALLY if that god is responsible for all the crap that needs to be explained.  My point is that when push comes to shove, if such a thing happens, I figure the number of people who have a heart attack from the sheer unbelievability of his arrival before they go grabbing for his collar are much higher.  I'm figuring that while lots of people would like to think they'd go over and hold an all-powerful god to account wouldn't actually do it when confronted with that god.  And, if you would, well, my friend, you have my respect.  Heck, I know a lot of people who wouldn't do that to a cop when a cop is doing something outright wrong and a cop is a lot less of an authority figure then an all-powerful god.

Regardless of the perspective, doesn't it seem to require a lot of hubris to think that any one individual has a right to walk up to an all-powerful god and hold him to account?  I don't have the brass ones for that, so I'm shocked whenever an atheist clanks over and tells me he'd spit in God's eye.  I don't think my shock is out of line.  On the bright side, I get over the shock Smiling.

 

I don't see myself muscling up some all powerful being.  I also don't see myself giving said being any respect - let alone worship.  S/he/it/they want my respect, they have to earn it.  And worship out of fear?  That isn't respect. 

A loving parent does not beat their children - I'm not saying said parent doesn't discipline their children, but abuse is abuse and no one deserves to be abused.  So this all powerful being with a history of abusing the people christians call "his children" is no parent I want to be around.

My most unloving example is a 5 year old girl sold by her mother to a man who raped then strangled the baby.  (Search the news from North Carolina around November 2008, if I remember correctly.)  This is a loving all powerful being?  An all powerful being who allows little girls to be tortured (an adult man raping a 5 year old girl is torture) is deserving of my respect?  I don't think so.  And I can not think of a single solitary reason for allowing this sort of atrocity to happen.  Some wondrous marvelous plan I know not wot?  What I know is said all powerful being must be sick, sick, sick.  Or insane.  Or a malignant thug.  Pick one or all.

I may not muscle him/her/it/them up, I may not spit on their shoes, but turning my back and walking away is highly probable. 

Is this suicidal?  Yeah, so?  Why would I want to live in a world or spend eternity with that kind of a god?  At least Satan is an honest being - telling fewer lies than the so-called god does.

And think of this - if I did suck up to this all powerful being, then I would have to spend eternity with boot lickers like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Billy Graham, Kent Hovind, Oral Roberts, Jim Bakker,  and all those other creeps.  Ewww......send me to hell for some good company.

 

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

"If death isn't sweet oblivion, I will be severely disappointed" - Ruth M.


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I'd be with you, cj. 

I'd be with you, cj.

 

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

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That is what an atheist is

cj wrote:

I don't see myself muscling up some all powerful being.  I also don't see myself giving said being any respect - let alone worship.  S/he/it/they want my respect, they have to earn it.  And worship out of fear?  That isn't respect. 

 

That makes perfect sense to me.  I was waiting to post the atheist responses I've heard (this board about covers it), but, the most common is that if a god was known to exist and THIS was his chosen creation, then that god is a being I couldn't worship.  In further discussion along this line (which isn't terribly productive) I've noticed a profound sadness.  The two people who talked to me about it in more detail were happier people when they could believe that no god existed (that the horrible things like the abuse you mentioned were neither "allowed" nor "planned" ) and that continued life became a much sadder experience when an all-powerful god (who could prevent such things) was present.

cj wrote:

And think of this - if I did suck up to this all powerful being, then I would have to spend eternity with boot lickers like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Billy Graham, Kent Hovind, Oral Roberts, Jim Bakker,  and all those other creeps.  Ewww......send me to hell for some good company.

That too makes sense to me.  If spending time with those leaders of the religion makes your stomach turn, then it seems likely the people who would join a god in eternity would be people who would make your stomach turn as well--just more of them.  "Send me to hell for some good company" seems like an overreaction (eternal torture has to be worse then hanging out with those folks, or that would be the torture of choice, I'm guessing), but a comfortable response given that you don't really buy hell as a possibility either (you seem like a very consistent person).

IMO, the strongest argument for atheism is that it seems exceedingly unlikely that someone would plan the horror (concentration camps, rape, water boarding) humans experience.  It seems like the character of someone who would plan all of that is, by any measure, in line with evil as defined in any culture.  The apologist response, that we can't understand the will of God, seems like stating the obvious, but doesn't remove the need to spend some time trying to understand it anyway.  Any step taken to understand, however, seems to put one down the same path.

cj wrote:

 (Search the news from North Carolina around November 2008, if I remember correctly.)

The mother was indicted for murder as well in July of this year--she apparently used her daughter to pay a drug debt.


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For the apologist who says

For the apologist who says that we can't understand why an all powerful, loving god allows all this evil, but it is for our ultimate good, I say two words - stockholm syndrome.

I would rather be in hell with CJ and Bob ... and ... Mark Twain and John Lennon and apparently nearly everyone except a lunatic "remnant" ... It will be cooler than hell Smiling

Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

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bfish wrote:That too makes

bfish wrote:

That too makes sense to me.  If spending time with those leaders of the religion makes your stomach turn, then it seems likely the people who would join a god in eternity would be people who would make your stomach turn as well--just more of them.  "Send me to hell for some good company" seems like an overreaction (eternal torture has to be worse then hanging out with those folks, or that would be the torture of choice, I'm guessing), but a comfortable response given that you don't really buy hell as a possibility either (you seem like a very consistent person).

 

It sounds like torture to me having to spend time with all the goody-two-shoes.  (Which, by the way, is a children's story from my Grandmother's time about a truly too sweet to be true brat.)

And thanks for the compliment - I try to be consistent.  It is something everyone has to constantly work at being.  Too bad many people don't realize or care.

 

bfish wrote:

cj wrote:

 (Search the news from North Carolina around November 2008, if I remember correctly.)

The mother was indicted for murder as well in July of this year--she apparently used her daughter to pay a drug debt.

 

Yeah, I thought it had to be something like that.  The picture I saw of the little girl - you would have to be some sort of f^cked up to harm any child.

 

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

"If death isn't sweet oblivion, I will be severely disappointed" - Ruth M.


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bfish wrote:<sigh>.  The

bfish wrote:

<sigh>.  The fact that people tell rather outrageous stories when sitting around a dorm is no great surprise.  It is interesting that you have been exposed to such phenomena, but odd to me that it made so little impression on you that you would find them consistent with a world without a God.  Imagine, for a moment, that you were afflicted with stigmata and then you discovered that there was no God.  Wouldn't that be incredibly troubling?  Man, that would be on the very top of my list.  If the Arch-Angel Gabriel appeared to me and then I knew for sure there was no God, then I'd be incredibly freaked out and the first thing I'd do is check my own sanity.  I say this with complete confidence because I think I'd want to check out my own sanity regardless if something like an Angel showed up in my bedroom.

Well, it would not be that much troubling. I have theories about the world that can explain such things with relatively few basic concepts. 
In fact, I have had such a being appear to me once, (if I don't count latter different incidents) I even touched its hand... But even if it would be Jesus himself, (who according to certain authority it was him) in my worldview it is not a problem, only confirmation of some of these principles. My worldview is logical and internally consistent, unlike religious dogma. The only problem is, that I depend on personal abilities to test it. There are some technical devices already, but I don't have access to them, they just confirm the basic ideas anyway.

Yes, I was freaked out later on other ocassions, but not because of God. It is enough a reason to freak out, if there are less than corporeal people, who come and go according to entirely different laws than solid walls and locked doors. And we have almost no way to tell who of them is benevolent, who isn't and who is benevolent only to get your trust and then misuse it. But fortunately, there are laws and if such encounters are anything, then they are rare exceptions from these laws. 

As for the religious God, somewhere in childhood I just realized that the world just doesn't work like that. The least we can do is to keep internally consistent. There is a lot more to do, like proving the thing objectively, but if something isn't internally consistent, then we can just ignore it. The doctrine of heaven and hell is just nonsense. The world is full of action and equal opposite reaction (minus loses) and infinite rewards or punishments are as real as perpetuum mobile. Similarly, God as a personality is nonsense. A personality is what happens when you take an animal and put a few million years of evolution on top of it. 
If there is any divine being, I can understand it better in terms of so-called extraordinary materialism. I have a great faith in the natural world, or consistency and ellegance of its laws. Inconsistent and illogical claims just strike me wrong. 
There are things that can scare me (irrationally?), they just need to keep some standard, something that is theoretically possible in my worldview. Finding any tangible evidence for it in my vicinity would give me chills. In such cases I try to reach into the reserves of skeptical block-mindedness.

bfish wrote:
 Any skeptic worth his salt will tell you that the reason these phenomena don't appear among skeptics is because, if they believe the phenomena, then they are no longer skeptics.  Right?  That is a pretty self-satisfying definition from where I sit.  So, my guess is that things that look like "phenomena" to some look like explainable reality to others.
I once believed many things, but I can tell a belief from a hands-on experience. If people say something is a hands-on experience, it is worthy of statistical comparison and pointing out the common traits. I can bring up some interesting evidence that way. I just don't like when people hide behind the vague definition of "hits and misses". We don't need a positive ratio of hits vs. misses (whatever the misses are) to start gathering data about the positive events and start analyzing them. The results may be still pretty impressive. Check out Ian Stevenson's website, he did a solid research on thousands cases of reincarnation claims. The books are really systematic, divided on cases in India, Europe, children, correlation of biologic markings and twenty exemplary cases. 

bfish wrote:
 You can go read his book (Fr. John J. Nicola) and check out what he believes (I have not read it, I get enough nightmares about other stuff), but what he told me about demons was chilling.  He believes 100% no ifs, ands, or buts.  It was kind of scary to talk to him about this stuff, because he was a guy who had a really commanding presence (not in a military sense, just a personal sense--he was the embodiment of getting someone's attention by whispering).  I met him just after I'd read the Amityville Horror (he wrote a preface for it, which should be a black mark on his reliability at this point as far as I understand it).  I didn't realize he was involved in this stuff until one day he came into the classroom and played a cassette tape from a session with someone whom he felt was possessed.  Geez.  It was Latin backwards, he made the whole class figure out what was being said by copying the tape to reel-to-reel, then running it backwards.  He seemed like the most honest guy in the world I've ever met, but even if it was faked, why play it for a group of kids?  Whatever the reason, it still gives me chills when I think back to it.  If the kid on that tape was just nuts, then he was waaaay scary nuts. 

I have been in some scary shit myself, but nowhere near that bad. One series of incidents scared me retrospectively, because of its sneakiness and purposeful, deceptive malevolence, misuse of my trust, stupidity and wishes. 

Other than that, for a year I had a roommate who was an epileptic. Man, I had my clairvoyant friend say serious things about this guy, that he's a channel for evil miasma so low and putrid, that there is nothing sentient about it. I always felt restless, yet tired and passive after being in presence of his seizures, the clairvoyant said she had a tough work cleaning me out of it all. I had to learn some different thinking and techniques on how to deal with this stuff. 

Things like that made me appreciate the solid and safe reality of our daily life. When I think about it now, I probably shouldn't read the book either. My worldview makes me insensitive against religious claims, (also against a part of sci-fi and fantasy literature, unfortunately) but if something there will correlate with my experiences, then I'll have a hard time getting asleep.

Beings who deserve worship don't demand it. Beings who demand worship don't deserve it.


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p { margin-bottom: 0.08in; }

p { margin-bottom: 0.08in; }

Well, since I have not had an initial post yet, I will go for the original question before jumping in to other discussions.

 

I see a problem with the question being too vague. God could be, and through history has been, a great many things.

 

The old Hebrew God is not the same as the modern Christian god. But neither are the same as roughly a hundred intermediates. The teachings have changed over time to track cultures.

 

Does the question turn on heaven or hell? Well, with all the Christian fan fiction going around for four centuries and pieces being taken from one manuscript and added to another because it sounded good, we have no clue what the original documents said.

 

Did Jesus even talk bout hell? The oldest good copies seem to talk about throwing the bodies of “law breakers” into the garbage pit outside whatever city.

 

Just for fun though, let me assume a general form of modern Christianity.

 

Let's say that God comes back and mass contacts the world. He tells us that there were much larger problems in another universe that took centuries to sort out, we are still going to have to establish a few things.

 

If your word is infalliable and the bible is fucked, then just what are your expectations?

 

Is your word infalliable or are you limited on that or any other important thing which we need to know about?

 

If you are all powerful, can you state the words “I am a liar”?

 

There are too many relevant questions to cover in a short post. Still, there is going to be one huge problem. It is in God's self interest somehow to gain followers. If we can't know God to be truthful, then how do we know that he is not really the other guy tricking us into wasting out lives and resources on things that the real god would not want us to do, only to eventually cart us off to hell and laugh at us for the lives wasted before the torture begins?

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Sorry, I thought you were a theist

Luminon wrote:

As for the religious God, somewhere in childhood I just realized that the world just doesn't work like that.

Please excuse me for misunderstanding.  Your icon says that you are a theist (not atheist), but you say there is no "religious God."  That does not seem internally consistent.  What am I missing?


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Because he is into astrology

Because he is into astrology and other related stuff.  He thinks some British dude named Ben is going to save the world.  That still counts as far as I can see.

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Never ever did I say enything about free, I said "free."

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cj wrote:
Way to get side tracked.....

So, I haven't seen one at a fauna park (zoo? zoological gardens?).  I've been to a couple of large zoos on the west coast, no platypi - platypuses - whosis - or even monotremes.  Now I have to go look it up.  Where is the nearest - or any - platypus exhibit in North America?


 

There aren't any. It has been tried a few times but they just don't do well in captivity outside of OZ. Apparently, the resources to set up the right enclosure and provide food that they will eat is really difficult to set up without local resources. Also, they can't handle disease very well away from home.


 

The estimated life span is about 5 years in the wild and 15 in captivity if the environment can be managed. Their needs are so specific that they tend to last about 2 years in NA or Europe.


 

When I was googling on the matter, I did stumble into one real hoot on the Straight Dope forums. One of the senior members made a dead straight post that they hunt by swimming clockwise around their prey. Apparently, in the northern hemisphere, they would have to swim counterclockwise and they just cant do that.


 

A few of the TSD crowd bought it before the joke was revealed.

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Never ever did I say enything about free, I said "free."

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bfish wrote:Luminon wrote:As

bfish wrote:

Luminon wrote:

As for the religious God, somewhere in childhood I just realized that the world just doesn't work like that.

Please excuse me for misunderstanding.  Your icon says that you are a theist (not atheist), but you say there is no "religious God."  That does not seem internally consistent.  What am I missing?

The theist badge is just to simplify things. I'm the spiritual but not religious cathegory. If you want a definition, then let's say I'm into some modern offshoots of Theosophy plus supportive science. Not really from the New Age movement and Deepak Chopra crowd.

Answers in Gene Simmons wrote:
 Because he is into astrology and other related stuff.  He thinks some British dude named Ben is going to save the world.  That still counts as far as I can see. 
Yes, astrology and so on is almost a family business. And this British dude won't save the world, he just says which ideas and actions will save the world, if we do them. It has a lot to do with resource-based economy, disarmament, politics, activism, and so on, but also spirituality, education, ecology and much more. 

Beings who deserve worship don't demand it. Beings who demand worship don't deserve it.


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Well, I would have to say

Well, I would have to say that the first question I would have is which god was proven to exist. After that...I honestly don't know. If the god of the bible exists then I can't say with any kind of certainty that I would change to follow, morally speaking the bible is still horrific so I couldn't follow it in good conscience. If it was a different being I would study it and its teachings, try to figure out the best path, etc. The basic problem in this is that I'd have to know more about this new deity, to be honest if the god of Abraham exists and is as portrayed in the various holy texts then I would likely study the potential for deicide.


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Theist Responses

 I have gotten a range of theist responses.

 

The most shocking was, "I would commit suicide."  The young priest explained that he had dedicated his life to God and couldn't imagine that life would be worth living without God.

 

Recently, I received the response that "I would become very, very selfish."  This from an Ayn Rand devotee who felt that we should only do what was in our self interest.  He felt that his acts of charity and kindness to others were in his own best interest because they forwarded his cause with God.  Again, I found this shocking.

 

Less shocking and less interesting, I've had several responses that were collectively, "I'd be aimless and adrift."  Not terribly unlike the only response from a theist on this thread, these people have generally turned to religion for guidance.  In the parlance most often used, they have turned their lives over to God.  In one way or another, these people have all given up critical thinking about what their behavior should be and used religion as a set of rules that can guide them in their daily endeavors.  In one sense these people are pretty scary (if they believed God was saying they should do something, they'd be very busy doing it) and, in another, this behavior is pretty consistent with the kind of faith many soldiers place in the military (it sort of depends on the quality of the officer as to the quality of the platoon).  To the extent that they continue to make use of critical thinking, they search for ways to justify the behaviors they have in terms of what their religion dictates.

 

The other response I've gotten from theists is that life would just continue as is.  I described this response earlier in the thread.


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Thanks for following-through

Thanks for following-through on that, bfish. Interesting responses. Can't say I'm very surprised, but it's useful to see them collected together like that as a response to the question you first posted. Kudos.

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Interesting Question

If I was given proof, beyond all doubt, that God did not exist, then... I'm not sure what would happen. But it'd hurt quite a bit. A lot of my life depends on my faith; I attended a faith school, I attend Mass on Sunday, I pray... I honestly do not know what I'd do. It's a cross between two extremes; break down and give up on life, or give up and do whatever the hell I wanted to. Neither option seems preferable. Unless the proof involves everything just being a figment of my imagination, and I'm actually some sentinent non-being floating 'round in that reality's version on space... That'd be weird.


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Prussia wrote: I honestly

Prussia wrote:

 I honestly do not know what I'd do. It's a cross between two extremes; break down and give up on life, or give up and do whatever the hell I wanted to.

Wow, no option C huh?  These are your only options if faced with a reality that doesn't include god?  So without god you either "give up on life," or "do whatever you wanted to do."  I assume that means things you wouldn't normally do, "bad" things.  So your options are give up on life, or run amuck, kind of pathetic.  How about option C:  Suck it up, deal with reality, find meaning within yourself and your loved ones, be the best person you can and stay true to yourself, cherish every moment your alive. 

No?  This option is not for you, give up then, run amuck.

 

 


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bfish wrote: I have gotten

bfish wrote:

 I have gotten a range of theist responses.

 

The most shocking was, "I would commit suicide."  The young priest explained that he had dedicated his life to God and couldn't imagine that life would be worth living without God.

So, if he had found out this life was the only one that he had, he would end it ? Rather than try to move on and find new meaning in his life, rather than face his problems and learn to feel liberated without a god, he would just end his life ? That seems stupid.I spent almost all of my young life as a dedicated theist. When I lost my faith, I went through a dark period and then accepted it, found new meanings and moved on. I feel liberated to be an Atheist today. So in part, I can answer your question from a former theist standpoint. Coming to believe that there is no god was one of the best experiences of my life.

bfish wrote:

Recently, I received the response that "I would become very, very selfish."  This from an Ayn Rand devotee who felt that we should only do what was in our self interest.  He felt that his acts of charity and kindness to others were in his own best interest because they forwarded his cause with God.  Again, I found this shocking.

So in effect, he was only doing charity in the hopes that a god would see and reward him. Then it is definitely not charity. I do good for other people because I WANT to. I do not think it would even be remotely moral to do good, simply upon the basis that a supernatural being will work more closely with you.

Besides that, god would not be very moral, if he only helped out the people that did good to please him. That would make god, awful self-centered and egotistical.

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


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A couple of theists

 

harleysportster wrote:

So, if he had found out this life was the only one that he had, he would end it ? Rather than try to move on and find new meaning in his life, rather than face his problems and learn to feel liberated without a god, he would just end his life ?

He was young and idealistic.  A couple of months later, he wrote me a note and thanked me for the question.  Shortly thereafter he left the priesthood.  Like you, I was pretty hard on him ("So you would abandon the morals you currently have and commit murder?" -- he viewed suicide as a form of murder).  I'm ashamed that I was so hard on him, but I was quite young (16) and he was my religion teacher.  His answer was a commentary on his faith in my opinion--that he was most comfortable blindly following that which he knew (when he lost that which he would follow he lost his will to live).  I'm ashamed because I really, truly blindsided this guy and pulled the rug out from under him which had given his life meaning.  I hope he is doing well and, like you, has found a way to adjust to his new life, but I always wonder what happened to him.  The point of the question has been to understand better why people do what they do, not really to change them.

harleysportster wrote:

bfish wrote:

Recently, I received the response that "I would become very, very selfish."  This from an Ayn Rand devotee who felt that we should only do what was in our self interest.  He felt that his acts of charity and kindness to others were in his own best interest because they forwarded his cause with God.  Again, I found this shocking.

So in effect, he was only doing charity in the hopes that a god would see and reward him. Then it is definitely not charity. I do good for other people because I WANT to. I do not think it would even be remotely moral to do good, simply upon the basis that a supernatural being will work more closely with you.

Besides that, god would not be very moral, if he only helped out the people that did good to please him. That would make god, awful self-centered and egotistical.

I do plan on following up with this guy.  I see him fairly frequently.  I think he is unabashedly self-centered.  To see God (I never remember the rules on capitalization, but I'm thinking that since we are talking about the way he sees his "god" it is appropriate to capitalize) in his own image is no great surprise.  I don't want to be pushy, but I am curious to hear why he thinks God would pay ANY attention to his actions.  I have a feeling that he feels that way because there is a contractual commitment, but I'm not sure.

 


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Not what you want?

Prussia wrote:

If I was given proof, beyond all doubt, that God did not exist, then... I'm not sure what would happen. But it'd hurt quite a bit. A lot of my life depends on my faith; I attended a faith school, I attend Mass on Sunday, I pray... I honestly do not know what I'd do. It's a cross between two extremes; break down and give up on life, or give up and do whatever the hell I wanted to. Neither option seems preferable. Unless the proof involves everything just being a figment of my imagination, and I'm actually some sentinent non-being floating 'round in that reality's version on space... That'd be weird.

 

Your comment suggests that you are currently not "doing whatever the hell [you want] to."  Why not?  Are there truly things you want to do that are not in line with what your understanding of what God wants you to do?  Would you please elaborate?  Do you just mean that instead of attending religious events, you would do something else or is there more to it then that?


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a returning member

It's been a while since I've posted, but it feels good to be back.

If undeniable proof of God's existence was revealed, then my day to day life would change very little.

After reading some Dennet and Dawkins, I found myself agreeing with the reprehensibility of someone living their life "rightly" simply out of fear of being punished.

I try to live my life with the belief that right actions are inherently good, regardless of my personal theistic beliefs. Although a purely humanistic moral system is typically, how shall I say, shunned by believers, I find that its tenets are incredibly valuable because they cause self reflection within the individual about "Why am I doing this?" Is it simply for selfish gain? If so, then way to use your fellow man as merely a means to your end of personal worship (aka patting your own back).

I feel that I've strayed a bit from the focus of this question, but for the sake of clarity and respondibility, I will stop here. I always enjoying attempting to explain a conclusion following pointed questions, rather than going on and on with lists of likely irrelevant premises.

The implication that we should put Darwinism on trial overlooks the fact that Darwinism has always been on trial within the scientific community. -- From Finding Darwin's God by Kenneth R. Miller

Chaos and chance don't mean the absence of law and order, but rather the presence of order so complex that it lies beyond our abilities to grasp and describe it. -- From From Certainty to Uncertainty by F. David Peat


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Missed the point...

jread wrote:

If undeniable proof of God's existence was revealed, then my day to day life would change very little.

If you are a theist, then it would be undeniable proof that god did NOT exist.


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jread wrote:It's been a

jread wrote:

It's been a while since I've posted, but it feels good to be back.

If undeniable proof of God's existence was revealed, then my day to day life would change very little.

After reading some Dennet and Dawkins, I found myself agreeing with the reprehensibility of someone living their life "rightly" simply out of fear of being punished.

I try to live my life with the belief that right actions are inherently good, regardless of my personal theistic beliefs. Although a purely humanistic moral system is typically, how shall I say, shunned by believers, I find that its tenets are incredibly valuable because they cause self reflection within the individual about "Why am I doing this?" Is it simply for selfish gain? If so, then way to use your fellow man as merely a means to your end of personal worship (aka patting your own back).

I feel that I've strayed a bit from the focus of this question, but for the sake of clarity and respondibility, I will stop here. I always enjoying attempting to explain a conclusion following pointed questions, rather than going on and on with lists of likely irrelevant premises.

 

Bah. I didn't miss the point, I let a crucial typo escape my awareness. It should be the "undeniable proof that God does not exist."

The implication that we should put Darwinism on trial overlooks the fact that Darwinism has always been on trial within the scientific community. -- From Finding Darwin's God by Kenneth R. Miller

Chaos and chance don't mean the absence of law and order, but rather the presence of order so complex that it lies beyond our abilities to grasp and describe it. -- From From Certainty to Uncertainty by F. David Peat


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It wouldn't matter to me one

It wouldn't matter to me one bit -- Judaism doesn't require the existence of G-d, and there is a strong tradition within Judaism of Imitatio Dei --

Quote:
ויקרא י"ט, 2: "דבר אל כל עדת בני-ישראל ואמרת אלהם קדשים תהיו כי קדוש אני ה' אלהיכם."

I believe in G-d because I do.  I have friends who are Orthodox Jews and atheists who obviously don't believe in G-d on account of they are atheists.  Which, bizarrely enough, isn't a contradiction.  For anyone keeping score, I fall somewhere between Conservative and Orthodox Judaism.

"Obviously I'm convinced of the existence of G-d. I'm equally convinced that Atheists who've led good lives will be in Olam HaBa going "How the heck did I wind up in this place?!?" while Christians who've treated people like dirt will be in some other place asking the exact same question."


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Jeffrick wrote:I can worship

Jeffrick wrote:
I can worship Bacchus the god of wine.  The one who turned water into wine [where do you think JC got the idea from]. He also told his followers to drink this wine in rememberence of me. Bless his little cyrosis!!!!!!!!!!!!  Now that's a god we can all kneel down to;  since we'll be too drunk to stand or sit straight, 'hic' prey on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Heh.

The Romans stole turning water into wine from the way wine was made at the time.  I'm currently in the process of turning water into beer (Baruch Ha'Shem!).

Study your wine making history, people -- water into wine is =easy=.

"Obviously I'm convinced of the existence of G-d. I'm equally convinced that Atheists who've led good lives will be in Olam HaBa going "How the heck did I wind up in this place?!?" while Christians who've treated people like dirt will be in some other place asking the exact same question."