« God, Time, and Prayer (Video) | Main | Dawkins Lectures Christians »

January 26, 2010


I saw it. I was expecting the same old atheist bull. But it was an EXCELLENT movie.

There were a few annoying parts. But all in all, great acting.

I was happy to see a movie in which FINALLY the existential implications of Darwin's world view are revealed.


Daughter: "What are you so scared of? Its only a theory."

Darwin: "No. It changes everything. Suppose that the whole world stopped believing that God had any sort of plan for us. Nothing mattered. Not love, trust, faith, or honor. Only brute survival. Apart from anything else, it would break your mother's heart."


It's so rare to meet non-believers (like me) who understand the sheer terror and futility of a life without God.

I still struggle with it everyday, and think about death and suicide hourly.

Excellent talk here by william craig:
The Absurdity of Life Without God

p.s. I doubt Darwin actually said that quote, but if anyone has a resource can you please post it?

Thank you for your honest post ToNy.

The quote does not appear in the Gutenberg Project file of Origins. Here is a longer passage that it might be inferred from:

"When we travel
from south to north, or from a damp region to a dry, we invariably
see some species gradually getting rarer and rarer, and finally
disappearing; and the change of climate being conspicuous, we are
tempted to attribute the whole effect to its direct action. But this is
a false view; we forget that each species, even where it most abounds,
is constantly suffering enormous destruction at some period of its life,
from enemies or from competitors for the same place and food; and if
these enemies or competitors be in the least degree favoured by any
slight change of climate, they will increase in numbers; and as each
area is already fully stocked with inhabitants, the other species must

There is no page number annotation, but the quote is about a fifth of the way through the book.

Darwin uses the phrase "higher beings" throughout the book, but I think it reflects the views of his time [rationalism?] rather than being a construct of his own.

Isaac Asimov gives a word picture of evolution being a downhill process (the only reason it hasn't wound down is because of energy input from the sun). Imagine a vast tray that is floored with layer of plastic out of which shapes of animals have been cut, as if with a cookie cutter. The cookie cutter animals are put back into the tray, but in random locations. Then the tray is gently shaken. In time, each animal shape will find the hole out of which it was cut and will fit in; eventually all the animals will be in their holes and nothing more will happen.

Yeah, I presumed the voiceover was quotes from his book, but they may have been from something else, or they may just have been a summary of Darwin's ideas the way the filmmakers wanted to present them.

To all the atheists here (IE RonH, ToNy etc) I have a brief questionnaire for you. This is just for me to gain more knowledge on your viewpoint. Anyway here are the questions..

What is your favorite and or most convincing argument or evidence for atheism?

What is your favorite and or most convincing argument or evidence for naturalism?

What is your favorite and or most convincing argument or evidence for macro evolution?

What is your favorite and or most convincing argument or evidence against Christian theism?

What is your favorite and or most convincing argument or evidence against theism in general?

How do you think the universe began? Was it eternal or did it have a beginning?

What are your favorite and or most convincing responses to common Christian theistic arguments such as the cosmological,ontological, moral, design, fine tuning,and resurrection of Christ arguements?

Anyway thank you ahead for your time and for your responses. :)


What can I say to someone who already knows the futility of a world without God and thinks of suicide hourly?

Alexander Solzenitzyn wrote a book called Cancer Ward, about his experiences when he was temporarily taken from the Gulag and sent to a hospital because he had stomach cancer (from which he recovered). But in the book he compares the experience of someone else dying from terminal cancer to that of a space traveler going at a speed that gets closer and closer to the speed of light, and his time gets slowed down, so that every remaining second of his life becomes an eternity. So perhaps you are experiencing an eternity that the rest of us will experience only by actually dying. If you are experiencing such a thing, perhaps you can tell us about it and give us a perpective that only you have, and we might be able to react to it in such a way that ordinary discourse would not evoke.

I enjoy your posts here. I haven't posted here in quite a while, but I'm kind of shocked (and troubled) to see that you think of death and suicide hourly. I will pray for you.




Don't worry, I won't do it anytime soon. And anyway, Pascal's wager is too powerful an argument.


there lots of overlap in your questions. Here's a list i made on a different post though:


1. The evidence for common ancestry via Endogenous Retroviruses. This indicates Genesis is wrong.

2. The evidence for common ancestry via Chromosome 2 data. This indicates Genesis is wrong.

3. The failure of four separate Near Death Experience experiments to pan out. Specifically, the placing of a marquee above an operation table which contained a secret sentence – facing up. No one got it right. Given the number of NDE’s which reportedly happen every day, someone should have got it right. This experiment would have proven dualism right.

4. How come even when NDE survivors do come back, they often don’t report a very Christian experience – sometimes coming back with tales of pluralism. This indicates Christian Exclusivism is wrong.

5. Given that the vast majority of humans that have ever lived, never even learned to talk, why did god bother to make them? “Estimations of chemical pregnancies or unrecognized pregnancies that are lost can be as high as 50-75%, but many of these are unknown since they often happen before a woman has missed a period or is aware she is pregnant.” - American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

6. What was really meant by the much debated verse Mark 9:1 – “And he said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.”

7. The Problem of Pain – Why do young children suffer from horrible painful cancers? (Note – this is not to be confused with the Problem of Evil – e.g. why did God allow the Nazis to hurt people – which is a much simpler question.)

8. Why doesn’t god heal amputee victims? Why are most miracles these days about relationships and finances?

9. Where have the Hollywood-style miracles gone?

10. Why doesn’t Jesus show up at debates?

For these 10 reasons, I feel I am justified in being skeptical of Christianity.


1. Why is there something and not nothing (why does the cosmos exist?)

2. Epistemology: What is the nature of the laws of physics, logic, and reason? (Is Platonism true – how can a materialist’s philosophical framework somehow account for the apparent existence of platonic forms?)

3. What is the nature of human and animal consciousness? Is it merely a substrate-dependent epiphenomenon? And if so, how can we model it.

For these 3 reasons, I feel I am justified in being skeptical of Materialism.

Hey Tony, since you saw the movie, what was your take on what it was that turned Darwin around? Just that he forgave himself? Something else?

6. Maybe there were some people there in a time machine and Jesus was telling them that he had sniffed them out.


You mean why do I think Darwin ultimately published the book?

Here's why:


Males have a very carnal need to display.

Peacocks spread their feathers.

Humans write books, play guitar, become pastors & politicians, and post on blogs.

some interesting facts:


You can say everything in English with 850 words. Yet an educated male knows 60,000.

D cup female breasts produce as much milk as A cup breasts. They have no function other than catching male eyes.

Men write more books per year, but women buy more books per year.

During her monthly cycle, at peek fertility, women experience the following changes:

• Increased number of miles walked per day.
• Increased probability of going out to a social environment (like a bar or club).
• Increase in miles driven per day.
• Increase in breast size.
• Increase in breast symmetry.
• Increase in mate "choosiness".
• Increased sexual desire.
• Increased sexual pleasure.
• Increased self-esteem.
• Increased confidence.
• Increase probability of wearing more revealing clothing.
• Increased sense of smell.
• Increased creativity.
• Increased verbal fluency.
• Increased focus on the male's genetic fitness indicators.
• Increased wit.
• Increased energy level.
• Increased frequency of masturbation and initiation of sex.
• Increased number of sexual fantasies about other higher fitness men (with a more symmetrical face than her spouse).
• Increased probability of infidelity.
• Increased grip strength (measured after reading a brief rape story).
• Increased preference for more masculine faces.
• Increased preference for male dominant behaviors (like disinhibition, confidence, and cockiness)
• Increased preference for displays of creativity in men.
• Increased preference for a good sense of humor.
• Decreased preference for wealthy men.

another example - in five years on the str blog, I think I've seen about 7 females post here. lol


The world is just one big game - not unlike the children's game "King of the Mountain"

"Look at me, look at me! I'm on top..."

and then you die.

Hi Tony,

#4. Certainly NDE's don't prove Christianity false. And I understand that is not your point per se. I assume we agree that on their face NDEs are in fact evidence for the soul, or that materialism is false.

However, the fact that you list this objection and not another raises a question for me.

You didn't list the fact that many people claim the Christian view of this life is false as evidence that Christianity is false!

In other words, why do you find it more compelling that the fact that these people describe different afterlife experiences then the Christian view of the afterlife carries more weight then the fact that different people describe different views of this life?

I mean there are plenty of people that experience this life that think the Christian view is bunk.

However, that doesn't prove Christianity false, just that human judgment can be subjective.

Also what about the one "death to life" (aka resurrection) event recorded in human history? Wouldn't this event carry more wait then NDEs?



i read your post 3 times, but i dont understand your question.

It is interesting that a movie/story would have such strong messages of determinism.
Which has always been puzzling. Since the early 1970's evolution has been presented as very deterministic. And perpetuating to other disciplines such as social science. Stephen Jay Gould said just the opposite, that evolution was mere chance and randomness and he was mocked and harassed by others, especially Dawkins.


Responses to your reasons not to believe.

#1 and #2. Have scientists tested Noah's chromosome? Historical science cannot prove absolute evidence since it is far removed from the persons.

3. This is an absurd argument NDE's don't prove anything. How do we know if people are making stuff up or not? This doesn't prove anything about the afterlife. It seems you are appealing to experience/popularity to prove God, which probably would support for the existence of God.

4. See #3. Doesn't prove anything except that people can make claims without verification. Christianity offers verification though look at the accounts of the disciples.

5. God made people, but He is not the cause of their deficiencies. Plus, to say that it is His fault they cannot talk misses the point of sin, which permeates our whole world include us.

6. The Kingdom of God is used in multiple ways by the Gospel writers. For instance,it could mean of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentacost or the judgment on Jerusalem in 70 A.D. or the transfiguration of Christ, which fits the context of the passage.

7. Pain is the result of sin, which is irrational, it does not make distinction to age or growth level or place in life. It is like a bomb it doesn't make any distinction between the enemy and the civilian. It harms all around it. The cause is sin not God. God solved this problem by sending Christ to die for mankind although He was under no obligation.

8. and 9. Just because God cannot be manipulated at one's beck and call does not mean He does not exist or He is not good. He provided Jesus to die in our place. Miracles were an authenication of a prophets message. I do not think they cease rather since they are unique they couldn't be ordinary. You cannot assume a priori that they no longer exist.

10. Jesus does show up at debates through His ministers proclaiming His Words. When Jesus does come again it won't be to debate, but to judge.


#1 and #2. - Dont understand your point.

#3 and #4. - NDE's were offered as evidence (by JP Moreland) that dualism is true and the afterlife exists. It is a pity that these experiments didn't work -- because they would have been a beautiful way to prove dualism true and solve a philosophical problem that goes back thousands of years.

#5 - the point of 5 was to question God's role for us on this planet. A much debated and quite confusing question. Especially when you add up infant mortality and other "pre age of reason" deaths. You see that most people die WAY before ever knowing what the word GOD even means. And, by far, the number one place where people die is in mom's tummy. So I often ponder how odd it is that God would bother making so many people in the first place.

#6 - There are a million retorts to this statement by Christians and non. In any case, even the mere fact that there is so much ambiguity on such an important statement, leads me to believe that God (who made the laws of physics and logic) probably didn't write that book.

#7 - "Pain is the result of sin" Babies don't sin

#8 and #9. - "You cannot assume a priori that they no longer exist." - i don't. I just wanna see some.

#10 - "Jesus does show up at debates through His ministers proclaiming His Word" - cool. i'd like to see the real thing though.

6 (continued): "God ... probably didn't write that book".

That makes me think that ToNy's approach follows an argument in C.S.Lewis's book _A Pilgrim's Regress_ that I paraphrase here: "Some of the stories told about God are probably untrue; therefore, all of the stories told about God are probably untrue."


Per your #1 & 2, what is your specific reading of Genesis that requires your conclusion? Are you familiar with and have you rejected alternative understandings of the Genesis text?

Per #3, perhaps the experiments are not testing for the right things. I don't recall the details.

Per #4, perhaps the individuals that don't have a particularly Christian interpretation of their experience were heading to the wrong place!

Concerning #5 you say: "chemical pregnancies or unrecognized pregnancies that are lost can be as high as 50-75%"
Why do you suppose this happens? Something is wrong I expect. Such could be the result of all creation's fall with Adam.

I agree w/Trey on #6. I also think that #7 falls under theodicy.

As for #'s 8,9 & 10, I refer you to Mt. 12: 38-41


1&2 - ya i read "the Language of God" by fundamentalist Christian and evolutionary biologist Francis Collins. I think that interpretation of genesis is nuts.

3 - or perhaps its all in their head

4 - a lot of them report pure joy though, so, i dunno

5 - despite the cause of the deaths, i find it quite bizarre that we are so in the dark as to where 80% of gods creation is even ending up. Contrary to popular belief, the bible and the word of god were NOT created 'for all of mankind'. Its for a very very very very small percentage.


>> ToNy's approach follows an argument in C.S.Lewis's book _A Pilgrim's Regress_ that I paraphrase here: "Some of the stories told about God are probably untrue; therefore, all of the stories told about God are probably untrue."

True. I suppose you could just keep cutting out parts of the bible that turn out to be false.

God says he's coming back soon, and he didn't show up - cut that part of the bible out.

So God created man in his own image, and turns out man started as pond scum, cut that part of the bible out.

suppose it wouldnt really matter

even if you just cut the bible down to a page or two, you'd still have plenty of christians


I had some training once that seems to have lapsed because I just assumed you were being sarcastic when you mentioned suicide. The training said to take jokes about suicide seriously.

So please: if you do have thoughts of suicide call a hotline and get a referral for counseling. If you were being sarcastic please don't do that.


nope, not being sarcastic.

I often think about just what exactly i would say to a 'hotline'.

"Hello. I find mankind's existential dilemma quite disturbing and i'm not too interested in playing this little game called life anymore. Can you please fix me?"


Don't worry its not happening anytime soon.

But, ultimately, yes, for a nihilist, suicide, sex, and alcohol is all we have to look forward to.

Tony said: "ultimately, yes, for a nihilist, suicide, sex, and alcohol is all we have to look forward to."

Don't forget posting to STR's blog!

Tony also said: "So God created man in his own image, and turns out man started as pond scum, cut that part of the bible out."

Are you disputing dust as opposed to pond scum? If God is spirit what does it mean to be created in His image?


true, posting here is fun

i'm confused Will, do you believe in evolution now?

well, why not.
it really doesn't matter.

if the evidence for evolution builds, christians will just say genesis implied evolution the whole time.

if the evidence for evolution diminishes, christians will just say genesis implied creationism the whole time.

fear not christians.

the bible is 100% bullet proof either way.

i like watching this kid:


hard core Christian and hard core evolutionist.

i see him as the next wave of Christian apologetics.

William Wilcox:

I was wondering the same thing (in His image, when He is a spirit). Here is my take: Having the image of a spiritual God would be having attributes that would appear to you, if you were looking in a mirror, that you were looking at God.

First, you would need the ability to perceive of yourself as yourself. That is, looking in a mirror, you recognize that what you are looking at is an image of yourself, not just another example of the creature that you are. What would be the point of having an image if you don't recognize it as an image?

Second, you would have to have attributes similar to the thing that you are in the image of. God likes to make stuff. We like to make stuff. God likes to move around and enjoy the things he made. One might think that since God made the universe he can't fit into it, but he can focus here or there or anywhere (as when he went walking in the garden) as the author of a book can enjoy his work by re-visiting particular passages of his book. So God can move around and we can move around. Being able to look in different directions to enjoy your creation is useful, too. Now God may have a multitude of eyes (perhaps seven, or a whole wheelful) but we have only two, but with articulation we can look in different directions, particularly upward, where a lot of the most interesting things to see are.

So if we have a creature that is mobile, creative, able to recognize images as images, and articulate, we have something with some Godlike properties. Suppose that God set up the universe with all these planetary test plots and one of them evolved creatures that were mobile, creative, able to recognize images as images, and articulate, he could have taken those creatures' substance (dust) and mixed in a few other things, a la Jurassic Park, and produced something that could converse with Him.

Tony said: "do you believe in evolution now?"

Actually, I was educated throughout grade school with the assumption of truth for Darwnian evolution. I received an undergrad degree in Anthropology and "evolution" remained the explanation of how life came to be as it is.

Now, I have seen credible questions raised about the theory as it is presented by its apologists. Additionally, I just don't buy the whole materialist explanation of existence.

I am still not clear on how you read Genesis that requires you to think that certain biological situations indicate the Genesis account is wrong about creation.


We are pretty off topic but I have always been interested in how people engaged in the arts describe how ideas for their work come to them. It always strikes me as almost miraculous! I am not sure that it would satisfy Tony's desire for miracles but I bet that even nihilists can appreciate art, music, literature and even science.


>> I am not sure that it would satisfy Tony's desire for miracles but I bet that even nihilists can appreciate art, music, literature and even science.

art music and literature area 'conspicuous waste' - just like peacocks feathers and boobs.

they have no function except to delight our friends and lovers.

Or, to put it another way, when I was 13 and started taking guitar lessons, I asked a musician how come he started learning to play guitar.

His response:

"The same reason we all did kid - to get laid."

Now i play 4 instruments, and I can safely say, music is the greatest aphrodisiac in the world.


>> Now, I have seen credible questions raised about the theory


so you are a Christian who is on the fence about evolution?

I always regretted that I never took guitar lessons...


How does something with a function get classified as a waste?

Tony said: "so you are a Christian who is on the fence about evolution?"

About "evolution" yes, I suppose you could say that. I look at the evidence pro and con and respect the scientific method. But I am convinced: as The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Biology does the same.

"The same reason we all did kid - to get laid."

O.K. you aren't being serious. Such a sense of humor :) Why did you ask him the question in the first place and why do you want us to believe that you believe his answer, which is so obviously untrue?

>> How does something with a function get classified as a waste?

thats the point

boobs and peacock feathers have no function except sex

'conspicuous waste' is an evolutionary biology term.

humans use money

Like the horribly conspicuous waste of John Travolta's personal airport - lol:


>> which is so obviously untrue?

Do you think i'm kidding??? Have you ever seen mtv before?

Actually, that wasn't the question I was asking at all, Tony. I wasn't asking why Darwin wrote his book, I was asking, what was the "faith" that he found at the end of the movie? What got him out of his depression and existential angst?


>> what was the "faith" that he found at the end of the movie


i dunno.

I agree with william craig in the speech listed above. Where he says he really doesn't see a realistic method to reconcile the realities of living in a desolate universe without a god.

i have trouble understanding how non-believers go on. like i said, i ask this question to myself hourly.

ive tried to query non-believers for answers and the results are pretty scattered.

in my experience, most people (believers and non) simply don't seem very interested in the question to begin with.

And as Ernest Becker said:

"the essence of normality is the refusal of reality"

Don't you ever think it strange that you live in a world where something seems absolutely necessary but doesn't exist? Maybe it does.

i personally think god is necessary for happiness and meaning.

but that doesn't mean he exists.

Recently, i have been quite shocked to learn that the godless, secular, and quite liberal countries, are usually happier though:

happiest countries

so there seems to be a cultural and genetic component to happiness.

I don't mean for happiness, really. I just mean, how strange for us to have an existential angst, to ache for some larger meaning, something greater than ourselves, to need this. We need food, there's food. We need water, there's water. We need air, there's air. How did we develop such a desperate need for something completely imaginary?

personally i don't "ache for a larger meaning"

its just the 'aging and death' part that bugs me.

it makes sense for animals to ache for youth, because as we age, we lose our fitness indicators, and other animals won't mate with us.

it makes sense for animals to fear death for obvious reasons.

my only hope is biological technology will succeed in creating Aldous Huxley's Brave new world:

'You can only be independent of God while you've got youth and prosperity; independence won't take you safely to the end.' Well, we've now got youth and prosperity right up to the end. What follows? Evidently, that we can be independent of God.

'The religious sentiment will compensate us for all our losses.' But there aren't any losses for us to compensate; religious sentiment is superfluous.

And why should we go hunting for a substitute for youthful desires, when youthful desires never fail? A substitute for distractions, when we go on enjoying all the old fooleries to the very last? What need have we of repose when our minds and bodies continue to delight in activity? of consolation, when we have soma?"

A book that gives an impression of what a whole world would be like on which God turned his back is Jack Vance's _The Dying Earth_ (not the whole series, just the first book). God never returned and the sun is starting to turn red.


I don't get it, why would you hope for a "brave new world"? I read a summery on wikipedia and it was far from a perfect paradise. The main character commits suicide at the end to escape the horror of it all. Hardly something I would pin all my hopes upon.

So are you saying you feel depressed because you are old, or because life is pointless?

Tony said: "conspicuous waste' is an evolutionary biology term."

Another reason for me to question evolutionary biology if I understand you correctly. I don't see how evolutionary biology can make any judgment about waste.

Tony also said: "boobs and peacock feathers have no function except sex"

As far as you know and regardless, as they have function, they are not waste as I understand the term.

Tony said: "Have you ever seen mtv before?"

Sure and this proves what? Are you seriously holding up MTV as an example of all motivation to make music?

I have played an instrument solo and in orchestra. It wasn't MTV.

I think Amy is reflecting on a theme that played a role in C.S. Lewis' conversion to Christianity.


As with Veblen's conspicuous consumption principle, the form of the cost does not matter much. What matters is the prodigious waste. The waste is what keeps the fitness indicators honest. The wastefulness of courtship is what makes it romantic. The wasteful dancing, the wasteful gift-giving, the wasteful conversation, the wasteful laughter, the wasteful foreplay, the wasteful adventures.

From the viewpoint of "survival of the fittest," the waste looks mad and pointless and maladaptive. Human courtship even looks wasteful from the viewpoint of sexual selection for non-genetic benefits, because, as we shall see, the acts of love considered most romantic are often those that cost the giver the most, but that bring the smallest material benefits to the receiver. However, from
the viewpoint of fitness indicator theory, this waste is the most efficient and reliable way to discover someone's fitness. Where you see conspicuous waste in nature, sexual choice has often been at work. (Geoffrey Miller: The Mating Mind: How sexual choice shaped teh evolution fo human nature)

well its pretty obvious that sex and music are blended on Mtv if you watch for a few minutes.

Most animals either sing, make vocalizations, dance, or exchange gifts before having sex.


its mostly the biotechnology that I hope for.

Another example is Scott Westerfeld's book "Uglies". The series is great. If i had kids I would make them read all 3.

In the book, they use biotechnology to make everyone pretty, and then when they are 16 they move into a dorm room and basically party and drink and have sex for 4 years. Also, their brains are altered so they are always happy and docile.

They tried to paint a picture of dystopia.

But it sounded pretty damn good to me. lol

I read the first book of the "Uglies" series, it seemed ok, but I was in no rush to read the other two. I find it odd that you reference books that make exactly the opposite point you are making. You want what they were fighting against. Are there any books that show the utopia you want as anything other than a cautionary tale? Also the biotech does not exist in a vacume, so I think a point the authors are making is that you get the 'bad' along with the 'good', or perhaps it is just that the 'good' is not so good, I'm not sure...
Also you have not really answered my question, do you feel bad because of a lack of meaning, or because you are getting old?

Hmm. This reminds me of something. How does this sound to y'all?

The Age of Spiritual Machines

Wait! I'm dating myself.

The Singularity Is Near

Haven't actually read the update. Reading the predictions section of the wiki gives the idea. But for the full impact read the book.



i've read a couple of his books.

they're ok.

he's really big on the notion that the problem of consciousness will somehow be solved by simply increasing the processing power.

but that's only a very small piece of the puzzle in my opinion.

but, these technological achievements are coming - the only question is when.


ya both in the Uglies and Brave New World, there is a supposed moral to the story. -- something like "be yourself" or whatever.

but i'm mostly referring to the technology. In the final book of the Uglies series, a different city is described in which the evil aspects of dystopian city are not present.

so i think its possible to have the good without the bad

>> do you feel bad because of a lack of meaning, or because you are getting old?

its mostly the death part


getting old kinda sucks too

but men have a longer shelf life than women.

This video is good too:


Right. I don't think we'll get up one morning and hear that the problem of consciousness is solved. It's not that kind of thing. Instead we'll get pieces of the picture one by one over a period of time. This has already started. Make no mistake though: it will come.

I'm 53 (almost) and will miss a lot of what kurzweil predicts. (If you life long enough you might life a really long time.) When I first read the book that was my relief: I was attached to my own picture of the future. Now I'm more comfortable with the predictions.


The comments to this entry are closed.