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August 14, 2012

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Two points: we have to give credit to Beha and Rosenberg for their reflections. They recognize that there are consequences to the idea that God is dead. This is at least an intellectually honest starting point. Also, I am intrigued by the advice that we should just “ignore" the itch. This presumes we can. But Rosenberg's practical formula presents a different solution. We don't ignore the itch; we find other means (or distractions) by which to suppress the itch. These distractions apparently can range from anti-depressants (pharmaceuticals everywhere are cheering), to becoming a workaholic (bosses everywhere are cheering) or just pursuing the almighty dollar (bankers everywhere are cheering). Even art becomes a means to an end that is not necessarily related to the artistic pursuit in itself. I am sure this is not an exhaustive list. Many other vices (alcohol, drugs, sex, adventure, etc.) and laudable activities (volunteerism, charitable works, coaching, etc.) could also be included. Maybe it works. Maybe we can ignore the itch... for a time. But like any itch, it often just doesn't seem to go away until its scratched. And, most distressing for atheists and agnostics, humanity continues to be plagued by this insufferable itch. This still leaves us with the question. Of all the possible ways to scratch the itch which is the one that gives us lasting relief? Christianity provides a powerful balm for this particular itch.

Isn’t it odd that we have such a great longing for things that don’t exist?

Amen! Like time machines, cloaking devices, wings on humans, telekinetic powers, functioning crystal balls, love potions, and money trees.

“Michael Shermer affirms that our remote ancestors have genetically passed on to us our sense of moral obligation within, and this is reinforced by group pressure. Ultimately, to ask, “Why should we be moral?” is like asking, “Why should we be hungry or horny?” But this doesn’t mean that I have a moral obligation to eat. I just have this inclination, and I do it. If I don’t eat, then I starve. C. S. Lewis was familiar with such reasoning. He argued that given such naturalistic conditions, moral impulses are no more true or false than “than a vomit or a yawn.” Thinking “I ought” is on the same level of “I itch.” Indeed, “my impulse to serve posterity is just the same sort of thing as my fondness for cheese” or preferring mild or bitter beer. All naturalism can do is describe human behavior. It can’t prescribe human behavior………” Copan


Rape still abounds the world over because it perpetuates itself. Sex slavery, now on a radical rise in frequency, is merely a byproduct of the same. DNA Perpetuation. We dance to its music.


It amazes me that atheists are so dishonest as to fail to call these "moral" as well. They [Perpetuate] the species. "Therefore" they are "moral".


Avoid trans-fats. Be nice to your kids. Rape. Sex slavery. Fondness for cheese. And an opposable thumb. All of these perpetuate the species. Basing morality on this really is hard to fathom.


Many would appreciate an honest conversation with an Atheist or a Non-Theist but finding one who is willing to be consistent (honest) with either the DNA-Dance or the Objective Semantics of "Equality is a herd mentality developed by the weaker in their attempt to foist their will upon the stronger." Instead, they dance around these as if they don’t self-perpetuate in the Gene Pool (and abundantly so) and as if such Objective Semantics do not flourish the world over so much so that they cancel out any equal and opposite Objective Semantics which are equally arbitrary (contextual). None of that goes anywhere. As PaulR stated (I think it was him), "We need something more meaty than objective semantics". The Immutable Semantics of that Eternal Language found in Uncreated Mind brings us to the Everywhere and Always of Personhood.


"But we need meaning, order, and wonder…and we have drugs to distract us from that need?"

Uh, no--no need for drugs. We satisfy those needs with the real thing.

Atheists find plenty of meaning, order, and wonder in their lives. In particular, it's incredible to hear Christians say that they have the monopoly on wonder when it's actually science that tells us about the almost incomprehensible vastness of the universe in both the big and small directions.

The God of the Old Testament is grand only in that the Old Testament narrative (God worked with Play-Doh to create one world, with tiny dots in the sky for stars) has been replaced by the science's. The OT myth is pretty pathetic compared to science’s reality.

You'll probably respond that atheists may have meaning ... but they don't have absolute meaning. Fair enough--but neither do you.

Christians can certainly invent a religion that tells them that they do, but the evidence is simply not there.

already-existing need those tyrants could exploit

Anybody wanna live forever?

Of course atheists find plenty of meaning in their lives and that's because they believe in God and they are just in rebellion. This is such an obvious truth.

Atheists tell us all the time they believe in an ought-less reality (“….no absolute meaning….fair enough….”) and then proceed to tell us, their children, and their friends what they ought to do. That is because they do not believe what they believe they believe. We can live to avoid pain and allow the most good for the greatest number and the least pain for the smallest number. But despite all the mathematical models proving that a small bed of slave-labor is the way there, atheists really don’t believe in Utility (nor do Christians) though they (some of them) believe they believe that. There are some who live their lives as if life really is cheap and ultimately worthless. The technical term for that in the DSM-IV falls within the terminology of Psychosis.


We are a confused species.

it's incredible to hear Christians say that they have the monopoly on wonder

Actually, this post was about quoting an atheist who is saying that. More than one, actually. Botton is seeking to create a new sense of wonder for atheists, Rosenberg is saying that it can't be separated from religious belief because there is no meaning in an atheist world. Beha is disappointed to be convinced by Rosenberg. But you'll have to read the article.

RonH

I do.

Amy,

The atheists you cite are wrong, of course. Morality, order, meaning, etc.---these things exist quite apart from God.

Even for those atheists, though, you will have to do better than the argument from desire. God is not an explanation for the mysteries of the world. You might as well say "we just desire" as "God did it."

Ben,

You are saying Meaning is something other than Contextual apart from Immutable Semantics?

Ben,

Does Mind precede Mater?

Ben,

Do you know the limits of knowledge? If so, I have some questions for you about the lottery. Empiricists know everything but they can't seem to put that knowledge to good use. If we can only know things that can be proven "scientifically" (I use that term loosely since atheists and agnostics worship it as a god) then how can that claim be made since you can't know everything or the knowing of everything to conclude it can only be known if proven in some empirical way? Since you know everything then this should be pretty easy for you.

Ben,


It seems some take the word meaning, or, ought, or, worth, and reduce them to that which nature can provide, which is Whim, and, because “that exists” (as aimless reverberations of photons in deterministic psychic phosphorescence) in a materialistic view, then they argue that “they exist without God”.


I take it you are [not] such a materialist?


But the Christian does not here desire, nor refer to, such Mutable notions of rape, or of slavery, or of worth, or of ought, and objective semantics (nor deterministic psychic phosphorescence) therefore is not what the Desires nor the References are all about, thus, Immutable Semantics “are needed” for what [we] mean for we mean to say that though this statement possesses Objective Semantics, “"Equality is a herd mentality developed by the weaker in their attempt to foist their will upon the stronger” it does not possess Immutable Semantics and is thus not at all what we long for, desire, and speak of. We desire that which materialism cannot provide, and, I take it from your previous statements that you are [not] a materialist.


It is one thing to say Whim (desire) exists apart from God (deterministic psychic phosphorescence) defined by contextually arbitrary semantics, but it is quite another thing to say Immutable Worth exits apart from Immutable Semantics.


I take it that you do not mean to say [that]?


If “invented words” like “Meaning” and “Ought” and “Order” are placed in the mouth of the Christian, then really your own condition of “agreeing what wrong and right mean” has failed to be satisfied, for we mean the Immutable Semantics of an Eternal Language, thus there is no consensus on R and W. It seems you provide only contextual semantics which are not only arbitrary by definition, but, are also still lacking the possession of a necessary “consensus”. The Human Context is not a Single, Smooth, Uniform Whim-Context on what is right and wrong. I refer you to the bloody world around us for a Proof.


Mind, it seems, precedes Matter. If we consider "Mind" to be an "Objectively Real" entity, we find we trace all real things to a sort of uncaused Mind and it is simply a matter of can My-Mind know Your-Mind, or, can Self know Other. If Mind is not an objectively real entity, then, per your thread in All Brain No Mind, there will be no objective [anything, ever] for Mind is the bedrock of [all things] (per your thread in All Brain No Mind) and your request for an Objective Immutable will be forever declined in your own response to your own response and thus dies the death of circularity on your end and not ours.

If the Subjective is the only Real, then the only Real is still Real, and therefore objectively so. Perhaps WL was correct, and you seek to have it both ways?


As for Contextual Semantics, we are left with a Subtext beneath our feet which cannot support the weight of the Context above our heads, ultimately, for round squares are permitted "somewhere for all we know", or rather, Consciousness (that is, Man's Consciousness) is not granted the end of ad infinitum, despite such a Grant possessing no need for knowing infinitely.

It seems Mind knows Mind. Can Know Mind. Does Know Mind. Logic and Love see to the end of ad infinitum from Outside experience and Inside experience, and these, though not knowing infinitely, touch that Hard Stop that is the Uncreated Mind in which Will speaks Its uncaused Cause with the Immutable Semantics of an Eternal Language and thus Consciousness in All-Contexts finds Mind touching Mind, the I there Knowing, there Tasting, the You, and Love’s Embrace is thus found, and that eternally so. There are no round squares and that Everywhere and Always, just as, the Uncreated Is-Personhood.


We find, it seems, Love Himself by a multitude of avenues. Honestly I’ve found your writing enjoyable, and in an odd way somewhat helpful. But, honestly, I do not know how to proceed forward with one who, it seems, seeks to have it both ways in a sort of pain of circularity.


Atheists tell us all the time they believe in an ought-less reality

An ought-less reality? I’ve never heard an atheist say that. In particular, this atheist isn’t saying that.

Just because we can’t point to absolute meaning or purpose doesn’t mean that we can’t have ordinary meaning and purpose. Obviously, atheists find meaning and purpose in similar ways that Christians do. They adore their children and take pleasure in a job well done. They work to improve society. They find a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

Amy:

Actually, this post was about quoting an atheist who is saying that.

Yep, understood. I was referring to the many Christians who say that. The point of the story as I understand it is, “Isn’t it interesting how some prominent atheists are agreeing with us Christians?”

Yes, it is interesting, but I reject it whether Christians or atheists say it.

Bob,

By oughtless reality, I mean ought in an absolute sense is missing, as you yourself agreed to, such that "Slavery is good for society" is always Dark and not Light, regardless of what percentage of Human Whim happens to assert it, etc.


I think we agree on this, or rather, you believe there is no such thing, and I do, but we agree on the definition.

First, I would have to say that the OT narrative has not been replaced by science. What you will find is that our observations regarding the origin of the universe line up nicely with what the Bible says about the universe having a beginning from nothing (see Alexander Vilenkin’s recent research revealed January 2012 under the ‘Programme’ from this link http://www.ctc.cam.ac.uk/stephen70/ ).

Next, consider this:

1. If Christianity is false, then there is no ultimate meaning or objective purpose in our lives.
2. If Christianity is true, then there is ultimate meaning and objective purpose in our lives.
3. If atheism is true, then there is still no ultimate meaning or objective purpose in our lives.

If there is no ultimate meaning or objective purpose in our lives, then to “create” or “invent” meaning and purpose would only be the product of wishful thinking.

So, if there is no God, then all we have is nature. But nature doesn’t provide ultimate meaning or objective purpose. On naturalism, the only purpose one can have is instrumental. If a friendless, depressed young hermit with no living relative decided to kill himself one day because he no longer found purpose for his life, we all would think that it would be wrong to tell the young person, “No one loves you. You’re of no use to society alive or dead. No one would miss you if you killed yourself, so you might as well go ahead and commit suicide.” But no one really believes that if a person no longer found purpose in his own life, it would be ok for him to kill himself, do they? I think everyone _feels_ as though there is a transcendent purpose for life and that our lives are truly meaningful. We certainly _act_ as though life has intrinsic value and we pursue meaning and purpose in life. But those actions would be irrational on atheism if atheism is true. It doesn’t line up.

Also Francis Collins was affected greatly by studying the human genome. He realized it was so perfect that it couldn't have been the result of randomness.

squallybimbadine: Not exactly. Francis Collins thoroughly embraces evolution as the cause of the human genome.

The human genome is certainly complicated, but I doubt anyone who studies it would call it "perfect."

Goodness, how depressing! People know deep in their hearts that there is a God in the universe. But they despise Him so much that they need to medicate themselves with drugs, consumerism, entertainment and all the rest - all to be able to function in a godless world.

"Beha finds himself in the “disappointed disbelievers” camp, wishing he could believe in God so as to keep what comes with Him:"

This speaks volumes, doesn't it? We want and need those things God brings to the universe (meaning, purpose, order, etc.) but we do not want Him or His rule over us.

The human condition in a nutshell.

Hi, Mo,

Though it ultimately amounts to the same thing, I think a lot of times we are more apathetic about God (as opposed to consciously despising Him), and utterly in love with ourselves. We get so puffed up with pride in our "knowledge", degrees, philosophies and egos that we barely acknowledge the idea of God, finding it so beneath our intellect. We presume that we know more when, in reality, we are fools. That God is long-suffering and patient with us, allowing sufficient time for those who will come humbly to Him to do so, is an amazing aspect of His grace.

At times, on this blog, I wonder at the volume of high-sounding words that are exchanged and question whether any souls are turned from their fixation with self and end up bowing before God. Only He knows...

A question to other atheists/agnostics here, do you believe Atheism entails Naturalism/Materialism? If so, does Naturalism/Materialism entail Moral Nihilism? I haven't found any good, non-theistic counters or refutations of moral nihilism. Nothing matters once you die, it wont matter if you were moral or not, if you lived for ten years or 100 years, etc. Life just seems like trying to entertain ourselves until we cease to operate. I sympathize with Beha.

Wow, I can’t believe I've come across this neat place...what an eye opener, if not a popper. To have such a gathering of intellectual heavyweights in one place is as intimidating as standing au naturel in the Bulgarian Women’s weightlifting team’s workout room, having a hard time lifting a weightless bar, or a walk through the tunnel at Atlantis; sharks do scare the piddle out of me. Posting here would scares the bejezzus out of me even more were it not for my SS status and recent acceptance of my feelings for Ginger, my pet Beagle and my transfiguration into self described agnosticism. The former accomplished through normal time travel channels and Ginger, well it is my miscreant offspring’s way of leveling and old score regarding a portion of uneaten spinach of long ago, she knew I wanted a mastiff for my birthday. Well enough.. of the small talk, just so happy to find y’all here, never too old to learn. I am embarrassed to say that I understood Jabberwocky better than squallybimbadine’s herculean dissertation; my dear sainted mother would blame it on my misspent youth on the LES below Pitts Street. I feel as if my head was in the direct path of the Higgs boson experiment at CERN, Wow, I remember hearing poems like this at Woodstock but then again it must have been cow patties going up in smoke.
One of your posters scbrownlhrm was absolutely delightful and enlightening. He states that:
“The God of the Old Testament is grand only in that the Old Testament narrative (God worked with Play-Doh to create one world, with tiny dots in the sky for stars) has been replaced by the science's.”
It is true enough that science opens up our play doh kitchen into an 18000btu Viking stovetop range as we grow into adolts. It is not God that is limited to the play doh stove he is waiting for us to move up to a fusion range.
“The OT myth is pretty pathetic compared to science’s reality……..Christians can certainly invent a religion that tells them that they do, but the evidence is simply not there.”
Having spent a few years attending La Salle Academy, few blocks up the street from Pitt Street, I was off the impression that Christians were neither the authors nor inventors of their particular brand of God. (I capitalize in the event Aquinas and Descartes were right). They stood behind the Hebrew who assembled stories into an anthology, their reason for being, regardless of Gilgamesh’s antediluvian soaking, Christians who followed suit with the NT and Muslims who upped the ante with the Quran.
There are three Abrahamic religions and a plethora of others no lesser but just as worthy for engagement in a dialogue on the comparative merits of their respective deity’s being worthy of accepting the blamed for the incomprehensible beauty that surrounds us.
What is the most curious is that atheists (not all), seem to engage only the Christians in their rage against a God they perceive doesn’t exist. They get their Speedos all scrunched up into a nameless black hole, because they got sent up to their room in another dimension for disobedience. All the while (pardon the plagiarism, you know I couldn’t resist) screaming “You didn’t build this”
”Christians say that they have the monopoly on wonder when it's actually science that tells us about the almost incomprehensible vastness of the universe in both the big and small directions.”
From the time that one first gets an inkling of the implication of multiply by 2 then again for ever or divide by 2 then again forever, one gets a different vision of what surrounds us. You give science the ability for self creation and reproduction as if it were a sea horse, science is not the creation of man, it is his discovery and understanding, big difference.
As for the itch that is so hard to satisfy, the atheist keeps trying to scratch the phantom self amputated appendage.
So it is getting late, I can see that I m going to learn a great deal on this blog, God I love this place.

@ Carolyn -

Well said.

Wow. Reading this blog and listening to STR you would think that I'm a different species from believers. Honestly - I recommend some of you Christians go and talk to an atheist - I'm available if you don't know any (honestly, I don't bite). You will find differing opinions, different points of view, etc. What you *won't* find, in general, is people who feel their lives are empty or who lack morals and feelings for others.

I know, I know - you think we can't have morality without God. But that's just not correct... The STR crowd likes to define morals as either "objective" or "relative" which is excluding the middle. And then you say "well, if it's not objective from some creator then how do you know it is good?" Morality is complicated. If you really want to know what atheists think I suggest reading some philosophy rather than asking Greg. Or simply asking atheists rather than assuming you *know* what we think based off what Greg says.

Greg knows the Bible *very* well - but he (and others on this site) knows very little about us atheists.

And I'll warn you - there are diverse opinions out there. So don't be tempted into finding some low-hanging fruit and saying "this is what atheists believe." There is good philosophy and bad just as there is good theology and bad.

Andy, this post was about three atheists and their thoughts about this. Not Greg.

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