November 01, 2006
Curious George: There are those who say there is no God
I ask you. As one human to another. Convince me there is a God.
10 years ago
Very interesting article. Surely, though, any god-fearing monkeys might sense a bit of entrapment here, though, and decline your challenge. I speak as an atheist who does not care to prove my stance.
Yeah, I agree with fish tick. I come across may theists in my journeys, and I have found that trying to change another person's mind about religion is never worth the effort I put into it.
I'm also with fish tick. While I have little time for religion, I do have respect for religious people, so I usually avoid these issues. Unless someone tries to convert me, of course.
take on religious beliefs
. Yes, faith in something, the
of a better world than the material one we inhabit can be powerful enough to propels us to go on, no matter what. I find such an attitude positive. Even while personally I have never found the concept of an omniscient entity pausible nor conforting, have to accept that people can make good use of that idea. It's when mobs start throwing stones and joining crusades and fatwas when the concept of that guy up there in the sky gets dangerous.
for saying pretty much all I had to say. Hasn't there been enough proselytizing atheism on MoFi lately?
The platypus. God exists and he has a sense of humor.
You can't reason a person out of a position they didn't reason themselves into.
I solidly believe in a higher intelligence, i.e. a god in whatever form, i.e. God, and a lot of that I've extrapolated from my own sense of self-identity. Maybe later on whenever I get a firmer grasp on philosophy I'll be able to think this out better and express it. The real dilemma for me though is making sense of the theological/religious mess. Everybody claims to have the truth and there's no way to comparison shop.
"Change comes from within," to quote a hot dog salesman. (Or, less cryptically:) God is something you have to come to or pull away from on your own. As fish tick / sfred / nunia /et. al. have noted, there's little point in arguing faith with reason.
I don't know. I'm Catholic (nominally, raised that way by my parents). I like to think that Catholics are different than other brands of Christians, because we can joke about it. Being raised Catholic gave me a negative impression of other Christian faiths though, because far too many of them seemed so... well, stupid, I guess. Restrictive. Overly unfair. I mean, we had rules, but they were sort of like "Don't eat meat on Friday, wink wink, nudge nudge!" There was no fear or reprisal by an angry God. If you forgot, you just confess and it's all good. (This isn't the typical Catholic idea, I know - but it's the one I got from my broad-minded parents and the liberal university parish that had the most impact on my early Catholic experience. Alas, tainted from the beginning!) This has changed though. Part of it has been me - I'm a biologist. I see nature differently than I used to, and I can still recognize the inherent beauty, worth and uniqueness of the universe without needing to call on an omnipotent being to have created all of it. In fact, I find it all the more amazing to think that it occurred
this omnipotent being. The second thing is the way in which religion has been taken over by fringe groups. We all know that within any religion there are wonderful, nice, caring thoughtful people, but they are currently being outshouted by the mean narcissistic assholes that point at the Bible and focus solely on the messages of hatred - anti-gay, anti-intellectualism, anti-tolerance, and then they have the gall to say that this is what religion is all about. The third thing is the stupidity of much of it. Everything these days is angels and miracles. God gets credit for everything good, of course. Doctors perform lifesaving surgery and it is a miracle - it has nothing to do with medical training, luck and skill, oh no. Infertile couples ignore the fact that God has told them repeatedly they shouldn't breed, then go ahead and call it a miracle when the doctor implants seventeen embryos. Back to God again when the doctor recommends reduction in fetus number - oh no, God wants us to have all 17 at once, that's why we have so many in there! It makes me mad. What is God about - love, or hate? Introspection or ignorance? Is God omnipotent, and if so why does he allow bad things to happen - just to screw with us, to test us, or does he just not give a shit? The message is different depending on who you ask. The only common thread in it all these days is that God wants things to be the way they are, and the way things are always have been (and still are) shitty for the vast majority of humanity. Why? Chance, or God? I look at it all and think to myself, do I want to believe in a God? Part of me - the part that still hopes that magic is real, that wants to believe that Santa Claus really is out there, that I will really see my deceased family, friends and pets again some day - that part of me says yes. The other part of me - the larger, more cynical side - says to myself, if I'm going to believe in a God, I want no part of the one that so many other people are believing in, because I see no good there. None. Am I trying to talk anyone out of believing in God? No, not at all. Am I trying to talk people out of buying into the messages of organized Christianity today? Hell yes. As far as I'm concerned, it's all a bunch of shit. The people preaching it need to go back and re-read the book they hold so dear, re-read the MESSAGE and not focus so much on the words (especially the words in the first half of the book!). -- The above comment is a rambling mess. Don't blame me, I'm tired and need to go to bed.
*applauds above comment* It is all we could ever hope to be as human beings. Honest.
also hearts Dawkins et all
Dear God Please can we have no more 'God' threads on MoFi? Fanks kit P.S. Dawkins says 'hi'.
I'm not snarking, but we seem to be having this discussion once a month. Don't we know each other's position on this back to front by now?
I don't think much of Dawkins' logic, to be honest. You can't prove that there is no god, only that the deities of extant religions do not exist, based upon obvious flaws in their scriptures. The rest of what he has to say seems like wankery, to me. Again, this brings up the argument that I always fall back on: which God are you talking about? What are the meaningful attributes of this being? Are we talking about the first causal prime mover; an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolant god that exists beyond time & space outside of our physical universe, or just some fucking really big old guy in the clouds? The Gnostic God? Catholic God? There is no cohesive definition of god amongst the collective, so discussing it is pointless. Dawkins isn't helping anyone, he's just driving a wedge between already polarised groups, stoking his ego, & trying to sell books, imho. Fuck 'em all, squares on both sides.
John Humphrys in search of
is a new Radio 4 series where Johnny-boy tries to get religious leaders to convince him to believe. The first one with Dr Rowan Williams was poor, because Humphrys asked some weak questions, and Williams gave weak answers, which basically asked Humphrys to have faith. Faith = Hope + Denial of doubt?
, you're absolutely right. We should have a box on the profile for stance on these things. Muteboy, male, confused. Actually no, that implies I'm bi-curious.
I actually wrote a series of novels which attempt to explore all of this terrain as I see it (I started when I was 12, so they're in desperate need of editing, so there's no hope of publication until I go back and rework them). I believe there is a way to combine logic and faith. I tried to work some of it out in a dialogue called
. At the risk of being chastised for a long post, here's an excerpt: === “Is there any way to establish a third option?” I asked. “Between dogmatic religious fanaticism and total withdrawal from questions of spirituality? Can you make a leap of faith and stay grounded in reality?” She chuckled. “Only if you’re willing to strand yourself over a chasm of uncertainty. If your feet are on the ground, but you’re reaching for god, your midsection is hovering over an abyss.” “Yeah, but that’s true for everyone. I mean, athiesm isn’t a guarantee, either. You agree that there’s such a thing as happiness.” “But it’s more of a stretch to believe in a god. There’s more uncertain ground to cover.” “Fine. But suppose we develop a kind of scientific faith, one based not on ancient books or hallucinations or orders barked at us in a special building once a week, but on our own experience with a living divine presence.” “What do you mean?” “Let’s say I stay up really late one night writing,” I said. “Because I can’t sleep. Even though I have to get up early the next day.” “Okay. So?” “Let’s say the reason I can’t sleep is because I drank a lot of coffee that evening and it’s keeping me awake. Doesn’t it make sense to say that there’s something about the story that needs to get itself written? That this is compelling me to work on it?” “Don’t be ridiculous,” she said. “You decided to drink the coffee.” “Yes, I did.” “Well, why did you make that choice?” “For a number of reasons. I was hanging out in a coffee shop with friends. But part of it was because I wanted to be awake and enjoy the evening.” “So how does this have anything to do with what you’re writing?” “Because!” I exclaimed. “Once I leave the coffee shop and go home and check my email and watch some TV and get ready for bed, I’m still wide awake and have no choice but to break out the pen and paper and have at it.” “Is there something especially compelling about the subject you’re writing on?” “Yes, but that’s only one factor out of many. And that’s the point. The order emerges when we’re able to recognize so many factors pointing in a certain direction, seemingly without any coordination. The order we create — or recognize, depending on your point of view — is an acknowledgment of that pattern, combined with a hypothesis about where it’s going, with a touch of our own hopes and desires thrown in.
the divine. That’s how we relate to the universe rationally and spiritually at the same time. The chasm we’re stretched across isn’t empty, it’s filled with elements from both sides of the leap. Where they meet is the river of belief. It’s not fact, but it’s not fake either. It’s kind of in-between. A sort of quantum wellspring of reality. It’s where happiness comes from. It’s a turbulent mixture of tangible evidence and . . . something else."
I've been around long enough that it's worthwhile to have a spiritual component to life, in one way or another. The the One Great Truth that allows me to deal with debates such as thse is "God is not who you think God is". Dawkins thinks he believes in a remotely possible god - that gives him an out, but it's only a god within his scope of thought. As soon as he does that, it becomes trapped by his own psyche. Having read at least one of his works, I'd say he has a rational worship of science, and an irrational denial of religion.
It's all in the mind.
God, I hate Dawkins...and yes, I'm an atheist. Dawkins has no business calling himself a scientist or a proponent of the scientific method when his arguments are so logically flawed. He wishes to scientifically test the existence of God. Fine. Either an omnipotent God exists or He doesn't...but how can science prove or disprove either possibility? If He doesn't exist then scientific study will obviously show no evidence of His existence, which is the case. If He does exist, and is omnipotent, then He has the power to make all scientific study show no evidence of His existence, which is the case. (Cover his tracks, as it were). The end result is inconclusive to everyone except Dawkins, who obviously has some anti-religion axe to grind with his pointless screeds.
I suspect, as an atheist, that just as there is such a thing as, say, poetic truth, which wouldn't stand up to rigorous rational or scientific analysis but still reflects something true; so there are areas of experience which are best expressed religiously. The problems begin when people start trespassing on other peoples' turf. Or, think of love (for example): a scientific study could tell you exactly which chemicals are doing what and where they're doing it, but couldn't tell you much about the actual experience of being in love.
based upon obvious flaws in their scriptures
And are there any scriptures that are not oviously flawed? I daresay they all are. POKéMORD, I CHOOSE YOU! *zing*
No one can convince another of God. I mean, so what's the point?
And if they can, then they must be *a* fucking God!
Small rule of thumb that I typically abide by: avoid discussions of religion and child upbringing on online communities
What IC said.
hey! I thought we'd all settled this issue a while ago and joined the Church of Chyren?????
nice Fez, Medusa!
Oh, for Fang's sake! Look, all you have to do is boil up some pasta. Drain.
All gaze upon and worship the the glorious unworldly image of the Flying Spaghetti Monster!*
End of doubt. End of thread. *
anyone attempting to sell said image on Ebay will be consigned to the noodly demons in the sticky depths of a pasta hell
I hate the whole FSM meme more than I hate Dawkins.
Goat on a Pole, however, is a religion I wholeheartedly endorse.
Convince me there is a God.
Oh, right. Like that's MY job.
Nick's right. Platypussies ... platypi ... platy-whatever-the-plural-is-i-don't-feel-like-googling aside, that's pretty much your decision. I made mine. Nick's made his (or maybe not - not really my problem). Figure it out for yourself.
Anyone who doesn't believe that the humble platypus is proof of the existence of a humorous deity really needs to go see Jesus about a sense of humor.
My 2-year old was dressed as a platypus last night for halloween. It was more fun that I had anticipated - all of the clueless parents scratching their heads as they said, "plat-a-what? Is that a dinosaur?" He was darned cute, though, he didn't quite like the bill.
My Church has Chyren for Pope and Rocket88 as Cardinal.
...and Mord for kicking behinds up and down the countryside.
Wait...I thought Quid was Pope. Now I'm all confoosled.
As far as God goes, speaking from the point of view of a Hindu, I can believe strongly in my religion, its tenants, and the power of religion. However, I am still mostly a science-oriented person. God (Brahman) is illogical, yes, but so are many of things. This illogicality dosen't stop me from living or believing. (From Wikipedia): This Supreme Cosmic Spirit or Absolute Reality called Brahman is said to be eternal, genderless, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, and ultimately indescribable in human language. It can be at best described as infinite Being, infinite Consciousness and infinite Bliss. Strictly speaking, Brahman is a Principle rather than a deity. However, because abstract principles can be difficult to grasp, Hinduism teaches that it is not wrong to think of Brahman in anthropomorphic terms. Thus, in Hinduism, one finds many gods and goddesses representing different aspects of the infinite principle of Brahman.
"It can be at best described as infinite Being, infinite Consciousness and infinite Bliss. Strictly speaking, Brahman is a Principle rather than a deity. However, because abstract principles can be difficult to grasp, Hinduism teaches that it is not wrong to think of Brahman in anthropomorphic terms." How infinitely sensible.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama: "This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness."
I like the idea that there is a god. I like to use things that science cannot explain as my belief in the existence of god. As I understand it, there are some birds or something that land on the exact same trees when they migrate. Scientists can't figure out how they mark the trees and know what ones to go to. For now, that is the basis of my belief in god. When scientists figure that one out, I will move onto something else.
! we owl missed ye!
I am equally pleased at the quote above, attributed to the Dalai Lama, and the return of Bernockle, a monkey of whom I admired when I was a noob and later missed when he went AWOL. Shots of owl semen are on me. So to speak.
...and tonight I realize just how relevant the latest episode of South Park is to this discussion. I was laughing my ass off the whole time, while my wife just sat there, confused, asking who this Dawkins guy was supposed to be. (It wasn't funny to her after I had to explain it - she doesn't follow the evolution literature - but damn did it make me laugh. They even had a Tiktaalik, properly labeled as such, in the classroom chart used to explain evolution of humans - excuse me - I meant "retarded frog monkeys".)
May owls rejoice! Hiya Bernockle!
It is sometimes said that agnosticism is the easy way out. An agnostic has no need to profess, defend or refute a particular religion yet a spiritual outlook remains possible. I've always been a lazy bastard. I find the words of the Dalai Lama above most encouraging, thanks fish tick.
I believe in mystery and beauty and awe. We feel the throbbing inner ache of new love; we weep at the death of loved ones; we thrill at having new thoughts or creating new things; we ponder our place in the universe; we are thankful for our families, friends, and neighbors; our jaws drop at sunsets and stunning vistas. Whether there's a god or not hardly matters. Religion is good insofar as it gets folks to take the time to notice the things that provoke or embody mystery and beauty and awe. Religion is not the only means to that. But those who are so strident in condemning religion are throwing out the baby with the bathwater, methinks.
Regardless of where you got your fine ideas, if you cling to any of them, you're trapped.
-- Taizan Maezumi
I can get behind Brahman. Yeah, the Fez. I shall soon endeavor to post a picture of His Holiness Grandmaster Euripides Trouser Android the 1st of The Chariot (aka Chymo) in his Religious Vestments (Fez, Hawaiian shirt, Monkeyfilter T-shirt & Yoga Pants) bearing the Most Esteemed Moustache of Liberty, backed by the Holy Flag of the 3 Red Jolly Rogers. As soon as Mrs Chy brings back the camera & will sit still enough to take pix.
I can get behind Brahman
That's quite a party trick.
Well, it's all due to my nonlocality.
i read the probability thread then this one. all i can say is ha!
! Funny, I referenced you in my
the other day.
Yes, welcome back, bernockle.
Regardless of where you got your fine ideas, if you cling to any of them, you're trapped.
Holy shit, bees. That one really got to me.
God (Brahman) is illogical, yes, but so are many of things. This illogicality dosen't stop me from living or believing.
I know invisible pink unicorns don't make sense, but that doesn't stop me from believing in them. How does that make sense? Oh, it doesn't; it's nonsense, and that's fine. I believe nonsense, and that makes a lot of sense. Whaaa, huh??? You KNOW you're believing nonsense, and you're somehow okay with that? Why? The bottom line is that people believe because they WANT to believe. (This was the final stage in every single religious debate of my younger years to went to conclusion, usually followed by "and who are you to tell me I can't!") Wanting something to be true, however, has zero bearing on whether it is, in fact, true. I want a pony.
I had a weird experience the other day. I live in the deep South, a born-again atheist (VERY religious family) among true believers. I've come to tolerate, even enjoy, the religious local flavor, as it amuses me in a cultural way. Well, the other day my consulting firm had a company meeting, complete with buffet dinner. Before we ate, the president led the company of 30 or so people in group prayer. Everybody lowered their head, closed their eyes, as the president proceeded to thank God for watching over us and providing us with this bounty of chicken fingers and shrimp cocktails. Except me, of course. As I looked around, pondering the closed eyes and lowered heads, it hit me like a two ton heavy thing: Everybody in the room is talking to an imaginary being.
Everybody around me is insane.
It creeped me right the fuck out. But the chicken fingers were tasty.
When they say, "Amen," that's when you follow with "Praise Batman." *sends Sludge an imaginary pony*
If you believe in it, then it's real TO YOU!
I find that I feel similarly about the belief in god/non belief in god thing as I do about the desire or lack thereof to procreate (as a woman) people ALWAYS question a woman's decision not to and/or lack of desire to have children with near-comical disbelief. I do not question other women's desire to have children (altho, quite honestly, I do not understand it) so why can't they leave me alone about it?? on the same note, I have no (sort of) problem with people believing what they want to about life the universe and everything but just shut up about it, and I won't try to convince you you're a stupid, manipulated sheep. I find nothing so alienating as proselytization, why do so many (but not all) of the "faithful" feel it is incumbent upon them to get in the private business of others' beliefs or lacks thereof?? /end rant
/goes to cook some noodles and offer praise to the FSM
Hold on...wait just a minute here. Are you saying you
want to have children??? Why the hell not? What's wrong with you? It's what you were made for! I'm sure it's just a phase you'll outgrow, but I hope it's not too late for you when you do, dear.
actually, my family's not even that bad. I've had worse from
. and my FAVE, oh yeah, I love this one, random dudes telling me I should have babies cause they think I'm attractive. so what, I should make more females for them to creepily objectify? OH YEAH THAT'S A GREAT REASON TO HAVE A BABY...
maybe I shouldn't have had that coffee this morning...
Medusa: Keep in mind, you can harvest them for organs, so... yeah. Just something to think about. It's a seller's market is all I'm saying.
As I looked around, pondering the closed eyes and lowered heads,
...my thoughts turn to seeing how much food i could sneak off my neighbour's plate.
Oh, and speaking of Hinduism, I always wondered what Brahman thought of the Untouchables.
Brahman's a big fan of Sean Connery.
I read a brilliant argument once against the concept of "playing God." It proposed that once we have the abitlity to play God, we cannot help but do so. Choosing to do nothing with the power is still an active choice, with consequences equivilent to those of using the power at full force.
If God is omniscient and omnipotent (equivalent, really), then everything,
that happens, is the Will of God. God wanted your grandfather to get cancer and didn't want the chemotheropy didn't work. If He wanted differently, it would have been so. He's omnipotent. He wanted my girlfriend to have no gag reflex and lo, it is so. (yay!) He not only saved you from that nasty car wreck, but he caused it to begin with. Prayer is pointless, since you can neither provide an omniscient being with additional information nor alter the behavior of an omnipotent being. Following the rules of a religion are pointless, as He can change the rules at any time or even lie to weed out the gullible. Why would He do that? Who are you to question an omniscient being, ya mortal dumbass!! I agree that God cannot be
proven to not exist, nor can anything. There might, somewhere in the universe, exist giant taco people that crap ice cream, but you'll never prove there aren't unless you visit every corner of the universe. (I can't believe people still
trot that argument out!) But things can be
proven not to exist, such as a four-sided triangle. An omnipotent God that interacts with our universe in a limited sense (preserving freewill) cannot logically exist.
"You cannot petition the Lord with prayer!" Sludge, the imaginary friend thing gets me too.
"There might, somewhere in the universe, exist giant taco people that crap ice cream..."
Ah, yes, the Giant Taco People of Fomalhaut Alpha. A highly advanced race with a rare & delicate civilization. In the Southern hemisphere it is chocolate, in the North, Vanilla. At the equator, lemon sorbet.
such as a four-sided triangle
They exist in 3D Land. Your people call then "pyramids."
limited sense (preserving freewill)
One word, rather, doctrine: Karma. As for what Brahman thought of the Untouchables--what did he have to do with it at all? At the core of every religion is love and compassion, it's universal ethics. It's people and people wanting power that fucks things up. Gandhi did call the Untouchables the Dalit--the children of God. Thankfully, the caste system is disinergrating and dissapearing in Modern-day India, even if there are many parts of India that still cling to it.