Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Given America's reputation as a nation populated — and run — by an extraordinary number of religious fanatics, I find it both comforting (on behalf of secular Americans) and frustrating (on behalf of me and other secular Brits) to be reminded of the separation of church and state enshrined in the US constitution which keeps religion out of schools. Today it was this piece on Cleveland.com that brought it to mind. Love the last paragraph!

The problem with this country (USA) is it is being run by hypocrites. People who say they are Godly but in deed they prove to be Godless.
By the way, Simon doesn't bug me at all. I enjoy his style. I don't understand atheism, but I like his style nonetheless.
It's funny you should say that Chris, about the supposedly godly actually being godless. I was saying to a friend of mine only last night that my problem is not with the truly sincere believers out there, who are clearly following their consciences, just as I am. My beef is with the hypocrites — those who tick the box because it seems like the right thing to do, or because it will get them what they want, rather than because they have actually thought about it and concluded that they have belief.

By the way, just as you don't understand atheism, I CAN'T understand theism. But it seems to me that you should have a better understanding of atheism than I do of theism — who was it who said 'I contend that we are both atheists, it's just that I believe in one fewer god than you do'? Ipso facto, surely you have more experience of atheism than I have of theism?
I suppose I do. I've never not believed in God, but there have been times when I didn't live my life as if he were very important.

I find its really not very productive to talk an athiest into theism. Something in their life has to change in order for their world view to change. That's why I don't pound on the scriptures. It becomes a circular argument for the other side. I argue the existence of God by using God's book. It doesn't work for logicians and folks inclined to be sceptical.

The biggest non-biblical evidence of God is that which is all around us. There is evidence of bio-architecture and complex systems that reveal intricate design. Science can take us back in time...to a point. Beyond that, it has no answers. Creation vs Evolution? That is a non-starter. They are not mutually exclusive things. The bible does not say that humankind cannot have evolved. In fact, an element of creation that gives evidence of design and architecture and therefore a designer or architect is that fact that as an organism, we can adapt to circumstance, or evolve to meet the demands of survival.

But you can't look at your kids and the animating principles that make them individuals and conclude they exist by happenstance. This is not logical.

And logic is the name of your game, is it not? Mankind created the car, to give a simplistic example, and the car is a purposeful invention. Its components were designed and manufactured to achieve a purpose, to move humanity from point A to point B. Someone a millenium from now could look at a car and conclude with no additional evidence that this device was "created" for a purpose. Same with almost anything else we create. It is therefore not logical to look at our ownselves and conclude that we spontaneously appeared out of the primordial soup and evolved to that which we see today.

Only humanity is capable of such arrogance.
It's just all too easy, though, don't you think? We look at the complex nature of the world around us and it's hard to explain. Combine this with a hefty dose of wishful thinking and bingo — we don't have to bother thinking about how all this wonder came to be. We can stop trying to get our heads round the complexity of it all… god made it! Right, that's settled, we can all go off now and do something more interesting. No matter that there is absolutely no evidence, that all religions have their own different versions of the creation story...

By the way, you say: 'Something in their life has to change in order for their world view to change'. Isn't that something usually some sort of catastrophic event, a death perhaps? One of the most upsetting things about religion in my book is the way that it preys on the vulnerable.
People prey on people.

I look around and think its impossible to explain without God. Does that stop me from learning? No. I have my PhD. I will always be learning. The more I understand of the physical universe, the more I am convinced there was a creator of it. Everything is subject to creation. Everything around us was created; the houses, the cars, the man made stuff, us from our parents, the birds from their parents, the trees from seedlings. Everything has a starting point and there is a First Cause for everything.

As for not believing because of no evidence. How often in life have you done things with insufficient evidence? I would think daily.

I believe there is plenty of evidence. Many are just blind to it. Its like in this country, if something has a Replican label on it, its all good. Democrats look at it and its all bad. People are blinded by their prejudices. They will not look at anything that doesn't fit their world view.

The funny thing about truth is that it does not bend to world view. It is what it is. It's up to people to find it and objectively understand it for what it is. Just because you can't get your mind around it, doesn't mean you should stop looking for it. I'm sure you would agree with that.
Y'know, I don't agree with you on that. It's you guys who are so obsessed with finding the 'truth'. I'm happy to get on with living the one life, without fretting over how we got here or what may or may not come next. Given that neither of us will ever know for sure, what does it matter? Without meaning to be unduly rude, as Bertrand Russell said: 'Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones'.

What was your PhD in, by the way?
Exercise Physiology and Bio-Chemistry.

That's the thing though, and I know you don't buy it. What I'm saying is that what we have is the truth. We're not searching for it. We have it.

I'm well versed in Bertrand Russell, particularly why he wasn't a Christian. His arguments are muddy and not up to the level of his other work.

Anyways, I wish you well.
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