Latest Arguments with Theists


These are mostly (all?) from posts to alt.atheism.moderated

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From: randallg@wimsey.com (randall g)                                                                     
Subject: Problems of Evil and suffering with an all-good/powerful God!                                       
Date: 05/08/95


In article <3oe73a$clm@aurora.engr.LaTech.edu>, ray@engr.LaTech.edu (Bill Ray) wrote:

>Evil is not a created thing.  It is an attitude, "created" in 
>the mind of a free being.  God need to do nothing for evil
>to come into existence, you create evil every day without
>His assistance.  


I do, do I?

This is probably what irritates me the most about Christianity. The
notion that humans are all born in sin, steeped in sin, and spend their
lives sinning awake or asleep.

The notion that God's judgement is sure and swift, and that as a result
of this constant life-long sinning every human DESERVES and will invariably
receive an eternity of torture after they die.

The notion that the only way out is to throw yourself on the mercy of
this god, to admit that you are the basest of creatures, to plead
abjectly for forgiveness, and spend the rest of your life on your 
knees with the threat of eternal torment hanging over your head, while
actually LOVING the deity that set it up this way, because you are 
so thankful that he has spared you in his great mercy.

The additional notion that those who consider themselves "saved"
are now qualified to judge every other human on earth, even ones 
they have no personal knowledge of.


What a load of crap.

Sorry, Bill, but I will never buy a deity that requires such 
psychological slavery.

And by the way, I didn't create any evil today. And neither did the
vast majority of humans.




randall g   http://www.wimsey.com/~randallg

When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky
When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea
When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
	- James



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From: randallg@wimsey.com (randall g)                                                                     
Subject: Re: Atheist Songs - a database for your perusal - New & Improved!                                       
Date: 06/13/95


I've scoured the last few weeks of alt.atheism.moderated and 
compiled a list of bands/musicians and their song lyrics, 
opinions, or whatever else anyone cared to say. My vision is 
to create a database, linked by artist/subject/song/type of 
music. 

http://www.wimsey.com/~randallg/asongs.cgi

You may have seen an announcement similar to this a couple 
of weeks ago. However, check it out again. The new version is 
an actual database of artists and bands. There is a form 
which anyone can use to add an entry of their own - opinions, 
lyrics, whatever you think relevant.

Why go to all this trouble, you ask? Well, partly as a plug 
(I do this sort of thing for a living) and partly because 
there was a need (for me at least) and partly because it was 
fun to set up. An unpaid labour of love, you might say.


And by the way, if you are a severe Christian "slumming" 
around in the porno/atheist world on the net, you may be 
deeply offended by some of the material contained there. 
It's not my job to ensure that you, or your children, never 
see this stuff. You have been warned. 

Please enjoy! Make submissions! Let me know what you think!


randall g   http://www.wimsey.com/~randallg

When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky
When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea
When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
	- James



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From: randallg@wimsey.com (randall g)                                                                     
Subject: Re: Creation of Consciousness ?                                                                         
Date: 06/21/95


In article <3ri7rm$m0f@stratus.skypoint.net>, psonnek@skypoint.com (Patrick Sonnek) wrote:
>Virk Shakeel (3sv12@qlink.queensu.ca) wrote:
>
>: The instant we die the amino acids and protiens are in the same 
>: arrangment as well as the DNA, their is more to consciousness then mere 
>: arrangment of matter.
>
>Your forgetting one thing.  When we die, our cellular processess stop.  
>our DNA, and amino acids begin to break down almost immediatly.  when the 
>process stops the consciousness also stops.  just like when the Electric 
>power plant shutsdown, the light bulb stops glowing, even though the bulb 
>itself hasn't changed.


Not only that, but there is no "instant" when we animals dies. It happens over
time, depending on trauma and deteriorating bodily functions, from
   - almost instant, ie micro/nanoseconds, as in being at ground zero in nuclear blast
   - to seconds, as in the case of decapitation
   - to minutes, as in the case of sudden massive stroke
   - to hours, days, months, or even years in the case of various types of trauma/disease

Watching someone in a coma's brain waves stop is not at all instantaneous.



randall g   http://www.wimsey.com/~randallg

When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky
When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea
When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
	- James



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From: randallg@wimsey.com (randall g)                                                                     
Subject: Numinous experiences                                                                                
Date: 06/22/95


In article , rgazik@quapaw.astate.edu (RayBoy) wrote:
>Many people (not all) of my acquaintance who are" religious" are in it
>because they have encountered the numinous  or, at least,
>are convinced that they have. For these types there will not be an        
>alternative to religion unless these experiences can be duplicated in some
>sense.


It is quite possible to duplicate the numinous experience with the proper 
combination of:
    environment
    exercise
    recreational mind-altering drugs, such as marijuana or lsd
    there may be others...

Each person's "recipe" may be different, but I submit that the experience,
for those who attempt and achieve it, can be indistinguishable in any real 
way from the "numinous". Also, for those who have an immediate problem with
drugs that happen to be illegal but are also not dangerous, I understand 
there are plenty of legal substances that can also be used.

I do think that such mind-altering drugs, while perhaps not necessary
to the experience, can certainly promote or help cause them in our minds.
We don't walk around experiencing infinite beauty, joy and one-ness with 
the universe all the time ...

I have had interesting arguments with theists comparing our "numinous"
experiences, and I have yet to find a describable quality about them that
is significantly different, physically and emotionally speaking. Indeed
in many cases I believe I have experienced them to a much deeper degree
(they usually don't add drugs to the equation).

Now, before you assume that I am just a mind-ruined drug addict, I should
add that in my case, while such experiences have proven to be reproducible,
they have occured rarely enough for them to remain "special".

Any comments?

(I guess I'll never be able to run for President now...)


randall g   http://www.wimsey.com/~randallg

When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky
When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea
When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
	- James



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From: randallg@wimsey.com (randall g)                                                                     
Subject: Re: TRUTH                                                                                               
Date: 06/23/95

In article <3sc112$arh@newsbf02.news.aol.com>, dmtrooper@aol.com (Dmtrooper) wrote:
>BIBLE PROPHACYS ARE 100% CORRECT ..... ALWAYS!
>
>As you know, the temple is being rebuilt in jerusalem. 
  [ snip ]
>Now read this with that in mind: rev 11:1-2
  [ snip ]
 

OK, for the sake of argument let's assume you are correct, that the actions
you describe are indeed irrefutably what the rev. verse predicts.

In what way does this show that all biblical prophecies are 100% correct?




>Also
>They are the Muslems that will trample the city for 42 months becouse of
>the peace treaty the Anti-Christ will put into effect solving the coming
>problem will the city Of Jerusalem. You also know that the PLO is tring
>to get back the city, and are now saying that they want to live there
>with the Jews. Well they will, for 3 1/2 years.
>The Time is HERE!

I hope that you can find the time, say 4 years from now, to post on this
topic again...


randall g   http://www.wimsey.com/~randallg

When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky
When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea
When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
	- James



********************************************************************************
From: randallg@wimsey.com (randall g)                                                                     
Subject: Re: The Bible's war stories: so what?                                                                   
Date: 06/23/95

In article <3qh3th$7jc@eplet.mira.net.au>, rowlandc@werple03.mira.net.au (Rowland Croucher) wrote:
>
>An 'evangelical' has (roughly) an orthodox approach to (in this case) 
>Christianity.
>
>An 'evangelist' is someone who's trying to _persuade_ another about those 
>beliefs. 
>
>Billy Graham, for example, is both.
>
>Some evangelists are fundamentalists; some aren't. Most fundamentalists 
>are evangelists; some evangelicals are evangelists; some aren't (if you 
>get my point... doesn't matter)
>
>Rowland Croucher



I've just got around to reading this thread, and after reading Rowland's
initial posting, and then several very well presented posts countering it,
I was looking forward to seeing Rowland attempt to address them.

But guess what, the above quote is the only comment Rowland made to the 
8 or 10 replies that were submitted. A nitpicky distinction between the 
meanings of 'evangelist' and 'evangelical'.

I've noticed that Rowland has done this before, submitting a provocative
and often easily refuted article, and then sitting back with no serious
attempt to defend it.

So Rowland, if you are reading this, I have taken the liberty of scanning
all those posts and repeating some of the specific objections to your
original thesis.

Maybe this time you will do the posters' the courtesy of a reply. To not
do so leads one to suspect you aren't able to defend your position, and
perhaps you are just baiting us... 

PS I've only posted parts of the responses, for brevity. If you no longer
have access to the originals, let me know, and I will email you the full
text.

   [ reprints snipped, after all I didn't write them ...]



randall g   http://www.wimsey.com/~randallg

When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky
When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea
When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
	- James



********************************************************************************
From: randallg@wimsey.com (randall g)                                                                     
Subject: Re: The Bible's war stories: so what?                                                                   
Date: 06/26/95

In article <3sgv6r$bu1@eplet.mira.net.au>, rowlandc@werple03.mira.net.au (Rowland Croucher) wrote:

>randall g (randallg@wimsey.com) wrote: : In article
><3qh3th$7jc@eplet.mira.net.au>, rowlandc@werple03.mira.net.au (Rowland
>  Croucher) wrote: 
>
>: Maybe this time you will do the posters' the courtesy of a reply. To not
>: do so leads one to suspect you aren't able to defend your position, and
>: perhaps you are just baiting us... 
>
>Well, yes I am, though I wouldn't have chosen the word 'baiting' for my 
>pedagogical style. Unlike my fundamentalist friends, I would prefer to 
>address issues on the basis of 'how to think' rather than 'what to think'.
>I don't mind issues being 'left up in the air', frankly, if they've 
>stimulated some thinking here and there.

Well, there's no shortage of thinking in this forum, and I think most of
the points you tend to raise have been dealt with often and with vigour
by many excellent thinkers. I do, however, enjoy reading the responses
each time...

Your responses bring up a few issues with me, so here they are:




>Another factor is that my computer has been playing up; and one of my 
>servers removes posts after 24 hours (!! - anybody else have a server who 
>does that?) and I can't follow all facets of the discussions as I'd like to.

You definately need a new ISP. Or, you could read your news offline and 
save the articles for perusal at your pleasure. I do that with a.a.m and 
about 30 other groups, mostly technical, and it takes about 1.5Mb of disk 
per day. I tend to read a whole thread at a time, and I can save news as 
long as I like. Check out the FAQ for alt.usenet.offline-reader, it has 
some good ideas ...

http://www.cis.ohio-state.edu/hypertext/faq/usenet/off-line-readers/usenet/intro/faq.html




>Yes, the Bible is an 'inspired' book, revealing, progressively, who God 
>is. But the phrase 'Word of God', as biblical people used it, refers, 
>generally, not to words-on-paper, but to the dynamic pronouncements
>of prophets who believe they were spokespersons for Yahweh, or the father 
>of Jesus... The phrase 'Word of God' for us should be associated with a 
>person (Jesus) first: a Christian's view of the Bible is derivative from 
>their view of who Jesus is. 

I guess this brings up the obvious problem of having to figure out how
to determine whether someone who claims to be the "voice of God" really
is the "voice of God". You seem to be indicating that the "official"
word of God is subject to some amount of correction over time.

Many, especially recently, have claimed to be such (more and more it seems),
but they are usually embarrassing to the more moderate Christian community.
Do you think there have been any such legitimate "spokespersons" in this 
century, for instance? Or did such revelations end with Jesus, or perhaps
did they end a few hundred years ago, when the written historical record
became much more reliable, making such "prophet's" claims conveniently 
unfalsifiable?

Here's my biggest question: who was the last legitimate prophet, and did 
anyone get him/her on video? If you are in tune with God, how could you
not know this?

In my opinion, the mere fact that it is so easy for any flake with a
powerful personality to assume the prophetic mantle (at least for his
followers, who may number in the thousands or greater), has a lot to 
say about the reliability of that kind of revelation...




>The Genesis flood a legend? I'd prefer to use the word 'saga' (I'm 
>serious). Whether it was a historical event (or, for that matter, whether 
>there was an individual who was Jonah, a good Samaritan etc) doesn't 
>matter. It's a story about being faithful to God: and it's the moral of 
>the story that matters more than its historicity.

Well then you probably agree to a great extent with Joseph Campbell.
And if the historical accuracy of these fables is not particularly 
important, or even real, why do you feel the need to swallow the rest 
of the dogma? What is it about Christian myths that are so much more 
legitimate than the myths, similar as they are morally speaking, of 
other, different religions?




>: In article , ai141@freenet.carleton.ca
>(Paul Pfalzner) wrote: : Rowland Croucher (rowlandc@werple03.mira.net.au)
>writes: : > : > Finally, the mystics (who aren't/weren't into the same
>kind of left-brain : > logic we use here) might have a view-on-reality
>that is closer-to-reality : > - see my posts about fundamentalism and
>atheism both having the same : > problem (too much left-brain logic etc.)
>: > : > Shalom! : > : > Rowland Croucher
>: > 
>
>: The notion that "right brain" and "left brain" explains anything is really
>: terribly simplistic, and not supported by cognitive science.
>
>Agree, but is there a better way to explain what I was trying to say?

Well, yes, if you are going into detail about how the brain works, you
have to use the language of brain science. Anything else is just decorative
handwaving, unless it is useful in describing the subject, in which case 
it becomes brain science.

Otherwise, it will rightly be ignored, as it has no truth value beyond
the usual rhetoric or poetry.




>Thanks, Randall, for preserving this thread and keeping me honest. 

You're welcome. Thank you for responding in such depth.




>(PS. Why is Randall a name _much_ more popular in the U.S. than anywhere 
>in the English-speaking world. I don't know any Australian Randalls?
>I don't mean to be rude... just wondering). 

It's not rude at all (plus I'm quite insensitive anyway) but I
have no idea why my name may be more popular in the US (I'm Canadian,
but practically speaking there isn't much difference). I have only 
ever met one other Randall, and my parents are Dutch, and to this day 
I have _NO_ idea how they thought up my name... (I've never thought 
to ask...)



>Shalom!

And to you. Thanks for the effort.



randall g   http://www.wimsey.com/~randallg

When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky
When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea
When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
	- James



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From: randallg@wimsey.com (randall g)                                                                     
Subject: Re: A "veteran" speaks on new atheism newsgroups                                                        
Date: 06/27/95

In article <3sfu4p$ipv@locutus.rchland.ibm.com>, lwloen@rchland.ibm.com (Larry Loen) wrote:

>I am actually going to have to do some work, so I don't have a lot
>of time for this discussion, and probably won't respond in
>public to counterpoints, but I have been asked, as one of the
>"veterans" of alt.atheism.moderated to speak in its behalf.
>
>I would oppose, without a very good argument, eliminating this
>newsgroup.  

>This group seems to have a good following and a lot of fun had 
>all around.  People who participate seem to enjoy it.  We get
>atheists and Moslems and Christians and people who are hard to
>categorize and it all is strenuous fun.



For whatever it's worth, I'm a "veteran" too, being an avid reader
and occasional poster for over three years now, which in Internet
terms is a long time (longer than many of the current regular
contributors, that is...)

I didn't realize that this group was up for demolition, frankly 
I think that if people keep posting to it then it'll probably 
continue to exist...

I don't know what particularly different purpose would be served
by a "more" moderated group - I guess the idea is that all theistic 
posts of any sort would be dropped. That's not what I want, though, 
I enjoy reading the posts of theists who can think, as well
as discussions that are only among atheists...

Please count this as a "NO" vote for demolition, or point me to
where I can place my vote...


randall g   http://www.wimsey.com/~randallg

When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky
When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea
When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
	- James



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From: randallg@wimsey.com (randall g)                                                                     
Subject: Re: TRUTH                                                                                               
Date: 06/27/95

In article <3smko1$pco@sundog.tiac.net>, jbyrd@tiac.net (Jim Byrd) wrote:
>
>Shifting topics slightly:  A lot of the militia groups talk about
>fighting "the new world order".  It is a popular prediction among
>fundamentalists that the Antichrist will set up a one-world
>government.  So anything that can be interpreted to be in that
>direction (United Nations, the Trilateral commission, etc) falls under
>the category of things helping the antiChrist.


What about the European Community?

I saw some religious tv show a while back, where the preacher had recently
returned from a European trip (this was around the time of the Maastricht
treaty). He was livid. He had all kinds of bible prophecies relating the
12 European countries to the Antichrist and the Antichrist's world wide
government. He seemed to think that the number 12 was particularly 
significant (I wonder what he thinks now, with additional countries applying
for, and being granted, admission?).

It was a little hilarious...



randall g   http://www.wimsey.com/~randallg

When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky
When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea
When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
	- James



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From: randallg@wimsey.com (randall g)                                                                     
Subject: Hate Mail Reply - SOLVE@RONNEBY.SE please read                                                                
Date: Tue, 20 Jun 1995 17:50:53 -100
Hi, I'm the guy who set up the atheist music database on the web. (check
it out at http://www.wimsey.com/~randallg/asongs.cgi). Apparently that
also involves becoming the target of twisted fundies as well. So here is
my reply, out in the open and public.

Now I realize that this could just have been a joke, but I hate to pass up a
chance to educate...

Anyone else, please email me anything you want me to see, as I don't have 
enough time to read this group.


Mail sent to root@ronneby.se:

Hello. I am attempting to reply to a message which was sent to me by
SOLVE@RONNEBY.SE, but my mail keeps bouncing. If this is a real user, could
you let me know what the correct email address is? Or, could you just
forward my message to him/her? Please note, I am not complaining about the
mail, I would just like to reply to it.

Here is the original message header:
Return-Path: 
Received: from ns.softnet.se [192.176.122.7] 
	by vanbc.wimsey.com with smtp 
	(Smail-3.1.29.1 #29) id m0sO0on-0001EWC; Tue, 20 Jun 95 03:46 PDT
Received: from #y$  by ns.softnet.se with SMTP (8.6.12/1.2-eef)
	id LAA16471; Tue, 20 Jun 1995 11:10:02 GMT
Message-Id: <199506201110.LAA16471@ns.softnet.se>
From: SOLVE 
Date: Tue, 20 Jun 95 12:43:39 -700
To: randallg@wimsey.com
Mime-Version: 1.0
X-Mailer: Mozilla/1.0N (Windows)
Content-Type: text/plain;  charset=iso-8859-1
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit
Status:   

Thank you for your help.

Here is my reply (for SOLVE@RONNEBY.SE):



In message <199506201110.LAA16471@ns.softnet.se>, SOLVE@RONNEBY.SE said:
>FUCK YOU

Thank you for your kind words. As you probably read in my homepage, I
appreciate all criticism whether it is constructive, as it usually is, or
completely useless and stupid, as your comments are. In fact, your comments
are so useless, I don't even know what you are referring to, or why on earth
you may want to fuck me. So what I will do is make an assumption. I will
assume that you feel this way because you stumbled across my atheist music
database, because that is the most public and potentially controversial
thing about me. If that is the case, your amazingly negative reaction must
stem from a "fundamentalist" and probably Christian belief that consumes you
and apparently also fills you with hate.

I see you posted from Singapore. I hope the phrase "fuck you" is not the
only English you understand. If so, you may want to get a more educated
Singaporean to help translate this for you.

While it may not be possible to communicate with you in any sort of
intelligent fashion, let me make a few points about the probable level of
understanding that you have of the universe and reality you live in.

- You believe in a supernatural being which is so powerful that it can, and
did, create the universe

- Said being also is infinitely wise and infinitely good

- Said being created the earth and humans in such a way that a lot of
disaster and evil occurs, both as the result of human "free-will" and
natural processes

- Said being demands a level of belief and worshipping from his "subjects"
which any self-respecting person would find repugnant. This "worship"
consists mostly of proclaiming to this being how absolutely great and
perfect you think it is

- If said being doesn't get this level of toadying worship from an
individual, that human soul is cast into a place of eternal torture after death

- An individual can, by living a life of constant toadying and begging,
become one of the few human souls to avoid hell and spend eternity in a
perfect place of ultimate pleasure with this being

- This great being will, if you beg it hard enough, intervene in the natural
processes of the universe on your behalf

- There isn't a single shred of evidence to support any of this, except for
the mangled and imperfectly translated remains of a holy book written by a
tribe of desert wanderers several thousand years ago


It's all just plain stupid and ignorant. I don't usually accuse believers of
this, because I am usually more polite, but apparently with you that is not
a problem.

Open your eyes. You don't have to spend your life on your knees for your
non-existant god. It's not too late to learn to live a love of life, life
for its own sake, life for the sake of yourself, other humans and human
concerns. Anything else is just plain ignorant.

And if you do insist on continuing in your ignorant beliefs, why don't you
study the teachings of Jesus Christ? I understand His message is important
to many Christians. He had a few things to say about peace, love and tolerance,
and you could benefit from the lesson.

I just have one question for you. Do all atheists on the net get this kind
of attention from you, or am I something special? What kind of mail to you
send to the maintainers of The Secular Web, for instance?
(http://freethought.tamu.edu if you didn't already know)
That site must really get you pissed...

Anyway, have a nice life. I hope your twisted beliefs and ignorant
prejudices aren't causing you a lot of day to day strife with other people.

I'll leave you with some words from my .sig, which I have found are
particularly meaningful:


randall g   http://www.wimsey.com/~randallg

When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky
When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea
When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
	- James



********************************************************************************
From: randallg@wimsey.com (randall g)                                                                     
Subject: Re: Creation of Consciousness ?                                                                               
Date: Wed, 28 Jun 1995 01:28:33 -100
In article <3spd8u$jri@pandora.sdsu.edu>, bfunk@sundown.sdsu.edu (Solitary Bird) wrote:
>In article <3sfb32$llj@mother.usf.edu>
>sallen@dudley.lib.usf.edu (Scot Allen (CIRC)) writes:
>
>>  why do so many assume consciousness comes to exist at the
>> moment (or before) of conception?  Why can't it come later?  It's easy for
>> me to believe it can come later,  but others seem to have a problem with the
>> idea.
>
>Awareness arrives at conception. Consciousness comes later when
>awareness has focused upon an object. The objects change all of the
>time, so in consciousness there is movement in time and a feeling of
>becoming. In awareness there is no time and being is here and now.


This is poor-to-middling poetry, and not even remotely descriptive,
in a real sense. Let's check this bit by bit:

>Awareness arrives at conception.

Huh? There's not the slightest bit of evidence for this, and I would
expect that a newly fertilized human egg exhibits about as much 
awareness as an amoeba. Also, how would you compare the awareness
level of a fertilized human egg with the egg of a chimpanzee, or a cat,
or a snake, or mosquito? Perhaps we are using vastly different meanings
of the word awareness?


>Consciousness comes later when awareness has focused upon an object.

This makes no sense. What object? The birth mother's face? The
priest's hands during baptism?


>The objects change all of the time, so in consciousness there is 
>movement in time and a feeling of becoming.

This also makes no sense. I am unable to parse this sentence. It is
apparently written in English but conveys no meaning.


>In awareness there is no time and being is here and now.

Spaced-out city Arizona...



randall g   http://www.wimsey.com/~randallg

When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky
When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea
When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
	- James



********************************************************************************
From: randallg@wimsey.com (randall g)                                                                     
Subject: Re: What do you want to happen when you leave this mortal life?                                               
Date: Wed, 28 Jun 1995 18:52:46 -100
In article <3ss04i$qc0@ixnews6.ix.netcom.com>, gbrow@ix.netcom.com (Gerald Brown) wrote:

>I went to a funeral yesterday for a man who was the next door neighbor 
>of my parents.
   [ snip bits on a likely disbeliever receiving Christian platitudes
     of eternal life and grace with J.C., which he wouldn't have believed anyway ]


When I finally get around to it, my will is going to say something like:

- My mortal remains are to be cremated
- There will be no church service of any kind, and "God" is not to 
  be thanked or even mentioned. I would ask that they throw a 
  big party, and invite everyone who knew, and liked, me.
- The ashes left over are to be taken by my friends, at their convenience,
  to the top of Black Tusk (a magnificent hiking mountain in southwest 
  BC, an area where I had some of my best numismatic experiences) and 
  scattered to the four winds. Although it would be a lot of work for 
  them, I want them to experience the sight once again, with me 
  streaming out of a little brass urn (get lots of pictures!)
- My friends will be assured that I will try, in the afterlife, to 
  contact them all personally in whatever way possible. I will do my
  best to contact all of them in turn, and communicate specific ideas to each
  of them that are particular to their relationships with me. They are
  to compare notes and try to collect evidence for an afterlife. If 
  I have any kind of an existance which can affect earthly things, and
  if I have any free will, I will make it my eternal purpose to do this. 
  (I will also try to contact Larry Loen, Eric Pepke, Virk Shakeel and
  Bill Ray) so you can report the results to this group.
  Note that, like Houdini, I don't believe I will be successful.



randall g   http://www.wimsey.com/~randallg

When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky
When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea
When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
	- James



********************************************************************************
From: randallg@wimsey.com (randall g)                                                                     
Subject: Re: Why Evil Under God?                                                                                       
Date: Wed, 5 Jul 1995 16:44:46 -1000
In article  wrote:
>On Tue, 20 Jun 1995, Organic Machinery wrote:
>
>Well I think if you do 'respect' someone then you must allow them free 
>will, even if that means that they'll suffer physically, emotionally and 
>spiritually.  Most humans have worked out that you can't make others 
>decisions for them.  

Most humans don't have the incredible powers that you believe your god has.
Doesn't it know ahead of time that a certain large percentage of its creation
is going to oppose it and consequently condemn themselves to eternal
torture? Did it not know this when it created the universe?

And comparing humans with your god, as Bill Ray has (hopefully) learned, 
gets you nowhere.




>In 'The World According To Garp' Robin Williams 
>writes the story of a man with magic gloves, with the gloves he can cure 
>his children, make his wife happy and generally make sure there are no 
>problems in his life, he can even cure himself.  However he can't really 
>touch anything and in the end he takes off his gloves so he can touch 
>things, even though this means that he then dies.  If we lived as 'robots 
>or puppets' then we wouldn't really live.

This story tells us nothing about the question at hand, or the nature of your
deity. What are you saying: that with increased power to do good (or perhaps
less ability to do bad) must come a personal, physical, and insurmountable loss?

I don't see how this follows, or why I should think of this as saying anything
in particular about reality, or our inherent limitations.




>> Or how about this -- create a universe without suffering, but still allows
>> entities to make choices -- free will doesn't ONLY cover issues of suffering?
>> We don't have complete "free will" anyway -- for example, I can't expand my
>> body to three times its original size just by saying the word "flubber," even
>> though I freely choose to do so.
>
>Well we could have a universe where we can choose what colour tie we wear 
>but we can't do anything nasty, but I think this is a trivial kind of 
>free will.  However you are obviously right that there are limitations on 
>our free will, and we can have some of our choices taken away from us by 
>others.  We still have the choice to think evil though.  Interesting 
>question...

It sure is, and one which no theist has adequately explained away. Our 
free will is limited, if only inherently, by our physical limitations. 
I couldn't, even if I wanted to (and I'm sure there have been those that did),
kill every human on earth. Some have killed millions, or tens of millions,
but didn't come close to wiping out the species. Would they have killed 
more if they could have? Probably. There is a limit to free will: it's
called reality.

Think about it for a while, and tell us if you remain a Christian, and if 
so, why? Why couldn't reality be a little different, in ways that would
limit the amount of collateral damage that goes on? What kind of faith could 
possibly survive this kind of analysis?

You must believe in a god which is neither all-powerful nor all-good, and 
then the obvious question is: why believe in it at all, especially when 
in addition there is ZERO physical evidence of any kind?



randall g   http://www.wimsey.com/~randallg

When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky
When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea
When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me
	- James



********************************************************************************
From: randallg@wimsey.com (randall g)                                                                     
Subject: Re: Why Evil Under God?                                                                                       
Date: Wed, 26 Jul 1995 09:02:17 -100
rdavis@cybernetics.net (Ron Davis) wrote:

>randall g (randallg@wimsey.com) wrote:
>>: Think about it for a while, and tell us if you remain a Christian, and if 
>>: so, why? Why couldn't reality be a little different, in ways that would
>>: limit the amount of collateral damage that goes on? What kind of faith could 
>>: possibly survive this kind of analysis?

>I'm kind of jumping in here I didn't get the rest of this thread but I'd
>like to ask a counter question to the ones above.

The thread was rehashing the old and unsolvable conundrum of why an all-powerful 
and all-benevolent God would allow such arbitrary misery and evil to devastate 
the earth and its inhabitants.



>Where else would I go?  

If you are looking for beliefs that have no basis in reality, there are all 
kinds of places you can go. There are lots of religions that don't claim 
their deities are both omnipotent and omnibenevolent. There are all kinds 
of pseudo-religions that don't have gods at all. This powerful/good stuff
was an invention of the Christians, for the most part.

If you are as concerned as I am about the "all-powerful/all-good" conundrum, 
yet you still must believe in a god, why not try Islam? It's pretty 
similar in many ways to Christianity, yet they don't claim their god is 
omni-benevolent. Indeed, some of them think it is a rediculous idea, as do I.



>What else is there for me to believe?  

The sad truth is, and maybe someday you will realize it, is that there is no 
god at all - there is nothing watching over you and guiding your life, 
nothing there to interfere in the workings of the universe on your behalf. 
No supernatural being deeply and personally concerned with your sex life.
So the short answer to your question is "nothing", at least, in terms of 
the supernatural.

There is plenty to believe here in reality, but you have to get used to the
concept of admitting when you (or any human) don't know something, without 
being tempted to explain the unknown by calling it "God". It helps if you 
believe that there is no knowledge that is inherently unknowable, just unknown
at this time due to lack of technology. (I'm talking about the big questions 
here, not what every particle in the universe may be up to).

Also, you have to get used to the concept of relying on yourself and other 
humans in times of stress - not an invisible old man in the clouds.



>If I reject
>God, because he doesn't live up to my understanding of how things could be
>then what is there?

Don't reject God for that reason; I have no problem with the concept of a 
god that doesn't behave the way I would like. Plenty of those have been 
invented in human history. I was just making the point that the Christian 
god candidate running this universe doesn't behave like contemporary 
Christian doctrine says it should, which as far as I'm concerned proves that 
that god, at least, couldn't possibly exist. You can just change your 
definition of God a bit and my argument would no longer hold.

No - reject God because of the total lack of evidence for its existance. 
That's the best reason.



>It seems to me that antitheists spend a great deal of time cutting down
>the theist, but they really have nothing to offer in return.

I guess there are too many who think that there has to BE something to 
substitute for religion. However, that's not the way reality is. There 
is NO substitute for religion, it is YOUR responsibility to make meaning 
for yourself in this brief life. Religion was invented fairly recently, in
terms of human evolution, and there is no reason why we can't just
chuck it now that we have a much much better idea of how the universe
works than early civilization did 10000 years ago. Religion no longer
explains anything useful (if it ever did, an arguable point).

And there is no absolute morality, and certainly no super-powerful yet 
undetectable being enforcing it.



>I will not
>give up something that has a least a little advantage for something that
>has none.

I'm sorry, I didn't catch that. Exactly what advantage was that? And whatever 
it is, how is it affected by the existance or non-existance of your god? 

Are there any tangible ways in which your belief in this god materially 
affects you? Or is it just a mental thing? Aren't there simpler ways to 
explain it, than inventing a completely unlikely deity?



>To rephrase your about question: Tell us why you remain an athiest?

1. If there is a god that is all-powerful, yet allows evil to abound as I 
observe it, that god is not worthy of worship.

2. If there is a god that is all-good, yet is helpless to prevent evil, that
god is not worthy of worship.

3. There is ample proof that a god both all-powerful and all-good is
not running THIS universe.

4. In addition to the philosophical problems above, there is ZERO 
evidence for the existance of any postulated god I have heard of.

It all adds up to unbelief in any god whatsoever. That is why I remain
an atheist.



>Ron



********************************************************************************
From: randallg@wimsey.com (randall g)                                                                     
Subject: Re: Why Evil Under God?                                                                                       
Date: Thu, 3 Aug 1995 21:52:54 -1000
In article <19950726090217randallv0.1@news.wimsey.c, randallg@wimsey.com (randall g) wrote:
>rdavis@cybernetics.net (Ron Davis) wrote:
>
>>randall g (randallg@wimsey.com) wrote:
>>
>>Don't reject God for that reason; I have no problem with the concept of a 
>>god that doesn't behave the way I would like. Plenty of those have been 
>>invented in human history. I was just making the point that the Christian 
>>god candidate running this universe doesn't behave like contemporary 
>>Christian doctrine says it should, which as far as I'm concerned proves that 
>>that god, at least, couldn't possibly exist. You can just change your 
>>definition of God a bit and my argument would no longer hold.
>
>   Since my definition of God is not so simple minded as you put forth, 
>the argument doesn't hold.

Apparently your definition is unsimple to the point of contradiction.
If I have this wrong, then you do not agree with the premises which 
lead to contradition: That the Christian god is both omnipotent and 
omnibenevolent. Which one (or both) of these properties are you 
willing to drop?



>>No - reject God because of the total lack of evidence for its existance. 
>>That's the best reason.
>
>   Total is a very strong word.  I know of volumes of books written full 
>of evidence.  What you are saying is that you have examined all of the 
>evidence for and against the exsistance of God and concluded that there 
>is no God.  This of course says you have a complete understanding of all 
>of the universe.

Yes "total lack" is a very strong way of putting it, but it accurately 
describes the state of evidence in favour of all supernatural gods. The 
existance of a book whose writer claims knowledge of gods is not evidence, 
not unless he can show a testable, repeatable and reliable method of 
contacting/interacting with said gods. If such a book existed, it would 
be big news on alt.atheism...

And you are wrong if you think one needs a complete understanding of the 
universe to determine that there are no gods. If these gods exist in 
some fashion but only leave evidence lying around in places that humans 
cannot reach, then there is absolutely no rational reason to believe it, 
and it is nothing but faith and hope that leads to any conclusion besides 
"there are no gods".

This is the same reason that I do not believe in Invisible Pink Unicorns, 
UFO's, Santa Claus or Elvis, and I would expect you don't either, for the 
same reason.



>>works than early civilization did 10000 years ago. Religion no longer
>>explains anything useful (if it ever did, an arguable point).
>
>   Actually Christianity explains lots of things, though you may not 
>believe its explainations because of the underlying presupposition that 
>there is no God.  

Sure, Christianity has a long history of explaining things, like the earth 
is flat, and the heavenly bodies revolve around the earth, and hell is 
underground, and heaven is just beyond the observable sky. 

If you meant that Christianity explains "spiritual" things (rather than 
actual facts which accurately describe the universe), all I can say is 
so do most or all other religions, and many branches of philosophy, with 
varying degrees of similarity to Christianity.

However, in any case, I don't think Christianity or other 
religion/philosophy "explains" anything particularly useful about 
spiritual matters either, other than laying down unsupported rules 
of behaviour and belief.



>   Maybe Genesis 1 doesn't explain the beginning of the universe in 
>physical terms, perhaps it is a metaphor.  I had a bible professor once 
>tell me that the Bible is a book of theology, it primary purpose is to 
>tell us about God.  It may or may not tell us about the physical 
>processes that brought the universe into being, because those processes 
>are only vaugely related to God.

I won't accept that Genesis 1 is a metaphor for anything real, only that 
it is a fable made up by an ancient tribe of desert wanderers, and has 
elements in common with other fables invented by other cultures. In fact 
it tells us nothing whatever about the physical processes of the universe.



>   Back to what it does explain.  It explains why there is evil in the 
>world .  It explains why there is good in 
>the world .  It explains that evil will not be 
>allowed ultimate triumph .  It gives a 
>way of living that will lead to a better life, a better society and an 
>eternal exsistance.(Mark 12:28-31)  It has given me answers I would not 
>have had without it.

There isn't anything in the bible about living a better life that cannot 
be as well or better derived through secular justice and humanism. The 
explanations about the source of evil/man's choices/god's return and so 
on is just so much hokum, with no basis in fact.

Please provide an example of a better answer than what you could have 
gotten in a more secular way.



>   There are probably many ideas that could be put forth about why God 
>allows evil to happen if he is all-powerful, but even if it turns out he 
>does it just because he wants to that doesn't make him less God.

Perhaps it is just my imperfect human values, but I see no reason not to 
judge god's alledged actions by a reasonable human standard of justice. 
Don't tell me that I cannot do this. What you are saying is that god may 
allow or even create evil, but he's still god. Maybe, but that's not a 
god I would ever worship. Indeed, such a god would disgust and sicken me. 
I'm glad this creature doesn't exist.



>>And there is no absolute morality, and certainly no super-powerful yet 
>>undetectable being enforcing it.
>>I'm sorry, I didn't catch that. Exactly what advantage was that? And 
>>whatever 
>>it is, how is it affected by the existance or non-existance of your god? 
>
>   See above.

You didn't answer the question anywhere above here.



>>Are there any tangible ways in which your belief in this god materially 
>>affects you? Or is it just a mental thing? Aren't there simpler ways to 
>>explain it, than inventing a completely unlikely deity?
>
>   Again you think I made up God.  That is a supposition on your part, no 
>more valid or provable than mine that there is a God.  I could even say I 
>have experienced the presence of a transendent being, but you would not 
>believe that.

I don't think you made god up, I think you simply swallowed the local god 
concept hook line and sinker. You have allowed others to tell you what god 
is, and now you believe in it unconditionally.

Also, I don't believe you have actually experienced a transcendent being, 
only that you think you have. I too have had experiences which seemed like 
it, but I allow for the more likely possibility that such emotions are the 
result of brain chemistry interacting with various outside but purely 
physical stimuli, just like all the other emotions.



>>>To rephrase your about question: Tell us why you remain an athiest?
>>
>>1. If there is a god that is all-powerful, yet allows evil to abound as I 
>>observe it, that god is not worthy of worship.
>>
>>2. If there is a god that is all-good, yet is helpless to prevent evil, that
>>god is not worthy of worship.
>
>   If there is no "no absolute morality" then the use of the word 
>"worthy" is meaningless.  Worthy implies "intrinsic rightness or wrongness".

You are playing a word game. I think you know what I meant. Please address 
the issue.

I am determining worthiness based on human values, which are the only ones 
I know. Anything more evil, or less good, like the moral code the Christian 
god must be using (if in fact it exists), is a lower standard than I would 
expect of an adult human being.



>>3. There is ample proof that a god both all-powerful and all-good is
>>not running THIS universe.
>
>   There is proof that an all-powerful and all-good God is allowing evil 
>to be committed in this universe.  That doesn't say he isn't running it.

No, there is no proof whatever FOR any god, much less the all-powerful/good 
one you're talking about. The unequivocal existance of arbitrary evil is 
sufficient proof AGAINST the existance of a god which is defined to be 
simultaneously all-powerful and all-good.

The only thing there is proof FOR is the existance of arbitrary evil.


>>4. In addition to the philosophical problems above, there is ZERO 
>>evidence for the existance of any postulated god I have heard of.
>
>   See above.

Once again, you have not answered this point anywhere above. I am most 
interested (as are any other atheists in a.a.m) to hear about real evidence 
for the existance of ANY god, not just the impossible one you believe in 
(after all, not all gods are impossible by definition).