Arguments with Theists to November 96


These are mostly from posts to alt.atheism.moderated. Some are email.

At 10:44 AM 3/8/96 -0500, you wrote:
>Randall, 
>I do not hate you. No really fearing God christian should ever hate you. I
>shall
>pray that the Lord Jesus Christ will show you his abundant love in this life
>and the life to come. I pray that you come to love him.
>in Christ we all shall be saved.

Well if your Lord actually existed you may have a point. However many 
Christians like yourself have taken upon themselves the task of 
bringing me to Jesus, but the same silence continues to shout from 
the heavens. I wonder why that is?

Seriously though, it should be a trivial task for your god to convince 
me of its existance. In fact, here's something you might ask it to do:

Get it to stop the earth from rotating. Stay with me. Just stop the earth 
for a short time, like a few hours or perhaps a whole day. With no ill 
effects of course. This is something I can experience with my own eyes, 
and get corroboration on from others I trust. Make sure it clearly 
identifies itself as the Christian god, though - wouldn't want it to go 
to all that effort and have people think it was Allah's or Zeus' doing 
or something. Perhaps a mile-high Jesus, or a crucifix, could appear 
over every major city.

For a god reputed to be omnipotent, this should be a trivial task. 
And it's done it before, if the bible is to be believed.

If your god does this, I promise I'll believe whatever it wants. 
And, this would have the added benefit of convincing pretty much every 
other non-Christian in the world, of the error of their ways!

There's plenty of other, less drastic, things it could do, as well, 
which would convince me. I won't describe them all to you - an 
omniscient being should be able to think of something.


PS How much effort is it not to hate me, anyway? Why did you find 
it necessary to point that out right off the bat? Sounds like you're 
motivated mostly by what you think your god wants. Must take a lot 
of mental effort to tread that crooked path.

PSS I don't hate you either, but I do get amused when fanatics try 
to convert me into believing in nonsense. 

You must all think I'm a complete idiot.


>Your brother in Christ
>george


Your fellow human in reason,

randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~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@telemark.net Sat 18 May 96 21:03:49 Newsgroups: alt.atheism.moderated Subject: Re: Are morals a human thing? From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) In article <4n5o7k$2ht@mtinsc01-mgt.ops.worldnet.att.net>, Coddington@worldnet.att.net says... >When the bible says we are all born in sin, I believe it actually means >that we are all born imperfect, not necessarily that we are all born >knowing what sin is. Not quite. My take is that a core Christian doctrine says that every human is born, and always remains, in a sinful state; that is, *deserving of eternal punishment*. You could characterize this as imperfect, but I think it also implies *guilt*. Obviously, this is well before they've had a chance to cause harm to anything or anyone, through the exercise of their free will. It is only through the infinite grace of God, and not through deeds, that one obtains Salvation, which is the only method of avoiding this eternal punishment we are all born deserving. And this, in a nutshell, is what I find most repugnant about Christianity. (Bill Ray used to rant on about this - I kind of miss him.) randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~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@telemark.net Thu 23 May 96 19:19:48 Newsgroups: alt.atheism.moderated Subject: Re: I can't take it anymore! :) From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) In article <31A408CB.7B4E@flash.net>, gagster@flash.net says... > >Sterling Ledet wrote: >> >> I'm here to learn more about atheism. > >I'll answer any question you ask. Uh oh, now you've done it... randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~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
From randallg@telemark.net Tue 04 Jun 96 21:22:19 Newsgroups: alt.atheism.moderated Subject: Re: FREE WILL From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) In article <31B206DD.666E@smartt.com>, dmanley@smartt.com says... >Michael M. Rosenblatt wrote: >> 1. Free will as described in the bible only ascribes that nature >> to man, and not animals. Yet, animals probably suffer at least as >> much pain and death is no more pleasant for them than man. > >This of course is a variation on the "but even *good* folks suffer" >rebuttal. It simply misjudges the argument. Christians have never denied >that innocents suffer-- look at Christ himself. One doesn't have to >suffer oneself to have free will, one has to have the choice to act in >such a way that causes the suffering of others. The point, which you are not addressing, is that animals suffer physically in a similar fashion to humans, if not more. What is the point? There's no free will argument available here; if one postulates that it's God's creation, then He has inflicted great and pointless suffering on a myriad of living creatures. The suffering of animals has about as much validity as the suffering of humans as a result of natural forces, in terms of free will. The standard Judeo-Christian attitude is, of course, that animals don't count. They only exist for our use, and their suffering is irrelevent. As an aside, one could argue that Christ didn't suffer all that much, 9 hours on the cross and less than 36 hours in hell (and the hell part isn't even clear in the bible). Rather a lot less than some victims of, say, the Spanish Inquisition, who were imprisoned and tortured for years. And they didn't have to suffer for all the "sins" of every human that ever did or will exist. >"The world groans under the curse of the fall." This point is well known >even by biblical writers, who argue that in paradise even animals like >the lion would not be harmful. Obviously the state of the world now is a >fallen one. Many theologians have argued that in fact the inherent evil >in the world arose before the fall of man, but after the fall of angels. Baseless speculation about angels and falling, so I won't comment on that. However, there's plenty of evidence that animals such as lions and their predecessors have been hunting and eating other animals since the time they first evolved. We're talking hundreds of millions of years here, long before any trace of humans appeared on this planet. There were clearly carnivorous dinosaurs in existance, over 60 million years ago, before humans or our larger primate ancestors. Or would you deny this? Are you seriously suggesting that Genesis is literally true, with the creation and subsequent "fall" occuring 6000 years ago, with the lions and gazelles living in painless harmony before that? At some point the lions suddenly started attacking and eating gazelles, after happily existing as vegetarians? >> 3. Free will fails utterly in the "face" of the so-called individual >> act of mercy. Why does god choose to allow free will if at the same >> time he chooses to intervene and save one person who is about to die, >> and not another? > >Of course, God is blamed if he saves people and blamed if he doesn't. >Well, you can't have your cake-- this is not an argument. Turn it into a >syllogism in response to the Christian position on the necessity of the >possibility of suffering and you will discover that it has no bearing. I discover no such thing. Facts such as this render your god logically inconsistent. If this god is so powerful and intelligent, then it has the power to prevent pointless suffering, and we are trying to speculate why this is the case. Of course, there's no good answer. >[rest cut] No doubt.
From randallg@telemark.net Tue 09 Jul 96 22:28:03 Newsgroups: talk.religion.misc,talk.atheism,alt.christnet Subject: Re: THERE IS NO GOD...WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT! From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) In article <1996Jul9.220220@msuvx1.memphis.edu>, uwmharrison@cc.memphis.edu says... >If there is no God, then I am >only an animal on this earth, and there is absolutely no reason why I cannot >sleep around on my husband, murder my parents for their insurance money and >break into your house and steal your tv set (just though i'd throw that one >in). I mean, it would sure make my life here alot better. Wow. This would all make your life better? That's pathetic. You cannot understand what could motivate someone to not behave like this. You need the threat of eternal punishment to keep you from being a psychopath. I don't, and neither to millions and millions of other people. Please, I beg you, for your own sake and others, please please stop reading this newsgroup (talk.atheism). It is clearly best for everyone if you never ever doubt the threat of eternal punishment. God bless you and keep you and lift His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you and all the rest of that. Remain secure in the bosom of our personal Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and do good works in His name that Ye may enter His Kingdom of Heaven and Remain At His Side FOREVER. PLEASE! (and ignore my .sig too)
From randallg@telemark.net Wed 10 Jul 96 17:08:40 Newsgroups: alt.atheism.moderated Subject: Re: Professor Sagan--bad news In article , podtrst@isomedia.com says... >A number of people on this Usergroup have asked for data on how >Dr. Sagan is doing. I believe they have asked this because, like >myself, they care deeply for him and wish him well. >He is back in treatment after a relapse of his myelodysplasia (here >in Seattle). [ snip ] >If any of you feel that I should no longer do this, please add to >my posts and I will stop if your arguments are reasonable. Please continue as you see fit. If it gets past the moderator that's good enough for me. I have read many of Carl Sagan's works, and have just finished "The Demon Haunted World". It is magnificent, and I highly recommend it to anyone reading this newsgroup. Many passages from it would make extremely good posts for this group, and I have considered typing up a couple (anybody interested?) His series "Cosmos", which is the first I heard of him, was a huge inspiration to me. Some of the best television ever produced. In my opinion he is one of the great men/women of the modern age. I, as well as the entire world (whether they all know it or not), will lose a great deal if this illness gets the better of him. But we will not lose his written works, which, again, I highly recommend for all. randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~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 (a band from England, not my name)
From randallg@telemark.net Fri 12 Jul 96 18:25:06 Newsgroups: alt.atheism,talk.atheism Subject: Re: Theists in prison From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) In article <4s25lk$o94@crl4.crl.com>, viejo@crl.com says... > >It seems to me that it's also BAD science to assume that anything that >doesn't go by science's rules is, by definition, invalid. Fer chrissakes, how many times does this have to be explained? Science's rules are the rules of the universe! There isn't anything beyond that, and if evidence for something previously undected ever shows up, the rules of science change to accomodate it. >I choose to believe something because I have a purely subjective reason to >believe it. Because it's subjective, there's no way to subject it to the >tests mandated by the scientific method. In fact, there isn't even any >way to share the experience with another. You have absolutely no way of >evalutating my experience, and yet you deny its validity. That sounds an >awful lot like hubris to me. The day is coming when science will evaluate, understand and reproduce mental experiences of this sort. I don't know when, it could be a long time, but it will happen. Then your god and your beliefs will be shown to be exactly what they are: mental constructs that exist entirely within your own mind. randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~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 (a band from England, not my name)
From randallg@telemark.net Fri 12 Jul 96 18:58:04 Newsgroups: talk.religion.misc,talk.atheism,alt.christnet Subject: Re: Atheists Lead people to Jesus From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) In article , jsdg@pge.com says... >One example that particularly irks >me is when the Pope visits a country struggling with overpopulation and >famine, and lectures on the sinfulness of contraception. Unlike American >Catholics, who by and large simply ignore the Church's views on this >issue, these populations are particularly vulnerable to his rantings... >and so ol' JP2 becomes personally, directly responsible for thousands of >babies born to die of starvation and disease. More like millions. I think the Pope is the most evil human alive. (My girlfriend gets slightly annoyed everytime he shows up on the news and I start yelling "ASSHOLE" at the TV). How one man can be so ignorant is beyond me. Thanks, religion. The irony, of course, is that he and his followers think he's a nice guy. randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~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 (a band from England, not my name)
From randallg@telemark.net Sat 13 Jul 96 13:36:11 Newsgroups: talk.religion.misc,talk.atheism,alt.christnet Subject: Re: THERE IS NO GOD...WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT! From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) In article <1996Jul13.031037@msuvx1.memphis.edu>, uwmharrison@cc.memphis.edu says... > >In article <4rvf13$p1l@wolfe.wimsey.com>, randallg@telemark.net (randall g) writes: >> In article <1996Jul9.220220@msuvx1.memphis.edu>, uwmharrison@cc.memphis.edu >> says... >> >>>If there is no God, then I am >>>only an animal on this earth, and there is absolutely no reason why I cannot >>>sleep around on my husband, murder my parents for their insurance money and >>>break into your house and steal your tv set (just though i'd throw that one >>>in). I mean, it would sure make my life here alot better. >> >> >> Wow. This would all make your life better? That's pathetic. >> >> You cannot understand what could motivate someone to not behave like this. You >> need the threat of eternal punishment to keep you from being a psychopath. I >> don't, and neither to millions and millions of other people. >> >> Please, I beg you, for your own sake and others, please please stop reading this >> newsgroup (talk.atheism). It is clearly best for everyone if you never ever doubt >> the threat of eternal punishment. >> >> God bless you and keep you and lift His face to shine upon you and be gracious >> unto you and all the rest of that. Remain secure in the bosom of our personal Lord >> and Saviour Jesus Christ and do good works in His name that Ye may enter His >> Kingdom of Heaven and Remain At His Side FOREVER. >> >> PLEASE! (and ignore my .sig too) >> >> randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~randallg > > > >Randall, > >I don't know what YOU read, but that is not what "I" wrote! Please, "I beg >you", read it again, and if you have any other questions, email me and I will >explain it for you. BTW, I am not on talk.atheism. This must be some kind of >crossposted thread. Danielle, Sorry about the confusion. The original article was apparently from you, with email address "uwmharrison@cc.memphis.edu" as you can see in the above attributions. This is how it appeared at my news server (wimsey.com). I did not intend to misattribute you, someone must have forged the post and put your name on it. (Although judging by your other posts, this one was entirely in character for you, unless they were all forged as well.) [ later note: Danielle never responded to this. ] randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~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 (a band from England, not my name)
From randallg@telemark.net Sat 13 Jul 96 13:54:49 Newsgroups: alt.atheism,talk.atheism Subject: Re: Theists in prison From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) In article <4s7bba$87o@crl13.crl.com>, viejo@crl.com says... > >randall g (randallg@telemark.net) wrote: >: In article <4s25lk$o94@crl4.crl.com>, viejo@crl.com says... >: > >: >It seems to me that it's also BAD science to assume that anything that >: >doesn't go by science's rules is, by definition, invalid. > >: Fer chrissakes, how many times does this have to be explained? Science's >: rules are the rules of the universe! There isn't anything beyond that, and >: if evidence for something previously undected ever shows up, the rules of >: science change to accomodate it. > >Fine, then you will stipulate that the "rules of science", whatever they >are, are not derived from holy writ and are subject to change should >discoveries occur which present theory can't deal with. Exactly. There is no equivalent of "holy writ" in science, at least not when it's done properly. >: >I choose to believe something because I have a purely subjective reason >: to >: >believe it. Because it's subjective, there's no way to subject it to the >: >tests mandated by the scientific method. In fact, there isn't even any >: >way to share the experience with another. You have absolutely no way of >: >evalutating my experience, and yet you deny its validity. That sounds an >: >awful lot like hubris to me. > >: The day is coming when science will evaluate, understand and reproduce >: mental experiences of this sort. I don't know when, it could be a long >: time, but it will happen. > >Tell me when it happens, please. Unlike you, I am not absolutely certain >of anything. Science may or may not someday explain and reproduce mental >experiences, but if and when it does, it may well be a science which >neither of us would be able to recognize. Well, I'm not "absolutely certain" of anything, either. However I am confident that this will happen, given the increasing rate of change of knowledge during this modern age. I agree that it may or may not be recognizable in today's terms, and I suspect I will not live to see it anyway. >: Then your god and your beliefs will be shown to be exactly what they are: >: mental constructs that exist entirely within your own mind. > >Why do you guys infer something about a god in this discussion? I never >mentioned a belief in any god, and I don't understand why you have to >invent a god for me. If I wanted a god, I could invent one for myself, >but until I need one, I think I'll do without. My apologies. I mistook you for a theist, because the line you were arguing (that bit of it anyway) is very common amongst theists. >And by the way, beliefs, by definition, are "mental constructs". All >beliefs exist within someone's mind. So your belief in whatever you >believe exists only in YOUR mind. Others may share those beliefs, but >each person's belief will be at least somewhat different from everyone >else's. Hell, quantum theory tells us that. Well put. I think we agree much more than we disagree. randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~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 (a band from England, not my name)
From randallg@telemark.net Wed 24 Jul 96 21:57:08 Newsgroups: talk.atheism,alt.atheism Subject: Re: Athiests From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) In article <4t6efd$jdk@news.ee.net>, dmaxwell@greenapple.com says... [ snip ] >I am an atheist myself. This is no way to win friends and influence >people. [ snip ] >Again, you will not convince anybody this way. Like you, I think that >believing in gods is a human weakness but I wouldn't put it to a >theist by calling him a brainwashed child. [ snip ] >Now you are calling him a liar. This will make him about as prone to >listen to you as calling him a child will. [ snip ] >Don't call theists children when arguing >with them though. Shouting matches do no one any good. [ snip ] >He insulted you in the previous paragraph. I find it as insulting as >you do. But you sank immediately to his level in your rejoinder. Look, I'm sure you mean well and all that, but it was clear that the originial idiot who started this off is completely hopeless, beyond rational discourse, and more of a joke than anything else. I doubt he'll read any of the replies, and even if he does, he will learn nothing about atheists, and will remain entirely stupid. So let us have our fun... randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~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@telemark.net Thu 01 Aug 96 11:05:15 Newsgroups: misc.invest.canada Subject: Re: Stock Market Humour From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) In article <3200AD6F.9DE@mis.nb.ca>, hoe@mis.nb.ca says... > >jokes@compuserve.com wrote: >> >> Q: What is the difference between TWA Flight 800 and Cartaway Resources? >> >> A: One is a plane crash while the other just plane crashes!!! > >Tacky! This was obviously done in poor taste and a lack of respect for >other people and their families. I didn't laugh. Some people laugh at >the misfortunes of others and should check themselves to see what kind >of a human being they have become since the day of their birth. My >sincere sympathy to the person that wrote the article and may they >acquire both wisdom and a compassion for others less fortunate. > >Have A Blessed Day >Wayne Hey, good one! Nothing funnier than self-righteous indignation...
From randallg@telemark.net Thu 08 Aug 96 11:02:57 Newsgroups: alt.atheism.moderated Subject: Re: The Problem of Evil for atheists From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) In article <4tu7bn$rkb@nw101.infi.net>, garockey@norfolk.infi.net says... > >Greetings! > >My question revolves around the classic argument against theism; the >problem of evil. "If there is a God, and this god is good and >benevolent as Christians claim, then why is there evil?" A good question indeed. >A common scenario is that of an earthquake that kills thousands. No >particular act of evil on the part of those killed brought about the >event; simply, thousands of innocent people died. This is judged by >atheists to be morally wrong, and proof of the absense of a morally >"right" or good God. > >My question, then, is this: how does an atheist extrapolate a moral >question from an amoral event? An earthquake is simply the shifting >of tectonic plates. There is nothing moral about this. Granted, >thousands die, but this is to be expected when a large scale natural >act occurs. An atheist does not extrapolate any moral issues from natural disasters, for the reasons you mention. However, when some theist comes along and postulates a creator god that is both omnipotent (capable of creating the universe to precisely its desires) and omnibenevolent (has an infinite amount of love for its sentient creations) we are quick to point out the obvious dichotomy, which follows from those assumptions. The locally popular Christian god is often postulated to have these properties, so we hear this a lot. The earthquake becomes a moral issue when there is this super-powerful being who would be capable of preventing such devastation, should it desire to. Obviously it doesn't, for whatever reason, so a major contradiction occurs. Indeed, it is proof that such a being cannot exist. Just because we use the theists' assumptions in an argument to logically conclude they are contradictory, does not mean we believe them ourselves. This is not a general argument againt the existance of all gods, but it is a very good one against the Christian god, whose adherants are unwilling to admit that this being, should it exist at all, is either not very powerful, cannot plan his creation very well, or is simply an asshole. Or perhaps, it is just clumsy, and is unable to punish the sinners who deserve it without a lot of collateral damage :) In any event, very much less than the perfection they usually talk about. >The same evolution that brought forth man is slowly >bringing forth new geological bodies. There is no morality involved >in evolution; it simply "is." Therefore, in other words, how does an >atheist formulate the "Problem of evil" argument without adopting a >theist presupposition (that there is an objective standard of >good/evil, and what "is" is not always what "should be")? We decide that a natural disaster which kills thousands is "bad". If you don't understand that then I don't know how to explain it. While this label is "arbitrary" in the great cosmic sense, humans usually regard the untimely devastion of thousands as bad. Once again, atheists will, for argument purposes, provisionally accept the theists' premises and see where they lead. When the contradiction is invariably reached, we have no choice but to discard the premises, or discard reason itself. >Would it not be more consistent for an atheist to accept mass >devestation as an evolutionary event, and likewise inconsistent for an >atheist to say "this should not be"? Of course. But we're not the ones claiming that an omni-* creator god set the universe up this way, and is allegedly still intimately concerned about its creations. >And if so, how can the atheist >continue to hold the "Problem of evil" argument against theism, when >they deny the basic presupposition necessary to formulate it in the >first place? It's called an argument. We end up discarding those presuppositions because they lead to absurdities. >An atheist should not be able to understand such a >question in order to pose it in the first place. We don't pose it in the first place, it leads logically from Christian premises. randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~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@telemark.net Thu Aug 15 12:27:15 1996 Newsgroups: alt.atheism.moderated Subject: Re: Can Atheists distinguish between Right and Wrong, Good and Evil, Moral and Immoral? . From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) In article <4utqk0$5h8@newsbf02.news.aol.com>, johnten9@aol.com says... > >Absolutely. An atheist is no less moral than a theist. However, >theists, ( I will reference Christians) have a greater purpose in our >rationale for recognizing right and wrong as our decisions are generally >based on the desire to please God as our Father and Lord, and as a direct >result of wanting to please God, mankind will benefit from those actions. >Atheists, too, wish to please other men, but, may have a more distorted >view of what is and isn't moral and good as they have no higher being or >authority to base their decisions on other than other men's opinions. The >Bible presents a clear understanding of morality and leaves no doubts as >to what is right and wrong. It's a beautiful way to live. Unfortunately beauty is even more relative than morality is. My first reaction was, I sure don't see any beauty in it, but it is certainly a *simple* way to live. However on reflection even that isn't true, due to the number of contradictory or absurd things the Bible has to say about moral issues. It is anything but clear on many issues, and doesn't even mention many other important ones. Are you going to stone gays? people who wear clothing made of different fabrics? Is slavery acceptible? Jesus thought so. Perhaps that's why you theists can't agree even on simple issues, much less complicated ones like euthanasia, death penalty or abortion. A humanastic moral basis doesn't suffer from anything like the variations that theistic morals do, and has a clearly stated goal of maximizing human happiness, and minimizing suffering, in the here and now. Why should we care about anything else? Bryan Hayward put a simple, humanistic moral code together which can form the basis for moral decisions of all sorts. I've reposted it after my .sig below (I'm sure he won't mind). Take a look at it and tell my why you think the Bible is a superior moral guide than something a thoughtful humanist can come up with in a matter of minutes. And if you purport to be following divine morals, how exactly do you know what they are, if you do not have a rational or "obvious" basis for them? Do you receive visions? Do you pray for guidance and have those prayers answered in an unambiguous way? Do you ask your preacher class? Can you trust their answers? Why is the Christian god so evil? Why should I care what you or anyone else *think* it wants? Hmm? randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~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: hayward@ux7.cso.uiuc.edu (hayward bryan p) Newsgroups: alt.atheism.moderated Subject: Re: AMORAL LOGIC: Have Atheists ever adopted a Comprehensive Moral Code? Date: 17 Jun 1996 19:38:03 GMT OK, Here is my contribution. Code of Morals. Definitions: Needless - (denotation) unnecessary, (connotation) without very strong and urgent justification. Suffering - (denotation) the endurance or experience of pain, harm, or loss, (connotation) experience of an event that the subject and observer both agree is painful or harmful, emotionally and/or physically. {note this connotative definition is specifically designed to exclude "suffering" because one cannot inflict one's will on another} Article 1 - It is recognized that needless suffering is the worst form of immorality. Article 1a - In recognition of Article 1, one should make every attempt to avoid inflicting needless suffering. Article 1b - In recognition of Article 1, one should make every effort to alleviate needless suffering. Article 2 - It is recognized that personal liberty, where it does not conflict with Article 1, is vital to humans and human interaction. Article 2a - In recognition of Article 2, it is immoral to deprive a person of liberty. Article 2b - In recognition of Article 2, one should make every effort to accomodate the liberty of others and oneself so as to minimize infringement of all. Article 3 - It is recognized that humans are a social animal and should be considered as such where it does not conflict with Articles 1 or 2. Article 3a - In recognition of Article 3, it is moral to give love and emotional support to other humans. Article 3b - In recognition of Article 3, it is moral to cooperate with other humans toward a common goal. Article 3c - In recognition of Article 3, it is immoral to impede a cooperative effort unless the results are reasonably expected to conflict with Articles 1, 2, or 3a. Pretty good, off the cuff, eh? Regards, Bryan Hayward
From randallg@telemark.net Thu Aug 15 17:29:29 1996 Newsgroups: alt.atheism.moderated Subject: Re: The Problem of Evil for atheists From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) In article <4um9i9$mbl@nw101.infi.net>, garockey@norfolk.infi.net says... > >Perhaps I have still misunderstood one point; if mass death is amoral, >then why attribute evil to a God who has the power to stop it? What >difference does it make wether or not a wholly good God stops or >allows an amoral event? Would not the event have to be judged "wrong" >somehow in and of itself in order to attribute blame to a deity who >could have stopped it? It's not the event itself which is significant in a moral sense, it is the actions of the sentient being who allows it to happen when it could have prevented it. Thus we do not say the event is moral or not, we are judging the morality of this alledged god. Perhaps a simple analogy will clear this up. Imagine a small child on the side of a swimming pool who cannot swim, and falls in and drowns. If no-one was around to notice or help, there really isn't any morality involved in the event at all. If however, I was standing on the edge, watching the struggling child and not reaching out to help, then I have committed an act which would properly be considered immoral. This is assuming that I had the power to help, which in this example I did, with little effort or risk. Many would say I was directly responsible for the death, and I would probably be found so in a court of law. Name one Christian who wouldn't condemn my actions. Name one Christian who wouldn't think that my actions violated their own god's morality laws. What would Jesus have said about this? Methinks it would make for a hell of a parable. And you wonder why we cannot but judge your god immoral? It is directly or indirectly responsible for the untimely death by violence, disease or other tragedy of more than Hitler and Stalin combined. One could say that it behaves in a less moral fashion than the majority of humans who have ever existed. (If it exists of course, which as you hopefully realize I am assuming only for the sake of argument). randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~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
At 10:46 PM 8/22/96 -0700, you wrote: >Hey Randal, Just a word or more. > >It sounds like your "Stand" is more concerned with debunking christianity >than with explaining your belief of Atheism. It is both, considering that Christianity is by far the largest and most in-your-face religion around here, and I was raised in it. That's why I don't give much airtime to Islam, Hindi, Norse, Greek or Roman gods - many of which are more interesting than the Christian ones. However Christianity is the religion that is trying hard to control me and my society, and I resent that and am working against it. While Christianity has been responsible for some good, it has also been responsible for much evil, and in our modern age it is no longer necessary for its original purposes - moral guidance and an explanation of the universe. >I personally believe that >Atheists are just as fanatical as Theists. Some are, but this is a minority. Check out the newsgroup alt.atheism.moderated - there's a lot of first class thinking going on there, and very little fanaticism. >I class some of them as >Fundamentalist Atheists. You become a fundamentalist Atheist when you >believe your our unsupportable Dogma. In fact you have no clue as to if >there is or isn't a God, (or more than one.) Now hang on a sec, I've got more than "no clue" that there's no god. In fact there's tons of evidence that points that way. Just because it can't be proved absolutely does not make it unreasonable to believe it. I can't prove Santa Claus doesn't exist either, but he's a lot more likely than some sort of infinite creator being. Yet I'm sure neither of us believes he is real. What makes gods so different? >It is your belief that >there is not a god. True. >Don't fall into the fundamentalist trap of thinking >that having faith in a belief is evidense that the belief is correct. Don't worry. There's plenty of good arguments, I don't have to stoop to stupid ones. >Faith, that is the key. You have faith in your belief and Theists have >faith in there beliefs. I don't know what it is about you theists that makes you want to compare your theistic faith with skepticism. They are not at all the same thing. Faith, in a religious sense, involves believing in some things despite a lack of evidence for them, and often despite direct contradictory evidence. Skepticism is the exact opposite - belief is witheld in anything that does not have good evidence supporting it. The more outrageous the claim, the better the evidence needs to be. If some schmuck comes up to me and wants me to believe in his god, I just ask for some evidence. Oddly enough there never is any, so I just dismiss his claims as the unsupported nonsense it is. You think this is the same as faith? My belief that there is no god is subject to change as soon as some good evidence turns up, and I am perfectly willing to admit that. The only "belief" I have is that such evidence is unlikely to turn up, and experience has so far confirmed this. In other words, I'm not holding my breath. I want to know what the TRUTH is, and if some hypothetical god cares to reveal itself, I'll give up atheism in a flash. Being an atheist has its down side - I wouldn't mind knowing that my consciousness will live forever. Oh well... >I personnaly don't know if there is a god, but a >have a belief that something spirtual guides ME. Take Care. Keep >thinking about it. A lot of people say things like this, and I find it perfectly reasonable. However as soon as you start claiming the objective existance of supernatural beings with specific properties, you should expect to be asked for evidence before I will simply accept it.
From randallg@telemark.net Fri Aug 23 23:14:34 1996 Newsgroups: alt.atheism.moderated Subject: Re: The Problem of Evil for atheists From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) In article <4vdg71$n7o@news1.gte.net>, css@gte.net says... >Larry Loen wrote: > >The main line of discussion appears to involve the relation of death >--primarily of innocents-- to the morality of any responsible deity. >It seems to me that since all people die, the deity is accused of >allowing innocents to die regardless of natural or "senseless" >disasters. Keep in mind that these particular examples involve people being killed before they or their loved ones would have ever agreed to, some of them in major agony for some period of time. It doesn't matter how natural the cause is if there is/was a god who could have prevented it. Unless you mean that "natural" is defined as "can't be controlled by God". >Consequently the argument reduces to "a moral deity cannot >allow death" which of course is an a priori argument against deity. It's my personal favourite. >Therefore, one can reject the entire argument, as it is based on >either emotional considerations or an opposing metaphysical principle. Since you haven't proposed any better considerations or principles, you are not making any particular point here. A far as I'm concerned these are a fine basis. Perhaps you could explain why these ones are worse than any other. Bear in mind that you're going to have to account for the most visceral of situations of pointless mass death. >One can probably prove that religion has been the driving >force in the developement of morality, yet that same morality is often >discarded when it becomes inconvenient. You could prove that religion has been a particularly _enforcing_ element in the development of morality. It is no surprise that religions consider the existence of the tribe to be of paramount importance, and in their best interest. Whether religions started this is debatable. In any event, many details of what constitues morality change all the time, although the theists would like to believe otherwise. >--Bill Hamilton (once "Tigereye"). Welcome back! randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~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@telemark.net Fri Aug 23 23:39:30 1996 Newsgroups: alt.atheism.moderated Subject: Re: Is there "Antitheism"? (not just anti-religion) From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) In article <4vb1u1$7d3@noise.ucr.edu>, hamiltoa@watnxt01.ucr.edu says... > >I've been reading about the definitions of "Strong Atheism", >"Weak Atheism", and the viewpoint of the Agnostics. I am >wondering if anyone has ever heard of a view like "Antitheism", >which is the opinion that it would be morally wrong to worship >a god or gods even if they DID exist, just as it would be wrong >to worship a human dictator (or invading aliens, etc.) The problem with this is you would have to start specifying the properties of the gods you are or are not capable of believing in. I can certainly imagine a god worth worshipping (too bad it's denied by reality). Or you would have to explain why it would not matter what a god's properties were and that it would _always_ be wrong to worhip one. As an aside, if you mean you think it is morally wrong to worship any god responsible for *this* *particular* universe, I'd have to agree. >Any information or references would be helpful. >Thanks, >ATH Sorry, all you got was an off-the-cuff opinion... randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~randallg When You let me fall, grew my own wings, now I'm as tall as the sky When You let me drown, grew gills and fins, now I'm as deep as the sea When You let me die, my spirit's free, there's nothing challenging me - James
From randallg@telemark.net Sat Aug 31 21:40:45 1996 Newsgroups: alt.atheism.moderated Subject: Re: Can Atheists distinguish between Right and Wrong, Good and , Evil, From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) Organization: Telemark Systems Inc X-Newsreader: WinVN 0.99.7 References: <4vi70l$am9@tube.news.pipex.net> MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: Text/Plain; charset=US-ASCII In article wrote: >On 15 Aug 1996, randall g wrote: >> My first reaction was, I sure don't see any beauty in it, but it is >> certainly a *simple* way to live. However on reflection even that isn't >> true, due to the number of contradictory or absurd things the Bible has to >> say about moral issues. It is anything but clear on many issues, and >> doesn't even mention many other important ones. > > You're right, life is not usually very simple. On the other >hand, the Bible is quite clear, on the contrary, concerning certain >moral issues. It has ten simple little rules that are usually enough to >keep most individuals out of trouble. The first four are unecessary and useless, and the other six are so general and obvious that similar laws are found in human cultures worldwide, independently evolved with no relation or connection to the ancient Hebrew tribe. Their generality is their downfall, however, if you are trying to judge a trickier or more modern moral situation, as I indicate below. >So, Abraham and his sons kept concubines (poersonal harems), and had >multiple wives at the same time. Ok. Didn't necessarily make it right. >In fact, they experienced rather predictable patterns of family >trouble because of it. Whatever. The context of the Bible is that of an ancient, primitive culture in the Middle East. So they had polygamy etc, as did all the other similar cultures. As a moral relativist I have no problem with this, as historically it has been very common in human cultures, and probably has had a survival benefit for the tribe and its gene pool. After all, Abraham was a patriarch and tribal leader. It was very common for such a man to have multiple wives throughout most of human history. >> Are you going to stone gays? people who wear clothing made of different >> fabrics? Is slavery acceptable? Jesus thought so. >> > re: homosexuals - where's your ref. for this ? Again, what's > your contextual basis for making such a claim ? Are you kidding? Haven't you read the Bible? Haven't you ever read any of the countless threads on the atheism groups about this? It's the famous one gay bashers like to use: "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination." Lev 18:22 I believe the prescribed punishment for abomination was stoning. > re: diff. fabrics - never read such a thing. If so, who was > doing what, and why ? You've stated the phenom., but > what about precedent ? And, if so, then is there a behavior > associated with it which God considers to be immoral ? > Or, is this just something you heard ? "Thou shalt not sow thy field with two kinds of seed: neither shall there come upon thee a garment of two kinds of stuff mingled together." Lev 19:19 This one isn't labeled an abomination, but it is clearly against the rules. I'll admit the punishment is unspecified here, but is probably available by reading the context. > re: slavery - Jesus Himself actually never mentions a position > on slavery. This is my point. If someone of such moral stature as your own God incarnate Jesus Christ didn't condemn it roundly, then why is it pretty much universally condemned today by Christians and non-Christians alike? This is not an idea you got from the Bible. So what if Jesus (or the OT) wants masters to treat their slaves reasonably? We would expect to hear the same of pets or farm animals. And it makes good economic sense. As a humanist I find slavery an obvious evil. Almost all Christians today think it is wrong. But God didn't tell you that! Since you are not very familiar with your own Bible, here's a couple more of my favourite passages: "Put every man his sword on his side, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion and every man his neighbor." Ex 32:27 - Mind you, they were killing unbelievers, so it's OK "Now go, attack the Amakelites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them: put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camel and donkeys." - 1 Sam 15:3 - Killing your heathen neighbours is OK too "Then he [Elisha] went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up the road some youths mocked him, and said to him, 'go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!' So he turned around and looked at them and pronounced a curse on them in the name of the Lord. And two female bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths" - II Kings 2:23-24 - Guess those taunting children learned their moral lesson for the day >> Perhaps that's why you theists can't agree even on simple issues, much >> less complicated ones like euthanasia, death penalty or abortion. > When they have occasion to disagree on the topics you mentioned >above, often their disagreement comes from the fact that both sides have >incomplete information and aren't usually willing to clean up their >defns and analytical reasoning. [ snip more of the same ] This is nonsense. The disagreements are basic and fundamental. >> A humanastic moral basis doesn't suffer from anything like the variations >> that theistic morals do, and has a clearly stated goal of maximizing human >> happiness, and minimizing suffering, in the here and now. > > " I will give you life, and that more abundantly. " > - wise hippie-dude from Nazareth This is meaningless mysticism. > " And a lawyer stood up to put Him to the test, saying, " Teacher, > what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" He said to him, "What > is written in the law? How do you read it?" And he answered, > ' You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and > with all your soul, and with all your strength, and > with all your mind; and you shall love your neighbor > as yourself.' > And He said to him, ' You have answered rightly; do this, and > you will live .' " > - Luke 10, v. 25-28 So? To avoid eternal hell, we are told we must love this God. No wonder Christianity spread so well. And what do these passages have to do with morality anyway? >> Why should we >> care about anything else? > > Of course, I can be completely pragmatist and say "well, why do >we need to do basic research ? You miss my point. I was talking about unproven supernatural entities like God and unproven supernatural universes like Heaven and unproven personal existences beyond death. Why should we care about these things that apparently don't exist? Why should we rely on anything but humanistic principles when deciding what our moral codes should be? This question stems from the Biblical stuff above, and boils down to: why should I give a shit what it says? >We have a number of technologies which >have yet to be applied to their extent for the benefit of all people; >let's shut down the basic research facilities for a while and concentrate >our efforts on engineering". But, I can maximize my returns on the >technology industry by keeping a number of personnel in the "skunk works", >the place where we "play inventors" and explore new science. That way, I >can continually feed a stream of new concepts to the engineers. Theologians >and pastors, or your average practitioner, have the same sort of >working relationship. When was the last time theologians came up with a practical moral code? How do we measure the accuracy of any particular religious mystic? There're some other religious practices which sometimes have better practical results in spiritual terms than Christianity usually does. You know, if theologians agreed on moral issues the way engineers agree on building bridges, you might have a point. >> And if you purport to be following divine morals, how exactly do you know >> what they are, if you do not have a rational or "obvious" basis for them? > > That's your opinion. The truth of general relativity may not be >obvious on first glance, but it comes to make sense after a few courses. Not the same thing. After study, anyone can achieve the same understanding of GR. >How do we know what they are: I copied a few of them from the text and >posted them (see above). Pretty simple, pretty concise. Application can >be difficult, but, that's ok, we're learning. We have a reasonable idea >of where that text came from. We have our personal experiences and those >of other Christians as a testimony to the effectiveness of that moral >ethos when properly applied. Whatever. You haven't shown that this method is superior in any way. It certainly does not compare with scientific study. >> Do you receive visions? Do you pray for guidance and have those prayers >> answered in an unambiguous way? Do you ask your preacher class? Can you >> trust their answers? Why is the Christian god so evil? Why should I care >> what you or anyone else *think* it wants? Hmm? > > Many questions, indeed. Please, answer just one, I beg you. >Have you tried reading the book to find >some answers to a few of them ? Oh well, no answers. I'll answer your new question anyway: Like most atheists around here, yes indeedy. > On prayer, guidance, etc.: 1 John 4 sets out some guidelines for >trusting the advice that you receive via "spiritual hints", hints from other >people, and things that may seem like dead-on signs at the time. Put simply, >his take is that one should check the ref. If you receive guidance to do >something that's blatantly wrong, unChristlike, or unwise, chances are it's >not Jesus that's talking there. Prayer is important for a couple of reasons. >On one hand, it communicates the acknowledgement of needs and desires to God >(God already knows these things; He wants to see you know them as well) and >is conversant. On the other hand, it serves to keep one spiritually >focused, so that one will be mentally focused, etc. I trust the advice if >it's in line with the character of God as displayed in the text. As far as I can tell, this is all inner spiritual communication with yourself. There are lots of ways to go about this, Christian prayer is only one of them, and probably not the most effective. It sounds like when you get your "visions" or whatever, you still have to personally evaluate them for reliability. So I guess there is still a great deal of ambiguity that you have to use your own intellectual process to think through. In the end, this is worse than starting from a humanistic basis, because why should I trust your personal interpretation of your own personal dreams? At least, the humanist starts from a set of reasoned axioms that can have widespread support, and proceed logically from there. No dreams to interpret. No, there's been enough psychos who've gone nuts because they thought God told them to. Not a reliable guide at all. BTW, let me know if God tells you something you couldn't possibly have known otherwise. > On pastoral advice: same tune. One question would be: "how much >do I trust the messenger?", rather than trusting the message. If the >person seems reasonably sane, and has given good advice before, then there's >some collateral for trusting him/her further. As the parable of the >servants goes : "You have been faithful over a few things; so I will put >you in charge of many things". Well, I would be the last to say that a well-meaning pastor doesn't have something valuable to say about morals. Still, basing this morality on the Bible can lead to non-humanistic moral rules. In any event, like your dreams above, you have to judge this person's reliability yourself, which again is a great failing of this method of moral guidance. > In a nutshell, what many perceive as being acts of evil are > acts of justice carried out as infringements against God's > moral will. Evil ? Presently, there is quite a bit more evil > in the world than can be accounted for by the actions of > natural selection. Men do evil almost for sport. The only reason > that things aren't significantly worse is because of the jurisdiction > of God's moral will. You have the Problem of Evil backwards. We all agree that humans can act in evil ways. The problem is to explain the existance of natural events that cause great pain and suffering to those who are not deserving of it. This includes the entire range of natural disasters, from earthquakes, floods and volcanoes to disease to genetic defects. Actually, the problem is not to explain these things, atheists understand quite easily the amoral nature of nature. The problem is to reconcile this with a god that is infinitely powerful and infinitely benevolent. This has never been done. In My Opinion, of course. > > Taking a look-see :-) > >> From: hayward@ux7.cso.uiuc.edu (hayward bryan p) >> >> OK, Here is my contribution. >> >> Code of Morals. >> >> Definitions: Needless - (denotation) unnecessary, (connotation) without >> very strong and urgent justification. >> >> Suffering - (denotation) the endurance or experience of pain, harm, or >> loss, (connotation) experience of an event that the subject and observer >> both agree is painful or harmful, emotionally and/or physically. >> >> {note this connotative definition is specifically designed to exclude >> "suffering" because one cannot inflict one's will on another} >> >> Article 1 - It is recognized that needless suffering is the worst form of >> immorality. >> > Agreed. Many of the sins for which people were punished in the >OT involved the infliction of needless suffering on others (self- >aggrandizement or the accumulation of wealth does not qualify as >a needful cause. Live and let live :) Great. Sounds good to me too. Lets agree to drop the Bible as a moral authority on the issue of suffering. >> Article 1a - In recognition of Article 1, one should make every attempt to >> avoid inflicting needless suffering. >> > Without inflicting needless suffering, one would presume for >consistency. Of course. See how easy this is? >> Article 1b - In recognition of Article 1, one should make every effort to >> alleviate needless suffering. >> >> Article 2 - It is recognized that personal liberty, where it does not >> conflict with Article 1, is vital to humans and human interaction. > > "Let us make man in our own image" . God possesses certain >characteristics, and, to an extent, we possess a limited version of these >things, including the capacity to think for ourselves. Personal liberty, >then, is the healthy state of affairs with the human creature. If there were an omnipotent and omnibenevolent god I would certainly expect it to have these properties. >> Article 2a - In recognition of Article 2, it is immoral to deprive a >> person of liberty. >> > As it causes them suffering, or stunts their creative potential. > On the other hand, it can sometimes be necessary to deprive a person > of personal liberty, for instance, to keep him/her from hurting > themselves or infringing upon the liberties of others, as the > obvious cases. Of course. You're getting the hang of this. >> Article 2b - In recognition of Article 2, one should make every effort to >> accomodate the liberty of others and oneself so as to minimize >> infringement of all. >> Article 3 - It is recognized that humans are a social animal and should be >> considered as such where it does not conflict with Articles 1 or 2. > > Not sure where this leads. Man is also a contemplative, >introspective being. Yes, but the point is to lay a foundation for the fact that we are social animals and have a social basis to justice - ie that social causes are a good thing. >> Article 3a - In recognition of Article 3, it is moral to give love and >> emotional support to other humans. >> > Yet, it is not possible to mandate this without giving some >prior reason. Are we to say that it is moral to give love etc. because >it is healthy ? Because it somehow fulfills a personal need ? Rather, >then we simply do what is required. From where does this love emanate? >Do we have the capacity to always give this love? How is it to be >given ? None of these questions are relevent in establishing the existence of the human need to love others, and the fact that this is generally a good thing. Whether some god is responsible for this love is not relevant here, and without convincing evidence is not worth considering. >> Article 3b - In recognition of Article 3, it is moral to cooperate with >> other humans toward a common goal. >> Article 3c - In recognition of Article 3, it is immoral to impede a >> cooperative effort unless the results are reasonably expected to conflict >> with Articles 1, 2, >> or 3a. >> >> Pretty good, off the cuff, eh? >> >> Regards, Bryan Hayward >> > > A good bit of this can be summed like so: as you perceive > yourself in Christ, and find your desires and needs, > do with and to others as you would like to have done > with or to you. See also 1 Cor. 13 for a concise defn. > of love and its practices. Come on Sean, the Bible takes hundreds of pages and achieves nowhere near the concistency of the above humanistically based code. It describes tons of evils sanctioned by its god and there's no reliable way to tell the difference between the good parts and the bad parts, other than your own internal moral sense.
At 05:44 PM 9/21/96 -0600, you wrote: >Randy. [ I usually use "randall" ] > I couldn't resist sending you a line after reading your web >page. You spoke many times about being an athiest. Maybe you have >metioned this, this many times just to get a reaction I don't, but I >couldn't pass up the opportunity to ask you why it is mentioned so many >times. Good question; I didn't think it was that overwhelming. It's an important part of who I am, and I hang out in the atheist newsgroups a lot. It does spawn comments like yours, though, which can be fun. Most people don't seem to notice, or care. >Everyone is born with a knowing there is a god in there heart. I disagree. Humans are born with no theistic knowledge at all, which means we're atheists from birth. We will remain this way unless convinced otherwise. Human children go through a gullible phase where they will believe pretty much anything told to them. Children have not developed the intellectual skills to separate fact from fantasy. That comes later (to varying degrees). This trait evolved because it is of great survival benefit, as it's the best way for parents (or the tribe) to pass important survival knowledge to the young. The kid doesn't have the time or ability to independently verify everything he is told. So when adults start telling the kid about Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy and God, he will pretty much accept it all. Perhaps you are refering to the so-called "yearning to believe" but this is something that appears later. However it's no proof of God, just a desire to have the world explained, and questions answered, when we have no (or inadequate) explanations or answers. Children don't need to find the deep meanings in life, their intellect has not developed that much yet. Before science started explaining pretty much everything about how the world works, people turned to religions for this comfort, and many still do. The priests and kings understood this very well, and religion evolved into a tool for social control (among other things). >People search in many ways before they find something to believe in. Yes they do. I find it fascinating. >You sound as though you are trying hard to not believe. Frankly it's no effort at all. Believing in fairy tales would require a lot of effort. Indeed I seem to be incapable of it, though of course I have no reason to anyway. >Have you >possibly had some kind of a religious experience, orwee you possibly >raised in a christian home? Both. I've had many religious/spiritual experiences. And I was raised in a Christian church and was a believing theist for the first half of my life. Oddly enough, I never had a religious experience that was related to the religion I was a believer in. >I hope you don't feel threatened by this >letter, and I'm sure you won't,but I would like to hear your response to >this letter. Not to worry, I get this all the time. >And I hope you will be 'HONEST' with yourself, and let me know what it >is you seem to be running from. I have an urge to vaguely resent the implication that I am ignoring or hiding from the truth, as a result of something I am running from. However I understand how perplexing this must seem to a believing Christian (can I assume you are Christian?). To you it is all so obvious, but ask yourself: Is there one thing I can point out to Randall that he can understand and verify that will indicate the existence of my particular God? I spent many years looking for exactly that, but it was all smoke and mirrors. No, I'm not running from anything. I think the opposite is the case. I accept people, the world and the universe on their merits. I use facts to understand how they work. Facing this was a maturing process for me. A bit of advice: don't assume atheists are non-believers because of lack of honesty, or some other defect that causes inability to see obvious truths. It is insulting and incorrect. People have different reasons for being atheists in an overwhelmingly theistic culture, but since most of us were raised to believe in the locally popular god, most of us have thought deeply about it at some point in our lives. I contend we are both atheists - I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you reject all other gods, you will understand why I reject yours as well. >I don't want to hear from you if your >not going to be honest. Hope you don't think I am not being honest. > Everybody believes something and I don't believe you are any >exception. Hope to hear from you. You are correct, being both human and conscious, I believe lots of things. However I make an effort to keep the number of unsubstantiated things I believe in to the barest possible minimum. >Scincerly Yours > >Mark Stevenson Hope this helps,
At 12:24 AM 10/11/96 EDT, you wrote: > >>Yes. It is only one of thousands of gods invented throughout human >>history. >That's interesting. Many say that. I of course take quite a different >view. What, you think there haven't been thousands of gods invented throughout human history ??? >Okay, if this is true, then why does everyone take Jesus, and God's name >in vain. >Have you ever heard someone say in frustration "oh buddha" or "Allah", or >"oh my osiris." interesting, you never hear anything but "jesus" or >"jesus christ" or "oh my god". I think it is human nature to swear in moments of frustration, or perhaps for shock value. Swearing usually seems to either refer to bodily functions, such as sexual acts, pee or poo, or blasphemy. Of course when blaspheming, one is likely to use the locally popular gods, as those are the ones that you and everyone around you has been indoctrinated to believe in. Hell, most people have barely even heard of the gods of other cultures. I am confident that in non-Christian cultures, you'll hear plenty of "Buddha-damn" or "Allah-damn" or whatnot. We still have expressions left over from earlier western cultures, like "by Jove" which refers to Jupiter, a Roman god. From what I read the Romans did a fair bit of cursing, always refering of course to their own pantheon of gods. So yes, the western world is predominantly Christian, so that's what you'll hear in these parts. Makes sense to me. >I realize that this is not scientific, >and not something to base a religion, a relatiionship (with my Savior, >the Lord Jesus Christ) on, or a lifestyle. Good. >>I don't ever capitalize "god", just proper names such as Zeus, Osiris, >>Apollo, Yahweh, Thor, or Vishu to name a few. >Do you know how Christianity started? Better than most Christians. >The disciples who had been with >Jesus for years, were surprised (although Jesus had told them many times) >to find that he was not going to overthrow the Roman Empire and rule the >world, but rather would die on the cross, descend into hell, take the >punishment for the sins of all Christians in 3 days, and resurrect from >the dead after 3 days. Yes. According to the Hebrew tradition the Messiah would be a great King, like David, who would lead them to victory against their oppressors. Very good! A lot of Christians seem to be unaware of this. The Jews could not accept him basically because he was nothing like the Messiah they think they had been promised by their god. Of course, they're still waiting. >Now it is historical fact that he lived, had disciples, and died on the >cross. That is nondebatable. You sound pretty sure of yourself but in fact this is very debatable, and is even debated by theologians. The ONLY evidence of any kind is the New Testament of the Bible, much of which is anonymous, and was written at least several decades after Jesus' supposed death, by people who could not possibly have met him. It has been voted on and changed over the years by the Christian masters. The Arians were a major branch of Christianity until the Nicean Synod, where they were outvoted. They did not believe that Christ was a god, just a prophet. Of course, they were persecuted out of existance soon after for heresy. However I will grant you his existence for the purpose of discussion. There were plenty of itinerant preachers wandering the countryside in those days, and Jesus may well have been one of them. I have no reason to assume otherwise. Whether he said all the red words in the Bible is highly doubtful. There were no eyewitnesses alive when the gospels were written. The Bible itself has many false historical claims in it, and is not regarded as a reliable source by historians. >Now, after he was dead, many nonChristians >believe that his disciples stole his body, and pretended that he rose >from the dead, and made up this whole religion, and then under Roman >persecution they ALL suffered horrible, painful, torturous deaths that >sometimes took up to 5 hours. It could take days actually. In any event Jesus did not found the Christian religion, Paul did many years later. If it wasn't for him, nobody would have heard about Jesus today. Jesus probably had a small following, many of whom may have been persecuted, but his movement would have died out if not for Paul. >And people believe that they died in this >gruesome, inhumane way for a lie, rather than have their life spared by >simply admitting that they made it up. Definitely not! Well I sure as hell wouldn't do that. However the fact is that there are always some people who are willing to sacrifice themselves. They are called fanatics. Fanatics never die for lies, they die for what they *believe* is the truth. Whether it really *is* the truth is a completely different issue, and in my opinion anyone willing to die for a bunch of words does not have reliable judgement in the first place. >That is not >human nature. It is just not human nature. Nearly all humans wouldn't >dedicate their lives to a lie (although Mohammed founder of islam did). Wow, you have just slagged every believer of the second-largest, and fastest-growing religion in the world. How the hell do you know Islam is a lie anyway? At least it is certain that Mohammed existed, and that he wrote the Quran. There's rather a lot more evidence for him than your god incarnate. I suspect that if you had been raised in Iran or Egypt, you would be just as fervent a believer in Allah as you now are of Jehovah. Would you disagree? >However, this was a large group. Some, actually most, wouldn't dedicate >their life to a lie. And then did a death in excruciating pain for 5 >hours. Other people say that Jesus never actually died, but that he >simply swooned and they thought he was dead. First of all, the Romans, >master executioners, never would have let it happen. They were to good >at it. Second, the Bible records that a Roman soldier pierced his side >and blood and water flowed out separately. In the 19th or 2oth century >it was discovered that when a person is dead, the blood and water >separate. Nobody knows if any of this happened, and it doesn't matter anyway. The Romans crucified lots of people, for various reasons. The details of Jesus' death are hardly relevant. The simple fact, which you seem to agree with, is that nobody can survive crucifixion and burial. Any story that says someone did can only be a myth. >>So you're a Christian. >You say that like I should be ashamed of it. Sorry, I didn't mean it like that, simply "as opposed to a non-Christian". Since James is somewhat anti-Christian/religion I was a little surprised to see a Christian discussing "One of the Three", a pointedly anti-Christian song. >I'm not. Many of the >world's greatest men were Christians. Martin Luther King Jr, Galileo, >Isaac Newton, many of the world's smartest most capable men. And many >athletes today are Christians. Many. Hmm. You seem to think that the "argument ad populum" carries logical validity. Sorry but it doesn't. The easily demonstrable fact that a lot of people believe something actually says nothing about the truth of that thing. Until the last couple hundred years, practically every human who ever lived believed the earth was flat. There are still some who do. As you must realize, that turns out to have no bearing on the truth. Or, perhaps you're just saying "I'm in good company". Fine, no argument there. Lots of fine people have been and are Christians, can't argue with that. >A very brilliant man (this is a true story) once set out to write a book >to disprove Christianity. He researched for 3,4 whole years, and then >became a Christian. Who, CS Lewis? So what? Practically all atheists (in this culture) were once Christians. I rather suspect a lot more atheists are ex-Christians than Christians are ex-atheists. >> What do you think about the attitude in the >>song? >Tim has made it clear that he is against religion in general, and >Christianity in particular. >If you feel like debating, then go ahead, i welcome the chance. I think i >debate well for a 15 year old. Yes you do, you speak very well for your age. >I hope that you read what i say and spend a few minutes thinking about >it, please. I have spent many many years thinking about it. It's one of my favourite mental pastimes. >This is a life and death matter after all. Really? Sounds like an opinion, completely unsupported by evidence.
At 01:43 AM 9/28/96 -0700, you wrote: >Hello Randal, I just got back from an extended overseas visit. The dialog >continues. It was not apparent to me from your original message that you are not a theist. I get quite a few notes from theists regarding my public atheism. I apologize for confusing you with them, but in my own defence, your message really was similar to some stuff I get from the theists... >>Now hang on a sec, I've got more than "no clue" that there's no god. In fact >>there's tons of evidence that points that way. Just because it can't be >>proved absolutely does not make it unreasonable to believe it. I can't prove >>Santa Claus doesn't exist either, but he's a lot more likely than some sort >>of infinite creator being. Yet I'm sure neither of us believes he is real. >>What makes gods so different? >You need to study your logic notes. >It is ilogical to try to prove the non-existance of GOD by siting the >non-existance of Santa Claus. I am not trying to prove anything, just comparing the relative levels of evidence for these two hypothetical beings. My point is: why believe in one and not the other? There's no difference in the amount of evidence for either of them. >And I never claimed to believe in an infinite creator being, although there >are some people that do. Yes, sorry again for assuming you are one of them. >You appear to be an agnostic, not a true atheist. No, I am an atheist. I lack belief an any and all gods, and that's the definition of atheism. If you lack any belief in gods, then you are an atheist too. This by itself is termed "weak" atheism. There are many weak atheists on the atheist newsgroups who can defend this point better than me. There's also a good essay on the subject in the alt.atheism FAQ. You should read it, if you haven't already. In addition, I operate under the assumption, and am personally convinced, that there aren't any gods at all, which makes me a "strong" atheist. I admit this is a belief, but it's the only conclusion I can reach given the evidence at hand. >>>Faith, that is the key. You have faith in your belief and Theists have >>>faith in there beliefs. >> >>I don't know what it is about you theists that makes you want to compare >>your theistic faith with skepticism. They are not at all the same thing. >Why are you calling me names. You sound like a Fundamentalist when you do that. >I am not a Theists. Got it... >>Faith, in a religious sense, involves believing in some things despite a >>lack of evidence for them, and often despite direct contradictory evidence. >True. Theists often claim to evidence as do atheists. Evidense is in the >eyes of the Believer. I am unaware of any atheist claiming to be able to prove the non-existence of God. All I claim is that nothing in this universe seems to require the existence of a god to explain it. That is why I cannot make that "leap of faith" which is religious belief. >>Skepticism is the exact opposite - belief is witheld in anything that does >>not have good evidence supporting it. The more outrageous the claim, the >>better the evidence needs to be. If some schmuck comes up to me and wants me >>to believe in his god, I just ask for some evidence. Oddly enough there >>never is any, so I just dismiss his claims as the unsupported nonsense it >>is. You think this is the same as faith? >I'm sorry SKEPTICISM is not available to Atheist's. You have stated your >belief. Skepticism is only available to us agnostics. I cannot agree with this. You seem to think that atheism requires a firm disbelieving position, but it does not. I think one only reaches atheism through skepticism. Skepticism implies disbelief in anything which lacks evidence for its existence. The literal definition of "agnosticism" is: thinks that knowledge of god is unknowable or impossible. You can be a theistic agnostic or an atheistic agnostic. I am not an agnostic because I think it's pretty clear to me that there are no gods, and that this conclusion is reasonable given the evidence. I do not claim to be able to prove this, however. >>My belief that there is no god is subject to change as soon as some good >>evidence turns up, and I am perfectly willing to admit that. The only >>"belief" I have is that such evidence is unlikely to turn up, and experience >>has so far confirmed this. In other words, I'm not holding my breath. >Wow, this sounds like an agnostic statement. It is perfectly compatible with atheism. >>I want to know what the TRUTH is, and if some hypothetical god cares to >>reveal itself, I'll give up atheism in a flash. Being an atheist has its >>down side - I wouldn't mind knowing that my consciousness will live forever. >>Oh well... >Don't worry, even the Theists don't "KNOW" that their consciousness will >live forever. They only believe that it will. Belief does not impart >knowledge. I meant to imply that because they are personally convinced, they really do think they "know" this. If I was a theist, I would "know" this as well (though my current mind-set thinks I would probably be wrong). >>...as soon as you start claiming the objective existance of >>supernatural beings with specific properties, you should expect to be asked >>for evidence before I will simply accept it. >Fair enough, If I ever ask you to believe in a supernatural being I'll try >to have evidence. >Remember: Religion is for those that have given up on persuing the truth. >But I still believe in spirituallity Spirituality can be shown to exist. I have no problem with this. Whether there is an intelligent supernatural being involved is another question.
At 09:42 PM 9/29/96 -0700, you wrote: >>At 01:43 AM 9/28/96 -0700, you wrote: >> >>>Hello Randal, I just got back from an extended overseas visit. The dialog >>>continues. >> >>Brien, >> >>It was not apparent to me from your original message that you are not a >>theist. I get quite a few notes from theists regarding my public atheism. I >>apologize for confusing you with them, but in my own defence, your message >>really was similar to some stuff I get from the theists... > >It is pretty easy to get defensive. And in all actuallity I was raised by a >Catholic mother and an Atheist father. I guess I just can't reject either >of their stands. It seems so crazy and hard headed to claim the existance >or non-existance of a GOD or GOD's. What is crazy or hard-headed about not accepting the existence of entities which 1. Have absolutely no reliable evidence for them and 2. If they did exist as hypothesized, would contradict and render invalid entire branches of painstakingly acquired scientific knowledge - knowledge supported by uncounted observations and contradicted by none ?? >I tend toward being a >Solopsist,(Spelling may be wrong). A solopsist is some one who believes only >in the self. All other things being impressions from gathered sense data, >and therefore ultimatily unproveable as existing. I'm familiar with solopsism, but I do think that it is useless as a philosophy. If everything (except the self) does not or may not exist, then there is no possible path to knowledge. It could just be personal preference, but I prefer to attempt to gain knowledge through the only known reliable tool: reason. Otherwise, there is nothing at all, and everything is illusion, and anything is possible. >But I guess I'm a weak >Solopsist also, for I think it would be terrible if I were actually alone, >so I have hope and faith that others do exist and that the sense data I >collect represents the truth. Pretty wierd Huh? That's not weird at all. It sounds very similar to theists' thinking, and they are by far the majority. "It gives me comfort to believe in God and all His works, Heaven and so on" Sound familiar? >All we really have to go on is the sense data we collect, and we have to >have faith in the belief that it represents reality. If you want to call this faith, then fine, all you are proving is that you are a solopsist. For me, the difference between this and *religious* faith, is that my sense data can be corroborated by others. If it cannot, then I think that is a reliable indication that I am deluded in some way. There's plenty of evidence that humans can be deluded in many different ways, so it would be foolish of me to think that I or anyone else are beyond delusion. If someone starts claiming things which contradict reality, the most obvious conclusion is that they are deluded. >>I am not trying to prove anything, just comparing the relative levels of >>evidence for these two hypothetical beings. My point is: why believe in one >>and not the other? There's no difference in the amount of evidence for >>either of them. >One is a story that we soon learn is false through direct observation, the >other is a story that continues to intrigue us till the day we die. Speak for yourself. I have learned that God is false similarly to Santa. You have failed to point out any significant difference. >There >are many mysteries on this planet that are impossible to answer though >science. So? All this shows is that some things are as yet unexplained. No-one is claiming that science has all the answers at this time. However, it may help your point if you could come up with some examples. I am not aware of any particular mysteries that don't have a non-supernatural *possible* (if not probable) explanation. >I remember when I was in a Physics class many years ago. I was >fasinated by the fact that electrons were repelled by other electrons, I >asked the professor why this was. His reply was that science does not deal >with the question "why" anymore, only the question "how". Of course. Real science never did ask "why" as that is a philosophical question that has no possible practical answer. Why does the universe exist? Why are physical laws the way they are? Why do I exist? Why do I feel pain? Why do I feel pleasure? Why do I wonder about these things? There's no quantitative answer to any of these questions, so they are uninteresting from a scientific point of view. Many people think a god must be involved, to satisfy their yearning and curiosity. Science describes the way things work, and *very importantly*, allows us to predict what will happen under various circumstances. It's a tool for understanding, but can only describe the workings of the universe, and not explain a *reason* for it being the way it is. When backed into a corner, theists usually come down to this point. They cannot accept that there is no intelligent designer who created things the way they are. So they dream up "reasons" why such a powerful being did so, and then believe it unconditionally. Unfortunately for their argument there's no demonstrable reason why this needs to be the case. And even if such a god was necessary, it doesn't begin to explain all the ridiculous details, like creating the earth in 7 days, or turning people into pillars of salt, or sending their "children" to earth in human form to be killed as a sacrifice, and so on. >I believe that >whenever you ask "why" a thing works you are treading close if not on the >spiritual realm. >Science is only intrested in HOW things work, so that we can reproduce them. In this context, what meaning does "why" have? Spirituality is an intensely personal emotional experience. In what sense does it reveal any "truths" about the universe? I think it satisfies emotional cravings, but not much more. >> This by itself is termed "weak" atheism. There are many weak >>atheists on the atheist newsgroups who can defend this point better than me. >>There's also a good essay on the subject in the alt.atheism FAQ. You should >>read it, if you haven't already. >> >I have not read it. I only happened upon your site, and decided you were >interesting enough to write to. You can read the alt.atheism FAQ's at http://freethought.tamu.edu/news/atheism/ It will probably be worth your while. >>In addition, I operate under the assumption, and am personally convinced, >>that there aren't any gods at all, which makes me a "strong" atheist. I >>admit this is a belief, but it's the only conclusion I can reach given the >>evidence at hand. >> >This sounds so angery. I can't blame you for it. Angry? I think it's rather cold and clinical. Not much emotion involved, it is a rational decision reached after rational thought. In any event, do you have anything to say about my conclusion? >>I am unaware of any atheist claiming to be able to prove the non-existence >>of God. All I claim is that nothing in this universe seems to require the >>existence of a god to explain it. That is why I cannot make that "leap of >>faith" which is religious belief. >I think Bertrand Russell tried to prove the non-existance of GOD. I haven't read a lot of Russell, but his famous "Why I am not a Christian" gives plenty of good support for the title (and there is plenty). However there is no attempt to prove the non-existance of God, just refutations of the "usual" arguments for God, such as the Argument from Design, and so on. In general these refutations are fairly easy to do, though he was most eloquent. Can you refer to any work of his which attempts to disprove God? Certainly piliing up mountains of evidence against God constitutes a good reason to disbelieve, but did he actually try to logically disprove the concept of God? Mind you, anyone can disprove the really powerful gods by simply citing the speed of light. Any being hypothesized to be capable of understanding or controlling the entire universe would need to transfer information faster than the speed of light (if not infinitely fast) and this is impossible. >>I cannot agree with this. You seem to think that atheism requires a firm >>disbelieving position, but it does not. I think one only reaches atheism >>through skepticism. Skepticism implies disbelief in anything which lacks >>evidence for its existence. >> >I guess I'm not up on all the different levels of belief. There must be a >thousand catagories. There's three that I know of: - theism : believes there is/are god(s) - weak atheism : has no belief in any god(s) - strong athiesm : believes there is no god Agnosticism is adjacent to this: - agnostic : believes knowledge of god is unattainable - non-agnostic : believes one can know god (or know there isn't a god) Again, this is explained in the FAQ's. >>The literal definition of "agnosticism" is: thinks that knowledge of god is >>unknowable or impossible. You can be a theistic agnostic or an atheistic >>agnostic. I am not an agnostic because I think it's pretty clear to me that >>there are no gods, and that this conclusion is reasonable given the evidence. >> >I did know that one could be a Theistic Agnostic, or an Atheistic Agnostic. >I may have to take a stand. No you don't, but it's worth thinking about. In my opinion it is better to know where one stands than to just say "who knows, whatever..." >>>Remember: Religion is for those that have given up on persuing the truth. >>>But I still believe in spirituallity >> >>Spirituality can be shown to exist. I have no problem with this. Whether >>there is an intelligent supernatural being involved is another question.
From randallg@telemark.net Wed Oct 02 22:41:07 1996 Newsgroups: alt.atheism.moderated Subject: Re: The Problem of Evil for atheist- A BIBLE STORY From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) In article , armster@taurus.oac.uci.edu says... >The fact that Lot sent his daughters >out to be gang-banged by this mob is only a sidelight to >the moral depravity that is the general context of >Sodom at this time. Lot was just doing what the >natives do. Do you actually believe that Lot existed, that he lived in Sodom (or Gomorrah or whatever), was visited by angels, sent his daughters to be gang banged, fled the city, and his wife was turned to salt by God? If you don't insist this is literal truth, then we're just arguing about the details of fables, and Aesop had much better ones for illustrating morality. randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~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
From randallg@telemark.net Sat Nov 16 23:18:16 1996 Newsgroups: alt.atheism.moderated Subject: Re: WANTED: Jehovah, for criminaly neglegent homicide From: randallg@telemark.net (randall g) In article <19961109130300.IAA14164@ladder01.news.aol.com>, jamess1889@aol.com says... >In article <3281928B.5899@flash.net>, Gregory A Greenman writes: > >>I mean one of the points I was trying >>to make in my prayer is that if god is really all good, all powerful and >>all knowing, then prayer should be totally unnecessary and pointless. > >"It" would also have no need for us, would it? What purpose do we >serve in such a scenario? None in particular, of course. Why do you think there is some sort of cosmic universal purpose? There's no evidence for it. >What about the other half of the dilemma: If god prevents evil from >happening, where is free will? Who cares? Free will is a concept invented by Christians as an excuse for the miserable suffering occuring in this universe their supposedly perfect god created. However, if we assume free will for the purpose of discussion, I can imagine many scenarios in which free will is compatible with an omni-* god. For instance, a god could use magic to physically restrain those who intend to do harm. Perhaps they would find it frustrating, but their will to do harm would not be impaired. The god could still judge their desires and send them to hell. >This of course does not necessarily cover the kind of evil you go on >to describe: natural disasters. But at least with the other kind - >perpetrated by people, that issue of free will comes into it. Maybe >you aren't thinking of that kind? It doesn't matter what *kind* of evil is occuring, or what its specific cause is. If there is any at all, the Problem of Evil renders the omni-* god logically inconsistent. >>The existence of evil proves that one or more of the three possibilities >>I mentioned are true. If any of those three possibilities are true, then >>the christian god cannot exist. > >Or else there is another possibility that you didn't account for. How can >you be sure? Like what? The only other possibility is that it does not exist. This follows from simple logic. Which of the omni-* properties are you willing to chuck out? >>Of course the christian answer to evil is that god wants people to have >>free will. Therefore he allows people to do what they want even if it's >>evil. > >You make it sound as if christians think that god doesn't care about what >people do. What this being cares about is irrelevant. Since we can't know that, its actions are all we have to go on. If it didn't care, then it would not be omnibenevolant. Christians claim that it is omnibenevolent, so I thought we agree on that. If this is the case, then it cannot be omnipotent, for it demonstrates daily an inability to prevent evil. Perhaps your god is more like the new-age "universal life force" type of thing. >That may be your conclusion based on your previous triad, >but christians learned to conclude thusly. They do come close: god may >not prevent evil before the fact, but he certainly doesn't allow it after the >fact - in other words, approve of it. So what? This doesn't explain why it allows it in the first place. Unless it's not as powerful as you think, of course. Or maybe it can't see into the future. >I know - if he disapproves, why did he >let them do it in the first place? It's just that I can't help the feeling that >the god you are disproving is one that no one follows in the first place and >not the only "god" in town. Then explain why you think so. Your assertion is baseless. Christians are always going on about how good and powerful this thing is. Ever been to a Christian church service? I've been to about 1500 of them, and they endlessly praised this being for its perfection. EVERY SINGLE TIME. Sure, thousands of gods have been invented over the ages, and most of them were not thought to be as powerful as the Christian god. The Problem of Evil is not a problem for them. Maybe your god is one of them. But I thought we were talking about the modern variant of Jehovah. If not, which of the omni properties does your god lack? >>There are several flaws with this: >> >>1. If I know some man is planning to rape some woman and I have the power >> to prevent it, I don't say: "Well I don't want to interfere with his >> free will". I prevent the crime. Failure to do so would mean I'm not >> a good person (or at least not all good). > >In other words, by analogy, god wouldn't say that either, right? Only if you claim your god has morals at least as good as the average human. >Of course, >if god did step in and prevent evil from time to time, how would we know? We wouldn't, of course. Your god is an expert at hiding its existence. Absolutely nothing it does is detectable. But you miss the point again. If this god even allows one act of evil, while preventing all others, you still have a major contradiction. Even if it is actively preventing practically all acts of evil, without our knowledge, thus preventing our world from being a much worse place, the evils that remain are enough to contradict this being. Unless, of course, you are talking about something less than perfect. >> If god can prevent me >> from doing these things without violating my free will, why can't >> he prevent a rape without violating the rapist's free will? > >Or else, why *doesn't* he, right? > >Actually, that's a tough question. All I can think of at the moment are >excuses, which don't seem appropriate. Great. Why don't you just become an atheist, and save yourself the angst? >>3. Not all evil is man made. Alot of human suffering is brought on by >> natural disasters. Historically man has had little or no control >> over these. > >Perhaps. Then again, I live near the Mississippi river, which flooded >quite a bit of land about 3 years ago. Actually the Missouri river and >a few other connected rivers also flooded their fair share of land. I >heard many expert voices point out how human greed may have had >something to do with the level of damage at least, if not the entire >disaster. I don't think I can reconstruct the argument since that's >not my field, but there's at least one example of a "natural" disaster >that may not have been so natural. Oh boy, you have managed to re-classify a natural disaster into a free will inspired disaster. And what the hell is wrong with the human "greed" involved in causing the event? These humans just want to make a living farming in the flood plain, do you think they have some sort of reasonable ambition to become hugely rich and powerful doing so? You equate "greed" with "making a living" which is typical Christian bullshit. Jesus would have agreed I'm sure, good Communist that he was. The worst thing you can accuse these flood victims of is short-sightedness, which is caused by a lack of knowledge, not GREED. YOUR GOD HAD A CHANCE TO IMPART SOME KNOWLEDGE AND IT DIDN'T! It could have showed up a few decades ago and said, "Look, I'm God, here's some proof. Good, now that I've got your attention, I'm going to urge you not to build farms on the Mississippi floodplain, because if you do, you will risk being flooded out badly some day" >>1. god exists >>2. god is all good >>3. god is all powerful >>4. god is all knowing >>5. reality exists as we perceive it >> >Premises 1-4 are human concepts that may be incapable of >comprehending the "object" being described. These are very simple concepts. I understand them, and I am presuming that you do too. >Not that christians are above making excuses for god. I'll say. They are forced to do so constantly. >It also depends on how you >define "good", especially when the word "all" precedes it. Care to give a definition? All the definitions I am familiar with don't work out with your god. >>The only intellectually honest thing to do is to admit this and try >>to determine which premises are incorrect. Unfortunately, most >>christians deny any contradiction. > >Or, they could be their best attempt to understand god. In spite of the obvious and fatal logical contradictions. What does this say about them? >No >christian really knows for sure that god is all powerful or all good or >all knowing or even that he exists - at least not today they don't, not >by empirical standards. Then why believe any of it? It's the faith thing, right? >On the other hand, there is recorded >history of people who have believed in this god nonetheless, and >there is a document that purports to tell the story of people who >actually encountered this god in the flesh. Big deal. There's documented belief in a thousand other gods too. What makes documented belief in this one any different? >It's a big step to take the word of these "witnesses" that what they >believed in was real. Of course. Every big a step as taking the word of all the Napoleons who show up in the psych wards. >On the other hand, how can these witnesses >defend themselves? Don't get me wrong, if someone believes, then >they alone are responsible for the implications of that, not the ones >who came before them. But they might just feel they can live with >being called intellectually dishonest. I'm not sure what your point is here. Who cares what someone believes? All kinds of weird people believe all kinds of weird things, from Elvis Presley being seen alive to God telling them to take out a Macdonalds with an AK47. There's no point in accepting any of it without concrete evidence. >>This is what is most aggravating about debating christians and >>other theists, on this issue they refuse to be intellectually >>honest. > >And perhaps I am making you regret your disclaimer. No. You are attempting to put an intellectual facade on to what is nothing but contradictory and unsubstantiated belief in the supernatural. >Actually I >have not so much been struggling with these questions as trying >to meet you folks half way and see if there are any connections >we can make. Perhaps you should struggle with the questions a bit more. >On the other hand, I can at least admit that I don't >have a resolution of this contradiction. Well, we've got one. Why can't you accept it? >>not make you intellectually dishonest. Just please don't make the >>same mistake so many theists do when they decide that no >>resolution is necessary. > >Actually, based on what I know today, I don't believe any resolution >is *possible*. "Necessary" can't compete with that. You are correct here. No resolution is possible, so long as there are billions of people who are content to believe in fairy tales. >What you have your finger on is that I don't lose that much sleep >over the dilemma. Why? Because you are happy and content with your fairy tale. >Well actually, I think the existence of evil >is a much more serious problem than the origin of evil. Of course it is. Since there is no god, we have no choice but to deal with evil as best we can. No supernatural being is going to pluck us from the jaws of death when we are threatened. This has never happened, and never will. There is no antidote to evil better than justice, but the only justice that exists is the justice we make for ourselves, as a very large tribe of sentient beings. The evils of the past, and their origins, is a proper field of study. History shows us the development of human societies: from tribal groups, to towns, to cities, to empires. Religion and power were the driving force for a long time. Much of the actual evil that really happened here on earth was the direct cause of religious belief and how the powerful used religion to justify their whims. >As you >point out, evil is here - regardless of where it came from. The >question is, what to do about it? Value yourself Value your freedoms Understand that others are like yourself Respect others Respect their freedoms Help when you can This will result in the maximum benefit to yourself This will result in the maximum benefit to others as well Everyone wins No god required. >I think I'm standing right on "the >line" with that question, so I'll stop there. Why, would your answer be much different? >Thank you for your response. I am enriched by my participation in >this group, if only to understand my own beliefs better. I would be interested in hearing how this note affected your understanding of your beliefs. >Jim Squire randall g mailto:randallg@telemark.net http://www.telemark.net/~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
At 08:27 AM 11/18/96 -0800, you wrote: >Hello, my name is and I'm a student at State >University and I'm writing a paper on how religion is a business. >I've read your homepage and I found it interesting and useful. I would >like to know if you have ant ideas on the subject since you seem to be >very sure of your religious status. I've been thinking of the same >things as you of how God hasn't proven to be real at any point in time >and that people have taken advantage of this "religion" and have >manipulated people to do whatever they want them to do. For exmaple >Waco , Texas and the sect that was there. I have some other examples, >but I would very much like to know what you have to say about this issue. >Thanks for you time. > I don't have a helluva lot to say, without specific questions. Religion is definately a business, and in general, a very profitable one. Unlike all other businesses they need not report their income or pay any income tax on their profit. This cozy arrangement has allowed them to become the owners of a significant fraction of city land, for which they pay no property tax either. You could look up what estimates of their worth is, or estimates of how much land they own. Your local property tax offices should have this information. It's mind-boggling. A recent ballot initiative in Colorado, which proposed applying property tax to the non-profits (particularly aimed at churches), failed to pass. If Christianity had a business plan, it would be something like this: "We'll invent a disease called sin, then we'll persuade as many gullible fools as possible that they have it, and that we have the only cure, which is to join our club, and we can charge arbitrarily large fees by preying on their fear and guilt." Here's a quote from The Canadian Atheist - Winter 95 TAX-FREE HAVEN Douglas Todd, religion writer at The Vancouver Sun recently did a piece on a row of assorted churches being built on a stretch of Southeast Marine Drive. One posh prayer palace, he said, was “assessed for tax purposes at $1.7 million.” What he did not say was that no taxes will be paid on the joint. It would be an enlightening exercise for atheists to determine from their local property tax office, the value of tax exempt church property in the community and the amount of taxes that should be paid by the righteous freeloaders. There is not a church in Canada that pays taxes...not on the building itself nor on their incomes. They are exempt from advalorem taxes on their properties, from sales tax, from inheritance tax and from taxes on the money they make from stocks and bonds. (It is widely known that churches and religious institutions heavily invest their money in the stock markets.) Those innocuous little collection baskets alone pull in millions of tax-free dollars per year. Church holdings include vast amounts of privately owned land. Because they take that untaxable land out of the land base, our taxes are higher. Each year municipal councils pass resolutions to exempt the religious institutions from paying property tax. Not a single taxpayer, theist or atheist, is consulted. Here's a quote from The Canadian Atheist - Spring 96 A movement in Colorado has gathered more than 88,000 signatures on a petition calling for equal taxation. In other words, tax the churches. We have researched the church property assessment figures for our Greater Vancouver, BC area which includes the city and 11 surrounding municipalities with a population of about 1.3 million. The tax exempt assessed value of churches in the 12 areas totals $854,738,500! The average residential mill rate for the group is 7.309. This represents foregone tax revenue of $6,247,280. If we do rough calculations to include the whole country we conclude that the religious loopholers are getting away without paying property taxes of about $160,000,000 in Canada. We wonder why cash-starved local governments don't jump at the chance to ask the churches to participate in the community instead of riding free. You can see the Canadian Atheist online at http://magi.com/~galent/hao-ca.html