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rxwine
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November 30th, 2011 at 8:21:16 PM permalink
The idea that God allows evil and suffering, although he could do something about it, but doesn't and doesn't even accept blame for any of it. It might be the model for the Catholic pedophilia scandal.
There's no secret. Just know what you're talking about before you open your mouth.
Garnabby
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November 30th, 2011 at 8:52:23 PM permalink
Not necessarily. Maybe something has been done about it, but most of us (here) "think" that we have too much invested in our own (privileged) lives to want to look in the right place for that intervention?

But that sort of "religion" is a racket, with God and Devil as one and same. Let's bore the heck out them with the sermons, the moralistic expectations, then serve them up ale at the local pub, to give them something to repent early the next day. The first cause of "what makes the world go round"?
Why bet at all, if you can be sure? Anyway, what constitutes a "good bet"? - The best slots-game in town; a sucker's edge; or some gray-area blackjack-stunts? (P.S. God doesn't even have to exist to be God.)
rxwine
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November 30th, 2011 at 8:59:05 PM permalink
The Catholic Church was highly motivated by forces outside of it to do something - which is pretty much the same as aiming to doing nothing in my opinion.
There's no secret. Just know what you're talking about before you open your mouth.
wrragsdale
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December 4th, 2011 at 11:49:07 AM permalink
Those things happened because our God (I say OUR because he's yours whether you accept him or not) was just in the beginning to give man free will to make choices. You and I make our own choice to believe, pray, worship or not. The people that committed these acts made choices. Why didn't he intercede? Choices have consequences! It's no more complicated than that. You have to make the choice to live for him, as I do. Ask him into your heart, and scripture tells us that he is faithful and just to forgive you. But should you elect not to then ask yourself this...
What IF I'm right and you're wrong and there is a heaven and hell?
Treating people with love and respect, following a moral code that the Bible outlines for us, how can being a good person be a bad thing?
Why take the chance that I MIGHT be right, because here's the thing.....
Even if you don't believe in Hell doesn't mean you won't go!
Remember free will.......
He loves you and so do I!
Nareed
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December 4th, 2011 at 12:56:36 PM permalink
Quote: wrragsdale

Those things happened because our God (I say OUR because he's yours whether you accept him or not)



And this is the sort of patronizing arrogance that makes me want to respond with much hostility.

Quote:

Why take the chance that I MIGHT be right, because here's the thing.....
Even if you don't believe in Hell doesn't mean you won't go!



It's interesting how all arguments boil down to: do as god says, or else!
Donald Trump is a fucking criminal
s2dbaker
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December 4th, 2011 at 4:14:20 PM permalink
Quote: wrragsdale

Those things happened because our God (I say OUR because he's yours whether you accept him or not)..

Ahura Mazda thanks you for recognizing His omnipotence. All praises to His prophet, Zarathustra!!
Quote: wrragsdale

.. What IF I'm right and you're wrong and there is a heaven and hell?

Here's the thing, you are only slightly less atheistic than an atheist. You believe that all Gods are false except your God. An atheist simply believes that there's one more choice that is false. You're playing lotto with your God choice as much as any atheist. You have no significant advantage in the afterlife lottery.
Quote: wrragsdale

Treating people with love and respect, following a moral code that the Bible outlines for us, how can being a good person be a bad thing?

You haven't read your bible, have you? Did you know that you can own slaves (as long as they are Mexican or Canadian, see Leviticus 25:44-46)? How about treating people with love and with respect because it's the right thing to do, not because you'll be eternally damned if you do not?
Quote: wrragsdale


Why take the chance that I MIGHT be right, because here's the thing.....
Even if you don't believe in Hell doesn't mean you won't go!
Remember free will.......
He loves you and so do I!

I take comfort in hearing that your invisible friend loves me and that you do too. But I really don't need His approval in order to behave like a good person. As a matter of fact, I think I can be a much better person without Him.
Someday, joor goin' to see the name of Googie Gomez in lights and joor goin' to say to joorself, "Was that her?" and then joor goin' to answer to joorself, "That was her!" But you know somethin' mister? I was always her yuss nobody knows it! - Googie Gomez
poosmells
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December 6th, 2011 at 5:47:13 PM permalink
Quote: WizardofEngland

I believe there is no GOD, and here are my reasons why..

Why do horrible things happen?

September 11th?
The Hollocaust?
Glee?

Any self respecting GOD would not allow any of these things to have ever occurred.



That is why there is also the Devil.....
"Stupid people are Stupid and that is Stupid."
s2dbaker
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December 7th, 2011 at 3:06:16 AM permalink
Quote: poosmells

That is why there is also the Devil.....

The why does God allow the devil?
Someday, joor goin' to see the name of Googie Gomez in lights and joor goin' to say to joorself, "Was that her?" and then joor goin' to answer to joorself, "That was her!" But you know somethin' mister? I was always her yuss nobody knows it! - Googie Gomez
odiousgambit
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December 7th, 2011 at 3:53:32 AM permalink
Quote:

Why do horrible things happen?

September 11th?
The Hollocaust?
Glee?



Is Glee really so bad? Never seen it.
the next time Dame Fortune toys with your heart, your soul and your wallet, raise your glass and praise her thus: “Thanks for nothing, you cold-hearted, evil, damnable, nefarious, low-life, malicious monster from Hell!”   She is, after all, stone deaf. ... Arnold Snyder
JB
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December 7th, 2011 at 4:51:57 AM permalink
Quote: s2dbaker

The why does God allow the devil?


I'm not sure if it's accurate, but check out the first 2 minutes and 21 seconds of this:



The message being, how can good exist unless evil also exists.
s2dbaker
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December 7th, 2011 at 10:02:16 AM permalink
Quote: JB

The message being, how can good exist unless evil also exists.

People decide what constitutes Good and Evil with many disagreements as to which is which. Since ultimately it's people that decide for themselves what is Good and what is Evil, then it's up to each person to create their own God.
Someday, joor goin' to see the name of Googie Gomez in lights and joor goin' to say to joorself, "Was that her?" and then joor goin' to answer to joorself, "That was her!" But you know somethin' mister? I was always her yuss nobody knows it! - Googie Gomez
FrGamble
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December 7th, 2011 at 9:18:41 PM permalink
Am I the only one that thinks it is a bad idea for each of us to just make up what is good or evil? Couldn't we safely say that there are some things that are evil or good and it does not depend of what you or I or anyone thinks, they are just bad or good because that is the way they are? Rape is bad and Studebaker cars are good. I doubt anyone could disagree with that.
EvenBob
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December 7th, 2011 at 9:44:12 PM permalink
Quote: FrGamble

Couldn't we safely say that there are some things that are evil or good and it does not depend of what you or I or anyone thinks,.



Evil doesn't exist outside our opinion, how could it. Evil
only exists by comparing it to good, it can't exist on its own.
"It's not called gambling if the math is on your side."
Mosca
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December 7th, 2011 at 9:57:23 PM permalink
Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary use words.

This makes sense in all contexts, if you decapitalize "gospel". Do we have to define good and evil? Or can we demonstrate good by living it, and same with evil?

Do unto others. Be considerate. Forgive. Don't be a pushover, but don't be greedy.

Be honorable. Live up to your promises. Have your brothers' and sisters' backs.

I dunno, it's easier to live it than it is to list it.
A falling knife has no handle.
thecesspit
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December 7th, 2011 at 10:20:13 PM permalink
You can define evil without reference to good (and vice versa). Defining something in terms of it's opposite doesn't do anyone much good. Evil doesn't exist as an abscence of good. Evil exists (either subjectively or objectively) in and off itself. A lack of evil things happening to you is not by itself good.

Evil could exist as a platonic concept, if you subscribed to that sort of philosophy.

As for FrGamble's comment "isn't it uncomfortable that we all have our good/evil". Yes, maybe so. However that doesn't mean that there IS an external, objective measure of morality. You are falling into the logical fallacy that because something ought to be, it is.

I like Mosca's comments.
"Then you can admire the real gambler, who has neither eaten, slept, thought nor lived, he has so smarted under the scourge of his martingale, so suffered on the rack of his desire for a coup at trente-et-quarante" - Honore de Balzac, 1829
EvenBob
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December 8th, 2011 at 5:43:47 AM permalink
Quote: thecesspit

You are falling into the logical fallacy that because something ought to be, it is. .



Thats the argument all religionists use, they reverse engineer everything.
This looks like a creation, there must be a creator. There is obviously
good, so there must be evil. The universe must have meaning, therefore
it does. If it has meaning, it must be moral. If you think life exists just
for the sake of existing, and not for a reason, you can't possibly be happy.
On and on, they make up logical fallacies and then pretend they're real.
"It's not called gambling if the math is on your side."
FrGamble
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December 8th, 2011 at 6:49:51 AM permalink
It seems to be that many non-religious people are using a similar logical fallacy of radical doubt. If something ought to be true it obviously does not follow that it has to be, but would it not be fair to say that we should lean that way. It seems as if some atheists are saying yes it would be wonderful to believe my life has meaning and there is some ultimate purpose and I feel in my gut somehow that there is more to life and to me than some cosmic accident, yet I will not believe it. It is as if they say yes there is creation and logically I would imagine there is a creator but NO I will not believe that, nor entertain any thought about it, and even ridicule those who do.
Nareed
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December 8th, 2011 at 6:59:31 AM permalink
Quote: thecesspit

As for FrGamble's comment "isn't it uncomfortable that we all have our good/evil". Yes, maybe so. However that doesn't mean that there IS an external, objective measure of morality.



There is an external, objective measure of morality. No moral code lacks one. Every moral code has a standard of value, otherwise no morality is possible. In religion the standard of value often is god, and therefore obedience to god is paramount. That's also why there's a double standard concerning god's actions.
Donald Trump is a fucking criminal
Nareed
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December 8th, 2011 at 7:04:43 AM permalink
Quote: FrGamble

It seems as if some atheists are saying yes it would be wonderful to believe my life has meaning and there is some ultimate purpose and I feel in my gut somehow that there is more to life and to me than some cosmic accident, yet I will not believe it.



1) I believe my life has meaning
2) I believe there is much more to life than a mere series of random events.
3) I don't eblieve there is some "ultimate purpose;" I don't even know what that means.
4) I do believe points 1 and 2.

Quote:

It is as if they say yes there is creation and logically I would imagine there is a creator but NO I will not believe that, nor entertain any thought about it, and even ridicule those who do.



5) I don't see a creation. I see existence. Therefore I don't see the need for a creator nor any evidence of one.
Donald Trump is a fucking criminal
Mosca
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December 8th, 2011 at 7:06:15 AM permalink
Quote: FrGamble

It seems to be that many non-religious people are using a similar logical fallacy of radical doubt. If something ought to be true it obviously does not follow that it has to be, but would it not be fair to say that we should lean that way. It seems as if some atheists are saying yes it would be wonderful to believe my life has meaning and there is some ultimate purpose and I feel in my gut somehow that there is more to life and to me than some cosmic accident, yet I will not believe it. It is as if they say yes there is creation and logically I would imagine there is a creator but NO I will not believe that, nor entertain any thought about it, and even ridicule those who do.



FrG, I think we must just be wired differently. There doesn't need to be more than what I see for what I see to have meaning. What I'm saying is, you don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. OK, there's no god. But let's start there, and take a look at what's being taught. Continuing my theme from above, let's change

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.


O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen


To:


Make me an instrument of peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

Grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are remembered.


I think we now have a pretty decent starting point for "good".

You must concede that there has been terrible, terrible evil done in the name of Christianity, and all religions, continuing to this day. But those are the deeds of THOSE men. There are other men and women who have walked this earth and, in the name of those same religions, spread the truth of humanity. I choose to follow those men and women.


Keeping it Christian, for simplicity:

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.


(Attributed to Mother Theresa, but the author is Kent Keith.)


If you have no god, does that make it less true?
A falling knife has no handle.
Garnabby
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December 8th, 2011 at 9:39:23 AM permalink
Quote: Nareed

That's also why there's a double standard concerning god's actions.


Isn't religion just another branch of philosophy, with its own thought-out underlaying systems of, egs, worship, and retribution?
Why bet at all, if you can be sure? Anyway, what constitutes a "good bet"? - The best slots-game in town; a sucker's edge; or some gray-area blackjack-stunts? (P.S. God doesn't even have to exist to be God.)
Garnabby
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December 8th, 2011 at 9:57:23 AM permalink
What surprises me the most here is the seemingly-complete lack of common ground between the "believers" and the "non-believers". Does anyone believe it's that simple, or black-and-white?

Wouldn't it be a lot quicker to try to prove out as many of the other guys' points, etc, as possible in an effort to iterate to some sort of a real conclusion by limit?

I don't know about you, but i'm willing to risk the solution being uninteresting, the universe suddenly subscribing to a new one, etc.
Why bet at all, if you can be sure? Anyway, what constitutes a "good bet"? - The best slots-game in town; a sucker's edge; or some gray-area blackjack-stunts? (P.S. God doesn't even have to exist to be God.)
Mosca
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December 8th, 2011 at 10:07:16 AM permalink
Quote: Garnabby

What surprises me the most here is the seemingly-complete lack of common ground between the "believers" and the "non-believers". Does anyone believe it's that simple, or black-and-white?

Wouldn't it be a lot quicker to try to prove out as many of the other guys' points, etc, as possible in an effort to iterate to some sort of a real conclusion by limit?

I don't know about you, but i'm willing to risk the solution being uninteresting, the universe suddenly subscribing to a new one, etc.



No matter how much we know, life and existence will always be mysterious. Every answer raises an infinity of questions. I've never thought of a lack of belief in a god as an admission of banality; to me it's the exact opposite. A god is too simple an answer for such a magnificent existence.

Invoking a god ends inquiry. It is why Notre Dame will never join the Big 10... it has nothing to do with sports, and everything to do with the pooled research dollars and where they will be spent, specifically stem cell research.

Religion is about finite answers. Science is about infinite questions. The two will never reconcile.
A falling knife has no handle.
FrGamble
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December 8th, 2011 at 10:08:04 AM permalink
Mosca thanks for your good post. I have learned through the discussions on this forum that just because you do not believe in God does not mean you are neccessarily unhappy or immoral. I no longer hold that position. However I still struggle with the idea that your happiness and morality is not based on your disbelief in God. You see I think the way we may be wired differently is my happiness, my goodness, my hope, my peace, my everything is directly connected to my belief in God. I can't stress this enough - God is everything to me and without Him I know my life would fall apart and there would be no joy for me, call it a crutch or a weakness I don't care.

What I hear you and many other atheists saying is that your happiness, your goodness, your hope, your peace, your everything is not because you do not believe in God, that is just what you consider a fact and reality, you ground yourself in something else whch brings you joy. What is that in which you are grounded in without God that makes life meaningful, brings you happiness, and encourages you to do good?

Your secular prayers are beautiful and you are right without God the meaning is not less true. However why does it make sense to be forgiving, loving, frank and honest if ultimately it doesn't matter? I think one would say because it is the right thing to do, but if you take the idea there is no God to its logical conclusion then ultimately it doesn't matter and good and evil don't make sense. The only purely logical way of living based on the belief that there is no God would seem to me to be - live it up, do whatever is going to make you happy for the longest amount of time, don't waste time thinking about others, lie, cheat, steal, whatever you need to do to make this crazy chance of life pleasurable for you now because there is nothing afterwards except death and nothingness.

It just seems to me that my goodness is based on my belief in God and your goodness (which I do not doubt) is in spite of your idea there is no God.
Garnabby
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December 8th, 2011 at 10:11:33 AM permalink
Quote: FrGamble

Mosca thanks for your good post.


Yes. But that conclusion is something i am comfortably in disagreement against!
Why bet at all, if you can be sure? Anyway, what constitutes a "good bet"? - The best slots-game in town; a sucker's edge; or some gray-area blackjack-stunts? (P.S. God doesn't even have to exist to be God.)
EvenBob
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December 8th, 2011 at 12:44:36 PM permalink
Joseph Campbell started out his career as a devout
Catholic, but that dropped away as he began his
lifelong study of all religions. He eventually came to
the conclusion that the idea of god is impossible. He
said god, as we use the word, is a metaphor that
includes everything we don't understand about the
universe. Thats why god has shrunk so much in the
last 400 years, the more we learn thru science, the
smaller god becomes.
"It's not called gambling if the math is on your side."
EvenBob
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December 8th, 2011 at 12:50:48 PM permalink
Quote: FrGamble

It seems as if some atheists are saying yes it would be wonderful to believe my life has meaning



Which atheists are those, exactly. You seem to think life
can only have one meaning, service to god. In fact, it can
have as many meanings as possible, your imagination is
the limits. Joseph Campbell said 'follow your bliss' to find
meaning. Follow what you love and what makes you happy.
Obviously, Padre, thats what you did, and we're all happy
for you. However, don't try and make your bliss somebody
elses, thats really none of your business..
"It's not called gambling if the math is on your side."
thecesspit
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December 8th, 2011 at 1:01:07 PM permalink
Quote: FrGamble

It seems to be that many non-religious people are using a similar logical fallacy of radical doubt. If something ought to be true it obviously does not follow that it has to be, but would it not be fair to say that we should lean that way.



I'm not sure what the logical fallacy of "radical doubt" is. I don not agree it is "fair to say" we should lean that way. It IS fair to examine that approach, and see if it is true or not, and come to some conclusions. But reason to examine something does not make that hypothesis true, it just makes it a hypothesis worth examining.

Cause and effect, in some ways. While it's fair to say "The Universe should have an objective morality defined by supernatural being" it's not fair to say "therefore The Universe MUST have an objective morality". The conclusion doesn't follow the statement.

And that's all I am saying. How you reach your faith in God is not what I am attacking. I am attacking merely the argument for God based on a faulty assumption you made. Again, as I am fond of saying, a faulty argument neither disproves or proves the existence of God (or any other logical outcome you may make).

Quote:

It seems as if some atheists are saying yes it would be wonderful to believe my life has meaning and there is some ultimate purpose and I feel in my gut somehow that there is more to life and to me than some cosmic accident, yet I will not believe it. It is as if they say yes there is creation and logically I would imagine there is a creator but NO I will not believe that, nor entertain any thought about it, and even ridicule those who do.



It seems as if you are projecting here.
"Then you can admire the real gambler, who has neither eaten, slept, thought nor lived, he has so smarted under the scourge of his martingale, so suffered on the rack of his desire for a coup at trente-et-quarante" - Honore de Balzac, 1829
EvenBob
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December 8th, 2011 at 3:01:59 PM permalink
Quote: thecesspit

It seems as if you are projecting here.



The whole religion is based on projecting and reading
between the lines. Why is Mary holy in the Catholic
Church, for instance? I've read the Bible, there's nothing
in there about praying to Mary, or using her name or
about crossing yourself. I've read a little about how Mary
got raised up so high, and its so convoluted and so
confusing, I gave up trying to understand it.
"It's not called gambling if the math is on your side."
FrGamble
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December 8th, 2011 at 3:40:33 PM permalink
Quote: EvenBob

The whole religion is based on projecting and reading
between the lines. Why is Mary holy in the Catholic
Church, for instance? I've read the Bible, there's nothing
in there about praying to Mary, or using her name or
about crossing yourself. I've read a little about how Mary
got raised up so high, and its so convoluted and so
confusing, I gave up trying to understand it.



To not get off track on this thread I'd be happy to answer this question on the Celebrate Religion here thread, especially because today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

I really would like to try and understand the idea of atheism more. It would be helpful if someone could explain why they are good, kind, and moral because of thier atheism? There are again many reasons why people are all of these things (peaceful, generous, etc.) but specifically how does atheism, that there is no God, actually help you to live your life?
Face
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December 8th, 2011 at 3:41:46 PM permalink
BEAUTIFULLY put Mosca. I've nothing else to say about your post, it says it all on its own.

Quote: FrGamble

It seems as if some atheists are saying yes it would be wonderful to believe my life has meaning and there is some ultimate purpose and I feel in my gut somehow that there is more to life and to me than some cosmic accident, yet I will not believe it. It is as if they say yes there is creation and logically I would imagine there is a creator but NO I will not believe that, nor entertain any thought about it, and even ridicule those who do.



I'll address some of your points, and at least impart understanding on MY beliefs as an athiest. Some of the point I feel is inaccurate. I do "feel" sometimes there might be a purpose to life. That leads to the thought "but why?" I have spent much time on this thought, and entertained many different possible reasons. Maybe it's "just because" and it doesn't matter. It's some weird brain process, some wasteful part of the human psyche that is better off ignored because it has no meaning. This seems close to what you described as a typical athietic veiwpoint, but not a view I hold nor something I would suspect of many people to believe. I believe the other end of this spectrum is religion. There must be some reason, some cosmic pull, some spiritual reason we feel pain, guilt, love, sorrow, ect. A reason we seem to be hardwired to want to do "good", a reason we look to the heavens, a reason every civilization in history has a creation story. I explored that area and likewise felt, in my head and my heart, that it didn't feel "right". The path I eventually landed in conforms to beliefs I have of evolution and "Laws of Nature". Which I hope to explain later.

Quote: FrGamble

What I hear you and many other atheists saying is that your happiness, your goodness, your hope, your peace, your everything is not because you do not believe in God, that is just what you consider a fact and reality, you ground yourself in something else whch brings you joy. What is that in which you are grounded in without God that makes life meaningful, brings you happiness, and encourages you to do good?



I explained in a thread a few days back (in one of the "Is Gambling Bad" threads), that gambling as we know it today is a process I thought to be inherent in humans. I feel the same way about a great number of the things we do today. Basically, that they're holdovers from when humans were more animalistic, in our less evolved forms of the past. Take "doing good". If we were to go back to our monkey days, where our daily ins and outs consisted of nothing but survival, I think you'd still find "good". I believe they would be seen offering foods, sharing shelters, tending each others wounds, because the survival of an individual improves the survivability of the group, whether it be by getting that individual back to being productive, or preventing the individual from getting even sicker and spreading disease among the group. I believe the groups that did not practice these habits would grow weaker faster, died off earlier, and the ones who did practice would eventually be the only ones left.

As time marches on and we evolve, the process remains the same, just the scenery changes. Fast forward to today, and sharing a freshly killed monitor has changed to hosting a soup kitchen. Licking a wound has changed to donating to the Ronald McDonald Foundation. Sharing a cut in a riverbank changed to Habitat for Humanity. It's all "doing good", just the "how" has changed. To me, the "why" seems more of a product of nature than a product of a god.

And it works in reverse. A prehuman monkey might be seen chewing the hell out of a rival. In the wayback, this is an act of dominance, something we still see in animals today. The strong beat up the weak, take all the spoils, and the strong DNA lives on. Today, we see the same behavior, now called "barfights" (lol), and we look at it as "bad", or an evil. Sometimes, members of the wayback group will just outright kill anyone not of their group. This is common competition, those others, by their very existence, can take habitat and resources your group needs to survive, so you eliminate them. Today, we call this "warfare". And then sometimes, they just get sick and lash out at everything with intent to kill. In the wayback, maybe it was hydrophobia, or whatever passed for rabies in prehistory. Nowadays, it's schizophrenia, it's rage, it's dementia.

Again, same process, same basic principles, just the "how" has changed. The "why" remains the same.

That's how I explain human's overall desire to be "good". Acts in the wayback that directly determined a groups survivability have evolved along with it's members into what we now see today. It's simply "nature", both "human nature" and that which I consider the universe to be governed by.

This just skims the grand idea, but hopefully you get the point. I realize and fully admit it does not explain everything, and that the above is some fact mixed in with a good dose of my own opinion. And I often find holes in my own theory and in evolution in general, which I suppose is why I ask so many questions about a lot of weird things. But I've found for a great many of my questions about life, the basic structure above has answered them to my satisfaction. I suppose the same could be said about you and religion. In the end, maybe neither is 100% true but contain bits of truth, which is why I participate in these convo's and have encouraged you, Father, to try to understand athieism. I think that by understanding both veiwpoints, we'd come closer to The Truth.
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Mosca
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December 8th, 2011 at 3:59:06 PM permalink
John Jeremiah Sullivan writes:

Quote:

The rain stopped. It was time to go. Two of the guys had to leave in the morning, and I needed to start walking if I meant to make the overlook in time for the candlelighting. They went with me as far as the place where the main path split off toward the stage. They each embraced me. Jake said to call them if I ever had "a situation that needs clearing up." Darius said God bless me, with meaning eyes. Then he said, "Hey, man, if you write about us, can I just ask one thing?"

"Of course," I said.

"Put in there that we love God," he said. "You can say we're crazy, but say that we love God."

The climb was long and steep. At the top was a thing that looked like a backyard deck. It jutted out over the valley, commanding an unobstructed view. Kids hung all over it like lemurs or something.

I pardoned my way to the edge, where the cliff dropped away. It was dark and then suddenly darker—pitch. They had shut off the lights at the sides of the stage. Little pinpricks appeared, moving along the aisles. We used to do candles like this at church, when I was a kid, on Christmas Eve. You light the edges, and the edges spread inward. The rate of the spread increases exponentially, and the effect is so unexpected, when, at the end, you have half the group lighting the other half's candles, it always seems like somebody flipped a switch. That's how it seemed now.

The clouds had moved off—the bright stars were out again. There were fireflies in the trees all over, and spread before me, far below, was a carpet of burning candles, tiny flames, many ten thousands. I was suspended in a black sphere full of flickering light.

And sure, I thought about Nuremberg. But mostly I thought of Darius, Jake, Josh, Bub, Ritter, and Pee Wee, whom I doubted I'd ever see again, whom I'd come to love, and who loved God—for it's true, I would have said it even if Darius hadn't asked me to, it may be the truest thing I will have written here: They were crazy, and they loved God—and I thought about the unimpeachable dignity of that love, which I never was capable of. Because knowing it isn't true doesn't mean you would be strong enough to believe if it were. Six of those glowing specks in the valley were theirs.

I was shown, in a moment of time, the ring of their faces around the fire, each one separate, each one radiant with what Paul called, strangely, "assurance of hope." It seemed wrong of reality not to reward such souls.

These are lines from a Czeslaw Milosz poem:

And if they all, kneeling with poised palms,

millions, billions of them, ended together with their illusion?

I shall never agree. I will give them the crown.


The human mind is splendid; lips powerful, and the summons so great it must open Paradise.

That's so exquisite. If you could just mean it. If one could only say it and mean it.

They all blew out their candles at the same instant, and the valley—the actual geographical feature—filled with smoke, there were so many.

I left at dawn, while creation slept.



Upon This Rock
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EvenBob
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December 8th, 2011 at 4:11:27 PM permalink
Quote: FrGamble

It would be helpful if someone could explain why they are good, kind, and moral because of thier atheism?



People are good kind, and moral because its the right
way to behave in civilized society. Atheism or religion
has nothing to do with it.

Atheism doesn't help or hinder, its a non issue. There
was a good line on 30 Rock the other night. One of
the characters is thinking of converting to Catholicism,
and Alec Baldwin's character tells him "Be warned,
the hallmark of being Catholic is an overwhelming
sense of constant guilt." He pauses for a second and
says "Good grief, I'm even feeling guilty about telling
you this!" He crosses himself and hurries away..
"It's not called gambling if the math is on your side."
FrGamble
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December 8th, 2011 at 5:58:57 PM permalink
Thank you very much Face for your thoughtful and good post. It is helpful in trying to understand atheism. I wish it was as obvious to modern man as it was to prehistoric man that being good and helping each other was the best thing for everyone. This trait of inherent goodness may be what is passed down to us and exists somehow in our very nature to be good, however I feel like it is weakening.

I know you were not trying to give a perfect answer or a grand idea with no problems but here are some of my very imperfect ideas inspired from yours. I agree we may be getting closer and closer to The Truth in a gentle exchange of thoughts rather than in spouting hardened doctrine.

You mentioned that every civilization has a creation story, I assume a figure of God of some kind, could it be that this deity is the foundation for the civilization's goodness? Without the strong foundation of a God doesn't it allow a more and more individualistic modern man to see this goodness as purely the remnants of a bygone era, the dredges of evolution, like a useless appendix? Maybe God is like the glue that cements goodness into our nature so that we feel like being "good" even when it no longer is a matter of life or death for me if my neighbor is hungry or if my neighbor gets sick because I've learned to wash my hands. Taking away God seems to make your idea for why people are good into something that we seem to be slowly evolving away from into much more selfish and self-centered human beings, this is not good for our survival.
Face
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December 8th, 2011 at 6:12:09 PM permalink
Quote: FrGamble

I really would like to try and understand the idea of atheism more. It would be helpful if someone could explain why they are good, kind, and moral because of thier atheism? There are again many reasons why people are all of these things (peaceful, generous, etc.) but specifically how does atheism, that there is no God, actually help you to live your life?



And I realized, after hurrying to end what was already a painfully long post, that I left it up to you to answer this question for yourself (which may be hard if you don't understand). Ooops.

Why do I prefer to be good? Well, part of it, I think, is explained by my very long post. I believe it's how we have naturally evolved in the course of our history. Goodness helped the individual, and as a result the group, survive. I think it is hardwired in the same way sexual urges or desires for sweets are hardwired.

When I do a good deed, it helps those who are in my "group". Maybe it's a guy I work with, or a neighbor, or extended family. In any case, it improves the quality of the lives that surround me, thereby improving my quality of life. It also increases my worth as an individual, which makes me happy. Happiness decreases stress, and decreased stress increases life span and improves overall health. Not to mention doing someone a solid increases the chance they'll do you one back, kind of a "help others to help yourself" type deal. All of this, I think, follows my very long explanation as to how this mentality came to be. Doing this sort of "good" isn't a human thing, it's present in a great many higher functioning social animals, whether it's dogs pack hunting and grooming or porpoises pack hunting and pack defending. A full grown elephant will put itself in danger to protect ALL young elephants, whether sired by them or not. Isn't that "good" and "kind" and "selfless"? I think it is, and I think this trait in humans came to be in the same fashion - naturally.

As for how it helps me to live my life, that's a tougher question. I'm not sure I can fully explain, and further hope I can do so without being offensive, but here goes. The primary thing that bothers me about religion is this idea that life has been figured out. I'm not saying it's all religious persons, but I've seen a number who live in what I would call a very constrictive box. Discussions about discoveries in science or our universe are met by claims of "Umm, that's not true. Try reading Genesis". I view that as somewhat destructive. I also think it robs the person of knowledge, and that goes both ways. You, Father, seem to be able to contemplate science that flies in the face of religion, same as I can discuss religion that flies in the face of my nature-based beliefs. You or I may not necessarily accept these ideas, but we are not ignorant of them. It may even give us understanding that could solidify our belief and love for God or lack thereof. But some see it almost as blaspehemy. They couldn't look at evoution as an idea, it's simply not in the Bible and therefore not allowed to enter their minds.

By having my non-religious stance, I'm free to examine ALL evidence and information on questions I have about life. I can look to science, evolution, Christianity, The Haudenosaunee, Scientology, The Flying Spaghetti Monster, whatever I want, and make an unbiased decision about what I feel is right or wrong. I have freedom to follow certain paths that may be outside of what is allowed by religion.

Second, in my head and with my beliefs, religion would make me MORE like what you describe athiests as - not caring about life. I wouldn't savor the mystery, or behold the beauty, of the life I have. If I knew there was a Heaven, this place would be a cesspit (not THEcesspit) by comparison, a short test I only need to pass to reach Nirvana. I'm not saying it's how you feel, or how a religious person must feel, but it's how I would feel if I could accept religion. Life would be like a bad job, something that has ups and downs, but mostly it sucks and I just try to push through for the vacation ;)

Knowing (believing) this 70some years is all I get makes me appreciate my life all the more. Believing all the things around me, the ants in my yards, the process of metamorphosis, geological structure, our Earth, our solar system, all came to be by random happenstance, fills me with a sense of amazement I cannot describe. Thinking it was made by a being I will not nor could not ever understand I find to be hollow and disappointing. The Sistine Chapel is a wonder. Now imagine a river pounded on some rock, and through random erosion and natural chemical staining, recreated it. Which would be more awe inspiring? That's basically how I feel with God vs Randomness. If the base answer to every question is "God wills it to be so", why would I bother thinking about anything? Why would I care?

I'm starting to bury my point, so I'll give it a rest for now. But there's a few reasons on the "why" and how I feel it's made me a better person. There's more, but I'm not quite sure how to explain and my posts today are already quite long. We shall continue later, if you have follow up questions.
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EvenBob
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December 8th, 2011 at 6:27:56 PM permalink
Quote: FrGamble

something that we seem to be slowly evolving away from into much more selfish and self-centered human beings, this is not good for our survival.



You seem to get so many things completely backwards,
Padre. You really think modern society is less giving
and charitable and more selfish than in the past? You
really need to get into history a little more.

Read some Dickens, for instance. The England he wrote
about really existed, with the wickedly cruel orphanages,
the filthy debtors prisons, the poverty in the streets. In
Europe and the eastern block countries, selfishness was
the norm. Shopkeepers robbed their customers any way
they could, customers would lie and cheat as much as
the shopkeepers. People were very clannish about their
families and didn't welcome strangers at all. If you were
homeless and poor, you resorted to begging in your rags.

How can you compare those horrible times, and the more
horrible times that proceeded them, to today, and say we
are more selfish now. The spirit of giving and of charity is
the highest the worlds ever seen. Even the godless atheists
give their fair share.
"It's not called gambling if the math is on your side."
zippyboy
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December 8th, 2011 at 6:56:05 PM permalink
I know the difference between right and wrong. I certainly don't need an antiquated book to tell me it's wrong to steal from somebody, or rape or kill. FrGamble: do you really think without this old book, we'd all be out there doing these bad things? And I only speak of the Bible...apparently the Koran leads its believers to think killing is right IF it's against the infidels (?).

EvenBob: there's evidence that mankind is getting LESS violent. Perhaps due to cameras being everywhere these days and getting caught is more likely, or education is at its highest now than in past times when people didn't go to school and worked on the farm instead, but people are nicer to each other than in the old days.
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Face
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December 8th, 2011 at 7:35:37 PM permalink
Quote: FrGamble

This trait of inherent goodness may be what is passed down to us and exists somehow in our very nature to be good, however I feel like it is weakening.



I agree. In trying to explain this weakening to myself, my "Natural" explanation works for me here, too. When an animal population reaches unsustainable levels, nature fixes it. Starvation, dehydration, and disease all work naturally to restore balance. In animal populations that aren't being affected by the Big 3 (like most of humanity), you will see a rise in aggression levels. I forgot the technical term for it, but in a population whose territories begin to overlap (even if they consist of several 100 miles), you will see members of said territories become much more hostile and aggressive, with a stronger will to patrol borders and kill encroachers. Nature basically uses murder to fix the numbers. Could todays rising human population be creating this phenomena in people where that switch is flipped, and we're just naturally reacting to feeling "pressured"?

Could be, and I think in part it is, but I also don't think that's anywhere near the whole story. Perhaps it's my natural explanation, perhaps it's the increasing lack of parenting and guidance caused by todays lifestyle where both parents work, perhaps it's the selfishness promoted by those terrible reality shows, perhaps it's less people living by the word of Christ. I suspect the true cause is like Niagara Falls. No one big event, just thousands of little chips changing the fabric of society.

Quote: FrGamble

You mentioned that every civilization has a creation story, I assume a figure of God of some kind, could it be that this deity is the foundation for the civilization's goodness? Without the strong foundation of a God doesn't it allow a more and more individualistic modern man to see this goodness as purely the remnants of a bygone era, the dredges of evolution, like a useless appendix? Maybe God is like the glue that cements goodness into our nature so that we feel like being "good" even when it no longer is a matter of life or death for me if my neighbor is hungry or if my neighbor gets sick because I've learned to wash my hands. Taking away God seems to make your idea for why people are good into something that we seem to be slowly evolving away from into much more selfish and self-centered human beings, this is not good for our survival.



Well, taking away God from the foundation of good, assuming He is the glue that holds it together, by definition, would cause good to crumble. The problem is proving it. That's the wall we run into when discussing such matters. If we assume your God arguement is true, then the removal of God towards my Natural arguement is going to cause civilization to unravel, so we shouldn't do that. By the same token, if we believe in God and continue to populate the Earth as the Bible tells us, and my Natural arguement turns out to be true, well, we just caused civilization to unravel, so we shouldn't do that. Hmm, maybe this opposing view thing is another piece, to ensure no one view overloads the other and causes the ship to tip. Maybe we're dependant on each other. Maybe that's another Natural trait of humans. Or maybe God made us this way? Bah, I've just discovered another branch of ideas I have to mull over now =p

Good talk, Father. I'm sure we'll continue down the road.
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MrV
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December 8th, 2011 at 10:57:38 PM permalink
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Mosca
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December 9th, 2011 at 10:51:34 AM permalink
Quote: FrGamble

Mosca thanks for your good post.



You're welcome, FrG. Thanks for yours.

Quote: FrGamble

However why does it make sense to be forgiving, loving, frank and honest if ultimately it doesn't matter? I think one would say because it is the right thing to do, but if you take the idea there is no God to its logical conclusion then ultimately it doesn't matter and good and evil don't make sense. The only purely logical way of living based on the belief that there is no God would seem to me to be - live it up, do whatever is going to make you happy for the longest amount of time, don't waste time thinking about others, lie, cheat, steal, whatever you need to do to make this crazy chance of life pleasurable for you now because there is nothing afterwards except death and nothingness.

It just seems to me that my goodness is based on my belief in God and your goodness (which I do not doubt) is in spite of your idea there is no God.



Let's back up a moment. The flip side of your premise is that belief in God means that people WON'T "lie, cheat, steal, whatever you need to do to make this crazy chance of life pleasurable"? You don't need statistics to know that Christians (and everyone else) throughout history have lied, cheated, stolen, and done whatever they wanted. Belief in God never stopped anyone. Total devotion and a life dedicated to God hasn't stopped some priests from violating their imprimatur to protect the weakest among us! If "belief in God" was all that was needed, then we wouldn't need any criminal or civil laws... or, those laws would only be needed for atheists!

A person's goodness is based on being good. There's no "in spite of" or "because of" that depends on a belief in God, or a love of God, or a fear of punishment. I couldn't conceive of lying, cheating, stealing, and doing whatever else. As I often put it, the only way I could describe my revulsion to that thought is, "If I did that, then I wouldn't be me." I don't spend any time thinking about it. I never have crises of conscience in stores, thinking, "Should I steal this? No one's looking, after all." I don't steal because that's not the way it works. I don't rape because I don't want to. I don't stalk and kill because the thought never crossed my mind. If I did any of those things, or even had the urges but had to control them, then... well, I wouldn't be me.
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thecesspit
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December 9th, 2011 at 10:58:14 AM permalink
Quote: FrGamble

I really would like to try and understand the idea of atheism more. It would be helpful if someone could explain why they are good, kind, and moral because of thier atheism? There are again many reasons why people are all of these things (peaceful, generous, etc.) but specifically how does atheism, that there is no God, actually help you to live your life?



I am not good or kind or moral because of my atheism. Atheism does not have an effect on my life except to argue on the internet :) Being an atheist and being a moral, good person are orthogonal. To borrow a famous bus campaign "You can be good without God".

Else where you made the argument that without a God and his Goodness there is no reason not to lie, cheat, steal and be bad. I find that scary that the ONLY reason people act in a moral kind why is because of their God. I am sure that's not what you meant. I hope that's not what you meant.
"Then you can admire the real gambler, who has neither eaten, slept, thought nor lived, he has so smarted under the scourge of his martingale, so suffered on the rack of his desire for a coup at trente-et-quarante" - Honore de Balzac, 1829
EvenBob
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December 9th, 2011 at 11:51:33 AM permalink
Quote: thecesspit

I find that scary that the ONLY reason people act in a moral kind why is because of their God. I am sure that's not what you meant.



I'm not sure of that at all. FrG has said it over and over. Without
god, how can we be expected to act in a moral way, or even have
a reason for living. How can we possibly be happy.
"It's not called gambling if the math is on your side."
FrGamble
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December 9th, 2011 at 3:04:12 PM permalink
Quote: thecesspit


Else where you made the argument that without a God and his Goodness there is no reason not to lie, cheat, steal and be bad. I find that scary that the ONLY reason people act in a moral kind why is because of their God. I am sure that's not what you meant. I hope that's not what you meant.



What I am trying to say is that I cannot envision believing one thing very strongly and doing another. My thoughts and belief system support my desire to be radically good and holy. I believe very strongly in God and while I am far from perfect everything I do is trying the best I can to follow God's commandments. If I believed as strongly that there was no God as I do believe there is a God I imagine it might be difficult for me to live the way I do now. To be a moral, loving, and selfless person when a persistent thought is constantly bearing down in my head that it ultimately doesn't matter if you are good or not, life has no purpose, I and all around me is random accidents, death and nothingness await us all, blah, blah would be tough if not impossible.

This leads me to believe as Nareed has told me before; atheism is not really a belief. It can't be something that you wake up in the morning thinking about and spend your whole day having the thought that there is no God as part of everything you do. This makes it very different than my belief in Christianity. It is almost as if one intellectually assents to the thought there is no God and then lives the rest of their lives ignoring the ramifications of what life would be like if that was actually true. Is atheism a benign intellectual philosophy that should not influence your actions or is atheism akin to a belief in Jesus Christ, which is meant to change everything about how you live, move, breath, and have your very being?
EvenBob
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December 9th, 2011 at 3:20:53 PM permalink
Quote: FrGamble

To be a moral, loving, and selfless person when a persistent thought is constantly bearing down in my head that it ultimately doesn't matter if you are good or not, life has no purpose,



So you're only good because you have to be, thats what
you're saying. What so honorable and respectable about that.
I much more respect someone who is good and moral because
he chooses to be of his own accord. And are you really that shallow
and vacuous that you couldn't have a purpose to your life outside
the church? Thats pretty pitiful, padre. It sounds like you cling to
your religion like its a life preserver and you'd drown without
it.
"It's not called gambling if the math is on your side."
Mosca
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December 9th, 2011 at 3:35:43 PM permalink
Quote: FrGamble

What I am trying to say is that I cannot envision believing one thing very strongly and doing another. My thoughts and belief system support my desire to be radically good and holy. I believe very strongly in God and while I am far from perfect everything I do is trying the best I can to follow God's commandments. If I believed as strongly that there was no God as I do believe there is a God I imagine it might be difficult for me to live the way I do now. To be a moral, loving, and selfless person when a persistent thought is constantly bearing down in my head that it ultimately doesn't matter if you are good or not, life has no purpose, I and all around me is random accidents, death and nothingness await us all, blah, blah would be tough if not impossible.

This leads me to believe as Nareed has told me before; atheism is not really a belief. It can't be something that you wake up in the morning thinking about and spend your whole day having the thought that there is no God as part of everything you do. This makes it very different than my belief in Christianity. It is almost as if one intellectually assents to the thought there is no God and then lives the rest of their lives ignoring the ramifications of what life would be like if that was actually true. Is atheism a benign intellectual philosophy that should not influence your actions or is atheism akin to a belief in Jesus Christ, which is meant to change everything about how you live, move, breath, and have your very being?



I think you're starting to understand. For me, it's not something I "believe", in the sense that I'm fervent about it. I just try to live a good life.

On the other hand, I sometimes enjoy the discussions about it, so I participate when I think I have something to say. I like the question that you posed, about why one should be good without God. It's a simple question without a simple answer... or rather, one with a multitude of answers, all of them challenging, some of them diametrically opposed, all of them requiring serious introspection.
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Mosca
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December 9th, 2011 at 3:41:53 PM permalink
Quote: EvenBob

So you're only good because you have to be, thats what
you're saying. What so honorable and respectable about that.
I much more respect someone who is good and moral because
he chooses to be of his own accord. And are you really that shallow
and vacuous that you couldn't have a purpose to your life outside
the church? Thats pretty pitiful, padre. It sounds like you cling to
your religion like its a life preserver and you'd drown without
it.



I can't answer for FrG because that would be putting words into his mouth. But the way I read what he has written isn't the same as you have read it. I read his words as saying that a beautiful truth has been revealed to him, and because of this he has no choice... he must live this way, or deny that truth.
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EvenBob
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December 9th, 2011 at 3:53:31 PM permalink
Quote: Mosca

and because of this he has no choice... he must live this way, or deny that truth.



Maybe. But he also says, over and over, that he can't
understand how we can live the same way and not
believe exactly as he does.
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thecesspit
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December 9th, 2011 at 4:03:09 PM permalink
Quote: FrGamble

What I am trying to say is that I cannot envision believing one thing very strongly and doing another. My thoughts and belief system support my desire to be radically good and holy. I believe very strongly in God and while I am far from perfect everything I do is trying the best I can to follow God's commandments. If I believed as strongly that there was no God as I do believe there is a God I imagine it might be difficult for me to live the way I do now. To be a moral, loving, and selfless person when a persistent thought is constantly bearing down in my head that it ultimately doesn't matter if you are good or not, life has no purpose, I and all around me is random accidents, death and nothingness await us all, blah, blah would be tough if not impossible.



That's where you keep making a mistake. I don't consider the lack of God mean that that life is meaningless, purposeless or matter if I behave morally. That is NOT the conclusion I came to. So I don't intellectually ignore that each day... because I don't think it's true! You keep taking that as the atheist position. But however many times you state it as the conclusion we "must" make, it doesn't mean it's the position actually reached!

You keep using the "random accidents" line, too. But that's not a position most atheist seem to use, and not the one that's been expressed to you here.
"Then you can admire the real gambler, who has neither eaten, slept, thought nor lived, he has so smarted under the scourge of his martingale, so suffered on the rack of his desire for a coup at trente-et-quarante" - Honore de Balzac, 1829
Mosca
Mosca
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December 9th, 2011 at 4:07:15 PM permalink
Quote: EvenBob

Quote: Mosca

and because of this he has no choice... he must live this way, or deny that truth.



Maybe. But he also says, over and over, that he can't
understand how we can live the same way and not
believe exactly as he does.



Forest, tree.
A falling knife has no handle.
Face
Administrator
Face
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December 9th, 2011 at 4:22:27 PM permalink
Quote: FrGamble

What I am trying to say is that I cannot envision believing one thing very strongly and doing another.



This is an issue I constantly see you bump up against. Athieism and goodness are not mutually exclusive, no more than religion and wrongness are mutually exclusive. Believing something was an "accident" does not mean it has no value. Believing that nothingness awaits me does not mean the somethingness I'm in now is inconsequential. In fact it's quite the opposite, since this blink in the eternity of time is all I get.

Quote: FrGamble

... It is almost as if one intellectually assents to the thought there is no God and then lives the rest of their lives ignoring the ramifications of what life would be like if that was actually true. Is atheism a benign intellectual philosophy that should not influence your actions or is atheism akin to a belief in Jesus Christ, which is meant to change everything about how you live, move, breath, and have your very being?



You've gone back to that "ramifications of no God" arguement. If the religious, as we must admit, are both good and bad, and the non religious are both good and bad, then doesn't it stand to reason that without one or the other, there would still be good and bad? Right here and now, there either is a God and badness still exists, or there isn't a God and goodness still exists. I don't see how making a decision of which way to place your bets affects the big picture.

But yes, athieism is quite different than belief in God. Like thecesspit noted earlier, I rarely think of my athieism unless it is brought to me, like the way these conversations bring it to me. I don't wake up and pledge my love for it, or vow to represent my belief, or make a decision based on "What Would Nobody Do". And I certainly don't contemplate committing a "sin" simply because I don't feel there's an omnipresent judge watching me from above. But has it changed everything about who and what I am as an individual? I don't think I've ever contemplated the thought that way, and I would have to let that idea marinate a while before I could give an honest answer.
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