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Old 08-31-2013, 07:34 AM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grandstander View Post
Shores up my theory that God is primarily a practical joker, something I first began to consider after reading Exodus.
Or maybe a sadist. Of course he's neither, as he doesn't exist at all. But as presented in scripture, he's one of the two IMO.

Or maybe, since god is a reflection of the people who create and/or adopt a particular conception of him, it's literalists / fundamentalists who are playing a practical joke (at the high leadership levels) and/or who are sadomasochists (at the sheeple level). Think about it. They have the same Bible I do. They read that verse that says that god knows how to give good gifts to his children. They think they are his children. They get given a stone. And then because the Bible is inerrant, they are forced to redefine "good gifts" via the "god moves in mysterious ways" meme, to be, "whatever god gives you, even if it appears to be a stone". The "hidden purpose" meme and the "gods ways are beyond knowing" meme are then trotted out to help support it. As well as the anti-intellectual bent and the "doubt is evil" meme.

Fundamentalists never see the irony of reading the passage that condemns people who "wrest the scriptures to their own destruction" when in fact that is the very thing they do, every day, to force fit Biblical promises into everyday reality.

Last edited by mordant; 08-31-2013 at 07:49 AM..
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Old 08-31-2013, 07:57 AM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
41,113 posts, read 18,599,788 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mordant View Post
Or maybe a sadist. Of course he's neither, as he doesn't exist at all. But as presented in scripture, he's one of the two IMO.

Or maybe, since god is a reflection of the people who create and/or adopt a particular conception of him, it's literalists / fundamentalists who are playing a practical joke (at the high leadership levels) and/or who are sadomasochists (at the sheeple level). Think about it. They have the same Bible I do. They read that verse that says that god knows how to give good gifts to his children. They think they are his children. They get given a stone. And then because the Bible is inerrant, they are forced to redefine "good gifts" via the "god moves in mysterious ways" meme, to be, "whatever god gives you, even if it appears to be a stone". The "hidden purpose" meme and the "gods ways are beyond knowing" meme are then trotted out to help support it. As well as the anti-intellectual bent and the "doubt is evil" meme.

Fundamentalists never see the irony of reading the passage that condemns people who "wrest the scriptures to their own destruction" when in fact that is the very thing they do, every day, to force fit Biblical promises into everyday reality.
I cannot help but suspecting that the faithful either do not think, or studiously avoid doing so because of the obvious conclusions one must reach. The conceptions of the nature of the god that people have produced are astonishing. We have god as Santa Claus (monitors your behavior and thoughts and issues rewards/punishments based on your being good or bad), god as a practical joker, god as a sadist, god as entirely perplexing and incomprehensible while simultaneously "loving us", god as an entity with a great interest in the enforcement of bizarre religious laws, god as the backer of some military enterprise, god as the helper of some athlete, god as the the entity which spared someone's life after an accident, but for some reason didn't prevent the accident in the first place...

In sum...numerous theories, all of which have god coming across as an imbecile, as childishly simplistic, or as capriciously insane. And all of the theories insist that god loves us.
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Old 09-03-2013, 10:46 AM
 
Location: San Antonio, TX
702 posts, read 611,006 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grandstander View Post
... god as an entity with a great interest in the enforcement of bizarre religious laws...

In sum...numerous theories, all of which have god coming across as an imbecile, as childishly simplistic, or as capriciously insane. And all of the theories insist that god loves us.
I always thought if God has ultimate power over every atom in the universe and reality itself, knowledge of every thought, feeling and emotion experienced everywhere all at once, and the complete knowledge of the future of every human being ever to exist anywhere he would have bigger things to concern himself with than if someone ate fish on a friday or not.

It all seems very petty to me.

It is a pretty sweet gig though. You essentially are complicit in people getting cancer. No one ever blames you for this. They thank you when you take it away though. I only wish I had that kind of job evaluation at work.
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Old 05-15-2014, 11:23 AM
 
Location: La La Land, USA
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Here's a question:

As an atheist, in what terms do you define the value of human life?
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Old 05-15-2014, 04:47 PM
 
Location: Northeastern US
14,197 posts, read 9,094,403 times
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Originally Posted by contrarian1 View Post
Here's a question:

As an atheist, in what terms do you define the value of human life?
First of all, every person values their own life, and if nothing else due to a very strong survival instinct, strives to preserve the stability and autonomy of their existence. Out of respect for others, I afford others the right to exist and to be safe and well. This also encourages them to do the same for me.

Secondly, there are people like family, friends, colleagues, and employers who rely on particular persons and these people have a right to be able to depend on such persons for mutual benefit. Out of respect for others, I support the right of others to have and hold special relationships and to cherish them as they see fit. This also encourages them to do the same for me.

Each person has a certain amount of dignity and value conveyed upon them by membership in the species. Humans are uniquely self-aware and capable of abstract thought, planning, and creativity. This places each person in a position of great responsibility to lesser beings and to nature generally, to take good care of it all. That is important work that should be valued, along with those who do the work.

I could go on, but you get the picture. Even though values are entirely subjective and personal, the values that endure motivate people to the benefit of individuals and society. The only lasting values, ethics and morals any of us have ever had are those that arise out of our interactions with each other and with other creatures and promote the sustainable collective good of all. So the only lasting value we assign to humans generally or specifically arises out of the fact that we are social animals who need each other and can accomplish much more by cooperating than by competing.

Some people claim that their values are externally given, absolute, and have the authority of god to back them up. But these are simply baseless assertions for which there is no evidence. A better reason to value one another is to identify as accurately and rationally as possible what creates and sustains a civil society -- it's human cooperation and effort. Whether we take personal responsibility for our values and decisions and actions or say that we are just doing what god tells us to do, we still are personally responsible for personal actions. And society still holds us responsible.

It is nonsense that we can't value human life or anything else unless god says to. We value human life or anything else because we want to. We want to because it is rational to want to for multiple reasons from multiple perspectives. Of course, there are always fools abroad in the world who don't value human life because they aren't thinking clearly about what's important for them and for society.
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Old 05-15-2014, 05:47 PM
 
9,876 posts, read 6,747,934 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hiker45 View Post
Why should we Atheists debate with Theists?

They have their beliefs and we have ours and both of us are satisfied with our approach to life. Why debate?
Excellent post!

They are both a belief system and in religion anything goes. So why try to question the magic and mythology of religion.
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Old 05-15-2014, 07:31 PM
 
293 posts, read 207,818 times
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Thanks to the OP for starting this thread because rarely do you have the civility for both sides to admit if anything bothers them vs. the other side, and it looks like for the most part people are being honest.

To jump in feet wet, just to point out to Quadro1 that it works both ways.

To keep it short, I was for almost half my life now a born-again Christian. I would debate on the side of Jesus being the true lord and Savior, mostly winning. While I began to have more and more doubts due to the people that surrounded me it wasn't until I read the Quran and the Book of Mormon to get points to debate that I realized there was no evidence for God and I couldn't believe where there is no evidence.

I was actually heartbroken and didn't tell anyone in my family for years. Not because I had any more doubts about it, but because 1) It would have killed me to have someone in my family say the same thing back then and 2) I didn't like how I felt knowing that this life is all we get.

I did tell my family about 10 years ago. For my parents I went from the favorite to the black sheep of the family, just like I expected. They get angry when they are here and my kids don't believe.. which I understand and expected.

But as to some of the other points that have been raised.

1. Fine Tuning. This one doesn't bother me in the slightest, in fact it is a pretty weak argument for me but for a couple of reasons that you don't normally hear argued.
a) When theists say that the universe wouldn't exist as we know it unless some of these constants were different is to say that if we changed one it is true matter wouldn't have formed into protons, electrons, neutrons, quarks, and further elementary particles and the universe would not have formed... Probably true, but that doesn't mean that we couldn't rearrange more than one constant at the same time or had an entirely different makeup with 5 fundamental forces or 3 or something totally off the wall different. We just aren't that smart. Another thing you don't hear mentioned is to look at is how quickly we could have had closed universe creation and collapse. If we agree that universes with constants different from our own would cause that universe to immediately collapse then given an infinite number of times we would eventually come to a universe were each constant is perfect. Instead of thinking of creation of the universe classically, think of it as a quantum tunneling problem against a extremely powerful barrier. The singularity expansion wave function would be so small but still non zero.

2. Discovering other planets but no life yet. This is a ridiculous assertion for a number of reasons. First, the number of planets we have found is small compared to the 100 billion galaxies each containing roughly 100 billion stars. Also, for us to see a civilization, they would have to have reached our level of technology in roughly 1900 AD today, so we've only had about 100 years of ability to detect and really the last 50 years or so with any power. And then there is how old the star can be. We have roughly 1 billion years before the solar wind makes the earth inhabitable. Not much more before going Red Giant and eating the earth (and is probably closer to 1 billion) so the distance from us has to be roughly. So given the constraints of the speed of light, we are looking at a narrow ever expanding band where stars can be that is going away from us at the speed of light. Unless some way around the speed of light problem, it is doubtful we will find anyone.

There are a number of problems that led me to Atheism. Here are my biggest ones.


If God really wanted us to believe, then why not put something like God divided the circle by its diameter and the answer 3 plus a smaller number that goes on forever.

Or Disease is caused by small simplistic animals of which you are made of many.

At least if the bible is going to be the divine book don't allow small contradictions or even seemingly contradictions that believers have to work around starting with the story of creation.

Thanks for listening. For those that are going to crush my PhD. Please remember I got it in the early 80's... back then we (1) had not found any planets (2) still had the nutrino problem, (3) thought binary stars could not hold planets (it was solved analytically and was wrong) etc... At least I had DOS and Word 1.0 to write it with on an 8088 CPU
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Old 05-16-2014, 05:35 AM
 
5,462 posts, read 5,941,688 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by contrarian1 View Post
Here's a question:

As an atheist, in what terms do you define the value of human life?
What sense of value do you mean? In qualitative terms, for example, I'd prefer to use metric since the units are easier to work with.
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Old 05-16-2014, 10:41 AM
 
1,701 posts, read 1,997,011 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AtheistAstroGuy View Post
Thanks to the OP for starting this thread because rarely do you have the civility for both sides to admit if anything bothers them vs. the other side, and it looks like for the most part people are being honest.
Thanks. I remember enjoying this thread a great deal!

Quote:
1. Fine Tuning. This one doesn't bother me in the slightest, in fact it is a pretty weak argument for me but for a couple of reasons that you don't normally hear argued.
a) When theists say that the universe wouldn't exist as we know it unless some of these constants were different is to say that if we changed one it is true matter wouldn't have formed into protons, electrons, neutrons, quarks, and further elementary particles and the universe would not have formed...
To be fair, I think we should say that this fine tuning argument was first brought to light by scientists. Theists did latch onto this idea later, and have misused and misquoted it plenty.

Maybe you understand the physics and math a lot better than I do, but I feel like you are over-simplifying this idea. The understanding here is that: the laws of physics and the values of physical constants seem, "just right". Many have suggested that if even one of a host of physical properties of the universe had been different, stars, planets, and galaxies would never have come into existence. Life, as we know it, would not have been formed.

For example:
Take, for instance, the neutron. It is 1.00137841870 times heavier than the proton, which is what allows it to decay into a proton, electron and neutrino—a process that determined the relative abundances of hydrogen and helium after the big bang and gave us a universe dominated by hydrogen. If the neutron-to-proton mass ratio were even slightly different, we would be living in a very different universe: one, perhaps, with far too much helium, in which stars would have burned out too quickly for life to evolve, or one in which protons decayed into neutrons rather than the other way around, leaving the universe without atoms. So, in fact, we wouldn’t be living here at all—we wouldn’t exist.
AND
Calculations by Brandon Carter show that if gravity had been stronger or weaker by 1 part in 10 to the 40th power, then life-sustaining stars like the sun could not exist. This would most likely make life impossible.
Quote:
Probably true, but that doesn't mean that we couldn't rearrange more than one constant at the same time or had an entirely different makeup with 5 fundamental forces or 3 or something totally off the wall different. We just aren't that smart. Another thing you don't hear mentioned is to look at is how quickly we could have had closed universe creation and collapse. If we agree that universes with constants different from our own would cause that universe to immediately collapse then given an infinite number of times we would eventually come to a universe were each constant is perfect. Instead of thinking of creation of the universe classically, think of it as a quantum tunneling problem against a extremely powerful barrier. The singularity expansion wave function would be so small but still non zero.
This is an excellent point. In other words, you are saying that the universe came into existence and then collapsed infinite times. And one of those iterations produced the universe we currently occupy. Or maybe, there are other universes out there with differing laws of physics and parameters like dark energy. So really, there are an infinite, or a very large number of "failed" universes (multiverse).

A lot of work is being done to explore these ideas. But there might be a long way to go:
Sharp predictions are exactly what string theory needs, to counter criticisms that the theory is too far removed from reality. But Bousso has long been convinced that he is on the right track. "I think the evidence is mounting that there really is a multiverse and that there all these vacua there," he says. "I don’t think we can claim victory yet, but there is really no other game in town."
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