We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Friday, July 30. 2010
I think that the religious faith of most average Christians waxes and wanes over time, sometimes even in the course of a day. I do know people whose faith seems to be 100% and rock solid. In the end, I don't find thinking about the topic of strength of faith particularly useful or productive. God is a mystery to me, as is existence itself (and most other things too), but I believe that in prayer and in practice one can come into relationship with God - or at least with Jesus.
Ron Rosenbaum speaks up for the Enlightenment agnostic in everyone: An Agnostic Manifesto - At least we know what we don't know. One quote:
Right, sort-of (I don't think we even know what we don't know). Science is not a religion. It's just a formalized, rigorous mode of inquiry from which most of the data and facts and theories are inevitably replaced over time. It is incapable of handling the Big Questions and Big Truth, but it sure can be useful. For example, we currently believe that "gravity" doesn't exist as a "force," but it's a handy concept anyway. Someday, our talk of "forces" wil be viewed as little more than 18th century gods.
Chesterton: ""If there were no God, there would be no atheists."
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
Derrida was an atheist, but by way of interpreting religion.
Similarly for Emmanuel Levinas. ("Difficult Freedom")
Probably they're religion's deepest readers.
They may be. I don't know. I am no deep reader, but I am a deep pray-er.
I am an agnostic, once atheist. I often perceive more dogmatic certainty in atheists than in believers.
Unfortunately, Mr. Rosenbaum failed to think effectively in his fortunately defunct column at Pajamas Media, where one of his premises was that Tea Party supporters were anarchists. Not to mention racist- but these days that practically goes without saying.
Atheists have no evidence—and certainly no proof!—that science will ever solve the question of why there is something rather than nothing.
Indeed. And no atheists actually say they know or even believe that science will ever solve the question of why there is something rather than nothing; most consider it a pointless question. And if spouting a bunch of religious mumbo jumbo counts as an "answer", just admitting ignorance is an improvement.
Gringo: I often perceive more dogmatic certainty in atheists than in believers.
Well, I can't help what you perceive. What's actually true is often a horse of a different color.
But I must ask you: do you perceive "dogmatic certainty" in my position that Bilbo, Frodo, Gandalf, Aragon, et al. are fictional characters? Does this "dogmatic certainty" annoy you?
Would you find it odd that some people were given a voice of expertise and privilege in social, political and ethical matters because they affirmed the reality of these fictional characters?
I can introduce you to a whole gaggle of non-believers who claim exactly what you say they aren't interested in. Indeed origin theory is one of the non-belivers biggest philosophical problems and most turn themselves inside out trying to explain it while avoiding Genesis. Whole scientific careers have been built around universe origins which all have to return to the Bible's "there was nothing, then there was something".
Let me put it to you this way. I have no more interest in engaging in a discussion with an evangelical atheist [marked by ardent or zealous enthusiasm for a cause] than I do with the church people that knock on my door once or twice a year. When I say I am not interested, they politely leave me be. Not all atheists are that way. [Granted, neither are all Evangelical Christians that way.]
I often perceive less humility among atheists than among believers. Whether you consider my perception is true or not, I don't give a flying farook.
I began as an atheist. Never was a churchgoer. For an 8th grade essay on The Moral Code of Youth, I wrote about being an atheist. Over the years I saw that many of the traits I disliked in some Evangelical Christians were held in spades by some atheists.
The sneering sense of superiority that many atheists have regarding the yahoos does not endear them to me.
If there were no God... athiests would have invented one just to rail against.
The comments take apart his straw man arguments. The fact that he (or others) finds some atheists very dis-likeable, does not alter the arguments.
Most atheism/agnosticism springs not from intellectual probing, but from unwillingness to curtail one's freedom.
The fear that "if there is a God, it means I can't do as I please" underlies most of the fancy-pants talk.
We all make decisions of much more immediate consequence based on partial information and uncertain forecasts of the future.
The sticking point in this case is the fear of surrendering personal "freedom".
"Most atheism/agnosticism springs not from intellectual probing, but from unwillingness to curtail one's freedom."
That is nonsense.
There are MANY atheists who neither make a big deal of their atheism, nor live an excessively licentious lifestyle.
I've been an agnostic or atheist since I was about 16, and back then I did take the position that since there was no god, the only moral limits to my actions were the deliberate or neglectful injury of others.
But I was 18. 18 year olds think a LOT of dumb things. Reflection, philosophy classes and books, taking with older and wiser (not always both) people lead me better to understand things.
This helps a bit:
Eventually I came to realize that right and wrong are about what allows us as a species to continue to exist and to co-exist. I stay faithful to my wife, not because of the threat of hell, or the threat of permanent separation from god, but because a society where people honor their contracts, where parentage is clear and where both parents stick together to raise their children is a healthier, more productive and more resilient society.
Our moral traditions may be handed down by god, or they may be what wise men looked around and were able to understand without resorting to regression analysis on large datasets.
It does matter if it is right because God (or The Gods) love it, or the God(s) love it because it's right. In one case we can discover the truth for ourselves with our own intellect if for some reason the transmission isn't clear. In the other we have to trust the priests to pass it along accurately.
I'm given to understand that Judaism has a tradition of questioning their primary texts (hopefully with less enthusiasm than the Spanish Inquisition questioned Jews, but I digress). I wish Christianity had picked up that practice instead of insisting that it had been handed down pure AND TRANSLATED PURELY AS WELL. But I digress again.
A LOT of atheists and agnostics either never had any faith, and their continued inquiries never changed their minds (I'm thinking of the likes of Richard Feynman here. I don't know that he ever changed his mind or position on that question). Many others have looked at the universe through the eyes of a scientist and simply find no room for god (as an Agnostic these days I think that position is as faith based as any New-Earther).
Actually, there are Christians who hold that our Bibles are not perfectly translated. I am one such.
Who gives a s*** about an individual's beliefs. And why are we categorizing people and generalized how smug certain groups can be.
Everyone is prejudice against people with different beliefs, so the only people who can win an argument about something as futile as why are we here are the people who say my beliefs have nothing to do with yours.
The only thing we can truly judge people on without demeriting ourselves is our actions. It doesn't matter what you believe, but if your a smug piece of s***, you're still a smug piece of s***!
What's in a name? Agnostic, atheist, theist, believer?
I like Yahweh's words to Moses, "I am who am." (I am what is or the self reference of existence) That pretty much sums it up. Some ancient Hebrew figured out that "what is is," and that's pretty much it. No argument, no discussion and no stated cause or reason. We are not owed such and answer. Are we?
Just call me a ponderer. I'm happy with that.
I dare say, if god did not exist, there would still be religion. As for proof, look about the world. For you to deny that hinduism is false because that god does not exist only prooves my point. Of the hundreds of thousands of gods man has worshipped to claim yours is the only correct one should give a thinking person pause to examine their own claim. Mankind has proven that they can and will invent gods and religion. We are all atheists, I just deny the existence of one more god, yours.