Saturday, December 17, 2005

The last word in the debate

I have decided that my duty as a good host is to allow the guest to have the last word. I will make a breif general comment, but not try to "debate" the matters further. At the end fo JD's Rebuttle is a statment about accepentence and understanding of others. I agree with almost everything in that statment without any real qualification. So i will set that part out and make note of it, and just state here and now I think it's excellent.


I would like to start out this time by saying that I am actually really
enjoying this! I have numerous other dialogues open at this moment and none
other is nearly as stimulating as this one. You posted a comment to my
latest response and I agree with your thesis, that there needs to be a
discussion about understanding and acceptance. This is a very important
topic and I have written a response to it and will include it at the end of
this response.
I am going to go along the points that you made and give a short response, I
am not going to try and debate your points I am going to try to respond in
generality; however there are some topics that I will respond to directly.
When you speak of innate ideas of god and the idea that god is pre-wired
into the human mind I whole heartedly disagree and there is nothing short of
experimental proof that would even sway me. I am immersed in psychological
study and neuroscience and there is no such evidence that would suggest what
you believe. There is no harm in believe this as do you, but I do not and
there is no outstanding evidence or circumstantial reason for me to do so.
I would like to leave this topic at that and go on.
You ask me why I believe that all causes and effects are natural. You say
that I do not have direct proof of first cause, which is correct nobody does
least of all fundamental Christians. You assert that there is a need for a
first cause due to your arguments about the impossibility of an eternally
existing universe. I do not claim that the universe that we reside in
needed a first cause (widely called the ‘Big Bang’) or that the universe
itself is eternal. As I mentioned in my last response the science seems to
be showing that the universe is actually finite and will eventually spread
itself far enough as to cease to support itself. What I claim is that
before our universe came into existence there was an eternally existing
realm of naturalism, now I do not claim that there is evidence of this or
that this idea is indisputable, however, when you assert that before our
universe there was a god of supernatural ability there is equally no
evidence. Where as your theory of the beginning of existence requires
religious thought and hypothesis, my theory requires scientific thought and
hypothesis through theories stemming from the super-string theory of the
I never claimed that there was evidence behind the fact that all we firmly
know to exist is natural, this being evidence for it just because it’s all
that we know of. What I was getting at is that all that we can prove and
show to exist is natural, and that the supernatural cannot be proven or
shown to exist; this along with all of the supportive evidence on
naturalisms side being enough reason for me to accept it, I do not expect
others to do the same especially the inherently religious.
You speak of having an ace up your sleeve; please by no means feel that it
would be unfair to play it. As far as Paul Tillich I know of him and
disagree with his theology, from what I remember he was an existentialist
and had theories similar to Kierkegaard and Freud when it came to being; he
believe that people had an anxiety of nonbeing or of their inherent
mortality and death, this may be the only aspect of his theology with which
I would agree with.
When I explain what I was meaning with regards to there being natural
existence before the singularity seen in the Big Bang scenario you assert
that saying this is asserting something of which we have no knowledge of,
true but we have mathematical based theories to support it; and in any case
your theory of god is also something that we have absolutely no knowledge of
too. Your opposition to my theory can be applied to yours without any
The fact that you attempt to turn Spinoza into a man that believed in god
almost makes me angry. Spinoza was known as both the greatest Jew and the
greatest Atheist. There is no way in the world you can claim that Spinoza
believed in a monotheistic god of any religion. As a matter of fact he was
excommunicated from the Jewish community for his claims that all god really
is would be that of the mechanisms of nature and the universe, and that god
had no personality. When Spinoza used the word god to help describe
anything he was not meaning god in any religious sense he meant god as the
underlying essence that bound all of existence and to him this was nature,
if you don’t believe me reread his argument I provided. He wrote that, I
have not changed or altered a bit of it, he is clearly arguing that god is
merely nature and that people who believe otherwise have been misled. When
physicists and intellectuals in general use the word god to describe things
every now and again this does not mean that they are religious or that they
believe in a monotheistic god, it simply means that they are using a word to
help describe the underlying essence that binds all of existence. Einstein
used the word god numerous times when speaking of science and the universe;
however he was a secular humanist and did not believe in a monotheistic god.
It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an anthropological
concept which I cannot take seriously. I also cannot imagine some will or
goal outside the human sphere.... Science has been charged with undermining
morality, but the charge is unjust. A man's ethical behavior should be based
effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious
basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be
restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death. • ALBERT
In any case to attempt and assert that Spinoza was religious would be an
egregious deception; two of his formost philosophical position were, god is
the natural world and has no personality, and that the natural world created
itself. Now if he uses the word god in any of his writing (which he did) he
was obviously using it to mean the natural world (which he made very clear).
Supernaturalism does subvert science. Science is a system of acquited
knowledge based on empiricism, experimentation, and methodological
naturalism aimed at finding out the truth (italics mine). Supernaturalism
is superstitious.
I was about to go into a long argument for this but I feel that it would be
wholly uneseccary for you are religious and believe in the supernatural, and
in any case I will not be able to deter these beliefs. So let me just say
that, to me, supernatrualism is superstitious. Science and SN are in
competition (for if genesis isn’t a scientific theory on the creation of the
universe then what is it?). Religion is a scientific theory it is just a
really bad one. To me SN is irrational, and you make this evident in you
defense of it. You say that if we cannot understand it how do we know it is
not there. Well I cannot prove that god does not exist, I also cannot prove
that yellow fairies live in invisibilty surounding my physical body but this
surely does not mean that I should believe they do just because I cannot
prove otherwise.
You try and make it appear that I am opperating on faith when I say that we
should await the day when science is able to dispell these arguments and put
to rest any doubt or hesitation we may have about existence. This is not
faith it is reason, to conceed that one does not know the answer and that
one may be able to in the future and then to await this day (if it comes or
not) with out subscribing to SN. That is the epitomy of reason and
sensibilty, imagine being able to say “Yes I do not know, I may never know,
however, I will not subscribe to a theory or idea with absolutly no evidence
supporting it, I will not become discouraged at not knowing and attempt to
fill this lack of knowledge with religious superstition.”
You say that what I call weak in your argument is only what I am used to or
expecting to hear; you are completely wrong, so so wrong. My good friend
Eli believe in a very bizarre god, one that seems to change in definition
over time and depending on the discussion. He has asserted that god is a
pool of consciousness and that we as humans tap into this pool in order to
acquire consciousness ourselves, I then illustrated to him how we as humans
acquire consciousness through the phsyical body via the brain. He makes
statements such as: “When the totality of all existence pulsates through our
being and constitutes our being, we receive messages from it, but only those
messages that we can process given our receptors and our particular level of
consciousness.” This is a wild statement and what I had to say is as
follows: “God pulsates through our being and gives us messages that we can
process and understand? What are you talking about? How can you say
something such as this and not include an example or give any support? You
should include some form of representative illustration. Obviously this
isn’t true for no such entity is pulsing through me giving me messages.
Though if you would like to argue that god only pulsates through certain
individuals and sends them “messages” I would ask what messages? What do
these messages consist of? How are they viewed and understood by the
receptive individual? Are the messages akin to an idea, thought, or impulse
and if so how does one differentiate a message from god from that of an
idea, thought, or impulse? I have to say that it seems to me that you are
deriding fantastical explanations and definitions from otherwise easily
understood mechanisms of human functioning. Your statement implies that god
ebbs and flows through our being such as consciousness and states of self
awareness, and that god provides us with ideas, thoughts, and impulses
rather than the functioning of the human organs, hormones, chemicals, and
all of these things in continual interaction with one another. To me it is
simply illogical to believe these things and refuse to study the science
behind such mechanisms and functioning through psychology, physiology, and
neurochemistry. I am not degrading your commitment to such beliefs rather I
am challenging you to study the science behind some of your mystical
He has made many more wild claims and definitions of and for god and I have
opposed them all equally. Your views of god are not new and/or unexpected,
quite the opposite. I have studied many religions, many gods, many
mythologies, from the Egyptian-Chaldean Hellenistic universal consciousness,
alchemy, Islam, Greek and Roman mythology, Viking mythology, Buddhism,
Hinduism, to that of Scientology. So in reality your views of god are not
new to me quite the contrary, and to make this statement is quite
condescending, I would be offended if I were to not give you leeway based on
the fact that you were responding to a discomforting argument against your
My view of existence and naturalism is not circular, and your attempt to
show that it is does not even make sense: “nature is what is and is natural
by virture of the fact that it is.” What in the world is this illustrating
and how is it proof of my circular reasoning? Nature is natural because we
can prove that it is, when I see a rock I can prove that it is natural, when
I encounter wind or rain I can prove that it is natural. I have read and
reread that quote and it is similar to reading L Ron Hubbards book
Dianetics, it is so incomprehensible that it is astounding. Yes nature is
what is (we can prove natures existence) – “and is natural by virtue of the
fact that it is” no it is not natural merely because it is natural, it is
natural because we can interact, measure, view, and experiment with it, that
is why it is natural.
If you don’t have to define god then why in the world should I believe in
something that cannot be defined or explained? That is the “poppy cock” my
friend. You say that god is a mystical reality and that we may only
experience god, sounds quite familiar to what my friend Eli said and I again
reject such notions. Ultimately I do not believe in god for there is
insufficient evidence, and that any major religion already established
claiming to know god is historically wrong about numerous major issues; the
bible was written by a nomadic and savagely unsophisticated society of
people and I do not, have not, and never will subscribe to almost everything
written in the bible. “You can't dictate to people about their most sacred
bleiefs, those have to be formed of thier own properly basic experinces of
the world.” You can, you can show people the implausibility of their
religious belief in larger or lesser degrees. If ones sacred belief
involves animal sacrifice you can and should show them that this is wrong.
From this quote it seems to me like your idea of god isn’t based on science
but on personal experience and revelation, dare I say that internal
sensation, revelation and insight is quite subject to faulty functioning.
You claim that myself and most atheist are in a box dated in the 19th
century, how offensive and wrong. If any group of people were in a box
dated by history it would be all of the major monotheistic religions, your
faith is terribly archaic and outdated, my friend, you still subscribe to
14th centurey beliefs. In any case I do not believe that religion and
science are in competition overall, obviously there are numerous cases in
which this really is the case (Dover PA, Kansas, Saudi Arabia, Iran, to
mention a few). Obviously there are religious moderates that are capable of
reconciling their faith with science, I do not dispute that, never have and
never will. I am an atheist and I am in a box, a box free of
supernaturalism and the boxes date is not the 19th century it is the 21st.
Despite the offensiveness of some of your response I enjoyed reading it and
responding to it. It is good to have your belies challenged. I enjoy the
discourse that we have had thus far and I feel no hostility towards you or
your beliefs for that matter. At the end of the day we are both merely two
different people with differing views of the world. I think you are an
intelligent person with the best intentions, you have come off as offensive
a few times but I ascribe this not to your personality but to the subject
matter. For I find that topics such as these seem to inculcate the heat of
passions flame which may then ungulf the sensible mind, I know I have been
as guilty of this as anyone else. Despite our different views I feel that
we are both good people and that we both would like to see more hormony
within the human race which leads me to my response to your comment.


Acceptance and Understanding

I agree that talking about acceptance and understanding is far too sparse
and should be undertaken to a fuller extent. As the both of us have
effectively demonstrated two individuals with opposing viewpoints may still
get along with one another by subverting intolerance and hateful bigotry.
People with differing viewpoints and beliefs about the world in which we
live does not negate the fact that we are all human beings that share a
common humanity, we are all connected and bound to one another through the
similarities of the human experience. Ethnocentrism, racism, and bigotry
are all expressions of human iniquity and failure; these shortcomings
expressed in any fashion should be exposed and reformed. The human race in
general is subject to any of these given faults and no race, country, or
group may be exempt.
In order to help rectify such intolerance and hostility the entire world
needs progress, every nation needs to acknowledge and accept differing
religious views, philosophic beliefs, and cultural traditions. There are
certainly specific nations in greater need of these items than others, Saudi
Arabia being a prime example. Here in the United States we need to bolster
elementary education on up with more classes and programs dealing directly
with cultural and racial diversity. There also needs to be more effort in
redistributing the wealth so as to help end intolerable poverty and
starvation within our own country. The two greatest factors that inculcate
irrational hatred and intolerance would be ignorance and poverty. There
needs to be a greater focus on ending poverty and increasing education
standards, not only in middle class America but through out the impoverished
areas even more so. One must start from the beginning, it would be
impossible to teach an individual racial and cultural harmony while they
lived in an environment of increasing hostility, senseless violence, poor
education standards, lack of resources, and the adulation of achieving
success by way of illegal and destructive means. We must start here by
increasing the focus on education, on economy, and social reform. Only then
may we be able to work towards a social harmony for all humanity. The goal
is terribly difficult and will require hard work but it is a goal that is
both obtainable and worth the effort.
There are also little things that the individual can do on a daily basis.
There are things such as expanding your horizons, visit a Jewish synagogue,
read the Koran, read a book written by a humanist philosopher, talk and
interact with people outside of your world views comfort zone. These things
help the individual come to understand that people that are different are
only different to certain cultural and social degrees; in fact we are much
more similar than one may even fathom. The next time you run across a Hindu
or Muslim women take time out and speak with them, and there is no need to
talk of religion or world views talk about ever day human life, ask about
their family, their jobs, how they’re doing, etc. Simply make the effort to
understand where these people are coming from, how and why they are the way
they are or believe the way they believe, come to understand that these
people are merely people. Come to know that despite differences (especially
religious) we are all equal and that we all have something to offer worth
value, we are no better or worse than the next based merely on beliefs, we
are better or worse than the next based on the way we interact with one
another and conduct ourselves not only within the confines of familiarity
but within the boundaries of difference.
To help make a difference and effect positive change we all must foster
undying empathy, unconditional positive regard, and the general concern for
the well being of other people and life in general. We must strive to
champion human rights and ability and work towards creating a tranquil
world-state for all of humanity.



No comments: