28
Mar
08

Blinded me with science

da-vinci_man2.jpgBeen a bit busier this week than normal with the kind of work that pays me cash as opposed to spiritual dividends, so I’m a bit more spotty than usual with my posts. Might go for two today to make up for lost time, but we’ll see.

Some of the blogs I like to frequent, especially ones dealing with politics, arts and social commentary, are authored by folks who either don’t want to deal with church or God, or who flat-out don’t believe in any kind of higher power. (You didn’t think a guy who swears while spreading the word about God would just go to religious sites, did you? The Christian Coalition would have a collective seizure if they saw my Favorites on MSN and YouTube.) And something hit me recently, and maybe I’m crazy, but I don’t think anyone in this world lacks a religion, not even atheists. Bear with me a moment on this. Maybe I’m just spouting nonsense, but I think I’m on to something.

A lot of folks seem to think that somehow the world is a game of science vs. religion. I disagree completely. Plenty of great scientists have believed (and continue to believe) in God or some other deity. And science itself has provided support for events and people in the Bible, like the existence of the Hittites, whom a lot of Bible critics claimed were just made up, and the existence and destruction of those rockin’ capitals of sin, Sodom and Gomorrah.

So, we cannot say that science and religion are mutually exclusive. If that’s the case, what separates atheists from theists (Christian or otherwise)?

It’s the god we worship.

Yes, atheists have a god of sorts. And in most cases, their god is science. Science and faith don’t cancel each other out, but when God or any other spirit-based power is taken out of the equation completely, science (or pure reason, or some other similar thing) becomes a god. Atheists look to science to answer all the questions. If something cannot be seen, detected, measured or inferred from existing scientific knowledge, it generally isn’t worth considering its existence. Even love becomes a biochemical reaction, not a spiritual connection. Sure, it’s a damned fine-feeling biochemical reaction, but its just a product of hormones ultimately.

Yeah, that’s right, I believe atheism is a religion. It is a religion that lifts up science and intellect above the unseen world of the spirit. For most religions, their God or gods are essentially spiritual and that doesn’t wash with the atheists. Anything that puts an unseen entity above what atheists see as the pinnacle of evolution (humans) is utter dog crap to them. They see it as some comforting delusion that people would have faith in something unseen and unmeasurable. To them, it is as freakish as people who used to not believe in germs because they couldn’t be seen. Or who thought the world was flat as a damned pancake.

The thing is, I understand where they are coming from. I don’t even knock atheists for feeling this way. Truth be told, I think it takes a lot of faith to be an atheist. I’m serious. And isn’t that what religion is about? Faith. A hardcore atheist would probably whup my ass in a dark alley for saying that, because of course we can see the fruits of science, and they would say they are logical or rational, not faithful.

But what about that part of the human nature that seeks spiritual things? It seems odd that if evolution is such a wonderful process that keeps making creatures better and better and more adapted to their environment that it would give us all this intellect and reasoning and install some freaking flaw that has us looking for the divine. Just as the non-atheists have faith in the existence of spiritual things, so do atheists cling to a faith that such feelings are flawed and that no spiritual aspect exists. No soul. Nothing but a really advanced collection of water and trace minerals in a two-legged sack of skin.

Shit, that’s some serious faith. Because humans long for spiritual connection. I think that’s because the connection was broken by the first two real spiritually developed humans (I touch on this a little in my post Who Really Blew It In Eden?). God had to let us stew in our own juices for a while and work through the world and his “chosen people” the Hebrews to get us Jesus, who would restore that connection. Not everyone accepts that Jesus is that spiritual missing link, but then again, no one agrees that we’ve found an evolutionary missing link yet bewtween apes and primitive humans either. But atheists have to write that spiritual longing off as a flaw, just as I, as a man of spiritual faith, have to deal with the fact that God wants me to approach Him with faith and not show Himself to me in some rational, physical way. We all have our crosses to bear in maintaining our religious faith, whether theist or atheist.

Sure, you have atheists who believe in unseen and unmeasurable stuff, like psychic powers, the idea that extraterrestrials built the pyramids and stuff like that. But I think of that no differently than misguided Christians, for example, who insist the earth is only something like 7,000 years old and that the Virgin Mary actually remained a virgin after Jesus was born. And then, owing to a shared delusion, some people in both camps hold to the concept that Sarah Jessica Parker is actually sexy, but that’s a whole other story.

And I guess this is why I find the most ardent atheists both fascinating and at times frustrating. I and many other Christians I know don’t try to disprove science. So, in an odd way, I feel like Christians, at least those who maintain some critical thinking, are more well balanced overall. We don’t deny either the rational or spiritual aspects of ourselves. Yet atheists often won’t give an inch and will not be convinced at all that spiritual things could be real.

So, I guess what I’m saying is that the most fundementalist religion on the planet is atheism. Ain’t that ironic?

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29 Responses to “Blinded me with science”


  1. 1 Dan
    March 28, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    What is with this stupidity? You can’t conceive of someone without a god, so you feel the need to make one up for them?

    Get over it – gods aren’t necessary; science is not a god – it is a method and a body of knowledge.

  2. March 28, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    Yo, outline your basic Christian beliefs for me. I’m trying to determine where you fall on the faith spectrum.

    I’m somewhat of a fundamentalist, but I have a few quirks.

    I believe in evolution and creation, think homosexuality is a sin but am fine with gay marriage and think the world was created in seven days, but that those days werer millions of our days.

    Just to name a few quirks.

  3. 3 Deacon Blue
    March 28, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    Hey, Dan, thanks for your thoughtful assessment of my intelligence. It is soooo welcome. Yeah, I’m a blithering idiot. My point is not that science is a god but that hard-core atheists make science their god, whether they know it or not. And if you read my post with any attention to detail or some of my other posts or perhaps, better yet, my profile…you’d realize that I have a lot of respect for science. Hell, I write about scientific shit on a regular basis for magazines that go out to people in the health and pharmaceutical professions.

    Big Man…whoa that’s a big request. My beliefs will come out over time in this blog, but I’m not sure how well I can bullet-point them on the fly. But I’ll try a few:

    – I believe God created the universe but I believe in evolution. I’m not 100% certain if humans are part of the evolutionary chain entirely, if they were created outside of it…or if Adam and Eve were “modified” from their homo sapien kin to be spiritual and not simply material beings. But that’s a whole other post I plan in the future.

    – I think homosexuality is a sin but I have no problem with homosexuals nor do I really understand what God has against it. But then again, I think nothing of lying at times, and that’s a sin too.

    – The 7-day creation was either a figurative 7 days, with the days being more like epochs…or the earth was damaged in the process of the war in heaven and God put it back together over 7 days and then started the shit off with Adam and Eve.

    I have more, but it was easier to respond to your quirks and I have to go get my daughter from daycare right now. More later. 😉

  4. March 28, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    But what about that part of the human nature that seeks spiritual things? It seems odd that if evolution is such a wonderful process that keeps making creatures better and better and more adapted to their environment that it would give us all this intellect and reasoning and install some freaking flaw that has us looking for the divine.

    The rest of your post relies on the above quote as supporting evidence. However, without it, it loses substance. By attributing purpose to humanity’s penchant for mysticism, you are somehow assuming that makes it correct, and if correct, it must be a good, and therefore a wonderful thing to have.

    Your general insight and logic are not that bad. The problem is that you begin with a faulty premise–specifically about the nature of evolution.

    Even though you are trying to talk about science alone, you add God characteristics anyway, making it seem like evolution is guided by an intelligence that chooses the best means of adapting to an environment. This is not the case. Nature is random, making evolution random as well. Evolution may make you better over the long term or worse. If better, that is because through chance a particular characteristic was just good enough to be passed on. This does not mean that it was the most efficient one available, or that it was ideal. Chances are, there were even better adaptive traits, that through chance again, never had the opportunity to be passed on to future generations. This may have been because there was insufficient time for such a trait to appear in an organism, or there was but for some reason was prevented from spreading to the general population. There are just so many better ways for any particular organism to evolve at any given time that never come into fruition. The average person is not aware of this. And so, they marvel at the wonders of the human mind, all the while ignorant that of all possible traits we could have had, there is a very good chance we got a mediocre or even raw deal.

    An example for this, can be seen in a human possessing natural immunity to diseases powerful enough to kill most humans. Clearly, this particular human is evolutionary superior. But, if we were to superimpose your argument over this scenario, the general population (who dies no less) would be considered better just because through chance, they possessed an evolutionary trait that was more widespread.

    Because we are the dominant species on the planet, many tend to inflate humanity’s superiority. The reality, is that if not for our brain, we would be evolutionary inferior to many species on Earth. Still, our brains have the potential to evolve even more–or if chance would have it, generally devolve. With advances in science, specifically genetic engineering, we may be able to evolve faster–and more importantly, better. In that case, we can choose individuals who possess superior characteristics, such as high intelligence and pass them on to future generations. Again, this is just another example that illustrates my point. The average human intelligence is not optimal. It is just common.

    Furthermore, the human brain is incredibly complex. Humanity (as of now) may have a predisposition for the God complex as observed for thousands of years, but thousands of years is a relatively small time frame from an evolutionary perspective. Given enough time, and possibly a bit of a push through genetic engineering, and we may even eliminate it.

    In other words, better is not the same as best. That the God complex is common, does not make it superior. In fact, there is a good chance it is inferior. Many parts of the human brain are largely operated by primitive urges. To take the stand that the God complex somehow escapes inferiority is not logically sound. It is just wishful thinking that is largely based on another primitive urge–the need to belong which is dependent on how many (through chance) happen to share your particular beliefs and disposition.

  5. 5 Dan
    March 28, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    Deacon,
    Whatever your thoughts on science, by using the word ‘god’ in reference to how ‘hardcore atheists’ worship science, you’re making an enormous gaff. It’s stupid. That’s my point.

    Yes, I know that you’re using the term figuratively, and don’t really mean religion when you say ‘religion.’ Or at least I hope that’s the case – and if it is, then perhaps I’m just a bit touchy and jumped the gun. But I don’t think it is the case, as you say:

    Yeah, that’s right, I believe atheism is a religion. It is a religion that lifts up science and intellect above the unseen world of the spirit.

    Here you imply that science is about believing, as in verificationism or positivism. That’s just bad science. Oh it happens, sure, but it’s not the way that open inquiry usually works. Moreover, you say:

    so do atheists cling to a faith that such feelings are flawed and that no spiritual aspect exists. No soul. Nothing but a really advanced collection of water and trace minerals in a two-legged sack of skin.

    Shit, that’s some serious faith.

    Um, no. That’s skepticism (questioning assumptions) for you, not faith (not questioning assumptions).

    And no, I didn’t say that you were stupid. I said that you said something stupid.

  6. 6 Deacon Blue
    March 28, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    First, Dan, sorry if I jumped the gun as well and took the stupidity comment personally. As for my chain of logic and terminology, it may not be perfect, but I never claimed to be doing a dissertation. As with so many blogs, much of what I do is opinion and gut feeling. I would say, though, that denying that a spiritual nature truly exists is more than mere skepticism. It is a tacit statement that people of faith believe in fairy tales and that their beliefs are a sign of failing to accept reality. At least that’s my two cents.

    Satoruvash…thanks for the input. I need to re-read and digest it a bit, but I get your general point. Doesn’t mean I back down from any of my beliefs to a significant degree, but if I have oversimplified evolution, my bad. But you’ve corrected that, so I don’t have to. That’s the thing I love about blogs…we all have our areas of expertise and there’s always someone who can explain something in a more detailed or more accurate fashion. My general opinions are always evolving themselves, even if my basic beliefs don’t budge much.

    Anyway, nice to see a post of mine finally get some reactions. 🙂

  7. 7 thewordofme
    March 28, 2008 at 11:47 pm

    Hi Deacon, Good post.

    Just one quibble to talk about, although there are others, but no time. You write: “Atheists look to science to answer all the questions. If something cannot be seen, detected, measured or inferred from existing scientific knowledge, it generally isn’t worth considering its existence. Even love becomes a biochemical reaction, not a spiritual connection. Sure, it’s a damned fine-feeling biochemical reaction, but its just a product of hormones ultimately.”

    The only reason science goes by the observe, detect, measure,quantify, predict,verify is that that is what science is all about. By using science we are able to conquer and manage our world to our advantage. If you think about it, there is lots of science all about us. We are able to build homes and cities, bring water and food to our tables with little effort. We can grow food easily, (Have you ever hand dug a garden?)we can travel and have good education; and science is behind it all.

    Religion is all about magic and feelings.

    The trouble for religion now is that some of the sciences are getting VERY good, and as a consequence some things in the Bible that have been taken for granted for thousands of years, are being disproved. It’s not an evil plot of scientists; it’s just the inevitable effect of advancing knowledge.

    Of course there are scientists who believe, but they are generally not in the sciences that directly impinge on religion. I know there are a few high profile exceptions (Behe comes to mind)to this, but if you look deep enough they are marginalized in their field. But,they do extremely well by writing to the fundamentalist evangelical crowd, so I doubt if they care.

    Anyway, thats my 2 cents worth for now. Enjoy your blog keep up the good work.

  8. 8 Deacon Blue
    March 29, 2008 at 12:00 am

    thewordofme, I don’t accuse science of having any kind of evil plot. But I would disagree that science is systematically disproving the Bible. I’d love to hear some example of things in the Bible that science is specifically disproving.

    I would also disagree that religion is about magic per se. There are religions in which magic plays a role, but in talking about God, he is not using magic. The architect of the cosmos is working within the order He created. God doesn’t violate the laws of the universe; He embodies them.

    In any case, I too, am doing this response rather quickly, as it’s hard to exert sound reason and ordered thought with a 2-year-old milling about my feet. But if you have time, I would like to hear some of your examples of things that science has disproven from the Bible. I’m not saying there aren’t any, but in order to respond to something like that, I would have to know what things you are addressing.

  9. 9 Inda Pink
    March 29, 2008 at 3:09 am

    Well, Deke, I’m respsonsible for wordofme being around these parts thanks to my last post, but I swear I didn’t bring Dan here…lol

    Seriously tho I think it’s a nice little debate going on here but I’m just going to watch. After Deke’s initial comment here, I thought there’d be more blood in the water by now but no. You gettin soft on us Deke? Where’s that killer spirit you used against Nsangoma? I haven’t seen a good bloody fight since the last time I went to a hockey game with the hubby.

    ya know Im just kiddin tho, right? Deke? Um, what’s that behind your back?

  10. 10 Deacon Blue
    March 29, 2008 at 4:50 am

    Well, Pink, I went after Nsangoma like I did because he was an insufferable jerk. Now, in hindsight, I see he is a chronic asshole with just about everyone and I probably should have ignored him. But our fight did get me a little nod from The Field Negro and boosted my hits here for a week, so all’s well that ends well. I don’t sense that Dan is a jerk. His choice of words was a bit more harsh than I think were justified, since I don’t think my approach was stupid (and I did admit in my post I could be off my rocker to suggest that atheism is a religion of sorts)…but Dan is able to do at least some give and take and didn’t try to emasculate me like Nsangoma. And thewordofme actually gave me some kudos with his criticism so he’s aces in my book at the moment.

    So, sorry, no bloodshed expected on this one, though it’s still possible I might get a workout from both these guys and there’s still time for some insufferable jerks to show up around here, too…so maybe you’ll get blood in the water yet, Pink.

    EDIT: Damn, forgot to mention Satoruvash…sorrry about that…that’s three thoughtful foks in this commentary and no irredeemable dingleberries yet in sight. (This is what I get for posting things so late at night)

  11. March 29, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    Ha – no, I just visited because I have a habit of prowling the wordpress tags (science being one of them) when I have time to kill, and a compulsive habit of also following conversations in My Comments. 😉

    That said, yeah, I fly off the handle and am overly harsh at times. Sorry about that. I also know that a lot of non-atheists react to atheists in the way that deaconblue describes. That just irks me as it comes off sounding like total BS: “They criticize religion, so they must be religious”… what nonsense is that?

    Anyway, I’ve said my bit, I just felt like returning to clarify where I’m coming from personally. All the best, whatever your final thoughts on deaconblue’s comments are.
    -Dan

  12. 12 Deacon Blue
    March 29, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    Thank God for creating…oh, pardon me, thank wordpress for having…tags. I’ll take my visitors any way I can get ’em, Dan.

    Anyway, no hard feelings. I can appreciate your reluctance to be called “religious” when you don’t subcribe to any god’s or goddess’ handbook, but I still can’t shake the feeling that a lot of atheists, particularly the ones who are more apt to study, critique or even pick apart religious beliefs, are operating from a very dogmatic angle.

    I mean, I believe Jesus is the only true path, and I try to share my views and the gospel in the most accessible and non-confrontational way I can in the hopes that people who haven’t accepted Jesus will at least consider doing so…but I don’t go around waggling my finger in people’s faces (not even online) and calling them ignorant or deluded. Unless of course they hold such extreme views that they pose a danger, psychologically or physically, to others.

    But I have run into a lot of atheists online recently who are willing to say things like “Chrisitians believe in fairy tales” or “Judaism and Christianity are nothing more than people believing in ancient Hebrew folklore.” My faith is something very deep and while being a Christian doesn’t always feel GOOD, it always feels RIGHT. My path can be shaky at times, but what I have inside isn’t some “feel good cure-all” or some flight of fancy. I simply have a connection with my spiritual self as well as my rational/cognitive self.

    And thus I get a bit irritated at people who try to disregard faith, especially on a personal basis with my beliefs…and then walk away smug in their intellectual conceits.

    Now, to make it clear, NONE of this is aimed at Dan or anyone else who has posted here. And my original post might have been influenced by some of my bad encounters recently. But it’s just my way of saying, none of us has a lock on knowledge or truth. Even though I firmly believe Jesus is the only way, that doesn’t mean that I know all the specific answers or understand everything. But by the same token, I don’t need to understand all the workings of the computer I’m using right now to make it a vital and important part of my life.

    Again, I just don’t like it when atheists…and perhaps my post refers more to a subset of that group…just treat me and others in faith like mindless automatons. Yes, some people of faith are sheep who let themselves be led by men instead of the spirit. But that’s not all of us.

    So, an additional two cents in the pot, there…and a long-winded two cents at that.

  13. March 29, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    Science and faith don’t cancel each other out, but when God or any other spirit-based power is taken out of the equation completely, science (or pure reason, or some other similar thing) becomes a god.

    I can understand Dan’s frustration with what you say. You try to be insightful and in some places you succeed, but your post fails overall because of the holes, and saying that it is not a dissertation is a poor excuse. Anything worth believing in or having an opinion about must survive scrutiny or it is simply not worth it. Reason is just a tool that helps one carry out that specific purpose. One does not worship a tool. One uses a tool. At any point, if the tool fails to perform to standards, it can be upgraded or discarded. God on the other hand is perceived as the origin and not a tool. Instead, the human becomes the tool that is guided by God. You do not upgrade or customize God to better serve your purposes.

    In your desire to understand Atheism, you are going by what you know and what you know is worship. Therefore, you find a way to somehow imbue Atheism with worship. Ultimately, you fail. Dan is correct in saying that many who believe cannot imagine an existence without a God. It is not your desire to understand Atheism that is the problem. It is that you are going about it in the wrong way and in so are projecting first and then observing, instead of observing first. By tainting the results in such a way, your chances of arriving at truth are minimal.

    Definitions exist for a reason and not even in the most figurative sense can science be a God. The moment you twist a definition, the source word becomes something else. The purpose of a dictionary is to remove ambiguity as much as possible. It is meant to be literal. One is not supposed to take a word, read the definition, and then cut here and paste there to create one’s own, then using that distortion, passing it off as the source word. Given what Science IS, its definition will never match the definition of God just like the definition of a tomato will never match that of a human.

    Just as the non-atheists have faith in the existence of spiritual things, so do atheists cling to a faith that such feelings are flawed and that no spiritual aspect exists. No soul. Nothing but a really advanced collection of water and trace minerals in a two-legged sack of skin.

    There is no evidence that a soul exists. People wrote about and believed in souls when they had little or no scientific knowledge just like they wrote about Gods in the sky when they did know what stars were and so forth. At any rate, it is curious how many believers think that without God life has no meaning—this includes themselves of course.

    There is nothing wrong with being ‘a really advanced collection of water and trace minerals in a two-legged sack of skin.’ We are conscious, able to think, breathe, love, enjoy life and so forth—all good things. There is nothing lowly about it.

    But atheists have to write that spiritual longing off as a flaw,

    To believe in things that are not rational is a flaw. It is a flaw in any other context other than the God context to believers because they want it to be that way. It is not logical. It is wishful thinking and incredibly biased. I think few theists actually believe in God for these reasons. There is a difference between believing something is true and wanting it to be true. It is a nice idea to think that one will be reunited with loved ones after our bodies start decomposing. Some even think if they wish hard enough, it will be true.

    At any rate, I do not think that people are inclined to believe in God. They are confusing the need to belong and be happy with the supernatural. They want it so badly, that they will sacrifice many things for the sake of Religion because it offers these things whether it is in life, or death, or both. If they could be told they could have second chances without the need to die first to receive them, or that they could belong and be happy and somehow find a way to be with loved ones after their biological bodies died . . . than religion would be of no more use to them. Let us not forget telling them they could be good people without religion as well. Perhaps advances in technology will help with this. Perhaps one day we will be able to become increasingly integrated with technology until we are fully artificial.

    The point is Religion offers comfort. Truth is irrelevant. But in a world where truth is valued, the only way Religion can survive is if a follower tries very hard to convince themselves that it really does offer truth. The more they succeed at this, the more comfort they feel, the more comfort they feel, the harder they will try to convince themselves—ad nauseum. In a world where comfort is in short supply, people will run around the circle of religion even harder.

    The only way most people can escape the cycle of religion is to discover a way to be comforted without it. This is not easy if the only way they know to obtain comfort is with religion. Most humans are inherently lazy. They will choose the easiest path. If religion works for them, they think there is no need to give it up. And really, I have no problem with this. As I said, comfort is hard to come by for most humans. Any way they can get it, as long as it is positive, it is fine. What most Atheists have a problem with, is people claiming that Religion is based on Truth and/or that it has a place in the Law.

    Both claims are false. The Bible is a long novel, for example. Nothing more. This said, it does not make it useless. Many people have been inspired and affected by good novels. They discard the parts they do not like and use the ones they do in order to make their lives better. In the same way, they can fill their homes with crucifixes and statues of Jesus like hardcore comic fans fill their homes with action figures. Others can claim Jesus as their hero in the same way that Batman can be seen as a hero. I would not think someone deluded if they told me God was their role model. I would however, if they told me they thought God was real.

  14. 14 Deacon Blue
    March 30, 2008 at 2:36 am

    You try to be insightful and in some places you succeed, but your post fails overall because of the holes, and saying that it is not a dissertation is a poor excuse.

    This is a blog. Some blogs are highly researched academic creatures. Some are completely off the cuff and stream of consciousness. Some fall in the middle. As I see my blog, most days, I am having a conversation at my dinner table. I’m not going to always have ironclad thesis/evidence/conclusion structure nor am I going to always be without holes. This post was something that to me seemed like a “ah-ha” moment, and I made it clear from the outset of the post that it might be a stretch, but it was an interesting stretch even if you can pick it apart on multiple levels if you attack it from an academic standpoint.

    In your desire to understand Atheism, you are going by what you know and what you know is worship. Therefore, you find a way to somehow imbue Atheism with worship. … It is not your desire to understand Atheism that is the problem. It is that you are going about it in the wrong way and in so are projecting first and then observing, instead of observing first. By tainting the results in such a way, your chances of arriving at truth are minimal.

    You make a very good point here about projection. Most likely guilty as charged. I still think that atheism can be very dogmatic and judgmental though. It still strikes me very much like a position of faith, but you’re right that it lacks worship. Then again, it can be argued that some religions are more accurately philosophies and lack a true deity to worship…so I think that worship as a prerequisite for all religion isn’t necessarily true.

    That being said, I will officially concede that my views in the original post are quite likely tainted by my personal perspective. But this is a subjective piece of writing. I never claimed to have an objective, researched piece of work here. Or, if I did, I don’t remember having done so and it wasn’t my intention.

    The purpose of a dictionary is to remove ambiguity as much as possible. It is meant to be literal. One is not supposed to take a word, read the definition, and then cut here and paste there to create one’s own, then using that distortion, passing it off as the source word. Given what Science IS, its definition will never match the definition of God just like the definition of a tomato will never match that of a human.

    Ok, you’ve got me. In my mental gymnastics, I twisted the meaning of the word religion. But let’s face it, language and words are fluid things, and not just in the long-term sense but in the situational sense. But people on both sides of the fence are guilty of some word-twisting. How about the atheists who tell me that by believing what I believe, I am believing in a “fairy tale”? According to your own argument, I don’t think you would say that a fairy tale and a set of religious beliefs are the same…even if an atheist is working from a standpoint that both are fiction. It adds a special level of derision to say I put my faith in a fairy tale. Twisted words to get a point across. So, guilt on this point lies on both sides of the fence.

    To believe in things that are not rational is a flaw.

    I think you’re guilty of oversimplification here, just as I may have done the same thing in parts of my post. Rational is NOT the only way to go in the world. Gut feelings and emotion, just to name two non-religious things, are not rational. But following them isn’t a flaw. Of course, your point is probably more along the lines that to believe in something that cannot be proven is a flaw, as you noted in an earlier statement that “There is no evidence that a soul exists.” Science has uncovered many things because people pursued a line of thought that had no evidence to support it. They found the evidence. If we believed only in things for which there was already evidence, we would never advance, would we? I would argue that spiritual beliefs, properly held and in line with God, advance people in ways that rationality alone do not.

    The only way most people can escape the cycle of religion is to discover a way to be comforted without it. This is not easy if the only way they know to obtain comfort is with religion. Most humans are inherently lazy. They will choose the easiest path.

    I think it is presumptuous to think that people need to “escape the cycle of religion.” My god, man, that sounds like “escape the cycle of abuse.” And if that’s your intent, I’m insulted. If not, you are still making an assumption that religion is something that needs to be removed from our world. I would ask you to tell me why it should.

    Also, you seem to think that religion is an easy path of the lazy. In Christianity, at least, if you are doing what you are supposed to be doing and behaving the way your are supposed to behave and examining yourself in the ways you should to move forward in the faith walk, it is anything BUT easy. I had a life without Christ in it before, and looking back, it was a MUCH easier path. And, frankly, more comfortable and enjoyable. But comfort and joy aren’t always what is best for our growth. I also sense that you see faith as an endpoint, where people choose religion and that’s the end. Walking in faith is a process of change and growth. There is no end to that journey in this world. You are as guilty of misunderstanding religion…Christianity at least…as I probably am of misunderstanding many aspects of atheism.

    In the end, I’ll give you this: You have achieved a technical knockout of me in terms of my argument that atheism is a kind of religion. You have not, however, scored sufficient points to try to knock my faith into the ground. Your arguments against religion, Christianity or otherwise, actually come across as quite patronizing in the end. For my part, I respect atheists for their ability to create a world in which they can completely disregard the spiritual. That I disagree with them on that and fear for their souls doesn’t remove the fact that I think they have a lot of good reasons internally to believe what they believe and I wouldn’t attempt to tell them they are deluded.

  15. March 30, 2008 at 10:02 am

    Deaconblue,
    I know your comments here are in depth and extensive, but for the sake of brevity I will just focus on one aspect of your views:

    I can appreciate your reluctance to be called “religious” when you don’t subcribe to any god’s or goddess’ handbook, but I still can’t shake the feeling that a lot of atheists, particularly the ones who are more apt to study, critique or even pick apart religious beliefs, are operating from a very dogmatic angle.

    And I too can appreciate how it can easily sound like the “new atheists” are being overtly dogmatic. Afterall, on the question of whether there is a God, there exists no proof for either the theist or the atheist to settle the argument; and the new atheists appear to be claiming just the opposite (that there is proof that theism is a delusion). Strictly speaking, that’s true, the new atheists have no such proof against the Christian God.

    Still, I hardly think that it’s controversial to say that an interventionist God (of the sort that Christianity supposes), and the privileged place in the universe that that theology lays claim to, are ridiculous. The Copernican Principle does appear more valid than the Anthropic Principle. Moreover, methodological naturalism implies philosophical naturalism, and those of us who work on the principle that deities will not intervene with our experiments, uses of technology, etc., tend to find it hard to believe that an interventionist god, that answers prayers, performs miracles, and otherwise gives a damn about the world, actually exists. (that says nothing about a creator god, but then again, the new atheists are attacking the theists, not the deists)

    I’m a huge fan of the late Carl Sagan’s myself, and on this subject, of chapter 2 in his book Pale Blue Dot in particular:

    Ann Druyan suggests and experiment: Look back again at the pale blue dot of the preceding chapter. Take a good long look at it. Stare at the dot for any length of time and try to convince yourself that God created the whole Universe for one of the 10 million or so species of life that inhabit that speck of dust. Now take it a step further: Imagine that everything was made just for a single shade of that species, or gender, or ethnic or religious subdivision. If this doesn’t strike you as unlikely, pick another dot. Imagine it to be inhabited by a different form of intelligent life. They, too, cherish the notion of a God who has created everything for their benefit. How seriously do you take their claim?

    The answer: it’s very difficult to take the claims of Christians on this topic seriously.

  16. 16 Deacon Blue
    March 30, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    Dan, thanks first of all for the acknowledgment that there is no PROOF against the existence of God…it’s something I haven’t heard from the atheist camp for a very long time it seems. Because, as is the nature of faith and spiritual things, they aren’t like physical/temporal things. They cannot be seen, measured or even embraced by the same standards. It will sound trite, I’m sure, but trying to explain what it feels like to open one’s self to God to an atheist is worse than trying to explain the value of color and shade to someone blind from birth. At least the blind person has hearing and you can compare color and shade in visual perspection to variations in pitch and tone in aural ones. There are atheists who come to God for various reasons (Lee Strobel is the only one I know off the top of my head though), but until they do, explaining what a spiritual awakening is like is often about as much fun as sticking one’s hand in a blender and hitting the pulse button a couple times.

    I like your example of the Ann Druyan experiment. Not simply because of the mental exercise (as I’ve noted several times now, I respect and understand the logical processes behind atheism) but because it is a great example of how people can miss the point. And I mean atheists and theists…or probably more accurately atheists and deists, since a polytheistic religious system like the ancient Greek/Roman, Egyptian, Babylonian, etc. god fit more easily into an earth-centered view, since the creation of the entire universe isn’t the issue.

    Anyway, back to my point: Christians themselves hamstring their faith and ability to share it with others by somehow positing that it’s all about the Earth. Now, maybe it’s because I’m an avid fan of speculative fiction or because I have a pretty fertile imagination, but I CAN see how this little blue dot fits into things and why it isn’t necessarily an egocentric/species-centered view at all. And this will be long-winded (though still far from my complete musings on the topic), and completely speculative (that is, I don’t think it’s necessarily the truth, just one of any number of ways it could be true), but I hope it will clarify my stand on things. No, it won’t PROVE anything, because it’s speculative, and I can be accused of simply using my human intellect to justify a fantasy, but here goes anyway:

    Let’s imagine that you are a being who has created a universe. You have created servants to be part of your comings and goings through the cosmos (those would be the angels) but what you want is to populate the universe with beings who are not simply spiritual creatures who SERVE you but beings in your own image (spiritually) who can LOVE you. Freely. And thus bring you from being a singular being to the head of a family.

    So, you decide to start small because, after all, you’re dealing in eternity here, and if you do anything fast, you’re going to have a lot of time to kill. You create beings (or modify beings) on one insignificant rock in the universe and give them that spiritual spark that mirrors your own spiritual blaze. You give them free will so that they can choose to be part of your family or reject you and be part of Satan’s. Your first two beings out of the starting gate, not completely unexpectedly, take the seemingly more attractive path of disobedience, and mar their spiritual natures in such a way that they essentially become dead to you.

    But you still have love for them, and so you work within the tainted and fouled pool they have created to bring forth, thousand, tens of thousands or millions of years later, a being who embodies your spiritual nature but is, unlike you, in physical form and can bridge the gap between you and your lost children, thus creating a way for the family to begin forming up again.

    Of course, this is still a huge work in progress, because the system you have set up is about faith and spiritual existence and sinless behavior. It’s your rules, still, and people are a long ways from internalizing those rules and, more important still, doing it because they WANT to and want to love you and not because you force them to. So humanity, even after the arrival of Jesus, continues to be a haphazard mix of the faithful and faithless and fence-sitters. But you know that as things progress, you will get a certain critical mass of those who choose your path.

    Now, why choose one planet? Why choose a certain group (the Hebrews) to start fixing the mess humans made? Why choose one savior? Because again, you’re dealing in eternity, and there’s no rush. In fact, to do things in a rushed fashion is simply to create the end YOU want without getting any satisfaction (or us getting any growth) from the process.

    So, let’s fast-forward to the end times, whenever they come. The situation on earth reaches the tipping point you’ve been working toward, when you finally bring everyone who’s willing into the family fold and finally settle the nonsense with Satan and the people who even after spending time disconnected from you after death and aware that they are spiritually dead, still don’t want to be connected to you. Now you have a new heaven and a new earth…you have sons and daughters who have shucked off their mortal coils and want to be with you as family and not created servants like the angels are.

    And then you give them harp lessons forever.

    OK, that was a joke. But here’s the thing: There is still a universe out there. Untold numbers of planets and a spiritual family that finally gets what you’re about (or mostly does). If you started things rolling on earth but planted the seeds for life in millions of other worlds as well, now you have young races coming up to whom you and your children can go, and build up THEIR spiritual natures in a similar manner. Perhaps, with your family having your spark but not your omni-everything power, your new sons and daughters maybe even create worlds of their own or small universes or whatever else.

    In other words, there is plenty of work and plenty to do, even with eternity staring you and your children in the spiritual face.

    Now, again, this is just a bunch of musings. I could also imagine a universe in which God is working not just here on earth but on other worlds as well. Perhaps in some worlds the first “people” didn’t disobey and started off on a better foot spiritually. Perhaps some worlds are just like ours and have their own Jesus. After all, you are the architect of time and space, and for your one true first son to be in different places at different times and sometimes simultaneously and still be the same individual isn’t that much of a stretch.

    OK, that one long-winded scenario and one short-winded one, and that’s just what I can imagine. The truth might even be more unfathomable or complex or maybe even simpler.

    In the end, I guess what I’m saying is that I totally understand the view that a deist view like the Christians or Jews or Muslims totally makes zero sense to atheists. But at the same time, being able to operate and see a world devoid of God makes zero sense to us.

    The problem is that too many deists don’t go beyond their own experience or the bound of this planet to think what bigger things God is planning. And too many atheists discount religion because they just look at the holy writings of that religion and say, “But why would God do that, even if He exists?” and don’t ponder why a universe would exist to begin with and why there isn’t simply a whole big lot of nothingness.

    We limit ourselves and we limit our ability to share with each other all the time. Not because we lack the ability as atheists or theists/deists to imagine more, but because too many of us don’t bother to.

  17. March 31, 2008 at 4:28 am

    In the end, I’ll give you this: You have achieved a technical knockout of me in terms of my argument that atheism is a kind of religion. You have not, however, scored sufficient points to try to knock my faith into the ground.

    I find it very amusing that you say you got your ass kicked. It gave me a good laugh and mainly for your choice of words–not the same as saying I was laughing at you, by the way.

    You and I are both passionate, but the motivations for it differ. I read your post ‘Notes from the battlefield’ in which you state that you are at War with Satan. From that perspective, I would be considered one of Satan’s warriors. To take that one more step, as Satan’s warrior, my purpose would be to defeat your faith. Except that being an Atheist does not mean my purpose is to defeat your religion. I found this post through a tag search and commented on it because I saw holes in your reasoning. There were results from that tag search with even bigger holes that made the poster’s reasoning abilities ridiculously inferior. Those types of posts I simply ignore. Such people would not recognize a superior argument even if it were hammered into them. I would gain nothing from it.

    In your post however, I perceived a genuine desire to understand. From understanding comes the opportunity for self-growth and I find such a pursuit commendable. I like problem solving. I like participating in exchanges that are thought out. In other words, I came here for the debate because I derive pleasure from it. No matter the outcome, no matter the winner, I like being challenged on an intellectual level, pushing past my current limits, and discovering new ones.

    I can understand your being defensive if I say I consider those who think God is real deluded, which by extension means I think you deluded. But, I think you wrongly conclude there must be more significance in my words then actually exists. We are all deluded at some point in our lives–some to a greater extent and more frequently than others. In the context of religion, this delusion is not that important. It makes about 5% of let us say . . . a practicing Christian’s life. The rest consists of actions and modes of conduct. In your case, this includes using the Bible as a guide. The doctrines you follow from it are mostly good. As I also said in my last post, I see no reason for someone to discard a system that positively influences their life.

    So again, your being offended by my believing you deluded is understandable. But, you thinking that I would go to the trouble of posting because I want to take something from you, is reaching. You project unto me what you see as very valuable (your faith) and assume I must see value in it too. At least, see enough to want to remove you of it. That would mean you make the actions and motivations of others center around what you have (faith).

    But, let us speculate that I did not come here for me and to fulfill a desire for debate. Let us assume I came here to snatch something so minor (thinking God is real) that without it your life and basic way you treat others and see yourself will not change in a significant way . . . if this were so important to me, and I cared to succeed no matter what, brainwashing techniques would be far more effective than simple debate.

    However, I have not. I came here because I enjoy being challenged on an intellectual level. I perceived that you possessed a genuine desire for understanding, which I find commendable. I like debate, and whether I win or lose, self-progress and self-improvement are always a given. These are my priorities. These are the things that motivate me. What you choose to believe in is ultimately inconsequential to me. I do not come bearing a sword.

    I still think that atheism can be very dogmatic and judgmental though.

    There is no rulebook for Atheism. All it means is that you do not believe in the existence of deities. What an Atheist chooses to believe in after that, is up to them.

    so I think that worship as a prerequisite for all religion isn’t necessarily true.

    I was referring to what you believe in. As a Christian, you worship. This is what you know and why I said that you used it to equate Atheism with worship.

    But people on both sides of the fence are guilty of some word-twisting. How about the atheists who tell me that by believing what I believe, I am believing in a “fairy tale”? According to your own argument, I don’t think you would say that a fairy tale and a set of religious beliefs are the same…even if an atheist is working from a standpoint that both are fiction. It adds a special level of derision to say I put my faith in a fairy tale. Twisted words to get a point across. So, guilt on this point lies on both sides of the fence.

    You miss my point. The definition of Science and Religion are too dissimilar to equate one with the other. Still, some words are closer to others. For example, take the words ‘like’ and ‘enjoy.’ Or, let us look at ‘fairy tale.’

    Fairy tale = noun
    1) 1. A fanciful tale of legendary deeds and creatures, usually intended for children.
    2. A fictitious, highly fanciful story or explanation.
    3. An interesting but highly implausible story; often told as an excuse [syn: fairytale]

    A belief in God is like believing in something ‘interesting but highly implausible.’ You tell stories of God to children to make them feel better or to teach a lesson. The above definition fits religion very well. A major difference is that most people think fairy tales are not real, whereas with religion, most followers think God is real. This changes too. What was considered ‘real’ several thousand years ago is not considered real anymore. Zeus is a fairy tale to most. It is considered mythology. The Christian God may at some point in the future be considered mythology by most too.

    Anyway, why take offense to something like that? Even if it is a fairy tale, the stories are supposed to teach a lesson and those lessons are usually universal. You will see many applying them to their own lives in history and present times regardless of belief in deities or not.

    I think you’re guilty of oversimplification here, just as I may have done the same thing in parts of my post.

    It is oversimplification if you take it out of context. The context of my comment as well as your post is a belief in God.

    Gut feelings and emotion, just to name two non-religious things, are not rational. But following them isn’t a flaw.

    Emotions are not flaws in themselves. They compliment our reasoning. But, they are flaws if a person chooses to act strictly on them. To do so is to be strictly irrational. It is a common misconception.

    Science has uncovered many things because people pursued a line of thought that had no evidence to support it. They found the evidence. If we believed only in things for which there was already evidence, we would never advance, would we? I would argue that spiritual beliefs, properly held and in line with God, advance people in ways that rationality alone do not.

    Pursuing an idea is not the same as believing in the idea. Science advances on ‘what if’ and many discoveries are made whilst trying to discover something else altogether! Furthermore, science rarely operates on no evidence at all. Theories come through observations, even if they are small. What happens is that a discovery is made, theories are formed based on that and so forth. After each discovery, theories are updated and others altogether dismissed. To operate on no evidence at all is silly and not very time efficient, for speculations can go on until infinity. With zero evidence, one speculation is as good as another.

    I think it is presumptuous to think that people need to “escape the cycle of religion.” My god, man, that sounds like “escape the cycle of abuse.” And if that’s your intent, I’m insulted. If not, you are still making an assumption that religion is something that needs to be removed from our world. I would ask you to tell me why it should.

    The cycle I was referring to was the one I used in my example, where I said religion cycles between a belief in God and practicing its preachings, which are then encouraged by a belief in God, and so forth. Ideally, religion should be based on its teachings and not necessitate a belief in God, because I think to encourage others to believe fervently in things that lack evidence, is not only irresponsible, but also a form of intellectual abuse.

    Also, you seem to think that religion is an easy path of the lazy.

    Deacon Blue, you take my sentences out of context. If you are to critique my posts, than do so by my words and not by sentences others have uttered in different context.

    I said religion was the easiest path to take for people who grew up in it, going on the premise that it is easier to live one’s life based on what one knows, what has worked in the past, and what is seen as already good enough anyway, than to risk venturing into foreign territory. Saying that humans are lazy, is not the same as saying that religion is the path of the lazy. What I was saying was, that lazy people who happen to be religious, will stick with it because it is what they know, and not because they really believe. It is a major reason as to why religion is so widespread, and not because it is the true way. As such, and from a practical perspective, the fact that Atheism is so convincing . . . will mean little to them.

  18. March 31, 2008 at 5:29 am

    Satoruvah,

    Mutual misunderstandings all around. I would never classify you as one of “Satan’s warriors” because it’s awfully difficult to be a warrior for someone (a) whom you don’t believe in and (b) who is a behind the scenes manipulator.

    I see Satan as the ultimate spiritual terrorist. He rarely needs to have warriors when he (metaphorically) can sneak the exlosives into the bag of an unsuspecting person.

    Also, I re-read your previous post and I have to say that I still don’t see the context whereby your “religion is the easy path of the lazy” is, when taken in context, actually meant to be: religion was the easiest path to take for people who grew up in it.

    Either I am very tired and missing something obvious, or you think your context was clearer than it actually was.

    That being said, I don’t have any particular quibbles with the logic or reasoning behind any of the rest of your latest comment. Good points from the atheist perspective for the most part and nice food for thought.

  19. March 31, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    Mutual misunderstandings all around. I would never classify you as one of “Satan’s warriors” because it’s awfully difficult to be a warrior for someone (a) whom you don’t believe in and (b) who is a behind the scenes manipulator.

    I would never classify myself as ‘Satan’s warrior’ because I do not believe Satan is real. But, that I do not classify myself as such does not mean that others reciprocate. I suggested this is how you would view me given the comments I have read from you. In ‘Notes from the battlefield,’ you state that you do not fight individuals. That you fight Satan. You also say that debate is not your forte, that you will get your ass kicked now and then as you did in this thread, and that Satan will get in some good blows. These are contradictions.

    Let us suppose that I am a powerful being that is at war with you. I send a sentient robot after you to fight you. I do not tell the robot what to do specifically. Since it is an individual with particular skills, it will employ its own methods. That robot delivers some ‘good blows’ and you lose that round. Whilst ultimately you are at war with me, you cannot realistically look at that robot, get beaten by it, and all the while claim you are not at war with it. It is all a matter of hierarchy. Every AI I send after you will be at war with you. Each encounter will be one of many battles in a long war until you are once and for all defeated. If I am real, and I send that AI, regardless of it being aware that I have done so or that I exist, it still inadvertently fights for me.

    As you can see, all of this is derived from the points you made. If there is any misunderstanding, it is not because my reasoning is bad given what you said. The most likely explanations are:

    1) you did not state it well
    2) your arguments to the contrary are poor
    3) you do believe you are at war with individuals, but do not know it or do not want to admit it because it would sound confrontational.

    If it happens to be number three, I can understand a reluctance to disclose such information. Most people do not respond well when you tell them you think you are at war with them. It automatically puts them on the defensive, and if the intent is to foster discussion of all types instead of fierce animosity, such an admission becomes a tactically inferior move.

    Just a note, on a personal level, if number three applies to you, it has no significant effect on me–at least from a negative perspective. Whilst I may not share your belief in the existence of a God, I consider passionate dedication in the pursuit of goals and strong effort to practice what one stands for, to be especially admirable.

    Either I am very tired and missing something obvious, or you think your context was clearer than it actually was.

    Perhaps it is a combination of both. I did not literally state that religion is the easiest path to take for those who grew up in it. The context was clear, but not literal, which is obviously consistent with the nature of context in general. It was to be inferred by the comments I made. Let us examine my original quote:

    “The only way most people can escape the cycle of religion is to discover a way to be comforted without it. This is not easy if the only way they know to obtain comfort is with religion. Most humans are inherently lazy. They will choose the easiest path.”

    To make it easier, let us take religion out of it and replace it with alcohol addiction. I only use alcohol addiction because it works in the example. So, I say that the only way people can escape the ‘cycle of alcohol addiction’ is to discover a way to be comforted without it. Discovery takes time, effort, and dedication. Even after all of that, the pursuit does not guarantee you will find a replacement method of comfort that works for you. Given the odds, most people will choose to maintain an alcohol addiction because it offers comfort in the short term. It is easy because it is what they know and are good at, and not necessarily because it offers the most rewards of all available options.

    Given this, it won’t matter if someone comes along telling them that they can live a different way. Humans are lazy and choose the easiest solution. To change anything in most people, they need to be thoroughly shaken to the point where they see no other option. This is universal. You can substitute religion with alcohol addiction and a multitude of other things benign or malignant, but human nature remains the same.

    I find human nature fascinating. My comments here have been primarily from this perspective, with religion as secondary. It is how human nature applies to religion and not the reverse. The former is the source that drives us, and so, to understand why we do anything, it must begin there.

    Actually, if you wish to understand Atheism Deacon Blue, this is the way to go about it. When you remove religion, what you have left is human nature—something we all share.

  20. March 31, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    Satoruvash…man, I was ready to call it a night, figuratively speaking, in our discussion, which is why I made very few comments and said I like most of your post. You had several good posts alreadt and I make it clear that I don’t see you as my personal enemy and then you have to go back and pick apart my wording. Haven’t I already made the spirit of my comments clear?

    And my post “Notes from the Battlefield” should make it clear I welcome the presence of people who will question and challenge me, but now I feel like you’re picking at me just because. I work hard, I don’t particularly WANT to be doing a blog…but it is something I have felt called to do…I have precious few hours in the day to spread between my family, my blog and trying to get some playtime in on my poor computer games that have languished for complete lack of my attention. As far as I know, I’m a good writer because the people who pay me good money to write for them…and I have several clients…tell me I am. And my wife and son do too. Taken as a whole, I have to assume comments about my skills are relatively objective since most come from people who could simply hire someone else. But I don’t have the time necessary to make my posts here as polished as the work I do for hire.

    Let me make this clear: People are not my enemies unless they are purposely out to do me wrong. Comments about getting my ass kicked here are largely meant to be humorous. If they weren’t, I’d hardly be welcoming people of such differing belief systems to post here and I’d hardly make a point of complimenting all of you on your skills and points.

    Why can I not simply say you misunderstood my words and leave it at that? Must I print an updated post and mark my edits in red to satisfy you?

    Since you are so willing to tell me that I am saying that people who disagree with me or challenge me are warriors of Satan…and give me your own example of why you assume my train of thought HAS to lead there (or likely leads there…or that I simply have inferior ability to communciate mysefl), let me give you my own example.

    If Mr. Jones has it in for me and tells the police that I am molesting my child, my battle is not with the police. The police are not my enemy. They have been used and directed to harm me, but they are not my enemy. Mr. Jones and any henchmen he actively employs of questionable character would be my enemies. I don’t even necessarily place you in the role of the police, because I don’t (or didn’t before now) even harbor the slightest feeling that you were “out to get me.”

    Satan has helped mold the world into a place where it is fine to marginalize the religious. It is becoming increasingly comfortable and easy to do so. That creates an environment where we look increasingly wacko. So, when people of fine character such as yourself (though your character is getting slightly tarnished the more attention you seem to give toward picking apart my posts) make good points based on belief systems they hold dear, that ISN’T an attack. But given the culture that has been created that is so secular and sooooo worldly, such posts can and do wound my efforts. It’s indirect. Also, anyone who loses points in any debate is gonna feel wounded.

    I am a man who praises Jesus and has the word SHIT in the title of my blog. Accept the fact that I am a bit off the cuff, I have a sense of humor, even if it doesn’t always come through to all people who read my stuff, and move on.

    You have made more than enough points, Satoruvash. I would like to be working on a new post but instead I am here, responding to comments from you that I certainly don’t see any need for.

    I have given you credit for intelligence, insight and a firm grasp of logic. I would probably do for shit in the logic section of the LSAT; you would probably ace it.

    But just let it go, man. Stop trying to read so much into my words. I could probably read more into your words if I really wanted to and go on a rave against your comments, but I’ve kept it as simple, short and civil as I can.

    At this point, I feel like you are trying to make me look like a fool. Or you are trying to suggest that I am disingenuous.

    Let. It. Go.

  21. April 1, 2008 at 6:09 am

    But just let it go, man. Stop trying to read so much into my words. I could probably read more into your words if I really wanted to and go on a rave against your comments, but I’ve kept it as simple, short and civil as I can.

    You say that you welcome people who would question and challenge you. That is precisely what I have been doing. I got the impression that you were interested in discussions with individuals of differing perspectives from yours. You suggest my character is beginning to get tarnished by my actions. Given my intentions, the irony does not escape me.

    Perhaps this is a major difference in our characters combined with the fact that you seem to have limited experience in debating, but I do not feel wounded if I lose points in a debate. It can be . . . exhilarating, as it forces me to sharpen my intellect even more.

    You talk about my picking apart your points as if it were a bad thing. Good debate necessitates it. It would be an injustice to the spirit of debating if I saw holes and ignored them. In a debate–at least those I have debated who approached the experience in a similar way–the more someone counters your arguments, the more of a compliment it is. Unfortunately, I see this particular and crucial detail has been thoroughly missed. You mistake aggressive debate for personal attacks. You have no doubt observed that I like to be as direct as possible. If the point were to offend you and not to really debate or a combination of both, why suddenly alter my approach? If I thought you a fool, I would not mask it in a long post. I would say, ‘Deacon Blue, you are a bloody fool!’ and be done with it.

    Debate is about mutual exchange. I would not partake in rigorously attacking your arguments and expect you not to do the same in return. If you did not, if all you said was “good one!” then there would be no point in stating anything. I would gain nothing from it but an ego boost. There are plenty of ways to get ego boosts that do not involve going to the trouble of typing up a detailed counter argument.

    Anyway, it seems that I was mistaken. You are not interested in debate. What you prefer is someone making a point here, followed by an exchange of “good one!” and then moving on. That is not debate. That is a commentary.

    You take things more personally than I do, Deacon Blue, and that has led to your erroneous perception of grievance. Given the disparity between our reactions, it will no doubt happen again in the future if I stay, and I really dislike unnecessary drama. Therefore, I will take my leave.

  22. 22 Deacon Blue
    April 1, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    Satoruvash (or anyone else if he’s not around anymore), my quibble is this:

    At a certain point, I feel like there is no more to discuss. I didn’t have any particular arguments against any of your logic in previous posts. But I begin to feel like you have moved beyond challenging me mentally and moved into the territory of nit-picking. I didn’t have anything more to discuss on your points, and yet you still returned to find new things to bring up AND to continue to say, “boy, your logic sure is flawed” and then go on to assign a potential motives to my actions as well…and not flattering motives, I must say: you suggest that I either have no logic and am making excuses for not being more rigorous or that I consider atheist visitors here to be enemies either subconsciously or that I consider them to be enemies and disingenously say otherwise.

    THAT ceases to be a simple intellectual exercise and starts to feel like you just want to debate or argue with me for the sheer sake of it.

    I think I have mentioned multiple times around here that I see this blog more as a dinner-table conversation. A shit-shooting session. Deep discussions can take place in such settings, but at the same time, this blog is NOT meant to be something so intellectually rigorous as you seem to want it to be.

    I can accept having my views and even my logic challenged. But you seem fixated on pointing out logical flaws. The post you brought into this discussion that commented on how I am in a spiritual war was my musings on the overall work I am doing and the challenges I will face in doing it. But you had to drag it in here and make it out like I was slyly suggesting that atheists are my enemies. That post wasn’t making a point about anyone or anything but the challenges I face as this blog moves into a new territory of ever-more-diverse kinds of people coming here…atheist of course being probably the most opposed to my views for obvious reasons. We differ in belief about the importance of faith or the existence of a God.

    It seems to be that you are trying to suggest, by hitting your points so hard and so often and with SUCH an attention to a very rigorous academic structure that you SEEM to want to force me into making my blog something that it isn’t. Discussion, yes. Disagreement, sure. But at some point, I want to move on to other subjects, and you don’t seem to want to respect that fact that pretty much everything that NEEDED to be said here already HAS been said. I’ve admitted to the fact my logic was strained in this post and I don’t need that point belabored by bringing other posts into this and you trying to tie them together to continue a discusssion that to my mind, is over…because you’re the only person who seems to want to continue it.

    If I may make an analogy, if this site is my dinner-table discussion with folks, you have started to veer into the realm of the guest who in an effort to show just how smart he or she is just forgets when to be quiet and let people talk about something different. That may not be your intention, but it sure seems like it at this point.

    Frankly, there are many blogs that talk about serious shit and the author either doesn’t respond to comments or makes only tiny snapshot comments here and there. I try to respond to every one of my commenters out of respect, but when a commenter like you wants to engage in an overblown discussion about a topic that I thought was dead and settled, it strains my time and my resources because them I have to have equally long postings to respond to everything you are saying AND to defend my own intentions and position.

    The time I have spent responding to you is time I have NOT spent writing my next post. According to my own internal schedule, I am behind. In fact, I have now missed a day of posting. In that sense, Satan is using you quite nicely, because I have been moved, either through defensiveness or pride…or both…into engaging you even though it is clear that discussion with you has become a circular argument and a dance with no end in sight.

    That dance may very well have ended now, but given that I have responded at such length and sabotaged my own plans because I’m too pigheaded to shut up, you may very well respond to this. Or you may not. In any case, I feel this topic is pretty much cooked…and I can’t imagine how much else can be milked out of it.

    My end feeling: Satoruvash, you are welcome here and I DO welcome being challenged, because it does stimulate things. But at a certain point, I just want to move on. If you continue to post here, please read the cues. When I am winding down and saying, “good points, I have no issues to bring up”…that does NOT mean I am inviting you to come up with new points to argue…particularly when several other people have chimed in already.

    *sigh* Now I probably look like someone who doesn’t want to hear any other opinions. And maybe I have overreacted. But I’m tired of hashing out a dead topic.

  23. 23 Deacon Blue
    April 2, 2008 at 2:11 am

    OK, as we can see in the pingback links at the bottom of this commentary, I’ve provided fodder for Satoruvah’s blog. Glad I could be useful for something in this blog post and commentary that went way off track where I intended. I encourage you to go visit his site and see his final(?) word on what an ass I am.

    Now, I’ve had precious little sleep and a lot of pressure these past few days, so maybe I WAS a jerk and maybe I’m being an ass. If so, please someone let me know. Someone other than Satoruvash, though, since it’s clear he and I are mixing about as well as water and magnesium right about now…

  24. 24 Deacon Blue
    April 2, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    Wow, now I’ve posted three comments in a row…I’m responding to myself. I wonder if that’s a sign of mental illness? 😉

    Ok, I’ve done some re-reading of the comments above and some introspection, because I really did want to figure out what went so wrong, and why, in my conversations with Satoruvash, particuarly considering I had interacted with other thoughtful folks as well and been able to concede various points and bring up some points of my own without bloodshed.

    I finally figured it out, I think, and well, I still think it was mostly Satoruvah’s fault, but I don’t think he was out to attack me. I think he simply made a tactical flaw in a similar vein as my own flawed logic and preconceptions on the original blog post here. His misstep caught me at a time when my temper was a bit frayed, and I added more vitriol than was necessary to the whole situation.

    So, what DID happen?

    Comment #17.

    Up until that point, things were civil, or so it seems to me. What happened in comment #17 though was that Satoruvash brought my post “Notes from the Battlefield” into this commentary. He saw a connection, both because of my mention of atheists and agnostics and because I made mention of the fact I would sometimes “get my ass kicked” in debates around here, and that such was to be expected given that I don’t hold a lock on all knowledge obviously.

    To me, that post was a separate beast…something obviously informed by and partially prompted by this post on “Blinded Me With Science”…but it was meant to be something entirely different. It was meant to be an observation of new directions and new challenges I was expected as this blog moved forward.

    Unfortunately, Satoruvash, in linking these two posts directly in his own debate with me here, suggested that I either saw atheists as my enemies and wasn’t willing or able to admit that…or that I was just really confused. He started attacking what he saw as logical holes in that other post. Now, I countered him and pointed out HIS logical holes, as it wasn’t appropriate to assign specific intentions to that post and to project onto me what he saw as my underlying motivations and feeling.

    More than that, though, what I perceived was that he was going to look for anything that even smelled like a logical flaw in other posts and drag that here to buoy his arguments on this thread. That seemed to me like it was a mean-tempered and petty move (even if it wasn’t) and it suggested to me that Satoruvash was going to keep finding things elsewhere in this blog just to continue a discussion here that I felt was concluded.

    As such, I reacted badly, and defensively, and perhaps a bit snottily in the end. Sadly, in reacting the way I did, I also provided more ammunition for Satoruvash to continue critiquing my thoughts and views and basically this whole commentary moved away from where it was supposed to be.

    Instead of commentary about the original post, it quickly became an argument over informal discussion vs. rigid academic discourse. Over logic vs. spirit. And both of us were blaming the other of being petty or defensive in some way, shape or form.

    Satoruvash is clearly very passionate about debate. In my mind, too passionate, but that’s just a matter of personal preference. I don’t like to argue or debate for extended periods. I don’t feel a need to subject my every word to a microscopic examination of its logic, how it might be perceived by others, etc. Satoruvash is a logic machine…I am a faith machine. I am capable of using logic and he is capable of using faith, but they are not our strengths.

    Satoruvash reminds me of a relative in our extended family who is an English professor. He’s smart, witty and generaly likable. But he has an annoying habit of being a bit condescending to those who don’t quite measure up to his perception of what is an acceptable level of intellect, and he corrects people about their use of spoken English all the time. In other words, he can be nice to talk to and good to learn from, but he can also kill the joy in some conversations by turning it into something much more intense than it needs to be.

    Did Satoruvash do that here? I’m not sure. And I don’t claim to know his full motivations and personality. But that’s how I took it. And I do know how I reacted, which may have been justifiable in some respects and reprehensible in others. I’ll let you readers judge that. I tend to be kind of partial toward myself, so I’m hardly a fair judge.

    EDIT: You know, it isn’t quite right to say Satoruvash was more “at fault” in causing the downfall of things. Poor wording on my part, and let me correct that now before someone else corrects me. What I meant was that the beginning of the downward spin started with him, which is entirely different than assigning fault per se. And if I wasn’t clear above, his one major logical gaff to which I refer and which annoyed me so much was the set of three bullet points that said I must have meant atheists were my enemies and if I didn’t, I either (1) didn’t state my original point well, (2) my arguments to the contrary were poor, or (3) I actually do see atheists as my enemies and am saying otherwise to not be confrontational. Point #1 is a possibility, though I disagree with it. I disagree with point #2 strenuously since I think I argued quite well for my original point, and Point #3 is insulting because it strongly suggested I was lying. So, two out of the three possibilities really rubbed me the wrong way AND I think his logic for coming to only those three conclusions was extremely flawed. It’s the only glaring logical gaff I saw him commit, but it was the wrong gaff at the wrong time for me. Again, just wanted to clarify, since I’ve already been called to the carpet before for poor explanations and arguments in this whole affair.


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Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley

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