We all are bent towards God in some way.


Well it's been some time since I was regularly writing on my blog. I guess I have been tied up with life. New baby, summer, work, and church plant seem to have me very busy these days. Anyway, at 6:00am this morning, I woke up to feed my new son Jacob only to get yacked on. Not a bad way to start the morning. So since I was up, I decided to get downstairs and get into the word. I have been studying Acts 17 where Paul visits Athens. It’s a great text. Anyway, I was intrigued by this question that kept popping into my head.

Why are we all bent towards spiritual things and worship?

It is hard to argue that that isn't the case. All throughout history, every culture, nationality, tribe, people group, and generation has had a bent towards spiritual things. From the ancient philosophers in Greece, to the earliest days of the Bible, all the way to today; spirituality and worship has been a vibrant part of life. Now, it has not always been a bent towards Christ and the God of the bible, but always something that is infinitely greater and more powerful than in which can bring us purpose and meaning. It typically has been a God that is personal in which we can either know "it" or "it" knows us. This is a weird concept that is imbedded in our DNA that I cannot understand or explain away. Even the atheist or agnostic cannot move away from having at the least, an opinion of God. To have an opinion of God, at the least, means that the clashing atoms of ones brain acknowledges the need to make a thoughtful decision of whether God does or does not exist; hence a bent toward the spiritual. I am also troubled with this thought; if my brain thinks it or craves it; is that proof that it exists? For example; because my body is hungry; that is proof of food. And my sexual desire is proof of sexual gratification through sexual intimacy. Is the same true that my desire for the spiritual mean that the spiritual exists? Where else do I crave or feel a need to make an opinion on something that does not exist? Is that even possible?

Like the Athenians, I am very religious and bent towards worship. By worship I mean, make things ultimate in my life in order to bring purpose. At times that ultimate thing has been different. My list consists or basketball, sex, my image, family, knowledge, and Christ. My goal is to still pursue all of those things, but keep Christ as ultimate. The other things on my list although good and satisfying; have made crappy Gods.

74 comments:

Brian Hebert said...

I am not naturally bent toward faith in god at all. I was certainly raised in a home that initially handicapped me with these feelings, but that is hardly the natural yearning you are talking about. Spirituality of all forms persist in the brain and are transmitted from one person to the next via language and other forms of communication. These concepts are called memes, and they act just like genes in that they evolve over time and compete within the brain with other memes for dominance. Parents tend to pass their memes to their children (root for the Red Sox, vote Republican, attend a Baptist church, marry young, etc.) and children end up being a mixture of their cultural and family memes.

Children are not born Christians, Jews, or Muslims nor are they born 'yearning for Jesus' or with 'original sin' (which is a shameful concept). Children are born with an instinctual ability to 'imprint' onto their parents, making them far more likely to believe whatever it is they are told. This has obvious survival benefits (you have to accept that running into the bear cave will kill you, because you can't experiment to find out yourself), but also burdens us with all of our parents biases and misconceptions. Racist parents will tend to pass that racism to their kids, creating a cycle of racism that persists down the ages. It works the same way with Spirituality. Spirituality may of had it uses in 5000BCE when we couldn't explain why the rain fell, let alone why we got sick, but we don't need that crutch anymore. Spirituality is such a powerful meme though, so Christian parents still tend to create future Christians in the same way that Muslim parents still tend to create future Muslims. It has nothing to do with being 'bent' toward god and everything to do with the continued transmission of bad information from one generation to the next.

In the light of this, of course Atheists and Agnostics have to think about god. In my case, I had to tear down a lot of the lies that I was told as a child before I could see what was real. If these lies were never implanted in me, I would never have been forced to reason my way out of them. If a Christian points at those struggles as evidence that 'god is still working in me', they are ignoring the fact that it was the false hope of faith that created the cognitive dissonance in the first place.

If we could convince everyone on the planet to keep kids away from religion until they are adults that can make up their own minds, the vast majority would never give faith a second thought. They would never be told that they can rely on an imaginary friend to solve their problems, and they would naturally turn to each other or themselves to solve life's problems. (as a bonus, you would immediately remove the justification for the majority of war and suffering on this planet) We aren't programmed to believe in false realities, but we have learned how to lodge a concept so far into people's heads that is becomes a whole process to remove it.

Matt Chewning said...

If I'm not mistaken the concept of memes was originated by the respectable atheist Richard Dawkins in the late 70's. Although very convincing concept, it tends to confuse me on this level. If our beliefs are passed from each other through these memes, how can we be confident at all about what we believe? You and I have very similar yet different stories. You had to tear down a belief system in God that was passed onto you by your parents in order for you to overcome, what you call "lies" and not believe. I, on the other hand, had to tear down a belief system about God that was passed down from my parents in order to believe. So, you and I seem to be unique in that we believe opposite to what we were brought up believing.

Dawkins also says that Memes is tied to his belief in natural selection which confuses me even more. How can any of us believe anything if our beliefs were just passed down to us as a means of survival? Do I believe in God because it has been passed on to me so that I will continue to strive and survive? If so, then Dawkins would have to say the same about himself. You chose to not believe because it is a means of survival which isn't really your own belief anyway, but instead genetically passed down to you. It seems like a revolving circle.

Instead, when I look at the natural consistency and order of the world (gravitational pull, distance of stars from one another, amount of carbon dioxide on earth, distance of sun, earths rotation rate and axis, etc) it seems like a much more stable leap of faith to believe in a creator.

Drew said...

I wouldn't be so hasty to attribute the illusion of order (or, to use the popular parlance of the IDers, "design") to purpose. You assume that your heart has a purpose because it pumps blood, and you assume that it was designed to do so. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your heart pumps blood because of an advantageous mutation in a long-extinct mammalian ancestor. You could argue about that with me, but it's sheer lunacy to do so. Let's argue about The Theory of Gravity or The Theory of Electromagnetism or The Germ Theory of Disease while we're at it. They all share equally shaky and dubious footing with the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection (snigger). While the origin of this "beneficial" (in the context of evolution by natural selection, words like beneficial are so much nonsense, as they imply purpose or a decided outcome) mutation was anything but purposeful, it was kept around because it served a purpose not heretofore invented. Think in marketing terms. You give someone a headache, and then you offer them some aspirin.

Anyway, things like pinky toes, tail bones, appendixes, and several dozen genetic diseases that are 100% fatal to human infants do not bode well for the idea of a creator.

That's not to say that there couldn't be one, but we would be foolish to try to reach a positive conclusion about his existence through logic, as all the evidence points towards his non-existence.

Drew said...

Er sorry shouldn't have said "mammalian ancestor" just "ancestor".

Drew said...

"If our beliefs are passed from each other through these memes, how can we be confident at all about what we believe?"

Oh, I think that's the entire point.

But it depends on how we use the word "belief". Humans are pretty good at filtering useful propositions and statements of truth from non-useful, but this entire process is co-opted by the juvenile human mind. We are programmed to believe whatever we're told when we are children.

Most humans grow up and stop believing in Santa Claus, but for some reason the same does not seem to happen with religion. I'm being facetious; The real reason of course is tribalism. Most of our social interaction is based around necessity in early human existence, and it was highly beneficial to establish a common accepted "story" and set of beliefs to go along with it.

And I'm out of time.

More later.

Drew said...

Let's take the story of the Hebrew people as an example of religion and tribalism.

Until the Pentateuch (first five books of the OT) was assembled, Yahweh was actually one of the more minor gods on the Hebrew pantheon. This puts stories like the Ten Commandments and the whole Golden Calf thing into proper context. It wasn't so much that the Hebrew people had other gods, because they always had, it was that Yahweh wanted to be first (notice he never proscribes the worship of other gods, he merely says you can't worship any other gods more vigorously or fervently than you worship him). This compilation of a common story gave that culture what it needed to remain cohesive and insolluble, despite the fact that Israel was little more than a group of desert nomads. It was very important to have tales of conquest in your nation's history at this time, though we don't have any archeological evidence for the conquests documented in the Bible. That's probably a good thing, as Yahweh was one to order quite a bit of barbarism what with the infant bashing and putting pregnant women to the sword, et al.

If I get time, tomorrow I will compare some similarities in the Greek story of Prometheus (written first) with the Hebrew story of Adam and Eve (written later).

Brian Hebert said...

Drew seems to have the purpose / design argument, so I won't bother commenting on it.

Dawkins also says that Memes is tied to his belief in natural selection which confuses me even more.

When Dawkins talks about memes and natural selection, he isn't saying that they are tied together, merely that they operate in the same manner. Our brains are like high-speed evolution machines, but instead of transmitting genes down the generations, we mutate memes. Memes that tend to get selected (for any reason, survival is just one of them) tend to get more mind-share. Memes with more mind-share tend to get passed from one person to the next. Some people are really susceptible to new memes, and they tend to bounce from one fad to the next. Some get fixated on a few memes, and they tend to be stuck in their ways. You can believe in biological evolution without accepting the concept of memes, but recent cognitive studies have confirmed much of what Dawkins was suggesting. Memes that are ancient, like religion, have been refined down through the ages until they are very well adapted to reside in human minds. Whatever people seek from life, religious memes have adapted to fit that need. As much as the church wants to say they are separate from their culture, the evolution of religion through the ages is very obvious. As society progressed, out-dated concepts like human or animal sacrifice were gradually phased out for more sophisticated concepts like transubstantiation and 'personal gods'. If religion was perfectly suited for all societies of all times (like it is claimed for the Bible), it would never have needed to change, ever.

Continued below...

Brian Hebert said...

"If our beliefs are passed from each other through these memes, how can we be confident at all about what we believe?"

That's the important point right there, we can't be certain of anything on our own. As individuals, we are too small to make any sense of the world. The power of science only rests in its ability to transcend the individual. My looking through a telescope at the stars can only show me so many things. It isn't until I take my data and compare it to the compendium of all known data that we can collectively begin to sort the truth out. Some of what I think, feel, and see is wrong and some of it is correct. I can't judge the accuracy of a particular personal hypothesis until I subject my views to the harsh crucible of collective logic and wisdom. Religious belief, by insisting on non-evidence based belief (faith), tends to eventually step away from this kind of thorough testing. Most believers I have spoken to have definite points of resistance when it comes to honest questioning. Their religion has taught them that asking too many questions opens the door for the big bad devil, and that they should leave well enough alone. This places religion in the embarrassing situation of sometimes standing against science and progress with an appeal to dogma. The Bible told your forbearers that the earth was the center of the universe, that the earth was created in six days, that slavery was acceptable, that genocide was alright as long as the people weren't Jews, that witches need to be burned, that apostates need to be stoned, and that universe is actually a fixed plane above us (with holes punched for stars, presumably). These are all silly notions that the church has had to - quite embarrassingly - discard over the ages simply because the religious do not feel the need to fully subject the assumptions of their faith to real scrutiny, at least until it is painfully obvious that change is needed. The fundamentalist fight against something as established as evolution is just another example of the modern-day church attacking something based off of assumption and dogma. Unlike the claims of an afterlife, we can clearly prove that the church is wrong here. What is astounding though, is the tenacity at which, even after being shown the conclusive evidence gathered, people still hold tight to their false beliefs. The view that god exists seems just as astounding to me, requiring a stubborn resistance to a whole block of contradictory (but inconclusive) evidence and the irrational choosing of one arbitrary (and poorly supported) option among many.

Take Drew's example of Exodus, for instance. Most scholars have, based off of the astonishing lack of evidence, concluded that the Exodus story of Jews fleeing bondage in Egypt is entirely fictional. Not only is there no evidence of campsites or of the god ordained genocides (thank goodness), there is no evidence in Egyptian history that the Jews ever lived there or anywhere else in the surrounding area. We have plenty of evidence of far smaller tribes in similar areas from much further back in time, yet not a single piece of archeological or historical data supports the grand stories in Exodus. Now a normal person acting rationally would conclude that, at the very least, we should all stop speaking about Exodus as if it really happened. Why then, can I bet that 95% of all Christians assume it to be a factual depiction of historical events? It certainly isn't because the Church encourages critical thinking and thoughtful analysis of even the most sacred beliefs. If anything, it promotes superficial pseudo-logic to explain away complex problems with cute and simple answers.

Whatever the Truth might be, faith is almost certainly not the way to attain it.

Drew said...

To be fair, we can put a lot of the inconsistencies down to the fact that the KJV is one of the least accurate translations of the Bible, and it is the one off of which most others that are commonly available are based.

I think (though I'm not sure) that the Codex Vaticanus is actually considered a bit more reliable, but it does not have as many references to Jesus' divinity, and no mention of the resurrection is made in the gospel of Mark.

Edgar said...

"They would never be told that they can rely on an imaginary friend to solve their problems, and they would naturally turn to each other or themselves to solve life's problems. (as a bonus, you would immediately remove the justification for the majority of war and suffering on this planet)"

The Napoleonic Wars, WW1 and WW2...were they all religious wars? Nope! They were wars of vanity. At least the napoleonic and ww2 wars. WW1 was more complex. Both sides felt they had to act preemptively but none the less it was a war of greed in that one side wanted the others land.

The American Civil War was not a religious war and neither was the russian revolution where about 20 million died.

The Cold War was not a religious war either yet it brought the world to the brink of nuclear holocaust. The Korean and Vietnam wars, to name a few, were proxies by which the cold war was fought.

If you take the cold war, ww1, ww2 and the napoleonic wars you can count more dead people than all of the other wars in recorded history.

In fact it was the atheists who caused most of the wars in the 20th century. Hitler(more of an occultist than an atheist I guess,) Stalin, Mao...all these folks were atheists.

Now, one could try to argue that it was not atheism that brought about these actions (war) but rather out of control political dogma and nationalism as both Dawkins and Harris have said.

So according to Dawkins and Harris when an Atheist commits atrocities it has NOTHING to do with his beliefs or actions. But when a religious leader commits atrocities it is because of his beliefs.

That sounds like a contradiction to me. If we accept that our beliefs can influence our actions then it doesn't make sense to say that only religious beliefs influence our actions.

I don't think atheism was the cause of the wars I mentioned. Rather it was the thought systems created by these atheists that led to utterly dogmatic systems that act as a pseudo religion which caused the wars.

So what I'm saying is that religion or atheism are neither specifically guilty of causing war in the world. Religion is not always good and not always bad.

Read and study history and you'll come to understand that humans have a tendency to construct utterly dogmatic systems of thought and that is the cause of war.

But I guess your professors never taught you that did they?

I've not read one original thought by either drew or brian yet! Ever! Although you fellas are very bright and I admire your enthusiasm, your arrogance makes me sick frankly.

*side note*

One cannot be taught to be a philosopher. You cannot read enough books or memorize enough of the jargon to ever become a true philosopher. One must philosophize in order to become a philosopher. Regurgitating and memorizing the so-called philosophies of others is NOT philosophy. You need to blaze your own trail.

If you consume yourself with too much reading then you'll never truly philosophize.

So quit reading Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris and start philosophizing.

Edgar said...

1. "You assume that your heart has a purpose because it pumps blood, and you assume that it was designed to do so. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your heart pumps blood because of an advantageous mutation in a long-extinct mammalian ancestor."

Drew,

are you ABSOLUTELY sure that what you say is the TRUTH?


2. "Most of our social interaction is based around necessity in early human existence"

Show me the evidence.


3."Children are not born Christians, Jews, or Muslims nor are they born 'yearning for Jesus' or with 'original sin' (which is a shameful concept)."

That's an absolute claim. Read matts post about Absolute Truth.

4. "It (religion) has nothing to do with being 'bent' toward god and everything to do with the continued transmission of bad information from one generation to the next."

More absolute claims (words like nothing and everything are absolute) from the same people who don't believe 2+2=4! LMAO!!!

5. "I had to tear down a lot of the lies that I was told as a child before I could see what was real. If these lies were never implanted in me, I would never have been forced to reason my way out of them."

Are you ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE that you were told "lies?" A lie is the opposite of the truth. Did you find the truth? Are you absolutely sure it's the truth?

If not then you should hold your judgment and humble yourself a bit.

6. Drew arrogantly says about his mammalian nonsense, "You could argue about that with me, but it's sheer lunacy to do so." Then he goes on to correct himself, "Er sorry shouldn't have said "mammalian ancestor" just "ancestor"."

You are right drew, SHEER LUNACY.

7. "But it depends on how we use the word "belief"."

Bill Clinton, "That all depends on what YOUR definition of the word IS is"

8. "Most scholars have, based off of the astonishing lack of evidence, concluded that the Exodus story of Jews fleeing bondage in Egypt is entirely fictional."

So scholars "conclude" things based not on evidence but a lack of evidence? Very powerful argument there...very powerful indeed.

Let's not forget that just 150 years ago all the so called great scholars, scientists and philosophers were going to the barber shop for a good 'blood letting' to cure the flu.

In the 1970's the universe was expanding but now its shrinking. In the early 1980's I was taught, IN SCHOOL that the earth was going into a mini ice age, now it is a global warming catastrophe.

Eggs were bad for you in the early 90's now they are good for you.

Freud thought that all human thought and actions were the result of sexual repression. I think he may have been right. With all the emotional, unsubstantiated egregious claims made by drew and brian I can't help but feel that they are both very unhappy homosexuals.

They just hate God because they feel a desire toward other men. Am I wrong guys?

Drew said...

Hitler was a Christian, and he quoted Martin Luther's "On the Jews and Their Lies" in Mein Kampf.

Stalin and Mao were atheists, but atheism is not a philosophy or a set of tenets, just the lack of belief in a god. Their atheism has as much to do with their political philosophy as the fact that I'm wearing white socks has to do with mine.

Drew said...

"Drew,

are you ABSOLUTELY sure that what you say is the TRUTH?"

Never. That would be quite arrogant of me. But what has that to do with anything?

"Show me the evidence."

http://qcpages.qc.edu/ANTHRO/collins/anth101.html

"You are right drew, SHEER LUNACY."

I didn't need you or anyone else to tell me that.

'Bill Clinton, "That all depends on what YOUR definition of the word IS is"'

What kind of nonsense is that? It has nothing to do with anything I said. Certain words are nuanced and can have multiple meanings. You probably think that one can believe volitionally, which I have never found to be true for myself as I must be convinced of something to a reasonable degree to believe it.

'So scholars "conclude" things based not on evidence but a lack of evidence? Very powerful argument there...very powerful indeed.'

Conclude is probably not the right word. You could just say "ignore" since if there isn't physical evidence, there's nothing to study.

"Let's not forget that just 150 years ago all the so called great scholars, scientists and philosophers were going to the barber shop for a good 'blood letting' to cure the flu.

In the 1970's the universe was expanding but now its shrinking. In the early 1980's I was taught, IN SCHOOL that the earth was going into a mini ice age, now it is a global warming catastrophe.

Eggs were bad for you in the early 90's now they are good for you."

Yeah that's the great thing about science and the scientific method. It's self-correcting. It takes into account new data and adjusts accordingly. It's questions that may never be answered. Just like religion is answers that may never be questioned.

I'll ignore the rest of your puerile, sophomoric banality. As if it was any of your business.

I think you're reaching buddy. You've been out of your depth for a while.

Drew said...

"So according to Dawkins and Harris when an Atheist commits atrocities it has NOTHING to do with his beliefs or actions. But when a religious leader commits atrocities it is because of his beliefs.

That sounds like a contradiction to me. If we accept that our beliefs can influence our actions then it doesn't make sense to say that only religious beliefs influence our actions."

Atheism isn't a belief. Atheism is a belief like not collecting stamps is a hobby. Atheism is a belief like bald is a hair color. Atheism is not a positive assertion that gods don't exist. Everyone is born an atheist, having no knowledge of god or gods a priori, though to be fair this is arguable.

"I've not read one original thought by either drew or brian yet! Ever! Although you fellas are very bright and I admire your enthusiasm, your arrogance makes me sick frankly."

Who cares? I haven't called you out on being unoriginal, why bring it up? Where is this arrogance of which you speak? You sound pretty arrogant to me. You make all sorts of assumptions and read what we write to mean whatever you want it to mean so that you have a better angle to argue. You're the textbook definition of demagogical. Your pretense at knowing the first thing about philosophy is the most arrogant thing of all, and then you go on below about how you're the only True Scotsman in the room.

I am just not sure if there's any hope for you. You do not seem like a reasonable person. Not one bit.

"One cannot be taught to be a philosopher. You cannot read enough books or memorize enough of the jargon to ever become a true philosopher. One must philosophize in order to become a philosopher. Regurgitating and memorizing the so-called philosophies of others is NOT philosophy. You need to blaze your own trail.

If you consume yourself with too much reading then you'll never truly philosophize.

So quit reading Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris and start philosophizing."

True, to be published and to be more than an "armchair" philosopher, you need to have original thoughts. To get there, you have to have read lots and lots of books. No man is an island (so sayeth Proverbs and of course our friends Mr. Simon and Mr. Garfunkel).

As Ecclesiastes says "there is nothing new under the sun". Are you claiming that your thoughts are original?

Brian Hebert said...

I've not read one original thought by either drew or brian yet! Ever!

I am not a philosopher, nor am I trying to publish my thoughts as original (yours aren't either). They are my own thoughts though and that is enough for me. I haven’t seen you attack me on my logic yet, so it is tough for me to see where my argument is weak (protip: spouting personal attacks doesn’t help)

Edgar, I'm not taking the bait. Stay on topic and answer the questions that have been raised and I will engage you in debate. Throwing fits about one of my side comments (which of course was hyperbole) and attacking me personally aren’t impressive displays of reason.

Anonymous said...

Edgar has some great points, but I agree with Brian that personal attacks are not needed in these debates. Keep talking through the questions Matt raises and try not to make personal attacks. I enjoy reading all the comments between everyone.

Anonymous said...

"They just hate God because they feel a desire toward other men. Am I wrong guys?"

Yes, you are incredibly wrong.

For starters, you can't hate something you don't believe exists, you don't hate unicorns now, do you?

That and having no belief in a god has nothing to do with sexuality. People don;t believe in a god for several reasons like the lack of evidence for the existence of one, the contradictions in the thousands of religions and more.
However since there are gay christians I hardly think that people don't believe there is a god because they are homosexual

Edgar said...

"Hitler was a Christian, and he quoted Martin Luther's "On the Jews and Their Lies" in Mein Kampf."

Hitler was not a christian.

"Stalin and Mao were atheists, but atheism is not a philosophy or a set of tenets, just the lack of belief in a god. Their atheism has as much to do with their political philosophy as the fact that I'm wearing white socks has to do with mine."

The atheist believes there is no god. That is one of the beliefs that an atheist has. That one belief is part of his overall belief system. If we accept that our belief systems can motivate our actions then we must also accept that atheists and theists alike can be motivated by their respective belief systems.

I want to be clear though. I'm NOT blaming war on atheism. What I am saying is that certain atheists (stalin, mao etc...) constructed systems of thought that are utterly dogmatic and function much like a 'black and white' religion. That is the cause of war.

So there is no need to defend atheism in this regard as I've not attacked it at all. I'm merely saying we must be consistent in our judgments.

There are religious people in the world today who feel that 'non believers' (pick your religion) are better off killed than alive. For if they are killed they may have at least a chance of salvation in the after life. So for the greater good of all mankind these zealots will kill in the name of god for our own good. These people have an utterly dogmatic system of thought.

But likewise there are non religious people in the world today who also have the greater good of mankind in mind when they go to war and or kill in the name of communism. They believe that for the common good everyone should be forced to convert to communism.

What I'm hoping that you realize is that the rhetoric coming from some atheists (i.e. "you would immediately remove the justification for the majority of war and suffering on this planet" -eradicating religion)merely escalates the tensions between belief systems.

If the rhetoric keeps escalating then sooner or later someone may kill some religious people for the greater good.

It strikes me that blaming religion as the cause of the majority of wars merely polarizes ones own belief system, making it harder to embrace true objectivity and thus hinders the search for real truth.

Statements such as that (war is caused by religion) shows that the speaker has succumbed to the temptation of seeing things in a black and white way, a dogmatic way, in order to feel more secure in his own belief system.

The irony is that atheists often criticize the religious for being dogmatic when they themselves are just as dogmatic at times.

Such is the nature of the human ego but it is the ego itself which blinds us from reality.


I will continue...

Edgar said...

I am not personally attacking anyone. I am merely responding to the words written and the tone used.

"Where is this arrogance of which you speak?"

Presenting your beliefs as undeniable truths is an arrogant thing to do.

1. "Spirituality may of had it uses in 5000BCE when we couldn't explain why the rain fell, let alone why we got sick, but we don't need that crutch anymore."

Spirituality is very different from religion first of all and to use the two words interchangeably shows a certain lacking in the ability to fully grasp the two concepts. Carelessly using a word like spirituality in this regard indicates an unwillingness to honestly consider the possibility of a mystical or spiritual experience.

2. "They would never be told that they can rely on an imaginary friend to solve their problems"

This is the kind of condescending tone that smacks of arrogance. I don't know Matt but it is very clear to me that he is an intelligent (as are brian and drew) man. A man with a family who is proud of their father and his noble (imo) ambition of planting a church to serve god and selflessly help others.

Yet you reduce him to being just a silly person who believes in an imaginary friend? You openly mock his core values and ask me why I expose you as being arrogant?

3. "Most humans grow up and stop believing in Santa Claus, but for some reason the same does not seem to happen with religion."

More arrogant mockery and intellectual intimidation! You equate belief in Santa with belief in God!

Does this really serve your argument? Have you no consideration of how you might make someone feel by saying such a thing? It's this utter disregard for a persons feelings that exposes your arrogance.

Shouldn't you be a bit more humble in YOUR tone given that you aren't even convinced of your own belief system?

4. "Their religion has taught them that asking too many questions opens the door for the big bad devil, and that they should leave well enough alone."

Big Bad Devil? More mockery, more arrogance. You are quite smug in your tone and act as though you are lecturing from and Adult to Child perspective, which is arrogant.

5. "I am not naturally bent toward faith in god at all. I was certainly raised in a home that initially handicapped me with these feelings,"

Handicapped huh? If you are not absolutely sure that your current belief system is entirely correct then how can you be SO SURE that you were "handicapped" by being raised in a family that was faith based? What vantage point do you enjoy that allows you to view believers as handicapped?

Must be a very lofty place! Arrogance.

*original thougts*

"Who cares? I haven't called you out on being unoriginal, why bring it up?"

For one, it highlights your hypocrisy. You are no different than the believers you criticize.

As I've clearly demonstrated brian and matt are very arrogant and obviously in love with their intellect.

Priding yourselves on tearing down "the lies" and finding the truth "yourself" (by the sheer power of your penetrating genius of a mind) and lecturing as though you are correct in your own unfounded assumptions has compelled me to expose you as a mere followers. Sheep.

Dressing up other peoples tired old arguments with big words and fancy philosophical jargon fails to impress or persuade. Dawkins is YOUR bible if you will. You have your own set of scripture.

Liberals always try to "out vocab" their opponents in an effort to make them look less educated, ill informed and blissfully ignorant (santa & god).

Edgar said...

...continued

Never use two words when one will do.

It's obvious that you want everyone to admire with breathtaking awe your towering intellectual might yet all you do is repeat what you've read as though it is the product of your own genius.

Don't you realize that if you don't blaze your own trail that you are guilty of the same things you mock believers of? You simply choose to believe the writings of others and base your own core belief system on what you've read and not on your own original journey.

Think for yourself honestly if you dare.

Brian Hebert said...

I'm not sure who you're writing to, Edgar, but you lost all credibility with me and I am not even going to read your posts anymore. It's a shame, but someone who can resort to name calling is obviously not the kind of person I want to be seriously considering.

Sorry if this messes up the flow of conversation on your board, Matt. I just can't take this clown seriously anymore and I won't invest another second of thought in debating him only to have him turn into a rabid dog again.

No thanks, it isn't my job to clear up his ignorance and if he is a Christian, he makes you all look childish.

Brian Hebert said...

Since this accusation of my arrogance was made over and over again in this thread, I figure I should respond to it. If for nothing less than it will come up again with others and I want to make my perspective clear.

Ideas, no matter how dearly we hold them, are not the same as human beings. Just because a particular idea is dear to you, doesn't mean I have to treat it with any sort of reverence (remember, this is an idea we're talking about, not a person). Religious belief seems entirely childish to me and I will not speak about it in any other way. I have great respect for the people who hold those beliefs, but do not feel compelled to respect what they believe. In the same way you can respect an atheist like Bill Gates for creating the largest philanthropic organization in the world while at the same time completely disagreeing with his views on god. This can be troublesome for those who are used to the 'kid glove' treatment that society gives to all spiritual matters, and it can produce the kind of irrational responses that we've seen from Edgar. If you're not prepared to have a bright light shone on your deepest beliefs, don't come out to debate them. If you step up and enter the conversation, don't get emotional when I fail to show reverence for something I think is entirely false. I view your faith in the same light that you might view a Mormon or Unitarian. You label these groups as cults and immediately laugh off anything they say as obviously false because it goes against what you think is true. I just happen to do the same thing with your particular faith, and that can be understandably uncomfortable.

By the way, if I am wrong, PROVE IT! My arguments are all there to dissect and unless you pull an Edgar, I seriously consider everything that is written in response. The only way we all will gain better insight into the truth is if we engage openly and honestly. Don't settle for personal attacks and a knee-jerk sense of moral superiority. You can humble me with logic and evidence, but you'll just push me away with irrational emotional responses.

Drew said...

Again you bring up the vocabulary thing.

Really sad, man. Really sad. Read a book or two.

Do you think I'm trying to be wordy?

While I lament the licentiousness with which you loathe my loquacity, yours too would be a lofty linguistic line if you'd only learn to love language. There, that's wordy and I even threw in some alliteration for you. It's also written in a syncopated meter - bonus!

I don't need a dictionary to read or write in English.
This is the part of my post where I wrote a serious reply, but then I stopped and took a second to think...

You cannot possibly equate two people who've made respectful posts about the topic at hand to yourself, who comes in and thinks "well, they must be homer-sexuls because they ain't lovin' them some jebus". What astounds me is that you think you can get away with writing something like that.

Accusing people of being gay because you don't understand or agree with them went out in...oh...I dunno...fifth grade maybe?

Forget it. I'm through with you. You're a joke.

Brian Hebert said...

I don't know Drew, that sounded pretty gay to me. You might want to get that checked out. I think they sell anti-gay booster shots on the post-rapure pet care site!

Drew said...

Yeah, sometimes it's hard to control the burning lust I feel towards other dudes.

Fortunately, my (female) wife (of several years) is very understanding.

Edgar said...

Just to be clear here it's not the fact that you trash religion that causes me to shed light on your arrogance. That's your straw man.

Matt doesn't need (or want) me to defend him as he is surely capable of doing that himself. But your tone is disrespectful especially in light of how important God is to him, which is obvious.


Secondly, I merely answered YOUR QUESTIONS about why I called you guys arrogant. You asked, I answered and proved it by quoting every arrogant thing your wrote.

Now all you have left is to accuse me of being upset that you trashed religion. I have NEVER said that I am a religious believer! I'm just a skeptic that is more objective and more seasoned than the both of you!

@@Brian,

"Since this accusation of my arrogance was made over and over again in this thread, I figure I should respond to it."

It was an answer to the question, "What arrogance?"

Feel free to dissect the quotes I singled out and tell me how they are not dripping with arrogance. Or take the easy way out and call me crazy and refuse to debate further.

"By the way, if I am wrong, PROVE IT!"

I proved you wrong when you tried to blame the vast majority of war on religion. Not only did I avoid the knee-jerk reaction of blaming atheism but instead I offered a level headed and well thought out response, which you've ignored...because I'm right.

"If you're not prepared to have a bright light shone on your deepest beliefs, don't come out to debate them."

You have shown a bright light on my deepest beliefs Brian. I'm just a more objective and more seasoned skeptic than you are. I was thinking like you in my twenties.

"Don't settle for personal attacks and a knee-jerk sense of moral superiority. You can humble me with logic and evidence, but you'll just push me away with irrational emotional responses."

I made my points first, then I objected to your arrogance. One has nothing to do with the other.

I quoted you and your arrogance was obvious. You get what you give in this world. If you want others to be tactful when conversing with you then I suggest you exercise the same tact when conversing with others.

I've had my say and I hope that the careful reader will consider my points and see that they have not been refuted.

Thanks for this thought provoking topic Matt.

Brian Hebert said...

I quoted you and your arrogance was obvious. You get what you give in this world. If you want others to be tactful when conversing with you then I suggest you exercise the same tact when conversing with others.

Matt wrote a blog post explaining why people like me are simply deluding themselves (because we are all bent toward god) and I don't get to respond in kind? There's a new post calling me religious (albeit with a totally neutered meaning of the word) and I can't point out how silly I think religious views are? I simply reflected those notions back - which isn't in keeping with the double standard that believers are used to getting in this society - so I can see why you went straight for your trusty gay jokes.

Drew said...

Arrogance is claiming to know something or have an answer when you do not. Or at least, that is more arrogant than wanting to question someone else's answers.

In a nutshell, I'm not arrogant enough to think I have answers to certain important questions, and I'm not naive enough to believe that you do either.

But I do enjoy talking about them. ;)

Drew said...

I have to say that I don't think Brian ever took an arrogant tone. He responded in kind.

It has nothing to do with Matt specifically, but it has always bothered me about religious believers in general. There is a constant harping on this idea that you and I are incomplete, unfulfilled, and we have this longing that only a god can fill. There may be some merit to that idea, but recognize that just because you're unfulfilled and you've found fulfillment in religion, that doesn't mean that other people aren't entirely fulfilled in its absence. Religion gives you an easy way to find meaning. It offers it up on a platter to you so that you don't have to do any of the hard work of actually thinking and making your own meaning for this life. In a lot of ways, it's a cop out. I don't have a problem with that. I'm not trying to denigrate that. I don't hold it in very high regard as an idea, but that doesn't mean I don't have respect for people who espouse that idea.

We can viciously attack one another's ideas while still treating each other like human beings. That's my contention.

Amber Shomo said...

Wow. Finally just got through all these comments.

Brian & Drew-

A lot of the reason I don't engage in any of these conversations (besides the fact I have to read everything 4 times to understand it) is a lot to do with the way you present your arguments as fact (what Edgar is calling you out on as arrogance). You've both (not necessarily in this set of comments) said you're in an honest search for truth, etc. And I believe that... but often you present your arguments as having found the absolute truth. And for what it's worth, (and I believe I would have come to this conclusion if all posts were done "anonymously", it does come across as entirely arrogant.

Brian you said you can respect someone, but not their beliefs (as in the Bill Gates example). However when someone's beliefs makes them 100% who they are - it doesn't seem so simple as separating the person from what they believe.

I am interested in some of your responses to Edgar's counter points. I think he made some good ones and would like to see your response. Though you've learned to write him off due to his emotional commenting, you can't (well you can, but I wish you wouldn't) ignore everything he's said.


OK enough of that, but I do have one question. Obviously a lot of your arguments come from Dawkins etc. I've not read God Delusion but in a lot of my reading there are counter arguments to that book. My one question is in regards to the concept of memes. I will not spell out the two or three arguments there are against that concept (which frankly make a lot of sense to me) but am asking an honest question. Why do you put so many eggs in the memes basket so to speak? After all, is it not just a concept? If they are as prevalent as our genes, it seems as if there ought to be a lot more evidence for them to base so much of your belief in them.

You both (Drew & Brian) left Christianity because (huge nut-shell) in the end there is no 100% proof. How is it ok to base so much of your thought process on something that also can't be proven?

Not trying to pick a fight here people, just honestly curious. Thanks.

Drew said...


Brian you said you can respect someone, but not their beliefs (as in the Bill Gates example). However when someone's beliefs makes them 100% who they are - it doesn't seem so simple as separating the person from what they believe.

Brian said it, but I've always tended to think the same way. It is not my fault or my problem to dance around if someone is delusional enough to wrap him or herself up so deeply in unfounded metaphysical mumbo jumbo. If you love Chevies and I come and begin ticking off the points where Fords are superior (which they're not, as it's all just domestic junk that will stop running two months after you drive it off the lot, but I digress), would you feel deeply offended? I hope not, as it's nothing personal. Nor is this, unless you make it. No one can make you offended but you.

I am interested in some of your responses to Edgar's counter points. I think he made some good ones and would like to see your response. Though you've learned to write him off due to his emotional commenting, you can't (well you can, but I wish you wouldn't) ignore everything he's said.

I still respond to Edgar, but I stopped taking him seriously a long time ago. I lack the vocabulary to adequately express the venomous distaste I feel towards anyone who would stoop to playground insults when I'm trying my best to pour out my soul in text. I doubt there is much he could do to remedy this situation. Once you let everyone know how you really feel, and the kind of sophomorish parallels you're drawing in your juvenile brain, it's out there for everyone to see. I have no interest in arguing with someone who thinks like a child, but I will still correct misinformation if he chooses to put it out there, for the sake of my audience.

Does that sound arrogant? If it makes future commenters stop and think, then I suppose sometimes arrogance is necessary.

It's arrogant to speak in an expert tone about something, about which you know very little. I don't speak very often on Islam for this reason. I've only read the Koran twice now. I know a whole lot about the Bible. I know a whole lot of people who think they know a whole lot about the Bible, but are mostly wrong. One of the fastest ways to disbelief is to actually read the thing, cover to cover, and think critically about what it's saying. Why doesn't the book (which is supposed to be some paragon of human morality) condemn rape when given the opportunity in Genesis in the story of Lot? I will tell you why. It's because the author didn't think it was a big deal. This is echoed in Leviticus where the penalty for rape is...wait for it...you have to marry the girl you've raped! Brilliant!

Why does the Bible give us laws on how to treat our slaves? If it's such a forward-thinking book, why didn't the author say "Yeah, I know slavery is like pretty much the norm right now, but it's totally not cool and you guys should cut that out."?

It was a different time. Apparently, slavery was ok back then.

I don't think I need to go on, mainly because you've already considered these things I am sure. I know you are intelligent and have come to your own conclusions regarding these things. I'm just asking you to recognize that perhaps some other people, when confronted with the same body of evidence, might come to some different conclusions, and for you to be OK with that.

Continued Below...

Drew said...


OK enough of that, but I do have one question. Obviously a lot of your arguments come from Dawkins etc.

Eh? I guess you're talking more to Brian than to me here. I'm more of a Bertrand Russell/Douglas Adams guy. Dawkins is still a little too fresh for me, but I do enjoy listening to him. Same with Hitchens. Dawkins' scientific literacy and Hitchens' literary prowess are legendary and for good reason, but I don't take what they have to say without a thought. Critical thinking is a broadly-applicable skill.

To be fair though, Brian thinks they're both kind of pompous and I disagree.

I've not read God Delusion but in a lot of my reading there are counter arguments to that book. My one question is in regards to the concept of memes. I will not spell out the two or three arguments there are against that concept (which frankly make a lot of sense to me) but am asking an honest question. Why do you put so many eggs in the memes basket so to speak? After all, is it not just a concept? If they are as prevalent as our genes, it seems as if there ought to be a lot more evidence for them to base so much of your belief in them.

I agree with Dawkins' gene theories on Natural Selection. I'm not as keen on his memetic theory. I don't think it is without merit, but I would be interested to see you present the counter-arguments.

I'm not sure what you mean by "just a concept". Things like sin, salvation, even god are "just concepts", but what difference does that make?

Regardless, memes exist. The question is really whether or not they work in the way Dawkins describes. Religion is a meme. There are a positive plethora of Internet memes. A meme is just an idea, like a mind virus. Not a mind virus in a connotatively negative way, necessarily, but a virus in that they can't help but spread from one host to the next. Religions are actually designed to do this.

Continued below...

Drew said...


You both (Drew & Brian) left Christianity because (huge nut-shell) in the end there is no 100% proof. How is it ok to base so much of your thought process on something that also can't be proven?

I would phrase it "in the end there is 0% proof and loads of proof that The Bible is a cobbled-together mishmash of plagiarized pagan religions assembled by committee 300 years after Christ's death which contains no eyewitness accounts of his life"

But then, this is not controversial or up for debate. Ask any first-semester graduate school theologian. He might put it more mildly.

The basis for religion is faith, and unfortunately I was born a bit short on faith. I did play the game for a really long time though, and I had good apologetic arguments that sounded good to me to "fill the gaps" until I could make this whole thing make sense. After all, it seemed very important to my family.

But now a curiosity of my own. Do you lie awake at night, worried that you've crossed the Greek god Zeus and he might damn you to eternal torment as a result?

For the second part: There is precious little that can actually be "proven". Science runs into a lot of problems being accepted into the mainstream for this reason. No one can really "prove" the theory of General Relativity or the Germ Theory of Disease or the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection, but they're as close to proven as science gets. You can only prove that something is *not* true, and you can only do so in a very limited test case. This is the reality with which we're faced.

I'm not sure what is on which I'm "basing my thought process", exactly. I think I base it on the same things everyone else does. I have recently come to the conclusion that I cannot truly "believe" anything, at least not in the colloquial sense of the term. I am convinced of a number of things for pragmatic reasons or because of the evidence for them, but I can't really think of anything in which I believe.

Not trying to pick a fight here people, just honestly curious. Thanks.

Certainly not. I do not write to fight. I write to gain better understanding.

Peace to you. I hope that you do not take offense to anything I've written, and I'd be glad to speak about any of it in a more personal setting if you're so inclined.

Drew said...

P.S.

Another reason that I don't respond to Edgar at further length is because he conflates Brian's ideas with mine, even when I don't necessarily think the same things that Brian does.

I asked for an example of where I take an arrogant tone, and he pointed to something Brian wrote. I'm not responsible for what Brian writes. We're two people and there are a great many things on which we fervently disagree. The usefulness of religion would be one. While I think we would all be better off if religions ceased their proselytizing, I'm not ready to say humanity is ready yet for a world without religion. I'm just not sure of that.

adam wurth said...

i dont believe we are all bent to a "god" in particular, but i do believe that society is attracted to a greater power. Something that could provide answers to the reason of humanity or the reason were here in general. Te easiest escape from the natural occuring problems of life is to give a title such as " its all part of gods plan". So when there is a relavent accuse to the issues we face society tends to stick to it.

Drew said...


i dont believe we are all bent to a "god" in particular, but i do believe that society is attracted to a greater power.

Attracted to the idea of a greater power, maybe.

Something that could provide answers to the reason of humanity or the reason were here in general.

Why does there have to be a reason?

Te easiest escape from the natural occuring problems of life is to give a title such as " its all part of gods plan".

Indeed it is. There's nothing more repugnant than losing someone you love and having another person tell you "It was just his time", or "It's all part of god's plan". I know they mean well, but is it really that tough to understand why saying something like that is just insulting?

adam wurth said...

no insults itended drew, im just saying that its more conforting when you can tell someone that there is a purpose to the passing of a loved one, or whatever the matter is. Personally i think events and deaths just happen, but when the idea that there is a bigger plan to the cycle of life, people like to cling to that rather than just accepting the truth. That is why i believe there are so many different religions out there, different answers to the thousand year old questions humanity has been asking itself. Different cultures adapt to the storys or " fairy tales " that are being given to the people as a conforting reason of life. Wether its christianity ,hinduism, or muslim, each religion gives them a reason that is truly convincable to the purpose of life.

Drew said...

I hadn't taken offense at you, Adam.

:)

adam wurth said...

im sorry i read it from the wrong perspective. Ha i get it know the same response is still my thoughts minus the first sentence

Edgar said...

@drew

"Another reason that I don't respond to Edgar at further length is because he conflates Brian's ideas with mine, even when I don't necessarily think the same things that Brian does.

I asked for an example of where I take an arrogant tone, and he pointed to something Brian wrote."

This is a very small point but it's indicative of your pattern of denial so I thought I should clear this up.

You did not ask of an example of where you took an arrogant tone. You asked, and I quote, "Where is this arrogance of which you speak?"

I responded properly by quoting both you and Brian since you did not specify either way.

So this criticism of me being unable to distinguish both your question and the two of you separately is unfounded.

You are trying to make it look like I just breeze over your comments when in fact I read them more clearly than you.

I can understand your attempt to once again try and marginalize me. The fact is, you can't stand the fact that you make plenty of assumptions and try to pass them off as truths, which I expose.

You are used to just walking all over people who do not subscribe to popular liberal/agnostic beliefs.

You are used to treating people like me as if I believe in Santa Claus and don't think for myself.

You think all Christians (you did imply that I was a Christian) are just silly people who are afraid to think for themselves.

I've got news for you Drew. There are so called Christians who are just as smart and independently minded as you that believe fully in the Faith.

Not because we are idiots who have not outgrown our fairy tales. Not because we don't realize that our parents 'brainwashed' us. Not because we embrace 'the gaps' in the bible and refuse to think critically.

No. Modern Christians are critical thinkers!

Advice to Drew and Brian

Showing your contempt for those who believe in god does not win arguments. It might fly in your circle of friends to say that believing in god is like believing in santa.

If that's all you can bring to the debate then go home. You are finished. You need to offer REAL IDEAS and not just lash out and bash out christians ala hutchins.

You need to come to this debate with intellectual respect for your opponents lest you underestimate them and end up looking foolish.

@amber

thank you for your kind comments. I RARELY receive any! LOL...

adam wurth said...

I hate to chime in on a conversation where im not a full part of, but i think the orginal purpose of the argument has bleen watered down. The very basis of this particular blog is the asumption that Edgar has been defending. "We are all bent towards god in some way" is a perfect example of someone taking his religion and turning it into a imerialistic march. Saying such a thing throughs away any respect for a follower of a different religion. Its a blunt statement saying that everyone no matter their belief or spiritual path is part of my gods plan. Its seems as if you cant even come close to considering the power of a different religion. If one were to say to you, everyone is bent towards allah in some way, would you agree or shun them, with christianity. I believe that untill you consider others faith which in fact is just as strong as yours, dont assume the purpose of others lives.

adam wurth said...

If what I have stateted has interested anyone feel free to check out my blog at http://thetruthofbelieving.blogspot.com/

Edgar said...

@adam

I am here courtesy of Matt and as far as I can tell Matt welcomes everyone into the conversation. So don't feel as though you are not fully involved.

It just seems that way because I am an insufferable windbag along with drew.

""We are all bent towards god in some way" is a perfect example of someone taking his religion and turning it into a imerialistic march. Saying such a thing throughs away any respect for a follower of a different religion."

No adam, you are wrong. If Matt had said, "we are all bent toward Christ" then you would be right.

Drew said...

I never said or implied that you're a Christian, Edgar, nor did I say that I am not.

It's irrelevant to the discussion.

Drew said...

Edgar, I've already explained the situation.

If you had apologized by now, I might be responding to the rest of your points. You need to prove that you're not a child before I care, though. You don't speak for any of the believers here, and I have a lot more respect for them than you. None of them has resorted to calling me gay because he doesn't agree with me.

I don't know who you are or where you come from or why you follow me around everywhere, but I wasn't talking to you in my last post and I'm not talking to you now.

Drew said...

Well here's a simple proof then

1) If we are all bent towards god, it is part of our nature as humans.
2) Our nature as humans is sinful ("For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God", "It is by grace you are saved, not by works, lest any man should boast", etc.)
3) Therefore, our bent towards god, being part of our human nature, is sinful.

adam wurth said...

Edgar, i see what your saying about how being bent towards christ would be a christian veiw, rather than when one sais he is being bent towards god it is more of a general application. But, Matts intetions are not to adress god as a general idea, he is adressing god as part of the christian trinity, not just the idea of a god

adam wurth said...

Even if matts intentions are not to put a christian purpose on non-christians lives (which it is) he is still taking the goal of his own( that we all have a spiritual purpose) and slapping it on those who have no intentions of falling into a fairy tale such as religion.

Edgar said...

@Drew

"I don't know who you are or where you come from or why you follow me around everywhere, "

I don't follow you around. I was invited to comment here when Matt left a comment on my blog one day.

As far as perks blog goes, I found it by accident from syndk8.

@Apologize?

"if you had apologized by now, I might be responding to the rest of your points. You need to prove that you're not a child before I care, though."

I don't need to apologize for anything. Not only that but you have not ceased to respond to my points either.

Edgar said...

@Adam

Read his post adam. He is not sticking Jesus down your throat. Matt said SPECIFICALLY,

"From the ancient philosophers in Greece, to the earliest days of the Bible, all the way to today; spirituality and worship has been a vibrant part of life. Now, it has not always been a bent towards Christ and the God of the bible, but always something that is infinitely greater and more powerful than in which can bring us purpose and meaning."

So when you say, "Matts intetions are not to adress god as a general idea" you are wrong.

He clearly addressed it as such.

adam wurth said...

What you have just said has already been clarified by my first blog, i dont believe we are all bent to a "god" in particular, but i do believe that society is attracted to a greater power. Something that could provide answers to the reason of humanity or the reason were here in general. Te easiest escape from the natural occuring problems of life is to give a title such as " its all part of gods plan". So when there is a relavent accuse to the issues we face society tends to stick to it. I alaso believe that history of a any mater cant determine how we feel or what are beliefs are, it is up to the mind and heart of the individual to decide what he or she is to follow and believe in, brian was right to say that there can be circumstances where your peers and elders have tried to influence you to follow a certian path, but if that is the only rason you follow than you are weak at the haert, but in the end you choos religion, religion chooses you. Now you may allow influence to take a part but the ultimate decision is yours.

adam wurth said...

What is the truth of believing, is it simply a long drawn out process of half truths that can give comfort to the one who is looking for answers? Throughout history religions upon religions have been created to give somewhat of a reason, or purpose to the existance of humanity. The truth is, that society as a whole has fallen into the trance of sticking to a belief and accepting it as the one and only way. What we have forgotten is that there is more than one way, more than one " answer" to the questions we face. But does religion truly give us the confort were looking for? Or does it simply just paint over the reality of the world? Its up to the common follower to step outside his or her comfort zone, and put themselves in the shoes of a follower of a different religion, when one can do this he or she will see that you can expierience the the same comforting feeling and have "faith" through a different religion. My main statement is simply if a religion requires faith to make it a whole, it is as real as the next, puting every religion or so called answer on the same playing field. Matt is just implying that religion will always be apart of everyones life not taking into consideration that religion is a personal belief, that requires faith, it isnt automaticly there, its the choice of the believer, there is no predestination.

Drew said...

I was referring to the post where you called me gay.

I don't need to marginalize you, you've already marginalized yourself by calling me gay. Don't you understand how that makes you look?

I know that everyone's gay at syndk8 (and proud of it), but out here when we're talking to people who don't get the inside joke, it's very juvenile to call something gay just because you don't agree. I've never exposed people like Brian and Matt to the cesspool that is Syndk8, though I know Brian finds some aspects of SEO very interesting.

Well if you're from Syndk8, that means you're in my target demographic so I need to start being nicer to you.

My apologies.

Edgar said...

"I know that everyone's gay at syndk8 (and proud of it), but out here when we're talking to people who don't get the inside joke, it's very juvenile to call something gay just because you don't agree"

I said that I thought you and brian were both very unhappy homosexuals. I'm not saying it to be funny, I really mean it!

I'm dead serious. All the gay people I've ever known had the same kind of thought system as you and brian. With all the special disliking for either this or that.

A lot of homosexuals REALLY resent the whole notion of God and His right and wrong. They learn to reason passionately against anything even remotely connected to the idea of God. Not every single gay person in the world but the vast majority imo.

So I wont apologize. I didn't mean to embarrass you because I didn't think that you would really find it offensive. I guess there's something about gays that you don't like.

I asked you guys if you were unhappy homosexuals and you've answered. What's the big deal?

@Syndk8

Ha, let's not talk about syndk8. Truly a cesspool cool seo wise.

Drew said...

What makes you think I'm unhappy?

I lead a very rich, fulfilling life.

Again though, not relevant to the conversation.

I don't really care what you have to say about me and I don't really care if you want to apologize or not, but I'm not going to take you seriously until you do.

See, this is me not taking you seriously. I'm not addressing your arguments about the topic at hand because (aside from the fact that there's precious little of substance to address) you can't avoid the ad hominem canard.

Maybe you really think I'm a homosexual. Keep it to yourself. I don't go around calling you an idiot. It doesn't further the discussion.

Brian Hebert said...

I said that I thought you and brian were both very unhappy homosexuals. I'm not saying it to be funny, I really mean it!

Amber, Matt, & Jen: This is the guy you are throwing in with? This is the guy who you all think makes "great points"? This is the guy you want me to take seriously enough to respond to? Take him and enjoy the bigotry. Your defending him is an implicit acceptance of his hate speech and I want nothing to do with it.

I had written a somewhat personal response to try and bridge the gap between my view and yours, but I am too disappointed in everyone here to even bother.

You should all be ashamed of yourselves.

Edgar said...

"You should all be ashamed of yourselves."

Hmm, that sounds like a moral absolute coming from a moral relativist! They should all be ashamed because they have 'thrown in' with a (according to you) bigot.

Are those YOUR morals?

Brian, why are you agnostics always trying to shove YOUR morals down our throats? Sheesh!

@Drew

"What makes you think I'm unhappy?"

Your bigotry toward Christians and you bitterness in general. You are seething with hatred toward anyone who you think believes in god. You can't hide your resentment by just simply denying it. It comes through in every word you write imo.

Someone could say, "God bless you" after you sneeze and you would probably (in my mind) hate that person because they are trying to shove GOD down your throat.

That's the impression I get.

Now about the homo thing.

You might not like it that I "call it how I see it" whether I'm right or wrong.

But that's just because you've been brainwashed to think that everyone needs to be politically correct.

I like to think of my approach as refreshingly bold rather than angry or rude. I am direct and to the point. I'm here to express myself and lay my thoughts down fully open to criticism.

My approach should be everyone's approach frankly. Why do I so arrogantly say that?

Because in our society today people don't really say what they think. They are afraid it will be labeled HATE SPEECH and they keep their true thoughts to themselves even when asked to share their thoughts.

Point is political correctness keeps us from expressing what we really think and I don't like that.

I wonder what would cause you to abandon belief in God. My gut feeling is that you probably thought there were too many restrictions involved in being a good christian. Like for instance you can't be a homosexual.

I think homosexuality motivates your reasoning. Maybe I'm wrong. If you say I'm wrong then I'll accept that. No malice intended.

The reason I asked you about the homo thing was because I thought it was relevant to the discussion. To me you seem to contradict yourself and deny it all the time. What would motivate such an irrational line of reasoning?

I thought that perhaps if you were gay that you were simply defending your justifications no matter how absurd.

Drew said...

Still not relevant no matter how much you'd like it to be, but I'm not gay.

I don't hate anyone, either. I really don't. I'm just a would-be theologian who was disillusioned by it all and came to the conclusion that the cognitive dissonance in my brain between what I know to be fact and what I accepted to be true on faith was growing too vast and unbridgeable.

You need some context too. None of the Christians here would disagree with me that the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection is science. Most of us went to the same Christian college, where we were taught that there is no conflict between religion and science. I'm not throwing anything in anyone's face. If I tell people things they didn't know about the dubious origins of the Christian Bible, it's not my fault that they didn't know.

Drew said...

No. Modern Christians are critical thinkers!

I wasn't going to take the bait, but fine. You have more misconceptions than I have time to correct them, but this one deserves to be addressed.

Critical thinking and religiosity are fundamentally incompatible. I do not say this to be bombastic, to arouse ire, or to offend anyone. Any assumptions hinder critical thinking. When you are religious, you are not "open minded". You can be agnostically religious and open-minded. You can think that you've found something that works for you, but recognize the fact that other people may have reached different conclusions. This is how I believed when I was religious.

You cannot, however, approach every problem as though you're in dialog with the supreme creator of the universe and claim that you're objective, open-minded, or critical. If Christianity is compatible with critical thinking, why would it offend people to hear statements like "There is 0 physical evidence that Christ ever existed, we have no reliable eyewitness accounts, and it's likely that the specific portions of the writings of Flavius Josephus that mention Jesus are a forgery." A critical thinker would investigate that claim, not be offended by it. A critical thinker needs to broadly apply critical thinking to every area, including his religion, and not just when it suits him. If you are a critical thinker, nothing is off limits to scrutiny.

Clearly, there are some topics that are off limits here. Perhaps many Christians are critical thinkers. I would consider my brother a critical thinker, and he's going to be a pastor and then a full-blown theologian soon with his doctorate and everything. But my brother doesn't believe in things that don't make sense and for which there is no Biblical evidence, like Hell, Satan, witches, etc. That's not what most Christians believe. How can you expect to be critical when you've been told all your life that being critical of certain beliefs is just "Satan tempting you"?

Amber Shomo said...

Brian - You're ashamed of me, really?? I never condoned Edgar's emotional comments, simply asked that you looked past them and answer his points. Everyone here (well, you, Drew, & Edgar) are making comments that are emotional and at times offensive to anyone who thinks differently. (If you need me to point out the examples I will, but I don't think I need to) And, are you a moral relativist? Because if you are, then Edgars got you there... now to my actual comments which are in response to Drew.

Amber Shomo said...

Drew "Brian said it, but I've always tended to think the same way. It is not my fault or my problem to dance around if someone is delusional enough to wrap him or herself up so deeply in unfounded metaphysical mumbo jumbo. If you love Chevies and I come and begin ticking off the points where Fords are superior (which they're not, as it's all just domestic junk that will stop running two months after you drive it off the lot, but I digress), would you feel deeply offended? I hope not, as it's nothing personal. Nor is this, unless you make it. No one can make you offended but you."


Well, if you are trying to respect someone, than it may not be your problem per say but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be sensitive to it. I realize the nature of these conversations is debate but again 50% of the opinion out there is re: a personal God, so to say it’s not personal, well I just don’t agree. Continually calling us “lunatics” and “delusional” certainly isn’t going to make me break out into the R-E-S-P-E-C-T song.

Drew "I still respond to Edgar, but I stopped taking him seriously a long time ago. I lack the vocabulary to adequately express the venomous distaste I feel towards anyone who would stoop to playground insults when I'm trying my best to pour out my soul in text. I doubt there is much he could do to remedy this situation. Once you let everyone know how you really feel, and the kind of sophomorish parallels you're drawing in your juvenile brain, it's out there for everyone to see. I have no interest in arguing with someone who thinks like a child, but I will still correct misinformation if he chooses to put it out there, for the sake of my audience.

Does that sound arrogant? If it makes future commenters stop and think, then I suppose sometimes arrogance is necessary."

It’s clear to everyone how you feel about Edgar’s lack of tact, yet you just chose to write a full paragraph reiterating your “venomous distaste”. Really necessary? It’s crossing the arrogant line and heading over to immature. Your countering his “playground” antics with your own version of junior high tomfoolery.

Amber Shomo said...

If you’d like me to respond re: my OT opinions I will. I have only begun to touch on many of these topics and it’s not at the top of my reading list at the moment. If only there were 60 hrs in a day...

Drew "I agree with Dawkins' gene theories on Natural Selection. I'm not as keen on his memetic theory. I don't think it is without merit, but I would be interested to see you present the counter-arguments.

I'm not sure what you mean by "just a concept". Things like sin, salvation, even god are "just concepts", but what difference does that make?"

I don’t have a problem with concepts themselves. I am only pointing out that it seems contradictory to use such a (weak and not-proven) concept so strongly in an argument as evidence for why something can’t be proven. It’s one thing to say “I believe that” or “I think that” but to say “It is” is another. Does that make sense? It seems a little “I can’t find an argument for this point, so I will make up a word to describe what I'm thinking and even make it sound like genes” ish.

Drew: "I would phrase it "in the end there is 0% proof and loads of proof that The Bible is a cobbled-together mishmash of plagiarized pagan religions assembled by committee 300 years after Christ's death which contains no eyewitness accounts of his life"

But then, this is not controversial or up for debate. Ask any first-semester graduate school theologian. He might put it more mildly."

How bold. I’ve read many of these arguments and also the counters (though they are not fresh) and there is quite a bit of evidence FOR the Bible being what Christians claim it to be. But since you seem to have the final word, I guess I’ll just forget reading both sides. Ok obviously I’m not going to do that but the way you present your arguments as fact is a little disheartening. If it was so cut & dry I don’t think we’d be debating anything.

Drew "But now a curiosity of my own. Do you lie awake at night, worried that you've crossed the Greek god Zeus and he might damn you to eternal torment as a result?"

Say what? If you’re trying to ask a question, just ask it. I have no idea what you’re getting at.

Drew: "Peace to you. I hope that you do not take offense to anything I've written, and I'd be glad to speak about any of it in a more personal setting if you're so inclined."

Thanks. I don’t do live debate. I just get frustrated because I can’t form my thoughts properly. Maybe some day when I’m more “intellectually seasoned” :)

Drew said...


How bold. I’ve read many of these arguments and also the counters (though they are not fresh) and there is quite a bit of evidence FOR the Bible being what Christians claim it to be. But since you seem to have the final word, I guess I’ll just forget reading both sides. Ok obviously I’m not going to do that but the way you present your arguments as fact is a little disheartening. If it was so cut & dry I don’t think we’d be debating anything.


I'm not sure who you're reading. There are some apologists like Strobel who make it seem like there might be debate, but Strobel does not do due diligence by any stretch of a definition of the term. He led a long successful career as an investigative journalist, and then published utter tripe. It's rife with assumption and logical fallacies.

Is there someone else I've missed?

I'm most well-versed in the historicity of the documents from which the Bible was drawn. My Greek and Hebrew could use some work, but my Greek's not bad.

Drew said...

You have to remember; There are a great many people interested not in the truth, but the maintenance of the status quo. When you approach everything with the assumption that you've got it all figured out, you're bound to make other missteps and invalid assumptions along the way.

I'd recommend reading Bartram Ehrman if you really want *the last word* on the Bible. He is literally the foremost Biblical expert alive, by a huge margin.

Edgar said...

@Amber

I think you make some good points yourself Amber. You should give your opinions more often in my opinion. You are quite good at forming your thoughts in a clear and concise manner.

You also have courage. It's not easy to stand up for what you believe when it's not what's popular.

The other side has so many ways to attack you without really attacking your IDEAS. See Amber, they can call you a RACIST when it gets too hot in the kitchen!

They can call you a BIGOT. They can call you an IDIOT by saying that "WE ALL JUST DON'T GET IT" and they are forced to REPEAT THEMSELVES (because you are a brainwashed idiot).

They can exhibit PHONY OUTRAGE and leave the debate, pretending that you are just too far beneath their intelligence to take you SERIOUSLY.

Stand up for what you believe in and you better watch out! Humiliation is awaiting you. They will try to humiliate you with a condescending tone and compare your intelligent adult ideas with that of believing in SANTA CLAUS.

And when all that doesn't work and they are forced to think for themselves and combat ideas with ideas, they will take their ball and go home.

So good for you Amber for getting into the thick of it!

I do however have one thing I want to correct you on:

"Brian - You're ashamed of me, really?? I never condoned Edgar's emotional comments, simply asked that you looked past them and answer his points."

I was not making emotional comments. I mean everything I say, everything. An emotional comment would be if I said that Brian was a liberal, bedwetting, spoiled crybaby little brat who is used to getting his way. That would be emotional.

One other thought I would like to share is this:

Miles Davis, the great jazz musician who was known for his great improvisational skills made a remark that I think draws an interesting parallel to discussions such as these.

He said that he liked listening to other great improvisers but with one caveat. He would listen to them play for an hour and hear them run through all of the things they had learned, and exhibit all of the music theory they had learned. But what he truly found interesting is what they played AFTER they had run out of theory.

Miles wanted to hear what was in their hearts more than what was in their mind.

Drew said...

I suppose brown-nosing your audience is one way to score points in a debate.

Drew said...

In theological schooling, there is a sort of unwritten rule that you don't really talk about some of the deeper or more confusing aspects of Church history or the history of the Canon. It only makes people question their faith, and really, who does that benefit?

I don't feel compelled to be bound to that unspoken rule anymore.

Any time that any of you want to talk about this stuff, feel free to hit me up.

I'm not going to continue the conversation here though, because I don't see it going anywhere productive.

Edgar said...

"I am not naturally bent toward faith in god at all. I was certainly raised in a home that initially handicapped me with these feelings, but that is hardly the natural yearning you are talking about. Spirituality of all forms persist in the brain and are transmitted from one person to the next via language and other forms of communication"

This is an interesting line of reasoning for someone who believes in evolution.

Those who believe in natural selection believe that everything is governed by Natural Laws. Random Mutation is pure chance and is in accordance with Natural Law. An explanation for anything can be found in Nature.

If you are one of the people who believe that theory (like say, Brian and Drew) then it would only make sense that the human brain is subject to these natural laws and pure chance, just like everything else that has randomly mutated.

If that is true then all of our ideas are pure chance when you think about it. That speaks against those who believe in Rational Thought.

This would mean that if you were 'brought up' with religious folks you can't 'blame' them for HANDICAPPING you with LIES. You have to blame Natural Law and Random Mutation (pure chance) for your initial belief in God.

That would mean you were naturally bent toward God, because you don't really have your own ideas. They are the product, like everything else, of Natural Laws which you are subject to.

Thomas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

This is Amber.

Edgar thanks for the encouragement.

Seems we're all done here. Adios.

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