Thursday, July 19, 2007

Faith, Reason and Science, Part X: Some Humor and Serious Ponderings By A Thoughtful Atheist

Update: Welcome Digg visitors. For more of my posts on Science (including my Science and Faith series), go here.Interested in my take on atheism? Then try here. For my comments about the experience of being dugg, so here.

Original Post:

Eric Michael Johnson is a primatologist and endocrinologist completing a PhD at Duke University, and he blogs at the Primate Diaries. He has two recent posts that are worth reading. First, some provocative humor:

Fundamentalists: believe 2+2 =5 because It Is Written. Somewhere. They have a lot of trouble on their tax returns.

"Moderate" believers: live their lives on the basis that 2+2=4. but go regularly to church to be told that 2+2 once made 5, or will one day make 5, or in a very real and spiritual sense should make 5.

"Moderate" atheists: know that 2+2 =4 but think it impolite to say so too loudly as people who think 2+2=5 might be offended.

"Militant" atheists: "Oh for pity's sake. HERE. Two pebbles. Two more pebbles. FOUR pebbles. What is WRONG with you people?"



Next, some more serious, but equally provocative thoughts on faith and reason:

Allow me to lay it out in a more nuanced fashion. It is my view that religion and science are incompatible in a very specific and important way. I say this as someone who previously drank the Kool-Aid and spent countless hours studying what was described to me as the Holy Spirit. I have been confirmed in the Lutheran tradition and have recited the Nicene Creed so often throughout my life that, as an adult, I no longer paid any attention to what the words were saying.

. . .

Faith, as Gary Whittenberger discusses in the latest issue of Skeptic, has multiple common uses.


“Faith” may refer to a religion or worldview, as in “My faith is Islam.” It may refer to an attitude of trust or confidence, as in “I have faith in my physician.” Or it may refer to believing propositions without evidence or out of proportion to the available evidence.


It is this latter use of faith that is incompatible with science.

. . .

Yes, religion is incompatible with science. This doesn't mean, of course, that religious people are incapable of doing science. Far from it. There are certain questions that don't probe too deeply into the foundations of a person's faith and they have no problem employing their reason to its fullest in those cases. But when reason starts to get uncomfortably close (as it has for Francis Collins, Deepak Chopra and Michael Behe) well, that's when the desperate appeal to fuzzy thinking becomes apparent. Because the assumption of God is so obvious to them (and I'm sure they feel it powerfully) the evidence suggesting that evolution follows natural mechanisms and has no need of a supernatural intelligence must therefore be wrong. They'll bend over backwards trying to rationalize irrationality.

So for those of you who grew up being taught that 2+2=5 but are now feeling like you've been hoodwinked, don't be afraid to say so. There's a growing number of people who understand where you're coming from. It can be a scary thing to let go of but, I can assure you, the confidence that comes with intellectual honesty and reason is far more rewarding than empty promises based on an unseen faith. I should know, I was bad at math most of my life and I just couldn't make sense of my calculations. I don't have that problem anymore.


Read it all here

As I have said in other posts (such as this one, this one and this one), I don't think that this really reflects what we mean by faith--the Christian faith relies on factually verifiable statements of historical fact that a Christian should be willing to put to empirical test. And on the basic issue of a belief in a creating God, as I have posted before (here and here), I think that there is a reasoned and rational case for such a faith. Faith is not contrary to reason or science. Rather, faith can be reasoned, and it comes into play when science (or history or any other empirical discipline) has had its say.

79 comments:

Steven Carr said...

What verifiable claims are there in Christianity?

The claim that Jesus ascended to Heaven? How could that be tested?

Paul assures the Jesus-worshippers in Corinth that Jesus became a life-giving spirit after the resurrection.

How could that be tested?

Does anybody even know what a life-giving spirit is?

Chuck Blanchard said...

Steven:

Perhaps my language is not percise. By verifiable, I am not saying that these claims have been proven. What I mean to say is that Christianity makes claims about historical events that took place at a particular time and place. While we may never have enough evidence to prove or dispove these claims, they are at least theoretically verifibale. Take the resurrection as an example--if we really discovered the tomb and body of Jesus, Christians would need to rethink this claim. And obviously, not all claims made by our faith are verifiable even in this sense--but many of the critical ones are.

Petey Ale said...

two plus two does equal five, for very large values of two.

(ex. 2.4 + 2.4 = 4.8, but when you only use 1 significant figure, it's 5)

Chuck Blanchard said...

Petey:

Thanks for visiting. Mathematically, you are correct, but I think this misses the point of the joke. Grin.

Anonymous said...

2.4 + 2.4 = 4.8 does not give you 5 if you use one significant figure. The answer would be 4, the only way you could conceivably get 5 is if you rounded, and significant figures doesn't deal with rounding. So if your answer should only contain one significant figure, you cut off the rest and replace with zeros, you don't round up.

So as before, 2+2 = 4.

Two Rebels said...

Maybe it was always God's intention for 2+2 to equal 4.

True atheists believe in binary...where there is no 2.

Great post!

(not a Christian, agnostic actually, but then again, believing that God is more of concept rather than a being pretty much puts me into the atheist category.)

Ted Berg said...

Anonymous, 2.4 + 2.4 = 4.8 DOES give you 5 if you use one sig fig. The standard for significant figures is rounding up if above .5 and rounding down if under. If it is a .5, you round to the nearest even. ie, 4.5 = 4, 5.5 = 6. You are truncating to arrive at the 1 sig fig, not following the rules.

new.atheist said...

The reason faith & science are incompatible is faith requires a belief in the supernatural, i.e. things that defy the laws of nature (heaven, hell, bodies raising to heaven, & other miracles).

In science, everything can be ascribed to a natural process. That which we cannot yet explain, science still searches for a rational explanation, "god did it," isn't acceptable.

マイク said...

i believe they did find jesus' tomb along with his wife and chlidren's...james cameron directed a discovery channel special about it and it was banned because the church refuses to accept the truth that normal human beings cannot fly up into imaginary alternate universes with angels and clouds

Steven said...

The funny thing is religion started out as science. If you look at many of the practices religions teach, they're rational beliefs if you look at them in their historical context.

For example, rules for handling food made sense from a public health perspective when diseases were known but not fully understood. Similarly, prohibiting infidelity and anal sex also made sense in a time when there was little to be done to curb STDs. Even practices that aren't necessarily hard sciences map pretty well to social and political sciences, and certainly represented advanced thinking at the time.

The problem, of course, is that since the science of it was primitive it all had to be wrapped up in mythology and parables to make it palatable to the masses. But as our understanding of the world evolved, the religions stayed stagnant, and now the disconnect is causing a great deal of conflict.

Personally, I think the world is fascinating enough without requiring a belief in god, and the more science reveals the more I appreciate our existence. The Powers of 10 (http://www.powersof10.com/) exhibit is a wonderful example of this. If you think about the scale of things from the tiniest subatomic particles to the entire universe, and how simple particles combine to form atoms, then molecules, then cells, to complex organisms, to colonies and communities and entire ecosystems to planets and solar systems to galaxies and beyond, and at each layer new and more complex behaviors emerge from the interactions of the parts...well, it's all incredibly fascinating! The whole phenomenon of emergent behaviors in networked systems even raises an interesting theological question -- perhaps god didn't create the universe, but rather the universe created god? That is, just as we are the product of much simpler parts acting together, and in turn act together to form communities, states, nations, and a global community, perhaps there is something out there that we can't understand but is itself a product of our own existence?

Geoffrey said...

Certain things written in the (2 'testaments' of the) Bible were motivated by men with political motivations, certain parts were written as documentation of history as seen from the perspective of people with political (and other) motivations, certain things were written by humans with certain 'foresight.' Quantum physicists are now able to describe how (at least theoretically) the future can leak into the past. Science is one method of understanding the world, and just because scientific method has not proven the potentiality of certain 'miracles,' does not mean that science will not some day be able to describe those events. All the best to anyone yearning for inner peace.

Josh said...

You're correct that Christianity makes verifiable claims about history. However, it's been shown that many of these claims are in fact, wrong.

Take the time period of Herod's reign, for example. There are many others.

There is also the problem of internal contradictions.

And the problem of Hell.

And the non-uniqueness of Christianity. Stop me whenever.

Faith is not just about believing without evidence, but also believing in spite of evidence. Rationalizing away till your brain is dead.

No thanks.

Anonymous said...

How can you add 2.4 and 2.4 if you're only using one significant figure? What is WRONG with you people?

new.atheist said...

Steven;

Religion didn't start out as science, it started out as culture. Even while the specifics of food preparation may seem a science, the necessities of food preservation vary from location to location, and the types of food consumed in a prehistoric community are also location dependent. In America, most people find the consumption of insects repulsive; one could see how this could develop into religious doctrine.

The culture of a people distinguishes them from others, and makes them feel they belong to a special group. We pass on to our children not only our medical wisdom, but other knowledge, such as our stories, and we pass on physical objects and and our genetic information. Stories become dogma; objects become relics.

But today, religion crosses cultures, and we often see conflict between the two. Do we need to keep Kosher? Does evolution conflict with the bible?

And, to your end statement; if the universe did "create" god, then that negates god being the Alpha & Omega; the first and the last. While such an idea doesn't negate a deity of some sort; it does conflict with the idea of the Judea-Christian god of the Bible.

Darrin said...

Science is largely a CHRISTIAN invention.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Bacon

The scientific method is based on Christian philosophy.

1) That if you cheat you will be caught because God is watching you and God doesn't like lying or falsification of results or omitting results.

2) All are created equal so your science must be shared and verifiable by others. There is nothing more special about your abilities that cannot be transfered with instruction to others because all ability comes from God and God is God for all.

3) The Universe is fair, ordered and follows Rules which do not change at a whim because God controls it and God is fair, ordered and follows the rules.

4) The Universe is magical. The experiment is always right because it reflects God's actions, unless their is a flaw in the model that violates the Universe being fair.

5) Because God is all powerful the followers of God can grant their opponents every possible way to win without fear. This is the basis of the falsifiable requirement to all true science.

I submit that science is Christian because it relies on beliefs that require true faith to hold.

"theories" like evolution and the big bang are examples of Atheists straying from true falsification as a requirement for science. Also note how many Atheists believe that others are less fit to perform science than they are even if the same instruction were provided, this belief is incompatible with science.

Anonymous said...

Yes, what _is_ wrong with you people?

When using one significant digit, the value is indistinct. You can't just say 2.4 to one significant digit. But you could say:

(2 +/- 1) + (2 +/- 1) = (4 +/- 1)

Then your statement:

2.4 + 2.4 = 4.8

is correct, well formed and properly defined.

Allen said...

Just so you all know, you don't actually add the numbers with one significant figure. You figure the answer, and THEN apply the sig fig. So yes, 2.4+2.4 is 5.

Anonymous said...

"How can you add 2.4 and 2.4 if you're only using one significant figure? What is WRONG with you people?"

See, they're already distorting what is real and correct in order to make an argument for their faith.

It's not an "if", there _will_ come a time when Christianity, like other modern religions, will be looked at in the same light that we now view the Egyptian or Viking gods from centuries ago. That is, if religious disharmony doesn't cause the destruction of this planet first.

new.atheist said...

I think the scientific method is much older than Bacon, with Egyptian & Muslim roots as well;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method#History

And even involving "god" doesn't make it Christian; belief in the ressurection of Jesus for the sins of mankind is what makes something/someone a Christian.

I'm not quite sure where the 5 bullets Darrin presented are from, but science involves making conclusions from observing facts and too often people seeking religion in science start with conclusions and then seek out "facts" to back it up.

Anonymous said...

2.4 + 2.5 = 5
you people are just ignorant hypocrites :-) didn't you study math in school?
if you want to use precision you should do it in each member of equation. and if you round any member of equation you should do it for all others too, otherwise you are comparing apples with oranges which is typical for believers :-) you can round result of the calculation but that should always be mentioned. besides 2.4 is not 2 it's obvious even visually... :-)

Geoffrey said...

Regarding the resurrection of Jesus...

Do you accept that people ever experience 'visions?' Such as, when a 'native American' would starve themselves and have a 'vision quest.' Or, when a modern human takes a drug such as LSD or psychedelic mushrooms...

If you want to call what people experience in these states of mind (as well as dreams) something like 'delusions,' that is your prerogative.

I think that it is fully within the scope of the 'laws of science' that people look through 'rose-colored-glasses' for short periods of time, but that what they experience cannot just be discounted as imagined. That is my personal opinion, of course.

Also, the people who wrote the stories of the bible had particular geographic boundaries (i.e., people didn't travel across the world as they do today, there wasn't the 'information superhighway'), and had the 'messiah' been alive in this day and age, he/she might just acknowledge the validity of most if not all of the world's religions, all of which aim to provide humans with the framework for achieving inner (and outer) peace.

Kind Regards.

Colin said...

I believe its prudent to point out that there is a growing population of people with the mindset that faith can purely be based on answers to the questions which are not meant for science.

Faith doesn't necessarily have to be based upon events and figures in a book. While historically a person's faith has usually been in a religion, with a deity (or a number of deities) at its core, faith for some, especially for those with a very rational mindset can be something much more pure than that.

The assumption that science can and will eventually solve all posed questions is one based on very shaky ground. Probably the most significant problem with this assumption is the requirement that we as humans are actually clever enough to understand the nature of the universe in its entirety. This fact has yet to be shown.

This new movement of people claiming that faith can be disproved somehow by science seems somewhat ahead of itself.

There are many questions which science has yet to solve, some of which I choose to believe, for better or worse, are beyond its reach.

Anonymous said...

For those wondering how it's done...

Open Excel (or Open Office Calc if you want a freebie version)

In Cell A1 enter 2.4
In Cell A2 enter 2.4
In Cell A3 enter the formula =a1+a2

Highlight all 3 cells and reduce the decimal places by 1.

You'll get this:

http://img510.imageshack.us/img510/1452/2plus2ul7.jpg

Matthew said...

the idea that christianity and science are incompatible is absurd, and the argument presented in the post is banal.

what are incompatible are dogma and science, religiosity and rationality, doctrine and empiricism.

steven hawking points out that there is no discrepancy between the working theory of the universe and the idea of a creator. we can have both.

it's when sheeple with absolutist epistemological beliefs attempt to wax theological or empirical that we see such absurd claims.

get a grip people. 2+2 doesn't matter, it certainly does not equal five, and those who would conflate religion with religiosity clearly need to re-evaluate their conceptual assumptions.

'nuff said.

Geoffrey said...

You may have noticed the exponential rate at which humans are developing new technologies and science is now able to explain things that would have seemed like magic long ago. Look up levitation and quantum physics to see an example of what I am talking about. Yet science does not (attempt to) solve many of the ethical dilemmas that plague us (such as war), it does attempt to come up with other ethical dilemmas like feeding the poor--unless you count the 'social sciences.' Regardless, I have strong reason to believe we are heading for a technological 'plateau' in the next 5 1/2 years. More and faster seems to be the mantra of the world we live in today.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe "...faith can be disproved...(Colin)". I believe that faith is a thought that is not based on evidence and/or disregards any evidence or proof.

To disprove something that is not based on fact/evidence does not make sense. Faith is simply a thought. Now statements about faith can possibly be proven or disproven, theoretically. For example, if I said I have faith that the Messiah will appear on earth at such a date and time. It can be proven or disproven with enough evidence.

Guy Incognito said...

Generally when significant figures are being implemented, you use however many significant figures there are in the least precise portion of the calculation. So in the case in question (2.4 + 2.4) there are two significant figures (one pre-decimal and one post) - you would not decide to switch to one significant figure just for the answer. Here are some valid examples:
2.4 + 2.4 = 4.8
2.4 + 2 = 4
5.23482928 + 4.76 = 9.99

Anonymous said...

I agree with Guy about sig figs.

Liberalasskicker said...

Republicans and God are the only things you can really believe in.

Math is full of lies!!

I proved that 2+2=5.
This proof is a fact and you can't deny it:
http://www.liberalsmustdie.com/2006/04/17/2+2+5.aspx

Anonymous said...

Religion is just a way for people to define and agree with others on the significance of spirituality. Eventually, like any other collaberation of humans, it becomes political. That is where the evil is.

People often talk about how religion has caused so many to die through wars, now ubsard laws and ritiulas, etc. But trade has caused just as many wars. The politics of food distribution is a major cause of death in human history. But no one blames the feeling of hunger. Spirituality is not to blame - it exists just as hunger does. An essential aspect of the human condition.

Science and spirituality are not incompatable. Religion (as the spokesman for spirituality) needs to become more flexable, lose the nostalga for the 'good ole days' and start talking to science. science needs to quit thinking that it has all the answers and refocus on what it does best tell us how things happen and shut up about why they happen.

In my view, science is like a child full of energy and newly aware of its ability to impact the world; anxious to make things easier and better. Spirituality is like the parent guiding the child to make good decisions. Only right now the child has its fingers in its ears and is singing 'LA LA LA LA' and religion is yelling so hard that a vein in its brain may just burst.

Geoffrey said...

Whether Jesus was resurrected from the grave or not, there seems to be pretty good evidence that all but one of his disciples were tortured to death for insisting that indeed they had seen him very much alive after he had been hung from a cross and put into a tomb. Unless you believe that the whole Bible is fiction. If you accept that they are stories that were written down based on the oral and witnessed history of some people that were Jesus' friends, then why would they go to a torturous death (all except John) insisting till the end that they had witnessed his resurrected spirit. I suggest that whether you believe it or not, they believed it, to the point where they died defending that belief. Would they not just deny it upon threat of death if it were a lie? (there was a t.v. special I saw a bit of last night with a Stanford professor who pointed this out)

Anonymous said...

Anonymous poster.... Science is not not like a "child full of energy and newly aware of its ability to impact the world; anxious to make things easier and better." Science is the pursuit of understanding the world around us through the scientific method. What people do with that science is a totally different story. How people engineer products, foods, medical devices etc with the science that scientist develop is more of a political and business issue. But science in of itself is simply discovery.

Heidi and Matt said...

To those who "believe" in science to the exclusion of God - the arrogance is comical. Just because your all-powerful brain cannot understand something, it can't possibly be?

There were people a whole lot smarter than you a few hundred years ago who couldn't possibly fathom the existence of something called a germ. They would have dismissed germ theory as ludicrous and laughed today's scientists out of the room, given the chance. And, on reflection, they would have sounded a whole lot like you.

And as for anyone who believes that science is a basis for atheism, let's measure you against Albert Einstein. While not a Christian, Albert Einstein believed that a supreme being existed. If you know something about science that Einstein didn't, I'm sure we'd all like to hear it.

And for you math folks - doesn't it strike you as just a little odd that amazingly simple mathematical expressions describe such incredibly complex universal phenomena? If you can't think of any examples, you didn't take much science (or math). The effects of gravity, for instance, are explained in laughably simple terms, mathematically speaking.

And for you bio folks. You guys disproved spontaneous generation over a hundred years ago. Life ONLY comes from life. It cannot come into being from anything else. So where did the first bit of life come from? Oh, it happened ONCE, eh? Now you sound as silly as you try to make Christians sound.

And can anyone explain how the universe supposedly became more and more complex over time - all by itself - when the laws of thermodynamics clearly prohibit this?

No matter - those who believe will believe. Those who don't - well, when they die they will!

Anonymous said...

It's a metaphor. Much like: A child in of itself is simply discovery.

My point is that spirituality and scientific thought serve different purposes. It't the politics of both that are at odds

Anonymous said...

Well, there are a couple of issues:


1) You're assuming all Christians have the same set of beliefs. I don't now, nor have I ever spoken "The Creed", and I don't subscribe to the Trinity doctrine. I don't believe in Hellfire, and I don't believe everyone goes off and floats in clouds.

2) Most here are trying to apply scientific rules to something that isn't strictly science. In a sense it would be like trying to apply the rules of physics as we know them to explain Casimir force. It's like forcing someone to describe the sense of taste using the sense of smell. The two are certainly complementary, but different.

Anonymous said...

In addition to science being a discovery. Many scientific discoveries never are brought to the mainstream because there isn't a business venture to invest in it. Please do not mix up true science and what marketers, businessmen, advertisers want you to think is making "things easier" for the world. Also just because there is a discovery doesn't mean anyone has to implement it or chose to use it. So please do not make it out to be that science is this naive child.

Anonymous said...

"How can you add 2.4 and 2.4 if you're only using one significant figure? What is WRONG with you people?"

Ask your bank.

If youre paying to the bank:
$1.024 + $1.024 = $2.05

If the bank is paying you:
$1.024 + $1.024 = $2.04

I do believe in banks.

Anonymous said...

To Heidi and Matt-

Since when does science exclude anything? Science is a process of discovery. Science is using methodical techniques to learn and understand how things works. Many times science is reviewed and modified until there isn't anything that violates the findings. That is why scientific journals are constantly reviewed. There are many times when theories are revamped to help take into account attributes of the present conditions. It is ridiculous for you to use your retort about germs to denouce science. Because science is about researching until you can find answers. The whole reason why germs are understood are because scientist keeping trying to figure out that kind of stuff. Go to wiki and read about scientific method and maybe you can use that to apply to your statements, rather than retorting things that don't apply the field of science.

Anonymous said...

. . .but when known science isn't sufficient to explain other items (e.g. God) the other items shouldn't simply be written off.

Imagine taking a laptop running the most advanced A.I. intensive software back to around 2500 B.C.E. Many folks would likely have attributed it to magic. Granted that would have been wrong. The truly scientific, however might search and search to no avail, yet, would they doubt that it was somehow, in some way created? Why is the "creation" leap then so hard when it comes to items such as human beings and animals?

Anonymous said...

"What I mean to say is that Christianity makes claims about historical events that took place at a particular time and place. While we may never have enough evidence to prove or dispove these claims, they are at least theoretically verifibale."

I love this type of thinking. It's so easy to show how silly it is. Just because the stories in the bible have a few historical elements in them does not imply that any of the other elements are not completely fictional. For example, I can pick up a Spider-Man comic in which he is swinging around New York and meets President Bush after he made his speech after 9-11. New York is a real place, Bush is a the real president, the speech actually took place. None of this makes it any more likely that Spider-Man is real. And saying that it is verifiable is also meaningless. According to your logic that would mean somebody could one day find Spider-Man's webbing for example. Not much of an argument is it?

Anonymous said...

Congrats on getting dugg! Fr. Matthew Moretz.

Anonymous said...

2.4 + 2.4 = 4.8

2.4 oranges + 2.4 oranges does not give you 5 oranges. It gives you 4.8

This is the most basic equation and scenario that algebra can be applied to. Rounding is unimportant here because the numbers represent actual objects.

Anonymous said...

. . .can anyone dispute/refute the laptop comment?

Geoffrey said...

Look at history since the various books of the bible have been compiled. For example, why would a Roman Emperor (Constantine, if my knowledge of history is correct), officially change to and turn the Empire into a Christian empire? What I mean to say is, that there seems to be pretty good historical evidence completely separate from the Bible that convinced people throughout history to create a church remembering and accepting the Divinity of Jesus.

Whether that was completely a political decision (i.e., response to a large cult of people who accepted the stories of the death and resurrection of Jesus--to keep them happy by on the surface acknowledging said Divinity), or whether it was a genuine belief in Constantine doesn't matter. Historical evidence is pretty plentiful that at least some of the events depicted in the Bible are correct. What is literal and what is metaphoric is a different question.

Anonymous said...

If anyone were able to travel back 4500 years and show laptops to Egyptians, then that argument would have substance. It's based off a completely unfounded imaginary scneario.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous ". . .but when known science isn't sufficient to explain other items (e.g. God) the other items shouldn't simply be written off."

I agree with you. It shouldn't be written off. And although I don't agree with you, I don't believe in deities. But see with most scientist atheists use the sound reasoning such as with the scientific method and apply it to spirituality/religion, daily interactions etc. Since this is a tried and true method that has not be denounced. No one has "disproved the scientific method." But I assume that since people can see the logic, statistics, evidence/facts, etc. that science provides they denounce religion. That is a personal choice and I think it's ridiculous that people associate human reason with the principles of science. True science will stand up against all future findings.

Making that leap of creation is a large leap that seems impossible for most scientists because forming a solution and then trying to find facts to back it up isn't a methodical process of understanding and therefore it can include many incorrect answers/beliefs/thoughts what have you... I personally hope that either way we will have answers for all these questions so that everyone will know the truth.
But my worry is that religious people will denounce that truth if it ever will come, since many also denounce other scientific findings that do not cooperate with their beliefs. Where as scientists must be prepared for review of facts and evidence as is with all scientific findings.

Anonymous said...

X + Y = Z

What is X?
What is Y?
Why do you even care that I want to know Z?

Maybe I'll find out what Z is tomorrow.
Maybe I'll find out sometime before I die.
Maybe, just maybe, I'll find out when I'm dead.

Anonymous said...

Supposedly they did find the tomb of Jesus Christ also they did find that he had a son...so he really wasn't as holy as the Christians make him look...

new.atheist said...

To the Anonymous poster who says science needs to "quit thinking that it has all the answers," I know that many scientists attempt to steer clear of philosophical questions (such as the meaning of life); this is why it is essential to remove the idea of god from scientific study & just rely on the observable facts.

Geoffery; many people who didn't see Jesus raise from the dead have let themselves be martyred, just as many people have died for other various religions. People in this day/age swear they've seen aliens. Nothing was written of Jesus in his own time, and there is much to the Jesus-story that reflects other religious & political movements of the times.

Einstein's philosophies about a supreme being would best be described as Pantheism.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantheism Lots of people know a lot about science these days that Einstein didn't; he was a physicist & there was probably a lot in other fields of scientific study he didn't know much about. But the same anonymous person who brought that up threw in the 2nd law of thermodynamics to show they really know nothing & are just regurgitating other people's fundamentalist rebuttals.

Geoffrey said...

What was holy about Jesus was that he was willing to sacrifice his own life in order to stand up to the corrupt politicians and religious leaders of the day. What was holy about him was that he was a complete pacifist who advocated compassion and forgiveness instead of the norms for the day violence and vengeance. That he may have had a son is irrelevant to me. That he might not have 'physically' risen from the dead is irrelevant to me. He was on of the first Anarchists (look up the real meaning, keep looking if you find the standard definition). I'm surprised more people don't separate what he did and said from what others did and said in his name.

Geoffrey said...

oh, and I would also suggest that Pantheism and Panentheism are completely copascetic (spelling?) with pacifism and non-violence advocated by Jesus and his core disciples.

Anonymous said...

Fair enough. . .But does the fact that scientists are "stuck" trying to dissect the laptop, and the "spiritual" simply accept that there was a creator make the laptop any less created? Granted, many of the assertions may be wrong in the beginning, but true Christianity shouldn't be a stagnant set of beliefs.

It disappoints me that many twist Christianity so. It almost disappoints me as much that many who claim to be "scientists" discredit all based on the beliefs or actions of the majority.

RockLobster said...

@Geoffrey
"Whether Jesus was resurrected from the grave or not, there seems to be pretty good evidence that all but one of his disciples were tortured to death for insisting that indeed they had seen him very much alive after he had been hung from a cross and put into a tomb. Unless you believe that the whole Bible is fiction."

Many attributes of Jesus Christ, as well as many other crucified and resurrected "man-gods" throughout religious history, are based on pagan mythology. Pagan religions were based on sun worship.
For instance, many of the world's crucified god men have their traditional birthday on December 25th ("Christmas"). This is because the ancients recognized that (from an earthcentric perspective) the sun makes an annual descent southward until December 21st or 22nd, the winter solstice, when it stops moving southerly for three days and then starts to move northward again. During this time, the ancients declared that "God's sun" had "died" for three days and was "born again" on December 25th. So Xmas really is the Birthday of the SUN/SON in every way.
The ancients realized quite abundantly that they needed the sun to return every day and that they would be in big trouble if the sun continued to move southward and did not stop and reverse its direction. Thus, these many different cultures celebrated the "sun of God's" birthday on December 25th.
In reality, the sun "dies" for three days on December 22nd, the winter solstice, when it stops in its movement south, to be born again or resurrected on December 25th, when it resumes its movement north. For those three days it might be said the Sun is in the grave.
In December, the Virgin, the constellation Virgo precedes sunrise and thus, "Behold, a Virgin shall bring forth the sun/son," would be part of the story in the heavens. Matthew literalized the story in his reaching back into Isaiah for a story about a young woman that had virtually nothing to do with the prophecy of a literal virgin birth or Jesus himself.
Read this article for more info:

http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Original-Sun-of-God&id=93709

Geoffrey said...

For the record, I would consider myself a Bah'ai or Unitarian Universalist if I were to subscribe to a particular faith, and I realize that Christianity borrowed from previous faiths (Paganism included). Actually, the more I think about it, even Siddhartha was a bit of an Anarchist.

I agree that the virgin birth was metaphor. Actually if you are interested in more interpretations of current events you may wish to check out my blog at http://blog.myspace.com/opticecho.

All the best,
Geoff (Virgo ;)

Anonymous said...

. . .well, the Bible said that the shepherds were in the fields at the time of Jesus birth. Despite the whole "Christmas" view of things, shepherds weren't likely to be out in the field in December. So while your story seems to correlate to the prevailing belief, that belief in itself is based on bad data. Therefore, you can't disprove what never was.

Geoffrey said...

Hmm, that articles been taken down. Anyhow, funny someone should mention "u.f.o.'s" considering people throughout history have made art and passed down stories of 'lights in the sky' that weren't just stars or asteroids (also, plenty of unexplained phenomenon like ancient batteries in the Baghdad area). To an ancient poet such lights might be called 'chariots of Angels' or something along those lines. But we'll see I suppose.

RockLobster said...

@Geoffrey said...
"Hmm, that articles been taken down."

Were you referring to this article:

http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Original-Sun-of-God&id=93709

It's still there....

BTW, here's some other interesting tidbits from the article that illustrate how Christ's attributes are based on sun-worshipping pagan myths:

The sun is the "Light of the World." Just as Jesus.

The sun "cometh on clouds, and every eye shall see him." Just as Jesus.

The sun rising in the morning is the "Savior of mankind." Just as Jesus.

The sun wears a corona, "crown of thorns" or halo. Just as Jesus.

The sun "walks on water." Just as Jesus.

The sun can turn water (rain) into wine (grapes) Just as Jesus.

The sun's "followers," "helpers" or "disciples" are the 12 months and the 12 signs of the zodiac or constellations, through which the sun must pass. Just as Jesus.

The sun at 12 noon is in the house or temple of the "Most High"; thus, "he" begins "his Father's work" at "age" 12. Just as Jesus.

The sun enters into each sign of the zodiac at 30°; (30x12=360 degrees) hence, the "Sun of God" begins his ministry at "age" 30. Just as Jesus.

The sun is hung on a cross or "crucified," which represents its passing through the equinoxes, the vernal equinox being Easter, at which time it is then resurrected. Just as Jesus.

Anonymous said...

I just attempted to submit a really long post replying to Anonymous.. "Fair enough. . .But does the fact that scientists are "stuck" trying to dissect the laptop, and the "spiritual" simply accept that there was a creator make the laptop any less created?" But for some reason it did not work... hmmm.

Instead of attempting to resubmit it... I'd like to converse these ideas via email. I think it would be more efficient than attempting to find and reply to posts on this long comments list. Anyone that would like to actually discuss these ideas to benefit understanding on either side... feel free to email me at atheistnow@gmail.com

Jacob said...

Hebrews 11:1 says that, "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." In that sense, I think faith - by its very nature - lies just beyond that which empirical data or historical fact can substantiate. That is not to say that it goes against those things, it just cannot be proven by us, human beings.

There are three things that are fundamental to Christianity that there is no empirical evidence for: creatio ex nihilo (creation from nothing), a personal God, and resurrection from the dead. I point this out as a Christian who believes in all three. Faith wouldn't be faith if we had a pile of evidence in front of us.

That said, let's return to Hebrews 11:1. If faith is the substance of things HOPED for and the evidence of things NOT SEEN, then let's be honest; the big bang is nothing more than faith.

Geoffrey said...

Indeed the article has materialized out of the ether (must not have copied the entire link my first try).

I am reminded of a chant from the Illuminatus! Trilogy--"There is only One God, He is the Sun God, Ra Ra Ra." I think that there are certain archetypes that show up over and over. For example, Buddhas are recognized as "Enlightened." That there is a halo of light around many Buddhist sculptures' heads much the same as around the head of Avatars like Krishna in many depictions is not a coincidence.

Jesus was indeed One with the Creator as he had broken down the illusion of separation from God. Most people aren't able to do this until death if at all. I think that Jesus would have been classified more as a Panentheist though, as he acknowledged that there was a 'parallel universe' where there is no death and suffering, and complete pacifism is a guaranteed key to the gates of the Kingdom of Heaven (the same Paradise Muhammed told his followers that they could achieve if they followed the 5 Pillars--of course just as many Christians misinterpreted his teachings, the same thing happens with many Muslims).

I see what you are saying about the article, about more 'coincidences,' but might I suggest that there are truly no 'coincidences' and that the universe unfolds in such a way that all or much of what is written in the article can be true as well as the fact that there was a man named Jesus who's life manifested many too-similar-to-be-coincidental traits.

Regarding "Hebrews 11:1. If faith is the substance of things HOPED for and the evidence of things NOT SEEN,"

I agree 100% with what this verse says. I am more of a Panentheist than a strict Pantheist, as I do have Faith that if I adhere 100% to Jesus' teachings of pacifism I will be given the world I hope for (where love reigns). The 'Lord's Prayer' holds the key. Complete selflessness, and faith that God's Messengers message of love, forgiveness, charity, (the 'Golden Rule") will allow you to be reborn from this world of suffering into a world without suffering.

Geoffrey said...

Oh, and 'life giving spirit' can be understood as 'live giving breath' since spirit translates from Latin to breath. You may notice that Buddhists practice deep breathing as part of their path to 'enlightenment.'

Geoffrey said...

Woops, didn't really answer the first poster's question properly.

Because Jesus' message of love and pacifism and tolerance was a 'mental worm' if you will, or a 'program' that diffuses the mental sickness/virus that is killing/causing suffering in much of humanity.

It can be tested by following his teachings of pacifism (do unto others what you would have them do unto you), and if you are killed for rejecting the violence of this world, you will pass the test.

A more immediate test would be to give to others in the spirit of selflessness (karma means action in Sanskrit, and just as science teaches us, action cannot be separated from the reaction), and see how it helps others. You'll probably get an endorphin rush from giving as it literally makes you feel pleasure (but don't give to feel pleasure, as that defeats the purpose and spirit of selflessness).

So, Jesus' spirit (or life-force), lives on in the hearts and minds of others and can lead people to 'salvation' from the world of suffering and death we now live in.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of faith, in a Hebrews 11:1 context, you evolutionists have us beat.

First, a facet of science is that it is supposed to be a study of that which observable and repeatable. It is supposed to be a study that uses inductive reasoning (evidence speaks for itself) instead of deductive reasoning (use facts to prove a preconceived idea).

I have no issue with microevolution, mind you. Small changes do occur within organisms; it's a fact based on observation and it's repeatable. Every time animals are bred, for instance, it results in observable and repeatable changes which can be passed on to the next generation. (Artificial Selection is actually an argument for Intelligent Design, but I digress). In fact, Jacob in the Old Testament book of Genesis is described breeding cattle, which in no way violates Genesis 1, where organisms reproduce after their own kind.

I do have issues with macroevolution, however. Where is the observation of this? It certainly isn't happening in front of our eyes, even though we've had 150 years since Darwin to see it somewhere. Darwin said the fossil record would bear him out. Guess what? There have been billions of cataloged fossils. Never has there been a transitional form from one species to another in any of the record.

What about life from non-life? How do you even hazard a guess about that one without being completely ad-hoc?

Until macroevolution has been observed and repeated in nature and shows many, many examples of transitional forms and shows us life coming from non-life, it's all just faith, not science.

These are the bare bones basics that have to all be proven together for macroevolution to be called science.

Observable? Repeatable? Science or faith?

Anonymous said...

One day a group of scientists got together and decided that man had come a long way and no longer needed God. So they picked one scientist to go and tell Him that they were done with Him.

The scientist walked up to God and said, "God, we've decided that we no longer need you. We're to the point that we can clone people and do many miraculous things, so why don't you just go on and get lost."

God listened very patiently and kindly to the man and after the scientist was done talking, God said, "Very well, how about this, let's say we have a man making contest." To which the scientist replied, "OK, great!"

But God added, "Now, we're going to do this just like I did back in the old days with Adam."

The scientist said, "Sure, no problem" and bent down and grabbed himself a handful of dirt.

God just looked at him and said, "No, no, no. You go get your own dirt!"


I believe that Jesus Christ is Lord. Science would have you believe everything came from rocks....that you, turtles, bananas, and spiders all evolved from, what? Oh yea, primordial soup (water and rocks). This is taught as "factual" when it really is “faith” no different from any other religion.

This isn't to say anything about the millions of variables that have to exist for life to survive here on earth (magnetic field of the earth, solvent properties of H2O, perfect distance from the sun, moon being perfectly sized/distance from earth) etc...all of which if you take one variable out the whole thing fails.

But science would have you believe that given enough years, an infinite number of monkeys, typing on infinite number of typewriters, over an infinite time period will eventually produce a complete Encyclopedia Britannica.

I really don’t care if atheists want to use science to try to convince us believers we are wrong. What I find most laughable (aside from the downright silly theories they come up with) is how atheists tend to try to put science up on some pillar of nobility and purity --as if it is above scrutiny because of the Scientific Method.

Science in a religion as much as Christianity, or any other faith. Can they show any proof of evolution? Nope. Can they replicate the formation of living cells from inorganic material? Nope. How about a reasonable explanation of where the universe came from? Oh right….it came from a big bang, where “nothingness” exploded into everything we see today. Takes quite a bit of faith to buy into those theories no?

Anonymous said...

@Geoffrey
"I do have Faith that if I adhere 100% to Jesus' teachings of pacifism I will be given the world I hope for (where love reigns). The 'Lord's Prayer' holds the key. Complete selflessness, and faith that God's Messengers message of love, forgiveness, charity, (the 'Golden Rule") will allow you to be reborn from this world of suffering into a world without suffering."

Forgive me for saying, but as a Christian I take a little issue with this viewpoint. While these teachings are important, they have little to do with your salvation. Unless I read the Bible wrong (could be, as I am a new Christian) I cannot imagine what "actions" I can do on this earth that would "allow me to be reborn from this world".

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast

I read this as meaning that it is my faith in Jesus as my Lord and savior, and the acceptance of his sacrifice on the cross for my sins as the ONLY thing that “will allow you to be reborn from this world”.

I am also reminded of the thief on the cross.
Luke 23:42-43 Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."
So where was the thief’s acts of selflessness and pacifism? It was his belief in Christ, and only that belief that saved him. It certainly wasn’t anything he did on earth.

One final thought is about how all religions are the same and they all lead to the same God. I categorically reject this view as false and certainly not a Christian teaching. Even if one ignores the teachings of Jesus Christ when he said “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) which makes any other deity an impossibility, other major religions are too divergent from Christianity to even be remotely leading to the same place (Hinduism, Taoism, and Islam are but a few examples).

Just a few thoughts….

Geoffrey said...

Hi Anonymous,
You are on the One true path. Don't think that is what I am saying. But might I suggest a loving God would offer One true path to all the peoples of the world, as a loving God doesn't want anyone to suffer. So, keep your faith, and if you are ever in danger in this life, remember the sacrifice Jesus made for you.
At the same time, please, for the love of God, remember the 10 commandments Moses delivered from God. Do your best not to kill or steal or worship any God but Him. Feel free to talk with others about your faith, try to convince them, but if they will not listen, there is no need to get angry or call for a Crusade in Jesus' name.
But you are right, God grants the people the Grace to transcend, to become better, to forgive.
All the best, Geoff

bc said...

Giving up on faith is hard, at first. Once you do, however, it becomes painfully obvious how pervasive and domineering christianity is in US culture. But it becomes easier once you realize that belief in a christian god is no different than belief in zeus, or apollo, or any other mythological god. Do you feel out of sorts for not believing in zeus? Of course not.
My own thinking has allowed me to move on from the out-dated and the incorrect thinking of christianity.
Anyone can.

Geoffrey said...

Hi BC,
When you started at 'Hogwarts' and put on the 'sorting hat' it appears you were put into a different 'house.' If you didn't read or see the Harry Potter books/movies, forgive the inappropriate analogy. You might want to check out the wikipedia articles about the Bah'ai community, just to see what it is they are talking about. Or perhaps you might want to look into Buddhism. Or whatever, stay an atheist. But I doubt you will want to stop thinking critically. I doubt you will want to just give up. I suspect you intuitively know that there are some actions that are 'wrong' and others that are 'right.' Maybe I am mistaken.
All the best.

Craig said...

Someone said, 2 + 2 doesn't equal 5, but it could using "very large values of two" like 2.4.

I don't get it. And I don't get why "significant figures" matter.

The idea stated was "2 + 2 = 4". 2.4 is not 2. It is not "a large value of two". The only value of 2, is 2. 2.4 is two plus part of a third. It's not 2 at all -- it's a little bit less than 3.

So yes, only 2 + 2 = 4

Carry on.

ciaociao said...

To Geoffrey
I'm confused of your last post. What does being an atheist have anything to do with your comment about knowing right from wrong? All atheism is is not believing in magic, but using sound reasoning and fact based knowledge. How does being an atheist automatically equate with not having morals? Religion is not the source of morality. Common sense will tell any person what is right and what is wrong.

Geoffrey said...

Hi Ciaociao,
Sorry to confuse, not my intent. What I was meaning to say was that you can learn a lot about other people when you learn about them, what motivates them, what they believe, and what it is that is dictating their actions.

I agree 100% that people who call themselves atheists or agnostics can live a 'moral' life. But an intolerant (ignorant) atheist is no better than an intolerant (ignorant) theist. I am not calling you or the other person intolerant or ignorant, but I do understand that ignorance is abound in the minds of the people of the world today.

For a person calling themselves an atheist (or empiricist), it is in their best interest to study all the facts and come up with conclusions. One of the facts is that there are many people who have faith in religions. I realize there are a couple of 'types' of atheists as well as 'agnostics.' Many of those people lack 'faith' for a number of reasons. One reason is that people who claim to be adherents to the various faiths of the world do some pretty crappy things to each other in the name of their religion, and those people are hypocrites.

But there are also people who adhere to their faiths and live moral lives. Hope this clears up my position. And in no way am I equating being an atheist as not having morals, though there are certainly atheists who lack morals. Kind regards.

Anonymous said...

Hey, thanks for an interesting article and even more interesting comments.
2.4 + 2.4 = 5 ?
That might be an interesting question, but I believe that the answer depends only from point of view, or the mathematical system you are using, or the common agreement. (I believe that there is a universal mathematica rules, but in some countrys they might be very slightly different) so
2.4 + 2.4 = 5 and 4 whatever you like, it doesn't change anything
your oppinion is not important :)

P.S sorry for bad english, I am not a native speaker

Anonymous said...

only when scientific theory is applied, and only when dealing with large values of two (2.4 or lower, becuse 2.5 would round to 3 - and we all KNOW 3+2=5)

Eric Michael Johnson said...

I've greatly enjoyed reading all of the comments about my post. I find it interesting how challenged so many people can be by a little joke. Is faith really that fragile? As I made clear in my longer post, I was raised religiously myself and don't have much problem with moderate Christianity. I just don't think it has any role in science.

You needn't fear atheism as a challenge to religion. The fundamentalists are doing a much better job at tearing down your belief system. Let me quote one such individual who I write about at my recent post Armageddon is a Great Day in Idaho.

"I keep hearing that the Christians are supposed to be tolerant and peaceful. Have you ever heard the name Jesus? He was not tolerant of 'strange gods' and false religions. The Bible strongly holds the position that other gods were to be put down, their idols destroyed, shame on us for even letting anyone be involved in our Government in any fashion, who denies the Lordship of Jesus Christ, tolerance is not a Bible word, and it surely is not a Jehovah God word. It may belong in some religions but not Christianity. We are not to tolerate other gods! Why isn't this concept clear to all christians?"

How many of you will be as outraged by that blasphemy as you were about 2+2=5?

Chuck Blanchard said...

Eric:

Thanks for your comment and your original posts. I for one laughed at the joke and found your post on faith and science quite interesting and challenging.

Quite frankly, I think that moderate and progressive Chrsitians do have less to fear from our atheist brothers and sisters than the extremists among the faithful. I value a secular and pluralistic society--they do not.

geoffrey said...

Hi Eric,
I do not feel challenged at all by the quote from that book, though I would contend that the author didn't understand Jesus or his message very well. I'm not trying to convert you or anything of the sort.
Jesus lived in a time when there wasn't a great library of human knowledge readily at the fingertips of most of the world (the internet, public education, etc). He was a supposedly a carpenter and thus not a 'learned' man.
Not a lot is written about where he went and what he was doing between the ages of ~12 and ~30. Some people postulate he traveled to the 'east' and studied with Yogis. Eh, who knows?
A Hindu or a Christian who understands their faith or belief system would all suggest that worshiping material idols (like money, or gold statues of cows) is just silly. Does money spare anyone from death?
Any rational person can also see that the systems of 'social justice' that we have developed and implemented over time just aren't working, whether those systems are called 'Sharia law' or are written in the annals of American law books. Look at how many prisons and prisoners there are and look at all the laws that we try to impose to punish those who would break the man-made laws. Crime and violence is at the very core of the actions of a large number of the people of the world.
Did Jesus ever tell people to submit to him, to bow to him? I remember that he served others, like for example washing the feet of someone, like trying to convince others that social punishment is not a solution ('let he who is without sin cast the first stone'), and telling the adulterer that she should avoid future actions which may bring the wrath of ignorant people. He tried to get people to live by the 'golden rule' by trying to inspire people to be selfless rather than selfish.
Again, I really am not afraid of atheism or atheists, nor am I afraid of fundamentalists who betray their faith. I am completely tolerant of atheists, and had there been 'atheists' in Jesus' time, I suspect he would have felt the same way. Atheism was a term that didn't even exist to my knowledge until much later. I may be wrong. Whatever.
And like Chuck, I value a secular and pluralistic society, but I think that we can only hope to achieve a peaceful society if we are at peace with the others who live in it, whether they are religious or not.

Kind regards,
Geoff

geoffrey said...

In response to the potential questions that could come from my previous post:

I said "Does money spare anyone from death?" And of course a rational person would argue that no one is spared from death. But wealth is fleeting and cannot be taken to an 'afterlife' if you believe in such a thing. You could be buried with gold like a pharaoh, but if gold is used as the currency for society, then this deprives others of currency that could be used to trade. Or, rather than hoard wealth, it could be spread around to help those who need it most. Would an intolerant person make friends with the most vial of all Roman citizens, the tax collector?

Within the context of a society who had a particular religion (Judaism), and another larger society which had roots in paganism (Rome and by extension Greece), Jesus would have talked to the people in the framework of their established religion(s). Since Baha'ullah hadn't come along yet to reveal the continuum of religions, Jesus would not necessarily have appeared tolerant to someone completely detached from the situation by 2000 years.

I believe that that Jesus understood that there is a universal justice which many people are ignorant of.

Sorry for the double post,
Geoff

geoffrey said...

Ok, I promise I won't respond to myself again, but I was trying to post this link on a so-called "scientist's" blog in response to the assertion that Darwin's theory of evolution "IS pretty much proven." When in reality, there are many holes in said theory, which did present some very valid observations. The blogger has not posted my comment, implying to me that he is afraid of information which may present shortcomings of his world view.

Basically, what this link shows is that 'atheists' and 'theists' who are so stubborn and set in their views are both ignorant, and betray their respective missions in life. What kind of scientist would ignore tests which refute a theory or parts of that theory? Theories are allowed to evolve and change. Of particular interest is the video at the bottom of the link.

http://www.netscape.com/viewstory/2007/08/15/-atheists-vs-
agnostics-vs-religionists-or-are-they-all-the-same/?url=http%3A
%2F%2Fdulyconsider.com%2F2007%2F08%2Fatheists-vs-agno
stics-vs-religionists.html&frame=true


Kind regards,
Geoffrey

steve said...

x = 2.5
x+x = 4 and x+x = 5 depends if you round up or down