Opinion by Chris Stedman, special to CNN
(CNN) - To some, Oprah Winfrey appears to have an almost godlike status. Her talents are well recognized, and her endorsement can turn almost any product into an overnight bestseller.
This godlike perception is fitting, since in recent years Winfrey’s work has increasingly emphasized spirituality, including programs like her own "Super Soul Sunday."
But what happens when an atheist enters the mix?
A few days ago Winfrey interviewed long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad on Super Soul Sunday. Nyad identified herself as an atheist who experiences awe and wonder at the natural world and humanity.
Nyad, 64, who swam from Cuba to Key West last month, said “I can stand at the beach’s edge with the most devout Christian, Jew, Buddhist, go on down the line, and weep with the beauty of this universe and be moved by all of humanity — all the billions of people who have lived before us, who have loved and hurt.”
Winfrey responded, “Well I don’t call you an atheist then.”
Winfrey went on, “I think if you believe in the awe and the wonder and the mystery then that is what God is… It’s not a bearded guy in the sky.”
Nyad clarified that she doesn’t use the word God because it implies a “presence… a creator or an overseer.”
Winfrey’s response may have been well intended, but it erased Nyad’s atheist identity and suggested something entirely untrue and, to many atheists like me, offensive: that atheists don’t experience awe and wonder.
MORE ON CNN: Diana Nyad completes historic Cuba-to-Florida swim
The exchange between Winfrey and Nyad reminds me of a conversation I once had with a Catholic scholar.
The professor once asked me: “When I talk about God, I mean love and justice and reconciliation, not a man in the sky. You talk about love and justice and reconciliation. Why can’t you just call that God?”
I replied: “Why must you call that God? Why not just call it what it is: love and justice and reconciliation?”
Though we started off with this disagreement, we came to better understand one another’s points of view through patient, honest dialogue.
Conversations like that are greatly needed today, as atheists are broadly misunderstood.
MORE ON CNN: Behold, the six types of atheists
When I visit college and university campuses around the United States, I frequently ask students what words are commonly associated with atheists. Their responses nearly always include words like “negative,” “selfish,” “nihilistic” and “closed-minded.”
When I ask how many of them actually have a relationship with an atheist, few raise their hands.
Relationships can be transformative. The Pew Research Center found that among the 14% of Americans who changed their mind from opposing same-sex marriage to supporting it in the last decade, the top reason given was having “friends, family, acquaintances who are gay/lesbian.”
Knowing someone of a different identity can increase understanding. This has been true for me as a queer person and as an atheist. I have met people who initially think I can’t actually be an atheist when they learn that I experience awe and am committed to service and social justice.
But when I explain that atheism is central to my worldview — that I am in awe of the natural world and that I believe it is up to human beings, instead of a divine force, to strive to address our problems — they often better understand my views, even if we don’t agree.
While theists can learn by listening to atheists more, atheists themselves can foster greater understanding by not just emphasizing the “no” of atheism — our disagreement over the existence of any gods — but also the “yes” of atheism and secular humanism, which recognizes the amazing potential within human beings.
Carl Sagan, the agnostic astronomer and author, would have agreed with Nyad’s claim that you can be an atheist, agnostic or nonreligious person and consider yourself “spiritual.”
As Sagan wrote in "The Demon-Haunted World,":
"When we recognize our place in an immensity of light‐years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual.”
Nyad told Winfrey that she feels a similar sense of awe:
“I think you can be an atheist who doesn’t believe in an overarching being who created all of this and sees over it,” she said. “But there’s spirituality because we human beings, and we animals, and maybe even we plants, but certainly the ocean and the moon and the stars, we all live with something that is cherished and we feel the treasure of it.”
MORE ON CNN: 'Atheist' isn’t a dirty word, congresswoman
I experience that same awe when I see people of different beliefs coming together across lines of religious difference to recognize that we are all human — that we all love and hurt.
Perhaps Winfrey, who could use her influence to shatter stereotypes about atheists rather than reinforce them, would have benefited from listening to Nyad just a bit more closely and from talking to more atheists about awe and wonder.
I know many who would be up to the task.
Chris Stedman is the assistant humanist chaplain at Harvard University, coordinator of humanist life for the Yale Humanist Community and author of Faitheist: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious.
Personally, agreed. Point being, so, I am thinking that we should all confront snake and insist she apologize for her violent threats and together let her know how everyone one of us will not stand for that kind of illegal behavior again.
You agree, point being, so, right Observer?
You need to grow the heck up already, and stop stealing names in the name of Jesus. Point being, you're a hypocrite, and you have no credibility.
I recommend repentance, fasting and unceasing prayer
When u realize u r blind, sight is around the corner. God holds u in the palm of his hand while u seek for him like mad; all the while u blindly travel nowhere fast when all u r looking for surrounds and sustains u
Deductive reasoning should point anyone with an opened mind toward a creator. The shear complexity and diversity of intelligent life eliminates any possibility of this complexity and diversity occurring without someone orchestrating it. It would be the same as saying a symphony can be created without an intelligent mind creating the precise instruments, without intelligent minds wielding the instruments and a without a maestro directing the intelligent minds. In fact claiming life can occur by mere chance and coincidence without any director is far more incredulous because as complex as a symphony can become, it does not even come close to the complexity and precision of life.
Then who created the immensely complex and intelligent creator?
Or Shirley. Could a been Shirley.
Your assuming God needs a creator. Whatever BEGINS to exist, must have a cause. Since God is eternal, He doesn't need a cause.
Why assume that god is eternal? And why assume that all things that begin to exist must have a cause? Are you familiar with the properties evident in quantum fields? Virtual particles pop in and out of existence trillions of times each second at every possible point in the universe. No cause that we can determine. It may as well be magic, but we know that it occurs.
You're just assuming what you want to in order to continue to believe what you want to with no other good reasons. You're not interested in scientific fact or logical deduction, you're interested in your talking points.
But while you're doing al that stupid sh!t, why not get the "your" / "you're" distinction down, m'kay?
Nope – you can't say the amazing universe must have a creator – but that something more complex than the universe – an all powerful being able to create a universe from nothing – doesn't require a creator.
And you are assuming that a creator is synonymous with a god
Who says God is eternal? Sure it's in the Bible, but that's only the opinion of some ancient men about the god they worship. How could such a being actually exist?
The deductive reasoning of ancient humans led them to believe in creators. It's quite understandable how scientifically naive people would reason that a super-human was responsible for everything. Now that we can understand many of the mechanisms that allow the universe to function, belief in god is left firmly in the realm of wishful thinking or ignorance.
Well said, Tallulah. Well said. Amen
@aallen333, It's easy to to be incredulous. Consider the vast scale of time. Success is rewarded with survival and reproduction over time. Failure is less likely to propagate. Success builds upon previous gains...constantly but randomly improving over eons...billions of years. Have you considered how many average human lifetimes a hundred, thousand, million or billion years is? How many summer days?
We see patterns because brains are organic self programming pattern matching machines.
If you could repeat your life a hundred million times in a changing environment and rarely repeat the same mistakes, and slowly but constantly improve your performance what could you become in those endless summers?
Get out and buy the new comic book series on atheist superheros!
Looks like the atheist superheros use the same straw man fallacies.
"They interfere with humanity because the BLIND FAITH of mankind makes them powerful...and that's why our DOUBT is our greatest weapon."
Christians don't have a blind faith. Faith means to have trust and confidence. And doubt is not the opposite of faith, unbelief is.
Paul, The creation myths of all religions are not correct; science including Big Bang and evolution shows us that. The creation myths are the "credentials" of that religion's god(s) and therefore religions based upon a personal god are built on a flimsy foundation.
O Santa baby, beautiful. Gosh. Perfectly put
"The creation myths of all religions are not correct; science including Big Bang and evolution shows us that."
The Big Bang theory shows us that the universe had a beginning. The Bible says the universe has a beginning. The Bible says animals reproduce after their own kind. Science shows that animals reproduce after their own kind. What's never been observed is one kind of animal giving rise to another kind of animal. But yet evolutionists believe, yes believe, that it happened sometime in the past.
Paul, you should educate yourself more to stop from looking so foolish in your comments.
The Big Bang does not prove that the universe had a beginning. The Big Bang is an ongoing process that strongly, strongly implies that at one time the universe was infinitely tiny and hot and dense. We simply don't know if the universe had a beginning, because we cannot measure any time before the initial expansion.
There is no such thing as "kind," you stupid moron. If you want to discuss scientific facts, perhaps you had better talk about actual classifications of flora and fauna and make your silly point that has been disproved a half a million times in the past decade.
I've heard it many times before, in order to trust what the Bible says about God you first have to assume that God exists, blindly. Or vice versa, blindly assume that the Bible is true first and then take it at its word about God. Either way, Christians are told to believe in God first and then God will "reveal" himself to them. How is that not starting from a position of blind faith?
S.H.O.O.T. – The Secular Humanist Occult Obliteration Taskforce
The Humanist Manifest explicitly states that it's a religion of humanism. Even the Supreme Court ruled that secular humanism is a religion. I thought atheists claim to be non-religious. So why do some join the religion of secular humanism?
This will clear up your misunderstanding about Secular Humanism and prove you simply wrong.
The article said nothing about the fact that the Humanist Manifesto explicitly states that it's a religion.
Oh, no thanks. If you want a really great graphic novel series, try the one based on Stephen King's Dark Tower books. The art is just amazing.
In the DC comics universe Batman is an atheist, while Wonder Woman is a polytheist who believes (and interacts with) the Greek Gods. She was even a Goddess there for a while.
In both the DC and Marvel comics universes Catholic superheroes tend to be the darker, more violent ones.
Our celibate youth group is out and proud!
Thanks for your support to these outstanding youth who have chosen to reject the
lies spread through social media and have jettisoned fornication.
With "eyes set like flint" on the Lord they will prevail!
Beware of AMATEURS "practicing psychology'.
The PROFESSIONALS say it's not a good thing to try to make gays feel guilty and change them.
What church do you belong to, because I find this an unlikely claim and suspect you are lying.
The lying liar, the fraud of frsuds, questions someone's honesty.
Prophecies which came true – Floods, earthquakes, Pope Benedict resignation. Watch and find out what is really going on.
Oh Diana... You stepped into it (twice!) and Oprah rightfully called you on it! Why identify yourself as atheist and then shy away from it? Disclaimer: I didn't see the whole interview and I am basing my comment solely on what I saw in the CNN clip. Diana said: "My definition of God is... (humanity)". I am sorry, but that implies belief in God, whatever one thinks a god may be. Then she tweets: "So, God is love..." That's even more affirmative statement on existence of God! God IS – therefore God EXISTS. If I didn't know that Diana declares herself as atheist, I would think she is in some way religious based on those statements. Oprah rightfully challenged her on it from a philosophical and logical aspect and I would do the same. There is no reason to soften our non-belief to appease a believer by ridiculous statements such as: God is love, God is humanity, God is an ocean, God is a race car, God is a PS3, God is this and that. We already have the words for these concepts and there is no need to muddy the discussion. As atheists, our stance is very very simple – we do not believe in the existence of any gods or other supernatural beings. Oprah does not owe an apology to anyone; rather, Diana needs to rephrase her statements and stop using the " God IS ___" phrase.
If you are concerned with missing comments please take a moment to contact CNN technical support:
--->What I reported:
There seems to be a technical issue with comments on the CNN wordpress blog:
Many are reporting hundreds of comments are going missing on the blog above. Too many comments are missing to attribute the problem to individuals abusing the "report abuse" feature.
We are unable to contact wordpress to resolve the issue.
We are using this link:
to report the issue.
Please route this issue to the appropriate wordpress support and IT security personnel.
Thank you for your attention in this matter.
Reblogged this on Zampaz's Blog and commented:
How many believe Eternal Torture is a justifiable punishment for those who do not believe in Jesus/God.
Not sure if you are aware of an on going problem with this blog, but many comments are being deleted.
Not sure if this is a
a) bug within Word press that allows commenters to misuse the "report abuse" link or,
b) someone(he/she) to whom you have granted the "Moderator" access to moderate posts is misusing this privilege.
We can understand that "spam" must be deleted, but what we observe is otherwise–
in most cases scripture verses posted on faith articles that are relevant to the topic under discussion are getting deleted.
Also, few Christian posters who have responded to comments see their posts vanish. On the other hand You tube videos such as
"12 tribes of Israel", "Neil De grasse", "Hamster wheel", "Benny Hinn" videos, barrage of Scripture verses from "Bob", lengthy posts from "Colin"
that are totally irrelevent to the opinion piece/articles is allowed to stand and is not touched.
Based on this observation, it appears that most Christian posts are getting deleted.
Most of us enjoy reading articles posted on the belief blog and like to share our thoughts and views, but in the absence of tighter controls over comment deletion,
this message board is becoming unpleasant to deal with.
Can you please look into this?
This is truly a problem for believers and non-believers alike. Many of my posts have been deleted and reports come from both sides. I think we'll have to work together to resolve the issue by contacting CNN directly or wordpress if you have a paid account.
Wordpress provides support for paying members:
CNN doesn't seem to have a comment link for the blogs, but here is a link for technical errors:
We've all had posts disappear – it's not a conspiracy. Indeed, I want people on the sidelines to read the logic presented by many of the believers; the willing ignorance of scientific facts merely because they are inconvenient to a believed history, the rationalization of immoralities. I want people to see this.
NDGT: It is indeed sad that the problems persists with no answer as to cause and no respite from the error or vandalism.
I gave up for a while, but came back because I enjoy reading thoughtful and not so thoughtful commentary.
Especially appreciated are your comments regarding the rise of scientific repression caused by a doctrine of ignorance.
Keep up the good work, America is scientifically illiterate and willful ignorance is no excuse.
There has always been a pro-gay, anti-Christian. bias on the part of the CNN moderators.
If enough atheists or gays click the report abuse button, your post will disappear.
Gays and atheists can make personal attacks on posters and the Christian faith on this blog and the posts are never removed.
The bias reflects typical mainstream media cynicism and rejection of morality and religious ethics.
Skip the hypocrisy. You're the hypocrite that keeps posting about wanting to help gays.
Gays are moral Douglas. No doubt about it.
come out of the closet doogie
it will end your self-loathing need for salvation
and it will not scare the kids as much
I have NEVER complained about any of your comments by using "Report abuse". The initial response is from a fake Observer.
Please take the following action to contact CNN:
There seems to be a technical issue with comments on the CNN wordpress blog:
You can also send a copy of the problem to the Co-Editor, daniel.burke@CNN.com
Hard to fathom that he doesn't already know about it, though...
Thank you FYI, will do! Let's get this issue resolved so that we can enjoy engaging each other in polite discourse!
You can also send a copy of the problem to the Co-Editor, daniel.burke@CNN.com and/or eric.marripodi@CNN.com, and heck, you can even tweet to the author, Chris Stedman if you have Twitter.
Hard to believe that they don't already know about it, though...
sorry for the duplicate post - it took a long time for it to appear. Oh well, I added some more stuff anyway.
Correction: make that eric.marrapodi@CNN.com (not marripodi, sorry)
"Of course they do. If they believe the universe and everything in it is just a product of undesigned, undirected process, then why not make up your own rules?"
A common Christian fallacy is falsely claiming that nonbelievers think they have all the answers. Atheists ONLY believe that there is no God or gods. The world could be a "directed process" from an infinite number of other sources. We could all be avatars in a giant cosmic video game for all we know. "I don't know" is a valid answer.
Stick with facts and not wishful thinking.
In point of fact, atheists don't even think we have all the answers on god. We're saying what we believe. You don't have to have proof that something doesn't exist not to believe in it – I have no proof there is no Loch Ness monster, nor do I have proof that there aren't martians well hidden on mars. But I don't believe in them – I have no evidence, no reason to believe, and I don't.
I don't know is a good answer to questions, as is, "All the evidence points to this answer, so I go with that answer until there is a better one". To do otherwise, to say, "I don't know, therefore god" is to worship the god of the gaps in our knowledge – the same god that people worshipped as the god of thunder, before we understood where thunder came from. Not knowing something, yet, doesn't mean that god is the only answer.
Indeed Susan; to answer any question with "god did it" is to close the door to the imagination of "how is this possible?"
I appreciate an honest theist who says "I have faith because I want to have faith." and revile those that refute science and discovery because knowledge and understanding threaten their limited world view. Reality is what it is regardless of our opinion and it requires imagination to understand it.
It is not that the (introspective) Christian believes the atheist to lack honest feelings or sentiments. It is that we recognize the implication that arises in a purely material system: that such emotions lack any sort of metaphysical grounding. They are, in essence, chemical reactions wholly explicable within an evolutionary paradigm.
If you want to "call things what they are," then you must be willing to accept that "love" is merely a biochemical process that is a (mechanistic) response to certain stimuli, and it is ultimately predicated on the prime directive of all biological life: to persist.
It is theism that better explains the emotions we have. Thus it is, in my opinion, a better theory.
That sense of awe and wonder, the thrill of seeing a thing which makes you feel humble in your smallness...this is a part of the human experience. To desire to help those who suffer and are in need of help, to be kind, to love our parents, dogs, cats and teddy bears is part of the human experience. To understand that all personal human experience, consciousness and mind is the result of incredibly complex patterns of neural activity in the brain takes nothing away from that experience.
This understanding affords an opportunity for even more awe and wonder, and for many a desire to ask the question: How is this possible?
Reality is what it is. If you were to ask me: "How is it possible that the sky is blue?" I could easily give you the answer but if you were to ask; "Why is the sky blue?" I have no answer, because "why" requires a justification.
Those who seek justification and absolutes pursue theology.
Those who seek understanding pursue science.
The biochemical process is however a feedback loop that receives information from culture, language, beliefs, etc. It creates a whole that is larger than the sum of its parts. To say that love is merely a biochemical process is akin to saying that a car mechanic, because of her intimate knowledge of car parts, is the best qualified to speak of traffic patterns. While it might be true that if you remove a fuel injector you could theoretically eliminate traffic, you still haven't said anything really useful about traffic. You've simply dressed a tautology and put it out to market.
But theism isn't a theory. You're saying you'd PREFER to believe in something that suits you emotionally, even though it has no evidence. That's not a theory.
And just because you can understand some of the biochemistry and evolutionary roots of our behavior and emotions, does not make them meaningless. You should try stepping outside of your point of view – as you ask others to – and consider that knowing that Santa is your parents doesn't eliminate the magic of Santa, it enhances it.
19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse
Psalm 14 Fools say in their hearts there is no God. Their deeds are loathsome and corrupt, not one of them does what is right. Not believing is evil. Jesus said the most important thing to do was to love God with your whole heart,mind soul, second was loving your neighbor. He also explained if you are not with him you are against him, which is why atheism and satanism are so similar. Can atheists be good people no they cannot, can they change yes they can and they can be forgiven and turn to God, it happens more than we realize.
Self affirming garbage.
Odd that a religion that is supposedly teaching love for your fellow man, name calls any who do not believe the wild ( many proven false) claims of the bible.
Standard brainwashing/indoctrination technique.
and by the way, I am an atheist and I am a good person. To say otherwise, especially since you do not know me, is bearing false witness...one of your top 10 no-no's.
Yes, atheists can be good but they have no logical reason to be so. To prove my point: How do you define good? How do you define right and wrong?
"Yes, atheists can be good but they have no logical reason to be so. To prove my point: How do you define good? How do you define right and wrong?'
You define right and wrong by the standards of the society you are in and your own experiece.
That's why so MANY Christians don't believe the Bible when it comes to slavery and discriminations.
Use some logic in the future.
Post by 'Paul' presents a Straw Man argument.
Good: of greatest sustainable benefit to the most people, where benefit is reduction of suffering and, at the same time, enhancement of the possibility that people can achieve their common and individual goals
Is it logical to work towards, or in favor of, good? Yes. I assert that it is of benefit to me to do so.
Nice flip plop paul.
" Can atheists be good people no they cannot"
"Yes, atheists can be good but they have no logical reason to be so"
And the second statement is false. We are social animals. Study any social animal, do thye have a logical reason to work together for the common good...of course they do. You have not thought this through.
Come back when you have a cogent argument.
Isn't it logical to expect people to treat you fairly if you build your own reputation for doing so? As a social species we depend on establishing trust with others, and evolution would support the forming of moral systems that help in doing that.
You confused my statement with Michael's. No filp flop
"You define right and wrong by the standards of the society you are in and your own experience."
Do you deny that justice exists? Do you deny that fairness exists? No, you don't. Any neither does a society with different ideas about what is is right and wrong. The standard is objective. The only difference is how that standard is applied. Both societies are appealing to a standard outside themselves in the hopes that they'll be justified. But since we don't like to be wrong, we try to justify ourselves in other ways like "morals are relative." But moral relativity is logically bankrupt.
"Study any social animal, do thye have a logical reason to work together for the common good...of course they do. You have not thought this through." – Richard Cranium
So do you always look to the animal kingdom to justify your actions? Are you saying that if it happens among animals that it's OK for humans to do it?
Paul: "Do you deny that justice exists? Do you deny that fairness exists? No, you don't. "
As some kind of objective ent-ity separate from nature and the ability it has afforded us to have consensus and communal instincts on such concepts? No I don't believe such a purely objective ent-ity exists. If you can demonstrate such objectivity without subjectivity, I'd love to hear it.
Paul (Twist-It4Him): "So do you always look to the animal kingdom to justify your actions?"
It doesn't take a rocket scientist, Paul, for us to see ourselves at the top of the ladder in the brain-power on this planet currently. But I believe we can just as easily see that if we ignore the obvious developmental similarities and abilities we have with our fellow creatures on this planet, we easily can let our heads become larger than they really are so to speak. We start coming up with such notions as "the universe was made with us in mind".
( in the brain-power department )
" But I believe we can just as easily see that if we ignore the obvious developmental similarities and abilities we have with our fellow creatures on this planet,..."
I'm not ignoring the similarities. The similarities point to a common designer.
Common designer as an expression to fit the bill for evolution and things beyond still out of our grasp, Paul? What about that purely objective enti-ty like "justice"? Still having trouble demonstrating that without subjectivitiy/consensus?
Where do you and other Christians get your morals from when you decide that the Bible is immoral in how it supports slavery and other discriminations?
"Where do you and other Christians get your morals from when you decide that the Bible is immoral in how it supports slavery and other discriminations?"
Nice try. You're assuming that that's what I think. It's the atheists that think the Bible is immoral. It's the atheists that think the Bible supports slavery.
"It's the atheists that think the Bible is immoral. It's the atheists that think the Bible supports slavery."
The atheists KNOW that the Bible supports slavery because they have read it. Obviously you haven't. Please do so in order to have a clue. Come back after you've actually read a Bible.
"The atheists KNOW that the Bible supports slavery because they have read it. Obviously you haven't."
I have read the Bible. But since you're the one claiming to be the expert on the Bible and slavery, the onus is on you to provide the evidence. I'm thinking you're just repeating what other atheists who misunderstand the Bible are saying.
The Bible says WHO you can use as slaves, WHERE you can get them, HOW LONG you can have them, how to treat them as PROPERTY and how badly you can HURT them.
Read a Bible.
God's behavior is morally disgusting and his morality is definitely subjective. He breaks his own commandments whenever he wants to because he is the most powerful; might makes right and subjective morality. In essence, you're worshiping a sadistic tyrant.
I don't see why Observer or any other atheist is surprised when Christians lie about the contents of the bible. (Such as god supporting slavery as he did the entire way through the bible). Of course they're going to lie. They think it's okay as long as it's lying for jesus. God gets to break his own commandments, so they think that they get to do the same thing. For all their talk about justice and morality, they all behave just like their god does–pretty much the opposite of his commandments. LOL
Observer, why are you trying to use logic when your opponent doesn't give a sh!t about reasoning or the truth? He knows that his bible supports slavery all the way through. He's lying. Talk past the fvcker...or over him. Once your debate opponent has proved he doesn't care a thing about honest interaction, speak directly to the readers of the thread. They can spot his bvllsh!t.
Leviticus 25 – And the "Lord" spoke to Moses and said:
44 “ you may purchase male and female slaves from among the nations around you.
45 You may also purchase the children of temporary residents who live among you, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property,
46 passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat them as slaves, but you must never treat your fellow Israelites this way."
Hint: The "oh, they were really voluntary indentured gardeners, cooks and and nannies" schtick has already been tried and failed.
U suck dodo/Lisa/alqeada/observer/stonegirl/merediths
"Can atheists be good people no they cannot'
I've never met an atheist that wasn't a moral relativist. Since they create there own definitions of what's right and wrong, they do what is right in their own eyes.
paul: how is this different than christians doing what they feel is right?
at least atheists attribute it to their own sense of right and wrong, rather than proclamations from a dubious authority
"paul: how is this different than christians doing what they feel is right?"
That's a 2 wrongs make a right fallacy. I didn't say all Christians live up to God's standard all of the time. That would be impossible and that's why we need Jesus. But sadly, sometimes Christians do think that they no better than God.
"at least atheists attribute it to their own sense of right and wrong, rather than proclamations from a dubious authority"
Of course they do. If they believe the universe and everything in it is just a product of undesigned, undirected process, then why not make up your own rules?
nonsense answer, paul.
"god's standard's" IS a dubious authority
we all do what we feel is right. some of us have the honesty to attribute it to our own sense of values
deterimining for yourself what is right and wrong is the only legitimate moral stance that one can take. otherwise, you are no more making a moral decision than a dog who doesn't hop up on the couch because he has been told not to
And where did your values come from?
Our values, morals come to us from our animal ancestors. There are many social animals on the planet. They don't have gods and they manage to co-operate, create language and culture...without YOUR god.
The morals and values people possesed were written into the bible and then attributed to a god, but there is no reason to think that any god instilled these ( since there is no evidence of any god).
Men make gods...that we know....thousands of them. You don't believe in the other thousands, why do you think yours is real?
i agree with what richard said. in addition, my morals come from a rational realization of how my choices effect others
"Our values, morals come to us from our animal ancestors."
And where did our animal ancestors get them from?
Correction: And where did your animal ancestors get them from?
Christians aren't nearly as stupid as you apparently think. For instance, like everyone else, most are bright enough to figure out it's not a good idea to go around killing everyone since it will likely come back on you.
They can figure that out without needing a 2,000-year-old book to do their thinking for them. Give them credit for some intelligence.
"They can figure that out without needing a 2,000-year-old book to do their thinking for them."
How would they do that? They can observe what someone's morals ARE, but they can't observe whether something SHOULD or SHOULDN'T be done. That would be an is-ought fallacy.
"How would they do that? They can observe what someone's morals ARE, but they can't observe whether something SHOULD or SHOULDN'T be done. That would be an is-ought fallacy."
Okay. If you want to argue that Christians are too stupid to logically figure out what would happen if everyone went around killing everyone else, I won't argue with you. Fortunately, there are many nonbelievers who are bright enough to figure that out. We can get into a discussion of why you think Christians have no logic at another time.
How's the Bible reading coming along? Read about slaves yet?
"Psalm 14 Fools say in their hearts there is no God."
A quite old and sometimes effective tactic – declaring that those who do not believe your story are 'fools'. Nobody wants to be considered 'dumb' for not seeing the Emperor's new clothes, or a 'bas.tard' for not seeing the Sultan's new turban, or a 'cuckold' for not being able to see the Miller's gold thumb.
Even Joseph Smith used it when he gathered his 'witnesses' to his golden plates. He told them that only those with 'true faith' would be able to 'see' them.
The ancient, primitive Hebrews who originated those Bible stories were quite adept at manipulative mind-games.
Great reply. The Emperor Who Had No Clothes comes to mind.
Maybe that was a good argument back in the ancient days before science could explain nature. What other answer could anyone offer? But things are way different now, and it's completely reasonable to not believe in any gods because there's nothing to have to believe in gods for.
"Maybe that was a good argument back in the ancient days before science could explain nature"
Science is a tool we use to observe and evaluate the world around us. You don't think people were observing things in ancient times?
Paul, Of course they were observing: they thought phenomena such as meteor strikes, shooting stars, eclipses, rainbows, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc. were signs from gods. We know better now so why continue with the superstitions of ancient peoples?
It is sad that you feel others are evil, not because of any harmful act they perform, but simply because of the opinion they have.
Matthew (KJV) 7:5-6
5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
wow, michael...way to phone in a quote!
Same line as every con and every cult ever. "They'll call you fools – but we know the truth, they'll be the ones who are sorry, when the comet comes and our religion is proven the truth!"
Murdock, u got nothing new? Come on babe. Throw in some FSM
Or Santa bull
I was very encouraged to read about the exchange between Professor Scalfari and Pope Benedict. Professor Scalfari is an atheist and pope Francis is the leader of a large church, yet each treated the other with courtesy and respect and each took the other's views seriously. Are there any other places where atheists and believers meet for similar dialogues? I certainly hope so!
annemarie; There are many enlightening discussions on YT where theologians discuss religion and science with various atheist scientists including Richard Dawkins.
YT search: "Richard Dawkins" cardinal OR bishop OR minister OR pastor OR preacher
I respect theologians that understand the histories of the OT/NT, and see the teachings as allegorical.
Those whose recognize and affirm their sole argument for having faith is faith itself.
This position is honest and doesn't attempt to refute natural science.
Theology was humanity's first attempt at understanding our relationship with the universe and led to advances in science.
Honest theologians welcome discussion with atheists. No amount of science will sway their faith and they do not resort to dishonest tactics such as "creation science" to affirm their beliefs.
I encourage all honest discovery, exploration and understanding of our relationship to the universe and to each other.
I see no need to invoke deity or the supernatural as a means of explanation of reality. Reality is what it is.
The sacred isn't about self. Assigning vocabulary to it based on what we want awe and wonder to be is an act of self and the whackos on either end of the atheist/theist divide are hell-bent on seeing it their way. Awe and wonder are meant to be experienced, and awe and wonder don't much care what YOU decide they truly are.
Too Bad, David: The sacred is about self ... and anything else that an individual or collective assign it to be about. If you really think that you are not sacred ... then I suppose that you would be intimate with just any and everyone (in whatever manner it is that you do define intimacy), right?
The real question is: do we need to have anything that is sacred in our society? That is, is there any utility in the idea of sacredness/holiness? Is it what separates us from animals?
When I use the words "sacred responsibility" by sacred I mean highly valued and important.
The word has no implied meaning of deity to me.
Sacred (m-w) 5b: highly valued and important
Well, I pray for all of you that don't believe God exists. It's good that you can see and feel the awesomeness of the things he has created with and without believing in him. It's ok to not understand a Father who loves, cares for, died for, cherishes and also discipline, but just think if there really is life after death and you spend all you life living in this world with the freedom to freely have your own beliefs and then the day comes and you actually have to stand before God and he ask you why should I let you in My Heaven, just think about that, because just how you feel that you answer is right, I think my answer, Jesus is the only way to enter in is right. Having said that one of us is Right and one of us is wrong. And as strongly as you feel about there not being a God, Just imagine dieing and lifting up you eyes in Hell, eternally. Yes God is Love and he don't wat any of us to perish, but he has given us free will to choose Him or to choose Hell.
Religion that is based on threat to survive is an ugly religion. Comparable to Hitler or Stalin who used the same method to keep the population in check. Your words are soothing at the beginning, but the threat is evident at the end. So you yourself follow the same ugly tactic. Ask yourself if your religion did you any good by teaching to think and act this way.
Out of the 10,000 + gods worshiped by man throughout history, what makes you think YOURS is the right one? Also, your concept of "free will" is moot. Since your god is, by doctrine, omniscient, then our outcomes are already known to it. Your god is a sadist if it allows us to be born, live, die, then spent the rest of eternity in perpetual pain torture anguish and suffering, when it knew before we were born where we would end up. And yet "he loves us" .. Your faith is hypocritical.
"Out of the 10,000 + gods worshiped by man throughout history, what makes you think YOURS is the right one?"
From using logic and reason. From studying disciplines like science and history. It's really not that hard to figure out which one is actually real.
Can you explain your reasoning in thinking that any of them are actually real? No "feelings" now, your actual logical, scientific reasoning.
I'll give you 20.
Yeah, you and every believer in every other god says the same thing. Yours is no different from theirs. Personally – the Jews are more consistent (the OT god and NT god are nothing alike, to claim them the same says your god figured out he was wrong in the OT, which eliminates omniscience), and the Muslims have the advantage in gaining converts, and the Hindus is older.
"Yeah, you and every believer in every other god says the same thing."
No they don't. I think you're getting confused because they use similar terminology. While the vocabulary is similar, the dictionaries are different. You need to be more discerning.
Paul, I affirm your right to have faith.
I believe that religion does more harm than good because various doctrines divide humanity.
Some religions would even refute science-the only thing that all humans can test for themselves and agree upon or refute through an agreed upon methodology.
How is it possible that we cherish mythology over the true fact based understanding of nature that science affords?
Paul, There is no evidence that any are real so no logic can differentiate the one you consider real. The religions are all basically the same – our god(s) are real, they created the universe and everything in it, believe in our god(s) and you will be rewarded in the afterlife (patent pending), in the meantime there is a tithe; the marketing is different but you'd expect that else there would be few ways to differentiate the religions.
I left a 20-point response to Paul's video earlier in this thread, but apparently it was among those that have mysteriously been removed. Having already wasted enough time with the video, I'll just list some responses from memory although the order is likely now different from their presentation in the video:
1. Design/Fine-Tuning: ID is akin to arguing the rain water which fills a pothole was "clearly" designed because it so perfectly fits the shape/volume of the pothole. Fine-tuning inversely argues the pothole was "clearly" designed because any slight modification and it would no longer hold that precise shape/volume of rain water. ID had a perfect opportunity to present it's "evidence" at Kitzmiller v. Dover, but crashed and burned. Behe's paper attempting to argue for irreducible complexity in protein-protein interactions showed that evolutionary processes could still produce the target protein-protein interactions despite the fact that he and his co-author contrived to exclude a number of well-known evolutionary mechanisms. Dembski has conceded that his design filter cannot distinguish between "actual" design and "apparent" design; this is because natural selection is itself a non-conscious designer. Examples of evolutionary mechanisms producing novel functionality include Lenski's E. coli, RNA aptamers, the Pod Mrcaru lizards, etc, etc. ID and Fine Tuning = Apophenia. When we look at the human genome, it does not suggest an intelligent designer; quite the contrary. From our defunct gene for egg-yolk production to our 2nd chromosome's superfluous telomeres/centromere to the code and developmental pathways which produce male nip-ples, our genomes are a beautiful mess.
2. Bible historicity, consistency, prophecy, archaeology: Historical fiction which includes actual historical people, places, events, is still fiction. The Bible is not consistent, evident in the many "doublets" which apologists argue "explain" the prior texts (e.g. creation in Gen 1 v. Gen 2). There are too many discrepancies in what should be clearly agreed upon facts (presuming divine inspiration) throughout the Gospels. Nostradamus, Dionne Warwick's "Psychic Hotline," numerous fortune cookies, and weekly horoscopes have had many of their predictions confirmed. Furthermore, it's rather easy to conform to a prediction when you know it what requires. If prophecy were as reliable as claimed, then why the need for categories like "futurist," "historist," "idealist" and "preterist"? Regarding archeology, after centuries of desperate searches, no evidence for the exodus out of Egypt.
3. Biblical copying, timing: Fidelity in copying does not equal validity of the copied stories. If spatial/temporal proximity were a valid indicator of reliability, then the spatial/temporal proximity of Joseph Smith's 11 Witnesses and their affirmations suggest the Book of Mormon is more reliable than the NT.
4. Biblical inclusion of unflattering parts: 25% of those exonerated via Innocence Project DNA testing made incriminating statements, pled guilty, or outright confessed. A statement against one's interest is not inherently more reliable than a statement favoring one's interest.
5. "Dying for a lie": The 9/11 terrorists, Branch Dividians, Heaven's Gate, etc, etc, all died for their beliefs. Willingness to die for one's belief does not translate into validity of the beliefs.
6. Emergent Church, converts, "countless testimonies": Many religions/churches all believing they were correct. Many people adopt comforting beliefs which have no basis in reality and are conveniently beyond direct confirmation. This is particularly true when people are susceptible to promises of eternal rewards juxtaposed against threats of eternal punishment. "Countless testimonies" = Argumentum ad populum.
7. The rest were self-referencing claims with no extrinsic support.
Mirosal - It does seem hypocritical, doesn't it? I have tried to go beyond what I know. What if God truly did and does love humanity? Yet, because the relationship started in the wrong way, what we have is a dysfunctional relationship of cosmic proportions What if GOD keeps trying and much of Humanity does, too - but much of Humanity has also decided that the relationship is just no longer worth it - i.e., the relationship is non-functioning?
I guess the question we all gotta ask ourselves is: is there any redeeming quality or purpose for us (Humanity as a collective or even as individuals) in the idea or belief in GOD in any way, shape, or form?
According to my understanding, even atheists will say that the relationships between/among people are transformative and help us all to grow in love (that is, trust & respect). This does not seem so bad since that is after all what Christianity's goal is for humanity, too. (Jesus said that the greatest commandment is that we love one another.)
So ... why wait to get to Heaven to have everything all "peachy" ... why not work with one another to make heaven on earth?
Good luck Atheists! God is with you (whether you believe it or not! ;-) )
harriet: i neither seek heaven nor fear hell
Why not, rick?
paul: because i do not think either of those places exist
Why don't you think those places exist?
i do not see any evidence for it
why do you believe they do exist?
actually, harriet, we can both be wrong
Would you torture your child for all eternity because he disobeyed you and would you do this out of love for your child?
Would it be better to burn a child with a torch so that they know the agony that awaits them in hell if they don't believe in Jesus? You realize that there are people that justify abusing children to teach them about the eternal pains of hell right?
What's love got to do with torture?
Are you this "snake" I keep seeing references to? Do you live in the US?
Why is it so hard for people to believe in Jesus? He loves every single one of us tremondously yet so many reject him. The bible foretold that men will try to create elaborate empty arguments against the gospel that will appeal only to unspiritual men. The gospel is the only thing that can save you. Believing in the death for our sins, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is what will give you eternal life.... please think about this because if we are wrong we lose nothing but if you are wrong you lose everything.
It isn't too difficult to believe that Jesus was a real guy, but it's very difficult to believe that he was some kind of god who had to die for me to escape something that he caused to begin with.
Jesus' humanity is not questionable - agreed. Jesus' divinity is a matter of debate - and has been for a long time. There are lots of "theories and beliefs" (including: that God entered Jesus at his baptism and left him at his death on the cross, that Jesus was paradoxically wholly human and wholly divine, that Jesus was not divine at all but rather a very good man, among countless other ideas, I am sure). Yet, I feel that what is important is the attempt that GOD had made to work with humanity to right the wrongs and misgivings and misunderstandings between GOD and Humanity. GOD never stops trying to reconcile - unfortunately, we humans all too often engage in policies of judgmentalism and/or non-cooperation. I do wish you well on your journey, Lisa.
Why not the simplest answer, that Jesus wasn't ever a god? Maybe he thought he was, his followers did, or the idea just evolved over time, but what makes you discount that possibility? People are sometimes deluded, right?
Sorry, Topaz ... Sounds like your "belief" is not genuine. That is it just sounds like your belief is in name only because you are only 'believing" because it is a "safe bet." So your real belief system is less like a Christian belief system and more like the belief system of the soldiers who cast lots for Jesus' garments at the foot of the cross. May be its time to re-evaluate what you really believe before you start passing any more judgment against people who may be genuine in their search.
James, you said this: "According to my understanding, even atheists will say that the relationships between/among people are transformative and help us all to grow in love (that is, trust & respect). This does not seem so bad since that is after all what Christianity's goal is for humanity, too. (Jesus said that the greatest commandment is that we love one another.)
So ... why wait to get to Heaven to have everything all "peachy" ... why not work with one another to make heaven on earth?"
James – If you agree with your own statement above – especially the parts where we "should love one another and work with one another to make heaven on earth", then you should respect other's belief systems as well. What everyone chooses to believe is extremely personal and reflects their own spiritual evolution at the moment.
Think of explaining the process of fire to a kindergarten class, it would be a simple explanation, and on only one level; however if you were explaining it to a college chemistry class then you could discuss it on a deeper level, talking about the complexity of the chemical structures, etc.
I think spiritual thinking is similar to this – and you should not criticize others for being at a certain level, nor think because you are thinking at a different level, that this means that you are "higher" – what it means is that you are thinking at a different level, which is not "better" or "higher"; it is simply thinking at a different level.
James, I think that you should follow your own advice to follow the principles of treating other people with love, trust, and respect, and not attack others for their own personal belief system. As you yourself said, "Jesus' greatest commandment is that we love one another".
Topaz sounds genuinely concerned for others' spiritual welfare and this is the expression that I would discuss with her, not whether or not you agree with her definition of Heaven and Hell.
Topaz – no one else can tell you what you believe or exactly what to believe. I believe that God loves us all, whatever we believe or wherever we are on our own personal spiritual journey. Just remember that, and walk your own spiritual journey. God bless.
I agree ... Let me be more explicit. Topaz's belief system is her own, I am certainly not one to be critical or Judgmental - as long as her beliefs are not the cause of hardship upon any one else. Yet, I would hope that Topaz be honest - first with herself, in understanding her own beliefs before she sets out to "save" others. If the gamble on Christianity makes her feel comfortable - great, but by my experience, the vast majority of folk who do seek religion or spirituality as a source of salvation or reconciliation or peace need way more than to "roll the dice" on these things. Again, Topaz if its good enough for you - Great! Yet, I do urge you to just try to grow a bit more in your relationship the Divine. It can be a beautiful journey filled with a great amount of zeal. Where people often do go wrong is when they feel that the zealousness in their belief needs to shared. What really needs to be shared is not the belief system, per se, rather, the values that the belief system informs.
You are quite right weeklyradiance. If I did come across as disrespectful - this was clearly not my intention. I am sorry. I do seek to help folk grow into good relations with GOD and each other.
Wow, I may puke. You guys should get a room and do what comes naturally to you and quit groveling to each other in public.
Pascal's wager again.
You should reconsider Odin – what if you are wrong – don't want to go to Hades, just because you couldn't be bothered to sacrifice a dove.
And Vishnu – there's a god that holds a grudge – let's not neglect to worship him.
Have you considered the state of your karma? Wouldn't want a bad reincarnation.
Jesus – OK, your god makes rules that doom most everyone to hell, decides he made a mistake, and rather than just change the rules, creates a new body to live in to make some type of sacrifice? Have you really thought that through? If god makes the rules, no need for a sacrifice (and what a bloody and insane thing for a god to want in any case) to change the rules.
I demand no sacrifices from those that follow me. I am Crom.
How is it possible that the number of pages of comments are rapidly decreasing as the number of posts increase?
There is a nothing troll that likes to post garbage under several different names, steal others names and make posts they would not make, and it deletes anything it feels like.
CNN has proven they cannot police their own blog.
Observer and/or Cpt. Obvious went on a rampage last night and requested that my posts be deleted. That's what they do when you refute their arguments.
What is your verified evidence for this claim, Paul?
I read that discussion. IMHO those posters and others refuted you quite well. Why would they want to have their own great posts removed? We could just as well accuse you of somehow plotting and 'rampaging' to get the whole conversation removed. I think it's a crying shame, whatever the reason, though.
Reasonable susp.icion. It was only my posts that were requested to be deleted (consequently, the responses to my post were also deleted).
If they refuted my posts so well, they should have been left up there, right?
"What is your verified evidence for this claim, Paul?"
That's exactly why skeptics don't even pass their own skeptic tests. They say they always want verified evidence. They're looking for 100% certainty. But in fact, many things they believe don't come anywhere close to that level of certainty. Hopefully, they'll realize this now that I pointed it out to them
There are other possibilities for the removal, Paul. I won't elaborate, though, because I don't want to get banned.
I didn't say there weren't other possibilities. I gave my reasons for suspecting Observer and Cpt. Obvious.
Paul, your posts were deleted because you were found to be masquerading as someone else repeatedly. Notice that AE's posts were deleted too. Think about it.
You did not say, "I suspect" or "maybe", nor did you even imply it. You stated it as a fact.
To be fair – do you have verified evidence for that statement?
The comment was NOT from me. Apparently, the fake Observer is on here demonstrating again their total lack of honesty and integrity.
Amen! Tell em check
A lot of posts get deleted. Sometimes posts get deleted even as I am responding to them, which deletes my post as well. I don't take it personally, nor do I believe in conspiracy theories about my posts being deleted. I leave that sort of thinking to people who really, really want to pretend that they are being persecuted.
I am the Observer that comments on here all the time.
Don't be so brainless as to accuse someone of something you have NO PROOF of.
I have never tried to censor your comments since you haven't yet offered PROOF that any of my comments were wrong.
I have NEVER used "report abuse" on ANY of your comments.
I await your apology.
obvious is divine, or hadn't u noticed?
learn to love yourself dm. then, u might find a few who can tolerate u
As a huge number of comments are being deleted from both sides of the issue I don't believe the issue is random abuse of the "report" feature.
FYI has provided contact resources to resolve the issue. Join us in contacting CNN.
It may be a security glitch.
I hope they can do something to eliminate people stealing other people's handle. We all know who the biggest liar is. The CNN policy is clear on this. Unfortunately, some people show they are unworthy of CNN's (or anyone's) trust in them being an honest person.
I am furious that CNN allows people to make threatening comments about governors! I am fed up. I really am
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