October 16th, 2013
03:20 PM ET
What Oprah gets wrong about atheism
(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.
About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.
here's a nice short one so we don't upset Stedman:
if everything must have a creator then who or what created your god? if you say that your god is infinite, then why can't the universe just be infinite and omit the need for a totalitarian daddy figure?
You're not understanding the argument:
1. Whatever BEGINS TO EXIST must have a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. The universe must have a cause.
Since God did not begin to exist, He doesn't need a cause. But since scientifice evidence shows a finite universe, then it has a beginning and therefore must have a cause.
But not a finite multiverse.
Whatever begins to exist must have a cause. We don't have to accept this. It is an appeal to what is familiar to us. It is not a familiar occurrence for time to begin to exist, so I needn't expect your premise to be true of it.
1. We have no idea if the universe "began" to exist; we simply know that it was very small and dense and hot at one point.
2. We have no idea if things that begin to exist require an outside cause. Our entire experience is mere continuation. You'd have to prove this, first, in order to have a valid argument.
3. Who's this god fellow, and why do you expect me to believe in him just because you want to make up stupid sh!t about stuff we have no idea about? What nonsense! Things beginning to exist and invisible and undetectable and irrelevant deities and that sort of tripe...
"we simply know that it was very small and dense and hot at one point."
How do you KNOW that? How did you come to that conclusion?
"We have no idea if things that begin to exist require an outside cause"
Really? Have you ever known something to cause itself to come into existance? It's not possible since it would have to exist in order to cause itself to come into existance.
"Who's this god fellow, and why do you expect me to believe in him just because you want to make up stupid sh!t about stuff we have no idea about?"
He's name is Jesus and I didn't make up anything about Him. Why did you think that I was making stuff up? I'm trying to get you to use your brain – to examine the evidence and follow it where it leads. You seem to be under the impression that you can't make a logical inference from the evidence, but in fact your post prove that you have been doing it. But your presuppositions won't allow you to accept the fact that the God of the Bible is the Creator of the universe.
Really, Paul, even if the Kalām cosmological argument could get off the ground it could only prove that something caused the beginning of the Universe. It does not point to a God as the cause. And the God of the Bible? Only your presuppositions could bring that into the picture.
Everybody is a non believer on some level, or other. You likely don't believe in any of the other gods, right? If you can just understand that we share most of the same reasons for disbelieving in gods then you'll come to understand us as we really are.
Paul...Let's presume for argument's sake that there is some supernatural force that created the universe. Which option is more logical and reasonable? a) Humans are not capable of grasping the form of this force or anything else about it or b) it's all explained by the Christian bible.
I'm going with option a and will anybody that selects option b is delusional.
(In agreement with Paul's point)
Not only does the Bible tell the beginning of the universe, it tells of a finite universe – one that has a beginning and also an ending. Science has now verified, the universe is indeed finite and aging.
Long ago thou didst lay the foundations of the earth, and the heavens were thy handiwork. They shall pass away, but thou endurest; like clothes they shall all grow old; thou shalt cast them off like a cloak, and they shall vanish; but thou art the same and thy years shall have no end; thy servant’s children shall continue, and their prosperity shall be established in thy presence. (Ps. 102: 25-28)
God who created this universe out of nothing, will also roll it up as an old garment and cast it off.
Don't confuse "finite" with "temporary". The univers may be finite (i.e. there is a defnite volume to the universe) but not finite in a temporal sense (has beginning or end). According to the most recent works I've read, the best description would be "finite, but boundless".
Wow. So you're seriously arguing that:
1) The Bible says the universe is finite (at least according to your interpretation)
2) Scientific observation has shown that the universe is finite (to the best of our knowledge)
3) Therefore, science has proven the Bible is true.
That's not faith. It's claiming a causal link between two completely independant phenomena.
Honestly, if some dude returned from the dead in modern day America, he'd be double-tapped by some gun nut before he finished rolling away the stone.
How do you know that the universe began to exist? What do you mean by "began to exist"? A baby begins to exist, but it didn't just pop into existence. We just don't know enough about what happened before the point in the universe's development that we do somewhat understand. If time began at some point it may be meaningless to talk about "before the universe began". So, claiming that the universe had a beginning is beyond anybody's actual ability to answer.
everything has had a beginning, except god
what are the names, addresses and phone numbers of the medical professionals who informed you that you were otherwise normal?
"Once or twice I've gone for medical attention and was informed that this experience is similar to what some others experience with their religions. I was informed by medical professionals that as I was otherwise normal there was nothing to be done. As this person in my mind's eye is not Allah, YHVH, Jesus, Krishna, Zeus or any sort of deity I've read up on before I never thought of him as my religion. Apparently he is. I turned to atheism for help. What I've learned is that no one is in control of my thoughts, but me so turning to anything or anyone for help is mostly pointless."
u turned to atheism for help. to whom did u speak? they taught u not to let ur brain be controlled. and, "I've also learned that just because my friend doesn't exist doesn't mean I'm not able to enjoy his company." how do u no he doesn't exist? hmm?
Wow...that's deep and a littel nutty. There is no proof of god and there are only theories that are constantly being honed on the beginnings and nature of the universe.
1. The universe may have had a beginning. OK. But what about the Singularity, ie the precurser of the universe? Perhaps the Singularity always existed and was the casue of the universe .
2. You know and believe in Jesus because you read it in a book. Muslims know and believe in Allah becasue they read it in a book. What makes your book true and their book false?
Yes everything has a cause I suppose, the universe had a beginning...religion did not provide this evidence, neither has a belief in a supreme power. Our sun will eventually burn out meaning that its cause, (to burn up all of its gas as all stars do) will occur leaving our planet freezing an thus end life. This is not a design, the fact we are here is a trillion years in the making due to eveolution only made possible as a by-product of the sun being able to heat our planet well enough for life to survive. Your point or argument however you would like to label it is compelling, but doesn't apply to our social conundrum or eventual death. The cause of all things is to survive such is life, but it too has an end. What has a beginnig must have an end.
"...then why can't the universe just be infinite..."
Like I said, the scientific evidence doesn't support it. Einsten's General Theory of Relativity suggested a finite universe. But Einstein didn't like the implications of that so he added the "cosmological constant". But then Edwin Hubble showed Einstein that the universe was indeed expanding, he rejected his cosmological constant.
Fred Hoyle didn't like the idea of a finite universe either so He came up with the Steady State model. But that was proved wrong when the cosmic background radiation was found.
So the scientific evidence points to a finite universe. Thus, it has a beginning. So the question is: Why is there something rather than nothing? What has the causal power to cause time, space, matter, and energy to come into existence?
A leprechaun's farts?
Answer: an infinite number of possibilities including Zeus or a committee of zombies. Even if ID proves to be true, that doesn't prove that God exists.
"Answer: an infinite number of possibilities .."
Start with the plausible ones.
A committee. If God bungled as much as he did in the Bible, it may have taken a committee of gods/zombies to set it all up.
With ZERO proof of God, there are an INFINITE number of possibilities.
Paul, You only consider your god as a plausible explanation because people have believed it for centuries, from before we had explanations for phenomena that were otherwise unexplainable given the then current knowledge: eclipse – sign from god, rainbow – sign from god, thunder – sign from go, etc. We have knowledge of those phenomena and know that they are not signs from gods and that therefore there is no evidence for a god. If there were a god it would not be the personal god of religions. We do not know the origin of the singularity so why is a pink unicorn less plausible than a god?
Sorry, but I don't see the "begins to exist" as an escape from the special pleading/argument by definitional fiat for God as the eternal causeless cause. To my knowledge, the evidence points to a singularity which was a something that already existed. The "beginning" of the universe was simply a change in the properties of this something that already existed. Still a stalemate . . .
In the linked image, one can see the earth as viewed from 3.7 billion miles away in the furthest streak on the right side (i.e. that small blue pixel). When one considers that our star is only one of ~ 300 billion stars in the Milky Way and that the Milky Way is but one of an estimated 170 billion galaxies in the known universe, the proposition that the entire universe was created so that we might be here seems a little anthropocentric to say the least . . .
wrong! something began, dorothy!
It came up that Topher naturally believes you can't find heaven unless you find Jesus. This is Christianity. All of the millions of people that haven't even heard of Jesus can burn in hell. Christians are sick individuals and the world would be much more pleasant without there blood-thirsty dogma.
Their (sorry, I'm a pedant).
Yeah, but it would just be replaced with some other violent hate. If there's one thing humanity is good at, it's violent hatred (two things technically, I suppose). It's better the devil you know. At least Christianity is somewhat more subdued and under control these days.
THERE it is.
Subdued? Under control? Wow, you couldn't be more wrong if you tried. But you sound like a religious idiot, so that's normal.
Whereas you just sound like an idiot.
Also, you forgot the T.
I just may have to go visit this Chris Studman at Harvard and get.. well chaplained.
When it comes to matters concerning all of the books that people consider to be "holy" (Bible, Koran, Gita etc...)
there are some interesting stories in those books. The ones that you think are interesting may not be the ones that interest me but that's personal taste.
those aforementioned books do contain some philosophies that people can use to help improve their lives & the lives of others. This is true of all those books & more.
However, when it comes to questions of a spiritual nature (A deity, A life force or soul, existence after natural death etc...), the best that those books can do is speculate. That is because they were written by people.
Some people wish to hang their spiritual hat on a speculation that one of those books offer. I do not.
Is there a spiritual component to the universe? I do not claim to know.
However, I have not read anything in any of those books that convinces me that the speculations in them are anything more than that.
I will not close my mind to the remote possibility of a spiritual plane of existence. I just will not base it on a speculation from a single writing from a person or group of people on one planet in one galaxy in the universe.
That is why I refer to myself as an agnostic.
“The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.”
Werner Heisenberg (another actual scientist)
1932 Nobel Prize in Physics
he was probably drinking absinthe ... lots of weird imaginary things seen at the bottom of a glass of absinthe ...
I think he was talking about his understanding of and education in physics in relation to his belief in God.
The effects of the Green Fairy are myth. You should know better than to sell myths as facts. Shame on you.
Some scientists like for things to be neat and tidy in the end. Others feel it's just not going to work out that way. So scientists are susceptible to the same beliefs we all are. Is this remarkable to you, AE?
I just don't think science leads all to atheism.
That was supposed to be a reply to Colin's top 10 post.
And to which relgion did the father of indeterminacy adhere?
Einstein rejected the faith he was born into, prefering the concept of Spinoza's God – a deist concept.
If one is to embrace a metaphysical spiritualism, I would have to say that deism is the most logical form. Much more so than the anthropomorphic "God imagined by humans as essentially a superhuman" so typical of most religions.
He was Lutheran, although I think he would have said that you can know God or religion but not both simultaneously.
Awesome quote! I have never heard it before, and no wonder why with the hysterical antics of so many who call themselves scientists objecting to any mention of God. Most of the early true scientists of this world were either declared to be heretics, or purchased and sequestered by either the wealthy or the powerful who knew they were on to something big, and were either afraid of the consequences of it becoming common knowledge, or looking to benefit exclusively. So I suppose one could consider the anti-God scientists to be the other end of the spectrum, but hopefully less destructive to others and progress. While science can do amazing things that are very impressive at first glance, they are also using scarce resources to build a model that will soon be improved upon. Extrapolate that out over the future centuries, and science right now would appear to be just as retarded as it was in Galileo's time. Many scientists like to say you can't prove God exists, therefore he doesn't. However, scientists can't prove how or why an electron does what it does, and why they are different from one atom to an atom of a different element. They claim they know, but they refuse to see the miraculous magic that they themselves cannot duplicate, not even close. So if they know how it works, why can't they build one? When a scientist can buld an atom from scratch (not the same as taking oxygen from water, or combining elements to form polymers, etc.) then that is the day that I will start to believe that they understand how and why atoms and electron(s) do what they do. Scientists might argue, that's nuts. Matter simply is, and we know what it does even if we cannot make an atom. However, they really don't know how and why an electron does what it does. That is not even in the slightest bit different than a person saying God Is, even though I can't prove How God Is or What God is Doing or has Done, because I guarantee you, those who Believe don't do so simply because they read something. They are experiencing something. Something others either choose not to seek, or choose to ignore or explain away when it happens. Their personal observation, that they Believe in God, is no less accurate than science believing in the atom and the electron even though they have no concept of how or why it is as it is.
Oops, no edit function, should have spell checked. That should read, 'build' and atom, not buld, but what a funny typo, since the scientifc explanation of an atom is pure bull!
The difference is we can observe atoms and detect their presence; as opposed to the religious "feel" the presence of their god – you have to believe to believe.
I replied previously to your assertion but the moderator has removed several of my posts without any explanation.
What I said was similar to the following: So since I can observe the universe, and therefore know it to exist, you assert that that means I understand how and why it does what it does? The fact that we can observe an atom and what it is doing, does not mean we understand how and why it does what it does. To assert such a thing is a typical circular definition that does not explain anything pertinent about an atom except that it exists, and violates the scientific principle. Would you hand the keys to a car over to someone who has never seen one before until you drove up in it? Seeing what something does barely scratches the surface of understanding it. Scientists do not understand an atom, and explain away how and why it does what it does with assertions that do not stand up to critical thinking or scientific evaluation. They do understand that it interacts with other atoms but only to the most elementary degree of what they can see and what substance results.
Earlier today I was singing a song about Sarah Lee (the food company). I reached for a loaf of bread, totally not knowing the brand name and it was Sarah Lee. At the exact second I was singing about that food company.
A week ago I thought of a movie I hadn't seen or heard about in decades two days later it was on TV.
Two days ago I was talking to a friend of mine about three music artists. The next thing another friend sent me an email about them and the following day the three songs of theirs came on the radio...in a row.
I can not argue theology I don't follow it. But this is why I believe in God. What else would be messing with my head like that?
Go on, call me stupid if you want too but it is what it is.
I hope this is a joke.
Well, I guess there are a few possible explainations. One is that you specifically remember a small subest of a large number of thoughts you have during the course of a day when facts later trigger the memory, forgetting all those thoughts you have that are not later consonant with the facts that transpire. Another is that a being powerful enough to create the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies is monitoring your thoughts and orchestrating facts in the real World to send you some kind of subtle message.
Which sounds more plausible?
The sheer amount of coincidences that hit me in a given week is unbelievable. Even for a memory problem. It's even entered my head that you don't exist that maybe nothing exists and I'm really dreaming all of this.
It's not really a joke, but it is kind of funny. You can laugh if you want too.
Maybe the universe is conscious. I'm conscious and I'm part of the universe.
I honestly don't know. Maybe I never will.
"Maybe the universe is conscious. I'm conscious and I'm part of the universe.
I honestly don't know. Maybe I never will."
I don't find this too unreasonable. You might want to look up the Lionly Lamb and chat with him about this.
Even if I knew as song about Sara Lee, I don't think I'd sing it out loud – not even to my dog. I definitely wouldn't write about it.
Your brand of concidence-based theology is a new one to me.
I'll not call you stupid and thanks for sharing but it's hardly proof of the divine.
Nobody doesn't like Sara Lee?
It's just standard statistical variance producing perfectly normal event clusters, but people like you misinterpret that as being magical simply because humans evolved with sub-par reasoning skills.
You ignore your own physical input yet it affects your thinking, and then when your thinking matches up with your physical input you think angels must have been whispering in your head like twisted ghosts out of a horror movie, when it was just your subconscious processing of not-usually-noticed bits of information.
Your brain is fooling itself quite normally. You have a limited set of perceptions and a brain that will continuously process input in the background whether you want it to or not. This gives rise to erroneous conclusions like what you experienced.
No magic is involved. Nothing supernatural is needed to explain the everyday normal errors in logic we all tend to make when we are not functioning at higher levels.
Yes, this was a complicated way of saying "you're wrong and your brain doesn't work perfectly which is why you're wrong." It happens to everyone. Some people do it more often than others. Errors are due to having organic brains.
Comes with the territory. I hate it when my brain plays tricks on me and I have gotten better at catching them over time.
As to the radio, I guess you didn't factor in the tendency of one music fan calling every station in town to try to get just one of them to play a song? In my town, they will play the same song on many stations within a few minutes because of one person doing just that. You need to be more skeptical and not so gullible and unquestioning. Look for answers, don't just accept what someone else told you. There is no magic.
I noticed when I bought my car that everyone else seemed to also have a grey civic. I think that once we are exposed to a stimulus, we become more aware of it and are more likely to notice recurrences of the stimulus. I find that much more plausible than a God putting those civics all around me..
My wife's bunion doc was telling her that the SLA used Sarah Lee songs to hypnotize Patty Hearst. Yep. It's terrible thinking about her holding up places while having visions of having fresh hot apple pie stuck on her brain. Awful.
ah the logic of an infantile mind ...
ooooh, money under my pillow and my tooth is gone ... must be the tooth fairy
ooooh, chocolate eggs hidden around my garden ... must be the easter bunny
ooooh, gifts in a stocking by the fireplace ... must be santa
I am alive... must be evolution.
sorry, was jsut told that wasn't infantile enuf!
ooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhh....I am alive..................... must be evolution..........................
Sorry for the long delayed responses. Just wanted to say thanks for the response to my post. It is funny. It felt good to have a good laugh. And yes our minds do play tricks on us it does happen.
I understand what you seem to be saying about connections that just cannot be random. I believe that intuition, and these connections that seemingly are created out of nowhere, and even psychic experiences are our spirits flexing our fledgling spiritual muscles and in benign ways that the Moderator encourages, and may even be amused by. So help us God! LOL
It's called your reticular activating system, stupid. Happens all the time. Think about it the next time you want a specific car, you'll begin to see them everywhere!
I am sure that certainly plays a role. So tell me why I quoted a song the other day, and the next time I got in my car, the 2nd or 3rd station I tuned to played it from the beginning. For those who can handle the truth, thanks "Big Brother!" I really wanted to hear that song! LMFAO!
Assuming there is a god, don't you think he/she has better things to do than to mess with you by playing songs on the radio or influencing the brand of your bread?
Or consider this, maybe it is our mission in life to give God so little to do that God can delight in such play!
If Oprah or anyone else (yeah, I'm looking at you) says anything about atheism other than the dictionary definition, you're probably talking about something else besides atheism...and wrong, to boot.
He was talking about you.
I was talking about everyone who does such a thing. Not just one.
Sheeple will fall to Atheists as science marches on.
We're all sheep to something.
It's "atheists" not "Atheists".
Dippy, no one cares. Really. There is no spell checker who cares
Karl Kraus does (or did, to be more precise).
It's people not sheeple.
“If we need an atheist for a debate, we go to the philosophy department. The physics department isn’t much use.”
Winner of the Heinemann Prize in mathematical physics.
“It ain't the parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it's the parts that I do understand.”
"Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It's like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can't trust my own thinking, of course I can't trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God."
Awesome quote! See my very similar post a little bit above in this discussion. It is so odd that some use their own thought process to try and disprove any and all Dieties. Thought doesn't exist without consciousness and consciousness does not exist without spirit/soul. I can't prove that, but neither does the thought of some other person disprove it. LOL
Ah yes, the old "I can't explain it/don' understand it, so God must exist" argument. The fact is that religion is the product of human fear of that which they do not understand. As human understanding of the universe expands, religious influence is decreasing. There was a time, not long ago, that disease was associated with God's wrath, until we came to understand that there are germs causing disease. At that point, people started treating the cause, instead of doing things like animal sacrifices. One of my biggest problems with God is that I am held to a higher standard than he is. If I stood at the edge of a swimming pool and watched my son drown, perfectly capable of saving his life, I doubt very seriously that anyone would accept the explanation that "I work in mysterious ways." No, instead, I would be led away in handcuffs. Yet people continue to worship and fear a being who allows such terrible things to occur on a daily basis, and do so simply out of fear of death and an inability to understand a universe that they can observe.
To D above, your analysis demonstrates that you really don't understand the distinctions between, God, the Christian God, the Biblical texts, all former Christian texts that preceded the Bible, what Religions are doing today, what individual churches are doing today, and what some Christians do and that same thing that some Christians don't do. None of these things are one in the same for several reasons.
First, God is not responsible for anything that any man/woman/child does because we have free will. Yes, the Bible speaks about how God Influences individuals and even entire societies, but how those people(s) act upon that Influence is not controlled by God, like a puppeteer. The Bible must also be read in historical context because it is a story about specific times in the history of mankind, or one tribe, or an individual. There are some statements in the Bible that are universal truths that are not routed in a historical context. Example: You have only one life before God. Some religions make the mistake of editing the sentence and make it say, you have only one life. The text states; ‘before God’ which changes the meaning dramatically. It is a warning that since God is from everlasting to everlasting, Eternal, you could live an infinite number of lives as a human being and it is only one spirit before God. Back to the historical context, one of the biggest problems with all societies past present and future, is that many if not most individuals do not have the mental capacity to truly walk in another man's shoes. They make decisions and statements like, I would NEVER do that. They do so without actually imagining themselves standing unarmed with someone pointing a gun at their heads and screaming at them, I am going to kill you!!! The tribes around those followed by the Bible stories were often very violent and merciless and intolerant of any belief other than their own. I don't judge what the Jewish tribes did when it says they killed every man woman and child, even the livestock, of an enemy nation. It is God's job to deal with all of the spiritual ramifications of that, not mine. If I told you God has since made every one of those killed spiritually whole, and that they have lived and died at peace since then, or are with God now would that make any difference to you? Since you don't believe in God, I am sure that all sounds like more hooey to you. I don't doubt for one second that God has always, and is now, and will always make Provision for each and every one of us. That doesn't mean that no one will ever be harmed, or killed, or suffer. It means that even if that happens, there is still a path and a Provision to heal those wounds and restore us from any iniquity. One of the most difficult concepts in the Bible is the statement that he who is first shall be last and he who is least shall be most. That could mean many things upon first reading, and out of context. The meaning I found is this. God is going to give each and every one of us a gift so much more valuable than anything we can attain here on Earth. God Can Give us and Intends to Give us Eternal Life, and not in Hell or suffering, but in a state of Rapture and Elation, yet calm and peaceful, that you cannot imagine until you have experienced it. I have experienced it, and I am forever changed. I know that is how God takes us from the end of this world through the collapse of the universe and back to the moment of Creation where God Creates the Heavens and the Earth and Puts man in it. I don't know whether it is okay for you that you don't understand that is what is happening here. It's not for me to Judge.
As an atheist, I get a deep feeling of beauty and awe without having to think I will survive my own phsical death or that the whole Universe was created with me in mind. I can't help but see such a view as selfish and insecure.
You are so awesome. But you already know that.
As an atheist, I get a deep feeling of beauty and awe without having to think up imaginary tests or copy and paste canned answers. I can't help but see such a view as selfish and insecure.
Calin, just for you....
Q.1 The completely absurd theory that all 7,000,000,000 human beings on the planet are simultaneously being supervised 24 hours a day, every day of their lives by an immortal, invisible being for the purposes of reward or punishment in an “afterlife” comes from the field of:
(c) Psychology; or
Q. 2 What is the only thing capable of making 40% of the country utterly stupid enough to think the entire Universe began less than 10,000 years ago with one man, one woman and a talking snake:
(a) a horrid disease
(b) a failed education system
(c) a successful Al Queda plot; or
Q. 3 Please complete the following sentence. It is not uncommon in many parts of the World for a young man to strap a suicide vest to himself and blow himself up and members of a rival __________
(iii) research insti.tute; or
Q. 4 It is only acceptable as an adult to believe Bronze Age mythology like talking snakes, the Red Sea splitting, mana falling from the sky, a man living in a whale's belly, a talking donkey, superhuman strength, a man rising from the dead and angels, ghosts, gods and demons in the field of:
Q.5 I have convinced myself that gay $ex is a choice and not genetic, but then have no explanation as to why only gay people have ho.mo$exual urges. I am being obstinate and closed minded due to my:
(c) nationality; or
Q6. I honestly believe that, when I think silent thoughts like, “please god, help me pass my exam tomorrow,” some invisible being is reading my mind and will intervene and alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to help me. I am
(a) a delusional schizophrenic;
(b) a naïve child, too young to know that that is silly
(c) an ignorant farmer from Sudan who never had the benefit of even a fifth grade education; or
(d) your average Christian, Muslim or Jew who believes that prayers are answered
Q7. Millions and millions of Catholics believe that bread and wine turns into the actual flesh and blood of a dead Jew from 2,000 years ago because:
(a) there are obvious visible changes in the condiments after the Catholic priest does his hocus pocus;
(b) tests have confirmed a divine presence in the bread and wine;
(c) now and then their god shows up and confirms this story; or
(d) their religious convictions tell them to blindly accept this completely fvcking absurd nonsense.
Q.8 The only discipline known to often cause people to kill others they have never met and/or to commit suicide in its furtherance is:
(c) Archeology; or
Q.9 What is it that most differentiates science and all other intellectual disciplines from religion:
(a) Religion tells people not only what they should believe, but what they MUST believe under threat of “burning in hell” or other of divine retribution, whereas science, economics, medicine etc. has no “sacred cows” in terms of doctrine and go where the evidence leads them;
(b) Religion can make a statement, such as “God is comprised of God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit”, and be totally immune from experimentation and challenge, whereas science can only make factual assertions when supported by considerable evidence;
(c) Science and the scientific method is universal and consistent all over the World whereas all religion is regional and a person’s religion, no matter how deeply held, is clearly nothing more than a matter of upbringing; or
(d) All of the above.
Q.10 If I am found wandering the streets flagellating myself, wading into a filth river, mutilating my child’s genitals or kneeling down in a church believing that a being is somehow reading my inner thoughts and prayers, I am likely driven by:
(a) a deep psychiatric issue;
(b) an irrational fear or phobia;
(c) a severe mental degeneration caused by years of drug abuse; or
(d) my religious belief.
Q.11 Who am I? I don’t pay any taxes. I never have. Any money my organization earns is tax free at the federal, state and local level. Despite contributing nothing to society, but still enjoying all its benefits, I feel I have the right to tell others what to do. I am
(a) A sleazy Wall Street banker
(b) the mafia
(c) A drug pusher; or
(d) any given religious organization
Q. 12 I believe that an all-knowing being, powerful enough to create the entire cosmos and its billions of galaxies, watches me have $ex to make sure I don't do anything "naughty" (like protect myself from disease with a condom, for example). I am
(a) A victim of child molestation
(b) A r.ape victim trying to recover
(c) A mental patient with paranoid delusions; or
(d) A regular Christian, Jew or Muslim following my religious belief
In short, nothing in history of human endeavor can make otherwise smart, functioning people believe the most implausible of supernatural absurdities the way religion can.
I like how you say "absurd theory" and then demonstrate your own absurd theories. You might as well be a religious nut.
And what are my "absurd theories"?
It reads like a test written by a guy who hates religion. Very hostile and azzuming. What are you? A 16 year old or 60 year old shut in?
Excellent, Colin! You nailed it. It's so obvious when your negative responses are only bags of wind.
Billy, there can be no honest answers when there is no honest test.
Here, answer this:
Who is a jack@ss on here?
b) Colin and his pet monkey
c) Colin and his gf (his left hand)
d) Colin and his ex gf (his right hand)
Now that's a fair question right..just like the ones Colin asked? So please answer it.
Posers are usually insecure, but maybe you have an idea or two to run by us? Hold forth.
Sorry, that was an invitation to 'Calin'
Atheism means you don't believe in God. It doesn't mean you have to ironically act just like the religies.
He has a point there. No need to post things over and over. If you can't speak like a normal human being, go copypasta somewhere else. Say something original, not dump a pile of crap in the thread and expect everyone to say it smell like roses.
You holler when you're hit, they used to say in the old days. You sound like you're jealous, too.
Things don't look so good for you right now. Better go talk to the inside of your head, I mean Jesus, some more.
You'll know it's him if he tells you to shut up, because he doesn't talk to filthy dogs of goyim like you, see? lol
It's "physical" not "phsical".
Colin, don't know anything about why we exist, or think we exist. The universe my very well exist just for you.
I think if you believe in the awe an the wonder and the mystery that to me is agnostism. If you don't believe in the beared man in the sky you're an atheist. Oprah is an agnostic atheist.
There is something to be said for self identification.
Like a grizzly?
Grizzly beards a-sittin in the woods. Ten feet tall and nothin but hair. They will clawg your drains to death. Hair now...
I see Christians and Atheists both talking being "spiritual". What does that even mean? What is a spirit? A ghost??
Distilled spirits is alcohol.
It's also the cause of and solution to all of life's problems.
I don't believe in spirits.
I assure you they exist. I drank a quart of whiskey last week and felt their holy goodness flowing through my body, then out my Johnson as I publicly urinated in a park.
TMI......but was it a satisfying tinkle?
Indubitably. The following two days wallowing in despair was less so.
I'm sure it means there's something of an afterlife.
Topher, you are sure?
I'm sure there is one, yes.
No you aren't.
I'm always curious as to the "whys" of people's beliefs. Can you explain why you believe in the existence of the soul? I"m honestly curious.
You are able to imagine a life for yourself that involves only non-material things, AE? I'm skeptical.
Things like prayer, courage, hope, honesty, humility, willingness, love, justice are not material.
You were talking about an afterlife, AE. So, what about you? Will you be alive and non-material? Do you consider yourself non-material now?
I don't think I was talking about the after-life. I don't know much about it. I consider myself a physical and spiritual being.
There is but one way to get Toshi to make you his Oyster Shooter Special.
You must get Toshi drunk on saki and once he starts wearing his penis hat he makes killer shooters.
I'm sorry, but feelings about the variety, scale, complexity, symmetry and other features of the Universe, or our feelings about our relationship to it don't add up to spirituality as someone who believes we are spirit created by spirit would define it. We have no reason to believe in spirit. We have no reason to believe in Creation or a Creating spirit. There is no such spirituality.
"I have no reason to believe in spirit. I have no reason to believe in Creation or a Creating spirit. To me there is no such spirituality."
Nope, correct the first time.
I was trying to make it less arrogant.
What you call arrogance, others would call inescapable fact.
You could be wrong. In fact, since you are a human being, you are most likely indeed wrong. Unless you are the first person in the history of civilization to suddenly be right.
Atheist just means we don't believe in God. We don't have to buy into your brand of atheism. Or act like a smug d-bag on message boards. There is no "we" in your other looney ideas.
Well, you've got the smug d-bag aspect down. Kudos.
"Fixed" is a good name for you, as you seem to be without any balls whatsoever.
No we don't.
like a religion or something? You don't speak for all atheists.
My sentiments exactly to the dude above.
Looks more like Deism to me.
Nothing wrong with that per se. Einstein was a fan of Spinoza's thinking on the subject.
There is but one way only to avoid the fires of hell.
Repent and trust the Savior.
(I need to spread the garlic! Vampires are about!)
Trust in Dan Marino.
Seriously though, the Dolphins MUST win against Buffalo and New England.
I'm just hoping the Falcons can turn things around.
Yes, even the 'phins beat the falcs.
As long as you've heard of him.
But to do either of those I must also believe a) that a god exists b) the bible is an accurate testament to god and his will.
I am not so arrogant to say I know for sure there is no god, but do not have the faith necessary to believe the latter in light of what I've learned about it and it's history (and the history of other religions and their sacred writings). Should I really burn in hell for all eternity because I no longer believe the messenger (bible) is reliable?
If I had a life I'd be doing something better than this right now.
We do spend a lot of time on here.
And that is not to worry about something that doesn't exist.
Oprah's problem seems to be that she has now gotten so influential that she thinks she can redefine words and concepts to suit her own worldview. She's like Humpty Dumpty from Alice Through the Looking Glass, only black and more rotund.
There is only one way to God and it is not through Christ.
Do you care to tell us what the "one" way to God is then?
Johnny Walker Black Label and ribeye steak.
Woodford Reserve Bourbon. Much better than any Scotch on the planet. But I'm good with the ribeye steak, as long as there are grits to go with it.
Bourbon and grits? I take it you're from below the Mason–Dixon line?
I'll stick to Christ, but definitely like your dinner menu.
I'll stick to booze and red meat, but I like your Renaissance architecture.
Of course Jesus is the only way.
Unfortunate for many people, and you know why.
There isn't anything unfortunate about it.
Oh? It's not unfortunate that certain people haven't heard of Christ? Just above, you said Jesus is the only way. Yet, as you keep forgetting....not everyone knows about him. That's pretty unfortunate, I'd say.
I want someone to do one of these so called Jesus dances on me. I've heard they were out of this word.
and out of this world! hmm.
The Oracle of Dephi?
Delphi (sorry, I've got my pedant hat on). I watched a doc.umentary before which hypothesized that there was possibly some sort of gas leak which caused the visions.
The only way to God is mental illness.
Don't you suffer from mental illness (alcoholism?)?
I don't drink Pete.
Stretching the definition of god so widely as Oprah, makes the term god superfluous. Keeping terms like god and awe, spirituality separate, allows us to discuss distinct concepts. This kind of definition stretching to "bring people together" is childish. We should be able to deal with our differences in a mature fashion. You don't see many chocolate ice cream lovers having heated arguments with coffee ice cream lovers.
I agree. If we water down and blend everything together, then what would any of us stand for. Many people have opinions and believes; distinct and specific ones, and I think they should be passionate about them and be able to discuss (respectfully of course) different believe and stances.
Well, when you think about it, we're really all communists since we care about the community.
Also we are all capitalists because we use capital letters sometimes.
I was a racist... until I found out it had nothing to do with running...
Yes, God is in my wallet if you define him as a credit card.....
They "moderated" a hateful holocaust denier the other night, and to tell the truth, I am conflicted about it.
Although, I was offended by the comments left by this troubled person, I am not sure that shutting down their avenue of hatred did any good for that individual and probably only reinforced an already troubled mind. I think I would prefer a disclaimer about foul language and remove all the stupid filters – words are words, and you can censor words and still allow some pretty foul ideas to be expressed. Only fools are offended by words, ideas are what deserve our scorn, but I am not entirely comfortable with any censorship. I am not against banning abusive bloggers, and there does seem to be a policy for re-entry, but I am not comfortable with removing the posts that resulted in the ban. Perhaps mark them as "going over the line" so that others have some idea of what is unacceptable behavior.
I could not agree more. Offensive comments should perhaps be folded up so you have to deliberately open them to insulate those poor fainthearted whiners who are offended by words. I LIKE reading the comments of all the deranged people. They exist and I WANT to know how insane they are. I do not need some moderator censoring for me. I'm an adult. It's better to know.
Not all people who believe in the existence of God are the same nor are all atheist; therefore, I will describe my disagreement with this article without associating it to all atheist alike. Everyone can feel awe and wonder; however, spirituality is different. I can be in owe of many things in our universe, it is an amazing one. However, when it comes to spirituality, it has an element of what lays beside the physical world. People describe spirituality in many ways, but it is something that cannot be felt from observing the physical world or from learning about. With that said atheist too might feel spirtuality even if they do not believe anything exist beyond the physical world, and if you do, I hope that you examine where that feeling is coming from.
That is your definition of spirituality and perfectly fine. Others have narrower and some have wider definitions. Argument ensues.
Think for yourself, I'm giving you two thumbs up!
"I hope that you examine where that feeling is coming from.
Why does it have to be a manifestation of the divine. Simply because you can't explain something doesn't automatically mean "God caused it".
It does to many, unfortunately.
For me it is God; however, I specifically said "examine" and maybe I should've said "examine for yourself", which says go look into it and then decide. I cannot dictate on you or anyone what they feel.
As I posted on the previous page,
Art, beauty, nobility, awe of the universe etc, exist as concepts to humans. This is pretty self evident but we really can't explain why.
So you conclude that they are manifestations of the divine.
I conclude that our understanding of how the brain functions has a long way to go.
Anyone who as owned a pet knows that they can be playful and happy and sad and lonely and they dream. They know when they are being good and when they are being bad. (At least dogs do. Cat morals seem to be different.)
Where does the line for sentience get drawn?
Can a frog feel happy?
Can a fish feel lonely?
Hard to say for sure though I'm pretty sure mosquitoes don't think a lot.
I am certain God exist through faith. I feel his presence in my life.
However, if you base your decision solely on science, how can you be so certain God doesn't exist? Science never concluded that.
Or through delusion.
Neither has it conclusively proven the non-existence of Skeletor.
Weird, because my delusions never led me to believe in Skeletor.
I never said I was certain that God doesn't exist.
Having said that, I don't believe s/he/it does exist and don't see the fact that we have created concepts like nobility and beauty as evidence for said existence.
Either way, it's a very long road from the "universe is beautiful" to "Jesus is my personal lord and savior who died for my personal sins so that I could live with him in paradise for eternity". That seems like an ambitious extrapolation there.
it's a very long road from the "universe is beautiful" to "Jesus is my personal lord and savior who died for my personal sins so that I could live with him in paradise for eternity".
That's also the bit I don't get. I can kind of understand the initial argument (weak as it is) but that massive leap from a possible supernatural element creating the universe to the commie carpenter and his warmongering dad is baffling to me.
Sorry, didn't mean to put words in your mouth.
I don't believe in God because earth or the universe is beautiful, I don't even think everything on earth is beautiful. Some animals are pretty ugly in fact. That kind of beauty or ugliness does not matter when talking about God. He is love and that is his beauty.
I certainly don't want to put words in your mouth either. Only you understand the wellspring of your belief.
To me as a non-believer, when people argue that they see beauty, nobility, etc as manifestations of the divine in the same way as their answer to the question of existence of everything.
It is all short cut by "God did it" based on the pre-supposition that God is real. The existence of us and other stuff is used as the proof of God, rather than actual evidence of the existence of God.
It's like arguing a case based on circ.umstantial evidence – like trying to prove a murder without a corpse.
Everything is a mystery until we discover more about it. Just because we can't explain something doesn't mean god did it. The problem I have with a lot of very religious people is that their curiosity stops there. "God did it" tends to halt the search for a rational explanation. I believe there is a rational explanation for everything hiding somewhere.
I wonder what you mean by 'physical world'. Russ was going on about the 'material'. Do you mean something more or less than that?
I simply mean our universe and all it's physical components. Everything seen, touched, observed, quantified, etc.
You mean everything that it is possible to see, touch, quantify etc.?
Your name is hypocritical, since you insist on foisting your thoughts upon others. Why not shut up and go away?
Expressing one's thoughts doesn't deny others the ability to express theirs.
True. But lies can deny others the right to have accurate and honest information, leading to more nonsense.
Your name is worse and is quite the d-bag name, implying that you refuse all logic and all reason and prefer to restrict others.
Right? Better change your name again.
I don't get the second part of your post. Is that aimed at me also? Are you accusing me of being another poster?
Well, I seriously doubt that it says "I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that" on your birth certificate, right?
Have you always used this name? I doubt it very much.
In the movie, HAL was the biggest computer d-bag that anyone had ever seen before. Is that the image you really want to have? Your call.
I did not force my opinion on anyone, or lied about anything, yet you accused me of both. And why are you so mad at everyone? What drives you to use insults instead of having an open conversation? Many of us have been having open minded conversations, try to participate.
I'm guessing "I see you rollin" isn't on your birth certificate either. Quit being a hypocrite.