Theism vs. Atheism: Civil Discussion

Only in your view the extraordinariness is entirely a product of evolution and whatever worth it has it entirely in your mind. I contend that no one can live this way and that we all go about our daily life believing their is something valuable to the things we do that is not entirely a product of ourselves. No whether the source of this value lies in evolution or something else, I also contend that most atheists have stopped exploring the meaning of it. They accept that their live has meaning without exploring what that could possibly mean. Atheism is as comforting as religion in this sense. One gives you answers and the other shuts out the possibility of questions.

You are assuming a lot of things about what I believe. You might want to stop and perhaps ask first.

In any case, I contend that your atheism and rational-scientific viewpoint has simply allowed you to put aside the question of meaning and get on with life. But that question is still there to anyone honest enough to confront it. And despite some trying to confine religion to a belief in a bearded space man, it is and always has been a quest for the meaning of our existence.

I am not saying any of this to offend you. But it’s clear that we all think we are special and that is a pretty weird thing to believe if we also believe we are nothing but a random temporary collection of atoms.

I’m special in the sense that I am me, and I am conscious of being me… Beyond that, I don’t think I’m special at all. :wink:

I’m formally inviting you to share your beliefs, by the way. That’s why we’re here, right :slight_smile:

The extraordinainess is a product of evolution, but there’s more than that: there’s also learning. From learning, we are privy to a slice of the sum of human knowledge and experience accumulated over the centuries. Evolution provides the hardware and perhaps some rudimentary software; learning adds the majority of the software.

These don’t affect merely ourselves: our knowledge and experiences guide our words and actions, and these have effects on others.

Oh sure, in a celestial sense we’re no more special than a stone, a collection of atoms, more interesting while we last but no where near as persistent.

But I don’t care about that. You made a very nice list above of all that’s special about my life. I don’t need to prove it, nor do I care to. Now that Mr. MM, I couldn’t be more certain of, and it is indeed the basis of a lot of happiness. I don’t find it odd at all though.

That’s just me now! There are many paths one can follow in this life.

That is a complete tautology. Experiences have meaning because we have learned that they are meaningful.

The whole point is we could be pieces of software programmed to respond in certain ways. In many respects our bodies are like that as a product of evolution. But we don’t experience life that way and we all know that. Our knowledge of evolution can inform some of the experiences we are having, such as how we fall in love, but it can’t explain the experience of love and the extraordinary level of meaning that we give to our own loved ones.

Where does that meaning lie? If you admit that it is inexplicable and seems to exist somewhere not quite in this world then you have begun to see something of what the religious person does. If you say that the meaning if purely in your head and purely a product of evolution and has no meaning outside that, then I say you are not being honest.

You sound like a true believer in things that can’t be proven or don’t need to be proven. Good for you. :laughing:

I hope more people join this discussion. I think it could get pretty interesting…

I believe I’m here, that’s good enough for me. I’m also beginning to believe that you’re a pretty narrow minded person.

Ha!!! Yeah that’s the way to go, someone gets bitter you get bitter back, and then blame that person for not maintaining civility,which you want to uphold :thumbsup:

How does one quantify happiness?? Theists say you can’t be happy without God…or can’t find “true” happiness…what is true happiness? what constitutes true happiness??? And who measures it??? Is it a moment, like when you see God? Or reach a summit, or ride a huge wave? Or is it a state of being? I still have to meet someone who is happy ALL the time, or joyous or contented whatever you choose to call it.

I don’t think Happiness and the belief in God are related. And if they are then it is clear that believers in God are more conflicted than the ones who don’t.

Haha, I hope we can avoid things getting ugly here. This is what happens when people disagree. It’s best we can just agree to disagree gracefully, and share our own values as much as we comment on or guess at others’.

[quote=“divea”][quote=“dashgalaxy86”]
I’d like to keep it civil and as straightforward, as possible. I apologize if I took a bitter tone in the other threads I posted in on this subject. That won’t happen in this one (unless someone else takes a tone first).
[/quote]

Ha!!! Yeah that’s the way to go, someone gets bitter you get bitter back, and then blame that person for not maintaining civility,which you want to uphold :thumbsup:
[/quote]

Oh divea! :slight_smile:

[quote=“dashgalaxy86”]I’m special in the sense that I am me, and I am conscious of being me… Beyond that, I don’t think I’m special at all. :wink:

I’m formally inviting you to share your beliefs, by the way. That’s why we’re here, right :slight_smile:[/quote]

My views are mostly the same as yours and Chris’, only I had a very strong Catholic upbringing and know from experience that spiritual experiences are real, as real as aesthetic ones, and like aesthetic ones grow sharper and more profound and more common with practice. Which is why I don’t disparage those who have spent a lifetime exploring faith for having a strong faith. It would be as ridiculous as disparaging an artist for spending a lifetime exploring the meaning of dabs of color on flat surface and finding great meaning in them.

Wow, that came out of nowhere, and is entirely undeserved. Looks like the open-minded get really defensive when shown to be as simpleminded in the defense of their beliefs as the fundamentalists. :unamused:

Thankfully there are some grownups around to continue this.

Wow, that came out of nowhere, and is entirely undeserved. Looks like the open-minded get really defensive when shown to be as simpleminded in the defense of their beliefs as the fundamentalists. :unamused:

Thankfully there are some grownups around to continue this.[/quote]

Bullshit, when you call my honest beliefs dishonest and laugh at them, I take issue with that.

Well, sometimes that’s the case with meaning. Kind of like how we learn that something has value (e.g. a truffle), and then it has value. Someone not in the know who happens across a truffle sticking out of the ground might simply kick it into a ditch.

But there are certain subjective experiences that make you say “wow”. A stirring piece of music. A lover’s embrace. A wild ride. A magnificent vista. A sudden flash of understanding. You derive a profoundly pleasant feeling from it. You learn something from it. You assign some kind of meaning to it. This is not tautological: it has meaning because you gave it meaning.

[quote]The whole point is we could be pieces of software programmed to respond in certain ways. In many respects our bodies are like that as a product of evolution. But we don’t experience life that way and we all know that. Our knowledge of evolution can inform some of the experiences we are having, such as how we fall in love, but it can’t explain the experience of love and the extraordinary level of meaning that we give to our own loved ones.

Where does that meaning lie? If you admit that it is inexplicable and seems to exist somewhere not quite in this world then you have begun to see something of what the religious person does. If you say that the meaning if purely in your head and purely a product of evolution and has no meaning outside that, then I say you are not being honest.[/quote]
I believe I’m being honest in saying “I don’t know”. The brain is an supremely complex, highly evolved organ that we’ve barely begun to understand. But we also know that damage to the physical brain can completely alter a person’s understanding, perception and subjective experience, as can drugs, surgical procedures, electrode stimulation and other things. (There are crude ways of quantifying and recording subjective experience, mainly from analyzing first-hand reports of it.)

What the brain experiences is a combination of two things: the physiology of the brain itself and the input it receives from the environment. The way I see it, there’s no evidence (or need) for any supernatural interference. The “more” that we seek when we say “there must be something more” lies deep within the as-yet-unknown-and-may-never-be-fully-known intricacies of the brain. Atoms and electrons; matter and energy. No magic, no shakti, no qi. But the atoms and components are not randomly arranged. Intricately and masterfully organized… by evolution and interaction with the world.

But even then, I don’t know.

Wow, that came out of nowhere, and is entirely undeserved. Looks like the open-minded get really defensive when shown to be as simpleminded in the defense of their beliefs as the fundamentalists. :unamused:

Thankfully there are some grownups around to continue this.[/quote]

Bullshit, when you call my honest beliefs dishonest and laugh at them, I take issue with that.[/quote]

Sigh. You said:

To which I replied:

The :laughing: was there not to mock you but as a good-natured poke. Come on man, you think people who believe in an unproven god are wrong yet you feel not the slightest need to defend your beliefs. That’s funny and I certainly thought you would see the irony and not be offended. I guess you were. Apologies.

[quote=“Mucha Man”]Wow, that came out of nowhere, and is entirely undeserved. Looks like the open-minded get really defensive when shown to be as simpleminded in the defense of their beliefs as the fundamentalists. :unamused:

Thankfully there are some grownups around to continue this.[/quote]
I’m intrigued by your interesting line of inquiry, MM. It keeps the brain juices flowing.

Thanks!!

[quote=“Chris”][quote=“Muzha Man”]Wow, that came out of nowhere, and is entirely undeserved. Looks like the open-minded get really defensive when shown to be as simpleminded in the defense of their beliefs as the fundamentalists. :unamused:

Thankfully there are some grownups around to continue this.[/quote]
I’m intrigued by your interesting line of inquiry, MM. It keeps the brain juices flowing.

Thanks!![/quote]

Thank you. I need to sleep now but tomorrow we can continue. Your last post is a good one but I feel sidesteps the issue somewhat. Many philosophers believe that the problem of the subjectivity of experience will never be solved whereas others believe subjectivity is simply another brain process we will eventually discover. If the former are correct, and I think they are, then the question of meaning will always be unanswered. If the latter are correct, agreeing with you in essence, then meaning truly does reside within us. But then we must answer the Dostoevskian question: if god (or any higher meaning) does not exist, then is everything permissible?

[quote=“Mucha Man”]I’m curious how the atheists deal with Buddhism, which has no deity, or advanced Taoism, or even some christian sects which treat God as the name for what we cannot understand, and not a real figure in outer space? I’m curious how they deal with aesthetic experience that cannot be measured, or aesthetic worth which cannot be proved but is felt by many. How do they explain human love, and if they do so purely by evolution then do they feel that it has no value? If man is the measure of all things then what value in there in your life, your friendship, your judgments, your goals and ambitions.

I’ve known a few true atheists who were honest enough to confront these questions in the light of their atheism and they were predictably unhappy people. Most of us exist as if there is a higher meaning to our actions. Hard to see how we could do otherwise on a day to day basis. Professed atheists are far from being logical and rational; on the contrary by denying religion they have shut down exploring meaning though they act as if it is their in their life anyway.

Atheism in many ways is simply a method of avoiding being honest with yourself that you know there is something special about your existence. Because if you admit that then, wow, does everything change.[/quote]
Ok, I’m a little behind in the discussion, but this line of reasoning comes across as just a little arrogant. What in the world does a belief in god have to do with understanding love, or one’s ability to find meaning in life? Who are you (or theists in general) to tell me what brings meaning to my life? Nobody knows what another person feels, or what life means to them. If anything, you are confirming that religion is more of a crutch to those searching for meaning - oh, my life has meaning because god made me.
Personally, I don’t feel that I have any particular “specialness”, other than the fact that I am a unique individual - both physically/genetically and in the sum of my experiences. How else would my existence be “special”? And why is feeling like it is some requirement for living a happy meaningful life?
I certainly believe that there are things that we don’t or can’t yet understand, but I think that we will understand them someday. We are still learning so many things about ourselves and the universe, things that would have been completely inexplicable or unknowable 100 or 200 years ago. Just because science can’t explain something now doesn’t mean that it never will. And I base that not on a ‘belief’ in science, but on an extrapolation of the evidence.

For what it’s worth, Buddhism is my favorite of the religions, because it is largely a philosophy, but they lose me with all the supernatural bits.