July 31, 2014
“There is no better method.” I agree.
I suppose the challenge is that, despite the “wonder” (or awe) we may experience through humanity’s use of the scientific method, it’s still not as personally satisfying for a lot of people unless “God” is considered to be a part of our reality.
But this is where I think humanism also plays a strong role in the lives of the non-believer. It’s about encouraging ourselves (and others?) to seek and find what is personally satisfying in our natural world. And it’s more than just satisfying our fives senses. It’s also about finding new perspectives in life that change our priorities or highlight different values.
The longer we live, the more we see that personal satisfaction is not always easy, or simple. Discovering our own place in the bigger picture of inclusivity and diversity leads not only to finding purpose and meaning for one’s own life but also leads to an awareness of various de-humanizing actions against one another. Being faced with a myriad of social responsibilities are overwhelming and not something we had in mind when seeking personal satisfaction.
Hope in a “God” may ease this burden for a lot of people and inspire them to keep moving forward – a result that I think is worth appreciation. But what also needs appreciation is how non-believers build up the courage to move forward without that ethereal belief.
We find hope in all sorts of places for all sorts of burdens. It can start with simply hearing the words, “It gets better” from those with similar burdens, similar stories that can help us get through the next day. We may find hope by taking action, getting involved by creating public awareness, and supporting a grass roots movement to bring about change. We may find hope through the pursuit of educating ourselves, learning more about the burdens we face, where they came from, who’s involved, how has the matter evolved over time. We might seek political change through our votes, and letters to our representatives. Or maybe we just need to step back a bit, read a book or go to the lake, have a beer with friends and then return to face our burdens with a little more strength.
For a lot of people, no matter how unrealistic “God” may seem to be, he is still the ultimate default in times of trouble, the cherished “go-to” when things get tough. God may not be the only go-to, mind you, but anything else is too weak for personal satisfaction. Maybe it’s all just a different version of “stepping back”, an escapism or respite from the natural world? I don’t know. The result is that people find a way to move forward one way or another. And that’s nothing to scoff at.
In the end, when we feel less burdened, I think we need to remind ourselves to reflect on the different means we turn to in order to gain new found courage. Because it’s an opportunity to evaluate and keep in mind our best options for seeking inspiration and hope during those times when we need it most.
Not surprisingly, I prefer the natural reality over a supernatural one, and I encourage others to do the same. Because, along with the scientific affirmation of it’s true existence, we know it works. We know that somewhere, in our natural reality, we can find hope, and so can anyone else.
January 13, 2014
Richard Carrier gives us an intelligent and compassionate look at the facts…
Humanity has gathered volumes of factual knowledge that unintentionally, but overwhelmingly contradicts the imaginative world of Christian faith.
The only hope for me to become a believer again is if I lost all memory of, and repeatedly ignored learning about, these kinds of facts and their logical conclusions.
Because, seriously, these conclusions are a tremendous challenge to the presumed characteristics of God!
February 20, 2011
However, if peoples’ highest priority is wanting to believe in something they think is more worthy than believing in it’s competing beliefs, good debaters are needed.
Good debaters realize they have more to address than the part of the mind that collects and compares information. “Pathos” and “Ethos” are just as important as “Logos” when communicating/relating with others (a lesson I’ve been learning from my favorite rhetorician). And good debaters make good use of rhetoric to counter-act whatever misuses of rhetoric the opposition employs…
February 11, 2011
October 24, 2010
…The words NATURAL and RANDOM are not meant to exclude an intelligent agent: they are meant to accurately describe the process. The fact that gods become redundant is a side effect of the power of evolutionary explanations. All of our observations of evolution are adequately explained by random chance as the dominant force in our history, with directionality and function conferred by local, short term adaptation. There is no teleological force. There is no evidence of divine or even intelligent intervention in our past. Is this smart theology? To promote the counterfactual and unsupportable? It’s cunning and weird and increases the complexity of the model to postulate imaginary and unexaminable forces, but it doesn’t make it right.
…This “monogenism” is apparently an important (and sophisticated!) assertion. It’s an insistence on the idea that Adam and Eve were unique, real, and literal individuals and that the entire human race is directly descended from them with no other contribution from other individuals of that time. Some are fine with the idea that Adam and Eve were themselves the product of evolution and had non-human ancestors, while others insist that they had to have been divinely and magically created without parents, but at some point in time the Catholic god set these two, and only these two, people apart, bestowed them with souls, and set them to work procreating to generate the entirety of the human species.
That’s some genetic bottleneck. One pair. That’s it. Talking about populations defies sophisticated Catholic theology.
Unfortunately for them, it also defies population genetics and again violates the principles of evolutionary biology. Evolution is precisely about changes in populations over time, not individuals, and furthermore, a relatively recent bottleneck in genetic diversity that narrow would be apparent in our genomes. When you get right down to it, it turns out that Catholics are not supposed to accept evolution — they are only expected to embrace a superficial and literally falsified version of evolution that strips out the entirety of its mechanism.
…They also declare that Adam and Eve were real people and the sole progenitors of the human race, for exactly the same reason: original sin. Christian doctrine is built on the notion that all people are intrinsically guilty and sinful, and the specific crime they are guilty of is the act of disobedience by Eve described in the book of Genesis. While much of the rest of Genesis can be treated as poetic metaphor by Catholics, that ‘fact’ must be indisputable — we’re all sinners because Adam and Eve broke the rules in the Garden of Eden.
I know. Inherited guilt is absurd, but that’s how sophisticated theology works.
Why do Catholics have to prop up this concept of original sin? Because Jesus’s sacrifice makes no sense if it wasn’t done to atone for a universal crime. We all must have inherited that sin, or some of us are innocent and Jesus was irrelevant to us. Can’t have that! That would mean we weren’t subject to the domain of Christianity.
October 23, 2010
Imagine a detective beginning with a hearsay account of a murder, and without knowing who made this assertion, and without any empirical evidence that there was a murdered victim, or that the said person had even existed, yet proceeded to seriously investigate the hearsay claims, apply criteria of embarrassment and dissimilarity to that unsourced assertion, and on that basis bring charges against someone in court!
September 11, 2010
The question “Why?” is a crafty one.
It seems to have the amazing power to take you to an understanding of another’s motivations, a primary cause, and a deep perception of reality. It can be a means to disillusionment, a breaker of personal paradigms, and a schooling of scepticism.
Can there be any questions more powerful than this one?
Way back when, questions like “What?” and “How?” always seemed too mechanical for me, too impersonal. I was looking for ‘the meaning (purpose) of life’, why we are here.
I thought, I can’t begin to explore what I’m meant to do unless I’ve at least started to seriously look into what kind of person I’m meant to be. I wanted to avoid unhealthy choices (and their consequences) by knowing what is truthful, what is right, what is life-enhancing. I remember hearing more than once among gathered christians sometime ago, “We are not human doings, we’re human beings.” And my christian self tried to make the best of this odd cliche by choosing to interpret (or re-write) it to mean: choosing righteous acts rely on having a righteous understanding of our being.
I think it’s safe to say that I made the “Why?” question the greater context where all other questions can find their answers. I made it their home. And this means that I’ve also made the ‘Why?’ question a cosmic question. I saw it as the means to the most authoritative (authoritarian?) understanding on anything and everything. This is a huge creation of mine because the ‘Why?’ question has the power to direct you to a source that is conscious, a source with intention, with personal motivations. Making it a cosmic question is fundamentally making the assumption that there is a cosmic consciousness, a personally motivated intention.
How is it that I made such an assumption? Here’s how: I believed in the existence of a personal being powerful enough to create all that is natural, including a reality that is supernatural. It is this type of perception that sees purpose and reason behind all that is non-personal. And if you feel fundamentally (existentially?) lost, it is this type of perception that assures you that you are surrounded by direction, by purpose, by insight that is all encompassing. Then, you can “know” (in your heart) that something someone (communicating from where?) far more authoritative than our unreliable humanness will take care of us. And this personal (hidden?) being is the ultimate source for finding security and significance.
BUT DON’T FORGET!!! All this personal direction is based on an ancient assumption (most likely inherited from one’s parents), an ancient assumption that a “God” exists.
I’m an atheist now. The big “Why?” questions have shrunk down into human form. Now, I wait for evidence of this supreme being before making the question “Why?” an all-encompassing, personal context for other questions like “How?” and “What?”
May 27, 2010
A living can be made by a literal monkeying around with deception!