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Jul 31 2008

Life, the universe, and everything (or, I’m An Atheist And So Can You!)

I feel the need to warn you right now, this is going to be an extremely long post, and I earnestly hope it spurs some honest and frank discussion amongst you, my loyal few readers.  And I’m going to try not to make the Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy references too prevalent.  This all started on reading an interview with Richard Dawkins, prominent author and noted atheist.  Read it if you want, but it’s long too, and I’d prefer you read me first.  I worked hard on this!

In this post, I’m going to do something that, normally, I dislike, when I am on the receiving end.  I’m going to proselytize.  I will try to turn your fundamental beliefs regarding the nature of the universe on their ear.  I am going to attempt to convince you that you are an atheist.

That’s right, an atheist.  And I’m going to let you in on a little secret — you really are, whether you know it or not.  If you believe in even one god, then you disbelieve in thousands, millions, maybe even an infinite panoply of others.  If you believe in the Judeo-Christian God, then you disbelieve in Thor, Buddha, Shiva, and the Great Green Arkleseizure.

Think about that for a moment — the fact that you believe in one god means you don’t believe in any of the other possible ones.  Even if you have a wobbly sense of what “god” is, and attempt to rebut this point with the obvious “one god, many faces” idea, these gods often have qualities that will make them mutually exclusive.  Buddha, being pacifist, is most assuredly not Mars, the Greek god of War, nor is he the vengeful God of the Old Testament.  So, now that you’ve accepted that you obviously cannot reconcile every incarnation of every god that humankind has ever believed in (most of which you have probably never even heard of), then that means there are gods that you DON’T believe in.  So, what makes the god that you DO believe in, so special and unique?  True atheists, as Richard Dawkins is so fond of pointing out, simply go one god further, and say that none exist.

Okay, you ask — so I’m an atheist, what does that actually mean to me?  What difference does that make in my life?  How does that affect the price of tea in China, so to speak?  Well, it’s simple.  It means that when you do not understand how something works, you are no longer allowed to automatically assume that there is a supernatural explanation.  If you won the lottery, it’s because you happened to pick the right numbers, not because some otherworldly being willed it (someone was bound to hit the right numbers, if enough people played for long enough, or if someone was able to calculate exactly what numbers would come up in the pseudo-randomness of the random number selection).  If your house caught on fire, and you happened to be out of the building, and your cat escaped, this does not mean that God protected you and your cat from the fire.  It more than likely means that your house coincidentally caught on fire while you were away (and it’s possible that your negligence may have directly affected the house catching fire, don’t forget), and your cat’s survival instincts kicked in and it managed to find a way out as well.

So, ultimately, there’s a scientific explanation for everything that happens, for everything that will happen, and for everything that has happened in the past.  This does not mean that the universe is a cold, bleak place.  The universe is beautiful, it is wondrous, and it is still deeply, deeply mysterious.  We don’t know everything there is to know about everything.  We hardly know anything, in a cosmic sense.  We’ve figured out a few of the rules by which the universe plays, however we haven’t by a long shot mastered any single branch of science.  I’d be surprised if we even managed to hit 1% of all that is knowable in the universe presently, to be quite honest.

Which brings me to my next point, where I backpedal a bit on what I said earlier.

The universe *is* finite.  We (by which I mean scientists, the guys on whose shoulders I’m trying to stand) are pretty sure it started as an infinitessimally tiny, infinitessimally dense speck containing all the matter that exists in this universe (picture the end result of a “giant” black hole having eaten *everything there is*), and something happened to cause it to explode violently enough to eject all of that matter outward.

If you say “God did it”, you’re still thinking like a deist.  Remember, you’re an atheist now, so play along.  I’ll get to your thought on that matter in a moment.

Now, the fact that the universe is finite — there’s only so much matter in the universe, and it all got thrown outward by a violent explosion — means there’s a limit to the universe.  Yes, the word finite implies this, but I have to stress this point.  There’s a limit to the universe.  I don’t know what happens if we were to fly out past this limit — past the point where the furthest star in the furthest galaxy got flung billions of light-years away from here.  Maybe you’ll basically expand the definition as to what the limit is, and the universe will contain every star plus you way out stretching the edge of the bubble just by flying out past that border.  Maybe you’ll hit something and get bounced back.  Maybe you’ll wrap around to the other side.  Maybe there’s a whole lot of emptiness for a very, very long time, then eventually a big glass wall.

And you know what?  It doesn’t matter.  All of that, is irrelevent.  Everything that exists outside this universe is totally, and completely, irrelevent.  And… guess where God would live?  That’s right, outside the universe, being that he would have had to be outside it to create it, or to flick that one atom sideways just enough to cause the Big Bang that started it all.

So.  Here’s the backpedal.  IF God (or Vishnu or Apollo or Krishna or whatever) exists — which means that I’m wrong about there being no God — then s/he exists outside the scope of that which we, as humans, can know.  And since we can’t know anything about that which exists outside our universe, why should it care about us, outside of the actual initial creation event?

But wait, you say.  What about miracles, divinely inspired books, ghosts and angels, near death experiences?  Why, that’s easy — miracles are simply fortunate coincidences that impress themselves upon your emotions by virtue of their fortunate nature; the divinely inspired book was no more divinely inspired than my blog (no, that does NOT mean you can worship me, dammit!), there’s absolutely zero evidence that ghosts and angels exist, and near death experiences are the brain’s last fireworks show before turning the lights out on your life.  Prove that ghosts exist, prove that the afterlife exists, and I’ll start believing in them.  Remember, I said earlier that we don’t even know 1% of what there is to know.  This leaves a huge range of what-we-don’t-knows, like telepathy (some creature out there in this vast universe may very well be able to tap into a telepathic network that we don’t know about), ghosts (nobody presently understands why networks of neurons happen to form in such a way as to produce sentience, and it would indeed be a shame if this sentience was fleeting), et cetera.  So, there’s a lot of room within which all sorts of crazy, seemingly supernatural stuff can exist, we just aren’t able to prove it yet.  Maybe some day we will.  Until then, there’s no point in pretending that because we can’t know everything, we can’t know anything, and fall back on “God did it”.

Now that we’ve established the ground rules for what we can know and what we can’t, it’s time to get into the crazy theories.

Have you ever played The Sims?  A game where you can create characters that interact with one another in a virtual house that you can design and manipulate?  This is what’s called a “God game”.  There’s a God game I’m waiting for at the moment, called Spore, wherein you get to control and direct a species’ evolution from single celled organism all the way up to advanced civilization capable of space flight. What do these games have in common?  Three seconds.  Two… one.

That’s right, they’re a computer simulation of a universe, which plays by its pre-defined rules.

What if this universe, this very universe in which we reside, is a computer simulation something like that?  A “Matrix”, only instead of being a place to keep human consciousness alive to be used as batteries, I’m talking writ even larger.  Like, every single molecule, every single atom, every quark, muon and gluon that makes up these atoms, is all stored in some vast bank of RAM including its position in the universe, what it’s doing now, and what it was doing one unit of time ago.  Add a CPU to process what these base units of matter are going to do next, and a program that defines the rules by which these particles play (e.g., thermodynamics, gravity, chemistry, etc — if ever we discover a “Grand Unified Theory of Everyting”, then that’s the program by which the universe plays).  The only thing you’re missing from that scenario is a computer engineer “one level up”, outside our universe, to turn the switch on, to give that first atom that initial sideways flick.  Would that engineer be rightly named “God”?  What if some other engineer actually did the programming, or built the RAM, and this guy who we’re now calling God is actually just some slob on the night shift?  And do you think he’s constantly playing with the simulation to make our lives better or worse, or is he just sitting back drinking coffee waiting for the simulation to end so he can start looking at the results?

Okay, all of that is way out there, I mean loony bin material.  So, forget all of it.  Forget the idea that the universe is actually a computer simulation.  Why did I say it all, then?  Well, mostly because I tend to think in computer terms, and it helps me extrapolate out what the universe is doing and why it’s doing it.  Also, the nature of the universe — whether it’s been created by some magical being outside the scope of the universe, or whether it’s all going on inside the databanks of a computer — is totally irrelevent, and thus not worth even pondering, because it happens outside the scope of that which is possible for humankind to know.

So, what IS possible for humankind to know?  Well, we’ve figured out a lot already.  We know that there exists really tiny particles that, when arranged correctly, create atoms.  We know that atoms, when arranged correctly, create molecules.  We know that molecules can have a reaction when they touch other molecules, which is called chemistry.  We even know that atoms can be manipulated by us, in fission or fusion reactions, usually by making use of properties of chemistry that we’ve discovered.

In the field of chemistry, we know that certain chemicals can become amino acids when they are given an electrical charge.  As well, we know that amino acids can self-replicate.  When certain amino acids team up, they can work in tandem and survive and multiply in areas where, alone, they would be in danger of being wiped out.  This brings us to the subset of chemistry, biology.  Our very DNA is made out of these amino acids.  Extrapolating backward, one can safely assume that a group of amino acids eventually formed the first single-celled organism.  (That’s right, the “primordial ooze” theory.)  This organism was also capable of reproducing.  And in reproducing, if the next generation happened to have a random mutation, caused by the reproduction process not going exactly right (due to radiation, chemicals, or just plain luck — have you ever photocopied a sheet of paper and had it turn out exactly identically?), and that reproduction with the “flaw” turned out to actually be better equipped to handle its environment than Dear Old Dad, then the reproduction would have a better chance of surviving and thus reproducing.  And in reproducing, because you’re basically copying yourself, your mutations would be copied down to the next generation.

And that’s evolution, right there — that thing that so many people seem to be attacking nowadays.  Add a few hundred billion years, and countless generations of reproduction, and you’ve basically explained why it is that life can come to exist on a particular rock out in the vastness of space, and all without some spiritual supernatural being applying a guiding hand to the process.  How do we know this can happen?  Well, because we’re here, and there’s life everywhere, in all sorts of forms — plants, insects, bacteria, mammals, and us.  And it can live in every far-flung environment that exists on our planet.  So, since the universe is REALLY REALLY REALLY BIG, chances are it’s happened elsewhere as well.

Some religious types believe that religion answers the “why” of the universe while science answers the “how”.  This is okay, for some people.  It keeps the religious types who are moderate, nice, reasonable, thoughtful people, from deeming science to be evil, heretical and wrong.  Unfortunately, there are extremists — people who believe that those that are different from them are evil, heretical and wrong — and these extremists are capable of vastly evil acts themselves, like the jackass in Tennessee that just shot up that Universalist Unitarian church because it was filled with “liberals and gays”.  Richard Dawkins believes that those people who allow “religious tolerance” and teach tolerance of faith to their kids, are directly responsible for fostering the environment within which these hateful people have come into being.  I would not be surprised if that was the case, but I have been instilled with a respect for other people’s beliefs personally, a respect that I can’t shake even in the face of the possibility of that respect breeding intolerance and hatred in those people whose faith overcomes their sense of reason.

I’m sure I haven’t even scratched the surface of my belief system here.  But this is a good start for tonight.

What do you think, folks?

19 comments

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  1. 1
    Clifton

    There is a god. His name is God Rodriguez, or God-Rod, an otherworldly pro athlete who unwittingly clicked on the wrong pop-up and unleashed a fury of malevalent activity on his supercomputer. We’re allowed to exist only because spybot hasn’t quite figured us out yet.

    You have been unsuccessful in your quest to turn my beliefs on their ear, as I already agreed with you. You are a miserable failure. :)

  2. 2
    Clifton

    You were right, you shouldn’t have said oeuvre.

  3. 3
    jason.pickles

    So can I be an atheist and believe in ghosts?

  4. 4
    Jason Thibeault

    Oh no! Clifton already agreed with me, EPIC FAIL. Wait, actually, that means that you think I’m right. I just failed to change your opinion. I’d say that’s a net win!

    Pickles, uh, that depends. You don’t believe in a holy ghost do you?

    Like I said, show me the proof that they can exist within the rules of the universe as we understand it, and I’ll believe in ghosts too. Until then, ghosts are supernatural, and supernatural things don’t get put into the “what’s real” box.

  5. 5
    Jason Thibeault

    Also, I know that my saying “if there’s a god, we can’t know about it, ever”, technically makes me agnostic, which means “neither believes nor denies the existence of god”. I think I’ve decided that, because the existence of a magic being is outside the scope of what we can know, and because I’ve summarily dismissed everything that’s outside the scope of what we can know as irrelevent, then we humans must therefore logically behave as though there is no god.

    The upshot of this is, as long as there’s some people who believe in god, and some people who don’t, if it turns out this is all in God-Rod’s simulation parameters, he won’t run Spybot any time soon as long as we keep one of each type of believer.

    (Hopefully God-Rod doesn’t turn out to be Mesopotamian. I doubt there’s many believers in those particular gods any more.)

  6. 6
    Jason Thibeault

    You made some good points, but it still puzzles me when people (on either side of this seeming divide between science and religion) try to change the beliefs of other people. Not that most of this post really applies to me personally, because you mostly talked about ‘God’ as a supernatural being, and I don’t believe any of that to begin with. However I don’t like being labeled or put into a box in any way shape or form, I feel calling myself an atheist still draws me too close to ‘all that stuff’ surrounding religion simply by negative attachment. I also find my own inner peace in not needing to define what I believe, and by allowing it to constantly change and evolve as I find things that feel right to me. Thus trying to change what I believe is a big waste of your time and energy :P

    Also, I don’t know if you realized that you were basically proposing thought control? That’s not very liberal of you :P You might think these things are not worth thinking about (and btw, if you really believed that you wouldn’t have spent two hours writing this blog post :P) but I like to think about them now and then. It’s fun to think about things you don’t understand, and I’ll be damned if I let someone else tell me what I should and shouldn’t be thinking, even if you are my boyfriend :P I love you but my thoughts are my own thanks ;)

    *kisses*

  7. 7
    Clifton

    OMGWTFBBQPWNED

  8. 8
    Jason Thibeault

    LOL

  9. 9
    Jason Thibeault

    I was just reading it over again because by the time I got to the end I couldn’t remember the points I’d come across that I wanted to comment on lol

    I stumbled on this line the first time and the second time:
    “Maybe some day we will. Until then, there’s no point in pretending that because we can’t know everything, we can’t know anything, and fall back on “God did it”.”

    Could you possibly clarify that for me? I’m not sure what you’re getting at with the ‘we can’t know anything’ part. It’s not that I disagree with you, I just don’t understand your meaning lol

  10. 10
    Jason Thibeault

    I said at the beginning of the post that I don’t much like it when other people try to convince me of their beliefs. I thought the irony of that would give me at least a little bit of a cushion against the charge that I’m trying to force you in any way to believe what I say (even though I argue from a forceful position through the entire post). It’s your life, believe what you want.

    The word “atheist” has negative connotations for exactly the same reason that the word “liberal” does — because it has been equated with evil, with selfishness, by the people who have the most to lose when someone believes it. Being “godless” does not make you evil. I consider myself to have a very good moral code, even if it doesn’t derive from any particular god. The only way that the word atheist is going to regain its original meaning (without the negative connotations) is if we atheists take the word, own it, and accept it as our label.

    As for thought control, there’s a huge difference between telling you that what’s outside the scope of human knowledge is unverifiable and thus unknowable and thus irrelevant, and doing something to control whether or not you’re “allowed” to think about those things. I obviously hypothesized on the nature of the universe and God-Rod’s role in it (love that, thanks Clifton!), even though it’s irrelevant and unverifiable. I’m just saying that for the purposes of shaping your behavior and your life’s choices, because they’re irrelevant, you shouldn’t worry so much about them, and should instead go about your business under the assumption that while there’s no god that you’re trying to please, you should be working toward the betterment of the planet, mankind, and your life, in that order, whenever possible.

    The “no point in pretending that because we can’t know everything, we can’t know anything” line is referencing a very specific line of argument that particularly intellectually lazy creationists will use. It goes something like this: “you don’t have an explanation for what started the universe, and you don’t have definitive proof that everything you know about science is true, and ten minutes from now you may discover something that makes you have to scrap everything you know so far about science, therefore we as humans should not rely on science, and should instead accept that God did it all because ‘God did it all’ definitely won’t change in ten minutes”.

    In that sentence that you stumbled on, as poorly worded as it was, I was saying, just because we don’t know everything, and just because what we do know is subject to revision, doesn’t mean we should give up and start believing in supernatural explanations.

  11. 11
    Jason Thibeault

    I see, thanks, I was aware of that line of argument but I just didn’t make the connection, possibly because of the poor wording. :P

    As for Atheism being negative, that was poorly worded on my part, as that’s not what I was talking about. By ‘negative attachment’ I didn’t mean that I didn’t want to be associated with a ‘negative’ word. It was more along the lines of being tied to and associated with religion simply by sitting yourself on the field across from them as the opposition. I’d rather not be on the field at all. I don’t know if that made any more sense or not.

  12. 12
    Me

    ADMIN NOTE: I edited the time on this when I pulled it out of the spam bucket so it would appear at the end of the conversation, so as not to break up the flow of comments that probably would have taken this post into account prior to posting.

    Seriously, dude, you couldn’t just leave that one alone? I feel I must say something else you might think less of me.

    First off, Buddha is not a god. Buddha was a man whose name was Siddhartha. He became Gautama Buddha after he reached enlightenment. A state that I don’t believe has ever been achieved since and certainly not by anyone in today’s society. (Sorry had to point out that error just to be a prick.)

    Second, those people who believe in god, and I mean truly believe, are doing so out of faith. They are the very few and rare folks who accept that there is far more to the world in which they live then the tiny amount of knowledge we puny humans have so far gathered. The majority of the people who profess to believe in god have no idea what they actually believe in as can be evidenced by their actions. These folks do so out of blind faith (very different from plain old faith) and ignorance and we all know how hard it is to argue with the ignorant. They refuse to change their minds because they can’t accept that they might have been wrong and they are dangerous.

    I count myself among the very few and rare as I have a much different belief in god then do the vast majority. My reason for making that claim is the one underlying rule by which I live. I do not have to agree with your beliefs; I just have to respect them.

    Which will make my next statement seem contradictory.

    I have no tolerance for organized religion. As much as I believe in god I also firmly believe that organized religion is the main reason for the horrible state the world is in. There are those that would say otherwise and they may be right. However religion certainly does not practice what it preaches with respect to tolerance and love.

    This brings me to atheism. I don’t believe in it (no, you will never change my mind ) but I respect those that do and I can understand why they chose to do so. However an atheist debating religion and god is akin to a man blind from birth describing the sunset. You can’t understand the blind faith, or in some extreme cases blatant stupidity, so you can’t debate it properly. When someone says “God made it so”, in their mind that is the end of the argument. And while I can sympathize with the massive frustration the atheist will feel, I can’t understand why an atheist would chose to debate faith. You can’t win. You might as well tell a 3 year old they can never have another cookie and expect to do so without getting asked why. It just isn’t going to happen. The very nature of faith is such that a person will believe in the face of overwhelming stupidity. The Muslim “peace” demonstrations where people were carrying signs saying “Behead Those Who Insult Islam” makes my point far more eloquently then I ever could. It is far better to simply use the religious persons own prejudices against them and then point out their hypocrisy. You won’t win that argument either but you can have a lot of fun pissing them off by pointing out their own screwups.

    At the end of the day those that believe will still believe and will assume your arguments are tools of the devil. Sadly there is no way to debate with a person of blind faith. I learned this recently when a friend of mine read me a passage from the bible about a boat making for the beach when I mentioned my love of sailing. After listening to the passage, I stated that whoever wrote it didn’t know a damn thing about boats because what was written wouldn’t work in the real world. He became indignant and quite angry with me. He said that God most certainly did know more about boats then I did and that the scripture was right because god didn’t make mistakes. No matter how I tried I could not get my friend to understand that the bible he was reading had been translated by a man and not written by the hand of god. At the end I simply called it a loss and left. My theory is I wouldn’t argue with a three year old over a cookie, I am not about to argue with an adult over a book that was translated by someone who may or may not have been reading from original texts in a language that doesn’t translate well to English.

    As for the many faces of god? Why not? After all actors play many different movie roles and we still watch them. I think Tom Cruise is a nut, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy his acting. His views don’t diminish his talent on screen.

    Now let’s see if I can manage to upset both atheists and religious people at the same time, feels like a challenge to me and I so enjoy a challenge.

    The fossil record clearly shows differing humanoid species over the time line of the earth. This can not be in doubt as there are too many to dismiss. This is the basis for evolution. The fossil record does not show definitive links but the theory is that one group evolved into another with some dead ending in the family tree and others going on to differing branches. But you could also make the claim that “god” created each one of those humanoid species and then went away to do something else in another part of the universe. Sort of like gardening, say. God gave the humanoids free will and the ability to reason and think for themselves. God wanted to start them off with nothing and see what they made for themselves. Then after a while he (or she) comes back to see how we are doing. Sadly the humanoids have created religion because they needed something to believe in. They created various gods to explain why they were on earth and then started warring with each other over whose god was better. The end result was nothing but fighting and screwed up society so totally that the entire experiment has to be scrapped and started over. Each time god would wipe the earth clean and start over again building a new group of organisms a little bit better then the last ones. But each time the humanoids screwed it up and had to be destroyed because they just couldn’t stop killing each other. This would account for the fossil record, the extinction of the species that have lived and for all the various myths and legends found in archeology surrounding differing gods. And each time god tries it we get a little further along before he has to clean up and start over again adding to the fossil record. God spends more and more time away from us because we aren’t the only experiment going on and some of the other experiments in the universe are working where we are failing. Which is why the universe is growing, some things are working and need more space. So god spends more time watching the successful experiments while ignoring the failures. At some point I’m sure god will come back, kill us all off and start over. Or god can wait and we will do it ourselves and then the earth will once again be a clean slate and ready for something else. Assuming god still cares which isn’t a safe bet considering the way we all act toward each other.

    But I could be wrong and maybe I’ll end up in hell for my arrogant ways. Actually I hope so because the devil is a pussy and I think I can kick his ass, which means I’ll be charge and hell will be a rockin place. So I’ll see all you atheists there and I promise no torture for not believing in god. After all you are far better people then most of those that do believe in god.

  13. 13
    Jason Thibeault

    You offend me Me (or ‘Bob’)! You better come to one of our new-house gatherings, just so I can NOT give you brownies.

    :P

  14. 14
    Jason Thibeault

    Bob, brilliant. Bravo. There are only two parts of your comment I will debate you on, and for very specific reasons.

    First: “an atheist debating religion and god is akin to a man blind from birth describing the sunset”. This implies that the faithful have some positive quality that is lacking in non-believers. When I was young, when I was told about God, I believed it, because I didn’t have a better explanation. When I found a better explanation, I excised God from my worldview and replaced him with that real quality that can be found in everything, in everyone — science. Not that I worship science, mind you — even when I believed, I didn’t actively try to appeal to God for anything. I prayed when I was told to say my prayers, even though I didn’t understand nobody was actually listening or acting on them. Then, when my eyes were opened to science, and I saw how elegant and beautiful the universe actually was, I needed to learn more.

    So, a better analogy would be that the people who try to describe the universe without looking at it, using only what a book told them, are the ones that are blind from birth — or rather, they are the ones whose eyes have been closed since birth, and they’ve never bothered to open them. Something like Plato’s allegory of the cave. Being faithful is not, to me, a particularly positive quality, not even in my own case where I have to rely on faith in the scientific method as I can’t verify the results myself.

    And the second point I will debate you on is this — if God is weeding the life that has sprung up in its absence, that means God is actually driving evolution, which implies an active hand in our development. As there is no evidence of an active hand outside of “natural selection”, which is to say, that which can survive better, will survive better, and in surviving will pass its genes on to the next generation, you seem to be arguing that God *is* natural selection. In actuality, if you replace “God” with “the rules by which the universe functions”, or in short form, “science”, then you’ve argued my point for me. Regardless, the point is, Occam’s Razor suggests that in this particular equation, because “natural selection” (or “science”) explains the process of evolution as well as the idea that God is weeding the tree’s roots, you should choose the theory that involves the least unnecessary entities.

    Besides, God exists outside the scope of what we can and cannot know. So for now, let’s just figure out the rules instead of figuring out who wrote them or how they were written. Once we know what the rules are, exactly, then speculation as to how they were written may even one day lead to knowing “god”.

  15. 15
    Clifton

    There is a lot to read here, and I’m a busy man, so I will only say this:

    Did someone say brownies?

  16. 16
    Jason Thibeault

    Actually Bob, what you said was very interesting, and I actually managed to follow your train of thought without rolling my eyes even once which is what usually results from reading things about God, especially from some of my more religious friends (Love them to death, but they drive me to frustration).
    I don’t think I completely agree with your theory about the fossil records, but I’ll have to do a little extra research (My memory of ancient history class is getting rusty) before I can properly debate the subject.
    Good reading though.

  17. 17
    Me

    My analogy about god weeding is just my own personal theory and has no more or less validity then anything else I have read. In fact Jason’s analogy about the universe being a computer and evolution a program that someone switched on is as valid as any I have ever heard. They both explain how we got here and what has happened along the way. Both have a plausible explanation that requires a person to think about and reason with. Both offer the reader something to grasp.

    But at the end of the day does any of it really matter? Seriously what does it matter how we came to be? Aside from answering some inate curiosity how we got to where we are is really not important at all. If I evolved or was created has no bearing on how I treat people. How I look at the universe has no bearing on how I treat people. What does have a bearing is how others treat me. If they chose to treat me in a lesser way becaseu i disagree with them about anything, relgion included, then I would have to say they really aren;t worth my time. I enjoy the debate but that’s all it is, a debate. No one at this point can prove that anyone is wither right or wrong about how we got here. There is far too much missing data. Which is why I have said before and will continue to say, what you believe all comes down to a leap of faith.

    The only thing that is truly important is what we do with what we have now and how nicely we play with the other kids in the sandbox. It saddens me that a lot of people quote rules from a book that they claim explains everything, then completely and totally fail to follow those same rules themselves. But then I’m and antisocial arrogant asshole so what do I know.

  18. 18
    Jason Thibeault

    Yes!! Exactly! It doesn’t matter HOW we got here, or WHY, because these things are not verifiable. So you can speculate on those two points, but no matter what we do we can’t verify that our speculations are right or wrong. So let’s try to get along and forget about our preconceived notions about the “how and why”, because in the grand scheme of things they don’t matter outside of curiosity’s sake.

    The important thing is to be a good person, to improve humankind however you can, and in the meantime, try to figure out what all these rules are that the universe runs on, because in discovering those rules we can manipulate them and thus improve humankind.

    We could also improve humankind by providing it with brownies.

    Mmm… brownies.

  19. 19
    Me

    If I have to be a “good person” to get brownies I’m going to starve to death cause I’m an asshole. But on the plus side I freely admit this. So what kind of treat do honest assholes get?

  1. 20
    Lousy Canuck » Who’s dogmatic?

    [...] am an agnostic atheist. I have said so a number of times, the earliest being here. That means that I know it’s impossible to disprove the merest possibility of a deity that [...]

  2. 21
    Some of my older atheism/science posts you probably haven’t read « Lousy Canuck

    [...] of my first posts on atheism, Life, the universe, and everything (or, I’m An Atheist And So Can You!): The universe *is* finite. We (by which I mean scientists, the guys on whose shoulders I’m trying [...]

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