I was raised Catholic, not too strictly. My big sister was the lucky one that went to Catholic school for early elementary. I guess I just kind of floated along, not too strong on religion, but not exactly divorced from it. In 1970, my sophomore year in high school, I saw my first comet (Comet Bennett, a beauty) and got hooked on astronomy. I kind of slid gradually into the realization that the picture religion painted was not exactly correlated with the facts and the appearance of the actual universe, unless you did some serious weaseling and rationalizations. That was my wake-up call. Empiricism trumped dogma. I have been an atheist and an amateur astronomer for 41 years now. The most difficult part for most of my Christian friends and relatives to grasp is the willingness to say “I don’t know- there isn’t enough evidence.” All of my most religious or woo-oriented acquaintances cannot fathom not having total knowledge of the universe. They crave it so much, they invent it out of nowhere. That always struck me as being so tragically sad, not being secure enough in our own mind that you grasp frantically at anything, no matter how counterfactual or downright harmful.
Thanks for pointing out something so glaringly obvious to me that I’ve missed it for my whole life, Jim! Of course that’s the difference between religionists and atheists – the words “We don’t know, but we can find out”.
I’m glad I read this now.
I would like to take your comment a step further and say that not only is it sad that such people invent “knowledge” about things that are unknowable, but it is even sadder that they sacrifice the acceptance of “real knowledge” (scientific beliefs) of knowable, useful things, simply to maintain consistency with their unknowable beliefs.
It is completely erroneous to rank religious, untestable beliefs above scientific, testable beliefs (given that they cannot meaningfully coexist).
Have a good day buddy =)
What I’ve discovered is that this tendency to make things up to fill in the gaps is often described by believers as the exact opposite: embracing “mystery” and accepting that there are things we “cannot know.” Upon which they blithely go on to make claims about the sorts of things we can’t know, again invoking our ignorance and fallibility as just warrant for believing in God.
It’s probably projection on their part when they sneer at science and scientists for thinking they have “all the answers.” Faith is a humble way of knowing you know nothing but can be sure of God and what God lets you know; science is an arrogant method which makes you think you know-it-all. Again, the opposite of reality.
I think they’re telling themselves a story where they’re the child and God is the parent and everything is cut to fit inside that narrative.
Well put. I agree, will add that they like the prophecy aspect of religion, because it gives them sure knowledge of the future as well. As the Bible gives them a short, simple history of the past. Both with explanations and purpose, of course.
Good one, Jim.
Thanks. “I don’t know” is a simple and honest answer to “life, the universe, and everything”. I have said it for many years and it drives believers crazy. It actually makes them, generally, more angry and upset than if you believed some different kind of superstition than theirs.
Another fine epistle. I hope they are all being collected? Thanks for sharing your experience with us my friend.
Amateur astronomy was a big help for me too. It’s one thing to read “In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun” and quite another to actually see the Andromeda Galaxy, or the Crab Nebula, or the beautiful blue and orange Albirio pair.
Jim Mauch says
Boy Jim did you get it right. Not being raised with religion it always intrigued me how our fear of the unknown makes some people fill the void with old made-up answers, rather illogical and unimaginative answers. They go from knowing something to knowing nothing.
Why is helium utterly incapable of forming bonds? At least that’s my understanding of the situation.
I believe it has something to do with the basic structure of the atom, and in helium’s completeness while other atoms, even other noble gases, are not as complete.
There is a “why” science can address, and it’s but one of many.
Monado, FCD says
Very good point, Jim! This hadn’t occurred to me so explicitly, either.
I do want to say sometimes when people are being extra tiresomely judgemental, ‘Can’t you just practise being morally neutral for a few hours?’
I wonder if Believers don’t have the strength of mind to admit to themselves that, to paraphrase James Cameron, [as far as we know] our only purpose is that which we make for ourselves. In other words, We’re too special to be random accidents. How utterly, peristaltically sad to need a God to justify one’s existence and choices.
I wonder if Believers don’t have the strength of mind to admit to themselves that, to paraphrase James Cameron, [as far as we know] our only purpose is that which we make for ourselves. Instead, [the Believers think] We’re too special to be random accidents. How utterly, peristaltically sad to need a God to justify one’s existence and choices.
Ray Martinez says
Jim Atkins: Intelligent design is observed in every aspect of the universe. Your denial is motivated by an intense desire to not come under the authority of your Creator, His Church, and His word. In other words you choose to worship yourself, Darwin, Dawkins, and PZ Myers, etc.etc., that is, other people who do not want to come under the authority of anyone but themself. In other words, like Darwin, Dawkins and Myers, you are just another loser who couldn’t make it with God.
The Bible and Christianity have 2000 years of scholarship showing its scientific and historical veracity. This is why we are Christians and Theists. Our faith is based on facts, reality.
RM (Protestant Evangelical, Old Earth, Paleyan IDist-anti-selectionist-species immutabilist)
'Tis Himself, OM says
Oh look, Ray Martinez is here to inflict his wackaloon woo on us.
So tell us again, Ray, who besides you is a Christian? Nobody, right?
Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says
Fixed that for you Rayturd, liar, and bullshitter. Still no physical evidence for your imaginary deity, or that your babble is anything other than mthology/fiction. That requires an eternally burning bush or equivalent. Funny how you delusional and loud godbots never seem to have heard of it, and understand how good of evidence it would be for your imaginary deity. Making them, like you, abject losers.
I didn’t remember Ray at first, until he tossed out:
And then I remembered the ol’ label-spewing, fact-resistant Paley-fetishist. Seriously, he’s not just an IDiot, he’s an IDiot that explicitly looooves the fucking watchmaker argument. Not the stupidest a creationist has ever been, but still pretty damn stupid. The evidence for why he believes natural selection to be false and species to be immutable is fascinatingly and unsurprisingly absent from his latest screed, despite such denials being important enough to make his list of self-labels.
The Bible and Christianity have 2000 years of
scholarshipdesperate, handwaving apologia purporting to show ingits scientific and historical veracity.
Human Ape says
Martinez and other Christian tards pretend calling magic
“intelligent design” somehow makes it less childish.
Martinez, instead of being a dishonest asshole, you should say “Magic is observed in every aspect of the universe.”
It’s much better to be an honest moron than a dishonest moron.
Good post Jim. You remind me of my Catholic friends growing up. They grew up Catholic, not too strictly. Of course, being raised a Methodist, my family taught us Catholics were a little “crazy”.
Liar. I’m not sure there are any sciences left that do not show the Bible and Christianity to be a load of stinking shit, like Ray Martinez’s brains.
Eric RoM says
I’d say you have low-quality woo friends: you can believe in various types of woo and “fathom not having total knowledge of the universe.”
Losers. Hmm, let’s see:
PZ Myers – highly esteemed science educator, runs one of the worlds most successful blogs.
Dawkins – Full Professor at one of the world’s top universities until his retirement, best-selling science author.
Darwin – Among the half-dozen most famous and respected scientists of all time.
Ray Martinez. Who? Oh yeah, that fuckwitted godbot who spends most of his life repeating the same handful of idiocies on other people’s blogs. Often mistaken for a poorly-programmed chatbot.
RM describes atheists as:
even though atheists don’t believe that deities exist, so he’s asking people to put themselves under the authority of one or more imaginary beings.
This seems to be an important (Platonic) theme to Christians, that it is important to recognise a higher authority, even a fictitious one. Therefore, atheists are the worst of the worst, because even a false religion is better than none.
This displays the lack of priority that Christians give to truth, and fits right in with Jim’s closing line:
And terribly exclusionary, because to maintain a counterfactual position, you need to dismiss any contrary views, especially if they are true.
I parroted Jim’s last line. My apologies.
Crudely Wrott says
Yes, it’s a totally natural process that’s not only informative and profitable but pleasant and, well, fun. Assuming, of course, that someone like RM isn’t birdogging your every move every moment.
Thanks for your clarity, Jim. Wonderful post, wonderful story.
Ray Martinez says
RM “In other words, like Darwin, Dawkins and Myers, you are just another loser who couldn’t make it with God.”
#22: “Losers. Hmm, let’s see:
PZ Myers – highly esteemed science educator, runs one of the worlds most successful blogs. Dawkins – Full Professor at one of the world’s top universities until his retirement, best-selling science author. Darwin – Among the half-dozen most famous and respected scientists of all time.”
RM: Like I said, all Atheists (= losers who couldn’t make it with God (Master Scientist)).
Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says
Fixed that for you Rayturd, liar, bullshitter, and presuppositionalist.
fixed that for ya
ahs ॐ says
Hm. Are you implying that God is too good for me?
I suppose it’s possible but it just strikes me as odd; as I recally, it was God who was most upset about the breakup. I was ready to move on.
drat, missed the strike tag close.
RM: Like I said, all Atheists (= losers who couldn’t make it with God (
Master Scientist) imaginary main character in an old boring book written by insignificant and ignorant provincials whose emotional maturity approximates that of a particularly bad-tempered two-year-old).
properly fixed now.
Rey Fox says
Well, granted, He, His Church, and His Word all suck.
Nice projection, but we don’t worship. It’s embarrassing behavior, very unbecoming of a grown adult.
But what would you care, RayRay? According to you, we’re all predestined to be rejected by God, so why the need to argue? If you’re proselytizing, you might want to try being nicer.
-Rey Fox, (a field season and a thesis away from being) Master Scientist
I thought for sure RM was a Poe – his tagline seemed made up to mock. Sadly, again it looks like he for real.
Poor, wrong Martinez.
Your stupidity reaches ever new heights. Even by your own beliefs, God would not be a scientist at all, because it is a condition of practicing science that you are trying to find out something you don’t know. You are merey confirming in a new way that you haven’t the slightest notion what science is.
But the main point here is that by calling people much more talented and successful than you are “losers”, you have made your motivation all too clear. You know that you are the real “loser” – a nobody who can only get attention by annoying people with your stupid remarks – so you have to persuade yourself that all those more talented and successful people whom you hate are missing out on something you have. But the fact that you are driven to go on spitting your hate at atheists, when according to your own beliefs this is pointless because they have already been rejected by God, shows that this doesn’t work. It never will, you pathetic little man, it never will.
Jeff B says
Well written Jim, however, remember the discussion we had about Entropy? The laws of thermodynamics state that matter always moves towards a higher state of entropy, i.e. a higher level of chaos. Yet here we are, living in a highly complex worlds existing as highly organized beings….well maybe not that organized when I was a teen, but organized none the less. Thermodynamics implies we shouldn’t exist. What science explains this?
My own conclusion is the human mind does not have the capacity to truly understand creation and the driving forces driving not only the universe we live in but whatever lies beyond the universe as we know it.