February 1, 2010

On not getting married.

"I don't see the point. We are married for all intents and purposes, everything's shared, and actually our fake marriage has lasted longer than a real one... but there's no point in us having an actual ceremony before the eyes of God because there is no God."

209 comments:

1 – 200 of 209   Newer›   Newest»
El Pollo Real said...

Sounds to me like overcompensation for a bad childhood (at least his Wiki bio hints as much).

Oh well, at least he's happy and well compensated now!

Freeman Hunt said...

Heh. Isn't that the stereotypical thing for someone to say who doesn't want to fully commit?

El Pollo Real said...

Freeman: I hear he's quite the comedian.

Quayle said...

At least his view is coherent.

Much better than many of the American left that doesn't believe in God but does believe in objective morality.

Peter V. Bella said...

Much better than many of the American left that doesn't believe in God but does believe in objective morality.

Didn't you mean selective morality?

SteveR said...

No need to explain Ricky, God's well aware of your commitment, with or without the ceremony or your belief. Win-win at least until that afterlife thing kicks in, not that you need concern yourself with eternity at such a young age. Enjoy yourself.

cycodelic said...

I really think men and women are not meant to live together.My parents have been married 45 years and they have nothing in common,all they do is make each other miserable.I was married 9 years and all my wife wanted to do was boss me around and act like a bitch.All she cared about was how much money we had.But she is happy now she divorced me and married her boss.I think women are good for reproduction and thats all.

Robin said...

That guy would be sort of funny but for the fact that he can't help yammering on about his atheism.

Paul Zrimsek said...

What's wrong with believing in objective morality but not God? I mean, God could change his mind on a whim.

traditionalguy said...

Refusing to believe in gravity is as easy as refusing to believe in God. No one can show why gravity exists, nor what it is the scientific mechanism that causes the effect Newton called gravitational attraction. Ergo there is no gravity as there is no God. However the real effects following breaking Newton's laws of gravity and breaking God's laws of morality are not impressed.

The Crack Emcee said...

Sorry, Tg, but that's wrong:

Gravity, like wind, can be seen and measured - God can't.

Ricky's presentation of "Animals" (his atheist routine) is actually very good, hardly the hair-on-fire presentation most atheists engage in. You can find part of it on my blog.

jag said...

Atheists talk more about God than theists do. Think of it: he can't even explain his stance on marriage without talking about God[lessness]. Odd, in my opinion.

Pundit Joe said...

If marriage isn't a big deal then why not do it?

Marriage is more than just a "ceremony before the eyes of God". It is also about making a public commitment to someone and letting others know you are not available.

paul a'barge said...

Linky-poo

By the way, who is this guy? Never heard of him.

Freeman Hunt said...

Ha ha. The leggings, chips, cigarette line. Such a terrible thing to say, and I don't agree with the sentiment at all. Yet here I am, laughing.

Fr Martin Fox said...

It may surprise to hear a priest say it, but: marriage isn't essentially a religious institution; it does not depend on God.

By that I mean: if you are an atheist (and let us not argue and suppose you are right), you still have the universal phenomenon of marriage--ahem--between men and women.

Supposing there be no God, then one can only explain this as a reality arising out of human nature and fulfilling human need.

In Christianity, this natural reality becomes a supernatural reality; water is changed to wine: Catholics call it a sacrament.

What is a specifically religious insight is monogamy. So if the drive for so-called gay marriage succeeds as a matter of jurisprudence, it would seem to behoove advocates of polygamy to make the argument that the provisions of law, impeding their choices, arise from a religious impulse, and therefore ought to be struck down.

Freeman Hunt said...

He is one of the very few comedians who has made me literally weep with laughter.

Skyler said...

Marriage has some serious legal and economic disadvantages.

Freeman Hunt said...

Apart from that the Golden Globes host said life with partner Jane was pretty stress-free.

He said: "I've got to the point now where if so much as a letter comes through the door... it's like, 'uh'. The cat was sick on the carpet this morning. That's like, 'uh.' "


The second part, what does that mean? Maybe the "..." cut out the part that explains.

And thank you, Father Fox.

Paul Zrimsek said...

There are no effects of breaking Newton's laws of gravity, because it can't be done. They are therefore not much help when it comes to understanding laws that you can break, but shouldn't.

Ann Althouse said...

Sorry about the link. It's there now. Keep in mind that he's been with the same woman for 25 years, from back before he became a big star. And he is a great comedian, writer, and actor.

The Crack Emcee said...

Jag,

Wrong again. Atheists can't escape talking about the all-emcompassing belief system because, by design, it's an all-emcompassing belief system. Like NewAge, there's no topic where it hasn't made inroads. And, since believers won't acknowledge God's not really there (except in their pretty little collected heads) we're stuck with you - or, more accurately, being driven mad with your delusions.

Anyway, left to their own devices, atheists never talk about God because there's simply nothing to talk about.

Freeman Hunt said...

Paul, the analogy maker might argue that you can try to break the law of gravity, but there will be naturally following consequences. Same with the other.

MadisonMan said...

letting others know you are not available.

You don't need marriage to do that. A simple sentence suffices.

Paul Zrimsek said...

If you try to break Newton's laws you will fail, with bad consequences for yourself. If you try to break the laws of morality you will succeed, with bad consequences for someone else-- which likely won't bother you unless you've already accepted the laws of morality. the analogy's simply not much use.

Joe said...

One thing to understand is that he is from England where formal weddings and church weddings in particular are a much bigger deal there than here.

cycodelic said...

I would like to know why Christianity thinks they have monopoly on Heaven if you are not saved you are going to hell.All they care about is who has the biggest and best church. Religion is big business and so is marriage.It is expensive to get married and costly to get a divorce.If there is a God the joke is on the human race.

Jana said...

I've followed Gervais for a long time, and I don't recall him ever being so vocal about his atheist beliefs until "The Invention of Lying" came out. Much of the story hinges on a plot point inspired by his atheism, which is never alluded to in any of the trailers. Many complained that theists would feel blindsided by such a message in a major studio film, and he got some criticism. Additionally, the film itself was not a rousing success at the box office.

Like all good comedians, he's mining his own bitterness for a laugh.

Freeman Hunt said...

cycodelic, your trolling is too obvious. I would suggest some other approach.

Skyler said...

If you try to break Newton's laws you will fail, with bad consequences for yourself. If you try to break the laws of morality you will succeed

That's a bit ridiculous to claim that one can't know morality without believing in magic.

I'd say the reverse is true. Morality is understanding right and wrong. How can you have a true understanding of right and wrong if you base everything on something that doesn't exist?

I'm quite tolerant of people who believe in magic and other fairy tales (so long as they're not the fairy tales that tell them to saw off the heads of non-believers), I wish more of them would return the favor.

jag said...

@ Crack Emcee--

your post illustrates my point.

and, really, i don't think it's the fault of our 'all encompassing system' that God is on your brain.

we who believe are not going away. does that mean you are doomed to talk about God until your dying breath? interesting. sad, but interesting.

Peter V. Bella said...

In our time it is easier to believe in Global warming than it is to believe in God.

John said...

Atheists are so cute when they get all defiant. Bless his little heart. You just keep raging against the abyss there Ricky.

Tibore said...

I can be alright with people who've put in years together saying that they've essentially accomplished the same thing as marriage. It's not necessarily something I would do myself, but it's also not something I'd dictate pro or con to someone else about. What irks me is when some of those same people (I'm no longer talking Gervais here, since the article didn't quote him as speaking towards this point) then go on to rip the notion of marriage altogether. It's one thing to say "it's not my gig", but it's a whole other to say it's not a good institution for anyone. One attitude says "different for me", another says "I know better than anyone else". The former is humble, the latter hubristic. And there's no need for someone to be the latter.

former law student said...

I have a different explanation, the answer Red Skelton (IIRC) gave to an interviewer who asked about his long-lived marriage.

"Three little words," Red said.

You mean, "I love you?"

"No. California Community Property."

Absent a pre-nup -- hard to get after 25 year of living together -- Jane could end up with half Gervais's stuff.

Largo said...

My two cents, adjusted for inflation.

Living together as a committed but officially unmarried couple -- being betrothed de facto while refusing to publicize this the betrothal, whether by ceremony, by registry, or by some other means -- is to live is sin, but the sin is not sexual, despite the connotations of the phrase 'living in sin'.

The sin is against one's family, friends, and neighbors! When you visit your parents for the weekend with your spouse, to they prepare one room or two? To live this way is uncharitable.

This is not absolute. In time, some (your parents, say) will come to know your relationship as a matter of fact. There may even be reasons (tax benefits, say) that warrant forgoing a de jure marriage in some circumstances, at least in the eyes of the state.

But this in not the norm for marriage, and marriages so lived should be the exception, not the rule.

wv: wifedene [ain't that nice!]

bagoh20 said...

I was sure he was gay. He looks gay. Is he sure?

save_the_rustbelt said...

And we care because??

Fen said...

Well, if there is no God, I guess we should throw out the body of Law based on Judeo-Christian teachings.

Obvisously, if marriage isn't a Covenent, why bother with it?

Chris said...

Not getting married today has more to do with keeping the state out of your relationship than letting God into it.

bagoh20 said...

I suggest Agnosticism. It allows you to love or hate everyone depending on your preference.

Although I'm a non-believer, I do find the religious to be less irritating most of the time. They tend to believe they have something you need and want you to have it, while the atheist want to take it from you even though they don't want it.

Julius Ray Hoffman said...

@traditionalguy-

No one can show why gravity exists, nor what it is the scientific mechanism that causes the effect Newton called gravitational attraction.

Dude! It's general relativity. You assume that the laws of physics, including the constancy of the speed of light, are the same in any reference frame, do the very difficult math, and voilĂ - you've just shown that why gravity exists. The non-relativism of the laws of physics is the scientific mechanism that causes it.

The Crack Emcee said...

Jag,

"i don't think it's the fault of our 'all encompassing system' that God is on your brain."

Really? Then how'd he get there, then? I clearly remember people putting him there - he even made an appearance at my sales meeting this morning. not that anyone but I recognized him.

You fool yourself, but then, that's what "delusional" means.

"We who believe are not going away."

Yes you will. Like Ghandi said about the British, one day you will just "leave" God behind. It may not be collectively, but it will happen. I see it happening every day.

"Does that mean you are doomed to talk about God until your dying breath?"

I told you, without you around, it doesn't come up, and I doubt you'll be around when I die.

"Interesting. sad, but interesting."

My words, exactly, whenever someone tries to prove the existence of God. They seem sane otherwise - do math, drive cars, are aware we've already been beyond the sky and have cracked the atom - but still think poking the air with sticks is the way to go on the whole "What's this all about?" question.

It's sad - and weird. Like Homeopathy still being around.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

cycodelic said...

I would like to know why Christianity thinks they have monopoly on Heaven if you are not saved you are going to hell.

It's generally based on biblical references such as:

John 14:6- "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

or:

Acts 4:12-“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

Now, you can certainly believe that the bible is wrong, or that people are misinterpreting it. But there is no great mystery why Christians hold that belief, and if you were truly curious about it, a very quick search of the internet would have given you the answer. Or maybe you were posing the question here to try to get a serious answer. If so, now you have it. But you would likely have more success getting serious answers if you lose the hostility toward religion.

Oh, and for the record, I'm an atheist. I sometimes refer to myself as a lapsed atheist, as I do not actively seek out offense at any public displays of religion.

John Stodder said...

Congrats to Gervais for staying in his relationship for 25 years, even after he got famous.

But I think apart from the religious aspect of marriage (which depends on your notion of God's existence), and the legal side of it (which, like most laws, functions as a form of protection for the more vulnerable spouse), there is a third somewhat less tangible element to why marriage vs. just living together, and that's psychology.

What is he saying to her, and what is she saying to him, if the option of marriage, a stronger legal and spiritual commitment than just cohabitation, is available and they won't do it?

You can blather on all you want about the flaws and absurdities of the institution of marriage, but doesn't your partner end up having to deal with the fact that you don't want to marry her or him? You could do it, but you don't choose to? Why not?

Fear of abandonment is a primal concern. Children who are abandoned suffer lifelong consequences. Adults who are abandoned grieve and more. Why not give your partner that scintilla of extra assurance that you really mean to stay, even if there's a big disagreement, even if things get tough, even if (or especially if) children are born. Obviously, even in marriage, divorce happens. But it's a hurdle -- a think-twice hurdle, which doesn't exist if it's just an informal arrangement.

If I didn't think marriage meant something of that nature, I'm not sure I'd have done it. But it does.

The Gold Digger said...

When you visit your parents for the weekend with your spouse, to they prepare one room or two?

I wrote about that here. One of the many reasons my outlaws hate me.

"Your parents are OK with their unmarried* son sharing a bed with his girlfriend under their roof?"

"My parents pride themselves on being hip."


http://diaryofagolddigger.blogspot.com/2010/01/in-which-sly-and-doris-get-mad-because.html

ricpic said...

Well, I read through this whole thread and there's not one mention of children. Isn't that why there is no substitute for marriage? Because marriage offers the greatest likelihood that a child will have a mother and father who stay together and provide the child with a stable secure home in which to grow up right? My guess is that Gervais and his "partner" are childless.

P.S. My apologies to John Stodder who just mentioned children.

traditionalguy said...

There are more things in heaven and earth Horatio... such as 1) anti-matter and its black holes and 2) the gravity overcoming effect of a vortex of wind passing over a wing, and 3) and the energy released by a U-235 fusion event (E=MC2)were all "supernatural" events until someone gave men a Word to understand them. I would not rule God out before you have encountered Him, as Moses once said to Pharoah's magicians.

jag said...

@ Crack Emcee--

you really think faith in God is going away? wow.

who is delusional now?

and, here is the real problem with you guys: as a person of faith, i understand and respect doubt; as a person of non faith, you despise belief.

William said...

If there were some sure fire way to domestic bliss wouldn't the human race have hit upon it by now?.... I think belief in God and stable marriages are good for small children. "Grandma died and now she's worm food. Daddy's going away because Mommy got boring." It's no wonder so many children in America hide under their beds at night clutching a teddy bear.

Julius Ray Hoffman said...

@jag- Well, you believers do have that very useful thing called "peer pressure" on your side. Shunning the non-believers, or at least threatening to, will keep this God thing of yours going for a while.

The thing is that the worshipers of the new liberal Gods - the New Age and Green ones - are even better at using peer pressure to keep their brethren in line than you are.

elHombre said...

What's wrong with believing in objective morality but not God?

Objective morality without God? Like the morality that's imprinted on the cells of leaves of trees or transmitted by Dawkins' "memes"? Or the morality that floats on the wind (see reference below)?

Gravity, like wind, can be seen and measured - God can't.

Whoa, Crack. You can see gravity? And the wind?

That's so cool! The latter may be a source of Zrimsek's godless objective morality and you can see it. Imagine!

Lem said...

Ricky Gervais is all irony and much else.

David Foster Wallace said..

And make no mistake: irony tyrannizes us. The reason why our pervasive cultural irony is at once so powerful and so unsatisfying is that an ironist is impossible to pin down. All U.S. irony is based on an implicit "I don’t really mean what I’m saying." So what does irony as a cultural norm mean to say? That it’s impossible to mean what you say? That maybe it’s too bad it’s impossible, but wake up and smell the coffee already? Most likely, I think, today’s irony ends up saying: "How totally banal of you to ask what I really mean."

futher..

So then how have irony, irreverence, and rebellion come to be not liberating but enfeebling in the culture today’s avant-garde tried to write about? One clue’s to be found in the fact that irony is still around, bigger than ever after 30 long years as the dominant mode of hip expression. It’s not a rhetorical mode that wears well. As [Lewis] Hyde. . .puts it, "Irony has only emergency use. Carried over time, it is the voice of the trapped who have come to enjoy the cage." This is because irony, entertaining as it is, serves an almost exclusively negative function. It’s critical and destructive, a ground-clearing. Surely this is the way our postmodern fathers saw it. But irony’s singularly unuseful when it comes to constructing anything to replace the hypocrisies it debunks. This is why Hyde seems right about persistent irony being tiresome. It is unmeaty. Even gifted ironists work best in sound bites. I find gifted ironists sort of wickedly funny to listen to at parties, but I always walk away feeling like I’ve had several radical surgical procedures. And as for actually driving cross-country with a gifted ironist, or sitting through a 300-page novel full of nothing by trendy sardonic exhaustion, one ends up feeling not only empty but somehow. . .oppressed.

Skyler said...

jag wrote: as a person of non faith, you despise belief.

You write this as if it were a bad thing.

elHombre said...

Althouse wrote: And he is a great comedian, writer, and actor.

Well, it's easy to see from his remarks here and his performance at the Golden Globes that he is someone to be admired and emulated (LOL), but could you define "great" as you use it in this context.

wv "geragnon" = Tenderloin for the elderly.

garage mahal said...

Lem
Are you fluent in spanish, and do you have email.

rhhardin said...

I'm a person of dog.

Not for nothing is Fido a dog name.

elHombre said...

Skyler wrote: jag wrote: 'as a person of non faith, you despise belief.'

You write this as if it were a bad thing.


Not "bad," just childish and unnecessary.

In your case it gives rise to intellectual lapses that are inconsistent with your other posts.

traditionalguy said...

@ JRH... Yes the theory of reletivity agrees with the existance of grvity, and all of your DNA also exists in a form to understand it, and God exists to understand you and me who are the part of his good creation that He loves enough as members of His family to share his Word with us. My point is that you have to disprove the existence of nature to disprove the existence of God.Then you have to read his Word of revelation of Himself to learn the rest of the story. Sir Isaac Newton spent more time studying scripture than he spent working on his Newtonian Physics that we still honor so highly. I guess he was just not rational.

Lem said...

Why do you want my e-mail garage?

garage mahal said...

Need help translating something. If you don't want to that's fine of course.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Like the morality that's imprinted on the cells of leaves of trees or transmitted by Dawkins' "memes"? Or the morality that floats on the wind (see reference below)?

More like the morality that doesn't have to be assigned a metaphorical location by people who for on reason or another want to make it sound more complicated than it is.

Julius Ray Hoffman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Julius Ray Hoffman said...

@traditionalguy- I can agree with what you write if I consider "God" to be a concept that expresses our collective humanity, and our religious sense to be a way of addressing our intuitively deep philosophical and psychological questions. There is nothing irrational about pursuing these questions.

None of that requires a belief in religious magic, nor a belief that the Bible is anything more than a somewhat-arbitrarily selected set of ancient writings that did not distinguish between fiction and fact.

In fact, none of that requires any belief at all.

elHombre said...

cyclodelic wrtoe: I would like to know why Christianity thinks they have monopoly on Heaven if you are not saved you are going to hell.

See the 11:39 post for a quick answer. For a quicker answer: Jesus told us so.

So the relevant question then is actually: Why wouldn't Christians believe it? It's not a discriminatory thing. Anybody can believe what Jesus said.

If you choose not to, it follows that you must hope also that Jesus was not who he said he was.

The Crack Emcee said...

Jag,

"As a person of faith, i understand and respect doubt; as a person of non faith, you despise belief."

Only because I've seen the outrageous ugliness it brings - and the "I don't care what you can prove, I won't stop" attitude of believers. It's not some knee-jerk "I'm just not going to like this" pose, but an acknowledgement - starting from my earliest days - that more pain comes to those around believers than not. Believers have delivered that message, in my own life, through antagonism, hypocrisy, violence, corruption, depravity, and murder. Working with that as a check list, how could I do anything but despise it? It would be insane to hold another view. And this idea there's something wrong about discriminating between good and bad ideas ("you despise belief") is silliness itself.

With few exceptions (Tg being one of them) there's just not much to like about belief or believers. They're simply people who have given themselves an "out" to do anything they please without (they imagine) guilt. And yes, one day, belief will stop. Right now, talking a good game is popular, but the churches are still empty. Stupid Paganism is even on the rise now. It's only a matter of time before people wise up and discover the whole endevour, of believing in things, is a waste:


The only thing that makes God "omnipotent" is your willingness to kill, and/or push others around, for him.

Skyler said...

The only thing that makes God "omnipotent" is your willingness to kill, and/or push others around, for him.

Just a bit harsh, don't you think? Let's try to stay somewhat civil here . . .

The Crack Emcee said...

elHombre,

"Whoa, Crack. You can see gravity? And the wind?"

I just dropped a penny. Gravity. Outside, I can see ballons moving. Wind.

I'm a genius, I know. And with no metaphysical powers involved what-so-evah.

Henry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lem said...

try this email garage.

lemtemp001@hotmail.com

Henry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Henry said...

It's no wonder so many children in America hide under their beds at night clutching a teddy bear.

They do? My children don't. But they are believers. They'll believe anything. When they ask the big spiritual questions, I use the extended family as reference -- "Your grandpa believes this, and great grandpa believes that, grandma and grandpa X believe this other thing, uncle Y is Jewish, and uncle Z is Hindu, and your dad doesn't believe any of it."

They're okay with that explanation, even as they realize their dad's answers can't be trusted. Then I explain how tides work and they believe in me again.

elHombre said...

@Julius Ray Hoffman: There is insufficient space here to debate your "religious magic" or "fiction of fact" remarks at 12:31.

However, your contention that the Bible is nothing more "than a somewhat-arbitrarily [sic.] selected set of ancient writings," demonstrates that you have a fairly robust set of predilections elevating your own beliefs to the level of historical fact.

The Crack Emcee said...

"Anybody can believe what Jesus said."

It's that easy - and if you don't they'll either kill you, run you out of town, or hound you to the ends of the earth. And they'll feel good as it happens because they're doing it for God, and a reward they'll get when they're dead - though they can't prove that, or anything else about it.

"If you choose not to [beleieve in Jesus], it follows that you must hope also that Jesus was not who he said he was."

Atheists don't bother with "hope", dude. And yours is also the line of a con man. Sorry but I ain't buying what you're selling - it's snake oil.

And even I listened to the Bible's warning about talking snakes,...

Tg, will you please say something to make me feel better? This is getting tiring.

garage mahal said...

thanks Lem!
You have mail.

The Crack Emcee said...

Skyler,

"Just a bit harsh, don't you think? Let's try to stay somewhat civil here . . ."

I'm not trying to be harsh - that's what religion/spirituality/belief has shown itself to be. You wanna feel better? Go to church:

They'll tell you anytyhing there.

Trooper York said...

Hey Lem and you translate this for me?

DADvocate said...

Considering the shaft that men get when divorcing, not marrying makes perfect sense.

Lem said...

Its going to be our turn this year trooper..

save your tears.. you are going to need them.

bagoh20 said...

Crack, you should know that not all experiences with the religious are negative like yours.

I grew up with religious people in a small town famous for it's number of churches of all denominations. I found it a loving, nurturing, accepting and very free experience. Nothing like what you describe. It still never caught on with me, but I found a community with a lot of religion to be just fine.

Hypocrisy and judgmentalism also are very much alive in nonreligious groups, and I would argue with a more cold and punitive nature.

Trooper York said...

Now, now Lem, I don't want to hear your nonsense. How about a little Mambo?

Pogo said...

In the novel Falling Man, Don DeLillo described the "hovering possible presence of God” as “the voice that says ‘I am not here'.



The voice that says ‘I am not here'.
Just beautiful.

Brian said...

The problem with deciding there is no God, but that there is a universal truth and morality, is that the rules change, depending on who's in charge.

In evolution you have survival of the fittest. We have the eugenics movement of the early 20th century as a result of that, and the Nazi's attempt to create a master race, and their attempt at genocide of entire classes of "inferior" people.

In a cold world with no God, but only science, you have a schism between those who think you should care for the old, sick, and disabled, and those who think they're supposed to let these die for the sake of the genetically superior. No need to waste resources on those who can't contribute to the improvement of the gene pool.

In a world with no God, there's simply no referee that says a kind, caring world is better than a competitive dog-eat-dog, where the sick and disabled are cast out of society. It's not an anarchy, but a society ruled by "might makes right."

I don't think we quite want to go there.

elHombre said...

Crack wrote: I just dropped a penny. Gravity. Outside, I can see ballons moving. Wind.

Yes, you have seen the effects of gravity and the wind. I will forego offering the obvious Judeo/Christian apologetic here.

Crack wrote: ...if you don't [believe what Jesus said] they'll either kill you, run you out of town, or hound you to the ends of the earth.

Yet, I notice you're still here offering up malicious blather like this without consequence.

Crack wrote: Atheists don't bother with "hope", dude. ... Sorry but I ain't buying what you're selling - it's snake oil.

Of course, you may or may not speak accurately and/or on behalf of most atheists.

However, notice that I said, "it follows that you must hope also that Jesus was not who he said he was." (Emphasis added.) I thought that implied "it follows logically." Maybe not. "Hope" would be logical, you see, but perhaps not suited to you, tough guy.

Let me paraphrase Pascal then: You are betting that Jesus was not who he said he was and didn't mean what he said. Betting is tougher than hoping.

As for the "snake oil," buy it, don't buy it. It is of no consequence to me. God invites us to point out the message and the choices, not sell product.

Joe said...

In a world with no God, there's simply no referee that says...

Good grief; there is no consistent God even amongst believers. To assign the evils of man to some sort of post-Darwinism you must ignore the whole of history and the obvious fact that many peoples have slaughtered each other in the name of one God or the other.

History is also replete with group offing their undesirables.

My view is that religion provides excuses for human behavior and absent religion, other excuses will be found.

Paul Zrimsek said...

In a world with no God, there's simply no referee that says a kind, caring world is better than a competitive dog-eat-dog, where the sick and disabled are cast out of society. It's not an anarchy, but a society ruled by "might makes right."

I don't think we quite want to go there.

Then I guess we don't need a referee to stop us going there, do we?

Pogo said...

"My view is that religion provides excuses for human behavior and absent religion, other excuses will be found."

So why be good?
Why oppose jihadi suicide bombs?
Why not murder whenever you feel like it?
Why not steal what you want?
If restraints, or their lack, are merely 'excuses', whence the claim for morality or virtue or even love?
Surely they don't exist, being unmeasurable, and exist only as excuses for human behavior.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

" and if you don't they'll either kill you, run you out of town, or hound you to the ends of the earth. And they'll feel good as it happens because they're doing it for God. . ."

Crack, honey, I know that you've had some bad experiences. I'm sure that we all hate that for you. But we know that you know that the assholes that hide behind religion are only a tiny portion of the whole. And we know that you know that atheists are just as likely to be asses as theists. Furthermore, we know that you know that a lot of people have done a lot of good in the name of religion, too. Traditional Guy is certainly not the only religious person you can tolerate.

Come on, stop trying to live in a world of the inquisition and the crusades. Asses happen, religion or not. Good people happen, too, religious or not.

Trooper York said...

16 days to pitchers and catchers!

Well except for Titus.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

XWL said...

Ironically, this post might be the most classically 'ironic' post posted here today, yet it's the one post without the 'irony' tag.

bagoh20 said...

People may think that perhaps religion is like gun control: it only works on people who don't need it.

I don't believe this. I think it pushes many people to do the right thing more often than not. It's far from 100%, but far more effectively than the alternative.

Otherwise you tell people to behave because it's not nice and is unfair, etc. That just does not seem effective compared to a complex set of rules and extended community that share those rules. Plus you throw in the advantages of afterlife and emotional support in hard times and it just works better.

Us nonbelievers are really stuck trying to pass on our crap. We got no system.

Lem said...

oops I meant to say @12:07

Ricky Gervais is all irony and NOT much else.

wv playabl

Joan said...

Thanks, lyssa -- that was lovely.

jag:as a person of non faith, you despise belief.

Skyler: You write this as if it were a bad thing.

It is a bad thing, Skyler, because when you despise something or someone, that attitude is inevitably manifested in what you say and do. When it's clear you don't respect people of faith, that's going to have a negative impact on your life unless you've managed to surround yourself with atheists. It's simply foolish to go around thinking that the majority of the population is beneath you. Regardless of how great you are, it's never going to be true -- and even if it were true, so what? Don't we all think we're special? You can be special without thinking everyone else around you is deficient.

bagoh20 said...

"So why be good?"

It all comes down to faith, whether you are religious or not.

We all believe in good.

elHombre said...

Then I guess we don't need a referee to stop us going there, do we?

Do you read what you write?

avwh said...

Trooper York:
thanks for the youtube link to Van Lingle Mungo - pretty cool tune (gets the baseball juices flowing ahead of spring training).

Skyler said...

Joan, be careful what conclusions you jump to.

I never said that I don't respect people of faith. Many of them are nice people, of course. My own brother is a priest.

But liking people is not the same as admiring their method of understanding reality.

Lem said...

Ironic or stupid?

Freeman Hunt said...

I bet most fish don't appreciate water.

Pogo said...

"My own brother is a priest.
But liking people is not the same as admiring their method of understanding reality.


How one can despise someone's 'method of understanding reality' and like them at the same time is no mean feat.
Kudos!

Skyler said...

So, Pogo, are you completely incapable of liking people whose beliefs you don't like? Must be a very lonely or very isolated life.

Trooper York said...

Well the football season ended the minute the New York Football Giants were eliminated.

Now we can only look forward to the suspense of wondering if Jeremy Schocky will be wearing a dress on the sidelines of the Super Bowl.

The Crack Emcee said...

Y'all are being disingenuous here. Of course I know there are "good Christians", etc., but my point (and I do have one) is they don't include the harm they do in their assessments of their belief - I do. And they are such profound harms (so ugly that even mentioning them makes believers think I'm attacking them) there's absolutely no way I'll ever take another believer's word - on anything - on face value again.

And all this "one bad apple" nonsense is a cop-out. Y'all will throw up any atheist that ever did anything wrong and I have to accept it. (Ayn Rand's cultism?) You can't run from your fellow travelers on the Appalacian Trail, etc. Christians make up 80% of America - and the prisons and jails are filled to capacity. Which says to me your belief is either no better than non-belief or you're fooling yourself about it's nature. If it's #1, then why bother? (And stop bragging.) And, if it's #2, then it's about time for you to stop bullshitting yourself.

And for the record: I listen to several religious broadcasts per day/week. Some because I want to hear a good sermon, some because I think the preacher makes good sense, some because I think they're just plain crazy, and some because I want to keep an eye on what they're up to. There is no atheist broadcast. And my being an atheist doesn't change how I feel about the religious shows: I want to hear "good news", not crazy talk. But much of what passes for "good news" is crazy talk - reread many of these messages, in defense of Christianity, and you'll see what I mean.

These aren't statements of faith but of belief and belief sucks.

Traditionalguy is a fool for Christ, and I love him.

MamaM said...

From Futurama, "Godfellas"

God: "Bender, being God isn't easy. If you do too much, people get dependent on you. And if you do nothing, they lose hope. You have to use a light touch, like a safecracker or a pickpocket."

Bender: "Or a guy who burns down a bar for the insurance money!"

God: "Yes, if you make it look like an electrical thing. When you do things right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all."

Higher powers who overwhelm or override our human ability to choose belief and meaning do themselves no favors. Especially if the stated name and purpose of the higher power is Love.

Ask, Seek and Knock are all words of invitation, not force.

To focus on behavioral expectations, rules and laws or proof of existence is to miss the way this invitation offers everyone an opportunity to grow in the three attributes that last or remain: faith, hope and love.

ricpic said...

Hey Pogo, you is'lated or sump'n? Come over here and gimme a hug ya big palooka. In a platonic way.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Pogo:

How one can despise someone's 'method of understanding reality' and like them at the same time is no mean feat.
Kudos!


Hate the sin, love the sinner?

Incidentally, not all Christians believe that non-Christians are not saved. There's a little sect called Catholicism you might look up some time.

jag said...

Non believers will never believe this, but people of faith do not embrace God in order to enforce our contracts or prevent us from killing each other or earn heavenly crowns.

We embrace God because we are drawn to him by some mysterious love.

ricpic said...

Give it up Troop, that over 35 magic ain't gonna happen for the Janquis this time around.

Gabriel Hanna said...

I grew up in a town where a sizable proportion of the violent crimes were committed by people with tatoos of the Holy Virgin on their backs. I haven't seen any evidence that religious people cause less harm, or do more good, to others than the irreligious.

As for the Darwin-Nazi canard, give it a rest. Eugenics was practiced by the Spartans and advocated by Plato.

There are crimes we call "inhuman" but to me they seem quite human indeed, no less evil for that. Stock breeding preexisted Darwin by several thousand years--how hard is it to get the idea to apply those principles to people?

Trooper York said...

You have to compartmentalize Pogo.

Sort of how I feel about Susan Sarradon. Hate her politcs, love her breasts!

Just sayn'

garage mahal said...

I drink like Hitchens. But only half the asshole!

Pogo said...

"So, Pogo, are you completely incapable of liking people whose beliefs you don't like?"
I don't like people whose beliefs "despise", which was your description of your brother. That is leagues away from liking someone whose beliefs you 'don't like'. If I despised someone's beliefs, I might find them tolerable or even charming, but I very much doubt I would like them. Hitler, Ted Bundy, Stalin, and Pol Pot come to mind.

There are in fact very very few people whose beliefs I 'despise', but for Skyler, it goes well into the billions.

"Hate the sin, love the sinner?"
There are no sins in atheism.
And loving someone is not the same as liking them, as any teacher, parent or spouse can attest.

"Incidentally, not all Christians believe that non-Christians are not saved. There's a little sect called Catholicism..."
And that has some connection to what I wrote how exactly?

Jim S. said...

The alleged connection between God and morality is that absent an ultimate unchanging foundation or ground, moral claims can make no claim to being objective. They are just standards used by one culture or another. That may be OK when we're doing our taxes, but when we talk about horrific atrocities it becomes difficult to maintain that there's nothing objectively immoral going on. Even if the Nazis won WW2 and wiped out everyone who disagreed with them, the Holocaust would still have been wrong.

Regarding God and gravity: It's true that we can't directly observe gravity, we can only observe its effects and infer gravity from them. But these effects are publicly available. Many of the alleged effects of God take place in the mind of the individual and are not publicly available. Of course there are some publicly available claims about God -- things like the universe springing into existence which requires a cause that transcends its effect -- but I think the private experience of God is the reason why most people who believe in him do so.

Trooper York said...

How's that for over 35 magic ricpic?

Pogo said...

Ack...

I don't like people whose beliefs i "despise", which was your description...

Pogo said...

"the Holocaust would still have been wrong."

On what basis?

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Jim S.:

The alleged connection between God and morality is that absent an ultimate unchanging foundation or ground, moral claims can make no claim to being objective.

So if God tells you it's okay to blow yourself up on a sidewalk and kill innocent people, you'll do it?

Of course you won't. God would never tell you to do such a thing, you say... but other people say God does tell them that.

So who judges? You do. God is not a source for absolute morality, unless He makes His Will known to everyone directly in a pretty obvious way.

An example--not one word in the Bible condemns slavery. Do Christians advocate it? Not recently. Why not? Why is it wrong? God says as long as you treat yourslaves ina certain way it's perfectly fine to own them. This is both Old and New Testament, mind you.

God is not like gravity at all. Gravity is a law which CANNOT be violated and is exactly the same for everyone.

ricpic said...

Yeah but can Sarandon hit a curve ball on the outside corner? Getting harder and harder for that 38 year old catcher and that 38 year old shortstop too. Or are they 39? ha ha ha.

Lyle said...

So Western European... marriage, we're so better than that, it's like so 1950s man.

Gervais, too cool a kid for me

Pogo said...

Trooper,
With ya on 'at.

I myself "despise" very few belief systems, where Skyler despises those of billions of people.

I cannot imagine liking someone whose very belief system I despised. Not disliked or disagreed with, despised, as Skyler stated.

I could love them, for being human, but I could not like them.
Can't imagine it.

'Despise' is a powerful word.
Maybe he meant something else.

ricpic said...

There ain't no atheists in a foxhole!








Okay, sue me, it was the best I could come up with.

Skyler said...

Despise, dislike. You're playing with semantics, and there's no much difference there.

Pogo further wrote:

There are no sins in atheism.

Says who? A sin is a wrong. It need not be enforced by a magical being to be wrong.

In fact, it seems to me that someone who does what is right because of fear of being judged by some mystical deity has less moral acumen than someone who does what is right simply because it is right.

Trooper York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Crack Emcee said...

I despise NewAge/Paganism. I find Christianity problematic but not worthy of disgust. Islam's madness makes me angry enough to kill. Catholics are confusing. Jews get a pass because they don't seem to want to harm anyone unless pushed. And my fellow atheists can be silly.

I'll stand alone, thank you very much.

Skyler said...

Regarding God and gravity: It's true that we can't directly observe gravity, blah blah blah

You can observe gravity just as you can observe a cloud in the sky. Both are observed through their effects. The light strikes the cloud, bounces off and enters your eye to stimulate the rods and cones in your retina. These energize nerves and create a reaction of some sort in the brain. That's how you know there is a cloud. This is precisely how you know there is gravity.

The type of observation is irrelevent. Perceptions are used to create concepts.

Pogo said...

"Despise, dislike. You're playing with semantics, and there's no much difference there."

Despise: to regard with contempt, distaste, disgust, or disdain; scorn; loathe.

Definition: look down on
Synonyms: abhor, abominate, allergic to, contemn, deride, detest, disdain, disregard, eschew, execrate, feel contempt for, flout, hate, have no use for, loathe, look down nose at, misprize, neglect, put down, reject, renounce, repudiate, revile, scorn, shun, slight, snub, spurn, undervalue, wipe out

Hardly dislike, is it?
I figured you were just being over-the-top.



"There are no sins in atheism.
Says who?
A sin is a wrong.
"
Says who?
You?
Who can speak with such authoriteh?

Jim S. said...

Gabriel: You've confused ethics with meta-ethics. I gave a meta-ethical argument: if anything is objectively moral or immoral, whatever it is, the existence of God is the best explanation for this objectivity. You said that we ultimately have to decide (I would say we discover) what the ethical laws consist of. That does not contradict anything I wrote. Again, if anything is actually right or wrong, it is very difficult to account for this without appealing to an unchanging, absolute ground.

You also said that belief in gravity is not the same as belief in God. I agree, and said as much in my previous comment. I'm not sure what you're responding to with this.

Trooper York said...

I agree Pogo. I mean I despise the Red Sox but I have to admit that Ted Williams head looks great on top of a can of Chicken of the Sea.

Some things are just meant to be.

Pogo said...

"I'll stand alone, thank you very much."

Crack is the cheese.

Michael said...

Want proof? Go on over to Pashtun. Go to the market. Insult God loudly. See what happens.

Jim S. said...

You can observe gravity just as you can observe a cloud in the sky. Both are observed through their effects.

I disagree. We directly observe clouds, that is they are presented to one's consciousness immediately. Pointing to the physical and physiological processes involved in this does not mean that they are not directly observable. Gravity is not directly observed, it is inferred.

I think you misunderstood what I wrote. I specifically said that belief in God is not the same as belief in gravity, at least for most believers.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Jim S:

Again, if anything is actually right or wrong, it is very difficult to account for this without appealing to an unchanging, absolute ground.

What I'm denying is that God provides this absolute, unchanging ground. I'm not alone--check out Socartes in "Euthyphro".

Is what God says to do the right thing because it's right, or because God said it? If God commands us to do evil, does that make the evil "right"? Can God say one thing this week and the opposite next week? In all cases God's commands would still be an unchanging absolute ground, whether right or wrong, but I think most of use would reject such a God as a source of morality.

All you are doing is identifying God with the unchanging absolute ground of a moral system. It's tautology, not argument.

ricpic said...

As long as you don't leave a glove in the cavity when you sew up you're okay with me, Pogo.

traditionalguy said...

Crack...I have been downtown at the Richard Russel Federal Courthouse. The check-in and check-out lines there were an hour total od wasted time. IMO with your skills and life experiences, you don't need to fear being decieved anymore at a friendly Christian Church. In fact you have a lot to teach them. For a good teacher of scripture from my own church, sample the online teachings at KenBoa.org. One nice thing about Christians not trapped in a cult is their ability to share faith in a loving way. Thanks for all you share on the Macho Response blog.

ricpic said...

Catholics may be confusing but at least they aren't betting on an inside straight like Calvinists.

The Crack Emcee said...

Jag,

"Non believers will never believe this,..."

That line's funny! Anyway, atheists are like slaves in their master's house:

We not only know more about you and your beliefs than you think, but more than you will admit to yourselves, or even want to know.

O.K., I'm tiring of this charade. I'll leave you guys with this:

When you can tell me the exact contents of my pants pocket, I'll seriously consider your views of God and the afterlife.

Once you admit you can know neither, you will have matured to the status of "adult".

The Crack Emcee said...

Pogo,

I just cut the cheese.

former law student said...

Hey Troop: No love at all for the Jets?

Looking up the Van Lingle Mungo song I learned two things:

Many stars of the 40s-50s played for the same team their entire career -- except for the last one or two seasons.

The Cincinnati Reds became the Redlegs in the wake of McCarthyism, from 1953 to 1960. Boston's Communist Hosiery team apparently withstood the Red Scare unscathed.

Jim S. said...

Gabriel: I wrote about the Euthyphro dilemma and how Christianity and Islam deal with it here. Most Muslims (not all though) tend to agree with Euthyphro and opt for divine command theory, while Christians tend to split the horns of the dilemma.

Pogo said...

I pray for your miracle, Crack.
Seriously.

But consider the idea that God is the voice that says ‘I am not here'.

Pogo said...

"As long as you don't leave a glove in the cavity when you sew up you're okay with me, Pogo.


Jayzus on roller skates, ricpic, that took me like 15 seconds to decipher; I was all whuuut?.

Pogo said...

"Pogo,
I just cut the cheese.
"

That explains standing alone!

Skyler said...

Again, if anything is actually right or wrong, it is very difficult to account for this without appealing to an unchanging, absolute ground.

Well, yeah, duh. Right and wrong are absolutes. What does a god have to do with that?

Trooper York said...

I learned a long time ago. Stay away from Jet's fans!

They will just give you the finger at the drop of a hat. Or worse. No class.

Skyler said...

Can you decipher for the rest of us?

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Jim S:

God does not transcend morality and rationality, he is their very ground.

That may be, or may not be, but absent God's speaking to all of us at once out of a burning bush every time we have a moral problem, all you've done is identify something we can never know for certain (absolute ground of morality) with another thing we can never know for certain (God's expression of it).

I can't see it as much of an improvement on Euthyphro. Would dearly love to ask Socrates what he though about it--since I'm not too sure we can trust what Plato says about what Socrates says. Learning morality from God poses an analogous problem--I can't know the Will of God, I can only know what His priests says He thinks, and what books purportedly written with His assistance say.

Chip Ahoy said...

Charade. Ha ha ha. Charade is words that are guessed by action.

Pogo said...

"I'm not too sure we can trust what Plato says about what Socrates says."

Can't trust his utopian state crap either.
Whatta maroon.

Freeman Hunt said...

Anyway, atheists are like slaves in their master's house:

We not only know more about you and your beliefs than you think, but more than you will admit to yourselves, or even want to know.


Don't be so sure.

Jim S. said...

Well, yeah, duh. Right and wrong are absolutes. What does a god have to do with that?

Skyler: First, I don't think saying right and wrong are absolutes is uncontested. Second, physical, material things (and spatial things) are subject to change; that's part of the definition of physicality. Thus, an unchanging ground could not be physical or material or spatial. It must be immaterial and must transcend the physical universe. That doesn't bring us to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but I think it's a step in that direction.

That may be, or may not be, but absent God's speaking to all of us at once out of a burning bush every time we have a moral problem, all you've done is identify something we can never know for certain (absolute ground of morality) with another thing we can never know for certain (God's expression of it).

Gabriel: This confuses meta-ethics with ethics again. I'm not saying anything about what the moral law consists in, how we become aware of it, or how we can be certain or even confident in any of its precepts. I'm only saying that if even one thing is objectively right or wrong, we have to appeal to an unchanging, absolute ground to account for its objectivity.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

Crack, I know that you said that you're leaving, but in case you come back, I'm dying to know:

Why are Catholics confusing?

Complicated, perhaps, but hey, that's life. One thing that I like about Catholicism is that it's pretty straightforward, IMO.

The Crack Emcee said...

Freeman Hunt,

"Don't be so sure."

Oh, I'm sure. We grew up around, and was raised by, a huge collection of believers. The indoctrination just didn't stick is all.

What I find fascinating is how little people know about NewAge. Can anyone here describe it as easily as one would Christianity? Think hard: what was J.D. Salinger tripping so hard on that he was drinking his own urine? (Shirley MacLaine does it, too.)

Paul Zrimsek said...

Non believers will never believe this, but people of faith do not embrace God in order to enforce our contracts or prevent us from killing each other or earn heavenly crowns.

We embrace God because we are drawn to him by some mysterious love.

Now that's more like it. Listening to some of these other guys, I can't tell if God's supposed to be the basis for morality or the other way around.

ricpic said...

Moses was the first middleman, and probably the best. Can we talk? To both sides. And he delivered the goods, well, ten of 'em in any case. Then God killed him off after a quick peek at Collins Avenue. Can you imagine dragging the Jews for forty years from one Tallahasee to another and then not being allowed to set up a beach chair on Miami Beach and bask. God made such a shanda.

Paddy O. said...

"Oh, I'm sure. We grew up around, and was raised by, a huge collection of believers. The indoctrination just didn't stick is all."

Your error is thinking that your experiences are all there is to know, and that the religion of believers that you were raised around is what all believers believe in.

I came very close to losing my faith when I was 18, because the evangelical religion I grew up in ran out of answers and missed the mark in a lot of ways.

Instead of limiting myself to those experiences, however, I broadened my horizon, and have basically spent the last fifteen years pursuing more understanding of this particular faith.

"We not only know more about you and your beliefs than you think, but more than you will admit to yourselves, or even want to know."

Your mistake is thinking that as much as you know is all there is to know.

Which leaves you in the place of so many of our liberal friends. Having to assume that since you have possession of the whole truth, those who disagree are either pernicious, simplistic, or deceived. Sometimes this is true. But, oftentimes, those who are religious know more than you will admit to yourself, or even want to know.

Don't generalize your own experiences as being the totality of any subject. I heartily do think, from what you've shared, that your experiences heartily can and should lead to rejecting the sort of religion which you were raised around. I guess I've seen a lot more experiences than yours, which leads me to continue to embrace the fullness of life with God.

Who does love love, so I think maybe Ricky Gervais believes in God more than he's aware of. I'd reject the god of much of popular religion too.

traditionalguy said...

Crack...The new age cults are based upon a world view that life is only spiritual and the material world is under its control. So they seek to manipulate spirits and conjure magic but are always fooled. Those with a materialist world view avoid that BS and are the scientists, scientific marxists, and all of those who demand proof in the physical realm before they believe anything. But There is a third world view that sees a personal relationship with God and His Son and His spirit experienced publicly among God's other family members to be The Truth that you are seeking. These believers tend to be fact based, rational and are seldom fooled by cults demanding that they follow One Great Messiah/Leader calling for people to give him all their money and their family. The safe guard for them is knowing scripture like someone knowing real $100 bills so well that to them the counterfeits just cannot seem real.

Joe said...

Don't generalize your own experiences as being the totality of any subject.

Do you even read what you wrote?

Joan said...

Crack: there's absolutely no way I'll ever take another believer's word - on anything - on face value again.


Playing with semantics here? I'm trying to distinguish "belief" from "faith," and can't. I believe in God. I have faith. Apparently you'll never take anything I ever say at face value because of it, but I can deal with that.

I'm still trying to parse out what these great harms are, that we of faith are perpetrating on the world. Something about living in denial, or using religion as an excuse to do what we want? You've confused faith with hypocrisy or possibly delusion. IMO, people suck, but people who believe in God and act accordingly suck less.

As for Catholicism: there's no confusion. Most people's understanding of Catholicism is neither deep nor broad, which explains many of the misconceptions out there. I'd be happy to take a run at clearing up anything that confuses you. I'm not the best apologist ("explainer of the faith," not excuse-maker) but I do teach it so I've got some experience in answering questions.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Jim S:

I'm only saying that if even one thing is objectively right or wrong, we have to appeal to an unchanging, absolute ground to account for its objectivity.

Which is fine, until you choose to call it "God", making the assertion content-free.

"God" as I use the word has all sorts of properties. "God" as you are using it has one, which you've cherry-picked, but you haven't proved that what I call God necessarily shares that property.

Why can't this unchanging absolute ground be something that's NOT God? Perhaps a morality could somehow be derived from the speed of light or the increase in entropy of the universe or some such. Or it might be Cthulhu.

Julius Ray Hoffman said...

Oh it feels so good to believe! Why all these attempts to use logic and to argue about it rationally? Why bother when the real source of religious zeal is that is just feels really good! You have the support of a whole community of smiling faces in nice clothes singing happy songs, you have help-on-demand with any problem, you have a whole life philosophy that has been put together over the ages into a coherent package. It just feels soooo good... like bathing in sweet Jesus butter!

This is modern America, folks-- its a new decade of a relatively new millennium. The old idea of "truth" need not apply anymore. Whether Christianity is indeed "true" doesn't matter. In our modern America, "truth" is determined by how good it feels!

If it feels good, believe it!

Freeman Hunt said...

Oh, I'm sure. We grew up around, and was raised by, a huge collection of believers. The indoctrination just didn't stick is all.

I used to be an atheist. I grew up around a huge collection of believers too. Indoctrination didn't stick to me either. I used to talk and write about atheism in the same tone as you.

So, I'm just saying that you shouldn't assume that all Christians know less than you about their faith. You'd be wrong.

Skyler said...

Paddy wrote: Which leaves you in the place of so many of our liberal friends. Having to assume that since you have possession of the whole truth, those who disagree are either pernicious, simplistic, or deceived.

Oh good grief. Who says that believing in a deity has anything to do with politics?

Oh, I forget. You see, it's the people who believe in a god who think they have all the answers. It's all very pat. The origin of life? Magic. Right and wrong? Magic told you. The purpose of living? Magic being has its own mysterious answer that it won't share with us.

Some of us don't need to pretend we know all the answers. But we know what is right and what is wrong without a magical being.

Not all atheists are alike. It's the nature of atheism. In fact not all people who believe in a god are alike, even from the same church.

I support freedom of religion. No one will ever stop someone from believing what they will. It's when you try to compel people to think a certain way that trouble starts.

So please, you god believers, leave others alone and we'll leave you alone. If either of us breaks that social contract, then we're in trouble.

But it's seems okay to call atheists a bunch of hedonists as if it were self-evidently true.

I'll put my morals and character up against a whole bunch of devout deacons and other charlatans I've met any day. I know there are a lot of good people who believe, and a lot of bad ones too. The same goes for atheists.

You see, I didn't "decide" to be atheist. That's just what I perceive. I can't pretend otherwise, even if I were to want to do so. I presume the same is true for many believers.

And if someone stays with their common law spouse for 25 years without benefit of clergy or government approved certificate, well, they're better adjusted than most couples I know.

John Stodder said...

Why bother when the real source of religious zeal is that is just feels really good! You have the support of a whole community of smiling faces in nice clothes singing happy songs...

That's the part that has actually been my biggest obstacle to embracing a particular religious denomination or a church. It's one thing to meditate on the meaning of Christ's life, or to pray, privately, to God. It can be compelling to hear a really good sermon elucidating a Biblical passage and applying it to the lives we live today. But all the fellowship and shake hands with your neighbor and fingers in the air and the bad, bad music seems forced, phony, discouraging. I realize a lot of what goes on in a church on a typical Sunday is meant to inspire children. But since I'm not a child, no big surprise, I don't like it.

This kind of stuff goes on in the most liberal and progressive churches too. My son and I can make each other giggle for 20 minutes when we recall (during a church-shopping period after his mother died) our visits to the local Unitarian church, having to sing its anthems about "we'll build the land."

The Crack Emcee said...

Folks, I've got a lifetime of experience with this and religion/spirituality just can't stick to me. And I don't stop with the Christians that raised me, I've been called a "powerful spirit" by Buddhists, Santeria loons, and many others. It's all bullshit.

I'm with Julius: why not just admit it makes you feel good and be done with it?

And Tg, I was talking to everyone but you. I know you know shit.

kentuckyliz said...

Not getting married means that we are living authentically in the present moment, baby. I love you and choose to be with you.

Unstated corollary: I might change my mind tomorrow.

Shifting sands.

Maybe they don't want his income to interfere with her welfare check.

Skyler said...

Unstated corollary: I might change my mind tomorrow.

It seems to be even better if they stay together and they are allowed to change their minds and yet don't.

c3 said...

The prop 8 supporters should get him to testify in their case, cause if there's no God then there's no point in marriage. Ergo, only religious folks should care about marriage...

lyssalovelyredhead said...

Gabriel said: "Why can't this unchanging absolute ground be something that's NOT God? Perhaps a morality could somehow be derived from the speed of light or the increase in entropy of the universe or some such. Or it might be Cthulhu."

Maybe one of those things, or all of those things, or something else IS what we're calling God. I've never considered the white-bearded robed dude anything but an image personifying something too big for our present understanding.

********
Also, second everything Joan said about Catholicism.

Paddy O. said...

"Who says that believing in a deity has anything to do with politics?"

Lighten up, Skyler. That's not my point. I was suggesting that the attitude many contemporary liberals have today in responding to differences of political opinion are similar to the attitude so many have about religion. If you disagree, you are either stupid or evil.

There's so often no ability to see that people have different experiences and come to good, but different, opinions.

Paddy O. said...

"Who says that believing in a deity has anything to do with politics?"

Lighten up, Skyler. That's not my point. I was suggesting that the attitude many contemporary liberals have today in responding to differences of political opinion are similar to the attitude so many have about religion. If you disagree, you are either stupid or evil.

There's so often no ability to see that people have different experiences and come to good, but different, opinions.

Paddy O. said...

"Do you even read what you wrote?"

Yes. That's why I don't assume my experiences are shared by everyone, and why I think people can have substantial disagreement on important topics without either one being ignorant or evil.

"I'm with Julius: why not just admit it makes you feel good and be done with it?"

Because very often it hasn't made me feel good. But, I stick with it because I fully think it's true. Which comes out of my experiences and my study.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

Skyler said: "It seems to be even better if they stay together and they are allowed to change their minds and yet don't."

My husband and I both agreed that we're not going to change our minds. Who cares whether it's "allowed" or not?

Gabriel Hanna said...

@lyssalovelyredhead:

Maybe one of those things, or all of those things, or something else IS what we're calling God.

If Cthulhu is God, we've got a lot bigger problems than trying to figure out if people can stay together without being married.

My wife is from Beijing and was not raised in a religious culture; neither she nor I "get" religion. Yet we were married, before a man of the cloth no less.

The value to us of marriage, as opposed to just living together, was that we'd both made promises to our families to stay together, with consequences enforced by the State of Washington if we didn't. We used the traditional service to emphasize that we were doing something our ancestors had done.

Marriage is not like what we call a "long-term relationship", in my experience.

elHombre said...

@traditionalguy: The quality of the God debate is, as always, pretty pedestrian here, i.e., atheists who don't understand the implications of atheism.

However, the high point for me was to read that Kenneth Boa is your pastor or, at least, is affiliated with your church. He is just incredible. I have three of his devotionals.

That still doesn't mean I can come to terms with your channeling Maximus Decimus Meridius. ;>)

Skyler said...

atheists who don't understand the implications of atheism.

What an arrogant thing to say.

Pray tell, what are these "implications" that are not understood?

The Crack Emcee said...

"I've never considered the white-bearded robed dude anything but an image personifying something too big for our present understanding."

The idea there's something "too big for our present understanding" is where people get into trouble. That leads to the "you don't know everything" school of "thought". We know more than you think. Which, now that I think about it, is also where the problem lies:

If believers are always gonna want to stick The Miracle Man in there somewhere (and, by all the evidence available, they will) they should willingly take themselves out of the category of "thinkers" because they're not helping.

The Crack Emcee said...

Yes, elHombre, please, "enlighten" us;

This ought to be GOOD.

Elliott A said...

My problem with atheism is that failure to believe in a greater being, not necessarily one you worship, keeps one from the delusion that there is nothing greater than Self. The Pledge of Allegiance specifically mentions God to place the school and the state beneath a higher power and thus not the highest power over you. Our Constitution cites our "Blessings" as the source of our freedom and may not be usurped. I don't believe humans as the ultimate arbiter of all things is a good foundation for a healthy society.

The Crack Emcee said...

Personally, elHombre, I'd say it's YOU who doesn't understand the implications of what you're doing.

I dare you to watch that video, at the link, and then present a coherent defense of your position.

And if you can't, please apologize, because that shit you're spouting is not only pretty insulting to our intelligence but really stinks up the joint.

Gabriel Hanna said...

The idea there's something "too big for our present understanding" is where people get into trouble. That leads to the "you don't know everything" school of "thought".

"We don't understand this" and "We can't ever possibly understand this" are very different statements. The first can be said about a lot of things; the second requires an extraordinary amount of evidence to back it. So many people seem to use them interchangeably.

Henry said...

After reading the apologetics above, it seems that with enough circular arguments you create a whirlwind and out of that whirlwind comes the voice of God. And the voice will say I am the Word.

I realize that the idea of human consciousness without God can seem bleak, but that is an aesthetic reaction, not a proof.

There are great beauties to the tragic version of life, the version in which the Gods or capricious or absent, which is why we still read Homer and Beowulf.

Henry said...

...are capricious or absent...

Palladian said...

So since you're a screaming atheist, Skyler, why do you have something against faggots like me? Why is homosexuality "inherently wrong" without religious proscription?

Palladian said...

And you can't appeal to Nature, because homosexuality occurs in "Nature", nevermind that I believe humanity to be a part of Nature and the Nature/Humanity dichotomy to be fallacious.

Skyler said...

So since you're a screaming atheist, Skyler, why do you have something against faggots like me? Why is homosexuality "inherently wrong" without religious proscription?

Your words, not mine.

And I'm not going to be pulled into that topic.

Skyler said...

Hey Crack. They are missing the moon in that video. Maybe we know more than them!

MamaM said...

I can't admit to my belief system making me "feel good" because hasn't served that purpose or had that overall affect in my life.

What I've experienced in place of either a good feeling or a feeling of goodness, has been the challenge of walking by faith in a tenuous process that involves growing, learning, persevering, leaving behind, considering, committing, weighing, wondering and doubting.

It's my belief a faithful journey matters. When moments of goodness, connection and celebration happen, they nourish and encourage, but they are not the norm or the reason I continue on.

I'm not surprised Crack's been identified as having a powerful spirit. I believe it was in action again today as the thoughts and words he expressed served to stir, provoke and stimulate further thought and comment. I consider every human alive to carry inside their physical body a similarly powerful but unique spirit. One that continues to exist long after the body in which it resides expires. Holding onto this belief and living out it's implications is not a predominately "feel good" experience, at least not from my perspective. But I believe it to be a valuable part of the ongoing process J Bunyan referred to as the "Dangerous Journey".

Palladian said...


Another commenter tried to correlate atheism with homosexuality. Be assured that there is no united organization of atheists, and plenty of us atheists sensibly object to the homosexual agenda.

Paul said...

"My problem with atheism is that failure to believe in a greater being, not necessarily one you worship, keeps one from the delusion that there is nothing greater than Self."

Explain then the atheist who fights and dies for his country.

Palladian said...

Skyler said... Single people put up with the assumption that one is always supposed to have a significant other.

Yet it only gets pointed out as a problem when homosexuals want us to accept their non-normal lives.

bagoh20 said...
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bagoh20 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bagoh20 said...

It's all based on "too big for our current understanding". Without that, there is no religion and no faith required.

The only alternatives to faith are:

1) I know everything.

2) I don't know enough.

There are no other choices as I see it.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@bagoh20:

It's all based on "too big for our current understanding". Without that there is no religion and no faith required.

The only alternatives are to faith are:

1) I know everything.

2) I don't enough.



There are no other choices as I see it.


And then God can live in the ever-shrinking circle of what you don't understand.

Henry said...

2) I don't know enough.

That seems to be an eminently rational way to view the world, especially with its corollary:

2a) I know that I don't know.

The last people I trust are those that have all the answers. Mote, meet Blind Spot.

traditionalguy said...

@ ElHombre...FYI Ken Boa is a busy counselor, teacher and writer that teaches at our church twice a week (on Monday night and weds. Morning). Ken is not on staff at our church(PCUSA) although he filled in for the Pastorlast week. He also teaches every week at a Methodist Church a mile away, and he attends a small Anglican Church on Sundays that meets in my old H.S.'s auditorium two miles away. His books include an excellent one called Conformed to His Image.

bagoh20 said...

Yea, #2 should be "I don't KNOW enough."

I don't see any other alternatives to those three, just logically. Without logic, we can't even talk.

kynefski said...

A thread like this always brings forth the nobility of the faith-friendly atheist. I'd like to ask them to reconsider.

Sustaining faith is really, really difficult, much more so than it was for our ancestors. Part of this - which many of us scramble to deny - is science. Understanding that human beings arose from an unguided natural process was a pretty hard blow. Another part is broader appreciation of global history. It gets kind of difficult for us to explain to our children how it is that God, when He revealed Himself, ignored the most advanced civilizations of the time.

So most believers believe in a condition of doubt. Everyone here knows the record of Mother Teresa's correspondence. Or consider this, from this thread: But consider the idea that God is the voice that says ‘I am not here'. That seems weird to me, but I have no doubt it is sincerely felt. So many people struggle to believe. They think they must, but they find it difficult to reconcile belief with what they know of the world.

There are two groups of people who are spiritually at peace: believers who have no doubt, and those who have let go of God. What I would suggest to faith-friendly atheists is that they consider the possibility that their perspective only serves to sustain the suffering of those poor souls living in doubt.

bagoh20 said...

I think even a lot of atheists are really just claiming they don't believe in the usual religious ideas of god. actually Anti-theists.

Otherwise they are claiming they know all the universe and how it works, or they have FAITH that it just does all on it's own as they imagine it.

bagoh20 said...

"consider the possibility that their perspective only serves to sustain the suffering of those poor souls living in doubt."

This seems to me to be evangelical equivalent of "eat your peas, because there are starving children in India."

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