Atheism is Really Meism – “I Can’t See Anyone Greater than Me”

What is “meism”? Simply stated: it is pride. Pride speaks of entitlement: If God exists, He owes me big-time. God should serve me; He should pay homage to me. God is the one who should be asking me for forgiveness for placing me in this mess.

“Pride is the delusion that God, if he exists, is awfully lucky I’ve shown up and should mind his p’s and q’s lest I change my mind (Buchanan, Rest of God).” What’s even worse in a broken world filled with broken people, is that pride has the audacity to say “Not even God is good enough or big enough or smart enough to sort out the mess I’ve made or stumbled into.” Therefore, I will conclude that He does not exist.

C. S. Lewis called pride the “Great Sin.” We have come up against something which is immeasurably superior to ourselves in God. Self becomes the center. A smug sense of self-righteousness hides the fact that we are totally obsessed with ourselves. Says Lewis: “Someone who is so proud and so wrapped up in himself and so capable of rationalizing anything could not possibly see something greater than himself.” If we are a prisoner of our pride, confession to God’s existence is impossible. There is no greater need than when we think we have no need.

Pride is conceit, arrogance, an inflated opinion of one’s own importance, power and ability. It fosters the idea that we’re self-sufficient and don’t need anyone, not even God. Some even have an air of superiority, a win-at-any-cost determination, a pursuit of glory, power, and control over people, especially those they are prejudiced against. Self rules.

Frank Sinatra’s chart topping song is not the right foundation to approach the deeper questions of life, but atheists choose to live it out anyway. “I Did It My Way” “Now, the end is near, So I face the final curtain – My friends, I’ll say it clear, state my case of which I’m certain. I’ve lived a life that’s full, And traveled each, and every highway – And more, much more than this I did it my way.”

The only problem? It’s Meism. Madeleine L’Engle, calls it “serpent hissing pride.” It’s flamboyant and it will never lead you to a new life where God answers the deeper questions on which your life can be based.

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88 Comments

Filed under Atheism, Atheist, Christian Worldview, Idolatry, Pride

88 responses to “Atheism is Really Meism – “I Can’t See Anyone Greater than Me”

  1. scaryreasoner

    You know it’s pretty funny, being accused of arrogance — by people who claim to be on a first name basis with the supreme creator of the universe.

  2. sumpteretc

    Claiming to be on a first-name basis with the Creator of the universe isn’t as arrogant as claiming to be the sole arbiter of morality.

  3. aforcier

    joey,

    how are you doing? read a few of your blogs but did not respond. Too busy as they say. But tonight…

    meism or valuing “self”.

    we are like tight rope walkers, moving …one foot looking at life. One avoiding death. This demands self-centredness. Equilibrium.

    we must put our self at the centre of our lives. to act otherwise invites desaster. (if you were on a thight rope helping someone who is falling, you better be self-centered and conscious of your space)

    pride is an acknowlegement that the self, or an act, or a culture, or one’s own “things” has value. when nature provides us with a little jolt of happiness for a successful move, lets be thankful. and appreciative. If we can acheive equilibrium and travel life not too damaged… we can be proud of our accomplishments.

    religion is always displeased with the self. it always wants to insert a “god” in is stead. why? because the human self is not good enough for god. so sad to think like that.

    it is a great delusion to think that you can abdicate your centre. religion has tried for millennia to kick people out of themselves. to divide them. to disconnect them. to separate them from their center.

    we are one single entity. and each and every single entity is at the centre of the universe. from that center we conduct our life. it is very difficult to drive a car standing outside the car.

    i suppose you will say to put “god” in the driver seat. well if god wants to drive every car (life) why did he bother to create us? he may as well replace every one of us with himself. he can have the whole road all to himself.

    http://www.ANaturalPhilosophy.com

  4. sumpteretc

    I suppose that your philosophy would also exclude marriage or any other kind of benevolent institution. If life is all about us, why would we bother to share it with someone else? The only way to be really fulfilled is to be in a relationship with someone exactly like ourselves.

  5. as claiming to be the sole arbiter of morality.

    Presumes morality to be an agency to be greater than humanity, rather than a product of it, to begin with.

  6. sumpteretc

    If morality is a product of humanity, which human gets to determine it?

  7. Assuming such is true, then obviously no single person would. It would be a group social decision, much like as has been witnessed throughout modern history as the morality and ethics of humanity, in general, has evolved into what we have today.

  8. I also find this blog entry to be nothing more than a rather large strawman, wherein the author has presented his own (almost certainly) false understanding of atheism and what it is to be an atheist.

    I am an atheist. I know lots of atheists. I have yet to meet one which I could honestly describe as being a ‘meist’, someone who places himself as the most central thing in reality.

  9. sumpteretc

    Much like the group social decision that was made in Nazi Germany? Much like the group social decision that was made in Rwanda? Much like the group social decision made by Islamic fundamentalists today? Are you actually suggesting that morality is determined by common consent?

  10. sumpteretc

    Who or what do you place as the most central thing in reality?

  11. No one ever said social group morality was perfect but you can not learn without making some mistakes. An overall look at human morality over history quite clearly shows it improving dramatically from century to century; from equal rights for various social members (women, indigenous people, etc), general abolition of slavery and so on.

    What is the most central thing in reality as we know it? That depends entirely on your perspective and is very subjective. As a very quick answer, I would say reality itself – after all, without it then nothing else could be.

  12. sumpteretc

    You call the Holocaust breaking a few eggs for the sake of making an omelet? How can you look at the genocide of the 20th century and say that people are getting better? We’ve developed weapons of mass destruction, racial hatred is rampant, and more Christians were killed for their faith in the 20th century than in the previous 19 centuries combined. This is not a kinder, gentler world we are living in. I challenge you to take your cheery message of humankind’s upward spiral to Darfur.

    The most central thing in reality is reality? I agree. And that reality is larger than any human, larger than any society–it is God. You are correct when you say “without [Him] then nothing else could be.”

  13. In the grand scale of things, moral backsteps such as the holocaust and various other things are rather minor (and only from that perspective. They were surely horrible acts).

    To deny that is to deny the scale on which history works; I also quite clearly said that societal morality is not perfect. It never probably will be either but it is the only observable model for morality we have ever actually seen.

    This is not a kinder, gentler world we are living in.

    Actually, when you actually bother to look at historical records, it is. Less overall levels of war and violence than any other century you care to name. Less political strife. Overall less hunger and poverty. We have far greater levels of social justice in modern times than any other point in history.

    And that reality is larger than any human, larger than any society–it is God.

    Presupposes the existence of a deity figure with no evidence. Also makes a huge connective leap which I did not so much as suggest. Stop trying to put words in other peoples mouths, it only makes you seem to be foolish.

  14. sumpteretc

    Can you give me some of those historical records? The 2oth century gave us WW2 (55 million deaths), Mao Zedong (40 million deaths, mostly through policy-induced famine, Josef Stalin (20 million deaths), WW1 (15 million deaths), the Russian Civil War (9 million deaths), colonial brutality in Congo (8 million deaths, 3.2 million of those in the 20th century), etc. If this represents the low point in “overall levels of war and violence,” I’m not even sure how we made it to the 20th century.

  15. sumpteretc

    Can you give me some of those historical records? The 2oth century gave us WW2 (55 million deaths), Mao Zedong (40 million deaths, mostly through policy-induced famine), Josef Stalin (20 million deaths), WW1 (15 million deaths), the Russian Civil War (9 million deaths), colonial brutality in Congo (8 million deaths, 3.2 million of those in the 20th century), etc. If this represents the low point in “overall levels of war and violence,” I’m not even sure how we made it to the 20th century.

  16. You fail utterly to take into account two factors, thus resulting in a patently false comparison:
    A) Increased human population. A lot easier to kill when population is denser. More importantly:
    B) Increased technology. The 20th century saw the greatest and quickest advancements in technology and despite all the greatness that technology brought, it also made killing easier. You can kill a whole lot more people with nukes, bombs, and tanks than you can with boiling oil, greek fire and chariots.

    A much better comparison would have been to look at trends of political and religious upheaval resulting in general unrest, wars (both international and civil), poverty levels, standards of living and so on.

    I put it to you again; modern times have seen the greatest advancement in social justice and standards of living that the human race has ever seen.

  17. sumpteretc

    Don’t try to guess as to what I have failed to take into account. I was quite aware of both of those elements, and I feel that they only bolster my case. Humanity has not used technology to simply better our world but also to increase its capacity for evil.

    If you would like to give me some evidence for your allegations, I’d be more than happy to peruse them.

    Still, all of this is a moot point as you toss around terms like “social justice” and “standards of living” without providing any standard for measuring those items other than social contract.

  18. Return of Tofu

    “Still, all of this is a moot point as you toss around terms like “social justice” and “standards of living” without providing any standard for measuring those items other than social contract.”

    Sumpteretc, this is rather ironic considering in the last conversation here you couldn’t come up with anything better.

    “God’s character is good, because goodness gets its definition from Him.”

    How is this any less arbitrary than a social contract? At least the social contract has an end goal (increasing happiness/prosperity of the human race).

    You couldn’t explain the reasoning behind god’s character being the way it is, so why should we even care what goodness is under this system? As far as we can tell, it’s just a bunch of unrelated actions.

  19. sumpteretc: “Claiming to be on a first-name basis with the Creator of the universe isn’t as arrogant as claiming to be the sole arbiter of morality.”

    Precisely.

    And atheistic utopia’s have been tried, will be tried, and they will fail again and again. They fail to consider the “meism” that is at the heart of human-beings.

    Aforcier, it’s not just a drive to survive or a heathy sense of self that I’m after here; it’s a drive to dominate, manipulate, and obliterate via social Darwinism those who fail to conform to “MY” standards of justice, ideas, and desires for the world. And without God, all things are permissable in that world, to be defined as “I” see fit, even if it means injecting harmful chemicals inside of Jewish veins for experimental purposes, all in the name of racial purity, idealogical superiority, and the elimination of a “perceived threat” to the good of humanity.

    No, no. The holocaust was not just a “moral backstep” Matt ( are you kidding me?!?) It is in our nature to destroy ourselves and any others who stand to threaten my “meistic agenda” for “MY” world. We are not innately good as you imply. If we drive humanity, we crash – every time. That’s what sumpteretc is trying to tell you. Just look at human history – empirically validated information that indicates what human beings are capable of, especially when they suggest ludicrous things like “God doesn’t exist.”

    Yeh…we communicate faster, but it’s our lies that we communicate. Yeh, we live longer, but not any better. Yeh, there are goods made available to third world nations, but only the powerful have access to them. Yeh, marginalized groups have been elevated, but crime still remains.

    As an atheist, you won’t admit what is so imperative that human-beings acknowledge – that there is a Hitler in each of us. A Christian Theist doesn’t pretend to be righteous; to know how to define the good. We recognize that good can only come from Someone “outside” of ourselves – someone “other” than “ME”. A Christian Theist readily admits: “I am a Meist and must be dethroned.” Only then, can we truly begin becoming good. All the atheist cries out for is “more information.” When all the while, it is not a “to know” problem; it is a “I know, but I don’t want it to be true problem. I want to be god.”

    I offer this story I’ve shared elsewhere: In 1960, Israeli undercover agents orchestrated the daring kidnapping of one of the worst of the Holocaust masterminds, Adolf Eichmann. After capturing him in his South American hideout, they transported him to Israel to stand trial. There, prosecutors called a string of former concentration camp prisoners as witnesses. One was a small haggard man name Yehiel Dinur, who had miraculously escaped death in Auschwitz. On his day to testify, Dinur entered the courtroom and stared at the man in the bulletproof glass booth – the man who had murdered Dinur’s friends, personally executed a number of Jews, and presided over the slaughter of millions more. As the eyes of the two men met – victim and murderous tyrant – the courtroom fell silent, filled with the tension of the confrontation. But no one was prepared for what happened next. Yehiel Dinur began to shout and sob, collapsing to the floor. Was he overcome by hatred…by the horrifying memories…by the evil incarnate in Eichmann’s face? No. As he later explained in a riveting “60 Minutes” interview, it was because Eichmann was not the demonic personification of evil Dinur had expected. Rather, he was an ordinary man, just like anyone else. And in that instant, Dinur came to the stunning realization that sin and evil are the human condition. “I was afraid about myself,” Dinur said. “I saw that I am capable to do this…exactly like he… Eichmann is in all of us” (Colson, Body).”

    There’s an Eichmann in all of us. And life becomes an Auschwitz in a world without God. And what’s amazing, is that this God has self-disclosed in many remarkable ways, and still there are those who assert there is “no evidence.” Why? Because if there is a God, I’m morally responsible for the “Auschwitz” that I choose to create.

    The atheists pursuit of “atheistic utopia” will never work. It will sink under the weight of it’s own “Meism”. While Christian Theists are committed to restoration of a fallen planet in rebellion, it would be incorrect to assume that since we know God on a “first name basis” (as some accuse) that we are somehow free from the “meistic” tendencies of the human heart and are “arrogant” about it.

    No. God is beyond the Christian Theist, parts of Him remaining a mystery beyond definition. But on the other hand, this God became the God-Man. Seriously considering His claims is far from arrogant. If you are making great progress in your atheism but atheism is the wrong road, the most sensible thing to do is to turn around and make good time on the right road.

    Telling someone they have made a wrong turn is not arrogant; it is in fact an act of kindness. It provides an opportunity to rethink the journey, the destiny, and how and why a new path leads me to new life.

  20. aforcier

    sumptretc… i know, taking hold of our naturalness, of the way we truly are creates fear. not unjustified fears. but the dream/trance morality that we operate on does not save us from any misery either.

    you refer to millions of people kill: (some of them did the killings for god, others to better serve their human fellow, other because of their love of power) all this tells us is that humans kill other humans. and we still do (and justify) our killings.

    it is viewed with so much contempt to place our “self” were we belong. at the ceter of life. sorry if it does not make you happy. but that is the way of all things, all forms, all lives are. every thing is a center within billions of centers.

    matt. i do not see myself as an atheist. i am simply a human being who lives in a natural universe.

    joey. darwin did not invent nature. he simply made observations. we are individual beings who live in a community of beings. once centered we can move about and visit our neighbours. – for knowingly centered beings – even in “marriage” – can augment their chance at understanding each other. and creating a better humanity.

    http://www.ANaturalPhilosophy.com

  21. Don’t try to guess as to what I have failed to take into account.

    I’m not guessing. It seems fairly obvious that you completely failed to take those factors into account before making unsubstantiated claims.

    Humanity has not used technology to simply better our world but also to increase its capacity for evil.

    Then I fear you may be blind. Medical technology has saved countless lives, eradicated diseases that were once epidemic, doubled the human life span, made communication over distances incredibly easy, made transport incredibly easy. Technology has increased our understanding of the universe itself in incredible, incredible ways. These last two aspects have undoubtedly averted innumerable conflicts especially.

    And yet you seem to choose to concentrate on the bad aspects instead of the good.

    If you would like to give me some evidence for your allegations, I’d be more than happy to peruse them.

    All you have to do is peruse history books, it is not terribly hard, and see the levels of political, civil and religious conflicts in each century (levels, yes. numbers of dead, no – that creates a false comparison as previously noted). In comparison to most of history, the 20th century was like a tea party.

    Still, all of this is a moot point as you toss around terms like “social justice” and “standards of living” without providing any standard for measuring those items other than social contract.

    Social justice and standards of living both have pretty agreed upon definitions. I am surprised you are unaware of them. Let’s quickly list off just a few aspects of them; equality for all (women, indigenous peoples, minorities), lessening of overall poverty levels, conveniences such as electricity, running water and communications more widespread than ever, ease of transport – the average person today has greater levels of that than kings from just a couple of centuries ago. And so on and so on and so on.

    And atheistic utopia’s have been tried, will be tried, and they will fail again and again.

    Interesting that you seem able to predict the future. On the other hand, theocratic nations have been tried plenty of times and I can’t seem to be able to recall one that actually worked well…

    They fail to consider the “meism” that is at the heart of human-beings.

    That seems to be a concept you’ve come up with but have failed to actually justify in any way. I put it to you again; you have constructed a strawman version of atheism which is patently false to reality.

    And without God, all things are permissable in that world, to be defined as “I” see fit

    Unfounded conclusion. Your example is also foolish since it was clearly not permissible to society as large as demonstrated by the way that society turned around and kicked Hitler’s rear for doing evil things.

    The holocaust was not just a “moral backstep” Matt ( are you kidding me?!?)

    No, I am not. Someone experimented with an idea and society said “Hold on, you’re a git.” and slapped him down for it. In the grand scale of things, it was minor. Just like the whole concept of slavery was relatively minor and people woke up to it’s immoral nature and banned it.

    Now before anyone gets on their high horse and descries my description, let’s make this completely clear; I am NOT saying the holocaust or any other similar incident throughout history was not a bad thing. It was a insanely horrible act driven by the ideals of a complete lunatic. But in the grand scale of human history, it was not the end all and be all.

    It is in our nature to destroy ourselves and any others who stand to threaten my “meistic agenda” for “MY” world. We are not innately good as you imply.

    The altruism you see throughout human history, even in the modern day, strongly suggests otherwise.

    As an atheist, you won’t admit what is so imperative that human-beings acknowledge – that there is a Hitler in each of us.

    So now you can read my mind? Fascinating.
    When did I ever state that we are not capable of terrible acts? I never did, never would. We all are but it is the grand testament of humanity that the vast, vast majority of human kind resist such choices and lead wonderful lives.

    Once again, you seem to be constructing rather odd strawmen to try to support your own point of view, when said strawmen have nothing to do with actual reality.

    The atheists pursuit of “atheistic utopia”

    I have actually yet to see any evidence for this apparent quest. I wonder where you got this strange idea from. From what I have seen, what atheists want is for religious people to stop trying to force their beliefs on other people and that is really about it.

    Telling someone they have made a wrong turn is not arrogant; it is in fact an act of kindness.

    It is actually arrogance since it assumes you know the right way to begin with. And if that ‘knowledge’ is based on faith then it is not knowledge to begin with.

  22. Isn’t it your desire Matt that all the world be atheistic? Is atheism the truth? If so, shouldn’t you raise your children as atheist? Shouldn’t we move everyone toward a belief that there is no God? Shouldn’t we strive to shut down the churches, because after all, they are spreading lies? Shouldn’t we burn all the Bibles and shut down all the seminaries? They teach falsehood. Right?

  23. Isn’t it your desire Matt that all the world be atheistic? Is atheism the truth? If so, shouldn’t you raise your children as atheist?

    It would be preferable but, unlike certain faiths, I am perfectly fine with people believing whatever they wish to – so long as they do not try to force it upon anyone else (through annoying witnessing tactics, through attempts to change laws or however) or hurt anyone through said beliefs.

    Again, you seem to have constructed a strawman of atheism which is horribly incorrect. It seems to be a bad habit of yours which I suggest you correct, lest you make yourself seem foolish.

  24. sumpteretc

    [quote]I am perfectly fine with people believing whatever they wish to – so long as they do not try to force it upon anyone else.[/quote]

    Part of our belief system is that we must share the good news with others; to do otherwise would be highly immoral–like knowing the cure to cancer and refusing to share it. So your restrictions prohibit us from practicing our faith.

    If you are right and there is no God, you will have to face a century or so of annoyance. If I am right and there is a God, then you and I would both face an eternity of regret if I did the great injustice of failing to tell you the truth.

  25. A) It may be someone’s faith that stabbing other in the face is really moral. Or that setting things, including animals and people, is the way to salvation. Or something so simple as slowly rolling down neighbourhood streets with really loud music at 2AM is the way to god. It does not make it less annoying/wrong/immoral.
    By stopping them, you would be stopping them practising their religion. Starting to see where you logic completely fails yet?

    B) Appeal to Pascal’s Wager, which has never held any sort of weight as an argument (still can’t believe people keep trying that one).

  26. aforcier

    joey,

    well joey, that’s nailling it!.. (i like that about you.) should we teach our children to end believing in fairy tales? if institutions teach lies, should they not be closed? if people promote untruths, should they not be stopped? burning books (that one will go well!)

    how far are the believers ready to move their agenda? how draconnian can the mesures become? should a new “holy” inquisition be launched? who should block ads on busses?

    joey, fear is the killer of possibilities. of truth.

    what if we just woke up one good morning, and realized that where we are is – all – there is. right there. no god. no satan. just us. and the world. and nature. and people. and green grass.

    lets begin by waking up.

    http://www.ANaturalPhilosophy.com

  27. Matt, so the truth doesn’t matter then, just so long as no one offends anyone else? Is that right?

    Aforcier, again the simplicity of your way makes me smile. But according to Matt, the truth doesn’t matter. He just wants everyone to avoid offending everyone else. There is no truth to wake up to.

  28. Matt, so the truth doesn’t matter then, just so long as no one offends anyone else? Is that right?

    Um, where ever did I say that or even suggest it? This habit you have of trying to put words into people’s mouths is childish at best, intellectually dishonest at worst.

  29. Return of Tofu

    “All the atheist cries out for is “more information.” When all the while, it is not a “to know” problem; it is a “I know, but I don’t want it to be true problem. I want to be god.” ”

    Can you please stop saying this? It’s patently untrue.

    Many believers claim to have had personal revelations or experiences of god/Jesus/whathaveyou. I have never had such an experience.

    The disciples supposedly saw Jesus return from the dead, as well as perform many other miracles. I’ve never seen someone perform a miracle.

    Moses supposedly talked to god directly on multiple occasions. I have not.

    Given that all you’ve provided on this blog as “evidence” for god is a handful of poorly thought out god of the gaps arguments, why do you still insist on believing that atheists have “knowledge” of god?

    I have no reason to believe in god, so I don’t. That’s all there is to it.

  30. aforcier

    joey,

    oh yes there is a truth to wake up to.

    sometimes it is as simple as saying thank you. to your home. to the people around you. to that breath of air you are inhaling. to the light of the sun. to the morning breeze. or the white snow.

    http://www.ANaturalPhilosophy.com

  31. sumpteretc

    “It may be someone’s faith that stabbing other in the face is really moral. Or that setting things, including animals and people, is the way to salvation. Or something so simple as slowly rolling down neighbourhood streets with really loud music at 2AM is the way to god. It does not make it less annoying/wrong/immoral. By stopping them, you would be stopping them practising their religion. Starting to see where you logic completely fails yet?”

    No, I don’t. By what standard are you saying that those people would be wrong? Because they bothered somebody else? So, if I suggest that your confused logic bothers me, you will stop using it?

    B) Appeal to Pascal’s Wager, which has never held any sort of weight as an argument (still can’t believe people keep trying that one).

    I wasn’t appealing to Pascal’s Wager as a proof for God’s existence. I was using it to point out a Christians’ motivation for speaking the truth. If we sincerely believe that God exists and has revealed Himself, it is immoral for us to remain silent.

  32. No, I don’t. By what standard are you saying that those people would be wrong?

    Societal standards and observed independent evidence (for which there would be none, presumably, to support their stance – much like there is none for any religion I am aware of currently). We have seen these two standards work quite well over the past couple of centuries as they helped to drag humanity out of more primitive times to the better age we find ourselves in now.

    I wasn’t appealing to Pascal’s Wager as a proof for God’s existence. I was using it to point out a Christians’ motivation…

    And it is the exact same logic you are using. Logic which utterly fails to stand up to even casual examination. It does not matter how you happen to be using it, it still fails completely and should thus never be used.

  33. Return of Tofu

    Sumpteretc, I have a question for you. What do you believe morality is for?

  34. Tofu, you don’t have to be an eye-witness of the resurrection, or a miracle, or talk to God directly to encounter God.

    God has been revealed in what He has made (Intelligent Design). In addition, you have the life of Jesus Christ (Special Revelation), the written Word (More Special Revelation), the witness of “deep conscience” (Natural Law), the logic of everything has to come from something (First Cause), and you have mankind (Anthropological Argument) wherein the complexity of only one organ (the human eyeball) within this living organism is beyond science’s ability to explain (Irreducibly Complex). You also have demonstrated a desire for beauty and truth in many previous blog posts. Who put this there Tofu?

    Now, with this kind of evidence, why do you keep saying “I have no knowledge of God.” Evidently, you’re not looking. Or if you are, you’re turning your head away because you’ve already concluded that God doesn’t exists, which is a testimony to your own “Meism”.

    Then, you have counter-part or two that wants to argue how much better the world is getting, all the while, the state of the family continues to disintegrate, genital mutilation of female organs is rampant in some countries, and numerous children (of which you seem to be sincerely concerned for – via your OT critiques) are forced into the sex trade. I’m all for progress, but planet earth is in serious trouble – the family is falling apart, the bedrock institution for civilization as we know it, is beginning to crumble – same sex marriage, divorce, abortion, etc…

    Atheism will never make the world a better place. As I’ve said before, how many hospitals have the atheists started; or how many institutions of higher-learning have they planted? And you said “Atheists don’t typically organize themselves in this way.” I wonder why? Could “Meism” have anything to do with it Tofu?

    I don’t mean to pick a fight, but I frankly find that atheists play this childish game of “Let’s pretrend” rather than personally face and deal with the truth. Stereotype me if you want, but I continue to hold to this position. “I have no knowledge of God” is a statement from one who refuses to see what is seeable.

    “Let’s pretend” the world is getting better. “Let’s pretend” we are all good. “Let’s pretend” that we don’t need God. “Let’s pretend” that we seek the truth, so we can be justified in our rejection of it. “Let’s pretend” the Bible can’t be read as a coherent book. “Let’s pretend” that American religion has harmed the globe. “Let’s pretend” the universe explains itself. “Let’s pretend” that prayers are never answered. “Let’s pretend” that God hasn’t revealed himself. “Let’s pretend” Jesus is a mythical figure. “Let’s pretend” His death meant nothing. “Let’s pretend” all Christians are hypocritical bastards. “Let’s pretend” God is the reason for all the evil in the world. Tofu, you don’t have to be an eye-witness of the resurrection, or a miracle, or talk to God directly to encounter God.

    You will never answer the deeper questions of life as long as you play this elaborate game of hide-n-seek. You won’t allow it. You like “let’s pretend” much better, because it places you in the position to call the shots – a True Meist.

    You are not in intellectul revolt Tofu. You are “sincere and honest” as you say. But you and all of us are in moral revolt. You find God objectionable and want Him to change the world on your terms, but He’s not allowed to change You. Why? Meism. The atheist will get rid of moral judgement by ridding himself of the Judge.

    Let it be said that there is one person in your life that called your bluff. Let it also be said that in doing so, that person is deeply humbled, and wants so much to invite you into the Sacred Romance of God, who woos creation unto himself, while honoring their free-will.

  35. Return of Tofu

    “God has been revealed in what He has made (Intelligent Design).”

    God of the gaps.

    “In addition, you have the life of Jesus Christ (Special Revelation), the written Word (More Special Revelation),”

    Written in one book that cannot be shown to be reliable.

    “the witness of “deep conscience” (Natural Law),”

    God of the gaps.

    “the logic of everything has to come from something (First Cause),”

    Special pleading, since you don’t believe god had a cause.

    “and you have mankind (Anthropological Argument) wherein the complexity of only one organ (the human eyeball) within this living organism is beyond science’s ability to explain (Irreducibly Complex).”

    Untrue, as I demonstrated in your post on this subject. Also god of the gaps.

    “You also have demonstrated a desire for beauty and truth in many previous blog posts. Who put this there Tofu?”

    Why do you assume it must be your specific god? As you’re fond of pointing out, I find many of the things in your Bible to be objectionable. Why is this so if the god who inspired it also created my moral intuitions and desires?

  36. Return of Tofu

    Not believing in bigfoot will never make the world a better place. As I’ve said before, how many hospitals have the a-bigfootists started; or how many institutions of higher-learning have they planted? And you said “People who don’t believe in bigfoot don’t typically organize themselves in this way.” I wonder why?

  37. God has been revealed in what He has made (Intelligent Design).

    Presupposes the concept of ID to be true when there is no evidence for it.

    In addition, you have the life of Jesus Christ (Special Revelation), the written Word (More Special Revelation),

    Neither backed up by independent evidence.

    the witness of “deep conscience” (Natural Law),

    As noted that is in many ways a ‘god of the gaps’ argument but also shows ignorance of some fascinating research being done into the make-up of the human mind and psyche; which is making huge headway into how human self awareness actually works.

    the logic of everything has to come from something (First Cause)

    Misuse of the concept since we know that known physical laws break down at the time of the Big Bang. In short, before the Big Bang there was no time as we know therefore there could have been (in a way) nothing before it since time is the measurement of cause and effect.

    and you have mankind (Anthropological Argument) wherein the complexity of only one organ (the human eyeball) within this living organism is beyond science’s ability to explain (Irreducibly Complex).

    Um, just so you know … as far back as Origin of the Species the formation of the eye was mostly figured out. As time has gone on, the whole process has been worked out.
    Just as another hint, not one case of irreducible complexity has been verified.
    The rest of the above is no more than an argument from incredulity.

    You also have demonstrated a desire for beauty and truth in many previous blog posts. Who put this there Tofu?

    Assigns attributes to a concept which does not belong, also (through wording) presumes someone did give humans emotions/appreciation for beauty when there is no evidence for such.
    In short, a really bad god of the gaps argument.

    Then, you have counter-part or two that wants to argue how much better the world is getting, all the while, the state of the family continues to disintegrate,

    It’s changing, not ‘disintegrating’ but even a casual look at history will show you that the form of the family unit has always had change in it. We generally no longer live in large family units on a multi-generational basis like we once did. We generally have fewer children but have a much, much lower infant mortality rate so roughly the same number reach adult hood and so on.

    genital mutilation of female organs is rampant in some countries

    And has been so ever since people can track back, it is an ingrained part of their culture. On the other hand, instances of it happening are decreasing as society as a whole put pressure on the practitioners of that ghastly practice.

    and numerous children (of which you seem to be sincerely concerned for – via your OT critiques) are forced into the sex trade.

    Again, that has been happening for centuries. Heck, it used to be almost expected of nobles to keep around a few youngsters just so they could bed them for fun (English and French nobles were especially guilty of this). But, as I have pointed out, society as a whole figured out that was not right just like society as a whole is dead set against it now and is putting huge pressure to see it stopped.

    Your replies continue to betray an ignorance of human history, societal trends, science and even current events.

  38. Return of Tofu

    I was going to come back and post on the “disintegration of family” thing, but I think Matt pretty much covered it.

    No one is saying that everything is perfect now, but conditions are better in many areas for many people than they were even a century ago.

    Joey, I told you exactly how the eye could have evolved in your ID post, so why you’re bringing it up again is beyond me.

    “I don’t mean to pick a fight, but I frankly find that atheists play this childish game of “Let’s pretrend” rather than personally face and deal with the truth. Stereotype me if you want, but I continue to hold to this position.”

    You then go on to stereotype all atheists. Good one.

    Your attempts at psychoanalyzing me are quite silly, considering you’ve never met me in person. Your list of “let’s pretends” contains several views I have never stated nor held.

  39. aforcier

    a few comments:

    this blog is about “meism”. lets see were we are at after many days of opinions. i stated that we are all “meists”. that it is the nature of our nature. we are centers (me’s) living amongst a multitude of other centers (me’s)

    meism, in your definition joey, implies a defect of character. meism is the opposite of altruism. stating that “atheism is realy meism” implies that atheists are less altruistic than believers. therefore, they are more “bad” than non-atheists.

    my me is hurting.

    and so does scaryreasonner’s me. how dare you lower his “me” below your’s? the condemnations will be swift.

    sumpteretc would like to find a twin “me”. another “me”. he finds a perfect match “me”. he gets married. and as time passes, the “me”s” want to regain their valued center. they stop performing according to the other’s “me’s” expectation, the game now is to change each other’s “me’s”. this will result in much misery. even in divorce.

    matt says that his “me” certainly does not know of any “meist” atheists. his “me” tries to climb one step above mine. my “me” takes the blow. (i’ll throw a curve and send him a compliment:… matt, you bring many good points in your point by point defenses. (this should raise my squashed “me’s” self value.

    then points by counter points between various contestants attempt to demolish the other “me’s” – or raise their “me’s argument above that of the other. records, facts, stats are pilled up one above the “me” of the others.

    i’m good.
    your bad.

    sempteretc does not want to miss his “me’s” opportunity to go to heaven. his me’s not going to take any chance.

    joey, well your “me” is so far above my and everyone else’s “me” because you speak for god the all mighty. now how greater a “me” can a human being get? that places you well… oh so high… you can be proud of that.

    compare to you, we are all but lowly pretenders.

    i win! I win! i win!

    http://www.ANaturalPhilosophy.com

  40. Nice synthesis. But I did have to read it a few times….

    Unfortunately, my “me” is just as messed up as everyone elses “me”. But there’s a greater “ME” who came to rescue all “me’s” from their “meism” including “me”. He restores us to our true “me” (if our me will allow it) and those “me’s” who are being restored sometimes get accused by other “me’s” of psycho-analysis, or speaking for “God Almighty”, or presenting arguments of strawmen, because in a post-modern culture, no one’s “me” is more right or wrong than anybody else’s “me.”

    So tragically, we stay “me”, never “we” with Someone greater than “me.” Since all “me’s” are a reflection of the greater “ME”, there are traces of the “ME” even in those who won’t say “we.” But in the end, the “me” becomes “me-diseased” because no “me” was created to exists as “me.” Only in “we”, do we find a true “me.”

  41. aforcier

    joey,

    i was just having fun! (being a smart a….) but you’ve got to admit, not bad after all!

    ok, obviously you rose to the challenge. darn it.
    your thoughts …. a reflective joey.

    first, as “me”, i acknowledge my presence in the world. as i do not exist in stillness, i begin to move, and as i move, i look about me. there i find… a whole universe… the same as i am.

    then, the me becomes the we.

    http://www.ANaturalPhilosophy.com

  42. Return of Tofu

    “because in a post-modern culture, no one’s “me” is more right or wrong than anybody else’s “me.” ”

    Don’t complain about being accused of strawmen and then go on to present a view that I have never expressed.

    Are you interested in discussing the subject at hand, or are you just going to continue to ignore atheist arguments?

  43. Honest inquiry, intellectual debate, sincere truth-seeking will always be the right thing to do. There are aspects of various arguments that I would like to pursue myself and will in fact do so.

    But no matter what arguments are offered, atheists for whatever reason, find God objectionable and want Him to change the world on their terms, but He’s not allowed to change the atheist himself/herself. The atheist will get rid of moral judgement by ridding himself/herself of the Judge.

    Our problem is a moral one. The best arguments in the world will not change an atheist who does not want to be changed. I offer arguments and will continue to do so from various points of view and welcome the atheistic perspective. In fact, I’ve learned a great deal how this perspective is usually shaped. For that, I’m greatful. But, I have concluded that it will take more than an argument to change a mind. Only an encounter with God will be adequate to change a life.

    But make no mistake, I remain rock solid and firmly grounded in the Christian Theistic worldview, for it is the only worldview that can answer the deeper questions of life. For this, I am always ready to give an answer to those who may enquire or show an interest.

    And I’ve never gotten over the love story…love… true love…

  44. But no matter what arguments are offered, atheists for whatever reason, find God objectionable and want Him to change the world on their terms

    Again, you seem to have a mistaken view of atheism. It is not that God is objectionable (though many of his actions surely are), it is that there is no evidence for his existence.
    And how can Atheists want him to change the world on their terms when they don’t even think he exists? That is like an Atheist saying “I wish the Smurfs would make the world a better place.”

    he atheist will get rid of moral judgement by ridding himself/herself of the Judge.

    Yet again, you seem to have developed some sort of bizarre strawman of atheism. You seem to assume a lot, attributing motivations to people when you have no way of actually knowing them.

    As to this particular point; moral judgement is still existent for atheists. It comes from society as a whole, which makes an excellent gauge for such things from a contemporary perspective.

    The best arguments in the world will not change an atheist who does not want to be changed.

    Strawman. I have yet to encounter an atheist who refuses to examine new evidence as it comes to hand.

  45. Return of Tofu

    So no then? Once again you’ve responded only with broad generalizations, misinformation and appeals to emotion.

    If you actually had anything concrete you’d back up your arguments.

  46. “though many of his actions surely are”

    This phrase makes the rest of your argument nonsensical. Why did you include it?

    “society as a whole, which makes an excellent gauge for such things from a contemporary perspective.”

    Good evidence has been provided that societies often makes very poor decisions regarding morality, even by your standards.

    “I have yet to encounter an atheist who refuses to examine new evidence as it comes to hand”

    They simply refuse to recognize the evidence as evidence, because of their preconceptions.

  47. Return of Tofu

    “This phrase makes the rest of your argument nonsensical. Why did you include it?”

    I can’t say for sure, but I’m guessing Matt meant his alleged or supposed actions. Atheists don’t actually believe god did any of this stuff, but if he did it would be objectionable.

    “Good evidence has been provided that societies often makes very poor decisions regarding morality, even by your standards.”

    Somehow belief in god seems to not result in inherently stronger societies. Strange if religious people are the only ones who have morality, as theists often claim.

    “They simply refuse to recognize the evidence as evidence, because of their preconceptions.”

    I refuse to count unsubstantiated arguments and god of the gaps thinking as evidence.

    The total sum of Joey’s evidence is A) the Bible, and B) arguments from ignorance (ie. science doesn’t know how this happened, therefore my extremely specific and unsupported conclusion must have been the reason).

  48. Chris Sumpter: “I have yet to encounter an atheist who refuses to examine new evidence as it comes to hand”. They simply refuse to recognize the evidence as evidence, because of their preconceptions.

    Bingo. If you deny that any evidence I or Chris or anyone else offers is not admissable in your “court of inquiry” what am I/we/theists to do? I offer, and you label and dismiss. I offer again, you label and dismiss. I offer yet again, you label and dismiss.

    I get this sense that it’s not so much the love of the truth that’s the objective; it’s the challenge of shooting down anything and everything that weakens my prior held assumption – that God doesn’t exist.

  49. “Atheists don’t actually believe god did any of this stuff, but if he did it would be objectionable.”

    On what basis? The common consent of society? More people in American society believe that God exists than that He doesn’t. Does that make His existence therefore true, until opinion changes?

    “Strange if religious people are the only ones who have morality, as theists often claim.”

    Has someone on this blog claimed that? What does “have morality” mean?

    “I refuse to count unsubstantiated arguments and god of the gaps thinking as evidence.”

    What would you regard as valid evidence?

  50. Return of Tofu

    “Bingo. If you deny that any evidence I or Chris or anyone else offers is not admissable in your “court of inquiry” what am I/we/theists to do? I offer, and you label and dismiss. I offer again, you label and dismiss. I offer yet again, you label and dismiss.”

    Your arguments fail as evidence because they fail to take into account possible explanations that do not involve a deity. They’re nearly all god of the gaps arguments, and you have yet to show why they should be considered as good evidence.

    “I get this sense that it’s not so much the love of the truth that’s the objective; it’s the challenge of shooting down anything and everything that weakens my prior held assumption – that God doesn’t exist.”

    I’m here because I want you to rip apart my arguments. Destroy them! I want to know why people believe in god (a belief I’ve never had), but what I find continually baffles me. Few of your arguments are remotely convincing.

  51. Do you sincerely want to know why people believe in God? I think you already know why.

    1. They understand that there must have been a first cause. Effects don’t exist without one. Examination of the effects points to a cause that is intelligent, personal, powerful, etc.

    2. They observe design that cannot readily be explained by anything they know inside the universe.

    3. They observe the existence of moral standards and posit that there must be an objective moral standard by which human standards are judged.

    4. They accept the Biblical revelation of God as valid and reliable.

    5. They have had personal experiences and/or a personal relationship with God.

    I would suggest that you are being disingenuous when you suggest that you do not know the reasons why people believe in God.

    To the statement “Few of your arguments are remotely convincing,” you should add “to me.” Millions of quite intelligent people have found them more than sufficient. (Before you point this out as a logical fallacy, I am not appealing to public opinion as a measure of truth. I’m merely pointing out that your statement was too generalized.)

  52. Return of Tofu

    “On what basis? The common consent of society? More people in American society believe that God exists than that He doesn’t. Does that make His existence therefore true, until opinion changes?”

    Based on my knowledge that mass genocide does not create a strong and healthy society in which people want to live.

    Since morality is a system and a concept rather than an actual thing, your analogy of belief in god doesn’t quite work. Morality is the way we describe good/bad behaviour based on the results it leads to, but it is not a tangible object or substance that exists outside of our minds, unlike most claims of god.

    Think of it as the rules of a sport. The rules are not themselves actual “things” but merely descriptions of how the various things in the sport operate. The only reason the rules have meaning is that people subscribe to them. This doesn’t mean that a tree is not a tree if enough people believe it’s not a tree.

    When you break the rules of a sport, the game ceases to function and no one gets to enjoy it.

    I don’t know if this post is even particularly coherent, but hopefully that helps get my idea across.

  53. I’m not sure I completely understand your point, but I’ll try to restrict myself to an example from morality, which was my main point anyhow.

    “Atheists don’t actually believe god did any of this stuff, but if he did it would be objectionable.”

    Objectionable from whose point of view? Does society at large consider God’s actions immoral? If so, on what basis?

  54. Return of Tofu

    “Has someone on this blog claimed that? What does “have morality” mean?”

    There was a post a while back about how “without god, all is permissible.” It failed to take into account that humans are social beings and we’d all be way worse off without morality.

    Having morality is simply being able to function in a constructive way within society.

    “What would you regard as valid evidence?”

    Some sort of miracle or supernatural event that could be independently verified. It would also have to be shown to be the work of whatever specific deity you wanted to claim existed, with no other plausible explanations. Any of the miraculous events god causes in the Old Testament would probably work, or an appearance of god himself.

  55. I’ll let Joey defend that first statement since he was the one who made it. I would agree with you that non-religious people can “function in a constructive way within society,” although they will always also behave selfishly at times, just as religious people often do.

    “Some sort of miracle or supernatural event that could be independently verified.”

    “Independent” meaning what? That a cynic was convinced? I don’t think you’d have trouble finding numerous examples of that.

    “It would also have to be shown to be the work of whatever specific deity you wanted to claim existed, with no other plausible explanations.”

    I would suggest that this is setting the bar too high. There are multiple “plausible explanations” for many things that we have excellent scientific or historic evidence for. The proliferation of conspiracy theories shows that “plausible” does not equate to “accurate.” You’re a smart guy; I’m sure you would have no trouble coming up with an explanation for any miracle that is plausible to you, whether or not it was plausible to me or anyone else.

  56. Return of Tofu

    “1. They understand that there must have been a first cause. Effects don’t exist without one. Examination of the effects points to a cause that is intelligent, personal, powerful, etc.”

    Except that theism doesn’t account for the cause of god. I’d also challenge your assertion that the evidence points to a personal/intelligent cause of the universe. Why you feel this “first cause” must necessarily be the specific deity of your choice is beyond me.

    2. They observe design that cannot readily be explained by anything they know inside the universe.

    And since it’s not explained (yet), god did it. Is that right?

    3. They observe the existence of moral standards and posit that there must be an objective moral standard by which human standards are judged.

    And since they don’t know where moral standards come from, they conclude that it’s the god of their choice. See what I mean about arguments from ignorance?

    4. They accept the Biblical revelation of God as valid and reliable.

    And I can’t see why. The claims of the Bible are quite extraordinary, and believing in them without further, independent evidence just doesn’t work for me.

    5. They have had personal experiences and/or a personal relationship with God.

    Which are very convincing to the person in question I’m sure, but you can see why they’re worthless as evidence, can’t you?

    And yes, you are correct that I should have added “convincing to me.” However, I’ve attempted to explain why I do not find them convincing, and Joey has yet to actually address these specific points, opting instead to paint broad generalizations of atheists as a whole.

  57. Return of Tofu

    “Objectionable from whose point of view? Does society at large consider God’s actions immoral? If so, on what basis?”

    Society at large does consider certain actions immoral. This judgment is based on the consequences of those actions. Moral actions increase happiness and prosperity. Immoral actions are destructive to society. A moral society is one in which people would want to live and in which happiness is maximized.

    I have a question for you: By what standard would you consider god’s actions to be “good?” The Euthyphro dilemma has been brought up a few times on this blog and I’d be interested in how you answer it.

  58. Return of Tofu

    Whew, lots of questions to answer. I’m having trouble keeping up. I’m finding the discussion to be interesting though, so please continue.

    ““Independent” meaning what? That a cynic was convinced? I don’t think you’d have trouble finding numerous examples of that.”

    I’ll try to explain this better… As an example, let’s suppose that two groups of people, at opposite ends of the world, with no contact between them, both performed a study on prayer. If both groups found that a specific prayer (say, invoking the name of Odin) could restore lost limbs or something, and they came to this conclusion independently of one another, that would be great evidence of the power of prayer.

    Hope that helps?

    “I would suggest that this is setting the bar too high. There are multiple “plausible explanations” for many things that we have excellent scientific or historic evidence for. The proliferation of conspiracy theories shows that “plausible” does not equate to “accurate.” ”

    Perhaps plausible is not the correct word. What I mean is that it would have to be shown that the interference of a deity was the most likely or most reasonable explanation for a given phenomenon/event/whathaveyou.

  59. My point was not to argue those five proofs for the existence of God, although we could do that. We would be unlikely to gain ground, however, since more intelligent folks than you and I have been debating those proofs for centuries. My goal was to challenge your assertion that you only want to learn why people believe in God. I gave you five reasons people believe in God. You may not find them sufficient reasons, but they are the reasons nonetheless. So, what of these millions of theists? Are they all ignorant boobs who should bow to your superior logic? Are they deluded and only waiting for the grand unveiling of the glorious mystery of atheism? Frankly, many intelligent people have weighed the claims of atheism and found them wanting, just as many have also rejected theism. It seems unlikely that there is a hard-bound, irrefutable case for either position.

    I’ve also responded to the “Euthyphro dilemma” ad nauseum on another post. Again, I know that I have not answered it to your satisfaction, but I have answered it to mine.

  60. “It would have to be shown that the interference of a deity was the most likely or most reasonable explanation for a given phenomenon/event/whathaveyou.”

    But I could never meet this standard of evidence if you begin with the presumption of the non-existence of God. If you rule the existence of God out of the picture, some other explanation will, of necessity, be a more likely explanation.

  61. Return of Tofu

    “My goal was to challenge your assertion that you only want to learn why people believe in God. I gave you five reasons people believe in God. You may not find them sufficient reasons, but they are the reasons nonetheless.”

    It feels to me as though I’m missing something. I see all these people who believe in god, and when I investigate I find reasons that don’t seem remotely compelling to me. I feel as though there must be some other reason, some evidence that I’m missing- what’s been presented to me just doesn’t seem like enough to believe in the extraordinary claims put forth by theists.

    Trust me when I say that, if there is a god, I want to know about it.

  62. Return of Tofu

    “If you rule the existence of God out of the picture, some other explanation will, of necessity, be a more likely explanation.”

    It would be pretty hard to rule out the existence of god, if, every time you invoked the name of Jesus, a figure with pierced hands and side appeared and healed the wounds of all Christians within a mile radius, reminding everyone to read and follow the Bible.

    Extreme example? Yes. But there’d be no way to claim some sort of naturalistic explanation was more likely than a miraculous one.

  63. Okay, so I’m willing to concede that the missing element is faith. (I’m speaking only for myself here, not for Joey, for all theists, or anyone else.) To me, that doesn’t make theism any less rational, but it is why the reasons are compelling enough for me but may not be for you.

    Faith is the answer to your second post, too. If such events took place, there would be little need for faith. Faith is, after all, “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” If you’re really interested, C.S. Lewis’ little book on Miracles is quite helpful and written from a very rational (I think) perspective.

  64. Return of Tofu

    Can you define faith for me? Generally I see it as believing in something without substantial evidence for that belief.

    If that’s truly the only thing that makes theistic belief possible, then what differentiates it from belief in fortune telling or ghosts or literally any other belief you care to put forward? Why should I have faith in the existence of god, but not in any of these things?

  65. I guess I would define faith as a decision to trust.

    I choose to trust in God rather than to trust in fortune-telling or ghosts or anything else because His track record is so much better than theirs. I’m pretty sure I already know the questions that you’re going to ask, and I can tell you in advance that I have pretty much addressed those questions to the utmost of my ability.

  66. Return of Tofu

    I’d still be interested in your answers, if you’re willing to respond (if you’re not, that’s cool too).

    How did you arrive at your trust in god? I trust that the sun will rise each day, because it’s an observable event that happens in a predictable way each time. I trust that a chair will hold me up because I have experience with the properties of solid objects.

    Furthermore, these things can be repeatedly tested and measured, and their properties can be independently verified. I can’t see how you can say the same for an immaterial being who refuses to show itself.

  67. Like many people, I had somewhat of a default faith in God based on my upbringing. As I got older and more well-read, I did a lot of thinking about what had been written on both sides of the theism issue. I won’t deny that I approached the topic with a bias, but I really felt that the weight of the evidence pointed to the existence of (at least) a Creator.

    I understand your frustration with the fact that God will not conform Himself to your standards of evidence and logic. If He did, however, I’m not sure it would be enough. I believe that God has already revealed Himself in countless ways, but that those without faith are blinded to that revelation. St. Paul says it this way, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools.”

    Jesus told a parable about a rich man and a beggar. The beggar went to heaven, and the rich man went to hell. The rich man begs God to let the beggar go back to earth to warn the rich man’s brothers about their fate. God tells the rich man, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.” And He was absolutely right. Two thousand years ago, Jesus rose from the dead to validate His claim to be the Son of God, and people still are not persuaded.

  68. Return of Tofu

    “I understand your frustration with the fact that God will not conform Himself to your standards of evidence and logic.”

    My standards? I’m attempting to use the same standards of evidence that have allowed us to understand our environment to the extent we have, and to create technology that consistently works. What standard do you suggest we use?

    We could go back and forth accusing each other of preconceived notions and close-mindedness, but that’s hardly conducive to debate and understanding.

    You’ve made a claim, I’ve explained why I find that claim to be unconvincing. What should happen now is that you should point out flaws in my arguments, and show why your evidence is valid.

    This all started when I pointed out that the arguments from morality/design/first cause are all god of the gaps arguments. No one on this blog has yet shown why this is not so.

  69. It’s not a single piece of evidence that will convince anybody against their will, no matter how great that piece of evidence may be. Other explanations will always exist to explain things, especially one-time phenomena. The key here is how are things stacking up. When the weight of evidence is considered, evaluated, scrutinized, where does it leave us.

    What you find in Christian Theism is a comprehensive case that has been built using multiple pieces of evidence; theological, historical, epistemological, existential, anthropological, cosmological and the experiential.

    When you run other theories and explanations of life, regarding God, meaning, justice, forgiveness, mercy, goodness, truth, etc… through that grid, there will be one worldview that remains standing, left to answer the deeper questions of life, a worldview that eventually resolves suffering, that defines purpose, that shows how love and mercy converge together with truth and justice, in only the one place in history where it could be found – the Cross of Christ.

    The cross of Christ, the only place where love and justice, truth and grace converge – making it a theological reality (God provides his own solution to a spiritual dilemma – loving humanity, while being faithful to His perfect justince/holiness), a historical reality (God’s voice has been heard in human history – you’re not alone on that planet, I submeresed myself in your anguish), an epistemological reality (We know things by experience, revelation and science – all phenomenon evidenced at the time of crucifixion), an existential reality (You could touch God in flesh appearing), an anthropological reality (The complexity of a human being has no naturalistic explanation and our humanity was authenticated, with actual drops of blood), a cosmological reality (The universe is just-right in so many ways to sustain life on planet earth and the immensity of space freshly stuns mankind with the reality that we are not alone in this Cosmos nor on this planet – God reached us in the Cross), an experiential reality (When a human being acknowledges the existence of God, places their total trust in what He himself has done to repair a broken relationship with a creation in moral revolt, a kind of reconciliation happens – the One whom we so long battled against, now completes us, enlightens us, shows to us a new perspective, and begins to set us free from Meism).

    The question is “How are things stacking up?” After the evidence has been presented, what is the “jury” inclined to believe.

    The smurfs don’t explain it. Odin can’t touch it. Bigfoot hasn’t a clue. The fairy doesn’t have this kind of reality attached to it.

    And that love story thing… I can’t escape it. That God would lay aside the independent use of his deific attributes, become a man, but not just any man; a born as a slave kind of man. Would live a very real life, for a full 33 years, without one sin, and then offer himself on behalf of others, and in so doing, turn death itself backwards, and restore all creation to what was intended eons ago.

    God hangs on to a fallen planet in Christ. This may be offensive to you; it is to many people, that is, until they come to the Cross. All of my reality converges in that point. He is all my reasons, my greatest argument, and yours.

  70. Son of Tofu

    This all started when I pointed out that the arguments from morality/design/first cause are all god of the gaps arguments. No one on this blog has yet shown why this is not so.

  71. Return of Tofu

    Joey, you state that the weight of evidence points overwhelmingly to your god. But in earlier posts you said that he is hidden so as not to impinge on human free will.

    Either his existence is obvious and people must fool themselves into not believing, or it is not obvious and you run into the problem of people going to Hell because of a lack of information (ie. not a choice). You can’t have it both ways.

  72. If the “gaps argument” assumption is true – that all evidence for the existence of God is a “gaps argument” and science will fill in the gap in time, then science should be eliminating the gap, and explaining away more and more why Intelligent Design or First Cause is merely a “gap argument.” But we have just the opposite: the more scientific data that comes in is simply pointing to the greater probability that our universe was made by a Designer. Science should make the gap smaller, but instead, it’s becoming wider. The evidence for design is increasing all the time.

  73. Return of Tofu

    I didn’t say that all arguments for god were god of the gaps, just that most of the ones you presented were.

    I don’t see how knew discoveries have pointed towards a designer. Perhaps you could give some examples?

    We used to think that lightning was thrown by gods from the mountains, and that the sun was a deity’s chariot. The space for supernatural explanations is shrinking, not growing.

  74. Return of Tofu

    *new discoveries, not “knew.”

  75. DNA.

    And what argument(s) for theism would you consider not to be a god of the gaps argument?

  76. How does DNA point to a creator, exactly?

  77. sumpteretc

    “How does DNA point to a creator, exactly?”

    To quote one of the discoverers of the genetic code, the late Francis Crick: “An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going.”

  78. I see nothing in that statement which points to a creator being at all. He even states ‘almost a miracle’ as opposed to ‘must be a miracle’.

    But if I understanding where you’re coming from, and I am ready to be corrected on this, then this line of argument is just a form of an argument from incredulity?

  79. sumpteretc

    I’m sorry. I assumed you knew some of the background detail. Francis Crick was an agnostic, and for him to make even this admission, was a bit earth-shattering. What Crick had noticed and other geneticists and biophysicists have asserted is that DNA is not only an example of irreducible complexity but so amazingly improbable that the argument for an intelligence behind it is greatly bolstered. We have evidence of some beneficial genetic mutations but we have no evidence of any mutation that adds information to the genetic code.

  80. … You have done no independent research have you?

    *sigh* Here we go, then.

    Crick’s statement, once again, proves nothing since:
    a) He said ‘almost’ not ‘was’.
    b) His statement was opinion and not scientific record.
    c) His work is rather old by today’s standards. Many more advances have been made in the study of DNA.

    No example of irreducible complexity (no, not the eye, not the flagellum, so please don’t even waste time with those ones) has been found, including DNA. Where ever you got that idea from confounds me at this point in time.

    we have no evidence of any mutation that adds information to the genetic code

    And that’s the phrase that suggests you have done little to no research.

    This is a long debunked claim which continues to persist despite large amounts of research which clearly indicates the opposite. Mutations can, and have been observed, to add genetic information. Examples of this include research performed by Lang (2000), Zhang (2002), Brown (1998).

    Suggested reading for an example of an experiment/research which saw additional genetic information added can be read here: http://mbe.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/15/8/931.pdf

  81. Francis Crick is the co-discoverer of DNA. He knows what he’s talking about.

    If there really is a Designer in the world, then his fingerprints are going to be all over the cell. This is not as “incredulous” as you think.

    Instead of closing the gap; the gap is becoming wider with new DNA info discoveries. The “God of the gaps” argument is gapped itself. It collapses under it’s own inablity to close the gap you say it should be closing. In addition, when the evolutionist says “We don’t know how this happened, but let’s assume evolution did it.” You’ve just created your own gap.

    One author has shared how that human DNA contains more organized information than the Encycolopedia Britannica. The languge of life is stored within it. The organism accesses the information that it needs from DNA so it can build some of it’s critical components. The DNA stores more information in a smaller space than the most advanced supercomputer on the planet.

    The spontaneous self-assembly of DNA creates a greater gap than a Designer who placed it together. States one author: “300 different proteins, a source of sugars, nucleotides, amino acids, and fatty acids all placed together in working order.”

    Spontaneous self-assembly of DNA? OK, I’m laughing now and the gap just got a whole lot broader. So put to rest this weak “god of gaps” logic. It’s a cop-out.

  82. Francis Crick is the co-discoverer of DNA. He knows what he’s talking about.

    Not necessarily. Since Crick’s work, much more has been discovered and analysed about DNA (as I’ve already stated). It would be, for example, asking the makers of the earliest automobiles for their expertise on cars rather than asking todays car engineers/designers.

    If there really is a Designer in the world, then his fingerprints are going to be all over the cell. This is not as “incredulous” as you think.

    At this point I have to conclude that you don’t actually know what the fallacy known as the ‘argument from incredulity’ actually is.

    Instead of closing the gap; the gap is becoming wider with new DNA info discoveries.

    And your peer reviewed research showing this is where, exactly?

    The “God of the gaps” argument is gapped itself. It collapses under it’s own inablity to close the gap you say it should be closing.

    And here I’m left wondering if you know what the God of the Gaps argument is.

    In addition, when the evolutionist says “We don’t know how this happened, but let’s assume evolution did it.” You’ve just created your own gap.

    Does science know everything? No. It has never claimed to. And no, scientists don’t just assume evolution did it; it has to fit the available evidence even if indirectly.
    And guess what? It does.

    One author has shared how that human DNA contains more organized information than the Encycolopedia Britannica.

    References, lad. Credible references. ‘One author’ is terribly, terribly vague.
    This is also what is labelled an argument from incredulity, regardless.

    You’re also falling for the misconception that the earliest life would be anywhere near as complex in structure as what we have today (and there’s no evidence for that claim). Indeed, there’s evidence to the contrary with experiments by Sievers (2004) showing that self replicators work just fine as a strand of six DNA nucleotoids.

  83. Return of Tofu

    “If there really is a Designer in the world, then his fingerprints are going to be all over the cell. This is not as “incredulous” as you think.”

    So where are his fingerprints then? You sure do state things a lot without backing them up.

    “The “God of the gaps” argument is gapped itself. It collapses under it’s own inablity to close the gap you say it should be closing. In addition, when the evolutionist says “We don’t know how this happened, but let’s assume evolution did it.” You’ve just created your own gap.”

    Uh, maybe you should look up what the god of the gaps argument actually says? Evolution is a credible explanation for one specific phenonmenon- the diversity of life. Scientists don’t just slap evolution into any missing area of knowledge.

    The problem with god is that you can use it to “explain” anything, but this means that it really explains nothing. Saying “god did it” brings us no closer to understanding of the universe we inhabit.

    The god of the gaps is when you insert your pet explanation into any gap in human knowledge, without any positive evidence for that explanation. The “size” of the gap has nothing to do with anything.

    “One author has shared how that human DNA contains more organized information than the Encycolopedia Britannica. The languge of life is stored within it. The organism accesses the information that it needs from DNA so it can build some of it’s critical components. The DNA stores more information in a smaller space than the most advanced supercomputer on the planet.”

    Ever heard of emergence? Just because something is complicated doesn’t mean it was conciously designed.

    Also, you’re positing a more complicated being than the phenomena you’re trying to explain, which leaves us with the question of who designed god.

    “Spontaneous self-assembly of DNA? OK, I’m laughing now and the gap just got a whole lot broader. So put to rest this weak “god of gaps” logic. It’s a cop-out.”

    No one said it was “spontaneous self-assembly.” If DNA evolved, it happened over large periods of time, in incremental steps, guided by natural processes.

  84. If I am a scientist and I don’t want there to be anything beyond nature, then I am not going to see the fingerprints of design. Crick saw it, but was so taken back by it that he suggested that aliens placed life on this planet. Something intelligent had to be behind it. Darwin thought the cell was extremely simple. If he only knew, perhaps Darwinism could have taken a different path; in fact, we wouldn’t have Darwinism at all. The cell bristles with life and high-tech molecular machinery is at work there.

    Each cell is like a miniature factory town, humming with power plants, automated plants, and recycling centers. The nucleus houses the cellular library, where blueprints are copied and sent to the factories. These manufacture the immense array of products needed within the cell, with the processes all regulated by enzymes that function like stopwatches to ensure that everything is perfectly timed. The outside surface of the cell is regulated with sensors, gates, pumps that regulate traffic coming in and out. It’s like a complex train system where things are so precisely timed, that no crashes happen (Behe, summarized by Nancy Pearcey). Darwin never saw any of this.

    Does Design best explain what we see in DNA? When you see written language (encoded instructions), you can infer intelligent cause. Nature doesn’t assemble language like this. If you’re walking on the beach and you see written in the sand, just three simple words (much less a Brittanica volume) “I love you” you have to conclude that the waves, seaweed, or drift wood couldn’t have done it, even after millions of years. Nature does not author language; it cannot write a book or program a computer. And if there is all this genetic code, then Someone wrote it.

    Even though you appeal to time, billions of years perhaps, the longer the time, the more improbable the incremental steps become in producing a highly specified DNA.

    If you drop red, white, and blue confetti out of an airplane at 1,000 feet, it’s probably not going to form an American flag by the time it lands on your lawn. Ah, but Tofu says, “Why don’t you go up another 30,000 feet and then drop the confetti. All the confetti needed was more time. (All the DNA needed was more time.)

    No, no. The additional time makes your case worse, for this gives more time for natural laws to do what they do best – disorder and randomize (that is, when intelligent forces do not act upon things). Time is not your best argument. In my opinion, it is weak. The burden of the gap is on your shoulders, not theists. Science only affirms what theists have been saying all along. There is Designer.

    Atheism is not a conclusion; it is the hidden premise that will not allow you to see the fingerprints, so obvious to everyone else.

  85. If I am a scientist and I don’t want there to be anything beyond nature, then I am not going to see the fingerprints of design.

    That sound suspiciously like the intellectually bankrupt idea that “you can believe only if you want to believe”. Not an argument.

    Crick saw it, but was so taken back by it that he suggested that aliens placed life on this planet.

    So? It is not an idea that has any evidence to support it at this time. On the other hand, it does have a greater chance of being true than labelling the results to some sort of supernatural being.
    Why?
    We know biological life in the Universe is possible. We have us as proof for that. Therefore we can assume that if we exist then it is possible that it might exist elsewhere in the Universe (no, there is no evidence for this but we’re not speaking of tangible evidence – we’re speaking of the likelihood of possibilities).
    On the other hand, we have no evidence for supernatural entities in the least.
    Therefore the only logical conclusion is that extra-terrestrial life is more likely (at this time) than a supernatural deity existing.

    Something intelligent had to be behind it. Darwin thought the cell was extremely simple.

    Both men were products of their time and limited by the technology they had access to. Since both Cricks and Darwin, a lot more about cell structure and how it is formed has been found out.
    Therefore trying to use them as references to how cells are formed is … outdated to say the least.

    It’s like a complex train system where things are so precisely timed, that no crashes happen (Behe, summarized by Nancy Pearcey).

    And your point is? Are you still trying to go with the line “It’s so complex it must have been designed!”? If so, that is still an argument from incredulity and holds no weight in the least.
    It is also an argument that has already been refuted since it utterly fails to take into consideration that the first cell structures would have been incredibly simpler than those we see today.

    Does Design best explain what we see in DNA?

    No. Science has shown this. Your text that follows seems to be a quick rewriting of the Watchmaker Argument which, frankly, is quite silly and your argument fails for the same exact reasons Paley’s Watchmaker one does.

    Then you go on to make a rewritten form of the logically bizarre Tornado in a Junkyard argument. Again, it fails for the same exact reasons. In short, it attributes characteristics to things which you should not. It is also a gross misunderstanding of the evolutionary process since evolution certainly does not make complex things first or spontaneously.

    No, no. The additional time makes your case worse, for this gives more time for natural laws to do what they do best – disorder and randomize

    Is this some sort of appeal to the Second Law of Thermodynamics?

    Science only affirms what theists have been saying all along. There is Designer.

    It is odd, then, that the scientific community (you know, those people that actually do science) disagree with you.

  86. Return of Tofu

    Once again you display a total lack of understanding of evolution.

    Your analogies fail completely, because neither sand nor confetti self replicates and is subject to natural selection.

    The confetti one would make sense if you dropped the confetti multiple times, and each time glued down the ones that were in the right space but… no it’s still a terrible analogy.

    You’re still just saying “DNA is complicated” over and over again, without actually attempting to justify your designer theory. We know that DNA is complicated.

    If the “fingerprints” of the designer are everywhere, perhaps you could point out a few.

    Joey, I’m curious. Can you explain to me what the claims of evolutionary theory actually are?

  87. Using Dembski’s “Explanatory Filter” , does chance, law, or design best explain the sequence of the chemical “letter” and “language” in DNA? Is it a random event? Then we attribute it to chance. Does it occur in some repeated pattern? Then we attribute it to natural law. Is it a complex, specified pattern? Then, we see intelligent design.

    Chance events tend to scramble information. If any processes yielded a short chain of molecules by chance, the same chance process would go on and insert “typo’s” into the chemical text. Every time a chance process yielded an intelligible “word”, other chance processes would randomly insert new letters into the “code” such that the code would break down, not get more advanced. Think entropy here.

    Nature does what is repeatable. When the DNA “word” is being written it follows the same pattern. Everytime you have a T it’s followed by O then by F and then by U. Every time you had a “word” (chemical compound) that started with T, it would follow this pattern over and over again, Tofu, Tofu, Tofu. Obviously, you would be limited to relatively few words that begin with T and you could NOT convey very much information. If the chemical “letters” followed the same law or formula, they would line up into only a few repeated patterns.

    Intelligent design understands that there are no laws of chemical attraction and repulsion that cause the DNA “letters” to link in a particular pattern. Natural law can explain how one chemical can stick to another, but it can’t explain how the letters are sequenced. Take magnetic letters that kids stick on the refrigerator. Magnetic force is certainly a natural law at work, but it cannot explain how the letters are sequenced to spell “God loves Tofu.” Thus we must conclude an intelligent designer spelled it out. When you see a language, a message, in a certain sequence, just like the letters I’m typing now in this comment, it is a specified complexity. Each letter is specified one by one. The reason the alphabet works so well is that it does not follow rules or formulas or laws. Neither does DNA as a “language.” Science can explain how the “words” come together, but it cannot explain how the words are coded into a language.

    Evolution, when stripped to it’s “nucleus”, claims taht science should be restricted to only chance and law. It’s goal is to eliminate intelligent design as an allowable category in science. Darwinists want to show how chance (random mutations) are run through laws (natural selection), and then over time, organisms become better and better adapted until they only “appear” to be designed.

    I assert as do many others that chance and law do NOT mimic design; rather, there is an Intelligent Designer who coded the language.

    Let’s say Tofu is walking in the hills of South Dakota. He crest’s a hill, and suddenly sees the faces of four people carved into the hillside.But they’re not just anyone’s faces; they’re the faced of 4 former US presidents.

    Tofu thinks, “Hmmm. I bet I know what happened. This is a product of chance. There was an explosion nearby, and when the dust cleared, these faces were left behind.”

    “No, no, no Tofu” says Matt. “You’ve got it all wrong. This is a product of natural law. Over the billions of years, the rain, the erosion, the massive lightening strikes – it all impacted the rock and here’s what we have.”

    Then Joey comes along and says, “Guys, let’s think about this. This is the work of Someone who knew what they were doing. Look at these guys. The eyes, nose, mouth, it’s all precisely scripted. Not only that, but these guys are 4 former US presidents. How does natural law know this stuff? How does accidental explosions harmonize the parts into this pattern? It had to be the work of someone who knew what they were doing and carved this monument into the granite. It’s an Intelligent Designer at work.”

    Matt and Tofu reply, “You know, I think you’re right. And that changes everything. Let’s go have lunch.”

  88. Return of Tofu

    Evolution is a combination of random chance with natural selection. It is not purely random.

    When I asked you to explain the claims of evolution, I meant how it is purported to work. Can you explain how evolution is purported to work? I’m beginning to think the answer must be no.

    Your analogies make it seem like you don’t understand the difference between living, self-replicating things and inanimate objects.

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