11-13-17 4:35  •  Off the Charts

11-12-17 5:28  •  Not Him Too!

Trekkie: Oh, no! I just heard to where George Takei has been accused of sexual harassment! I loved that guy so much! Takei says it didn't happen. I don't know whether to believe tha accuser or not.

Maybe it happened when he was drunk. Alcohol can make you drop your inhibitions and can make you forget what happened.

I mean, I admired this man too and hope it's not true, but it's possible it could be true, or close to true, and he just doesn't realize it.

Trekkie: And maybe Scott had a fantasy that over the years he has come to believe actually happened.

Possibly, but does that happen as often as getting wasted?

Trekkie: It is very easy to accuse someone of being drunk at a party 40 years earlier. Be wary of convicting people based on the uncorroborated word of one individual.

I agree that the uncorroborated word of one individual does not rise to the level of evidence required for conviction! I would hardly demand to see legal action against Takei for this.

However, it's possible he went overboard and doesn't remember. I'm not saying he should be "convicted"; I'm saying if alcohol was involved, he could be perfectly honest in his denial, and the other fellow could still be correct.

11-11-17 11:17  •  Standing Your Ground

Granny_Clampet: I'm guessing your answer would be no, you don't have the right to protect yourself. You sound like another wimpy liberal! In fact, I read a lady who said that if someone was breaking into her home, her response would be to quietly go outside and tell the criminals to take whatever they want, she will wait outside until they are done. She had no self-respect at all! You should stand your ground!

This is absolutely the strategy that my husband, a paratrooper who served in elite forces, has taught us. In the event that we feel there is an intruder, we are to use fire drill protocols and leave the house by the nearest exit immediately and meet him at the neighbors.

There is not a single object in this house he values more than us, or that we couldn't replace later. We will not try to protect things at the risk of our lives.

Granny_Clampet: And in the event that intruder, who is more than likely inside your home before you can get your entire family out, decides to kill you and your children, your deaths were meant to be? Most people value the lives of their children over an intruder, but yeah, whatever works for you.

My mom was a police officer and she told me the same thing - if there is a danger in your house, LEAVE.

If you want to believe that a police officer and a special forces military soldier are just wimps, who would rather let criminals kill their family, you can, but you would be incorrect. My people are experts and making the recommendations they think will keep us the safest. They are not trying to protect anyone but us.

Those who do things differently from you don't love their kids less. They are protecting them in ways they believe will work more effectively. You really don't have to think they value killers over their own family. They don't actually.

11-11-17 11:11  •  Spiritual Religious Atheism

Cleverer: I find it impossible to be spiritual but not religious. I just don't see faith-based beliefs extending to soley natural phenomenon.

I think it is possible to be spiritual AND religious as a non-theist. That is what practicing Zen is. There are no supernatural claims. You don't have to believe anything. But when you do the techniques, it can create a feeling internally that feels like peace, bliss, wholeness and connection to the universe. It's not from the gods. It's a neurochemical state. But it is one of the most profound human experiences available, and probably involved in most experiences that people consider "spiritual."

Cleverer: So how do you define "spiritual"? A sense of wholeness and/or oneness?

Great question, thanks for asking. I am using the term in the sense of a "spiritual" or "religious" experience. Wholeness and oneness are one type of this, but there are others. Visions; emotional healing or comfort in grief; a feeling of Presence or visitation; a rush of love, joy and peace washing over you; a sudden flash of ingenious insight. An apprehension of one's place in the universe and the vastness and scope of it all; or, a quiet feeling of coming home.

These are the kinds of feelings that people describe when they are having a "spiritual experience." All these and more can be experienced as part of Zen meditation practice. However in Zen, these are not interpreted as interactions with supernatural beings. In fact, these feelings are not the goal, and can even be considered a distraction. On reporting a psyechedelic, out-of-body, one-with-space-and-time experience to a Zen master, he might tell the student, "Sounds fun, but don't lose focus."

SusieDerkins: That’s not true spirituality.

There is nothing untrue about what I experience. I am not making any unverified claims about the source. I am describing what it feels like, and what can be verified about it, such as the changes in neurochemistry. It may not be true "spirituality" but it is certainly true, and that is far more important.

SusieDerkins: They are not experiencing anything outside of themselves.

I am permeable. There is no inside/outside. We are patterns of density in a less-dense atmosphere.

11-07-17 7:11  •  Epistemic Crisis II

Athena: Hi, I'm an atheist, ask me anything!

Bettina: Why are you atheists always going on about atheism?! We have freedom of religion in this country and it's my right to believe what I want!

What people usually do not care to discuss is why non-theism is important.

• America's Epistemic Crisis

It's time to trim in the distance between what we are claiming about reality and how reality is.

Bettina: Why do atheists belittle, make fun of, and/or disrespect Christians, calling them either crazy or stupid for believing in God? I've never encountered an atheist that didn't think this way.

I think it is possible to challenge Christianity without being rude. I think it's important to challenge Christianity, because it is the most influential thought system in our culture, but it is very problematic. I think it's possible to discuss the problems of Christianity in a civil manner.

But, I find that Christians are rarely willing to discuss the problems of Christianity. And, no Christian feels accountable for what Christianity says, so no person is accountable for it. So the problems remain and are not discussed or owned.

I hope you can see why atheists want to discuss this with Christians. If you are willing to discuss it, I am polite and civil.

Bettina: Do you feel that way about Islam or Judaism, or is it only important to you that Christians are "challenged" about their faith?

Great question! It is important to challenge all unverified claims of truth, and the Abrahamic Faiths are all in the same boat in this regard. I would be happy to speak with Muslims or Jews about these same questions, or Hindus for example, and I have many times in the past. However, since Christianity is the dominant religion in my culture, it affects me the most, and I meet more Christians than any other denomination. That is why I usually talk about Christianity.

Hello there Bettina, so nice to speak with you on such an important topic! Thanks for your post.

Bettina: What you don't understand is that for Christians, when we were emotionally and spiritually moved to be saved, it was a very deep and profound feeling of peace, comfort, and joy that washed over us. As we've went forward in life as Christians, prayed for support, peace, and comfort in bad times and actually felt it, or prayed for help with problems and things have worked out, it has cemented these deep profound feelings.

I do understand deep and profound feelings of peace, comfort and joy. Did you know that not only Christians feel these things? Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, even non-theists experience these feelings too. I consider these feelings among the most important that humans can experience. Creating these feelings is a primary goal of most religions. It is a vital and important aspect of human existence.

However, these feelings have nothing to do with Christianity in particular. Any religion will work to create them, and there are non-religious methods for creating them also.

Bettina: We have an unwavering conviction based upon feelings so deep we can't describe them.

Yes, Muslims and Hindus get this too. Really has nothing to do with Christianity.

Bettina: I do realize that there are some issues with Christianity, but I don't have all the answers to life, and neither do atheists.

I don't think you have to have all the answers in life in order to discuss the issues with Christianity. In fact, waiting until then would be a good way to avoid ever addressing it. So why wait?

Bettina: Atheists trying to question Christianity are basically trying to compare faith and what they see as facts, and that is the ultimate apples vs oranges debate.

That is why I like to compare Christianity to Islam and Hinduism instead. As in, how can Christians tell that Christianity is right and Islam and Hinduism are wrong?

Bettina: Bottom line is that I will freely admit there are some issues with Christianity, but I can't answer them all for everyone in the world, and I have to do what I feel is right for ME, and I believe there's a point where atheists should just stop their questioning and respect our deep faith. Is that too much to ask?

Of course it is too much to ask people to stop questioning. There is theology on my money, odes to gods in my national pledge. Christianity dominates my culture. I am required to live with laws enacted by Christians for Christian reasons. Is it too much to ask for someone to explain "Why Christianity?"

Bettina: Here's a question that atheists always dodge. If you truly believe that there is no God at all, totally a figment of some's imaginations, then why does "In God We Trust" on money bother you so deeply?

It is a symptom of widespread unreason in my society.

Bettina: It may as well say In Godzilla We Trust.

That too would be a symptom of widespread unreason. Would you really live with that and never question "why?"

Bettina: You can't just think to yourself "oh well, I don't believe so I will just ignore it",

We can't ignore the unreason in our society. We have reached epistemic breach.

Bettina: I have to do what's best for ME, and that means Christianity, not Islam or Hinduism. For believers of those religions, that particular belief system was what's best for THEM.

If Christianity is true, then believing in Islam or Hinduism would not be best for anyone, would it? Because then they would fry in hell instead of being saved by faith in Jesus. If they thought it was best for them, they would just be wrong, and pay the price, billions of souls in torment, for all eternity.

That's a pretty big problem. Are you sure we shouldn't try to work this out?

Bettina: I just do what's right for ME and don't worry about solving it for everyone else in the world.

I guess I'm just lucky. What is right for me is trying to find out how to make things better for everyone.

Bettina: That was disrespectful. As to money, how much is "In God We Trust" actually even noticed? Most people would have to look around to find it, and people really only look at bills to see the denomination and count it. With debit cards, how many people even actually handle paper money?

What a way to glorify your God. You should demand it be taken it off the money for that reason alone. Talk about disrespectful!

The point is that it is public policy. It should not be.

The money is just an easy example everyone knows. It is only a symptom. The actual problem is unreason.

Bettina: These atheist "problems" are much ado about nothing.

Unreason is the most pressing problem of our time.

Bettina: Yeah, ISIS, North Korea, and Russia aren't "pressing problems" at all!

Unreason is why ISIS, North Korea and Russia are a problem. In particular, the clash of civilizations between Judaiasm, Christianity and Islam is at the heart of the conflict in the Middle East. As long as we are not using reason, no side has any cause to consider if they might be wrong. The resulting conflict is forever unresolvable.

Bettina: I meant that as far as religion goes, I believe what's best for me, and I give everyone else the room to believe what's best for them. I don't say that I'm right and they're wrong.

Christianity says Christianity is right and they are wrong.

Bettina: You soudn as if you were accusing me of having a self-serving and apathetic view towards humanity in general.

The tenets of Christianity are very cruel and exclusionary. I am not saying anything about you personally.

But please think about this for a moment. If Christianity is true, think of what that means for others. Not only that they will burn in hell for eternity - as if that wasn't bad enough - but that they are fundamentally different from you in some way. You and your fellow Christians have the clear vision or purity of soul or intelligence or whatever to make the right choice and do God's will and avoid hell, while others just don't have what it takes to do what God wants them to do.

While this may be nothing like what you personally think, this is the implication of Christianity. You fly, they fry.

That seems really unfair, and not at all what we would want, right? So why believe it? Why believe the religion that claims it?

Hello again Bettina! This is a very sensitive conversation and it doesn't take place nearly often enough in our society. Thank you so much for being willing to discuss your faith with me. I am in your debt.

Bettina: Of course EVERY religion says they are right and everyone else is wrong. That's the nature of religion.

That is just not true. There are lots of religions that do not insist that every other religion is wrong. For example, Hinduism, Buddhism, and the Hellenistic religions of the ancient Greeks and Romans are all pluralistic. They are all religions that accept that other gods/ religions exist and are of the same kind as one's own. It is NOT inherent to religion to insist that one's own religion is the right or only way to god. It may even be kind of peculiar to the late-stage Abrahamics.

However, even if you were correct and every religion insisted it was the only right one, that is still no excuse for Christians to do so. There is no reason to think this interpretation is correct. Even if every religion did it before, that is no reason for us to KEEP doing it. It is cruel, exclusionary and utterly unverifiable. Why keep thinking this? Just for old time's sake?

We should not be doing this. There is no excuse.

Bettina: AS AN INDIVIDUAL, I support everyone's right to their own religious beliefs.

That is reasonable, but it is a temporal patch for a spiritual crisis. It still leaves you with the conclusion that they will burn in hell for exercising their right to believe something different from what God wants. No gain.

Bettina: I thought that's what atheists wanted, to not have religion forced on people.

I can only speak for myself, and what I want is for our descriptions of reality to be accurate. That is the cure for unreason.

Bettina: Except that as you previously said, you can search for information, and study things, but you cannot KNOW.

If that is the truth, then why claim anything else? We should proudly claim that we do not know! Then, at least we would be telling the truth.

Bettina: Even though as a Christian I can give you no concrete proof of God, you as an atheist can give me no concrete proof there is no God. So, between Christians and atheists, there will never be any total agreement upon what "reality" is.

Whether gods exist or not is the least important question ever. They could exist and be real and Christianity could still be completely wrong about what they are, what they want, who they favor, how much they are involved, what makes a good afterlife, and every single other claim about them.

So why make any claims about the gods, when you know that we know nothing of them? Why bother?

There is plenty that we can know. Plenty we can examine, compare and consense about. Why not start with that as the basis for reality, instead of tribal stories from thousands of years ago that no one can agree on?

Bettina: That's just it. The "cure" here is mutual tolerance and respect. That's what I want.

I agree that this is vital, but it is far from enough. In addition, we need accuracy.

Every person should be respected and treated with civility. However not every IDEA is worthy of respect. Some ideas, such as the idea that non-Christians burn in hell, REALLY SUCK. If it was true it would mean the universe was a torment factory which barely a third escaped. How badly designed is that?

Someone has to point out how much better off the human race would be if most of us did not have this kind of unverifiable belief. I am pointing it out as respectfully as I can.

The cure is respect for the verifiable truth.

Bettina: We are all Children of God, and ARE all fundamentally the same. God loves us all equally. He wants nothing more than for all His Children to come to Him. Anyone can be a Christian. Nothing holds a person back but themselves. All one has to do is believe, pray for Jesus Christ to come into their life and become their savior and forgive them of their sins. That's it! There's not a secret knock on the clubhouse door. New Christians aren't just automatically bestowed with all of this Godly knowledge. It takes Bible study, prayer, fellowship with more experienced Christians, and church attendance to begin to learn about God and how to live as a Christian. It's an ongoing lifelong thing.

That's the story. If it's true, it doesn't speak very well of Muslims and Hindus. They pray to God five times a day or burn insence at shrines, and spend their lives studying a holy book, and somehow still miss the most important thing. Wouldn't it be a big laugh if they were just wasting their whole lives, thinking God is there for them, and then they get to burn in Hell? Yeah, the joke is on them.

Bettina: This is my outlook on Christianity, and really, what most all Christians I've ever heard of having. Mankind is sinful. We can't help it. It's just our nature. But God loved us SO MUCH that he had his son Jesus Christ, to be crucified to save us from our sins, because we can't do it for ourselves. Do you really know the truth of crucifiction? You don't just hang there. With nails through your feet and your wrists (it's not through your hands, it's just depicted that way for some reason - if it were through your hands, the nails would just rip through) you are constantly struggling against one or the other. If you relax your feet to take the stress off them, the nails are ripping your wrists. If you try to tense your feet up to take the stress off your wrists, the nails are ripping your feet. You will hang there like that around the clock for a few days until you die.

Just think, God loves us SO MUCH that he had his son to die like that for us to save us from Hell! The thought of God's love and Jesus' struggle just for little ole me always makes me cry! Add to that the fact that God will never leave you, never forsake you, never stop loving you no matter what, is a constant source of love, acceptance, peace, joy, support, security, and just a shoulder to cry on if you've had a bad day or if you have no one in your life, someone that will always listen and always care, then I can't for the life of me imagine why anyone would NOT want to be a part of that!

And if the Unitarian Universalists are correct, you don't even have to do anything. According to them, God and Jesus are so kind and loving that they automatically confer this on everyone, universally. That sounds even better.

And, according to a new religion that I just made up this minute, right after we die we all get to spend about hundred years on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise before we go to Heaven, seeking out new life and new civilizations, and boldly going where no disembodied afterlife being had gone before. Even better yet!

Unfortunately, it doesn't get any truer the better you make it sound.

Bettina: I can believe what I want, it's a free country!

Yes, anyone can belive anything in a free country, gods bless America!

Unfortunately, far too many of these discussions get derailed into affirmations of the legal right to believe, and move away from discussing the substance and content of the beliefs themselves. Since the problems are in the substance and details, not the rights, it's kind of a red herring.

Bettina: You don't want God on the money, you should try putting it up for a vote! Your idea would go down in flames as I bet most Americans disagree with you.

Imagine what would happen if you put separation of church and state up for a vote. What do you think would happen?

Bettina: There's no need to put up a vote on separation of church and state. We already have it.

Yes, but imagine what would happen if we did put up a vote. There is no guarantee that a majority would vote to maintain it. This is a Christian majority nation; on a referendum, it could conceivably be voted out. Yet, we have to maintain separation of church and state even if the majority does NOT want it, because it is the right thing to do. My point: As a secular nation we should remove religious references from the money even if, as you say, the majority would vote to leave it on, because it is the right thing to do. (More importantly, money=symptom.)

Bettina: You said, even if every other religion says they are the only right one, "that is still no excuse for Christians to do so." So it's okay for every other religion to say it's the only right one, but not okay for Christianity? There's some unreason for ya!

Sorry, I meant, that is still no excuse for anyone, including Christians, to do so.

Let me be clear, I am only discussing Christianity in particular because it's the main religion of my society and of the person I am speaking to. Much of this applies equally to Islam, Hinduism, etc. Please do not feel that I am calling Christianity "worse."

Bettina: If someone believes in a certain religion then it only makes sense that they would feel that is the right religion for them.

This is an important point. I am not talking about what is "right for them." I am talking about the tenets being correct. As in, when a Hindu says, "If we humans perform the duties of our station, in the next life we will be reincarnated into a higher station," is that true? Is that really what happens? Lots of people may feel that this kind of worship is logical and is the "right religion for them," but is there really a system where souls get recycled and upgraded? When I say right, or correct, or accurate, or true, I don't mean how a person feels about it. I mean, is there a reason to think THE CLAIM is actually true, seperate from any person. People are claiming to have an awful lot of really specific knowledge. You know they don't really know. Don't you think they should tell the truth?

Bettina: I don't know where you're getting the "exclusionary" facet. As I said before, it's VERY easy to become a Christian.

How is a Muslim or a Hindu supposed to know they should become a Christian?

Bettina: Since other religions don't believe the same as Christians, then I don't know why people of other religions would be afraid of things in Christianity happening to them...

I am not talking about other people, I am talking about you. Your spiritual crisis is that YOU think they will burn in hell. That belief is hurting you.


11-01-17 11:07  •  Epistemic Crisis

Nertz2U: What if Mueller proves his case and no one cares? America is facing an epistemic crisis! Check out this article:

• America's Epistemic Crisis

Thanks for the link, Nertz! I started talking about the problems of low epistemic standards in various online discussions over ten years ago. I said, when people believe a lot of stuff that isn't true, it causes a huge gap between what they think and what is really happening. This gap creates a lot of error.

I remember saying this about our invasion of Iraq, where about 80% of the population believed that Saddam Hussein had WMD or was responsible for 9/11 or both. Back then, I was talking about religion. This is where it has gotten us.

We need to try to be accurate in what we think about reality. It is as easy as checking.

Blowme: Checking with who?

With reality. An epistemic standard means the description of reality is derived from an examination of reality and has been systematically checked to be sure the description matches the reality as accurately as possible.

This is what we should demand from anyone claiming to state a fact about reality. However, reality does not match the supernatural claims of religion. So, we allow that "some" claims don't need to have any correspondence to reality, or can even contradict observable reality, and it's okay to believe those "anyway."

This lowers the standard of accurate correspondence and denies the role of verification. This results in low epistemic standards, or a situation where people do not care about the accuracy of claims, or even understand that accuracy exists and can be checked.

There is a reality. It can be examined. Claims about it should match it and the accuracy should be verifiable by demonstration by any person. That would be a start.

Nertz2U: Checking with what?

As I said, with reality. The reality is what it is. Anyone who wants to know the truth of a claim about reality can look at the reality and see what is the case. Eventually people will do this. Gods can't run the phones.

Nertz2U: When even science and academia are targeted, when a third of the population doesn’t believe there are such things as facts, who is the authority to check?

We are coming up against the weakness of that system right now. When the system collapses they will get the hint at the very latest. Hopefully sooner.

As I have been saying for about ten years, this is because of our reverence for supernatural religion. This is the weak thread that tore away and created the epistemic breach. We can and should - and do - continue to make the case for reality, with reality as the demonstration. At least two-thirds are getting it. That's pretty good.

The distance between what people think about reality, and how reality is, can only be maintained for so long. It collapses when examined. What is, is incontrovertible.

Blowme: If you don't know who just say that

Why do you think it is a who?

07-31-17 9:07  •  Limits of Religion

SusieDerkins: In my humble opinion, science actually CONFIRMS that there is a GOD!

How can that be a matter of opinion?

SusieDerkins: I have stated my opinion. I may not understand your comment. Can you clarify?

Hi there Susie, thanks so much for speaking with me! I am happy to clarify.

What science confirms is not a matter of opinion. You can have opinions about what the science suggests, but not about what it confirms, because confirmation is a matter of verifiable accuracy.

That said, I would certainly be willing to entertain the idea that science has confirmed, or suggests, that "there is a God." In fact I am extremely curious as to what you are referring to. What is the 'science' in question? What operative definition of 'there is a God' are you using? Please let me know if you are willing to discuss, thanks!

FineWine: she looks at the odds of our existence occurring with naturalism alone and decides they're in favor of a creator.

What is the science part?

FineWine: *cut-and-paste definintion of statistics from wikipedia*

What science used what statistics?

SusieDerkins: Science is fact!

Well, no. Science is a system. Facts are one product of the system.

SusieDerkins: And I say that God is a fact!

That's cool, but that is nothing like "science confirming that there is a God."

I am interested in discussing what you think on this issue, but perhaps "science" is not really involved. Unless you can point to a specific, verifiable fact, there is no touch on science.

SusieDerkins: Scientists surmise that the Big Bang came from nothing! No! If there was a Big Bang, it belongs to God. That's MY faith!

I understand that it is your faith. My only point is that science does not seem to be involved.

SusieDerkins: That's why I stated that scientists SURMISED.....:-)

I can't agree that scientists "surmise that the Big Bang came from nothing," for two reasons.

The most recent prominent theoretical framework I am familiar with for the creation of this spacetime is the Ekpyrotic Universe model. It was proposed by Justin Khoury, Burt Ovrut, Paul Steinhardt and Neil Turok in 2001. According to this idea, two gravitationally attracted "branes" struck each other and bounced, providing enough gravitational potential energy to create both the bang and all the subsequent matter and energy in the universe. In this model, the universe is a ripple on these branes like waves across a pond. Key events that shape this universe would have to have occurred before the bounce.

More traditional models suggest, as you mention, that the universe expanded from a singularity, which was affected by quantum fluctuation. Evidence for the existence of the singularity exists in the form of cosmic background radiation, discovered by radio astronomers Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson in 1964. Quantum fluctuation as the cause was proposed as early as 1973 by Edward Tryon, but was not seriously considered until inflationary theory was developed by physicists Alan Guth of M.I.T., Andrei Linde of Stanford, and Paul Steinhardt of Princeton in the 1980s, to explain how all matter and energy could have unfolded into our universe from a particle.

So, Reason One is, "scientists" are not "surmising" any one thing about it. Different scientists have different ideas supported by mainly theoretical mathematical frameworks.

Reason Two is that the theoretial frameworks suggest branes, or a particle, or other physics existing before the Big Bang. Scientists are not suggesting it was "nothing."

Obviously, scientists do no know what happened before the Big Bang, but there is no scientific consensus that it was "nothing." There does seem to have been some kind of physics occurring.

Thanks for the chance to refresh my memory on the latest thinking, it was very invigorating!

FineWine: The Bible is very clear on this.

Ancient people said a lot of things. Why believe some of them?

FineWine: Because thats what we base a lot of history on.

No one is claiming that our story of history is supernaturally derived and therefore magically accurate. It could be wrong and everyone knows it. If a new credible account surfaces, history changes. How is that like your religion?

Allow me to rephrase.

Ancient people made a lot of supernatural claims. Why believe some of them?

SystemSeven: So only some of the Bible is supposed to be taken literally? Is it 50%, 25%, 75%?

Folks need to make up their minds on this one. Is it the divine word of God or not?

The Abrahamic Faiths are in direct contradiction to each other. If one was truly correct and it was possible to tell which, no good person would believe the others. The only way to explain it is to presume that They are blind, stupid or evil compared to Us. How else could They be so deceived about what We can see as clear as day?

The real explanation for why millions of good people believe things in direct contradiction to each other, is that belief does not produce accuracy.

SusieDerkins: Give me one or two instances that the Bible contradicts itself. Please.

I did not say the bible contradicts itself. I said, the Abrahamic Faiths are in direct contradiction to each other. There are many examples. For one thing, the Jewish faith holds that Jesus is not the Messiah and the Christian faith holds that he is. The Muslim faith says that Jesus was a prophet, but not the Son of God, while the Christian faith says he is both.

If one of these is obviously right, why would millions of good people believe the other? What does it say about them, that they are wrong about the most important thing?

Thanks again Susie!

FineWine: You don't understand. For me and many others, our chosen religion rang true and fulfills a void in our heart.

That is not a good reason to claim it's actually true. The ancient people who made up the stories you are choosing did not know any more than the ancient people who made up the stories you are rejecting.

Islam fills a void and rings true in the hearts of Muslims. If Christianity was true, Islam would not ring true and fill the void in the hearts of anyone but evil people, who are blind to or reject The Truth. Since that is not the case, since Muslim people are just people, no blinder, stupider or more evil than we are, obviously there is nothing that makes Christianity more true than Islam.

Since Islam - and any religion, really - make their believers feel they are touching God just like your religion does, there is only one explanation - that the content of the religion doesn't matter at all.

FineWine: we are spiritual and have a yearning for spiritual knowledge.

Of course, I agree 100%! But, there is no reason to think ancient people, who did not understand anything that we understand, somehow knew more about this. What's worse, clinging to a few tribal folktales and claiming they true, and all others are uninformed, is extremely divisive.

It is entirely possible to be spiritual and yearn for spiritual knowledge and fill a void in your heart without any ancient folktales at all. The connection does not come from folktales, or any words.

The words are divisive and full of ancient misunderstanding. It is time to forget them and go directly to the source.


Hello there FineWine, it truly is an honor to speak with you on such an important topic. Thanks so much for being willing to discuss your religion.

FineWine: It actually is a good reason for anyone to make the choice that they do.

No. Choosing to assign truth value to your folktales and false value to their folktales is hurting everyone. All folktales are folktales. Dividing the human race into mutually-exclusive folktale tribes is going to destroy us.

FineWine: I havent bothered with *my* reasons as to why Christianity is true but I have many. one being prophecies fulfilled. another being that I find no contradictions or mistakes that I find in religions like Islam.

That is *exactly* what apologists for Islam say about comparing it to Christianity. Islam is described to be the fulfillment of all previous Abrahamic prophesies. The main claims of Christianity - that God has a Son - are seen to be a complete contradiction of the original Testament. You find truth in yours, and false in theirs; they find truth in theirs and false in yours, and can support it with personal anecdote and scriptural interpretation every bit as good as a Christian's.

And if they couldn't, what would it say about several continents worth of people, that they would settle for a false, contradictory, unfilfilling religion full of mistakes? Why are your standards high and theirs are so low, they'll believe what you reject? What is wrong with them that is different from how you are?

That is what I mean when I say the content makes no difference. Your prophesies are not truer than theirs. Your religion has contradictions that they can see and you can't; their religion has contradictions that you can see and they can't. There is no difference. Each person fills in the fulfillment with faith, no matter what the words.

FineWine: Do YOU feel your truth (atheism) is correct and all others (religions) are false?

As I have explained to you before, I am not an atheist, and I am pro-religion. I think if you would get past this idea that I am somehow promoting atheism, you would understand my position a lot better. To be perfectly clear, I am not concerned with atheism, and I don't think "all religions are false."

I feel I can establish that my position is true because it is made of propositions that you or anyone can confirm to be true yourself. I certainly don't claim to have more verifiable information about gods than any other human being.

FineWine: you're no different from anyone else. you dont know for a fact there is no God. saying so is a statement of faith. and your conclusion is absolutely false.

Since I didn't say that, and since that is not what I am trying to say or imply, I don't think you can yet evaluate my conclusion. I didn't even mention gods. I am interested in your evaluation of my conclusion, but only about what I am actually saying.

FineWine: "the content of a religion doesnt matter at all"- not all religions are equally logical or equally supported.

I agree that not all religions are equally logical or equally supported. In fact, every religion makes a variety of claims, some very well supported, others much less so. However all religions, and even non-religions, can make people feel fulfilled in their hearts, fill the void, speak to their spiritual nature, answer prayer, fulfill prophecy, provide comfort in grief and strength in adversity, etc. People who are Hindu, Islamic, etc. are not wandering around in a spiritual void, wondering why only Christians find God. They are as sure they have found The Divine as you are. The content of their religion doesn't matter - it makes them feel exactly like your religion makes you feel. No difference at all.

FineWine: how can YOU quantify what other people need to fulfill themselves?

Basic observation. I can see that any religion works for fulfillment. People of other religions are NOT less fulfilled than Christians.

FineWine: I find it strange you agree we are spiritual. what do you base this on? what is a "spirit"? how can it be measured by science?

Humans clearly have the capacity for deep, profound feelings of connection and transcendence. Most cultures address this capacity through religion but there are non-religious ways to stimulate this capacity as well. It can be studied by science in everything from brain scans during ecstatic experience to ethnobotanical studies of the vision quest. Absolutely everything humans do and feel can be studied.

But, my position is not "Science!" any more than it is "Atheism!" As I never mentioned gods, I have not mentioned science, either. Please do not look past what I am actually saying. I am only concerned with ordinary truth.

FineWine: why do you think you're superior to our ancestors?

We know more than our ancestors. We have thousands of more years of observation, plus a couple of centuries of intense, methodical, rigorous examination, under our belt, and we have it all written down and circulated for checking and re-checking. We have invented amazing cures and devices to fill our lives with ease and health unknown to any prevous generations. That is the great thing about error correction. It literally gets better with time.

FineWine: they achieved many things we would struggle with today.

No ancient structure holds a candle to the wonder and complexity of your coffee machine, let alone your fully-plumbed, wired and connected house. We could replicate the pyramids - without whips.

FineWine: They built the pyramids and other megaliths, they were extremely knowledgable in astronomy, mathematics and philosophy...

The very smart people who built the pyramids worshipped gods like the sun god Ra, the royal patron Horus, and the mother goddess Isis. If you think they had ancient wisdom far surpassing ours, why don't you take their word for who the gods are? The people who preserved astronomy through the Dark Ages were the Arabs. You praise their astronomical intellect, yet you think they are not smart enough to figure out that their religion is false and full of contradictions and mistakes?

The people who invented mathematics were the ancient Hindus, worshipping gods like Vishnu and Shiva, who are still worshipped today. If you think their ancient wisdom was so wonderful, how could they have been so completely wrong these thousands of years about the gods? And mathematics and philosophy made their greatest strides in the ancient world in the hands of the Greeks, who worshipped gods like Zeus, Athena and Apollo. If those ancients were so smart, why don't you get readings from an oracle today?

The answer is that being smart about math or building monoliths obviously does not make people informed about gods. So there is no reason to credit one little tribe - who, frankly, did not achieve *anything* like the other groups you mentioned - with somehow understanding more about gods than anyone else.

FineWine: why do you value some of what they gave us (algebra) and not other things (religion)?

As I mentioned, I am pro-religion in general. What I do not value are unsubstantiated claims. So why do I value the algebra of the ancient Muslims but not the supernatural claims of the ancient Muslims? Because the algebra is a real system that really works and any human being can check the claims of algebra and ascertain that they really work and do what they say they do. Why do I not value the unsubstantiated claims of Islam, or Chistianity, that you have a fix on the good afterlife? Because no human being can check the claims and there is no way to ascertain that they do what they say they do. They are in direct contradiction, so at least half certainly don't. There is no comparison.

Systems are not made good by the other achievements of who came up with them. Systems are only good if they really work and can be shown to.

FineWine: its interesting you claim having different beleifs is divisive, but you an Atheist are a minority trying to change the beliefs of billions of people. are you not being divisive?

Again, not an atheist. And trying to get people to value the system that works, reason, and the benefits of checking and accuracy, is the furthest thing from divisive. There is one reality and we are all in the same one. When we map it by examination, instead of going by ancient folkmaps, we all end up in the same place. That is uniting, not divisive.

FineWine: Im not trying to denigrate you but I find it bizarre that so many Atheists who pride thmeselves on being "logical" and "objective" are largely driven by emotion and are so far from being objective they cant see how steeped in BELIEF THEY THEMSELVES actually are.

Please take that up with them. Right now, you are talking to me. Examine MY statements. Then we can discuss my actual position, if you are still willing to talk to who I really am, instead of some atheist you despise.

Thanks again for giving me the chance to speak on this topic. My views are constantly evolving but it takes a good post to get them organized. I am in your debt.

07-27-17 2:17  •  Messiah Returns!

NickJr: My dad and i often discuss this. When do you think the Messiah will return? He thinks it may not be for another thousand years, but I think it will happen in our lifetime! I am waiting for Him!

In the meantime, everyone will stand around with their thumbs up their ass while the coral reefs are bleached to death and extreme climate caused by runaway greenhouse effect destroys the human food chain.

NickJr: The stuff you don't like in life is a result of rebellion to Yahweh's laws, statues, and precepts.

Actually, it is partly a result of people following what they claimed were God's precepts - in particular, precepts like "Be fruitful and multiply" and "Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth."

Sure, it was fun for awhile, but it is no longer working. You'd think God would have released a Precepts 2.0 to upgrade the system when it began to approach maximum carrying capacity.

I see no reason to rely on a manual that is clearly out of date from an org that stopped supporting the platform with updates 2000 years ago.

NickJr: We want the same things and when you pray for enlightenment and seek to know the truth of my words you would see this for yourself.

If that was true, then other Christians would be able to verify your claims. Muslims and Jews would be able to see for themselves the truth of your claims about Jesus. Hindus would be able to pray for enlightenment and seek to know the truth and then they would see for themselves that they should be worshipping the God of Abraham.

Except, that is not what happens.

All these great women of faith do pray for enlightenment and seek to know the truth, with all their hearts. But, they cannot "see for themselves" the truth you claim this effort produces. Maybe they are blind, or deceived, or maybe Yahweh is deliberately keeping them at a "different" level from you. But for whatever reason, praying for enlightenment has failed to reveal the most important truth to everyone here - except you of course.

NickJr:If you want this to change join the cause and dedicate your life to Yahweh while you still can.

I can't really muster up much interest in methods that do not produce truth for anyone except you.

I wanted a method to determine truth which works, reliably, for anyone who tries it. That is why I use evidence-based reason. This method works spectacularly for producing truth no matter what you believe. Evidence-based claims can be verified to be accurate by Deb and Styler and Kathy and Collective and Cassandra and Shivasgirl and MyMy...and you. They can be verified by everyone because that is what true means.

Unfortunately, because of the Dark Ages, we employed this method about 2000 years too late.

NickJr: I do believe Deb and Study do agree with me more than you are aware. As far as CC and Cass...etc...We are all alike in our desires and belief in having a Creator and the need and desire to worship and please Him.

Yeah, but since they are not getting the most important thing, the one and only name under heaven by which they can be saved, that's not going to help them much in the long run, is it?

However all of that is entirely beside the point.

The point is, if what you are saying is really the truth, and if it could really be determined by you in the manner you describe, then it could be determined by these people using this method also.

Since almost every human being who has ever lived, except, according to you, a "tiny percentage," is not getting the truth enough to get saved, then clearly your method of determining truth almost never works.

And that's even if you are right.

Since there is no more evidence for your claims about "God" than for anyone else's, it may be that your method never works at all.

07-17-17 12:42  •  Single Payer

BlackBird: You will not see me falling for this 'single-payer' nonsense. No way! You keep saying "it works in other countries," but to me comparing other industrial countries is comparing apples to oranges because we have a unique economic system and that's not comparable to me.

What do you think is unique about our economic system that is incompatible with single payer? Why is it more important to stay "unique" than have effective healthcare for all? What are we getting instead? Is it better?

BlackBird: I don't want government anymore involved in my healthcare than what it is.

How do you feel about the level of involvement of your insurance company? In what way is their involvement superior to 'government' involvement?

BlackBird: I feel great about it! because I can shop around and find another insurance company but you can't when you have the government running your health care.

First of all, half of Americans get health insurance through their employer, and do not get to change insurance companies if they don't like the policies or coverage. Most feel lucky to be employed at all and take what they get. Secondly, when all the insurance companies are all offering expensive, dodgy plans, changing companies doesn't help. Thirdly, great amounts of the money you pay insurance companies go to profits and competition. That does not improve anyone's health and is a burden to the system. Fourth, people in countries like Canada have better health care for less money, and they like their care just fine. Fifth, people in the United States with government health care say they really like their coverage and care too.

According to The Hill, between Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare and the various Federal employee benefits, the U.S. government is already paying for a majority of healthcare anyway. Why not close the loop? People in most of the other OECD countries have hybrid systems, part public and part private, which offer universal coverage, and they are getting more health for each dollar spent than we are. It works. Why not do what works?

BlackBird: To answer your first question, not every industrialized nation has the capitalist economy with a free market.

We don't have a completely capitalist economy or a completely free market in the U.S. either. No one does. What countries are you thinking of? In what way is our economy better than theirs? In what way is it better than effective healthcare for all?

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