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Where Was God?
October 7, 2001 2:49 PM   Subscribe

Where Was God?.......there is nothing else I can say about this.
posted by bunnyfire (147 comments total)

 
Has been a very long sabbatical it seems.
posted by Postroad at 2:50 PM on October 7, 2001


Dear God,

thanks for the cop-out, bitch.

Love,

Margarette.
posted by jcterminal at 2:54 PM on October 7, 2001


"Try praying," my God-fearing friends tell me. So, I pray, although I am not truly comfortable with the slippery language of prayer. Then again, apart from my writing, my music and my nightmares, prayer is really all I have. I don't know what or to whom I was praying to; that is to say, I don't know if something or someone is listening. I don't know if my prayers are directed outward to a god or inward to myself. And by praying, aren't I being a hypocrite? I have never been a terribly pietistic person; the orthodoxy of organized religion with its rules, provincialism, guilt and repression has always caused me to balk. Religion itself has only prevented me from achieving any sort of personal salvation or grace. Besides, just what is religion? A way to explain what can't be explained? Heaven versus worms? At best, you could say I'm an agnostic - an ideology that provided a suitable safety net to catch me from dropping into a nihilist void. "Trust in God," my God-fearing friends continue. Trust in God? Kidding, right? How can I trust in a God whose actions seem to be based mostly on cruelty and perversity? Was it God's will that six million Jews were slaughtered at hands of a madman or that Elvis made his final command performance from a toilet? I'm possessed of the notion that if God does exist that God should be righteously compelled to do the just thing. But maybe God doesn't really care about humanity anymore. After all, God created the universe billions of years ago. That's an awfully long time, and perhaps God has moved on to something else. Or perhaps people are just an experiment that went horribly wrong and was soon abandoned. On the other hand, maybe God has become corrupted by all that supreme power. Which, in a way, makes God seem more personal, less abstract.
posted by ewilder at 3:00 PM on October 7, 2001


I started typing a long theological rebuttal to this tripe, then I erased it. I don't have the energy to argue with those who are so willing to delude themselves and others.
posted by Optamystic at 3:08 PM on October 7, 2001


Optamystic: be kind. everyone needs to try to make sense of this in their own way. in a way that makes sense to *them*.
posted by rebeccablood at 3:13 PM on October 7, 2001


I can understand someone struggling to reconcile recent events with one's faith, but taking the liberty to speak on behalf of God... I'd say that invites a high level of scrutiny of one's views and words.
posted by todds at 3:32 PM on October 7, 2001


well, we CAN salvage this thread by discussing who falls for these sites and why? is the typical american internet user really that peurile? i mean, these things flourish - linky and dinky, funsites, netgrab, etc etc - offering pre-packaged pages oozing gooshy sentiment while belching cheesy midi background sound and sporting design by the downes syndrome institute. most are simply email harvesting mechanisms. mostly i see this crap courtesy of elderly newbies (my webtv parents and thier friends) and non-geek female aquaintences. geek girls seem to know better.
posted by quonsar at 3:39 PM on October 7, 2001


[in deep, commanding, Carl voice:]
"Fetch daddy's hard plastic eyes... so he can see the T.V."
posted by dong_resin at 3:42 PM on October 7, 2001


Optamystic: never let a chance go by.

ewilder:
How can I trust in a God whose actions seem to be based mostly on cruelty and perversity?
Man's actions are sometimes cruel and perverse. Sometimes not. That's the result of the free will God gave them. Don't forget about the glory of Creation, which is one of God's Acts.
Religion itself has only prevented me from achieving any sort of personal salvation or grace.
The key word there is personal, buddy. No one sneaks past God as part of a group. Not a viable excuse.
But maybe God doesn't really care about humanity anymore. After all, God created the universe billions of years ago.
Remember that Christ came only two thousand years ago, and that time is not the same to God as to you or I.

Seriously, maybe you should read a few theological essays, go visit a minister, really make a study of theology before you dismiss it. It doesn't sound like your friends have enough knowledge to guide you. They may have faith, but you need some definite answers. You wouyldn't try to learn about physics or music by asking your friends for their impressions.

On the other hand, my money's on worms.
posted by Catch at 3:46 PM on October 7, 2001


So you're blaming God for the actions of mankind...hmmm...
posted by malmec at 3:46 PM on October 7, 2001


"Fetch daddy's hard plastic eyes... so he can see the T.V."

ah, yes. any discussion concerning God always leads to Space Ghost.
posted by lotsofno at 3:47 PM on October 7, 2001


Where was God? Where he's always been...in the imaginations of frightened, needy people. Nowhere else.

be kind. everyone needs to try to make sense of this in their own way. in a way that makes sense to *them*.

1. "Sense" is sense and applies equally to all. Though each may arrive at it from a different angle, they must still, in the end, arrive at "sense" in order to be judged sensible. It is patronizing to suggest that we should water down (i.e., nullify) "sense" for some individuals because they lack the wit or strength to handle it straight.

2. It is not "kind" to cater to delusion. If someone chooses to participate in a pretend reality, there's not a whole lot we can do about it, but we can certainly avoid nodding and smiling and acting as though they were sane. Truth is more important than feeling good (ideally, both can be achieved together).
posted by rushmc at 3:49 PM on October 7, 2001


There may be a God: you can believe that if you wish. But a loving God? Don't make me puke.
posted by fouff at 3:56 PM on October 7, 2001


Hey look more rationalizations to protect theism and to prove once and for all that bad things are really good things in the big picture. A modern day Aquinas here.

If you choose to believe in some kind of anthropomorphized benevolent god then be prepared to embrace dreck like this to avoid losing your faith or experiencing cognitive dissonance.
posted by skallas at 3:59 PM on October 7, 2001


Rushmc, you are certainly entitled to the opinion that people like me are deluded, but can you prove that it is me and not you that fits that category? really, I don't think either one of us can claim to possess the sum total of all knowledge...and who is to say that reality can only be accessed by the five physical senses?

Just a thought.
posted by bunnyfire at 3:59 PM on October 7, 2001


While it is quite neat and poetic in its own way, on first reading the following I thought that it was so trite and sickly that I assumed I was reading a piss-take:

"In an instant, they came into existence. As you did. In an instant, they left this world. As you will. But beyond that last instant, I kept my promise...A little girl dances, a business woman sings, and a pilot keeps his wings forever."

Upon rereading the whole piece I found that it was just because I find it hard to understand a viewpoint that is so far from my own and lacks the slightest smattering of irony or sarcasm, to boot. While my cynicism sometimes makes me feel guilty for being so doubting I do prefer the feeling of always having my eyes open - earnestness and blind faith seem to go hand in hand and I've got to say that neither of them appeals to me at all.
posted by MUD at 4:14 PM on October 7, 2001


I don't think either one of us can claim to possess the sum total of all knowledge

Sounds like an agnostic statement to me. Conversely how do you know that the religion you chose or just its category is has anything remotely to do with reality? Maybe the real magic is in nature religions, but your theist ways keeps you away from participating.

You can ask the maybe question until the day you die and not come up with an answer. You do bring up the hackneyed transcendental knowledge argument which carries some weight, but at the same time you must take all transcendental claims as being divine knowledge, thus the Heaven's Gate people are just as credible as the Catholic Church because you've taken away the power to test their claims. They can always rebut with 'hey you're just using your normal senses.'

You can disregard reality as we experience it at your own peril. Sadly, there's no mothership behind the comet and there's probably no living god as described by scripture. Lastly, an easy proof for delusion is to see which party decides that the death of 4,000+ people is really a good thing as this link suggests.
posted by skallas at 4:16 PM on October 7, 2001


It's true. Religion and politics are the two things that people argue about the most. Why? You can't change either unless you purchase a small island and start your own world. But how many people would be there but you? Arguing whether there is a God or not is silly; you will be arguing until the end of time. But I think that we should concentrate more on the site linked than who it's supposed to be written by. I know there are going to be people who disagree with me, there always is, and I'd be afraid if no one did, but who could make a site like that? It tears at people's deepest faiths. It makes it seem that what happened was a mere "mistake" on God's plan (and I have yet to realize what his master plan with the world is), and all in all, it was probably someone with too much time on their hands and wanted their voice to be heard. They picked to be God because people would actually listen to them. Sad but true.
posted by Katy Action at 4:19 PM on October 7, 2001


Frankly, if I was a loving and caring god, I wouldn't allow people like Jerry Falwell to claim that secular groups causing the WTC attack.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 4:21 PM on October 7, 2001


Interesting how most if not all of you so far have missed the point of free will vs. determinism(in this case God's determinism......) It was not God that flew those planes into those buildings. It was not God that set into action the plans that murdered all those people including the firefighters and the policemen......why do we insist on blaming Him for man's evil? What if stopping all the evil means He stopped human history right now and just tipped us all into Hell right now with no chance for repentance-because really, that is what we all deserve anyway-if he is going to stop evil he is going to stop all of it. His patience may not look just or fair from our limited perspective but from His we had better be real glad He does things the way He does.
posted by bunnyfire at 4:31 PM on October 7, 2001


Bunny, I thought you were concerned with someone speaking for God, someone who is a good writer, but still isn't God? Saying that God did all those things to and in NYC would be like saying that God did all of man's good deeds too. We all have free will of and from God. He doesn't control us totally. Think about that. God doesn't do all good or evil in the world.
posted by Katy Action at 4:36 PM on October 7, 2001


bunnyfire: why do we insist on blaming Him for man's evil?
Because it is not logically consistent to attribute credit for good in the world to "answered prayers" (or other benevolent godly forces) and not also attribute credit for bad in the world to the same godly forces. You can't argue free will in one case and god's help in another.

What if stopping all the evil means He stopped human history right now and just tipped us all into Hell right now
Some would argue that parts of life on earth are hell right now. That's hell with a lower case "h", as I don't think "Hell" exists.

If you do believe in free will, what is the point of talking about or believing in gods? They seem to be inconsisent beliefs.
posted by hitsman at 4:36 PM on October 7, 2001 [1 favorite]


Katy: God doesn't do all good or evil in the world.
What does he or she do all day then? "Gently-shaping gods" are of obvious little use today.
posted by hitsman at 4:39 PM on October 7, 2001


I'm surprised nobody has taken offense to Bunnyfire's statement (as though of absolute fact) that we all deserve eternal damnation in some mystical netherworld.
posted by Spirit_VW at 4:42 PM on October 7, 2001 [1 favorite]


bunnyfire, the whole free will vs. determinism involves lots of assumptions to even consider. Like god exists, he thinks about tossing people in hell, etc. Rationalize away, but at this point its theology based on the very shaky foundation of a powerful deity that occasionally intervenes to produce followers like yourself.

Also I would like to add that not only did god not cause this but neither did goddess, isis, allah, jerry lewis, zoroaster, and attis.
posted by skallas at 4:46 PM on October 7, 2001


Bunnyfire:
Perhaps "free will" itself is the cruelty of God that people rail against at times like this. There is always that sheep-ish streak of human nature where we would rather have the right decisions made for us.
And man's "free will" doesn't extend to the point where we chose to be created or placed on this earth as God's little cringing puppets. God made up the rules of the game, and you don't get to sit out.
posted by Catch at 4:46 PM on October 7, 2001 [1 favorite]


Nice, but it leaves out the part where all the non-Christians who died in the attacks get Eternal Damnation and miss out on the cradling and cuddling and so forth. At least, unless he's changed his mind drastically since the Bible was written.

I understand the need for solace, but all this warm puppy happiness can't mask the fact that a shitload of people went straight to Hell on Sept. 11, if we're to believe Christianity. And I too am having a hard time wrapping my mind around the page's claim of "free will at work" and the earnest Christian belief in divine intervention through prayer. Why are so many people praying and asking for God's blessing when, if this page is to be trusted, everything that happens is just us dicking around with our free will?

Either God can intervene and, in this case, didn't, or we do it all to ourselves while he sits back and has an iced mocha. Either way, I don't feel very inclined to respect him.
posted by brookedel at 4:49 PM on October 7, 2001


"Katy: God doesn't do all good or evil in the world.
What does he or she do all day then? "Gently-shaping gods" are of obvious little use today."


You missed the key word there: ALL.
I dunno what good/evil that he does do, but by blaming God for this, people are looking for a scapegoat, one that can't talk back and defend themselves.
posted by Katy Action at 4:55 PM on October 7, 2001


i'm surprised nobody has taken offense to Bunnyfire's statement (as though of absolute fact) that we all deserve eternal damnation in some mystical netherworld.

bunnyfire revealed her depth of, well, something via the page she posted. i suppose most people are reluctant to kick her when she's down?
posted by quonsar at 4:56 PM on October 7, 2001


1) God created Man
2) God commanded Man not to sin.
3) God is supposedly omniscient, therefore God knew that man was going to sin.
4) God set the punishment for sin at eternal damnation
5) Man sinned, and brought eternal damnation upon himself and all subsequent generations.
Conclusion:
God is either:
a) Omniscient, but utterly indifferent to the suffering of man
b) Not omniscient, and not much of an inventor at that, since his invention bit him in the Holy Ass ten minutes after it rolled off the assembly line.

Neither scenario is particularly comforting.

If "A" is the case, He is not worthy of my worship, or for that matter my respect. If "B" is the case, he is not God. He's just an intergalactic Goofball.
posted by Optamystic at 5:02 PM on October 7, 2001


I am an athiest, and was just reading bunny's last post. I am not blaming God for making the planes fly into the buildings. However, I submit that God, if he does indeed exist, could have prevented a massive amount of suffering and hurt all over the world. He chose not to.

A loving and caring God chose not to. That's why I don't believe in him.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 5:04 PM on October 7, 2001


Thanks optamystic. You said it better than I ever could.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 5:06 PM on October 7, 2001


God created men, Smith and Wesson made them equal.
posted by bjgeiger at 5:18 PM on October 7, 2001


I don't think either one of us can claim to possess the sum total of all knowledge

Was going to reply to this along the lines that if anyone is claiming to know it all, it is you, through your little magic book, whereas I only claim that what is knowable is knowable through the use of our brains (which is all we got). But skallas said it so well already, I won't bother.
posted by rushmc at 5:22 PM on October 7, 2001


Optamystic: you left out 6: whereby God made a way for man to escape the consequenses of his sin but at IMMENSE cost to Himself -the one catch being each man and woman had to choose for him or herself to take the escape route. Incredibly enough some passed it up-and continue to pass it up to this day.


Oh, and by the way, isn't it interesting that we can all sit around and discuss the Creator of the Universe as if WE could be HIS judge....laughable if it wasn't so scary. Who are we to judge even ONE of HIS actions........can you imagine a bunch of ants on the sidewalk in your front yard debating the morality of whether or not you should have planted tulips where the old ant hill used to be........or funnier yet, can you imagine a bacterial convention debating the existence of research scientists?

We humans think we are something, don't we.........
posted by bunnyfire at 5:29 PM on October 7, 2001


So you believe that it is not for humans to question the order of things that God dictates, bunny? Sounds a lot like some other religious extremists that are around today, doesn't it?
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 5:33 PM on October 7, 2001


Well, yelling, actually, that is what I believe. But I also believe that God is Love, and Love sure as H**l doesn't go around blowing up people.

the two greatest commandments are these. Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. Now if you can figure out how to obey either one of those by the murder of an innocent I would have to say something was dreadfully wrong with you-and the only god you could conceivably be serving would be satan.

So everything depends on the character of the One whom you are obeying.
posted by bunnyfire at 5:47 PM on October 7, 2001


or funnier yet, can you imagine a bacterial convention debating the existence of research scientists?

I find the fact that your opinion of yourself is sufficiently low that you relate to ants and bacteria to be very sad, not funny at all. But low self esteem has long been a factor that religions have counted on and which enables them to gather and fleece their flocks.

We humans think we are something, don't we.........

You bet! Far better to be something than to be nothing.
posted by rushmc at 5:49 PM on October 7, 2001


Don't worry bunnyfire. That's just rushmc being rushmc. You see, whenever a discussion about religion arises, rushmc feels the obligation to point out how silly and stupid religious people are. He has no intention of understanding your point of view. You might say that it is a narrow-minded tenet of his anti-religion religion. He would do well to understand the meaning of the word "bigot." I'm sure he knows what it means when it is applied to religious people.

Hasn't this dead horse been beaten enough?
posted by gazingus at 5:56 PM on October 7, 2001


whereby God made a way for man to escape the consequenses of his sin but at IMMENSE cost to Himself

He set the game up. He created the rules. Any cost he bore, he inflicted upon himself. To disagree with the preceding statement is to imply that there is a higher authority than God who held him to this unpleasant bargain, and who inflicted the unpleasantness upon him. If that's the case, the entity who was able to asess a penalty of Almighty God is, in fact, Almightier than God, and therefore, you've been worshipping a pretender this whole time. One who demonstrated not one iota of concern for those people holding hands and jumping to their deaths.

I hope you didn't put the rent money in the offering plate.
posted by Optamystic at 5:57 PM on October 7, 2001


or to coin a phrase,"when the horse dies, dismount"...

as for rushie, don't worry.....it always interests me to see how people like him think. I am not offended or bent out of shape ....i rather enjoy a little debate, and here at least it doesn't deteriorate into idiocy-one reason i avoid religious newsgroups like the plague.

And don't think for a moment I didn't know what I was in for when I posted that link.
posted by bunnyfire at 6:04 PM on October 7, 2001


Free will and God's intervention on behalf of prayer aren't mutually exclusive. We're the ones making the choice to pray.

4) God set the punishment for sin at eternal damnation

Set the punishment, or perhaps sin IS eternal damnation in the same manner that a lexicon is a vocabulary. I would say that Hell is being apart from God forever, so it follows from choosing to live apart from God in life. I'm surprised how worried non-Christians are about Hell... I mean if you really, truly, firmly believe that God does not exist, then why concern yourself with Hell?

And man's "free will" doesn't extend to the point where we chose to be created or placed on this earth as God's little cringing puppets. God made up the rules of the game, and you don't get to sit out.

Can you honestly say that you would rather never have existed? If so, why?
posted by LabTroglodyte at 6:04 PM on October 7, 2001


"God made a way for man to escape the consequenses of his sin"

So you say. But others disagree. In fact everyone pretty much has a slightly different idea of what God wants. And most people have radically different ideas.

I think the creator of reality is indifferent to our suffering. We are such a tiny blip in the totality of all that exists that It doesn't give us the slightest notice.

And if I'm wrong, since we all disagree, we're all going to burn together except for the 4 or 5 people who guess right about God's will.

People who think they understand what God wants, don't understand the concept very well.
posted by y6y6y6 at 6:10 PM on October 7, 2001


1) God created Man
2) God commanded Man not to sin.
3) God is supposedly omniscient, therefore God knew that man was going to sin.
4) God set the punishment for sin at eternal damnation
5) Man sinned, and brought eternal damnation upon himself and all subsequent generations.

You forget #6. God created a way whereby man's sins could be atoned for, thus enabling man, if he should so choose, to escape "eternal damnation."

He is omniscient. Deal with it.
posted by po at 6:17 PM on October 7, 2001


Oh, and by the way, isn't it interesting that we can all sit around and discuss the Creator of the Universe as if WE could be HIS judge....laughable if it wasn't so scary.

Very laughable to someone as devout as yourself, but to an audience with a slightly skeptical bent the joke really is on you. You're still working off the assumption that Christianity and all its trappings is the one true faith and to an audience that disagrees with your assumptions your arm-chair theology is uninteresting and not grounded in what non-christians and many christians consider reality.

Secondly, feel free to be as fire and brimstone as you like but don't dismiss the fact that I and others see you as preaching and rationalizing. Two things that help turn the noise ratio up. The link was bad enough, but your arm-chair theology is even sorrier.

Ironically, heaven and its rewards was used to justify and rationalize the attack in the minds of the terrorists. Sadly, the author of this link is using the same tactics to trivialize the deaths of thousands. This is in very bad taste and I truly feel sorry for those who agree with its sentiments.
posted by skallas at 6:17 PM on October 7, 2001


bunnyfire: Who are we to judge even ONE of HIS actions..

"We" are the ones his actions affect, theoretically speaking. My apologies for the laughable presumption.

There are some pretty good ideas about peace and harmony and goodwill towards men floating around out there - humankind just hasn't been so great at putting them into practice. So why would the Perfect One be just as inefficient as man? The significance of step 3 in Optamystic's scale is huge - an omniscient God would know of man's flaws. An omniscient God would recognize that your step 6 would result in eternal damnation for many of his children. And he went ahead anyway. Rather similar to our talk of war, actually. So many of us are decrying the idea of innocent deaths, "collateral damage" - why would the Perfect One, the Loving One, accept collateral damage in the form of some of his children going to Hell?

I have to agree with Optamystic's conclusions: either he is not a God of Love by any means, or else he is imperfect.
posted by brookedel at 6:19 PM on October 7, 2001


Trog:
Can you honestly say that you would rather never have existed? If so, why?

What I would 'rather' isn't a consideration. My point.
My personal attachment (or not) to existence doesn't make the choice less limited. Exist by God's rules or not at all.

And Hell isn't an exclusively Christian concept, child.
posted by Catch at 6:22 PM on October 7, 2001


For all you religious nay-sayers here is mathematical proof that God exists.
posted by obedo at 6:23 PM on October 7, 2001


I officially declare that the horse has assumed room temperature......
posted by bunnyfire at 6:34 PM on October 7, 2001


Aw, God stole that bit from Michael Crichton! 'Sphere' - okay book, painfully bland movie...
posted by brookedel at 6:40 PM on October 7, 2001


Thread metatalked. (Summary: spam harvesters suck.)
posted by dhartung at 6:40 PM on October 7, 2001


That's just rushmc being rushmc.

Well, for Pete's sake, who else could I possibly be? lol

You see, whenever a discussion about religion arises, rushmc feels the obligation to point out how silly and stupid religious people are.

He has no intention of understanding your point of view.

"Understanding" implies a duplicable rational process. Religious people intentionally separate themselves from reason and put themselves in the realm of "belief" and the "supernatural." Therefore, the variable, intricate, often contradictory theologies and "mysteries" that they prescribe are, by their very nature, not capable of being "understood" in any meaningful sense of the word. Rather, they must be accepted--in whole or part--on "faith," as the result of some sort of "revelation"-type mental event. So it's not a question of my "intention" to understand or not understand; it's simply unfathomable.

You might say that it is a narrow-minded tenet of his anti-religion religion.

I would really think you would have more respect for your own religion than to misuse the word this way.

He would do well to understand the meaning of the word "bigot."

I like the following, from Dictionary.com:

From the 15th century on Old French bigot meant “an excessively devoted or hypocritical person.” Bigot is first recorded in English in 1598 with the sense “a superstitious hypocrite.”

Hasn't this dead horse been beaten enough?

bunnyfire seems quite lively to me, though she's clearly riding in the wrong direction....
posted by rushmc at 6:42 PM on October 7, 2001


Well, bunnyfire, you sure do know how to attract a crowd. So, one quick question to get things rolling: How do you feel when people write a fake monologue purporting to be from God?

You obviously find it inspirational, but I read this and think, "That's probably how the Gospel of John was written."
posted by boaz at 6:45 PM on October 7, 2001


obedo; your post demonstrates that either the english language existed at the time of creation, or that god only has a shallow grasp of the mathematics of infinite series, or that whoever wrote that page wasn't a mathematician. Take your pick.
posted by normy at 6:49 PM on October 7, 2001


From dictionary.com:
faith n.
2.Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.
4.often Faith Christianity. The theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God's will.

What exactly are the faithful trusting that their god will do? And what is the criteria for accepting ideas without logic or material evidence?

My first step to becoming an atheist was realizing that believing in a god, but not Santa Claus, was inconsistent.
posted by hitsman at 6:50 PM on October 7, 2001


My property won't hang up the phone. I'm really sorry, all, but this is the only way to get through to her!
posted by holloway at 6:50 PM on October 7, 2001


obedo: For all you religious nay-sayers here is mathematical proof that God exists

What the author of that page doesn't tell you is that if you continue to calculate some more digits of pi and convert them using the same formula, it translates to: "I am cornholio. I need some t.p. for my bunghole."

Pick any random string of digits long enough, and you can get it to say whatever you want.

Please read this book.
posted by hitsman at 6:55 PM on October 7, 2001


It's a joke, normy. Check out the rest of the site.
posted by nikzhowz at 6:56 PM on October 7, 2001


It's a beautiful joke, but, like the Onion story about Harry Potter being Satanic, it will be seized upon by the witless as fact.
posted by kindall at 6:58 PM on October 7, 2001


nikzhowz: doh, me, I guess... I really should stop reading quite so much creationist 'science' misinformation - getting overused to this kind of idiocy presented in all seriousness..
posted by normy at 7:01 PM on October 7, 2001


bunnyfire,

regarding ants & bacteria,

when was the last time you answered their prayers?

If God exists, I don't think he chooses to answer some prayers, curing that cancer, or making that headache go away, while letting things like WTC happen.
posted by prodigal at 7:18 PM on October 7, 2001


People are so short-sided when it comes to the standard view of God.

Believers seem to forget life is 100% fatal and, in the end, it doesn't matter if you pass away quietly in a hospital bed at the age of 80, or if you're 30 yrs old and perish when the office collapses due to a massive sudden explosion. God could have prevented the sudden violent death of the 6,500 victims but what would it have accomplished in the scale of eternity? If the soul is eternal and God is eternal, then buildings collapsing mean absolutely nothing.

When your religion embraces an eternal system and an omniscient, omnipresent, omni-everything else deity, then the side effect is essentially a strong strain of nihlism which most Xtians and Muslims seem to not realize is present. Everything which happens on earth is unimportant. Death of the physical form is a 100% certainty and if God gives or takes a few years from your life, in the face of eternity, what does it matter?

So I really don't understand the hand-wringing of Xtians. An outporing of grief by atheists would be perfectly understandable. But Xtians, Jews, or Muslims, who believe in an eternal God who is completely in control of everything, should just get over it. A brief expression of sadness and shock is completely understandable but, according to their own beliefs, this is nothing to worry about. Everything in the physical world is ultimately irrelevant, including pain, suffering, war, and death.
posted by pandaharma at 7:18 PM on October 7, 2001


Well, not that anybody cares, but that "mathematical proof of God" sequence of numbers is not actually even in the first 100 million digits of pi.

And besides... I think God is far more clever than to limit the true revelation of His existence to a Cracker-Jack surprise-like encoded secret "Hello world" message, hidden within the meaningless depths of the number pi ---- but hey, whatever opens your eyes.
posted by blackholebrain at 7:19 PM on October 7, 2001



An outporing of grief by atheists would be perfectly understandable. But Xtians, Jews, or Muslims, who believe in an eternal God who is completely in control of everything, should just get over it. A brief expression of sadness and shock is completely understandable but, according to their own beliefs, this is nothing to worry about.

Good point.
posted by rushmc at 7:27 PM on October 7, 2001


I really should stop reading quite so much creationist 'science' misinformation - getting overused to this kind of idiocy presented in all seriousness...

Yeah, I thought he was serious too, there's enough of that stuff around. For laffs, have a look at what the Bible Code nutters are up to -- they've already "discovered" warnings of the 911 debacle, natch.
posted by nikzhowz at 7:47 PM on October 7, 2001


Ugh. This is ridiculous. And anyone who finds comfort in such a piece of crap website is an idiot. Must I point out that this is blasphemy in the extreme? This person is speaking AS GOD!!! This person claims to know the MIND OF GOD!!! Bullshit. I hope the author is struck down by God for such jackassery. Unfortunately, since there is no God, that won't happen.
posted by UrbanFigaro at 7:48 PM on October 7, 2001


Re: mathematical proof

I think it's cute that people would actually believe that if God was going to leave a message for us mortals, it'd be in English, and such colloqial English, to boot.
posted by MonkeyMeat at 7:48 PM on October 7, 2001


I think it's cute that people would actually believe that if God was going to leave a message for us mortals, it'd be in English, and such colloqial English, to boot.

Well, it only stands to reason. Who else would he bother talking to, other than Americans? I mean, the President prays and stuff. I'm sure he has nothing to say to those Muslim foreigner types!
posted by rushmc at 7:51 PM on October 7, 2001


"A brief expression of sadness and shock is completely understandable but, according to their own beliefs, this is nothing to worry about."

This is of course correct per, e.g., the Bhagavad-Gita, but I'm not sure I understand why you assert atheistic grief is more justified.
Matter can never be destroyed, just transformed, after all.
Certainly, "people" perished, but their personalities are merely social constructs, i.e interpretations of reality, not an objective reality per se.
Indeed, 20 more years of neurochemistry findings and the "personality" will be as quaint and discarded as the "soul."
No surprise, as Hindus and Buddhists have been saying much the same for 1500 years.
I am not an atheist, so correct me if I am wrong, but an atheist's grief seems like the tears of a soap opera fan when the heroine dies in childbirth. Understandable, I suppose, but still bizarre.
Grieving over the death of a person is akin to grieving over the crushing of a rock-
so I honestly do not see how today's atheist could feel any differently. Pray tell.
posted by quercus at 7:52 PM on October 7, 2001


. I hope the author is struck down by God for such jackassery.

mmmmmmm. 'jackassery'. a delicious word, UrbanFigaro!
posted by quonsar at 7:52 PM on October 7, 2001


blackholebrain: Thanks a lot for shattering pi's proof of God. Damn it, now I'm agnostic again.
posted by obedo at 8:06 PM on October 7, 2001


Okay, (if I remember correctly) according to the Bible God gave humans free will --which, by definition, allows us to do anything, anything, ANYTHING we want-- instead of making us his slaves.

By giving us the freedom to choose either good or evil, heaven or hell, love or hate, etc., God leaves it up to us as to whether we serve him or ourselves, or others... or whatever.

The whole point of the WTC and this "Where was God?" debate is NOT to find out why God didn't hold out his hand and yell "Stop!" to the terrorists (although he could have, and evidently many believe he should have), but it hopefully might open a path to understanding for some that God's gift of free will to humanity is universal......allowing terrorists to choose evil --even unspeakably horrible evil-- instead of forcing them to bow down against their will.

Whether you believe in God or not, America was founded upon the very principle that our Creator gave us free will:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

No matter what you personally believe, Americans owe our freedom --our liberty-- to one of the greatest documents ever penned by human hand, the Declaration of Independence. And whether we like it or not, the freedom that enables all of us to have beer, baseball and barbecue --and even conversations such as this thread here on metafilter-- is exactly the same freedom that enables people like Mohammed Atta to communicate by killing thousands in a suicidal terrorist act.

No. Not the Declaration of Independence, or our Constitution, or even the Bill of Rights. It's the freedom given to all of us by our creator: free will... the essence of all other freedoms.

Oh yeah, one more thing... to me, prayer isn't telling God a bunch of stuff he already knows, or reciting 'holy poems'.... prayer is listening to God.
posted by blackholebrain at 8:27 PM on October 7, 2001



How refreshing to see that there are so many atheists and non-church-going types at MeFi! Just when I'm getting depressed over how many left-leaning posts & authors live here, you bolster my spirits with this strong affirmation of reason & corresponding rejection of faith/god/christ/etc. I'm speaking generally, of course, but it really seems as though MeFi'ers in general have a higher concentration of atheist/agnostic types than the general population.

And while we're on the subject...anyone else as pissed off as I am about the extreme proliferation of "God Bless America" signs popping up all over the place? In one sense, I understand the sentiment in that it reflects a desire for our nation to continue enjoying prosperity, freedom, etc. On the other hand, those who proclaim "GBA" seem to genuinely believe that America is god's "promised land" of some sort, and that god actually is "watching out for" America and taking care of our nation. Ahem. Folks, isn't that very much similar to bin-Laden & Co. claiming that Allah is looking out for them and their holy lands? Believing that your version of the supreme being favors your land, and that your land is being desecrated by infidels, sounds very much like Falwell & Co., which in turn is not too far off of what bin-Laden & Co. are preaching.

Atheists: Defenders of Reality.
posted by davidmsc at 8:33 PM on October 7, 2001


Reality is no substitute for the real thing; i don't care what type of theist you are
posted by quercus at 8:37 PM on October 7, 2001


Can we go back to talking about Space Ghost?
posted by toddshot at 8:44 PM on October 7, 2001


quercus: huh? sarcasm/joke/serious?
posted by davidmsc at 8:45 PM on October 7, 2001


A Christian should never grieve because they believe death of the physical form is not the end. The soul, mind, spirit, essence of every individual will be preserved and you will meet that person again.

An atheist can love and feel just as deeply for someone as the Xtian. However, when their beloved dies, they're gone forever. You may have your memories, their writings, their art, or other signifiers of their existence and love. But an atheist will never have them around again. Hence, the grief would be far greater than the grief of an Xtian, at least in theory.

In practice, everyone seems to grieve at almost the same levels and this is the problem I have with religious people. If they truly believed in God and safety to be found in eternity then, for example, WTC wouldn't matter. God's in control, right? Death is inevitable and doesn't really matter, right? Even if children were slain, they're ending up in a far better place than here, right? If this is true, then why grieve? Why worry about whether God was involved or not? Why question his motives? Why should an Xtian even care when they're in the hands of a loving and all-powerful father?

Besides, why care about pain and suffering now? After the next ten million years in Heaven, will you care that you lay under 5 tons of rubble without food and water for 3 days before you expired? Would you still hold a grudge then against the terrorists? Or would you invite them to a round of 9 holes on the immaculate green and chuckle about the memories of distant earth and all the wars which seem laughable and forgettable?

Xtianity carried to its logical conclusion negates anything which happens on Earth. The only thing which matters is what happens to yr eternal soul.
posted by pandaharma at 8:48 PM on October 7, 2001


Holy crap! I didn't believe it could be done, but you self-righteous, sanctimonious, presumptuous so-and-sos have totally and completely resolved the age-old debate over the existence of God! Here and now! On this very blog!

I was going to tell you it was useless to debate with each other, but then I actually took the time to read what you were saying, and my long-held beliefs were totally shattered. Whoa, still reeling.
posted by Hildago at 8:50 PM on October 7, 2001


davidmsc, i'm not going to go into what i believe, but, i'm not offended by the "g.b.a." signs everywhere. I just assume that whoever is saying it, putting it on their sign, etc., is a Christian. If someone put up Allah bless America, i would not be offended either. I'm all for people believing in whatever they want to.

I think one of the major causes of problems in the world is that each group thinks that they are the chosen and everyone else should believe the same thing they do. Muslim vs Hindu vs Jewish vs Christian vs Buddist ad freaking nauseum... OBL is pissed partially because non-muslims exist, and have set foot in Saudi Arabia, home of the holy sites of Islam. It goes on and on. Atheists do the same thing back. They refer to people who believe as deluded and somehow mentally weak.

Do what you want, believe what you want.
posted by jbelshaw at 8:52 PM on October 7, 2001


the *real* space ghost
posted by blackholebrain at 8:57 PM on October 7, 2001


I agree thoroughly about the Christian,Panda-i just don't see it about the atheist-your "loved" one is gone-what is love?-on a strictly physical level of explanation-(or do atheists get metaphysical too? i honestly don't know-atheism is a vague term anyway)-yes the atheist grieves-the entity which caused a massive phenyethylamine dump in the neuroreceptors is gone-that's love on a physical level-a broken heart is akin to the grief of a crack addict-let's not get too deep into it-its embarassing.

Mr. davidmsc-no sarcasm intended-i love the scientific fundamentalist discourse on reality-amusing how "Reality" can also be the subject of disagreement.
Please give me three simple declarative sentences expressing three incontrovertible truths about Reality.
No sarcasm at all-I'm seriously interested to hear what you have to say-
if that's too much work-just define "light" for me, like the light that comes from the sun-what is it, REALLY?
posted by quercus at 9:03 PM on October 7, 2001


You know- I'm as atheist as they come, and saw obedo's link as the satire it obviously was. However, I was struck by Monkeymeat's comment:
if God was going to leave a message ... it'd be in English, and such colloqial English, to boot

I had a thought: if there was a God, and he was going to leave a message for mortals- wouldn't pi be a great way to do it? It'd be like that plaque sent out on Voyager, with the da Vinci man/woman and basic mathematical notions and units of Earth measurement. It's one of the most basic and central numbers, representative of the perfect circle. And because such a key number is infinite and non-repeating, it's a number that could conceal a similar "Hello World" message in every language, every colloquialism. Although I suppose that means it could really be concealing the message "There is no God!" in every conceivable language- a paradox that makes my head hurt...
posted by hincandenza at 9:04 PM on October 7, 2001



If only Mefi had more Calvinists, then this could really get interesting.
posted by aaron at 9:15 PM on October 7, 2001


Quercus: Actually, atheists will love people far more than Xtians will. Without the benefit of having Jesus, Jehovah, Allah, J.R. 'Bob' Dobbs, or Santa Claus to keep the love in one's heart, you'll have to turn to other people for the only hope of warmth in this cold, mathematically precise universe.
posted by pandaharma at 9:21 PM on October 7, 2001


if that's too much work-just define "light" for me, like the light that comes from the sun-what is it, REALLY?

Here's a good definition. Just so I can short-circuit the inevitable nihilistic rejoinder, here's a good introduction to epistemology. I can only hope the discussion on avoiding absolute relativism will do you some good.
posted by boaz at 9:27 PM on October 7, 2001


Free will.
posted by aaronshaf at 9:33 PM on October 7, 2001


pandaharma: don't forget there's always a Rev. Jim Jones out there too... you know, mixing up "love-in-a-cup" Kool-Aid for all those thirsty for the truth, but not sure where the fountain is.
posted by blackholebrain at 9:43 PM on October 7, 2001


Until He sufficiently explains the design flaws (male nipples, tender-but-external genitalia, ear hair) and the whole dinosaur bone thing, rational people have no choice but to either (a) believe He does not exist, or (b) believe He exists but is an incompetent boob. Either way, I'm certainly not going to be selling any pamphlets at the airport.
posted by UncleFes at 9:45 PM on October 7, 2001


And because such a key number is infinite and non-repeating, it's a number that could conceal a similar "Hello World" message in every language, every colloquialism.

Hmmm. Correct me if I'm wrong but something made up of a finite set of consituents cannot be both non-repeating and infinite.

One or the other yes, but not both...
posted by fooljay at 9:59 PM on October 7, 2001


hincandenza --- interesting thoughts about pi. So here's God on judgement day, quizzing sinners about pi:
"Okay, so how many of you found my secret message inside pi? [lots of mumbling] Oh really? [more mumbling] Nobody?!! You mean to tell me that not one of you thought maybe I might have left a clue somewhere for you, somewhere obvious, somewhere any idiot would have thought to look???!!! [silence] Hmm... well, that's too bad, you dumb sinning morons, because that was the one simple test I made for all of this universe, and you were too stupid to figure it out -- so to hell you go, for as long as it takes you to count all the digits of pi!!! Ha-ha-ha... [lots of wailing]
posted by blackholebrain at 10:06 PM on October 7, 2001


and I thought the original link was irony
posted by semmi at 10:08 PM on October 7, 2001


hmm... just "an errand boy sent by the grocery clerk to collect the bill"
posted by blackholebrain at 10:16 PM on October 7, 2001


I had a thought: if there was a God, and he was going to leave a message for mortals- wouldn't pi be a great way to do it? It'd be like that plaque sent out on Voyager, with the da Vinci man/woman and basic mathematical notions and units of Earth measurement.

If we're just discovering it. What the fuck are *they* doing?

One thing struck me as worth a mention. Do any of us atheists, realists realize that if we can't even get through to fundamentalist little ol' bunnyfire and have her admit, just admit, there's a personal possibility she may be wrong, humanity's fucked for some time?

I dunno, but most contemporary B.A.Christians aren't joining the LORD's cause because they felt it was the only way they could kamikazee large groups of spiritually misled Muslims. But the same vacuum was filled in these lives, both Christian and Muslim. Muslim men aboard planes plummeting into office buildings were just as comforted as homebody bunnyfires are when they post such crap. Doing the will of god. amen.

Furthermore.

This may become my new "sig":

"If you choose to believe in some kind of anthropomorphized benevolent god then be prepared to embrace dreck like this to avoid losing your faith or experiencing cognitive dissonance." (a skallas dicksuck)

Off to Metatalk to discuss what a troll bunnyfire is.

And don't think for a moment I didn't know what I was in for when I posted that link.
posted by crasspastor at 10:40 PM on October 7, 2001


when I'm getting depressed over how many left-leaning posts & authors live here, you bolster my spirits with this strong affirmation of reason & corresponding rejection of faith/god/christ/etc.

Surprisingly enough, the two often go together ;)

If only Mefi had more Calvinists, then this could really get interesting.

Ah, I remember Tony Nuttall lecturing on Calvinism and the Problem of Evil, and the vertiginous temporality within the prologue to Doctor Faustus, that most impishly Calvinist-ish of plays...

The US, first settled by predestinarians; established as a state by Unitarians and Deists; the birthplace of the LDS and SDAs, the home of Southern Baptism. That's frankly a recipe for long-term national psychotherapy.

(And like Nick Cave, I don't believe in an interventionist God. Which makes my personal take on Catholicism somewhat less High Tory than Andrew Sullivan's.)
posted by holgate at 10:50 PM on October 7, 2001 [1 favorite]


To quote a missing Canto from Dante's Inferno.

All those who doubt God's message in Pi
Condemned to reside just above circle three
Confined in undersized desks with hard wooden seats
Calculating the blessed ratio on calculators with stickey keys
For all Eternity Baww Haaa Haaa (Evil Laugh)
posted by obedo at 11:14 PM on October 7, 2001


hmm.. poor punctuation
posted by Robin at 11:28 PM on October 7, 2001


Hmmm. Correct me if I'm wrong but something made up of a finite set of consituents cannot be both non-repeating and infinite. — Fooljay

Huh? Any irrational number (expressed to any rational base) has its digits in such a series. Or am I misunderstanding your assertion?
posted by nicwolff at 11:35 PM on October 7, 2001


Pi. Just one note about Pi. Every single sequence of numbers appears in Pi at some point.
posted by delmoi at 1:14 AM on October 8, 2001


Well, that was an interesting thread. I’ll go on the record as a theist and add that it’s clear that one of the failings that we theists suffer from is a lack of representatives who can express themselves in a logical debate.

I was brought up Christian. When I went off to college, I learned to be cynical and trust my own intelligence. The more educated I got, the more I understood how little we know. It was the failure of science and logic to answer the big questions that led me back, eventually, to God. Follow the path of deductive reasoning, scientific method, and empirical observation, and if you’re honest, eventually you have to confront one of the big questions: “design or accident?” Fortunately, I think, the more we learn, the more confounding is the depth and the intricacy of our world, and the harder it becomes to chalk the whole thing up to random chance.

Properly understood, religion is not the antithesis of logic and deductive reasoning, it is instead its *logical* conclusion (or perhaps I should say, it “can be its logical conclusion”, as in fact it rarely is, and is instead routinely abused and misused).

A big part of the problem is that there are many, many bad examples of so-called Christians, Muslims, and Spaceghostians for us to focus on. We see them and say, “not for me”. If you get to the point where you want answers to the big questions, be careful. Talk to many people, visit many pastors, ministers and Space Ghost museum curators. Find out who has a handle on things. I had to search far and wide to find a church whose leadership did not abandon logic and reasoning and insist on “blind” faith. Turns out, I learned later, that the pastor was valedictorian in his class at Harvard, and has a PhD in Divinity and Religious Studies. I learn more from him every week. Find somebody like that.

Even so, that web site was pretty sappy. And the design sucked, too.
posted by JParker at 1:15 AM on October 8, 2001


Moving Testimony!

Join with me on hymn 187. . .
posted by crasspastor at 1:21 AM on October 8, 2001


Spaceghostians?!?!

What nicwolff said, fooljay- for example, 9 divided by 11 (uh, to pick two numbers out of a hat) is .8181818181.... infinite, yet repeating. Whereas pi will have countless segments that repeat- obviously- but is not a repeating or in any way regular number.

BTW, I'm so proud my "VGER"/ pi thing got such clever responses like the "God Final Exam" and the long- lost Dante canto- although I don't know how you translate from the original Italian into "Bwaa Haaa Haaa"... :) That said, I'm waxing more metaphysical about this now that I keep thinking about it: why the hell IS pi so fawkin' irrational- you could never have a base-pi system, after all... If there is a God, would even He be forced to follow mathematical truths that supercede Him (one of the many, many reasons I reject anthropomorphic theism) or could he craft mathematics itself as He saw fit (i.e., create a rock so heavy he could not lift it)? Or is even the purest abstract mathematics itself just a human quirk, representative not of some deep understanding of "celestial harmonies" but just our own ability to invent imperfect yet compelling structures from the void?
posted by hincandenza at 1:28 AM on October 8, 2001



I don't know that hymn, crasspastor, but it works if you sing it to the tune of "99 bottles of beer on the wall".

Still I prefer the classic hymns:
"Yes, there are two paths you can go by
But in the long run
There's still time to change the road you're on..."

Think about it!
posted by JParker at 2:04 AM on October 8, 2001


Oops. Protocol demands that I should have mentioned that link above starts playing music, so if you're at work.... sorry!
posted by JParker at 2:13 AM on October 8, 2001


Freakin' xians and atheists. Don't you guys realize at this point we have no freakin' idea who created the universe? It could be the big man in the sky, or a random bang in the middle of nothingness. We don't know. Us agnostics would prefer to go: "look at the pretty trees in this forest", if you get my drift.
posted by owillis at 2:13 AM on October 8, 2001


It's shampoo for your hair... and your brain.
posted by dong_resin at 2:22 AM on October 8, 2001


owillis, ...and that's perfectly OK with me. You say "we have no idea who created the universe", and if by "we" you mean "us agnostics", then of course, you're right. Sort of by definition, eh? And trees are nice. Everybody should respect everyone else's freedom of choice. As a "freakin' xian", I personally think you're missing out on a lot of good stuff, and that's too bad, but I don't hate you or disrespect you for it.

Again, it's unfortunate that so many bad examples of Christians create this perception that we're all a bunch of right-wing raving fundamentalists. Folks are free to offer up their own personal beliefs, and the reasons for those beliefs, until someone mentions they are Christian, then it's "Moving Testimony!" and a hymnbook upside the head.

I'm kind of surprised at the knee-jerk reaction from MeFi'ers, though. Intellect, logic and reason are not exclusively doled out along the lines of religious belief systems.
posted by JParker at 2:32 AM on October 8, 2001


What bemuses me the most is why it bothers so many that I actually believe in a Personal God that loves me(and the rest of you too...)...and this makes me an idiot?....maybe I simply know a few things y'all don't....
You can always email me and ask me. But I bet you won't.
posted by bunnyfire at 3:23 AM on October 8, 2001


I can see now why bombs are falling over Afghanistan. No one on this page can even agree to disagree.
posted by ewilder at 3:48 AM on October 8, 2001


nice one bunnyfire, way to curry favour amongst the non-believers:

...maybe I simply know a few things y'all don't....

what a blatant troll
posted by asok at 6:08 AM on October 8, 2001


I have always interpreted "God Bless America," as a request rather than a statement of fact. If it were boasting, wouldn't it be God Blessed America?

Also, the following statement by Sister Bunnyfire during yesterday's services didn't get nearly enough attention:

I dunno what good/evil that he does do, but by blaming God for this, people are looking for a scapegoat, one that can't talk back and defend themselves.

Don't attack Him, because He can't defend Himself.
posted by rcade at 6:34 AM on October 8, 2001


Properly understood, religion is not the antithesis of logic and deductive reasoning, it is instead its *logical* conclusion

If that's true, then why are there no mathematically acceptable proofs of God? The overriding principle of deductive reasoning is taking logical steps to a logical conclusion, not jumping to the end and saying, "This seems logical."
God always seemed to me more of a practical application of Godel's Incompleteness Theorem.
posted by boaz at 6:49 AM on October 8, 2001


What bemuses me the most is why it bothers so many that I actually believe in a Personal God that loves me(and the rest of you too...)...and this makes me an idiot?....maybe I simply know a few things y'all don't....

So spill the beans already; you're not keeping secrets from your MeFi buddies, are you?
posted by boaz at 6:53 AM on October 8, 2001


He's actually a Personnel God, which is why Christians are always recruiting.
posted by holgate at 7:03 AM on October 8, 2001


so god surfs the net........I wonder how david eike feels about this.
posted by johnnyboy at 8:20 AM on October 8, 2001


A loving god? One who spends much of his holy book either threatening violence against his creation, or actually performing the violence in a myriad of rather creative ways? A god who hangs the threat of eternal annhilation and pain over your head while simultaneously telling you how much he loves you?

And you fell for it?

Even if God did exist, he hasn't proved himself worthy of worship. He's willing to sentence people to hell on the whim of a single religious decision; he supposedly is willing to destroy the world because people don't like him enough.

Ehh... to each their own, I suppose. If you can happily worship a raving loony then more power to you. I prefer being a spaceghostian myself.
posted by pandaharma at 9:12 AM on October 8, 2001


Boaz you send me to a dictionary? Please sir. As I assume you are not an absolute relativist, please provide me with an absolute non- relative declarative sentence, a tiny piece of Truth if you will.
posted by quercus at 9:41 AM on October 8, 2001


boaz, you pose a reasonable question: "...why are there no mathematically acceptable proofs of God?" I think it is because there is a discontinuity in the equation. You're right, it is similar to Godel's Incompleteness Theorem, but with one important exception. In the case of God's existence, we have a defined end goal in our analysis. Godel postulated the logical inconsistency of the logic itself within the framework of analysis. The conclusion is therefore that you can't trust the results. In our case, we know the outcome: The Universe Exists. Following the path of deductive reasoning brings us to jumping-off point, which is why it is called "faith." Everybody has it, either faith that God exists, faith that he doesn't, or faith that we cannot know. None of these are provable. You get to choose where your faith is placed.
posted by JParker at 10:03 AM on October 8, 2001


logic is to truth what morality is to conduct. Cf. Descartes, logic reduces to the Cogito. But below the level of the cogito is where the real fun lies, the foundation of the I.
posted by quercus at 10:21 AM on October 8, 2001


Boaz you send me to a dictionary? Please sir

That is generally where one finds definitions.

As I assume you are not an absolute relativist, please provide me with an absolute non- relative declarative sentence, a tiny piece of Truth if you will.

Ah yes, you get called on one so you escalate the level of your request. Why don't you start by telling me what is unreasonable about the definition of light?
posted by boaz at 10:47 AM on October 8, 2001


quercus: exactly. That's where the important stuff is, too.

Further good reading on this topic at The 2001 Principal, which is basically a fan site for the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, but which takes off in a different direction by examining viewer reactions to the movie and why we believe some of the things we believe. Entertaining and thought-provoking site.
posted by JParker at 10:53 AM on October 8, 2001


And Lo, the choir sung unto Perigee, "Fear, not; He didn't light the fire; it was always burning since the world was turning..."

"But..," I replied, adjusting the ill-fitting robes, "He made the earth too. So.."

"Well, He still didn't light it, buster. You wanna burn in hell for heretical thinking? He gave you free will, you guys lit the fire..."

"Well, I don't leave matches laying around for morons, why should he?"
posted by Perigee at 12:11 PM on October 8, 2001


Well Boaz, you yourself cited Godel's Incompleteness theorem-the dictionary is an easy to grasp illustration of it-i.e. define "word." You have to be inside the system already to even start the discussion. "word" itself is a "given."
So some define light as electromagnetic radiation composed of photons, then define photons as the smallest constituents of light. Round and round she goes...
The fact is we know a lot about what light DOES and how to use it, but even the most advanced researchers are at a loss as to what light is.
Furthermore, the dictionary.com definition is even weaker than most as it does not even mention photons, but defines light exclusively in terms of its wavelengths, completely ignoring its particle behavior.
umm..what were we talking about anyway?
posted by quercus at 1:31 PM on October 8, 2001


Ah I see...So you were fishing for a partner in epistemological wankery. Just as I predicted.
You really should go back and read that introduction; as you stand now, you're in danger of completely killing any discussion you wander into.
posted by boaz at 1:54 PM on October 8, 2001


ha! just for fun i looked up "photon" in dictionary.com, and, credit due for not obscuring the matter, it's defined as a "discrete particle of zero mass." but then look up "matter" and learn it is "something that has mass." Ha! Somewhere this thread was discussing inane beliefs and nonsensical ramblings. Does that make sense to you? They don't believe a man could turn water to wine but they'll blindly swallow discrete particles of matter with zero mass. Hey-I love science myself-but it has a long way to go before it's ready to be taken on faith.
posted by quercus at 1:56 PM on October 8, 2001


Not only is the horse DEAD, it is now starting to STINK......
posted by bunnyfire at 2:03 PM on October 8, 2001


uh, quercus, science is never going to be ready to be taken on faith

science is the antithesis to faith

big difference: scientists are self correcting, will say "this is a theory," "we might be wrong," "if the evidence holds . . ."

Can you imagine the pope holding a press conference and saying, "oh, we've discovered we were wrong. Mary was not a virgin, there was no resurrection, wine is wine and not blood, and there is no god."

In science, that kind of complete self-correction is more than just possible, it is evidence that the science is being done properly.
posted by yesster at 2:06 PM on October 8, 2001


I actually skimmed it Boaz-but look even the most severe relativism can handle gradations of truth. If a guy wants to tell me light is composed of particles of zero mass, well, all the evidence points that way, so I'll discuss it-whereas someone tells me its composed of soft boiled eggs, I'll reject it summarily, relativism does not deny idiocy. But look-Hume just about killed the search for truth (not Truth itself) if you ask me (you didn't-oh well). What proof is there of uniformitarianism?
But let me just ask you a yes or no question? Do you thinks its true that photons have zero mass?
posted by quercus at 2:07 PM on October 8, 2001


Got you yesster-science is the 98 pound weakling of human knowledge systems, doomed to a permanent milktoast approach to its own findings...well... er... pending further study and all that.
I saw Richard Dawkins linked here recently. At least there's a scientist with a backbone-ready to proclaim the vapid irrelevance of any alternate path of knowledge. Of course, he appears no more sympathetic to me than any other fundamentalist, even if he is a scientific fundamentalist.

Anyway, no one ever discusses the possible birth of God-just his death-could God be in the process of being born?
we see the following chain of events from the Big Bang-
birth of matter... birth of life...birth of mind...birth of ?
posted by quercus at 2:18 PM on October 8, 2001


ha! just for fun i looked up "photon" in dictionary.com, and, credit due for not obscuring the matter, it's defined as a "discrete particle of zero mass." but then look up "matter" and learn it is "something that has mass." Ha! Somewhere this thread was discussing inane beliefs and nonsensical ramblings. Does that make sense to you? They don't believe a man could turn water to wine but they'll blindly swallow discrete particles of matter with zero mass. Hey-I love science myself-but it has a long way to go before it's ready to be taken on faith.

But of course, most scientists don't suggest that science should be taken on faith. But a correction to your argument is nowhere does dictonary.com claim that a photon is matter.

Following the path of deductive reasoning brings us to jumping-off point, which is why it is called "faith." Everybody has it, either faith that God exists, faith that he doesn't, or faith that we cannot know. None of these are provable. You get to choose where your faith is placed.

Of course, deductive reasoning is only one of three possible logical processes. But a big difference is that most religions not only require that I believe that God exists (as an abstract something possibly lurking in the gaps unexplained by scientific knowledge) but believe quite a few things in addition such as God created the universe 6,000 years ago in 7 days. God flooded the entire planet because everyone was sinning so much. God knocked up a virgin in Palestine, the son was executed for heresy, and rose from the dead after three days. Certainly I can't prove or disprove a "god of the gaps" or "pantheism" or even "Deism" (although all three of these basically lead you directly to Humanism). However doubting the God described by Christianity doesn't require much faith at all.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:29 PM on October 8, 2001


Laughing hysterically at Perigee's comment.
posted by Optamystic at 4:48 PM on October 8, 2001


Ah my old nemesis Sluder returns with a lexicographical challenge to my eminence as seer.
Well actually dictionary.com (hardly the last word in these things-but representative nevertheless) FWIW defines "subatomic particle" as "Any of various units of matter " and that same tome defines a photon as a discrete particle, hence matter, but it's hardly news that quantum physics is freaky. I dont blame them for imprecision. If you assert their calling a photon a particle does not reference a subatomic particle but an amorphous "particle" that never enters the matter zone, well so be it. Nobody knows what the hell a photon is anyway.
posted by quercus at 5:11 PM on October 8, 2001


Let's not get into quatum physics, quercus. Please, let's not get into proving the reality. Then we can really start talking about faith :P
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 5:24 PM on October 8, 2001


Does Schroedinger even HAVE a cat? was he ever alive? was there ever a box?

Is the horse still dead?

Does this thread exist, or did I make it up ?
posted by bunnyfire at 6:17 PM on October 8, 2001


Does this thread exist, or did I make it up ?

Yes. You get the blame for it.
posted by norm at 8:11 PM on October 8, 2001


This thread is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.

(The above is my absolute favorite line of biblical rubbish).
posted by Optamystic at 8:30 PM on October 8, 2001


If you assert their calling a photon a particle does not reference a subatomic particle but an amorphous "particle" that never enters the matter zone, well so be it.

True, but there are a lot of really foolish dictionary games that we could play by exploiting various loopholes and shades of meaning. One of the problems is that dictionaries are interested in common use rather than technical precision and are limited by a need to pack the maximum ammount of definitions into a reasonable book.

Nobody knows what the hell a photon is anyway.

That all depends on what you mean by know and your model of knowledge. We certainly know enough about light to explain almost all of the phenomena that we can observe (and are capable of observing) which is good enough for me.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:09 AM on October 9, 2001


Optamystic,

in the rough-and - tumble that is metafilter, please remeber that when you are quoting and mockingscripture I believe you have gone past the boundaries. Whatever you may think of me, my beliefs or my God, -that verse and the book it comes from is very sacred and precious to me....that verse you mock has been tested and found firm in my life, whatever you may think.
Please, especially considering the events of the past few weeks........I do not mind most of this debate, I know I am a minority on this group-but this steps over a line, and I am asking you to please step back.
posted by bunnyfire at 2:55 AM on October 9, 2001


Buy a ticket, take the ride.
posted by Optamystic at 4:02 AM on October 9, 2001


I'm going to expand on my previous comment, because I'm a bit puzzled.

In this thread, I have asserted that:
1) There is no God
2) If there is a God, he's a knucklehead.

I then point out a logical paradox that appears in scripture, and that's when you get all offended? Geez, I'm glad I didn't make my point about why God loves abortionists.*

You have suggested that you are privy to inside knowledge that allows you to know with certainty that your God is the one true, for sure, big guy in the sky. By extension, you have implied that those who disagree with you are eternally damned to torment in hell.

In questioning your suggestion, I have used the means at my disposal. (My brain, my five senses, and the book he supposedly wrote). I take no pleasure in offending you, but it causes me no pain, either.

*God loves abortionists because, according to Church doctrine, the soul exists from the point of conception. If the fetus is aborted between the time of conception and the time of birth, then the baby is not "born into sin". Therefore, the soul goes straight to heaven, bypassing the earth (the dominion of Lucifer). More abortions=more company for God. (This also squares with the widely held doctrine of "Age of Accountability", which states that young children who die go to heaven, automatically, having never consciously sinned).
posted by Optamystic at 4:34 AM on October 9, 2001


We certainly know enough about light to explain almost all of the phenomena that we can observe (and are capable of observing) which is good enough for me.


Exactly Sluder, I agree. Science is practical knowledge, i never understood why you had to buy the whole worldview that goes with it. Build me an optical computer-it doesn't matter if we understand the photon-furthermore, if one day we do know the photon, why are all other interpretations of lights thereby rendered incorrect?

where is it written the universe has ONE TRUE rational explanation? What is the origin of this idea? It's an outgrowth, of course, of the ONE TRUE God idea.

God has commandments; Science has "laws".

Priest, if your God works for you great, but don't prosyletize me, thanks-the same for Mr. Scientist-you have developed a theory which explains certain observations of subatomic phenomena-great, go USE the knowledge and build a better mousetrap, but please don't try to make me a slave to that truth either.

Some say I am denying "Reality", apparently blind to their pale echo of the converted who say I am denying God.
Either way, somebody wants me to submit to some belief system.
posted by quercus at 5:47 AM on October 9, 2001


but scripture is so much fun (and so easy) to mock

If mocking your glorious little fantasy book causes you consternation, then perhaps your faith needs some reexamination.
posted by yesster at 6:09 AM on October 9, 2001


"Perhaps truth is a woman who has reasons for not letting us see her reasons" Nietzsche, The Gay Science
posted by quercus at 10:08 AM on October 9, 2001


Whatever you may think of me, my beliefs or my God, -that verse and the book it comes from is very sacred and precious to me....that verse you mock has been tested and found firm in my life, whatever you may think.

It seems both selfish and preposterous to me to attempt to censor other people in this manner. You are justified in protesting when someone insults or degrades YOU in some unjustified manner, but not when someone comments on a book (which you did NOT write, and so has no external connection to you whatsoever), no matter how fond of it you might be.
posted by rushmc at 6:12 PM on October 9, 2001


I don't understand why everyone is putting "God Bless America" up everywhere. If he didn't want to bless America on Sept. 11, he probably won't want to bless America now, either.
posted by clevernickname at 9:31 PM on October 9, 2001


God loves abortionists because ... the soul goes straight to heaven, bypassing the earth (the dominion of Lucifer).

I'll think you'll find that that's a Gnostic idea - the notion that the World is not the dominion of God (indeed not created by Him), but rather of (and by) a debased and evil Demiurge who believes himself to be God. C.f. the Albigensians, the Kabbalists et al.

And there's an equivalent in Hinduism as well, if I remember correctly (at least, according to a version of We Will Rock You that Queen recorded in a BBC session in the late 70s)

It has to be said, if God had wanted people to believe all this Gnostic stuff, He wouldn't have gone to all that trouble having His Church try to exterminate them all those years ago.

Even though the post-Lutherans didn't go in for setting fire to people who had the presumption to disagree with them (unless you want to count the use of Agent Orange and I'm not sure that I do), even they don't hold with this A-perfect-God-couldn't-create-an-imperfect-universe stuff.

(But then again, many of the people posting here seem to have a Gnostic world view anyway.)
posted by Grangousier at 1:14 AM on October 10, 2001


(But then again, many of the people posting here seem to have a Gnostic world view anyway.)

It's all gauze pads and ball bearings these days.
posted by crasspastor at 2:29 AM on October 10, 2001


What is it that we want when we elevate the love partner to the position of God? We want redemption - nothing less. We want to be rid of our faults, of our feeling of nothingness. We want to be justified, to know that our creation has not been in vain. We turn to our love partner for the experience of the heroic, for perfect validation; we expect him or her to "make us good" through love. Needless to say, human partners can't do this. The lover does not dispense cosmic heroism; he or she cannot give absolution in their own name. The reason is that as a finite being he or she is doomed, and we read that doom in his or her own fallibilities, in his or her very deterioration. Redemption can only come from outside the individual, from beyond our conceptualization of the ultimate source of things, the perfection of creation. It can only come when we lay down our individuality, give it up, admit our creatureliness and helplessness.
posted by ewilder at 4:51 AM on January 19, 2002


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