Mother Teresa "cures" cancer, on her way to sainthood.
October 1, 2002 3:25 PM   Subscribe

Mother Teresa "cures" cancer, on her way to sainthood. Clearly cancer sufferers need only to pray to Mother Terresa to cure cancer! This story forces us to deal with the most crucial of questions-- why is religion so goofy?
posted by xmutex (120 comments total)

 
why is religion so goofy?

What is your point exactly other than offending other people's beliefs?
posted by falameufilho at 3:30 PM on October 1, 2002


!!!
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:33 PM on October 1, 2002


So, would you have to a Catholic and not a 'heretic' to pray for the cure to your cancer?

just asking
posted by RobbieFal at 3:33 PM on October 1, 2002


Religion is goofy because people are goofy. Not vice-versa.
posted by goethean at 3:35 PM on October 1, 2002


What I find goofy is the apparent "requirements" to become a saint. Because, you know, as always God can't do anything himself, maybe send down an obvious message in fire from the sky or something like that? My favorite passage:

Under church rules, five years must pass after a person dies before the long bureaucratic procedure for sainthood can begin. But in 1999, Pope John Paul II granted a dispensation so the procedure could start less than two years after her death.

Gosh, it's a good thing she performed her miracle at the right time. We wouldn't want the Mormons challenging the miracle in court. And besides, all those dead Bishops were complaining about the process taking too long. Spirits living in HEaven for all eternity have busy lives, you know.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 3:37 PM on October 1, 2002


So, would you have to a Catholic and not a 'heretic' to pray for the cure to your cancer?

Well, I believe Mother Theresa would only take requests from catholics. Think of it as a DJ on a trendy club, she's got to know you to play your music.

And if you are a heretic, well, there's always Cthulhu.
posted by falameufilho at 3:41 PM on October 1, 2002


goofy 4ever
posted by ac at 3:46 PM on October 1, 2002


Pick on christianity as you may, but its pretty hard to tear Mother Teresa apart, for god's sake the woman is almost a saint.
posted by Recockulous at 3:51 PM on October 1, 2002


why is religion so goofy?

And what's up with those zany atheist mass-murderers like Stalin and Mao? Whatta laff riot!

Me, I worship Pancakes.
posted by MrBaliHai at 3:51 PM on October 1, 2002


The link that mediareport posted in the Hitchens thread seems germane here: Christopher Hitchens On Mother Theresa
posted by UKnowForKids at 3:54 PM on October 1, 2002


Excepting of course our brethren at Landover Baptist



Nope. They aren't goofy at all.
posted by geekyguy at 4:14 PM on October 1, 2002


pancakes!
posted by PugAchev at 4:19 PM on October 1, 2002


Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!
posted by Hildago at 4:23 PM on October 1, 2002


Why'd she only bother to cure one person's cancer?
What an exceptionally heartless dead lady.
posted by EmoChild at 4:27 PM on October 1, 2002


What an insult to all the people out there suffering from cancer. Just the message that it can be cured by the wave of a hand is highly insensitive and tramples on decades of research and treatment which actually gets results.

On a more practical side, the Catholic Church needs saints and it needs to contemporize to fill the pews. Playing up a remission to the level of miracle is just more crowd pleasing antics and will probably be largely accepted by those who think that faith ( the belief of things without proof ) is a good idea.

Child rape, supernatural powers, etc. Keep marginalizing yourselves boys and you'll be just another failed, albeit once popular, cult. The pantheon of outdated gods and beliefs is just waiting for you.
posted by skallas at 4:43 PM on October 1, 2002


(playing devil's advocate) What if it's true though?
posted by amberglow at 4:45 PM on October 1, 2002


why is religion so goofy?

Because its practitioners are intellectually lazy. Those swayed primarily by emotion will always buffet wildly.

Pick on christianity as you may, but its pretty hard to tear Mother Teresa apart, for god's sake the woman is almost a saint.

I couldn't disagree more.
posted by rushmc at 4:48 PM on October 1, 2002


This story forces us to deal with the most crucial of questions-- why is religion so goofy?
[...]
The pantheon of outdated gods and beliefs is just waiting for you.
[...]
Because its practitioners are intellectually lazy.


Or perhaps the even more crucial question--why are so many non-religious people so bigoted? Because, y'know, it's so intellectually rigorous and a sign of maturity to call names. You have to be in, oh, say, the first grade to do that.
posted by ChrisTN at 4:52 PM on October 1, 2002


My car stereo didn't work for about a year. The tape worked just not the radio. It just stopped working one day. The day after Princess Diana died I got in my car, turned the ignition and the radio came on! I don't know if it's still working as I have since sold that car. Could this be the first miricle of Saint Diana? Who do I call?
posted by cohiba at 5:13 PM on October 1, 2002


Because its practitioners are intellectually lazy. Those swayed primarily by emotion will always buffet wildly.
You ever read Augustine, Aquintas, or C.S. Lewis, or any of the great theologians? Wow, those guys are sooooooooo intellectually lazy that I don't even know where to start.
Faith aside, you can't prove OR disprove the existance of God, so I COMPLETELY fail to see how being religious makes you intellectually lazy. Being a Catholic who has in the past studied all different religions and philosophies, does that naturally incline me to be more lazy than, say, an atheist who is one only in spite of whatever reason they have? After all, i MUST be intellectually lazy b/c I'm a practicioner.
posted by jmd82 at 5:28 PM on October 1, 2002


Cohiba, you're not as far off as you might think--there's already an unofficial cult of Diana worship... : >

interesting article on their deaths and worship of them
posted by amberglow at 5:30 PM on October 1, 2002


Uknowforkids

what could you expect from a secular humanist, surely not a valid and unbiased discussion?

The founders of America must be written off as "intellectually lazy", foolish Christians.
posted by Recockulous at 5:31 PM on October 1, 2002


Recockulous: "Pick on christianity as you may, but its pretty hard to tear Mother Teresa apart, for god's sake the woman is almost a saint."

Y'all have to wait for an old pope and a bureaucratic bunch of pansy tight-ass cardinals to tell you Mother Theresa's a saint? She made life a little more tolerable for an unfathomable amount of people living in hell on Earth. For many, she was a walking miracle. By all accounts of common sense, Mother Theresa is a saint.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:31 PM on October 1, 2002


Keep marginalizing yourselves boys and you'll be just another failed, albeit once popular, cult.

According to this guy, Catholicism's demographic center is shifting from the Northern to the Southern Hemisphere. If true, it will survive just fine, and demands for reform in the U.S. and Europe will become increasingly irrelevant.
posted by homunculus at 5:41 PM on October 1, 2002


I don't think it's bigoted to react to this story in what-the-holy-hell manner. Here we have the Catholic Church, aka The Worst Bureaucracy Known To Mankind, actually bothering to certify a miracle.

That alone should garner chuckles from just about anyone with a dose of common sense, but it doesn't stop there; no sir.

The Vatican needs, by some inane rule, a second miracle before "official sainthood" is bestowed upon the good head of Mother Teresa.

And let me refer you again to the link posted by UKnowForKids so that you can look into the full ramifications of labelling Mother Teresa a common-sense saint or otherwise.

Let us not forget the implication, as someone mentioned above, that Mother Teresa has this cancer-curing power and yet chose to cure only one instance of cancer. Sort of makes her seem really, realyl cruel, no?

Bupkus. All of it. Laughable.
posted by xmutex at 5:48 PM on October 1, 2002


xmutex, the religion that you so gleefully call 'goofy' is the same religion that led Mother Teresa to do the great works she did for the absolute poorest of the poor - the whole reason anybody even knows who Mother Teresa is. How many other people do you know are working with the people dying in the streets in Calcutta (or anywhere else, for that matter)? I can't name any.

Why didn't we all make fun of her religion when she was here helping others, even at the expense of her own comfort? Somehow it didn't seem so goofy then.
posted by declaim at 5:53 PM on October 1, 2002


why are so many non-religious people so bigoted?

I suggest you do a bit of research on the meaning of the term "bigoted" so that you don't misuse it so egregiously in future.
posted by rushmc at 5:53 PM on October 1, 2002


Somehow it didn't seem so goofy then.

Yes, actually it did.
posted by rushmc at 5:54 PM on October 1, 2002


Or perhaps the even more crucial question--why are so many non-religious people so bigoted?

This is just another in a long line of not "non-religious" posts, but blatantly anti-Christian front page posts, which point and sneer.

To get an idea of the backwardness that passes for criticism on some front page posts at metafilter, try to put any ethnic, racial, or religious group in this sentence and see how it sounds to you:

Why are (..........) so goofy?
posted by hama7 at 5:57 PM on October 1, 2002


Yes, declaim, it did. One should separate her motivations from her actions and consider both equally.

Her intention, as profusely stated and defended by her many times over, of every action, every mouth fed, every hand held, was to spread not Christianity, but Catholicism.

So you can consider the consequences of her actions--- helping people, comforting people-- as good and right and benefical at the same time you condemn and/or openly laugh at her reasons for doing so.

Never mind open attacks on the Catholic Church, that's just too easy.
posted by xmutex at 5:58 PM on October 1, 2002


She made life a little more tolerable for an unfathomable amount of people living in hell on Earth.

Yes, a little. She gave the dying poor aspirin and let them expire on blankets on the floor, instead of in the street, while she funneled the (literally) millions of dollars she raised directly to the Catholic Church.

The suffering of the poor is not beautiful.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 6:04 PM on October 1, 2002


Her intention, as profusely stated and defended by her many times over, of every action, every mouth fed, every hand held, was to spread not Christianity, but Catholicism.
xmutex: Catholics are Christians. Your sentence makes no sense, if I am reading it correctly.
posted by internal at 6:07 PM on October 1, 2002


I suggest you do a bit of research on the meaning of the term "bigoted" so that you don't misuse it so egregiously in future.

bigot: a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices

And just how, rushmc, do you propose that I misused the term, given the sentiments I quoted?
posted by ChrisTN at 6:14 PM on October 1, 2002


internal: I meant to point out that her effort was not to spready any genuine, overarching spiritual brightness of Christianity (if there is any), but very specific to spreading the soulless dogma of Catholicism.

so thanks.
posted by xmutex at 6:19 PM on October 1, 2002


actually Catholics are a subset of Christians. What the poster meant (the way I read it) was that she was being specific by spreading the Catholic version.

I do have a question-I have read about her helping the poor and the dying, but never once have I heard of her (or her coworkers) mentioning Jesus to these people. Did she in fact share her faith with the poor, or simply care for their physical needs? I guess I have always wondered about that-if anyone could enlighten me I would appreciate it.
posted by konolia at 6:20 PM on October 1, 2002


The suffering of the poor is not beautiful.

Suffering is not beautiful, period. We would all do well to seek to alleviate it when we can.

I meant to point out that her effort was not to spready any genuine, overarching spiritual brightness of Christianity (if there is any), but very specific to spreading the soulless dogma of Catholicism.

bigot: a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices
posted by ChrisTN at 6:23 PM on October 1, 2002


HEY CHRISTN, SHUT UP.

Catholicism is rooted in dogma; it's heavily follow-the-rules-or-be-punished oriented. Any rational, objective observation of the Church, its heirarchy, and its general MO will lead you this conclusion.

It doesn't make me a bigot or intolerant to point this out.

Religion reduced to a complex scheme of rules and systems is devoid of anything pure or meaningful.

But what do I know, I'm a bigot.
posted by xmutex at 6:26 PM on October 1, 2002


xmutex, if Mother Teresa didn't believe with her whole soul in the 'soulless dogma of Catholicism', she never would have done anything to help those people - why bother?

Her motivation (or intention) directly led her to do good for others, so you can't separate them in reality. All you can say is that you don't understand (which btw you are doing quite well - what's up with the acid pen towards Catholicism?)

The dogma is whole reason to believe in a Church - I wouldn't trust a church without one!
posted by declaim at 6:28 PM on October 1, 2002


declaim-- Be that as it may, you can and should look at her motivations and actions to some degree separate, especially in terms of judging her character. If i give you a meal because I want you to know good my new company is, i may be doing something nice (the consequence), but hell, I'm still selfish and persoanlly motivated (the intent). i think it's a pretty reasonable assessment.

As far as Churches are concerned, I always though the best Church was one that nurtured its parishoners, cultivated their minds, and helped them pursue their spiritual goal, not, as Catholicism does, push them there with rules.

But, you know, IMHO.
posted by xmutex at 6:33 PM on October 1, 2002


hahahahahahahaha. invisible people. hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.
posted by Satapher at 6:39 PM on October 1, 2002


"why is religion so goofy?"

Because it invites people to make things up interpret events without adhering to things like common sense, physical laws, or corroborating evidence. How could it not get goofy? Really. I'm asking.

Do you really think God would intervene if The Church got it wrong, or just made stuff up? No way. If he cared about crap like that half of us would be pillars of salt.

Hence - It's goofy because God likes it that way.
posted by y6y6y6 at 6:45 PM on October 1, 2002



posted by quonsar at 7:01 PM on October 1, 2002


As far as Churches are concerned, I always though the best Church was one that nurtured its parishoners, cultivated their minds, and helped them pursue their spiritual goal, not, as Catholicism does, push them there with rules.

There seems to be a bizarrely Protestant flavor to this critique, such as it is. While it's hard to deny that to an outsider (I'm Jewish) the Church hierarchy looks pretty bureaucratic, most lay Catholics of my acquaintance would say that they don't experience their religion the way you're describing it. Orthodox and Hasidic Jews, who have traditionally been accused of being rule-bound--"legalistic" is the term--would similarly argue that they don't experience the rules as something oppressive or "pushing."
posted by thomas j wise at 7:18 PM on October 1, 2002


xmutex: telling people to shut up? really...

Anyhoo, even though I'm a practicing Catholic and I definitely get the sense of being nurtured, cultivated and spiritually fulfilled in the Church, I'm sure you know best.

And I'm sure your moral high horse is quite a few pegs above Mother Theresa's.

PS: Catholic trivia, sainthood really only means that the beatified is really, 100%, no fooling in heaven. The bit about miracles is just for proof for us back in the land of the living.
posted by turbodog at 7:36 PM on October 1, 2002


I have to do it. I apologize in advance.

My karma ran over your dogma.
posted by yhbc at 7:41 PM on October 1, 2002


Religion goofy? Probably not.
Jesus appearing in a tortilla? Probably not.
But what about the evidence that's not so easy to deny? I'm not saying I believe it.
It's just food for thought.
posted by SimStupid at 7:49 PM on October 1, 2002


Dang. A clever joke gone awry...
Letr me try that again: It's just food for thought.
posted by SimStupid at 7:51 PM on October 1, 2002


how can they know what cured the cancer if they can barely figure out what causes cancer?
posted by trioperative at 7:53 PM on October 1, 2002


i notice the cnn story refers to it repeatedly as Kolkata, not Calcutta. When did this become the "accepted" western translation? Is this a Beijing/Peking thing?

In other words did the name change or has there just been a linguistic "clarification"?

On the topic at hand, Mother Teresa was, in my opinion, a wonderful, beautiful, and inspiring person. Whether the catholic hierarchy proclaims her a saint or a saint bernard means very little to me or my memory of her.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:54 PM on October 1, 2002


To get an idea of the backwardness that passes for criticism on some front page posts at metafilter, try to put any ethnic, racial, or religious group in this sentence and see how it sounds to you

Logical fallacy. Critiquing (or even criticizing) someone for their ideas is not comparable to doing the same based upon such random or trivial considerations as their skin color or where they happen to be born. The exception in your sentence ("one of these things is not like the others"), of course, is "religious group," since religion is always chosen (albeit not always rigorously). This is pretty basic stuff, really.

Ex. It is perfectly appropriate to condemn Saddam Hussein because of his ideas and behaviors, but not because of the brownness of his skin.
posted by rushmc at 8:00 PM on October 1, 2002


tootle!
posted by sklero at 8:02 PM on October 1, 2002


My parents practised "extreme" catholicism, though I have since vehemently eschewed religion myself. They followed the quaint tradition of naming their children after saints.

Except me. They named me after a not-quite-there-yet beatific gal who was one rung away from sainthood by virtue of not having racked up enough miracles. One of my sisters was gravely ill in her childhood and the nuns novena-ed like crazy thinking she might be the miracle that would earn my namesake a halo. My sister recovered, but it was deemed a pedestrian recovery. That final miracle never happened.

Ah, the ignominy of having a saintless namesake! It probably relegated me to some type of pagan baby-hood status. I will no doubt be doomed to eons in limbo or purgatory for this lapse on my parents part. C'mon you ex catholics, can I get a witness?
posted by madamjujujive at 8:03 PM on October 1, 2002


Mother Teresa was, in my opinion, a wonderful, beautiful, and inspiring person.

And you are certainly entitled to that opinion. Just be aware that others found much of her philosophy, as well as the realities of the outcomes of her behavior, repugnant, and in some cases, contemptible. To a large extent, she was a media-created celebrity, and as with all such, the gap between image and individual was rather broad. The Catholic church has a long history of creating "saints" to fill their own need for "celebrities" (dead celebrities being much easier to control and use to attain one's own ends--as we will see soon with computer-generated recreations of dead actors in new film roles); in some ways the church anticipated many modern media techniques for influencing the masses.
posted by rushmc at 8:07 PM on October 1, 2002


One good thing to come from her passing is that all the problem plagued locations on Earth are now valid once again. While she was alive, it seemed that the ONLY place any notable person would visit to 'help the needy' was the one square mile that she was in. (i.e. Jerry Brown, etc...)
How amazing it was to think that all the worlds problems had been solved but for her own little corner of misery.
posted by HTuttle at 8:15 PM on October 1, 2002


Blaming random coincidences on divine and miraculous intervention weakens the credibility of Catholicism in general. Nobody doubts that Mother Theresa was a nice lady, but if you believe she could cure cancer, you've got a screw loose.
posted by Hildago at 8:16 PM on October 1, 2002


Ynoxas: "Kolkata" is part of a trend in India of "nativizing" names of cities (like "Mumbai" for Bombay) to curry favor with the ultra-Hindu voter base -- it goes along with the attacks on Muslims and the saber-rattling over Kashmir. (Note to Indian MeFites -- I do not favor Pakistan, and I know there's been just as much saber-rattling from the other side.) As I have said elsewhere (re "Myanma" vs. "Burma"), I do not understand why American writers and editors cave in to these demands; we're just as entitled to call the largest city in India "Bombay" as Spanish speakers are to call the largest city in the U.S. "Nueva York."
posted by languagehat at 8:17 PM on October 1, 2002


Since it is no longer permissible to disparage any single faith or creed, let us start disparaging all of them. To be clear: an ideology is a belief system with an inadequate basis in reality; a religion is a belief system with no basis in reality whatever. Religious belief is without reason and without dignity, and its record is near-universally dreadful." - V. S. Naipaul, Nobel Laureate
posted by rushmc at 8:23 PM on October 1, 2002


Recockulous: what could you expect from a secular humanist, surely not a valid and unbiased discussion?

[Warning - I'm going off on a tangent in this post.]

Well, I'm a secular humanist myself, and I like to consider myself reasonably unbiased with respect to religion.

Actually, I find religion to be extremely interesting. I'm currently reading Paul Tillich's The Dynamics of Faith, which I highly recommend. Tillich was probably the dominant Protestant theologian of the 20th century, and it's easy to see why after reading this book. His most interesting idea is probably his claim that anyone who takes the Bible literally is guilty of idolatry.

And as for Catholicism being a religion of dogma, well, kinda. But, as a friend of mine in the priesthood points out, it is the duty of every Catholic to decide for him/herself what to believe on certain issues and to disagree with church dogma when the need is felt. This particular priest supports female priests, married priests, same-sex marriages, contraception, open communion, and a host of other counter-dogma ideas. But he's still a Catholic priest.
posted by UKnowForKids at 9:21 PM on October 1, 2002


And as for Catholicism being a religion of dogma, well, kinda. But, as a friend of mine in the priesthood points out, it is the duty of every Catholic to decide for him/herself what to believe on certain issues and to disagree with church dogma when the need is felt.
Hence the next big Council of the Catholic Church. Personally, I am very conservative and have a polar belief of just about everything your Priest friend points out for reasons to long to go into and are way off topic. The CC has survived for the last 2000 years not by submitting to society's whims (which is exactly what the liberal views are), but by standing on Her own leg. Alas, if ANY of those more liberal ideas (yes, there is a liberal/conservative views w/in the Church), it will most likely be marriage within Priesthood that changes (there is not a chance in hell we'll see women in Priesthood and same-sex marriage OK'd in our life time).
posted by jmd82 at 9:48 PM on October 1, 2002


Any bio on the lady? Was she married, had husband, kids, etc.?
posted by semmi at 10:24 PM on October 1, 2002


When it comes down to it, I think a great deal of Catholics use what they've learned in the church to become better people. It just depends on how one sees the Bible — a tool for learning or a doctrine? I mean, anyone who takes the complete Book of Leviticus seriously, is a bit off.

Personally, Catholicism has made me a more compassionate person, instilling in me tolerence and a certain set of morals. But then there's some Catholic laws I just ignore, because I cannot in good conscience agree with them...

similar to laws against smoking pot, I suppose.
posted by BirdD0g at 10:32 PM on October 1, 2002


i think some people are confused and making generalizations about the catholic faith. you hear about so often and see catholics portrayed in the media as strange little rule obeying robots that are terrified of hell. it's not always like that. i was fortunate enough to be taught at some really progressive catholic churches while growing up. i was not taught a laundry list of things i should *not* do to be a good person (note i said person, not catholic) but rather suggestions were made as to things i *could* do to be a good person. the ability to put yourself in another's shoes, self evaluation, the golden rule, christ's life as an example.

non catholics and even a lot of catholics *so* completely misunderstand the concept of saints. i know many protestant faiths have "prayer circles" where members gather to use their combined force to try and effect change via prayer. the idea of saints is no different. think of it as a celestial prayer group. you ask them to pray *with* you or to intercede on your behalf. you do not pray *to* them or ask them to answer a prayer on their own. catholics are never taught that a saint can answer a prayer themselves.

a common question in response to this is - "why should you have to have someone intercede on your behalf? wouldn't a loving god just hear your prayer?" in return i would ask then why a conventional "prayer circle" is necessary. it goes back to the bible verse "whenever two or more are gathered in my name". the gathering doesn't have to happen in the physical plane.

saints are people that through their actions proved themselves to be exceptionally good people. a "miracle" performed is a way that the church determines that indeed, their assessment is correct. a kind of "thumbs up" from god. there are also other ways the church may determine whether someone is a saint. some saint's bodies do not decompose. generally most martyrs become saints.

it is important to note that mother teresa did not cure the woman's cancer. the church believes that the cancer was cured by god on behalf of mother teresa. it is not as simple as the woman calling up the vatican and saying, "hey, my cancer was cured by mother teresa." the church has strict criteria for determining whether a miracle has occurred. the second miracle is intended to confirm that a human mistake was not made assessing the first.

i can't say i'm the best person i can be or that i adhere to everything the church teaches but i don't think i could survive if i wasn't able to entertain the possibility that miracles occur, meaningful coincidences happen, and that life is more than happenstance biology.

in conclusion, i find it hard to believe that mother teresa funneled money to the church via her charity. i can't find an online reference to it, but i know that she often admonished vatican officials for their opulent lifestyles and once sold a limo sent for her private use and gave the money to the poor. you don't make the sacrifices she did and live the way she did to advance the agenda of an organization. you do what you do to inspire people with your example and bring them to christ because of a love of christ.
posted by centrs at 11:17 PM on October 1, 2002


you don't make the sacrifices she did and live the way she did to advance the agenda of an organization. you do what you do to inspire people with your example and bring them to christ because of a love of christ.

I agree. All the cynics can't believe that some people are actually genuine.
posted by SpaceCadet at 12:51 AM on October 2, 2002


why is religion so goofy?

usually we get much more interesting, smarter trolls, here on MeFi.
This kind of "argument", instead, is very, very lame

You know xmutex, as others have pointed out, the history of religion is so intellectually complex, and all the different religions gave -- even to non-believers -- such interesting examples of accomplishment (in Philosophy, Art, Ethics, etcetera) that your wall-to-wall attack really is laughable

Did the Catholic Church ever asked the faithful not to undergo cancer treatments, and pray Mother Theresa instead? I never read this anywhere -- you probably mistake Catholicism for Christian Science
You don't like MT? Cool
You're appalled and disgusted by the priests who raped children? We all are. But it's a scandal about men, not about ideas
Slamming religion like you do is really lazy -- as I said, you're not even a good troll
posted by matteo at 1:26 AM on October 2, 2002


Logical fallacy. Critiquing (or even criticizing) someone for their ideas is not comparable to doing the same based upon such random or trivial considerations as their skin color or where they happen to be born.

Have you ever heard of Jews? And "goofy" is not a valid "critique", last I checked.
posted by hama7 at 3:47 AM on October 2, 2002


Ooooo, a piss fight between atheists and Catholics (with assorted others thrown in for good measure)... fun fun fun. Where do I get my foam "we're #1" sign?

C'mon folks, what are you trying to accomplish here? Judging from the vehemence exhibited, I'd say we're all pretty well established in our ways of thinking. I doubt a single Catholic will suddenly realize their religion is goofy based on this thread. Neither will a single atheist accept the Church through this miracle. So what's the point?

I'm atheist, and I'm far from an idiot. I have atheist friends who are also intelligent, and none of them became atheist as an act of rebellion, but as the result of a careful examination of their beliefs.
But I also have friends from various religions (Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Hindi, Mormon), and they are all intelligent people. Each of them has examined their beliefs as well (although I must admit it's curious each has stayed with the belief system of their parents). Since I respect them, I respect their beliefs, or at least their belief in their beliefs.

The problem isn't in one group or the other, but in those individuals unwilling to accept the choices of others.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 4:36 AM on October 2, 2002


xmutex, using "ALL CAPS" while telling someone to "SHUT UP" is not really the best way to engage in intelligent dialogue (particularly when it's your post).

That said, I consider myself an agnostic, so I'm not coming at this from a pro-Christian or -Catholic perspective. But there's absolutely no question that some of these posts -- beginning with xmutex's "goofy" label -- suggest anti-Christian bigotry (sorry, rushmc, notwithstanding your condescension, such a thing does exist).

Can you imagine the uproar if someone submitted a front page post about an Islamic "saint," and used that as a springboard to characterize the entire religion as "goofy"?
posted by pardonyou? at 6:54 AM on October 2, 2002


why is religion so goofy?

Well, partly because those who accept faith based beliefs cannot understand the ramifications of the following equation:

miracle==no scientific explanation==(insert ANY non-scientific explanation here)

See, since faith based beliefs can not be proven, they are all equally valid, (which is of course to say not at all) and therefore, a complex faith based explanation with a long history (i.e. Catholicism, etc.) is no closer to the way the real world operates than ANY RANDOM EXPLANATION. So when some guy tells me that his imaginary sky-daddy wrote a book that contains the truth, then yeah, I generally think that guy is intellectually lazy. Either that, or he's just too uncomfortable with the notion that there are a LOT of things we don't understand yet. But hey, we're getting there through the careful application of science reason. Coupling openmindedness to unflinching skepticism doesn't hurt either.

Another reason religion is so goofy, is that religion wants to make the facts fit the explanation rather than make the explanation fit the facts. The example that comes to mind quickest is creation "science" versus Evolution Science. I think this aspect of religion will be the primary cause of its impending downfall. Information is accumulating exponentially, and science is always willing to accept new data, crunch the numbers and formulate a new hypothesis. Science can do this rapidly and without hesitation or damage to its reputation. Religion, on the other hand, is not so flexible. Due to their supposed moral authority, religious systems are based on laws that change so slowly that most generations don't notice. Otherwise, believers would easily notice the hypocrisy inherent in such a system and reject it. I believe that as we accumulate knowledge ever faster, religion just won't be able to keep up. Science will explain more and more and more, and religion will explain less and less and less until POOF, it's gone. Unless the fanatics and zealots wig out.

"Were you ever tempted by the lie,
That there's an answer in the sky?
- Echo and the Bunnymen
posted by Brewer at 7:43 AM on October 2, 2002


xmutex, can you please insult another billion people? BTW, you're in the minority. As in abnormal. Perhaps some therapy would help?
posted by timbley at 8:04 AM on October 2, 2002


people should really rethink the whole "if you believe in a religion, you buy the whole package" line of reasoning....most people in the US (and this is in the article mentioned above by homunculus) practice a "cafeteria-style" religion--accepting what they find of value and not blindly believing every single aspect of their religion....my family calls it "one from column A, two from column B"..and it works for many many people....we all cobble together an individual set of beliefs (whether it's based on religion or not)...
posted by amberglow at 8:06 AM on October 2, 2002


I agree. All the cynics can't believe that some people are actually genuine.

I don't think people question her sincerity so much as her beliefs. She considered it more important that people die in god's grace than that they die without pain. She refused to spend money for comfortable beds and facilities, or pain relievers, or heaven forfend, on preventive measures or research to cure disease. Medicine was meddling in god's domain. Her focus was on the soul, not the body, and she considered suffering noble and christ-like. So she did not want to ease the suffering of her "patients" - she only wanted to teach them that this suffering brought them closer to god. She had bucketloads of money that she would not spend - ultimately it went back to the church for whatever purposes they had.

To those of us who don't believe in souls, this is indeed a sad situation.
posted by mdn at 8:16 AM on October 2, 2002


a religion is a belief system with no basis in reality whatever.

For people who actually believe for reasons other than fear of damnation or force of habit, this is simply not true.

For me, it is far simpler to believe that God exists than to make up "rational" explanations for my experiences.

Religious belief is without reason and without dignity

People who do not know what my religious beliefs are nor my motives for believing them, are not equipped to judge how much reason I have.

And no other person can ever dictate to me how much dignity I have.

and its record is near-universally dreadful

I am a happier, healthier, more fulfilled person as a direct result of my religion. I know several others for whom this is also true. I don't know of anyone who has been made worse physically, emotionally, financially, morally, or socially because of their religion, aside from Scientologists.
posted by Foosnark at 8:17 AM on October 2, 2002


mdnâ??

Do you believe that when we die there is nothing? I only ask because I've come to a conclusion that this is literally impossible to imagine, as it requires one to imagine not having an imagination, which is in itself an impossibility. To say we have no souls is to say you haven't thought about it. How can a person think about non-existence when complete non-existence is by definition unimaginable?

This is a really interesting subject.
posted by BirdD0g at 8:31 AM on October 2, 2002


Foosnark,

For me, it is far simpler to believe that God exists than to make up "rational" explanations for my experiences.

Surely the belief that God exists is a "rational" explanation?

and its record is near-universally dreadful
I don't know of anyone who has been made worse ;physically, emotionally, financially, morally, or socially because of their religion, aside from Scientologists.


um, how many people do you think have died or suffered as a result of others acting in the name of their religion?
posted by jonvaughan at 8:32 AM on October 2, 2002


My above post was directed at you, mda. Grrr...the evil spellchecker got me again.
posted by BirdD0g at 8:35 AM on October 2, 2002


BirdDog,

I hadn't thought about it but, for the record, I can quite easily imagine death being the complete and total end. This being the complete and total end though means that there is nothing to imagine beyond that point.
posted by jonvaughan at 8:41 AM on October 2, 2002


I think I can solve this big argument with one statement that will satisfy all parties involved:

Mother Teresa is a cunt.
posted by interrobang at 8:50 AM on October 2, 2002


jonvaughn–

imag•ine: 1 : to form a mental image of (something not present)

No, you cannot imagine it. You may believe that's what happens, but no one can imagine it, as it requires one to imagine nothing. A person simply can't imagine not having an imagination.
posted by BirdD0g at 9:09 AM on October 2, 2002


Do you believe that when we die there is nothing? I only ask because I've come to a conclusion that this is literally impossible to imagine, as it requires one to imagine not having an imagination, which is in itself an impossibility

I find imagining "nothing" far easier than imagining a big, sometimes friendly, sometimes-angry-if-it-cheweth-the-cud father-figure that's everywhere.

Seriously, can't we come up with a "god" that doesn't act like either an abusive parent or a tantrum-riddled five year old? The god of the bible is a serious dipshit. I know how to fight him. It's easy: iron chariots.
posted by interrobang at 9:20 AM on October 2, 2002


This is an interesting interview given by Christopher Hitchens about Mother Theresa. All that money raised, and such a poor standard of care? Hmmm.
posted by salmacis at 9:21 AM on October 2, 2002


This particular priest supports female priests, married priests, same-sex marriages, contraception, open communion, and a host of other counter-dogma ideas. But he's still a Catholic priest.

Only because he has not been open and honest enough about those beliefs to be excommunicated.
posted by rushmc at 9:31 AM on October 2, 2002


Since I respect them, I respect their beliefs

It strikes me that this is precisely backwards.
posted by rushmc at 9:32 AM on October 2, 2002


No, you cannot imagine it. You may believe that's what happens, but no one can imagine it, as it requires one to imagine nothing.

So? What is your point here? Are you now assuming the role of a god yourself, to claim that nothing can happen that you can't imagine? What hubris!

Cessation is a commonly observed process.
posted by rushmc at 9:33 AM on October 2, 2002


I hadn't thought about it but, for the record, I can quite easily imagine death being the complete and total end.

Good, fine. But surely you can see that such imagining is a statement of faith. You believe that death is the total end without any sort of scientific or rational proof for such belief. And that's OK, at least here in the good ol' U.S. of A.

Information is accumulating exponentially, and science is always willing to accept new data, crunch the numbers and formulate a new hypothesis. Science can do this rapidly and without hesitation or damage to its reputation. [...] I believe that as we accumulate knowledge ever faster, religion just won't be able to keep up. Science will explain more and more and more, and religion will explain less and less and less until POOF, it's gone.

Do some reasearch on the history of scientific thought. Science is not always ready to accept new data that easily; very often it takes years or generations to be willing to accept a new and more complete theory, no matter how much evidence is lining up to support that theory. Scientists have egos that are every bit as big as religious leaders, and they will often fight to protect their own views of the universe, evidence be damned. It's human nature, I think. And, for the record, the demise of religion has been predicted ever since the dawn of the Enlightenment, even though it shows no sign of slowing down yet.
posted by ChrisTN at 9:41 AM on October 2, 2002


It strikes me that this is precisely backwards.

rushmc, please note the rest of the sentence ("...or at least their belief in their beliefs."). It's respect for the fact they believe what they do believe, regardless of my personal views on the matter. And for the record, yes I think anyone who believes in dieties falls into the same category as people who believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and woodland faeries. But I must respect that they have made that decision for themselves, that is, as it applies to their life, and not attack them for it.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 9:58 AM on October 2, 2002


it shows no sign of slowing down yet.

I beg to differ. When humans lived in caves, we believed gods and other mystical creatures ruled every aspect of our lives. Why does the sun go across the sky? What makes it rain? Where do babies come from? These were all questions only "religion" could answer, and humans created a pantheon of gods to answer them. But slowly, over the centuries, we've learned the answers to most questions, eliminating the need for a whole host of heavenly spirits. In the past 200 years we've eliminated the creation of the earth and all the creatures on it from the divine. There are few questions religion alone can now answer, such as "what is our purpose?", "where did the universe come from?" and "what happens when we die?" Eventually science will answer most of these questions as well, further reducing the need for a god figure. The end result will either be a religion that answers "the one unknowable question" (whatever it might be), or no religion whatsoever.

ChrisTN, I would suggest you do some research into the history of religious thought. It's been going downhill for thousands of years compared to science. Sure, you can find short periods of relative calm (and equal periods of stagnation in science), but the long view gives a more accurate picture.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 10:14 AM on October 2, 2002


In the past 200 years we've eliminated the creation of the earth and all the creatures on it from the divine.

Who has done that? Even the most complete evolutionary biology that I've read does not claim to know the answer to any "first cause" for life on earth. (And no, I'm not a 'creation scientist' by any means; I just mean to point out that science has not eliminated religion from the equation, it has merely reshaped the questions a great deal.)

In fact, I have done a great deal of research into the history of religious thought, GhostintheMachine. My point is that in the past few centuries, if science was truly to be the death knell for religion, it sure is taking its sweet time about it. All polls show an overwhelming majority of Americans (not to mention people in other parts of the world) still believe in a god/deity/higher power of some sort. In other words, most people still seem to find a completely rationalistic, godless philosophy of the universe to be unsatisfying on some level. For science to make great strides in its understanding of the universe does not automatically mean that religion will be unseated from its place in understanding the universe. People are just getting more creative in their synthesis of the two systems.
posted by ChrisTN at 10:27 AM on October 2, 2002


But I must respect that they have made that decision for themselves, that is, as it applies to their life, and not attack them for it.

I would say that you should respect their right to hold their beliefs, but that there is NO compulsion to respect the beliefs themselves. And it is inescapable that a person's beliefs will affect your opinion of them, to some degree. If I meet a 35-yr-old woman who truly believes in the Easter Bunny, I would have to be quite insane not to take that into account in my assessment of her and her rationality.
posted by rushmc at 10:41 AM on October 2, 2002


All polls show an overwhelming majority of Americans (not to mention people in other parts of the world) still believe in a god/deity/higher power of some sort.

My understanding is that these numbers are quite different in Europe. America was settled a relatively short time ago by religious fanatics; it would be a lot to expect that there wouldn't be some holdover yet.

In other words, most people still seem to find a completely rationalistic, godless philosophy of the universe to be unsatisfying on some level.

And how is that the fault of the philosophy, rather than the people unwilling to accept it?
posted by rushmc at 10:46 AM on October 2, 2002


And how is that the fault of the philosophy, rather than the people unwilling to accept it?

I don't believe I used the word "fault" at all in my comment. You seem to assume that I am as intent on attacking your beliefs as you are on attacking mine. This is not the case; I am far from being anti-scientific or anti-rationalist. My point is that a great number of people still find religion (in all its diverse forms) to be useful in uniting them in community and organizing their world views. Perhaps our goal should not be how to eliminate religion, but how religious and secular people alike can learn from one another.
posted by ChrisTN at 10:54 AM on October 2, 2002


What is your point here? Are you now assuming the role of a god yourself, to claim that nothing can happen that you can't imagine? What hubris!

Hubris?! I think you misunderstood. I'm not saying that I'm a god, that there even is a God, or anything else after death for that matter. It could very well be the ultimate end. However, in order to imagine there being nothing, one has to, by definition, visualize it. A person cannot visualize being nothing, because there is no instrument (body, mind, or soul) to do the visualizing if you are nothing. Imagination requires consciousness. "Nothing" would be a complete lack of consciousness. It cannot be imagined! I did say, however, that it can be believed. Does anyone understand what I'm saying?!
posted by BirdD0g at 10:57 AM on October 2, 2002


My point is that a great number of people still find religion (in all its diverse forms) to be useful in uniting them in community and organizing their world views.

And my point is that while it may sometimes be useful to base such utilitarian things on falsehoods, it is immoral to do so.
posted by rushmc at 10:59 AM on October 2, 2002


However, in order to imagine there being nothing, one has to, by definition, visualize it.

Why? I can imagine there being 10 dimensions, structures of higher mathematics, the processes of thought, but I can't visualize any of them.
posted by rushmc at 11:01 AM on October 2, 2002


ChrisTM

As ~ 16% of the world defines themselves as without religion vs. < 5 % a century ago, I don't think you're data is quite right. Further, nearly every biology book has a section on genesis on Earth (exogenesis?). It's still controversial, but there are papers explaining how it *could* have happened.

I don't think the argument about religion is that it's 'unsatisfying' to have none, either. I think the argument is simply about its truth. As a Christian, you deny the faith-based belief system of the other 3.5 billion non-Christian theists in the world. Why is that?

About Mother Teresa, though, I'm sure she was an all-around decent person who did her best to make death more comfortable for the poorest of the poor. She also refused to give modern medicine to them despite her financial resources. She's certainly not a bad person - she's got a kinder heart than near everyone I know - but I wouldn't say she's a saint, even by the secular meaning of the word.
posted by Kevs at 11:03 AM on October 2, 2002


BirdD0g, what makes you think that what happens after you die is different from what happened before you were born?
posted by callmejay at 11:05 AM on October 2, 2002


And my point is that while it may sometimes be useful to base such utilitarian things on falsehoods, it is immoral to do so.

Religion, as such, is not demonstrably false (just as it is not demonstrably true). Are you implying that it is more moral to deny a person a religious world view if they choose to accept one? It seems to me that you are questioning religious liberty, a moral concept if ever there was one.
posted by ChrisTN at 11:10 AM on October 2, 2002


Uknowforkids

To those of us who don't believe in souls, this is indeed a sad situation. -mdn

The idea of Mother Teresa being a true saint that lived in our time is a threat to secular humanism. It only proves thier cause to discredit her.

" A conviction that dogmas, ideologies and traditions, whether religious, political or social, must be weighed and tested by each individual and not simply accepted on faith."

She is a threat to the secular humanist, because she was motivated by something other than her own human nature and logical reasoning to do good and they can't explain that. So, it must be discredited. Her motives have to be looked at and twisted. Such that, she wasnt really trying to live in the image of Christ, only bring wealth to the evil corrupt Catholic church. It has to be proven that she had some alterior motive besides her love for god.

an interesting interview given by Christopher Hitchens about Mother Theresa. All that money raised, and such a poor standard of care? Hmmm.

She didnt ask for that money. People gave it to her because they believed in what she was doing and her cause. She gave it to what she believed in, the Catholic Church. Why is that so wrong? Because the Catholic church is so flawed? Human beings are flawed too and that doesnt make them an unworthy cause.

How amazing it was to think that all the worlds problems had been solved but for her own little corner of misery.

Why does it have to be all or nothing? The woman helped people and then she is accused of not doing enough? People who have done less for humanity accuse HER.
posted by Recockulous at 11:13 AM on October 2, 2002


why is religion so goofy?

because it was invented by man, and man is goofy. from my perspective god's got nothing to do with religion whatsoever.

To those of us who don't believe in souls, this is indeed a sad situation.

and possibly even sadder for those of us who do believe in souls. i was a teenager when i learned just how helpful MT was to those she "cared" for and was quite angry and disappointed. my father, who firmly believes in god and the soul, explained that she wasn't a bad person, just terribly misguided. i've never been able to look that kindly on her methods. the soul, the body, and the mind don't appear to function separately; in a place like calcutta it seems all that much more cruel to support one over the others.
posted by t r a c y at 11:13 AM on October 2, 2002


You have got to be trolling at this point, rushmc. If not, please don't nitpick at semantics. Imagination requires thought, perhaps? I don't know, rushmc, you're too set on not understanding what I'm trying to say, and it's becoming pointless and rather annoying to argue.

What I'm trying to say is very easy to understand, and is completely non-controversial. The moment you imagine "nothing", you become something, thus "nothing" fails to exist. Yeah, we can all imagine certain things "being", like 10 dimensions, but we can't imagine not being, because we have to exist in order to imagine.
posted by BirdD0g at 11:15 AM on October 2, 2002


Further, nearly every biology book has a section on genesis on Earth (exogenesis?). It's still controversial, but there are papers explaining how it *could* have happened.

Exactly. My point was that there is no scientific theory on the genesis of life on earth that is nearly as well accepted as, say, the general theory of evolution. Until there is more agreement on it, it seems improper to claim that science has eliminated the need for religious thinking about such questions, as was claimed earlier.

I don't think the argument about religion is that it's 'unsatisfying' to have none, either.

I didn't claim that it was in all cases. I said that most people in the world find it to be so.

As a Christian, you deny the faith-based belief system of the other 3.5 billion non-Christian theists in the world.

No I don't. Please don't make assumptions about what I do or do not believe until I have shared that with you.
posted by ChrisTN at 11:19 AM on October 2, 2002


If not, please don't nitpick at semantics. . .
(followed by)
What I'm trying to say is very easy to understand, and is completely non-controversial. The moment you imagine "nothing", you become something, thus "nothing" fails to exist. Yeah, we can all imagine certain things "being", like 10 dimensions, but we can't imagine not being, because we have to exist in order to imagine.
Nitpicky semantics are the basis of this argument.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 11:20 AM on October 2, 2002


Callmejay, it very well could be the same as prior to birth. My argument is not religious, it's extremely scientific and I'm making no assumptions about what is or isn't. I'm just saying that a person can't possibly imagine what it's like to be complete nothingness.
posted by BirdD0g at 11:20 AM on October 2, 2002


I've been cornered. But thanks to my second amendment right to bear arms, I think I can blast my way out of this. Prepare for nothingness, dissenters. Wait a second, don't tell me someone here disagrees that I should be able to possess firearms... Oh, what a world!

PSTail, you're right. Rushmc and I are attempting to get on the same page semantically. Have you ever have an argument with someone who disagrees with what you're saying, but you don't disagree with them. I don't want to
"agree to disagree" when we could be "agreeing to agree." Stupid English language.
posted by BirdD0g at 11:37 AM on October 2, 2002


she was motivated by something other than her own human nature and logical reasoning to do good and they can't explain that.

I don't think this assertion is true at all. On the other hand, it is easily conceivable for someone to be "motivated by something other than [their] own human nature and logical reasoning," and quite explainable. They could be insane, for example.
posted by rushmc at 11:38 AM on October 2, 2002


I'm just saying that a person can't possibly imagine what it's like to be complete nothingness.

I haven't questioned that contention. What I'm saying is that it is not necessary for a person to imagine it for such a state to, in fact, exist.
posted by rushmc at 11:40 AM on October 2, 2002


Nothingness cannot exist because it is, by definition, non-existence. Non-existence cannot be, because it is, by definition, lack of being. You may think that there is "not anything" at the moment of death, but you will never ever be able to comprehend or conceive of what it is or is not.
posted by BirdD0g at 12:21 PM on October 2, 2002


I believe everybody in this thread needs to play a good game of BATTLEGROUND GOD to evaluate just how much sense you're making.
posted by falameufilho at 12:29 PM on October 2, 2002


It's a pretty simple conclusion: If I hold your hand and wipe away your tears as you slowly die from $DISEASE, all the while withholding medicine and science that are well within my financial and social powers which could save you or at least offer you greater comfort, I am not a saint.

In fact, I am a bad, bad person.

Think this thread's been used up.

Beer good. Christianity bad.
posted by xmutex at 12:39 PM on October 2, 2002


So, it must be discredited. Her motives have to be looked at and twisted. Such that, she wasnt really trying to live in the image of Christ, only bring wealth to the evil corrupt Catholic church. It has to be proven that she had some alterior motive besides her love for god.

As I said above, I don't think that's the issue. The point is, she loved god and believed that god loved those who suffer, and therefore took it upon herself to be with the suffering and to teach them the benefit of their suffering. She did not want to alleviate that suffering; she considered it holy. I don't doubt her motives, generally speaking. I just think she was misguided. And people gave her lots of money which could have been used to alleviate suffering but instead went to her church to spread their religion.

Nothingness cannot exist because it is, by definition, non-existence.

yes, fine (are you reading Kant at the momen)t? Philosophically, nothingness cannot "exist" since it by definition is the lack of existence. But we're not talking about "nothingness" existing. We're talking about one consciousness ceasing. That won't cause an incomprehensible void. Things die all the time. We see a plant change into mulch and then into earth. Matter changes; that is its nature.

The same thing happens with the human body (except we often mummify or cremate). Consciousness is the result of extraordinary organization within the brain; we are machines which can experience the world. We take in energy in the form of food and air, and we expel waste. We're very efficient machines, and very smart ones, but I still don't believe there's any need to posit a secondary entity which lives within the body and will continue living afterwards. I don't see how an entity like that would work - where would it get it's energy from? How would it expel waste? It makes more sense to me to accept that I'm mortal than to try ignore the physical laws of the world in hopes of gaining some sort of vague eternity.
posted by mdn at 12:56 PM on October 2, 2002


I think jonvaughan summed up this whole argument -- the secondary one, I mean -- pretty nicely when he said, "I hadn't thought about it but, for the record, I can quite easily imagine death being the complete and total end. This being the complete and total end though means that there is nothing to imagine beyond that point."

Having said that, though, what of "the soul" or the "consciousness"? If it's not some sort of "secondary entity" (for lack of a better word), what happens to its energy when it ceases to "exist" (again, for lack of a better word)? Is it just "used up" at that point? Consumed by the body (and, in turn, consumed by the earth, or burned, or whatever)? What?
posted by *burp* at 1:28 PM on October 2, 2002


Beer good. Christianity bad.

::sigh:: So it really does just come down to:
bigot: a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices
posted by ChrisTN at 1:38 PM on October 2, 2002


Having said that, though, what of "the soul" or the "consciousness"? If it's not some sort of "secondary entity" (for lack of a better word), what happens to its energy when it ceases to "exist" (again, for lack of a better word)? Is it just "used up" at that point? Consumed by the body (and, in turn, consumed by the earth, or burned, or whatever)? What?

Have you ever been unconscious? What happened to your consciousness then? Better yet, where was it before you were born? Unless you believe in reincarnation, the answer is: Nowhere. It hadn't been created yet. If a consciousness can be created, why can't it be destroyed?
posted by Silune at 1:58 PM on October 2, 2002


Having said that, though, what of "the soul" or the "consciousness"? If it's not some sort of "secondary entity" (for lack of a better word), what happens to its energy when it ceases to "exist" (again, for lack of a better word)? Is it just "used up" at that point? Consumed by the body (and, in turn, consumed by the earth, or burned, or whatever)? What?

As I said above, the consciousness is the result of the organization of matter in our brains. We are alive because we take in energy. We cannot live without food and air. There is no "soul" which makes us alive; we are alive because we process calories (and calories are a scientific unit of energy & can be used to describe energy in oil etc as well as food - it's just that what we consider food often has far less "energy" than other substances like oil, because we are far more efficient machines than the ones we build...).

So: the body takes in energy, uses it to keep itself alive, and then eventually just can't keep going - something in the system is unable to process the calories or the oxygen properly. So the person dies. The amazing complexity of our brains and our sensory experiences make it possible for us to comprehend ourselves as separate beings, but that doesn't make it more plausible that there's some kind of indescrible, incomprehensible entity that makes it happen. I mean, can you explain how that would work? How it would be impossible to detect with all the equipment we have, yet able to live eternally and think and communicate (?) and have emotions, etc. If it can do all that, what's the point of the body to start with...
posted by mdn at 2:11 PM on October 2, 2002


Materialism...ain't it great? Fortunately, there are other views.
posted by goethean at 2:37 PM on October 2, 2002


goethean, none of those philosophies are incompatible with what I stated. They're all about the experience of the consciousness. None of them need posit a soul-entity. The first one even seems to be exactly what I was talking about - consciousness as an emergent property of organized matter.
posted by mdn at 2:46 PM on October 2, 2002


xmutex, can you please insult another billion people? BTW, you're in the minority. As in abnormal. Perhaps some therapy would help?

And that's really the pro-religious argument, isn't it?
posted by anildash at 10:10 PM on October 2, 2002


Yeah, "the minority" = "abnormal." That was an argument that I heard over and over again growing up.
posted by kindall at 10:41 PM on October 2, 2002


she was motivated by something other than her own human nature and logical reasoning to do good and they can't explain that.

I'm sure she got something out of it. Call it whatever you like, "a feeling of performing God's work" or "satisfaction from helping others", but don't deny that she got something out of it.
posted by biscotti at 10:56 PM on October 2, 2002


I missed it all. Belatedly:

"My own opinion is that belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence. The more certitude one assumes, the less there is left to think about, and a person sure of everything would never have any need to think about anything and might be considered clinically dead under current medical standards, where absence of brain activity is taken to mean that life has ended."
- Robert Anton Wilson

posted by niceness at 4:26 AM on October 3, 2002


BTW, you're in the minority. As in abnormal. Perhaps some therapy would help?

And that's really the pro-religious argument, isn't it?


Uh, no.


Yeah, "the minority" = "abnormal." That was an argument that I heard over and over again growing up.

Well, technically...
abnormal: deviating from the normal or average : UNUSUAL, EXCEPTIONAL

Hey, this is fun. I hereby deem myself "Dictionary Man"...pointing out misuses of the English language since 2002.
posted by ChrisTN at 6:30 AM on October 3, 2002


« Older War Games? ...  |  They Could Be Packing.... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments