Sunday School

Sunday School December 30th 2018

This topic contains 33 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  Simon Paynton 2 weeks, 3 days ago.

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  • #24977

    Mike Pompeo believes the Rapture will be a real event. He is even happy to work with Tony Perkins to address Christian concerns in the “atheist empire” of China as part of the trade war resolution. Religious voters won’t have a problem with that so long as they keep getting their vile wishes granted.

    Christian baker wants to have his cake and eat it too.

    During the year I linked quite a few articles written by apologists so we could critique their arguments. Let’s end the year with a more subtle one from an intelligent writer and see if you can spot the flaws (if any), in his arguments. The assumption in the headline picture is an obvious one. This is the response from another apologist if you want to have another try!

    This weeks’ Woo: A look at studies into screen time and phone usage.

    Climate Change: A look at solutions to plastic pollution.

    Hawking’s final theory about the Universe will not melt your brain. The Universe could be forever blowing bubbles.

    New Humanist’s Top 10 columns of 2018.

    Religion, the smallpox of our intellect, does not need a replacement.

    Of course there is a war between Science and Religion.

    Do modern beasts live with enough chaos to give birth to dancing stars?

    Can intelligence buy you happiness?

    Atheism and historical awareness.

    Let’s talk about the gorilla in the room.

    Seven ways to argue better.

    Why Social Science needs Evolutionary Theory.

    Long Reads: The epidemic killing thousands of coal miners and the Internet is mostly fake.

    This week I am reading this book: Divided: Why we’re living in an Age of Walls.

    Some photographs taken last week. Some taken by Hubble in 2018.

    We pause to remember: What 2018 taught us about being Human.

    While you are waiting for the kettle to boil…..

    Coffee Break Video:  7 million years of Human Evolution. An evening with Richard Dawkins and Michael Shermer. Top 10 Ted Talks of 2018. Dan Dennett on the future of Biology. My treat of the year was to chat with him later that evening.

    #24978

    Happy New Year to everyone!!

    Happiness is the only good. The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here. The way to be happy is to make others so.

    – Robert Green Ingersoll.

    #24981

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    During the year I linked quite a few articles written by apologists so we could critique their arguments. Let’s end the year with a more subtle one from an intelligent writer and see if you can spot the flaws (if any)

    I think this is a really good (well-written) article.  Mead’s argument for the existence of God seems to be that there is meaning in human existence.  The alternative (without God) is that we are “merely” hardwired to respond to “random biological signals that flash across our neurons in response to evolutionary patterns”.

    That buzz-word, random, is unwarranted and distorts an otherwise coherent statement to remind the reader of chaos and meaninglessness.  What is genuinely “random” is the contingency and chaos of everyday life.

    This is possibly the biggest real difference between atheists and religious people.  For atheists, basically our religion is nature and the natural world.  Nature is enough and where it’s at.

    If the meaning of something is the way that it is relevant to our goals, and our primary goals are thriving, surviving and reproducing, and for humans, cooperation, then of the meaningful things he mentions, all can be traced to evolutionary roots.  Morality – thriving day to day or long term, cooperatively.  Socialising – all four.  Self-sacrifice for one’s group, to the point of death – seems to contradict these goals, but we all die in the end anyway, and “to give up one’s life for one’s fellows is the highest good” (Jesus) – so this is a case of morality taken to the ultimate extreme.  Etc.

    Atheists have all their meaning without needing a God.

    However, it’s easy to lose meaning in life – when we don’t have goals, or when we don’t have means to accomplish them.  If we are aware of the primary evolutionary goals of human beings, then it is easier to find new goals to satisfy us.

    #24982

    _Robert_
    Participant

    RE: Let’s end the year with a more subtle one from an intelligent writer.

    King Herod’s massacre of every child in Bethlehem under the age of two

    Massacre of the Innocents is an unsubstantiated claim not recorded anywhere else and it most certainly would have been. Generally considered to be myth by historians.

    Why do Christians and so many other people believe in an invisible Ruler and Creator of the universe

    Who creator the creator? He may be invisible now, but Moses got a look a “Him”

    Most people believe in God because they feel that life means something

    Not helping your case at all.

    This feeling that there is some meaning to our lives is the basis, I think, not only for the Christian religion and for all religions and mystical experiences; it is the basis for the many noble forms of ethical thought and philosophical reflection found among atheists and agnostics.

    Agreed! Again, not helping your case however.

    Christians answer that question with a distinctive understanding of God; looking into that a little more deeply will help us see how Christians can possibly believe that a baby in a manger could be God—and what they mean when they say it.

    Looking into that a little more deeply is devastating to belief. That is why priests serviced the flock with Latin for centuries and why Martin Luther was a heretic.

    In general a pathetic attempt by someone who appears to be partially agnostic and rational in thought but then makes a blindfolded leap because we “feel” god it must be true. Sad argument, I’m afraid.

     

     

     

     

     

    #24983

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    We can have selfish goals too (as in, unethically selfish), but these don’t seem to provide the same “meaning” that Mead talks about.  We can have solitary goals, and these work fine.  It’s just the unethically selfish part that seems to carry no meaning, or perhaps, negative meaning.

    #24985

    Noel
    Participant

    Thanks for the Sunday School Reg. Happy New Year! Happy New Year all you atheists!!!

    #24986

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    This is the response from another apologist if you want to have another try!

    Here he goes again:

    The concept of justice isn’t just a product of our evolutionary upbringing, a flicker of sensation in our synapses that points to nothing beyond our conditioning or our genes. Justice claims to be a real value, objectively rooted in something beyond human perception, a legitimate demand on our consciences based on the nature of reality.

    This is just disingenuous, from a talented thinker who should know better.  He talks as if we are just TV screens with nothing else going on.  In reality, justice affects the real welfare or otherwise of real people.  We are real biological animals and if you prick us, we bleed.

    Existentialists and others who believe that the universe is ultimately meaningless but who still choose to act as if meaning was real are among the moral heroes of the world, but theists believe there is more to life than the brave but doomed affirmation of meaningless ideals in the face of an idiot, uncaring universe.

    Mead is assuming that we can have no human meaning within a meaningless universe, or that the human meaning we find within a meaningless universe must be worthless.  This is a major flaw in whatever argument he is trying to make.

    Theists are people who have come to believe that meaning really means something, that it all adds up. The transcendence that comes to us in life doesn’t just happen in our heads; it points to the nature of ultimate reality.

    To an atheist, this sounds a lot like mental illness: seeing meaning where there is none.  (we assume)

    For Christians, the core of the meaning they experience in their lives and see around them is love.

    This leads very naturally to the concept of a personal God. Love is a personal quality; there are a lover and a beloved. If this is a universe built on love, then it is a universe of persons, of community, of connection.

    He’s describing the evolutionary pressure to thrive.  That’s good, and these two concepts are mostly interchangeable.

    I will concede a point to Mead: religious people are really good at all this: finding and making meaning, and having a finger on the pulse of where and how to do so.  They’re better than atheists at doing it in my experience (more widely and reliably and explicitly).

    #24988

    Justice claims to be a real value, objectively rooted in something beyond human perception, a legitimate demand on our consciences based on the nature of reality….

    Justice is not making a claim. He, the writer is. There is no god within the nature of reality because our shared objective reality is based upon the natural world while faith is based upon a supernatural explanation for this natural world.

    Something supernatural did not create the natural world. It was us in the natural world that created beliefs about there being a supernatural world. It was born out of our ignorance and fear and tends to recede from our imagination once we become educated enough to think critically about our place in the natural world.

    #24989

    That is what belief does to an otherwise intelligent mind. They engage in a form of special pleading because they “feel” a god must exist. They ask “Why are we here?” rather than “How did we get here?” This is why I claim atheism is a more mature position to hold. I find it pathetic when theists claim that we atheists lack humility yet they believe that the Earth was created with them in mind.

    #24990

    For Christians, the core of the meaning they experience in their lives and see around them is love….

    I call bullshit on this. I regularly see their displays of hatred towards their neighbors.

    I will concede a point to Mead: religious people are really good at all this: finding and making meaning..

    You think?

    #24991

    _Robert_
    Participant

    I will concede a point to Mead: religious people are really good at all this: finding and making meaning..

    They always say “everything happens for a reason”. Well I do agree with this but my “materialistic” take on this is probably not what they are thinking.

    #24992

    Noel
    Participant

    Man Reg, I got halfway through that and had to stop. The bullshit was just flowing out of the margins. As much shit as christians give anyone who does not believe in their mumbo jumbo they sure have a lot of balls calling their particular kind of crazy “Love”.

    I read a book once, forget the name and title, it was written by a Spanish Monk who was sent by King Phillip of Spain to ascertain the progress that the church was having in converting the native americans. He wrote back about atrocities committed by the Kings soldiers and the Spanish immigrants to the new world. His version of the new world was relegated to the Spanish possessions of Puerto Rico, Hispanola, and Cuba. Snatching a baby from a native american woman and slamming it against a wooden pole was what went as normal to the European conquistadors. And it was all in the name of god and the Roman Catholic Church. Love? My Ass!

    #24993

    The Spanish Inquisition lasted over 700 years. All that loving killing in the name of their puny little jealous and selfish imaginary God. Christians today have no idea about it even though they were still loving killing people in Catholic Mexico in the mid 1800’s, when the secular world was discovering electricity and the Theory of Evolution. See point 4.

    “Many religions now come before us with ingratiating smirks and outspread hands, like an unctuous merchant in a bazaar. They offer consolation and solidarity and uplift, competing as they do in a marketplace. But we have a right to remember how barbarically they behaved when they were strong and were making an offer that people could not refuse.”

    Christopher Hitchens.

     

    #24994

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    I had a lot to write here about Mead and religious gang history, but I’ll just summarize by saying I’m not embarrassed about promoting atheism in meaningful ways, and feeling like it’s for a good purpose, in fact even for what I consider to be a transcendental, greater good!

    #24997

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    According to Mead, religious people find meaning in the whole universe.  But if meaning is the way something is relevant to one’s goals, how can outer space have any meaning for us personally?

    This might be a simplistic point of view.

    I think we can distinguish between two kinds of meaning:  personal (relevant to personal goals) and transcendent (presumably, relevant to transcendent goals).

    What are transcendent meaning and transcendent goals?  Meaning and goals that everyone has?  The atheist would say, everyone and no more than that.  I.e. there is no meaning for human beings within the entirety of the universe, only in the part that affects humans.

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