Atheism Intelligent Design Science theism

No, life cannot have meaning in a random universe. Next question?

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In an excerpt from his recent book, Finding Purpose in a Godless World: Why We Care Even If the Universe Doesn’t, a psychiatrist explains how we can have meaning even though we don’t:

People assume that our human sense of purpose is dependent on the universe having a purpose, and without such purpose they assume that life has no meaning. This is a wholly unsubstantiated assumption. Our purposeless universe has become infused with local pockets of purpose, and this has happened through entirely natural, spontaneous processes. Purpose emerged in the universe with life itself. Purpose and meaning (and morality too) can be entirely explained as natural phenomena, emergent from a random, material universe.

All living creatures are purposeful. Simple creatures are goal-directed in rudimentary and non-conscious ways. Highly evolved creatures like us are purpose driven in complex, elaborate, conscious ways. The fact that all this evolved out of the very same basic life-instinct for gene replication does not detract from our motivation in the slightest. We have evolved to be exceedingly adept at being purpose-driven and meaning-making. Our ability to do so is in no way dependent on the universe having inherent purpose.Ralph Lewis, M.D., “Can Life Have Meaning in a Random Universe?” at Psychology Today

This author’s approach doesn’t really make any sense because if the universe has no purpose, how could we evolve to have purpose? Unless, of course, the purpose came from the outside, which would make one either a theist or a mystic. But then there is no reason to think the universe as a whole has no purpose.

Anyway, if our consciousness is an evolved illusion, it is all illusory anyway and the despairing existentialist atheists are right (though their despair is an illusion too).

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See also: Science-based morality: 400 years of failure? One really interesting development is the rise of social justice science, where even right answers are no longer a form of morality but rather a tool of oppression. Sadly, they are losing what they once had..

79 Replies to “No, life cannot have meaning in a random universe. Next question?

  1. 1
    daveS says:

    This whole issue of “purpose” is hard for theists and atheists to discuss. It can be very difficult for a theist to understand the atheist’s perspective and vice-versa.

    I have seen evidence of this in deconversion stories—when a person loses their faith in god, they seem to go through a period of disorientation, where a lot of what they knew before doesn’t make sense anymore.

    Eventually, they understand that it’s not that bad. Even if they weren’t specially created by god, that’s not the end of the world. I enjoy my life and find purpose through helping others and pursuing my own interests. I have no worries about lacking a “higher” purpose that a god might have infused me with.

  2. 2
    Barry Arrington says:

    daveS,

    This whole issue of “purpose” is hard for theists and atheists to discuss.

    That is true. And your post is Exhibit A for why that is true. It is hard to discuss a subject when one of the participants in the discussion insists on deluding themselves about it.

  3. 3
    daveS says:

    Barry,

    And your post could be Exhibit B. It is hard to discuss a subject when one of the participants concludes the other is deluding himself.

    On the other hand, you could be right. Would you elaborate on how you know I’m deluding myself?

  4. 4
    Deputy Dog says:

    “Unless, of course, the purpose came from the outside…”

    Maybe the inside IS the outside.

  5. 5
    Barry Arrington says:

    daveS:

    Would you elaborate on how you know I’m deluding myself?

    Sure, it is really quite simple. Either there is a God or there is not. If there is a God, meaning is possible. If there is no God, meaning is not possible.

    Let us, therefore, assume for the sake of argument that an atheist such as yourself is correct. There is no God. Therefore, meaning is not possible. I don’t know what that is so hard to understand.

    Of course, this is not to say that an atheist cannot insist that he has created a pocket of meaning for himself, just like Dr. Lewis in the OP and you in comment 1. What do you say to such people? They insist that meaning exists at the same time they insist on a universe in which meaning is impossible.

    Well, you tell such people they are deluding themselves. They can have their atheism or they can have their meaning. But the cannot have both. Any attempt to have both is delusional.

  6. 6
    Seversky says:

    The question for the theists is that if God is the eternal and necessary – in the philosophical sense – being they claim, if He is, by definition, not contingent on anything else, entirely self-sufficient then why bother to create a Universe at all? And given that He existed for an eternity before creating this Universe and will continue to exist for an eternity after why did He create this Universe when He did? A necessary God would have no unmet need which would require the creation of a Universe. If He did experience an unmet need then He becomes a contingent being and cannot fulfill the role that Christian theology requires of Him.

  7. 7
    Barry Arrington says:

    The next gambit A-Mats tend to employ after the deluding themselves is to try to change the subject so they don’t have to think about the meaninglessness inherent in their worldview.

    We see Seversky employing this tactic in comment 6.

  8. 8
    daveS says:

    Barry,

    Is it possible that you are wrong?

  9. 9
    PaoloV says:

    Meaning?

    Purpose?

    Could it be that there’s always meaning, but many times there’s no purpose? All our experiences have meaning, though in most cases we don’t look for it or don’t know it.

    Is there subjective/relative meaning vs. objective/absolute meaning?

    Can meaning be correct or incorrect?

    Can meaning be conveyed and/or perceived only by conscious beings?

    Can purpose be set/determined/established only by conscious beings?

    Can purpose be relatively correct/incorrect or absolutely correct/incorrect?

    Are there relative right/wrong and absolute right/wrong?

  10. 10
    AaronS1978 says:

    The meaning of life is that there is no meaning of life, there is no purpose, that every single human being on this planet has to find their own particular meaning, which is meaningless because you have no purpose and you have no meaning to begin with.

    A scientist defining the meaning of existence, telling everybody else that there is no purpose or meaning, apparently doesn’t see the fact that what they are saying is no more purposeful and no more meaningful than anything else, if they are right.

    Everything inevitably will die, there is no point in any portion of existence other than measuring pleasure versus pain and that’s what it all really boils down to. We have evolved beyond replicating DNA and we only seek pleasure versus pain. If there is no meaning to existence then this is all that is important. And measuring how much pleasure you getting out of life versus how much pain can really lead you to some seriously dark places for yourself and others around you.

  11. 11
    Barry Arrington says:

    daveS

    Is it possible that you are wrong?

    If you are asking is it possible that two mutually exclusive truth claims can be true at the same time, the answer is “no, that is not possible.”

  12. 12
    ET says:

    Seversky:

    The question for the theists is that if God is the eternal and necessary – in the philosophical sense – being they claim, if He is, by definition, not contingent on anything else, entirely self-sufficient then why bother to create a Universe at all?

    Umm, that is a question for God, not theists.

    And given that He existed for an eternity before creating this Universe and will continue to exist for an eternity after why did He create this Universe when He did?

    Again, that is not a question for humans to answer.

    Look, if you don’t dislike the God concept so much then get to work demonstrating your materialistic position has something more than denying the obvious.

  13. 13
    Barry Arrington says:

    AaronS1978 @ 10.

    Every word you say is true IF there is not God.

    Not only is what you say true, it is glaringly obviously true. Why is it so hard for the daveS’s and Seversky’s of the world to admit that truth? Well, the answer to that is pretty clear too. They are afraid and instead of facing the harsh conclusions compelled by their premises they try to whistle past the graveyard.

  14. 14
    daveS says:

    Barry,

    If you are asking is it possible that two mutually exclusive truth claims can be true at the same time, the answer is “no, that is not possible.”

    My question is not about that, but rather your assertions that I am deluding myself and that if there is no God, then meaning is not possible.

    Is it possible that either of those is wrong?

  15. 15
    Silver Asiatic says:

    daveS

    Is it possible that either of those is wrong?

    Why not just show where it is wrong?

    Your proposal is based on a contradiction. It cannot possibly be correct.

  16. 16
    daveS says:

    SA,

    I’m not trying to show that either statement is wrong. I’m asking Barry if he thinks it is possible either is wrong.

  17. 17
    tribune7 says:

    The wishing of “thoughts and prayers” after mass shootings is being mocked in some circles as simplistic to the point of being meaningless.

    We have come to agree.

    — SNIP–

    So now we have the issue of mass shootings which have become a several-times a year occurrence.

    Those who desire to disarm the sane and law-abiding cynically use them to advance their political cause.

    We, however, think it is far more about culture than it is about having access to immaterial objects.

    We have written several times about how school shootings started after abortion was declared a right. Correlation is not causation but correlations are something worth pointing out, and this correlation makes sense.

    Teach that it is up to the individual to determine whether a human life exists, and, well, who is to judge if an individual chooses in a way other than you would?

    How about the manner in which our society addresses the most important philosophical question: Why are we here?

    We teach our young that our existence is but due to a mere sequence of random events. Our courts, in fact, forbid teaching that we are designed, despite the quite reasonable inference of it being so.

    Imagine someone being on a moral fence and being inculcated by society that he is but an accident of nature and he should “do as thy will”. Now, imagine that someone being inculcated that he was created to love his neighbor. Which message is most likely to send him to the good side of the fence?

    http://billlawrenceonline.com/.....s-prayers/

  18. 18
    Barry Arrington says:

    daveS

    I’m not trying to show that either statement is wrong. I’m asking Barry if he thinks it is possible either is wrong.

    I take it you mean these two statements:

    1. I am deluding myself

    2. if there is no God, then meaning is not possible

    As to 1, to the extent you assert there can be meaning in a meaningless universe, then you are wrong. The charitable inference is that you are wrong in good faith, which means you are deluding yourself. I admit I could be wrong. You might be lying.

    As to 2, no, it is not possible.

  19. 19
    daveS says:

    Thank you, Barry.

  20. 20
    groovamos says:

    Seversky: And given that He existed for an eternity before creating this Universe and will continue to exist for an eternity after why did He create this Universe when He did?

    I’m no philosopher but how can there be a “before” when time doesn’t exist yet? But then, to correct myself, how can there be a “when” or a “yet” independent of time? (whoops caught myself almost saying “outside of”)

    So Seversky remember when I linked to the scholarly books on mystical and religious experience instigated by psychedelics and you came back with the often repeated contention by A-mats that maybe the experiences are due to out-of-control electrical activity in the brain?

    So my answer at that time would have been very pat: That the experiences occasionally elicited by psychedelic usage occasionally will parallel astoundingly those described throughout history by various mystics, saints and sages. So that you would have to make the sme assertion abou what was happening in their brains. And those experiences with psychedelics can involve encounters with powerful spirits and demigods sometimes with historical context or identification.

    Well the answer is not so pat because as it turns out, people who have seizures, myself included, have those experiences during the so-called “aura”. And because of my past experiences with other psychological mosed I would allow the experience without interruption and would typically visit purgatory and encounter disturbed souls. Strangely enough I would maintain a dual consciousness and had the confidence of complete control of my days activity including driving a car (but pull over) and this feeling of leaving the world was a repeated experience.

    Now before you guys think this is crazy you can read up on Dostoevsky and his seizures. His auras would give him the full blown mystical experience including ecstacy. He claimed that he would give up everything, fame, fortune, everything to be able to willfully enter this state.

    So it turns out chaotic neuronal discharges in the brain can themselves invoke mystical experiences. However those chaotic discarges have never been indicated in the psychedelic research.

  21. 21
    PaoloV says:

    tribune7,

    thanks

  22. 22
    StephenB says:

    Seversky

    blockquoteThe question for the theists is that if God is the eternal and necessary – in the philosophical sense – being they claim, if He is, by definition, not contingent on anything else, entirely self-sufficient then why bother to create a Universe at all?

    Seversky always asks good questions. He really probes. Anyway, the answer to the question is that love is effusive, it wants to give itself away. A loving God, therefore, wants to give rather than take, which explains his creative act. He doesn’t need His creation because He is already a community of persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), but his creation needs him.

  23. 23
    bornagain77 says:

    In the OP they claim:

    People assume that our human sense of purpose is dependent on the universe having a purpose, and without such purpose they assume that life has no meaning. This is a wholly unsubstantiated assumption. Our purposeless universe,,,

    The only wholly unsubstantiated assumption is his assumption that science somehow has proven the universe is purposeless.

    From the fine tuning of the universe for life, to the overturning of the Copernican principle by both general relativity and quantum mechanics, as far as science itself is concerned, the universe literally oozes purpose.

    Atheistic Materialism vs Meaning, Value, and Purpose in Our Lives – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqUxBSbFhog

    In his article, the psychiatrist also claimed that,

    Depression does not discriminate between religious/spiritual people, who believe in a purposeful universe, and atheists, who do not.

    That claim is false. Contrary to what the psychiatrist claimed, there is a tremendous difference in mental and physical health that is found between Atheists and Theists.

    As Professor Andrew Sims, former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, states, “The advantageous effect of religious belief and spirituality on mental and physical health is one of the best-kept secrets in psychiatry and medicine generally.”,,, “In the majority of studies, religious involvement is correlated with well-being, happiness and life satisfaction; hope and optimism; purpose and meaning in life;,,”

    “I maintain that whatever else faith may be, it cannot be a delusion.
    The advantageous effect of religious belief and spirituality on mental and physical health is one of the best-kept secrets in psychiatry and medicine generally. If the findings of the huge volume of research on this topic had gone in the opposite direction and it had been found that religion damages your mental health, it would have been front-page news in every newspaper in the land.”
    – Professor Andrew Sims – preface

    “In the majority of studies, religious involvement is correlated with well-being, happiness and life satisfaction; hope and optimism; purpose and meaning in life; higher self-esteem; better adaptation to bereavement; greater social support and less loneliness; lower rates of depression and faster recovery from depression; lower rates of suicide and fewer positive attitudes towards suicide; less anxiety; less psychosis and fewer psychotic tendencies; lower rates of alcohol and drug use and abuse; less delinquency and criminal activity; greater marital stability and satisfaction… We concluded that for the vast majority of people the apparent benefits of devout belief and practice probably outweigh the risks.”
    – Professor Andrew Sims former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists – Is Faith Delusion?: Why religion is good for your health – page 100
    https://books.google.com/books?id=PREdCgAAQBAJ&pg=PA100#v=onepage&q&f=false

    Lack of ultimate meaning in life associated with alcohol abuse, drug addiction and other mental health problems – August 2015
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....092911.htm

    In fact, in the following study it was found that, “those middle-aged adults who go to church, synagogues, mosques or other houses of worship reduce their mortality risk by 55%.”

    Can attending church really help you live longer? This study says yes – June 1, 2017
    Excerpt: Specifically, the study says those middle-aged adults who go to church, synagogues, mosques or other houses of worship reduce their mortality risk by 55%. The Plos One journal published the “Church Attendance, Allostatic Load and Mortality in Middle Aged Adults” study May 16.
    “For those who did not attend church at all, they were twice as likely to die prematurely than those who did who attended church at some point over the last year,” Bruce said.
    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/06/02/can-attending-church-really-help-you-live-longer-study-says-yes/364375001/

    Study: Religiously affiliated people lived “9.45 and 5.64 years longer…”
    July 1, 2018
    Excerpt: Self-reported religious service attendance has been linked with longevity. However, previous work has largely relied on self-report data and volunteer samples. Here, mention of a religious affiliation in obituaries was analyzed as an alternative measure of religiosity. In two samples (N = 505 from Des Moines, IA, and N = 1,096 from 42 U.S. cities), the religiously affiliated lived 9.45 and 5.64 years longer, respectively, than the nonreligiously affiliated. Additionally, social integration and volunteerism partially mediated the religion–longevity relation.
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/study-religiously-affiliated-people-lived-religiously-affiliated-lived-9-45-and-5-64-years-longer/
    Can Religion Extend Your Life? – By Chuck Dinerstein — June 16, 2018
    Excerpt: The researcher’s regression analysis suggested that the effect of volunteering and participation accounted for 20% or 1 year of the impact, while religious affiliation accounted for the remaining four years or 80%.
    https://www.acsh.org/news/2018/06/16/can-religion-extend-your-life-13092

    Atheism and health
    A meta-analysis of all studies, both published and unpublished, relating to religious involvement and longevity was carried out in 2000. Forty-two studies were included, involving some 126,000 subjects. Active religious involvement increased the chance of living longer by some 29%, and participation in public religious practices, such as church attendance, increased the chance of living longer by 43%.[4][5]
    per conservapedia

    Thus, it is readily apparent that the Atheist’s attempt to create illusory meaning and purposes for his life, minus belief in God and a afterlife, falls short in a rather dramatic fashion on both the mental and physical level.

    Verse and video:

    John 3:16
    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

    Turin Shroud Hologram Reveals The Words “The Lamb” – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Tmka1l8GAQ

    Of related note, it is found that learning and reading about the afterlife and/or about Near Death Experiences is ‘generally quite successful not only in reducing suicidal thoughts but also in preventing the deed altogether.,,,’

    Knowledge of the afterlife deters suicide. Lessons From the Light by Kenneth Ring and Evelyn Elsaesser p.257-258:
    As far as I know, the first clinician to make use of NDE material in this context was a New York psychologist named John McDonagh. In 1979, he presented a paper at a psychological convention that described his success with several suicidal patients using a device he called “NDE bibliotherapy.” His “technique” was actually little more than having his patients read some relevant passages from Raymond Moody’s book, Reflections on Life after Life, after which the therapist and his patient would discuss its implications for the latter’s own situation. McDonagh reports that such an approach was generally quite successful not only in reducing suicidal thoughts but also in preventing the deed altogether.,,,
    Since McDonagh’s pioneering efforts, other clinicians knowledgeable about the NDE who have had the opportunity to counsel suicidal patients have also reported similar success. Perhaps the most notable of these therapists is Bruce Greyson, a psychiatrist now at the University of Virginia, whose specialty as a clinician has been suicidology. He is also the author of a classic paper on NDEs and suicide which the specialist may wish to consult for its therapeutic implications. (14)
    Quite apart from the clinicians who have developed this form of what we might call “NDE-assisted therapy,” I can draw upon my own personal experience here to provide additional evidence of how the NDE has helped to deter suicide. The following case,,,
    http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/201.....lains.html

    I found Dr. Mary Neal’s NDE entirely credible:

    Present: Mary Neal’s Near Death Experience
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63wY2fylJD0

  24. 24
    OldArmy94 says:

    Even Nietzsche well understood the ramifications of this misguided view. If God does not exist, then there is no meaning of any kind, no basis for truth since there is no truth worth speaking of:

    “Where has God gone?” he cried. “I shall tell you. We have killed him – you and I. We are his murderers. But how have we done this? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What did we do when we unchained the earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving now? Away from all suns? Are we not perpetually falling? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there any up or down left? Are we not straying as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is it not more and more night coming on all the time? Must not lanterns be lit in the morning?

  25. 25
    daveS says:

    If God does not exist, then is it not true that God does not exist?

  26. 26

    This is a wholly unsubstantiated assumption. Our purposeless universe has become infused with local pockets of purpose, and this has happened through entirely natural, spontaneous processes.

    Oh good grief. These two sentences together. A trained psychiatrist wrote this, and is actually pleased to share it with others. Apparently anything whatsoever can pass for intelligent reasoning as long as it comes to the pop conclusion.

  27. 27
    tribune7 says:

    –Our purposeless universe has become infused with local pockets of purpose, and this has happened through entirely natural, spontaneous processes.–

    This is a statement of faith.

  28. 28
    Charles Birch says:

    The only atheist writer I know of who tells it like it is, is Alex Rosenberg, author of ‘The Atheist’s Guide to Reality’.

    Rosenberg has gone a very long way down the rabbit hole and concludes that a strict atheist-materialist should ‘man up’ and accept the purposelessness of existence.

    He has harsh words to say about certain of his fellow atheists like Dawkins who endeavour to insert ‘meaning’ and ‘purpose’ into their lives. In Rosenberg’s view, such people are spineless pussies who simply cannot face up to the Awful Truth.

    He concludes his book by reminding atheists that if they can’t psychologically cope with the reality of the situation, they should seek help from the wonders of modern science in the form of whichever pharmaceutical antidepressant works best for them.

    I like Rosenberg; he has the courage of his convictions and is facing up to the meaninglessness of his life.

    It is, of course, quite possible for an atheist-materialist to seek a ‘purpose’ in life as long as he or she as aware that it is just a coping strategy and has no reality beyond that.

    If I were to change my current idealist-theist (but non-‘religious’) views because of new and overwhelming evidence supporting materialism, the above is the mindset I would have to adopt as best I could.

  29. 29
    daveS says:

    Charles Birch,

    If I were to change my current idealist-theist (but non-‘religious’) views because of new and overwhelming evidence supporting materialism, the above is the mindset I would have to adopt as best I could.

    I have suggested this type of thought experiment in past discussions.

    Suppose you came to believe that there is no god. How would that change your behavior?

    Specifically, would you no longer seek to share your gifts and good fortune with others so as to help improve their lives?

  30. 30
    Charles Birch says:

    daveS @29

    I don’t think my behaviour would change. I think my ‘moral’ views would remain the same.

    However:

    1) I think I would be very aware that this moral mindset is a result of my former beliefs – the belief that, for example, Ultimate Reality has as its goal the maximisation of love, compassion and the maximal realisation of potential. I think these former beliefs would be so ingrained that I would find it difficult to change them.

    2) I would also be aware that, even if I decide that my personal existence should be as loving and compassionate as possible, just for its own sake ……I would nevertheless have no grounds for suggesting that someone whose life goal is to defraud old folk of their life savings is somehow living a less worthwhile life than myself.

  31. 31
    daveS says:

    Charles Birch,

    Thanks for the response. Your view is consistent with those of many other theists, I believe. A deconversion would not lead to any radical changes in behavior. And I suspect it would not diminish one’s love for one’s spouse and family, and the desire to try and enrich their lives.

  32. 32
    Ed George says:

    An atheist once told me that “if you have no meaning without God, then you have no meaning with God”. I am curious as to whether any of the atheists here can find the obvious flaw in that logic. DaveS? Seversky?

  33. 33
    AaronS1978 says:

    That was not my experience as I had a deconversion back in 2013, I will not go into details, but I fell into a deep depression, my behaviors changed so drastically my wife and I separated (we are working on things now) I honestly stopped caring about anything.

    There is a lot to my story, and a lot of which I’m not comfortable to share here.

    My point though is how a person reacts to as you put it a “deconversion” depends on them. It will not be the same for everyone else.

    I believe again, but I’m constantly afraid I’ll loose my faith again, because of that 4 year stint

  34. 34
    daveS says:

    I’m sorry to hear that, AaronS1978.

  35. 35
    Marfin says:

    DaveS – Regarding someone who once believed that God exist loosing that belief and the effect it would have on their behaviour can only really be judged over time and under pressure.
    In the short term and under no financial ,moral or other pressure then behaviour may not change too much but given perhaps years and outside pressure people will do things they would have never thought they would .
    But removing God now is not the same as knowing God does not and has never existed we can never really run that exersize because if God exists what influence has he had on mans behaviour ,re making us in his image, giving us a conscience, telling man from day one how we should behave.

  36. 36
    Mung says:

    I cannot find the meaning in this thread, its purpose seems inscrutable to me. 😉

  37. 37
    EricMH says:

    If deconversion doesn’t impact a person there are a number of possible implications:
    1. Belief in God is irrelevant for behavior
    2. The person did not base their behavior on their belief in the first place
    3. The person is not behaving consistently with their claimed unbelief

    Not sure why #1 is the only valid implication, as it seems people are assuming here. We have numerous historical examples where people do atrocious things and claim they are consistently living out their atheism.

    As it is, atheists have a hard time arguing the right to life begins at conception, and thus has just the same rights as a more developed human life. But without the ability to clearly identify what qualifies as human life, our most fundamental right to life is up in the air. Can we only kill preborn people? What if we kill them right after they are born? Is it more morally justifiable if they are poor or disabled? What if someone is killed without any suffering and without bothering those around them, why is that so different from killing the preborn? If it is ok to kill the preborn because they are dependent on the mother, is it ok to kill children or elderly grandparents because they are dependent on the parents? If so, why is it so wrong for the state to kill its citizens, since the citizens are dependent on the state, especially if most people in the state don’t like the particular citizens because they seem to be a drain on society? If a particular atheist gets really upset with those around him, what’s wrong with him wiping them out and then himself, since he’ll face no further consequences once he’s dead? And so on. In short, it is hard to see why a totalitarian state and these mass killings are not logically consistent with atheist inability to justify a right to life from conception. It might feel uncomfortable to admit, but I see no hard logical line.

    On the other hand, it is easy to come up with responses to my questions if humans have immortal souls and God is a just lawgiver that deals out eternal reward and punishment in the afterlife, and finite term reward and punishment in the present life, and if our own justice system is meant to emulate the divine justice system.

  38. 38
    Ed George says:

    If conversion can be life altering, as I think both atheists and theists would agree, why would anyone thing that decinversion wouldn’t be equally as life altering?

  39. 39
    daveS says:

    Marfin,

    DaveS – Regarding someone who once believed that God exist loosing that belief and the effect it would have on their behaviour can only really be judged over time and under pressure.
    In the short term and under no financial ,moral or other pressure then behaviour may not change too much but given perhaps years and outside pressure people will do things they would have never thought they would .

    Yes, I agree.

    I think Charles Birch’s post accurately describes how a typical person would respond to a significant change in worldview in the short term. Eventually a person will ask himself, how ought I to live given that I no longer believe in a god? So in the longer term, there could be some changes.

  40. 40
    EricMH says:

    @daveS, it is unclear how an atheist rationally justifies ethical behavior beyond “it feels good”. Can you clarify?

    As a theist, I can do something good, and it “feels good,” but it also makes sense why it feels good, because my actions correspond to the objective way things are meant to be. Additionally, because there is an objective way things should be, I can continue telling myself why I should do good even if it does not “feel good.” And furthermore, if I “feel bad” I can follow the objective order to learn what I must do in order to “feel good” again. The acceptance of an objective order of justice is in itself a consoling thought, especially in light of my own powerlessness and the extreme (and seemingly ever growing) injustice in the world.

    Being ethical for “feel good” reasons in an atheist universe reminds me of looking at a brightly decked out and attractive costume, but when I look inside it is empty.

  41. 41
    bornagain77 says:

    daveS asks:

    how ought I to live given that I no longer believe in a god?

    The bible answered that question thousands of years ago:

    1 Corinthians 15:32
    What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

    The trouble with these ’empty calories’ of hedonistic pleasure seeking, instead of noble pleasure seeking, is that, number one, it is physically harmful since ‘living hedonistically’ is not the way we were designed and meant to live by God,,

    The following study is very interesting in that, (since Darwinian evolution can’t even explain the origin of a single gene/protein by unguided material processes), it shows that objective morality is built/designed, in a very nuanced fashion, into the way our the gene expression of our bodies differentiate between ‘hedonic’ and ‘noble’ moral happiness:

    Human Cells Respond in Healthy, Unhealthy Ways to Different Kinds of Happiness – July 29, 2013
    Excerpt: Human bodies recognize at the molecular level that not all happiness is created equal, responding in ways that can help or hinder physical health,,,
    The sense of well-being derived from “a noble purpose” may provide cellular health benefits, whereas “simple self-gratification” may have negative effects, despite an overall perceived sense of happiness, researchers found.,,,
    But if all happiness is created equal, and equally opposite to ill-being, then patterns of gene expression should be the same regardless of hedonic or eudaimonic well-being. Not so, found the researchers.
    Eudaimonic well-being was, indeed, associated with a significant decrease in the stress-related CTRA gene expression profile. In contrast, hedonic well-being was associated with a significant increase in the CTRA profile. Their genomics-based analyses, the authors reported, reveal the hidden costs of purely hedonic well-being.,,
    “We can make ourselves happy through simple pleasures, but those ‘empty calories’ don’t help us broaden our awareness or build our capacity in ways that benefit us physically,” she said. “At the cellular level, our bodies appear to respond better to a different kind of well-being, one based on a sense of connectedness and purpose.”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....161952.htm

    ,, and, number two, those empty calories of hedonistic pleasure seeking, although they may give a fleeting sense of happiness for a short time,,

    Hebrews 11:25
    and chose to suffer with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasure of sin.

    ,,, although they may give a fleeting sense of happiness for a short time, the fact of the matter is that those empty calories of hedonistic pleasure seeking only mask the fact that, without God, life truly is pointless and without any real meaning and purpose. And therefore those ’empty calories’ cannot sustain a ‘true’ happiness that has a sure foundation. i.e. Cannot give us a everlasting happiness that is ‘built on the rock’.

    A particularly crystal clear example of this ‘building a house on sand’ hedonistic lifestyle was played out in the recent suicide of Anthony Bourdain. Anthony Bourdain was an atheist who once stated this:

    Bourdain quote
    http://godlessmom.com/wp-conte.....urdain.png

    What was truly tragic about Anthony Bourdain’s suicide was that Anthony Bourdain was paid handsomely, by CNN, to try to find as much happiness in this world as he possibly could. His popular TV series was called “Parts Unknown”.

    Despite having the ‘dream job’ of getting paid handsomely to ‘eat and drink’, i.e. to find as much happiness in this world as he possibly could, Anthony Bourdain was apparently left empty in that quest and ended up committing suicide. If there is any lesson to be learned in his tragic death it is that all the pleasures of this world will not bring us true fulfillment and that we must look ‘higher’ than this temporal realm in order to find true happiness:

    Matthew: 31-33
    So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

    Some atheists may try to claim that Anthony Bourdain’s suicide was a fluke and that atheists by and large do not commit more suicides that Christians. Yet they would, once again, be wrong in their claim. As the following study found, “Religiously unaffiliated subjects had significantly more lifetime suicide attempts and more first-degree relatives who committed suicide than subjects who endorsed a religious affiliation.”

    Of snakebites and suicide – February 18, 2014
    RESULTS: Religiously unaffiliated subjects had significantly more lifetime suicide attempts and more first-degree relatives who committed suicide than subjects who endorsed a religious affiliation.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....d-suicide/

    As well, although Atheists, with their hedonistic lifestyle, may pretend they are happier than Christians, the fact of the matter is that “the more frequently people attended religious events, the happier they were; 47% of people who attended several types a week reported that they were ‘very happy’, as opposed to 28% who attended less than monthly.”

    Are Religious People Happier Than Atheists? – 2000
    Excerpt: there does indeed appear to be a link between religion and happiness. Several studies have been done, but to give an example, one study found that the more frequently people attended religious events, the happier they were; 47% of people who attended several types a week reported that they were ‘very happy’, as opposed to 28% who attended less than monthly.
    In practical terms, religious people have the upper hand on atheists in several other areas. They drink and smoke less, are less likely to abuse drugs, and they stay married longer. After a stressful event like bereavement, unemployment, or illness, those who worship don’t take it as hard and recover faster. All of the above are likely to be beneficial to a person’s happiness. Additionally, religious people, as a result of their beliefs, have a greater sense of meaning, purpose and hope in their lives.
    http://generallythinking.com/a.....-atheists/

    ,,, Seems those ‘party all the time’ empty calories of hedonistic happiness are not nearly as fulfilling and meaningful as many people tend to believe.

    But all this evidence should be no surprise to anyone.
    Pretending to have meaning and happiness in a meaningless universe, as atheists try to do, is self evidently a practice in self delusion. There is nothing controversial about it. It is ‘whistling in the dark’ plain and simple.

    Moreover, it is not as if Christians are trying to push some ‘pie in the sky’ belief in God and in life after death.

    Christians, (unlike self delusional atheists who, besides denying the reality of meaning and purpose for life, deny the reality of their very own mind and free will), literally are preaching “The Truth” about reality. i.e. There truly is a God, Jesus truly did rise from the grave, and there truly is life after death.

    And again, unlike the claims from atheists, modern science clearly backs these claims up. For example, Quantum Mechanics shows that God sustains this universe in its continual existence:

    Double Slit, Quantum-Electrodynamics, and Christian Theism – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AK9kGpIxMRM

    Moreover, special relativity shows us that there is a heavenly eternal dimension above this temporal dimension.

    Quantum Mechanics, Special Relativity, General Relativity and Christianity – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4QDy1Soolo

    As well, general relativity, besides showing us that there was definitely a beginning to this universe,,,

    Big Bang Theory – An Overview of the main evidence
    Excerpt: Steven Hawking, George Ellis, and Roger Penrose turned their attention to the Theory of Relativity and its implications regarding our notions of time. In 1968 and 1970, they published papers in which they extended Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity to include measurements of time and space.1, 2 According to their calculations, time and space had a finite beginning that corresponded to the origin of matter and energy.”3
    Steven W. Hawking, George F.R. Ellis, “The Cosmic Black-Body Radiation and the Existence of Singularities in our Universe,” Astrophysical Journal, 152, (1968) pp. 25-36.
    Steven W. Hawking, Roger Penrose, “The Singularities of Gravitational Collapse and Cosmology,” Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, series A, 314 (1970) pp. 529-548.
    http://www.big-bang-theory.com/

    ,,, general relativity, besides showing us that there was definitely a beginning to this universe, also shows us, (as was illustrated in the “Quantum Mechanics, Special Relativity, General Relativity and Christianity” video), that there truly is a eternal, hellish, dimension below this temporal dimension.

  42. 42
    bornagain77 says:

    Moreover, Christ’s resurrection from the dead provides a very plausible solution for the much sought after ‘theory of everything’ which seeks to unify Quantum Mechanics and Special Relativity, i.e. Quantum Electrodynamics, with General Relativity:

    Copernican Principle, Agent Causality, and Jesus Christ as the “Theory of Everything” – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NziDraiPiOw

    Shroud of Turin: From discovery of Photographic Negative, to 3-D Information, to 3-D Hologram
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-TL4QOCiis

    Moreover, recent advances in quantum biology also strongly support the Christian’s belief that we do indeed have a transcendent, eternal, soul that is capable of living past the death of our material, temporal, bodies:

    Darwinian Materialism vs. Quantum Biology – video
    https://youtu.be/LHdD2Am1g5Y

    As to life after death, we have far more observational evidence for the reality of of life after death than we do for Darwinian claims that unguided material processes can generate the immaterial information that is ubiquitous within biological life.

    Near-Death Experiences: Putting a Darwinist’s Evidentiary Standards to the Test – Dr. Michael Egnor – October 15, 2012
    Excerpt: Indeed, about 20 percent of NDE’s are corroborated, which means that there are independent ways of checking about the veracity of the experience. The patients knew of things that they could not have known except by extraordinary perception — such as describing details of surgery that they watched while their heart was stopped, etc. Additionally, many NDE’s have a vividness and a sense of intense reality that one does not generally encounter in dreams or hallucinations.,,,
    The most “parsimonious” explanation — the simplest scientific explanation — is that the (Near Death) experience was real. Tens of millions of people have had such experiences. That is tens of millions of more times than we have observed the origin of species , (or the origin of life, or the origin of a protein/gene, or of a molecular machine), which is never.,,,
    The materialist reaction, in short, is unscientific and close-minded. NDE’s show fellows like Coyne at their sneering unscientific irrational worst. Somebody finds a crushed fragment of a fossil and it’s earth-shaking evidence. Tens of million of people have life-changing spiritual experiences and it’s all a big yawn.
    Note: Dr. Egnor is professor and vice-chairman of neurosurgery at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....65301.html

    Bottom line, as far as modern science is concerned, The Christian has ample reason to be extremely confident that his beliefs are true and can therefore live his life happily, and consistently, as if his life truly did have meaning and purpose because, as far as our best science can tell us, his life truly is meaningful and purposeful. Whereas, on the other hand, the atheist, as usual, has nothing but self deception to try to convince himself that his life is somehow meaningful in what he falsely claims is a meaningless universe.

    Verses and article:

    Psalm 16:11
    You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

    Hebrews 10:12
    But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,

    The Easter Question – Eben Alexander, M.D. – March 2013
    Excerpt: More than ever since my near death experience, I consider myself a Christian -,,,
    Now, I can tell you that if someone had asked me, in the days before my NDE, what I thought of this (Easter) story, I would have said that it was lovely. But it remained just that — a story. To say that the physical body of a man who had been brutally tortured and killed could simply get up and return to the world a few days later is to contradict every fact we know about the universe. It wasn’t simply an unscientific idea. It was a downright anti-scientific one.
    But it is an idea that I now believe. Not in a lip-service way. Not in a dress-up-it’s-Easter kind of way. I believe it with all my heart, and all my soul.,,
    We are, really and truly, made in God’s image. But most of the time we are sadly unaware of this fact. We are unconscious both of our intimate kinship with God, and of His constant presence with us. On the level of our everyday consciousness, this is a world of separation — one where people and objects move about, occasionally interacting with each other, but where essentially we are always alone.
    But this cold dead world of separate objects is an illusion. It’s not the world we actually live in.,,,
    ,,He (God) is right here with each of us right now, seeing what we see, suffering what we suffer… and hoping desperately that we will keep our hope and faith in Him. Because that hope and faith will be triumphant.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....79741.html

    “The only human emotion I could feel was pure, unrelenting, unconditional love. Take the unconditional love a mother has for a child and amplify it a thousand fold, then multiply exponentially. The result of your equation would be as a grain of sand is to all the beaches in the world. So, too, is the comparison between the love we experience on earth to what I felt during my experience. This love is so strong, that words like “love” make the description seem obscene. It was the most powerful and compelling feeling. But, it was so much more. I felt the presence of angels. I felt the presence of joyous souls, and they described to me a hundred lifetimes worth of knowledge about our divinity. Simultaneous to the deliverance of this knowledge, I knew I was in the presence of God. I never wanted to leave, never.”
    Judeo-Christian Near Death Experience Testimony

  43. 43
    daveS says:

    EricMH,

    I think it’s extremely unlikely I could rationally justify ethical behavior to your satisfaction. Our worldviews seem to be very different.

    A quick suggestion, however: if you replace “it feels good” with “it is in my long-term best interest”, then that’s a start.

    Keep in mind I have a conscience and therefore it causes me distress to see those close to me (and even those not closely related to me) suffer. Therefore my long-term best interest is connected to the welfare of others.

  44. 44
    Ed George says:

    BA77

    daveS asks: “how ought I to live given that I no longer believe in a god?

    The bible answered that question thousands of years ago:

    If someone doesn’t believe in God, does anyone think that they will resort to the bible for an answer to their questions? Doesn’t it make more sense to allow them to come to this conclusion without it being pushed down their throat?

  45. 45
    EricMH says:

    @daveS, long term best interest is certainly a better justification than feels good. And living according to conscience can be good too. But they seem to presuppose some kind of interest that extends beyond death, because conscience can be silenced and for an atheist there is nothing beyond death so no truly long term best interest. So, if one’s conscience is too noisy, one can learn to ignore it, and not worry that it is a warning because there is nothing beyond death and everything will eventually die in the universe’s heat death.

  46. 46
    daveS says:

    EricMH,

    I can’t ignore my conscience (and wouldn’t want to). I prefer to live under the guidance of my conscience.

    People who are able to ignore their conscience (sociopaths, I guess) also sometimes punished by society as well. Severe cases can end up in prison.

    And by “long-term interest”, I mean on the scale of a typical human lifetime. I’m not simply thinking about the next week, for example.

  47. 47
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    “Doesn’t it make more sense to allow them to come to this conclusion without it being pushed down their throat?”

    LOL, Take it you how you like it, but ‘pushing it down their throat’ was certainly not how I meant it.

    That intent was imparted entirely by your own preconception, not by me.

    I simply made a statement of fact.,,, The Bible, the best selling book of all time, certainly has far more wisdom in it than atheists presuppose.

  48. 48
    daveS says:

    PS to this:

    But they seem to presuppose some kind of interest that extends beyond death, because conscience can be silenced and for an atheist there is nothing beyond death so no truly long term best interest.

    In fact, I do feel I have interests which extend beyond my death (but certainly not past the heat death of the universe). I hope that my actions do not harm those who are here after I’m gone, so this is a matter of conscience. Therefore I try to conserve resources such as fuel, water, forest products, etc.

  49. 49
    Barry Arrington says:

    Eric @ 45:

    if one’s conscience is too noisy, one can learn to ignore it

    Case in point, the Vox co-founder who made a conscious decision to suppress his empathy for a woman being terrorized in her home by a mob.

  50. 50
    Barry Arrington says:

    daveS

    I do feel I have interests which extend beyond my death

    There you go deluding yourself again. If your atheism is true, then you know for a certain fact that you do not have any interest in anything whatsoever beyond your death. But you allow your FEELING to overpower your knowledge. In other words, you delude yourself. And the delusion is so powerful you cannot overcome it even when you are aware of it.

  51. 51
    daveS says:

    Barry,

    When I waste resources, I feel guilty because I understand that my actions might end up harming future generations.

    I don’t like to feel guilty. Therefore I try not to waste resources.

    I don’t think this has anything to do with atheism. Just about all of us are concerned about the welfare of our descendants, whether atheism is true or not.

  52. 52
    EricMH says:

    @daveS, like Barry said, while it feels right to want what is best for people beyond our death, it doesn’t make sense if atheism is correct.

    My general perspective in all this is why believe something (atheism) that is at odds with our strongest moral intuitions and does not have rational support when the alternative (theism) both matches our moral intuitions and is consistent with our best reason? That doesn’t make sense to me. There is a modern prejudice that religious ideas are a science blocker and atheism is necessary for science and human progress, but that seems both historically and logically false.

  53. 53
    bornagain77 says:

    One of the main, if not the main, supposed intellectual atheist’s arguments that we live in a ‘seemingly meaningless world’ is the argument from evil.

    The problem with the argument from evil for atheists is the fact that the argument from evil presupposes the existence of objective morality and thus presupposes the existence of God.

    Specifically, in the argument from evil atheists hold that “There exist a large number of horrible forms of evil and suffering for which we can see no greater purpose or compensating good.”

    The Problem of Evil: Still A Strong Argument for Atheism – 2015
    Excerpt:,,, the problem of evil, one of the main arguments against the existence of an all-good and all-knowing God.,,,
    P1. There exist a large number of horrible forms of evil and suffering for which we can see no greater purpose or compensating good.
    P2. If an all-powerful, all-good God existed, then such horrific, apparently purposeless evils would not exist.
    C. Therefore, an all-powerful, all-good God does not exist.
    https://thegodlesstheist.com/2015/10/13/the-problem-of-evil-still-a-strong-argument-for-atheism/

    And yet this is, once again, a self defeating position for the atheist to be in.

    Specifically on the one hand, Atheistic materialists hold that morality is subjective and illusory.

    The moral argument is summed up at the 4:36 minute mark of the video and can be stated as such:
    Premise 1: If God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist.
    Premise 2: Objective moral values and duties do exist.
    Conclusion: Therefore, God exists.
    The Moral Argument – drcraigvideos – video
    https://youtu.be/OxiAikEk2vU?t=276

    And yet on the other hand, as David Wood puts it in the following article, “By declaring that suffering is evil, atheists have admitted that there is an objective moral standard by which we distinguish good and evil.”

    Responding to the Argument From Evil: Three Approaches for the Theist – By David Wood
    Excerpt: Interestingly enough, proponents of AE grant this premise in the course of their argument. By declaring that suffering is evil, atheists have admitted that there is an objective moral standard by which we distinguish good and evil. Amazingly, then, even as atheists make their case against the existence of God, they actually help us prove that God exists!,,,
    https://www.namb.net/apologetics/responding-to-the-argument-from-evil-three-approaches-for-the-theist

    Thus the atheist’s main argument that we live in a ‘seemingly meaningless world’, i.e. the argument from evil, actually presupposes the existence of objective morality and therefore presupposes the existence of God and therefore, in the end, actually presupposes that we live in a meaningful world.

    In fact, as CS Lewis has noted, “If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning”. ,,, That is to say, ANY argument that tries to argue that the universe is meaningless must necessarily presuppose the existence of meaning, and our ability to discern meaning, in order for the atheist to be able to make his argument in the first place, and therefore ANY argument an atheist may try to use to argue for a meaningless universe is self-refuting in its basic presuppositions.

    “If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.”
    – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

    In fact, science itself would be completely impossible if meaning and/or goal directed teleological purpose were not a priorily present within the universe and even within our own immaterial minds, via intentionality, on a deep foundational level.

    Dr. Egnor articulates the necessity of teleological purpose and intentionality of mind, for science to even be possible in the first place, like this:

    Teleology and the Mind – Michael Egnor – August 16, 2016
    Excerpt: From the hylemorphic perspective, there is an intimate link between the mind and teleology. The 19th-century philosopher Franz Brentano pointed out that the hallmark of the mind is that it is directed to something other than itself. That is, the mind has intentionality, which is the ability of a mental process to be about something, rather than to just be itself. Physical processes alone (understood without teleology) are not inherently about things. The mind is always about things. Stated another way, physical processes (understood without teleology) have no purpose. Mental processes always have purpose. In fact, purpose (aboutness-intentionality-teleology) is what defines the mind. And we see the same purpose (aboutness-intentionality-teleology) in nature.
    Intentionality is a form of teleology. Both intentionality and teleology are goal-directedness — intentionality is directedness in thought, and teleology is directedness in nature. Mind and teleology are both manifestations of purpose in nature. The mind is, within nature, the same kind of process that directs nature.
    In this sense, eliminative materialism is necessary if a materialist is to maintain a non-teleological Darwinian metaphysical perspective. It is purpose that must be denied in order to deny design in nature. So the mind, as well as teleology, must be denied. Eliminative materialism is just Darwinian metaphysics carried to its logical end and applied to man. If there is no teleology, there is no intentionality, and there is no purpose in nature nor in man’s thoughts.
    The link between intentionality and teleology, and the undeniability of teleology, is even more clear if we consider our inescapable belief that other people have minds. The inference that other people have minds based on their purposeful (intentional-teleological) behavior, which is obviously correct and is essential to living a sane life, can be applied to our understanding of nature as well. Just as we know that other people have purposes (intentionality), we know just as certainly that nature has purposes (teleology). In a sense, intelligent design is the recognition of the same purpose-teleology-intentionality in nature that we recognize in ourselves and others.
    Teleology and intentionality are certainly the inferences to be drawn from the obvious purposeful arrangement of parts in nature, but I (as a loyal Thomist!) believe that teleology and intentionality are manifest in an even more fundamental way in nature. Any goal-directed natural change is teleological, even if purpose and arrangement of parts is not clearly manifest. The behavior of a single electron orbiting a proton is teleological, because the motion of the electron hews to specific ends (according to quantum mechanics). A pencil falling to the floor behaves teleologically (it does not fall up, or burst into flame, etc.). Purposeful arrangement of parts is teleology on an even more sophisticated scale, but teleology exists in even the most basic processes in nature. Physics is no less teleological than biology.
    https://evolutionnews.org/2016/08/teleology_and_t/

    And indeed, the presupposition of teleological, goal directed, purpose, and the intentionality of our own immaterial minds, lay at the founding of modern science.

    As Dr. Koons states, “Without the (Judeo-Christian) faith in the rational intelligibility of the world and the divine vocation of human beings to master it, modern science would never have been possible.”

    Science and Theism: Concord, not Conflict* – Robert C. Koons
    IV. The Dependency of Science Upon Theism (Page 21)
    Excerpt: Far from undermining the credibility of theism, the remarkable success of science in modern times is a remarkable confirmation of the truth of theism. It was from the perspective of Judeo-Christian theism—and from the perspective alone—that it was predictable that science would have succeeded as it has. Without the faith in the rational intelligibility of the world and the divine vocation of human beings to master it, modern science would never have been possible, and, even today, the continued rationality of the enterprise of science depends on convictions that can be reasonably grounded only in theistic metaphysics.
    http://www.robkoons.net/media/.....ffd524.pdf

    Moreover, due to advances in modern science, especially due to advances in Quantum Mechanics, the Christian Theist can now empirically prove that the Mind of God lays behind the goal directed teleology of the universe as well as laying behind the origin of our own ‘intentional’ mind.

    Specifically, in what is termed the ‘instrumentalist approach’ to quantum mechanics, the free will of the human mind, i.e. the intentionality of the human mind, is brought into the laws of nature at their most foundational level.

    As Steven Weinberg states, (in quantum mechanics) humans are brought into the laws of nature at the most fundamental level.,,, the instrumentalist approach (in quantum mechanics) turns its back on a vision that became possible after Darwin, of a world governed by impersonal physical laws that control human behavior along with everything else.,,, In quantum mechanics these probabilities do not exist until people choose what to measure,,, Unlike the case of classical physics, a choice must be made,,,

    The Trouble with Quantum Mechanics – Steven Weinberg – January 19, 2017
    Excerpt: The instrumentalist approach,, (the) wave function,, is merely an instrument that provides predictions of the probabilities of various outcomes when measurements are made.,,
    In the instrumentalist approach,,, humans are brought into the laws of nature at the most fundamental level. According to Eugene Wigner, a pioneer of quantum mechanics, “it was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to the consciousness.”11
    Thus the instrumentalist approach turns its back on a vision that became possible after Darwin, of a world governed by impersonal physical laws that control human behavior along with everything else. It is not that we object to thinking about humans. Rather, we want to understand the relation of humans to nature, not just assuming the character of this relation by incorporating it in what we suppose are nature’s fundamental laws, but rather by deduction from laws that make no explicit reference to humans. We may in the end have to give up this goal,,,
    Some physicists who adopt an instrumentalist approach argue that the probabilities we infer from the wave function are objective probabilities, independent of whether humans are making a measurement. I don’t find this tenable. In quantum mechanics these probabilities do not exist until people choose what to measure, such as the spin in one or another direction. Unlike the case of classical physics, a choice must be made,,,
    http://www.nybooks.com/article.....mechanics/

    And the instrumentalist approach in quantum mechanics, (as opposed to the ‘realist approach’ in quantum mechanics), has now been empirically confirmed.

    Specifically, the final ‘free will’ loophole in quantum mechanics has now been closed. Specifically, the “creepy” and “far-fetched” possibility that the “physicist running the experiment does not have complete free will in choosing each detector’s setting” and that “a particle detector’s settings may “conspire” with events in the shared causal past of the detectors themselves to determine which properties of the particle to measure”,,,

    Closing the ‘free will’ loophole: Using distant quasars to test Bell’s theorem – February 20, 2014
    Excerpt: Though two major loopholes have since been closed, a third remains; physicists refer to it as “setting independence,” or more provocatively, “free will.” This loophole proposes that a particle detector’s settings may “conspire” with events in the shared causal past of the detectors themselves to determine which properties of the particle to measure — a scenario that, however far-fetched, implies that a physicist running the experiment does not have complete free will in choosing each detector’s setting. Such a scenario would result in biased measurements, suggesting that two particles are correlated more than they actually are, and giving more weight to quantum mechanics than classical physics.
    “It sounds creepy, but people realized that’s a logical possibility that hasn’t been closed yet,” says MIT’s David Kaiser, the Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science and senior lecturer in the Department of Physics. “Before we make the leap to say the equations of quantum theory tell us the world is inescapably crazy and bizarre, have we closed every conceivable logical loophole, even if they may not seem plausible in the world we know today?”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re…..112515.htm

    ,,, that “creepy” and “far-fetched” possibility has now been closed.

    Anton Zeilinger and company have now pushed the “free-will loophole” back to 7.8 billion years ago using quasars to determine measurement settings.

    Cosmic Bell Test Using Random Measurement Settings from High-Redshift Quasars – Anton Zeilinger – 14 June 2018
    Abstract: In this Letter, we present a cosmic Bell experiment with polarization-entangled photons, in which measurement settings were determined based on real-time measurements of the wavelength of photons from high-redshift quasars, whose light was emitted billions of years ago; the experiment simultaneously ensures locality. Assuming fair sampling for all detected photons and that the wavelength of the quasar photons had not been selectively altered or previewed between emission and detection, we observe statistically significant violation of Bell’s inequality by 9.3 standard deviations, corresponding to an estimated p value of ? 7.4 × 10^21. This experiment pushes back to at least ? 7.8 Gyr ago the most recent time by which any local-realist influences could have exploited the “freedom-of-choice” loophole to engineer the observed Bell violation, excluding any such mechanism from 96% of the space-time volume of the past light cone of our experiment, extending from the big bang to today.
    https://journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.121.080403

    Moreover, here is another recent interesting experiment by Anton Zeilinger, (and about 70 other researchers), that insured the complete independence of measurement settings in a Bell test from the free will choices of 100,000 human participants instead of having a physical randomizer determine measurement settings.

    Challenging local realism with human choices – A. Zeilinger – 20 May 2018
    Abstract: A Bell test, which challenges the philosophical worldview of local realism against experimental observations, is a randomized trial requiring spatially-distributed entanglement, fast and high-efficiency detection, and unpredictable measurement settings. While technology can perfect the first two of these, and while technological randomness sources enable device-independent protocols based on Bell inequality violation, challenging local realism using physical randomizers inevitably makes assumptions about the same physics one aims to test. Bell himself noted this weakness of physical setting choices and argued that human free will could rigorously be used to assure unpredictability in Bell tests. Here we report a suite of local realism tests using human choices, avoiding assumptions about predictability in physics. We recruited ~100,000 human participants to play an online video game that incentivizes fast, sustained input of unpredictable bits while also illustrating Bell test methodology. The participants generated 97,347,490 binary choices, which were directed via a scalable web platform to twelve laboratories on five continents, in which 13 experiments tested local realism using photons, single atoms, atomic ensembles, and superconducting devices. Over a 12-hour period on the 30 Nov. 2016, participants worldwide provided a sustained flow of over 1000 bits/s to the experiments, which used different human-generated bits to choose each measurement setting. The observed correlations strongly contradict local realism and other realist positions in bi-partite and tri-partite scenarios. Project outcomes include closing of the freedom-of-choice loophole, gamification of statistical and quantum non-locality concepts, new methods for quantum-secured communications, a very large dataset of human-generated randomness, and networking techniques for global participation in experimental science.
    https://arxiv.org/abs/1805.04431

  54. 54
    bornagain77 says:

    As well, Contexuality and/or the Kochen-Speckter Theorem, now confirm the reality of free will within quantum mechanics.

    With contextuality we find, “In the quantum world, the property that you discover through measurement is not the property that the system actually had prior to the measurement process. What you observe necessarily depends on how you carried out the observation” and “Measurement outcomes depend on all the other measurements that are performed – the full context of the experiment. Contextuality means that quantum measurements can not be thought of as simply revealing some pre-existing properties of the system under study. ”

    Contextuality is ‘magic ingredient’ for quantum computing – June 11, 2012
    Excerpt: Contextuality was first recognized as a feature of quantum theory almost 50 years ago. The theory showed that it was impossible to explain measurements on quantum systems in the same way as classical systems.
    In the classical world, measurements simply reveal properties that the system had, such as colour, prior to the measurement. In the quantum world, the property that you discover through measurement is not the property that the system actually had prior to the measurement process. What you observe necessarily depends on how you carried out the observation.
    Imagine turning over a playing card. It will be either a red suit or a black suit – a two-outcome measurement. Now imagine nine playing cards laid out in a grid with three rows and three columns. Quantum mechanics predicts something that seems contradictory – there must be an even number of red cards in every row and an odd number of red cards in every column. Try to draw a grid that obeys these rules and you will find it impossible. It’s because quantum measurements cannot be interpreted as merely revealing a pre-existing property in the same way that flipping a card reveals a red or black suit.
    Measurement outcomes depend on all the other measurements that are performed – the full context of the experiment.
    Contextuality means that quantum measurements can not be thought of as simply revealing some pre-existing properties of the system under study. That’s part of the weirdness of quantum mechanics.
    http://phys.org/news/2014-06-w.....antum.html

    And with the Kochen-Speckter Theorem we find, as leading experimental physicist Anton Zeilinger states in the following video, what we perceive as reality now depends on our earlier decision what to measure. Which is a very, very, deep message about the nature of reality and our part in the whole universe. We are not just passive observers.”

    “The Kochen-Speckter Theorem talks about properties of one system only. So we know that we cannot assume – to put it precisely, we know that it is wrong to assume that the features of a system, which we observe in a measurement exist prior to measurement. Not always. I mean in a certain cases. So in a sense, what we perceive as reality now depends on our earlier decision what to measure. Which is a very, very, deep message about the nature of reality and our part in the whole universe. We are not just passive observers.”
    Anton Zeilinger –
    Quantum Physics Debunks Materialism – video (7:17 minute mark)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=4C5pq7W5yRM#t=437

    And since free will is a entirely Theistic presupposition,,,

    Free will: a source totally detached from matter (detached from nature) which is the origin (cause) of options, thoughts, feelings,… That is, the absence of (natural) laws, the existence of an “autonomous mind”, i.e. a principium individuationis.

    ,,, And since free will is a entirely Theistic presupposition, then, of course, verifying the reality of free will at such a fundamental level of reality empirically verifies the Christians’ contention that the Mind of God created, and sustains, this universe.

    Moreover, allowing the Agent causality of God ‘back’ into physics, as the Christian founders of modern science originally envisioned, and as quantum mechanics itself now empirically demands, provides a very plausible resolution for the much sought after ‘theory of everything’ in that Christ’s resurrection from the dead provides an empirically backed reconciliation, via the Shroud of Turin, between quantum mechanics and general relativity into that quote unquote ‘Theory of Everything”

    Copernican Principle, Agent Causality, and Jesus Christ as the “Theory of Everything”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NziDraiPiOw

    Shroud of Turin: From discovery of Photographic Negative, to 3D Information, to Hologram
    https://youtu.be/F-TL4QOCiis

    The absorbed energy in the Shroud body image formation appears as contributed by discrete (quantum) values – Giovanni Fazio, Giuseppe Mandaglio – 2008
    Excerpt: This result means that the optical density distribution,, can not be attributed at the absorbed energy described in the framework of the classical physics model. It is, in fact, necessary to hypothesize a absorption by discrete values of the energy where the ‘quantum’ is equal to the one necessary to yellow one fibril.
    http://cab.unime.it/journals/i.....802004/271

    Astonishing discovery at Christ’s tomb supports Turin Shroud – NOV 26TH 2016
    Excerpt: The first attempts made to reproduce the face on the Shroud by radiation, used a CO2 laser which produced an image on a linen fabric that is similar at a macroscopic level. However, microscopic analysis showed a coloring that is too deep and many charred linen threads, features that are incompatible with the Shroud image. Instead, the results of ENEA “show that a short and intense burst of VUV directional radiation can color a linen cloth so as to reproduce many of the peculiar characteristics of the body image on the Shroud of Turin, including shades of color, the surface color of the fibrils of the outer linen fabric, and the absence of fluorescence”.
    ‘However, Enea scientists warn, “it should be noted that the total power of VUV radiations required to instantly color the surface of linen that corresponds to a human of average height, body surface area equal to = 2000 MW/cm2 17000 cm2 = 34 thousand billion watts makes it impractical today to reproduce the entire Shroud image using a single laser excimer, since this power cannot be produced by any VUV light source built to date (the most powerful available on the market come to several billion watts )”.
    Comment
    The ENEA study of the Holy Shroud of Turin concluded that it would take 34 Thousand Billion Watts of VUV radiations to make the image on the shroud. This output of electromagnetic energy remains beyond human technology.
    https://www.ewtn.co.uk/news/latest/astonishing-discovery-at-christ-s-tomb-supports-turin-shroud

    Particle Radiation from the Body – July 2012 – M. Antonacci, A. C. Lind
    Excerpt: The Shroud’s frontal and dorsal body images are encoded with the same amount of intensity, independent of any pressure or weight from the body. The bottom part of the cloth (containing the dorsal image) would have born all the weight of the man’s supine body, yet the dorsal image is not encoded with a greater amount of intensity than the frontal image. Radiation coming from the body would not only explain this feature, but also the left/right and light/dark reversals found on the cloth’s frontal and dorsal body images.
    http://www.academicjournals.or.....onacci.pdf

    Besides the empirical verification of ‘free will’ and/or Agent causality within quantum theory bringing that rather startling solution to the much sought after ‘theory of everything’, there is also a fairly drastic implication for individual people being “brought into the laws of nature at the most fundamental level” as well.

    Although free will is often thought of as allowing someone to choose between a veritable infinity of options, in a theistic view of reality that veritable infinity of options all boils down to just two options. Eternal life, (infinity if you will), with God, or Eternal life, (infinity again if you will), without God. C.S. Lewis states the situation as such:

    “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell.”
    – C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

    And exactly as would be a priori expected on the Christian view of reality, we find two very different eternities in reality. An ‘infinitely destructive’ eternity associated with General Relativity and a extremely orderly eternity associated with Special Relativity:

    Quantum Mechanics, Special Relativity, General Relativity and Christianity – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4QDy1Soolo

    Again, the implications for individual humans are fairly drastic, i.e. you are literally choosing between eternal life life with God or eternal death separated from God:

    Verse:

    Deuteronomy 30:19-20
    This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

    Because of such dire consequences for our eternal souls, I can only plead for atheists to seriously reconsider their choice to reject God, and to now choose life, even eternal life with God, instead of eternal death.

    Turin Shroud Hologram Reveals The Words “The Lamb” – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Tmka1l8GAQ

    John 5:24
    Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

  55. 55
    daveS says:

    Barry,

    PS to my #51,

    After some more thought, you are correct in that since I believe I will not exist after my death, I’m not concerned about my own welfare after that point. My own best interests also cease to exist after that point.

    What I meant is that simply that, like most of us, I am concerned about future generations, so I adjust my own behavior depending on how I anticipate it will affect them.

    But yes, after I am gone, my interests will no longer exist.

  56. 56
    daveS says:

    EricMH,

    @daveS, like Barry said, while it feels right to want what is best for people beyond our death, it doesn’t make sense if atheism is correct.

    I don’t follow this.

    I am married, and according to the statistics, there’s a good chance I will die before my wife. Of course I would want her to have a comfortable and enjoyable life when I am gone, so I take specific actions now in order to help ensure that would be the case.

    I don’t have children, but I have close relatives and friends who do. I watch them grow up and I care that they have comfortable and enjoyable lives, god or not. For many people, having children and seeing them thrive is an important and fulfilling part of life, so I would want my relatives’ and friends’ children to be able to have their own families if they choose.

    Therefore, I wish that all the people in this chain of generations experience a comfortable and enjoyable life.

    I’m not saying I can derive my feelings about this matter from an axiomatic system of course. But I’m human, and humans tend to care about these things. I don’t think that believing in a god or not has much or anything to do with it.

    (I think Barry’s point was a little different, so I addressed it in a separate post).

  57. 57
    Barry Arrington says:

    daveS,

    This is a little bit amusing, but also sad.

    OP: Life has no meaning in a random universe.

    dave: But I FEEL like I have meaning.

    Barry: No doubt, but that is just a feeling, and if your premises are correct you are fooling yourself.

    dave: Is it possible you are wrong? Maybe I can have my atheism and meaning too.

    Barry: No, that is not possible.

    dave: It causes me distress to see those close to me suffer. Therefore my long-term best interest is connected to the welfare of others.

    Barry: That’s just another way of saying it feels like you have meaning.

    Eric: An atheist has no long term interest past death.

    dave: But I FEEL like I do. I’m not saying I can derive my feelings about this matter from an axiomatic system of course.

    OK dave. No one can argue with your feelings. They are what they are. You seem to be managing the cognitive dissonance caused by believing (as Eric aptly put it) something (atheism) that is at odds with your strongest moral intuitions and does not have rational support.

    There is none so blind as he who will not see.

  58. 58
    daveS says:

    Barry,

    This is a little bit amusing, but also sad.

    I’m sorry I have caused you to feel sadness. 😛

    But neither of us has access to the others’ life experience. It’s difficult to communicate across this divide.

    Obviously you are not convinced by what I say. I find some of your premises unconvincing as well, as they are at odds with my life experience. You claim to understand my own thought processes well enough to psychoanalyze me. I, on the other hand, will not make corresponding claims about your thoughts.

  59. 59
    asauber says:

    When I waste resources, I feel guilty because I understand that my actions might end up harming future generations.

    daveS,

    Justice is not a scientific concept. Why are you devoted to the idea of it, when your worldview (Atheism) says nothing about justice anyway?

    Andrew

  60. 60
    daveS says:

    asauber,

    I don’t think this has anything to do with atheism vs. theism.

    I care about those close to me, their children, and their descendants. As well as their future well-being. Who doesn’t?

    I don’t make a conscious choice to love my fellow (hu)man. It seems to come naturally.

    How about you? Did you have to decide to love your children, nieces, or nephews, if you have any?

  61. 61
    asauber says:

    I don’t make a conscious choice to love my fellow (hu)man.

    daveS,

    Atheism is definitely relevant to a position like yours. I think your definition of love (an emotional state) is erroneous. I suspect that the same voices that taught you Atheism gave you a bad definition of love.

    Andrew

  62. 62
    daveS says:

    asauber,

    You can’t determine my complete understanding or definition(s) of “love” from a single post here. Perhaps you could lay out a good definition of “love”?

    Here’s one that I’m guessing might be more in line with your usage:

    unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another

    That’s how I’m using the word “love” in my post above.

  63. 63
    asauber says:

    daveS,

    unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another

    This definition still fails. It still identifies love as an emotional state.

    Love is more than that.

    Andrew

  64. 64
    bornagain77 says:

    daveS claims:

    “I don’t make a conscious choice to love my fellow (hu)man. It seems to come naturally.”

    Can you, as an atheistic materialist, please explain exactly where love “naturally” comes from?

    Jennifer Fulwiler: Scientific Atheism to Christ – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMbUvlOcXNA

    What caused Jennifer Fulwiler to question her atheism to begin with? It was the birth of her first child. She says that when she looked at her child, the only way her atheist mind could explain the love that she had for him was to assume it was the result of nothing more than chemical reactions in her brain. However, in the video I linked above, she says:
    “And I looked down at him, and I realized that’s not true.”

    And indeed it is not true. As Jennifer Fulwiler realized when she looked at her child for the first time, love has a far deeper origin than mere physics and chemistry can ever possibly explain.

    1 John 4:7-8
    Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

    So daveS, do you, as a atheist, believe your love for your wife and children is nothing but mere chemistry and physics?

    i.e. Do you look at your family as if they actually were genetically determined meat robots or do you love them unconditionally as real persons?

    Darwin’s Robots: When Evolutionary Materialists Admit that Their Own Worldview Fails – Nancy Pearcey – April 23, 2015
    Excerpt: This is an amazing case of Orwellian doublethink. Minsky says people are “forced to maintain” the conviction of free will, even when their own worldview tells them that “it’s false.”
    When I teach these concepts in the classroom, an example my students find especially poignant is Flesh and Machines by Rodney Brooks, professor emeritus at MIT. Brooks writes that a human being is nothing but a machine — a “big bag of skin full of biomolecules” interacting by the laws of physics and chemistry. In ordinary life, of course, it is difficult to actually see people that way. But, he says, “When I look at my children, I can, when I force myself, … see that they are machines.”
    Is that how he treats them, though? Of course not: “That is not how I treat them…. I interact with them on an entirely different level. They have my unconditional love, the furthest one might be able to get from rational analysis.” Certainly if what counts as “rational” is a materialist worldview in which humans are machines, then loving your children is irrational. It has no basis
    within Brooks’s worldview. It sticks out of his box.
    How does he reconcile such a heart-wrenching cognitive dissonance? He doesn’t. Brooks ends by saying, “I maintain two sets of inconsistent beliefs.” He has given up on any attempt to reconcile his theory with his experience. He has abandoned all hope for a unified, logically consistent worldview.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....95451.html

    If you lived your life according to the presuppositions inherent within your atheistic materialism, you would, in fact, be a psychopath, not a loving father and husband.

    The Heretic – Who is Thomas Nagel and why are so many of his fellow academics condemning him? – March 25, 2013
    Excerpt: ,,,Fortunately, materialism is never translated into life as it’s lived. As colleagues and friends, husbands and mothers, wives and fathers, sons and daughters, materialists never put their money where their mouth is. Nobody thinks his daughter is just molecules in motion and nothing but; nobody thinks the Holocaust was evil, but only in a relative, provisional sense. A materialist who lived his life according to his professed convictions—understanding himself to have no moral agency at all, seeing his friends and enemies and family as genetically determined robots—wouldn’t just be a materialist: He’d be a psychopath.
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/.....tml?page=3

    Your inability to be able live your life, consistently, as if atheism were actually true, is a knock down proof that your atheism cannot possibly be true but is instead a false, delusional, worldview:

    That is to say, if it is impossible for you to live as if your worldview were actually true then your worldview cannot possibly reflect reality as it really is but your worldview must instead be based on a delusion.

    Existential Argument against Atheism – November 1, 2013 by Jason Petersen
    1. If a worldview is true then you should be able to live consistently with that worldview.
    2. Atheists are unable to live consistently with their worldview.
    3. If you can’t live consistently with an atheist worldview then the worldview does not reflect reality.
    4. If a worldview does not reflect reality then that worldview is a delusion.
    5. If atheism is a delusion then atheism cannot be true.
    Conclusion: Atheism is false.
    http://answersforhope.com/exis.....t-atheism/

  65. 65
    daveS says:

    asauber,

    Love is more than that.

    Yes, I agree.

  66. 66
    Barry Arrington says:

    daveS:

    You claim to understand my own thought processes well enough to psychoanalyze me

    Nonsense. You affirm mutually exclusive propositions at the same time. Anyone who does that has deluded themselves about one or the other proposition. I merely pointed that out.

  67. 67
    daveS says:

    Barry,

    I was referring to the part where you spoke of my “managing cognitive dissonance”.

    Edit: Do you really think our differences on this issue are due to trivial logic errors on my part? (And delusion, I guess…)

  68. 68
    Charles Birch says:

    daveS

    You have stated that loving your fellow humans ‘seems to come naturally’.

    I think that’s hugely important.

    I have come to my (provisional, pending further evidence) theistic beliefs without subscribing to any organised religion.

    My beliefs are based mainly on science, philosophy and the accounts of mystics throughout the ages.

    It’s that third category – mystical experience – which is relevant to ‘love coming naturally’.

    I understand ‘mysticism’ to be a state of expanded consciousness, where the brain’s ‘filtering’ of reality is bypassed and a far greater awareness supervenes.

    Mystics achieve this state via different means – fasting, deep meditation and entheogenic drugs are deliberate methods; stress, crisis and trauma – such as that which triggers NDEs – are involuntary. Mystics have been with us throughout the ages, and their accounts are remarkably consistent.

    Here, for example, is the formerly-atheistic Buddhist academic Dr Martin Ball describing his experience with DMT. The relevant section is from 14.20 – 18.40:

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=PQctOMSmBuk

    Yet Ball’s experience is nothing new – the awareness of God/All That Is/Ultimate Reality/Vast Active Living Intelligent System (whatever you want to call it) as Infinite Love is universal in mystical experience.

    Maurice Bucke’s account, recorded early last century is of experiencing reality as a “living Presence” and “the foundation principle of all the worlds” as Love. (Bucke’s mystical event took place while travelling home in a hansom cab after a night of music and poetry reading with friends.)

    The same themes recur again and again. ‘God’ is a Being of infinite love, and we (and the whole of reality) are all emanations of God; part of God; outflowings from God.

    If mysticism is giving us a true reflection of the ultimate nature of reality, then love for our fellows is part of our divine genetics.

  69. 69
    StephenB says:

    One day the space bar on a computer was talking to a human atheist:

    SB: The purpose of my existence is to provide a space between words so that writers can craft comprehensible sentences. What is your purpose?

    HA: I have no purpose. However, I can create my own purpose and meaning where none exists.

    SB: But that makes no sense. A thing cannot create its own purpose or its own meaning. Someone on the outside of the thing must do that. My designer, for example, equipped me to help writers express their ideas. Given my features, I am fit for nothing else. If I do not perform those functions, then I am useless and my life has no meaning. I cannot just assert myself and find meaning as a can opener.

    HA: Humans are different. We evolved in a purposeless, meaningless universe, so life has no inherent meaning for us. Since our existence has no inherent meaning, we must contrive some artificial meaning by setting temporal goals for ourselves, which normally consists of publicizing the idea that life has no meaning.

    SB: So the purpose of your life is to say that life has no purpose?

    HA: In part, yes. I know that it sounds like a contradiction, but that is not the whole of it. I am also saying that humans can “find” meaning in the hot pursuit of a goal. It has meaning *for them.*

    SB: But how can you find meaning in a temporal goal that isn’t informed by some ultimate goal. If it doesn’t serve some higher purpose, then by definition, there is nothing to find and it has no meaning. If you say it has meaning for you, you are simply using words to create an illusion. If I didn’t help writers, for example, then my existence would have no meaning. I could claim that I find meaning in the number of keystrokes involved in my activity, but it would be an illusion.

    HA: You are right. If meaning isn’t there, you can’t create it.

  70. 70
    daveS says:

    Charles Birch,

    Thanks for that, I’ll take a look at it.

  71. 71
    Barry Arrington says:

    Barry to daveS

    You seem to be managing the cognitive dissonance caused by believing (as Eric aptly put it) something (atheism) that is at odds with your strongest moral intuitions and does not have rational support.

    daveS responds:

    You claim to understand my own thought processes well enough to psychoanalyze me

    Barry:

    Nonsense. You affirm mutually exclusive propositions at the same time. Anyone who does that has deluded themselves about one or the other proposition. I merely pointed that out.

    daveS

    I was referring to the part where you spoke of my “managing cognitive dissonance”.

    Well dave, I admit I made some assumptions there:

    1. I assumed that you know that you are affirming mutually exclusive propositions.

    2. I assumed that trying to believe mutually exclusive things at the same time was causing you some level of dissonance.

    3. I assumed based on your comments in this thread, that you are more or less comfortable with trying to believe mutually exclusive things at the same time.

    And that led me to conclude that you seem to be managing the cognitive dissonance caused by trying to believe mutually exclusive things at the same time.

    I readily admit that I could be wrong. Maybe your efforts to hold contradictory beliefs causes you great anguish. If that is the case, you certainly hide it well.

    daveS

    Do you really think our differences on this issue are due to trivial logic errors on my part? (And delusion, I guess…)

    Affirming that you believe mutually exclusive propositions at the same time is certainly a logic error. The error is most certainly not trivial. It is about as basic and fundamental as you can get.

  72. 72
    daveS says:

    Barry,

    The error is most certainly not trivial. It is about as basic and fundamental as you can get.

    By “trivial” I don’t mean inconsequential or not worthy of being pointed out. I do mean elementary (or basic or fundamental).

    So you do conclude I literally believe (and assert) P and not-P. It could not be because I doubt some of your premises.

  73. 73
    Barry Arrington says:

    Well dave, under any definition one cares to use, affirming mutually exclusive propositions is not a trivial logic error.

  74. 74
    Barry Arrington says:

    dave

    So you do think I literally I believe (and assert) P and not-P. It could not be because I doubt some of your premises.

    It is not a matter of what I think. You have indisputably affirmed p and not p.

    It is not a matter of doubting my premises. It is a matter of you running from the facts that you yourself have affirmed.

    Look at what you are doing here. If you think I am wrong, demonstrate it. Don’t whine about how I may be wrong and should admit that. Show me.

    Show me how there can be meaning in meaningless universe dave.

    BTW, “I feel like there is meaning even when I know that feeling is belied by the facts I postulate” is a non-starter.

  75. 75
    daveS says:

    Barry,

    It is not a matter of doubting premises.

    I’m afraid that’s exactly what it is.

    You have the burden to support your own premises. I don’t have to prove to your satisfaction that you are wrong.

  76. 76
    Barry Arrington says:

    daveS

    You have the burden to support your own premises.

    Which I and others have done repeatedly.

    I don’t have to prove to your satisfaction that you are wrong.

    But you do have the burden of proving that you are right if you want to demonstrate that you are right. And that you have failed to do.

  77. 77
    daveS says:

    Barry,

    One of your premises:

    If there is a God, meaning is possible. If there is no God, meaning is not possible.

    It might be true, for all I know (hence I’m not trying to demonstrate that my position is correct). But I have doubts about it. It seems to be at odds with my life experience.

    How can you demonstrate to someone that it is true?

    You can probably show that it follows from other (equally questionable) premises. But at some point, I suspect one would have to assert that certain of these premises are self-evident and claim that anyone who does not accept that is mentally defective in some way. (Deluded, aggressively stupid, etc.)

  78. 78
    Barry Arrington says:

    daveS

    at some point, I suspect one would have to assert that certain of these premises are self-evident and claim that anyone who does not accept that is mentally defective in some way. (Deluded, aggressively stupid, etc.)

    Indeed. There is something wrong with anyone who would deny a self-evident truth. Deluded and aggressively stupid are certainly possibilities. Is there a point in there somewhere?

  79. 79
    kairosfocus says:

    BA77, I see atheists are still trying to resurrect the dead problem of evils post Plantinga. Actually, the first fatal blow was struck by Boethius, in pondering if God why evil, but if not God whence good. In the above, the atheistical argument clearly fails to ground its recognition and rejection of evil (beyond yucky stuff I currently don’t like but wait for the next PC partyline shift). It then needs to ask, whence the moral government of mind that I appeal to, i.e. duties to truth, right reason, fairness etc. Also, these objectors to God need to differentiate between their perception and actuality. KF

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