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Go to church? You’re infected with a devout microbe

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This article at Biology Direct could be a spoof, but what with “The God helmet and ‘neurotheology’ are back,” it’s hard to tell:

Presentation of the hypothesis

Some microorganisms would gain an evolutionary advantage by encouraging human hosts to perform certain rituals that favor microbial transmission. We hypothesize that certain aspects of religious behavior observed in the human society could be influenced by microbial host control and that the transmission of some religious rituals could be regarded as the simultaneous transmission of both ideas (memes) and parasitic organisms.

Testing the hypothesis

We predict that next-generation microbiome sequencing of samples obtained from gut or brain tissues of control subjects and subjects with a history of voluntary active participation in certain religious rituals that promote microbial transmission will lead to the discovery of microbes, whose presence has a consistent and positive association with religious behavior. Our hypothesis also predicts a decline of participation in religious rituals in societies with improved sanitation.

Note that they don’t offer any evidence for the proposition now, only say that it’ll turn up. The significance of this getting published is the low level of argumentation that naturalists are prepared to entertain about the origins of religion.

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Update note: Come to think of it, Dan Graur is one of the authors. Apart from being an ENCODE foe, he is known for attacking crappy social psych papers: The problem today is that so much of the science media is content to be gunwales under in just plain junk that you can’t know for sure unless they say it IS a hoax.

34 Replies to “Go to church? You’re infected with a devout microbe

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    if so, It is a bug that we all would do well to be infected with 🙂

    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/
    Christians respond better to psychiatric treatment than atheists: – July 21, 2013
    Excerpt: “Our work suggests that people with a moderate to high level of belief in a higher power do significantly better in short-term psychiatric treatment than those without, regardless of their religious affiliation. Belief was associated with not only improved psychological wellbeing, but decreases in depression and intention to self-harm,” explained Rosmarin.
    The study looked at 159 patients, recruited over a one-year period. Each participant was asked to gauge their belief in God as well as their expectations for treatment outcome and emotion regulation, each on a five-point scale. Levels of depression, well being, and self-harm were assessed at the beginning and end of their treatment program.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....are-crazy/

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    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/

    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]
    http://www.conservapedia.com/Atheism_and_health

  3. 3
    awstar says:

    From wiki:

    Single-celled microorganisms were the first forms of life to develop on Earth, approximately 3–4 billion years ago. Further evolution was slow, and for about 3 billion years in the Precambrian eon, all organisms were microscopic. So, for most of the history of life on Earth the only forms of life were microorganisms. Bacteria, algae and fungi have been identified in amber that is 220 million years old, which shows that the morphology of microorganisms has changed little since the Triassic period.

    Perhaps the devout microbe was the very first form of life to develop on Earth and needed something increasingly larger and complex in which to appease its insatiable desire to worship, and so evolved into humans, who now want to deny their inherent need to worship by improving sanitation? We need to stop these deniers before they wipe out our species. Devout microbe conservationists unite!

  4. 4
    Querius says:

    awstar@3,

    LOL, a person after my own heart and sense of humor!

    Or maybe the microorganism evolved to prevent H.sapiens from annihilating itself . . .

    -Q

  5. 5
    VunderGuy says:

    Ah, I do love constant genetic fallacies. I also wonder if the devout microbe also makes atheists devoutly atheist or if there’s an a-devout mircrobe that makes them devout atheists and I wonder if this will make them somehow challenge the truth value of atheism… even though logically, this doesn’t anymore than it would for the truth value of theism.

  6. 6
    humbled says:

    It just keeps getting stranger.

  7. 7
    News says:

    humbled at 6, the strangest thing is that it may not be a spoof. On the other hand, it may be. Come to think of it, Dan Graur is one of the authors.

    Apart from being an ENCODE foe, he is known for attacking crappy social psych papers: http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ych-paper/ The problem today is that so much of the science media is content to be gunwales under in just plain junk that you can’t know for sure unless they say it IS a hoax.

  8. 8
    jw777 says:

    Per NPR: During the plague, the belief that God protected His people was reinforced by the recorded fact that churchgoers were more impervious to infection than non-churchgoers (aka – Jews, Deists, etc.) because, now theorized, of the exposure to incense (which has proven anti microbial properties) dispensed by priests during services.

    Per WHO: Overwhelmingly atheistic cultures, like communist Soviet Union and China, have higher rates of all infectious diseases than their more religious counterparts. Compare North Korea to South Korea for an even better juxtaposition.

    So the premise and prediction is thus far demonstrably incorrect. But let’s play this game for a moment. Imagine, if only for a second, how the world of contagion might look if everyone practiced Levitical law (I’m not suggesting we do; just imagine). There would be no STDs. None. Try to imagine that. Go further. With our modern understanding of disease, paired with a devout lifestyle, we would be rid of most suffering in the world within a generation. I don’t see it as an unreasonable prospect. Cumulative stress is the culprit of all illness. And who is more resilient to all stress? Those who have belief? Or those who have unbelief?

    Furthermore, the problem with this “parasite religion” line of thinking is that it undoes itself. If “religious belief” is as much a determined outcome as race or sexual orientation, except in this case by some kind of parasitic infestation, you can see the can of worms this would open for Freedom From Religionists. The State forcibly making Hobby Lobby conform to an identity against its universe-endowed nature would be an abomination, detestable and actually a hate crime.

    You see, if we accept the premise embedded in the article, then there is no reasonable grounds upon which you can pursue any meaningful idea of separation of church and state.

  9. 9
    Acartia_bogart says:

    News:

    humbled at 6, the strangest thing is that it may not be a spoof. On the other hand, it may be. Come to think of it, Dan Graur is one of the authors.

    No he is not. Graur was one of the reviewers of the paper, and he was fairly critical of it.

    Personally, I found it a thought provoking piece, but I think that it was certainly stretching the bounds of credulity. This being said, it did propose a hypothesis and a way to test it.

    Nature has plenty of examples of parasites and pathogens altering the behaviour of the host to increase the probability of transmission. I think that it is worth examining but it shouldn’t be restricted to religious rituals. There are numerous secular social “rituals” that are equally as effective at spreading parasites and pathogens. Going to the theatre, attending sporting events, dancing, etc.

    And just to play devils advocate, BA77 referenced studies that religious people were happier than atheists. Maybe this is simply the parasite modifying the emotions of the person to encourage the ritual behaviours that will favour transmission.

  10. 10
    Querius says:

    So how can a researcher tell if someone is truly happier or only think that they’re happier?

    And what if the researcher, infected with another mysterious parasite, only thinks they can see the difference?

    “Science” can be pretty tricky! 😉

    -Q

  11. 11
    tjguy says:

    And just to play devils advocate, BA77 referenced studies that religious people were happier than atheists. Maybe this is simply the parasite modifying the emotions of the person to encourage the ritual behaviours that will favour transmission.

    If it makes people happy, it’s a good thing, right?

    Why would any atheist be against that? In fact, if their microbes aren’t helping them be happy, why not try the religious microbes?

  12. 12
    Acartia_bogart says:

    BA77:

    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.

    As an atheist, the results of this do not surprise me. But this has nothing to do with religion itself. Human beings are social animals. As such, frequently congregating on a social level is likely to result in an increase in “happiness”, whatever that means. I would predict that you will get similar findings for people who frequently attend other social functions (e.g., dances, Legion events, Lions Club events, 4H clubs, whatever).

    Additionally, religious people, as a result of their beliefs, have a greater sense of meaning, purpose and hope in their lives.

    This is simply an unsupported statement based on bias. Theists believe that it is their religion that provides meaning and purpose to their lives so they extrapolate to the belief that those without religion are not capable of having meaning and purpose to their lives. This simply isn’t true. I am an atheist and I have meaning and purpose to my life, the main difference is that I do not rely on an external force such as religion to provide the meaning and purpose. I don’t smoke, I drink in moderation, and I consider myself to be happy. So either myself, and the other atheists that I know, are exceptions, or the implied causation is incorrect..

  13. 13
    bornagain77 says:

    AB you claim

    “Theists believe that it is their religion that provides meaning and purpose to their lives so they extrapolate to the belief that those without religion are not capable of having meaning and purpose to their lives. This simply isn’t true. I am an atheist and I have meaning and purpose to my life,”

    Yet any hope, meaning and purpose you claim to have in your life can only be illusory in the atheistic worldview. For you to live as if you have any true hope, meaning and purpose for your life is for you steal from theistic premises. Remember, Theists are not the ones claiming that the universe, and all life in it, originated for no reason and at, atheists are!. Thus if life exist for no reason or purpose, as the atheists falsely believes, then it impossible for life to have any true reason and purpose for its existence. Its that simple!

    The Absurdity of Life Without God by William Lane Craig
    Excerpt: First, there is no ultimate meaning without immortality and God. If each individual person passes out of existence when he dies, then what ultimate meaning can be given to his life? Does it really matter whether he ever existed or not? It might be said that his life was important because it influenced others or affected the course of history. But that shows only a relative significance to his life, not an ultimate significance. His life may be important relative to certain other events. But what is the ultimate significance to any of those events? If all of the events are meaningless, then what can be the ultimate significance of influencing any of them? Ultimately it makes no difference.
    http://www.freerepublic.com/fo.....9706/posts
    video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJqkpI1W75c

    Jennifer Fulwiler: Scientific Atheism to Christ – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aw8uUOPoi2M

    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.”

    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

    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/

    “Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. 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 a word without meaning.”
    CS Lewis – Mere Christianity

    I strongly suggest watching Dr. Craig’s presentation, that I have linked, to get a full feel for just how insane the metaphysical naturalist’s position actually is.

    Is Metaphysical Naturalism Viable? – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzS_CQnmoLQ

  14. 14
    Acartia_bogart says:

    BA77:

    Yet any hope, meaning and purpose you claim to have in your life can only be illusory in the atheistic worldview.

    This makes my point exactly. The only people who claim that atheists can’t have meaning, purpose and hope in their lives are non-atheists. That has as much validity as christians saying that muslims are wrong, muslims saying that christians are wrong, and Hindus saying that both christians and muslims are wrong. The only thing that you can say with certainty is that religion brings meaning, purpose and hope to your life. And that is fine. I accept that as being true. But you can’t extrapolate that to conclude that those who don’t share your belief do not have meaning, purpose and hope in their lives. Admittedly, the purpose, meaning and hopes that I have for my life may be different than yours, but they are no less real.

  15. 15
    bornagain77 says:

    Acartia_bogart, logic is not your strong suit is it eh?!?

    In a purposeless universe it is impossible for any life in that universe to have ‘real’ purpose!!!

    Any purpose you imagine you have for your life can only be illusory since, according to the atheist’s worldview, nothing exists for any purpose in the first place. Much like the ‘illusion of self’ that your atoms have foisted off on you, purpose must be illusory in the atheist’s worldview:

    The Confidence of Jerry Coyne – Ross Douthat – January 6, 2014
    Excerpt: then halfway through this peroration, we have as an aside the confession that yes, okay, it’s quite possible given materialist premises that “our sense of self is a neuronal illusion.” At which point the entire edifice suddenly looks terribly wobbly — because who, exactly, is doing all of this forging and shaping and purpose-creating if Jerry Coyne, as I understand him (and I assume he understands himself) quite possibly does not actually exist at all? The theme of his argument is the crucial importance of human agency under eliminative materialism, but if under materialist premises the actual agent is quite possibly a fiction, then who exactly is this I who “reads” and “learns” and “teaches,” and why in the universe’s name should my illusory self believe Coyne’s bold proclamation that his illusory self’s purposes are somehow “real” and worthy of devotion and pursuit? (Let alone that they’re morally significant:,,) Read more here:
    http://douthat.blogs.nytimes.c.....oyne/?_r=0

    So AB do ‘you’ really exist or are ‘you’ merely a neuronal illusion?

    AB, as to being poor at logic, don’t worry other atheists seem to suffer the same defect as you:

    Sam Harris’s Free Will: The Medial Pre-Frontal Cortex Did It – Martin Cothran – November 9, 2012
    Excerpt: There is something ironic about the position of thinkers like Harris on issues like this: they claim that their position is the result of the irresistible necessity of logic (in fact, they pride themselves on their logic). Their belief is the consequent, in a ground/consequent relation between their evidence and their conclusion. But their very stated position is that any mental state — including their position on this issue — is the effect of a physical, not logical cause.
    By their own logic, it isn’t logic that demands their assent to the claim that free will is an illusion, but the prior chemical state of their brains. The only condition under which we could possibly find their argument convincing is if they are not true. The claim that free will is an illusion requires the possibility that minds have the freedom to assent to a logical argument, a freedom denied by the claim itself. It is an assent that must, in order to remain logical and not physiological, presume a perspective outside the physical order.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....66221.html

  16. 16
    Acartia_bogart says:

    BA77, requiring a purpose in order to exist and something that exists having a purpose are completely different things. My purpose is to be the best husband and the best father and the best friend that I can be. That is a purpose that I have given myself, not one that any religion has given me.

    But I have no problem with the idea that my actual existence is ultimately the result of unguided natural processes and not the result of some supernatural being.

    What I don’t understand is why some people need religion to bring meaning to their lives. I am not judging; whatever works for you, as long as you don’t try to impose it on me, I will support. It is just something that I have never needed.

  17. 17
    velikovskys says:

    BA,
    In a purposeless universe it is impossible for any life in that universe to have ‘real’ purpose!!!

    And yet, millions of atheists find purpose and meaning in life. The lack of an afterlife actually provides life with more meaning, life is not just a test of one’s faith,the minors. It is the Show. Meaning of life is not a dictate but a journey.

    And if you are wrong about your particular version of God,then it is you who is living with the illusion of divine purpose. And thereby missed the “real” meaning.

    But of course for the True Believer there can only be one way.

  18. 18
    bornagain77 says:

    Any purpose you ascribe for yourself in a purposeless universe must, of necessity, be illusory, since you, as an atheist, insist there is no purpose for the universe. The logic is inescapable. Just because you have stolen Theistic precepts of meaning and purpose to say your life has meaning and purpose is of no consequence to the logic.

    Oh for a brutally honest atheist once again such as Friedrich Nietzsche was

    Parable of the Madman – Friedrich Nietzsche
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TO5MytakLy8

  19. 19
    Acartia_bogart says:

    BA77, it is nice that you perceive opinion as fact. It must be so comforting.

  20. 20
    bornagain77 says:

    But alas AB, it is not I who places my opinion above facts. That would be you with your insistence that you perceive/imagine your life as having real meaning, though also, at the same time, claiming the opposing fact as true that the universe has no meaning. The disconnect in your logic is quite stark actually!

    Moreover, to repeat, it is impossible to live consistently within the atheistic/materialistic worldview, therefore the atheistic worldview is not true:

    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

    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://www.weeklystandard.com/.....tml?page=3

    Verse and Music:

    Jeremiah 29:11
    For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

    Mandisa – Esther – Born For This – music video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxFCber4TDo

    Mandy Moore – Only Hope
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmt9XtMrEnk

  21. 21
  22. 22
    Acartia_bogart says:

    BA77, if I really had any respect for your opinion, I might be offended. But given that you are insisting, with no rationale, that your opinion is right and mine is wrong, I will sleep quite well at night (and maybe in the afternoon as well).

    But I do have one question. Can you argue, using your own logic, not someone else’s, why an atheist can’t have purpose, meaning and hope in his/her life? But use logical arguments, not dogma.

  23. 23
    bornagain77 says:

    Interesting, in the first paragraph you claim I used no rationale, but in the second you claim that I used somebody else’s logic.

    Which is it? Did I use no rationale or did I use somebody else’s logic?

    It really is hard to take you seriously when your very own post refutes itself! 🙂

  24. 24
    Acartia_bogart says:

    BA77, it is hard to tell which arguments are yours and which are someone else’s. You throw out references and excerpts like others would use weapons. Are you sure that you would pass the Turing test?

    I am just asking you to use your own words, without quote mining and link bombing, to present your case. This shouldn’t be difficult because there is no research to support one view or another.

    All I am requesting is a logical, rational reason why myself, as an atheist, cannot have meaning, purpose and hopes in my life. In short, I want you to give me a reason why my only options are conversion to faith or suicide, because you are essentially claiming that life without religion is not worth living.

    I look forward to your response. It may not be enlightening, but I am sure that it will be entertaining.

  25. 25
    bornagain77 says:

    AB, the argument has been made. I will not repeat it for your ‘entertainment’. Nor will I amend my posting style to satisfy your, nor any other atheists, whims.

  26. 26
    Acartia_bogart says:

    BA77: “AB, the argument has been made.”

    Actually, it hasn’t. Opinions are not arguments.

    “Nor will I amend my posting style to satisfy your, nor any other atheists, whims.”

    I have not asked you to change your posting “style”. Only to make your argument in your own words rather than resort to the words of others. For an intelligent and logical thinker, such as you claim to be, that shouldn’t be a hardship.

    So, again, all I am asking for is a legitimate rationale, not based on religious dogma, why an atheist can’t have meaning, purpose and hope in his/her life. I am sure that there are many people who would love to hear your argument.

  27. 27
    bornagain77 says:

    AB,

    ““AB, the argument has been made.”

    Actually, it hasn’t. Opinions are not arguments.”

    =========

    Actually it has been made and it is not an opinion it is a argument leading to a conclusion denied on pain of irrationality. But so be it. I got better things to do that watch you chase your tail in a circle. good night!

  28. 28
    StephenA says:

    All I am requesting is a logical, rational reason why myself, as an atheist, cannot have meaning, purpose and hopes in my life.

    As an atheist you can have meaning and purpose… but only if you are wrong.

    That is to say, if you are right, then meaning does not in fact exist. You and I can believe that it does, but we would both be deluded.

    If you are wrong however, and there is an ultimate being that gives purpose and meaning to the world and our lives, then your life would actually have meaning and purpose, even if you believed that it did not.

    You do understand that believing you have purpose is not the same as actually having a purpose, right?

  29. 29
    Acartia_bogart says:

    BA77, I can’t be chasing my tail. I had it surgically removed at birth. Along with the horns.

    I have asked a very simple question but you refuse to answer it. It is simple. Why can’t an atheist have purpose, meaning and hope in their lives, in spite of ample evidence to the contrary? Your answer can be boiled down to the fact that you require an external source to provide these aspects to your life so everyone else must as well. That is as ridiculous as a diabetic saying that a non diabetic’s ability to metabolize sugar is an illusion.

  30. 30
    StephenA says:

    Your answer can be boiled down to the fact that you require an external source to provide these aspects to your life so everyone else must as well. That is as ridiculous as a diabetic saying that a non diabetic’s ability to metabolize sugar is an illusion.

    You seem to be saying that you can create a meaning or purpose for you own life without outside assistance.

    You cannot. Nobody can. You can create the illusion, the sensation of having these things but you cannot create the thing itself.

    This should be obvious from the definitions of meaning and purpose.

    purpose
    noun
    1. The reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.

    From this we can see that only the creator of a thing can say what the purpose of a thing is. If a thing has no creator (as you claim) then that thing also has no purpose. This is a simple matter of definition.

    We might use a rock to bash nails into a piece of wood, but we would not generally say that this is the purpose of the rock. And even in in this case we find that such purpose as it had came from outside. The rock did not give itself a purpose.

    meaning
    noun
    1. What is meant by a word, text, concept, or action.

    Again this requires an intent behind the thing that comes from the designer of the thing. I create this sentence with a particular meaning. The sentence did not create it’s own meaning.

    If a sentence (or more accurately, a string of characters) were to come into existence but there never existed any creature that knew the language it was written in, it would be nonsense to suggest that it had meaning. Things can be designed with meaning by intelligent agents, and other intelligent agents can often perceive that meaning. If you discover meaning in your life then either someone designed it into you, or you are deluded.

    You could enjoy gardening and say that your garden gives your life meaning. You might say that your purpose in life was to be the best gardener you can. You might also say that the purpose of jellyfish is to sting people you do not like. Both statements would be equally true.

  31. 31
    Acartia_bogart says:

    StephanA: “You seem to be saying that you can create a meaning or purpose for you own life without outside assistance.”

    I never said that. I only said that I can do it without supernatural assistance. Obviously, our entire life is affected (modified/assisted) by our interactions with family, friends and total strangers. None of us is an island. And I won’t even try to say that religion did not have an influence, because I grew up in a society that was largely influenced by it. But to say that my life has no meaning or purpose if I am an atheist is, frankly, bigoted and arrogant.

  32. 32
    StephenA says:

    But to say that my life has no meaning or purpose if I am an atheist is, frankly, bigoted and arrogant.

    You clearly do not understand what we are saying if you think that is what we are claiming. If what you believe (atheism) is true then nobody’s life has meaning or purpose. Yet you life your life as though you did in fact have meaning and purpose. You are being inconsistent.

    As a Christian I believe that your life has meaning and purpose, same as everyone else. As an atheist, you have no reason to believe your life has purpose or meaning. Your life does in fact have purpose, but you have no reason to believe it does.

    Once again I ask, You do understand that believing you have purpose is not the same as actually having a purpose, right?

  33. 33
    Acartia_bogart says:

    StephenA, I am just arguing that there is no supernatural “purpose” to mine or anyones existence. Any purpose and meaning we have is self produced, in interaction with society as a whole. This societal influence includes religion, but religion (or faith) is not a requirement for it.

  34. 34
    StephenA says:

    StephenA, I am just arguing that there is no supernatural “purpose” to mine or anyones existence. Any purpose and meaning we have is self produced, in interaction with society as a whole. This societal influence includes religion, but religion (or faith) is not a requirement for it.

    Ok, I’m clearly going to have to explain why humans cannot create meaning for themselves or each other at some point. For now, I would like to point out that you do not in fact see any difference in believing you have a purpose and actually having one. As far as you are concerned, as long as we feel like we have purpose then we actually have purpose (or as much purpose as we need).

    I have to ask though, doesn’t this mean that if everyone just suddenly stop believing there was any point to their own lives or the lives of everyone else, would that mean that all purpose had disappeared?

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