an ongoing interview
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07-08-2015, 10:33 AM
RE: an ongoing interview
(07-08-2015 06:10 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(28-07-2015 07:44 PM)Reltzik Wrote:  Another detail to add to your already-good takedown of the cosmological arguments:

The examples we have of things beginning to exist, or coming into being, only have causes in the sense of things that caused them to be manufactured out of existing materials. With a chair being constructed, we have previously-existing parts being brought together and assembled. With a sculpture, we have an already-existing block of marble being chipped away at by the sculptor. This isn't creation, not in the sense that the beginning of the universe is creation. It's just the rearrangement of existing material.

So you believe that matter is the fundamental substance of nature, and that all phenomena and consciousness are identical with material interactions? Or in other words you subscribe to materialism?

Would that be correct?

With respect to Gw/oG's request not to side-track this thread, I'll answer only to clarify in regards to my post here. Start up a different thread to ask me these questions, and I'll respond in more detail there.

Here, my comments were in regard to the Cosmological argument. Many apologists using the Cosmological argument draw support for the premise that everything has a cause by examples such as chairs or watches being built. I was pointing out that this was a very different type of event than a universe coming to exist ex-nihilo, and that the examples of one type of event requiring a cause should not be extended by analogy to the other type of event. The examples I gave were indeed of the materials of material objects being assembled, but in this case that was because those are the examples most often utilized for support by those making the Cosmological argument. I addressed them in the spirit of counterargument, going over them because others had gone over them first and I wished to give a review and counter-analysis of their treatment. This should in no way be taken as an indication, one way or the other, of whether or not I subscribe to some form of materialism, and in this context questions of materialism seem grossly off-topic.
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07-08-2015, 10:58 AM (This post was last modified: 24-08-2015 07:22 AM by goodwithoutgod.)
RE: an ongoing interview
Final product:

I received the interview she is submitting, I will of course remove her name and the professors name. Nothing different then what I sent her, which is great, shows she has academic integrity Smile










World Religions: A Different Perspective
##### ##########
Professor J######
World Religions: East and West
July 31, 2015

World Religions: A Different Perspective (Interview Transcript)
Introduction to Interviewee: 46 yr. [old] active duty military officer, married with 4 children. Holds a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice with spec in Homeland Security and a minor in Religious Studies. Identifies as an atheist.

Q1: What religious/nonreligious group or theology do you identify with?

A1: “I identify with Atheism. My epistemological journey to truth started as a Christian, and I was debating some atheists, and they brought up some points that got me to thinking, so I did research and sought academic education in religion in order to be able to defend my faith, and strengthen it through knowledge. The opposite happened, the more I learned, the less I believed. Then I went to "more spiritual then religious", then agnostic, and finally atheism...it is an informed choice. All gods of religion can be traced back to their creator; man. It is a complete fabrication, and this is why it requires faith. Faith is the belief in something without any evidence. If it had evidence, it wouldn't require faith, it would simply be fact. Faith and belief in the transcendental world, magic, and miraculous events even in the face of superior evidence to the contrary, is the definition of delusion. As an intelligent, educated adult, I do not believe in magic, universe creating super deities, or a magical transcendental world. All religion's creation stories are equally ridiculous, yet billions purport to believe it.

So after a long contemplative and introspective analysis of world history, archaeological evidence and biblical historicity, I have come to the conclusion it is false, and since no evidence of deities exist, and the known universe is the opposite of what one would surmise would exist if an intelligent designer created it, then one must accept no gods exist.”

Q2: You say there is no evidence, historical or otherwise, to support the existence of God or Gods. Yet, the cosmological argument/theory uses science/physics to support the argument that there is a God/Self-Being. Do you believe this argument is flawed? If so, why?

A2: "First let’s look at the Cosmological argument:
Incorporating Aristotle's notion of a "prime mover" into Summa Theological and elsewhere, Thomas Aquinas famously formulated his version of the cosmological or "first cause" argument. According to this argument, the things which we see around us now are the products of a series of previous causes. But that series cannot go back in time forever. Thus there must be some first cause which was not itself caused by anything else. And that first uncaused cause is God.

The argument can be put more formally as follows:

1. Every thing has either been caused to exist by something else or else exists uncaused.
2. Not every thing has been caused to exist by something else.
3. Therefore, at least one thing is itself uncaused.

There are several problems with this argument. The most crucial objection to the argument itself is that unless we know that premise 2 is true, the argument fails. If the universe is infinitely old, for instance, everything could indeed be caused by something else before it; the series of causes could go back forever. But perhaps more importantly, one could hold that the argument succeeds without believing that God exists. There could be multiple uncaused causes—multiple gods, say—or the uncaused cause could be an unintelligent, impersonal force. Finally, the argument holds that God is required to explain the existence of the universe, but offers no explanation for why God exists. If you invoke God to answer the question "Why is there a universe rather than nothing?" you raise the further question "Why is there a God rather than nothing?" The fundamental question—"Why is there something rather than nothing?"—remains unanswered either way; so why invoke a potentially nonexistent God to explain a universe which we know exists? This is the epitome of god-of-the-gaps argument. We don’t know…so….god.

One cannot state with any degree of validity that the first causal theory doesn't apply to the mythical egocentric Abrahamic god because one has the unique opinion he is the "eternal god", thus wasn't "caused". How does one arrive at that thought? How does one ascertain ones version of "god" is eternal? Which god by the way? There are so many, yet each fan club thinks their god is the only god, the true god and the only true religion. The irony of that kills me. 4500 different religions, all of which claim their god is the one, the truth and the light. Christianity alone has over 40,000 strains of their delusion, and each declares all others are not "true Christians".

The major premise of the argument, ""everything had a cause," is contradicted by the conclusion that "god did not have a cause." You can't have it both ways. If everything had to have had a cause, then there could not be a first cause. If it is possible to think of a god as uncaused, then it is possible to think the same of the universe.

Some theists, observing that all "effects" need a cause, assert that god is a cause but not an effect. But no one has ever observed an uncaused cause and simply inventing one merely assumes what the argument wishes to prove. If a god can be thought eternal, then so can the universe. The word "cause" is a transitive verb. Causality requires temporality. If god exists outside of time, he cannot cause anything.

The latest spin on this position by Christian philosophers like William Lane Craig is that:

1) Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
2) The universe began to exist.
3) Therefore, the universe has a cause.

This may be seductive to those who already believe in a god. To me, it seems awfully suspicious. The clause "Everything that begins to exist" sounds artificial. It is not a phrase we hear outside the context of theistic philosophy. It appears to be an Ad Hoc construction designed to smooth over earlier apologetic efforts.”

Q3: If the arguments for our existence are flawed, what is the purpose of life?

A3: “What makes you think there is a purpose to life? What reasoning do you utilize in your observation of the real world around us that suggests life has a purpose? Purpose suggests a plan, a plan suggests concepts like fate, fate suggests preplanned destiny, which suggests a planner, which points to an intelligent designer. But nothing I have observed suggests our lives have a purpose. For example; What is the purpose for a mosquito…that is life, what is its purpose? What is the purpose for millions of babies born with terminal diseases? Neither reflects purpose, but they both point to the wonders of random mathematics, the roll of the dice, the chance and circumstance that leads to a short, painful life, or a long, healthy life.

As I stated above, purpose implies a plan, which implies a planner….and we know that is a fallacy, as nothing points to a planner. From the perspective of someone observing the finished product around us (well, it isn’t finished, as everything is in some slow state of evolution, but you understand what I mean) it is easy to say, “wow, there is no way all of this could have just…happened”…but actually when you dig into the world at the DNA level, at the molecular level, at the sub-dermal level we see exactly what we would expect to see from an evolving world. In the human body the vast majority of genes are dormant, recessive and no longer used, as we evolved through time, things shut off with non-use, occasionally one of those genes becomes dominant, and we have a baby human born with a coccyx tail for example..our bodies contain vestigial organs and bone formations, which show our evolution from an earlier, different form…if we were created, for a purpose, as per god’s plan, we wouldn’t have those things..

We view things that are complex like say….the eye, and exclaim “that just had to have been the work of a god”…no actually, it is anything but a perfect design, it is just the opposite. The anatomy of the human eye, in fact, shows anything but "intelligence" in its design. It is built upside down and backwards, requiring photons of light to travel through the cornea, lens, acquaeous fluid, blood vessels, ganglion cells, amacrine cells, horizontal cells, and bipolar cells before they reach the light sensitive rods and cones that transduce the light signal into neural impulses....which are then sent to the visual cortex at the back of the brain for processing into meaningful patterns. For optimal vision, why would an intelligent designer have built an eye upside down and backwards?

So in summary, no evidence of a planner, means no plan, no plan means no purpose.”

Q4: Do you believe that the discovery of Earth 2.0 supports your views?

*A4: “Yes. However, the discovery of Earth 2.0 should surprise no one. As I have asserted before, it all comes down to numbers. The Hubble telescope can see over 400+ billion stars and planets. A thinking person would surmise that beyond the range and capability of the Hubble telescope, are billions and maybe trillions of stars and planets that are beyond our view. So it would make sense that the perfect conditions to support life, whatever form of life that is, has been achieved elsewhere simply based on the numbers.

Now, if there were only the Earth, the moon, and the sun then perhaps the anthropocentric, Abrahamic faith-based belief in God, as per the fictional document called the Bible, would require closer scrutiny. Oh yeah, and throw a few stars in the heavens to provide light of course. But that isn’t the case is it? We know that there are at least 400+ billion stars and planets. Is one truly to believe that God created at least 400+ billion planets until he got at least one just right, and then grabbing a handful of dirt, blew into it, creating man? Not only is that preposterous, and lacking any supportive evidence, but it doesn’t pass the logic test either.

So yes, I do believe that the discovery of Earth 2.0 supports my views; that the universe is vast, does not indicate an intelligent designer or Creator, and that statistically, life could and most likely has been achieved on another planet. Interesting question. I have never been asked that question before.”

Q5: Is it safe to say Morality and Religion have always been closely entwined? Religion provides a How to be a Decent Person guideline and society enforces it. Yet our world is corrupt and broken. What do you believe is wrong with the human condition?

A5: “Well, we know from Anthropology 101 where human customs come from, and in general why they arise. One of the fallacies religionists claim is that without their deity, morality would not exist. The fact is that EVERY SINGLE commandment, injunction and law in the Bible existed already in ancient Near Eastern culture and was imported into the Bible. Religion took their laws from existing culture, not vice versa.

Religious people and popular culture likes to draw a correlation between morality and religion, but upon close inspection, one has nothing to do with the other. One is not needed for the other.

Lets go back to hunter-gatherer time....it didn't take long to figure out that ones odds for survival were greatly increased if we stick together in groups, hunt in packs, protect each other....it also doesn't take a genius to figure out that as we started to build bigger tribes, groups, villages, towns, etc...that the basis of self-preservation and safety is a tier one concern. It would be frowned upon to put it lightly, if you stole my food, raped my wife or children, or killed one of my family....these type of actions would be considered against everyone's self-preservation and safety...thus banned...thus SOCIETY dictates what is acceptable behavior, and this evolves with time. No,, made up god/s needed at all. No BS "ten commandments" which are so obviously written by a group of empowered, ignorant patriarchal men.....thou shalt not rape? ....nope, not on there, thou shalt not enslave other humans? ...nope, not on there, and surely the all knowing god knew that would be a problem...but no...the MEN that created the ten commandments were more concerned with pressing matters like thou shalt not covet thy neighbors wife.

Religion’s basis is their holy books, and their holy books are filled with horrific threats and deeds. Hardly the go-to reference for how to conduct oneself. The well-known passage from Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, "If God is dead, all is permitted," suggests that non-believers would not hold moral lives without the possibility of punishment by a God. This perspective is absurd as all one has to do is look at Denmark or Sweden to see that these largely atheist areas enjoy being at the top tier of civilization. This is broken down in great detail in a book by Phil Zuckerman, "Society without God".

Phil Zuckerman, associate professor of sociology at Pitzer College in California, in his article, "Is Faith Good For Us" states the following: "A comparison of highly irreligious countries with highly religious countries, however, reveals a very different state of affairs. In reality, the most secular countries (those with the highest proportion of atheists and agnostics) are among the most stable, peaceful, free, wealthy, and healthy societies. And the most religious nations-wherein worship of God is in abundance are among the most unstable, violent, oppressive, poor, and destitute."

A study by Gregory S. Paul, entitled "Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies: A First Look," was done and the study's conclusion was that there was an inverse relationship between religion and poor societal health rates. What that means is that the higher the level of religious belief in a country, the lower the level of societal health (more violent crimes, suicides, teen pregnancies, etc.).

So it seems that a plethora of evidence exists to show that not only do we not need religion in our lives to be good humans but that having it in our lives can be counter-productive and unhealthy. Our world IS corrupt and broken, but only parts of it. Guess what correlation exists in those broken areas? High levels of religious belief. Even within the US, there are a plethora of studies and statistics that show the Bible belt has the lowest average IQ, highest poverty levels, lowest average education levels, poor health, and….you guessed it…high levels of religious beliefs. The areas of the world that have a zealous belief in religion are usually the most violent, and enjoy being at the bottom tier of civilization ranking for quality of life.

Creationists have long been of the opinion that atheists are evil and corrupt. Well, lets take a peek at US prison statistics. US population of Christians is about 70%...and that number is reflected with entrance statistics for US prisons IAW the FBI database for religiosity and prison population. About 70% of US prisoners are of some flavor of Christian delusion. Guess what percentage are non-religious? .07%.....Contemplate on that for a moment.

One would surmise to make the world unbroken and less corrupt, a step in the right direction would be to remove religion from it. The only thing wrong with the human condition is the embracement of religion. People like to say, "why take away faith if it helps people get through the day"...I've never really understood how removing a bad way to reason will make it difficult to get through the day. If anything, it would seem that correcting someone's reasoning would significantly increase their chances of getting through their day.

With reliable forms of reasoning comes the capability of crafting conditions that enable people to navigate life's obstacles. By using a more reliable form of reasoning, people are more capable of bringing about conditions that enable them to flourish.

To argue that people need faith is to abandon hope, and to condescend and accuse the faithful of being incapable of understanding the importance of reason and rationality. There are better and worse ways to come to terms with death, to find strength during times of personal crisis, to make meaning and purpose in our lives, to interpret our sense of awe and wonder, and to contribute to human well-being...and the faithful are completely capable of understanding and achieving this..if they would only try.

Asking “If there is no god, what is the purpose of life?” is like asking, “If there is no master, whose slave will I be?””

Q6: How happy are you? How does your outlook on religion impact your life?

A6: I am extremely happy, and confident on my worldview. It is good to be in a place where I do not have to consider fabricated religion as a crutch to lean on to get through life. What annoys me is the negative impact that religion has on my life, and all American's lives. We aren’t trying to sell anyone anything, we have a close personal relationship with reality, not jesus, or any other mythical religious figure. Religion is the ultimate scam and while some of it is benign in nature, it is the radical "my view of my god is right and all of you heathens who believe otherwise better get on board" mentality that bothers me. It is the sneaky little financing of a politician who they support to get him/her in office so that their crazy agendas can be quietly slid into laws that guide this country.

The aggressive attempts to get pseudo-science creationism into public schools under the guise of "intelligent design", the obsession with who people love, who they marry, and how they have sex, the blocking of vital stem cell research that can save lives, the belief they know what is best for an impregnated rape victim based on biblical interpretation...these are the things that go on daily under the guise of religious freedom...Those are the people I fight. If someone wants to whip a rubber chicken around their head while dancing in a counter clock wise circle quacking like a duck makes them feel closer to their mythical god, then by all means, knock yourself out...in the privacy of their own home or in a private venue with like-minded individuals. Don’t manipulate politicians to modify laws that affect us all, based on their religious views. That is the negative impact on my life religion has.

World Religions: A Different Perspective (Interview Transcript Concluded)

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"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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07-08-2015, 02:18 PM
RE: an ongoing interview
She didn't happen to send you the interview with the other atheist, did she? Also, shouldn't she have some "summary" or conclusion regarding the interviews and potential findings, or is that maybe still to come? I know if I were the teacher I'd want to know if my student learned something from the assignment, although reading your responses that much is certainly obvious. Brilliant answers btw, on all of them.

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
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07-08-2015, 02:20 PM (This post was last modified: 07-08-2015 02:30 PM by goodwithoutgod.)
RE: an ongoing interview
(07-08-2015 02:18 PM)MustangManda Wrote:  She didn't happen to send you the interview with the other atheist, did she? Also, shouldn't she have some "summary" or conclusion regarding the interviews and potential findings, or is that maybe still to come? I know if I were the teacher I'd want to know if my student learned something from the assignment, although reading your responses that much is certainly obvious. Brilliant answers btw, on all of them.

Great question, and that was my feeling as well....seemed kind of hanging....think I will mention that to her and see what she thinks. Thanks for the support. Blush

Texted her and said it is a great interview, just needs a conclusion....author's opinion, some way of wrapping it up. I really appreciate your post, it confirmed what I was thinking, if she modifies it, i will edit the final interview and mark it as such Smile

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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07-08-2015, 06:57 PM (This post was last modified: 07-08-2015 07:01 PM by Tomasia.)
an ongoing interview
(07-08-2015 09:46 AM)TurkeyBurner Wrote:  
(07-08-2015 06:10 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  So you believe that matter is the fundamental substance of nature, and that all phenomena and consciousness are identical with material interactions? Or in other words you subscribe to materialism?

Would that be correct?

Here we go... Isn't there a materialism thread somewhere where this discussion can be had? We all know that materialism, strictly speaking, breaks down in it ability to describe certain phenomenon now known to science. It is also not an entirely defensible philosophical argument for describing our "existence" as we know it. I'd love, however, to see a discussion on Physicalism to see if it holds up better under scrutiny. Personally, I don't think we can ever be certain that any particle or force is "fundamental". At some point in the future, when can finally see the particles we currently view as fundamental particles, I predict we will discover that those particles are made up of even smaller particles and held together with even stranger forces than those we observe today. I have no basis for this argument other than history has shown that there is no end to what man can know, if he continues striving to learn. No god is required for us to exist - no matter how strange, inexplicable, and infinite that the universe appears to us now.

Well then it seems entirely contradictory to imply that causes need to be composed of matter, while yet be doubtful about the validity of physicalism.

But I'll curb it for another thread.

"Tell me, muse, of the storyteller who has been thrust to the edge of the world, both an infant and an ancient, and through him reveal everyman." ---Homer the aged poet.

"In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
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24-08-2015, 06:21 AM
RE: an ongoing interview
I don't mean to necro my own post, but I got a text yesterday from the student who interviewed me, she got her final grade with comment from her professor, here is what the good Doctor said...

"I thoroughly enjoyed reading your interview. Your interviewee has put considerable time and effort into his studies and opinions on the subject. It was probably one of the most intellectual finals I have ever read in this course"

and her final grade was an A.

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"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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24-08-2015, 06:59 AM
RE: an ongoing interview
(24-08-2015 06:21 AM)goodwithoutgod Wrote:  I don't mean to necro my own post, but I got a text yesterday from the student who interviewed me, she got her final grade with comment from her professor, here is what the good Doctor said...

"I thoroughly enjoyed reading your interview. Your interviewee has put considerable time and effort into his studies and opinions on the subject. It was probably one of the most intellectual finals I have ever read in this course"

and her final grade was an A.

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I think owes you lunch. Thumbsup

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
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24-08-2015, 07:46 AM
RE: an ongoing interview
(24-08-2015 06:21 AM)goodwithoutgod Wrote:  I don't mean to necro my own post, but I got a text yesterday from the student who interviewed me, she got her final grade with comment from her professor, here is what the good Doctor said...

"I thoroughly enjoyed reading your interview. Your interviewee has put considerable time and effort into his studies and opinions on the subject. It was probably one of the most intellectual finals I have ever read in this course"

and her final grade was an A.

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Of course. Drinking Beverage

We have enough youth. How about looking for the Fountain of Smart?
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24-08-2015, 11:59 AM
RE: an ongoing interview
I'm still curious to read the rest of the information. Can you tell her she has a bunch of eager readers waiting? Big Grin

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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