Article

The Menacing Green Face of Atheism

2180l

That’s right, it’s me. When I bought my wife a computer, I snapped a photo of myself to test her webcam. It captured a gravitas I often feel when I write or think about the bigger questions in life. So I used it for my Facebook profile photo. Then the abortive Iranian democratic revolution happened, and everyone was turning their photos and twitter icons green. I care about democracy and freedom, and I also care about green causes. So I did the same.

A couple days ago, Steve Larsen, a typical delusional hard-core theist who was apparently in the CUT orbit at one time (though I don’t remember him) friended me on FB. I accepted his invitation.

He started baiting me after my first status update:

Oxymoron of the day: “Scientific doctrine.”

We then had a “debate.” The so-called spiritual seekers don’t take long to expose their biases and holier-than-thou attitudes. Mind you, these people claim to have transcended the ego, and only be interested in peace, love and light. Funny how they demonstrate it. You be the judge.  Here’s his haughty’spiritual’ kiss-off, with heapings of that pink fuzzy divine luurrrve:

…you have most unfortunately substitued all manner of illusion, pride, anger and arrogance to fill up the gaping hole in your soul. You chosen an identity that has nothing to do with who you really are. Sadly, you have become a messenger for the ego and the dualistic consciousness. Hence the green menacing face – it is the face of your anti-self which you could so easily surrender to your beautiful real self – but you would not.

You have so much attainment but you are spilling it on the ground and groundless beliefs.

Sean, get over being an atheist!

Check out the whole exchange below. It’s got it all: Question science. Claim God can’t be known but must be experienced. Bluster. Refuse to provide proof or concede a point. Ask why I’m so angry. Claim atheism is a religion. Argue from result. Invoke Hitler, Stalin, Mao. Claim science will discover the “Truth” someday. And finally claim I’m not in my right mind. The only thing he forgot was to claim I was possessed by demons.

These “debates” are nearly always a complete waste of time. The utter intransigence it takes to maintain faith plus the highly vaunted believer self-image  makes it impossible for most of them to budge.

Perhaps one time out of twenty I’ve actually managed to get past their defenses and reach their buried rational mind. I’ve made a handful of really good friends that way over the years. Either way, it’s good sport. So yee-haw for old times sake.


The ‘debate:’ All spelling errors in original:

SL: Here’s a thought for you. If there was something incorrect or incomplete about your ideas about science and religion, would you want to know?

BlackSun: That goes without saying.

SL: So if there was some proof of God existence (and I’m not saying what form that proof would have to take), you would accept it?

BlackSun: First you have to describe what you say when you mean God, (out of the thousands of different descriptions people have advanced over the years). Then we can talk about proof.

“I hope he’s got his face on, he’d better be a quick-change artist, suffer little children to make their mind up soon…”

–Ian Anderson

SL: I know you’ll think this is a total cop-out, but one of the interesting things about God is that God is a self-transcending being, so you can’t put God in the limited box of mental definitions and derive some fixed idea about who God is. God has said “I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE” meaning that God reserves the right to transcend “his” being at any moment in time. This action of self transcendence of God in oneness with the self transcendence of of God’s co-creators creates a great movement upward in the universe where everyone and everything become More. Sean, I’m wondering if this were really true (and I know that’s nearly an impossible if for you to swallow) why would this be a bad thing?

BlackSun: The interesting thing about Horthon, prince of dark power is that Horthon is a self-transcending being, so you can’t put Horthon in the limited box of mental definitions and derive some fixed idea about who Horthon is. Horthon has said “I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE” meaning that Horthon reserves the right to transcend or descend “his” being at any moment in time depending on what he prefers that day. This action of self transcendence of Horthon in oneness with the self transcendence of of Horthon’s co-creators creates a great movement toward a more powerful ruthless universe where everyone and everything becomes Darker. Steve, I’m wondering if this were really true (and I know that’s nearly an impossible if for you to swallow) why would this be a bad thing?

Long live Horthon, Prince of Dark Power! Let us look forward to our eternal, infinite union with the Dark.

Steve, it doesn’t really matter what you or I think is a good or bad thing. Do you see the absurdity of what you are proposing?

SL: Perhaps the mind of materialistic cannot comprehend the things of the spirit. Sometimes it seems that such a mind, can be, in the words of Ian Anderson, “thick as a brick.”

BlackSun: Steve, are you f-ing kidding me? You have just completely conceded the argument. If the materialistic mind can’t comprehend it, then you can’t either, because you have a materialistic mind. Nice way to fall on your rhetorical sword, there, mate! I have had this conversation with hundreds of believers on hundreds of occasions, and it always ends up with the same, lame, vague, holier-than-thou self-justifications. ‘Cause ya got nothin’!

Everything I need to say on the subject has been said better and more comprehensively over at Black Sun Journal should you care. You’ve proved once again that when the believers’ cards are on the table it’s one gigantic bluff. Enjoy your fantasies, because that’s what they are. Sugar coated with intellectual dishonesty of the highest order. And you wonder why I accuse the spiritual of bad intent. Because they are running the biggest scam in human history–and you’ve chosen to be a part of it.

Signing off.

SL: As you my wish my friend, I admit I deliberately poked you a bit, because you are so deadly serious about your self and your beliefs. And of course you are quick to put me in the same box as every other so called believer – that’s the easy way.

I have one question which you certainly don’t have to answer to me.

Why are you so angry?

BlackSun: I thought you’d never ask. ;-) That’s usually the first tool in the apologetics kit. Because you believers have been getting away with murder for centuries, and your day is almost done. People are finally becoming unafraid to challenge the high priests and sacred cows. You won’t be taken seriously anywhere in a couple of generations. You’ve had your chance to promote unity and humanity, and instead you set the world on fire with conflict and division. You’ve set people at war with their own ego and their sexuality. The human race can’t survive your manipulations or pontifications any longer.

Remember what I said: I’m at peace with my dark side. I have no shame about anger, it’s a useful emotion to promote change. And change is coming. You think I’m angry, wait until you feel the white-hot rage of those yet unborn who will have to clean up the global mess magical pre-operational thinking has made. The old order is cracking and it *will* go down.

SL: It seems that were both sort of last word freaks so it may not be so easy signing off:). You know, the strange this is, I don’t see very much of anything I said said in what you are railing against. Beyond the obvious fundamentalist types, is it possible that your’re more or less on automatic pilot mode attacking staw men? Now regarding the whole anger thing, I can’t see it as a constructive tool for lasting positive change. It certainly has been a tool for negative change on both sides of the reliigious and materialists spectrum. On the religious side, I think you could call the Crusades, the Dark Ages and the Inquisitions a manifestatioin in part, of anger. On the materialist side, the purges of Stalin, Mao tse tung, and the evils of Hitler (though not a strict materialist) are also extreme manifestations of anger. Since both religion and materialism primarily offer closed systems, all change wrought by the anger in the systems will eventually collapse through Entropy.

BlackSun: No, you did what all believers do, which is to refuse to provide evidence or discuss rationally, then demean your opponent for not seeing the “Truth.” It’s only a baby step from this attitude to fundamentalism.

It takes a strong rational foundation and the rule of law to prevent human tragedies such as the examples you cited. Communism was practiced as a state religion. It was the suppression of evidence of systemic failure and the irrational devotion to leaders which allowed the carnage to take place.

SL: Sean, but don’t you see that atheism is a religion? As you yourself said you can’t prove a negative yet so much emotional and mental energy is spent by atheists doing just that.

I believe I have spoken very rationally, from a spiritual perspective, but it may not seem so from a material perspective, but as the two perspectives are on a continuum I don’t see any conflict at all.

As you know, Einstein proved that everything is, at it’s core, energy. If that’s true, then how big a leap is it to say that all was ultimately created out of energy and that energy might even be determined to be spiritual energy – which is energy defined as that which has a vibration above and beyond energy found in material realm? This may even someday be a testable hypothesis.

Now since you brought it up, I’ve noticed from my conversations with atheists, is that one of the greatest sins you can commit is perceived or actual “condescension.” Why so touchy about that?

BlackSun: Still tap dancing around the question of total lack of proof for your epistemology…tu quoque this time. “Atheism a religion.” If I had a nickel for every time I’d heard that one… Shows how little you must think of religion. Old arguments and waffling: “everything is energy…higher vibration…no conflict at all…might even be determined…may even someday be a testable hypothesis…”

HA! And you think new age is so much better than fundamentalism. Different degrees but still distract, delay, change the subject.

All your questions have been asked and answered by atheists years ago. You”re behind the times.

So deliver the goods already, or admit you’re bluffing. “May even someday be a testable hypothesis.” Just wow. I’ll have to remember that towering non-response. If that’s how you do science, no wonder you don’t think much of it.

Have some backbone, man. Right now you’re about like a weasel. Par for the course for a faith addict, I’m afraid. Get rational. Get sane. Please.

SL: I am not distracted by anything. I have told you what I believe. The only delay is to have proof for those who like yourself who need material proof. Though you think’s it hogwash it is truth that you can only prove God by experiencing God within yourself. That’s just the way the universe is. I didn’t make the rules but I do respect them.

The experiment IS replicatable, individual by individual, and I believe that one day millions and then billions of people on earth will prove this within themselves, and the earth will be transformed into a home of light and beauty, abundance and love – ever expanding.

What is your vision for an atheisitic world?

BlackSun: Belief is not meaningful. Only evidence. If you believe without or in spite of evidence, then you are self-deluded. If you refuse to discuss the lack of evidence, preferring instead to fall back on attacks on your opponent, then you are intellectually dishonest.

There is no proof within an individual. The only way to run an experiment is double blind.

You fail to show how belief and interior subjective stubbornness will bring about a world of light and love. So far it has wrought only bitter divisions.

My vision can’t be expressed in a few words, but it is a world where education is the 1st order of priority, where story and myth are kept in their proper roles, where tradition and authority are not given undue deference, where reason and science are respected as the arbiters of truth, where people focus on their human lives and set realistic achievable concrete goals for themselves. Further, where the full range of evolutionary human needs are expressed and fulfilled without guilt.

SL: There is much value in personal experience and observation. In fact, I would say a great deal of astronomy is based on observation, not experimentation – double blind or not. You seem to have a very narrow range of parameters through which truth can be ascertained.

One of the many downsides of such an approach is that you still have to rely on outer authorities (scientists) to tell you what is true, hence you can easily get caught up in idolatry. Science has a definite role in providing insight into the material universe but it is an inadequate instrument for discerning spiritual things. To do this, you need to use your built in capacity to know and understand truth – what Jesus called the “key of knowledge” We all have this ability, so why shouldn’t we use it for the betterment of ourselves and the world? And as I’ve said, once you have an experience of God within yourself, it s undeniable.

Sean, in all your years with the Summit, did you not even once experience this?

BlackSun: No. Not once. I saw fraud, pettiness, self-delusion, fantasy, waffling, convenient self-justification, power games, a complete lack of ethics and a series of epic scandals.

We have reached the end of useful conversation.

Still you play word games about astronomy. You know damn well what is and is not science. And it doesn’t have anything to do with authority. It has to do with the empirical method, and eliminating bias through rigorous procedure and multiple observers.

Cognitive biases are well-known. The more we understand about the mind, the more we realize how unreliable experience is. Systematic analysis is the only way to get to the heart of what is real. Everything you have ever experienced of “spirituality” took place as chemical transfers between neurons inside your skull. These feelings can be duplicated by electrical or chemical stimulation.

You are your brain and nothing more. All else is magical thinking.

Now, can I have the breath back I’ve wasted on you, please?

SL: I agree, nothiing more to be said as you have most unfortunately substitued all manner of illusion, pride, anger and arrogance to fill up the gaping whole in our soul. You chosen an identity that has nothing to do your who you really are. Sadly, you have become a messenger for the ego and the dualistic consciousness. Hence the grean menacing face – it is the face of your anti-self which you could so easily surrender to your beautiful real self – but you would not.

You have so much attainment but you are spilling it on the ground and groundless beliefs.

Sean, get over being an atheist!


Comments (43 comments)

nullifidian / July 15th, 2009, 11:17 am / #1

Good grief, how can such a person not get sick and dizzy from spinning in a circle like that?

ClintJCL / July 15th, 2009, 1:27 pm / #2

Oh man… I'm sorry I missed that on FB!

Andreas Mannal / July 15th, 2009, 10:24 pm / #3

Interesting dialogue, but probably doomed to begin with. I have no problem with "atheism" it opposes "theism", just like "theism" opposes "atheism". That is simple dialectics – or not? What is the point of it?

I connect to Sean's very clear cut understanding of of the claim of some "higher" and "outer " direction to our lives. This has been, is, and will be a problem for this world that humanity is obviously creating unto itself.

Without "theism" we are fully accountable to ourselves, but this accountability is at the same time true spirituality, without the b.s. factor of idealistic imaginations and ruminations. This is where I encounter "God" again and again. On the dege of my b.s. factor. It is pure atheism, because I have no choice, concept or claim that I can impose on "God" on the edge of complete surrender. Anyone who thinks they are special, or project the idea that they are special in the eyes of some "God", have not even started to comprehend the true nature of life.

Where I disagree a little with Sean is, that the foibles of his parents are due to this idiotic claim, that "we are special in the eyes of "God". But maybe he is right. I thought they knew what they were doing, when they created this movement, and in addition to that they had personal foibles, as we all do, i.e. I separate the cause from the foibles. Then again, I did not have to deal with their foibles in "close up", and maybe made up my own "narrative". Isn't that what we are all doing?

What is the acute difference between one self-narrative and another, outside of competing with each other? What does "theism" or "atheism" say about that? Can we somehow get outside of our self-narrative?

Andreas Mannal / July 16th, 2009, 12:16 am / #4

In the end it seems to be about "good faith" versus "bad faith". I still like to think that Elizabeth Claire Prophet and Mark L. Prophet did what they did in good faith with their human foibles. It seems to me that some here think that they did it in "bad faith"….? That would be a very different issue. We can be critical of the adjunct hypocrisy of CUT, which no different from any hypocrisy we encounter on CNN or around the kitchen table, but in the end we have to ask ourselves, "was it in "bad faith", were they consciously and intentionally trying to mislead us with their "messaging"? If so, this whole discussion is completely mute. We would be idiots to discuss how some people tried to "screw us". It seems that is the "good faith" intention of the "messengers" that is worth so much discussion?

BlackSun / July 16th, 2009, 1:24 am / #5

Andreas, bear with me, I'm writing a chapter about this very subject to be published in an atheist anthology later this year. It is my contention that this is not a question of "good" vs. "bad faith." It is more about the corrupting influence of power. Especially power that relies on invisible beings. In the TSL/CUT saga, it was my parents who became the first victims of this corruption, the members were next. There was complicity with the members, or none of it would have happened. Just because I use the word "victims" does not mean I fail to hold them accountable. They clearly relished their role as leaders, and enthusiastically wielded the power they had taken/been given.

This is the reason I'm so committed to evidence. As soon as you let go of the evidentiary requirement and say "I just know" or "I feel it, so it must be true," you are setting the stage for the next series of abuse.

My parents were not messengers with foibles. They committed abuses *because* they were enabled to do so by the power and authority of messengership. Stay tuned for my chapter.

Andreas Mannal / July 16th, 2009, 1:56 am / #6

Just an aside insider note to the question of "power", Sean. I recall from the work of Alice Bailey explicit warnings of the incoming influence of the First Ray of Will an Power, which was later assumed as the guiding ray of CUT by the "guruship" of El Morya? The activation of this ray was also connected to WW I and WW II, and in the end to our notion of "HOLOCAUST".

The First ray of 'Will and Power" is essentially destructive to anything the resists the purpose of evolution. The activation of this ray as a guiding principle is what your parents stood for. This is very critical, because this ray implies "ABUSE of POWER", see Adolf Hitler, Stalin, and all the others.

Will, Power, Purpose entails transformation and suffering on account of those attached to the status quo. I think that is what your parents explicated with their own lives, keeping their foibles aside for a moment.

BlackSun / July 16th, 2009, 2:10 am / #7

I'm suspect of your Alice Bailey references, and your seeming uncritical acceptance of things which are not supported by evidence.

Power is an aspect of all human interaction, and it has its own rules. The problem in TSL/CUT was that the game was run by people who claimed to be operating from a place of love and trust. These are always the most dangerous power players.

You should really check out the power literature from Robert Greene.

Andreas Mannal / July 16th, 2009, 3:08 am / #8

The teachings and assumptions of the Theosophical Society, then Alice Bailey, and then the I AM movement are the exact historical evidence of your parent's claim to messangership. There is no way around that?

Don't be suspicious of me. I am just exploring my own ignorance in terms of "atheism".

Of course power and the corruption of power is a universal in humanity, that would be claimed as a characteristic of the "first ray" idea to begin with. It was named the 1st ray for a reason? I am just pointing out that that was the whole crux of CUT as a claim of some "Higher Influence" – the leadership of El Morya, Lord of the First Ray". I really don't want to get into an argument about the "claims" in the tradition that "victimized" your parents to claim that. The point is the evidence. We agree on that, as long as we are not limited to that "empirical framework of science" invented by Francis Bacon? Is this what you mean by "evidence", empiricism? Or do you accept a broader concept of subjective experience and principles of cognition?

Andreas Mannal / July 16th, 2009, 3:45 am / #9

"Trust and Love" are supposed to be part of the postulated 2nd ray, the ray of support and nourishment of the universe – Vishnu. It seems very conclusive that the explicit commitment to the 1st ray of will, power and purpose "abuses" the second ray of love and trust, and even all the other rays, excepting ray 7 of ritual. CUT was exceedingly strong on ritual (and the exceptions to it, of course on the prerogative of the 1st ray). I am just making some suggestions. I am not attached to these concepts, but CUT seems to operate on them? And the founders incorporated them from previous traditions? "Atheism" being one of them? "Mother" had this interesting distribution between 'persona'l and 'impersonal'? Atheism seems to claim the 'impersonal impersonality', which is also rthe essence of Buddhism: "There is no "substance", or anything to hold on to or rely on as "identity" – the impersonal impersonality, the 1st ray, the destruction of all attachments and forms – SHIVA?.

peter / July 17th, 2009, 7:03 am / #10

"Don't be suspicious of me. I am just exploring my own ignorance in terms of "atheism". "

Na, not suspicious, but what "a" in atheism don't you get?

Atheism is easy – just believe in one less god than a good monotheist and you are there.
Atheism is the absence of a belief not supported by evidence. I belief in gravity. I also believe in the power of
electricity. I too believe in the power of the physics of mechanics. And so on.
I do not believe in any powers that are claimed to exist in books for supernatural beings, but for whom no supporting evidence exists, and whose claims as to their power usually falls flat on its face when shining the bright light of rational investigation onto it.

You are dancing the dance of your own ridiculousness here, bro Mannal, your broth of "spirituality" becomes a bit smelly.

Andreas Mannal / July 18th, 2009, 12:57 am / #11

Ad hominem?!

The fanaticism of a-theism?! Why can a-theists be as fanatical as theists? Do you understand dialectics or not?

Andreas Mannal / July 18th, 2009, 1:24 am / #12

Let me be linguistically clear about that 'dialectics' between theism and a-theism: a-theisme, for better or for worse is a reaction to theism. Not that there is anything wrong with reacting or responding to something. We may have very valid reason to do so. The essence of Buddhism is not a re-action of theism, but it leads beyond the innate assumptions of theism, which are "substance", "identity", "I", "me", "you", and all the other personal pronouns and other constructs of language and thought. Buddhism radically transcends theism. What does a-theism do with its "evidence"? The notion of evidence is based on EMPIRICISM! And empiricism is a re-action to rationalism. Empiricism is aligned with the Greek tradition of scepticism which taught epoche, or the suspension of judgment, because "we are authentic idiots if we thing we KNOW something" "Atheism is easy"? It surely seems to provide an easy platform for judging verything else, even ad hominem?!

Andreas Mannal / July 18th, 2009, 2:06 am / #13

"I also believe in the power of electricity"

There is empirical evidence that Thomas Edison was aligned with Theospohy for some time. I don't know the exact details, Sean probably does. And Theosophy as well as Alice Bailey were teaching about 'Fire by Friction' which is the understanding of common 'electricity'. I am not making an argument for theism. I just want to sort out the facts. "Believing in electricity" is easy, I get that part. But how does an atheist "belief"?

BlackSun / July 20th, 2009, 7:23 pm / #14

You really need to check out the chapter in the 48 Laws of Power about Edison vs. Tesla. It was Tesla who really "invented" the practical distribution of electricity and Edison who got the credit. As far as either one's association with esoteric organizations, I really couldn't care less.

Dylan Skriloff / July 18th, 2009, 10:35 pm / #15

"You are your brain and nothing more" – you can boil all your philosophizing down to this comment … the human brain has long produced the state of contemplation of death, because it knows its going to die and can't always cope with that … if a child's father or mother dies, it doesn't believe a brain has died, they will almost all say their precious mother or father has died and is now in heaven. I think there is a heaven, besides feeling personal experiences connected to that place, I also believe just merely being a brain doesn't seem a satisfactory explanation of our personal experience of life. You seem to suggest that rational thinking is the debunking of what we usually call 'the heart' and personal feelings. Or that, perhaps at the core of the heart is rational thinking and we need to plumb out the reason in order to feel our deepest emotions. Still, I question, won't this all lead back to God eventually?

BlackSun / July 20th, 2009, 7:07 pm / #16

The trouble comes with a misunderstanding of how complex a brain actually is. Saying we are "merely" a brain just shows you really don't appreciate what is possible out of 100 trillion neural connections.

Read Marvin Minsky's "The Emotion Machine." There really is no difference between thinking and feeling, brain and heart, etc. Just different kinds of neural activity. People assigned them to different categories before they really understood what the brain did or how it did it.

"Won't this all lead back to God, eventually?" On what grounds? Couldn't it lead to 'Horthon' as well?

Dylan Skriloff / July 18th, 2009, 10:35 pm / #17

I found it interesting that the Bhagavad Gita discussed the philosophy of scientific thinking and this was 5,000 years ago. Krishna stated that the heart of a devotee of God was superior in its understanding of life to those dedicated to understanding material reality through science. If religion was dealing with the empiricists that long ago, it says something about this not being a new debate at all.

BlackSun / July 20th, 2009, 7:11 pm / #18

There was no empiricism or science in any sense of either word 5,000 years ago. A lot of today's challenge to religion stems from the fact that a great deal of what used to be unexplainable is now known. For most of human history, religion has filled these gaps in knowledge with assumptions. Further, we now understand the futility of such a "God of the Gaps." So even though the unknown is still infinite (by definition), we have learned that as we expand the known we have to be ever more careful about what we say about the unknown. Truly contemplate what that word "unknown" means.

Dylan Skriloff / July 18th, 2009, 10:36 pm / #19

The big question about Death and the meaning of life isn't going to go away through science, in my opinion. Why we are here, against obviously tall odds. All the science in the world won't save us if a meteor comes to Earth tomorrow…but maybe if something bigger is going on, something involving God, then it would make sense. That is where the strength of the spiritual perspective lies, and you could build a perfect scientific society that could last a million years, but it's nothing in naturalistic terms, it's all in flux and going to die…this is true and all the spiritual teachers taught that truth as one of their main points.

Yet our experience of this temporary life is that it is very precious. You say yourself life is precious – I mean, how much further do you need to look for a God than that? Though, the strangeness and badness of life is enough to make anyone question the existence of a God…this I understand.

BlackSun / July 20th, 2009, 7:16 pm / #20

Precious does not equal God. Life is precious subjectively. My life is precious to me and those who love me. Period.

Here's an example: If I have a friend who's going through an existential crisis or dying of cancer, I care about how that friend is feeling. I might try to provide some kind of comfort or encouragement for him. But I cannot change the realities of life, nor cure his cancer. So whether or not the spiritual perspective is useful or comforting, does not ultimately change the nature of existence, which is what you said in the first place. "It's all in flux and it's all going to die."

peter / July 19th, 2009, 6:20 pm / #21

Atheism is not a "reaction" to theism. Atheism simply is acknowledgment that direct ant testable evidence for "god"
as a prime mover and with any influence in our world does not exist.
It does not say – at least in my book – god does not exist, it just says there is no evidence at present to make the concept necessary to explain anything as to the creation or the sustaining of the universe and us as an evolved species being capable to observe this universe.
The concept of god just adds a layer of assumptions to the task of researching the mechanics of the universe and life.
The concept of god explains nothing, any positive proof for its existence will be forever unattainable, so far we can only falsify the hypothesis of an existence of god.
The only "meaning" in life is that what you give it.
I simply do not understand the urgency to make "sense" of life and to search for "meaning". I actually do not understand why life should make "sense".
I am quite content to accept being the product of several billion years of an evolutionary process and see meaning in how I live my life, how I interact with others and if my contributions to those others are beneficial to them and me or damaging to anybody. I see no benefit in adding a layer of "spiritual" meaning or the search for an elusive "transcendental" truth.
What do they add but clouding the brain to the fact that we are the only one who can help ourselves, that we are alone in our corner of the galaxy and that we alone are responsible for our actions and how we survive on this planet.
There is no god to bail us out, and transcendental beliefs only cloud the clarity necessary to make decisions that will insure our survival on this planet for more than a few generations, at a level that allows us all a dignified life, supplying everyone the necessities for bodily comfort and mental growth.
This life is all we have, any idea of a soul surviving death is just a construct to make death more palatable.
I can happily live my live without that illusion, knowing that I only have this one focusses the mind tremendously.
No one ever came back to report – and old bronze age books do not count as evidence.

BlackSun / July 20th, 2009, 7:24 pm / #22

Thank you!

Naomi666 / July 22nd, 2009, 2:37 pm / #23

I, too, thank you! But those two words are inadequate to express the feeling of "hell, yeah!" that overcame me. Your eloquence in describing how an atheist conducts his/her life and feels joy in living a godless life. No more "moralism" for me — give me Big-E ethics for a yardstick.

I need inclusivity to thrive; I had only the transient "special" feeling of belonging to a group that wouldn't have allowed me to stay if they knew how hard I was trying to believe their dogma — and failing miserably. Even an eleven-year-old can detect BS…

peter / July 19th, 2009, 6:48 pm / #24

The scientific method – observation – hypothesis – testing – theory – predictions – confirmation (just roughly) is the only way we have to say something about the mechanics of our universe.

The development of a theory that can make predictions reliably – as in the fact that a magnetic field in motion relative to a piece of wire will induce a current, or that for an object moving relative to a non moving observer time will elapse differently, or that black holes are not black but because of hawking radiation will be observable, or that stars of different masses will have predictable and observable "curricula vitae" – is the only way to make statements as to the observable reality.

Statements as to "unobservable reality" are untestable by definition. They are based at best on anecdotal evidence, at worst on proclamations.

Andreas Mannal / July 20th, 2009, 2:34 pm / #25

The Empirical Tradition of thinking which is the foundation of "modern science" goes bakc to the 'Divided Line' of Plato and Aristotle's work, which took its cues from Pythagoras and Parmenides. Empiricism did not just fall out of the sky. It developed as a certain, definite approach based on certain, definite assumptions (Francis Bacon), coming out of a certain, definite discussion between the finest minds of humanity over millenniums.

Plato's Divided Line of knowledge makes explicit how and what we can know and what not (epistemology later) and laid the foundation for the whole Western cognitive tradition. The seed of empiricism, and the dialectics between rationalism (Descartes) and empiricism (Locke) are already in the work of Plato and Aristotle, and so are the possible orientations of the cognitive faculty towards Divinity. 'A-theism' is based on a strict adherence to a certain portion of the Divided Line.

Another thing to consider is maybe that 'theism' is not necessarily dualistic adherence to some "God out there". There is also 'pan-theism', and 'mysticism' (experience based). If we define theism as the dualistic relationship to some higher being that serves my personal whims of beliefs, and I act as a go between of this Higher Being and other humans, etc, etc, we are indeed on a slippery slope. So was Adolf Hitler, and he was not a 'theist'? It can happen to any atheist too, who holds a certain idea as absolute and ruling it over everything else, like "empirical evidence" which is obviously only suited to a certain spectrum of cognition of this world and ourselves, and thrives on the assumption of a 'mechanistic universe', which is actually quite outdated in modern physics, I dare say.

BlackSun / July 20th, 2009, 6:47 pm / #26

The problem is when you start making assumptions about the unknown without sufficient evidence.

Plato started down that road with his concept of "forms." He reasoned that because we could think of perfect love, justice, geometric forms, etc. there must be a place where they existed. They don't exist in the real world, so he reasoned there must be another place where they do exist, such as an afterlife. He didn't allow for the fact that maybe we can think of things that don't exist anywhere (square circles, for example).

You are correct that you must make certain assumptions about epistemology. If the goal is to achieve some kind of correspondence with a shared reality, then you must subject knowledge to the rule that it must be verified under controlled conditions by multiple observers. This excludes experience based conclusions–to the extent people want to assume their experiences have any shared relevance or extend outside their own minds.

Understianding the nature of cognition (chemical neural firings) gives us a much better theory of mind than the dualism of Descartes, for example.

Hitler was not an atheist.
http://www.secularhumanism.org/library/fi/murphy_

Finally the issue of the lack of determinism in elementary particles does not prove anything other than the universe is a stranger place than we can imagine. We can conclude nothing at all about a Higher Being based on the unpredictable behavior of particles. Even added dimensions or string theory do not point to a conscious creator. We simply do not know a lot about the universe. We must wait until we learn more before making any ultimate conclusions.

Atheism is saying "based on the evidence we have, there's probably no God approaching anything described by the religious traditions." At least that's what it means to me.

Andreas Mannnal / July 22nd, 2009, 2:48 pm / #27

Are you familiar with the thought of Parmenides before Plato? Plato actually examined this position in his dialogue "Parmenides". The salient point of Plato's ideas is not the "after or before" of existence. Rather, the conclusion seems to be, that there is an innate knowledge and understanding of things in humanity BEFORE sense perception that constructs meaning and makes sense of this strange world in innate ways, which raises the naive question, "where does this innate understanding come from"? I think in Indian, Hindu philosophy this innate substratum of intelligence was named Budhi, whereas the though construction of concepts and names based on it was named Manas.

Locke, who formulated a 'metaphysics' of Empricism, was trying to debunk this assumption of an innate intelligence with elementary categories of 'world construction and perception that provide the basis for any empiricism.

Would you consider the possibility that experience can be inter-subjective or collective? I have spoken to 'atheists' before, and it seems to me that they must reduce individual experience to a point where it can not be shared 'inter-subjectively' or 'objectively'.

Another way how one can see that is, on one hand we can apprehend 'universal principles' as true for all human beings, like the principles or algorithm of how to construct 'empirical evidence' (based on the senses, repeatable, observable, etc), on the other hand we can say that these principles can not be subjected to empirical evidence because they are the point of generation. In analogy: the brain which processes all pain of the body does not feel any pain itself. We can not subject it to pain, although it is the hub of processing pain?

Liquid Egg Product / July 24th, 2009, 2:30 pm / #28

Stop hiding behind "science", you leftie nutjob. Green is the color of Hamas, and it's obvious you want to destroy the state of Israel.

BlackSun / July 24th, 2009, 8:19 pm / #29

hahahahaha, at least someone has a sense of humor!

Cosmos / July 31st, 2009, 12:30 am / #30

Hey, did anybody see that program on the science channel about how the rotation of the moon around earth helps keep our climate under control? That, in addition to the effects of the sun make for a great combo I think. So much for the silly ideas of MoveOn.org who state their own agenda as "stopping Climate Change". Who would have guessed.

Andreas Mannal / August 1st, 2009, 2:11 am / #31

This will be my last post here, unless we find some way of atheism. Sean, you are using the same kind of patterns and tactics as your parents did. Do you realize that?! Who cares whether it is for 'theism' or 'a-theism'. I feel completyely manipulated. You post. I respond. You remove your post, and I can't. My name is automated to your website, etc….What is this?! The genetics of manipulation across the human mind? You are just replicating e=what you accuse ?

BlackSun / August 1st, 2009, 2:28 am / #32

I didn't remove any posts. Don't know what you're talking about. Please chill out.

BlackSun / August 1st, 2009, 2:40 am / #33

Intense debate seems to have changed their code, now you must click on replies to see them.

noche70 / August 5th, 2009, 8:31 pm / #34

Its so sad to live a whole life believing in nothing…

bananaman / August 20th, 2009, 5:05 pm / #35

Its so incredibly liberating to realise that I don't owe some figment of my (actually, someone else's) imagination anything!

Andreas Mannal / August 6th, 2009, 12:59 am / #36

"Nothing" is the most beautiful counter point to "something". "Something" becomes and is in the face of "nothing". That is a point beyond any empirical evidence?!

Let empiricism do its thing in its own valuable ways, and don't elevate it to fanatical and ignorant level of thought ?

bananaman / August 20th, 2009, 4:22 pm / #37

Seems like rather a waste of time to argue about this stuff. You will never change people's beliefs. I'm optimistic about your assertion that eventually in a few generations this religion thing will die out, or maybe we'll all become followers of Confucius or whatever. Anything would be better than what we have now. But it is really REALLY pointless to attack belief. These people are already lost to the fantasy world, and we have no right to assert that their beliefs, in the absence of proof, are nonsense. We can certainly offer it as an opinion, but not as an absolute truth. Its actually a step forward in my view when people really start to think about evidence. I reckon this guy is pretty close to a secular epiphany too given all of that waffle about the fundamental energy of the Universe being spiritual etc. Its clutching at straws.

The danger lies in when these beliefs are used as the basis for decision making in the rational world (Crusades, invading Iraq, maybe stem-cell research but I'm not convinced that does not also have some compelling secular moral/philosophical arguments yet to be worked out). Apart from bleating on about your lost soul, I don't find anything particularly objectionable about this Sean guy's position. I was a believer once, indoctrinated from birth where I come from. I got over it, eventually. With luck, he will too.

BlackSun / August 20th, 2009, 9:21 pm / #38

bananaman, I'm not so sure. Like you, I changed my beliefs. Up to 40% of the religious convert to another religion. The ARIS and NRIS surveys show significant increases in the number of non-believers. I think ridicule and reason are the two things that eventually begin to raise doubt. The rest is up to the person. Also, I think critical thinking skills are vital. There are many other things people get stupid and crazy about besides religion. I've begun to think of religion as a mere subset of human irrationality. Can we change? Yes. Will we? The jury is still out. I think generations of science education will eventually breed this mind-virus out of the human race.

But forget Christians. Muslims and Hindus are even further back in the dark ages. What's more is that all the religious tend to have lots of kids and indoctrinate them. It's their nature to keep the meme going. There's nothing quite so terrifying as a fully indoctrinated 8 or 10 year old. It ought to be against the law, and someday I predict it will be. At the very least kids need to learn about all religions–a comparative and critical study. That, to me is almost better than bringing them up with no religion, because they will be inoculated against ever accepting anything as the "one true faith."

bananaman / August 20th, 2009, 4:54 pm / #39

Sorry, of course I meant "this STEVE guy…" !!

VMcGee / August 24th, 2009, 6:09 am / #40

Ok Sean. I am on the same page as you with respect to religion. I too believe that it has been the downfall of humanity. Christianity is a special kind of infection that is threaded through all of society whether we like it or not. The one and only thing that I strongly disagree with you about, is the belief that there is a greater power out there. You go on and on about how the "believers" duck and dive past providing you with any evidence that God does exist…..Well….have any of the atheists proven that there is no god or higher power. I am not talking about the basic ideas God in religion, I'm talking about what's beyond our planet. Also, can you prove that there is no existence of the "supernatural"..Setting all bullshit aside about being Jesus in a past life, I have, myself experienced things like touch healing (and I was not in some evangelical church with hands being laid on me – and it had nothing to do with religion. From what I have read about you, It seems to me that you have gone to the extreme opposite direction from your mother and father. I can understand why. But why resort to belittling someone like the Dali Lama, Next thing we all know, you'll have some shit to say about Gandi and Mother Therisa. I say it's the religious that try to make a prophet (money)…..that's where the evil lies. I get what the person you were arguing was saying about you with respect to being of the material mind. We all have our own personal truths and reality. What gives anyone the right to tell us what's right or wrong or what is true or untrue. That's where I draw the line with people. I don't think the guy was being so literal with you. You completely reject all that is spiritual or religious because of the evil that your parents committed. The religious, ok…..I can swallow you rejecting religion, but spirituality???? I don't know. To me spirituality is connection with the greater power within myself and the literal universe. This is independent of religion. I guess it's energy focus….

So what about the people who "believe" that they have spirituality? What if they really do do good for others without the intent to profit? I think that trying to control the beliefs of anyone else is no good. Not all religious people force views on others though.

Here's one more thought….or rather a challenge.

Prove to all of us that there is no God or higher power….You have me on the evil of religion, only because I to feel the same…..but if you are going to call out someone on not providing any evidence and not have any evidence or proof of your own…..well, I have to call you out on your shit.

I do really like you though…..and am glad that I found your page. some day I'll tell you what led me here.

BlackSun / August 24th, 2009, 7:12 am / #41

VMcGee,

I don't know whether there is a god or not. I don't think there is, never seen any evidence for it. I don't need to prove it, because I don't even know what "it" is. That's the point. We should all stop making judgments about it until we find some evidence. Right now, the state of the evidence for God is equal to that for pink unicorns. No one can agree what the concept even means. I have no problem with anyone who wants to believe in some form of spirituality. It's when they start acting on it, and asking me to accept their decisions I have a problem.

And it's not just about spiritual beliefs, but all types. Homeopathy. Anti-vaccination. Conspiracies. The idea that climate change is a hoax. You name it, someone's out there pushing it, and basing their political, emotional and social lives on it. Why is that a problem? For obvious reasons. If you don't get your kids vaccinated because you have an irrational belief about it, not only do you endanger your own child, you endanger the community. Ditto about global warming. Believe all you want that it's not man-made or that CO2 isn't causing it. I don't care as long as you reduce or eliminate your carbon footprint.

See what I'm saying? Believe what you want in your personal life, but when it comes to actions that affect others, you must (or should) follow the evidence.

As for Mother Teresa? Read Christopher Hitchens' book about her. I don't have to say anything. She already said it all: she "never felt the presence of God." Check out the article in Time magazine that came out around the time she died. She put that quote in a letter she wrote to a priest or cardinal. And she wasn't the great saint she's made out to be. Really. Read Hitchens' book.

The Dalai Lama is to the right of the Pope about sexuality. John Safran made a video about this, but it has been pulled down from YouTube.

And there it is. Looking forward to hearing your story.

H.H. / October 24th, 2009, 8:36 pm / #42

Prove to all of us that there is no God or higher power….You have me on the evil of religion, only because I to feel the same…..but if you are going to call out someone on not providing any evidence and not have any evidence or proof of your own…..well, I have to call you out on your shit.

No, it doesn't work that way. The burden of proof is on those making the positive claim. If you claim that X exists, then you need to provide evidence for X. Claims asserted without evidence can be rejected without evidence. There is no burden to prove a negative. You can't get less than "zero" evidence.

That's really all atheism is: the recognition that the arguments for god fail. It's not an assertion that god definitely does not exist. He may. But belief in a god cannot be justified at this time based on current evidence, so atheism is the only position which may be soundly based on the evidence at hand.

H.H. / October 24th, 2009, 8:26 pm / #43

As you know, Einstein proved that everything is, at its core, energy. If thats true, then how big a leap is it to say that all was ultimately created out of energy and that energy might even be determined to be spiritual energy – which is energy defined as that which has a vibration above and beyond energy found in material realm?

Wait, what? "Spiritual" energy is just regular old energy with a higher "vibration?" What does that mean exactly? Does he mean frequency? What ranges are we talking? And if such a thing is currently undetectable, how in the world has he inferred its existence?

But notice the bait and switch. Einstein proved matter and energy are interchangeable. Let's substitute the work "spirit" for "energy." Can't we now say that everything is spiritual in nature? Wow, what convincing logic.

I swear, I've yet to see a New Age faith-head who doesn't think energy is a synonym for "magic."

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