Friday, June 8, 2012

30 Days to a Better You!

I have a challenge for the religious.  The challenge comes with no obligation, and I offer a full refund of your payment if you are not satisfied with the results.  For the next 30 days, I challenge you to do the following.  Every time you have a question about your deity of choice, about a mysterious or confusing aspect of your understanding of it, try answering the question with, "Because it doesn't exist."

For example, if you ask yourself, "Why doesn't (my deity of choice) heal amputees?", answer with "Because it doesn't exist."  If you ask, "Why did my deity of choice make such an easily misinterpreted set of rules to live by?", answer with "Because it doesn't exist."  And so on.

You don't have to actually believe the answer during the trial period, but try it and see how well it fits every time (depending on how you phrase the question).  Former believers will tell you that it's amazing how much your understanding of the world around you can improve and clarify after you begin using this answer for those stubborn questions.

47 comments:

David said...

Oh, this is so true. I remember struggling for years trying to understand how god could be three people yet somehow one god in the trinity, how one being could be both just and merciful, how the law was necessary for Christians yet somehow not really because of Jesus, etc... Now I can just say "Fuck it. Doesn't matter." Emperor's new clothes and whatnot.

Thesauros said...

"Why did my deity of choice make such an easily misinterpreted set of rules to live by?"

Oh, I know. Like what exactly does "Love your neighbour as you love yourself," mean anyway? How can anyone be expected to get that?

Hard to understand? Obvious conclusion, No God! What would we do without atheist logic?

Admin said...

Well, it went way over Thesauros' head. What can we expect from Christians, anyway, right? I forgot, but Thesauros reminded me, that there is only one faction of Christianity, and that they all agree on what those words mean. There is no misunderstanding about whether or not such a rule allows capital punishment for crimes, who is a "neighbour", whether or not it's OK to stone gays to death, etc. Thanks, Thesauros! We couldn't do this without you.

Imagine, Thesauros, if the laws of your country were written such that these things were not clear. They probably are clear. And we're just people. Don't you think gods should be able to make the rules a bit clearer? Why do you need 30,000 factions of Christianity if the rules are so obvious to interpret? Nice try.

Admin said...

A great irony is that Thesauros probably wouldn't have treated himself the way he treated me with his comment. Would he have used condescending sarcasm on himself like that? I guess he really doesn't know what "Love your neighbour as you love yourself" means, does he?

So many Christians can recite the rules, all have a different idea of what they mean.

David said...

Yes, that is the only rule put forth by the Bible. Aside from... most of the Bible.

Admin said...

I would challenge him to cite any rule of Christianity for which all Christians have always agreed on the interpretation. When he can't come up with one and wonders why not, he should apply the challenge in the post.

Thesauros said...

"guess he really doesn't know what "Love your neighbour as yourself . . .”

The issue at hand, I thought, was Biblical rules that were so unclear that people could not interpret them properly. Perhaps the issue did over my head – as you said, I'm only a Christian so what could you expect.

For the sake of argument I'm going to suggest that the rules are perfectly clear. That it's our corrupted self-love that causes us to interpret them in a self-serving manner. I gave a good example with quoting a perfectly clear command but acting otherwise. My behaviour is hardly the fault of the rule. An example that is closer to home is the posted speed limit 110kms / hr. Yet when people set their cruise at 115, 120, is it because the rule is unclear? Of course not. The problem is with us, not the rules.

For what it's worth, and that's probably not very much to you guys, I'd finished a post and just this topic a few days ago.

http://thesauros-store.blogspot.ca/2012/06/why-do-you-ignore-gods-law.html

Thesauros said...

Oh, ya, now I remember the post,it went something like, if people interpret Biblical rules differently, it's because God doesn't exist. Typical line of atheist thinking. That's not sarcasm. It's a fact.

David said...

I think you think we're saying that different interpretations are proof that god doesn't exist. We (or at least I) are just trying to say that it's much simpler to say that it's because the Bible was written by several different men over a really long period of time than it is to jump through apologetic hoops for hours trying to show that somehow everything in there is perfectly true and valid all of the time. You know, Occam's Razor.

Admin said...

So Thesauros, you believe that a powerful god really wants us to understand the rules, yet is incapable of making a single rule that all can understand? You think it's a better plan to make a very difficult-to-understand set of rules that nobody can agree on, despite the best of intentions? Yeah, good plan.

Why is this? Because Yahweh isn't real. Try it, it works so well. And we'll wait for a single example of a Christian rule that all Christians agree on the meaning of.

Thesauros said...

"You know, Occam's Razor."

Yes I do and it has nothing to do with what you're talking about. but it's too hot out to spend time arguing about it. we believe what we believe.

Admin said...

Yep, you believe what you believe. And it's so sad. So are you refusing to take the challenge as outlined in the post? Afraid of what might happen?

Admin said...

Is Yahweh a) incapable or b) unwilling to make a single unambiguous rule that all can understand? And why is this a reasonable plan?

Admin said...

And just to be clear, we're not talking about why Christians can't FOLLOW the "law", we're talking about why they can't even interpret what it means. I'll bet you think you have the correct interpretations for all of them, but so do other people, and theirs disagrees with yours. Honestly, the Bible has to be one of the most poorly-written rule books on the planet. Explain.

Thesauros said...

"we're talking about why they can't even interpret what it means"

You mean like you atheists and "Occam's Razor"? :-)

Admin said...

Doesn't matter what we can or cannot interpret. We are humans, not gods. If you think it's reasonable that your god cannot make an easy-to-understand rule book even though it REALLY, REALLY wants us to follow the rules, then your god isn't very powerful.

You can make a complex apologetic for every issue, such as why your god doesn't answer prayers, why bad things happen to good people, why this, why that, but all can be simply and satisfactorily answered with "Because it doesn't exist". You seem to be avoiding that issue completely.

Thesauros said...

Your little game is so puerile that I can't bring myself to play along. However, I know you won't quit until I give you more than one-liners - so:

I simply don't see differences denominations as a problem. I'm not saying there isn't a problem, just that the different sects is it.

Fist of all, most denominations are not different because of different interpretations per se. Most denominations exist because the emphasis is placed on different areas of what God teaches about human relations and about our relationship with Him. Human beings are fantastically wonderfully marvelously varied and multifaceted. What a bore if we all placed equal emphasis on every detail of life.

While no analogy is perfect, I compare the different denominations to sports lovers. Not everyone demands attendance at baseball games and baseball games only. Some think hockey is the best. Some cricket and so on. The problem is when (and we Christians have got a problem) we think of others as less than because they believe something different or emphasize something different.

But that just goes back to who we are as humans. I don't want to demean or put down with my comments but reality is, you atheists don't have the market on hypocrisy, or bigotry or immorality. Any one of us can give you a run for your money in any of those areas. Those things may seem more concentrated in the Church because we all “congregate” together but . . .

Thesauros said...

"why bad things happen to good people,"

Again, I can't do this. I'm sure you mean well but, bad things happen to good people therefore God does not exist? I mean, come on. That is just sooooooo incoherent, illogical, inane. I can't do it. The stupid is just too great.

Admin said...

"I simply don't see differences denominations as a problem. I'm not saying there isn't a problem, just that the different sects is it."

Then I guess we have different ideas of what a rule book from an omnipotent (or at least a very powerful) god should look like. If I were a god, all who saw would understand. Illiterates, the young, even the blind would know what my words meant, and there would be no disagreement.

"Fist of all, most denominations are not different because of different interpretations per se."

I strongly disagree. A whole lot of sects think every other sect is going to be tortured forever as punishment. Then again, not all can even agree on whether or not Hell exists. Great plan, Yahweh!

The rest of your post is a long apologetic excuse for a question that can be answered much more easily. Completely unsatisfactory.

Admin said...

"Again, I can't do this. I'm sure you mean well but, bad things happen to good people therefore God does not exist? I mean, come on. That is just sooooooo incoherent, illogical, inane. I can't do it. The stupid is just too great."

You're missing the point COMPLETELY. One or two questions is not enough. Take ALL of the questions! Every question that is asked, all of the millions of man-hours spent on trying to figure these things out, all of the millions of volumes of text justifying these problems. Then compare it all to one simple answer, "Because it doesn't exist."

You are REFUSING to accept the challenge, because you're a coward and are afraid of what you might discover. You DON'T WANT to stop believing or have anything even threaten in.

Admin said...

You really don't get what I'm trying to say. Either you don't get it, or you don't want to admit that you get it. I guess my writing is about as clear as Yahweh's in that case.

Admin said...

Yahweh wants me to believe it exists, yet leaves no evidence. It wants me to understand, yet doesn't make it clear. It wants me to follow, yet doesn't lead. It wants me to pray, yet doesn't respond. It wants me to worship, yet doesn't deserve it.

These are the main reasons why your god, at least as described by Christians, doesn't exist.

Thesauros said...

yet leaves no evidence"

You mean, other than a life-sustaining, mathematically precise, moral universe whose ever constant and quantity was in place at Planck time and which came into being ex nihilo? Not enough evidence for you?

Admin said...

"You mean, other than a life-sustaining, mathematically precise, moral universe whose ever constant and quantity was in place at Planck time and which came into being ex nihilo? Not enough evidence for you?"

Argument from ignorance is not evidence. Sorry. The answer is, "no".

Avoiding the main issue, are we? Do you accept the challenge, yes or no?

Admin said...

I also reject the idea that the Universe is "moral". you should also think about just how "life-sustaining" it is. The vast, vast, vast, vast majority of it is extremely hostile and lethal to life. Only extremely tiny little island(s) is hospitable, and even there, life is not easy. It's harsh, brutal, unforgiving, and at times downright cruel.

Thesauros said...

As with Occam's Razor you don't understand an argument from ignorance either. The evidence points directly away from a material cause and toward an immaterial cause.

As to this not being a life sustaining universe, in your view, just how much life must exist for this to be a life sustaining universe?

"and at times downright cruel"
Yes I know, and therefore logically, in atheist-world, God does not exist. Pfft!

Admin said...

"The evidence points directly away from a material cause and toward an immaterial cause."

Oh, please do go on! Please cite published papers from physicists/cosmologists and the evidence supporting them. Where do they suggest a god as an "immaterial cause" which created the Universe? Then get back to the challenge, which you've dodged yet again.

"Yes I know, and therefore logically, in atheist-world, God does not exist. Pfft!"

If you intentionally avoid the big picture again, you're going to make even more of a fool of yourself.

Admin said...

No, you know what? I'm not letting you drag this off-topic any further. Do you or do you not, accept the challenge, you coward?

Thesauros said...

What's the challenge?

You mean that childish "insert "because He doesn't exist" after something you don't understand?

That challenge?

Speaking of an argument from ignorance! There sir is a working definition.

Taking part in your daring challenge would be just one more non sequitur step of thinking (one of about a dozen you've presented so far) and in case you haven't noticed? That is not a rational way of thinking. It's atheism of the gaps. Can't understand it. Ergo, God does not exist. Again - Pfft!

As far as evidence goes, let's begin with the universe for which there simply cannot be a physical explanation for its existence.

This is not God-of-the-gaps because the evidence shows that nothing material caused the singularity since until the Singularity nothing material existed.

. Either matter is eternal (and atheists dearly wish that it could have been) OR
. The Creator of matter is eternal

It's one or the other son, and it's not the former

Admin said...

Ah, so when "Because it doesn't exist" fits the observations, it's childish? Why don't we have evidence of leprechauns? Why don't the leprechauns respond when I speak to them? Why can't everybody see the leprechauns? Why are even those who say they do see the leprechauns unable to agree on what they're like? To respond with "Because leprechauns don't exist" is somehow wrong, illogical, or aleprechaunism of the gaps?

You're flat-out scared of what you might come to understand if you even try this simple experiment for a month.

I'm not going to comment on your understanding of cosmology unless you start citing evidence and papers. I doubt you have much understanding or expertise in the field.

Admin said...

And we're still waiting for an example of a Christian law that is agreed upon by all, and for an explanation of why you think this is a good plan by Yahweh. Is that how you would do it? If you were all-powerful and wanted us to follow, you'd make something that vague?

David said...

I think he's mad because we say that it's an argument from ignorance if somebody assumes god is behind natural phenomena, so he thinks that ruling out god for supernatural claims is also an argument from ignorance. At least that's what I'm getting. Except that I just don't believe supernatural claims to begin with.

Thesauros said...

Do you actually think that I or other Christians have never asked ourselves these questions? Seriously? Like, why won't God do what I tell him to do (the atheist definition of prayer)? Seriously?

You're right, I'm too afraid that I might lose my faith if I take part in this ingenious plan of yours.

After all, it's worked it's evil on all of you who, um, already deny the existence of your Creator. I'm going to go now before it's too late. Good luck on your journey.

Admin said...

Bible says Yahweh will answer prayers and that faith can move mountains. I didn't make the text, I'm just reading it. And have you tried answering the questions you've asked with "Because it doesn't exist"?

Admin said...

I do not deny the existence of my creators. My mother and father exist. You're a liar.

David said...

An atheist's definition of prayer?
Psalm 37:4, Matthew 7:7-8, 18:19, 21:22, Mark 11:24, John 14:3, 15:7, 15:16, 16:23, James 1:5, 1 John 3:22, 5:14.
So... Jesus, James, and John were atheists. Huh.

Admin said...

Great list, David! Thanks! I'd never have had the energy to look those up. Did you know them off the top of your head (former preacher)?

David said...

Haha, no. I wish I had that kind of cred. I just typed in "ask and it will be given to you" on Google, then it gave me Matthew 7:7 and a list of similar passages. It's interesting that our Christian friend hadn't taken the time to do the same.

Admin said...

I'm going to try once more to explain to Thesauros, because I'm sure he'll be back.

The argument is NOT(!), "A is true therefore your god does not exist." It not existing is my model for explaining what we observe. Your model is the existence of a magic creature, which you as a Christian endow with certain qualities. Typically these qualities are perfection, all-powerful, all-good, etc.

Now, if we ask a question about something that doesn't seem to fit, such as "Why does Yahweh say in the Bible that it will answer prayers, then not do so?, we can compare our models. Is it POSSIBLE that my model, non-existence, explains this problem? Yes, it is. You, on the other hand, will require pages, volumes, centuries of excuses, confusion, and maybe even violence, to explain it away.

Admin said...

Then we move on the the next question. My model, non-existence, is a possible candidate to explain it. You will need more volumes of completely different excuses from last time, along with centuries more confusion, splits in the Church, etc, to explain it away.

Then we repeat again and again and again. The elegance of my model, one simple sentence which is a possible solution for each of the thousands of questions individually, becomes a very attractive candidate when compared to all of your millions of volumes of hand-waving and excuses.

I just watched a BBC video of a hungry wolf in a life-and-death battle with a young bison. Blood and fur were flying, and for more than an hour, these two animals tortured each other until finally the baby bison collapsed of exhaustion and injury. You attempt to reconcile this with an all-loving, all-good deity, but it just doesn't make sense. William L. Craig, that jackass, even goes as far as justifying genocide to try to explain the actions of the all-good deity he believes in.

Admin said...

People were once trying to explain the motions of the planets in a presupposed geocentric system. It required a lot of excuses and effort to explain why the observations didn't match. Then it was all answered with one sentence, "The Sun is at the centre." The elegant solution was correct. It answered all of the questions, doing away with a whole lot of (often religiously-motivated) excuses.

Admin said...

So my challenge to you, is for 30 days to take all of your questions about these problems, and try substituting in the non-existence model to answer it. Does it fit? Then look back after those 30 days and see how well the model fit the observations overall. You'll probably be surprised, if you have the guts to go through with it.

And do not ever come back here and try to tell me that cosmology somehow points the way and provides evidence for your deity when physicists, who know the topic and the evidence best, are amongst the least likely of all people to believe in gods. You're trying to pull one over on me, but I am too educated for that to work. Or are you suggesting that you understand the field and its implications better than they do?

Thesauros said...

Not sure if you care but I thought I'd let you know that I did a post just about you and your goofy ideas on my blog.

Admin said...

And yet, you are completely unable to provide a satisfactory refutation to my ideas. Strange, isn't it? Why not refer your readers here, so they can read the comments and see what I'm really asking of you?

Why can't you provide even a single Christian rule that is not misinterpreted, and do you think that is a good plan by your supposedly omnipotent deity? What about the leprechauns?

Admin said...

Do you DENY that the answer, "Because it doesn't exist" possibly explains the vast majority of "why" questions religious people might have about the behaviour of their deity(ies), while not requiring millions of pages of text and centuries of fighting to support?

Yes, when no proper response can be given, rally around faith and get your "peeps" to tell you how correct you are. Not a single one of you will present any evidence that you're correct, but faith doesn't require that, now does it?

I'm still waiting for an admission of error regarding your statement that cosmology points to a deity.

Admin said...

I just noticed this:

"Do you actually think that I or other Christians have never asked ourselves these questions? Seriously? Like, why won't God do what I tell him to do (the atheist definition of prayer)? Seriously?"

Again, over your head. Do you think that if I thought Christians didn't ask questions about these things, that I'd give them suggestions on how to answer those questions next time they come up? Seriously? I'm really thinking that you don't understand what is going on here at all. You're probably in way over your head.

David said...

Well, Admin, I think we're beat. I picked up a book today, and this is what it says:

"Particularly puzzling to Hitchens are the infancy narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Most Christian scholars today delight in these factually irreconcilable accounts of Jesus' birth, since through them the two evangelists are able to introduce idiosyncratic theological themes that they carry through the remainder of their Gospels."

And later...

"Students who take an introductory course in biblical literature learn to take all these contradictions in stride, seeing them as opportunities to explore deeper levels of the sacred texts or as invitations to study the diverse theological perspectives in the Bible."

So it's not that theology is just making excuses for nonsensical contradictions, but that the Bible HAS TO BE self-contradictory, so theology has an excuse to exist!