Are You Ready For This?

Are you ready for this? When life is discovered on another planet in this or any solar system will it change your life? What mental contortions will you have to go through to justify your beliefs? What back peddling will you have to do? Does your position on life and it’s possible meaning allow for life on other planets?

Well, you need to be ready to answer those questions soon.

Over at Discovery News is a story about how the Mars Rover has found evidence of flowing water on Mars.

The proof comes from analysis of pictures of a jagged slab of rock taken with a telephoto camera on the rover’s mast.

The rock, which resembles a jackhammered chunk of broken sidewalk, is flecked with rounded pieces of gravel — too big to have been carried by Martian winds.

Instead, Curiosity scientists are quite sure the gravel was deposited by a vigorously flowing stream, one that was between ankle- and knee-deep and likely flowed for thousands or even millions of years.

“We have now discovered evidence for water,” said lead scientist John Grotzinger. “This makes a great starting point for us to do more sophisticated studies.”

What happens when Earth is not the special single seat of life in the universe anymore? Can the universe still have been created for mankind? If life is found on Mars the idea of panspermia might become more important – there goes the creation stories.

Will other life forms have their own Jesus story or did Jesus visit them and die on the cross there too?

Will they laugh at us for being primitive?

Already we have evidence of what was not thought probable before. The likelihood that there was life on Mars in the past is now much higher as well as the probability that there is other life forms in the universe. If life is not unique, what happens to philosophy? Does yours allow for we apes to not be alone in the universe?

What do you think?

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    • J_Agathokles
    • October 9th, 2012

    You know. I was under the impressions we had *several* pieces of evidence water once flowed on Mars years ago already. This is just the so-manieth piece of evidence. And for me it wouldn’t contradict any religious teachings at all. It would still impact me greatly I think if we ever find definite evidence.

  1. There are several, but the previous bits were not conclusive. This one requires a liquid to be flowing to form it. What’s left is further confirmation and looking for life signs, probably fossil markings etc. that are left behind by bacterial life.

    It wouldn’t change my view at all, rather it would confirm it mostly. In the way that change renews things, I think the human race and its religions are ready for some renewal activity. I’d much rather hear talks about extraterrestrials than clerics belching about how marriage is only for one man, one woman.

    We need the change in my opinion.

    • Joe ‘Blondie’ Manco
    • October 9th, 2012

    Sadly, I don’t think it will change many devout minds at all. Our Earth-based discoveries and progress over several thousand years should be enough to do so and they’ve had little effect on some people. That’s very cynical of me, but the reality of some people being beyond reason is a precedent that has already been set.

    As for myself, I would consider the discovery amazing. I imagine life does exist out there somewhere but to find it on such a close neighbour is a step in the right direction to declaring that life throughout the universe is pretty common. Bring it on.

    • That might be cynical, but probably not wrong. Although I am beginning to think that not so many people are beyond reason. It may be hard to push them to the point that they’ll choose other than their religion, but I think there are a substantial number of believers that will only believe up to a point. A case in point: they like to say that there are no atheists in foxholes, but try getting one of them to understand why god gave them cancer, or their dear relative etc. Why did god take away their job or child etc. When the chips are down they are vulnerable to enlightenment. They’ve been taking the easy path all their lives and when faced with seeming cruelty from their deity of choice, an easier path is more palatable than explaining why their god would choose to do them such a bad turn.

      Mind you, Romans 18-22 should be enough to put them off for good… Paul says that his god does that to people at his whim, and because he likes to. Don’t ask why, just accept it. That’s even more harsh that my world view. To me, shit happens. For Paul, his god does it for kicks. Why anyone wants to be a believer after reading the bible is insanely difficult to understand.

      But I’m with you, bring it on!

        • Joe ‘Blondie’ Manco
        • October 9th, 2012

        I guess I was only thinking of the worst, in reality I suppose we’ll both be right, meaning there will be as many degrees of reaction as we can possibly imagine. Whereas some will finally wake up, the affront on ingrained religious values will only strengthen the resolve of others. And all these geological time spans will mean nothing to our Young Earth friends. I assume Mars is only 6000 years old too.

        Still, it’s bound to work for some people, and I agree that the resulting shift in discussion will be a welcome change.

  2. Excellent question. The answer to ‘how much will my beliefs change?’ is ‘Not much’. The God I know and serve is God of all the Universe and anything beyond. He is not the God of my tribe, or my section of geography or just my planet.

    Now here’s the logical corollary of your question: How much will you have to twist to maintain your beliefs when humanity finds another sentient species who worship a single Creator God who loves them and would sacrifice Himself for them?

    By the way, MAL, I miss you over at my place.

    • That is an interesting look at things. I think it’s probably a stretch to think that another species would also think it high praise to sacrifice the 1st born of the king. I’d think it a stretch to imagine that another species would think blood sacrifice was a good idea. You and I don’t even think it’s a good idea, but that is exactly what the Jesus story is about. Blood sacrifice. I just don’t see it happening.

    • J_Agathokles
    • October 10th, 2012

    myatheistlife :
    Why anyone wants to be a believer after reading the bible is insanely difficult to understand.
    But I’m with you, bring it on!

    That’s easy, most people *don’t* read that thing. Someone once put it this way: reading the Bible is the best way to become an atheist. Or further: It’s ironic how the Bible is more useful to argue *against* Christianity than it is to support it.

    Ah, the problems of having one true word of God! But well, that’s the Christians’ problems, I’m not gonna solve their theological issues for them. The more issues, the merrier as far as I’m concerned in the matter.

      • myatheistlife
      • October 10th, 2012

      LOL

      To quote the band Tool

      Foot in mouth and head up ass
      oh, whatcha talking ’bout
      difficult to dance round this one
      till you pull it out

      I think that about sums up the problem that believers have

      • J_Agathokles
      • October 10th, 2012

      There’s a reason the Church wanted to keep the Bible in Latin in the West, so only priests and church people could read it 😛

        • myatheistlife
        • October 10th, 2012

        Thank you Mr Gutenberg, and of course all those 47 men working for the King to fix the poor translations already extant. Never blessed and always used, the KJV tells it like it is 🙂 but you have to read it to know ….

  3. J_Agathokles :
    There’s a reason the Church wanted to keep the Bible in Latin in the West, so only priests and church people could read it

    You are aware then when the Vulgate (the Latin language) Bible was translated, Latin was the common language of the Roman Empire, aren’t you? In fact, “Vulgate” comes from the same Latin word as comes “vulgar”, meaning ‘common’ or ‘ordinary’.

    You know all about the Bible, do you?

    • I know a bit about it sir, yes I do. It’s been long enough since my last reading of it that I can forget things, but that is not to say I know little of it. If memory serves me well, it is likely that the vulgate is the source of why modern day catholics have different texts than protestants, given they follow the latin and protestants seem to follow the KJV line.

      There was a time not that long ago that I tried to learn Greek, though not classical Greek and not with the intent of translating the bible in Greek. I just wanted to understand language and where English comes from. Most good Brits my age tend to know at least some Latin. What I know of this history of the Christian Bible is almost always flatly denied by those who should rightly know more than I.

  4. myatheistlife :
    That is an interesting look at things. I think it’s probably a stretch to think that another species would also think it high praise to sacrifice the 1st born of the king. I’d think it a stretch to imagine that another species would think blood sacrifice was a good idea. You and I don’t even think it’s a good idea, but that is exactly what the Jesus story is about. Blood sacrifice. I just don’t see it happening.

    Interesting? It is EXACTLY the same ‘interesting’ question you posed, except the other logical alternative.

    And, I enjoy the way you duck the question. Instead of answering the hypothetical, you are unable to even picture it and you simply deny everything.

    So I understand why you haven’t been back to finish our discussion.

      • Joe ‘Blondie’ Manco
      • October 10th, 2012

      I think it’s reasonable, and quite possible, that evolving beings on another planet will develop god/creation myths and religion to try and explain their existence. I fail to see how this will give any credit to Christianity/Islam/, especially if sections of those beings separated by geographical distribution have come up with entirely different myths/dogmas.

      Should we discover a sentient race of beings on another planet that have all found Christianity, then you have a case. Good luck with that.

      When, and if, this discovery is made, and it turns out they believe in a god, it will say more about how intelligent beings evolve than whether or not any supernatural forces exist.

    • wow, to be honest, I’ve been so busy I can’t remember that I had an unfinished discussion with you. For months now, I’m lucky to get an hour sitting still in a day. I’ve been burning both ends for a while now. It’s probably for this reason that the rest of your comment here seems fuzzy to me. Interesting but logical alternative of what question? “Are you ready for this?” ???? Which question did I duck?

  5. myatheistlife :
    I know a bit about it sir, yes I do. It’s been long enough since my last reading of it that I can forget things, but that is not to say I know little of it. If memory serves me well, it is likely that the vulgate is the source of why modern day catholics have different texts than protestants, given they follow the latin and protestants seem to follow the KJV line.
    There was a time not that long ago that I tried to learn Greek, though not classical Greek and not with the intent of translating the bible in Greek. I just wanted to understand language and where English comes from. Most good Brits my age tend to know at least some Latin. What I know of this history of the Christian Bible is almost always flatly denied by those who should rightly know more than I.

    You know less than you think you do.
    Since the Vulgate Bible – in the language of the common people – was translated in the 5th Century (completed 405 AD) and the KJV was ‘issued’ in 1611, there’s probably earlier reasons for the split between RCC and Protestant. (The Reformation began as such things are reckoned with Martin Luther in the 16th Century).

    So, you’re wrong about the Latin Bible being intended to keep people from reading it. That is simply not the case. Are you going to address your mistake, or are you simply going to continue spewing that ignorance?

    You’re also wrong about the ‘texts’ of the Vulgate Bible being ‘different’ from the ‘texts’ of the KJV Bible. The RCC and Protestants use the same Bible – allowing for translational word choice. The RCC recognizes a few extra books known collectively as the Apocrypha as part of the Bible canon, but Protestants do not. However, there isn’t anything in the Apocrypha which makes any difference in any of the rest of the Bible. So the net difference is nil.

    In fact, the only ‘Bible’ that is ‘different’ is the New World translation, a work of the Jehovah’s Witness group. There is at least one passage intentionally changed in so-called translation to fit into their own doctrine.

    You say “…those who should rightly know more than [you]…” inform you that you are in error about what you ‘know’? You should pay more attention to them; you are wrong.

    Which is not to say I know everything. I know precious little about brain surgery. In that regard, I don’t make ignorant statements about the process. I’m sure there are subjects about which you know more than I. But none of those subjects are the Bible, Christianity or God.

    • I have missed a point or two it seems. My understanding (from memory) is from the Lutherian point of reference. So as not to misspeak again,

      “While he was sequestered in the Wartburg Castle (1521–1522) Luther began to translate the New Testament from ancient Greek into German in order to make it more accessible to all the people of the “Holy Roman Empire of the German nation.” He translated from the Greek text, using Erasmus’ second edition (1519) of the Greek New Testament, known as the Textus Receptus. Luther did not translate from the Latin Vulgate translation, which is the Latin translation officially used by the Roman Catholic Church. Both Erasmus and Luther had learned Greek at the Latin schools led by the Brethren of the Common Life (respectively in Deventer (Netherlands) and in Magdeburg). These lay brothers added late 15th century Greek as a new subject to their curriculum. At that time Greek was seldom taught even at universities.”

      That they continued with Latin to preserve source and meaning does not mean that it did not become inaccessible to the common man. You are right, I seem to have implied a context that isn’t officially there. In practice, the effect is the same. There was no official practice of following common language until after Protestantism and the KJV and Gutenberg’s press etc. Now pretty much all new translations (regardless of source) are designed to move the text into common language or more readily accessible language. This is relatively brand new way for religion to treat that text. The RCC still follows Latin for certain functions of reading the texts.

      In the sense that the Bible cannon is a library, the RCC library is different than the Protestant Library. Protestants tend to use only the (Christian) Bible with no additional text as do Catholics, Jews, and Muslims. A pedant would be more specific and refer to various cannon rather than simply use the term bible.

      Finally, no, I said that those who should know more deny even basic historical facts about their holy texts. Wrong I might be, but it’s not so wrong as you seem to want it to be.

      If keeping an official language preserves meaning and source material, I’d have preferred they stick to the Greek. It would have had the same effect over time.

      Back on the topic of the post

  6. myatheistlife :
    wow, to be honest, I’ve been so busy I can’t remember that I had an unfinished discussion with you. For months now, I’m lucky to get an hour sitting still in a day. I’ve been burning both ends for a while now. It’s probably for this reason that the rest of your comment here seems fuzzy to me. Interesting but logical alternative of what question? “Are you ready for this?” ???? Which question did I duck?

    The question of “What are you going to do when you find out you’ve been wrong all this time?” You avoided the question by saying more or less, you cannot be wrong about the existence of God.

    You seem to think no other sentient race could address the concept of right, wrong, sin and the need for recompense, repayment, punishment for sin and atonement. I find that assumption rather naive.

    • However MAL, if you’re running ragged, get some sleep and then get back to me. I understand burning candles on both ends. Take care of your own business, I’ll be around.

        • J_Agathokles
        • October 11th, 2012

        Yes I am aware of that. But true during the 6-7-8th centuries the different dialects of vulgar Latin started divulging so much that that speakers from one region had difficulty understanding people from another region. And thus the Romance language family was born. So the Bible only became accessible for clerics and scholars, who still learned Latin. This suited the Church to further impose and maintain it’s monopoly on spiritual affairs.

          • J_Agathokles
          • October 11th, 2012

          Sorry, this was a reply to another comment, it was posted wrongly here. I was replying to OldManMontgomery.

            • myatheistlife
            • October 11th, 2012

            Not a problem. This perfectly fits my comment as well. What I said was not strictly true, but in practice the effect is the same.

    • Oh… that question. Lets start at the beginning. Without sufficient reason to believe in the holy texts of the Abrahamic religions, the list you provide is pointless, at best.

      The concept of right and wrong, I’m fairly certain would get addressed by any sentient race in some fashion, but the rest of that list? Seriously? Sin?

      I can see some ‘issues’ with finding a sentient Christian on another planet in another galaxy, or even solar system. The book of Genesis would seem to necessarily need to be different, and thus the Jesus story etc. How would you square the Pentateuch with sentient Christians on another planet? I’d like to hear that story, it would be worth a blog post. Without the first book, the concept of original sin seems to be in question.

      I’d never say that another species can’t be delusional, but it seems wholly improbable that they would share a delusion with human apes. Like science, I’ll change my position when there is evidence to support doing so. I’m anti-theist for lack of evidence to support theism or even deism.

      As has been said, extraordinary claims with no evidence can be dismissed with no evidence.

      I really would like to hear how you’d square the first 5 books with finding another sentient species on a distant planet who also has a Jesus story.

  7. What was the word you used about some of my questions? “Distractions” I think.

    You still duck the question, but your answer is plain enough: When humanity discovers an alien species with the same (functionally) belief in the same (functionally) God, you will find an excuse to pretend it isn’t there.

    Would it be so hard just to admit it? You have free will. There is no censor (as far as I know) on WordPress. There’s no point worrying if God is going to hear you or read your blog; He already knows what you think.

    Which verifies my prior observation: Atheism is emotion based, not logic based. As long as you are afraid to even consider your view point is wrong, you are basing your view on emotion.

    Don’t think I’m giving up on you. I think there is a rational part of you, deep down. But the first step to rationality is to examine one’s own thoughts from the standpoint of them being wrong.

    I was a career lawman and have always had a hobby of Cosmology and particle physics. Questioning the obvious and demanding evidence and logic is the basis of my life. It is rather easy to see your fear, MAL.

    Don’t be afraid. Reality is that which is not subject to opinion.

    How would I envision a parallel sentient species on another planet who believe in a functionally equivalent God? I’ll write an essay on my ‘Scornful’ site. Using this ‘reply’ function is rather limiting.

    When you catch up on your sleep, MAL, come back and defend your choice of faith.

      • J_Agathokles
      • October 11th, 2012

      Bitch, please. As has been said before, discovering another sentient species on an alien planet with religious thought does not prove your religion is correct at all. They could just as well be poytheist, or pantheist, or panentheist, or whatever. Even if they have monotheism, that doesn’t mean it’ll be anything like Christianity. Look at the variety of monotheisms on Earth alone…

      Assuming that if aliens have a monotheistic religion proves your own faith right is nothing but wishful thinking.

    • How in the world would it be the same god if the story was not very similar. Are you saying that two religions with a functionally same god and functionally same belief are the same? Then Christians and Muslims are the same, right? No, because both of you believe the others are going to burn in hell forever.

      Why don’t you simply admit that your Christian faith does not allow for any other faith but your own? Everyone else is going to burn forever!

      As stated by J_Agathokles, even if there was another species that believed in a god, it does not mean that it is your god or even your idea of a god. It would have to be very similar to your god indeed for your faith to accept them as equals who are not going to hell.

      I have freely said that I think the way I do based on the facts and that if presented credible evidence, just as in science, I would change my mind. Changing my mind before there is credible evidence is just foolish. I used logic and reason to arrive at this position, not emotion. It has taken decades. It was not a whim or knee jerk reaction.

      Your supposition that I’m wrong is wrong. You have no credible evidence or proof of such a supposition. Speaking of opinion, there are more than 29000 Christian sects who think you are wrong about your faith in some way. Your holy texts are very much subject to opinion.

      Your statement about my choice of faith is hilarious. I do not hold a position of faith. It is a position of non-belief. I find no credible evidence to even believe that gods can exist never mind that one does or that it is exactly as your faith describes it. If the stories of your god are true, I’m doing everything according to his plan, as is the rest of the world. Why do believers try so hard to subvert his plan by trying to change people? Why?

      • Obviously I hit the mark about your emotional basis. I knew that.

        MAL, you think Christianity and Islam are ‘similar’? Okay, they both have a deity, and they have believers. Past that, they are quite different. Probably the most obvious distinction is the mechanism for changing a person – any person – from ‘apart from God’ to ‘conformed to God’. There’s a massive difference. I know you can’t see the difference, but that’s the point.

        You hold your belief in the ‘water drop’ theory of the Universe based on complete and total blind faith. The theory is interesting, but without any sort of evidence. There are arguments, but no evidence; certainly not in the same sense as the observed expansion of the visible Universe does for the Big Bang theory.

        As for the 29000 Christian Sects. There are probably a couple of sects who would not consider me a Christian. On the other hand, I know Roman Catholics, Coptics, Eastern Orthodox, Ukrainian Orthodox, all the common U. S. groups and a couple Asian groups. They all receive me as a Christian brother. The trouble is MAL, you don’t understand much about Christianity. You think you do, but in fact, you are nearly totally ignorant. As I am with brain surgery.

        So I’ll repeat the question you left behind at my website: How does your faith in your theory of existence not require as much faith as my faith in a personal God with whom I deal daily?

        • My point was that for the very reason that you think Muslims are going to hell, you will not be able to agree with a sentient alien race that you both believe in the same god without having the same doctrine and dogma.

          i wrote the post on Big Splash not because that is what I believe, but that I could find a way to explain the facts as we know them without the need for a god to explain them. I never said there was evidence for the Big Splash. It was a thought exercise which disagrees with William Lane Craig’s presuppositions in his Kalam Cosmological Argument. Not everything that begins to exist has a causal agent. Some things just are and our existence very well might ‘just be’ and be without cause.

          You claim a hobbyist interest in particle physics: what is anti-matter? If we consider relativity, if one is immersed in the medium of space, the reference point of view of the substance in which we exist does not give us position to determine the understanding of that medium. If our universe is merely a drop in a larger existence, how would we have the appropriate point of view to see that? Indeed, the explanation of quantum mechanics shows that we don’t have a perspective to observe the many dimensions it defines. What we do have are models and mathematics which explain what we do observe and that gives us reason to devise test methods to determine if there is evidence for the theories. Note that there is no such methods for testing the existence of your god or any other and all such tests which have been devised have not shown any evidence of the existence of gods nor that gods can exist at all.

          I have no faith as you claim to have in your god. We exist. I do not have all the answers to the really big questions. It is not faith that tells me I don’t have them. It is lack of evidence that does. Without credible evidence I do not believe in a thing. This is not faith. Your insistence that it is or that I am basing my world view on emotion is a distraction from the discussion. You claim to deal daily with a god for which you cannot show credible evidence of its existence, nor credible evidence of said god’s handiwork. In fact, your ‘evidence’ is no better than the evidence a child has for their invisible friend, or the visions that a mentally ill person has. To the outside world, based on evidence, your faith is no different than either of those in any meaningful way.

          You argue in circles again. You claim that an alien sentient being who believes in a god would somehow prove your god’s existence but you regularly condemn others, who believe in the same god of Abraham, to hell.

          I do not have faith in my “theory of existence” as you call it in the same way that you have faith in your god. Faith is a belief, but faith in something for which there is credible evidence is not the kind of faith you have for your god. If there were credible evidence for your god we would not be having this conversation. Your anecdotes are not credible evidence.

          When we look at the facts with logic and reason, we find that the first question regarding religion is not which god is true, but can gods in fact actually exist. There is no credible evidence that any god can exist never mind discussions about which one is true. There is no emotion in that. It’s just using logic and reason to examine what we know of the world. This leads to the reality that we have no credible evidence to even begin believing that a god can exist. Without that, it does not matter to me which fairy tale you offer up, because any story of god that does not give credible evidence that gods can exist is nothing more than a fairy tale.

          I have credible evidence that a universe can exist, that it can produce life, and that it can start from a singularity. None of these statement requires a god, never mind a god like yours. I do not need a causal agent for my world view. Cogito ergo sum. We may in fact be part of a huge simulation. We may be living in the dream of the Brahma. It doesn’t matter to me because there is no credible evidence for these things and I nor anyone else is able to escape this reality. We are here, epistemology be damned. there is no credible evidence of existence outside of this shared experience we call life.

          To believe in extraordinary claims requires extraordinary evidence or foolhardiness. Extraordinary claims without credible evidence can be dismissed without evidence. Your world view is completely devoid of anything useful to a logical and reasoning mind. Anything that some might consider useful in it is more freely garnered from other sources.

          It’s not about emotion, it’s about evidence. You have yet to show any credible evidence.

          • [MAL]”i wrote the post on Big Splash not because that is what I believe, but that I could find a way to explain the facts as we know them without the need for a god to explain them. I never said there was evidence for the Big Splash. It was a thought exercise which disagrees with William Lane Craig’s presuppositions in his Kalam Cosmological Argument. Not everything that begins to exist has a causal agent. Some things just are and our existence very well might ‘just be’ and be without cause.”

            Sorry for being gone so long. I trust you survived without me?

            There are two interesting comments in this paragraph of yours, MAL. They are telling comments.

            One is “…a way to explain the facts as we know them without the need for a god…” Why is this needed? Because you deny the existence of God (or gods), obviously. So why do you deny the existence of God? Before you give me the stock ‘no evidence’ answer, why would you bother – in the face of no evidence – to so stoutly deny something? I certainly don’t bother with disproving the ‘flying spaghetti monster’ or ‘Bob the god of cookies’ (one of my favorites); I see no point. But you are driven to disprove the God of the Bible.

            I find it interesting this has been tried before, I’m sure you are aware. Sir Fred Hoyle’s “Steady State” theory of the Universe was the first major attempt (at least of which I am aware) and “M” theory is the current one. The Bug Splash theory you outline is very similar to “M” theory, but I’m starting to repeat myself.

            I want you to understand something I’ve let get mislaid. I am not trying to win an intellectual argument. I am most concerned with getting you to look at what you think and say and re-evaluate your motivation. You do NOT have to answer to me for anything. I am not your judge. Nor am I your daddy taking you to task for anything. But you do have to be honest with yourself. And I am constrained by the love of that God you deny to present His love to you. (And I’m not holding my breath that you will post a total surrender to that instantly. In fact, it matters not if you ever tell me or not.)

            The second comment is “Not everything that begins to exist has a causal agent. Some things just are …”

            That is heresy to modern scientific thought, you know. However, I do agree with you, not everything that exists has a causal agent. I refer to God, Whom you deny and with Whom I communicate on a continual basis.

            I am going to write an essay on an alien civilization I would recognize as “Christian”, for lack of a better term. Of course, they may not use the same words, but would have the same concepts. However, I’ll post it on the “Scornful” blog site. Writing in a reply is too confining.

            My very best to you, MAL.

            • The big splash theory was a thought experiment borne of repose after hearing WLC’s KCA. Among the many things he gets wrong in his famous argument is that everything that begins to exist must have a causal agent. He also notes one exception to this according to his belief – a god which he conveniently and without reason to do so claims is the god of Abraham. If the big splash theory examples at least one way in which something can begin to exist without a causal agent then it follows that it is not the only way, hence it is not a logically true statement that WLC makes. His argument is unsound.

              If there was no believers trying to ensure that other people are oppressed (GLBTQ and others, women, those with need of condoms, those who wish an abortion and on and on) and teaching fairy tales instead of science, to name but a few reasons, I rather doubt that any atheist would be vocally opposing the church (as a collective group) or providing evidence that gods do not and cannot exist.

              Being honest with myself is exactly how I got to where I am. When I see the world around, all the problems and pain, I see that the only actually successful remedies have come from science and humans – not from religions. This is a start, from there we find huge lists of other indicators that religions, far from alleviating problems and pain, are actually the source of much of the pain and suffering not associated with natural disasters. I had to be honest with myself because I started out as a firm believer. I initially denied the idea that religion causes harm, I thought it had to be something else. It was when I went looking for it that I got honest. Now here I am. Anyone who wishes to disabuse me of my understanding of religions has a long road ahead of them and a lot of explaining to do. Remember, I’m not going to simply accept what I’m told as fact.

              • J_Agathokles
              • October 17th, 2012

              Oh, so annoying is the need of Abrahamics to proselytise and “make people see their point of view” (except for the Jews). This is getting boring and repetitive.

              • I was thinking of that very thing only moments before opening my email to see your comment. Despite the many resources on the Internet for theists to get an understanding of the arguments against their position the continue on with the same arguments… over and over. The arguments and assertions that get to me lately are the ones that I’m mad at god, or something happened to turn me away from god. Well, the later is somewhat true in that knowledge, logic, and reason turned me away. These assertions that require one to presuppose that gods can exist, that the god of the one making the assertion is the only true extant god, and finally that I am immoral (or sinning) in some way because I am not submissive to the will of their god which they are more than happy to explain his will to me while also claiming to not know the mind of their god.

                RTFM already is what I’m thinking. There must be a better way to approach this.

  8. J_Agathokles :
    Yes I am aware of that. But true during the 6-7-8th centuries the different dialects of vulgar Latin started divulging so much that that speakers from one region had difficulty understanding people from another region. And thus the Romance language family was born. So the Bible only became accessible for clerics and scholars, who still learned Latin. This suited the Church to further impose and maintain it’s monopoly on spiritual affairs.

    When you use the word ‘Church’ – with capital – you are referring to the Roman Catholic Church, correct?

    Or do you include the various groups who were not in accord with the official doctrines of the RCC? Groups who would later become identified as ‘Protestant’ and reviled as heretics?

    You have some facts to defend your position if you follow the former rather than the latter. Of course, then you may not lump all of Christendom as one vast entity; let alone speak of ‘religionists’ as a single entity. During the ‘Dark Ages’, the ability to read any written language was limited. Not by the Church, or by Christendom, but by the political powers who felt keeping peasants ignorant made them easier to control.

    One should note the western idea of ‘schools’ originated in Christianity. The idea was believers should be able to read the Bible to be better Christians. Of course, Jews had such a programme to teach Hebrew to young Jews long before Europe was ‘civilized’.

    In the early times of Christianity, your allegation of keeping the Bible from the masses is false. In modern times, you would be wrong again. The RCC as well as Protestants have translated the Bible into modern English as well as most all the other languages extant. So there is no attempt to keep the ‘masses’ from reading the Bible on their own.

    Until some time after Gutenberg, books were very rare and thereby expensive. They were carefully guarded for these reasons. So the fact that not every member of a congregation – RCC or Protestant – speaks more to economy than to suppression.

    So: Is your rage against God based on your anger at the Roman Catholic Church? Not uncommon.

      • J_Agathokles
      • October 11th, 2012

      “When you use the word ‘Church’ – with capital – you are referring to the Roman Catholic Church, correct?”

      During the the middle ages there was only one official Church and a bunch of variants considered herecies. Then the East and West split occured, and later still the Protestants came along. But I was mainly talking about the Roman Catholic Church yes. It doesn’t really go for the Byzantine Church as people there still spoke Greek up until now.

      And I do know about the Protestants’ translations. That’s part of what makes them protestants, protesting against the Church’s monopoly – as well as the theological differences off course.

      And actually the idea of schools goes back to the Hellenes and even before that, up until the Sumerian civilisation, the first civilisation on Earth.

      I also never make the mistake of lumping all religionists together. i actually remind My Atheist Life of that every once in a while. Because I am Hellenic polytheist and would absolutely NEVER lump Christianity and Hellenismos, together, or suffer them being lumped together.

      I don’t feel a rage against a minor God, the patron of what used to be a collection of insignificant desert tribes in the southern Levant. Let alone that I’d have gotten that because of teh Catholic Church specifically. The genocidal nature of Christianity as a whole throughout history and even to this day is more than enough to do that, plus the obvious theological flaws and issues that plague Christianity.

  9. Great question. I think it will challenge many people’s beliefs about the universe, possibly in some good ways and bad ways. From a Christian POV, the Bible doesn’t explicitly say that there is or isn’t life on another planets – it seems to be more concerned with what happens on this planet because of the uniqueness of humans. No other species on the planet is bothered with this question right? 🙂

    • The Genesis story of creation seems to write the possibility of extraterrestrial life out of the picture. All that universe was simply created for humanity’s little planet.

      Sure, maybe the author simply left that part out or maybe god didn’t tell him/them. The support in the holy texts for the heliocentric model kind of eliminates thought that there might be others out there on a planet around one of the chinks in the firmament.

      While we have come a long way and religions have adapted to scientific evidence of how the universe works, finding other species of life should be a game changer. If humans are so important as to be the center of the universe, why weren’t we told that there are other life forms? Come to think of it, why weren’t we told about microbes?

  10. “The Genesis story of creation seems to write the possibility of extraterrestrial life out of the picture.”

    I think that’s an argument from silence, since it isn’t directly addressed anywhere in the Bible that I know of. If there are other life forms, their existence depends on the physical laws, chemistry, structure present in the universe- a universe which cannot bring itself into existence (but seems to have begun to exist at some point).

    “All that universe was simply created for humanity’s little planet.”

    The universe as a home for humans is one of the purposes of the creation, and humans are certainly an important part of it. One of the main messages of the Bible is God’s affection for his creation, despite all we do to mess things up by destroying the environment and the way we act towards each other.

    “If humans are so important as to be the center of the universe, why weren’t we told that there are other life forms?”

    Great question… I would LOVE to know if there are other things out there.

    As for why we aren’t told, that’s harder to answer. I think primarily it would come back to the intention of the various holy texts – there main purpose is not to reveal scientific knowledge. As for the Bible it is a grand narrative centered around the person and work of Jesus Christ – that is the key focal point as reflected by these 26 prominent teachersin these one-sentence summaries: http://dogmadoxa.blogspot.com.au/2011/01/whats-message-of-bible-in-one-sentence.html

    Another reason might be that we don’t need to know in order to get along on the Earth and so we weren’t told. Another one might be that the consistent teaching of the Bible is that God is behind all that is, regardless of geographical location in the universe. Another reason might be that humans have a capacity to explore the universe, to rationally understand it and describe it using laws and mathematics…Perhaps God wants us to discover and appreciate what is, and may even want us to find other life on another planets.

    As for microbes – that would have been a big help. I agree. On the other hand, how would this have worked back then- how would these have been seen – God says there are microbes but the people back then don’t have the technology to view them. ( I think i’ll get to this on your other post)

    I wonder what difference it would make to us today if it was revealed millenia ago and we had been living in light of it. I think a discovery now would be much more signficant given the current prevailing Western scientific/materialistic paradigm, but still that life would still depend on the existence of the universe, and laws which enable life to exist and reproduce. Regardless of one’s worldview, it will be a reminder that we are not the centre of the universe.

    • It will definitely tell us that we are not the center of the universe, but we already know that, physically. The center of the universe is a pretty nasty place, as is much of the universe with regard to human life. Even if they did not know what to do with the thought of microbes 2000+ years ago, knowing that it was known back then, revealed by a god would make a huge difference now. It would have been much nicer to at least tell people to wash their hands! I was taught math that says 39 is more than 27 so I am confused at how you find the bible centered around the Jesus story. Paul pretty much hogged the NT for himself, not so much about Jesus but what Paul thought people should know about Jesus.

      I would like to note that “teachings” do not equate to ‘truth’ unless they coincidentally happen to be truth and teachings. One does not imply the other, even in the holy texts. The Koran has teachings in it too, so simply having a book which is considered sacred means little except to those that happen to have blind faith in the contents of it.

      I can give you an example of something I didn’t need to know: that the most powerful being in the known universe (though he is not in it) used bears to shred 42 youths for teasing an old man about his baldness. That old man said a curse on them and god complied with this witchcraft to have the youths ripped apart. This is no different than some warlock calling on a demon to do evil to someone. Fear god and submit to him or die. Nice lesson from the most powerful being ever invented. Microbes and alien species, that would be good to know. That god works like magic.. not so much.

      Apparently the Christian god (war god YHWH) has a plan for me, and knew of it in every detail before I was even born. I was often told this. So, what was his plan when he turned me into an atheist? He knew it was going to happen and did nothing to prevent it (as if he could prevent the future from happening or change it – but that is a whole other discussion that includes Hitler etc.) So what was the plan? He also knew we’d be asking about aliens… why not tell us? Remember he’s the most powerful and intelligent being ever invented so he could have left the message in a way that would not have messed things up, though on reflection, three Abrahamic faiths is difficult to view as not a fuckup. Too many twists and turns here….

  11. MAL: “If there was no believers trying to ensure that other people are oppressed (GLBTQ and others, women, those with need of condoms, those who wish an abortion and on and on) and teaching fairy tales instead of science, to name but a few reasons, I rather doubt that any atheist would be vocally opposing the church (as a collective group) or providing evidence that gods do not and cannot exist.”

    First, this is a very illogical premise, based on ‘fairy tales’. Your statement claims ‘believers’ are ‘oppressing’ several groups of people with the common characteristic of engaging in sexual impropriety. Further, your statement implies the ‘believers’ are ‘oppressing’ those groups because Christianity ‘demands’ this ‘oppression’.

    This is a falsehood based on some real truth. Christianity does in fact condemn sexual impropriety. Sexual activity apart from marriage is condemned in no uncertain terms. But it doesn’t stop there. For instance, in Matthew 15:19, Jesus (not Paul, please note) says “For out of the heart come evil ideas, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” So, right along with sexual impropriety is theft, lying, and gossip (slander).

    Can you cite any ‘oppression’ of thieves to which you object? How about liars or busybodies? Any of them ‘oppressed’? I find this curious, as I know of several programs – sponsored by Christian organization and Christians – which minister to and assist various groups overcome by specific ‘sins’ – theft, drug and alcohol abuse, sexual impurity in a myriad of variations and so forth. Do you claim Christian attempts to help people escape their sin as ‘oppression’?

    For that matter, what specifically do you cite as ‘oppression’ of anyone on your list? I really want to hear a specific instance of ‘oppression’ regarding ‘denial of condoms’, for instance.

    MAL: “When I see the world around, all the problems and pain, I see that the only actually successful remedies have come from science and humans – not from religions. This is a start, from there we find huge lists of other indicators that religions, far from alleviating problems and pain, are actually the source of much of the pain and suffering not associated with natural disasters.”

    Really? So tell me, just exactly what ‘problems and pain’ stem from Christianity? What evils has Christianity spawned to bedevil humanity? Give me just two (2). Don’t bother giving me proof, just cite two instances of ‘problems and pain’.

    Solutions? No ‘remedies’ for ‘problems and pain’ from Christianity? That’s outright ignorant – not being aware of – the realities. I have personally been instrumental in comforting a number of people’s personal pain because of my Christianity, not in spite of it.

    At least, you have answered one question I posed. I asked the difference between your blind faith in ‘Big Splash’ or ‘M-theory’ (seriously similar, I repeat) which proposes a ‘background’ to reality which has always existed and has no causal agent, rather than a blind faith in the existence of the Creator God who has always existed and has no causal agent.

    Your answer is the Creator God poses demands of moral conduct, while the ‘quanta ocean’ does not.

      • J_Agathokles
      • October 20th, 2012

      “Really? So tell me, just exactly what ‘problems and pain’ stem from Christianity? What evils has Christianity spawned to bedevil humanity? Give me just two (2). Don’t bother giving me proof, just cite two instances of ‘problems and pain’.”

      About 1600 years of religious wars, persecutions, and genocide. For a start. Not only against non-Christians even, but against Christians of other denominations as well. Just ask about every native people of the America’s. Just look at religiously supported black slave trade from Africa. Or at the current situation in South- and East-Asia (though I grant the Muslims are a bigger problem for the moment in India).

      Furthermore it’s dismissal of washing yourself regularly as being something “vane”, stimulating all kinds of diseases to be spread.

      The popes opposition to the use of condoms, stemming from the ridiculous moral that sex should only happen between husband ad wife – which is just so dissociated from reality it is simply unimaginable. And thus also they propagate the spread of STD’s.

      That’s three “problems and pains” for you. And this is probably only scratching the surface.

      • J_Agathokles
      • October 20th, 2012

      “Your statement claims ‘believers’ are ‘oppressing’ several groups of people with the common characteristic of engaging in sexual impropriety. Further, your statement implies the ‘believers’ are ‘oppressing’ those groups because Christianity ‘demands’ this ‘oppression’.”

      Christians should just keep their noses out of other peoples bedrooms. Or sofa’s. Or kitchen tables. Or wherever the fuck they want to have sex with eachother. It’s none of Christians’ business who other people are fucking with, and how exactly they stimulate their pubic nerves.

  12. Well, Agathokles, we do see your point, don’t we?

    Since your chief interest – or obsession, perhaps – is sexual self-gratification, you object to having the impropriety of such a lifestyle mentioned.

    Very logical. When your winkie calls, it must be obeyed!

    By the way, ‘vane’ is one of those things that sit on a roof and point the wind direction; or a tab, usually metal directing air flow in a vent or engine. ‘Vein’ is those tube sort of things that carry blood back to the heart (cf. artery). ‘Vain’ is the narcissistic self-interest emphasizing personal attractiveness or gratification; also something done without result.

    Now, show me where washing is forbidden in the Bible. If one of the Popes said it, he can speak on his own; show me the source in the Bible.

    A study of history dismisses the bulk of your charges. The natives of the Americas were in fact treated badly, but by government sponsored ‘conquerors’ who were not motivated by religion other than the atheist religion of gold and wealth.

    Wars? You mean like the Crusades? The conflict that began with Islamic raids on Christian pilgrim caravans visiting Jerusalem? If you object to that long, drawn out period of conflict, take it up with Islam, not Christianity.

    You do have a point about inter denominational conflicts. All of which were caused by Christians ignoring Christianity and making up their own rules. Just like you champion.

    Stay out of other people’s bedrooms? Not a problem. Well, at least until you come to us and want us to clean up the mess you made by ‘doing your own thing’. If you can’t pay for your own condoms, you should get a job prior to having sex. And then, be responsible for the children you beget and don’t expect me to support you and them.

    Just for the record, STDs are spread by indiscriminate sexual contact; i.e., doing anyone or anything that will stop long enough to be done.

      • J_Agathokles
      • October 21st, 2012

      My point was that it is not for you or anyone else to judge other people because they have a high libido or not. What does it matter to you how other people lead their lives. You may think it improper all you want, you have no right at all to judge other’s for this. Interesting how you think I’m talking about myself here, that probably says more about you then about me.

      I sought the meaning of the word “vain”. You’ll have to excuse the typo, English is not my native language and while I do control it very well, sometimes something just slips through the mazes of the net.

      The injunction against washing regularly was widespread in early Christianity and even into the 19th century for most people. In the early centuries of Christianity people even spoke of the “smell of holiness” by which was ment that “holy” people (usually recluses far away in the desert or something) smelt horrible on the few occasions they entered villages.

      Other then the reasons for the crusades actually having nothing to do with Muslim raids on pilgrims, but with the pope trying to unify the Western European noblemen against a common enemy rather than having them continually squabble and war amongst themselves, there were much more wars. The persecutions against the polytheists who refused to abandon their Gods all across the Imperium Romanum. The destructions of Temples and holy places, then usurping these by buyilding monasteries or churches on top of them. The genocide and ethnocide against the Saxons waged by Charlemagne, and so on. The violent Church-supported invasion and colonisation of the America’s – the Church was all to eager to get it’s portion of the gold and silver, as well as “save those Indians’ souls”.

      “Just for the record, STDs are spread by indiscriminate sexual contact; i.e., doing anyone or anything that will stop long enough to be done.”

      That is just a resentful comment. What about the wife who gets infected because her husband/wife has been philandering? Was she being indiscriminately having sexual contact and thus get her STD? Or the husband if he is infected by a cheating wife/husband? Or a rape victim who is infected by the rapist? Your comment betrays your short-sightedness on the issue.

      And again, so what if someone likes having my sexual partners in one-night stands or something like that (outside of marriage)? Sex is a very natural thing that is to and should be enjoyed, preferably safely, which is why people would have access to free condoms. People are sexual beings, like all other beings that reproduce through meiosis. And there’s always gonna be lots of sex, and that’s a good thing. Saying that “If you can’t pay for your own condoms, you should get a job prior to having sex.” is being completely out of touch with reality. We may be humans gifted with reason, but at the same time we are also just another kind of animals with all the biological instincts and needs that come with it.

    • @OldManMontgomery, I can’t remember a comment you’ve made that wasn’t accusatory, confrontational, insulting, and downright devoid of a point. What is your purpose here? To argue?

      Whether it frowns on washing in the bible or not, it damn sure does not make it plain that you should. What your holy book does not say is telling.

      You said : A study of history dismisses the bulk of your charges. The natives of the Americas were in fact treated badly, but by government sponsored ‘conquerors’ who were not motivated by religion other than the atheist religion of gold and wealth.

      Got sources on that? I bet you’ll find that this is not only church sponsored but supported in great heaps by general god fearing slave owners that don’t like uppity natives that think they own the land. Going to church and professing to be Christian does not cleanse you of love of money or power. In fact, this has been one of the basic problems with religion from its very inception.

      You said : You do have a point about inter denominational conflicts.
      This is the very reason that Jefferson wrote to the Danbury baptists and ensured them there is a wall of separation between church and state.

      Your understanding of the Crusades is crude, at best. The Church sponsored pretty much all of it, and the French King in collusion with the Church did the Christian thing to do for all those who were really good at the Crusades – arrest and torture them. Nicely done and it can be said that Christendom did not stop there. You can claim all you want that people who did such things were not ‘True Christians’ but they did claim divine right and had such exemplary stories in the ‘good book’ to guide them on genocide, slavery, rape, and any other general kind of mayhem they might want to achieve.

      You said: Stay out of other people’s bedrooms? Not a problem. Well, at least until you come to us and want us to clean up the mess you made by ‘doing your own thing’. If you can’t pay for your own condoms, you should get a job prior to having sex. And then, be responsible for the children you beget and don’t expect me to support you and them.

      The comment about paying for condoms is completely uncalled for and insulting. You who enjoy tax free status for the religious affairs of your church are petty and ignorant to accuse someone else of taking your money via government health care. You will explain yourself and make a good accounting of yourself on this point or be banned. End of story.

      That explanation and accounting is all I want to hear. Anything else mixed in, any insults… no more commenting here.

  13. Yes, I see. You won’t come back to where you cannot control the discussion, you cannot answer any of my questions and now you’re going to take umbrage and ‘ban’ me?

    I accept your surrender.

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