Thursday, January 11, 2007

Atheist Eschatology and the False Prophets

Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

- John Lennon

“Robert Owen - who rejected all formal religious systems - was greatly influenced by millennial ideas. He famously (or notoriously) tried to set up a planned utopia in the New World. At times, Owen took on the mantle of Messiah himself, writing of being compelled ‘to proceed onward to complete a mission’ whereby ‘the earth will gradually be made a fit abode for superior men and women, under a New Dispensation, which will make the earth a paradise and its inhabitants angels.’”

- cited in Michael Ruse, The Evolution Creation Struggle, Harvard, 2005, p.124.

"In the name of the best within you, do not sacrifice this word to those who are its worst. In the name of the values that keep you alive, do not let your vision of man be distorted by the ugly, the cowardly, the mindless in those who have never achieved his title. Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it's yours.”

- Ayn Rand as “John Galt” in Atlas Shrugged

Postmillennialism, as the name implies, holds that (1) Christ will return subsequent to the millennium, which (2) represents a period which will see growth and maturation of righteousness, peace, and prosperity for Christ’s kingdom on earth (visibly represented by the church) through the gradual conversion of the world to the gospel, as well as a period for the glory and vindication of the saints in heaven. …Finally then, (7) over the long range the world will experience a period of extraordinary righteousness and prosperity as the church triumphs in the preaching of the gospel and discipling the nations through the supernatural agency of the Holy Spirit; however, the release of Satan at the very end of the age will bring apostasy from these blessed conditions.

- Greg Bahnsen, Christian Postmillennialist

FOR THE OPTIMISTIC atheist, the future looks bright. Through the preaching of science, unbelief will cover the face of the world, “like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.” At some point in the future no more will a man tell his neighbor to unknow the Lord, for they will all unknow him, from the least to the greatest.

Man’s problem: lack of education. The preaching of the Word of the Lord will not change men, but the teaching of the Word of the Scientists will. Our future well-being is not dependant upon the substitutionary death of Christ and the regenerating work of the Spirit. “Our future well-being--the well-being of all of us on the planet--depends on the education of our descendants” (Daniel Dennett).

Through education, men will drop such ridiculous beliefs as belief in the three-in-one God of the Bible. The scientist is not alone, if Reason is for you, who can be against you? Within the one being of Reason exists three non-persons, Science, Skepticism, and Free thought. Three-non-persons in one non-personal essence.

No more will men do all things to the glory of God, they will do all things to the glory of evolutionary biology. And there’s hell to pay for exchanging the glory of the created for that of the creator. A “good man” once said that “if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” “When these children grow up, in this Age of the Gene, they will want to know why you lied to them, why you hid the glories of evolutionary biology from them” (Dennett, ibid).

In the postmillennial golden age, believers will become like interesting cultural artifacts. And if it becomes necessary, “Safety demands that religions be put in cages” (Dennett, ibid). All sins are forgivable, except for the blasphemy of the Holy Mother. Thus Dennett, “Save the Baptists! Yes, of course, but not by all means. Not if it means tolerating the deliberate misinforming of children about the natural world” (Dennett, ibid).

This is the eschatology of victory, the bright hope of evolutionary postmillennialism.

Christians also hold eschatological beliefs. Though they’re a bit more internally rational (given that they do indeed see a telos, purpose, or goal to the universe) than their atheist counterparts. Given their views, that the world is headed somewhere is not a mere accident, pace Russell: “That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms…” (Russell, A Free Man’s Worship). Ultimately, the bright future of atheist postmillennialism is brought about by an accident. At best, people drop religious beliefs because holding non-religious beliefs has survival value, not because their cognitive faculties are aimed at producing (mostly) true beliefs. Thus Rorty,

"The idea that one species of organism is, unlike all the others, oriented not just toward its own uncreated prosperity but toward Truth, is as un-Darwinian as the idea that every human being has a built-in moral compass--a conscience that swings free of both social history and individual luck." (Richard Rorty, "Untruth and Consequences," The New Republic, July 31, 1995, pp. 32-36.)

And Churchland,

"Boiled down to its essentials, a nervous system that enables the organism to succeed in...feeding, fleeing, fighting, and reproducing. The principle [sic] chore of nervous systems is to get the body parts where they should be in order that the organism may survive. Improvements in their sensorimotor control confer an evolutionary advantage: a fancier style of representing is advantageous so long as it is geared to the organism's way of life and enhances the organism's chances for survival. Truth, whatever that is, takes the hindmost." (Praticia Churchland, "Epistemology in the Age of Neuroscience," Journal of Philosophy 84 (October 1987): 548. Cited in, "C. S. Lewis's Dangerous Idea," Victor Reppert, IVP, 2002, pp. 76-77).

That Christians may be more internally rational does not mean that their beliefs are true, though. And some Christians have given reason for the mocking of Christian eschatology. Many Christians are embarrassed by the false prophets, never ceasing to predict the return of Christ. They see the “sign of the times” and then rush to such conclusions as: “See, Christ’s return is soon (where this means within our lifetime).” There also have been many predictions concerning Christ’s return. Ellen G. White is as good as any,

"I saw that the time for Jesus to be in the most Holy place was nearly finished, and that time cannot last but a very little longer. ... The sealing time is very short and soon will be over." (Experience & Views pp. 46-47)

Virtually any natural disaster brings Christians out in droves, proclaiming that Jesus’ return is weeks, months, and at most, a couple years away.

When Jerusalem became a state again in 1948, we heard claims like that of Darryl Young from Focus on Jerusalem: Prophecy Ministry,

"I believe that the 2nd coming of Jesus is very imminent. I believe that (since 1948) we are living in the terminal generation. Matthew 24:34 Verily I say unto you, This generation (generation born contemporary with Israel) shall not pass, (die out) till all these things be fulfilled."

Since the 70’s men like Hal Lindsey have claimed Jesus is coming very soon, Christians will rule for the millennium and unbelief will be stomped out. (Lindsey is not a postmillennialist, but there are some surface similarities here. Of course postmillennialism is light years ahead of premillennialism exegetically and hermeneutically, in my opinion.) Lindsey looks at the stats and declares,

"To the skeptic who says that Christ is not coming soon, I would ask him to put the book of Revelation in one hand, and the daily newspaper in the other, and then sincerely ask God to show him where we are on His prophetic time-clock." - Lindsey, There's a New World Coming

Obviously this has received much scorn from the non-religious,

"For years, end-time soothsayers have been trying to convince us that the end is near, whether in a pre-tribulational rapture, a Great Tribulation, or the Second Coming of Christ. Hal Lindsey's, The Late Great Planet Earth (1970), was not the first book on Bible prophecy to assert that we are living in the last days. For centuries, Christian writers have used the Bible to predict that the end was "near." One would think that, with all the failed predictions, Christians would wise up and begin to scrutinize the interpretive methods used by so-called prophetic experts." -Anonymous

Or, Martin Gardner, writing for the Skeptical Inquirer,

“You would think that believers in the imminence of Christ's return would be bothered by the fact that, ever since the gospels were written, huge numbers of Christians have interpreted Biblical signs of the end as applying to their generation. The sad history of these failed prophecies makes no impression on the mind-sets of today's fundamentalists. Even Billy Graham, who should know better, has for decades preached and written about the impending return of Jesus. He grants that no one knows the exact year, but all signs indicate, he believes, that the great event is almost upon us.” -The Skeptical Inquirer, Jan/Feb 2,000 edition.

Even internet atheologians take shots at these Christians. For example, amateur atheologian, Aaron Kinney, calls Christians who believe that Jesus will return in 2007, retards.

And so it should be clear that this constant proclaiming that Jesus is returning soon is cause for ridicule. But do atheist have premillennial eschatologists in their own camp? Because of the providential workings of Reason - the three impersons in one impersonal being - unbelievers have thought the establishment of Reason, upon her unholy mountain, was immanent. At least soon. At least in their lifetime, or the life time of their children. But would one also think that unbelievers should be “bothered by the fact” that the claims they’ve made, for centuries, have not come true. Should they be thrown into the same camp as the fundamentalist?

First, do they really make such claims? Remember Hal Lindsey knew unbelief would die away, belief would reign, all because Jesus was coming soon and would be enthroned in Jerusalem, ruling, because he checked the Bible with the newspaper? Looking at the world around him, he could see the shift in tide. Take Aaron Kinney again. He also employs newspaper exegesis:

“As if the night wasn't great enough being able to dance to the intense house music of Donald Glaude, I got to see an atheist with an atheistic tattoo prominently displayed on his bicep. What a cool night!

Now, there have undoubtedly been atheists in America since America was founded. But what about proudly displaying that type of affiliation on one's arm? What I mean is that this young man is doing something that he could not have done a few generations ago without severe consequences. 200 years ago, this man would have been persecuted for that kind of display, even in America. 100 years ago, this man would have been blacklisted for such a display. Even 50 years ago this man would possibly have been blacklisted, and most likely ostracized from his community.

Nowadays, you can still find yourself in a bad light for this kind of display in certain rural parts of America, but even then, not to the degree that you would have found yourself in 50 years ago. And nowadays in most parts of America you can proudly show off these kinds of tattoos without fear of persecution or too much grief from your local community.

Attitudes are most definitely changing, and they are changing for the better. I bet that 50 or 100 years ago, there were no atheists in America with atheistic tattoos. But today there are very likely more tattooed atheists than just this one guy.

The afterlife is dying, one dance party at a time.
SOURCE

Reading the newspapers is a prophetic tool used by atheist and theist alike, thus Kinney (again):

“The year 2006 was a very bad year for the Kristian Kause. Two top dogs at The New Life Church were outed as queers, numerous Catholic Churches filed for bankruptcy, Jesus Camp closed, the Offspring Murder Club had a membership explosion, Kent Hovind got thrown in jail for tax evasion (for the record I think Hovind should be released), and theistic arguments have generally weakened.

Countless other blows were dealt to religion in 2006, including the release of a number of best-selling books written by prominent atheists and scientists, and studies that show that atheism is gaining much popularity in the developed world…. From the looks of things, 2007 will be an even better year for atheists.”
SOURCE

And in the comments section of that same post, Kinney states,

“Yes, 2006 was a big year for atheists. We finally got a lobbying group in DC, many Christians and Chrristian empires fell/began their fall, etc, plus all the other stuff I mentioned.

Ann's book sold better. Fine. Even with that, I think I can pull up more examples than you can of my respective worldview making progress. In this comment section you only came up with a small few. I can bring up lots more if I dig a little deeper. The stuff I posted about was just off the top of my head.

Christianity is still in the majority in the US, but secularism and atheism in particular are gaining ground and winning battles, and the momentum is increasing, not decreasing. Thank God (LOL) for the internet.”


We find the same with amateur internet atheologian, John Loftus, who sees himself as an atheist Messiah of some sort: “I see myself as a liberator of superstitious and even dangerous delusionary thinking” (SOURCE) , and his followers at Debunking Christianity. Thus Daniel Morgan who posts excerpts from two articles from the National Secular Society. Why? Because “they filled me with hope for our future this morning,”

“Less than half Australia’s young people say they believe in a god, and many believe there is little truth in religion, a new study has found. The three-year national study, a joint project between Monash University, the Australian Catholic University and the Christian Research Association, found many young people live an entirely secular life.”

And,

“A poll of 1,450 young people in Spain shows that most believe that religion is of little importance and has no place in schools. The survey of people aged 15 to 29 shows that attitudes have changed radically since the era of the dictator Franco. Then, homosexuality was banned. Now gay marriage is legal, with 80 percent of those who were asked agreeing with the change in the law.” SOURCE

But forget about contemporary amateur atheologians and contemporary skeptical newspapers, what about atheists through history? Is there something of the same thing we see coming from the Christians who claim Jesus is about to return? Can we find such predictive prophecy in the atheists of days-gone-by?


Voltaire is reputed to have proclaimed about the Bible, "In 100 years this book will be forgotten and eliminated..." Though this claim as not been substantiated, we can find substantiated claims as well:

"As an unbeliever, I ask leave to plead that humanity has been a real gainer from skepticism, and that the gradual and growing rejection of Christianity - like the rejection of faiths which preceded it - has in fact , added, and will add, to man’s happiness and well being." Charles Bradlaugh, Humanity’s Gain From Unbelief, 1889, cited in S.T. Joshi, Atheism: A Reader, p. 171, 2000.

As the good news of Science is preached from the lecterns, belief will fade away,

“To those who believe in the Uniformity of Nature, religion is impossible. - Robert G. Ingersoll, What Is Religion, 1899, cited in S.T. Joshi, Atheism: A Reader, p.86, 2000

And so Bertrand Russell likewise claimed, “Religion is something left over from the infancy of our intelligence; it will fade away as we adopt reason and science as our guidelines.”

Indeed, we’re living in the last days (though we’ve been living in the last days for hundreds of years, apparently!):

"I do not believe that Christianity holds anything more of importance for the world. It is finished, played out. The only trouble lies in how to get rid of the body before it begins to smell too much..." - John Beevers, World Without Faith, 1935, cited in S.T. Joshi, Atheism: A Reader, 311, 2,000.

"The evolutionary future of religion is extinction. Belief in supernatural beings and in supernatural forces that affect nature without obeying nature’s laws will erode and become only an interesting historical memory. …[A]s a cultural trait, belief in supernatural powers is doomed to die out, all over the world, as a result of the increasing adequacy and diffusion of scientific knowledge … the process is inevitable." -Anthony F.C. Wallace, Religion: An Anthropological View (New York: Random House, 1966), cited in Warranted Christian Belief, Alvin Plantinga, p. 193, 2000

But modern day unbelievers continue to preach the return of Reason, that impersonal being in whom the three separate but equal non-persons, Free thought, Science, and Skepticism, reside. Thus Farrell Til,

“Information is religion's greatest enemy, and in an age when information is just a few keyboard strokes away from anyone with a computer, this is going to pose a greater threat to Christianity than anything it has yet 'survived.'"

The same claims made by their ancestors are made today,

"As humans get smarter, the old religions will fade. What will replace these religions is yet to be seen however it is reasonable to conclude that as people get smarter, that reality itself will become more prominent [sic]. One can't help but believe that smarter people will be interested in looking at the world the way it really is."- Church of Reality SOURCE

And fantastic tales of a great future life are told:

"The jig was up for religious leaders all over the world, and many decided to come clean. From Britain, the long-suppressed introduction to the King James Bible was released: "This is a booke of instructional tayles for children and the weak of minde, and not to be taken too seriously." Israeli archaeologists confessed that the Dead Sea Scrolls were a rather crude forgery which contained such glaring anachronisms as "toothpaste," "steam engine," and "Phil Silvers." And Chinese scholars admitted that the chubby smiling Buddha began life as a corporate logo for pickled eel in the third century; he was, in effect, the Bob's Big Boy of his time." SOURCE

And so like the orthodox and thoughtful theist must chastise those within his own camp, the orthodox and thoughtful atheist should clean up his own backyard before pointing out our mess. It appears as if the atheists have their own batch of “fundamentalists” to worry about. The rhetoric coming from many atheists today, e.g., Dawkins, Harris, Dennett, etc., can only serve to make atheism look more and more elitist, outlandish, and narrow-minded. These are the sorts of things the atheist community despise.

Maybe the orthodox atheists are more like Hume, who said:

"Look out for a people entirely void of religion, and if you find them at all, be assured that they are but a few degrees removed from the brutes.”

And they cannot live consistently with the unorthodox atheists, who seem to side with Darwin,

“At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races.”

The atheists must settle this for if Charles Darwin is correct, and if David Hume is correct, then atheists had better be on the look out because they may be "exterminated and replaced" because they are "savage brutes."

At present, though, if Christians have cause to be embarrassed, then so do atheists. Let’s be consistent with our eschatology. Christians can continue to proclaim that Jesus will win, and atheists can echo the eschatology of Bertrand Russell at the end of Free Man’s worship,

“Brief and powerless is Man's life; on him and all his race the slow, sure doom falls pitiless and dark. Blind to good and evil, reckless of destruction, omnipotent matter rolls on its relentless way; for Man, condemned to-day to lose his dearest, to-morrow himself to pass through the gate of darkness, it remains only to cherish, ere yet the blow falls, the lofty thoughts that ennoble his little day; disdaining the coward terrors of the slave of Fate, to worship at the shrine that his own hands have built; undismayed by the empire of chance, to preserve a mind free from the wanton tyranny that rules his outward life; proudly defiant of the irresistible forces that tolerate, for a moment, his knowledge and his condemnation, to sustain alone, a weary but unyielding Atlas, the world that his own ideals have fashioned despite the trampling march of unconscious power.”

18 comments:

  1. Paul, can you check your private messages at the internet infidels forum? Thanks!

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  2. mathetes,

    thanks for lettig me know, I hardly ever stop by there.

    I took your email and will email you...

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  3. :::SNIZZZ!!!:::

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  4. Finally consoled1/12/2007 8:03 AM

    You're right! Atheism is so depressing, I might as well invent a god and start worshipping it! The alternative is just too much to bear. Thanks, Paul!

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  5. Anyone who claims to have prescience regarding the future state of man, or the overall effect of religion upon man, would have a heavy burden of evidence to bear.

    I have long wrestled with the idea that religion is entirely bad for mankind. I am not sure that this proposition is true.

    I am sure that fundamentalist dogmatism, and especially that which conflicts with scientific knowledge, is dangerous for the progress of mankind. However, part of that very progress is the peaceful spreading of knowledge through education, and not forcing "conversions" or "deconversions" upon people, or ever erecting a state which enforces any sort of religion or irreligion. Freedom of religion is part of our progress. States like the USSR, North Korea, North Vietnam, Cambodia, etc., etc., show us the danger of [tyrannical] fascism that attempts to strip from [by force] people the freedom to express and practice religion.

    I've commented more on this at length. I have begun to consider that some sorts of religion, and some of its rituals and beliefs, may serve as a sort of "placeholder" for many people who do not have the interest or rigor to critically and seriously examine (exhaustively) philosophical arguments. At some point, the placeholder may be rightfully usurped by the person's own acquisition of beliefs -- rather than inheriting and swallowing wholesale the prepackaged orthodoxy. However, people must have beliefs about morality, and value. If they cannot be bothered to consider, as one alternative, the existential arguments concerning man's freedom to transcend and determine value, or the arguments of virtue theories of ethics, or of utilitarianism...then what will they consider? Is it possible for humans to exist in a sort of vacuum of beliefs? No.

    From whence cometh their beliefs? Parents. Schools. Experience.

    Some religions would provide a better set of beliefs than some of these 3 sources. For instance, I think that Buddhism would confer and prescribe a better way to live than a child reared in North Korea and educated (indoctrinated) by its schools and their "Great Leader". Ditto with some religious fundamentalism.

    Religions have, by time and necessity, evolved. They have dropped off the more primitive aspects (ie blood sacrifices) and adopted humanistic aspects (ie altruism and charity). Therefore, much good comes in the package. Much that intersects with rational thinking can be found in the box that is orthodox religion.

    And therefore, I have a hard time feeling the same sort of impetus to deconvert the masses that, say, Sam Harris or Dawkins do. I find myself too skeptical to paint with so wide a brush. However, I do wish that those persons who hold specific religious beliefs that I consider detrimental to progress [and to the person's own mental health] would give an ear and some credence to the arguments against those beliefs. I am frightened by anti-intellectualism, which runs rampant in some religious circles. And that is what compels me to argue against those topics that I do.

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  6. Dear Finaly Consoled,

    My post was not about atheism being so depressing.

    You might consider reading the posts before commenting, afterall, wouldn't want to let Reason down.

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  7. Daniel,

    You speak often about the "progress of mankind". I am assuming of course that you imply progression towards a somewhat absolute 'scientific' and 'moral' framework shared by all mankind resulting in a utopic existence? And what would that look like? (Or at least a favorable transient step?).

    Realistically for you ( personally), meaning of life can only be derived from your interpretation of the progression itself and the part you play/played. (Regardless of how many scientific 'facts' you have within your grasp.)


    I wonder if this is less illusionary than a Christian's quest for heaven?

    And I am sure you would say would say that a Christian's meaning is derived from a set of myths that they believe.

    I wonder sometimes if deep down we are all just searching for heaven. And if we are, why?

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  8. Paul,

    It's a pretty poor place to be in for Christians if our arguements amount to: well, secular eschatology ain't perfect either!. Indeed, it's not, but it's wise to remember something you seem to have overlooked in this post: eschatology is a completely different dynamic for the atheist than the Christian.

    If divine eschatological claims are made in the Bible -- and they are -- then wayward followers who blunder into the foolishness of imminent predictions of Christ's return necessarily carry some "embarrassment-by-association" for the rest of us Christians, simply because they are examples of people using a divine, inerrant source, and producing demonstrably false and often silly assertions and predictions based on it.

    We can account for the eccentricities of those on the fringe of any movement or school of thought, but to some degree, abuse of the Bible does reflect badly on the overall credibility of the Bible and its followers. That may not be fair, but that's how it is. I get laughed at as a fellow traveler in a faith that exalts YEC understandings in many prominent quarters, for example. Regrettable, but there it is...

    For the atheist, though, there's no binding *source* to be discredited. Manifestly, there's no *anything* to be credited or discredited on the level theists are used to thinking about this. For the atheist, it's each man/woman for him/herself.

    So, failed visions of atheistic utopia from Ayn Rand don't map at all to failed visions of Christ's return from Ellen G. White. Ayn might be fantastically wrong about the actual path of progress (or regress) that man will follow, but her error doesn't reflect on a "Bible"; it just reflects on her.

    For Christians, it's different. When someone gets up on the Christian soapbox and says things like "The earth is only 6,000 years old", or "Jesus will return when the European Union gets it 'tenth horn'", the reasonable folk in the faith rightly cringe and shake their heads. For these people are not claiming to standing solely on their own. They claim to speak from a dais of ABSOLUTE TRUTH.

    So, no doubt you can find silly predictions and visions of future in Atheismville, many that compare in spectacle and sheer folly with even the most whacked (pseudo-)Christian apocalyptic envisionings. But the "collateral damage" for the atheist in this practice is nil, beyond the proponent of the vision himself.

    For the Christian, the situation is fundamentally different. Wacky behavior discredits the Gospel, and undermines the credibility of God's message to the world. An atheist entertaining naive uptopian dreams does not in any way establish a good case for God by her folly; But Christians proceeding like fools (truly stupid fools, not the "foolishness of the Gospel", per St. Paul) do damage to the very faith itself, and to some degree diminish the truth and clarity of its message. Hal Lindsey, in other words, has far more to harm than simply his own reputation. Ayn Rand doesn't. YECs dishonor the Creator with their machinations of speed of light decay and "mature creation", etc. But the secular flat-earther? Who does he discredit? None but himself, so far as I can see.

    Christians are playing on a different playing field, and we have something to protect, and defend. Crazy, foolish behavior and attitudes are not at all symmetrical with atheist shenanigans. Atheist don't have a God or a Bible or a creed or a faith to discredit and shame. They have only themselves.

    So, if we aren't playing on a higher level -- if we are "just like" the atheist in the aspects you suggest here, we're in bad shape, indeed.

    -Touchstone

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  9. paul,

    I must say that I am a little envious of your new profile picture: posing with a "bum" is quite clever of you -- no other method to boost one's image comes close to using such a contrast.

    Perhaps I'll go for that on my next album cover.

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  10. T-stone,

    Unfortunatley you missed the point of the post. Please re-read as I don't have the time to battle back and forth with you until you get it, and then enter another debate with you critiquing the real idea of the post. Hint: I think the pre-mill, immanent return, newspaper exegetes are wrong and silly. I'm claiming *some* atheists are just as bad as the Christians (who hold wong beliefsd and make silly claims) who they ridicule.

    My eschatological views remain unscathed amongst the majority of atheist scoffing.

    Aaron N,

    I have a tux on also, that makes me even better.

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  11. You speak often about the "progress of mankind". I am assuming of course that you imply progression towards a somewhat absolute 'scientific' and 'moral' framework shared by all mankind resulting in a utopic existence? And what would that look like? (Or at least a favorable transient step?).

    I like the way Richard Taylor has illustrated aspects of Sisyphus to point out that, even if no cosmic meaning exists, or no objective measure by which to measure progress or significance, we cannot deny that value has intrinsically subjective character. I think this applies well to your question. Let us assume that when the sun expands to swallow the earth, that this is the end of mankind. Does that render the value I have for my own life nonexistent? No. It only renders it cosmically and objectively insignificant.

    I have no vision of utopia. Progress may be an end in itself.

    Realistically for you ( personally), meaning of life can only be derived from your interpretation of the progression itself and the part you play/played. (Regardless of how many scientific 'facts' you have within your grasp.)

    My meaning can be derived from whatever I find valuable -- from the happiness of my spouse to the rolling of my rock up a hill.

    I wonder if this is less illusionary than a Christian's quest for heaven?

    Perhaps not, in the ultimate sense. Perhaps we are all just shadows and dust, in the cosmic sense, striving against the unstoppable wind which scatters us abroad. But what ought we do? Find no beauty? Find no meaning? Have no values? It is impossible to do otherwise.

    And I am sure you would say would say that a Christian's meaning is derived from a set of myths that they believe.

    Some. Most of a Christian's meaning is derived from their sense of self and family, much of which is based on experience and reality. So long as the believer thinks that God is happy with them, this equates to their being a good person, and being "on the right path". This gives them the same sort of tranquility that I have in being on that same "right path" and in being "a good person". Myths are not necessarily false, as they can illustrate truths.

    I wonder sometimes if deep down we are all just searching for heaven. And if we are, why?

    Death is too much for our self-awareness to bear. Futility leads to despair. And that is why every culture throughout history invented religions and religious myths. Neandertals have even been found with the evidence of death rites and rituals at their gravesites.

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  12. "I like the way Richard Taylor has illustrated aspects of Sisyphus to point out that, even if no cosmic meaning exists, or no objective measure by which to measure progress or significance, we cannot deny that value has intrinsically subjective character. I think this applies well to your question. Let us assume that when the sun expands to swallow the earth, that this is the end of mankind. Does that render the value I have for my own life nonexistent? No. It only renders it cosmically and objectively insignificant."

    So you subjectively assign value to your life, even though there objectively is none.

    Thanks for the admission.

    Atheists choose to ignore reality and invent stories for themselves.

    But then they complain that Christians invent religion and ignore the scientific finding of "the real world."

    At any rate, since it's subjective then there's nothing objectively wrong with the child molester who subjectively assigns his life the value and purpose of "lover of children."

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  13. Paul,

    As usual, you commit a non sequitur as you leap from ones sense of self-purpose to the issues surrounding moral duties, obligations, and properties.

    I don't feel like chasing off after that red herring. I've had my say.

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  14. Boy George,

    No, I simply said that a child molester could assign the subjective value to his life that he chose to.

    You'll note that I said there was nothing objectively wrong with him assigning subjective value to his life.

    I never said that the act itself wasn't wrong, just the assignment of value, which the above commenter said in his post.

    So, as usual, you forget to even apply critical reading skills to just a few sentences a theist writes, let alone an entire book.


    But, to take it further, given the atheist that I responded to, I don't see how any "objective morals" could exist. Remember, he said,

    "no cosmic meaning exists, or no objective measure by which to measure progress or significance"

    And given this outlook, one would have a defeater for all his beliefs, including his ethical ones. So, even though I'm not guilty if the crime yoiu accuse me of, I wouldn't have been even if I did what you said.

    Now, I could go off on a tangent about how careless internet atheists seem to be these days, but I don't feel like chasing that.

    I've had my say.

    best,

    ~PM

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  15. Paul,

    Actually, she said:

    "...even if no cosmic meaning exists, or no objective measure by which to measure progress or significance..."

    Very convenient of you to have left off the boldened part.

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  16. I didn't need that part in ther Boy George because my point has to do with there actually being no cosmic value and meaning.

    My point was, *given the view* that meaning and value is subjectively assigned, then what's the problem wioth a molester assigning himself the value of "lover of children?"

    So, the "even if" did not affect my point.

    Now, if you want to say that there possibily *is* cosmic value and meaning, that is objective, well now we're back to the other problem.

    Or, if you just want to remain *agnostic* about our origens, our purpose, etc., then as I said above, you have a defeater for all your beliefs.

    glad I could help,

    ~PM

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  17. wow...Paul got PWNED by touchstone AGAIN!!! its almost too easy!

    Paul, you also got devastated over at bahnsenburner in a number of recent posts.

    Stinks to be you.

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  18. Anonymous,

    T-stone claimed my post argued that we're in the same place as secular eschatology. But of course my post claimed no such thing.

    As far as bahnsenburner, apparently you didn't read my post - the one he responded to. And so since all we're doing is asserting: he was "devastated." Stinks to be him.

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