13 February 2012

A message to theists


Dear theists,

Do you believe
  • that every single person, regardless of gender, skin colour, race, culture, sexual orientation, income, position, or any other superficial characteristic, should be treated equally under the law?
  • that truth must be based on evidence and not superstition or power or money?
  • that wealth should be measured by the good you do and not by the goods you have?
  • that you should earn in measure to what you actually do and the merits of that work towards the well-being of others as well as yourself?
  • that value means more than cost or price?
  • that no one should go hungry?
  • that health care should be equally available to everyone who needs it?
  • that diversity should be universally celebrated but also tempered by the lessons of the past?
  • that war should be universally recognized as an unacceptable solution under all circumstances?
  • that education should be always free?
  • that our actions should be based on understanding that the earth and humanity are not two different things?
Well, good!  Most atheists believe in exactly the same things!

Of course, not all of you theists will agree.  Some theists are also psychopaths or sociopaths (e.g. Anders Breivik).  Other theists are terrorists (e.g. the Taliban).  Still others are just frickin' nuts (e.g. Santorum, Bachmann, Perry,…).  Still others are malevolent, deluded bigots (e.g. Westboro Baptist Church).  And others are spineless cowards who refuse to stand up for what they themselves believe is right (e.g. the Vatican's silence while Catholics in Africa cause tremendous suffering and death by preventing birth control, allowing people to be burned alive as witches,…).

These malevolent and sickening theists are, however, relatively rare.  They're loud and sometimes very powerful, true; but in numbers they are thankfully few.  Most theists are good, kind, and honourable people.

Similarly, there are some atheists that are useless bags of skin.  They're not really known as such, and they're generally harder to find, but they're out there.  Here's one list of a few evil atheists.  I'm sure there are others.

Thankfully, as with theists, most atheists are good, kind, and honourable people.

It strikes me, considering all this, that the conflict between theist and atheist isn't really one of religion or of god.  It's one of well-being versus suffering.  Among both theist and atheist populations, there are those who would live at the expense of others, who use their belief systems as drivers for intolerable acts of cruelty, pain, and death.  But also among both theist and atheist populations, there are those who care, who work to make the world a better place for everyone, and who understand the tremendous benefits that we all gain from working toward general well-being.

I think the real battle - no matter what the politicians, pundits, and media sensationalists would have you believe - is not between theist and atheist, but between those who wish for a good life for everyone, and those who don't.

If you prefer, it's between good and evil.

So here's my advice: for now, let's understand that any theist can be good or bad - and that any atheist can be good or bad.  We good people need to get together, to set aside differences of faith and religion, and stand together against those that will cause suffering on this earth.  Let's make this earth as good a place as we can, full of people who are, for the most part, happy, healthy, and as fulfilled as we can let them be.

And when we have that world at hand, we can all sit and have a nice cup of tea, and discuss in calm, inoffensive, and rational tones, whether god exists.


Postscript: Those of you who fear I may be losing my anti-theist edge can relax.  I'm still completely convinced the whole notion of god is obsolete.  But I also think that arguing about god isn't going to get us anywhere till we overcome the common areas of concern among both theists and atheists, which all have to do with well-being in this life.

7 comments:

  1. Amen to that. A well written rant, Professor Salustri. While I'm not aware of the details of the evil theists and atheists (thank Dog) I take your point and agree with you.

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  2. The problem with atheism is that without a creator there can be no meaning and therefore order in the universe. Relationship is what gives something meaning, and in a world driven by random chaos, relationships cannot exist. There must be a creator with a plan, otherwise the universe is pointless.

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    1. There's nothing but bald assertions here.

      First, say, hypothetically, that there was a creator but we humans never imagined it - that is, that humanity had no idea at all that there was a creator. That would amount to exactly the same thing: we would have no meaning and we would see no order in the universe.

      Second, you assume that (a) a creator is required and (b) we must know it, for humans to have any meaning. I assume you mean "purpose" here. There is no evidence for purpose. None. We make our own purpose. Purpose provides emotional and psychological safety, which is a form of well-being. It doesn't matter where the purpose comes from. Atheists live well-balanced lives that, to them, are full of meaning. Yet they do it without any dependence on a creator.

      Third, order in the universe is the subject of science. No creator is required in science.

      Fourth, the universe is not "random chaos." This is clearly demonstrated by models that require no creator yet show a very clear structure to the universe.

      Fifth, what is wrong with saying that the universe is pointless? It seems rather clear that it is you, and not the universe, that requires purpose.

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  3. You have not refuted my argument. An indifferent creator is possible but also
    provides no meaning to human existence. Order is indeed the subject of science,
    and the fact that we can study the universe proves the existence of an ordered
    universe to some degree. My point is that without a creator there can only be
    randomness. Sure if you put a bunch of monkeys in a room with a bunch of
    typewriters they will eventually produce the works of Shakespeare or the bible
    or whatever, but only once in a gazillion years. And that output will be just
    as meaningless as the rest of the garbage produced. I am not arguing for any
    particular creation theory (yet), but I dont think you can argue for a
    meaningful existence without a creator. Without being part of a plan, we have
    no meaning. What's wrong with a pointless existence? Here's what I wrote in my
    book, "Maitreya and His Brothers"

    Everything in this book presupposes a Benevolent Higher Intelligence Who is
    responsible for all that exists. I cannot prove that God exists, but I find it
    impossible to look up in the sky and see the billions of galaxies and the
    gazillions of stars and truly believe that our universe is just a product of
    random chaos. There must be some sort of Huge Intelligence out there Who is
    “Big-Banging” for a reason. Otherwise our batteries will just wear out one day
    and we will cease to exist. Our life will have been brief and pointless. The sun
    will continue to rise and set in the God-less heavens, and more batteries will
    run out, and more babies will pop out of nowhere until their batteries run out.
    The meaningless universe will go on forever, or until whatever Big-Banged stops
    expanding and condenses back into itself. And then Big-Bangs again. Who wants to
    live in a God-less universe? Not me! Why subject ourselves to the pain and
    adversity which is part and parcel of the human condition – no matter what
    income bracket you are in – if there is nothing to gain?

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    Replies
    1. Yawn.

      You wrote:
      "My point is that without a creator there can only be randomness."

      Prove it. You make the claim; you justify it.

      You wrote:
      "Without being part of a plan, we have no meaning."

      Bullshit. I'm not part of any plan, and I've got all kinds of meaning which I made for myself.

      You wrote:
      "I find it impossible to look up in the sky and see the billions of galaxies and the gazillions of stars and truly believe that our universe is just a product of random chaos."

      That's your shortcoming, not mine.

      You wrote:
      "There must be some sort of Huge Intelligence out there Who is “Big-Banging” for a reason."

      Why?

      You wrote:
      "Otherwise our batteries will just wear out one day and we will cease to exist."

      That's it exactly. So what?

      You wrote:
      "Our life will have been brief and pointless."

      Ah. I see now. You're a sad, insecure little prat who can't imagine growing up and having to live your own life. You want the security of knowing that some parental figure is behind it all because you're a weepy little momma's boy.

      There's a lot of that going around.

      In the end, you're pathetic whimpers for someone to give a shit about you are just baseless claims.

      But I'll give you this: you PROVE any of this in a rigorous, replicable, self-consistent way, and I'll be first in line to shake your hand and tell you that you were right all along.

      Until then, though, I'll just laugh.

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  4. I do not mock you. I respect your opinion. I do not agree, however, and I base my argument on logic. Based on your reply, you are content with a pointless existence. That is ok. I just think that there is a purpose, and that there is clear evidence of an evolution of form and consciousness that is manifesting. I can understand why people reject the current explanations, especially Christianity with its Heaven and Hell. These are obviously man made concoctions used to exploit the masses with fear of eternal torture. But there are other more reasonable theories which anyone who believes they have a meaningful existence should explore. I know that you will never agree. I write these words to the few who silently read and believe that there is more to life than a cold grave. Save your venomous attacks for someone else. This will be my last post.

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    Replies
    1. You make a series of unsubstantiated assertions, provide no evidence, and then have the balls to say I'm "venenous"? On _my_ blog?

      Again: you say there _must_ be more? Why? What evidence has there ever been that there is more? None.

      That's fine. Go cry on your mommy's shoulder. My point remains: show me the evidence, change your stance, or go away. I don't care.

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