Posted by: Jim | June 6, 2008

Compassionate Realism

A friend recently challenged me to package my atheistic views in a way that is more digestible. To wit, Todd has also pointed out that I tend to get rather intransigent when expressing these views. I cannot argue.

 

I’m aware that my religious history has created a reservoir of bitterness that may, now and then, leak into my otherwise perfectly rational approach to life. 😉  But I’ve known that down deep, the impetus behind my passion does not stem from anger, but it stems from my fundamental belief that a scientific approach is a more compassionate one.

 

There are entire books to read that would help you understand where I’m coming from. “The Varieties of Scientific Experience” by Carl Sagan is one. But today I read a single paragraph from a commencement speech delivered by the editor of “Skeptic” magazine, Dr. Michael Shermer that does a good job of it:

 

“Whether or not there is an afterlife, however, we must live as if this is all there is. How meaningful become our lives, our families, our friends, our communities—and how we treat others—when every day, every moment, every relationship, and every person counts; not as props in a temporary staging before an eternal tomorrow where ultimate purpose will be revealed to us, but as valued essences in the here-and-now where provisional purpose is created by us. “

That paragraph almost brings tears to my eyes. In fact the entire speech does a good job of describing my entire world view. The reason I get so adamant about my belief that religion is a destructive force in our society is explained in that paragraph. Religion devalues our life, by denying the fact that our humanity is the ultimate goal. Religion assumes some non-real goal is more important. And even if those religions hadn’t been used as manipulative tools in the hands of greedy people, they still opiated its followers into making less-than compassionate choices about humanity.

 

I see it every day, examples abound all around us, constantly.

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Responses

  1. Todd = Pot
    Jim = Kettle
    Status: Black

  2. This paragraph almost brings tears to my eyes too.Its touch my mind.

  3. Seriously, Chuck, get a life and stop all the hating. It’s not even amusing anymore. I wish you could see past all of your hatred to discover just how silly your words are.

  4. Yeah, Chuck, quit being such a hater. You should be more like Todd. He’s a lover. He loves the President and the Baby Jesus and Billy-Bob O’Reilly and simulated woodgrain and Moons Over My Hammy. Todd loves. So quit pointing out when he’s being a hypocrite because that’s so…hateful.

    * * *

  5. Toad, Toad, Toad… I’m not trying to be “amusing,” and I’m not hating. I’m simply pointing out the facts as I see them. In this case, it was that you must have huge, clanging, brass balls to ascribe your signature characteristics to someone else in a critical manner.

    I wish you could see past your ignorance to discover how silly your views are.

  6. Wait a sec…see past his ignorance? Isn’t that a bit of a paradox? Like the time travel thing, where ya go back and kill your grandpa and all that?

    I dunno, man. Seems risky to me.

    * * *

  7. Here is a scientific approach:

    Proofs of God offered by Saint Thomas Aquinas:

    1. Nothing can move itself so therefore the universe which is in motion must have had an original mover, God. All material things make up the whole universe. Part of it can’t move all of it. The whole universe needs a mover outside of it, something more than the universe, something supernatural.
    2. Nothing can make itself exist if it is not already there. Nothing can cause itself so you need a first cause of existence, God. The creator has to have no beginning, to be uncaused, eternal, outside of time and space. If there’s no God, the universe always was. But science itself says the universe came into being 15 billion years ago, so therefore there must have been a creator.
    3. From observation it can be determined that everything dies or ceases to exist. If there were not a God who never died nor ceased to exist then eventually everything would die and nothing could begin again. If the universe had no birthday, then there’s been an infinity of time already, enough time for everything that could possibly happen to happen. Including the possibility of universal death, universal destruction. So then how come we’re still here?
    4. In the universe some things are better than others, right? So there must be a best, a standard of goodness to judge all the relative “betters”. One thing is closer to it than another. And this standard has to be absolute goodness. That’s God.
    5. Design proves a designer. And nature is full of design. Therefore there must be a Designer behind it all. If you were flying in an airplane and the public address system announced that the plane was being flown by a computer that had been programmed by a football player in spiked shoes walking over computer cards, (in otherwords by chance) would you trust the airplane to land you safely? Then why do you trust your brain and nervous system. Why trust the system? It’s like a very complex computer. If it’s been brain programmed only by chance, by blind nature, and not by God, not by any Designer, why trust it when it does science, and when it tells you about nature? Or about itself? If you can’t trust the programmer of the human brain, then you can’t trust the brain when it tells you about the brain!

    Excerpts from http://catholiceducation.org/articles/apologetics/ap0060.html

  8. 1. Except God?
    2. Except God?
    3. Except God?
    4. Better? By whose standards? This is a silly argument, and any superlative adjective can therefore be attributed to God. Most evil, fattest, skinniest, reddest, blackest, whitest, stupidest.
    5. Who designed God?

    These are 800-year old arguments, and they work less now than they did 800 years ago.

    All these attributes that you believe can only be conferred to God can be conferred to the Universe: it has always been here, it was not created, it did not make itself, it moved itself, etc.


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