Podcast

World Premier! Common Heathens Podcast is Live!

Well, it’s finally here. The day Mr. Oz Atheist and Godless Mom move their unending chatter from a Twitter DM window to a recorded conversation you can eavesdrop on. Episode one answers questions from:

@RamblinAgnostic
@GreenEarthGal
@KingdomOfRawk

We talk about faith, pet peeves and what we believe our own impact to be as outspoken atheists. Join us for the first ever Common Heathens podcast. Listen here:

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Thanks for listening!

  • Phil Robinson

    Seems to me that atheism begins as a personal statement of denial –hold on there is no offence attached to that– and continues as a state of negativity in that it dwells on what is not believed rather than attempting to answer the really big questions. This blog however seems to be an evolutionary step forward in that there is an attempt at least to be civil about it and to elucidate on what you do believe perhaps.

    Let me preface my questions to you by declaring that I was many years ago an atheist but I grew out of it and further that what you choose to believe is entirely your own affair as is what I believe and would fight to the death to preserve that situation.

    Having said that I’d really like to explore atheistic thinking in a generic sense by assuming with all due modesty that you are interested in a conversation about it .

    My first question is do you believe (this will seem trite but bear with me.) that evolution existed as a process before it was realised by Huxley, Wallace, Darwin et.al. and if so can we differentiate the two states ie. before realization (which we might call actuality) when we all lived in blissful ignorance of it but directly under it’s influence and after (which we might call reality) reality of course being the end product of realization and which science is beginning to tell us is largely a product of and exists in our own minds. More questions to follow if you are interested.

    In conclusion what a pleasure it is to openly converse rather than speaking in haikus on twitter.

    Regards Phil

    • “Seems to me that atheism begins as a personal statement of denial –hold on there is no offence attached to that– and continues as a state of negativity in that it dwells on what is not believed rather than attempting to answer the really big questions. ” <—- this tells me that you were not actually an atheist years ago. This is a horrendous straw man.

  • Hapless Pete

    Well done you two! An excellent kick off and I’m looking forward to the next episode already!

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  • Phil Robinson

    Fair enough another few questions then — Do you think that evolution is a basic tenet of athiesm ?
    How would you define athiesm then –if as you claim I was never one ? Are you the official arbiter of who is athiest and who is not? Are there an official set rules for athiesm to which one must comply? Straw man ? —hardly— I was merely expressing a generic personal opinion which cannot harm you in any way.
    How would you define evolution ?

    If I’ve upset you then I apologize— but please try to remember your podcast and my intentions are not malicious I assure you.
    I’m not the least bit interested in a contest of egos merely in genuine inquiry into the nature of existence.With perhaps the occasional personal observation popped in.

    If all you want from this blog is a coterie of backslappers then fine I shall depart without fanfare ( just come out and say so) if however you can stand a little honest inspection of your position then fine also. You never know we both might learn something. Always assuming that the acquisition of knowledge is a desirable aspiration.

    My opinion of atheism is that it is not an end in and of itself— but is for some people a necessary first evolutionary step of a journey to somewhere else entirely ( an intellectual clearing of the decks if you will ) and the mode of transport is the asking of questions both of others but more particularly of ourselves.
    For others of less inquiring mind it like many other beliefs leads nowhere.

    This is thing about belief systems of all stripes — there are as many interpretations as there are practitioners …..it is intensely personal. Hence I suppose why some people become so aggressive about it.

  • Phil Robinson

    If we distill the atheistic position down to it’s bare bones what are we left with? Seemingly we are left with the proposition that a section of our objective consciousness is capable of discerning an ultimate truth. Doubtful at best, it’s not been done in the entire history of human kind.

    If we strip the self serving claptrap from a couple of other belief systems we are left with:

    Love without limit ……………. S. Gautama (Buddha)
    Spread joy………………………… S.Gautama (Buddha)
    Love one another…………….. J of N. (Christ)

    In my very humble opinion these few selfless and unequivocal injunctions contain the solution to all the problems that ever were or will be.

    Have an image of babies and bathwater for some reason.

    In conclusion will paraphrase a profound Jewish mystic ; the very moment we place limitations or objectively conceived notions upon the all pervasive cosmic consciousness we have entirely missed the point.

    Regards Phil

    P.S. God resides at the heart of the quark ( so far) address all mail there.

    P.P.S It is beyond rational thought ( think infinity )

    Addendum : Will you people at least try and be civil to each other ( honestly all that killing and shooting one wonders why one bothered………….. don’t make me come down there! ) and turn off the bloody lights when you leave.

    Love God

  • Phil Robinson

    Hmmm a comedienne without a sense of humour now there’s a paradox for you boyo.

  • Phil Robinson

    And here’s an even greater paradox ; whether you are right or I am right is almost a complete irrelevance in that if you are right in a century we’ll all be feeling no pain and this conversation won’t even be remembered and if by some slim chance I am right then you’ll have a few lifetimes to ponder these particular dilemmas.

  • Phil Robinson

    I’m really very sorry for being such a spoilsport but if one sets oneself up as an authority on anything one must expect to be challenged and if it doesn’t do you in it’ll make you stronger and who knows Mom if you are as intelligent as you seem it might provide some good material.

    People”s beliefs are at once very personal and extremely important .

    Here’s a thought on it from one of the 20th centuries great thinkers… I say great because he came up with a truly original idea or two.
    Our beliefs become our thoughts…. Our thoughts become our words…. Our words become our actions…. Our actions become our habits …… Our habits become our values…Our values become our destiny. M.K. Ghandi (mahatma )

    If one examines that chain of causation one can see that what what we believe determines the overall course of our lives on this breathtakingly beautiful little blue orb spinning in a sea of infinity.

    Does God exist ? Well I’m sure I don’t know definitively or empirically and wonder really does it even matter, well I know what I believe. Here’s a few things we probably should be considering that might be important in the short term:
    In my lifetime the world population has tripled
    The plastic island in the pacific has come into existence and expands alarmingly
    We seem to have altered the balance of our atmosphere. etc. etc.
    Come on people roll up your sleeves there’s major work to be done to put this right.

    Please continue to believe whatever you see fit but try to be honest with yourself and do it with the blinkers off.

    Tread softly for you tread on my dreams

  • Brad Larsen

    Agreed. Circumstances and mood DO have a lot to do with one’s stance on belief. For me, it’s more whether or not to be vocal about it or not. And yeah . . . some days, one has the patience of a fictional or historical messiah . . . others, not so much. Twitter has been an escalator of sorts. On some days, a parachute jump.

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  • Phil Robinson

    Ah my dear you keep answering the wrong questions and avoiding the big ones— “meaningless?”
    The business about nihilism was a sideshow and not a question at all really.

    You seem to be preoccupied with names, labels and semantics and keep avoiding the central point and that is that it is not repeat not possible to believe or disbelieve in any given thing without a clear idea of what that thing is and you seem a little reticent to mention any of the attributes of this god in which you disbelieve.

    It is just a word after all until we flesh it’s bones

    Merely putting oneself forward and saying “I don’t believe in God” will not cut it ,you need to back it up with some solid logic. In much the same way as Oz insists he won’t believe in some undefined concept of god until someone gives him empirical evidence. It ain’t gonna happen until we basically and truthfully admit that there is stuff going on here that we don’t understand.

    There is a thing in some circles called the grand cosmic joke and it is simply this; this universe operates according to a beautiful set of laws, rules and systems —The laws of physics, the laws of chemistry the laws of biology etc. etc.to deny these is retrogressive (think flat earth ) and here’s the kicker they are laws . that we all are bound by whether we believe in them or not and have been so since the beginning of life itself.
    The very presence of laws, rules and systems implies a law maker, a rule maker and a system designer and in centuries to come I reckon the denial of the above will be regarded as a flat earth kind of attitude.

    So to bring it home…….. if the god in which you disbelieve is that simplistic god of mainstream religious thought——
    The grand old greybeard puppet master pulling all the strings then I would solidly agree with you ( it was a fantasy to control the masses and my reason for claiming atheism)———— if however you are referring to a God which begins as the creationary vibrationary impulse at the heart of the smallest particle and continues consistently according to rule ,law and system to the entire universe itself and beyond –You see this is where science is inadvertently leading us but we haven’t yet evolved the intellectual capacity in our objective minds to comprehend it as a whole —Then I’d vehemently disagree.

    This impulse I’d say will never be fully understood for our objective minds are simply not equipped for the task and it is precisely and exactly at this point that faith and true humility begins– the gateway to another level of consciousness..

    Here rests the case for the defence and my time here is done.

    Fare thee well, good luck and good night.

    • I don’t care if it was a question, you suggested I sounded like one, and I addressed that. It’s called conversation. I’m not obsessed so much as I know who I am and you do not. You keep using language that suggests you know me better than I do, which I think is presumptive, arrogant and rude. I’m not upset by this, as people telling us what we think and feel happens daily to atheists and I’m used to it, but at the very least, you ought to expect to be corrected when you assert that I “seem” a certain way and I correct you. You don’t get to tell me what I think and feel. I wouldn’t even come close to doing that to another person and it absolutely astounds me how often I get it from others as soon as I say I am an atheist. It’s really very simple, don’t assume you know anything about me, until I tell you. You have no insight into my life outside of a comment box on the web.

      “Merely putting oneself forward and saying “I don’t believe in God” will not cut it ,you need to back it up with some solid logic.” So, I assume then you have some solid logic for why you don’t believe in leprechauns? You can not believe in a lot of things. WHat you’re suggesting is that the default position for believing in anything is to believe it until you can find the logic not to. So, anyone could assert anything, like invisible donkeys in their bathroom or shoes that talk to them when no one else is looking, and default is to believe until you find solid logic not to? That makes zero sense. No, the default position is not to believe until you’ve been given reason to. I don’t believe things that are merely asserted and not backed up. That’s what we like to call gullibility.

      That said, the reason for why I don’t believe, and have never believed in God, is that despite many people trying to give me one, I have never had a good enough reason to believe. A good reason for me, at this point, would be demonstrable evidence. Should anyone produce demonstrable evidence, I’d accept that a god exists. It’s that simple. Until that day, I won’t believe, not by choice, but because I can’t force myself to believe in something for which I have no reason to. Think of how successful you might be if you tried to force yourself to believe there’s an invisible donkey in my bathroom.

    • MrOzAtheist

      Phil, you seem to be insistent that *we* define what God is and then tell you why we don’t believe in it. I’ve spoken to a considerable number of theists and I can’t say I know any two whose ideas of God are identical. For some it is the grey bearded puppet master, for others it’s ‘love’ as in actually a synonym for the emotion.

      For you god seems to be ‘something I don’t understand which caused the universe and is behind some of the observations we make but I can’t explain it so I call it God’. Forgive me, but that’s somewhat unconvincing.

      You then argue a position you can’t possibly show to be true – that we’ll never understand. Says who? Why are you limiting our capacity to learn? Imagine the things we didn’t understand a mere 200 years ago?

      GM and I are atheists. We don’t believe gods and goddesses are real. That is, we’ve never been told about a god or goddes which comes with evidence to support its existence. Whether that’s the bearded puppet master or the ‘there must be something’ God you imagine is real.

  • Phil Robinson

    Mercy, this is difficult lol — the question is simple enough –this God that you don’t believe in what are it’s attributes?

    Or is it simply an intangible vaporous vague idea of nothingness? —- shoot, that’s easy I could do that.

    Invisible donkeys WTF?.

    Are you seriously suggesting that if you can’t see something it isn’t there –oh lol.

    Mom your taking this way too seriously –haven’t heard you laugh yet
    You of all people I would have thought would understand the true value of laughter.

    A life unexamined is a life not worth living (Socrates.)

    Give us a chuckle then –go on.

    In a hundred years who will even care about common heathens and silly old farts? Aye, there’s the rub.

    • I don’t believe in any gods, with any attributes, at all. You name an attribute, and I don’t believe in a god with it.

      “Invisible donkeys WTF?.” It’s called an analogy – someone asserts something, ANYTHING, and you suggest I should believe it. I am saying, I don’t until I have reason to.

      “Are you seriously suggesting that if you can’t see something it isn’t there –oh lol.” That’s not what I said, read it again.

      “Mom your taking this way too seriously –haven’t heard you laugh yet” I haven’t found you funny. I post these comments and go about my day, not giving another ounce of thought to them. If that’s serious, so be it!

      “Give us a chuckle then –go on.” Sure. Say something amusing.

      “In a hundred years who will even care about common heathens and silly old farts? Aye, there’s the rub.” Well, if you listened to the podcast, you’ll know of our plans to take over the world, so I think in a hundred years there will be lots of memorials to us.

      • Phil Robinson

        Lol cute

      • Phil Robinson

        I Surrender your intellect and ego are far superior to mine it’s a no contest really.

  • Phil Robinson

    Something amusing.

    Irony can be funny too.

    And this is a truly delicious irony.

  • Phil Robinson

    Rofl (sigh) one last try What does the word god mean to you?

    You probably could charge admission to this if you could identify the demographic.

    Monuments eh? saying is not doing— I’ll believe it when I see it. ( Oh lol, too rich by half.)

    • MrOzAtheist

      God: something people have tried to convince me is real, but haven’t been able to.

      • Best definition I’ve ever heard!

      • Phil Robinson

        All excellent points Oz will attempt some of them .

        Don’t know if you’ve watched Mom and I having a little verbal dance lately— it’s about 2500 years old and goes under the name of Socratic method —feel I can be a little patronising towards him cause he was younger than me when he snuffed it. Anyway the point he initiated ( and we are still using it today) is that to get to the truth of any matter we needed to ask a long series of questions.
        The purpose of these questions apparently was not necessarily to establish any great truths individually merely to open doors to other trains of thought –he understood instinctively that the process itself is maybe more important than conclusions.

        I’m at a bit of a disadvantage here in that a lot of what I’ve discussed requires a bit of up to date scientific knowledge.
        To your first point : That we (in an individual sense that is you and I individually) define what God is —well science tells us that that is exactly what happens –in an individual sense you create in your brain a concept of what constitutes your idea of God or not as the case may be.

        Now any attempt by anyone else to convince you of anything seems pointless in the sense that to do so would require first that you would both have to agree with perfect equanimity on your individual concepts of it— once again science tells us that that would be very difficult and yet it does happen to some degree on a daily basis.

        Mankind over it’s evolution has miraculously developed a certain homogeneity of concepts which enable us to stumble through on a day to day basis– for example if I said “I hopped in my car. ” your brain could develop a pretty fair concept of what I was attempting to convey and yet you’d have no idea about colour make or year model, there would still be unknowns .

        God to me is just a word that attempts very poorly to convey a sort of standardised concept of what something might be. Our task then would be ( if we are curious enough) to try by asking questions to get a little closer to some sort of common definition on which we could agree.

        So to say I believe in something or do not has no value unless we agree on a commonality of concept.
        So the very question loses relevance . A much better question is in my humble opinion is why are we here? And the simplistic answer according to science is that we stand here as the result of a long chain of events thoughts and actions which would anywhere along that chain with the changing of a link have had a very different outcome. For example had your parents not found each other attractive ,I’d be talking to someone else entirely.

        Science is fumbling it’s way along to certain conclusions about existence that certain people have known intuitively for centuries Democritus a greek of antiquity talked of atoms The Buddha professed 2.5 millennia ago that– all is illusion— and if we have a good hard look at the thinking in quantum physics at the moment we see a remarkable similarity of concept.

        My one and only point has been ,don’t throw the baby out with the bath water .There is much going on here that is beyond the level of our objective consciousness to comprehend—- our tiny minds are not the exact centre of the universe. All systems of thought religion etc are no more than humankind’s humble attempts rightly or wrongly to make some sense of it all — why in fact we are here— and for the most part they are remarkably naive–however they are ours.

        I reckon you are spot on when you say that mankind is capable of much more intellectual development in fact it could be seen as an inevitable consequence of evolution which is a thing which in my humble opinion is not merely a law of the biosphere but of the cosmos itself.
        However if you want to push that evolution a bit consider this question .What is infinity?
        A question which will remain rationally unknowable for a very long time.

        I don’t propose for a minute that it is either my responsibility, duty or anything else to convince anyone of anything– that is always an intensely personal matter. I do however enjoy (bit like Socrates) attempting to provoke young minds to think a little more deeply about what they profess.
        The universe is a majestic gloriously beautiful enigma let’s not demean it by talk of gods and goddesses but rather that wonderful little three letter word “why”.

        • MrOzAtheist

          I think it’s odd that you think we should agree on what god is and then go from there. I have *no* concept of god. When you say god, replace it with ‘Gmaorddski’. That’s what god means to me. So where do we go from there? The atheist experience nails it, for me. They ask callers ‘what do you believe and why’? Labels, definitions, and such don’t mean much then. I say I don’t believe god exists. What I mean is ‘there is no concept of gods or goddesses that has been given to me by a believer which comes with enough good supporting (as in non-fallacious) evidence that convinces me that the thing they claim to exist does, in fact, exist’. Now forgive me, but I don’t have time or indeed space when it comes to twitter, to write that out each and every time I wish to say it.

          There’s really no need for us to agree on what a ‘god’ is. All that needs to happen is the believer states what they believe is the case and why they believe it. In the ensuing discussion, I may point out the flaws in their arguments. They can do with that what they wish.

  • Phil Robinson

    Just to try and set the tone here in this conversation (if conversation it is to be– only you can determine that.).
    One of the very few nice things about growing old is that you no longer really have anything left to prove. So let me state up front that I’ve no egocentric wheelbarrow to push .Am totally uninterested in who might be right or wrong in the matter but rather by honest discussion do as you suggested and try in our very humble way to advance human knowledge just a tiny bit.

    Small question or three Ozzie if you’d be so kind as to indulge— by your own admission you say that you’ve discussed the matter with many theists, can we assume then that you saw some significance to the conversation or you would merely have walked away surely? (am sure someone will vigorously put me right if I’m being presumptuous).And you further suggested that they couldn’t agree on a common concept of what it was they believed ,surely this goes exactly to my point that the entire question is meaningless until there is a commonality of concept . It’s like what was said elsewhere You standing up and saying I don’t believe in bricks and me responding– but I categorically insist that marshmallows are a thing and then both of us agreeing that roses probably are red– it is in fact specious logic. Which then leads us to the matter of proof —once again can only assume that because you remained in said conversations and didn’t walk away that you conceded that there might just very vaguely be the possibility of the afore mentioned proof. If such is the case have you then considered what that proof would look like or to put it more simply what it would have taken to convince you? Or and it’s a big or you felt that you could prove to them that your position was correct. Which I wonder?.

    Beliefs are important …… big statement… will now attempt to show why –shamelessly stealing the thoughts of one of the 20th century’s great thinkers ( a great thinker in my opinion is someone that has a truly original thought )
    His chain of causality went as follows:-
    Our beliefs become out thoughts
    Our thoughts become our words
    Our words become our actions
    Our actions become our habits
    Our habits become our values
    Our values become our destiny (or reality whichever you prefer.) M.K. Ghandi.

    If anyone can logically refute any of those points would love to hear it.

    Now I would contend that atheism ( and once again am sure I’ll be corrected if I’m wrong) is in fact a belief system wherein it’s proponents believe that certain things (we have not yet established what to my satisfaction)
    do not in fact have existence.

    Now if we accept Gandhi’s proposition.. then our beliefs have profound implications

    Would suggest in light of that ,that we need to consider our beliefs very carefully indeed.

    • MrOzAtheist

      The only significance to the conversation comes from the fact that people still, despite having no good reason to, and plenty of good reason not to, think that some version of ‘god’ is real. If it ended there, then you’d probably not hear much from vocal atheists. But it doesn’t. The two big issues are this…1: Belief that ‘god’ is real informs actions. Those actions lead to harm of others. EG – Praying instead of seeking medical attention. Telling homosexual people that they’re ‘sinful’ and ‘flawed’ which leads to elevated suicide rates, especially amongst younger people. People setting other people on fire because they believe those people are ‘witches’ (btw – not 100s of years ago – recently) . Falsely imprisoning someone because they are an atheist (a friend of Godless Mom), the hacking to death of atheist and secular bloggers (happening *this* year). The list goes on.

      2: People try to pass legislation based on their beliefs. This legislation affects others. EG the absurd and relentless anti-abortion push in the US. Trying to force school science classes to teach myth along with actual science. Banning or preventing marriage equality. The almost constant breaches of the US constitution.

      If we accept Gahndhi’s proposition that our beliefs ultimately inform our actions, then is it not incumbent on us to ensure that those beliefs are valid and sound? That they’re based on good, reliable information. Information that can be demonstrated to be true? When our beliefs could potentially lead to other people being killed, are we not more so obliged to making sure they’re right?

      This is the position of the vocal atheist. This is why we speak out. It doesn’t matter, in the end, what version of god you or anyone else happens to believe in, what matters is whether or not your actions negatively impose on, or harm others.

  • Phil Robinson

    Ah you’ve made your case admirably but forgive me I sense a little hostility and thus with a few parting comments shall leave you in peace for I understand the absurdity of this whole conversation and how it seems to irritate. .

    Can’t for the life of me work out how anyone can logically not believe in nothing (I suppose it might be possible) but your comment seems to point to the fact that you do in fact have a concept of it and that that concept is every one else’s concept that they’re trying to ram down your throat in a general sense (with your best interests at heart of course lol). the whole issue is no more than a contest of egos.

    In this best of all possible countries we inhabit we do have a perfect right to agree to disagree and such is the case here. and also you have a perfect right to stand on the barricades and proclaim at your loudest that you don’t believe in anything that looks remotely like a primal cause but and here’s the kicker that I have exactly the same right to stand alongside and proclaim loudly ” I am not an accident.”

    Who is right? Well I proclaim that I”ll probably know before you do lol (statistically speaking )

    In the end if we ( as you pointed out ) do no harm to others (the ideal) then no problem— which is a truly noble sentiment (wonder where we got it from.) And in a century who will know or even care?

    No-one laughs in here or exhibits any real curiosity wonder why that is?

    I’ll make a little prediction that you as an intelligent human (you’ll be the only one to know whether it’s right)
    will before you die change your thinking ever so slightly.

    I sincerely hope you can make your belief system (whatever it may be) work for you and can see absolutely no reason why it shouldn’t .

    Good luck, fare the well and goodbye

    • MrOzAtheist

      Certainly no hostility here. Text does have a way of coming across differently than intention. Particular if there are preconceived ideas or biases. If you, Godless Mom, and I were in a pub having this chat over a beer, I’m sure all would be good.

      I think you’ve highlighted here where we differ. As you say, it’s my right to proclaim I don’t believe in gods or goddesses (or primal cause as you call it). I have reasons for not believing and those reasons are solid and well founded (at least, for me – which is all that matters, right?) So my position is this: Person A makes a claim. Person A can’t show that the claim is true. I don’t believe the claim.

      Your proclamation of ‘I am not an accident’ though, is quite different. To my knowledge, no one is telling you your an accident. No one is trying to legislate based on you being an accident. No one is calling you a sinner and directly causing elevated suicide rates among people like you based on you being an accident.

      So yes, proclaim it all you want…but who cares if you don’t believe your an accident? It has no lasting impact. No one is trying to force you to believe it. No one is trying to force *you* to alter *your* life because of what *they* believe.

      But when Person A looks at my daughter, for example, and says *my daughter* can’t marrying the person *she* loves because *person A* believes a god exists…well then we have to have a word with that person and remind them that *their* beliefs should not negatively impact *someone else’s* life.

  • Phil Robinson

    Ah Oz I believe you just made my case for me but would dispute that Atheism can necessarily claim the moral high ground.
    I’ve known of a good few extremely violent ones. A Hitler, J Stalin, Pol Pot to name a few– for when we remove all restraints evil knows no limits.

    However would suggest that the examples you give are more likely the result of misguided or reconstructed beliefs than anything else and if you are suggesting that they are not a good thing then I’d wholeheartedly agree. Hence my suggestion about our need for very great care in what we believe.

    I’ll try to keep my point very simple (everyone has neatly been sidestepping it.)

    When you say ” I don’t believe in God ” you mistakenly assume that I as a relatively impartial listener know what you mean or intend by the word God. (applies to invisible donkeys too Mom)

    I do not……..Can you please explain what you mean or intend by the use of the word God.

    It’s been suggested that to define something that does not exist is not possible well ok then if we take that premise then surely god is nothing and if we transpose that word for god in the following sentence we wind up with.
    “I don’t believe in nothing” . Now apart from the appalling double negative—- once again can’t find fault with that and in fact can state quite truthfully, hand on heart, that I’ve been not believing in nothing all my long life—- can I apply for membership in the club.

    However as a piece of logic it sort of doesn’t stack up.

    If you are suggesting that you disbelieve in an undefined vague concept of a primal cause kindly prepared for you over millennia by various other people in other think tanks— well then yes I can see your point– but would suggest that coming up with an original concept of your own might be more productive However would point out that if one sifts through the vast reams of mumbo jumbo associated with said think tanks that one can find a few hidden gems– ergo they’re not completely evil– such stuff as– do unto others as you would have them do unto you– I reckon a goodly number of the think tankers have lost sight of that one, hence my point about misguided or reconstructed beliefs .

    To hang all the world’s problems on the misguided or reconstructed beliefs of some folks is perhaps a little naive Should we jump on our hind legs and protest loudly when we appear to see evil ? –absolutely– but once again we must be a little careful to sift through the evidence, because for many people evil is a matter of opinion— so to baldly state “you believe in god and do evil things is about of equal value to saying that “you don’t believe in god and do evil things”– the point then being not about god per se but about evil in particular.

    If however you are suggesting that this universe we inhabit does not exhibit in every direction we look reveal system, method, order and dare I say it a thread of conscious intent running through everything then I would dispute you– and say that just by using the findings of science itself I could mount a pretty fair case for the affirmative.

    Since wandering through the door here I’ve encountered thinly veiled rather tepid hostility and a spirit of complete dis interest in any sort of enquiry into the very nature of existence– now part of that may well be my fault for getting off on the wrong foot and if so I apologise.

    In closing will pinch the lovely latin motto of england’s royal air force to express my sentiment ” per ardua ad astra ”
    (through effort to the stars)

    Here rests the case for the defence –either you get it or you don’t —I can do no more.

    • MrOzAtheist

      Phil,

      Hitler was in no way an atheist. The others you mention were also communists and dictators. There is no more evidence that they were motivated by atheism than they were motivated by uniforms, moustaches, hats or their lack of belief in leprechauns.

      I haven’t side stepped your question/point and have, in fact, done the opposite and addressed it several times.

      So, let me simplify it for you: No theist has ever described to me a being that they believe in which they call ‘god’ which I also believe exists. As pointed out to you several times, *I* do not have a concept of god, *they* do. But let me go even further for you…

      I don’t think I’ve heard of any two ideas of what ‘god’ is that match 100%. But what the *theists* tell me tends to fall within certain boundaries. EG Created the universe, loves us all, usually tri-omni (though the try to wriggle out of this by replacing ‘all…’ with ‘maximally…’ because omni is ridiculous’. Usually they have rules by which we’re meant to live. They quite often have a problem with homosexuality. They like being prayed to. Some are interventionist. Others aren’t. They created life on earth and operate out of ‘heaven’ and most versions have a facility called ‘hell’ in which some people go after death. Oh, there’s an afterlife associated with them, usually. There are probably more details, but I guess that’s the gist. Oh, there’s usually some kind of holy book attached.

      “Can you please explain what you mean or intend by the use of the word God.” <- I mean what theists tell me they believe in when *they* tell *me* about god. (Usually based on the bible or the qu'ran).

      "It's been suggested that to define something that does not exist is not possible well ok then if we take that premise then surely god is nothing and if we transpose that word for god in the following sentence we wind up with. ""I don't believe in nothing" ." <- This is just not true and isn't worth responding to except to point out how it's not true. If this were true defining any kind of fictional being/character would be impossible. And if that were the case, we'd not have fiction. When we make something up, we can define it however we like. Hence there are so many versions of god.

      " but would suggest that coming up with an original concept of your own might be more productive" <- I see no reason to invent a god in which I then don't believe. What would be the point of that?

      The golden rule has indeed been around for a long time – way before Christianity, in various forms and does seem to be a good starting point for any morality. It's not perfect (you'd not want to have masochists abiding by it, for example). What I like about the golden rule is that it shows that people can and do find a way to be moral without god. Another I like is 'create the society you'd want to live in if you didn't know who you'd be'.

      As for not hanging the world's problems on misguided beliefs…why not? What are the world's problems caused by if not by what people 'believe'? Whether that's belief that witches should be burnt alive or that CEOs should receive remuneration 100s of times higher than a new starter? The believe that a certain skin colour is inferior or that if you fall in love with the same gender you're flawed and an abomination? Track back any of the world's problems and you'll find that what someone 'believes' is at the root of it.

      Most of the universe is empty vacuum. The universe behaves in an explainable, expected way, with no apparent consciousnesses or intent present. I think to observe the universe and assign it a consciousness is quite absurd. Nothing about how the universe operates suggests an interest in anything we do. It would be my guess that the combined mass of every human who has ever existed would be such a small % of the universe that I'd need 1000s and 1000s of zeros to show it. To think there's a consciousness that cares about us – whether a Christian god, Islamic god, or 'some intent in the universe' is plainly absurd.

  • Phil Robinson

    Ah sorry missed your last one and take your point about text and spoken word –all nuance is lost. So in the interest of pub chat.

    From your last post am assuming that your main beef with the God botherers is that they attempt to force their concept of things on others in a legislative sense and more generally and to try to have everyone behave as they see fit all based on a false premise. Well I think I can see point but would suggest that there may be a few flaws in that position.
    You and I live in good old Aus and I for one am intensely grateful for the privilege– now this joint is predicated on the principle that if you gather a group of folks together of disparate points of view and ask ’em to decide on something then generally and eventually sanity will prevail— agreed sometimes a laborious and tedious process but for the main it so far seems to be working for the greater good and it’s the best we can come up with so far.

    Well in the legislative sense the remedy is simple– become a legislator or bother your representatives, form a protest group to get your idea out there etc. etc. However these folk, against whom you rail, whilst a fringe group really don’t pose much of a threat to us in this country and I’d suggest that the moment we start to tell them what to believe and how to act we are in fact lowering ourselves to their level of debate. The solution as ever would seem to be tolerant and patient cultural education (Our aussie culture is very good at it, have watched it do it’s magic over many years.) the alternative is to call out the troops and shoot the lot of ’em. Ok I’m being facetious but the fact remains that Hitler didn’t agree with the jews and his solution was to vaporise ’em.

    OK so this system is not the ideal but it’s not that bad either and if we look at our history we find that a fair bit of it is based on would you believe it christian morality , I’m sounding like a broken record now but it’s important in my humble opinion not to throw the baby out with the bath water—- to forever ask questions of ourselves.

    I’ve answered the door to numerous Jehovah’s rovers and engaged with some of them and really mate they are relatively harmless and a good many of the believers I’ve met are genuinely good hearted and generous people. If we are really looking for something to be righteously indignant about we should maybe be outraged by what’s happening to our planet (shitting in our own nest springs to mind) it will have a far greater impact than anything else by a bloody long margin.

    If you are referring in part to the gay marriage question then my suggestion would have been to stick the question on the top of our upcoming ballot paper and bob’s yer uncle –majority decides and we’ve kept our 150 mill in the bank however no one listens to me lol.

  • Phil Robinson

    Ah! At last someone willing to engage on the matter of intent.

    By saying that intent is absurd you are presenting the idea that all existence is entirely a matter of chance. That there is no systematic disposition of creative elements involved.

    Is that right? and if it’s not then surely the alternative is some sort of plan or system—— or as I’ve previously suggested it is for the most part unknowable (agnosticism) in any rational sense (which Mom laid some claim to by calling herself an atheist agnostic)— but even if unknowable it would still have some existence. We shall try and winkle this out.

    Science can now give us a chain of causation that leads from us– back to the single cell in the primal swamp and beyond to an exploding star.That implies by it’s very nature a chain of causation from the seemingly simple to the complex could you agree?

    Let’s start with us then ; are you aware that in your very own body there are trillions of inhabitants which are in fact separate entities— bacteria and other folks who have for the most part our best interests at heart– and who are not of us but have a very active breeding program of their own and originally came from various places not the least of which is our mum’s vaginas and bums during the birth process itself and of course that complete food breast milk (onya mum).
    Takes about three years for us to have all our gut flora in place during which time we are a bit more vulnerable and also they have evolved with us over millions of years..

    Now they are remarkable little creatures these bacteria with a thousand times more cultural differences than us who do in fact perform many extremely useful services for us in concert— without which we soon sicken and die and all they selflessly ask is a warm wet roof over their heads and a bit of fibre to munch on. In approximately one and a half feet of colon from our arsehole or asshole ( depending on your cultural derivation) are about a trillion of the colonisers (nice pun that.)

    Biology has only recently discovered that the little buggers think! They in fact make important decisions and take appropriate actions based on those decisions and furthermore more carry on a 24/7 dialogue with our subconscious minds about the state of the nation via the vagus nerve. It has been named the gut brain. If that isn’t a level of consciousness then I don’t know how you’d define one?

    So– this is happening below the threshold of our conscious minds– we in fact have little conscious control over the processes involved other than what we shove through our gobs and our toilet habits and perhaps our exercise regime and further it’s also been shown that our gut biomes have a major role in the education of our immune systems.

    Our gut biomes are only one instance there are many other like behaviours happening throughout our bodies (google macrophages in bloodstream.) in any given instant. At this point we might pose the question; How can this be ? all these trillions of disparate entities working to a common purpose inside us –keeping us alive and kicking. Now this suggests to me a system of some sort wherein we are simply a co-operative collaboration of individual levels of consciousness. The good ship ME is in fact the good ship WE in a scientifically demonstrable way. The alternative position would be that the similarities of trillions of entities in over seven million bodies (do the math) are working for the same end (shocking pun) keeping us alive as a result of some monumental coincidence. Getting a bit thin as an argument (statistically speaking).

    The above also illustrates in my humble opinion that there are many levels of consciousness within us at any time, all operating to some sort of time table and order of preference of which we are totally unaware and further just keeps on throwing up question after question eg. how would these bacteria etc. know what is in their best interest? for if they didn’t chaos would reign and we’d all cark it in double quick time.

    This is but one level of very many to this conversation— and i’d suggest that before we say that intent in the universe is absurd we must begin to address these questions and a good many others to create any sort of reasonable argument.

    Your last paragraph is very interesting, in particular ” cares about us, ” explainable way” empty vacuum” apparent consciousness” etc all of which would seem to be part of a concept about existence which is all I’ve ever been trying to get to and frankly it’s been like pulling teeth. Incidentally science now tells us that space may in fact not be any empty vacuum.

    In conclusion (for the moment ) if your suggestion is that all existence appears to be unexplainable then I’d agree but with the emphasis on the word “appears” and that there are actually quite reasonable assumptions we can make just with a bit of patient reasoning and assessment of scientific facts.

    In the time we’ve all been having our little pub chat I’ve conceded many times that I could see your point over some matters and yet no one has yet offered me the same courtesy . If in fact you can find no validity in the above then please say so and we can both be better occupied elsewhere.

    One of the very worst errors we can make in this life is to hold contempt for any of our fellow travellers– for in the reality I inhabit we all of us have the perfect right to be totally stuffed up and should be dealt with with patience and tolerance with the common objective of further enhancing our understanding.

    When humans can work in concert with a commonality of purpose (yet another level of consciousness ) remarkably similar to bacteria We can achieve miracles.

  • Phil Robinson

    Well, looks like science has put the fear of God into ’em.

    So let’s just go off at a tangent for a minute, it’s been suggested that an atheist can have a high moral sense—- a sense of right and wrong and good and bad.

    I’ve no problem at all with that –seems eminently reasonable.

    However am forced to consider it’s motivation.

    One assumes that all atheists are by definition YOLOs (you only live oncers) and believe that we are here for a very short time (cosmically speaking) and thence are no more and that there is no system of compensation and education for erroneous practices or good ones etc. (Karma in fact) Now Mom has put forward that the two ideas are compatible for some people— but I’d suggest that the idea of a system of compensation ( a law of cause and effect if you prefer ) and a proposition of lack of intent and meaningless of all existence are totally inconsistent with each other —are in fact contradictory .

    If such is the case that there is no compensatory system and we are here and then gone in the blink of an eye what’s the motivation to live a good and useful life? ( How in fact do we determine what is a good and useful life.) Why not just greedily grab everything you can with both hands and be damned to everyone else or for that matter why bother to make laws to direct us into the seemingly just position anyway? Surely if we did that we’d be complying with Darwin’s proposition that the strongest and best equipped survive and the rest— well —

    Would seem to be the ideal solution to planetary overcrowding.

    Seems like we might have run afoul of our own moral codes here (9 billion –2050—2100 —? )
    Still we’ll all be dead and feeling no pain so who gives a shit— right?

    Further to all that then we must now ask ourselves where do atheists get their moral codes. I’d put forward the idea (please let me know if there is another answer) that atheists can and do pick the eyes out of some very old systems of thought ( do unto others etc.) and thus put together a concept of right and wrong according to their particular society’s accepted norms and their own gut instincts (hmm interesting choice of words that ). You have got to wonder where those gut instincts come from.

    Sounds remarkably similar to what I’ve been promoting all along “Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater”.

    Now would also say that in the atheist community I’ve observed on the part of some (not necessarily all) a position of contempt for folks that think differently to them on the matter and some attempts at ridicule about the same. This smacks of a sort of holier than thou attitude remarkably similar to that of fundamentalists of all stripes. (Now that’s ironic).

    The point that my idea is superior to yours simply because it’s mine. Might feel good but has no basis in fact.

    Sounds to me Oz that on the matter of gay marriage you might have some” skin in the game” so to
    speak –well so do I (my daughter is gay ) my position is one of patience, for in my lifetime I’ve seen society’s attitude go from –Let’s bash ‘em up or put ’em in jail to a fairly tolerant acceptance and would suggest that quite soon marriage will be the norm ( although we’ll probably have to increase the budget of the divorce courts ,they get it wrong oftentimes, just like us) and sanity will prevail. If that’s not evolution of thought I don’t know how you’d define it.

    Good old N.Z. is always an hour and a half ahead of us on everything (they’ve already done it). That’s how I predict the future—- just look at what N.Z. is doing lol.

    • MrOzAtheist

      There are evolutionary benefits to being altruistic and for living in a cooperative society. There are reasons I don’t want to do “bad” things. These reasons have nothing to do with whether or not there’s a god. For example, I know that being hit in the face hurts…so I don’t want to do that to someone else. I find the motivation of being answerable to ourselves and our society to be far superior than being answerable to someone we don’t even know exists.

      Your example of marriage equality – Homosexuality was illegal in my state in my lifetime. Up until 1949 sodomy was punishable by death. Yesterday my state premier wrote to the Prime Minister asking the PM to introduce a by-partisan bill into parliament to have marriage equality legalised in Australia. We’ve come a long way. What drove this? I’ll you 100% for sure – it was NOT theism.

      Yes, one day I will die and I’ll be no more. I’ll ‘live on’ only in the memories of my children, friends, and family. And maybe the odd follower on twitter, or listener to my podcast, if they (and I) last that long. Why would you think I’d want to leave these people a world of chaos and destruction? Why would you think that my death would mean I don’t care what happens after it occurs?

      You say that atheists pick and choose and put together a moral code of societies norms. Well…that’s all ANYONE does – progress excepted. The number one moral code promoted to me by theists is the bible. This book is almost devoid of anything we’d call modern morality.

      For example: The bible tells me I can own people as property (don’t give me indentured servitude, these people were slaves, pure and simple). It also tells me that I can beat my slaves. It says that I can beat them so much that as long as they don’t die after a few days, there’s no punishment.

      When people tell me they get their morals from the bible, or the god of, I ask them – What’s your position on slavery, and how did you reach it?’ I’ve never been given a satisfactory answer. You know why? Because they’re either FOR slavery (rare) or they are against it – because of their OWN morality. Because of a decision THEY reached.

      They sometimes argue that the bible was relative ‘to the time’ it was written. Well duh! That’s because it was written by MEN. And just like today – it was the moral code of the society OF THE TIME.

      When we make moral advancements – it’s secular humanism that leads the charge and theism is dragged behind, kicking and screaming. Canada has had marriage equality for over a decade. The US (far more religious than Australia) has it. Even IRELAND has it. But Australia doesn’t. And the argument against? 100% purely religiously motivated. Basically Christians saying ‘I don’t want this person to marry the person they love because of what *I* imagine to be true’. Theistic morality is stagnant. It’s oppressive, it’s sexist, and and it’s homophobic.

      Religious people fight against marriage equality, just like they fought against interracial marriage. To this day it’s impossible for a woman to be made head of the Catholic church…because she’s a woman.

      You mention the golden rule (which predates the Christian version by several centuries). It is found in various cultures over various times. Simple point – *people* are capable of coming up with the golden rule. It’s not perfect (you’d not want a masochist living by it, for example) but it IS a good foundation. No god required.

      Also this: Create the society you’d want to live in, if you didn’t know who you’d be. I can’t find who said the quote originally (but it wasn’t god).

      Also, there *is* a compensatory system: THIS life. If we are altruistic, if we are cooperative, if we look out for each other and we support each other WE live a better life. Why would you want to forsake a better life simply because you don’t believe a god exists? You’re doing yourself a disservice, as well as those you love.

      Regarding Darwin, you seem to miss the point. He’s talking on a *species* level, not an individual level. Also, ‘survival of the fittest’ doesn’t mean strongest – at all. It means fittest in adaptability. Ability to survive the environment (as in weather, terrain, predators, atmospheric makeup). Not being able to lift the greatest weight or run the fastest.

      Many species (mammals in particular) have evolved to live in cooperative communities where individuals work together to ensure species survival. They look after each other, they protect each other, the work together to obtain food to eat, the warn each other of danger. And I’ll tell you for sure, they don’t do it because they read it in some book.

      It is truly one of the oddest things about theists – that they think wanting a better life for myself and those I love (and even strangers!) is something that’s impossible without a god to tell us to do it.

      • Woohoo! Well said, OZ!

        • MrOzAtheist

          thanks mate!

  • Phil Robinson

    Nicely reasoned argument Oz.

    Can you then give us your concept of the ideal society and how it could be achieved and is it an evolutionary certainty?

    Would you for example have every human believe as you do? And would that do it? Or is there some room for dissention?

    What is the point of a single human life? Does it have a value over and above it’s constituent parts?

    Do you for example believe that your thinking is superior to the thinking of a jihadi terrorist for example? And if so how would you convince him of your position?

    What of my science post?—– no comment?

    I get the impression from your posts that you are in a continual state of siege by theists of all stripes forcing their doctrines down your throat and that you are mildly angry about it.— surely that cannot be the case but if it is then poor you.

    Do you think perhaps that you might be giving them a bit more power than they actually possess?
    All the ones I’ve ever come across have been harmless enough just tell ‘em to piss off and they will.
    As to their legislative power well I’d suggest that it’s on the wane and that it probably breaks about 50-50 now atheists and believers. Evolutionary progress? We shall see.

    Are you suggesting that a person’s moral code is largely a product of their own thinking uninfluenced by the thoughts of others? If I’m wrong then can you trace whose thinking influenced yours

    Compensation is resolved in this lifetime you say– then what of all the unsolved crimes?— people who get away with crime or other forms of nastiness? Or am I taking too narrow a view and is there some compensatory force behind the scenes which I’m incapable of perceiving?

    My point about gay marriage is that it is a nice example of evolution of moral concepts and will eventually have the desired outcome but if you have a quarrel with the timetable you should perhaps agitate a little harder. In my own case am prepared to be patient however I did put on my recent ballot paper a query as to why it couldn’t have been incorporated into that ballot.

    It was in fact you who started a blog in favour of atheism and would conclude that therefore you feel that your position is inviolably correct and if not– then what of my position? Do you think I should be able to hold it if it differs from yours? Could it be that it might be not quite what you think it is?

    I truly envy your confidence Oz, the idea that you have solved the mystery of the universe must be comforting ( I’d fight to quite hard for your right to believe that ) . Personally I can see your argument and realise that if you are correct then it’s a win win for me for in 20 or thirty years time I’ll be feeling no pain and shall return to stardust blissfully unaware of anything totally unconcerned as to whether I’ve lived a life of some value or not . However if I’m even a little bit on the truth of it –Well, that’s another story.

    • MrOzAtheist

      Thanks.

      My ideal society probably isn’t too far from the countries that today top the human development index (which also correlate closely to countries who citizens are the happiest). For my own society, I think we struggle in equality and racism, so I’d like those improved. I think too few people have too much of the wealth. I know full socialism can’t work (yet) but I think something closer to socialism that what we have now. (EG CEOs earning 200x more than average employees?)

      Of course I wouldn’t have every human believe as I do. People have ideas I don’t. Things I didn’t think of, but agree with. Different ways of doing things. Even different goals or ideals. I’m a fan of society as a collective and that we, together, work to make life best for us. Which is not to say ‘majority rules’ because the majority can be wrong. I actually wrote a blog post on this topic today. You can find it here: http://mrozatheist.blogspot.com.au/2016/08/society-vs-god.html

      It depends on your perspective and goals as to whether my position is superior to that of a jihadist. If you want a safe, fair, equal society then certainly it is. How would I convince a jihadist I was right? I have no idea. I’m a user of logic and reason and rationality. A jihadist has obviously given these things up (if they ever had them at all) so I’m not sure how I’d approach them.

      I don’t recall your science post, sorry.

      No, I’m not under constant siege from these, but my twitter account is and the podcast I do with my friend is focused on this. So when you comment on this website about this podcast, which I do under my twitter handle of MrOzAtheist, then this is obviously the topic we’ll be discussing. On my day-today twitter account you’re more likely to see me talking about Darcy Moore’s nomination for Rising Star and the hope that he’s not out for too long with his hamstring injury. On my photography twitter account you’ll see photos I’ve taken but nothing about the atheism/theism debate.

      Certainly not suggesting that one’s moral code is of their own making. A lot of it is innate. Much of it comes from listening and talking to other people. Discussion leads to change of mind. For example I used to support the death penalty. Now I don’t – because I reconsidered it. Godless Mom has written a superb series of blogs on the death penalty and even if I hadn’t already gone off it, those blogs would have convinced me. As for who has influenced me, the list is long, but distinguished. From family to friends, to colleagues to strangers. Not a list of people I could possibly name individually.

      The compensation system works on a societal level, not, although we’d love it to, an individual level. Unfortunately bad things happen to good people. It’s a shame and we’d love a world where it didn’t but it does. Be good and good will come to you isn’t perfect. It’s not a 1 to 1 relationship. But on a societal level, the more people are cared for and educated and cooperative, the happier and healthier the society will be.

      As for agitating more for marriage equality, I’ve marched on the street, I’ve written to parliamentarians, and I’ve posted my views on social media and supported politicians who have shown their support.

      I wouldn’t say my position is inviolably correct. I maintain that I am willing and able to change my mind if there is evidence that comes forth that contradicts a position I hold. Of course you should be able to hold your position even if it differs to mine. I doubt I’ve ever told anyone that ‘can’t’ hold belief in a god or goddess. I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone they shouldn’t be allowed to be a believer. My position isn’t so much ‘believe what I do’ it’s far more ‘stop trying to get me to believe what you do, and stop trying to have what *you* believe influence *my* life’.

      This applies specifically to theistic belief. There’s no justification for someone’s belief in god negatively impacting my life.

      What if we’re both wrong?

      What if there *is* a goddess who deals with ‘souls’ after we’ve died. And instead of the popular image of the god who values faith, she’s a goddess who abhors faith and it’s the faithful who are punished and those who use logic and reason who are rewarded?

      Then I’m golden, and you’re screwed.

  • Phil Robinson

    Ok would it be fair to say that your thoughts on one lifetime and various other themes are to your way of thinking unarguably correct ? In other words that there is absolutely no room for error in your conception of the universe or have I once again totally missed the point. If I’ve not missed the point and you do conceive that you have the absolute truth of the matter it begins to sound exactly like the roman catholic version of papal infallibility ( an idea they seem to be evolving away from) If on the other hand I’ve got it wrong once again then where would there be in your argument room for error in your thinking?

    There is a certain irony in all this. If you had said to me at the beginning ” I don’t believe in any form of god, supreme being, higher consciousness etc but there is just the slimmest chance I might be wrong.” then the matter would have ended there.

    It’s the hubris of it that bothers me.

    The idea that because an idea appears to have it’s genesis in your own mind that it can in no way be in error.

    But then I might be wrong.

    Now as I prefaced my statements early in the piece I was not blessed with a great formal education and don’t profess to be an expert on anything but one thing I’ve learned in my longish life is that this journey on the little blue ball that we all share has many facets to it that are beyond the level of objective understanding

    I’m in no way ashamed to admit that there are things I’ll never know objectively and that the defining state of man is perpetual curiosity. The greatest comment of scientists is not eureka (I’ve found it) but rather “that’s funny”.

    As a keen amateur observer of science I’ve also learned that today’s scientific fact is tomorrow’s discarded concept. That we are in fact in a perpetual state of becoming something else — you and I are not the same as we were yesterday the changes may be subtle and minute but they are there and observable and the same goes for the rest of creation in fact if we wanted to find a definitive first law of our universe it would probably be– the law of change– nothing ever remains static it is always on the move.

    I don’t think in our entire exchange you’ve ever asked me a question.Why do suppose that might be ?

    I’d suggest that the average atheist merely disbelieves in someone else’s concept of how things are and that when they can demonstrably prove their position and have lost their fear of alternative points of view they’ll have gained some credibility.

    But then I might be wrong.

  • Phil Robinson

    Lol cute, so would it be fair to say that you do then admit that your thinking may in fact not be absolutely correct ?

    That being the case then what do you think are the probabilities that you may slightly be in error?

    If there are any possibilities of your being in error where do you think they might lie?

    You see when we posit that we cannot be in error in our objective thinking we are promoting an idea of infallibility (hmm where have we heard that before).
    I repeat where do you think they may lie (your possible errors)?

    To start with let me point out that reason and logic are only part of the thinking process , there are of course emotion and intuition as well as a universe of subjective thought that happens both below and above the threshold of our objective minds.

    Will tuck a few scientific facts in here then as you missed the other one.
    Let’s start with us then ; are you aware that in your very own body there are trillions of inhabitants which are in fact separate entities— bacteria and other folks who have for the most part our best interests at heart– and who are not of us but have a very active breeding program of their own and originally came from various places not the least of which is our mum’s vaginas and bums during the birth process itself and of course that complete food breast milk (onya mum).
    Takes about three years for us to have all our gut flora in place during which time we are a bit more vulnerable and also they have evolved with us over millions of years..

    Now they are remarkable little creatures these bacteria with a thousand times more cultural differences than us who do in fact perform many extremely useful services for us in concert— without which we soon sicken and die and all they selflessly ask is a warm wet roof over their heads and a bit of fibre to munch on. In approximately one and a half feet of colon from our arsehole or asshole ( depending on your cultural derivation) are about a trillion of the colonisers (nice pun that.)

    Biology has only recently discovered that the little buggers think! They in fact make important decisions and take appropriate actions based on those decisions and furthermore more carry on a 24/7 dialogue with our subconscious minds about the state of the nation via the vagus nerve. It has been named the gut brain. If that isn’t a level of consciousness then I don’t know how you’d define one?

    So– this is happening below the threshold of our conscious minds– we in fact have little conscious control over the processes involved other than what we shove through our gobs and our toilet habits and perhaps our exercise regime and further it’s also been shown that our gut biomes have a major role in the education of our immune systems.

    Our gut biomes are only one instance there are many other like behaviours happening throughout our bodies (google macrophages in bloodstream.) in any given instant. At this point we might pose the question; How can this be ? all these trillions of disparate entities working to a common purpose inside us –keeping us alive and kicking. Now this suggests to me a system of some sort wherein we are simply a co-operative collaboration of individual levels of consciousness. The good ship ME is in fact the good ship WE in a scientifically demonstrable way. The alternative position would be that the similarities of trillions of entities in over seven billion bodies (do the math) are working for the same end (shocking pun) keeping us alive as a result of some monumentally fortuitous coincidence. Getting a bit thin as an argument (statistically speaking).

    The above also illustrates in my humble opinion that there are many levels of consciousness within us at any time, all operating to some sort of time table and order of preference of which we are totally unaware objectively and further just keep on throwing up question after question eg. how would these bacteria etc. know what is in their best interest? for if they didn’t chaos would reign and we’d all cark it in double quick time. If you want to test this hypothesis try turning off your immune system for a week and then turning it on or stop breathing for half an hour and start again etc. Fortunately the objective mind has little influence over these for it would be bound to do something stupid.

    Scientists are perpetually talking of Laws of nature and various forces like the strong nuclear force etc. they can spout all sort of symptoms about them but little in the way of essential explanation.
    I’d like to suggest that the very use of the word law implies a lawmaker and force the implication of an energetic impulse to provoke that force. Where do they come from do you suppose?

    Well over half the population of this earth holds some sort of faith in something greater than themselves and it seems to the casual observer to sustain them in many ways—- are they all delusional do you think? Or perhaps just seeing a small part of the picture?

    I like your idea particularly of stating ironically “what if we are both wrong? “ as it speaks my position but would point out that since you have asked me either few or no questions you really have no idea what my position really is.

    Let’s take the idea a little further and propose that rather than both being wrong we are both very limited in our perspective.

    Now– evolution— it does of course always start at the level of the individual wherein a gene or gene set is born a little different from his fellows and goes on to be the progenitor of a new subspecies due to his greater success it never occurs species wide simultaneously.

    Do you think that evolution as a process existed before Darwin , Wallace and Huxley became aware of it and made it a part of their reality? I’ll take your answer as a ” duh, yes of course.”

    This illustrates very nicely that a thing or condition can have an existence without our being consciously aware of it and is just one example of many by which we are bound. Therefore intent may be there without us being aware of it.

    Have been watching Mom’s little tirade of contempt and ridicule over in twitter and would suggest that that sort of thing does little for your case— the proposition that those who disagree with you are figures for derision is a hubris and in fact a complete untruth– is it your position as well?

  • Phil Robinson

    Well Oz after our short contact I feel I might have a little bit of a handle on your character and get the impression that Mom’s little tirade of vituperation over in twitter would not set well with you.
    If I’m right –sincere commiserations.
    If I’m wrong— well just shows what a poor judge of character I am.

  • Phil Robinson

    Well Oz I suspect you’ll never read this –your a very busy man no doubt — however, believe I’ll write it any way for my own edification.
    Oz, you had me well and truly fooled, I believed you when you said you were a man of logic and reason and I mis-assessed your degree of empathy for our fellow travellers on this planet quite badly. Will need to work on that —Thanks–

    I note with interest that you’ve appointed yourself over in twitter as the arbiter of what constitutes a stupid idea so obviously your moral code allows you to deride and denigrate others for their ideas. Where could that possibly end we wonder?

    I wonder if you’ll be prepared to submit your latest offering to the same scrutiny. As arbiter run the tape measure over it so to speak .

    “Atheism is innate’ —- Mr Oz —twitter 2016—. Now we have been prepared for this by Mom stating that an idea of the nonexistence of any sort of conscious intent in the universe requires no faith whatsoever.

    Innate ? Only one of two possible explanations to that I reckon:
    A. That atheists are born with it in their dna (must ask my microbiologist relative to explore that one) ROFL or
    B. That it is an intuitive notion which has popped into the mind unbidden and not the result of well considered reason and logic . No hang on there could be third.
    C. That it is a divinely inspired idea designed to throw you of the track Lol how very diabolical that would be.

    I’ll go for B. I think — Now because it requires no faith (confidence, trust or belief) so to think we are left with the proposition that our common or garden variety atheist gained his inspiration for his philosophy as an intuitive insight coming no doubt from the very depths of his unconscious mind and which (according to Mom) requires no confidence trust or belief How we doing so far on the richter stupidity scale?

    Now because neither of us (according to you) can provide proof on the matter either way it immediately diminishes to no more than an opinion. As an opinion I find I can respect it (really have no stomach for calling peoples ideas stupid) but as a basis for living the rest of my life, sorry it’s totally inadequate.

    It’s not too late to recant on the innate business but you’ll have to face the consequences Lol.

    The thing about the atheistic idea is in my humble opinion is that it requires a lowering of our sights, a narrowing of perspective and the complete demolition of hope. It pays no credence to higher levels of consciousness and regards our narrow objective minds as the epitome of higher thought.

    In conclusion try this on for size . If I were to say to you the word– mouse– we could could be fairly sure that we’d have a common idea of what was meant and that it was then an illustration of human intelligence .So a simple word denotes intelligence would you agree? I’ll assume you agree.

    You and I are the net result of a word over a trillion letters long constructed from an alphabet of just four letters GCTA arranged in a myriad of combinations .
    Would you have us believe that a five letter word denotes intelligence but a trillion letter word does not?

    • MrOzAtheist

      Hi Phil.

      Didn’t realise you were the same guy from twitter. I had to go searching for my ‘innate’ tweet to see what you were talking about and saw that it was ‘Phil’ that I said it too.

      Okay, you’ve made quite the long post there so I’m going to address it point by point.

      “Oz, you had me well and truly fooled, I believed you when you said you were a man of logic and reason and I mis-assessed your degree of empathy for our fellow travellers on this planet quite badly. Will need to work on that —Thanks–”

      I’ve not idea how you can make this assessment of me based on a few tweets and a short comments discussion. I certainly am a man of logic and reason and I don’t think I’ve said or done anything that should change that. As for my degree of empathy for ‘our fellow travellers on this planet’…we’ve never discussed along these lines that I can recall. What did I say to make you jump to this conclusion?

      “I note with interest that you’ve appointed yourself over in twitter as the arbiter of what constitutes a stupid idea so obviously your moral code allows you to deride and denigrate others for their ideas. Where could that possibly end we wonder?”

      I’ve not appointed myself arbiter, I only comment as I see things to comment on. I don’t think I spend much time deride or denigrating others for their ideas. I try to stay focused on the idea itself, rather than the person posting it. I do think that any idea publicly vocalised can be publicly questioned and publicly shamed. Perhaps I do call the odd person an idiot or moron on occasion, though I do try not to. I know it’s my choice to interact with, shall we say, not the brightest people, but it does get frustrating dealing with these people.

      This whole section:
      “”Atheism is innate’ —- Mr Oz —twitter 2016—. Now we have been prepared for this by Mom stating that an idea of the nonexistence of any sort of conscious intent in the universe requires no faith whatsoever.

      Innate ? Only one of two possible explanations to that I reckon:
      A. That atheists are born with it in their dna (must ask my microbiologist relative to explore that one) ROFL or
      B. That it is an intuitive notion which has popped into the mind unbidden and not the result of well considered reason and logic . No hang on there could be third.
      C. That it is a divinely inspired idea designed to throw you of the track Lol how very diabolical that would be.

      I’ll go for B. I think — Now because it requires no faith (confidence, trust or belief) so to think we are left with the proposition that our common or garden variety atheist gained his inspiration for his philosophy as an intuitive insight coming no doubt from the very depths of his unconscious mind and which (according to Mom) requires no confidence trust or belief How we doing so far on the richter stupidity scale?

      Now because neither of us (according to you) can provide proof on the matter either way it immediately diminishes to no more than an opinion. As an opinion I find I can respect it (really have no stomach for calling peoples ideas stupid) but as a basis for living the rest of my life, sorry it’s totally inadequate.

      It’s not too late to recant on the innate business but you’ll have to face the consequences Lol”

      Is null and void because I didn’t say atheism is innate. I said accepting what we perceive as reality is innate.

      “The thing about the atheistic idea is in my humble opinion is that it requires a lowering of our sights, a narrowing of perspective and the complete demolition of hope. It pays no credence to higher levels of consciousness and regards our narrow objective minds as the epitome of higher thought.”

      I don’t see it light that. We operate all day every day because accepting that which is demonstrated as true (or at least where the evidence seems believable or where the consequences of acceptance don’t matter so much – it’s too complicated to get into here). Why would/should we change this up when it comes to the question of how the universe came to be in the state that it is? When we guessed with lightning or earthquakes or tides or any other phenomenon, we got it wrong. 100% of the time we got it wrong. God/magic has *never* been the verified answer to anything and has only ever been shown to be wrong when we’ve found the actual answer. So why people default to ‘god did it’ for the universe is beyond me. As for hope….well, I don’t get how you think atheism is the complete demolition of hope. I hope for any number of things. I hope people stop being so stupid as to believe in god, for starters. I hope for happiness for all people, I hope for equality and fairness, I hope we cure disease, and end poverty and hunger, I hope I get to meet Godless Mom in person one day. I hope for SO many things. To say that atheism is the complete demolition of hope is demonstrably untrue.

      Your DNA analogy is false. There are exactly zero letters in DNA. We make observations of DNA and assign letters to those observations in order to help us analyse and understand it. There are no actual letters and unlike what Ray Comfort seems to think, DNA is not an actual book.

      It’s funny that you say this though because it perfectly demonstrates the flaw with the ‘God of the gaps’ argument. We used to not be able to explain, well, anything really, naturally. Back in the day God was responsible for literally everything ‘as is’. But as we developed methods of inquiry and methods of investigation we found answers existed that weren’t ‘God did it’. We know now how galaxies, stars, planets form. We know that humans (with all other life forms) evolved. We know what causes earthquakes. We know we no longer need to throw virgins into volcanoes to appease the god within.

      So your argument is the EXACT same argument that had people believing that Zeus was throwing lightning bolts from atop Mt Olympus – you don’t understand how DNA came about, so God must have done it. It’s weak. It’s illogical. And given that it’s never *once* been shown to be true, why would anyone think it must be true for DNA?

  • Phil Robinson

    Well Oz I won’t take issue with what you said about innate — in the end it really doesn’t matter that much because I suspect we are both strong minded enough not to alter our position anyway . However my point was that to hold the point that something is true one must believe it to be so. If that is not so – can you explain why or better yet how? Can you in fact proclaim to have veracity without believing it or having faith in it? Do you see yourself as on a mission so to speak to enlighten the world and if so have you considered the end game i.e. how your thinking will improve the world?
    Or is your entire stance just a defence against those misguided folks who think differently and try to inflict it on you.

    As I look about I see well over half the population of this planet who believe in something greater than themselves and they certainly seem for the most part to derive some comfort and yes joy from it. Do you think they are all delusional? Or just that their personal realities are distorted and need correcting? And are you happy to take that comfort and joy from them with complete confidence that your particular version of reality is demonstrably correct— sounds a little dangerous to me.

    Ah, you have to engage with people less intellectually endowed than yourself– poor you lol– and your moral code sees it as ok to apply a little scorn upon them for being so audacious as to think differently from yourself ? —- I though there were laws against that in Aus. Bit like throwing stones at the lepers eh?

    With your indulgence Let’s chat for a minute about Sir Isaac Newton, arguably the father of physics as we know it today.
    Newton was a believer you know but a believer unlike you or I have ever met. He inhabited a rarefied intellectual atmosphere of undiluted brilliance much of it enhanced by a well developed intuition. Intuition can be developed—– initially we always suspect it and generally override it with reason but when well developed and trusted it’s rarely if ever wrong. He also had a few typically human failings lol.

    Like fellow scientists of his day he became scientific– by expecting law in nature— because he believed in a law maker. So we see that the midwife at the birth of modern physics was actually a strong belief in something greater than himself.

    His third law of motion is interesting and we might pose the question; what if it extends a bit further than the merely physical—as an extrapolation from that, what if we could say then because both forces are always equal it appears that the universe is continually searching for equilibrium.

    We could if we interpose that to human affairs and speculate that even if we can’t see it there could be a sort of balance between forces such as good and evil, hate and love, self-possession and empathy, hubris and humility etc.
    If we accept that as a premise then we are forced to ask why it would be like that. One take on it would be that there is no way we could even understand what good is without the counterpoint of evil and so on. As Einstein found you can’t measure without a point of reference.

    There can be no argument to a rational mind that the striving for good as we perceive it is a noble thing but of course there are so many different interpretations of what constitutes good. However reason can come to our aid there and has over the eons wherein we’ve been able to establish some guidelines, many of which were instigated by people of firm belief of one kind or another.

    However in later years this conversation about good and evil and conscious intent in the universe has been hijacked by vested interests on both sides with their own barrows to push. In the case of religion they’ve tended toward simplistic explanations within the confines of the vocabularies available to them at the time and of course personal power agendas.

    This conversation is fraught with ironies— are you aware that Laurence Krause, notable physicist and one of the holy trinity of atheism believes in creation. He prefaces his statements on the beginning of the universe with words the equivalent of “ —-“In the beginning was a void” or nothingness .
    Where he disagrees with Genesis is simply just that there was any conscious intent behind the beginning. His suggestion is that it spontaneously popped into existence for no reason at all and that sounds just like a creation story to me.

    Now I’d like to suggest just popping into existence is not a realistic proposition as it completely defies the laws of physics without acknowledging that there was at least within that void the potential for it to occur which then of course begs the question – where why and how this potential.

    Now I’ll agree that genesis is simplistic in the extreme but you have to remember who their target audience was and the limitations of their vocabulary. They knew nothing of string theory, superstring theory or m theory etc. and yet some among them along the way were able to divine intuitively that the universe is vibrational in nature which is pretty much where quantum physics is heading now.

    Of course dna isn’t literally a word but the letters are symbolic of a particular set of conditions which replicate for most part exactly the same all the time and produce the same result time after time. That looks remarkably like a law if you ask me– seven billion repetitions should be a fair case study. Or did it spontaneously pop into existence for no reason do you think?

    Ok I reckon we’re just about done you and I. I won’t change your mind and you won’t change mine
    However it probably gave us a chance to sharpen our respective points of view.
    In conclusion I’ve one last question; you continually say that no one can give you proof . Have you ever considered what that proof would need to be? Would it have to be miraculous in form? That is to say a temporary suspension of the laws of physics or nature. If it would then I can unequivocally say that it will never happen for the simple reason that you and I are just not that important in the cosmic scheme of things. And yet conversely and paradoxically in my version of reality we are vitally important. However I don’t feel obliged to offer any proof at all . I’ve proved it adequately to myself . If you require it you’ll need to find it yourself or not as you see fit and therein shall lie your destiny.

  • Phil Robinson

    Hi Oz , have actually invested some time in introspection over our entire conversation and have by dint of some intuitive insights come up with the following, this is however just my opinion nothing more.
    If your philosophy/world view / ideology in fact whatever you choose to call it provides you with some comfort in the face of life’s vicissitudes and if it gives you a little joy then I’ve found that I can be genuinely and sincerely happy for you. The rights and wrongs of it pale to insignificance where the rubber meets the road —does it get the job done? That’s what really matters. If yours does then congratulations.
    If it does not then there are always other ways to skin a cat.

    For my own part, my views have been accentuated by contact with some genuinely inspired minds and have spent about 45 years studying what they had to say and for me it’s been most beneficial in ways I could never have imagined at the beginning. To put a fine point on it, it has been very successful for me.

    I proffer this bit of myself for no other reason than to point out that what one believes about the way we came to be here etc. (as you’ve pointed out) does not necessarily need to be a determinant in whether one can lead a good, useful and moral life.

    Can you be happy for me as well? Or are you completely indifferent?

    Not too bad for an idiotic kid who didn’t finish high school I reckon.

  • Phil Robinson

    “The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.” ~Albert Einstein

    • MrOzAtheist

      Lovely quote. I agree, we keep pursuing knowledge as our curiosity takes us there. What we should avoid is assigning an answer which we cannot know, nor verify to be true. That doesn’t mean to avoid speculation, that’s what drives us.

      • Phil Robinson

        So by extension my speculation is equally as valid as yours and therefore you may well be entirely wrong?

  • Phil Robinson

    Artificial life .
    Here’s a little one to ponder on Oz …. Top biologists are working diligently to attempt to create artificial or synthetic life…their words not mine….. (Which I reckon they will probably be unable to achieve anytime soon)…can we agree that to do so would require conscious intent on the behalf of the biologists.
    So synthetic life requires conscious intent but ordinary life as we know it doesn’t hmmm what logical conclusions can we draw from that?

    Surely if the commencement of life could happen spontaneously rather than according to a set of laws we’d be seeing it happen all over the place.

  • Phil Robinson

    Here’s another little question you’ll probably ignore and the answer should not include the word life: Two bodies lying side by side one is dead and the other is not ….what’s missing from the dead one?

  • Phil Robinson

    Ok Oz I believe I’ll take you at your word “What we should avoid is assigning an answer which we cannot know, nor verify to be true.”

    Therefore anything you or Mom would have us believe should be empirically verifiable.
    Have seen nothing so far that would lead me to that conclusion. Still waiting…….

    Is it the intention of you both to gain converts to your point of view and if so can you explain what are the practical benefits of a disbelief in some sort of primal cause. How can it help us through the vicissitudes of everyday life? Or is it just that it gives a warm fuzzy glow to know that you have the truth of it (unverifiable in any way).

    Are you familiar with a current concept of …The half-life of facts… wherein it has been shown that that a great part of what we regard as fact today will in a few or more years actually be discredited …kind of makes it a bit harder to find indisputable truths don’t you think?

    For example The big bang theory is starting to run into a few problems fact wise …to the point where they have a newer idea called the great expansion which is predicated on a thing called red shift as was big bang ,only trouble is from our point of view here on earth is that the vast majority of galaxies we can see are doing it (red shifting) and very few are blue shifting (it’s opposite) so we must conclude from that that almost everything we see in the observable universe is accelerating away from us . Hmmm then that would mean that our humble little planet is somewhere near the exact centre of the universe, sort of makes you feel a bit special don’t it?
    The one major problem with the theory is that it requires the complete negation of the laws of physics

  • Phil Robinson

    Atheist: A human who would have us believe that by using the two human attributes of reason and rationality he can demonstrate the unreasonableness and irrationality of this universal existence.
    Delicious in its irony and somehow childishly endearing in its naivety.