Clinging to the Crutch of Make-believe Meaning

As a quick primer, please read this com­ment. In it, Andy Bird sug­gests that — giv­en a Dar­win­ian ori­gin of man — we “don’t have to accept [mean­ing­less­ness] as con­scious beings.”

Wait, what?

On the one hand, Mr. Bird wants to teach that the exis­tence of man is owed to evo­lu­tion­ary processes.
On the oth­er hand, Mr. Bird does not want to accept the nihilism which is inher­ent in Dar­win­ian the­o­ry and says that we do not have to accept it, that we are free to invent mean­ing and to cling to it.

Or, to look at it anoth­er way:

On the one hand, Mr. Bird embraces science.
On the oth­er hand, Mr. Bird embraces irrationalism.

If every­thing is mean­ing­less and all exis­tence is owed to a sin­gu­lar­i­ty which some­how one day just hap­pened to explode into sev­er­al gajil­lion tons of mat­ter and untold amounts of ener­gy … if all of exis­tence comes down to that, the only val­ue any­thing can have is that which must be giv­en to it by, well, us.

But we would be mean­ing­less as well; can a mean­ing­less enti­ty ascribe mean­ing to some­thing else? To itself?

Any mean­ing clung to by those who believe in a whol­ly nat­ur­al Dar­win­ian ori­gin of man is van­i­ty. Indeed, they are deceiv­ing them­selves if they think that any­thing — them­selves, their friends, their chil­dren, fam­i­ly, and so on — has mean­ing. And I thought the reli­gious were sup­posed to be the crazies.

Won­der­ful­ly, I know that there is mean­ing. I know that I, as a human, have untold val­ue and worth, sim­ply by virtue of the fact that I was made in God’s image. Apart from Him, I am mean­ing­less — I’m a bunch of clay and dust, not real­ly amount­ing to much of any­thing — but God val­ues us. And because He exists, I know that every lit­tle thing I do will have some mean­ing in eternity.

If believ­ing in a God who invites us to “taste” Him to see whether He is good or not, who acts upon our hearts, and who opens our eyes to so much more than before we believed … if all that is a crutch, then how much more of a crutch is imag­ined mean­ing, clung to only to help those through life who reject God but are unable to come to grips with the nihilism which must ulti­mate­ly be grap­pled with.

31 thoughts on “Clinging to the Crutch of Make-believe Meaning”

  1. I’m sor­ry, and with all due respect, but from any objec­tive view­point, you are doing exact­ly what Mr. Bird does.

    Except you deny the phys­i­cal evi­dence of the uni­verse in which we live.

  2. If any­thing exists at all, then God (in some form or anoth­er) must exist. The uni­verse is inca­pable of cre­at­ing itself (it would have to already exist in order to per­form the action of cre­at­ing itself), nor would the Big Bang be capa­ble of caus­ing itself (objects at rest remain at rest unless act­ed upon by an out­side force). There must be an unmoved Mover, an uncaused Cause.

    Of course, that heav­i­ly depends on whether or not any­thing exists at all. Descartes fig­ured that out for us, though, when he came to the con­clu­sion Cog­i­to ergo sum, or “I think; there­fore, I am.” I can doubt my exis­tence, but that doubt requires a doubter, the thought a thinker. So, I exist because I can doubt, because I can think. If I exist, it’s only a mat­ter of fol­low­ing the philo­soph­i­cal trail down the line until one is left with no oth­er option than the exis­tence of God.

    [edit to add] Inci­den­tal­ly, if God does not exist and every­thing is mean­ing­less, why does any­one con­tin­ue lis­ten­ing to evo­lu­tion­ists? It is, accord­ing to their own world view, mean­ing­less and of no val­ue unless they deceive them­selves into imag­in­ing some kind of worth, first for them­selves and then for the argu­ments they posit.

  3. “If any­thing exists at all, then God (in some form or anoth­er) must exist…There must be an unmoved Mover, an uncaused Cause.”

    This rea­son­ing is just anoth­er way of say­ing the speak­er can­not imag­ine eter­ni­ty. Why can not the uni­verse have always existed???

    “nor would the Big Bang be capa­ble of caus­ing itself (objects at rest remain at rest unless act­ed upon by an out­side force)”

    It is not clear that the “laws” of the uni­verse were nec­es­sar­i­ly in force pri­or to the big bang. If one finds god at this moment in his­to­ry, I have no argu­ment. Also, if the laws of the uni­verse did apply, I’m not clear that the pres­sure that would exist at the cen­ter of the sin­gu­lar­i­ty would­n’t cause the object to not be at “rest” (all that ener­gy at the center).

    “It is, accord­ing to their own world view, mean­ing­less and of no val­ue unless they deceive them­selves into imag­in­ing some kind of worth, first for them­selves and then for the argu­ments they posit.”

    I don’t ful­ly under­stand the insis­tence that evo­lu­tion per force requires exis­tence to be meaningless.

    I have nev­er felt my exis­tence to be mean­ing­less. Or, more accu­rate­ly, pur­pose­less. If I am “deceiv­ing myself into imag­in­ing some kind of worth”, I am doing it no more so than you are.

    And, again, I do not need to deny the phys­i­cal evi­dence of the uni­verse in which we live to find my purpose.

  4. You’re accus­ing a Chris­t­ian who believes in not only an eter­nal God as not being able to imag­ine eter­ni­ty? The con­cept of eter­ni­ty is by no means strange to me.

    You say that the law of iner­tia does­n’t pre­clude the Big Bang’s occur­rence, but based upon what? Unfound­ed spec­u­la­tion to sup­port pre­con­ceived cos­mo­log­i­cal ideas? How is that any less “deny­ing the phys­i­cal evi­dence of the uni­verse in which we live” than what Chris­tians sup­pos­ed­ly do?

    If the Big Bang is what we must believe in, what caused it? Why did it hap­pen 15 bil­lion years ago rather than a few googol years ago?

    If the Big Bang was the explo­sion of a sin­gu­lar­i­ty con­tain­ing all mat­ter & ener­gy, why would­n’t the known phys­i­cal laws apply to it? After all, grav­i­ty was in effect. Why would­n’t inertia?

    Fur­ther, you state that evo­lu­tion does­n’t nec­es­sar­i­ly require nihilism. How­ev­er, if evo­lu­tion is true and if the world oper­ates only accord­ing to nat­u­ral­is­tic prin­ci­ples and if the inter­ven­tion of super­nat­ur­al beings is pre­clud­ed, who or what decides what is mean­ing­ful? There are peo­ple out there claim­ing the earth is to be val­ued and peo­ple are a virus that needs wiped out — or at least severe­ly lim­it­ed. (Those same peo­ple para­dox­i­cal­ly don’t com­mit sui­cide, which leads me to ques­tion their sin­cer­i­ty, but I digress…)

    If the only point that a supreme being can be appealed to is the uncaused cause of the Big Bang, does that nec­es­sar­i­ly give us val­ue? We’re still cos­mo­log­i­cal acci­dents, and if we were planned for, we would­n’t know it. Buried in a yard apart from human­i­ty, a dia­mond has no worth — worms won’t care, ani­mals won’t care, the dirt won’t care, not even the dia­mond will care. It’s val­ue is extrin­sic, applied to it by us. Like­wise, if we are to have val­ue, from where does it come? Our­selves? If we are free to assign our own val­ues, then we are free to say we are more valu­able than oth­ers. We are free to believe oth­ers have no val­ue, that we are of infi­nite val­ue. And so on.

    Can such val­ue, if there is no objec­tive scale, real­ly be said to be mean­ing­ful, when such abus­es of it are per­fect­ly jus­ti­fied by virtue of the fact they aren’t devi­at­ing from an objec­tive norm?

    I know you’ve nev­er felt your exis­tence to be mean­ing­less. Most humans feel the same way. We know and under­stand val­ue and mean­ing because we were cre­at­ed by and in the image of a mean­ing­ful God.

    Final­ly, I do not think I am deny­ing the phys­i­cal evi­dence when I say that I believe in a God who is both imma­nent and tran­scen­dent, that I find mean­ing and pur­pose because of Him.

  5. “You say that the law of iner­tia doesn’t pre­clude the Big Bang’s occur­rence, but based upon what?”

    If we assume that the laws apply, then grav­i­ty func­tions and the mid­dle of the sin­gu­lar­i­ty would be under extreme pres­sure and, so, extreme­ly high tem­per­a­ture. This is not a descrip­tion of an object at rest.

    If we assume that the laws do not apply, then any­thing is possible.

    “If the Big Bang was the explo­sion of a sin­gu­lar­i­ty con­tain­ing all mat­ter & ener­gy, why wouldn’t the known phys­i­cal laws apply to it?”

    It is not estab­lished that the laws applied to it. It is pos­si­ble that sci­ence will, at some future date, estab­lish that they did. But as it stands right now (or as of the date of pub­li­ca­tion of the last thing I read on the sub­ject), sci­ence can only estab­lish that the laws apply back to a few nanosec­onds after the actu­al bang. So, of course, from that moment on back, sci­ence is only speculating.

    “How­ev­er, if evo­lu­tion is true and if the world oper­ates only accord­ing to nat­u­ral­is­tic prin­ci­ples and if the inter­ven­tion of super­nat­ur­al beings is pre­clud­ed, who or what decides what is meaningful?”

    Every­one decides for them­selves. Which is, of course, exact­ly what every­one does.

    “We’re still cos­mo­log­i­cal accidents”

    No, we are not. The uni­verse is struc­tured in such a way that we are inevitable. In that first sec­ond after the big bang, the laws exist. When two oxy­gen atoms come in prox­im­i­ty with a hydro­gen atom under the prop­er cir­cum­stances, water will exist. This was true before oxy­gen existed.

    In the same way, if any of a near­ly num­ber­less com­bi­na­tions of cer­tain amino acids comes togeth­er in the right cir­cum­stances, then the bear­er has a giv­en trait.**

    Life is not an acci­dent. We are not an acci­dent. We are inevitable (although it can be argued that it was not inevitable that we look just this way).

    “Like­wise, if we are to have val­ue, from where does it come? Our­selves? If we are free to assign our own val­ues, then we are free to say we are more valu­able than oth­ers. We are free to believe oth­ers have no val­ue, that we are of infi­nite val­ue. And so on.”

    Seems like this pret­ty much describes the actu­al sit­u­a­tion. Every­one deter­mines for them­selves how much val­ue they have. Some think they have none and com­mit sui­cide and oth­ers believe their val­ue exceeds that of every­one else and so no one likes them. Most of us believe we are of equal value.

    “Can such val­ue, if there is no objec­tive scale, real­ly be said to be mean­ing­ful, when such abus­es of it are per­fect­ly jus­ti­fied by virtue of the fact they aren’t devi­at­ing from an objec­tive norm?”

    I find it it mean­ing­ful in my way.

    “We know and under­stand val­ue and mean­ing because we were cre­at­ed by and in the image of a mean­ing­ful God.”

    And you fine it mean­ing­ful in your way.

    “I do not think I am deny­ing the phys­i­cal evi­dence when I say that I believe in a God who is both imma­nent and tran­scen­dent, that I find mean­ing and pur­pose because of Him.”

    That state­ment of belief may not require a denial of phys­i­cal real­i­ty, but we both know that that state­ment does not con­sti­tute the full extent of your beliefs.

    ** This para­graph was edit­ed. I had start­ed it talk­ing in gen­er­al­i­ties and end­ed it specif­i­cal­ly, so I edit­ed it to end in a generality.

  6. Okay, so if we all just estab­lish our own mean­ing, why not just admit mean­ing is mean­ing­less? If I can’t know for sure accord­ing to some objec­tive stan­dard out­side myself that what I believe is true, then what­ev­er truth I ascribe to it would be ulti­mate­ly futile. Dit­to what­ev­er mean­ing you come up with, what­ev­er mean­ing Richard Dawkins imag­ines, and so on (and we don’t all need to be named “Richard” for that to hold true, either).

    If rel­a­tivism is the accept­ed norm, nihilism is the truth and every­one else is devi­at­ing there­from. In oth­er words, every­one would be guilty of hav­ing crutch­es which make life worth liv­ing, not just the reli­gious and cer­tain­ly not just Christians.

    Also, you’ve men­tioned before that you believe we’re inevitable. If I slip a coin a cer­tain amount of times, it isn’t chance which deter­mines how often it lands on heads; rather, a myr­i­ad of fac­tors — includ­ing atmos­pher­ic den­si­ty, force of the flip, start­ing state (heads or tales), start­ing height, and so on. Under con­trolled con­di­tions, heads could be achieved with a 100% rate. “Chance” indeed is illu­so­ry and should be count­ed as valid as luck. I won’t deny that the odds of some­thing hap­pen­ing can be measured.

    So, giv­en the many dif­fer­ent pos­si­ble ways for mat­ter to expand after the Big Bang, it hap­pened in a cer­tain way which ulti­mate­ly led to the exis­tence of life on earth. That it hap­pened does not cre­ate pur­pose — and if it did, it would­n’t ascribe to us any more mean­ing than any­thing else in the uni­verse — what­ev­er degree of spe­cial­ness we per­ceive is imag­ined as there is no tran­scen­dent being ascrib­ing to cer­tain things more val­ue than others.

    In oth­er words, there’s no way to know I have any more val­ue than a piece of sand.

    Final­ly, per the ini­tial sin­gu­lar­i­ty… Would there be a dif­fer­ence between it and a black hole? The more mat­ter a black hole con­tains, the cool­er it is. “All mat­ter” would cer­tain­ly make for a cold black hole. Unable to “feed” on more mat­ter (what else would there be?), the black hole slow­ly evap­o­rates by giv­ing off radi­a­tion, shrink­ing in size, and get­ting hot­ter and hot­ter, even­tu­al­ly evap­o­rat­ing com­plete­ly in a burst of gam­ma rays.

    But the ini­tial sin­gu­lar­i­ty explod­ed into mat­ter? How?

    Reminds me of the space-sav­ing stor­age bags on TV. Suck all the air out to store the stuff, then open it up and wow, your clothes come right back to their orig­i­nal size. :)

  7. I was going to say the same as senior..

    What is the dif­fer­ence from your under­stand­ing of mean­ing and mine? You have invent­ed a whole host of things to believe in and give mean­ing to in and so have I. What is the difference?

    I think it would use­ful to look at the two view points.

    We both look at the world around us and look for mean­ing. It is a nat­ur­al thing to do.

    Now you have looked around and either due to the fam­i­ly / cul­ture you were born into or due to some psy­cho­log­i­cal expe­ri­ence you decid­ed that of all the gods to chose from you chose the Chris­t­ian mythol­o­gy with all it entails. (you could have cho­sen any of the oth­er pan­theons.. allah.. brah­ma.. zeus.. odin.. but you decid­ed to be athe­ist about those gods and not the chris­t­ian variety)

    With all the trap­pings of the Chris­t­ian bag­gage comes the old and new tes­ta­ments. I notice from your post­ings that you seem to hold the old tes­ta­ment to be true. Now for­get for the moment that the old tes­ta­ment is full of some of the most hideous and atro­cious exam­ples of behav­iour ever com­mit­ted to wit­ting (mas­sacre of the 1st born, mas­sacre of the rev­ellers at the floor of mount Sinai, sac­ri­fice of daugh­ters to the mob to save a guest from a good rodger­ing etc) and con­tra­dicts itself reg­u­lar­ly (the 1st 2 chap­ters of gen­e­sis for exam­plle with 2 com­plete con­tra­dic­to­ry accounts of cre­ation!) but dont let this stop you tak­ing it as your moral com­pass. So you sim­ply read the book and decide that this gives you mean­ing. As time goes on I guess you also had some spooky coin­ci­dences that you attribute to divine inter­ven­tion (per­haps you prayed for some­one and they got bet­ter and per­haps a few oth­er psy­cho­log­i­cal experiences.

    From this jum­ble of inputs you pull mean­ing. Mean­ing based on writ­tings from long dead peo­ple with very lim­it­ed under­stand­ing of the world around them.

    On the oth­er hand the athe­ist looks at the world and uses rea­son­ing to best deduce how we got here. Our under­stand­ing is not per­fect and we hope it gets bet­ter. We are always open to the pos­si­bil­i­ty that we are wrong and this is a trilling pos­si­bil­i­ty. We look at the world and all its glo­ry and intri­ca­cies and we don’t explain this mag­nif­i­cence away as the work of a giant sky fairy. It is more mag­nif­i­cent as it has evolved over mil­lions of years and not at the click of a super­nat­ur­al enti­ties fingers.

    We find our­selves as a dom­i­nant species on a plan­et. We can tell that we have clear­ly evolved from oth­er species some of which are extinct (I guess god did not make them very well). We are aware and con­scious in a way that no oth­er ani­mal on the plan­et appears to be. You make the claim that this leads to a nihilis­tic con­clu­sion. Well, as a ratio­nal think­ing thing that is up to you. Per­son­al­ly, I see it as an amaz­ing, unique oppor­tu­ni­ty for our species to make the world in any man­ner we see fit. We can coop­er­ate and work togeth­er for a bet­ter pros­per­ous future or we can destroy and exter­mi­nate (like they do in the old tes­ta­ment.) It is up to us. There is noth­ing else. Live with it.

    You can invent any myth you like. I just wish you would pick one that was at least a nice myth with less killing.

    The mean­ing we attribute is more impor­tant because it is our deci­sion and the from some ancient book in much the same way that it is moral­ly bet­ter to do right because you have decid­ed that it is the right thing to do and not in fear of divine punishment.

    Run­ning out of time — had best post this..

  8. “so if we all just estab­lish our own mean­ing, why not just admit mean­ing is mean­ing­less? If I can’t know for sure accord­ing to some objec­tive stan­dard out­side myself that what I believe is true, then what­ev­er truth I ascribe to it would be ulti­mate­ly futile…If rel­a­tivism is the accept­ed norm, nihilism is the truth”

    But WHY do we all estab­lish our own mean­ing?? It MAY be because the evolved uni­verse bestows no mean­ing upon us, so we have to make it up. Or it MAY be because the true mean­ing isn’t knowable.

    And what of the fact that the vast major­i­ty of peo­ple look for mean­ing? And that the vast major­i­ty of peo­ple FIND it (at least for themselves)??

    Just because we can­not show what the mean­ing is, just because we can­not prove that there is any mean­ing at all, it does not fol­low that nihilism is the truth. It does not fol­low that there is no meaning.

    I guess you can argue that if it is unknow­able that that is the same as not exist­ing. But just because it is unknow­able, that does­n’t mean it isn’t guess­able. And this is what peo­ple do. We guess. We search and think and dis­cuss until we find the mean­ing that we think works. And for mil­lions, this is very suc­cess­ful. Some find Chris­tian­i­ty, some Bud­dhism, some The­ism, some their own lit­tle versions.

    There are count­less peo­ple believ­ing dif­fer­ent things with equal suc­cess. You find com­plete ful­fill­ment in your beliefs, but the truth is that many peo­ple find equal­ly com­plete ful­fill­ment in com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent beliefs.

    “That it hap­pened does not cre­ate pur­pose – and if it did, it wouldn’t ascribe to us any more mean­ing than any­thing else in the uni­verse – what­ev­er degree of spe­cial­ness we per­ceive is imag­ined as there is no tran­scen­dent being ascrib­ing to cer­tain things more val­ue than others.

    In oth­er words, there’s no way to know I have any more val­ue than a piece of sand.”

    Real­ly??? You can go to the beach and run hand­fuls of sand between your fin­gers and per­ceive that each grain of sand is as “valu­able” as you are if there is no god???

    This strikes me as delib­er­ate­ly obtuse. You are obvi­ous­ly much more com­plex and sophis­ti­cat­ed. You have motive. You can think! You can communicate!

    This is cause for con­cern that you need a God to estab­lish that you are more valu­able than a grain of sand.

    As to the sin­gu­lar­i­ty. Again, sci­ence does­n’t know. I’m sure I don’t know. His­tor­i­cal­ly, this is where peo­ple find god…in the places that are not explain­able. So, until the sin­gu­lar­i­ty is explained, if ever, it seems a rea­son­able place to find god.

    As to black holes, I don’t know that much about them. I would only point out that mat­ter and ener­gy can­not be destroyed but can be con­vert­ed into each other.

  9. Andy, you write:

    “Now you have looked around and either due to the fam­i­ly / cul­ture you were born into or due to some psy­cho­log­i­cal expe­ri­ence you decid­ed that of all the gods to chose from you chose the Chris­t­ian mythol­o­gy with all it entails.”

    Or, due to God’s sav­ing grace, Rick, and every oth­er Chris­t­ian, chose God. How con­ve­nient that you left that one out. Of course, you would have to affirm God’s exis­tence in order to go that option, but since you deem it unwor­thy of con­sid­er­a­tion, you pass over it.

    And, for clar­i­fi­ca­tion, just because Rick accepts God, does­n’t mean he accepts “all [Chris­tian­i­ty] entails.” I would assume that you, of all peo­ple, would know not to make generalizations.

  10. My point is that if Rick had been born in India, Iran etc he would not have been a christian.

    as for gods sav­ing grace you seem to imply that god decides who he is going to give this too and damn the rest. seems a lit­tle harsh to me.

    i have stud­ied reli­gion / the­ol­o­gy for years and am quite sure that there is no god. if i woke up one day to find a neon sign paint­ed over the sky and signed by god then i would hap­pi­ly accept that i was wrong.

    One of the biggest prob­lems i think Chris­tians (or any­one who believes in a per­son­al god) has is the prob­lem of evil. i have not seen a sin­gle sat­is­fac­to­ry expla­na­tion. More impor­tant­ly I think the death of infants is the main hole in Chris­t­ian the­ol­o­gy. If you believe that you have been put in earth to exer­cise your free will and love god and if you do good you will be reward­ed and if you do bad you will be pun­ished. This is all well and good except in the case of infants. It is clear­ly not fair by any stretch of the imag­i­na­tion that some­one who lives hours / weeks or even a few years is to be treat­ed in the same way as those who live a life time. For this sys­tem to be fair every­one should have an equal chance to do the right thing. This clear­ly is not the case and the whole sys­tem if flawed. A god should be be capa­ble of pro­duc­ing a flawed system.

  11. Wow, lots to reply to. :) Awe­some. I’m going to hold off for a day or two, just to col­lect my thoughts and let my sleep sched­ule return to nor­mal from work­ing a week of overnights.

    That said, Andy, you said you stud­ied the­ol­o­gy? I ques­tion how sin­cere or thor­ough you were in those stud­ies — the “prob­lem of evil” and the appar­ent con­tra­dic­tion of Gen­e­sis 1 and 2 are very eas­i­ly resolved.

    The prob­lem of evil is answered by sin. The prob­lem of infant deaths is answered else­where, so for­give me for not rein­vent­ing the wheel on that one.

    Gen­e­sis 2 is sim­ply a more detailed account, focus­ing in on those things which are more rel­e­vant to man than the gen­er­al­ized 7‑day overview of Gen­e­sis 1. Indeed, such overview pours over into chap­ter 2, as seen in vers­es 1–3. Then Moses shift­ed focus — God blessed the sab­bath and rest­ed, he tells us, then pro­ceeds to explain in detail “the account of the heav­ens and the earth when they were cre­at­ed” — how that God brought forth plants, made a man, placed him in a gar­den, and so on. A lit­tle more elsewhere.

    Oh, and one last thing, had I been born in anoth­er coun­try, if I was still one of God’s elect, then yes, I would have become a Chris­t­ian. All those who the Father gives to Christ will come to Him, wher­ev­er they may be. That’s basic teach­ing from John 6.

  12. “That said, Andy, you said you stud­ied the­ol­o­gy? I ques­tion how sin­cere or thor­ough you were in those stud­ies – the “prob­lem of evil” and the appar­ent con­tra­dic­tion of Gen­e­sis 1 and 2 are very eas­i­ly resolved.”

    sin­cere? as i said in the last post i have nev­er come across a sin­gle expla­na­tion for the prob­lem of evil which was not a naïve cop out. ‘sin’ is a naïve cop out. (as is the con­tra­dic­tion link you sent ” They did­n’t need to be men­tioned until after Adam was cre­at­ed.” lol that is fun­ny. i cant help but think if the writ­ers of the chap­ter 1 (the one wit­ten as a poem) were aware of the woman from rib sto­ry then they would not have thought to men­tion it. but then again per­haps they also thought the it“didn’t need to be men­tioned until after Adam was cre­at­ed.” lol again.)

    Sin is NO ANSWER to the prob­lem of evil. It explains why men com­mit evil and god lets them get away with it but does not explain nat­ur­al evil in any which way or form. Sin is no expla­na­tion for a 1 year old child being eat­en alive by a par­a­sitic dis­ease. Sin is no answer for a ran­dom acci­dent tak­ing some­one’s life. sin is no answer for why wasps plant their eggs inside cater­pil­lars which then eat their way out of the cater­pil­lar. nature is vio­lent and unfor­giv­ing on a stag­ger­ing scale. Think of the mil­lions of species on the plan­et. very few of those bil­lions of organ­isms get to live their full term. they are near­ly all eat­en at some point by some­thing. This is evil on a grand scale. Only the sick­est most twist­ed being could have ‘designed’ this sys­tem. and let us remem­ber that this was going on for mil­lions of years before man came onto the scene. it was not our fault. and if it was our sin that cre­at­ed evil then it is not fair to inflict this on inno­cent species around the planet.

    The expla­na­tion you direct­ed me to does not answer my point. I care not whether (dis­turbed in my opin­ion) chris­tians believe a baby is going to rot in hell or not but i am con­cerned about the fair­ness issue. If god was all lov­ing, pow­er­ful, blah blah then he could only be capa­ble of cre­at­ing a fair sys­tem. the sys­tem is not fair. there­fore god is not blah blah blah.

    inci­den­tal­ly how did small pox sur­vive noahs ark? did he have test tubes?

    oh and i am very inter­est­ed in hear­ing your thoughts on the geno­ci­dal ten­den­cies of Moses.

    inci­den­tal­ly the study of the­ol­o­gy is not the study of chris­tian­i­ty which many out­siders seem to think is the case. it was inter­est­ing to note that of all the chris­tians who start­ed the course there were not many com­mit­ted chris­tians left at the end of the 4 years. once you start to look at this with a crit­i­cal eye it all starts to fall apart and you see it for the house of cards it real­ly is.

    “Oh, and one last thing, had I been born in anoth­er coun­try, if I was still one of God’s elect, then yes, I would have become a Chris­t­ian. All those who the Father gives to Christ will come to Him, wher­ev­er they may be. That’s basic teach­ing from John 6.”

    there is a good chance you would not even have heard of jesus if you had been born. this sort of ego­ma­ni­ac view of “i am cho­sen” is not real­ly help­ful to the dis­cus­sion. like i said before are you imply­ing that god delib­er­at­ly damns those who he does not reveal him­self to?

  13. No; their actions con­demn them­selves. You are show­ing a great lack of under­stand­ing of what sin is — its effects, the curs­es it brings, and so on.

    I agree — nature is cru­el, but only because the earth is cursed. There is is a rea­son why the prophets could look for­ward to the con­sum­ma­tion of his­to­ry and see that one day the wolf will lay down with the lamb in peace, that chil­dren will coex­ist with asps with no harm. All the cru­el­ty of nature is linked to the fact that he who was giv­en domin­ion over nature sinned. Mankind con­tin­ues to sin today, and con­tin­ues to have to endure the cru­el­ty inher­ent in the curse.

  14. After much delay (my apolo­gies), here’s a response to Senior’s most recent com­ment (from May 19th… *eek*):

    “so if we all just estab­lish our own mean­ing, why not just admit mean­ing is mean­ing­less? If I can’t know for sure accord­ing to some objec­tive stan­dard out­side myself that what I believe is true, then what­ev­er truth I ascribe to it would be ulti­mate­ly futile…If rel­a­tivism is the accept­ed norm, nihilism is the truth”

    But WHY do we all estab­lish our own mean­ing?? It MAY be because the evolved uni­verse bestows no mean­ing upon us, so we have to make it up. Or it MAY be because the true mean­ing isn’t knowable.

    Well, my hon­est answer would be that peo­ple ascer­tain their own mean­ings because they have reject­ed the gen­er­al rev­e­la­tion of God in nature, “suppress[ing] the truth in unright­eous­ness” (Romans 1:18, NKJV).

    Why are we sor­row­ful when a child is kid­napped and mur­dered? Was the act inher­ent­ly wrong? Or does its “wrong­ness” depend on us to make it wrong? If the lat­ter is the case, then the mur­der­er’s feel­ings that the act was right are equal­ly valid.

    Such rel­a­tivis­tic morals break down rather quick­ly — two oppos­ing truths can­not both be true, accord­ing to the log­i­cal law of noncontradiction.

    If an act is capa­ble of being truth­ful­ly defined as right or wrong, there must be an objec­tive stan­dard by which to deter­mine it. That alone pre­cludes the emp­ty mean­ing­less­ness of athe­ism, sec­u­lar human­ism, agnos­ti­cism, and any oth­er sys­tem which denies that there is a tran­scen­dent some­thing by which truth may be determined.

    And what of the fact that the vast major­i­ty of peo­ple look for mean­ing? And that the vast major­i­ty of peo­ple FIND it (at least for themselves)??

    God has placed with­in us a desire to seek (Acts 17:26–28); most of us nev­er find Him — our sin­ful nature pre­cludes it — and so the vast major­i­ty who latch on to some­thing which is “true” in their eyes fall for the same decep­tive tricks Satan has been using since Eden.

    Just because we can­not show what the mean­ing is, just because we can­not prove that there is any mean­ing at all, it does not fol­low that nihilism is the truth. It does not fol­low that there is no meaning.

    You’re on to some­thing good there: The only way to hon­est­ly escape nihilism is for there to be some­thing which is true.

    That state­ment alone slams the door on reli­gious plu­ral­ism, moral rel­a­tivism, and any of a vari­ety of oth­er sys­tems of thought which allow for the pre­pos­ter­ous notion of mul­ti­ple con­tra­dic­to­ry truths, coex­ist­ing as if each were as valid as the next.

    I guess you can argue that if it is unknow­able that that is the same as not exist­ing. But just because it is unknow­able, that doesn’t mean it isn’t guess­able. And this is what peo­ple do. We guess. We search and think and dis­cuss until we find the mean­ing that we think works. And for mil­lions, this is very suc­cess­ful. Some find Chris­tian­i­ty, some Bud­dhism, some The­ism, some their own lit­tle versions.

    If, as Fox Mul­der’s famous poster remind­ed view­ers, “the truth is out there,” it is a cru­el fate indeed that we are born with a desire to seek and find the truth, with­out any hope of ever know­ing what the truth actu­al­ly is.

    I real­ize that’s sim­ply anec­dote and does­n’t prove a point. How­ev­er, we do know that every­one can’t be right. Some­thing is right, how­ev­er, and if hav­ing a stake in that some­thing is crit­i­cal to our expe­ri­ence of eter­ni­ty (we are clear­ly cre­at­ed to tap into such a truth, as you have point­ed out in men­tion­ing the near­ly uni­ver­sal search for it), I’d say we should be a bit less cav­a­lier about it than sim­ply allow­ing for any­one’s ver­sion of it to be acceptable.

    There are count­less peo­ple believ­ing dif­fer­ent things with equal suc­cess. You find com­plete ful­fill­ment in your beliefs, but the truth is that many peo­ple find equal­ly com­plete ful­fill­ment in com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent beliefs.

    The ends jus­ti­fy the means? Is per­son­al ful­fill­ment all there is to it? Can any means be used in reach­ing this fulfillment?

    Those are legit­i­mate ques­tions which can only be answered if there is one, well, fac­tu­al truth, which is often obfus­cat­ed by a for­est of errant truths.

    “That it hap­pened does not cre­ate pur­pose – and if it did, it wouldn’t ascribe to us any more mean­ing than any­thing else in the uni­verse – what­ev­er degree of spe­cial­ness we per­ceive is imag­ined as there is no tran­scen­dent being ascrib­ing to cer­tain things more val­ue than others.

    In oth­er words, there’s no way to know I have any more val­ue than a piece of sand.”

    Real­ly??? You can go to the beach and run hand­fuls of sand between your fin­gers and per­ceive that each grain of sand is as “valu­able” as you are if there is no god???

    If Christ is not risen, I am des­tined to return to the dust. What­ev­er val­ue I imag­ined for myself while liv­ing will, pre­sum­ably, van­ish, and I will be revealed for what I was my whole life: dirt.

    Sure, we can dec­o­rate that dirt up, we can think high­ly of it, and val­ue or memo­ri­al­ize oth­ers, but in the end, well, we’re dirt.

    I guess the ques­tion then would be, are the chem­i­cal com­po­nents of our body worth any more than the sand of the sea, but again we’re faced with a ques­tion we can’t answer: whose scale do we use, and does such a scale even exist to answer such a question?

    This strikes me as delib­er­ate­ly obtuse. You are obvi­ous­ly much more com­plex and sophis­ti­cat­ed. You have motive. You can think! You can communicate!

    A heli­um atom is more com­plex than a hydro­gen atom; which has more inher­ent value?

    What makes motive, thought, and com­mu­ni­ca­tion valu­able? Were I ren­dered uncon­scious — tem­porar­i­ly los­ing the abil­i­ties to think, plan, and com­mu­ni­cate — would I sud­den­ly be less valuable?

    Is val­ue depen­dent on abil­i­ty? What about the comatose? What about those in a cata­ton­ic stupor?

    This is cause for con­cern that you need a God to estab­lish that you are more valu­able than a grain of sand.

    Humans are valu­able because we are made in the image of God. With­out that extrin­sic source of val­ue, what is it, then, that makes man greater than the sum of his parts? And again, on what basis is that val­ue any more sub­stan­tial than the whole of a rock, a tree, or even a per­son­al computer?

    It is inter­est­ing that the parts of a com­put­er, reduced to basic com­po­nents, still retain val­ue, par­tic­u­lar­ly met­als. Humans, as stat­ed, don’t like­wise reduce to much of val­ue at all.

    What is it about humans that makes us so irre­ducibly valuable?

    As to the sin­gu­lar­i­ty. Again, sci­ence doesn’t know. I’m sure I don’t know. His­tor­i­cal­ly, this is where peo­ple find god…in the places that are not explain­able. So, until the sin­gu­lar­i­ty is explained, if ever, it seems a rea­son­able place to find god.

    That cer­tain­ly is one of the virtues of Chris­tian­i­ty; it does­n’t rely on unknowns to pro­vide space for its deity. Rather, we rec­og­nize that He has set this world’s course, and that nature itself tes­ti­fies of His existence.

    Yet get­ting cre­ative to fill an unknown is exact­ly what Big Bang the­o­rists must do; how does mat­ter escape a sin­gu­lar­i­ty with such grav­i­ty that even light can’t escape from it? What kept the sin­gu­lar­i­ty from sim­ply evap­o­rat­ing into noth­ing, con­vert­ing all con­tained mat­ter into radi­a­tion? Why are we to believe that dust clouds can pro­duce enough grav­i­ty to cre­ate stars (and they can), yet vir­tu­al­ly lim­it­less grav­i­ty can’t pre­vent the great­est explo­sion imag­in­able? I sup­pose one could say that grav­i­ty was­n’t oper­a­tive back then, yet a sin­gu­lar­i­ty by def­i­n­i­tion is caused by grav­i­ty caus­ing mat­ter to col­lapse in on itself.

  15. “Well, my hon­est answer would be that peo­ple ascer­tain their own mean­ings because they have reject­ed the gen­er­al rev­e­la­tion of God in nature”

    How can any­one have reject­ed the gen­er­al rev­e­la­tion of God in nature?? You have post­ed repeat­ed­ly that none come to Jesus but that the Father drags them.

    So, from your truth, peo­ple ascer­tain their own mean­ings because “the gen­er­al rev­e­la­tion of God in nature” is not avail­able to them.

    And I have to be amused by the phrase “the gen­er­al rev­e­la­tion of God in nature”. Is your God revealed in nature? or in Bib­li­cal scrip­ture? The rev­e­la­tions do not agree.

    “Why are we sor­row­ful when a child is kid­napped and mur­dered? Was the act inher­ent­ly wrong?”

    Yes, and this isn’t hard to see. I was once asked by a min­is­ter “How do you know what sin is with­out the Bible to tell you” And my response was (is): “It’s not that hard”.

    To kid­nap a child and/or kill a child? This cre­ates pain and tur­moil and loss. That this is wrong is clear. There are very few who would argue this. There is no need to posit a god to make this a wrong.

    “Such rel­a­tivis­tic morals break down rather quick­ly – two oppos­ing truths can­not both be true, accord­ing to the log­i­cal law of noncontradiction.”

    Two oppos­ing truths can­not both be objec­tive­ly true, but they can both eas­i­ly be true for the peo­ple that hold to them. We all have our own truths and so it has been for millennia.

    “You’re on to some­thing good there: The only way to hon­est­ly escape nihilism is for there to be some­thing which is true.”

    And the vast major­i­ty of the plan­et has some kind of grasp on what­ev­er that truth is. Very few would not agree that the kid­nap­ping and/or killing of the child is wrong. You your­self have a hand on truth, but it prob­a­bly isn’t quite the truth you believe it to be. But that’s OK, because it works for you.

    “it is a cru­el fate indeed that we are born with a desire to seek and find the truth, with­out any hope of ever know­ing what the truth actu­al­ly is.”

    Per­haps. But since that is the sit­u­a­tion, maybe it isn’t cru­el fate, maybe it is the point. We can’t know, but we can believe. We each believe what works for each of us. How well it works may be an indi­ca­tion of how close to truth we are.

    “The ends jus­ti­fy the means? Is per­son­al ful­fill­ment all there is to it? Can any means be used in reach­ing this fulfillment?”

    Yes, and no. There is noth­ing stop­ping some­one from “find­ing per­son­al ful­fill­ment” in kid­nap­ping and killing a child, for exam­ple. And in fact, some do. Whether they have a han­dle on some­thing that is objec­tive­ly true (if any­thing is) or not, we won’t know in this life­time. But the over­whelm­ing major­i­ty of peo­ple on this plan­et would agree that the kidnapper/killer does not have a han­dle on any legit­i­mate truths.

    “If Christ is not risen, I am des­tined to return to the dust. What­ev­er val­ue I imag­ined for myself while liv­ing will, pre­sum­ably, van­ish, and I will be revealed for what I was my whole life: dirt.”

    And that is truth for you. Again, it is a truth that is unavail­able to most of human­i­ty. But a risen Christ is not required for us to be some­thing more than dust (although I think most would agree that our bod­ies are noth­ing more than dust). I have no expec­ta­tion that I will com­plete­ly cease to exist when I die.

    “What makes motive, thought, and com­mu­ni­ca­tion valu­able? Were I ren­dered uncon­scious – tem­porar­i­ly los­ing the abil­i­ties to think, plan, and com­mu­ni­cate – would I sud­den­ly be less valuable?

    Is val­ue depen­dent on abil­i­ty? What about the comatose? What about those in a cata­ton­ic stupor?”

    Now you are being cute. Let’s deal with nor­mal peo­ple first. You don’t like motive, thought, and com­mu­ni­ca­tion? Self-aware­ness? Con­scious­ness? You don’t see an obvi­ous dif­fer­ence between peo­ple and even the most con­ver­sant chimp??

    We clear­ly occu­py a dif­fer­ent stra­ta than the oth­er life­forms on this plan­et. Val­ue?? I know one per­son who comes close to argu­ing that peo­ple have less val­ue than oth­er ani­mals, but there’s always an extreme out there somewhere.

    Maybe all of us are all valu­able to ensure that me, the indi­vid­ual, is valu­able. I’m sure some find val­ue that way. I don’t want to be unplugged when I’m in a coma, so I argue that peo­ple in comas are as valu­able as those who are not.

    But the truth is, one must argue that we are all equal­ly valu­able, because as soon as one argues oth­er­wise, there is no place to land. So we are all equal­ly valu­able, regard­less of abil­i­ty or comatose state.

    “Rather, we rec­og­nize that He has set this world’s course, and that nature itself tes­ti­fies of His existence.”

    Nature tes­ti­fies to the fal­si­ty of your Genesis.

    “Yet get­ting cre­ative to fill an unknown is exact­ly what Big Bang the­o­rists must do;”

    I don’t argue that. The rules, as we cur­rent­ly under­stand them, that gov­ern the uni­verse did not exist pri­or to a few nanosec­onds after the big bang. Your con­cerns about the sin­gu­lar­i­ty vio­lat­ing the laws of physics are mis­placed. The laws of physics (as we know them) did not apply.

  16. Any­one who needs a god and a bible to know that it is wrong to kid­nap and kill chil­dren needs to reassess their life and belief struc­ture. How warped have you become?

    Per­haps the prob­lem is that you have a holy book that rev­els in the death of chil­dren and have for­got­ten that basic human­i­ty is enough for most peo­ple to realise that is it wrong.

  17. Andy Bird: How warped have I become? Well, I believe that some­one who kid­naps a child or mur­ders a child — or a com­bi­na­tion there­of — deserves to be exe­cut­ed by the state, by virtue of the fact that the child is made in the image of God. If that is warped, then I am unashamed­ly warped.

    How does the Bible rev­el in the death of any­one? You for­get that the exis­tence of God and the after­life must be tak­en into con­sid­er­a­tion. From an athe­is­tic world view in which there is no hope, yes, the slaugh­ter­ings of the Old Tes­ta­ment and the com­ing Apoc­a­lypse are sense­less. Insert God, the after­life, and all the things inher­ent there­in, and you have a sys­tem in which jus­tice will be met­ed out in the end per­fect­ly. That alone makes the trag­ic a whole lot less, well, tragic.

    Final­ly, why does “basic human­i­ty” reveal any­thing about moral­i­ty? I know the answer, but do you? What is it about human­i­ty that sim­ply screams that not only are we spe­cial, but that there is a right or wrong and that most peo­ple & cul­tures have a fair­ly good grasp on what those mores are.

    Do you take care not to step on ants? Do you feel remorse for the insects killed on mil­lions of auto­mo­tive win­dows? Do dis­in­fec­tants’ promis­es to kill “99.9% of bac­te­ria” leave you breath­less in sorrow?

    What makes the tak­ing of a human life so much more sig­nif­i­cant than any oth­er life?

    Be hon­est, Andy. You can­not answer that. No athe­ist can.

    If human­i­ty is spe­cial because it thinks its spe­cial, then you have on your hands an inde­fen­si­ble and log­i­cal­ly cir­cu­lar argu­ment. Hang on to it all you want to, but at least be intel­lec­tu­al­ly hon­est enough that as an athe­ist, you are deceiv­ing your­self into think­ing human­i­ty is special.

    It’s iron­ic that in your decep­tion you are right, though; human­i­ty is more spe­cial than all the beasts of the earth com­bined. One human soul is more valu­able than this whole world — and prob­a­bly all the oth­er worlds of the uni­verse com­bined as well. It is our God­like­ness that makes us spe­cial, that gives us a unique place among every oth­er creature.

    You can ignore that if you want to, but the con­clu­sions of your log­ic are inescapable. Why is it okay for a gold­fish to eat their young, yet not for human par­ents? Why is it okay for black wid­ow females to eat their mates but not for human wives? Why is it okay for a vari­ety of ani­mals to fight and even kill each oth­er over ter­ri­to­ry, but not for humans?

    All I’m ask­ing is that you admit that nihilism is the con­clu­sion of athe­is­tic thought, that any grasp­ing at mean­ing are sim­ply an exer­cise in creativity.

  18. “All I’m ask­ing is that you admit that nihilism is the con­clu­sion of athe­is­tic thought, that any grasp­ing at mean­ing are sim­ply an exer­cise in creativity.”

    Sor­ry, but that is utter nonsense.

    Your world view requires that you believe that any­one who fails to share it can­not find mean­ing, but all of us who do not share your world view know better.

    You might as well be telling us that we can­not hold a thought in our head. We know we can.

    And, again, your world view fails to pro­vide any mean­ing to, at least, half the pop­u­la­tion of the planet.

  19. Senior: First let me state I haven’t for­got­ten the com­ment you made last night.

    How­ev­er, in regard to your lat­est com­ment, I sub­mit that you could­n’t be more wrong.

    1) I nev­er said that any­one who dis­agrees with my world­view could not find mean­ing. No, I stat­ed specif­i­cal­ly that an athe­ist has no grounds for mean­ing. I believe their attempts are mis­guid­ed but, Mus­lims find mean­ing from Allah, Bud­dhists find mean­ing from self-sac­ri­fice, and so on. Even you, Senior, as a the­ist, can point to some­thing tran­scen­dent, if you so chose, as the source of mean­ing at our lev­el of exis­tence. An athe­ist how­ev­er has no such recourse. The only mean­ing they can point to is self-ref­er­en­tial. There is sim­ply noth­ing an athe­ist can appeal to except an almost spir­i­tu­al appeal to “human­i­ty” as if it were some tran­scen­dent con­struct. Athe­ism leaves human­i­ty alone, equal in val­ue to the 99.9% of germs the toi­let bowl clean­er below our sink claims it kills.

    2) Of course you have thoughts in your head. “Cog­i­to ergo sum.” Thought requires a thinker.

    Nat­u­ral­ly, the line of rea­son­ing that I have mean­ing because I — indeed, even oth­ers — find mean­ing in me could be used. How­ev­er, this mean­ing is very lim­it­ed. It does noth­ing to actu­al­ly make human­i­ty more valu­able than any oth­er crea­ture. There’s no tran­scen­dent qual­i­ty to it. Indeed, the only thing it log­i­cal­ly proves is man is a crea­ture of pride, able to think him­self high­er than oth­er creatures.

    3) How does my world­view fail to pro­vide mean­ing to at least half of the world’s pop­u­la­tion? Every human life is mean­ing­ful, being cre­at­ed in the image of God. Like­wise, every human life glo­ri­fies God — whether through the man­i­fes­ta­tion of His mer­cy or His wrath. That thought is pret­ty unpalat­able to some — and right­ly so, per­haps — yet one can­not reject it as invalid with­out an objec­tive source of truth to appeal to. I sup­pose that is the beau­ty of rel­a­tivism from a Chris­tian’s per­spec­tive — an hon­est rel­a­tivist must admit that the Chris­tian’s view­point is at least as valid as his or her own. To fail to do so reveals a whole in rel­a­tivism: it does­n’t work if there’s an objec­tive truth of any kind.

  20. “No, I stat­ed specif­i­cal­ly that an athe­ist has no grounds for meaning.”

    Fair enough. I’m not con­vinced of the valid­i­ty of that state­ment, either. I’d have to ask an atheist.

    But I don’t recall feel­ing that life was mean­ing­less when I was an atheist.

    “Nat­u­ral­ly, the line of rea­son­ing that I have mean­ing because I – indeed, even oth­ers – find mean­ing in me could be used. How­ev­er, this mean­ing is very lim­it­ed. It does noth­ing to actu­al­ly make human­i­ty more valu­able than any oth­er crea­ture. There’s no tran­scen­dent qual­i­ty to it. Indeed, the only thing it log­i­cal­ly proves is man is a crea­ture of pride, able to think him­self high­er than oth­er creatures.”

    I’m not sure I agree with this either. I don’t see the log­ic that it only proves man is a crea­ture of pride.

    I don’t under­stand how you can claim there is no tran­scen­dent qual­i­ty to it. How would you know?? When I was an athe­ist, I often had feel­ings of tran­scen­dent quality.

    You seem a bit eager to state what oth­ers must be feel­ing or think­ing. But you real­ly have no basis for these claims.

    “How does my world­view fail to pro­vide mean­ing to at least half of the world’s pop­u­la­tion? Every human life is mean­ing­ful, being cre­at­ed in the image of God. Like­wise, every human life glo­ri­fies God – whether through the man­i­fes­ta­tion of His mer­cy or His wrath.”

    Well, you’ll for­give me if I find no mean­ing in the “knowl­edge” that my life glo­ri­fies God through the man­i­fes­ta­tion of His wrath. I sus­pect you would have trou­ble find­ing some­one who does.

    “an hon­est rel­a­tivist must admit that the Christian’s view­point is at least as valid as his or her own”

    My only com­plaint with your view­point is your insis­tence that it is the only valid one. Well, and the fact that you deny the phys­i­cal evi­dence of the uni­verse around you.

  21. One very brief com­ment, and then I’m off to bed.

    Well, you’ll for­give me if I find no mean­ing in the “knowl­edge” that my life glo­ri­fies God through the man­i­fes­ta­tion of His wrath. I sus­pect you would have trou­ble find­ing some­one who does.

    Well, I’ve read plen­ty of quotes from those who toy around with anar­chism, Satanism, and oth­er such sys­tems in which they joke about going to Hell and being proud of it… “It’s the fun place to be,” after all.

    How­ev­er, it comes as no sur­prise to me that those who God’s wrath will be poured out upon do not glo­ry in that thought. Why should they? For one to tru­ly enjoy the glo­ry of God would seem to require two admis­sions: first that He is, and sec­ond that in Jesus Christ was the full­ness of God’s glory.

    In oth­er words, the per­son would­n’t be one of those on the wrath side of things, and so your point seems moot.

    (Does a per­son have to find enjoy­ment in being on the “wrong side of the law” in order for the sys­tem to func­tion, for judg­ment to be met­ed out, and for the judge to be hon­ored in his work?)

    Okay, a more than just a brief com­ment, but before I for­get the thoughts:

    1) I did­n’t say athe­ists feel mean­ing­less. My argu­ment is that what­ev­er mean­ing they do feel, there is no log­i­cal rea­son for it.

    2) To invoke a tran­scen­dent any­thing is to lift the argu­ment from the realm of nat­u­ral­ism — an area in which athe­ists feel at home — into super­nat­u­ral­ism, a realm where sci­ence has no strong­hold and any­thing is pos­si­ble. Sud­den­ly empiri­cism is insuf­fi­cient to explain the world around us, and we must rely on — of all things — faith. I think at that point we’d lose any staunch atheists.

    3) I don’t deny the evi­dence of the world around me. The evi­dence is there and exists just as tru­ly as the keys beneath my fin­gers. How­ev­er, I believe that the evi­dence fits bib­li­cal account bet­ter than a nat­u­ral­is­tic one. Admit­ted­ly, one must invoke the super­nat­ur­al in order to do this. With­out God, for exam­ple, there’s no way that whole Noah’s ark thing would have worked out, even if the flood real­ly did hap­pen. The super­nat­ur­al is the wild­card; invoke it, and ratio­nal­ism and empiri­cism fly out the win­dow faster than a speed­ing bul­let, so to speak. The uni­verse is no longer oper­at­ing accord­ing to nat­u­ral­is­tic laws; rather, it is open to the hand of He who made it, who is capa­ble of stretch­ing out the Heav­ens (giv­ing the appear­ance of motion — no Big Bang need­ed ) and so on.

    If you want to invoke a tran­scen­dent some­thing to explain a sense of mean­ing which has no basis in nat­u­ral­is­tic thought, why is my invo­ca­tion of the tran­scen­dent any less valid?

    4) If I did­n’t believe my way was the right way, I would­n’t believe what I do. It does­n’t make sense to waste one’s time believ­ing some­thing that one believes to be equal­ly valid to thou­sands of con­tra­dic­to­ry belief state­ments. If that were the case, my faith tru­ly would be a crutch, leaned upon sim­ply to pro­vide an appar­ent­ly false sense of hope to a life oth­er­wise void of tran­scen­dent meaning.

    If no sin­gle faith is true in a tran­scen­dent sense, how can any of them be true at all? Truth can­not be con­tra­dic­to­ry, yet the myr­i­ad of faiths cer­tain­ly are.

    Yet if there is no sin­gu­lar­ly true faith and all reli­gions are valid for the indi­vid­ual, how is my belief in the One True God and His One True Mes­si­ah and that sal­va­tion is only by grace through faith in Jesus and that His gospel is to be shared with oth­ers any less valid than the Bud­dhist who lives a life of self-denial and med­i­ta­tion? I have an equal claim to valid­i­ty as any­one else would, so why claim oth­er­wise? If my beliefs just detailed aren’t as valid as the Hare Krish­na’s, upon what basis is that judg­ment made?

    And now, I’m off to bed. Have a good night.

  22. In reply to Senior’s ear­li­er com­ment.

    How can any­one have reject­ed the gen­er­al rev­e­la­tion of God in nature?? You have post­ed repeat­ed­ly that none come to Jesus but that the Father drags them.

    Reject­ing or accept­ing that God exists isn’t suf­fi­cient to save any­body. The dev­ils believe and trem­ble. Indeed, those who come to Him must first believe that He is, but that knowl­edge alone isn’t salvific.

    So, from your truth, peo­ple ascer­tain their own mean­ings because “the gen­er­al rev­e­la­tion of God in nature” is not avail­able to them.

    It’s avail­able to every­one. Accord­ing to the Scrip­tures, it is only the most blind and fool­ish of men who com­plete­ly reject the exis­tence of God. But there are a vast array of peo­ple who, while they may not believe in Jesus Christ, believe in a deity, which is about as far as nature on its own can bring anyone.

    And I have to be amused by the phrase “the gen­er­al rev­e­la­tion of God in nature”. Is your God revealed in nature? or in Bib­li­cal scrip­ture? The rev­e­la­tions do not agree.

    What does nature tell us, then? Are we not com­pelled to believe in a stan­dard of right or wrong? Do we not appre­ci­ate beau­ty? Are love, hope, patience, and so on all held as virtues, with­in and with­out Chris­ten­dom? Nature reveals that God is lov­ing and that He cares and so on. It reveals His grand­ness, His tran­scen­dence, His wis­dom, and so on.

    All of this is in accord with the bib­li­cal account.

    Yes, and this isn’t hard to see. I was once asked by a min­is­ter “How do you know what sin is with­out the Bible to tell you” And my response was (is): “It’s not that hard”.

    To kid­nap a child and/or kill a child? This cre­ates pain and tur­moil and loss. That this is wrong is clear. There are very few who would argue this. There is no need to posit a god to make this a wrong.

    How are we, then, to decide that pain, loss, and tur­moil *aren’t* good things? How is it mankind can make such judg­ments and believe them to be correct?

    Two oppos­ing truths can­not both be objec­tive­ly true, but they can both eas­i­ly be true for the peo­ple that hold to them. We all have our own truths and so it has been for millennia.

    We might have our own beliefs, which we believe to be true, but that does­n’t make them true.

    And the vast major­i­ty of the plan­et has some kind of grasp on what­ev­er that truth is. Very few would not agree that the kid­nap­ping and/or killing of the child is wrong. You your­self have a hand on truth, but it prob­a­bly isn’t quite the truth you believe it to be. But that’s OK, because it works for you.

    So, moral­i­ty is deter­mined by major­i­ty vote, is what what I’m get­ting here?

    Per­haps. But since that is the sit­u­a­tion, maybe it isn’t cru­el fate, maybe it is the point. We can’t know, but we can believe. We each believe what works for each of us. How well it works may be an indi­ca­tion of how close to truth we are.

    Major­i­ty rules. Prag­ma­tism. But still no log­i­cal leap from nihilism to value.

    And that is truth for you. Again, it is a truth that is unavail­able to most of human­i­ty. But a risen Christ is not required for us to be some­thing more than dust (although I think most would agree that our bod­ies are noth­ing more than dust). I have no expec­ta­tion that I will com­plete­ly cease to exist when I die.

    And the rea­son why you or any­one has that expec­ta­tion is no secret to me. Such basic knowl­edge is seem­ing­ly inate in that it is so uni­ver­sal. I’ve heard it sug­gest­ed man should be called Homo reli­gioso or sim­i­lar due to just how per­va­sive reli­gious belief is in our cul­ture. What is it that makes peo­ple every­where catch onto the rumors of anoth­er world which is greater than our own? Where does that desire come from?

    Now you are being cute. Let’s deal with nor­mal peo­ple first. You don’t like motive, thought, and com­mu­ni­ca­tion? Self-aware­ness? Con­scious­ness? You don’t see an obvi­ous dif­fer­ence between peo­ple and even the most con­ver­sant chimp??

    Oh, I do see a dif­fer­ence. A great big gap­ing difference.

    But if both the chimp & I owe our exis­tence to evo­lu­tion­ary process­es, then what makes human­i­ty’s devel­op­ment so spe­cial? After all, our ori­gins and our futures are shared with the ostrich, the gnu, and the ant.

    But look out, ’cause I’ve got some oppos­able thumbs and know how to use ’em!

    We clear­ly occu­py a dif­fer­ent stra­ta than the oth­er life­forms on this plan­et. Val­ue?? I know one per­son who comes close to argu­ing that peo­ple have less val­ue than oth­er ani­mals, but there’s always an extreme out there somewhere.

    Is this val­ue self-imag­ined or is it extrin­sic, though? Can evo­lu­tion account for this unique­ness? In such a sys­tem, would­n’t sim­ple sur­vival and adapt­abil­i­ty be the source of val­ue, in which case we’re still on equal grounds with hun­dreds of thou­sands of oth­er species which have sur­vived just as long if not longer than we have on this earth (from a nat­u­ral­is­tic per­spec­tive, of course).

    Maybe all of us are all valu­able to ensure that me, the indi­vid­ual, is valu­able. I’m sure some find val­ue that way. I don’t want to be unplugged when I’m in a coma, so I argue that peo­ple in comas are as valu­able as those who are not.

    But there’s still no source of that val­ue oth­er than our own minds. That may be enough to live by, but it real­ly does­n’t amount to much on a philo­soph­i­cal or even log­i­cal level.

    But the truth is, one must argue that we are all equal­ly valu­able, because as soon as one argues oth­er­wise, there is no place to land. So we are all equal­ly valu­able, regard­less of abil­i­ty or comatose state.

    So when are we impart­ed with val­ue? Birth? Con­cep­tion? Ah, more mud­dy waters.

    Nature tes­ti­fies to the fal­si­ty of your Genesis.

    Not if one allows for the super­nat­ur­al. Look­ing at the evi­dence with an eye unwill­ing to allow for God’s hand, we by nature must then con­cep­tu­al­ize nat­u­ral­is­tic rea­sons for things, and we’re get­ting pret­ty darn good at spin­ning those yarns into fan­cy the­o­ries. But the fact of the mat­ter is, we don’t know what the mir­a­cle of cre­ation looked like save for a few short lines in the Bible, and we don’t know what spe­cif­ic last­ing evi­dence it would have left. What evi­dence we do have, rather than find­ing rea­son to praise God, we take it and fit into var­i­ous cos­molo­gies until we find one which could have account­ed for all the evi­dence, despite the fact it nev­er real­ly hap­pened in the first place.

    I don’t argue that. The rules, as we cur­rent­ly under­stand them, that gov­ern the uni­verse did not exist pri­or to a few nanosec­onds after the big bang. Your con­cerns about the sin­gu­lar­i­ty vio­lat­ing the laws of physics are mis­placed. The laws of physics (as we know them) did not apply.

    We’ve plen­ty of evi­dence that the laws of physics oper­ate like they should pret­ty much uni­ver­sal­ly; what evi­dence is there that we can just toss them out the win­dow to make a the­o­ry work? Why isn’t it just admit­ted that cos­mol­o­gists have backed them­selves into a cor­ner and the Big Bang the­o­ry no longer works — it fails to explain what caused it. Was the Big Bang the Cause­less Cause?

    I, for one, doubt it.

  23. hang on a minute..

    you said

    “Nature reveals that God is lov­ing and that He cares and so on.”

    yet in a pre­vi­ous post you stat­ed that nature is not the place to look for evi­dence of gods love because it is cursed (an insane idea btw)

    “Not if one allows for the supernatural.”

    I take it from that you are one of those will­ing to believe that god put all those pesky dinosaur fos­sils their just to trick you? It is amaz­ing the lengths peo­ple will go to in order to con­vince them­selves of a world view. oh hang on as well as noah hav­ing test-tubes for all those sex­u­al trans­mit­ted dis­eases that sur­vived the flood per­haps the ark was like a tardis (of the dr who vari­ety) with enough space for the mil­lions of species we see in the world.

    I have to say that your rea­son­ing is some of the most out­landish I have ever come across.

    I was par­tic­u­lar­ly amused by your jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for all the slaugh­ter in the old tes­ta­ment ie it would be evil unless we take the after life into account! lol remem­ber those peo­ple dies before jesus exist­ed so i am guess­ing their chance of reach­ing heav­en was thin before the isre­alites mas­sa­cred them (at god or moses’ command)

    This whole con­ver­sa­tion reminds me of uni­ver­si­ty debates with ‘flat earth’ soci­ety types. No mat­ter what you say to them they jump and twist their hypo­thet­i­cal giber­ish so that facts only rein­force their insane world view.

    you talk of human­i­ty but espouse a sys­tem that is inhu­mane from begin­ning to end. what kind a reli­gion can believe that babies are born sin­ful? this is inhu­man­i­ty on a BIG scale.

    and your views of what an athe­ist can and cant do or think are laugh­able. I real­ly do think that it is not till you have thrown off the shack­les of Jeu­do-Chris­t­ian mytholo­gies that you can tru­ly begin to open your eyes and see the world for what it is.. amaz­ing, ter­ri­ble beau­ti­ful and old.. very old. and all the more won­der­ful because it was not cre­at­ed by some giant sky fairy.

    as for sci­ence and its under­stand­ing of the world. you fail to see that uncer­tain­ty and lack of knowl­edge is what dri­ves sci­en­tists and be very thank­ful about the tech­no­log­i­cal world in which we are hav­ing this con­ver­sa­tion. the beau­ty and won­der of sci­ence is that we DONT KNOW and are ever seek­ing. the short com­ing of reli­gion is that they think they DO KNOW and any­one who thinks oth­er­wise can be con­demned to hell. the lack of under­stand­ing around the BIG BANG is not a short com­ing but an acknowl­edge­ment that we still have lots to learn. It may well be that in years to come sci­ence looks back at our prim­i­tive under­stand­ing of the ear­ly uni­verse and schools kids laugh at the things that cause Hawk­ing et al headaches today. that is what is so won­der­ful. it may well be that only some future post-human species will be well enough equipped to grap­ple with the com­plex­i­ties of the uni­verse. no doubt there is will be a few wait­ing for the end of the world and argu­ing that the world is flat.

  24. Andy, thanks for the mes­sage. I’m mere min­utes from step­ping out for a few hours to spend time with some friends I haven’t seen in over a year, and I won’t be back until some­time this evening. I’ll try to reply then, if it isn’t too late.

  25. Okay, a lit­tle more of a delay than I was hop­ing, but we were out late last night at our friends’, and their infant was just too fun not to hold a lit­tle bit longer once he & I warmed up to each oth­er. :-D

    you said

    “Nature reveals that God is lov­ing and that He cares and so on.”

    yet in a pre­vi­ous post you stat­ed that nature is not the place to look for evi­dence of gods love because it is cursed (an insane idea btw)

    It’s a para­dox, I know. You’ll find Chris­tian­i­ty filled with ’em. Indeed, some peo­ple make mon­ey off of it by print­ing up T‑shirts which have a list of Chris­t­ian para­dox­es on the reverse side. How­ev­er, as any stu­dent of log­ic knows, a para­dox is not a contradiction.

    Yes, nature reveals God. Per­haps I was pre­sump­tu­ous in stat­ing that it reveals His love & mer­cy; I hap­pen to notice those two aspects every­where I look, espe­cial­ly in chil­dren. How­ev­er, “the invis­i­ble things of [God] from the cre­ation of the world are clear­ly seen, being under­stood by the things that are made, even his eter­nal pow­er and God­head; so that [those who sup­press the truth unright­eous­ly, vs.18] are with­out excuse” (Romans 1:20).

    Yet while nature is able to reveal God’s eter­nal pow­er and divin­i­ty, the effects of the curse giv­en it for man’s sake (Gen­e­sis 3:17). Things haven’t changed much. Nowa­days, though, we have more tech­no­log­i­cal ways to screw up nature. Man will be man, I suppose.

    I fail to see how such a curse is an “insane idea,” though. If God grant­ed man a per­fect world and a pris­tine gar­den which he was to tend to, yet he screwed up and did the one sim­ple lit­tle thing he was­n’t to do, why should­n’t have God made dif­fi­cult man’s tasks by caus­ing the earth to bring forth thorns and this­tle, to add a harsh and vio­lent aspect to a world that up until then had known only peace. Now and to this day, men have wres­tled with the plan­et — with ani­mals, with forests, with every­thing we have here — in order to accom­plish our will.

    I take it from that you are one of those will­ing to believe that god put all those pesky dinosaur fos­sils their just to trick you? It is amaz­ing the lengths peo­ple will go to in order to con­vince them­selves of a world view. oh hang on as well as noah hav­ing test-tubes for all those sex­u­al trans­mit­ted dis­eases that sur­vived the flood per­haps the ark was like a tardis (of the dr who vari­ety) with enough space for the mil­lions of species we see in the world.

    1) No, God does not trick man. Fos­sils are a result of the rapid bur­ial of species which occurred dur­ing the noahic flood.

    2) You, an evo­lu­tion­ist, have trou­ble believ­ing that var­i­ous microbes could­n’t have sur­vived an all-water envi­ron­ment, only lat­er to devel­op the abil­i­ty to be air-born, peo­ple-born, etc.?

    3) The ark would­n’t have had to car­ry mil­lions of species. Many thou­sands of kinds or fam­i­lies of ani­mals, sure. One pair of wolves could have spe­ci­at­ed into all the hun­dreds of species of dog we see today; dit­to oth­er crea­tures. Or did you think maybe I’d shy away from the idea of spe­ci­a­tion because it is a great boon to evo­lu­tion­ary the­o­ry? It’s a great boon to Cre­ation­ism as well.

    I have to say that your rea­son­ing is some of the most out­landish I have ever come across.

    Thank you. Being so open mind­ed as to be “out­landish” is much bet­ter than the “closed-mind­ed” quips I usu­al­ly get. :D

    I was par­tic­u­lar­ly amused by your jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for all the slaugh­ter in the old tes­ta­ment ie it would be evil unless we take the after life into account! lol remem­ber those peo­ple dies before jesus exist­ed so i am guess­ing their chance of reach­ing heav­en was thin before the isre­alites mas­sa­cred them (at god or moses’ command)

    That the­ol­o­gy study­ing you did, that was­n’t at a pub­lic school was it?

    Sal­va­tion has always been avail­able, God has always been mer­ci­ful — to both Jew & Gen­tile alike, and both Tes­ta­ments account for that. Admit­ted­ly, the Jews were favored on a larg­er scale.

    God as Cre­ator is allowed in every way to give life, to take life, to decide how lives are tak­en, and so on. Phys­i­cal death isn’t near­ly as “trag­ic” or “cru­el” as you’re mak­ing it out to be. As it was said in Ghost­busters 2, “Death is but a door.”

    View it as cru­el if you want to; to be hon­est, moral judg­ments such as that don’t car­ry much weight from some­one who has yet to pro­vide any evi­dence of an objec­tive truth by which to judge any­thing as an atheist.

    This whole con­ver­sa­tion reminds me of uni­ver­si­ty debates with ‘flat earth’ soci­ety types. No mat­ter what you say to them they jump and twist their hypo­thet­i­cal giber­ish so that facts only rein­force their insane world view.

    Yet you par­tic­i­pate still. A smart man like you can’t be that bored, can you? :)

    You’re wel­come to leave the con­ver­sa­tion if you wish, but I’m enjoy­ing it. I start­ed the con­ver­sa­tion because I believe that athe­ists have no objec­tive source of mean­ing, and I think that has been estab­lished repeat­ed­ly, despite a num­ber of claims to the con­trary, most if not all of which had their source in a sort of sen­ti­men­tal­i­ty for human­i­ty rather than in log­ic. So as far as the pur­pose or end of this dis­cus­sion is con­cerned, I applaud you & Senior for pre­sent­ing your cas­es for mean­ing­ful­ness, but I do not believe either of you offered any­thing which dis­con­nects hon­est athe­ism from nihilism. Admit­ted­ly, Senior argues as a the­ist, so per­haps if you had an athe­ist com­pa­tri­ot to argue along­side, some­thing more sup­port­ive of your argu­ment could have been put forth.

    you talk of human­i­ty but espouse a sys­tem that is inhu­mane from begin­ning to end.

    You keep say­ing that, yet you fail to acknowl­edge how inher­ent­ly inhu­mane athe­ism is. There no longer is a rea­son, a pur­pose for our exis­tence, and we’re just anoth­er pri­mate hop­ing to sur­vive gen­er­a­tion to generation.

    Yet Chris­tian­i­ty believes humans are the crown­ing point of Cre­ation, the apple of God’s eyes, so to speak. We believe each indi­vid­ual is infi­nite­ly valu­able, made in the image of God.

    what kind a reli­gion can believe that babies are born sin­ful? this is inhu­man­i­ty on a BIG scale.

    I’m sure you under­stand genet­ics enough to under­stand that a baby is com­posed of both its father and moth­er and is not spon­ta­neous­ly gen­er­at­ed with­in the womb. So, if a sin­ful moth­er + a sin­ful father (I’m talk­ing about natures here, and not indi­vid­ual sins) has a child, should we expect that child to have a sin­ful or a right­eous nature?

    If a right­eous, the mild­ly destruc­tive and rebel­lious “test­ing the bound­aries” stages of infants and tod­dlers would dis­ap­pear. (So long, ter­ri­ble twos!) Yet even in the young, sin­ful­ness man­i­fests itself how­ev­er it is able.

    and your views of what an athe­ist can and cant do or think are laughable.

    Huh? All I’m say­ing is that an hon­est athe­ist should be able to admit that there are no objec­tive grounds for believ­ing human­i­ty is some­how spe­cial, mean­ing­ful, or valu­able on a lev­el out­side of human­i­ty itself. Out­side of that, athe­ists can do what­ev­er and believe what they want.

    I real­ly do think that it is not till you have thrown off the shack­les of Jeu­do-Chris­t­ian mytholo­gies that you can tru­ly begin to open your eyes and see the world for what it is.. amaz­ing, ter­ri­ble beau­ti­ful and old.. very old. and all the more won­der­ful because it was not cre­at­ed by some giant sky fairy.

    What does any of that — or any­thing in this post I’m reply­ing to, actu­al­ly — have to do with nihilism not being the log­i­cal con­clu­sion of atheism?

    An old ball of dirt cov­ered in liv­ing clumps of clay & water which are des­tined to return to the ball of dirt, which itself is des­tined to be destroyed when the sun goes nova.

    Such tran­sient won­der isn’t very won­der­ful, in my opin­ion. Once no one is around to appre­ci­ate it, what val­ue has wonder?

    as for sci­ence and its under­stand­ing of the world. you fail to see that uncer­tain­ty and lack of knowl­edge is what dri­ves sci­en­tists and be very thank­ful about the tech­no­log­i­cal world in which we are hav­ing this con­ver­sa­tion. the beau­ty and won­der of sci­ence is that we DONT KNOW and are ever seeking.

    Good gol­ly, we agree on something. :)

    the short com­ing of reli­gion is that they think they DO KNOW and any­one who thinks oth­er­wise can be con­demned to hell.

    Actu­al­ly, I’m expect­ing to greet quite a few peo­ple in Heav­en who believed in evo­lu­tion, the “Gap The­o­ry,” the­is­tic evo­lu­tion, and all sorts of oth­er imag­i­na­tive things while on Earth.

    the lack of under­stand­ing around the BIG BANG is not a short com­ing but an acknowl­edge­ment that we still have lots to learn. It may well be that in years to come sci­ence looks back at our prim­i­tive under­stand­ing of the ear­ly uni­verse and schools kids laugh at the things that cause Hawk­ing et al headaches today. that is what is so won­der­ful. it may well be that only some future post-human species will be well enough equipped to grap­ple with the com­plex­i­ties of the uni­verse. no doubt there is will be a few wait­ing for the end of the world and argu­ing that the world is flat.

    Well, I dis­agree with the “post-human species” bit, I agree with just about every­thing else you say. Sci­ence and the pur­suit of human knowl­edge is a won­der­ful, won­der­ful thing. Iron­i­cal­ly, the more I learn, the more my faith in Jesus Christ is strengthened.

    If the end of the world does­n’t pre­clude it, I should hope that some­day sci­en­tif­ic advance­ments see asth­ma cured (I’d love for that to hap­pen in my life­time lol), to see 1 googol­hertz or bet­ter com­put­er proces­sors (okay, I exag­ger­ate… Imag­ine, a com­put­er proces­sor capa­ble of pro­cess­ing a uni­verse’s worth of data in a sec­ond! Wow!), inter­stel­lar trav­el (even if only unmanned), robot ser­vants that are inca­pable of dream­ing about becom­ing our robot over­lords, and so on.

    How­ev­er, in an attempt to divert this dis­cus­sion into more sol­id areas of debate…

    In an athe­is­tic world­view, is there an objec­tive rea­son for the human race being spe­cial or in any way mean­ing­ful in a lev­el which at least tran­scends oth­er of the earth­’s species, if not the uni­verse itself?

  26. An athe­ist is sim­ply one who dis­be­lieves in the exis­tence of God or gods. “god” may be under­stood to be any tran­scen­dent being — alive or not — which exists at a high­er lev­el than the uni­verse itself which is in some way respon­si­ble for the uni­verse, its orga­ni­za­tion, or its goings on.

    I under­stand athe­ism to be inex­orably linked to nat­u­ral­ism. Per­haps that is too much of a pre­sump­tion, though it has been the case with most athe­ists I have spo­ken with.

  27. Giv­en that def­i­n­i­tion, I still dis­agree that athe­ism is nec­es­sar­i­ly nihilism. There are still ways to view the uni­verse that bestow mean­ing on one’s life.

  28. In the inter­est of defin­ing terms, then, what kind of mean­ing are you refer­ring to? Intrin­sic, extrin­sic, tran­sient, tran­scen­dent, sub­jec­tive, objective?

    My world­view pro­vides for an extrin­sic, tran­scen­dent, objec­tive source of human val­ue, that being God Him­self, and such mean­ing does not seem out of place with­in my worldview.

  29. From your per­spec­tive, your world­view pro­vides for an extrin­sic, tran­scen­dent, and objec­tive source of human value.

    But from where I’m sit­ting, there is noth­ing extrin­sic or tran­scen­dent about it. I’m not so sure about the objec­tive, either.

    But I do not deny that you find meaning.

    Seems to me that an athe­ist who finds val­ue for human­i­ty because of our par­tic­i­pa­tion in the grandeur of the uni­verse would be like­ly to argue that his or her faith is also extrin­sic (derived from the uni­verse), tran­scen­dent, and objective.

    I could see an argu­ment that the athe­ists mean­ing is intrin­sic as well as extrinsic.

    And from your view­point I can see how you might see the athe­ist’s mean­ing as lack­ing, but I don’t see how you can deny it exists.

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Rick Beckman