Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Just a Mustard Seed of Doubt

If you are a true and genuine Christian (or any SINCERE and LEGITIMATE religious person) the following post does not pertain to you.

If you are a family member that wants to maintain some facade of "Goodie Goodie Jesus Rah Rah Yea" then you may not want to read ahead.

For the rest of you intrepid intellectually honest intellectuals, let me tell you a story.

If you want to know where my wit and cleverness comes from, it comes from one person and one person only:

My Uncle Jeff.

Jeff was like me.  Small, skinny.  But while growing up I noticed he was INCREDIBLY quick, clever, and even charming.  It wasn't until I became a student of Victor Borge did I realize what qualities and traits both had in common.  And so from the age of 13 or so, I fashioned myself after Uncle Jeff.

This decision sent me on the trajectory that landed me here today and is (what I would boldly guess) is why many of you tune into my blog/podcast/whatever.  I'm not the same ole same ole.  I come up with the occasional witticism.  And above all else, I'm a little bit smarter than the average bear.

Thank my Uncle Jeff for that.

Sadly, Uncle Jeff contracted cancer at a young age.  Fight it as he may, in the end he lost and died in his mid 50's.  Knowing this was coming and feeling bad I had not spent as much time with my psychological mentor as much as I would like, I drove from Minneapolis to Appleton to visit him at the hospital.

When I visited him he was still, without skipping a beat, good ole Uncle Jeff.

Witty, clever, and smart.

And though we never really had a ton of time together, there was an understanding that he was my uncle, I looked up to him, and maybe he could have picked up a clue or two that I fashioned myself after him.  He was happy I was there, and I was feeling guilty for not spending as much time with him as I would have liked.

But, as would be the case with all men facing cancer, death, and mortality, our conversation took a turn towards him reflecting on himself, his life, and his beliefs.  But unlike most of the automotonic-Christians that had visited him before, I wasn't a Christian.  I was the black sheep of the family.  He knew I didn't care about the afterlife.  He knew I was the outlier in the family.  And so, because I had this reputation, our conversation became rather and ironically...

truthful.

It was there that my Uncle Jeff admitted that deep down inside, despite 50 years of TRULY RELIGIOUS ADHERENCE to the faith and Christ, he really didn't know if he believed any of it.  This coming from a man who was the epitome of devout.  He attended every Sunday.  No doubt tithed.  Donated time and volunteered at the church.  You could NOT be a "better Christian" than Uncle Jeff.

But there he laid in the hospital bed, hooked up to an IV, and after half a century of life plus, admitted to me that deep down inside he didn't believe it.

I had nothing to say.  NOthing religious anyway because I got rid of religion as quickly as a sailor can get rid of the clap.  But being out of the "system" for 20 years didn't leave me without explanation or thought on the matter.  And so I told my greatly-respected Uncle Jeff what I thought.

"You don't know, I don't know, and nobody else knows what's on the other side.  But I'll tell you this.  It can't be anything great, grandiose, let alone horrible, and CERTAINLY NOT LONELY because 50 billion people have gone before you.  And you, nor I, nor anybody else is special."

I don't know if it did anything to assuage him, but based on the smirk I got, I like to think it did.  That where some guy nailed to a cross, and 50 years of unsubstantiated lies, and an entire religion without empirical proof FAILED to provide one of its most devout followers solace, an asshole heathen with a bit of streets smarts, cynicism, and elementary logic succeeded.

Within a month we were at Uncle Jeff's funeral.  There in attendance was the preponderance of good Wisconsin Synod groupies including everything from my former-pastor father, to nazi concentration camp Lutheran teachers, to a hypocritical brother who conveniently finds "god" every time he lands in jail, to all the "good Christians" in SWPL goodie-2-shoes Appleton.  And my stomach churned as I saw the pastor officiating the event show picture after picture of Uncle Jeff, hidden in the background of various church photographs "proving" Uncle Jeff was indeed a good Christian.

There is no doubt my great and awesome Uncle Jeff was a good Christian.

There is no doubt that my Uncle Jeff was one of the best people to walk this planet.

But if there is a lesson to take from Uncle Jeff it's that deep down inside that the VAST MAJORITY of you Christians (as well as all other religious folk) KNOW for a FACT it is all

BULLSHIT.

I am at a point in my "philosophizing" where I no longer care about arguments, facts, truth, statistics, etc., as much as I am the MIND-BLOWING ability of the average human mind to IGNORE AND REFUTE said things.  That I am flabbergasted as to how much time, effort, resources and money childish human minds will KNOWINGLY go to defend an FACTUALLY WRONG AND ERRONEOUS system.

Fuck "allegiances."
Fuck "social networks."
Fuck "fear of ostracism from society."

How can ANYBODY believe in such poppycock as religion?

The simple answer is, "they can't" and "they don't."

It's all a fucking show for superficial reasons.

Networking, familiality, tribalism, survival, you name it.  In the end it is just an elaborate version of "the emperor has no clothes."

And thus, I wanted to plant that mustard seed of doubt.  Because I know, I KNOW FOR A FACT

EVERY
SINGLE
ONE
OF
YOU

have that doubt in your heart.

And based on the quality and caliber of most "christians" I see today, you fail, EPICALLY against my Uncle Jeff in terms of sincerity, penitence, honor, and self-reflection.

Thus relegating your "religion" into nothing more than a god damned social club.

Enjoy "hell"...that is of course assuming you ever really, truly believed it in the first place.

Post post - apparently this is needed.  I'm agnostic.  Not atheist.  

51 comments:

newrebeluniv said...

Glad you got that off your chest. It must have been eating at you something fierce.

But like Dale Carnegie once wrote, "you can't win an argument".

I long ago recognized that lots of people are wedded to their positions, whether it is religion, customs, political, and all the combinations and permutations. They are not capable to changing and beating them up for it is just cruel.

Really smart people recognize the patterns they see in life, as you have done. But most people just aren't that smart, despite being totally convinced that they are.

Anonymous said...

Does anybody read poetry? The words describe things that are not real. Factually false comparisons are boldly stated. The narrative is sometimes totally jumbled. Surely there is no value in poetry. There is nothing to communicate beyond rationality.

Of course Christianity has nothing to do with the institution of marriage as between one man and one woman. The polygamy and concubinage of other cultures are coincidence. Monogamous marriage has nothing to do with the great wealth produced by the west.

Dave Erickson said...

Hey Cap,

Everybody has doubts. But remember, the world encourages atheism just as it encourages hedonism and liberalism. You're going to have to work to find reasons to believe. Check out some rebuttals to the "new atheists" (I've noticed you've adopted some of their basically leftist positions), David Berlinski is a good place to start. Look into some Intelligent Design origin of life books. Stephen Meyer or Michael Behe. The manosphere and masculine Christianity are natural allies. Bottom line, though: it's as hard being a believer in today's world as it is a political conservative. My two cents.

Anonymous said...

In the church I went to when I was young, even the Preacher admitted there were times he doubted. We all have doubts, because there will never be any proof you can point another person to and say "There! See?"

The question is how much proof are you looking for? Do you need to prove it in a court of law? Beyond a reasonable doubt? Or is it enough to just know, like you can just know when the check-out girl at the grocery store has a secret crush on you, or that the cat wouldn't miss you if you were gone, but the dog would?

We live in a world where we've all watched too many cop shows and court dramas. Faith is always small, and always seems fragile. That's what makes it miraculous.

Brazilian Guy said...

Very powerful message, i have all the respect for the christian tradition but religious people have the spirit hamster, damm creature will never wear down or tire

Kristophr said...

Waiting for NARALT.

En-sigma said...

I am not here to convert a soul. The bible is a really big book, and if it does not convince you, my two cents wont make a dent. All men must make up their own minds based on the evidence.

I will admit it was the existence of the non-physical which started my journey, but each man must examine the evidence. Simon Greanleaf's Testimony of the Evangelists was a start - he was a principle founder of Harvard Law (back when that meant something)- but it is not an end, of course. He was/is an expert on evidence and has been cited in many a case.

Anyway, it is intellectually honest to acknowledge two sides to an argument. Yet another reason I circle like a buzzard.

Dreamer said...

Your line about "networking, familiarity, tribalism..." reminds me of a friend.

This friend, that I just visited just two months ago, just moved to a new city where he knew no one only four months prior.

Other people I met who is/was in similar situation admit trouble creating a new circle unless some elements of their old circles is already there. And even then, it's still mostly old faces built from the years in school.

But this guy, show a whole crew of guys and on rapport with a large number of girls. A strong, active social circle. Honestly, it give my circles, where I not moved, a run for its money.

The different maker seems is his activity with his Christian religion. I remember one lesson from Aristotle that older people needs some kind of "activity" to start a friendship. Regardless of religious views (and it a long tangent and mostly irrelevant to bring that up of his religious background), this story is demonstrative religion give at least a good excuse to allow people to congregate. Other people I know who went to a new city sourced from work or bars or something, but none built as impressive as this guy.

Personally, while I have explored Christianity in the past, I can't join something where I have to admit I honestly don't know if anything is true. I don't want to lie. But, I am impressed at the community it can offer.

Anonymous said...

Religion is a lot like investing.

When you're investing you don't know for sure what is and isn't going to perform well. You do the best research you can on past trends and future predictions but in the end there's always that doubt and worry that your investment is going to crash. Still, you have to put your money somewhere. Even just leaving your money as cash in the bank or spending it all as soon as you get it is a form of investment that can crash just as bad as stocks or bonds or metals or land.

With religion there is also no way to tell for sure what is and isn't true. So you do the best research you can, pray a lot, contemplate the doctrines, consider your hunches and finally settle on a way of life that may or may not be religious.

Even if you decide on a religious lifestyle there's always going to be doubt and worry that all your spiritual moments were delusions and that your God doesn't exist, but what can you do? You have to choose how to live your life and it's not entirely unreasonable to decide that you want to be a good Christian even though you have some doubts. It's not like giving up a few sins is an unbearable cost, the mortal benefits are decent and possibly eternal payoff is enticing. And being wrong about God won't represent any more of a waste of personal time and money then any other business, investing or career mistake.

Sounds like you've had some really negative religious experiences that make it logical for you to reject your community's particular brand of Christianity. And I can't blame you for extrapolating that to religion in general. As you've noted, there are a lot of very shallow religious people out there who are in it for all the wrong reasons.

And it's true that all us Christians have our mustard seed (or more) of doubt. But we go on anyways because a few moments of doubt don't justify dropping your entire religion anymore than a bad market dip justifies liquidating all your assets in a panic. A lot of us have had enough good experiences to convince us to stick with it through the bad in hopes of finding out, at the end of all things, that we invested decently. If not? Oh well. Won't be the first investment of time and money that backfired on me. I just do the best I can with the information and opportunities I have.

Unknown said...

Brother, all men are afflicted by doubt. You even doubt your own shit from time to time, when things are hard or haven't worked out like you hoped.(This doubt will manifest most powerfully when you are at the end of your life.) So? Does that mean your uncle wasn't a believer? That his years of faithfulness to his Lord and his church were in vain? Hardly.

For 2000 years Christian Pastors have dealt with doubt on the part of believers and unbelievers on their deathbeds, and done so wisely and gently. I am sorry there were no pastors there to encourage your uncle in his baptism, and to pray with him as the Apostle Thomas prayed "Lord I believe, help my unbelief."

ar10308 said...

I regularly meet with an Atheist friend of mine and we discuss our perspectives on religion or the lack thereof. (I wrote a post about this in the thread about arguing the right way with good people, but something screwed up when I submitted it).

We don't try to convert each other because we have come to a point in our discussions where we have a mutual understanding of our reasons for my belief or his disbelief.

His fundamental issue is that there is no evidence that could convince him that there is a God, even if God Himself were to come down and address him personally, he couldn't know which "god" it was. I acknowledge that there is no answer I can give him to convince him to have the faith that I do.

What is interesting is that in places the Bible talks about faith being a gift and that some have it and others do not, so there is precedence for it.

Anyway, this discussion with my friend has spanned several years and taught me the valuable lesson of how to properly dialogue with people who don't have faith nor any curiosity to have it. And I think it is a valuable lesson that many Christians need to learn.

Anonymous said...

You can say "there is no proof" but you could also say "proof is everywhere". I do not think that the state of the world today was caused simply by human greed and stupidity but by supernatural evil aka Satan. For me the state of the world right now is plenty proof.

Churchianity is not Christianity. Here is a Christian without doubt and she knows economics too:
www.barnhardt.biz

Rick said...

A thought: perhaps your uncle told everyone with whom he spoke exactly what they needed to hear. So, you being the outlier, he put you at ease with his admission of doubt?

Another thought, one to appeal to your logical side: you say here that to become alpha one must act alpha, that changes in behaviour become habits with practice, that practice will achieve the change. Do you now suppose, then, that fifty years of practice by your uncle did not achieve a change in him?

Frank Hilliard said...

I take my cue from the marvelous simplicity in the complexity of the natural world, from microbiology to celestial mechanics. How can all this be random? If not, then it was designed. As for the 'afterlife,' I'm quite happy to wait and see.

RonF said...

I've had my doubts as well. And religion is certainly not scientifically provable. But faith and doubt generally occur together. Doubt makes you question and think. It's the people who never doubt that have the shallowest foundation for their faith.

Unsung said...

Funny thing Captain C but of all people I thought you have understood about the Bible and religion.

The Bible could be described as the original book of "Leftist Fail". It details the historical relationship of the Israelites after one man comes to an agreement with God on how to live his life. From that point it details all the stupidity, all the crap, all the idiotic things that the Israelites do. Not their good points but their BAD points - not what they do right but how badly they go wrong and what happens to them when don't do those things that God has told them will make their lives better. Every time they act like a self obsessed leftist their way gets harder. The "Prophets" keep pointing out to the people that they are behaving like assholes - but the people never listen and they keep ending up in the shit. Then in the "New Testament" when their country has been overrun by the Romans along comes Jesus and breaks the old formulas for good behaviour down into very simple starter rules that everyone can follow.

Basically the Judeao/Christian religions says: Follow a few basic rules and your life will improve (the downside being that other people will hate you for it).

That alone without any spiritual frills and add-ons is what makes the Judeao/Christian religion worthwhile!Basically it is useful to follow those rules because they make life easier/better for everyone because the rules help clear the shit away so you can see and therefore avoid the pitfalls.

Religion is habit - good habits are what makes life better.

Beyond that: The only one who can tell you anything about the spiritual part of religion is God. If you want to know about it then ask God. Asking people is worse than useless because all you will receive are their badly worded imaginings.

That aside- DOUBT IS GOOD: If you don't doubt then you aren't thinking and you can't make use of faith. And it's faith, not belief from where any thinking person needs to start.

og said...

Interesting. It would be easy for one of the people you describe to get all butthurt and freak out, but the fact of the matter is, you're not horribly far off the mark. A powerful lot of the people who consider themselves "Christians" are exactly what you describe.

Belief in and of itself, I am discovering, is toxic. it sounds like your Uncle Jeff had a good deal of faith, which is a vastly different thing. I'm supremely gald you had him as an example in your life, and I hope you follow his lead all your days.

And hale: You should not put yourself down like that; you're pretty smart.

Captain Capitalism said...

Two points of order:

1. I will immediately follow a religion with all of my might when EMPIRICAL PROOF is laid out before me (and do not say, "it's in the bible")

2. I am reminded of my younger years where the pastors/teachers had a non-answer to every question when people say, "doubt is part of faith."

No, doubt is the OPPOSITE of faith. It's your logical brain trying to tell you somethings fishy.

og said...

I have a pretty logical brain.

I have complete and unshakeable faith, in which there is no room for doubt.

I do not, to my knowledge, believe a single thing.

ray said...

Your uncle looked for God in churches, and (of course) didn't find Him there. Because He's not there.

That's not God's fault -- although it certainly reflects on the false belief that church buildings and the presence of the LORD go together. They don't.

We don't choose God. He either chooses us, or not.

Going on and on about your own wit and cleverness indicates you have a lot of trouble with insecurity, and use pride and bluster to cover that up. That also is not God's problem, it's Corporal Capitalism's problem.

Why would a holy God want to get near somebody full of such self-aggrandizement and self-concern? Well, He wouldn't. And again, that's not God's problem, it's Mr. Smarter Bear's problem.

What you lack most is what almost everyone else in modern Amerika lacks: humility. Especially humility before the Father that created you.

I hope you learn some humility before you follow your uncle, because you will not get within 1000 parsecs of God without it.

Unsung said...

Capt. "1. I will immediately follow a religion with all of my might when EMPIRICAL PROOF is laid out before me (and do not say, "it's in the bible")"

The original meaning of the word "proof" meant "TEST" as in "to prove" = "to test".

To test something you have to actually DO it - take part in the experience of it. Intellectualising a thing - talking about it - is not the same as DOING.

What is it that you want to prove?

Magic? The Supernatural?

Science cannot prove magic or supernatural things because they lie outside the limits of what science can do. Science is merely statistical analysis writ large. How do you statistically analyse a non empirical event?

Or instead of magic how about looking at human habits? Because that is what the bible is mostly about. It is mostly concerned with changing people's habits. It provides historical narrative to show how bad things happen when bad habits are in vogue, especially when good ideas are ignored.

So you could prove (test) the habits of the religions that take your fancy and see which promote good outcomes and which promote bad.

History already tells us lots about that- but it's far easier to concentrate on the "unscientific" "magic" stuff - in order to debunk the actual everyday workable human habits stuff, isn't it?

Re. Doubt and Faith: When you want to make use of something - you apply force to it. To manoeuvre a thing to where it is useful you can push it or pull it (using those two opposing forces). If you apply those two forces in different ways you can make it roll or spin or do whatever you like - depending on how, when and where you apply the specific forces. Now think of Doubt and Faith as two differing intellectual forces that you can use to manipulate ideas. Using those two forces you can make any idea useful.

Another interesting way to use ideas to prove (test) things - is to take different "religious"(philosophical) ideas together and apply them to different everyday problems. Two that work well together are the Tao Te Ching and the narrative info in the Bible. The Bible provides the basic human info and the Tao te Ching provides practical application for using that info in the best possible way.

Any answer can appear to be a non-answer when the context is missing due to the separation of the intellect from the actual experience.

Deb said...

Some atheists doubt their atheism ... Google Antony Flew.

It took me way too a long time in Biology Class, Gr. 11, for a science quiz, to memorize all the inner workings of one single living cell and what each part did. The thing was a bloomin' factory ((I know, I know -- I'm a girl and it was Science). I decided then that God existed and haven't changed my mind yet.

As for which God, the Christian God just makes the most sense to me and provides the most love, hope and comfort. Sorry your uncle didn't have this assurance.

Wishing you well, Captain. As atheists go, you're not all that bad.

Anonymous said...

Empirical proofs are for empirical phenomena, Cap'n.

To a man with a hammer...

TroperA said...

One of the problems with demanding empirical proof for God's existence is that it's impossible to provide it. Even if God Himself were to descend to your door, knock on it and say "It's me!" how would you know it was him? Sure he could read your mind and perform miracles, but how do you know the being doing that is the Creator God and not just some hyper-advanced alien pretending to be God? (And for that matter, how do you know that what you're seeing is real and that you're not having a psychotic episode?)

The problem with proving that God exists is that you have to stand at a reference point outside of creation in order to witness the proof. You'd have to be an equal to God (or his superior) to be able to assess whether or not the proof is valid. So when people say "Why doesn't God make his presence known to humankind directly or perform a bunch of miracles to prove that He exists?" The answer is, well, it wouldn't matter if he did. It would take just as much faith to believe that the awesome being performing all of the sparkly miracles is God and not a super-advanced alien, as it would take to believe that a non-interfering Creator called God exists.

Here's what I know for certain. Absolute Truth exists. Right and Wrong exists. Good and Evil exists. Is there an old man in the sky hurling punishment at people and an afterlife? I can't say for sure, but there is SOMETHING. Some forces at work in Nature besides "perpetuate as many of your genes as possible and make yourself happy even if you have to do so at someone else's expense."

Why do you hate the Leftist so much, Cappy? Why do you desire to save people from their stupid decisions? Because you know that Good and Evil exist. But if you look at Nature itself, you don't see Good and Evil there. You see "various factions of ruthless self interest vying for dominance" But Good, Evil and Absolute Truth have to come from SOMEWHERE? If not IN Nature, then where?

Anonymous said...

I'm convinced most Christians don't actually open the book and read it cover to cover. If they did, they must be really down with incest because Genesis is like a how-to of making a family tree from banging first cousins.

One would think, if this is all divinely arranged, would the Lord direct individuals to bastardize his cellular machinations with warped genetics? Let alone the social aspects of cousinfucking.

Probably something closer to Brahmanism. Jesus seems like a cool dude tho.

The joke is that you never get to know until you're dead and it vexes you the whole time because you want in on the humor.

Anonymous said...

1. I will immediately follow a religion with all of my might when EMPIRICAL PROOF is laid out before me (and do not say, "it's in the bible")

Ok consider that we have:
1: Schools that dumb down instead of educate
2: Media that misinforms us.
3: Doctors that are just pill pushers.
4: Churches that do not follow the Bible.
5: Politics that are not representative.
6: Food that is unnatural.
7: the list is endless and synergetic.

and you will see that we are living in a matrix of subversion where everything is working opposite to how you would expect it to. Of course the usual explanation for this is that it is all about money and on one level that is true, but I think it is to over simplify to blame the state of the world solely on mans greed. For example, thanks to globalisation we are only 1 economic crash away from getting a World Government. Many people already think that that would be a good idea. That didn't happen by accident and is described in the Bible.

So when we have a world that could accurately be described as Satanic (as in opposite to nature) and the prophesies in the Bible seem to be coming true, is it not rational to be a Christian?

A mustard seed for you too?

Anonymous said...

Alright Cap you asked for it you will get it:

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/scholarly-articles/the-existence-of-god

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-resurrection-of-jesus



This is just the start.



archerwfisher said...

What are you trying to convince yourself of, Clarey?

That deep down, everyone is as cynical and hopeless as you?

Wrong. Church is messed up compared to what it should be--but Christianity is still good.

And out of the billion of us or so that profess it--hundreds of millions of us truly do believe, in Christ, and the Scriptures.

No, it can't be scientifically proven. That's part of why it's called faith. Like many things, we can't measure it, quantify it, test it.

At the end of the day, science is just a philosophy of life. It can't explain life--science can't even explain with surety why we need to sleep.

Anonymous said...

Using only your human intellect, and logic, you can arrive at the conclusion that a god does in fact exist, that there is only one god, that that god is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. You can't quite get to the God of Christianity using only your intellect and logic, but what you can prove is: what Christianity says about the God Who does exist is completely compatible with logic and the reality you experience every day.

Follow the great thinkers of the ages, such as Aristotle and Aquinas. Read what they said and wrote. Follow their logic. Use your intellect.

If you want to get up to speed quickly on the logic required to prove that a god exists, either read this book: Aquinas by Edward Feser,
or watch these videos of Feser:
http://www.YouTube.com/watch?v=_1Dkp1U9pek
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-O40N4nNGUc
It is the second video in which Feser goes over the logical arguments for the existence of god. (In fact, it would be good to watch any video of Dr. Feser.)

If you watch the videos, be prepared to hit the pause and rewind buttons often, to review what Feser says, and work through the logic in your own mind. It is not easy or obvious logic to follow, but it is necessarily true.

If you want a proof from the opposite side -- that is, a proof that the ideas of both materialistic reductionism and emergent behavior are wrong, read Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False by Nagel.

If you are a thinking person, and you really desire to know the Truth, and you are willing to follow the logic wherever it leads, you must read these books and find out what these people before you have discovered -- just by using their own intellects and logic.

Go ahead, and refuse to believe anything that can't be proven. But on the other hand, insist upon believing what must necessarily be true, because it has been proven.

As I said above, this won't get you to the Christian God, but it will change you from being an agnostic or atheist into a theist. It will bring you that much closer to understanding and accepting Reality as It Really Is. And that is a good thing.

Anonymous said...

I'm a good Christian even though I don't go to church. I doubt. Heck, even Jesus was tempted in that desert (by that Obama look alike!)so the story goes. Doubt is good. Too much dogma leads to corruption like Islam. I also had a talk with my mother before she died of cancer.

I am never going to try to convince you but here's my point of view. Church is boring. The Vatican is boring. And bad people in the Church exploited their power, blah blah blah.

I'm an engineer. Some very smart people believed in God because of what they saw around them. Einstein, Franklin, etc. They could not understand why people would doubt the existence of God given what's out there. The whole of creation, the way it fits together.

Science can you the what, but not how or why.

One of the things that blew my mind is just the probability this earth had of having the right condition for life. Just the right mass. Just the right place for liquid water. Just the right tilt, spin, precession. A moon. All without which life would not exist.

There is also a branch of astrophysics looking at the probabilities that the universe ended up like this by examining universal constants. They came to the conclusion that "nature favours life" without naming God. A slight change in the charge of the electron (a universal constant) and stars would burn out too fast for life to have a chance to develop. A slight change the other way and nothing heavier than helium would form (no carbon). Even the way Carbon forms in a star is suspicious, the deck is stacked... SO said the guy who figured out how fusion within a star forms elements (right after WW2). Check it out on your free time. All these coincidences add up to such impossible odds that scientists are coming to the conclusion that the deck is stacked.

Yeah, I know you think I'm some kind of religious whacko trying to "bring you to God". I'm not. But if you are curious about this stuff, it is an interesting set of facts to consider.

SOme astrophysicists take the easy way out: There are a multitude of universes -the multiverse-- and we just happen to live in the one where all these constants align perfectly and life exist. Conveniently, since these other universes exist outside our universe, we cannot ever find them.

---Now who's pulling what out of their asses?

Anonymous said...

This is what I was referring to earlier

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fine-tuned_Universe

It is an interesting subject to delve into. Again, I don't give a crap about philosophy or theology or all this soft crap. I'm an engineer. When probabilities of this stuff happening randomly start getting so small (in the order one divided by 10 to the 128 power) to be equivalent to impossibility, then there should be an explanation other than randomness. Oh yeah, the "multiverse" thing. that makes a lot of sense, especially since it cannot be disproved (Can't be proved either, conveniently).

SO believers only have faith (and overwhelming probability eliminating randomness), but atheist astrophysicists have a theory - multiverse. Unprovable, by its very nature.

What is dogma?

Anonymous said...

It seems that a lot of your lieutenants have bought into the Christian creation myths hook, line and sinker. No worries though, Cap'n. I know plenty of strong manosphere types that recognize Christianity, and all of it's equally sad contemporaries, for what they are.

You're right to doubt. It's all hokum.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 6:17PM

What's your view then? Is materialism all that the universe if composed of?

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/social-brain-social-mind/201203/free-will-weighing-truth-and-experience


Are miracles a violation of natural laws?

Anonymous said...

Some time when you get to Madison, WI I'll buy you a beer and a steak BUT then you will have to listen to my story about my motorcycle accident and visiting heaven during my hospital stay.

Steve

Wraith said...

Cap'n, I'll just leave you with one link. Peruse at your leisure.

monster221 said...

belief is a choice. people who live their lives with ideas that there is "truth" and "one way" allow beliefs to dictate their lives. people who understand that it is choice can dictate their own lives.

i disagree with you that they dont believe it. but they dont believe it because they see it, or because they compared it with something, or because they explored it objectively. they believe it because they just do.

what they fail to see is that it is not objectively true, but a choice that affects their lives. and not to mention that most people believe it only in their minds, but act however they choose without realizing that that is all belief is.

if you ask me the idea that faith is a choice is much stronger than the threat that a lot of people live under, but its also a less profitable one.

sure they doubt. anybody that tells you they dont is a liar. everybody doubts their lives from time to time.

i personally dont believe any of it. its hulaballoo. but i find those that do tend to be more well rounded likeable and pleasant people. atheism is going through its militant change the world phase, and i want no part in that. they do believe it though, about as much as anybody can believe anything.

Marshallaw said...

Hey Cap. I too would put myself in the Agnostic bracket. To be honest I find the whole atheist, Richard Dawkins, etc. bunch a bit loud for my liking. I was brought up Catholic. I was adopted by two great parents when just a week old. They have given me a great life and I thank the church for them.
That said I am no apologist for the awful abuses committed in the name of Catholicism. Even though I wouldn't be a regular practising Catholic I always ask people do they really believe that if the Catholic church didn't exist in the morning there would be no child abuse?
I am also reminded of a story an English comedian told. He went around to a self confessed atheist friends house one day. As they sat down he offered the comedian a cup of tea. They were having a conversation about the meaning of life etc. The atheist was convinced the universe just happened, big bang theory,etc.
A little while later the atheist said, "oh I forgot about the tea, it won't make itself." The comedian responded," why not?"
Enjoying Batchelor Pad.....

leeholsen said...

Sorry for being late to this party, but work has been a monster this week. I felt i had to comment as a faithful reader here and someone who has written a book on God but someone who leans hard on God but also has doubts. I have no doubt that if my last days are in some hospital i will have doubts also; but that's normal. We all have doubts about anything you can't meadure like relationships, work projects, etc.

But you can't fault God for not giving you evidence by your measure. There is evuidence, there are multiple accounts of Christ apperaing after his death, you can choose to believe that or not; but you might consider that God set the christain belief up on a leap of faith and you might consider he wanted people to keep the faith for salvation or whatever reason you want to put for folling the christian God.

You might consider a few things like if the moon's orbit was just a little off, complex life forms would have never formed on earth or that the earth has been hit by earth altering meteors before but while man has walked around, that huge asteriod belt hasn't gotten one asteriod knocked off its path to end life on earth as we know it. I dont think you're giving enough credit for a God who makes the universe work so well for most people to live a life on earth while there's chaos going on throughout the universe daily.

I think of things like cancer part of the deal man got with having free will. things like cancer, war, enslavement are all a part of that imo.

you might look up norma jean hornsberger. she was a salvation army director who died at 40 of breast cancer after losng hger husband earlier to cancer. a freaking salvation army director and she died prematurely.

and there's also plenty of evidence on people who died and came back, you can choose to believe those stories or not.

there's all sorts of books you can read on evidence, but the problem you seem to be having is a lack of fairness by God and thats not what God is about. He's about you worshipping and fearing him and one last thing you might consider is by not making it easy to nail God down on a lot of things like cancer hitting people early is one of his methods to instill fear; it we all lived healthy to 100; there'd be no point in needing him before then.

i'd suggest watching the 700 club and seeing the missions it does and the personal stories of how God has cured people today with diseases that the doctors said to them had to be a miracler.

Long Lost Friend said...

Dude, where did this post come from? Did some JW's harass you at your door this weekend?

You pulled some serious liberal-style argumentation here, Cap. Starting by placing "serious Christians" and "intrepid, intellectually honest" people in mutually-exclusive categories makes me wonder if someone hacked your account. It's weak.

1. I will immediately follow a religion with all of my might when EMPIRICAL PROOF is laid out before me (and do not say, "it's in the bible")

And yet the bulk of your post is an anecdotal tale of your uncle's "testimony of doubt"...

Because I know, I KNOW FOR A FACT

EVERY
SINGLE
ONE
OF
YOU

have that doubt in your heart.


And I am sure you have "EMPRICAL PROOF" of this "FACT."

2. I am reminded of my younger years where the pastors/teachers had a non-answer to every question when people say, "doubt is part of faith."

Doubt and faith are not part of each other, but they are co-mingled to certain degrees in every Christian. We see Jesus talking to such a man in Mark 9:24.

The fact that your uncle did not have absolute assurance that he was 100% empirically correct does not invalidate his Christianity, any more than your ranting against it makes it untrue.

I'd be interested in a post on why you rejected Christianity, other than some smug declarations about how you started "thinking for yourself." Why is your father an EX-pastor? Why do you constantly refer to the Wisconsin Synod as representative of historic, biblical Christianity, when the Missouri Synod is far closer to the religion of Martin Luther and that of Scripture? (Note: I am not a Lutheran myself.) Attacking a liberal branch of Christendom as being hypocritical isn't going to get any arguments from me.

All your posturing here is just that. There have been (and still are) far more brilliant men than either of us on both sides of this debate. At the heart of this is more than mere intellectualism.

Jay Dee - SexWithinMarriage.com said...

Some of us believe simply because we've seen the improvements in our life from following.

Every time I take a step to follow God, my life improves, or my outlook on life improves.

That's all. Not tricks, no magic, just my own subjective evidence. That's my #1 reason.

Southern Man said...

Just a reminder for those of you using physics and astronomy...science can't prove anything. Science can only disprove. The current crop of accepted scientific theories (like general relativity) are simply those ideas that (a) describe what we see and (b) that no one has yet shown to be false. Be very, very careful with terms like "scientific proof." My recommendation is to not say that at all, ever.

Disclaimer, or whatever: Southern Man is a born-again fundamentalist Christian with a PhD in nuclear physics who makes his living teaching science and spends his life seeking God.

Hans said...

I see that half the comments section is busy trying to convert you. That sure aint gonna happen.

Don't worry too much though Captain, if you're right then you're in the clear. If you're wrong, then Jesus loves you all the same, you miserable sinner :P

Religion is fundamentally about creating something beyond this world - it might be called an air-castle or it might be called something great, worthy and uplifting.

The fact that we will never be able to prove that what we come up with in our minds conforms to some sort of supra-natural existence is what makes it faith and not science.

Clearly, not for everyone. You're a down-to-earth guy. So was I, but I guess I'm not anymore. I am fully aware that I might just be delusional - but I'll take my chances.

Faith cannot be proven. It can, perhaps, be experienced - even if I'll agree that I think most people are simply faking it.

Real faith takes something away from you at the same time that it gives something back. Most people can't stand the "taking away" part, so they'll just pretend that they were given something.

Captain Capitalism said...

Hans,

What gets me is how this is a complete 180 of what I experienced in church.

I woudl get whipped, beating, and punished for expressing doubt.

Now, everybody is scrambling to claim "doubt is good and normal" and HALF are saying, "well yeah, we really don't know" and the remaining 40% is defaulting to "there is a god, maybe not Christian, but there is a god."

REALLY!!!!!?????

So EVERYBODY ADMITS THERE'S NO PROOF, but let's STILL INDOCTRINATE KIDS????

Why, because kids don't know any better and you are physically stronger than them.

It disgusts me as to how it can be on such weak grounds, but then within the church make it sound like LAW and ostracize/punish you if you have questions.

Certainly some of the nicer religious folk are making kind arguments, but it's those bastards in the church that DARE to punish/abuse kids threatening them with demons and hell for not believing in some guy in a robe.

BadOPCode said...

Want to change a few Christians to hold a bit of doubt. Publish the bible with all it's revision authors and dates.
As far as the sins of hedonism and it being a leftist Progressive agenda... I think not.
Progressives are intolerant and convince those who don't practice the recycle ritual will cause the apocalypse. Old religions pray over food and new religions pray over garbage... whatever its all the same.
I'm not going to punish myself and force myself to feel guilty over something that isn't harming anyone.
I'm not going to hate Neo-Cons and Progressives because they believe I should and hate anyone who disagrees with them.
AND... I'm definitely not going to argue with a group of people that says "we don't need to try to follow the teachings of the teacher... just believe the teacher really existed. Because his lesson of 'Don't be an asshole' is just waaaay too hard to follow."
Go buy your sacrifices (or tithe as you call it now days) and go listen to your Pharisees.
John 8:44-45 IE: Kiss my ass!

winteryknight said...

Hey Captain, I am (I think) one of the authentic Christians who focuses his time on the defense of the faith. I think the best response to your desire for "empirical" proof would be to take two hours and watch a good debate with both sides. Maybe one on God's existence, and the other on the resurrection of Jesus, which is the most testable miracle claim in the NT.

If you want an entertaining debate, you can see William Lane Craig vs Christopher Hitchens:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KBx4vvlbZ8

If you want a close debate, the best one I have seen recently (it is an advanced level debate) was the William Lane Craig vs Peter Millican debate:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JVRy7bR7zI

A good debate on the historicity of the resurrection is the William Lane Craig vs James Crossley debate:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJpeJJlCK-U

These are all about 2 hours each.

On Friday, Dr. Craig will be debating Dr. Sean Carroll, a Caltech physicist, on whether cosmology is more compatible with theism or atheism.

Hope that helps! I'm taking a chance of being yelled at here, I realize, because you seemed really upset, but I'm just replying with what I think would be useful to you - hearing both sides in formal fixed-length-speeches debates in academic settings.

winteryknight said...

Here's something about Friday's debate on cosmology:
http://winteryknight.wordpress.com/2014/02/14/upcoming-greer-heard-forum-on-cosmology-featuring-sean-carroll-and-william-lane-craig/

The event will be live-streamed.

Sorry about your Uncle. I hope this gives you something to look into if you are ever curious about the evidence for both sides.

Ghost of 503 said...

"What gets me is how this is a complete 180 of what I experienced in church.

I woudl get whipped, beating, and punished for expressing doubt."

You uncle, according to you, understood that you were an outlier. Perhaps, much like Lauren Drain, you were raised in one too?

Anonymous said...

There are different forms of utility or value one can derive from church affiliation.

Like you, I am skeptical at the literal teachings and accounts from the Bible. I do not believe in the resurrection, afterlife, etc.

But I derive great value being part of a larger "family", people who will be there in my time of need and those that I can help in turn when their need arises.

For me, sitting in a pew during a service (probably ignoring the scripture or sermon) asking myself "have I been a good husband / father / coworker?". Self reflection is healthy and at least for me, church is where I reflect most deeply.

So while I concur that much of religious "belief" asks one to suspend observable reality, there are other aspects of religion that provide comfort and value to many.

Pax Empyrean said...

There is a world of difference between "I don't know if I really believe it" and "It's all bullshit."

This post does not do you credit.

Old Broad said...

Cappy, you've started a theological discussion. Did you do that on purpose? You naughty boy!

Father Thyme said...

Christianity is just a new label slapped on an old fear-insurance scam. Does the following sound familiar? (check out the date)

[...] they perform their ritual, and persuade not only individuals, but whole cities, that expiations and atonements for sin may be made by sacrifices and amusements which fill a vacant hour, and are equally at the service of the living and the dead; the latter sort they call mysteries, and they redeem us from the pains of hell, but if we neglect them no one knows what awaits us.

Plato (4th century BCE) The Republic. Book II.
classics.mit.edu/Plato/republic.html