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2/20/2007                                                                                       View Comments

Blind Man's Bluff

By DagoodS

You are in a building. The building contains a bomb which you must find. You do not know the size of the bomb, the make-up of the bomb, nor any markings on the bomb. It could be in any shape, and anywhere within the building. It could be a painting on the wall, the wallboard itself, or behind the wall.

You have a limited amount of time to find it. You are free to get advice from any bomb expert you choose, but there is no guarantee the bomb expert is correct. In fact, most bomb experts will tell you false information. You don’t know which ones are accurate and which ones are not.

Eventually you must make a choice as to what is the bomb. But you will not know whether that choice is correct until after the time of the bomb’s explosion.

Seems pretty incomprehensible, doesn’t it? Yet that is exactly what theists request of us. They claim there is a God in the building—that much is certain. But as to its size and shape and color, we are left totally in the dark.

How many times in our conversations with theists, have we come across the phrase, “God is mysterious. Incomprehensible. More than any finite mind could ever conceive or describe.”

Elsewhere, another blogger posed a question that I found intriguing: “If I cannot see God and if I cannot understand him, how will I know if I have found him?”

I have talked before about the concept of God and love. And when we compare what God does to what humans do—well, it doesn’t seem very loving. But when I point that out, I am met with shock—“Who are you to question God? Were you there when he made the foundations of the earth? His love is so much different, so beyond our comprehension (he died for you!) that it is nothing like it in the natural world.”

O.K. got it. Check. Can’t recognize God by love.

Or, when the question of love is brought up, I am informed that I am forgetting that God is just. But what does his justice look like? “Just” means in accordance with a law. What law does God have to follow? And, when he is merciful, he is deliberately not following the law. In other words, God is not bound by any justice or mercy at all. Since I cannot even see God, talking about some law beyond God (which he does or does not have to follow) that I see even less becomes meaningless.

O.K. got it. Check. Can’t recognize God by justice or mercy.

And I am informed that God defines absolute morality. But then I view actions in the Tanakh that go against the moral intuition he allegedly gave me. Things like asking a person to perform human sacrifice to prove their loyalty. Genocides. Hardening hearts. When I ask about those things, that don’t seem very moral to me, I am told I must accept God as moral, and while it doesn’t appear moral, God had to have a moral reason for it.

O.K. got it. Check. Can’t recognize God by morality.

I have no way to verify if God is speaking the truth. If God is bound by truth, and I ask, “Can you lie?” he must answer “No.” But if he is NOT bound by truth, and I ask, “Can you lie?” he can still answer “No”! Same question. Same answer. Two completely different Gods. No way to verify whether God is telling the truth.

O.K. got it. Check. Can’t recognize God by truth.

If I am talking to a young earth creationist, I am informed that God could make the stars appear to be billions of light years away, and make the earth appear to be billions of years old, by creating it looking old. But it really is young. And I am told by old earth creationists, that God didn’t mean “day” when he inspired the author of Genesis 1, but rather God meant “a long, long time” and that God created light before he created the sun. Which is completely contrary to science. But God did that because he did not want it to be too easy for us to believe in creationism.

O.K. got it. Check. Can’t recognize God by science.

I am told by Christians that Mormon scriptures are not from God and the Qur’an is not from God, and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures is not from God. That certain books, although esteemed as canonical at one time, like 1 Clement, Epistle of Barnabas and Shepherd of Hermas, are not inspired either. And now, we have questions as to whether the ending of Mark, or the Story of the Adulterous woman is inspired. In fact, the Christians can’t seem to agree on a method by which we can determine a certain string of words is inspired or not.

All of which doesn’t matter, because even without holy writings, I will still be held responsible.

O.K. got it. Check. Can’t recognize God by writings.

The Muslims have miracle stories of their own. So do Hindus. And Catholics have a weekly sighting of Mary, in cooked items or bridge underpasses. Mormons and Seven-Day Adventists have moving stories of personal testimony by which they tell of life-transformations because of their God. But those are the wrong Gods. The humans have it wrong, I am told.

O.K. got it. Check. Can’t recognize God by testimonies.

At which point, I wonder, as my blogger friend said: If I can’t recognize a God—how would I know it if I see it?

The problem with “God is mysterious” is that the impetus is on us to play this blind man’s bluff game with a ticking bomb, and the theist is puzzled why we have difficulty perceiving God. For the reasons they just explained—he is not like anything we know.

If your claim of reality is incomprehensible—why be surprised if I don’t comprehend it? I’m just following instructions.

26 comments:

punchybird said...

That was great. I really injoyed that.

Jim Arvo said...

DagoodS,

That was very well done. To most of us here it's fairly obvious that believers are hoisted by their own petard of "incomprehensibility," but it's next to impossible to get them to see it. They can wax eloquent (or, more often, just babble) about god's mysterious ways and his utter transcendence in one breath, then inform us of his wishes, his intentions, and his reasoning in the next. This is another example of how believers can be champion compartmentalists (or how about "compart-mentalists"?), blithely filing all the disturbing bits in a drawer called "mysterious" while tossing just about everything else, including legitimate mysteries, into the "God did it" bin.

(FYI: In your second-to-last paragraph, "impetus" should probably be "onus".)

Jamie said...

(FYI: In your second-to-last paragraph, "impetus" should probably be "onus".)

And "Seven-Day Adventist" should be Seventh-day Adventist"...some get irate if you capitalize the "day" and don't use the dash, for some reason...

Seriously, though, I really enjoyed this peace. I don't think I'm an atheist, but in the past few weeks I have quickly moved from "believer" to "agnostic". Truthfully, I don't want to be an atheist. I want to believe there is more out there and that our death isn't the end of our relationship with all those we love. And yet, I can't believe all of those things I was taught to believe as a Christian.

So for now, I'm hanging around in Thomas's camp...he said he wouldn't believe until he could see and touch the scars on Jesus hand. As the story goes, Jesus showed up and let Thomas see. If God is the same yesterday today and tomorrow, then it stands to reason that he'd do the same for me...if he exists.

Until then, I am a doubter...and agnostic. Because I simply don't know.

Jamie said...

I really enjoyed this peace

See what I get for correcting people? At least Karma seems to be alive and well...

I meant that I really enjoyed this piece!

Michelle said...

**the story goes, Jesus showed up and let Thomas see. **

I never understood why Thomas got yelled at for that. When people asked if Jesus was the Messiah, he said to keep looking at his works and the miracles, and if you didn't believe what he was saying, you at least had the proof in the healings and such.

And the healings had Old Testament support.

But the Resurrection? Of course people were going to doubt that until they had concrete proof. It hadn't happened before, and that was so outside the realm of what they had dealt with before.

However, I do like Elaine Pagels theory that it was written in there by the writer to counteract the Gospel of Thomas.

Steven Bently said...

To Jamie, all people are born with no preconceived beliefs.

No one was born with a pre-existing knowledge of Gods, ghosts, spirits, Jesus, Allah, Santa, your language, Heaven or Hell, etc, etc.

All beliefs and your native language arrive to you by mimicking and repeating what is taught to you by other humans only.

Now to prove to you or anyone, that neither a God nor a Jesus exist, because all beliefs taught to you:

Disappear when you go to sleep
Disappear when you are unconscious
Disappear when you are under anesthetics
Disappear when you are dead

This proves 100% that all things learned while your brain is conscious, suddenly disappears when your brain is either dead or unconscious.


Imagine all people removed from the Earth, God and Jesus and all Gods and myths suddenly disappear, Where do they go? They do not exist, they exist only in the conscious indoctrinated mind.

Gods and saviors are only from the fabrication of the human mind of other people.


I challenge anyone to prove my statement in Bold, above, to be wrong or untrue!

After death, you go to where you where before you were born, to complete nothingness.

Ken said...

"All beliefs and your native language arrive to you by mimicking and repeating what is taught to you by other humans only."

But then where did the first human get his/her belief in God to pass on to you?

Telmi said...

DagoodS,

Simply excellent!

Steven Bently said...

Ken: " But then where did the first human get his/her belief in God to pass on to you?"

ans: The very same place the first person got the (blue print)to build the wheel, using his/her imagination.

If man does not have a God, he will invent one.

We use wheels or oval devices every day in our lives, yet we do not give thanks to it's inventer, nor do we pray to the wheel.

Man had to invent a way to communicate to his imaginary god, he called it prayer.

Man also had to invent a way to eventually come into contact with his creator God, so he invented the soul.

Man's imaginary God is a reflection of himself.

Now we're back to zero, which is just fine with me.

SpaceMonk said...

Dagoods, I liked that piece.
I'll try to keep it in mind for when I'm next discussing religion with my christian relatives.


Ken wrote:
"But then where did the first human get his/her belief in God to pass on to you?"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyerwOIwfRc


Steven Bently,
I don't think that bold statement really does anything, or I just don't get it.

It seems a bit like that, "If a tree falls in the woods" thing.

The house I grew up in will (probably) still exist after I'm dead, and no longer conscious.

Yet also, sometimes when I'm asleep I still visit it.

Spirula said...

But then where did the first human get his/her belief in God to pass on to you?

Best way to answer that is to look at the anthropological history of religious belief.

In my view, if one looks at tribal beliefs, they are typically "spirits" that resemble other living things, reflecting a close relationship with their ecosystems. Once humans accepted a "civilized" way of living, they became less connected with their ecosystem, and their social structure revolved around individuals or a small group with great authority (e.g. kings), subsequently their deities anthropomorphized.

Dawkins does a fair job dealing with this issue in "The God Delusion".


If, however, you are trying to imply that the apparent ubiquity of belief in "god" is "evidence" for god's existence you're stuck with the problem that the existence of many, many versions of god(s) implies there is no TRUE god in the first place.

tigg13 said...

You know what your problem is, Dagoods? Your problem is, you hate the bomb! Your so full of hate for the bomb that you've shut your eyes to its glorious existance.

You have you love the bomb. You must see it with your heart, feel it with your mind, smell it with your kidneys...

Then, and only then, will you not only know the bomb, but you'll understand that a flying dead man on a stick disarmed it 2000 years ago.

And you will live forever in a place ten times better than paradise (tax free, even!)

But because you hate the bomb so much that you don't realize that it is no longer active, you will be blown to pieces by it.

Oh, and all of those people who "think" they know the one truth about the bomb but don't - they're history too.

Same goes for all those folks who were never even informed that there was a bomb, splatter city.

Steven Bently said...

To Spacemonk, I never realized there exists people that dense, if that being the case, then I'm most certainly wasting my time here or anywhere else.

First off, I'm not talking about a house or a tree, ok? I'm talking about stored memory, (thoughts) that you and every human being that has ever lived, that has allowed yourself to store in your brain, are you still with me?

When you are dead,(your brain no longer functions) unless you happen to think it does.

All thoughts of anything you've allowed your brain to accept (while living)as being true, regardless of what those thoughts may be, after death, no longer exists.

Do you agree or disagree?

After death, do you think your brain continues to think and live beyond being demised?

If you do, then you need to go to a cemetery and have daily conversations with the dead, because they sure would like to talk to you.

It still stands that:

All indoctrinated beliefs disappear, when you go to sleep, they reappear as soon as you wake up.

All indoctrinated beliefs disappear, when you are unconscious, they reappear when you your brain returns to consciousness

All indoctrinated beliefs disappear, when you are under
anesthetics, they reappear when you are revived.

All indoctrinated beliefs disappear, when you are dead, and never reappear, unless you can prove me wrong.

I do not know how to make it any clearer.

If you can prove to me or anyone, that the brain continues to think beyond the grave, I would be interested in seeing your proof, I know a house or a tree may still exist, I'm talking about a brain, you know, the thing that stores everything you've allowed yourself to store and accept as either true or false.

While asleep, the brain cannot dream about a God or Jesus or Allah, etc. because it (the brain) does not know what they look like, unless you do, then please send pictures.

While the brain is unconscious or dead, to me it's obvious what the brain pereives, NOTHING..!!!

Can you remotely comprehend this what I'm saying, or trying to convey?

Are you this dense, or is my lack of communication skills that poor?

I really need to know :-)

All indoctrinated beliefs are just that, indoctrinated beliefs,(learned by repetition) nothing more, unless you can prove me wrong, then please do so.

J.C. Samuelson said...

Steven,

"To Spacemonk, I never realized there exists people that dense, if that being the case, then I'm most certainly wasting my time here or anywhere else."

Easy! 'Monk is one of us, mate! He can speak for himself, but I don't think he was attacking you. I always find it better to read something more than once just to make sure I understand what a person is saying. It helps me avoid knee-jerk reactions (I tend to get worked up easily). Well, most of the time. Just a suggestion.

In any case, even after your explanation I'm still somewhat mystified as to what it proves. There is a huge difference between simple unconsciousness and death. Simply falling unconscious does not cause the brain to cease functioning, whereas this is exactly what happens at death.

Indoctrinated beliefs do not disappear when a person is simply unconscious. They are stored and sometimes manipulated by the unconscious self (e.g., in dreams). Images and concepts don't need to be accurate or true to be used by the brain in this way when someone is sleeping, or even comatose. That's how people can say they've had a dream of Jesus, zombies, unicorns, aliens, the Easter Bunny, or any number of other people, places, or things (imaginary and otherwise) they've never actually seen or experienced. Of course, dreams don't usually come close to reflecting reality, but that's beside the point.

The point is that I'm sure that nearly all of us would agree that when you die, your thoughts and beliefs die with you (unless, perhaps, you've taught them to someone else or written a book about them - i.e., your legacy). However, it seems likely that few would agree that they disappear when a person sleeps, even if a person isn't actively "thinking" about them.

With regard to the house 'Monk referred to, maybe he was referring to how our beliefs don't determine reality or truth. That is, the house exists or doesn't whether 'Monk is around to experience it or not. In the same way, our beliefs about something do not determine its reality. So, when a person dies that doesn't mean that the god they believed in dies with them. It means that the person who died no longer believes anything about their god, because the brain no longer functions to store or manipulate the belief.

To put it another way, if deity exists or not it would continue to exist or not regardless of whether we believe in it or not. When we die our beliefs may disappear, but not necessarily their objects.

Just some thoughts from someone who's on your side.

Steven Bently said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven Bently said...

JCS: "In any case, even after your explanation I'm still somewhat mystified as to what it proves."

It proves that indoctrinated beliefs are just that, indoctrinated beliefs.

If a person is born blind and deaf and never hears about a god or saviors, how can they form an image of a god or Jesus or Allah, etc. in their minds?

But a person born with hearing and can read, can form an internal image of a God or Jesus or Allah, etc. only because they have been indoctrinated, (confirmed by repetition)to believe that gods and saviors do in fact exist.

But when you go to sleep your mind cannot form an image of a god or Jesus or Allah, etc. because the unconcious mind has never seen those images.

It's real simple, if gods and saviors were real, they would be self evident, no indoctrination needed.

If a belief in a god or saviors were real, they would never leave your mind ever, regardless of the state of the mind, otherwise this would guarantee their existance.

The indoctrinated mind (confirmed by repetition)is the only source for the existance of gods and saviors, unless anyone can prove me wrong, I stand unchallenged!

In short, had no one ever heard of the Bible, they would have no reason to believe in it, it's presence does not guarantee it's veracity.

Thanks for your input, JCS

punchybird said...

Quite right, why else would there be missionary's going to the deepest jungles of Africa to convert people WHO NEVER HEARD OF GOD OR JESUS?

tigg13 said...

Hi Steven.

I don't think it is your conclusion that anyone is questioning, so much as it is your premise.

A lot of the confusion has to do with the way you are using the term 'disappear'.

You say that our indoctrinated beliefs disappear when we loose consciousness, which proves that they don't exist. But, what doesn't disappear when we loose consciousness? Our identities, our memories, song lyrics, multiplication tables, the love we feel for those closest to use; these are all things that we learn that 'disappear' when we loose consciousness. Are you saying that none of these things actually exist?

When a magician makes a tiger disappear does that mean that tiger wasn't really there - or just that you can no longer perceive of its existance?

The real point that you are making, I believe, is that you see no physical manifestation that can be identified as evidence of a god or saviour - just belief, conjecture and opinions that are contuinuously propagated by religious institutions. (And I think we would all agree with you on this)

To say that gods and saviours cannot exist because we are not aware of then when we loose consciousness is to misapprehend what consciousness is.

SpaceMonk said...

Steven,

I do comprehend what you are saying, and I don't disagree with your statements, just the point you're linking it to.

It may be a good point for someone who doesn't believe in god, but it's not something that will have any persuasive impact on a christian, ie. 'doesn't do anything'.

As has been said, if a god does exist, then whether we believe it or not, or even know about it, doesn't affect it's existence.

The same as the house I grew up in.
You don't know what that house looks like. You would have never even attempted to imagine it before now.
It would never have entered your mind, but it still exists, and probably will long after we're dead (being brick and all).

Steven Bently said...

Thanks for your understanding SpaceMonk. Let me try to end this madness, since I started it, my premise was that, Gods and saviors could only be envisioned concepts, not physical in nature, because you have an image of your house you grew up in, in your mind and you can go to it and prove it's physical existance, but I cannot imagine what your house looks like, so it's not imprinted in my mind and I cannot prove it exists.

Just as envisioned gods and saviors may hold a place in my mind, I cannot prove that any gods or saviors exists outside of my internal memory (mind).

Therefore if I die, all envisioned gods and saviors disappear along with all my thoughts, therefore gods and saviors could only be envisioned concepts.

After death, there's no physical residue to return to and say see they (gods and saviors) do exist, like say a tree or a house.

Gods and saviors and myths can only exist in the indoctrinated mind.

Unless someone wants to show us some physical proof.

I do not think I can make this any clearer. TC

boomSLANG said...

I think what Bently's alluding to is that since there's no empirical evidence for such an being as a "God", then said "being" can only exist as a concept--a product of the mind. From there, I think he's saying that when there is a complete cessation of "thought"--"thought", being a product of the mind, or "consciousness"--then "God", as a concept, "disappears" right along with the "self" that was perceiving it in the first place.

Obviously, a "house" exists empirically, and it will continue to exist whether we can perceive it, or not.

Am I close, Bently?

dano said...

Forwarded:
anonymous said:
"i don tink it rite U want let us rite on ur web cite. wat was da madder wid U? U hate cristens!!! Wel i tel U wat im gonna b preyin fer U 2 chang yer mine
yer fren in crist anonymous

R.I.P anonymous

Steven Bently said...

Exactly..! Thanks Boomy :-)

Anonymous said...

You're in a building and there's a bomb. The bomb is ticking and the destruction will be complete.

There's a big exit sign in front of you. Get your butt out.


Kevin H

tim said...

Steven....Your bold statement is a good try but it disproves itself. While your ideas of "100% disappears" would be more to the thiest side. Death being the only unprovable point I will point out that while you are in a state of nothing thought or remembered you still exist hence only your memory of events dissapears. This would re-enforce a thiest's point that just because you are unaware of something or have no mental conection with it does not prove it does not still exist. Just my opinion... Seems the universe (or God if there is one)has played a Unique hand in this topic. There is not a way for either side to physically prove there is or is not a God. Both require the same decision process and Christianity does not hold the mold on "faith". It all comes down to what you BELIEVE to be true. As pointed out in the originally article God was not bound by truth anymore than we are in matters of concious thought about a thing. Show me a lifeless angel and I will believe that angels could or did exsist. Show me a lifeless demon and I will believe that demons could or did exsist. SHOW ME GOD! No person can and so an ignorant person says he can prove therefore he does not exist. I need more I guess. That is why I enjoy reading these discussions I guess. Personally I am not here to prove "God or Not" but rather gather more information that I can use to find MY TRUTH and settle things in my own mind. The problem with most christians (I spent 36 years being the son of a pastor) is they want you to believe "just as they do" and there is no proof. Good article and discussion.

Steven Bently said...

Thanks for your comments!

My premise is that, had no one ever heard the word GOD, they would not have any reason to 'think' that there is a GOD, because there is no evidence to suggest a GOD exists.

The Bible tells us there is a GOD, yet according to John 1:18 "No man hath seen God at any time."

The only reason a person has to 'think' that there is a GOD is because, someone wrote down in a book that there exists a GOD.

When you are dead and your brain no longer thinks, there is no longer a reason to think there is a GOD.

The brain thinks there is a GOD, because it has been told to think there is a GOD, because other people think there is a GOD and have said "There is a GOD!"

When we arrive on this Earth, it has already been established to most everyone's satisfaction, that there is in fact, a GOD.

The churches have already been built, the cemetaries are already there, a preacher has already been planted into the church as a spokesman for this GOD, the Christian religion has had over 500 years to establish their religion and GOD to appear to be a genuine fact.

But if you will reverse the time line from where the Christian religion began, the churches have only accumulated over the last 200 years, and if you keep reversing the time line, you will return to a time when a Bible nor a church was ever on American Soil, pre-1492.

This is when the Native Americans
had never heard of the Bible GOD, so they had absolutely no reason to believe or think that a Bible GOD existed.

It is estimated that approx. 50 million Indians lived on American soil over 13,000 years before it was discovered by the white self-righteous Europeans.

That means that 50 million Indians
lived gracefully for over 13,000 years with no reason to think a Bible GOD existed.

Yet over in Europe and in the Arab countries during the very same time period, people were sent to hell and having demons cast out of them by the 3-in-1, miracle worker, Jesus.

God was over there counting hairs and casting people into hell, while the American Indians were living normal lifestyles without any thoughts of God, Jesus, heaven and hell.

This proves that the only place a GOD or Jesus or a heaven or a hell exists is in the thoughts in people brains placed there through indoctrination, placed there by people claiming there exists a God only because they say there is a God.

Had no one ever heard of the Bible, there would not be any reason for a person to 'think'
that a Bible Gods exists.

We can only 'think' there is a GOD, we cannot prove there is a GOD.

We cannot 'know' there is a GOD.

After death there is no more thinking, the brain does not know it is dead.

Thanks for the discusssion Tim and everyone else.