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1/21/2010                                                                                       View Comments

Second Star to the Right

By Ted Gresham

The Triangulum GalaxyImage by gainesp2003 via Flickr

There's a poster on my bedroom door of the Triangulum Galaxy. I bought it at the VLA Radio Telescope in Socorro, NM. I love that place! Sometimes I pass by the poster, point at a spot, and say, “I want to go there!”

A few years back I was digging around in Hubble photos and discovered the Deep Field Survey. When I read about that picture and understood the magnitude of what it represented the little bit of belief in a creator within me that still existed began to flame out.

The news lately has been carrying new stories about an updated Deep Field called the Hubble Ultra Deep Field:
“Astronomers announced in a series of papers over the fall and in a news conference last week that Hubble had recorded images of the earliest and most distant galaxies ever seen, blurry specks of light that burned brightly only 600 million to 800 million years after the Big Bang.” NYT, 1.12.10

It's not so much the view into history that amazes me, though that is incredible. The most wonderful and somewhat terrifying part of the Hubble Deep Field is how it reveals the unbelievably enormous size of this universe. In contrast we're specks on specks on specks. We're nothing. It was news articles about the Ultra Deep Field that encouraged me to “out” myself as an atheist and seek friendly people of like minds. How, if this entire universe is “created,” could such a creator even notice us, much less “care” and “love” us, or be anything like what theists say the “creator” must be. I just don't buy it. Not any more.

Out there, in the universe I see the face of our ancestors and our human destiny—if we don't destroy ourselves first. We are created but our “creator” is the universe itself, the magnificent glow that lights our sky at night, the penetrating heat and collection of element that makes us who we are. Whatever made us to be human came from the universe and out of the universe.

Few Christians have much of an interest in hard science. There are virtually no fundamentalists or evangelicals in the upper ranks of Astronomy, Geology, Paleontology or similar scientific disciplines. The Christian world view cannot accept what these sciences reveal. My interest in Astronomy was always at odds with the tiny world of my Christian friends. We can have fun with Science Fiction but there was and is no accepting of science fact. I struggled with some of it myself for a long time but science won me over.

Religion is the ultimate Truman Show, a fake world with artificial props, players acting their parts, absolute limits to sky, earth, and society. Science has forever been an enemy of Christianity. This is especially true of any science that could possibly contradict Biblical “truth.” (Of course “truth” is defined by church hierarchy and adjusted over time when it becomes too ridiculous to be believed.) Biology, Geology, Physics and Astronomy all push the boundaries of human understanding. They left religious belief behind many decades ago. I look up and see a universe full of unbelievable complexity that I will never know. Christians look up and merely see the “face of god” thinking some day god will tell them all about it when they get to heaven. It's just a bunch of pretty dots and darkness to them. They may as well be naming the constellations after prophets and assuming the whole thing revolves around the earth. They do not care what exists out there, the meaning of fossil records, the obvious reality of evolutionary processes because it shakes their little box. I speak more of the fundamentalist and absolutest Christian sects than of the more liberal and philosophical denominations. To the fundamentalist (from whence I came) “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.”

But it doesn't.

I love to fly, especially in small planes. Once I and a friend lifted off in a Cessna 172 just before sunrise on a mission to photograph my home town from the air. Flying at about three thousand feet or so we headed east where the sunrise inflamed a lake creating an indescribable vista. Then we turned west, towards town. I could not begin to photograph town, however, because it was buried in a fluffy fog. The tips of a few tall trees poked out of the massive white blanket. We returned to the airport.

An hour later we took off again. The town was there before us, clear and distinguishable. Religion is like that fog. People live within the comfort of a confined world. The sky above is not visible. It's hidden by a blanket of dogma and doctrine. In time when one rises above it and looks down the skies clear and reality shows what lies beneath. But unlike in the real world the fog never clears for most caught in a religious fog. The cloud is perpetual, invasive, and held over their heads by fear and uncertainty.

Religion is the ultimate Truman Show, a fake world with artificial props, players acting their parts, absolute limits to sky, earth, and society. It's not god sitting up in the control room but a collection of theologians and ministers carefully dictating what to believe. Every time I poked my head above the fluff of Christianity things became more clear. Like Truman in cinema fiction there came a time when I figured out everything was fake and contrived. I weathered the storm purposely created to keep me back and slipped through the “door in the sky.”

Shakespeare through the voice of Hamlet spoke immortal words:
“There's more to heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophies.”

Indeed, there's much more than Christianity or any theist religion will ever admit. I cannot any longer linger on a flat earth. I have to reach higher, much higher.

What to do now? I've moved away from Christianity, through Buddhism to its outer edges and have at last settled into a realistic view of existence. Should I look back and hope a few Christians will follow? Should I check my wake, see if it's rattling a few boxes and adjust my speed so they're not harmed? Should I impede my own progress out of consideration of what the majority thinks of my “heretical” views?

Doing a little search about science and Christianity I ran across a long article describing theories about the origins of the universe written by a PhD in Philosophy named Dr. Lane Craig. He began his article with this:

From time immemorial men have turned their gaze toward the heavens and wondered. Both cosmology and philosophy trace their roots to the wonder felt by the ancient Greeks as they contemplated the cosmos...

...The question of why the universe exists remains the ultimate mystery. Derek Parfit, a contemporary philosopher, declares that "No question is more sublime than why there is a Universe: why there is anything rather than nothing." (http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/ultimatequestion.html)

Craig goes on page after page describing theories. Following them he concludes the Big Bang remains the best theory. Then he slips off the slope and says, “The problem with saying that the Big Bang is an event without a cause is that it entails that the universe came into being uncaused out of nothing, which seems metaphysically absurd.” Because science says there is no cause for the Big Bang or that the cause can't be known Craig calls the theory absurd. There HAS to be a cause or a reason!

Craig draws these conclusions:
We can summarize our argument as follows:
  1. Whatever exists has a reason for its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external ground.
  2. Whatever begins to exist is not necessary in its existence.
  3. If the universe has an external ground of its existence, then there exists a Personal Creator of the universe, who, sans the universe, is timeless, spaceless, beginningless, changeless, necessary, uncaused, and enormously powerful.
  4. The universe began to exist.Therefore, the universe is not necessary in its existence.
  5. From (2) and (4) it follows that
  6. Therefore, the universe is not necessary in its existence.
  7. From (1) and (5) it follows further that
  8. Therefore, the universe has an external ground of its existence.
  9. From (3) and (6) we can conclude that
  10. Therefore, there exists a Personal Creator of the universe, who, sans the universe, is timeless, spaceless, beginningless, changeless, necessary, uncaused, and enormously powerful.

Only fellow philosophers can follow the rabbit trail of logic Craig offers. We mere mortals puzzle at complicated reasoning. But having dabbled briefly in logic (a math requirement which I did not do too well in) I can recognize a fallacy when I see one. The fallacy in Craig's conclusions is evident in his first point, that “whatever exists has a reason.” This is the fallacy of theism. Without the belief that there is a reason the purpose of god evaporates.

Philosophy deals with reason and reasons. Science, however, deals in causes. Reason assumes intelligence while cause is random and arbitrary. That is the whole argument of religion summed up in a single sentence, isn't it? From our infancy (we born and reared in a “Christian” home) we are programmed to believe everything has a reason. Thus for our entire lives we look for reasons. We do not look for causes. There is a difference.

A rock falls from the sky (caused by its being in proximity to earth because it was sent towards earth by another planet's gravity because it passed near that planet because it was blasted from a star in a distant system because... on back to the infinitum of universal history.) When the rock strikes earth it throws up a massive cloud, disrupts the surface, creates havoc, and people die. Were we here for eternity we could trace the source of that rock back through time and space but we're not. We can only surmise something caused something that caused something that caused the rock. We can easily see that the rock is the cause of earth disruptions, destruction and damage. We cannot ever know the “original cause” of the rock coming our way. But was there a “reason” for the rock hitting earth?

Did god send that rock? Craig the philosopher says yes. I say no. If god sent the rock then why? And knowing the laws of the universe, velocity, time and space, etc., it's clear that the rock began its trek towards our solar system many millions of years ago. God, then, would have to have planned to whack the earth on such date in 2010 at some point before the origin of our planet. But our planet is only six thousand years old? How can that be? Or perhaps the earth really is as old as geology says but what of Adam and Eve? When philosophers like Craig start mixing theology with cosmology there are always glaring holes. To say god sent the rock to earth is tantamount to saying he thumped it in our direction like a marble on a playground, just for fun maybe.

In the end all Craig manages to say in so many words is, “God made it, I believe it, that settles it.”

But I, again, say it does not settle it. Not for me.

There is within me, the ex-Christian, such an excruciating need to understand “why.” Only reason can answer “why.” Cause has no “why” beyond (a) banged into (b) and caused (c) because (x) hit (a) and we were not there to see what came before. No reason, just cause. I want to know WHY, dammit! But I know there is no “why” to know.

Knowing there really is no “why” seems to belittle us all to a point where we are nothing. The Hubble Ultra Deep Field indeed reveals that we are, in the scope of our universe, less than nothing, smaller and less significant than a speck of dust on an amoeba.

We are nothing. But how did we discover we are nothing? How have we become aware of all that is out there? Did mere evolution, cause that led to cause that led to cause that led to cause, eventually push us to look up into the night sky and see more than dark and light? If this is so there should be a “cause and effect” that made it so and a “cause and effect” we can discover for ourselves. We have not yet made that discovery. We're missing a big piece of the puzzle. Is that piece gone or beyond our grasp in the same way the history of the universe is too far away in space and time for us to understand origins or actually know the Big Bang is valid theory? Evolution, cause that led to cause, explains our biology. It does not so much explain our intellect. It is this nagging thought that keeps so many people clinging to religion and looking there for an answer.

Dawkins and others merely make assumptions based upon the scant information they have. Evolution is the end all for them. But their position seems as tenuous as religionists. The evidence showing how a human could have evolved an intellect, sentience, thirst for knowledge and rise towards the stars in noisy rocket ships does not, as far as I know, exist. Science continues to seek the cause. Religion pushes cause aside and provides reason. So must I go mad, bouncing between Craig's assumption and Dawkins' conclusions? I just might.

But I don't think I will go mad. I fall too close to Dawkins and far enough away from Craig on the scale of belief to keep a little of my sanity. Though it still pains me to say so I do not believe there is a “reason.” There is, however, a cause. That cause will not be found in fables, folk tales or religious fantasies. It's not nearly enough to simply say, “god says it, I believe it....” etc.. Not at all. Craig is correct in when he says it's absurd to believe the Big Bank was an event without a cause. But it's not that the Big Bank was without cause, there was no doubt a cause, just one we specks on specks on specks will never, ever know.

Craig's leap from cause to reason, however, is too far a jump. No, we do not have a “reason.” There is a “cause” however. We are not going to find that cause in metaphysical or religious dogma. We will find it, eventually, if we look hard enough and far enough within ourselves as a species and beyond ourselves into that universe above our heads. If we are to ever progress beyond who we are, then, we have to simply turn our back to those who refuse to follow and move on. I have returned to the question of where to go from here.

Did science itself stop when religion started screaming? No. Why then should I? I'm sorry that those I know, some I love deeply, others I once had fellowship with, remain in their little boxes. I don't mean to deliberately rock their boat but any tiny step I make to reach that universe above me will without any doubt shake them. The only way to keep them from being jostled would be to stay still. I won't. I just won't. The “why” I seek is not for reason but for a cause. The hunger for knowledge that brought us all to the edge of space is stronger within me than the desire for religious comfort. If the majority of humanity is happy banging off the top of their little box like upside-down pogo sticks so be it. My box broke. No more banging for me.

By day my mind reacts and recoils at the religious establishment, the suppressive doctrines and convoluted reasoning such as Craig and many others expound, confusing the less educated and less willing. I am appalled at the wars and hatred and fears and injustice wrought in the name of religion. By night my eyes sparkle with wonder and awe at the sky above my head. I am forever a child of the night, not of darkness but of an open sky with a billion billion points of light that beckon, calling me out there. Forget the day, I say, live for the night. Live for what is before us, above and beyond the speck we call Earth, beyond the blink of time humans have existed, and for the future of humankind.

We cannot look back nor be apologetic. We should not allow our past or those who cling to a theistic religion hold our feet down. They will blame us, they will condemn us, they will call us heretics, sinners and reprobates. So be it. We know, we who have flown above the clouds, that all we are and all we can be is not found in a backward-facing religious dogma but a forward-facing search for real and ultimate truth.

Another dreamer of the night, Isaac Asimov, said, “Humanity has the stars in its future, and that future is too important to be lost under the burden of juvenile folly and ignorant superstition.” Religion calls us back. It wants us in the fold, part of the group, conforming to its own established norms. But it's too late for that, at least in my case. Atheist, Buddhist, these are mere labels. Ultimately they are not definitions. I am a visionary with my eyes glued to the sky. I will not look back. I will never go back.

Shakespeare invented the phrase and concept of the Undiscovered Country explored in the Star Trek VI. Whether we're talking life after this, life before this, or merely the life of the human race, we'll not find answers back in space dock. The only place we'll find it, if we find it, is “out there.” Out there, then, is where I'm going....

"Course heading, captain?"

"Second star to the right, and straight on 'til morning."


...The Beginning


86 comments:

webmdave said...

We are created but our “creator” is the universe itself...

I agree and like how you phrased this. I do take issue with those who say "God said it, I believe it, and that settles it." God didn't say anything.

The problem with Craig is that he can't see anything but his God. Science to him is worthless and meaningless, because as my son says, "Science has all but proven there is no god". Craig can't handles this so he clings to archaic/outdated beliefs.

webmdave said...

Ted,

John Loftus who comes here knows Craig and If I remember correctly John was taught and trained by him in seminary. John points out the same thing you are saying that Craig's arguments are rooted in a primal faith that simply can not face the facts.

I think I read , perhaps on Ken Pulliam's blog http://formerfundy.blogspot.com/, that William Lane Craig said he would still believe in the resurrection of Jesus even if he was allowed to go back 2000 years and sit and verify at the tomb that it did not ever happen. Why? His own "personal experience" was enough verification for him. Thus faith and the witness of the Holy Sprit is all that counts and facts be damned is the outcome.

I admit Craig says it without the accent of the ignorant but the content and end conclusion of what he is saying arrives at the same place. Does blind leading the blind come to mind for anyone (grin).

I think Stephen Hawking who brought up the Big Bang as the cause of the Universe later with new understanding of sub atomic quantum physics made a retraction saying that at that level it would be improper to speak of any cause because the rules of ordinary physics do not apply.

It would equally be true (before time and space existed) to say that there would be no reason either at least as our normal logic seems to fry at those depths. In any event, it would be huge leap from what we actually do know from facts to assume there is a personal god, that this god is Yahweh, and that he sent Jesus to die for your sins is just too much to take seriously. But who cares it can be asserted, preached, proclaimed anyway while waving an old book. Magic beans anyone? No? Got some good snake oil too!

I am no scientist and my understanding of what Hawking said about his second take on the Big Bang may be incorrect but I do not think anyone would take Hawking for a fundy. Maybe Joel Olstein will help us all understand this before passing the plate. NOT.

Oh, I loved your analogy with the Truman Show. Yes! that is exactly the world of fundamentalistic religion. I call it the bubble where the Cartoon God runs the show. What should one do with the pin of reason and the facts in evidence when when one is there at the edge of the bubble? Pop!

webmdave said...

The Truman Show: perfect.

webmdave said...

[from WizenedSage]

Dealdoctor, you raised a fascinating point. You said, “…William Lane Craig said he would still believe in the resurrection of Jesus even if he was allowed to go back 2000 years and sit and verify at the tomb that it did not ever happen.”

In contrast, I have often said that even if I saw a resurrection with my own eyes, I still wouldn’t believe it. I would know that a more likely explanation (by far) for what I had seen was magic trick, mirage, or hallucination. It would take some very serious hard data to convince me otherwise, because all of my life’s experiences and everything I know about science tells me that dead people stay dead.

If this Resurrection story wasn’t just made up to deceive people, then the eye witness was incredibly un-skeptical. That others believe in this resurrection with nothing but ancient written accounts by primitives for evidence just blows my mind. And apparently all Craig requires is his own feelings (adrenaline shots to the brain?) to believe it. Incredible.

webmdave said...

MODERATOR...HELP!
This is WizenedSage.
After I log in with Disqus, I get a strange view that doesn't provide a way to post a comment. This never happened to me before.What am I doing wrong?

webmdave said...

So am I!

(I'm replying to WS thru Disqus).

webmdave said...

What a well written, well thought out article! I'm struggling somewhere between agnosticism and atheism. Your point about us wanting to know "WHY?", and yet there is no "WHY?" really hit home with me. Powerful. And unnerving. I guess I still sort of want there to be a "why?" with an answer somewhere. I don't want to be just a speck on a speck on a speck that dies after a number of years and that's it. I FEEL like I'm something more than that, but again, we go back to being raised a certain way and being conditioned to believe certain things about ourselves.

Recently I had started a thread here stating that I didn't feel this website had much to offer me anymore, but perhaps it still does. Maybe I'm not totally done with "deconverting". I mean, I've rejected the nonsense of revealed religion, but I catch myself falling back into old ways of thinking. So perhaps my thinking still has a long road of deconversion ahead...

webmdave said...

Help! I can't log onto Disqus this morning.

My settings worked last evening, have I been banned for some unknown infraction?...bruno

webmdave said...

That we are specks in no way makes our lives worthless. Just go on living as you would if you thought your actions matter. And, guess what. They do.

webmdave said...

It appears that you posted?!

If your issues continue, please contact me by clicking here and describing in detail the problem.

webmdave said...

It appears that you posted?!

If your issues continue, please contact me by clicking here and describing in detail the problem.

webmdave said...

I am content to know that what we know so far is what we know. But, I also recognize that there are things we still do not know about and science will reveal and explain those things in time.

Even scientists like Craig cling to bronze age fairytales because it "comforts" them on a very personal and intimate level. Those of us who choose not to believe have let go of that comfort blanket that is religion and deal with reality head on, come what may. I personally would rather deal with the cold hard realities of existence then cling to a warm, fuzzy fairytales.

But, that's just me. ;-)

webmdave said...

I don't think we can "choose" not to believe. I think we just learn too much reality to be able to believe.

Some of us chose to pretend to believe for awhile after our eyes were open, and I think there are a lot of christians like that. ANd I think your reasoning is right about that. It is scary to let go and take responsibility for ourselves.

webmdave said...

Wilyfem,

You are absolutely right about that. We are conditioned from all sides to believe that there must be a "reason" for it all. That we are "meant" for something or a purpose. If one looks at our culture and all the messages that are sent to us via songs, movies, literature, churches, schools, etc. we are primed to feel that we are here by design rather then being an unfolding of evolutionary events in response to natural forces. So, onward we go looking for that "purpose" to fall into. The fact of the matter is that there is no plan to fall into. YOU ARE THE PLAN. YOU are the sole determiner of what that plan is to be.

Why are we here? Because our parents felt attracted to each other, made love and out we came nine months later. We are the result of the sperm cell that got through and made it into mommy's egg and began the cycle of cell division that resulted in us coming into existence. This is more wonderous and beautiful then any bronze age fairytale. At least I think so.

Furthermore, those who would peddle the "god has a purpose for your life" bullshit fail to see the existential immobilization that is implanted into people as the result of second guessing that occurs through such a philosophical outlook.

What exacerbates this state of affairs is our self-awareness and our capacity for language. We are able to conceptualize ourselves and project this image onto the world we live in.

But, the truth of the matter is that we are here and we have to move forward once we are dropped into terra firma. Our intelligence and capacity for language will allow us to formulate a plan to survive and thrive here.

We ARE a speck on a speck floating in space. That is not disheartening but rather it shold give our lives even more significance since, in the grand scheme of things, we aren't even a blink in history. You ARE here now and that is all that matters. We are communicating and sharing our thoughts using technology that someone developed with their own imagination and determination. We work jobs, or start businesses, to provide food, shelter and conveniences for ourselves and our families. There are people who benefit from your existence and in so doing you make their existence meaningful.

Never underestimate the power of YOUR existence on this speck floating in space Wilyfem. What matters is what you say matters.
We do not need permission to live. Give yourself permission to live and then go forth and be.

Thanks for sharing.

webmdave said...

Lisa, you said....
"I think we just learn too much reality to be able to believe."

I love that line. I am going to use it from now on when making my unbelief known.

webmdave said...

test

webmdave said...

Well, thank you Psychman.

webmdave said...

Quite lovely.

webmdave said...

I really have no love for Disqus today.

webmdave said...

One last try, I don't have much worth sharing anyway.

webmdave said...

WTF!

webmdave said...

Parse, thanks for your feedback.

I tried all these things (and then some), several times today. This is no longer worth the time, effort and frustration for the little I contribute. I'm posting this as a guest.

webmdave said...

I didn't chose not to believe. I got an education and belief just slowly disappeared.

webmdave said...

Ah, another night person! I've been fortunate to work graveyard shift most of my working life. I request graveyard shifts when starting a new job. Like you, I live for the night-time. Some of the best nights are spent in the middle of Nebraska where there is little or no artificial light pollution from streetlights and yardlights.

To look into the sky and see so many stars and galaxies that the appearance is almost like a fine cloud or mist of light. Enough light to illuminate the ground I stand on. I crave those kinds of nights. I liked them before Carl Sagan encouraged me to crave them even more.

webmdave said...

bruno,

I'm having the same issues and have tried the same things. I clicked wbmdate's link above to notify him. Today looks like a continuation of yesterday. I am posting this as a guest.

--buffettphan

webmdave said...

Looks fine to me, but I was wondering why no one was conversing this morning. Seems weird not to read anything from here before I go to work.

webmdave said...

BP, you posted?! You are not posted as a guest.

webmdave said...

Please try again. WMDave made some changes and they worked for me.

webmdave said...

Okay, it appears that the format has changed somewhat but looks more familiar. I'll try again, just for you.

webmdave said...

Thanks. I enjoy your posts.

The changes have helped considerably, even though things aren't quite as good as they were a couple of days ago.

webmdave said...

I wanted to comment yesterday lisa, but I couldn't get logged on.

I concur, belief (or disbelief) is not a choice. Today, I could not believe the xtian myth if I had to. What I consider important to establish validity is empirical evidence, direct observation and/or information from a credible (unbiased) source.

I'm glad you wrote this, I feel less unique.

webmdave said...

Ted,

Thank you for your post. You certainly put a good deal of thought and effort into your message.

I do not comprehend what William Lane Craig thinks he is achieving. Perhaps he thinks he is a defender of the faith. I think he is delusional on a grand scale. He does not appear to have an educational background that includes any hard science. Maybe the path he has taken is the only one he knows that can produce an income.

I believe science will win the day, and guys like Craig will be tossed on the scrapheap of history as just another two-bit carny hypnotist looking to make a $$$ off the masses.

webmdave said...

I've felt so lonely, but you're all making feel so not alone. Your comments are amazing, and exactly the way my thinking is.
Thank you

webmdave said...

This has nothing to do with the discussion, but I just realized, when we look up at the night sky, it doesn't represent reality. The reality is that the source of those twinkles of light don't exist anymore. They're dead, exploded (imploded?) stars. The new reality hasn't reached us yet.

webmdave said...

Ted...Thanks for that mind expanding post. I can tell that it took a lot of work on your part. Yes christianity and science sure don't blend well togeather, kind of like oil & water.
I was wondering about a comment you made about Richard Dawkins. Have you read ALL of his books ? I believe that "scant information" is hardly a term that I'd use for Dawkin's prowess & diligent detective work.
Your post had me putting on my thinking cap, and I thank you for that !

webmdave said...

Actually, stars live on such long time periods that you'd need to look millions of light years before what you see differs significantly from what is current. Since the stars you can see are at most a few thousand light years away, the vast majority still exist.

But you are correct in that we see the universe as it was and not as it is.

webmdave said...

Welcome, Tom. I think many of us either breathed a huge sigh of relief or jumped for joy when we found this website. Maybe both. Thanks to WebMasterDave for creating this sea of sanity in a world overflowing with religious nutjobs. It is nice -- not feeling so alone.

webmdave said...

Looking at the stars led me out of christianity as well. It made me realize that if there was an entity out there that could dream up the universe and create it, then why is he so concerned about seeing the top of a women's head? Or over concerned about the length and measurements of the Tabernacle? Not evening a lowly human is concerned with most of the oddities that God is willing fry people for eternity.

It was at that moment that I realized nothing could create a universe and have the attributes of the God of the bible. The grip of religion crumbled to the beautiful nothingness of the real universe. Free from tyranny and unjustified guilt.

webmdave said...

Anyway, here's some questions I'd like to ask of anyone interested in this topic: Do you believe the stories of Garabandal? YES

Is so, why do you believe them? If not, why not? 70 YEARS OLD AND SPENT MOST OF MY LIFE INVESTIGATING AND RESEARCHING APPARITIONS - TAKE A LOOK AT THE ZETUIN APPARITIONS - 4 MILLION PEOPLE SAW AND MANY TOOK PICTURES

webmdave said...

I have no clue as to what you are talking about nor do I know what Garabandal is. So the answer is no.

webmdave said...

johndeherrera: Do you believe the stories of Garabandal...TAKE A LOOK AT THE ZETUIN APPARITIONS - 4 MILLION PEOPLE SAW AND MANY TOOK PICTURES

Firstly, where on earth did you get this extraordinary number of "4 million" people?

While the below website doesn't exclude it being a paranormal event, it does debunk it being from god or even the devil.

http://www.miraclesceptic.com/garabandal.html

Don't be so eager to fall for such stories

ATF (Who noticed that none of the pictures posted for this event, showed anymore than the faces of the spectators...ODD THAT)

webmdave said...

Personally, I think that Garabandal is something which started when a scant handful of people stared at the sun and saw spots. It's now been marketed into an even bigger delusion. In My opinion, it's not evidence of anything more than gullibility and wishful thinking.

webmdave said...

Personally, I think that Garabandal is something which started when a scant handful of people stared at the sun and saw spots. It's now been marketed into an even bigger delusion. In My opinion, it's not evidence for anything more than gullibility and wishful thinking.

webmdave said...

Personally, I think that Garabandal is something which started when a scant handful of people stared at the sun and saw spots. It's now been marketed into an even bigger delusion. In My opinion, it's not evidence for anything more than gullibility and wishful thinking.

webmdave said...

johndeherrera: Do you believe the stories of Garabandal...TAKE A LOOK AT THE ZETUIN APPARITIONS - 4 MILLION PEOPLE SAW AND MANY TOOK PICTURES

Firstly, where on earth did you get this extraordinary number of "4 million" people?

While the below website doesn't exclude it being a paranormal event, it does debunk it being from god or even the devil.

http://www.miraclesceptic.com/garabandal.html

Don't be so eager to fall for such stories

ATF (Who noticed that none of the pictures posted for this event, showed anymore than the faces of the spectators...ODD THAT)

webmdave said...

I have no clue as to what you are talking about nor do I know what Garabandal is. So the answer is no.

webmdave said...

Anyway, here's some questions I'd like to ask of anyone interested in this topic: Do you believe the stories of Garabandal? YES

Is so, why do you believe them? If not, why not? 70 YEARS OLD AND SPENT MOST OF MY LIFE INVESTIGATING AND RESEARCHING APPARITIONS - TAKE A LOOK AT THE ZETUIN APPARITIONS - 4 MILLION PEOPLE SAW AND MANY TOOK PICTURES

webmdave said...

Looking at the stars led me out of christianity as well. It made me realize that if there was an entity out there that could dream up the universe and create it, then why is he so concerned about seeing the top of a women's head? Or over concerned about the length and measurements of the Tabernacle? Not evening a lowly human is concerned with most of the oddities that God is willing fry people for eternity.

It was at that moment that I realized nothing could create a universe and have the attributes of the God of the bible. The grip of religion crumbled to the beautiful nothingness of the real universe. Free from tyranny and unjustified guilt.

webmdave said...

Welcome, Tom. I think many of us either breathed a huge sigh of relief or jumped for joy when we found this website. Maybe both. Thanks to WebMasterDave for creating this sea of sanity in a world overflowing with religious nutjobs. It is nice -- not feeling so alone.

webmdave said...

Actually, stars live on such long time periods that you'd need to look millions of light years before what you see differs significantly from what is current. Since the stars you can see are at most a few thousand light years away, the vast majority still exist.

But you are correct in that we see the universe as it was and not as it is.

webmdave said...

Ted...Thanks for that mind expanding post. I can tell that it took a lot of work on your part. Yes christianity and science sure don't blend well togeather, kind of like oil & water.
I was wondering about a comment you made about Richard Dawkins. Have you read ALL of his books ? I believe that "scant information" is hardly a term that I'd use for Dawkin's prowess & diligent detective work.
Your post had me putting on my thinking cap, and I thank you for that !

webmdave said...

Ted,

Thank you for your post. You certainly put a good deal of thought and effort into your message.

I do not comprehend what William Lane Craig thinks he is achieving. Perhaps he thinks he is a defender of the faith. I think he is delusional on a grand scale. He does not appear to have an educational background that includes any hard science. Maybe the path he has taken is the only one he knows that can produce an income.

I believe science will win the day, and guys like Craig will be tossed on the scrapheap of history as just another two-bit carny hypnotist looking to make a $$$ off the masses.

webmdave said...

This has nothing to do with the discussion, but I just realized, when we look up at the night sky, it doesn't represent reality. The reality is that the source of those twinkles of light don't exist anymore. They're dead, exploded (imploded?) stars. The new reality hasn't reached us yet.

webmdave said...

I've felt so lonely, but you're all making feel so not alone. Your comments are amazing, and exactly the way my thinking is.
Thank you

webmdave said...

I wanted to comment yesterday lisa, but I couldn't get logged on.

I concur, belief (or disbelief) is not a choice. Today, I could not believe the xtian myth if I had to. What I consider important to establish validity is empirical evidence, direct observation and/or information from a credible (unbiased) source.

I'm glad you wrote this, I feel less unique.

webmdave said...

Thanks. I enjoy your posts. What you said before: "I don't have much worth sharing anyway" -- WRONG!

The changes have helped considerably, even though things aren't quite as good as they were a couple of days ago.

webmdave said...

Okay, it appears that the format has changed somewhat but looks more familiar. I'll try again, just for you.

Okay, so far so good.

webmdave said...

Please try again. WMDave made some changes and they worked for me.

webmdave said...

BP, you posted?! You are not posted as a guest.

I made some adjustments which should help those who are using Internet Explorer. Micro$soft made some changes which are screwing things up on this site for those using IE. My recommendation: GET FIREFOX.

webmdave said...

Looks fine to me, but I was wondering why no one was conversing this morning. Seems weird not to read anything from here before I go to work.

webmdave said...

bruno,

I'm having the same issues and have tried the same things. I clicked wbmdave's link above to notify him. Today looks like a continuation of yesterday. I am posting this as a guest.

--buffettphan

webmdave said...

Ah, another night person! I've been fortunate to work graveyard shift most of my working life. I request graveyard shifts when starting a new job. Like you, I live for the night-time. Some of the best nights are spent in the middle of Nebraska where there is little or no artificial light pollution from streetlights and yardlights.

To look into the sky and see so many stars and galaxies that the appearance is almost like a fine cloud or mist of light. Enough light to illuminate the ground I stand on. I crave those kinds of nights. I liked them before Carl Sagan encouraged me to crave them even more.

webmdave said...

I didn't chose not to believe. I got an education and belief just slowly disappeared.

webmdave said...

Parse, thanks for your feedback.

I tried all these things (and then some), several times today. This is no longer worth the time, effort and frustration for the little I contribute. I'm posting this as a guest.

webmdave said...

WTF!

webmdave said...

One last try, I don't have much worth sharing anyway.

webmdave said...

I really have no love for Disqus today.

webmdave said...

Quite lovely.

webmdave said...

Well, thank you Psychman.

webmdave said...

test

webmdave said...

Lisa, you said....
"I think we just learn too much reality to be able to believe."

I love that line. I am going to use it from now on when making my unbelief known.

webmdave said...

Wilyfem,

You are absolutely right about that. We are conditioned from all sides to believe that there must be a "reason" for it all. That we are "meant" for something or a purpose. If one looks at our culture and all the messages that are sent to us via songs, movies, literature, churches, schools, etc. we are primed to feel that we are here by design rather then being an unfolding of evolutionary events in response to natural forces. So, onward we go looking for that "purpose" to fall into. The fact of the matter is that there is no plan to fall into. YOU ARE THE PLAN. YOU are the sole determiner of what that plan is to be.

Why are we here? Because our parents felt attracted to each other, made love and out we came nine months later. We are the result of the sperm cell that got through and made it into mommy's egg and began the cycle of cell division that resulted in us coming into existence. This is more wonderous and beautiful then any bronze age fairytale. At least I think so.

Furthermore, those who would peddle the "god has a purpose for your life" bullshit fail to see the existential immobilization that is implanted into people as the result of second guessing that occurs through such a philosophical outlook.

What exacerbates this state of affairs is our self-awareness and our capacity for language. We are able to conceptualize ourselves and project this image onto the world we live in.

But, the truth of the matter is that we are here and we have to move forward once we are dropped into terra firma. Our intelligence and capacity for language will allow us to formulate a plan to survive and thrive here.

We ARE a speck on a speck floating in space. That is not disheartening but rather it shold give our lives even more significance since, in the grand scheme of things, we aren't even a blink in history. You ARE here now and that is all that matters. We are communicating and sharing our thoughts using technology that someone developed with their own imagination and determination. We work jobs, or start businesses, to provide food, shelter and conveniences for ourselves and our families. There are people who benefit from your existence and in so doing you make their existence meaningful.

Never underestimate the power of YOUR existence on this speck floating in space Wilyfem. What matters is what you say matters.
We do not need permission to live. Give yourself permission to live and then go forth and be.

Thanks for sharing.

webmdave said...

I don't think we can "choose" not to believe. I think we just learn too much reality to be able to believe.

Some of us chose to pretend to believe for awhile after our eyes were open, and I think there are a lot of christians like that. ANd I think your reasoning is right about that. It is scary to let go and take responsibility for ourselves.

webmdave said...

Bruno, given the amount of crap that trolls drag in here, I severely doubt that you were banned for an unknown infraction. I would try clearing your browser's cached files and cookies, then logging in again; if it still doesn't work, I would use the 'forgot my password' thing from Discus.

webmdave said...

I am content to know that what we know so far is what we know. But, I also recognize that there are things we still do not know about and science will reveal and explain those things in time.

Even scientists like Craig cling to bronze age fairytales because it "comforts" them on a very personal and intimate level. Those of us who choose not to believe have let go of that comfort blanket that is religion and deal with reality head on, come what may. I personally would rather deal with the cold hard realities of existence then cling to a warm, fuzzy fairytales.

But, that's just me. ;-)

webmdave said...

It appears that you posted?!

If your issues continue, please contact me by clicking here and describe in detail the problem.

webmdave said...

It appears that you posted?!

If your issues continue, please contact me by clicking here and describing in detail the problem.

webmdave said...

That we are specks in no way makes our lives worthless. Just go on living as you would if you thought your actions matter. And, guess what. They do.

webmdave said...

Help! I can't log onto Disqus this morning.

My settings worked last evening, have I been banned for some unknown infraction?...bruno

webmdave said...

What a well written, well thought out article! I'm struggling somewhere between agnosticism and atheism. Your point about us wanting to know "WHY?", and yet there is no "WHY?" really hit home with me. Powerful. And unnerving. I guess I still sort of want there to be a "why?" with an answer somewhere. I don't want to be just a speck on a speck on a speck that dies after a number of years and that's it. I FEEL like I'm something more than that, but again, we go back to being raised a certain way and being conditioned to believe certain things about ourselves.

Recently I had started a thread here stating that I didn't feel this website had much to offer me anymore, but perhaps it still does. Maybe I'm not totally done with "deconverting". I mean, I've rejected the nonsense of revealed religion, but I catch myself falling back into old ways of thinking. So perhaps my thinking still has a long road of deconversion ahead...

webmdave said...

So am I!

(I'm replying to WS thru Disqus).

webmdave said...

MODERATOR...HELP!
This is WizenedSage.
After I log in with Disqus, I get a strange view that doesn't provide a way to post a comment. This never happened to me before.What am I doing wrong?

webmdave said...

[from WizenedSage]

Dealdoctor, you raised a fascinating point. You said, “…William Lane Craig said he would still believe in the resurrection of Jesus even if he was allowed to go back 2000 years and sit and verify at the tomb that it did not ever happen.”

In contrast, I have often said that even if I saw a resurrection with my own eyes, I still wouldn’t believe it. I would know that a more likely explanation (by far) for what I had seen was magic trick, mirage, or hallucination. It would take some very serious hard data to convince me otherwise, because all of my life’s experiences and everything I know about science tells me that dead people stay dead.

If this Resurrection story wasn’t just made up to deceive people, then the eye witness was incredibly un-skeptical. That others believe in this resurrection with nothing but ancient written accounts by primitives for evidence just blows my mind. And apparently all Craig requires is his own feelings (adrenaline shots to the brain?) to believe it. Incredible.

webmdave said...

The Truman Show: perfect.

webmdave said...

Ted,

John Loftus who comes here knows Craig and If I remember correctly John was taught and trained by him in seminary. John points out the same thing you are saying that Craig's arguments are rooted in a primal faith that simply can not face the facts.

I think I read , perhaps on Ken Pulliam's blog http://formerfundy.blogspot.com/, that William Lane Craig said he would still believe in the resurrection of Jesus even if he was allowed to go back 2000 years and sit and verify at the tomb that it did not ever happen. Why? His own "personal experience" was enough verification for him. Thus faith and the witness of the Holy Sprit is all that counts and facts be damned is the outcome.

I admit Craig says it without the accent of the ignorant but the content and end conclusion of what he is saying arrives at the same place. Does blind leading the blind come to mind for anyone (grin).

I think Stephen Hawking who brought up the Big Bang as the cause of the Universe later with new understanding of sub atomic quantum physics made a retraction saying that at that level it would be improper to speak of any cause because the rules of ordinary physics do not apply.

It would equally be true (before time and space existed) to say that there would be no reason either at least as our normal logic seems to fry at those depths. In any event, it would be huge leap from what we actually do know from facts to assume there is a personal god, that this god is Yahweh, and that he sent Jesus to die for your sins is just too much to take seriously. But who cares it can be asserted, preached, proclaimed anyway while waving an old book. Magic beans anyone? No? Got some good snake oil too!

I am no scientist and my understanding of what Hawking said about his second take on the Big Bang may be incorrect but I do not think anyone would take Hawking for a fundy. Maybe Joel Olstein will help us all understand this before passing the plate. NOT.

Oh, I loved your analogy with the Truman Show. Yes! that is exactly the world of fundamentalistic religion. I call it the bubble where the Cartoon God runs the show. What should one do with the pin of reason and the facts in evidence when when one is there at the edge of the bubble? Pop!

webmdave said...

We are created but our “creator” is the universe itself...

I agree and like how you phrased this. I do take issue with those who say "God said it, I believe it, and that settles it." God didn't say anything.

The problem with Craig is that he can't see anything but his God. Science to him is worthless and meaningless, because as my son says, "Science has all but proven there is no god". Craig can't handles this so he clings to archaic/outdated beliefs.