Einstein and the Mind of God

For his entire life, as he delved into the mysteries of the cosmos, Albert Einstein harbored a belief in, and … Continued

For his entire life, as he delved into the mysteries of the cosmos, Albert Einstein harbored a belief in, and reverence for, the harmony and beauty of what he called the mind of God as it was expressed in the creation of the universe and its laws. Around the time he turned 50, he began to articulate more clearly—in various essays, interviews, and letters—his deepening appreciation of his belief in God, although a rather impersonal version of one.

One particular evening in 1929, the year he turned 50, captures Einstein’s middle-age deistic faith. He and his wife were at a dinner party in Berlin when a guest expressed a belief in astrology. Einstein ridiculed the notion as pure superstition. Another guest stepped in and similarly disparaged religion. Belief in God, he insisted, was likewise a superstition.

At this point the host tried to silence him by invoking the fact that even Einstein harbored religious beliefs.

“It isn’t possible!” the skeptical guest said, turning to Einstein to ask if he was, in fact, religious.

“Yes, you can call it that,” Einstein replied calmly. “Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible laws and connections, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion. To that extent I am, in fact, religious.”

Shortly after his fiftieth birthday, Einstein also gave a remarkable interview in which he was more revealing than he had ever been about his religious sensibility. It was with a pompous but ingratiating poet and propagandist named George Sylvester Viereck, who had been born in Germany, moved to America as a child, and then spent his life writing gaudily erotic poetry, interviewing great men, and expressing his complex love for his fatherland. For reasons not quite clear, Einstein assumed Viereck was Jewish. In fact, Viereck proudly traced his lineage to the family of the Kaiser, and he would later become a Nazi sympathizer who was jailed in America during World War II for being a German propagandist.

Viereck began by asking Einstein whether he considered himself a German or a Jew. “It’s possible to be both,” replied Einstein. “Nationalism is an infantile disease, the measles of mankind.”

Should Jews try to assimilate? “We Jews have been too eager to sacrifice our idiosyncrasies in order to conform.”

To what extent are you influenced by Christianity? “As a child I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene.”

You accept the historical existence of Jesus? “Unquestionably! No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.”

Do you believe in God? “I’m not an atheist. I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws.”

Is this a Jewish concept of God? “I am a determinist. I do not believe in free will. Jews believe in free will. They believe that man shapes his own life. I reject that doctrine. In that respect I am not a Jew.”

Is this Spinoza’s God? “I am fascinated by Spinoza’s pantheism, but I admire even more his contribution to modern thought because he is the first philosopher to deal with the soul and body as one, and not two separate things.”

Do you believe in immortality? “No. And one life is enough for me.”

Einstein tried to express these feelings clearly, both for himself and all of those who wanted a simple answer from him about his faith. So in the summer of 1930, amid his sailing and ruminations in Caputh, he composed a credo, “What I Believe,” that he recorded for a human rights group and later published. It concluded with an explanation of what he meant when he called himself religious: “The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is something that our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly: this is religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I am a devoutly religious man.”

People found the piece evocative, even inspiring, and it was reprinted repeatedly in a variety of translations. But not surprisingly, it did not satisfy those who wanted a simple, direct answer to the question of whether or not he believed in God. For some, only a clear belief in a personal God who controls daily life qualified as a genuine faith. “The outcome of this doubt and befogged speculation about time and space is a cloak beneath which hides the ghastly apparition of atheism,” Boston’s Cardinal William Henry O’Connell said. This public blast from a Cardinal prompted the noted Orthodox Jewish leader in New York, Rabbi Herbert S. Goldstein, to send a very direct telegram: “Do you believe in God? Stop. Answer paid. 50 words.” Einstein used only about half his allotted number of words. It became the most famous version of an answer he gave often: “I believe in Spinoza’s God, who reveals himself in the lawful harmony of all that exists, but not in a God who concerns himself with the fate and the doings of mankind.”

It may not have satisfied everyone. But it satisfied many. For like Einstein there are many of us who share an awed intimation of a God, manifest in all that exists, a sense that remains mysterious but real.

Walter Isaacson, the CEO of the Aspen Institute, has been chairman of CNN and the managing editor of Time magazine. His new book, “Einstein: His Life and Universe,” was published last month.

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  • Russell D.

    Einstein was indeed a brilliant man. That is a very good way to describe being religious. I like it.

  • Hewitt

    The God of Einstein is awe that there are natural laws underlying the world that we can discover. This is certainly not a personal God, nor the God of Jewish or Christian tradition. It is not even a Deist’s God, a great watchmaker who set everying in motion, but does not otherwise get involved.Einstein went even further than Deism. He considered the natural laws themselves to be God. This is not as odd as it may sound. Mathematicians believe that they discover truths that are valid everywhere in the universe for all time and for all entities. What is the basis for that belief? For Einstein it was a given, which he found awe inspiring.The main objection to this belief is the question, why believe in a God that is indistinguishable from no God? One can have awe without God. For Einstein, perhaps there was only the awe and a loose definition of God.

  • Norrie Hoyt

    Einstein, a great and wonderful human being, was wrong about the quantum universe.Perhaps he was also wrong about his “religious” universe.

  • B-Man

    The word “God” is problematic in these religious/atheist/science discussions. When someone mentions “God” most people assume you must mean a personal, potentially vengeful diety that controls everything. Some people, however, call the great awe-inspiring and mysterious universe “God”. Buddhists believe that “consciousness” is “God”. Just because someone doesn’t believe in one of the three Abrahamic traditions doesn’t mean that person doesn’t believe in “God”, they just don’t believe in the (IMO) juvenile concept of an anthropomorphic god that looks a lot like daddy does to the average child.

  • Ann O.

    Dear Hewitt,Einstein does not identify any laws with God — God is “behind” the laws. Read again:”To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is something that our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly: this is religiousness.”He insists he is not a pantheist. And,dear Norrie,The matter of quantum theory has not been settled. It is not consistent with Einstein’s own theories, and he did not accept quantum theory as the last word, even though he himself contributed to its formulation.Why do so many atheists think that only stupid people believe in God? Why do they think that only scientific intuitions have a chance of being true? They are only one kind of intuition.Ann O.

  • Miguel

    Did Abraham exist? who enlightened him and saved him?The lord doesn’t play dice; einstein used to say; all is there, in perfect order, waiting to be discovered or reasoned. there’s a formula for everything. there are natural laws; which sometimes are broken;these are called miracles, but this happens in science, and tangible physics; not in mathematical calculations. you can’t add 1+1 and pray for the result to be 3.

  • Henry James; “Hewitt”

    Ann OA little defensive, are we?There is a subtle difference between the belief I ascribed to Einstein (and that I hold, being of approximately equal intellect to Einstein in the literary realm)Einstein believedMany intelligent (i.e. NOT stupid) people have childish beliefs.

  • candide

    Einstein’s God was Spinoza’s God, which is the same thing as Nature. It is not a personal God like the biblical God. It does not hear prayer, intervene in human affairs. It is simply the way things work. Einstein is no support for religion as we understand it.

  • Bill Huntley

    Albert Einstein definitely knew the Old Testament and the New Testament of the Bible. Malachi 3:6, “For I am the Lord, I change not.” and Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ,, the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” Since God does not lie, and math does not lie, Mr. Einstein knew that if he got the right formula, he would understand God’s mathmatics, the root of all science.

  • Powell

    Quoting Einstein’s believes is a ridiculous thing to do to promote any sort of dialog. Religions people at best can do is take the quotes of a dead person and then twist it to produce some sort of propaganda. Einstein is not the prophet of science and science is not a religion. I can hardly understand why Washingtonpost is allowing such small talk here.

  • Henry James

    Ann corrected a fictional character named Hewitt by saying thatIf she meant to be correcting me, America’s greatest literary critic, I would suggest that Ann is being somewhat literal in her surety about God’s synonymy in Einstein’s mind (The Mind of the God of Science).Einstein said:in my meagre literary imaginationMy dictionary defines “synonymous” as “alike or nearly alike in significance,” among other definitions.I would suggest that If God is NOT the laws of physics, what is it?

  • interested

    Einstein says: “I am a determinist. I do not believe in free will. Jews believe in free will. They believe that man shapes his own life. I reject that doctrine. In that respect I am not a Jew.” And yet our contributor writes: “For some [i.e., in contrast to Einstein], only a clear belief in a personal God who controls daily life qualified as a genuine faith.” And B-MAN writes: “When someone mentions “God” most people assume you must mean a personal, potentially vengeful diety that controls everything.” Einstein accurately reflects Jewish (and Christian) tradition that God does NOT control everything. In Einstein’s view of God, God –whether identified with natural laws or ‘behind’ natural laws or both–does control everything. Einstein was a determinist. Maybe if he had agreed with quantum physics, he would have believed in free will.

  • frank burns

    No life after death, no god looking after, caring for or damning us, no one to pray to, no reason for salvation, no freewill, no heaven, no hell, no life after death. Yet Christians forever repeat that Eistein belived in “God”. In reality though, this God is so different from the Chirstian one that it should hardly be called by the same name. Christians, do not fool yoursleves, Einstein rejected your belief system.

  • Henry James

    PowellMy advice to you is to get a good education.

  • Daniel

    In Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, God is characterized in a way that leaves much doubt in my heart. In these religious outlooks, little justification is given for the existence of God, other than to state that God is creator of all things. And God is characterized in human terms, as though he is some sort of super-intelligent, all-powerful variation of man. Religious spokesmen often fall into the habit of speaking for God, pointing out what God wants, thinks, likes, and hates. Aside from the impossibility of thinking for God, all of these attributes of intent are purely and transparently human in nature and in no way knowable, with regards to God. The God of the Bible and the God of my Christian upbringing does not seem plausible. I doubt. I doubt the proof of God, that “he” must simply “be.” And I doubt the simple-minded concept of God, as a superior, human-like being. Yet I can see how many people might fall into this habit of viewing God. We only have our experiences of this world in which we dwell to characterize any conceivable phenomenon; so, when we think of God, it is by way or our very small and limited conceptual abilities. But by doubting the existence of God, does that mean that I do not believe in God? Not necessarily. What, then, do I believe? It is hard to put into words. I seldom try, because it seems so futile. Yet, in my mind, I have a wordless conception of God.We have our five senses: touch, taste, smell, vision, and hearing. These senses gather information about the world in which we dwell. Our senses capture information by way of energy impulses; our senses absorb this information through a network of nerves and neurons; our senses soak up this information from the physical world which cradles us, and in which we dwell. This information flows from our senses into a vast and complex processing center in our brains, and it undergoes automatic and autonomic analysis in a sort of “common sense” information processor of which we have no awareness and over which we have no control. It all just “happens.” This information processor produces our consciousness of a seamless and complete world, the world in which we dwell. It is the world where we stand and walk, where we recline and lie down, where we search and discover, where we hunger and eat, where we work and breathe and sleep and dream, where we commune with our fellows, where we talk and laugh and comfort and love, where we feel sadness and pain and loss and grief. This is the situation in which I find myself: I have appeared from nowhere; I am a thing in the world; I am a manufactured product complete and ready made; I am a sensual animal; I am a thinking and intelligent being; these characterizations describe what I am; this is what we all are.By what means did this all come to be? By what means was this world of perceived phenomena provided, this world from which we were brought forth, which cradles us, and in which we dwell? By what means were our senses of perception provided? And by what means has our consciousness of worldly phenomena been provided? What is the conveyor of this providing? In reply to these questions, I must choose a word; the word I choose is “Providence.” Perhaps there is some kind of Providence operating in the world, that is the conveyor of perceived phenomena, and of sensory perception, and of conscious impressions of the world. Providence; it is a nice word, like hearing the name of a new friend, for the first time. Some may reduce this “Providence” to God, but I prefer not to. “God” is a small concept, a corrupted cliché; Providence is a better word. This word carries with it some theological meaning; I think of it in a similar but slightly different way. I feel comfortable with this Providence, to which I can attribute few characteristics, except that it may be some sort of motivating influence that operates in the world. I cannot describe it any more than that.Providence is what makes “up” up and “down” down. By Providence, we feel joy and sadness, each together, in contrast, and cannot know either without the other. We are aware of pain and pleasure, repose and struggle, light and darkness only because of their contrasting natures. By this Providence and the way it works and operates, and by our simple existence as part of it, we must suffer; suffering is a part of Providence. Christianity seeks to provide an answer to the suffering of man. Yet, many people cannot accept the concept of a loving God in a world with so much suffering. “Why must we suffer?” is the cry of man. Even I have said, “my God, my God! why hast thou forsaken me.” At the very best, it is a mystery. I do not believe that God has made a world of suffering. Rather, by Providence, we dwell in a world of contrasting experience, and only by this contrasting nature of experience can we experience anything at all.Providence has brought us forth into a ready-made world, ourselves, each, individually, ready-made, for the experiences that this world must impress upon us. Suffering is a part of this Providential package. We must take it, or leave it. Only we do not even have that choice; we must take it. Part of this Providence we may enjoy; part of it we must endure with existential nerve.This is my contemplation on the nature of God. My thoughts on God have morphed from God as a super-intelligent, all-knowing, man-like being, to an unexplainable, inexplicable Providence. What then of Jesus, Mohammed, Moses, and Buddha, men whom we know lived on the earth? What of all the many manifestations of religion on a human scale? I call all of this the “setting,” or perhaps, the “stage.” We are free to work out the details of belief, or not, in each setting, on each stage, according to the contingencies of our lives, which Providence delivers to us. We are all bound to reach different conclusions.

  • Anonymous

    DavidFrank Burns just answered your question:Believers are forever sayingit is important to point out that the God he believed in is nothing like the Christian God,so you Christians out there,forget about it.

  • B-Man

    Interested:I have to question your claim that the Christian tradition says that God does NOT control everything. I live in a very conservative rural Christian area of the US, and I know many folks who believe that God is responsible for all good things that happen and that “he” does intervene in people’s daily lives. Perhaps I would be closer to the point to say that Christians believe their God has the potential to control anything he sees fit.Here again, we run into trouble with word definitions, as in “control”.If the universe is completely organic in its growth, following the laws of physics and nature, is it “controlled by God”? Certainly, physical laws “govern” it’s growth, but can we call this “control”, as in divine intervention on a moment by moment basis, as many Christians believe?

  • speed123

    Frank Burns:Your bias against Christians is very obvious and blatant. Are you jewish or atheist? Hard to tell..perhaps both? Don’t fool yourself concerning your motivation you posts – it is hatred with a tinge of superiority complex.

  • DukeHorn

    My father immigrated her in the late 70s with a bunch of very bright graduate students from Taiwan. They all became Christians and they all have PhDs in the hard sciences. Their kids all have advance degrees (I’m a JD and MS, my sis has a PhD, blah blah blah).The gap between my generation and their generation concerning religion is immense. It seems as folks get older and try to find meaning, they turn to religion–even scientists. This is not a put-down but just an observation on human nature.I personally don’t care in what folks need to believe in order to derive comfort. Just don’t force-feed it to me or my children in daily society.

  • speed123

    Here is Tolkien’s take of secular progress vs. Christianity and it is a problem of words:”You call a tree a tree and you think nothing more of the word. But it was not a “tree” until someone gave it that name. You call a star a star, and say it is just a ball of matter moving on a mathematical sourse. But that is merely how you see it. By so naming things and describing them you are only inventing your own terms about them. And just as speech is invention about objects and ideas, so myth is invention about truth.We have come from God, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God….Our myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbor, while materialistic “progress” leads only to a yawning abyss and the Iron Crown of the power of evil.”

  • Deb

    Henry wrote:”Thomas Mann said that having a religious sensibility consisted in ‘having a taste for the infinite.””That is a truly wonderful quote.

  • zane

    we can all find what einstein wrote,but how many of know what he MEANT?

  • Athena

    This is actually very informative. I had always assumed that Einstein was a “cultural Jew”. The idea that God is an infinite library, and we’re just in the children’s section is a good allegory. Human beings need to get past the concept of the Divine as “Big Daddy” or “Big Mommy” if we are to grow to our full potential. I think that the purpose of this article was to prove that science and faith are not mutually exclusive. As Frank Burns said earlier, Einstein may have believed in God, but he didn’t believe in the Big Parent who granted your wishes, protected you from harm, etc.

  • Patrick

    Einstein didn’t believe in a God anymore than Thomas Jefferson did. Both were men put into a position by their society such that any blanket denials of “the Lord” would have meant career and social suicide. Yet both managed to make very clear over their lifetimes, and especially towards the end, that their use of the word “God” was solely metaphorical, meant to conflate the vast “unknowns” of the Universe into a single, easy to bandy about phrase.It boggles my mind that the Post would continue to allow wholly misleading opinion pieces whose quotes and facts are not contextually accurate. I am an athiest, but no religion hater. DialogMoreover, the author should understand the fallacy of arguing from false authority, i.e. “Einstein thought this, Einstein was smart, therefore if I think this I am smart.” Plenty of smart people have been wholly wrong about the way things work due to lack of evidence or proper perspective. Intelligent folks go by the evidence, and the evidence strongly suggests that A) There is no God or any remotely “supernatural” force in the universe, and B) Einstein believe in God as a metaphor for the darkness of ignorance and lack of understanding.

  • Dan

    I liken Einstein’s analogy of a child standing in a library full of books written in different languages to the way an astronomer feels when he looks to the stars or the way a geneticist must feel when he examines the complex simplicity of a DNA strand (it is complex insomuch as it is really an enormous computer program yet simple because it is just a very large number is base-4). We will always seek to understand the full nature and origins of the universe we see around us but we never will fully. I think Einstein meant that if man cannot understand this complexity, it is only logical to believe that either a greater power created this complexity (i.e. Einstein believed in god) or that such complexity is simply a logical consequence of evolution. In either case, the laws that cause hydrogen to coalesce into stars and the laws that cause DNA to evolve, self-modify, mutate and replicate are one in the same whether they were “engineered” by god or not.

  • OverEducated

    Interesting. Einstein said, “I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist”, but the other statements of his beliefs are very similar to those of at least one strain of modern pantheism, which I also identify with. It’s also similar to the beliefs that some call “Religious Naturalism”. People in these categories are often confusing to both traditional theists and hard-core atheists, because we use language that sounds religious (and is, in a sense), and some of us engage in activities like meditation or ritual/ceremony that are usually associated with traditional religions, but we don’t believe in God as understood by most religious people in our society. Our religion is oriented towards the natural world rather than anything supernatural.

  • reispace

    It sounds to me if Einstein were alive today he would consider himself “spiritual” not “religious”. The distinction being that religious today generally means adhering to the tenets/dogma of a formal religion. My question, which I’m sure is not an original thought, is why the distinction between science and spirituality? Where is it written that “GOD” cannot be mathematically proven? Perhaps this is the same as the “God is the laws of physics” argument above.

  • Daniel

    Einstein was a very intelligent man, but there are many very intelligent men and women, whose opinions we might seek. He became famous, not because he was very intelligent, but because of his theoretical work on relativity, which ultimately lead to the atomic bomb and the realization of nuclear energy. This does not make him an expert on religion or philsophy, but just gives his intelligent discourse some credibility. I think I understand his thinking on “God,” as I have commented earlier (above). I wish I could have met him, and discussed the topic with.

  • interested

    To Henry James:”Lawful harmony of all that exists” seems to include a value judgment that is not present in “instantiation of the laws of physics.” “Lawful harmony” is a semantically rich phrase that points to more than “instantiation of laws.” Is that “more” an aesthetic judgment, is it awe? Maybe, but I don’t know. It seems important merely to note that Einstein posited “more.” (Or “behind” as Ann O. emphasized.)

  • Anonymous

    Patrick wrote:”I am… no religion hater,” and “Intelligent folks go by the evidence, and the evidence strongly suggests that A) There is no God or any remotely “supernatural” force in the universe.”So, you don’t hate religious people, but you apparently think they are stupid.

  • Fisch, BN, Germany

    Well, it this trivial sense I am religious too, who is not, but what does it matter? Nothing. What matters is what we do. Nothing but the outcome counts.

  • Deb

    Henry James:I’m sorry to bring this up, but I have to mention one tiny little point that bothers me about your discussion regarding Einstein and Spinoza’s God. You wrote:Einstein said:in my meagre literary imaginationYou then wrapped up with :”If God is NOT the laws of physics, what is it?”My problem lies in the fact that Einstein said that God reveals himself IN the lawful harmony of all that exists; he did not say that God reveals himself TO BE the lawful harmony of all that exists. Because of that, I don’t think you can equate his statement with your agreement that God IS the law of physics.Just a tiny observation. ;)

  • Mr Mark

    Christians quoting Einstein and trying to posthumously recruit him to their cause. What a hoot!Einstein’s “god” in no way resembles the Xian/Judeo god.The fact is, the world would be a much better place if the religious abandoned their imaginary gods and embraced Einstein’s god.

  • Sjoerd

    Einstein was a great physician. But that does not make his religious beliefs, or the absence of them, important. He was not necessarily a religious genius. For that I would go to Jesus or M. Ghandi.

  • Look Within

    Dear Friends,Some might suggest that trying so hard to convince another that they are wrong, childish, naive, stupid, etc. shows that the person you are trying to convince is acting as a mirror for you, showing you something that you really don’t like about yourself. Perhaps your time would be better spent thinking about that, rather than repeating your own thoughts about religion and/or trying to disavow another of their’s. What might your life be like if you looked at why you are so angry, or need to make someone else wrong, or feel the need to judge or put others down?Good luck and peace!

  • Henry James

    thank you M Interested,as a literary critic, i am interested in the difference in connotation you see betweenIs your differention aesthetic? To me the two phrases have the same “reference,” in the philosophical sense that my brother William and Frege use it.I believe that the laws lead to harmony in all that exists when they are instantiated.We can and should experience wonder and awe and mystery when we see the instantiations/lawful harmonies, that i agree on.

  • mannbhupinder

    So!? He gave his opinion and if you want to hug him and make a big deal of his belief in God–go ahead: his belief or disbelief proves not a thing. Because it is a belief and an opinion. My view: This God you keep talking about was created by human mind, and this God and the promise of Heaven have been exploited by the organized religion (of all sorts) for several millenia. The Economist wrote the obituary of some God in 2000.

  • glen broemer

    If the soul and body are one then the soul deteriorates at death. Other than that it’s perfect!

  • B-Man

    It seems to me that Einstein is as good a person as any to put forth his views on religion. Don’t all organized religions make rather preposterous truth claims about how the universe works? Well, who better understood the physical workings of the universe better than Einstein? Einstein seems to me to be eminently qualified to discuss the subject of Religion.

  • Chouk Bolden

    There is God. Somethings don’t come from Nothing!

  • God’s Character

    The great debate continues….God is science, He has perfected it. God is nature, as He created and sustains it. God is justice, as He regulates it. God is All Knowledge, that encompasses math, language, and the heavens. As for the mention of ones senses earlier: touch, taste, smell, vision, and hearing, these are very limited and imperfec. What many feel to aquint with the concept of God is one’s soul, heart, and mind which is the mystery of our creation. Clearly Einstein felt that God created us for some reason. And he clearly felt that God isn’t the refere of humanity, rather He has the ordained/divine creed of all.

  • Franklin

    I want to thank Walter Isaacson for this wonderful piece on Einstein’s spiritual philosphy that appears to rattle the sensibilities of both theistic and secular fundamentalist. Unfortunately, there are sectors amongst secular thinking individuals that reduce God, and those who beliefe in God, to a bare and childlike simplicity that ridicules the believers. They, like religious fundamentalists, adhere to a view of a very brutal and vengeful God. Views of God among the theists vary from Maimonides rationalism to Bachya Pakuda’s heartfelt God. Jews, Christians and Muslims have a rich variety of views for something as ineffable and mysterious as God.That Einstein had his own view should be cherished and appauded by theist and athiest alike. Yes, some fundamentalist theists might also object to Einstein’s version of God for not being a personal entity. Must we be so narrow minded? Rabbi Irwin Kula once was also questioned by a scientist on his view of God. Rabbi Kula responded that he didn’t believe in the same God this scientist didn’t believe in either. In the end, I hope that we don’t become fundamentalist around Einstein’s religious and spiritual philosophy either. Whether we like it or not, most people throughout the world seemed to be wired to believe in a higher power also. Could they all be wrong?

  • B-Man

    To CHOUK BOLDEN:Then who created God?

  • Henry James

    Debinvoking my philosopher brother William again, we need to acknowledge that we are in Never Never land when we start any sentence with the wordsexcept perhaps when we say”God is something that is impossible to put into words.”So, I am aware of the poverty of my sayingEinstein seemed to be saying he saw what HE called God “reflected” in the harmony of the laws of physics.Reminds us of Plato’s Cave: we don’t see the Ideal Form (God?), we see the shadow reflected on the wall.It is like what poetry does: try to express the inexpressible.

  • Zach

    To ask more than what Einstein believed is to be guilty of something called the sin of hubris. And even more, a belief in the existence of a platonic universe is a sign of hubris.A grand article in a recent issue of New Yorker titled The Interpreter shows that even the concepts of number and recursion are not necessary for human intelligence and consciousness to exist.To be satisfied with a profound sense of awe and a yearning to learn and understand reality is a sign of maturity. To demand more is selfish and presumptive.

  • Faye Kane

    The simple answer for simpleminded people is: no, Einstein did not believe in god. Okay?In the sense you yokels talk about it, he was an atheist. He was also being charitable and polite.The other thing he was doing was trying, unsuccessfully it seems, to give you a hint that time and space are vaster, more complex, and more mysterious than you dimwits, with your pat, simpleminded, anthropocentric answers, can ever imagine.

  • Terra Gazelle

    Jacob,Yes Nathans are the Best!Have a great time at Coney Island…I loved Alantic City and Boardwalk Fries. ; )terra

  • omar harvey

    so what’s your point? is that what your down to? he did so we should to. if there is a god you really debase the whole thing. but you have no proof, which is what’s required.

  • OverEducated

    Baruch/ Benedict Spinoza: 17th century Dutch philosopher. In some ways a follower of Rene Descartes but ended up at very different conclusions. I’m sure Wikipedia has lots more.He wrote a lot of dense stuff that’s hard to understand, but some of his statements make good epigrams. For example:”I have striven not to laugh at human actions, not to weep at them, nor to hate them, but to understand them.” -Spinoza

  • interested

    To B-MAN:I just wanted to point out how stereotypes cause us to misconstrue things. Both you and the guest contributor contrast Einstein with people who believe that God controls everything. But this seems to be the reverse of Einstein’s own understanding. Einstein distinguishes himself from Jewish tradition, specifically because Jewish tradition affirms free will. Hence, in Einstein’s view of Jewish tradition (and he is basically correct about this) God does not determine everything. God may be capable of doing so, but God does not. Einstein says that “God … reveals himself in the lawful harmony of all that exists” and calls himself a determinist, rejecting free will. It seems that in Einstein’s view, God determines everything. Whether God is personal or impersonal, concerned about human affairs or not, identical with the laws of nature or not–those are separate questions. You and the contributor used the word “control,” but we can use Einstein’s own term “determine.” You and the contributor trotted out a straw man–”those traditional religious people who believe that God controls everything.” But in Einstein’s view (as given in the article), those traditional religious people are the ones who believe in free will and are not determinists. Einstein contrasts himself with them by saying he’s a determinist. Your rural neighbors reflect popular American Christianity, probably the conservative Protestant variety. Please don’t interview them and walk away saying “That’s the view of Christianity.” But if they believe that God “intervenes” in their lives/history/whatever, they believe that God intervenes in a something. That something requires intervention and is not wholly determined ahead of time. Hence, they are not determinists and probably believe in free will.

  • Henry James

    Zachi fear that you may oversimplify a bit when you writeMany interesting and productive thinkers have taken Plato’s writings very seriously, even if they did not “literally” believe in what you call a “platonic universe,” whatever you mean by that.Philosophically speaking, the nature of “reality” is problematic.According to quantum physics, it is even more problematic.Then add Heisenberg. And complementarity. Oy vey?

  • Daniel

    I think Zach has a good handle on this. Saying that God is “the laws of physics” does not make much sense. It is definitley not very satisfying, and besides, what are “the laws of physics?”The “laws of physics” is really a misnomer. It is a way to speak about things that are difficult to characterize. In science, we make observations, and in our minds, we relate them in ways that make sense to us. We may call these relationships “laws.” It is a metaphorical reference to laws or rules which we must live by in society. But these “physical laws” do not have any reality in themselves. They are only categories of realtionships in our minds, which we feel impelled to call laws. We should always be aware that there may be some broader relationship, as yet, unknown, that may someday become known, that will show all of these immutable laws to be just our imaginings. The world in which we dwell impresses us with its order, the origin of which, is a mystery. Some people call these impressions of order “laws of nature” but we have no basis for believing in any such laws. “God” as a concept, is beyond conception. Any effort to conceptualize this “God” reduces and circumscribes the concept of “God.” The three letter word G-O-D is a sort of place holder for all that we may infer about our impressions of order in the world.

  • BobbyG

    Is there a “Supreme Being”?Is that not utterly obvious upon the briefest clear reflection?Some “thing” supremely “be.” Some infinite “Is-ness” surely, supremely “is.”e.g., “Even that which is not is part of that which IS.” (Zakov, “The Dancing Wu Li Masters”)None of which mandates the existence of some anthropomorphic “Deity” habitually irritated over the moral shortcomings of “His” “subjects.”

  • william kalbacher

    The problem is science doesnt recognize the existence of God. Science actually says there is no God. With all gratitude and respect,

  • e

    i find this discussion of beliefs and the nature of God fascinating, but i have to admit that the best quote of the day so far–no offense to daniel, whose treatise was well written and interesting, and will cause me to send this link to myself so i can read it again later–is this one:”Let there be Photons and never have Sexualt Guilt complexes.” jacob has given me much amusement in this serious conversation. ya ya, indeed, brother! ;)

  • Miguel

    Jozevz: Interesting. Question: What are the MOTHERS-NAMES of both, Moses’s “Biblical Character(imagined?)” of Mr. NOAH & Mr. ABRAHAM?Did attila the hun exist? what was his mother’s name? and cleopatra’s? how about china’s first emperor?100% certain proof of god for every person is different. it’s called faith . your personal experience defines that.

  • Neo

    The Greeks said it all many years before Christ and Shakespeare but it into English: “The fault dear Brutus is not in our stars but in ourselves…”

  • Deb

    Henry James, I absolutely love the way you write.I think the problem we run into here is with the use of the word “religion”. Religion does not strictly mean a belief in a God; it can more loosely be used to mean something that is pursued with great devotion or zeal. So when Einstein states “Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion,” he might very well have been talking about his love for seeking the truths behind the workings of our universe, not the worship of a deity. This is why we have the problem of him saying at one time that he is “religious”, and at another “I don’t believe in God”.Of course, I could be wrong. I never met him.

  • Question Time

    Beliver writes:”I gladly place my hope and my life in His love and in His power to overcome the evil of this world. He has all the answers to all of your questions. Keep seeking and you will find.”That’s not the point. Once you answer all the questions, the questions become boring. Einstein’s ‘religiousity’ was in the questions he knew he couldn’t answer. I’m glad you think you’ve found your answer, just don’t let that stop you from asking more questions. Keep seeking, and may you never find.

  • Yogustus

    if anyone is interested (i’m sure u all are), i have found the most comprehensive and scientific explantion of the concept of God defined by the word “Brahman”. Google it.

  • Anonymous

    Yogustus,Whoa.

  • Jim Carlson

    I agree with Einstein’s notion of an impersonal god. And his imagery about a child in a library with books in many languages probably best describes humankind’s limited ability to ultimately comprehend god.However, I think we may be worse off than that. A library at least offers a chance at understanding for those studious and intelligent enough to learn the languages and read the books. In a more apt analogy, I think the books extend forever in all directions. But that doesn’t matter, because someone has neglected to turn on the lights.

  • Anonymous

    Re: Brahman:So the Hindus take all our jobs, then it turns out they had the God-thing figured out too?? DOH!!

  • Rob L.

    God is an infantile concept. Santa for adults.

  • Richard

    We only have five senses. It is apparent that five is not enough to apprehend the universe, be it expanding, contracting, static or multiple.Further, when pressed hard, it is just as impossible to imagine nothing as something. Both conditions are implausible.I don’t know. Nor do you. The only ones who know with absolute certainty are those of “faith”. I am ignorant, but they are wrong.

  • Rob L.

    Yes, God is a idea that is used for advantage, rolled out whenever convenient, in whatever form the deluded need for the moment. I do like to ask Bible Thumpers just what exactly their God is doing right this minute, how is he manifesting his glory? The answers are comical. There is no god. Never was. Myths are cool though.

  • Rob Adams

    We have Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Wiccans, Atheist, Muslins, independents (like myself) and other faiths represented on this site whether they are panelists or posters.Dogma and scripture debates are one thing. I think one of the most basic questions is the definition of what/who God is?The answer:a) The pantheist version of God We all have our opinions, but who is actually right? Since we can not agree on a,b,c,d the logical explanation is E) All of the above.Dogma and scripture we will likely dispute for the next 1000 years. That is a separate topic.My belief is that God is infinite and grander than we imagine thus he could be everything. I always see on this site that we can’t all be right. However when we talk about the big picture perhaps we are all correct in that God is all of the above.Thoughts?

  • Yogustus

    Few quotes to ponder over…Try to be pure and unselfish -that is the whole of religion.Each soul is potentially divine. To be religious is to manifest this Divinity within, by controlling nature, external and internal. Do this either by work, or worship, or psychic control, or philosophy… and be free. This is the whole of religion. Doctrines and dogmas, rituals and forms, books and temples are but secondary details.

  • Yogustus

    Another quote from a speaker in the Parliament of Religions in Chicago 1853…He who says day and night, ‘I am a sinner, I am a sinner’, verily becomes a sinner… Why should one only talk about sin and hell, and such things?Ye are the children of God, the sharers of immortal bliss, holy and perfect beings. Ye divinities on earth – sinners! It is a sin to call man so; it is a standing libel on human nature. Come up, lions! and shake off the delusion that you are sheep; you are souls immortal, spirits free, blest and eternal

  • Believer

    Question Time:If I believe in a God who created everything that is in existence, who loves us so much he sent his Son to this earth to walk among us, then I think I would be insane not to believe that this same God knows the answers to whatever questions we could possibly conjure.Do I know all the answers? No. Do I have enough questions to keep me occupied to the end of my days on this earth? Yes.Do I believe that God will provide us all with the answers we need to find Him, if we will just take the time to seek Him? An emphatic YES!Why, because Jesus said so.”Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”Jesus

  • Anonymous

    Richard said:”We only have five senses. It is apparent that five is not enough to apprehend the universe, be it expanding, contracting, static or multiple.”I believe that we dwell in a world of providence and our five senses enable us to perceive this world as seamless and complete. Yet extending beyond the limitations of our senses, we can perceive no more, although much more may exist.

  • Regnes

    I know that I exist.

  • Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada

    Spinoza’s god is a false god, as much as Einstein’s initial refusal to believe in quantum dynamics was wrong. “I do not believe that God plays dice”, he had replied to Niels Bohr’s arguments and Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle.. With convincing demonstrations of Bohr’s theories later being made, Einstein, as the master scientist that he no doubt was, had no choice but to accept his initial misjudgement. Niels Bohr taunted him : “Not only does God play dice, but He sometimes throws the dice where nobody can see them.”To me this very profound statement of Niels Bohr summarises what we should understand by ‘agnosticism’.In the article by Walter Isaacson, there are the following statements attributed to Einstein: I am a determinist. I do not believe in free will. They believe that man shapes his own life. I reject that doctrine. In that respect I am not a Jew.If what little I have read is correct, Einstein revised this position about free will later in his life. And, modern science, in particular as explained by the likes of Abraham Pais, John D. Barrow and Freeman Dyson, among other luminaries, does not find an inevitable contradiction between free will and quantum physics. To quote Abraham Pais: “ I have always found that the expression ‘uncertainty relation’ is unfortunate…..The issue is not “what don’t I know?’ , but ‘what can’t I know?’. In common language, “I am uncertain” does not exclude “I could be certain”. It might have been better to use the term ‘knowability relations’ to define the concept that Heisenberg has developed and had later been tested and verified in the lab.Allow me, since politics inevitably creeps into the WAPO discussions, to point out that the very wise scientists (God bless them if He exists, May Nature favour the evolutionary selection of the likes of them, in case God does not exist and we have to rely on Nature) who lobbied hard against the invasion of Iraq had used reason to persuade Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Francis Fukuyama, but Rumsfeld had ridiculed them, in the same breath dismissing “known knowns, known unknowns, unknown knowns and unknown unknowns” as ravings of mad men.Einstein might have found reason for questioning his Jewishness in his rejection of the notion of free will, but I have not been able to find any logical contradiction in all my reading of the verses of the Holy Quran, including of course, the fact that the Quran, as much as the Talmud, the Torah, the Bible (Injeel in Arabic), refer to God having gifted Adam (figuratively speaking, so no logical contradiction) with free will, unlike the angels.Another point raised in the article by Walter Isaacson is that Einstein acclaimed Spinoza for having been the first philosopher to deal with the soul and the body as one, not two separate things. The truth is, again, that modern science, having analyzed in far greater depth than in the time of Einstein the mind-body problem, including with modern tools of neuroscience and artificial intelligence, does not see any contradiction in a non-embodied mind. Thus Einstein made the mistake of assuming that the soul or the mind is a “thing”. Modern cutting edge science views the mind more as a process – hence much talk about ‘hardwiring in the mind’ and genetic inheritability of “meme” . This process, by virtue of its encoding of the ‘meme’ in the gene is separate from the body, which is a physical thing as Einstein was right in viewing it. So the soul (or the process that delimits it) exists as distinct from the body. In view of all this, I describe myself as a Muslim-borderline-agnostic. I am pretty sure that Physicist Abdus Salaam and artificial.intelligence/fuzzy.logic expert Lotfi Zadeh would not dismiss my arguments as nonsense.

  • Anonymous

    Rob,I think you’re on to something there…

  • DarrelHuff

    It really doesn’t matter what Einstein thought of the existence of God. Like most of us, he was simply awed by the order and the beauty what he saw all around him. He considered himself and all of the rest of us as novices with respect to our ability to really understand the order that we experience with our senses. He had no personal knowledge of God, but he understood and appreciated the idea of something intangible being behind what he regularly observed in the physical world. He was not convinced of the existence of a personal God in what he experienced, but he also did not subscribe to the idea of everything being the result of purely random events. Einstein was humbled by the wonder of things that existed all around him. It would be good if modern scientists and religionists adopted such a humble attitude about what we can and do know. It is truth that embodies the whole of scientific and religious thought. So, if the intangible roots of existence are, in fact, traceable to a supreme intelligence (i.e., God) then God is science. God and science are not mutually exclusive concepts.

  • Neil Clark

    To Ann O, who wonders “Why do so many atheists think that only stupid people believe in God?”I can only answer that in my experience (for I cannot presume to speak for all atheists); the stupid people I encounter tend to seek only the simplest, black-&-white answers to all of life’s mysteries…and they also tend strongly to cling closely to some fundamentalist religion. The correlation is too strong to ignore. Some stereotypes are, in fact, archetypes – because they have a basis in fact.To offer another Einstein quote:”I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the kind that we experience in ourselves. Neither can I nor would I want to conceive of an individual that survives his physical death; let feeble souls, from fear or ab surd egoism, cherish such thoughts. I am satisfied with the mystery of the eternity of life and with the awareness and a glimpse of the marvelous structure of the existing world, together with the devoted striving to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the Reason that manifests itself in nature.” [Albert Einstein, The World as I See It]

  • Mikki

    4/27/07 Hi, Brothers & Sisters: I glanced thru everything said or written above. You made good points, like any one of us, a confused human can make ! First, Jew used to be known as Pharisee, recall ? Pharisee divided us with “Zoarastra”; then found “Christain” (as a result came “Muslim”); then found “Communisum” which resulted in total choas of God’s country, as we all can see. Do you have any doubt ? Second, do we know what “Bible” Einstein used to follow- that must be the “Veda” (in Sanskrit), which is “Knowledge” (in English- by the way all Man’s languages, including English, are rooted in Sanskrit). Do you have any doubt on that ? Third, under “Veda”, all we see or sense (which is no more than 10% of what really exist) is part of “Brahman” (in Tamil, the Pictorial language & Sanskrit, the sound-based language) which is “GOD” (or Almighty in English)- that mean, you, I and the rest- Earth, Sun etc.. is all Part of GOD, and exist to do a “Duty”- what is that Duty ? Are you with me ? The Duty is what confused the Jew or Pharisee under ‘free will’- To be continued:Mikki

  • Daniel

    “Because Jesus said so” is not a valid argument. Quoting or appealing to scriptures from the Bible or Koran is not a valid argument. It actually indicates a basic hostility towards those you disagree with, that you use the points of disagreement to show others how wrong they are. A person with a primitive Christian belief can only appeal to Jesus or the Bible when discussing the issues with others of similar belief; otherwise, it is fundamentally disrespectful, and hostile.

  • alex

    There are a lot of examples of statements Einstein made disavowing the notion of God or a creator. You never see articles in the Washington Post about that though. Atheists apparently don’t experience this gnawing desire to have others validate their belief system. Calm, cool, collected and certain.

  • Yogustus

    - I believe the Universe is cyclic…it will die a countless deaths ….but will be born again each time.- I believe that none of us ever die…we are like the microcosm of the Universe (which is the macrocosm)…we die countless deaths…but we are born again and again to lead new lives. Nothing else explains hope. Nirvana, Moksha, Salvation is when we get tired of the game and need a time out.- I believe we bump into people from our previous lives on a regular basis.- I believe in the power which holds this elaborate system together….I believe we all hold a fraction of that power within us. Its there for our calling. – I believe unselfish love is the best experience of that power.- I believe we create our own fate/future/destiny (or whatever you may want to call it)… by whatever we are doing right now. In short, we are responsible for our own mess…lets keep the heavens out of it. And oh..by the way…I believe that there is no heaven or hell…you live through both of them right here.- I believe that the person who does not believe in himself or herself …is an atheist.

  • NO

    Rob Adams: You are wrong.

  • Brendan

    Wow a Viereck reference! That nutjob used my New Jersey home town for his German-sympathizing publishing house, Flanders Hall, until he was arrested in 1942. His case went to the Supreme Court. While he was in jail, his son was drafted and killed at Anzio. Still a nutjob though. Viereck’s wife converted to Catholicism after the war, mostly out of guilt over her husband’s politics.

  • B-Man

    To Interested:Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I have to admit that the concepts of “determinism” and “free will” both confound me.Does determinism mean that God’s hand consciously moves all the chess pieces of the universe according to his will? Or does it mean that the universe can only unfold according to the laws of nature? These are two very different meanings. I believe Einstein was referring to the latter definition.And what is free will? What would humans be like if they didn’t have free will? Would they be pre-programmed robots?Finally, doesn’t organic growth encompass both determinism and free will?! In other words, isn’t the universe free to unfold in an infinite number of ways, but those infinite number of ways of unfolding must all fall within the deterministic laws of nature?

  • Daniel

    Yogustus

  • Rob Adams

    To NO.You posted that I was wrong. No problem there, I was just hoping for more dialogue on the subject.I would be happy to hear your thoughts.

  • Deb

    Alex wrote:”Atheists apparently don’t experience this gnawing desire to have others validate their belief system. Calm, cool, collected and certain.”I almost fell out of my chair I laughed so hard when I read that!

  • OverEducated

    Re: “Spinoza’s god is a false god, as much as Einstein’s initial refusal to believe in quantum dynamics was wrong.” – I am agnostic on the whole free will/ determinism thing. I’ve studied quantum mechanics, and it doesn’t seem to me to answer the question one way or the other. My best guess (emphasis on guess) is that we experience ourselves as free when our actions are determined more by internal factors (our desires) than by external factors (coercion). Regardless, one can be a religious naturalist/ pantheist/ believe in an immanent and impersonal Divine without being a determinist. Or be a determinist and also be an atheist or traditional theist. I think there is a contradiction in the notion of a non-embodied mind. If mind is considered a pattern, it is a pattern _of_ something. Like words are patterns of ink or electrons. I find it hard to concieve of a pattern independent of any medium. But, maybe that’s just the limitations of my own mind (pattern) talking!

  • FOUND IT

    Jacob – I think I found the source of your inspirationL – S – DNOW you’re making PERFECT sense….

  • Tez

    “There are a lot of examples of statements Einstein made disavowing the notion of God or a creator.”A reference would have been nice. My guess is that if he did, he was likely disavowing the notion of a human-like deific personality, i.e. Yahweh, as God. From what was stated in the opening article it appears that he felt there was a metaphysical ‘something’, but not necessarily a being that took sides and got involved with us directly.

  • Jacob Jozevs in the Raw of Transfinity miracle stuff

    Mr. Albert Einstein, PEACE BE UPON HIM; is My Great mentor and PROPHET.And his forerunners advocated not just the ECLATi in All animate and in the inanimate things (Spooky or not) was an avid LOVER OF UNITED NATIONS. Note: Some say he was a “Lover of Zion” because he was offered, by “The great People Of The State Of ISRAEL” to become her Vice President. But it is the ARABS (muslims) who called Albert et al that or promoted that beautiful word “Zion.”As TRIVIA: Interestingly Islam, besides reading their “Glorias Koran” that angel Gabriel dictated, they also read (especially in Syria and in Iran & Turkey & Saudi) a book, called “Protocols of the ELDERS OF ZION” [Simiar] that was written by KARL MARX’s friend(s) in the UKRAIN back around 1868, Before the NEW YORK BAR ASSOCIATION was established.In his best seller: “IDEA and OPINIONS” Any One of his ASPERANTs [As a I am] who grasp the meaning of his NEW SONG indeed use his GOOD PHILOSOPHY to overcome Reality. And One does not need a Tautologic form of MORALITY teachings since WE ARE BORN IN MIRACLE and Zero SIN as soon as we escape the UTERO.Peace-Love-Rock and Roll with The ECLATi in my Me Me in ALL. Praise the Lord God Almighty every day any day. Peace be Upon Our Great ECLATi-On ProPhet(s) Ya Mon. : + )/

  • Daniel

    To: VinnyWhen I think of Albert Einstein, I believe in Creation. But when I think of Vinny, I believe in evolution.

  • B-Man

    Vinny:Then please explain who created your God?Also, all of your arguments have been dealt with handily by Dawkins and Harris in their recent books. You should read them.

  • alex

    Vinny, forgive me for not reading your manifesto through to its end, but I didn’t need to. Your first sentence is all that’s necessary for a quick decapitation:”Every beginning has a CAUSE”Ok, fine, if everything has to have a cause, what’s the cause of your God? Who created your Creator? Who designed your Designer?Your argument defeated itself before it even got out of the gate.

  • Henry James

    VinnyJust on length alone, it is sociopathic.get help.for the sake of humanity

  • OverEducated

    Amen Henry James!

  • Anap.

    Hey Miguel:Who says 1 + 1 can’t equal 3?The union of a man and woman can bring about the miracle of life, a family of 3. AHA!There are beautiful twists and shimmers of light like that everywhere, and that is the mystery of the divine. The human experience is just in a different universe than the math. And in the end we are debating experience which can’t be denied so what is the point debating it? I could be wrong, you could be wrong, so listen, and accept our differing views, and just observe the beauty around us.

  • Deanna

    Rob -I agree with you. The God I worship was the mind behind the huge, formless, immensely dense glob of pure energy that existed at the beginning of the Big Bang. His action was what occurred in that 10 to the -43 fraction of a second at the very beginning of the Big Bang that set into motion the perfectly timed, perfectly tuned explosion that, over eons and eons, evolved into the universe and everything in it, including homo sapiens. Einstein’s statement, “Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible laws and connections, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion.” is a pretty good description of God. S/he was before all time and will continue to exist after time as we know it has ended. S/he created all things, permeates every atom of all things, and contains all things in her/his being. S/he is neither male nor female. S/he is both, for s/he created both and is in them both. Someone once told me a story about God and religions that is a very good analogy for illustrating your point. God — the God of all — sits atop a mountain. From his/her vantage point s/he can view all the activity on all sides of the mountain as people toil to reach him/her. Knowing all the terrain of the mountain, God can predict the likely outcome of different people’s actions, but s/he does not influence them. The paths carved into the mountain’s sides are the world’s religions. They are created by humankind in their attempt to explain the unexplainable. Some paths will lead to the mountaintop and God; others may not. Which will and which won’t is known only to God. And if you need to factor in the allegorical first humans — Adam and Eve — and their fall from grace, they began their lives atop the mountain with God. When they were cast out of Eden, they either left no path or their path was eradicated. Besides, I’m not sure retracing their steps is necessarily the way to God.

  • Nancy Reagan

    Jacob-Just say “no” to drugs.

  • Nancy Reagan

    Mikra – I’ll drink to that!

  • Yogustus

    Daniel,err…i think u missed the point. i pre-fix everything with “i believe”…not “my culture believes”…and as for remembering past lives, tell me dear…how clearly do u remember when u were 2 months old? and that’s just this lifetime. chill.Y

  • ALM

    Yogustus,Saw and loved your quote above, and wondered if it was a bit of wisdom of Sw. Vivekananda. Googled it and sure enough it was! (The date was a hint of course.)I think that whether Einstein called his sense of wonder worship or not, it surely was, and a taste of that immortal bliss!

  • JL

    Spinoza postulated that all existence is one substance, a God of infinite attributes. One of these attributes is thought/consciousness/mind and another is extension, which is expressed in humans as a physical body. Hence, humans exhibit and are cognizant of these two attributes, but are clueless about the rest (infinity – 2).

  • Anonymous

    Vinny may need to stop drinking so much coffee, but his question (or at least that much effort) deserves a reasoned responseAnd answers like ‘what came before God’ are likely irrelevant if one actually exists.My guess is that the concept of ‘before’ is only applicable in the dimensional construct within which we exist. It’s a temporal reference that may only be useful to us because of our own conceptual limits. It may not have any relevance or offer any boundary to something that we might classify as ‘God’.

  • Rob Adams

    Deanna. Thanks for the vote of confidence :) I am now batting .500. One for, one against. I did like your mountain analogy. Althought there is no safety in number. we could 9 out of 10 people agree with me, it doesn’t make me right. Though I hope I am!I hope people don’t miss my point that God can be personal and impersonal in the same instant.Vinny’s rant does bring up another interesting point. Ok atheist if there is no God then how did the universe just become from nothing? Ok believer who or how was your God created?In both instances we currently can not provide proof that any answer is correct. In both instances the question is what was the cause of either the universe or God. Hmm perhaps they both lack an answer because they are one and the same?

  • Anonymous

    RICHARD F.E.Y.N.M.A.N. the founder ofG-O-D-S NUMBER? Which is ECLAT and logically expressed in ITSELF as the NATURE of the Plasma & Magma, being or born ITSELF from the FLASH “FIRST” and then commanded to follow ITSELF via the BIG-BANG “SECOND” And has, since then been doing the MIZAN as what IT does best (In Arabic IT means Balance) and IT is Eternity Avoiding Lonliness through US and All things animate and Inanimate. Remember This Number and please paste IT on your natural Wall.e2.71828Is this the cause effect of why we appear in this miracle Photon form?

  • OverEducated

    Vinny’s post was a long-winded version of the “Argument from Design”. Google that phrase and I’m sure you’ll turn up lots of reasoned arguments pro and con. I’ll just note that complex systems can arise from the operation of simple rules. There’s something called the “Game of Life” that illustrates this well, and is fun to play with, too. It’s a computer program that turns pixels in a graphic on and off according to very simple rules, but complex “entities” proceed to emerge and develop under many conditions. Maybe there was Someone or Something that programmed the rules of our universe; maybe not. I’m not in communication with Him/Her/It. There are also cosmological theories involving cyclical or multiple universes, so maybe “Everything” didn’t just pop out of “Nothing”. But maybe it did. I don’t think I’ll find that book in the library, let alone read it, in this lifetime.

  • Phantom

    God is the origin of all things. Einstein acknowedged that to a certain extent but in the greater scheme of things; who’s he? Many men have tried to wave their finger in the face of God and most of them have met the same fate with the others not yet dead traveling in the same trajectory.Richard Dawkins is an idiot of the highest order who’s self absorbed with his own infamy that he’s created. Why any self respecting journalist would want to waste their time interviewing him is beyond me! I do not believe in Deism; to believe that would mean that God is no longer active daily in the lives of believers and others. I believe in free-choice in that we can choose to sumbit to His will or choose not to. I do know, though, that all things work together for the good of those who love God.I’m sorry, I picked up the flu my wife had this whole week and now I’m down with it too. Therefore, I’m gonna lie down for the whole long weekend (we have public holidays in my country so we had today off and have Tuesday off, I’ve taken Monday off too), so I’ll depart for now until I’m better and fresh. I may even reveal my former “On Faith” name; although being Phantom is quite fun, albeit kinda brief. I like the nitty gritty arguments some of which I’m not getting involved in right now… sniff sniff

  • B-Man

    I’ve heard many people say unkind things said about Richard Dawkins.I’ve never heard anyone successfully rebut his arguments.

  • David L. Book

    Einstein was not a deist or a theist of any sort. He used “God” as a metaphor, as in “Gott wirfelt nicht [God does not play dice]” It’s just as if the Pope were to say, “Nature abhors a vacuum.” The Pope doesn’t think that nature is a living entity, and Einstein didn’t think that god is either.

  • Phillip

    Human Resources DepartmentSo, Mr. God, I see by your resume that your primary (only?)achievement in the work of design is a project called Earth and the human species there.Now, it seems to me to be a rather violent, petty place. The humans kill, rape, torture, lie, steal and manipulate each other. They are destroying their environment. How do you account for these rather basic design flaws?And what was the deal with making malaria, which kills innocent people, millions of children, not to mention various other diseases. Was this part of your self-described “intelligent” design?Ah, it’s the devil’s fault. Excuse me, but that sounds like a bit of a cop-out.I’m sorry, but we here at Inter-Galactic Design are looking for designers with, shall we say, more successful projects on their resume. And it doesn’t help your case to scapegoat your flaws with this devil thing. We admire entities that have the courage to step up to the plate and say, I screwed up. Only then can we move forward and try to make better worlds.I do wish you luck. But maybe you should get out of this archaic god thing and just apply yourself to what truly exists and trying to make it better.G’DayAttn: Vinny et al

  • Jihadist

    And Einstein said : “I’m not an atheist. I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws.”Very fascinating and interesting. Reading what he said from a Muslim perspective and understanding, Einstein sounds almost like a Muslim reasoning why s/he would not get into a theological speculation on God as the human mind and knowledge is rather limited to fully and truly understand and know God and Its creation – the heaven and earth. Only to pursue science to understand the marvels of creation and nature. E=mc2 indeed, when it comes to beliefs and faith on these On Faith threads.

  • Jihadist

    ….. and of course, everyone knows that Einstein was an atheist and was just being polite as a dinner party guest when he said that. So, we all can cherry pick what he said here and there to state our case, for God or against God:)

  • mrmetrowest

    As Einstein said, he believed in Spinoza’s God. What is the difference between Spinoza’s God and atheism? Just semantics.Feel free to believe in Spinoza’s God if it makes you feel better. Just don’t expect Spinoza’s God to believe in you.

  • Henry James

    Jihadist continues to enlighten meThe more I learn about Allah, from J and others on this site, the more I think Jihadist is correct: the Muslim concept of Allah is close to Einstein’s “God” in many ways.I think there are many differences as well, but for just one similarity in my mind, the 99 names for God that Islam describes is one metaphorical path to grappling with the indescribability of the mysteries of the universe and of the human heart.

  • Phillip

    Vinny,You are taking up way too much space. All of what you say has been deflated and defeated hundreds of time. I doubt anyone here is going to waste their time doing so for you.You obviously deeply need to believe in the mythologies. That’s too bad. But you are entitled to it.Giving up the mythologies and trying to see the world without feel-good illusions is hard. But without it, your life is lived in falsehood. We got beyond Zeus, we can go beyond your god.Search for truth. It will be much more rewarding than illusion.The Awe of the universe makes all the childish biblical stories and creation myths of all current religions, pale and boring in comparison.

  • FOUND IT

    Jacob- My tab has just kicked in….AND I GET EVERYTHING YOU SAY!!

  • OverEducated

    Jacob, Sometimes you say interesting and funny stuff, and sometimes you just make no sense. I really don’t think I’m a potential “convert” to the stuff that makes no sense. Sorry.

  • Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada

    Tez,You asked where did Einstein try to wag his finger at the face of God.That is just a way of overdramatizing a picture of Einstein initial refusal to align himself with the theories of Heisenberg’s Uncetainty Principle and Niels Bohr’s Quantum Mechanics or Quantum Dynamics. To which Niels Bohr made the exquisite initial reply :”Tell Einstein he is not supposed to tell God what to do.” Hence wagging his finger in the face of God.Later, Bohr formulated an even more exquisite retort: “God not only plays dice; He sometimes throws them where nobody can see them”.

  • CRasch

    “From the viewpoint of a Jesuit priest I am, of course, and have always been an atheist…. I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic” – Einstein

  • Fate

    Einstein’s made two major mistakes, which he acknowledged, and the reasons he made those mistakes was due to his belief in a perfect God.The first was that “God does not play dice with the universe” which referred to the discovery of quantum mechanics and how, at very small distances and sizes, the universe is a blur, with particle positions becoming probable positions and even their speed, direction and energy cannot be defined with precision. This has been studied for well over 70 years. You can even do a home experiment to see that God indeed plays dice with the universe:His second mistake was that, in his mathematics, discovered that the universe should either expand or contract, but not stay static. Einstein could not believe that God would make anything but a static universe. But there were his equations, showing this not to be true. His belief in a static universe was so strong that he threw in a constant value to stabalize the equation to make the result a static universe. Later, when astronomers showed the universe was expanding, Einstein called his fudge factor his “greatest blunder”.So, what are we to make of Einstein’s brilliance when his belief in God clouded his own observations and judgment? I believe Einstein was indeed brilliant, but like anyone else, a firm belief in something without evidence to support that belief leads to a warped view of the world. How many other people are making similar mistakes, about much more mundane issues such as elections, laws, medicine, lifestyle and war?

  • Henry James

    MohamedOnce more, thank you for your apposite comment that illuminates the discussion.Hadn’t known the Bohr retorts and they are thought-provoking.Bohr, Heisenberg, Complementarity, the Mind of God, Einstein’s regret, a heady mix.

  • Mike

    Vinny’s main point was the need for intelligence behind the design. Everyone dismissed his arguments but to do so you ignore the observable universe. You attacked him personally but not the arguments. You side track his arguments by asking him where did God come from. He obviously believes God existed without a creator. Because I’m sure you would agree that something has always existed. To the atheist…matter has always existed…matter did not just create itself…if so than you have greater faith than one who believes in an ever existing God.

  • Rob Adams

    Phillip: humerous post as a person working for HR… good stuff.Someone said that there is no begining to God, he always was. But as temporal beings the linear time thing is sometimes hard for people overcome.Always an interesting debate

  • mrmetrowest

    Vinny’s problem is that he attacks the idea of existence without a primal cause logically, but then exempts his own belief in an ever existing God from the same logical test. Live by the sword, die by the sword.And how do you know that something hasn’t always existed? There’s no proof for or against that proposition.

  • John Debaker

    As the English philosopher Sir Alfred Ayer said:”Theism is so confused and the sentences in which ‘God’ appears so incoherent and so incapable of verifiability or falsifiability that to speak of belief or unbelief, faith or unfaith, is logically impossible.”That’s why this entire discussion as well as the column which occasioned it are COMPLETE NONSENSE.In case you were wondering.

  • Edwin

    Buddhism has the characteristics of what would be expected in a cosmic religion for the future: It transcends a personal God, avoids dogmas and theology; it covers both the natural and spritual; and it is based on a religious sense aspiring from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity. -Albert EinsteinIf there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs it would be Buddhism. -Albert Einstein

  • John Debaker

    Einstein was just being polite,Wanna know how I know?

  • mrmetrowest

    Vinny, I’m not going to read your entire posts because they’re too long and too much drivel.You can cut it however you want, but your one instance of the Creator needing no beginning is simply a matter of you exempting yourself from logical rules you wish to apply to others.Also, cosmologists do believe that this universe we know began with the famous ‘big bang.’ To say that our universe began with the big bang is not to say that nothing preceded the existence of the universe we currently inhabit. I don’t believe I’ve encountered theories as to what events might have preceded the bang. Presumably any evidence would have been destroyed by the bang itself – in other words, there’s no proof that something didn’t exist previously, and there probably can’t be proof.

  • John Debaker

    REPOST b/c of SPAM from Vinny * * * *As the English philosopher Sir Alfred Ayer said:”Theism is so confused and the sentences in which ‘God’ appears so incoherent and so incapable of verifiability or falsifiability that to speak of belief or unbelief, faith or unfaith, is logically impossible.”That’s why this entire discussion as well as the column which occasioned it are COMPLETE NONSENSE.In case you were wondering.

  • augustin song

    I am a retired physicist, of oriental back ground who became christian after adulthood. I try to keep my both hands (one of carrer scientist and the other trying to be a member of the christian faith) looking at each other in harmony. I have deep feeling about the marvels of all small and large things of the universe, living and life-less things. I feel there must be ‘some one’ who is responsible of all this. It is not my prefered image of this God who looks like and behaves like a human being.

  • Fate

    Vinny wrote:Precise? Can you explain that? And since you accept that the universe had a beginning, as astronomers have observed, do you also accept astronomers observation that the universe began 13 and a half billion years ago? Or do you only accept the parts that fit your predetermined belief?—This INTELLIGENT DESIGNER would be the reason why all life exists with its many outstanding features.—Outstanding features? Do you realize that NOTHING that was alive in 1850 is alive on this planet today? Life is a continuum of birth and death, with everything feeding off of sunlight or everything else. That seems pretty wasteful to me, but I accept that this is how life evolved. A hurricane or tornado has outstanding features, feeds on humidity and heat, moves, grows and eventually dies. I accept that life is no different.—This INTELLIGENT DESIGNER would be the reason why we humans have a conscience, appreciate scenery, plan ahead, and seek justice as well as love.—And when we read about a dog that saves a baby in a fire what are we to think? Dogs believe in God? Dogs have a conscience? Dogs seek love? A lot of what you think about humans is not so dissimilar from any other intelligent animal EXCEPT that you can communicate with others of your species in fine detail, and, you have such a large brain that you can imagine things, like a God.—This INTELLIGENT DESIGNER would be the answer to how all things came to exist.—Only if you want to give up your reason and follow your imagination. Two hundred years ago scientists could not determine how the sun stayed lit. No chemical process known at the time could explain it staying lit for hundreds of years, or the 6600 the bible said the sun’s age was. The sun, like previous religions, was proof of God. Now we know how the sun stays lit. We will eventually know how the universe was created. Religion, as before, will retreat when faced with scientific proof.—Fortunately ATHEISM, it does not fly for most people. Very few believe this kind of explanation for all of the many outstanding, complex, purposeful and organized features that exist today.—But when injured they pass right by the churches and synagogues and go right to the hospital, a house of science. People, in their hearts, know what will heal them.—Einstein included.—Yes, Einstein included. See my post above showing how religion clouded Einstein’s mind and caused him to make two great blunders.

  • Joseph K

    Vinny,If you put 25,000 monkeys in a warehouse typing randomly on 25,000 typewriters, sooner or later, perhaps after 25,000 years, one of the monkeys will have typed Hamlet.That’s how things got to be the way they are in the universe, though it took a lot more than 25,000 years.By the way, your God is imaginary. Perhaps a bad bit of broccoli caused your neurons to wobble and come up with this silly phantasm.Pepto-Bismol might help.Regards.

  • Fate

    Tez wrote:Yes, so how is it that a being that exists outside the universe can interact with this universe. And do we consider Him to be a good God just because he created us? What I focus on is how God has changed from the old to new testaments, with God’s personality changing along with mans as man became more civilized. One has to wonder, did man change and his God complied? Which is the sheep and which is the shepard?

  • brian mcc, the arctic

    As we candidly discuss the brilliant mind of Einstein, E=mc2, has any of us become more intelligent? The entire debate is this question: are the secrets of the cosmos found from a fine tuned intellect, or a spiritual belief, or perhaps, a combination of the 2?

  • Joseph K

    Vinny,You write:I already told you. Please see my post of 8:26 PM above.

  • Joseph K

    Vinny,In re: your post of 8:40 PM above:If you study just a little bit of science, you’ll find, as I said with the monkey example, that the sun, moon, stars and brains did evolve through time by a random process.

  • John Conolley

    Vinny,Atheists aren’t that easily buried. The problem with the argument from first cause is this: cause and effect exist within the universe. They apply to processes that exist within the universe. You are trying to carry them outside the universe where there are no processes, and no cause and effect, and trying to use them to build a god. You’re trying to pull a god out of a vacuum, as it were. On top of that, you’re creating an infinite regress. If everything has a cause, why doesn’t God have a cause? And why doesn’t that have a cause? If you answer that God has always existed, on what grounds do you deny that the universe has always existed? (Thanx and a hat tip to Ayn Rand for these arguments.)

  • Fate

    Vinny confidently wrote:It was all created last Thursday, including your memories, the fossils in the ground, etc. Prove me wrong Vinny…—The lame personal accusations against vinny are showing your hand.—Are you talking to yourself?—Atheists are BURIED by their own beliefs.—By definition, atheists have no beliefs.—This is a bad thread for atheists.—I’m enjoying it nicely. Sorta like arguing with someone who saw a shooting star that they did not see an alien spacecraft. The arguments from the believers is very amusing.

  • John Conolley

    Fate:I realize, as William Buckley said, that he who lives by the pointing out of solecism dies by the pointing out of solecism, but… really….” Do you realize that NOTHING that was alive in 1850 is alive on this planet today?”That’s a little anthropocentric. There are trees on this planet that have been alive for thousands of years. There’s a cypress not far from where I live that’s been alive for 2600 years, and that’s a pup, as old trees go.Also, I think there’s an essential difference between life and a tornado. As Rand put it, life is a self-initiating, self-sustaining process. That doesn’t apply to tornadoes. Asimov put it this way (quoting from memory): “Life is a local and temporary decrease in entropy through enzyme catalyzed reactions.” Big difference from a storm.

  • John Conolley

    Jeeze, I referred to three other thinkers in less than 150 words. One could get the impression I don’t think for myself.

  • John Conolley

    Vinny:”Scientists say so. Evidence says so. Bible says so. It is growing and expanding. The universal principle of “all beginnings have a cause” says so. It’s order and precision says so.””Scientists say so.” No they don’t. Even if you go with Big Bang Theory (which looks to me like extrapolation way past the point where extrapolation applies), they don’t say that nothing existed before that.”Evidence says so.” I think the evidence is scant and has been interpreted to a transparent attenuation.”The Bible says so.” I don’t give a rat’s ass what the Bible says.I can’t help noticing you utterly ignored the argument about cause and effect existing within the universe, and proceeded to carry it out again. You can’t do that without justifying it. You’ve been called out on it. Slap leather or admit you’re not packing.Order and precision: Ho ho. You can’t pull that on a country boy. I’ve seen what kind of work a farmer has to exert to keep order and precision in a few acres. You can’t tell me it exists in a whole county, let alone a whole universe.

  • Jane Birnbaum

    Was Einstein expressing “the harmony and beauty of what he called the mind of God” when he was a pig to his long-suffering wife?

  • John Conolley

    Fate:”prove it aint so”I realize you’re jesting, but some people say things like that and mean it, and–Aw, hell, I just like to argue.Making assertions contrary to all experience, then saying “prove it ain’t so,” isn’t legitimate argumentation. Prove the Easter Bunny isn’t so. If you’re going to make extraordinary assertions, it’s your job to prove it bloody well is so.From the point of view of science, Karl Popper would say that your assertion is untestable.From the point of view of philosphy, I would say, give me a good reason to believe my memory and all my senses are lying to me.

  • Fate

    John,I stand corrected about life’s length. My point was that life is not a static thing, but a continual replication from generation to generation. You’d be surprised how many people think nothing changes. It helps me understand why people, for thousands of years, think the world will end in their lifetimes, like they are somehow special but the previous 100 generations since Christ was born were not. 1000 years from now the same arguments will be made, those who understand reality will listen to mystical explanations that have no evidence, and be told they know nothing. Its all been done before and will continue. Maybe these arguments and debates are nothing more than the permanent increase in entropy.

  • John Conolley

    Vinny,You still haven’t answered the point that cause and effect don’t apply outside of existence. They only apply to things that exist. Now deal with it, Puddin’head.Fate,You consider a tornado a decrease in entropy?

  • John Debaker

    “If you put 25,000 monkeys in a warehouse typing randomly on 25,000 typewriters, sooner or later, perhaps after 25,000 years, one of the monkeys will have typed Hamlet.”——————————It’s gotta be more than 25,000 years. Let’s see, suppose the monkeys all typed 60 w.p.m., never slept or needed a break, that their typewriters have 50 keys which they hit at random. Hamlet has about 32,250 words (about 182,500 characters).That means that one Hamlet-length MS takes one monkey about 8.96 hours. That 978+ MSS per monkey per year. OK,let’s call it 1000. That means 25,000 monkeys can produce 25 million MSS per year.But there are 50 ^ 102,500 (50 to the 102,500th power) which is a number with more than 174 thousand digits to the left of the decimal point. So you can see, 25 million MSS per year for 25,000 years won’t even make a dent in it.

  • Fate

    If God could have created the universe and everything in it, including you, why do you not believe He created the red corvette you talk about? Maybe we would both laugh that God created your car. But your claim as to what God has done is infinitely greater than making a mere corvette. And you side stepped my request that you show it was not all created last Thursday. Dancing around hard questions is typical of “believers” who must shield themselves from anything that threatens their beliefs. You believe much Vinny but you understand little.Do you understand that the same scientists that showed evidence for the big bang show that the universe is not just expanding, its accelerating its expansion. The future will see everything continue to fly apart faster and faster. At some point trillions of years from now, the sapce expansion will tear even atoms apart. Nothing will exist. But you’ll probably say that God will end it all by then.And speaking of designers, no designer I know builds something 80 billion-trillion miles in diameter just to hold an earth 1/10000000000000000000 the size of the universe. Engineers call that over kill. But since you like science so much you must be thrilled that evolutionary biologists have determined how all the forms of life came to be on earth. Aren’t ya? Or do you only accept science that fits your beliefs?

  • Mr Mark

    Vinny says it was “all too easy” to debunk the atheists.Simple beliefs for simple minds. Simple arguments that are simple to debunk. Some things never change.I’ve wasted time and bandwidth with others of his ilk on this blog, providing them with the overwhelming evidence to instantly debunk their claims. They never look at the evidence, they prefer to preach from a position of willful ignorance and practiced idiocy.Ergo, I won’t waste my time providing him with an education this time around. There’s not a lot to learn to see how silly and unstudied his arguments are, but he’ll be the last one to see that. That said, Vinnie is welcome to search the On Faith archives to read my responses to others in this regard. The information is all there if he wants an answer…but he really doesn’t want an answer. He knows that, and we all know that. In fact, he and we all knew that in advance of him posting his overly long messages that he doesn’t want a cogent answer to his error-ridden beliefs.Good luck Vinnie. I’ve reached the point of “why bother” with unteachables like yourself. Maybe someone else here has the patience, but I won’t waste any more time on ya.

  • dcMetroProfessional.com

    Regardless of whether we agree with Einstein or not, it is very clear there is Creator behind the Intelligent Design. With all of the technology advancement we have today, we are still unable to create a little ant. And if anyone is in doubt about the existence of God, ask yourself this basic question, do you know everything about life? If your answer is No, then maybe God is in that part of life you don’t know.There is a vacuum in every humans’ life and it can all be filled by God. God has put eternity in the heart of us all.

  • Fate

    John,My point about “proving it” is that Vinny is claiming a lot of things based on his own belief. If he can bring up his belief and use it to argue about what we see in this universe why can’t I? Vinny’s claims seem to have the power of dogma but none have ever been proven. That’s why it is called “belief” but Vinny does not understand that. So, I ask him to prove it all wasn’t created last Thursday. As expected he danced around the question and did not answer. He’s caught in his own delusion and uses whatever seems supportive to reinforce it. People like him are in government today talking about apacolyptic events in our time. Its not innocent belief, its dangerous delusion that needs to be challenged to put it back into its category of belief and get it out of what we all understand to be reality.

  • chasemonster

    Too bad for the rest of us that the lying thieving traitorous hypocrite Republican Party has turned Christianity into the biggest joke of a religion on the planet.

  • Fate

    dcMetroProfessional wrote:People used to say that man cannot explain the sun in the sky, the “firmament, the phases of the moon or the wind or fire. As science explained these things one after another there were few “proofs” of God’s existence left. Man has shown time after time that the claims of religious proof do not exist. When man succeeds in creating a primative life form sometime in the future and shows how evolution could lead that to evolve through time to be an ant, there will be other unknowns to claim proof of God. Maybe believers should just stop trying to prove God. God never asked that He be proved, just that you believe in Him. If you can’t do that without some evidence or proof, what sort of belief do you have?

  • JOZEVS

    Science has alot to say about religion and rteligion has very very little to say about Science:To Know, In order To Predict, in order to Control. This is the Scientific method and Zero religious method. Unless the “New-AGE” folks copy cat by disquise as I’ve seen many times by some bold conspirators of their Faith Based Initiativess and Systems.Ya Ya.

  • hvrds

    Nature is deterministic. On the level of human consciousness it is the power structure that defines reality. All scientific discoveries are simply history of the natural world that is being exposed. Man ‘the arrogant’ believes he is the creator and believes himself to be the master over nature. He somehow forgets that nature demands that he learn how to control his own nature that has undergone centuries of natural selection to get to where he is today. What man has learned from nature unfortunately he has used to dominate other species including other humans.Following the deterministic pattern of nature we still have a lot of history to discover if our own nature will permit it. That in itself is impossible for anyone to measure.

  • hvrds

    Nature is deterministic. On the level of human consciousness it is the power structure that defines reality. All scientific discoveries are simply history of the natural world that is being exposed. Man ‘the arrogant’ believes he is the creator and believes himself to be the master over nature. He somehow forgets that nature demands that he learn how to control his own nature that has undergone centuries of natural selection to get to where he is today. What man has learned from nature unfortunately he has used to dominate other species including other humans.Following the deterministic pattern of nature we still have a lot of history to discover if our own nature will permit it. That in itself is impossible for anyone to measure.

  • BobbyG

    VINNIE-Great stuff, bro’.Utterly circularly vapid, but fun. Particularly THE ITERATIVE ANGRY SHOUTING IN ALL-CAPS. Telling, that.’…a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.’

  • Ba’al

    Einstein was one of the towering figures of the 20th century, and he is intrinsically interesting, but many of these ideas are not particularly unique to him. Nearly every scientist feels small compared to the problems that we study; I feel that way all the time, and this feeling may be similar to what religious people sometimes feel — our brains are wired that way. (That is not to say that scientists cannot be religious, although most aren’t except in this one particular way). Einstein’s opinions on the historicity of Jesus are of no particular value in any discussion as to whether Jesus was in fact a historical figure. They are interesting from a biographical point of view, though. Einstein had a strongly artistic side to his personality, and I think he may have been reacting to the literature of the Bible. His opinions on free will are based on a deterministic “Laplacian” view of physics that some of his work had a role in overthrowing. It is curious that he thought that way. (Most physical scientists these days would say the universe cannot possibly be deterministic. There are some neuroscientists who argue that our free will exists but is nowhere near as conscious as it appears from introspection).For what it’s worth, it is possible to be an atheist and still be enthralled by the figure of the Nazarene. I am both of those things. I go further in suspecting that this enthralling figure is mostly fictional.

  • JoninCenTx

    Einstein is clear, very clear. He used one word that makes all the difference in the world in terms of meaning. The key phrase is: “whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly”He could have easily said “the beauty and sublimity of which reaches only directly.”By using “whose” instead of “of which” it’s clear he believed in an “entity” of some sort that was totally aware, and was the creator of all the universe.Many might try to pass this off as insignificant, but when you’re on Einstein’s level, you ARE aware of all the various meanings for each word you use and how their interaction in a statement create the meaning in context. In other words, being a genius, he was no grammatical slouch. If he had meant “of which” instead of “whose” he would have said “of which” and implied a “non-living Object/force” was behind it all. “whose” in his day was strictly used to refer to a human individual or group of humans. (though today some people slip up and use it for animals Etc.)Being such a genius, it’s doubtful he used that word just casually, especially since the topic was so profound.The choice of this word “whose” over “which” makes it clear he was NOT an athiest.He was not an agnostic either, for he does NOT doubt there is an “entity” there, but he stops short of common religion with an entity “whose” involvement includes our day to day lives.The entity, existance, cosmic consciousness Etc. if it does communicate with us re: itself does so indirectly – via the 4 forces perhaps.I wonder what Einstein would have thought of the recently discovered DNA Nebula (informal name I think) at the center of our galaxy.Recently astronomers photographed a “gas formation” near the center of the galaxy. The shape of this gas cloud would be familiar to anyone with basic cellular biology – It was a fantastic model of double strand DNA albeit on a galactic scale. .Of course the astronomers dismissed it as a natural phenomenon never seen before.Yes no doubt it was, but when you put this DNA insterstellar nebula in the context of Einstien’s belief, I think it makes sense to say the entity Einstein spoke about behind the mystery saying “I am here” to us all by manipulating the vast power of a galactic black hole to create a symbol that is probably ONLY relevant to life on Earth. It’s the right scale too, galactic black hole vs. our little selves. hmmmm.

  • E favorite

    Augustin Song – you say, “The old testament is a record of a particlar human tribal history.”Not really, it’s myth and poetry.Check out Finkelstein and Silberman’s “The Bible Unearthed” “The Bible Unearthed is a balanced, thoughtful, bold reconsideration of the historical period that produced the Hebrew Bible. The headline news in this book is easy to pick out: there is no evidence for the existence of Abraham, or any of the Patriarchs; ditto for Moses and the Exodus; and the same goes for the whole period of Judges and the united monarchy of David and Solomon.”And here’s a link to an article about how this information have been included since 2002 in the “Tree of Life” books found in all Conservative Jewish temples: Apologies to those who have seen this before. I think it is worth repeating. Song sounds like someone who might be open to new information

  • BCP

    How can one look at our universe, surrounded by mortality, and not believe in an immortal being? How can one definitively say that there is no proof of God, yet not offer up definitive proof that no God exists? Might there be proof of God, yet we are not smart or wise enough to discover it? There is not one scientific piece of evidence that proves there is an immortal being, but there is not a scientific piece of evidence that proves an immortal being does not exist. How does one explain how this universe, in which everything scientifically documented is mortal, was created?Who created the creator? How does one answer this? How does Einsten even come close to answering this? Einstein was not wise or smart enough to definitively answer these questions. What many people don’t understand is it goes beyond any kind of natural knowledge that we can ever comprehend. It becomes a matter of faith, and that is something that will never be scientifically proven.

  • John Conolley

    Fate:Yeah, I should have seen that. Jeeze, it’s been a hard week.

  • John conolley

    BCP:”not offer up definitive proof that no God exists?”Mr. Mark, I’m beginning to come around to your way of thinking. But one more try:Listen BCP, it’s a logical impossibility to prove a negative. The burden of proof is on the person who asserts the positive. (Have you never taken a logic course?) I don’t see God, I don’t hear God, I don’t feel, smell, taste, or infer God. Why should I believe he’s there? But you’ve already admitted there’s no proof he is, ergo, you offer no reason for me to believe, yet you want me to deny my mind and my senses and believe anyway.”How does one explain how this universe… was created?”Don’t you see the great big unwarranted assumption in that question? No, wait, I’ll explain: you assume that which you want to prove: that the universe was created. This is known as begging the question, or _petitio principii_. First, demonstrate that the universe was created, then we’ll worry about how.As for everything being mortal, that applies to things in the universe. You can’t (pay attention, people) take the concept of mortality and step outside, beside, behind, or prior to the universe. There’s nothing there. The universe is everything that is. There is nowhere else. Words like mortal don’t apply in the nowhere else. Those words are IN the universe, they’re subsets of the universe, leave them there.

  • John Conolley

    Vinny,I just can’t leave it alone. It’s like picking at a scab. Your evidences of order are terribly local and temporary. The perfectly balanced systems of earth are subject to incredibly chaotic swings. An ice age can easily come on it a couple of years. Some time in the next thousand years or so, the magnetic field of the earth will go intermittant as it “prepares” to switch polarity. During the periods (decades) when the field is off, we will have no Van Allen Belt to protect us from the radiation of the universe. The last time this happened was in the neighborhood of 700,000 years ago, before our kind existed. I wonder how we’ll get through it?Even the orbiting of the Earth is a local condition. How many planets in the galazy do you think swing in that narrow band where life is possible? Nobody knows, but if it’s more than one, I’ll be surprised. In any case, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t arranged for our convenience. You think it was? Hey, party hearty. It could be over any time. A star so far away we can’t even see it could go nova and destroy every trace of life on our beloved old world. Think about that the next time you want to preach about order.

  • Andrew

    No they don’t.

  • Andrew

    I was referring to Buddhists, not atheists.

  • Anonymous

    frank burns: Einstein was wrong about immortality; i am sure he’s well aware of it now!

  • mrmetrowest

    I wrote this before, buy Vinny must have misplaced his reading glasses and missed it. Cosmologists do believe that this universe in which we are currently wasting our time arguing with a nut like Vinny, did indeed have a beginning with an event called the ‘Big Bang’, which as I (being no physicist) understand it, was a point at which all the universe’s matter was shrunk into one super-dense point, at which time the whole thing blew up.*Cosmologists say nothing about what may have preceded that event, or where the matter came from that got shrunk into that super-dense point. Whatever evidence for what preceded the Big Bang would almost certainly have been destroyed by the event itself. Some cosmologists believe that our universe will begin collapsing back into itself, presumably setting up another point of singularity and another Bang. Thus, the Universe simply keeps repeating itself – without beginning or end. Sort of like what Vinny does with his arguments.* Ironically, this point of singularity followed by an explosion I consider possible evidence of Intelligent Design. The similarity between the Big Bang and what the Monty Python troupe would do when the hit a comedic impasse is rather too striking to ignore. This would explain why the existence of irony is so pervasive. Doubters may say that the Bang occurred billions of years before Python’s advent in the ’70′s, but with God, all things are possible.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    Dear Mr IsaacsonThank you for sharing with us Einstein’s view of God. Einstein’s view is particularly interesting because nobody is quite sure what he really believed. Atheists claim him for themselves, and pantheists do the same. Was Einstein an atheist, a pantheist or something else? One thing is certain; he was a physicist trying to explain God in his own way. Einstein’s statement that science without religion is lame and religion without science is blind is significant. Einstein never claimed that religion was his area of expertise, so one should not put an unfair burden on the man to give the final word on the nature of God, neither should one hold his opinion as the ultimate proof as to whether or not God exists. To Einstein, the mind of God was expressed in the creation of the universe and its laws. Although Einstein didn’t call it God, he did believe that “BEHIND all the discernible laws and connections, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable.” His religion was “veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend.” Einstein’s religiousness was the sensing that “behind anything that can be experienced there is something that our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly.” He believed in “a God who reveals himself in the lawful harmony of all that exists.” One could hardly call Einstein a pantheist if he believed in something BEHIND the laws, not the laws themselves; the beauty and sublimity that reaches us indirectly, not the beauty and sublimity itself without a source independent of it. That independent source of beauty and sublimity, the uncreated Principle which is the source of everything in the universe is what ordinary believers like me call God.Soja John Thaikattil

  • E favorite

    JONINCENTX: regarding the gas cloud you mention “familiar to anyone with basic cellular biology..a fantastic model of double strand DNA albeit on a galactic scale.”You think that’s God, right? If so, how do the stories of Moses, Abraham, Noah, Jesus, the resurrection, the apostles, etc, fit into this gas cloud? Any thoughts on why God visited Moses in human form thousands of years ago, but now is hanging out as a gas cloud, only discernible by a high powered human-made intergalactic camera?Also, I wonder why you trust that the astronomers have found this cloud, but don’t trust their assessment of it.VINNY – I, too am happy that readers can see the arguments of believers and non-believers in black and white, not just so they can assess the logic, but so readers can assess the level of Christian love that comes through in your writing.

  • Jai Khosla

    I am convinced that God IS US. All living beings and non-living matter and space extending into infinity is God.There is no Being out there planning or designing anything. It is only US.The God that I defined above is constantly taking different forms; that is what evolution is all about.The God that I defined above is both evil and good. That is why tsunamis killing innocent children happen. Part of this God, the humans inhabiting the coasts of India and Indonesia destroyed the mangrove forests. When the tsunamis came the forests were not there but the bare coast had houses and huts and the result was millions dead. What this suggests is that as GOD WE CAN IMPROVE THE GOD THAT IS US.The God that I defined above is constantly learning via the process of evolution and among other processes by the process of hypothesizing and experimenting to prove the hypothesis.Since “The God that I defined above” is US it is imperative that we improve this GOD WHICH IS US by improving the lives of all beings including that of non-sentient beings. Thus we reward those amongst us that benefit humankind and non-humankind and punish those amongst us that harm humankind and non-humankind.Any attempt to understand God in all ITS COMPLETENESS is futile. Just as the cog in a wheel cannot understand the workings of the whole wheel as individuals we will never understand God since we are a part of God.But we can make THE GOD THAT IS US better and more good and less evil. And that I think is happening. Life today is more humane and better than it was 200 years ago. Now if we could only make it better for all beings.

  • JAI KHOSLA

    Had there been a God out there he would have no need for sons and prophets to deliver us his message. he would have spoken to us by appearing in the sky or on the large screen during football games. He would not allowed mediocrities such as the Bible and the Koran to have been if they were to be his voice and words.Fortunately there is no such external God except in the imagination of some of us.GOD IS US.

  • Jim Carlson

    I’d have to say I really have no idea if there is a ‘god’ or not. I do know that when I look around me, I have to conclude that believing in a deity makes little practical difference in anyone’s life. The vast majority of people on the planet subscribe to some religion or other. Can anyone say with a straight face that humanity is somehow better off for it?

  • Anonymous II

    Whence did it all come? The answer to this question is, at least to this date, unknown.Someone as smart as Einstein says: “Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible laws and connections, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion. To that extent I am, in fact, religious.”Veneration and awe for all the beauty and harmony, as well as the fury and discord of the universe would not lead anyone to venerate a red Corvette except in a temporal materialistic sense, for a red Corvette is but a thing created by using all the laws of nature and physics and its red color, but a cover for a colorless metal or fiberglass shell.The age-old question is answered by some with the statement (something similar to Einstein’s) that there is a “FORCE” – and inexplicable force – behind it.Others have tried to answer by putting a face or a word or a series of words (called books) ostensibly written by or at the direction of the CREATOR.Vinny is in the latter category. It is his belief. There is no point in asking him to explain the illogic that non-believers see in his belief, because part of faith and belief is to accept without question.If one thinks of Christianity as the General Motors of one religion, then some Christians are red Corvettes, some are Hummers, some are merely Chevrolets and some extinct branches are Oldsmobiles. One might then say that Hindus are Toyota Motor Company – we’d have to say Brahmins are Rolls Royces or Mercedes Benzes, Buddhists are Honda, Mormons are what? Hyundais?, Muslims are Kias, etc.The point is that many different people have put a different face on that inexplicable FORCE.Vinny does not choose to answer the obvious question – if God created it all, and that God is revealed by the Bible, why has that God allowed so many other Gods to be created in the minds of the rest of the world that he created?It is certainly plausible and more logical than anything Vinny writes to say that there was indeed a FORCE before the Big Bang that from some exercise of Intelligent Design caused the BB to come about. Not all exercises by Intelligent people produce Intelligent RESULTS, so if there were such an Intelligent Designer, obviously he/she/it produced some wacky resutls including people like Vinny (devoid of ability to see logic beyond his faith which is fine) and people like me (who feel compelled to try to reason with people like Vinny). We are all victims of this so-called Intelligent Design.What none of all this proves is that the Bible is the word of God or that the people who wrote the Bible — at least it is documented that PEOPLE wrote it and claimed it to be the word of God — have identified the CREATOR. Even the Bible refers generically to GOD and if one substitutes Einstein’s FORCE what’s the difference?The difference is in the time element.Christians choose to believe that Jesus was the son of God and also that Jesus is God. If so, “God” chose appear some 2000 years ago to fulfill a prior promise to show up and has yet to keep a promise to show up yet again. But, believing that is part of faith.Bottom line: Vinny if you believe what you write, that is your prerogative and good luck to you. I hope it brings you solace and comfort.In other words, what you choose to call GOD is your business and I would not ask you to change it or to accept what I call GOD in substitution for your beliefs or to accept that there is no GOD in substitution for your beliefs.It always amazes me that people who profess to believe so deeply cannot leave it alone and spend their time believing instead of writing insulting commentary about those who don’t share their beliefs.

  • Rick Pauling

    Jai KhoslaThank you very much for a very precise and accurate definition of God. I have the same concept of God but have never been able to define it as clearly as you have. I hope others who read Jai Khosla’s post will pick up on it. It is up to all of us to improve this world and make it better for the generations that are yet to come.Rick

  • Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada

    Jai Khosla,You write ” Had there been a God out there he would have no need for sons and prophets to deliver us his message. He would have spoken to us by appearing in the sky or on the large screen during football games. He would not allowed mediocrities such as the Bible and the Koran to have been if they were to be his voice and words.”Mediocrities such as the Bible and the Koran.You are very sick! Get psychiatric treatment.You are incapable of the reasoning of my six-year old grandson. My grandson asks : Who tells him that God needed sons and prophets to deliver his message. Maybe God WANTED to. Is Mr. Khosla trying to wag his finger in the face of God? My grandson further asks : “Why does Mr. Khosla assume that God is ‘out there’?”In my language, I tell you that the idea of an anthropomorphic god is wrong, totally wrong. But who says that the God of the Bible and the Holy Quran is anthropomorphic? Have you ever read the whole Bible and the whole Holy Quran in the original Arabic and in translation?It is sad that you r god is hatred. So, I leave you to putrefy in your hated.

  • Jai Khosla

    I have read the Koran in many versions and translations and used one with translitteration. I have read all the hadiths and the Sirat Rasulallah. The Sirat reveals Muhammad as a thief. a murderer and a pedophile, not to forget a slave owner. If this is the best God could do in choosing his “last” then God help us.

  • jeff

    Science is all about order and the laws of nature. But this order came from somewhere. Just as each of us creates order in whatever sphere of influence we occupy, so did God create order that begins with the very fundamentals of the atom. Consciousness drives the universe and not the other way around. Matter takes its directives from the Divine and carries them out flawlessly. Einstein is a true genius when it concerns the properties of matter, but that does not mean he is a genius at understanding consciousness.

  • Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada

    Jai Khosla,Your psychtric problem is getting worse, with your fury now (at 2:34 p.m.) directed only against Islam’s prophet instead of against both the Bible and the Koran as you did at 10:51 a.m.I can already hear the ambulance with the psychiatric paramedics coming to get you!

  • Jai Khosla

    MohamedI am not angry at anybody. I used Islam to prove my point that if there is a God and he is a great God then he would not have produced a mediocrity such as the Koran. Muhammad was a great man who robbed, stole, lied, abused children sexually and owned slaves but used ruthless violence and lies told lies about being a prophet to found an Arab kingdom and unite the Arabs. is Islam is true then it proves my point that God is US because the Koran is a product of human minds and surprisingly an extremely mediocre book given that it borrowed heavily from the OT rather than the NT.

  • Mr Mark

    jeff writes:”Science is all about order and the laws of nature.”That statement is incredibly silly and wrong. To make that the basis of your further statements is the reason your further statements are also wrong and…sort of infantile.Funny – most religionists like to argue that it’s impossible that our well-ordered world sprang from the randomness and chaos proposed by science. You take the opposite tact, ie: that science is all about order.In fact, both order (selection) and chaos (randomness) are present in the scientific explanation of evolution and speciation. I realize that’s not the either/or clarity that’s demanded by the cheap absolutism of religion, but it is what it is. The well-ordered world we live in is, in fact, a very chaotic place.BTW – when you state that, “God create(d) order that begins with the very fundamentals of the atom,” I assume you’re allowing that the fundamentals of atomic and sub-atomic realities that are the balliwick of quantum theory came from somewhere besides god. :)

  • brian mcc, the arctic

    A friend introduced me to another as a’white-lighter’, an NDE survivor. Twice; the 1st was @ the age of 20, electricity through the heart, an industrial accident, the 2nd was cancer surgery. 30 years on from the 1st and most profound has left the imprint of a vision and a curse. The white light, and since then the material world holds no wisdom. ‘It is not your time yet, go back now…’

  • Mohamed MALLECK, Swift Current, Canada

    Jai Khosla,You won’t get ME to say I’ll let God judge you.Instead, I’ll let you yourself judge what you have written when you recover your senses.

  • Ann O.

    Hi, Maurie,Thanks for the Cleland reference. Unfortunately my dim old eyes can’t read the pdf format very well and zooming it just makes it fade. Sigh. But I did manage the abstract == very interesting. I hope to get to print it out one day.Ann O.

  • Mr Mark

    “HOW DOES LIFE ARISE FROM LIFELESS MATTER? Please answer.It was first duplicated in a scientific setting in 1953. “So please tell us then, just HOW does life arise from dead, lifeless matter?”Do a search on “Miller-Urey,” or “Joan Oro,” or “Wollman MacNevin.”Then, do us all a favor and quit the ill-informed childish bravado.

  • Richard

    jeff:Amazing. How do you know, who let you know that matters takes ist directive from the Divine? How can you put that out as a statement of thruth? You believe that, but nothing more. So it is your personal opinion and is nothing that could be verified or even proven. It’s your personal truth and not valid for any discourse in trying to solve theses mysteries.You religious folks make all these statements (Dogma) and then leave the stage with bravado.

  • Thijs

    In my opinion i really dont c the point in tryin 2 argue. Discussing is what i love doing, but if it gets 2 the point where it bcomes an argument, then all it becomes is who is a better arguer and even then is does not mean that u r right. that being said, these r my personal opinions and u dont have 2 necessarily agree w/ what i write here. in the end, all that it comes down to is our search for the ultimate truth. just a thought here: i remember from my high school philosophy class learning about fallacies, there is one specific fallacy that is called: appeal to authority, which means a misuse of authority, because the person is not an expert on the subject. when discussing these sorts of things, it would be better to discuss a viewpoint of a religious leader who is an expert on the matter and who would have a better insight, such as a Muslim, Jewish, or Christian leader. everyone of us has a skewed viewpoint of belief in God or a God for that matter, because of our experiences we have had in the past as do i. but taking a viewpoint of a scientist, who has not studied this in depth and looked at it objectively from all sides of the spectrum theologically should be made irrelevant. what would be better is presenting several views from various perspectives and then taking the discussion from there.

  • John Conolley

    Vinny:1: If a supreme Creator is NOT responsible for all of the amazing, complex intricate and purposeful systems and features surrounding us today, then HOW DID THESE SYSTEMS AND FEATURES GET HERE?2: And, if not from a living Creator, HOW DOES LIFE ARISE FROM LIFELESS MATTER? Please answer.1: I don’t know.2: I don’t know.You don’t know either. Your god thesis is a great big case of “don’t know.” When did God do this? Don’t know. How did God do this? Don’t know. Why did God do this? Don’t know. What are the characteristics of God? Don’t know. Where was God before the universe existed? Don’t know.I can admit I don’t know. You bury your not knowing in a nebulous concept that can’t be proven, can’t be tested, can’t be defined, can’t be localized, can’t be seen, can’t be… anything.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    John Connolleywrote, “1. I don’t know. 2. I don’t know.”That of course is THE answer, for HIM, and for other atheists. But for believers until such time the atheists can come with an answer that is better and more logical than “I don’t know,” God is THE answer, NOT as filling in the gap sort of way. From time immemorial human beings have been conscious of something beyond the five senses of the created universe. They have called this presence God, and worshipped it in different ways using different names. Thousands have dedicated their whole lives in search of the presence they felt brooding over the universe. Religions were born that way, because of people who felt a great connection to that presence beyond the created universe. Theology is a full fledged academic discipline (it used to be known as the queen of the sciences at one time!), not a subject studied by simpletons; many scientists have been believers and still are (eg Francis Collins). Science studies and explains the universe God created. The scientific enquiry and method is a tool. One does not study the stars with an electron microscope nor the DNA with a Hubble telescope. God is perceived in ways different to the methods used in studying the physical properties of the universe.There was an interesting article in the New York Times on 4 March 2007 titled, “Darwin’s God.” It has been suggested that Scott Atran’s book, “In Gods we Trust,” is a good read (I haven’t read it though).The debate, “God exists – no He doesn’t” can last until the end of time, because atheists insist that proof of God must be delivered in a test tube. So I won’t join it. Just my two cents worth.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    God is the FIRST CAUSE, the UNCREATED PRINCIPLE, the CREATOR of time, space and forms, the ALPHA AND THE OMEGA, THE ETERNAL BEING OR FORCE, who was before time, space and forms existed, and will continue after time, space and forms as we know them come to an end.

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Mark:”do us all a favor and quit the ill-informed childish bravado”I like reading Vinny’s posts. He’s made a touchdown -let him do a little dance.

  • Mikki

    4/29/07Hi, Brothers & Sisters,I glanced thru your comments above- I do not see any input on my earlier view- therefore, permit me to add more…This is an e-mail I sent to Mr.Dawkins, an Atheist Author who spoke on NPR recently-Dear Mr.Dawkins: Here, are my two-simple Qs-1. I thought I heard you say- there is no compatibility between Religion & Science- Is that correct ? Do you mean Jewish-Christian-Muslim (because, the so called Hindu is not a Religion- it is a way of living doing ‘Duty’ to “Brahman” The Creator-Destroyer) ? If so, I agree with you, although ‘Jesus’ of Christians & ‘Allah’ of Muslims indirectly link to Brahman! How ? We know Muslim’s god is Allah. ‘Siva’ became Allah to Muslims- Siva is the destructive Power of Brahman. The so called Mecca-Masque, supposed to have been founded by Bible’s Abraham (who did worship Siva in the form of ‘Rock’), is a Siva-Temple, even to-day. Likewise, the Vatican used to be a ‘Siva’ Temple until our Perverted Brothers, Jews, and Constantine of Rome (in 350AD) decided to name it ‘Jesus’ Church (in fact, the name Jesus, understood to be that of ‘Sun-god’- a Deity under ‘Veda’). Siva & Vishnu represent Powers of Brahman [Vishnu Creates during Day-time and Siva Destroys during Night-time: Day-Night in Brahman’s Calendar is Millions of years in Man’s calendar]. I am sure, you read about all this, although you may not have understood the deeper message, in all this!2. Have you read ‘Bhagavad-Gita’ ? I assume you did; but, you may not have understood, like many of us ! If you tried to understand it, you could have seen Brahman’s (God’s) Hand is “Everywhere” to find that “We, all living entities, including Sun, Earth, you and I etc…are Part of Brahman”- Furthermore, if we understand Science, as it is being discovered, now- we find that ‘The Mantras’ in Bhagavad-Gita (which came from “Vedas”) are being Proven by Science- actually, all creatures on the Earth are no more than ‘Proteins’ in Brahman’s Cell which are Created to do a Duty- just like the proteins in our cells which are created to perform a duty- to make us live or die ! So, the “free will(ers)” could Kill the God ? But, God knew when to thru a Pill to get ride of the Cancer of ‘free will(ers)’: That’s The End ! Please read, and understand, Our Ancient’s Writings- The Truth ! Mikki

  • Anonymous

    Anon writes:”I like reading Vinny’s posts. He’s made a touchdown -let him do a little dance.”Vinny made a touchdown the way Corrigan flew to Long Beach…

  • Mr Mark

    Mikki writes:”Please read, and understand, Our Ancient’s Writings- The Truth !”As if something being old gives religion truth or gravitas. What is this obsession with Bronze Age ideas? Religionists don’t run the rest of their lives like they’re living in the Bronze Age, but when it comes to philosophies and – too often – the sciences, they run to the “ancient books” for guidance. If you like the Bronze Age so much, then give up your car and buy a mule for yourself.The other one I like from religionists are the “near death experiences” where they have a vision of god. Right – you sustain a major injury or whatever, and your brain begins shutting down its higher functions in an effort to keep the most-basic brain functions going so you’ll live…and at this point, when your brain is struggling to stay alive and is operating in its least-cogent mode, god suddenly reveals himself.Amazing that people can still claim that the one thing in the world for which there is no evidence – god – is the one “truth” they base their lives upon.

  • Anonymous II

    Vinny asks:1: If a supreme Creator is NOT responsible for all of the amazing, complex intricate and purposeful systems and features surrounding us today, then HOW DID THESE SYSTEMS AND FEATURES GET HERE?2: And, if not from a living Creator, HOW DOES LIFE ARISE FROM LIFELESS MATTER? Please answer.Someone responded that it was done in 1953 and someone else with a simple “I do not know” and “neither do you.”I have another response:Vinny: What evidence do you have that the CREATOR you claim, i.e., the one mentioned in the Bible is the one responsible for creation? What evidence do you have that those who wrote the words down and claimed them to be the words of God, knew what they were saying or told the truth? Do you know if one of them was Dick Cheney’s ancestor? Was falsifying intelligence already an art form when the Bible was written?Just evidence please.If you are willing to say you BELIEVE, that’s fine, but it is different from EVIDENCE. I don’t dispute your right to believe, but I do dispute your right to proclaim that what you have is EVIDENCE while criticizing what others accept on more or less varying degrees of proof as being unworthy because it is not, in your mind, evidence.Have a good life.

  • Mr Mark

    Mikki -Truth doesn’t come from a book, most especially from the racist, bigotted and idiotic “ancient books” that you and so many venerate. Our sense of morals was hard-wired into us through the evolutionary process, long before man invented religion and long before man considered the possibilities of the supernatural. The same sense of human community and moral behavior is observable in the lower species who do not contemplate the supernatural and who have no concept whatsoever of god, and so it was for mankind in pre-history.Einstein was self-learned? In what world do you live? He graduated from a very prestigious college (Student of mathematics at the ETH from 1896 to 1900 and Professor of theoretical physics at the ETH from 1912 to 1916, Zürich). NB to Miki: before making such broad statements, at least check Wikipedia.As long as you’re quoting Einstein, I offer the following quote from Einstein’s later life (sans ellipses):”It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”Seems like Mikki is one of those who is STILL “systematically” repeating a lie about Einstein.As far as my “not [being] there yet” – there is no “there” there if that there is god. Sorry to tell you but your god is all in your mind.And far as “truth” being eternal – if I take you at your word, then the overwhelming evidence proves that the ancient books are NOT true. Indeed, they get just about everything wrong when it comes to the way the world and the cosmos operates, and send at best a mixed message when it comes to morals. The Biblical god would flunk out of middle-school science while his moral code would land him in a war crimes tribunal. I give the Biblical god an “F” in explaining the natural world and a “D” in moral clarity. You call it truth, I call it Bronze Aged-idiocy. What a shame that you haven’t the decency or self-esteem to embrace the greater moral and factual clarity of your OWN age, but instead, set your reason and morals aside to follow an incomplete, disproven and destructive worldview that was a bad deal when it was operative. How sad that you embrace god-directed genocide, slavery and overt racism as being “truth,” when the philosophies of your own age offer hope backed by genuine knowledge and insights (as opposed to religion’s myths).

  • John Conolley

    Soja:Very well. When did God create the universe? How did God create the universe? Why did God create the universe? What are the characteristics of God? Where was God before the universe existed? Any positive information at all? (Note: “Uncreated” and “eternal” (endless) are negative characteristics.)

  • John Conolley

    Anyone?

  • John Conolley

    Nothing solid, then. Anyone else?

  • John Conolley

    Sorry, I wrote the above remark between your two posts.Calculating the big bang: an incredible case of over-extrapolation. They’ve noticed that local stars seem to be moving apart, so they’ve extrapolated that back billions of years. I don’t see how any mathematician lets them get away with it.”Youll have to ask God:” In other words, don’t know.Universe created out of love: I didn’t believe that when I was seven, and the Baltimore Catechism taught, “He made me because he loves me.” At seven, I could see there was a problem with the time line there.”Those who have experienced God have always found it impossible to find the words…” That’s “Don’t know.””Where he is now.” Where’s that? Don’t know.”God created scientists.” Petitio principii.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    And BTW John, the Buddhists describe eternal reality in negative terms. In Sanskrit it is expressed as, “neti, neti,” meaning, “not this, not this.” Imagine a two year old who has visited the moon trying to describe it. And you try to find out what is on the child’s mind by describing things on earth, and ask the child, is the moon “like this, like this?” And the child replies, “Neti, neti!”

  • John Conolley

    Which comes down to “don’t know.” I think it was George Smith who said, “Scratch a Christian, find an agnostic.”

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    JohnYou aren’t closer to an answer than “I don’t know” either, and your “I don’t know” makes less sense than the “I don’t understand the mind of God” of a believer. Believers believe in the logic of a beginning. No scientific advancement happens by chance. It is first born as an idea in the mind of a scientist. The mind of a scientist is far greater than his creation. Similarly the universe was first born as an idea in the mind of someone we call God, and the mind of God is far greater than the minds He created.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    John If you say the two year old who is unable to describe the moon in terms you understand is “proof” the child knows nothing about the moon and for that reason the moon doesn’t exist as far as you are concerned, oh well…

  • John Conolley

    Let’s not reify the anology. We aren’t talking about the moon, we’re talking about God.’your “I don’t know” makes less sense than the “I don’t understand the mind of God” of a believer.’My “I don’t know” A: is admitted up front, and B: leaves room to find out somthing.Your “I don’t know” had to be wrenched out of you, and it leaves you dead in the water, because you’ll never find out anything about the mind of God.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    Mr MarkI suggest you read the article in New York Times “Darwin’s God” (4 March 2007) before jumping into conclusions about God of the gaps. Believers DON’T believe in God of the gaps. It has been suggested that belief in God is a DEFAULT position of the brain because it was created that way! Saint Augustine wrote to the effect, “Our hearts were made for Thee O Lord, and our hearts are restless, unless they find its rest in you.” Atheism takes a lot of work, the conscious mind shutting off the default position perhaps unwittingly. What has science proved Mark? Is the fact that science is able to explain the physical universe more and more the proof that it was not created or does not have a creator? C’mon Mark, when I said that the debate, “God exists – no He doesn’t” could go on forever, I was anything but discrediting the smartness of the atheist! No one is suffering anything here as far as I can see. No one is changing sides as a result of any arguments presented by any side, so anyone who tries is going to be terribly disappointed. You wrote (referring to Vinny’s posts), “Simple beliefs for simple minds. Simple arguments that are simple to debunk. They never look at the evidence, they prefer to preach from a position of willful ignorance and practiced idiocy… There’s not a lot to learn to see how silly and unstudied his arguments are, but he’ll be the last one to see that… I’ve reached the point of “why bother” with unteachables like yourself.” (Posted 27 April 2007 9:53 PM) That was definitely no remark from someone who thinks he is not smart!BTW Mr Mark, I live in Australia. I don’t get to watch GWB that often.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    JohnI had said upfront that I am a believer that does not read Scripture like a science treatise or history textbook, and sees a place for science, the scientist being one who explains the universe God created. To a believer God is real, as real as the moon or the stars that human beings know nothing about. The fact that we don’t understand God fully is not the same thing as saying that God doesn’t exist.

  • Mikki

    4/30/07Hi, Brothers & Sisters: See if this makes any sense to us, all ?4/29/07Dear Prof: Trinkaus: I am pleased to know of your work- see the News item below. I have been advising German Embassy on my findings regarding Neanderthals- As I have been saying all along- ‘We’ are the Neanderthals- also, known as ‘Dravida’ in “Bharat” (present India-E.Africa: rest of their Original land sunk into Sea of India some 75,000 years ago)- What did they speak ? Spoke Dravida- which can be traced to ‘Brahmi’ script of India-Indonesia-Ethiopia: later (after last destruction)- that split into ‘Tamil-Malayalam-Kannada-Telugu’ and ‘Sanskrit’- the new breed that spread into the West-North (Asia-Europe) primarily spoke Sanskrit (that’s why all languages from Afghan to Greece to Russo-Europe, including English are rooted in Sanskrit)- thus, Abraham’s Temple (Mecca-Masque) and Paganu-Temple (Vatican- seat of Pope) used to be ‘Siva-Temples’ (in fact, Mecca is still a Siva-Temple, although Muslims renamed it as ‘Allah’ to confuse us, like the Jews/Constantine renamed Siva-Temple in Rome as Vatican, to confuse all. That’s how we managed to create the present Chaos ! I hope future will be better.Mikki Modern Man, Neanderthals Seen as Kindred SpiritsBy Marc KaufmanResearchers have long debated what happened when the indigenous Neanderthals of Europe met “modern humans” arriving from Africa starting some 40,000 years ago. The end result was the disappearance of the Neanderthals, but what happened during the roughly 10,000 years that the two human species shared a land?A new review of the fossil record from that period has come up with a provocative conclusion: The two groups saw each other as kindred spirits and, when conditions were right, they mated.How often this happened will never be known, but paleoanthropologist Erik Trinkaus says it probably occurred more often than is generally imagined.In his latest work, published last week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Trinkaus, of Washington University in St. Louis, analyzed prehistoric fossil remains from various parts of Europe. He concluded that a significant number have attributes associated with both Neanderthals and the modern humans who replaced them.”Given the data we now have, it would be highly improbable to argue there is no Neanderthal contribution to the early European population that came out of Africa,” Trinkaus said. “I believe there was continuous breeding between the two for some period of time.”Both groups would seem to us dirty and smelly but, cleaned up, we would understand both to be human. There’s good reason to think that they did as well.”The conclusion, one of the strongest to date in this debate, remains controversial, and it has potentially broad implications. It suggests, for instance, that humans today should still have some Neanderthal genes. It also means that the unanswered question of why the Neanderthals died out is even more puzzling — because under this scenario they were quite capable of living successfully alongside the more modern newcomers.But Trinkaus says the fossil record is the best information available, and it increasingly points to an “admixture” theory — that Neanderthals who had lived in Europe for about 400,000 years shared the land and, to some extent, their genes with the migrants from the south who began arriving 40,000 years ago.As with all theories regarding the Neanderthals, there are problems with the one Trinkaus and others are advancing. So far, analysis of modern humans’ DNA has turned up no identifiable Neanderthal genetic material. Instead, it points to a common East African male ancestor from about 100,000 years ago and a common East African female from 170, 000 years ago. Because the sampling remains limited, evolutionary geneticists generally do not say their findings settle the matter — although an ongoing mapping of the Neanderthal genome by European researchers may change the equation.Chris Stringer, a top paleontology researcher at the Natural History Museum in London, said the genetic evidence has kept him “on the fence” regarding Trinkaus’s theory of more widespread interbreeding. He said Neanderthals and modern humans from Africa would be considered distinct “homo” species, making interbreeding less likely but not impossible. Under stressed conditions, he said, zebras and horses will mate, as will lions and tigers, and so related humans might have done the same.But one genetic trait of modern Europeans makes him doubt there was any major Neanderthal input — the fact that most humans today are genetically ill-adapted to cold weather. Only some native Indian populations, as well as people in the north of Eurasia and aborigines in Australia (who experience deep cold at night), have good genetic defenses to cold. Since Neanderthals lived in Europe for hundreds of thousands of years, through ice ages and frigid conditions, they would have become genetically suited to such conditions, Stringer said. The fact that Europeans are not, he added, suggests that any Neanderthal contribution to their makeup is limited.Although Neanderthals live in the public imagination as hulking and slow-witted “Alley Oops,” Trinkaus and others say there is no reason to believe they were any less intelligent than the newly arrived “modern humans.” Neanderthals were stockier and had larger brows, sharper teeth and more jutting jaws, but their brain capacity appears to have been no different than that of the newcomers.One geneticist, Bruce T. Lahn of the University of Chicago, has even proposed that Neanderthals may have provided genetic material that helped in human brain development. Lahn has been studying such genes, in particular a gene called microcephalin. A mutation of that gene can cause microcephaly, which leaves a child with a very small head and serious neurological problems.Lahn’s studies of the gene indicated that a new and more powerful version of the gene arose in modern humans about 40,000 years ago. In a paper last year, he concluded that the two microcephalin genes are so different that they must have diverged about 1 million years ago, around the time of the split between those that would become Neanderthals and the homo sapiens destined to become modern humans.Lahn’s explanation of the information: The newer and better version of the gene evolved in a separate species — most likely Neanderthals — and then entered the gene pool of modern humans through interbreeding around the time that modern humans reached Europe.If Neanderthals were in some ways better suited for life in a sometimes very cold Europe, and if they contained brain capacity that may have been quite similar to that of modern humans, why did they die out?Trinkaus says that while there is no evidence that they were any less intelligent or capable than the newcomers, they seem to have had a less evolved social structure and less ability to develop new technologies. As the number of migrants from the south increased, he said, Neanderthals were to some extent absorbed into the arriving population and to some extent were outcompeted for resources.By the time the Neanderthals were dying about 30,000 years ago, the fossil record suggests that about 10 to 20 percent of the genetic material in European humans was from Neanderthals, he says.Some, perhaps most, of that genetic material was selected out of the human genome in ensuing generations, but Trinkaus says there probably remains some Neanderthal in many of us.

  • E favorite

    Hi, Vinny – your “evidence” is way off.Here’s the funniest thing you mention: “Tacitus affirms that the founder of Christianity, a man he calls Chrestus (a common misspelling of Christ, which was Jesus’ surname)”Christ was NOT Jesus’ surname. It’s the Hebrew word for “messiah” or “savior.” That’s pretty basic information. Did you think Jesus’ parents were Mary and Joseph Christ?Also, Jesus’ was not the founder of Christianity – Paul spread the word about Jesus, then Emperor Constantine of Rome legalized Christianity 3 centuries later. Jesus died (and ascended – if you believe it) long before Christianity got off the ground.Also, it’s common knowledge that the earliest Gospel was Mark – written in the late 60′s at the earliest.Did you notice that the historians you mention were born after Jesus died? So they were writing hearsay. The numerous historians alive during Jesus’ time didn’t mention him at all. You’d think all those miracles he was performing would have attracted some attention at the time.PS – Vinny – your Christian love isn’t shining through so much. Personally, I think you and other Christians are better off sticking to faith. Evidence doesn’t work so well.

  • E Favorite

    Mikki – You say,” I only quoted from- ‘Walter Isaacson, the CEO of the Aspen Institute, in his new book, “Einstein: His Life and Universe’Right – and leaving out a lot of what he said in that quote. I read it just last Friday, leafing through Isaacson’s new book at the book store.The WHOLE QUOTE was there — not the one you quoted here with the essence removed. Did you remove those parts yourself, or did you find the quote somewhere with that already done? Whoever did that originally was trying to deceive. I’d avoid that source in the future, if I were you –it makes you look bad — and it’s so easy to check.

  • Deb

    E Favorite wrote:”Also, Jesus’ was not the founder of Christianity – Paul spread the word about Jesus, then Emperor Constantine of Rome legalized Christianity 3 centuries later. Jesus died (and ascended – if you believe it) long before Christianity got off the ground.”While there really wasn’t a “founder” of Christianity so to speak, the term “Christian” was used as early as the book of Acts biblically, and by 64 AD by Nero non-Biblically. Clearly, from the very beginning, followers of Jesus were being referred to as Christians.

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Mark:What in the world does that prove? That someone can make a bunch of guesses about what the earth MIGHT have been like billions of years ago, and what MIGHT have taken place to produce SOME of the things necessary within living organisms? It PROVES nothing, except that if you set up your criteria just right, you can make any experiment work for you.

  • Mr Mark

    Anonymous wrote:”What in the world does that prove?”It proves that the building blocks for biological evolution can arise from non-organic materials, ie: that life CAN arise from non-life. Scientific experiments set out to prove hypotheses. They offer insight into the way things MIGHT have happened by proving that the hypotheses is valid. The Miller-Urey experiments proved that with the right mix of conditions, non-biological materials can be transformed into biological precursors which could then develop into biological life. Scientists look for possible explanations; religionists look for absolutes. YOU are the ones who haven’t the courage to allow for revision and expansion of received wisom, not the scientists.My response was to your fellow scientific illiterate Vinnie who thinks that because HE doesn’t know that something has been proven as an explanation over 50 years ago that it never happened.”It PROVES nothing, except that if you set up your criteria just right, you can make any experiment work for you.”????? How lame of a statement is that? You have no understanding of the scientific method. Every VALID experiment sets controls to prove or disprove a hypothesis. And what do you mean by “criteria” in this instance? Are you suggesting that I can posit criteria in an experiment that would cause a ball dropped from 5 feet to fly upward, sprout wings and sing like a bird?Typical from a religionist. You’re the ones who throw god into any experiment as a constant to explain how things work.I think that everyone on the blog realizes that it isn’t the scientists who are proposing that life started when god took a handful of dust and said, “zap! you’re a man. Poof! You’re an elephant.” The people proposing that are the scientifically illiterate Bronze-agers who wrote the Bible and their modern-day adherents. It’s not up to science to prove the idiotic and unprovable Biblical account of creation (unprovable because it didn’t happen that way). It’s up to scientists to prove VIABLE explanations for the origins and evolution of life.The more I read the anti-science responses on this blog, the more convinced I am that there is an absolute crisis in critical & rational thinking in this country.

  • E Favorite

    Sorry, Deb – what you say isn’t so. “Clearly, from the very beginning, followers of Jesus were being referred to as Christians.”Nero was 30 years later — and it’s not certain he used the term “Christians” either. The authenticity of the passages you mention in Acts, also decades after Jesus’ death, is questioned.What’s the big deal, anyhow? Obviously the term “Christians” was used eventually. Seems like a minor issue and like I said – evidence seems to be Christian’s weak point – maybe best to avoid it. In matters of religion, it seems like faith fills in nicely whenever proof trips you up.What about Vinnie’s assertion that Jesus’ last name is Christ? I notice you didn’t comment on that.Also, any comments on Mikki’s truncated Einstein quote?Anon: When you say “if you set up your criteria just right, you can make any experiment work for you.” I wonder if you would apply that to religious belief too – for instance, if you say, I know there’s a God because it says so in the Bible and everything that’s in the bible is true, so there must be a God.

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Mark:Just because someone can say “look, I did this and I think this is how it happened” doesn’t mean it happened that way. Scientists see certain formations on Mars and say “look, the way these valleys are formed prove that there was once water on Mars.” It proves nothing of the sort. Maybe there was once some other substance that flowed like water that scientists have never seen before. Oh, and we scientists know what caused all of the dinosaurs to die (well, not all of them exactly, right? some of them morphed into birds and other things.), and we know how the universe was created, and how all life forms on earth were created, but we haven’t quite figured out that AIDS or cancer thing yet; those are real toughies.Scientists who can’t prove things are just regular people who get us to buy into their fantasies because of their advanced degrees. When they can come up with proof; when they can cure things, create things, explain things documented by verifiable proof, then they are geniuses. Until then they are just good guessers.

  • another anon

    Sorry Mr. Mark:The evidence you are arguing has too many “ifs and coulds” in it. You are standing on shaky ground.

  • Mr Mark

    Anonymous:”Just because someone can say “look, I did this and I think this is how it happened” doesn’t mean it happened that way.”Exactly. Now you’re thinking like a scientist.”Scientists see certain formations on Mars and say “look, the way these valleys are formed prove that there was once water on Mars.” It proves nothing of the sort. Maybe there was once some other substance that flowed like water that scientists have never seen before.”You are incorrect. Scientists have never said that valleys on Mars are PROOF that water existed on Mars. They have ALWAYS said that is one possibility. That’s why scientists are still spending billions of dollars trying to disprove or prove the HYPOTHESIS that there was once water on Mars. YOU are putting words in scientists’ mouths.”Oh, and we scientists know what caused all of the dinosaurs to die (well, not all of them exactly, right? some of them morphed into birds and other things.), and we know how the universe was created, and how all life forms on earth were created, but we haven’t quite figured out that AIDS or cancer thing yet; those are real toughies.”More vapid misrepresentations of things that scientists have never said. Read a book.”Scientists who can’t prove things are just regular people who get us to buy into their fantasies because of their advanced degrees. When they can come up with proof; when they can cure things, create things, explain things documented by verifiable proof, then they are geniuses. Until then they are just good guessers.”Total unadulterated stupidity passing as an inane opinion. “Just regular people…with advanced degrees.” My, how we hate our intellectual superiors.No amount of proof will convince you that your magical fairy isn’t running the cosmos.

  • Deb

    E Favorite:Why do you say the quote from Acts is questioned? I’ve never heard that this was questioned before…I wasn’t trying to stick up for Vinnie. I think he was much too aggressive with his posts for my taste. I was just pointing out something I felt like commenting on. I have also seen the Nero reference quoted in a number of places, and that was only 30 years later.As for Vinnie’s remark about the name “Christ”, I didn’t comment on it because it was ridiculous. I usually don’t try to post things to make people look bad or dumb, but I will post in defense of faith at times if I see something posted that I don’t agree with or I think is wrong.As for Mikki’s quote, she was trying to prove her point by piecing things together, but I still don’t believe it points to Einstein being religious in the sense that we are speaking of here. I believe I had this discussion earlier in the thread with Henry James, where Einstein’s “religion” was his avid love for science and research, and “knowing the unknown”. He practiced these “religiously”.

  • Mr Mark

    another anon wrote:”The evidence you are arguing has too many “ifs and coulds” in it. You are standing on shaky ground.”This from a religionist who has a shred of evidence to prove that god exists. Amazing.And I’m not staqnding on shaky ground. You’re saying that whole of the biological sciences are base on shaky ground, including cures to diseases.You also hate the intellect. Pathetic.

  • E favorite

    Mr Mark, you say, “The more I read the anti-science responses on this blog, the more convinced I am that there is an absolute crisis in critical & rational thinking in this country”But I like to think that a lot of rational, honest religious people simply aren’t posting here, and are just cringing when they hear the anti-science responses. I recently had a dialogue with a reasonable, intelligent Christian who said she was going to spend more time here talking with Christians “to urge them not to drive people away from the Lord by exclusionary, judgmental words and actions.” I wish she’d turn up here soon.

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Mark:You must have an advanced degree in name-calling! It’s funny how the “smart” ones always revert to calling people “stupid” and “dumb” just because they don’t agree with them. It’s like there could be absolutely no other opinion worth mentioning, and no other right answer in the world except for theirs!You mean scientists aren’t regular people? Are they SUPER people?OK, wait just a second. Now I thought we had determined that scientists new how the universe was created, didn’t we? You said above that was a thing that scientists have never said. I was pretty sure that they said there was a BIG BANG? Then there was plasma, and quarks, and all kinds of cool stuff, right? I was pretty sure that’s what the scientists are saying. And then there were, what, other “stuff” that combined on earth to form life, right? Those scientists have it all figured out already. They’re like Super-Brains! I think we should worship them!Don’t assume people are dumb just because they don’t agree with you; it just makes you sound like “The Great and Powerful Oz”, and we all know who he turned out to be.

  • Mr Mark

    E Fav -Thanks for the comment. You’re probably correct at a certain level.I’m in a particulalry combative move today after watching Christopher Hitchens and his “take no prisoners” approach to demolishing religion at the LA Book Festival. I will be purchasing his latest effort, “God is Not Great” ASAP.BTW – since the religonists are always posing questions to we atheists and/or scientists, I’d like to take this opportunity to ask them to answer a few questions:1. Which diseases have been cured by religion?2. Why doesn’t the Bible mention marsupials?

  • Anonymous

    Russell:No Russell, you’re wrong. Mr. Mark said that said that scientists never said that they know what killed the dinosaurs. Read his post.

  • another anon

    Sorry Mr. Mark. I was referencing your post -April 30, 2007 11:31 AM-. Too many “if coulds” and “then may/mights” That’s shaky ground to make points in an argument. If you are speaking of the unknown in science, you should acknowledge it. Faith by definition is belief in an unknown. Have a good day.

  • Mr Mark

    Dear Anonymous -I’m sorry, but you are the one who keeps saying that scientists “know” something without having the slightest idea of what the word “know” means in a scientific context. You are ignorant on the use of the word in this context.A religionist “knows” that something is “absolutely true” based on no evidence whatsoever. A scientist “knows” to a statistical certainty that something has been proven true while still allowing that new evidence may emerge to better explain something, even if that margin for revision is .00001%. He proves something to be true by employing the scientific method which is just as dependent on real efforts to DISPROVE a hypothesis as it is to prove it.Is it any wonder that I would assume a level of ignorance on your part because you can’t understand this simple reality?BTW – we are all ignorant of something. I have no knowledge of NASCAR or of the midrash-ic teachings of the Torah, for example. I have only a surface knowledge of Islam. It’s no crime to be ignorant of something, but it’s audacious to purport to know what you’re talking about in the face of overwhelming evidence that proves that you haven’t a clue as to the subject at hand.

  • another anon

    Mr. Mark. This is my third post. You have absolutely no knowledge of my intellect or beliefs and yet you have made an enormous “leap of faith” in describing both. Quit making an a** of yourself and move on.

  • Russell D.

    Anon:I did read his post. I am just adding what I have discovered through research and reading something other than the Bible. Try it sometime, it works wonders .

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Mark:Ah, but here is where we differ, my scientific friend. People of true faith have their own type of “knowing” that is different than the scientific knowing. It is how you “know” that what you say you believe is true. It is what makes a person who didn’t believe become a believer. You don’t just know it because a book said it; you know it with every part of you, and you see the evidence everywhere. It is logical, it makes sense, and there is order reason. It is the same way YOU “know” there is not a God.Oh, and I do know quite a bit about science, it’s just too boring to write about all the time! I prefer reading and researching.

  • Anonymous

    Russell:That’s pretty harsh for someone you don’t know. I’ve probably read much more than you have, seeing that you had to “look up” that theory on dinosaurs; I believe I learned about that one about 30 or so years ago…

  • Russell D.

    Anon: I never said I looked it up just recently. There you go ASSuming again………So as a full grown person with HIS own thoughts and reasoning, do you actually put more stock in the Bible than science? Or common sense for that matter?

  • Anonymous

    Russell:Now who’s assuming? It appears to be pretty close to impossible to have an intelligent conversation with you so far.First, I am a She, not a He. Second, there are some things that I find the Bible more reliable for, and others for which science is indispensable. Why does it have to be one or the other? As for common sense, there are unfortunately many people here who are sorely lacking.

  • Anonymous

    Russell:Oh, and regarding the dinosaurs, you did say “Look that up. I did.” That does infer that you “looked it up recently”, especially when you quote specific percentages in your post.

  • Russell D.

    Well thanks for clearing up the gender issue, glad we got past that. I can have an intelligent conversation, but it seems that nobody on here is having one. Why break that trend? More fun,and I like fun. But like you said, I don’t know you, so who am I to say have some fun. You wouldn’t listen to me anyways. Sometimes, an argument between a man and a woman can get no further than the front door. That is where we seem to be.

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Mark:I called you “my scientific friend” simply because you were taking the scientific side of this discussion, not because I took you as any type of expert in science. I am 43 years old, and my Knowing that there is a God came after 40 years of Knowing that there wasn’t one; 40 years of a very educated life, full of a thirst for knowledge and understanding. My degrees are unimportant; suffice to say that I am more than qualified to be commenting on these topics. I came to fully believe the big bang theory and the theory of evolution and a plethora of other theories. I did not grow up in a religious or church-going home.Not all “religionists” as you like to call them have been brought up in a setting devoid of other life choices. Some of us were non-believers all our lives who know the science behind the theories, and yet, we are now believers.

  • Mr Mark

    Anoymous -Thanks for your latest post. I wish you would pick a screen name so we’d know who you are. There are too many Anonymi on this board, and it’s hard to carry on a conversation when 3 different people weigh in under the same moniker.The responses that drew the ire of the religionists in this thread were my posts that put the lie to assertations made by Vinnie. Let me ask you – do you side with Vinnie on this? Do you believe that the Miller-Urey experiements happened, or not?How about my other questions? Why no marsupials in the Bible? Which diseases has religion cured?Thanks for your responses.

  • Rebecca

    Mr. Mark:Sorry about the Anonymous, Mr. Mark. I hadn’t planned on staying very long, so I didn’t feel the need for a name.Of course I believe that the Miller-Urey experiments happened. It’s all fully documented; there’s no reason not to believe it. As to what it actually proves, I think people have to be careful not to expand results out farther than they should.Your other questions? Ok, I’ll bite. The marsupials; as far as I know, none are mentioned in the Bible. As for diseases cured by religion: a religion is a set of beliefs, and a set of beliefs, any set of beliefs, cannot cure a disease.

  • Rebecca

    Mr. Mark:Sorry, you asked WHY no marsupials in the Bible. I don’t know. I’m sure there are plenty of other animals that were around back then that are not mentioned in the Bible.

  • E favorite

    “Why do you say the quote from Acts is questioned? I’ve never heard that this was questioned before.”Honestly, Deb, it was a trick to see your reaction if you caught it. I don’t know that that quote is questioned, just that the authenticity of some of “Acts” is in doubt, according to some biblical scholars. It was a mean thing to do. I couldn’t resist and I don’t regret it. It was to test a hypothesis, that Christians will question non-believers, but not other Christians. It’s OK for you to say, “”Clearly, from the very beginning, followers of Jesus were being referred to as Christians” when the only available evidence shows 30 years later. It’s OK to defend Mikki when she leaves out words that seriously distort the meaning of a quote about Einstein’s religious beliefs and it’s OK not to mention your negative feelings about Vinnie’s aggressiveness and ridiculous statements until pressed. This is not what I’d call defending the faith.

  • E favorite

    Hi, Mr Mark — I’m feeling more militant, too, since I got Hitchens book, just last Friday.I’m not terribly fond of him when I see him on cable news shows, but I sure like his book so far.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    MarkAll the plants are not listed in the Bible either. I don’t read how one is supposed to build houses, cook food etc etc. The Bible seems to have missed out on a whole lot of instructions and information. Too bad! Not only is the cure for diseases not mentioned in the Bible, not even the basic first aid instructions are to be found anywhere. Well… What now? Reason enough to discard the Bible or every other Scripture?Believers like me don’t get put off because the Bible says in the first chapter that man was created in the image and likeness of God. God gave human beings intelligence and wisdom to find his way around in the world, and create the life that he wants.

  • John Conolley

    Soja:My point wasn’t that God doesn’t exist. That’s merely my context. My point was that bringing in God to explain existence adds no information and doesn’t help us know anything. It’s just another layer of “don’t know.”Vinny:I certainly didn’t try to read your huge rant, but let me ask you something: Isn’t there anything you don’t know? Don’t you admit it when you don’t know? It doesn’t hurt me a bit to admit when I don’t know something, and I damned sure don’t know how life begun. But saying God did it is so much hot air. Just admit it, Buddy. You don’t know.Now, here’s a couple things you don’t know:It wasn’t Tacitus that mentioned Chrestus. It was Seutonius. And the time he mentions him in is well past the supposed time supposed Christ supposedly lived. (Did you know that some early Christian sects put the time of Christ at about 150 BCE?)The Testimonium Flavium (the long paragraph in Flavius Josephus where he supposedly mentions supposed Christ) is regarded by most Biblical scholars, Christian and otherwise, to have been stuck in by some medieval monk. The other paragraph scholars are about 50-50 on, which means it’s certainly questionable.

  • John Conolley

    Mr. Mark:I think you’re out on a dry branch with the marsupial business. It looks irrelevant to me. It must look like pretty desperate scratching around to a Christian.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    JohnBelief in God in NOT just another layer of “I don’t know.” Thousands, maybe millions of people, down the ages have had spiritual experiences that cannot be explained by the scientific method – some of them like sages, saints and founders of religions have had more intense experiences. The average believer takes the experience of others as valid based on faith, even if he doesn’t make the experience himself. Those who have made spiritual experience have all sensed a reality that lies beyond the five senses, and their experiences are real. The experience is all the more valid because despite the different vocabulary used by different people from different parts of the world, the experience seems to be the same. The experience of mystics of all religions is a case in point. A truly scientific mind does not dismiss such overwhelming mass of evidence, which talks of a experience that is similar, as irrevelant. It would be no different if a scientist who knows only how to use an electron microscope dismissed the claims about the existence of distant stars by a scientist who studied it with the help of the Hubble telescope; if a physicist dismissed the claims of an anthropologist; a chemist dismissed the claims of a…For that reason it is impossible to shake the faith of a believer who has had some kind of personal experience, which cannot be explained by the scientific method. Faith is an experience of the soul, not of the five senses or the body-mind-emotions complex.

  • Deb

    E Favorite:I think you possibly misread some of my answers. I certainly was not defending Mikki, and as I said, I don’t like to post simply to bash someone (referring to Vinnie; I typically ignore ranting from either “side”). I guess the same doesn’t hold true for you. Maybe you shouldn’t post when you’re feeling quite so “militant”; not everyone here appreciates being under attack on a discussion board. And on top of it you lied just to see what my reaction would be? That’s a little ridiculous, don’t you think?

  • E favorite

    Soja – I’ve had a few spiritual/mystical/numinous experiences – even while I was a believer – and didn’t associate them with belief in God. It never occurred to me. Don’t know why. Different strokes for different folks, I guess. The experiences certainly felt good and they were all a little different – some with more profound physical or mental effects than others. As I’ve been participating in these discussions, I’ve remembered more of them through my life – I’m now up to seven – one in a dream as a child, one sitting at my computer, one having dinner outdoors with friends, one in a church and 3 in holy places (one pagan, 2 Christian). I also occasionally have “psychic feelings” that are always right – most of them are about inconsequential matters and I have no control or their timing. They impress my friends, who are eventually disappointed that I can’t bring out my crystal ball on demand about more pressing issues.So, I’m saying – just because something has not been explained by the scientific method, doesn’t mean God exists. Also, I think it’s a stretch, for those who associated these experiences with “God” to then assume the validity of the whole Christian story, virgin birth, resurrection, etc. These experience are both universal and personal – there are commonalities and differences among them. Some people associate them with a visit from God. Others, like me, don’t. On the “earliest religious experience” discussion, numerous atheists on the Sam Harris thread reported these kinds of experiences – including Harris, who like me, had an experience at a holy place. As has happened with so many previously unexplained things (e.g., the weather, the solar system), maybe someday the scientific method will be able to explain these phenomena. Meanwhile, we know they happen, but we don’t know that they mean God exists – only that some people interpret it that way.

  • Russell D.

    This is an interesting topic, and I would love to contribute. Maybe you should all check out my post in Cal thomas’s thread, and in Starhawk’s thread. Maybe it will help, or heck, if anything it will give you something to ponder for a bit. E-Fav knows what I am talkin about.

  • E favorite

    Deb: It’s possible I did misinterpret your answers. Simply explaining what Mikki did without saying it was deceptive seemed like defending her to me. I haven’t noticed that you ignore “ranting” but I’m not sure we would define it the same way. I think if a non-believer here were saying things I knew were not true, I’d mention it here for the sake of integrity of information if for no other reason. As for your suggestion “Maybe you shouldn’t post when you’re feeling quite so “militant”; not everyone here appreciates being under attack on a discussion board” – I’d say that’s something that applies to Vinnie a lot more than to me. If I had meant to attack you or lie, I wouldn’t have immediately acknowledged my “trick.” Even if you hadn’t commented it on, I would have acknowledged that I had no reference for it. If I wanted to lie, I think I could have done a much better job at it (don’t ask me how – I’m not much into lying – more into playing the devil’s advocate and letting people know what I’m up to.) Do you think what I did was a lie and what Mikki did was not? When she was called on it, she simply denied responsibility, saying she “only quoted from- ‘Walter Isaacson, the CEO of the Aspen Institute, in his new book, “Einstein: His Life and Universe. If you disagree with that tell the author and publisher.” I acknowledged what I did immediately and called it “mean” and a “trick.” You called it a lie and ridiculous. Really, Deb – who’s attacking whom?

  • Mr Mark

    John Conolley wrote:”I think you’re out on a dry branch with the marsupial business. It looks irrelevant to me. It must look like pretty desperate scratching around to a Christian.”Desperate? The marsupial thingey is an entertaining sidebar…a handful of dirt to toss on religion’s grave. You’ve read my past posts. It’s not like I was a Bible-thumping Xian until the day some Aussie asked me, “but what about marsupials?” It’s not like the evidence for evolution and for scientific, natural explanations for how the world operates isn’t overwhelming and that I’m forced to grasp at marsupials to make my point. That said, let me expand on the marsupial question: do you believe the story of Noah’s ark? If so, weren’t the marsupials on the ark? If so, how did Noah get all of the marsupials to locate in Australia?

  • Julie

    E Favorite wrote:”I’ve had a few spiritual/mystical/numinous experiences – even while I was a believer – and didn’t associate them with belief in God. It never occurred to me.” So?Then they most likely weren’t OF God. Just because they felt spiritual or mystical to you doesn’t mean they were the same as someone else’s spiritual experiences. Some people actually are more in tune with their spiritual selves than others. Some people are just gifted with that knowledge. We’ve all been in touch with our surroundings at one time or another; it’s more natural than anything else. Some people have an experience where they know they are communing with God. They actually know when that happens.You also said “just because something has not been explained by the scientific method, doesn’t mean God exists.” The opposite is also true: just because something has been explained by the scientific method doesn’t mean God doesn’t exist.

  • Deb

    Mr. Mark:It is so funny you mention Noah’s Ark; my daughter got a toy Noah’s Ark as a gift, and it has a pair of Kangaroos in it! Isn’t that interesting?

  • Mikki

    5/1/07Mikki’s response to E Favorite: “Mikki – You say,” I only quoted from- ‘Walter Isaacson, the CEO of the Aspen Institute, in his new book, “Einstein: His Life and Universe””The WHOLE QUOTE was there — not the one you quoted here with the essence removed. Did you remove those parts yourself..”Response- “NO” I did not. I did not review the BOOK. I am only going by the quotes or extracts given ‘above’ at the start of this discussion- I have no idea who decided to use those quotes. The point is ‘Nature & God’ and ‘free will(ers)’- that part, essentially, is the Key to understand the ‘Truth’! And, I am, also, aware Einstien’s interest in learning from ‘Sanskrit-Scriptures’ By the way- I noticed, some of you spending lot of time in making points on ‘Bible’, Jesus etc.. That’s OK, but the Key issue is more than that- What Bible or Quron or The Savior(s) such as Buddha or Jesus etc.. tried was to teach ‘How to live under God’- we should not quarrel on that principle. What Einstein said can only help us think and accept the underlined principle what motivated Buddha or Jesus to sacrifice !Mikki

  • E favorite

    Mikki – You cite your Einstein quote both as being from people in this discussion and directly from the author. Maybe you pieced yours together from both sources? Perhaps it didn’t occur to you that doing that could change the meaning – especially since you hadn’t seen the original quote from the book.Personally, I think you, not the author and publisher, bear responsibility for the distorted meaning in the quote you pieced together.

  • Mr Mark

    To E Fav & Mikki -Mikki, I think E Fav has a valid point. One needs to be careful when offering quotes in a discussion, I try to find the source whenever possible.I am always suspicious of quotes that are laden with ellipses. It’s usually a tipoff that something untoward is afoot. We can all play that game. For example, let’s take something you wrote:”Response- “NO” I did not. I did not review the BOOK. I am only going by the quotes or extracts given ‘above’ at the start of this discussion- I have no idea who decided to use those quotes.”Now, let’s enter the magic world of ellipses:”Response- …I did… I did…review the BOOK. I am..going by the quotes… I …decided to use those quotes.”:)

  • E favorite

    Julie, when you say “Just because they felt spiritual or mystical to you doesn’t mean they were the same as someone else’s spiritual experiences” I hope you’re not saying that what I felt couldn’t have been the same as what people feel who associate God with their experiences. The truth is, neither of us knows how these experiences individually manifest themselves, but you seem to be implying that my spiritual experiences weren’t as good or valid, somehow, if they weren’t “of God.” Is that right? I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but I do want a better understanding of what you meant. Are you discounting my experiences because they weren’t God-centered? If they were Buddha-centered, would that be better than no God at all? Would a Jesus-centered experience be of the highest order? I know you didn’t suggest this, but I’m curious about how you evaluate a person’s spiritual experience.What you said reminds me of recent comments I’ve heard Christians make, when they are trying to explain the bad activities of some other professed Christians by saying those people weren’t really Christians. It seems like a ready made excuse that fits any situation in which Christianity is questioned.

  • Julie

    E Favorite:I was not implying that your experiences were somehow inferior or not valid. I only said that they were different, as everyone’s experiences are. Actually, your post seemed to be implying that since your experience didn’t lead you to believe it was coming from God, then other experiences shouldn’t either. My response was to that.As for your last statement: “As I’ve said here before – I think religious people would be better off not trying to prove things related to their faith.” Just for the record, are you talking about all religions here?

  • Mr Mark

    Dear Russell -Sounds like differing metabolisms to me. Maybe different personality traits.Speaking of people with “energy,” I tend to recoil from people who have a revival preacher personality, who are all uncontrolled energy, bluster and excitement. You know, the type of person who is just as excited about a slice of white bread as they are about the World Series? There’s no negative or positive, just a superhyper middle. They’re so passionate about everything that they’re passionate about nothing.On the “different strokes” front, my 13-yr-old son has always been a loner with a handful of close confidants. My 10-yr-old daughter has more friends than you can shake a stick at, always has. He does a few extra-curricular things (band, music & science), she’s got to be involved in most everything. One is a girl one is a boy. They have the same parents, yet the differences are striking. Go figure.I’d never chalk up personality differences to cosmic energy or god force. I think the explanation is much more mundane than that.

  • Mikki

    5/1/07 Those quotes are from “Posted by Walter Isaacson on April 27, 2007 9:12 AM” Go and review !

  • Deb

    Russell:I think people are sensitive to the “life force” of other people in different ways. Some people feel their “energies”, others claim to see “auras”, I get a sense of “warmth” or “coldness” from a person; I’m sure there are others. We all have a lot of energy within us; it only makes sense that that energy can be picked up by people somehow. Sometimes people can “sense” when someone else is in the room with them; they can somehow “feel” it. Just like some people have better hearing or vision, some people are probably better at picking up this sensation.

  • E Favorite

    Mikki — I did review the essay, and posters quotes and your quotes. You pieced them together and the result distorts the original meaning. Perhaps this is not what you intended, but it’s what happened. Julie – thanks for getting back to me. It’s all in the eye of the beholder, I guess. I certainly did not mean to imply that a religious person wouldn’t think they’d communed with god during a spiritual experience — just that such experiences were open to all and interpreted individually. I thought Soja was saying only religious people could have such an experience and that you were implying that any experience that didn’t include a sense of God was not in the same league.Regarding thinking that “religious people would be better off not trying to prove things related to their faith” – I’d say I’m referring to any religion that involves taking certain tenets of the religion on faith. Certainly Christianity, Islam and Judaism. I don’t know about Buddhism, Wicca, etc. and I’m guessing a lot of people who identify as Jews don’t believe in the God of Abraham.

  • Julie

    E Favorite:You wrote “I’m guessing a lot of people who identify as Jews don’t believe in the God of Abraham.” That’s an odd thing to say. How do you mean?

  • E Favorite

    I know a lot of Jews who identify more as an ethnic group that has suffered greatly through the centuries – and more recently, during WWII. They have customs and even a common language – even if they know only a few words. They don’t however, (with the exception of orthodox jews) seem very religious and a few are vocal non-believers.

  • John Conolley

    Soja:I have every respect for your religious experiences, but they’re not testable, and I’ve never had any, so that doesn’t help. They also don’t add any information to the question of how the universe began. To review:When did God create the universe? Your answer: Ask the astrophysicists.How did God create the universe? Your answer: Ask God.Why did God create the universe? Your answer: Because he loves us.What are the characteristics of God? Your answer: Don’t know.Where was God before he created the universe? Your answer: Don’t know.From the point of view of actual information, how are these answers superior to my answer of: Don’t know.

  • John Conolley

    Mr. Mark:Do I believe in the story of Noah’s arc? I’m hurt. I’m truly hurt.Say, did you know that “ark” was an old English word meaning “box?” And if you look up the assembly instructions, it actually describes a humongous wooden box. I wonder how that thing handled in a gale? It must have been hell when it turned up on its beam ends. Watch out for the elephants!

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    JohnScripture was not meant to be read as a science treatise. So the astrophysicist who might be able to give an answer doesn’t fall out of the realm of God, because God created the astrophysicist.A computer does not understand the mind of the software engineer that programmed it. Is that bad? Should the computer feel ashamed of itself?Some of the chacterisitics of God I mentioned are written in Scripture and by people who have had deep spiritual experiences. My answer was NOT, ‘I don’t know,’ but that God is much much more than anything that has ever been written about Him. At the physical level, we understand so little about the vast universe. Is it any wonder that we understand even less about the One who created it?God is the same yesterday, today and forever. That is my understanding as a believer. Hence my answer that He was before the creation of the universe exactly where He is now, does NOT translate to, ‘I don’t know.’Your ‘I don’t know’ is based on ‘God doesn’t exist.’ My ‘I don’t know’ is based on God exists, even if we don’t understand everything about Him. God is infinite, and we human beings can understand only so much with our finite minds. For example how much does an ant understand an elephant? What if an ant believer was asked to prove the existence of an elephant in its test tube? How successful would such an attempt be? God is vastly superior to man as an elephant is to an ant.Your ‘I don’t know’ is based on God cannot exist. My ‘I don’t know’ is based on God exists even if I can’t deliver Him in a test tube. Your ‘I don’t know’ is based on the belief something as mind boggling as our universe can come to existence from nothing for nothing etc. And my rational mind tells me, based on the fact that I see no scientific achievement without the existence of a vastly superior mind behind it, that the universe has a superior mind behind it.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    John Science explains the intelligence and mind of God too. What did Einstein say? The mind of God that is revealed in His creation!

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    Dear MarkI do not quite understand your problem with marsupials or any other animal.I do not read the Old Testament as if it were a series of peer reviewed scientific journal articles. When I was only nine years old I was taught in Catechism class that Adam and Eve had only two sons. The nine year old girl in me sensed there was a big problem: ‘How did the sons get their wives?’ But I didn’t stop believing in God or the Bible for that reason. I realised the Old Testament stories were not to be taken that literally. I understood that God’s work was being explained in the form of stories, some of them probably mythological, some of them historical. Jesus after all used parables to bring home His point, and explaining spiritual truths with the help of stories has been the way of many sages.There is however a golden thread running through the Old Testament, and that is about how God prepared a people for the coming of the Messiah, and how the coming of the Messiah was foretold. The New Testament posed no problems for me. My ancestors are Hindu Nambudiri Brahmins. Hinduism believes that God can take any form and incarnate as a human being. My ancestors were converted by Apostle Thomas in 52 AD, (only nineteen years after the Resurrection of Jesus, and Thomas was the Apostle who insisted on believing only after he had touched the wounds of the risen Jesus) so there was no conflict about the historicity or Resurrection of Jesus. My ancestors had been willing to take Apostle Thomas at his word. That was good enough for me.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    Dear MarkMaybe Australia wasn’t drowned in the flood because the Australian Aboriginals were good boys and girls and God didn’t punish them at all!

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    Dear MarkOr maybe Australia didn’t exist at the time, and the marsupials came into being much later?

  • John Conolley

    Soja and Vinny:I don’t recall stating that the universe came into existence out of nothing. That’s the Christian position. My position is that I don’t know. (I suspect it’s always been here.)Now, I don’t claim to be a scientist (I’m a poet), but to a scientist, “I don’t know” isn’t being stuck in the mud. “I don’t know” is standing before the door of discovery.Vinny:”You see John, you lack the intellectual capacity to recognize the difference between you and I.”I’ll put my intellectual capacity up against yours any time, hotdog. When you have a clue what I’m talking about (and when you can comprehend the difference between a Corvette and a universe), maybe we’ll have a contest. All your tedious jibber-jabber about Corvettes isn’t anything but the same old Argument from Design. It’s been around for a long time, and it’s been refuted for a long time. Refutations have been buzzing all around your ears on this thread, and you neither notice nor answer. Don’t talk to me about mental capacity.Incidentally, Mr. Mental Giant, it’s “between you and me.”

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    John and MarkMedical science takes religion and its beneficial effect on people quite seriously you know. If neither of you find any use for it, that is perfectly okay. The Muslims claim at least in theory, that “There is no compulsion in religion.” Hinduism as a rule has no element of evangelisation in it. And the Catholic denomination I belong to (Syro-Malabar) likewise has no element of evangelisation. So I do not try to convert anyone to my belief. I’m quite comfortable with people of other religions and atheists. In fact I admire many of them (some of the best people I have known have been atheists).JohnBelief in God and belief in science go perfectly well together. So your conclusion that belief in God automatically shuts out belief in science is completely mistaken. A believer sees the mind and heart of God everywhere, even in science, that is all. God is the source of all knowledge and wisdom. When we know, we reflect His knowledge, when we love, we reflect His love…Dear MarkJesus is a historical figure. My faith is based on my confidence that He is a historical figure. If the Bible is poison to you, PLEEESE do not take it, I beg you most earnestly!

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    John The Big Bang theory, accepted by the scientific world, proves that the universe – space, time and forms – as we know them now didn’t exist before the Big Bang. It came into being at a definite point in time. The dispute is only about how it came into being, NOT that it came into being. That leaves very large scientific room for God as the Creator of the Big Bang, that a less modest believer than me could say “We told you so!”

  • E Favorite

    Hello Soja,You say: “Why should your explanation be more right than theirs, especially those who have considerably deeper spiritual experiences than you?”I don’t believe I implied that my explanation was more right. What I said was “These experience are both universal and personal” and “we know they happen, but we don’t know that they mean God exists – only that some people interpret it that way.”I also sense the same thing in your post that I did in Julie’s post – that you judge my experiences to be inferior to “deeper” God-centered experiences.You say, “If your mind has been conditioned not to consider the existence of God, it is no surprise that it seeks to find other explanations for your spiritual experience.” I want to remind you that everyone of my seven experiences happened while I was a believer – the one when I was a small child and the vision (which I can still see clearly) was of a little girl in a shimmering white (communion?) dress, wearing a halo and a holding a magic wand. Looking back on it, she was a perfect combination of angel, fairy Godmother and Catholic child – 3 ideas planted firmly in my mind at the time. I didn’t “seek” explanations for this experience or any of the others. I just accepted them. I didn’t feel special or holy; I just felt good. Are you suggesting that most Christians, seeking an explanation, determine that they experienced God? When you say, “There is a spiritual world between human beings and God…” and “…it would be wrong to say that all have reached the highest level, namely experience of God, simply because they have had a spiritual experience” you are presuming a belief in God and that those mortals who are believers are the only ones qualified to evaluate these experiences. I say you have no way of knowing this, any more than you know Jesus died for your sins or St Thomas came to India – it’s a matter of faith and tradition, lacking earthly evidence – though Christians have been searching for centuries.Thanks for the links, I’ll check them out.

  • E favorite

    Soja et. al. – those sites were something. I don’t think we’ll have to worry about interpreting some of those experiences of the saints if things like that are reported these days. They’re clearly hallucinatory. They’d be placed on meds immediately. Some would be confined.

  • Mikki

    5/1/07Mikki’s Qs ? I read John C’s, Vinny’s & Soja’s ideas- I wonder, if some-one can help me understand: (1) Big-bang: Why ? Is the division of a ‘cell’ a ‘big-bang’ ? (2) ‘Sun’ & ‘Earth’: What ? Is this a ‘matter’ without life or spirit ? (3) Living-entity (for Exp. Man): Why ? Is man a ‘free-will(er)’ to act ? (4) Purpose: Who ? Whose/what purpose ‘free-will(ers)’ serve ? (5) Jesus: god-man ? Or Canstantine of Rome (a ‘sun-god’ worshipper) re-named ‘sun-god’ as Jesus to please all (Paganu-jew) ? (6) Resurrection of Jesus: Why or How ? If true, where did Jesus go, next ? To ‘Father, The God’ or to Bharat or India- the place where educated ? I will be more than happy to listen and learn from all of you !Mikki

  • E favorite

    Hi, Mr Mark — I bet you got on to marsupials from Chris Hitchens. I noticed in my reading last night that he mentions them. Good point – if a little weird and tangential — just the kind of thing people don’t think about and then have trouble justifying.

  • E Favorite

    Soja – I’m curious about what you think of Vinnie’s comments – in both substance and style.

  • E Favorite

    “I’d guess that it’s something religionists will attempt to explain away in about a decade.”Mr Mark – call me optimistic, but in a decade, I’m hoping religionists will have given up trying to justify this kind of stuff — in part, because non-believers will no longer stand by quietly when such nonsense is offered up.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    Dear MarkI realise I didn’t succeed in my attempt at being flippant to pull your legs when I referred to marsupials and the Great Flood. My bad! I must disappoint you with the fact – I don’t give Noah’s Ark a thought, never did, not even for your sake! I really don’t care whether koalas, cuckatoos and parakeets were missing in it. Sometimes cuckatoos and parakeets visit me and sit on my balcony, and that is enough for me. My heart bursts with joy when I see them. They are here now. I believe God made them. Whether He made them by having them evolve from toads or cockroaches is not my concern. I don’t care whether they were in Noah’s ark.I thought I made it pretty clear in several posts that I don’t read the Old Testament like a history textbook or science treastise; that I believe in science and in God (I posted the link to Faraday’s Institute on Science and Religion to prove the point that science and religion can go together); that God reveals His mind through the work of scientists etc. In my recent post I explained that as a nine year old girl I understood God’s message can be expressed mythologically, just as Jesus used parables to explain Himself. What more is left to say? So when you conclude that I believe the world was created 6000 years ago etc., I ask myself whether you read my posts at all.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    Dear MarkI don’t have to go to extraordinary lengths to believe that Jesus Christ was a historical figure. I only have to go the ordinary length of believing that the tradition followed by my ancestors is rooted in history, as is the case with most traditions in India. Hindu Scripture was passed on for centuries orally before it got written down. History writing was never its strong point. My logic tells me that there is no way a whole people in Kerala, so far removed from the birth place of Jesus, could have invented a story about a man whose existence they had no reason to know, and much less reason to accept as an Incarnation of God. Mind you my Hindu ancestors were Brahmins, so they were not lacking in religion and didn’t need to escape any social misery by becoming Christians. On the contrary, they had to give up their social privileges. That makes a pretty strong ordinary length for me.

  • John Conolley

    Soja:”space, time and forms – as we know them now didn’t exist before the Big Bang. It came into being at a definite point in time.”So you’re saying that a definite point in time, time began. Don’t you see anything wrong with that?Vinny:I pay you the respect of addressing you by the name you post under. Kindly show me the same respect.Also, don’t put words in my mouth. You’re biting off way more that you can chew.

  • John Conolley

    Mikki’s Qs:1: Cell division is nothing like a bang. The new sell is slowly and exactingly constructed by the old cell. If everything goes right, it’s an exact copy.2: Not sure I understand the question, but there are definitely no enzyme-catalyzed reactions on the sun. Way to hot.3 & 4: Don’t understand the questions.5: Don’t understand all the question, but there’s a thesis that Christianity originated as one of the mystery religions that were popular in Greek society at the time. For a popular treatment of the thesis, see _The Jesus Mysteries_ by Freke and Gandy.6: There are a number of stories about where Christ went after his resurrection. One is that he went down to Hell, threw down the gates, and pulled out Adam and Eve. As for his education, an old story exists that he got it in Egypt. For a treatment of that, see _Jesus the Magician_ by Morton Smith ( Smith was a highly respected Biblical scholar). Personally, I don’t believe Christ ever existed. This is not a popular opinion, but there are respected scholars who hold it.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    JohnI don’t see a problem. Big Bangers are of the opinion that not only forms, but also time and space had a beginning. God exists in the zone of timelessness (better known as eternity) and creates time, space and forms.Hindus wrote about that a long long time ago, long long before the idea of Big Bang was ever born.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    BTW at no time in my life did I feel that my faith in God needed to be approved by an atheist, or all the respected scholars for that matter.

  • E Favorite

    Good morning, SojaI don’t know if “The vast majority of mankind attribute spiritual experience to their belief in God” but even if they do, that doesn’t mean that God was involved – only that they think that. That majority of people used to think that disease was caused by evil spirits, but we now that’s not so and have medical treatments and cures for many conditions – and are searching for treatments for conditions that currently don’t respond to modern medicine. While some people still believe in miracle cures (when medical solutions are exhausted) only primitive people living isolated from modernity would believe in evil spirits as the cause of disease. History also supported slavery for centuries – that doesn’t justify it today. I could go on, but I think my point is made.I don’t doubt the validity of what people believed about their experiences – but belief is not the only factor to consider. Some Christians believe sincerely that all non-Christians are going to Hell. Others believe that someday soon, they are going to drop their clothes and fly straight up to heaven, while unbelievers are left here on earth to be killed by Jesus’ avenging army. Regarding comparing different scientists’ techniques with spiritual experiences– seems like apples and oranges to me – all scientists, regardless of their level of expertise, use the scientific method, regardless of their various techniques. Religious people depend on faith for their explanation. Sounds like you’ve decided that the highest level of spiritual experience involves God. I say not necessarily. Neither of us can prove it, but you seem sure you are right and I am wrong – based on your faith.Doctors may take the broad subject of “spirituality” seriously, but if anyone came in their offices hallucinating the way some of the saints in your websites were, they would send them straight to the psych ward. They would be obliged to do so, under threat of malpractice. Certainly psychiatrists who are also believers can recognize a break from reality when they see it. Perhaps in centuries past such people were seen as messengers from God. These days they’re called schizophrenics.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    E Favourite Considering you are an atheist and a non-medical person, if I were you, I would be quite reluctant to make such confident judgements about spiritual experiences and be so certain about the basis on which medical doctors diagnose mental illness and admit patients to a psychiatric ward. An atheist has not made the experience a believer has. Faith is not about blind faith in something as you seem to think. Not believing in something in itself is no special qualification to judge the belief of someone who does. You seem to give the impression that lack of experience in itself constitutes a special qualification.

  • Mikki

    5/3/07On John Conolley’s response- Thank you for trying to think !”1: Cell division is nothing like a bang. The new sell is slowly and exactingly constructed by the old cell. If everything goes right, it’s an exact copy.”Mikki: So, what is the difference between ‘cell’ and ‘galaxiey’ ? (if you know)”2: Not sure I understand the question, but there are definitely no enzyme-catalyzed reactions on the sun. Way to hot.”Mikki: For exp.- ‘Man’ is hot (inside and outside) relatively- so, what is the difference ? (if you know)”5: Don’t understand all the question, but there’s a thesis that Christianity originated as one of the mystery religions that were popular in Greek society at the time…”Mikki: Pharisee (Jew) the so called ‘free will(er)’ first created ‘Ashura-Mazda’ (opposite to ‘Sura’, the godly) with help from Persian (Iranian), ‘they’ say some 5,000 years ago. In their ‘Avestas’ (or Bible), which was compiled from “Veda” [Veda in Sanskrit is the Origin]. After ‘Alexander the Great’, Pharisee-Persian-Arab went in different ways- and, after ‘Jesus’, Jew found a way to sell the new ‘Bible’ to Greeks in the name of ‘Jesus’.. the rest, we know ?Mikki: The name ‘Hindu’ is derived from ‘Indoos’- ‘Alexander the Great’ ended his war against Pharisee-Persian at the banks of river-Indus (in 325BC), and he did not go forward into the heartland of ‘Motherland’, which he called ‘Indoos’. Hindu, Paganu, Druid, Arya, the Inca-Mayan, Ethiopian-Egyptian or even the Persian-Arab etc.., all used to worship ‘Nature’- like, ‘Rock’ (as destructive Power of God or “Siva”), ‘Sun’ (as creative Power of God, or “Vishnu”) etc.. etc.., the “Veda” gods (where do you think Einstien’s beliefs came from ?)”Veda” is pure Science and nothing but Science- ‘Sun’ is our Father, and ‘Earth’ is our Mother- you and I cannot possibly exist without Father-Mother: This is not Faith, this is the ‘Truth’ Hence, there is no room for ‘free will(ers)’ to screw it and start new religions in the Name of God !If you want to know more- read my other postings.Mikki

  • E Favorite

    Soja – you don’t know what my background is or what resources I have. Besides, anyone could do a little checking in the DSM (Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders) to get a quick definition of schizophrenia, not available during biblical times.I know what it is to have faith, because I had it for years – and during all the experiences I referenced here. I don’t mind that others have had experiences that they thought were god-centered – mine were not and that seems to bother you.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    E FavouriteI don’t recall you mentioning having a medical background in any of your posts.If you had a medical background:1. You would not dish out a diagnosis with the ease which you did. Only a non-professional would make such over confident statements.2. You would know about the many studies done which has confirmed the benefits of spirituality and religion in the quality of human lives. The studies by the way do NOT use methods that any physicist would consider hard science. There is no way of proving God, but there is a way of studying the effect a genuine belief in God and the benefits of religion.3. The ability to look up the DSM on the Internet does not make anyone a medical professional. Nobody becomes a psychiatrist by simply reading the DSM.4. If you had looked up information on spirituality from a medical point of view, you could not have missed the information that is available about the serious attempt that is being made to understand spiritual experiences and study them in order to differentiate real spiritual experiences from mental illness. Freud is to blame for considering religion a crutch, but medical science has long moved beyond Freud in its understanding of the mind and spirituality.Your non-God centred spiritual experience does not bother me. The self righteous certainty with which you pass judgement on the spiritual experience of others does. If your experience were of God, you would know the difference between good and evil, and you would recognise good when you see it. But the fact that you consider saints schizophrenics proves that your ability to see good is not very well developed. Whatever your spiritual experience, it is not very advanced on a spiritual scale.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    E FavouriteYou say you had faith. However whatever kind of faith that was, it could not stand any close scrutiny. You lost it in the process of study. Why is that genuine believers benefit from study about faith and God related matters instead, and do not lose it even when they are exposed to science? Why do believers feel a resonance with those who have made similar spiritual experience, and you feel just the opposite? So whatever your faith and your spiritual experience was, it seems to have been different from the faith and experience true believers have. That much is obvious. I will not make any assumptions about how you lost your faith.

  • John Conolley

    Vinny,Yes, you were so respectful. Bury atheists? Corvette on your forehead? Bwaa etc.? You don’t have the intellectual capacity? You’re an ass, Vinny, and the son of an ass.

  • John Conolley

    Soja,To say that at some point in time, time began is a flat contradiction. If time hasn’t begun, how can there be a point in time? I know that astrophysicists who know way more than I’ll ever know or care to know about their subject hold with the Big Bang, but I still think it’s bad science, and mainly a way to sneak God into science. Consider: the Big Bang Theory came about when astronomers noticed that the light we receive from most (almost all) stars is shifted towards the red. This they interpret as a Doppler shift indicating the stars are moving away from us. But if Einstein’s assumption is right, that the speed of light is constant for all observers, there can’t be a Doppler shift in light. It would have to move slower relative to us than it did to the source. Either Einstein was wrong, in which case all of modern physics is standing on sand, or else he’s right, and the red shift has to be accounted for some other way.Consider further: astronomers have detected star structures that would have taken well over 14 billion years to have come about. They’ve explained them away, but it looked hand-wavy to me.And this: They’ve detected residual radiation that supposedly came from the Big Bang. But if the universe had always been here, wouldn’t there be some residual radiation? It’s had a long time to accumulate.And this: YOU CAN’T EXTRAPOLATE ANY OBSERVATION 13 BILLION YEARS! THAT’S INSANE!

  • E favorite

    Hello Soja – You don’t recall me saying anything about my professional background, because I never have. Yet you made an assumption about it and stated it as a fact. Any intelligent modern person reading through the links you sent could see some of these people would be considered deranged by 21 century standards. A quick check of the DSM would confirm that hearing voices, having visions and perceptions of talking with God are symptoms of schizophrenia. You’re right – professionals don’t “dish out” diagnoses and wouldn’t do it without examining the patient (unless you’re sell-out Senator Frist watching a video of brain-dead Terry Schiavo). But in this case, we’re talking about dead saints – there’s no patient in sight. It’s my opinion and I contend that most intelligent people, with or without mental health credentials, would react similarly.The value of “spirituality and the quality of human lives” is open to question and at any rate is distinct from the “spiritual experiences” that we’ve been discussing. The “self righteous certainty” you mention, “with which [I] pass judgment on the spiritual experience of others” is only to the extent that I say they THINK, rather than KNOW that they’ve seen God. Meanwhile, You seem quite sure that my experiences are lacking, because I’m a nonbeliever (even though all my experiences to date have been when I was a believer). Talk about passing judgment, Soja, you’ve determined that “Whatever [my] spiritual experience, it is not very advanced on a spiritual scale.” I doubt that you have the credentials for this or that if you did, you would make a diagnosis over the internet. But the up side is that you’ll never have to worry about getting sued. I – a real living person – wouldn’t think of it. Besides, there’s no legal liability I know of for making claims about spirituality. It’s faith-based and out of the realm of earthly law.I didn’t lose my faith simply as a result of study – I had an insight (not exactly earth-shaking, looking back on hit) that religion was man made while appreciating the multitudinous man-made glories of the Vatican, and followed it up with study. I think I understand you saying my faith “could not stand any close scrutiny.” Perhaps you need to diminish the faith of anyone who eventually loses it to convince yourself that only “real” faith survives such scrutiny. If so, It makes me question the depth of your own faith. At any rate, it’s a cop-out – I’ve heard it here before – discounting Christians who fall away as never having been “true believers” in the first place. I’m hopeful that others reading this will think it’s possible that people who stop believing in God may have good reasons for it.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    E FavouriteLet’s say that even without you having mentioned whether or not you are a medical professional, it was easy enough to detect that you did not draw your conclusions as a medical professional would. Since you have not assessed the case of saints as a medical professional would, your over confident conclusion that they would be considered mentally deranged by 21st century standards is completely wrong. There is more to making a medical diagnosis than being merely modern and intelligent and reading the symptoms listed in a medical textbook. Mind you that people who do believe in spiritual experiences as being real, which is the vast majority of the human population, would NOT come to the same conclusion as you do, as an atheist. Concluding that an atheist does not have much idea of spirituality is not a medical diagnosis, or an attack on the person. It is no more than saying that a physicist doesn’t know much about chemistry if his area of specialty is physics and not chemistry. I did not say at any time that your spiritual experiences were not real, but merely that there is a scale in spirituality too. There are some simple rules of discernment, and one does not have to be a saint or guru to know what they are, especially if one has been on the spiritual path and have known many people who are far advanced along the spiritual path, and have read enough on the topic. So in your opinion an atheist could sue a believer for saying that their spiritual experience is not of the highest level? You could sue me for thinking you are not a saint according to the criteria used to define saints, or up to the level of highly advanced spiritual people I have known in real life? First of all I hope you realise that the whole claim of knowledge of spirituality by an atheist is a paradox. But the concept of suing someone because they don’t accept your opinion as the ultimate truth is interesting indeed. It is even more interesting considering all the words of contempt that have been heaped on believers by atheists. If that would be grounds for believers to sue atheists I wonder, not all atheists, but an atheist who thinks a differing opinion needs to be taken to court.Real faith stands scrutiny, otherwise it couldn’t be called faith in the first place. You have your reasons for not believing in God. I never disputed that. But believers have their reasons for believing in God. I hope you can accept that too. We have a problem in our discussion not because I can’t accept your atheism, but because you are convinced that believers have no reason for their faith and you tend to judge believers by your standard and based on your personal experience and the experience of atheists alone, without considering the possibility that believers have valid experiences too.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    E FavouriteI consider our discussion and attempt at dialogue closed.Good luck!

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    JphnYou wrote, “I know that astrophysicists who know way more than I’ll ever know or care to know about their subject hold with the Big Bang, but I still think it’s bad science, and mainly a way to sneak God into science.”There you have it, even the astrophysicist must be wrong if a concept of God might creep in as a scientific conclusion. It seems to me then that it is not really about science, but about “proving” God CANNOT exist. Unfortunately John, science by its very nature does not have a closed ended conclusion. Real science must remain open even to the possibility that God, as proclaimed by billions of people down the ages, could have some grain of truth in it. If science opens up the possibility for a first cause through the scientific method, a real scientist does not ignore it.Mathematics and physics dependent on it, can deal with calculation of numbers much greater than 13 billion. In fact they can make calculations that include infinity. Extrapolaltion is a legitimate method in science whereever such extrapolation is possible. Here we are dealing with physical laws which lends itself to extrapolation. So it makes much more sense to extrapolate something that mathematics can calculate (considering mathematics can deal with numbers quite confidently) rather than say it shouldn’t be calculated simply because it might possibly shoot holes in the pet theories of atheists. I’m a simple woman John. I believe that God exists in the zone of timelessness and He creates everything. That the Big Bang scientists came along and said the universe – forms, space and time – has a definite beginning, is merely a bonus for someone like, not an essential element to my faith.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    JohnI must give my full concept of God: I believe He is fully transcendent (the God of the Abrahamic faiths) – beyond space, time and forms – and also fully imminent, the God in whom we live, move and have our being (the God of the pantheists). The transcendent God took a human form and came in the person of Jesus Christ. The Hindus refer to it as an Incarnation of God. The Holy Spirit in Christianity is the Spirit of that human form of God. That is the Christian basis for the belief in Trinity.

  • E favorite

    Soja – it looks like you missed the part of my post about, “I – a real living person – wouldn’t think of it [suing]. Besides, there’s no legal liability I know of for making claims about spirituality. It’s faith-based and out of the realm of earthly law” — and decided instead to make a straw-man argument about the inanities of an atheist suing a Christian over spiritual issues.Have you read the experiences discussed in the links you sent? Even the Catholic experts describing them thought some of them were dubious and in some cases, once investigated, found to be at odds with established facts.Based on your various comments, I think this statement of yours about me: “you tend to judge believers by your standard and based on your personal experience and the experience of atheists alone, without considering the possibility that believers have valid experiences too” is actually more descriptive of your own attitude toward atheists: “you tend to judge ATHEISTS by your standard and based on your personal experience and the experience of BELIEVERS alone, without considering the possibility that ATHEISTS have valid experiences too.” It’s a defense mechanism called projection, taught in basic psychology and it’s not a diagnosis – just an observation.I don’t understand why, after closing further dialogue with me, you wrote a long cut-and-paste post of some of my conversations here. While your “overview” is obviously not a continuation of our dialogue, it seems curious to reproduce parts of my conversations when they are already here for all to see. I do want to thank you for not taking my comments out of context. My first impression after a quick read, is that my thoughts are accurately portrayed in the excerpts you selected. Soja, We’ve had a very vigorous conversation here. I’m sure I’ll see you again in other discussions.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    The following is a cut and paste comment, relevant to the discussion here, from Sam Harris’ thread:BRUCE STERLING: Sam who doesn’t believe in God believes nonetheless in an intangible psychological something called the Buddha Nature-the true inner transcendental self for which there is no empirical evidence. Does the Buddha Nature exist? Sam would say yes and if you want to know it exists you have to experience it directly. The same holds true of God a being vastly more powerful and incorporeal than the transcendental self. God can be known through experience. I know the Buddha Nature and I know God the knowledge of which is the Buddha Nature contemplating its source. POSTED MAY 2, 2007 8:33 AM

  • John Conolley

    Soja,I can’t claim to know much about science, but I do know something about mathematics (B.S., Marshall University, 1976). This is a minor point, but mathematicians do not make calculations that include infinity. In a limit expression, they will use the phrase “approaches infinity,” but that’s technical language. In plain English, it means “increases without limit,” or “becomes arbitrarily large.” No mathematical calculations take place at infinity.”Extrapolaltion is a legitimate method in science whereever such extrapolation is possible. Here we are dealing with physical laws which lends itself to extrapolation.”Extrapolation is a legitimate method, but there are limits. Here’s a quote from the Sci-Tech Encyclopedia:”A process in mathematics used to find the value of a function outside its tabulated values. This is done … by assuming that over a small range of x the function may be closely approximated by a polynomial or some other readily computed function.”Mathematicians take that “small range of x” very seriously, because they know that if they start extrapolating over large ranges, the results will be meaningless. Even over small ranges, the results are only approximate. Astrophysicists obviously don’t take it seriously, because 13 billion years is not a small range in anybody’s camp. Note also that calculating large numbers is duck soup. Understanding large physical systems isn’t.”dealing with physical laws which lends itself to extrapolation.” This is not clear (do you mean “physical laws which lend themselves?” If so, I’ve pointed out that there’s some question on the physical laws. By Einstein, light shouldn’t be able to Doppler shift. Where does that red shift come from? “He is fully transcendent … and also fully imminent…”This is gobbledygook.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    JohnWhen billions of people down the ages, who have no reason to believe in the same concept, have similar experiences, my logic tells me that it is neither an accident nor a coincidence. There is a clearly discernible pattern from which one can draw inferences. The name is unimportant, but the common denominator is God, the first Cause, the Eternal Uncreated Principle.Big Bangers have extrapolated and the scientific community accepts the extrapolation. There must be a valid reason why they do, after all the scientific community doesn’t let scientists off the hook that easily if/when they detect an error in scientific reasoning. You should take your case up with the scientific community that accepts Big Bang.God the transcendent and God the imminent is derived from the faith that God is the creator and the substainer of His creation – the God in whom we live, move and have our being. Mystics explain the gobblegook quite well. You are advised to read them.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    JohnThat was gobbledygook, not gobblegook, although personally I think both mean the same thing.I wish to emphasise that the God concept was not invented by human beings to help Big Bangers with the inevitable question, “What was before the Big Bang? How did the Big Bang come to be?” Neither did the Big Bangers invent the Big Bang theory to give a scientific footing to believers by “sneaking in God” with a gap that is filled by the God concept. From the time man walked the face of the earth, the desire to worship seems to be inherent in human beings, just like a child separated from its mother searches for the mother. The fact that atheists worship Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, science, scientists… some others worship rock stars, beauty queens, Olympic athletes, etc, is proof there is a compulsion to worship something. Believers are simply honest about that need and worship the One who is worthy of all worship.

  • E favorite

    Soja – I understand that you’re no longer talking with me, but I’m still talking with you. You mention mystics – and probably know that many religions have them – and that the mystics of various religions understand each other very well, irrespective of doctrinal differences among their religions. Did you know that Buddhists have mystics? And that Buddhists don’t believe in a creator God? I found a few links, including this one: “As an attempt at explaining the universe, its origin, and man’s situation in his world, the God-idea was found entirely unconvincing by the Buddhist thinkers of old. Through the centuries, Buddhist philosophers have formulated detailed arguments refuting the doctrine of a creator god. It should be of interest to compare these with the ways in which Western philosophers have refuted the theological proofs of the existence of God.”I don’t expect you to respond to this, but did want you to know about it. The scientific community is studying these kinds of experiences, not to try to prove God, but out of a scientific curiosity to understand these kinds experiences. One other comment — when you say, “God the transcendent and God the imminent is derived from the faith that God is the creator and the substainer of His creation – the God in whom we live, move and have our being” I assume you’re stating your beliefs, and not making a statement of fact.

  • John Conolley

    “When billions of people down the ages, who have no reason to believe in the same concept, have similar experiences…”50 billion flies can’t be wrong, either, but, in the words of the poet, “There is some S I will not eat.” (e.e. cummings)

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    JohnThe conclusion that could be drawn from the Big Bang works out in effect to coming at God from an another angle, a scientific angle.Buddhists believe in many many things that lies completely out of the realm of an atheist. Buddhism believes in reincarnation, and a spiritual world… That is why Buddhism is a religion, not a mere philosophy. The fact that they use different vocabulary to describe what is comparable to the God concept in other religions doesn’t make it atheism. Aha, so you are NOT a fly? Hmm…Flies thrive on sh** you know, if that is what they are created to eat. Just do a placebo controlled double blind clinical trial and check out the effect of eating what one is created to eat. Human beings seek God because they are created that way.What e e cummings, the poet wrote proves two things, 1. He is not a fly, so he can’t have known how flies feel about eating sh**, 2. He is a poet and not a biologist. If he were a biologist he would known that he was not a fly. If he were a biologist, he would have studied the effect of sh** on flies, not written about his feelings about what is food for flies. Because he is a poet he mistakes his feelings for biology.It is quite possible that because you are a poet, broccoli may FEEL like sh** to you (a poet may after feel anything). You may even write a poem about it to prove your point and post it here or get it published elsewhere. I’m sure you’d get lots of people who don’t like broccoli to agree with you. But it won’t change the fact that broccoli is good for health.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    E FavouritePlease rest assured that I have no hard feelings at all. I accept you as an atheist with absolutely no problem.Peace!

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    E FavouriteI wish to add that some of the best people I have known/know in my life (in fact have been/are really special)are atheists. I look for the inner beauty of a human being manifest in their actions, and care less about what belief motivates it. I don’t conclude that somebody is bad simply because he/she is an atheist, or somebody is good because he/she is a believer. Believers live with the power and burden of the free will. I wish that belief in God automatically turned us into saints, but it doesn’t. Believers have to work at being good just as much as an atheist does!Om Shanthi, Shanthi, Shanthihi!

  • E favorite

    Soja – I’m glad to see you’re talking with me again. I did not occur to me that the reason you cut off our conversation was that I was a non-believer, but rather that what I was saying had upset you.Like you, I don’t judge people simply on their beliefs, and of course, non-believers also live with the power and burden of free will.

  • John Conolley

    Soja,”Human beings seek God because they are created that way.”It’s true I’m not a fly. I must not be a human being either, because I have never, not once in my life, from first consciousness to now, had any urge to seek God. Not even a lttle one.How do you account for that?

  • John Conolley

    P.S.:e.e. cummings wasn’t writing about flies. He was writing about political oppression. I brought in the flies.

  • John Conolley

    PPS:I assumed you would recognize the cummings reference, but I forgot you were in Australia. cummings, being a thoroughly American poet, is possibly not all that well known there.

  • John Conolley

    ppps:I don’t think I could name a single Australian poet. I know there are some who have names here, but I can’t think of them.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    JohnI responded literally to your post. I have read the “if million flies eat sh**…” being quoted in reference to Islam. I’m not that much into poetry. I have thoroughly enjoyed many poems by Hermann Hesse and Bertold Brecht in the German original. They are not Australians either.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    JohnFaith is so natural to me, that I find atheism a mystery, just as it seems to be the other way around for atheists. I could give you no answer as to why you have not felt no urge to seek God. It is just my guess that you seek deeper meanings in other ways as substitute for God. But I will not go further and make guesses about things I know nothing about.As to reading Australian poems, I don’t know how many poems people would get to read if they restricted themselves to their local poets.Now that I know your name as an American poet, who was unknown to me as an Australian until now, I’d like to read your poetry, and not make the same mistake I did with e e cummings. Could you post a link for your poem on this thread, or let me know how best to get them? That would be lovely!

  • E favorite

    Faith is not a mystery to me. I had faith for many years. The people around me had religious faith, or said they did. The authority figures in my life taught me what my faith should be and that faith was a good thing for my earthly life and necessary for my eternal life. It was comforting to think that I would have a life after this one and that I would once again see deceased loved ones. The beautiful music and ritual and community that accompanied my faith made it very appealing. While I, like other children, eventually lost faith in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy, faith in God was enduring and completely compatible with maturity. It was seen as a sign of strength, goodness and morality.Having faith was easy and completely natural. But when I looked around me in Rome at the center of Christianity’s power and saw that human creativity was responsible for its magnificence, I started investigating the truth of the whole Christian story and found that it too was man made. Gaining this knowledge was exhilarating and has added greatly to my enjoyment and appreciation of life.

  • E favorite

    I want to present an alternative to this thinking: “The fact that atheists worship Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, science, scientists… some others worship rock stars, beauty queens, Olympic athletes, etc, is proof there is a compulsion to worship something. Believers are simply honest about that need and worship the One who is worthy of all worship.”Sorry Soja – it seems like you’re making two rather insulting assertions 1) atheists worship well-known atheist writers 2)atheists are not honest about their need to worship.I’d say atheists ADMIRE the writers you mention, just as they (or you) would admire any writer of great talent who was espousing what they consider to be a very important point of view. Dawkins, when asked, said flat out that he would actively discourage any kind of worship, should it begin to happen. Regarding atheists’ honesty, as you say in a later post, it’s better to “not go further and make guesses about things [you] know nothing about.”

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    PS: I used the word ‘worship’ as a figure of speech.

  • John Conolley

    Soja,I’m glad you like the poem, but I’m sorry I posted it here. Washington Post claims copyright on everything on this board. If I actually get around to selling the poem, I guess I’ll see them in court.There is no link to my poetry, because I haven’t had the gumption to send it out. I have a chapbook, but there’s so much beginner stuff in it I’m not selling it anymore. Right now I’m getting ready to apply for the Emily Dickinson Prize at the Poetry Foundation, but the competition will be fierce. If lightning strikes, however, I’ll have a book out, and I’ll post notice somewhere on this board.

  • Mikki

    5/6/07Mikki writes- The conversation, above, between Soja and others is ‘well-done’- beautiful ! Let us think or meditate with an example- I say- for example, take 2-proteins (in your or mine brain) [we know, cell makes proteins; and the proteins do all the work in a 'body'- be it a 'man' or 'fly'- agree ?] Most of the proteins ‘work’ as if that’s its ‘duty’- a belief. If they do not- body dies- agree ? But, a few while doing the duty ask- why ? Some wants to find an answer, like a ‘Yogi’ or a ‘Scientist’, and others ‘free-will(ers)’, who have no ability to find an answer create ‘phylosophy’ and make argument(s) to confuse the ‘worker(s)’ ! Why ? Insecurity. So, the struggle goes on- at one point the ‘free-will(ers)’ win- cancer grows ! What do you or I do- take a pill to kill the Protein (or the cell) that caused the cancer- of course, both good-bad proteins [the worker, yogi, scientist & 'free-willer'] or cells will be destroyed in the process- ‘Siva’ in action ! If the body servives all this (before the ‘free-willers’ multiply and kill the body), then, good proteins or cells are re-created- ‘Vishnu’ in action ! Let us give respect to our ‘Ancients’ ! Buddha and Jesus [if they existed, as we are told], both of them tried to educate the ‘free-willers’ in a language that can be understood- in other words, set few ‘principles’ to follow and do ‘The Duty’ (and not think of ‘God’, because not every-one has that ability). Any Qs on this ? I may not have the answers- but, please ask if confused ! Mikki

  • Mr Mark

    Soja writes:”The fact that atheists worship Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, science, scientists… some others worship rock stars, beauty queens, Olympic athletes, etc, is proof there is a compulsion to worship something. Believers are simply honest about that need and worship the One who is worthy of all worship.”Soja, you really must stop assigning the idiocies of religious belief to atheists.I know not a single atheist who worships anyone or anything. Worship is strictly a religious concept, and atheism isn’t a religion. I would imagine that to YOU, religion fits the dictionary definition: “reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power; also : an act of expressing such reverence; a form of religious practice with its creed and ritual.” Your stating that atheists worship people actually denigrates your own concept of what worship is. Atheists may admire certain people, but worship? We don’t even worship people to the extent that certain people “worship” money.Personally, I don’t believe in the concept of worship.You need a new prism with which to view atheism. The one you’re using today is clearly limited in its ability to view a wider spectrum.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    JohnBefore you take Washington Post to court, please remember YOU posted your poem on one of the threads of On Faith Forum of Washington Post, knowing full well that The Post claims copyright on everything posted on their discussion board. I cut and pasted your post from another thread on to this thread, that is all. I’m delighted to hear you are getting ready to apply for the Emily Dickinson Prize at the Poetry Foundation. I was about to say a little prayer for you that you may win the award, but I realised you are an atheist who would laugh at the notion of prayer having any effect, so I changed my mind. But then again I thought, what the heck, there is no way I’m going to let atheism decide whether I should pray for an atheist or not, so I changed my mind again, and said a prayer. Please post the details of your book (old and new) on this thread, so that one doesn’t have to go looking for it all over Washington Post.My all time favourite poem thus far(I haven’t read all that many)is Hermann Hesse’s ‘Stufen.’

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    JohnPlease consider the prayer as a heartfelt wish for you to win the prize you covet, no more.

  • John Conolley

    Soja,I doubt there’s going to be any lawsuit, but I didn’t know they claimed copyright. It was after I posted that that I came across a page that described the implicit agreement, and I haven’t been able to find it since. It’s well hidden, which suggests a desire to deceive.

  • John Conolley

    And thanks for the prayer. I appreciate the good will, whether it does any good or not.

  • John Conolley

    Mikki,I’m not sure I understand your train of thought, but I think you carry analogy way too far. I don’t see the analogy between cancer and free will, nor between a cell and a galaxy.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    To John ConolleyGod and PoetryYour religion is rubbish, So? What makes you such a fool? queried I, I have God and poetry in this life;© Soja John Thaikattil 2007

  • John Conolley

    Not bad.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    Sorry, Mark, but NOT believing in God is all about having reasons. They’re just not very good reasons.

  • E favorite

    Soja – it looks like you’re turning Mr Mark’s comment back on him, the way I did to you.I don’t think it works very well, in this case.Regarding your prayer for John C – I’m glad you changed it to a heartfelt wish. I feel better knowing you won’t be giving God any of the credit if John wins.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    E FavouriteMy prayer for John was genuine. I asked him, as an atheist, to consider it no more than a heartfelt wish. Believers, as far I know are taught to do everything in their power and leave only the results to God. God does not send angels to do what human beings have been given the ability to do – by HIM. I think the spiritual role is to give guidance in the choices human beings make. The more advanced one is along the spiritual path, the more one learns to leave the results of one’s efforts to God, thus saving one from the burden of arrogance or the pain of disappointment.

  • Mr Mark

    Dear Soja -You are correct that atheism is about having reasons. You are incorrect in saying that these are not good reasons. It’s very simple: atheists use the same criteria to evaluate everything in the world. If something is illogical, irrational or outright disproven, if generates a certain response, whether the subject is science or religion…or anything else.The religonist doesn’t think that way. Like the atheist, the religionist goes through life demanding that logic and reason apply to everything – their mortgage, their car, their kid’s schooling – EXCEPT when it comes to their faith, which is given a pass on logic and reason.BTW – I recommend Christopher Hitchens’ latest book to one and all (“God Is Not Great – How Religion Poisons Everything”). It’s a brilliant effort and an easy read…and, it may actually change a few minds.

  • Mikki

    5/7/07John says- “I’m not sure I understand your train of thought, but I think you carry analogy way too far. I don’t see the analogy between cancer and free will, nor between a cell and a galaxy.” Dear Brother- Let us Think: ‘the protein in your or mine or fly’s body does not really know whom it is serving- but, it keeps doing its duty as long as it lives- except the one with ‘free-will’ (as Eintstein said or I agreed)’. Assume ‘our ancients’ are correct, and all the living-entities or ‘body’ (you, I, the fly and the Earth, Sun etc..) are part of a ‘Body’ (let us call it the ‘God’)- if so, what do you think the ‘body’ is doing ? Do’t you see each ‘body’ is doing some-act, whether you agree it is good or bad ? If so, Why or How? And, do you see any difference in the ‘Principal’ Force or Power in Driving this ALL- ‘protein-cell body to Galaxy-Body’ Ancients inform us- The Body is a ‘Tree’- I have no idea ! If that’s correct, All we sense must be protein-cell of a God-Tree; in fact, you and I cannot servive without tree making the required oxigen- correct. Let me stop here- it is a simple but long story !Mikki

  • E favorite

    Mr MarkI hadn’t thought of Harris that way, but guess I agree. Harris had the first book out and it had a strong positive effective on me. It made so much more sense than anything I’d read or heard about religion (not that I’d was very well informed). Regarding Hitchens on circumcision – I see your point. My experience, as someone raised Christian, is that it’s totally non-religious, done in the hospital by a doc, like any other procedure after birth, and that there is now evidence that it is protective against the spread of AIDS. Hitchens doesn’t mention the AIDS connection (unless I missed it – I’m often reading as I’m dropping off to sleep). At any rate, it’s towards the end of the book.

  • Mr Mark

    E Fav -Like you, I read Harris first (End of Faith). I found the opening chapters enthralling, the middle muddled, and the ending a mixed bag. I re-read that book after a year had passed and was more receptive to the middle. I then read TGD (twice), LTOXN and Dennett’s Spell.If I were to recommend a book or books to those interested, I would recommend Dawkins followed by Hitchens. I have always felt that Harris’ books are flirting too often with insult. Even Hitchens – who uses words like stupidity quite freely – is never really insulting. You get more flies with honey than vinegar (it says so in Leviticus…not really), and I think Harris is too heavy on the vinegar.Of course, my infatuations with this one or the other could change if I re-read these books yet again. My old music teacher used to tell this joke: “What is your favorite Brahms symphony?” Answer: “The last one you heard.” Sometimes literature can have the same effect.

  • Mr Mark

    E Fav -One more thought on Hitchens’ latest: the real strength of his book is his uncompromising stance that it is intellectually dishonest to not contemplate the other side of religion’s proverbial coin. This is how the religionists ply their stock in trade – by pointing out the “good” things abut religion (and religious personages) while ignoring or failing to acknowledge the absurdities and evils of the same.Unless religionists are willing (and they never will be) to sit in abject silence, then the intellectually honest must continue to come back at them with, “yes, but…” After all, it is the religionists who open the dialogue with their claims about their gods. Whether it is on the factual or philosophical level, we as non-believers must confront them with the alternatives. Hitchens’ book is very much a philosophical dismantling of the religious pseudo-arguments. I really enjoyed his “cut the crap” approach.

  • E favorite

    Mr Mark – Well, I’m going off to bed, here on the east coast, so will catch a bit of Hitchens before I drop off.meanwhile, here’s a link to the best newspaper article I’ve read on Atheism:

  • John Conolley

    Mikki:”Assume ‘our ancients’ are correct, and all the living-entities or ‘body’ (you, I, the fly and the Earth, Sun etc..) are part of a ‘Body’ (let us call it the ‘God’)”I assumed that until I was fifteen. Now I’m over it. We know an awful lot more than the ancients did, and I feel better working with modern knowledge than working with the shots-in-the-dark of the ancients. God may be the light, but if I want to read, I flip a switch.

  • John Conolley

    Re Sam Harris:I haven’t read Hitchens or Dawkins. I just finished Dennett, and I’ve read Letter to a Christian Nation. I agree Harris isn’t as deep as Dennett, but someone needed to say what Harris said the way he said it. There wasn’t much new to me, but it was heartening, and I think it will be a big help to young people who are questioning their indoctrination. And the Christians needed to hear it. Someone needed to tell it to them straight and brutal. They need to know we’re out here and we mean it. Now that Harris has said it, we can shilly-shally around with Dennett.

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    Fundamental Evangelical Atheism – is that the new religion?

  • E favorite

    Here’s an excerpt from “Those fanatical Atheists” the article I mentioned above, by Dan Gardner of the Ottawa Citizen:“If you claim that something is true, I will examine the evidence which supports your claim; if you have no evidence, I will not accept that what you say is true and I will think you a foolish and gullible person for believing it so.That’s it. That’s the whole, crazy, fanatical package.When the Pope says that a few words and some hand-waving causes a cracker to transform into the flesh of a 2,000-year-old man, Dawkins and his fellow travellers say, well, prove it. It should be simple. Swab the Host and do a DNA analysis. If you don’t, we will give your claim no more respect than we give to those who say they see the future in crystal balls or bend spoons with their minds or become werewolves at each full moon.And for this, it is Dawkins, not the Pope, who is labelled the unreasonable fanatic on par with faith-saturated madmen who sacrifice children to an invisible spirit.”

  • Mikki

    5/8/07John says- “I assumed that until I was fifteen. Now I’m over it. We know an awful lot more than the ancients did, and I feel better working with modern knowledge than working with the shots-in-the-dark of the ancients. God may be the light, but if I want to read, I flip a switch.”Mikki’s response- I will have no problem with that, because, I cannot prove and I am aware ‘all is Maya’- be assured (for example, if Abraham is real), we (I mean next generations) will re-discover the ‘Truth’ before next destruction to re-believe in Abraham’s worship of ‘Rock’, ‘Tree’ and willingness to sacrifice (his own son, instead sacrificed a goat- by the way, why do you think the sacrifice of life is going on, every where, including in Iraq ?). To put it bluntly, all so called living-entities on this Earth are NO more than Protein or Crop to ‘Brahman’, the Almighty- like farmer, few seeds are saved at the end of each destruction and, here we go again, with Birth-Discovery-Death ‘Cycle’- what seem to be Eternal to us !Mikki

  • Ann O.

    E. FAVORITE tells us: When the Pope says that a few words and some hand-waving causes a cracker to transform into the flesh of a 2,000-year-old man, Dawkins and his fellow travellers say, well, prove it. It should be simple. Swab the Host and do a DNA analysis. If you don’t, we will give your claim no more respect than we give to those who say they see the future in crystal balls or bend spoons with their minds or become werewolves at each full moon.And for this, it is Dawkins, not the Pope, who is labelled the unreasonable fanatic on par with faith-saturated madmen who sacrifice children to an invisible spirit.”ANN O. replies: “Prove it” is Dawkins’ mantra. But Dawkins’ assumptions about science’s own foundations are quite naive. First, he assumes that there is only one sort of evidence — scientific, empirical evidence (i.e., primary data consisting of measurable realities). Second, he assumes that scientific method itself is not a matter of faith. But it is.Anyone who has read Hume can see that scientific method itself is founded on the *belief* that there is an external world, that there is causality and that there are other scientists out there. None of these beliefs can be proven to a strict empiricist’s criteria. Scientific method is founded on the belief that the relationships among primary empirical data are NOT empirical data themselves (I mean you cannot see, hear, feel, touch, or taste causality, or “agency” as philosophers call it these days). In other words, scientific explanations of the patterned empirical data are themselves non=scientific data founded on belief only. Kant hypothesized that it is the mind itself which supplies these non-empirical relationships, not “the external world”. Hume finally concluded that there is no mind in the first place, but he later admitted that he himself didn’t know how to avoid his own conclusions, so he largely just ignored them. So much for the foundations of empirical science. Sheesh.The first assumption (that there are religious, spiritual events) cannot be argued — either you have had religious experiences or you haven’t. But this does not imply that there is no such reality. Neither can it be *proven* that there are other minds which do or don’t have such experiences. The existence of other minds is another assumptions of the scientific community, one which requires *belief* because there is no conclusive empirical evidence for other minds — that is, there is no empirical evidence which proves that other scientists exist. So the acceptance of the conclusions of other scientists (if they exist) is also a matter of belief, not proof.Dawkins is pitifully ignorant not only of religion but of the philosophical foundations of science. He doesn’t even realize that he can’t *prove* that the Pope (or E. Favorite for that matter:-) exists. Nor DNA.

  • Mr Mark

    Dear Ann O -Which books by Dawkins have you read?Thanks in advance for the info.

  • Mr Mark

    Dear Ann O -I was going to respond to your post of May 8, 2007 at 12:00 PM, but I found it impossible to prove that you actually posted anything on May 8, 2007 at 12:00 PM…or at any other time, for that matter. ;)

  • E favorite

    Hello Ann O – I just want to set the record straight — I was quoting an article from the Ottawa Citizen written by Dan Gardner. I mentioned it twice and put quotes around the excerpt.Some things can be proved scientifically, like whether saying certain words over a cracker can change it into human flesh. When the church first set up that belief, there was no way to test it – now we have DNA testing. It’s gotten a lot of people out of jail for rape convictions and now can prevent any future innocent people from being convicted of rape in the first place. I wish God, if there were a God, had thought of it a lot sooner.Meanwhile, priests may scoff at DNA testing for communion hosts, but I bet they wouldn’t turn it down if they were falsely accused of rape.

  • Ann O.

    Hi, E. Favorite,Sorry I misinterpreted who said what in your post.Apparently I haven’t gotten my main point across, and it is a purely philosophical one, not a religious one. A philosopher named David Hume showed very clearly that the data of science cannot yield scientific knowledge — knowledge of causes of physical events. How did he reach this skeptical conclusion about science? Because he assumed that only empirical knowledge is possible. (Empirical knowledge is knowledge of colors, shapes, textures, sounds, odors.) Hume also showed that you cannot *prove* anything about the external world, and you cannot even *prove* that there *IS* a world external to your thoughts. Not only that, you cannot prove THAT THERE IS A YOU! Hume, of course, was not willling to accept his own conclusions, but he didn’t know how to get out of them. So he and all the empiricists who have followed him have based their “scientific” knowledge on the beliefs that there is causality, there is an external world, and there is a self and other scientists. Philosophers of science are still trying to establish a more sound basis for the claims of science, but these days more and more philosophers of science have been very Humean and said “I don’t know how to get out of these conclusions”, so I’ll just ignore them.”Check out any good history of philosophy or introduction to philosophy that includes the empiricist tradition. I think you’ll find that what I’m saying is true. I recommend R.C. Solomon’s Introduction to Philosophy. He’s at the U. of Texas, and so far as I know, he’s not a believer.Conclusion: scientists who disdain belief don’t seem to understand that both science and religion are based on belief. I’m not a theologian either, but I do know a little theology. And so far as I know the Catholic Church does not claim that the appearances of the host are anything like ordinary bodily appearances nor that the host operates according to all the laws of physics. That’s why the Mass is called miraculous.If there were *only( physical things, and if suspensions of the laws of physics were impossible (in other words, if miracles were impossible), then of course, then certainly the argument about testing the host for DNA would be a relevant. But the Church is not claiming that all of the ordinary laws and appearances are operative in the host. The Church claims a miracle is involved. Whether or not there is, is a different issue, one involving different sorts of beliefs with different sorts of evidence from the purely empirical. So, of course, if a priest were accused falsely of rape he would no doubt call for DNA testing.Sorry to go on at such lenghts, but you raise important but complex issues.

  • E Favorite

    Hi, Ann O – Well, it’s all pretty vague and I’m afraid I may be one-glass-of-wine-too-many to be completely cogent on the subject, but it seems once miracles are involved, anything goes. I say this as one who was raised Catholic, recalling that “it’s a mystery” and “it’s a miracle” explained anything that was otherwise inexplicable. It was also a great conversation stopper.I also recall that transubstantiation was presented as plain-and-simple changing of a wafer into the body and blood of Christ. Maybe the nuns and priests were exaggerating or way off base, but that’s what they told us. I’m sure of it. We were taught to treat the host with the utmost respect (no chewing, just melting in your mouth) and were told stories of a bad boy who put the host in his back pocket and it started bleeding into his trousers. I realize this could be the work of one unfettered, deranged nun, but still, it left the distinct impression that the host was indeed the body and blood of Christ that was not to be messed with. Now, I didn’t personally believe the part about the bloody trousers (we all have our limits), but I thought “the church” did. Irrespective of whatever failings scientists might have, the whole idea of turning bread and wine into body and blood is just too wacky for me to waste much time thinking about. This is the type of belief I can’t respect (even though I once believed it myself). I think the church calls it miraculous as a way of stopping further conversation about it – and letting everyone feel that they’ve witnessed the presence of God.

  • Ann O.

    Hi again, E.,Yes, I think you have it right about changing the water and wine into the body of Christ — but the usual teaching also adds that the *appearances* of the bread and wine are miraculously retained. And yes, utmost reverence would be a natural requirement if you think that you have received the Lord in a most intimate way.As for the boy with the bleeding host in his back pocket, I can only shake my head at the nonsense that some nuns palmed off on kids. Sheesh. I had one nun in high school who told such a whopper that my parents sent me to a different school the next year. Really ridiculous.Of course, for many people the notion that Jesus could become present again is also ridiculous. And, yes, there needs be some very strong evidence to make us believe that it is so. But, as I said, different people are convinced by different sorts of evidence. Some people need many sorts of evidence, and yes, some are gullible.You say, “I think the church calls it miraculous as a way of stopping further conversation about it – and letting everyone feel that they’ve witnessed the presence of God. ” I say that the Church says it’s miraculous because it goes against the ordinary laws of nature. The question then becomes: why would God suspend His own laws? That gets us into the heart of the matter: who was Jesus? If He was God, why did He come? Why does He re-present Himself in the Eucharist? Even more fundamentally, what evidence is there that He is God and why would God care about us enought to live the life that Jesus did? Those are some more of those terribly important and not-simple issues.Ann O.

  • John Conolley

    Ann O.:It’s been too long since I’ve read Hume to get into an argument about it, but I can tell you this: Asking someone to prove the external world exists is bad philosophy. You’re asking a body to question the evidence of his senses, and if you’re going to do that, you’re the one who needs to come up with proof. If I can see it, hear it, feel it, touch it, taste it, catch my balance in it, locate my body parts in it, I’m going to believe it, unless you can give me a very good reason not to. It’s one thing to assert that the burden of the proof is on the positive, but if you deny all reality and all evidence of my senses, then ask me to try to prove something, you need to tell me where to stand while I’m doing it. You can’t take away all context of proof and then ask for proof.

  • John Conolley

    Oh, I forgot to mention Kant. Kant wasn’t trying to establish a context for science. He was trying to save religion in the face of enlightenment. That was anti-science. Don’t be surprised if his case doesn’t support science. In any case, it’s very bad philosphy indeed.

  • E favorite

    Ann O, you say: “… the Church says it’s miraculous because it goes against the ordinary laws of nature.”Agreed — and it stops conversation, or at least limits it – among believers – because there’s not much more to say about something that doesn’t fit everything else you know to be true but that you still accept.Then you say: “The question then becomes: why would God suspend His own laws?”Not for me, because that assumes belief that there are miracles and that the church can determine them. For me, the question becomes, “Why would the church concoct this and call it a miracle?” And the answers have everything to do with human control and power.

  • Ann O.

    E. FAVORITE tells us: Then you say: “The question then becomes: why would God suspend His own laws?”Not for me, because that assumes belief that there are miracles and that the church can determine them. For me, the question becomes, “Why would the church concoct this and call it a miracle?” And the answers have everything to do with human control and power.ANN O. replies: There’s the rub. Is the Church just a control structure, or does it’s message go back into history to Jesus/God and is it corroborated by grace to individuals even now? My experience tells me it’s the latter. As I say, I don’t know much theology — I’ve just gotten into it in my old age. But I’m extremelly impressed with N.T. Wright’s huge work on the beliefs of the early Christians — as I read it, it eliminates the notion that Church beliefs are just something the priests made up to exercise power over us. And in my life the teachings have been corroborated by various graces when I need them. Also, I didn’t grow up under a bishop who was out for power. Archbishop Rummel, my childhood and young adulthood bishop, was a saintly champion for the black people. He even excommunicated a couple of people publicly over the matter and he took a great deal of personal vilification for it all. He was loudly preaching the love of neighbor and justice for *all* even back in the 1930′s when nobody else was doing it except maybe Elinor Roosevelt, Pres. Roosevelt’s wife. Sure, others were for integration, but nobody that I know of except Mrs. Roosevelt spoke out so loud and clear and took such vicious criticism as they did.I’m sure having had such a bishop had a lot to do with my attitude towards the clergy. Plus, later in my life, a friend of my parents spoke up loudly in the Vatical II council in favor of freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. The proposed document did pass, and it’s one of the great accomplishments of VII. Sadly, not too many Americans have known such great priests. I was extremely fortunate that I did.

  • Mr Mark

    MARK wrote: In response, ANN wrote: “You’re name-calling now, Mark. I don’t play that game.”Jesus said: “”Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”I mention that, because earlier in this thread, Ann O said:”Dawkins is pitifully ignorant not only of religion but of the philosophical foundations of science.”If – by your standards – my saying that you were, “talking through your hat,” qualifies as “name calling,” then I think that your words against Dawkins also qualify as name calling.Ann wrote: “You next refer to my speaking of Kant and a hypothesis. I don’t recall what you’re referring to.”As far as Kant “hypothesizing: on May 8 @ 12pm, AnnO wrote:”Kant hypothesized that it is the mind itself which supplies these non-empirical relationships, not “the external world””

  • Daniel

    Wow, I am a little suprised to come back to this forum after a few days, and see how it has wound down to wondering if we exist or not. I don’t think most people worry about their own existence ahead of God’s existence. It is just an intellectual excercise, not a source of true angst.We have impressions of order in the world. Regarding the nature of this order, all is speculation. Some people say, that it points straight and true, to intelligent design, and God. But it does not. It merely enables speculation. For the most part, that is what all of this is.

  • E favorite

    Hi, Ann O — You say, “Is the Church just a control structure, or does its message go back into history to Jesus/God and is it corroborated by grace to individuals even now?”I say it’s not an either/or. The church is a control structure, but not “just” a control structure. It does many good things and probably many things not directly related to control, but it still is heavily into control.As to its message going back to Jesus/God, of course there’s no way to know in terms of proof. Thinking in terms of being “corroborated by grace” – again there’s no way to know. The fact that grace exists does not mean that it’s a product of the Church. Regarding Mr Mark getting into name calling – maybe “talking out of your hat” was a bit harsh – but it’s not technically name calling – I mean, he didn’t call you a “Hat talker” – not your typical derisive epithet, at any rate.

  • Ann O.

    Hello again, E. Favorite.I agree that there are control freaks in the very intricate structures of the Church (and some people say there were nuns who were awful control freaks. Fortunately, I didn’t have to deal with them in grammar or high school, but I knew a couple later. Sadly, because there is a lot of power to be had in the Church, it attracts power freaks, just like police departments attracts sadists. The big difference between the Church and police departments, I think, is that most American police departments are accountable to someone. Bad bishops, sadly, are much, much, much more difficult to get rid of than rotten cops. This is why so many of us American Catholics support Voice of the Faithful, a organization that is pushing for transparency and accountability in the hierarchy. It’s long overdue.True, there’s no way to check out the origin of that spiritual power (grace) that appears when needed. All I can say is that I have no reason to think that I myself am the source. Sometimess — no often — I don’t even *want* the grace to do good. I’d rather go on my selfish way :-) You say that just because grace exists that’s no reason to say it’s the product of the Church. I agree that some isn’t, but some is. I’m think of the Mass. And I doubt that I’m alone — surveys of American Catholcs regularly show that the Mass is at the heart of our faith — our beliefs and hopes and goals. And Mass so often is where we feel the grace becomes apparent. Yes, this is “mystical” talk, if you will, but it is apparently the experience of many Catholics. Mass certainly isn’t the only source of grace (or, should I say where we become more conscious of its reality?) There are the other sacraments and just sheer gives of God when He wants us to have them.Complexity, complexity. And, on the other hand, some people’s experience of the spiritual dimension and of grace is quite simple. Takes all kinds . . .Thanks for being a peace-maker. I just don’t think insults, even little ones, are conducive to dialogue. (Insults come in all parts of speech.) ISTM that for some bloggers trading insults gets to be a game — the biggest insult wins the prize. I just don’t want to play.

  • Mikki

    5/9/07Ann says- “And Mass so often is where we feel the grace becomes apparent. Yes, this is “mystical” talk,.. but it is apparently the experience of many Catholics.. Mass certainly isn’t the only source of grace (or, should I say where we become more conscious of its reality?) There are the other sacraments and just sheer gives of God when He wants us to have them.”Mikki- I must agree with Ann (although I am not sure, if any-one of us know How or Why ?)- I hate to bring ‘protein’ into play here (because, no one, yet, picked-up on my concept that there exist a direct relationship between ‘protein-cell’ and ‘body-galaxy’ etc..)- we know protein gets its power from cell as if cell is the god of protein- if so, what is strange in body getting power from ‘sun’ and or ‘galaxy’- are not they work as a unit like protein and cell ? By the way God is not He- it can be both, He and She: The followers of Abraham or Jew, the ‘free-will(ers)’ messed it up the true understanding What is God ?Mikki

  • E favorite

    I’ve always loved the mass – especially in Latin – which you can still hear, when it’s sung, in the Episcopal church. It sounds good, looks good, smells good — and feels good.Ritual is very important, I think for people – intrinisic, really to our existence. We need it and create it where it doesn’t already exist. I’d like to see the mass, or something like it, survive the the demise of supernatural beliefs.

  • JOhn conolley

    Ann O:”do sensations represent a world external to our thoughts? Hume has argued (I think powerfully) that we can never be sure that they do — we have no proof that they do.”We don’t need proof that they do. We can see that they do. You’re the one (along with Hume) questioning the self-evident. If you’re going to question the self-evident, you’re the one called upon to provide proof. Denying everything is easy, and worthless. It isn’t philosophy, it’s sophmoric self inflation. Unless you have a case to make.I went down the denial-of-existence road when I was fifteen. Another fifteen year old made this cogent–and obvious–argument: are you going to step in front of a speeding truck because you’re not sure it’s there? Of course you aren’t. You know damned well it’s there.Don’t bother with the simple logical arguments against this point. I’m aware of them. I’m also aware of the undeniable immediacy of that truck.

  • Ann O.

    JOHN CONNOLLEY quotes Ann O. and responds: Ann O:”do sensations represent a world external to our thoughts? Hume has argued (I think powerfully) that we can never be sure that they do — we have no proof that they do.”We don’t need proof that they do. We can see that they do. You’re the one (along with Hume) questioning the self-evident. If you’re going to question the self-evident, you’re the one called upon to provide proof. Denying everything is easy, and worthless. It isn’t philosophy, it’s sophmoric self inflation. Unless you have a case to make.ANN O. reponds: There are several issues here. First, I most certainly do NOT deny everything. Not only is it not “easy” as you say, but it is impossible. (See Descarates.) The basic case I’m trying to make is that all of us base our worldviews on belief at least to some extent — including the scientists. And scientists, like the rest of us, do not have any self-evidence of things external to our minds. Here is Hume’s argument about sensations and the external world. Sensations are said (by the Aristotelian philosophers) to be representations of the things in the external world. Consider, for instance, that when you put stick in water it *seems* to bend. But there is other evidence (our sensations of touching the stick) that show it has not bent. So our sight sensation is NOT the stick, it is only only a *bad* representation, a copy of the stick.Here comes the big question (and, yes, I’m asking questions — and why not????): if what we know is just a copy of the stick, not the thing-itself, then do why say there is something else besides the stick? How do we *know* that it is a *copy*? You can *say* that it’s not a copy, it’s the thing itself, but ask yourself this: how come you know only *half* of what you call the stick at any one time? You have a sensation only of the part facing you. We think of the moon as having two sides. Well, if we know “the moon-out-there” how come what we know is not three-dimensional? How come it took the human race many thousands of years to discover what the other side of the-moon-itself looks like? If, as you claim, we know the moon-itself or the stick-itself (not copies), how come we know only half of them????The answer seems to be this: we think the stick is 3-D is because we add up all of our *images* of it as we turn it around, all our *copies* of it, then call that complex object “the stick”. In other words, the 3-D objects in consciousness are constructed by us — they’re made-up objects.Sure, this all goes against common sense. But common sense is *itself* a made up theory of what we know. Common sense doesn’t ask such fundamental questions. Does this destroy religion? Of course, not. I DO know the content of my consciousness, whether or not it is a copy of the external world. And I can know that we experience content which doesn’t seem to be “me” — including the grace of God. And I can go on from there to construct *hypotheses* about why there is any content in consciousness at all. What I seem to do is to construct a whole mental world to explain where sensations come from , a world which can explain the order in all this mental content. In other words, I have *warranted* belief that there is an external world, and my later experience corroborates it — for the most part, but not always. That’s when I have to revise the world I believe it there.And the same thing is true of Dawkins’ world — he only *believes* that it exists. And that was the point I was getting at.Ann O.

  • Ann O.

    Hi, Mikki,I like your analogy of physical energy and spiritual energy. Yes, I think God does transmit spiritual energy to us.Yes, God includes all the perfections of His creatures, including maleness and femaleness. Unfortunately, there isn’t a pronoun for such beings in English. Ann O.

  • John Conolley

    Ann O:”Consider, for instance, that when you put stick in water it *seems* to bend. But there is other evidence (our sensations of touching the stick) that show it has not bent. So our sight sensation is NOT the stick, it is only only a *bad* representation, a copy of the stick.”This is akin to double talk. To say that a sensation is a copy is to add an entity that isn’t there. It’s saying we’re perceiving a copy. We’re not perceiving a copy. We’re perceiving the stick. What we perceive depends upon the thing itself, and it also depends upon our methods of perception. Our eyes, for instance, see by intercepting light. Since light passing through the surface of the water acts differently (bends slightly) than light passing through the air, it’s not remarkable that it arrives differently (slightly offset) at our eyes, or that our eyes detect that and pass it on to the brain. It’s up to the brain to say, oh, yeah, the stick is partly in the water. Further, we only see half the stick because our eyes, not being able to move independently of our heads, can only intercept the light from one side of the stick at a time.In other words, as either Ayn Rand or David Kelley (I forget) put it, our senses are 100% accurate. The problem comes in interpreting the data the senses report. Another example: When I hit 39, I suddenly started having problems reading. The letters in my books seemed blurry. But how could that be? They had been sharp and clear all my life. The proper interpretation wasn’t that something had happened to all the books in the world. The proper interpretation was that the lenses of my eyes had got too thick to be completely controlled by the ciliary muscles, the light wasn’t being properly focused on my retinas… in short, I needed bifocals.There’s no need to add the extraneous concept of a “copy” (where is this copy, exactly?). You merely need to understand that the forms in which we perceive things depends on our methods of perception. But they also depends upon the things perceived. If the stick weren’t there, you couldn’t see it.What about illusions? Simple. Illusions aren’t sense data. They’re cooked up by the brain without the benefit of external data. How do we know when we’re having an illusion? Well, I’ve never been troubled by them, but I would guess that if things happening too you are not consistent with things you’re seeing (hearing, feeling, etc.), or if things you’re seeing are not consistent with the nature of reality as you know it, suspect illusions.Oh, wait. I did have an illusion once. When I was a young man, someone rolled me a joint on a cigarette rolling machine, and I smoked the whole thing. I sat in a chair and had the distinct sensation that the chair was floating to the ceiling. I suspected an illusion because, (A) chairs don’t float, and (B), when I opened my eyes, my feet were still on the floor. So another way to check for illusions might be to crosscheck your senses against one another.

  • Mikki

    5/9/07Ann says- “I like your analogy of physical energy and spiritual energy. Yes, I think God does transmit spiritual energy to us.” Dear Ann- OK (power is ONE- the so called physical energy is simply the power stored in the body for use when one comes back to conscious-stage, after deep-sleep: the power so built make senses (or protein) do the duty properly in awake state- of course, no power to be built in a dead body ! You know, you can sense only in an awake state- do you think one can go into unconscious-state and come out of it whenever ? Or, have you heard ‘Jesus’ did that (& went back to Kashmir, where a German Prof. and a Prof. from New York are hoping to find the ‘Grave’ ?) Is there a way to attract ‘Scientists’ to get involved in this conversation- because, Dawkins and other ‘free-will(ers)’ have done sufficient damage to confuse us during the past 5,000 years. Seriously, do you know who did the most damage ? Guess… if not sure- then may be we should try educating those, first !Mikki

  • John Conolley

    Ann:” The *brain* talks to you? That’s a mighty naive way of explaining perception.”That’s a mighty naive remark. The brain IS me. Where does perception take place, if not in the brain? In point of fact, the brain has many functions that take place in many different parts of it. Most of them are not conscious, and modern brain research says that the only thing the conscious part of the brain does is be conscious. So if by “me” or “you” you mean the conscious part, then, yes, the brain does talk to me. It chucks into consciousness whatever it judges needs to be there. But perception certainly takes place somewhere in the brain. And of course I’ve switched over to discussing perception. Sensation is not all that interesting to talk about.”Then how do you tell the difference between an sensation of a stick “out there” and a dream of a stick or a memory of a stick? How do those sensations of sticks IN THEMSELVES differ?”I have no trouble at all telling the different between seeing a stick and remembering a stick. When I see the stick, it’s right in front of me. When I remember it, it isn’t. As for dreams, it’s pretty hard to distinguish them from reality when you’re asleep and your brain is largely shut down, but when you wake up and your brain is alert, there’s no problem at all. You surely know both these thing from personal experience. You seem to be looking for something to argue about.”Face it, John, the mind makes up our worlds, and if we’re old enough and wise enough we make up a world that is corroborated by future experience.”Ann, “mind” is a mighty slippery concept. Many modern thinkers actually hold that no such thing exists. I’m willing to entertain the hypothesis it does, if you can tell me what you mean by “mind.”As for the mind making up our world, that has the look of an underlying assumption, and I’m not about to “face it.” I challenge it. I hold that the world makes up our… uh… mind. I hold that consciousness with nothing to be conscious of is an impossibility. I further hold that reality is objective, and our perception of reality begins to form when we first begin to sense the world.Hume was brilliant man, but agreeing with him on a rather obvious conclusion doesn’t make me a Humean. Hume’s problem… but I can’t discuss Hume. As I said, it’s been too long.”Oh, come on, John. Our sensations are not 100% accurate. They present things a solid, but as we know (believe, really) from physics they’re mostly blank space in between those electrons and protons, etc. So our lovely solid sensations are not copies of things as they are exactly.”You’re still inserting that nonexistent entity. Sensations are not copies. There are no copies. Forget about blagsnaggin copies. Sensations are reactions of our body and brain to contact with reality. Percepts are the brain’s way of distinguishing entities. As for things not being solid, this is weaseling. As far as our interaction with reality goes, as far as we can directly perceive or handle things, solids are solid. If this solidity is caused by force fields rather than atoms… so what?The problem is, you make everything way, unecessarily complicated. The philospher David Kelley wrote a book on this subject called _Evidence of the Senses_, wherein he gives an overview of previous thought on the subject, then gives his own theory. The overview was so complex and counterintuitive that it just about cracked my brain. Kelley’s theory was beautifully simple and clear. I recommend it.You used to be a philosophy teacher? Is that an assertion of authority? Listen, I used to hang with world class philosophers, and I’m not impressed. Philosophers aren’t all that, let alone teachers of philosophy.

  • Ann O.

    JOHN CONNOLEY tells us: The problem is, you make everything way, unecessarily complicated. The philospher David Kelley wrote a book on this subject called _Evidence of the Senses_, wherein he gives an overview of previous thought on the subject, then gives his own theory. The overview was so complex and counterintuitive that it just about cracked my brain. Kelley’s theory was beautifully simple and clear. I recommend it.ANN O.replies: Well, John if simplicity is how you determine then I doubt we can have a fruitful conversation. There is too much evidence that the assumed world is extraordinarily complex.

  • Mikki

    5/11/07ANN O.replies: “Well, John if simplicity is how you determine then I doubt we can have a fruitful conversation. There is too much evidence that the assumed world is extraordinarily complex.”Mikki- That’s way it appears “complex”- the structure may be complex, but, the Principle is ‘simple’ if one knew how to concentrate mind- that’s what a ‘yogi’ or a scientist must do to get to where he/she wants to go ? Do any one know or think- why all this complex structure or for what purpose ?Mikki

  • John Conolley

    Ann,” Well, John if simplicity is how you determine then I doubt we can have a fruitful conversation. There is too much evidence that the assumed world is extraordinarily complex.”This is your idea of a philosophical argument? If something can be explained simply, it can be explained simply. The complexity of the world is irrelevant. You will find that a little abstract thinking simplifies many complicated things. But if you’re going to reject a book without knowing what it says, on the grounds that it finds a simple way through the complexity, you’re not interested in fruitful conversation. And if you insist that everything has to be complicated, you’ll never understand anything.

  • Ann O.

    Hi again, John, I wasn’t arguing — I was just telling you why I don’t think our discussion will go anywhere. Simple explanations of complex realities are worthless. Neither do I reject simple explanations because they’re simple.In fact, I ordered the Kelley book yesterday. But not because it simplifies things that are complex.Over-simplified conversations are not fruitful.Ann O.

  • John Conolley

    Refusing to see simple explanations so that you will look philosophical is not fruitful either.

  • Ann O.

    I haven’t refused to see any simple explanations, John. What I refuse to do is to accept an explanation *because* it’s simple. Ann O.

  • John Conolley

    “Simple explanations of complex realities are worthless.”That seems to be pretty straightforward.I can’t help noticing you ignored my whole huge post (May 10, 2007 10:49 PM) and latched on to the “simplicity” thing. Is that because the rest of the post was unanswerable?

  • Ann O.

    Hi again, John,I didn’t answer the rest of your whole big post because you indicate at the bottom that you look for simple answers above all. That shows a certain closed-mindedness. So why continue?Ann O.

  • E favorite

    But you do continue, Ann O. Here’s my theory: you want to have the last word. You think you might not get it if you respond directly to the content of John C’s remarks, so instead, you cut off conversation with a negative comment about his style.It’s just a theory.I’d love to see you respond to his remarks and will check back here to see if you do.

  • John Conolley

    Ann O.:I realize in retrospect that my last post was very rude. I apologize.

  • Ann O.

    Hi again, John,Oh, we all get excited about our ideas at times. Please don’t fret about it :-)Ann O.

  • John Conolley

    Thanks.

  • ro368ck

    m430k

  • Larry Forsley

    Dear Walter:Thank you! Your’s is a most eloquent and concise exposition on Einstein’s view of God. I have long believed that our appreciation of the mysterious, or numinous, and our joy in its revelation underlies all creativeness: of scientists, artists, all of us; and is fundamental to religion. In this moment we are in, and feel the presence of, God. Where else would this deep creative insight come from? It is as if in a flash, we joyously perceive, or receive, something real, complete, whole, solely within our mind, fully within our soul, yet momentarily transcending us completely. Yet, while this realization, appreciation and connection makes us most human, it leaves open the nature of “God”.Larry Forsley

  • Venkatram Shrinivas

    I hold Dr.Eintein in very high esteem. I will never for his following words:I cherish the above quotation, which was passed on to me by my friend Mr. K.R. Athmnathan, former Personal Secretary to the immortal M.S.Subbalakshmi, One of M.S.`s Gurus the famous Dilip Kumar Roy had cited the above quotation of Einstein in one of his letters to her.

  • Venkatram Shrinivas

    I hold Dr.Eintein in very high esteem. I will never for his following words:I cherish the above quotation, which was passed on to me by my friend Mr. K.R. Athmnathan, former Personal Secretary to the immortal M.S.Subbalakshmi, One of M.S.`s Gurus the famous Dilip Kumar Roy had cited the above quotation of Einstein in one of his letters to her.

  • Venkatram Shrinivas

    I keep remembering the following words of Einstein