Date: Mon, 21 Jul 2003 20:34:39 -0700
From: ;
To: ;
Subject: how can u be so ignorent?

Hi, I am a christian researching on how people could possibly be atheists.  I want to know the real reason why you dont beleive in God or Jesus or the Bible or anything like that.  I have something to say about science, Its never been proven, there is no way to prove how the earth and the universe came to be accept God, a creator.  The "Big Bang" would have been impossible.  There is no way there was a large mass of matter floating around in space.  Where would that stuff come from may i ask?  Well when your done denying the truth that there is a God that loves you whether you like it or not, e mail me back at : ihaterunning@msn.com Thanx [sic.]


Date: Tue Jul 22 03:09:38 2003
From: ;
To: ;
Subject: Re: how can u be so ignorent?

Hello Chris,

Your statement above suggests that you do not understand the mechanics of the "big bang" theory.  In "the beginning" there was no mass, nor a space for it to be in, nor any time, because matter, space, and time were all created in the same theorized event that we call "the big bang".  Some very intelligent scientists believe that the "big bang" was God's method of creating the universe.  The "big bang" is a theorized event in which matter, space, and time all began together.  It was the beginning of time; it was the beginning of space; and it was the beginning of matter. The "big bang" theory does not explain this eventIt only DESCRIBES it as the predecessor of our observations extrapolated backwards in time, using highly advanced mathematical techniques.  Because the event itself is not explained by the theory, you, and everyone else are free to attach any "non-scientific" belief to explain it.  For me, the explanation is in a poetic pun I wrote years ago.

         In the beginning was nothing.
         This had no lasting qualities.

I spent 20 years defending the right of others to believe differently from me (and my right to believe differently from others).  Are you capable of respecting that right?

If you just seek some understanding of how others might believe differently from you, that is one thing.  But if your "real" purpose is to try to make them believe as you do, then you will be guilty of exactly what is the major cause of wars on this planet today.  The fanatical believers of major religions are attempting to wipe out those they cannot convert.  It's the extremely fundamental believer who takes it upon himself to try to convert those who have a right to believe differently.  In one word - intolerance.  These believers are extremely intolerant of those that believe differently.  It actually casts doubt on their belief - are they so insecure in their belief that they cannot tolerate others who believe differently?

You might not know this, but you are offering something that is a little like what is know in the philosophy of religion as the "first cause" argument for the existence of God.

It goes something like this:

  1. Everything is caused by something other than itself.
  2. Therefore the universe was caused by something other than itself.
  3. The string of causes cannot be infinitely long.
  4. If the string of causes cannot be infinitely long, there must be a first cause.
  5. Therefore, there must be a first cause, namely god.

But that argument is self refuting.  Read about  it with much more explanation in the article entitled "The 'Big Bang' Argument for the Existence of God (1998*)" at URL http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/theodore_schick/bigbang.html, unless, of course, your real purpose is not to understand, but to convince.

Your argument has the following form.

 It[']s never been proven, there is no way to prove[,] how the earth and the universe came to be [except] God, [the] creator. [My corrections.]
(If you say "a creator", then you allow for many gods.)

This needs to be put into some kind of logical argument statements.

  1. It has never been proven how the earth and the universe came to be.
  2. If something has never been proven, then there is no way to prove it.
  3. If there is no way to prove something, then it cannot be proven.
  4. If how something came to be cannot be proven, then it must have been created by God.

1. Because it has not been proven today, does not mean it might not be proven (either way) in the future, so #1 is false to begin with.

2.  #2 is false, because it says that if it has not been proven, it never will, and we have lots of cases where things were just not proven up until, suddenly, somebody figured out how, and they were proven.  If #2 were true, we never would have made any technological, scientific, or any other kind of advancement.  If #2 were true, then learning would be impossible, and, since we know that learning is possible, then #2 is false.

3. No question about this.

4. This one needs some unpacking:

Now, 4a is accepted by many people, but not all, and 4b seems pretty obvious.  4c., on the other hand, has it doubters, but we'll let it stand. 4d. begs the question by assuming that God exists, so the argument is flawed here too.  4e. is clearly false, because, as we have shown before, time and time again, things that were not proven up until their times were then proven.

So the argument you propose has embedded false premises and it begs the question.

Do you have an open mind?

Have you read Bertrand Russell?

Bertrand Russell stated, when he was asked if he were an atheist, that it depends upon who was asking.  To the learned and philosophers, he would answer that he was truly an agnostic, because existence had not been proved or disproved, but for the "common person" to understand his point of view, he would answer that he was an atheist.

It depend on what you mean by "God", also.  People who use the word, need to take some time to understand whether they are talking about "the same thing" or different things.  It all depends on what is understood by the word.

Have you read Julian Jaynes book "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind"?

This book provides a theoretical framework for explaining how so many people could come to believe in things that do not exist, including ghosts, gods, reincarnation, etc..  It's highly speculative and thought provoking.

Have you read Lawrence Kohlberg's "Stages of Moral Development"?
This provided a perspective on how people might behave ethically and morally with or without gods.

Have you read Karl Popper?
Karl Popper provides the basis of the modern philosophy of science.  If you wish to "do battle" with the effect science might have on belief, it is best that you understand the methods of science thoroughly.

Do you know why you believe what you believe?
I do for me, and I have a fairly good idea why others believe differently from me.

I like the story of the Mulla Nasrudin, who was asked one day to come and give an explanation of the truth to a community.  When he came to the podium, he asked the congregation, "Do you know what I am about to tell you?". They answered, "No, we do not."  Nasrudin then said, "Then it will take too long.", and he got down and left.  The authorities then persuaded him to return for another try.  This time, when he ascended the podium, he again asked, "Do you know what I am about to tell you?".  The congregation thought they would fool him, so they all said, "Yes.".  Nasrudin then said, "Then there is no need for me to tell you.", and again he got down and left.  The people, somewhat frustrated, sent a representative to persuade Nasrudin to come again.  When Nasrudin ascended the podium, he again asked, "Do you know what I am about to tell you.".  This time, the people had a plan. The congregation said, "Some of us do, and some of us don't."  Nasrudin immediately said, "Then let those who know tell those who don't know.", and he descended the podium and left.

Your subject line should not presume "ignorance" where a possible difference of belief is concerned.  When you ask "the same question" of others, I suggest you word it, "How can you believe differently than I believe."   The wording you did use might be construed by some people as an attack, or worse yet, as a symptom of your insecurity with your own beliefs.

The problem with most major religions, is that each says all the others are wrong, that others are ignorant infidels, and that they have no hope of salvation unless they convert.  Each religion claims to know the "Truth" with a capital "T".  Each claims that their "Truth" is the real thing, and that the others are wrong.  Some enlightened (few) accept other religions as saying "the same thing", but with different words.  The Sufi suggest that they convey the central spirituality of all religions to those that are capable of receiving it.

And I haven't even begun to talk about Jesus or the Bible, but 'nuf said.

Believe as you will.
Allow others to believe as they will.
Live by the golden rule: "Don't do to others what you would not have done to yourself."

http://www.xenodochy.org/ex/desiderata.html
http://www.xenodochy.org/ex/consilium.html

Regards,

Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr., Ph.D.

Home pages:
http://www.xenodochy.org
http://www.ballroomdances.org
-------------------------------------------------------
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(If you are thinking about collecting my email address, read the above page first!)
--------------------------------------------------------
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Always report errors discovered while surfing the web.
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My favorite saying (from general semantics):
It's not that seeing is believing, believing is seeing,
and we're much better at believing than we are at seeing.
======================================


From: ;
To: ;
Date: Wed, 23 Jul 2003 09:03:04 -0700

You are right, i did phrase that a little wrong.  I do respect your beleifs, that is why i will stop debating with you, i am only 16 for heavens sake!  Try going to church once in while though.
God is like the wind, you cant see him, but you can feel him.  God bless you.
                                  -Chris

Date: Wed Jul 23 12:18:33 2003
From: ;
To: ;
Subject:
At 2003-07-23 12:03, you wrote:
You are right, i did phrase that a little wrong.  I do respect your beleifs, that is why i will stop debating with you, i am only 16 for heavens sake!  Try going to church once in while though.
Been there, done that.
God is like the wind, you cant see him, but you can feel him.  God bless you.
                                  -Chris
Live long and prosper,
Ralph
http://www.xenodochy.org/ralph.html
From: ;
To: ;
Date: Sun, 27 Jul 2003 13:14:12 -0700

Hi, this is a question i have to ask:   Why are you an atheist?  Tell me i a relativly short email please.  (I have a short attention span)

Date: Mon Jul 28 01:06:54 2003
From: ;
To: ;
Subject: Re:

At 2003-07-27 16:14, you wrote:
Hi, this is a question i have to ask:   Why are you an atheist?  Tell me i a relativly short email please.  (I have a short attention span)
I hope this is short enough.

For me, the "mind" is not a non-material thing; it is the working process of our brain.
In an analogy, "mind" is to brain as digestion is to stomach.
The "soul" or "spirit" of a person is, for me, only his or her "mind".
Take away the brain, and there is no mind.
"Mind" is nothing more than brain function.
Because brain function ceases when the person dies, there is no "life after death" because no soul, spirit, mind, etc. (= brain function) can continue to work in a dead brain.
Our culture typically defines "God" in one way as a "mind without a body".  Because a mind cannot exist without the brain that it is the working of, no "god" can exist without a physical brain. 
[From philosophy, which you may choose to study, the possibility of the existence of a non-materiel "God" (and spirits, ghosts, etc.) is based in Cartesian Dualism which postulates two levels of reality - the physical and the Platonic plane of ideals - the spirit world.  I do not believe in dualism, hence I do not believe in anything that is said to exist only in the spiritual plane.]
In short, I do not believe that there is any non-material or disembodied "mind" that can exist apart from a physical brain, so there is, for me, no such thing as "god", as our cultures have traditionally defined them.

Was that short enough?

Ralph

P.S., I am not all or even most of the things some atheists are.
From: ;
To: ;
Subject: meaning of life
Date: Wed, 12 Nov 2003 16:59:43 -0800

Tell me, what is the purpose of life, if there is no God?
We all must be some sort of cosmological mishap randomly disperssed throughout this Earth.
Answer that question with an intelligent answer and i will forever stop emailing u. thank u and God bless.

I love Jesus Christ, he is the source of all life, without him we have no purpose, with him we have reason, we have hope, we have a purpose


Date: Wed Nov 12 22:50:33 2003
From: ;
To: ;
Subject: Re: meaning of life
At 2003-11-12 19:59, you wrote:
Tell me, what is the purpose of life, if there is no God?
We all must be some sort of cosmological mishap randomly disperssed throughout this Earth.
Answer that question with an intelligent answer and i will forever stop emailing u. thank u and God bless.
                                           I love Jesus Christ, he is the source of all life, without him we have no purpose, with him we have reason, we have hope, we have a purpose
                                                                    -chris.
Welcome back, Chris,

Let's look at the embedded question first. "What is the purpose of life."
1. The question presumes that the (a) purpose exists.
2. By using "the" instead of "a", you, the framer of the question, assume that there is only one "purpose" of life, when there may, in fact, be many.
3. The word 'purpose' has some of its own built in presuppositions.  When an entity has a purpose, it has a goal and a reason to achieve that goal, usually to satisfy a need or want.  When a "thing" has a purpose, it presupposes the existence of an entity who designed that thing to satisfy a perceived need or goal.
4. "Life" is a very high level abstraction that refers in principle to some way of categorizing all the entities that we consider to be alive.

If we take that group of entities, and ask what common needs and possible goals do they all have in common, then we can have a set of "purposes" that are shared by all living things.  These are actually fairly simple.

1. To continue to live long enough to reproduce.
Subgoals to obtain 1.
a. To obtain sustenance enough to continue living.
b. To avoid predators.
c. To avoid injury and sickness.
d. To grow to maturity while accomplishing a-c.
e. To find a mate (if a sexual being).
f. To reproduce (with a mate if a sexual being, asexually otherwise).
g. For some higher life forms, to help raise the young through a-d.

2. To die so that succeeding generations of offspring can live.

Some plants generate a "death hormone" that kills the parent plant as soon as the seeds mature.  This prevents the parent plant from using sustenance needed by the next generation.  Genetic Research shows that animal DNA has "onco-genes" that get used up after many replications.  They act as a biological "death clock". When they get used up, the DNA no longer duplicates properly, and the "copy errors" eventually cause the organism to die.

Without death, evolution is not possible, so "Life" has developed so that "death" is required.  There are basically two forms of death - external (being eaten or having an accident) and internal (biological clocks and self generated hormones that cause the organism to "commit suicide" ["old age" being the most common form]).

If you think death is not necessary, try to imagine what the world would be like if every person who was ever born (and not killed) was still alive, including our distant primate ancestors, as well as all the ancestors of all the animals.  The world would not be big enough.

I suspect, however, that a paraphrase of your question might be more interesting to you.  How or why did living things come into existence?
The answer to why is because they could.
The answer to how is, in the simplest terms, because there is no known limit to the complexity of combinations of matter - large biological molecules being examples.

So, simply put, "Life" is here because it can be, and its purpose is to reproduce and die.

As for "God", I don't see any need for such an hypothesis.

The bigger question is not "what is the purpose of life, if there is no god", but why does the universe exist (whether or not there may be a god).

And again, the question "why" presupposes the existence of an entity with a purpose.

That question can be rephrased, "How can the universe exist?", and this form does not presuppose a being with a purpose.

Remember this.  It is not possible to ask a question without first making some presuppositions.  If somebody asks you a question, look for the presuppositions in his or her question.  That will tell you something about where that person is coming from.

Religious people ask, "What's its purpose?", when they mean to ask, "What's its God given purpose?", where the purpose in their question is to obtain the answer that their religious authorities approve of - as often as not without understanding the question itself or the answer.

I've met religious people who can repeat answers exactly, but they cannot state the answers in other words.  This "parroting" shows no understanding of the question or the answer.

Don't become one of these.

Jesus Christ, a man who lived twenty centuries ago, and who had many followers, became the principle icon in a branching set of now many different religions.  It would be a very hard research job to try to find out what he himself actually said, believed, or did, due to the many interpretations and paraphrasing done over these twenty centuries by thousands upon thousands of people.  The fact that we have now many different Christian religious sects shows that people who disagreed about how to interpret what was being passed down believe Jesus said/did/believed different things.  If there were no changes, errors, interpretations, then there would be only one single and simple Christian church which was able to preserve exactly his words, beliefs and records of his deeds.  Since that is not the case, since we have many Christian churches, and they all disagree to some extent about the life, statements, and acts of Jesus, who can say what the truth is?

Whichever particular one of these many Christian sects you were brought up in, you have been taught to quote many statements.  Can you say deeply and with careful analysis what any of those statements means?

As a philosopher and scientist, I have hopes, purposes, and reason.  I hope to continue to learn and to pass on my learning so that the coming generations can benefit in some small way.

Best wishes,
Ralph.
From: ;
To: ;
Subject: i said intelligent
Date: Wed, 12 Nov 2003 20:56:49 -0800

all the crap u just wrote to me means nothing.  I can tell u have no fullfillment in ur life.  U seem to look at the surface of everything.  I noticed that when u seem to correct everything i write to u.  The real way to fully understand "faith" is by delving into the heart of what u beleive. U can use ur brain all u want to solve a problem or a universal mystery.  But u will never fully understand it until u use ur heart and mind in unson.  I know who Jesus is and what he did for our sins, but I beleive these things in my heart as well.  You see, having knowledge is useless unless u have the heart to beleive.                 I mean do really understand what it is u type when u do, its all out of knowledge, and no heart.

Date: Thu Nov 13 01:13:32 2003
From: ;
To: ;
Subject: Re: i said intelligent

At 2003-11-12 23:56, you wrote:
all the crap u just wrote to me means nothing.  I can tell u have no fullfillment in ur life.  U seem to look at the surface of everything.  I noticed that when u seem to correct everything i write to u.  The real way to fully understand "faith" is by delving into the heart of what u beleive. U can use ur brain all u want to solve a problem or a universal mystery.  But u will never fully understand it until u use ur heart and mind in unson.  I know who Jesus is and what he did for our sins, but I beleive these things in my heart as well.  You see, having knowledge is useless unless u have the heart to beleive.
                I mean do really understand what it is u type when u do, its all out of knowledge, and no heart.

You would not understand "heart", as you have no compassion or respect for those who believe differently from you, as you are not trying to understand different perspectives. You are trying to push your view on others.  You are no better than the Muslim terrorists who are trying to do the same thing, force their views on others.
From: ;
Subject: wealth
Date: Sun, 30 Nov 2003 20:20:17 -0800

WEALTH...( OR ANOTHER'S PERCEPTION OF IT )


One day a father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose of showing his son how poor people live. 
.
They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.
On their return from their trip, the father asked his son,
"How was the trip?"
.
"It was great, Dad." 
.
"Did you see how poor people live?" the father asked.
"Oh yeah," said the son.
.
"So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?" asked the father.
The son answered: "I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they  have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.  We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others.
.
We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them."
.
Then his son added, "Thanks, Dad, for showing me how poor WE are! ."
.
The boy's father was speechless.
~~  ~~  ~~  ~~  ~~  ~~  ~~  ~~  ~~  ~~  ~~  ~~  ~~  ~~  ~~  ~~  ~~  ~~ 

What is one's person's worthless object is another's prize possession.

It is all based on one's perspective.
Makes you wonder what would happen if we all gave thanks for all the bounty we have
instead of worrying about wanting more.
Take joy and appreciate every single thing you have, especially your friends!

Date: Mon Dec 01 11:50:33 2003
From: ;
To: ;
Subject: Re: wealth
At 2003-11-30 23:20, you wrote:

WEALTH...( OR ANOTHER'S PERCEPTION OF IT )
http://www.xenodochy.org/ex/consilium.html
From: ;
To: ;
Subject: hi
Date: Mon, 01 Dec 2003 21:07:28 -0800

look, sorry about that one email i sent u, seriously, it was wrong. but all im saying is u have no proof God doesnt exist, send me something that proves it and i will leave u alone, and stop annoying u, cause u know i am.
                                  -God blesss


Date: Tue Dec 02 03:17:36 2003
From: ;
To: ;
Subject: Re: hi

At 2003-12-02 00:07, you wrote:
look, sorry about that one email i sent u, seriously, it was wrong. but all im saying is u have no proof God doesnt exist, send me something that proves it and i will leave u alone, and stop annoying u, cause u know i am.
                                 -God bless

Chris,

Belief is God is not a matter of proof. It is a matter of BELIEF. Everyone is free to believe as he or she chooses.  I spent twenty years in the US Military defending yours and others rights to believe differently from others, and I am still committed to supporting the rights of ALL people to believe as they choose.  It is not my right to tell them (or you) how to believe.  It is not your right to tell me how to believe.

But when you, or I ask questions, it is within our right to explain our choices as we feel appropriate.  But it is NOT within our rights to "put-down" someone for believing differently than we think they should.

This country is founded on religious freedom, and that freedom is built into our constitution and legal system.  That includes the right to believe in any god or gods we choose or not to believe in any if we so choose.  As an American citizen, it is your DUTY to uphold the constitution and the laws that guarantee each of us our free choice in these matters.  America is a country dedicated to freedom and the rights of minorities.  The majority is not allowed to take away the rights of minorities or to force their will or beliefs on them. We are a great country, because Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Sufis, Atheists, Agnostics, Rosicrucian, Masons, and a hundred or more other belief systems including the native American and imported aborigine peoples with really different ways of thinking, work together to make this country great.  The working together far out-weighs the differences in belief systems.

The majority of troubles in this world today come from the prejudice of one belief system against all others.  State sponsored religions and customs, such as in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Israel, etc., and their total intolerance of others, are the greatest source of violence today.  Religious fanaticism, with the attitude "convert, subjugate, or kill everyone who believes differently", is the single greatest cause of war in the world.

Belief in God cannot be a matter of proof.  His existence cannot be proven or disproven, and that is exactly the way he would have wanted it, because it takes no effort at all to believe in what can be shown or proven. Faith would be meaningless if it was based always on just what can be shown or proven.  I have faith that there is an order to the universe and that, by asking the right questions, we can find out something about it.  You have faith that an all knowing and all powerful being controls and directs the universe.  I got my faith from studying and questioning the teachings of others. You got your faith from your family and religious teachers.  I take on faith some of the things some of my teachers taught. You take on faith some of the things some of your teachers taught.

Next time you encounter someone who believes differently from you, embrace him or her and his or her right to be different, because how he or she got his or her beliefs is by the same process as how you got yours.  It's all a matter of faith in some things.

Apology accepted.

Ralph.


From: ;
To: ;
Subject: Re: hi
Date: Tue, 02 Dec 2003 14:52:28 -0800

hey, thanks alot for that, take care and ill talk to u again sometime.  I do embrace ur beleif, by the way. and thanks for excepting my appology.

From: ;
To: ;
Subject: hi
Date: Mon, 11 Apr 2005 15:28:23 -0700

Hi how have you been doing lately??  Alot has changed in my life since the last time i talked to you.  I am in the United States Marine Corps now, no longer a civilian.  I just wanted to know whats going on and how u feel about the military.  Well, im hoping to hear from you soon, write back.
Semper Fidelis
      -PFC Neufeld

Date: Mon, 11 Apr 2005 21:51:44 -0400
From: ;
To: ;
Subject: Re: hii

On Mon, 11 Apr 2005 18:28:23 -0400, Chris Neufeld wrote:

Hi how have you been doing lately?? Alot has changed in my life since the last time i talked to you. I am in the United States Marine Corps now, no longer a civilian. I just wanted to know whats going on and how u feel about the military. Well, im hoping to hear from you soon, write back.
Semper Fidelis
 -PFC Neufeld

Congratulations!

I spent twenty years in the US Navy. My son spent 8 years in the Marines. (He became a born-again Christian years after he was out, so I don't think the Marines did it to/for him.)

The service is a great growing experience. It also has great educational opportunities. The Navy put me through college, and I used my GI bill to get my degrees while I was still in and after I got out. I was in Cuba for the Cuban Missile crisis under JFK. I never thought of myself as a "warrior", but that's what my career was. And now it's yours too.

Read the Science Fiction novel "Starship Troopers" by Robert Heinlein. Also enjoy the Movie, but don't think of them as the same.

Be careful out there!

P.S. your email handle just won't work now that you are in the Marines.

Best wishes,
-- Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr.

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