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General Religious Discussion / Things to Ponder #5: Spirit vs. Matter
« Last post by kcrady on Today at 02:00:26 AM »
Why is it better, or more awesome somehow, for something to be made of "spirit" rather than matter?

One doesn't have to be involved in the theism/atheism debate for too long before one encounters some variant of the claim that "spirit" is superior to matter.  "You guys believe that we are just chemicals reacting to each other!  If that's true, then there's nothing special about people, no reason not to murder and rape them at will, because they're just several gallons of water and about $35.00 worth of chemicals."[1]  The implicit idea being, if the ultimate constituent of human consciousness is "spirit," then humans are worth something, life is worth living, and the Cosmos has an extra-special glow.

That "just" I bolded above is the Rational Explanation Letdowntm.  As in, "That 'UFO' is just swamp gas," "The 'Near-Death Experience' is just something that happens in the brain when it is deprived of oxygen" and so on.  In other words, as soon as we know how something works, it becomes "just" some aspect of mundane reality rather than something magical and wondrous.  But why should this be the case?

Let's imagine, for the sake of discussion, that there are "spirit beings," sapient entities made of "spirit."  They still have to work somehow, don't they?  Let's say an angel landed on the White House lawn tomorrow, was completely forthcoming with answers to questions, and even let scientists examine it, and participated in experiments and tests.  So then then the scientists learn what "spirit" is and how it works, and write some equations that accurately model its behavior as a substance.  Is "spirit" still cool?  Or would people start saying, "Well, we can't be just spirit transvortices and quarks--there must be Something More!," and thus is born the concept of the Interlocking Transfinite Timecube or whatever?

Perhaps one could argue that it's cooler if human consciousness is made of "spirit" because "spirit" is immortal.  Unless immortal life sucks...  In Hinduism and Buddhism, immortality is the trap the religion is designed to help you escape.  The immortal spirit keeps getting reborn in new bodies after old ones die, carrying metaphysical baggage (karma) that must be shed in order to break the cycle.  The goal--nirvana--sounds an awful lot like the Just Plain Ol' Death that we atheists expect everyone to get when their brains stop working.

There are plenty of other religions and spiritual worldviews that feature turbulent afterlives: people's "spirits" hanging around as angry ghosts, spiritual underworlds filled with obstacles and guarded gates and monsters and hostile spirits, and the like.  Then there's Christianity and Islam.  In those religions, the people who get the right answers on the Celestial Quiz[2] get into a spiritual realm that is--supposedly--a paradise.  Even granting that though, immortality is maximally horrible for everybody else.  So, on balance, it seems to me that Atheist Hereafter is Best Hereafter.  Nirvana for everyone!  Absolute, perfect peace and the complete, inherent impossibility of suffering--forever.  Now, it would likely be possible to imagine a superior alternative, a hereafter for everyone that is better than life as we know it and death; yet for some reason, religious visions of immortality that don't qualify as A Fate Worse Than Death[3] are pretty few and far between.

So, if immortality doesn't necessarily make "spirit" cooler, what does?  Why should we, for example, take advice or moral instruction from a "spirit" being (say, a discarnate entity being relayed by a medium, or a god or goddess speaking through an oracle or a preacher) as superior to the advice or morality of a human being?  What makes an "angel" cooler than a human from some mysterious, exotic land?[4]

We can also look at it another way: the notion of "matter" as inanimate, ultimately uninteresting teeny little Lego blocks (as opposed to "spirit," which is alive and dynamic and magical) has been obsolete for more than a hundred years.  If we look at matter on a small enough scale, it turns out to be surprisingly "miraculous."  It can be shot at a barrier and end up on the other side without penetrating the barrier (quantum tunneling).  It can behave as a wave and as a particle, remain connected ("entangled") over cosmic distances, and even fuck with our notions of time and causality.  If we could actually see what matter looked like as it did its thing on the quantum scale, we'd pretty much have to accept that it's made of Magic Sparkles.  And what's even more amazing: people can write equations that enable us to model its behavior, and use that knowledge to craft things that give us powers like instant global communication, near-instant translation of languages,[5] instant access to vast pools of knowledge, real-time navigation, and so on.  What sorcerer of old wouldn't drool with envy?
 1. One could just as easily wield the opposite argument: "If humans are really immortal spirits having a material experience, killing/raping/etc. their meat-suit isn't that much worse than killing someone's video game character; the spirit just goes off and does something else, or respawns in a new meat body.  So what?"
 2. In Islam and some versions of Christianity, the Quiz has a lab component, i.e., things you have to do in life in order to pass.
 3. Taking the whole human race into account, not just the ones lucky enough to be in the club.
 4. Setting aside claims of superhero powers--"angels" don't exactly demonstrate those outside of ancient stories, so even if they exist there's not much reason to expect them to perform superhuman feats with their alleged powers.  Besides, human beings can make something fly all the way to fucking Pluto and send back close-up pictures, and put telescopes in space that find planets orbiting other stars.  Look around.  Look at the thing you're reading this on.  Congratulations, you live in the Age of Wonder!
 5. Not perfect, but try finding a human translator who can translate as many languages, as quickly and as accurately, as Google Translate.  And see if you can hire their services for free.
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General Religious Discussion / Re: In the Beginning....
« Last post by eh! on Today at 01:37:29 AM »
Apriori, yr making a great contribution, nam's just bored.
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General Religious Discussion / Re: In the Beginning....
« Last post by Apriori Arkhai on Today at 01:29:34 AM »
I'm not a "newbie," I'm more like an "oldbie." I'm 57-years-old and have been an open atheist since around 8th or 9th grade (despite growing up as a Southern Baptist in the South). I'm absolutely certain that almost every idea I might propose has been covered in one way or another here before. So, if everything's already been covered, why don't we just close the site down for any new posts and leave it up as an archive?

All points are irrelevant.

Your age doesn't matter. I'm basing my observation on how you are conducting yourself by the many topics and lack of attention in said topics.

Example:

http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,28983.msg675371.html#msg675371

2 pages long (or more, depending on how many posts you can view in settings), and the only comment you have is the OP (Opening Post).

We've had past members like that, we call them "drive-by's". They are here just for themselves and don't care about contributing anything.

Another example:

http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,28982.msg675370.html#msg675370

You do post two additional comments to your OP but one is schooling someone on what atheism is, and the other is asking another question. You're not really engaging with anyone.

Again, just an OP, not engaging:

http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,28981.msg675369.html#msg675369

You don't seem to be here to participate but further an agenda you have, and it seems you've told me what that is: using this website to further your cause of spreading atheism to others.

Sounds like we are fodder in your agenda.

Quote
The thing is that old posts get lost (consider that almost everything on older variations of the WWGHA forum has disappeared now), and that new people come to the site and don't bother to read EVERYTHING that's come before. I don't know how many times in my life I've had to provide definitions for atheism and agnosticism (to give just one example) to new people coming onboard.

Irrelevant, again. Information is available at a bevy of places: here, other websites, people in general and while you feel you need to "school" everyone at every chance (which seems pedantic), why do it in the first place? Especially since most already know, and choose to define atheism at their preconceived perception(s)?

Quote
As an "oldbie," I know that these battles have to continue to be fought over-and-over again as new people come onto the scene (And most of them don't bother to read the history of whatever might have come before).

As far as the "not focusing on any of them" accusation, I am trying to read through the responses and comment as needed. I AM paying attention. Some seem to have gone off the rails, some are getting sidetracked into the mundane, and some responses have been entirely irrelevant. So far I've been mostly disappointed at the quality of responses (sorry).   

Maybe I am just here for a pit-stop (as you say), but it's mainly to see if it is worthwhile to gain anything from here for the time I might invest.

Again, irrelevant.

There are people who peruse this website without even joining, for years even. And when they do join they do the one thing that is expected of them in joining a discussion board: participating. You're not doing that. Even the vast majority of theists that join engage with other members; now, they may only stick to their topics but they still engage, even if haphazardly or without much effort.

When are you going to do that? And, if not, let us know so those of us who don't care for such members can ignore you.

Quote
Your comments don't seem to be encouraging or welcoming on that score. If your intention is to drive people like me away from the forum, you are doing a fairly good job. I obviously don't want to spend significant amounts of my time explaining myself to you.

I'm not a nice person, and I am direct to the point, and don't care about 99% of anyone's feelings.

However, i'm not here to drive you away, if I was going that route I wouldn't be as nice to you now as I am being.

No, i'm wondering why you are here, and mainly if you are here to participate?

So...are you?

-Nam

Actually, my age does matter in relation to all the years I've been arguing against theists. The point I was trying to make was you have to keep making the same arguments over-and-over, and keep refining them in different ways, and in different mediums, and so on. You can't expect that you can just make your point once and be done with it forever because new people come on the scene (who you can't expect to know or have access to all your old arguments, or be aware of all the "forums" in which you've expressed them before). You have to keep presenting your arguments in different ways, in different forums, and keep trying to polish and refine them to be more effective.

How old are you that you don't know that?

I am conducting myself as I see fit for the situation. Your first example is to a thread I started that quickly ended up being diverted into what OldChurchGuy believed that had little (if anything much) to do with my OP.

Your second example admits that I did make two additional comments after my OP. I would say that challenging someone is engaging with them (as far as "schooling" them on what atheism means in your take on it). And my second comment was to possibly spur the conversation on in a direction I was interested in.

Your 3rd example is one I'm not ready as yet to make a comment on. There were a few good responses, but maybe I'm waiting on some more before I respond.

Are you sitting there with a stop watch to time when I respond? Do you think that I sit by my computer with nothing else to do waiting on someone on comment here?

Believe it or not, I don't spend every second of the day trying to check in to see who has responded and who hasn't and what they might have had to say so that I might respond as quickly as possible each time. I only rejoined the site a few days ago, and I do have other things going on in my life right now.

Maybe I have started a lot of new threads in the short time I've been back reengaged on the site, but maybe I'm going through a brainstorming period, and maybe I want to float a lot of new ideas in a forum where I thought I might have some good feedback. Maybe I haven't had time to review all the results (it has only been a couple of days after all). Why are you the only one having a problem with it?

Your main problem seems to be that you think I'm not engaging or "participating" in the discussions I'm generating. I'm fucking engaging with you right now, and I'm willing to engage with others as they engage with me (if I'm not otherwise engaged in living my life and can spare the time, just like everyone else).

I'm going to skip all your other (what I consider) stupid points (I probably shouldn't have bothered to address the ones I have). I think you are trying to make judgements too quickly (in general). But, absolutely, YES! I AM trying to further my agenda of moving the ball forward in this movement. I was hoping that I might get some good feedback here. Maybe that's true or maybe that's not. I'll certainly LEAVE if I don't think it's worth it. We all have our reasons for being here, and now you know for sure what my reasons are. What are yours? Do you have no interest in moving the ball forward in this movement? What have you ever done to move the ball forward, or doesn't that matter to you?

I CONFESS! That's mainly all I'm here about. If you don't like it, fuck off.








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Chatter / Re: I'm in Minneapolis
« Last post by eh! on Today at 12:15:22 AM »
No I meant the holy war thing like islam V the world.

Loses dramatic effect when you have to splain it.
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Chatter / Re: I'm in Minneapolis
« Last post by Nam on Today at 12:00:44 AM »
AC/DC sucks. Now, CD/CA that's a band.

;)

-Nam

That would get you a beat down IRL, you have offended my religion. I declare a fatwah (spelling) on Nam.

You calling me fat? That...doesn't hurt my feelings but if I had feelings, I think that would hurt them.

-Nam
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General Religious Discussion / Re: Question for Skeptic54768
« Last post by Nam on Yesterday at 11:56:18 PM »
Here's 5,000:

http://www.biblicalcatholic.com/DENOMS.php

It may take me awhile to find the website that actually listed them all.

-Nam
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General Religious Discussion / Re: Things To Ponder…. #1
« Last post by Nam on Yesterday at 11:54:16 PM »
[Oops, wrong topic]
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Chatter / Re: I'm in Minneapolis
« Last post by eh! on Yesterday at 11:53:53 PM »
AC/DC sucks. Now, CD/CA that's a band.

;)

-Nam

That would get you a beat down IRL, you have offended my religion. I declare a fatwah (spelling) on Nam.
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Chatter / Re: I'm in Minneapolis
« Last post by Nam on Yesterday at 11:51:29 PM »
AC/DC sucks. Now, CD/CA that's a band.

;)

-Nam
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Chatter / Re: I'm in Minneapolis
« Last post by eh! on Yesterday at 11:42:25 PM »
No, I play "highway to hell" by  AC/DC, or as we call them, akar dacker.

RIP Bon;


with the new singer





with Bon;



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