Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Love and Peace

This is probably going to be the most revealing pieces that I'll ever write, so I ask that you, my friends, listen with an open mind. Because thats what you are. My friends. And I respect each of you and accept you for who you are, and I hope you feel the same about me. Andy's comment on my last post kind of put me in a corner because I couldn't really address it properly without admitting to something that I wasn't quite prepared to yet. I've been doing a lot of thinking, reading, watching, listening, and researching. I've changed a lot in the last three or four years. And while I still have a lot more to learn and experience and will continue to change, I can say now with certainty, that I am an atheist. I bet maybe you thought I was coming out of the closet. However, while I'm not gay, it really does feel like I'm "coming out". For as long as I've been alive all of my friends and relatives were religious. So admitting that I don't believe anymore is something that I've been trying to figure out how to do. So, when did it happen and how? Well things really got going back in my Critical Reasoning class at Long Beach. I remember we started talking about religion and my teacher said something hit like that asteroid from Deep Impact, "99.9% of people are the same religion as their parents". I'll never forget that. I realized that I believed in religion because it was always taught to me and was always present. There is a lot more than just that of course but, like I said before, I wasn't really ready to open up because I haven't found the right words to articulate accurately everything that went into my decision. Now, back to the catalyst of this whole confession, Andy's comment! Quick note, though. The existence of God can be a very touchy subject, so please don't think I'm trying to disprove God. We believe different things but I don't think any less of you and I hope you don't think any less of me as well.

-Thanks for the compliment.
-For Laplace's Demon, its not that anyone really believes that it exists, its just a hypothetical entity that helps to illustrate the point of determinism. So then maybe you mean belief in the concept of prediction. But it really is much easier to believe that as opposed to the existence God. Determinism is based on testable, reliable, calculable laws. Its a matter of facts. Belief in God is a matter of faith, which is the complete opposite.
-Looking around, its easy to think that with all the intricate complexities of life, that it all had to have been designed. But I think that undermines the natural way of the universe. (I need more articulation for this one)
-I really like your point about imaging "nothing". Its hard. I usually either picture blackness or whiteness. But I do think its possible to image something, say, the universe, without a creator.
-You're right about science liking to know "how" everything works. As for 'why', all of those questions you proposed do have answers but its too much to list. The biggest 'why' question that I've come across that the scientific community can't explain yet is 'why is there something, instead of nothing.' Why is there matter, instead of a spaceless void. We may know the answer some day, but the Bible doesnt really offer any answer either. There was God, and he made the universe. I don't remember him having a motive...
-For the last paragraph, science is based on believing things that are backed my evidence. Faith, by definition, is believing in that something despite the absence of evidence. So really, for me, its easier to believe that what we see is the natural order of the universe because of collected and calculable research and proof.

Thanks for reading, everyone.
Love and Peace


Jimmy said...

lol i thought you were gonna say you were gay.

an atheist eh? well i mean heaven's not meant for everyone i guess. i jk.

not much to comment on. i dunno. so you don't believe in anything? i mean, i consider myself a person of science (the same science trying to apply an equation to everything as andy mentioned) yet I still believe there is something out there.

i'm curious to know what your beliefs about some things are? what is the atheist take on the beginning of time for example? are you saying youre an atheist because you believe in free will and if there was a god then there would truly be no free will? is that right?

in my intro to Jew class we have talked a little bit about that. the teacher explained (he's a practicing jew btw, so this is from a jewish philosophical perspective i guess) that we do indeed have free will and can do whatever we choose to, but God, in all of his power, can react to our decisions to better suit his master plan. more simply, we can do wutever, but He can counter every decision we make. thoughts?

Christian said...

Score, 2 points for me for guessing the 'gay' assumption.

You're right, theres not much to comment on. I should have put in a line saying that I don't expect anyone to leave a comment, just read it.

Ah the beginning of time. I'm sure you're familiar with the singularity and the big bang? Well just in case... That super dense ball of mass that "banged" during the big bang. We know that the universe is approximately 13.7 billion years old (from the big bang til now), so presumably thats about when time as we know it began. As for what exactly caused the big bang is still under investigation.

I'm not really saying that I'm atheist because of the free will dilemma, but it is a small factor. God is said to be all knowing and knows what you will do before you do it, but then how can we have free will if our actions have already been decided. I'm a determinist (watch the video) so you might say that that doesn't allow free will either. Right, but if God says we do have free will, but we really don't, then something doesn't add up.

I've always had a problem with God's "plan" for everyone. I'm not sure if that is actually in the Bible or its just something people like to say. If there really is a plan, then the Holocaust was to happen? That was the plan? To torture and murder millions of people?

The free will thing wasn't really a religious issue with me when I made the switch, though. In the grand scheme of things its a small fish.

Thanks for the comment.

Jimmy said...

yeah im familiar with the big bang, but I was wondering about your beliefs of what caused that.

that's really beside the point though. i was just curious.

as for god being all knowing and knowing the future and such. isn't it possible that god could allow us to have free will (it's like he decided to step back and watch and let us do our thing), but he just infinitely knows the outcome of every possible decision. you would still have free will because you could do something the way you want to do it, it's just that he is ready to work with whatever you choose because he knows the result of every choice?

as for the holocaust, if there is a god, then as humans we cannot begin to understand his rationale towards certain events such as that. it may seem horrible to us, but there could be something on a much larger scale that we are in no way capable of comprehending simply because we are inferior to god.

Andy said...

I always know how to provoke further discussion...muahahahaha...
Andy has much to comment on, like always. Hopefully I'll inspire another blog?

But seriously I was not intending to push you in a corner, and I'm sorry if you feel this way. You know, there are many proud atheists (In Cardinal Newman, I remember about 4 or 5 other Catholics other than myself, haha). So you should be happy cuz now you're in the "cool" group with a slightly ironic name. (This could be a greater icebreaker!)

Anyway, I could kinda guess from your last post and from extended exposure to the rays of the secular So Cal/LA sun (lack of the rays of Jimmy & Me) that your beliefs were at least heading in this direction. As your friend and fellow supporter, I'm cool with your choice. If you felt like you just believed in a God becuz family/friends did, than it's good for you to challenge yourself and test ur beliefs. Know thyself, right? No one can force you to believe anything.

"Not everyone believes what you believe, Morpheus/Andy."
"My beliefs do not require them to."

Afterall, 99.9% of people speak the same language as their parents. But look at me, learning Chinese and forgetting English. I'm a total rebel too, 我的朋友。

However, since this is a place for "discussion", I hope you don't mind me sharing my views as well. I believe we can all learn from each other. So, here goes:

-Are there reliable, calculable laws that prove that Laplace's demon DOESN'T exist? If not, then how can we know? If determinism states that all events can be determined, than isn't it stepping out of the "known realm of facts"? Or is it determining that we will understand determinism and all laws of nature fully in the future?Sorry, I'm just still unclear about this determinism business.

"Looking around, its easy to think that with all the intricate complexities of life, that it all had to have been designed."
-Easy? Perhaps for children, but not for most people our age. If it was so easy, than why would scientists even exist? Why wouldn't everyone share belief in a creator? Afterall, as you perfectly put it, "Belief in God is a matter of faith." And as anyone of faith knows, faith is not easy, even between humans! (E.g., will he catch me? is she cheating on me? will he tell my secret? did he put a kick-me sign on my back again?) Faith and trust waver, and doubt/suspicion is a constant enemy. Doubt in your own beliefs can be a good thing, as in questioning, but more often it is an unnecessary worry/stressor, I think.

"Why is there something, instead of nothing? "...The Bible doesnt really offer any answer either. There was God, and he made the universe. I don't remember him having a motive.." That's because it's not directly stated in the creation stories in Genesis. Looking at the Bible as a whole, I believe there is an answer. It's not easy to find, but I hope I'm scratching the surface. It's one of the great comforts of religion: purpose/meaning of existence. I'll admit people can fall into the trap of relying on religion purely for comfort, seemingly blinding themselves to the reality/facts. However, it's possible to intellectualize your faith as well (which is what I'm trying to do) through study, reading, listening to the wisdom of others, etc.

"Faith, by definition, is believing in that something despite the absence of evidence. So really, for me, its easier to believe that what we see is the natural order of the universe because of collected and calculable research and proof." -Of course it's easier, I'd never argue with that. But is easier necessarily better?

Thanks Jimmy for the informative comment about Judaism, and for addressing the Big Bang reason question. Catholicism also acknowledges free will, but since the Old Testament and Christ, God has rarely intervened in an open/obvious manner. He is omnipotent, yet allows freedom of choice because He does not wish to make Himself openly known, thereby eliminating the chance for people to "choose" Him. God's plan is something we can choose to ignore or follow. There is a choice.

This relates to the often addressed issue of 'Why suffering?' which science cannot clearly answer either. I see that Jimmy has taken much of my answer, but worded it better than I could. In the instance of the Holocaust, the Catholic theory (post-Vatican II council) is that those killing others were choosing to NOT follow God's laws/will/plan. Free will, right? Despite a misleading Old Testament image (symbolism), the New Testament clearly shows that God is for Love & Peace.

This is logical if one looks at it like a Parent-Child relationship. A parent may be very loving of their child and want the best for her, and also not want to control her completely. But in granting that freedom, there does come risks (such as the child getting into a fight at a birthday party). The child suffers, but we still see loving parents granting their children freedom. Why? Because in this freedom is the greater love.

I recently wrote in another blog in relating to a debate for the existence of God. Until now, I've written only original things for you CH, but I'm gonna end quoting something I quoted from the great book "Life of Pi":

"Atheists are brothers and sisters of a different faith,
and every word they speak speaks of faith. Like me,
they go as far as the legs of reason will carry them-and then they leap."

"I'll be honest about it. It is not atheists who get stuck in my craw (annoy me), but agnostics. Doubt is useful for a while. We must all pass through the garden of Gethsemane (where Christ faced his period of doubt/fear before his death on the Cross).
If Christ played with doubt, so must we. If Christ spent an anguished night in prayer, if He
burst out from the Cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" then surely we are permitted to doubt. But we must move on. To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation."

"I can well imagine an atheist's last words: "White, white! L-L-Love! My God!"
-and the deathbed leap of faith. Whereas the agnostic, if he stays true to his reasonable self, if he stays beholden to dry, yeast-less factuality, might try to explain the warm light bathing him by saying,
"Possibly a f-f-failing oxygenation ofthe b-b-brain," and, to the very end,
lack imagination and miss the better story."

I prefer good stories to facts myself. : ) Does God exist?? Better to ask this question many times, than to never ask it at all.
And I wonder if anyone will actually read everything I wrote here?

Christian said...

Funny how your responses always turn out to be longer than my blog. Just kidding though, Im glad they are. And it really means a lot to me that you're ok with my decision. Dont feel guilty or anything about forcing the confession, I knew it was bound to come up sooner or later, and Im glad now its mostly out in the open. However, I'm relatively new to atheism and have had very little to no one to talk about it with. So I'm inexperienced. Which kind of puts me at a disadvantage in this discussion. We've all spent pretty much our whole lives learning about the Bible and God and discussing it in class. I'm waaay behind when it comes to knowing how to verbalize my views. So forgive me for not addressing some of the points.

-No, there's no way anyone can prove that the Demon (or God for that matter) doesnt exist. Although its a general rule of science that something "doesn't exist until proven otherwise". Saying that just because we can't prove it doesnt mean that it doesnt exist, is a very weak argument scientifically speaking.

I really don't want this to get messy (especially since I'm a noob), so I'll just say for now that I don't believe in God because I believe in the things I can prove. I know its not the best argument, but like I said, its new to me. Sorry that its kind of a cop out, but I'll address your points some day, I just need a little practice.

andy said...

Possible Future Blog Topics:
-The Happening: film success or box office failure?
-Why the USA has the best candy in the world.
-The History of Video Games: an abridgment
-Your person History of Video Games: how they influence ur daily life
-Low Cal vs. High Cal: differences, similarities, and the effects both have on ur health
-Chinese Food vs Japanese food: a guide by CH
-How to wake up, shower, get ready, eat, and go to class in less than 3 minutes: a guide by CH
-Hypnosis: Real? When I snap my fingers, you will believe so.
-Jimmy: The Evolution of Child Genius to World Tyrant to Down & Out Rockstar to Oprah Speech Writer to Caffinated Energy Drink to Cyborg Android to to Dr. Quynh, Medicine Man to Whatever He is Now
-Andy: The Epic Story of a Baby raised by Forest Creatures to Unsuccessful Child Ninja to Priviledged White Kid to Hip Hop Dance Choreographer to Ron Howard to Bollywood Star to 2D Japanese anime character to Chinese Confucian Scholar to Ethnically-Confused Student raised by Forest Creatures.

andy said...

hey, i'm starting to leave random comments now...

but on a somewhat related note, on the bus ride home tonight, I saw a guy reading a book called "Free Will." I was thinking an interesting subtitle would be "You ARE going to buy this book."
many othr humorous quotations come to mind, but i'll save them for later.

lastly, do u think you might be able to help me do a new animated Spellbinding Logo intro? or know of someone who can help?