In the Beginning was Nothing:
A Creation Story for Young Materialists

Apologetics — By on January 10, 2007 at 2:05 am

[Note: Here at EO I’ve decided to honor my favorite bizarre worldview by hosting an Atheism Appreciation Week. For the rest of the week I’ll have posts dedicated to atheism and its related beliefs.]
Throughout history children have been awed and thrilled by retellings of their culture’s creation story. Aztec’s would tell of the Lady of the Skirt of Snakes, Phoenicians about the Zophashamin, and Jews and Christians about the one true God — Jehovah. But there is one unfortunate group — the children of materialists — that has no creation myth to call its own. When an inquisitive tyke asks who created the sun, the animals, and mankind, their materialist parents can only tell them to read a book by Carl Sagan or Richard Dawkins.
No child, though, should have to go without an answer which is why I’ve decided to take the elements of materialism and shape them into an accurate, though mythic, narrative. This is what our culture has been missing for far too long — a creation story for young materialists.

******

In the beginning was Nothing and Nothing created Everything. When Nothing decided to create Everything, she filled a tiny dot with Time, Chance, and Everything and had it explode. The explosion spread Everything into Everywhere carrying Time and Chance with it to keep it company. The three stretched out together leaving bits of themselves wherever they went. One of those places was the planet Earth.
For no particular Reason — for Reason is rarely particular — Time and Chance took a liking to this wet little blue rock and so decided to stick around and see what adventures they might have. The pair thought the Earth was intriguing and pretty, but also rather dull and static. They fixed upon an idea to change Everything (just a little) by creating a special Something. Time and Chance roamed the planet, splashing through the oceans and scampering through the mud, in search of materials. But though they looked Everywhere there was a Missing Ingredient that they needed in order to make a Something that could create more of the same Somethings.
They called to their friend Everything to help. Since Everything had been Everywhere she would no doubt be able to find the Missing Ingredient. And indeed she did, hidden away in a small alcove called Somewhere, Everything found what Time and Chance had needed all along: Information. Everything put the Information on a piece of ice and rock that happened to be passing by the planet Pluto and sent it back to her friends on Earth.
Now that they had Information, Time and Chance were finally able to create a self-replicating Something which they called Life. Once they created the Life they found that it not only became more Somethings it began to become Otherthings too! The Somethings and the Otherthings began to fill all the Earth — from the bottom of the oceans to the top of the sky. Their creation, which began as a single Something eventually became millions of Otherthings.


Time and Chance, though, where the bickering sort and were constantly feuding over which of them was the most powerful. One day they began to argue over who had been most responsible for creating Life. Everything (who was constantly eavesdropping) overheard the spat and suggested that they settle the debate by putting their creative skills to work on a new creature called Man. They all thought is was a splendid plan – Man was a dull, hairy beast who would indeed provide a suitable challenge – and began to boast about who could create an ability, which they called Consciousness, that would allow Man to be aware of Chance, Time, Everything, and Nothing.
Chance, who had always been a bit of a dawdler, got off to a slow start so it was Time, who never rested, that was able to complete the task first. Time rushed around, filling the gooey matter inside each Man’s head with Consciousness. But as he was gloating over his victory he noticed a strange reaction. When Man could see that Everything had been created by Time, Chance, and Nothing his Consciousness would fill up with Despair.
Chance immediately saw a solution to the problem and used the remaining materials she was using to make Consciousness to create Beliefs. When Chance mixed Beliefs into the grey goo, Man stopped filling with Despair and started creating his own Illusions. These Illusions took various forms — God, Purpose, Meaning — but they were almost always effective in preventing Man from filling up with Despair.
Nothing, who tended to be rather forgetful, remembered her creation and decided to take a look around Everything. When she saw what Time and Chance had done on planet Earth she was mildly amused but forbid them to fill any more creatures with Consciousness or Beliefs (which is why Man is the only Something that has both). But Nothing took a fancy to Man and told Time and Chance that when each one’s Life ran out that she would take him or her and make them into Nothing too.
And that is why, my young friends, when Man loses his Life he goes from being a Something created by Time and Chance into becoming like his creator – Nothing.



  • http://no8wire.blogspot.com robert p

    When my 4 year old niece asked her Dad “Where did the World come from”, he spouted similar atheistic Nothing garbage. ARRGGHH! I should have said that “God made everything and He loves you” but I was afraid of offending …

  • Darwin

    It’s unfortunate that your post made no stab at actually defending the quaint notion that there is a creator. I’ve read these posts and they always try to dress up the Cosmological argument is sweet clothing…that is always threadbare.
    It strikes me that by not making either the cosmological, teleological or even the ontological argument for a creator you force yourself into the unfortunate corner of having to argue that creation myths are…well, just more fun. And, while I’ll grant that (everyone likes a good tale), it doesn’t get the theist any closer to their task: making an argument for the idea that an unseen, unknowable creator that has no creator exists.

  • http://mysticchords.blogspot.com/ John Salmon

    Darwin-Those arguments have been made, here and elsewhere, since time immemorial. Obviously you don’t find them persuasive.
    You do need to recognize that your notion that a Creator would himself need a Creator is just a supposition on your part, no more or less provable than those theistic arguments you reject.
    Everyone approaches these issues with certain metaphysical preconceptions, the atheist no less than the theist.
    A good cource for Christian arguments for God is Dave Armstrong, who writes from a Catholic perspective-see http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2006/11/atheism-agnosticism-secularism-index.html

  • http://kairosfocus.blogspot.com/ kairosfocus

    Darwin, and others:
    I pass by every now and then to see how things are going here at EO. The evolutionary materialists never fail to provide entertainment as they try desperately to justify a worldview that has long since passed its sell-by date.
    I am always amused by evolutionary materialists who resort to worldview-level question-begging [aka selective hyperskepticism] when they come up against a comparative difficulties challenge.
    Of course there is no deductive proof beyond all rational dispute rooted in premises acceptable to any and every claimant to the title, rational being, that a world of contingent beings invites inference to a necessary being with the attributes of a Creator. After all, as Simon Greenleaf pointed out was it something like 150 years ago, we are looking at issues that are metaphysical and fact-linked!
    As to inference to “NOTHING” as the cause of everything, that is a literal non-starter. Kindly cite an independently known case where nothing — no space, time, matter, energy, mind or spirit etc — gives rise to or sustains something, i.e. exerts efficient or material causal power.
    Similarly, there is no proof beyond reasonable dispute that the at least locally massively fine-tuned cosmos in which we live, and live based on molecular nanotechnologies that are at least as fine-tuned, is simply a random bubble in a wider, effectively infinite chaos. [And, BTW, to take this post as a message you have inferred that when something is evidently based on functionally specific, complex information beyond the credible reach of chance in the gamut of the observed cosmos, then its source is not lucky noise but an intelligent agent! So, the question of agenda-serving gross inconsistency rears its ugly head when evolutionary materialists wish to reject the implications of such FSCI at the scales of life and the fine-tuning of the observed, highly contingent cosmos.]
    But, on comparative difficulties relative to inference to best explanation we soon see which worldview option is:
    1] More factually adequate, relative to what we DO know about the source for functionally specific, often astonishingly fine-tuned complex information. [That is, in every case we do know the causal story independently, the source is an intelligence — cf my web page on Info Design and Science for details and definitions and answers to objections etc. No link save though my blog as there is a problem on that.]
    2] Coherent. For, evolutionary materialism cannot coherently account for a mind we can trust to observe, think and reason. [And, for the out-of date: the logical form of the problem of evil has been powerfully answered something like thirty to forty years ago, through Plantinga’s Free-will Defense. The inductive form loses steam once we look to the explanatory power of redemptive, trinitarian monotheism and its capability to answer to the challenge of the one and the many, i.e. unity and diversity. My notes on the Shamrock Principle will help. Sorry on the no-link again.]
    3] Explanatorially powerful and elegant [as opposed to either simplistic or an ad hoc patchwork]. In short, once we start from God, the world as we see it immediately makes a lot of sense, with room for mystery and wonder. Start from eternal infinite chaos and chance, and nothing makes sense, while ad hoc patch after patch is put up to cover over yet another gaping hole in the bubble.
    So, it is long past time to retire that old saw about arrogating to oneself the right to skeptically reject anything that cannot be proved beyond dispute. That simply leads to infinite, self-refuting regress. And, if one then resort to selectively applying such skepticism to reject what one does not like, then one simply expose oneself as begging worldview level questions.
    Grace, open our eyes
    Gordon

  • LudVanB

    “So, it is long past time to retire that old saw about arrogating to oneself the right to skeptically reject anything that cannot be proved beyond dispute. That simply leads to infinite, self-refuting regress. And, if one then resort to selectively applying such skepticism to reject what one does not like, then one simply expose oneself as begging worldview level questions.”
    fine….here’s one for you then…I AM GOD. Now since you are incapable of proving that i am not beyond dispute,you must then accept my statement as truthfull…unless of course you will be selectively sckeptical on the grounds that you do not like the idea that I am God.
    On a more serious note Gordon,this argument that people who do not subscribe to the belief of whatever countless version of the Judeo-Christian God according to the many sub-sects of the christian cult,dont believe the claims of christianity because they just dont like them is an absolute falacy. And the reason for this is self evident….it is impossible to dislike something you dont believe exists to begin with.

  • Don

    “In the beginning was Nothing and Nothing created Everything.”
    Everything was already created – self-existing – eternal – self-determining. Everything in the cosmos is thus by definition God, including the evolutionary offspring of the Big Bang.
    “forbid them to fill any more creatures with Consciousness or Beliefs (which is why Man is the only Something that has both”
    Joe, Joe; you forgot about whales and dolphins and poodles and chickens who all, based on the testimony of PETA and grandmothers everywhere, are highly intelligent, have feelings, and believe people are the scourge of the earth.

  • George

    Your essay reminds me of an amusing set of contradictions one often finds in leftist secularists. To begin with, we have the “self-esteem”, “it’s for the children“, and bake-sales-for-bombers tics. On the other hand, we have the creation-is-random-and-disinterested, “human beings are a pestilence on the planet”, and right-to-death tics.
    So, where does this leave them in a dialogue with their single, socially responsible, unaborted child? I imagine the story must go something like this: You are a wonderful, important, random creation of merciless and disinterested cosmic forces. Your Mom and I love you, and you came about because we joined bodies, visited the doctor, or got drunk on an ecosafari in Africa. Unfortunately, we had no true free will in this matter, so our love for you and our joy we feel is nothing more than chemical reactions and social forces over which we have no control. We want you to have the very best of everything, even though the glorious planet and every precious thing on it would be better off if you both you and we did not exist. We do our best to raise you properly, but the government would do a much better job if we only had free day care. Although we have the socially constructed illusion that your happiness seems paramount to us, if you ever feel life is not worth living, we’ll fully support your right to suicide. If you do kill yourself, don’t let the door hit you in the butt on the way out, and don’t forget to turn off the lights. Those things waste energy and make carbon dioxide.

  • LudVanB

    “Your essay reminds me of an amusing set of contradictions one often finds in leftist secularists. To begin with, we have the “self-esteem”, “it’s for the children”, and bake-sales-for-bombers tics. On the other hand, we have the creation-is-random-and-disinterested, “human beings are a pestilence on the planet”, and right-to-death tics.
    So, where does this leave them in a dialogue with their single, socially responsible, unaborted child? I imagine the story must go something like this: You are a wonderful, important, random creation of merciless and disinterested cosmic forces. Your Mom and I love you, and you came about because we joined bodies, visited the doctor, or got drunk on an ecosafari in Africa. Unfortunately, we had no true free will in this matter, so our love for you and our joy we feel is nothing more than chemical reactions and social forces over which we have no control. We want you to have the very best of everything, even though the glorious planet and every precious thing on it would be better off if you both you and we did not exist. We do our best to raise you properly, but the government would do a much better job if we only had free day care. Although we have the socially constructed illusion that your happiness seems paramount to us, if you ever feel life is not worth living, we’ll fully support your right to suicide. If you do kill yourself, don’t let the door hit you in the butt on the way out, and don’t forget to turn off the lights. Those things waste energy and make carbon dioxide.”
    This little jewel has to be the first prize winner of any contest to see how many straw men,misrepresentations and outright falacies could be crammed up in a single post…a shining beacon of hope for all brain dead cultists to show them that active higher brain functions are not required to use a keyboard…bravo

  • George

    Lud,
    Besides the obligatory “if you disagree with me you’re bad and stupid” ad hominem twitch, did you have a comment?

  • Don

    George, I s’pose if Lud’s comment accurately describes who Joe was trying to personify, vis a vis a secular humanist describing creation, it could be a compliment. “Straw men, misrepresentations and outright falacies” indeed.

  • http://rustylopez.typepad.com/imagoarticulus/ Rusty

    Excellent, Joe. You should compile a set of short stories.

  • http://www.dailyduck.blogspot.com Robert Duquette

    Will someone please think of the children!!!

  • The Raven

    “No child, though, should have to go without an answer “
    And the answers that religion provides tend to be childish answers, suitable for children. Turning Joe’s post about a bit, we’d get:
    “Daddy? Where did the world come from?”
    “Well, there’s this invisible superbeing called ‘God’ who snapped his fingers and made it all happen by magic.”
    And that answer might be good enough for a child. Pity it appears to satisfy so many adults.

  • mark

    Grace Opens: Please, do not insult the intelligence of the commenters here. I do not think you are “amused,” that’s just a rhetorical put-down. Religious belief is based upon faith. I do not think that that is anything to be embarrassed or ashamed about. The arguments you posit here to “prove” your beliefs are empty ones.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    As to inference to “NOTHING” as the cause of everything, that is a literal non-starter. Kindly cite an independently known case where nothing — no space, time, matter, energy, mind or spirit etc — gives rise to or sustains something, i.e. exerts efficient or material causal power.
    Hmmm, over on the Kalem thread Joe agreed with you…anything physical has a cause. Yet then over on the free will thread Joe seems to have done a turnabout, decisions that are made by ‘free will’ do not have any physical cause. A scientist tracing back the actions of every atom of matter in a free will decision will find no physical cause at the end of it…Hence nothing would cause something (or at least nothing would appear to cause something since Joe defines free will as something apart from the physical world).
    So which is it? If you’re happy to ditch cause and effect in order to defend free will you can’t turn around and declare that cause and effect must hold in order to avoid a universe being created ‘out of nothing’.
    Joe’s little story does have some use, despite it being a re-run. It shows that everyone, including materialists have to keep a close eye on what science cannot tell us as much as what it can. So far science has only told us that our universe as we know it appears to have begun with the Big Bang. It cannot and does not tell us anything more. So we don’t know if the Big Bang came ‘out of nothing’ or was something that happened inside a larger system that had/has rules that may or may not be similiar to what we know…. At least this is barring the invention of Star Trek like technology which would allow us to time travel or explore other dimensions etc.

  • LudVanB

    “Besides the obligatory “if you disagree with me you’re bad and stupid” ad hominem twitch, did you have a comment? ”
    I disagreed with your comment on the grounds that they are strawmen…as to weather your “bad or stupid” thats between you and your conscience.

  • The Raven

    Also, I would dispute the notion that there is anything approaching a creation myth on the part of a rationalist’s conception of cosmology. What makes Joe’s post so silly is that the supposed “materialist” claims to have an explanation. I haven’t met such a person yet.
    As Boonton says, we have substantial evidence for a “big bang” event. We also make predictions for such things as black holes and dark matter and, in my lifetime, I’ve watched these theories ultimately acquire evidence for their existence. This tells me that we’re probably on the right track, and proceeding in accord with the scientific method. That is, we might be wrong – maybe dark matter is our generation’s phlogistan – but if so, we will discover the error eventually when its predictive value fails or we discover a better explanation.
    It appears to be a hallmark of the religious mind that an explanation for the unknown be provided. When did the first cell divide? Why is DNA in trinomial code and not binary? Why don’t we have any proto-bat fossils? You guys ask a lot of questions and demand concrete, specific answers. So in this caricature of an atheist’s catechism, Joe is unable to grasp that the parent in question would answer, “We don’t know.” And leave it at that. Or maybe give a condensed description of the big bang. And if the “because why?” questions keep coming, the wise parent would say, “It happened by magic.” The kid will have plenty of time to read up on Sagan and Hawking later.

  • Mark B. Hanson

    George –
    I thought your monologue in [7] was brilliant! It’s no wonder so many conflicted “modern” people paralyze themselves (and their genes) right out of the future.
    It’s been well said that every popular proverb has an equally popular contradictory proverb (e.g. “A stitch in time saves nine” and “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”). It’s only when you juxtapose the contradictory ideas that people have a chance of deciding what they really believe.
    Are children a blessing or a curse?

  • Mark B. Hanson

    Sorry – off topic. I apologize before the bricks are thrown.

  • http://mysticchords.blogspot.com/ John Salmon

    George-Great stuff!
    The life is “random, meaningless and foolish” crowd can have no answer to a child who asks, why are we here? Even parental love then has to be as foolish as all else is.
    The atheist has to begin with acknowledging that no one knows, or can purport to know, based on science, what happened an instant before the Bang-Planck time (10 -43 sec.) In that interval the laws of physics didn’t appply.
    All bets are off, from a scientific view, at least. Why simply reject the Christian view out of hand? Is it so absurd to even consider the possibility that God created the universe?
    Why close a door when you don’t know what’s on the other side?

  • http://www.absolutedominion.blogspot.com Coram Deo

    This is a re-post of an old thread. What’s wrong Joe, running out of new material?

  • Cheesehead

    George: I don’t know which I enjoyed more–your post or Lud getting the vapors over it! LOL!
    Mark Hanson: “Are children a blessing or a curse?”
    I don’t know, but my parents tell me that grandchildren are their reward for not killing their children.

  • giggling

    Very apt story, Joe. Poor children, indeed.

  • http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com Joe Carter

    This is a re-post of an old thread.What’s wrong Joe, running out of new material?
    I usually only post the YSR post on Wednesdays so this is an addition to new stuff, not just a re-run. (Yesterday’s stuff, however, was a recycled post.)
    But what’s wrong with dusting off old material once in awhile? Originality isn’t always a virtue.

  • RB

    Kudos George. If you’re brain dead, you’ve certainly demonstrated that dead brains exhibit fathoms more insight and humor than your typical atheistic materialist poster here at EO.
    By the way, I think we should begin calling them ‘Atheistic cultists’, that will make us sound like we’re far more in the right in stating our unproven beliefs..

  • LudVanB

    “By the way, I think we should begin calling them ‘Atheistic cultists’, that will make us sound like we’re far more in the right in stating our unproven beliefs..”
    If that last part was meant for me sweety,its wrong on both points….i m neither athiestic nor do i belong to any cult. My objection to christianity stems from the fact that your cult is built upon a logical falacy…the worship of a man-made text depicting a human-like god.

  • RB

    LudVanB,
    You certainly proved my point about the humor…I mean lack thereof, of course.
    I am not a member of a cult either. Guess we have something in common. I also do not worship a text, nor do I believe in a God that is any less than God like. Of course, humans tend to need to have things explained on their level.
    But really, we could just say agnostic cultist, or Darwinian cultist, or Barrack Obama cultist or Buddhist cultist (and this is my favorite, because it is closest to Budweiser cultist)..it’s really just meant to be dismissive, and insulting, and condescending of others beliefs and opinions…not really carry any meaning, right? Unless of course you are a card carrying member of a cult; then that would be different, I suppose.
    Thanks for calling me sweetie, though usually I only expect that from my wife. But I’m sure, being the understanding type, she will allow for your natural affection toward my obvious charm..

  • JohnW

    When I was five years old, I asked my Dad, “who made God?”. I don’t remember what he said though. As an adult I now think God is the author/creator of everything, so he was not created. It’s like one of the Old Testament names for God, “I AM”.
    This is my belief-I can’t prove it.

  • http://www.dailyduck.blogspot.com Robert Duquette

    John Salmon writes:
    The life is “random, meaningless and foolish” crowd can have no answer to a child who asks, why are we here? Even parental love then has to be as foolish as all else is.
    Who said anything about foolish? How about random, meaningless and wonderful?
    The atheist has to begin with acknowledging that no one knows, or can purport to know, based on science, what happened an instant before the Bang-Planck time (10 -43 sec.) In that interval the laws of physics didn’t appply.
    Agreed. You guys have this notion that athiests pretend to know everything, when the opposite is the case. On my blog my fellow athiests have coined the term “dunnoist” as a better description, since you theists have staw-manned the “a” word into a caricature that applies to practically noone.
    All bets are off, from a scientific view, at least. Why simply reject the Christian view out of hand? Is it so absurd to even consider the possibility that God created the universe?
    I don’t know about other atheists, but I didn’t reject it “out of hand”. I grew up as a Catholic and gave up my faith as an adult, slowly and gradually over many years of reflection.
    And lets talk about wonderful, comforting myths to tell our children. The Christian story goes something like this:
    In the beginning there was God, who is like a super powerful person, except he isn’t made of anything, no body, no head, no brain or anything because stuff wasn’t invented when he was born, he’s the guy who invented stuff. But he wasn’t born, he always existed, alone, floating in nothing because He was the only thing. So he wasn’t like a person because he was made of some kind of spiritual stuff that’s invisible, but he is a man and has a beard.
    Anyhow, one day he got tired of existing all by himself, so he created the universe, the earth, the oceans and land and plants and animals and man all in one week. Everything he made is perfect, because he’s God and can’t make mistakes, except man was born defective, because he sinned, so God punished him, and all the children that came from the first man for ever are guilty of that first sin, even though they’re perfectly innocent and didn’t do nothing. Because of that first sin God will send them to Hell, where they’ll burn forever in excruciating pain, even though they didn’t do anything to deserve it. The only way to avoid going to hell is either to a. get baptized by a Catholic priest and then get some other sacraments and pray a lot and be real good your whole life and then spend a couple of million years in a place just like hell, except you eventually get out and spend eternity in Heaven, or b. don’t get baptized by an evil Catholic priest who will only lead you astray, but believe everything the Bible says literally and believe that Jesus will save you, and also if you do that you’ll never have to be good, because Jesus did away with the Law, which was what God used to tell people to be good or else, and you get to skip Purgatory too.
    Why close a door when you don’t know what’s on the other side?
    Everyone of us closes doors. You’ve closed doors to other faiths. Why not believe in every faith simultaneously? That’s the only way to cover all the bets.

  • http://mysticchords.blogspot.com/ John Salmon

    Robert-
    Of course if one is a “dunnoist”, one is not an atheist.
    It seems to me that if life is “random and meaningless”, then it must ultimately be foolish. Even the “selfish gene” concept can’t be enough-why should I care about who my genes are passed on to? I won’t exist in any form, in a purely materialistic universe.
    Original sin is a difficult concept. There’s no gainsaying that. But while original sin has its power, I still choose to sin, if I do so. And as a Catholic, I know that once I was baptized I no longer have to deal with the guilt of original sin anyway. I was regenerated. (Of course evangelicals understand baptism differently.)
    But any sin I’ve commited since then is on me, if I haven’t sought forgiveness. Why should it be otherwise?
    As far as salvation goes, we are not Calvinists. Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. God is not looking for reasons NOT to save people. In some mysterious way some people who have never heard the name of Jesus will go to Heaven, but who repent and receieve the baptism of desire will be saved. My Church teaches it, and I know it’s true.
    To some extent it does boil down to whether you see life as unfair or not, as a gift or not. That in itself is a critical presupposition.
    Do I deserve the gift of life, of health, of living in the US, of having gotten a good education? No. I didn’t earn these things. God is good, God is generous…whether one lives in the Third World or the First. I can’t convince you that he is so, but maybe you can consider the idea.
    We all close doors-sure, but let’s be sure we’re closing the right ones. There is no way to discuss this or anything else without some presuppositions. But once we acknowledge them, then we can see if they make sense.

  • The Raven

    Nicely put, Robert.
    Stating the fundamental beliefs of Christianity is the most powerful refutation of its claims to coherency. It’s really crazy. Some superbeing creates all reality but feels guilty because it doesn’t experience human life so it incarnates and martyrs itself, and then everything’s a bowl of cherries if, and only if, you develop a “personal relationship” with the disembodied life force of the simulacrum deity figure.
    But wait, there’s more.
    The child of the superbeing is the superbeing, sort of, but isn’t, and that can’t be explained. But it’s a kind of wall between you and the superbeing. Only some people, born a long time ago, were allowed to interact directly with the superbeing. But that can’t happen anymore. Nope. That door has been closed permanently. Now you have to go through the middleman to get messages to and from the superbeing.
    When this decision was made, all “miracles” were to be furthermore ceased. So no more bread into fishes, no more parting of the seas. From this point onward (about 2000 years ago) there would be no more physical manifestations of deitic power. Henceforth only human “belief” would sustain the deity figures.
    So there’s a superbeing you can’t talk to. His kid will pass messages, but you have to believe in both the kid and the superbeing to qualify for a “pass” when you die, or instead of going to the “good place” you go to the “bad place.” It’s a one-shot deal.
    And so Darwin and Dawkins are bad people who go to the bad place, and anybody who had sex before marriage goes to the bad place too. Unless they feel real guilty about it, in which case they throw themselves upon the mercy of the superbeing’s middleman, in which case they get a free pass for their sins because the middleman martyred himself in expectation of the moral failure.
    OK, now I’m even more confused. Can I get a witness?

  • http://www.absolutedominion.blogspot.com Coram Deo

    I honestly can’t understand why you don’t moderate comments here Joe.
    The place is a wreck sometimes, really!

  • http://randomname.blogsource.com Random Name

    I prefer “I don’t know” to a story I made up or somebody made up for me.
    It seems fairly evident that a good deal of the time, human beings are mistaken in what they believe. If that’s the case, caution and skepticism seem sensible.
    I perfectly like the thrust, atheists don’t believe in absolutes, so everything is relative to them, and thus they feel they can do whatever they want because there are no absolutes.
    However, we Christians believe in absolutes, because we have a book of absolutes we know is true, because we absolutely know it’s true.
    Hmm…

  • JohnW

    Ok, I’ll admit it-I don’t “know” anything.

  • http://different-eye.blogspot.com/ mark

    Coram: moderate it!? I admire Joe for letting all opinions in–interesting discussions ensue. A mess? How so? A mutual admiration society–as one too often sees in “blogs”– gets dull quickly, except for those perhaps who merely want their prejudegments confirmed and reinforced.

  • JohnW

    I agree with Mark, Joe Carter’s blog is a free speech zone. Good for him

  • Rob Rumfelt

    This illustrates beautifully just how “broken” the atheist story and philosophy is. And, yes, it IS a story that humans will use to help live their lives. If humans are merely another “otherthing”, as atheism would assume, then any elite person or group who thinks their way is better will have a go of it. Just ask the Russian people.
    All of these musings are fun to read, but ideas usually have real-life consequences. Sometimes a person needs to get out of the theoretical and into the world.
    Unless you’re postmodern. Then, I’m sorry.

  • RB

    From the dictionary:
    “An atheist is one who denies the existence of a deity or of divine beings. An agnostic is one who believes it impossible to know anything about God or about the creation of the universe and refrains from commitment to any religious doctrine.”
    Therefore, an “I dunnoist” would be an agnostic. An atheist firmly states there is no God. Don’t blame Christians for coopting your definitions when you can’t even seem to get the concepts right yourself.
    Your rewriting of the Christian story would be more compeling if you had anything other than absurdity to offer in its place—sadly, you don’t.
    In the words of that wise man Bono, “what you don’t know, you can feel it somehow.” Unfortunately, many have put high doses of novicane into their spiritual selves..

  • Cheesehead

    Robert & Raven: The resident antagonists that Joe has around here get livid when Joe mocks their beliefs and does not treat them with the gravitas and respect to which they feel they are entitled. (See the free will post for an example.) However if it’s you guys dishing it out rather than taking it, then apparentely it’s OK.

  • Rob Ryan

    “From the dictionary:
    ‘An atheist is one who denies the existence of a deity or of divine beings.'”
    The Lexicographers are a bit behind on this one, RB. Many people who do not state with absolute certainty that no deity exists consider themselves atheists. For this reason, many sources divide atheism into “weak” atheism and “strong” atheism. Interestingly, while my dictionary defines “atheist” the same way yours does, the definition for “atheism” is “a disbelief in the existence of deity”. According to the dictionary, many of those you would call agnostic are adherents to atheism.
    Many theists like to define “atheist” in such a way that atheists must claim an unprovable negative, making their position almost as untenable as theists who claim an unprovable positive. Language belongs to the people, not the lexicographers. We don’t have an academy like the French to dictate usage; we only have various authorities whose views often conflict. Therefore, I feel a person who does not believe in a god or gods has every right to call himself an atheist, the same as those rare birds who state with extreme confidence “There is no god”.

  • http://www.dailyduck.blogspot.com Robert Duquette

    The resident antagonists that Joe has around here get livid when Joe mocks their beliefs and does not treat them with the gravitas and respect to which they feel they are entitled. (See the free will post for an example.) However if it’s you guys dishing it out rather than taking it, then apparentely it’s OK.
    I’m not livid, I enjoy such back and forth. Joe seems unusually obsessed with stamping out materialism, even for an evangelical. Fair enough, but he’s going to have to use heavier firepower than warmed over Greek sophistry, but I enjoy the opportunity to dismantle his latest attempts at logic.
    Speaking of “sell by” dates, Plato’s theory of forms was giving off odors in the medieval period when William of Ockham cleaned out the Western intellectual refrigerator and tossed it in the dustbin. Joe’s arguments are pretty much reliant on this one faulty theory.

  • ishkabibble

    But there is one unfortunate group — the children of materialists — that has no creation myth to call its own. When an inquisitive tyke asks who created the sun, the animals, and mankind, their materialist parents can only tell them to read a book by Carl Sagan or Richard Dawkins.
    I am always struck at how utterly myopic your worldview is. I won’t need a MYTH to explain the world and the cosmos. When my daughter asks where did the world come from I have a powerful and amazing and most of all TRUE story to tell her.
    I will never be caught in some heavy handed rationlization about dinosaurs or the age of rocks or the half life of atomic material. You on the other hand will resort to fanciful tales about people made of dust and chariots of fire and a god that seems to have been very loquacious for a time but is now totally silent.
    And Carl Sagan is great writer, Dawkins not so much.

  • RB

    Rob Ryan,
    I think you should take your argument up with those who compose dictionaries most people commonly use.
    If you don’t know or deny with certainty, but believe, it seems like agnostic covers the bill. But, call yourself what you want; obviously no one can take that away from you.
    At least your willing to admit that it’s what you BELIEVE. That’s the interesting part.

  • RB

    Further Rob, your defending that “I dunnoist” is best defined in the category of an atheist? That’s what I was reacting to, and I don’t think your parsing and categorizing, and reconstruction of the word makes that work, still.

  • The Raven

    Fromage e tete: …when Joe mocks their beliefs and does not treat them with the gravitas and respect to which they feel they are entitled
    When you say “respect” here, are you implying that it is mockery to render the tenets of Christianity into simple, plain language? E.g., a deity figure incarnates itself, then establishes its physical manifestation as an intercessory deity, etc.
    Actually, it’s when we strip away all the hoo-hah that we see more clearly just what it is that the Evangelical is proposing as being more rational, more logical, more reasonable in terms of a philosophical framework than, say, a materialist-oriented view underpinned by evidence and the scientific method.
    At least bear in mind that it is the ideas themselves that I find bizarre and I’m always game for discussing them. Recall that I’ve repeatedly asked for a definition of what, exactly, is meant by the word “God” in the context used here, and no one yet has deigned to take a stab at an answer. That’s fine – but do permit me to avoid using the term, and the rest of the “gravitas”-loaded language, because I’m not comfortable using words that I don’t understand (and am fairly certain are not clearly understood even by the believers who use them).
    What does it mean, for example, to say that “I am cleansed of my sin by the blood of Christ”? I’ll bet that any three adherents who attempted to explain this would have different views of what this is supposed to mean and would express it in differing terms.
    Or, here’s another example of what I’m driving toward: In the “materialist” posting, we have been presented with the suggestion that the religious adherent acknowledges and interacts with the “non-material.” And that’s just left there, bald and gleaming, and we’re all supposed to intuit what is meant by it. For some, perhaps this references the act of prayer, and for others, perhaps it represents “the unknowable” or somesuch. But in any event, when language is used this loosely, it becomes almost meaningless. So my post was intended to avoid this sort of misunderstanding. Sorry if the cajoling tone was abrasive.

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Cheesehead,
    The resident antagonists that Joe has around here get livid when Joe mocks their beliefs and does not treat them with the gravitas and respect to which they feel they are entitled. [ … ] However if it’s you guys dishing it out rather than taking it, then apparently it’s OK.
    Joe’s mocking is actually a back-handed display of respect.
    He is saying that all of us, atheists and agnostics included, are worthy of being prosyletized and challenged. Beyond that, he is also saying that atheistic beliefs themselves are worthy of debate and consideration.
    If Joe truly had no respect for atheism, he wouldn’t bother to engage it. For instance, even when he claims to hate Richard Dawkins, he has some residual respect for his position by trying to understand it in the first place, and by trying to refute it.
    We are all, each of us, in the great game of life together. We all share in its comedy and its tragedy.
    Sometimes we get snarky and nasty with each other, but at heart it is an intra-family dispute, for we are all brothers and sisters. (If someone can’t stomach that, he still has to admit at the very least that we are all distant cousins.)
    As Mark and JohnW point out, Joe has the good sense (and strength of character) to tolerate and encourage dissent at the Evangelical Outpost. I think dissent is most worthwhile when it is civil, but very few people follow rules of etiquette all the time. If people are willing to listen to each other, then that is the most important thing. If people are willing to listen to each other, I am hopeful people can learn to understand and respect each other.
    And with understanding and respect, sometimes people will even end up agreeing with each other!

  • Rob Ryan

    “At least your willing to admit that it’s what you BELIEVE. That’s the interesting part.”
    I’m glad you find it interesting, although I don’t find it at all out of the ordinary. I don’t believe in a god or gods, and I say so; what is interesting about that? Why should I claim knowledge I can’t possibly possess? I accord gods the same respect I do Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and Invisible Pink Unicorns; I don’t believe in them, but I do not state that they do not exist.
    “Further Rob, your defending that “I dunnoist” is best defined in the category of an atheist?”
    I suspect that at least some “I dunnoists” would best be defined as atheists and some would not. The term “agnostic” is not strong enough to describe my position, for example. All too often, the term is defined as “one who doubts the existence… etc.” “Doubt” is far too weak with regard to my position concerning the triune god of Christianity, for instance; I would bet a million dollars against a day-old doughnut on that one. In fact, I’m sure most Christians would concede that I’m betting a great deal more than that, just as you are betting your “eternal soul” against the truth of other exclusive religious beliefs.

  • RB

    Rob R:
    “I accord gods the same respect I do Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and Invisible Pink Unicorns; I don’t believe in them, but I do not state that they do not exist.”
    That’s laughable. Especially since you would be very safe in saying that these you cite do not exist. I wouldn’t want to pin my theology, or lack thereof on that kind of dorm room thinking.
    I don’t consider myself a betting man. I do consider that I’ve developed a well thought out and reasoned decision to faith. And, it certainly does require a leap of faith, but one which is supported by evidence and experience that I accept as real.
    If I have placed my faith in the wrong religion (formalized faith), I am in God’s hands, and expect he will act justly and fairly, knowing the hearts of men.
    If you’re million dollar wager is correct, I’ll not experience a millisecond of regret. But I do think the odds are actually very against you. You won’t accept it, but the odds of even a single living cell developing by chance, time, and matter alone are beyond believable.
    The self existent is powerful, full of energy and intellect. Otherwise, the opposite is true, and nothing we see points to that…

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    RB,
    The self existent is powerful, full of energy and intellect. Otherwise, the opposite is true, and nothing we see points to that…
    I don’t understand what you mean when you write “the self existent”. What do you mean by that?
    … the odds of even a single living cell developing by chance, time, and matter alone are beyond believable.
    If something has happened, then the odds of it happening were 100%. If something cannot happen, then the odds are zero.
    Arthur Conant Doyle had Sherlock Holmes observe that, “When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

  • RB

    Matthew,
    What I mean is that either the self existent is nothingness, and matter, and time, and chance, and it has all of the properties to produce everything you and I know as real, or it it something else.
    We all find ourselves faced with a seemingly absurd decision. It’s that, stated above, or what is at the core of everything contains life, intellect, power, energy, and I would even say love.
    Otherwise, we must believe that all of this power and energy and life that we witness is an accident of time, matter and chance.
    We cannot ever get beyond the idea that we have to believe that something is self existent and whole unto itself.
    The universe, as we know it, was created in less than a blink of an eye. It does not exhibit the properties of the self existent, and will, as science has told us end someday in its current form.
    There is something greater that has been involved, otherwise, we are left with nothingness breeding more nothingness. The greater entity is the self exisiting.
    And, I wasn’t trying to diminish Mr. Ryan, but that is a much larger thing to think about than the Easter Bunny.

  • http://www.dailyduck.blogspot.com Robert Duquette

    John Salmon writes:
    It seems to me that if life is “random and meaningless”, then it must ultimately be foolish. Even the “selfish gene” concept can’t be enough-why should I care about who my genes are passed on to? I won’t exist in any form, in a purely materialistic universe.
    There’s a couple of ways to address this. First, it is possible that there is a god and that he created the universe, you and me for a purpose, but that purpose might not be something that would be meaningful to us. Theists conflate two separate ideas when they talk about a purposeful universe, that it was created by an intelligent being, and that they will have a life after death. There is no logical reason to assume that god’s purpose includes your eternal life. The latter doesn’t follow from the former.
    Secondly, for a person to find meaning and purpose in life doesn’t depend on whether the universe was created with meaning or purpose. For all we know meaning, like personhood, is solely an artifact of our existence and may have no meaning at the level of the universe. Maybe it does, but I’m not holding my breath for a voice out of the blue to explain it to me.
    Finding meaning in life is a practical problem for every person. Meaning and purpose are human requirements, it is part of our nature to seek them. It is not something bestowed upon us or something we get from the environment like air or water, it is something we create for ourselves. The best writer on meaning has to be Victor Frankl. Frankl was a holocaust survivor, and he observed that even in the most harsh circumstances people are able to create meaning in order to endure their suffering. Indeed, he observed that it is only those who were able to create meaning who survived.
    Now whether the universe has a meaning or not it is there, and I exist. It is a given. If I want to survive I have to find meaning in my existence. And I do. There is no reason that I have to live forever in order to find meaning, a finite life is good. It is better than no life.
    Let me ask you one question: if you can’t find meaning in a finite life, what makes you think you will find an infinite life meaningful? Lets phrase this in a mathematical equation where L is some finite interval of life, and M(L) is the meaning function that determines the meaning quantity of that life interval. So if finite life is meaningless we have: M(L) = 0
    But what happens if we multiply M(L) by infinity, how much meaning is there. Multiplying both sides by infinity (I) we get: M(L)*I = 0*I
    And as we know from math class,anything times zero equals zero. So the challenge of finding meaning in life is the challenge of finding meaning in a moment. If you can do that, you can live a meaningful life of whatever length. If you can’t, then you’ll never find meaning no matter how much life you are given.

  • RB

    Robert D.,
    Perhaps you are correct. Perhaps the meaning in the moment is what God is all about. Perhaps He wishes us all to experience that moment (and the moment is eternal), through intellect and teaching, and the things that are going on now forvever, and for His eternal love expressed to us through Jesus.

  • RB

    Matthew,
    I would also point out that you allow this for your world view:
    “Arthur Conant Doyle had Sherlock Holmes observe that, “When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”
    But you deny it to the ones here that argue the other side..

  • rhys

    I’ve been an atheist for quite a few years now, but after reading that satire it’s pointed out the ridiculousness of my beliefs.
    Something from nothing. ha! what was i thinking..
    Just one question before my transition to theism is complete.
    Where did God come from?

  • RB

    rhys,
    Where did matter, time, and chance come from?
    It’s and endless circle, aye?

  • rhys

    How about..it just always existed..?

  • Olivia

    You should check out http://www.oltiv.org for some very compelling discussions on this and other topics

  • Olivia

    You should check out http://www.oltiv.org for some very compelling discussions on this and other topics

  • Olivia

    You should check out http://www.oltiv.org for some very compelling discussions on this and other topics

  • Olivia

    You should check out http://www.oltiv.org for some very compelling discussions on this and other topics

  • Thorngod

    Folks, the phrase “In the beginning” is meaningless in reference to what is. If by “nothing” or “nothingness” or such is meant “utter absence of anything,” then the notion is absurd. No scintilla of anything could have arisen from
    nothing at all. To the Theist, of course, there’s no problem, and everything is created in God’s and RB’s “blink of an eye.” Prior to this event, nothing was (in the material sense)–which raises some interesting questions.
    If God created the universe, then theoretically we could measure the elapsed time since creation; the world, in other words, has existed a definite number of days, an exact number of statable hours and minutes. Whether it was 13½ billion years, or Bishop Usher’s mere 6,000 and a few, makes vanishingly little difference as against God’s eternity. In that context, we can say that the universe was created just a moment ago. That being the case, I would ask just what the Creator might have been doing throughout eternity, since he existed forever before the creation. Did God no know his own mind?
    Another thing. If I am to accept the theist’s version of isness, then, prior to creation of the world, there was only God. God was all. There could have been no “other” or “outer.” From what, then, did he create? He could only have created from himself, from Godstuff. There is no getting around this one, folks. I suggest you read Spinoza, for you have been worshipping a false god.
    There was no “beginning.” That is a concept derived from ordinary experience, in which everything deteriorates and new forms emerge or are invented. Yet every half-educated person understands, however vaguely, that this is illusory; it is merely a conversion from one form to another, from one state of mass and energy to another. Nothing excapes from existence; “where,” after all, would it go? Counterwise, nothing arises from nowhence. As impossible as it is for us transcient beings to imagine “eternity” or “always” or “foreverness,” such is necessarily the case.
    Democritis realized this 2400 years ago. Most intelligent humans today should not find it too difficult to exercise the modest amount of brain power required to establish that necessary conclusion.
    God belief and creation myths are as old as our race, and I doubt they will ever entirely disappear. I’m not sure I would want them to. Would life still be as entertaining? Odd, how pounding on the heads of “believers” is so much more fun than pounding on actual rocks.

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  • LaughAtTheBible

    First of all. Saying I DON’T KNOW is better than telling an unproved tale of epic ridiculousness. In saying I don’t know, you acknowledge that mankind’s knowledge is incomplete and that there are more answers to discover. Being content with a theological story of creation is not the path to enlightenment. Enlightenment is the state of knowing everything. While science will never completely enlighten us, it will get us as close as possible (for the calculus geeks like me, enlightenment is a limit).

    Second, that is a horrid misrepresentation of the big bang theory. A common misconception is that there was nothing before the big bang. There is evidence that matter existed before the big bang, which caused the universe to occur. While this is quite dandy, it is not enough for theists. It is not enough for scientists, but they try to expand upon it, not refute it because it hasn’t been proved (and no, you can’t use that argument, because the bang actually has evidence, unlike creationism).

    I’ve said this before, and i’ll say it again. JUST BECAUSE WE DON’T HAVE ENOUGH INFORMATION TO PROVE THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE WITHOUT REFERRING TO GOD, DOESN’T MEAN THERE ISN’T A SCIENTIFIC EXPLANATION FOR LIFE, THE UNIVERSE, AND EVERYTHING.

  • Esaumcmorris

    What kind of evidence does the big bang theory have?  It takes as much faith to believe in the big bang as it does for me to believe in creationism.  We all have faith.  it is just a matter of what we have faith in.  There are animals crawling on your skin right now that you cannot see.  That does not mean they are not there just because they are invisible.  With all the advancement we have in cience why have we not solved the worlds problems.  The fact that we have such a flawed world with selfish greedy people is prove that The Bible is true and accurate.