Melanie Good (vegmum) wrote,
Melanie Good

Wow! It's been a while since I've updated. Can you tell I've started my first semester at Pitt? It's going really well, but taking up a lot of time (as was expected). Anyhow, my continuation was supposed to use all sorts of scientific data to describe exactly what happens to our bodies when we die. But truly, I just don't have the time to reproduce the exact studies and statistics right now. Suffice it to say that when we die, our energy changes forms by biochemical reactions, and some releasing of heat. Energy is not "missing" from the equation, so therefore the "energy leftover = soul" argument doesn't hold much water.

Of course I'm happy to answer the comments that "anonymous" left me, although I'm wondering why "anonymous" did not identify him/herself, and if they even know me. It's strange how most atheists I know will not go randomly searching for believer's blog's and post comments attempting to refute them, but it is not uncommon at all for an atheist to "come out of the closet" and have all sorts of strangers who are believers trying to refute them. Why they think it is their business what a total stranger writes is beyond me. But, I will play the game and answer the questions.

First, the amount of "energy and intelligence" I've spent here is not in defense of why there is no God. You are taking the exact approach that I mentioned. You are putting up a positive assertion (that there is a God), and trying to paint me in the light of refuting that assertion. Again, I repeat, if I made a positive assertion--that there is a cavity monster that gives us cavities in our teeth, and asked you to refute it, it would be next to impossible to do so, because I could say he was invisible or only came out at certain phases of the moon or that you were somehow missing him. I could show you the cavities in my teeth as "proof" of the monster's handiwork. We could go on and on forever. The reason is because it's not a testable hypothesis. A testable hypothesis can be subject to scientific study and corroborated by such findings or found to be incorrect by such findings. But supernatural phenomenon are not testable hypotheses. So don't try to turn the tables on me. All I have spent my "energy and intelligence" on is answering people's questions as to why I only consider phenomenon that *are* testable, and do not delve into positive supernatural assertions.

Second, the amount of "energy and intelligence" I've expended really doesn't have to do with faith. The dictionary defintions of faith do not say anything about, if someone expends a lot of energy on something, that shows faith. The first two definitions in Webster's dictionary are: "1. Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing." and "2. Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence." I guess you could argue that the first definition holds true and that I have faith in the "trustworthiness" of the scientific method. But I think that the connotations of "faith" more closely fit the second definition, and I would be hesitant to say I have "faith" in the scientific method, because that implies that there is no "logical proof or material evidence" for it, when indeed that is exactly what the scientific method is about. I've been told that even if science "proves" that, for instance, the speed of light is 299,792.458 km/s, how do I, personally, really *know* without taking a leap of faith? Well, since there are so many technologies that depend on the speed of light being known, I would think that somehow somewhere a discrepency would have shown up, and besides that, if there is a discrepency, it must be relatively small. It's totally different to actually *measure* something *measurable* and *testable* and say that you know within a reasonable amount of certainty due to many many tests yeilding the same results, that your answer is correct, and then having faith in the .00009% chance that it may be off, from having faith as per definition number two, without logical proof or material evidence.

Furthermore, if you know me, which I'm guessing "anonymous" does not, you know that I take great care to be sure that the concerns of my loved ones are addressed. I am just coming out of the closet about my atheism and I want my loved ones to understand that I have good reasons for being atheist, and that it's not just something I'm doing to be rebellious or different. They don't have to agree, but it's helpful for them to understand where I'm coming from. It's the very same reason I've spent enormous "energy and intelligence" on my website explaining why I had a homebirth and why I nurse my children for so long. It's not because I have any doubt that these are completely valid philosophies; and it doesn't indicate any sort of "faith" as we commonly think of the word, it simply shows that I value the understandable fears of my family and friends enough to address them (even if I feel such fears are totally unfounded).

The rest of the questions "anonymous" puts forth are very simple to answer. Basically it boils down to the fact that I do not need the crutch of religion to explain anything. I do not neet to invoke some supernatural power to explain love. Animals love each other and they surely are not worshipping some God figure. (Some would argue that they do not love as we do and that they simply care for their offspring out of instinct, but I think this is a human-centric way of thinking and doesn't explain two housecats who are not related in any way snuggling each other and cleaning each other). Love is simply a natural emotion that is hardwired into our being and comes from *within* not from *without*. Indeed, it's this human-centric, conceited attitude that only humans are capable of love, that enables us to devalue other animals to the point where we torture them and murder them by the billions and don't bat an eye. How loving is that? When carnivores kill for food they do not cause a fraction of the suffering and torture we impose upon animals we've bred to *trust* us *not* to hurt them. If humans are the epitomy of what love is, that's a pretty sad state of affairs. I would argue that there are many more loving species than homo sapiens. And while there is some degree of chaos and randomness to nature, there is also a good degree of order to nature as well. We are all part of a delicate ecosystem (which we are quickly destroying); we are all interconnected. That is not really random, but a very complex structure. Nature across the universe is a combination of chaos and structure. We can measure the exact orbital path of a planet around the sun, but at the quantum level, there is chaos in our inability to pin down the exact position and velocity of a particle. Chaos and order go hand in hand in nature, and that's perfectly o.k. Why would there need to be some ultimate design for everything in order to explain such things as love?

Love is a product of evolution. It is really an extension to our ability to suffer. Our ability to suffer evolved as an alarm system, because if we attempt to avoid pain and suffering, we have a better chance of being able to live long enough to reproduce. Then because we evolved the ability to have pain, we knew what it feels like to be in pain and suffer, and when another being is suffering, we can easily relate to that pain and suffering because we've experienced it. This is called empathy. Empathy is the root of love. Empathy is passive, and love is active; that's the only difference. Eventually we evolved to realize that when we take our empathy and act upon it by loving another person, that action will be reciprocated in some way (either by procreating with the person, ensuring the person carries on our genes as in the case of our children, a friend giving us some food to eat, etc.), and thus we became creatures that yearned to love and be love because it was good for us evolutionarily.

"Anonymous" points out the obvious that we cannot know the answers to every question. My response to that is, so what's you're point? I'm not trying to answer every question, just some common ones. I'm perfectly o.k. not answering every question. It's people that need to have an answer to every question that invoke a supernatural explanation, because no other explanations are forthcoming. I don't need to do that to be comfortable with my life. I'm o.k. with question-marks in it.

Finally, "anonymous" asks how the idea of a creator makes me feel and implies that I would feel that I must relinquish control, and that I'm not comfortable not being in control. This final question put forth is exactly why I feel "anonymous" doesn't know me as a person. If "anonymous" did, he/she would know that I used to have a strong belief in a creator, and I was pretty well-adjusted at the time. Entering the world of athiesm was not about claiming some control of my life. We are only in control of our lives to a certain degree. We cannot control a drunk driver slamming into our car and killing us. We cannot control the actions of other people, and there is still question as to what extent we can control our own actions. I don't need to be a control freak--I'll let my stepdad do that ;) Instead, I'll be happy doing what I can to positively influence my life and those people's lives around me that I can. But just as I'm o.k. with question marks, I'm certainly o.k. with not having total control over life; indeed that would make life boring if we knew we could control every aspect of it. So it's not about control...

But to answer the question as to how the idea of a creator makes me feel. You want honesty? It makes me laugh like it would make me laugh to find a grown man who still believes in Santa. It's funny, a bit sad and pathetic, but mostly hilarious that humans still have to make wild unprovable assertions in order to be comfortable with their lives, either because they can't explain everything, because they're afraid of their own mortality, or because they want some bigger purpose in life. I don't need to come up with a supernatural being to be happy and comfortable with my life. If you do, that's fine for you--I'll just try not to laugh ;). I feel free now, and I have no desire to return to the fairytale any more than I have a desire to return to believing in Santa Claus. I think I should make a bumpersticker that says something like: Religion, BTDT, got the T-shirt, and moved on....

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