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Update!

Hey everyone. Just wanted to let you know that I have updated the About Mind Conscious section of the blog. I thought that my readers would appreciate learning a little bit about me so I just wrote down a quick little paragraph that is a little more personal about me rather than just what the point of this blog is. I hope you enjoy.

Coming Soon!

I am currently in the works on two blogs (I am not sure which will be posted first). The smaller of the two is under the working title Atheist in your Heart of Hearts and my big project (as I consider it) is going to be called Free Will.

The first is working on the idea that many people, although religious, show many signs of having no true belief in God. Free Will is going to discuss… well, free will. After a lot of pondering, and critically analyzing different ideas, I think I am finally ready to tackle this topic and expect it to be both controversial and very interesting.

Recommended Books

I will continually update this list which contains some books that I have read, books that I am reading, and books that I am soon to read. I hope this guides you to some books that spark your interest. Enjoy 🙂

The God Delusion

The Greatest Show on Earth

The Magic of Reality

Climbing Mount Improbable

The Moral Landscape: How Science can Determine Human Values

Free Will

Lying

The End of Faith

God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing

The Grand Design

The Quantum Universe

The Dhammapada

Against the Grain

Almost two months ago, Russel and Brandi Bellew were sentenced to five years of probation after pleading guilty to negligent homicide in the death of Brandi’s biological son, Austin Sprout. The family belongs to the General Assembly and Church of the First Born. Being members, they believe in “faith healing”, based on a passage in the book of James. With this faith healing belief, when their son was in need of medical attention, they chose to pray rather than seek medical attention for their son. Many atheists are not satisfied with the ruling given to the parents. Many atheists seem to think that this was too lenient and that these people deserved jail time by means of serving justice. Unlike many atheists, I agree with the original punishment.

Many who read this, especially atheists, may have dropped their jaw at the fact that I don’t wish for a harsher punishment on this family. One of the problems I see when in discussions with atheists is we have a tendency to seek vengeance on the religious, and when something like this shows up in the news, we will unleash our fury. I believe that the fury can sometimes be misdirected however, and it leads us to wish for things like parents being sentenced to prison in situations like this.

One of the things that keeps me from agreeing with the atheists’ response to this story rests on my belief in free will, or should I say lack of belief. I don’t believe we have free will (and yes I plan to write about this eventually). I believe that our actions are the result of prior causes that influences the choices we make. These choices, one would come to realize, are made before we are consciously aware of them (I will digress from the free will talk here and leave further description in a later post). From these beliefs, I look at the intentions of an individual. This is where my mercy towards the Bellews arrives.

Something that must be realized is that Russel and Brandi Bellew did not intend to kill their child. They truly believed with all their heart that prayer would heal their child and that their faith would prevail. These people are not dangerous to society, in that they are not psychotic murderers. Aside from this belief they hold, which is dangerous in reality, they have no intentions to hurt anyone. This is why the punishment that they did receive suits their actions so well. In compliance with their probation, they are to notify a doctor whenever any of their remaining six children is sick for more than one day. The only people who were in danger, though remember that this danger is unintended, are now protected under this probation requirement. Something that I would like to add here is that I am unaware of the ages of the children and would hope that their youngest child is at least 13. I think they should be required to report to a doctor until their children are adults.

This is what I believe is to be the purpose of our justice system. Though I do not believe it is always about justice. It is about the safety and well-being of the people. This family does not intend to kill. Their beliefs however have made them a liability, and thankfully, their punishment alleviates the problem.

Beyond the family however, there are some glaring problems with which I am probably back in line with my fellow atheists. My anger lies with the church. As stated in the article that I link you to above, the church leaders and members have been taught that if you seek medical sources for healing, you are going against God. This pressure that is placed on the families, who sadly believe this garbage, put themselves, their children, and many others of which they have an influence, in danger. Again, nobody (I hope) intends to hurt anyone, but this church and those of the like have become a liability.

This shows some problems in the constitution with regards to separation of church and state. It is this that allows a church to demand of its followers to not seek medical treatment, but only to seek prayer to heal. This is where the problem really lies. This is where we need to direct our attention. I think this shows that if we can sometimes set aside our differences, look at what is, and find the real solutions to the real problems, we will take another step towards progress and a better society.

A Moral Atheist

Throughout the history of man. Religion has held the most important questions in life hostage. One of the most important topics that has not been able to escape the grip of todays’ religions is morality. This is not always religions fault however. Society today will shy away from the important questions in life, as most people seem to feel inadequate or not in touch spiritually enough in order to answer these complex rooted questions. It is reasons like this that our world will leave it to the religious leaders to tell us how we should behave, what is morally right, and what is morally wrong. It is here in this post that I take a stand against religion. I will show that religion not only lacks the answers, but no longer has the right to be given the responsibility. We are no longer in need of the aid of stone age books and the delusional leaders force feeding us the answers. Because they are wrong.

Outgrowing Religion

What people may lack when faced with the deeper questions of life is the confidence to pursue enlightenment. True enlightenment. The answers that we are all looking for do not lie in old books written by sheep herders, but in the findings of science, the understanding of what is, the forward discussions of honest and compassionate intellectual thought, and the lessons that we can gather from these practices.

We are an intelligent society. Technology has allowed us to literally find the remnants of the big bang. We understand physics at a particle level and beyond. With each branch of science, one can find an ocean of knowledge, an ocean filled by the progressive minds that devoted their life to a passion of learning and understanding. We are a people who could correct every flaw in a book that today far too many still rely on to live joyously. It is when people understand this fact that progress will come.

Defining Morality

Somewhat cliché, but it must be done here. Morality (Moral is essentially defined the same) is defined in the dictionary as conformity to the rules of right conduct; moral or virtuous conduct. After reading this, I am sure that like me, you thought that this is far too vague a definition. However, people have seemed to relish in the vagueness of this definition of morality. The idea that it applies to each person differently, morality is subjective rather than objective is what many find appealing. While this may be true in certain specific (and typically unimportant) scenarios, this idea is false as it will typically be built on a selfish foundation that holds no tangible meaning.

As someone who holds much of my passion in the world of science, I think we would be better served, as a whole, with a more concrete definition that doesn’t allow vagueness to harbor immoral activities as moral. Perhaps my favorite philosopher, who also wears the hat of a neuroscientist, Sam Harris, attacks this subject as well as anyone could in his book The Moral Landscape. If you choose to read it, you will come to find that I agree with his view on morality just about 100 percent. In this book, he does what I believe was the biggest necessity in taking morality out of the firm grip of religion by defining it in a way that actually cuts to the core of what we all have known to be true morality.

With the readings of Sam Harris, I firmly pass on this definition of morality. Morality is based on the well-being of conscious creatures. As a sunrise brightens a dark room, many questions of morality become more clear. Now it is worth being said that morality is still a very difficult subject. There are many moral scenario’s one can present that take minutes, hours, days, weeks, and so on to solve, and even from here some are not solvable with the limited knowledge we have. Nonetheless, with a clear definition, there is a ground to walk on, and I think that many will realize, it is the ground they were walking on all along.

A Moral Atheist and an Immoral Theist

I now find myself surprised that Christianity (at least for the majority of the population) claims to hold the answers to morality. They also present morality as a cornerstone to their religion, almost as though the religion is based around their moral beliefs. This is clearly untrue. Through reason, atheists establish morality, whereas reason is not a factor in the morality of the religious. It is what God says that is moral. This is why the religious can justify the slaughter of the hundreds of thousands, they can justify racism, sexism, and, on the forefront in today’s society, the suppression of the homosexuals. This is the eyesore in society. Religion is not concerned with the well-being of conscious creatures. They are only concerned with what their God demands.

Take, yet again, an even closer look into the religions that have effected all of our lives and something becomes clear. Morality is but a minor byproduct of the religion itself. Regardless of the fact that their morality is poor, the importance of their morality is virtually nonexistent. Morality is not what is important in religion, what is important is worship. The subservience to an all-powerful being. Bowing to him and giving your life to him is all that matters. Deeds pay but a minor tip in the rewards that God would offer in the after life. Take this example for instance. An atheist could give to charities, doing all they can to help the sick, the hungry, and even helping animals and so on and so forth. This atheist could be all that one defines to be good, but if he does not believe in God, does not bow to God, does not worship God, this man is doomed to hell. What kind of message does this send? Your good deeds truly play almost no role in the reward of everlasting life. The byproduct that it is can be seen when presented with a psychopath that believes in God, an immoral theist one could say. Many of the faithful may claim that he is doomed for hell. This may be a true statement, but all this psychopath must do is accept Jesus, or ask for forgiveness, and his immoral life is rewarded. Why? Because he worships God, and that is all that really matters.

Conclusion

The religious have fooled the world. They have maybe even fooled themselves. The religious powers claim they hold the key to morality. The truth does not exist in that claim. Morality is something that requires reason. Answers to moral dilemmas cannot be found in ancient texts that promote slavery, slaughter, and many more atrocities. Morality is an illusion in religion, which is made all the more clear by my “moral atheist” analogy. At the end of the day, it is not one’s works that send him or her to heaven, it is the worship and subservience to God. There is one thing that many will agree religion does not hold the key to, and that is the key to reason. That key is held by us, the atheists. We embrace reason because it is perhaps our most precious treasure. With reason, we can truly establish a morality that is unlike, and far greater, than any morality told to us before it. We hold the key to morality. Not the religious.

Theism vs. Deism

Because the majority of my posts will be an effort in persuading the believers of some God. I thought this may be a good time to make a distinction between my thoughts on deism and theism.

My arguments are geared primarily towards theists. The reason for this is deism is almost too vague to really argue. One can hear the theory of a deist and the only reply we can probably muster is; “Maybe, I guess.” Typically, the arguments of a deist, even if they were to be right in the end, are unsatisfying to think about with the information we have today.

This does not mean that I think theists have a stronger argument. Theists’ arguments are just intricate enough for skeptics like me to be critical. The standard argument from a deist would be something like; “I believe that there was an ultimate creator who set the constants to the necessary values in order for life to develop. This creator has no abilities to watch us, nor does he care to, and he isn’t all-knowing, or all-powerful.” Other arguments will assert that this god is essentially a scientist, and the universe is a science experiment, or aliens came to earth and laid down the essential elements for life to prosper. Again, all that one can say is, maybe, and ultimately leaving their hypothesis with no weight when you retort; “What evidence do you have that would suggest this?”

Like I said, this does not mean that theists have a stronger argument. I personally think that it is more likely that we are a science experiment, rather than pawns in God’s “perfect” plan. The argument of deists is simply unsatisfying and rather shallow with what we know right now, so the conversation isn’t really worth having (yet?) in my opinion.

So when I am being critical, my points of attack are geared towards theists. Those who believe in an all-knowing, all-powerful being. While I believe that even this debate has an obvious answer, there are enough people who disagree with me, and have rather entertaining arguments, that keep me excited and willing to post my thoughts on the matter. I will probably always enjoy this debate.

– MC

A Word of Wisdom

Since I usually take my time between posts, I thought I would make my site worth coming to more often by trying to post some quick thoughts between posts. I don’t know how often I will do this, but I hope to maybe have one or two small posts between my larger concepts that I wish to discuss. So for my first of hopefully many short posts to come, I would like to talk about an article that my wife showed me that played the catalyst in my thoughts on the effects of Christianity.

Some of you already know that I was raised around many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, as was my wife. In fact she was engulfed in the church. With this history I have had a special bone to pick with Mormons ever since I was a young lad. For those of you unaware with the church’s teachings, there is something within the church known as The Word of Wisdom. In the word of wisdom, I believe verses seven and nine in the link, their interpretation is that caffeine is to be consumed sparingly. They make it a little more intricate than that however. They virtually forbid coffee, tea, soda, and other drinks of the sort. I honestly have not met a single Mormon (and I have met hundreds, upon knowledge of thousands) that drinks coffee or tea, and tea is actually the central topic of this post.

My wife directed me to this article here which talks about the well-known scientific understanding of the benefits of green tea. The focus of the study in the article is on EGCG, a main ingredient in green tea. Studies show that this ingredient aids in the making of neural progenitor cells, which are like stem cells, and the most direct effects were in spacial memory. Further testing showed that EGCG plays a direct role in the development of these cells.

How I tie this into the failure of the word of wisdom is that these findings would have been impossible in a world ruled by the Mormon faith. They didn’t turn to science, they turn to voices that the powerful hear in their heads. The stubbornness will grow even more obvious as I am almost certain that this article would do nothing in changing the minds of the Mormon faithful.

There is also blatant evidence here that they are not truly inspired by God. For if they were, they would already have known of the benefits of tea, and therefore would have never discouraged the use. I know this is small with regards to the entire religion, but when one claims to be inspired of God, you have absolutely no room for error.

Lastly, I would like to stress what a great example this is of the hinderance religion is to society. In a world controlled by religion, we could still find ourselves close to the dark ages in many respects, especially medicine. Science, learning, and honest discussion is how we progress. Reading the same books written by ignorant minds of the past for hundreds of years leaves you, well… In the past.

-MC

The Probability of God

What is more likely: That the laws of nature have been suspended in your favor, and in a way that you approve, or that you’ve made a mistake?

Christopher Hitchens

I chose this quote by Hitchens, utilizing a portion of David Hume’s quote when discussing the probability of miracles, because I think it does a really good job of expelling the idea that miracles, or God, is more likely in any occasion. This belief in actual miracles is sadly a very popular one. People seem to have this notion that if things are really difficult to explain, then the most logical conclusion is to put it into the hands of God. What I plan to do here is show that this in fact makes matters worse for those who do not like the idea of things being “too complex.”

Before looking at some of the most “convincing” arguments that theists believe they have when attempting to prove that God is the more logical answer to the more difficult questions of life (primarily, our existence). I would like to turn to the widely known, Pascal’s Wager.

Pascal’s Wager

For many theists, Pascal’s wager can be one’s strongest argument. At a glance, the argument appears logical, looking at the different avenues one can take, weighing the pro’s and cons, and finally coming to the conclusion that God is clearly the best decision to make. I believe that the logical mirage attracts many theists because if it makes logical sense to them, then they think that it will appeal to skeptics, or at least leave us speechless. Both assumptions are incorrect.

Let’s look at the wager now before moving on;

Pascal’s Wager:

1. God is, or He is not.

2. You must wager, it is not optional.

3. Let us weigh the gain and the loss of wagering that God is. If you gain, you gain all. If you lose, you lose nothing.

4. Wager then, without hesitation, that He is. There is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite. And so our proposition is of infinite force, when there is the finite to stake in a game where there are equal risks of gain and loss, and the infinite to gain.

As I hope people can quickly see, there are some obvious missteps in logic here, and off the cusp, I do not direct my critical thoughts towards Blaise Pascal, as I can see how in his time, one could be limited to a world view that would make this argument logically air tight. I am critical of those today that choose this argument. I hope in my proving this wager illogical, and therefore irrelevant, that it will inspire those who believe they have other strong arguments to be truly critical of their arguments because in the end, we will all be better off.

Let me begin the “disproof” here. God is, or He is not. This statement is true, but not completely. I will return to it soon.

You must wager. This statement is also true. In fact, it is probably the only 100% true statement.

The wager goes on to say: Let us weigh the gain and the loss of wagering that God is. If you gain, you gain all. If you lose, you lose nothing. This is where everything needs to be stopped as everything crashes down on this wager. What is the gain if God is? Well, assuming you not only wagered that God is, but you wagered that the correct God is. We cannot forget that there have been thousands of God’s in history. One could even eliminate the majority leaving us with the God of the Muslims, Jews, and Christians. But wait a minute, all of these God’s are kind of the same one as they all branch off from Abraham in the old testament. And now it is all the more complex. You may wager on the correct God, but even then, you must be on the same page as this God (i.e. being Christian doesn’t help if God is a Muslim, and vice versa). And then we can look at the different sects of Christianity (and be aware that this is just Christianity). Some of these sects claim that if you aren’t part of their version of Christianity, you might as well be an atheist – in that you’re going to hell. This is why the first statement of the wager is not completely true. One does not simply have a 50-50 shot but in some cases, the odds of selecting the correct God is as likely as winning the lottery. In a quick search I made, it can be argued that your odds are at best somewhere in the ballpark of 1 in 102,000,000,000. Now, imagine that you have chosen the correct God. With the points I have made above, one can relate this to choosing the correct lottery numbers and going to collect your winnings, only to find out that the numbers are not in the correct font. That is the kind of situation that we are setting when wagering for or against God.

So if one wishes to take those odds on, what is the loss if you are wrong? To say nothing is absurdly incorrect. One will most certainly lose the opportunity to experience reality to the fullest. They will lose the opportunity to live this life as though it is the only one they will ever have in the infinity of everything. And I must add that of the infinity, our existence is but a spec of a spec of a spec. I believe that without this belief, one cannot fully experience love, beauty, happiness, passion, or a life anywhere near its full potential; Thereby rendering the fourth statement irrelevant. For if you choose that there is a God, and there is not, you have lost the only life you will ever have in the infinity of everything.

The Beauty of the World

Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?

Douglas Adams

One of the primary reasons that people believe in God is that when they look out at everything around them, they see so much beauty that they believe that there must be a God behind the beauty. This extends out into the night sky. When one looks at the stars, the beauty can take one’s breath away. This almost becomes an illusion of a painting, as though they begin to believe that God painted the night sky, or everything beautiful around them, for they themselves. This is merely a sign of ignorance.

People tend not to enjoy studying the findings of science, especially the religious, and what this leads to is a narrow view of everything around them. From here, when in search of answers to what they observe, their conclusions are, perhaps as should be expected, simple, but above all, incorrect. This leads me to the next argument that any theist may use when discussing the likelihood of God, which is that everything on this earth and out into the universe is so beautiful and orderly, and therefore complex, that there must have been some intelligence behind it. Again, this is an argument that was not completely thought out.

It appears to me when I look at this argument, that theists once again show a poor habit of coming up with an idea, and if this idea fits into the reality in which they wish to live, they make the mistake of assuming it correct, and from there, critical analysis of the idea lies dormant. What the theist does not realize that they are saying is, “This universe is so complex, that it could not have come from nothing. God must have created the universe and everything within it.” This confuses me. Too complex? Okay then, if this is too complex then one certainly cannot believe in God.

If you believe that the universe is too complex to come from nothing, then how can you believe that an all-knowing, all-powerful being can come from nothing? You have made things even harder on yourself. If the retort is that God is outside of space and time, that is simply a cop-out statement because you obviously don’t understand what space and time is if you are going to say that.

Lastly, the scientific explanation actually follows your wish of being less complex. We see the universe go from complete anarchy, to being somewhat more stable. This all occurs simply through the laws of physics. Some hobby-level studying of the beginnings of the universe is not hard to come by. And if you are someone who has used this argument before, there is obviously enough interest there to research a little bit more. And thanks to the brilliant theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, one can read a very well written book on how in fact a universe can come from nothing.

Anthropic Principle

The anthropic principle is probably the strongest argument I’ve ever heard when in discussions with theists concerning the probability of God. This argument tends to involve the most numbers, which gives the illusion of being scientific, and at first glance can appear to discredit any ideas of a universe without the help of God.

The idea of the anthropic principle argument is that the fundamental constants of the universe appear to be perfectly fine tuned for life. The proposal then is, either nature happened to fall into this narrow range of constants, or an intelligent creator set these constants in order for life to flourish. In order to boast the side of God, numbers are given of the incredibly low probability of these constants being what they are by chance. From here, this fine tuning is implied to be evidence for God. This argument is strong in the sense that there are only a couple of things wrong with it. These incorrect points however, are critical to the argument being worth its weight.

Perhaps the biggest problem is the conclusion. What makes this problem worse is that from there, the argument can be deconstructed to nothing.

The claim that the fine tuning is evidence for God is completely incorrect. In a discussion I had with my brother, who has his degree in physics, we discussed what constitutes as evidence. Evidence, as we all should know, must be falsifiable. The constants are not falsifiable, and not testable, therefore not evidence. I can be more critical about this. When we observe something in nature, we make a hypothesis about what we observe and then test predictions that are made by the hypothesis. When one claims that the fine tuning is evidence for God, they are wrong in this claim, because the fine tuning is not a specific prediction of the hypothesis that a creator is responsible for our existence. The reason why this is not a specific prediction is because the fact that we are all here means that there must be a “fine tuning”. God does not determine the fine tuning, our existence implies the fine tuning, and because we exist, this fine tuning could never be falsified. And the fact that the fine tuning cannot be evidence for God pulls away the foundation for the entire argument, rendering it worthless when trying to prove God’s existence.

Conclusion

I hope that I have shown that when discussing the probability of God, there is no longer a debate. God is an ancient idea that has been recreated over and over again by an ignorant past that lacked the resources that technological advancement, and brilliant minds have granted us. We need not be shackled by the words of the ignorant. There is a beautiful, awe-inspiring reality waiting to be discovered by each and every one of us. Looking at the probability, there probably is no God, and that is a great thing.

Two Minds on Spirituality

While I am in between blog posts, I thought that I would interest my readers by showing them a conversation that I recently had with fellow wordpress blogger, Sagacity Plateau.

While in search of a new and interesting blog, I stumbled onto Sagacity Plateau’s and the first post I read immediately sparked my interest. With my interest came a simple question that turned into an interesting exchange of ideas, much like the kind of exchanges I hope to provoke in many of my posts to come.

The discussion I am about to post looks at spirituality, with a focus on the question: Can one be truly atheist, and spiritual. I am not sure if we came to agree with eachother completely by the end of this, but the discussion was definately enjoyable for both of us.

For those of you looking for some interesting posts that will give the mind plenty to ponder, I encourage you to read his blog here, http://sagacityplateau.wordpress.com/.

I will begin by posting the post of his that sparked the conversation, followed by each of our comments word for word. Enjoy!

The Truth

People always want the quick fix for life problems. It is in our nature. So many turn to books to try and gain a solution. This is why we have religion. Confusion is the lack of understanding. They scour the pages for words to provide a quick fix by comprehending someone elses understanding and using it as their own. Normally once satisfied, time passes and the problem reoccurs. This is because your nature to not want to have to think has prevented you from filling the void of your questions in the first place. You have become unknowingly self defeating; no thinking required.

See, as a single being, you are who you are and nothing from the outside can change that; it could influence, but never change it. So the answers to your own happiness doesn’t fall with the text and ect. of someone elses understanding, but within the understanding of ones self. I believe the path to God; we all believe in the same God; but the path to God is in no book for you to gain insight, but is within understanding. It is within true self enlightenment that we find the true keys to life. From within…………..thats jus how I feel about it lol

Comments:

Mind Conscious:

I am still left a little curious after reading, are you religious?

Sagacity Plateau:

Yes, I am spiritual above being the lesser “religious”. Are you religious?

MC:

I am not religious. I am an atheist, However, I do believe in spiritual experience. I just do not believe that the experience is “mystical” or outside of the purview of natural order.

SP:

I do understand. You know than you can reach a level of spirituality that is beyond what “religions” teach. To me, no one is truly “atheist”, but just do not accept the training programs of “religions”. There is no way to be truly “atheist” and spiritual at the same time. I do respect your beliefs. Being spiritual, I do have friends that are Atheist, Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, Wiccans, and more (Except Satanist lol, though I have known some and have even read parts of their “bible” out of curiosity). I am able to go to cathedrals, covenants, mosque, temples and ect. without guilt and all. I do not worship of course, but I can be there and get invited often to many religious events. Engage that spiritual side of you, lose the titles and be what we are all meant to be; free. Sorry for the long reply.

MC:

Not a problem. I think for the sake of experience, attending a church service can be interesting. I am curious about what you mean when you say that there is no way to be truly atheist and spiritual at the same time, because at face value, I disagree. We may be defining each term differently. Could you elaborate on that?

SP:

Buckle up. Well per my understanding, Atheism is the “belief” of no deity or like you said “mystical” beings. Yet you said that you believe in “spiritual experiences”. Spiritual experiences is the result of the existence, or acknowledgement knowingly or unknowingly of the theological “heart” aka “soul” aka many other things lol. You can not have one without the other. Atheism rejects mans created and general training of “religions”. What mans training doesn’t do is tell humans who they truly are.

Did you know that everything in the known universe is made from the exact same base products…everything. Did you also know that there is an energy that moves Everything in the known universe. Now take away ambitious mens desire for control and religions. If we are all
“creations”(humans,stars,animals,dirt,ect)(which we are) via evolution which has many facts or other chosen beliefs, and ALL things require and use this SAME energy, then one must assume that the energy is “God” and we truly ARE a piece of God. “All things were created in Gods image”; not physically, but in Essence.

Embrace that spirituality that you feel and embrace God and there will be no need for human titles….if you choose

MC:

I hope that you are buckled up and ready because after my response, I would like to guide you to an article on this matter, so you should have plenty to read here.

You claim that spiritual experience is the EXISTENCE of the theological “heart”, “soul”, etc. This is not true.

Let us not forget the meaning of the word spirit which comes from the latin spiritus, which is derived from the Greek term pneuma, meaning breath.

Throughout history, the term spiritual has been held hostage by the religions of the world to take on supernatural meanings. This does not need to be the case, as you appear to think that it does.

Spiritual experience does not require the mystical, or the “theological heart” at all. I have a great passion for science and the universe that I am apart of. Simply with my knowledge and understanding of my conscious experience in the universe (thanks in large parts to my learning from theoretical physicists and those of the like), something as simple as looking into the night sky, even a sun rise or sun set (really any point in the day), feeling a breeze flow around me, I can feel so incredibly connected to the everything that I can be just about brought to tears. None of these emotions need the aid of the supernatural, or any hope of anything more than what is.

That is just a brief example. Many of my other “spiritual experiences” comes from a greater understanding of what is. There is a lot to know about the universe and everything in it. I will never understand it all, but I continue to grow, and it is moments like that for me when I truly have the feeling of what the religious might consider “ascension.”

In closing, I would like to quote physicist Lawrence Krauss; “Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics: You are all stardust.”

It is things like this that I find my spiritual experience. And that is just the tip of the iceburg. I don’t need to call it God, I have a passion for knowledge and what is. That is what I consider spiritual experience.

Here is a link to an article on this subject which adds another two cents but worth reading:

http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/a-plea-for-spirituality

SP:

I definitely will read those two articles. When I say “spiritual” I do not mean spiritual as in supernatural, but spiritual as in a level of deeper understanding of the universe and the place of all beings in it. When I say “God” I do not mean “God” as in a supernatural God but “God” as in where all things get their essence as I mentioned. Science still has a long way to go in understanding the dynamics of the human mind and I realize that through the continued advancement in neuroscience we will ultimately figure out the “magic” of the human mind which for all intensive purposes is what makes up what can be considered the soul. When I say “we” I mean we as in scientist as I am a biotech major with the ultimate goal of a focus in genetics and steam cell research. The soul, regardless of beliefs, scientifically speaking could very well be considered the “mechanism” of cognition or vise versa. Yes, simply put we are stardust, and that is what I mentioned as well when I said that ALL things are made up of the same base chemicals. To sum up all that I am saying and have said; it is the energy that is the essence. It is the energy that I consider “God” or “the source”. And it is this energy that scientifically moves everything. If time and space is truly infinite, then “God”/”The source” is indeed the Alpha and the Omega.

I would like to make a post of our conversation in a question and answer format. Do you mind? If you would like me to not use WP handle let me know. If you don’t mind me using your WP handle let me know as well.

MC:

Yes, I was hoping to be able to do the same on my page. I think this was a great exchange.

I would like to point out that even with your interpretation of God and spiritual, my arguement that one can be truly atheist (which I am) and spiritual still stands.

I would also like to put this onto my page, I would like to post your original blog that sparked this conversation in order for readers on my page to have a fuller understanding of our discussion. After that I will simply apply each comment word for word from each of us. Are you okay with this?

Lastly, I really enjoyed this sharing of ideas. I think that it still has room for continued pondering, yet was satisfying in the conclusions that I believe one can draw from the conversation. Thank you.

SP:

Yes, it has been a great exchange of information and you may use the conversation for your blog.

MC:

Thank you 🙂

Religious Tolerance

The subject of religious tolerance is unique. It is maybe the only topic that one can find differing religious philosophies and even atheists teaming together on. The spectrum is typically as follows; Passionate religious people may be against religious tolerance, except when it comes to their own beliefs of course. Passionate atheists, like myself, will say that religious tolerance is simply a way of smuggling a social time bomb further into the future. Then, there are the light-hearted religious folk teamed up with the agnostics of the world saying live and let live. The idea that all philosophies should coexist as everyone is accepting of all ideas.

Like I stated above, I am against religious tolerance. I hope to show you that while the argument that religious tolerance is the most peaceful means of functioning as a society is appealing at face value, it does not take long to see the hate and suffering that this argument condones.

Before going further from here, I would like to preemptively end a potential argument that could arise quickly. I in no way support any forceful measures being taken to rid the world of religion. What I mean by that is violence is in no way part of the solution. I believe that education, knowledge and honesty is the only way that we can truly reach this goal.

Is this by any means a realistic dream? Not really. I highly doubt religion will be gone before I die. But what I am trying to persuade atheists of all levels is to be critical of people’s opinions and be willing to discuss topics that you disagree with rather than letting someone babble on about absurdity. Simply put, call bullshit when you see it. There are very respectable ways to have intelligent conversation that progress thought and enlighten others to what many of us would view as a better tomorrow.

Christianity

The value that many hold, ‘live and let live’, is actually not as peaceful an idea as one may assume. Christianity sells the naive a beautiful picture filled with love thy neighbor and eternal bliss. However, before you even read on, I am sure you already know that there is plenty of evidence that there is much more to their picture.

Christianity breeds simple, stubborn, and judgemental minds. Where’s my evidence of this? For starters, it is in the bible. The link provided here is but a brief of example of the support of slavery. Slavery is thankfully far in our past but during the time of slavery in America, those in support of slavery turned to the Bible to defend their rights to own another human being. I can only imagine how much that alone slowed the progress of man.

A quick turn to Mormonism and you will find the most blatant support of bigotry. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is clear about their belief that when Cain killed Abel and was given a mark by God, the mark of Cain was black skin. They proceeded up until the late 70’s to consider dark skin a curse before finally allowing blacks the right to “the priesthood.”

Ask any atheist, and even Christians, and you can become completely educated on the ongoing struggle in the schools between teaching evolution vs. creation in our schools. In a later blog I plan to discuss what sickens me about this but for now I allow you, the reader to research this conflict. What I will say about this is how much I am angered by the religious using their own fear of what reality is showing to hinder the very progress of science. Science is what will keep humanity alive. And in a very real sense, religion can destroy the world with their ignorant, fear fueled drive to combat the progress of man towards what is, rather than the selfish fantasy of the followers. Again, more on this another time.

On to the most recent news. Perhaps the most blatant in today’s society, gay rights. Again I plan to go into more depth on this subject in a later blog, but here is my two cents for now. Because we (as a whole) continue not to be critical of people’s beliefs by allowing people to believe what ever they want to believe, we in turn hurt many other people. Discount the past for now and it is still obvious. Homosexuals have fewer rights than the rest of the world merely because of religions control over society. They not only withhold their rights, they degrade and attack those who are different from them for a reason I would consider to be fear. The Westboro Baptist Church has continued their reign of terror, not only on the LBGT community but beyond as well. Most recently, Chick-Fil-A has openly advertised their anti-gay beliefs. They have even created a hateful sandwich, and what sickens me the most is that this controversy netted Chick-Fil-A even more support from the Christian community. It is this blatant disregard for the well-being of our fellow man that leaves me in awe of the pedestal of peace the Christians have been placed upon.

Muslims

This is another religious power, with grips held strongest in the middle east, that I believe can be even more dangerous than the Judeo-Christian community. I believe this because they have text that translate to “kill the infidel” and to many of the extremists, find it a life’s goal to be a martyr. This is why suicide bombings are worth being afraid of.

I believe it was in Richard Dawkins book, The God Delusion, that I realized that these people who are responsible for suicide bombings, most notably 9/11, were not and are not crazy. These people, outside of their strict and literal interpretation of the Quran, are loving and, by all medical standards, normal people. It is their unwavering faith that this book is true that motivates them to attempt the acts much of the world views as so vile.

Conclusion

I could continue on but I wish for my last sentence to resonate within you for a moment as you should realize that this is what religious tolerance leads to. When bad things happen in the name of God, we are not always seeing a mentally insane person. We are seeing sane people with the whole-hearted belief that what they are doing is right. Of course religious tolerance does not always lead to the extreme. And I don’t believe that atheists need to go door to door telling the world of what we believe. We all have friends that are Christian or Muslim etc. and we know that they will live a peaceful life without really hurting anyone. But this tolerance is not always for the better. We should be willing to discuss views that we believe will lead to a better tomorrow, and not allow underlying wrongs to go uncorrected. The true key to peace is through knowledge and understanding of what is. Not being coddled by our crutches to hide us from our fears of the unknown. To believe that tolerance of religious beliefs is the key to a peaceful society, one is neglecting to recognize not only the facts that I’ve listed above, but also the truth that is begging to be found. Many people will suffer as a result of religious tolerance, and nobody should stand for that.

Welcome

Hello everyone and welcome to Mind Conscious. The blogs to come will cover a few subjects that will primarily fall under the subjects of religion and morality. If this is something that interests you, I hope you will continue to return to this page to see updates and be willing to contribute progressive ideas that in the end can benefit all those who read and participate.

I also encourage thought-provoking comments on my posts that further discussion. Something that I notice people tend to do when discussing sensitive topics is their mind becomes clouded in winning the debate. While I expect the occasional “heated” debate from time to time, I hope that we set aside our ego’s and look at these topics with open minds because in this way, no one can lose.

To be clear, I am an atheist, and being very much intrigued by science and the scientific method, I have found that the key to finding the truth (or what is most likely true) is by learning to accept what is. What I mean by this is not believing what we want to be true or what makes us feel the most warm inside, because regardless of how something makes us feel, it holds no weight as to whether our belief is actually true.

Lastly, I hope that this will be a place where minds can come together and discuss topics that will enlighten everyone that takes part. If you are a theist, or disagree with my position, I hope that it will lead to respectful discussion. I will never belittle someone as a person, however I am sure that I will come off as critical and people will inevitably be offended from time to time, but that will never be my intention. Before closing this initial post, if I see comments on this page that have the intent of belittling others, I will simply delete the comment in order to promote beneficial discussion, and if it continues I will simply block the commenter. Through honest discussion, the truth will present itself, and everyone can benefit. Welcome.

-MC