Tag: ebonmuse

Desiring God

December 29, 2009 | By | 4 Replies More
Desiring God

At Daylight Atheism, Ebonmuse points out how odd it is that the God of the Bible allegedly desires certain things (e.g., he likes sacrifices). But, as Ebonmuse explains, it should strike us as odd that the creator of the universe would have desires:

The belief that God wants and desires certain things is a common thread in monotheism. But when you think about it, this is a profoundly strange belief. Most theists don’t recognize this, but that’s because the analogy between God and human beings masks the strangeness of it.

After all, we all understand how, and why, human beings come to hold certain desires. We have instinctual physiological drives, installed in us by evolution, for basic things like food, sex and companionship. We have more complex desires as a result of culture, upbringing and past experience for things that we think will add to our happiness or help fulfill the more basic desires. Every one of us has gone through a long, complex and contingent process of development that shaped our likes and dislikes.

But God, so we’re told, is eternal and unchanging. He is pure reason, pure mind, pure spirit – no physical needs to fulfill, no past history, none of the contingent events that make human nature what it is. So how is it that he has, just like us, a complex nature with specific likes and dislikes?

The post is somewhat tongue-in-cheek , but Ebonmuse makes a serious point that theists really should confront, but they never actually do confront it. Instead, they concoct “souls” and “spirits.”

I would spin the issue this way. All desires, many of which stem from emotions, are associated with bodies. Without a body, there cannot be any emotion and thus there cannot be any form of craving or desire. There isn’t a jot of evidence that there has ever been any thought in the absence of a body. Further, there is no such thing as free-standing self-sufficient meaning; there is no such thing as meaning independent of a physical body; all meaning is embodied. I know that many believers would find my conclusions to be disturbing, but this is the direction I am turned when I rely upon the (expansive) scientific view of what it means to be a human animal (and see this entire category).

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A tumultuous story told by a stone with streaks of pure iron

February 19, 2009 | By | 1 Reply More
A tumultuous story told by a stone with streaks of pure iron

Back in December, I had the chance to walk through New York’s Museum of Natural History with Ebonmuse (of Daylight Atheism). He pointed out an exquisite stone from the Proterozoic Eon. You could plainly see broad streaks of pure iron running from side to side. Such streaks could never form today, due to our oxygen-rich environment. That observation was the beginning of a mind-expanding yet poetic story. I learned a bit of that story back in December. Now, Ebonmuse tells a much more expansive and dramatic version. Here’s an excerpt, but I’d highly recommend a visit to Daylight Atheism for the full dose:

Looking at this stone, you get some idea of the dizzying vistas of geological time, as well as the turmoil that life has endured to reach the present day. Each of those colorful red and silver layers represents what was, in its own era, a disaster beyond imagining, one that reset life to its starting point. Each of those layers, as well, is a silent testament to life’s tenacity in the face of overwhelming odds. Of course, the cycles of growth and destruction did not last forever. Eventually, evolution found a way, as evolution nearly always does, and oxygen was tamed to become a power source in an entirely new metabolic cycle. The oxygen-breathers arose, the remaining anaerobes retreated to the deep crevices of rocks and the sea, and life found a new equilibrium, with the balance of the atmosphere permanently changed. All the oxygen we breathe today is biologically produced, a tangible proof of life’s power to reshape its own world.

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I ask; will the apologists answer?

February 2, 2009 | By | 42 Replies More
I ask; will the apologists answer?

Following from this post, which describes questions assembled by apparent atheist-to-theist convert Lee Strobel, posed to Hemant Mehta (and destroyed by Greta Christina and Ebonmuse) I decided I’d ask one or two questions of my own of theologists/apologists. Obviously I have my own thoughts on these questions but I really want to see answers from believers on these matters (even from non-believers who are playing Devil’s Advocate!). Also, I realise my questions may be in some ways incomplete or even naive, both to theists and non-theists alike, however the following are what occurred to me after reading Strobel’s questions (and the ensuing dismemberment of them), and I present them more or less how they appeared in my mind.

Without further ado, let us begin.

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Comments that sour conversation: free speech versus censorship

January 24, 2009 | By | 4 Replies More
Comments that sour conversation: free speech versus censorship

Most of us seek a mutual exchange of ideas in our conversations, but not all of us. Most of us are open to the possibility of intellectual change, but not all of us.

We get many comments at this site, most of them thoughtful, many of them really challenging to my pre-conceived beliefs. I revel in those challenging comments.

In the past few months, though, I have struggled with how much leash to give to several visitors to this blog even though they tried to A) monopolize the conversation, B) preach, C) impose their favorite two issues upon every post, and D) ignore clearly-stated bona fide points made by others. In addition to using these ignorant and aggressive tactics many of these comments clearly have their facts wrong (some claimed that Obama is a terrorist; others claimed that God Himself wrote the Bible in King James English).

When these sorts of people join in-person real-time conversations, almost all of us employ similar strategies. We extricate ourselves from those conversations so that we can join some other conversation. We also take steps to avoid spending time in the same room with those sorts of people on future occasions.

A blog is not exactly a conversation, but it is a lot LIKE a conversation. What, then, should a moderator do when conversation-killers attempt to roost at a blog? For many months, I’ve struggled with this question.

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Testimonials and tribulations

December 26, 2008 | By | Reply More
Testimonials and tribulations

Over at Daylight Atheism, Ebonmuse points out the practice and problems of using testimonials in lieu of trustworthy evidence.   It’s part of his series on critical thinking. On an almost-related matter, see this DI post on what it means to be “certain.”

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Science is totally awesome

November 30, 2008 | By | 2 Replies More
Science is totally awesome

…especially when described in Ebonmuse’s inimitable, emotive style in “The Age Of Wonder”: Consider what we witness when we peer into the cosmos with our telescopic eyes. We see light born billions of years ago in the crucible of dying stars, shining out across the cosmos and becoming ever more diffused, until at last our […]

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