The Shotgun Blog
Thursday, April 13, 2006
A Machine-Gun Conversion
God Bless our Prime Minister for having the courage to say in public that he recognizes that some power greater than himself might be watching over the universe.
Jimmy, a black American taxi-driver with whom I once spent an hour in Colorado Springs told me the most harrowing story of his time spent in a US gunboat in Vietnam. He said the whole damn boat, with its 1.5 inch steel cladding, with four or five macho, football-player type, cocky atheists like himself inside, was drifting down this misty River, looking for Viet-Cong “gooks,” or a stray animal – anything on which they could practice their shooting. A happy, bloodthirsty, only slightly nervous pack of Weed-smoking studs.
Suddenly, all hell broke loose. Explosions so loud he still can’t hear very well today; smoke filled the boat; enormous shells tore through that steel armour like it was paper and one of them went right through the heart of his best friend as they were talking, eyeball to eyeball, and left a hole Jimmy said he could have put his fist through. The rest lived, three terribly maimed, to tell about it. Jimmy was lucky. But he said he will never forget that the only words he heard, in the midst of all the shouting and blood-splattered panic, and the BOOM-BOOM of return machine-gun fire, and cried with a visceral, tangible pleading so deep it shook him for the rest of his life, were: “OH GOD, I DON’T WANNA DIE,” “OH GOD, PLEASE HELP ME,” followed by “MAMMA, MAMMA,” and “MOM, MOM,! HELP ME, HELP ME, PLEASE!” These were hulking, 230-pound linebackers calling for God, and their Mothers.
Jimmy became a believer in that moment of time. He saw my upcoming reaction: Of course. You were frightened, so you were reaching for security. No, he insisted, his conversion was not due to his own chicken-hearted panic reactions (which he had aplenty). He was not “a atheist in a foxhole.” This was not some insight he could have come to on his own, he insisted, a thing that he willed, but something that happened to him, invaded his whole being, from outside, and despite himself. Prior to that moment, he figured he had been pretty happy as a card-carrying atheist, like so many of his friends. They had talked that way cruising down the river looking for someone to kill.
He got changed, not by any direct contact with God (as far as he could tell) or even by the terrible vaporization of his closest friend, which he could never forget. But by a primordial truth I figure was delivered by raw experience. The protective bravado and pretense of their bodily lives had suddenly got blown up, and as suddenly they were in intimate contact with each other as the beseeching and disembodied souls he instantly felt they really, truly were. If you survive such an experience, Jimmy said, “if you receive the gift of life,” you can never go back to believing only in yourself. And you never, never forget. And I never forgot his story.
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A friend of mine -- let's call him "Karl" -- who I haven't seen in years -- honestly, years -- went to prison for a, er, youthful indiscretion broadly pertaining to aggression. During his first night in the 'serious' wing, someone in an adjacent cell was being viciously beaten, at length, in an unpleasantly audible way. Karl had a strange reaction: despite never having been close to his mother at all, he began to plead -- discretely -- for his mother's intervention and assistance.
He described receiving then a flash of insight was was to become permanently redundant: that his mother wasn't going to be able to help.
"Mom" is the first outside agency that our lives are dependent on, so it's not surprising that when people are in mortal peril they cry out for her. But it's interesting how consistently a sudden threat of death sparks a limbic call -- on our own dime -- to an even higher authority, further up the chain of command, someone who in many cases was heretofore unknown who is suddenly revealed to be one's oldest, deepest aquaintance. The anecdotal consistency of such near-death reactions seems to point to a physical -- in the sense of being hard-wired -- god within us.
Posted by: EBD | 2006-04-13 12:35:58 PM
EBD, I really appreciate your point of view.
As a VietNam veteran myself (of similar physical proportions as the guys on the gunboat), I know that the black cab driver's report is accurate.
I also might add that theological distinctions mean absolutely nothing at such a point.
In a way our intellectual traditions -- philosophical, theological, and scientific -- are all about equally useless during such an event.
Really, we're dealing with life in its most fundamental and meaningful dimension, and the whole intellectual tradition basically disappears in a puff of smoke.
It's also true that after one has had this kind of experience, intellectualizations about the subject, no matter how profound or well thought out, are never really taken too seriously anymore.
Posted by: Greg outside Dallas | 2006-04-13 12:47:43 PM
Well, I thought I'd try.
I wouldn't call my comment profound or well thought-out, though.
Posted by: EBD | 2006-04-13 1:06:05 PM
There are atheists in foxholes and emperical studies to prove it. It's a insult to atheist troops who die for their countrymen (and women) to suggest otherwise.
Further, facing death is horrible. I have and it didn't shake my atheism. It made me realise just how dreadful and horrible *dying* is. Greg outside Dallas has it right when he says all faith is eclipsed in moments like that. It is really awful. I just can't put it in words how bad it is. I just wanted death because nothing is better than the fear and pain of coming within inches of your life.
Self-delustion (i.e. theism) may make the prospect of dying easier, but it doesn't change the pain and fear of dying.
Atheism is for the courageous and theism is for cowards. Those who can face death for what it is are courageous. Others have to hide behind their imagination.
Personally, I am a coward. But I can't hide from the truth.
Posted by: Robert Seymour | 2006-04-13 1:15:38 PM
Theism thrives on primordial fear of death that overtakes reason. No news here.
Posted by: murray | 2006-04-13 1:21:05 PM
To suggest that everyone who believes in God is a coward is downright disgusting. I personally know believers who have fought and died for this country and our way of life and I don't think they were cowards at all. Shame.
Posted by: Rob R | 2006-04-13 1:43:54 PM
Gee that was almost as bad as saying an athiest is incapable of discerning basic morality as the athiest has no god to tell them what it is, right Speller?
Posted by: Warwick | 2006-04-13 1:56:58 PM
An observation – the world did not start when somebody invented the computer.
Just a personal opinon, but I'm sure religion started when some cave man looked up at the stars and wondered ‘why am I here?
From that inherent curiosity in human beings came music, art, science and all manner of education of our young through about 10,000 years.
Talk about separation of church and state ... the state did not even start public schools until about 130 years ago. What about hospitals? Mostly through religious-based organizations.
The state never was interested in being compassionate ... that stuff was left to the church.
That was until the Commies came along and thought they could create their own religion, secular humanism. They failed a long time ago because they did not comprehend you cannot change human nature at the point of a gun.
We can infer by the way Robert and Murray speak that they believe they are gods in their own right, that they are closer to the ultimate truth than the combined good that human history has produced in the last 10,000 years.
I can only assume that you believe you create your own joy and misery is done to you by somebody else.
If you believe history began when you were born and will end when you are born, beware ... expect to be disappointed because, on your own, you're no more than a speck of dust with about the same capacity for original thought.
Turn away from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it.
Religion has stood the test of time because people can always improve themselves. Secular humanism is dead because it can never attain its ideal state.
Posted by: Set you free | 2006-04-13 1:59:54 PM
You're missing the point.
Putting yourself in harms way when doing so is necessary is courageous. Theists who do so are courageous.
What is cowardly is not facing the reality that there is no imaginary magical being to save you. Being able to face the harsh reality that there is just you, other people, and nature is what takes courage. Not many people want to face that truth.
Face the truth that the sun could just start burning hotter, making earth hospitable to human life and you would die. Just as no one saved the people in Thailand when the tsunami hit. Just like no saved those in the Soviet gulags.
Posted by: Robert Seymour | 2006-04-13 2:21:40 PM
Set you free,
Socialism is a religion too. It has supernatural beliefs about reality. That people aren't selfish by nature, that selfishness is a product of socialisation. That humans will produce for each other if there is merely a central plan to direct them. Etc.
Socialism tried to destroy religion because it was competition for it.
Posted by: Robert Seymour | 2006-04-13 2:38:32 PM
PS Both socialism and religion promise a false utopia in return for obedience.
Posted by: Robert Seymour | 2006-04-13 2:40:02 PM
Set you free,
It's insulting to suggest I think I'm a God. I don't think anyone is. A god is a supernatural being. Atheists deny the supernatural by definition.
Posted by: Robert Seymour | 2006-04-13 2:41:49 PM
Apparently, you've had a bad experience with religion. That does not mean all religions are bad. Much like dykes who had a bad experience with men, then think all men are bad.
Obedience? To what? An attempt to find universal truths?
Count me in.
Better wisdom and tolerance than ignorance and hatred.
Learned that in my religion, BTW.
You've got to believe in something, otherwise why bother turning on the computer?
It's not about magical, imaginary beings. It's about having a look around you and understanding you're part of it and that you're governed by natural laws,
All we have to do is open our eyes and use our other senses to realize we really are pretty insignificant.
So why are we here? A bunch of quarks didn't decide one day to shape themselves into the universe ... at least it seems pretty unlikely.
Just curious, why are you here? Like, what's the purpose of your life?
When you're sick, do you go to the doctor?
When your car breaks down, do you go to a mechanic?
When the cops are after you, do you go see a lawyer?
When you needed an education, was it done by a teacher?
When you want to find out the universal truths of life, do you consult yourself?
Why? Because you know it all already. Therefore, your are a god worthy of my admiration.
I've been on this earth for quite a while and I still don't have all the answers. That's why I seek out advice from people who are actually dedicated to making sense of it all.
Apparently, you don't need that. My congratulations.
Posted by: Set you free | 2006-04-13 3:11:20 PM
Robert Seymour, there are plenty of atheists in foxholes, they're called conscripts.
As there is no god for atheists to answer to, they answer only to themselves.
Atheists can discern ethics and morality, that's not the same as saying they are committed to practicing any.
To practice real ethics the moral standard must be an objective code to which an individual is subject.
When there is a cost, atheists have no higher standard to lead them to uphold the right than their own subjective selfish interest.
Posted by: Speller | 2006-04-13 3:17:32 PM
On the contrary.It is atheists that are the cowards and arrogant too.
A believer in a personal omnipresent,omniscient and omnipotent being (God) is the person that can develop courage.
He or she is accountable to God for their actions and must live their lives by the values and laws given to them by God,as written in the Bible.That takes guts and perseverance.Especially these days, in a society where moral relativism is the ethos.
Standing up for truth is seen as bigoted and passé.The believer that voices his or her opinion risks ridicule and even persecution.
Therefore,it is the believer that's courageous and not the atheist who will sway anyway the wind blows.Who is the atheist accountable to?And what does it matter? Life is meaningless if everything ends at our deathbed.
Atheists are arrogant in that their claim that God doesn't exist requires omniscience (knowing everything).Mr.Know it alls.Yeah right......
Posted by: Nick | 2006-04-13 3:18:34 PM
You have it backwards. To know there is a God, one must have evidence. We aren't omnicient, so we need built knowledge with physical evidence and reasoning. There is no natural evidence of the supernatural. If there was, I would know there is a God.
To know there is a God without evidence is to have the supernatural power of omnicience. That is arrogant.
Posted by: Robert Seymour | 2006-04-13 3:30:36 PM
You get no brownie points in the universe just 'cause you're atheist and "bravely facing death". The search for God is in all of us. You can accept that God exists (a premise, completely undecidable), or reject that premise (as you've done), but there's no way around the issue of God.
Posted by: cracker-crusader | 2006-04-13 3:30:53 PM
You have it wrong. You are applying a particular (and highly arbitrary) construction to decide the existence of God, namely the much-vaunted "scientific method".
Prove for me scientifically that Napoleon Bonaparte existed...
Posted by: cracker-crusader | 2006-04-13 3:34:44 PM
To all of you who think one needs to believe in the imaginary to have a code of ethics you are sorely mistaken -- and wanting in your knowlege of philosophy.
There are plenty of moral theories that do not depend on, or invoke supernatural assumptions, and come to non-relativist conclusions.
Hobbes and Hume are two prime examples.
We have rational reasons for being moral. If we all went around killing each other, we would give up things like prosperity and security. (Though Bush (and the Evangelicals) and the Muslims are doing their religious best to increase violence as quickly as possible.)
And what do we turn to when we want to know why we are here? Philosophy and science. Do you believe science that the moon reflects the sun's light or do you believe Genesis that the moon creates its own light? Do you believe the earth circles the sun as science says or the reverse as religion says? Which provides truthful answers about life?
Posted by: Robert Seymour | 2006-04-13 3:43:46 PM
Set you free,
I've never had a bad experience with religion. Just the opposite. I grew up Catholic and it was great.
I've just come to realise what people were praying to wasn't real.
Posted by: Robert Seymour | 2006-04-13 3:45:40 PM
We have Napolean's corpse. They've test his hair for
We have no proof of God.
True, there is the hypothesis that there is a God. It's one of the most disreputed hypotheses there is.
Posted by: Robert Seymour | 2006-04-13 3:48:35 PM
They tested Napolean's hair for poisoning. They think he died of arsenic.
Posted by: Robert Seymour | 2006-04-13 3:50:11 PM
That explains it.
Posted by: Set you free | 2006-04-13 3:51:37 PM
To Robert Seymour. Absence of proof is not proof of absence.
Posted by: John Luft | 2006-04-13 3:54:55 PM
Neither is absence of proof proof of presence.
Posted by: Vitruvius | 2006-04-13 4:00:32 PM
So, how was the Spanish Inquisition?
Just because they let a bunch of pedophiles wear priest's clothing, doesn't mean the original concept was wrong.
Besides which, being Catholic, you should know it's not only about the Bible ... how about the lives of the Saints? The desert dwellers? The mystics?
Were they just a bunch of misguided buffoons?
Did they discover nothing of value?
Were you beaten when you told your parents you wouldn't go to church?
Is rebelliousness a natural part of the human journey?
Are we in control of our own lives or do we just serve somebody? Who are you serving now?
What did Lucifer symbolize and what is the warning in the parable?
Is the Bible literal of figurative?
Have you ever thought of any of these questions while you were growing up or did somebody else convince you that you were being controlled and that you had to find a way to escape that control?
How can anybody control you when you have free will? Do you use you free will for good purposes?
The difference between humans and animals is humans have an ability to reason. Do you believe that statement?
Is this too much for you?
Posted by: Set you free | 2006-04-13 4:02:48 PM
Cracker-crusader is right.There is no way to scientifically prove Napoleon existed . But we all know he did.
It is more than reasonable to say God exists.There's the historical records (Bible,archeological finds of biblical cities,the Dead Sea Scrolls..ect).
There's the cosmological argument of the neccesity of a first cause to trigger continuity of causes.
There's the perfect order that exists in nature.
There's millions of people throughout history that have credited God with having changed their lives around.
SEE : WWW.STR.ORG for more info
Atheism is a bankrupted philosophy that has caused more pain and suffering than any "religion",throughout history.
Mao,Lenin and Stalin (All great atheists) are in the Guiness World Book of Records as historys top murderers ( in the 10s of millions).Hitler and Pol Pot (also staunch atheists)were "small beer",next to the latter unholy trinity.
In other words atheism guarantees holocaust.
Posted by: Nick | 2006-04-13 4:04:12 PM
Since you seem, Nick, to be supporting the statement that Mao, Lenin, and Stalin were great atheists, I can see why you are unable to arrive at any rational conclusions.
If should like to take a moment to think about it, you might like to note that in fact Mao, Lenin, and Stalin were *evil* atheists.
It is not logical to conclude that becase some aethists are evil, all atheists are evil. And you better be damn glad logic works that way, or every theist approach would be discredited by its most evil practitioners.
Posted by: Vitruvius | 2006-04-13 4:13:54 PM
I thought atheists don't believe in good and evil.Isn't that a theist concept?Isn't good and evil relative to atheists? Ever think of where the concept of good and evil comes from?
But your right ,atheism or atheists on there own are not murderers.It is institutionalized atheism that produces at the least a totalitarian,oppressive state ,and at the extreme a total bloodbath.
Posted by: Nick | 2006-04-13 4:20:53 PM
Athesists are not necessarily anti-axiotics, Nick, some fully grock metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and logic. Indeed, if you examine, say, Objectivism, you will find that it does have fully developed axiotics, the concept of good and evil are fully developed, and the model is not relativistic.
For the record, I am not an objectivismist.
PS: Good and evil come from human behaviour.
Posted by: Vitruvius | 2006-04-13 4:38:58 PM
Objective morals (good for everybody) must be independent of "human behaviour".Otherwise it is no longer objective.And we're left with the a law of the strongest wins,which is an attitude integral to human nature and not good.
An atheist will answer a moral dilema by what best suits him independant of ethics.Where as a believer in God will answer a moral dilema by referring to Biblical objective and absolute values.And will do this even if it's not beneficial to him,whether financial,social..ect.
Posted by: Nick | 2006-04-13 4:57:37 PM
It is pure sophistry to argue that every atheist will answer a moral dilemma by what best suits him independent of ethics. To suggest that atheists are a subset of the libertines (sic) is ludicrous.
Posted by: Vitruvius | 2006-04-13 5:11:33 PM
So there is a mind-independent reality, according to Wikipedia.
Does that mean a whole world exists outside our computer screens ... that there are actual real human beings banging out words that pop up on screens once in a while?
Unless I'm interpeting this the wrong way, I guess that describes the process by which humans can express their power of reasoning in a positive way, through their own free will.
Much in the same way that all beneficial inventions, scientific discoveries and social progressions have gone ... and a great majority of those at the forefront giving thanks to God for giving them this great gift.
Good and evil come from human behaviour.
That's quite correct. What's behind making poor choices (evil)?
Here's how I see it.
You're born helpless and dependent and you die helpless and dependent. In between, you're just fooling yourself. My mom is 90 years old and in a nursing home.
She had no clue about what she'd like to do next. This is a woman who was beaten by her drunken husband and had to scrub floors so she could feed her two kids when he left.
So, if a person is helpless at both etremities of his life, does it not follow he truly is helpless for the majority of his life? Oh, we can put on all kinds of cloaks, costumes and pretentions to show otherwise, but until you've seen a parent deteriorate, you really can't understand the reality.
Many people believe everything bad that happens to them is the fault of somebody else ... ‘The Devil made me do it' when actually, it's all within our control.
It's not that tough. The first five commandments deal with our relationship with God, the second five commandments deal with our relationship with other human beings.
Follow the Laws and you're happy. Disobey them and you're the author of your own misery ... in effect creating your own hell on earth.
Pretty simple really. Because of your own free will, nobody controls you.
If you're an atheist and wonder why you're unhappy, check out the last five commandments. The answer will be there.
Posted by: Set you free | 2006-04-13 5:18:11 PM
How does a hair sample prove Napoleon existed? I mean, you have a corpse, from about the right time, may or may not be a relative of his...
To all others:
To suggest theism is intellectually bankrupt or that atheism is morally bankrupt is silly, we should be asking ourselves, and each other, why we accept one premise and not the other. There are unfortunately no conlusive proofs one way or another, and that is the beauty of the universe. Although I would argue that beauty is redundant if there is no God...
Posted by: cracker-crusader | 2006-04-13 5:18:36 PM
It is not correct to argue that a theist will answer in a way that is not beneficial to him, for he shall have the benefit of the satisfaction that he has lived up to the moral standards to which he holds himself. Same with moral atheists.
Posted by: Vitruvius | 2006-04-13 5:18:54 PM
Tough one :What is a moral atheist?Are there any examples of heroic atheists in history?Ones that were moral heroes and a moral example to all.
Posted by: Nick | 2006-04-13 5:29:48 PM
Of course there's a mind-independent reality!
There is right now a neutron star hurtling out of the center of the Milky Way galaxy we find ourselves in, at some absurd velocity. Fortunately, the good ship Earth is not in her path. If we were, there would soon enough be no human minds. Do you think that means the Milky Way would go away?
I don't have any problems with the moral tone of the ten commandments. The commandments can easily be interpreted as fairly common universal human values. What's the problem with that?
I just don't think that anything like that invisioned by the various god-concepts actually exists. That doesn't mean I a priori disagree with the moral positions of those who do believe in same. That you can't imagine getting there by that route doesn't mean that others can't.
Posted by: Vitruvius | 2006-04-13 5:32:08 PM
What is a moral atheist? Are there any examples of heroic atheists in history? Ones that were moral heroes and a moral example to all?
Are you suggesting that I am not such an example, Nick? You don't know me that well sir; you are being presumptuous.
Posted by: Vitruvius | 2006-04-13 5:35:29 PM
Yeah gotcha.A heroic atheist that has taught a moral lesson to mankind is just as far fetched as the milky way is far from us.
Happy Easter and Happy Passover to all.
Posted by: Nick | 2006-04-13 5:40:43 PM
Hitler was Christian. Yes mega murderers Mao, Stalin, and (likely) Pol Pot were atheists.
However, they were socialists, which I think rests on supernatural assumptions about human nature and might as well be considered religion.
The two great causes of death in this world have been statism (socialists, fascists, conservatives, and any other big government theory) and religion (Crusades, Islamic terrorism, etc.). The quicker we convince everyone to drop both, the more lives we can save.
Posted by: Robert Seymour | 2006-04-13 5:45:10 PM
Objectivism is a secular religion with supernatural assumptions.
There are no natural laws governing human behaviour to be found out by reason. Rand stole that idea from Aquinas who quite rightly had to invoke God to defend it.
There are rational reasons to behave ethically, but it does not go against nature to break such rules.
If so, the Soviets and Nazis would have been very sorry. They weren't. Especially in the case of the former, many died happy.
Posted by: Robert Seymour | 2006-04-13 5:49:29 PM
Hitler wasn't a Christian even though he believed in the the Christian concept of God.
Posted by: Robert Seymour | 2006-04-13 5:52:21 PM
Conservatives as proponents of statism? Huh?
The 10th Century Crusades as a great cause of death? Huh? Are you kidding me? Got any more recent examples?
Be nice to everybody, sing Kumbaya around a campfire (oh, yeah, can't do that ... Kubaya my Lord).
Sounds like your head's firmly planted somewhere that reality doesn't shine.
When I was younger and living in Calgary, a couple of Quebec seperatists came in and crashed our party. All we wanted to do was get shit-faced, not watch a couple of bare-assed clowns tell us we should blow up the world and save a couple of seeds so we can start all over.
We told them to f--- off and kept on drinking.
What do you propose to replace religion?
What about politics?
Some of this idealistic B.S. is just a bit too much to handle. There's always going to be bad guys.
Just because you choose to live in a delusional world where everything is perfect if everybody is just smiles and listens to you (come to think of it, you are sounding more and more like a self-appointed god) ... the world will eat you up so fast, oh naive one, you'll wonder what hit you.
Me, I don't give a flying frog about what's going on in the world ... can't control any of it anyway.
Render onto Ceasar what is Caesar's; render onto God what is God's. What does that mean to you?
Separation of church and state, perhaps? Spoken to the Sanhedrin just about 2,000 years ago. That's where reality is ... in ourselves, not in some deluded vision of starting all over again.
Give your head a shake, kid.
Posted by: Set you free | 2006-04-13 6:01:20 PM
You are so out to lunch; it's kind of funny.
I have one heroic atheist who has saved more lives than any other Christian, Muslim, or other religious person in history. Norman Borlaug has personally saved over 1 billion lives in Mexico, Pakistan, and India through genetically engineering crops. He won a Nobel prize for it.
There are also more Nobel Prize recipients that are atheists than there are of any relgion. There are also fewer atheists on death row in the US -- relative to their percentage of the general population -- than any religion. The highest rates are among Catholics, Protestants, and Evangelicals.
Nick, you're probably a nice guy when you're not so crabby, but right now you look like an idiot.
Posted by: Robert Seymour | 2006-04-13 6:01:30 PM
There are no natural laws governing human behaviour to be found out by reason, Robert? None? Eukaryote? Endochrinic? Limbic? You're kidding, right?
Posted by: Vitruvius | 2006-04-13 6:03:00 PM
Vitrivius, not natural laws governing ethics, which is what I meant (as you know). Nice attempt at equivocation, though.
Posted by: Robert Seymour | 2006-04-13 6:06:35 PM
You asked about human behaviour, I answered, and then you pretended you were asking about ethics?
Well, on to your new topic, then. It is true to say that no natural laws govern ethics, indeed, no laws govern ethics other than man-made laws. Ethics, as a moral and legal phenomenon, follows from the sort of natural laws I mentioned above.
Posted by: Vitruvius | 2006-04-13 6:11:50 PM
Hmm, upon rereading my above comments, I think I may have been expressing myself more stridently than I feel. Sorry to get carried away there.
Thanks for the Norman Borlaug link, Robert, it's a good read.
Posted by: Vitruvius | 2006-04-13 6:27:52 PM
Fear of death by anybody has always been one of the causes of deathbed conversions. It is still the fundamental function of all religions to tell us what will happen to us after we die. While the customs, costumes and traditions change from one religion to another in a effort to attract customers or believers, they all do the same thing. Some obviously much better than others.
By the way are we to understand that all kids who grew up without mothers to look after them are all atheists?
Posted by: rockyt | 2006-04-13 6:29:14 PM
You should have stuck with Catholic.
The faithful Catholic believes in God's love and mercy and ultimately welcomes death. The lives of the saints testify to the welcoming of great suffering and death in the sure belief that one is joining Christ in His eternal sacrifice for the benefit of the entire world.
Only with Christian belief do suffering, sacrifice and death make any sense at all.
Also, if an atheist does something 'good' that does not benefit him, but gives him SATISFACTION is he doing it for himself....? This is not to say that an atheist can't do something objectively good. But once he starts seeking to do good he is on that road to finding GOOD....God. It's a 'gotcha'.
One more thing. The knowledge of God, aside from being observable by a rational being (using the reason that God gave us for that purpose) is also imprinted in us by the creator. Free will decides what we do with what we are given. Choosing to be atheist is simply choosing to deny God. A logical argument against that choice might be that in so choosing you may be choosing incorrectly, and deciding against a God who does in fact exist, whereas in choosing to believe and seek God, at worst you will believe in someone who is not there - the nothingness you would never find- you would be dead- spared from having lived it your whole life. Hard to find a benefit to not believing. Except of course, false pride in your superior intelligence for having discerned nothing(ness).
Posted by: lwestin | 2006-04-13 7:27:53 PM
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