Self-Preservation

In response to Norman’s comment to the previous post, I don’t think humans are the only animals intelligent enough to extrapolate the evidence of the past and arrive at the conclusion that death is inevitable. I wouldn’t want to see the experiments for it, but I wouldn’t think every animal is capable of observing a new type of death without ever changing their behavior because of those observations. I found some information on antipredator adaptation that relates to this thought but I don’t know if any of that adaptation is observational.

I would also think that a part of every animal’s reactions to pain and fear leading to self-preservation are built from genetic memory and evolutionary survival of animals that correctly felt pain and feared the right predators and risks. Norman mentioned the “survival instinct” and from that I read a few interesting things on what instinctual behavior really is. I found that a “survival instinct” doesn’t follow the scientific definition for an instinct though certain instincts contribute to the survival of the species such as newly hatched sea turtles heading toward the ocean.

Our intelligence is our greatest asset but we still have more basic animal traits that confuse us. Our mythological religions are born out of self-preservation’s fear of death. We are definitely capable of observing death and fearing it so the appeal of religion to ease those fears. A false sense of safety for our self-preservation is probably one of the big reasons people refuse to let go of religious beliefs. This is covered a little in a recent article called Religious Belief Declining Very Slowly Around the World at prospect.org:

And immortality is, after all, religion’s killer app. The need to confront and overcome the horrible finality of death—grim, merciless, terrifying, bleak death— is one of the principal reasons religion came into being in the first place, and the reason it persists no matter how much its ground of explanation is encroached on by science. It’s no accident that every religion that ever existed promises some form of immortality. People will tolerate an awful lot of cognitive dissonance to hold on to that promise.

In the end, I don’t really know what will happen with my persona after I die. I can only assume that with the passing of my physical body that the most logical outcome is that I completely cease to exist. However, if my consciousness did continue on after my physical death then I can say with all certainty that I wouldn’t be a surprised atheist by the event, because I’m also a “devout” agnostic that holds firm to the fact that I don’t really know until I get there so there’s no sense in worrying too much about it because I know I will get to that physical end soon enough. I’m very certain that the religions of the world are wrong concerning our immortality because their methods of discovery for their claimed knowledge can’t be any more capable of knowing the truth any more than anything I’m doing when I write the great truths of the universe. LOL Widespread concurrence of your ravings and writings doesn’t make it true!

The most devoutly religious people are probably the ones that are most fearful of an inevitable death. Agnostic atheists, freethinkers, and even the casually religious are the ones that don’t fear death as much and understand it for what it really appears to be. The ironic part of that is that I would think human evolution should favor the non-religious over time because those that are the true believers are more likely to not mind an early death and engage in risky and self destructive behaviors such as suicide bombings. It’s a reason why religions have to make suicide a sin, because if they made suicide an unqualified virtue then the devout’s desire for heaven should lead to more suicides as they quicken their move to the more perfect immortality.

If we really could have immortality in heaven, then this physical existence is a near infinitely short and insignificant part of our immortal lives so it makes no sense at all to put any real importance in our human existence. I wish people didn’t believe in their immortality for the only reason that this line of thinking makes the insanely devout capable of doing such awful things because they see no importance in humanity as it compares to heaven. Their human self-preservation becomes twisted into an immortal self-preservation where they fear loss of the immortality so much it overrides their fear of human death and impacts their ability to care about the human death of others.

It’s scary, but having written this out I think I understand when a religious person says with such seriousness that they are praying for and “fear” for my soul. I don’t want anyone to put more importance in an imagined immortality for me than in my definite human mortality because there’s always the possibility these religious people will develop some twisted scheme for “protecting” my immortality at the cost of my human morality. Human rights should always trump religious rights for this reason!

30 thoughts on “Self-Preservation

  1. Thank you, Jeff for at least acknowledging my existence and my argument. I’m am somewhat confused. Do you think that snails and spiders who for all intents and purposes can’t experience a logical thought,(they don’t have a brain, it’s a nerve cluster called a spinal ganglia) might actually comprehend that despite all best efforts some day they will die. I can’t prove you wrong. I just have a theory that the most hilarious thing about humans is that only thing that allowed them to survive the ruthless process of evolution is the same instinct that invented religion. Survival instincts got us this far, but, when we got this clever, this smart, this inquisitive, this brilliant, we did not escape our inevitable death, and the fear thereof. So we invented religion and an afterlife. But, death is the end.

    And so, your term, a weak atheist. Moses, Jesus, Muhammed, etc. characters invented to sell us an afterlife. At huge profits and political power by those who present themselves as direct channels to the gods. We as freethinkers are free of that crap. But, my question, as a freethinker would be, atheists say the universe is a convenient accident. That everything blasted out of nothing. Those with doubts are not fundies or trolls, they are the last freethinkers.

    Norman Lycan

  2. I don’t think snails and spiders do, but there are smarter animals like monkeys and apes with brains that may allow them to comprehend observations of the death of others. I don’t know because I don’t have time to find what research there is for it. There’s also the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe and other “animals” existing that are smarter than us and humans wouldn’t be so unique and special if that is true.

  3. If you go by the supposed theory of Karma (in Hinduism), animals don’t completely have the power to understand death and right from wrong, but some of them do have more intelligence / free will than others. Supposedly we go through 84,000 life forms, starting with the Plant, then Animal, then Human form, and in all other life forms besides Human we are burning off our bad Karma. Then in the Human form its our opportunity to evolve to the point of liberating ourselves from the cycle of rebirth and suffering.

    Not saying I totally believe this – I’m an avid Agnostic myself – but unlike other theories and religious beliefs, this one seems more possible than others.

  4. You see, Jeff,

    If you desire this to be a forum of discussion for the purest form of freethought, all you have to do is stop treating it like an online diary, and respond. Build the ballpark, the players will come.

    Welcome Preeti, for what that’s worth, this is Jeff’s gig, he barely tolerates me. You said:

    “If you go by the supposed theory of Karma (in Hinduism)”.

    I know where you are coming from, I was raised from infancy in the brainwash of fundamental christianity. And my parents didn’t just beat me, they used weapons. But, I must give them credit, they never put me in the emergency room, their godlike mercy. In the search of the path out of that brainwash, I had to search every corner of my brain and re evaluate each and every file. I never did the Hinduism thing, I got as far as Buddhism and realized that all religions are the same. The philosophy, if you adopt it, makes you property of the faith.

    I had a thought once, that what if the truth was that god was a consciousness older than time, and got so bored and lonely in his existence that he committed suicide. But, because he was alive, and the sum of all energy, his suicide (the big bang), only started a slow process where he becomes himself again. Eternal dispite his own efforts. If I hired an unscrupulous preacher to sell it, I might make millions!!!!! If these assholes believe scientology, they will believe anything! But, the truth is its a wild theory. And so is kharma. It may be an interesting thing to glance at out there in the unknown, but without scientific basis, it goes in the “I don’t know” box. You seem to understand that. Let’s talk again.

    Norman Lycan

  5. Jeff,

    While certain highly evolved mammals like the great apes, and dolphins, who as you argue have sophisticated reasoning skills, what they do not have is a written history which provides evidence that a reasoning being could use to extrapolate a conclusion that everything alive will eventually die.

    But, you are also right that lower forms of life have a genetic memory that allows them percieve threats, even though their parents did not beat it into them.

    But here’s the conclusive evidence. The engineers who built the pyramids designed a tomb with a window through all those stones to the previous position of the Orion constellation. A window for their god king’s soul to exit to the afterlife. The feat of building those pyramids still confounds modern engineers. The fact it was engineered with portals to the stars defies explanation, or does it? First it proves human fear and denial of death, but it also proves that human intelligence and ingenuity have been alive and well for tens of thousands of years, and the written word has allowed generation to build upon generation.

    Now we know that the earth is not the center of the universe. That the flood never happened. The earth is not six thousand years old. That satan didn’t plant fake dinosaur bones to mislead the faithful. That an abortion is not worse than the tsunami that killed 200,000 people in the Indonesia. And any scientist must therefore lean toward atheism. But, to do so, is to expose oneself to the same mistake we have made over and over again in human history, to assume, to believe, that which cannot be known. Belief of convenience. Agnostism is freethought.

    Norman Lycan

  6. Norman –
    I found the whole “God committed suicide but he couldn’t because he was eternal so the Big Bang occured – which was the suicide – and now we are all fragmented parts of God” twistedly creative! (if twistedly is a word?!) Not plausible (it seems since God is usually defined as “perfect” otherwise we wouldn’t be callign that entity “God). But very Alice-in-Wonderland – in a good way.

    So I’m confused here – what is Jeff’s beef with you (or vice-versa?)

    Preeti

  7. by the way, how do I get notifed that there was a response to my post so I don’t have to keep checking myself? I’m new to this type of forum…so apologies in advance for the very basic question…

    Preeti

  8. Preeti,

    Jeff has never uttered an unkind word to me, but if you look through the history of the site, he writes threadheads, throws them before the world, and you hear nothing of him until he writes the next, and they are not frequent. I think Jeff is an excellent writer, a qualified spokesman for the agnostic philosophy, I only made the comment about his tolerance of my presence because until this post, he has never responded. It should have been followed by a smiley face. But, in defense of my omission, I think I have made it clear to him that he and I see the universe through the same pinhole. That we are brothers in freethought. I just haven’t had much luck drawing him into the open. I want to converse, because he is a person of like conviction. In general, I caucus with atheists because of their position on religious mythology, but, their ranks are contaminated by bigots and conspiracy theorists, and if I argue that it is an intellectual mistake to adopt a belief that is not proven by science, I was called a “troll” or a “magical thinker”, when in fact, I am a scientist who refuses to take a leap of “faith”. Jeff’s point of view is a breath of fresh air drawn outside the circle of the atheist faith. He has mentioned he is very busy, and that is a valid excuse that requires no explanation. I am probably like his annoying cousin bugging him to come out and play. But, I thirst to find fellow freethinkers, as the world unravels at the hands of fundamentalists and corrupt governments. I hope he contininues to tolerate me.

    Norman Lycan

  9. how cute…i am touched, and i am not being sarcastic. actually you are every blogger’s dream, truthfully. people WANT people like you to come and play…however I can see why Jeff disappears alot, he probably puts time into the posting, then can’t spend any more time till the next shot, although from what I know bloggers usually like conversing with their readers, but i’ve done versions of what he’s done, so i understand.

    i tend to start turning in the other direction when people do the “conspiracy theory” conversation. i’m like – come on, really? bush wanted more oil, THAT’S why we started a war?! not saying that its not a factor in these types of decisions…obviously the US economic and safety interests are the ulterior motive behind 99% of our actions…but really?! the GOVERNMENT bombed the world trade centers to cause people to hate muslims, or whatever cockamamie theory people put out?! i consider myself extremely open-minded, but i just have to laugh when i hear these. now, if someone who is not usually into these ideas, does believe one of them, i might take them seriously, but i laugh at the people who think almost everything is a conspiracy theory. i’m too lazy to work up my brain on that kind of thinking.

  10. i apologize if i forget to come back for a few days, there is usually a way to be notified if someone responds, i don’t see that mechanism here…so i’ll try to remember to check in every once in a while…

    by the way, it isn’t released yet, but i’ve written a book on Agnosticism. I hesitate to post that news on my own, because i hate when people post spam on my sites. i was going to approach Jeff to get him to review the book so I could link back to his site with the review posted on mine (as a sort of reciprocal “I’ll try to send traffic your way in exchange for the bad or good review (honesty is fine)”. But I didn’t see a way to contact him, and instead of bouncing like I sometimes do, I actually liked what he had to write and started participating.

    if you click on my username it will take you to the site…i’d be equally curious to hear what you think (i’ll send you a free copy if you’d like, when its out there)…I had about 30 writers review it, but now I wish I had thought of getting a hard-core agnostic to review it – like myself – not sure if any of them were, in fact one was a die-hard Christian, that was…well…lets just say that sometimes pure logic and common sense is not enough to move people, even when it’s staring them in the face. she read the entire book, and was very generous in trying to give me her honest comments (which showed that she actually liked what i wrote). but every so often, she would say “if only you would accept our savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, you wouldn’t have to wonder or disucss all this, and you’d be saved!” yet she agreed with the logic of most of what i wrote. i didn’t get it?! but i still think of her fondly, it just made me shake my head, that’s all…

  11. by the way, when i say i’m a hard-core agnostic that was probably misleading. 90% of me believes in the logic of reincarnation, karma, detachment, soul energy, the ego, etc. 10% of me is agnostic. but the 90% is comprised of 2 components – 60% i would attribute to the fact that i find these concepts very logical actually. they make more sense than many other concepts i’ve heard, including the idea that we’re really random freaks of nature and we’re not going anywhere special after this. 30% of me just has had some strange experiences in life where i kind of believe that at times, there is a destiny or there is something looking out for you – in good and bad ways. however, i’m extremely open minded, and i am willing to change my beliefs at any time if someone presents me something more interesting. so norman says that agnostics and atheists prob don’t fear death as much, that might be true, because if i knew this was it, no other place after this, i would be so much happier. i don’t like the idea of reincarnation and being reborn again in this endless cycle of suffering. so if we’re not random and thre is a higher-power, then frankly, I AM scared of death.

  12. Preeti said,

    “i kind of believe that at times, there is a destiny or there is something looking out for you.”

    I do understand your intuition. When I was twenty five I went to sleep on my bed with a lit cigarette in my fingers. During the night, I rolled over and stuck my hand directly into the crater of embers in my mattress and that is what woke me up. That same year, I was coming back from Jackpot, Nevada, to Twin Falls, Idaho, taking a shortcut through gravel county roads, the morning sun and the spray of automated irrigation blinded me and I missed a T intersection, hit a ditch and took out a fence, put my forehead through the windshield, drove home without a scratch on my body. The car wasn’t as lucky. I do feel like I’m living nine lives.

    But, you said: “by the way, when i say i’m a hard-core agnostic that was probably misleading. 90% of me believes in the logic of reincarnation.”

    Well, there is absolutely no scientific evidence that anyone can present to prove that reincarnation doesn’t happen. But, the apex of the problem is that as a scientist, you must prove the existence of a soul separate from the body. Even if you believe, without proof, that when a mouse dies, it strives to become something higher, then you must define what is higher. Does it desire to eventually become a human, the highest order of intelligence on this planet, engulfed in war and religion and greed? I think a soul would rather be a dog, loved unconditionally, fed on schedule, and tolerated even when it stinks. No responsibilities except to be appreciative, and to shit outside.

    You said:

    “so norman says that agnostics and atheists prob don’t fear death as much”. What???? Please quote me, even out of context where I said such a ridiculous thing. I said that the fear of death is inherent in all living things. Jeff and I only engaged in debate about what order of intelligence recognized the inevitability of its death. Jeff will argue, and I don’t pretend to be able to stifle his argument, but my THEORY is that when humans realized their inevitable death, and its direct conflict with their terror of death, that is when the afterlife was first sold to the first idiot.

    Norman Lycan

  13. Well, Jeff,

    I thought that activity would generate activity. I guess it did, but not the right kind. We attracted a book salesman in search of an endorsement for a religious idea that was invented to solidify the caste system. If you die enough times, eventually you will be king. Let him prove that you don’t only die once.

    It seems we are alone. And perhaps that doesn’t matter. Solomon said: Fear of god is the beginning of wisdom.” He turned on his god, so I will paraphrase him, the rejection of god is the rest of wisdom. I really care about the future of my children, but, I suspect humanity got so far ahead of itself with it’s technology, as opposed to its wisdom and caution, that humanity is finished. Nature isn’t planning a funeral, it will just try again, and it may fail again, but it will try again. And again, until it works. That is what it has always done, and will always do.

    What do you think, Jeff? Are we humans just evolutionary prototypes destined for failure? Can you ever convince a republican that he has the reponsibility to support a homeless child? The death of our species is already on the floor or congress. And I do care, but one vote in a red state will never change what is written in stone.

  14. Hey??!! What?! I am not a book salesman (nor a book saleswoman since I am female). I am not trying to push my book willy-nilly on people and in fact I’m an awful salesperson otherwise I wouldn’t have failed at the numerous entrepreneurial ventures I started where I ended up giving free stuff to everyone because I couldn’t charge them 1/2 the time…and hence wrote a book on spirituality because after a few failures in life, one starts wondering what the point of it all is…

    and sorry to attribute that line to you, norman (agnostics and atheists prob don’t fear death as much), actually jeff said that in his article above. not you.

    and wow…you’re a serious pessimist, aren’t you?! its funny, because so am i. yes, technology has gotten ahead of our wisdom, and yes we will probably end up annhilating ourselves one day with either chemical or nuclear warfare or global warming – many poisons to choose from, can’t wait to see which one will finally do us in…

    and given that i speak to you more than jeff does, norman, i think you should try to be nicer to me now 🙂

  15. “you must define what is higher…”

    higher – permanent and complete happiness – which we are all striving for. however, as long as you attach permanent happiness expectations to temporary, external factors (time, objects, people, place, results, the mind) you are going to get contradictory results. you will only get temporary, constantly changing happiness if you attach it to temporary, constantly changing external factors.

    what does that permanent and complete happiness look like? I don’t know for sure, of course, but my guess is there is no physical, deteriorating body – not even a dog’s whose life may not be as bad as another life form but still involves suffering nevertheless. i think that plane consists of all energy – soul energy as i call it – and all soul energy is joined together in one continuum of space. beyond that, i do now know, why we are not there already and going through this suffering and these tests in order to reach that place, i do not know…and whether this is even correct or not – i do not know, i’m an agnostic, so I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure.

  16. also…reincarnation might have been used to solidify the caste system, but that is not why i find it logical. if…and that’s a big IF…if we are purposely put on this earth by some higher intelligence, and not random freaks of nature…then we are most likely being tested. if we are being tested, then it makes more sense to me that we would be tested over several lifetimes and not just one lifetime, because it seems there is too much disparity among people in one lifetime for the tests to be fair (ie a baby who dies within a few months doesn’t seem to have the same test as someone who lives until 80. so having a few lifetimes to pass that “test” seems more logical to me than just one lifetime).

    but again, that is IF we have any tests to pass in the first place. and i’m not saying one can’t argue that our tests ARE all the same in ONE lifetime. someone might say the baby had the same test as an 80 yr old, we just don’t know it. maybe. but what seems MORE logical to me is that our tests are spread out over several lifetimes – possibly in animal, plant and human form – rather than just this one human form. hence reincarnation sounds logical to me.

    the caste system said that a person’s progress on the spiritual path could be measured by how many “blessings” they had in their current life, ie if they had earned tons of good karma and were good souls in past lives, they would be rewarded in this life by material wealth. hence the brahmins were considered mroe spiritually advanced than untouchables.

    i completely disagree wtih that, i think lack of material wealth can sometimes be a blessing in disguise, it makes you more able to disconnect from the regular world and go more towards spirituality. so material wealth is not indicative of good karma.

    that’s my brief 2 cents….

  17. Preeti,

    Let me quote your first post here. “I’m an avid Agnostic myself “.

    Then on 7/13 you posted, “by the way, when i say i’m a hard-core agnostic that was probably misleading. 90% of me believes in the logic of reincarnation, karma, detachment, soul energy, the ego, etc. 10% of me is agnostic.

    Well, if you would like me to be friendly to you, I think it’s reasonable to ask you to never misrepresent yourself under any circumstances. It takes years to build a trust, and one lie to destroy it.

    So, I will not lie to you. The idea of reincarnation has no support among scientific communities. And while some people claim to have memories from past lives, these as well have been unsubstantiated. So you found a mental poison that makes you feel good. So have the muslims, and so have the christians. So did the Greeks and the Egyptians until their absurd belief died away from civilization. Did I forget the Aztecs, the Druids, and the Vikings. But, you think you have found the true religion. Why? Because it tells you what you want to hear? That is how religion has always worked. Time to wake up!!!

    I’m not trying to be mean, I’m just trying not to lie to you, the way you did to us. I turned the other cheek.

    Norman Lycan

  18. Lie to you? Isn’t that a bit dramatic? Why in the world would I “lie to you”? I am an agnostic, it says so on my website (which I am not asking you to visit anymore as I don’t want to be perceived as some peddler). But there all types / shades of agnostic. So the word “avid” is true in some sense, but I realized that avid could imply that I am a shade exactly in the middle. That’s why I clarified that I lean towards believing certain concepts / ideas. But I highly doubt I will ever claim to know something 100%, because how can we know for sure what is true and what is not – that is what I meant by “avid”. As in I will always be agnostic.

    I am not saying reincarnation has scientific support. I agree with the fact that it does not. All I am saying is it makes more sense than alot of other ideas / theories I’ve heard because it seems to explain alot of the disparities in the world. That is, if we are not random freaks of nature. If we are random occurences, and our “free will” is not going to get us anywhere better or worse (ie Heaven or Hell), then reincarnation is irrelevant (in the sense that I am referring to). You could say that even if we are random, we could be born again due to randomness. Maybe. That’s not the reincarnation I am referring to, I am indeed referring to the kind with religious / spiritual connotations.

    So I may be a different type of agnostic than you, but I am still agnostic.

  19. Preeti said,

    “You could say that even if we are random, we could be born again due to randomness.”

    I think I understand your point, but, if all life force goes back into some cosmic pool which fuels the betterment of nature, still you are born without memory except the trama of your birth. And what of a rich kid, privileged all his life, then dies of a heroin overdose when he’s seventeen? Does he have to start over swimming in ponds as an amoeba? Hinduism is bullshit, just like every other religion ever invented. And I do understand that agnostism is a much misunderstood idea. The idea of which religion might have merit, is not what Jeff has been presenting, it’s like atheism, only it includes intellectual honesty and humility. Scientists that admit they don’t know everything. And that there are things that may never be known. So simple and honest. Purest form of freethought.

    Try universalists, they have the exact ingredients of gullible people who believe there is good in all religion. And, they are not entirely wrong. Israelites and Muslims figured out a long time ago, that if you kept your gorgeous wife inside the house, or draped invisible in public, no one would kill you in order fuck her. In an uncivilized civilization, that validates legislation. But, this is the awakening, those ideas are ridiculous. Man has landed on the moon, but you look for answers in the archaeic past. Why would you assume that a caveman would realize an answer that is not available to you when you listen to your reasoning mind, and not what you want to hear. Ancient is not closer to god, it’s closer to ignorant.

    Norman Lycan

  20. Hi Norman –
    I see your point also, but I am not trying to see which Religion has merit, per se. HOWEVER, I do believe that there may be some wise people, over the centuries, who have “discovered” another plane of existence that we may not know about, even through science. IE, I do believe it is possible that meditation could transport you to some “Wormhole of Nothingness” where you have an experience similar to that described by those “near-death” ie a bright light, intense love, etc. Just because some theories brought out in Religions are crazy, doesn’t mean all of them are. What if there really was someone, centuries ago, who meditated and understood the secrets of the Universe and was trying to comunicate them through some of these holy books? All I am trying to do is give some weight to Religious teachings alongside Scientific teachings when analyzing whether they may be true or not. I dont’ go in saying they are true, and I am okay with finding out none of the Religions are true. But just because Reincarnation or Karma is being taught by a Religion, doesn’t mean I immeidately dismiss it.

    Therefore, I have taken some time to think about some of these concepts, and what I have concluded is that some of them do seem logical. The 17 year old rich kid who dies of an overdose may not be reincarnated as an amoeba, but even if he is, how is that necessarily bullshit? Logically speaking, he didn’t really use his life (it would seem) to help others, he consumed drugs for his own pleasure. So Reincarnation says that he didn’t add to his good Karmic balance, in fact he might have added to his bad Karmic balance, therefore he has to burn that bad Karma off. Perhaps reincarnating as an amoeba is the way he would do that, becuase I do believe that all living forms – plant, animal, and human – undergo some type of suffering.

    What I believe is that some Religious theories make more sense than others. Reincarnation and Karma and Detachment make more sense to me than a Hell with everlasting fires and pitchforks and Devils. Just because Reincarnation and Karma and Detachment arent’ discussed within Science doesn’t mean I am not going to spend some time analyzing their validity. Yes, its more likely they are not true since we havent’ “proven” them. But I still find them logical enough to concede that there is a possibility they could be true. That’s all. And I promise you that I am not looking to justify any Religion whatsoever, if I analzyed them and felt there was equal stupidity to all of them and all of their teachings, I would say so. In fact, I agree, alot of Hinduism is “bullshit” – to use your word – like the caste system for example. So I don’t think all of it makes sense.

    I think I am embodying intellectual honesty and humility (although excuse my atrocious typing errors as I like to type fast). I am neither ruling out or in Religion or Science. I am saying that I will analyze any and all ideas on their own merit, no matter who is presenting them – without any biases (well maybe just a little bias, because I do have more skepticism of Religious concepts and prob less bias towards Scientific theorires). I think this is true Agnosticism, not ruling anything out, even Religious theories.

    To me, Karma, Detachment, Reincarnation, the Ego, and Soul are all concepts that make sense to me, based on logic. But what makes equal sense to me is that there is no God, no Karma, no Detachment, none of this, and we are just random freaks of nature. I really could go either way. What I am less a believer of is “Judgement Day” and Devils and having to do certain rituals a certain way otherwise I am going to Hell, or having to say I accept Jesus Christ vs Allah because if I dont’ use the right “name” of God, I am going to hell. That to me is very illogical.

  21. Hello Agnostic society,
    It is a wonderful feeling to know that there are people out there who think like me. I come from a family of Catholics and it is not easy being the only person in the family who thinks differently. They think I am just too young and naive, but I think the same about them.
    I stopped believing in a personal god long ago. I was 10 when I realized it did not make much sense. It was fascinating to me how gullible these people were. It did not take much reasoning to put two and two together and come to the conclusion that “God” did not exist, but these people could not see what I saw. I just could not explain to anyone what I thought because I did not know much, so I read and studied philosophy, the bible and anything else I could grasp my hands around.
    After 16 years and finally completing my Confirmation into the church (my mom made me do it, she said I needed to at least give it a shot) I realized I had enough. I was tired of people trying to get me to believe in something that just did not make sense. After having to hear my family say “thank you god” for everything and bringing god into every conversation and using him as an explanation for everything around them, I was feed up so I stood up and told my family what I thought. They thought MY ideas were absurd and incoherent as if what they thought was perfectly logical. haha At the end of the conversation they ended up calling me SATAN!
    I took it as proof of the negative effects a religion has on mans ability to reason. All a religion does is blind people and makes them hostile when listening to someone else’s thoughts. They become anti-social to those not of their religious beliefs and shun those who think other wise, even family! I believe we do not know anything in this world. Everything is uncertain. Not even math can be trusted; this is coming from a Mechanical Engineer major. Yes I study it, but I DO NOT KNOW if it is certain. I believe mans’ purpose in this world is to achieve absolute certainty by eliminating all other distractions and B.S. we are taught through life. We must find the core of our knowledge and grow our understanding off of that core not opinions or what any other human has to say. We are humans and are not born with absolute certainty. So we must stop acting like it. I hate that religious people speak as if they have some authority. They speak as if what they are taught by religions is absolutely true, because the religion it’s self tells them so. Just because I say I am correct and can convince people to believe me does not mean I am correct. The search and finding of absolute certainty will get mankind one step closer to achieving the qualities we call “godlike”.
    Religion was made for the weak to place them on an equal plane to those superior to them. What better way to get the rich and strong to pity the weak and poor than by giving the weak and poor an “eternal life” and a “God” that will give them what they want? Everything about a religion, defies what is instinct tells us to do. The strong naturally take over a society and run it how they want, but religion has flipped that. A religion is the opposite of nature. Religion has made us all “equal”, but no one on this earth is equal and we must face that! The idea of equality is a spurious one. Stop wishing and hoping on the heavens to make your miserable life any better! If you are born in a crappy level of society, either embrace it or do something to change it yourself and for those who are born into wealth and into royalty, CONGRADULATIONS! (Not being sarcastic)

  22. Preeti,

    You said,
    “I think this is true Agnosticism, not ruling anything out, even Religious theories.”
    Well, I think that neither Jeff (just guessing, can’t speak for him) nor I would completely disagree with that statement. When speaking in sweeping terms like “religion is bullshit”, I am speaking from a scientific point of view. That in my research, that religious mythology, when put to the test is consistantly inaccurate, the earth is not the center of the universe, it is not six thousand years old, modern human civilization is older than that, the flood never happened. And in a majority of cases this mythology was commissioned by the existing government to either declare them gods on earth, or the chosen representatives of the gods. So, to put an exclamation point on the argument, the worship of Zeus or Horace has vanished from this earth, and will never return.

    Now, theories about the afterlife. I guess that really is what this thread is about. My theory, which sparked this thread, was that religion arose in humankind because they are caught in a canundrum, a paradox, because they are terrified of death, but, humans would have never survived the evolutionary process if they were not. Neither would any other species. But we are the first to invent gods and demons and an afterlife. And while I cannot prove that a demon or a god does not exist, I can prove the surrounding story is bullshit, and therefore, there is no merit to the existence of either the god or the demon. I cannot disprove an afterlife, but its supporting irrational motivations for belief make it outside agnostism.

    Now, there have been some brilliant people in the past. Galileo, a devout catholic, is my favorite. He discovered that not only is the earth not the center of the universe, it’s not even the center of the solar system. In return for his brilliant scientific work, the catholic church forced him to publicly recant his theories, then spend the rest of his life in house arrest. That’s religion. But, here’s a paradox. Isaac Newton theorized gravity, but, spent his last years searching the bible for the date of armageddon. Ironic.

    Kharma may feel like what you want to believe about the nature of the universe, but, the real nature of the universe is 200,000 people died in the tsunami around the Indian Ocean in 2004. Nature didn’t hold a funeral for anyone. It’s not a humane ladder toward god, it’s a ruthless machine that destroys every vulnerable target. The ultimate route of it’s path is determined by what is left breathing afterward.

    Norman Lycan

  23. Norman,

    You say “from the scientific point of view”. What does this mean? So scientist are correct as well as what they think? Religion was created by humans just as much as science was, so how can you support anything with something that is equal to a religion. Everything in the mathematics and sciences field is created by humans. So if you see things from the “scientific point of view” and think you are correct are you not the same as some christian some where that thinks that God is the answer, because he is seeing it through the religious point of view? So who is ultimately correct? Or a better way to state that is what makes what you think any more correct than what a religious person thinks?

    Bryan Ramirez

  24. There’s a lot to read here so I’ll start with the words of Huxley on agnosticism:
    —————-
    1. Agnosticism is of the essence of science, whether ancient or modern. It simply means that a man shall not say he knows or believes that which he has no scientific grounds for professing to know or believe.
    2. Consequently Agnosticism puts aside not only the greater part of popular theology, but also the greater part of anti-theology. On the whole, the “bosh” of heterodoxy is more offensive to me than that of orthodoxy, because heterodoxy professes to be guided by reason and science, and orthodoxy does not.
    3. I have no doubt that scientific criticism will prove destructive to the forms of supernaturalism which enter into the constitution of existing religions. On trial of any so-called miracle the verdict of science is “Not proven.” But true Agnosticism will not forget that existence, motion, and law-abiding operation in nature are more stupendous miracles than any recounted by the mythologies, and that there may be things, not only in the heavens and earth, but beyond the intelligible universe, which “are not dreamt of in our philosophy.” The theological “gnosis” would have us believe that the world is a conjuror’s house; the anti-theological “gnosis” talks as if it were a “dirt-pie” made by the two blind children, Law and Force. Agnosticism simply says that we know nothing of what may be beyond phenomena.
    ————————–

    Preeti says “To me, Karma, Detachment, Reincarnation, the Ego, and Soul are all concepts that make sense to me, based on logic.” I think it’s wise that she acknowledges the opposite could be true and she’s could go either way. I do disagree with the logic of anything in the metaphysical realm being anything more than dream and conjecture with no logical reason to assume they have a basis in scientific truth. One day we may reproduce the human mind and intellect in computers and demonstrate that our minds are just organic computers. Would androids dream and would they also dream of reincarnation, karma, and their soul?

    Bryan, for the “scientific point of view” just do some reading on using the scientific method. Science so far is limited to our physical realm and there isn’t scientific proof of the metaphysical. I don’t see logic in our physical selves crossing back and forth between the metaphysical if there is anything outside of physical existence. Everything in math and science is an observation of humans and subject to change using the scientific method if the observations don’t continue to bear scrutiny. Religion and attempts to define things beyond our physical realm doesn’t survive a critical scrutiny and always require belief and faith.

    Norman, lots of good feedback and discussion and just too much to really reply to other than to say we do have some similar views.

  25. Bryan R. said:

    “Religion was created by humans just as much as science was, so how can you support anything with something that is equal to a religion.”

    Science is not equal to religion. Religion is practiced properly by faith, believing in something that cannot be proven. Agnostism is the belief in absolutely nothing that cannot be proven. And those things that can neither be proven nor disprove, as pure scientists, we draw no conclusions. But my favorite branch of science is chemical engineering. These people can invent compounds and alloys that do not exist in nature, and accurately predict it’s properties. Then they can invent a process with chemicals and metals to sythesize this new substance, and their prediction of it’s properties are dead on.

    My least favorite part of science is astrophysics when eggheads get on history channel and say: this is what we KNOW so far, five billionths of a second after the big bang, the universe was the size of a subatomic particle and was umpty billion degrees hot. Bullshit!!!! Modern science has no idea how an unimaginably enomous universe could explode out of nothing. Scientists can’t even create a subatomic particle out of nothing, let alone, a universe. Therefore it is a theory, and if you believe, despite that fact, you have stumbled back into religion. And religion is and aways will be the bane of humanity.

    Jeff said,

    “Norman, lots of good feedback and discussion and just too much to really reply to other than to say we do have some similar views.”

    I told you that we are brothers in freethought, but, brothers don’t always agree. But, here is something I know we agree on, that atheism is neoreligion, and the solution to the human condition is agnostism. Which sometimes makes me wonder why you hide your lantern under a bushel basket? You are a lighthouse, you just need to upgrade your wattage. When pushed to decide yes or no, people do understand, I DON’T KNOW. And when you don’t know, you don’t believe. Simplest of solutions to the most complex problems.

    Norman Lycan

  26. I can hear crickets chirping in here! Okay, Jeff, even though you know I reject ancient mythology, I still enjoy a fantasy or horror film. But, this time I want to share a song with you by one of the greatest vocalists I have ever heard. A song about a Greek myth about the ferryman that carries souls to the afterlife across the river Styx, but, he played a game, he would stop in the middle of the river and demand payment, and if you payed him, he would pitch you into the river, basically pergatory. You didn’t attain the afterlife. Chris de Burgh: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INmrR9DmSZ4. Even my son the headbanger loved it.

    Talk to me Jeff.

    Norman Lycan

  27. wow….lots of activity here while i was gone…its 4 am and i couldn’t sleep and i thought to myself – i wonder what my friends, norman and jeff are upto – and voila! you were all having a party without me.

    however my brain is too tired to come up with something new and intelligent to add to the discussion so just thought i’d say hi to both (and Brian). i’m still reading, even though i have to re-read some of jeff’s posts because he uses alot of big words that i don’t know and have to think about. (that’s good, i’m not making fun of him, i’m kind of making fun of myself)

    all right, that’s all i can come up with at 4 in the morning…good night!

  28. Hello people!

    I have recently become agnostic after a long period of hesitance. I was a Catholic most of my life and then became an atheist for almost a year. To really confirm my agnosticism I wrote a piece called “The Greatness of Agnosticism” in which I deal with the inherent problems of believers and atheists and conclude with a paragraph on why agnosticism is a union of opposites and the better choice.

    Check it out, I promise it’s worth it.

    http://livinginthebalance.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-greatness-of-agnosticism.html

  29. Killian, that’s a great article! You may get some feedback from weak atheists that will tell you they don’t have to provide an explanation for “why” we exist since atheism is in the strictest sense, “without theism.” Since an atheist is lacking in theistic belief, a person doesn’t really stand for anything other than disbelief with that label. That’s the main reason I continue to gravitate to the agnostic label and agnosticism viewpoint because belief isn’t the point of argument. The true viewpoint to stand on is if we KNOW our first cause and any possible reason for it. My belief is that it is unknown which firmly puts the burden of proof on anyone claiming knowledge or anyone claiming belief in something that is beyond human knowledge.

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