Matthew

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Everything posted by Matthew

  1. Random Thoughts

    I'm gonna open a bakery called 'The Pastryarchy' and sell ginger rolls.
  2. 1) I worry about WTM and relationship stuff kind of regularly. I worry about finding someone that's both waiting and compatible. I'll likely try online dating once I get my life more on track. 2) No. I'd trade waiting in a heartbeat if I found out that it would prevent me from ever finding a partner. Waiting is a means to a preferable end. 3) I would most likely reach a point where I'd give up on waiting. I can't say for sure when that point would be. Maybe or maybe not before 40; definitely before 50. But I can only speculate.
  3. Just got to the part where the author doesn't seem to know that melanin is good for sunny climates (and less relevant further from the equator) because it protects from UV rays, not heat. Natural selection doesn't care how comfortable a species is, and a species doesn't care as long as it's reproducing. Saying Eskimos should have fur if evolution is true doesn't make sense because they survived and reproduced just fine without fur. They had clothes, after all. Should I keep reading?
  4. Ask an Atheist!

    I haven't really studied free will vs. determinism enough to have a strong opinion about it, but from what I've heard and read so far about determinism it seems viable to me. It's one of those subjects that interest me enough that I want to investigate further but not enough that I set aside time to do it I don't think it should affect how we live though. I mean, it wouldn't mean we aren't accountable to our actions. I think there would be pros and cons to society if determinism were proven and accepted to be true by the majority of people (for example, I think one good outcome would be better treatment of criminals and shifting the focus more to rehabilitation than punishment). While the idea is kind of depressing on the surface, I think that, even if determinism is the mechanism behind our choices, the illusion of free will is so powerful that recognizing that our choices might be made before we realize it need not affect our lives too much. At least not until we learn a lot more about how it works. As for evolution, I would agree with Steadfast that it doesn't really affect my daily life. I've really enjoyed finally learning more about it this past year or so, and I definitely see certain aspects of life differently, but not in regard how I treat people or anything. I also would say it doesn't make me all depressed about love or anything. Even if love is ultimately just a feeling and not some divinely ordained connection with the person we were fated to be with, it is still a powerful force that can bring a lot of good to our lives. if we want it to.
  5. Ask an Atheist!

    I realized I was an atheist when the whole idea of "god" didn't really make sense any more. I realized the "voice" in my head, which I heard when I had doubts or did something wrong or prayed, which I'd always attributed to God or the holy spirit was more likely just an extension of myself and what I'd been taught by my parents, and my pastors and sunday school teachers, and not the supernatural creator and destroyer of worlds. Well most of my family could be considered "Bible thumpers", and I usually get along fine with them. When conversations take a turn towards topics where I heavily disagree with them, I usually get quiet and suppress the desire to argue or thump them on the head. I try to speak up when they bring up scientific topics that I've looked into and I know I can talk about it without things getting too tense. My parents know I don't really believe any more (though I'm not sure they know I've accepted my atheism and am happy with it) and sometimes my dad makes certain comments and I know it's directed toward me, but I know he means well so I try not to take it badly. Politically, I'm pretty ignorant. Prior to the past couple years whenever politics came up my eyes would glaze over and I'd day dream while grunting my agreement. But since then I've accepted that I need to be a productive member of society and I should develop my political ideas. Maybe tomorrow... That said on most issues where I have put thought into it, I'm fairly liberal. That's mostly limited to social issues like gay marriage, abortion, death penalty, prison, etc. I try to base my views on logic and evidence but I recognize that sometimes emotions and bias can cloud my judgment. I like to think I'd be willing to date someone with religious beliefs, but they'd probably have to be fairly vague and liberal, and nothing like the beliefs of my past. Ideally, it'd be cool to date someone who had a similar background to mine and is now an atheist/agnostic.
  6. Ask an Atheist!

    Well, naturally I've read a lot of the Bible, more-so during the days when I still believed than now. Most of the resources I used throughout the whole of my "de-conversion" (and still when the mood strikes or one pops up that I haven't seen) were debates (such as Hitchens v. Craig, Kent Hovind v. various people, and many more), and reading rebuttals to Christian apologetic arguments. I have several apologetics books in my collection, like some by Hugh Ross of Reasons to Believe, and Henry Morris, but to be honest I haven't finished any of them, though I have read some summaries and responses. I'll eventually get around to reading through most of them. During the "oh shit my beliefs might be wrong, must find all the apologetics!" phase I mostly read fundamentalist apologetics material like this (I guess it's no wonder I lost my beliefs ). After I started recognizing that my more fundamentalist views didn't really stand up, I mostly watched debates and read rebuttals until one day I realized I just didn't believe any more.
  7. Ask an Atheist!

    Fair enough. I know there are plenty of people that see agnosticism as a middle ground or third option with regard to belief about deities, and I'm fine with that. I made the "waffly agnostics" comment in the OP just as a joke; I'm cool with people claiming the label "agnostic" to just mean they don't have a belief about the existence of a god one way or the other. I called myself an agnostic until a year or two ago, when I discovered the whole "agnostic atheist" thing and saw how most atheists were using the term atheist. It's what makes sense to me but ultimately, it's just labels, and the actual beliefs people hold are more important that what they call themselves. I'd be more likely to tell someone in conversation, "Oh, I don't personally believe in any gods", than "Oh, I'm an atheist." Honestly I haven't given much thought to non-Abrahamic religions, because I'm only personally familiar with Christianity. From my surface-level understanding of ancient Greek religions from a few high school and college classes, it mostly seemed to me like people attributing now-explained acts of nature to gods. And understandably so, in many cases. That probably covers most of the "that doesn't make any sense" types of thoughts I had about ancient Greek religion. I'm also not too familiar with eastern religions, but I've always assumed they would be ultimately similar to most religions: attributing natural phenomenon to supernatural beings, mixed in with observations about the human experience that may or may not include some helpful wisdom.
  8. Ask an Atheist!

    Finally back at a computer. I'll try to catch up one at a time... Thanks for all the questions! All I can do is speculate about the kind of thing I would find convincing, but the short answer would be, "I don't know." That's not really up to me, though. All I can do is live life and try to be observant and honest about reality and my beliefs regarding it. That brings up an interesting thought, though. Even if it were proven to everyone's satisfaction that we have a creator or creators, what would set him/her/it/them apart as "supernatural"? It seems to me that no matter the properties of the "god" we discovered, all it would do is expand our understanding of the natural world, because as far as I know the natural world is all that there is. What is "supernatural"? So if a god or gods or creator race or whatever were discovered to be real, I might discard the label "atheist" but I still wouldn't see the being or beings in the same way I used to see "God" when I was a believer, and I wouldn't just fall down on my knees and pledge myself to it/them or anything. I don't know about "most" atheists, but since they're just people I imagine they're probably sapiosexual at the same rate as the rest of the population, and it probably varies more with other factors like personal intelligence, socio-economic status, education, etc. than with whether they are atheist or not. I'm completely capable of being attracted to a woman without knowing anything about her intelligence. Leaving out the physical, I would probably rank kindness, compassion, loyalty, thoughtfulness, love, etc. above intelligence. That said, I would probably not date someone or marry someone if I didn't find them intelligent in some way. One doesn't.
  9. "How Secular Family Values Stack Up"

    Thank you for changing your mind and trying to explain further. I'm not an objectivist. I don't believe in absolute moral laws that exist even without any conscious life that govern whether something is "right" or "wrong". My punching-Bob example was an extremely simplified example of using objective facts of a situation and the things on which we place value to determine whether something is moral or immoral, or good or bad, or desirable or undesirable. Adding things to the situation like Bob attempting to rape someone only adds more facts to consider. What? Of course I don't believe we have a perfect set of laws and punishment. I'm not that stupid. So, "the wages of sin is death" is the response to the bolded parts in my comment. So you're saying that the Christian god's moral system is useful for humans because it is based on what actions constitute sin and which thus lead to our death? If something is sin then it is immoral? So sin is "the transgression of God's law," and transgressing God's law results in death. So are you saying the Christian god's moral system is useful because following it would prevent death? Even though everyone dies anyway. I guess I still don't get it. I'm not sure how that question is relevant. Firstly, you're free to say that the Christian god's morality is "perfect" and thus superior to any morality set up by humans, but I would simply have to disagree based on what I see in the Bible. So I'm not sure if the conversation would go anywhere after that. Secondly, you assume I think punishment is the best answer to transgression of law. I'm not sure it is. It might be necessary to do things that seem like punishment (incarcerating violent or harmful criminals), but really that is just to prevent them from continuing to do harm. It's not "because you did this, we are going to this to you," but "because you did this, we are going to do this to keep you from doing it again." The goal should be to prevent harm from being done in the first place, not to exact revenge or retribution when harm is done. It's the whole point of having laws in the first place. As for whether I can imagine a perfect set of laws and punishments, that's a difficult question to answer.I don't even have full knowledge of the imperfect system that currently exists, and a perfect one would have to be even more exhaustive than it in order to cover all relevant variables in all possible scenarios in all situations where law would be required. So, while I can imagine perfection in certain instances, I don't think I can imagine, much less define, a specific and perfect set of laws. Besides, we were talking about morality, not law.
  10. "How Secular Family Values Stack Up"

    I'm honestly not following you here or seeing what it has to do with what you bolded. I used the term arbitrary because most people that believe in an omnipotent god, and especially the Christian god, believe that morality is based upon that god, and thus it is free to choose what is moral and what is immoral (if it is not free to choose, then that means there exists an absolute moral system that is independent of this god, and if that's the case, from whence did it come and how could it bind an omnipotent god?). And since for the most part there is no logical explanation given for most of what is considered immoral in the Bible (it's all based on what God wants or what he decrees as being wrong), I have to conclude that it is arbitrary and that he could have set up a different system if he desired. Sure, maybe he looks at all the facts at any given period in human existence and adjusts the moral system based on those facts and logical reasoning about what is best for humanity, but unless he explains that reasoning I can't see the moral system as anything but arbitrary. And since the Bible hasn't been updated, I have to assume that, if the Christian god exists and is happy with the Bible, that the morality presented in it is still the morality that he applies to us today. And I discuss it because I find it interesting.
  11. Ask an Atheist!

    No problem. I'm no philosopher either; I had to read the author's four posts a couple times to fully understand. The reason I read this... ...And said that I think you agree with the author is that I don't think the author is saying you have to know or be sure that no gods exist, but simply that an atheist is someone who believes that no gods exist (which is what you think as well, right?) The author's point is that atheists are the same as theists in that they believe something which is unprovable, and that atheists thus have no place to criticize religious belief like many of them do. He's also saying that the people who claim to be atheists but try to dodge and say they don't hold a belief that no gods exist but simply don't accept the claims that they do, are not really atheists but agnostics. My disagreement with the author is due to my view that theism and atheism are the only two positions one can have on the existence of gods. When asked whether you believe in a god or gods, you either say yes and are a theist, or no and are an atheist. Gods existing is the claim and so you either accept it (believe) or don't accept it (don't believe). Agnosticism and Gnosticism are separate labels. One can be a gnostic or agnostic theist and one can be a gnostic or agnostic atheist. That's my view on the labels, at least. Let me know if I'm misunderstanding your view.
  12. Ask an Atheist!

    Are you referring to something like the transporter/teleporter problem of consciousness? Like, how do you know you're still you after going through a device that teleports you by copying your cells or disassembling them and recreating them or reassembling them somewhere else? I enjoy thinking about stuff like that.
  13. Ask an Atheist!

    I saw that you posted in the "secular values" thread. I think my post here mostly sums up my views. I pretty much agree 100% with what Steadfast said. I especially like the part about how she wouldn't believe in objective morality (at least not in the universal/absolute sense) even if a god did exist (and if he/she/it handed down a "moral law"). Well, I haven't dated anyone since I accepted my non-belief and later identified as an atheist, so I can only speculate, but my ideal partner would be another atheist. I wouldn't really care if she labeled herself an atheist or anything or if she debated about religion, just as long as we shared views on gods and religion. At this point in my life I can't see being with someone who believes in things like hell, reward/punishment based on belief and faith, usefulness of prayer, an omni-this-and-that god, things like that. So probably just a vague belief in a hands-off designer I guess, but I wouldn't know unless I tried.
  14. Site navigation.

    I think the reason there is no account/log-in button on the main site is that you don't use your account or profile for anything outside the forums. So if you're logging in you're doing so to go to the forums anyway. A search function on the main site might be useful, but there really aren't that many articles. They all fit on one page.
  15. Ask an Atheist!

    I don't have any belief about an afterlife. My opinion about what is likely is that consciousness is a property of the structure and activity of my brain and as soon as my brain dies my consciousness ceases and my body begins the natural recycling process of decomposition. As for purpose, I don't think not believing in a god automatically means one is only living for oneself. There are plenty of things and people and creatures to live for. I don't believe there is any ultimate purpose. That means everyone is free to make their own purpose...or to not. It's not that hard to find purpose, since depending on what one values there are tons of things that need doing. I think the hard part is always feeling a sense of purpose, not necessarily finding a purpose.
  16. Ask an Atheist!

    Nah, bell peppers are a total euphoria-kill. Simple meat and extra cheese is the way to live the pure godless life.
  17. Ask an Atheist!

    I'll leave the explaining to psychologists and neuroscientists. But I can say it doesn't feel any different now that I don't believe.
  18. Ask an Atheist!

    I think you actually agree with the author. He is saying atheists believe that no gods exist and that that position is illogical. He sees atheism as no more logical than theism, and argues that since atheism (in the sense that he is using it: positive belief in the nonexistence of deities) isn't based around evidence like personal experience that most theists claim to have, it's actually less logical. What I'm saying is that I don't see atheism as the opposite of theism in the sense that theism is a belief that a god or gods exist and atheism is a belief that they do not exist, but that atheism is simply rejecting all claims of supernatural deities encountered so far as not being backed by enough evidence to warrant belief. I think that is the view that most atheists I've seen have. The author is saying such people are not really atheists and should stop using the term. So yeah, his entire paper is calling a certain type of atheistic stance, that I don't think is very common at all, is illogical. All that isn't to say an atheist (my definition) is not allowed to believe there are no gods, just that if one does, he/she has can't go around claiming that belief to be provable. But I think the bone the author is picking is with atheists that believe they are justified in saying there is no god and then acting like that claim is more logical than any theist's claim about a god's existence. That's a hard question to answer, since I don't think I've had any super dark times in my life besides the existential dilemmas that everyone faces. It could be argued that I'm at my low point right now, and sometimes I wonder if I'd never started doubting if I might have a more clear path in life, but I wouldn't say that causes me to regret not believing or the series of circumstances that led to me not believing. My unbelief has started to cause issues with family, and those can be tough, but still, I'm happy with what I believe/don't believe right now overall. As far as how I cope, I think that acknowledging that as far as I know, life will be over one day and that will be it helps me shrug off some of the bad stuff and appreciate the little things in life. Believing that I might be wrong about being saved and might spend eternity in hell or thinking about the vast number of people in the world, young and old, that would inevitably go to hell was actually pretty stressful in growing up. lol Not sure if that really answers your question..
  19. Ask an Atheist!

    I might have to read through it a couple more times (I read all four parts) to fully understand everything he's saying (I'm no philosopher), but it seems like he is arguing against the strong atheist stance that claims that there is no god and saying that the atheists who avoid making such a claim are incorrectly using the term atheism or just lying to avoid criticisms of their beliefs. Well, the vast majority of atheists I've seen are "weak" atheists or "agnostic atheists" and claim only that they do not believe in any god, but do not know there is no god. So the author would probably say that we should not call ourselves atheists and stop criticizing religious belief. But I don't really see the problem with the common usage of the word atheist to mean "lack of belief in a god." He says over and over again that since the "God exists" claim is an existential one, that either it is true or not true, and if "God exists" is false then "God does not exist" is true. He then says that if an atheist wants to refuse to accept or disbelieves in the "God exists" claim, they are actively accepting that "God does not exist" is true and believe that it is so. I just don't see the problem with not accepting the "God exists" claim and calling that atheism.
  20. Ask an Atheist!

    I don't know why I haven't seen The Book of Mormon yet.
  21. Ask an Atheist!

    Well I actually have serious answers to some of your questions... 1) I would word it more like, "I don't believe in any gods" to describe my atheism, but when talking about the Christian god that I used to believe in, I would probably say "I don't think that God exists." So, I'm a little past the doubting phase that lasted several years. Anyways, it feels pretty normal to me now. The weirdest feeling it causes is the feeling of disconnect with my younger self who believed. Also, I haven't prayed in like 5 years, but occasionally I have the feeling of having someone in my head like I used to when I thought I was talking to God or I thought God was watching me. I'm pretty confident that it's just an extension of my own consciousness (and has always been), but it's still a pretty weird feeling. 2) Well it was scary for a couple years while I was in my "I can't have faith anymore but it still might all be true" phase, and even after that phase was over, but I'm happy to say my last little panic attack about the chance of burning for eternity in unimaginable agony was several months ago, before I had an epiphany and realized it's just not going to happen. It's a ridiculous concept. 3) Satanists don't eat babies, because apparently they buy that "all life is sacred" crap. Also, they don't actually worship Satan, like any good atheist does. It's confusing, I know. 4) In this moment, I am euphoric. Not because of any phony god’s blessing. But because, I am enlightened by my intelligence. (reference for the unfamiliar) 5) Well, I can't actually answer without the influence of a religious background, because I have a heavy religious background and I think it very likely influenced my disposition towards sex, waiting, and marriage. But, I think the simple answer is that it's just what feels right to me. I mean, sometimes I doubt the marriage part (because so many fail, even after half a lifetime together), but I think I just have an ingrained affinity towards delaying physical intimacy until I'm really comfortable with someone and trust that we're going to last a while, and that makes waiting make sense. The hard part is that like most men I'm attracted to a huge variety of women, which conflicts with my romantic/emotional desire to find a "soultmate" and for her to be my only lover. So I do sometimes wonder if I'm kidding myself and it won't be worth it, but for now, my affinity towards delaying sex matches up with my desire to have a family with the woman I love and for us to each other's first partner, so, I'll keep waiting. Edit: to elaborate on 5 because I don't think I answered your sub-questions fully... I grew up getting it drilled into my head that having sex before marriage is one of the worst sins you can commit. My oldest brother had a kid out of wedlock, and he had to go in front of the church and tell the church what had happened and that he'd asked God for forgiveness and then ask them for forgiveness. So that, combined with a crippling shyness around girls, made waiting the only choice for me. It wasn't until after my first and only serious relationship had been over for a while and I'd accepted that I wasn't a believer that I realized I was free to decide my own moral system and, consequently, my boundaries in relationships. Thoughts of the girl I liked at the time and what that might mean for the very near future quickly filled my mind... But, I thought about it more and more, and around that time I found this site, and waiting just made sense to me, even without the religious framework (though like I said, it probably had a profound, lasting influence on my disposition and affinity towards waiting). In a way, I'm not sure waiting is a choice for me. Sure, I have to decide not to go out and seek sex partners, or have sex when I'm in a relationship and it's super easy to, but it's barely a decision; I just don't. Part of me believes that if I find the right woman, I'd regret having not waited for her to be my first.
  22. What's one thing you want to do in your lifetime?

    I'd like to spread out an "Earth's Greatest Hits" tour throughout my life and travel around the world experiencing the coolest places nature has to offer. So I guess I better get crackin' on a} making money or b} becoming a nomad.
  23. I should specify that the "Summer reading" for my school (a huge school) wasn't done through any class. We were notified at some point that all incoming freshman were to read Into the Wild as our Summer reading, and then we were split up into groups of like 10 at registration/orientation day and discussed the book for a little bit. So yeah, I think everyone just watched the movie In later classes I generally read the material, though I never had to read the amount that you and Jegsy did though...Jeez. Of course, I was in engineering and only had a couple writing/literature classes.