Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Question from Lissie Darcy

(That's right, you got your very own blog posting dedicated to you!)

Lissie would like to know;

"Ps. A question for all of you, (Bath Tub, and Mr. Matt, and you Zilch (Is that your name or your blogging name..? Sorry, just had to ask.) Were you atheists ever since you were old enough to decide that for yourself? And what made you come to the conclusion that you are at now? (*hem* God doesn't exist..)"

I will answer for myself (which is all any of us can ever do) and say the following;

I was raised in a 'Christian' home. I phrase it like that because, although we were nominally Church of England, it was not a major part of daily life. Likewise, my school was a 'Christian' school because we had daily assembly and prayer in the church next door, but we were not instructed to believe in God during lesson-time.

From this 'cultural Christian' background I was familiar enough with all the classic Bible tales and would have said that I knew enough to think that maybe there was a God (the Christian God seemed the only likely one at the time), but I had no idea what He wanted from me or how I should go about being True Christian beyond trying to be a good person etc, the typical False Convert thing basically.

I went through a phase of total apathy towards all things spiritual/religious during my mid teens because there were far more important things at hand; football, girls, music, alcohol & drugs (probably in about that order too!) but by the time I went to university I had started to think more honestly about the whole 'religion thing'.

I joined the Christian Fellowship at my university and spent many a long evening discussing scripture and doctrine with some good friends of mine (two of them are in South America as Missionaries now) although I remained skeptical, despite how attractive the whole deal sounded (eternal life, spiritual security, certainty, a relationship with the Creator, etc).

There was a time when I was fully convinced that God was real and was waiting for me to come to Him. I got down on my knees one Friday night and prayed. I spent hours recounting all my sins, both real and perceived, I delved into the darkest aspects of myself and asked God to bring the light. I acknowledged my need for a saviour and believed that Jesus Christ had borne the weight of my sins on His shoulders when He gave His life for us all and I humbly asked that the Holy Spirit transform my heart and bring me under God's grace.
.
.
.
Nothing happened. I was on my knees for three days, taking only water and sleeping only when I passed out from exhaustion. Now, I wasn't expecting lightening bolts or the voice of James Earl Jones ringing in my ears, but by the third day I was wondering why nothing seemed to be any different.

I continued to live as if something had happened, I knew it took faith and commitment to make any relationship work, so I assumed that this was normal. However, other Christians spoke of the powerful nature of their conversion and talked about how God 'spoke' to them through the Bible, or how the Bible 'came alive' when they were born again.

To make a long story short, it didn't take me long realize that I was deluding myself out of a fear of death and a desire for security. The thing was, my fear of death and need for security weren't that strong to start with, so there was no compelling reason for me to delude myself.

In the years since I have read the Bible multiple times and I see nothing but a collection of Jewish mythology and Middle Eastern superstitions. No doubt there was a man called Jesus who was a great spiritual leader, but the Son of God? I think not.

I have also been convinced by the many arguments against there being a god(s) from an intellectual and naturalistic position. I understand mankind to be a species of ape and that we are no better than any other evolved form of life on this planet. This makes us no less important, nor our deeds no less heroic/monstrous, but it puts us in our rightful place amongst nature.

My conclusion that there is no god(s) is based on the lack of any evidence to suggest that there is a god(s). No other conclusion would be rational, based on the experience that I have.

I hope this answers some of your questions, Lissie, and don't be afraid to ask some more.

BathTub, Zilch; care to join the confessional?


Cheers,

43 comments:

zilch said...

How can I follow an act like that? Great story, ExPatMatt.

First of all: Lissie, yes, "zilch" is my real name- my real cybername. My fleshname is Scott, but I like to go by zilch, because it reminds me that when I die, I'll be either nothing, or God will toss my sorry ass into Hell. Since I'm a born optimist, I decided on "zilch" rather than "fryer", to remind me of why I'm so happy.

I grew up in the SF Bay Area in the fifties and sixties, and my parents weren't noticeably religious, so it's no surprise that I was always an atheist, or at least an apathetic agnostic: I shopped around, hung out with a bunch of Bahá'í's for a while, went to different churches with different friends, but I never saw any reason to believe.

And now that I know how delicious barbecued babies are, there's not much chance I'll trade that for kosher or halal. Knocking little old ladies off the sidewalk is also much too fun to give up for silly morals.

So that's how I came to be an atheist, and why I continue. Also, the pay is good: Lucifer is generous.

Now it's your turn, Lissie: tell us why you're Christian.

BeamStalk said...

I love the story Matt.

Zilch, I don't know Friar Scott has a nice ring to it. ;)

Lissie, I missed your question but my story is a bit long. I have posted it in a few places. Here is the link to my own blog on it.

http://riotingmind.blogspot.com/2009/04/my-story.html

BathTub said...

Hmmm.

My first church memories (before age 7) are just of the church steps and handrailings so nothing very profound.

The first church I recall was Raumati Baptist when the family moved to Kapiti Coast. This is the church where I gave my life to Christ, the exact date was written in my Good News Bible, but I don't think I have that anymore. I also joined the local Boys Brigade Company.

After a few years we to the US, then my parents separated so mum came back to NZ with my sister and I and we ended up at the Kapiti Christian Center which later becames Meadows New Life Church. Which was pretty much the church I went to until I went to University. However the last few years my heart wasn't in it anymore as I become fairly cynical about the whole thing.
At Massey I joined one of the Christian students clubs and went to one of the on campus bible studies occasionally but pretty much drifted away.

Believe it or not it wasn't until a few years later that I read The God Delusion by Dawkins that I decided, yes I am an Atheist.

Not that I could tell my family, I knew my mother would go mental, she's very devout. She found out earlier this year when she joined facebook and saw my details posted on there! I got a few very weird emails from her at the time but she seems to have settled a bit now, it will be interesting to see what things are like when she comes back to NZ (she's been living in nepal for the past 3 years).

Bascially I just saw there was nothing in it. Praying for 10 years for my parents to get back together, faith of a mustard seed, 2 or more gathered together and all that about how prayer is supposed to work... but of course it never did. That's probably the biggest single thing that killed off my belief.

That and the fact that almost no one acts like they actually believe any of it's true.

ExPatMatt said...

Zilch - I know WEM was affiliated with the Bahá'í's at one time, what was your impression of that particular faith?

Beams - I commented at your blog

Tubs - ZOMG! you were converted by Dawkins and outed by Facebook; you really are a New Atheist, aren't you?!

Nepal, eh? How's that working out for your mum?

BathTub said...

Heh she's enjoyed it for the most part I think, she's been there through a lot of political change, with the maoist rebel fighting and the king eventually changing the structure of the govt. she's been trying to get home now for a while but has lacked the funds to do so. Oh and her husband is having trouble getting immigration papers to come back with her.

Lissie Darcy said...

@ Mr. Matt: "My conclusion that there is no god(s) is based on the lack of any evidence to suggest that there is a god(s). No other conclusion would be rational, based on the experience that I have."

Your conclusion is based on the lack of eyes to see the evidence Mr. Matt. Your conclusion is based on a hard heart, and your will to suppress the truth. "For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse." Romans 1:20 (I know you've had that quoted to you about a BILLION times.)

If I say that there is no key board, or computer that is currently sitting right in front of my eyes, because of lack of "evidence" you'd think me insane! The computer had a designer.

Yet, you are more intricately designed then any form of technology! Your brain is so much more intellectually designed then the highest, techiest (if that's not a word..well I'm adding it to my dictionary :) made up words from "Lissie") "smartest", computer in all the world!

It's the same idea. A Creator, created me. Maybe I gave it a poor analogy...but same thought behind both pictures.

If I came from an ape, if HUMANS came from an ape, then why don't we live any way we please? Why don't we act like animals? Where do laws come from? Do they come solely, from human reasoning?

The difference between Hebraic thinking and Greek thinking: The Hebrews based their thinking on Divine revelation. The Greeks based their thinking on HUMAN REASONING.

A lot of fallacies in our thinking goes back to the time of the famous Greek Philosophers. A lot of ideas and concepts they introduced, have confused man's thinking. So much so, we rely on our own tainted, human reasoning. Deciding what is right for an individual. How can such an imperfect race even think of basing morality and ethics upon their own thinking, their own standards?

I have to go finish school. Was on lunch break. Thanks for the post Mr. Matt, and for answering my question.

-Lissie

Ps. My turn, eh Zilch? I'll copy Expat, and do it in post form :)

Anna Sethe said...

May I?

I grew up in a Christian home (my mother is a Catholic, my father a Lutheran). As a small child I believed in the stories from the Bible the same way I believed in fairy tales. When I got older I stopped believing in both. I was quite surprised when I realised that some grown ups really make a difference between the Brothers Grimm and the Bible.

But Christianity is not only a religion but also an important part of European culture, so I didn't think too much about this and even had my confirmation when I was fourteen.

I've read a lot about philosophy. For some time I was influenced by Kierkegaard who addressed the problem of a childhood faith and a necessary doubting period to find to true faith. He asked for a "leap of faith". I tried and just didn't manage. It was frustrating for a while, but finally I realized that it didn't matter. Christianity just wasn't my way. You could say I became an agnostic deist at that time.

The path to atheism was gradual. I'm a neurobiologist. I know a lot about how our brains perceive the world and how we can be tricked into seeing or believing something that doesn't exist. I know enough about physical and chemical laws to know that evolution is absolutely possible without any kind of divine interference and thus probably true.
I know that our brains didn't evolve to tell us the Truth but to help us survive.
I know that we are our brains and we, as we are now, cease to exist when we die. I have no reason to believe in souls. Brains are perfectly capable of producing an "I" without spiritual help.

ExPatMatt said...

Lissie,

It makes me sad to see that you aren't able to step outside the stock answers that your religion demands to these issues.

"Your conclusion is based on the lack of eyes to see the evidence Mr. Matt. Your conclusion is based on a hard heart, and your will to suppress the truth".

Read through my story again and tell me that I was willfully suppressing the truth.

How would I go about getting 'eyes to see'?


"If I say that there is no key board, or computer that is currently sitting right in front of my eyes, because of lack of "evidence" you'd think me insane! The computer had a designer".

Your analogy should have you saying there's no designer, not that there's no keyboard, if you want it to work.

I don't deny that either I or reality exist (analogous to the keyboard/computer), I have ample evidence for that.

Now, ask yourself how you know that computers have designers. Really think about how you know that computers have designers....then tell me if you use the same thought process to determine that the universe was designed.


"If I came from an ape, if HUMANS came from an ape, then why don't we live any way we please? Why don't we act like animals? Where do laws come from? Do they come solely, from human reasoning?".

Humans are apes, by definition. Just as we are mammals. You don't deny that we are mammals, do you?

I'll leave it there for now,

Thanks for your reply and I look forward to reading your post.

Regards,

Lissie Darcy said...

OK..school later, Bath tub just shared his testimony!

DIDN'T SEE ALL THAT!

You're parents are split Bath Tub? I'm sorry. I have a cousin. His parents are split His Dad is a Christian and his mom claims to be but (like you said) she doesn't act like one. (Which makes her a non-believer because if she truly believed then she'd show it through her actions.) and my cousin is a Christian too. My Mom's parents were split. My Dad..had a hard childhood, actually. Both my parents did. If you want their testimony you can email them at my (blogging) email: Spam_mepwease@yahoo.com

Poor Bath tub. You know what, I'm starting to noticed a pattern here with you guys and your bitterness towards how "Prayer doesn't work". If you pray for a million dollars, are you EXPECTING a million dollars? I guess so. If you pray for a dog are you EXPECTING a dog? I guess so. But you're wrong. Prayer DOES "Work". If the God of the Bible exists then when Jesus taught the Apostles how to pray, it "WORKS".

He never promised to answer your prayers exactly as you want them. 1 John 5:14-15 "And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him." Note: anything ACCORDING to HIS will. Matthew 26:39 He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Here Jesus is praying according to the will of His Father.

Prayer is a way we can communicate to God, to ask Him for things, Praise Him (So it's another form of worship), adore Him, and another way to show that we love Him, it is also a means of how we confess our sins to Him.

Though you prayed diligently for your parents to get back together, they didn't. Why? I can't answer that question for you. I can only say, for some reason it is God's will that they be apart. You don't know why that is, I don't know why that is, we just have to accept that God has a purpose and a reason for it.

As for the Christians that don't act like "What they believe" as you put, they're HYPOCRITES. Just like the high and lofty pharisees in Jesus' time, he called them "White washed tombs" beautiful on the outside but on the inside they're like a dead corpse. He called them "Brood of vipers". There are many hypocrites in the Church. They rob God of His glory, desiring to sit on their thrones of self-righteousness and look up on the non-believing as disease, and shameful beings. When they should be looking up on them with love, and witnessing to them.

I can see how these two things (and the trauma of having split parents) have led you to be an atheist.

Again, I'm sorry about your Mum and Dad.

-Lissie

PS. When I saw the post Mr. Matt, I was like WOA..my name's up there. Haha. It didn't process at first I was like.."Wha?"

PS.S. @ Zilch "Lucifer is generous?" Oh, I'm sure you have good pay. Pay in being able to live any way you please because "God doesn't exist" and there's no absolute truth right? So we can just make up our own ethics and morale thinking. I'm sure you indulge yourself. I mean you get to live how you please, right? The only downfall to it is the knowledge that we came from apes, but other then that you live an awesome life I'm sure. (*Sarcastic moment with Lissie. Welcome.*)

Cheerio ol' chaps!!

By the way, Mr. Matt..so..like..do you live in England still? (..and I assume you have an accent?) CAN I HAVE YOUR AUTOGRAPH!? (I'm teasing. But I am a fan of British accents :) oh and tea!

ExPatMatt said...

Tilia!

We are privileged to receive a letter from Hell in these parts; welcome.

Thanks for your story and, I have to say, you have my continued envy that you are working in neurobiology - it totally fascinates/confuses me!

Please keep up the dialoging between Anna and Ernst, I enjoy reading their letters very much.

Cheers,

Lissie Darcy said...

Mr. Matt,

(Common' I gotta do school!) :) :) No, really I don't mind. I like going back and forth. You guys are helping me practice my logic, and going about it in a respectful way, so thanks! (Especially to you Mr. Matt because you really make me think :) Which is good. Now, anyone wanna help me on math? Such a dull, tedious subject.)

"Read through my story again and tell me that I was willfully suppressing the truth.

How would I go about getting 'eyes to see'? "

1. I don't need to read through your story again. I just read it. Expatt: You're willfully suppressing the truth.
2. How do you get eyes to see? A change of heart, and change of attitude, a change of mindset. If you really cared to get "eyes to see" then you'd take a look outside your window and examine the sky, the grass, the trees, the wind blowing, etc. And you'd know that all of THIS didn't happen by random chance.

"Your analogy should have you saying there's no designer, not that there's no keyboard, if you want it to work."

Oh..yeah..that was dumb. Sorry. That's my bad. MAN! And it was a pretty good analogy too! (You have to admit to that at least :) though we differ on the presupposition behind the analogy.) I guess you're teaching me to take a rebuke too. :)

"I don't deny that either I or reality exist (analogous to the keyboard/computer), I have ample evidence for that."

I know you don't deny that reality exists. You deny that reality was created, by a Creator.

"Now, ask yourself how you know that computers have designers. Really think about how you know that computers have designers....then tell me if you use the same thought process to determine that the universe was designed."

Ok. Our computer brand is "Dell". Dell is a computer designing company. Where..lemme guess. Ppl. Design. Computers. A computer doesn't just EVOLVE.

We are humans. We are a type of "being(s)" are we not? Are we capable of being by ourselves? I mean in and of ourselves? Just-being. No. You came from your mother and father, who came from their parents, who came from their parents, who came from their parents, AND SO ON AND SO FORTH. SO, what about the first human being? They had to have come from somewhere..they were created. By God.

God is a being. But, he is a being in and of Himself. He is infinite. We were created in His image. Humans don't just evolve. Universes don't just evolve out of no where.

"Humans are apes, by definition. Just as we are mammals. You don't deny that we are mammals, do you?"

1st, you never answered any of the questions I asked. Why don't you live any way you please, or do you?

2. I do not deny that we are mammals. But, just because there are similarities between man and ape are we such fools as to believe they are one and the same?

English breakfast tea, and Chia tea both are teas, and they're both black teas. But, they're totally different when it comes to flavor and the herbs and spices that make up there specific tea. Does that mean that chia is therefore an evolved form of "English Breakfast" tea?

Now I really do need to finish school. If I don't get to replies/posting right away it's because I'm going to be rather busy the next few days. (Prepping for my Grandma to stay w/us, I have anatomy&physiology class tomorrow..and some other things too.) So, don't think I won't keep my word about posting, I will. :)

Thanks Mr. Matt for sharing your story, and for allowing me to debate with you a bit.

Thanks Bath Tub for sharing your story as well.

Thanks Zilch.

Beam Stalk, I have yet to look at your link, but thanks.

Ana Sethe, I didn't see your comment until just now (what's wrong with me!? I keep missing the comments.) so I have yet to read your story. :)

Your bloggin friend,

Lissie Darcy

ExPatMatt said...

Lissie,

Thanks for your response. Now, get back to school! ;)

You must be looking forward to seeing your grandma too, so don't worry about keeping tabs on this wee blog o' mine over the next few days.

I'll answer all of your questions in a little while.

Cheers,

Lissie Darcy said...

Thanks Mr. Matt!! Will do!

Da Bomb said...

Hey Matt, BT etc.

Interesting reading your testimonies of your conversion to atheism.

One point that sticks out to me is the expectation you guys have placed on what happens when you are a christian.

matt, it seems to me that you expected to feel like something had happened. one of the worst things you can do is to base a belief on feelings. How do you think the chinese christians felt when they became christians?

Yes amazing experiences do happen, many testimonies are around, but they don't necessarily happen to everyone when they want it.

BT, I am so sorry to hear about your parents.

God answers prayer but the answer is not always "yes".
I have prayed for my dad to be healed from something for a long time, and yet nothing drastic has happened. Should I give up? I don't think so.

God knows what is best and somemimes we need to get our prayers in line with His will. That is the beauty and apparent pain of freewill.

Thankyou for your honesty guys.

dan

BathTub said...

Yes we all know prayer is 'yes', 'no' 'wait'.

Just like when we pray to anything else. like a jug of milk. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jk6ILZAaAMI

It's pretty condescending to read about us growing up the church then just say 'oh you weren't looking' or 'oh you don't know what prayer is'. Come on.

Lissie Darcy said...

You don't have to get impatient and condescending with me Bath Tub.

BathTub said...

How is my complaining about condescension condescension?

Lissie Darcy said...

Well..I guess I took it as if it was directed at me.

Sorry. It's hard to tell over the internet. But, I have a bad habbit of assuming. Will you forgive me? It was bad discernment on my part.

BathTub said...

lol, of course it was just a strange response.

You need to be careful when questioning someones sincerity.

I mean I don't want to speak for Pat, but the only reason you have to claim that thoughts and prayers weren't sincere and heartfelt is that we don't agree on religion now.

zilch said...

I wish I could take a couple of hours off work to write in this great thread, but my boss is a slavedriver (I'm self-employed) and I do have to earn my veggies. So I will have to be brief.

Matt, you say to Lissie:

I'll answer all of your questions in a little while.

I have to be here for that, because some of her questions were doozies. For instance:

If I came from an ape, if HUMANS came from an ape, then why don't we live any way we please? Why don't we act like animals? Where do laws come from? Do they come solely, from human reasoning?

Matt- if you know detailed answers to all these questions, and evidence for your answers, then you are the smartest person in the world.

That's just my backhanded way of saying to Lissie: we can't answer all your questions fully, because we just don't know all the answers. No one does. But hooray for asking: they are very important questions to think about.

I'll just try to stick to one point for now: your opinion that atheists do not believe because they turn away from God, or don't have eyes to see, or harden their hearts. There are at least two problems with this claim. One: as Matt said, that is simply not the case, at least not for all of us. Speaking for myself: I never had any disappointments in God, unanswered prayers or whatnot, because I never believed in a God. And I never believed in a God because I never saw any evidence for the existence of God, and saw lots of evidence that people make up stories about gods all the time. No denial there, just lack of evidence.

And this is the second problem: accusing unbelievers of closing their hearts to God is an age-old trick, used by many religions throughout the world, and it can be equally well used for any belief. I could say to you, for instance, that you don't believe in unicorns (if you do believe in unicorns, substitute Donald Duck) because you don't have eyes to see, have hardened your heart, and suppress the truth. Why should I believe you if you say you don't suppress the truth, but just don't believe? I know you are just blinded by your will. Do you see the problem here?

More later, on apes and angels. Lissie, you have guts to venture into this lion's den: kudos.

cheers from sunny Vienna, zilch

p.s. if Lucifer tells me once more that "the check is in the mail", I'm complaining to Higher Authority.

Da Bomb said...

BathTub said...

Yes we all know prayer is 'yes', 'no' 'wait'.

I was attempting to help you, I mean well. It just sounded like you had a warped understanding of expectation and prayer, that is it. I learn new things even now about prayer that I had not even considered before.
When it comes to God's will, we can say the Kiwi way: "she'll be alright mate" :) Romans 8:28.

Mind you, God still listens to us as a father listens to the requests of his children.

cheers guys,

Dan

ExPatMatt said...

Zilch - I said I'd answer all her questions and I will. That doesn't mean that the answer won't be 'I don't know' nor does it mean that the answer will be correct, it'll be an answer though.

PS - you should tell your boss to take a vacation...

zilch said...

Matt- fair enough. As long as you don't give the typical Creationist answer of sticking your fingers in your ears and saying "la la la I can't hear you".

ExPatMatt said...

Lissie,

I'm going to do my best to answer all your questions to the best of my abilities.

"If I came from an ape, if HUMANS came from an ape, then why don't we live any way we please?".

If we, individually, lived any way we pleased then the wider community would fail. Without our social ties we are weak and would die out as a species. Cooperation and inter-dependence are survival traits of our (and a number of other) species.

"Why don't we act like animals?".

Some of us do. We certainly have the ability to restrain ourselves form instinctive behaviour - some of the time - but that doesn't mean the instinct isn't there. Your worldview says as much when you talk of man as being in a 'fallen state', no?

"Where do laws come from?" Do they come solely, from human reasoning?".

Yes. Where else would they come from?

"So much so, we rely on our own tainted, human reasoning. Deciding what is right for an individual. How can such an imperfect race even think of basing morality and ethics upon their own thinking, their own standards?".

I ask again, what other standard should we use? If you say 'God's Standard' then you have to trust that whoever is dictating God's Law to you isn't lying, don't you?

"By the way, Mr. Matt..so..like..do you live in England still? (..and I assume you have an accent?)".

I live in Canada, but I still have a very English accent.

"1. I don't need to read through your story again. I just read it. Expatt: You're willfully suppressing the truth".

So the bit where I, in all sincerity, bowed my knees and asked that my sins be forgiven and accepted the truth of God's Word...that was, what?

"2. How do you get eyes to see? A change of heart, and change of attitude, a change of mindset".

Again, I asked the Holy Spirit to work this change in me. In Ray Comfort's own words; "If you ask God to change you, He'll give you a new heart with new desires.."

Well, I asked and nothing happened. That being the case, how could I just randomly decide to change who I am?

"If you really cared to get "eyes to see" then you'd take a look outside your window and examine the sky, the grass, the trees, the wind blowing, etc. And you'd know that all of THIS didn't happen by random chance".

Oh, so because I don't draw the same conclusion as you it must be because I'm not looking right. Is that it?

"Ok. Our computer brand is "Dell". Dell is a computer designing company. Where..lemme guess. Ppl. Design. Computers".

Yep, you're totally right. Man-made objects are made by people and you know this to be true because you have seen things made, you've probably made things yourself and you're familiar with the design process. Cool.
"So, what about the first human being? They had to have come from somewhere..they were created. By God".

Could you point me towards the people-making factory? Is there a manual that explains how to create a person? Do you have any experience of people being created?
If not, how do you know that people were created by God?

"God is a being. But, he is a being in and of Himself. He is infinite. We were created in His image. Humans don't just evolve. Universes don't just evolve out of no where".

How do you know this?

ExPatMatt said...

"I do not deny that we are mammals. But, just because there are similarities between man and ape are we such fools as to believe they are one and the same?".

Mammal is a term to describe any living thing that shares a certain set of characteristics (including fur/hair, mammary glands, single jaw bone and others). All organisms that share these characteristics are mammals.

Similarly, there is a set of characteristics that define an organism as being an 'ape'. All organisms that share these characteristics are apes by definition. We share these characteristics.

We also have a number of traits that make us uniquely human, so I'm not saying that we are one and the same with chimps or gorillas, we are different but belong in the same overall grouping of organisms that is a subset of mammal.

"English breakfast tea, and Chia tea both are teas, and they're both black teas. But, they're totally different when it comes to flavor and the herbs and spices that make up there specific tea. Does that mean that chia is therefore an evolved form of "English Breakfast" tea?".

This is an excellent analogy.

We have English Breakfast Tea and Chia tea, two different 'species' of black tea.

Then we have black tea and green tea, two different 'families' of tea.

Then we have tea and coffee, two different 'orders' of hot beverage.

Then we have the 'kingdom' of beverage (as opposed to food)

This is a good analogy for the structure of life on earth and how things can be categorized according to their nature.

1.Kingdom
2.Order
3.Family
4.Species

1.Drink
2.Hot beverage
3.Tea
4.Chia Tea


Does that make sense?

Now, obviously teas/drinks don't reproduce and evolve like me know organisms do, but the classification process is very similar.


Let me know if this makes sense.

Regards,

Anna Sethe said...

ExPatMatt said...

Tilia!

We are privileged to receive a letter from Hell in these parts; welcome.

Thanks for your story and, I have to say, you have my continued envy that you are working in neurobiology - it totally fascinates/confuses me!


Hey Matt,

I've been lurking for a while :D

Sometimes neurobiology confuses me, too ;), but brains are really fascinating.

Please keep up the dialoging between Anna and Ernst, I enjoy reading their letters very much.

Cheers,


Thanks! As soon as Ernst is back from his field trip, there will be another letter.

ExPatMatt said...

"Matt- fair enough. As long as you don't give the typical Creationist answer of sticking your fingers in your ears and saying "la la la I can't hear you".".

Did someone say something?

;)

ExPatMatt said...

Da Bomb,

"one of the worst things you can do is to base a belief on feelings".

I'd be interested to hear you expand on this.

Cheers,

ExPatMatt said...

Also, Zilch (if you're still around),

I re-read a few of my comments and I fear that I may have come across as being snarky. Please rest assured that that wasn't my intent.

Beer?

Da Bomb said...

ExPatMatt said...

Da Bomb,

"one of the worst things you can do is to base a belief on feelings".

I'd be interested to hear you expand on this.

Cheers,


Christianity isn't all about nice supernatural feelings. That is simply the point I am making.

zilch said...

Matt- no fear. Snark is as snark does. Beer is optional.

DaBomb say:

Christianity isn't all about nice supernatural feelings.

That's true: heaven is about nice supernatural feelings, and hell is about not nice supernatural feelings. I'm glad we have common ground here.

Word ver: "demingle". Shucks- just when I was trying to mingle.

Da Bomb said...

That's true: heaven is about nice supernatural feelings, and hell is about not nice supernatural feelings. I'm glad we have common ground here.

??

Since when were they supernatural feelings?

We will have a new earth...we won't be up high in the sky wearing white nighties playing harps and singing hymns a million times over without ceasing.

But we will experience God closer :)

LOL

Revelation 21:
"1 ¶ Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.
2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God."

zilch said...

Da Bomb: Heaven and hell must be supernatural places. Or do you have any evidence for their existence in the natural world? Hint: if you call the stories in Bible part of the "natural world", then I get to use Harry Potter.

Da Bomb said...

zilch said...

Da Bomb: Heaven and hell must be supernatural places. Or do you have any evidence for their existence in the natural world? Hint: if you call the stories in Bible part of the "natural world", then I get to use Harry Potter.


I have never been to America. It is something that I imagine in my own head.
But I know it is real.
When I go there, I will not have to imagine it in my head. Just because I have never been there yet, it does not make it not-real.

zilch said...

I have never been to New Zealand either; but I have very good reasons for believing that it exists in the material world: I know people who live there, I've seen photos, I've seen maps, etc. And its existence is plausible: there are no magical claims about it (except perhaps for the number of sheep supposedly living there), so I have no good reason to doubt all the evidence that New Zealand is a real place.

Not so for Heaven or Hell: I don't know anyone who lives there, I've seen no photos or maps, there are no scheduled flights there. And there are all kinds of magical claims about these alleged places: for instance, that people somehow go there when they die and stay there for eternity, even though there is no evidence whatsoever for this, other than some stories written by people who believed in talking snakes. Why should I believe stuff like this?

ExPatMatt said...

I've never been to the forest moon of Endor... but that doesn't make it not-real.


Seriously Da Bomb, are you honestly trying to say that heaven/hell are comparable to a nation on earth that you haven't been to yet, despite the (obvious) differences that Zilch described?

Can you provide any evidence of the existence of either (in the same way that I could provide evidence of, say, the existence of Madagascar)?

Cheers,

Da Bomb said...

Hey ya Matt,

Seriously Da Bomb, are you honestly trying to say that heaven/hell are comparable to a nation on earth that you haven't been to yet, despite the (obvious) differences that Zilch described?

I believe in America as a country.
I believe in heaven and hell.

There is more evidence for America being real and when I weigh the evidence I take the most logical conclusion that it is a real place.

There is evidence for heaven and hell, but not as much (of the same type) as what there is for America, however I still believe they are a real place.

Concerning both places, I never been to either. But because I have not been there does not mean it is not real...that is my point.

Zilch was saying that it was not real and was a fictional imaginary place (like Harry Potter). That's fine, it is his opinion.

Just because we have not been there yet does not mean it is not natural.

zilch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
zilch said...

There is evidence for heaven and hell, but not as much (of the same type) as what there is for America, however I still believe they are a real place.

Da Bomb: what is the evidence for the existence of Heaven and Hell? I don't know of any outside of stories people tell, and as you know, people tell all kinds of stories.

Of course I can't prove that Heaven and Hell are not real places, but nor can you prove that, say, Mordor does not exist. Or if that's too obviously fictional for you, you can substitute the Elysian Fields or some other place many people believed or believe in.

I suspect you can see why I don't believe in Heaven or Hell: an old story is not enough evidence for belief, in my opinion.

cheers from balmy Vienna, zilch

bassicallymike said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences!

After seeing BT's comment on the yes, no, wait results being the same as if you were praying to a jug of milk, I had to respond with my own story.

My mother died of pancreatic cancer in 1994 after a 18 month battle. (quietly at home, not in the hospital hooked up to life support, Matt) In those 18 months I prayed for my mother and the prayer evolved over the months. At first, I asked God "to heal her of the cancer". When that did not seem to be part of His plan, my prayer changed to, "keep her free from pain". Despite, morphine patches and hospice care, she was in much pain and discomfort during the last few months of her existence. In those final months my prayer to God was, "Take her home, Lord". Which He did in His time, not mine.

So what was the difference in praying to God and the jug of milk in all of this? At each stage, of my evolving prayer, I received a peace that I could never have received by praying to a jug of milk, trust me!

One of the benefits of getting older is being able to look back on my life and see God's comfort and mercy meted out in times of trouble. I have confidence that no matter what my future holds, be it cancer, pain, loss of loved ones, or my own demise, God's grace will see me through.
A confidence that could never come from a jug of milk.

Lissie Darcy said...

@ BassicallyMike

THANKS FOR SHARING YOUR STORY, BROTHER! YAY! Another Christian friend!

ExPatMatt said...

Da Bomb,


You have been asked several times for evidence of the existence of Heaven/Hell......

Cheers,

londonlad said...

Matt

I do not know how you have the patience to plough through some of this ego-centric drivel - esp. from those quick to pathologise your own experiences while (I'm sure someone as perspicacious as yourself will have noted) at the same time trumpeting their own 'success' (and of course 'acceptance') in the God-lark. What many of those commenting above are really saying is ‘The way I look at things and the way I understand things is the correct way; yours is not!’ Despite the fact (in my case) I was a practicing Christian for twice one of the above’s lifespan! As I noted in a recent comment on your blog:

“For my own part, I am more than willing to say that Christianity, Islam, Hinduism etc. may contain certain truths; truths that cannot be scientifically measured, or measured from within a positivist paradigm. I am confident in my assertion that science itself is not without its flaws and limits; its motives are not altruistic and it is not able to explain all aspects of human life.”

But many of our Christian friends do not have the humility to say that there are problems with both religious belief and The Bible – indeed in the case of several of the above I am amazed at the sheer arrogance of their comments, especially given your own candid retelling of your ‘faith’ (or lack of same) experiences.

I know this is something I do harp on about, but my conclusion after a decade or so as an Evangelical Christian, a further two decades or so in more middle of the road churches and as a doctoral student of theology and religious studies is that I do not deny there may be a god(s); nor that humans can be spiritual creatures; or that there may indeed be life after death (though there is no evidence for this); however the vehicles of many of these beliefs – AKA religion – is often the abode of the narcissistic and conceited. Oh I know some don’t come across as such and (alas) many wouldn’t consider themselves as such, but in the words of Emily Bronte:

‘We must be for ourselves in the long run – the mild and generous are only more justly selfish than the domineering...’

After reading many of the above responses... QED