I myself come from an extremely devout conservative family. I was raised as a Catholic and became "born again" during a Summer Vacation Bible camp when I was in the sixth grade. I made all the sacraments, went to CCD (like Bible study classes), attended Christian Conferences and week long camps, and even went to a Private Catholic College. My husband went into the military shortly after we married and I think that was the beginning of my de-conversion.  I attended LSU and lived all over the deep South.  This really opened up my eyes to a world very different from where I grew up. I began questioning after attempting to find a church that "fit" us.  Listening to pastors talk about beating their kids, using Bible quotes to condone it, and then sitting through masses about tithing and speaking in tongues, I started to see how crazy religion was. I guess I identified as non-denominational for a while because I didnt want to have anything to do with man made religion. Then it was watching documentaries and specials on Jesus and I started questioning the Bible and whether or not he could have existed and raised the dead, and walked on water, turned water to wine, etc....My conclusion upon getting my degree in Science Psychology was no he couldnt have, those things are improbable.  If that was my conclusion then every other "story" in the Bible was improbable and where did that leave me?

My de-conversion was a process and progress if you ask me. I didnt just wake up one day and say "I think I'll be an atheist". I was a long sometimes painful process that led me here. I could never "go back" EVER, too many things about this world and Universe point to happen stance, probability, and accident. We are Serendipitous, the outcome of a happy accident. I'm fine with that, I'm happy with that! I no longer need a man in the sky subconsciously re affirming my every choice and "making" me feel guilty when I make a poor decision. My brain is far evolved from the mythology and going back is no longer an option.

The repercussions from my de-conversion have been slight. My Mom cried when she found out and told me I was going to Hell, now she just tries to get me to listen to Christian radio stations and referred to my recent raise and promotion as an "answer to her prayers". I deal with the religious rhetoric because she is family. I now look back often, especially when she looks at something purely scientific and attributes it to God, and wonder how I could have ever believed such nonsense. 

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@Heather - he said 2 years - how old is the video?

About 9 months.  The timeline isn't so much what interests me as the concept of 'evolving matter'.  I've pondered it a lot, thinking about self-organizing systems like crystals, and some oscillating chemical reactions.  Ultimately it is likely more a matter of geometry than anything else - in terms of the 'lego blocks'.

What's REALLY fascinating, is that we know SO much about the Universe, and the possibility, if not the likelihood, of other universes, yet scarce a hundred years ago, when Einstein first postulated his General Theory, we had no evidence that there was any other galaxy in the entire universe, than our own.

Makes me wish I had another hundred years --

Yeah, when you think that Einstein spent over half his life thinking the Milky Way was the cosmos - it really makes you wonder how much more there is to come and how fast.

I really think Ed Witten is the next superstar of theoretical physics - but no one seems to know who he is.

Fascinating that he has mentally managed to span a gap that Einstein found incomprehensible - that between the macro and the micro. Witten's work ranges from the quantum field to that of supersymmetry.

Why does our existence have to be from a who....why cant people just be content with a how?

It doesn't make much sense does it! I'm glad I don't have to swallow something like that!

First, Leibniz distinguished between two kinds of being: necessary and contingent.

A necessary being cannot not be. It exists necessarily. Many philosophers think things like numbers and the laws of logic exist in this way.

A contingent being can not be. It is not necessary that it exists and it is dependent upon other antecedent factors (if my parents had not met I would not be. I am therefore a contingent being).

Anselm (and Leibniz) said that if God exists, God exists necessarily. God would be the "greatest conceivable being". God is ontologically ultimate and therefore independent, eternal, unchanging in nature, etc. By definition, if you could think of a greater being than "God", then that would be God!

Theists and atheists both agree that there must be something eternal and necessary. But it certainly isn't the time/space universe. As Vilenkin points out, even given a multi-verse, a beginning is still required. It only puts the issue back a step.

Therefore, since something cannot come from nothing uncaused, and the time/space/material universe had a beginning, whatever caused it must be timeless, spaceless, and immaterial. Further, given the immensity of the universe, it must be powerful.

As Dr. Craig points out, there are only two kinds of things that fit that description (timeless, spaceless, and immaterial)): abstract objects (like numbers) and an unembodied mind.

But abstract objects don't stand in causal relations, i.e. the number "7" cannot cause anything. Therefore, something of the order of Mind is more plausible.

Finally, God wasn't "twiddling his thumbs" for an eternity and then decided to create. Being timeless would not require God's having to endure sequential moments. God would be the logical cause of the universe, but not the chronological cause. And upon that cause, things begin to change, and that begins time.

Any discussion so far?

Yes, yes, Leibniz developed all sorts of wonderful philosophical concepts - but he lived in a world that didn't know electricity, bacteria, special relativity, chemistry, atoms - and let's not even get into M-theory or quantum mechanics.

He was obviously brilliant, but working without the benefit of a world of knowledge we have today - just like those pesky bible authors who thought a bat was a bird.  

Anyway, he left us with some wonderful rhetorical constructs but nothing on which you base your life - oh, wait, you have, LOL.

@Harris - I've also pointed out that markwars come into being uncaused.  You keep dodging that.  You also know that I haven't agreed that there must be something eternal - you are just trying to dodge me here and put forward the same fallacious rhetoric that got slammed out of the park yesterday. When are you going to get a new game?

RE: "Any discussion so far?"

Of course not - who could possibly disagree with the concept of an unembodied mind? There were times when Timothy Leary reported just such a phenomenon.

Theists and atheists both agree that there must be something eternal and necessary.

I neither agree nor disagree.  While it seems intuitively correct, it also seems quite difficult to justify.  We exist now, and we can track a chain of events back a considerable distance through time with remarkable insight; however, we have to recognize the limits of our own perspective.  There's nothing wrong with speculation, but to make such firm declarations is too far reaching.

Therefore, since something cannot come from nothing uncaused...

Based on what?  There are considerable complications in observing nothing in its absolute sense, so what is this statement based on? 

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