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.
I've seen that - it's incredible! I'll answer your question in a way that theists seem unable to - I don't know.
My atheist story goes back to the early 80's.. I was about 11-12. About that time I was interested in things like dinosaurs, Greek/Roman myth, vampires, Loch Ness Monster, Big Foot, UFOs, and even evolution. During that same period, my younger brother and I were going to church and church events (Boys Brigade - think Boy Scouts) with one of the local neighbor families( Mom, Dad and three boys). They were essentially born-again. Took the Bible literally. Now, the old child of that family and I would hit the library from time to time. I'd sign out science fiction and other books which related back to the aforementioned genres. After a couple summer's worth reading material like that I began to see that the stories in the Bible weren't much different then the other myths I was reading about. So I'd ask the mom of the neighbor family questions about what I was reading. stuff like cloning and even evolution in relation to creation. For example, I asked her straight-out once " isn't it possible God might be guiding evolution in order for us to be who were currently are?" She said no, and that fossils were put in the ground by the devil to test our faith. Even at my young age, I knew that didn't make sense. After all, didn't the Devil have better things to do like start wars and such?
That was the beginning of my reasoning that God was nothing more then man's explanation for things he didn't understand... Really no different then the Greek/Roman myths I was reading about.
Since I didn't push the subject or really talk about it with people I knew.. it took me a long time to understand the difference between agnostic and atheist. Sure, I'd get asked from time to time just what I believed.. and I'd say--- Which is the one that doesn't believe in God? Atheist or agnostic? That's what I am.. And that would be the end of the conversation.. In High school, I was friends with three girls who believed in Jesus/God.. I kept my mouth shut and tried to be tolerant of their views. I thought it was cool they'd remember my birthday and get me cards, but I'd have to roll my eyes when I saw the "Love in Christ, " right above their names... I considered them good friends despite that. And outside of the cards and maybe something in passing here and there. They didn't push it either. I will admit, that 2 of the girls (who were best friends) I would have considered dating at one point--- until I found out just how devote they were. I think one of the few times a guy has put girls he was attracted to in the 'friend zone'.. LOL
But anyway, it wasn't until recently that I've fully embraced atheism. Soon after I stumbled across this site. T.A. has helped to expand my knowledge base of information.
Kara, you said:
"Why does our existence have to be from a who....why cant people just be content with a how?"
I suggest that one does not have to assume that our existence came from a "who" (personal being). I think one can arrive at that by doing a conceptual analysis of what attributes the cause of the universe would have.
Based on some of the things I've written on this site, I think it makes more sense that the cause was something of the order of Mind rather than of the order of Matter. The latter is apparently contingent (dependent) on something else, and all matter came into existence a finite time ago.
But we can also discover the "how" as we go! Swinburne, the Oxford philosopher, says there are two ways to describe any explanation: a personal explanation and a scientific explanation.
For example: If you came into my kitchen and asked, "Why is the kettle boiling?" I could reply something like, "the heat from the fire is transmitting into the metal of the kettle and heating the water molecules until they are thrown off as steam, etc."
Or, I could say, "I put it on to make some tea!" Both are legitimate answers to the same question.
Why are we so bothered that the ultimate reality may be personal; a Mind? Especially if there are better reasons for believing that?
Well matter can never be destroyed, only transformed. Maybe there-in lies the answer......I mean who knows maybe the universe have been being recycled forever. Perhaps we are one universe of a thousand preceding it.
Keep in mind the matter that is currently in existence is neither being created nor destroyed (First Law of Thermodynamics). But that says nothing about whether matter came into being or is eternal etc.
Kevin Kevin Kevin - The first law of Thermodynamics deals with a closed system and the energy in it. We do not know that the cosmos in which we reside is a closed system.
Okay. So the matter in this closed system is neither being created nor destroyed. That doesn't mean the matter in this closed system is eternal.
And if the universe is an open system, based on a conceptual analysis, what is beyond it, i.e. to what is it open (again based on a conceptual analysis)?
Matter is created and destroyed all the time - E = MC2
Of course the sum of matter & energy, adjusted by the above conversion, in a closed system remains constant - but that really falls right outside thermodynamics altogether now, doesn't it.
What would be beyond this cosmos seems to be a super-cosmos filled with a lot of comsi like, and many very different from, ours.
I think you're rightly pointing out that nothing in E = MC2 disputes the First Law.
And the Multiverse is pure speculation at this point. As well, even upon it's existence, it only puts the second premise of the Kalam back a step.
The multiverse certainly is not 'pure speculation' - to say so only reveals your complete ignorance of all the hard work of our world's physicists.
The dominant model of the multiverse at this point reveals 11 dimensions decoupled from our own chain of cause-effect. It doesn't put your fallacious premise of Kalam back a step - it utterly destroys it. Checkmate, theist.
Hello Kevin Harris. Welcome back. Is it down to conceptual analysis that you are still a Theist? A year later and I have still found no sign of your god. Yes, the same old arguments are there but no evidence. A mind that is infinite creates matter that is finite ergo Yahweh?
The Kalam combined with a conceptual analysis does not lead one directly to the God of the Bible but merely a more generic notion of God. Other arguments are needed to establish the God of Christian Theism.