The Atheist Delusion: A Study in Illogics

Photo portrait of Richard Dawkins (2010), the self-avowed atheist, at Cooper Union in New York City.
Photo portrait of Richard Dawkins (2010), the self-avowed atheist, at Cooper Union in New York City. | Source

I've never met Richard Dawkins. A rumor has been going around for several years that someone by that name wrote a bestseller called, The God Delusion (Bantam Press, 2006). I know for a fact that Richard Dawkins does not exist.

Now, that fact is entirely illogical. It is an argument to ignorance—a logical fallacy. The fact that I currently have no proof of his existence, does not disprove his existence. Welcome to Logic 101. Oh, is that a picture of Mr. Dawkins at the top of this article? Perhaps there is some proof, after all. And no, this is not a book review on the 2007 work by Alister and Joanna McGrath (The Dawkins Delusion, IVP Books, 2007).

The elusive character named Dawkins seems super smart. He has observed a great deal of illogic coming from the super religious. Like any over-the-top fiction, the hero (in this case, super logic) is pitted against its mortal enemy (in our story the super believer). Dawkins is skeptical of their outlandish claims, and for good reason. They live in a small universe with a small God. His trusty mentor (science) has shown the universe to be old and large. But where is God in all this? Dawkins remains ardently skeptical of invisible, supernatural beings.

Regrettably, there are at least two kinds of skepticism. There is the more professional scientific restraint, and then there is the decidedly unprofessional, self-indulgent ridicule. It seems Mr. Dawkins and a few other scientists have chosen to use both forms of skepticism. Could it be arrogance that is blinding them to their use of something so unscientific?

While it is true that some Christians have delusional ideas about the universe, Mr. Dawkins generalizes his view of the entire religion, blaming the lot of them for a host of social ills. Some of the super religious blame atheists for the same list of problems. Who is right? Could it be that neither side is right? Could it be that something else is escalating this division into a full-scale war? Who or what could be doing this?

Skepticism's self-indulgent form frequently uses a logical fallacy called, ad hominem. This is a personal attack, which is neither professional nor scientific. An attack can be explicit or implied, but it remains a distraction from the issues at hand, rather than a dispassionate review of the issues. It seems that both sides of the religious divide use this form of skepticism.

When scientists as a whole swear off of such unprofessionalism, the all-inclusive field of science will have grown a bit more mature. I look forward to that. Individual scientists may choose to remain in the dark ages, deluded by their confusion over these two forms of skepticism, but civilization will have moved beyond the darker portion of the modern age of reason. Let us be clear—scientific restraint is not self-indulgent ridicule. These are opposites which sometimes pose as twin siblings under the umbrella term "skepticism." Regrettably, some cannot tell these so-called "twins" apart.

Painting of the Last Crusader coming home. Was the violence of the Crusades justified?
Painting of the Last Crusader coming home. Was the violence of the Crusades justified? | Source

Religion, Violence, Ego and Humility

Dawkins makes a point of showing religion to be evil and a source of violence. As the McGrath's point out, atheists have been a source of great evil and violence, too. In fact, Dawkins' approach borders on the violent—verbally, at least. Atheist states such as Soviet Russia, Red China and Pol Pot's Cambodia have proven quite deadly to millions of individuals. To be fair, of course, the Catholic church has a few skeletons in its closet, too.

As an advocate of militant atheism, could Dawkins be attacking the wrong target? Say you get a flat tire. That is no cause for you to pull out your shotgun and shoot your dog in the passenger seat. Wrong target!

It seems the war against all religious folk has started. Dawkins said in a 2002 conference, "Let's all stop being so damned respectful." When the Dawkins bulldozers roll, will it wipe out the good with the bad? This reminds me of Hitler's hate of Jewish bankers. Not all of the women and children murdered in the ovens of Nazi concentration camps were destined to have become bankers. Perhaps only a scant few had that potential. And are all bankers bad? Are stereotypes bad?

Certainly, there are many of the religious who are crazy, militant and arrogant. Some are even dangerous. But does this make religion as a whole the culprit? And even if some institutions condone backward, unintelligent incursions into politics and science, does that condemn all religious institutions? Does it condemn all religious individuals?

There is an old saw that money is the root of all evil, and that's not it at all. Money is simply a tool. Human greed? Now, that is a different story. It is too easy for anyone to generalize inappropriately. Someone stole money and then lived a life full of evil; therefore money is the root of all evil. Hmmm-m-m! Sounds like an illogical delusion, to me. All the good people continued to use money without becoming evil, right? And contrary to the beliefs of both the religious and the secularists, the real evil is neither religion nor science. It is in the ego or selfishness. That which lives inside us is what is important, here. Objects and institutions are no more evil than the ground on which one walks. It is what humans do with their resources that can be good or evil. It is the intention behind their actions that can be judged good or bad.

Mr. Dawkins seems to let his ego get in the way of the quest for truth—though he seems moderately well equipped to investigate the relative truths which remain the products of science. And what happened to the skeptical restraint of a scientist? He may get things right in science, but is he using the same acumen with religion? It does not look like it. If I understand the tenets of science, a scientist needs to display more of a controlled attitude—what might more typically be called "selfless restraint"—rather than a dogmatic one (or worse, self-indulgent ridicule).

When one talks of the "laws" of science, one tends to become more rigid and dogmatic. That seems an unavoidable human trait. It seems one does not question "laws." Yet, the "laws" of Newton, for instance, were not 100% accurate. Einstein's Relativity proved that. And the search for truth (relative and otherwise) did not end with Einstein.

I have read the harangues of both the super religious and the super secularists (both sides are skeptical). Many on either side treat the issue as an "either-or" proposition, but it is not. The answers are not either science or religion. There is some truth to be found in both.

Humility and a sense of wonder go a long way in the quest of a scientist. It seems Mr. Dawkins has forgotten his place. His "holier than thou" attitude not only rubs many people the wrong way, but it also has adverse effects on him, as well. Fixed ideas of any kind are, in effect, blinders that prevent one viewing the possibilities. Self-imposed blinders are not good for anyone, including a scientist.

In the world of scientific breakthroughs, James Gleick wrote in his bestseller, Chaos: Making a New Science, "Shallow ideas can be assimilated; ideas that require people to reorganize their picture of the world provoke hostility." Scientists are not immune to this kind of childish behavior.

Not long ago, NASA scientists wrote about a microbe which thrives in an arsenic-laced environment. Scientists from all over seemed outraged even before a thorough study. Why the attitude? So many were busy pointing their skepticism cannons at others, but not at themselves. One action is arrogance; the other is humility.

So, where does God fit into all of this? Does He exist? Did He ever exist? Or did the deists get it right suggesting that God created the universe and then went on vacation? And it seems the "Dawkins" book suggests the deist's viewpoint as a possibility. This is, after all, God's day of rest—the last 13.7 billion years of it. Isn't it?

Jesus and the disciples on the Sea of Galilee. Walking on water is something no atheist could ever do.
Jesus and the disciples on the Sea of Galilee. Walking on water is something no atheist could ever do. | Source

Here There Be Miracles

The existence of miracles implies something that transcends physical law. Physical, human bodies should, arguably, follow the laws of nature. Material objects, like Homo sapiens bodies, cannot break the laws of physical reality. These are "laws" that exist in nature, not "laws" formulated by humans to explain nature. These are the "laws" science is ever trying to discover. If Man is only a physical being, then yes, miracles would seem to be an impossibility. So, why have we had miracles?

Dawkins and other hardened skeptics do not believe in such supernatural claptrap. For them, it would seem, those "miracles" never happened or were misrepresented events—like the belief that Jesus walked on ice, instead of water, or the idea that Moses waded through a shallow swamp rather than parting the sea.

I for one have experienced the creation of several miracles—more than a dozen of them. The most startling of these involved more than two thousand automobiles and their drivers. On one of the busiest streets in Los Angeles—Wilshire Boulevard—traffic parted during rush hour for me like Moses supposedly parted the sea. More than two miles of center lane in front of me were devoid of cars, while the lanes left and right remained even more thick with snarling traffic. For four minutes, that lane remained empty ahead of me as I ran that gauntlet.

An unrestrained skeptic might say that coincidence was what ruled such an observation. (Notice here that jumping to a conclusion without having all the facts is not the act of a true scientist; a scientist would use restraint, would investigate, then arrive at a conclusion, if they felt they had all of the facts.) The self-indulgent skeptic might say that cause and effect had nothing to do with this so-called "miracle." But notice their conclusion before any investigation. Let us investigate this idea of coincidence versus creation.

One atheist, in a discussion online, brought up the obvious possibilities that the reporter of such miracles could be lying or delusional. When asked how they could be sure the things in their own life were not delusion, they were puzzled why I would ask such a thing. They did not stay around long enough for me to connect the dots. I found it intriguing that this atheist would admit to the possibility of miracles, but that it would take something persistent, like videotape for the evening news, to make the event objective instead of subjective. And what a curious sense of what is objective. Does this mean that there were no objective observations before videotape?

One oft-repeated philosophical question asks, "if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" Well, of course it does. Both sights and sounds are created with or without an observer. The laws of reality do not stop merely because there is no videotape to record them. And just because there is a very specific miracle which temporarily suspends some of those laws, does not automatically mean that all laws, everywhere are suddenly suspended, as one atheist seemed to imply. Such a scary event would prove not to be a miracle, but chaos!

This second atheist suggested, too, that a miracle would not be observable, because the laws of nature which govern sight would no longer work. Again, chaos! Not a miracle.

The attitude of this second atheist reminds me of a science fiction short story I read years ago. In it a scientist had stumbled onto a formula which suddenly gave him the power to transport anywhere in the universe just by thinking about it. In terror, the scientist found himself being whisked to one place or another, as he thought about them. The one great terror was that he would think of one very dangerous place before he had a chance to finish his formula and allow for control over this new gift. The one place of which he dared not think proved to be the core of the sun.

And this raises the question that if anyone were to have the power to create a miracle, wouldn't that person also have the power to create all manner of chaos? Vaporize their own body by teleporting it into the core of the sun? Or vaporize Earth by teleporting stellar core material onto our world? When one fears something, like these potential tragedies, then ego takes over. Ego is vulnerable and fearful. The source of miracles is not. If a fearful thought happens to cross one's mind, the whim will not automatically gain access to the power which had previously created a miracle. Typing a fearful possibility onto your computer monitor does not create that disaster. Ego conjuring that possibility is just as likely to create that disaster. Both the computer monitor and ego have no ability to create such things. Both of these physical constructs must obey physical law.

My "hit-and-run" debating friend said, "Your 'belief' evidence is subjective, regardless of how much you want ot [sic] make it sound objective. Even if it happened, the event only happened because it was observed to occur - and then an opinion was formed as to what the event meant. That makes it all subjective - observer dependent."

They went on to say, "My life is no different regardless of the reality or delusional nature of this Wilshire event. However, if you do something concrete and permanent - regrow the arm of an amputee - well, now my life is different. It means that the very idea of nature has been changed."

Curious, indeed. Regrowing an amputated arm or videotaping a miracle on Wilshire Boulevard would change "the very idea of nature," but without videotape, the event is meaningless and subjective. And yet, there were more than 2000 witnesses to the Miracle on Wilshire Boulevard.

This atheist's meaning of "objective" and "subjective" seem a bit skewed. One website defined subjective as, "private 'mental' stuff: sensations, beliefs, feelings, emotions, opinions, etc." It also defined objective as, "public 'physical' stuff: publicly-observable things, events, knowledge, facts." Of course, one can objectify the subjective. For instance, one can observe that someone is fearful by the expression on their face, or by noting the words they speak. And one an subjectify the objective. For instance, one can form an opinion about a physical, objective event.

Map of the Roman Province, Hispania, showing the location of Caesaraugusta, now known as Zaragosa, which is the same name with a different spelling.
Map of the Roman Province, Hispania, showing the location of Caesaraugusta, now known as Zaragosa, which is the same name with a different spelling. | Source

Admittedly, it is hard to remain dispassionate about this event. It was the most blissful event of my life. Naturally, we need to be careful about such strong emotion. Eleventh century Jewish mystic, Bayha ben Joseph Ibn Paquda said that bliss not grounded in reality is not bliss but delusion. He was a judge in the rabbinical court at Saragossa (Caesaraugusta), Spain. His point is well taken. We cannot ignore reality, even in something like faith or bliss. But let us take the bliss out of the event and look at it objectively.

One moment, this observer was feeling a great deal of frustration over the slowness and thickness of traffic. Adding to this frustration, the previous two blocks of Wilshire had seen six unsafe lane changes by other drivers that required quick brake action on my part to avoid collision. The next moment, a thought crossed my mind that I had been responsible for the six incursions. By my focus on frustration, I had invited those other drivers to add to my frustration, fueling an escalation in my emotion.

Miracle Mile section of Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, where a miracle occurred in 1977.
Miracle Mile section of Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, where a miracle occurred in 1977. | Source

I want to clarify something. My thoughts here do not prove anything. I am merely relating the sequence of events as they unfolded—thoughts and feelings included. I am attempting to treat these subjective elements objectively.

The next moment, I felt completely at ease. Frustration had disappeared. I no longer viewed the other drivers as adversaries. I felt an extreme humility and reverence for those other drivers. I no longer thought in terms of me versus them.

Over the next 15–20 seconds, I reviewed earlier, similar events of apparent miracles I had performed. I thought about the mechanics of creation. I considered that 100% confidence (faith) was required. I considered the possibility that all one needs to do is picture the desired end result, and then to let go of that picture with the confidence that it is already done.

Those who have attended motivational seminars might recognize in this last sentence, the well-worn pattern of goal setting—stating one's goals as if they have already been accomplished. Why do smart businesspersons use such a technique? Could it be that it actually works?

I also considered as fact that I had used this method of creation and manifestation in escalating my frustration moments before.

I then pictured the idea that my mechanics of creation took a mental image—like the "word" in Genesis. Those mechanics took this image as an instantaneity possessing no time dimension, and then rotated it into the time stream to give it persistence by my "allowing" it or "letting it go." I saw this "release" of the timeless creation into the time stream as, in effect, the creator's "day of rest." And, it seemed to me, we are all creators, created in God's image.

At the end of this sequence of thoughts, I wanted to test my hypothesis. I created the picture in my mind of wide open spaces and smooth sailing all the way to my destination. In the next moment, the car directly in front of me moved into the already crowded lane to the left. Within five seconds, there were no cars directly in front of me for as far as I could see—over two miles of empty center lane.

Cloud chamber showing streaks coincident with cosmic rays and particles from radioactive decay. The horizontal streak near the top is only a reflection.
Cloud chamber showing streaks coincident with cosmic rays and particles from radioactive decay. The horizontal streak near the top is only a reflection. | Source

Two Kinds of Coincidence

Okay, let us define our terms. Scientists use "coincidence" all the time. When they perform an experiment several times and get the same result, the observed effect "coincides" with the determined cause. When a scientist views strange tracks in a cloud chamber, they know now that these are signs of radiation. These tracks are methods of "viewing" the unviewable. And an important tool for nuclear physics was born.

Are there two kinds of "coincidence?" It seems so. There is the benign, matter-of-fact, coincidence that a scientist uses in the laboratory, and there is the pejorative use of the term to refer to the delusion someone might have that one event is related to another simply because they happened at the same time or that one followed the other in sequence.

How do we tell the difference between these two kinds of "coincidence?" One is cause and effect; and the other is accidental.

How many so-called "accidents" does it take before one considers the possibility that cause and effect are involved? Ten, a hundred, a thousand, or millions?

If several trillion gas molecules suddenly vacated a sphere of space, creating a vacuum several inches across that persisted for several minutes, one would be foolish to think that the pattern was the result of accident. The apparently random motion of gas molecules would prevent such an anomaly from occurring merely by chance.

One car moving out of my way after my thought of wide open spaces would certainly seem to be an accidental coincidence. Even three or four cars could reasonably fit under the banner of "accident."

Key Bridge (Francis Scott Key Bridge), a six-lane reinforced concrete arch bridge connecting Arlington County, Virginia with the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC.
Key Bridge (Francis Scott Key Bridge), a six-lane reinforced concrete arch bridge connecting Arlington County, Virginia with the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC. | Source

When I was twelve, my family moved from West Texas to the D.C. area. Upon reaching Key Bridge to cross into the nation's capital, traffic did something entirely wonderful. At full speed, cars in relatively thick traffic were merging from two different lanes—first one car from one lane, then another car from the other. Each lane received equal time in the merge.

I had never before seen such a thing, and have not seen such since. The density of traffic at that time was conducive to this lock-step rhythm, so that dozens of cars smoothly repeated this apparent anomaly. Miracle? I didn't think so, at the time. Participation by each of those drivers was somehow self-serving. It was an amusing set of coincidences or accidents of circumstance. Any one driver hesitating would throw off the rhythm and destroy the pattern of motion. But I saw nothing supernatural, that day. Yet, even then, I had my doubts that it had been entirely accidental. Our arrival that day on my father's spiritual quest from West Texas seemed special. And perhaps it was.

On Wilshire Boulevard, I had not only roughly two thousand cars participating in my silent request, but I had their cooperation over an extended period of time—long enough for me to speed up and traverse the two miles past the former wall of traffic.

Each car that moved out of the way was a coincidence with my creation. Also, each car that did not move into the center lane was another coincidence. But like the statistically random motion of air molecules, the drivers could have, at any moment, randomly decided to enter the center lane in front of me. And traffic is not random, but deterministic.

Heavy traffic slowed to a crawl on a parkway.
Heavy traffic slowed to a crawl on a parkway. | Source

Driver-Decision-Moments of Coincidence

Using past experience with drivers in traffic, a large percentage of them typically would not let an empty lane remain empty for long. Yet, this time, they did. What was going on? What motivation did they have to allow the lane to remain vacated for so long? There were no emergency sirens blaring. There was no mortal "law" compelling them to evacuate the center lane. And yet they did so for an extended period—long enough to establish an extremely atypical situation for rush hour traffic.

We have the "decision moments" of each driver to consider. Each moment they decided to remain in their already crowded lanes is an additional coincidence. How long is a decision moment? Any figure would be largely arbitrary, but let us use a modest figure for discussion's sake. Let us say that each second that a driver does not decide to change lanes and take advantage of the one empty center lane is a coincidence.

At thirty miles per hour, I could traverse two miles of Wilshire in four minutes. At the end of that two miles, I have zero cars that could threaten to block my escape. At the start, I have two thousand cars with the potential to enter the center lane. The average is one thousand cars over the four minutes of travel. Four minutes is 240 seconds, and 240 times 1000 yields 240,000 driver-decision-moment coincidences.

Statistically, I would say we have a miracle, there—or an example of "mind over matter," or creation-persistering (where "persister" is the act of making a creation, or instantaneity, persist).

I cannot be proud of this miracle on Wilshire Boulevard. Pride in this matter is ego taking credit for something it did not do. The ego-self and the true, immortal self are as different as night and day.

Such a miracle does not prove God, directly, but it implies the possibility of God. No purely physical being could bend, break or circumvent the laws of nature. It seems to me that only a spiritual source of creation could do such a thing.

This miracle seems to have been a creation of the "child of God," within. No physical object—no Homo sapiens body, or reality-bound ego—could create such an effect in this manner.

Only later did I realize that any doubt would have fouled the experiment. It seems that 99.999999% confidence is as good as zero confidence (or faith) in the discontinuous realm of creation and spirit. Perhaps you have heard of the biblical story of Peter, when he stepped out of the boat to meet his teacher on the storm-tossed Sea of Galilee. His doubt ruined his miraculous contravention of physical law, and he started to sink. But for a moment, he had done it—walked on water—until he was distracted by fear and began to doubt his ability.

Doubt sometimes is not an easy thing to live with. Certainty in one's doubt can, at times, be characterized as obliviousness. This is when evidence is there, but one chooses not to look. Some declare that it did not happen unless there was videotape. Is such doubt a delusion? Perhaps not in this case. Some people require proof before they will consider something possible. That is understandable. Curiously, creation does not work that way. A scientist with skepticism (and its inherent doubt) cannot perform an experiment on miracles. Wrong ingredients! And scientists should know better.

Does the existence of miracles, which personally I have seen many, prove spiritual beings or perhaps something else superior to physical reality? Certainly, they suggest such. Does the existence of spiritual beings suggest that God is a possibility? I would think so, especially if God (Creator of the universe) was really the aggregate sum of all spiritual beings acting in concert. Could you be a piece of God—immortal spirit and source of creation, wrapped in Homo sapiens flesh? Did Rene Descartes think so when he said, "dieu en moi" (God in me)?

Galileo demonstrates how to use the telescope to the Doge of Venice, from a Giuseppe Bertini fresco. You do not have to be an atheist to love science.
Galileo demonstrates how to use the telescope to the Doge of Venice, from a Giuseppe Bertini fresco. You do not have to be an atheist to love science. | Source

Belief versus Reality

Now, Richard Dawkins may think he knows that belief in God and miracles is a delusion, but his view is in itself a delusion. Many dogmatists of the past have wrapped themselves in such delusions. The world is flat, but Christopher Columbus did not fall off the edge. And despite what the Church had to say about Earth's central location, civilization has sided with Galileo, not out of any delusion, but out of empirical evidence. Some of the Church leaders would not look through Galileo's telescope for fear they would see the proof that another heavenly body is the center of its domain—namely Jupiter and its four Medician Stars, honoring Galileo's patron, Cosimo de Medici, and his three brothers.

Not only is Earth not the center of the universe, but there is no center at all—not in the physical sense. And like the Church leaders of Galileo's day, skeptics like Dawkins fear not to look, lest they see the proof that confounds their disbelief. They hide behind incomplete (unimaginative) logic and the distraction of self-indulgent ridicule.

One secularist skeptic with whom I have debated suggested that any manner of craziness would be possible if even one miracle were possible. Okay, and so what? They seemed to imply that only chaos would result. They seemed to suggest the "either-or" proposition that either we have an ordered universe controlled by the stable laws of nature, or reality is subject only to the erratic whims of an invisible being. This reasoning lacks a great deal in imagination, and it does not take much imagination to create another possibility. Creation can be ordered and very reasoned. The first "miracle" was the creation of this universe. Very nicely done, if you ask me. Everything seems to work—time, space, gravity, electro-magnetism, nuclear bonding forces—the whole lot of it. Why would another, more minor miracle mess things up? That is entirely illogical. So much for the imperfect fears of my secularist skeptic.

I have invited a number of secularist skeptics to read my "Anatomy of a Miracle" article. I do not know of any who have taken me up on this invitation. None have yet left any comments to debate the details of the incident. Only a couple seem to have glanced at it, but even they would not talk of the details. Was there something threatening about those details?

I have mentioned the incident in some forums only to get ridicule from some who seem to hold scientific acumen in high regard. Is science "ridicule?" Hardly, though too many scientists use that less-than-admirable weapon, and the skeptical forums are rife with such ridicule. One could say that such ridicule is "ridiculous." One secularist skeptic expressed disbelief, not of the incident, but that "parting traffic" would be all I would ask for. They seemed to suggest that I should have asked for something more selfish. A million dollars, perhaps? Why stop there? Their selfish and small imaginations could only think of small and selfish reasons. They cannot imagine how such a simple request on such a large scale could be so valuable.

Some scientists demand proof of miracles (while others don't care to discuss such things). That is understandable, but miracles do not work that way. Doubt is the fire extinguisher on the flame they are attempting to observe. When weighing a sample in the laboratory, one cannot expect accuracy if one's thumb is on the scale. Doubt does that. I cannot say this loudly enough. Take a lifetime, if you must, to let it sink in.

Richard Dawkins belief in something does not automatically make it true. Similarly, his disbelief in something—God, for instance—does not make it false.

Even if someone caught Mr. Dawkins off guard, and performed a startling miracle in his presence, does he have too much invested in his limiting and prejudiced point-of-view? Would he even see the miracle? Many with such strongly held beliefs would likely be blind to events that did not fit anywhere close to their world view. Such overpowering disbelief would constitute a very real delusion.

On one television program of strange phenomena, they showed the picture of a young man who liked to sky dive. One of his attempts resulted in chute failure. He plummeted toward the ground facing certain death. In the few moments he had left, he asked God to take him. Whether or not there is a God, is not the point here. He became humble, and humility is the antidote to ego. Only when ego is gone, can the true, immortal self stir from its slumber. Only then can miracles happen. The fact that he walked away with only a few scratches is a very objective, real, and tangible miracle.

There are many "scientific" attempts to try to explain how such a thing was possible, but for a moment, he was in that fearless state (what he called "giving it up to God") and gained his "bulletproof vest." Regrettably, he became full of ego (something I have risked by sharing my Wilshire story). He felt invulnerable. He jumped out of an airplane a few weeks later, but this time without a parachute, certain that his charmed life would save him. Ego, being a physical universe construct, can never be the source of miracles, just as a rock cannot perform miracles. More ego, means a deeper sleep for the powerful immortal within. This time, the ground took the cocky skydiver with a vengeance. This is the difference between faith and arrogance—a very tangible difference.

Centaure Malmaison, a statue of a centaur. It doesn't take an atheist to find the simple answers.
Centaure Malmaison, a statue of a centaur. It doesn't take an atheist to find the simple answers. | Source

 How many primitive tribesmen refuse to see an airplane flying overhead? Perhaps they only start to see it when their fellow tribesmen talk about the new "god" in the sky. And in myths of old, could the centaur merely have been a rider on horseback as seen by someone who had never before observed horses used domestically? Disbelief that a man could control such a beast might have blocked the observation of the critical details which would have revealed the truth—simply that an ordinary horse was being controlled by an ordinary human.

Could Cecrops, founder of Athens, have been merely a normal man popping the hatch of his serpent-shaped airship ("drakon" in Greek), instead of being half-man, half-snake? Could the Egyptian tale of a merchant prince rescued and nursed to health by a dragon have similar meaning? The prince saw at times the dragon as a monster and sometimes as a man, speaking with the same voice. Could this merely have been the ship's pilot—sometimes inside the craft, sometimes outside? But how could such things be possible? Certainly an earlier Atlantis did not exist with an advanced technology. Right? Or did it? And yet we have proof of an Atlantis-like event occurring right when Plato said the fabled island had subsided. Each of these pieces of evidence comes from a different scientific discipline. Even with such proof, scientists will not look, because "Atlantis" is the new blasphemy. So much for proof!

Things which are outside our worldview tend to make us miss details, and perhaps sometimes the whole picture. Such partial blindness is also a very real delusion. Fixed ideas get in the way when one cannot see the proof that confounds those fixed ideas.

Attempting to convince anyone of miracles is thus likely a wasted effort. And miracles are not some tool of debate to be used as evidence of God and god-like abilities or power. Sometimes I imagine bonking a secularist skeptic over the head with a miracle to help wake them up, but that is only my own ego talking; and ego is the real enemy. It has been said that one cannot make a silk purse out of a pig's ear. Someone who has decided not to look cannot be forced to do so. One can believe miracles are possible, disbelieve them, or from experience or faith, know that miracles exist.

As in any scientific investigation, certain ingredients are necessary to perform an experiment. Miracles are for the edification of the true self—awakening the spiritual half of ourselves. They are not a sales tool to be used on the "bah humbug" audience. One of the most important ingredients in an experiment on miracles is a desire for one's own spiritual awakening. Also, a miracle requires utter humility. Can you imagine Richard Dawkins with such humility? I can. Another important ingredient is the faith—100%, untarnished confidence—in the power of God within. Using such power to convince a skeptic is like using God's name in vain. Tsk-tsk!

Attempting to perform miracles without faith in God (100% confidence and utter humility) is like jumping out of an airplane without a parachute or a prayer. Splat!

Richard Dawkins, self-avowed atheist, standing at the University of Texas, Austin (March 2008 ).
Richard Dawkins, self-avowed atheist, standing at the University of Texas, Austin (March 2008 ). | Source

Richard Dawkins and God

 If skeptics were to use their imaginations, plus a scientist's measure of restraint, they might imagine other possibilities on the question of the existence of a personal and active God. Why doesn't God show Himself? What reasons could He have for remaining behind the scenes? I can think of a few. What if our spiritual awakening cannot occur with such interference; i.e. we have to decide for ourselves to use humility and search for our own awakening. It cannot be spoon fed to us. God cannot dazzle us into awakening.

Why are prayers of the believers never answered? Who said "never?" How can anyone ever prove that prayers are never answered? Okay, what if prayers are rarely answered? Why does God ignore so many? And who says God is ignoring anyone? Could it be, instead, that most people do not know how to ask for a miracle? When one gets it right, prayers are always answered instantaneously and in the affirmative. Always! Yes, always! But the way is narrow, and few can make the passage. And some who have made the passage, do not yet have the spiritual skills to remain there.

The active, and personal God is within each of us, waiting for each of us to awaken Him. Again, as Rene Descartes, the famous mathematician, once said, "dieu en moi"—"God in me." Perhaps the most important line in the entire Bible describes that God created us in His image. It does not take much imagination, or intelligence, to see where that leads us—that we are baby gods.

Too many of the religious are afraid to look there, because the idea seems blasphemous. And indeed, it remains a blasphemy if the baby god is equated with ego. One of these (the spiritual half of us) is from the timeless realm of creation, and the other is a created pseudo-self of continuity-bound, physical reality. God created baby gods—flesh of His flesh, and bone of His bone (only, spirit is not made of such physical stuff). Then, these baby gods fell into a deep sleep, poisoned by a conceptual matrix known to many as the "forbidden fruit," which manifests itself as ego. Only later did God create Homo sapiens—the physical part that we know so well. And this physical form was for God's children to have a method for reawakening. This is a new, albeit incomplete, interpretation of Genesis—a theological hypothesis based on a lifetime of experience and study.

If you are skeptical, say for a moment that miracles do exist. Why are they so rare? I can think of a very good reason why we don't see more often the miracles which confound, bend or break the laws of physical reality. It does not take the imagination of Einstein to conjure such possible answers; and Einstein valued imagination more than knowledge. What if the road to the ability for miracles is razor thin? I remember once thinking that perfect "10's" in Olympic gymnastics were an impossibility, but a little Romanian girl changed that. Perhaps if enough people talk about miracles, then the "gee whiz" factor will disappear. Perhaps then, they will become more commonplace.

Rather than pout like a spoiled child and demand God prove Himself, we need to take responsibility as children of God and awaken that immortal, spiritual part of ourselves, within. Faith comes before proof, and proof in this matter is of little importance.

Of course, some would merely rather hide behind their shield of disbelief, refusing to bother with something which likely does not exist anyway. That is their choice. That is their blindness.

I've never met Richard Dawkins. I know for a fact that he does not exist.

Want More?

For a uniquely different approach to the subject, check out www.The-Love-Of-God.com—a loving, vitally interested God, and the tools He has used to help us come back to Him.

Rod Martin, Jr. is a past Hollywood artist, software engineer and award-winning essayist from Texas, USA. Mr. Martin currently lives with his wife in Cebu, Philippines. He is also the author of the forthcoming book, The Bible's Hidden Wisdom, God's Reason for Noah's Flood.—http://www.GenesisCode.Net.

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Comments 52 comments

Mike Marks profile image

Mike Marks 5 years ago

the next time you're not in the woods to not witness a wave doing or not doing its collapsing to particle form thing under the influence of or independent of an observor's sensory apparatus coding a tree and a falling, let me know so I can proclaim, "Of course, it is lone77star who has put the philosophical question, oft-repeated only because the world is filled with lesser minds who can't understand the obvious, to rest" and stand your statue next to Dawkins in the museum of assumptions that should be unquestioned... oh wait, even Dawkins, in the final chapter of God Delusion, owned up to how few are the facts his human mechanism can verify through the slit of a burka (you know what chapter and verse of GD I'm referring to? You read the book, right? Not just assuming, as you assume the doings of an unobserved tree in the woods, you know what Dawkins writes without reading it?) Tongue-out-of-ceek, I really felt he redeemed himself in that final chapter. We all must check, and triplecheck, our assumptions, else the path splits off to yet another delusion... hey, in your pic you're sitting in front of a word processor, might I assume you are therefore a more serious, full time professional, writer?


lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Thanks Mike Marks for making some interesting observations. As you likely guessed, my article was not a book report on either Dawkins' or the McGrath's.

Richard Dawkins did us all a big favor by writing his book; it got us talking about this extremely important subject. For that, I thank him.

And I thank you for your contribution.


aguasilver profile image

aguasilver 5 years ago from Malaga, Spain

Dawkins's book should be required reading for all those who profess faith, it would shake out the wannabees and strengthen those who knew God.

For me he lost it when he declared that the voice speaking to him in his pubescent bedroom could not be either God or the enemy, but merely wind howling through a keyhole.

Such blatant oblivion secured his spiritual blindness, and spiritually dead people make poor judges when they investigate those things they have pre-determined to not exist.

Keep at it!

John


A.Villarasa 5 years ago

Another riveting collar-grabber of a hub, Mr. Martin. I guess the idyllic Cebu air must be doing wonders to your unmatched appreciation of the divine in all of us. I just wish all the non-believers out there would be so imaginative to just for a second consider the reality that they are both body and soul.


Castlepaloma profile image

Castlepaloma 5 years ago from Saskatchewan, Canada

Yes, Dawkins is a fundamentalist too. From third hand me down information with a boyish charm. Like half’s of the brain having a war.

Good hub


DavePrice profile image

DavePrice 5 years ago from Sugar Grove, Ill

Intelligent and entertaining - wait, that can't come from a Christian, because we are all idiots who believe in fantasy. You must be a closet athiest.


AKA Winston 5 years ago

lone77star,

You sure do push the "I created a miracle" theme over and over. Do you get royalties from The Miracle Network? Maybe you are auditioning for the Make A Wish Foundation? Perhaps you are simply trying to establish your personal legend with plans to take over Benny's healing empire?

Whatever your goals, you have certainly tapped into the right set of addresses to whom to send out your mailers - I give you that.

I think Sade sang a song about you...smooth operator...


Dave Mathews profile image

Dave Mathews 5 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

Neither Mr. Dawkins, nor the zealous religious people are correct in their assumptions. The real truth is that Lucifer and his followers are responsible for all of the chaos in this world, past,present and to come. Lucifer is reeking havoc with man, until the day God decides, enough is enough and calls for an end to Lucifer's reighn of terror.


lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

John (aquasilver), good suggestion. Having a well-rounded exposure to other points-of-view helps us appreciate the world around us and all who inhabit it.

There is a saying that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. Those who have never seen the spiritual world can't understand it except in terms of hallucination or delusion. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is the chief servant--the one who helps their fellow citizens with their special talent--a guide through the darkness.


lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Mr. Villarasa, I have the same wish.

I see science, logic, mathematics. I've built a career out of them. But I also see spirit and something transcendent. It saddens me to think that some of my fellows will shuffle off this mortal coil, never having tasted or seen this other world... that they will awaken with new eyes and detest the memories of this life.


lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Castlepaloma, brilliantly funny! Dawkins a fundamentalist, too! That is outrageous. I like it.

Anyone who has such an idée fixe might properly be called "fundamentalist" -- anyone with a prejudice, or who holds a stereotype as true... anyone with an obsession for something held as a personal "truth."


lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

DavePrice, yes! I must be a closet... something!

As AKA Winston remarked, I must be in this for something. My coming out as someone who has done a few miracles has the rather selfish intent of obliterating my own selfishness. And what a juicy paradox that is. Just by mentioning such things, my ego seems engorged. But every comment, every criticism, helps to shine a light on that dark, dark place.

Intelligent AND spiritual? Incredible!


lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

AKA Winston, thanks for your enlightening comments.


lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Dave Mathews, do you mean that everyone with a fixed idea or prejudice is wrong? I agree! The truth we seek seems to be a moving target. The closer we get to it, the more it changes. Of course, that's just our perception as we change by letting go of the things of this world.

Lucifer? Well,... I like to call it by its more personal "name"... "Ego." When we judge others, we feed ego. When we revolt against the viewpoints of others and want to set them straight, we feed ego--the master of this world. When we do something because of how others will view us, we feed ego.

I'm a slow learner. It has taken a few million years to get this far. I can only hope I'm close to graduation.


Dave Mathews profile image

Dave Mathews 5 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

lonestar77: I did not say that everyone with a fixed idea is wrong, but that Mr.Dawkins and those who believe what he is saying is wrong. And yes definitely prejudice is definitely wrong.

Lucifer or Ego I suppose could be the same person, as Lucifer as the Bible calls him definitely has a huge ego thinking himself equal to or better than God.


lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

@Dave Matthews, I understand. And I believe I DID say that everyone with a "fixed idea" is wrong. Truth is likely beyond language, so any idea "fixed" by human terms is likely wrong. The point is that humility is a far better approach than thinking that one knows already.

And regarding Lucifer "equal to or better than God," isn't that what we did when we decided to disobey and eat the Forbidden Fruit? That was us in the Garden, long before these bodies were born.


Titen-Sxull profile image

Titen-Sxull 5 years ago from back in the lab again

"The fact that I currently have no proof of his existence, does not disprove his existence."

You're creating a straw-man. Dawkins is not a Strong Atheist, that means he does not deny the possibility, however remote, that a god exists. To my knowledge there are only a handful of Strong Atheists in the world, most atheists are agnostic-atheists.

You go on to accuse Dawkins of using ad hominems... When has he done this? I'm not a close follower of Dawkins and I've never read his book so I'd appreciate some examples of his fallacies. You are aware, I hope, that while Dawkins is popular he does not speak for all atheists around the world. He may be a very vocal advocate but he isn't the atheist pope or something silly like that, he's just a man and may very well be prone to make the mistakes you mention. However I'd appreciate some evidence that that is what he's done.

"Dawkins makes a point of showing religion to be evil and a source of violence. As the McGrath's point out, atheists have been a source of great evil and violence, too."

But it is not atheism which drives people to react violently. There are no tenants of atheism, no core beliefs, it is merely a stance, a position on belief in gods. While certainly there have been atheists who were violent their actions cannot be correlated to their atheism. With religion however direct lines between certain beliefs and violence can be drawn. Let me give an example, there's an atheist and a Christian who both believe that homosexuals should be killed. The Christian believes they should be killed because it says so in Leviticus. The atheists atheism however says only one thing about him, that he doesn't believe in god(s), thus his murderous tendency must come from a source other than his atheism.

"When the Dawkins bulldozers roll, will it wipe out the good with the bad?"

Again I don't know all that much about Dawkins but I don't think being disrespectful towards religious lunacy can be equated to wiping out all religious folks everywhere. The "war" against theism would be a war of information and education.

"It is in the ego or selfishness."

To some extent I tend to agree with you. A lot of the worlds problems could be solved if empathy and logic were used to base our actions on, not ego and selfish instinct. We're pretty greedy as a species.

"It seems one does not question "laws." Yet, the "laws" of Newton, for instance, were not 100% accurate."

So which is it? You can't claim it both ways. Either science is dogmatic or it is open to being proved wrong, you just contradicted yourself. Science questions itself all the time, it brings in new evidence and the paradigm shifts a bit.

"The answers are not either science or religion. There is some truth to be found in both."

Sure there is. We can turn to religion for philosophical truths, perhaps even a handful of moral truths (if we toss out the barbaric nonsense). And science is what helps define/describe objective reality.

"So many were busy pointing their skepticism cannons at others, but not at themselves."

You talked about this in another hub, what is your obsession? You do know that scientists have to be careful right? Things get peer reviewed in science and scientists are very skeptical of work within the scientific community. Of course they should apply skepticism to their own work but even if they don't that's what peer review is for.

"These are "laws" that exist in nature, not "laws" formulated by humans to explain nature. "

A natural law is just a description of how nature behaves.

"So, why have we had miracles?"

We haven't. Unless you have some scientific evidence to present to suggest we had miracles. Until a miracle is performed under test conditions we have nothing to go on but anecdotes. You may be aware that anecdotes are not a good basis for beliefs, if they were we'd believe in Bigfoot, aliens, Nessie and every deity ever seen on a slice of toast.

"like the belief that Jesus walked on ice, instead of water, or the idea that Moses waded through a shallow swamp rather than parting the sea."

Well first you'd need to establish that Jesus ever existed. His historicity is questionable. After establishing his existence you need extra-biblical evidence to verify that he walked on water. Even if you had hundreds of contemporaries writing about the event of Jesus walking on water (we have NO contemporary accounts of Jesus, the Biblical accounts are all written decades after the supposed event) you would still need to prove that it had been truly miraculous and not just a trick. What do you think of Mediums who claim to speak to the dead? Surely speaking to the dead would be a miracle. Now pretend there was a story in a book written 2000 years ago that was recopied/retranslated a dozen times. Tell me that claim isn't worth skepticism of the highest degree imaginable.

"For four minutes, that lane remained empty ahead of me as I ran that gauntlet."

You're making a joke though, I presume, as traffic in LA is terrible. You do realize that if you were serious I'd have to laugh at you.

"When asked how they could be sure the things in their own life were not delusion, they were puzzled why I would ask such a thing. "

Here's the thing though. It could be a full on delusion that I'm even typing this right now but that is entirely irrelevant because it isn't an extraordinary claim. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. If you claimed you had eggs for breakfast I can suspend my disbelief and accept that based on the facts I hold (the fact that eggs are a normal breakfast food) but if you start saying your eggs spoke to you and said they came from the planet Jupiter my skepticism would kick into full gear.

"And yet, there were more than 2000 witnesses to the Miracle on Wilshire Boulevard."

Witnesses doesn't prove it was a miracle. Just like 2000 people seeing a UFO doesn't prove it was aliens. The unexplained nature of an event does not mean we leap to the supernatural as the first conclusion especially when there's no scientific or instrumental documentation of the event. I've talked to 911 Conspiracy theorists who lived in New York when the event happen, some report that the planes were actually misses, others say that there were no planes at all, there are many conflicting stories. I guarantee that if you went and talked to all 2000 of those "witnesses" that many would remember it differently than you do. I also find it funny that your miracle happened on "Miracle Mile"... how cute.

"What was going on?"

Even if you don't have an answer that doesn't mean you get to give up and call it magic.

I'm done, I could read on but thus far you've presented nothing remotely convincing and I've got better things to do on a Friday night than read about why a minor traffic incident proves the supernatural somehow.


lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

As always, @Titen-Sxull, you make some good points (and I admire you for these), but miss the point on some. Completely inaccurate on some. And don't be so defensive of atheists. I've known some very intelligent and thoughtful atheists and they didn't ridicule the spiritual. I could "laugh" at your mixed bag of good logic and atrocious logic, but that wouldn't be polite.

Bad logic?

For instance, "Just like 2000 people seeing a UFO doesn't prove it was aliens." I completely agree with this statement, but your use of it to make your point is entirely non-sequitur. Two-thousand people seeing a UFO would be 2000 people seeing an object which is "unidentified" (hence "U.F.O."). Where does "alien" come into this picture? You're drawing a completely fallacious parallel. Like so many of your arguments, this one is full of holes.

You said, "You're making a joke though, I presume, as traffic in LA is terrible. You do realize that if you were serious I'd have to laugh at you."

Now, you're being stupid and a pretentious jerk in the same sentence. This doesn't look good on you. You usually seem so much more intelligent. Traffic in LA terrible? Of course, silly, that was the point. I lived there 25 years, so I know a bit about LA traffic.

If 2000 people see a Gibraltar-sized rock suspended in mid air above LA for four minutes, they would not be silly to think that such might be a miracle. Not knowing the whole picture, though, there would be a number of other possibilities to consider. They might also consider the possibility that someone had invented anti-gravity, or a 3D projection system creating a fake image of Gibraltar. Not knowing the source of such an event, they would be justified in arriving at any number of hypotheses.

But if one individual consciously thinks of moving a Gibraltar-sized rock into the air above LA right before such a rock does this, then one could consider this a cause-and-effect relationship. To think that the thought and the event are entirely unrelated is a very real delusion on your part. The 2000 witnesses do not know the thought of the one individual, so they don't know the connection. "Miracle" would be only one of many possibilities from their perspective.

For you to deny "miracle" as a possibility shows a very real prejudice on your part. (Not very "skeptical" of you; remember skepticism needs to be aimed at ALL possibilities, including your denial of miracles. To do otherwise is to be a hypocritical skeptic, and not very "agnostic" of you, either.)

For the one who had the thought in the first place, I am the only one who knows the connection. I was the "operator" behind the scenes, pulling the levers and switches on reality. I was the one tapping into creation. If you had a curious bone in your body, you would want to know more about this, rather than poking fun at it. It is, after all, a completely unique break in the fabric of reality, and all you can muster is small-minded disdain. Wow! Poke away, for all I care. Just shows how close-minded and small-universe you have become.

For a two-mile stretch of a lane to remain empty for four minutes during rush hour traffic is much more than merely unusual. The fact that there were at least 2000 witnesses to this event only means that there were more than 2000 corroborations of something entirely startling and seemingly impossible in LA traffic. Come on! I dare you to explain a two-mile stretch of lane remaining empty for so long.

Only the fact that I had those thoughts and the spiritual epiphany seconds before the very startling event give rise to the conclusion of "miracle."

In your UFO example, only a non-human creature exiting the non-flying (landed), former UFO would allow for a valid conclusion for possible "aliens." Of course, that's not the only possibility. They could be time travelers from a million years ahead in Earth's future. Only if they state in English, "we're from Alpha Centauri" or some other star system, could we say "alien."

@Titen-Sxull, don't be so sloppy with your arguments. And don't be so hypocritical with your skepticism and agnosticism. And remember, "agnosticism," means "impossibility of knowing." Your pretentious laughter and other statements of disdain show very clearly that you are not agnostic, but ridiculous (for your ridicule).


Titen-Sxull profile image

Titen-Sxull 5 years ago from back in the lab again

"You're drawing a completely fallacious parallel."

No, you've entirely missed the point. The point is that you say 2000 people witnessed the miracle you did, when a lane of traffic opened up. Just like the 2000 witnesses watching the UFO leaping to the ALIEN conclusion you witnessed the unexplained and leapt to an absurd conclusion as well - a miracle. The point is entirely valid.

"Now, you're being stupid and a pretentious jerk in the same sentence."

Pretentious yes. A jerk, its debatable but stupid no. Stupid would be to assume a lane of traffic opening is a miracle, even if it is LA traffic. That's my entire point though, the same was with the UFO analogy, to assume that some supernatural force cause a lane to clear is an absurd conclusion to jump to.

"If 2000 people see a Gibraltar-sized rock suspended in mid air above LA for four minutes, they would not be silly to think that such might be a miracle."

Unexplained does not equal supernatural.

"They would be justified in arriving at any number of hypotheses."

Magic and the supernatural are a non-hypotheses, they are a non-answer. It is the least justifiable hypothesis imaginable as it explains nothing and merely acts as a place holder for actual answers.

"For you to deny "miracle" as a possibility shows a very real prejudice on your part."

I make no denial of prejudice whatsoever. I am firmly prejudiced towards what is demonstrably real. A miracle, by most definitions, would be impossible regardless of whether it happened or not. The moment it happens and can be studied it ceases to be a miracle. This is lucky for the miracle believers because no miracle has ever been demonstrated or objectively verified.

"If you had a curious bone in your body, you would want to know more about this, rather than poking fun at it."

I spent several years in my late teens going to cemetaries and purpotedly haunted locations looking for spirits. Curiosity is what lead me to research the supernatural, look deeper into all sorts of subjects and eventually come to a skeptical position. There was a time when I would have defended the supernatural from the dirty rotten skeptics, I would have told you that Bigfoot was real and that if those darn closed-minded scientists just had a curious bone in their bodies they'd be out there looking for him. So I have a curious bone and my investigations have lead me to my current position. It isn't an absolutist position but it is one that requires extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims.

"Just shows how close-minded and small-universe you have become."

This is a problem I see with a lot of fans of the supernatural. Most skeptics are not closed-minded in the sense that we accept actual evidence. Let me give an example: If you show most Creationists evidence of Evolution, solid scientific evidence, they will reject it outright. It doesn't work the same way for most skeptics, skeptics usually base their opinions on science and science is always fluctuating as new and better information comes in.

"For a two-mile stretch of a lane to remain empty for four minutes during rush hour traffic is much more than merely unusual."

It doesn't matter if this was more than just a mundane incident, if you want to claim its a miracle you have the burden of proof.

"I dare you to explain a two-mile stretch of lane remaining empty for so long."

I don't have to. You hold the burden of proof and you hold the only evidence of the incident - your own eye witness testimony. If you can barely even prove the incident happened how on Earth are you going to prove it was a miracle?

In short you've presented no evidence that what happened was a miracle. And yes I am an agnostic-atheist, it's not the same as a classic agnostic. My agnosticism towards gods has little to do with your supposed miracle however. I mean come on, claiming that an open lane of traffic is a miracle, even most believers in miracles would laugh their asses off until they realized you were actually serious. Think of it as a heads up that that's not the best story. So if you have any other miracles you might want to go with one of those next time. Even if it was a miracle what possible meaning could you ascribe to it? I mean does the grand designer of the cosmos really give a shit about LA traffic while thousands of kids starve to death in Africa? Is that really the best place for mystical powers to show up? Or are miracles just random? Like I said the magic conclusion answers nothing.


lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

No @Titen Sxull, I missed nothing. I see both sides of the debate quite clearly. I understand both science and miracles, the need for proof in science, and the absolute lack of need for proof with miracles. As different as oil and water. And yet there are interesting analogies which show some similarities between the realms -- the physical and the spiritual.

I'm still curious about the one question you seem to continue to avoid. Let us call it hypothetical. If you were faced with a wall of normal, L.A. traffic, and suddenly one lane opened up for an extended period of time, what would your thoughts be on this? Simple question. All I ask is a simple engaging answer.

What meaning would a miracle have? That's the entire purpose behind it all -- humanity, civilization, the Bible, Homo sapiens bodies -- the awakening of the immortal spirit within. Why would even the tiniest miracle be more important than the entire physical universe? And it is. And how could suffering in Africa (or next door) have anything to do with this? It has everything to do with it.

Will I be laughing my ass off at you when, next lifetime, you have to start in diapers all over again, not remembering a blasted thing, and thinking that you are merely and only that Homo sapiens body? No, my friend. Just sad that you can't wake up and get outside of your physical shell, and see some of the things that I've seen. You can't do these things by going the route of scientific proof and skepticism. It doesn't work that way. Oh, well.

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is the servant of all who cannot see. Sad, when some of the blind condemn the one-eyed man for thinking he can actually see what they cannot. A poor analogy for something for which there is no perfect analogy.


lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

... and @Titen Sxull, don't claim to speak for all skeptics. Creationists are skeptics, too! They're skeptical of science.

I'm not skeptical of science. I try not to be skeptical of anything. I try, instead, to use the superior paradigm for science -- that of restraint and humility in the search for answers.

Please, don't claim to be the only skeptics. You're not.

Don't claim to be the only lovers of science, either. You're not. I love science, too. Your arguments too frequently look black and white, and things don't work that way.

There are more things in heaven and earth, my dear Titen, than are dreamt of in your philosophy (to paraphrase Shakespeare).


Titen-Sxull profile image

Titen-Sxull 5 years ago from back in the lab again

"If you were faced with a wall of normal, L.A. traffic, and suddenly one lane opened up for an extended period of time, what would your thoughts be on this?"

I would be shocked to be sure and I would certainly be running through the possibilities of what might have caused it in my head. I might remark to someone who was in the car with me that it "must be a miracle" but I'd be doing it in a joking way. There would be a lot of possibilities in my head, perhaps the cars simply moved out the lane on a whim, perhaps they thought there was an accident in that lane and got out, perhaps it was an emergent crowd behavior. It would certainly be an incident worth looking into but a miracle... that would have to be established and is a very unlikely thing indeed.

"Just sad that you can't wake up and get outside of your physical shell, and see some of the things that I've seen."

I've seen some weird things but seeing isn't a reliable way of knowing, especially not when dealing with one individual. Than again a crowd can be even more panicking and gullible than just one person. Human perception can be easily fooled and if you were to add something like drugs or a brain deprived of oxygen to the mix you might end up with a seemingly spiritual experience. I'm far more content living in the real world and turning to fiction for my escapist tendencies, I don't need to blend reality and fantasy to be satisfied with my life.

"I try not to be skeptical of anything."

To quote Yoda, That is why you fail.

Oh I agree there are more things than are dreamt of in my "philosophies" the difference between us seems to be that I only accept things that have been proven, things that are demonstrably real, into my paradigm. I don't accept miracles because I've encountered no good evidence for them, the same goes for Jesus and Nessie too. That which can be shown to be real is what should be accepted as such. What we have yet to discover may well be incredible and beyond what we can currently imagine but that doesn't mean we get to start believing in any old random thing we can conceive of.


lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

@Titen-Sxull, thoroughly delightful discussion. Thank you for engaging more fully. You are the first "skeptic" to answer my most important question on the physicality of such an event. I have long admitted to such skeptics that I have no proof to offer them, and yet they were not as brave as yourself in answering this question.

To quote Yoda, "There is no try. There is only do or do not." And that is why you fail, my friend. That is the essence of faith -- the perfect confidence to do what seems to the mortal mind to be impossible. Like Luke Skywalker, you fail, @Titen-Sxull, to grasp this simple concept. You see only half of the world; I see both sides.

I am a scientist and a believer. I see a larger universe than you do. And I see no contradiction in needing proof in scientific investigation of the physical realm, but requiring faith in the other realm of the non-physical -- the source of all physical reality.

It's funny that you would quote from Star Wars and from a character who is entirely spiritual -- the little green guy who knew that he was far greater than his mortal body and who tapped into a force larger than physicality.

And in my own work in computer science, I've used the precepts of science daily. Proof of workability means software without bugs.

I have no good evidence that an individual @Titen-Sxull exists. I have words in response to mine, but they could be coming from an AI module or from a group of human individuals (rather than one), or they could be coming from an alien creature, or from a pan-dimensional being, or from a very "lucky" monkey at a keyboard. Some of these possibilities are more likely than others, but I have no proof one way or the other. I am not being skeptical that you are a human individual; I'm only holding restraint on the idea. A far superior approach. Why would that be so hard for you to understand?

And why would I fail by using a paradigm which is superior to that long used by science? My statement that "restraint" is superior to "skepticism" is really a separate issue altogether (separate from miracles). It is one I'm sure I could convince some level-headed, non-egotistical scientists. In fact, I've already talked to a couple -- an anthropologist from Oklahoma, and a PhD forest ecologist living in Ohio. Both are quite all right with this notion. Just because one paradigm has been used for hundreds of years doesn't make it perfect. Skepticism has served science well for centuries, but there is something better. Sir Isaac Newton's laws of motion served us well for centuries, but was found lacking at para-light velocities.

I try not to be skeptical of anything, because "restraint" is a far better paradigm for any investigation, including those of science. Are you picking on this idea because of your own ego? Or because I also claim miracles, so everything I say must be "trash?" That kind of illogical thinking won't get you very far in science. As a programmer, I certainly wouldn't hire you with that kind of illogic.

Fail? My dear @Titen-Sxull, on the subject of "restraint" versus "skepticism," touche and checkmate!

On the subject of miracles, my ego isn't even involved, though it tries to be.


Titen-Sxull profile image

Titen-Sxull 5 years ago from back in the lab again

"You see only half of the world; I see both sides."

But if the other side is indistinguishable from the imaginary than believing in it is to be self-deluded. I cannot confirm or deny the existence of miracles but I am very reluctant to believe in something which is not demonstrably real.

"I see a larger universe than you do."

Only in a metaphorical sense of course but then I would argue schizophrenics and people with hallucinations who see wild impossible things ALSO see a larger Universe because much of what they see is imaginary. One could argue that children who have a belief in Santa also see a larger Universe as my skeptical Universe has no room for magical fat men in red suits. So yes, I imagine that you do see a bigger Universe, one that includes a whole lot of unsubstantiated pseudoscientific content.

"the little green guy who knew that he was far greater than his mortal body and who tapped into a force larger than physicality."

I love Star Wars. It's a great work of Sci-Fi Fantasy... I like to keep the supernatural where it currently belongs, in the realm of fiction.

"Some of these possibilities are more likely than others, but I have no proof one way or the other."

But you do have enough information to make an educated guess don't you? The more extraordinary claims can be thrown out as unlikely, some nigh impossible. Oh I suppose if you wanted to be a solipsist I might just be a figment of your imagination, as might all people other than yourself.

"Why would that be so hard for you to understand?"

When talking about whether or not I'm human we're not dealing with an extraordinary claim. Human beings are known to exist and known to use the internet. We're not dealing with proving an extraordinary claim like god(s), aliens, or miracles, we're dealing with the mundane. I explained this in a hub of mine, the more extreme the claim the greater we must be skeptical of it. This is why if you told me you had eggs for breakfast I would take your word for it but if you told me your breakfast spoke to you and said it was from the planet Jupiter I would look at you like you were crazy.

"Just because one paradigm has been used for hundreds of years doesn't make it perfect"

Nothing is perfect

"Or because I also claim miracles, so everything I say must be "trash?" "

Well I do object to the miracle claim, although I wouldn't say that what you've said is trash. You readily admit to not being able to prove your miracles to other people and yet you defend them in discussion as if you CAN. What worth does an anecdotal story have to the rest of us? Are we to accept your word for it that there is some other dimension or side to life, some other piece to existence that violates everything we've thus far learned?

Skepticism and restraint are not mutually exclusive. I show skepticism towards the existence of gods, I do not go around claiming that gods do not or cannot exist. I show restraint in that I do not hold a rigid position that absolutely no gods exist but at the same time if you tell me that they DO exist it is a claim I will be skeptical of and want you to present evidence FOR. For me skepticism is the opposite of gullibility and the opposite of faith. When faith is belief without evidence skepticism is withholding belief UNTIL evidence is presented. This makes the default position lack of belief or disbelief (not rigid disbelief, disbelief that can be swayed by evidence). I


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lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Bravo, @Titen-Sxull! You finally got the similarities between restraint and skepticism. Very well done.

Now, can you see the differences between faith and delusion?


Titen-Sxull profile image

Titen-Sxull 5 years ago from back in the lab again

"Now, can you see the differences between faith and delusion?"

Depends on the definitions we use. One of the definitions for delusion is a false belief and while a non-falsifiable claim (such as the general claim "at least one God exists") might not qualify I would argue there are many beliefs and superstitions connected with religion that do qualify as delusions (Creationism for example).

So yes, there is a difference between faith and delusion, faith is a belief without evidence, that belief, while not justified with evidence, could still technically be true and thus isn't automatically delusion.


AKA Winston 5 years ago

(The most startling of these involved more than two thousand automobiles and their drivers. On one of the busiest streets in Los Angeles—Wilshire Boulevard—traffic parted during rush hour for me like Moses supposedly parted the sea. More than two miles of center lane in front of me were devoid of cars, while the lanes left and right remained even more thick with snarling traffic.)

lone77star,

And what happened after you parked your ambulance?


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lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

@Titen-Sxull, good analysis. I don't use the same definition for "faith," but there are many valid definitions.

You asked before about what value such a report as my supposed "miracle" could be. Certainly, you can't take my word for it, just as I don't take the Bible's word for anything. I always look for my own answers. But occasionally, I find that other people's "answers" are interesting enough to consider as possibly valid -- interesting enough to investigate.

Perhaps the greatest value is in stimulating conversation. One other value is in my examination of my own ego. Just mentioning this event stirs up a great deal of my own ego. And the only way to solve such a problem is first to get a better look at it. Awareness is a powerful tool.

On the subject of delusions, "creationism" is certainly one because it ignores the findings of science which is our primary source of understanding reality. One definition of delusion might be "ignoring reality." Creationism certainly does this.

It seems, from my own methodical observations of the various so-called "miracles" I've witnessed, that fully confronting reality is an integral part of them. I had forgotten that aspect, until this discussion. Thanks!


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lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

@AKA Winston, it's really interesting. I've never seen an ambulance clear traffic as quickly as traffic cleared on that day. So, your clever idea that I must have been driving an ambulence still holds the very real notion that something entirely unusual happened that day (if it happened as I described it). And, of course, I don't expect anyone to believe that it did. Why should they? According to you, seeing such an event could only have been a delusion.

I've never seen an ambulance clear two miles of "center" lane in five seconds. Usually, it will clear the "left" lane as traffic moves to the right (that is, after all, the law in California), but it will usually only clear two to three cars at a time and then slog its way to the next wall of cars. This is what happens in thick, rush hour traffic. Frequently, the cars find no way to move out of the way, so the ambulence is left to blare its siren until traffic moves enough for their current barrier to move to the side.

Any other "bright" ideas?

And I'm not telling anyone what kind of car I drove that day. I'll let a supposed witness tell me what I was driving. If they get it right, that qualifies them as a high-probability witness.


AKA Winston 5 years ago

(I've never seen an ambulance clear two miles of "center" lane in five seconds. Usually, it will clear the "left" lane as traffic moves to the right (that is, after all, the law in California), but it will usually only clear two to three cars at a time and then slog its way to the next wall of cars. This is what happens in thick, rush hour traffic)

Of course, we all understand that this is your rationalization that further explains the miraculous nature of your story - it had to have been a miracle and could not have been that stalled car in the center lane 3 miles ahead that you didn't see and never saw. It couldn't have been the result of the fire engine behind you that you were too engrossed to notice.

No, it was aliens. Had to be.

See, the clencher is this. Any reasonable natural explanation is more likely than any unreasonable miraculous explanation.

So I wonder again why, if you want to prove miracles, you don't do something truly miraculous and regrow an amputee's limb instead of debating California traffic trends?

My bet is neither you nor your god can do it - it much simpler to claim that water turned into wine than to actually move Mount Everest to Manhattan.


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lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

@AKA you should take your comedy routine on the road. I think it might do quite well.

Even in your attempt to be "logical" and to use "reason," you create comedy. And your fallacious generality, "we all understand" is a pitiful attempt to sound knowledgeable. Who is "we?" And "all?" Ooooo, I could feel impressed, but I don't.

Okay, let's see how this "stalled car 3 miles ahead" would work. Car stalls, and everyone behind him gets on their cell phones and calls their adjacent drivers to make a little room so that they can get out from behind the stalled one, and they call their friends behind them to warn them to get out of the center lane. All this in 5 seconds!

This makes the crystal spheres of the ancients look like chopsticks compared to your Rube Goldberg monstrosity. And, of course, all those people up ahead called the people in the side lanes to warn them not to move into the center lane, and that would explain why the center stayed clear for four minutes.

Oh! But I forgot. Almost no one had mobile phones in 1977. The first cellular network didn't exist until 1979... and that was in Japan. Oooooo. Maybe it was telepathy! Or yes, maybe little green men in invisible spacecraft above each car directing them to move in strange ways. Yeah, right! Thanks for the hilarious ideas.

And your fire engine idea? Let's look at that one for its brazen comedy. California motor vehicular law states that emergency vehicles have the right of way and that all other vehicles should pull to the right -- not right and left. Got it? And I guess you've never been in rush hour traffic before, poor soul. Otherwise, you would know that traffic does not -- ever! -- get out of the way for an emergency vehicle as quickly as the center lane cleared that day -- not during thick rush hour traffic. First of all, those a few hundred yards ahead would likely hear the siren, but not know from which direction, so would not feel so compelled to move out of the way. And in such thick traffic people don't find it so easy to move out of the way, because there are other cars in the other lanes.

Now, if I had not had an epiphany moments before. If I had not seen the mechanics of creation so clearly in my mind, then I would have no claim to having created a miracle. My mental creation (not a wish or want) preceded the event. Without this, I have no claim. Naturally, there would be no way to prove that I thought these things before hand. Oh, well. In the proof category, I lose. You win! Don't you feel better?

Can I create anything I want? No! "Want" prevents creation. It's the wrong attitude. Controlling one's thoughts is not easy. Most of us are sloppy and chaotic in our thoughts. Don't think of a pink elephant, and realize that just saying it makes it all the harder to comply.

When a baby takes its first steps, it is not going to run a marathon the next moment. That may take a few years. In the realm of miracles, the next step for me may take several lifetimes. But it's not about creating miracles. It's not about "me." It's about shaking off the cold, wet blanket called "ego." And I have way too much of that.

@AKA, I have to thank you for taking the time to discuss this topic. I knew the risk of stirring up more ego. I can feel it -- thick and choking, like L.A. smog. But there was reason behind such apparent madness -- to help me get a better look at ego so I can one day vanquish the little devil.

I'm coming to realize just how difficult that task is and why it has taken all of us millions of years as spiritual beings to get even this far. When Yehoshua of Nazareth talked about not letting the left hand know what the right hand does, I hadn't a clue what that meant until just yesterday. With the immortal, true self trying to wake up, and ego sitting on top of everything, opening the power of creation means letting ego sit dangerously close to the personal "control panel" -- the source of creation.

Perhaps that's why "Forbidden Planet" was such a favorite movie of mine for the last 50+ years. The mindless id of the Krell destroyed them in their moment of glory -- when they had tapped into similar powers of creation. Understanding the mind and controlling our own thoughts (using restraint and humility) will be so important on the next baby steps we take.

Move Mount Everest to Manhattan? Why not? There are many good reasons why not. And they have nothing to do with proving miracles are possible.

Good comedy, @AKA. Keep up the good work. I'm sure you can make lots of people laugh with your routine.


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lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

@AKA, one other thought:

I know full well that I do not have all of the answers -- very few of them, in fact. I know full well that my interpretations are not necessarily the right ones.

That said, I have to add that I am not afraid to take a "leap of faith" to try something without preceding proof that it is possible. For many years, I had wondered that, if some of the miracles I had heard about were true, how would such things be possible? My penchant for logic and science made me analyze the problem to build a hypothesis which, though it made certain assumptions, it followed an orderly path based on those tentative axioms. And you know? It worked. Dozens of times. I guess I was just ready for it, after all these lifetimes. Ready for these baby steps.

Oh, I forgot. You can't remember any of your past lifetimes. Sorry. But if I judge you for such things, I only increase ego, and that does both of us a disservice.


AKA Winston 5 years ago

lone77star,

What do you mean, I'm funny? Am I a clown? Do I amuse you?

I always seem to touch a nerve with you - you're always so-o-o-o angry. Maybe it's because I know who is really behind the curtain in Oz and I'm screwing it up for you?

Be my guest - pluck the pigeons until their flaps flop for all I care.

But don't be disheartened. You're a swell guy. A real Miracle Worker. The guy who - like every miracle worker before him - could not regrow a missing limb.

Maybe you should consider a sequel to The Man Who Would Be King - The Other Guy Who Could Not Grow Limbs.

After all, you're a funny guy.


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 5 years ago from United States

Before I get into my comment I just want to say (from a hubpage perspective) that this could have been like four hubs. I did my best to read all of it, but it was so much information and I didn't have a whole lot of time. So, just for future reference, you might consider condensing and breaking apart your material. I know you were trying to get a point across, but I feel like you could reach more people with shorter material (if it was four hubs you could link them all together).

Anyway, writing aside, you make a lot of good points. The solution to all the bickering is not more bickering. Both the religious and the non religious need to avoid extremism. Part of the reason some people become atheists is because of the extreme 'you're going to burn' religious messages. But we are being no better if we start to insult those who believe in god. Like you said, one cannot generalize an entire religion based on one person's fanatical beliefs. Just like I, as an atheist, can't be held accountable for what Richard Dawkins says, or Muslims can't be held accountable for what a select few terrorists did. We need to be understanding of each other and open our minds rather than just creating extremes in the opposite direction.

My own personal atheism stems from literature and the use of stories as tools to influence large amounts of people. (Like Aesop's fables). I don't think religion is bad, nor do I preach against it, I just want others to understand that I'm physically incapable of believing in it. I'm not trying to make anyone angry, that's just how I'm built. I don't go looking for trouble, but if someone asks me, then I will tell them the truth of what I believe. In regards to miracles, I believe in the unreliable narrator. It's a technique used in writing when you go through a whole story, only to realize that the character narrating the story, wasn't necessarily truthful. That doesn't mean they were lying, it just means that the story was filtered through their perspective. So, for example, if I were to witness something miraculous (not necessarily a miracle) and I was then to convey that story to someone else over and over again over a period of years. The story that I tell twenty years down the road isn't what actually happened. The story has changed in the interest of making it easier to tell and in the interest of making it more interesting, or more in tune with a point I'm trying to make in the present. As humans, we naturally alter stories in this manner, even if we don't realize we're doing it. In the retelling of stories over time, aspects of it change constantly, which is why I think your friend made the comment about the video camera. A camera will always play the event the exact same way each time, but our memories are never exact and they are constantly changing.


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lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

@AKA, it's funny that you should say "clown." Your "avatar" is that of the Joker in all his glorious clown makeup. Yes, you do amuse me. What nerves are hit are only ego. I could attempt to ignore ego, but that doesn't help make it go away.

I fully appreciate your point-of-view. It helps me face my own ego--to shine a light on it. Only by this can it ever be dissolved.

Screwing it up for me? Not at all. I know better now what your viewpoint is on miracles. I also know that you can do all of these miracles and even greater things, but only with the right attitude. I've achieved the correct attitude only rarely. That doesn't make it any less valuable that it seems so rare. And it doesn't make it any more valuable, either. It merely is what it is.

The fact that you don't remember ever doing any "miracles" (creating as a spiritual being) doesn't mean you've never done it.

I suppose I was having too much fun yanking your chain. If it made you feel uncomfortable, I apologize. It does, however, seem quite comical to view our two diverse viewpoints in light of the event on Wilshire Boulevard.

I find life is too wonderful to worry about what some people think of as impossible. If I learn more about creating, I will be happy, but I will be far more gratified if I find the freedom from ego that I seek. Then regrowing limbs and moving Everest to Manhattan will seem as easy as the miracle on Wilshire Boulevard.

That reminds me of an Indian monk walking near the Himalayas. A policeman found him to look exactly like a wanted murderer and demanded that he stop. When the monk continued to ignore his demands, the policeman pulled out his machete and hacked at his shoulder nearly lopping off his arm. The monk turned and smiled to the policeman, saying, "I'm not the person you seek." Then he used his other hand to pull the severed arm back into place and continued on his way, fully healed. Did it really happen? Perhaps. If it did, it only shows that I have a long way to go, and that you have not even started.

Take care, my dear AKA. Be good to yourself (and others).


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lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

@M. T. Dremer, you've made some lovely comments.

Long? Yes, I understand, and I'm attempting to corral my long-windedness. There is a fine art in making a point through brevity. And yet, on something as complex and misunderstood, being brief will not handle the majority of confusions and misunderstandings. I'm still searching for the best way. I know of linking hubs, but I feel that each hub needs to stand on its on, too. Splitting a discussion sometimes doesn't allow this.

I respect your views on atheism. Unlike some I've met online, my first impression is that you are a searcher of truth (even if it is only a "relative truth"). That's a real good place to start for all of us.

I'm familiar with the phenomenon you mention concerning memory. And yet, there is also another phenomenon of greater clarity with the telling of a story. Sometimes this happens under hypnosis, when a former victim can see the license plate and read it back. This is typically not the sort of thing the conscious mind is comfortable doing.

When I wrote my award-winning short story, "Toady" (http://www.ancientsuns.com/fwd/rcm/other_writing.h... ), the first draft triggered memories I had not looked at in decades. Yes, the story can change over time, but some details need not change. Some very specific feelings, or events are burned into the memory and are not as susceptible to modification.

For example, "firsts" are quite frequently burned into the memory with greater clarity than subsequent events of the same type. The first time someone makes love. Not every detail will be burned into memory, but a great many will.

The incident on Wilshire Boulevard was one such "first."

My first memory of seemingly "undeserved misfortune" also had some elements of indelible clarity. I asked my mother about it before she died. She said that what I described occurred when I was about 9 months old. I remembered a white shelf next to a door. On the bottom shelf I was supposed to store my toys, but I had apparently forgotten one. I remember my mother yelling at me and I remember the distinct feeling of confusion at not remembering having been so careless. Very likely I had been careless, but I remember the feeling of rejecting that notion. I also remember the feeling of not understanding the English my mother spoke. At 9 months, English was still a new language to me.


AntonOfTheNorth 5 years ago

I am new to Hubpages and decided I'd start with the 'heavy debates' first. Just left Mark Knowles article Creationism vs Evolution.

The most honest thing I can imagine anyone contributing to this discussion are the words: "I don't know"

We are a short lived (physically at least) life form on a single planet looking out at a universe that appears to be vaster than we can possibly grasp. What audacity it is anytime anyone says anything with certainty about its nature.

Thanks, Lone77star for taking the time and energy to share your thoughts. As I passed on to Mr. Knowles, I don't agree with all of your thoughts or conclusions, but I do appreciate the discussion you have created.

cheers


AntonOfTheNorth 5 years ago

On the nature of miracles.

When something apparently impossible happens that we wish for,(someone surviving grievous injury for example) we generally call it a miracle.

When something apparently impossible happens that we do not wish for. (a death in perfectly benign circumstances) we call it a freak accident.

I watched a man pass away suddenly as he laughed at a joke, the resulting laugh causing him to lean back too far to maintain his balance on the fence he was sitting on. He fell, only about the length of his body, to the ground. He hit at just the right angle, with just the right weight, to break his neck. He went into arrest and died shortly after. The doctor was as surprised as the rest of us. Everything had to come together just right to cause his demise. Does this qualify as a miracle?

It might to those who wished him dead.

Just thoughts


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lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

@AntonOfTheNorth, welcome to HubPages. Some very nice and intriguing thoughts.

On the subject of certainty, you've opened a beautiful topic. There is a part of me which clamors for attention and claims all kinds of certainty which it doesn't deserve. This is ego--a very mortal, physical and temporary pseudo-self.

There is a part of me which usually sleeps, but occasionally awakens to give me inspiration or to perform magic--the magic of creation. This is the invulnerable, non-physical, immortal child of God within--the true self.

I agree. I don't know. The logic of a scientist within me can only take me so far. I have been struggling to reach beyond mere logic. But logic tells me a few things about what I've experienced. The humility found in "I don't know" is helpful in awakening the sleeping true self within. The flavor of confidence found in faith is unlike anything found in ordinary belief. This level of confidence is perfect, pure and without doubt (even the tiniest drop of doubt). Faith is not a struggle to believe, but it is the sitting at perfect knowledge. Ego likes to take credit, here. "I don't know" helps to dispel ego.

If you visit my http://www.AncientSuns.Com website or try out my software at http://www.SpaceSoftware.Net, you'll see that I've thought long and hard about the vastness of this beautiful universe. Vast indeed! And 100 sextillion potentially habitable worlds in this universe doesn't faze me. I understand that number and its vastness as much as any other scientist might, possibly more. I can feel that vastness in all its 3D glory.

This appreciation for space has helped in designing my 3D software and in creating more perspective in my paintings. Like the fool on the hill who sees the sun going down, but the eyes in his head see the world spinning round.


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lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

@AntonOfTheNorth, good points on miracles, too. But having created a few (instantaneous results without the use of physical continuity or commensurability), I can tell you with complete certainty that "wish" doesn't work. The structure of "wish" is longing for the object of desire viewed from a distance. Wish only results in more distance--a persistence of it.

One thing I don't know about miracles is the set of all obstacles I've set up for myself, preventing me from doing it easily on all subjects. Some subjects are more important than others, so I fall into "wish" or "effort." And miracles, once one has achieved the state of perfect faith and perfect humility, are entirely effortless.

The "miracle" of which you speak is only the ordinary kind of miracle -- the coincidence, the thing which eventually happens, or the happy pregnancy which results in eventual birth of a beautiful baby. All happy, ordinary miracles.

If you take a look at my Anatomy of a Miracle, you'll see a more complete discussion of this difference between ordinary and extraordinary miracles. One is coincidental (accidental) and the other is cause-and-effect.

If you stick your naked hand in bright, blazing flame, it's gonna hurt. Wouldn't you agree that it's okay to be certain about that. We can know this from experience. With my own experience with dozens of miracles, and anecdotal reference to dozens of others, I think I understand miracles far better than most. Yet, even I know that I don't know everything about them.


Joseph Kemp 5 years ago

Poor Richard Dawkins. I have a lot of sympathy for him.

There is a YouTube video of Dawkins interviewing the former President of the Vatican Potificial Academy of Sciences. Dawkins is very polite. It is a conversation between scientists.

The Former President, who is also a Catholic Archbishop, believes very firmly in the theory of evolution. Most Catholic scientists do. It is a very well-established theory. Nothing wrong with it in that sense.

Dawkins comes across as very rational and respectful of the Archbishop's views. Almost kind. Very different from the militant atheist we often see.

The Catholic Archbishop says that he has never, as a scientist, seen God as an "explaining God." God does not explain the Universe. The Universe simply IS. God is more interested in helping people. If you are looking for a God who will explain the Universe, you will never find one in Christianity. It does not exist.

Dawkins says he understands such a position. He himself had always looked at God as a Being who would explain how the Universe got the way it is. And he could never find such a Being. He gradually concluded that there is no God. This approach led him into atheism.

Dawkins says it is intriguing how this exact same approach led the Archbishop into religion. It is a very rational position. He says he can relate to it very well.

I suspect Dawkins often comes across as harsh and abrasive because that's how a lot of religious folk often come across to him. They often reject his views on atheism outright. There usually is no frank discussion of anything. Just one side forcefully stating its views rigidly against the other side. No rational exchange of ideas. And thus, no understanding. Just bitter resentment.

But I see lots of intolerance from the herd in many areas, not just in religion. It seems to be the nature of the herd itself.

If you disagree with the majority on politics, you get often get shouted down. If you have different ideas on global warming, people scream at you to shut up. If you any unusual views at all, people often just get angry at you.

It's got to the point where if I have different intellectual views on something than you do, you conclude there's something wrong with me.

No wonder Dawkins comes across as so harsh and abrasive. People stubbornly, rigidly disagree with him all the time, on virtually EVERYTHING, and I think it just makes him mad. If people disagreed with ME all the time, I'd probably get pretty harsh and abrasive, too. It's annoying and frustrating when your intellect has led you to a certain position, and virtually no one is interested in honestly listening to such a position.

Dawkins does, however, make several false statements about science.

He often speaks about science having "physical laws." As if the Universe is filled with very exact "laws" that can never be broken. The "Law of the Conservation of Energy," for example. "The Second Law of Thermodynamics." "Newton's Third Law." Many scientists speak this way.

In reality, there are no physical "laws." Only theories. And theories are merely our best guesses about the way the Universe SEEMS to be, right now.

Any theory can be disproven. No theory is absolutely certain. There is always the possibility that any given theory, no matter how good, may simply turn out to be wrong in the future. This possibility simply cannot be done away with. There is always more future ahead of us. There is always the possibility to more to learn. And thus, there is always the possibility that we may learn that even our most cherished theories may simply be wrong.

Poor Richard Dawkins is not a philosopher. He is a very bad logician. He speaks about reason a lot. But he has virtually no idea how to use it. He is a very good biologist, and should be given credit for that. But his skills in logic are abysmal at best. It is not his field. This is to be expected. Expertise is not transferable. Just because you are an expert in one field does not mean you will be an expert in another.


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lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Joseph Kemp, thank you for your lucid reasoning. Very nice!

I have been attacked by some of those same types of Christian fundamentalists. I have also been attacked by some of the profoundly "skeptical." (And aren't Christian fundamentalists being "skeptical," too?)

The real enemy in the brew of life is the ego. You described it well when you talked about the group or the pack. Go against "conventional wisdom" and you're automatically an outsider,... for no other "reason" than you are different. Ego wants so desperately to be "right."

Poor Richard Dawkins crossed the line of "reason" when he participated in stirring the pot of discontent.

Conflict is always "sexier" than peace and accord. Hollywood enforces this because that's what people pay to see. Is it this way because a majority of people live in the ego? Could it be that with true humility, a person does not crave conflict even in entertainment?

Richard Dawkins had conflict forced on him by the "evil" pseudo-Christians. No doubt Jesus would be deeply saddened by what they're doing.

And your treatise on science and "laws" ... very nice. Science gets pretty close to "truth" in the physical realm. But behind the curtains, science will never be able to look, so long as it discounts an intelligent source of creation. I've been there, though only briefly, and used scientific reasoning to study what I have experienced behind that curtain. Science and spirituality need not be incompatible.


Apostle Jack profile image

Apostle Jack 5 years ago from Atlanta Ga

Tell the truth,and make the Devil shame.


lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Good point, Jack. Thanks!


Scottmonster profile image

Scottmonster 5 years ago from Washington, D.C.

I kind of see where you are coming from, and I respect the quality of your argument. I'm starting with that.

But I have to say, the arguments you present would be stronger if they were not so generic, bland, rehashed, and loaded with talking point phrasing.

For instance, you define him as militant. Why? Other than writing a book, and exercising his right to free speech, how is he militant? Its cheap, and from the otherwise strong quality of your writing, beneath you.

Secondly, your entire section on coincidence would be better informed by a discussion of confirmation bias.

No advice for the miracles section.

happy hubbing


lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Hi, Scottmonster. Thanks for the input. I always appreciate a fresh perspective.

I don't understand your assessments of "generic, bland, rehashed, and loaded with talking point phrasing." Without good, solid examples, your description with these adjectives appears somewhat "bland," but more importantly, "unsupported."

Your first "for instance" doesn't help me here. Mr. Dawkins is the one who took the discussion to a militant stance. He said so in public. There is a video of him at a conference where he talks in no uncertain terms of his new "militant" stance. He went on the attack. I can understand the ire some atheists feel. Some of the religious "believers" are not exactly Christian in their approach. So, even though Dawkins elevated his approach to "attack," it seems to have started much earlier by others who should've known better.

Your second "for instance" sounds like a good suggestion, but the hub was already reaching "book"-length proportions.

Do you think there was some confirmation bias at play? If so, I would appreciate your input. If not, I'll leave a discussion of logic and hypothesis for another hub.


Scottmonster profile image

Scottmonster 5 years ago from Washington, D.C.

That's totally fair, I just don't like to leave super long comments, especially if they're argumentative. Like I said, I see where you are coming from .

I simply can't stand people calling rather soft spoken, nonviolent, old scientists "militant."Too often it seems that all it takes for an atheist to be labeled militant, is for someone else to know what they think. We don't wear or lack of faith on our sleeves, nor do we proclaim it in the streets. You can't chose to read his book, then say he's militant.

I'm aware of your example of him calling himself militant, I've personally seen him do it as well, though in public he got a good laugh from the crowd, which is why I think it has more to do with taking control of the word people are labeling him as. He calls himself militant only after being labeled as such.

It seems that when people really don't have anything better to say, they start using words like militant, fundamentalist, unimaginative.... That's what I meant by loaded words and phrasing. As Dawkins deals with this type of stance in his book, I wont rehash why that's inaccurate here. If he didn't persuade you at all, I doubt I will. either!

Nice hub, all the best.


arksys profile image

arksys 5 years ago from Adelaide, Australia

I agreed to 90% of the things you talked about in this hub. makes a lot of sense to me. thanks for sharing this. look forward to reading more of your hubs. :)


lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Hi, Scottmonster. Thanks for the clarification. Now it all makes sense. I understand your aversion to simplistic generalizations as are found in such labels.

Wikipedia says about Richard Dawkins, "In an interview with Thomas Bass for a book published in 1994 he described himself as a 'fairly militant atheist'." No large audience where he could play the word for laughs.

I don't know the guy. He may be the sweetest guy in the universe, for all I know. But when I heard him calling himself "militant," there did not seem to be any tongue-in-cheek quality to it. He seemed quite adamant about it, and explained that stance in some detail. So, I'm wondering if your inability to "stand" someone else using the word to describe him might perhaps be a bit biased.

What you can't stand is other people calling him what he calls himself?

I also referred to the "militant" stance of some believers. I don't condone a militant stance from any viewpoint. I prefer we simply all get along and discuss things with a civil attitude. That's one point I tried to make in the article -- some people love conflict too much.

I appreciate you taking the time to explain your viewpoint.


lone77star profile image

lone77star 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Thanks, Irfan. Don't be afraid to talk about that other 10%. I can't learn if you don't discuss. And I'd love to get your input.


Chasuk 4 years ago

Dawkins is arrogant, yes. However, strip away his arrogance and his crankiness, and we have a man who is skeptical of invisible, supernatural beings, which makes him my confederate, sort of.

I'm a skeptic. For me, this means that I am skeptical of all factual claims, in the sense that I don't claim to "know" anything; I accept or reject the truth of factual claims on a sliding scale of confidence. What I believe with great confidence today I might seriously doubt tomorrow. I revise my truths gladly, based on the best available evidence.

As for miracles, I don't believe that they have ever occurred. I wrote a hub about this disbelief, and I admit that it was very intemperate. In that hub, I was dogmatically on the "nay" side. I'll revise that hub one day, because the arrogance and crankiness it contains alienates before it has the opportunity to convince.

Note that I am _not_ stating that miracles don't occur, only that I don't believe in them.

Your Wilshire Boulevard experience might indeed be miraculous, but it isn't useful as evidence -- to me -- because it isn't transmissible. It was obviously useful as evidence for you. If and only if I had expereinced it would it be useful to me, unless the experience was in some way unambiguously transmissible.

That's all I'll say, for now.


lone77star profile image

lone77star 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines Author

Thanks, Chasuk. As always, you give a somewhat "reasonable" response. And I wouldn't expect anything else from you.

Some people are thoroughly attached to the continuity of physical commensurability. I'm attempting to break that nasty habit in myself.

I was prejudiced right from the start, this lifetime. I first became self-aware at age 9 months. And I had dreams that taught me the meaning of faith and doubt -- powerful lessons for a 3-year-old. I was born believing in God, because I have believed in Him for thousands of years.

That belief predisposed me to miracles, just as self-confidence in a runner might allow them to break records, just as Bannister broke the 4-minute mile barrier. Other runners were waiting on him to lead the way. Just as Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier. There are those who are not "reasonable." And they change the world around them. Others who have forgotten how to "create," depend upon continuity and dependencies.

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