Monday, January 14, 2008
And what I find so... frustrating is how Romney says, "Hey, could we focus on issues and not personal attacks?" whenever McCain brings up Romney's record of flip-flopping, but as soon as Ron Paul states the truth, Romney is free to say, "I think Ron Paul should stop reading press releases." Double-standard if I ever saw one.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Short Thought #2: When human life is valued by clothing, hair style, or bodily appearance, instead of the character behind those things, human life is devalued.
Friday, January 11, 2008
For those of you who don't know, there was a debate last Sunday night where Ron Paul was excluded by FOX because "there wasn't enough space" where they were hosting the debate, but that is a bunch of bunk, because we all know FOX hates Ron Paul's strict interpretation of the Constitution, his message of freedom, peace, and prosperity, and the supporters of that message.
"Fair and Balanced," you say? Ha! Don't make me gag...
Thursday, January 10, 2008
I would like to, first off, describe my defintion of an atheist. At one point I would have agreed that it was all a matter of semantics, but after studying the point some more, I do believe there is a fundemental difference between an atheist and an anti-, or non-, theist. When you think of an atheist, you typically think of someone who says, "God does not exist." I reject that notion. I simply believe that the case for God is unproven, not disproven. And what that means is, I'm not saying God does not exist, in fact, I'd say He very well could exist. But as of right now, there is no sufficient evidence to support it.
For example, I could propose that I breathe fire. You'd want evidence, right? Well, what if I don't do it? Does that mean I can't, or does that mean I can't right now? The antitheist would say I can't, and the atheist would say I could, but I haven't proven my proposition.
So, I suppose it all started when I was in ninth grade. Religion hadn't been a part of my life up to that point. Sure, I went to church with my father whenever I visited him, but did I ever think about God, who He was, Jesus Christ, angels? Nope. But ninth grade changed that because ninth grade was the year I had to participate in Confirmation. This meant taking notes during the sermon, visiting our pastor every Wednesday night for dinner and Bible-study, and participating in the services (ex. reading the Bible for the congregation). At first, I didn't really care. But then I started to think deeply about this stuff. After hearing some of it, I became an antitheist. I didn't want anything to do with it in large part because I didn't understand the Trinity (although now I do and agree with it, assuming God were to exist).
At this time I was taking part in a discussion on a Harry Potter fansite, where we just talked about philosophy and religion. Side note: there was a man there who claimed to see demons, and even said he had scars from them. Anyway, I talked extensively with others there who happened to be skeptics or atheists. Others were of various religions, but none of them Bible-believing Christians. Somehow I started to work my way back to a form of theism, but I had very unbiblical beliefs.
For example, I believed in reincarnation. I thought it was unjust for God to send people to hell, so I simply believed that when we died, after achieving sainthood, we'd return to be a part of God. That was because I saw a Jew on 7th Heaven express a similar idea.
Well, during ninth grade in English class I had to write what we called the Alphabetical Autobiography, and that simply meant we had the letter of the week and we had to write about a personal theme that began with that letter. Around the time I made my quasi-theistic beliefs, we came to the letter R, and I took that chance to write about Religion, expressing my beliefs. For this assignment, it had to be proof-read by a fellow classmate, so I handed it to a girl who happened to be a Lutheran. A couple days after that, she wrote me a letter explaining how wrong I was and shared the Gospel with me. At first I treated her unkindly, thinking her to be judgmental. But somewhere along the line I responded to the Gospel, at least intellectually, and claimed Christ as my Savior. For the first couple of months I refused to accept the Bible as perfectly true and hesitated to accept creation as true, but because I was studying Protestantism at my church, I fell under the sway of "sola Scripture," which, for you atheists reading this, means the Bible is the supreme source of knowledge regarding God, Jesus, and the Church. Since the Bible claimed itself true, well, by golly, it must be true! And since creation was a part of the Bible, that must have been true as well! So for the past year and a half or so, I've been trying to live as a Christian.
At the end of the summer after I "became" a Christian, I read James White's book, Debating Calvinism, a debate in the form of a book, and it set me out on the path of reformed soteriology, or, theology of salvation. James convinced me of the biblical quality of reformed theology, and that became a major force in my thinking.
I fell in love with Charles H. Spurgeon's sermons, in particular. Truly, he has a way of moving the heart. I also read stuff, mostly online, by John Piper, John MacArthur, and R.C. Sproul. I read blogs, such as the Reformed Mafia, Between Two Worlds, and Shepherd's Scrapbook.
Now I'm sure you noticed something up to this point. Whenever I talk about my "conversion," I speak of it in hypothetical terms. This is for a couple reasons, the first being because the Bible says, "If they were one of us, they'd have stayed with us, but they left us because they were not of us." So since I have left Christianity, I never truly was a Christian. But why did I leave?
I suppose that has a few reasons, if I wanted to be honest. I'm a homosexual, and with my "sola Scriptura" view of the Bible, I knew they were completely incompatible. The Bible, in both the Old and New Testament, say homosexuality is a sin. No matter how much I wish to deny it, the Bible does say it. And so I had prayed, and prayed, and prayed, and I fasted, and I read my Bible, and I memorized Scripture, and I told Christian friends about it for them to pray for me--but I'm still a homosexual. We now face a conundrum. How can I be a Christian and a homosexual? Ultimately, I can't. "Don't you know that the wicked shall not inherit the kingdom of God?" But I couldn't change. And I couldn't reconcile that with my faith. So inevitably I had to drop my faith. Because the Bible says, "Whosoever is in Christ is born anew, he is a new creation, and the old has passed away." But for me, despite my belief in Jesus Christ being the Son of God, crucified for my sins, buried, and resurrected, despite believing the Trinity, despite believing Calvinism, the old never passed away for me. My old habits didn't die, not even for a moment, when I thought I became a Christian.
Keep in mind that we are now talking about eleventh grade, last fall, before the New Year. So during that time I came in contact with Sartre, with his message that existence precedes essence. And the more I thought about it, the more I agreed with it, but I realized that it contradicted my Christian faith. I had heard about Christian existentialism, but that doesn't make sense because, as I pointed out in my earlier post on existentialism, if God exists, then our essence precedes our existence.
So three days after the New Year, I decided to recant of my Christian faith and here I am, now trying to learn more about atheism and existentialism. I still attend my church and my youth group, in part because I see no escape from it right now (I'm part of the Student Leadership Team) and because my friends at church would become too invasive in my life if they knew I left because I am an atheist, not to mention my mother (although she isn't even a Christian, so I don't know why she cares).
I don't want to die.
Sometimes I wish I'd never been born at all.
--Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Founded on a rock that tears
In two and seperates
Asunder from itself. Where
I fall I do not know
Except in a raging
Sea of chaos. Emotion
Swells deep within my chest
And threatens to
Explode. Lost within a
Dark reality, I choose
But we must press on, and no matter how poorly he does in any state, I will vote for him because he is the only hope for America. And if America is not ready for a "revolution," then I will not vote in our presidential election because a vote for anyone else is a vote for fascism or communism, both deadly forms of totalitarianism.
For you atheists considering Ron Paul, here is why I like him.
1. He is the champion of the Constitution, our nation's guiding document. Every congressman, senator, governer, and judge is required to take an oath to uphold and obey the Constitution. Only Ron Paul has proven himself to stay true to that oath.
2. He despises government running our lives. That is not what our Founding Father's envisioned for us. When America was born, she was born with the hope that her people would be free, not only from entangling alliances, but from big government. Ron Paul is the only one who can and will reduce the size of the federal government to its constitutional boundaries.
3. Although he is strongly pro-life and pro-marriage, he understands that it is not the federal government's job to legislate morality, but that it is the responsibility of the states to deal with issues like that. With that vision, America will truly reflect the beliefs of the people, rather than the beliefs of the majority.
4. He will not force religion on you. He understands the inherent American freedom that all atheists have, and although he personally disagrees with your beliefs, he will not wield his religion on you, unlike Huckabee or possibly Romney would.
5. His foreign policy of non-interventionism is the only one that will save our nation from the Middle East. He realizes that it is because we agitated a hornet's nest that we got stung, and although the hornet is 100% responsible for stinging us, and therefore guilty, the hornet would not have stung us if we did not bother it.
If you can't vote for a candidate with those policies, that's fine. But my heart is set in stone, and I will see to it that a revolution indeed occurs.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
A man calls you up and tells you he has three hostages, and you alone get to save one of them. He has a very sharp eye on you, he says, so don't try to call the police, otherwise none of them will be saved.
The first hostage is the pastor of your local church, although not your church. The second is a pathologist on the brink of discovering a cure for cancer. The third is a newborn diagnosed with with severe mental retardation.
The pastor, if you choose to save him, will be an instrument of God to save souls.
The pathologist, if you choose to save her, will be an instrument of God to save lives.
The newborn, although unable to be an instrument to save souls or lives, is innocent.
Remember, by choosing one, you condemn the other two to death. Based on those details, I ask you, "Which one will you save? Which?"
Monday, January 7, 2008
Great job, CBS! Way to call him on it. Nothing is sadder than when a politician needs to lie in order to get votes.
Vote Ron Paul for '08!
Saturday, January 5, 2008
- God exists.
- God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good.
- Evil exists.
These are the three premises that the atheist balances on. Let us ignore how one comes to define "evil," as some Christian apologists would do (and as I did). I think there is a better way for Christians to respond to this argument. But let us not get ahead of ourselves.
If God is all-good, He would not want evil to exist. If God is all-powerful, He would be able to destory all evil. If God is all-knowing, He would know that evil exists. Yet, evil exists. Why? You could suggest God was unable to prevent evil from existing, although He knew it existed and wanted to destroy it. You could suggest God didn't know about evil, even though He has the power and would be willing to destroy it if only He knew. Or, you could suggest that God simply wanted evil to exist, but that would imply He is not all-good. And if any of these instances are the case, then all three premises cannot be true.
Alas, many Christians are not discerning Christians. Those who are, however, would be able to say, "Isn't it probable that God, being all-good, would allow evil to exist for some all-good purpose?" Yes, in my mind, that is very probable. And that is one reason I never bought the "problem of evil" argument and remained in the Christian title.
That is, until recently I discovered a rebuttal for the Christian's response. Let us go back to the attributes, or character, of God: God is generally understood as all-wise, an off-shoot from His all-knowingness. If that is the case, then the Christian is left with a problem.
If God allowed evil to exist for some morally good purpose, it must be questioned whether God is truly all-wise and/or all-powerful. Why? Because, if He wanted some morally good purpose to be the result of evil existing, why not go about it in some other way? Surely an all-wise God would be able to think of a way to do it. And surely an all-powerful God would be able to perform another way.
"Nuh, uh," says the Christian. "'His ways are not your ways, and His thoughts are not your thoughts.'" Possibly, quite possible that would solve the problem. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, I referred to a verse in the Bible that means that God doesn't do thinks like we do, and He doesn't think like we do. So even though we would think God should have done it another way, He didn't because He doesn't do things the way we would.
But the Christian forgets that pesky attribute of "all-good." An all-good God, under no circumstances whatsoever, would want any form of evil to exist. If He did, He wouldn't be all-good by definition. And because He would be wise enough and powerful enough to make whatever it is He wanted made without the existence of evil, we can only conclude that He isn't all-wise, or all-powerful, or all-good, or all-knowing, or He simply doesn't exist. I have voted for the latter, because a god who is not omni-et. al. is not God.
Well, my knowledge is limited, but I'll do my best to explain.
Every source that I've read in regards to existentialism always says it is hard to define, because there are, apparently, many types of the philosophy. But so far, I've only found two different kinds: theistic existentialism, and atheistic existentialism. Apart from the factor of God, the two are different in that TE measures a man's worth by his response to God, while AE measure's man's worth by his response to existence.
But for the concepts that knit the two together...
- Sartre coined the famous phrase, "Existence precedes essence." At first, I had a difficult time understanding this idea, but that's probably because I never understood what "essence" was. But it is rather simple once you get past that silly block.
Basically, it means that humans exist before they have a purpose or meaning. From conception, you did not have a pre-determined goal in life. Where as the Westminster Confession of Faith (a Christian document) answers the question, "What is the chief duty of man," with, "To enjoy and glorify God forever," existentialists say humans have no prior essence.
Now you may reasonably ask, as I did, "Does this apply to all things?" Clearly not. As Sartre explained via papercutter, A papercutter has an essence before it exists. When a man needs to cut paper, he sets off to create the proper instrument. He thinks about how to create, what materials to use, and so on and so forth. Then, he creates the papercutter, and uses it to fulfill its purpose.
But humans have no essence, and that is because they have no Creator. The TE takes offense to this, and although they believe existence precedes essence, they attempt to solve the contradiction by saying humans exist before their essence, and the essence is found in their response to God. However, that doesn't solve anything, because if God existed, it would be an insult to the Creator to assume that He would create something without any thought or purpose.
Thus, existence precedes essence. And lest you think, "So life is meaningless, why should I live it," the existentialist has an immediate answer: You are free to choose your essence, which leads to the second tenet of existentialism.
- Again, Sartre defines it for us, "We are condemned to be free." Since we as humans ultimately have no pre-set significance, you and I are free to choose what we want to be. That isn't so hard to understand, right?
Sadly, the vast majority of humans hate being free, and that is because with freedom comes responsibility. If you choose to do something, and that freely, then you alone are responsible for the consequences. Many people try to avoid this freedom in numerous and divers ways. For example, a person who loves to eat might say, "I inheritated some genes from my parents." Therefore, it isn't their fault that they are obese, blame the parents. Or if a rapist tried to argue, "It's just who I am," they are assuming they have a nature that somehow disposes them to rape. Another attempt to avoid responsibility is to play off environment. If a child fails a test at school, it isn't his fault because he stayed up until midnight, and his dog died the next morning, and his teacher really hates him. If he failed, it's because his environment made him fail, or so he would have you to believe. But the existentialist denies all these things. We are free to do almost whatever whenever we want, if we so choose. But you see, we don't always choose. We just let someone or something else choose for us, and then you have engaged in what is called "bad faith" or "self-deception," both ideas which I need to learn more about, but basically it is the attempt to rid yourself of freedom and therefore responsibility.
Now this all may sound harsh. What about the lady who had her legs amputated because she got in a tragic car accident? Surely she isn't responsible for that? The existentialist thinks so. She chose to get in the car and go driving, and the car accident was the result. She is responsible for freely getting in the car, and nothing else. Well, maybe she was going to get groceries for her three children. That doesn't absolve her of responsibility for her consequence. She could have chosen to go at 4:30, or 5:00, but she chose 3:00, and that led to the car accident. No one made her choose 3:00 except herself.
But you see, she is still free, even with her legs amputated. She is free to figure out how to move on from this experience. Will she be bitter the rest of her life, or will she use this moment to warn others of the dangers of driving? It's up to her, because she's free to choose, and whichever she does choose, she is responsible for the outcome.
"Wait a minute," you might say. "Am I absolutely free? Does that mean if I were to close my eyes and wish myself to Hawaii, I am free to go there?" No, not necessarily. What the existentialist means by "free" is "free within a certain system." Let's take Sartre's example of the artist: An artist has red, blue, and yellow for her colors. Now, is she free to make a green tree with just the red paint? No, no, not that kind of free. But she is free to comine blue and yellow to make green for her tree, if she wants to have a green tree. Maybe she wants a purple tree, which is entirely up to her.
- Life is absurd. That is Albert Camus, another French existentialist who lived alongside Jean-Paul Sartre, and "life is absurd" is his major contribution to existentialism. How is life absurd?
By that, Camus means that we live despite knowing we will die. Have you ever noticed that? If I'm going to die anyway, I might as well commit suicide and get it over with. But Camus rejected that belief, and tried to answer it. I haven't studied Camus as much as Sartre, so I won't be very informative for you readers, but from what I have read, this is what I know.
Try holding your breath. Go as long as possible. Is your heart beating faster? Chest pounding? Want to give in? Okay, take a breath, I don't want you to pass out. What just happened? Your body wants you to live. Your heart was trying to get oxygen to your body, but if you have no new supply, it pumps harder. Your heart doesn't want you to die, because if it did, it would stop beating. And yet it keeps going, and going, and going, and going. If you held your breath long enough, your brain would have shut down, causing you to pass out and start breathing again for the sheer reason of staying alive. Despite knowing you will die, your body strives to live. Life is absurd. So how are you going to deal with it? Are you going to commit suicide, or are you going to live despite this morbid knowledge? And how are you going to live? You are the author of your life. Write an interesting story while you can.
I'm sure there are plenty other tenets of existentialism which I am forgetting or haven't studied yet, so my apologies if that is the case. I hope I have made as accurate as possible an interpretation of French existentialism.
Obviously since I don't believe in God, I don't believe we were created. But evolution is seriously lacking in proof saying, "Here is where life comes from." It might be able to answer how humans came to be, and maybe their ancestors (assuming they had any), but you can only go so far back, and then what? Granted, just because we don't have the answer doesn't mean an answer doesn't exist. But for me, it is as trivial as they come, and should only be important to those who care about it.
Also, and this refers back to my statement about atheism having poor arguments for the non-existence of God, evolution doesn't necessarily mean God doesn't exist. Atheists, I know, will try to say it does, but as I attempted to explain, evolution doesn't explain how life came to be, it just shows how life progresses (again, assuming it is true).
From my understanding of this topic, earth is estimated to have existed 4 billion years ago, or whatever the new number is, and at its conception earth was uninhabitable to any form of life. Correct me if I'm wrong. If this is true, then we need to seriously question how life came to be on earth, for those interested. You could try to prove spontaneous life, but that has been debunked with the famous maggot experiment. Life only comes from life, and if there was no life on earth to start with, then it is a conundrum of the ages.
So let us assume life on earth came from life in outer space (which strongly implies extra-terrestrials). Given the favorite "Big Bang" theory, I think atheists are faced with an even bigger problem. You believe that at one point the entire universe was compacted into one condensed orb of matter and energy, until it couldn't be compacted any more and instead exploded, thus creating the universe as we see it. If this is true, then we must also assume the conditions of all matter and energy compacted into one single space would be unsuitable for any form of life to exist. And if that is true, then where did life come from? Because life would have to come from the universe, created by the Big Bang that cannot support life, and come to earth.
Who knows? I certainly don't. Then again, this is all coming from a teenager's understanding of evolution and the Big Bang, which I'm sure most of you atheists would simply shake your heads at. Oh well.
Friday, January 4, 2008
For starters, I am a male who is a junior in high school with a growing, dare I say "inordinate," interest in existentialism. Caucasion, if that matters to any of you. I have dark blond hair, hazel eyes, very Norwegian, I guess.
I do plan to go to college in order to pursue a double-major in English literature and philosophy. Have no idea what I would like to do for a career, but I do know I would like to write some novels in my life time.
Okay, yes, I'll admit it: I was a Christian at one point, or, at least I claimed the title "Christian." But recently I rejected that system of beliefs, and have settled on atheism. Am I of the ilk like Christopher Hitchens, who think all religionists are "poison" to society? Not in the least. I sympathize very much with Christians, I think their presence is interesting, and would love to examine their beliefs from an atheistic perspective. You will probably read a few articles that I write which deal with the existence of God, and I do have some opinions on the polemics of modern atheism which I think could use a little improvement.
But obviously, by my screen name, URL, and blog title, you can see that my philosophy is existentialism, flowing greatly from Sartre and Camus, and I hope to be able to not only learn more about it, but find ways to make it practical to my life. You might think of me as the existential Thoreau.
As far as politics go, I fully support Ron Paul for the presidency. I can't wait to vote for him in my state's caucus, and eventually for the national election. I strongly adhere to a limited federal government, non-interventionist foreign policy, and sound money, among other things. Even though I am an atheist, I am pro-life, and undecided regarding gay marriage. Personally, I think, as Ron Paul does, that it should be a state issue (because it is!). If, however, I had to choose a Democrat, I think Sen. Obama is the better candidate rather than Hillary or Edwards. But that's just me. I'll be a Paulite until he either wins the presidency or drops from the race altogether.
I work at a buffet as a bus boy, so I'm usually not home until later at night. It's a frustrating job, and if it weren't so darn close to my house, I wouldn't hesitate to quit. But what can you do?
Finally, I have a two-year-old brother, I live with my mother and her fiance, although my dad and I have a great relationship (and my mother has a great relationship with him as well).
There. Now you know who I am. Please, if you think my blog will be worth the read, let me know that you are reading. Have a great night, or afternoon, or whatever it is where you are currently reading.