Of all of those Big Questions central to philosophical concepts that surround life, the universe and everything, the realms of theology and religions and the nature of deities continue to fascinate. Opinions proliferate in books, articles, videos, conversations in bars and pubs, and in fact anywhere and everywhere two or more humans are in proximate. There's the pro side; there's the anti-side. There are not too many fence-sitters. I'm still in the anti-camp as the following bits and pieces illustrate.
* Religion does not say anything about God. Religions say many things about many different gods (and goddesses).
* You can not hide behind religion and say religious freedom gives you the right to do whatever you want to do under the guise of that religion – reference for example, Kim Davis.
* Doubt is not a pleasant condition. But certainty is an absurd one. (Voltaire)
* Tell me the reason that you do not believe in other gods and I'll parrot back to you why I therefore do not believe in your gods, god (or God).
* One of the easiest things to do in your lifetime is to establish and start up a brand new religion. Even just in the United States, in the 1880's you had Joseph Smith (Mormonism). More recently L. Ron Hubbard (Scientology), Jim Jones, David Koresh and Marshall Applewhite. The latter three all sued along with their flock followers. Then too there was Sun Myung Moon. You had Anton LaVey (Satanism) and Gerald Gardner (Wicca). And how can we forget the theology behind the Flying Spaghetti Monster! You'll also get a lot of people claiming "Jedi" as their religion although how seriously they really are is open to question.
* Just giving a deity a name yields up not one jot of evidence that the deity with the now name in question actually exists. If you call a wizard "Harry Potter" does not make Harry Potter real.
* If Islam is the religion of peace, how come so many Muslims kill other Muslims (Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.)?
* Is it my imagination or have I noticed that the extreme religious right wing, those vehemently anti-gay, anti-same-sex marriage, anti-abortion, anti-national health care, anti-environmentalism (ie – climate change), anti -gay-adoption, always happy to attack non-religious institution and people for their bucketing or ignoring of Biblical teachings, are absolutely silent when it comes to giving a thumbs down on the child sex abuse issue by various religious institutions and personnel. Any religious institution is good and God-fearing by definition; anything else is not good and has turned their back on God.
* "Human beings have a demonstrated talent for self-deception when their emotions are stirred." – Carl Sagan
* "A celibate clergy is an especially good idea, because it tends to suppress any hereditary propensity toward fanaticism." – Carl Sagan
* "Where we have strong emotions, we're liable to fool ourselves." – Carl Sagan
Regarding Religion vs. Science
* [Paraphrasing Matt Dillahunty.] Does not it both me … am I happy going to my grave not knowing the answers to the [Big] Questions [like consciousness]? No, I'm not. None of us are. We are all uncomfortable with this idea of not knowing and that's why we have science. That's why we go out and try to find what the actual damn answer is. It's not that I'm comfortable not knowing. It's that I'm more uncomfortable pretending that I know.
* [Paraphrasing Matt Dillahunty.] I'd like to believe as many true things as possible and as few false things as possible.
* If a church steeple has a lightning rod attached that does not show a total lack of theological confidence?
* Science does not tend to be overly concerned with religious thoughts, but religions are often concerned with scientific thinking.
* "Who is more humble? The scientist who looks at the universe with an open mind and accepts whatever it has to teach us, or somebody who says everything in this book must be considered the literal truth and never mind the fallibility of all the human animals involved? " – Carl Sagan
* "It is far better to forgive the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, although satisfying and reassuring." – Carl Sagan
* "The idea that God is an oversized white male with a flowing beard who sits in the sky and tallies the fall of every sparrow is ludicrous. But if by 'God' one means the set of physical laws that govern the universe, then clearly there is such a God. This God is emotionally unsatisfying … it does not make much sense to pray to the law of gravity. " – Carl Sagan
* "The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion and politics, but it is not the path to knowledge; it has no place in the endeavor of science." – Carl Sagan
* "For a long time the human instinct to understand was heightened by facile religious explanations." – Carl Sagan
* "It took the Church until 1832 to remove Galileo's work from its list of books which Catholics were hidden to read at the risk of dire punishment of their immortal souls." – Carl Sagan
* "A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe severely tapped by conventional faiths. Sooner or later such a religion will emerge." – Carl Sagan
Regarding Faith & Belief
* A matter of faith means for those of faith that they do not have to actually think!
* Faith is not just believing something is so with insufficient evidence to back you up, it's believing that something is so irresistive of the evidence.
* Faith is not proof of anything as a visit to any mental health institution (insane smile; funny farm, etc.) will more than adequately demonstrate.
* How one can believe in God (or any other deity) and retain any intellectually honesty is beyond me.
* If all you have is just faith based on no actual evidence, then you also need to have faith that your faith could be incorrect.
* If you just have faith in one religion, then you can not really distinguish between the multitudes of religions on tap since all of the other True Believers in those multitudes of religions also have faith equal and opposite to yours.
* True Believers like to put their faith in ideas that are comfortable rather than in ideas that are demonstrably true.
* Why should I believe what you believe when you can not demonstrate that what you believe in has any degree of reality at all?
* "You can not convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it's based on a deep separated need to believe." – Carl Sagan
Regarding Prayer & Miracles
* If you pray to your god (or God), you are basically telling Him that he has screwed things up and so you're going to tell Him, via your prayer, how to set things to rights.
* We do not have ingrained into ourselves at birth a moral compass, an ethical sense, or a legal library. But but we acquire our morals, our ethics and legal obligations from others in our society – societies and cultures which differ from place to place and from time to time so resulting in slightly differenting moral values, ethical values and legal values.
* We do not need Divine permission to know right from wrong. (Christopher Hitchens)
* It's a sin to be jealous of your neighbor for owning slaves (thou shol not covet) yet it's not a sin to own slaves.
Regard Heaven & Hell
* Even a MAFIA Boss could not torture you forever, but God apparently can!
Regarding the Afterlife
* If there is no reason to believe that God or god (s) presides over this existence, then there's no reason to believe that God or god (s) presides over your afterlife – assuming an afterlife – existence.
* One reason why what our reality actually matters is to do with our final act within that reality – which is dying – for it's the nature of that reality which will determine what happens next – if anything.
Regarding the Bible
* If there are mistaken or misconceptions about God in the Bible (ie – God supports slavery), then is not it God's responsibility to correct those misconceptions or mistakes? That being the case, why has not God done this?
* Why can not God give us the one true – no interpretation needed – Bible instead of the hundreds of versions and translations that's on tap?
* We True Christian Believers believe in the literal Biblical word of God except when it's inconvenient.
* According to the Bible, there have been several eyewitnesses to the Big "G" (God). Witnesses include Adam & Eve, Cain, Noah, Moses, Abraham, Jonah, Job, and there may be others. That should count for something in terms of evidence for God's existence. However, for those eyewitnesses to have any bona-fides, theists must first demonstrate that these people were actually historical flesh-and-blood beings. Can theists actually verify the historicity of even any one of these individuals?
* The personal experience of God might be [mentally] real but that does not of necessity mean that God is real.
* If God were really all-powerful and really on His toes, He would have created life, the Universe and everything in a split nanosecond instead of dragging things out over six days!
* Does God exist? Well first define the god in question. Then state what would the state of the Universe, what would the Universe look like if that god actually existed – does expectation match reality?
* So according to the best physical anthropological evidence, modern humans have existed as a species for roughly 200,000 years – give or take. Let's say to err conservatively its 100,000 years. So that means that the big "G" waited for roughly 95,000 years and then, and only then, decided that He did better to go downstairs and introduce Himself to the great unwashed. But only to a very select few and only within a tiny geographical region of the total global geography, all of which – apart from Antarctica and parts of Polynesia were also inhabited by the great unwashed, or modern humans. Really? Does that make any real sense?
* The stars are pretty. That is NOT evidence that God exists!
* What absolute pure luck – I was born into the only society, time and place that got religious things right!
* You can not just choose the nice bits and say therefore there is a God. You have also got to come to grips with the nasty stuff, and then ask "why, God?"
* Stephen Fry to God: Bone cancer in children?
* What kind of God requires faith over evidence? Not rational.
* How come that existence (our Universe) requires an explanation, yet that explanation (ie – God) does not require an explanation? So what's the explanation for the explanation? God's existence requires God's own God. So here is a variation on the theme of God's existence as proposed by St. Louis. Thomas Aquinas in his "Summa Theologica".
Five traditional arguments for the existence of God's God. Who / what was God's God?
– Who / what moves the first / prime mover (ie – God)? God's God, that's who.
– Who / what caused the first cause (ie – God)? God's God, that's who.
– Who / what created the being created that (ie – God)? God's God, that's who.
– Who / what should God be compared to if God is accused to be perfection? God's God, that's who.
– Who / what designed the designer (ie – God)? God's God, that's who.
This by the way is an infinite regression.
* "Anything you do not understand … you attribute to God. God for you is where you sweep away all the mysteries of the world, all the challenges to our intelligence. " – Carl Sagan
* "What I saying is, if God wanted to send us a message, and ancient writings were the only way he could have done a better job." – Carl Sagan
Regarding God's 'Morality'
* Numbers 31: 7 (King James Version)
"And they warred against the Midianites, as the LORD commanded Moses; and they slew all the males."
Numbers 31: 9 (King James Version)
"And the children of Israel took all the women of Midian captives, and their little ones, and took the spoil of all their cattle, and all their flocks, and all their goods."
Numbers 31:15 (King James Version)
"And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive?"
Numbers 31:17 (King James Version)
"Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him."
Numbers 31:18 (King James Version)
"But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourself."
Translated: Kill everyone EXCEPT the young virgin females! I can leave the rest to your imagination! Further, God's A-OK with this.
And how many were the "women children"?
Numbers 31:35 (King James Version)
"And thirty and two thousand persons in all, of women that had not known man by lying with him."
* If I am more moral than God, and I am since I've never committed genocide or mass murder or child abuse and have never granted or condoned slavery, then it's clear that I did not get my morality handed down from on high.
* When you test or compare God's morals vs. human morals, then human morals trump God's morals. The average human is more moral than God.
* Why should we spend a lifetime on our knee worshiping God when God is such an immoral thug?
* God's most common interaction with people in the Old Testament is to kill them.
* God has way more concern over what you eat than over what you own, as in humans as your property (ie – slavery). Slavery ranks lower in God's list of priorities than any of the other over 600 commands He dictates. In fact, God absolutely grants slavery (Exodus 21).
* Consider the following Biblical passage:
Regarding God's Ten Commandments
* Contrast the following Commandment in Exodus with Luke 14: 26
Exodus 20:12 (King James Version)
"Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee."
Deuteronomy 5:16 (King James Version)
"Honor thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee."
Exodus 21:15 (King James Version)
"And he that smiteth his father, or his mother mother, shall be certainly put to death."
Exodus 21:17 (King James Version)
"And he that curseth his father, or his mother mother, shall surely be put to death."
Luke 14:26 (King James Version)
"If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he can not be my disciple."
* Consider God's' Thou shall not kill "Commandment in Exodus or in Deuteronomy.
Exodus 20:13 (King James Version)
"Thou shalt not kill."
Deuteronomy 5:17 (King James Version)
"Thou shalt not kill."
Now that apparently does not apply to someone you know who 1) violates the Sabbath; 2) erects a graven image, or 3) takes the Lord's name in vain. Then you are supposed to kill them!
And we all know about this contradiction.
Exodus 22:18 (King James Version)
"Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live."
* Jesus is coming? Santa is coming? At least you know when Santa will arrive!
Regarding Atheists & Atheism
* Atheism is disbelief in one and only one proposition, the proposition that supernatural deities exist. Given the lack of hardcore physical evidence that such beings / entities actually do exist, atheists take a skeptical position on the issue adopting the mantra that extra claims require extraordinary evidence.