Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Life Has No Meaning if God Exists

Drill Sergeant: Gump! What's your sole purpose in this army?
Forrest Gump: To do whatever you tell me, drill sergeant!
Drill Sergeant: God damn it, Gump! You're a goddamn genius! That is the most outstanding answer I have ever heard. You must have a goddamn I.Q. of 160. You are goddamn gifted, Private Gump.


If we're here as a result of a series of improbable events with no divine hand behind it all, then life has no meaning.

That's what theists like to tell me, anyway.

But what is the meaning of life if God exists?

To serve God.

No thanks. God doesn't need service and I'd rather fly a kite.

To go to Heaven.

Heaven seems awfully boring, unless we're talking about the Muslim Heaven. But I don't see how that would be more meaningful than, for example, trying to have sex with 70 virgins here on Earth. (Why virgins, though? I think I'd get sick of newbies.)

To become one with God.

Sophisticated theists have redefined the whole Heaven thing because the original version was too silly. Now it's all about becoming one with God or something. Eh. That doesn't seem so meaningful either. Why don't I just become one with my couch?

To be a living expression of God's greatness.

Okay, God's going through His angsty adolescence and wants to express Himself all of the sudden. If I wanted to play a part for some frustrated megalomaniac, I'd join the local theater.

Tikkun Olam. To bring the world to a state of peace and harmony where the world can live as one, with much singing and frolicking.

That would be just as meaningful without God. Besides, He's the one who kicked us out of the goddamn garden in the first place.

Edit: Apparently I totally stole this post from Bacon Eating Atheist Jew!

45 comments:

asher said...

JA,

Forrest Gump in one of my favorite movies. The underlying concept of it was, how is the world?....is it a box of chocolates where you never know what you'll get or it is like Capt (or Sgt) Dan said where you have a destiny and its all be ordered in advance. The dicotomy of the two views is what drove the film.

It still makes me cry when he talks to his wife's grave.

The point of religion, at it most basic is to see how small you are in the universe of things. It decreases you ego, makes you think of others and how you can improve the world. I've yet to see a group of athiests or agnostics organized to go visiting the sick in hospitals.

skcorefil said...

lol. You're sarcastic and flippant today.

Simon said...

Absolutely right.

Chana said...

This is a pretty angry post, unlike your usual calm and reasoned thought process. What's up?

swurgle said...

Asher said:

"I've yet to see a group of athiests or agnostics organized to go visiting the sick in hospitals."

Hey Asher, the next time you're in Teaneck, NJ stop by the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County. You'll find a group of athiests or agnostics who staff the local homeless shelter, collect food for the local food pantry and defend the rights for people seeking asylum. And, yes, the kids in our Sunday Schools recently raised several hundred dollars to buy holiday gifts for children in local hospitals.

XGH said...

LOL.

So the question is this:

The vast majority of Theists feel that God does give them ultimate meaning. That's a fact. The small minority of atheists say you can have meaning without God, but the theists don't believe them. I can think of the following options:

1. Most people (e.g. theists) need God, but some people (e.g. atheists) dont.

2. Even theists don't really need God, they are just not thinking clearly.

3. Atheists really do lack meaning, they are just faking it.

4. People could in theory find meaning without God, but once you have been indoctrinated with the God thing, its very very hard to give it up and still find meaning.

XGH said...

This is too good to just be a comment. I claim it as a post!

Jewish Atheist said...

Chana,

This is a pretty angry post, unlike your usual calm and reasoned thought process. What's up?

Actually, I was trying to be funny. :-) Guess it didn't work.

BaconEating AtheistJew said...

JA, did you read my post from yesterday before you put this together, or is this some sort of unexplained coincidence?

jewish philosopher said...

If "meaning" means "created for some purpose" as in "The dinner I cooked was meant to celebrate our anniversary." then an atheist must of agree that life has no meaning, while a theist would say it does.

If however "meaning" means "having some importance" as in "You mean so much to me!", then an atheist may imagine that life has great importance for some irrational reason. I say "irrational" because according to atheism life actually has no intrisic value.

Jewish Atheist said...

BEAJ! Oops! I did actually read the cartoon at the top of your post, but I didn't get to the post itself. I read it during the day, though, and posted last night without thinking about where I got the idea. Didn't realize I was stealing from you.

My humblest apologies!

JP:

If "meaning" means "created for some purpose"...

Okay, I give up. If God created us, what was the purpose?

M.C. said...

The whole atheist / theist debate has some unstated assumptions held by both atheists and theists.

1) Atheists believe in the existence of an individual separate self, the "me", created by unconscious, blind material forces.

2) Theists believe in the existence of an individual separate self, the "me", created by another separate entity "God".

In both cases, there is an unquestioned belief in the separate "me" entity, distinct from all the billions of other "me" entities and (if such exists) the "God" entity.

Look close at the self. There are ideas that arise about "me", but they are insubstantial and changable and float through awareness. But is there a true self-center to be found? Or just a constant awareness in which all ideas, perceptions, and moments in time flow through?

The self is simply a persistent set of ideas that arise around age 2 or 2 1/2 and are progressively more and more identified with by awareness. Or we can use Einstein's formulation:

A human being is part of the whole, called by us "universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, has thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest-- a kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.

BaconEating AtheistJew said...

JA, it's OK, George Harrison did the same sort of thing when he wrote the music to My Sweet Lord. Except he had to pay those associated with He's So Fine.

JP, I know I know. Without God life has no real meaning, but with God, there MIGHT BE meaning. You just have no idea what it is and neither does anyone else.

jewish philosopher said...

"If God created us, what was the purpose?"

Primarily, to love Him.

Jewish Atheist said...

m.c.

I'm not sure I believe in a self. I've posted about that before.

Primarily, to love Him.

How is that better than loving one's family?

Ezzie said...

LOL (I thought it was funny... though you have been less reasoning lately on occasion. What's up? Election season? :) )

Who knows what we're here for? The theists who have a specific religion at least can say "Well, this is what God says He wants, so it must be right by definition." Everybody else can make up whatever they want (or not). Of course, then it's made up. You know?

jewish philosopher said...

"How is that better than loving one's family?"

He is our family. He is our Father in heaven.

M.C. said...

"If God created us, what was the purpose?"

There is nothing except "God" or "Consciousness" if you prefer.

The experience of apparent individuality and contingency is necessary to understand the reality of unconstrained, uncontingent consciousness. Therefore Consciousness can temporarily become identified with personal identity and experience the pain of apparent separation.

But the ultimate purpose is for Consciousness to know itself as the spaciousness within all experiences play themselves out, including that of being every "person" and other apparent entity.

In short: "you" are a story / experience / dream God is experiencing to provide a temporary reference point from which to view the infinite. You are Consciousness, temporarily imagining itself separate from apparent "others", within the holodeck-like experience of a supposed "material world".

M.C. said...

I'm not sure I believe in a self. I've posted about that before.

Cool. I'd love to read your musings on that. Can you post a link?

Also, if there is no self, how can "someone" (who does not exist) label "himself" (who is just an idea) as an atheist?

Jewish Atheist said...

Ezzie:

LOL (I thought it was funny... though you have been less reasoning lately on occasion. What's up? Election season? :) )

Thanks. :-) Actually, I've just been more busy lately, so maybe I'm not spending enough time on my posts.


JP:

"How is that better than loving one's family?"

He is our family. He is our Father in heaven.


How is it more meaningful to love God than to love one's Earthly family?


M.C.:

There is nothing except "God" or "Consciousness" if you prefer.

If so, then there is no meaning.

Cool. I'd love to read your musings on that. Can you post a link?

Sure

Also, if there is no self, how can "someone" (who does not exist) label "himself" (who is just an idea) as an atheist?

It's not exactly that I don't believe the self exists -- there is after all a body with a brain inside it sitting in my chair which I identify with. It's just that the self may not be real in the sense of having free will or whatever. I don't really believe in that universal consciousness stuff.

jewish philosopher said...

"How is it more meaningful to love God than to love one's Earthly family?"

Loving God is what we were created to do. That makes it the meaning of life.

M.C. said...

OK, I found one of your posts on no-self and Buddhism. Cool!

After reading it, I would add only a few quibbles.

Science doesn't have the beginnings of a clue on how unconscious matter can give rise to awareness. Many from eastern and non-dual traditions would state that this is because matter is itself a phenomena arising within Awareness. Certainly the findings of quantum mechanics make it very clear that matter looks more like patterns of activity within some kind of matrix than the macroscopic notions of "real stuff". So the "hard problem" of consciousness is solved because ultimately, everything is awareness.

Reincarnation assumes the existence of a separate "self" who could then reincarnate. If everything is ultimately non-dual awareness, then in a sense the universe / Consciousness is continuously "reincarnating".

I write a blog covering scientific evidence that cast a lot of doubt on theories that consciousness somehow emerges from unconscious matter and increase the likelyhood that matter is an emergence within Consciousness.

M.C. said...

It's not exactly that I don't believe the self exists -- there is after all a body with a brain inside it sitting in my chair which I identify with.

Yes, there is at one level a brain and a body and a chair. But is that the *fundamental* reality, or just patterns of activity within something else?


It's just that the self may not be real in the sense of having free will or whatever. I don't really believe in that universal consciousness stuff.


There is a vast array of evidence from the experience of millions of people and lots of controlled scientific evidence as well that conscious awareness does not follow the "rules" that reductionistic materialism would suggest. This gives a lot of support to the theory that Awareness / Consciousness is primary.

Jewish Atheist said...

JP:

Loving God is what we were created to do. That makes it the meaning of life.

Doesn't seem any more meaningful to me than loving people.


M.C.:

Science doesn't have the beginnings of a clue on how unconscious matter can give rise to awareness.

That's a big exaggeration. We have a lot of clues about how the brain works, how it evolved, etc. Neuroscience is admittedly in its infancy, but it's giving us some interesting stuff.

Many from eastern and non-dual traditions would state that this is because matter is itself a phenomena arising within Awareness.

They can state whatever they want, but it seems pretty unlikely considering there's no evidence of awareness existing outside a mind and matter has been around a lot longer than minds have. :-)

I'll check out your blog.

There is a vast array of evidence from the experience of millions of people and lots of controlled scientific evidence as well that conscious awareness does not follow the "rules" that reductionistic materialism would suggest.

I agree that there is scientific evidence that conscious awareness isn't exactly what we've thought it to be, but I've seen nothing credible that implies materialism is false. Some of the "evidence" you write about on your blog seems laughable. A study with four water bottles by "scientists" (who work for the "Institute of Noetic Sciences") and the effect of the mind on crystalization?

M.C. said...

That's a big exaggeration. We have a lot of clues about how the brain works, how it evolved, etc. Neuroscience is admittedly in its infancy, but it's giving us some interesting stuff.

You are correct, but that doesn't address what I said at all. I didn't say that science doesn't understand anything about the brain, but rather how matter can give rise to awareness.

I agree that there is scientific evidence that conscious awareness isn't exactly what we've thought it to be, but I've seen nothing credible that implies materialism is false. Some of the "evidence" you write about on your blog seems laughable. A study with four water bottles by "scientists" (who work for the "Institute of Noetic Sciences") and the effect of the mind on crystalization?

If you choose to laugh at research because it contradicts your assumptions about how the universe must operate, fine. But that is not science, it is dogmatism.

I like Rupert Sheldrake's formulation of genuine skepticism:

I am skeptical of people who believe they know what is possible and what is not. This belief leads to dogmatism, and to the dismissal of ideas and evidence that do not fit in. Genuine skepticism involves an attitude of open-minded enquiry into what we do not understand, and this is the approach I try to follow.

You keep saying "there is no evidence of this, there is no evidence of that" and then when I present evidence you decide it can't possibly be valid, and even scoff at the qualifications of the people doing the research, eg. writing "scientists" in quotations.

You might find this blog post of value on why you never noice any evidence that contradicts your pre-existing belief system. Because your mind-apparatus keeps kicking up the thought "this is not credible", and you buy into that thought.

R10B said...

JP: Loving God is what we were created to do. That makes it the meaning of life.

Jewish Atheist: Doesn't seem any more meaningful to me than loving people.


You're right, JA. Loving people is as meaningful as loving God. As a matter of fact the New Testament states repeatedly that loving other people, especially the unloveable, IS loving God!

I think the philosophy underlying the initial post gets off track at a point way more fundamental than how and to whom love is expressed. The real question is not "does life have meaning without God," but "does life have meaning without love?"

jewish philosopher said...

"Loving God is what we were created to do. That makes it the meaning of life.

Doesn't seem any more meaningful to me than loving people."

God lasts longer than people.

jewish philosopher said...

I think you can look at it like this:

An Orthodox Jew:

He gets up in the morning and devotes his day to fulfilling God’s commandments. He believes in God, thinks about God, loves and fears God. He is constantly praising God. He is studying God’s words. He is supporting his family, caring for and educating his children. Every moment in the office, he is doing God’s will by being a responsible husband and father. In the case of a woman, she is bearing and caring for precious children. The Jew knows that every moment of life he is earning a reward in the next world, which is of unimaginable value. Although life is short and filled with disappointments and ends in old age and death, this does not dampen his enthusiasm because he knows that life truly only begins after death, when he will enjoy the glow of the divine presence for eternity.


Now let’s look at his next-door neighbor, the atheist:

He gets up in the morning and is miserable because he has to go to work again. The same old boring job; he knows he’s never going to do anything much different or make much more money. He goes to work so he can eat. He eats so he can go to work. After work, he can look forward to seeing his spouse; the same old, boring one. And his kids, who are probably wild and out of control and annoying. Why didn’t he get a vasectomy? Very possibly, his wife and kids have already left for good, leaving him with the child support bills. What does he have to look forward to? After age 20, steady mental and physical decline ending about age 75 in permanent, eternal darkness. The best that he can do is to try and interest himself in some sort of sport, hobby or community work.

Which sounds more meaningful?

Jewish Atheist said...

M.C.

I didn't say that science doesn't understand anything about the brain, but rather how matter can give rise to awareness.

Neuroscience is the study of how the brain gives rise to the mind. Are you referring to evolution instead? I'm confused.

If you choose to laugh at research because it contradicts your assumptions about how the universe must operate, fine. But that is not science, it is dogmatism.

I'm not laughing at it because it contradicts my assumptions, I'm laughing at it because the Institute of Noetic Studies is kinda... nuts. If, however, real scientists (with credibility) are able to reproduce the results, I will be happy to change my opinion. As it stands, however, I've seen reports of far too many quacks claiming miraculous results to take them seriously.

You keep saying "there is no evidence of this, there is no evidence of that" and then when I present evidence you decide it can't possibly be valid, and even scoff at the qualifications of the people doing the research, eg. writing "scientists" in quotations.

I said "credible evidence." First, I have to believe the source telling me about the evidence isn't crazy or lying, and a quick google of Emoto looks like he may easily be one or both. Second, I have to be sure the experiment wasn't flawed, etc., which can be accomplished by repeatability. Further, if you look at his website, he's all about showing pictures of pretty crystals, with no real science to be found. It also seems he believes in homeopathy, which has been shown by real scientists to be a bunch of hooey.

You might find this blog post of value on why you never noice any evidence that contradicts your pre-existing belief system.

I'm aware of such biases which make things difficult. That's why science exists. If Emoto's "research" is repeated successfully by real scientists (employed by real institutions, not "Noetic" or "alternative healing" or whatever ones) then I'll believe it.

Otherwise, I'd be stuck believing in all kinds of ESP, cold fusion, etc., etc. claims.


r10b:

The real question is not "does life have meaning without God," but "does life have meaning without love?"

Interesting question, but not relevant to the discussion at hand.


JP:

Doesn't seem any more meaningful to me than loving people."

God lasts longer than people.


So? What lasts long is more meaningful?

BaconEating AtheistJew said...

This Emoto dude sounds like Dr. Dino.

Check this thread out

Crow corpes can never be found because...

Jewish Atheist said...

BEAJ:

Wow. From there I went back to Emoto's website to verify the craziness. Here's something else I found:

"The two ultimate fields, yin and yang (or, plus and negative, or negative and positive) are the two minimum fields generated by our great Creator to create material in this world. Both fields are essential to generate and maintain energy.

Therefore, all material substances are either yin or yang even to the smallest units of their structure.When both fields maintain their respective original fields, that defines a normal situation.For a human being, that would mean that he/she is healthy in body and mind. However, I’m afraid that situation is not permanent.Yin and yang have polarities, so when the two fields reverse themselves due to one cause or another, that creates an abnormal, unhealthy situation.

When homeopathy theory is observed from the above perspective, one can say that any toxin or poison has two poles, yin and yang. Let's say a certain toxin enters the body and has a very bad influence on the person’s health.If the toxin enters the body in a yang wax, biologically activating the body, then by sending in the same toxin as a yin field that toxin can be neutralized. This can be accomplished by diluting the toxin to an extremely low concentration. This produces a field opposite to that of the toxin in its material form."

Agkyra said...

If we're here as a result of a series of improbable events with no divine hand behind it all, then life has no meaning. That's what theists like to tell me, anyway.

Maybe some theists say that, but not this one, who counts himself among the more sophisticated representatives. Not only can atheists experience a meaningful life (you are God's image-bearers after all, like it or not), but life can be very meaningful even on the assumptions of an atheistic worldview, at least some varieties. The problem with meaning comes in with the introduction of naturalism. It's very hard to conceive of life having meaning when it is completely controlled by an unstoppable, unalterable, and (theoretically) entirely predictable process. Meaning is a concept that relates to persons, and naturalism -- as we have discussed at length elsewhere -- reduces persons to processes.

I can only speak for Christian theism, as a Christian theologian with whom other Christians are free to disagree. The meaning of life is not to serve God, not to become one with God, not to go to heaven, nor to experience God's greatness. It is to experience God's purpose for creation in fellowship with him and your fellow people, a purpose that will come to fruition when he rids the world of sin and restores it and humankind to their rightful functioning. The meaning of life is to experience the fullness of human potentiality, of personal integrity (in a systemic sense), and love. The life we experience now is just the kernel of the life we are intended to experience, and that those of us who are followers of Jesus will one day experience. It's not so terribly different from the life we live now, just with all the bad stuff removed and all kinds of good stuff added.

You can safely ignore most of the trite responses from theists about the meaning of life. The Westminster Shorter Catechism question/answer 1 puts it well: "Q. What is the chief end of man? A. To glorify God and enjoy him forever." That's a good summary. Hopefully my comment has unpacked a bit of its meaning.

BaconEating AtheistJew said...

agkyra, I see you need Jesus and God for the full effect. Atheists like me can never experience the real meaning of life, even by your standards.

You seem to have it all figured out. Is there sex in heaven? And if one marries the love of his life and she dies and the guy remarries someone he loves equally, who does he wind up waking up next to in heaven?

Jewish Atheist said...

Agkyra:

It's very hard to conceive of life having meaning when it is completely controlled by an unstoppable, unalterable, and (theoretically) entirely predictable process. Meaning is a concept that relates to persons, and naturalism -- as we have discussed at length elsewhere -- reduces persons to processes.

You identify an important problem for understanding meaning in a naturalistic universe, but that religion may solve the person issue does not imply it solves the meaning issue.

It is to experience God's purpose for creation in fellowship with him and your fellow people, a purpose that will come to fruition when he rids the world of sin and restores it and humankind to their rightful functioning.

If that's the purpose, why doesn't he do it right this instant? If the purpose is in the process, why isn't it just as meaningful for an atheist to work to rid the world of evil?

The life we experience now is just the kernel of the life we are intended to experience, and that those of us who are followers of Jesus will one day experience. It's not so terribly different from the life we live now, just with all the bad stuff removed and all kinds of good stuff added.

Aren't Christians always going on about how would we know good if there were no bad? Also, your version of Heaven doesn't sound very sophisticated.

"Q. What is the chief end of man? A. To glorify God and enjoy him forever." That's a good summary.

Sounds pretty shallow. I could do the same if I lived in North Korea by glorifying Kim Jong-il and enjoying him forever. Or at least until I die.

Agkyra said...

My version of heaven is definitely different than the mythological conception of angels, clouds, and harps, that's for sure. If that means it's less sophisticated, then so be it. Basically, I maintain that God created us to live bodily on earth to cultivate and enjoy the potential that God built into the universe. The idea of heaven, as a place that people go to escape a sinful material world, isn't biblical. The world wasn't created sinful such that we need to be rescued out of it. This is not to deny the reality of heaven, just that we're not meant to be there primarily.

Moreover, some Christians do maintain that we wouldn't know good if we didn't know evil. I can't think of a good biblical or philosophical argument to support that though.

Certainly some people do glorify and enjoy another human being, perhaps even Kim Jong-il. The problem is that Kim Jong-il isn't our maker. Our personal nature and moral nature aren't derived from his. Our ability to love and experience fulfillment doesn't stem from a connection to him. By glorifying and enjoying Kim Jong-il in lieu of God, we reduce ourselves, malign God, and potentially harm King Jong-il too (not least by tempting him to accept our worship).

It is good for atheists to work to rid the world of evil, but ultimately only God himself can completely accomplish it, since he alone is unstained by evil. And there can be no true good apart from the one who is good personified, and from whom we derive our very sense of "good." Of course, we're made to be in relationship with him and so to have our sense of good heightened and fulfilled through that relationship. Even though you believe differently, I'm sure you can see how to a Christian the very idea that there can be good apart from God is utter nonsense. In fact, it is the very nonsense that led to our present predicament. Our only hope is to be reconciled to God.

Anyway, I've taken you pretty far afield from your topic. Thanks for the thoughtful responses.

r10b said...

JA told me...Interesting question, but not relevant to the discussion at hand.

It is if there is no love without God.

If life without love is meaningless, and love without God is impossible, then life without God is meaningless.

Voilá, relevance!

Jewish Atheist said...

Why would love without God be impossible?

dbs said...

Great post. Perhaps some of the debate is semantics. There may not be an 'ultimate meaning' to the univers or to our existance. That is a different statement than 'life is meaningless'. I think that the essential point is that life has 'value' and therfore 'meaning' to us non-theists, whether or not there is some external purpose of us being here.

M.C. said...

Wow. From there I went back to Emoto's website to verify the craziness. Here's something else I found:

Emoto's theoretical approach is quite bizarre. But that's not so unusual in groundbreaking research. After all, Newton believed in Alchemy.

What is important is that his claims about the crystallization of water were given statistically strong support in a double-blind study from independent researchers.

I have a copy of Radin's paper and I don't see any obvious holes. It's copyrighted and I cannot forward the paper, but you might try asking him politely on his blog.

Attacking Radin because the concept of "noetic sciences" is unacceptable to you is frankly nothing more than blind prejudice. Blind prejudice is common among many, but it is not science.

I link dozens of research papers demonstrating the reality of telepathy and associated psi phenomena on my blog. Most of them are available online, in full (although Radin's paper testing Emoto's water research is not). Rather than dismissing ideas which you believe to be impossible, why not read the papers and come up with some informed opinions?

M.C. said...

Otherwise, I'd be stuck believing in all kinds of ESP
, cold fusion, etc., etc. claims.


So basically you pick and choose what research to believe in, based on what your chosen authority figures tell you is the "acceptable" scientific result? Regardless of what the bulk of the research shows from independent labs and researchers?

Fine, but don't mistake this approach for anything other than following a particular dogma. It is not a scientific approach, although many mistake it for science.

Jewish Atheist said...

Emoto's theoretical approach is quite bizarre. But that's not so unusual in groundbreaking research. After all, Newton believed in Alchemy.

Newton was indeed a nut. And, in fact, I wouldn't have taken his word for it that an experiment produced a given result. We believe in Newton's laws because they have been shown again and again to be true (at non-relativistic speeds.)

What is important is that his claims about the crystallization of water were given statistically strong support in a double-blind study from independent researchers.

"Independent?" Doubtful. I have no way of verifying this.

Attacking Radin because the concept of "noetic sciences" is unacceptable to you is frankly nothing more than blind prejudice. Blind prejudice is common among many, but it is not science.

Don't twist what I said. It's not the concept of "noetic sciences" I have a problem with, it's the credibility of the "Institute of Noetic Sciences."

Radin claims he was able to bend a spoon with his mind. This is a well-known trick done by Uri Gellar, etc., which never happens to be repeatable when it's possible to make sure no-one cheats.

So basically you pick and choose what research to believe in, based on what your chosen authority figures tell you is the "acceptable" scientific result? Regardless of what the bulk of the research shows from independent labs and researchers?

Not at all. I simply remain skeptical of institutions and scientists who clearly have problems with skepticism. Emoto's obviously a nut and Radin may be a nut or a fraud.

M.C. said...

Radin claims he was able to bend a spoon with his mind. This is a well-known trick done by Uri Gellar, etc., which never happens to be repeatable when it's possible to make sure no-one cheats.

There are thousands of reports of people at PK parties bending spoon bowls, thick metal bars, etc. with no explanation how it happened. Lots of observers including skeptical journalists. Michael Crichton is another well-known person who has attended a spoon-bending party and witnessed his own spoon become incredibly soft.

Their reports all correspond with Radin's - the metal suddenly gets very soft and can be bent as easily as putty, then typically hardens up just as suddenly.

This has absolutely nothing to do with some kind of professional magic trick. This is normal people, not trained magicians, who attend these parties and something very odd usually happens and metal gets soft and bends like putty.

It's far better to do some research into these phenomena and read both sides of the story rather than dogmatically hewing to the CSICOP party line.

Jewish Atheist said...

You can watch a video of Uri Gellar fooling a bunch of people with the spoon-bending nonsense here and see how he cheats. I have no reason to believe Radin isn't doing the same.

Mr. Gobley said...

http://mrgobley.blogspot.com/2005/10/dear-atheist-response-to-sam-harris.html

beepbeepitsme said...

RE asher:

You don't see a group of atheists visiting hospitals because they see no need to accumulate "heaven brownie points."

This doesn't mean that atheists don't have a social conscience, as like most people they do.

Bill Gates, the richest man in the world (I think, by last reckoning). is an atheist and I am sure that the millions of dollars he has donated to charities has built quite a few hospitals.