A Strange Hope

Some of atheists’ best arguments are only valid against the most condescending and superficial of religious beliefs… Any Creator God who would go through the trouble of granting us free-will would no doubt do it with the intention of us eventually becoming self-sufficient. So—if this Creator God were to show up and magically solve all our problems—our peace would be meaningless. Self-accountability has to be the highest priority of a sentient species. God’s only moral obligation to us would be to EDUCATE us—which is exactly where Jesus & pals come in. PEOPLE turned those characters into something that had to be worshiped without question. Of course it’s fair to ask where we make the distinction between ‘the Word of God’ and the corruption of man. All I can say is that self-accountability is the highest of virtues.

Obviously there are religious institutions that would love nothing more than for us to become mindless drones, so they put emphasis on obedience rather than autonomy. Emphasis on obeying rules rather than explaining the morality behind the rules—and I think we all know why authority figures would rather put a premium on obedience over morality. But of course that’s not an issue exclusive to the world of religion. In fact, some of atheists’ best arguments are equally valid against GOVERNMENT. If you think your government is the one, true government, then the logic follows that you would kill and die for it. In fact, isn’t there a greater moral imperative to do away with government considering that, in contrast to religion, there is nowhere on earth where you are free to live without it?

Not that you can actually ‘do away’ with any hierarchy (at least not with the means you’re thinking of)—because the fundamental issue to all our problems is an ANIMAL INSTINCT to conform to external forces; thus dividing humanity into ‘leaders’ & ‘followers’. Leaders then create problems to justify their role and followers allow it to happen because they’re psychologically invested in being submissive. SO! Self-accountablity, especially in terms of morality, is the only way create real, lasting peace. In other words—blame biology, not the meme.

And if you think religious people go to church for any reason other than the same reason atheists congregate at coffee shops then you don’t understand human nature. We all need to socialize and share values. Which in itself is necessary and good. But you’ll never unite the world through something that insists ‘truth’ lies outside one’s self—you’ll never unite the world through conformity to external forces, because it disregards the fact we experience reality differently. FACT. And conformity, by necessity, negates self-accountability—why think for myself when this text book or bible can do it for me? And once you’ve conformed the next logical step is to try to make others conform as well, and we all know where that leads (SEE WORLD HISTORY AND/OR THE INTERNET).

In one study conducted at the University of Rochester, researchers tracked 150 recent college grads and monitored their goals and reported levels of happiness. They compared the rates at which the graduates achieved both extrinsic and intrinsic rewards and concluded:

“The attainment of extrinsic, or ‘American Dream’ goals — money, fame, and being considered physically attractive by others — does not contribute to happiness at all. In fact, they reported, far from creating well-being, achieving extrinsic rewards actually does contribute to some ‘ill-being.’ If we let our desire for more and more extrinsic rewards monopolize our time and attention, it prevents us from engaging in autotelic activities that would actually increase our happiness.” —source

Now wouldn’t the search for ‘objective truth’, and the subsequent quest to make people conform to it fall into the category of ‘extrinsic rewards’? However, we have this sassy comment to consider…

The fact that a believer is happier than a sceptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality.”—George Bernard Shaw

But I think the quality of life is very much “THE POINT”. If not then we really don’t anything more to discuss… like ever. Of course I’m not suggesting we disregard scientific inquiry, quite the contrary, the scientific method should be employed by EVERYONE—as long as it’s kept in its proper context; that of a GAME… just like religion should be.

Actually, science & religion both provide useful theories—for example—All Matter is made of Energy, Energy is made of Information, and Information is Alive (LOGOS); therefore Reality is Consciousness, God is real, and psychic powers are inevitable. But don’t take my ‘word’ for it (yuk yuk yuk)—experiment with your own Consciousness and decide for… yourself!

Ah, Thank You.>>

Until next time, stay ignorant : )_p

This strange hope has been brought to you by


The Greatest Work of Art You Create is Yourself!



R. Talmadge Lacy

Well, my dad was a carpenter.>>

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74 Comments on "A Strange Hope"

  1. Me: “I think of God as the seemingly empty space that contains and interpenetrates reality.”
    Atheist: “Bwa! You probably believe in the Flying Spaghetti monster too! What a credulous fucktard!”

    • Boo_Radley | Nov 7, 2012 at 3:01 pm |

      “I think of God as the seemingly empty space that contains and interpenetrates reality.”

      So? How is an undetectable god better than no god?

      • Ted Heistman | Nov 7, 2012 at 4:00 pm |

        You are unable to detect empty space? Can you detect the tension between polarities or the relationships between seemingly discreet objects or entities?

        • Boo_Radley | Nov 8, 2012 at 9:16 am |

          Yes. Yes. So what? Why would I leap from those things to a supreme being? Sometimes empty space is just empty space.

          • So….That’s my opinion. What? I know You want me to say “I can prove God exists, its right there in the King James Bible!!!!”
            But I am not going to. Because that’s not my opinion.

          • “Sometimes empty space is just empty space”

            This is the “wrongest” statement ever uttered.

    • bobbiethejean | Nov 7, 2012 at 10:15 pm |

      Me (atheist): I don’t know if there are any gods out there but I do not believe there are.

      Believer: You have to have faith! I have faith that there is a magic, invisible being interpenetrating my reality!

      Me: Hey, man, whatever goes on in your bedroom is between you and whoever you’re interpenetrating, I don’t need to hear about it.

      • Experiencing gods (or whatever you would like to call them) has very little to do with belief, but with your perceptual faculties, and the cognitive assumptions underlying them. All experience is determined by the models imprinted on your braincells by your respective culture. There is no fixed material world “out there”: “Nothing is, everything is becoming.” (Heraclitus)

        • bobbiethejean | Nov 8, 2012 at 9:13 am |

          I call straight up shenanigans on that idea. It’s carte blanch to say “anything can happen.” At that point, why bother believing anything at all?

          I’d say it’s a pretty fixed reality that the Earth is an oblate spheroid, not flat. Yet flat-Earthers abound in the face of empirically and mathematically proven roundness of the Earth. Do their “perceptual faculties” mean the Earth is actually, literally flat to them? Even if that were true, how would we prove it?

          We must operate on the assumption that the universe has laws and constants, even if those laws and constants are just a matter of our perception. Otherwise, again, anything could happen and that’s not a world in which anything can be truly known.

          • Our perceptions are not independent of our nervous systems. That’s a scientific fact. We don’t see through our eyes, but with our brains. There is no external world in an absolute sense, but this does not imply that “anything goes”. There are still borders and limits to what we can experience, and those limits are biological, conceptual and cultural, not material.

            Today we experience the world as a sphere in vast space, and this experience is reality for us. It’s as real as it gets, the best world-model that the brain produces in this day and age. But it’s still “just” a model created by the human nervous system. We live inside models, inside language, like fish live in water. There is no absolute “real” earth apart from our perceptions of it. Esse est percipi, as Berkeley noted.

            You are of course correct in that we must operate on the assumption of an observer-independent material world “out there”, ruled by “laws”. But that is just a practical superstition, based on our need for communication and cooperation.

          • 1) There are neurons in our eyes, so they are part of our nervous system.
            2) The fact that we don’t perceive the external world with 100% accuracy doesn’t mean it exists any less than we do. (I, for one, sleep every night, and my conscious self ceases to exist.)
            3. The biological is, at least mostly, material.

          • 1) The eyes are part of the nervous system, but that does not contradict my assertion about our inability to see through the eyes.

            2) We do not perceive the external world inaccurately, we have no direct access to a supposedly external world at all. No shape, no colour, no sound, no smell, no substance. Even light, as we experience it, is not external. As a matter of fact, there are no “we” or “I” at all, residing inside the head, looking out on external things. It’s just a world, changing from moment to moment, and nobody is watching.

            3) Depends on what you mean by “material”. If you mean our perceptions, then you are right. But if you mean some mysterious external “stuff”, independent of our experiences, then you are, not necessarily wrong, but speculating.

          • Every philosophical and scientific idea or theory that has ever been proposed, becomes inconsistent if one stretches it too far. It is possible to refute anything. The hypotheses about the world being a creation of the nervous system, is of course also a model, with it’s own specific limits (“how can a material object generate a material world? How can the brain generate itself? etc.”) Deep down the world is not rational, so our endeavour to make rational sense of things, is doomed to bite itself in the tail.

          • Seems to me that casts more doubt upon our minds than it does the existence of something beyond our minds.

          • That is a fully legitimate point of view.

          • bobbiethejean | Nov 8, 2012 at 6:20 pm |

            I think the opposite. I think the universe is rational and we are too irrational, limited, and shortsighted to make sense of it. I could be wrong though. These would be fascinating subjects to discuss with a round table of physicists. 😀

          • The opinion of the universe as being fundamentally rational, is actually in some sense a religious view. It’s the basis of the religious views of people like Spinoza and Einstein.

            Most phycisists are not at all concerned with questions like the ones we are discussing. As a matter of fact most of them avoid the “bigger questions”, even despises them. They are tangled up in their little worlds of atomism/reductionism, and are at the moment busy spending trillions of dollars trying to verify the existence of the “Higgs boson”. Had any of them taken the time to read the writings of Bohr, Heisenberg or Schroedinger, they might have come to the realization that trying to find the “ultimate building block of matter” is like trying to find the the tail of a moebius strip.

          • bobbiethejean | Nov 9, 2012 at 9:18 am |

            [Most phycisists are not at all concerned] How do you know that? Have you personally discussed this with most physicists on the planet? That’s a lot of physicists. I’m fairly sure Michio Kaku, Lawrence Krauss, Steven Hawking, and Niel DeGrasse Tyson would beg to differ seeing as how they talk about these kinds of matters all the time. Not this specifically, but subjects in this vein. Granted, that’s just a small number of people. But you shouldn’t make such sweeping statements if you don’t know most physicists.

            [Bohr, Heisenberg or Schroedinger] Most of how we got to where we are, technologically speaking, was because of scientific curiosity. Maybe YOU, in your almighty importance, don’t think verifying the Higgs Boson is important but I’d trust the judgment of the scientists over some random person on the internet. What if a game-changing understanding or technology would have come from these experiments but didn’t because people like you didn’t think it was important to try?

            As for my “belief” that the universe being rational is a religious view: nonsense. Anyone can call anything a religious view. That doesn’t make it religious even if it does happen to coincidentally congrue with what a religious philosopher thinks. I believe the universe MIGHT be rational because it appears to be that way, at least to me. If it isn’t rational, then it isn’t. That has no implications in my life that I’m aware of.

          • If you think I’m being a pompous ass, fine. I’m just speaking my mind.

            Rationality implies some kind of mind. If you think the universe is fundamentally rational, what you are actually saying is there is some kind of “universal mind” behind the regularities and “laws” we are experiencing. That is a completely legitimate idea, of which (as i mentioned) both Spinoza and Einstein subscribed to. But it most definitely has a religious flavour to it. Why should that be a problem?

            Personally, I don’t think verifying the Higgs boson is important at all. Physicists are not sages or priests, irrespective of our tendencies to idolize and put them on pidestals. Actually, most physicists are just as clueless as the average technician or academic. They are people with jobs, who like their funding, and Higgs boson is a great fundraiser. Atomism and reductionism is a fallacy, something the founders of modern physics realised a long time ago. Using trillions on dabbling into another particle is just madness. The world is not made up of “material particles”.

            Here are some quotes from the founders of modern physics (except the last one), just to illustrate my point:

            “Physics is to be regarded not so much as the study of something a priori given, but rather as the development of methods of ordering and surveying human experience.”
            “There is no quantum world. There is only an abstract physical description. It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how nature is. Physics concerns what we can say about nature.” – Niels Bohr

            “What we observe is not nature itself but nature exposed to our method of questioning. Our scientific work in physics consists in asking questions about nature in the language that we possess and trying to get an answer from experiment by the means that are at our disposal.”
            “[T]he atoms or elementary particles themselves are not real; they form a world of potentialities or possibilities rather than one of things or facts.” – Werner Heisenberg

            “The doctrine that the world is made up of objects whose existence is independent of human consciousness turns out to be in conflict with quantum mechanics and with facts established by experiment.” – Bernard d’Espagnat

          • One might suppose that “mind” is a result of “rationality” and not vice versa.

          • Yes I guess one might suppose that.

          • OMG THANK YOU!!! Some of the materialist here on Disinfo need a good education about the hallucination they see as life. Your going on my top 10 favorite commenters list. 🙂

          • The biological is composed of atoms, which are mostly empty space.

          • bobbiethejean | Nov 8, 2012 at 11:12 am |

            [There is no external world in an absolute sense]

            That is a positive assertion. Even if it is true, you’d still have to prove it or at least posit a testable, falsifiable, predictive hypothesis.

          • “There is an external world” and “there is no external world” are both untestable assertions. There is no way we can validate any of them. Nothing that I say is absolutely true. I’m just exposing you to my own view of the world.

          • > Nothing that I say is absolutely true.

            Is that absolutely true?

          • Calypso_1 | Nov 8, 2012 at 4:34 pm |


          • Just because you are able to spot certain self-references and inconsistencies in my statements, does not mean that my overall view is meaningless. The intellect is not able to grasp existence in it’s totality. It has to slice the world up in pieces of polarity. Every statement contains it’s own opposite. That is the reason why no idea or theory will ever be unrefutable. Personally I have found “model-relativism”, or complementarity, as Niels Bohr called it, to be very liberating. It also opens up for tolerance towards other “reality tunnels”.

          • I disagree.

          • I see.

          • bobbiethejean | Nov 8, 2012 at 6:16 pm |

            Well it is an interesting view, that’s for sure. And while the “external world” idea is no more provable than the “no external world” idea (as far as I know- this is a question I’d love to ask Steven hawking), here’s my stance: We have no choice but to assume the “external world” idea is true until proven otherwise because there is no reason to believe there is no external world. It could be true for all I know but it is untestable, non-predictive, and non-falsifiable (at the moment) which is why I do not believe it. I do however accept that it could possibly be true.

      • This is what these conversations are like to me. Its like trying to have a conversation about cheese with a person who has only eaten processed American cheese and has adopted the position “cheese sucks”
        So that’s fine but then they are like “You like cheese? You must be an idiot! Cheese tatstes like plastic!”

        • Calypso_1 | Nov 8, 2012 at 4:24 pm |

          Maybe they are eating a waxed rind?

        • bobbiethejean | Nov 8, 2012 at 6:27 pm |

          I apologize if I was any part of that. I have several unfortunate complexes/character flaws I am trying to work out. Among them are belligerence and impatience towards what I “see” as flagrant disregard for the scientific method.

          The fact is, I don’t know. I admit that. I don’t know if you really have psychic powers or if there is a god or souls or any of that. But I don’t believe. Clearly you do. Ultimately, I think it is more important that people like us have these conversations than for both sides to focus on proving each other wrong.

          I know I don’t often come across that way but I’m trying.

          • Well you’re sweet. I actually enjoy a lot of our conversations. I think its kind of like one of those vase things that illustrate negative space. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_space
            As a skeptic you focus on the hard facts of the solid vase and as a mystic I focus more on the negative space and what you can intuit from it. So you need both.
            and if the vase was defined in a really fuzzy way it wouldn’t work!

  2. Hierarchy probably is an animal instinct, but I mean not so much an instinct per se but an organizing principle of biology in general. I am trying to get this book out in an inter-library loan http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del,_Escher,_Bach

    I suspect this Hofstadter guy has some interesting things to say regarding this. I am waiting for “I am a strange loop” to arrive Which is interesting given the subject matter of this topic because it contains the phrase “I am”

    • Calypso_1 | Nov 8, 2012 at 7:22 am |

      You have already read G.E.B.?

      • No, not really. I got it out of the library before and was just able to skim through it before I had to turn it back in. Now I am getting it out again.

        • Calypso_1 | Nov 8, 2012 at 4:11 pm |

          Have fun with that book. : ) It’s worth owning too – classic. quite a mind bender. a masterwork of mental mayhem. not an easy cover to cover read (doesn’t necessarily have to be read in that format) but something you can delve into your entire life & always adjust your current level of thinking to. If you get this one down it will become part of your mental framework (actually it all ready is) for years to come.

          • Yeah, looking forward to it. I just might buy a copy since the inter libray loan will take 3 or 4 weeks to get here. I am getting impatient.

            Anyway this is the kind of stuff I am into. This book was really good too I recently read :
            I’m also reading this again: “The shield of Achilles : War, peace, and the course of history” by
            Philip Bobbitt.
            So maybe you can kind of see where I am headed with my thinking.

          • Calypso_1 | Nov 8, 2012 at 5:15 pm |

            I’ve never tried to read GEB with my attention towards broader structures in civilization.

            I just finished a years study of Deleuze & Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus and have a bunch of notes that would be fun to mix up with GEB and see what comes out.

            The ideas all about meta->Meta levels ad infinitum until they feedback is what got me started on studying cybernetics & emergent phenomenon.

            Come to think of it, I believe GEB has been one of the single most influential books that I’ve ever read…I grafted a whole lot of knowledge and study onto the places it opened up in my mind.

          • Just checked two used book stores. They don’t have it! Crap! Well that’s awesome I definately want to read it now. I am on the hunt!

          • kowalityjesus | Nov 8, 2012 at 11:59 pm |

            $10 bucks used out the door on Amazon. The best things in life really are quite cheap.

    • I think if you are patient with it G.E.B. will be a very rewarding experience for you.

      In my experience it is not a book to be rushed. Don’t be alarmed if you haven’t finished it even after a year.

      In fact, I went back and read a few books so that I could read a book or two that would better help me appreciate G.E.B.

      I jest not.

    • kowalityjesus | Nov 8, 2012 at 3:42 pm |

      I find the prospect of such a book to be doomed from the outset. We know so very little about the life of J.S. Bach. What we know of his philosophy is found primarily through his musical works. I am of the impression that “talking about music is like dancing about architecture” (variously attributed) Therefore I think this will be a series of boring superlatives.

      That the book seems to be so prolific and critically acclaimed piques my interest.

      • Calypso_1 | Nov 8, 2012 at 4:05 pm |

        I thought he was referring to another title by same author (I am a strange loop), but GEB is an incredible work. It’s insights are so multifaceted, the work itself not only provides unique insight into Bach (through his music) but takes those insights into the very structure of the writing itself weaving them through math theory, consciousness, perception and whimsy.

  3. kowalityjesus | Nov 7, 2012 at 2:16 pm |

    This is a decidedly ascendant article, if I can yet hesitate to apologize for its secularism. Perhaps the one major point that the author failed to point out is that God so designed the universe that intelligent beings who cooperated and HELPED ONE ANOTHER would find a shortcut to “enlightenment” just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Matthew 20:28

    That being said, if you want a motherfucking autotelic phenomenon, check this out http://soundcloud.com/monstercatmedia/rundfunk-turn-around EDM FTW

    • See, now that’s the kind of Christianity I can live with.

      • “All god’s children they all gotta die ”


        • kowalityjesus | Nov 8, 2012 at 2:53 pm |

          I can’t tell whether that song is more morbid, cynical, or naive. I prefer my music without words, generally.

          • Big fan of the organ?

          • kowalityjesus | Nov 8, 2012 at 3:56 pm |

            I had a friend who was crazy about Nick Cave and I went to see The Proposition with him, which I found to be quite an excellent movie. Never understood the appeal of any of his music, or the other culture surrounding him.

            The organ is designed to be the apogee of classical solo instruments, with multiple manuals and a pedal set as well as different timbres. I admire those who play it, as I cannot command more than one manual, although it seems to give them an ego based on “my mind is greater than yours, for I resurrect SATB harmony with just my personal faculties.”

            Actually I take it back, words that I can understand have the greatest tendency to ruin music for me. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gRnQ0iNoCU&feature=BFa&list=PL4E1226575C0BE521

          • Calypso_1 | Nov 8, 2012 at 4:22 pm |

            Have you every heard this?


            -Two of the most exquisite voices on the planet in a lament that verges on soul rendering.

          • kowalityjesus | Nov 8, 2012 at 4:56 pm |

            hmmm, nice. not something I would have sought out, but thank you for sharing.

          • I was going to comment that this sounds surprisingly like “Dead Can Dance”, then I realized that the female vocalist is from “Dead Can Dance”.

            Lize/Lisa Gerrard.

            I’ve always preferred Jarboe from the Swans, but there’s no denying the incredible emotional power of Gerrard.

            Gerrard is almost certainly the better singer, but Jarboe means more to me for a variety of other reasons.

            If you enjoy the song you linked, then you may also enjoy DCD. Here’s a link to their version of “The Wind that Shakes the Barley”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nD2y_thDWHY Which is really just her singing a capella.

            You can just do a search for “Dead Can Dance” on youtube to find most of their songs. They’ve got quite a few. If you’d like “a place to start”, I’ll provide you with the names of some of the songs I prefer.

          • Calypso_1 | Nov 9, 2012 at 2:49 am |

            : ) I’ve been listening to DCD since their first album & all of Gerrard’s work since.

            I put up the link because the potency of vocal music without understandable lyrics was mentioned.
            Granted this track was in Breton but Gerrard has such a highly developed sense of emotive, proto/trans-language that her work immediately came to mind.

  4. I’ve always said that an atheist who was a statist was not an atheist at all. All they are doing is substituting one delusion for another.

  5. I’ve felt for a long time that if a “supreme being” was truly (a) God, that being would want to be able to be invisible to the world – and that the world would be able to run without constant support or interference from Him (or Her or Them, based on your belief system). This article adds a key point to that: that His key creation should be able to live independent of Him if they should so choose.

    I also believe that such a God would want most to be loved – and be loved by someone who could most easily hate Him or choose to ignore Him (or even declare Him nonexistent).

    -a believing agnostic

  6. DeepCough | Nov 8, 2012 at 1:32 am |

    If I had to pick anything to be the “Atheist Credo,” it probably have to be this:

    “If God did not exist, it would seem necessary to invent him.” ~Voltaire

  7. "Big" Richard Johnson | Nov 8, 2012 at 3:37 am |

    This all sounds rather seditious. That would be unfortunate.

  8. I applaud your effort to summarize a concept that most people do not understand. I hope that you, yourself are not disheartened by the skeptics and ignorant who criticize this article. You are right. The meaning of life is not in whether or not a person believes in god or government. Meaning in life can only be measured by a person’s perceived peace of mind. To attempt to quantify that which can only be qualified is a path to despair. True happiness cannot be measured, only felt.

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