Who would want to be a soulless atheist meat-machine?

I was taking part in a discussion where a Christian asked for Atheists to respond to a simple question; “Why is it so hard for you to love Jesus?”.

In amongst all the face-palming and careful running around in circles, a new reply appeared from Ubiquitous Che which made me stop and think about the wonder of it all in one of those brief moments we all have from time to time. Not since Sagan’s “Pale Blue Dot” monologue (the awe it inspires still can bring a lump to my throat) has anything grabbed me so bodily and forced my attention. It is a beautiful read. Wisely he has reposted the essay on his blog: rhetoric sans pareil. Give it a read and be inspired.

~ by James on 13 November 2008.

10 Responses to “Who would want to be a soulless atheist meat-machine?”

  1. Holy shit… Carl Sagan? Seriously?

    Thank you!


    Sometimes I’m not sure whether or not something I’ve done is as good as I think it is. I had a feeling that post on nevi’s blog might be worth a repost. Glad to know I’m not the only one.

  2. Oh, and it’s ‘he’ – although I’m pleased that that particular essay came over as gender-ambiguous.

  3. Thanks for posting the essay UC, I’ve updated the post with the right gender specific pronoun.

  4. Thanks for the post James. Awesome sentiments. I added my 2 cents worth.

  5. Hi Bullitt,

    I liked your comment on the discussion at Nevigrof’s blog and I didn’t want to hijack your idea. It is a great example that you provide. I have often thought about firemen and paramedics who stand by and listen to rescued individuals who praise god and ignore their rescuers who are metres away, working hard to save them.

    I was also thinking, specifically around your example is that the wedding probably would not have happened if it was a private, personal prayer for help from their god to finance the wedding – it requires a community to recognise that they have sent a prayer to god. How is it that all the people of the congregation who donated to their cause actually knew that they had prayed?

    I imagine those tea-and-biscuit socials after the service where they are standing around in groups when the future groom lets slip that “I’m really looking forward to marrying Jenny, but it will be tough financially. I have prayed to god and I have faith he will deliver a wedding for us.”

    Wow, undeniable proof of celestial intervention there!

    Hmmm, maybe I should look at my tone a little closer. There should be a “Submit Comment” and “Now Really Submit Comment” button.

  6. LOL. My [sarky tone] [/sarky tone] markers around the second last sentence were deleted by WordPress.

  7. Thanks for the link to Ubiquitous Che’s comment – it was an eloquent and inspired comment.

    I just wanted to add to your comment about paramedics and fireman who have to listen to people give credit to a god instead of giving them the credit their brave and sometimes heroic deeds. My brother was involved in a horrific car accident earlier this year and I was told he wouldn’t make it through the night. He was taken to Baragwanath hospital. Thanks to the trauma doctor on duty, he pulled through. However that was just the beginning of a very long haul. I was told the brain injuries he sustained were very bad (they couldn’t distinguish grey matter from white matter on the MRI), and I was told that my brother would be in a vegetative state for the rest of his life, if he lived. To cut a very long story short, my brother’s recovery would be described as a “miracle”. Once he was moved from ICU to the surgical ward at Bara, I took him out – the wards there are horrendous – but that’s another long story. I brought him home and looked after him as best I could and until the family had arranged for enough money to have him admitted to a good rehab centre. The point of this long winded story is this: I had so many people say it was thanks to god for his miracle that my brother survived, to which I very quickly answer that it was thanks to the expert care of the trauma specialist, the ICU doctors and the rehabilitation hospital that my brother survived. If god had any part to play, why would he have allowed the accident happen in the first place; or why bother to train doctors, paramedics, firemen etc – we could just leave it all in gods hands. That kind of thinking really does annoy me.

  8. Thank you for sharing that very personal story, I imagine that it isn’t something that is easy to talk about because it involves the emotional relationship with your brother. If I was to talk about a story like this it would appear disingenuous because it would not be a personal story but a “hypothetical scenario”. Someone would easily refute my version of this story by saying that god would never allow such a thing to happen in the first place or that the hypothetical people were suffering because of a “plan”.

    And I notice that you didn’t give yourself credit for the excellent love and attention that you have put into his recovery. It would be well deserved credit, should you allow yourself.

    By way of moral support I can only think of an Afrikaans expression … “Sterkte” and keep up the good work.

  9. Yeah James, they had made no secret of their financial woes (not that they broadcasted it). I’m sure it would have come up in their bible study groups and at church as well (in spoken prayers and casual conversation), especially considering his prominence in the church. The firefighter/doctor/paramedic example is a classic example of misdirected credit (not that they seek it).

    Skeptic Blacksheep, I cannot imagine how tough your situation must be. I would like to echo James’ comments in the previous post. Great work!

  10. Hi James and Bullitt, thanks for the kind words – I did what I did because I love my brother and it was important for me to do what ever I could to help him lead a “normal” life. It was a difficult decision to post something so personal, I am by nature a very private person, but I felt it would contribute something to the discussion. It was also made easier by the fact that my brother is doing very well.

    Believe me I’ve heard all the alternative theories as to why and how my brother survived, sometimes I manage to deal with them patiently and with understanding of where the person is coming from, other times it just sets off a lot of anger.
    It just saddens me that we are so quick to attribute our greatness, and the immeasurable evil we are capable of, to invisible beings or forces.

    James, you really made me smile with your offer of moral support by using the afrikaans word, “sterkte”. I have a friend that lives in Indiana and she was going through a very bad patch a couple of years ago, her mom was dying – it was expected, she had been ill for a long time. The only thing I could think of to say to her was….”vasbyt”. I had to teach her how to say it, but she has never forgotton it and whenever things get tough for either one of us, we say….Vasbyt.
    Thanks for the smile šŸ™‚


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