That’s right, it’s me. When I bought a new computer, I snapped a photo of myself to test the webcam.It captured a gravitas I often feel when I write or think about the bigger questions in life. So I used it for my Facebook profile photo. Then the abortive Iranian democratic revolution happened, and everyone was turning their photos and twitter icons green. I care about democracy and freedom, and I also care about green causes. So I did the same.
A couple days ago, Steve Larsen, a typical whackjob hard-core God-believer who was apparently in the orbit of my parents cult at one time friended me on FB. I accepted his invitation, even though I don’t remember him.
He started baiting me immediately after my first status update:
Oxymoron of the day: “Scientific doctrine.”
We then had a “debate.” The so-called spiritual seekers don’t take long to expose their biases and holier-than-thou attitudes. Mind you, these people claim to have transcended the ego, and to only be interested in peace, love and light. Funny how they demonstrate it. You be the judge. Here’s his haughty ‘spiritual’ kiss-off, with generous helpings of that pink fuzzy divine luurrrve:
…you have most unfortunately substituted all manner of illusion, pride, anger and arrogance to fill up the gaping hole in your soul. You chosen an identity that has nothing to do with who you really are. Sadly, you have become a messenger for the ego and the dualistic consciousness. Hence the green menacing face – it is the face of your anti-self which you could so easily surrender to your beautiful real self – but you would not.
You have so much attainment but you are spilling it on the ground and groundless beliefs.
Sean, get over being an atheist!
Check out the whole exchange below. It’s got it all: Question science. Claim God can’t be known but must be experienced. Bluster. Refuse to provide proof or concede a point. Ask why I’m so angry. Claim atheism is a religion. Argue from result. Invoke Hitler, Stalin, Mao. Claim science will discover the “Truth” someday. And finally claim I’m not in my right mind. The only thing he forgot was to claim I was possessed by demons.
These “debates” are nearly always a complete waste of time. The utter intransigence it takes to maintain faith plus the haughty believer self-image makes it impossible for most of them to budge. They’re not actually there to exchange ideas. They’re there to re-convince themselves of what they already believe, and to engage in moral bullying.
Perhaps one time out of twenty I’ve actually managed to get past their defenses and reach their buried rational mind. I’ve made a small handful of really good friends that way over the years. Either way, it’s good sport. So yee-haw for old times sake.
The ‘debate:’ All spelling errors in original (and there are always spelling errors):
SL: Here’s a thought for you. If there was something incorrect or incomplete about your ideas about science and religion, would you want to know?
BlackSun: That goes without saying.
SL: So if there was some proof of God existence (and I’m not saying what form that proof would have to take), you would accept it?
BlackSun: First you have to describe what you say when you mean God, (out of the thousands of different descriptions people have advanced over the years). Then we can talk about proof.
“I hope he’s got his face on, he’d better be a quick-change artist, suffer little children to make their mind up soon…”
SL: I know you’ll think this is a total cop-out, but one of the interesting things about God is that God is a self-transcending being, so you can’t put God in the limited box of mental definitions and derive some fixed idea about who God is. God has said “I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE” meaning that God reserves the right to transcend “his” being at any moment in time. This action of self transcendence of God in oneness with the self transcendence of of God’s co-creators creates a great movement upward in the universe where everyone and everything become More. Sean, I’m wondering if this were really true (and I know that’s nearly an impossible if for you to swallow) why would this be a bad thing?
BlackSun: The interesting thing about Horthon, prince of dark power is that Horthon is a self-transcending being, so you can’t put Horthon in the limited box of mental definitions and derive some fixed idea about who Horthon is. Horthon has said “I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE” meaning that Horthon reserves the right to transcend or descend “his” being at anyÂ moment in time depending on what he prefers that day. This action of self transcendence of Horthon in oneness with the self transcendence of of Horthon’s co-creators creates a great movement toward a more powerful ruthless universe where everyone and everything becomes Darker. Steve, I’m wondering if this were really true (and I know that’s nearly an impossible if for you to swallow) why would this be a bad thing?
Long live Horthon, Prince of Dark Power! Let us look forward to our eternal, infinite union with the Dark.
Steve, it doesn’t really matter what you or I think is a good or bad thing. Do you see the absurdity of what you are proposing?
SL: Perhaps the mind of materialistic cannot comprehend the things of the spirit. Sometimes it seems that such a mind, can be, in the words of Ian Anderson, “thick as a brick.”
BlackSun: Steve, are you f-ing kidding me? You have just completely conceded the argument. If the materialistic mind can’t comprehend it, then you can’t either, because you have a materialistic mind. Nice way to fall on your rhetorical sword, there, mate! I have had this conversation with hundreds of believers on hundreds of occasions, and it always ends up with the same, lame, vague, holier-than-thou self-justifications. ‘Cause ya got nothin’!
Everything I need to say on the subject has been said better and more comprehensively over at Black Sun Journal should you care. You’ve proved once again that when the believers’ cards are on the table it’s one gigantic bluff. Enjoy your fantasies, because that’s what they are. Sugar coated with intellectual dishonesty of the highest order. And you wonder why I accuse the spiritual of bad intent. Because they are running the biggest scam in human history–and you’ve chosen to be a part of it.
SL: As you my wish my friend, I admit I deliberately poked you a bit, because you are so deadly serious about your self and your beliefs. And of course you are quick to put me in the same box as every other so called believer – that’s the easy way.
I have one question which you certainly don’t have to answer to me.
Why are you so angry?
BlackSun: I thought you’d never ask. ;-) That’s usually the first tool in the apologetics kit. Because you believers have been getting away with murder for centuries, and your day is almost done. People are finally becoming unafraid to challenge the high priests and sacred cows. You won’t be taken seriously anywhere in a couple of generations. You’ve had your chance to promote unity and humanity, and instead you set the world on fire with conflict and division. You’ve set people at war with their own ego and their sexuality. The human race can’t survive your manipulations or pontifications any longer.
Remember what I said: I’m at peace with my dark side. I have no shame about anger, it’s a useful emotion to promote change. And change is coming. You think I’m angry, wait until you feel the white-hot rage of those yet unborn who will have to clean up the global mess magical pre-operational thinking has made. The old order is cracking and it will go down.
SL: It seems that were both sort of last word freaks so it may not be so easy signing off:). You know, the strange this is, I don’t see very much of anything I said said in what you are railing against. Beyond the obvious fundamentalist types, is it possible that your’re more or less on automatic pilot mode attacking staw men? Now regarding the whole anger thing, I can’t see it as a constructive tool for lasting positive change. It certainly has been a tool for negative change on both sides of the reliigious and materialists spectrum. On the religious side, I think you could call the Crusades, the Dark Ages and the Inquisitions a manifestatioin in part, of anger. On the materialist side, the purges of Stalin, Mao tse tung, and the evils of Hitler (though not a strict materialist) are also extreme manifestations of anger. Since both religion and materialism primarily offer closed systems, all change wrought by the anger in the systems will eventually collapse through Entropy.
BlackSun: No, you did what all believers do, which is to refuse to provide evidence or discuss rationally, then demean your opponent for not seeing the “Truth.” It’s only a baby step from this attitude to fundamentalism.
It takes a strong rational foundation and the rule of law to prevent human tragedies such as the examples you cited. Communism was practiced as a state religion. It was the suppression of evidence of systemic failure and the irrational devotion to leaders which allowed the carnage to take place.
SL: Sean, but don’t you see that atheism is a religion? As you yourself said you can’t prove a negative yet so much emotional and mental energy is spent by atheists doing just that.
I believe I have spoken very rationally, from a spiritual perspective, but it may not seem so from a material perspective, but as the two perspectives are on a continuum I don’t see any conflict at all.
As you know, Einstein proved that everything is, at it’s core, energy. If that’s true, then how big a leap is it to say that all was ultimately created out of energy and that energy might even be determined to be spiritual energy – which is energy defined as that which has a vibration above and beyond energy found in material realm? This may even someday be a testable hypothesis.
Now since you brought it up, I’ve noticed from my conversations with atheists, is that one of the greatest sins you can commit is perceived or actual “condescension.” Why so touchy about that?
BlackSun: Still tap dancing around the question of total lack of proof for your epistemology…tu quoque this time. “Atheism a religion.” If I had a nickel for every time I’d heard that one… Shows how little you must think of religion. Old arguments and waffling: “everything is energy…higher vibration…no conflict at all…might even be determined…may even someday be a testable hypothesis…”
HA! And you think new age is so much better than fundamentalism. Different degrees but still distract, delay, change the subject.
All your questions have been asked and answered by atheists years ago. You’re behind the times.
So deliver the goods already, or admit you’re bluffing. “May even someday be a testable hypothesis.” Just wow. I’ll have to remember that towering non-response. If that’s how you do science, no wonder you don’t think much of it.
Have some backbone, man. Right now you’re about like a weasel. Par for the course for a faith addict, I’m afraid. Get rational. Get sane. Please.
SL: I am not distracted by anything. I have told you what I believe. The only delay is to have proof for those who like yourself who need material proof. Though you think’s it hogwash it is truth that you can only prove God by experiencing God within yourself. That’s just the way the universe is. I didn’t make the rules but I do respect them.
The experiment IS replicatable, individual by individual, and I believe that one day millions and then billions of people on earth will prove this within themselves, and the earth will be transformed into a home of light and beauty, abundance and love – ever expanding.
What is your vision for an atheisitic world?
BlackSun: Belief is not meaningful. Only evidence. If you believe without or in spite of evidence, then you are self-deluded. If you refuse to discuss the lack of evidence, preferring instead to fall back on attacks on your opponent, then you are intellectually dishonest.
There is no proof within an individual. The only way to run an experiment is double blind.
You fail to show how belief and interior subjective stubbornness will bring about a world of light and love. So far it has wrought only bitter divisions.
My vision can’t be expressed in a few words, but it is a world where education is the 1st order of priority, where story and myth are kept in their proper roles, where tradition and authority are not given undue deference, where reason and science are respected as the arbiters of truth, where people focus on their human lives and set realistic achievable concrete goals for themselves. Further, where the full range of evolutionary human needs are expressed and fulfilled without guilt.
SL: There is much value in personal experience and observation. In fact, I would say a great deal of astronomy is based on observation, not experimentation – double blind or not. You seem to have a very narrow range of parameters through which truth can be ascertained.
One of the many downsides of such an approach is that you still have to rely on outer authorities (scientists) to tell you what is true, hence you can easily get caught up in idolatry. Science has a definite role in providing insight into the material universe but it is an inadequate instrument for discerning spiritual things. To do this, you need to use your built in capacity to know and understand truth – what Jesus called the “key of knowledge” We all have this ability, so why shouldn’t we use it for the betterment of ourselves and the world? And as I’ve said, once you have an experience of God within yourself, it s undeniable.
Sean, in all your years with the Summit, did you not even once experience this?
BlackSun: No. Not once. I saw fraud, pettiness, self-delusion, fantasy, waffling, convenient self-justification, power games, a complete lack of ethics and a series of epic scandals.
We have reached the end of useful conversation.
Still you play word games about astronomy. You know damn well what is and is not science. And it doesn’t have anything to do with authority. It has to do with the empirical method, and eliminating bias through rigorous procedure and multiple observers.
Cognitive biases are well-known. The more we understand about the mind, the more we realize how unreliable experience is. Systematic analysis is the only way to get to the heart of what is real. Everything you have ever experienced of “spirituality” took place as chemical transfers between neurons inside your skull. These feelings can be duplicated by electrical or chemical stimulation.
You are your brain and nothing more. All else is magical thinking.
Now, can I have the breath back I’ve wasted on you, please?
SL: I agree, nothing more to be said as you have most unfortunately substituted all manner of illusion, pride, anger and arrogance to fill up the gaping whole in our soul. You chosen an identity that has nothing to do your who you really are. Sadly, you have become a messenger for the ego and the dualistic consciousness. Hence the green menacing face – it is the face of your anti-self which you could so easily surrender to your beautiful real self – but you would not.
You have so much attainment but you are spilling it on the ground and groundless beliefs.
Sean, get over being an atheist!
Update: Sadly this conversation hasn’t changed at all over the years. All conversation with God-believers ends the same way. Arguments from ignorance, special pleading, claims about personal experience, and ad hominem attacks. Recently I wrote an article called “Beliefs About God Won’t Make You Moral,” or “God Doesn’t Matter.” Because it’s not the choice between God-belief and atheism that determines someone’s ethics. There are extremely ethical believers, and there are atheists who behave badly. What matters is whether someone understands the importance of secularism, and is willing to challenge unearned hierarchy and support universal human rights. To be accountable. Generally God-belief predisposes people into thinking that there’s a certain natural pecking order, and people should remain “in their place” on the conservative moral hierarchy, which I discuss in the article. Whereas atheism generally results in the understanding that we’re all mortal mammals trying to create the best solutions for ourselves. And that life is precious because it’s limited and there are no do-overs. I continue to promote atheism because the most likely conclusion given the facts we know about our history, is that we evolved naturally with no creator. That’s strong encouragement for us all to work together to solve our own problems. –Sean Prophet, September 2022