Not That Important

One of the first things I learned after I bought my motorcycle was to always watch my rear when stopped at a traffic light. I would keep the bike in gear and look in my mirrors to make sure the car behind me was slowing down to a stop. If not, I would be ready to maneuver out of the way. Getting rear ended on a motorcycle is so dangerous for the rider that it’s a simple precaution you take to stay safe. But I never do that in my car, and I don’t know anyone who does.

Three years ago I met Jen through a friend of mine. We developed a rapport where I would give her advice, especially on how to get this one guy she really liked. She was always very kind to me. Eventually I lost touch with her and she pursued a graduate degree to become a therapist.

On Thursday night she was sitting in her car at a red light. Her passenger was a guy she just started dating. A drunk driver did not see the traffic light and plowed into her car, killing both her and her date.

It’s inevitable that a lot of people will tell her family that she is “in a better place now.” Unfortunately she is not. Everything that you are, that makes you you, and gives you this state of consciousness to know that you are a different being from everything else on the planet, resides in your brain. Once you die and the cells in your brain die, it’s game over. The only good part about dying, I guess, is that you will never know you are dead. It will be just like before you were born. If you don’t make the history books or leave a collection of written works, you will live on in the memories of those who were close to you until they die themselves. And even if you do leave a legacy, you will never know the impact you made. No matter how happy or fulfilling of a life you live, or how rich or poor you become, it will end the same for all of us. We should all be grateful of consciousness, but cursed by it as well. I have never known real suffering, but knowing your existence will end can’t be far from it.

The more I become a student of life, the harder it is to come to the conclusion that a supreme being is guiding the course of man with a meaningful grand plan. Our lives are governed more by random events, by statistical probabilities, than something that leads to a final purpose. In the cosmic scale of things, our lives are not even a blink of the eye. If life was a chess match, not only would we not be the pieces, but we would barely be the speck of dust on the chess board itself. While our lives have no real meaning, this consciousness makes us believe that we are special, enough to keep us alive and continue life for the next generation. That’s all life is. Jen had 24 years of life and I’m sure she gave it the best she could, but I know she didn’t expect to go so soon. If she was in one lane over, she would be alive right now. If such a trivial decision decides whether two human beings continue their existence or not, life definitely cannot be that important.

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Der MacJohnMr. PointyfaceAreaManSnowleopard Recent comment authors
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our lives are governed more by random events, by statistical probabilities, than something that leads to a final purpose. He writes?this after learning of the death of a 24-year-old-woman in an accident. This well written post, titled Not that Important, has drawn more than 60 comments. DC Drinks is sponsoring an End-of-Prohibition party at Billy Martin’s Tavern Tuesday, Dec. 5. The party, according to DC Drinks, will continue to Dec. 6. It’s an ad hoc celebration.?An excerpt: For teetotalers

HeidiChick
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HeidiChick
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Amen Brother.

Sorry to hear that news.

KassyK
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KassyK
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Great post. smile

Anonymous
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Anonymous
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Jen that worked with you?

Stephen (VA)
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Stephen (VA)
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In my junior year at Georgia Tech, I took on class on the rherotic of economics. In that class was a bright, attractive, happy girl named Molly. In that first day of class, Molly broke down crying when Prof Z called on her (necessitating her participation in class discussion). It turns out Molly feared public speaking.

Prof Z, and the rest of the class, was supportive. As the semester went by, Molly got to be comfortable answering Prof Z’s questions, and then to debating with other students. We (her and I) even had quite the rousing conversation at the local coffeehouse one night, involving alot of other people in a debate. This was something that 3 months prior, she would not have been able to do.

At the end of the semester, Molly was going home when he car suffered a freak control failure, and she slammed into a tree, killing her. As Molly and I were somewhat close, I went down to her funeral, and, overcome by emotion, had to leave before the ceremony ended. Dead bodies freak me out, but something else didn’s settle well.

A year prior, I had been involved in a freak control failure accident heading to Austin, TX. However, myself and my friend survived without injury, despite the car splitting in two.

Why does one survive and another die? Either you attribute no meaning at all, or you attribute meaning. I think when you lose someone, you want to think it meaningless, especially at such a young age. I think that when you miraculously survive, you want to treat it as meaningful.

Be as it may that we are sand specks on the beach, our lives are still important, and still meaningful, even when they are ended much too shortly. To suggest otherwise would be an acceptance of living of life of nothing-ness, since nothing would matter in that worldview.

Molly died, but her life wasn’t unimportant. 17 strangers bonded over her triumph against her fears, and those 17 people in some ways learned how to combat theirs. Heartbroken, but resolved, Molly’s sister came to GaTech the next year, and helped by 17 strangers she did not know, she flourished at Tech. I believe she graduated by now, and that is a very loud testimonial to the indominability of the human spirit.

Anonymous
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Anonymous
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Life is like currency… a dollar bill is really just a piece of paper unless people believe it has meaning.

MORPHEUS
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MORPHEUS
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We all live in a matrix dude. Right now your real body is on a spaceship cruising the worlds sewers. You have friends there, don’t be fooled. When your phone rings, pick it up and you’ll see what i’m talking about….

Prozac Jones
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Prozac Jones
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Death is Certain, Life is Not………

Anonymous
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Anonymous
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Read Mere Christianity. It is the “thinking” man’s book to the grand question of life after death. Step by step logic from one of the greatest philosphers of all time, C.S. Lewis.

Recovering Overachiever
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Sorry to hear about your friend.
You raise a lot of really interesting questions. Great post.

dcdevel
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dcdevel
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I hear you on both counts: I’ve had both friends and family die suddenly AND been rear-ended on a motorbike (carrying a passenger too). In the case of the rear end, not only was nobody hurt but I didn’t even drop the bike. What’s this mean? Absolutely nothing; when your number is up it’s up, and yes, it totally sucks. Does this imply there’s no meaning in life and it’s not important? No. It’s as important as you the individual make it. Is it sometimes random? Yes. The fact that you’re blogging about her shows she’s made an impression on at least on other person (you), and that person cared about her. That’s important.

yoda
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yoda
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Deep like, ssssooooooooooooo that was.

Roissy
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Roissy
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life is a chaos of nothing with no meaning other than to fuck.
there is no purpose.
there is no magical karmic retribution.
there is no grand plan.
if there is a god he is an indifferent voyeur at best and a cruel malevolent sithlord at worst.

“when your number is up it’s up”

you can reduce your chances of your number being up by not driving. lessee, how many americans died in iraq since the start of the war? 2500? now how many americans died in cars in the past year alone?
40 fucking thousand.
the average person is more afraid of snakes and spiders than driving because we have not had enough time co-evolving with cars to acquire a proper fear and respect of them as well.

Der Mac
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Der Mac
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Did you bother to count the number of Iraqis? What people should be is afraid of the puppets pulling the Americans’ strings.

Tampa
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Tampa
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The debate is this world really all centers around a guy named Jesus….and did he actually rise from the dead.. Most of the other stuff you read about the navigations and trials are actually true. The guy was here. The guy did do things. They had 6-8 guys who wrote about him. He was tried and crucified. The only argument is over whether he rose from the dead. That is really the backbone of the christian faith. If he did — there is a supreme being. If he didn’t — they were all just a bunch of pot smoking — trippin hippies. I guess you will know when the car slams into the back of you. You can’t really fear death. It is life’s ultimate common denominator. I do like to think that someone magical created this incredible planet. Its really hard for me to believe that those great oceans — those huge mountains… the symphoney of the seasons all just happened in a “big bang.” If you look around and just observe the magical musical of mankind it is quite breathtaking. Hard to imagine it just being a coincidence.

But then again – -I am no priest.

Namaste
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Namaste
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None of us expect it to go so soon. I’m very sorry about your friend.

V
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V
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First, I’m really sorry to hear about your friend. That’s awful.

Second, I have been thinking more and more about this topic. I agree with Marx that religion is the opiate of the people, and it’s scary that many people live their lives thinking that as long as they adhere to whatever rules someone said thousands of years ago, they’ll be fine. Just seems like a waste.

I’m not saying I am really living my life as someone who knows this is all I’ve got, but it’s certainly a goal. I also wonder what the world would look like if most people weren’t tethered to beliefs that their actions will matter later? Not sure if things would be better?maybe not different at all?

Joe T.
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Joe T.
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This shit is too deep for me, man…

Tampa
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Tampa
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Ever seen a man without a concious? without a moral compass? Its almost disgusting. Go to a courthouse and watch a trail of a violent offender. It is just soul-less to look at a man that cares about nobody but himself. It is almost sad.

Religion is more then a traffic light keeping everything in order. Human beings are a lot smarter then most people realize and if they thought it was a bill of goods — they wouldn’t buy it.

I just have to believe that there is a moral compass. Nothing is sadder then seeing a man with no soul.

Anonymous
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Anonymous
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tampa=moron
please take your magic-man-in-the-sky beliefs elsewhere

Stephen (VA)
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Stephen (VA)
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Anonymous, you sure added something valuable to this post.

Whether you’re religious or not, what works for you is not necessarily what works for others. If a belief in God helps someone get through the day, enjoy life a little bit more, etc, then so be it. If not believing in a God for someone does the same thing, so be it.

It’s a personal decision. Why insult it?

eugenius
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eugenius
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good post

Veggie Food
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Veggie Food
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well done, as usual.

Lou P.
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Lou P.
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Excellent post. I’m sorry to hear about your friend.

Ned
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Ned
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life’s an illusion, baby

V
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V
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Wow, Tampa, that might be one of the most narrow minded comments I’ve ever read.

I like it that you assume only the religious have a moral compass or conscience or that violent people aren’t religious (have you read the new testament?). Selfishness is not exclusive to those people who don’t believe there is a god presiding over this world. In fact, for those of us who are pretty sure this world is all we got, we are much more predisposed to care about it and those living on it. All you have to do is live your life and then declare your allegiance to God on your deathbed. Pretty sweet deal.

Furthermore, what the hell is a moral compass? And which part of the bible or Koran would you take it from as both are wrought with contradictions? I think your mistake is equating ?having a soul? with making good choices and then assuming that only religious people can do that.

Anonymous
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Anonymous
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Sorry about your friend.

Tampa, I only have one God, and he’s on the side of the hundy dollar bill. Maybe even the fiddy dollar bill. That’s right, I wish I could go to church at the US Treasury. Hallallujah!!!

Kathryn
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Kathryn
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A truly moral person is one who holds themself to the highest of ethical standards, without fear of going to hell (or getting into heaven) as incentive.

Matt
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Matt
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Im sorry, I usually dont like to be one of those people that picks out every typo in a post, but the first line of Tampa’s comment is just too much.

“Ever seen a man without a concious”

What? Ever seen? Concious?

I hope to hell that while you are watching these “sadder” “souless” men in court you are not their lawyer, because if you are, I assume they are now lifeless.

A.D
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A.D
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Death is depressing, but it’s part of the deal. You don’t get to live unless you are prepared to die- no one is exempt from death.

If given the option to never have exsisted, or to live and then accept death, I would always chose to live and accept death. Life is so valuable because we only have it for a limited amount of time.

Everyone around me is aging, my dad has dementia, and the only way I stay positive is reminding myself to live, and that human life is so valuable because it can be stolen from us at any moment, and I simply try to treasure each day because I believe my exsistence ends here on Earth.

A.D
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When my aunt fell into a coma, I was 19. It made me realize that I never wanted to spend another moment intoxicated, or even sleep in late.

You only have so many minutes in your life to be conscious, thinking, and taking in reality. If the suppose best years of our lives are the 18-30 age bracket why spend it with alcohol or partying so hard you can’t remember what happened the night before?

Lalu
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Lalu
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Why do people think it’s OK to jump all over someone who is religious? Tampa is allowed his thoughts, too. I didn’t know hoping people had a moral compass was narrow-minded.

Overall, though, I agree w/ Kathryn. Regardless of what we believe, living our best life (life in the moment, life not hurting others, life of love and fun, life in the community of people) shouldn’t be about being afraid of ultimate judgement. Life is meaningful regardless of whether some creator is counting it as such. Isn’t this second meaningful to all of us?

Jesus
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Jesus
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Yes ease up off him, for he believes in me children.

Ted Haggert
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Ted Haggert
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So do I Jesus. Are there gays in heaven with a meth lab around back??????

V
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V
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Lalu: Re-read what I posted. It isn’t because Tampa is being religious (which I wasn’t calling that narrow minded), it was because he/she was assuming people who weren’t religious were without a moral compass. I get sick of that argument.

Tampa
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Tampa
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where does the moral foundation for the world come from? it wasn’t just made up.. It didn’t just evolve. we aren’t cave men. do you think that stealing, adultrey, murder were just concieved as bad.? nobody every claimed relegion be free of terrible people. At least I never stated that.

I am no bible beating christian….but you can not dispute the historical relevance of christianity. It isn’t some mystical theory derived from the stars. The book of John was written by a guy named “John.” You can’t let fallwell and robertson erode your belief in a supreme being, but you can not dispute the fact that the old testament and the gospels are as much of a historical document as they are a relogious document.

no i am not a lawyer. and yes I do believe in god. i don’t think this human race and world were made through evoloution.

good post DCB. we needed this debate.

Tampa
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Tampa
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never said that people who weren’t relgious didn’t have a moral compass. Never ever said that.

I said a violent offender has no moral compass. Which i believe. I believe a guy who would put a gun to someones head — beat the crap out of them and steal thier shit is lacking a moral compass.

I sense anger in your arugment as well. I feel no anger towards you. It doesn’t really bother me. I think people see religion as Jerry Fallwell, Pat Robertson and the extreme right.
I don’t.
I am well aware that the Southern Baptist Leadership Conference was one of the biggest proponents of segragetion in 1960. Thier are plenty of bad people in all faiths.

sean
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sean
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You know, if Christianity was truth….The vast majority of people who ever breath go to hell. Which makes being aborted a “get out of jail free card” of sorts, so the Christians should really get behind it. If they had any moral compass that is….. That said, what people really need is a MORON compass. We’d all be better off. BTW, David Blaine’s tricks are waaaaaaay better than that Jesus guy’s. Water into wine? Oh please, that’s so BC.

Roissy
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Roissy
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“It didn’t just evolve.”

actually, yes it did.

Anonymous
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Anonymous
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The belief in something bigger than yourself (religious or just compassionate with no religious connection) is kind of like the stock market. if everyone loses faith in the market and pulls out, panic ensues and everyone loses. if everyone stops believing in some form of greater good and/or meaning of life, we will turn back into the animals that we evolved from and everyone will ultimately suffer.

that’s the most important part about any of this… It’s not what you believe (religious or otherwise, etc.) as much as it is the contageousness of your actions and attitude that you spread to those around you… positive or negative… its your choice.

Ned
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Ned
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the “moral compass” is different in every animal; it is necessary for species’ survival.

But in “reality” the universe is non-dual. there is no good or bad except in our own heads

mhm
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mhm
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What’s harder to believe. That there is divine all knowing force that created the world, or that random chance is the force that governs the world?

Canuck Kernal
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Canuck Kernal
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“it’s a simple precaution you take to stay safe. But I never do that in my car, and I don’t know anyone who does.”

You haven’t been around (smart) Canadian drivers. Far too many assholes cannot stop in the winter. Far too often these assholes also drive medium to large SUVs. Often it’s iciest at stop signs and red lights, because that where the most slowing down and speeding up occurs. I’ve seen too many rear enders. So any good Canuck driver leaves themselves enough room in front, to change lanes or move forward, and watches their rearview at the stoplight.

Anonne
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Anonne
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I would say that all of nature cries out that there is a supreme being, although people will disagree as to who it is and what its nature is. Everything is so elegantly designed – okay, for you doubters, composed – and works together in a grand supersystem of supersystems. Good luck having all that happen by chance.

The animals don’t think about a divine creature but their needs are taken care of. They, like us, are subject to the same forces that will shape, make, or break us – that we don’t know why or when or the wherefores doesn’t mean that there isn’t a purpose bigger than us. It may just mean that our place is not to know since we are not supreme.

I’m sorry for the loss of your friend. Be thankful you had her in your life. Maybe that is the lesson you were supposed to learn: to be thankful for those people who come into your life and make it better. But ultimately, every death tells us that we should value the one life we have and to be prepared.

CDP
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CDP
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Anonne – It’s the most specious of arguments to claim that because something is incredibly complex, improbable, or unexplained as of yet that it BY NECESSITY implicates a higher being designed it. It’s just not a logical argument.

In place of the higher entity/designer, why not a duck? Or a microbe? Or Murray, the guy down the street who makes bagels and smells funny?

The burden of proof if you make that jump is on you to explain how this higher being did all of this. At least the evolutionary camp puts out an argument.

Joe T.
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Joe T.
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Somebody:

?It didn’t just evolve.?

Roissy-pie:

“actually, yes it did.”

Or in some cases, it evolved a little bit, and then it devolved a lot.

Seriously, Roissy, your statement about life being meaningless except for fucking — are you serious?

If everybody had that attitude we’d still be Chimps.

Greg
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Greg
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CDP,

I don’t think he’s saying that the conplexity and improbability of the universe *necessitates* design, but that design is a more compelling explanation than random occurence. By all means, each can make his own logical assessment of the evidence either way, and in fact must, since it is impossible to prove either way (there can’t be a “burden of proof” for something that is improvable). Design is most certainly a logical argument, and if you fail to at least see the logic, then I’m afraid you’re the one that’s in error. The very fact you think our conception of God is equivalent to a duck means you sorely lack a real understanding of what you’re arguing against. This is reinforced by your demand that we (mortal, temporal beings) must prove God’s existence by describing how He (omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent, transcending space and time) made all creation. Go read a book and try becoming informed, at least…

Stephen (VA)
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Stephen (VA)
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All I know is that there was this Big Bang, and something before that, and something before that, and rather than get caught up in infinite backtracking, I just believe that at some point there was something there that is timeless, and whatever you want to call that, fine.

It works for me. Whatever floats your boat and gets you through the day without mucking up mine.

cjt
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cjt
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“Mind” does not equal “Brain”.
When the brain cannot function as the physical vessel the “mind”, which is a part of “spirit”, departs intact. It’s destination or possible eventual fragmentation or even annihilation depends upon the spirits prior belief system and/or state of “mind” at death. Try sifting through the new age quackery concerning near death experience and find for yourself. It takes some time but the clinical proof is out there. In my case hopeful thinking and faith were not part of the process used to derive these conclusions.

http://www.thepsychictimes.com/articles/fenwick.htm

Near Death Experience NDE Story
of Mellen-Thomas Benedict
Journey Through the Light and Back

http://mellen-thomas.com/stories.htm