Okay, I’ll try to respond to more of this, but, for the record, I didn’t “dodge” or “sidestep” any aspects of your response. I have limited time and energy, and certain topics seemed more interesting to me, so I focused on those. The stuff about love seemed pretty abstract, but I’ll give it a shot.
“Why not address the fact that all the things truly special about the human experience can’t be measured by science? How do we know if someone loves us and how do they know we love them?”
What we call “love” is actually a series of chemical reactions in our brains. Chemicals like oxytocin, vasopressin, and serotonin provide the neurological basis for various stages of this experience. These are some of the basics regarding our scientific understanding of love and the emotions associated with it. But asking someone to scientifically quantify love would be like asking someone to scientifically quantify how delicious chocolate ice cream tastes or how awe-inspiring the Grand Canyon or the Northern Lights are. Due to their subjective and abstract nature, these experiences are outside the realm of science.
For many people (including myself), dry academic jargon isn’t sufficient to fully encapsulate profound experiences like love and fulfillment. This is where art, poetry, and other forms of creative expression come into play. I completely embrace the mystery and awe of our conscious experiences and the universe as a whole. I don’t need a scientific explanation for everything. However, during my time as a Christian fundamentalist, it seemed that we would replace nearly every uncertainty with “God did it.” (This perspective is known as “God of the gaps.”) As a species, we once thought that illness was demonic possession and that earthquakes were God’s wrath. Year after year, the gaps in our knowledge seem to get smaller and smaller. We’ve come a long way, but if we’re being honest with ourselves, we have to admit we will probably never be able to explain everything. “Faith” is therefore often just a disingenuous claim of knowledge (or a vague substitution for it) in the face of the vast uncertainties and mysteries that persist.
“As far as the studies are concerned most I have read are by people and groups with agendas.”
The first academic study I cited was from Creighton University, which is a Catholic/Jesuit college. What sort of agenda might they have? To eradicate religion? Or could your rejection of this evidence be an example of confirmation bias?
“Do you really need a study to tell you that a 78% fatherlessness rate is bad for society (many large Black communities currently show this) or that we now all lock our doors when as a child nobody locked our doors? Everyone is paranoid and isolated. We have the illusion of society through social media but in reality we are further apart than ever. Look at your facebook friends list and tell me what percentage have been to your home to eat a meal and you have done the same?
Why do we have so many nursing homes? Many studies show most homeless people have families but stay homeless anyway, why?
You did not even address the 50% of children are now raised without fathers in the home, you think that is a good sign?”
The decline of American society (including the isolation, loneliness, and hopelessness we feel) is primarily a symptom of late-stage capitalism, specifically four decades of neoliberal economics, which has destroyed the public sector, the working class, and transferred massive amounts of wealth from the bottom to the top. Other Western democracies are less religious and don’t have these problems, at least not on this scale (as I illustrated in my previous response, there is an inverse correlation between religiosity and societal health). The racial disparities in these economic injustices are due to systemic white supremacy, which, in recent decades, has been sustained through the War on Drugs and mass incarceration (as well as the fact that no solutions to segregation or the black/white wealth gap were ever implemented). These two issues (economics and racism) are related, which I’ve written about here:
White Supremacy and Capitalism: The Two-Headed Dragon that Must Be Slain
Four decades of neoliberal Reaganomics has decimated the American poor and working class. Median wages have remained…
“If helping each other is so- “universal” as you claim, why is it only religious people are out there doing the hands on work? Even if you can find a few examples here and there of an Atheist willing to “get dirty” helping people, it is not the norm and there is clearly no widespread movement in the Atheist community to do any of these things.”
You seemed to have ignored my link to a list of secular charities, but here’s some more information on atheists and humanists helping the homeless, etc. (You must have missed these during all the research you must have done in order to conclude that non-religious people aren’t usually involved in charity.)
Foundation Beyond Belief (disaster recovery, etc.)
The Kansas City Atheist Coalition (involved with soup kitchens, etc.)
Also, it’s worth mentioning that your preconceived belief that non-religious folks aren’t usually involved in charity work is, in itself, a good example of “faith” (i.e. belief without evidence). But now you have a reason to change that belief. When you confronted me with evidence that a statement in my article was factually inaccurate, I was willing to change my mind. Maybe you’d consider doing the same.
“The fact so many human beings do agree on their feelings of religion seems to of itself support the notion of a God.”
This statement is a textbook example of a logical fallacy, just so you know.
“Claiming God can’t exist because many people perceive God differently is not really a fair claim…”
Who’s claiming this? I’m certainly not. You’re the one making claims about “God.” I’m simply rejecting those claims due to insufficient (i.e. nonexistent) evidence. I was asking which god you’re advocating faith in, but in your last response you seem to be strongly advocating Deism (or something even more vague, which might not even involve supernatural entities). Which is fine by me. It’s just that the specific religion I was raised with advocated homophobia and misogyny, and worshipped a being who commanded genocide and threatened to torture millions of people for eternity. Due to how barbaric these notions are, as well as the complete absence of supporting evidence, I personally disavowed my religious beliefs, which is really all I was attempting to convey in the first part of my article (I’m not against others having religious beliefs).
Many world religions, as you have noted, are quite similar. However, some make claims that are incompatible with the claims of others, and this has contributed to horrific sectarian violence throughout history. Nevertheless, many religions do have elements in common, and I would argue this is because, during prehistoric times, before there was “God of the gaps,” there were only gaps. That is to say a complete absence of scientific understanding. We didn’t know what the hell was going on, but we realized that the sun gave us light, allowing us to see and avoid predators, and that it provided warmth, and made eatable plants grow. It literally gave us life, and so we decided to start worshipping it, because to us, this was magic. Darkness was the opposite; it brought with it a cold and terrifying uncertainty in which predators could easily stalk and kill us. And this (light vs. dark) is what led to the eventual development of the good vs. evil dichotomy. As you know, light and dark became personified in the form of various supernatural deities, which differed in specific characteristics from culture to culture.
The moral teachings that were later attached to these developing stories and belief systems also ended up being similar — due to, as I said, our innate sense of right and wrong based largely on empathy (which has also recently been observed in other species as well, and, as far as I know, other animals have not yet developed religion).
My point is that, since religion is man-made (and was a humble starting point for human intellectual evolution and scientific persuit), the various univeral truths that might exist therein (morality, for instance) also exist without it. I think we agree that people are overall good, and desire to live in harmony with one another, but we might disagree about the cause of this (you might think it’s a result of religion, while I think it’s an innate human characteristic that was later integrated into religion).
Despite my lack of religious faith, I do attempt to find common ground with religious folks, and I think for us, it’s something like this: people might have different beliefs, but overall, they want to help one another and live peacefully. I also agree with your statement “the things that make human life really special can’t be measured by science.”