The God in the Cave

This is quoted from G. K. Chesterton’s The Everlasting Man.

This sketch of the human story began in a cave; the cave which popular science associates with the cave-man and in which practical discovery has really found archaic drawings of animals. The second half of human history, which was like a new creation of the world, also begins in a cave. There is even a shadow of such a fancy in the fact that animals were again present; for it was a cave used as a stable by the mountaineers of the uplands about Bethlehem; who still drive their cattle into such holes and caverns at night. It was here that a homeless couple had crept underground with the cattle when the doors of the crowded caravanserai had been shut in their faces; and it was here beneath the very feet of the passersby, in a cellar under the very floor of the world, that Jesus Christ was born But in that second creation there was indeed something symbolical in the roots of the primeval rock or the horns of the prehistoric herd. God also was a CaveMan, and, had also traced strange shapes of creatures, curiously colored upon the wall of the world ; but the pictures that he made had come to life.

A mass of legend and literature, which increases and will never end has repeated and rung the changes on that single paradox; that the hands that had made the sun and stars were too small to reach the huge heads of the cattle. Upon this paradox, we might almost say upon this jest, all the literature of our faith is founded. It is at least like a jest in this; that it is something which the scientific critic cannot see. He laboriously explains the difficulty which we have always defiantly and almost derisively exaggerated; and mildly condemns as improbable something that we have almost madly exalted as incredible; as something that would be much too good to be true, except that it is true. When that contrast between the cosmic creation and the little local infancy has been repeated, reiterated, underlined, emphasized, exulted in, sung, shouted, roared, not to say howled, in a hundred thousand hymns, carols, rhymes, rituals pictures, poems, and popular sermons, it may be suggested that we hardly need a higher critic to draw our attention to something a little odd about it; especially one of the sort that seems to take a long time to see a joke, even his own joke. But about this contrast and combination of ideas one thing may be said here, because it is relevant to the whole thesis of this book. The sort of modern critic of whom I speak is generally much impressed with the importance of education in life and the importance of psychology in education. That sort of man is never tired of telling us that first impressions fix character by the law of causation; and he will become quite nervous if a child’s visual sense is poisoned by the wrong colors on a golliwog or his nervous system prematurely shaken by a cacophonous rattle. Yet he will think us very narrow-minded, if we say that this is exactly why there really is a difference between being brought up as a Christian and being brought up as a Jew or a Moslem or an atheist. T he difference is that every Catholic child has learned from pictures, and even every Protestant child from stones, this incredible combination of contrasted ideas as one of the very first impressions on his mind. It is not merely a theological difference. It is a psychological difference which can outlast any theologies It really is, as that sort of scientist loves to say about anything, incurable. Any agnostic or atheist whose childhood has known a real Christmas has ever afterwards, whether be likes it or not, an association in his mind between two ideas that most of mankind must regard as remote from each other; the idea of a baby and the idea of unknown strength that sustains the stars. His instincts and imagination can still connect them, when his reason can no longer see the need of the connection; for him there will always be some savor of religion about the mere picture of a mother and a baby; some hint of mercy and softening about the mere mention of the dreadful name of God. But the two ideas are not naturally or necessarily combined. They would not be necessarily combined for an ancient Greek or a Chinaman, even for Aristotle or Confucius. It is no more inevitable to connect God with an infant than to connect gravitation with a kitten. It has been created in our minds by Christmas because we are Christians; because we are psychological Christians even when we are not theological ones. In other words, this combination of ideas has emphatically, in the much disputed phrase, altered human nature. There is really a difference between the man who knows it and the man who does not. It may not be a difference of moral worth, for the Moslem or the Jew might be worthier according to his lights; but it is a plain fact about the crossing of two particular lights, the conjunction of two stars in our particular horoscope. Omnipotence and impotence, or divinity and infancy, do definitely make a sort of epigram which a million repetitions cannot turn into a platitude. It is not unreasonable to call it unique.

Bethlehem is emphatically a place where extremes meet. Here begins, it is needless to say, another mighty influence for the humanization of Christendom. If the world wanted what is called a non-controversial aspect of Christianity, it would probably select Christmas. Yet it is obviously bound up with what is supposed to be a controversial aspect (I could never at any stage of my opinions imagine why); the respect paid to the Blessed Virgin. When I was a boy a more Puritan generation objected to a statue upon my parish church representing the Virgin and Child. After much controversy, they compromised by taking away the Child. One would think that this was even more corrupted with Mariolatry, unless the mother was counted less dangerous when deprived of a sort of weapon. But the practical difficulty is also a parable. You cannot chip away the statue of a mother from all round that of a newborn child. You cannot suspend the new-born child in mid-air; indeed you cannot really have a statue of a newborn child at all. Similarly, you cannot suspend the idea of a newborn child in the void or think of him without thinking of his mother. You cannot visit the child without visiting the mother, you cannot in common human life approach the child except through the mother. If we are to think of Christ in this aspect at all, the other idea follows I as it is followed in history. We must either leave Christ out of Christmas, or Christmas out of Christ, or we must admit, if only as we admit it in an old picture, that those holy heads are too near together for the haloes not to mingle and cross.

It might be suggested, in a somewhat violent image, that nothing had happened in that fold or crack in the great gray hills except that the whole universe had been turned inside out. I mean that all the eyes of wonder and worship which had been turned outwards to the largest thing were now. turned inward to the smallest. The very image will suggest all that multitudinous marvel of converging eyes that makes so much of the colored Catholic imagery like a peacock’s tail., But it is true in a sense that God who bad been only a circumference was seen as a centre; and a centre is infinitely small. It is true that the spiritual spiral henceforward works inwards instead of outwards, and in that sense is centripetal and not centrifugal. The faith becomes, in more ways than one, a religion of little things. But its traditions in art and’ literature and popular fable have quite sufficiently attested, as has been said, this particular paradox of the divine being in the cradle Perhaps they have not so clearly emphasized the significance o f the divine being in the cave. Curiously enough, indeed, tradition has not very clearly emphasized the cave. It is a familiar fact that the Bethlehem scene has been represented in every possible setting of time and country, of landscape and architecture; and it is a wholly happy and admirable fact that men have conceived it as quite different according to their different individual traditions and tastes. But while all have realized that it was a stable, not so many have realized that it was a cave. Some critics have even been so silly as to suppose that there was some contradiction between the stable and the cave; in which case they cannot know much about caves or stables in Palestine. As they see differences that are not there, it is needless to add that they do not see differences that are there. When a well-known critic says, for instance, that Christ being born in a rocky cavern is like Mithras having sprung alive out of a rock, it sounds like a parody upon comparative religion. There is such a thing as the point of a story, even if it is a story in the sense of a lie. And the notion of a hero appearing, like Pallas from the brain of Zeus, mature and without a mother, is obviously the very opposite of the idea of a god being born like an ordinary baby and entirely dependent on a mother. Whichever ideal we might prefer, we should surely see that they are contrary ideals. It is as stupid to connect them because they both contain a substance called stone as to identify the punishment of the Deluge with the baptism in the Jordan because they both contain a substance called water. Whether as a myth or a mystery, Christ was obviously conceived as born in a hole in the rocks primarily because it marked the position of one outcast and homeless. Nevertheless it is true, as I have said, that the cave has not been so commonly or so clearly used as a symbol as the other realities that surrounded the first Christmas.

And the reason for this also refers to the very nature of that new world. It was in a sense the difficulty of a new dimension. Christ was not only born on the level of the world, but even lower than the world. The first act of the divine drama was enacted, not only on no stage set up above the sightseer, but on a dark and curtained stage sunken out of sight; and that is an idea very difficult to express in most modes of artistic expression. It is the idea of simultaneous happenings on different levels of life. Something like it might have been attempted in the more archaic and decorative medieval art. But the more the artists learned of realism and perspective, the less they could depict at once the angels in the heavens and the shepherds on the hills, and the glory in the darkness that was under the hills. Perhaps it could have been best conveyed by the characteristic expedient of some of the medieval guilds, when they wheeled about the streets a theater with three stages one above the other, with heaven above the earth and hell under the earth. But in the riddle of Bethlehem it was heaven that was under the earth.

There is in that alone the touch of a revolution, as of the world turned upside down. It would be vain to attempt to say anything adequate, or anything new, about the change which this conception of a deity born like an outcast or even an outlaw had upon the whole conception of law and its duties to the poor and outcast. It is profoundly true to say that after that moment there could be no slaves. There could be and were people bearing that legal title, until the Church was strong enough to weed them out, but there could be no more of the pagan repose in the mere advantage to the state of keeping it a servile state. Individuals became important, in a sense in which no instruments can be important. A man could not be a means to an end, at any rate to any other man’s end. All this popular and fraternal element in the story has been rightly attached by tradition to the episode of the Shepherds; the hinds who found themselves talking face to face with the princes of heaven. But there is another aspect of the popular element as represented by the shepherds which has not perhaps been so fully developed; and which is more directly relevant here.

Men of the people, like the shepherds, men of the popular tradition, had everywhere been the makers of the mythologies. It was they who had felt most directly, with least check or chill from philosophy or the corrupt cults of civilization, the need we have already considered; the images that were adventures of the imagination; the mythology that was a sort of search the tempting and tantalizing hints of something half human in nature; the dumb significance of seasons and special places. They had best understood that the soul of a landscape is a story and the soul of a story is a personality. But rationalism had already begun to rot away these really irrational though imaginative treasures of the peasant; even as systematic slavery had eaten the peasant out of house and home. Upon all such peasantries everywhere there was descending a dusk and twilight of disappointment, in the hour when these few men discovered what they sought. Everywhere else Arcadia was fading from the forest. Pan was dead and the shepherds were scattered like sheep. And though no man knew it, the hour was near which was to end and to fulfill all things; and though no man heard it, there was one far-off cry in an unknown tongue upon the heaving wilderness of the mountains. The shepherds had found their Shepherd.

And the thing they found was of a kind with the things they sought. The populace had been wrong in many things; but they had not been wrong in believing that holy things could have a habitation and that divinity need not disdain the limits of time and space. And the barbarian who conceived the crudest fancy about the sun being stolen and hidden in a box, or the wildest myth about the god being rescued and his enemy deceived with a stone, was nearer to the secret of the cave and knew more about the crisis of the world, than all those in the circle of cities round the Mediterranean who had become content with cold abstractions or cosmopolitan generalizations; than all those who were spinning thinner and thinner threads of thought out of the transcendentalism of Plato or the orientalism of Pythagoras. The place that the shepherds found was not an academy or an abstract republic; it was not a place of myths allegorized or dissected or explained or explained away. It was a place of dreams come true. Since that hour no mythologies have been made in the world. Mythology is a search.

We all know that the popular presentation of this popular story, in so many miracle plays and carols, has given to the shepherds the costume, the language, and the landscape of the separate English and European countryside. We all know that one shepherd will talk in a Somerset dialect or another talk of driving his sheep from Conway towards the Clyde. Most of us know by this time how true is that error, how wise, how artistic, how intensely Christian and Catholic is that anachronism. But some who have seen it in these scenes of medieval rusticity have perhaps not seen it in another sort of poetry, which it is sometimes the fashion to call artificial rather than artistic. I fear that many modem critics Will see only a faded classicism in the fact that men like Crashaw and Herrick conceived the shepherds of Bethlehem under the form of the shepherds of Virgil. Yet they were profoundly right; and in turning their Bethlehem play into a Latin Eclogue they took up one of the most important links in human history. Virgil, as we have already seen, does stand for all that saner heathenism that had overthrown the insane heathenism of human sacrifice; but the very fact that even the Virgilian virtues and the sane heathenism were in incurable decay is the whole problem to which the revelation to the shepherds is the solution. If the world had ever had the chance to grow weary of being demoniac, it might have been healed merely by becoming sane. But if it bad grown weary even of being sane, what was to happen, except what did happen? Nor is it false to conceive the Arcadian shepherd of the Eclogues as rejoicing in what did happen. One of the Eclogues has even been claimed as a prophecy of what did happen.

But it is quite as much in the tone and incidental diction of the great poet that we feel the potential sympathy with the great event; and even in their own human phrases the voices of the Virgilian shepherds might more than once have broken upon more than the tenderness of Italy . . . . . Incipe, parve puer, risu cognoscere matrem . . . . . They might have found in that strange place all that was best in the last traditions of the Latins; and something better than a wooden idol standing up forever for the pillar of the human family; a household god. But they and all the other mythologists would be justified in rejoicing that the event had fulfilled not merely the mysticism but the materialism of mythology. Mythology had many sins; but it had not been wrong in being as carnal as the Incarnation. With something of the ancient voice that was supposed to have rung through the groves, it could cry again, ‘We have seen, he hath seen us, a visible god.’ So the ancient shepherds might have danced, and their feet have been beautiful upon the mountains, rejoicing over the philosophers. But the philosophers had also heard.

It is still a strange story, though an old one, how they came out of orient lands, crowned with the majesty of kings and clothed with something of the mystery of magicians. That truth that is tradition has wisely remembered them almost as unknown quantities, as mysterious as their mysterious and melodious names; Melchior, Caspar, Balthazar. But there came with them all that world of wisdom that had watched the stars in Chaldea and the sun in Persia; and we shall not be wrong if we see in them the same curiosity that moves all the sages. They would stand for the same human ideal if their names had really been Confucius or Pythagoras or Plato. They were those who sought not tales but the truth of things; and since their thirst for truth was itself a thirst for God, they also have had their reward. But even in order to understand that reward, we must understand that for philosophy as much as mythology, that reward was the completion of the incomplete.

Such learned men would doubtless have come, as these learned men did come, to find themselves confirmed in much that was true in their own traditions and right in their own reasoning. Confucius would have found a new foundation for the family in the very reversal of the Holy Family; Buddha would have looked upon a new renunciation, of stars rather than jewels and divinity than royalty. These learned men would still have the right to say, or rather a new right to say, that there was truth in their old teaching. But after all these learned men would have come to learn. They would have come to complete their conceptions with something they had not yet conceived; even to balance their imperfect universe with something they might once have contradicted. Buddha would have come from his impersonal paradise to worship a person. Confucius would have come from his temples of ancestor-worship to worship a child.

We must grasp from the first this character in the new cosmos; that it was larger than the old cosmos. In that sense Christendom is larger than creation; as creation had been before Christ. It included things that had not been there; it also included the things that had been there. The point happens to be well illustrated in this example of Chinese piety, but it would be true of other pagan virtues or pagan beliefs. Nobody can doubt that a reasonable respect for parents is part of a gospel in which God himself was subject in childhood to earthly parents. But the other sense in which the parents were subject to him does introduce an idea that is not Confucian. The infant Christ is not like the infant Confucius; our mysticism conceives him in an immortal infancy. I do not know what Confucius would have done with the Bambino, had it come to life in his arms as it did in the arms of St. Francis. But this is true in relation to all the other religions and philosophies; it is the challenge of the Church. The Church contains what the world does not contain. Life itself does not provide as she does for all sides of life. That every other single system is narrow and insufficient compared to this one; that is not a rhetorical boast; it is a real fact and a real dilemma. Where is the Holy Child amid the Stoics and the ancestor-worshippers? Where is Our Lady of the Moslems, a woman made for no man and set above all angels? Where is St. Michael of the monks of Buddha, rider and master of the trumpets, guarding for every soldier the honor of the sword? What could St. Thomas Aquinas do with the mythology of Brahmanism, he who set forth all the science and rationality and even rationalism of Christianity? Yet even if we compare Aquinas with Aristotle, at the other extreme of reason, we shall find the same sense of something added. Aquinas could understand the most logical parts of Aristotle; it is doubtful if Aristotle could have understood the most mystical parts of Aquinas.

Even where we can hardly call the Christian greater, we are forced to call him larger. But it is so to whatever philosophy or heresy or modern movement we may turn. How would Francis the Troubadour have fared among the Calvinists, or for that matter among the Utilitarians of the Manchester School? Yet men like Bossuet and Pascal could be as stern and logical as any Calvinist or Utilitarian. How would St. Joan of Arc, a woman waving on men to war with the sword, have fared among the Quakers or the Doukhabors or the Tolstoyan sect of pacifists? Yet any number of Catholic saints have spent their lives in preaching peace and preventing wars. It is the same with all the modern attempts at Syncretism. They are never able to make something larger than the Creed without leaving something out. I do not mean leaving out something divine but something human; the flag or the inn or the boy’s tale of battle or the hedge at the end of the field. The Theosophists build a pantheon; but it is only a pantheon for pantheists. They call a Parliament of Religions as a reunion of all the peoples; but it is only a reunion of all the prigs. Yet exactly such a pantheon had been set up two thousand years before by the shores of the Mediterranean; and Christians were invited to set up the image of Jesus side by side with the image of Jupiter, of Mithras, of Osiris, of Atys, or of Ammon. It was the refusal of the Christians that was the turning point of history. If the Christians had accepted, they and the whole world would have certainly, in a grotesque but exact metaphor, gone to pot. They would all have been boiled down to one lukewarm liquid in that great pot of cosmopolitan corruption in which all the other myths and mysteries were already melting. It was an awful and an appalling escape. Nobody understands the nature of the Church, or the ringing note of the creed descending from antiquity, who does not realize that the whole world once very nearly died of broad-mindedness and the brotherhood of all religions.

Here it is the important point that the Magi, who stand for mysticism and philosophy, are truly conceived as seeking something new and even as finding something unexpected. That tense sense of crisis which still tingles in the Christmas story and even in every Christmas celebration, accentuates the idea of a search and a discovery. The discovery is, in this case, truly a scientific discovery. For the other mystical figures in the miracle play; for the angel and the mother, the shepherds and the soldiers of Herod, there may be aspects both simpler and more supernatural, more elemental or more emotional. But the Wise Men must be seeking wisdom; and for them there must be a light also in the intellect. And this is the light; that the Catholic creed is catholic and that nothing else is catholic. The philosophy of the Church is universal. The philosophy of the philosophers was not universal. Had Plato and Pythagoras and Aristotle stood for an instant in the light that came out of that little cave, they would have known that their own light was not universal.

It is far from certain, indeed, that they did not know it already. Philosophy also, like mythology, had very much the air of a search. It is the realization of this truth that gives its traditional majesty and mystery to the figures of the Three Kings; the discovery that religion is broader than philosophy and that this is the broadest of religions, contained within this narrow space. The Magicians were gazing at the strange pentacle with the human triangle reversed; and they have never come to the end of their calculations about it. For it is the paradox of that group in the cave, that while our emotions about it are of childish simplicity, our thoughts about it can branch with a never-ending complexity. And we can never reach the end even of our own ideas about the child who was a father and the mother who was a child.

We might well be content to say that mythology had come with the shepherds and philosophy with the philosophers; and that it only remained for them to combine in the recognition of religion. But there was a third element that must not be ignored and one which that religion forever refuses to ignore, in any revel or reconciliation. There was present in the primary scenes of the drama that Enemy that had rotted the legends with lust and frozen the theories into atheism, but which answered the direct challenge with something of that more direct method which we have seen in the conscious cult of the demons. In the description of that demon-worship, of the devouring detestation of innocence shown in the works of its witchcraft and the most inhuman of its human sacrifice, I have said less of its indirect and secret penetration of the saner paganism; the soaking of mythological imagination with sex; the rise of imperial pride into insanity. But both the indirect and the direct influence make themselves felt in the drama of Bethlehem. A ruler under the Roman suzerainty, probably equipped and surrounded with the Roman ornament and order though himself of eastern blood, seems in that hour to have felt stirring within him the spirit of strange things. We all know the story of how Herod, alarmed at some rumor of a mysterious rival, remembered the wild gesture of the capricious despots of Asia and ordered a massacre of suspects of the new generation of the populace. Everyone knows the story; but not everyone has perhaps noted its place in the story of the strange religions of men. Not everybody has seen the significance even of its very contrast with the Corinthian columns and Roman pavement of that conquered and superficially civilized world. Only, as the purpose in his dark spirit began to show and shine in the eyes of the Admen, a seer might perhaps have seen something like a great gray ghost that looked over his shoulder; have seen behind him filling the dome of night and hovering for the last time over history that vast and fearful face that was Moloch of the Carthaginians; awaiting his last tribute from a ruler of the races of Shem. The demons also, in that first festival of Christmas, feasted after their own fashion.

Unless we understand the presence of that enemy, we shall not only miss the point of Christianity, but even miss the point of Christmas. Christmas for us in Christendom has become one thing, and in one sense even a simple thing. But like all the truths of that tradition, it is in another sense a very complex thing. Its unique note is the simultaneous striking of many notes; of humility, of gaiety, of gratitude, of mystical fear, but also of vigilance and of drama. It is not only an occasion for the peacemakers any more than for the merry makers; it is not only a Hindu peace conference any more than it is only a Scandinavian winter feast. There is something defiant in it also; something that makes the abrupt bells at midnight sound like the great guns of a battle that has just been won. All this indescribable thing that we call the Christmas atmosphere only bangs in the air as something like a lingering fragrance or fading vapor from the exultant, explosion of that one hour in the Judean hills nearly two thousand years ago. But the savor is still unmistakable, and it is something too subtle or too solitary to be covered by our use of the word peace. By the very nature of the story the rejoicings in the cavern were rejoicings in a fortress or an outlaws den; properly understood it is not unduly flippant to say they were rejoicing in a dug-out. It is not only true that such a subterranean chamber was a hiding-place from enemies; and that the enemies were already scouring the stony plain that lay above it like a sky. It is not only that the very horse-hoofs of Herod might in that sense have passed like thunder over the sunken head of Christ. It is also that there is in that image a true idea of an outpost, of a piercing through the rock and an entrance into an enemy territory. There is in this buried divinity an idea of undermining the world; of shaking the towers and palaces from below; even as Herod the great king felt that earthquake under him and swayed with his swaying palace.

That is perhaps the mightiest of the mysteries of the cave. It is already apparent that though men are said to have looked for hell under the earth, in this case it is rather heaven that is under the earth. And there follows in this strange story the idea of an upheaval of heaven. That is the paradox of the whole position; that henceforth the highest thing can only work from below. Royalty can only return to its own by a sort of rebellion.  Indeed the Church from its beginnings, and perhaps especially in its beginnings, was not so much a principality as a revolution against the prince of the world. This sense that the world bad been conquered by the great usurper, and was in his possession, has been much deplored or derided by those optimists who identify enlightenment with ease. But it was responsible for all that thrill of defiance and a beautiful danger that made the good news seem to be really both good and new. It was in truth against a huge unconscious usurpation that it raised a revolt, and originally so obscure a revolt. Olympus still occupied the sky like a motionless cloud molded into many mighty forms; philosophy still sat in the high places and even on the thrones of the kings, when Christ was born in the cave and Christianity in the catacombs.

In both cases we may remark the same paradox of revolution; the sense of something despised and of something feared. The cave in one aspect is only a hole or comer into which the outcasts are swept like rubbish; yet in the other aspect it is a hiding-place of something valuable which the tyrants are seeking like treasure. In one sense they are there because the inn-keeper would not even remember them, and in another because the king can never forget them. We have already noted that this paradox appeared also in the treatment of the early Church. It was important while it was still insignificant, and certainly while it was still impotent. It was important solely because it was intolerable; and in that sense it is true to say that it was intolerable because it was intolerant. It was resented, because, in its own still and almost secret way, it had declared war. It had risen out of the ground to wreck the heaven and earth of heathenism. It did not try to destroy all that creation of gold and marble; but it contemplated a world without it. It dared to look right through it as though the gold and marble had been glass. Those who charged the Christians with burning down Rome with firebrands were slanderers; but they were at least far nearer to the nature of Christianity than those among the moderns who tell us that the Christians were a sort of ethical society, being martyred in a languid fashion for telling men they had a duty to their neighbors, and only mildly disliked because they were meek and mild.

Herod had his place, therefore, in the miracle play of Bethlehem because he is the menace to the Church Militant and shows it from the first as under persecution and fighting for its life. For those who think this a discord, it is a discord that sounds simultaneously with the Christmas bells. For those who think the idea of the Crusade is one that spoils the idea of the Cross, we can only say that for them the idea of the Cross is spoiled; the idea of the Cross is spoiled quite literally in the cradle. It is not here to the purpose to argue with them on the abstract ethics of fighting; the purpose in this place is merely to sum up the combination of ideas that make up the Christian and Catholic idea, and to note that all of them are already crystallized in the first Christmas story. They are three distinct and commonly contrasted things which are nevertheless one thing; but this is the only thing which can make them one. The first is the human instinct for a heaven that shall be as literal and almost as local as a home. It is the idea pursued by all poets and pagans making myths; that a particular place must be the shrine of the god or the abode of the blest; that fairyland is a land; or that the return of the ghost must be the resurrection of the body. I do not here reason about the refusal of rationalism to satisfy this need. I only say that if the rationalists refuse to satisfy it, the pagans will not be satisfied. This is present in the story of Bethlehem and Jerusalem as it is present in the story of Delos and Delphi, and as it is not present in the whole universe of Lucretius or the whole universe of Herbert Spencer. The second element is a philosophy larger than other philosophies; larger than that of Lucretius and infinitely larger than that of Herbert Spencer. It looks at the world through a hundred windows where the ancient stoic or the modem agnostic only looks through one. It sees life with thousands of eyes belonging to thousands of different sorts of people, where the other is only the individual standpoint of a stoic or an agnostic. It has something for all moods of man, it finds work for all kinds of men, it understands secrets of psychology, it is aware of depths of evil, it is able to distinguish between real and unreal marvels and miraculous exceptions, it trains itself in tact about bard cases, all with a multiplicity and subtlety and imagination about the varieties of life which is far beyond the bald or breezy platitudes of most ancient or modem moral philosophy. In a word, there is more in it; it finds more in existence to think about; it gets more out of life. Masses of this material about our many-sided life have been added since the time of St. Thomas Aquinas. But St. Thomas Aquinas alone would have found himself limited in the world of Confucius or of Comte. And the third point is this; that while it is local enough for poetry and larger than any other philosophy, it is also a challenge and a fight. While it is deliberately broadened to embrace every aspect of truth, it is still stiffly embattled against every mode of error. It gets every kind of man to fight for it, it gets every kind of weapon to fight with, it widens its knowledge of the things that are fought for and against with every art of curiosity or sympathy; but it never forgets that it is fighting. It proclaims peace on earth and never forgets why there was war in heaven.

This is the trinity of truths symbolized here by the three types in the old Christmas story; the shepherds and the kings and that other king who warred upon the children. It is simply not true to say that other religions and philosophies are in this respect its rivals. It is not true to say that any one of them combines these characters; it is not true to say that any one of them pretends to combine them. Buddhism may profess to be equally mystical; it does not even profess to be equally military. Islam may profess to be equally military; it does not even profess to be equally metaphysical and subtle. Confucianism may profess to satisfy the need of the philosophers for order and reason; it does not even profess to satisfy the, need of the mystics for miracle and sacrament and the consecration of concrete things. There are many evidences of this presence of a spirit at once universal and unique. One will serve here which is the symbol of the subject of this chapter; that no other story, no pagan legend or philosophical anecdote or historical event, does in fact affect any of us with that peculiar and even poignant impression produced on us by the word Bethlehem. No other birth of a god or childhood of a sage seems to us to be Christmas or anything like Christmas. It is either too cold or too frivolous, or too formal and classical, or too simple and savage, or too occult and complicated. Not one of us, whatever his opinions, would ever go to such a scene with the sense that he was going home. He might admire it because it was poetical, or because it was philosophical or any number of other things in separation; but not because it was itself. The truth is that there is a quite peculiar and individual character about the hold of this story on human nature; it is not in its psychological substance at all like a mere legend or the life of a great man. It does not exactly in the ordinary sense turn our minds to greatness; to those extensions and exaggerations of humanity which are turned into gods and heroes, even by the healthiest sort of hero worship. It does not exactly work outwards, adventourously to the wonders to be found at the ends of the earth. It is rather something that surprises us from behind, from the hidden and personal part of our being; like that which can sometimes take us off our guard in the pathos of small objects or the blind pieties of the poor. It is rather as if a man had ,,found an inner room in the very heart of his own house, which .,he had never suspected; and seen a light from within. It is if he found something at the back of his own heart that ,betrayed him into good. It is not made of what the world would call strong materials; or rather it is made of materials whose strength is in that winged levity with which they brush and pass. It is all that is in us but a brief tenderness that there made eternal; all that means no more than a momentary softening that is in some strange fashion become strengthening and a repose; it is the broken speech and the lost word that are made positive and suspended unbroken; as the strange kings fade into a far country and the mountains resound no more with the feet of the shepherds; and only the night and the cavern lie in fold upon fold over some-thing more human than humanity.

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90 thoughts on “The God in the Cave

  1. Jeremiah

    I very much enjoyed reading this, Mark. Thank you for taking the time to share your thought-provoking essay and thesis. Yes, let us never forget that, Jesus is the Reason for the season.

    Merry Christmas to you, your family, and everyone here at Blogs for Victory.

    1. M. Noonan Post author

      Jeremiah,

      Chesterton can do that – but it is always vital to remember that he is writing about the Truth and the Way and the Life…which does range over quite a bit of territory.

  2. bardolf2

    Far into the night, at the coldest time of the year, in a chilly grotto, more suitable for a flock of beasts than for humans, the promised Messiah – Jesus – the savior of mankind, comes into the world in the fullness of time. Padre Pio

    Merry Christmas to Mark and the everyone here on the Blogs for Victory. The true Victory began in a cave more than 2000 years ago and was finished on a tree. The incarnation, really the enfleshing, the putting on of meat, the state of humiliation is the reason for the season as Jeremiah stated.

      1. neocon01

        Merry Christmas all

        John 14:6 ►
        Jesus answered,
        “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

      2. neocon01

        meanwhile back at the wraunch………..

        Chaplain Axed From Luxury Car Plant Just Before Christmas to Avoid Offending Non-Christian Workers. (muzzies?)

    1. neocon01

      sadly even on this wonderful day…….

      Christmas in an Anti-Christian Age
      Townhall.com ^ | December 25, 2012 | Pat Buchanan

      For two millennia, the birth of Christ has been seen as the greatest event in world history. The moment Jesus was born in a stable in Bethlehem, God became man, and eternal salvation became possible.

      This date has been the separation point of mankind’s time on earth, with B.C. designating the era before Christ, and A.D., anno domino, in the Year of the Lord, the years after. And how stands Christianity today?

      “Christianity is in danger off being wiped out in its biblical heartlands,” says the British think tank Civitas.

      In Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Ethiopia and Nigeria, Christians face persecution and pogroms. In Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, conversion is a capital offense. In a century, two-thirds of all the Christians have vanished from the Islamic world.

      In China, Christianity is seen as a subversive ideology of the West to undermine the regime.

      In Europe, a century ago, British and German soldiers came out of the trenches to meet in no-man’s land to sing Christmas carols and exchange gifts. It did not happen in 1915, or ever again.

      In the century since, all the Western empires have vanished. All of their armies and navies have melted away. All have lost their Christian faith. All have seen their birthrates plummet. All their nations are aging, shrinking and dying, and all are witnessing invasions from formerly subject peoples and lands.

      In America, too, the decline of Christianity proceeds.

      While conservatives believe that culture determines politics, liberals understand politics can change culture.

      The systematic purging of Christian teachings and symbols from our public schools and public square has produced a growing population — 20 percent of the nation, 30 percent of the young — who answer “none” when asked about their religious beliefs and affiliations.

      In the lead essay in the Book Review of Sunday’s New York Times, Paul Elie writes of our “post-Christian” fiction, where writers with “Christian convictions” like Walker Percy and Flannery O’Connor are a lost tribe.

      “Where has the novel of belief gone?” he asks.

      Americans understand why Mao’s atheist heirs who have lost their Marxist-Leninist faith and militants Islamists fear and detest the rival belief system of Christianity. But do they understand the animus that lies behind the assault on their faith here at home?

      In a recent issue of New Oxford Review, Andrew Seddon (“The New Atheism: All the Rage”) describes a “Reason Rally” in Washington, D.C., a “coming out” event sponsored by atheist groups. Among the speakers was Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins, author of “The God Delusion,” who claims that “faith is an evil precisely because it requires no justification and brooks no argument.”

      http://freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2972107/posts

      1. M. Noonan Post author

        Neocon,

        When one does read the articles of the atheists it immediately comes to mind: has even one of them ever actually looked at Christianity? As Chesterton points out in this essay, it is absurd for some higher critic of the Bible to assert there is something odd and implausible in the story of Christ when we Christians have been pointed out – shouting from the rooftops – how impossible it all is from day one (as it were). We, far better than the doubters, understand the reason to doubt…but we’ve also found the Truth, and by it all has been understood. Meanwhile, they sit in darkness spinning mental cobwebs and getting nowhere except to a smug, self-satisfaction: “hey, at least I’m not one of those toothless, ignorant, red-necked morons bitterly clinging to the Bible”…

        It is really rather sad.

  3. Amazona

    It’s interesting that the RRL posters here are so driven by mindless hate and sheer nastiness that it simply has to erupt even when the discussion is mild and non-confrontational.

    Last night I took a quick look at the blog on my way out, and saw some of the most hateful, vile, violent, seething-with-rage spewings I have ever seen from mitche–grotesque and unwelcome peeks into what is evidently a tormented mind, with bizarre imagery such as hoping that someone would rip out and eat a still-beating heart.

    I didn’t respond. How CAN you respond to this kind of savagery?

    I had spent a lovely morning, leaving before dawn to spend time with an old friend. We hadn’t been able to just visit for a couple of years, staying in touch with emails and texting, so it was special to just visit, like old times. She and I are the last ones who knew and experienced a significant time in our lives, when she boarded her horses with me and was part of that era–my husband, the dogs, the horse trainer who was like my son, the time spent riding in the mountains and on the ranch, the horse shows, the new babies, the whole life that has changed so dramatically. While I don’t exactly grieve for that time, I often miss it, and she has also thought about it a lot, so we had a nostalgic visit.

    I got home just in time to fix some things to take to a Christmas Eve dinner with really great people, all new to me in this new phase of my life, all very very special already.

    So there was no desire to taint a wonderful day in a wonderful and spiritual season with the venom and spite and sheer loathing that mitche was driven to dump on us here. It didn’t make me angry—it made me sad. There was no goading into these spasms of rage and hatred. They just bubbled up out of a well of rage and hatred that seems to require expression, and longs for the suffering of those he despises.

    And there is no reason. mitche does not despise us and wish to see our beating hearts ripped out of our bodies and devoured because we stole his land or killed his family or wronged him in some way. He harbors and nourishes and cherishes these violent feelings because of an imagined and wholly false perception of us, which he happily accepts because it is so compatible with his inner emotional turmoil, BECAUSE OF A DIFFERENCE OF OPINION ON HOW BEST TO GOVERN THE NATION.

    When we talk of a divided nation,we have to consider people like mitche, because this is the division that will do the most harm to our country. It is this descent from one level of civilization to another, far lower, which has at its core the conviction that people who disagree with you do not deserve to live, but do deserve to suffer in horrible ways.

    Yes—people who simply DISAGREE WITH YOU. People who just believe that our traditional form of government in this country, the one laid out by our Founding Fathers and codified into our Constitution, is still the best way to govern the nation.

    When did political discourse degenerate into such savagery? When did we click from spirited disagreement about objective analysis of opposing political systems to this kind ferocity and focus on wishing for the most vicious and violent fates for people just because they have a different opinion?

    I was happy to see these comments removed from the blog, but saddened by the reminder that people like mitche populate the Left and feel quite justified in their hatred and viciousness.

    1. M. Noonan Post author

      Amazona,

      I think be degenerates in to savagery when at least one party to the debate figures that life on this world is all there is and, additionally, that only one particular political ideology covers all contingencies. If one does believe that this is all there is and if one believes that one holds the absolute and only way to live, then there tends to be a violent hatred of anyone who calls that in to question.

      What a lot of people miss these days – and, for instance, what Chesterton figured out – was that everything but actual evil can be accommodated…as long as one believes in a truth over an above what humans do. There is in Christianity room for the communists – the Church called them monks and nuns. There is also, of course, room for the capitalists (provided they remember their duties to the poor). There is room for everyone…but for someone like mitche, there is no room for anyone who disagrees…his belief system is too narrow to allow any divergence.

      1. Amazona

        Mark, you are right, but I think there is an additional element to what you say. It is quite possible to be absolutely convinced of the rightness of ones’ position on something, adamant that this is the only truth, inflexible in ones’ beliefs, and still not feel animosity much less hatred for those who do not agree.

        If I show my disagreement by burning down your house or shooting your dog, then you might have some sort of foundation for hatred. But if all I do is present my side, and offer the evidence that I find compelling to support my position, a response of vicious and violent anger is just not explicable.

        I think the rage and seething resentment exist first, and looking for an outlet, a socially validated way to express it , makes the furious and hateful easy targets for a political system which can only appeal to emotions.

        The Left seeks out, recruits and then validates these personality disorders, telling those who exhibit them that—for the first time in their lives—these hostile and angry and even violent feelings are not signs of some personal problem or issue but are completely valid and even approved, IF they are directed at a designated Other. The Left, manipulating emotions as usual, goes even farther, and identifies this rage and hatred as GOOD, as not only justified but righteous, and furthermore of proof of mental and moral superiority.

        As I said, this leads to a completely broken society, in which the calm and reasoned find themselves in bitter combat with the outraged and vicious. And the more broken a society—socially, racially, religiously, economically—-the more vulnerable it is and the easier prey for the fallacies and lies of the Left.

        And the biggest lie of the Left is that it benefits and uplifts “THE PEOPLE” when in fact it diminishes the people, and empowers and enriches only the few ruling elites at the top.

        On a personal level it is offensive and annoying to be constantly bombarded by the mindless rage and hatred of the Left’s cannon fodder, but on a larger scale it is an example of a pervasive and too-often successful strategy of Divide and Conquer.

      2. rustybrown2012

        That’s ridiculous. You’re the one who allows no disagreement, and accepts superstition uncritically. You tend to make grand pronouncments out of whole cloth without a shred of objective evidence, much like religion.

      3. M. Noonan Post author

        Rusty,

        But the thing is that my superstitions still allow that you can be as you wish – and, indeed, my superstitions require that the more I dislike what you do and what you are, the more I must show love and patience with you.

        I’ll take what you call my superstitions any day over the mercilessness of those I oppose…those who never forgive, never forget and who seek vengeance ever and always.

  4. Retired Spook

    The Liberal I run into at the Y from time to time is an Atheist. Usually we discuss politics, but on one occasion he asked me about religion. I simply told him I was a Christian, and that I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. He said he considered me an intelligent person and asked how I could believe in something for which there is no proof. I told him for the same reason that he believes in nothing for which there is no proof. He’s never asked me about religion again.

    1. neocon01

      Ama

      As I said, this leads to a completely broken society, in which the calm and reasoned find themselves in bitter combat with the outraged and vicious. And the more broken a society—socially, racially, religiously, economically—-the more vulnerable it is and the easier prey for the fallacies and lies of the Left.

      Bingo…….now couple that hate and bile with an unhinged loner on mind altering drugs, being told he is a victim of evil people (his neighbors etc) and we end up with the insanity like the school house shootings.

      1. Amazona

        This may play a role in some of the mass killings, but I was speaking specifically of the role of this kind of pathology in supporting a political base.

      2. neocon01

        Ama

        but I was speaking specifically of the role of this kind of pathology in supporting a political base.

        I know but that kind of daily rhetoric sure dosent help.

  5. Amazona

    Last night we started talking about places being haunted. I started off with a story about two horse trainers, a man and a woman, who shared my ranch house when we had the Colorado ranch. One night he came home really late with a friend, and they made noise, listening to music and fixing something to eat. He felt kind of guilty about it, and thought to himself that he really owed the other trainer an apology for making so much noise when she was trying to sleep. At about 5:30 the next morning he heard her come out of her room across the hall, close her door, go into the bathroom and close the door, open the bathroom door and go downstairs—all of this accompanied by the slight vibrations you feel when someone else is walking around—-and then sounds from the kitchen. All pretty loud. He figured he deserved it, and finally got up and went downstairs to apologize, but she was not there and the lights were off. He was still pondering this when a car drove down the driveway—she had been out with friends, all night, in Cripple Creek, and they were just bringing her home.

    We told this story, with much laughter about it not only being a spirit but female spirit, on Christmas Eve, 2006, which is the last time these friends ever saw my husband, who died five days later. A week after the funeral, the horse trainer was lying on the couch as the sun went down, depressed about the recent loss, when a loud crash occurred at the head of the sofa, as if something large had fallen there, or someone had jumped off a chair next to his head. There was noise, and the physical sensation of something landing on the floor, but no one was there. We figured it was my husband, back to play a trick on him.

    One of the boys at the party told about spending the night in a big old ranch house in Wyoming, with a friend, when they were in junior high. In the middle of the night an old woman came into the room and sat on the edge of the bed, waking them both. She said “You know, this is my room.” One of the kids said—they were both sitting up in bed now—-“We were just told to sleep in here” and she replied “OK, but I sleep in here, too.” The owner of the house said later than many who had slept there had had the same kind of visitation She later remodeled the house, and the woman never returned.

    My cousin lived in Big Thompson Canyon in the mid-70’s, when a huge flash flood swept down the canyon, killing hundreds, including several of his neighbors. He and his family were in Estes Park, up at the head of the canyon, celebrating my aunt and uncle’s wedding anniversary, so they were not home when the water took out almost everything in the canyon. My cousin’s house was spared because it was on a knoll, but the people on each side were lost. He said that one neighbor would always be out in front of his house when my cousin would go to work in the morning, and would wave at him as he drove by. The first time my cousin was able to get back into his house and then go to work the next day, he saw the neighbor standing where he always did, and the neighbor waved. It was such a normal occurrence, it took him a while to remember that the neighbor had drowned in the flood.

    There was a mistake in my husband’s will, and three different people, two of whom I have still not met and who never met my husband, told me or sent messages through a third party that he had appeared to them and asked them to tell me I was correct about the way he had intended to word the statement.

    It is almost impossible to open up the subject of ghosts or experiences with spirits of those who have passed on and not have someone, or several someones, talk of experiences like these. They are experiences that, once experienced, leave absolutely no doubt in the minds of those who have had them that they were real, and were not imagination or hallucinations, and they happen to people of faith, agnostics and atheists. People are often hesitant to talk about them, because of fear they will be ridiculed, but when they do discuss these experiences it is without a shred of doubt that they did happen.

    I am not talking about professional psychics or mediums who could, possibly, either research subjects to be able to provide convincing evidence of communication with the deceased, or who are skilled at reading people and making convincing guesses. I am talking about individuals who have had personal experiences.

    If there is life after death, as the millions and millions, untold millions, of experiences like this seem to prove, then the existence of the human spirit independent of the physical body is established—and from this the concept of a void of nothingness after the death of the body is repudiated. And once the existence of a spiritual plane of existence is accepted, as it is and has been by the untold millions who have had experiences like this, the next step of assuming a Creator is a small one.

    On the contrary, there is not a scintilla of evidence of nothingness, of a void, and furthermore belief in such a void is, to use a recently popular phrase. “DENYING SCIENCE”, given the scientific principle that energy cannot be destroyed.

    1. neocon01

      Ama

      I have never seen ghosts, spirits, or had encounters….that said I have strong feelings (almost) preminitions.

      Every night before we sacked out- in Viet Nam all the guys around me would ask if we were going to be attacked that night, I would shrug and say I dont feel it so PROBABLY not.

      However there were times I knew without any doubt we had it coming and it did.
      When I slept with my pants and boots on flack jacket, helmet, rifle on the end of my bunk nobody asked they just followed suite.
      I was 100% correct predicting some 30++.
      These were not a few NVA probing our lines these were all out rocket, mortar, ground assaults.
      Needless to say when I rotated back to the states I had almost a company of combat hardened Marines passing the word around every night weather to be on high alert or get a good nights sleep.

      I still get strong feelings sometimes but not quite like over there.

      years later I sat across from an older woman at my sister in laws wedding reception, she was just staring at me her husband nudged her and strongly told her ***NO!!!***

      I said whats up?? feeling somewhat uncomfortable…..she stated she was a psychic and my aura was so strong it was impossible for her to ignore (great) she asked if we could talk and being me I said sure.

      After a great discussion and her revealing many personal things about my family and me I told her my experience in Viet Nam.
      With out batting an eye she stated- “OH that was your guardian Angel guiding you one of the biggest I have ever seen”??
      You see them?…
      No, that is the aura I see around you……WOW!!

      Ill leave some cookies out for the Hubby tonight!!

      1. Amazona

        neo, I remember commenting once that as I got older, and more people around me died, I could feel the number of my guardian angels getting bigger.

        When my husband was dying, I said to him “Don’t think for a minute your work here is done just because you are crossing over. I’m still going to need you.” And every now and then I get what I call “the bump”, which is like a nudge between my shoulder blades, and I listen to it. A year and a half ago I got the nudge, after a night of nausea and severe chills, and I paid attention, drove five hours to Colorado, and got out of the hospital ten days later. I had never had a single symptom of gall bladder problems but mine had become severely diseased and so enlarged it had started to rub a hole in my small intestine. Not only did I go to the one hospital in the area that had just started a brand new sepsis alert and treatment program, I got there barely in time to head off septic shock. One doctor told me if I had not done what I did, I would have died within a day or so.

        A psychic once approached me in a hotel lobby and said a woman had appeared to her shortly before she left her room upstairs, who looked just like me, and she thought it was my mother. She went on to tell me that I had once performed what she said was a dangerous veterinary procedure, and as she described it I remembered it—alone with a very edgy mare and a foal being presented wrong, I had gotten the mare to her feet, scrubbed up and reached in to try to turn the baby. I didn’t have stocks, the mare was just tied and tended to kick, and the power of a contraction can break a human arm if the angle is wrong, so it was kind of dangerous for me.

        I was a little panicky, and my first impulse was just to push back when the baby started to emerge, hoping it would turn inside the mother, and then a very strong sense of calm came over me and I very patiently kept my hand on the foal, let it slide partway up the birth canal, and then when the contraction subsided gently rotated the foal as it slipped back into the uterus. I did this for what seemed like hours, rotating a degree or two at a time (there are no handles on a large slick bundle tightly encased in a placenta) until the foal felt like she was in a better position, then stood back and let the final contraction push it out.

        (I went down on one knee behind the mare to catch the foal, so it wouldn’t land on its head, and when it hit me I went down with her in my arms, just in time to be drenched with amniotic fluid. As stressful and exhausting as it all was, all I could do, lying on my back with my arms around this baby horse on top of me, soaked with fluid and gunk, was laugh at the memory of that scene in “City Slickers”.)

        The mare didn’t kick me, my arm hurt like hell but was OK, the baby was fine, and it all turned out OK. I later learned that if I had pushed back during a contraction, the uterus would have ruptured and the mare and foal would have died. My vet said that what I did was exactly what a trained person would have done and wondered how I knew what to do.

        At the time I felt amazed at the sense I had of being instructed on what to do and how to do it, and told everyone it was as if someone was standing over my shoulder telling me what to do. This woman told me, years later, that my mother had been with me that night, helping me. And it suddenly all made sense, because my mom had been a nurse.

        There are so many stories like this. The day after my husband’s funeral I was in Denver to visit his mother, and planned to do a couple of things in town before I headed home to the mountains at 5:00 to get ahead of a storm due later that night. I left her apartment at 11:30 in the morning, got into his car, and suddenly felt so much pressure around me it was like I would have to fight my way through it to turn the key. I sat there for a while, then looked up at the roof of the car and said “Fine, I’ll go home now” and the pressure subsided. So I headed home, and hit the edge of a massive blizzard about a quarter of the way home, hours earlier and a lot bigger than predicted.

        I know so many people who have learned to pay attention to these feelings, and every one of them is convinced it is a guardian angel, whether a heavenly angel or the spirit of a loved one.

        I am not so arrogant that I think I have to understand something for it to be real, but merely accept the mysteries of life and wonder at them, and give thanks for them.

    2. rustybrown2012

      This is one of the most ridiculous, tortured justifications I’ve ever read. The existence of a spiritual plane is in no way “established” by random anecdotal accounts. The concept of death being the end of consciousness and any attending qualities of the individual thus holds, for there is no empirical evidence to suggest otherwise. And remember, the atheist does not need to prove the negative of non-existence since it is impossible to prove a negative. For an athiest, non-existence is merely a default in light of no other compelling alternatives. In fact, none of us knows what lies beyond the final curtain, only the atheist is humble enough to admit “I don’t know”.

      1. rustybrown2012

        Sorry, I meant the above post to respond to the whole “denying science” post by Ama a couple posts up. I’m new to this.

      2. Retired Spook

        only the atheist is humble enough to admit “I don’t know”.

        You have atheists confused with agnostics.

      3. Amazona

        In my experience, atheists deny the existence of both a Higher Power and any existence after physical death, while agnostics just say they don’t know.

        neo and I submitted evidence of some sort of existence on a plane other than ours, some of which seems to be connected to a person, or persons, who have died on this plane. I for one couldn’t care less if you find any of it compelling. What is significant is that once people, including atheists and agnostics, have had personal experiences like this they, too, come to a belief that there is something there that cannot be explained by denial of a different plane of existence.

        I never claimed to offer proof, only evidence, and I did not make public some very personal experiences that are even more compelling, nor did neo. I did note that three different people, none of whom know each other, only one of whom even knew my husband or knows me and who had absolutely no way of knowing anything about his estate, found ways to let me know the exact same piece of information about a very private matter. Yes, it is anecdotal, but is not coincidence, and I defy anyone to come up with an explanation other than the information coming from someone with knowledge not only of the document in question but of a personal conversation between my dead husband and me.

        I find it interesting that people like you, rusty, are so reactive when people talk about experiences such as neo and I have done. Why do you care? What difference does it make to you?

        I see the favorite term “empirical evidence” is back with us. You guys sure latched onto that word in a hurry, didn’t you? You seem to think it adds credibility to your various pronouncements. We’ve seen it tacked onto faked findings from bogus “scientific” experiments and onto speculations cloaked as scientific fact, so it’s clear it is a very flexible term when you Lefties use it.

        ” ……the atheist does not need to prove the negative of non-existence since it is impossible to prove a negative. For an atheist, non-existence is merely a default in light of no other compelling alternatives. ”

        Exactly. The atheist cannot prove a negative, nor provide even the slightest bit of evidence of it, It is a guess, based on absolutely nothing but personal bias, bigotry against people of faith, or fear—or any combination of the above. The atheist CHOOSES to believe in nothing, in spite of the very clear fact that this belief is based upon nothing.

        There is abundant evidence of communications from another plane of existence, even though it fails to meet your definition of “empirical”—but it is evidence.

        Another anecdote: When I moved to Wyoming, I took a carton with me to throw away, one that had a couple of empty watch boxes from a couple of cheap old watches, a jumble of unmatched earrings, etc. This box fell over in the back of my Excursion during the move, and I left the junk lying there, because it was December in Wyoming and I didn’t feel like cleaning out a vehicle in the cold and wind, when I was not driving it anyway. One day I had to move the truck from one place to another, noticed the stuff strewn across the back of the deck, and thought to myself that I really needed to throw that stuff away.

        That night I woke up with the most clear, vivid picture in my mind of that clutter lying on the back deck of the Excursion, and in the middle of it was one of those watch boxes. The box was clearly the focus of the vision. It was almost as if it had a spotlight on it. I was overcome with a sense of significance and urgency, so much so that I put on a warm robe and slippers and walked across the large farmyard in the middle of a winter night to open the back door and pick up that watch box.

        And in it was a watch I didn’t even know my husband had—-an 18K gold Patek Philippe watch engraved with his grandfather’s initials, with a note from his mother that she was giving him her father’s beloved watch. Evidently when he saw the empty watch boxes in that carton when we were putting some things in storage, he thought it was a box of valuables—I don’t know. All I know is, I was sure there was nothing of value in that collection of junk, but I was driven to go, immediately, to the picture in my mind when I woke up, and I know what was in my mind earlier that day, which was that the watch boxes were all empty and needed to be thrown away.

        It may not be “empirical evidence” but whatever it was, it saved something that has great value in different ways, and it conveyed to me a message that contained something I did not know before—that that box was special.

        Multiply this by millions and millions, millions OF millions, of similar experiences over the millenia, and you have evidence, if not proof—which is vastly more than the voiders have.

        It’s just funny that this bugs you so much you have to charge in and argue it, and insult people who believe differently than you. At least you aren’t saying our hearts should be torn from our living bodies and devoured, because we don’t share the same belief system.

      4. Amazona

        rusty, you managed to leave out a significant part of my comment. Let me repeat it, highlighting the part you found inconvenient to address:

        “….there is not a scintilla of evidence of nothingness, of a void, and furthermore belief in such a void is, to use a recently popular phrase. “DENYING SCIENCE”, given the scientific principle that energy cannot be destroyed.

        I think this principle is actually based on….wait for it…..EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE.

      5. Amazona

        “This is one of the most ridiculous, tortured justifications I’ve ever read”

        True to form, you have to invent something you can rant about.

        I posted no “justification” for anything.

        If you are so offended by people sharing anecdotes about their personal experiences, well, no one is dragging you here and making you read them. Feel free to ignore them. Better yet, to put as much distance as you can between people who are capable of engaging in civilized conversations about things that interest or intrigue them and people like you, who can only snarl with hatred and derision at anything that falls outside your rigid and narrow belief system.

        What I find so interesting is your obsession with exhibiting the most uncivil, vicious, hostile, snarling, insulting personality possible, at every opportunity, even when you have to lie about what was said to try to justify one of your little temper tantrums. This seems to be all you are capable of, so it must reflect all that you really are. It really has to suck to be you.

  6. rustybrown2012

    You certainly have some peculiar superstitious beliefs, and seem to display a distinct lack of critical thinking.

    1. rustybrown2012

      Spook, I don’t have atheists confused with agnostics. There are two questions – one of knowledge, and one of belief. Ask me “do you believe in a higher power?” I will say no. Ask me “is there a higher power?” I will reply “I don’t know”. Atheists can admit to not knowing while not committing to belief.

      1. Retired Spook

        Spook, I don’t have atheists confused with agnostics.

        I’m sorry, but in the generally accepted definitions of the two you do. I suppose one could say there are different levels of atheism, but, in general, atheists do not believe in the existence of a God (or Gods), and agnostics aren’t sure one way or the other because it can’t be proven. I would submit, based on your previous statement, that you’re an agnostic, or, as I’ve also seen described, a weak atheist. Regardless, your main thrust in this thread seems to be to attack and ridicule those who don’t believe as you do. I can respect someone who does not believe as I do, but not someone who ridicules what I believe, when their own beliefs rely on faith every bit as much as mine.

      2. rustybrown2012

        (this is wierd, I’m pasting this here again because it is in respnse to Spook’s post): Yes, but I still think you’re missing the last explanation I gave, which seems entirely consistent with your definitions. You’re right in saying atheists do not believe in the existence of god. But to describe an agnostic as someone who is not sure of what he believes? What does it mean to be not sure of what you believe in? I agree these are slippery terms (agnostic/atheist) and admit many variations. I personally think most agnostics are actually atheists – they don’t KNOW, but they also don’t BELIEVE.

        For the record, as slippery as the terms may be, I believe that most thinking atheists would ascribe to not BELIEVING in a higher power while not KNOWING if it’s there or not. Also, at this point, I do not mean to ridicule, but merely to challenge; as I find the above mentioned assertions entirely without merit. I challenge you to explain to me how my beliefs are faith based, as you claim.

      3. Retired Spook

        I challenge you to explain to me how my beliefs are faith based, as you claim.

        I submit that it actually takes more faith to look at any living organism even at the cellular level, much less the DNA level, and believe that it came into being by accident, as opposed to being the work of a master designer. It’s still a free country, though, and you have every right to believe whatever you want.

      4. Amazona

        rusty, do you actually copy your posts so you can paste them into other posts? Hmmmm. I’ve seen posters who routinely get their posts deleted do this, becoming so obsessive that they post the same thing dozens of times in an hour or so, time after time, or so a recent thread exchange claims.

        Gee, could it be that you are this guy, returning under a new name but still spouting the same old religious bigotry, the same dependence on the term “empirical”, and fully expecting to be deleted and being ready for it by having your posts ready to paste in to other posts if you are?

      5. Retired Spook

        But to describe an agnostic as someone who is not sure of what he believes? What does it mean to be not sure of what you believe in?

        I didn’t say that. I know several agnostics. They are very sure of what they believe, but their beliefs are proof driven rather than faith driven. I’m with Amazona on this; I don’t understand why this bothers you so much.

      6. M. Noonan Post author

        Spook,

        The atheist essentially argues, in resolution of the chicken/egg debate, that the first egg laid itself, by accident.

        I can far more understand an agnostic than I can an atheist – and, indeed, I don’t believe there really is such a thing as someone who is convinced there is no God…you’d have to shut your mind in to far too narrow a rut to believe that.

    2. Amazona

      You are certainly free in your snide dismissal of the beliefs of others as mere “peculiar superstition”. I supposed you base this on the lack of “empirical proof” of the validity of these beliefs.

      Yet I doubt you find the “peculiar superstition” of allegiance to Leftist political systems worth of your disdain, in spite of the fact that the “empirical proof” is that they do not just fail, but fail rather spectacularly, resulting in economic misery, loss of personal liberty, and too often in the deaths of tens or hundreds of millions.

      You seem to feel quite entitled to sneer and scoff at the belief systems of others, on the grounds that they are not supported by “empirical proofs”, yet you subscribe to the biggest scam of all, which is DENIED by “empirical proof”.

      You Lefties are not only bigoted little critters, you make no sense.

      1. rustybrown2012

        Wow, I have no idea of how to combat this fury of emotion. Amazona, please relax. I mean no ill will. Since Spook is willing to address the singular points in my posts, I’ll answer those directly: thanks for the freedom to evaluate the evidence for a designer/no-designer based on what I see in nature and in a microscope. I suspect I find the observations as miraculous as you do. I do not, however, attribute the amazing symmetries of nature to a higher power. If you believe there is a designer in every gorgeous snowfake falling past your nose, as you said, “free country”. I just see no need nor design for it.

        As for agnostics, it’s almost a distinction without a difference. It doesn’t matter to me, I know what I am: an atheist. Yet I am still able to say “I don’t know” to queries of knowledge, and a hearty, comforting “NO!” to queries of belief.

      2. Amazona

        rusty, darlin’, if you feel that my bemused observation of your pattern of dishonesty and nastiness of person is “fury” you must be quite the drama queen. Lucky for you that you are so comforted by ignorance.

        You also seem to think that I give a rat’s patootie what you may or may not intend. You’re rude, you’re insulting, and you lie to try to justify it. No big deal. We see people like you all the time.

        Actually, we see YOU all the time, in different personas, under different names, but the pattern remains obvious.

      3. rustybrown2012

        Spook, you did say that:
        ” in general, atheists do not believe in the existence of a God (or Gods), and agnostics aren’t sure one way or the other because it can’t be proven”
        That statement indicates an agnostic is not sure they believe in god one way or another, in short, they are not sure what they believe. If you meant to say “agnostics aren’t sure of the EXISTENCE of god one way or another” you should have said so. Anyway, minor point, I shouldn’t be so picky!

        But again, and Noonan seems confused on this point as well, one can be an atheist to questions of belief while being humble to questions of knowledge. There is no contradiction, and I believe this is the most common form of atheism. It’s the most rational, humble position to hold, far more sensical than the arrogance of religious thought.

      4. Amazona

        rusty, why do you care so much about what other people think?

        These are people who are not part of your life, whom you will never meet, who will never have the slightest impact on your life in any way, but you are just wildly obsessed with what we/they believe, on a very personal basis.

        And you are not only weirdly obsessed, you are downright insulting to people who don’t share your own belief system.

        You really don’t see anything wrong in this? Wrong as in unhinged, not wrong as in a moral judgment, though there is some of that, too, regarding people who viciously attack other just for having different ideas.

        So why is it, exactly, that you are driven to first troll for a blog where people post things that you find offensive or ridiculous, and then obsessively post snide and snarly attacks on the ideas and people you find there?

        It’s such an odd pathology, and I have never understood it. Since you have set yourself up as the arbiter of truth and reason, I am sure you can explain behavior that, to the non-toxic, just seems low-class and rude and somewhat desperate.

      5. rustybrown2012

        Your post is wrong on so many levels.
        “The life force, which was measured and established by “empirical proof” is now gone. There is now no measurable energy in the body.”
        what are you talking about? What is this “life-force” you’re speaking of and how was it empirically measured? Your assertion that the body now contains no measurable energy is false. There is plenty of potential energy in a corpse, and it is measurable. This energy is then dispensed through decomposition, and its dispersal can and has been measured. Ever hear of corpses emitting gases for instance?

        The experiments you refer to are nonsense and widely discredited. How am I not surprised you swallow pseudoscience hook, line and sinker? Please, crack open a science book sometime.

    3. rustybrown2012

      Hilarious! Ama, I didn’t find it “inconvenient” to address that “significant” part of you post, I ignored it because there was nothing to respond to.
      …”given the scientific principle that energy cannot be destroyed ” . So what? What’s your point? Are you asking where our energy goes after death? How about, fertilizing the earth or nourishing an insect to be crapped out by it later for starters. There are obviously many other ways our energy is dispersed back into the environment. Sheesh.

      1. Amazona

        “There are obviously many other ways our energy is dispersed back into the environment. Sheesh.”

        OK—the body is lying on the bed. The person has just died. He is not buried, is not digested to be, as you so elegantly put it, “crapped out” by an insect. The life force, which was measured and established by “empirical proof” is now gone. There is now no measurable energy in the body.

        Where did it go? It did not transform into heat or light or kinetic energy. It did not merge with the bed, or the blankets. No scientific experiment has proved that it has been transformed into any other form of energy.

        Some experiments have shown that the body abruptly becomes lighter at the moment of death, by a few grams, which scientists have explained is proof that this energy, this life force, has mass. But the question is, and always has been, where does it go?

        Maybe you ought to get in touch with them to explain your bug poo theory. I’m sure they would be fascinated.

      2. rustybrown2012

        “bug poo theory”?
        “I understand that your effort to claim that the energy contained in a living human body is transformed when it becomes fertilizer or feces is just plain dumb”?

        I’ll try to explain this so that even you can understand: a man dies. A cute, wee little bug moseys up to his corpse and gobbles up his eyeball. Yum! The orb nourishes the little critter in the form of calories (ENERGY!). Moments later, our little protagonist excretes the remains of the eyeball unto the soil where it helps nourish a seed (ENERGY!) which grows into the loveliest daisy you ever laid eyes on. Oh look, here comes Mr. Bee…

        This charming tale illustrates but a couple of the countless ways our energy is transferred to the environment upon death in the beautiful cycle of life. Do I really need to explain this basic biological process to you more clearly, or do you think you’ve got it this time?

      3. Amazona

        Perhaps you should try to be more clear. I was speaking of the electrical energy that powers the body, that surges through the brain and sends messages to the nerves and muscles, the LIFE FORCE that ceases to operate at physical death.

        You seem to be talking about meat.

        I can restate your asinine little tale without changing the meaning.

        “I’ll try to explain this so that even you can understand: a man buys a steak.. A cute, wee little bug moseys up to it and gobbles it up. Yum! The steak nourishes the little critter in the form of calories (ENERGY!). Moments later, our little protagonist excretes the remains of the steak unto the soil where it helps nourish a seed (ENERGY!) which grows into the loveliest daisy you ever laid eyes on. Oh look, here comes Mr. Bee…”

        Well, excretion is not the same as excreting “the remains” of the food, but you’re in the same ballpark.

        The thing is, you are not talking about the Life Force, the actual ENERGY that makes a living, thinking, feeling, functioning human being different from a slab of cold meat hacked from a dead body.

        Scientists have wondered about what happens to this energy, and have done experiments to see if they can find out, While you seem to be arguing, at least some of the time, that it just flies off into space or something, if it is not “eaten” by some other organism, this is hardly what SCIENCE has been able to prove. There have been efforts to record this energy leaving the body at death, and the most sensitive of measuring equipment has not been able to sense it heating up the air around the body, or creating light around he body, or doing any of the things that a transfer of energy from one form to another is known to do.

        All they DO know is that upon death this energy is gone, and the body loses a tiny amount of weight at that time.

        So while you seem quite enchanted with your meat-bug poo-daisy scenario, which you obviously slaved over to get it just right, it really doesn’t have anything to do with the actual ENERGY being transformed. You are talking about the transformation of MATTER, which involves the application of energy to matter, but the energy applied to the steak, or to the eyeball, comes from the insect, not from the inert meat.

        And the real question is, WHY DO YOU CARE ???

        You have a belief system which, as you have said, comforts you. Fine. Go comfort yourself with it. What is it about you that makes you seek out others who have different belief systems and then harangue and insult them?

      4. rustybrown2012

        Ama,

        You’re just being obtuse, and I can’t say I blame you since I’ve proven you wrong on every point.

        Here’s a news flash for ya: we are meat. When one speaks of the energy inside the human body, including “the electrical energy that powers the body”, one is speaking of tangible, measurable units of energy. When you speak of a measurable “life force” (chortle!), you’re uttering complete nonsense that has no basis in the real world. How is this life force measured (as you claim it has been)? If you are referring to those ridiculous “21 gram” experiments, I’ve already told you those are complete poppycock; please, do some objective research. Upon death, the body does not lose a “tiny amount of weight at that time”. In short, there is no measurable energy in the body that is unaccounted for upon death.

        As a side note, and this is tiresome, I’m not sure what your beef (no pun intended) is with my use of the word “excrete”. That sentence is grammatically correct. Wrong again, Sally!

  7. rustybrown2012

    In addition, Ama, I would not try to dissuade one from a personal expererience with a power perceived outside of oneself. I know that these experiences can be perceived as very real, and can be very meaningful and instructive to the individual. My sister is as Carholic as I am lapsed, and I accept the importance it has upon her life. I feel however, that these should be personal, comforting delusions.

      1. neocon01

        rustynails

        Psalm 14:1….”The fool hath said in his heart “there is no God”.”

        rusty….is dat you?

    1. Amazona

      rusty, as long as your delusions comfort you, that’s all that matters.

      If you ever have an experience that cannot be explained without the possibility of life after physical death, you may have to question the delusions that now bring you so much comfort, but till then, stick with what works for you.

      1. rustybrown2012

        Ama, I was obviously referring to my sister’s delusion, not my own. I’m sure you know that and are just being snotty, as you’re want to do. If not, perhaps you would benefit from a course in reading comprehension. Adult learning can be a wonderful thing. Check out one on evolution while you’re at it.

      2. Amazona

        meow…….

        So why is it, exactly, that you are driven to first troll for a blog where people post things that you find offensive or ridiculous, and then obsessively post snide and snarly attacks on the ideas and people you find there?

        It’s such an odd pathology, and I have never understood it. Since you have set yourself up as the arbiter of truth and reason, I am sure you can explain behavior that, to the non-toxic, just seems low-class and rude and somewhat desperate.

      3. Amazona

        And by the way, the term is “..as you are WONT to do…”

        Guess you’re not a very good ad for that adult education you are touting……………

    2. Amazona

      And I liked your choice of words, as I am a Carholic—that is, once the weather gets cold, it’s Carharts till spring.

    3. Amazona

      How too too condescending of you to agree that my experiences MAY be “perceived as very real”.

      What strikes me is the conviction of someone who is ignorant of the facts being so smug about his absolute belief that my experiences were only PERCEIVED as real. Yeah, the two people involved have so much less credibility than someone ignorant of the facts and details, who just makes these arrogant judgments years after the fact, because these kinds of experiences don’t fit into a belief system he has decided is correct, to the exclusion of others.

      1. rustybrown2012

        “How too too condescending of you to agree that my experiences MAY be “perceived as very real”.” ( how do I paste quotes here so they’re italicized ?)

        That’s what reasonable human beings do. When presented with an extraordinary personal anecdote, you judge it’s veracity based on how likely said event is. Occam’s razor and all that.

        You, apparently, operate differently. So when I tell you about my breakfast with Bigfoot this morning, you clasp your chin in your hands and say “geeeeee!”. Whatever works for ya.

      2. Amazona

        Oh my goodness, rusty, aren’t you just the clever little monkey—now you are redefining Occam’s Razor, and throwing in a Rogue Apostrophe just so show how smart you are!

        And then topping it all off with another of your imagined scenarios, which you need to shore up your fantasies of superiority and which really only illustrate your dependence on those voices in your head.

        But, as I said, you need the little delusions of what you imagine other people think and do and say, to support your grand delusion of being smarter than everyone else. Just a little tip, here, though, Sparky—-you really ought to brush up on your grammar, particularly homonyms and punctuation of pronouns, and check out real definitions of terms instead of just winging it.

        BTW, any ideas on what bugs you so much about what strangers think, or consider as possible mysteries of the universe? Is your self-identity so shaky that it is threatened by people you don’t even know who have different ideas than you do?

  8. Jeremiah

    Amazona,

    I really appreciate you sharing those two experiences you had; about the foal and the watches. That was pretty neat. Awesome! :)

    You know, one time, long time ago, my Daddy, he was scheduled to go to this guy’s house on a service call, and he said when he got to the man’s house, he got out of the vehicle, and started up the walkway to his house, and something stopped him, like a hand came out, and said “Whoa! Turn around!” And on his way out, he saw people staring at him through the window curtains of that house, as he was walking away. He got in his vehicle, and came back home. Well, the next day, when the evening news came on…there was a report of a shooting at that same house, that man killed two people on an ATV.

    I think that was a guardian angel watchin’ over my Daddy! And you know, he never had any clue what was going on in that home, or the peoples minds who lived there.

    I had an experience, too…more recent…back in November…I was trackin’ a deer….it was pretty level ground where I was walking, ya know…but whenever I had to go down over the hill, where the deer went, about a third of the way down the hill, my legs started a shakin’, with every step down that hill, my legs was a shakin’ so bad, that I didn’t think my legs was gonna hold me up…I could stand still and they didn’t bother me, when I tried to take a step, it was like I didn’t have any knees, or support whatsoever..I wasn’t a bit nervous, or scared or anything, it was just my legs. Well, when I started back up the hill, I took ten steps, and I was so out of breath I couldn’t hardly breathe, I would take ten step and fall down, lay down on my back, and just breathe…I thought I was just out of shape, you know, that I needed more exercise, but when I went about 50 or 60 more paces, that’s when I knew there was something wrong with me besides being out of shape, my heart was doing more than beating fast, it was doing all kinds of tricks/gymnastics, whatever you want to call it..’n’ I seen a big rock about ten paces above me there ‘n’ when I got to that rock, I fell down on my knees and prayed, I prayed to Almighty God to get me the rest of the way up out of there…’n’ you know, all at once, my heartbeat went back to normal, and I was gettin’ oxygen to vitals…I walked right on out of there with the strength of two men…God He carried me to safety…like He has so many times before.

    ‘n’ you know, it ain’t just in the trying times that I call on Him, but I call on Him in the good times, too…cause it’s only by His good grace that we even take another breath of air…so I thank Him for everyday that He’s given me. Can’t say for tomorrow cause He might call me home before sunrise…but I thank Him nonetheless if I do get to see another sunrise.

    But you know, these atheists, I bet you nine times out of ten, that the first word that comes out of their mouth, if they seen a tornado comin’ or a wall of water, like a Tsunami, that the first word that comes out of their mouth is “Oh G-d” …… Now ain’t that somethin’? Any other day or time, and they would say “What God?”

    This is what Psalm 14:1 says….”The fool hath said in his heart “there is no God”.”

    1. rustybrown2012

      Ama, Occam’s Razor most certainly applies here, as does the apostrophe, look it up cupcake. To illustrate: a person says “I just saw a ghost!” There are two possibilities 1) the laws of physics are shattered as this is proof of the existence of the soul beyond death. 2) the person is mistaken and hallucinated or misapprehended something. Occam’s Razor cuts cleanly here, Bing! Bing! It’s number 2! Remember, Occam’s Razor says nothing about proof, just likelihood.

      Ooooo, and burn on me for that spelling error! Good one there, chief. You misunderstand the most significant scientific theory of the last few centuries, one that’s routinely taught to grade school children, and I mistype a letter. Yeah, that’s equivalent!

      1. Amazona

        Occam’s Razor: “It is a principle stating that among competing hypotheses, the one that makes the fewest assumptions should be selected.”

        Both of your cockamamie examples are rife with assumptions, while the least assumptive is that someone actually saw a ghost. You depend on your own assumptions of physics and mental health—both of which are faulty, by the way—but the principle is that the simplest answer is usually the right one, not that the answer that slots into your bigotry is.

        You are also wrong on your misuse of the apostrophe. It is not used in a possessive pronoun. The possessive of “it” is “its”. The contraction “it’s” really means “it is”, the apostrophe taking the place of the letter I in “is” and allowing the combination of the two words. So, grammatically speaking, what you said was “…you judge it is veracity…”

        What is that other error? So many to choose from….

        Oh, yes, you are wrong—AGAIN—when you claim I “…misunderstand the most significant scientific theory of the last few centuries..” Not quite sure which “..most significant scientific theory of the last few centuries..” you are blathering on about, as your sentence structure is so sloppy it is often hard to tell, but I understand the theory of evolution, I clearly understand Occam’s Razor far better than you, I actually know the definition of “atheist”, I understand that your effort to claim that the energy contained in a living human body is transformed when it becomes fertilizer or feces is just plain dumb, and I know that none of these silly assertions of yours even remotely qualifies as “… the most significant scientific theory of the last few centuries…” so once again, dear lad, you are SOL.

        And I notice that you expend a lot of words on your wide range of fallacies, but ignore my own questions of you: BTW, any ideas on what bugs you so much about what strangers think, or consider as possible mysteries of the universe? Is your self-identity so shaky that it is threatened by people you don’t even know who have different ideas than you do?

      2. rustybrown2012

        Wowee. So your position is that a ghost is more likely than an hallucination. That a supernatural explanation contains less assumptions than a natural explanation. That’s patently absurd, and wildly wrong. How gullible you are. Pity. Let’s try this one: I just saw a Bigfoot run past my window. This area is rife with deer but Bigfoot is unknown to man and most probably doesn’t exist. By your logic, it’s Bigfoot. THAT’S less assumptive. Amazing. I really don’t know what to say…

      3. Amazona

        Oh, give it a rest. Your silly efforts to make your silly points just make your posts browner by the minute.

        Isn’t there some other group you can nag and nitpick? You are getting quite tiresome here, especially as you are not willing to explain why it is so important to you to barge into a blog where people are quite capable of exchanging pleasant anecdotes and experiences, and—not to put too fine a point on it—trying to shit on it.

        That’s YOUR pathology, dude, but it’s getting old.

      4. Amazona

        “I really don’t know what to say…”

        Oh, goody. Does that mean you’ll stop saying it?

        Hooray—this round’s on me.

      5. Amazona

        BTW, back to your grammar lesson: You say “That a supernatural explanation contains less assumptions than a natural explanation”

        Wrong. The modifier “Less” applies to volume, not to number. The correct way to say this would be “That a supernatural explanation contains fewer assumptions than a natural explanation..”

        “There is less water in the blue pitchers, and there are fewer blue pitchers on the table.”

        Oh, let me guess—-you are going to try to call THIS a “mistype” as well, as you did when you didn’t know there is a word “wont” and wrote “want”, trying to carry off the claim that the A being so close to the O and all, you meant to hit one and accidentally hit the other.

        How’s that bug poo theory coming along?

        And any progress on that …any ideas on what bugs you so much about what strangers think, or consider as possible mysteries of the universe? Is your self-identity so shaky that it is threatened by people you don’t even know who have different ideas than you do? query?

      6. rustybrown2012

        Oh, and I thought you were referring to the apostrophe in “Occam’s”, not it’s. You’re quite right about that. However, the error was not my own. I’m typing on an iPad and it sometimes automatically adds punctuation, even when inappropriate, and I missed that one. Good catch though! Must fill you with oodles of self-righteousness! Keep up the good fight, you’re bound to spot more!

      7. Amazona

        “….you call me obsessive……”

        Yep, I do. And tiresome, and now too boring.

        By-by, little man. Go annoy someone else.

      8. rustybrown2012

        And yes, I was referring to evolution which, based on your previous writing, you most certainly do not understand.
        In addition, I clearly described my correct application of Occam’s Razor above. If you are too stubborn and/or dense to acknowledge it, you’re beyond my help. My definition of atheist is sound, but I have also alluded to many other variations.
        Lastly, concerning energy, are you seriously disputing that our physical energy is not dispersed into the surrounding environment upon death? Thats not a theory, it’s a fact.

      9. Amazona

        Awww, that’s so cute. He’s still kicking the floor and wailing that he actually has something to say.

        Well, not :cute” so much as “sad and creepy” but that’s our little rusty. Yeah, generator-of-brown, your own definitions are for sure the right ones, uh-huh, that’s the ticket.

        (See, this is what happens when the kiddies get trophies just for participating…)

      10. M. Noonan Post author

        Rusty,

        Occam’s razor can only exclude a ghost if one presumes one rather impossible thing – that Nature is all there is. The reason it is impossible to believe such a thing – once you think about it – is that if Nature is all there is then there is no free will…everything which happens is the result of the blind working out of the “total event” which is called Nature…including your belief that Occam’s razor excludes the ghost. If you actually believed that Nature is all there is then you have, intellectually, cut your own throat. Your thoughts are invalid because they are not thoughts but the mere output of all the inputs that brought you to this point…you can’t think, you can’t reason, you can’t decide…you can’t believe any more than you can disbelieve.

        People who believe in God, on the other hand, are free to rigidly observe the laws of Nature and profit from them while also holding that God – who is outside of Nature – can intervene in His creation. In other words, we can live in the world where miracles are the exception. We don’t expect them to happen at any given moment, but we’re perfectly content with them when they arrive. They present us no difficulties and we don’t have to do mental backflips trying to explain them away. Something stupendously good happened in a totally inexplicable way? Fine. God wanted it to be that way…meanwhile, the laws of Nature go on their merry way, none the worse for God having allowed an exception.

      11. rustybrown2012

        Mark, I apologize in advance if this comment is out of place – I’m not sure how to make it appear directly under your post, there is no ” reply” button on your post.

        Anyway, for one thing, I never said Occam’s razor EXCLUDED a ghost. The rule only makes a ghost LESS LIKELY than a common, reasonable earthly explanation, such as a misapprehension. I cannot prove it was not a ghost, and certainly would not attempt to. But to believe it was a ghost is to make many more assumptions than to believe otherwise.

        Also, I don’t believe that “nature is all there is” , but I have no EVIDENCE to the contrary. There are many mysteries to which we yet have no answers, but I will not fill in the blanks without evidence.

        Lastly, I know you must vehemently disagree, but I don’t believe in free will, at least not as it is commonly understood. I believe that there are prior natural causes to all things, yet that makes our thoughts, feelings, etc. no less valid. My thoughts and actions are real, and have consequences, but I believe they are products of previous thoughts, actions and brain activity to which I am ignorant.

      12. M. Noonan Post author

        Rusty,

        How can it be less likely that I’ve seen a ghost and thus more likely that I’m mentally unbalanced? If I say, “I saw a ghost” that provides precisely zero evidence that I’m imagining things. Now, if you also see me painting my face blue then you can put a bit of two and two together there…but if I’m otherwise apparently of sound mind and body then you have no way, razor or otherwise, to discount what I say and leap to a conclusion which fits your pre-conceived notion that there must be a natural explanation for what I saw. If I say, “I saw a ghost” then that is my uncorroborated testimony…but it allows you no ability to make any judgement about it, unless you can later provide proofs that I’m either a habitual liar or insane.

        If the 30,000 fans at a football stadium told you they say Football Player X make a touchdown you would accept the matter as settled, even if there were no photographic or other physical evidence of the event. But, what if 30,000 people told you they saw the sun dance, as it were, in the sky? You’d probably leap to some sort of “group psychosis” explanation – but you’d be doing that as a desperate expedient…tossing your Occam’s razor in the ditch as if it were a bad habit and multiplying as many hypotheses as proves necessary to get you out of a jam which might force you to accept a supernatural explanation.

        And that is the thing about those who deny the supernatural – it is they who have to multiply hypotheses to explain away the event. All I need is one hypotheses: God wanted it so. To get around the literal thousands of miracles which are attested to by vast amounts of evidence a person has to desperately weave the most fantastic webs of sophistry.

      13. rustybrown2012

        “If I say, “I saw a ghost” that provides precisely zero evidence that I’m imagining things.”

        Not true. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. It’s logical to look for natural explanations first. If I say “I saw a fairy” or ” I saw a two-headed unicorn” would you uncritically accept those claims as well?

        “If I say, “I saw a ghost” then that is my uncorroborated testimony…but it allows you no ability to make any judgement about it, unless you can later provide proofs that I’m either a habitual liar or insane.”

        Nonsense. We make judgements without proof all the time, as we should. I’m sure if you reflect on this you’ll agree.

        “If the 30,000 fans at a football stadium told you they say Football Player X make a touchdown you would accept the matter as settled, even if there were no photographic or other physical evidence of the event. But, what if 30,000 people told you they saw the sun dance, as it were, in the sky? You’d probably leap to some sort of “group psychosis” explanation – but you’d be doing that as a desperate expedient…”

        If those fans reported a touchdown I would accept it, and require no further evidence, because a touchdown in a football stadium is one of the most common, natural and expected events you could imagine, and the evidence for touchdowns in stadiums is ample.
        But sun dancing in the sky? Unprecedented. Remember, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence so, yes, I would look to naturalistic explanations first. 30,000 is a lot, so I may for example look for some kind of unusual meteorological explanation. When the sun dances, we’ll talk.

        “And that is the thing about those who deny the supernatural – it is they who have to multiply hypotheses to explain away the event. All I need is one hypotheses: God wanted it so.”

        There is nothing inherently wrong with having multiple hypotheses for an unexplained event. And there is nothing wrong with saying “we cannot yet explain this”. But to leap to a supernatural explanation is always a logical error, and an end to reasoning.

      14. M. Noonan Post author

        Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

        Says who? Not those who want to claim that unguided evolution allowed life to arise from lifelessness…that extraordinary claim is essentially to be treated as established fact in spite of zero evidence that it is even possible.

        We make judgements without proof all the time, as we should.

        Which is another bit of weakness in the naturalist argument, actually; once you think it through.

        But sun dancing in the sky? Unprecedented.

        No, rare, not unprecedented. It happened in 1917. Some crowd estimates go as high as 100,000, but I go with the lower estimate out of an abundance of caution. It was reported in the news; scientists were present. People who were sure it was a hoax were there. They all saw it. To this day there are doubters and there are natural explanations offered…but, once again, all the explanations for it are far more complex than, “God wanted it so”.

        …to leap to a supernatural explanation is always a logical error, and an end to reasoning.

        No, it is a thing to be considered as you reason through it. Perhaps the least likely explanation, but not one which can be automatically excluded.

      15. rustybrown2012

        Mark,

        “says who?”

        Says anybody who is a critical thinker, I think the phrase is self-evident. Regarding evolution, it is a theory mainly concerned with the development of life on this planet and has little to say about abiogenesis. The theory of evolution is as close to a scientific fact as you can get and has been strengthened by countless scientific advances in the past hundred and fifty years or so.

        Secondly, when I say we make judgments without proof all the time, I’m speaking in context to what we’re discussing, personal claims, not naturalistic or scientific claims. It’s simply a fact that we are constantly judging veracity and character without hard proof every step of the way.

        And finally, regarding Fatima, there is no proof that a miracle occurred, nor is it even likely. The sun most certainly did not physically dance in the sky; as the entirety of the rest of the world, including observant astronomers, witnessed no such event. Here is a good rundown of more reasonable explanations. This page gives you an option to listen to his synopsis and I encourage you to do so. His presentation is pretty good, although I don’t always agree with him:

        http://skeptoid.com/mobile/4110

      16. Amazona

        rusty, your random definition process is hard at work again.

        For example, you now define “evolution” in what can only be seen as a unique way: “Regarding evolution, it is a theory mainly concerned with the development of life on this planet and has little to say about abiogenesis. ”

        Yet, as usual, you have this completely backwards. Abiogeneisis IS the process by which life arose from inorganic matter, or at least the theory that it did. Evolution is not the same as abiogenesis but refers to the changes in organisms over time, due to various factors. Evolution is not about the actual creation of life, but about what happens to it after that point.

        To be fair, when you say “… evolution….. is a theory mainly concerned with the development of life on this planet …” you COULD mean, by “development”, the changes I mention and not the beginning of life itself.. As usual, your syntax is muddled. If this is what you mean then yes, evolution DOES have “…little to say about abiogenesis… ”

        You assert, falsely, that I do not understand the concept of evolution. I do, and have discussed it and given examples of it, including my possession of teeth from the prehistoric ancestor of the horse. There is no argument about evolution, but there IS argument about abiogeneisis vs Intelligent Design, or creation rather than spontaneous conversion of inanimate matter into life.

        You are the one confused.

        And,as usual, the question arises—what the hell is wrong with you, that you have to go surfing the Web to find a place where people talk about things that upset you (and why do the opinions of strangers upset you anyway?) and then barge in with personal attacks and obsessive quibbling?

        You seem to have an insatiable and rather creepy need to be in the middle of conflict, even if you have to create it. Given your inability to stay within accepted definitions of terms and your seething antagonism toward those who do not agree with you, you pretty much guarantee conflict wherever you start throwing around your distorted perceptions and your personal attacks.

      17. M. Noonan Post author

        Rusty,

        Says anybody who is a critical thinker…

        Except anyone who says that life can come from lifelessness is pretty uncritical in his thinking.

        The theory of evolution is as close to a scientific fact…

        …as you can get without it being scientific fact…and as it isn’t scientific fact, why treat it as such?

        …(it) has been strengthened by countless scientific advances in the past hundred and fifty years or so.

        Funny thing is, about half of the “scientific facts” of 50 years ago have subsequently proven to be non-factual.

        …regarding Fatima, there is no proof that a miracle occurred…

        Nor any that it didn’t.

        …nor is it even likely.

        If you are one of those who have an entirely unreasonable bias against the supernatural.

        The sun most certainly did not physically dance in the sky…

        Says you, who wasn’t there.

        …as the entirety of the rest of the world, including observant astronomers, witnessed no such event.

        But some people in different parts of the world did observe it.

        Here is a good rundown of more reasonable explanations.

        I’ve seen some – the most funny is the assertion that the reason people saw the sun dance is that they looked at the sun and by so doing got the impression that it danced. No one looks directly at the sun, because you can’t do it – too bright, blinds you People looked at the sun at that time because it became possible to do so…and it danced (it was also cloudy and raining just before the event – and then – rather poof-like – the clouds and rain disappeared and there was the sun…looking odd and doing strange things).

        You’re working this from entirely the wrong angle – as if I’m some poor fool who never considered that miracles might not occur. What you fail to realize is that I’ve come to my conclusions about miracles based upon reason. I suggest the book Miracles by C.S. Lewis as a start for you to understand where I’m actually coming from.

      18. rustybrown2012

        “For example, you now define “evolution” in what can only be seen as a unique way: “Regarding evolution, it is a theory mainly concerned with the development of life on this planet and has little to say about abiogenesis. ”

        Yet, as usual, you have this completely backwards. Abiogeneisis IS the process by which life arose from inorganic matter, or at least the theory that it did. Evolution is not the same as abiogenesis but refers to the changes in organisms over time, due to various factors. Evolution is not about the actual creation of life, but about what happens to it after that point.”

        I do not have it completely backwards, as you state, but perhaps I could be more clear. When I said “…evolution is mainly concerned with the development of life”, I meant since the creation of life. In fact, the term “development” commonly refers to changes within an EXISTING system, structure, whatever – so it was not muddled syntax on my part but merely an understandable misunderstanding on your part. Ya know, you can ask for clarification, you dont always have to attack at first glance.

        So I’m in agreement with you about the definition of abiogenesis and, so far, your take on evolution. Hey! We agree on something! Cheers!

        As far as ID goes, sorry, pure hokum.

      19. M. Noonan Post author

        Rusty,

        Evolution is not the same as abiogenesis…

        True, but if ID is false then the only sort of evolution is unguided – and that means, ultimately, that life must have arisen from lifelessness…which is clearly nonsensical.

        That is what gets me about the whole debate over ID – those who insist we can’t use it turn around and insist we believe something even more impossible than a Creator. There is plenty of evidence for evolution and not an iota of it in any way, shape or form precludes a Creator…and yet some people insist that when we discuss evolution we can only discuss it in terms of there being no Creator. Very odd. Very unreasonable.

      20. Amazona

        rusty, you are too funny. Now you are arguing with yourself. You quote my quote of what you said and then snipe at it. I can see why—as it is unrelated to reality, it might be hard to recognize once it has left the fever swamp of your mind. But just to keep it interesting, after you argue with yourself you agree with yourself.

        But thanks for the info that there is no difference between a living, breathing, thinking, human being and a cold slab of meat carved off a dead animal. While that DOES go a long way to explaining you and your torturous “thought” process, it only makes sense if I can expect the “energy” of my pork roast to make it suddenly be prepared to play Scrabble with me.

        Interesting to see the wide range and scope of your RDS, or Random Definition Syndrome. Atheists do not deny the existence of God but are just indecisive about it, all energy is the same whether it animates a living creature or has to go be released through a chemical process such as digestion or decomposition, evolution either is or is not the same as life springing from non-life, Occam’s Razor is really about what is most likely once the person trying to apply it has factored in all his personal assumptions and biases, you don’t make mistakes but your computer makes them for you, ” physical energy” is “…dispersed into the surrounding environment upon death…”, people do not have the free will to make their own decisions but they are dictated by “…prior natural causes to all things…” and are “…are products of previous thoughts, actions and brain activity to (sic) which (you are) ignorant..”,—you are just a bundle of unique perceptions and concepts, but quite adamant that your own interpretations are the right ones.

        I’m starting to understand why you are driven to search the internet for people to argue with. I can’t imagine the frustration of trying to have an actual, face-to-face, conversation with someone who skitters so wildly from one bizarre misunderstanding of pretty much everything to another but never loses track of the determination to hammer anyone who tries to point out the errors, not to mention the absurdities, of his arguments. I am sure that you are reduced to seeking out people on line so you can assault them from a distance, having driven away everyone you might otherwise interact with.

        Though you steadfastly refuse to answer the repeated questions about what drives you to seek out people with different ideas and then barge in to attack, insult, and harangue them, as your posts increase in volume and decrease in lucidity it becomes clear.

      21. M. Noonan Post author

        Rusty,

        You were doing ok for a bit there and the conversation was interesting, but now you’re just getting to be rude. We’re not asking for incessant reiteration of your view that belief in the super natural is wrong…what we’d like is to hear a convincing argument of why it is wrong to believe in the supernatural. Occam’s razor, I’m afraid, won’t help you here – you’ll need to set up a series of facts and deductions from those facts which indicate why it is impossible – or so unlikely as makes no odds – for the supernatural to exist.

        And then we’ll, once again, point out that if your argument is well-crafted, it will also disprove your own views.

  9. Jeremiah

    ‘N’ bout the snowflakes…you know I was a sittin’ in the woods one time…it was colder than blue blazes….I was a sittin’ there…’n’ all at once it started a snowin’…there wasn’t any wind…the snow came down real easy like…’n’ as it was falling on my coat…it was the most picturesque, intricate, uniformly shaped snowflakes I ever saw. It was cold enough that the snowflakes held their shape as they landed…but I notice that sometimes if it’s not cold enough that the flakes will break, or if there is a good bit of wind.

    I’m tellin’ ya, there’s so much in God’s glorious Creation, that it never ceases to amaze me.

    1. neocon01

      ANOTHER unhinged MORON leftist commie.

      Piers Morgan: Both the Bible and U.S. Constitution Are ‘Inherently Flawed’ and Need to Be Amended
      Politics

      “…it’s time for an amendment to the Bible.”

      but silence on islam….why is that piers?

      Oh WAIT!!

      http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/

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