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Gerald O'brian


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Evolution: "just a theory". Scientific caution is sometimes confusing.

The fact that our best available theories are still speculations misleads some people to believe that these ideas are not founded. Hence, some people suppose their uneducated opinion is just as bad, or as good, as the mainstream scientific hypothesis.
This trend is probably led by the way science has been taught, i e as a flawless method that offers facts about reality.
And by pre-scientific philosophy, still strong in our modern societies.

Evolution is "just a theory" the way Notre Dame is "just a pile of rocks", isn't it?



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  • May 22 2013: Evolution, when seen as the start of the universe, is an excuse to not believe in a God. There exists no (scientific) proof about whatever happened millions of years ago, it is all interpretation, opinion.

    Evolution does exist, but is no more than an adjusting to life's situation, to survive or lead a better life. This applies to finches as well as human beings.

    As human beings we can go with whatever approach we feel most comfortable with.. That freedom will never be taken away from us, never.
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      May 22 2013: Why would one need an excuse to not believe in God?
      • May 23 2013: I can't answer for someone else but the most basic reason, I think, is ignorance about what God is and how He operates. Could be a basic aversion for authority. One's upbringing and inherited mind-set is a big issue.
        Many people have to 'brake the cycle' just to become bearable to society around them.
        The 12 steps that AA uses is based on Swedenborg's writings and one big point or step is to accept the existence of a higher power.
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          May 23 2013: Is there anything wrong with not believing in God?
          Do you think aversion for authority is a bad thing for someone living in today's world?
        • May 31 2013: Everyone has a relationship with GOD, even if you choose to not believe in GOD that is your relationship with him, but no-one has the true knowledge to speak what is to happen to non-believers and believers only the Father our GOD. But what i do know, every person is innocent of birth. we were not asked to be alive. Just say to yourself right now... i am me, im alive, i am aware of myself. we are innocent of birth. This makes sense why GOD became man to die for our sins, and showed us how to live. is it only fare? for GOD to become man and die for our sins so all who believes in Christ may be saved through him. its a ticket to heaven. GOD does not play it by ear, everything has already been written and we are living the book GOD has wrote. im not trying to convince anyone of anything only sharing you the TRUTH.
      • May 24 2013: Hi Gerald,
        "Is there anything wrong with not believing in God?'
        Every human being believes in some 'god,' whether that is seeing oneself as god, or nature or money or prestige etc.

        Anyone without a belief in a higher power, regards whatever he believes as truth and regards whatever he loves as good.
        As we may know, it takes us about three seconds to justify any, and the worst action.

        A belief in a God enables us to do good for goodness sake, and believe truth for the sake of truth. Not in order to become rich or famous, etc.
        One question, who do we give the merit for the good actions we do?

        "Do you think aversion for authority is a bad thing for someone living in today's world?"
        If I was running a company I would not hire someone that had an aversion to authority, that could not follow instructions.

        Humility is the best basis for growth and connection with the world around us and God. As He said, in order to go to heaven we have to become as little children. That does not mean letting go of all we know. It means a willingness to be led. By no means thoughtlessly and blindly, but to give authority to those that deserve it.

        If there is any interest in a belief in a God, this greatly helped me because it goes into the details.
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          May 24 2013: I see myself as a human being, a mammal with the most developed brain/mind we know of.

          I do not see myself as something deserving to be labelled a god.

          Are you asserting that if you do not believe in an external god then by default you are or assume yourself to be a god? Big call.

          How do you define god?
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          May 24 2013: "Anyone without a belief in a higher power, regards whatever he believes as truth and regards whatever he loves as good. "

          Not necessarily. Whether it's God or reality, do people really claim to have absolute access to it?
          And is there really a difference in humility between the monk figuring out the universe as God created it, and the atheist figuring out the universe as something which origin is part of the mystery?
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          May 30 2013: "A belief in a God enables us to do good for goodness sake, and believe truth for the sake of truth. Not in order to become rich or famous, etc....."

          I don't see the need for a God to do any of that...I can do good because I know it is a positive influence in the world....not because it'll get me eternal brownies points, as many Theists argue it will.
      • May 24 2013: Hi Obey,
        --"Are you asserting that if you do not believe in an external god then by default you are or assume yourself to be a god?"--
        What do you mean with external?? God is infinite, omnipresent. That means everywhere and always, in time and apart from time. Humans are finite and in time and space (and some are totally attached to time and space). Those that totally disregard the God-side of life, I assume, want to be gods themselves. "Big call" indeed.

        How we define God?
        This is from Wikipedia about Swedenborg.
        "Swedenborg saw creation as a series of pairings, descending from the Divine love and wisdom, that define God and are the basis of creation. This duality can be seen in the pairing of good and truth, charity and faith, God and the church, and husband and wife. In each case, the goal for these pairs is to achieve conjunction between the two component parts. In the case of marriage, the object is to bring about the joining together of the two partners at the spiritual and physical levels, and the happiness that comes as a consequence."

        God is divine Love and divine Wisdom, which combined produce Use. Use is love.
        As images and likenesses of that, and receivers of life, we have a will so we can receive His love, and we have an intellect to receive His wisdom. IF WE WANT TO!!

        By combining, balancing and using our will and intellect we CAN become useful human beings. We can if we have the humility to see God as the source of the truth we believe and the good we do.
        As soon as we see ourselves as the source of all that, we think we are god.

        Can animals decide to love their enemies, can they meditate? If not, is that all because of their electical connections or lack of neurons maybe?
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          May 26 2013: I'm confused as to why you compare 'good and truth' together.
          Please explain?
          Is this because the 'truth is good?' Or 'goodness is truth?'
          How do you define 'truth' (Is truth a belief which reflects reality?) and 'good'(Is 'good' obeying God's Will?)
          Kind regards,
      • May 24 2013: --"How do you define god?"--

        You mean you really would like to know??????

        Then please read the link just above, if you dare LOL
      • May 25 2013: Hi Gerald
        --"Whether it's God or reality, do people really claim to have absolute access to it?"--

        Do you mean absolute access to reality? Yes, because if we do not believe in a God we can create our own reason for being. Set our own limits of what is allowed and reasonable. Love others, or anything, depending on the amount that those others help us. If a clerk makes us mad, we have every right to shop-lift.

        But don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that as soon as we believe in the existence of God we're perfect. This is generalizing very much. I'm just saying that it is easier to become and angel when we have the humility to follow the instructions in the Bible on a spiritual level. And as things are now explained through the Second Coming on a spiritual level, it all makes sense. No more mysteries and blind faith.
        As our daughter used to say, "sitting in a pew does not make us a better person."

        --" is there really a difference in humility between the monk figuring out the universe as God created it, and the atheist figuring out the universe as something which origin is part of the mystery?"--
        I don't see any humility in figuring out what life is all about from our own perspective. Not one single soul can gain the slightest awareness or knowledge from their own intelligence or reason. The only source of information regarding God is Revelation.
        As I said before, we have to become like little children. Which means to have the willingness to be led. To have the trusting attitude "It is true because God says so."

        We'll never know what infinite love is, or what omniscience feels like, etc.
        • May 30 2013: "Science" will not prove GODS existence, because GOD was not created in the universe, GOD is the creator of the universe. GOD was not created by the smallest particles and or elements that are in the universe, science will only prove the existence of everything in the universe by the who, what, when, where, why and how but not GOD. Science is organized knowledge, whos knowledge? GODS knowledge, for GOD has given mankind the "understanding" of his knowledge he has gardened within the universe. without the "understanding" we would not have knowledge. GOD gave us, mankind the power over his knowledge he has gardened within the universe by giving us the "understanding" in birth. "But I speak Thy TRUTH, you would have no True power, unless it was given to you from the Father our GOD"
    • May 22 2013: Which of all the gods ever imagined has to be disbelieved by mistaking biological evolution with the beginning of the universe?

      There's tons of evidence about things that happened millions of years ago. It is not all "interpretation, opinion."
      • May 23 2013: It is indeed a mistake to see biological evolution, out of nothing, as the beginning of the universe.

        The one god that has to be disbelieved, of all the gods ever imagined, is the concept that we are god. Then we regard as good whatever we love, and regard as truth whatever we know.
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      May 24 2013: I don't need an excuse not to believe in gods and goddesses, ghosts, faerie, nature spirits, demons, goblins.

      I just need compelling evidence that one actually exists. Yet none exists as far as I can tell.

      Also there are about as many detailed definitions of gods and associated dogma and beliefs as there have been believers in gods and goddesses.

      which is what you might expect given no reliable evidence on the existence let alone the nature and motivations of any gods.
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        May 24 2013: RE: "Even the science you agree with . . . " Really? Are gravity, electromagnetism, and thermodynamics theories? I think they are infrangible Laws. Simply reclassifying all knowledge as theory is not very scientific. There is a difference between Evolution and Laws. There is a need for the Law of Conservation in Physics because some quantities can NEVER change. Not everything is just a theory, some explanations are FACT. Just about everything has changed in Darwin's Theory and there is no reason to accept it as a Law, as the only possible explanation of life on Earth. There are too many holes in it for the scientific community to be duping the public into embracing it as the answer to all questions about life. Too many holes. That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it.
      • May 24 2013: --"I just need compelling evidence that one actually exists."--

        You want to be forced into believing something you obviously do not want to believe??

        The moment God were to appear next to you, you would only wonder how Hollywood pulled this one of.

        As humans (and only so) we have free choice. That will never, ever, be taken away or compromised. Even after death, or a NDE does not force us to believe in the existence of God.

        If we were forced in any way (about anything) we would only hate it and try to change things and still go our own way. That's being human (with the option to become worse than animals).

        All that being said, when we do not recognize the spiritual environment we live in, we do not know we live between good and evil. Then we do not know what is good and what is evil, and where they come from. It is that balance which gives us the choice between God or Mammon.
      • May 31 2013: i hope this will give understanding how godly we are but we are not GOD. GOD has created all his children in his image. who to say, the human raise is his only children, when they are other species that have personality and are conscious. the flesh is just a bio-mechanical body for your conscious that consist with multiple configuration that make up who you are as a unique person. GOD is a unbodied conscious. we are his children not by the flesh but by his image of consciousness. How awesome is that, we are related to GOD by being his children. there is so much i can speak about but i dont want to crash your mind, for what understanding i have the world will deny for they are less understanding than me.
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      May 26 2013: How do "believers" explain the various species of humans, such as Homo Erectus and Neanderthals?
      • May 27 2013: With my limited knowledge on the subject, I could not answer that other than saying it could very well be evolution. Different continents, environments may be the cause of change.

        In his religious writings, I think, all Swedenborg talks about is churches, belief systems that developed at some point, maybe thousands or millions of years after creation. He does compare the human development with the general development of each individual.

        I'll see if I can get some better answers.
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          May 27 2013: Sorry : Replying at top of conversation! It's getting too crowded here.
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      May 26 2013: Adriaan,
      You write...
      "Evolution, when seen as the start of the universe, is an excuse to not believe in a God. There exists no (scientific) proof about whatever happened millions of years ago, it is all interpretation, opinion."

      There is indeed scientific proof about what happened years ago regarding evolution. There is no scientific proof regarding the teachings of religions, which are trying to convince people that there is no such thing as evolution! It appears to be the effort of some religious extremists to convince people that what is taught through religion is "right", and what is taught through scientific experimentation is "wrong".

      Those who believe in a god, generally say that he/she/it created EVERYTHING. That being said, if there is a god, it is logical that he/she/it would have created the process of evolution!
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        May 26 2013: I admit it would be rather odd if all the evidence for evolution was put there by the devil! :P
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          May 26 2013: Interesting theory Bernard.....but then.....one would have to believe in a devil to believe he/she/it could "tamper" with evidence:>)
        • W T 100+

          • +1
          May 30 2013: "evidence for evolution put there by the devil"

          That would be rather odd Bernard.
          Nowhere in scripture is there such a teaching.

          I think that there is alot about evolution that man is still uncovering.
          From all the past conversations on TED I have come to realize that having an open mind is best.

          Everything around us....spiders, starfish, bees, every living thing teaches us something new and exciting. There is still so much to learn.

          How wonderful that we can freely share our thoughts and our beliefs online, and grow to understand each other. It makes us humans more humane when we are tolerant of each other's beliefs and convictions. None of us have the absolute truth.
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          May 30 2013: I agree Mary, that we are still discovering information, agree that it is good to have an open mind, and also agree that we have the opportunity to learn from everything and everyone around us.

          BTW, I LOVE your new photo....it looks like a "Stargazer" lilly, which is one of my favorites....VERY fragrant and a show stopper in the garden:>)

          Freely sharing thoughts and beliefs is one thing. Constantly preaching a certain belief as the one and only "truth" gets kind of tiring after awhile when we see the same information over and over again, as Bernard insightfully recognizes on this thread. This discussion is about evolution, not god and Swedenborg.
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        May 26 2013: To paraphrase my favourite philosopher (Bertrand Russell) : 'It is possible that the Devil created the universe (and its laws) while 'God' wasn't looking'.
        He then went on to mention that this wasn't a theory he was going to go against.
        Yes we are assuming the Devil can tamper with evidence, aren't we?
        It is the Devil after all...
        • May 27 2013: Hi Bernard, I'm responding to your comment above, about good and truth. Sorry about the delay, but was a busy weekend. Great question!

          In very short terms (there are books about it :) Swedenborg says the relationship between good and truth is that good is the spiritual 'substance' and truth is its shape or form.
          This also means that good without truth is dead, and truth without good is dead.

          This is the definition of good:
          Good is defined in the Writings [of Swedenborg] as the affection of thinking and acting according to Divine order. Thus it belongs to love to the lord and charity toward the neighbor, is spiritual, consists in willing and doing well unselfishly, and is heaven with us. That which proceeds from our proprium [what we consider our own] is never good and may actually be entirely evil. However, what we love we call good, whether it be heavenly or infernal, because it is felt by us as good. This is what has given rise to the theory that good is only relative, but the Writings make clear that there is an absolute good.

          Truth is how we apply that good to life.

          We are born with tendencies toward what to love, but have to learn how to apply that to our life. That is what raising a child is all about, which continues to eternity.

          In relation to that, our spirit or mind is made up of a will and an understanding. Our will is what we love and our understanding or intellect is how we give shape to that love. That same relationship is pictured with the relationship between our heart and lungs.
          More about that here http://www.scienceofcorrespondences.com/heart-and-lungs.htm

          So to be "born again" means nothing else than getting a new will or 'heart'

          “Everything in the universe that is in harmony with God's plan relates to goodness and truth.”
          New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine 11 Emanuel Swedenborg

          And I have a quote right in front of me on the wall
          "Every appearance that is confirmed as a truth becomes a fallacy"
          Divine Providence 310 ES
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          May 30 2013: Yes indeed Bernard, if one believes in a devil, I suppose one can also believe that he/she/it can tamper with evidence...LOL:>)

          Looks like Adriaan is preaching his religion again.
          I thought this discussion was about evolution!
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          May 30 2013: Atheists respect Christopher Hitchens. He was one of them. As a graduate of Balliol College, Oxford, I guarantee that Chris Hitchens had more than just a passing familiarity with Alexander Pope.

          From Wikipedia: Christopher Hitchens http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Hitchens

          In God Is Not Great, Hitchens contends that:
          "[A]bove all, we are in need of a renewed Enlightenment, which will base itself on the proposition that the proper study of mankind is man and woman [referencing Alexander Pope]. This Enlightenment will not need to depend, like its predecessors, on the heroic breakthroughs of a few gifted and exceptionally courageous people. It is within the compass of the average person. The study of literature and poetry, both for its own sake and for the eternal ethical questions with which it deals, can now easily depose the scrutiny of sacred texts that have been found to be corrupt and confected. The pursuit of unfettered scientific inquiry, and the availability of new findings to masses of people by electronic means, will revolutionize our concepts of research and development.Very importantly, the divorce . . . can now at last be attempted, on the sole condition that we banish all religions from the discourse. And all this and more is, for the first time in our history, within the reach if not the grasp of everyone."

          Curious comment. And good luck with that. But neither Science nor those of us afflicted with "Belief" (as a disease) have managed to outright sustain the conclusions give above by the Late Scholar Chris Hitchens.

          At some point, we might. But not yet. For-so-long as so many of us believe that we gain much of value in our "Belief" -- none of us will bother seeking treatment for the "disease of religion" that they keep diagnosing in us! Do we suffer? We do not see 'faith', as our affliction. So let them rale against us!
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        May 30 2013: Sorry to reply down here!
        I would be (VERY) surprised if it was the Devil though!
        (I swear quite a lot of these religious people (not to exclude atheists), bring the "God debate" into almost every TED conversation, if you don't mind me saying. I sometimes get tired of it myself!)
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          May 30 2013: Yes, some do, and I share your feeling of being tired of it Bernard!
    • May 30 2013: Adriaan: Rationallity is a great tool, as is logic and math.; A great blindness on the part of the "Religious", especially Westerners , is this constant talk about "God", either for or against, with so very many unstated assumptions, one being that " Belief in God" is a more or less coherent concept, shared by everyone. It is not. Religions differ by far more than Names. The history of western missionary efforts reveal just how confused these ideas are, and how blind Christians especially are to their own special unprovable assumptions. Such as the belief in the "Individual Soul"., Salvation, Afterlife, etc. Not to mention A" personal Creator" and all the rest of it. If one starts off with these assumptions, not being aware that you have them, then of course it seems quite simple. But actually , there are drastically different Theories of this Life that we are all sharing, and some of them are much more in tune with Science , and experience, than others.
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        May 30 2013: RE: "Science has been disposing of. . . " I like your choice of words Shawn. . ."disposing of questions" It speaks volumes about the attitude of materialistic, dare I say Atheistic, science supporters toward creationism. I hope you are correct that Materialistic Science is moving closer to the truth about the creation of life on earth, or, as you put it, "how matter gets animated". At some point the trail of investigation must lead to an Uncaused Cause. You actually used the word "disposed" twice in your brief comment. Is displacing ignorance with understanding really tantamount to disposing? Are you suggesting that the culmination of the theory of Evolution will be the total "disposal" of all non-material things?
        • May 31 2013: Edward :
          From your phrasing, I hope I am not doing you an injustice by supposing that your ideas about Christianity are pretty much conservative,and main stream. When I say questions are disposed of, I consider that a more accurate way of saying what is actually happening. I.e., it is not always necessary to answer a question. if you can show that it is irrelevant.in the context of a belief system. For example, this idea that the world is divided into "material" things, and
          Spiritual " things is classically Christian. Far from espousing "Materialism", I am proposing that the exact opposite is more scientific, useful , and more likely to be true. Even in the late 19th century Newtonian universe, it was generally acknowledged that"Materials" were pretty much an illusion, since atoms are mostly empty space, "Energy" is not material, and "waves" are just as real as "particles.". That was even before the basic stuff about Radiation was discovered. So it is a legitimate scientific view that "Materialism" is merely a high grade construct, not anything fundamental. Except in day to day life, of course. As for me , I am somewhat puzzle if people think I am an "Atheist", since to give that any meaning would require a good deal of "knowlege" about "God", which we do not have.
      • May 30 2013: Hi Shawn,
        --"Rationallity is a great tool, as is logic and math.."--
        I see science and religion almost as the right and left brain approach to life. We can use either as base to use our rationality, logic and math. Humanity has evolved to the point where things have to make sense in order to be even thought about.

        That is the very basic approach to spirituality by Swedenborg. The usual reaction to what he writes is "this does make sense." In fact the more science we know about e.g. the heart the more we know about love.

        If, however, you refuse to use 'both sides of your brain' and disregard its higher, spiritual realm then you may need a NDE to change your mind. If you could read what Swedenborg writes about the NDE (at a time the most advanced tool of medicine was the use of leaches) it just may open your mind, spiritually.
        And you know what, that is what the first day of the Creation Story is all about, and only that.
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        May 31 2013: Why would being called a conservative, mainline Christian be considered an injustice? Also, what do my personal beliefs have to do with this debate? You say matter is mostly empty space? Have you ever been walking barefoot and stubbed your toe on a mostly empty space chair leg? You say energy is not material? Einstein disagrees with you. He said energy is fluid matter (equal to mass times c squared), and matter is solid energy (equal to energy over c squared). I do not think you are an atheist. I don't have an opinion about your personal beliefs. They are not relevant to this debate. What does "Materialism is merely a high grade construct, not anything fundamental. Except in day to day life, of course." mean? It sounds like you are saying nothing is real except in life, which makes no sense to me because I spend 100% of my time in life. Please clarify sir. Thank you!
        • May 31 2013: Edward: Your reply reminded me of a famous quote from an English Enlightenment era Philosopher , who, on kicking a brick , said "Thus do I refute thee, Bishop Berkeley.!".( Berkeley was claiming that Materialism is all in your Head) Of course, it is no refutation at all. No one is saying that these illusions are not excellent, and serviceable,or are defective in some way, only that they do not at all show that "Material" is as substantial as the Believers like to believe it is.
          When I say that "matter" is mostly empty space, that merely means that , of the volume of an atom, let's say, something like 90 odd percent if it is not "Matter",but space, and also, that in Einstein.s equations, the "M" is Mass, not Matter. In science, personal beliefs are not supposed to carry weight, as to their logic or pursuasiveness. And we all spend all our time in "Life", but perhaps we don't agree on just what the conditions of it really are.
        • May 31 2013: Hi Shawn, I think I've also heard it said that matter is nothing more than clouds :) In a way I fully agree with that.
          I see matter as just a means for our spirit to interact, grow and develop in this 'seed bed' or 'womb' of heaven. There is nothing, no thing, we take with us when our body dies, only our character which is spirit.
    • May 31 2013: Adriaan:
      Could you elaborate a bit on why "Evolution" is an excuse to be an Atheist?. I don't see that at all. Evolution was never a problem for Catholics (they count as Christians, don't they?) Just why could not "God" have decided that Evolution is a dandy scheme to provide, change , interest , and continuity to the "Creation". Why not?
      • May 31 2013: Hi Shawn two things.
        First, I have absolutely no issue with evolution as an adjustment to conditions. I totally reject, however, any thought that evolution was the process that started our existence from nothing, or from whatever.
        That being said, it is possible to see a belief in a God also as an excuse. But that evolves from an excuse, to a reason, understanding and love. Atheist do not have that 'road' to travel.

        I (we) also believe that the Creation Story has nothing to do with this world or universe. Because of the evolution! of mankind the whole Bible is now meant to be taken spiritually, not literally. Each individual is able and invited to go through this evolution process of 7 stages.
        This is that spiritual side as given in the Second Coming,

        Second, atheist are such from choice. There is absolutely no proof, one way or the other, of the existence of a God (for a reason). No one is or should ever be forced to believe something they do not want to believe, and this even applies after death to eternity. So, since there is no proof, I see it as an excuse. Maybe an excuse to give ourselves all the merit of the good we do as atheist...?

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