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It Doesn't Make You Want to Run Out and Hold Up a Banner for Atheism

Well well well. Look what we find in the Rolling Stone. (9/4/08)

Here is singer/songwriter Randy Newman in interview. His just released album is Harps and Angels. Um, isn’t that religious, Rolling Stone wants to know. Had you been sick when you wrote it? No, he just likes that kind of imagery, he replies. Besides, “sometimes you do think, ‘Jeez, it’d be great if there were an  afterlife.’ Especially if  you’re sixty something, like I am…..I mean, it doesn’t make you want to run out and hold up a banner for atheism.”

No it doesn't. Precisely. This is an example of why you should always read the Rolling Stone. Now I will go out and buy all of Mr. Newman’s records.

His remarks are timely, too. Because I’ve been lately swapping emails with this young (relative to Mr. Newman and I) atheist covering all the usual ground. Conceding that the odds against life originating spontaneously are so astronomical that you might almost wipe the notion off the court based on probability, he nonetheless observes….

“for a long time now there have been and indeed there still are, many intelligent minds at work on the problem. Over time and slowly but surely, they're working out how it all really happened and how it all really works. The key here is to have an open mind but who knows, if you can just find a little more funding, then one day someone might just find the answer…”

Doesn’t one have to ask why? I mean, what’s in it for them other than discovering that they’ll soon be dead? Now, if it was circumventing the (much more likely) odds of choosing the winning lottery numbers…..well, I can understand why clever minds might want to work hard on that problem. [though they don’t…..everyone knows that probability is pretty insurmountable] But the prize for defeating the staggering odds against a random origin of life is certain knowledge of a death sentence. Why, at age 60, would one eagerly pursue that line of thought?

Because we humans have an innate curiosity. We want to find how things are. We like to know how stuff works, or some such reply…I can hear the atheists now. But I’m not so sure. If you’re going to live forever you want to discover the truth of all things. But if you’ve only got twenty more years? When my car was brand new, I carefully attended to all dings and scratches. I maintained it well. But as it got older, I began to say “I can live with that” for more and more problems. I mean, what’s the point of pouring in expensive maintenance when it’s all going to be scrap in a few years anyway? Is it really any different with us, if we’re going to be scrap in a few years? As Randy Newman said, being 60 doesn’t make you want to run out and hold up a banner for atheism.”

It’s probably the same principle that would operate in concentrated form if you were to learn you had terminal cancer. It’s the rare person who wouldn’t quickly reassess goals. Innate curiosity for how stuff works would promptly give way to more immediate concerns on what makes life meaningful.

Look, regarding atheism, if you believe it you believe it. But I can’s see why anyone would celebrate it. It’s a great tragedy if true. Early atheists like H. G. Wellsreadily conceded this. Yet the current atheists … know, guys like Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens…..carry on as if a few decades and then gone forever is a great triumph for humanity, a true liberation of the human spirit. Today’s new atheistic thinking….this life is all there is. It must be what is behind this ridiculous “he (or she) is 80 years young” description we hear all the time. For crying out loud, If they are 80 years young, then why are they dead in the next year or two?

As a fallback position…..well, maybe then I can see it. Having lost faith in God and his purpose, well….at least revel in what years remain. But it’s sort of like the fellow who loses his millions in the stock market. Oblivious, he shrugs it off in a day or so and celebrates the ten dollars he still has left.

No question about it; faith is a casualty of the last days, at least among the world at large. Does it not make you think on Jesus’ question?

Nevertheless, when the Son of man arrives, will he really find the faith on the earth?         Luke 18:8


[EDIT:   sigh....updates here and here .]


Tom Irregardless and Me     No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'



And once again you seem to have neglected the lyric "You boys know I'm not a religious man..."

Just because he thinks about it doesn't make it real.

"Look, regarding atheism, if you believe it you believe it."

So what is it exactly that I'm believing as an atheist Tom?

"Today’s new atheistic thinking….this life is all there is."

Um... I hate to disappoint you, but that's how it's been with atheism throughout time.

tom sheepandgoats

Randy Newman, in a song, included the lyric "You boys know I'm not a religious man..." There.

Look, I didn't portray him as a raving Bible thumper. Most likely he is agnostic, like the majority of people today. What would you have me believe.....that he "hardly wants to run out and hold up a banner for atheism," but he runs out and holds it up anyway?? Being "not religious" and being atheist are not the same thing.

I've done Randy no injustice. Let him comment here himself if he feels I have. If I don't hear from him in an hour, I think it's safe to assume he agrees with everything I have written.

And even if he is atheist, that's hardly the point. We're not fighting over him, I trust, as to whether he's in my camp or yours. His words suggest a line of reasoning, that's all, and I have pursued it.

The purpose of "if you believe it [atheism] you believe it" was to set up the next line: "But I can't see why anyone would celebrate it." And I can't.


The point is Tom that there's nothing to celebrate, except freedom of thought and expression.

And Tom,

"Conceding that the odds against life originating spontaneously are so astronomical that you might almost wipe the notion off the court based on probability,"

Never actually happened, so it would probably be best for you to retract it. Lies just don't become a christian, not even a JW...

tom sheepandgoats

It would appear from your answer to Kevin on the linked post that you were conceding the point. If you were not conceding it, then you were certainly making a weak reply, merely saying that many intelligent minds are working on the probability issue.


Then you'll need to go and read it again. Kevin was talking about the order of the cosmos, as stated in the post. Life, evolution or emergence from the primeval slime were never mentioned. Not once...

tom sheepandgoats


If you like, you may substitute

"Conceding that the odds against the cosmos originating spontaneously are so astronomical that you might almost wipe the notion off the court based on probability,"


"Conceding that the odds against life originating spontaneously are so astronomical that you might almost wipe the notion off the court based on probability,"

Does it really change anything? After all, before I commented on your post, you and Dikkii were hoohawing over what a nutjob Prime Minister Kevin must be, how he must be pandering for the Family First vote, and how he no doubt he wants to see the schools teach intelligent design.

Mr Ruud said, in the article you linked to: "So I think there is an intelligent mind at work." THAT'S the point that he (and I) (and with Randy Newman we may never know) are making. You can, for the record, clarify just what aspect of creation he was referring to, but the essential point remains the same.

Awake In Rochester

You have an award at my blog. ;o)

tom sheepandgoats

Neat! I'll check it right out.


Tom, you can wriggle all you want, but the simple fact of the matter is that there was absolutely no mention of any kind of spontaneity at all. Except here of course, where you seem to have spontaneously lied through you fingers to make a point for an argument that wasn't taking place.

Like I said Tom, go read it again...

tom sheepandgoats

I have no sense of wriggling at all. I got a specific point wrong, I admit, yet the overall message remains the same. I mistakenly said Mr. Ruud was referring to THIS aspect of design and intelligence, whereas he was actually referring to THAT aspect of design and intelligence. Nothing changes in the big picture.

And you ought not make the charge of 'lying.' It's unbecoming of you. Once more, and I will reject your application for "house" athesist. Even though there is a vacancy and I do need one.


I never applied... Lying seems to be becoming a habit with you Tom...

tom sheepandgoats

Plonka, you are one serious dude.

I admit it, you did not apply. In fact, the position of "house atheist" doesn't exist and I never accepted any applications from anyone. You caught me red-handed in a lie and I am thoroughly ashamed of myself.

A house atheist might be nice, though. If I can get one who's reasonably polite and doesn't take him or her self too seriously. Do you know of any who might qualify? Or are you interested in making the (slight) adjustments necessary to qualify yourself for that position (should I offer it)?


"Do you know of any who might qualify?" - No. Only the religious are prepared to concede to lies.

"Or are you interested in making the (slight) adjustments necessary to qualify yourself for that position (should I offer it)?" - No, so don't bother.

I'll just drop by and heckle every now and then, if that's ok with you. Or even if it isn't, I really don't mind...

tom sheepandgoats

Hmmmm. Possibly you could be an adjunct atheist. That might work.


I don't know about "house atheist" Tom, if you mean one who behaves like a gentleman (or a lady) in debate but village atheists seem to abound around every corner these days.

Your patience is admirable.

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