sullivan put up another reader's response, so i actually emailed him myself, as follows:
the FSM is meant to point out the unlikeliness that God exists. the statement is that the FSM is as likely as God to exist based on all available evidence. anyone bringing up the FSM thinks that God is very unlikely to exist. the absurdity of the FSM is obviously a jab at theists and hopefully we can look past that for the moment. the reader who posts the following:http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/01/spaghetti-monst.html
takes the question from "is there a god?" to "is there meaning in life?". i think this statement: "But you can no more avoid making a positive choice about the source of meaning in your life and the universe than you can avoid living in some country"serves to prove that point. we were talking about the existence of god, and now he's talking about meaning in your life. atheism is not a positive choice about the source of meaning in life. it is (potentially) a positive choice about the existence of God.
the existence of god is not the same as the existence of meaning in life. i believe my life has meaning (admittedly, probably not as much as a theist, since i have an eternal component, but my life is still meaningful), without believing in God.
the reader who posts here:http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/01/spaghetti-mon-1.html
takes the question from "is there a god?" to "is there morality?". once again these are not the same question!
(s)he says:"the evidence for God that your last commentator finds lacking is the same kind of evidence which can't be found to support the existence of morality."
i think he means the existence for a source for morality, as evidence of practiced morality abounds in human interaction. But there's a big biological imperative for morality. as social animals our survival is more assured if we work together and behave well towards each other than if we don't. there may be a biological imperative in believing in God as well, which would explain why such beliefs are so universal in human culture. i personally think that God and Religion are arbitrary ways to codify biological imperatives (like morality, cultural taboo, etc) the same way the varied languages that humans have developed are arbitrary ways to codify the biological imperative of being able to communicate clearly and effectively with each other.
the existence of god is not the same as the existence of a source of morality!
these are extremely important distinctions, i think. many people, particularly in this country, seem to think that atheists can not be moral people, or that their lives are meaningless and they thus do whatever they want all the time ( which is already bs, since everyone does what the want (or at least prefers to the alternative) all the time, otherwise they wouldn't do it).
if you can have meaning and morality without god, that diminishes the need for god. with a diminished need for god, more people may actually make decisions on the question of the existence of God based on the (lack of) evidence.
i personally find life and morality to be more powerful and more meaningful without God. we choose to be moral to each other because we decide it is the right thing to do, not because of some external force. we give our lives meaning, whatever meaning we want to, not some external force. i have faith in humanity, not in God, and i personally find that more powerful, even if the ultimate reason is a straight biological imperative (life is good and should be preserved and continued).
thanks for the opportunity to have a reasonable discussion about an often fiery topic.