Good stuff

April 3, 2009 at 2:16 pm 51 comments

This is a very well done piece on critical thinking.


For more brilliant stuff by the same fellow, go to his YouTube page and browse around.

Entry filed under: LeoPardus. Tags: .

1st True Revelation of The Great Alien Unveiling De-Converting from De-Conversion

51 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Joshua  |  April 3, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Absolutely brilliant. Love it!

    I don’t believe in God != no deity exists at all
    I don’t believe in God = I see no evidence for the God of definition X

    God does not exist != no deity exists
    God does not exist = It is impossible for God X to exist by definition

    Christians demand way too little evidence and thrive on the smallest shifting lampshades in their lives as evidence of God’s presence.

    Like pressing that close door button on the elevator, your never sure whether the button is actually doing anything…

  • 2. BigHouse  |  April 3, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    He has a very soothing voice too :-)

  • 3. LeoPardus  |  April 3, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    BTW, if you want to see another one by this guy (one even more brilliant; awesome in fact IMO) try this one.

    Just wonderful.

  • 4. The Apostate  |  April 3, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    Leo, that one is awesome.

  • 5. Luke  |  April 3, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    “Christians demand way too little evidence and thrive on the smallest shifting lampshades in their lives as evidence of God’s presence.”

    ugh.. thanks for tucking me into that blanket statement through your triumphalism.

    i agree with this video.. but there is an assumption that if you believe in God then you must believe in ghosts. just as he hasn’t been presented with evidence for God, i haven’t been presented with evidence that there isn’t.

    the second video shows how we’re culturally conditioned and subject to family systems… i agree! we must try to build our cupboards and organize our lives. reminds me of: http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/341

    just a littler harder as i’m a liberal that finds value in a book. but we all use mirrors to frame and shape our experience. where we err is when we use only one book or mirror.

  • 6. Quester  |  April 3, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    Both videos are very well worth watching. Thanks for sharing!

  • 7. SnugglyBuffalo  |  April 3, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    just as he hasn’t been presented with evidence for God, i haven’t been presented with evidence that there isn’t.

    That’s not really the point. The real question you should ask yourself is have you been presented with enough evidence to believe in God.

    If someone claims you are accepting things on too little evidence, stating that you have not been presented with enough evidence against the thing you accept is just proving their claim.

    Do you have enough evidence for God to be able to say that you don’t demand too little evidence for him?

  • 8. LeoPardus  |  April 3, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    there is an assumption that if you believe in God then you must believe in ghosts

    WTF?!

    Critical listening skills needed.

  • 9. Joshua  |  April 3, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    “i agree with this video.. but there is an assumption that if you believe in God then you must believe in ghosts. just as he hasn’t been presented with evidence for God, i haven’t been presented with evidence that there isn’t.”

    Luke, Seriously. Reread what you just said. Swap the words “God” and “ghost” in your above paragraph.

  • 10. LeoPardus  |  April 3, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    just as he hasn’t been presented with evidence for God, i haven’t been presented with evidence that there isn’t.

    What would constitute evidence, for you, that God does not exist?
    OR, conversely
    What constitutes evidence, for you, that God does exist?

    You must have some definite characteristics or effects that you can point to as evidence that God does exist. If not, then you just want to believe and there’s nothing rational about it.

  • 11. Anna  |  April 4, 2009 at 12:47 am

    “Skeptical of skepticism” – That is great.

  • 12. Anna  |  April 4, 2009 at 1:01 am

    The Instruction Manual is a lovely video, really well done.

    But I was wondering what he was saying with all the different cupboards at the end. Seems like he was celebrating everything other than his parent’s beliefs. Is he really ok with people having such different beliefs?

    How can you love diversity if you can’t accept where you came from?

  • 13. orDover  |  April 4, 2009 at 1:05 am

    I know we’re all jumping on this comment Luke, but really? That’s just not how evidence works.

    just as he hasn’t been presented with evidence for God, i haven’t been presented with evidence that there isn’t.

    First of all, there is no such thing as definitive “evidence that there isn’t” something because a negative hypothesis cannot be claimed. You don’t have evidence that there are not invisible pink unicorns. What would that even mean? You don’t see them….ugh, but they’re invisible. You don’t sense them…well, that doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

    A lack of evidence can’t ever prove that something does not exist. It can make it seem unlikely that said thing does not exist, but it can’t prove it.

    To prove any sort of hypothesis, including the existence of God, you have to have evidence FOR it, not against it. The burden of proof rests with the person making a claim that seems to contradict observed reality. It isn’t up to me to provide negative evidence that invisible pink unicorns do NOT exist, it is up to their followers to present evidence that they DO.

  • 14. Quester  |  April 4, 2009 at 1:13 am

    Anna,

    It wasn’t his parent’s cupboard that was the problem, it was their belief that this was the only way to build a cupboard. Neither reality, nor their own Instruction Manual supported this belief. Their belief was so small, it’s painfully sad to see them in it. How can someone celebrate this?

    How can you love diversity if you can’t accept where you came from?

    A chicken can have fondness for an egg, and maybe even fond memories of being in one, but the chicken can not return and will not accept it if the egg’s inhabitant wants to stay in there.

  • 15. Tit for Tat  |  April 4, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    Luke

    Stop calling yourself Christian and then maybe they will let you go on the belief in G-d(creator). ;)

  • 16. LeoPardus  |  April 4, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    Anna:

    Good questions.

    Seems like he was celebrating everything other than his parent’s beliefs.

    I don’t think he was at all denigrating their belief. Recall that earlier he had told his parents that he loved them, then he said that they had loosened up a little in later years but couldn’t totally accept the differences. That, he said, was a shame. Then he went into showing the wonderful diversity.

    How can you love diversity if you can’t accept where you came from?

    He didn’t cling to where he’d come from. That had been stifling and even hurtful. Still it was part of the diversity. Accepting where you came from doesn’t necessarily mean keeping and living it. It may mean only accepting it as part of the world, though perhaps not your cup of tea.

  • 17. LeoPardus  |  April 4, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    orDover and Luke:

    The common maxim about not being able to prove a negative is not completely correct. To use orDover’s wording, “A lack of evidence can’t ever prove that something does not exist.” This is not correct.

    For example, It can shown that no whale exists in my bath tub. It can shown that there is not a fifth gas giant planet in our solar system. It can be shown that no human lives without a heart.

    If you can define a set of discernible factors that MUST accompany something, then you can prove that something doesn’t exist, or isn’t active by demonstrating that those discernible factors cannot be found/measured/detected.

    So yes, negatives can be proven.

    In the case of God (BibleGod in this case), there are certain attributes he is supposed to have. If a being exists with those attributes, there are certain discernible factors that we humans would be able to detect. We cannot detect those factors. Hence we may safely conclude that BibleGod does not exist. Something like him may exist, but it must be radically different is some attributes.

  • 18. Luke  |  April 4, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    “What constitutes evidence, for you, that God does exist?”

    i go with existence. i’m here, you’re here, in a universe that is largely hostile to life. some look on this evidence and say “well there had to be an intelligence behind this” those like Dr. Michael J. Behe, Robert Sapolsky, John Polkinghorne. and yet there is others that say “all of this is accidental.. and in an infinite universe all sorts of strange things can happen.” those like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel C. Dennett.

    evidence is always in need of interpretation.

    “Hence we may safely conclude that BibleGod does not exist. Something like him may exist, but it must be radically different is some attributes.” LeoP

    now this i understand and agree with! i’m right with you here. here we get into what is the bible questions and how we view religion. once again, evidence and interpretation! i largely see that not a whole lot of us on here view the god of the bible as possible given our experience and interpretation of the evidence presented. there are those out there who haven’t had any contradictory evidence or are content with their cupboards the way they are and largely exist unchallenged.

    but i would also assert, based on past conversations here (thus using them as evidence) that we are challengers here, one and all. but we all have our blind spots.. places that we’d rather not look, things we would rather not consider.

  • 19. Luke  |  April 4, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    and speaking of things we would rather not consider:

    “What would constitute evidence, for you, that God does not exist?” LeoP

    i dunno. i see meaning in everything, connections everywhere. my personal experience up until this point that even the smallest events in my life had useful impact later on. i find myself in situations where i have the nessesary experience and critical skills to succeed.

    i can only conclude that there is a governing force out there. i believe in the Christian version of this because 1. it is my cultural context (household, catholic school etc) which has reinforced this and 2. it is my choice. i see Christianity as leading me into uncomfortable situations i wouldn’t normally seek out. working at food banks, talking to those who belief, look, act, and have different thoughts from me. i see this in the command to love neighbor as the self as well as in Acts when the apostles realize they are just like the gentiles after their jewish context told them they were superior, and as well as in Ephesians 2:14-16.

    it has been my framework and it has been reinforced. conditioned to it? that could be the case! but here i’m looking at that and seeing if it holds any water. what objections there could be.. which also stems from the Roman Catholic idea of the Examine, or know thy self, style philosophy. so far it’s held up, IMO.

  • 20. Quester  |  April 4, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    Luke,

    evidence is always in need of interpretation.

    It is, indeed, so let’s intepret. That which exists does not require a creator. You have already quoted the sources that tell you this. That which exists does not deny the possibility of a creator, though. But if we are to look at that which exists, what does it say about a possible creator? Well, the universe, as you say, is largely hostile to life. A reasonable interpretation would be that the same is true of whatever may have created it. A differing reasonable interpretation is that a different and less powerful creator made life on this planet than created this universe. Of course, this planet is largely hostile to life, and the evolution and extinction of various species- not to mention life and death of individual lifeforms- seems whimsical and cruel if controlled. So, interpreting reasonably, either life is guided by a whimsical and cruel creator, or was created and left unguided, or was created by a creator with limited power to guide, or was not created.

    Hmm, I’m thinking these are not the conclusions you expected me to reach. Perhaps you’d like to present other interpretations, and explain why they are reasonable?

    but we all have our blind spots.. places that we’d rather not look, things we would rather not consider.

    All right, Luke, challenge me. Where would I rather not look? What evidence would I rather not consider? What’s the worst that can happen? I’ll be able to re-enter the ministry?

  • 21. TitforTat  |  April 5, 2009 at 3:55 am

    Of course, this planet is largely hostile to life(Quester)

    I guess that would depend on what you consider “life” to be.

  • 22. Quester  |  April 5, 2009 at 4:22 am

    *laughs* Admittedly, there’s more room for aquatic life than that which can’t live in an ocean, but there are still patches of the planet where no life can be sustained without artificial help, and you can’t go too far up or down without ending up somewhere no life can live (again, without artificial help). As I quickly check some of my facts, it seems that there has been some form of life on this planet longer than there has not, but, even without human interference, there is only a finite time this planet will be able to support life of any kind.

    But perhaps a reasonable argument can be made for a creator who truly loves bacteria.

  • 23. Luke  |  April 5, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    “either life is guided by a whimsical and cruel creator, or was created and left unguided, or was created by a creator with limited power to guide, or was not created.”

    based on a cursory glance on the evidence, it seems the universe is hostile to life. yet life still exists. might as well ask whether the glass is half full or half empty. my vote has always been half full.

    the god in the Bible seems like a cruel creator with all the smashing and smiting and all that jazz.. but the Bible is like the finger that points to the moon.. it’s not the moon, merely the messenger. it doesn’t get the whole God on it’s pages, though it repeatly says “your (human) knowledge, justice, wisdom, and actions are not like mine (Gods)”. to take a page from the Buddhists, there is suffering. it’s not in God’s job description to make sure all the creation is happy at all times. every act of creation runs the risk of getting ruined and fading away.

    to quote Gibran: “all work is empty save when there is love; and when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God.”

    “All right, Luke, challenge me. Where would I rather not look? ”

    who am i to judge this? isn’t the point of this site that you’re sick of people telling you what to think? i can’t speak for you… you’ll have to do that. i can only speak for me.

    where i would rather not look is at my racial blindness. did you know that the inventors of telegraphs, detection of syphilis, glaucoma treatments, ice cream, peanut butter, and the stop light were all african americans? i would rather not look at my priviledge as a white male… nor my harmful actions, western assumptions, or at evangelical and right wing Christianity.

    that’s me, how about you?

  • 24. Anna  |  April 5, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    LeoPardus,

    “Accepting where you came from doesn’t necessarily mean keeping and living it. It may mean only accepting it as part of the world, though perhaps not your cup of tea.”

    “Not your cup of tea”? That doesn’t sound like critical thinking to me.

    I don’t understand how a celebration of diversity coexists with a mindset which exalts critical thinking. If someone is truly a curious, open-minded rationalist, how can they sit back and admire different beliefs for their diverse qualities? Shouldn’t they be applying the same rigorous examination to all faith claims, not stopping after they are convinced that their families are wrong?

    I guess that’s what struck me as unfair in the video – that he could reject his parent’s faith (justifiably), and yet celebrate a hundred other ways of ordering one’s life without examination.

    That kind of relativism doesn’t seem particularly interested in the truth.

  • 25. Quester  |  April 5, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    based on a cursory glance on the evidence, it seems the universe is hostile to life.

    Does a more in-depth perusal of the evidence find more life in the universe?

    might as well ask whether the glass is half full or half empty. my vote has always been half full.

    Which tells us what about a possible creator? Only half-potent? Only half-benevolent?

    “your (human) knowledge, justice, wisdom, and actions are not like mine (Gods)”

    Ah, and this, um, means something?

    there is suffering. it’s not in God’s job description to make sure all the creation is happy at all times. every act of creation runs the risk of getting ruined and fading away.

    Yes, it does look like the evidence supports the idea that any possible creator has no intent, desire or perhaps ability to help with suffering or ensure happiness. I can go along with that.

    Is anything actually in God’s job description?

    to quote Gibran: “all work is empty save when there is love; and when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God.”

    Does anything change in that sentence if you remove God?
    Does anything change in this universe if you remove God?

    isn’t the point of this site that you’re sick of people telling you what to think?

    Er, no? The point of this site is to provide resources for skeptical, deconverting and former theists. I’m really having a hard time following your train of thought, here.

    that’s me, how about you?

    I’d rather not look in my kitchen sink, which is full of dishes I should be washing. Sorry, I thought this was more on topic when you raised it.

  • 26. Quester  |  April 5, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    Anna,

    I don’t understand how a celebration of diversity coexists with a mindset which exalts critical thinking.

    I’d say it depends on what you’re celebrating a diversity of. One thing I really appreciate about the video is that the metaphor uses cupboards as ways of ordering their lives (organizing their stuff). Critical thinking can help us discover reality, but we can not focus on every part of reality simultaneously. We need to make decisions on what we will focus on. Using the cupboard metaphor, what do you put in the top drawer of your cupboard? Music you enjoy? Missed opportunities you regret? Needs of children you’ve never met? Fantasies of places you’d like to travel to?

    Are there things that you put in drawers that are harder to access, in the attempt to pay less attention to them? Do you file social justice alongside environmental issues, and slot both beneath the recent performance of your local sports team?

    I can celebrate that there are people who value reading romance novels, people who value exercising first thing in the morning, and people who value cooking healthy meals for people who can’t afford groceries. None of these things change what reality is (though they can change what reality will be, in different ways).

    I can celebrate much about the way my parents live their lives. They’re very loving people. Now, my father enjoys watching football. This is not “my cup of tea”. This is nothing to do with critical thinking, simply personal preference on how to spend time. Football exists whether I watch the game or not, and all the quantitative aspects are identical when my father enjoys the game and when I do not.

    This also has nothing to do with my rejecting my parents’ faith in God, or, to return to the video, the protagonist’s rejecting his parents’ faith that there is only one proper way to organize life. A diversity of faith claims, or claims about what is real, can be subjected to critical thinking. A diversity of choices in how to respond to reality also deserves to be thought about critically, for some reactions to reality are harmful and destructive. But I’m happy to celebrate that one of my friends is learning to rewire her house while another one is working on her doctoral thesis in clinical psychology. I think this sort of diversity is wonderful!

    I hope this addresses your concerns.

  • 27. Anna  |  April 6, 2009 at 12:06 am

    Quester –

    Thanks for your response – it was helpful, and I agree with you that we should enjoy diversity of tastes, hobbies, interests, and abilities. Those kinds of cultural and individual expressions are great, and keep us from boring ourselves

    But, I am still confused, because it seems that the video is not talking about interests or hobbies (like your dad liking football), but about truth claims. Nothing in the video suggested that his parents had a problem with other people liking golf, because they preferred gardening. The subject of the whole piece was religion. While I gladly embrace variety in culture, I can’t embrace all religions and worldviews. If it isn’t true, how can I? And isn’t that what so many of us have been saying about Christianity?

    Please know that I say this out of honest curiosity, not belligerency.

    I guess what I think right now is that often people deny their parent’s faith in the name of the pursuit of truth, but once they come out and organize their lives in a way that makes them happy, they sort of leave the whole truth question in a bottom drawer. This allows them to live peaceably with everyone (except, maybe, their parents) and enjoy life in contented apathy.

    Doesn’t sound like critical thinking to me.

  • 28. Quester  |  April 6, 2009 at 1:18 am

    Anna,

    I think I see what you’re saying, and several weaknesses in my previous response.

    The Anglican church (the branch of Christianity I’m most familiar with) identifies itself as “the middle way” between the Catholic and Protestant churches, or more recently, between conservative and liberal Christianity. As such, it values and promotes balance and the tension between extremes without the compromise or reconciliation that choosing one side or another or making any sort of official stance on almost anything would bring.

    The three goals of neo-Druidism, as stated by the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, are Wisdom, Creativity and Love. As such, it values and promotes storytelling as a way to teach and learn, and as a way to build community.

    Utilitarianism judges moral worth of actions by their consequences, not the intent of the actors. In specific, it values actions that provide the most pleasure to the most people.

    Now, if an Anglican, a Druid, or a Utilitarian make a truth claim, such as “Holy Scripture contains all things necessary to salvation”, “each animal carries a different and very particular kind of ‘energy’ or healing potential”, or “nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure”, then critical thinking is called for to seek the truth.

    I think we can all benefit by learning that some people value tension more than certainty, storytelling more than statistical reporting, and providing the pleasures of the majority more than preventing the pain of the minority (or vice versa in each case). People who value these different things are going to organize their lives, and their thoughts, in different ways. Now, when these values bring about a truth claim, critical reasoning once again finds its proper place, but the diversity in values can be accepted and celebrated.

    I apologize if using hobbies and interests as my first examples came across as facetious. Please continue to express your curiosity.

  • 29. LeoPardus  |  April 6, 2009 at 11:02 am

    Anna (post 24):

    More good questions. Thank you.

    I don’t understand how a celebration of diversity coexists with a mindset which exalts critical thinking.

    This seems like apples and oranges to me. I don’t see that they conflict.

    If someone is truly a curious, open-minded rationalist, how can they sit back and admire different beliefs for their diverse qualities?

    Different beliefs are to be expected. As long as those different beliefs don’t contradict reason, or aren’t forced upon others, I don’t have a problem with them.

    Shouldn’t they be applying the same rigorous examination to all faith claims, not stopping after they are convinced that their families are wrong?

    Yes. All faith claims should be subjected to rigorous examination. The authors of the piece are both atheists because no faith seems able to back up its claims or suppositions. They did not stop with rejecting their family’s faith. They find all faiths equally untenable.

    I guess that’s what struck me as unfair in the video – that he could reject his parent’s faith (justifiably), and yet celebrate a hundred other ways of ordering one’s life without examination.

    I think the problem here is that you have decided that the authors are celebrating the faiths of other people. That isn’t it. They are celebrating all that people are and do, whether it be art, patriotism, snowboarding, interior design, raising families, etc. What their restrictive faith had taught them was that all things had to fit their particular construct of their faith or else it was WRONG. The authors found that a simple cabinet with one black and one white drawer, based on one book, was not the only right way.

    Be it faith, or work, or art, or struggle, or food, or whatever there were any number of things to build your life out of and any number of them could be enjoyed.

    It’s not about faith. It’s about all of life. With faith or without.

  • 30. LeoPardus  |  April 6, 2009 at 11:14 am

    Anna:

    But, I am still confused, because it seems that the video is not talking about interests or hobbies (like your dad liking football), but about truth claims. Nothing in the video suggested that his parents had a problem with other people liking golf, because they preferred gardening.

    Yes. I see what you’re saying. I don’t think the parents would care if someone liked golf as long as that someone also prioritized the “right” faith. I’ve certainly seen this attitude often enough. “Sure Michael Jordan is a great basketball player, but if he doesn’t have Jesus, his great ability is meaningless.” (Yes, that is an actual quote. I’ve heard many more like it.)

    What I think the authors discovered was that many people don’t organize around any faith. They organize around music, or country, or sports, or literary appreciation. The parents in the story would not approve of those things as organizing principles.

    You’re completely right that simply rejecting a faith and then complacently accepting something else in its place would be uncritical non-thinking. And many people do just that. Every element of life must be subjected to rigor. Otherwise one may reject a damaging faith only to adopt a damaging non-faith.

  • 31. Luke  |  April 6, 2009 at 11:37 am

    Does a more in-depth perusal of the evidence find more life in the universe?

    what are stars, if not a potential for life? plus we haven’t seen enough of the universe with our limited technology yet.. our horizon line is only something like a few hundred light years, which is nothing in the scope of things. in an infinite universe, the possibility of other life out there is assured. us finding it is another matter.

    “Which tells us what about a possible creator? Only half-potent? Only half-benevolent?”

    critical reading skills need here.. or clearer writing on my part.. i’ll go with my writing… what i’m saying is that two people can come away with completely different conclusions based on the same evidence. is the universe hostile to life, or the fact that life developed inspite of the universe important? is the glass half empty (hostile view) or half full (life inspite of)?

    “Ah, and this, um, means something?”

    yes.

    “Yes, it does look like the evidence supports the idea that any possible creator has no intent, desire or perhaps ability to help with suffering or ensure happiness. I can go along with that.”

    yet it is in the hope that we’ll find strength to get through suffering. some people look for a purpose in it.. whether one is utilitarian or theistic, both are looking for meaning in suffering. i think we get moments of clarity and connections we wouldn’t have normally made.. strength to get through stuff that can’t be rationally explained.

    “I’d rather not look in my kitchen sink, which is full of dishes I should be washing.”

    nice side step. so i’m to assume the hardest thing in your life facing you is not doing the dishes… not about global food stortage, not about nuclear ambitions, not AIDS in africa, not about hostile regimes and their abuses of human rights?

  • 32. Quester  |  April 7, 2009 at 2:43 am

    what i’m saying is that two people can come away with completely different conclusions based on the same evidence. is the universe hostile to life, or the fact that life developed inspite of the universe important? is the glass half empty (hostile view) or half full (life inspite of)?

    Luke, if a glass is half full, it’s also half empty. Most of the universe is not suited for life to live in. Life developed nonetheless. Both are true. These are not mutually exclusive descriptors. My question is, as it has been through out this conversation, what does this evidence (keeping in mind both “interpretations”) tell you about a possible creator?

    “Ah, and this, um, means something?”

    yes.

    Thank-you, Luke, for helping me refrain from over-generalizing religion or including you in blanket statements you don’t fit under by being so forthcoming with your own point of view.

    What, I grovel most humbly at the feet of your learned mastery to ask, does it mean that God (whoever or whatever that is) has a knowledge, justice, wisdom or actions unlike ours? From here, it sounds like the undefinable has indiscernible attributes, but you assure me there is some actual meaning to this statement. Please, please share this meaning with me. I’m all ears.

    nice side step. so i’m to assume the hardest thing in your life facing you is not doing the dishes… not about global food stortage, not about nuclear ambitions, not AIDS in africa, not about hostile regimes and their abuses of human rights?

    No, you’re to assume that none of those things challenge my world view. How about you? What does global food shortages or AIDS tell you about your god or creator?

  • 33. Anglican Gurl  |  April 7, 2009 at 10:19 am

    Nice Questor. You ask Luke to make a claim so you can knock it down without having to make a claim yourself. Nice job! Let’s see if he takes the bait.

  • 34. Luke  |  April 7, 2009 at 11:05 am

    Anglican Gurl, you’re over here now? good point, but i’ll take the bait… i’m a sucker for discussion and debate.

    “Luke, if a glass is half full, it’s also half empty”

    there you are! we live in the tension! but interpretation is still required. there is potential for each, and i think that’s the point. excellent observation, Questor.

    “including you in blanket statements you don’t fit under by being so forthcoming with your own point of view.”

    i’ll dismiss the mastery part.. i really don’t have a clue, just some confused ideas i’m constantly sorting out, but can only speak to what i know up until this point about God. which i’ll get to after this:

    “No, you’re to assume that none of those things challenge my world view. How about you? What does global food shortages or AIDS tell you about your god or creator?”

    sure they challenge my worldview. you’re crazy if they don’t. i’d rather not look at these things and be content in my own context, not having to look at the broader implication of my actions and choices. it is my faith that wakes me up to these things that i wouldn’t normally look at. some people can already be aware of these things without faith, but this is my avenue to dealing with issues of social justice.

    what do these things tell me about the creator of all of this mess? largely that free will is a pain in the ass. i’m not one to buy into the original sin idea, but i can see how we’re limited in many ways… like our actions have consquences we can’t see. we’re beings of tension, locked between the potential for great good and great evil.

    This view of the origin of sin is largely found in the Orthodox view of sin, the ancestral version of sin. Instead of being passed biologically, as Augustine asserts, we are born into a world where sin is already in existence. We are not fundamentally bad and corrupt and totally depraved, but as we grow and learn, “Sin Happens.”

    so where is God in all of this? well the devil isn’t locked in the basement and God isn’t thrown up into the sky.. God is with us, urging, guiding, trying to show the connection between self and the rest of the world. and we don’t really need a devil, we do a good enough job on our own… God, then, is the force which connects us as human beings. so when you feel small, or connected, like when you’re looking at the ocean or peering in the eyes of a loved one, God is in your midst, connecting, sustaining, creating and re-creating.

    we are entangled. faith in God helps me frame this connection and gives me hope. hope is a dimension of the soul, it’s not essentially dependent on some particular observation of the world or estimate of the situation, it is not a prognostication… it’s an orientation of the heart, it transcends the world that is immediately experienced and is anchored somewhere beyond it’s horizons.

    it’s not about investing in enterprises that are obviously headed for early success but rather, an ability to work for something because it is good, not because it stands a chance to succeed or because it is exceedly logical. to strive in the face of adversity, to rest in a power/concept greater than yourself beyond the constructs of humanity (realizing you’ll never be free of your own cultural bias), to view your own failings, and to strive to do better. this is what faith in God does for me. if you are able to do the same without God involved, you’re obviously smarter and a better self-motivator than i ;-) but for me, God is a catalyst, a future hope, and that which connects us.

  • 35. Luke  |  April 7, 2009 at 11:06 am

    crap.. i had something all typed out and it erased. i’ll take that as a sign that what i had was not sufficient… i’ll work on this and get back to you, Questor.

  • 36. Luke  |  April 7, 2009 at 11:30 am

    “No, you’re to assume that none of those things challenge my world view. How about you? What does global food shortages or AIDS tell you about your god or creator?”

    here’s the short answer: of course these things challenge my worldview, you’d be crazy if they didn’t. i would rather just look at my own context and be content with that.. but my faith and be belief that God connects us all is what drives me to look at the broader picture. God is the force which connects us, that guides us, that we are free to choose to follow or to deny… largely it shows that creation is free, and this freedom is a pain in the ass.

    like you said “if a glass is half full, it’s also half empty” it is in this tension that we live… is there a God, and can we trust this God? some answer no, and still are able to look beyond themselves into the wider world. some answer yes, and can’t look beyond themselves… and the opposite is true as well. we live in a “both/and” world, not an “either/or”. for me, God and faith in God drives me to social justice, to look at the causality and connectivity of the cosmos, the connect between you and me.

    i use my faith as a framework to look at the tensions and decided how to proceed. others use science, philosophy, and some don’t bother at all. i try to hold all things in tension, but this is hard because of my finite and limited POV. but i keep trying and hope’n. trying to enter into a mutually enriching dialogue and relationship…

    i hope this answers and provides sufficient fodder for the knock down that AG predicts is coming ;-)

    peace.

  • 37. Quester  |  April 7, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Anglican Gurl,

    Well spotted! That is, indeed, one of the things that frustrates me about atheism. Atheism makes no positive claims that can be discussed or thought about, giving athiests a decided (and some might say unfair) advantage in dismantling the claims of theists. As a very new athiest, I have found relatively few claims about reality (or faith statements) I am willing to make. They are: 1) What is, is. 2) Actions have consequences.

    I hope to find more, and am looking at various religions and philosophies in that hope.

  • 38. Quester  |  April 7, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Hmm… I’ve made a response. When I try to post it again, WordPress warns me I’m making a duplicate comment. Yet, I cannot see what I’ve said.

  • 39. Quester  |  April 7, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    Ah, I see. My comment (and Luke’s mysteriously vanished comment) are both caught in the spam filter. Usually when this happens to me, it’s because of links I’ve put in my response. That’s not the case this time. Hey de-Convert is this some sort of subtle hint, or is the spam filter not getting enough adverts to keep it fed?

  • 40. The de-Convert  |  April 7, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    Quester,
    Maybe you have to quit mentioning penis enlargement or viagra in your comments :)
    Paul

  • 41. Luke  |  April 7, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    “They are: 1) What is, is. 2) Actions have consequences.” Quester

    two assertions i can completely get on board with.

    and darn that spam filter.. i think it caused me to narrow down my response.. so it saved you some reading time ;-)

  • 42. Quester  |  April 7, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    Luke,

    Your original response is now above at 34. I did read, and enjoy it. I’ll reply to it later today.

  • 43. Luke  |  April 7, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    enjoyed?! cool! i await your response. thanks for the kind words. rawk on dude!

  • 44. Quester  |  April 8, 2009 at 1:25 am

    Yes, Luke, I enjoyed your response, not least for the hope it inspired in me that we’re getting near the same page.

    You’ve asked, here and there, why fundamental Christianity is the type of Christianity most often discussed in this blog. You’ve expressed displeasure at being grouped in with people that you disagree with when others here talk about Christianity.

    Fundamental, conservative and orthodox Christianity are possible to talk about, because these religious views make claims about God and reality that can be discussed.

    You, when discussing God, describe God as the force which connects all humans to each other. I’m doubting that you mean this as a force which can be measured, such as gravitational or electro-magnetic forces, but instead as an experienced quality of relationship. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    You use God as a concept to motivate yourself to be a better person. You use Christianity as a language with which to wrestle with decisions on how to live your life. I’m interpreting here, feel free to challenge me.

    The God you describe is not one who intervenes in the world. The Christianity you claim makes no statements about how the world is, only what qualities the world can have, if people decide to work towards those qualities as goals.

    How do you discuss a God who is a quality of relationship between humans? How do you discuss a Christianity which is a goal of relationship between humans? This God and this Christianity do not have any existence seperate from humans which I can discuss with you. All we can discuss, are the humans.

    I have asked you, Luke, to tell me about your God. You have told me about you. I like you, Luke. I’ve read some parts of your blog. You remind me of some of the wonderful times I had at seminary, some of the wonderful people I met, books I read and discussions I had- sometimes talking all night. I like your willingness to push your boundaries. I hope you and your beautiful wife all the best with your coming child.

    I’m watching in awe as you flap your ears and fly around the circus tent, gripping firm to your magical feather and your belief in it- if you’ll pardon the reference. We can talk about how you can fly, but what can we say about the feather? You don’t (to totally mangle a metaphor) believe that it’s a literal feather, but a quality of flying.

    By the way, you might enjoy one of my all-time favourite books. It’s a fiction novel called Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.

    Sorry for the tangent!

    Before this gets any longer, do you understand what I’m trying to say?

  • 45. BigHouse  |  April 8, 2009 at 9:21 am

    Quester, that was a good summary of the difficulty in discussing and debating some of the more liberal forms of Christianity. Thatnks for putting it down on ‘paper’ so eloquently.

  • 46. Tit for Tat  |  April 8, 2009 at 11:07 am

    Quester

    Well written response to Luke. I have had many discussions with Luke and the one thing that stands out for me is his infectious sense of Hope. Maybe the “story” of Jesus is just that, one of Hope. Hope that we can be better and that the glass can be half full. We all like to tell stories, I like the one Luke likes to tell.

  • 47. Luke  |  April 8, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    hey Questor… wonderful response and you’ve thrown stuff at me i haven’t considered before. great stuff!

    “This God and this Christianity do not have any existence seperate from humans which I can discuss with you. All we can discuss, are the humans.”

    you’re right! i can only deal with the result of God, not directy with God. creation exists… we exist. causality is a messy and complex thing, and the tensions found in this world and the inherent paradoxes of being are baffling. so i choose to set my sights on the “here below” than to concentrate them on the “there beyond.” as far as i can tell, the ‘there beyond” view is hogwash and completely unverifiable. i believe that since we’ll all die sooner or later, we’re all going to find out whether there even is a “there beyond” or not. so best not to worry about it.

    for me it’s all about relationship. we cannot describe ourselves without talking about relationship. it’s all relational. if i say i’m tall, it means i’m taller than most people in any given room, if i have black hair, it means i do not have blonde, brown, or otherwise. all things are comparative. so to describe God “objectively” in my book is impossible… just as i cannot describe my mom without talking about my relationship with her. nor would i expect others to hold the exact same view, but i would look for similarities. so namely, there is no God if humans were not here.. just as my mom wouldn’t be a mother unless i was here. nature abhors a vacuum, all things are connected. it is my belief that they are connected and called to be in relationship through a creator. this force is not just gravitational and energy fields but something else.. it’s a consciousness we get glimpses of when we view our connectedness, when things “fall into place.” with this view there is no such thing as a coincidence.

    clear as mud? cool. moving on.

    “We can talk about how you can fly, but what can we say about the feather?”

    absolutely! i’m right on the same page with you here. IMV the feather is a tool.. a guiding stick. it’s like a horizon gyro in an airplane. you may be able to fly without one.. i can too. but i find that it helps my flight and keeps me from crashing into others.

    where this metaphor gets in trouble is when the feather is dropped in favor of a stick and then instead of using the stick as a gyro, we start hitting each other with it… that is the wrong use. that is what is lamentable about religion is all too often the temptation to wield a guidance tool as a weapon is too great. many have been victims of this on this site… myself included (hence why i’m no longer catholic). but religion isn’t the only weapon.. humans can turn darn near anything into a weapon.. economics, politics, and yest, science supports this as well.. as many ills like nuclear energy didn’t spring from a need to find renewable and sustainable energy.. but for the need to kill as many people as possible as quickly as possible.

    but as T4T stated in another post… the WHY of religion is usually never addressed here. namely the HOW and i largely agree that the HOW has been misguided. the why is the community that can be created and sustained through the use of the feather. lifes can be guided, the seasons and rites of passages observed, and where else can you get people to consider new ideas beyond themselves than every sunday in a church? i try to push and infuse my sermons (when i get to speak them) with philosophy and science. try to get people to consider what they haven’t yet considered.. just as you have done here today for me.

    i believe in God because i’ve felt something greater than myself that i can’t rationally or logically account for. it drives me batty! i would rather still be selling drywall and making a nice salary in stability as that is something my life sure has lacked.. but there was this urge, this call, to follow something and i’m finding that this is my passion. before that call i was content to be agnostic and just study philosophy… and i was happy there until something grabbed me and threw me into the fray. i’m in relation with it, i get glimpses of it.. but largely words and labels fail me. i’m rather apophatic about it. however, i’m finding that i’m good at this new venture and others seem to benefit, so i’ve dedicated my life to it. as T4T says.. we all like to tell stories. i think they are our greatest hope for our future. that could be my “infectious sense of Hope” talking but i dunno ;-) (thanks T4T!)

    loooong rant over.. hope it makes an once of sense. thanks for your warm reply Questor. i will ponder it some more.

    oh, and i LOOOOVE Neil Gaiman, one of my fave authors. i’ll have to revisit Good Omens as it’s been a long while since i’ve read it. thanks for recalling a classic!

  • 48. brandon grissom  |  April 13, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    God is very real!

  • 49. LeoPardus  |  April 13, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    It would not be worth trying to educate someone who does not even know to capitalize his own name about what a fallacy of assertion is.

  • 50. Quester  |  April 23, 2009 at 1:59 am

    Luke,

    I apologize for how long it’s taken me to respond to you. It’s been a heck of a month, in several ways. Never mind that, to the meat!

    clear as mud?

    Perhaps moreso than you’d expect. Are you familiar with the concept of panentheism? If not, you might enjoy reading up on it.

    but as T4T stated in another post… the WHY of religion is usually never addressed here. namely the HOW and i largely agree that the HOW has been misguided.

    Luke, go back and look at the ‘De-converting from De-conversion’ thread. What Justin said, and T4T quoted is “The world’s religions may not very accurately answer the question ‘How?’, but they are definitely on to something in regards to the question ‘Why?'” Do you see how that is a different question than the one you’re asking, and why we might dismiss it?

    But you’re right that T4T does touch on a possible why of religion in that thread, to teach how to do community better. The role of religion in a community and what it can do is an interesting topic, and if you read the archives, you will see that it has been discussed here. This may not be readily apparent as the perspective taken is how we can continue to share in the advantages of religion without depending on a non-existent god.

    i’m in relation with it, i get glimpses of it.. but largely words and labels fail me. i’m rather apophatic about it.

    Ok, I had to look up apophatic, then I had to bang my head against a wall for a while. You practice apophasis, attempting to describe God by negation only, talking about what you believe God is not, but then you are upset when all the conversations about Christianity on this site refer only to what you believe Christianity is not. Do you see the irony here?

    oh, and i LOOOOVE Neil Gaiman, one of my fave authors. i’ll have to revisit Good Omens as it’s been a long while since i’ve read it. thanks for recalling a classic!

    I thought you’d enjoy that one.

  • 51. What can I know? « de-conversion  |  September 17, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    […] in April, Leopardus posted a video about critical thinking and open mindedness. The same people have now made a video called Putting […]

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

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Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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