Posts tagged ‘freethinking’
In my previous post on this subject, Independence in Thought, I discussed a point made by Phillychief in his post entitled Insularity?, where he stated that atheists, by and large, are critical thinkers.
Another point that Phillychief made, with which I agree, is that atheists are not as prone to hero worship and personality cults as theists appear to be. He cites the examples of Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennet, et al, and notes that their positions are scrutinized incessantly. What he implied but didn’t say outright, which I will say, is that much of this scrutiny comes from people who generally accept these writers’ ideas. The critics criticize because they want to sharpen their own thinking skills and also because they want to challenge these writers, and others like them, to put forward the strongest possible arguments for their positions and to articulate those arguments clearly, succinctly and coherently.
I, for example, like Richard Dawkins, and I enjoyed reading The God Delusion. That doesn’t blind me to the fact that the book has some substantive flaws. My atheism does not depend on Dawkins being infallible. Ditto for all the recent flap about Antony Flew – the fact that he shifted from atheism to a deist position doesn’t undermine my atheist position at all. My atheistic view does not depend upon the Gospels according to St. Antony and St. Richard…
In Phillychief’s post entitled, Insularity?, one of his points was that atheists, by and large, are critical thinkers. I agree with this view. Even those atheists who are born into atheist families and have never held religious beliefs often, at some point in their lives, weigh their non-belief against the theistic and other religious alternatives to which they are inevitably exposed, and choose atheism as the most rational choice. For many, this process occurs in their childhood or teen years.
The other set of atheists, those who have de-converted from a particular religion, usually do so after a period of critically scrutinizing their beliefs. My cruises around the blogosphere, plus nearly 5 decades of living and interacting with evangelical theists, have shown me that many theists refuse to believe that de-conversion is a rational decision. Instead, they typically ascribe de-conversion to a multitude of other causes, such as (this list is selective and representative, not anywhere close to exhaustive):
- anger or disappointment at being hurt by another believer
- a desire to embrace a wanton lifestyle free of the moral constraints religion imposes
- having been a false convert rather than a real Christian
- failure to practice such spiritual disciplines as daily prayer and Bible reading
- having a flawed understanding of Christian doctrine
- harboring a secret sin that is getting between oneself and God…
I am very fortunate to have many friends walking this path of de-conversion with me right now. Most of us haven’t totally made a break from the spiritual, but we’ve all come to grips with the fact that “organized religion” is really neither organized or religious, in the sense of the spiritual.
One of my friends is Paul. He was on staff at a “church,” and was dismissed in the name of financial cutbacks. However, he was really let go because he was pushing the envelope and, like all prophets before him, when you start screwing with the status quo, they look for a way to hand you your head. Paul spent a lot of time trying to come to a middle ground with these individuals, but to no avail. Now, he’s simply trying to find which way is up when it comes to spiritual things.
Paul is also a great writer. I would invite any of you to visit his blog: paulfilan.wordpress.com, and respond if you wish. If you visit today, you’ll find an interesting discussion from some of Paul’s “friends.” Like many of us, he’s come out of the ranks of not only “church attendance” but being a participant and leader for years. He’s raw, and very, very authentic…
I have a confession to make. I am a red-blooded, heterosexual male. Like most men, I love attractive women. I have never had what I would consider homosexual temptations, or any other attractions to the male gender. I know only a couple openly gay men, I don’t understand the lifestyle or mindset of the gay man, and I cannot conceive of how any man could be sexually attracted to any other man. I just don’t get it.
But that is not my confession.
My confession is, even when I was a Christian, I did not condemn homosexuality. Yes, I knew what the Bible said, and I remember how all my former pastors told us to ‘hate the sin but love the sinner’. I know that by and large Christians view homosexuality as major sin, and I was expected to agree with God on this issue and condemn it just as he did. But the truth of it is, I just never cared about that. I never told any of my fellow Christians at the time, but I am now telling you, the random internet surfer. As a Christian, homosexuality just never bothered me. Nope. Never did.
I looked at it like this. Jesus, when asked by a lawyer, basically summed up the entirety of the Mosaic Law into two basic, simple commands…
The following was posted on a martial arts forum I’m part of. It was in response to some nit who set forth an idiotic opinion and got it shot down. He just kept insisting on holding his opinion anyway and whining that he had a right to his opinion. Tink (online nickname of the author of the response), in response, set forth an excellent manifesto for the honest thinker. Hope you all enjoy it as much as I did. [P.S. the 'nit' vanished from the forum and has not been heard from again.]
The base element of martial arts is a little more tactile than spirituality. However, if you want to go through an argument, equation, or thread based on the concept of some kind of universal intent, then most religions can be broken down into a basic description of varying concepts of what is generally referred to as “God”.
Where it fails, and only where it fails, is when people say things like “That is my opinion.” and refuse to let it be challenged…
April 13, 2003.
Why are we born so far from home? Why is it so hard to travel on that narrow path and enter that tiny gate?… Sometimes the path is covered by so much debris that it is impossible to decipher where we are to go. I just want to see a little bit of the road. Why do my feet lead me down another path? Have I turned away the light beneath my feet? Am I looking too far ahead rather than the imminent path?… Deliver me from my own shadows… Open my eyes…
April 30, 2003.
Is it only me, God?… Why the distance? How does such a finite being come to “know” you? You know I do not like to speak in the “unreal” and the abstract… Is “knowing” you nothing but a cliche?… People say they are close to You at certain times in their lives, but do they really know what they mean by what they say? Are they not just in a heightened or, dare I say, “enlightened” state?… Are Christians just a special case in which they have certain special knowledge of what they are close to when going through a certain type of mindset? What about unbelievers?…