Posts tagged ‘skepticism’
The purpose of my rants and opinions is not to change anyone’s mind. There are several reasons I am rather vocal in what I say. I do hope that my posts help people think about what they believe, even if they don’t come to the same conclusions I did. I also hope to better inform those that wish to keep their religious beliefs what those of us who do not have them argue because there is a lot of misinformation out there given by apologetic ministries and the like. My main purpose, however, I think, is to just enjoy having them and not being afraid to express them anymore. Nevertheless, I do occasionally tire from trying to explain everything patiently over and over again to those who have little interest in what I am actually saying, but simply want to dogmatically cling to what they know. In times like those, I remind myself that I used to be one of those people.
It makes me wonder: why did I change my mind when others don’t? I think there are three factors that led to my de-conversion: Humility, knowledge, and misery.
Humility is something taught to Christians, but it is a rare Christian that actually possesses it (at least in the conservative world in which I lived–I never really had much interaction with the more liberal Christians, so from here on, whenever I say “Christian”, know I am talking about conservatives here). I will not say I had an abundance of it–on the contrary, I thought I knew all the answers and could defend them. I was well versed in apologetics and knew every Sunday school answer in the book. Perhaps it was all my schooling in apologetics that made me listen when someone else spoke–I was anxious to prove their argument wrong, so I would listen. Over time, however, I realized that I couldn’t…
To celebrate our 2nd Anniversary, 1,000,000 page views, and 22,000+ comments, I’d like to highlight a few of the images posted on this blog by our contributors. These images give a great summary of the general topics of our posts for the past 2 years:
[Art by Jim Huger from Dead To Rights, a parody of Jack T. Chick’s tract]
I don’t really mean to, but I find myself debating people a lot. Imagine me as some sort of super geek who pushes her glasses against her nose, raises an index finger, and says “Umm, actually…” in a nasally voice. Except I don’t wear glasses. But it’s a usefully tool of illustration, so just pretend that I do. Anyway, in my many debates, I’ve found that I encounter the same stumbling blocks to critical thinking repeatedly. They’re the same ones that I dealt with during my journey from credulous Christian to skeptic, and they are as follows:
Recently I was debating Chiropractic with an intelligent person. I presented her with evidence against the efficacy of Chiropractic and evidence that neck manipulation can and does cause strokes. I tempered that by saying that Chiropractic has been found to be helpful for certain kinds of lower back injuries, but no more helpful than massage and physical therapy, which don’t put you at risk of a stroke. I could tell she was considering what I had to say, and I was hoping that maybe, if nothing else, she’d think again before she let a Chiropractor twist her neck. She didn’t argue or challenge any of my points, and even admitted they were “interesting” but she told me that she was going to continue to visit her Chiropractor. Why? Because “he’s a close friend of the family and is trusted by us.”
Now I’m sure that her Chiropractor is a good person, and I’d bet with certainty that he’s never caused a stroke, but the fact that someone is a friend doesn’t make them right, and just because a friend is a Chiropractor doesn’t lend Chiropractic any actual validity. That’s emotional thinking…
This is the third installment of the series “Why do Christians de-convert?” in which I’m citing the primary reasons for de-conversion amongst the sample of the 117 de-conversion stories I read.
Billboards exhort us to “read your bible”, and perhaps it’s a good idea. For 10.63% of people in the sample, reading the bible was significant in ending their faith. For some de-convertees the bible demonstrated how little their present religion had to do with the holy text that it supposedly revered.
Consider one person’s experience when quite young:
I had to fill out a worksheet about what the teen-age Jesus did after he woke up in the morning, rolled up his mat (like a good fundamentalist child) and went out to help his father in the carpenter’s shop. When I went back to the bible and saw that no one knows what happened [in those years of Jesus’ life].
A simple “learning” activity prompted the above Christian to question their faith…
Why do Christians de-convert? To answer these questions I’ve sat down and considered 94 of the 117 de-conversion stories I read on one of the largest archives of de-conversion stories on the internet.
There appeared to be several broad and recurring factors among these de-conversion stories. In this series, I will consider these broad reasons for de-conversion, how common they appeared to be amongst my sample, and what it might mean in terms of tactics for those wanting to support or even promote de-conversion.
Dissatisfaction with the answers to simple questions proffered by the religion was the most common reason cited for de-conversion amongst the sample (14.89%). Priests, prosletyers, Sunday school teachers, and religious parents are one of the most common triggers for de-conversion. When a figure representing the religion (in the mind of the person asking a question), offers an absurd answer to that question, the asker starts to doubt.
Children ask questions, and many de-convertees spoke of their first doubt’s arising when they were children asking simple questions, and getting stupid answers…
Ok, maybe not embrace, but befriend?
Recently on a whim I bought a book from the new books display at my local bookstore (what else is new, right?). The title is The Fall of the Evangelical Nation: The Surprising Crisis Inside the Church. I’m on page 53 right now, and I had to stop to think and write about something that’s been on my mind since Sam Harris’s first book came out. I’ve been thinking about it even more since I read about half of Chris Hedges’s latest while having coffee at the bookstore a few weeks ago (I decided not to buy it).
Here’s the question: Is fundamentalism the authentic religious voice?
My answer is “no”…. but I seem to be in the minority of opinion.
The media features fundamentalists or extreme conservative believers every time a topic regarding morality comes up, as if these are the only people who can speak for believers, as if they have authority to speak for all people of faith on these issues. Not only are atheists and agnostics left out of the conversation, but moderate and liberal believers often are as well. They are not taken as seriously as those who are literalist or extremist in their views, and are often considered “soft” or “lax,” as if they were not “true” followers of the faith. When journalists act this way, they are echoing the fundamentalist point of view…
I applaud many Christians on something that self-proclaimed “freethinkers” often overlook about certain religionists: the quality of their skepticism. I laud the way that a Christian can systematically dismantle their religious rivals, yet at the same time I praise those same rivals in their endeavours to knock down the Christian religion. Christians, as well as other religious adherents, definitely have a healthy dose of skepticism, defined as someone “inclined to question or doubt all accepted opinions” (OED).
Many Christians doubt not only evolutionary theory, but also the actual physical evidences for it (certainly a radical skepticism indeed!). Christians, by necessity, doubt not only Hinduism, but also its philosophically astute and more universal descendant, Buddhism. If they can doubt such a sophisticated and ancient religion such as Buddhism, then certainly New Religious Movements, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses or the Latter Day Saints, that call themselves “Christian” are certainly no match for those of “sound theology”. Furthermore, scores of Christians doubt that morality apart from God is not only improbable, but completely impossible. And almost every Christian doubts that the universe can be explained without a divine presence. I celebrate such skepticism!…