Posts tagged ‘spirituality’
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…
LeoPardus recently wrote about a prayer he prayed during his de-conversion journey where he asked the following of God – “God, if you’re real, do something. Anything.”
Well Leo, hop in your car and head to I-35. God is there and he’s in full action. He’s even delivering people from homosexuality (what greater miracle could you see).
Updated December 20th: I-35: ‘Ex Gay’ Now ‘Ex Ex Gay’ »
- The de-Convert
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…
“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into” Jonathan Swift (Irish writer and satirist)
“Belief cannot argue with unbelief, it can only preach to it” Karl Barth (influential Christian thinker)
Above are two quotes, both of which I tend to accept as sensible. So I’m trying to work out the implications of it for those who live inside a world of faith and those who live outside.
Following the logic in both these statements, it’s very difficult to ‘reason’ someone out of a faith position – certainly if it’s a faith held as a child.
My first question to Christians now is always ‘what made you first believe?’ – and if the answer involves the phrases ‘well I was brought up in a christian home…’ or ‘at the age of 13 i went to a camp…’ – it doesn’t mean their faith is any less real or valid, but as far as discussion goes, again I must refer to Swift and Barth.
Can the de-converted people on this site maybe take a moment to discuss what they think are the best ways to guide people from their prison of faith?
(excuse the inflammatory last statement :) ) – QuestionMonkey
In the movie ‘The Matrix’, Thomas Anderson is living a fairly contented life as a computer programmer, everything is pretty much as he likes it until he is meets Morpheus . Although Thomas resists and struggles to cling on, over time Morpheus shows him that the world he is living in is make-believe, his real name is Neo. When Neo finally realises the truth Morpheus offers him a blue pill. The blue pill will make him forget about the matrix and allow him to return to his normal comfortable life, the red pill will open his mind to the disturbing knowledge of the matrix, with no going back. He takes the red pill and accepts the disturbing reality.
Over the last four or five years Morpheus has been in my head banging on at me to wake up and open my eyes. After much deliberation and a protracted grieving process I took the red pill, I looked behind the curtain and found that the wizard of oz wasn’t magical (too many movie references?). The reality is now obvious, or more accurately the unreality of the father-figure god is obvious. When I watch, listen or read debates between god fearing types and skeptics, the god-believers say things which only a few years ago I would have taken as an honest reflection of my reality – now seem completely deluded…
LeoPardus recently published 3 articles which focused on reasons he left Christianity. I will be reprinting 3 slightly edited articles from my old website that highlight only one of the main reasons I left Christianity – the tortuous doctrine of eternal damnation. If you have already read these, forgive me for this second go-around.
I used to wear a button on my hat. I wore it everyday for years. It was one of those buttons that I used to identify myself as a Bible Believing Christian, without having to go through the trouble of actually having to say it to everyone I met. My button had a cliché printed on it.
It read “Know Jesus Know Peace, No Jesus No Peace.”
Why did I have peace in Jesus? I was to have peace because my faith in Jesus Christ gave me hope of an eternal reward in Heaven. No matter the trials of this mortal life, no matter how I was persecuted for my faith, no matter what physical ailments may become me, no matter if death knocked on my door, I could say “O death where is thy victory, O death where is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:55)…
[This is the last of the series. I have other reasons that wouldn’t resonate with many folks, (e.g. issues with the EOC in particular) so I’ll leave those lie.]
Changed lives are so often trotted out as testimonies or evidence of the truth of God/Christ/the Gospel. So shouldn’t unchanged lives constitute counter-proof?
Just look at what the Bible says about believers:
- If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things have passed away.
– Those who have put on Christ have put off the old (sinful) nature.
– How can you who are in Christ continue to sin?
– You are being made into the likeness of Christ.
– You have been given the mind of Christ.
And that’s the sort of stuff people love to talk about when they preach, give their testimony, counsel others, and so on. But where’s the reality of it to be seen?
Go take a look into any church. You’ll see that believers behave just as badly, and sometimes worse, than non-believers. There’s no God/Christ within them, making them perfect, or making them into His likeness…