discussion

The Wrap Up – Part 1

So much to say, and hundreds of ways to say it.  I must have tackled this post a dozen times, only to leave it unfinished to go and sleep on it, so to speak.

What I’ve decided to do is to make a wrap-up post in two parts, concerning my exchange with the folks at Roll to Disbelieve (which started here and, by way of here, here, here and here, left off here).  Throughout the course of the discussion, several people weighed in, many of whom brought up some really good points that I’m anxious to discuss further.  Alas, though, my free time to write is sporadic at best these days, and facing an army of opposition single-handedly only compounds and exacerbates this predicament.  I hope those who engaged do not begrudge me the delay — after I finish these two posts, my goal is to have responded directly to those comments that I found the most relevant and engaging.  Thank you for your patience!

To preface this wrap-up, my nutshell assessment of how the discussion went down is something like this:  In essence, the entire discussion comes down to evidence — whether or not the Christian claims have the evidential legs to be taken seriously as a feasible (or even likely) model to explain the reality of our world.  This comprised perhaps 3% of the discussion.  The other 97% or so was a kitchen sink of statements and accusations concerning topics such as my discussion tactics, my motivation in becoming a Christian, my motivation in sharing my faith, my sub-par mental faculties, my flawed character, my failure to apply the teachings of Jesus in my own life, my vile hatred of those who oppose Christianity and the various ways I have threatened and insulted them, my inability to understand the points being presented to me, my failure at presenting good arguments in favor of my worldview, my poor logic skills, my inability to think for myself, my penchant for parroting other peoples’ opinions without understanding or questioning them, and my general depravity as a human being.

Pretty par for the course, I’d say, when it comes to typical discussions of this nature. (more…)

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PRATTS and PAWs

I’m thoroughly enjoying the tennis match with my friend Captain Cassidy 😀 I really do hope the feeling is mutual — she seems to be pretty sporting about it all so far, so I think I’m not overstepping my bounds to hope that she’s also getting something out of our exchange.  Thanks also to others who have weighed in on the matter — I’ve gotten to meet several new people so far, which is always a good thing!  Y’all are very welcome, make yourselves at home 🙂

This time, I must thank the good Captain for introducing me to a new term: PRATT, which stands for “Point Refuted A Thousand Times.”  In her recent article, she establishes the groundwork for this term and then outlines a list of examples of such that I am supposed to have employed against her.  (The points she made therein seemed very similar to those she made in her first response.)  Some are fair points, others I’m pretty sure are not so fair — and some are more addressed at my tactics than my points themselves.  (If you’re interested in my answer to some of these points, feel welcome to check out my response article and my direct response to her comment.)  All, however, seem to come with a hefty dose of caricature, to the point where even I can’t find much about them to take seriously (even though I am supposed to have said them myself).

However, the article the Captain cited on RationalWiki that dealt with PRATTs had a few examples of its own — and, since they seem to be the authority on the matter, I figure I’ll go right to the source. (more…)

Ahoy Mateys! A Response to the Captain and Her Crew

Boy, I’ve sure stuck a stick in the hornet’s nest now, haven’t I? 🙂

My thanks to all who engaged in this discussion so far, both on my blog and on Captain Cassidy’s.  The situation in a nutshell:  The Captain wrote an article about Christian rebirth, I wrote a response, she and some of her readers responded in kind… and then I left to go visit my in-laws for the weekend, so I couldn’t respond with the promptness that I would have liked.  In a way, though, it was nice to have a break — allowed me to slow-cook some of the important issues that were brought up.

I will respond, in brief, to some of these specific topics in this response, but this will mostly be a meta-discussion so that everyone know where I’m coming from. (more…)

My Favorite Atheist and Christian Thinkers

I love watching debates, especially on the topics of God and Christianity.  Thankfully, in our Internet age there are hours upon hours of such footage for someone like me to watch.

In summary of my experience so far:  I’ve seen a lot of bad debates.  Let me clarify what I mean:  I consider a debate to be bad when any of the following occur:

  1. One or both parties fail to treat the other in a personable manner and with respect
  2. One or both parties make blanket statements without backing them up
  3. One or both parties fail to offer any definitive arguments for their position (rather resorting to “talking points”)
  4. One or both parties fail to answer the other’s points directly
  5. It is apparent that one or both parties are not “on their game”

Thus, by these criteria, a debate in my opinion can be good, even if the atheist presents a better argument.  In fact, I’m not so much concerned with who wins a debate, as much as I am the manner in which it is engaged.  If both sides bring their A-game, engage directly and respectfully with each other, bring up good points and adequately answer their opponents’… hey, that’s a good time for me!  I’m that way with sports too — I don’t enjoy watching games where one side absolutely obliterates the other, even if it’s my team who’s doing the pummeling.  I’d much rather watch a good match (even one where my team loses) then see my team wipe the floor with the other.  I’m curious if you all feel similarly or not in this respect.

So, first things first:  I’m in the market for some new debates.  If anyone has any recommendations, shoot them my way!

I’m also always looking for new faces in the world of theological debate, especially on the atheist side of the table.  I’m very interested to hear from my readers (atheists especially) who your favorite thinkers are in favor of the atheist position.

As for me, in watching many debates and applying the criteria above, I have established somewhat of a scoring system in my mind for the various prominent thinkers who tend to fill one side of the debate table or the other, and have a mental list of my favorite and least-favorite debaters.  A few prominent names on my list, starting with my favorites and working my way down: (more…)

Unexamined Misgivings

I have been so blessed lately with lots of comments from new people — people who seem to be a perfect fit for a community like this.  Thank you all for engaging!

In one brief discussion I had recently with Charles, he discussed his deconversion process and mentioned this:

If you had asked me at age 24 why I believed, I would have been able to give a list of reasons similar to what you gave in a previous post, but in fact I was not all that confident in those reasons. I was holding to them in spite of misgivings, by faith, because I trusted my experience with God and felt that trumped everything else.

We later agreed that the presence of misgivings in one’s philosophy is not necessarily indication that the philosophy is fatally flawed — in fact, I’ve yet to come across any metaphysical philosophy that does not involve the acceptance of a few mysteries, unanswered questions, or even seeming contradictions.  There’s no such thing as an airtight philosophy of everything — not yet, anyway.  We simply don’t have all the information.

In any case, Charles further clarified what he meant:

It’s natural to have misgivings, but what I used to have were *unexamined* misgivings. Now I’m ok with examining any of my beliefs.

I agree with Charles that having misgivings and failing to examine them can be a bad thing.  I admit I can be slow sometimes to really dig into the nitty-gritty of my own questions concerning my faith — though I have been convinced enough in the bigger picture of my worldview that I’m not incredibly concerned or anxious about the questions I do have.  Someday I would like to go to seminary, and when I do I will certainly have some questions lined up and ready to fire at my professors.

Nevertheless, what Charles’ question did for me is make me curious to hear from my readers, especially those with deconversion stories of their own:  Looking back, what were some of the key points that you would consider to have been “unexamined misgivings” that led to you giving up your faith in God?  Thanks ahead of time for weighing in!  I look forward to reading your responses!

Belief vs. Knowledge

Ah, tildeb, you’ve done it again — you’ve raised such an incisive point that I have no choice but to devote an entire post to my reply 🙂 Thanks, as always, for the inspiration!

Now, I for one highly recommend my readers to take the time to go through the entire discussion (it actually starts back here, then jumps to here) — but, since this may be a tall order for people who already live rich and busy lives, I’ll set the stage by saying, simply, that the discussion thus far has been characterized by tildeb offering critique of my methods in arriving at the truth about God.  I have provided evidence of both subjective and substantive natures, but all were rejected because, at the end of the day, my metaphysical worldview boils down to faith — I cannot know definitively that what I believe is the truth, because none of my conclusions can be independently verified in ways consistent with the naturalistic method of attaining knowledge.  (I think this is an accurate picture of our discussion thus far, tildeb, but I am of course open to correction.)

So, now the rest of this post will be a direct response to tildeb: (more…)