GCU Dancer on the Midway
Paul Wright's blog
Link blog: religion, christianity, de-conversion, politics 
7th Oct 2009, 10:31 pm
giles
What Is Evil For The Darwinist, Ctd
Andrew Sullivan posts some well-reasoned letters from readers on the question of what a non-theist would call "evil" (presumably responses to the old "how can you say God is evil when you don't have a basis for morality?" question). Bizarrely, he then describes them as showing "contempt" for religion. There's no pleasing some people. The letters are good, anyway.
seek and ye shall find…. but what?
“If you REALLY had been a Christian you would have never de-converted.” vs the observation that many de-converts are former Christian ministers.
(tags: de-conversion religion christianity)
Buddhism and the God-idea
Interesting. I liked: "Whether we call those superior beings gods, deities, devas or angels is of little importance, since it is improbable that they call themselves by any of those names."
(tags: buddhism god religion)
Why it's so hard to quantify false rape charges. - By Emily Bazelon and Rachael Larimore - Slate Magazine
False accusations probably account for 8 to 10% of all accusations, though the research isn't conclusive, and it's not clear how this compares to false reporting of other crimes. Interesting story about the falsely accused man who found support from his girlfriend who had been raped some time ago: emotions were similar on both sides.
(tags: feminism research rape crime)
Justice with Michael Sandel - Home
Harvard has put Michael Sandel's justly popular "Justice" course on the web. Well worth watching.
(tags: education philosophy morality ethics video community politics harvard justice)
Messy Revelation: Why Paul would have flunked hermaneutics
Susan Wise Bauer in Christianity Today, writing about Peter Enns, who noticed that the NT authors don't interpret the OT the way evangelicals would. I liked this bit: "This is the exactly the kind of exegesis that terrifies most evangelicals. The man who admits that meanings can be "read into" Scripture stands on the fabled slippery slope, right above a sheer drop-off, while below him churns a sea of relativism, upon which floats only a single overloaded lifeboat, captained by a radical feminist gay & lesbian & transgender activist who is very anxious to make the final decision about who gets pitched overboard."
(tags: bible hermaneutics peter-enns christianity religion paul old-testament)
What’s so great about being an ex-Christian? Intellectual integrity.
This sounds familiar.
(tags: ex-christian de-conversion atheism christianity religion)
Omnipresent G-d (LORD_YHWH) on Twitter
God's on Twitter, with some new commandments. I don't know why these atheists complain about divine hiddeness. "My word is a knife made white by heat, such as that which one uses to cut pastrami." - wisdom for us all there.
(tags: god yhwh religion funny satire christianity judaism twitter)
Science, Pseudoscience and Bollocks
An interesting essay which talks about the demarcation problem in science and argues that we should be against creation science because it's wrong, not try to argue about what science is. I'm shocked he referred to a Christian belief as "bollocks". I got told off for that once.
(tags: bollocks science pseudoscience epistemology empiricism logical-positivism karl-popper popper creationism dover)
Thunderbirds will grow a generation of mad engineers
FAB, Mr Ellis.
(tags: warren-ellis thunderbirds tv)
On The Possible God Of Philosophy And Cosmology Vs. The Personal, Historical God Of Faith
Camels With Hammers links to Dennett's remarks on hearing William Lane Craig's cosmological argument, and then talks about the gap between the source of the universe (which we should properly be agnostic about) and the gods of major religions.
(tags: daniel-dennett dennett william-lane-craig craig cosmology kalam philosophy physics)
Rock-Bottom Loser Entertaining Offers From Several Religions | The Onion - America's Finest News Source
Cruel but funny
(tags: onion religion funny satire humour)
"A Different Way of Knowing": The Uses of Irrationality... and its Limitations
Greta Christina talks about "other ways of knowing" and their uses, as applied to the theism/atheism debate.
(tags: religion epistemology science atheism greta-christina empiricism)
Understanding Sarah Palin: Or, God Is In The Wattles
Peter Watts gives his grand theory for why religion hasn't died out. It's all about preventing free-loading once societies get above a certain size.
(tags: peter-watts religion evolution sarah-palin politics psychology signalling)
Whence Rationality?
Some responses to the evolutionary argument against naturalism. The point that evolution is unlikely to come up with the sort of elaborate errors Plantinga mentions is new to me.
Comments 
8th Oct 2009, 08:48 am (UTC)
"seek and ye shall find... but what?"
"maybe it’s being TOO dedicated, too devoted, too much a seeker that is the danger."

That's a very interesting suggestion.

When you were a Christian, did you used to pray what they call "dangerous prayers"? (Same question to Gareth, and Jamie F, if they happen to be reading this.) Things like "Lord, I want to know you better, whatever it takes." Or "Lord, break me." I used to. The more dangerous the better. (I'm more cautious now; maybe that's a bad thing.)

I've sometimes wondered if there's a link between dangerous prayers and deconversion. The Christian praying those prayers is usually imagining things like persecution, imprisonment, martyrdom; or perhaps sufferings lke Job's. But if those things are acceptable answers to the dangerous prayers, why not God hiding his face for years on end?
8th Oct 2009, 01:12 pm (UTC)
I ran into that "break me" stuff more in the charismatic side of things (maybe at Soul Survivor) than in the more reformed Sound Round Church. Not sure I like it: it sounds like some sort of spiritual boot camp where the sergeant major God has to break you down before he can build you up again. I recall praying for God to make me better, not to "break me" as such.

But if those things are acceptable answers to the dangerous prayers, why not God hiding his face for years on end?

How does God hiding his face help people to get to know him better?

Edited at 2009-10-08 01:16 pm (UTC)
8th Oct 2009, 02:56 pm (UTC)
I don't know. But I can't see how the other things I mentioned help people get to know God better either, and yet the person praying the prayer (as opposed to you now looking back) accepts that God might use those things to achieve whatever long-term good purposes he has. So a temporary complete separation might also be an answer to the dangerous prayers.

I'm not expecting it to make sense from an atheistic POV, but from the POV of someone who already accepts that (a) the other misfortunes can be answers and (b) we don't see how God is using those for good, but believe he can.
8th Oct 2009, 09:26 pm (UTC)
I suppose that an absence from Christianity might make a person come back stronger (as seems to have happened to robhu) or more mature, or something. Nevertheless, I bet there are de-converts who stay that way until they die. Given the traditional Christian view that you only get a chance to become a Christian in this life (e.g. Hebrews 9:27) and that people who reject God in this life go to Hell, it's hard to see how that would result in the person getting to know God better.

If God's desire is that people come to know him, the cut-off at death has always seemed arbitrary to me: it's almost as if someone was attempting to work out an explanation for what we observe to happen (people live and then die), rather than designing what happens for a particular purpose.

Edited at 2009-10-09 12:11 am (UTC)
8th Oct 2009, 11:54 pm (UTC)
I did, from time to time. (Of the "do whatever is best" variety rather than the "do whatever is nastiest" variety.) Of course I can't be sure how thoroughly I meant them.

It would be easier to believe in a link between "dangerous prayers" and deconversion -- at least, the sort of link I think you're suggesting -- if there were more sign of people praying such prayers, getting God's face hidden from them, and having something wonderful somehow come out of it that wouldn't have been possible without the face-hiding.
10th Oct 2009, 11:07 am (UTC)
I've sometimes wondered if there's a link between dangerous prayers and deconversion.

"Let me find out the truth, even if I don't like it."?
11th Oct 2009, 03:57 pm (UTC)
Are you saying God answers the prayer by revealing the truth of his own nonexistence?
11th Oct 2009, 06:56 pm (UTC)
Are you saying God answers the prayer by revealing the truth of his own nonexistence?

Heh. And then man gets run over at the next zebra crossing, if I recall correctly :-)

Well, you and I have different views on prayer and God, so I'll try to answer without making too many assumptions.

One way of looking the 'dangerous prayers' you were talking about is as a commitment the person makes to step outside their comfort zone. So in addition to any answer that God sends, that person is committing themself to not turning back in the face of difficulty.

I think that someone who makes a strong commitment to finding out the truth is more likely to change his/her worldview. And someone who doesn't value truth so highly is more likely to stick with whatever they already believe and not question it too much.
12th Oct 2009, 08:35 am (UTC)
Heh. And then man gets run over at the next zebra crossing, if I recall correctly :-)


:)

I think that someone who makes a strong commitment to finding out the truth is more likely to change his/her worldview. And someone who doesn't value truth so highly is more likely to stick with whatever they already believe and not question it too much.

OK, I see, that makes sense.
8th Oct 2009, 11:14 am (UTC)
God's on Twitter, with some new commandments.

I'm sure that the idea of writing a "diary/blog/musings of God" with humorous intent has been done many times, but the version of it that always sticks in my mind is one that used to be lurking around on LJ some years ago. The reason I remember that one is for the outstanding short entry which went something like
April 30th

Last night I made this HUGE rock, and I couldn't move it. But then I moved everything else back and forth so it looked like I could.

I win.

8th Oct 2009, 01:15 pm (UTC)
Nice.
8th Oct 2009, 02:58 pm (UTC)
:)
10th Oct 2009, 11:11 am (UTC)
Heh.
10th Oct 2009, 11:10 am (UTC)
Buddhism and the God-idea

I liked the last paragraph:

"These, however, are largely matters beyond the range and concern of average human experience. They have been mentioned here chiefly for the purpose of defining the Buddhist position, and not to serve as a topic of speculation and argument. Such involvement can only divert attention and effort from what ought to be our principal object: the overcoming of greed, hatred and delusion where they are found in the here and now."
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