Saturday, May 5, 2012

Difficulties ...

This blog has caused me some unforeseen difficulties.

I have had many people express gratitude for keeping it real, and for being so open and honest. It feels great to know that so many people have found comfort in what I've been able to share. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to touch people's lives, if only briefly.

I'm having some difficulties. I guess I should have seen this coming. When my husband first started down this path, I really with everything in me believed he'd "be back." That he'd find the Truth (i.e. God) and we'd have a good laugh about his little "atheist time" over wine one night. Plus, I was happy in my life with my God. I really and truly did not want to know that there was a possibility that He wasn't real.

Finally I asked myself this: "What am I afraid of?" I have Truth on my side, so no matter how much I search, I'll always find that all truth points back to the source of truth: God. So, I allowed myself to openly search, question, and even doubt. Of course, that led me here.

So how could I not have seen this coming? I have many friends who are very happy where they are. I am the one "shaking the boat" and it's causing a great uncomfortable feeling when I see them. I'm not sure if it's them or me ... but I know the name of the white elephant in the room: Atheism. I've also been in awkward group situations where one person is openly saying how much they've enjoyed my blog, loudly enough to be heard by many others who I know hold their respective religions very tightly. And they turn to look ... and I just don't know what they are thinking! I am so very uncomfortable because of course I assume it's something like: YOU did this! YOU started my friend down this path. YOU have diluted her faith ... etc. Also, I KNOW some people don't support my decision, and it just makes it so incredibly uncomfortable in group settings when someone wants to talk about my blog. I had not seen that coming!

Another difficulty is this: along this journey I have dedicated myself to the study of the Bible (not a study book ABOUT the Bible, or a sermon ON the Bible, but the Bible itself - front to back and beginning to end). I have also picked up a textbook on the origins of the NT. I've also begun researching physics to better understand the origins of the universe. My next step is to study logic, to better sharpen the one tool I have in this journey, my brain. This journey has led to the most intensive study I've done since college. Therefore I naturally have a lot of information on the subject. When I talk to friends who don't have as much information, I come across condescending. I'm not sure how to debate my friends who maybe have not read the same things I have, but I know that I'm losing some of them because of it. And this makes me sad.

Another difficulty: I'm confused, and honestly getting kind of annoyed ... I have followed many debates on Facebook, and there is an unmistakable trend: status update, followed by comment from well-meaning friend1 containing some sort of mis-information, followed by argument from well-meaning friend2 hoping to clear up mis-information but admittedly doing it in a blunt in-your-face manner, followed by well-meaning friend1 never rebutting original argument. In short: those arguing against a god are well-spoken and well-reasoned and well-cited and well-researched; those arguing for a god are "not interested in debating" or just "don't want to argue." But as Christians, shouldn't this be a huge priority??? Why are the atheists willing to put in more time than the Christians, who have much more to "sell" - like life eternal? I know that was one reason I started down this path. I thought well, what do I have to lose (or what am I afraid of?)? "Someone has to set these atheists straight!" But it's just not happening. I'm STILL waiting for the big KAPOW from some Christian somewhere, where we [atheists] all go, oh good, I was HOPING there was a God! But it just hasn't happened. I'm just confused and kinda annoyed at the lackadaisical attitude of the Theists as a whole. Or maybe I'm just seeing it wrong.

I didn't mean to end on a down note. I stopped blogging because the blog in general has caused some uncomfortable situations and some negative feelings and anxieties for me. I'm going to try to continue, because it is such an important topic and I know there are a lot of people out there who need to know that they are not alone, they are not crazy, and it's OK to be an atheist!

33 comments:

  1. I for one admire your courage to be so open about such a personal subject. I, of course, consider myself an athiest and feel very comforted that there are like minded people who aren't afraid to use logic and facts to question this popular belief (Christianity ) . I ask myself daily "how can seemingly logical people believe this crazy folklore". It baffles me. However, I cant bring myself to converse in public about it. I do find myself at any oppurtunity speaking about it with my husband and my closest friend and i cant get enough of the topic. I digress. Just wanted to say i admire your courage.

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    1. If you think about it, atheism is a belief as well. A belief based on something that, statistically, is far (faaaaaaar) less probable than existence of a deity. So 'crazy folklore' does appear to be more logical. A Christian can only envy the atheist's faith, the truly blind one. A very simple question has completely negated atheism for me: what would one have to DO, to be sure that God does not exist? I have yet to find the answer to it. If you have, please share.

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    2. Exactly Oleg! I'm with you. I'm technically an agnostic atheist, which means I do not KNOW either way (I believe there is not enough evidence to either prove or disprove a deity), but I'm leaning toward believing there is no god. From what you say here, you sound like an agnostic theist: there is not enough evidence to prove either way, but you lean toward believing in a deity.

      Atheism is a belief. :-) Here we can agree. I just think it is more reasonable to believe in no deity than in a high-flying superpower.

      No, I do not have an answer to: what would one have to DO to be sure that God does not exist? I would offer the opposite question: What would one have to DO to be sure that God does exist? There is no conclusive evidence either way. To this we can agree, yes?

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    3. "Well, how can we really know that there is no Thor in the storm clouds throwing lightning bolts? To believe there is no Thor is statistically faaaaar less probable than to think that Thor's hammer makes thunder go boom."

      Every explanation we've ever discovered for every observed phenomenon has been one of natural processes acting in predictable patterns without gods, the supernatural, or the metaphysical. Every single one. In all of history. That's not faith, blind or otherwise.

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    4. "If you think about it, atheism is a belief as well."

      No, it's not. Unambiguously. The theist says "There is a god". The atheist says "I don't believe you". "Don't believe" != "Believe".

      So no, unless you're willing to distort and spin what people are saying, it's not even remotely a belief.

      "A belief based on something that, statistically, is far (faaaaaaar) less probable than existence of a deity."

      Two points here - What is it you think we believe that is statistically unlikely? That we believe there is no god? That'd be a mischaracterization. That we "believe in" the Big Bang? It's supported by evidence, for one, and we buy into it limitedly because of the limit of evidence.

      Secondly, a god, or even anything supernatural, is absolutely unprecedented in terms of confirmable knowledge. Compare that to dogs, who you can find walking around just about anywhere. What do you think that says about the probability of something that is completely utterly unprecedented?

      It's been my observation that no argument for a god, in human history, has been made that does not utilize at least one logical fallacy. Ever. Typically it's arguments from ignorance, shifting the burden of proof, or sharpshooter fallacies.

      "what would one have to DO, to be sure that God does not exist?"

      See, there you go - shifting the burden of proof. The burden to demonstrate a claim is always on the person making the claim - ie theists claiming there is a god.

      We don't hold any faith because we aren't believing something without evidence. "We don't believe you" doesn't come with an evidentiary burden.

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    5. FYI - I'm a knockoff brand JT - not the other one

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    6. So Oleg, what exactly is the statistical probability of the existance of any kind of supernatural diety, and more specifically the supernatural diety described in the bible?

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    7. JT, that would be correct if someone argues that they just "don't believe".

      For those who argue "there is no God" as some of the leading atheist bloggers do, it IS a belief. Unambiguouosly.

      Moreover, if you have adopted a position that all existence, life, mind, and reason itself are the result of mindless processes, you have taken an indemonstrable, irrational, and Unfalsifiable...which means its not scientific...position.

      Moreover, if you hold to that Unfalsifiable position there is No Proof that you would accept for the existence of God.

      If you think there is, at least in Principle...and if you fully understand an argument you can address both sides of it and give such a theoretical example that would disconfirm your position...then present it and I will show that it is inconsistent with your Unfalsifiable position.

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    8. "For those who argue "there is no God" as some of the leading atheist bloggers do, it IS a belief. Unambiguouosly."

      Such as? I wouldn't doubt you could find an occasional strong atheists, but my observation is that the overwhelming majority of atheists don't hold that position.

      You see, we think that believing something without sufficient evidence is incredibly stupid. That includes trying to prove a negative. That's why the vast majority of us don't.

      "Moreover, if you have adopted a position that all existence, life, mind, and reason itself are the result of mindless processes, you have taken an indemonstrable, irrational, and Unfalsifiable...which means its not scientific...position."

      Incorrect. You're attacking a strawman again.

      For those parts that we accept, such as evolution, are supported by evidence. The rest is unknown at this time, and therefore not currently accepted. You should look up the null hypothesis.

      Please name one thing that I'm believing that's undemonstrable and unfalsifiable.

      "Moreover, if you hold to that Unfalsifiable position there is No Proof that you would accept for the existence of God."

      Incorrect.

      Whenever we get presented with this "god" thing, each person has a unique definition of what "god" exists. Most of these definitions, by their very nature, are unprovable. To ask me what it would take to prove an unprovable thing is silly.

      I don't know if there's evidence that could prove there's a God. I haven't seen any. All I've seen is pathetic attempts by people who wouldn't know the standards of evidence if it bit them in the ass. If you can meet the standards of evidence, that would be a start.

      All the gods humanity have invented over the thousands of years have been evolving from primitive objects, to creatures, to actual people, to non-coporeal entities that cannot be demonstrated in any way. A big driving force behind this change is because the earlier gods could be killed/destroyed. Now they can't. But now they can't be proven either.

      How do you prove infinite knowledge, for instance? By presenting me something that knows a lot? Well that could just be a sufficiently advanced alien species. Even if I'm willing to accept a 0.0001% demonstration of capacity, 0.0001% of infinity is still infinity.

      Demonstrating the existence of something that is real is actually very easy. I could do it with a coffee mug, radio waves, magnetism, or even demonstrating the existence of color to a color blind person.

      I'm sorry that you chose to defend a claim that's unprovable. That's not my problem.

      "If you think there is, at least in Principle...and if you fully understand an argument you can address both sides of it and give such a theoretical example that would disconfirm your position...then present it and I will show that it is inconsistent with your Unfalsifiable position."

      You're doing a lot of shifting of the burden of proof.

      My position is that the claim for these "god" things has yet to meet its burden of proof.

      You can't shirk your burden of proof by asserting that an unprovable thing exists and then claiming that the fact it can't be proved means I now magically have a burden to find a way disprove it, as though it's a problem with my position.

      That's dumb.

      I could make a very very long list of all kinds of things I can assert are true but can't be proven, and if you can't find ways to disprove them, you're being irrational, right? Does the irrationality accumulate for each example I come up with?

      Thanks for proving my point. No argumentation for the existence of a god, in the history of our species, has ever been made without utilizing at least one logical fallacy.

      In this case, you're making the common fallacy of shifting the burden of proof.

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    9. I'd point out that you've set up a no-win scenario.

      If I believe an unprovable thing without sufficient evidence, then I'm being irrational.

      If I cannot provide a way of proving an unprovable thing, I'm being irrational.

      If I cannot disprove an unfalsifiable thing, I'm being irrational.

      So apparently, no matter what, I'm being irrational.

      I'm sorry, but no, the fact I can't think of way to prove an unprovable thing and falsify an unfalsifiable thing, isn't a problem for me. It's a problem for you.

      You're the one asserting it's existence. It's your job.

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    10. That is so seriously one of the most brazenly convoluted examples of shifting of the burden of proof I've ever seen. It's awesome!

      I've added it to my todo list of arguments to do a full breakdown on my blog so that others can learn just how poor of an argument it is.

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    11. When you say you can't think of a way to prove an "unprovable" thing you have begged the question.

      And there are plenty of atheists who argue, bluntly, "there is no God". John Loftus states it outright in the last chapter of his hilarious book.

      As such, they have made a claim.

      And since you have made an assertion that it is "unprovable" therefore assuming at the outset what you are intending to show.

      But all I suggested was an an example that could...IN PRINCIPLE (i.e., theoretically convince you...a fulfilled Prophecy that could not be known any other way, a personal visitation, a miracle, whatever) convince you.

      You have admitted there is none.

      In other words, since you believe that existence can be explained by mindless processes, you believe something that is undemonstrable and unfalsifiable.

      I.E. you know that can't be shown, but you beleive it anyway.

      So..YEP...by your own vaunted standards you are being irraitonal.

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    12. "When you say you can't think of a way to prove an "unprovable" thing you have begged the question."

      Begged what question? That they're unprovable? Half the theists we talk to well tell us that their god definition can't be proved, on top of a simple analysis of the definition in question.

      "And there are plenty of atheists who argue, bluntly, "there is no God". John Loftus states it outright in the last chapter of his hilarious book."

      You're cherry picking. What percentage of self-proclaimed atheists do you think hold that position? Do you have a complete list of the "leading" bloggers and a confirmation that they hold that position? The vast majority that I know would give you an earful contrary to that assertion.

      "As such, they have made a claim."

      Sure, those select few people who have taken this unreasonable claim.

      "And since you have made an assertion that it is "unprovable" therefore assuming at the outset what you are intending to show."

      That what is unprovable? Do you not understand that there's more than one definition of "god"? Virtually every single person who believes has their own proprietary version.

      I'm talking about some specific definitions for which I've been presented. There's no assuming involved - it's an analysis of what they've defined.

      "But all I suggested was an an example that could...IN PRINCIPLE (i.e., theoretically convince you...a fulfilled Prophecy that could not be known any other way, a personal visitation, a miracle, whatever) convince you."

      Again, it depends on the definition. Most definitions are specifically designed to be unprovable and unfalsifiable.

      The problem with your examples of possible "proofs" is that they all are in stark violating of the basic standards of evidence - whether it's because they lack objectivity, or other possibilities haven't been excluded yet.

      "You have admitted there is none."

      Incorrect. I have said that I'm not aware of any, depending on the definition. It's possible that's simply due to a lack of imagination on my part.

      Your objection makes no sense unless we decide to pick a particular definition.

      Which sort of gets back to the basic premise of the problem here.

      As theists are claiming that something exists, it's up to them to:

      1) Take responsibility for their burden of proof.
      2) Give a good definition of what they are asserting that exists.
      3) Provide evidence that meets the standards of evidence until a sufficient case is built to be convincing.

      Until that point is reached, it is 100% rational to not believe them - no matter how many times you try to shift the burden of proof.

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    13. "In other words, since you believe that existence can be explained by mindless processes, you believe something that is undemonstrable and unfalsifiable."

      Incorrect. To this date, 100% of everything we have investigated has turned out to be natural causes. 0% has turned out to be supernatural. We can readily observe "mindless processes" from weather patterns to spontaneous formations of amino acids.

      The sheer quantity of evidence we've uncovered through the thousands of different mechanisms the universe operates on annihilates your assertion that it's undemonstrable.

      In fact, it's a pathetic attempt at special pleading to assert that it's anything BUT that, due to the preponderance of evidence. Since 100% of everything we've investigated has been "mindless" natural processes (outside of creatures with brains if you want to be pedantic), and 0% of anything we've investigated has been supernatural, it's just to be expected that the remaining items are going to be as well. That's evidence.

      Just like it'd be evidence if the sun rose 10,000,000 consecutive times, and we're evaluating whether it's going to rise tomorrow. It's established precedence that this is the pattern, and it'd be absurd to think it wouldn't continue at that point.

      As to it's unfalsifiability, it's not - all you have to do is demonstrate that these mechanisms are controlled by the man behind the curtain.

      One can start with a definition that isn't unprovable, but it's the imaginative theists who keep making up magical sky pixies through human history, and claiming that all million invented gods were true. They could probably think of something.

      "I.E. you know that can't be shown, but you beleive it anyway."

      The entirety of the body of scientific knowledge shows this statement to be immensely rediculous. Even the computer you are using is based on knowledge that we've gathered about "mindless processes" of reality.

      "So..YEP...by your own vaunted standards you are being irraitonal."

      This just one of the many harms of religion. It destroys a thinking mind to the point where saying "I don't believe you due to insufficient evidence, especially since the definition you provided me, as far as I can tell, isn't provable or falsifiable" is now magically irrational.

      It causes otherwise rational people to completely discard logic, epsitemology, the standards of evidence - the complete toolset that we have that actually is demonstrably effective at investigating reality - the same one that gave them computers and cell phones and mecidine and planes and so forth.

      It causes otherwise rational people to abandon anything and everything, whatever it takes, so that they can keep their emotional security blanket - no matter what the cost.

      It's truly sad.

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  2. I admire your courage as well. I can't imagine how you've coped with all the drama your public journey has inspired, but you've done it with amazing grace and courtesy. I've also been meaning to say that, wacky as it may sound, you should consider writing a book, or at least a lengthy article. Your subject matter seems to be getting a lot of press at the moment, but I haven't seen anything from a family-oriented perspective like yours. I personally have found your writing to be skillful, involving, and heartfelt. If you ever decide to go that route, I'd be glad to introduce you to my handful of friends with publishing connections. Love! Hope I can see you before I go to Japan.

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    1. This is Sally, BTW. Stupid Blogspot comments. >.<

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  3. Oleg: "A belief based on something that, statistically, is far (faaaaaaar) less probable than existence of a deity." What is it that you are referring to? Atheism (strong form) means that you believe it's more likely that there are no gods than that there's any god, or, as it's often been used historically, means that you reject the most commonly believed gods of the culture you were raised in. The latter form in particular is far, far more likely than that any particular claimed god exists (since most of them are logically inconsistent with each other).

    Atheism doesn't mean *certainty*. It means you think the "no gods" position is more likely than not. There are lots of arguments supporting that position, and in particular you might be interested in this case--Jeff Lowder's "Is a Sound Argument for the Nonexistence of a God Even Possible?", online at: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jeff_lowder/ipnegep.html

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  4. Everything you said resonated with me. I have experienced a very similar range of emotions on my journey from evangelical to atheist. I applaud you for your willingness to look reality squarely in the eye, and if those close to you find your genuineness a challenge then I suggest that says more about them than it does about you.

    All the best. May the light of reason shine ever brighter in you.

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  5. Although I went from fundie Christian to pagan to atheist, I did so far away from home because I was in the military. (Albeit in North Carolina, and I was part of a tiny minority of nonChristians in my unit.) I've never been shy or concerned about others' opinions, though, so it hasn't caused much problem for me, and the friends whom I have lost would have eventually been shed anyways because, ten years out of high school, we have so little in common. But, as an atheist Texan who is part of a pretty religious family (albeit one that does not vocally mind me), I'm sorry it's so hard for you. The best of luck to you. I promise it gets better; I, at least, feel as if truth is its own reward, because it means that the joy that you take out of life is from things that are real. You can't trade anything for that.

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  6. You're right. You're not alone, you're not crazy, and it's OK to be an atheist! Are you still the same wonderful, loving, smart, generous person you were when you believed in jesus ? Yes! Maybe even better.

    You're not diluting their faith. If your open existence as a person who is good without god is enough to shake their faith, then they weren't firmly justified in their beliefs to begin with. It's not your blogging which is the cause of the problem.

    Hang in there. Keep writing, if you like. I was introduced to your blog by JT (freethoughtblogs) and I appreciate what you've written so far.

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  7. It must be very difficult when one's erstwhile friends and acquaintances flip and start judging. But really, they're the ones with the problem. I think it behoves us to keep our lines of communication open, to emphasize that we are not the party closing down a relationship simply because we no longer believe the same things. In the grand view of things, it's such a small matter, but it does indeed cause pain. I hope you are realizing how much support is there for you and that, far from being in a minority, you are quite definitely not alone!

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  8. Try not to let the religious get to you. I have a theory that those who are most upset by you simply being an atheist are those with the most, probably un-admitted, doubt. A person with truly strong belief will not be upset by your belief. Your existence challenges them and it makes them uncomfortable and they don't want to face their doubt.

    I can't remember who it was but in an article by a philosopher who was once a believer this summed it up for me. "If you asked me years ago if I believed in God I would have said yes. Not because I had thought about it but because I hadn't."

    Fear is a huge driving force behind religion. Pascal spoke about that fear when he proposed his wager.

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  9. I'm horribly going to paraphrase here, and it may not be entirely accurate, but you can go ahead and consider it a parable if you want, to get the point.

    Back in the days of Roman civilization, the people who lived in these cities wore clothing that represented their status in society. The higher tier you were, the more elaborate your clothing. Peasants had more regular clothing.

    There was one exception - the slaves. On many occasions, the governing bodies were debating about whether to have the slaves wear slave clothing. At the time, they were wearing clothing indistinguishable from the peasants or higher. The idea of giving the slaves their own type of clothing was repeatedly rejected.

    Why?

    They were worried that, if the slave wore their own type of clothing, they'd begin to recognize one another - they'd soon realize just how large their numbers were. The society had it in their best interests to obfuscate their numbers so the slaves would always feel outnumbered, and less likely to start a rebellion.

    Up until now, atheists have been a similar situation (minus the slave bit). We've been disconnected, disassociated, and almost entirely ignorant of each others' presence.

    That's changing. Thanks to the internet, we're finding each other. We're making connections. We're organizing. This may in fact be the dawn of a new era.

    There's a community here for you. We were always here - like a scattered puzzle - that's now almost totally snapped together.

    If anyone you know can't handle your new world view - screw them - we've got your back.

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  10. I concur with the majority of the comments made so far. Do not let other people's insecurities about their own beliefs deter you from being open about your own. This is their problem, not yours. Think about it for a second, what are these people trying really saying when making you uncomfortable? They're saying that your very existence is offensive to them. With all due respect, fuck them. As has already been pointed out if something as simple as another human being openly expressing their opinion on a subject in a polite and respectful manner, which is all you're doing, is enough to make other people uncomfortable enough to project that on to you then it's they that have the problem. If people are unwilling to accept you as you are then they are not really your friends and you would truly be better off without them in your life. That seems harsh I know but in my experience it's the truth. Trying to make other people happy at the expense of your own happiness only leads to one thing, the subjugation of self and with it the loss of any possible happiness. Be proud of who you are and unashamed of expressing your opinion, especially when it's an educated and informed one.

    Which leads me to what you said about being afraid of coming across as elitist and condescending. Don't be. This is another classic example of transference. People are embarrassed that they haven't done the hard work and research to justify a particular belief that they hold so it's a common tactic when debating this belief with someone who obviously has done the work to try and discredit or embarrass them by labeling them as "elitist" or "snobbish" or whatever. Never be ashamed of the honest hard work you have put in. Not only has it been hard in terms of hours spent but it took genuine moral courage to even begin the process in an honest manner from the position in which you started. You are completely entitled to be very proud of this. If you are worried about coming across as condescending then I'd just say to always stick to the issue which is being discussed and never resort to personal insults but you don't come across as the type to do this anyway. If people choose to interpret you stating facts as being condescending then, again, that is their problem and a very common defence mechanism. Keep doing what you're doing and drawing support from wherever you can, whether it be from your husband or here.

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  11. In short: those arguing against a god are well-spoken and well-reasoned and well-cited and well-researched; those arguing for a god are "not interested in debating" or just "don't want to argue." But as Christians, shouldn't this be a huge priority???

    This *actually* made me laugh. Not in the 'LOL' reinforce I-sort-of-smirked-just-now sense. I mean actual laughter where my diaphragm tensed up and contracted repeatedly without my conscious intent. ^_^

    Have you come across any 'sophisticated' theists yet?

    If not, here's what you've got to look forward to:

    Eventually, a theist will come along that suddenly seems to tick all the boxes. They'll have lots of references and be well spoken. They'll use very different language and have a different tone to most atheists of course - but that's to be expected.

    The sophisticated theist will drop some large words ('ontology' is a favorite for some reason) and summarize a couple of traditional arguments in support of God (first cause is a favorite). Then they'll conclude God's existence... But they won't show all their working, the full chain of reasoning to get from A to B. They'll just assert that the full argument is a bit heavy, but if you do want the full thing then by all means go read a book or a website article by this theologian and that theologian and also this other philosopher.

    Then you do something that surprizes them: You actually follow up their references and see what the full argument actually is.

    What you'll find is that the sophisticated theologians to which the sophisticated theist has referred you are, pardon my language, full of shit.

    There's usually overt logical problems with their arguments. Most common to my eyes is assuming that God exists in order to prove that God exists.

    There's also often gaping holes in the arguments as well. Considering the first cause argument: Even if we were to accept that there must be a first cause for the sake of argument, that doesn't get you to Jesus being born of a virgin and rising from the dead - so a christian theologian who justifies their faith with the first cause argument has left a lot of work undone.

    So you go back to your sophisticated theistic commenter, and bring them these complaints with their references... They'll be less than entirely happy.

    Eventually the attitude reveals itself: Look, I just gave you a really nice sounding excuse to start believing again. Why did you have to go considering it critically? Why are you so ungrateful? You must really be dogmatically dedicated to your hatred and anger towards God to have actually gone and read an argument for God's existence critically. I mean, I used the word 'ontology' over and over again and everything! Using big words and providing an excuse to believe what a good argument about God is all about, and if a good argument isn't good enough for you, then you must just be closed minded!

    Oh, how they dodge and weave and writhe and twist in the wind!

    If this hasn't come up yet, it will eventually. So don't be too disappointed if the seemingly sophisticated theistic commenters you come across don't live up to the expectations they would very much like to set for you. Point out a few problems with their arguments, and suddenly they'll be "not interested in debating" or just "don't want to argue", just like the rest.

    Their sophistication only goes skin-deep. It's really just sophstrycation that can't stand up to even the most casual scrutiny.

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    1. On a slightly less prophetic note: If you're interested in reading up on physics, I found Lawrence Krauss to be an excellent source of information.

      Two really good books by Krauss are Fear of Physics and Atom. I'm currently half way through Universe From Nothing. It's good, but not as good as the other two.

      Also give Dawkin's The Selfish Gene (TSG) a try if you're interested in biology. Dawkins-on-atheism is good, but Dawkins-on-biology is great.

      TSG is in my top three non-fictional titles, along with Krauss' Atom and Pinker's The Blank Slate are the other two.

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    2. http://catenary.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/then-a-miracle-occurs-cartoon.png

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    3. Actually, if you think the Big Bang explains the origins of the universe you may be unaware that the "laws" of Physics break down at that point.

      No Physicist knows what the "Big Bang"...originally a term of derision for the idea...actually was.

      And even Stephen Hawking...in his last rambling book (The Grand Design)where he says that "philosophy is dead" as he proceeds to philosophize...has apparently given up on a Theory of Everything.

      Dawkins? He hasn't done science for years; he is now a propagandist.

      And so it goes.

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    4. @Morrison - your point?

      big bang - just because we dont currently know what happened before inflation took over doesn't mean we wont ever know - bumble bees defied the known laws of aerodynamics until we were able to study them properly and advance our understanding of aerodynamics. There are various hypotheses for what happened at the big bang, and eventually our understanding of the laws of physics will account for it.

      Dawkins has already done more science than you could do in multiple lifetimes. he has nothing to prove.

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    5. So Morrison just decided to add ad hominems on his list of logical fallacies. Got it.

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  12. Hi Michele,

    I am a reader of JT's blog, and have followed your plight from there. I just wanted to let you know that you're both incredibly strong and immensely brave. What's almost harder than distancing yourself from a belief system is separating yourself from a support system, particularly when you have kids. Having the strength to do that says volumes about your character, and I for one am very impressed. It's easy to be an atheist amongst atheists - being an atheist surrounded by theists is challenging at the best of times, and you're doing a fantastic job.

    Keep your chin up, and keep studying! I am in awe of your dedication to better understanding this decision and why it is logical and sound. Good for you and good for your family.

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  13. I came via JT's blog too. I found your story sad because of the difficulties you've faced, but uplifting too because of your honest attitude.

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  14. Since you're looking to understand your brain, I'd recommend cognitive neuroscience over logic. Here's a "quick" summary of the field:

    http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=13607

    A good book on the subject is "Rationality and the Reflective Mind" by Keith Stanovich.

    http://www.amazon.com/Rationality-Reflective-Mind-Keith-Stanovich/dp/0195341147/

    And here's a recent textbook (one of the best ways to learn quickly on your own):

    http://www.amazon.com/Handbook-Thinking-Reasoning-Library-Psychology/dp/0199734682/

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