Monday, February 19, 2007

Anonymous Strikes Again!

It's as if Anonymous hasn't read the rest of this blog at all. I'm going to respond here to his latest nonsensical comment.

He begins:

Besides arguing with someone whose best defense is "I'm right and you're wrong"
isn't really much of a debate.

I couldn't agree more. When are you going to stop using that defense, then? After all, I've written over 250 articles on this blog and you have yet to actually refute a single argument I have made. Methinks he doth protest too much.

You still can't disprove the existence of God any more than you can prove the
big bang (it remains even when taught in school, a theory).

I'll take theist canards for $500, Alex! For the umpteenth time, the one making the claim is the one who must provide evidence for the claim. I can't disprove the existence of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or a teapot in orbit around Mars, but I can safely discount that any of these things exist until sufficient evidence is presented. Note I did not say "proof." Proofs exist only in mathematics. In science, everything is provisional.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Until and unless anonymous can offer some extraordinary evidence for his extraordinary claim that a magic man lives in the sky and that his son will save me from sins that my ancestors committed, I will continue to discount his claim. Until and unless some extraordinary evidence is offered, Anonymous is simply offering no more to support his claim than, "I'm right and you're wrong." I'm not the one making a claim here. I am simply applying the same rational filter to his claim as I do to all others, and rejecting those claims with insufficient evidence.

As it was once said, "It's important to keep an open mind, but no so open your brains fall out."

In regards to the Big Bang, there is vastly more corroborated, valid evidence of the Big Bang than of any supernatural forces or entities including the Christian God. It is true that we will never be able to "prove" the Big Bang without a time machine, but we can collect sufficient evidence to make it reasonable to believe such a thing happened. The evidence is commensurate with the claim in the case of the Big Bang, unlike the claims made by theists.

Also, let me remind my readers that a "theory" is the highest state of knowledge in science. Theories do not graduate to become facts. Anonymous is attempting, as theists often do, that theories are somehow lacking compared to the facts and truth they hold. Wrong.

I believe in the big bang by the way, I just think there was more to it than a
random interaction of atoms and plasma. My little degree in physics is worth
something after all.

Here, we have it all. Passive-aggression, Argument by Authority, and bad science to boot. First off, I think Anonymous might want to get his money back on that "little" physics degree. There was no "interaction of atoms and plasma" involved with the Big Bang, my friend. Atoms and plasma didn't exist until after Big Bang occurred. And whether or not the "interactions" that caused the Big Bang were random or not has yet to be determined.

I've got to tell you and your buddies that if you view Pat Robertson and Jerry
Falwell as the pinnacles of Christian teaching, you are booing the wrong team.
They certainly don't represent the morals and beliefs I have any more than Osama
bin Laden represents the values of mainstream Islam. Every religion has it's
share of kooks, and I think that is mainly due to the man becoming larger in his
own mind than the belief which drives him. We call that fanaticism.

I don't really view anyone as the "pinnacle" of Christian teaching. But they are symptomatic of what can happen when one accepts irrational beliefs. They are Christians and they do represent the beliefs of millions of Americans. They are symptomatic of the perils of irrational belief, and I hold them up as such. If Christians don't like what Falwell and Robertson represent, they have to clean their own house. That's not my job as an outsider and critic, nor is it my job to try to tell the "good" Christians from the "bad" ones. All Christians hold irrational beliefs, and it is in a breeding ground that encourages those kinds of beliefs that Falwell and Robertson have sprung.

And, in any case, I think mainstream Christians are pretty fanatical too. States have been passing amendments banning gay marriage right and left, generally by huge margins, and on what basis do those voting think they should deny civil rights -- rights they themselves enjoy --to others?

The answer, overwhelmingly, is because of religious objections. And the vast majority of those voters are Christians. And when Christians start legislating their morality into law, especially in regards to denying freedom to others, that makes them religious fanatics in my eyes, so I have little sympathy for Anonymous on this count.

One thing I cannot figure out is why we cannot be anti-semitic, we can't be
anti-gay, and we musn't be racist nor can we offend any religion save one. Why
is it okay to mock my God and call Christians idiots and write all sorts of
drivel about them when we can't do all of these other things? My short answer is
that we're right and just ticks everybody else off.

How wonderfully self-serving. Of course it's how right Christians are that ticks everyone else off. Oh, wait. Then why do atheists and Muslims tick American Christians off so much?

Now, for a little lesson. Anti-Semitism isn't the same as being opposed to Christianity because Judaism is a religion and a race. Anti-Semitism isn't about whether the central tenets of the Jewish religion -- that Yahweh, the God of the Torah, is the one true God -- are true or not. It's about thinking that the Jews are an evil, conniving, backstabbing, money-grubbing race out destroy Gentile society and culture and take over the world. It's a whole other pile of beans.

Criticizing Christianity and saying that the Jews are vermin to be wiped out are two very different things and they are not at all comparable.

Further, victims of racism, anti-gay bigotry, and anti-Semitism have one thing in common: they are all minorities being terrorized by the power-wielding majority. Christians are the majority. They are the ones in power. Christians are governors in all 50 US states, are the majority in all 50 US state legislatures, are the majority in Congress and the US Supreme Court, and hold the Presidency. They are the ones trying to legislate their morality into law, they are the ones trying to tear down the separation of church and state, and they are the ones who want their religion to be supported by government over all others. And then they still have the gall to complain, as Anonymous does here! The persecution complex some Christians have developed despite overwhelmingly having the power in the US is quite amazing.

In a democracy (really, a republic), it is important for minorities to be free to criticize the majority, to criticize those in power. Jews, racial minorities, and gays aren't the ones in power, and racists, anti-gay bigots, and anti-Semites aren't criticizing the dominant power structure to keep in check and protect their own rights: they're picking on those weaker than themselves.

Also, I would point out that criticizing Christianity is criticizing some beliefs some people hold, but, once again, since race and sexual orientation aren't choices but are inherent, it's the difference between criticizing someone's beliefs and criticizing them. I criticize Christians and Christianity because their irrational beliefs make them do crazy things. But it's not what Jews, racial minorities, and gays do that draws the criticism of bigots: it's what they are.

But unlike Islam or Judaism or even the reincarnation cycles of Taoism and
Buddhism there is no human act which can bring us closer to God save faith in
Jesus Christ.

Am I right? Well I don't know, ask me when I'm dead. I'll have to
get back to you on that one.

If you don't know, then you shouldn't believe it. If the only way for me to know is to ask a dead person, well, that's pretty much an unprovable claim, isn't it? It's pretty convenient to set a claim up there way, so that you always have a reason not to present any evidence.

My only beef with you is to blatantly call my belief phony when you've never
experienced it. That's just kind of insulting and deserves a response. That's
the only reason I'm here.

No, I didn't every call your belief "phony." I take your word that you sincerely believe. But wishing something is true doesn't make it true. Just because you believe in something doesn't mean a damn thing about whether it is true or not. Unless you can provide me some extraordinary evidence to back up your extraordinary claim, I have no reason to accept it.

And I don't need to experience your "belief" to know that the claims you are making, base don those beliefs, are almost certainly wrong. I don't have to try crawl inside the experience of every UFO nut, Muslim extremist, neo-Pagan, New Ager, Branch Davidian, Heaven's Gate cultist, Moonie, Jehovah's Witness, Scientologist, or Christian Scientist to discount their claims either. Either their claims have objective evidence that gives me a reason to accept them, or at least look into them further, or they don't. They don't. And neither do yours.

I did call your belief "irrational," however. It is irrational to believe any claim in the absence of sufficient evidence, and thus your beliefs qualify until and unless you can support them.

Did you do what I asked? Did you genuinely ask God to focus on one thing in your
life and change it for you? Probably not because that's just stupid isn't it?
You see, it's easy to discount what you've never tried. You can even start a
prayer with "This is lame but I'm doing it for science." Approach it as
empirical research. But don't knock it till you've tried it. That's all I ask.
If you don't it changes nothing, you still don't know what you're talking about
because you've never done it yourself.

No, I haven't, and I wrote an entire article on why your request is ludicrous. Did you read it? Further, I doubt that you have "tried" all the other kooky religions, such as the ones I mentioned earlier, before "knocking" them. Because, from the standpoint of a rational outsider, your religion is no more or less likely to be tre than any of theirs. So, tell you what. Send me a picture of yourself with Reverend Moon and Tom Cruise and then maybe we'll talk.

It might take the rest of your life, but I promise you that something will
change for you.

I suppose it's possible that if I spent the rest of my life trying to brainwash myself into believing things irrationally, I could, and then something would "change" for me. Why, exactly, would I want to do that? I have no more desire to delude myself with your superstitions than I do anyone else's.

God understands doubt and He wants to change it. Denial is another story.

If He wanted to change my doubt, He could do it any time He wanted. He's supposed to omnipotent, right? He could send an angel down to me like he did for Paul or take me up to Heaven like Elijah. Or He could just make it so.

If, on the other hand, He doesn't exist, then He couldn't rid me of my doubt. And I'm not rid of it.

And before you start up with all the, "you have to want to believe" and "God won't force you" and "free will" bullshit, don't bother. It's bullshit. All those arguments are transparent for what they really are: backwards justifications for why things are the way thay are despite your omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent sky fairy. Those arguments make your case worse, not better, and if you go into them, I will dismantle them one by and one and show you how and why they fail.

I'd have more tolerance and respect for you if you believed in anything other
than I'm just a stupid kook with no proof.

Well, I'm not going to abandon reason and start believing in fairy tales to earn your respect or tolerance, so if you were hoping, you can stop.

Are you just a complex chain of proteins and molecules or are you something

Just a complex chain of proteins? A pretty amazing, self-aware chain of proteins, thank you very much. Why do I have to be more? And further, even if I wanted to be more, wanting it wouldn't make it true. (Argument from Negative Consequences again).

Oh and if you think Christianity is a magic religion that bestows sugar and love
on you after you believe apparently you haven't read the bible at all or you
would realize that Paul wrote most of his letters from prison and that most of
the remaining disciples were hunted down and imprisoned or killed for their
beliefs. Magic Fun Always Happy Christians? Never heard of one. You let me know
when you find one. God never promises anyone a bowl of cherries. In fact, Jesus
Himself promised adversity for belief in Him.

...and that should make we want to become a Christian why? Those seem like pretty powerful arguments not to adopt your beliefs. They are also more backwards rationalizations for why your God, despite his immense power, doesn't actually ever do anything. And, further, either your God can't deliver a "bowl of cherries," in which case he's not much of a god anyway, or else he chooses not to, in which case he's a sadistic madman. Take your pick.

You have once again failed to engage any of my arguments with anything resembling a coherent response. Arguments from personal experience seem to be pretty much all you have in your arsenal, and they are unconvincing. Please try to come up with something a little better before you post again.


At 6:34 AM, Blogger R. Paul Wiegand said...

It is too bad that Anon has chosen to feel insulted by my earlier flippancy. My remarks were meant to bring levity, not insult. I can understand [his|her] feeling defensive, though -- no one likes to be ganged-up on. I'm hoping to raise the level of abstraction of the conversation with this, unfortunately lengthy, post.

From my perspective, I am hopefull we've not run Anon off completely. Without Anon there's a whole preaching-to-the-choir thing going on on Markiarchy. I tend to think that diverse views make for better learning and more interesting conversation.

The truth is that, unlike Mark, I've a lot of respect for people's spiritual beliefs. I don't understand them, but I don't understand a lot of things. I don't believe they are rational, but I'm not entirely rational about all things either ... and I think a careful and thorough understanding of what most Christian's call "Faith" would admit willingly that it is not based on reason. That is, properly viewed, that assessment doesn't have to be received as an insult (regardless of how it is intended).

I am a judgmental fellow, but I judge people's actions and words, not so much their beliefs. My complaint with a lot of traditional American Christian behavior is that it is often arrogantly inculcates their values into other people's lives. This happens often in a variety of ways in our Christian nation, and it is particularly frustrating to those of us who do not believe. I sympathize with Markiarchy's message (though I do not always agree on the way it is expressed) because I also feel very marginalized by the Christian majority in this country ... and because my respect of Christian spiritual beliefs is profoundly asymmetrical. This asymmetry and marginalization has led to a certain amount of animosity and defensiveness on my part. If I acerbic from time to time, it is because of that, and I apologize.

The science/education debate on which Markiarchy often concentrates is a good example of my point: More dogmatic Christians assert that "secularists" are pushing their beliefs on students, but this view is an arrogant one. To claim that suggesting that the most scientifically accepted understanding of our natural world (big-bang, abiogensis, evolution, etc.) be taught in a science class is "pushing secular views" is clearly and demonstrably absurd. The religious views of scientists are many and varied, but the concensus on these issues (in science) is quite clear.

But one needn't even open up the evidentiary bag to show that this "secularism agenda" view is an unreasonable one. Whether scientists believed the world was created by a giant squid, or that we evolved from monkey-ghost protoplasm, it would not matter: Scientists should decide what is discussed in a science class. The solution (as a culture), if we believe that scientists are so crazy as to be espousing nonsensical ideas, is to eliminate science from our classrooms. The fact that we aren't even discussing that is a testamony to the power of the process and knowledge of science. Unlike most religions, science is fully transparent. Nearly all accepted scientific knowledge is publically accessible, peer-reviewed, and replicated. The process of science is well-known and well-studied.

In fact, science is not a "secular view"; it is a process and a body of knolwedge arrived at by that process ... nothing more, nothing less. It has no agenda; it seeks to convert no one. You may do what you will with the knolwedge and the process. In science, there is no investment in your beliefs one way or the other. It is this notion of "investment" that I want to discuss in this post.

Religions, on the other hand, for better or naught, always have an agenda ... and most popular modern relgions have a strong proselytory bend (Christianity in particular). I cannot see how anyone can respect anyone else's belief when they are emotionally invested in converting you to their way of thinking. This is particularly true when the person is recalcitrant regarding their own views.

Mark would like the world to give up theistic beliefs (and is firmly grounded in his own beliefs), but he doesn't respect religious beliefs ... so his position is not inconsistent.

I do not wish to convert anyone to any belief, though I am very comfortable with my own. So while I do not share Anon's beliefs, I do not resent those beliefs either ... so my position is also consistent.

Anon would like to convert us to his beliefs ... is clearly quite decided in his own positions, but would simultaneously like us to believe [s]he respects our beliefs. I do not see how this is possible. This is clearly inconsistent. What's worse ... what is actually insulting ... is [his|her] assumption that if we do not believe likewise, we must not be giving a serious attempt to understand or embrace those views... we must not be open minded. Something about a plank and an eye comes to mind, but I'll let it pass.

That long-winded diatribe was meant to introduce two key issues that have been bothering me about our exchanges. Both have to do with this idea of being emotionally invested in belief.

1.) Why is it so important for some to believe that an earnest seeker will find God? Not all deeply spiritual Christians have this view, and I am not certain the bible is consistent about the question (e.g., "No one can know me unless drawn by the Father.")

There's the obvious answer, the position I assume Mark will take: It is a unconscious attempt to validate one's own belief. Partly -- but there must be more to it than that. After all, nearly all Americans claim they believe in some kind of supernatural [Gg]od(s), and the vast majority of them are Christian. If someone needs their belief affirmed by having others believe, I would guess being Christian would be pretty darn affirming already.

Moreover, there is this confusing use of the word "hope" that keeps knawing at me. I think this is a perfect example of how we are just seeing things from a very different perspective. What seems like false dichotomy to us (and, in fact, logically is) is almost certainly integrally the point for Anon.

I hope Anon will weigh in on this; however, I will try to make an honest effort to replicate what I believe Anon meant: Without hope, you cannot actually make an honest effort to reach out to God because the reaching is, in fact, a display of hope. In essence, tautological though it is, the view (as I understand it) is that you professing of your lack of belief is a de facto admission of hopelessness ... a fundamental and pervasive notion of "H"opelessness ... not (simply) about salvation and eternal life, but about life, people, the world, relationships, etc. Faith and hope are inextricably linked in that way.

Our interpretations, then, of Anon's use of the word "hope" were much too narrow and specific for [his|her] belief structure. Anon uses "Hope" in a confusing directionless way, and we use the word to apply to specific issues (I am "hopeful" of finding a job; I have little "hope" that there will be peace in the middle east any time soon; etc.) Since I have no beliefs in the supernatural at all, I can have no hope or hopelessness attached to it. The question of "hope" makes no sense to me (nor to Mark, I wager); I am simply uninvested.

For us to better understand Anon, we need to understand the object of "H"ope that is being described. "H"ope about what, precisely? Anon could posit several options here (after-life & salvation, inner peace, etc.), but once [s]he gets specific there's a sticky-wicket because we can only have hope/hopelessness attached to those specific items when we are emotionally invested in them to begin with. Since I have no belief regarding he after-life, I am neither hopeful nor hopeless ... I've, in fact, no emotional relationship with the issue at all.

2.) The other issue I can't seem to shake is the implication that Mark already believes. Anon writes: "You're not an atheist, you're lost." I reacted to this phrase because I was offended by Anon's attempt to control the language of someone else's belief ... but there's a deeper difference here that I'm missing, I think.

[As an aside, I recall having had my own language of my beliefs attacked by a certain nameless atheist in the not-so-distant past (Mark) ... perhaps a discussion of the distinction between "negative atheism" and "emirical agnosticism" should make its way on the the blog some day.]

Why does Anon claim that Mark is not an atheist? [Sh|H]e could have written: "You're not simply an atheist ..." or something along those lines.

The obvious answer is that Anon believes you already believe in God, you just wont let yourself aknowledge this belief. Without getting into the arrogance of this view (Anon knows what Mark believes better than he does?), I want to examine the semantics.

What is a "belief" then, if one can hold it but not acknowledge it? Presumably Anon does not mean to confound "belief" and "truth" ... though such a conflagration would certainly resolve my semantic problem. Perhaps the following is meant: "It's not that the Truth is not available to you, it is that you lack the (vague/general) 'H'ope to pursue it."

But belief is clearly not truth. For example, we can believe things about which there is no objective truth (e.g., I believe sky-blue is an ugly color). Moreover, I can hold beliefs about factual items, and those beliefs may be consistent or inconsistent with those fact; however, regardless of its consistency, it is not (itself) truth but a position about what the truth might be (irrespective about how certain the belief holder is, of course).

[Of course the conversation becomes more cumbersome if one is an epistemological relativist ... which, actually, I am ... but let's not go there.]

I guess Anon could agree with that. It seems an obvious and non-confrontational semantic philosophy.

So, then, "belief" refers to a model one has about the world, parts of which deal with what is potentially objective fact and parts of which deal with subjective observations that help with discernment (sky-blue is ugly). If so: How can one hold a belief, but not acknowledge it? Is that akin to having a model airplane in your closet that you deny exists at all? I don't even understand what that means, really.

I could suppose two contradicory models, but not believe in both. Belief implies an investment in the veracity of the factual elements of the model. Hence "supposition" and "belief" are very different things. I could operate according to a supposition irrespective of belief, of course ... and I guess this is what Anon is getting at.

If I am unpacking the view correctly, Anon is suggesting that we each have a suppositional model that a creating and redeeming God exists, we simply lack the will (because we lack 'H'ope) to emotionally invest (believe) in that model.

The problem with that view (from my perspective) is that it presupposes that such a model is at all helpful in understanding and navigating the world or, at least, that it is comforting. I've no doubt it is so for Anon ... which is great. For me it is a particularly bad explanatory model (in fact, it seems to intentionally avoid explanation), and I find it neither comforting nor discomforting. From my perspective, it is simply a counter-intuitive and a poorly descriptive (and predictive) model. I am perfectly willing to entertain it provisionally as an intellectual exercise, but it is insufficient for the purposes belief (for me).

It would be nice to see Anon clarify these remarks in, I hope, a less hostile setting. In the future, I'll try to keep my replies as neutral as possible. Of course, you can reasonably expect something more biting from Mark ... but, then, it's his blog. 8^)

At 12:32 PM, Blogger mooglar said...

>>[As an aside, I recall having had my own language of my beliefs attacked by a certain nameless atheist in the not-so-distant past (Mark) ... perhaps a discussion of the distinction between "negative atheism" and "emirical agnosticism" should make its way on the the blog some day.]<<

I just happened to be thinking about this yesterday, coincidentally.

I was wrong to tell you that you are really an atheist.

I think the difference between "empirical agnosticism" and "negative atheism" is trivial, but that doesn't mean you do, and further, even if you did, it doesn't mean you have to choose "atheist" over "agnostic."

Mea culpa.

At 11:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I appreciate R. Paul's comments because I do respect other points of view with LOGICAL argument. Debate is what makes society work. Unfortunately, it took Markiarchy a whole page of arguing with himself (I wasn't here) to boost his self-esteem after I simply asked him to take me at my word and TRY what I suggested. I will attend any religious rite or event that I'm invited to, whether we're worshiping God, Shaitan, Vishna, and so on. It may not change my mind, but I don't call anyone's religion a magic sky god. That's so stupid and a trifle immature, are you that lonely Markiarchy? I invite traveling Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses to come to my home, but I find more often that not that after I've stated my belief they no longer wish to stay and chat. Basically, Markiarchy can't see or hear around the incessant clanging of his steel gonads to have a decent conversation. All of his arguments point back to one deniable, oft-debated, and flatly wrong fact: That Markiarchy is the center of his own universe and anyone who has a different point of view is stupid or a troll, or small-minded. The list goes on and on. Point being, well what is your point anyway Markiarchy?

Question everything, but stop shouting down my answers. Markiarchy reminds me of the kid in the corner who wants everyone to listen to his little squeak but he's so impressed with it himself so why should we bother. You're right and I'm wrong, henceforth I'm a Markiarchist. The main tenet is that Markiarchy is perfect in every good work and only his thoughts are correct on all aspects of my life. Now if I could get him to mow my lawn and do my taxes I wouldn't have to lift a finger.

I think C.S. Lewis said it best and I'm paraphrasing here before Markiarchy dissects my paragraphs AGAIN. We must either accept that Jesus was 1) Exactly what he said he was or 2) Either a madman or an idiot. However with his highly charged rhetoric, we aren't left with thinking him merely a good teacher. His teaching was so radical that the this viewpoint would be irrelevant. I might have gotten that wrong, but pick up a copy of Mere Christianity. Markiarchy's afraid to read it, because he would lose an argument with a dead guy. Well that makes two because he fights with Jesus too. Unlike Markiarchy, who labors in obscurity, but thrives on self-adulation C.S. Lewis was an accomplished scholar and a one-time atheist who logically convinced himself that there was no other alternative save Christ. R. Paul, you may not come to his conclusion but at least you'll give it a chance and that's all I ask. Oh and by the way, Markiarchy does believe in God, or he wouldn't waste so much time arguing against nothing. In the words of the Bible there is hope for those who believe, in Markiarchy's world view I guess where all destined for worm food. That's the hope I speak of, that this life and the moral code we choose was for something other than the moment. Sad isn't it? I don't expect you to believe EXACTLY what I believe, but you don't ask questions you only provide hollow self-centered answers and frankly what gives you the right? I might get my magic sky god to smite you. So tell me why I should be a Markiarchist, what benefits does your religion offer? Give me a list of the pros and cons of following you and I'll consider it. You've obviously put a lot of thought into it, so I'll consider it. You like to poke a lot of holes in my religion, which you clearly have no understanding of. Show me yours. Or you could just write another post dissecting everything I say. It might get you more readers. Now to answer the silly little arguments directly.

Even Christopher Reeve and you libs loved trotting him out at conventions, who was an avowed non-believer had a basic philosophy of "when I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad." Simple but effective. Markiarchy, I don't even get that from you. You're mainly a braggart who believes his own hype to the extent that any other belief just couldn't be right because you're so damn smart. I'm going to hedge my bets and go with God on this one okay? You just haven't convinced me that you're bigger than him yet. Your arguments are just too charged with Me-ness to sway me.

Atoms and plasma, you know what I meant. Of course, I guess you were there when the big bang happened too. How's that Cold Fusion paper coming? Yes that's a cut on you, but you probably don't know what the hell you're talking about when it comes to physics beyond the discovery channel so I'm giving you a pass here. Enjoy your moment.

The fact that I don't know what happens we leave this mortal coil and yet still believe that God is there is why it's called faith. You might want to look that one up.

Yes we as Christians are persecuted. Why can't our children pray in school? If a Muslim child, and I'm not singling them out I'm using a different religion as an example so don't get uptight on me here, were to be barred from praying it would hit the news like something else hits the fan. We'd hear outrage, but every year Christmas displays are disallowed in schools, Christian prayer is banned and stores aren't allowed to say Merry Christmas when I shop there. Why else would I be in there with all that wrapping paper in my buggy? We call it Winter Break and let's face it there's only one reason everybody gets a day off in December and it's not Eid.

As far as brainwashing goes, you've already convinced yourself that you're an accomplished scholar and a genius in all fields so a little faith journey wouldn't hurt you. I bet you're a Kung Fu master and a world-class athlete too. Are you Bruce Wayne or Nick Fury? You can tell me.

I believe that Jesus was in fact the son of God and did pay a price not just for my ancestor's sins but my own as well. Faith is believing in something you can't prove. Salvation is the reward of faith in this case. I don't have to prove anything to you, I just find your Me-Monster logic so ingratiating that it begs a response. We could argue about the weather but your argument would be just as hollow because you're basically a windbag with a keyboard. I'm trying to get around your apparent ego to have a conversation, but I'm afraid once I get there I'll still be by myself. R. Paul, thanks for being the voice of reason. You didn't insult me I enjoy the conversation.

At 6:30 AM, Blogger R. Paul Wiegand said...

Anon: I respect your beliefs, but I am having trouble allowing room for your asserting authority over things you clearly cannot know (other people's motivations, knowledge, and beliefs).

I am sure you are very comfortable in your beliefs. More power to you; however, you might consider that your own feelings about how Markiarchy is expressed might be turned around. Indeed ... the theme of this reoly is: Try turning your perspective around.

And, as always ... as I do so for everyone (including and especially myself): I suggest you reduce your assumptions about other people.

"R. Paul, you may not come to [C.S. Lewis'] conclusion but at least you'll give it a chance and that's all I ask."

I've read C.S Lewis ... that book, as well as most everything else he wrote. He was a great writer.

I am unpersuaded.

Several times in replies, I've listed the things I have done to "give it a chance". I wonder what must I do before you will consider my efforts earnest?

An earnest seeker will not necessarily find God. On that front you are most certainly and demonstrably incorrect: I am the very demonstration. Do not presume to know what I have honestly tried or not (nor what I have or have not read).

"Oh and by the way, Markiarchy does believe in God, or he wouldn't waste so much time arguing against nothing."

Markiarchy does not argue against God; It argues against a culture that believes in God. I am only guessing, but I'd suppose that Mark does not doubt the existence of the people who believe in God ... consequently, he is not arguing against "nothing."

Indeed, I know Mark well. Trust me, if not him: He does not believe in God.

Again, do not presume that you know what Mark does or does not believe. As I've said several times -- you may believe Mark is a raving fool, but under all measures he is by far the greater expert on his own beliefs.

"In the words of the Bible there is hope for those who believe, in Markiarchy's world view I guess where all destined for worm food. That's the hope I speak of, that this life and the moral code we choose was for something other than the moment."

I certainly respect your search for greater meaning and purpose in life.

However, you must admit that using a word like "hope" presupposes your own worldview. I find nothing intrinsically bad or good about the possibility that life has no meaning beyond what we bestow on it. I see no logical reason to apply the words "hope" or "hopeless" in this case ... it makes no sense.

You feel that this view expresses some sense of "hopelessness" ... okay. That's your perogative; however, you cannot pursuade people to your way of thinking by using language that makes no sense to them.

Now to address some minor errors. Please do not be offended by the corrections ... the details of our differences on these points are relevant to the debate.

"Why can't our children pray in school? ... but every year Christmas displays are disallowed in schools..."

Anyone can pray in any school; there is no law against it. Organized and public prayer is generally prevented, and it should be.

Consider this: Were a Wiccan to pray over the loud speaker at the school your children attend, how would you feel? Were a Satanist (assuming there really were such a thing) to do so, how would you feel?

There are schools to which you can send your children that allow for open displays of religion. Your freedom is not impenged. However, in a public school, I've just as much right as you to have my child attend without being indoctrinated into your religion.

Switch roles and see how you feel. What if once a year, Markchiarchy got to setup a display and shout at your kids about why they are fools to believe in God?

"Christian prayer is banned and stores aren't allowed to say Merry Christmas when I shop there."

This is simply not true; there is no such ban. Many stores have chosen to respect the plurality of beliefs at the holiday times, but there is no law, no edict, no ban.

Moreover, many stores do issue seasons greetings in traditional, Christian format.

In fact, I was brow-beaten in line at the grocery store this season by a fellow shopper because I used the phrase "Happy Holidays". She rolled her eyes and scowled saying, "Just say 'Merry Christmas'!." The clerk echoed her sentiment ... perhaps I should have pointed out that I was not a Christian?

No one is telling you what you can or cannot say during the holiday season. Again, put yourself in other people's shoes. In fact, you are asserting what they should or should not say.

"Yes we as Christians are persecuted."

Christians have been persecuted at various times in history in some cultures, but you cannot honestly ask us to believe that they are persecuted in this culture now.

This country is by all respects majority Christian; our laws are based on Judeo-Christian values; our law-makers are almost exclusively Christian; and our oaths and pledges reflect Christian beliefs.

As a Christian, you've as much right as anyone else in this country to practice your beliefs, to talk about them, and even to evangelize in many settings.

Consider this carefully: Your objections are not of the nature of what you should or should not be allowed to do in terms of your relgion, they are of the nature of what others should be forced to endure of your relgion. That is not persecution.

Even if you reject my view of things, you should be careful about the hyperbole. Look throughout history and even contemporary examples in other countries at real persecution and please ... please consider the reasonableness of claiming you are persecuted in this culture.

Or try this one on for role-flipping: Send your child to a school in South Carolina (I went to school in SC, which is why I use it as an example) ... tell them to refuse to say the Pledge of Allegance because they do not believe in God.

After you've tried that experiment, come back and tell me that Christians are persectued in this country.


Post a Comment

<< Home