An Atheist Sunday Sermon by Jerry DeWitt
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03-11-2013, 12:28 PM
An Atheist Sunday Sermon by Jerry DeWitt
I recently watched this video of Jerry DeWitt's Sunday Morning Sermon at the 2013 American Atheist Convention:





I thought it was very moving, and even brought me to tears at some points. After reflecting on it I made a few observations:

-If I was a still a Christian, I would have attributed those feelings to the Holy Spirit. The fact that I can still experience them listening to a secular message supports the idea that they aren't the result of anything supernatural, but just a normal part of our psychology.

-I wonder if there is something hypnotic about the "preacher voice." Does anyone know if the cadence, vocal inflections, passion, or something puts our brains into a more receptive state? I suspect it does.

-I've been spending a lot of time recently catching up on the science I wasn't taught at my Christian high school, watching debates, and reading books to learn to articulately defend my non-belief and possibly persuade others but was kind of loosing sight what matters in daily life: being a genuinely decent human being.

Years ago I remember hearing a preacher say "we can't have people so heavenly minded they're no earthly good," and I think there's a lesson in that for us too. Logic and science are both very important, but sometimes life sucks, and in those situations demonstrating love* is more powerful than a rational argument.

*I'm generally not that sappy, but couldn't think of a better way to phrase it, so here we are. Blush

"I feel as though the camera is almost a kind of voyeur in Mr. Beans life, and you just watch this bizarre man going about his life in the way that he wants to."

-Rowan Atkinson
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03-11-2013, 01:41 PM
RE: An Atheist Sunday Sermon by Jerry DeWitt
That was great, man. Thanks for sharing. Smile

But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

~ Umberto Eco
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03-11-2013, 02:00 PM
RE: An Atheist Sunday Sermon by Jerry DeWitt
(03-11-2013 01:41 PM)evenheathen Wrote:  That was great, man. Thanks for sharing. Smile

You're welcome!

"I feel as though the camera is almost a kind of voyeur in Mr. Beans life, and you just watch this bizarre man going about his life in the way that he wants to."

-Rowan Atkinson
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03-11-2013, 02:06 PM
RE: An Atheist Sunday Sermon by Jerry DeWitt
(03-11-2013 12:28 PM)Can_of_Beans Wrote:  I recently watched this video of Jerry DeWitt's Sunday Morning Sermon at the 2013 American Atheist Convention:





I thought it was very moving, and even brought me to tears at some points. After reflecting on it I made a few observations:

-If I was a still a Christian, I would have attributed those feelings to the Holy Spirit. The fact that I can still experience them listening to a secular message supports the idea that they aren't the result of anything supernatural, but just a normal part of our psychology.

-I wonder if there is something hypnotic about the "preacher voice." Does anyone know if the cadence, vocal inflections, passion, or something puts our brains into a more receptive state? I suspect it does.

Didn't feel the tears but I did feel a strong hypnotic effect, not sure if its the obey the preacher conditioning as a child .
can someone who was never indoctrinated comment on how this "preaching" affected them.

Theism is to believe what other people claim, Atheism is to ask "why should I".
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03-11-2013, 08:22 PM
RE: An Atheist Sunday Sermon by Jerry DeWitt
He's a great speaker and great speakers can make one feel moved regardless of almost any topic.
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03-11-2013, 10:06 PM
RE: An Atheist Sunday Sermon by Jerry DeWitt
(03-11-2013 02:06 PM)sporehux Wrote:  
(03-11-2013 12:28 PM)Can_of_Beans Wrote:  I recently watched this video of Jerry DeWitt's Sunday Morning Sermon at the 2013 American Atheist Convention:





I thought it was very moving, and even brought me to tears at some points. After reflecting on it I made a few observations:

-If I was a still a Christian, I would have attributed those feelings to the Holy Spirit. The fact that I can still experience them listening to a secular message supports the idea that they aren't the result of anything supernatural, but just a normal part of our psychology.

-I wonder if there is something hypnotic about the "preacher voice." Does anyone know if the cadence, vocal inflections, passion, or something puts our brains into a more receptive state? I suspect it does.

Didn't feel the tears but I did feel a strong hypnotic effect, not sure if its the obey the preacher conditioning as a child .
can someone who was never indoctrinated comment on how this "preaching" affected them.

^ this. Quick! Somebody who was never a believer!
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04-11-2013, 11:08 AM
RE: An Atheist Sunday Sermon by Jerry DeWitt
(03-11-2013 12:28 PM)Can_of_Beans Wrote:  -If I was a still a Christian, I would have attributed those feelings to the Holy Spirit. The fact that I can still experience them listening to a secular message supports the idea that they aren't the result of anything supernatural, but just a normal part of our psychology.

I know exactly what you mean. When I was a Christian, I would get feelings that I figured were God. I ignored the times I would get those same feelings in other contexts. Once I stopped believing, I became more aware of it. I remember a distinct time I got that feeling thinking about atheism.

I've talked to my wife about this, who believes that the things she feels are proof that God exists. I told her I've had those, and that I've had them absent of God. She told me that her feelings are more powerful and undeniable. How she can make that comparison, I will never know.
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04-11-2013, 12:26 PM
RE: An Atheist Sunday Sermon by Jerry DeWitt
(04-11-2013 11:08 AM)RobbyPants Wrote:  I know exactly what you mean. When I was a Christian, I would get feelings that I figured were God. I ignored the times I would get those same feelings in other contexts. Once I stopped believing, I became more aware of it. I remember a distinct time I got that feeling thinking about atheism.

I've talked to my wife about this, who believes that the things she feels are proof that God exists. I told her I've had those, and that I've had them absent of God. She told me that her feelings are more powerful and undeniable. How she can make that comparison, I will never know.

Well, it is undeniable her feelings are more powerful... to her. It's not like she can feel anyone else's feelings. Or maybe she doesn't quite get that part.

Tell her that your own feelings are far more powerful to you than her feelings are... then, wait for her response. Wink Hope your couch is comfy to sleep on.
***

I didn't listen to this "sermon" - my wifi is fucked today - but I often don't like to listen to someone else try to manipulate my emotions anyway. If there is a transcript of what he said, I might prefer to read it and place my own emphasis in places I think to be worthy of my feelings and emotions about the subject.

To me, a good speaker is a good speaker. However, there can be a reason someone is a good speaker; they could be trying to manipulate others to feel a certain way about something. For me, this often falls short emotionally. I like to hear a good speaker speak about something I'm interested in, rather than try to make me feel emotional for something that I may not really care about.

I think Jerry DeWitt is an ok guy but, I get the feeling he confuses the issue for some people; namely the recently de-converted and/or theists who think atheism is a religion. The fact that he is a former minister should have nothing to do with anything he speaks about. But I suspect it very well might.

Maybe Jerry should just get into theater; stage work seems to be what he knows, enjoys, and seems to be quite good at. Shy

A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels. ~ Albert Einstein
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04-11-2013, 12:56 PM
RE: An Atheist Sunday Sermon by Jerry DeWitt
(04-11-2013 11:08 AM)RobbyPants Wrote:  I know exactly what you mean. When I was a Christian, I would get feelings that I figured were God. I ignored the times I would get those same feelings in other contexts. Once I stopped believing, I became more aware of it. I remember a distinct time I got that feeling thinking about atheism.

I've talked to my wife about this, who believes that the things she feels are proof that God exists. I told her I've had those, and that I've had them absent of God. She told me that her feelings are more powerful and undeniable. How she can make that comparison, I will never know.

She can make the comparison because most religious beliefs are based on asserting as truth things that no one can know, and once you get in the habit of making unprovable claims it's probably hard to know where to draw the line. Like you said, how could she possibly determine that her feelings are more powerful than yours?

I'm fairly sure that the Muslims in this video would also argue that their feelings are powerful and and undeniable proof of Allah which should really lead anyone to question the legitimacy of using emotion as evidence.





Do you think you could convince her to give the entire video her full attention? I'd be interested to know how she reacts.

"I feel as though the camera is almost a kind of voyeur in Mr. Beans life, and you just watch this bizarre man going about his life in the way that he wants to."

-Rowan Atkinson
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04-11-2013, 07:07 PM
RE: An Atheist Sunday Sermon by Jerry DeWitt
I mean no disrespect to the OP or anyone else who enjoyed this, but I had to turn it off after it passed 14 minutes. The tone of the speech is a cross between an evangelist preacher and an overzealous politician, both of which I find completely annoying. I just wanted to grab the guy the whole time and say "calm down, you're message isn't that exciting". I don't know, maybe it's just me, but I don't particularly care for having opinions shouted at me and I think this tone is inappropriate for atheist messages. When there is truly a very deep message combined with a charismatic speaker, then it can work - for example, MLK's I Have a Dream speech. But otherwise, it strikes me like the speaker is just trying to sell me nonsense.

"Religion has caused more misery to all of mankind in every stage of human history than any other single idea." --Madalyn Murray O'Hair
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