Facebook debate with close theist friend...
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11-05-2013, 11:25 AM
RE: Facebook debate with close theist friend...
(11-05-2013 07:09 AM)DanDare Wrote:  Wow that is pretty powerful stuff. I find myself hoping it sorts itself out between you and your friend. I think he must be a good friend indeed to continue the conversation. I suspect its causing him some distress, as much as it is causing you some.

I have always wanted to travel the Camino myself, though not as a religious pilgrim since I am a lifelong atheist.

Thanks for posting all this. I find it personally..I don't know the right word.. helpful?

Thanks. I struggle with these exchanges, as we were close friends for a number of years and went through a lot together as Xians. I'd hoped we could continue our friendship, albeit without the Xian part, but that was more wishful thinking than anything else, as we had a lot of conversations and emails back in the day based on God's will for our lives and how to best live the Xian life. Now we're pretty much on opposite poles, which makes any dialogue beyond surfacey stuff quite difficult.

In fact, I would kind of feel bad if he left his faith and became an agnostic or atheist, if only because he'd be even worse off than me if he did so. His business is based on photographing weddings, mostly of Xians, and his entire family is Xian as well. On one level I know it would be better for him to live a hard truth vs. a comforting lie, but I hate seeing people go through the ringer with family and friends - it has certainly hurt me to clash with loved ones over my atheism.

As for the Camino, I certainly encourage you to do it. I met many non-believers who were walking the Way for various reasons not related to religion. It's a great way to meet people, see beautiful country, get in better shape, and eat and drink good food and vino. Upon reaching Santiago you can even get a "cultural" vs. "religious" type certificate to commemorate your journey. It was one of the best things I ever did with my life, and I'd love to go back again someday and either re-walk the same trail or take one of the other paths to Santiago.
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12-05-2013, 06:32 AM
RE: Facebook debate with close theist friend...
So have you ever gone back over any of your old exchanges? If so what is it like to compare yourself then to yourself now?
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14-05-2013, 04:28 PM
RE: Facebook debate with close theist friend...
(12-05-2013 06:32 AM)DanDare Wrote:  So have you ever gone back over any of your old exchanges? If so what is it like to compare yourself then to yourself now?

I've got our emails archived, but I haven't gone back and re-read them for awhile. I know we emailed a lot about our mutual difficulties finding a wife in our respective churches (especially as we neared middle-age), and hoping that God would bring one into our lives. We also went back and forth about more mundane things, like occupational challenges, foreign travel, cuisine, finding our passion in life, and so on.

Hoping for God's guidance and favor and trying to figure out how to discern/achieve those blessings was a big part of our Xian walk. We figured that by seeking God first we would become Christ-like and therefore be OK even if we never married (more time/freedom to serve God). And of course, an eternal perspective helped take the edge off of our mortality because we felt that no matter what happened, heaven was a heartbeat away.

Of course, now my perspective on life (and afterlife) has radically changed since becoming an atheist. That has lead to a dearth of communication between my friend and I, as it's kind of awkward that we no longer agree on how life, the universe, and everything works anymore. I suppose that's par for the course when one person in any relationship goes through a significant presuppositional shift.
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22-05-2013, 01:55 PM
RE: Facebook debate with close theist friend...
Latest message:

Quote:I thought this was interesting what an atheist said to Francis' son....

I know where you're coming from and I know your personality. You tend to be like me and blow things more out of proportion than they actually are or were to justify your "hurt". Once we have a little bit of a hurt, it's easy to have a pessimistic attitude.

The biggest thing I've seen from older singles that we have to watch out for is the attitude of thinking that the world is turning against us. It seems like you have that attitude with the churches you've been involved with where you think they're all out to get you and control you. Really? Imago Dei controlled you? Sorry, but I don't see that church trying to control you unless you're referring to them trying to teach the ways of a good life according to the bible.

As I've said before, I hear ya on the church. It's messed up. If the Holy Spirit is really at work in the church, why aren't people more friendly and less selfish at some of the churches I've attended? After thinking about all of the people I've met at the different churches I've attended, I would say there are a lot of people who are living a spirit filled life. They want to help and love others. I also know a few who don't seem to have the Holy Spirit operating in their life which shouldn't be a big surprise since Paul mentioned doing things he didn't want to do.

I'm not sure what truth you are seeing now. Are you referring to science as your new religion/truth? I'm a little surprised you see that as better "truth" since scientists admit they don't have it all figured out. If cosmology and evolution are the reason behind the universe formation, what created the beginning? The cause? You can throw out as many arguments you want but nothing ever sticks. At least the bible with faith explains some things like this where scientists can only speculate. Just in the same way as there is no proof for ape evolving into a man. All they can do is speculate and try to say that years from now, they will be able to find all of the links between man and ape. I'm not buying it. It's all about the years with evolution. Just give it years and years and everything will fall into place as you wish it.

I don't understand how atheists don't wrestle with the idea of consciousness. As one philosopher put it: "Why should a bunch of atoms have thinking ability?" To be able to ponder, reflect, agree or disagree with pain or pleasure doesn't seem to be in the Darwinian model.

My reply:

Checked out the Huff article (had to do a search, as the link you posted was broken). Francis Schaeffer comes off pretty well in his son's book, and I can understand how his knowledge, passion, and charisma drew people to Xianity. However, that's a "cult of personality" case if I've ever seen one. If God exists, *he* should be the one drawing people to him instead of using some intermediary that can't really present any concrete proof that he or she isn't simply going on their own steam. Basing one's faith on the physical, intellectual, and emotional gifts of a person doesn't strike me as something that legitimizes God - it's more us projecting our concept of God's attributes on another fallible human.

I certainly admit I'm a sensitive individual that can be hurt fairly easily. And yes, I met a number of nice people in the Church during my Xian tenure. But I also met a lot of sketchy characters, and my weakness doesn't mitigate the many relational flaws within Xianity, particularly when people often use God to justify spiteful and hurtful actions towards others (ever get dumped by a woman who said "God is saying no to us"?). Even the presence of good Xians doesn't equate to proof of God - it only proves that there are good people who happen to be religious. As my breakup example indicates, people can use God to justify almost anything...remember 9/11?

As for Imago controlling me? Yes, they did try, as most churches do, to get me to fit into their particular vision. When I was struggling after Susan broke up with me, my small group leaders shut me out and even tried to marginalize me. Heck, before I fell from favor one of them said to me that the leaders talk with each other about "problem" members and deal with them accordingly - as I later found out first-hand. Where is the Holy Spirit in that? It was just them making a calculated decision about me and implementing it, like I had lost my lustre and become a liability. Not cool. And only one of them tried to maintain any contact with me after I left Xianity. Where does any of that fit into 1 Corinthians 13, where love "suffers long and is kind...bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things...love never fails"? I saw that sort of thing play out time and again in the Church, and after 24+ years, I'd had enough.

The "good life" according to the Bible? Well, from my experience that seemed to depend on the pastor's interpretation of the Bible, which we both know tended to vary from church to church. Did you ever find it funny that the "good life" always boiled down to us doing what we were told, serving according to their vision, and giving them our money? After that, it was all up in the air. Some felt that R-rated movies were of the devil, others were cool with swearing and tattoos. What about other faiths? Kind of odd that all the other belief systems were always subject to the same scrutiny and dismissal that you accuse atheists of having towards Xianity. Heck, we atheists basically apply that skepticism to *all* religions and end up believing in one less god than you do!

Science has not replaced Xianity as my religion, but I've found it to be a better indicator of truth than Xianity ever was. You are right that scientists admit that they don't know all of the answers - but from what I remember, Xians always did! In seminary we used to joke that you could answer any question with one word and be right: "Jesus." God was ultimately the answer for everything. Lost your job? God was opening another door. Got sick? God was testing your faith. Not sure how something functioned in nature? God was in that gap. Lost a loved one? God needed another angel. And so on. That kind of approach to life is, frankly, intellectually and emotionally stunting, and was part of the reason that the West remained stuck in the Dark Ages for so long.

By the way, there is fossil and genetic proof that man and apes evolved from a common ancestor, so it is not just idle speculation. Evolution is a solid theory ("theory" meaning the following from Wikipedia: Scientific theories are the most reliable, rigorous, and comprehensive form of scientific knowledge, in contrast to more common uses of the word "theory" that imply that something is unproven or speculative (which is better defined by the word 'hypothesis')) that has been observed in nature and has supporting evidence in a variety of scientific disciplines. In addition, proof for evolution is continually being discovered, while so far there is no proof for creationism or "intelligent design" anywhere to be found. But the thing is, scientists would be the first to admit they were wrong if new and solid evidence came to light. Xians, though, keep kicking against the goads and trying to contort everything into their supernatural worldview.

In the case of "what created the beginning", that has been mulled over within the context of the Cosmological Argument:


Science takes a non-creationism stance that makes more sense than a Creator that didn't do a very good design job and appears to be pretty absent from its proceedings.

As for consciousness, science and philosophy have certainly wrestled with the concept, as you can see in this Wikipedia article:


Even Richard Dawkins considers it to be a mystery, as stated in the above article. But just because science doesn't yet have answers to various questions doesn't mean scientists won't find them down the line. As stated above, new discoveries always favor science and evolution vs. religion and creationism. Have you checked out the videos and books I mentioned in one of my previous emails?

Remember, back in my Xian days I read a number of apologetic books and took seminary apologetics classes, and nothing presented in either format stands up very well to actual scientific or historical discoveries. Indeed, if any of our pastors could have forseen how the Internet would enable the average person to have access to all known information at the click of a mouse instead of relying on their sermons and books, they would have damned it long ago.
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22-05-2013, 08:25 PM
RE: Facebook debate with close theist friend...
(30-04-2013 04:20 PM)Atheist_pilgrim Wrote:  Awhile back one of my closest theist friends (we're not so close now that I've come out as an atheist, however) posted some of his nature photos on Facebook for all to see. One of them, a picture of a flower, was captioned "wonder what kind of brush God used to paint this beautiful bulb?". I replied "A Darwinian 42?" with a smiley face. He asked what that had to do with creation, and I responded that it must've come from the "evolution" section of the store.

Then I got a private message from him, and as you'll see from the following, we got into a short debate:

After my 2nd response I never heard back from him. It's kind of sad because we were really close friends for a number of years, even after he moved up north to pursue a better life back in 2001. But once I left the faith things became strained, and I knew it was a a matter of time before this kind of discussion took place.

I wanted to let you know that your responses were fantastic. I have been dealing with a very similar situation on FB recently as well. One is with my former youth director/christian mentor and the other my best friend. Its been quite the roller coaster. I agree with everything you said in your responses, and you articulated it much better than I have thus far in my discussions.

"If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things." ~Rene Descartes.
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