Saturday, January 3, 2009

Lee Strobel's brief offering of failure

Hemant is so friendly.  I am not.  And so it begins.
I had a vested interest in the non-existence of God because I was living a rather immoral lifestyle and did not want to be held accountable for my behavior. To me, atheism opened up a world of hedonism that I knew wouldn’t be acceptable to God if he existed.
Then I believe you are in the minority.  Very few atheists are atheists for the sex life. Some of us are in it because we were never taught to be anything else.  Others are in it because religion doesn't hold water.  The rest of us are in it for the nachos.  And a good Christian wouldn't judge us for it!
Let me be clear: I’m not saying that all atheists are hedonists. I’m just saying that, for me, atheism cleared the way for me to live a self-indulgent, me-first, narcissistic life. And to be honest, to this day I can’t figure out why atheists would choose any other path, although I know many do.
I can't figure out why Christians would behave differently.  I mean, to an extent, you need to be "self-indulgent" and "narcissistic" in order to just function properly.  And, of course, if you go too far, it is social suicide.  Albeit, appeasing the wishes of others seems less appealing when you don't have a ghostly policeman menacingly glaring at you from behind a cloud.  But, some of us do it anyway.
While a lot of the issues they raise are the same ones that vexed me, I was not on a mission to wipe all faith from the face of the planet. 
Hoping that people collectively abandon religion over time =/= "wiping faith from the face of the planet."
My wife’s conversion to Christianity (which deeply troubled me at first) resulted in a lot of positive changes in her attitudes and behavior, which I found winsome and intriguing.
This is an incredibly common claim.  Christianity is a miraculous behavioral therapy due to the magic of Jesus.  Or, it could just be the acceptance into a new social group that is solely devoted to saying "yay us!" ad infinitum.   Either one.
In light of the scientific evidence that points toward a Creator and the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, I came to the conclusion that it would have required more faith for me to maintain my atheism than to become a Christian.
Ugggh.  Let me guess:  your scientific evidence pointing to a Creator is all anthropic principle crap, and your historical evidence for the Resurrection all comes from the contradictory accounts given in the Bible?  Correct me if I am wrong.
Essentially, I realized that to stay an atheist, I would have to believe that nothing produces everything; non-life produces life; randomness produces fine-tuning; chaos produces information; unconsciousness produces consciousness; and non-reason produces reason.
Did you really think that that would slide?  Did you?  Point by point.
  • How does God producing everything rather it arising spontaneously resolve anything at all?  Given that God himself either needed to be produced or needed to have always been, meaning that you either believe, in contrast, that "something produces something produces something....produces everything" or that "something that is always existed produces everything", your case is really not a whole lot more convincing, and does not necessarily need to involve God as you conceive of him.
  • Life-forms are composed of elements that are found in non-living matter, become non-living matter, and is, in of itself, not alive.  It is an almost trivial distinction.
  • Suffice it to say, your definition of "random" is intentionally askew.  Random processes follow predictable patterns.  Randomly moving particles reach a dynamic equilibrium.  Random sample means are distributed Normally.  Random chance determines whether a mutation occurs, and random chance dictates whether the situation makes it a positive or negative mutation, but its success in regards to yielding offspring will be determined by those facts, and the population will be directed (fine-tuned) based upon whether, by "random" chance, certain traits will be favored due to being beneficial.  Sometimes, randomness isn't so random.
  • Both of those terms are essentially meaningless to me.   Too subjective, and often used to describe any variety of things.
  • I am not even sure if that counts as English.  But, you are reifying consciousness.  It is not something out in the aether that needs to be produced.  It is a subjective product of internal biology, not something external imposed onto us by a bigger version of the same thing (which, inexplicably, also needed to be produced by consciousness...more of the same problems).
  • Pretty much the same thing as consciousness, above.
Jesus’ resurrection (and, hence, his divinity).
Really?  Jesus [supposedly] came back from the dead, therefore he is the Christian God?  Could it not be that:
Jesus has clones.
Jesus was raised as a zombie by a Voodoo sorcerer.
Jesus was a humble magician, not an embodiment of God.
Jesus was an avatar of Vishnu.
Jesus had the ability to regenerate from fatal wounds (and later became Wolverine, of X-Men fame).
Jesus's evil brother Jaysoos was the one crucified, not Jesus.
Jesus was brought back from the dead by alien technology in order to throw them off the scent of Xenu.
Jesus won against the Grim Reaper in a game of checkers and got his life back.
Jesus was raised from the dead by a 15th level Cleric.
Jesus sold his soul to a demon in order to attain immortality.
Jesus was secretly a cat, and was actually "resurrected" on 7 other occassions.
Jesus was kicked out of the land of the Dead for being a pretentious prick, charlatan, and all around douche.

I think that any of the above are just as likely.
Having said all of this, I do believe strongly that despite our fundamental disagreements, it should be possible for atheists and theists to engage in constructive discussions instead of resorting to name-calling or the imputation of bad motives.
I agree.  It is just more entertaining when we do the latter.
I now believe atheists are wrong in their conclusions, I’m confident that they still matter to God and therefore deserve respect.
Well, it's good to know that you are only willing to give respect when your deity of choice gives the go-ahead.  Considering his level of tolerance, I am not quite sure I am comfortable with that, though.  Oh yeah, and just because you changed your opinion does not give you increased credibility.  I am sick of this "former atheist" crock.  They pull the same thing with political ideologies; using the fact that they were once into a different brand politics as a form of implicit evidence that the abandoned ideology was flawed and the new one is that much better, in lieu of actually presenting an argument of any merit.  It sickens me.   But, what else is new.


Mandar Malum said...

Hmmmm, it really sounds like he was an atheist for the wrong reasons. I have never sat there thinking "oh I am going to be an atheist because god wouldn't like what I do"

As for God and Jesus providing happiness, that is a crock, its the acceptance of a brainwashed community, and a delusion that there is a wonderful existence after we die(that is unless we don't believe)

I hate when people of faith like to compare insane stretches and speculation for their Creator to the scientific theories that have a lot of reason and evidence to back them up...

Asylum Seeker said...

I am wondering if he is lying or just coloring his previous conception of himself through a born-again Christian lens. Being an atheist in order to be immoral is like being a Christian so that you don't have to eat kosher. Retarded.

"I hate when people of faith like to compare insane stretches and speculation for their Creator to the scientific theories that have a lot of reason and evidence to back them up..."

I know. It's like when they say that there are tons of arguments for the existence of God while forgetting 1. that most of those arguments are fallacious and 2. those arguments only prove that we need one of those things that they attribute to their God, not that their God exists (and is the thing that has all of those attributes).
They overlook those minor details in order to claim the rational superiority of their faith. Sad.

Stacy said...

Dam you're good, Seeker! :-)

I'm not sure if I believe anyone who says that they USED to be an atheist. Something in the back of my mind always tells me ... "bullshit, bullshit ..."

"The rest of us are in it for the nachos."

You know me so well! ;-)

Asylum Seeker said...

I think Kirk Cameron is a good example of the "bullshit" former atheists. Mostly because he was only an "atheist" until he was 17. I guess it is hard to distinguish the line between atheists by refusal of religion as compared to atheists who are only nonreligious due to not being properly brainwashed yet. But, that's a problem with going with an overly broad definition that describes only your lack of belief in something. Doesn't say anything about WHY you lack that belief.

Mandar Malum said...

ehh, i really dislike Kirk Cameron, I've seen some interviews with him and he just screams "Im a douche bag"

His whole disproving evolution because we cannot see a step by step picture in the fossil record...

Anonymous said...

Sorry Asylum,

1.It does give the speaker a little more credibility that he or she or it converted from whatever to whatever. I'll give Michael Shermer more credit than Dawkins. And I give Augustine more credit than Billy Graham.

2. Random is random it is not ordered. Just because you put it into an oxymoronic phrase doesn't make it valid.

3. You're more assuming natural selection acts upon amino acids and the like.

4. I was a reactionary atheist as well and it is easy to be one. I have met atheists who are compelled by the lack of evidence to conclude no-God. But there are atheists who do simply like the p.r., the 'rebellion' and the like. Lee Strobel was probably like me to that extent; the atheism we were introduced to wasn't thoughtful it was cultural.

5. It is a good philosophical debate as to whether happiness should override empiricism. My view is there should be a balance. Yet if a Hindu is happy (genuinely happy and not harming anyone) who are you to say he should be an atheist?

6. Nothing doesn't exist, but that is the default curriculum for origins. Maybe god and nothing should both be exempt from science classes?

pboyfloyd said...

Yep. Old Lee just makes me want to run to the local church and renounce my Atheism.

"Oh please forgive me for all my "scorched-earth militancy" and my mission to wipe out faith!", I'll say, promising to buy ALL Lee's books and his kids books too!

Hey, you unbelievers, you must realize that it was possible that scientists would find that the universe was fine-tuned AGAINST life! (actually that would have been better for the 'Case for God' 'cos then HE'd obviously need to be interfering to support life on this planet!)

I'll be going around praising God all over the place for such miracles as finding milk in the fridge and Cornflakes in the cupboard.

It'll be great if I can find the words to write a book on how hedonous I was, simply rejecting God against all the scientific and historic evidence because life was so much more fun that way!

Not saying that you are hedonistic, but it sure helps if you are, doesn't it?(I know that you know what I mean!(wink))

Did I cover every cheap Christian talking point?

NO. The truth is that Lee-baby didn't care until his wife became Christian and 'til he discovered that he could make mucho dinero writing about his 'conversion'. (Follow the money!)

Asylum Seeker said...

In response to Oneblood:
1. Those are some unfair pairings! But you are right, I overlooked something. When you have converted, you have implicitly seen more than one who has always held a given position, due to having formerly held one and now having another. It is implicit that you are aware of both arguments, and have found the newest to be the better. But, without hearing what those arguments are, it is hard to say.

2. Random is random but it can produce things that look ordered, and are predictable as if they were ordered. Unfortunately, much like chaos, order is a little too vague and overused for me to be sure that I am not speaking nonsense, though.

3. Guilty on that one. I overextend natural selection sometimes, beyond a biological into...well...something harder to categorize.

4. I am sure that your atheism had enough thoughtfulness in it. It doesn't seem like you are the kind of person who would lose their head completely, or be entirely compelled by culture (either by it or against it). I honestly don't know about Strobel though. His past self is rendered to us, and in his own mind, only in contrast to his current self,so it is hard to be certain.

5. I agree. On a personal level, it doesn't matter what you believe, as long as it makes you happy. It makes me happy to think I am important to other people. Just because there is mounds of evidence to the contrary doesn't mean that I should be forced to abandon that belief. In fact, it would be rather malicious to try. Of course, on a collective scale, or when those personal beliefs lead to destructive behavior, it gets a little more murky. But, beyond that circumstance, feel free to believe (as if anyone needed my permission).

6. "Nothing" should be exempt from science classes? That is just begging to be deliberately misinterpreted. Say that out loud, and next thing you know, they'll be teaching alchemy and how to properly have sex "kangaroo style" in a science classroom (And just because that particular style hasn't been invented yet will not slow them down!).
But, the other kind of nothing seems to be out of the science classes I've had already. So, that's a compromise, I suppose!

Asylum Seeker said...

"The truth is that Lee-baby didn't care until his wife became Christian and 'til he discovered that he could make mucho dinero writing about his 'conversion'."!? I...I think I feel a conversion coming on...

Though, writing Christian apologetics alongside Strobel and Dinesh doesn't seem like a very appealing get rich quick scheme. Even lazy douchebags like myself have standards.

mac said...

( if I may borow a phrase from the christians)

Lee Strobel wasn't a real atheist.

I mean, he still believed in a god, he merely chose not to worship his god. There is a B I G difference between not worshipping god and not believing a god exists.

Judging by his own words, I would go so far as to say he was still a christian, just not a good one.

On the other-hand, I am quie deviant myself, perhaps I'm a closeted theist ;-)

Asylum Seeker said...

Ah, the No True Scotsman paying out big money for us finally! Well, I still think he was a true atheist. It's just that atheist is a really broad term, so he was a different flavor of atheist than what he may be trying to present himself as. I think it might be Cotton Candy...

Asylum Seeker said...

Oh, and I see that someone said that Phallusism is the new upcoming American religion in my poll. That's the answer that I was leaning towards too. I can already hear the folkloric tales of the magical penis and the harem of girls who can do nothing but cook and striptease (or both at the same time) at its beck and call. It's the religion where manliness is holiness, sex is a sacrament (as long as there is no cuddling), and where effeminate men are even more abominable than any other religion would have you believe.

No, this post was not an advertisement.