CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

Bulverism, which C.S. Lewis defined as the art of explaining away dissent from one's own views via psychological mechanisms, has been a mainstay of atheist apologetics for hundreds of years. In the face of what Lewis also aptly called the obstinacy of belief, atheists scramble to find psychological rationales for the persistence of this strange neurosis. John Loftus over at Debunking Christianity has been ramping up his bulverism. In recent posts he claims to have 'figured out' Christianity and attributes the lack of interest among Christians in reading the 'best' atheist apologetics (which, of course, includes his own at or near the top of the list) to fear that it will undermine their beliefs. The fact that people familiar with apologetics on both sides tend not to be too impressed with his arguments, a few positive reviews notwithstanding, must be puzzling to him.

For the most part I've been content to ignore these increasingly belligerent provocations (in a recent post he claims simply, "Christian, you are ignorant"). I've got better things to do with my time, including a senior thesis, researching post-graduation options, working on a screenplay, etc. But I'm getting kind of fed up with his arrogance. He claims to know why I believe what I do better than I myself, despite the fact that I've been trained at a secular liberal arts university in critical thinking, academic research and argumentative rhetoric and have been exposed to countless challenges to my faith from many sources.

I'd just like to take a moment to set the record straight about the psychology of an intelligent, educated Christian believer. I will try to give an honest description of my attitudes and dispositions towards the objects of my faith. I won't develop the arguments I believe justify my faith stance in detail. Here I will just describe what goes through my mind as I think about Christian doctrines, events in my everyday life which I think are significant for interpreting my faith and my reactions to reading posts like his and other skeptical challenges.

The first thing you would probably notice about me is that my behavior does not generally differ noticeably from those of other students on campus. This is not because I don't think my beliefs should make a difference in my daily life, it's just that at college the routines of everyday life are shared by everyone. There is no Christian way to walk to classes or check my mail, although I will bow my head and close my eyes at mealtime to express my gratitude that, in a time when so many are suffering from the economic downturn, I have abundant, healthy food to eat. I do not think this is because I'm more righteous than others or because I'm one of the elect. It is a simple acknowledgment of the truth that in this life, there will be times of plenty and times of want, and that as Ecclesiastes declares, "time and chance happen to all." I don't think this undermines God's providence, because this life was never meant to be our final destination. It is a vale of soul-making, an arena for moral decisions, with trials designed to test us and comforts designed to delight us. With the apostle Paul I hope I can declare that I have learned to be happy and content in whatever state I'm in.

When my mind turns to theological issues, as it often does, my most common reaction is awe at the insight and wisdom which can be gleaned from the great theologians about every aspect of human experience. Reinhold Niebuhr in Radical Monotheism and Western Culture gave me a model for making sense of people's seemingly blind adherence to ideology in exchange for peace and safety. William Cavanaugh in Being Consumed illuminated the economic behaviors encouraged by modern corporate capitalism and what can be done to make it more humane, ensuring abundance for all people, not just the lucky few who made it to the top. It turns out that the Augustinian theory of desires is immensely relevant to diagnosing and correcting the pathology of modern consumerism. From James Gustafson I am learning how to think theocentrically about the place of human beings in the natural order. The list goes on and on.

Just from these insights alone I would conclude that Christian theology makes best sense of human experience, in dialog and interaction with other disciplines and theologies. But I continue to be impressed by the strength of certain arguments of natural theology, from history, science and philosophy, for the existence and nature of God. Especially after reading Edward Feser's The Last Superstition, I have much more confidence in the classic philosophical arguments. Kantian skepticism does not have a solid foundation. And I say this as someone who up until fairly recently was part of the chorus of naysayers about natural theology, who insisted that God can only be known through faith and that the arguments are at best inconclusive. New work by Mark Wynn, Holmes Rolston, Rodney Holder, Brad Monton and others have greatly strengthened my Christian faith, along with Greg Boyd, James Dunn and Michael Bird, among others, in biblical studies.

Aside from the positive evidence, which is admittedly tentative and subject to revision, the thing that does most to keep my faith stable is my meta-perspective on the formation and procedures for criticism of religious beliefs. Coming to understand how people actually form their beliefs, what roles affectivity and tradition play in all rational deliberation and when it might be reasonable to abandon a particular belief system enable me to keep calm in the face of apparent challenges, because they often turn out to be just that: apparent and not actual. The best book on this whole subject by far is Basil Mitchell's Faith and Criticism.

I have been a member of Princeton Evangelical Fellowship for the past four years. In all that time, though I have sometimes been challenged about some of my more unorthodox (at least to evangelicals) opinions on certain issues like inerrancy or the problem of evil, I have never, ever been 'shut down' by the ministers or been in fear of being ostracized or condemned for my doubts. On the contrary, they have encouraged my questions, patiently heard me out as I wrestled with my fears and worries and always been there for me. I go there every Friday night and on various retreats not because I fear hell or retribution if I don't, but because my soul is nourished there. Just tonight I heard an astonishing, moving sermon on the power and challenge of radical forgiveness. The minister laid out his talk calmly and rationally, never once intimidating the students or ignoring hard questions. In short, PEF is the most spiritually and intellectually stimulating environment I've ever been in. I can't wait for Friday to come around again so I can partake of more biblical wisdom and fellowship.

This is not to say that I am insulated from the 'outside' world and surround myself only with people who think as I do. I often have very stimulating, fascinating interactions with atheists, believers from other religions and agnostics, some of whom are my best friends. In my experience religious disagreement is healthy and I don't think it should lead to agnosticism about the truth claims of one's own tradition, but rather a deeper understanding of that tradition and the issues at stake. Conversion from one paradigm to another is never a step-by-step, linear affair anyway. There is no algorithm for worldview change.

This is also not to say that I don't occasionally suffer doubt or worry that some arguments aren't actually as strong as I thought. I do not fear this doubt, although it is uncomfortable. I see it as a healthy thing for a religious believer, as long as it does not escalate into isolation, self-doubt or depression. When I face a challenge I hadn't encountered before or new information comes to light which could have significant bearing on my beliefs (like the Jesus Family Tomb two years ago or the Bloodline tomb this year), I throw myself into research. I am generally very skeptical in my use of sources, generally avoiding popular apologetics on both sides in favor of the most up-to-date, comprehensive scholarly literature. I try to get in touch with the people who can give me a helpful way of framing the problem. I generally find that the challenge wasn't as strong as I feared it was going to be, as a rule. To give just one example, I approached John Beversluis' critique of C.S. Lewis with considerable trepidation, worrying that he was going to debunk one of my favorite writers and show him to be nothing but a fraud and intellectual welterweight. When I actually read the book, I was surprised by how unsophisticated were his reconstructions of Lewis' arguments, despite extensive citations and obvious familiarity with the secondary literature. In discussing Lewis' moral argument, for example, he completely ignores a whole batch of pages from The Abolition of Man which anticipate and refute several objections he lodges against it in that chapter. After my thesis is done I plan to do a thorough critique of Beversluis. I wonder why I was ever quaking in my boots about it.

I wholeheartedly admit that I have an emotional investment in my Christian faith. Belief in a God who is active in this world, who raised Jesus from the dead and will bring about a new heavens and new earth is the only solid basis for hope I have found in a world torn by strife, corruption, violence and decay. Of course I'd rather go to be with God when I die, rather than sinking into oblivion (that desire is particularly strong now when I'm so young, and there are so many experiences I still want to have). I also admit that sometimes wishful thinking has clouded my judgment of certain arguments. Despite my commitment to the Way of Jesus I often act selfishly and intentionally so. I find myself objectifying women in Swimsuit Illustrated or looking down on poor people. I often catch myself telling little 'white' lies, either to impress someone or shirk a responsibility. I feel the influence of the powers of sin and death in my own life, and far too often do not take up arms against them.

But despite all this, when all is said and done I can reflect on my faith with satisfaction at its firmness, not a result of ignorance but precisely its opposite, a deeper understanding of my tradition and the disciplines which Loftus claims lead people away from faith (as Francis Bacon remarked long ago, a little learning inclines people to atheism, but more learning brings them back to theism). I do not defer to authority except when I deem it warranted. My faith is my own, forged in crises, interaction with other people and scholarly exploration. That is why I have to chuckle when I read Loftus's bulverisms. They are so far from applying to me it's almost comical. And I have no doubt that the same can be said for many other educated Christians.

36 comments:

Hello! :)

JD,

Hi my friend. Listen, it is incumbant for each side in this debate to explain why the other side doesn't believe when confronted with the same evidence and arguments. That's what I'm attempting. I'm trying to do so in a way that makes the Christian pause and think like perhaprs never before.

Why do you think I don't believe? Be honest enough to tell me, okay?

Your personal story, while interesting, is anecdotal evidence. No matter what claim I make there will always be someone who says, like you did, “hey, that’s doesn’t represent me!” That’s equivalent to the newspaper reporter who was stunned when Ronald Reagan won the Presidential election by a landslide and quipped, “I didn’t know anyone who voted for him.” ;-)

When it comes to beliefs for which there is no hard cold scientific evidence to them, like political, ethical and religious beliefs how can we decided between them? In such discipline of learning human knowledge grows very slowly and there are setbacks for hundreds of years. But it’s fairly obvious that some ethical and political ideas are the ones for the future, and it’s pretty clear that in the previous disciplines of learning I mentioned (anthropology, psychology...) the trend is very clear. You must account for that trend. At least it should give you pause.

Would you mind trying to explain the trend? As a rule people in these fields of learning tend to move toward doubt. Why is that? Take a stab at it. Why is it that Universities once started to propagate the gospel are now bastions of secularism and that in each generation new universities and book publishing companies are started to overcome the liberal tendencies of the generation that went before? Since there are no cold hard scientific facts about these ideas then trends over time are very important and could even be decisive if someone were to consider what they point to.

Brainwashed deluded and paranoid schizophrenics can be very rational. All it takes is one or more false assumptions, so no I do not claim believers are irrational at all.

You've just admitted to being scared of reading Beversluis's book, so that's one of the characteristics I mentioned to be found in a brainwashed person. {Are you scared of my book too?] You mentioned other characteristics of brainwashing: 1) You are emotionally attached: "I wholeheartedly admit that I have an emotional investment in my Christian faith," 2) You prefer that your beliefs are true: "I'd rather go to be with God when I die." And 3) You have wishful thinking: "I also admit that sometimes wishful thinking has clouded my judgment of certain arguments."

As I was leaving my Christian faith kicking and screaming against the very thought, I had to do so despite the above brainwashing indicators I myself shared with you. It was very painful emotionally, it went against what I wanted to be true for so many reasons I don't know where to begin, and the arguments had to overcome my wishful thinking.

Look at the trends. Follow them. They may be decisive. Explain them when you seek to explain why I don't believe.

Cheers.

sorry psychology of religion is a vast field. It's been going over one hundred years and contains a vast library full of literature dispoving Fured's anti-religous propaganda. Gone are the days when atheist can just rattle off some psycho babble and pretended they have defeated Christianity.

350 studies, at least, probably closer to several thousand, that prove religious is the bet thing for you psychologically. you have not touched this. you have not come close to touching it.

Until you deal with Ralph Hood Jr. you are not even dealing.

Joe, please explain the data and the trends. That's what I'm asking here.

John,

I don't understand why that kind of data would concern a Christian. Why should I care even if every psychiatrist in the world thought that religion was hogwash?

I think the trends are very easy to explain. Peter pointed out plainly that scoffers would come. Jesus asked the question, "when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" He said plainly that the way was narrow. So when all these so-called intellects reject him, should this be a surprise?

Again, I just don't understand what these supposed trends have to do with the veracity of the Christian faith. Besides, didn't Layman just talk about this "wave of the future" stuff in this post?

Leslie, didn't Layman say later in that post that we were "talking about different things"? Compare apples with apples and oranges with oranges, okay?

Besides, you simply cannot respond with the very thing that is being questioned when you quote from the Bible.

Besides, there is a great deal I'd like to say about the eschatology of the NT and the Bible as a whole. It's obvious the NT writers believed the eschaton would take place in their generation in which the stars would quite literally fall from heaven. That never happened.

I'm not trying to argue that atheism is wrong, nor that Christianity is true, by quoting scripture (though I don't think that method can be as easily shirked off as many atheists seem to hold). I'm quoting it to say that the Christian would not at all be surprised by the trends under discussion. You did not answer my question - why should I care about such a trend, if indeed it is one? How is that an argument against the Christian faith?

As for eschatology, I don't intend to get into that discussion here as it seems off topic. I'll simply say that I disagree with your analysis of the NT writers' beliefs. Even if their view of how things would go down in terms of the parousia was skewed in some manner, I don't see that as a defeater.

It says a lot that Loftus appears to think that psychiatry is a rigorous field of inquiry that produces dispassionate reliable results.

The reason many Christians don't read the "big" atheist apologetics books is the same reason they don't read the "big" Christan apologetics books, they are not that interested in apologetics from either side. For those Christians who are interested in apologetics, there is a high interest in reading the "best" from the other side.

Just what that "best" is differs from Christian to Christian. I think Loftus is silly, so I don't buy his book. His historical arguments tend to be worthless and arguments about "lobsterman" and such are useful fodder for mockery. I see what he has to say from time to time on DC, but the more I read the less interested I am.

For the most part, I'm simply not interested in atheist arguments from the problem of evil or other theories that rely on underfounded presumptions about a infinite being we can only comprehend in part. For me, I've been drawn to historical books about the Christian faith. Unfortunately, there are not that many good atheist apologetics on historical arguments. I've read the big names like R. Carrier and R. Price and E. Doherty, but in each case my reaction has been similar to JD's, "This is the best?" Atheists seem unnecessarily drawn to unwarranted extremes in their zeal to challenge religion. It blunts their effectiveness to a tremendous degree. (More challenging have been historical books by non-Christian and even Christian scholars who are more interested in scholarship than advancing their anti-religious ball). Even assuming, for example, that there was the occasional worthwhile post on DB, their association with the likes of Acharya S and continued defense of her reasonableness justifies any Christian in saying, "Why would I waste my time on them?"

Goliath,

Do you have some kind of mental filter in place that makes it so you don't see how childish you sound. Again: Grow up.

JD,

Thanks for pointing me to Feser. Best book of 2009 for me so far. Your going places dude. God's got some plans for you.

I found JD’s post and Loftus’ response to be entirely too typical of what is seen on the Internet. JD has written a really deep and interesting post responding to Loftus’ claims that Christians don’t read his work because we are somehow afraid that we will be proven wrong. JD points out, appropriately, that many Christians (such as JD and I) have a great strength of belief because we have examined the arguments made by the atheists and found them to be wanting. We aren’t running from such literature. We have read much too much of it.

Loftus wants us to explain why the trends are towards atheism. In doing so, he almost fully ignores JD’s post. When he does mention it, he pulls things out of the larger and clear context and tries to make the case the JD has proven that he is brainwashed. Sad.

But allow me to respond to some of Loftus’ particular points.

First, Loftus argues that he is really only interested in having Christians examine why others don’t believe the evidence. Personally, given the way that Mr. Loftus has regularly trumpeted that his book is (for all practical purposes) the book that will bring down Christianity, I find it doubtful that he has such modest goals.

He then asks JD to explain why he doesn’t believe. He asks him to be honest. I will take that up in a future post. But as a hint, I think that Mr. Loftus is every bit like so many of the new atheists – an arrogant male with above-average intelligence who believes that his understanding of the world based on his overwhelming intellect is somehow superior to those of the Christians around him. I come to that conclusion for several reasons, including his claims that his book is, for all practical purposes, the best atheist apologetics book ever written. Having read Loftus’ own summary of the first part of his book, I find his beliefs to be based more in narcissism than in an honest appraisal of the strength of his arguments. (You did ask for an honest appraisal.)

JDs story may be anecdotal, but many people (including me) share his story. I don’t believe most people are worried about Loftus’ arguments or the arguments of any other atheist because many of us have experienced God in some way or another. Most atheists reject God simply because they haven’t experienced God and they have had some experience that has turned them off to God (such as being really bored in church while growing up). As a result they accept many incredibly weak arguments as somehow compelling proof of God’s non-existence.

There are many reasons that the universities are turning into hotbeds of liberalism. The first and most important is because the university environment rewards those who argue against Christianity. One rarely gets a doctorate from defending the status quo in areas such as psychology, history or religion. It is the person who puts out a wild theory and plausibly defends it in front of a panel of other anti-Christian Ph.D.s who get the doctorate. It is a mess that self-breeds. (And I agree that “Brainwashed deluded and paranoid schizophrenics can be very rational.” We just disagree on who is the brainwashed and deluded out in the world.)

You asked, “Are you scared of my book too?” I am sure I speak for JD when I say “Hardly.” Send me my free copy and I will happily read it. If the cost is of concern, lend it to me and I will return it. Just be aware that I will certainly write a rather lengthy review of it, and it is no better than your summary, it will not be favorable. (But then, that’s always been the real problem.)

BK, I used the same excuses you did for why the trend exists. No, it couldn't be for any other reason, could it? And no freebies for you. I've heard your requests a multiple times as if you need handouts or something. No, I'm confident that you'll have to get a copy of it someday, perhaps when someone you know tells you she can no longer believe and says my book put her on the road to doubt (but then it'll be too late, right?). It came out in August and it already is a textbook in five colleges that I know of (both secular and Christian) in classes on apologetics and atheism.

Oh, and can we by-pass the stuff where I'm always talking about my book, please? YOU made it an issue.

Cheers.

Layman said...For me, I've been drawn to historical books about the Christian faith. Unfortunately, there are not that many good atheist apologetics on historical arguments.

Well, well, then. I have an even more fundamental objection to historical studies which you probably need to be aware of if you want to continue arguing historically for your faith. Hint: Historical studies are fraught with so many problems which are dependent on the historian's frame of mind that some philosophers of history make the argument that we cannot know the past at all--that historical facts are all in the mind. Ahhhh, but you'll have nothing to do with this, will you? At least, not from me. And I don't agree with them. Still don't you want to know why they say this? At least take a basic 101 Philosophy of History class, or a basic 101 Historiography of Theories of History class. It'll do you certain faith wonders.

Historical studies are a quagmire, but this is something you must deal with if you continue to think historical studies support your faith. I have a chapter on it in my book introducing the whole subject.

your argument is silly. all I have to do to call you on it is point out how many shrinks say religion is good and healthy. that's the trend, not the other way. It doesn't matter if they go to church or not. they even started a whole branch of psychology to plug the healthy aspects (Transactional analysis).

Of course you are going to say they are not shrinks right? So the one's know stuff are the ones who agree with you, let me guess, now, who are the bad ones? O the one's are ok with religion right?

Goliath,

Do you have some kind of mental filter in place that makes it so you don't see how childish you sound. Again: Grow up.

JD,

Thanks for pointing me to Feser. Best book of 2009 for me so far. Your going places dude. God's got some plans for you.

the morning after the election goliath put up a comment on my blog saying "you lost christain! we won, in your face."

the problem? On my blog early taht morning (like an hour after the results came in) I wrote "Happy days are here again!" in huge red letters and had pictureso of fire works.

so i'm celibrating Obama wining and he's saying "you lost in your face blah blah"

you ask if he has a mental filter? either that or he can't read.

BKI found JD’s post and Loftus’ response to be entirely too typical of what is seen on the Internet. JD has written a really deep and interesting post responding to Loftus’ claims that Christians don’t read his work because we are somehow afraid that we will be proven wrong. JD points out, appropriately, that many Christians (such as JD and I) have a great strength of belief because we have examined the arguments made by the atheists and found them to be wanting. We aren’t running from such literature. We have read much too much of it.


John. John John, now how can you say that we are afraid to read your stuff for fear of losing or being exposed or whatever, when you wont debate me?

If anyone is afraid...come on! I would have to read your stuff to prepare for debate right? I've challenged you a number of times, why wont you debate me?

Loftus,

Oh my gosh. You are unreal. I am happy to stop hearing about your book. In fact, I promise from here forward to delete any comment to that which shall remain unnamed.

Oh, and as one last comment about it -- I don't want your book. I am just tired of hearing you talk about it. I am not requesting your book. I am suggesting you put up or shut up.

BK, I used the same excuses you did for why the trend exists. No, it couldn't be for any other reason, could it? And no freebies for you. I've heard your requests a multiple times as if you need handouts or something. No, I'm confident that you'll have to get a copy of it someday, perhaps when someone you know tells you she can no longer believe and says my book put her on the road to doubt (but then it'll be too late, right?). It came out in August and it already is a textbook in five colleges that I know of (both secular and Christian) in classes on apologetic and atheism.


I do not go to chruch John. Explain that. Does that I think Chrsitainity is untrue?

let's see what shrinks really say? shall we?



Recent Empirical Studies Prove Religious Believers have less depression, mental illness lower Divorce rate, ect.

J. Gartner, D.B. Allen, The Faith Factor: An Annotated Bibliography of Systematic Reviews And Clinical Research on Spiritual Subjects Vol. II, David B. Larson M.D., Natiional Institute for Health Research Dec. 1993, p. 3090

Quote:

"The Reviews identified 10 areas of clinical staus in whihc research has demonstrated benefits of religious commitment: (1) Depression, (2) Suicide, (3) Delinquency, (4) Mortality, (5) Alchohol use (6) Drug use, (7) Well-being, (8) Divorce and martital satisfaction, (9) Physical Health Status, and (10) Mental health outcome studies....The authors underscored the need for additional longitudinal studies featuring health outcomes. Although there were few, such studies tended to show mental health benefit. Similarly, in the case of teh few longevity or mortality outcome studies, the benefit was in favor of those who attended chruch...at least 70% of the time, increased religious commitment was associated with improved coping and protection from problems."

[The authors conducted a literature search of over 2000 publications to glean the current state of empirical study data in areas of Spirituality and health]



2) Shrinks assume religious experience Normative.
Dr. Jorge W.F. Amaro, Ph.D., Head psychology dept. Sao Paulo

[ http://www.psywww.com/psyrelig/amaro.html]

a) Unbeliever is the Sick Soul

"A non spiritualized person is a sick person, even if she doesn't show any symptom described by traditional medicine. The supernatural and the sacredness result from an elaboration on the function of omnipotence by the mind and can be found both in atheist and religious people. It is an existential function in humankind and the uses each one makes of it will be the measure for one's understanding."



b. psychotheraputic discipline re-evalutes Frued's criticism of religion

Quote:

Amaro--

"Nowadays there are many who do not agree with the notion that religious behavior a priori implies a neurotic state to be decoded and eliminated by analysis (exorcism). That reductionism based on the first works by Freud is currently under review. The psychotherapist should be limited to observing the uses their clients make of the representations of the image of God in their subjective world, that is, the uses of the function of omnipotence. Among the several authors that subscribe to this position are Odilon de Mello Franco (12), .... W. R. Bion (2), one of the most notable contemporary psychoanalysts, ..."

[sources sited by Amaro BION, W. R. Atenção e interpretação (Attention and interpretation). Rio de Janeiro: Imago, 1973.

MELLO FRANCO, O. de. Religious experience and psychoanalysis: from man-as-god to man-with-god. Int. J. of Psychoanalysis (1998) 79,]



c) This relationship is so strong it led to the creation of a whole discipline in psychology; transactionalism

Neilson on Maslow

Quote:

"One outgrowth of Maslow's work is what has become known as Transpersonal Psychology, in which the focus is on the spiritual well-being of individuals, and values are advocated steadfastly. Transpersonal psychologists seek to blend Eastern religion (Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.) or Western (Christian, Jewish or Moslem) mysticism with a form of modern psychology. Frequently, the transpersonal psychologist rejects psychology's adoption of various scientific methods used in the natural sciences."
"The influence of the transpersonal movement remains small, but there is evidence that it is growing. I suspect that most psychologists would agree with Maslow that much of psychology -- including the psychology of religion -- needs an improved theoretical foundation."

Joe,

Don't bother. He's been brainwashed. Think about it. In his own thinking, three signs of brainwashing are: 1) emotional attachment, 2) preference that your beliefs are true, and 3) wishful thinking. Loftus has demonstrated all of those signs in his comments on this blog. Ergo, he is brainwashed and facts don't enter into the fray.

There was one more - xenophobia - an us/them mentality or what have you, but I pretty sure he's showing that one too...

Loftus,

Nothing I have seen from you suggests you bring anything new to the table of historical studies. Just the opposite in fact.

Any more brazen self-promotion well render you subject to deletion.

As an outsider here I'm walking on foreign territory where I'm not really welcomed, much like if a woman talks and acts like a man among men (I'm a feminist, BTW). I must behaved accordingly, humble, ever wanting to learn from my masters, not challenging them too much, taking their decisions as final. Now I know how women feel! And if a woman steps out of line and doesn't accept the male club rules she is called a "bitch."

[Leslie this is just an illustration. No anecdotal evidence, okay? The point was that there is a parallel with how men usually expect women to act and how blacks and homosexuals and atheists are expected to act, of which I am the latter].

So be it. But don't tell me you have not exhibited xenophobia here. I'm not buying it. Otherness bothers you. I am the Other.

But I am not an idea. I am a person. You treat me as if I'm merely an idea. That's xenophobia. Hey, you can delete ideas, can't you, when they express what you don't like.

I see nothing in this comment, other than the fact that I am expressing a dissenting opinion that deserves deletion.

Joe said:John. John John, now how can you say that we are afraid to read your stuff for fear of losing or being exposed or whatever, when you wont debate me? I've challenged you a number of times, why wont you debate me?

Joe, I never said any particular person was scared. And I have repeatedly said our debate would be an uninteresting one since you're not an evangelical.

Although, let me dispense with your argument so easily that I find it interesting you think it has any strength at all.

Joe said...Recent Empirical Studies Prove Religious Believers have less depression, mental illness lower Divorce rate, ect...

Three things Joe.

1) That a particular belief is helpful has actually nothing to do with the truth of that belief. If, for instance, there is no God and the atheists of the world rape and molest and kill people randomly at will that has nothing to do with whether or not God exists.

2)However, the facts are that to have a good society we don't need God, that charitable giving is not something that Christians alone do, that Christians are probably not more healthy, and that even where we'd expect it the most godlessness is rare in our jails.

3) Ever hear of the Placebo effect? That delusional hopeful people may live better lives, even if true, merely shows us that hope causes us to live more meaningful productive lives. So? That's what we would expect to find, even if true, but in fact your studies have contrary studies I just linked to which show otherwise.

I see nothing in this comment, other than the fact that I am expressing a dissenting opinion that deserves deletion.

John,

Recently a very close friend of mine got married, and he asked me to be the best man. At the wedding, several other friends were present, one in particular who is a mutual friend from college. This friend used to be a Christian, but has since become an atheist. Now, I thoroughly disagree with this guy when it comes to Christianity. But you know what? We all enjoyed our time together. In fact, I talk to this guy on a fairly normal basis still. I consider him a friend.

But, I think he's totally wrong. I think he is separated from God and am saddened by his decision. But he's still a friend, and we enjoy talking about things, even aside from Christianity and all that.

I think BK's point, and certainly it was my point in adding the xenophobia comment, is that you exhibit this stuff just as much as anyone else. If I am xenophobic, you are just as much so. I don't have a problem with the atheist in particular. I have a problem with atheism. You're a little different though than just any atheist - you are actively pursuing turning others away from God. You're an evangelical atheist. Should not Christians, Christian apologists, and Christian leaders in general work against you?

Joe said:John. John John, now how can you say that we are afraid to read your stuff for fear of losing or being exposed or whatever, when you wont debate me? I've challenged you a number of times, why wont you debate me?

Joe, I never said any particular person was scared. And I have repeatedly said our debate would be an uninteresting one since you're not an evangelical.


But of course a debate between us would be fascinating!

Although, let me dispense with your argument so easily that I find it interesting you think it has any strength at all.

Joe said...Recent Empirical Studies Prove Religious Believers have less depression, mental illness lower Divorce rate, ect...

Three things Joe.

1) That a particular belief is helpful has actually nothing to do with the truth of that belief.

Ok so what difference does it make what shrinks think of it? You just beat your own argument.


If, for instance, there is no God and the atheists of the world rape and molest and kill people randomly at will that has nothing to do with whether or not God exists.


but that is not analogous to belief in God. If belief in God makes your life much better than not believing, and that is shown to be because our minds and bodies work the they way they should much better with belief, that is a much different argument than just saying the bad things accruing without it is not proof.

I really can't understand why atheist fall for this silly gimmick that working is not a sign that it's true. Working is a sign that it's true everywhere else.

why do they do trouble shooting for computers? hmmmm? If there's trouble it's in the design right? If the design works the way it should then it's ok right? Who makes the design? the designer get it?


2)However, the facts are that to have a good society we don't need God, that charitable giving is not something that Christians alone do, that Christians are probably not more healthy, and that even where we'd expect it the most godlessness is rare in our jails.


all of that is massively contradicted by the facts. It's time to put these little atheist myths to rest. A vast amount of data possibly a thousand studies exist to show that religious belief is better for you. Its' proved over and over again through study after study. Atheist attacks on these studies are stupid.

and you have not refuted the things I quoted. Just gain saying the evidence is not refutation.


3) Ever hear of the Placebo effect? That delusional hopeful people may live better lives, even if true, merely shows us that hope causes us to live more meaningful productive lives. So? That's what we would expect to find, even if true, but in fact your studies have contrary studies I just linked to which show otherwise.


I have disproved that garbage over and over again. you don't have a basis for your argument. you can't quote a single study that says placebos have anything to do with religious experinces.

I see nothing in this comment, other than the fact that I am expressing a dissenting opinion that deserves deletion.

None so blind.

John didn't you see my several part series on Sucker man? I have torn his crap apart. His research is at best misleading, and dishonest. that's the best thing I can say about it.

All you have to do is watch an Ingmar Bergman movie to know he's misguided about the nature of Nordic life.

Joe, my friend, you're wrong. I answered you. I'm not required to convince you that you're wrong in order to have made a good argument. My argument is very good, and unassailable. Just because you aren't convinced means nothing to me.

I hope you understand.

Furthermore, I argue against a specific religious viewpoint likened to a small limb growing out of the very large tree of religion. I'm not arguing against animism, animatism, nor ancestor worship, ethical non-theism (like Buddhism) nor the many polytheistic gods and goddesses, nor do I argue against other monotheisms like the several branches of Judaism or Islam, nor do I argue against whatever original Christianities believed, nor liberalism, nor deism. No. I'm arguing against a small sect in time, evangelical Christianity. And among evangelicals themselves there is no consensus about true Christianity, relegating certain other branches as "cults."

Christianity is best understood as a "local Christianity," one situated in a particular time and place held by particular localized people. What a particular Christian believes is a hybrid coming from schism after schism and the conclusions of hindsight through the process of syncretism. Therefore Christians believe in a local Christianity or no Christianity at all.

Your studies cannot point to any single one religion as the true one. Your studies are done from a western Christian viewpoint from the very get-go. You need to have double blind studies with people all over the world who have various religious viewpoints along with the null hypothessis, atheists, to determine the over-all results anyway.

Your debate is not with atheism. Your debate is Christianity vs. Itself, and then after that your debate is Christianity with All Other Religions.

My atheism was arrived at that by the process of elimination. You won't understand that but I think you're already on the same road.

If and when you change what you believe will fellow members here be able to treat you as Other? I guess we'll cross that bridge if and when it happens.

Cheers.

JL, I'm curious how you respond to the article Loftus wrote, and linked to, about the statistics on the religious beliefs of those in prison.

Do you dispute those statistics?

If not, how do you account for them given the emphasis you put on the psychological and social benefits of religious belief?

Joe, my friend, you're wrong. I answered you. I'm not required to convince you that you're wrong in order to have made a good argument. My argument is very good, and unassailable. Just because you aren't convinced means nothing to me.


I'm glad you like it. I don't see that it makes much sense. It's based upon wrong data, and ignoring the studies arrayed against you.

I hope you understand.

O I think I understand all too well ;-)

Furthermore, I argue against a specific religious viewpoint likened to a small limb growing out of the very large tree of religion. I'm not arguing against animism, animatism, nor ancestor worship, ethical non-theism (like Buddhism) nor the many polytheistic gods and goddesses, nor do I argue against other monotheisms like the several branches of Judaism or Islam, nor do I argue against whatever original Christianities believed, nor liberalism, nor deism. No. I'm arguing against a small sect in time, evangelical Christianity. And among evangelicals themselves there is no consensus about true Christianity, relegating certain other branches as "cults."


You would save us both a lot of trouble if you qualified it that way everytime instead of waiting until latter. Because otherwise your arguments feed into the views of atheists who don't make such distinctions.

Christianity is best understood as a "local Christianity," one situated in a particular time and place held by particular localized people.

why?


What a particular Christian believes is a hybrid coming from schism after schism and the conclusions of hindsight through the process of syncretism. Therefore Christians believe in a local Christianity or no Christianity at all.


hog wash. There is no localized version of my views. Except maybe at Perkins school of theology, maybe, but even there I was pretty much alone in certain ways.

I see my views in relief against the backdrop of Christianity as a whole thought history. In mean in contrast not "against it" in terms of being opposed to it. That doesn't make my view localized. It's relational to the whole.


Your studies cannot point to any single one religion as the true one.

Yes they do. the point to the reality behind them all, that's the true one.



Your studies are done from a western Christian viewpoint from the very get-go.

they are not done from any kind of Christian view point. Most of them are done by non Christians. Hood is not a Christian.

they have tons of cross cultural validation. this is real social science, not the pretend propaganda stuff Sucker man does but the real thing.

one of the major researchers in the studies I sue is Abraham Maslow: Jewish extraction, atheist, Buddhist leanings.






You need to have double blind studies with people all over the world who have various religious viewpoints along with the null hypothessis, atheists, to determine the over-all results anyway.


I don't want to insult you buddy. I think of you as a friend. But you really need to bone up. all the studies I talk about are double bind. All those that have appropriate methodologies that requires double binding.

The M scale has been validated in India, Iran, Asia and Sweden. It has been validated in Islam and Hinduism and secular thought.

In other words, same reality behind them all, even atheists with mystical experinces. They all relate to a transcendental signifier.


Your debate is not with atheism. Your debate is Christianity vs. Itself, and then after that your debate is Christianity with All Other Religions.


I hate to hate sound like Fritz Von Erich but right now it's with you! Prepare for the Iron claw!

;-)

My atheism was arrived at that by the process of elimination. You won't understand that but I think you're already on the same road.


you forget I was an atheist? I was saved out of the misery of unbelief. I found the truth having rejected parental teaching and culture. I through the other side, to the far side of atheism where I found God.

If and when you change what you believe will fellow members here be able to treat you as Other? I guess we'll cross that bridge if and when it happens.


I guess you are asking if I feel loved by the CADRE? They are a swell bunch of eggs. You can't find a better group. CADRE people will go above and beyond the call of duty to help a friend. I know that from personal experince.

I knew atheists who were big talkers about how they help people. When I was down, to quote Dylan, they "just stood there grinning." Not the CADRE.

Joe check out these divorce rates and get back to us.

the big Barna study done a couple of years ago shows that liberal and mainline marriages (liberal christian and mainline, ie Methodist, Lutheran (not Missouri synod), pres USA, Episcopal and the like) have a lower divorce rate than atheists.


the site you linked to is not a research organization or a study, it is a propaganda arm of the Jesus myther movement.

For the lo down on the placebo thing, just read my book. I really tear it up.

JL, I'm curious how you respond to the article Loftus wrote, and linked to, about the statistics on the religious beliefs of those in prison.

Do you dispute those statistics?

If not, how do you account for them given the emphasis you put on the psychological and social benefits of religious belief?


I have not had a chance to look at his specific data. The data I've seen used before by other atheists is a misreading of the statistics tables they use to draw that conclusion.

this topic has been dealt with her here many times. i have a thing on this very one in the social section of Doxa.

I exposed two different atheist articles for misreading the stats but they keep being used over and over again.

I must behaved accordingly, humble, ever wanting to learn from my masters, not challenging them too much, taking their decisions as final.

If I'm not mistaken, the belief that one is a martyr fighting against the status quo is another sign of brainwashing.

John, you are not being honest with us or yourself. I don't expect you to be honest with us if you won't be honest with yourself. Until you show that you are honest with us, however, your viewpoint will continue to gain absolutely no support from most of the writers and readers of this blog.


I have not had a chance to look at his specific data. The data I've seen used before by other atheists is a misreading of the statistics tables they use to draw that conclusion.


I don't know much about the data or its reliability. But, as I discussed earlier on your forum, I don't see any of this as a problem for naturalism since its easily explainable in naturalistic terms.

And that's assuming you're right that the data totally supports religious belief being beneficial (in fact, it only takes a quick google search to turn up all sorts of information about studies finding correlations between religion and many negative features of human behavior. For example, correlations between religious belief and racial prejudice. Between religious belief and sex crimes. And other things as well.

While I agree with you that there is data correlating positives with religion I think you're glossing over the data on negatives associated with religion because it doesn't suit your ideological agenda.

Religion's far more a mixed bag in its societal effects than you seem to want to portray it as.

I am right about the data, in spades. as I told you in our discussion on my board, it's reducing it and losing the phenomena to just call it "beneficial." It's not just a few "benefits" it's a totally life transformational experince.

trying to chalk it up to naturalistic causality doesn't work either.I can demonstrate at least five tie breakers that indicate we should not give credence to the counter causality arguments.

as for the prosion stuff, having looked at it now, it's just plain ridiculous. Its like I said, they just misread the table.

the claims of 60x more christians in prison are just totally laughable and based upon incompetent reading of the tables.

John,

I think you're moving the goal posts here.

In your "unassailable" response to the argument of the efficacy of faith is basically that "it doesn't talk to the truth of the worldview."

But isn't your main argument against Christianity that modernism has achieved so much? So we take your view because of the efficacy of modernism, or because psychiatrists believe it?

Come on, surely you can see the fallacies in those arguments.

Use of Content

The contents of this blog may be reproduced or forwarded via e-mail without change and in its entirety for non-commercial purposes without prior permission from the Christian CADRE provided that the copyright information is included. We would appreciate notification of the use of our content. Please e-mail us at christiancadre@yahoo.com.