Jenny sent me Letters from a Skeptic by Dr. Gregory A. Boyd and his father, Edward K Boyd.
The book is a collection of correspondence between father and son, with the son being a Christian apologist and the father a skeptical unbeliever.
My first thought was to consider the book as just the material between the covers – find out what the relationship was – because, by the end of the correspondence, the father becomes a Christian.
The book was published as a guide to teaching Christians to communicate with the unbelievers within their circle of family, friends, maybe coworkers – people that you physically know.
Within that limited context, I did not expect the father to be an actual non-believer and skeptic, because most believers of these sorts, do not encounter actual skeptics. They encounter people who’ve been exposed to the religion as a given in childhood, but who have, over time, become disenchanted, disengaged and distant.
Which is a very different thing than a person who arrives as a realization that the premises upon which religion is founded, are baseless, unproven and no different than Santa Claus or Scientology.
I refer to Scientology in the sense that it’s origins are well documented – it was invented by L Ron Hubbard to make money and provide a universe for his science fiction writings to exist with.
In many ways, Xena the Warrior Princess can show us how religion works.
If you removed the gods and goddess characters from the Xena and Hercules shows – most of the episodes would remain unchanged – both Xena and Hercules lived their lives and carried out tasks based in the needs of the people in front of them.
They helped villages from being destroyed by warlords, retrieved stolen property and generally went around protecting people from harm.
If those programs only showed these episodes, they would still have been fun adventure stories – Xena and Hercules lived their lives based in the realities of their world and environment – despite the very real evidence that they had that the gods existed – Hercules being a half-god and both being able to talk to and interact with, the various gods.
But what if us as the audience didn’t get to see the gods or goddesses – we only saw what was evident in the world – characters who are then carrying out anything as being the will of gods or goddess then have some explaining to do about why they are sacrificing children or virgins….
And this is where the rubber meets the road with anyone who lives, not as if their religion is one possible one of many explanations, but rather as if their religion is the only possible explanation.
Which is why believers rely on Pascal’s Wager and binary restrict the options as either they are right or they are wrong – and they won’t accept they are wrong.
By getting dragged into the discussion on their terms, we have already lost.
Which is why the discussion has to change to being their terms.
So, the conversation can’t be religion vs science – but rather – religion vs naturalism.
Naturalism being the reality that the rest of us live in, science which is the study of nature, philosophy which is the study of the nature of existence, arts which is the study of humanity and how we interact with the components of our society and history.
We need to engage the religious and bring them into the natural reality in a way that allows them to keep their religious reality bubble inside them, but nested within an awareness of the natural world – being socially capable of functioning in a complex society with diversity and range of behaviours within a modern secular society.
Anyway, that’s the context that I am reading the book in.
I will go over the letters and discussion in future posts.
a fine example of calm-mongering
Why do so many people believe in God if there isn’t one?
Because people who get to be powerful enough to run the religion ensure that not being in the religion means death or social exile.
This is why any group that a religion doesn’t like is characterized as immoral, criminal, stupid and willful children.
People are herd animals, so we follow the leader for the most part.
Plus, accepting a claim because many other people do or it’s traditional, is a fallacy of false authority – either by the masses or so called “ancient wisdom”
Just because a belief is long held, doesn’t make it true. You can in fact, eat and go swimming.
I would rather believe as not to believe.
I’d rather eat chocolate than not, but you can’t spend your life eating chocolate and you shouldn’t put at the center of your life a collection of stories that bear no resemblance to reality. Instead, put that effort into giving yourself value and meaning in your actual cultural context.
We left stone age and bronze age technology and cultures behind, so should these lingering ideas that are religion.
I agree that there is a lot of unanswered questions, but there has to be a higher power.
We don’t know the answer, so it’s left blank.
We do not need to insert evil skydaddies who cause so much pain and suffering by their retarding scientific and social progress as well as messing people up around sex and other natural behaviours.
The cost of believing is too high to be decided on a shallow comfort level and personal preference
The false comfort of thinking someone’s awake at the switch is not as comforting as understanding there’s not only no one at the switch, but there’s not even a switch.
Life is what we make it – as a group and individually. That’s not a bad thing.
Just because we don’t have the answer, doesn’t mean that there “has to” be any higher power or even an answer.
To call that higher power God is acceptable.
That is a slippery slope fallacy – because the believers are not finding a middle ground by insisting on a higher power that we’ve happened to name god.
The answer, if there is even one, is blank. Not higher power for the sake of conversation, we’ll call god.
There’s also no reason to assume that any “higher power” exists, is aware of us and really, if there is a higher power – then the obsession with worship and what people do with their genitals make it a rather egotistic and immature power – and that seems rather below humans – not above us.
I would become depressed if I had to believe
in no God.
Take control and responsibility for your own life, how you are, what you do and what kind of person you are.
If you don’t think you can do that without an invisible friend watching over, think about swimming. At some point the water wings have to come off and you have to be responsible for your own buoyancy in the water.
I expect that if people really sat down and thought about how the “holy” text describe the various gods – they are all pretty violent, petty, egotistical, judgemental, blood thrity and impossible to please. If you were raised by a parent like that, you’d run away at best or kill them in their sleep at worst.
Why worship a god who would be a rally crappy person?
I find it depressing that there’s an idea of a god, but all the characteristics are so terrible. Is that really the best we can do to make up a god?
Take a day and try to pretend that there’s no god. The world didn’t change, the sky didn’t fall. Keep trying it, a little longer each day.
Accepting things as they are, rather than how you would like them to be, is a lot less stressful and that makes for a happier life.
Trying to please someone who can’t be pleased, always finding yourself lacking and not good enough – there’s already too many people in each of our lives telling us we can’t do things or aren’t good enough – why be one of that chorus – and worse, give it authority by adding god to the naysayer roster.