Agnosis Skeptikos

The introspective wanderings of a one-time Christian turned agnostic

Archive for July, 2007

Lose the Sneer – It Doesn’t Wear Well On You

Posted by agnosis on July 26, 2007

Robert Sawyer highlights a book that presents the atheistic viewpoint without all the snideness and biting remarks. One quote from Sawyer brings up something I’d like to address:

Well, some atheists reacted negatively to my piece, and several said I was setting an impossible standard because one couldn’t talk to religious people without becoming sneering and arrogant, since, well, atheists are right, right, right, and any idiot should be able to see that.

I much prefer Sawyer’s approach to presenting atheism. Granted, I’m not a full-blown atheist; I’m not wholly willing to rule out the notion that something may have brought everything we know into being. There’s no evidence to prove there is an intelligent creator, but by the same token, there’s no evidence that there isn’t, either. It’s this very fact, in part, that has caused me to turn my back on Christianity because so many Christians are willing to just throw logic, rationality, and well-proven evidence right out the window when such things conflict with their beliefs – and they often do so with sneering, condescending attitudes.

On the other hand, however, I have much the same complaint against a fair number of atheists and agnostics, who themselves adopt sneering condescending attitudes because, as Sawyer’s quote above demonstrates, many of them believe it is the only way to deal with those who hold religious beliefs. Frankly, it’s the fact that so many atheists are so condescending that prevented me for so long from giving up my faith – and it’s part of what prevents me from converting to full-blown atheist (the other part being the aforementioned lack of evidence pro or con for a creator).

So, it’s refreshing to see Sawyer embrace an approach that doesn’t involve sneering and condescension and to point out another author who does the same. There’s hope yet that there are a few people out there who are willing to be grownups.


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Challenging Faith

Posted by agnosis on July 20, 2007

I realized something a long time ago but never really explored the topic then. The reasons for ignoring it at the time are ironic to me now.

Christians ignore topics that challenge their faith for one primary reason – they are afraid that said topics will actually undermine their faith. Essentially, they would rather bury their heads in the sand and pretend that the issues that have been raised don’t exist than acknowledge the issues as they are and take the risk that they might be proven wrong. I believe that, for the most part, they are afraid to explore these issues in detail because they might suddenly find that their long-held beliefs really are as insubstantial as vapor. They’ve been so secure in their beliefs for so long that finding out suddenly that they might have been wrong all this time would rock their world in a frightening way.

For the longest time, I disregarded the findings of science. So sure was I of my religious beliefs that I was certain that, in certain areas of research, I was sure that science must be wrong. After all, man is finite, as is his understanding of the universe. Therefore, to my way of thinking, some of his findings in the realm of science could easily be wrong. It’s not like that hasn’t happened before, you know? Now, of course, I realize that some of the things we know about the universe now could still be wrong, but I’ve come to a place where science trumps religious faith. The evidence is just too overwhelming, and science and my former faith conflict at various points in such a way that both simply can’t be right. And when science displays testable theories that have been verified time and again, I discovered that it is the faith that must be set aside. There are simply too many things there that don’t add up in the face of scientific evidence. Add to that the fact that so many Christians behave in very unChristian-like ways, and I find that faith has soured in my mouth.

Give me evidence and hard facts. Those make sense to me. Faith no longer does.

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