Archive for August, 2010
Note from George: This is a response to a comment over at my friend Kate’s blog Just Another Inkling. She asks me why I want to take away her God, even if he is imagined. What is the motive for attacking personal belief?
First To Dispense With The General Answer
I can understand the frustration felt by many theists when they encounter anti-religious sentiment on the internet:
“Even if I am wrong about God, what harm does it cause?”
“Why does it matter so much to you if I am a Christian?”
“Why do you need to question my personal beliefs when they do no harm to you?”
The answers to these questions are simple.
If it were as simple as a personal, internal belief system it would not really matter. If you were suffering a delusion (and you may not be) that had no bearing on how I or others lived our lives then I would be less inclined to question it. The simple answer is that it does have an impact on the lives of others, and we’re not just talking butterfly wings here.
The belief in a dogmatic religious system leads to an Us vs. Them dichotomy, where religions sow the seeds of xenophobia and moral superiority. I am not moral, or less moral, because I lack a personal relationship with your God.
My feeling is that this comes from religion’s assertion that it has a monopoly on truth. If a theist believes that theirs is the greatest truth, then anyone not accepting that truth must be faulty in some way. When you agree that someone is faulty, it naturally leads to trying to describe those faults.
If someone had an “imaginary friend” but lived their life in such a way as to not let that interfere with their interaction with others, it is doubtful that they would find themselves in a mental hospital. If your imaginary friend insisted that you shout obscenities at anyone who could not see her, then you would likely find yourself in the care of medical professionals.
I am not saying God is necessarily imaginary, and I’m certainly not saying that God impels theists to shout obscenities at atheists. I am implying that religion is not strictly “personal”. It forces its own beliefs into the world I live in. It asks that as a society we afford it special privilege in spite of expansive evidence to the contrary. It asks us to maintain archaic moral judgments so as to not offend its believers.
The reasons to fight back are twofold: (more…)Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 7 so far )
Note from George: This is a response to a comment and new post over at my friend Kate’s blog Just Another Inkling. For a reader seeking the full context of this discussion between our blogs, it will be necessary to read these posts in this order. I will attempt to give context where possible. I want to seize on a few things Kate has said recently….
The central theme of our discussion has revolved around the following questions:
(Kate should indicate if I stand corrected or need to expand this list)
- Is there a difference between the way in which a theist and atheist think which predisposes someone to that line of thought? Does the theist gain some advantage in trusting intuition more than the atheist?
- Is it possible to be both a skeptic and a Christian?
- Is there a valid argument for a personal God in the Christian tradition? For any God period?
I believe we are at a bit of a logjam at question #3. I would like to hone in on a few points made in posts on her site.
Her newest post is Let’s Objectively Imagine the Perfect God where she begins to lay out a case for her personal God using an allegory. This stems from my comment of whether a case can be made for a personal God that is divinely inspired as opposed to man made.
I want to first question why her God need be perfect, and whether “perfection” is a state that can be gleaned from the evidence at hand.
From my comments:
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I think that religious folks are always seeking a “perfect God”, and I don’t find that philosophically tenable. If there is one constant in the universe, one that has never been shown to have exception, it is the lack of “perfection”. In fact, I would say that the religious concept is partly born of the dichotomy between right and wrong, good and evil, moral and amoral and the lack of any semblance of perfection within those systems. We only have an abstract concept of perfection as a “lack of fault”, yet this state cannot exist.
What decision could be perfect? Is there not always a trade-off? I can make a decision that is better than another one, but we must always assume that there is some shade of gray to every choice. Perfection is an abstract, it does not exist. (more…)
Apologetics & Apostasy Pt.4- My Christian Friend Kate Takes Me To Task: Imagination and Deism Edition
Note From George: This is part 4 in my series on Apologetics and Apostasy. It is a bit of a tangent from my other posts on the subject, posted in response to a conversation I have been having with Kate over at her blog.So this post is both part of my series and also a response to her post “In Response To My Atheist Friend“. Please visit her blog to get the full context of quotes used.
On The Differences Between Lacking Imagination And Worshiping It
From Kate’s original post:
…..the skeptic limits reality to that which he can perceive with his current senses.
The theist, on the other hand, has a broader sense of reality, albeit the aspects of reality which lie below the surface of his sense perception, exist primarily in his imagination.
I have said before that I don’t believe that atheists lack imagination. The key distinction lies in where we draw the line between our imaginations and our credulity. It is not a lack of imagination so much as a careful effort scrutinizing what parts of our expansive imaginations can make a leap into our material reality.
I can, and have, imagined the principles behind a perpetual motion machine. I have on many occasions tried to work through a concept for an energy multiplier. I do this for fun, knowing full well that this concept could not possibly come to fruition. Why?
Because it is direct conflict with the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Perhaps I might stumble across a new means to reduce voltage loss in my experimentation, but the concept of perpetual motion is off the table save my imaginations of it. (more…)Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 12 so far )
At the risk of turning this blog into George’s Poetry Corner, here is an explanation of my blog title.
It comes from a poem that I wrote several years ago. I hate the poem, I find it goes all over the place and is slightly sloppy. I don’t like all those bible references in the poem, but I suppose they reflected where I was at back then. It is a religiously infused atheist poem, or about becoming “nearly atheist”. I did however, love the concept of “Misplaced Grace”, which I stole to give a title to this blog.
An explanation follows the poem:
You sought me out in earnest
when searching for my Truth
did place my hand upon Your Word
and look to it for proof
I left not thine commandments
I made them my daily bread
the burden placed
Your Misplaced Grace
to place Him in my stead.
I sought you out for answers
I kicked against the goads
my knees were never grounded
though I travelled many roads
Though I left not thine commandments
when my heart began to lurch
I saw no trace
of your Misplaced Grace
to aid me in my search
You left me in the desert
to find my own way home
and in those forty days I walked
no mercy was I shown
I left there Thine commandments
in those countless grains of sand
the resting place
for my Misplaced Grace
I hope You understand……
That was the last real religiously themed poem I wrote. I consider it one of my weaker works. I sometimes consider re-writing it and keeping the title but trashing the rest but at the same time I keep every poem I write to remind me of where I was at that place in time.
Misplaced Grace holds a double entendre for me. Originally it was a pun on its own redundancy, as by my Christian definition of grace it is by its nature misplaced or undeserving. I liked to use the expression frequently in my religious days.
When I started to “bend with the breeze” I also liked this term for its conjuring of the bible verses in Eph. 2:8 and Gal. 1:15 where we are afforded grace by God and charged with faith and works. These verses are the basis for the doctrine of Sola Gratia, and I like the idea that I have misplaced my grace afforded by God.
I also felt at the time that Grace was a reciprocal relationship, in that by our taking of the faith we afford to God our grace- and as an atheist I would argue that grace afforded to God is misplaced as well. No reasonable person should read the bible and arrive at the conclusion that grace to God is warranted.
So now you know how bad poetry and bad apologetics can lead to a kick-ass blog name.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 4 so far )