Why I Can’t Imagine A Christian Skeptic…

Posted on July 28, 2010. Filed under: Atheism, Personal, Religion, Science |

Note from George:It seems as though many of my normal blog stops are on a brief summer vacation, well deserved I’m sure, leaving me with not too much inspiration for posts this week.  So to pass the time I went to the WordPress home and searched for blog posts on “atheism” and stumbled across this.

I lurked a bit on this blog and must say that although the post in question is more direct and pointed, I envy her use of language even if many of the thoughts are “bad poetry” by a logical standard.  She is definitely worth a lurk or two if you find yourself in a fighting mood.

Can I Imagine A Worse Argument? No….  Did I Just Prove Her Point?

She writes:

In fact, I asked one agnostic friend of mine if there were any fears which might attend his entertainment of just taking a “leap of faith,” and believing a thing without empirical knowledge of that thing.  His number one fear was that he would be “giving up his ability to think critically” if he were to make such a leap of faith.

We like to believe that God is an imagined or invented thing.   There are plenty of postulated reasons for our having imagined or invented him, therefore he must be imagined or invented!

A little known fact: Einstein quotes make everybody sound smarter.

Where does this come from?  Is not every theory, every model, and every practical invention of man rooted first in the imagination—and NOT in reality?  Einstein is famous for equating energy with mass, but he is not unknown for his quote, “Imagination is better than knowledge.”  Whether god is invented by man we know not; but he is most certainly “imagined” by man.  Indeed, man has no other means of approaching such a reality, than through his own imagination.

………….(edited, full comment in original post linked at top)

So, I ask, where is it that we are “giving up our ability to think critically,” when we take that leap of faith?  Aren’t we opening ourselves up more than we ever had before, when we do?

I mean, let’s face it, the skeptic has better arguments.  However, 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.

 Is imagination limited in the atheist?  Really?  As a theist, are you not equally closing the door to the suggestion that there is no God?  As a Christian (which I believe I am safe to assume the author is based on this), do you not close yourself to the imagining that Krishna, Zeus, Allah, or (insert deity here) is responsible for all you see before you? Am I less imaginative to go one God further than yourself?

I can assure her that I can imagine a world in which God(s) exist.  I will tell you that it bears little to no resemblance to the reality in which I reside.

She is correct in stating that there is more to our lives, our history and our existence then what we can grasp with our mortal fingers.  Science tells us of forgotten pasts, distant places, the incomprehensible realms  of the microscopic and atomic scale.  These are places of magic and mystery.  They are witnessed by a privileged few, but available to all through the endless toil of these intrepid explorers.  Best of all, all this is reality.  It happened and is happening,  a whole reality beyond the scope of our limited human brains.

Einstein did indeed say that “Imagination is more important than knowledge, for knowledge is limited while imagination embraces the entire world.“;  I can assure you that he meant no ill will to reality.  The greatest of scientific discoveries started rightly in the realm of imagination, but we must be sure to separate those things that cannot survive the journey from our mind to reality from those that are dreamed to existence.

To claim that I am limited within the realm of reality is fatuous and near-sighted.

The Million Dollar Question:  Can We At Once Be A Skeptic And A Theist?

I believe that one could rightly be a deist and a skeptic, with no regard for any religious traditions.  I take issue with the claim that you can be a true skeptic and a true christian of any stripe.

Oxymorons- A sign of the times?

There is so much to be skeptical of in the claims of any of our major monotheistic traditions.  The schizophrenic nature of Yaweh and Allah, the blatant plagiarism of the holy books, the lack of any empirical evidence   of a Savior born during an era of good record keeping.  All these facts and countless others must be set aside in a quest to believe the unbelievable.

I too, wanted so hard to believe.  There has always been a part of me that can’t get past the discrepancies, can’t honestly bring myself to imagine a God that doesn’t just leave me without evidence but instead gives evidence to the contrary.  I have given this much thought, I have explored the realm of faith…and I have always found it lacking.

A true skeptic follows the evidence, no matter how uncomfortable or difficult a path it is.  I have trouble imagining a Christian following a truly skeptical path and ending up knocking on Heaven’s door.

But as you said, maybe I just lack imagination…..


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10 Responses to “Why I Can’t Imagine A Christian Skeptic…”

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I call myself a skeptic, because I seriously doubt religion.

If god exists, he MUST be a society of gods, for we are social creatures. And, if god exists, then he must be acceptably known by many names and associated with diverse peoples. To say there is only one true religion and it is mine, is narrow thinking. To say, “it has nothing to do with religion,” and yet find one’s self being one day “let into” the great doors of heaven, is quite risky…and certainly takes a bit of imagination, as well as the ability to give merit to that imagination as being somehow related to something that…

may not have yet evidenced itself as “real,” but certainly gives a shadow of suggestion…if not hope, to the weary of heart.

I see your “Gods” and I raise you a god!

I adore the mythological gods, the pagan gods…I love the story of Allah…of The Great Spirit, I love the story of Jesus Christ…I have yet to hear tales of gods that do not utterly fascinate me.

I do not practice religion…sorry to let you down.

“What? A theist who who does not go to church or practice any religion?”

I know. Difficult to imagine…but it’s okay…go ahead and imagine with me, here.

The closest I’ve ever come to a positive spiritual experience which united people in fellowship and attempted to somehow connect through a god, has been through Al-Anon Family Groups, who do not associate themselves with any belief or religion at all!

I am sorry that my communication is so poor that you actually heard me say, “…imagination is limited in the atheist.”

I meant to say that,

“…modern thought increasingly limits imagination…as well as emotions and value judgments, and is largely suspicious of these.”

I hope you have a nice day, and thank you for visiting my site.

Kate.

Kate,
I see I ruffled a few feathers with my comments. I apologize as I have obviously offended you.
My Einstein comment was not in any way meant to imply that I believe you uneducated. It was meant as humour, and obviously missed the mark in this case. I hope you can take a moment to learn the difference between someone attacking you personally and someone making light of a disagreement. Your idea are no less valid than anyone else’s, and no less valid than mine. I enjoy being put to task for my beliefs, I took your welcome audio message to imply that you felt the same. No bother, I will apologize and move right along then.
I do however, stand by my assertion that

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.

sounds to me as a verdict about the imaginative powers of the irreligious.

I mentioned that I lurked before commenting, and I cannot help but question your pedigree as a deist. I may stand corrected, but this post does not reflect a conversation between a deist and an agnostic.
It betrays a very different spirituality.

I will let it rest at that then; I stand by my post, but your objections are duly noted. I will only further this discussion at your request.
Again, my apologies for any grief I have caused you, I thank you for taking the time to respond.
George.

Oh, and by the way. I had never heard that, about referring to Einstein…

…but, now that you mention it, he does make me feel smarter than I actually am:)

Remember something. Whether a person’s IQ is 85 or 147, each of us enjoys thinking and writing, just the same. You don’t have to be so harsh on those whose IQ’s may not be as high as yours.

I took “logic” in college, and flunked. I just didn’t have the smarts to follow it. I took it again, and flunked. I kept trying and couldn’t master it. To this day, I feel logically dyslexic!

But that does not mean I do not enjoy thinking about stuff and writing down my thoughts in a poetic sort of creative, non-fictional narrative manner.

Here are a few rhetorical questions. Because a young girl misunderstands what she has read, does this mean she should just stop reading altogether?

If a person is mentally challenged, should he be prevented from thinking…or judged because he can’t think as broadly and magnificently as his peers? Is his thinking not “critical,” because it is inferior to that of his much more intelligent peers?

The comment was childish.
Guess what? On my blog I reserve the right to be childish whenever I please. You also reserve the right to attempt to turn this into a debate on whether or not I am a giant ass.
There is no debate.
I most certainly am.
You could also have addressed my argument, which you seem less inclined to do.
Don’t count me as surprised though, that you would choose one sentence that has nothing to do with the overarching criticism of your post and choose to make that your focus. I do the same thing from time to time when I know my original argument lacks merit.

I stand firm that you are most decidedly a fair weather Spiritualist- happy to be a decided Christian when it serves you and to paint yourself as a deist when it suits your argument…. I am not fooled, and I am not so green that I don’t recognize the bait-and-switch.
You do not publish a pantheistic or deistic blog. You publish a Christian blog. That is not even open for debate-no matter what you claim in your comments to me. As recently as May 8th, 2010, you were rambling on about the Kingdom of Jesus, and referring to yourself as “Christ’s foot soldier”. In fact, for a pantheistic or deistic blog you mention only one religion other than Christianity…. Judaism.
Do you have an explanation for this?

So we can both agree I am a fantastic asshole.
God, I love finding common ground!!

I’m not a deist. I am a fideist.

I apologize for not being more light hearted yesterday. I quit smoking a week ago, and I am an emotional mess.

I apologize for not addressing the things you had argued. I actually think your argument is excellent. How can you argue about opinions, though? It is your opinion that I believe the athiest and the agnostic have a limited imagination.

It is my opinion, that you guys limit emotion, imagination, etc. more than I believe is necessary.

I don’t know what to do to amend this. I’ve obviously done damage yesterday, when I was an emotional basket-case.

I am the ass, let’s get that straight.

I subscribed to your blog. I think what you have to say is very interesting…

I agree that there is so much to be skeptical about with the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic gods…

But a fideist takes a blind leap of faith, anyway. My belief is not based in logic, but in emotion. I hope you don’t think me an idiot for that, but it’s the truth.

I don’t know why I posted the post and tagged them with “atheism,” and then when someone came to comment, I turned and ran like a baby…I can’t tell you why.

Forgive me, if you can.
I’ll try and do better in the future.
Kate.

Okay, I’m Christian. It’s sucks that a person has to be embarrassed about that little matter, these days. Yes, I am very unspiritual…I wouldn’t even go so far as to call me fair-weather. And you are right, I reserve god for when all else has failed.

You aren’t an ass–I am the ass.

I think I can write some decent essays, but in reality, I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about…I try to “critically” think, but still can’t see the flaws you all are seeing.

Maybe I am blind to the truth? Anyway, I feel terrible about all this. I value you and think I was just unable to argue against you. Your argument killed mine. You won. I should have just admitted you had the better argument from the get go. I am sorry I did not.

Kate,
I hate that we got off on the wrong foot.
I do not want you to interpret my words as hostile as much as inquisitive. There is, I believe, a kernel of truth to any idea that has been subject to intellectual scrutiny. I enjoy people taking me to task for my ideas and beliefs, many of which are forged in the fires of faith but must be plied and molded into a material form.
I should think you should not be embarrassed to be a Christian. Many of my dearest friends are Christians, and although I don’t agree with them on that particular count, I certainly value their ideas and input. We are all in search of Truth regardless of where our epistemological chips fall. I personally just want my beliefs to stand or fall on their merits, something that I found especially difficult as a Christian.
I cannot possibly understand why you would term yourself “unspiritual”- this stands in sharp contrast to the theme of your blog. Just because one is unsure of where their heart and their head make peace does not make one “unspiritual”. Spiritualism is at once a journey and a destination, you should endeavor to enjoy the long road; twists, forks, and all.
I also hope that my post left you with the impression that atheism is not a rebuke against awe, wonder, imagination, or spirituality. Each of these manifest themselves uniquely in every human mind, no less or more in the atheist.
I hope we can continue our discussion, and I hope you don’t look for “winners” and “losers”. When we find a whisper of truth, for better or worse to our fallible intuitions, there can be only winners.

Kate,
Let’s start from scratch.
I like your ideas, even if I don’t agree with them. You are a gifted writer, one I think is struggling with questions all intelligent people ask. Don’t discount your ideas…..challenge them.
Please be patient with me. I try to be a fair inquisitor, even if at times a harsh one.
Oh, and congratulations on your decision to stop poisoning yourself slowly. I hope one day to travel that same difficult path.

I like you challenging me. I did a lot of thinking about all you said and I’ve posted a new podcast in response…we need to sharpen each other, even if it is a bit painful. I hope you have some time to listen to my podcast. You really do make a difference, so keep doing what you are doing.

Misplaced Grace…hmmm…I do not think such a thing exists, but I could be wrong. I commend you for your strength to take the line you take, for I know it is not an easy line to take.

Yours Sincerely,
K.L. Johnson

[…] 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 […]


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