Ever since my initial link to this site, I’ve been following it with interest. Why? I don’t know if I can put the reason into words sensible enough to be written in the middle of the night; but possibly because I’m a little surprised that there is a need for atheists/agnostics/people who are questioning their faith/people who are in the process of rejecting their faith to have the kind of group support that this blog provides. And because I find some of the discussions interesting.
Right up front, let me declare myself (for those who haven‘t watched me spar with Harry on this subject). I’m a believer of the Christian persuasion. My reasoning can be found here and here and even here, to some degree.
The long and short of it is that I’m a Christian because I choose to be. As an anthropologist and as a person who grew up in a society that allows for far more possibilities than are found in anyone’s philosophy — while steadfastly swearing allegiance to the Bible — I cannot accept the material world as all that is, which is what seems to me to lie at the bottom of any atheist discussion. There is a fundamental, political arrogance that lies at the bottom of atheist theory that turns me off; as a person from the so-called Third World, I choose not to accept the idea that all the theories about life and the world that at least half of my ancestors — if not most of them — believed are in error, which becoming an atheist would force me to do.
I choose not to label the wisdom of the elders as “superstition”, which appears, unfortunately, to be part and parcel of the atheist creed, and I choose to see the material world and what we can learn about it as a part of the truth, and a huge and very useful part of the truth, but by no means not all of it. I tend to regard agnosticism as more honest, and more politically palatable. The fundamental truth is that we do not know what lies beyond our experience (which for some people is a religious experience and for others is a material one, and both experiences are similarly bounded by our physical and physiological limitations), and to assert that we do know is fallacious.
The difference, of course, is that religious people believe in revelation, while atheists and agnostics don’t, and there’s not a whole lot any human being can do to change either perspective.
What interested me about the De-Conversion site is that its purpose is to provide a place for the critical consideration of religion, primarily Christianity. I agree wholeheartedly with its stated aim:
We believe the teachings of Judaism, Christianity, & Islam, based on the perceptions and myths of a nomadic ancient Middle Eastern tribe, should be viewed critically – as should the holy books of these religions. This blog attempts to critically, but respectfully, address issues with these religious ideologies, especially Christianity. If you are a skeptical, de-converting, or former Christian, you may find these discussions interesting.
and many of the discussions are indeed interesting. But I confess that they are also sometimes a little predictable, rather to my disappointment, possibly because the Christianity with which most discussions engage is in reality the sort of legalism that the Christ I believe in condemned, if the writer of John’s Gospel is to be trusted.
I’ll leave it there for now. The night is indeed too advanced for me to make this discussion make sense. Let me sum it up thus: at times the discussion on De-Conversion, rather than addressing real solid issues of belief and non-belief, appears to be attacking the straw man that fundamentalism has created of itself, and thus perpetuates the same error of argument that fundamentalists themselves do. Neither the Christianity that has appeared in recent posts nor the lack thereof that many fundamentalist discussions latch onto have much relation to the vast range of human belief, ritual, or behaviour, to my mind, which is why I don’t always find the arguments as satisfying as they could be.
Ah well. I’m a good one to talk. The night is not young, and I’m off to bed. Good night.