Showing posts from June, 2014

Authenticity: Reflections on Why I Lied to Myself About the Existence of God

I recently watched a video by the philosopher Peter Boghossian about being authentic.  By being authentic he means being honest with yourself as well as others, being honest with what you can know and the limits of your own knowledge, not obfuscating just to cover up the fact that you may not know, and admitting uncertainty when you simply don't know instead of making shit up. The lecture got me to thinking about how religious people often deceive themselves when it comes to their faith. But instead of pointing out all the obvious lies of staunch religionists and Christian apologists, I want to look back at my own self-deception. First off, let me just preface this with the disclaimer that I fully understand why people continue to believe. Just because I believe they have told themselves a fib and bought into it doesn't mean I think all religious believers are excessive compulsive liars.  The main thing to realize is that we are often inculcated an

Naturalism: Is it Defensible? I think so. Here's why.

Over the course of debating with theists online, I find there is a world-weariness that plagues many theologians and apologists. Some theologians, like Alvin Plantinga, feel that Ontological, or metaphysical, Naturalism is invalid, even incoherent  (which professional philosophers responded to in kind ). In a recent discussion over at Mike D's blog the A-Unicornist, a theist raised the common criticism of Naturalism, stating that "No amount of empirical observations can derive the proposition that the natural world is all that exists. This jump can only be made by metaphysics. Similarly, it is only metaphysics that can lead us to theism." This is a true statement. But it's also sort of beside the point. I tried to explain why in my follow up response. I wrote: The naturalist doesn't have to operate on the assumption that the natural world is necessarily all there is. Merely that it  appears  to be all there is. Whether this is an illusion and

Theology Driven Apologetics is Bankrupt Because It's Still Apologetics!

As I edit my response to Christian theologian and apologist Randal Rauser, I have come to the conclusion that ALL forms of apologetics are bankrupt. When I first set out to read Randal Rauser's book The Swedish Atheist, the Scuba Diver, and Other Apologetic Rabbit Trails , I was hoping that a theologian might offer something in the way of a more sophisticated, perhaps even original defense (or apology) for his faith.  As it turns out, the only main difference is that Randal Rauser can obfuscate twice as well because he has a wealth of theological terminology to pull from. But even so, that doesn't change the fact that poor reasoning is still poor reasoning.  Consider these two examples from his book: It seems Randal is confused about atheism. In his book The Swedish Atheist he has his fictional atheist say: "Atheism is simpler than theism. We can explain everything in the world without positing the existence of a magic sky God."

Blasphemy Laws

My essay on blasphemy has been published on the Human Rights For Atheists & Agnostics blog! Apparently it's the first one to have been selected too. Kewl beans! I hope you will all check it out, as it is a very important movement. In the essay I point out things such as: [I]n a world without religion there would be no such thing as blasphemy. In fact, the very notion of offending religious sensibilities can only be erected under the umbrella of religious faith. Outside of religion, however, blasphemy is by and large a meaningless concept. Also, please sign the petition to abolish anti-blasphemy laws if you haven't already. Many people, both religious and secular have already signed it. You can find the Human Rights for Atheists & Agnostics on Facebook here (after the jump). Thanks!

Why I Changed My Mind About Marriage and Monagamy, and Why Open Marriage Makes More Logical Sense

I am a huge fan of the hit television series Elementary . It stars Johnny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes in modern day New York City of the 21st century. His partner, Joan Wattson, is played by the elegant and sexy Lucy Liu. The show is quite brilliant, and I prefer it to Steven Moffatt's gimmicky Sherlock , even though I love Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. At any rate, there is a great speech made by Johnny Lee Miller's Holmes in the second season where he rants about the cultural tradition of marriage. He completely dismantles how artificial it is, how culturally contrived, and how it is analogous more to a prison sentence than any kind of genuine expression of love. At the end of his speech I literally jump up out of my seat and cheered. Not that I don't like a good wedding. Weddings are fun. I like the festivities of it all. I, unlike Sherlock Holmes, like the unabashed expressions of love. But that doesn't change the fact that monogamous marriage

Sunshine: Why It’s a Great Science Fiction Film

My brother-in-blog Mike Doolittle took a break from writing on religion and philosophy for a day to talk about the science fiction feature Sunshine, directed by Academy Award winning director Danny Boyle (Slum Dog Millionaire, 127 Hours, 28 Days Later, Trainspotting, etc.). Mike’s article, The (pseudo) science of the film "Sunshine" , nitpicks the minor scientific blunders of the film. He claims that: “…in the case of Sunshine, the science was butchered so badly that it actually affected my suspension of disbelief. Some of it goes back to long-overused tropes, like freezing almost immediately when you're exposed to the vacuum of space, or a big whooshing decompression that sucks everyone into space. My good friend and comrade in blog, the mighty Tristan Vick, remarked that he loved Sunshine and told me it was ‘the most scientifically accurate movie I've ever seen.’” Mike then proceeds to list all the scientific flaws he could detect in the film.

A Brief Reflection on Death

I am reposting my response from Mike D's ( The A-Unicornist ) article "On Death and Dying," which is worth a read.  The reason I am posting it again here is because it captures, in brief, my thoughts and feelings on the subject of death (you know, just in case you were wondering). It also fits with the last two posts which have been about Japan's influence on my spiritual journey and worldviews, from when I was still a practicing Christian till now, an ardent atheist. Having spent so much time in Japan, one of the things that I find fascinating is how much the concept of death, especially related to Buddhist observances, makes up such a profound part of the cultural identity. Even the beloved picnics under the fading cherry tree blossoms is a sanguine reminder that our time on earth is fleeting. In fact, this notion is so ingrained in Japanese culture that the ancient samurai would embroider the patterns of cherry tree blossoms into their a

Would I Still Be a Christian if I Hadn't Come to Japan? Part 2: How ANew Perspective on Life and Love Helped Set Me Free

In my personal testimony about my deconversion, of which you can find an extended version of in my recent book Beyond an Absence of Faith (or which you can read the short version on this blog by clicking here ), I talk about meeting my Japanese wife and how it was through her that I learned that the Christian beliefs I have elevated as paragons of holiness, reflecting the love of Jesus Christ and God, were in point of fact entirely and wholly inferior to the love expressed through the worldview of a Japanese woman who was raised in a secular Buddhist home and who didn't believe in any God or gods.  Needless to say, this revelation shocked me deeply. Which is why I stated that Learning to respect other people's beliefs is often the catalyst which forces you to re-examine your own. It's only after you have stepped outside of your inherited worldview, and experienced a differing worldview, can you truly begin to see it for what it is. This can be a daunting t