Tag Archives: Christianity

Why I Ran From the Atheist Crowd

Really I’m just using this as an excuse to put something out there. And what I am posting is a response to someone on Mr. John C. Wright’s site that answered me 11 days after my comment. I thought my response good enough that I would hate to see it lost in the sands of a retired blog post. Although I had to hold back because I don’t think my interlocutor is well versed in philosophy, history, theology, science, technology, logic or common sense.

First her first parlay was in response to this post

…and she writes:

Did you ever wonder why so many new, innovative, especially high-tech things that you find helpful in your life are created by teams of people who predominantly hold views opposite to yours, and find your views generally distasteful? Go to Google campus, or Amazon, or Intel, pretty much any high-tech producer – do you think you’ll find there mostly conservative crowd? Does it make you give up computers, cell phones, internet? Perhaps the whole “conservative” thing has its downsides?

To which I responded:

Hold it. Are you saying that if you hold, for instance that marriage is between one man and one woman, or that Christ died on the cross for man’s sins, that that man will be too what? Stupid, slow, uncreative, non-innovative to work in high tech, to acheive or excel in such a field? Are you attempting to establish some sort of causal link here or are you blowing gas? And what about that exceptions? Are they the ones that manage to hide their drooling in front of the high-tech lefty hero boss-boy? Or are they, somehow, perhaps miraculously, still able to perform despite their retarded ideas?

I had honestly thought after posting this that I had actually made of error in interpreting what her meaning was. Surely, Bob, you can’t think she would mean something like that? Perhaps she is merely asking why he doesn’t quit these other marvels of modern technology since such sectors are comprised of, she says, leftist and liberals.

I leave aside the fact that just because Jeff Bezos comes out for dumb idea #42 doesn’t mean the entirety of Google is behind dumb idea #42, nor necessarily the majority.

And everyone knows, should know, that businesses and corporations are hardly the test for any sort of stand on any social issue. They follow the breeze. If a majority decided to start putting minority X into ovens for extermination, you would suddenly see a bunch of brand new manufacturers of ovens. Introducing the Google 50,000 BTU Bone-Roaster!

They are no better than politicians – and no different in this regard.

Anyway, turns out I was wrong. My interpretation of her comment was right all along. You religious, you Continue reading

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Graves, Balls and Crosses

Finished Lafferty’s The Elliptical Grave on Tuesday. The whole focus of the book seems to even come at you elliptically – and at the last minute. It wasn’t until the final two chapters that it all came together. Before that I slogged through it for three weeks.

Because I thought there was nothing behind the curtain. Oh, there was something behind the curtain alright. A bet. That was what was behind that curtain. A bet of ultimate consequences.

This is one of those Lafferty books that I find slightly annoying in that, although I will want to reread it anyway, I have to reread it because I am sure I missed 99% of the fruit’s juice. He can throw so much indirection and misdirection at you (to say nothing of the constant word play) it is like coming into a joke at the punchline. You thought you were in a joke or a jest but only opaquely – and then the drum snap and the crowd laughter. Hold on! Back to the beginning.

If Lafferty were instructed to write the plain fact that a cat is on a mat, he’d entertain us for 40 pages and we still wouldn’t have a simple fact, but a multiplicity… a multiplicity that may involve a cat (a feline of some sort at least) and some derivative form of dorsal support. But the cat would have died and resurrected, or simply continued to decompose, or assumed a chair at the Institute for Impure Science and the mat would be constructed by St. Joseph himself (bonus points to whomever can guess the Lafferty reference there).

But once I got the hook. What a story! His stories are like the Spanish Inquisition – no one expects it!

Now to the balls and the crosses.

I was talking to suspected android/writing machine author (or time traveller, or possessor of the 48 hour day) John C. Wright the other day (actually he was talking, me and a few others were listening) about religion in science fiction (talk about an untapped field) and he mentioned G.K. Chesterton’s The Ball and the Cross.

Few authors will get a pass to the front of the line. G.K. Chesterton is one of the few. I already own and am a HUGE fan of his books Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man, and I love his Father Brown stories. So when I heard mention this book about a duel (and one supposes debate) between a fledging secular atheist at the dawn of the 20th century and a Christian (I suppose a stand-in for Chesterton himself although I haven’t got that far yet) well, how can one resist that?

Think of it though. That was a new creature (pretty new, anyway) in 1905. Fresh and full of vigor, and full of utopian answers that were yet to kill millions upon millions of people. Although the French had the news.

Over a century before he and his brethren whittled down the edifice of Western Civilization enough where we can start to see the prayer mats our grandchildren will be kneeling – or bleeding – upon.

This should be a fascinating read.


New Acquisition

I’ve become kind of fascinated with the resurrection subject. Seems the most in-depth book I could come across is NT Wright’s Resurrection of the Son of God (it’s a nice 740 pages in length as well!). Of course I should seek a case for the prosecution as well. Having a hard time pinning one of those down. And I have a hard time pinning down mature books on either side of the aisle. Seems all too frequent either one is written with the ease expected of an audience that is already on one side of the argument or the other.

Now a few years ago it would have been unthinkable for me to become interested in such a subject. But since I indulged in a philosophy for years from a woman who claimed to have come up with it in her first memory of herself…well, what’s a little resurrection?


The Case for Christ

I went to see a Christian movie! Does that sound unnatural to say as if it were something of a dare or something so unprecedented as to be worthy of declaration?

Well, it is a little of both really. With the exception of religious based classics of the 50’s and 60’s, most films since that time are ham-fisted embarrassments. I say that as when I was an atheist and I say it now (I should note I am as shitty at religion as I was at atheism – I am, however, a professional ass). I love the classic religious films, Charlton Heston classics Ben-Hur (not the remake!) The Ten Commandments (not the remake!) Quo Vadis (although the book was vastly superior) A Man For All Seasons and some others.

One of my favorites is Jesus of Nazareth from 1977, mostly because Robert Powell nailed it so perfectly. It was, as far as I can tell, the last of its kind. I contrast this film with the miniseries The Bible from 2013. Particularly bad was the New Testament parts where Eddie Vedder, I mean Jesus Christ (or was it the singer from Creed?) comes out of the boat with gleaming white teeth a happy smile for the kiddies ready to be everyone’s special little buddy. I call it the Delta Dental of Bethlehem Bible Special… Tinggg! To paraphrase Vin Diesel (from a trailer for what I’m sure was totally retarded XXX) “Tonight, I might be crucified, but at least I’ll look hot doing it!”

Anyway, The Case for Christ wasn’t intended to be any of those movies as it is based on a true story as told by Lee Strobel. It is basically his story of how he investigated the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ and how he became convinced of its truth. The interesting part of the story is what motivated him to begin the investigation.

SPOILERS!!!

Basically his wife, after a traumatic scare involving their young daughter, starts to turn to Christianity and faith. The couple were committed atheists. The husband rebels against this most strongly, vehemently. He is seeking a way to “save” his wife, and their marriage, from ruin. This may seem strange to some, but to some atheists leaving the fold can seem exactly like apostasy. And I’ve seen some people convert (or at least purport to convert) who turned into worse people than before they went in.

This was, to Strobel, the worst thing that could happen to their marriage so he seeks the advice of a colleague at the Tribune (he was a reporter) who was Christian how he should deal with this. The colleague, who is confident Strobel won’t win, tells him if wants to bring down Christianity it all rests on the Resurrection. As Paul said also, if that falls, the faith is in vain. Strobel takes this challenge head-on.

Without giving away the whole pie (and proceeding to do so anyway, as the spoiler sign was already posted) Strobel loses his challenge also suffering a deep personal tragedy along the way, and ends up coming to the faith as his wife did shortly before.

What was interesting, fascinating – to me anyway, was not so much Strobel’s investigation (although that was interesting as well, for instance, I had never heard of the “swoon theory” before this) but the conflict between the husband and wife. It was very well acted and didn’t even feel like it belonged on a smaller screen which sometimes these movies feel they need. That is probably because we’ve been led to expect giant boom booms! and nothing else for so long.

One aspect of this that is worthy of note is how easily this could have been any number of different films. It really pivoted on the actions and choices of the wife. He treated her change of heart as if she were being led down some dark alley of occultism. And that could have been a movie (it is probably several already) if this wasn’t based on a true story. If he were trying to save her from the cult of Jim Jones, the husband becomes a hero and all sympathy is with him. But, unless you are staunch atheist, the sympathy in the film is not with him, but her.

Because to someone who takes their atheism seriously (most of the one’s I have personally known – and probably myself included, but I just don’t know because I never even contemplated Strobel’s dilemma before my atheism wilted but, probably, most likely I’d be just such an ass – let’s say for now probably 70% likelihood of ass-ness) your wife or husband converting, even to a simple, local parish IS JONESTOWN! It is all the same, and you look upon it with all the incredulity as if your adult wife or husband were suddenly, and seriously, writing letters to Santa Clause.

What the fuck is wrong with you?! Have you completely lost your mind? Have you been a coward this whole time? So, you are just going to throw way your reason!? It’s a f***ing cult, are you blind!?

I know that reaction. I’ve reflexed that reaction (not on my wife, she’s still pure atheist) on people in the past even if I wasn’t too terribly aggressive. And I’ve seen milder versions of that reaction since I started carrying religious texts along with me the last couple years. One year at NORWESCON I took the Catechism of the Catholic Church with me for break time reading and a friend of mine seeing it said “yeew, yuck!” Without even knowing my reason for reading it nor, I’d bet, knowing a single word in the text.

To the committed atheist, no differences matter, it is all the same. Same, but all things are not equal. I’ve never heard a story of a wife or husband flipping out because one of them became Buddhist. So she lights up a little incense, stretches and chants twenty minutes every morning? It’s a little hokey but hey, I still eat Fruit Loops in the morning, so who’s to judge?

Got to get ready for work. Good film.


Great C.S. Lewis Quote

I was replying to someone in a theological debate and looking up a C.S. Lewis quote that I remembered reading awhile back. It is from an essay collection called God in the Dock. It is in chapter four, Answers to Questions on Christianity.

Question 11

Which of the religions of the world gives to its followers the greatest happiness?

Lewis:

Which of the religions of the world gives to its followers the greatest happiness? While it lasts, the religion of worshipping oneself is the best.

I doubt this is true. I have seen many a self-satisfied idolators of self (hell, I was one, I probably still am) they never look very happy to me. Drunk, maybe, not happy.


A Very Dumb Article

I found what has to be the one of the dumbest articles I have read in awhile titled: Religion’s Smart People Problem: The Shaky Foundations of Absolute Faith.

It does not take too long to grasp the author’s bias. It is in the title of the article, the subtitle and in the first sentence. The bias excuses the continual run of error that start on the first sentence and run to the end of the article.

The article starts out with a question: Should you (general reader) believe in a God?

Answer?

Not according to most academic philosophers.

But that was not the question the academics were asked. They were not asked whether other people should believe in a god, but whether they themselves believed in a god. That may sound like a minor distinction and a trivial one since what one believes one also wants others to believe. At least that is what we believe is the general goal of anyone who believes in anything.

I disagree with this. I can firmly state that when I was an atheist, I did not hold that therefore others should be also. And it was not a charitable stance on my part, I sincerely thought that some people needed such a crutch for their weakness, whatever that may have been. Another part of it was charitable. Atheism is grim, correction, serious atheism is grim. There is the modern eat drink and party on dude, there is no god and if your liver gives out at 50, fuck it, who cares, atheism. Brain dead atheism, libertine atheism (the atheism that serves the purpose of libertinism).

Atheism is grim for the philosophically minded, the sort of person who thinks in wide abstractions. Such a thing is for the abnormal.

And on that note, back to the academic philosophers. Why should one care what an academic philosopher thinks about the existence of a god (switching now to God)? The article presents the naked fact that, out of a survey of 931 academic philosophers 72.8% of them responded atheist. Why did they respond atheist? That is an end position, what are the premises? Simply stating that they do means as much as saying Continue reading


Storymatic

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[1st Note: If I had enough readers, I’d ask them whether they thought my method of starting posts with background story was annoying or boring. I find dry entries to be boring. Or the really short ones: “Found this [picture] cool.” Well, I hope the thing they are referring to is cool because their blog post is a twitter entry. I HATE TWITTER! On that note: I HATE FACEBOOK! We should have more to say than 100 characters or whatever it is (yes, I agree, some should be restricted to 2 to 3 characters) and so I hope the background story is not boring, and I do try to make them short.]

[2nd note: I reserve the right, in the future, upon having a book or story to sell, to reverse this hatred of Twitter and Facebook and shamelessly use it to sell my wares!]

{3rd Note: But that is all, I am too prolix a writer, perhaps even garrulous, for such restrictions as one can tell just from this post. GET TO THE POINT ALREADY!!!]

{4th Note: Actual subject of this post starts 10 paragraphs down!]

So we’re at the Bellevue Square Mall today to have my iPhone repaired as I cracked the screen at work. We had 45 minutes to kill. Unlike the Christians, who have 12 days of Christmas starting on the 25th, there are four to five days of Christmas in the secular calendar consisting of Christmas itself followed by four to five days known as The Great Return (where, I suppose most people return the shit they received for shit they really want – I never return – it’s rude). And I suppose they’ll have to change it to the great “buy my own shit days” because a lot of people merely buy each other cards.

Yes, I find our modern, secular Christmas to be frivolous at best, a recipe for despair at its worst.

I am not a secularist. I am also not a Christian (I lack faith in the resurrection of Christ, and that, as they say, is to lack it all) but I am a mystic.

And by that diatribe above I mean to say the mall was BUSY.

So we had time to kill because the mall was packed. Most of the stores are (way!) overpriced garment shops for women with a dress size of 2 or below and men unsure of their sexual orientation. I mentioned to the wife that what the mall needed was a really cool store. Then we turned a corner and found a really cool store called MARBLES: THE BRAIN STORE.

Although the home screen of the web page doesn’t really show it off, Marbles has all sorts of brain games. Uno can be fun if you have a child in the house but gets boring really quick. They have everything: Solitaire Chess where you learn the game in smaller pieces before you apply it to the full format. That I will probably buy in the future. Always wanted to be a decent player but never found a good strategy for improvement. Breaking something down into manageable pieces is a proven method for skill development.

There is the super trivial pursuit style game: Mindstein. Each card has five questions, multiple choice, each answer has a letter, the combination of correct answers spells out a word, you have to get the answers right to spell out the word (I suspect after 3 questions you could guess like on Wheel of Fortune). I was impressed with the questions – they were not dumbed down.

And then they have books of puzzles, the graphic logic puzzles, the hierarchical, or ordinal logic puzzles (Harry was 1 inch taller than Suzy who was taller than Gary, etc,) one book had a regular search a word that, when completed, was a summary of a literary work, and to finish you had to deduce the literary work.

I mention these because they are fun and I feel too many people nowadays focus on the body to the exclusion of the mind – and the exclusion of the soul. It is not true, is not freaking true, that to Continue reading


Bookmark

Note THIS article is something that really interests me. It kind of relates to my incomplete review of Godzilla if only remotely. I never took the resurrection of the body (as told by Christ) to be literally the actual body that one once possessed. I took it metaphorically, or, a new body, as it says.

I always assumed the resurrection of the body that they spoke of was a heavenly body, not this crude matter. I still think that is what was meant, for why raise such a body again? If it is to be the same body – literally – would it not be prone to the same failings as the original/same?

I’ll have to read the article in a more metaphysical mood. I have found over the last two years that these ideas make more sense on a certain “mental level” , or approach.

I am always leery of such trappings as attempting to bring the great mysteries into the wink of current stretchings on man’s scientific grasp. I wary of such things because I think, if we ever get to have a look under the hood of this thing called being, or existence, or Ehyeh ’ăsher ’ehyeh, no science will cover it, no human concepts will encompass it nor penetrate it. Agape, as Aristotle’s celestial bodies upon the unmoved mover will be the proper order.

I view such attempts as I do understanding heaven to be a place of harps, clouds and angels with wings. It is cute and quaint, but it is a human construct, image making – it is a tool, a map even – with the understanding that the tool is not the object and the map is not the road.

One would think that if Christ himself did not put the wonders of heaven into literal terms, how or why could we? Likewise, why assume that the resurrection of the body is literal? After all, it is a far different thing for Lazarus to arise than it is for Socrates. Or one dead for thousands or millions of years.

And, one has to wonder, why, if God made man with an immortal soul, would he have to bother with such a thing as raising an old body of scattered atoms?


That Amazing Logic

I admit I get addicted to the arguments over at Strange Notions. And sometimes I hear some doozies, here is one from this discussion.

In response to the following:

The ten commandments are only a restriction on freedom to one that does not wish to be truly free or a fully flourishing human being 😉

Comes the retort:

So you claim. A Muslim would define a fully flourishing human being very differently. As would an atheist. Yours is only one voice among thousands – and one that causes anguish and suffering for many.

I’m not concerned with the original response, and I do not agree with it. For commandments 4 -10, sure, but I would not accuse a Hindu or a Shintoist an American Indian of not wanting to be truly free or a fully flourishing human being because of the first three items.

But I do find it illustrative to bring to focus the two alternatives he does bring to bear against Judeo-Christian belief. Perhaps the person would back away if he knew the implication of his sentence. Islam does not cause anguish and suffering for many? That is merely a matter of the daily headlines.

But it is the inclusion of Continue reading


R.A. Lafferty Tomorrow!! And New John C. Wright!! And More Randian Disappointment

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Just a reminder that the first of 12 R.A. Lafferty volumes is released tomorrow! Buy! Buy! Buy! So all 12 volumes will be published and I can get them all.

Here is the table of contents for this first edition.

Contents:

  • Introduction by Michael Swanwick
  • The Man Who Made Models
  • The Six Fingers of Time
  • The Hole on the Corner
  • Square and Above Board
  • Jack Bang’s Eyes
  • All But the Words
  • The Ungodly Mice of Doctor Drakos
  • Frog on the Mountain
  • Narrow Valley
  • Condilac’s Statue or Wrens in His Head
  • About a Secret Crocodile
  • Days of Grass, Days of Straw
  • The Ninety-Ninth Cubicle
  • Thus We Frustrate Charlemagne
  • Parthen
  • The Skinny People of Leptophlebo Sttreet
  • Rivers of Damascus
  • Afterword by John Pelan (the publisher)

If you want to experience outside the normal bounds of whatever it is you have read in your life indulge in some Lafferty. If not for your own sake, then do it for mine!

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Also tomorrow is the third installment of John C. Wright’s Count to a Trillion series. So far I have loved the series. The only caveat is his tales are dense and I read some 50 – 60 books a year. I have to find some synopsis to remember exactly where the last book left off…

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I am afraid I am going to end up being one of those ex-Objectivists that end up Continue reading