Sunday, May 15, 2011

In The Box #4: May 15, 2011

Pat Condell has made a few videos about Christianity lately. If you have been turned off by Pat's style over the past year, I recommend that you give his Christianity videos a listen. I find myself agreeing with him. My point in bringing him up is a statement he makes in one of these videos: Pat likes Jesus. He can listen to Jesus all day long. Pat also believes that Jesus would absolutely despise Christianity. In other words, Jesus maybe did have some good ideas, and we just need to focus on those and ignore all of the trappings that were added later. This again jolts me into thinking of Jesus as just a regular man who had some opinions, maybe even a bit like Socrates, even if he wasn't as smart. Given the enormous weight of the stultifying, demoralizing culture of Yahweh that Jesus inherited, perhaps he could be given a break for being less articulate than the Greek philosophers.

Thoughts along these lines were floating around in my mind the other night, resulting in an interesting experience. I was watching an excellent series of videos by YouTuber Evid3nc3, talking about his own deconversion. In one of the videos he talks about a book by Catholic Bishop John Spong. Spong is an atheist who considers himself a Christian. In other words, he likes what Jesus had to say but throws out all the supernatural stuff. Presumably he also would throw out all of the cultural baggage Jesus carried around. Listening to Spong's ideas, I found myself, for the first time in my life, thinking of Jesus as just a man who looked around him and saw that the powerful were mistreating people. I found myself thinking of Jesus as a reformer, a guy who had no particular love for Yahweh and maybe didn't even believe in it. A guy who thought that traditional Judaism left way too much to be desired. A guy brave enough to buck the system. I've never been impressed with Jesus, but I've always held him to a high standard. I think I'll have to go back and study Jesus in this light. Even if all of his ideas are outdated, I might have to give him credit for introducing ideas that in his day were radical.

YouTuber Bossman103 posted some interesting questions a couple of weeks ago, in a video called "5 Questions for Atheists and Theists". Seems like we might be able to get some good discussion from these.
  1. What do you think the biggest problem with your side is?
    We have a terrible definition of the word tolerance. We want so badly to live and let live that we end up tolerating much that we should not tolerate. As just one example among many, superstitionists teaching children that they might go to hell, or that other human beings definitely will go to hell. This is obscene, and it's child abuse. There should be laws against this sort of thing, and there would be, I think, if we got rid of this notion that religion and/or tradition are some kind of carte blanche to poison the minds and abuse the bodies of children.
  2. If you could convert/deconvert five people, who would they be and why?
    • I would deconvert myself, because it would be nice never to worry about hell ever again.
    • As for deconverting other people, it's a little tricky. The primary result of deconverting some prominent superstitionist would be to score points for our side, as though this is all a game. There is already way too much "Tastes great! Less filling!" in our discourse. Deconverting someone prominent would just provide another distraction from the real issues we face, rather than advancing the conversation. I would hope to deconvert people who have the charisma to influence others, and the integrity to stick to honest and open discussion.
  3. Would you ever date anyone from the other side? Why (not)?
    It depends on how far on the other side she is. I can handle a deist. I can even handle someone who likes Jesus, provided that it's one of the less virulent incarnations of Jesus. I would never date (or even be friends with) someone who intends to worship Yahweh eternally after watching it throw me into hell. I wouldn't want to hang out with someone who makes unjustified claims and criticizes me for refusing to accept unjustified claims. I wouldn't want to hang out with someone who can't see how ridiculous most religions are.
  4. The "god" / no "god" questions.
    • If you found out there is a "god" how would it change your life or perspective on life?
      Assuming that you mean an omnipotent creator that has planted fake fossils, falsified the age of rocks, and manipulated all the DNA of every living thing to make it appear that evolution is real, just so it can fault us for not believing and then throw us into hell for all eternity, then I would fall into despair.
    • If you found out there is no "god" how would it change your life or perspective on life?
      I'm not sure I can imagine what it would be like to find out that there is no "god". I worry a lot that there really is a monster in charge of the universe, a monster that has chosen to alter my perceptions of reality in order to make it seem like science is real and religion is bullshit. If there were such a monster out there that can alter my perception of reality, there would be no way for me to know.
  5. What is the most positive thing about the other side?
    I think that most of them are probably decent people. Many of them make a habit of telling preposterous lies in order to dupe their fellow superstitionists out of their hard-earned money, but I really think that these charlatans are the exception. The reason that most superstitionists are superstitious has only a little to do with their character and a lot to do with their upbringing.

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