Saved From Intellectual Suicide

sent in by Chad

Before I describe the details of my de-conversion, I’ll describe why I converted to Christianity in the first place.

My family background is marked by extreme dysfunction. The hippy sub-culture of drugs and rock-n-roll hijacked both my mother and father’s mind; so much so, I was conceived, carried to term, and birthed under the influence of weed and coke–my umbilical cord was a super-highway of drug trafficking. A dynamic duo of drug-dealing white trash; this constituted their career and the deleterious environment I was raised in–exposed to everything from vulgar language to domestic violence, which lead to placement in foster care for two years.

From the beginning of my childhood, consequently, recidivism consumed my father’s life and rendered him a classic deadbeatdad. And my mother, who was his co-defendant, received a sentence of probation, yet, she continued to live a life of crazy instability throughout the entirety of my adolescence. Needless to say, I was deprived of a nurturing family unit, and as a result of the neglect, forced to parent myself in terms of discipline, structure, emotional support, and even material provisions; a corollary of which was struggling to maintain independence or at least a slight quality of life between the ages of 15–19. Dilapidated apartments, numerous roommates, over worked/under paid jobs, Ramin Noodles/ Tuna Fish, and angry bill collectors defined this period of my life. I was in a state of desultory funk; a sense of meaning/purpose impossible to attain but so desperately desired. Thus, religion enters as my crutch.

“Oh God...I feel so down and out...I need your help...please forgive me...I need you...I commit my life to your will...just please help me find happiness...my life is nothing...I have nobody but you”

Not verbatim, but this was the approximate prayer I spewed, with tears streaming and hands raised while kneeling at a church alter after the “there is a whole in your heart that can only be filled by God” sermon. The type that exploits one’s misfortunes and vulnerabilities to manipulate conversion, portraying Christianity as the cure-all to depression or any personal problem and ultimate source of joy/fulfillment. At the age of twenty, I took the bate: hook, line, and sinker!

Christianity provided a therapeutic experience of family love through the church-community and authoritatively answered all of life’s nagging philosophical question (i.e. how did I get here, where am I going, who am I, why am I here), thereby invigorating me with a charge of divine meaning–a spiritual high. According to my “born again” perspective, God broke the spiritual curse inflicted upon me due to my family’s history of chronic sin and paganism. As a special beneficiary of His amazing Grace, God compensated me for the love and happiness that I so painfully lacked.

Now living with a church family to regain some financial footing, I developed an addiction–addicted to studying the Bible and a church-a-holic. I devoured every last chapter/verse cover to cover in conjunction with one or two commentaries corresponding to each book of the bible and attended every church service/function available. Reeking with the stench of a fanatical cult, I embarked on a evangelical crusade to save family, friends, and my community from the eternal flames of hell. Toting a big, black Bible dead center into college keg parties to proselytize, distributing Bibles and witnessing materials as gifts, aggressively recruiting for church enlistment, door-to-door Bible thumping, sending testimonial letters delineating how Jesus transformed my life, making insincere “hey how are you...I’ve been thinking about you” calls just to share my faith and cunningly secure a commitment to Christ, scheduling lunch dates and whatever other activities I knew would be appealing – my treat – in a calculating effort to procure another “fishing” opportunity, and even perching myself atop a monumental rock in the middle of city-square, at rush hour, to preach hell-fire and brimstone–there was no limit I would not push or boundary break to save their souls!

Within one year, this fundamentalist fervor eventually spawned a prophet mentality–the conviction that I was empowered with a distinct anointing to spread the Gospel. A “call” to the ministry. So I entered one of the most notoriously strict seminaries on the East Coast; it was an evangelical boot-camp for preachers, where the rule book was almost as thick and sacred as the bible itself. Swift punishment was enacted if my uniform was not pressed to perfection, if I did not keep a crystal-clear shave, if I was observed socializing with a female during an unauthorized time/place, if my dorm contained one ounce of dust or an item was not situated in it’s designated spot...etc...etc.....and etc!

On fire for Jesus and drunk with “born again” elation, I remained oblivious to how obnoxiously oppressive the environment was–the only element missing was the inquisition of infidels. However, I began to realize as such somewhat in my third and fully in my fourth via the catalyst of academic requirements. In addition to it’s ultra rigid infamy, Grace seminary sported an academic reputation for imposing the most exacting scholarly standards upon students, centering the majority of course curriculum solely upon the Bible rather than theological textbooks. The dogmatic doctrine of biblical inerrancy beget this emphasis, specifically the literalist notion that the Holy Spirit would provide the “correct” interpretation of scripture to those truly sanctified souls, not the mere teachings of men. Laser-intense Bible study and arduous research dominated my entire existence over four years–a Bible reading Energizer Bunny!

Similar to the process of rationalizations, justifications, and minimizations that one engages in to ameliorate the glaring flaws of a new sweetheart and postpone the inevitable within the initial stages of infatuation, I suppressed the awareness of obvious contradictions/absurdities encountered within my studies to maintain such a precious faith. All-powerful and All-loving–the sovereign creator of EVERYTHING directing the course of my life, ultimately, with my happiness and well-being in mind...not to mention a free ticket to eternal paradise instead of eternal torment. Life is a bitch, who wouldn’t desperately cling to what is basically a perfect security blanket or coping mechanism. But as knowledge of scripture progressed to profound levels, the fortress of denial I erected around my faith (i.e. God works in mysterious ways, His Intellect is higher than mine, and my favorite, you just gotta accept it by faith) began to crumble under the weight of simple logic. For instance, the age old problem of evil: if God possesses the power and desire to eliminate suffering and pain, why does it exist to such an astronomical extent? Insofar as He is omniscient, the free-will defense miserably fails. Also, the problem of Original Sin: how could the pure justice of God transfer the penalty of one man’s sin onto the rest of humanity. Insofar as paying the penalty for another’s wrongs is a consummate example of injustice, the genetic defense miserably fails. And many more inexplicable irrationalities ex-Christians are already familiar with.

More pointedly, the task of desperately clinging and protecting my fortress of denial generated an obsession with apologetics, which eventually became the primary cause of my de-conversion. Before conceding that the only reason to live, the only reason to get out of bed, the absolute truth was bogus, I waged a impassioned war against my growing doubts by delving into the works of Josh Mcdowel, Ravi Zacharias, Francis Shaeffer, and C.S Lewis...etc An apologists competence consists of his ability to cogently refute certain arguments opposing Christianity; doing so entails a deep understanding of these opposing positions. Rather than keeping my faith impervious, ironically, becoming a student of apologetics exposed it to acute skepticism; because the arguments therein introduced me to the “darkside”. Like Darth Vador, I deduced that the “darkside” was much more persuasive (i.e. the documentary hypothesis, Chaos theory, evolution/blind watch maker, textual and higher criticism, predated pagan-parallels to Christianity, and the third wave of Jesus scholarship that uncovered the New-T Jesus as largely mythical...etc). I realized then, that Christianity’s genius – the reason Christians substantively outweigh non-Christians besides mental apathy – is based upon a fail-safe, full-proof security system: whenever challenged by non/anti Christian philosophies from either curiosity or confrontation, it sounds the alarm of fear – fear of the Devil’s deception – and thus prevents a breach of the mind’s indoctrinated superstructure. Plainly stated, if more Christians could manage to surmount the fear of losing their religion and actually entertain their twinges of doubt, less Christians would exist. Funny, one would think that those people for whom it is vitally important to champion one single truth would also be those most likely to examine all the options, all perspectives, Christian or otherwise, to ascertain which seem best; but the exact opposite is the case. Fundamentalist faith seems to be rooted in an implicit or unconscious belief that religion is really fake, and that one must run from truth in fear. Faith becomes an excuse and synonym – even a sign of moral nobility – for refusing to fairly examine other-than-Christian ideas.

Christianity occupied a position of utter ascendency in my mind’s ideological realm, but atheism, armed with the devastating weapons of reason, executed a coo in the latter half of my senior year. Although haunted by the question of “what if your wrong” and racked with the fear of damnation, I resolved to pass through the door of apostasy and lock it behind me; thus, saving myself from committing intellectual suicide just to “keep the faith”. Yet, I reluctantly finished what I started; a theology degree is better than nothing. Hence the aphorism, “fake it till ya make it”. I indeed made it; boasting a 3.9 GPA and oratory excellence, I graduated as the valedictorian and was awarded the trophy for “Best Student Preacher”. Surrounded by an army of Christian faced gleaming with approbation, under the highly endorsed spotlight of theological erudition, among classmates who anointed me as their leader, and engulfed by the beaming pride of family/friends, I strolled down the graduation isle, ministerial degree, bible, and preacher’s trophy in hand, as a bonafide atheist.....and exuding relief. When the pomp and ceremony ceased, I began a 12 hour journey homebound, and a surge of ecstatic liberation overwhelmed every fiber of my being, which endured the following six months straight. No more scare-tactic sermons beating my brain into cognitive bankruptcy, no more strenuously restraining my intellect from entertaining opinions not biblically spoon-fed, no more hammering my emotions into “biblically correct” molds, no more subjugating my life to the abuse of ascetic prescriptions, no more relentlessly policing my thoughts/actions to bust the most trivial of sins, no more guilt trips pounding my will into submission regarding God’s plan, no more alienating myself from the world by objectifying it as a evangelical target, no more six day work weeks staring on Sunday, and no more masturbation phobia.....ahhhhhhhh......sweet, sweet freedom.

But freedom was not free.

Identical, in part, to the sad state of affairs the precipitated my conversion, again, I faced cold, hard reality, which does not provide a conveniently packaged and delivered source of meaning–the thrill of believing that a supreme being created you, and only you, to perform a important purpose. Objectively, on the contrary, life is inherently meaningless; that is, except for the meaning one attached to it subjectively. Furthermore, given the depressive implication of atheism, I deeply grieved over the human condition, especially in light of God’s nonexistence: Earth and humanity are nothing but insignificant whispers in the wind compared to the sheer magnitude of our universe. Each individual life, therefore, will never experience salvation–salvation from 70 measly years (if we are fortunate) of pain, suffering, and simply struggling to get bye on so many levels. Every religious notion of eternal bliss rendered false; just a glorified manifestation of man’s survival instinct or the wishful desperation of his will to live. Deceased loved ones forever lost but for mere memory; grand family-reunions in heaven only a consoling dream. To prevent a nervous breakdown due to tragic circumstances and supply a flow of constant strength when wrestling life’s hardships, people and even nations embrace the conviction that God orders events in concert with some greater plan–that life’s “evils” are somehow necessary to fulfill as such...NO! Conversely, bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people, blatantly defying any sort of worthwhile reason–just because. Injustice marks the cosmos; so the assertion that God will eventually institute a spiritual world of perfect moral/ethical justice, governed by a system of karmic rewards/punishments, is a well-intentioned fabrication to help the masses contend with the onslaught of injustice in the physical world, thereby sustaining their sanity and the peace. And mankind is doomed to extinction courtesy of the Sun’s inevitable snuff-out. If humans escape the Sun’s wrath by inhabiting other planets, they will still suffer extinction when the universe inevitably withers (predicated upon the elastic/fluctuation model anyway). In God’s absence, woe is the human condition!!!

Once this new euphoria of freedom slowly but surely waned, the negative corollaries of atheism became a psychological burden–particularly the existentialist project of developing my own sentiment of meaning, identity, intestinal fortitude, morality, and answers to those crucial, philosophical questions totally independent of religion’s crutch...of Christianity’s babying. For approximately two years then, I fought to recover from my religious addiction and establish intellectual, emotional, and ethical autonomy. Despite the fact that atheism’s pessimistic nature tempted me to relapse, I arrived at the conclusion that intellectual integrity/freedom – being honest with myself about what I really think/believe and pursing my own perception of truth wherever that may lead, even to a destination of perpetual uncertainty – is much more conducive to inner-peace than laboring to satisfy the Bible’s criteria of inner-peace: categorical conformity to chimera that necessitates a self-deceiving pretense of belief and deliberate or unconscious ignorance–to credulously espouse dubious tenets that mock mainline science, compounded by the onus of puritanical requirements. The very method promoted to attain inner-peace renders it unattainable, which paradoxically engenders inner-turmoil. Jesus hit the nail right on the head, “you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”

PA
Joined: 20
Left: 26
Was: charismatic, pentecostal, conservative
Now: atheist, agnostic, independent
email: cspanther1 at aol dot com

30 comments:

jessica said...

That is not quite how I remember it or how you explained it to me at the time of afterwards. Pride is a bad thing.

chad said...

Jess Kova.,...my ex....is that you? If so, what in the hell are you doing roaming around the ex-christian web-site? Since you would never admit that you harbored any of your own doubts, I'm assuming you are on a crusade to save souls, correct? And I was hoping you would be willing to explain, in more detail, exactly what you mean by "that is not quite how I remembered it" and "pride is a bad thing".

Or is this my ex. jess ging.? Is so, the second question still applies

Anonymous said...

Yes it is. No I am not on a crusade to save souls as you so put it. Eric L found this and eventually it was brought to my attention. Thus I read it. I would be willling to explain, however I am not sure that you want your personal business aired out on a webpage for god and creation to see.

chad said...

So, which Jess are you: jess g. or jess k. And no, I don't mind, feel free to discuss my personal business freely. I give you the permission. Or if you don't feel comfortable, e-mail me at truthhunting247@aol.com. After all, I'm very curious about your feedback--whether you are jess g. or jess k. And please, if Eric L. (whoever that is) is willing to comment, I'd be delighted to hear from him as well.

Anonymous said...

Chad,
Just want you to know that you're loved... I am dedicated and earnestly praying that God takes this twisted view that has encapsulated your mind, and leads you back to the Cross.

I know you remember the scripture that says His mercy's are new every morning and He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. We don't have to understand everything... How can you logically determine that atheism is a sound conclusion... there is too much evidence of a Creator, and science is flawed... There are too many variables to consider.

There is still a God in Heaven who is calling out your name, I am praying that your mind become undilluted with the lies of the enemy and true liberation comes to you as you accept the unexplainable. God is divine, He loves you, He sent His Son to die for you, and no matter how much intellect you may have, that fact will never change.

Am praying that the backslider returns home, and truely accepts the Savior's Love. It's not about rules and regulations, it's about the Love of God and His power to regenerate and reform you into a Child of God. Receiving His grace to make it through each difficulty, His peace in times of utter dissapointment, and his strength in your admitted weakness -- this will make you more than a conquerer... It is impossible for us to figure God out and it is impossible for us to measure up to His standards on our own. That's why He sent us the Holy Spirit.

Your are being prayed for whether you like it or not. Looking for the day when you let down your guard and see what God will do...

Anonymous said...

Poor Chad, you better run back as fast as you can home to Jerus. God is waiting open arms for you to return home. You need to open up your heart and invite Jersus back in were he slipped out.

There is still a God in Heaven who is calling out your name, I am praying that your mind become undilluted with the lies of the enemy and true liberation comes to you as you accept the unexplainable. God is divine, He loves you, He sent His Son to die for you, and no matter how much intellect you may have, that fact will never change.

These Atheists here do not want you to know that by telling you constantly the same repetitive cliche's over and over that the mind cult is controling you, they do not want you to know that church members want to manipulate your very being, mind and soul and wallet, they don't want you to know that once you find out that religion is all a hoax and fake, then religious cliche's and metaphors can no longer control you, and now you will be free to think on your own and make intelligent decisions, you may even decide to go out into the world and make something of yourself and become rich, instead of becoming scared numbed brained religious cliche repeating zombie.

Ben (The Rationalist)

chad said...

My immediate, primitive reaction to your repulsive but laughable comments, at the risk of sounding like a crass red-neck, is the following: Fuck off you condescending, arrogant piece of shit! Now, before you discount the validity of my anger, based on more of your hackneyed, Christian logic, as a sign that the demonic spirit of rebellion has usurped my mind and that I’m merely delirious with atheistic rage toward God, allow me to explain why I chose to express such a brutally blunt sentiment, besides the fact that is just felt really good...lol.

In general, when individuals exhibit a socially offensive attitude or disposition that is ingrained or resistant to correction, normal and civilized forms of dialogue are insufficient in terms of breaking through the dysfunction. For example, imagine an aggressive driver who is totally oblivious to the egregious nature of his behavior. When trying to reason with him, he constantly deflects your concerns by blaming the actions of other drivers. Try repetitiously as you will, utilizing the best of your reasoned articulation and decorum, he remains obstinate. Fearing for his well-being, consequently, you become exasperated and decide that your only hope of penetrating his thick skull is extreme confrontation. So, one day, after witnessing another one of his belligerent, highway episodes, you allow yourself to “flip-out” and reveal the depth of your indignation (i.e. swearing, stomping, flailing, slamming, yelling, etc...). And to your surprise, despite attempting to use the the cool, calm, and collective approach dozens of times in the past, he finally really listens and takes heed. All that being said, allow me to apply this analogy to your post. The arrogance and condescension of your Christian exclusivity or the stance that you possess the monopoly on truth represents the incorrigibility of the aggressive driver, and my extreme confrontation (i.e. angry swearing and insults) represents the exasperated indignation of the individual who, in an act of desperation, tried his best to induce a moment of enlightenment through employing the shock treatment.

More specifically, your cliche pomp (i.e. my dire need of reform, twisted views, and state of dilution and deception from the enemy) can be reduced to expose the underlying, blatant core of Christian haughtiness: If you don’t believe what I believe and think like I think, then you are absolutely wrong and will burn in the eternal flames of hell. At this point, if you don’t realize the brazenly obvious arrogance and condescension of such obscene pretension, nothing I say or do will be effective. Although, for the sake of optimism, I’ll try one more time: fuck off you arrogant condescending piece of shit!

chad said...

Anonymous,

Why are you such a coward? Identify who you are.

ashley said...

I do not want to critisize you in any way, so please do not have that impression with what I have to say to you. You have spoken your testimony on the world wide web, so I am assuming you want some type of reaction or else you wouldn't have bothered. So here is my response to you. I am impressed with your education, you speak well and obviously have earned yourself the title of being "inteligent." I am really confused as to what made you give up? I also came from a past similar to yours. I have no "parents" and raised myself from the time I was 8. All of that is in the past for me. I found Christ on my own, I always knew something more was there for me I simply didn't know how to recieve it. I know Christ is who He is because of what is in my heart, not because of what people claim Him to be. I would know he was true even if I had never seen a bible. One thing you must realize is He knows no time, so all the pain and suffering over the years is simply the blink of an eye. Your question of why is there so much pain and suffering has already answered itself. If there was no pain and suffering, why would there be a heaven? Why would we need it? We would be self fulfilled with no need of Christ. Earth is the closest thing to hell a Christian will be, and the closest thing to heaven a nonbeliever will ever be. Pain and suffering is our reminder that it is worth the wait. Every morning I wake up I know that someday there will be no pain or suffering.
If I am simply an "ignorant human being" I ask you this, who will benefit the most in the end?
I, who live my life to the fullest loving everyone I meet and those I do not know, looking forward to the day I see His face,
or you who believes this miserable place we call the world is the best thing you have to look forward to?
If there is no God, no glory, no life after this, what do you have to lose?
You have a lot more to lose by choosing to deny Him.
God Bless you

Benjamin said...

I understand you're all about facts, Chad. Just for the record, let's get the facts straight: you did not graduate as Valedictorian - I did, with a 3.84 GPA. You got a 3.7 GPA. Sorry you didn't make it buddy, but why twist the facts to make them say what you want to? Is that truthful? Is that scientific?

chad said...

Ben,

Good point. Technically, you received the Validictorian award due to the fact that my cumulative GPA was 3.79 and yours was 3.84. However, since I'm "all about the facts" as you mentioned, allow me to explain why I contend that the award is rightfully mine.

Remember the fact that Dr. Bell vetoed my Salutatorian award due to the number of points I received during the first half of my senior year. Not to mention the fact that my opposition to the legalitic philosophy of faith school was made explicit during a personal meeting between him and myself within our senior year, as well as my struggles with doubt. So, to a certain extent, given his knowledge of those facts, I understand his acute apprehension about providing me with the opportunity to preach at the graduation cerimonies--imagine the public embarrassment he would have endured if I choked as a result of my doubts or tried to preach some sort of liberalized sermon! Well, in the same spirit of apprehension, I was informed by a very reputable source -- approximately a year after the fact -- that Dr. Bell also utilized his veto power to make sure that I received a 3.7 rather than 4.0 in one of our final, senior classes; which would have caused my final GPA to be 3.88 rather 3.79, thereby earning the Validictorian award instead of you. Consequently, not only did he strip me of the opportunity to preach by veto-ing the salutitorian award, he also did so by veto-ing the validictorian award.

I hope you now understand that the facts have not been twisted; yet, I suspect that you aren't capable of accepting that the "sanctified" staff of faith school could ever stoop to such a "political" level. I understand.

All that being said my old buddy, sorry you didn't really make it. Morally and ethically, I'll always be the true validictorian.

Benjamin said...

Dearest friend,

I wonder how you think that one single class in your senior year can manage to make such a massive difference in your cumulative grade!! Even if FST staff did stoop to such a level, it could not have made the difference you suggest it made. With three years of classes, how can one class make the difference between a 3.79 and a 3.88 average GPA? Especially considering the fact that you supposedly got a 3.7 instead of a 4.0, which is not that big of a difference...

Do the math, Chad.

On a different note, I have a question. If you have scientifically and intellectually come to the conclusion that Biblical Christianity is not true, why is your article infested with bitterness and rage? If this were a scientific endeavour, emotions and deeply seated feelings would only blur the clear vision with which you seek to disect (spiritual) reality, would they not? Would they not in fact cause one to question the objectivity and scientific nature of your conclusions?

Seems to me there is more going on here than meets the eye...seems to me it's not just all about intellectual suicide. Maybe that's just the surface, the masquerade that hides whatever it is that is going on deeper inside your heart.

I love you, mate - More than you know or realize.

chad said...

Ben,

As to the exact numbers involved, I'm not sure. But what I do know is that, according to my source, Dr. Bell used his "veto" power to make sure that I didn't receive the Validictorian award and thus given the opportunity to preach. However, of course, my source could be wrong. Assuming that it is right, on the other hand, the award is rightfully mine. I guess we must agree to disagree.

The following commnent, "If you have scientifically and intellectually come to the conclusion that Biblical Christianity is not true, why is your article infested with bitterness and rage?", forced me to conclude that you didn't actually read my article. Infested means "present in large numbers"; therefore, before I respond to this question, please delineate the overwhelming number of paragraphs or sentences that contain the bitterness and rage you are referring to. And then after you identify those paragraphs and sentences, please provide a clear, detailed explanation as to how they reflect bitterness and rage. I'm confident that you will miserably fail to do so, which would reveal that you are more interested in applying a cliche characterization of atheists -- straight from the handbook of apologetics -- to my article rather than addressing the content itself. Specifically, the cliche characterization that I refer to is the notion that anybody who doesn't embrace theistic belief suffers from some sort of profound bitterness/rage toward God--not on the basis of sincere intellectual/rationale reasons. This constitutes a blatant flaw in logic: begging the question and circularity; that is to say, supporing a cliam with a reason that is really a restatement of the claim in different words. Hence, the implied undertone of your position -- that Atheists don't believe in God for authentic intellectual reasons but disbelieve due to emotional dysfunction -- is tantamount to asserting that "atheists don't believe in god for authentic intellectual reasons but disbelieve due to emotional dysfunction, because atheists don't belive in god for authentic intellectual reasons but disbelieve due to emotional dysfunction", and such an assertion is obviously absurd. But if you are still convinced that my rejection of your belief-system is more of an emotional/rage corollary than a genuine intellectual corollary, please, feel free to operationally define the precise meaning of "Seems to me there is more going on here than meets the eye...seems to me it's not just all about intellectual suicide. Maybe that's just the surface, the masquerade that hides whatever it is that is going on deeper inside your heart." This statement is reducible to a vague, ambiguous irrevelancy and thus impossible to generate dialogue unless you first define the specific designation of "masquerade".


You make an excellent point in contending that engaging in any sort of scientific study from the catalyst of extreme positive or negative emotion would certinaly compromise objectivity. Yet, the rationale behind my de-conversion and rejection of Christianity, highlighted in the article, did not arise from some sort of formal but emotinoally charged scientific effort to debunk bibical truth claims. On the contrary, my de-conversion was rooted in the emotionally charged efforts of my intellect to maintain the faith; but eventually failing to overcome what I perceived to be large-scale incoherency/inexplicability--big difference! That said, the objective quality of my skepticism/agnosticism is sound.

Benjamin said...

Chad,

You are right; we must agree to disagree on the issue of your grades.

I am sorry to find that you extrapolate my remarks concerning your article and make them impersonal and generic. Let me clarify myself: I am not talking about ex-christians in general not basing my observations on general apologetics. I read your article and see the bitterness and rage. There is no need to take that any deeper or further than the statement itself requires. To do so is in fact trying to argue my point away my making it general and impersonal.

As for the actual rage and bitterness, I can read it between the lines throughout your article. The following paragraph is filled with bitterness and anger:

"Not verbatim, but this was the approximate prayer I spewed, with tears streaming and hands raised while kneeling at a church alter after the “there is a whole in your heart that can only be filled by God” sermon. The type that exploits one’s misfortunes and vulnerabilities to manipulate conversion, portraying Christianity as the cure-all to depression or any personal problem and ultimate source of joy/fulfillment. At the age of twenty, I took the bate: hook, line, and sinker!"

You're very articulate - as I have always known you to be - but the words you choose betray the emotions which I highlighted earlier. I doubt whether you 'spewed' the prayer.

"As a special beneficiary of His amazing Grace, God compensated me for the love and happiness that I so painfully lacked."

Tell me there is no sarcasm hidden in that statement, mate.

"Reeking with the stench of a fanatical cult, I embarked on a evangelical crusade to save family, friends, and my community from the eternal flames of hell."

'Reeking' does not qualify as objective, scientific wording to me, my friend. Nor is the 'door-to-door Bible thumping' that you later talk about void of traces of bitterness. Your description of the FST rules is not without that same bitterness, and neither is the following statement: "On fire for Jesus and drunk with “born again” elation, I remained oblivious to how obnoxiously oppressive the environment was–the only element missing was the inquisition of infidels"

Know yourself, Chad. Bitterness and anger runs throughout your article like an undercurrent in a river. And please don't extrapolate that - I am just observing what I see and read.

I do not doubt, by the way, the intellectual element involved in the decision to walk the path you have chosen to take; I know that you have questions that you have not received satisfactory answers to.
I do question the strictly scientific nature of your search - hence the masquerade. I wonder whether you are not just as angry and upset with rigid Christianity and the discrepancy between what is taught and the reality of the 'power of God' that you see in every day life. I wonder if your decision is not based more in disappointment with the practical reality of Pentecostal (and Christian) theology rather than its logical facts and premises that you find unacceptable.

Benjamin said...

By the way, you were vetoed out of being a Saluditorian; In that you are correct - it is common knowledge.

.:webmaster:. said...

Chad,

If you'd written your story exactly the same way, but in the end had concluded that Christianity was true, then there'd be no accusations of bitterness and anger against you. Instead, you'd be applauded for your erudition.

Your word choices, like reeking and a few others that were pointed out, I read as a verbal self-flagulation of sorts, born perhaps of embarrassment, or maybe revealing some self-disgust for having been so easily duped. Regardless, by rejecting Christianity you're ulitmately criticising Christianity, and when you've done that, angry Christians will frequently project their own anger onto you.

It could be that is what your accuser is doing, projecting. Of course I could be mistaken. It's just that to me his "voice" sounds more defensive than yours. In fact, I think he wants to do whatever he can to undermine you personally, at least on this site. That's an interesting tact, but I don't recall that method being promoted in any sermons on any mounts.

Ah, true Christianity™—it is a beautiful thing.

Anonymous said...

Webmaster,
If he came to a conclusion that Christianity was real at the end of his article, then you would have a reason to say Christianity make you mserable. By the words he has chosen he gives the article a mood. It is like listening to the same news story on msnbc and fox and getting two very differnet takes even though each story contains the same facts. Also I believe Benjamin has known Chad for eight years, therefor even if he was a complete idiot he would be able to tell his mood.

chad said...

Ben,

First, I’d like to apologize for my very, very delayed response to your last post. I had every intention to maintain our discourse, but I began a new semester in the month of May, which demanded the entirety of my intellectual energies. Fortunately, the winter semester is now passed, and I finally have some rare free-time to indulge in a little R&R as well as leisurely activities. In what follows, therefore, I will try to continue our discourse.
Whenever one is involved in philosophical/theological dialogue, he should treat alternate views with charity and respect; that is, he should make a concerted effort to clearly understand the logic and rationale of opposite perspectives and interpret as such in a manner that grants the highest level of plausibility to those perspectives (do unto others as you would have them do unto you). However, I’m persuaded that an exception to this “Golden rule” of dialogue is warranted in regards to particular aspects of Christian apologetics. One of those aspects, specifically, is the ill-conceived attempt to impugn the rational integrity of one’s de-conversion before taking a fair look at the rational merits of the de-conversion itself. After all, any critique of another’s experience or ideological position that endeavors to circumvent open-minded examination of the rationale asserted to support that very experience or position is intellectually low-class.
Normally, then, I would not waste my time extending the Golden Rule of philosophical dialogue to anyone who tries to characterize my de-conversion as a result of acrimonious emotionalism if they merely flout the rationale/logic I propose as its source. Yet, Ben, during an extremely significant albeit short period of my life, I considered you to be my best friend. So I’m prepared to treat your responses to my de-conversion “testimony” in accordance with the Golden Rule, which may require a substantial amount of space (please bare with me). But before I address the specific content of your response, I’ll generally expound a bit more on the apologetical fallacy of discrediting the logical justification or, as you state, “scientific nature” of de-conversion without first examining the postulated rationale and logic that caused it; a fallacy that seems to be present in your responses to some degree, Ben. To the shame of Christians, this apologetical fallacy is frequently used on this web-site when commenting on de-conversion “testimonies”, and the fallacy typically takes four forms:
1) Allegedly, the ex-Christian’s sin nature has subconsciously compelled him to reject God so that it then will have unmitigated freedom to indulge in outright hedonism – to live a life of debaucherous sin. And the ex-Christian’s sin-nature (or the devil acting on the sin nature if you please) accomplishes this feat by manipulating him into the faulty assumption that his de-conversion is a corollary of sound scientific reasoning, thereby engendering a state of denial that veils its true source: the rebellious legacy of Original Sin.
2) Allegedly, the ex-Christian’s de-conversion was caused by subconscious anger and rage toward God contained within his sin-nature. Why? God requires him to dedicate every aspect of his life to worship along with unconditional obedience to His laws, and sets up the consequence of eternal hell-fire if he refuses. But the pride and self-centeredness of his sin-nature is constantly seeking to exalt and worship the ego as God, so his sin-nature foments outrage at what it misconstrues to be God’s tyrannical requirements. And, of course, his sin-nature conceals this egotistical rage behind a masquerade of cool rationality and logic–a masquerade that the ex-Christian is not even aware of in most cases.
3) Allegedly, people within the church have committed painful offenses against the ex-Christian, and it is this underlying emotional pain that serves as the real impetus of de-conversion, not the perceived logical and rational problems of Christianity. The psyche merely fabricates these psuedo-problematic perceptions as a coping mechanism to disassociate from the emotional agony of such offenses. Thus, de-conversion is really fueled by a psychological urge to escape those who wounded the ex-Christian, not the irrationality of Christianity.
4) Allegedly, the “ex-Christian” was never an authentic Christian to begin with, and a de-conversion is impossible if an initial conversion never happened.

Ben, your construal of my de-conversion most closely resembles form 2.

I could expend a good deal of time and energy systematically contesting each of these forms, but for my immediate purposes, I think it is sufficient to highlight that each form can be reduced to the erroneous assertion that a rational or “scientific” de-conversion is impossible–erroneous to the extent that the assertion is made before the rational merits of one’s de-conversion can even be examined. After all, one’s hedonistic compulsions, egotistical rage toward God, emotional wounds inflicted by other Christians, and status as a “true” Christian is completely irrelevant to determining the “scientific nature” and logical justification of his/her de-conversion or rejection of Christianity; only the proposed evidence/rationale that supposedly supports the “scientific nature” and logical justification of one’s de-conversion is relevant–period. So such an assertion violates the fundamental format of reasoning proper (viz. Examination of the actual evidence or rationale for a particular claim that is ensued by a decision as to whether the available evidence/rationale supports the claim –NOT–> the predetermination of a particular conclusion that is ensued by a dismissive attitude toward or refusal to consider any evidence/rationale contrary to the conclusion).
More specifically, then, this erroneous assertion predetermines that a rational de-conversion is impossible a priori–a priori meaning that they declare the impossibility of de-conversion before examining the explicit reasons ex-Christians offer concerning why they rejected Christianity. Formally, this apologetical fallacy is called Well Poisoning: discrediting in advance the key or sole source of significantly relevant evidence/rationale for or against a position. Figuratively, the idea is to “poison the well” before anyone can drink from it; that is, to avoid opposition by foreclosing any discussion or reply. For instance, an ex-Christian may claim, as ex-Christians often do, that his conception of biblical contradictions eliminated his belief in divine inspiration, that biblical scholarship and higher criticism rendered his notion of the historical Jesus at odds with the “mythologized”, gospel version of Jesus, and that the existence of evil is philosophically incompatible with an omni-benevolent and omnipotent God . . . all of which caused his rejection of Christianity on strictly intellectual/logical grounds. Instead of assessing the rational merits of each claim, however, apologetical attempts to poison the well essentially discredit and thus ignore the ex-Christian’s claims as irrelevant–irrelevant because rejecting Christianity on rational/logical grounds is impossible a priori.
Hence, Christians who succumb to the apologetical fallacy of well poisoning criticize the rational integrity of de-conversion not because of the rationality or irrationality of specific reasons given to back-up the de-conversion, but in spite of the de-conversion’s rationale quality. Why? Christians, by definition, are pre-committed to the dogma that the Bible is absolute truth; in effect, rather than conforming their world-view to the preponderance of evidence/rationality, they conform and twist the evidence/rationale to confirm their preconceived dogma. So to admit that people who were true Christians actually reject Christianity for purely logical/intellectual reasons is to admit that biblical dogma is not full-proof or at least that Christianity is potentially falsifiable. And to acknowledge that Christianity is potentially falsifiable is to break the dogmatic pre-commitment that the Bible is absolute truth–anathema, anathema, anathema!!! Put in another way, anyone who is absolutely convinced that their religious paradigm is non-falsifiable is totally closed to the possibility that those who come to reject their world-view rejected it for logical/rational reasons. Thus, if anything is impossible, it is engaging in genuine dialogue with evangelical Christians about the rational caliber of de-conversion; in that, they’ve already made up their mind that a rational de-conversion is impossible a priori–this is the antithesis of a scientific approach!!!
At this point, I suppose I could give you a dose of your own medicine and admonish you to “know yourself”, because well poison and an anti-scientific spirit runs throughout your responses like an undercurrent in a river. But I’m not pretentious enough to assert that kind of psychoanalytic authority. On that note, lets take a more concentrated look at your interpretation of my de-conversion article.
When examining each of your responses, two primary claims seem to emerge:
(1) My alleged rejection of Christianity on strictly intellectual grounds is a masquerade that hides the real reason or motive behind my de-conversion–a motive that is definitely not intellectual or scientific. What are these concealed motives as you suggest? Apparently, I’m angry, bitter, and enraged over the fact that the “power of God” as set forth in theological teaching – particularly Pentecostal theology that places special emphasis on the “power of God” – fails to manifest in practical reality. Simply put, you contend that I’m filled with rage over the “fact” that biblical theology does not correspond to and tends to outright contradict my everyday experience, which constitutes a classical case of conflict between theory and practice.
If I recall correctly, you and I entered into many a conversation about the church’s most detrimental shortcomings, and you would regularly rail against the fact that the church, overall, miserably failed to reflect the “power of God” in terms of miraculous manifestations, gifts of the Spirit, and large numbers of converts. Therefore, you avowed that effectuating revival would be a primary focus of your ministry. Perhaps, then, your hypothesis that I ultimately rejected Christianity due to anger/rage over the disconnect between theology and practical reality is more a projection of your own doubts and struggles regarding Christianity onto me than it represents the underlying cause of my apostasy. That is to say, perhaps you have arbitrarily attributed your own assessment of what is problematic about Christianity’s truth-claims to the primary cause of my de-conversion. After all and contrary to your divine ability to “read between the lines”, my de-conversion article highlights that philosophical issues concerning certain theological tenets and the doctrine of biblical inerrancy were at the root of my “falling away”, not a discrepancy between practical experience and theology–big difference!
All that being said, let me review that the crux of your contention against my de-conversion is that it, by and large, was not the consequence of a thoughtful, logical process; rather, it was the consequence of bitter and rage infested emotionalism triggered by the failure of Pentecostal theology to match practical experience/reality. Notice, however, that this is a very strange position to maintain if you are attempting to repudiate the “scientific nature” of my de-conversion. Why? Because even if I concede, for the sake of argument, that, in fact, I became an atheist/agnostic due to a sense of anger/rage provoked by the discrepancy between Pentecostal theology and practical experience, my becoming so on this basis would not constitute a decision of non-scientific irrationality. Quite the opposite actually: expressing bitterness and rage toward any belief-system that doesn’t “practice what it preaches” – especially if one invested an enormous amount of faith into the system – and thereby rejecting that system as false is a perfectly natural and logical reaction. Anything otherwise would strike me as terribly credulous. For instance, if an individual did not acrimoniously renounce a particular get-rich-quick program after discovering that its claims are not applicable to the real world despite its promises and the best of his efforts, he would have committed a brazen act of irrationality. Thus, if your assertion that I acrimoniously renounced Christianity as a result of its failure to “practice what it preaches” is indeed true, then you have ironically substantiated the “scientific nature” of my de-conversion. While attempting to cast doubt on the “scientific nature” of my de-conversion, you actually end-up posing a rational/logical basis for it!
In that light, my de-conversion article would seem to be masquerading one strictly logical/intellectual reason for the renunciation of Christianity just to hide what is another strictly and equally valid logical/intellectual reason for renunciation. But this would be absurd as there lacks a good or advantageous reason to do so. If my motive for de-conversion can be reduced to logic and reason rather than emotionalism, as demonstrated above, why would I masquerade one motive rooted in sound scientific/logical reasoning just to conceal another equally scientific/logical motive for de-conversion? If both reasons for de-conversion (viz. 1. Discrepancy between theology and the real-world and 2. Philosophical problems with theological tenets themselves combined with biblical errancy) are equally logical and consonant with a scientific quality of rationale, the need to masquerade one for the other in what would amount to a deceptive scheme vanishes–what would be the occasioning purpose? On the whole, then, your accusation that my de-conversion article reveals some sort of masquerade is nonsensical.
Now that I finished responding to your first claim, I’ll move forward to respond to your second claim: (2) My de-conversion was not based on scientific, objective, or logical reasoning, because my article is infested with bitterness and rage. To support this claim, you quoted a few sections/sentences of my article and tried to give them an exegesis of rage and bitterness. Courtesy of Dr. Shaw, you and I learned that the most difficult and important aspect of hermeneutics is extracting the author’s intended meaning from a text, not imposing our own meaning or personalized interpretation onto the author and text. The difficulty in doing so is that, often times, we don’t have access to the author himself, who could provide correction and clarification to our interpretive efforts. Fortunately, however, you and I have direct access to the author of the text in question – ME! Consequently, I’ll review each of your quotes and show that your ability to “spiritually discern” bitterness and rage in my article is suspect and probably a result of your own stereotypical notion of the enraged atheist shaking his fist at God imposed upon the author (me) and the text.

* Quote One: Not verbatim, but this was the approximate prayer I spewed, with tears streaming and hands raised while kneeling at a church alter after the “there is a whole in your heart that can only be filled by God sermon. The type that exploits one’s misfortunes and vulnerabilities to manipulate conversion, portraying Christianity as the cure-all to depression or any personal problem and ultimate source of joy/fulfillment. At the age of twenty, I took the bate: hook, line, and sinker!
Simply stating that the above section betrays bitterness and rage is not sufficient to demonstrate as such; in that, you fail to explicitly argue for how or why the words I chose highlight these emotions. And until you do, how or why this section corroborates your accusations of bitterness and rage must remain unclear. The only semblance of argumentation that you offer is the statement “I doubt wether you ‘spewed’ the prayer.” I’m assuming, then, that you construed the word ‘spewed’ as an indication of rage and bitterness even though you don’t provide an explanation for how or why. Let me clarify if this is the case. My use of the word ‘spewed’ was to express a sense of intellectual shame at engaging in what I now perceive to be an act of naive irrationality: prayer (nothing more, nothing less). Note that expressing intellectual shame is dramatically different than expressing anger and rage.
* Quote Two: As a special beneficiary of His amazing Grace, god compensated me for the love and happiness that I so painfully lacked.
Again, simply stating that this sentence contains hidden sarcasm is not to argue how or why it does, which is necessary in terms of corroborating the statement. Let me clarify. This sentence is merely a description of how I perceived God’s grace working on my behalf at that point in my life (nothing more, nothing less). And even if it indeed contained sarcasm, note that sarcasm is a far cry from an effusion of bitterness and rage.
* Quote Three: Reeking with the stench of a fanatical cult, I embarked on a evangelical crusade to save family, friends, and my community from the eternal flames of hell.
As I’m certain you would agree, Ben: if you voluntarily committed the entirety of your life to the advancement of some New Age cult before becoming a Christian, you would feel a certain level of embarrassment at being so easily fooled by a cult that Christianity exposed as so obviously irrational. Similarly, my use of the word ‘reeking’ was to express a sense of intellectual shame at being so easily and thoroughly fooled by a cult (Christianity) that agnosticism/atheism/philosophy has exposed as obviously irrational (nothing more, nothing less). To reiterate, note that the expression of intellectual shame is dramatically different than the expression of bitterness and rage.
* Quote Four: On fire for Jesus and drunk with “born again” elation, I remained oblivious to how obnoxiously oppressive the environment was–the only element missing was the inquisition of infidels.
Consistent with all the other sections/sentences you quoted, merely asserting that this sentence/section displays bitterness and rage is not tantamount to presenting cogent argumentation to that effect. But since you seem to think that it is a clear indication of my bitterness and rage, allow me to clarify with a few questions. Why and how is describing one’s self as “On fire for Jesus and drunk with born again elation” indicative of bitterness and rage? Actually, this statement was simply intended to capture the sheer intensity and depth of my religiosity while in bible college, using quintessential, fundamentalist language that many ex-Christians would relate to (nothing more, nothing less). Note the describing one’s religious state of mind is dramatically different than expressing bitterness and rage. Also, in reference to bible college, why and how is my retrospective account of it as obnoxiously oppressive indicative of bitterness and rage? Actually, this statement was simply intended to capture the legalistic environment at FST, a sentiment that you and I shared (nothing more, nothing less). Maybe you locate bitterness and rage in my equating the legalistic environment with the inquisition of infidels, an evident exaggeration. However, this equation was simply intended to place emphasis on the oppressive nature of FST’s legalistic environment through the use of hyperbole, a literary tool that Jesus himself used (nothing more, nothing less). Furthermore, why and how does the sentence as a whole denote bitterness and rage? Actually, it is meant to denote an underlying tone of intellectual shame. . . shame for having been completely blinded by Pentecostal/Charismatic emotionalism. . . for having been so wrong.

Pondering on all the above, I can’t help but to assume a very dismissive attitude toward your claims that my de-conversion was triggered by extreme anger and rage; you didn’t even dignify my de-conversion article by offering a developed argument for these claims. If you want to establish that my de-conversion “testimony” is infested with bitterness and rage, you will have to do much more than isolate various sections and just pontificate that such sections reveal bitterness/rage. Moreover, you will have to argue why and how bitterness and rage accounts for the general undercurrent of these sections better than a sense of intellectual shame and self-loathing. Otherwise, your responses fit the spurious, apologetical profile of agnostics/atheists and should rightfully be dismissed.
For the sake of argument, I’ll concede that the sections you identified indeed indicate anger and bitterness and that such emotions are relevant to determining the rational merits of de-conversion. . .I’ll concede all of this in order to explore whether this concession accomplishes the goal that you intended. Namely, to undermine the rational/logical integrity or “scientific nature” of my de-conversion. A key and critical question must be answered to render an accurate judgment: did the supposed bitterness and rage precede and initiate the process of de-conversion or did bitterness and rage merely proceed as a corollary of my de-conversion. If bitterness and rage preceded and initiated my process of de-conversion, then, in theory, this charged emotional state probably pre-conditioned me to focus and only focus on anti-Christian ideology/literature in an unbalanced, bias manner. My de-conversion, therefore, would have been made illogical/irrational due to blatant neglect of relevant counter points or deliberately overlooking cogent argumentation unfavorable to my anti-Christian sentiments. In short, any truth-seeking journey that is fueled by contempt for Christianity would certainly “stack the deck” to guarantee the conclusion of Christianity’s falsehood. After all, who doesn’t ardently search for every and any reason to oppose the object of their bitterness and rage, often being blinded to the prejudicial aspects of their opposition by the passion of their acrimony. Hence the unscientific nature of my de-conversion. . . right? WRONG! Allow me to explain.
Ironically, my de-conversion occurred under extremely adverse , hostile conditions like that start of a fire in a torrential downpour using soaked wood. When I began to encounter thoughts of doubt during my studies (starting the fire), I was totally and utterly enraptured by Christianity (the torrential downpour): it saved from a life devoid of meaning and purpose by persuaded me that the Creator of the universe created me to fulfill a specific and unique purpose in His cosmic plan, it saved me from abject worry and anxiety by persuading me that an all-loving and all-powerful Father had every detail of my life within his sovereign and nurturing hands, it saved me from the crippling depression of my dysfunctional family-background by persuading me that all of life’s most painful hardships happened in accordance with God’s perfect plan, it saved me from feeling abandoned and neglected by providing a rich and loving sense of family within the church community; it gave me a very rewarding and satisfying social life, it gave me a firm foundation of financial stability and support, it gave me a great deal of respect, admiration, and thus self-esteem, it gave me. . . and the list goes on and on. Needless to say, I was bonkers over Christianity!!!!
So, on an emotional and pragmatic level, I was categorically pre-committed, within the core of my soul, to focus and only focus on ways to intellectually starve these doubts and thereby feed my faith. Yet, the doubts were tenacious and continued to be inadvertently cultivated through my studies. And since I could not imagine a life worth living if Christianity was false, the more doubt grew, the more I fought, with every ounce of my intellectual strength, to eradicate the doubt by consuming every apologetical book I could get my hands on (e.g. Evidence That Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell, Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, A Case For Christ by Lee Strobell, the works Francis Shaeffer and Ravi Zacherias, etc. . .) Eventually, however, the doubt overcame the most powerful defenses that my intellect could muster, which forced me to relinquish my death-grip on Christianity. I intellectually combated de-conversion like a rich-man trying to save his wealth from a thief, but the logic and rationale that compelled the de-conversion was superior to that which compelled me to keep the faith–my faith was ultimately stolen by my intellectual honesty.
In the end, then, despite the fact that my intellect “stacked the deck” to guarantee the elimination of all doubts, it ultimately surrendered to agnosticism/atheism. Consequently, I sustained nothing but an overwhelmingly positive disposition toward Christianity until my last dying breath as a Christian, which means that my decision to renounce Christianity would not have been rationally or scientifically compromised by the emotionalism of bitterness/rage. Thus, if my de-conversion article exhibits bitterness and rage towards Christianity, these emotions ensued and were caused by my de-conversion rather than being preceded and the cause of my de-conversion; a vital distinction that means my decision to renounce Christianity was not triggered or influenced by bitterness/rage. Therefore, the “scientific nature” or rational integrity of my de-conversion stands strong.
But if you still feel the urge to repudiate the “scientific nature” or rational integrity of my de-conversion, I hope you don’t mind a few strategic suggestions. Instead of committing the hermeneutical sin of eisegesis by stereotypicaly reading bitterness/rage into my article, and instead of committing the apologetical fallacy of well poisoning by attempting to discredit and deeming irrelevant the specific rationale I posit to account for my de-conversion before you even take a good look at it, endeavor to refute the logical justification and “scientific nature” of each individual reason I advance as a contributing factor to de-conversion. For example, refute my assertion that the doctrine of original sin contradicts a God that is perfectly just; refute my assertion that modern, biblical scholarship has stripped the historical Jesus of his “gospelized” divinity; refute my assertion that the doctrine of biblical inspiration is bogus due to a myriad of contradictions; refute my assertion that the existence of evil invalidates an all-good, all-powerful God; refute my assertion that the apparent design in the universe is better explained by natural, mechanistic laws that make an intelligent designer unnecessary, etc. . .
If and only if you can manage to cogently refute these assertions can you, in turn, discredit the “scientific nature” and rational caliber of my de-conversion. Otherwise, all of your repudiative efforts will be irrelevant insofar as these assertions are the very cornerstone of my de-conversion. You must confront them directly; there is no psychoanalytic short-cut! And if you are successful, I’ll re-convert!

Anonymous said...

Chad,

Thanks so much for your response. I am still working on exactly how I want to address the issues you bring up in the last paragraph of your reply.

In the meantime, I want to briefly respond to your comment concerning your assertion that the apparent design in the universe is better explained by natural, mechanistic laws that make an intelligent designer unnecessary.
I assume you are referring to the deterministic view of reality common to both Classical Physics and Classical Science in general. During the 20th century, however, a number of significant scientific discoveries were made that shook that worldview to the core. What we now know as Quantum Mechanics has proven through experiments that reality is not quite so mechanical and deterministic as 18th and 19th century science made us believe it was.

Truly, Quantum Mechanics has turned our view of reality upside down. Thus, my question is why you still assert that we live in such a mechanical universe.

As I said, however, I am still considering your post and my response to it. I will answer as soon as I feel I can.

Benjamin

Jim Arvo said...

Anonymous,

"Mechanistic" does not necessarily imply "deterministic". Note that it is still referred to as quantum mechanics.

Anonymous said...

Chad...do your self a favour and get a life!

chad said...

Ben,

And thanks for your response; I appreciate the exchange. Anyone who has enough stamina to endure my verbosity deserves a load of gratitude!

I know that you are still in the process of developing a response, but I must commend you, thus far, for confronting the proposed rationale of my de-conversion rather than attempting to skate around it through insinuations of acrimonious emotionalism–you have my thanks, again.

Before addressing the issue of Quantum Mechanics (QM), I feel compelled to offer a few qualifications:
1) This field of physics is still very controversial among the scientific experts. Hence, rendering any judgments about its impact on the nature of reality must remain speculative and tentative at best. Therefore, approaching the topic with any degree of authority or certainty must be frowned upon as intellectually irresponsible. Referring to the philosophical implications of QM, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy states, “The question of what kind of a world it describes, however, is controversial; there is very little agreement, among physicists and among philosophers, about what the world is like according to QM.”
2) I’m not a professionally trained physicist, and to the best of my knowledge, neither are you, Ben. Consequently, I’m not confident that you and I should even be speculating on the nature of reality aka QM. Nevertheless, for the sake of argument, I’ll do so anyway on a limited basis.

I agree, reality is not as deterministic as the large-scale construal of Classical Physics. However, your response seems to lack a crucial distinction between reality as small-matter (or subatomic matter to be more technical) and big-matter (or macro-matter); in that, the deterministic or mechanical dynamics of Classical Physics still obtains at the level of macro-reality, which is juxtaposed to the probalistic dynamics that obtain at the level of subatomic reality. Therefore, characterizing reality – the macro reality that humans are phenomenologically or experientially oriented to – as mechanical in nature is very tenable. Perhaps the following quotes from Wik. Ency. and the Stan. Ency. will bear this out: (1) “Quantum mechanics has had its big success in explaining things that classical physics could not explain, primarily at the extremes of systems at the atomic scale or smaller, or at very low or very high energies, or at the lowest temperatures” (2) “Because the exotic behaviors of matter posited by quantum mechanics and relativity theory only become apparent when dealing with extremely fast-moving or extremely tiny particles, the laws of classical “Newtonian” physics remain extremely accurate in predicting the behavior of virtually every object that a human being will encounter without the aid of a particle accelerator. Because th effects of quantum mechanics become less noticeable as the amount of matter increases, the point at which an aggregation of particles becomes more accurately described by classical physics than by quantum mechanics is known as the classical limit.” Note that the classical limit of QM lends credence to the mechanical or deterministic denotations of classical physics rather than repudiating them. So QM does not seem to turn our world upside down as you suggest. My question, then, is why have you failed to make the crucial distinction between subatomic reality and macro-reality predicated upon the classical limit?

All that being said, allow me to rephrase my assertion in a manner that will avoid the tangential effects of discussing QM: The apparent design in the universe is better explained by the impersonal dynamics and principles of nature, which makes an intelligent designer unnecessary. However, if you still want to pursue the subject of QM, be cautioned that QM may not look favorably upon arguments for the existence of God in general. From my understanding, QM maintains that subatomic matter simply pops into existence from nothing, rendering the necessity of the uncaused cause advanced by the cosmological argument unnecessary in terms of the Big-Bang –- insofar as the Big-Bang was initiated or had its origin in subatomic particles. But again, neither you or I are really qualified to engage in QM/theological conjecture.

To end, I must inform you that I probably won't be able to respond to your responses in a thorough or timely fashion over the next three months given the commencement of yet another college semester. But if you extend your patience to me, then I'll certainly return the favor.

chad said...

Anonymous,

Your comment seems to indicate a certain degree of disdain towards me. Care to offer a more detailed explanation?

Or, perhaps, you are a stereotypical fundy who cowardly resorts to “drive-by” insults due to a lack of intellectual constitution. After all, when faced with a person’s world-view that is in stark contrast to one’s own world-view and confounds one’s capacity to invalidate, stooping to belittling remarks is a common albeit ineffective and trite way to save face. Simply put, insults are a strong sign that one has nothing intelligent to say–that one is intellectually incompetent to defend their own world-view against the opposite world-view of those he insults. I guess its easier to redicule than to actually think.

If my assumption that you are a Christian is correct, instead of harboring feelings of disdain against me and taking the time/energy to disparage me – which is to commit sin – you may want to utilize your time/energy cultivating feelings of compassion and love for me through prayer. So, while I may need to do myself a favor and get a life, you might need to work on living life as a better Christian who exhibits more fruits of the Spirit.

chad said...

Ben,

What happened? I thought you were preparing a response to my comments?

mary m. said...

it is so sadding to find that there are those who "are ever learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth, and would choose to believe satan(the enemy of God) rather than realize that the wind nor satan could possibley create this vast world and all it contains, it had to be God supreme. But you were given the right to make your own spiritual choises by the God of creation and truth,whether you choise Him or satan.So do what pleases you ,the end will reveal whether christianity is true or false.

Astreja said...

It is so infuriating to find that there are those who think that they possess The Truth, and that all opposing views are the work of some imaginary Bad Guy.

And even more frustrating to deal with people who don't know a bloody thing about modern science, attributing everything in the entire universe to another imaginary Bad Guy whom they see as a Good Guy.

"The end" will reveal nothing to you, Mary M. Your brain will simply die, and there will be nobody left to enjoy your make-believe paradise. Please, enjoy life while you still have it.

boomSLANG said...

Um, it's so "sadding" to see that in the year 2007, that there people in this society who still believe that there exists an invisible horned man in a red leotard, who is down in the middle of the earth somewhere with his pitchfork, cloven hoofs, and pointed tail, who magically influences people to NOT believe in some OTHER invisible guy---some silver-haired Grizzly Adams-lookin' dude who sits around in floating Lazy Boy in the clouds, who spends his day ordering a bunch of winged-munchkins to make sure the bad dude doesn't come "get us"....?

They're all NUTZ!...and so are you, for believing it! The difference is....YOU EXIST, mary!

chad said...

Mary M,

Before I respond to your comments, a few preliminary questions: Are you a graduate of F.S.T? And if so, did we know each other?

I find it sad, on that contrary, that a finite human being, who resides on a planet that is unfathomably insignificant relative to the grand scale of the universe, claims to possess a monopology on ultimiate, cosmic truths (and I thought Christians were suppost to be humble). Mary,do you realize the incredible arrogance and egregious pretension that your comments convey? I don't mean to sound crass, but this is the kind of Bible-thumping bullshit the contributed to my de-conversion. On the note, I have a word of advice for you in terms of evangelism or trying to re-christianize the ex-christian. When you use veiled threats of hell, assert the actual existence of mythological beings like Satan, and pontificate that God created the world as if it is obvious (withtout providing an appropriate argument), you are simply reminding the ex-Christian why he rejected Christianity in the first place. And by virtue of this reminder, you are effectively strengthening his/her resove to remain an ex-christian! So, to help you in your evangelistic endeavors, I suggest that you change tactics. Instead of bombarding me (or any other reprobate targets you deem worthy) with Christian cliches, try to genuinely engage me in intelligent discourse; that is to say, try treating me like a fellow human being rather than target practice for your pharisaical rants!

On second thought, I'm probably giving you much more credit than you deserve. You weren't lovingly trying to woo me back into the fold. . . you weren't trying to fulfill the great commission by re-evangelizing me. . .you just wanted to take a judgmental jab at me for rejecting your belief system (how dare I disagree with you). This kind of behavior and attitude seems to be more consistent with your carnal nature, not your spiritual nature. Perhaps a more spiritual use of your time would be to pray for unbelievers as opposed to driving them further from the faith. I'm sure Jesus is real proud of ya!

We both have something in common, believe it or not. You are concerned about seeking and finding the truth, and so am I! However, you find it sad that someone like myself may never arrive at the "golden-grail" of truth despite loads of knowledge and education. Yet, I find that this state of affairs is a reason to celebrate my intellectual integrity and freedom, especially in comparison to the intellectual suicide that fudamentalism precipitates. Consider the following quotes:
*Satan's philosophy is that the mind is a terrible thing to waste, and God's philosophy is that the mind is a terrible thing to use

* I do not consider it an insult, but rather a compliment to be called an agnostic. I do not pretend to know where many ignorant men are sure -- that is all that agnosticism means.

* Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.

* Believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it.

Even if I grant that some sort of God or Creator is responsible for the existence of the universe and life on earth, such a concession does not prove the existence of your Bible God. For all you know, the Creator of the universe could be Allah, or it could possess a nature that is dramtically different than the Christian portrayal. So how do you get from a Creator or some sort of higher power to the Christian God; this is a huge gap that needs loads upon loads of justification. At this point, many Christians point to the nature of the cosmos and life on earth as a means to explicate the nature of God. The underdying assumption is that God's nature is relfected in his Creation. However, when one follows this line of argument, the Creation, as is, doesn't correspond to the nature of the Christian God. If fact, if anything, the nature of Creation seems to outright contradict the Christian God (e.g., the brutality and savagery of nature, etc. . .). Thus, even if I concede that some sort of God or higher power exists, this concession doesn't point toward your Bible God based on the attributes of nature; just the opposite, it points toward a much different God--one that is, in sum, hopelessly imperfect.

Anonymous said...

Chad, I apologize for not responding. It's almost a year later. I got into a relationship and kind of never got around to it. You remember Ruthie? She and I are getting married...

Benjamin

vfcctigger said...

Hey Chad, it's Tigger, if you remember me. An old friend caught me up on people from our past and you came up in conversation.
You are very intelligent and that is plain to see. I guess I am just shocked in your choice, after all you have been through. I do not believe in religion...it is just man's way to get to "god". The church is made up of VERY imperfect people. It sometimes feels like we stumbling around in the dark. I do know that God and I have a personal relationship and without him I would be six feet under. God has displayed His power and guidance in my life so many times.
I do not comment to bash what you have experienced and how you have now chosen to live your life. But I do want to say that "church" and those who choose to go and practice their "faith" are not perfect. I am far from it. God is not a 'crutch' for me, but I know each of us has the freedom to choose....and that is beauty of it.
I hope that you are well and happy in your life. I am very blessed. I am married to the most amazing man and have a 18mos. old son, who is a miracle. Thanks for taking the time to read my comment. Have a great day.

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