Monday, 7 June 2010

The Outsider's Quest For (Understanding) Faith

Although I grew up in a Christian-influenced culture and had a liberal Christian scripture education at school, I don't consider myself as growing up Christian. Thus it was easy to reject such a God when I was old enough to do so. That was half my life ago.

Since that time I've been engaged in arguments with people over various issues related to this question. The internet exposed me to a whole branch of thought that was completely alien to the Christianity I was taught, people had the firmest conviction in the craziest things. The implausible Christianity I was taught seemed almost sane compared to some of this insanity.

I bring this up because there are those who call atheism a delusion. Being an atheist myself, I'm worried that it is. I can see why it's easy to label particular beliefs as false and that those propagating them have been misinformed, but can the same be said of oneself? That is to say, if I were an outsider looking in how would I see my position?

I read "Why I Became An Atheist" by John W. Loftus for this reason. What struck me about the book was not his arguments (they were just fine), but what he was arguing against. The passage where Moses and Egyptian mystics threw down their staves and they turned into snakes was just too crazy for me to takes seriously.

Is that really crazy or just crazy from my perspective? Perhaps transitional forms between fish and tetrapods, or between dinosaurs and birds sound crazy. Indeed there are many creationists out there who highlight the absurdity of transitional fossils (neglecting that such fossils actually exist!) and I would say they are being ignorant of the evidence. Perhaps the evidence really is there that those biblical accounts or modern evidence that parallels what is said in the bible but I'm ignoring that.


My proposal is to ask for what I'm missing. Are there believers out there willing to point me in the right direction? What I'm asking for is essentially the Outsider Test For Faith with myself as the outsider looking to be convinced.

There are many different psychological trappings one can fall into, and being human I'm subject to these same shortcomings. I can't pretend I'll be an unbiased critic (again, I'm human) but I can at least try to understand.

I'm asking for material: books, lectures, podcasts, articles, whatever that would at least try to help me understand as an outsider to properly grasp what it is I'm rejecting. Cost is a factor, I don't have a lot of money to spend but I'd be willing to guess that this could be accomplished relatively cheaply.

One caveat, please no creationist material (biological or cosmic). The science is overwhelmingly against the notion of creationism so it needs not be considered. Beyond that I'm open to pretty much anything. What is the best material to make a case to the outside that your belief is true?

2 comments:

Lucian said...

science is overwhelmingly against the notion of creationism

Funny conclusion to arrive at, since it was precisely modern, 20th century science that confirmed the creation ex nihilo.


What I'm asking for is essentially the Outsider Test For Faith with myself as the outsider looking to be convinced.

I've got nothing to convince you, just two petty little links, one less impressive than the other. -- hey, look at the bright side: at least they're for free! (As they say: you get what you pay for).

Kel said...

"Funny conclusion to arrive at, since it was precisely modern, 20th century science that confirmed the creation ex nihilo."

No it hasn't. What science has done in the 20th century is discard the notion of the solid state universe. The Big Bang doesn't mean creation ex nihilo in the sense that there was absolutely nothing and now there is everything, but the four dimensional bubble we currently reside in first formed.

What if, as some cosmologists put forth as a possibility, that this universe was born inside a black hole of another universe? Would that still constitute as creation ex nihilo? What about if the universe expanded out of what is referred to as quantum foam, the underlying fabric of reality. Does that still constitute creation ex nihilo?


Though I'll play along, how do you get from Big Bang to deity, to interventionist deity, to Jesus Christ being the redeemer for our sins? If you can give a strong cosmological case, then fine. What I didn't want was a fine tuning argument because they prove nothing beyond our own ignorance. You can't get from the amount of Dark Energy to deity...