We have people like myself and Green (hope you don't mind being lumped in with me) who've done our time in one sect of Christianity or another and though finding it unfulfilling (to put it very lightly), we're still skeptically open to the possibilities.
We have people like the good Teresa, who is very sure that there is no god, and more power to her.
We have people like Travis, who is completely sure that there is a god, and although he has failed to convince me that the case is concrete, god bless him, he keeps trying.
And then we have people like my wife, Leah, who remain comfortably disinterested in the whole matter. This is the stance I envy the most.
So here we are, this quaint little community. I think everyone is, generally, polite, courteous, and pleasant. Even Travis, who opposes almost every single thing I say about religion, does so in a respectful, even tempered, way. For this, I am very thankful. It's not like this everywhere else, as I've just experienced.
Remember The Naked Pastor? I wrote about him, briefly, a while back. Well, David Hayward (the Naked Pastor), has recently decided to leave his church. He just feels like he doesn't belong there anymore for whatever reason and he is leaving on good terms. Of course, this is met with an outpouring of support from his friends and blog readers. I, personally, sent no note of encouragement because, while I enjoy his blog, I don't really care if he works at a church or not. But he seems like a decent guy and I do wish him all the best.
So then there is a blog called Remonstrans written by a guy named Norm who goes by the alias "Dissidens." I believe the blog is set up to be a critique on the "emerging church" but honestly, I haven't looked at it past the post in question. Dissidens doesn't like Naked Pastor. Seems to have a vendetta against him, to me. So he posted this blog about David's leaving. I didn't really find anything terribly awful in the post. He's entitled to his opinions. I thought calling David a "basket case" was petty, but mild.
The only reason I found the blog was because David linked to it in his response. But it wasn't until I saw the first two comments that I thought I should speak up. Here is the conversation, as it pertains to me, in its entirety.
Team Us is in bold.
Team Them in italics.
That’s true: the horror of this hits someone who has read Dave’s jitney creed and the sycophants he’s attracted.
When these people desire a theology that commends itself to their sad intellects, this is what they get and this is the price they pay! Hayward questioned everything but himself, and this is his legacy.
What a grisly soul.
So I said:
Sad intellects? Jesus, you guys clearly know everything. Better a sycophant than an asshole.
It was several comments later before anyone thought that what I said was worth commenting on and it came from someone calling themselves "The Divine Passive."
I can't tell if Taylor is both praying AND cussing, or merely cussing. The NP would be proud either way I suppose.
Well, I couldn't have people think I'm praying so....
The Divine Passive,
I'm just cussing.
Simple enough, right? I really thought that I was done there, but Dissidens couldn't have me leave without a dose of good ol' scripture.
Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
Do you not fear God, Taylor?
Well, he asked me a question, so he deserves an honest answer. I've always thought the terminology of "fearing God" is strange, but I've had it explained to me in more ways than I care to remember so I get it. I know what Christians mean when they say it, more or less.
If there is a god, then I'm relatively sure it's not Jehovah, so I would say that I fear your god about as much as I fear Santa Claus.
Also, I guess I should clarify that I don't fear Santa Claus
Now here is where it gets really juicy. Dissidens comes out swinging!
Now see, this is exactly why I think Hell was a brilliant idea. You’re not sure there is a god, but you’re pretty sure it isn’t one particular god, and on the strength of that uncertainty you blaspheme his name when he explicitly told everyone not to.
If you can’t reason with such a person, what more appropriate future could there than eternal confusion?
So not only is this lovely soul glad that there is a hell (or glad he can think there is, anyway) he's particularly pleased that I'm going. Now the concept of hell is a discussion I'm not trying to have right now, but I will say that the idea that god will forgive child molesters, rapists, and murderers but has no room in his heart for people who are not easily convinced of the far fetched, is....weak sauce. Anyway, this was my favorite response because his was so primed for parroting. So I said....
Now see, this is exactly why I think cussing was such a brilliant idea. You've got no empirical evidence that there even is a god, but you're somehow certain that you've picked the right one, and on the strength of that unjustified certainty you belittle and condescend to people who differ from, but are still just as clueless as, you. At least the folks over at Naked Pastor seem to enjoy a sense of self awareness that you're apparently not privy to.
If you can't reason with such a person, what more appropriate future could there be than to be eternally called an asshole?
So he said...
Who says a) that I don’t have empirical evidence for the existence of Yahweh? and b) that only empirical evidence is sufficient for belief? Why couldn’t faith derive from logic and first principles?
You’re as good a philosopher as Dave is a theologian. I can see how you would appreciate his sense of self-awareness.
And then I went home and lived life and Todd and Hollie came over and we played in the park and ate pizza and watched Lost and went to bed. So I didn't have time to respond and in my absence, Mike The Infidel stepped in and said a lot of what I wanted to say...
I'm more than a bit amused by someone who describes hell as 'eternal confusion' in a comment on a post talking about people's attitudes being non-biblical. Where, pray tell, does this conception of hell come from?
a) Please, provide it.
b) Faith is enough for belief, certainly, but why should faith be valued?
Before Dissidens could get back to him, The Divine Passive was back and he had some questions for Mike and I...
Mike and Taylor
How should I (or any other Christian) understand your hanging around Christian sites if your "spiritual journey" has taken you away from Christianity? And what is it about the NP that you find attractive?
AND THEN I'M BACK AND I'M JABBING AND I'M SWINGING...
Well, I don't recall being much of a philosopher on here, but this is great, I've been looking for someone who has all the answers and here you've been all along. If it weren't for the Naked Pastor, I'd never have found the one person with empirical, testable, verifiable, evidence that not only does god exist but we know his name.
So, although Mike already beat me to the punch here, if you've got such evidence, prove it. My email is taylorglenmuse (at) gmail (dot) com. If you don't mind, write me an email explaining and demonstrating this evidence. If it is truly empirical, then you should be able to prove yourself right, beyond a reasonable doubt. Try to remember my "sad intellect" though and use small, concise words.
However, if you can't really prove it, then all you've proven yourself to be is an unyielding, arrogant, person who puts theology ahead of people. In other words, you're a pharisee, and we all know how Jesus felt about them.
The Divine Passive:
I can't speak for Mike, but I'm only on this blog because NP linked it, and then this guy called people that read NP "sycophants" with "sad intellects" so I called him an "asshole," and so on and so on. I guess the shorter answer is "because I have a lot of free time at work, and I find religion interesting even if I no longer partake."
What I like about the NP, is that he's often pretty funny and/or insightful, and while a lot of Christian blogs tend to sell what I consider unjustified certainty, while being completely unable to understand how anyone could disagree with them, it's refreshing for someone to be the slightest bit humble about their faith while understanding how some can not believe.
AND HERE COMES DISSIDENS...only he doesn't really want to talk...He'd rather talk about talking.
God works in mysterious ways, doesn’t he? I don’t guess we get many readers via nakedpastor.com, but then not many people get to Nineveh via a nasty fish. God appears to have a wicked--if I can use that word--sense of humor.
I can see you’re having trouble focusing here, Taylor. I understand how a steady diet of the assumptions and platitudes one gets from Hayward could encourage a habit of sloppy thinking, but let’s tidy this up a bit. Back while you were scrambling for a spell-checker you said, (comment #28) “You've got no empirical evidence that there even is a god…”. That is the kind of self-serving assumption a lot of skeptics make about my life.
If you read my answer more carefully than you read the opinions on NP, you will discover that I never said a) that I ever had empirical evidence, or b) that I could “prove it”—your words. I was challenging your own claim that I had no such empirical evidence; you don’t know if I have or if I haven’t. So here right at the beginning of your gymnastic routine you’ve already fallen slap off the beam.
Make A Note: I didn’t say I had empirical evidence, I said you couldn’t know whether I have or haven’t. That was your first faceplant.
It might—but probably won’t—interest you to know that I believe God is 1) invisible, 2) inscrutable, and 3) ineffable; I cannot see him, I cannot comprehend him, and I cannot explain him—even to myself, let alone to a miseducated skeptic. If God doesn’t want you to see him, he could sit on the bridge of your nose and whistle to you and you still could not detect him, even “empirically”.
Your second faceplant was the assumption that the only way I might come by reliable knowledge (or faith) was empirically. If your Mom could go to the bookstore and bring home an idiot’s guide to flossfy, you could look up the word “empirical” and learn that not all knowledge comes through experience or science. If your Mom won’t do that for you, go here and follow the links.
Read Kant if you can, he’s helped many people all over the world.
"Don't say I don't have evidence!!!" OK, what evidence? "I NEVER said I had evidence, you're stupid. Read Kant."
And then a newcomer joined in, by the name of Warren, and he's got a few assumptions he'd like to make...
I enjoyed the Pharisee slight from someone who believes that Jesus was wrong about Theology and therefore people anyway.
I also like the fact you borrow from Theistic morality to judge. Unless of course you can define morality from naturalism.
I clicked on his link only to be unsurprised by the kind of up-our-own-ass apologetics that are so tiring. "If you want me to believe it I need proof" "You won't believe it no matter what the proof is!!" "Well, we'll never know until you actually show me some, will we?" "First you prove me wrong!" *Facepalm.
While I was drafting my final response, a fella named Joshua Allen joined in. I'm not sure what side he's on but I got a chuckle out of his response, either way...
@Taylor: You're challenging the wrong person. You should demand proof from God Himself. You should challenge God to a game of chess, and publish the challenge details far and wide, so that God cannot fail to hear you. If He shows up and beats you at chess, you'll have a story to tell. But if he doesn't show up, you'll be able to tell everyone that God doesn't exist, or at least that you are a better chess player than God.
Clearly, God would not let a challenge from a mortal like yourself go unanswered, since it would be so damaging to His reputation. Therefore, failure to appear is proof of lack of existence, or else fear of something even worse -- being a bad chess player.
Alas, I already know that I am a horrible, horrible chess player and I'm painfully aware of what a waste of time this has been and would continue to be. I just wanted to throw a little support behind David, call an asshole an asshole and be on my way, so I said...
Well, as fun as semantics and assumptions can be, I don't appear to have been wrong, do I? I said you didn't have evidence, you implied that that was not the case, I asked for it, and now you want to make the argument about whether or not you ever really said you had any. And you want to accuse me of intellectual gymnastics?
I know this is a complete waste of time, but if god is all the things you say he is, how did you come to know so much more about him than everyone else? There doesn't seem to be anything of substance here, just a theological "I know you are but what am I?!"
"...I believe God is 1) invisible, 2) inscrutable, and 3) ineffable; I cannot see him, I cannot comprehend him, and I cannot explain him—even to myself, let alone to a miseducated skeptic."
How convenient. You'd think those beliefs would lend themselves to a more humble approach but I suppose Kant can explain how you should be a dickhead to everyone that disagrees with you. I think we're done now. You talk a lot but don't say very much.
Is it not possible to disagree with some things a person says and agree with others? Just because I don't believe that Jesus was god doesn't mean I don't think he said some lovely things. I would ask you to explain how Theists have exclusive rights to morality but I'm probably not going to be around to read it. I would also ask why you assume I'm a naturalist. Naturalists aren't the only thing you can be if you're not a theist, you know.
So that's what I've been doing. It was a good time but I won't be going back to see if anyone responds further, because I don't want to get drawn back in, and I know I could be. But it did make me appreciate the conversations that we have here that much more. I kind of understand them calling me names and saying I'm painfully ignorant or whatever they would say, but I think it's really weird to have that level of animosity towards David, who differs greatly on a lot of issues, to be sure, but still believes the same basic things. Seems theologically cannibalistic.