Quote of the Day: Penance

One reason I engage in some of the conversations I do is as penance for having previously been on the other side – Dr. James McGrath.

Yup, and amen.

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38 Replies to “Quote of the Day: Penance”

  1. Certainly the personalities our different. They both believe and teach that the supernatural creative powers of God reside exclusively in the creation itself. Darwinism has two mutually exclusive forms: An atheistic variety which asserts that “scientists” have proven everything so that the design in nature is pure evidence of evolution. Then there is the theistic Darwinism which asserts that design in nature proves God, but the evidence favors long ages and evolution. Theistic Darwinism denies that “scientists” have explained everything – and God probably had to intervene to direct evolution. (Theistic Darwinism is much more common than Atheistic Darwinism.) McGrath's Darwinism is the atheistic version.

  2. Certainly I think James is more complex. Regarding the “redefine words” comment, I am a conservative, and our usual fault is not that we redefine, but that we get excessively fussy when the definition and the usage don't conform. It is the fault of liberals to be constantly adjusting definitions.

    That being said, I defined evolution as any explanation of origins that doesn't acknowledge God. This doesn't qualify as a redefine because evolution doesn't have an agreed upon definition. Dawkins doesn't even try to define it. But you are correct in that I have chosen the definition because it reflects the usage of the term by intellectuals.

  3. Or perhaps, it is not a conservative/liberal thing at all. I view the fact that words have settled meanings as something important to rhetoric and dialogue. We do not invalidate a word's meaning if that application is something that we do not agree with. Nor do we invalidate a person's work if that work is something we disagree with. Such things lead to subjectivity, in which the 'truth' is defined only by the consensus of the majority.

    I was mainly referring to your scare quotes around 'scientists'.

  4. Joel what evidence to you have to support your claim that I am an angry man. I deny it. Sheesh. Are YOU an angry man because you reject Hinduism or Islam or Orthodox Religion? Hey, maybe you're an angry man because you reject all of the same religions and Christian sect I do except for your own?

    I can and I do get miffed when someone repeatedly ignores my protestations to the contrary without any evidence for them, but hey, you don't have much by way of evidence for what you believe anyway. you believe what you believe and nothing I can say would change that fact.

    So I challenge you to define what an angry person is and show evidence that I am.

    I am no more angry at the Christian God as you are with Allah, you see. Neither one exists. I am not in the habit of being angry at hobbits, elves trolls demons angels of gods.

    Oh, but wait, maybe I protest too much, right? That's all the evidence you need.

    If so I'll repeatedly mischaracterize you and see if you get miffed at my doing so.

  5. If there was an atheist counterpart to JP Holding who does to you what he does to us you would get angry too, very much so. As I said even a cuddly dog can be provoked to take a bite out of you. You see, I'm the cuddly dog who was provoked repeatedly to take a bite out of Holding. You don't understand do you? I could make you want to kill me. You probably don't understand that either, do you?

  6. BTW: Let me say this months in advance and for the first time anywhere right here.

    If you're equating anger with my level of atheist argumentation and activism, which seems patently obvious to me, then you ain't seen nothing yet.

  7. Don't mistake my passion for anger either. “One reason I engage in some of the conversations I do is as penance for having previously been on the other side.” – Dr. James McGrath.

    You see, conversations are what I seek too. In fact, I'll be co-writing a book with a Christian philosopher to be titled, “Who's Delusional: A Christian and a Skeptic in Dialogue,” to be announced next month or so. If I was truly angry why would I do this? Why would he want to do this if I'm angry? Who wants to “dialogue” with an angry person? Usually you can't do this with an angry person.

  8. John, take your response here, for example.

    I am not saying you generally don't have a reason to be inherently angry. I'm not saying that it is excusable, but, your anger against Christians and Christianity, especially the more conservative kind, is generally understood. And I understand that.

  9. Labeling a person by one emotion seems very unproductive (if not entirely wrong-headed demagoguery). We are all, at times, angry, fearful, lusting, dull, craving, scared, or some negative emotion. Fortunately few of us cultures those emotions to define ourselves by just one. It is the positive emotions we should culture, even in our disagreements when possible.

  10. Ah, I see. Thanks. I imagine penance for such things draws much blood! 😉
    I wrote a “Please Forgive Me” post for my days of fundamentalism. And like James, on good days, I try to dialogue patiently and peacefully remembering my old self. Besides, I benefit greatly from dialogue.

  11. I try to remember that I might not just be right. For me, I try to pray about things more, instead of relying upon my own understanding. I search things out more. Granted, I don't always do these things, but I am trying

  12. My obvious question is, “Can such a broad generalization be true enough to be useful”? I am sure that John, in many situations, does not show anger and is naturally relaxed and happy. Are there situations that turn you into an “angry man”?

  13. I don't think I was generalizing, only that John is angry when it comes to Christians and Christianity. I am sure John is a rather calm man. His emails, the few that we've had, have shown nothing but, however, when it comes to religion….not so much.

  14. Well, in one sense you are right about me, but in an unexpected way. I wrote about it right here:


    But one thing is true. I am not angry toward Christians themselves. That is a huge non-sequitur for which there is no evidence under normal circumstances.

    And you are naive to think I could not make you want to kill me. There are limits to what even a peacemaker like you can accept. Naive is what you are. Delusional in fact, about this, that and other things.

  15. John, I don't typically describe Atheists at angry, by the way, just a few that have come from fundamentalist path.

    Nah, I don't think so, John. You don't have it in you. Now, Glenn Beck… something I want to bloody him, but you… I understand your motivation.

  16. “And you are naive to think I could not make you want to kill me. There are limits to what even a peacemaker like you can accept. Naive is what you are. Delusional in fact, about this, that and other things. “

    Some of my friends went through the great atheist slaughterfest called the cultural revolution – atheism being the most blood thirsty ideology that history has ever known. I have seen that the power of God and forgiveness is far beyond anything you can comprehend.

  17. Joel, I think you can generalize and say that the notion of naive is a a key doctrine of the atheist religion:

    “Atheism is true, because if you don't believe then you are (insert ad hominem).”

    The good news is that it is nothing personal!

  18. “naive” has several meanings:
    1) unsophisticate
    2) having or showing a lack of experience, judgment, or information.

    I wonder which nuance John is after. But I must say, I too have frustrations with anti-science folks who don't know science. Many religious folks fall into this category. But it is not their religion that is a problem. For I know lots of science-sophisticated, logic-skilled theological types. But we all have our blind spots and we all turn off our logic or our observations to protect our interests. But the religious tend to disvalue science and reasoning in favor of revelation and tradition far more than atheists — if we must typify. I'd wager that this is John's frustration and what he may call “naive”. But again, we need to be specific where we feel a person lacks experience or knowledge — for Lord Buddha knows we all lack it! 🙂

    But we are all naive. That is not to say we should give up on knowledge, but we should try to limit our short-comings. For this, we need agreed upon methodology. Name-calling will not build toward that. The challenge is that many folks are not interested in true knowledge or methodology but instead, only to the extent that it protects their turf — atheist or theist.

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