Archive for the Primary Category

“Not Like those Other Christians”

Posted in Primary on March 31, 2014 by RWZero

The argument:

“You can’t use what Christians do as evidence against Christianity, because Christians are just fallible humans. Only the Bible really represents the Bible.”

The problem with it:

A) The actions and beliefs of Christians are based on sincere interpretations of the Bible

B) Sincere seekers of the Christian God should not be led into serious error as a direct result of believing in and reading the Bible, unless the Christian God is false.

C) Christian behaviour is often used to support Christianity (“look how it changed my life!”) but when it does not support Christianity we are supposed to discount it.

 

If a book / belief system leads millions of people to do and say the exact same crazy / incorrect / mistaken things, then it is fair to weigh this evidence when deciding whether the book / belief system is really a calculated revelation from the Almighty Creator of All Things.

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Tale of the Visible God

Posted in Primary on March 25, 2014 by RWZero

In some possible world W’, to be distinguished from W, the actual world, there was a god, who was called God. His appearance was that of a pillar of fire and light, and his voice was an impressive baritone, which issued forth to four arbitrarily-chosen points on the surface of the earth that were equidistantly far away.

The citizens of W’ were accustomed to life with God. He bid them good morning at sunrise, and he bid them goodnight at sunset. They thought little of the pillar of fire and light, which flitted from place to place, attending to the business of the day. They made countless requests of God each day, and all of them he answered, though the answer was not always favourable. God made time for anyone who made time for him–there was friendship, there was laughter, and no one suffered for want of anything.

But the citizens of W’ began to wonder: Where had this world come from? Why was there anything at all? The rolling hills, the colours of the trees, the mountains and the sunset, the vivid impressions of the pillar of fire and light, the booming voice–it seemed mad to think that this was all “just here.” It was mad to think that it was even real… and yet it was: With every closing and opening of the eyes, with every sleep and every wake, it remained, and it ground onwards like some vast and complex machine. So it was decided, one day, that a crowd of brave and inquisitive citizens would put these questions to God, who seemed to know the answer to pretty much everything.

“Reality?” said God, somewhat taken aback. “Existence? The universe? That was me. I made it. I do apologize if that wasn’t clear. I just assumed.”

“But how can that be?” said the crowd.

“See for yourself,” said God, and he inspired a number among them to become scientists, and the scientists peered back into the origins of W’, discovering that it had come together through complex processes of biological and cosmological evolution (in fact it was quite similar to W), leading back to a moment when the whole of it was compressed to a point of infinite density, and at which point scientific scrutiny could take them no further.

“And that’s where I started it off,” said God. “Clever, isn’t it? It practically runs itself!”

There was a moment of silence. Those who had remained stared upwards, unmoving.

“Then what about you?” they asked. “Who are you? Where did you come from?”

“I’ve always been here,” said God. There was another silence, lasting much longer than the first silence.

“Can you believe this?” the people said, discussing amongst themselves. “First he tells us that he ‘started it off.’ Then he tells us that he’s just always been here! What are we to make of all that? We know the universe came from the Big Bang, but we don’t know where this fellow comes from.”

“Why do you doubt?” said God, knowing their thoughts. “I exist in and outside of time. I am perfect. I am all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-present. I am simple. And I love every one of you. It makes more sense for me to exist, than for me not to exist. At least that much you must admit.”

But they began to grumble amongst themselves. For years they had wondered about the answers. Here they were, this pillar of fire looming above them, tongues of flame swirling about the pulsing light. This, the most salient feature of the world–this thing of vast intelligence and unlimited power–cried out for an explanation, and here it passed itself off as brute fact. It flaunted its ontological independence. It threatened absurdity. And so the crowd began to speculate that perhaps God was withholding the answers from them. Worse, perhaps he did not even know them himself.

“Hey!” said God, becoming perturbed. “When have I ever lied to you? What use has an all-powerful being for lies? If it’s assurance you’re looking for, I can give it to you.” And God filled them with a deep and pervading assurance that he was telling the truth. Then their suspicions were raised even further, for this seemed to be coercion, and a direct infringement upon their free will.

Then they fled, trembling and bewildered, for they were afraid.

Over the years, speculation arose among the philosophers of W’ as to the true nature of reality. Some said that it was all a dream, from which they would one day awaken. Some said that a higher being had created God to look after this particular universe, but had kept him in the dark about everything else (a fact he was too embarrassed to admit). Some said that God was an epiphenomenon, or an emergent property of the universe. Some said he was a freak and ongoing concatenation of profoundly unlikely quantum events and that he should not be taken seriously. Some said that he was a collective, instinctive hallucination that had evolved in human brains to place checks and balances on sex, violence, theft, and so on–but that it was amazing (and remarkably annoying) that this adaptation had survived to present day, since it was no longer necessary in modern civilization.

Disgusted by the spectacle, God left W’.

*

In the centuries that followed, children asked their parents the fundamental questions: What did it all mean? Where did the universe come from? Why was there something, rather than nothing? They were told, then, that it had all come from God, the all-powerful creator, who left the world long ago due to mankind’s insolence and doubt.

While some treated the story with skepticism, most found it to be a pretty satisfying explanation. And when they looked up into the night sky, they did not wonder about what it all meant, why it was there, or where it came from. They just wondered what it would be like to have God back.

The Book

Posted in Primary on March 31, 2013 by RWZero

Stayed up until 4:00 AM last night writing a few more pages.

It’ll get done.

Philosophy exams in May, so I haven’t had much time to work on wrapping up the stuff I’ve written / am going to write about this. I am mostly out of things to say; it’s just a matter of compiling it.

Christmas 2012

Posted in Primary on December 24, 2012 by RWZero

The carols rang out over the neighbourhood

Someone wrote an article advising readers not to give to the bigoted and/or homophobic Salvation Army, because they are against gay rights

The CFI hosted a “winter solstice” party, in lieu of a Christmas party

I lined up for a six pack of Westvleteren XII, and I succeeded in getting one

I booked a ticket to the Dominican with my Dominican co-worker

There’s always a bit of snow, a bit of spirit, a bit of Jesus and a few gifts, but it’s still the least like Christmas it’s ever been.

The Plan from Here

Posted in Primary on August 27, 2012 by RWZero

So. What should I do…

For a while now I’ve been writing posts on here intermittently, as things have come to mind. Most of them can be divided into: complaining about Christianity, or complaining about the way certain atheists complain about Christianity. A small trickle of people still read the blog, but it looks like they mostly come across it in search results, rather than because of anything new that gets posted. Nobody comes here to argue with me–they scarcely ever did, neither when I was defending Christianity nor when I was attacking it. I am likely to repeat myself if I post stray comments. So it’s time to stop the way I’m doing it right now.

I’ll stop posting generic objections to Christian beliefs. I am compiling pretty much all the issues into a little book that I will post at some point–yes, there are a lot of books detailing the objections to Christianity, but there are a lot of small, more subtle objections that those books tend to overlook. And whatever: this has been my life, so I get to write about it. I’ve posted about some of these issues here; others I haven’t. There are a lot of them. I am imagining that it will be about 70, 80, maybe 100 pages in the end, with one disconfirmatory observation per page.

The other little book that I intended to post was the original writing project–this blog was supposed to be the chapter-by-chapter writing of a book in defence of the Christian faith called “Reflections in Stained Glass,” comprising about 100 essays defending the key aspects of the faith. As the reader may or may not be aware, I wrote these, I got to the end of them, and found (around that time, for reasons that were not entirely related to writing my thoughts down) that the ideas could not stand up under their own weight. I went back and revised all these essays (there are nearly 100 of them) and changed the thinking to match my current perspective. The intent, now, is to finish up a compilation that has the “before” essays in the first half, and the “after” essays in the second half. The purpose is to document and show the change in my beliefs, and to compare the “before” thinking with the “after” thinking–one of the most noticeable things about it is that my essays have not changed very much. So the “before” essays are a picture of someone who has been pushed just to the edge of the line.

I’ve already revised all the RISG essays; I just have to compile them.

I have not written the “Problems with Christianity” compilation; that will probably be a while, and few / no people currently reading this will come back to this corner of the Internet to see if I’ve posted it. Such things are a dime a dozen.

*

Christianity continues to affect my life, and it continues to affect the world. As such, I will continue to write posts on here about the following topics (for now):

1. Things that affect my life. For instance, someone shoved two Bible tracts into my car the other week, depicting children burning in hell. I was going to scan them and talk about them for a bit.

2. Things that happen in the world at large. For instance, religiosity is declining in some parts of the world, laws are being changed, Muslims are moving into new places…

3. Things that happen in the Christian world. Books that I read, prominent evangelicals who die or change their minds about things, where the movement is headed on its path towards its final destiny.

The only other things I will post are the two compilations mentioned above. Furthermore, I was at some point considering writing a book called “The Lonely Pulpit,” which was going to be a review of churches that I visited. I may still do this, even though it will no longer be from the same perspective. It would be a good survey of the state of churches (at least in my city) today. However, perhaps this would be better as a separate blog. Ship of Fools once had something called “Mystery Worshipper,” which was based on a similar idea.

That’s what happens next.

Vacation

Posted in Primary on August 20, 2011 by RWZero

I’m off for a week. And guess where I’m going to be?

A church-run music camp.

If you really want to know how this happened, you can ask me. But that’s where I’m going to be.

Also I went from having a 10-year-old Nokia phone with an antenna and a broken keypad to having a Samsung Galaxy S2 smartphone yesterday, because the phone was just getting too ghetto. So you can now… rely on my cell phone, if you haven’t been doing so before.

I upgrade my technology in quantum leaps, and never for the sake of trendiness. Form follows function. End of line.

Interstice

Posted in Primary on April 28, 2011 by RWZero

Traveling to Ireland from April 29 – May 11.

When I return, I will have nothing ahead of me again.

I don’t know how I’m going to keep on doing this.