The new Carnival of the Godless is at Neural Gourmet. Go check it out!
The next CotG is at Klaas Acts in two weeks.
I enjoyed meeting you yesterday in Minnesota, and I think that what you have done to open a dialogue with the religious may have some long-term benefits as they see that we really don’t always breathe fire nor do we always succumb to the temptation to use the Bible as toilet paper.
I look forward to reading the book; but until I do I have a few legitimate concerns that what you are doing with churches is actually being used to “improve” their worship and honing their evangelization towards atheists.
Of course my suggestion on how they can improve their churches is to forget the whole “God” thing and live in the here and now, but I doubt that they would listen. But doesn’t it bother you to think that you are being used by church leaders? The Q&A session was too short IMHO and time was taken up by people asking questions that I thought were irrelevant to your particular story.
I look forward to reading your book, but if you haven’t addressed this question in the book, have you addressed it in other places? If not, would you please address it for me here?
Thanks Tangled Up in Blue Guy
I’ll answer what I got out of the introduction. Hemant doesn’t want to create new atheists with this book, or even add new converts to Christianity. The result of people becoming disinterested in religion because a service is poor, is an apathy toward religion in general, not atheism.
So, Bjorn, I got that and I am sure that what Hemant is trying to do is based in his desire to achieve friendly discourse between the religious and the Godless. If, as it seems to be, that churches are making changes based on what he tells them they are doing wrong then isn’t he helping them strengthen their mission?
That’s what I would like to read. It seems to me that Hemant is opening himself up to being used. He can’t control what they write about him, and even one article made the false claim that he has converted to Christianity.
I don’t know what Hemant’s goals are with pointing out problems with church services. I can guess that if people become apathetic toward religion in general, then you stop searching for the truth, what ever that may mean to you, which would be a negative on society. Perhaps the bigger picture, is not seeing religion is a tool for oppression, but a means to give certain people comfort during trying times, as a vehicle for social change, and a motivator to get people to do good things.
Perhaps Hemant doesn’t think increased church membership would be a bad thing. After all, his book isn’t written for atheists. It could be empowering for certain people who didn’t think they could question what a pastor was doing, or how a service is presented, or even the fundamentals of their organization’s beliefs.
I’m sure there are consulting groups out there who work with churches to gain membership, who do a much deeper analysis then Hemant does. The church my family attended had a marketing director. Could they twist this story for their own benefit, sure. By criticizing services, you allow a church to hone their sales pitch, and create a more effective service.
I don’t know what the answer is. I think it’s good there is a dialog. And I do think that pointing out ineffective parts of church services could lead to greater membership at certain churches who don’t preach a message of tolerance and equality. I don’t know what the answer is, or what the goals should be of an atheist. Should atheists be concerned with getting converts, with preaching science on the street corner? Should the goal be to use whatever means available to get people, on a whole, to lead better, more compassionate lives?
Mike– I answered a similar question here. I also address the question in the book.
There are some articles I can’t control, but the book is in my control. And I don’t think getting Christians to think about where I’m coming from would help their services become more fundamental. If anything, I can help churchgoers learn more about atheism, how to think critically, and what they’re doing that makes people like us upset. Those are lofty goals, but I don’t think what I’m writing will change churches in a way that hurts atheists. Hope that answers your questions.
I would ask, what’s the problem with churches getting better at telling their story? Even if their “story” or their message brings more people from atheism to Christianity?
I’m an atheist, but perhaps it’s because I have yet to hear a clinching argument that’s out there but undiscovered by a believer…
I’ve said it before, if God is real, and out there, then it’s VERY important that believers step up their efforts for evidence and proof.
I suspect that there is no God, at least not in any way humans have described it. But I want to hear the BEST arguments for God, not the weak ones. Intellectual rigor demands nothing less.
Siamang, I understand what you’re saying about wanting to exhaust all the possibilities in a search for God in the name of intellectual rigor, but there are an infinite number of dumb ideas. Is it really necessary to spend an infinite amount of effort investigating their infinite number of possibilities? If after thousands of years of argument by people just as smart as anyone alive today we haven’t found that one golden argument that clinches it, is it not beyond reason to keep looking? There are far more important here-and-now questions that must be answered. What a colossal waste of brain power.
Have you ever searched for something for hours and finally given up, and only then because of the actions you took after giving up you found the thing? My keys, my glasses, God, the TV remote; maybe we should give up and win. Maybe when the last person on earth completely gives up looking for God only then will humanity take actions that will finally reveal whatever transient, unknowable truth is there for the knowing if it’s there at all.
I meant to write transcendent, rather than transient. Although maybe it’s transient too, now that I think about it…
Is it really necessary to spend an infinite amount of effort investigating their infinite number of possibilities?
I’ll leave that effort to the believers. If they are content to look under every rock and peer into the dark matter of the universe looking for the First Cause (hallowed be Thy name), let them by all means.
What I’m attempting to communicate to Mike is that rational people have nothing to fear from Christians upgrading their arguments. I would like them to PLEASE upgrade them! Much of their previous ones have become a bit old and tired out and no fun to play with!
But I don’t fear, “oh nooooes, Hemant might give away our soooper sekret atheist counter-challenges, and then a church might figure out the Holy-Handgrenade against Skepticism!”
Sorry for the silly tone of my reply. I don’t mean to make light of your comments, Mike Haubrich and Richard Wade. My sentiments are sincere.
I am not afraid of them getting secrets, the EAC is more than effective enough at protecting the secrets.
I’m just wondering if I am going to get more and more evangelizers coming at me thinking they know how to get inside me head.