Friendly Christian Interviews Friendly Atheist

You can now read a brief interview I did with Bill (the Friendly Christian) at his site.

I even tell him about my hidden talent…


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • http://Skepticsanctuary.com Tom

    What!? No blood, no drama? Geez, you guys sure are friendly;)

  • Aj

    Bill: I am constantly questioning my beliefs.

    I don’t believe a theist that says that. One, they all say it, two, they all have faith. If you’re not going to bring constraints onto your beliefs, you can’t question them. You can’t question faith based beliefs, without questioning faith itself. Once you’ve reached the correct decision, it’s going to seem absurd to believe in anything without evidence. If you question faith, it’s not going to continue. It’s a nonsense phrase, that when asked, theists haven’t got an answer for:

    Bill: I mean that I allow myself to question why I believe what I believe.

    It’s just something they say that means absolutely nothing, explains nothing, but looks reasonable and justified. They’ll claim that there’s evidence for God as well. That faith is “non-rational, not irrational”, like somehow rationality should be neglected for certain statements about knowledge and the universe, without given *reason* as to why.

    Hemant:…The atheists who wish you’d just cross over need to let you come to a decision on your own. The question of faith is a personal one. No one can force it on you. So ignore everyone that wants you on their side…

    These statements from some Atheists are troubling to me. It’s his decision, and no one can force someone to believe or not believe. Atheists should encourage people. There seems to be the implication that Atheists who suggest that people shouldn’t have faith are imposing themselves, like the merely trying to “convert” someone to unbelief is doing something wrong. Isn’t that what Dawkins argues so well? Aren’t we allowed to write and talk, to this end?

    There’s no argument against this that I know of, one that tells you, you can’t purposely influence people in personal decisions. Suggesting people ignore the call to drop faith, is very unhelpful. There seems to be an implication with the inference of “personal” that somehow Atheists are intruding on people’s private space, that should be protected, and respected. It’s not like people are advocating harrassment, but the tone of the complains suggests they are. Are some Atheists saying that reason isn’t important, that we shouldn’t advocate it? Are they saying they believe in belief, that others don’t need rationality?

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    I don’t believe a theist that says that. One, they all say it, two, they all have faith.

    So, it’s your faith that all “theists” say that they question their faith and their faith leads to your faith that because they have faith that prevents them from being able to question their beliefs even though they say they do. So, why should anyone believe that you believe what you say you believe about other peoples’ beliefs on your assumption that their faith prevents them from questioning their beliefs?

    That was fun.

    I assume you haven’t read the Mother Teresa letters yet, or large numbers of other religious believers who have questioned their beliefs and in many cases changed them. How would religious believers ever change religions or lose their faith if having faith precludes their questioning their beliefs in the first place?

    I’d never suggest that atheists should have religious faith even while pointing out that every single person with a functioning brain has some kind of faith in many things they don’t know. All scientists have faith that the things they have not mastered for themselves but which are accepted “fact” in their science are true. A lot of that is due to the faith they have in what they vaguely think of as the dependability of “scientific method”. This is especially true of other areas of science with which they have even less familiarity. In many cases that faith is quite a leap of faith. Dawkins certainly asks people to have faith in his absurd “memes” with absolutely no evidence that they exist and much evidence that they make no sense. His ever faithful Dennett’s explanation of them is a tissue of self-contradiction such as is seldom encountered in allegedly scientific discourse. I’ve never seen an explaination as to why the idea is necessary or even useful, except to try to patch up his other “science”. I reject that dogma as do many scientists, apparently. Many people accept memes based on absolutely nothing other than their faith in Richard Dawkins.

  • Kate

    I don’t believe a theist that says that. One, they all say it, two, they all have faith. If you’re not going to bring constraints onto your beliefs, you can’t question them. You can’t question faith based beliefs, without questioning faith itself. Once you’ve reached the correct decision, it’s going to seem absurd to believe in anything without evidence. If you question faith, it’s not going to continue. It’s a nonsense phrase, that when asked, theists haven’t got an answer for:

    Hmmm…I’ll have to pass that onto my boyfriend, a practicing Christian who actually DOES say that, and means it. He can probably explain and elaborate better, but it just means he’s evaluating, questioning, learning more. His faith in God can be strong while he questions the details/paths of what that belief and faith means to him and how to apply it, what the true path to God is.

    I have no respect for anyone who fails to question their beliefs, Christian, other, OR atheist.

  • Aj

    Hmmm…I’ll have to pass that onto my boyfriend, a practicing Christian who actually DOES say that, and means it. He can probably explain and elaborate better, but it just means he’s evaluating, questioning, learning more. His faith in God can be strong while he questions the details/paths of what that belief and faith means to him and how to apply it, what the true path to God is.

    I don’t understand how someone can question their own faith. If you believe in something, without evidence, on what basis are you going to question that? What’s there to learn and evaluate? I understand that kind of questioning, faith first, then position everything around that. A Christian says, “How can you believe in unicorns and fairies?” Faith bubbles, people can question all beliefs but their own.

    If you’re trying to find the true path to *God*, there’s already faith in something, and that’s not questioning. Your boyfriend seems to be rearranging his worldview around the details of his faith, to figure out the true path to God (one such detail). That’s not questioning beliefs to me, that’s going back to the pool of faith for another sip, at most, rearranging faith.

    If that’s what they mean, I don’t see how any religious person cannot “questions their beliefs”, if they mean outside of their faith. If you’re doubting your faith, you have lost faith, essentially an atheist. I wish more people would doubt their beliefs, and less “question” them.

  • Maria

    If that’s what they mean, I don’t see how any religious person cannot “questions their beliefs”, if they mean outside of their faith. If you’re doubting your faith, you have lost faith, essentially an atheist. I wish more people would doubt their beliefs, and less “question” them.

    No, doubting does not always make you an atheist. You can be agnostic, deist, skeptic, spiritual humanist-there are many ways to define oneself, and it is up to each person. The world isn’t divided into just atheists and theists.

  • Darryl

    I don’t understand how someone can question their own faith. If you believe in something, without evidence, on what basis are you going to question that?

    Excellent question, Aj. I think it’s clear that people will believe out of will not reason. It’s the content of their belief that is the deciding factor, isn’t it? If I love the Jesus story–sacrifice, redemption, and all that–won’t that be enough to convince me? Perhaps I’ll need the warm, welcoming acceptance of a stranger in a worship service, who will put his arm around a complete stranger and say words to me that are caring and kind. Who would resist such overtures of friendship and humankindness? If I am “down and out” and someone is there to help me who wears a clerical collar, won’t that impress me?

    I see things changing in the world. I see that one day, religious people of whatever faith will be so close to my vision of the universe–our vision, that our differences won’t matter any more. That day is coming; perhaps it’s already here. I have more in common with Pastor Mike than with many atheists. There is hope for him and me, and for Aj, and Mriana and Maria, and Richard, and Kate, and . . . all of us.

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    I don’t understand how someone can question their own faith.

    Well, fundamentalists don’t, not the real hard core. Maybe you have to have faith to understand how you can question your faith. I’ve always doubted that fundamentalists have faith, which is why they cling so hard to their ideologies in the face of evidence.

  • Aj

    -Maria

    No, doubting does not always make you an atheist. You can be agnostic, deist, skeptic, spiritual humanist-there are many ways to define oneself, and it is up to each person. The world isn’t divided into just atheists and theists.

    You’re quite right, it’s more nuanced, although not quite as nuanced as your examples. Atheism as an absence of belief in deities, nontheism, covers agnostic, and the other definitions of atheist. Deists do not doubt, sure, they doubt other people’s gods, but they have one of their own. The world is divided into those who believe in deities and those who don’t.


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