“The implications of my atheism were incompatible with almost every value I held dear”

May 28th, 2017

We all know that churches in the first world have lost numbers over the past century, with many people leaving the faith of their parents to become atheists, agnostics, vague theists, believers in other religions, or just indifferent. We may not always be so aware of a number of people making the journey in the opposite direction, from unbelief to faith. Some studies suggest that highly educated people may be more likely to convert.

This is a story of one such convert. It is all the more interesting because her conversion came out of considering one of several significant philosophical difficulties for atheism.

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Are religious people less logical?

April 23rd, 2017

Most people like to think they are logical, and have good reasons for their choices – including their choice of believing in God, or not. But modern atheists often accuse christians (and believers in other religions) of not basing their beliefs on evidence and reason.

And it’s a plausible argument, for psychological studies have suggested that analytic thinking tends to lead to religious disbelief, whereas intuitive thinking tends to support belief. For example, in 2012 well known psychologists Will Gervais & Asa Norenzayan published the results of studies that apparently showed that Analytic Thinking Promotes Religious Disbelief. Many other studies have produced similar results.

But more work has been done on this, with interesting results.

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Making sense of God

April 7th, 2017

Tim Keller is well known these days. A Reformed pastor who is hip. An insightful commentator and a successful writer of books for christians.

Eight years ago he published The Reason for God, a thoughtful book of what we might term “soft apologetics” – that is, he didn’t try to present strong arguments for the existence of God and the truth of Jesus, but rather suggested ideas that would give readers answers to questions and reasons to believe, without being too “pushy”. I remember thinking at the time that it was good, but probably would only convince those who were already questioning their unbelief.

Now he’s produced a follow up which in a sense prepares the way for The Reason for God.

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Christianity – the good and the bad?

July 10th, 2015

CATHEDRAL

The good and harm done by christianity is a topic of much discussion and argument, and I have written on it many times (e.g. Does religion poison everything? and Do religious believers have better health and wellbeing, like, really?).

Keith Parsons is a US philosopher and atheist who writes about the philosophy of religion, and actively engages with christian belief via The Internet Infidels website and the Secular Outpost blog. Keith has made his assessments of christianity in two posts on Secular Outpost, and they are worth checking out.

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No more! No more!

March 31st, 2015

U2 on the Rattle and Hum tour way back in 1987, sang their old song Sunday Bloody Sunday, in response to an IRA bombing.

It’s long been one of my favourite pieces of concert footage as Bono, outraged by the killing, emotes on stage, while the Edge, ever the steady rock around which the band moves, plays jagged, anguished chords.

Fortunately, the troubles are now mostly a thing of the past, but this video reminds us of what made this band great, and how we should all feel about the taking of human life (even if we can’t express it so well!).

Well worth a look, or another look. But if you’re sensitive, Bono does utter one (understandable) expletive.

How can we know if God exists? Do philosophical arguments help?

March 14th, 2014

Shaft of sunlight

My friend Howie has a blog, Truth is Elusive, and his latest post discusses the philosophical arguments for the existence of God, and whether they are effective or even useful. His broad conclusion is “not very” – that is not for him, not for many people, only for a few.

I mostly agree with Howie about this – for most people. But it isn’t true for me. But I needed more than a blog comment to explain why, so I wrote this post instead.

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