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  • http://www.deadlinejunkies.com/ adam strange

    “…I was alerted…”

  • woodling.org

    Dude, please get the atheist position correct if you’re going to claim to represent us. Atheists, mostly, hold the view that there’s no reason to believe that any gods exist, so we don’t believe. That’s very different from “atheists have the ontological view that god(s) do not exist”. Now, to be honest, I don’t think that any gods exist, and that gods probably don’t exist. But lots of atheists don’t hold the view that “gods don’t exist”.

    • Michi333

      Actually, an atheist does believe that gods don’t exist. If you think gods probably don’t exist then you are agnostic in your beliefs.

      • Psycho Gecko

        No, atheism is the lack of belief in a deity or deities. Agnosticism is the lack of knowledge about the existence of a deity or deities. There tends to be frequent overlap because many people wouldn’t believe in something they aren’t sure exists and because one is about belief while the other is about knowledge.

        Unfortunately, most people who claim to only be agnostic and not atheist don’t know these definitions, and tend to be especially smug when they claim they hold a better belief than atheists or the religious.

        Most atheists wouldn’t say that they believe no gods exist, because that is a claim that can’t really be proven. We really can’t discount the possibility of a deity that exists but has no hand at all in the running of the universe. They may instead say that the god of Judaism/Christianity/Islam doesn’t exist, or that the gods of Hinduism don’t exist, or whatever, because those religions make specific claims about the universe and their deities that we can prove are incorrect. With those books proven to be fiction, it’d be about like saying that Voldemort doesn’t exist.

      • scourge99

        Are you an a-unicornist or agnostic about unicorns?

    • http://www.synapses.co.za/ Jacques Rousseau

      Hey, you’re being a complete pedant, and for no good reason. The bit you are cherry-picking from says “a crude summary” and “leaving aside exactly the sorts of issues woodling.org gets het up about”. As a crude summary, what I said works just fine. And this post didn’t need more than that crude summary. I’ve written many others on only the point you raise (in which completely agree with you that certainty is not attainable).

    • David Wilkinson

      I think the traditional definition of “atheist” is the the belief that there are no gods. I looked the definition up and “a person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods”. I think your version is a more modern definition. I know a few atheists each hold to one of the other version.

  • woodling.org

    It’s a question of certainty, and many atheists like me hold the view that there isn’t anything that can be known with absolute certainty. Certainty is for those who wish to suspend investigation and learning.

  • woodling.org

    Apart from my objections above, I think your criticism and assessment of Bell’s proposed experiment is spot-on.

  • Eric B. Hare

    Why does Ryan have to be an ex-pastor? He is currently an activist, community builder, and much more. I don’t think his approach is without flaw either, but your outright condemnation does not reflect well upon your views either.

    I’m sad that you equate having a lack of conviction, closeness to the church, its teachings, and god, with automatically being an atheist. Jesus addressed this once “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” So I wonder which “church” you speak of? The Body of Christ, Kingdom of Heaven, living in the hearts of people and not in walls one or something more specific?

    • http://www.synapses.co.za/ Jacques Rousseau

      “Outright condemnation”? Ryan Bell called it a “gentle critique”, and that seems a far more reasonable description. As for the equation you cite, I don’t make it.

      • Eric B. Hare

        Very true, you did only call it peculiar, “outright” is a bit harsh. I’m still a little confused, however, about the equation part. Bell says he’s not an Atheist, yet you say by the criteria I mentioned, he already is one and has lost his faith. So if you’re making the conclusion for him, is that not an equation? Albeit perhaps not a universal one, yet it’s hard to see it otherwise.

        I am still curious about the ex-pastor labelling? It’s not like you are saying something incorrect, I simple question the negative slant. Yet this is a critique post, so I shouldn’t be overly surprised. What if a teacher becomes a mechanic, is that person an ex-teacher the rest of their life? You may be gently correcting, but does that necessitate, what appears to be the desire to create a negative bias, based on someone’s past history? I try to evaluate someone’s words and actions based on the merit of the words and actions, not who they may have a reputation to be.

        Appreciate the dialogue! Technology can be a useful tool it seems!

        • http://www.synapses.co.za/ Jacques Rousseau

          Perhaps try being a little less literal? “Peculiar” is one word in a 1000 word post, and a judgement as to whether something is condemned or not should be made from the overall context, not a couple of words extracted from it.

          Second, you said:
          “I’m sad that you equate having a lack of conviction, closeness to the church, its teachings, and god, with automatically being an atheist.”

          I said: “he’s arguably already an atheist”, and then gave the skeleton of what such an argument could look like (drawing on having read the author’s own statements about not feeling the presence of God anymore, and so forth). That’s not “equating” anything.

          Third, how is calling someone an ex-pastor a negative slant? Your analogies are silly – being an ex-pastor is relevant here because he’s trying out something which is on the other end of a spectrum (namely, disbelief). He’s leaving a job which involves professing one belief, and devoting a year to the “opposite” belief.

          If a teacher becomes someone who (somehow) devotes their lives to making people stupid, or a mechanic becomes someone who foreswears all technology, then yes, it would make sense to mention it. It’s a relevant detail, which speaks to how interesting (and difficult) Bell’s job might be.

          Your thinking that this is an attempt to create a negative bias – as well as your misreading of my post as an outright condemnation – seem to me to be the more troubling things.

          • Eric B. Hare

            I know it’s hard to believe in this age of disagreement and hear from the written word, as tone of voice and such is not involved, but I was agreeing with you, my use of “outright condemnation” was too harsh. Your critique is simply questioning someone else’s methods, certainly we need that in our world today. I guess I could have just said that the first time eh! I try to make it a goal when discussing something to always keep in the back of my mind “I could be wrong.” Keeps me humble and engaged. I am not saying you believe you are right without question, just sharing with you something that has helped me in the online world.

          • Eric B. Hare

            Something else that has helped me greatly in online discussion is to disagree without declaring the opposing view as illegitimate. Consider how difficult it is to discuss with someone, how our negative labels of others (ie ex-pastor classification) create harmful divisions among the human family and taint quite well prepared articles when they call your view silly. I suppose that me calling the label a negative slant, could be viewed in the same way, that is making your view illegitimate. I propose that I was commenting on a use of label and not necessarily insulting your entire argument. In a way I would be disappointed if you didn’t disagree with, keeps the discussion interesting, however it is we way we disagree that makes a difference. Brushing aside someone else’s analogies, to me, is counter productive.

            Well semantics aside, I will add a thought on what mentioned about Bell “leaving a job.” As I understand after reading his website, he had struggles within his denomination and attempted to be viewed as a critic from within, this did not work well. Eventually his employers asked him to resign to which he somewhat begrudgingly conceded. Then he pursued role as community builder, activist, etc. for a time before making deciding upon this current. Though possibly he still may decide to continue much of his previous community involvement as that is something that both Atheists and Theists regularly engage in (community service, humanitarian efforts, development initiatives, etc.). Hence, though you have not said something false, the way you phrased it, however I feel, is misrepresentation. Can Bell be simply considered as a fellow human being, trying something he feels is worth while? And maybe after a year he’ll agree with some of your critiques, who knows!

            • OooShiny

              Bell did NOT pursue a role as community builder/activist AFTER he was fired.

              He wrote of having done that all along for many years before this current project, partly because it’s right and good to do so, and partly because the rigid cruelty, shunning, shaming and exclusion of his church’s doctrine made the need for such activism screamingly obvious.

            • Eric B. Hare

              Thanks Oooshiny for the insight. I suppose we’ll have to settle this when Ryan’s authoritative biography comes out. Do you have any thoughts on the ex-pastor label? Is it overly negative? Necessary or simply bad taste?

          • Eric B. Hare

            Mr. Rousseau, any thoughts on what I shared below?

            • http://www.synapses.co.za/ Jacques Rousseau

              I’ve responded to your thoughts. You added nothing substantively new in the comment I didn’t respond to, besides a misreading of mine (for example, I never call your view silly, but your analogies), and issues that are entirely tangential to my post (your entire second paragraph, which only makes sense on assuming the “negative slant” that I reject, yet that you keep asserting as the effect of my words).

              What’s helped me greatly in online discussion is to ration my energies to where they might be expended fruitfully. There’s no point – besides mere entertainment – in debate or discussion in which one can’t declare views as illegitimate when they are poorly justified, or brush aside silly analogies. That’s how we learn, and change our minds. Seeing as we clearly disagree on that very important point, I trust you’ll agree that dialogue is fairly pointless in this case.

            • Eric B. Hare

              No I would not have asked a follow up question if I thought the discussion was pointless. I do appreciate you taking the time to respond and clarify your thoughts though. It’s been a pleasure dialoguing with you.

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  • http://anselm-ministries.us/ Chuck Sigler

    Think of what Ryan Bell is doing in terms of exploring a different social role: that of living his life for a year without God. His self identity and master social role had been as a pastor and believing Christian. He’s now planning to live for a year without the activities that support that social role and identity. The end result of this could be that he develops a new (master) role, a new social identity as an “atheist” or some other label.

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