Tuesday, May 22, 2007,4:59 PM
Engaging in Dialogue?
Mike has been spending a lot of time recently responding to the "Ask a Christian Pastor" series over at the Friendly Atheist blog. (go here for links to his responses). He addressed questions on biblical interpretation, hell, and why he's a Christian among other things. It has of course sparked some lively debate.

So if your interested in an emerging pastor's response to atheist's questions, go check it out. I personally don't have the patience for that sort of thing. While there are a majority of people interacting with those questions that are truly thoughtful and open-minded people, there is the vocal minority that drive me nuts. Its the same reason why I avoid most Christian message boards these days. There is a small group that thinks that their take on life, the universe, and everything is the absolutely only right way to think forever and ever amen. They are enamoured with the sound of their own voice and never actually engage in dialogue, just drown out intelligent conversation with their navel gazing (how's that for some mixed-up metaphors). Christian or atheist, it doesn't matter, I really don't have the patience for it.

And I don't have the time for games of online "Taboo." You know the game where you can't say certain words or else you get buzzed out and eliminated. That's what some of these dialogues are like. So many of the atheists have the a priori assumption that all forms of faith are just stupid and utterly unreasonable (of course ignoring the multitude of ways they make use of faith...). So when a Christian starts discussing his faith, they freak out, pull out the buzz, point the finger and say "see you talked about faith and not just reason (by which they mean science), you're out." my response - of course I'm going to talk about faith when I talk about my faith - that's a freaking no-brainer so just get over it! But of course that never happens which is why I really don't engage in those dialogues much anymore. It boils down to the fact that the biggest gap between us is not the atheism/theism divide but the modern/postmodern divide. I find the concept of scientific objective knowledge just as far-fetched as they find belief in God.

Anyway, just some random thoughts spilling out of my head as it tries to cope with a lot of other crap right now. If you're up for dialogue and learning from others, go check out Mike's posts.


posted by Julie at 4:59 PM ¤ Permalink ¤


  • At 5/22/2007 04:33:00 PM, Blogger gerbmom

    Tried, but Mr. Carr made me too mad. So I refused to go back. I don't have the patience or ability to wade though it all, and that's without his bullying. Unfortunately he has now spread his poison to Mike's blog....enough already. If I want to be angry and depressed I can watch the news. Tell Mike I'll be back when Carr is done being a jerk.

  • At 5/22/2007 10:59:00 PM, Blogger Mike Clawson

    "I find the concept of scientific objective knowledge just as far-fetched as they find belief in God."

    This is a great quote, though unfortunately I think a lot of the atheists at Hemant's site might not get what you mean and think that you're just an anti-science fundamentalist. ;)

  • At 5/23/2007 08:56:00 AM, Anonymous Mriana

    Hi, Pastor Mike and Julie

    Yes, gerbmom, I understand your feelings about that too. It's hard to have a real conversation with such things happening and it's very disturbing, regardless of one's postion in the discussion. IMHO, two opposing sides can have a civil discussion without using angry and hate-filled words.

    I really feel sorry for people who have so much anger and feel so insecure about their position. Pastor Mike and I don't agree on everything, but even we found somethings we did agree on and we saw no need for fighting over our disagreements. We agreed to disagree and went on with life. :)

  • At 5/24/2007 02:53:00 AM, Blogger Richard Wade

    Hi Julie, Mike mentioned your blog over at Friendly Atheist, where he’s doing a remarkable job. I’m learning so much. I’m one of the friendly, level-headed unbelievers who just want to share understanding. You’re so right about the types from either side that drive you nuts. They drive the rest of us nuts too. There are two just awful people over there currently. One is a bitter-as-bile atheist who very well fits the internet definition of a troll, harping endlessly on the same obscure Biblical passage from which he has some private hurt that will never be healed. Then there’s his exact opposite, a Christian whose bizarre, saccharin-sweet mix of off-the-wall quotations of scripture, Barney-style love-love joy-joy, and creepy innuendos about his family relationships keep us all scratching our heads. Mike can’t figure out if he’s a fruitcake or a smartass. I’m leaning toward the former, but maybe that’s my psych background talking. It’s frustrating to have these two pests distracting and degrading the discussion.

    Anyway, I had a sincere question about your statement, "I find the concept of scientific objective knowledge just as far-fetched as they find belief in God." I gather that it has something to do with post-modernism. Mike and the rest of the gang are currently in a lengthy multilateral discussion about that. I innocently started it by asking about it. Honestly, I didn’t know what a can of worms I was opening. I’ve read Mike’s article about post-modernism but now there are so many conflicting opinions. Some of it is over my head but at least it’s polite.

    As Mike said I’m one of the atheists who don’t get what you mean, but if I promise not to think you’re an anti-science fundamentalist, could you help me understand what you mean by your statement? I don’t find belief in God “far fetched,” I just don’t believe. Elvis living with Sasquatch aboard a UFO that frequently visits a truck stop in Schenectady I’d find far fetched, but God, no.

    I understand if this is too much of a bother. You’re busy with career and family, and it’s really okay to pass on it, no problem. I just thought that your take on it might help me understand parts that Mike’s angle misses.

  • At 5/24/2007 09:13:00 AM, Blogger Julie

    hey Richard - thanks for stopping by and thanks for the question.

    You're right, my statement is a reflection of a more postmodern view of the universe. It's not that I don't like science or make use of science, but that I question the concept of anyone having objective knowledge.

    Too often I hear people talk about science as if it is this absolute entity untouched/uninfluenced by human opinions which therefore makes it more true, more reasonable, or more authoritative than anything else. My issue is that all of our understandings of the world are mediated through our experiences. Everything we study/learn/experience is affected by our everything else we have encountered in life. So everything is subjective to our lenses of the world. (subjective does not mean false or wrong, just that it is relative to something)

    How scientific experiments are carried out, how observations occur, and what interpretations are given are all subjective things. There have been enough paradigm shifts in scientific theory to easily demonstrate this. When enough scientists get convinced of a theory when a critical mass of them believe that the evidence points to a particular interpretation/implication then science changes.

    My point is that I see science (or history for that matter) as having as much interpretation, opinion, and need to place belief in a certain set of assumptions as faith does. And I don't see that as a bad thing, just the way it is.

  • At 5/25/2007 08:16:00 AM, Blogger PrincessMax

    Richard, I very much appreciated what you contributed to Mike's posts at Hemant's blog. I have learned to play games of visual leap-frog on reply threads like that, and your name on a comment indicates a safe play to land.

    I'm interested in this phrase from your comment here (thanks for asking - I wanted Julie to expound also).

    One is a bitter-as-bile atheist who very well fits the internet definition of a troll, harping endlessly on the same obscure Biblical passage from which he has some private hurt that will never be healed.

    I think that one of the concepts that keeps me following the divine through Christianity is the message that no one of us is irredeemable. We have all, in fact, been redeemed already. If a value were to be put on us, our price tags would read: "1 son of God." I agree with your analysis of the bitten-as-bile atheist but I also live with hope that he will someday realize his value in this universe, which will lead to a healing of that hurt. That hope can occasionally persuade me to love the asshole.

    Thanks for your open-mindedness. I hope you don't mind my throwing two cents in as a result of one of your sentences.

  • At 5/28/2007 01:09:00 AM, Blogger Richard Wade

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • At 5/28/2007 01:16:00 AM, Blogger Richard Wade

    PrincessMax, I’m honored that you find my comments a safe place to land. That really warms my heart. It’s always a pleasure to meet positive, inclusive people like you, Mike, Julie, and Hemant. I hope along with you that our bitter mutual acquaintance finds a way out of his pain.

    Maybe people such as you and I can work from opposite ends of a problem, a conflict or a person in pain, coaxing and soothing from our own perspectives until we meet in the middle having alleviated a little more human suffering. Whether they go toward believing or not believing, to me all that matters is that suffering has been relieved.

    I don't remember where I picked it up but I try to live by the maxim that a person needs love the most when they appear to deserve it the least.

    I hope to encounter you again in our wanderings in Blogaria.

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