I used to listen to Justin Brierley podcasts while out in the shop. Like many people, for a long time, I was not aware that he was Christian. It was on a Christian station, but Justin proposed this ideas of bringing the biggest atheist names on his show and letting them talk. He didn’t challenge, he didn’t research their arguments in advance and counter them, he just opened the mic and had a conversation.
People started wondering why he didn’t convert, so he wrote a book. I heard him interviewed about it and couldn’t believe how illogical and common his reasons were for being a Christian.
Richard Carrier is going through the book. This first entry describes the point of view that I think we see here a lot. The confusion of appreciated the world as it is, and people’s power, with the power of God, that his desire for God is somehow proof for God.
edit: I should have mentioned, in the intro, Richard says that the arguments for God that Justin lays out are some of the best. Carrier’s responses are not simple, because the book is not simple and obviously wrong, like many books are. It takes a little work.
I have Carrier on facebook and I commented on his post for this series, just saying I agreed with it. He responded, making a point about why we should bother responding to these bad lines of reasoning. The thing is, they weren’t arrived at accidentally, they are a result of how our minds evolved. It took a long time for enough people to realize they are bad, so we could come up with things like freedom of speech. It no longer matters that’s it’s Christianity or Buddhism that once swayed masses and encouraged armies, what matters is that we work through these ideas, because they won’t just go away even if all religion goes away.
He said – Oh, well, yes. He is accurately describing his book. Which is the value of it; this is what an honest (and merely delusional) defense of Christian belief looks like, and it’s worth reminding ourselves of that, of what the arguments then look like, because we often focus too much on the liars, and the arguments they choose to frame, rather than looking at honestly framed arguments, which is the steel man of the Christian case. Straw men are easy and fun to tear down. Steel men are more productive to take down, because at the end of it, you will have worked through something you probably should have worked through anyway, even if Christianity didn’t exist.
It’s worth skimming the first few paragraphs. He talks about the glaring errors made, simply by being to lazy to fact check. This is a disease that I never could have predicted. It doesn’t just lead to bad arguments for God, but for everything. All the conspiracy theories that visit us here and then spew anger for not being accepted. All the authoritarian nonsense that is causing destruction and pain around the globe.
I lived to see knowledge grow and become easier to access, but I guess thinking everyone would want to access was a naive dream.
Okay, not much interest here, but, 4th installment. It’s lengthy, and possibly just another look at things you know, but what it points out is that Christianity exists because Christians don’t check their facts. Okay, not shocking, maybe, but he’s not just talking about the average person on Sunday, this is a guy with a long standing radio show, who interviews the top names, and references the most well known scholars.
Carrier has the research on how religions begin, and we can forgive a sheepherder from 3,000 years ago for believing this stuff, but what this modern book on “why I’m still a Christian” shows, is that not much has changed. That wouldn’t be so bad if it was just church, but I couldn’t help thinking about everything else that works this way. QAnon and Flat Earth get a mention at the very end.
One example, a guy name Bauckham, wrote some stuff, claiming it would shift the consensus. It didn’t, but people like Brierly follow up, don’t wait for the scholarly reviews, don’t check the facts when someone refutes a fact, basically, don’t do anything except repeat the headline they saw about how this is breakthrough new data.
What amuses me most about “divine revelation” is the fact that our common ancestor with other great apes already “feared” the unseen sky beings that would throw fire and water at the troupe when they were angry.
All religions stem from the first ape that looked up and shook a stick at the sky god.
A very holy beginning…
Richard Carrier: “Hence it makes no sense to debunk a conclusion with a rather weak premise, when you can debunk it with a very strong premise instead. So stop arguing “Christianity is false because Jesus didn’t exist.” Get back to arguing “Christianity is false because Jesus didn’t rise from the dead,” even if he did exist.”
So, then why doesn’t he cut to the chase?
Our God’s are inventions of our human mind/body.
Instead, it simply turns into what I think can be called semantics,
it’s more about the eloquence of each other’s arguments,
than about their underlying veracity.
It’s kind of Richard’s thing. You wouldn’t read his blog if you were just figuring out your own beliefs. His early books are good for that, but these posts are for anyone who looks for, or might encounter some “god” argument. Believers can jump from one premise to another when they sense they are losing ground. So, you need a lot of arrows in your quiver