Better off neither inflated nor diminished.

This is pretty much spot on. QualiaSoup and TheraminTrees both completely devastate the entire fields of philosophy and theology every time they make one of these videos, so I’m more than happy to point you to them rather than rehashing myself. I mean, seriously, how can two individuals create such consistently high-quality content? I’m pretty… yeah, jealous is the word.

Better off neither inflated nor diminished.
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4 thoughts on “Better off neither inflated nor diminished.

  1. 1

    “…completely devastate the entire fields of philosophy and theology…”

    Umm. I sincerely hope you don’t actually believe that. The quality of this video was great and although, I’d generally disagree with the belligerent preacher on the bus, these guys who make these videos don’t even touch truth with the claims they are trying to assert about religion.

  2. 2

    I do sincerely believe that, because when I watch one of their videos (even on topics having nothing to do with religion, e.g. game theory), I have precious little I feel I could add. For you, though, I’m okay with doing a little bit of rehashing.

    They don’t discuss the truth value of any religion outside of asserting that these religions are based on hearsay — belief passed down through the ages with a foundational text that is not accompanied with any positive proof of its verity. And that’s okay. It’s up to the theist to prove positively that the religion is “true”, or simply (and quietly) take it on faith for yourself. There are a number of Bible verses that suggest that preaching, praying for others’ conversion, or worship of physical objects (e.g. crucifixes, altars, churches) are bad, not only for your faith but for the religion as a whole.

    I don’t generally consider you to be of the same ilk as the train preacher. While you are online, and looking for discussions of faith or lack thereof with willing conversationalists, you are by no stretch of the imagination as robotic or authoritarian as someone like Zdenny. And when we first met, while I was embroiled in some heavy headbutting with Zdenny, I was almost assuredly taking on the rebellious youth role in shouting him down (as the passengers on the train).

    When you entered the fray, I assumed you were there to back him up, simply on the notion that you were arguing the same side as him. For that I apologize, though it’s been a while since then. I’m glad we’re both discussing from the adult perspective, and I thank you for realizing that while we disagree about the facts at hand (e.g. the divinity of the source of your Bible), we’re at least both coming from rational perspectives that flow from those personal beliefs.

  3. 3

    If you’ll allow me, I think we can assert what a true Christian would do in a public scene of sorts when preaching the Gospel of Christ. Let’s look at my good friend Paul. He was no doubt one of the greatest persuaders of the Christian faith to the “educated” world of the time.

    I try my best to take his approach when I speak to people of all different faiths or non-faiths.

    [Paul in Athens]
    [16 ] Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. [17 ] So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. [18 ] Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. [19 ] And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? [20 ] For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.” [21 ] Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.
    (Acts 17:16-21 ESV)

    These people were mostly curious when it came to Paul’s preaching. I don’t think he was being ridiculous but I do think people thought he was nominally weird. I can’t imagine what would happen if he said, “All of you are going to hell if you don’t submit to this teaching.” I think it’s possible to “reason” with people as did Paul. If you read on, Paul approaches the Athenians by relating to their culture and way of life.

    I think, as a Christian in the 21st century, it’s important to me not to compromise my faith for the sake of making friends. However, I haven’t encountered any hostility with people when I consider their viewpoints and they consider mine. I think it’s possible to have a great conversation all the while discussing eachothers opposing beliefs.

    I have a co-worker who is an atheist and majored in philosophy and you can imagine what our lunches are like. I think there are socially inhibited Christians who simply cannot relate. I think there is a lot of cheesiness that goes on in American Christianity. I think there are too many punch lines that Christians in churches take to the heart as rock hard truth and it doesn’t make our case any stronger.

    But I do have to say, Jason, that my faith is extremely strong, almost to the point where I can physically feel it. I sincerely believe that there is a judgment and I believe every person will be judged. I sincerely believe this world, as we know it, is coming to a close. I think it’s happening sooner than later. As a Christian, it’s my job to warn you so as not to have any blood on my hand (see Ezekiel 3:16).

    That’s where these street preachers get the desire to go out and catch some fish so to speak. I don’t disagree with street preaching, I just disagree with the approach some people take.

    The bottom line is, I MUST respect your beliefs to the extent that I am actually willing to take it into consideration. Not in the sense that I am abandoning my belief, but to the extent that I am willing to take the evidence where it leads and take a look at my belief system and where it fits in. It’s perfectly rational to do so.

    One thing many people get disgruntled about is young earth vs old earth vs theistic evolution vs you get the point. These aren’t issues for me. I think the fact that the Universe is X number of years old has no bearing on Biblical authority. I personally do not think the Bible explicitly teaches the earth is 6,000 years old, but some people hold to that as if their salvation is contingent upon it.

    My point is that things like this are problems within my circle. People get caught up in the fight and not the facts. I try to keep my faith and facts in line and I find that it’s spiritually and intellectually satisfying.

  4. 4

    For the record, in case you were wondering, I believe there’s sufficient evidence to show that Saul of Tarsus (Paul the Apostle) existed, and that he may have done some, if not most, of the things suggested of him in the Bible. Don’t let my doubts about Jesus’ existence color what I say about Paul. Just because I don’t believe his revelation on the road to Damascus, doesn’t mean I don’t believe Paul existed.

    If he did the things suggested here, going to Athens and preaching about Jesus, he did them the right way. Sharing your ideas as ideas, to live or die in the public arena, is the right way to do it. In this day and age, though, the “good news” is hardly news any more. Without going on missions to isolated tribes in remote regions of the world, you’ll hardly find a person on the planet who has not heard that their immortal soul depends on whether they accept Jesus Christ as their personal saviour. Myself included. I was brought up Catholic, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this blog. I was brought up in the faith and lost it when people were incapable of intellectually defending that faith to even the simplest of questions — and these questions were not blockbusters, they were simple stuff like why the dinosaurs never made it onto the ark. Or why there were actually two sets of commandments in the KJV, one of which referred to as commandments and the other merely a set of instructions or “best practices” as handed down to Moses on Ararat. The ritual decalogue, in the Bible, is the only one referred to as the Commandments at any point, and the other more common is just… I dunno. Stuff God said, I guess.

    Sorry, that’s a digression.

    I can totally imagine the discussions you and your friend have. The best man at my wedding was (and still is) an ardent Christian. He is the son of a preacher, and lives with his wife and kids in his childhood home, replete as it is with Bible verses on every surface you could find. The home is warm, friendly and comfortable, even to a hardcore atheist like myself. And I consider the man to be a true friend. I think he’s an excellent person with great morals, even if I doubt the source from which he claims to obtain them. And I admire his curiosity about science and human achievement, even while I see the incuriosity to which fundamentalism leads many of your fellow believers in the States.

    (Though don’t tell him I speak so highly of him. We haven’t visited with one another to play video games, watch football or drink stupid amounts of liquor in more than too long. I wouldn’t want him thinking I missed him or anything. 🙂 )

    It is easy to say “you and I are not so different” and be comfortable with each other. But it is a mark of a true mensch (heh, Yiddish) to say, “you and I are very different” and still be comfortable with one another.

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