I just read Bill Hampl’s book review of The Magicians Book by Laura Miller in American Atheist magazine. It brought back memories of laying up in the top bunk of the family RV, with the whole box set of the Chronicles of Narnia that my Mom gave me just before a long trip. The books were my childhood and teen favorites, and it was not until the Harry Potter series came along that the series were displaced in my mind as the best books in the world.
Unlike Laura Miller, when I was a child the Christian symbolism of Narnia was the most obvious and natural thing in the world to me. Continue reading
I was thinking back on times I had questioned a religious teacher, and thought up a short list of questions I asked. I asked all of these perfectly sincerely, maybe a bit naively. Anyone is welcome to try answering–most of the time I was just given “that look” as if I was just trying to disrupt the lesson, or was told that “that’s just what we believe.”
I should also point out that none of these thing stands out as “the one thing” that caused to to leave Christianity. They are just little things that got my skeptical juices flowing.
- Why should I expect to apply a Biblical passage to my life, if it’s history, poetry, or prophecy? (Asked when a Sunday School teacher wanted the class to write down what how passage or other applies to our lives.)
- Isn’t claiming ‘promises’ from Psalms pulling those quotes out of context?
- How do you know your beliefs are true, when there are lots of sincere followers of other religions out there who are equally convinced that you are wrong?
- Why do you equate skepticism with cynicism? Skepticism is not wanting to believe without proof, and cynicism is more like unthinking rejection? (Not the exact words–at the time was was not too sure what cynicism was except that it was associated with negativity.)
And here is one that I have not asked, but would be curious to know an answer for.
If you believe that a person will not be judged harshly by God for sincere and honest disbelief, or mistaken belief in the wrong thing:
- then why have Christian missionaries? If humanitarian aid is needed in some places, why not send humanitarian aid though non-sectarian charities such as Doctors Without Borders instead?
- Does your church teach that it is not really so necessary and urgent for people to convert to Christianity in order to be accepted by God? Is that what is taught to the kids in your Sunday School?
- Why should it matter to me what your personal beliefs are if they don’t match what your church and Christian leaders are teaching?
Like I said, anyone is welcome to volunteer answers or make comments.
I’m a recently joined member of Toastmasters, and I gave my Ice Breaker speech yesterday evening. For those who don’t know, this is the first in a series of 10 beginner-level speeches in the Competent Communicator manual.
My speech was titled “Finding My Voice” and my three main points were about “Thinking for myself,” “Trusting Myself,” and “Finding My Voice.” Thinking for myself means finding my own conclusion and not merely absorbing what those around me think. Trusting myself means not being intimidated by other’s disapproval of my conclusions. Of course, this doesn’t mean I can’t change my mind as I learn new things or think about a topic in a different way. The third “Finding my voice” is about speaking out what I need to say with boldness and without fear of disapproval.
It took me some time to figure out just exactly what I was going to say. I did mention that I help organize a group called Louisville Atheists and Freethinkers. An example of a time when I “lost my voice” was the story about how I had been afraid to tell the cashier about the Atheist group once for fear of how he would judge me. (Same story I told in “My New Darwin Fish“.) I also mentioned where I work, and that I like to sing karaoke. My opening idea was that it is easier for me to get up and sing songs that someone else wrote then to get up in front of people and speak my own thoughts in my own words. That is risky.
It took some serious thinking for me to mention the Atheist Group, and that I help to organize it, in the speech. To my atheist friends: Do you think that was a good idea, and do you think you would consider outing yourself to a Toastmasters group in that way? I’m just curious.