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Friday, October 2nd, 2009

Time Event
12:20p
Fifty Questions part One
Fifty questions on my conversion story.

Someone named Jesse, who could be anyone from Jesse Jackson the Racial Shakedown Artist to Jesse the Yodeling Cowgirl from Toy Story, asked me a few questions about my conversion story. Rather than repeat the whole conversion story in this space, I here repeat only his questions, given the original conversion story as a quote in his question where relevant.

(You may wonder why I am calling Jesse a ‘he’ when he might be a she. For those of you who studied English rather than Newspeak, let me remind you that the proper pronoun to use for a person who sex is unknown to you is ‘he.’ For those of you—and it is all of you—who were not taught this rule in grammar school, I am required to offer the explanation. I didn’t make the rules, I only respect them.)

Letter of 08 Sept

Q: (quote) “over a period of two years my hatred toward Christianity eroded due to my philosophical inquiries.”

Hatred strikes me as a strong word. Were you exaggerating, or is that how you really felt? How did you come to feel that way?

A: I was not exaggerating. What atheists feel toward Christian is a loathsome, crawling sensation of mingled contempt and fear and hate and bitter amusement. I came to feel that way out of frustration. I thought the matter was perfectly plain: an omnipotent and omniscient God could not act, since to act presupposes an inability to get or to foresee one’s desires. A benevolent God could not allow for the Fall of Man. A just God could not punish the remote descendants of Adam for Adam’s crime. And so on and on. But arguing with Christians was like arguing with someone who believed in Santa Claus: no matter what you said, the belief persisted. And it was not just Christians: belief in some sort of god or gods reaches back to prehistory. It was absurd and irrational and nothing could seem to dent it. It was an obvious con game, a trick played by priests so that they would not have to do honest work for a living—telling old ladies lies about a mythic fairyland beyond the grave or over the rainbow. It made no sense and it would not go away, and even reasonable people seemed to buy into it.

The atheists who say they do not hate religion are lying.





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12:21p
Fifty Questions part Two
Continuing: 

Letter of 22 Sept

Q: Would it be correct to say that it would take *more* faith for you to believe you *didn't* really experience something supernatural?

A: No. It would merely take less reason, but not more faith.

Faith is a word that is often abused, but it fundamentally means to trust someone whom you have good reason to trust, despite the temptation or fear which, during a moment of weakness, makes mistrust seem the better idea.

I say it would take less reason because, in order to explain all the events that happened to me using nothing but naturalistic causes, the explanation would have to be ad hoc, would have to assume facts not in evidence, would have indulge in speculations without warrant.

One dogmatic atheist it was my misfortune to meet told me that my subconscious mind created to triggered the heart attack in response to my ‘Pascal’s Wager’ type prayer I described earlier, and then my subconscious mind halted the heart attack on cue when my wife’s Church prayed over me, and then my subconscious mind offered me a series of dreams and hallucinations over the next few days, and the subconscious mind selected the content of those dreams and hallucinations in order to have them match or meet with Christian literature and doctrine.

One of the things that happened to me was that Christ told me that God does not judge any man, but that He, Christ will be my judge. This was surprising to me, since what little I remembered of my Bible stories showed that the Old Testament God was clearly full of wrath and judgment, or else what was that whole Deluge of Noah all about? I have debated with Christians not one or twice, but many and many times in my life, and none of them mentioned this odd division of labor.

As one might expect, after I recovered from the hospital, I sat down to read the Bible from cover to cover, including the several books in it I had never read. To my absolute astonishment I came across a passage in the Book of John which not only confirmed what Christ had said to me, but was almost word for word the same. The vision had told me something I had not known which appeared in a book I had not read. This indicates either that my vision was giving me true information, or that I have weird mind-powers that allows me to know the words I am going to read before I read it.

I asked the dogmatic atheist how it was that my vision told me words in a book I had not yet read. He said the vision had not said anything, but that, when I read that passage in the book a month or so later, I only (without knowing it) retroactively re-wrote my memories to make it look to myself as if I had known something before I could have known it.

Boy, howdy, I thought it was cool beans that I now had magical mind-rewriting powers, like Gilderoy Lockheart from Harry Potter! I am sure I have some unpleasant memories I could re-edit to have better outcomes, assuming I somehow lost my reverence for truth and accuracy—I just wanted to know how to turn them on. But, alas, even though my dogmatic atheist friend somehow had enough mind-reading powers himself to sense that I had a subconscious mind, or like Sherlock Holmes crossed with Sigmund Freud, could tell, even without ever speaking to me, exactly what the buried and hidden sections of my mind were up to, he could not tell me how to do what he said I had done. Got that? My subconscious mind and its mind-powers tended to pop into existence when and only when the dogmatic atheist needed a convenient excuse to explain things away, but the mind-powers would always somehow vanish again when it would have been convenient for me. Hmmm …. And this guy was presenting himself as a paragon of rationality, when his excuses were as flimsy as those of a professional rainmaker standing beneath clear, dry skies.

I told him my wife remembered the sequence of events in the same order I did. Had I somehow rewritten her memories too?

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3:54p
A Question about Aesthetics
A reader whom I admire (because he reminds me of me--so I suppose my admiration is a trifle narcissistic) makes this comment. ""Aesthetics is a trickier matter. I will admit that aesthetics is probably the weak link in my understanding of philosophy. All I'm willing to say is that if aesthetics is objective then it is still going to be a titanic undertaking to draw lines and establish boundaries there."

My comment: Ayn Rand is the only modern philosopher who tried, but her metaphysics was nominalism, and so she attempted to attach the beautiful and lovely to expressions of what she called highest values -- capitalists love skyscrapers and do not (for example) feel sublime and awed at the sight of stars, etc. This theory does not explain all the facts, but my respect for Rand is great, because she made a bold attempt. Other modern philosophers are girlmen and craven cowards compared to her.

Myself, I hold with Plato and St. Thomas Aquinas that the Beautiful is an objective object of thought. We know a line is straight or crooked because we compare it with an ideal line in thought, and everyone who thinks of the ideal line thinks the same thing. We know an argument is logical or illogical because we compare the argument against ideal laws of logic in thought, and everyone uses the same ideals laws (even people who never studied logic, or who lived on earth before Aristotle use the same rules. This is how we know those laws were discovered, not manmade.)

Likewise, we know the beautiful when we compare it to an ideal of beauty. If there is no objective ideal of beauty, than not only is all taste merely a matter of taste, and all beauty in the eye of the beholder, BUT, it would be impossible for me to both think something is beautiful and to think that maybe my taste is bad and that I should learn to see what is good for what it is. In other words, if there is no such thing as true (objective) beauty ,then there is false beauty, and no such thing as correcting an wrong opinion about beauty, and there is no way to correct mistakes, to learn, to grow, or to develop good taste.

This jars against our experience. We all know there are things we think beautiful as adults that children do not find so, and we recall the change in our aesthetics as our judgment deepened. If there is no objective standard of aesthetics, than that change is merely change, and not growth. But since it feels like growth, and we remember it as growth, the facts on the ground testify to an objective standard. 

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