Chrys Stevenson

Chrys Stevenson


31 comments posted · 1 followers · following 0

10 years ago @ Things Findo Thinks - Why become a Christian? · 1 reply · +1 points

You see the experiences (of sex and God) as simulable (is that a word?) but not not authentic. How do you know the 'simulation' isn't the authentic experience? How do you know the simulation isn't in fact, all there is? How do you know that God isn't just the simulation? The fact is, you don't, you can't. It's not a matter of assuming that God must be reducible to the simulation. It's a matter of assuming that, as there is no evidence for, or function dependent upon, God, then the most likely possibility is that he doesn't exist. *God disappears in a convenient puff of smoke.*

10 years ago @ Things Findo Thinks - Why become a Christian? · 3 replies · +1 points

Nice try at sleight of hand, bait and switch, Andrew but you'll have to take some lessons from Penn and Teller. :-)

You begin by talking about 'sex' and then suggest because your hypothetical scientist cannot find evidence for 'spiritual union' he determines that 'sex' does not exist. Not much of a scientist, is he?

The 'feeling' of 'spiritual union', the 'feeling' of sexual pleasure and the 'feeling' of 'love' is not supernatural. It comes from neurochemical and neuroelectrical processes in our brains. That doesn't mean it isn't special or wonderful, that it isn't good for us (in fact there's evidence that it is) or that our love is not real - it simply means it's not supernatural. I'm not a scientist but I'd be pretty confident that with the right equipment 'love' could be viewed and identified as a neurological process.

God, on the other hand, can't. Nor can we identify this 'thing' you call a 'soul' - there is no evidence for it. Nor for 'the other plane'. All this stuff you go on about is pure conjecture based on your desire to believe in something outside 'this realm'. But it's just conjecture - nothing more.

10 years ago @ Things Findo Thinks - Why become a Christian? · 9 replies · +1 points

Hi Nathaniel, thanks for your interesting post. I'd just like to clarify something. I don't reject Christianity because of Christians. I reject Christianity because it is irrational. I reject it because there is no evidence for the supernatural (including Gods) and there is ample evidence that 'pink unicorn' experiences, while convincing for those who have them, can routinely be explained with reference to coincidence, waking hallucinations (surprisingly common and perfectly natural), auditory hallucinations (surprisingly common and perfectly natural) or any number of other natural explanations.

As Tim Minchin says, "Throughout history
Every mystery
Ever solved has turned out to be
Not Magic.

I will concede that it is the guilt, misery and psychological damage inflicted upon someone I loved by their conversion to Christianity that motivated me to take a greater interest in the evidence (or lack thereof) for God and the supernatural. But it would be irrational indeed to reject Christianity because of such an experience. Even if believing in God and the divinity of Jesus is demonstrably harmful, both to the individual and to societies, it is not a good reason for rejecting the hypothesis. None of us are too chuffed about infectious diseases, but we still believe in them!

The only reason to reject the existence of God and the divinity of Jesus is because there is no evidence which supports either. The 'pink unicorn' experience is an excuse to believe rather than evidence. Consider, if you had been born into some other culture and had a 'pink unicorn' experience you would almost certainly interpret it as evidence for that culture's deity.

Anyway, good luck to you for reforming the Christian church from within - it bloody well needs it.

Cheers, Chrys

10 years ago @ Things Findo Thinks - Why become a Christian? · 3 replies · +1 points

Oh Trav, such a wearisome old argument, showing such little knowledge of political history it's almost not worth answering. The 'atheistic' regimes you speak of were not, in a true sense 'atheistic' because either the state or the leader of the state became, in effect, 'deified'. They may not have been worshipping your God but that was because YOUR God was seen as competition for the deity of the state or the leader. 'Atheist' regimes didn't reject religion, per se, they simply replaced the figurehead.

As Sam Harris explains (far better than me!): The problem with fascism and communism ... is not that they are too critical of religion; the problem is that they are too much like religions. Such regimes are dogmatic to the core and generally give rise to personality cults that are indistinguishable from cults of religious hero worship. Auschwitz, the gulag and the killing fields were not examples of what happens when human beings reject religious dogma; they are examples of political, racial and nationalistic dogma run amok. There is no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too reasonable."

10 years ago @ Things Findo Thinks - Why become a Christian? · 1 reply · +1 points

"The point is that many things on this list are not in and of themselves attractive or the natural position adopted, and that they would not normally be adopted in and of themselves. The point is that it is an experience of a person which has persuaded us (well, me and the guy who write this at least) to adopt these. That’s all."

And yet, they are listed as requirements of being a Christian. And they are listed in the context that the difficulty in taking on (or at least aspiring to take on) these requirements is a reason why people would shy away from being a Christian.

My argument (which I seem to have to keep restating - and as Helen Dale has argued elsewhere) is that apart from taking on the fairy story bits, the practical requirements are not really that difficult at all and, in fact, most decent human beings practice them. The other point is that they are not 'unnatural' .

Rather, we have evolved to adopt ethical positions like self-sacrifice, and rejecting revenge because that is what allows us to live in civil society in relative peace. I will concede your point (made elsewhere) that there may be earlier instincts which sometimes prevail - or at least compete with our more evolved tendencies - but I can remember only two instances in my entire life where I really had to struggle not to thump someone. In most cases I prefer the advice offered in Romans 12: Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. By the way, Andrew, next time you're in Oz, the coffee's on me. :-P

My cousin, by the way, has perfected the art of being calm, reasonable and charming to his enemies ... until their ears bleed.

10 years ago @ Things Findo Thinks - Why become a Christian? · 9 replies · +1 points

Andrew, manipulation happens as a matter of course. You cannot say Christianity is what *I* am and therefore anything that *I* wouldn't do is not Christian! YOU joined the club, you take on some of the responsibility for what the club members do - and not just the ones in your particular clique. The fact is that throughout the world, people marching under the very same banner as you are using force and manipulation in their evangelisation in ways that are coercive, psychological damaging, often abusive, culturally insensitive and in some cases deadly. If you are going to identify as a Christian, I'm afraid you are going to have to wear the baggage of those who share your delusion.

10 years ago @ Things Findo Thinks - Why become a Christian? · 1 reply · +1 points

Just one example of the kind of thing I'm talking about:

Writing on a Baptist forum, ‘Stacie’ (in Gourley, 2009) says: When I was young (probably 6 or 7- you know that vital age in which the use of logic starts to kick in) my parents had me listen to a cassette tape in
which a young child wakes up to find that the resurrection has occurred, and her parents are no longer there … she is left behind. Not only was the thought of being abandoned utterly terrifying to me as a young child, I can still remember the sinister music playing in the background! The methods that are used in this area (small town in Texas) to scare children into committing to God are simply deplorable! I can not even begin to express the psychological torture that I went through when I started to become aware of the moral paradoxes that existed in what I was being taught in Sunday school, and eventually began to loose [sic] my faith. (And it is this very thing that makes so many atheists so hostile against religion- I am not;
I understand that my parents were simply trying to do what they thought was the right thing- but I can understand why those who are hostile feel this way.) I thought I had bumbled through most of the psychological baggage that accompanied my de-conversion. However, due to my daughter I am
now revisiting it … I refuse to allow my daughter to be part of something that I consider psychological abuse."

Don't dismiss this as aberrant fundamentalism. THIS is what your Bible teaches. Believe and you will be saved and taken up to heaven. Reject belief and you will be left behind. My own nephews were taught this and one has spoken to me of the incredible fear he experienced - so much fear he was afraid to sleep at night in case he woke up to find his whole family had been raptured without him. So please, Andrew, don't respond with wide-eyed disigenuousness when it is suggested that manipulation and force is Christanity's stock in trade.

10 years ago @ Things Findo Thinks - Why become a Christian? · 1 reply · +1 points

Because, Andrew, we have all been witness to the manipulative way in which Christianity is evangelised. We see the poor, the ill, the bereaved, the helpless delliberately targeted when they are at their weakest. We see the strategic effort of Christian organisations like Access Ministries and Scripture Union Queensland to infiltrate secular state schools so they can recruit the children of unchurched parents into the faith. Evangelisation is routinely a game of emotional manipulation. In fact, Christianity as an institution is buiilt on emotional manipulation - believe this and you will go to heaven, reject it and you will burn in hell. You may put it more delicately as believe and you will be 'saved' but it doesn't much lessen the manipulation inherent in the concept.

10 years ago @ Things Findo Thinks - Why become a Christian? · 2 replies · +1 points

10. "You have to believe that God became incarnate through a virgin birth, died, rose again, will return someday to judge, and has sent His holy Spirit to literally indwell you."

OK, you've got us on that one. We're just never going to be that gullible.

"I don’t see why anyone would choose willingly to adopt this set of requirements, unless of course, they have met and experienced God."-

You haven't 'met' God (except in your imagination) and your set of 'requirements' are largely only the requirements of social animals living in communities. They're common sense rules for living peacefully and co-operatively in a way which gives humans the best chance of survival.

The fact is, good people will be good people whether they're Christian, Buddhist, Muslim or jumping calathumpians. Horrible people will be horrible people even if they're Christians - and sometimes they'll use their religion to rationalise and even get leverage for their horrible-ness. Those people who are 'good' Christians are simply good human beings. If their faith was stripped from them tomorrow, they'd still be out helping people and fighting selflessly for the rights, dignity and welfare of their fellow human beings - alongside a whole slew of non-Christians and atheists.

If someone is only good because they're a Christian you really have to wonder how long their inner vileness can be contained. If Christianity is the only thing stopping them from being greedy, hateful, rapacious, hedonistic, selfish gits, they are simply ugly people wearing a fragile veneer of religious respectability. Some day that veneer is bound to crack and split and show the monster beneath.

So, I'm sorry Andrew but I find your list really rather silly. It's one of those 'Oh Lord it's hard to be humble when we're perfect in every way" lists. And yes, it really does give me the irrits because I see incredibly selfless, humble, non-religious people putting themselves out every day to help others - sometimes at incredible personal cost - and I haven't seen any of them writing lists about how hard it is to be so virtuous.

10 years ago @ Things Findo Thinks - Why become a Christian? · 7 replies · +1 points

6. " You have to face the living God."

Really, what does this even mean? Give us a date, place and time to meet this 'living' God who seems to exist only in your imagination and we'll happily say hello (though we won't promise to like him).

The fact is, man created God in his own image. The illusion of a supernatural presence in your life is well explained by neurology and more recently neurotheology. The bicameral brain, the illusion of transcendence, the brain's propensity to create auditory and visual hallucinations (yes, even in the completely sane), selective memory, our instinctive need to 'see' patterns and anthropomorphise and much more all point towards the 'experience' of God being a byproduct of the slightly weird (but evolutionarily and neurological explicable) workings of the human mind.

There is no doubt that God *seems* real - but that doesn't make the illusion real. In other words, rather than facing 'the living God', it would be worth while facing scientific fact instead.

7. "You have to join a community of people who will betray, fail, disappoint, frustrate, anger, and annoy you. And love them."

Sheesh! Don't we all?

We are social animals. Whether at work or in our voluntary, domestic or recreational activities we all have to learn to deal with people who drive us batty. If we didn't society would disintegrate. Yes, we roll our eyes and grumble about those who let us down, but most people - Christian, non Christian and atheist - accept our co-workers', family members', friends' and neighbours' eccentricities and continue to work with them or, at least, not to throttle them (as tempting as it may sometimes be).

I've worked with some really, truly, ghastly people. I reckon the restraint I showed by not shaking them until their teeth fell out can only be explained at some level by me loving them as fellow human beings more than I hated them for their many, many assaults on basic human decency.

Why, no matter how much others drive us nuts do we tend not to commit similar offences against them? Not because we're Christians, but because that's how societies hang together and that's what social animals do.

8. "You have to abstain from using force and manipulation to get your way"

And who says that non-Christians routinely use force and manipulation to get their way? We tend to use words, reason and persuasion rather than weapons. That's a lot different from force and manipulation. Take Fred Nile. No, really ... PLEASE! Take him! Nile is a devout Christian MP who recently tried to hold the New South Wales government to ransom by saying he may not back their industrial relations legislation if they wouldn't agree to scrap ethics classes. Force and manipulation, thy name is Reverend Nile.

9. "You have to become as a little child."

Oh, fuh-crying out loud - grow up! There is nothing more harmful to the future of this planet (nor so insulting to your human dignity) than apparently intelligent adults setting aside reason and evidence to effect the kind of child-like credulousness required to accept the literal truth of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and other imaginary friends. I'll say it again. Grow up!