Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Well, it seems the Raving Atheist has converted to Christianity of some sort. I never read any of his stuff, but hearing about the sorts of arguments he was presenting for "pro-life," I doubt he was anything like me or my skeptical friends. I not really surprised about the "conversion."

Overall, I'm not really impressed by conversion stories. Many seem completely fictional: Either they never were an atheist, or they were the stereotypical emo kid who labeled himself such to look controversial or rebellious. And don't get me started on all the alleged deathbed conversions described by people who were never there.

Aside from all that, there's a much better underlying reason for being underwhelmed: They never give good reasons for their conversions. It's always about emotional crutches, subjective experiences, and arguments from ignorance. I'm a scientifically minded person. Show me empirical data. Show me the evidence. Commence destroying a phone booth like in that movie.

New scientific theories can spread like wildfire across the scientific community when the evidence moves in its favor. Evidence leads to consensus far quicker than any religion. Of course, anything's faster than 'roughly never.' Religion has schisms that spreads it all over the place. There's no empirical evidence everyone can agree on. Simply put, religion diverges, science converges. If there's ever scientific evidence for the supernatural, you might see me convert, but you'd probably see a mass conversion in the scientific community first.


King of Ferrets said...

What sorts of arguments was he presenting that convince you he wasn't? Not that I'm saying he was, because I have no idea, but it would be interesting to see them. Also, I thought he went rabid pro-life or something? That's what PZ's post said.

Bronze Dog said...

Oops. I meant pro-life. Editedinated.

Mostly I heard second hand. Tended to sound like he was dipping into vitalism along with a bit of... how to describe it... Early hindsight: Assuming what the fetus would be like after it's grown up and whether it'd complain.

King of Ferrets said...

One thing that always amuses me when someone in an abortion debate talks about how it could be the next Washington or Lincoln or Mother Teresa: Either point out how horribly evil said person was (mostly if they say Mother Teresa) or say that we might also be aborting the next Hitler/Stalin/Generic evil guy.

Anonymous said...

Never heard of this guy until reading about him. Reading a few of his articles, I have to say THIS is exactly the sort of person I was talking about when I said there are plenty of atheists out there who reached that position for irrational reasons. It's not surprising that someone who had so little a basis for his atheism other than "it felt right" would convert.

It's basically why I identify more as "rationalist" than "atheist". Atheism for me is merely a side effect of an evidence based world view. If evidence shows a god, I'd believe in it, but if the evidence shows that the Christian story is true, while I'd believe it, I wouldn't worship it.

His abortion position does have all that vitalism stuff to it that Christianity does, and further he goes on with the "potential" argument. I'm not talking about potential to be Abe Lincoln, just the "it has the potential to be a concious person" part. I think I've said this before, but I find that sort of morality hopelessly impracticle. If your basis for a moral requirement to keep something alive is merely that it has the potential to become a concious being, anyone who's celebate is a murderer, as is anyone who doesn't make use of every single egg or sperm they have available, and why stop there? Now that we have the technology to clone, are we morally obligated to use every last cell that we can survive without to make clones, or it's murder? That's not all, there's a nigh infinite multitude of possible people and every choice we make is a choice not to have those multitudes develop. Does that make us genocidal murderers of entire timelines? Just as a small example, mate with one person, and you aren't mating with another, and you are sentencing that other potential genetic sequence to nonexistance.

It's impossible to ever come close to living up to this ridiculous standard. However, there is one thing that makes it alright. No suffering or snuffing out ever occurs to anyone that never existed. I take the position that it's impossible to wrong someone that never existed. I am willing to revise this in the future should time travel enter the picture and allow us to render someone as "having never existed" but this moral system is enough in a world without time travel. Unlike some people, I don't think testing moral codes with situations that can't reasonably be expected to happen is valid.

That said, I still value life enough that I think once conciousness at some level has developed in an infant then I do consider it killing, at roughly the same level as killing a newborn. I'll go with the current scientific consensus as to when that occurs.

At any rate, happy Decemberween everybody! I'm off to get a cup of hot jones.