I am a Freethinker First, and an Atheist Second.

Layman wrote the following things about Robert Price and Acharya S. in the comments section here:

The irony here is that these two heroes of skepticism are atypical of what most online skeptics might expect. Heathen Dan is right that Acharya S is a new age prophetess. Robert Price is more of a materialistic skeptic, but he is also an ardent conservative warhawk who defends Bush's foreign policy.


My response:
Let me state for the record that I am a freethinker first, and an atheist second. No freethinker faces a potential excommunication or heresy trial for not abiding by the party line as far as I'm concerned. I left Christianity partly over this party line attitude. Acharya S. was a Blog member here for a week until she recused herself because of her critics, and I have invited Bob to be a member here with no luck yet.

Where I agree with people, I agree. Where I disagree with people I disagree. That's it. For instance, I do believe Jesus was a historical figure in the 1st century, unlike them. But I learn from everyone.

The goal here at DC is to Debunk evangelical Christianity. This could be done by a Deist, a new age pantheist, an agnostic or an atheist. Where we agree we agree. Where we have our own disputes, we will dispute. Christians do the same thing when it comes to differing views of Calvinism, eschatology, baptism, pentecostal gifts, church polity, and so on. But unlike them such disputes do not undercut a common goal we have when it comes to Christianity.

I (along with Ed Babinski) do not put up barriers between freethinkers so long as we share the same goals. Where we disagree we will disagree, but our commond ground is still that we are freethinkers. We are not hamstrung by religious dogmas and creeds and scriptures that define whether or not we are allowed in the group. We just ask that people are able to back up their beliefs and defend them in areas where we share common ground. Even if someone is way out of bounds with what I think can be rationally defended, I can still say, "but she makes a good case against Christianity...she makes me think."

35 comments:

Hallq said...

New Agers are definitely outside the skeptical mainstream, but I don't see why being a hawk should make one so. There are a few political positions where one side is almost entirely religiously driven (say, gay marriage). On those, the atheists can be expected to line up on one side. There's no reason, however, to expect "atheist = liberal" on every issue.

Joe E. Holman said...

well put, John...

We face the same thing at Ionian Spirit at times. Several pagans and mystics arrived, and with that came some controversy, but at the end of the day, we can all go home and realize we have something the intolerant fundys don't have -- the ability to disagree and still respect each other on the common freethought ground whereon we stand.

(JH)

Robert O'Brien said...

Yeah, I'd take pride in finding common cause with neopagans too! Tell me, Joe, are your "free-thinking" neopagan friends evolutionary Ymirists?

Layman said...

So you find the New Age Movement more rational than Christianity? Less destructive? A better basis upon which to build a society? Just too small of a target? Or is it just that Christians have ticked some of you off more than pagans?

I guess I can understand focusing on evangelical Christianity more than other targets, but allying yourself with a new age priestess to combat alleged irrationality in a particular Christian sect seems to undercut your commitment to your particular view of rationality.

streetapologist said...

Any club in the bag as long as it not the God of the bible huh?

Actually I think this is great bring out some more people who argue that Jesus never existed. This will really rally the troops and give DC the credibility it so richly deserves!

Layman said...

Maybe the title should be,

"Anti-Christianist First, Rationalist After the Christians are Defeated."

John W. Loftus said...

There is so much I can say in response, Layman. And I appreciate your intelligent thoughts. But suffice it for now to say that I am a monist. You are a dualist. You do understand the difference, don't you? I'm sure that you do. Maybe I am atypical of skeptics too. But what is typical? You are not in the position to tell me what is typical of atheists, just like I am not in the position to tell Christians what is typical of true Christianity.

We freethinkers share a common goal against the dominant religious belief system in America. What's wrong with that? This is what I mean.

Now tell me what represents true Christianity so I know my target. Spell it out for us all. I am a freethinker. You?

And as far as rationality goes, unlike other freethinkers I do not believe dispassionate reason alone is possible when it comes to metaphysical beliefs. If it was, then most people would believe the same things.

But what I do strongly believe is that evangelical Christianity is not correct for various reasons I spell out from time to time. Evangelical Christianity claims that reason supports it, so I use reason to debunk it. That's what I do. That's what I believe. And that's the common ground I have with other freethinkers.

To demand that everyone agrees with me on everything places me back among the ultra-conservative fringes of Christianity again where they disfellowship with any other group who disagrees with them over non-essential items.

We share common ground. We are freethinkers, just like you have common ground with other Christians who do not share with you your specific non-consequential beliefs.

So now what?

Layman said...

John,

You seem to define "freethinker" as someone who simply disagrees with evangelical Christianity. Does that make all Muslims freethinkers? All Catholics? The Orthodox? If so, that is a pretty low intellectual threshold. If not, then I am curious what definition would exclude all of the above but include a New Age internet guru?

I supposed you may simply mean any belief system opposed to the dominant one. But that seems more a convenient than a coherent definition. It would include Muslims in America as freethinkers but Muslims in Saudi Arabia as conformists. And I am forced to disagree about evanglical Christianity being the dominant religious force in the United States. It may arguably be one of the most vibrant, but it is by no means dominant.

I had assume that some level of commitment to materialistic rationality was was usually meant by "freethinker."

To demand that everyone agrees with me on everything places me back among the ultra-conservative fringes of Christianity again where they disfellowship with any other group who disagrees with them over non-essential items.

Very few people, including most evangelical Christians I have known, demand that everyone agrees with them on everything. The CADRE for example, includes liberal and conservative, as a well as Orthodox, Catholic, mainline Protestant, Evangelcials, and even Charismatic members.

Hallq said...

So you find the New Age Movement more rational than Christianity?

More rational? Not necessarily? Less dangerous? Most of the time, excluding when alternative medicine replaces evidence-based medicine and the case of "recovered memories." Then again, accepting that disagreement needn't lead to damnation is a big step up in terms of rationality.

Lady_Strange said...

'I guess I can understand focusing on evangelical Christianity more than other targets, but allying yourself with a new age priestess to combat alleged irrationality in a particular Christian sect seems to undercut your commitment to your particular view of rationality. '

Well, Layman, for one, I happen to be that newage priestess to whom you so callously refer.

Destructive, you call us? I and others like myself only wish to be understood, and gain the acceptance and equality enjoyed by everyone else.

Destructive to wish for religious equality and harmony?
Were circumstances reversed we would in no way treat xtians as shabbily as they treat us, in some cases not even allowing a pentagram to be put on the tombstone of a soldier who had Wiccan or Pagan beliefs.

We do not seek to ostracize, or outcast, but instead face those things from people with intolerant attitudes.

You're entitled to your beliefs, but for crying out loud, please try and see past blinkered vision.

Mattie said...

A free thinker is one who questions ideas rather than blindly accepting. The free thinker will not blindly reject ideas on the basis that it doesn't fit their world view. A free thinker is 'free' to 'think' for themselves without biased influence, will come to their own conclusions, and actively seeks this process.

Christians by definition do not do this. What do Christians do when confronted with opposing ideas? They turn to the Bible, pray, or talk to their pastor or another Christian.

What does a free thinker do when confronted with opposing ideas? A free thinker will gather all information and make their own decision. A free thinker will not consult the 'free thinker's handbook' or talk to the 'free thinker's high council' to get an answer on how to think about any particular thing.

A free thinker will turn to the writings of others for varying perspectives on any given issue. However a free thinker has the freedom to disagree.

A Christian also has the freedom to disagree with the Bible. Of course, when they do, they don't remain a Christian for very long.

Layman said...

Lady Strange,

I did not say that you or New Agers were destructive. I was trying to understand why Loftus & Co. consider New Agers freethinkers while excluding Christians from that label.

And is your tolerance expressed by your referenced to my "blinkered vision"? Count me skeptical of the claim that if you and Loftus were representative of the dominant thought in this country that we Christians would be treated with tolerance and kindness.

Layman said...

Mattie,

So a freethinker is free to conclude, after investigation, that the Bible is a worthwhile source of moral authority? Or is a freethinker only able to conclude that the Bible cannot be such an authority? And if you are closing off avenues like that -- and presumable for the Koran or the Book of Mormon -- then just how free is your thinking?

All inquiry is equal but some is more equal than others, eh?

Mattie said...

No Layman, a free thinker will not view the Bible as a source of moral authority, as that defeats the purpose of free thinking. A free thinker may conclude the Bible can be a source of moral guidance, sure. Just as the Koran or I Ching or any other text. However a free thinker will not accept all moral teaching in the Bible as moral or just, simply by virtue of being IN the Bible.

You seem to be missing the point of free thought. If you want to adhere to a parictular closed formed religion then you give up your right to think for yourself as others (text, prophets, deities and pastors) are thinking for you.

Let me ask you this - Do you disagree with the Bible and if so, how do you reconcile those disagreements?

Let me also ask you this - when confronted with an opposing view point such as 'is abortion morally wrong' - where do you base your decision?

Call it what you want, the fact remains, if you are a Christian, you follow the teachings of another in all areas of your life, as it is taught.

Mattie said...

P.S.

Pagans are encouraged to find their own path.

This is why they are more akin to being 'free thinkers'.

John W. Loftus said...

Layman, I understand what you're saying, and you make a good case.

But let me add to what Mattie said. A freethinker is someone who is not afraid to question what he believes because of fear.

As to a fuller description of freethinking see here.

What do you say about my comparison between freethinkers in general even though we may disagree, with Christianity in general and the various denominations who disagree? Christians have such heated arguments between them that a Southern Baptist may disfellowship someone in the Disciples of Christ church and damn him to hell.

I just have more respect for someone who can come to their own conclusions without the fear of divine punishment and excommunication than I do those who's conclusions are hamstrung by such fear. And since I am an atheist I will agree with a well argued piece debunking Christianity by someone, even if we might subsequently disagree after the debunking is over.

Lady_Strange said...

I did not say that you or New Agers were destructive. I was trying to understand why Loftus & Co. consider New Agers freethinkers while excluding Christians from that label.'

It seems Mattie provided a good answer there. A freethinker is one who questions and does not blindly accept facts.
The definition of 'freethinker' is NOT 'atheist'.
One can be of any beliefset and still be a freethinker. It's just the the majority of xtians tend not to be freethinkers, as they DO blindly accept the teachings of a book without question (or with very little question) and the ones who DO begin to question often do not stay xtian.

Mattie is right, most Pagans (maybe not all but the majority in modern times) are encouraged to find our own path, and what works for us.
We don't blindly accept the teaching of some book or teacher. We look to those sources merely as a guide.

'And is your tolerance expressed by your referenced to my "blinkered vision"? Count me skeptical of the claim that if you and Loftus were representative of the dominant thought in this country that we Christians would be treated with tolerance and kindness.'

Don't your own teachings say 'treat others as you would be treated'? Well?
So it figures that when people like myself and John are treated as sub-human scum by christian fanatics, we're bound to be a tad on the defensive side.

Now, on the other hand, if what we experienced was acceptance and equality, there would be no need for said defensiveness.

Do you follow?

*PS why is it that i can't seem to get my html tags to work?

Layman said...

So according to Mattie even if I have really looked into the competing belief systems out there and weighed the evidence for myself and decided that the evidence indicates that the Bible really is true then as a freethinker I should decline to believe what I conclude the evidence suggests.

Pagans are encouraged to find their own path.

Does that inlcude those in the German Faith Movement?

A freethinker is someone who is not afraid to question what he believes because of fear.

You don't think that Richard Carrier would be faced with the fear of being wrong about something he invested so much time and money in or that he would suffer social consequences if he were to convert to Christianity? Those two fears apply to anyone who has spent any amount of time in a belief system. They are hardly unique to Christians. As for the fear of hell, it is onl a fear if I believe Christianity is true. If I doubt Christianity, I doubt hell, and therefore have nothing to fear.

Like I said before, your definition seems contrived to exclude Christians while including people you want to ally yourself with against Christianity.

I am not sure what your point is about Christian disagreement. Yes, Christians disagree. You earlier said they disassociate with anyone who they do not agree with on everything. But that is simply not the case. Most Protestant denominations disagree about what they consider important matters but do not damn each other to hell. And even if they did damn each other to hell, I'm not sure what your point is. Why does a Seventh Day Adventist care if a Baptist thinks they are going to hell?

I just have more respect for someone who can come to their own conclusions without the fear of divine punishment and excommunication than I do those who's conclusions are hamstrung by such fear.

Well, I conlcuded that Catholicism is wrong on important issues despite the fact that such a belief would mean that I would be excommunictead from the Catholic Church and might put me in jeaprody for my soul. Yet I care not a fig leaf about that because I do not believe Catholicism has the authority to damn me to hell or to excommunicate me from the Body of Christ. So I guess that makes me a freethinker?

And since I am an atheist I will agree with a well argued piece debunking Christianity by someone, even if we might subsequently disagree after the debunking is over.

But I thought you were under the impression that there was a historical Jesus. So to which of the New Age guru's well written pieces are you referring?

Layman said...

Lady,

First I want to point out that you have not shown anywhere where I said you or your belief system were destructive. So I infer from your silence on that point that you concede the point and simply misread my original post.

The definition of 'freethinker' is NOT 'atheist'. One can be of any beliefset and still be a freethinker. It's just the the majority of xtians tend not to be freethinkers, as they DO blindly accept the teachings of a book without question (or with very little question) and the ones who DO begin to question often do not stay xtian.

Well, if John Loftus agrees with you that at least some Christians are freethinkers then I'll be glad to find that level of agreement with him.

Don't your own teachings say 'treat others as you would be treated'? Well?
So it figures that when people like myself and John are treated as sub-human scum by christian fanatics, we're bound to be a tad on the defensive side.


So because you feel so treated by others you were justified in claiming I said something that I did not say? I am no fan of internet skepticism but I cannnot be fairly accused of treating such skeptics, or their new age allies, as sub-human scum.

Now, on the other hand, if what we experienced was acceptance and equality, there would be no need for said defensiveness.

If you are saying you overreacted to my comment because of how others have treated you, then I accept your apology.

I do not accept your or Loftus' arguments nor do I think they are equal to the truth. But since you reject my ideas and think they are wrong, I'm not sure what your point is. We three trade in ideas and are mostly known in this forum by the ideas and arguments we advance. I should treat people as I would like to be treated but I need not pretend erroneous, vacuous, wrong, or stupid ideas are anything other than what they are.

Lady_Strange said...

It is possible I misinterpreted you but:

'So you find the New Age Movement more rational than Christianity? Less destructive? A better basis upon which to build a society? Just too small of a target? Or is it just that Christians have ticked some of you off more than pagans? '

It seems the tone there is a tad sarcastic, that you imply here that the newage movement is both destructive and irrational.

Like I said, maybe I misinterpreted you. If so, please, do explain what it is you actually meant.

Lady_Strange said...

'I should treat people as I would like to be treated but I need not pretend erroneous, vacuous, wrong, or stupid ideas are anything other than what they are.'

And there's a fine example of 'tolerance' right there.

Remember that a lot of people find your ideas 'erroneous, vacuous, wrong and stupid', but tolerant freethinkers do not go around claiming their way is THE ONLY WAY and that everyone else's ideas are 'stupid'
Doing so implies both a lack of tolerance and respect.

I don't give a flying fig what other people choose to believe, just so long as they do not try to preach to me that their way is the only way and their truth the only truth.

Thus, this is why most xtians cannot be freethinkers. Because they will not accept any viewpoint but their own as being truth.

Layman said...

Lady,

I meant exactly what I said. I am clearly trying to understand why I site populated mostly by atheists who pride themselves on their naturalistic worldview finds commoncause against one particular sect of Christianity with other people, such as New Agers, who would not seem to share that naturalistic world view.

Layman said...

Lady,

And there's a fine example of 'tolerance' right there.

Because I think some ideas are wrong and some are really wrong I am intolerant? By claiming that those who base their core religious beliefs on the existence and identity of Jesus of Nazrety are completely wrong about that fact, are you showing your tolerance? You are staking out an idea that is not immune from criticism anymore than the Christian faith is immune from criticism.

but tolerant freethinkers do not go around claiming their way is THE ONLY WAY and that everyone else's ideas are 'stupid'

Since I did not say that everyone else's ideas are stupid, I can only assume that you are again overreacting based on the injustices you believe others have inflicted upon you.

Thus, this is why most xtians cannot be freethinkers. Because they will not accept any viewpoint but their own as being truth.

And you think atheists believe your viewpoint or mine are also truth? No, they think their viewpoint on the issue is the only truth. So I guess you deny that atheists are freethinkers?

And is "xtians" instead of "Christians" just a way of avoiding writing four more letters or a slight against the religious beliefs of others? Is that another example of your tolerance and respect for everyone?

John W. Loftus said...

Layman, why can't we use the word "freethinker" to describe those of us who are not hamstrung by the fear of being socially ostracized, excommunicated or punished in hell? We are people who follow the evidence of reason and of scientific investigation rather than having to first harmonize and check such findings with an ancient inspired book written by superstitious people?

Sure, you aren't bothered by being excommunicated by the Catholic church, because you aren't a Catholic. Instead, tell me how it would feel if you were kicked of CADRE Comments and ostracized by your home church and Christians everywhere because you didn't tow the party line? For those of us here at DC it was (and is) a terrible experience. But now that we don't have to care about the Christian censors in our respective church denominations, we can think for ourselves without feeling any more rejection.

You want to be a freethinker like us because you think you are a freethinker in the same way as we are, eh? I just told you what a freethinker is. If you claim you are one then I think you are claiming to be something you are not. It's a word that best describes us, not you, just like the word "believer" best describes you and not us, even though we too have beliefs. Now do you see?

John W. Loftus said...

Layman, it's sectarianism I dislike, just like I have a dislike for intolerance. Christianity is intolerant to the point of judgmentalism. Yes, I too can be intolerant, but I am intolerant about much less than Christians I know.

John W. Loftus said...

Layman: I meant exactly what I said. I am clearly trying to understand why I site populated mostly by atheists who pride themselves on their naturalistic worldview finds commoncause against one particular sect of Christianity with other people, such as New Agers, who would not seem to share that naturalistic world view.

It's similar to how Christians regularly cite Michael Denton's arguments against evolution. They do so because it favors them even though he is not a believer. They will quote from a liberal, or even an atheist, if what either of them says supports what they say. But that doesn't mean they are bedfellows.

Layman said...

John,

You can call yourself whatever you want. I was just wondering if there was some dispassionate, nonpolemical meaning in your use of the term and it does not appear that there is. It implies a certain process oriented approach rather than a substantive conclusion based belief system. Which is why I wondered why you include in that term New Agers, who would not seem at first blush to be those who "follow the evidence of reason and of scientific investigation" blah blah blah. I kind of feel like I'm in Animal Farm and jousting about who gets the best label rather than who is right.

As I pointed out, you have a new group of friends and a new investment in time and effort that would suffer if your exploration lead you to Islam or back to Christianity. So you are hardly unencumbered. Indeed, the more "succesful" the skeptic the less of a freethinker they would appear to be by your reasoning. And as I also pointed out, fear of hell only matters if I believe in hell. If I doubt hell, its hardly a reason to keep me in the faith. Besides, as I have said before, few Christian I know have ever indicated that they stay Christian or resist doubt out of fear of hell. I certainly have not.

You want to be a freethinker like us because you think you are a freethinker in the same way as we are, eh?

I've been trying to understand what you mean by freethinker, not trying to join your fraternity of atheists and New Age gurus. I have been hoping to see you reconcile a definition of freethinker that includes everyone but evangelical Christians and I have yet to see it. I especially was interested in how you included New Age gurus in your definition of freethinker while excluding one particular sect of Christians. I remain unsatisfied though appreciative of your attempts to answer these questions.

Yes, I too can be intolerant, but I am intolerant about much less than Christians I know.

So its a matter of degree rather than of kind?

It's similar to how Christians regularly cite Michael Denton's arguments against evolution. They do so because it favors them even though he is not a believer. They will quote from a liberal, or even an atheist, if what either of them says supports what they say. But that doesn't mean they are bedfellows.

But you outright claimed to be bedfellows with a New Age guru. Even bragged about having had her be a part of your blog and proclaimed yourselves fellow freethinkers. And all the while claiming you disagreed with her about Jesus' existence. So you are not citing her for one particular argument because you reject her central argument. Please correct me if I am wrong and you are a Jesus Myther. But even if you are, your analogy is incorrect.

Yes, Christians may cite Michael Denton for some of his arguments. But they do not claim he is a Christian because they agree with him about evolution. You reject the New Age guru's arguments yet claim her as a fellow freethinker. So the analogy fails but is useful in highlighting my confusion.

Basically, it appears to me you'll promote any argument that you think hurts Christianity even if you have no common ground with the person promoting the argument and even reject the argument itself.

So please explain to me if you ally with this particular New Age guru because you are convinced by her arguments against a historical Jesus (while rejecting her New Age philosophy) or you ally with her because she only believes what is confirmed through the evidence of reason and scientific investigation.

Lady_Strange said...

'Because I think some ideas are wrong and some are really wrong I am intolerant? By claiming that those who base their core religious beliefs on the existence and identity of Jesus of Nazrety are completely wrong about that fact, are you showing your tolerance? You are staking out an idea that is not immune from criticism anymore than the Christian faith is immune from criticism. '

Oh please. Spare me. Did you not read the part of my post above where I said I do not CARE what others believe so long as they do not try to shove it down my throat?
So are you claiming that my not believing in xtianity makes me intolerant?
Don't be foolish, what it makes me is....NOT A CHRISTIAN.

What I do NOT tolerate is people who come up to me and tell me that I'm wrong and evil, and going to 'hell'.
If you believe that, fine, but KEEP IT TO YOURSELF, or at least just tell those who WANT to hear it!

I'm betting atheists feel the same way, they do not need to hear someone tell them they're going to 'hell' all the time.

The problem with xtians is that they claim they are being persecuted when organizations like the ACLU make efforts to stop them from forcibly pushing their beliefs down other people's throats!

'Since I did not say that everyone else's ideas are stupid, I can only assume that you are again overreacting based on the injustices you believe others have inflicted upon you.'

Don't get me started. I know people who have had custody of their children taken from them, good parents, just because some fanatic xtian found out they practice some or other form of Pagan belief.

You don't think this is injustice? And this is the tip of the iceberg!

'And you think atheists believe your viewpoint or mine are also truth? No, they think their viewpoint on the issue is the only truth. So I guess you deny that atheists are freethinkers?'

I know atheists don't agree with me. But we share a common cause in that we are not fond of religious fundamentalist....of any kind, who seek to control others.

And anyone who believes anything can be a freethinker. A freethinker is someone who thinks for themselves, and questions. Why do you think an atheist can't be a freethinker?

'And is "xtians" instead of "Christians" just a way of avoiding writing four more letters or a slight against the religious beliefs of others? Is that another example of your tolerance and respect for everyone?'

It's an abbreviation, dammit!

To John, I apologize for this rant, but it just felt some things I said needed to be said. Feel free to let me know if you think I was too harsh.

Daniel said...

I've been trying to understand what you mean by freethinker, not trying to join your fraternity of atheists and New Age gurus. I have been hoping to see you reconcile a definition of freethinker that includes everyone but evangelical Christians and I have yet to see it.

Might I step in?

First, please remember that we did not invent this term. If you dispute it or have issues with it, write to Merriam-Webster.

It is true that the term "freethinker" does not, in fact, exclude any particular sect a priori, or definitionally limit itself to one. What it does is point to a methodology by which someone arrives at their worldview, focusing on the absence of two particular aspects: dogma and authority.

Now, the major issue here is whether or not it is theoretically possible to arrive at a worldview of Evangelical Christianity without incorporating those two features antithetical of freethought. Perhaps you could explain to us how you form your conclusions about, say, the fact that a particular prophet, or part of the Bible, is really God speaking without reverting to these two anathemas?

Now, I am not saying it isn't theoretically possible, just as many things are, but I would certainly say that a "freethinking Evangelical Christian" is about as improbable as a "freethinking Jihadi" or the like. You don't arrive at either without accepting and embracing some serious dogma, and handing over your intellectual authority to a set of religious creeds and doctrines. [eg infallibility of the Bible, or Qu'ran]

I don't think that this issue is terribly difficult to figure out -- making the leap from, "the Bible is historically reliable for reasons X, Y, and Z," or, "we have evidence that the Jews believed A and B about Jesus from the Talmud," to "the Bible is God's Word and is infallible, perfect, etc." [note that I'm not focused on inerrancy per se, but trustworthiness], requires a sort of faith-based, dogmatic approach that finds itself mutually exclusive with freethought.

I know of virtually no Evangelical Xian who can restrain themselves to the former and not delve into the latter. But, I could be terribly wrong.

John W. Loftus said...

Layman Basically, it appears to me you'll promote any argument that you think hurts Christianity even if you have no common ground with the person promoting the argument and even reject the argument itself.

I mainly promote freethinking, and secondarily I promote atheism, as I've said. And while I do think Jesus was a historical person I'm interested in pondering the argument itself. Furthermore, whether I am right about the non-mythical status of Jesus or not means very little to me. For whether he existed or not doesn't change the fact that I reject Christianity.

So please explain to me if you ally with this particular New Age guru because you are convinced by her arguments against a historical Jesus (while rejecting her New Age philosophy) or you ally with her because she only believes what is confirmed through the evidence of reason and scientific investigation.

As I said, I myself might be atypical of atheists and skeptics. I received a lot of flack for having her here at DC, even from other team members. But I am a freethinker first and an atheist second.

I have also invited a liberal Christian here (who has not accepted), and I've had a Deist or two here as well. The purpose of DC is to debunk evangelical Christianity, and that can be done by anyone who rejects evangelical Christianity, which I think has the best chance to be correct about Christianity.

If this site were dedicated to promoting atheism then only atheists would be allowed to be on it. But this Blog is not that specific. We have agnostics here and I disagree with them, so now what? So what is the problem that YOU have with a New Ager here at DC? Is it that you think a New Ager has less of an ability to debunk Christianity than others?

It would be no different if you set up a Blog to debunk atheism. Anyone who was not an atheist could be invited to make their case, even Muslims, New Agers, Deists, and Jews, just so long as they can make atheists think twice about what they believe.

----------
Lady_Strange, you're doing just fine.

Layman, thanks for the opportunity to clarify myself. Are you still confused? Do you have any more questions? Is it time to give this a rest...or not?

streetapologist said...

John,

Are you admitting that atheism is a "belief system"?

Layman said...

Daniel,

So you agree that the New Age Movement bases all of its beliefs on logic and science and has no appeal to authority or dogma (which I guess would exclude personal revelation or enlightenment)?

As for myself, I believe Christianity is the best explanation for the facts of which I am aware. This rests on logic and science, including my historical inquiries, but it also includes my personal experience.

Like I said, I don't really care how you define freethinker, I was just curious as to how the New Age gurus got in and one sect of Christianity is excluded.

Layman said...

Loftus,

I understand your intent to debunk one particular sect of Christianity. I just don't see how that means that everyone who would be able to join that effort would be, per se, freethinkers. That is the point of confusion for me. Indeed, Catholics may want to join on the bandwagon and debunk evangelical Christianity, but they could hardly be said to -- as Morgan put it -- be free from dogma and authority.

Daniel said...

Layman,

1) You are attributing to me a defense of what John said, while I actually was simply laying out well-defined terms for you
2) I am not here to defend what you say that John said. I am not here to defend New Agers or Catholics or anyone else. I am not actually even trying to defend the dictionary definition of freethought. I am just trying to relay it to you.
3) I do not agree that New Agers are "freethinkers" if they rely upon dogma or authority to form their conclusions. I also do not agree that they fit the bill if what they believe is not evidenced and rational.
4) The evidences you rely upon are all based upon the authority of the book upon which your evidences are predicated.

Layman said...

Daniel,

I appreciate your definition, but it was not really the point at issue except so far as it included groups that I thought were surprising.

I'm not sure what to make of No. 4. It does not appear to be fairly inferred from anything that I wrote here. I've also written a lot about Christianity and don't remember writing simply that I believe it because a book says it.