Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Background and purpose

PREFACE: I am not a very good writer, so please bear with me. Thanks!

Hello visitor.

A little background on myself.  I am a 20 year old Computer Science student from North Carolina.  I was born and raised in the Assemblies of God church.  My father is an Assemblies of God minister and a chaplain.  Needless to say, I am a Christian.  I attend church as much as my schoolwork and job permits and enjoy reading and studying the bible.

The great thing about coming to college is that you get exposed to many different religions and beliefs, from Islam to Atheism.  I like to think of myself as a rather open individual and love talking to people about what they believe and why.  Its because of that that Ive picked The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.

I want to be clear from the start that I believe that God exists and that I am not questioning my religious beliefs.  I picked this book up because I am hoping to see what an Atheist thinks like, why he/she holds a belief that God does not exist.  I understand that Richard Dawkins does not represent every atheist, but I have to start somewhere, right?  I will try to keep a completely open mind when reading through the book and if I fail, I apologize ahead of time!

Thank you!


  1. Good luck to you! Fellow redditors look forward to a discussion based on your findings, and ask only that you can back up your opinions and convictions with factual evidence. Very much looking forward to it!

  2. That's pretty cool.

    You may be interested to hear what an apostate from the Assembly of God has to say about their experience. The Jan 5, 2012 episode of The Thinking Atheist has a couple of them.

    They're good people, and their stories are heartbreaking to me. If you can find some way to help closeted atheists in your community have at least a little bit of comfort - you know, make it clear you'll discuss the topic without judgement to anyone you suspect may be losing, or might have lost their faith - it would be a noble thing, I believe.

  3. Not to give away any spoilers, but Atheists don't have or practice beliefs regarding Theism.
    Atheism is "Not theism".

    You can be defined as "not X", and have no opinion on X. You can be defined as "not X" and see no evidence as to why you should be X.
    I guess you could be "not X", and also feel the need to "believe not X" too, but this seems to be a common misconception, rather than a practical popular type of person.

    I guess, in context, you're probably interested in people who aren't Theists, but that make noise about Theism.

    But know that, outside of America, the most common type of person who isn't a Theist (atheist), doesn't care that much about Theism, and doesn't need to if they live somewhere not dominated by it culturally, and unfortunately, politically, as it is in America.

    I also recommend living abroad somewhere completely different for a while, and live with some good people, where the word "Jesus" to them, is as arbitrary as "Ganesh" or "Mohammad" is to you.

    The reason America is ripe for people who aren't Theists, getting wound up about Theism, and specifically Christianity, is because in America, Jesus is considered a default, and I guess it's easy to see America as your entire world.

  4. I'll be following this blog as well. My final tipping point from undecided to atheist was this book. I got halfway through and I finally went, "ok, yep, that's definitely it for me." However, this was after about six or seven years of transition, so it's not something you'll hit right off the bat. Keep an open mind, be willing to be wrong, and really decide whether Dawkins' arguments hold weight or if you can find *good* reasons he's wrong. You might surprise yourself.

  5. Just to clarify something I noticed you wrote on your blog; You referred to atheism as a religion itself.

    Atheism, however, is not a religion - just as "Not believing in Gremlins" is not a religion.

    Here's a great image I found which helps to clear these issues up:

  6. I'm posting this here because I don't think you'd see it on Reddit.

    Do not be put off by the tone Mr. Dawkins uses throughout the book. I'm a stone cold athiest and I couldn't stomach the sarcastic and snide tone he presents his argument in. Some of the passages sound downright childish.

    So just look past his personality and read his arguments and ideas, not his immature attacks on your beliefs. I was very excited to read this book, but I was quite let down, despite agreeing with every point he makes.

  7. As an atheist myself, I'll follow this with interest. :)

  8. As an atheist redditor who's yet to read any Dawkins, this looks very interesting indeed. I hope you enjoy it, regardless of what your views are at the end. The spirit of it, engaging in the marketplace of ideas, is what's important. God[?]speed!

  9. I too was raised in Pentecostal churches. I found The God Delusion to be a pretty good read — and I have to say, I really like Richard Dawkins. I've watched nearly all his videos on YouTube and find very little I disagree with, as is often the case with more sophisticated theologians who debate or discuss religion with Dawkins.

    One thing that really hit me after a while, however, was the shallowness of the arguments people made for religion or the existence of God when debating Dawkins. Things like "it adds meaning to my life" or "I wouldn't want to acknowledge a universe without God". But when Dawkins states that he rejects Christianity for the reason that it's not true, no one ever seems to dispute him.

  10. @ihavepetiteballs

    That's a good image. I believe (as somebody in the top left corner) that anybody on the right side is an idiot that doesn't want to face the possibility of being wrong.

  11. As you stated, you have to start somewhere. But please, let this be the first not the last.

    Dawkins is fine. But there are greater minds that have written on this subject throughout history. From Epicurus to Bertrand Russel and Lucretius to Christopher Hitchens.

    As a favor to humanity, don't stop at one book.


  12. Hello! I'm also from NC, I go to Chapel Hill, and I was curious as to where you're attending.

    I think this blog and your willingness to understand another side's argument, especially one that conflicts with your beliefs, is awesome. I don't see much of that here in NC, other than at college; Chapel Hill is probably the most liberal college in the state, next to the school of the arts.

    Anyway, I hope you enjoy the read! I prefer Sagan and Russel myself, but Dawkins is an amazing start.

  13. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this

    -from a former catholic

  14. As a former Christian who enjoys reddit and Dawkins and is from NC as well... I will be following this blog. Good luck to you.

    @ Meg, have you taken any courses with Ehrman yet?

  15. As a Christian who's read The God Delusion, I'd definitely support your endeavour, and encourage you to keep going - even though Dawkins' smug rhetorical style can be pretty nauseating! It can be really tempting to give up at times - apart from the writing style, I generally got quite frustrated by Dawkins attacking a religious straw man that I didn't identify with whatsoever - but it's really helpful in understanding a certain type of atheist mindset.

    Keep in mind that not all atheists are as insufferable as Dawkins, though! Most are perfectly lovely.