Sorry about the long absence. A cold, followed by midterms, makes for an overly long dry-spell. Also, a quick note regarding the earlier posts: I've gone back and fixed all of the names of the people I talked to. I may be thinking of the wrong person, but at least I'm using the correct name now.

Now, on to the main point of this post.
As I've probably mentioned before, my mother is a youth minister at the local church. What this means, is that she is essentially the Sunday School teacher, or the religious educator, for the teenagers at the church.
Because of this, we have several religious (Christian and Catholic, to be specific) books laying around the house. Aside from the numerous obligatory Bibles lying around, most of these are just simply books about teens, connecting with teens, and surviving in a digital age, just all with a Christian hook to them. All of this is fairly understandable; it can be difficult to get through to kids, especially when they switch so quickly from Twitter, to Facebook, to Myspace, and the like. We started with e-mail, and actual snail-mail, but soon found out that none of the kids read anything they were sent. So, we switched to simply posting announcements on Myspace, and now have moved to Facebook.

But that's not why I'm making this post. The one book that we have, which I never really understood was "Catholicism for Dummies"
It seems pretty harmless and useful at first: it's a book which plainly lays out all of the doctrine of the Church, what Catholics believe, and why.
But then I started to really think about what that was saying, especially about a youth minister. If you don't know anything about Catholicism, and want a general overview, that's one thing. But if you not only identify as Catholic, but also teach other people about being Catholic, and you still need a book to tell you what Catholics do, and what they believe, then all that is telling me is that you don't know what you believe. Or, that you are willing to believe whatever someone in power says you should believe.

When I went to that Frank Turek lecture back in July, I had a chance to talk to Mr Turek afterwards.
We quickly got to talking about his book, "I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist". (There were so many things a I wanted to say to him about how blatantly wrong he was about things in most of his own book, but there are only so many hours in the day.)
He eventually asked me if I'd read it, and when I said no, he offered to give me one. I was going to say, why would I want something so obviously made of bullshit? But, not wanting to be rude, I ended up getting a free book, signed by the author. That was when I found out that free, signed copies of books always make me a little giddy, even if I hate the book itself.

After he handed me the book, Turek asked me if I had read "that Dawkins book?" I'm sure he meant the God Delusion, and I said that I hadn't had a chance to read it yet, unfortunately.
This seemed to genuinely surprise him. At the time, I thought he had only brought the book up because he was hand out his own book, and earlier, I had corrected him on a mischaracterization of Dawkins, based off of a scene from Ben Stein's "Expelled" movie.

Now, though, after some more thought, I'm starting to think it had more to do with how some xtians see Dawkins, and just general assumptions on how we must think. Namely, they assume that we think the same way they do; believe whatever the top-ranking person says, without question or hesitation.

So, of course, if Dawkins is the Pope of Atheists, I being the heathen I am, must surely have read his book cover to cover three times that week alone. I mean, how else could I have gotten the idea that there is no god, and that you don't derive morals from the Bible, and that the Catholic Church is the physical embodiment of pure evil?

The main point I'm trying to make with all of this, is that simply because these people need books to tell them what to believe, and how to believe, doesn't mean that we need someone to tell us how to act, too.
Many people have said that getting Atheists together is sort of like herding cats. We're all individuals, we just happen to agree that there's no god. It's like trying to get all the people who like the color blue to come together as a community. I'm not saying we can't be a community, we just won't ever be a coven.

I don't get my morals from a book, or from someone speaking to me about how to act. I may be influenced from some things, but I don't immediately change me attitude every time someone tells me to. When someone I respect tells me a different way of thinking or living, I certainly take it into consideration, but it goes through a lengthy approval process of internal and external scrutiny before I finally accept it, if at all.

I'm almost glad I haven't had a chance to read "The God Delusion" yet, simply so that I still have that fact to lord over theists. No, I haven't memorized that book, but yes, I do have similar beliefs to other atheists. That's because they were derived from skeptical, critical, secular, rational thinking. I judge based on my own personal morals, and those of the society I live in. I don't get my morals from an outdated, over-translated, obscure and ambiguous book written ~2000 years ago.

I have more I could say on this post, but I feel like I'm starting to become a little incoherent, so I'm going to bed now.

Next time I post: Hopefully I'll be able to say something about my latest Apologetics meeting. We talked about the "Expelled" movie, which I haven't seen, and really don't know anything about.
Also, I found out that I unfortunately don't know as much as I'd like to know about evolution, but I do know enough to know when someone is making shit up (hint: the apologists were making shit up, not the scientists.)

Views: 16

Comment by Prazzie on October 27, 2009 at 2:30am
I'd say don't read 'The God Delusion' (it's a lovely book, but preaches to the choir - you have probably heard everything in it already!) and read 'The Greatest Show on Earth' instead, since you say you're not entirely au fait with the theory of evolution. (And allow me to recommend the audiobook again, read by Dawkins and his wife - great stuff!)

I don't know what lies the apologists were making up, but one thing that really irks me is when they say things like evolution says dogs will give birth to rabbits (or crocoducks). Charles Darwin himself, in the introduction of Origin, wrote: "[Some would say]...some bird had given birth to a woodpecker, and some plant to the misseltoe, and that these had been produced perfect as we now see them; but this assumption seems to me to be no explanation..." I'm not quote-mining, the man was very verbose :)

Evolution-deniers are so often fractally wrong.
Comment by Galen on October 27, 2009 at 7:04pm
I never really understood ... "Catholicism for Dummies"

Oh man, I wouldn't admit to not understanding a "for dummies" book, LOL!
Comment by Dave G on October 27, 2009 at 9:36pm
I agree with Prazzie, if you want a basic understanding over evolution put forth in an interesting, understandable way, The Greatest Show On Earth is a good book to start with. You might also want to look up Why Evolution Is True.


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