I found your critique of my deconversion and was somewhat disappointed with it. The initial introduction led me to believe that it was going to be a fair assessment, geared toward understanding, and not just another opportunity to promote comfort toward those sharing in your philosophy.My assessment was geared precisely toward "investigat[ing] whether atheists having long-term experience with both sides' arguments ever later convert to Christianity purely because of comparing those arguments." If you can give me any more data for this investigation than what is available in your deconversion essay, I'd be grateful. In particular, I'd love details on the specific philosophical arguments and positions that you were familiar with before becoming a Christian.
You do know that the material presented in "From Skepticism to Worship" is only an account of the events and thinking that took place in my life and not a formal presentation of the reasoning that led to my belief, are[sic] you not?Of course -- and I nowhere state otherwise.
In as much that it contains the facts of my life and my unsupported opinion, it leaves you in the position of perusing only speculation and unsupported assertions of your own by which to discredit any of its content.If you think any of my assertions are unsupported and unsupportable, then I invite you to identify them.
What I found most interesting was your use of psychological analysis in an attempt to paint my deconversion as a purely emotional reaction to the complex, philosophical questions found in life."Purely"?
On the contrary, I said I seek converts that merely were not "excessively" influenced by non-rational factors. I then put you (quite intentionally) at the top of my list -- i.e. the most knowledgeable and least emotionally-confounded atheist deconvert I've yet heard of. I remarked on the "possibility" that you professed atheism "not just as a rational conclusion [..]". I said I "wonder" whether your emotions had a "confounding influence" on your conversion. I noted that your essay "gives us little reason not to think" you deluded yourself, but I do not actually assert you did so. I said your essay makes you "seem" to have feelings of guilt. I said "there is little evidence here" that you investigated the relevant parts of philosophy. I even gave you credit that you must have some other unstated "evidence for the soul", and that you would reject Pascal's fallacious wager.
Thus in at least eight ways I explicitly stopped far short of asserting that your deconversion was "a purely emotional reaction". Replace "purely" with "partly", and your statement becomes true -- and also loses its accusatory force.
Interestingly, this site seems to confirm an emotional interpretation of your conversion by annotating your story with the comment that "being rational and skeptical are helpful skills but in the end they lead to despair". The site also says that you are a mother of three children. It's odd that some of the most prominent "witnesses for Christ" on the web -- Turkel aka Holding, you, "India" at rationalchristianity.net -- are so secretive about their identity.
Do you realize that with a few basic biographical facts, anyone can provide plausible psychological motives for everyone else's world-view, including those stemming from atheism?(I think you mean "anyone else's".) Perhaps, although some cases (like mine) are harder than others. I agree it doesn't prove anything about (a)theism to explain away a given person's belief as significantly less than rational. But it becomes highly suggestive if no (a)thest's belief cannot be explained away as significantly less than rational. And again, researching atheist deconversion can help me estimate (or even increase) the likelihood of me ever deconverting.
This is a method used to get an audience to discount your opponent's argument before they have read it.It's never used by me for that purpose, because I hold a belief to be not very well-justified if it is held in ignorance of the best arguments against it. My interest here is explicitly in people who have switched sides after long-term experience reading both sides' best arguments.
AJ: In the absence of a religious belief to answer life's questions, I turned my mental energy to science. Science had an awesome track record of solving many problems and its resulting technology had provided tangible benefits to all of mankind. Science was the answer!
BH: Jones' mistake is a common one: as he found out later, life's most important questions are the domain not of science, but of philosophy.
AJ: What you did here was take the sequence of my thinking out of order along withThe above context shows that that, while you may have intended some other meaning, my interpretation is the obvious one. I took nothing out of order: I said your (past) mistake is (still) a common one, and said that you found this out "later", as you go on to state.
misinterpreting my words. When I was young and idealistic, I did think that
science would provide the solutions to life's problems but not the answers to
When I made the statement, "Science hadn't answered life's questions", it wasn't to indicate that I ever thought that it wouldYour "In the absence ... Science was the answer!" statement (quoted above) clearly states that at the time you thought Science was the answer to life's questions. If that's not what you thought, you should change what you wrote.
BH: either 1) God's morality is arbitrary and thus not superior to anyone else's, or 2) God's morality can be evaluated according to principles that are independent of God and thus available for use by non-theists.If you're going to question the standard arguments against Divine Command Theory, you may want to first read this and this.
AJ: I'll be more than happy to engage you in a debate concerning these premises. Are you game?
I've heretofore always been willing to defend my assertions when I find them criticized on a public forum, but I can't make any promises. While a few Christian apologists on the web are well-read researchers, I haven't found one whose best arguments I couldn't readily rebut, e.g.:
However, I will readily make an exception for the first theist who seriously tries to answer each and every question I list here. Are you up to writing at least one sentence for every single question mark on that page? (A year and a half ago Turkel said he was up to it, but I've seen no answers from him yet.)
Other than that, your arguments are based on the usual fallaciesA fallacy is an argument that can be demonstrated to follow a method of inference that is known to be invalid. A taxonomy of common fallacies is available in my online reference text: I seriously doubt you can demonstrate that any "argument" in my analysis is "based on" a bona fide fallacy.
of moral outrage,An ironic charge, given that your essay is so freighted with "moral outrage" at your own prior amorality. The standard apologist complaint of "argument by outrage" seems merely an acknowledgment of the prima facie force of the relevant arguments. If name-calling it a-by-o is your only reply, then I'm happy to cede you any bystanders with whom its prima facie force does not resonate. (I don't recall this simplistic "argument by outrage" complaint ever being used in the theodicy of Christian academics. Can you cite a counter-example?)
speculation and unsupported opinion.If you think any of my assertions are unsupported and unsupportable, then I invite you to identify them.
[these essays] are far from my completed work, which hopefully will be presented on ex-atheist later this year. Perhaps you would like to take a go at me then.If your work is first-rate, and if your ability to defend it is better than what I've seen so far from web apologists, then I'll be happy to "take a go". :-)