Sunday, September 7, 2014

Doubt doesn't automatically mean....

Simply having doubts does not make an individual an atheist. Having doubts from time to time also doesn't mean a person's surviving beliefs are particularly profound. I'm glad that overall Paul Jesep is comfortable enough to admit to having doubts and to at least think about them to some degree. However, he seems to have fallen for a number of foolish notions that seem to go hand-in-hand with many theists' doubts. One of the more annoying falsehoods implied in his Rainbow Times piece "Faith, Family and God: Dancing with Atheism as a Person of Faith" is the idea that Jesus is an excellent role-model even without religious ideas. That's not just nonsensical it's actually a bit arrogant.

He writes, "It may surprise some readers of this column, but I struggle with faith. There are days I’m a Christian and others when I lean toward deist, or “c”hristian-atheist—a person believing in the principles of Jesus, without a belief in Christ’s divinity, an afterlife or higher authority." Even after setting aside the silly view that occasional doubts somehow automatically strips him of his Christianity, the view that Christ has any merits outside the context of Christianity is ridiculous. There are no "principles" that are uniquely tied to Christ. Most of the supposed ethical teachings of the Christ figure pre-date the advent of Christianity. With or without divine traits the Christ figure is not that different from any number of religious figures from ancient traditions. Christ is not exceptional. The assumption that he is is both ignorant and arrogant.

Throughout the piece it seems pretty clear to me that Jesep firmly maintains his supernatural beliefs. I don't see how he can think he is "dancing with atheism." Jesep does seem to be a good person who genuinely wants to understand and encourage further thought. I applaud him for that but see no reason to withhold valid criticism. Ultimately, his muddled notions of doubt, faith, and what distinguishes belief from non-belief are far more likely to maintain a variety of myths and stereotypes than to help eliminate them. It is somewhat sad given his apparent intentions

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