Today was HECTIC! Had relief classes at Mother Teresa CC again and they were great, IT, English, Woodworking and Spanish! We also had an evacuation to the oval for a suspected electrical fault or fire that the Fire Department was called out for – took about 15 mins to arrive and a further 10 – 15 to give the all clear. Once home, did my video recording for my forthcoming vid on the Seven Sacraments of RC then Dhal and rice for tea (dinner) with extra hot yellow chilli from my Dad (Father in law’s) plant home grown. I’d left it to dry out in the fridge for about 8 days from picking and it was dry and epically spicy! Want to make it into a proper pickled hot sauce next 🙂
Below is the record of my subsequent email convos with Peter of Reality not Fantasy FB page since I last posted on our chat:
Hi again Peter,
Hope you are well, I have been taking a bit of a break from chatting but also have had ongoing convo with another atheist named Andrea who goes by ‘Vel’ of Pennsylvania USA who you’d undoubtedly like, her wordpress blog is clubschadenfreude and her comments on my own blog began with rebuttal of some of my points of discussion with you. It’s already after 8:00 pm in Austin, Texas so the call to the Atheist experience will have to wait, it’s going to be an early morning for me 6:30 am call time but I’m still keen to give them some of my time and engage in intellectual debate, it’s going to be worthwhile to me and for them as well I am sure.
To return to our own ongoing discussion – I am confident you’ve got a purpose behind your round of queries previously, Q3 Would there be free will in heaven? N
In principle, I believe free will only exists in a state where it’s possible to deny God’s will, freedom in this sense means having the ability to choose not to obey God, regardless of whether or if you then do obey God. Basically when you say God is real, and admit that God is superior to you and has legitimate authority over you, you then submit your own will to God’s and from that point on, your will is subsumed or subservient to their’s. I hope that makes a little bit of sense?
I am happy to get into more depth about what I’m planning to call in to AE about and discuss with you. But in my conversations with both yourself, now Andrea and what I’ve seen on their channel page on YT a common theme is emerging. I am quite happy for atheists to dispute the stupid claims of evangelical Christians that are plainly ridiculous. E.g. that the Bible provides an inexhaustible supply of wisdom and knowledge for living life well in all contexts without any additional input from external sources. (which I obviously do not agree with) However, one thing I have seen is that Atheists such as you, Andrea and Matt, appear to me, very intent on requiring the destruction of the belief of Christians like myself, on the grounds that we/I have been brainwashed, or are willfully ignorant, or are stupid and naive for believing in God (especially a Christian model of an all-powerful universal creator), who posit our/my own views in the ‘public square’, without an expectation that all others ‘must’ follow what we/I claim or be punished ‘by us/me’. I want to know what they believe Christians, like myself, are doing to them at AE (genuinely, I want to know how they feel, as well as any negative experiences they have had to endure). I also want you to feel free to air any grievances you have in a relatively safe space with me – I’m not judging you harshly or saying you’re definitely going to go to hell for example. I also lament the foolishness of irrational Christians who make laughable claims that are easily disproved by logic and reason alone. However, nothing I’ve yet heard has even come close to the level of ‘proof’ which I feel would be necessary for me to disbelieve that God made reality and doesn’t need us to exist as themselves (in other words that they are independent of the created reality which is lesser than them). A central tenet of Atheism as espoused by Matt, Andrea and yourself at least, is the idea of evidence; a point on which you are all very consistent which I find laudable, in that you affirm the material reality to be all that is proven to exist by the methodology of science, which exists within this material reality and is fundamentally limited to it. You make the claim that in our own lived experiences you personally (and they personally) have never had direct experience of God influencing your lives, you all agree that thus there is no reliable (to you) evidence of God’s existence and thus you doubt God (at least as understood by any human) exists. I obviously disagree and will respectfully outline my beliefs on the show, that God is the necessary metaphysical (meta = behind/beyond according to merriam-webster) source of reality. I agree that we cannot ‘know’ with certainty that God is ‘real’ but we can at least make a choice to what extent we are going to believe the story of Christianity, I at least choose to be much closer to believing it (all true) than you who I characterise (I hope fairly) as much closer to believing it to be (all false) seeing these views as existing on a continuum.
I am very happy to hear your thoughts and opinions in reply whenever you can, it will be almost a week till I can call AE.
Q3 Would there be free will in heaven? N Really? That’s surprising. I wonder if you would have answered the same way if I had asked you this question first and not seen the other 2 🙂 . So you are suggesting that in (fictional) heaven nobody has free will. So nobody has any choice & can’t do what they want so therefore obviously must be controlled. Doesn’t sound like a very nice place to be! (if it existed).
“I also want you to feel free to air any grievances you have in a relatively safe space with me”. I’m not sure what you’re getting at. I don’t think any of us have grievances with Christians. Perhaps some do for all the years they were lied to & I’m sure they feel angry after realizing they have wasted so many years believing in nonsense. That didn’t happen to me. It may come across that we are trying to destroy your faith but it’s more about trying to get people to realise the truth rather than some sort of retaliation for something they did to us. Sometimes that happens by asking questions or making them think more about their beliefs & why they think god is real. Also I will comment on a post that comes up in my newsfeed if the person is saying something totally ridiculous like “God is always good” or “Nothing is impossible for god” which is blatantly not true. It annoys me no end when I see stuff like that. I don’t want atheism pushed onto anyone. I would prefer they were smart enough to figure it out for themselves but sometimes they need a helping hand.
I guess now that I’m thinking about it there is one thing that does annoy me about believers & that is the strange belief that only believers can have an opinion & everyone else should shut up. It seems quite ok for a believer to post god is real but if we post god is imaginary everyone gets offended. That’s not fair. I’ve even had my Mother say “you shouldn’t post things like that”.. & I say why not? Why is it only acceptable for Christians to post religious crap but I can’t have my say in case I offend someone?
” God is the necessary metaphysical source of reality. ” Once again this is only your assertion that you cannot prove. If you are going to say things like that on the show you will be called out. You cannot just state something as a fact to try to win an argument or make a point without providing evidence. This is only your opinion which means nothing. I could say invisible pink unicorns are the necessary metaphysical source of reality. Why don’t you agree? It sounds just as meaningless to us when you swap pink unicorns for god. If this is the tact you are going to use on the show then you will get nowhere. Have you decided on what question or statement you are going to call in with? I’m really looking forward to the call.
There is still 1 unanswered question from the previous emails & the only one I will ask in this email.
Why do you think your god is the real one? (from all of the other gods man invented & worship) What did you do to determine it was real & what methods did you use to disregard the other gods (which other people firmly believe is also the real one just like you). Is there anything you can’t believe is true just based on faith? Oops sorry that was another question. 🙂
Until next time,
Hey again Peter 🙂
I’ve definitely been preparing for my discussions with (I hope I can get through and they take international callers) Matt and his collaborators – I’ve yesterday and today been watching a really intriguing discussion between him and Jordan Petersen 3ish years ago here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmH7JUeVQb8
I really rate it, and it was pleasing to hear more of Matt’s views which I feel you have self-identified as sharing to a significant extent, I will continue to try to answer your queries as best I can so firstly I don’t know exactly if I’d answer the 3rd question about free will differently had you asked it first, because you didn’t, but I do believe I have a coherent view of the possible afterlife, which I made a video about early on and has been up on YT since before you asked me. In short, free will is a feature/perk/bonus or perhaps burden of this reality, I think Heaven must be a different type/kind of reality with different rules, including that it’s meaningless to ‘disobey’ God if you’re there. I don’t believe you’d be capable of doing so anymore in eternity, I think of it as being stuck as you are at the end of your life – being done like a recipe of a cake being cooked and ‘finished’; life being the cooking stage, the finished cake state being the heavenly reality.
I think more and more that my God – Jesus and the ‘trinity’ is a belief of mine, that you do not have to share for us to have productive convo. I certainly am not telling you you can’t think like you do. I have no problem with you asserting your right to hold your views and don’t find that offensive, indeed, I acknowledge your right to say things I don’t like, like that believers must be brainwashed, as whilst I disagree, I try to be respectful and consider why you hold your views. Why do I believe my God is the real one? To a very real degree, because I was born to ‘nominal’ Catholic/Christians (one an Anglican convert from childhood – my mother, the other an evangelical Christian who’s mother was Episcopalian and who’s Jewish apostate father died when he was 7, leading to a series of step-father’s his favourite of whom was a practicing Catholic), who baptised me into Roman Catholicism as a baby, raised me (very imperfectly) as a Catholic including milestones like first reconciliation and holy communion but entirely skipping confirmation (which I rectified independently in my late teens of my own volition), including smatterings of Catholic schooling among secular/state ones – which in my humble and subjective opinion were always inferior (at least for me) to the Catholic schooling I received, and because I chose to ‘promise God’ that I’d attend Church regularly if I got my licence (to drive) as I’d failed my first test driving through a 2 lane roundabout where I was supposed to turn left from left hand lane (it was well signed, I was just careless). I then went to Uni, doing history, science and education, was a part of a youth group in my Church and had lots of fun bonding type experiences with friends that were Catholic then (though many are ‘lapsed’ or atheist explicitly now). In my Uni life and since, I made many conscious choices to adhere to Catholic ideas, I have worked for a Catholic ‘mission’ (not as glamourous as it might sound, I was basically a taxi driver and managed a small shop in an internet cafe for seafarers entering Fremantle port for 3 years whilst I went to Uni also in Freo and the boss was an old family friend who is a permanent married Deacon who knew me from my parish/youth group times). Now I try to live in a more and more consistent Catholic manner, including such things as eschewing any/all pornography consumption/view/use, repenting pre-marital sexual activity, I can honestly state I’ve only had sexual intercourse with my wife which I see as a great blessing in an era of rampant promiscuity and casual hook-ups among my peers, who are often far less fulfilled (from my observations, which I acknowledge may have bias) if they did engage in this, than I am with my loving family unit, (via the Catholic sacrament of penance/reconciliation (with God) for sin done), avoiding procreation by entirely natural methods rather than any contraceptive use and seeking to be consistently more moral (by not downloading or ‘pirating’ movies or tv using torrents – though I certainly have the technical wherewithal, and have done so in the past without any consequences, but instead ‘streaming’ paid for content exclusively) and giving to charitable causes. None of this could not have been done without belief in God, but I state that I did believe in God whilst doing all of it, and you have I hope good reason to trust that I’m being honest and telling you the unvarnished truth. As regards whether I’ve examined others’ claims about there god/s – I can honestly state I’ve literally read some quarnic passages and Islamic hadiths (though mostly problematic ones provided by Christian apologists on YT, I also have an awareness of the links between their Isa and the Judeo-Christian Jesus) and also have a basic knowledge of Ancient Greco-Roman beliefs and their various pantheons and mythology which I like many young people of my era find fascinating (Zeus, Heracles, the Oddessy etc…), Buddhism, Shintoism, Hinduism and Confucianism as well as Judaism (Talmudic/rabbinic) and a very limited familiarity with Zoroastrianism, Celtic druidism and Native American animism as well as Indigenous Australian spirituality. I think that monotheistic claims of a creator are (for me) more convincing than the idea of an eternal pantheon (which I would characterise as ‘heathen/pagan’ and especially the ‘Hindu’ style), though I am aware that some Hindus claim to have an ultimate monotheistic figure above or behind the ‘manifestations’ personified as Shiva, Vishnu and the like, due to its greater ‘simplicity’ which I prefer – this is a belief after all so not subject to the same conditions of evidence required of scientific endeavour in my ‘schema’ or worldview, though I acknowledge of course that you have a distinctive and contrasting view that all god/s are equally unconvincing from a scientific perspective/materialistic demand for ‘evidence’ to the sensory experience/objective level of other empirical data. We basically come to the end point there that I just am not convinced by any other god/s reality, and especially by the claim there is no compelling evidence for any other god/s than the Christian trinity of the Father, Son and Spirit, as I genuinely believe the Christian mythology and biblical ‘narrative’ with some (as I see it necessary) explaining via specific exegesis in a hermeneutic tradition of the Roman Catholic Church, which looks to unbelievers such as yourself, apparently according to what you’ve said in my perception, I completely acknowledge like ‘cherry picking’/ignoring of what I find distasteful, I can only say it’s not just that, due to my adherence (by choice) to the dogma of Catholicism as authoritative in this matter, I don’t expect others to convert on the strength of my witness alone, I’m not alone, but the witness of martyrs and saints and good people of faith down the ages seems insignificant to you and people like Vel and Matt thus far. The final q: Is there anything you can’t believe is true just on faith, I would answer no to this aphorism: faith can be defined as ‘belief that something is true’, anything that is true, therefore, I claim is possible to determine via faith, however, that’s non-exclusive with inductive or deductive reasoning, observation and collation of data to determine patterns or even pure guesswork. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/faith # 2 a and b (2) unsurprisingly not 2 b (1) and # 3 seem best to me, I am not an advocate of ‘blind faith’ but rather genuinely believe one can derive faith from reason and trust in biblical and Catholic traditions combined and synthesised by an independent and free human consciousness in the present time/space context (such as how I self-identify my own ‘spiritual journey’ to faith). I would characterise you too as holding faith in the tenets of secular humanism of getting better at being better – which Matt mentions in the video I linked above, and obviously as not a believer in either the Catholic/Christian version of god, nor any human god narrative/idea, but open to the notion of a creator god if proven satisfactorily to you, with the caveat that it has not been done yet and you’ve tried to actively pursue this line of reasoning/interest over many years, is that correct and a fair assessment?
Thanks for your replies. Most of your answer to my question of why you believed your god was real was telling how you grew up in a Catholic household & culture (which isn’t really answering the question) but which is my point entirely for why you believe as you do & also my point that if you were born in a different culture that believed in a different god then you most certainly would believe in that different god as well with all the same ferocity as you do now & at the same time believing you are correct & the others are wrong. Surely you must be able to see that logic?
To make it clearer, when I am asking why you believe in your god, I’m really asking what evidence or experiences you had that made you believe rather than just someone telling you. I know why you believe (because you were brought up to believe) but this is a different why question. Sorry if I didn’t make that clear.
The fact that you say “I just am not convinced by any other god/s reality, and especially by the claim there is no compelling evidence for any other god/s than the Christian trinity” just means you are biased towards your god & religion for the same reason I said above. Your belief is too firmly engraved for you to be able to see that there is also no compelling evidence for your god either although you firmly believe there is – just like you would firmly believe there would be if you believed in a different god.
I think we cannot go any further on that subject unless you’re willing to admit some truths about beliefs having to do with geography & being brought up in a particular culture to believe in particular gods & religion. That is why you believe what you do. I also don’t think you have used any good processes to determine if other gods are true & I wouldn’t really expect you to have either because if you believe you are right then there’s no need to right? Reading some passages isn’t really a good way to determine if they are true or not. What you are doing is disregarding them because they are not the religions you were brought up to believe. But if you did actually spend time to explore those other religions you would indeed come up empty handed but the point is that the reasons you would discount them can be applied to your own. I will never be able to convince you of that though.
It seems you are also cherry picking the meaning of faith too so I can’t win there. The meaning I am giving faith is 2. b(1) (firm belief in something for which there is no proof) Faith has nothing to do with truth. It’s more about a conviction.. how firm you believe something whether it’s true or not. Because if you had evidence or proof it would be true & you would have facts.You wouldn’t need to BELIEVE or have FAITH. So for you to answer no to that is quite alarming. I don’t think that’s a good way to live your life. I couldn’t do it. Just to make it clear: You will believe anything just on faith no matter how ridiculous or wrong.
& no I don’t have faith in the tenets of secular humanism. There is nothing faith based there. It’s about truth & knowledge. We’re not claiming things that can’t be proven. It’s nothing like having faith that a god exists.
Good luck with your call in to the show whenever you decide to do it it. & yes they do take International callers. I’ve heard someone from Australia call in before. In fact I think they will be more likely to select you because you are not from the USA with the typical looney claims. Just try to keep your answers brief as you do tend to ramble a bit 🙂 I know Matt will ask you to get to the point otherwise he’ll probably hang up on you.
Hi again Peter,
I realise you might not get this till after the weekend, I have been busy relief teaching all day and filming my latest video too since getting home but I saw your reply this morning and wanted to respond once again 🙂 I want to assure you I entirely see the basis of your claim that I would be fundamentally different if I were born elsewhere in the world or to distinctly different types of believer. It is a useful intellectual exercise in humility to acknowledge that I wouldn’t be ‘me’ as I perceive it if anything differed at all, not least of which the exact time and specific sperm which ‘made it’ to the egg that fertilised to become me. Let alone if the genetics and environment were entirely different people’s. I really do accept the logic of your statement that people generally are influenced by their genetics and environment quite comfortably. This includes religious traditions and beliefs to an extent. Nonetheless I do make the assertion once more that Roman Catholicism is broadly accessible to all people and places in the modern world should they choose to seek it out. It’s not everywhere, but it’s basically the dominant option in the vast majority of geographic locations at the present stage of human development. I truly believe that other religions are less effective than Catholic Christianity, they have quite arguably from secular evidence alone, failed to be as convincing to as large a group of people as anything except Islam and particularly Sunni Islam. I know you’ve said before and I agree that the argument from popular assent is weak but it isn’t entirely able to be discounted. Why for example if secular humanism is the truth, would Catholics who also claim to hold truth deny it? The evidence available to me personally that God is real is a few specific things I recall: prayers for safety and to see my father/mother again whilst travelling across the Pacific on access visits (my parents having divorced when I was 4 and my father returning to our homeland of the USA alone when I was 9). Specific Church services where people were literally falling over – perhaps overcome by the Holy Spirit, or maybe simply via group psychology, or a desire to fit in, I never felt like falling over so I didn’t this wasn’t criticised or belittled by anyone and I didn’t feel left out for being ‘true to myself’ – I was a child maybe 6 or 7 at that stage and with my Father whom I’ve said before was never a very dedicated Catholic, though at one point thought about conversion from his mainline protestant upbringing, but ended up remaining and doubling down becoming quite a (to this day) devout US style evangelical Christian of a strongly protestant persuasion, though not against my Catholicism. Other things like the admittedly possible to be explained by secular means serendipity that I found employment, educational opportunity and a share house to rent at all within a few days at once via Catholic Church connections in 2009 are part of my belief that God has had a hand in my success in getting to this stage of life with financial support, secure in my faith, with a loving wife and daughter. I really can’t separate my belief in God from my own life experiences. However, I’ve also read philosophical treatises and never been swayed or persuaded lastingly by anything I’ve ever encountered including your many well elucidated positions, it’s not so much to do with the intellectual rigour of your arguments as the what seems to me dogmatic assertion in the supremacy of materialistic evidence as the only acceptable kind. I just don’t think like you do, yet we’re both humans and I recognise that we have a shared humanity and basis in thought as thinking beings. I think we can agree that the webster dictionary definition you referred to above is a valid definition from the perspective of materialism, if ‘no’ in that specific context is directly equivalent to ‘no’ material evidence empirically determined through scientific methodology. I do accept and even advocate that reality in my first video and I genuinely have no problem with you preferring that definition, nonetheless I ask you to recognise that I didn’t write the dictionary, we use shared language and concepts because we aren’t independent arbiters or reality and are limited beings needing support from other minds to arrive at understandings. I hope you accept that though it’s a preference one way or another, faith isn’t ‘just’ what you want it to be, any more than it’s ‘just’ what I do either. Time is a factor here, you can have faith that something is true till you learn that it’s true then it stops being known by faith and starts being knowledge. The method of learning differs in different contexts. Why is it that you so strongly discount reading or oral transmission of lived experience? You said above “Reading some passages isn’t really a good way to determine if they are true or not.” and also “what evidence or experiences [have] you had that made you believe rather than just someone telling you”. I know that was in the context of faith, but honestly, do you ever just read passages of news or hear an anecdote from a colleague and accept it as prima facie ‘truth’? I know I do at times, it’s part of being human that we aren’t everywhere, knowing everything, at all times. As I’ve stated before frequently both to you and other atheists like Vel, we are limited. I don’t believe Matt arrogantly claims to ‘know the truth’ or have ‘secret knowledge’ don’t worry, but what he does actually assert as a ‘truth’ I don’t find myself disagreeing with with – at least in that specific video with Jordan Petersen I viewed recently. It’s just that his accepted worldview is much (to me) smaller than mine, because he limits himself so much more strictly in what he regards as acceptable evidence. My final response would be to affirm once more that logically by the definitions available, anything that can be known can be known by faith – it’s basic Catholic theology which I’ve recently re-read in prep for my latest video: faith is the highest thing, knowledge is a lesser but still good thing. Faith in context here is really meaning trust in God and acceptance of a lack of personal understanding/knowledge. Anything one knows, either by faith or via evidence is known. What I said above and state again is that anything CAN be known by faith, not that I personally would accept anything (including as you characterise: ridiculous or wrong) things. It’s by faith AND reason that I live my life, not pure faith NOR pure reason. Catholics often take a ‘both/and’ stance which is confounding and irritating to those who are outside the Church, I don’t see life as black or white in many areas and am consistently interested in finding ‘balance’ between extremes. I hope that helps give further insight. Again to reiterate, while I may never have had a personal direct vision or experience of the divine. I love Jesus personally as my Lord and Saviour and am a devoted and devout Catholic man, it’s my fundamental nature and how I choose to be, I’m free and could tomorrow be a total hypocrite and renounce it all – it’d be easy and yet I won’t do it God willing, believing it to be the deepest and most permanent sin and moral evil possible (for me). Nothing cannot be forgiven except sins against the Holy Spirit according to scripture, that’s how I personally interpret that passage.
I know I do waffle and will try hard to reign it in and get a useful call out, thanks for the wish of good luck 🙂 I hope you have a good weekend!
If you’ve persisted this far good on you!