Maybe I need to get down to basics

I’m not really interested in being obvious. I enjoy finding unusual angles and approaches, and I don’t want to waste my time proving that the world’s round, or grass is green. There’s nothing wrong with that in its place, but it’s not my thing.

That’s served me well enough until now, and it’s still true that if I’m ever reduced to posts with no more content than “What about those creationists, eh?” this blog will have passed its sell-by date. But then I experienced a sudden influx after being featured on Freshly Pressed (waves to new followers), and I found myself attracting sermons from people who didn’t know me, haven’t been following my story and in some cases, didn’t even convince me that they’d read and understood the post in question.

Freshly Pressed

This is asking for a sermon? Srsly?

Actually, let’s just dwell on that for a second. They see a post like that – not picking a fight, not attempting to promote a particular point of view, just dealing with the difficult and emotional situation of trying to explain my changed opinion – and their first thought is to reply with a load of preaching. What’s that all about? Did I accidentally post a hidden message saying “Sermons wanted – Stop me and preach one”? Or maybe I exude some powerful pheromone. Because there’s no way that anyone, whatever their personal opinions, would consider that sort of behaviour pleasant or appropriate. Would they?

I have a tendency to be hard on myself for the things I used to believe and the way I used to behave, but I’m pretty sure that even in my crassest, most socially inept God-bothering moments, I’d never have considered doing anything like that. You might as well have an altar call at a funeral, or preach a sermon about how the deceased was currently burning in the fiery pits of hell. Sadly and astonishingly, I’ve heard of both of these actually happening, but the point is that there’s a time and a place for everything.

Moving on – I don’t want the comments on every post to become repetitive arguments about the evidence for any given belief system, and I’m not particularly interested in spending my time gratuitously telling people that their beliefs are false, but when they make claims that are very obviously flawed or untrue, I’m not happy to let it go, and just deleting the comments would feel uncomfortably like censorship.

If obviously false or flawed arguments are being made, there must be value in a careful and detailed explanation of why they’re flawed. And having set that out once, it can be referred to as often as required. The claims can be addressed in the time it takes to post a link.

So I’m thinking of writing a new series of posts debunking the sort of tired old apologetics that really ought to be taken out and shot, but I’ll settle for the short-lived pleasure of knocking them down until they pop back up again a few days later. I’ll try to keep it interesting, and will continue to write about more interesting things in between, but I hope they’ll build up into a useful archive for reference.

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About Recovering Agnostic

I'm Christian by upbringing, agnostic by belief, cynical by temperament, broadly scientific in approach, and looking for answers. My main interest at the moment is in turning my current disengaged shrug into at least a working hypothesis.

16 responses to “Maybe I need to get down to basics”

  1. danielwalldammit says :

    The trouble with debunkitizing (your own camp or someone else’s) is that nothing ever stays debunkerated. People move o when they find a better place to think, not when their own thinking has been shot full of holes.

  2. DysthymiaBree says :

    Did you find “sermons” from people following a similar path to yourself as irksome? I.e. comments from fellow agnostics/atheists who have left theism behind?
    If so, I was probably one of those.
    If an apology is needed, you have one 🙂
    My intention was to offer support, succour … to encourage you to continue along the path of your integrity.

    • Recovering Agnostic says :

      To be honest, I was so swamped with comments that I didn’t take names and registration numbers, but I don’t think your comments were any sort of a problem, especially as IIRC you were responding to some pretty pushy preaching at one point.

      There’s room for disagreement, even criticism of the very basis of a post – that’s what comments are for – but I found it highly frustrating to get comments about how Jesus fulfilled so many prophecies, for example, because it’s so very wrong, but demonstrating that is more suited to a blog post than a comment, hence my idea here.

      • DysthymiaBree says :

        I always like to check that I haven’t inadvertently offended a fellow traveller. (Some people, on the other hand, I go out of my way to offend – but that’s another story – and a new tool in my toolkit, now that I’m ‘allowed’ to say what I truly think and don’t have to be a good girl!)
        Keep up the great blogging. I love your writing style, as much as anything else!

  3. ninasusan says :

    I have to say I agree with the sermon writers..if you have just said you don’t or don’t think you believe something, why does someone use those exact “beliefs” to prove u wrong. Exactly the point.

    • ninasusan says :

      Let me restate that…hello sermon writers…are u listening…how can you possibly mistake what I just said by preaching something I don’t believe to change my mind

  4. mgm75 says :

    I have a post on Social Commentary in Science Fiction – How it changed after 9/11. All that is is a summary of the theme of television and books in the sci fi genre and how tone changed after that horrific event. I write nothing about the event, but point to a new criticism of religion and fundamentalism.

    You’d think such a post wouldn’t attract conspiracy theorists, wouldn’t you? Apparently, I’ve been duped by our government (they’ve ignored the fact that I’m British) in believing that Al Qaeda had anything to do with it because clearly Bush was responsible and if I disagree then I’m a Bush groupie. Sadly, I deleted all those comments as they were not relevant to the post but there were some absolute howlers.

    Any post will attract those who will not read it properly (or at all). Just keep doing what you’re doing!

    • Recovering Agnostic says :

      I think cranks of a certain type seek out anyone discussing their favourite subject, even tangentially. It doesn’t matter exactly what’s said, because it only serves as an opportunity to bang on about their pet theory. I’ve seen the same thing happen in many different fields.

      No plans to change anything substantially, just thinking about the value of having resources for reference.

  5. Sabio Lantz says :

    Best wishes on the new batch of posts and side stepping the pitfalls you wrote of.

  6. cassiacannella says :

    As an atheist that grew up in a very catholic country, I understand your anger. Many times it has happened that I’m at the bus stop when I feel a tap on my shoulder and I turn around and there they are with their little pamphlets and their benevolent smiles. They want to save my soul, they say, and they start preaching. I’m trapped. I can’t leave because I need to take the bus to get to work. It’s all I can do not to punch them. I just can’t understand how they can think it is okay to corral people like that. And the poorly written pamphlets, usually full of Einstein quotes taken out of context, simply offend me. Every once in a while, I explode and try to argue with them. I don’t recommend this. It’s just an exercise in futility. Most of the time I simply reject their pamphlets or if they’re really pushy, I grab the paper, tear it to pieces right in front of them and throw the pieces in the garbage.
    My brother, who is non preachy christian that’s fully aware and accepting of my atheism, tells me that having that much anger is not good for me. But it’s so hard not get angry when they came at you with uncalled sermons.
    I recommend yoga and a punching bag. At least that’s what always helps me those days.
    About coming out to your in-laws, I wish you the best of lucks. With my family, I did it like tearing off a band-aid. It will not be pleasant, and it will most probably be messy. But I know that in my experience at least, it was liberating. You know how after a day of walking around in uncomfortable shoes, there is that moment when you finally get home and you take them off where it hurts the most when you’re taking them off but then there is just bliss and then you notice the blisters? That’s how it was for me. My father lived in denial for many years silently hoping that my faith was just hiding behind what he considered my teenager rebellion, but as time passes we have come to accept that we just see the world differently.

  7. Feather Girl says :

    My comment may or may not have been considered a sermon. I really didn’t want it to be that, but I’m sorry if that’s how it came across!

    • Recovering Agnostic says :

      This is starting to get a bit – dare I say – religious. People asking me “Is it I?” I was just letting off a bit of steam and thought the offending comments would be obvious. Maybe that was a mistake.

      Following the religious theme, I’ll adapt some advice I was once given on the subject of the unforgivable sin. If you’re worried about whether you did it, you’re okay.

      • Feather Girl says :

        I’m really not into religion, as it’s generally thought of, though I am a Christian. Anyway just wanted to check because the last thing I wanted to do was to be pushy or cause any offence. Anyway glad that wasn’t the case 🙂

  8. keebostick says :

    I’ve just come across this blog and your opening comment “I’m not really interested in being obvious. I enjoy finding unusual angles and approaches” has prompted me to post this reply. Quite recently I made the transformation from life-long indifferent agnostic to full-blown atheist. It was not a Eureka moment. It was the natural outcome of my research into the origins of Christianity. This research led me to conclude that there is a more pragmatic non-supernatural way of looking at first century events that produces exactly the same outcome as the orthodox version of events but it does so without relying on any input from God or even having to acknowledge the existence of God. This more pragmatic viewpoint demonstrates that Christianity and the associated New Testament are the logical end-products produced when a simple hallucination on the road to Damascus is combined with a simple white lie told in Jerusalem 2000 years ago. As you “enjoy finding unusual angles and approaches” and say you are looking for answers, I thought you might be intrigued enough to check out my reasoning which can be found at [ I apologize if you have to cut & paste this into a browser. I’m relatively new to this blogging game and my “embedding links” skills are very limited]. If you do check it out I would value any comment/criticism evoked by my thoughts on the origins of Christianity.

    • Recovering Agnostic says :

      Thanks, I’ll take a look. What I mean by saying I’m not interested in being obvious is that there are lots of places you can go to get pious platitudes or atheist dogma. I hope I do something a bit different from that.

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