Gary: Why don’t you Turn the Other Cheek?

Although I have never met him, I consider “sgl” my friend and colleague.   Sgl was instrumental in my deconversion from Christianity.  While in a discussion on Bruce Gerencser’s blog regarding atheism vs. Christianity, sgl pointed me to the deconversion story of DagoodS; the fascinating story of the slow and painful abandonment of faith by a devout conservative Christian when he discovers by online conversations and research that his inerrant belief system is built entirely on false premises.  Reading this testimonial, and discussing its contents further with DagoodS, finally opened my eyes to the many, many false assumptions that hold together the fragile House of Cards we call orthodox/fundamentalist Christianity.  I always deeply appreciate and respect sgl’s comments and advice.  But even the best of friends will disagree sometimes.


Advice from fellow skeptic/non-believer, SGL:

somewhere on his (DagoodS’) site, he talks about leading a jury is kinda like making a bread-crumb path, and leaving the last little logical step up to the jury so they think they discovered the answer themselves. might be a technique you consider incorporating into your own bag of tricks.

while certainly that other blog on patheos, crenach, wasn’t forthcoming and fair, it is their playground, and there’s lots of other sandboxes on the net for you to play in. i’d suggest that your behavior since the banning might be playing into their preconceived notions of what atheists, and give them even more excuses to ignore or dismiss what you say.

keep in mind that your real audience is probably not the people that you’re directly arguing with, it’s the lurkers, the innumerable people who have doubts that they’re afraid to ask, and with a strategic bread-crumb trail of questions, could be made to realize (as you did) that there are far more questions than the ones they’re aware of having.

the lurkers’ evaluation of not just your arguments, but your entire demeanor, is what is most likely to sway their opinion. (and quite likely, you’ll probably never hear directly from any of them. most deconverted people talk about reading various sources and nodding along in agreement, but can’t recall most of the specific people that they read. ie, you’re not likely to get much personal feedback of the true effects of your arguments.)

so, as you noted yourself, think of dagoods “very slow, patient, lawyerly style”, and the impact it had on your deconversion. how would still-lutheran gary of a year ago react to recent gary’s arguments? is there a way to become more dagoods-like? (keeping in mind that a certain amount is personal style too, which can’t be mimicked.)

of course, some of this is a matter of time as well. many deconverted people talk about how their interactions with theists changes over the first several years (almost like the stages of grief model.) it’s been too long (~30 years) since i deconverted, so i can’t recall much about it, but if you haven’t already, you could ask some other deconverts what sort of changes they saw in themselves in the first couple years.

in fact, even dagoods wasn’t dagoods as he is now, he changed how and what he argued over time as well, from being apparently more confrontational early on, until now he rarely argues much on-line.

not trying to tell you what to do or how to do it, but just some outside perspective, for whatever that’s worth, to perhaps improve the success rate of your efforts.

best wishes…

My response:

Thank you for the comments and advice, sgl.

How many fundamentalist Christians have you seen deconvert due to rational conversations regarding their superstition-based belief system? I will bet that you can count them on one hand.

What is my goal on this blog? Answer: to shine the light of Reason, Truth, and Science into the dark corners of religious intolerance and bigotry; exposing it for the nonsense that it is; diminishing and hopefully ending its domination of our society’s political, legal, and cultural life.

I choose to confront it…aggressively. I choose to expose it. I choose to shame it.

I may not convert a single fundamentalist, but I may prevent their children from following in their footsteps, and I may prevent emotionally vulnerable people from falling for their tall tale that offers a false sense of security as a reward for obedience and loyalty to the tribe.

I am here to shake the status quo to its core. I am not here to drop bread crumbs.


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