Archive for ‘religion’

June 10, 2014

Frank Schaeffer’s latest book: a review

by Neil Rickert

This will be a brief review of Schaeffer’s recent book:

  • Why I am an Atheist Who Believes in God, Frank Scheffer 2014.

Full disclosure — I “purchased” the Kindle edition of this book when the price was right (i.e. it was free).

I follow Schaeffer’s blog: “Why I Still Talk to Jesus — In Spite of Everything“.  I at least skim most of the posts, but only read a few in detail.  Schaeffer is a relentless self-marketer.  Some of his posts are of broad interest, and some are just selling himself or his latest book.

I had already purchased (for real money), his previous book “And God said Billy”, but I stopped reading that about halfway through.  So I had decided not to buy his latest book.  Even when Schaeffer announced that it would be free for two days, I continued with my decision to not “buy”.

Then I read Benjamin Corey’s post “When Two Formerly Fundies Chat: My Video Interview With Frank Schaeffer (and get his new book FREE)!”  It was a great interview.  I recommend that you watch it.  For me, it was Corey, rather than Schaeffer, who was the star of that interview.  In any case, that’s when I changed my mind and picked up the Kindle book while it was still free.

February 4, 2014

On vjtorley on ID, religion, metaphysics

by Neil Rickert

Vincent Torley, who posts under the handle “vjtorley” at Uncommon Descent, has a longish post on Intelligent Design and related topics:

I encourage you to read the full post by vjtorley.  Here, I want to give my reaction to only some of the issues that he raises.  I’ll note that his post grows out of an online discussion with theologian James McGrath, and is a followup to an earlier thread about that discussion.

Torley says, of McGrath:

As far as I can tell, Dr. McGrath doesn’t necessarily think God created the laws of Nature; nor does he believe in miracles. As might be expected, he doesn’t believe in the Divinity of Christ.

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January 20, 2014

Biology and religion

by Neil Rickert

Is there a biological basis for religion?

There has been some speculation about this, following a recent report:

In this post I will express my opinion.  I want to be clear that what I write here is opinion.

First, some comments on the Science Daily report.  It says:

“Religious belief is a unique human attribute observed across different cultures in the world, even in those cultures which evolved independently, such as Mayans in Central America and aboriginals in Australia,” said Deshpande, who is also a researcher at Auburn’s Magnetic Resonance Imaging Research Center.

January 5, 2014

Liberal Christianity

by Neil Rickert

Here’s a good description of liberal Christianity, from James McGrath:

Liberal Christianity, in a nutshell, is simply one form of Christianity that has existed for as long as Christianity has. It recognizes that the Bible is a collection of works by human beings and not written by God, and that there is a need to be open to other sources of information besides Christian or Biblical ones. Liberal Christianity seeks to do honestly and consistently what all Christians do, even if they do not admit it, namely decide what we should believe and do, considering not only Biblical texts or church hierarchies, but also other sources including our own reason. While some Christians claim to be based on nothing but “the Word of God” and to not pick and choose, that claim is never, ever true in reality. And so, while there is a long history of conservatives trying to put liberals on the defensive for “picking and choosing,” liberals should courageously point out that conservatives do so without admitting it, and often without a clear rationale. To be a liberal Christian is to seek honesty, consistency, openness, and breadth. And contrary to what conservative critics sometimes claim, it is not necessary to cease being a Christian in the process.

For the full post, see:


December 2, 2013

How a Christian sees atheism

by Neil Rickert

There’s probably a wide range of views about atheism among Christians.  This post is about the view that Frank Schaeffer has, as described in a video that he has posted on his blog.

Schaeffer is a former fundamentalist evangelical Christian, who has broken with that extreme view.  But he remains Christian.  I follow Shaeffer’s blog, because he has some good analysis of the role of evangelical Christianity in conservative politics.  His most recent post is:

where he describes an online course that he is offering.  The first video in the course is free, and is part of that post.  It is a little over 5 minutes in length, and worth watching to get a picture of what Schaeffer, and perhaps many other Christians think of atheism.

Almost entirely wrong

Schaeffer’s view does not even come close to resembling my understanding of atheism.  However, if his view is widespread, it does help us understand why Christians say some of the things they do about atheism.

Schaeffer begins by asking whether atheism is:

  • doubt about meaning in life;
  • a theological position cast in secular terms.

He seems to believe that both of those are true, while I think that neither is true.

It quickly becomes apparent that Schaeffer has a less critical take on agnosticism.  What he sees as agnosticism is closer to what I see as atheism.

Schaeffer goes on to mention music and the arts as things that atheists cannot explain.

It’s weird.  As far as I know, atheists make no special claims about music and art, and many of them have the same sort of enjoyment of music and art that Christians have.

I’m inclined to think that Schaeffer has confused atheism with the philosophy of reductive materialism, though even then I suspect that many reductive materialists would disagree with the picture that Schaeffer has painted.

Now go watch that short video, and see for yourself.

October 20, 2013

Politics and religion don’t mix

by Neil Rickert

This post is mainly to suggest a few links worth reading.

The shutdown

Frank Schaeffer has some ideas on what was behind the shutdown.  Whether or not he is correct, they are worth reading or listening to.

I’ll note that Schaeffer is also pushing his recent book.  I don’t have much to say about that.  I did buy the book (the inexpensive kindle edition), but I have not finished reading it.  I’m still half-way through the opening paragraph.  Evidently, reading that book is not one of my high priorities.

Here are the two Schaeffer posts that I recommend:

On abortion

Samantha, at her blog Defeating the Dragons, has a multi-part series on how her views on abortion evolved.  She has a summary post, “Ordeal of the Bitter Waters” which summarizes the six parts and provides links to them.  The summary post is an excellent place to start.

If you are familiar with the biblical reference alluded to in the title, you can probably guess where her posts are going.  Early on, she was persuaded by the “pro-life” arguments.  But then real life happened to her, and she began to understand that the issue was far more complex than the pro-life folk would have you believe.  She is now pro-choice.

As part of her journey, she discovered that the Christian Bible does not condemn abortion.  Quite the contrary, in some circumstances it commands abortion.

September 22, 2013

Perversion of religion

by Neil Rickert

This is good.

Even a religion based on a socialist hippie God preaching for everyone to basically live in communes and love, feed, and heal one another, gets perverted by the usual suspects to justify just about any grotesque act of greed, cruelty, and self indulgence imaginable.

That’s pretty much my view of Christianity — particularly the conservative kind of Christianity.

From Sunday school for atheists: James 5


May 5, 2013

Is science a religion?

by Neil Rickert

The answer, of course, is no.  However, others often claim that it is.  Take, for example, this quote, which I am copying from a recent post at the Don Hartness blog:

Another reason that scientists are so prone to throw the baby out with the bath water is that science itself, as I have suggested, is a religion.

Those words are not from Don Hartness himself.  He quotes them for a book, and is not completely clear on whether he agrees with them.

To be fair, the author apparently uses “religion” to refer to a world view.  That makes it hard to know what he means.  I don’t much like this talk of “world view.”  As best I can tell, the “world view” language is something that theists use to delude themselves that their rejection of a lot of evidence is okay because others do it too.

November 15, 2012

Intelligent raining; two different conceptions of God

by Neil Rickert

Over at Uncommon Descent, the ID  blog, there are often posts and comments about theistic evolution and theist evolutionists (TE for short).  Many, but not all of the ID proponents are usually quite critical of TE, as I was reminded by a recent post.  For reference, that post is:

While reading and commenting on that post, it occurred to me that TEs and ID proponents have very different conceptions of God.  And that is what I mainly want to discuss here.

Intelligent Raining

I’ll begin  with some quotes from Barry Arrington in that recent post:

November 14, 2012

Willful murder by the Catholic church

by Neil Rickert

I don’t often write condemning religion.  There are many decent people who are religious.  But this headline reports an incident that demands condemnation:

The medical condition of the woman was clear.  But religious demagogues, with their utterly stupid ideas about abortion, condemned the woman to death by refusing her the treatment that could have saved her life.