I hope he doesn't mind my quoting it.
To most folks, this is going to be a bit of an awkward post. Why is an agnostic calling out skeptics? Why is Anon going around countering atheists and fellow agnostics just as much, if not more, than he is the Christian side? Is he being postmodern with defending a religion at times that he doesn't believe in? Is he really just a Christian hiding and lying about his religious status so he can try to "convert" others by eventually apostatizing from apostasy? Is he just a troll that likes to stir up the pot no matter who is on the menu for his soup-of-the-day?
The answer is none of these: after being like you for so long, I decided to go after the truth at all costs. Yes, even if that means I return to Christianity (gasp!) or back to atheism or even becoming a Deist or Muslim or whatever - wherever I find truth is where I will call home.
Last week, I heard Dan Barker debate James White over the Jesus Myth hypothesis. An issue arose within that debate, and James White told Dan after the debate: "you're still a fundamentalist in your thinking." I think this applies to far too many atheists - even more so than those "stupid" Christians.
Many of you were raised in the Church, just as I was. Many of you did not grow up with apologetics; you grew up with excuses like, "faith picks up where reason leaves off!", terrible popular arguments advanced by the likes of mass market "apologist" leaflet-passers like Jack Chick, and preachers that were more interested in what was in the town's library than in theology (my old preacher, I just discovered, had been ripping off Calvin's works almost word-for-word in his "deep" sermons). When you grew up, this was hammered in you. You were instructed not to question, and punished when you did. It's this mode of thinking that stuck with you: my view is right, and yours is wrong. This is fundamentalist thinking. And most of you are still fundamentalists, because just like your folks and your "friends" at the local gossip-center you called church, you're more interested in being right than searching for truth.
Yes, some Christians are like that. But they aren't the ones I've seen recently here on the Web and emerging out of the shadows that the ignorance of "pop" preachers cast upon them. William Lane Craig, Alvin Plantinga, Norm Geisler, Paul Copan, my personal friend Mary Jo Sharp, Ben Witherington III, the unnecessarily maligned Lee Strobel, and so on - do you know, really, what they are saying? Have you read Bill Craig's full Kalam presentation in writing complete with defenses of his most erudite critics, or have you just read Barker's refutation of it and called it a victory for atheism? Were you won over by Hitchens' attacks on the ethics in the Bible, without bothering to understand the culture and the fact that most of those attacks are straw men in the face of what their understandings of the text would have been? Have you bothered to come up with any kind of deep thought beyond an appeal to metaphysical naturalism for Gary Habermas' Resurrection defense?
Have you guys even read the New Testament, for that matter, in a mindset of neutral study rather than picking through it to find verses to laugh at?
Yes, I've read through all of this and much, much more, and yes, I'm still an agnostic (I used to be an ardent atheist just like you, however). Yes, that means I remain unconvinced by the arguments, even though I'm honest enough to admit that even with the time I've spent on them I haven't analyzed all of them with the thoroughness the question of God deserves.
Do you understand what a necessary being is, and what the three omni-properties mean? Or do you say that God is just like a teapot and cry out that "goddidit" is not an explanation, ignorant of the fact that saying those things begs the question? (Do you even know what begging the question means?)
Do you know the Gospels are substantiated historical documents, or do you think that the Bible is just some big ol' bound up old book some conspirators put together like Zeitgeist told you? The source, Acharya S, is thoroughly discredited even by knowledgeable skeptics, by the way.
Are you familiar at all with any kind of theology in Christianity, or do you think it's no deeper than "when you believed in Santa as a kid"?
Do you think that science is omniscient, that we learn everything by empirical experimentation and the scientific method, and then call people "stupid" who point out that the question of the uniformity of nature completely defeats your position and puts science in the rightful place Stephen Jay Gould said it was?
Trust me - I know there are Christians out there who probably deserve this kind of temperament. I've met them. And the more I learn about Christianity - guess what? The more I learn that they are not really believers. The Christians who really do think out their position are much more confident, much less violent, and much more friendly (definitely moreso even than you guys have been lately). Don't misdirect your fire. If you're going to mess around with their beliefs, at least listen to what they have to say with that open mind you always claim to have.
If you want to care about religion, do the homework. Read some theology; at the very least you can get a deeper understanding of the other side and of humanity in general, above and beyond the richer knowledge of the history and cultures behind the belief. Read the arguments for God's existence, read the refutations, and read the refutations of the refutations. Learn that faith, for the REAL apologist, does not go "where reason takes off" - it works in tandem with reason. Most of all, quit presupposing naturalism without arguments to do so, and start your scales with the open-minded balance for which to examine the arguments. That's what people who care about truth do - they follow where the arguments lead, even if it means giving up long-held truths (and BELIEVE ME, those who know me personally know that atheism used to be just a part of who I was).
I'm out here for truth, and I'm going to keep investigating truth where I see it and calling anyone out - skeptic or Christian - who thinks like a fundamentalist. I gave that up last year and I'm searching with a rational mind. I will go where the evidence leads, whether I end up a total naturalist or a Calvinist Christian.
Quit pretending you have the monopoly on reason - after over a year of deep analysis starting out as a fervent atheist, I've now realized that we're the ones losing this battle. And not necessarily because the other side has the truth (obviously, as an agnostic, I don't know who does just yet), but because you started this whole thing with the presumption that you do when the fact is that most of you have no clue what you're talking about.
I'm finding the truth. If you want on, get on. If you want out, get out. I know I've probably shocked a lot of my friends and family with this turnaround, and that I've likely ticked quite a few of you off, but I don't care anymore. The fundies always will act like that when someone actually tries to search for truth.
In response to this an atheist actually argued "I don't have to read theology I know ti's stupid so I don't need to know what it says." You know that's exactly waht fundiese said when I was a kid that made me become an atheist!