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I’m Irish, of English parents. I was brought up as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, but am now an atheist. I remain fascinated by religion, both those similar to the one I left, and those very different, though I am more interested by the cultural context and the way people approach their beliefs than I am in the actual theology. (From this angle, Liberal Christianity and Liberal Islam are quite similar, and Conservative Christianity and Conservative Islam are quite similar.) Because I am interested in the social context and the interaction of religion and society, I often see religion at its worst, when it is trying to impose its rules on others, being intolerant and sometimes frankly bigoted. As an antidote, to remind myself that religious people are not necessarily evil, I hang around slacktivist (whose writings often attempt to answer the question, Why does the religious right tell lies all the time?) and The Slacktiverse (where people of many religious backgrounds have very civilised arguments, often about literature).

I might describe my own views as empirical materialist (see Tim Minchin: “Storm”), and my philosophy is probably secular humanist (see Tim Minchin: “White Wine in the Sun”).


Apr
23
comment How do Creationist Christians respond to the evidence for Evolution?
Well, the "documentary" Expelled is known to be fraudulant, quoting many of its interviewees out-of-context. This is, in fact, an excellent example of how Creationists react to Evolution: they lie about it.
Apr
20
comment Are High School Pride Pep Rallies anti-Christian?
@ThomasShields. Agreed. Also, "having her repent afterwards" sounds like an uncomfortable degree of attempted mind control. Slightly creepy.
Apr
19
comment How do Christians exercise self-control in the abstinence of food during fasting?
And, having made that comment, I then went on to do precisely that, not eating from one lunch to the next. This was not intentional.
Apr
19
awarded  Pundit
Apr
16
comment How to handle a wife according to the bible?
"It may be good to ask her on what basis she believes Hinduism is true and why she believes Christianity is false." Why assume she believes that? Her approach to religion may very well not be belief-centered. Different people approach religion in remarkably different ways.
Apr
16
comment How do Christians exercise self-control in the abstinence of food during fasting?
Be very careful with health concerns. I could do that fast easily (I have been known to do so, simply because I was distracted and didn't get around to eating). For others, it could be quite damaging. Everyone's different. Don't try to be a hero about it: that helps no one.
Apr
16
comment Does following Christian spiritual law extremely, cause one to sin more?
@Jason. Yep. Priests raping children was not, actually, particularly common or a special scandal. It happens in all sectors of society, and was not markedly more common in the church. (Other forms of abuse, in church-run schools and disiplinary institures, up to outright slavery in Ireland's Magdaline laundries was a different matter.) The scandal was not in the rapes. The scandal was in the cover-up. And that's a rot which runs all the way to the top.
Apr
15
comment What is the basis for Theonomy?
Doctrinal scope? Witnesses avoid politics. And as an ex-Christian atheist, I find 1 Corinthians 5:12 to be one of my favourite scriptures.
Apr
15
comment How should a Christian put a decision in God's hands if there is no logical answer?
Well, there's Biblical precedent for drawing lots. How about a coin toss?
Apr
8
comment Do Jehovah's Witnesses celebrate communion?
@Caleb. "If they have some equivalent" is actually a good phrasing here. The Memorial the Witnesses do is certainly similar in form to communion, and derives from the same scriptural passage, but their understanding of its meaning is very different. So is it equivalent, or isn't it? Hard to say, really.
Apr
7
comment Is it possible to be Christian but not interpret the religion as fact?
@WhatAboutJohn3_17 I like that alot.
Apr
5
answered Is it possible to be Christian but not interpret the religion as fact?
Apr
5
comment Does transcendental meditation conflict with any Christian beliefs?
It's bound to contradict some Christian belief somewhere.
Apr
4
comment Did Jephthah sacrifice his daughter?
@Flimzy. If my memory is right, Hebrew inflects more for aspect than for tense, so translation can be tricky.
Apr
3
comment What is the relationship between the Catholic churches of various countries?
Now what is it I keep saying about theology being far less important than culture in the discussion of religion?
Apr
2
comment Are there Biblical reasons why a Christian should not believe that Global Warming is happening
+1 for your last paragraph.
Mar
29
comment What is the view of Jehovah's Witnesses on John 18:36 “My kingdom is not from this world”?
@vsz. Thanks. I don't agree with it either: I'm an ex-Witness atheist. But it does, taken on its own terms, make sense.
Mar
28
comment What are the reasons for calling oneself a “follower of Jesus” rather than a Christian?
@Narnian. I suspect we're using different definitions and talking past each other. To my mind, you appear to be denying history. You'd probably see things differently. Never mind.
Mar
28
answered What is the view of Jehovah's Witnesses on John 18:36 “My kingdom is not from this world”?
Mar
28
comment What are the reasons for calling oneself a “follower of Jesus” rather than a Christian?
@Narnian. Christianity is not a coherent set of beliefs. It's a cultural construct. And that construct has been, for much of its life, deeply anti-Semitic. Further, any association between Hitler and Darwin is somewhat tenuous, and certainly far more nuanced than you suggest. That the German anti-Semitism derived from Luther (and the general Christian zeitgeist) is a proposition somewhat more supported by the evidence.