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Random Thoughts on Day Two of the SSA Conference.

August 9, 2009

Everyone has been extremly nice. Hey, guess what, Christians, atheists are nice people.

Good Presentation by Lyz on how to get people to come to an atheist group. I’m actually going to steal some of these.

Fantastic Presentation by John Mueller and kathleen Goodman about the need for spiritual/worldview discussions on campus. They even gave me a free copy of their book. Had a great conversation at lunch with the two of them, and six others about the need for good conversation. I’m sure they didnt agree with my view about some things, but thanks for listening anyway.

Ashley had a great presenation on our work together and other stuff she has done with the Students for Free Thought. You are my favorite atheist, girl.

My Talk:
Got a laugh about my opening joke on thinking about wearing a toga since I was stepping into the lions den.

Got loud applause when I said that atheists and Christians can agree that there is an absolute truth.

I plugged the CCO quite a few times. CCO coworkers, you might get an email from atheists. Be ready.

Gave away six Tim Keller books at the end. Got a very nice applause and lots of students came up at the end. I actually had quite a few conversations the whole day from this talk.

Some atheists asked me how they could get Christians to respond to their emails. I told them to send me the info and I would write on their behalf.

Shawn Faircloth of the SCA used a lot of emotionally charged logical fallcies and leaps in his talk. Plus, he needs to do a little research on faith healing and its origins. I did agree with him about medical doctors and the need for the pro-life people to be more consistent.

Loved his point about how church have become business centers, not what they should be. I will have more on this later.

Atheist billboard guy after lunch. I wonder if Christians they are giving atheists exactly what they want by reacting to those stupid things? Christians, SHUT UP about the billboards. You are only feeding the beast.

Debaptism and debaptism of the dead is stupid.

Edwin Kagan cracked me up. He is a total a-hole, but I would love to have a beer with this guy. Ed, if you ever read this, email me. I have a guy in Cincy you have to meet.

Camp Quest is a cool idea as long as they stick with teaching the kids critical thinking. I loved the making flying saucer video idea. Hilarious.

Dan Barker. Interesting story.

PZ says be bold in your position. I can go with that.

Atheists are the only ones investigating the material world? Sorry PZ, you are wrong. My six year old disproves that every day.

But, he is right. Christians need to tell the truth. Always.

“Stay true to science: it’s the core of godless values.”

Interesting PZ. I’ll comment more on this later.

Couldn’t get out of the room. Everyone wanted to talk to me. It was cool.

More coherent thoughts later.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. August 10, 2009 4:52 am

    I would disagree with PZ’s assertion that science is the ‘core’ of godless values. My values mainly focus on my fellow human beings. Science, for me, is an intellectually fascinating endeavor, but it’s necessarily detached and clinical. It’d be a stretch to say you can make it the focus of a value system. I’m not sure he worded it quite the way he wanted to… then again, I can’t speak for him, and I also wasn’t there.

    Thanks for your posts. It’s nice to meet Christian folks who are willing to engage with us heathens in a friendly fashion πŸ™‚

  2. healthyaddict permalink
    August 10, 2009 10:51 am

    YaY! I’m the favorite atheist! πŸ˜›

    One of our students is going to be writing a review for us on the book you gave him – I’ll let you know when that happens. πŸ™‚

    Glad you had good time. I’m hoping we can get you out to speak again in the future. πŸ™‚

  3. thomas2026 permalink*
    August 10, 2009 1:14 pm

    Was there any doubt about you being my favorite atheist?

  4. thomas2026 permalink*
    August 10, 2009 1:17 pm

    Thanks for the great comments. I’m going to post more on the PZ comment later and make some clarifications. He said this comment in the context of the book he is thinking about writing how we can get everything from science. So, I’m pretty sure I didn’t misunderstand him. At least, I hope I didn’t. πŸ™‚

    Thanks for stopping by!


  5. August 10, 2009 9:39 pm

    As a former member of a non-denominational church that pretty much squelched free thought when it ran towards Science and Religion, I appreciate your candor and openness. I think I will have to subscribe to your RSS feed. πŸ˜‰


  6. thomas2026 permalink*
    August 10, 2009 9:59 pm

    Thanks man, I really appreciate it. And welcome!


  7. AdamK permalink
    August 10, 2009 10:33 pm

    You sure like to lay out a lot of loaded charges, then run.

    “A lot of emotionally charged fallcies”? Cite one, or don’t make the claim. (And note that you misspelled “falsies.” And if falsies aren’t some kinda charged, you’re doing it wrong.)

    And nyah nyah nyah. Baptism’s stupid, too, so there!

    {executes loud wet raspberry}

    But seriously, I like your blog, so far. I just think you shouldn’t make such rash charges without coming back to them and backing them up with some substance. It sounds like you’re writing people off, which I don’t think you intend to do.

    This bloggingheads diavlog ( might be worth some attention when you’re done with the SSA topic.

    (There’s a wide variety of meaty atheistic “big questions” material out there, to counter the constant Christian charge that we’re somehow spiritually bereft.)

  8. August 10, 2009 10:49 pm

    I’m a Camp Quest parent. If you have any questions about what was taught at camp, I’d be happy to provide clarification. My family is still firmly theist and I understand how the idea of sending kids to “Atheist camp” can sound bizarre or equally segregationist. But it was a very positive experience for my daughter and the other children and I’d be happy to share about it if you care to know why.

  9. August 10, 2009 10:50 pm

    I should’ve clarified: “My family is firmly theist.” I didn’t mean that my immediate family (as in my children and I) were firmly theist, but that my extended family is not atheist.

  10. tmaxPA permalink
    August 11, 2009 1:43 am

    “Christians, SHUT UP about the billboards. You are only feeding the beast.”

    That line, I love. I wonder if you think this beast can or will ever be sated, though. If Christians cannot voice loudly from positions of power how offensive these billboards are, won’t they eventually just lose their faith and become secularists, even if they claim to still believe in The omniscient deity?

  11. thomas2026 permalink*
    August 11, 2009 2:39 am

    Hey Tmax,
    Interesting question. Christianity has always grown when it is the most weak. So, I would say no.

    Thanks for stopping in! Stick around.


  12. thomas2026 permalink*
    August 11, 2009 2:56 am

    Thanks for stopping by Pmom. I actually talked to Amanda who runs Camp Quest. I really appreciated the talk with her and got a good handle on the camp. GLad you all like it!


  13. thomas2026 permalink*
    August 11, 2009 3:01 am

    Yes, all my charges are baked from smoking pot, how did you guess?

    In seriousness, I plan to talk about some of Shawn’s comments in later posts. All my Random thoughts were just thoughts I had written down the blog twitter style. I hope to get back to them in the coming weeks.

    Me no good at gramer ner fancy spellin’.

    I would never say that atheists are spiritually bereft. I think it’s a weak and silly charge against atheists.

    Thanks for stopping in, Adam.

  14. Nick permalink
    August 11, 2009 5:16 am

    Brother Jonathan,

    Very reasonable site compared to most xian sites I’ve seen on the interwebs. Please keep up the good work.

    Certainly you aren’t suggesting though, that your 6 year old has enough knowledge to make a reasoned judgment as to whether or not any gods exist are you? Under the very best conditions that will not happen for at least another 5 to 6 years (read Piaget and successors).

    On another point, I firmly believe that religion will go away. I suspect xianity will disappear before islamic belief because xianity is practiced in countries that are less intrusive in their peoples’ lives. Growing knowledge about earth and the universe almost demand it. Only the very stupid will be able to be “true believers” withing a hundred years, or so (only my estimate based on the growth of scientific knowledge).

    In the meantime, any help we can get from people like you who help destroy the inane ramblings of people like Ken Ham and Tom Estes are appreciated. Ultimately we are on the same side.

  15. thomas2026 permalink*
    August 11, 2009 12:26 pm

    Welcome and thanks!

    In regards to my six year old, not at all. I was merely making the point that his world didn’t come to an end when he found that people didn’t believe in God as seems to have happened in this Virginia family.

    As for whether Christianity will go away, people have been saying that since Tacitus. Hasn’t happend yet. I recommend the Canticle of Lebowitz to you, if you like sci-fi. Excellant and instructive read.

    I oppose Ham and Estes because they are dragging the name of Christ in the mud. I’m quite sure you have different reasons. But, if we can be co-belligernts on this issue, fantastic.


  16. Roger permalink
    August 12, 2009 11:33 pm

    Sorry for the delay in this comment – just catching up with all teh discussions.

    tmax – apologies if I’m misunderstanding your point, but the whole raison d’etre for Atheist billboards (at least over here in the UK) is a as a direct counter to religious advertising. I realise that you may well find atheist adverts offensive (and, as I don’t know the exact wording of the billboards you’ve seen, I can’t comment on how justified your offense would be), but you have to understand that we atheists are likely to find Christian (and other faith) advertising just as offensive.

    There are two ways forward here – either Atheist and religious advertising is allowed to go unfettered (so long as it’s not genuinely offensive), or ALL “theological” advertising is banned. Any other solution is discriminatory, and will only serve to make things much worse.



  17. hmm permalink
    August 13, 2009 8:28 am

    “Science, for me, is an intellectually fascinating endeavor, but it’s necessarily detached and clinical.”

    Watch a few Carl Sagan videos, and then tell me science is “necessarily detached and clinical”. Scientists have great passion for what they are doing.

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