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So I was thinking….

August 16, 2009

That maybe I’m doing this all out of order in regards to the problem of pain. Ray pointed it out that he wants to hear why I’m different than “Pastor” Tom and the Hammites (That would be a killer band name by the way).

So, maybe I should do that this week instead of following the program, yes? Lay out a system of belief according the Thomas Society? What say you?

28 Comments leave one →
  1. Was Born Again permalink
    August 16, 2009 2:08 pm

    That would be great.

    ‘Pastor’ Tom is no good for THINKing people. Ironically he will shrink the wider ‘flock’.

    It is clear you are ‘different’ , (for a start he would not ask his readers for input on his blog posts rather the opposite). I am going to stop going there , but it is a bit like trying not to look at a car wreck as you pass it .

    But WHY you are different would be a good question to answer, from which will spring other questions and answers.

  2. AdamK permalink
    August 16, 2009 2:25 pm

    Sounds good. But please keep it personal. There are too many blogs already full of apologetics and sophistical fine-pointing. That gets boring quickly for those of us who aren’t theologians or philosophers.

    But hey, it’s your blog, and it’s going fine so far.

    (What I find myself constantly wondering is why would a person want to be a theist? Here we all are trying to be human beings, creatures with complex and subtle natures in this complex and subtle universe. What does adding god into that complexity do for you? Why not occam’s-razor it right out and get on with it?)

  3. mouse permalink
    August 16, 2009 3:21 pm

    It’s refeshing to have a theist to be open and honest in examining the non-theist viewpoint, and obviously we’re the same, just without a need/want to be enslaved by a deity and complicated rules that need to be ‘interpreted’.

    Most so-called ‘christians’ would rather hide behind a self-made screen of isolation, projecting imaginary slights and false accusations against atheists/Jewish/Islamic/any other sect – to further create ways to separate themselves. Instead, they refuse to be open to examine why. If they actually did, they will see we’re all the same. They will also find out about themselves – that seems to be what they truely fear.

    We’re all in this together. Let’s go exploring.

  4. August 16, 2009 3:51 pm

    “What does adding god into that complexity do for you?”

    For the YEC variant, at least, adding God takes out complexity. You push off all sorts of things onto this vague sort of God, and explanations just become hand-wavey “Goddidit”. No need to ask questions any more, since the answer to most of them is “God”. Simplifies the whole mess, and pushes thinking and in a lot of cases responsibility-taking onto the God that you’ve chosen to put your trust in.

  5. AdamK permalink
    August 16, 2009 4:14 pm

    Kelseigh, I’m really hoping that’s not true of present company.

  6. August 16, 2009 4:36 pm

    Well, I don’t think we have a lot of YEC’s here in the first place.

  7. thomas2026 permalink*
    August 16, 2009 6:02 pm


    I certainly will keep it personal, as much as I can. I think maybe the short answer is I’m concerned about the TRUTH, not what can make my life better/worse and what Truth lines up closest to reality. That, as I have always said, is what I respect about atheists so much. They are concered about it too. We are both not concerned about personal glory (well, maybe not all the way), only what is real and true. That is certainly something to go on.

    “Pastor” Tom seems to be only concered with what will bring him power, control and prestige. It’s the only reason I can think of for his completely unpastoral actions. Which is why, from now on, I’ll forever be putting the “pastor” in quotes.

  8. Was Born Again permalink
    August 16, 2009 6:09 pm


    You’ve hit the nail on the head – truth seeking is where atheists/agnostics/polar opposites(in truth-seeking terms) of ‘P’ Tom (such as you) can find common ground for fruitful discussion.

  9. AdamK permalink
    August 16, 2009 6:21 pm

    I can haz personul glory?

  10. August 16, 2009 7:26 pm

    Oh, my. Honest Tom just made a new post that just about made me fall out of my seat laughing. Seriously, his entire argument boils down to:

    1. If you have doubts about your faith, you were a sucky Christian to start with, you filthy atheist.

    2. No True Scotsman.

    3. Science sucks.

    With a generous side order of “because the Bible said so”. Really, if I were questioning and relying on Honest Tom to pull me back to the faith, I’d be headed full steam the other direction. Oh, and Jonathan, you’re an atheist too. Sorry you had to find out this way.

  11. thomas2026 permalink*
    August 16, 2009 7:48 pm

    Hmmm, guess my defrocking will be coming soon. Oh well. 😉

  12. Johann permalink
    August 16, 2009 7:48 pm

    Jonathan – Just a friendly caveat, since I’m not sure you realize what you’re getting into here. 😉

    If you do start out with such a statement of personal beliefs, expect every point to be dissected in minute detail, discussed and challenged in enough detail to give you enough material to respond to for a month. It’s not anything against you or what you believe, it’s just how we roll. I saw you saying in the Problem of Evil thread that you were thinking of how to answer everyone – a personal statement of your beliefs will likely attract a much larger volume of responses than an abstract philosophical problem, and if my impression of you so far is correct and you’ll want to address most of the responses individually (which is a lovely attitude to have, BTW, and seems unfortunately rare among Christian bloggers), that might keep you busy for *quite* a while.

    That said, I’d love to see you lay out what your beliefs are. I’m just concerned about the possibility of this (at least temporarily) derailing the other plans you laid out, which also look very promising. =)

  13. Johann permalink
    August 16, 2009 7:51 pm

    And on a completely unrelated note, something I thought you all might like (by a Christian cartoonist, no less): Who Is Your Savior?

  14. August 16, 2009 7:54 pm

    “Hmmm, guess my defrocking will be coming soon.”>

    Oh, my. Will we be seeing this on a “Ministers Gone Wild” video? 😉

  15. August 16, 2009 7:59 pm

    @Johann: WWJD … with a sonic screwdriver? 😉

  16. Was Born Again permalink
    August 16, 2009 8:03 pm

    I’m afraid I’ve stopped to watch the car wreck again @ ‘P’ T.

    It seems Tom is ‘inspiring’ several doubters such as me to post.

  17. August 16, 2009 8:13 pm

    I’ll be honest, I never realized that people “deconverting” was such a huge issue for evangelicals, given it happens fairly often in most religions. But I guess if you push your way as THE WAY and so potent that thinking any other way is just stupid, having someone reject that is rather a big deal. Probably why Honest Tom reacts the way he does to Jonathan, who actually gets intellectually down & dirty with us pagans and atheists and general freaks.

  18. thomas2026 permalink*
    August 16, 2009 8:28 pm

    Hmmm, maybe a money making thing? This bears some consideration…. 🙂

  19. benjdm permalink
    August 17, 2009 12:19 am

    Lay out a system of belief according the Thomas Society? What say you?

    If you like. I’ll give you one lurker’s point of view:

    The problem of evil is annoying. First I have to be convinced that ‘the one Supreme Being, the creator and ruler of the universe’ (first definition of God according to the dictionary) is a good description of a feature of reality. Second I have to be convinced that this Supreme Being actually cares about homo sapiens as opposed to the vast number of other things in the space-time of the universe that it could care about. (Given the brief-ness and the minuteness of humanity in relation to the universe, I have a great deal of difficulty imagining how you could do this.) Only then, third, do we even get to the problem of evil. I think it’s impossible that you could convince me of eutheism. An uninterested deity, probably not. A deity that was concerned with humans, ridiculously unlikely. A deity that I would consider wholly good? Impossible. Or at least it seems that way right now (obviously I do not know the future.)

    None of the deductive proofs for a God are sound.

    So you’re left with establishing an inductive method of arriving at beliefs that arrives at a God-belief. Good luck with that. 🙂

  20. SuperCorgi permalink
    August 17, 2009 12:41 am

    Hey “Was Born Again” – glad to see you here now. I wanted to respond to you but once “PT” put a lock down on the site I didn’t feel that I could (don’t want to give him my email address – sorry but I just don’t trust a fanactic like him.)

    I encourage you on your journey and your questioning. If you believe in a god, using our brains is the best way of worshipping him – why would he give us thinking minds if he didn’t want us to use them?

    I know you’re questioning your belief, and I encourage that. We should always be questioning – knowledge changes, we learn new things, our understanding of the universe constantly changes.

    However, you need not entirely abandon it. There are may types of Christianity that are not dogmatic. I was raised as a Congregationalist – works were stress more than faith. It was pretty laid back. Maybe another area of belief would suit you better.

    What concerned me is that on that other blog, you said you didn’t go to church with your wife. That she was alone. Please don’t let your search for what is true to you damage your relationship with those you hold dear. It’s a mistake to think that your spouse should hold the same views as you do. Everyone has to come to decisions independently. I know a number of atheists whose spouses are religious – they accept this and love them for who they are despite what they believe.

    I’m not saying that you’re one of the people who may reject loved ones (believe me, many atheists have gone through this) because of what you believe). Just don’t judge – many atheists feel this way – not because of god, but just that we try to be decent human beings.

    I wish you luck on your exploration, learn, live, love. Nothing much to be added to that.

  21. thomas2026 permalink*
    August 17, 2009 1:54 am

    Sorry Johann, I missed this comment somehow.

    I full expect everyone to pick apart the story. I wouldn’t expect anything less. 🙂 That’s why I’m going to try to publish it in sections.

  22. Ray S. permalink
    August 17, 2009 4:10 am

    Well if I’ve preceipitated something, let me make clear what type of rain I’m after. I’ve posted over at ‘Honest’ Tom’s, but nothing I’ve posted got a response. After only a few days, it’s become clear that Estes thinks he speaks for all Christians. I think we have a consensus among the posters here that he does not.

    If we try to speak in the abstract, we run the risk of speaking for others and not our selves. I speak for no one but myself. I am an atheist (see below), but nothing that I believe, no conclusion I’ve reached can be guaranteed to apply to any other atheist. I expect you to call me on that when I mess up.

    When Jonathan posted his first part of his thoughts on the Problem of Evil, we quickly found out that we needed to rapidly come to consensus on terms. The meaning of ‘God’, ‘Christian’, ‘atheist’ and other terms encompass enough variety that misunderstanding can still occur. Secondly, most of us have seen the common supporting arguments for all sides; recapping those in 100 word gulps is not helpful.

    So I want to know what you personally believe and why you have come to this belief. While I may not agree with you, I’ll certainly try to refrain from ridicule where it is undeserved (people like Ham and Estes are the ones I’m particularly think of here, though I’m more likely to ridicule the ideas than the person). I will challenge your assumptions. I’m here because I think the conversation can be valuable.

    It’s only fair that I start: I’m an atheist in the simplest meaning of the term; I lack the one belief that defines a theist (one who believes in one or more gods). I’ve experienced no compelling evidence for the existence of a god, despite (because of?) being raised a Baptist. I was about 13 when I realized I did not believe in the god of my childhood. Let’s just say that was a long time ago. I have no real issues with theists until they attempt to force public policy (especially school curricula) to fit their religious views. What you do privately is your business alone.

    I think science (using the term very broadly) is our best way of learning how the universe works. This is largely because science is tested against reality, but also because the conclusions of science are independent of creed. Those who would assume the veracity of an ancient text over the reality of the present have my pity.

  23. pbxx permalink
    August 17, 2009 8:29 am

    The gist of honest Tom’s latest comment about you Jonathan in one of his posts , in reply to your supporters over there is –

    – atheists like you,therefore you can’t be a true Christian.

    – you discuss (rather than beat down) atheists, therefore you can’t be a true Christian.

    Therefore as long as you’re obnoxious and a dictator you can be a Christian .

    I’m sure you’re not losing any sleep about being defrocked.

    The fact you no longer reply to his rants against you is apparently further evidence you are not the genuine article.

    The fact you get under his skin is evidence enough YOU are the real Christian TM.

  24. thomas2026 permalink*
    August 17, 2009 11:50 am

    Thanks PBXX. I actually offered to meet Tom for coffee (He lives in Cincy, I’m in Columbus). Never got an answer. Which shows more than anything I could have said on his blog.

    And, unlike “Pastor” Tom’s church and friends, everyone in my denomination and my friends love all this. So, not to disappoint all the ladies out there, I won’t be defrocked any time soon. 🙂

  25. Shannon permalink
    August 17, 2009 2:36 pm

    Thomas –

    Some time ago, over on WWGHA, I posted a challenge. I’m not going to necessarially send you there, but… as you’re about to talk about your beliefs, I find myself hoping you’ll address it.

    Can you tell me, all of us – why the Bible is an authoritative book? Or, to aim the question another way, ‘how do you know the Bible is the One True Word?’

    This is the question that was the last I asked before leaving the faith, and the one that still, frankly, bothers me the most. You can’t, you see, use the Bible’s assertion that it is the Word to prove that it’s the word – it’s a tautology. If you go for the historical perspective – say, proving the Flood happened (though, like you, I came from a denomination that considered this an allegorical, mythological story) or that the Jewish people really were enslaved by Egypt and crossed the Red Sea… well, there’s just no evidence to be found. Anywhere. Well, at least that I’ve found.

    All apologetics seem to operate from the baseline belief that the Bible is in fact authoritative in some way. But – if there’s nothing outside of it to grant it this extraordinary level of authority, isn’t that a real problem?

    Park Tools makes a wonderful guide to repairing bicycles. Called the Big Blue Book, it is actually the ‘bible’ of basic bicycle repair procedures. It has weathered extraordinary proof of its correctness: every procedure in it can be applied to bicycle maintenance, and have been proven to be a best-practices methodology for working on your two-wheel pedal-pusher.

    Shouldn’t we subject the bible to the same rigor, before accepting it as an authoritative work?

  26. August 17, 2009 2:40 pm

    The more I read of Honest Tom’s comments and posts, the more I see the whole thing as an exercise in vanity. He’s a basically prideful man who got himself a plum position where he can speak as a parental figure to a flock that totally buys it. It seems to confuse him when people don’t take his pronouncements about the world (real and spiritual) as received truth, so he insists on getting that respect. The whole idea of Hard Truth in the first place, it suggests the wise telling the ignorant things they don’t want to hear, rather than the ignorant demanding the wise give them due respect when they spout gibberish.

    No wonder he responds with emotional hot buttons (calling Jonathan an atheist and coward, etc.), it’s really all he’s got.

  27. thomas2026 permalink*
    August 17, 2009 2:50 pm

    I wonder if he will still think I’m a coward after this week’s Attie awards. 🙂

  28. thomas2026 permalink*
    August 17, 2009 2:54 pm

    An excellant question and one I hope to address in my personal story. I will say this, the Bible is authorative in everything it’s meant to affirm in regards to God’s overall plan for the world.

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