Recently, I've had some thought provoking conversation over on conversiondiary.com, this blog I discovered last week. It's by someone who converted from lifelong atheism (and a scoffing-at-religion type of atheism, too) to Catholicism. I expressed my ideas there, to a mix of atheists and religious folk. I've read almost no philosophy, but I think about things. And I thought by wading into a discussion forum full of people who had read a whole bunch of stuff, and invested a lot of thought into their various positions, I'd probably get creamed. But I didn't. Instead, I got a few questions, someone said my views made sense and articulated what she didn't like about religion (she was a practicing Christian, but having difficulty with it). But beyond that, nothing. No "hey, you completely missed this" or "here's an example of how your flawed logic leads a small child to walk in front of a bus". Nothing. And I posted my ideas yesterday on the pro-atheist forum whywontgodhealamputees.com. Again, nobody claimed I was a complete idiot, or pointed out anything I'd missed. So I think maybe my ideas do in fact stand on their own. So this blog is to open them up for discussion, in the hope they can be improved.
I'm not the scoffing type, and I'd like the discussion on this blog to reflect that. People are often just fundamentally trying to 1. do good things with their lives and 2. find some meaning, purpose, or reason to do those good things. But as a result they start to believe in things that don't make sense (adopting religious rituals, or atheistic "one highest principle" godless ethics). I've pondered why we do this, and I think it will be the topic of a whole other post. I think it has to do with our western rational mindset, where something must either be true or false, with little way of mentally handling the things we don't yet fully understand.
Anyway, that's all well and good, except often going either true or false on god you end up thinking that people who don't believe as you do are stupid ignorant, unenlightened, downright evil... I could go on, but the best summary was a discussion thread an atheist started up recently on whywon'tgodhealamputees asking whether people who believed in God ought to be hated because they're doing so much damage, or pitied because they're stupid or delusional. I'm aiming for something a little more constructive here :).
And yes, to you religious folks, atheists believe in things. They just don't believe in god. Everyone has to choose some belief system as a means to guide their behaviour, otherwise you can't get anything done.
What I want this blog to do is express my ideas about if there is a god, what he/she/it/they might be like, and if not if there are still some basic principles theists and non-theists can all agree on. And then I'll open my ideas up to criticism. Anyone who wants can come in and fire questions at me, or at each other. Anyone who has read something that might further flesh out my ideas can suggest improvements. We've got this great tool where people from all over the world can talk to each other, so let's use it to build some consensus, and understand each other better! Plus, it means I don't have to read every philosophy book ever written to get every great idea that has ever been thought - you can just give me the ideas you've got from what you've read, and then everyone will have them :).
Sound like fun? Ok then! Let's get going.
Oh, and you may be wondering where the url for this blog came from. Near the very end of the very deep conversation I had over on conversiondiary, someone explained how our impetus towards good can be explained by evolutionary imperatives, and ended by saying:
But I don't believe that God, however you want to describe that, has anything to do with it. (Unless of course you call the mysterious life force that drives evolution "God")
Thing is, what if I do?
UPDATE (August 1st): On this blog, I talk about what I think is true. Neither atheists nor theists are really going to like it, because it doesn't always fit their "standard models" of how things work. If you're a really strong believer either way, you may want to read this post before you start.