DiaBlogue Finale: Return to Love (redux)

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This post is the apparent end of my long-running DiaBlogue with Alan. It is a follow-up to my own initial reaction to our decision to call things off, as well as Alan’s own reaction and closing thoughts, and may well be our final word on this topic.

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[I accidentally deleted the final version of this post, so I’m simply reposting an earlier, incomplete version with a little filler. C’est la vie.]

Dear Alan,

There’s many things I could say to you at this time, but after much wrestling and prayer I’ve decided to leave you with a single question:

What will you do with your anger?

You’ll no doubt remember that this is [similar to] the only question you formally declined to answer [deferred answering] during our DiaBlogue. While I don’t really expect an answer now, I believe it is the most important question you will ultimately need to answer going forward.

The reason is that I believe you are facing a choice: whether to continue feeding your anger against Christianity by seeking new things about it to hate, or whether to release your anger in order to devote your life to the pursuit of truth. Because, frankly, you can’t do both.

I’m sure you’ll be quick to point out that your anger against Christianity is because of your love of truth (and hatred of lies). And yes, that is partly true — but only in part. Certainly there is much about Christianity worth hating, that ought to be hated — and I’ve never been shy about admitting that.

[filler]

But what about the rest? Why do you hate all of Christianity, to the point of devoting your life to its destruction?

I don’t know the answer to that question, though I have my suspicions. I don’t know if you are even aware of how much your thinking (like mine) is influenced by your own anger.

I do know, however, that a live driven by anger is a life that leads to death. Like Anakin Skywalker, we end up destroying the very thing we became angry to protect. And whether or not there is a literal hell awaiting us after death, there is such a thing as hell on earth. And it awaits those who sow anger and hatred, and reap bitterness and regret.

I hope you never get there. I hope you take this opportunity to rededicate your life to the constructive pursuit of truth, even your own atheistic understanding of what “truth” is. You may not succeed, but it would be a noble pursuit.

But if you do choose to follow the road of anger, and you someday find yourself at the gates of hell, I pray that you will have the courage (and humility) to reach out for forgiveness.

Love always, your friend
Ernie Prabhakar

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3 thoughts on “DiaBlogue Finale: Return to Love (redux)

  1. I did not decline to answer the question. I deferred my answer. It does happen to be true that I never got around to answering, something that is true of a number of topics I had intended to write about at one point or another. Also note that the question you asked originally was “How would [I] deal with anger…” (in general) not “How will [I] deal with [my] anger?” referring to (your perception of) my anger against Christianity. This is a subtle but important distinction in the context of this post, since you seem to treat my “declining” to answer a question you never asked as evidence that I am unwilling to examine the role of anger in my life. That is not true, even if I have never gotten around to discussing it publicly. Perhaps you should drop the remote amateur psychoanalysis.

    This post is, in miniature, an illustration of the cross-purposes to which we have talked for quite some time. You wonder why I discard Christianity when it has some good characteristics. I am no longer a Christian because Christianity’s central and especially distinctive claims about reality are (as far as I can tell) most probably false. If Christianity still has good things to say, those good things must therefore be good independent of the truth of Christianity (or more specifically, those core parts of Christianity that I find very probably false). Additionally, the false beliefs contribute, directly and indirectly, to various sorts of harm. I also believe that the reality of some of that harm can only be seen after the false beliefs are exposed. For instance, trading benefit in this life for benefit in the after-life is a net benefit only if there is an after-life and the conditions of the trade actually hold; otherwise, it is a net harm. In this context, exposing the false foundation is an important (but not the only important) task.

    As far as I can tell, you have ignored my arguments about the factual basis for Christianity except insofar as to attribute those arguments to hate and anger. To be sure, most of those arguments were presented outside the context of our diablogue. Still, you have provided neither refutation of those arguments nor good reason why the factual basis of Christianity is unimportant. Is it simply that you are willing to be satisfied by a helpful fiction (and never mind the harm)? If so, our lack of convergence is hardly surprising. But you have explicitly denied that point of view, claiming that evidence supports your beliefs. I believe I have consistently given reasons that I find those claims problematic.

    You claim I am devoting my life to destroying Christianity. Isn’t that a bit melodramatic? Neither our dialog nor my infrequent blogging are my entire life, but only a small part, and “destroying” is a bit over the top. I am trying to explain some of the reasons that I find Christianity likely to be false. Less frequently, I try to explain reasons that I find (some forms of) Christianity harmful. That is hardly the picture of someone driven by irrational anger, a picture you seem to be painting here.

  2. Dear Alan,
    I did correct the one factual error (“decline” vs. “defer”). For the rest (though I will admit to melodrama :-), I’m afraid we’ll have to agree to disagree.

    Yes, you have repeatedly raised numerous objections to Chrsitianity; but then mysteriously lost interest when I attempted to rigorously critique your complaints and normalize them against mutually agreed-upon truths. That is why I feel your critique of Christianity is essentially “pre-paradigmatic” and (at its root) driven more by anger than a desire for truth.

    I’d love to be proved wrong. If you’d like to provide a list of specific, carefully-constructed arguments demonstrating the core falsity of Christianity — that you believe are rigorously defensible, and that you’re willing to stick to without “shifting the goalposts”– I’d be happy to reopen our DiaBlogue and provide a detailed critique.

    Love always,
    — Ernie P.

  3. Sorry for the delay in responding — it’s been a moderately busy week, and I also wanted to take some care with my response. That care included re-reading the first part of our dialog. My interpretation of events is a bit different than what you offer here.

    I am not aware of any time that I “shifted the goalposts”; of course, I may have done so unintentionally and unknowingly. In that case, I hope you would have pointed it out. Did I miss it? This struck me as an unexpected criticism, particularly since I had complained several times about your (explicit) attempt to reformulate (shift) our first goalpost statement.

    As for your claims that I lost interest at strategically convenient times, which you would seem to have people believe were due to the gathering strength of your arguments, my perspective is far different: that, after a substantial amount of time, the line of argument being pursued was not proving helpful. For instance, when you proposed two statements that you would defend, one related to morality and one related to the Bible, I thought that both of those statements (as stated) could be the basis of furthering our mutual understanding, though I was more interested in the second than the first. Part of the reason that I thought that discussing the first statement would be productive was that, as formulated, the statement your were defending was sufficiently strong. When the discussion got to the point where that statement needed to be substantially weakened, I did lose interest, not because of the strength of your argument, but because you had backed off from (my interpretation of) the original claim.

    Our coverage of the second statement was limited to part of our last chat. Did I lose interest? Obviously, I said as much, but again (and as I detailed in my followup post) not because of the strength of your argument. It appears to me that despite our time attempting to develop some kind of common epistemology, we have some substantial disagreements there. The validation of beliefs that you appear to derive from Community is far stronger than I believe is defensible given the practices of the Community (especially where the Community in question was the early church).

    Were there other occasions where you believe I lost interest? Certainly the conversation has taken turns at various points, but I do not see those as being caused by loss of interest by either of us, but rather by emerging understanding of what we needed to work out together. But, as I said, perhaps there was something that I am not remembering or never recognized. If so, please enlighten me.

    You will, of course, believe what you will about my reasons for disbelief. I think you have badly mischaracterized them, but my say-so will not likely sway you on this point. Still, your statements here make me even less desirous of a continued or renewed discussion. Interpret that as you will.

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