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"why I Am Not A Christian"


Guest Escaped From Catholicism
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Guest Escaped From Catholicism

Following the path of atheists for whom I have a great deal of respect, such as Bertrand Russell and Richard Carrier, I decided to make a brief statement of the principal reasons why I am not a Christian (not a de-conversation testimony, but more of an argumentative essay).

 

Myself a three-time contributor to Internet Infidels' Secular Web (http://secweb.infidels.org/?kiosk=authors&id=720), I was hoping members of this discussion forum might be able to provide some feedback on my medium-length (roughly 3000-word) essay.

 

I posted the piece on my personal blog site but, in hopes of wider publication online or elsewhere, I'd like to make the piece as strong as possible, while keeping the length reasonable.

 

Here is the link: http://mycaseagainstgod.blogspot.com/2009/09/why-i-am-not-christian.html

 

Thank you for any feedback anyone might provide!

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Following the path of atheists for whom I have a great deal of respect, such as Bertrand Russell and Richard Carrier, I decided to make a brief statement of the principal reasons why I am not a Christian (not a de-conversation testimony, but more of an argumentative essay).

 

Myself a three-time contributor to Internet Infidels' Secular Web (http://secweb.infidels.org/?kiosk=authors&id=720), I was hoping members of this discussion forum might be able to provide some feedback on my medium-length (roughly 3000-word) essay.

 

I posted the piece on my personal blog site but, in hopes of wider publication online or elsewhere, I'd like to make the piece as strong as possible, while keeping the length reasonable.

 

Here is the link: http://mycaseagainstgod.blogspot.com/2009/09/why-i-am-not-christian.html

 

Thank you for any feedback anyone might provide!

You're a good writer, so please don't take offense at anything written here, and especially not what I write.

 

How can I say this...? The essay is your reasons for not being a Christian, but you quote the opinions and reasons of others (Hitchens, Harris, et al.). Yes, they confirm your reasons, but you should be able to present your reasons without using theirs or quoting them. Reread "Why I am not a Christian" by Bertrand Russel and you'll note that he doesn't spend a lot of space quoting others.

 

There are certainly reasons you might quote your opponents or the Bible, or books that are not about atheism (such as "The Origin of Species"). Or even atheist writers writing on subjects related to atheism (Dawkins on Evolution, for example). But to quote their thoughts to support yours makes your thoughts seem weak - and in need of "propping up."

 

If, OTOH, reading a particular book influenced you so much that you must present it, then be honest and say that "when I read [book] I realized [something]." Make it personal, and you will be quoted. If it is only a restatement of others' works, then people will quote the others instead of you.

 

That is solely my opinion, and probably not relevant. Your reasoning is excellent and the writing is easy to understand.

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Guest Escaped From Catholicism

Following the path of atheists for whom I have a great deal of respect, such as Bertrand Russell and Richard Carrier, I decided to make a brief statement of the principal reasons why I am not a Christian (not a de-conversation testimony, but more of an argumentative essay).

 

Myself a three-time contributor to Internet Infidels' Secular Web (http://secweb.infidels.org/?kiosk=authors&id=720), I was hoping members of this discussion forum might be able to provide some feedback on my medium-length (roughly 3000-word) essay.

 

I posted the piece on my personal blog site but, in hopes of wider publication online or elsewhere, I'd like to make the piece as strong as possible, while keeping the length reasonable.

 

Here is the link: http://mycaseagainstgod.blogspot.com/2009/09/why-i-am-not-christian.html

 

Thank you for any feedback anyone might provide!

You're a good writer, so please don't take offense at anything written here, and especially not what I write.

 

How can I say this...? The essay is your reasons for not being a Christian, but you quote the opinions and reasons of others (Hitchens, Harris, et al.). Yes, they confirm your reasons, but you should be able to present your reasons without using theirs or quoting them. Reread "Why I am not a Christian" by Bertrand Russel and you'll note that he doesn't spend a lot of space quoting others.

 

There are certainly reasons you might quote your opponents or the Bible, or books that are not about atheism (such as "The Origin of Species"). Or even atheist writers writing on subjects related to atheism (Dawkins on Evolution, for example). But to quote their thoughts to support yours makes your thoughts seem weak - and in need of "propping up."

 

If, OTOH, reading a particular book influenced you so much that you must present it, then be honest and say that "when I read [book] I realized [something]." Make it personal, and you will be quoted. If it is only a restatement of others' works, then people will quote the others instead of you.

 

That is solely my opinion, and probably not relevant. Your reasoning is excellent and the writing is easy to understand.

 

 

On the contrary, I think your comments are quite relevant, and I appreciate your taking the time to state them!

 

The reason I liberally used quotes, from the likes of Hume, Harris, Hitchens, Dawkins, Coyne and Shermer, is twofold: (a.) I wanted to convey the (I believe) accurate impression that I am well-read on the relevant subject matter and know of what I speak, and (b.) I wanted to give the piece some intellectual heft by citing the thoughts of well-respected intellectuals whose minds, I dare say, are more fertile than my own.

 

Nevertheless, the piece is not intended to be a compilation of other atheists' thoughts but, rather, a succinct summary of the principal reasons why I am not a Christian. Therefore, if my own analysis is insufficient to counterbalance the quotes, that poses a problem.

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That smilie, of course, was supposed to be a "b" within parentheses. Bah.

That's funny!

 

I know what you mean about using quotes. Other writers also use quotes from people, so I can't say it's not the right thing to do. One way around that is to consider placing the quotes as footnotes. Rereading it, I still get the impression that it is a "summary of atheist thought". Of course, almost every atheist has these thoughts at one time or another, but what makes it entertaining is seeing how each person arrived at the same conclusion even if we approach the matter differently. I enjoy reading the testimonials for example.

 

When there is a quote in every paragraph, the quotations almost become gratuitous. For example:

 

In an instant, god could carve his name onto the Moon. Or, alternately, god could rearrange the planets in our solar system. Because, as Richard Carrier writes, god does “nothing of any sort whatsoever,” choosing instead to be a do-nothing layabout, I am not a Christian.

 

Richard Carrier didn't write anything profound that you couldn't have written as well or better. I'd take that one out. [Also, beginning the second sentence with the conjunction "Or" might read better if it were either a separate thought or part of the first sentence.]

 

Sometimes it's not only what you say, but how you say it that conveys meaning and a part of yourself. Surely everything that could be said has been said before, but that doesn't mean they could say it as well as you. What we have read affects us, but our thoughts are our own.

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That smilie, of course, was supposed to be a "b" within parentheses. Bah.

Note from moderator:

 

Seeing your, "Bah," and knowing how irritating that sort of thing is, I took the liberty of correcting it. Usually I don't do that without express permission, but at twenty-two posts, you're not able yet to edit your own submissions, and that can be frustrating. I had the same problem: I made a couple different changes, and the software kept changing it back to a smiley. Finally, I had to settle for lower case with a period. Then I added a period to the "(a)" just for consistency. Not the most polished look, but it got rid of the damned smiley.

 

Sharing your irritation,

Loren

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Guest Escaped From Catholicism

That smilie, of course, was supposed to be a "b" within parentheses. Bah.

That's funny!

 

I know what you mean about using quotes. Other writers also use quotes from people, so I can't say it's not the right thing to do. One way around that is to consider placing the quotes as footnotes. Rereading it, I still get the impression that it is a "summary of atheist thought". Of course, almost every atheist has these thoughts at one time or another, but what makes it entertaining is seeing how each person arrived at the same conclusion even if we approach the matter differently. I enjoy reading the testimonials for example.

 

When there is a quote in every paragraph, the quotations almost become gratuitous. For example:

 

In an instant, god could carve his name onto the Moon. Or, alternately, god could rearrange the planets in our solar system. Because, as Richard Carrier writes, god does “nothing of any sort whatsoever,” choosing instead to be a do-nothing layabout, I am not a Christian.

 

Richard Carrier didn't write anything profound that you couldn't have written as well or better. I'd take that one out. [Also, beginning the second sentence with the conjunction "Or" might read better if it were either a separate thought or part of the first sentence.]

 

Sometimes it's not only what you say, but how you say it that conveys meaning and a part of yourself. Surely everything that could be said has been said before, but that doesn't mean they could say it as well as you. What we have read affects us, but our thoughts are our own.

 

I see what you mean about the Carrier quote. I like the way he phrases it--showing god to be a complete sluggard who does entirely nothing--but the quote, nevertheless, is rather gratuitous.

 

I considered going the testimony route, but, honestly, my de-conversion from Catholicism to atheism was almost entirely an "intellectual" journey. That is, I had no bad experiences with Christianity, really. The worst I can attest to is being bored in church and disliking going to CCD one night per week. My mind opened to a godless cosmos when I read Steven Pinker's book "The Blank Slate," which, for me, completely exorcised "the ghost in the machine" or soul. The soul simply had no purpose anymore, now that I better understood brain function. From there, I began to study evolution more deeply, which gave me tremendous appreciation for the single tree of life, oo which humans represent merely a tiny little branch.

 

So, inasmuch as the piece seems like a compendium of atheist thought, it sort of is: I wanted to collect the main arguments that I found most persuasive, boil them down from book-length explication and make them easily digestible in one sitting, adding in my own analysis and comments to show why, I believe, the arguments are sound and unanswerable.

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So, inasmuch as the piece seems like a compendium of atheist thought, it sort of is: I wanted to collect the main arguments that I found most persuasive, boil them down from book-length explication and make them easily digestible in one sitting, adding in my own analysis and comments to show why, I believe, the arguments are sound and unanswerable.

Bravo! In that case, Well done.

 

My deconversion was very similar. It was inescapable. I had absolutely no "atheist books" to read however because I didn't know of any (and, really, there weren't any to speak of). My problem was putting together the pieces of a puzzle without having any idea about what it was supposed to look like.

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Guest Escaped From Catholicism

 

So, inasmuch as the piece seems like a compendium of atheist thought, it sort of is: I wanted to collect the main arguments that I found most persuasive, boil them down from book-length explication and make them easily digestible in one sitting, adding in my own analysis and comments to show why, I believe, the arguments are sound and unanswerable.

Bravo! In that case, Well done.

 

My deconversion was very similar. It was inescapable. I had absolutely no "atheist books" to read however because I didn't know of any (and, really, there weren't any to speak of). My problem was putting together the pieces of a puzzle without having any idea about what it was supposed to look like.

 

Thanks!

 

Based on your feedback, I reworked the fourth paragraph (which previously had included the brief, ineffective Carrier quote) and selected, I feel, a more meaty Carrier passage. I also tweaked the wording surrounding that quote a little bit, to enhance effectiveness.

 

Thank you. Your feedback has improved my essay.

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