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Comments by Mike Aus

Go to: Conversion on Mount Improbable: How Evolution Challenges Christian Dogma

Mike Aus's Avatar Jump to comment 61 by Mike Aus

Comment 54 by jman_dc :

Great article Mike! Well written and it is great to see you work through how science and faith connect (or don't). Thanks.

I did have a question about this statement:

[Mike Aus] Religion is really not about “knowing” anything; it is about speculation not based on reality.

Most of my religious friends would be quick to point out that you can describe their belief as "speculation" regarding facts but cannot really defend the statement that their speculation is not based on reality. Any defense would undercut your own theorizing from facts. For example:

The instinct for self-preservation and a concern for the well-being of other individuals appear to have both played a role in the survival and evolution of our species. If that is the case, then the tension between “sin” and selflessness might actually help define who we are as humans. The project of religion has been sin eradication, and that approach now appears to be a fundamental denial of human nature.

Thoughts?

And thanks again.

Yes, I guess you could say that certain aspects of religion are based on reality to some degree. The doctrine of original sin, for instance, is clearly an attempt to describe a real dilemma that humans experience. But religion also has numerous areas of "study" that have no connection with reality at all--Christology, sacramental theology, and eschatology, just to name a few. One random example that comes to mind is the book "The Two Natures of Christ" by the 16th-century reformer Martin Chemnitz. It's massive tome, hundreds of pages long, on properly understanding the balance of Christ's divinity and humanity. It looks impressive on the book shelf, but when you dig a little bit you realize it has all the intellectual integrity of The Star Trek Manual. It's sheer speculation. And even today Christians still quibble over the nature of Holy Communion--is it transubstantiation, con-substantiation, or something else? It doesn't get much more speculative than that. I hope I didn't misunderstand your question. Thanks! I

Comment 54 by jman_dc :

Great article Mike! Well written and it is great to see you work through how science and faith connect (or don't). Thanks.

I did have a question about this statement:

[Mike Aus] Religion is really not about “knowing” anything; it is about speculation not based on reality.

Most of my religious friends would be quick to point out that you can describe their belief as "speculation" regarding facts but cannot really defend the statement that their speculation is not based on reality. Any defense would undercut your own theorizing from facts. For example:

The instinct for self-preservation and a concern for the well-being of other individuals appear to have both played a role in the survival and evolution of our species. If that is the case, then the tension between “sin” and selflessness might actually help define who we are as humans. The project of religion has been sin eradication, and that approach now appears to be a fundamental denial of human nature.

Thoughts?

And thanks again.

Wed, 09 May 2012 16:13:39 UTC | #940741

Go to: Conversion on Mount Improbable: How Evolution Challenges Christian Dogma

Mike Aus's Avatar Jump to comment 51 by Mike Aus

Comment 37 by mjr :

@Mike

I hope you expand these ideas into a book. You have a gift for incisive thinking and clear writing and your skills will add to the debate.

So, where do you stand now? Does God exist? I guess that your faith in Christianity may be lessened but the BIG QESTION???

Thanks so much for the encouragement. Just to answer where I stand on the "big question," I am definitely not theistic any longer. Even if there were some entity like the god of deism, I can't see how it would matter one way or the other if we believed in its existence. As far as I can tell, we are on our own. All we have is each other, and--as the many kind and thoughtful comments here have shown me once again--most of the time that's pretty darn good company.

Mon, 07 May 2012 20:35:30 UTC | #940396

Go to: Conversion on Mount Improbable: How Evolution Challenges Christian Dogma

Mike Aus's Avatar Jump to comment 48 by Mike Aus

Comment 47 by Alex, adv. diab. :

Comment 44 by Sara :

Ah, good catch! So, if we hear apologists using this explanation for the first time ever, we'll know where they got the idea.

Yeah, fun, fun, fun! :) It's just that I like my counter-apologetics consistent, we have such good arguments that we can afford to be precise and rigorous, unlike the religious guys who have to obfuscate and distort to survive in a discussion.

Yes, it was a good catch. I am aware of the discussion about a possible "Mitochondrial Eve and Adam" but frankly it didn't occur to me until after I and sent the piece in. Thanks for the conversation and thanks for helping me sharpen my thinking. Of course, I guess we'd still have to locate the "original sin" gene? Sorry, I won't open that can of worms :)

Mon, 07 May 2012 20:18:20 UTC | #940387

Go to: Unbelief in the pews

Mike Aus's Avatar Jump to comment 39 by Mike Aus

Comment 16 by Bobwundaye :

Comment 13 by Bobwundaye

Do you have any links to a video of the show you came out on, or to newspaper articles that were about your coming out as an atheist?

I did a very cursory search on your name, and found that laying aside my laziness actually yields some results. I watched the MSNBC interview and thought you were great on it.

For any one else who wants to watch, here it is:

Bobwundaye: Thanks for posting the link. In addition to being a recovering Christian, I am also a recovering Luddite.

Comment 16 by Bobwundaye :

Comment 13 by Bobwundaye

Do you have any links to a video of the show you came out on, or to newspaper articles that were about your coming out as an atheist?

I did a very cursory search on your name, and found that laying aside my laziness actually yields some results. I watched the MSNBC interview and thought you were great on it.

For any one else who wants to watch, here it is:

Fri, 20 Apr 2012 01:29:53 UTC | #935894

Go to: Unbelief in the pews

Mike Aus's Avatar Jump to comment 37 by Mike Aus

Comment 1 by Sean_W :

Hi Mike,

Does social convention trump dogma as a primary reason for church attendance?

I've never understood church attendance unless you're a real believer -in something. If it's not all that goes with Christianity then it's belief in belief.

----//----

BTW, as a pastor you obviously spoke with other pastors from other congregations, and probably a variety of other religious leaders as well: did you guys ever talk about the absurdity of having churches on every corner of the city? Is that something people in the industry acknowledge? I mean if it's a community of believers then surely the people attending church at 3522 Holy Ln could stand to worship with the believers attending service at 3523 Holy Ln -surely.

Yes, pastors are keenly aware of the prevalence of numerous local congregations in the vicinity, and the general feeling is not one of cooperation but competition. Often doctrinal and liturgical issues make cooperation difficult. Lip service is paid to worshiping the "same Lord," but that's often as far as it goes. High church folks often hold contemporary worship in disdain. Evangelicals, Catholics, and Mainline Protestants are all fundamentally suspicious of each other and see other local congregations as competing for the dwindling pool of potential new members. I know it's not a pretty picture but that's basically reality. It's certainly the way I used to feel. I wanted to beat the competition.

Fri, 20 Apr 2012 01:19:18 UTC | #935891

Go to: Richard Dawkins and Michael Aus discuss The Clergy Project (with Polish subtitles)

Mike Aus's Avatar Jump to comment 34 by Mike Aus

This past Sunday I said farewell to my congregation. It was an emotional day but folks were mostly gracious. The most surprising part of the past week has been how many people--laity and clergy--have told me that they have been struggling secretly with the same questions for decades. Maybe some of our believing friends are more ready for change than we realize.

Mon, 02 Apr 2012 23:28:47 UTC | #932019

Go to: Richard Dawkins and Michael Aus discuss The Clergy Project (with Polish subtitles)

Mike Aus's Avatar Jump to comment 21 by Mike Aus

Thanks to all for your kind comments and support. It means so much to me in this time of transition. My personal thanks to Richard Dawkins for all his kindness to clergy coming out as non-believers.

Regrading Mira's comment, I am in fact of Estonian descent. My Estonian immigrant grandfather always told me that our name meant "honorable," and I thought he was pulling my leg. Now I know for sure. Thanks!

Comment 5 by mira :

Congratulations to Michael Aus and good luck on his journey! If he happens to be of Estonian descent, his last name would be fitting as it means 'honest' and 'fair' in English.

Tue, 27 Mar 2012 23:06:21 UTC | #930839