Audio: Hitchens on Metaphysics and my conversation about

Christopher Hitchens reading from “God is Not Great” his chapter on metaphysics.

    Part One:
    Part Two:

My post on the pope and original sin led to an interesting conversation between myself and Rory Fenton, whose apostate story on leaving Catholicism can be read here.

The view on original sin of Jehovah’s Witnesses (with whom I studied with as a child into adolescence) is very similar to Catholicism. Good works are not enough, Christ needed to die to redeem mankind.

Where we did differ was whether metaphysical claims should bother atheists with the olive branch by the pope. A robust but good natured debate followed, and our differences could in large part be based on how our respective religions view apostates. Providing Rory leads a good life, and does not become a satanist his actions (not belief) would be enough for salvation and Catholics would judge him on his works. On the other hand my knowing the truth and rejecting makes me an apostate in the literal biblical sense – no Jehovah’s Witness can talk to me, and demons may make use of me to make others fall away from the faith. As Rory rightly says, I’m fucked.

The apostasy project is not just about helping those with doubts about their religion have a non judgemental place to discuss their feelings to leave their faith – it also helps to explain the nature of what apostasy means for different people.

John:
Why the pope saying atheists are redeemed from original sin is actually offensive to us [blog post]

Rory:
I don’t get your argument. Seems to say “yeah he said something nice but he’s still catholic so it doesn’t count” What do you mean?

John:
1. we would be wretched things to want original sin to be true
2. The idea of a birth by a virgin without man’s seed is a “purity” I can do without
3. Baptism to get God’s grace is something I can do without, especially regarding being a moral person
4. Original sin is based on an “un-biological tortured zombie fairy story, helped by holy water taken externally.
So no not saying it was nice – it’s not- and it’s invalid not because pope is catholic but because it’s an insult to rationality.

Rory:
Yes but those are arguments against Catholicism, not that when the pope says we can be genuinely good people its a bad thing. Surely it’s extending a hand [of] friendship and humility?

John:
I quote the bit the pope says regarding original sin – not that atheists should be allowed to do good as Catholics do. The concept of original sin to us is not an extension of friendship – it means we need the divine. That we are base, immoral.

Original sin means we accept we need a perfect divine, if you will man born without seamen of a virgin to die for us to be saved. And you really want to say “that’s a nice gesture that in no way insults my morals or intelligence”? That would be my point.

20130527-112932.jpg

Photo above from here as an example where good works not enough, accepting Christ (and doctrine of original sin) is essential for salvation.

Rory:
It is indeed a nice feature that in no real way insults my morals or intelligence. Beyond the metaphysics the pope is saying “hey, Catholics and atheists can meaningfully work together to make the world nicer”.

John:
You mean work [together] on women’s rights, contraception, homosexuality, safeguarding children, removing guilt, faith schools, blasphemy?

Rory:
Now *those* are practical beliefs where I’ll happily take to arms with you.
I don’t really see the point in getting hung up on metaphysical beliefs. What matters are practical beliefs, how we live.

John:
it is for meta-physical beliefs people think born in sin, need Jesus’ death and resurrection and will not leave their faith for hell.

Rory:
I left Catholicism myself and no one said I would go to hell, since that isn’t a catholic belief. Good people go to heaven, bad people (a very small number) to hell. Belief is not the deciding factor.

John
“only ex-Catholics who will assuredly face judgement for their apostasy are those who know their faith and grasp the truth of it” [Source] We are apostates my friend, and we are dammed. Accept my hell is non existence as a JW ūüėČ

Rory
Ah that means people who believed in God but CHOSE to go against him, eg a Catholic who turned satanist, not a sincere atheist (I guess it’s like the distinction between a conscientious objector and a coward, one sincere rebellion, the other flawed). But yes, as an ex JW, you’re fucked.

John:
if there is a celestial court I think we both will need damn good lawyers ….

Rory:
Ha let’s just hope whoever the god is takes bribes…

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

Follow @JPSargeant78

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1 Comment

Filed under Hitchens, Jehovah's Witnesses, Religion

One response to “Audio: Hitchens on Metaphysics and my conversation about

  1. Pingback: Making It Personal | Malaysia’s most comprehensive Christian news website and was launched in September 2012, incorporated with the vision of delivering up-to-date news, information, and commentaries relevant to Christians across denominational lines

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