Conversation, not conversion

I enjoy the philosophical topics for which I created this blog. I enjoy in-person discussions, ones that are easy exchanges and ones that are more like debates. Additionally, like anyone else who loves spirited interchange with bright, similarly engaged colleagues, I admit to a bit of delight in trying to best an opponent. Ironically, however, my purpose is rarely to “convert” anyone.

So it is that in this blog, I’m not driven by winning anyone over to atheism. I’m not seeking to jerk religious faith away from people whose lives are enriched by it. Despite its less savory characteristics, religion does offer for many people comfort, a sense of purpose, escape from loneliness, and a framework of right and wrong. It does those things quite apart from whether it contains a grain of truth and whether its concept of morality is straight out of the Bronze Age.

So apart from joy in recreational argument and even though not having primarily a proselytizing purpose, what is my motivation? Three things. [1] Support: To reinforce for persons fretting about their loss of faith why their worries are unwarranted. Letting go of the illusions and untruthfulness of religion can be a lonely evolution, since the “help” of the closest and dearest persons in one’s life become useless or even hurtful. [2] Attack: To strike back in protest against the frequently successful attempts of the faithful to control others’ lives including mine, i.e., going on the offence. [3] Explication: To explain, at least in my case, the sequence of thought leading to nonreligious and antireligious positions.

The first motivation, then, is to be helpful to honest “seekers” in situations wherein most or all advice available is the impassioned, seemingly authoritative, often shaming, counsel of superstition. The second motivation is to oppose the arrogance and bullying that the religious are prone to, usually without recognizing their oppressive effects, and the more so when in the majority. The third is merely educational.

I realize it is easy to confuse one of these motivations with the other. Still, these motivations are worth declaring in part because religious websites and blogs normally (maybe exclusively) do have the intent of conversion, of bringing sinners to Christ or however admission to a particular sect’s idea of salvation is stated.

By these comments, I do not mean to say there’s anything wrong with trying to convert the faithful to atheism, agnosticism, or deism. Certainly, those who do not bank on the supernatural have as much right to be evangelical as those who do. (Religious attempts to curb such reverse evangelism or even straightforward statements of secular humanism is one instance of religious bullying. Examples of this censorship, some of which I’ll focus on in later posts, abound.) It is simply that conversion is not my intent in this blog and, in fact, only rarely in my life outside this blog.

About John Bruce Carver

I am a U. S. citizen living in Atlanta, Georgia, having grown up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, graduating from Chattanooga High School. I served in the Electronic Security Command of the U. S. Air Force before receiving a B.S. degree in business/economics and an M.Ed. in educational psychology, both at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. I then completed a Ph.D. in clinical (and research) psychology at Emory University. I have two daughters and three granddaughters. An ardent international traveller, I have been in over 70 countries for business and pleasure. My reading, other than novels, tends to be in history, philosophy, government, and light science. I identify philosophically as a secular humanist, in complete awe of the universe including my fellows and myself. I am married to my best friend, Miriam, formerly of the United Kingdom and Canada.
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