Sunday, April 4, 2010

De-conversion story 5

A reader sent me this:

A while back I said that I was trying to de-convert a 'liberal' christian, and that I was rather close. Well, I've done it. I'm so proud. I don't want to post it on my blog, for fear that he reads it, draws the wrong conclusion, and I lose a good friend. oh, and btw, this'll be long. For the sake of my story, I'll refer to him as Xian.

I'll start by pointing out the few factors that made this possible. First, this website, for giving me all the information I needed against circular logic and strawman arguments. Second, he wasn't a fundamental christian, so he was completely blinded by faith (Admin's note: I assume the author means wasn't completely blinded by faith). Third, he already was thinking about things in a rational way. And finally, I told him about the debates I was having with some fundamentalists.

When I first met him, he was just out of high school, and starting university. Me being in my 4th year, decided to show him around, and help him out with study orginasation, and what-not. We were fast friends, and ended up meeting up whenever we could. We'd discuss things ranging from art to music to science. It was a little odd, but for the first few weeks, I didn't even know he was christian. I guess I assumed he was atheist.

One day he was wearing a cross around his neck, so I asked: "So, do you believe that stuff?", pointing to the cross. His reply was "Yeah, of course. Don't you?"

This is what you'd call an awkward moment. I wasn't sure how to say it, but realised I'd have to... Now that I think about it, my response could have been better. "Pffft, no", was not particularly tolerant. But it worked, and from that point we'd on occasion talk about it. He tried to determine why I didn't believe, while I tried to determine why he did.

Then a chance encounter changed the way I would see deconversion. I met up with 2 fundamentalists. They were particularly good at pinpointing weakness, and latching on. After one particularly draining encounter (I posted about it), I went to meet Xian. He noticed my general downheartedness, and tried to cheer me up. I explained what happened, and he, as an already thinking person, decided to help me with thier arguments.

The next debate took a strange turn then. I'd meet the fundamentalists alone, and we'd debate as per usual, however, I'd occationally have a bible verse or two to throw at them from a christian perspective. The next day, I met with Xian to talk about how it went. I found him reading the Greatest Show on Earth. When questioned, he told me that he was a little scared because he wasn't sure if god existed.

Anyone who gets to this point has really got to tread carefully. I person who just regained his sight won't want to look at bright lights and flashy things. I knew what it's like to be scared (for different reasons, but still), so I closed the book, took him somewhere quiet, and asked him to tell me why. His response will never leave my mind. "God is illogical.".

He was obviously confused, on the verge of tears, shaking wih rage, but still smiling. In roder to allay his fears a little, I pointed to a nearby tree. I asked him to look at it, and tell me whether it's any less beautiful. He didn't answer, but instead seemedd to draw within himself. He left me alone.

A couple days later, he came up to me and told that the tree is more beautiful, because it managed to survive without help from something else. I gave him a pat on the back, laughed in relief, and we went to have lunch. He's been reading some of the easier athiestic tomes, such as an Illustrated History of Time, and The God Delusion since that day, and wants to learn more.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Should he be allowed to continue to work with children?

An article from the news today:

WINDSOR, Ont. — A Canadian teacher who pleaded guilty to sex crimes Thursday is remorseful and hopes to one day resume his work, his lawyer said.

The teacher, John Duarte, who once taught at a school in southwestern Ontario, was convicted of sexual interference involving three teens in Haiti between 2000 and 2006. 

He was sentenced to 18 months in jail, with credit for 10 months already served, followed by three years on strict probation. 

His lawyer, Andrew Bradie, said Duarte was remorseful and had made a step forward. 

"He's a person who can do tremendous things and help; on the other hand he had this weakness," Bradie said. 

"I'm hopeful somewhere down the road when he is released, finished his probation, he'll resume the compassionate work he can do to help the community, this one or somewhere else." 

Duarte was arrested in the Dominican Republic in October 2009 and extradited to Canada to face the charges related to the sexual exploitation of boys in Haiti. 

Court was told he gave money and gifts, including the promise of payments for schooling, in exchange for sexual favours. 

Duarte taught at schools in London, Leamington, St. Clair Beach and Windsor -- all in southwestern Ontario -- before moving to Haiti in 2003.

How does that sound to you? It seems that this sex-offender who preys on children would like to continue his work teaching children in the future.  His lawyer also thinks he should be allowed to continue teaching, because he's good at it, but merely has a weakness.  Isn't that disgusting?  I think even the religious would agree with me on this one.  They wouldn't want their kids being taught by this man, isn't that right?  And I think it's safe to say that they don't think he should ever be allowed in a classroom again.

Now here's the punchline.  I changed a few words in this article, specifically in the first, second and last paragraphs.  This sex offender was not a teacher, but a Catholic priest.  He was in Haiti doing missionary work.  How does it sound now?  Shall we all forgive him and let him continue to serve, because he's a religious man doing religious work?  Surely we should just send him to a different village/country to continue his humanitarian work, and forget this whole incident ever happened.  Perhaps we should even give him an award for being the Catholic priest who has molested the FEWEST children.  I mean, only 3?  That's pretty good!

You can read the original, unaltered article here.

It's just a theory?!

One of my favourite hobbies is scuba diving.  I often say that learning to dive is the best thing I've ever done in my whole life.  It's tremendously fun, and has taken me to parts of the world I might never have visited otherwise.  I just got back from a great diving vacation, to one of the premier dive spots on Earth.  Nobody ever said it was a cheap hobby, unfortunately.

So what happened after I got back was totally devastating for me.  I was on the PADI (a popular diver certification organisation) website, and noticed they had a new online course called Dive Theory.  Here is a screenshot:

It turns out, scuba diving is just a theory!  PADI, the #1 certification organisation in the world, flat-out ADMITS IT on their website!  All of that time I spent underwater, and for what?!  A stupid theory?!  How could they do this to me?  Now that I stop and think about it, I'm not sure I can even prove that I've ever been diving at all!  I mean, I have all of these underwater photos, and I have all of this damp gear sitting on my apartment floor, but if diving is just a theory, they can't possibly be real or have any meaning.

I'm going to write to my government's Minister of Recreational Education to suggest... no, INSIST, that this one-sided view of scuba diving not be presented to our children without a counter-view for balance.  We must teach the controversy!  We should also mandate by law that all diving-textbook publishers carry a warning sticker that clearly indicates that scuba diving is just a theory which has not been proven, and that students should approach the topic with an open mind.