New Website


Following the death of this website's founder Almon McCann, I think it appropriate to bring it to a close. It will remain active to allow further discussion on existing articles, and our authors can add new articles if they want. The 5,000 older comments that were accidentally deleted are safely backed up and when I get the time I will restore them. But I will resign as editor and not contribute any fresh material.

At Almon's request I took over this blog in 2012 when he commenced his battle with cancer. My hope was that he would recover and one day take it back from me. Unfortunately that did not happen and he passed away 5 February 2016.

I was willing to edit his blog for Almon, but I don't have any motivation or desire to continue to edit this blog as my own.

Another reason for my decision to step down as editor is the recent action of the Christadelphians to disfellowship Jonathan and Dianne Burke, Ken Gilmore and the other Christadelphians active in promoting Christadelphian Evolutionary Creationism. With those wonderful brethren gone, the Christadelphians will continue to degenerate into a bizarre fundamentalist cult who believe that the Earth was created six thousand years ago, three days before the Sun, and that Evolution never happened.

- That is too ridiculous for words. I can't muster any motivation to oppose people who believe such baloney.

My thanks for your support and I am sure that Almon would also want to thank his readers for their support. We gained almost a million page views since 2008 and helped to deconvert a good number of Christadelphians.

But my especial thanks goes to Steve Pryde for creating a wonderful new website dedicated to reasoning with Christadelphians and I am pleased to redirect our readers to his blog. Thanks Steve!


15 comments:

  1. Are there any other voices of reason within the Christadelphian movement now? I love your published: date teehee

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    1. Are there any other voices of reason within the movement? Yes, there are. I know some of them, and sometimes am one of them. I am told some of them are on special watch-lists as a result of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. I don't think I am, but you can never quite tell.

      What you can't expect is someone who is comprehensively reasonable. I hear some who sound eminently reasonable on one topic and completely unreasonable on other topics. I'm probably the same. It at least gets some of these subjects discussed.

      Personally, I don't always agree with Steve, but I know few people who have so clear a starting point for reasoning and so reasonable a style.

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    2. //I hear some who sound eminently reasonable on one topic and completely unreasonable on other topics.//

      I'd probably expect that from everyone. We're all prone to blunders now and then.

      //Personally, I don't always agree with Steve, but I know few people who have so clear a starting point for reasoning and so reasonable a style.//

      Awww, you make me blush. :P

      Thanks buddy. I think you have a pretty good voice of reason as well. :)

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    3. OK, enough compliments. Let's just agree we both think each other reasonable because we agree with each other! :)

      In all seriousness, one of the biggest problems I have been struggling with for a long time is knowing I don't have a firm basis for knowing what is true and what is false, what is right and what is wrong. Yes, I make individual decisions on what seems right to me, but it doesn't tie back to any master theory. Theoretically the basis was (and still is) the Bible. But others seemed to have a much better grasp of "We should do X because of verse Y". Even a good Bible knowledge didn't help me make those leaps. I still feel I would have great difficulty actually justifying a lot of the decisions I make. That's part of why I read with interest your articles on the basis of why we should believe or not believe certain things: because I still feel a gap.

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    4. //I don't have a firm basis for knowing what is true and what is false, what is right and what is wrong//

      Do you have a firm basis for what "right" and "wrong" mean? Is there only one? Is it a spectrum? Is the spectrum multi-dimensional? Who gets to decide? Would you accept an ethical system that made your life miserable?

      I tend to take a more pragmatic approach. I start from what I know. I am a human, and I live in a world with certain properties that I have discovered, or other humans have discovered.

      I don't know if there is a god or any kind of intelligence "out there". It therefore makes no sense to try to imagine what might be "objectively right or wrong" in the universe. The question is meaningless.

      However, as a human, I care about my own survival and my own well-being. Those can be maximized if I also care about those around me. This is the basis of empathy. If I treat other people well, hopefully they will treat me well in return, and everyone benefits. I assume they are working off a similar script, which means empathy and reciprocity work very well in practice to further my goals of health and well-being. I believe game theory backs this up as well. Societies that work together do much better than individuals acting independently.

      To cut it short, the things that are "right" for me are those things that maximize my (and hence everyone's) health and well-being, and minimize everyone's pain. Some things are not black and white. Some things are influenced by culture and society. And that's all fine with me. I don't need there to be a firm black and white answer to everything.

      //Yes, I make individual decisions on what seems right to me, but it doesn't tie back to any master theory//

      What if there isn't a master theory? What if the best you can do is to work out a way to maximize your goals via trial and error? i.e. use all of the resources at your disposal to try to improve your existence.

      When I look at the world and its history, it seems pretty clear to me that that's what everyone has been doing since the dawn of human existence.

      //Theoretically the basis was (and still is) the Bible//

      Why? This presumes that the Bible wasn't merely the product of human superstition and credulity. If you start with the premise that the Bible was the word of a god, then you've already decided what the conclusion is. It's arbitrary. You just picked a book and decided that that one was God's book. If you did the same with the Quran, guess what the result would be?

      But there's no basis for even believing that a deity would write a book, and no basis for believing that a deity would care about us, or even exist. If we start from what we know (physics, biology etc), we only have a human origin for all books. To even get to the point where you believe in a god you have to make some leaps and assertions that I just don't think are justified.

      Not saying you should agree with me. I'm generally not a fan of the word "should" in this context. Just do what works for you, providing it is sustainable.

      But if you did happen to find a reason to establish a more solid basis of right and wrong that could be demonstrated empirically and can be justified from our starting position as humans discovering things about the world through observation and inference, I'd be very interested. All the same, if it doesn't lead to a happy/healthy/fulfilling life, what's the point?

      In the meantime, you might find this interesting:
      What is truth?

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    5. At the end of the day, why do you want there to be a fixed, pre-determined right and wrong? If it turned out that there was a deity who demanded that you do things you didn't enjoy, would you want to live forever under that regime? I wouldn't. If the deity held values that you disagreed with, would you want to spend eternity with it? I wouldn't.

      It eventually boils down to the idea that you should work out what your own values are, and live by those. If it turns out that there is a deity who holds compatible values, then that's great. Otherwise, why would you care? Assuming the threat of "hell" or similar wasn't real, of course. Have to factor in the stick as well as the carrot.

      If it turns out that the deity agrees with your values, but wanted more from you, but never told you or made it clear, would you want to be with such a dishonest deity? I wouldn't.

      Thus, perhaps the only deity (I still don't really know what a deity is) I'd be interested in spending eternity with is one who accepted me for who I am. An all-powerful, all-good deity would have no trouble with that, especially if this deity made me in the first place.

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    6. You make many fair points. Rather than right or wrong, I probably mean something more like "how do I make the best decision?" (yes, "best" is still somewhat arbitrary - even if judging purely on expected outcomes, how can you really know which is the best outcome?), or even "How do I choose between A and B?" I say the Bible is theoretically my basis solely because that's part of being a Christadelphian. I know many of the questions I struggle with either have no direct answer in the Bible, or have multiple competing answers. Take for example the question of giving. Yes, the Bible encourages it (so do most systems of morality, with the caveat that you don't want to "encourage dependence"). But should you give to the ecclesia first? Should you give to those near you, or support the starving poor in Africa? Can your giving do harm to others? Can we ignore giving to the poor because "the poor will always be with us"? The Bible can be made to speak to most of these points, but which is "right" (or even if there is a "right") isn't so clear to me.

      An interesting video. Much of it well known to me. I tend to accept it, but with a "Yes, but". A "surely this isn't everything".

      Why do I want there to be a fixed, pre-determined right and wrong? Because it would be easier. Because I'm sick of struggles and doubts and not being 100% sure about anything. But yes, I also know that I would question and doubt the rules anyway. Pretty much whatever they were, or however good the outcome of following them was. I probably agree with you that there is no one master plan which handles every decision and every perplexity. But there has to be some middle ground between making every decision completely independently and having one master plan which covers all decisions. And yes, I'm aware of quite a few theories, including your mentions of game theory and cooperation vs defection. Maybe I'm just complaining it's not fair I have to think so hard to make decisions. Or that there is so much wisdom around from past people and ages that it's hard work just finding it, let alone evaluating it and putting it together into coherent pieces. I'm not really as helpless as my comment sounded. I just feel like it sometimes. Actually, I waver between feeling I'm completely lost without a compass and feeling I'm better off because I at least recognise I'm lost and know to start looking... Simple answer: It's complicated.

      As for a deity "accepting me for who I am", I don't accept me for who I am. Sure, I can see lots of character flaws in others, but also see many in myself and try to improve them. There is a place for "That's just who I am", and I think that's what you're getting at - but it's also an easy shortcut to fatalism, a thing I am already good at.

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    7. I'd really love to continue this discussion but feel it would be much better to do over a coffee on a Friday evening. One day, perhaps...

      But one thing I do feel compelled to respond to is your comment that you don't accept who you are. Character flaws are part of being human, and accepting your humanity means being happy with who you are, warts and all.

      I wouldn't describe it as "that's just who I am" because that carries with it a defeatist connotation (at least as I see it) whereas I see it in a fairly positive and forgiving light. I see myself as sufficient and "enough". I am not defective. I am not unworthy. I don't see myself as a sinner (any more. That took a while to get over). I see myself as human. Complete. Whole. I am enough for me. I still seek to improve myself and be the best I can be, but at every stage I am still 100% me, and happy to be me.

      Sometimes I do feel that I'm "not good enough" - I suffer from depression and anxiety occasionally. Less so these days thankfully. And unfortunately my religious upbringing did not help with that. It still pains me to see christians (not you) using language that describes themselves as a helpless child deferring to a parental figure. Learned helplessness was a real problem for me. I personally don't think Christianity teaches people healthy coping strategies. Perhaps it also depends on the particular way Christianity is taught etc. I think modern psychotherapy can offer more help to people than Christianity in that regard.

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    8. Btw I did offer a master plan that covers (all? Most?) decisions.

      That which benefits you, your loved ones, and/or humanity, while causing the least harm to humanity, your loved ones, and to you, is the direction to aim in. I find that a a fairly useful compass for decision making. Probably should factor in all sentient life, not just humanity, but you get the general idea.

      The reason I mentioned evolution and game theory is because they provide a logical justification or pathway towards that conclusion. I didn't just give you the master plan. I gave you its derivation ad well. ;-)

      And it is arguably somewhat objective too.

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    9. I agree, Steve. I'm not even sure I'm writing what I think clearly, and text is the wrong medium for it. I appreciate the time and thoughts, but know ultimately any action needs to come from me. Somehow.

      As for that compass, I have it too. My trouble is reading it in specific circumstances :)

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    10. We all have that difficulty. Sometimes it's good to bounce things off other people too.

      I reckon you'll be ok :-D

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  2. When Christadelphileaks is exposed will he/she have to take refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy?

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    1. No. If Christadelphileaks is linked with insiders, the most they will face is their eventual freedom.

      If not insiders, then they already have nothing to fear from the Christadelphian elite.

      Perhaps the worst fate for Christadelphileaks is if they are not exposed and have to try to live a satisfying and meaningful life as Christadelphian spies. Hehe :P

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    2. Steve: Perhaps you could ask Jonathan Burke if the Christadelphileaks is accurate?

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    3. It is pretty similar to what he shared with me.

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