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Philosophy, Evidence, and Faith: The Conversion of John C. Wright

John C. Wright

On Easter 2008, the renowned sci-fi writer John C. Wright entered the Catholic Church after a lifetime of atheism. This is his conversion story:
 
My conversion was in two parts: a natural part and a supernatural part.

Here is the natural part: first, over a period of two years my hatred toward Christianity eroded due to my philosophical inquiries.

Rest assured, I take the logical process of philosophy very seriously, and I am impatient with anyone who is not a rigorous and trained thinker. Reason is the tool men use to determine if their statements about reality are valid: there is no other. Those who do not or cannot reason are little better than slaves, because their lives are controlled by the ideas of other men, ideas they have not examined.

To my surprise and alarm, I found that, step by step, logic drove me to conclusions no modern philosophy shared, but only this ancient and (as I saw it then) corrupt and superstitious foolery called the Church. Each time I followed the argument fearlessly where it lead, it kept leading me, one remorseless rational step at a time, to a position the Church had been maintaining for more than a thousand years. That haunted me.

Second, I began to notice how shallow, either simply optimistic or simply pessimistic, other philosophies and views of life were.

The public conduct of my fellow atheists was so lacking in sobriety and gravity that I began to wonder why, if we atheists had a hammerlock on truth, so much of what we said was pointless or naive. I remember listening to a fellow atheist telling me how wonderful the world would be once religion was swept into the dustbin of history, and I realized the chap knew nothing about history. If atheism solved all human woe, then the Soviet Union would have been an empire of joy and dancing bunnies, instead of the land of corpses.

I would listen to my fellow atheists, and they would sound as innocent of any notion of what real human life was like as the Man from Mars who has never met human beings or even heard clear rumors of them. Then I would read something written by Christian men of letters, Tolkien, Lewis, or G.K. Chesterton, and see a solid understanding of the joys and woes of human life. They were mature men.

I would look at the rigorous logic of St. Thomas Aquinas, the complexity and thoroughness of his reasoning, and compare that to the scattered and mentally incoherent sentimentality of some poseur like Nietzsche or Sartre. I can tell the difference between a rigorous argument and shrill psychological flatulence. I can see the difference between a dwarf and a giant.

My wife is a Christian and is extraordinary patient, logical, and philosophical. For years I would challenge and condemn her beliefs, battering the structure of her conclusions with every argument, analogy, and evidence I could bring to bear. I am a very argumentative man, and I am as fell and subtle as a serpent in debate. All my arts failed against her. At last I was forced to conclude that, like non-Euclidian geometry, her world-view logically followed from its axioms (although the axioms were radically mystical, and I rejected them with contempt). Her persistence compared favorably to the behavior of my fellow atheists, most of whom cannot utter any argument more mentally alert than a silly ad Hominem attack. Once again, I saw that I was confronting a mature and serious world-view, not merely a tissue of fables and superstitions.

Third, a friend of mine asked me what evidence, if any, would be sufficient to convince me that the supernatural existed. This question stumped me. My philosophy at the time excluded the contemplation of the supernatural axiomatically: by definition (my definition) even the word "super-natural" was a contradiction in terms. Logic then said that, if my conclusions were definitional, they were circular. I was assuming the conclusion of the subject matter in dispute.

Now, my philosophy at the time was as rigorous and exact as 35 years of study could make it (I started philosophy when I was seven). This meant there was no point for reasonable doubt in the foundational structure of my axioms, definitions, and common notions. This meant that, logically, even if God existed, and manifested Himself to me, my philosophy would force me to reject the evidence of my senses, and dismiss any manifestations as a coincidence, hallucination, or dream. Under this hypothetical, my philosophy would force me to an exactly wrong conclusion due to structural errors of assumption.

A philosopher (and I mean a serious and manly philosopher, not a sophomoric boy) does not use philosophy to flinch away from truth or hide from it. A philosophy composed of structural false-to-facts assumptions is insupportable.

A philosopher goes where the truth leads, and has no patience with mere emotion.

But it was impossible, logically impossible, that I should ever believe in such nonsense as to believe in the supernatural. It would be a miracle to get me to believe in miracles.

So I prayed. "Dear God, I know (because I can prove it with the certainty that a geometer can prove opposite angles are equal) that you do not exist. Nonetheless, as a scholar, I am forced to entertain the hypothetical possibility that I am mistaken. So just in case I am mistaken, please reveal yourself to me in some fashion that will prove your case. If you do not answer, I can safely assume that either you do not care whether I believe in you, or that you have no power to produce evidence to persuade me. The former argues you not beneficent, the latter not omnipotent: in either case unworthy of worship. If you do not exist, this prayer is merely words in the air, and I lose nothing but a bit of my dignity. Thanking you in advance for your kind cooperation in this matter, John Wright."

I had a heart attack two days later. God obviously has a sense of humor as well as a sense of timing.

Now for the supernatural part.

My wife called someone from her Church, which is a denomination that practices healing through prayer. My wife read a passage from their writings, and the pain vanished. If this was a coincidence, then, by God, I could use more coincidences like that in my life.

Feeling fit, I nonetheless went to the hospital, so find out what had happened to me. The diagnosis was grave, and a quintuple bypass heart surgery was ordered. So I was in the hospital for a few days.

Those were the happiest days of my life. A sense of peace and confidence, a peace that passes all understanding, like a field of energy entered my body. I grew aware of a spiritual dimension of reality of which I had hitherto been unaware. It was like a man born blind suddenly receiving sight.

The Truth to which my lifetime as a philosopher had been devoted turned out to be a living thing. It turned and looked at me. Something from beyond the reach of time and space, more fundamental than reality, reached across the universe and broke into my soul and changed me. This was not a case of defense and prosecution laying out evidence for my reason to pick through: I was altered down to the root of my being.

It was like falling in love. If you have not been in love, I cannot explain it. If you have, you will raise a glass with me in toast.

Naturally, I was overjoyed. First, I discovered that the death sentence under which all life suffers no longer applied to me. The governor, so to speak, had phoned. Second, imagine how puffed up with pride you'd be to find out you were the son of Caesar, and all the empire would be yours. How much more, then, to find out you were the child of God?

I was also able to perform, for the first time in my life, the act which I had studied philosophy all my life to perform, which is, to put aside all fear of death. The Roman Stoics, whom I so admire, speak volumes about this philosophical fortitude. But their lessons could not teach me this virtue. The blessing of the Holy Spirit could and did impart it to me, as a gift. So the thing I've been seeking my whole life was now mine.

Then, just to make sure I was flooded with evidence, I received three visions like Scrooge being visited by three ghosts. I was not drugged or semiconscious, I was perfectly alert and in my right wits.

It was not a dream. I have had dreams every night of my life. I know what a dream is. It was not a hallucination. I know someone who suffers from hallucinations, and I know the signs. Those signs were not present here.

Then, just to make even more sure that I was flooded with overwhelming evidence, I had a religious experience. This is separate from the visions, and took place several days after my release from the hospital, when my health was moderately well. I was not taking any pain-killers, by the way, because I found that prayer could banish pain in moments.

During this experience, I became aware of the origin of all thought, the underlying oneness of the universe, the nature of time: the paradox of determinism and free will was resolved for me. I saw and experienced part of the workings of a mind infinitely superior to mine, a mind able to count every atom in the universe, filled with paternal love and jovial good humor. The cosmos created by the thought of this mind was as intricate as a symphony, with themes and reflections repeating themselves forward and backward through time: prophecy is the awareness that a current theme is the foreshadowing of the same theme destined to emerge with greater clarity later. A prophet is one who is in tune, so to speak, with the music of the cosmos.

The illusionary nature of pain, and the logical impossibility of death, were part of the things I was shown.

Now, as far as these experiences go, they are not unique. They are not even unusual. More people have had religious experiences than have seen the far side of the moon. Dogmas disagree, but mystics are strangely (I am tempted to say mystically) in agreement.

The things I was shown have echoes both in pagan and Christian tradition, both Eastern and Western (although, with apologies to my pagan friends, I see that Christianity is the clearest expression of these themes, and also has a logical and ethical character other religions expressions lack).

Further, the world view implied by taking this vision seriously (1) gives supernatural sanction to conclusions only painfully reached by logic (2) supports and justifies a mature rather than simplistic world-view (3) fits in with the majority traditions not merely of the West, but also, in a limited way, with the East.

As a side issue, the solution of various philosophical conundrums, like the problem of the one and the many, mind-body duality, determinism and indeterminism, and so on, is an added benefit. If you are familiar with such things, I follow the panentheist idealism of Bishop Berkeley; and, no, Mr. Johnson does not refute him merely by kicking a stone.

From that time to this, I have had prayers answered and seen miracles: each individually could be explained away as a coincidence by a skeptic, but not taken as a whole. From that time to this, I continue to be aware of the Holy Spirit within me, like feeling a heartbeat. It is a primary impression coming not through the medium of the senses: an intuitive axiom, like the knowledge of one's own self-being.

This, then, is the final answer to your question: it would not be rational for me to doubt something of which I am aware on a primary and fundamental level.

Occam's razor cuts out hallucination or dream as a likely explanation for my experiences. In order to fit these experiences into an atheist framework, I would have to resort to endless ad hoc explanations: this lacks the elegance of geometers and parsimony of philosophers.

I would also have to assume all the great thinkers of history were fools. While I was perfectly content to support this belief back in my atheist days, this is a flattering conceit difficult to maintain seriously.

On a pragmatic level, I am somewhat more useful to my fellow man than before, and certainly more charitable. If it is a daydream, why wake me up? My neighbors will not thank you if I stop believing in the mystical brotherhood of man.

Besides, the atheist non-god is not going to send me to non-hell for my lapse of non-faith if it should turn out that I am mistaken.
 
 
Originally posted at FreeRepublic.com. Used with author's permission.

John C. Wright

Written by

John C. Wright is an American author of science fiction and fantasy novels, and a Nebula Award finalist for his fantasy novel Orphans of Chaos (Tor, 2006). Publishers Weekly said he "may be this fledgling century's most important new SF talent" when reviewing his debut novel, The Golden Age (Tor, 2003). In 2008, at the age of 42, John converted from atheism to Catholicism. Follow John's writing through his blog.

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  • To the moderators: This is the worst article, by far, currently on Strange Notions. It has almost no worthwhile content, only insults, name-calling and lavish self-adulation. It flagrantly falls afoul of the commenting guidelines. If you allow it to stay up, then this article constitutes sufficient evidence that the moderators have no intention to treat atheist readers with respect, and no intention to hold Catholic writers to the same standards as you have proposed for the atheist readers.

    Now to the content, such as it is:

    > Rest assured, I take the logical process of philosophy very seriously...

    Ha. No. Give us some evidence.

    > To my surprise and alarm, I found that, step by step, logic drove me to conclusions no modern philosophy shared, but only this ancient and (as I saw it then) corrupt and superstitious foolery called the Church.

    Give examples we can learn from or think about, please, not just self-praise.

    > The public conduct of my fellow atheists was so lacking in sobriety and gravity that I began to wonder why, if we atheists had a hammerlock on truth, so much of what we said was pointless or naive.

    This is only evidence if atheists have a lower rate of sobriety and gravity, or a higher rate of pointless or naive sayings, than theists. Your anecdotal observations are very weak evidence of whether that is true. Even if it were true, it's not at all obvious that it would then be evidence in favor of theism. By all appearances, it's just an insult.

    > I would listen to my fellow atheists, and they would sound as innocent of any notion of what real human life was like as the Man from Mars who has never met human beings or even heard clear rumors of them. Then I would read something written by Christian men of letters, Tolkien, Lewis, or G.K. Chesterton, and see a solid understanding of the joys and woes of human life. They were mature men.

    Yes, we've gathered that you like casting generic team-based insults and praise. Give us some evidence that what you say is a real effect, and then if it is, some reason to think it supports your conclusion rather than just being obvious ad hominem fallacy.

    > I would look at the rigorous logic of St. Thomas Aquinas, the complexity and thoroughness of his reasoning, and compare that to the scattered and mentally incoherent sentimentality of some poseur like Nietzsche or Sartre. [I'll skip the shrill psychological flatulence that is the rest of the paragraph.]

    If you had tried to compare St. Thomas Aquinas' "rigorous logic" with, you know, actual modern logic, it would be hard not to notice that his proofs fail because they involve large numbers of unstated premises. It may have helped if you consulted atheist experts on skepticism and rationality, instead of the quasi-poetry of continental philosophers. Note that your appeal here to weakly reasoned writings of atheist is simply a form of straw man fallacy.

    > My philosophy at the time excluded the contemplation of the supernatural axiomatically: by definition (my definition) even the word "super-natural" was a contradiction in terms. Logic then said that, if my conclusions were definitional, they were circular.

    If your conclusions were derived from your axioms and were not themselves axioms, then they were not circular. But regardless, I agree that conclusions about what is real and unreal should not be settled by the axioms. They should be settled by the methods of plausible reasoning, using priors that do not set any conclusion out of evidential reach.

    > But it was impossible, logically impossible, that I should ever believe in such nonsense as to believe in the supernatural.

    When you determined this, you should have revisted your axioms and converted them to beliefs with levels of confidence proportionate to the evidence.

    > I had a heart attack two days later. God obviously has a sense of humor as well as a sense of timing.

    That it's "obvious" is flatly untrue. What was the expected rate for someone in your physical condition having a heart attack or other significant life event in a time period short enough that it might seem relevant to your prayer? What was the expected rate for God to give heart attacks to someone in your spiritual condition? For the evidence to be "obvious", the latter would have to be much higher than the former. I'm inclined to think the latter is much lower than the former, and so, even ignoring Occam's razor issues, the heart attack would count as evidence against God's involvement.

    > My wife read a passage from their writings, and the pain vanished. If this was a coincidence, then, by God, I could use more coincidences like that in my life.

    It could be coincidental timing, especially since the pain from heart attacks is short-lived. Psychosomatic effects were also involved, including attention on the readings distracting you from the pain, your wife calming and comforting you, and suggestion -- all of which are real effects. If this is evidence for something supernatural, then it's nevertheless weak evidence.

    > Those were the happiest days of my life. A sense of peace and confidence ... I grew aware of a spiritual dimension of reality of which I had hitherto been unaware. ... I received three visions like Scrooge being visited by three ghosts ... I had a religious experience ... I became aware of the origin of all thought, the underlying oneness of the universe, the nature of time: the paradox of determinism and free will was resolved for me. I saw and experienced part of the workings of a mind infinitely superior to mine ... The illusionary nature of pain, and the logical impossibility of death, were part of the things I was shown

    So, a middle-aged man having deep philosophical angst, somewhat isolated from his wife by his opinions, laid low with life-threatening health problems, given plenty of time and rest for reflection, taken care of by countless staff 24/7, had a completely standard mystical experience, such as could replicated by pretty much anyone with a few cents' worth of LSD. Which is likelier: that the extreme stresses that often produce such effects in the brain did so again here, or that God gave the self-adoring Wright lots of personal attention in ways he doesn't give to healthy people?

    > I was not drugged or semiconscious, I was perfectly alert and in my right wits. ... I know someone who suffers from hallucinations, and I know the signs. Those signs were not present here.

    These claims are of no merit unless someone else was present, has no social pressure to affirm your one-on-one-time with God, and can affirm that you were alert and not hallucinating. The reason is too obvious: if you're drugged or semiconscious or hallucinating, it's other people that notice the signs, not you. Introspection is extremely unreliable.

    > If you are familiar with such things, I follow the panentheist idealism of Bishop Berkeley

    Oh, nice. I quite like Berkeley's idealism, though obviously I don't find the additional complexity of panentheism to add anything explanatorily useful; a panprotopsychist account is at least simpler. But I don't "follow" it so much as attempt to hold it with confidence proportional to the evidence, and consider its explanatory power as somewhat higher than the alternatives.

    > I found that prayer could banish pain in moments ... From that time to this, I have had prayers answered and seen miracles: each individually could be explained away as a coincidence by a skeptic, but not taken as a whole.

    You should have documented the cases, then, as well as the unanswered prayers. It's clear from the overall article that no one should accept your experiential claims at face value.

    > I would also have to assume all the great thinkers of history were fools. While I was perfectly content to support this belief back in my atheist days, this is a flattering conceit difficult to maintain seriously.

    This is wrong on two counts. First, the great thinkers of past history worked with what they knew then, not what we know now. We know more now. Second, due to differences in the availability of education, most great thinkers of history are alive today, and they are majority atheists, and you do seem to be counting them as fools.

    > On a pragmatic level, I am somewhat more useful to my fellow man than before, and certainly more charitable.

    If the insults that are so much of this article are "more charitable", then I'm glad we aren't subjected to the old you.

    > Besides, the atheist non-god is not going to send me to non-hell for my lapse of non-faith if it should turn out that I am mistaken.

    No, but you might unnecessarily waste your life on falsehoods, which many people think is contrary to the good life. And you might saddle doubting believer with unnecessary years of religious guilt. And you might write an article full of insults toward atheists, and in general support the parts of our culture that would deny justice to atheists.

    • articulett

      I would expect articles exactly like this at this site-- I mean what else have they got? All religious sites have these sort of self-serving stories. Mormon sites are full of them (they calll it testimony and imagine it's a personal communication from god telling them for certain that the Mormon church is the one true church.) If you really want to learn about a religion though-- go to sites for ex believers in those religions!

      I think all religionists think that people of their faith are more moral than those who don't share the faith and that you can't be truly happy unless you believe as they do. It's hard to keep faith in today's world unless you confirm this bias. But they HAVE to-- just like the Muslims... because they believe in a god that will punish them if they don't.

      I always want to ask atheists who become believers of some sort how they go from believing in no invisible beings to deciding that some are real...how do they go about figuring which invisible beings to "believe in". To me it would be like trying to make myself believe in Santa again.

      • Leila Miller

        As to your last point, there are no adults who start to believe in Santa again, but plenty who start to believe in God. To me, that implies that there is something quite different between the latter and the former.

        • Andre Boillot

          Though, given the penalties associated with not believing in him, one wonders why so many adults refuse to believe in Santa.

    • Michael Murray

      Thanks NoahLuck for taking the time to write that response. Not sure I would have had the energy. It really does seem to be a case of "is this your best shot". Stalin was an atheist? Is that the depth of their argument? Even if it was true that Stalin's atrocities arose from his single minded pursuit of the atheism "cause" it doesn't mean there is a god. It might just be that there is no god and that atheism is a dangerous philosophy. There is no logical contradiction there.

      It seems to me all the articles so far are written for Catholics. Sort of team member support and bonding articles that assume all readers are all basically in agreement. At one level I don't mind that -- I see lots of atheist articles like that -- but it isn't what this website claimed to be about.

      But StrangeNotions.com is different. Our goal is not to defeat anyone, embarrass them, or assault their character. Our goal is only the Truth, and to pursue it through fruitful discussion

    • Cake

      Don't forget the execrable Pascals Wager at the end.

  • josh

    "...the scattered and mentally incoherent sentimentality of some poseur..."

    "It was like falling in love. If you have not been in love, I cannot explain it."

    Incidentally, if your entire motivation for 'studying philosophy all your life' is a fear of death, you shouldn't be too surprised to land on an emotionally appealing mysticism that promises you continued existence after a heart attack.

    "During this experience, I became aware of the origin of all thought, the
    underlying oneness of the universe, the nature of time: the paradox of
    determinism and free will was resolved for me. I saw and experienced
    part of the workings of a mind infinitely superior to mine, a mind able
    to count every atom in the universe, filled with paternal love and
    jovial good humor. The cosmos created by the thought of this mind was as
    intricate as a symphony, with themes and reflections repeating
    themselves forward and backward through time: prophecy is the awareness
    that a current theme is the foreshadowing of the same theme destined to
    emerge with greater clarity later. A prophet is one who is in tune, so
    to speak, with the music of the cosmos."

    What's funny is that I have had people recount drug-induced experiences in almost exactly the same terms. And of course you can go and find the equivalent testimonies for any religion. Or put your head under a powerful magnet. What's lacking is that these self proclaimed bodhisattvas never can articulate the rational, compelling insights that were revealed to them.

    It's not the experiences of Mr. Wright or others that I doubt. It's the interpretation.

  • josh

    "...the scattered and mentally incoherent sentimentality of some poseur..."

    "It was like falling in love. If you have not been in love, I cannot explain it."

    Incidentally, if your entire motivation for 'studying philosophy all your life' is a fear of death, you shouldn't be too surprised to land on an emotionally appealing mysticism that promises you continued existence after a heart attack.

    "During this experience, I became aware of the origin of all thought, the
    underlying oneness of the universe, the nature of time: the paradox of
    determinism and free will was resolved for me. I saw and experienced
    part of the workings of a mind infinitely superior to mine, a mind able
    to count every atom in the universe, filled with paternal love and
    jovial good humor. The cosmos created by the thought of this mind was as
    intricate as a symphony, with themes and reflections repeating
    themselves forward and backward through time: prophecy is the awareness
    that a current theme is the foreshadowing of the same theme destined to
    emerge with greater clarity later. A prophet is one who is in tune, so
    to speak, with the music of the cosmos."

    What's funny is that I have had people recount drug-induced experiences in almost exactly the same terms. And of course you can go and find the equivalent testimonies for any religion. Or put your head under a powerful magnet. What's lacking is that these self proclaimed bodhisattvas never can articulate the rational, compelling insights that were revealed to them.

    It's not the experiences of Mr. Wright or others that I doubt. It's the interpretation.

  • John:

    My congratulations to you for a beautifully written article, one which recalled in some aspects my own the road of (initial) intellectual conversion, subsequently "accompanied by signs confirming".

    All the atheist sourpusses below are understandably invested in tossing as many peanuts from the gallery as possible in the face of powerful, personal, and convincing testimonies such as yours.

    I remember how much fun I used to have scorning and maligning Christians.

    Most of these folks never bothered to get into a debate with me- the most memorable of them simply repeated, with maddening simplicity and serenity, every time I challenged him:

    "I'm praying for you, Rick".

    Well, he probably will never know it this side of eternity, but......

    He won.

    :-)

    • Michael Murray

      atheist sourpusses

      Rick this atheist sourpuss is growing tired of your gratuitous insults and I expect others are as well. There are lots of place on the internet where atheists and theists can insult each other. Twitter for example. If I understand Brandon's intent this is not one of them.

  • CrismusCactus

    I almost believed this site was serious... Then I read this.

  • This article presents a good case for what I call "Personal Evidence." I wrote about this on my blog back in September. Basically, people can come to see their own subjective experience as evidential even though is it not objectively transferable to others and represents a sample space no greater than one (themselves). If a string of events happen to someone by chance that that persons chooses to interpret as the action of the supernatural, you probably won't be able to dissuade them. In a population of billions of people in the world, this is going happen even when the odds it would happen to any given person is like winning the lottery. When it does happen to people, they tend to reinforce and be reinforced by other people of faith. When such stories are collected and retold, the sampling is further skewed so as to make the picture seem even more supportive of the supernatural interpretation.

    John Wright is listed as a professional fantasy writer. Nothing in his article would preclude the events he describes from being due to chance, placebo and psychosomatic effects, and/or the part of this brain that is so good at creating fantasy getting ahead of the part that usually keeps us from fooling ourselves.

    • Michal

      Slavoj Zizek proposed something interesting related to this. He described religious belief as a purely performative system, where although no one really believes the official dogma, everyone acts as if to protect the innocence of someone who does genuinely believe. The genuinely faithful subject can be purely fictional, but as long as everyone believes that SOMEONE really believes, the belief and its expressions continue to function in a social sense.

      Is it possible that both Wright and the neighbor you talk about in your blog are merely giving a performance meant to somehow affect those who witness it (as well as the performers themselves), and could these social performances serve some other need besides the expression of genuine belief?

      • Ben

        See also the concept of "belief in belief": http://lesswrong.com/lw/i4/belief_in_belief/

      • That is possible, and we do have testimonials from ex-clergy who tell of being stuck doing that for years. In these two cases, I suspect the belief is genuine, as far as they know, themselves.

      • msmischief

        In plain English, he assumed they didn't believe and started to explain why they are so silly as to act as if they do, instead of knuckling down to explain why they do believe, which is harder.

  • thursday

    What a great article! It seems to have offended the zealots. I'm not sure what article they read as this one sounds nothing like their descriptions. Thanks for sharing your beautiful conversion story.

    • I read it pretty carefully, actually. It is a classic bit of special pleading with extra sentiment and tearjerking self pity to boot. Since I've read some of Wright's other blog posts I can assure you that if someone were to frighten him out of his new found religion and back into his old supposed logical atheism he wouldn't become a worse person. He never altered his basic attitude towards other human beings which is contempt for them--especially for women who aren't feminine by his standards. He simply transferred his contempt from believers to atheists. He remains, as he always was, an authoritarian personality in search of a group to oppress, and a stronger group to cling to for protection. C'est tout.

      • Foster

        Eye-witness testimony is not the same thing as special pleading. Mr. Wright is guilty of the former, and not the latter. Special pleading is when you cite something as an exception to a rule or principle without giving the reason for making it an exception. Wright gave the reason: a personal experience(s) he had. Why do you think Mr. Wright has contempt for his fellow human beings? Quotes might help me understand.

        • This is a year old thread. I think you can do your own homework on Wright. Google is your friend.

          • Foster

            Well, since that is your answer, I will come out and say that I have read Wright, and I suspect you slander him. He respects atheists more than most Christians I know. This article is a good example: http://www.scifiwright.com/2015/05/virtuous-atheism-and-partial-truth/

          • I don't think that the issue is whether someone "respects" atheists. Its true that in the linked piece Wright smears and attacks his actual former friends and atheists but I don't really care about that. Its just typical of the kind of authoritarian personality that some atheists and many right wingers share: everyone is either entirely with you or against you, they are brilliant when you agree with them and morons when they don't.

            I, too, have read Wright's work and since his conversion he despises everyone who has not had his personal conversion experience and ended up in the same place religiously, politically, and emotionally despite--as people have pointed out--the fact that his conversion experience is completely boilerplate, typical of someone with a weak mind and a weak (if blustery and pompous) set of values and principles who gets stampeded towards belief out of a fear of death.

            Wright's righting is tedious, overwrought, purple prose meant to advance a narrow, meanspirited, anti woman and anti modernity perspective. They read like a combination grand guignole and hallmark card and all in the service of the most doctrinaire, reactionary, arch catholicism. And not only does he write this stuff--and reading it is like being forced to eat the minutes of the annual meeting of the autodidacts and would be Chesterton writes like H.P. Lovecraft club--but he wants to be loved and respected for it. Or, failing that, feared for it.

            In reality most normal people--people who love literature, or writing, or science fiction, or women, or modernity,--just shrug their shoulders and laugh.

          • Foster

            First, I think it's hilarious that you're talking this way about a 7-times Hugo nominated writer (all of them after his conversion), who has very good ratings on all his Amazon-available works, both pre- and post-conversion. You're overselling the act a little bit, I'm afraid. Second, you just blatantly contradicted yourself between two paragraphs. First you say that it doesn't matter if someone respects or disrespects atheists (which contradicts what you said a year ago, when you complained that Wright has "contempt" for them) then you return to complaining how Wright "despises" atheists, again without providing any quotes. We're just supposed to take it on faith. Well, I'm sorry, but my observations contradict your faith, and I am asking anyone else reading to do their own research before they blindly swallow your smears.

          • Why would you think that Hugo Award nominations (which I understand from following Wright and the Sad Puppies are a terrible thing, completely undeserved by their winners) would be the measure of anything? And why should anyone care about Amazon ratings from somebody's customers? Obviously some people like the kind of writing Wright does--why not? No one ever went broke underestimating the stupidity of the reading public. You seem really overinvolved in Wright and his reputation. I'm sure you like his stuff. I don't. I have no problem with anyone reading Wright to find out whether they like him or not. I'm not boycotting him or encouraging a boycott. I just have standards which he doesn't meet and I find him, in his political incarnation, a terrible person advocating for terrible policies. If he were a great writer I'd read his stuff regardless--I still enjoy Ender's Game even though I dislike its author's politics--but Wright isn't a great writer and his books are, to me, trite and overwrought. Your mileage may vary. You really need to stop letting other people on the internet upset you. I can assure you that there are literally millions of people out there who don't share your views so if you spend time contradicting every one of them you won't have time to worship at the feet of Wright.

          • Foster

            Well, I was going to write something mean, but thought better of it. Have a nice day.

  • wow. the comments o this board... I guess this is what happens to Apostates of the Atheist Church.

    • Danny Getchell

      Actually, what we're seeing here is that the distance between

      "I'm a atheist philosopher and a genius, and all you Christians are yammering fools"

      and

      "I'm now a Christian philosopher and a genius, and all you atheists are yammering fools"

      is a pretty short distance indeed.

  • Chance Boudreaux

    Atheists seem like such an unhappy lot, even though they (think) they know eveything.

    • Doug Shaver

      I am an atheist. I am at least as happy as most Christians I know, I don't think I know everything, and I know countless other atheists who are just like me in those respects.

      • Chance Boudreaux

        The classic Not All Are Like That Defense. Listen if you aren't a smug Atheist then good on you mate.

        • Doug Shaver

          Classic? Sure. It's been around forever because the accusation that we're all alike has been around forever.

  • Read Menace

    I've been following Mr. Wright's conversion for some time now. In a post on his blog (http://www.scifiwright.com/2013/02/mike-the-martian-and-the-attack-of-the-argumentroid), Mr. Wright wrote the following:

    "In a book of the Bible I had not read before (atheist do not normally pore through the Bible, after all) I came across a passage I had never read and never heard any Christian ever make reference to in my hearing. The passage is from John 5:22 “For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son.”

    This is almost word for word what Christ said to me. "

    Now, I've always wondered -- why hadn't he read that book? Mr. Wright attended St. John's College. St. John's follows a Great Books program. The Gospel of John is currently on the sophomore reading list at St. John's. I'm assuming that their Great Books reading list hasn't changed since Mr. Wright attended. (My assumption could be wrong, but I think that unlikely. This could be verified.) Mr. Wright also seems like the kind of fellow that would actually complete his assigned readings. So, if the Gospel of John was on his college program's reading list, and that reading list is one of the main reasons for attending that college, Mr. Wright should have read it. He claims he didn't. Why not? I believe that it is highly likely that he read the Gospel of John, and then forgot he read it until part of it came back to him years later. I know this is absolutely possible because a similar situation happened to me, although I don't believe there was any supernatural aspect in my case.

  • Eddie Perez

    Haha! Reading the comments reminds me daily why people who don't believe in GOD continually argue with it's material or someone of faith..LIke THEY cornered the market on LIFE or reality or happiness. LOL! Seems to me whatever is good for someone there are those that constantly try to bring them down. Don't believe in the subject? Why even contend with it? Contending with it only reflects your character and lack of acceptance in a world that's so much bigger than you. ppftttt I have spoken....nuff said

    • M. Solange O’Brien

      I'm sorry, but none of that made any sense.

      • Thanks for your insightful comment. I loved how you you refuted point-by-point each claim.

        • Michael Murray

          Not much point in replying to atheists who have posted a year ago. Most of them have been banned. You can find M. Solange O'Brien over here now.

          outshine-the-sun.blogspot.com

  • A3Kr0n

    I don't know why I got an email link to this, but I see nothing new here. How does Occam's razor cut out hallucinations or dreams as a likely explanation for your experiences? The simplest explanation is that it was a hallucination during your medical emergency. I'd would rather know the truth than live in a daydream, or believing in the mystical brotherhood of man. Lastly, I can't believe you pulled out Pascal's wager in the last sentence. What if you die and find out you've been worshiping the wrong God? What makes your God belief true, and other beliefs false?