Queer and Queerer Ep. 22 – Reeking of Faith

Zack talked about atheism with Marvin back in Episode 6, and now it’s Peterson’s turn to talk about faith as a Christian and a Quaker. Then, the two delve into the muck in this extended episode! The Zack-Peterson rapport’s gotten particularly spicy! In this exciting discussion, Zack challenges Peterson about faith and Peterson challenges Zack about his (lack of) faith. Of course it goes unresolved… to be continued another day. Share your own thoughts about faith on the Queer and Queerer post or on the Queer and Queerer Facebook page!

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  1. wilfuloptimist on September 10, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Great podcast this week! I normally turn off the radio where the neverending God Vs Dawkins debate begins. This is probably the first time I can remember enjoying the discussion. I had a friend of mine over for dinner last night. He is a Catholic priest and I’ve been friends with him for over a decade. He is someone I really love and respect and yet as a Northern Irish Protestant sometime I feel he is from a foreign country to me. It got me to wondering last night if maybe that was a good way to approach things sometimes. Perhaps it might stop us feeling like faith is simply a matter of choice (I’ve included the word ‘simply’ on purpose).

    The analogy isn’t a brilliant one, it’s just something that occurred to me; in NI religion and culture are linked to the extent that it is possible for someone to call themselves a Catholic atheist. This is a phenomenon that is often mocked but actually I think it reveals something very poignant about culture and cultural difference. We might wish that religion would just disappear but culture and tradition, because we are human, will continue. To me and to many people religion is part of that, beyond all the arguments about what causes badness or goodness in people’s hearts is something that some of us are inclined to, it is our language, a carrier of/ and expression of our selves, rather than something that defines us.

    I have the same problem with prescriptive religion as most atheists, but so do a great many Christians that I know, and those Christians may also know that a religion that tells people who they are is not the whole story.

  2. paul on September 12, 2010 at 8:21 am

    Great podcast boys. I like podcasts, but they are harder to respond to because one has to rely on memory… can’t cut and paste. Memory is a dangerous thing in the hands of some.

    Every time I see the title of your program (“Queer and Queerer”), my mind does a Lewis Carroll and changes it to Queerer and Queerer.

    I had some exchanges with Noam Chomsky a few years back about how we determine truth, and faith came into the conversation. Noam made the comment: “I have nothing against faith. We could not live for a moment without it. Outside of arithmetic, we can only make best guesses about the truth. Faith in science is reasonable because of the depth of its theoretical explanations and the empirical evidence that supports them. Religion is in a completely different domain. These considerations don’t arise.”

    The point is, the word “faith,” though it is often fraught with religious connotation, can be used in a secular sense. E.e., you have faith that when you take your next step, you won’t fall into a bottomless pit, etc..

    I found myself agreeing with both of you. I deconverted from fundamentalist Christianity about years ago now, at which time I did a stint as a contributor to “debunking Christianity.”
    Yet, I cannot quite extricate myself from magical thinking. I often quip that I pray to my ceiling fan (it’s above my bed, and isn’t that where “God” resides? “above?”).

    Stuff happens when I pray. Of course, “stuff happens” when I don’t pray also. Stuff happens. I cannot reasonably substantiate which comes first.

    Peterson, you attribute your disposition to “wiring.” Which kind of begs the question: “how did you get wired that way?” We TBLQG folk should be expert on the whole nature/nurture question. It seems to me that much of your “faith” is a cultural choice? Not unlike what wilfuloptimist describes above (ah, “above,” maybe wilfuloptimist is God?). You seem to say as much when acknowledge had you been born in a different culture, you might be “Buddhist.” You lean on the idea of a “historical” Jesus when assuming the title “Christian.” You understand the fatal flaw of fundamentalism (i.e., belief in the inerrancy of the bible). But the challenge of assuming a historical Jesus is our “history” of what is commonly attributed to Jesus is biblically based (or based on other Christian literature that didn’t make the cut). There may be more hysterical than historical in our modern notions of Jesus. You simply cannot find corroborating history on our modern, broadly defined and explained Jesus.

    Zach makes the essential point: method. What method does a “Christian” have to substantiate what is indeed Christ like if one cannot substantiate Christ? And if one cannot substantiate either, how can one logically assume the name?

    Still, I think I get it Peterson. I do pray, I just cannot say who or what to.

  3. p2son on September 16, 2010 at 5:47 am

    Ah Shirley, thank you so much for this comment. I especially appreciate hearing about your friend and the insights that emerged from your meal together. I like the approach and believe it can be quite helpful. THANKS for listening–we need to have you on the show sometime soon 🙂

  4. p2son on September 16, 2010 at 5:50 am

    Paul, I particularly relate to your final statement, “do pray, I just cannot say who or what to.” Somethings are mysteries, at least for the time being or for always. Just because something is a mystery doesn’t necessarily make it a fantasy as well. Living in the state of unknowing for sure is perhaps the most honest place for all of us, and at the end of the day, it is not about what we believe but how we live.

    Thank you for the insightful comments.

  5. ZackFord on September 20, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Just out of curiosity here: If something has no rational basis, no demonstrable evidence, and derives its significance only because the human brain is designed to look for meaning even when it isn’t there… how is that not fantasy?

    There are a lot of things I don’t know and may never know. That doesn’t mean I have to fill those gaps with nonsense to have a meaningful life. 🙂

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