Monday, June 25, 2012

An Interview with Hausdorff

The following is an interview with Hausdorff of Hausdorff's Bible Blog.

Have you always been a nonbeliever? If not, what were you before and what was most influential in your change?

I have not always been a nonbeliever, I grew up as an evangelical christian. Pretty early on, I remember a lot of things about the religion that didn't make sense to me. I started asking question at around age 10 and my parents reacted in a pretty extreme manner. I decided never to talk to them about it again and just thought about my issues with the religion. I would say I didn't really consider myself an atheist until about age 19. If I had to pick one thing that was influential in my change, I guess it would be the problem of evil as it was the first step in a long journey. I've written about this topic in more detail here.

Each day, you take a bit of the Bible and post a summary along with commentary. So far, you’ve made it through the Gospels and Acts. Which is your favorite and least favorite Gospel? Why?

That's a difficult question. The worst thing about going through the gospels was the repetitiveness of it, so Matthew has an unfair advantage just from being first and John has an unfair disadvantage from being last. I would say that Mark was my least favorite because there was the least amount of original material (you can see here that when you read Mark you are only getting 6% new stuff). I almost skipped John when I got to it, but I'm glad I didn't because there was some things in it that I found interesting.

Reading the Bible straight through is a completionist exercise I doubt many believers have accomplished. Most seem to take short snippets from church as a sufficient knowledge of scripture. What is to gain from taking the whole text in context?

My motivation to start this project was hearing from Christians about all of the good stuff in the bible and from atheists about all of the bad stuff in the bible. I was curious what the real mix is. Is there a whole bunch of good stuff with a few bad things mixed in, is there a whole bunch of bad stuff with a few good things mixed in? What is the real proportion? So far, I think it is a fairly even mix of good and bad with a lot of boring stuff as filler. (well actually, it seems to me that there is a bit more bad than good, but lets be honest, no matter how much I try to eliminate it, I have a bias). I have also just picked up some facts about the bible that are nice to know. It has helped me in discussions with theists a few times already, they will say "Jesus never said that", and I can say "yes he did, here is the verse". 

Like the Bible, you read The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis. Lewis seems to be the wise wordsmith of the apologetic movement. He’s like the late Carl Sagan was to science. In your opinion, just how wise is Lewis?

Lewis was completely unimpressive. I was expecting some interesting arguments, but all I read was logical fallacy after logical fallacy. I am hopeful that I was simply unlucky and chose a poor example of his work, but my best guess is that people hear that he is a good Christian writer and simply recommend his work without reading it themselves.

As atheists, we often talk about the harm caused by religion. What do you see as the primary benefit of religion, if any?

I usually don't think about this side of this issue, good question. I guess the largest benefit of religion is instant community. My wife and I are moving to a new place soon, and the scariest part of it (apart from the fact that it is the first time we will both live in a place where it snows) is that with our busy scheduled we might have trouble making friends. It would be a lot easier if we spent an hour a week going to church and meeting people there.

Who is your atheist role model? Why?

Matt Dillahunty, hands down. He is great at debating, and he does a great job of letting people express themselves without holding the whole conversation captive. It is a hard line to walk and he does a great job. I assume that everyone reading your blog is aware of the atheist experience, but if anyone is not they should check it out

Is there anything that would convince you that there is a god? If so, provide an example.

I've actually answered this question with a blog post here. The short version is that I cannot think of anything that would convince me that God exists. But if God is truly real, I think he should be able to come up with something.

1 comment:

  1. Great Interview Hausdorff. Your blog is excellent. I really enjoy the bible verses, as it has been a long time since I have sat down and read the bible--and never did it cover to cover.

    I live where it snows...a lot (MN)'s fun, you will love it!