steve davis

Few people, if any, have had as clear of an impact on how I do theology as Dr. Steven Davis.  Steve (he said I could call him that now) taught theology and Christian apologetics at Manhattan Christian College while I was doing my undergrad work there.  He was instrumental in providing me with a systematic framework for understanding both what I believe and why, and his classes were easily my favorites.

As of this year, however, Steve no longer works at MCC.  In fact, he’s no longer a Christian.  In a recent podcast with some other MCC alumni (here and here), he came out (as it were) as an atheist.  Which, of course, made me think, “Huh.  Now isn’t that interesting?  I wonder how that happened.”

Steve has graciously agreed to do a series of Q&As with me.  So here it is.

Oh.  Also, I’d love to hear from the readers any questions or thoughts that you have.  Feel free to leave your mark in the comments section below, or shoot me an email.  Or if you’d like to talk to Dr. Davis directly, hit him up either on Facebook or Twitter.

Alright, without further ado…

 


Most of my readers don’t know who you are. If you could, please briefly share your personal story with us. How did you get to where you’re at today? I know that cognitive dissonance can be a really painful thing. So talk to us about what was going on, both externally and internally.

I was raised in a family of devout Christians, and I was thoroughly involved in the life and ministry of the church for most of my 55 years on this earth. In addition, I hold two bachelor’s degrees, a master’s degree, and a doctoral degree, all conferred by conservative/evangelical colleges and seminaries. I was a pastor for 15 years, and I taught theology and apologetics at a Christian college for 14 years. Even though I’ve left out a plethora of details, my point here is to demonstrate that I was an ardent Christ-follower and a faithful pastor/teacher for much of my life. However, I recently revealed publically that I’m no longer a Christian or even a theist. You’re probably wondering what would convince someone like me to move from a position of devout Christian theism to my current non-theistic position. I hope to sufficiently outline that process of “de-conversion” in the paragraphs that follow.1

As I’ve assessed the last 25+ years of my life it became clear to me that four important concepts presented to me during my formal education and one professional task that I was engaged in acted together as five guiding principles that became instrumental in moving me from convinced theist to confident non-theist. The intellectual process was not as brief or as clean as it appears to be in outline form, but my hope is that what follows will give you some insight into my journey.2

Guiding Principle #1: The Truth Has Nothing to Fear!

I attended Ozark Christian College (hereafter OCC) in Joplin, MO. I chose to attend OCC due to the school’s reputation for an undying commitment to the truth of the Bible and to the universal propagation of the Christian message. While a student at OCC, I was frequently confronted with the mantra, “The truth has nothing to fear.” This maxim had a profound impact on me. It conveyed to me that I had made the right decision in leaving my construction career and attending Bible college at the age of 28.

Lesson #1: Warranted Confidence

I attended OCC with the conviction that I was a soldier for the truth, so there was no need for me to fear intellectual challenges to the faith. My respect for OCC assured me that my confidence in Christian theism was well-founded. At this point in my life, I had no doubt that the gospel of Christ was the Truth.

Application #1: Seek Unadorned Truth

As intimated above, the assumption at OCC was that Christianity was Truth, and all else was to be judged against that standard. Initially, I was on board with that thesis, but as I continued my studies, I began to think about this in a slightly different manner. Rather than just assume that Christianity was true, maybe I should just seek Truth? If Christianity is true, which at the time I was confident it was, it will stand up to the scrutiny.

I didn’t have the rational or empirical ability to challenge the Christian message at this time, nor would I have wanted to. I was too busy learning how to interpret, exegete, preach, and evangelize. But, “The Truth Has Nothing to Fear” stuck with me, and it established itself as an investigative principle that eventually became an integral component of my research methodology.

Guiding Principle #2: Humans Are Not Objective

During my education at OCC, I read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.3 Covey’s book contains much practical advice, but it was this enduring idea that I took away from the book: “Each of us tends to think we see things as they are, that we are objective. But this is not the case. We see the world, not as it is, but as we are—or, as we are conditioned to see it.”4

Lesson #2: I’m Not Objective

The reason that this portion of Covey’s book stood out to me was due to the fact that I had never considered my own objectivity prior to this time. I had just assumed that I was objective most of the time, especially regarding the vitally important things in life. However, I was at OCC to learn, and the book had been assigned for that reason, so I began to ponder my own objectivity. I don’t quite recall, but I think the course professor probably assigned Covey’s book so that we would implement his organizational principles in our life and work. It’s unlikely that I was required to read Covey’s book in the hope that I would question my own objectivity. But, that’s the way I took it, so another seed had been planted that would eventually come to fruition.

Application #2: Assess the Accuracy of Your Map

Covey likens our understanding of reality to a mental map. Covey maintains, “We interpret everything we experience through these mental maps. We seldom question their accuracy; we’re usually even unaware that we have them. We simply assume that the way we see things is the way they really are or the way they should be.”5 This is an important point to consider, since we use these maps to navigate reality. In my case, I had a Christian map that I was utilizing to navigate through life. But, what if I had the wrong map?

Guiding Principle #3: Religious Beliefs Have Been Socially Constructed6

When I was in graduate school a professor I admired suggested that I read The Social Construction of Reality by Berger and Luckmann.7 I took him up on his recommendation, and reading The Social Construction of Reality served as a eureka experience for me. The basic idea in the book is that from the time we were born, our understandings of the world have been fashioned for us by those who were most likely conditioned to believe what they then taught us. If this is the case, how would we know that those who built our realities for us were correct in their assessment and explanation? Most people probably don’t know. They have just been assuming all along that they got it right. In other words, we had an ironclad belief system in place before we even knew what a belief system was.

In addition, our socially constructed assumptions are naively taken for granted.8 We just accept them at face value. As Berger and Luckmann state, “The reality of everyday life is taken for granted as reality. It does not require additional verification over and beyond its simple presence. It is simply there, as self-evident and compelling facticity. I know that it is real. While I am capable of engaging in doubt about its reality, I am obliged to suspend such doubt as I routinely exist in everyday life.”9 And if doubts about our views of the world do arise, “These doubts are ‘not to be taken seriously.’”10

Lesson #3: My Religious Reality Was Created for Me

It was at this point in my journey that I began to understand how the three previously mentioned guiding principles embedded in my thinking, along with their related lessons and applications, were connected:

GP1: The Truth Has Nothing to Fear!

If I’m going to be a genuine seeker of truth, I must pursue Truth itself, not a particular version of the truth.

GP2: Humans Are Not Objective.

Therefore, I’m not objective, so I need to discover a methodology for mitigating my subjectivity, if such a method exists.

GP3: Religious Beliefs Have Been Socially Constructed.

Since I was socially conditioned to accept the religious beliefs that I currently hold, an investigation into the foundation of said religious beliefs is warranted.

Application #3: Investigate My Socially Conditioned Reality

The application of the guiding principle is mentioned under GP3 immediately above. However, I must mention that I was still a committed Christian at this point in my journey, but the aforementioned discoveries created an awareness in me that didn’t exist previously.

Guiding Principle #4: The Necessity of Critical Thinking

My doctoral program in adult education introduced me to the specifics of critical thinking. I came to realize that adopting and implementing a critical thinking strategy would provide me with the best methodology for applying guiding principles 1, 2 & 3.

Stephen Brookfield is one of my favorite authors when it comes to thinking critically. Brookfield maintains, “We are generally enclosed within our own self-histories. We assimilate and gradually integrate behaviors, ideas, and values derived from others until they become so internalized that we define ourselves within terms of them. Unless an external source places before us alternative ways of thinking, behaving and living, we are comfortable with our familiar value systems, beliefs, and behaviors.”11

You probably noticed that Brookfield is saying much of what we’ve already discovered above:

  1. Our belief systems are created for us by others.
  2. We just assume that these world views are true.
  3. Most of us will never seriously consider whether they’re true or not.

However, Brookfield offers us a way to objectively examine our socially constructed belief systems. Just in case you missed it, “Unless an external source places before us alternative ways of thinking, behaving and living, we are comfortable with our familiar value systems, beliefs, and behaviors.”

The “external source” can provide the way of escape, but the external source is revealed to us only if we make a serious effort to engage in the critical thinking process.

Lesson #4: I Can Accurately Assess My Social Construct

Thinking critically provides me with the best method for revealing any inconsistencies in my socially constructed reality.

Application #4: Discover, Challenge & Expose Inaccurate Assumptions

Thinking critically helps us stand outside our socially constructed realities, mitigate our subjectivity, and discover previous unrecognized truth. Here’s how critical thinking works in its most basic form:

Step 1. We must recognize that we all hold unexamined assumptions about reality.

Your assumptions about religious reality likely remain unexamined, since they were a part of you before you ever knew yourself to be you. If you’re not willing to admit that you hold unexamined assumptions in the religious arena of your life, then you might as well give up in regard to critical thinking about personal religious matters.

Step 2. Our unexamined assumptions must be identified and legitimately challenged.

Notice that, once discovered, unexamined assumptions must be legitimately challenged. To be legitimately challenged, controls must be in place that minimize cognitive biases, eliminate logical fallacies, and squelch the influence of groupthink.

Step 3: If we discover that our assumptions were incorrect, then we must explore and imagine more viable alternatives.

Steps 1, 2 & 3 all require that one explore beyond their comfort zone (Brookfield’s “external source”). However, most people are loathe to seriously engage with unfamiliar or challenging information that contravenes their deeply held beliefs.12

Guiding Principle #5: Apologetics Requires Engaging Counter-Arguments

Despite what I’ve said above, when I started teaching theology and apologetics at Manhattan Christian College I was confident that the aforementioned principles, lessons, and applications would lead to a more solid personal belief in Christianity but also to a virtually irrefutable Christian apologetic.

My teaching career started with a militant commitment (not an exaggeration) to a fundamentalist/conservative interpretation of the Bible and to an informed Christian apologetic. I took the “always be ready to make a defense to everyone” (1 Pet. 3:15) exhortation quite seriously. At the time, I was sure that Christian “truth” relied on “divinely powerful [weapons] for the destruction of fortresses” (2 Cor. 10:4). I was completely confident that a divinely prepared apologist could destroy all “speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 10:5). At this point in my life, my goal was to demonstrate that the arguments against the Bible and the Christian worldview were without merit and that anyone spewing them was being used by the Devil for his evil purposes.

Lesson #5: I Must Understand Counterarguments in Order to Refute Them

Since at this time I was still convinced that the Christian message was true, I experienced no hesitation in applying my five guiding principles to Christianity. I was not satisfied with merely listening to what Christian apologists had to say about counter-arguments. I didn’t think that only reading books by authors with a Christian worldview was enough. In fact, I was so confident that the Christian worldview was true, I was even willing to read, heaven forbid, books by atheists and apostates. I wanted to hear the arguments straight from the horse’s mouth in order that I might be better prepared to destroy their contentions. In spite of my Christian militancy, I entered my study with my mind set on truly understanding the counter-arguments to the Bible and to the Christian worldview.

Application #5: Reveal the Bankruptcy of Theism13

After several years of in-depth research utilizing the above principles as my guide, I discovered this inescapable conclusion: There’s no rational-empirical basis for a supernatural view of the world. As I mentioned near the beginning of this post, I’m no longer a theist. I prefer to call myself a Rational-Empiricist. Rational-Empiricism is the epistemological position and methodological approach of modern science. Rational-Empiricists hold that the best way humanity has for discovering, understanding, and anticipating facts about our world is when reason and experience (empirical data) work together. Other terms that can be acceptable labels for my position: Skeptic, Freethinker, Materialist, Naturalist, De-facto Atheist (A De-facto Atheist is one who thinks that, although we can’t be certain, the existence of god is highly improbable. Google “Dawkins Scale” and look at #6. A #6 on the Dawkins scale is an accurate representation of my position).

 


How is your family handling this, both immediate and extended? Where is your wife on all of this? Has your mother said anything, or does she even know yet?

I’ll provide a brief answer here, since there’s not a whole lot to say at this point.

I’ve told my family that I no longer believe in God. Their reaction was pretty much what I expected. They all told me that they disagree with my position, but they were quick to follow with sincere assurances of their love for me.

The interaction with my family since my revelation has been mostly superficial. I think they’re still processing something that they probably would have never imagined happening. Of course, it bothers me to know that they are hurting, but the high probability that they will never understand why I changed my mind bothers me more.

Frankly, they don’t have the knowledge or the tools to adequately assess my position and why I’ve reached the conclusion that I have. Please don’t misunderstand me. They are certainly intellectually capable of understanding my process and conclusion, however, they will never make a concerted effort to do so, since, like most people, they are unabashedly convinced that their most deeply held religious beliefs are an accurate reflection of reality.

I will briefly address intelligence and also critical thinking methodology below in regard to my colleagues. What I say there will also apply to my family.

My wife is pretty much where I am regarding theism. Her engagement in the above described process doesn’t parallel the in-depth nature of my investigation, but it was difficult for her to escape my audible theological and philosophical wrestling matches since we live in the same home. ☺

 


Tell us a little about how other people have responded. What sort of reaction have you received from the other professors at MCC, former students, or even current ones?

Again, I’ll keep this portion relatively brief since I spent so much time responding to the first question.

I have received unsolicited messages from a significant number of former students. They have been overwhelmingly positive. Even though most of them don’t agree with my conclusion, the messages have primarily been expressions of love and respect. Many of them also thanked me for teaching them to think critically and how that methodology has helped them in many areas of their lives.

I have also heard from what you might think are a surprising number of former students who no longer believe in God or who are dealing with serious questions regarding his existence. I wasn’t shocked by these revelations. Based on my research, I’m quite sure that there are many who find themselves in the same situation but are fearful of being found out so they remain silent.

My former colleagues at Manhattan Christian College have been strangely silent. Not long after my resignation, I received several messages suggesting that we set up a time to meet for coffee or a beer. However, there was no follow up regarding most of those messages, and I’ve heard next to nothing since. Here are a few of the reasons that I think might explain the silent treatment:

  1. They feel betrayed. Fair enough. The faculty was told that the reason I resigned was due to the fact that I was no longer a Christian theist. That’s, of course, true, but it’s really not sufficiently accurate. As should be clear from the above, I’m not a theist at all. Theists of many stripes are willing to associate with a different variety of theist, but once someone crosses the line into atheism, they become persona non grata.
  2. They don’t really care about me. You would think that people who probably think I’m going straight to hell would make an effort to keep me from experiencing that fate.
  3. They don’t believe in hell. So, no worries.
  4. They are unable to defend the Christian faith against someone like me. I think this is the most likely reason for the silence.

Please don’t misconstrue this as an indictment of the commitment or intelligence of my former colleagues. But, they probably don’t understand critical thinking methodology, and it’s highly unlikely that they would apply it to Christian theism even if they did.

First, one’s level of intelligence has little to do with possessing the ability to stand outside their socially constructed realities. In fact, a high IQ can actually act as a barrier to escaping the realities we’ve been conditioned to adopt as our interpretive grids.14

Second, most scholars (presumably intelligent folk) don’t understand critical thinking, so it’s even more unlikely that they apply critical thinking principles to their world views. As Richard Paul contends, “Most college faculty at all levels lack a substantive concept of critical thinking.” But, what’s even worse, they don’t even recognize it. Paul continues, “Most college faculty don’t realize that they lack a substantive concept of critical thinking, [but] believe that they sufficiently understand it.”15 I can assure you, based on a significant number of years of experience in academia, that faculty who obviously know nothing about critical thinking will argue vehemently that they do, even though the research (and their actions) clearly demonstrates that they don’t.

My goal is not to be petty or to offer undue criticism. Let me reiterate, my former colleagues are caring, decent, intelligent people. They’re just misguided as far as their theistic views are concerned. I hope it is clear that my purpose here is to point out the misplaced confidence that we often place in religious teachers, claims, and systems.

Request/Disclaimer: I welcome your sincere questions, relevant comments, constructive criticisms, and enlightening insights. Wisenheimers, nitpickers, pedants, and jackasses will be ignored by default. I’d appreciate it if you would gently point out any errors in spelling, grammar, and/or punctuation. I may not have the time or the desire to respond to every comment, question, or criticism. Please, however, do not make the false assumption that my silence indicates the inability to provide an adequate response.

1: Please understand that this blog post should not be construed as a defense of my non-theistic position. At this point, I am merely providing a brief summarization in answer to Rocky’s question. The current blog post is the first in a series of three. In the two subsequent posts I will provide more specificity regarding the atheistic position that I now hold.

2: It has been difficult for me to express my journey in the abbreviated form required for a blog post. Hopefully, the two subsequent posts I author will answer some of the questions you may be formulating at this moment. I have much more to say regarding my journey, but I want to keep this post to a readable length.

3: Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (New York: Fireside-Simon & Schuster, 1990), 28. ISBN: 9780671708634

4: Ibid, 28.

5: Ibid, 24.

6: The study of the sociology of knowledge teaches us that most of what humans believe has been socially constructed to some degree. My reason for focusing on religious beliefs here should be obvious.

7: Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality (New York: Anchor-Random House, 1967). ISBN: 9780385058988

8: Including the religious views that we were conditioned to believe as children.

9: Ibid, 23.

10: Ibid, 44.

11: Stephen D. Brookfield, “Understanding and Facilitating Adult Learning,” School Library Media Quarterly (1988): 103.

12: There is a large body of literature regarding this and related topics, but space limitations prohibit me from getting into any detail.

13: I’m not going to explain here. In the next blog post I’ll provide some details that answer why I came to the conclusion that belief in a god is bankrupt.

14: Read Robert J. Sternberg, ed., Why Smart People Can Be So Stupid, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002).

15: See Richard Paul, The State of Critical Thinking Today (Fall 2004).

| Culture | Science | 20 comments so far

Ready for another article?

Rocky Munoz
Jesus-follower, husband, daddy, amateur theologian, former youth pastor, nerd, and coffee snob. Feel free to email me at almostheresy@gmail.com and follow me on Twitter (@rockstarmunoz)

16 Comments

  1. Austin Bazil, November 7, 2015 at 4:08 pm:

    Steven Davis does not in fact hold these beliefs do to an intellectual reason. He is not in fact interested in having a conversation because I kindly show his error and was easily able to show evidences and he erased them from his page so no one could see it. Sad but commonplace. I am sure if you check his page it shows anger but holds not dialog with critical thinking. Every christian starts with the basis that they are real and they can perceive reality. How does Steve establish right from wrong? How can he now trust his perception of reality? Questions he quickly erased from his page. I don’t think critical thinking had anything to do with this at all. If it did I hope he would reconsider after he realizes the answer to that question. This was a softball interview for such a damaging and dishonest position. I provided many of the students that went to his classes and I am grateful they have the truth.

    • Rocky Munoz, November 9, 2015 at 10:24 am:

      Hi there, Austin. Thanks for commenting here! I can’t speak for what Davis chooses to do on his own Facebook page. But I can say that he has been perfectly friendly and willing to dialogue whenever I’ve spoken with him. Here are some helpful things to consider when dialoguing with folks like Davis:

      1. Listen openly to what they have to say without just looking for something to critique.
      2. Don’t assume poor motives on their part.
      3. Don’t break into a Gish Gallop. Pick one thing to focus your discussion on.
      4. Don’t be discouraged if they don’t come to agree with you, since chances are they won’t.

      I’m not sure what you mean by a “softball interview.” If you mean that I didn’t use this as a veiled attempt to re-convert Davis, then you are correct. I know enough about Davis, where he’s coming from, and what he’s working with, to know better than to try to argue him out of atheism over the internet.

  2. Austin Bazil, November 9, 2015 at 2:35 pm:

    This is what I do. Thank you for the 4 point training tool. I think that you assume that many of “us” in the field don’t do this by sending me this list.
    While I thank you for the reply I have seen much fruit by discussing the subject matter to notice that there is an anger toward the sinful actions that come from mostly saved people by wounded individuals like this. There were no questions about how you can construct a quest for truth with out a belief in a truth or a provable perception of reality.

    While talking to anyone about accepting the free gift of Salvation offered by the blood of Christ we need to understand that Romans tells us that God presents Himself to every man so they are without excuse, and Psalms it tells us that any man that says there is no God is a fool. As a believer I think it is important to know these truths so that you can identify the hurt and anger that it easily seen in Steven’s page. You can also see here it in the intellectual superior stance that he takes in this interview and also on his Facebook page where I and others seem to be deleted when simple proofs are provided.
    I am pointing out the truth that critical thinking is not encouraged there whatsoever, it in fact is erased.
    No effort or Christian arguments hardly have to be used. He as well as many others need to admit that they have a new religion because they cannot test or observe where their truth comes from, it is not knowable. In the same breath however he will state that people are wrong without identifying how he can now trust his perception of reality.

    You say you know him well enough not to take this task on over the internet, however many read and had already “liked” certain admissions that were quickly erased. Many Christians may not have the time or education to have the conversation.

    This conversation is not however even a high level of interaction. I think maybe if the 2 base questions would have been answered the readers would not have held a dishonest position in high regard. Christians never start with the basis that God is real even if they are told they do. They start with they exist and they can trust their perception of reality.
    A softball interview would fail to answer 2 or 3 basic questions of fundamental critical thinking, no conversion talk is necessary in shaking a construct that doesn’t involve the Lord. I pray that Steven answers these questions.
    I realize that many of the Ministers who are high level teachers, nuclear engineers, biologists, doctors, and apologist ect do not make it back to MCC I think it is unwise to assume they do not exist or that large degrees of conversation that goes on in a classroom has yet to be answered. This conversation is also not innocent. There is now a public attempt at silencing people who have done the work and can answer, while at the same time bulling former students who disagree.
    I offer a starting point for you and others who have dear friends like this, please consider their lectures debates and bible study for your next steps in the faith. Thank you.
    Micheal Behe ICR.org
    Douglas Hamp
    Kent Hovind
    William Lane Craig

    • Rocky Munoz, November 9, 2015 at 3:14 pm:

      I don’t want to spend too much time defending Davis’ actions, since he can do that if he wants to (or not). But I would maintain that he is open to humble dialogue, since there are examples of it happening on his Facebook page (see his responses to Lauren and Aaron). So, as a person, I think he’s willing to engage as long as it’s in an amicable way. Other than that, I’ll only speak to what he said in the interview here on my blog.

      While I’m sure he sees his position as intellectually superior to that of believers, from what he said about his former colleagues being very intelligent people, I doubt that Davis sees himself as being intellectually superior. Maybe what you’re interpreting as anger is actually just how Davis communicates (I don’t know if you’ve had the chance to talk with him in person). He just has a no-nonsense approach to this sort of stuff, but it doesn’t mean he’s angry. With regard to whether or not his transition to atheism was emotionally charged, along with more specific arguments and evidences of his de-conversion, I would just encourage you to wait for the next part of the interview where he will address that. Since this is a three-part series, it would serve the interest of constructive dialogue to be patient as Davis’ story and rationale unfolds.

      Last of all, thank you for offering the names at the end of your last comment. It is always good to help resource one another. Please don’t be discouraged if some people don’t find those compelling however. Both Davis and I have engaged those thinkers already, and so (while they may be helpful for other readers to consult) to us, and those like us, there’s little new info there. As a personal note, if you want to maintain any semblance of credibility among rationalists, atheists, and skeptics, don’t reference Kent Hovind. Among atheists, and even most sophisticated theologians, Hovind is more of a joke than a credible source.

      Even so, thanks for commenting on here and being willing to present your thoughts! :D

  3. Austin Bazil, November 9, 2015 at 10:01 pm:

    I get the personal note, however I like Hovind because of how many serious Scientists, philosophers, engineers ect. that he has won to Christ. Jesus does not carry credibility with any skeptic or religious atheist.
    Credible sources prove they are credible as the win people to Christ. Paper teachers should be real careful.
    Steven’s story is like many and is nothing new. People give themselves titles and should be held to debate if they want to do it publicly. Steven and many others are used to being able to step on 10-20 year olds where an experience and intellectual advantage is had. I for one never really use God when talking to people like Steven. Atheists, skeptics, and rationalists hate quantum physics they don’t rely on math or provable material and constantly assume people don’t have and answer.
    I enjoy those people able to give one and there are thousands. It is somewhat confusing to me how you or others fail to ask questions of critical thinking at its core.
    As I was talking with a certain Dr. that taught evolution for 40 years at a university he admitted to me over lunch that he knew there was a God but was too hurt to want to believe to submit to him.
    While I love and serve many people who may share views like Steven, I think there is a giant intellectual dishonesty that you allow. Not one has a basis for truth, nor can they trust reality. Because of these things you cannot intellectually decide anything as a builder cannot build with out a foundation.
    It is amazing how many people hated Jesus, he was so unpopular they killed him. I wonder if being unpopular with so many that you win to Christ is a bad thing? People that get caught up and desired to be respected by the keyboard community or the people who hate God seem to flush out their intellectual insecurity by leaning toward it.
    Thanks

    • Rocky Munoz, November 10, 2015 at 9:19 am:

      I’m afraid I am unfamiliar with notable converts of Hovind. Could you name a few of these scientists and philosophers for me? Admittedly, I find a person’s ability to convert large numbers of people to be a strange qualifier for their ability to speak into the subject of critical thinking. After all, Billy Graham has converted thousands upon thousands of people to Christianity; but he’s hardly a person that I would cite in a discussion on critical thinking and epistemology.

      I’m curious as to your claim, “Atheists, skeptics, and rationalists hate quantum physics.” What do you mean by this? Given the disproportionately high percentage of atheists in the field of physics, I find it impossible to believe that they hate the very field of study that they have dedicated their lives to.

      You said, “It is somewhat confusing to me how you or others fail to ask questions of critical thinking at its core.” Do you mean personally, or that I didn’t ask such questions for this interview with Dr. Davis? Like I mentioned in my last comment, I didn’t want this interview to be me drilling Davis in the hopes of pointing out some flaw in his newly acquired atheism. I simply wanted to better understand what he believes and how he got there. There will be more specifics in the next part, so be patient and stay tuned. If you meant personally, then I am happy to inform you that I have spent a great deal of time asking questions about critical thinking and exploring the subject. :)

  4. Austin Bazil, November 11, 2015 at 10:04 am:

    Well have lived in a college towns and seen Kent do his seminars live, I have had the opportunity to baptize many who Kent was in part responsible for in these fields.In many cases they do not like there name publicly released as there is not an intellectual honesty or freedom in these professions.
    Kent lists many places,universities and people specifically even his recent videos on his Youtube channel.
    My point is many people say call themselves “teacher” when it comes to the bible.Teachers of the Bible are held to a much higher standard.I think one has to carry some fruit in there life to be called Elder or teacher.
    Understand when coming to an unexplained complex arrangement of “light” in wave or particle that we see as a Mathematical universe becomes impossible without God. It is not rational to even to begin to make theory that explains this without God.
    This is religion. Honest people admit this. Nothing close has ever even been attempted in Chemical evolution and the math involved for something to evolve past Iron is not possible by any degree. It is not logic or honest philosophy to pretend this things don’t exist. To understand how someone develops into a new religion I would think you would ask fundamental questions. Surely Steven answered the question where or what he derives truth from and how he can trust his reality. Any honest person would assuming they were held to the inconvenient Biblical truth model that honesty has value. I will stay tuned. Thanks for your time.

  5. Jojo Ruba, November 19, 2015 at 4:32 pm:

    I’m a little bit frustrated as I read these comments because clearly it shows the church and our seminaries are still doing a bad job training people to think as Christians.

    I challenged Dr.Davis on Facebook – and not in a rude or mean way – to simply explain where in his worldview rationality, morality or free will come from and he basically told me that he taught all this stuff before and didn’t need to engage with me. That doesn’t sound like a person interested in rational discussion or dialogue.

    I appreciate he is a private person – that is his right. But if he’s going to go public with his views and to advocate for a view that says Christianity is false, I think it’s fair for him to answer some important questions.

    BTW, yes, many Christians don’t know how to defend their faith or have an explanation for it. But that doesn’t make Christianity false. And that isn’t an argument to convince him – at this point I don’t think arguments will do any convincing. But it is a point to raise because if he is willing to be honest with the (perceived) flaws of the Christian worldview, he needs to be just as honest with the (perceived) flaws of his worldview now.

  6. Dan Marvin, November 19, 2015 at 6:02 pm:

    5. They are afraid of you.

    • Jennifer Pinch, November 20, 2015 at 6:54 am:

      I agree. Fear is always part of the reason people avoid engaging with former Christians who clearly left the faith for what they sincerely believe are intellectual reasons. Fear of not knowing how to respond to the arguments, fear of feeling ignorant, fear of invoking personal doubt, fear that this person who was once passionately involved in defending the faith could be right. It takes courage and love to listen.

  7. Steven Davis, November 22, 2015 at 2:01 pm:

    Oh, Boy! I was just made aware of this comment thread, so I thought I’d add a few thoughts and set the record straight:

    First, thanks to Rocky for being a rational person.

    The reason that I didn’t engage Austin or JoJo is, frankly, neither one of them appeared to have a basic understanding of the issues related to my blog post. It sounded to me as if they were just parroting discredited arguments that they have heard from one Christian apologist or another. I doubt if they’ve ever seriously considered any significant counter arguments, and I’m not going to spend time engaging with people who are unfamiliar with the important precedent literature.

    This brings me to Austin’s misleading claim. Austin was blocked from my Facebook page because he refused to agree to my request to establish some common ground. I could tell by reading Austin’s comments that he didn’t have the depth of understanding that he apparently thinks he does, so I tried to establish a common knowledge base so that we could have a fruitful dialogue. I provided Austin a link to my reading list so that he could see the research I have done, and I asked him to do the same for me. I made this request so that I could actually have a positive discussion with Austin. Austin agreed to do so at first, and then he informed me that he decided not to honor his agreement to provide me with said list. I think he probably refused because he didn’t want to reveal the fact that he hadn’t actually considered any legitimate alternative positions. Since Austin refused to do what he initially said he would do, I blocked him. Austin doesn’t appear to have any intention of listening. He merely wants to argue.

    It’s also quite telling that Austin and JoJo felt the need to come over to this site and commit the straw man fallacy.

    It’s mind boggling to think that some people actually believe that Facebook or blog comments are the place for academic dialogue. Numerous volumes have been written on the issues mentioned in my blog post, so it’s pretty revealing to discover that some people think it can all be cleared up in this type of forum. It makes me wonder if they’ve ever read an academic paper or book.

    And then someone trots out the old fear canard. This is merely a debater’s trick that some people use to make it appear that they have won. The reason you don’t get a response may be due to the fact that people have more important things to do than to argue with someone who obviously doesn’t know what they’re talking about. In addition, if I was fearful, why would I provide links on my Facebook page to a blog critiquing what I’ve said on Rocky’s blog? Anyone who knows me, clearly understands that “fear” is not a word that accurately describes me.

    And, I’m not going to respond to any follow up comments. It’s not that I’m fearful or don’t have an intelligent response, I just don’t have the time, space, or desire to argue with uninformed dogmatists. I prefer to spend my time doing something useful.

  8. Frank Wasson, December 4, 2015 at 2:01 pm:

    From bogusly-argued belief in God to bogusly-argued atheism. Seems to be a pattern of the mediocre having a come-to-Jesus and suddenly posturing as intellectuals of skepticism and atheism.

    Of course there’s no mention of the criteria for his judgment that humans are not objective. I wonder how Davis, ostensibly a human, arrived at that judgment itself. And—surprise!—no mention of whether that statement itself is objective and if so why or why not. Ditto for a handful of other unchallenged self-referential claims Davis made in the interview.

    The entire God debate is devolving to dutifully registering self-referentially inconsistent statements and then blathering on as if there is no issue, similar to the usual cocktail party dismissals of truth, knowledge, objectivity, and value, after which “discussing philosophy” is praised to no end.

    • Rocky Munoz, December 8, 2015 at 10:17 am:

      Hi there, Frank! Thanks for commenting. Certainly, there are a number of points that Davis asserts without fully defending here. However, I’d recommend that we extend some grace to Davis on that point. As he said in his first footnote, this blog post shouldn’t be taken as an attempt on his part to present a full academic treatise on why he is an atheist. He was simply (and graciously) responding to my interview questions. I’m sure if you would like to respectfully dialogue with him and get his full take on the relevant evidence, feel free to contact him via Facebook or Twitter and I’m sure he would be happy to dialogue with you.

  9. Cameron Davis, February 9, 2017 at 9:52 pm:

    Ask yourself why a God-man (as it is claimed Jesus Christ is) would never visit a faithful lover during his entire life? Billions of people have now lived and died proclaiming their love and faith in Jesus, yet he doesn’t have enough interest in them to even appear once? We are taught the resurrected Jesus of Nazareth is all powerful, all knowing, unfettered by time and space. We are repeatedly told Jesus loves us and was even willing to die for each person. What kind of man is willing to die for another, but can’t be bothered to speak or appear to a loved one? It makes no sense. The whole religion makes zero sense.

    • Rocky Munoz, February 10, 2017 at 2:03 pm:

      Hey there, Cameron! Thanks for commenting on here. You are correct, if God (or Jesus) really is all those things you mentioned—omnipotent, aspacial, atemporal, etc.—one would think that he would show up in physical form once in awhile (to say nothing of stopping events like the Holocaust). While I’m not willing to go as far as Dr. Davis and adopt an atheistic viewpoint, I think these concepts about God need serious re-examination, if not abandonment.

      I’d love to hear more of your thoughts, Cameron. Thanks again for adding your voice to this topic. :D

  10. Mitch, May 15, 2018 at 6:08 am:

    As someone who almost followed a similar path – but truncated his religious career far earlier at the stage of studies – I’m fascinated by Dr. Davis’ narrative. However, he seems to have gone dark – his Twitter account and Facebook page are both gone. While I respect anyone’s desire to disconnect from the chaos of those social networking platforms, I’m curious as to what has become of Dr. Davis, professionally. How has he redirected his talents?

    I’d also like to remark, that on some of the questions regarding truth, Dr. Jordan Peterson, a clinical psychologist, has some interesting things to say about the biblical narratives. His perspectives are somewhat orthogonal to the often polarized theist-atheist axis, and can be mistaken for apologetic, but I think is much more driven by his pragmatism as a clinician.


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