Thursday, July 28, 2011

Jennifer Fulwiler's Conversion Diary: Part 2

Here is the promised video:

Conversion of an Atheist - Jennifer Fulwiler from Renewal Ministries on Vimeo.

It is from EWTN's show The Choices We Face, with host Peter Herbeck of Renewal Ministries. What follows is not a full transcript; I picked the parts I found interesting; my responses are in bold. Please watch the full video or my commentary probably won't make sense, or make less sense than usual if that's possible.

[7:33] Jennifer: "It's not surprising that intelligent people are atheists, because it is in some way a reasonable worldview. I mean, I still don't see atheism as totally crazy. I see where they draw the conclusions that they have because it's--you know, you just--A + B + C is, most things in the material world you have physical evidence. We know this table exists because we can see it and we can touch it and God is completely different. You look for evidence in a different way there."

This is where I began to be disappointed. She had me up until this point. Why does one look for evidence of God in a "different way"? There is only one way for evidence: observation, experiments, hypothesis testing and the very important peer review. If "evidence" is found through other methods it's not evidence, because it hasn't been demonstrated to make a fact evident. Hello!

So at this point she has opened her mind to the possibility that believers aren't stupid by default, and that maybe she was missing something because there were intelligent atheists and believers. A year later, her atheism was over, due to the birth of her first child.

[9:39] Jennifer: "I held this baby in my arms--and it was actually from my atheistic perspective, I always tried to see the big picture and not focus in on my own little world. And I thought, let's think about infant mortality. If I'd lived in any other time, in any other place, more than 100 years before it would be very commonplace for this child to die. Children died all the time. And I thought, let's think about what this child is from the atheist perspective. According to my own worldview, this baby that I'm holding right here, he is nothing but a collection of chemical reactions. He is no different than a gnat other than in his complexity and the way I assessed, and many atheists assessed, the reason that we humans are more valuable than say a gnat is simply that we're more complex, we have more cognitive abilities, we have self-awareness. This child had none of that. So from an atheistic perspective, in the spirit of intellectual honesty, 'cause that's how I was raised, you have to be intellectually honest. It doesn't matter what you feel, you have to look at what is true. In the spirit of intellectual honesty, this child was not that valuable, because what did he do for the world? I knew different. The first time he looked at me and I recognized the flicker of recognition and the love in his eyes, I was done with atheism. Because I knew at that moment that love exists as a reality external to the material world. That if a meteor landed on us right now and we were pulverized into dust that what just transpired, that love, that it was real. And that it came from a source external to the chemical reactions in our brain."

Where to start? She touches upon so many delicious things! Firstly--atheism is simply a lack of belief in anything supernatural; it is completely separate from an opinion on the personhood of an infant. You can be a pro-life atheist, you can be a pro-choice atheist and anything between. I don't know any atheist who would say that a newborn is "nothing but a collection of chemical reactions", but it doesn't have anything to do with atheism, anyway. There are, however, many people--atheists and not--who believe that fetuses in the early stage of pregnancy are nothing but a clump of cells. This has nothing to do with atheism. You can be an atheist and still marvel at your fetus, your newborn, your pregnancy, your child, and passionately feel that your offspring (at whatever stage) is a wonder, a little human person with rights.

For someone who says several times that she was raised to believe what was true and not what you feel, she sure did a 180!
"The first time he looked at me and I recognized the flicker of recognition and the love in his eyes, I was done with atheism." Gaaaaghghhhh!! What the fuck does your baby recognizing/loving you have to do with God? "Because I knew at that moment that love exists as a reality external to the material world." Ahhh, ok. Because love exists and is a non-physical emotion (well, duh), therefore God exists! Makes sense. "That if a meteor landed on us right now and we were pulverized into dust that what just transpired, that love, that it was real. And that it came from a source external to the chemical reactions in our brain." Love absolutely is real. But as to it coming from a source external to our brain, fat chance! You need to prove it, not just be overwhelmed by loving mommy emotions. Besides, there is a shit ton of evidence for emotions being a direct product of our brains. Hmmm, I think I shall write a blog post about that soon.

Basically what happened is in the rush and tender emotions of post-birth motherhood, she was flushed with bonding hormones that made her maternal love/protection emotions kick-in full time. So maybe in that instant she became completely pro-life, I can grant that. But what the hell does it have to do with knowledge of evidence of God? It is only evidence of her bonding with her baby, and her feeling love for her child.

[11:19] Peter: "That worldview cannot account for love and the power of love or the universality of love or personhood."

Oh, it most definitely can. Science can prove pretty damn conclusively that emotions are a product of our powerful brains. Generally, the more intelligent a species, the more capable of emotion. Dogs can be very smart and they are obviously bursting with emotions. Our brains are a product of evolution, and part of the reason for the evolution of our emotions is that it ensures humans' safety and collaboration with each other. We are social beings and have had to evolve a system of rights and designated personhood in order to get along and be social, which benefits everyone. This is such an interesting topic, and I've written some about it here and there, but I will have to write more in another post... this is long enough already.

The next little bit in the video is rather hilarious. I'm going to sum it up rather than quote it, though. Fulwiler describes how she started praying after her son was born but for 8 months nothing, nothing, nothing until one day--ta-da!!!!! She walks into a bookstore and sees a book about Jesus that seems to be in the spotlight from across the room and it just must be a sign from God! 'Cause bookstores never put books in spotlights or on shelves where they can be seen because the book stores don't want to sell books!!!!!!!!! Nah, that would make life too ordinary. Much more interesting to believe God sends us secret little signals throughout the day. But are you ready for this? The book was Lee Strobel's Case for Christ. *Facepalm* What would have happened if she were in India and saw a glowing book across the room about Shiva?

Is God so disabled that he can't just appear and put all atheists' doubt to rest? A phone call would even do. But, alas, he remains invisible and unprovable. This poor woman prays without an answer for nearly a year, wanders into a bookstore and then, "OMG, it's Jesus!!!!" That's desperation.

[13:45] Jennifer: "What that book did was that it got me to a place where I could finally ask, "What if? What if it's true? What if God exists and he became man in the form of Jesus?" And I wasn't convinced. I didn't necessarily think it was true but for the first time I had the humility... I had the humility to ask, "What if?"

No, no, no... for the first time she had the gullibility to believe.

Once you take down the roadblock in your mind that requires evidence and reality, you can let anything in.

[19:55] Peter: "What I love about your story is that love and beauty and truth captured your heart. 'Cause everyone of us knows [looks into the camera at the atheists] we're made for that, we're made to love it, to follow it, to embrace it, to live in it. The atheist worldview can't explain all that... it's impossible to live that way!"

Excuse us atheists for having the balls to say "we don't know", instead of swallowing the Kool-Aid of the religion that can "explain it all."


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