A Formal Introduction and Statement of Personal Principles
I am remiss for never having given a formal introduction of myself.
My name is David Richards, I am 25 years old, I live in the Greater Houston Area of Texas (a suburb to be precise), and I work at a small local computer repair shop as a PC tech; it's the family business. Currently I'm working on a couple of Tech Certifications.
Several of you will be familiar with me from the Atheist / Theist Debate and Philosophy and Psychology forums, where I have given my two cents on a few threads. I suppose it is best if I nail my colors to the mast right away, for those of you who might have had difficulty grasping where I come from. I was raised a Charismatic Evangelical Fundamentalist Protestant but later grew to reject many of the theological attitudes expressed by that version of Christianity. I converted to Eastern Orthodox Christianity about four years ago (officially baptized and chrismated, or 'confirmed') and have studied ancient philosophy and Christianity for about seven years.
I prefer not to discuss any sort of general, vague notion of theism but, in debate, to put forth my beliefs as an Orthodox Christian, even if I do not explicitly state them as such. Thus, many of my thoughts have been shaped around various philosophies but I always try to measure these against my life as an Orthodox Christian. I do not believe it does any good to discuss theism-in-general, as there is no neutral concept of God to be had, upon which all theists can agree. Among just Christians there are vastly different ways in which God is conceived, so I believe the argument will never get off the ground for atheists until they can provide an internal critique of MY view. I attempt to do this with atheism as I see that much of it flows from naive empiricism, Enlightenment or post-Enlightenment assumptions about reason, and almost dogmatic naturalism that is self-refuting. Another important point to keep in mind is that science is essentially a method and as such can be compatible with several different philosophical assumptions. By itself it proves nothing, but we must interpret raw data and raw facts according to some paradigm. Therefore I try to avoid discussions around science unless it pertains to the philosophy of science itself.
I want to stress that both theism and atheism have their simplistic adherents and their sophisticated adherents. I do not assume that any simplistic explanation is good enough to present a cogent case for my side, and I strive to present a sophisticated explanation of my beliefs. I expect the same of my interlocutors, which is why, when I question assumptions, I really need formal arguments to back up assertions and not mere burden-shifting and question-begging. I am always willing to have an open discussion, but tend to become annoyed with psychoanalysis or mantra-spouting. (Flying Spaghetti Monster being just one example.) I believe rational atheists can, and should, do better than this. That is all for me; this is more of a statement of principles, and I hope I haven't worn out my welcome.