Having had a few exchanges with atheists recently, I must say that I am disheartened. It turns out that some people just want to argue without having any actual knowledge about what they are arguing about. They stand up straw man arguments, and congratulate themselves when they cut down the straw man.

It’s one thing to be snarky when you are actually an expert on something; it’s painful to watch if you’re woefully under-educated.

Let me say that I am happy to engage with anyone who wants to discuss the ideas I write about. Otherwise, why would I bother to write about them? I have no vested interest in changing anyone’s mind — if you think you are happy being an atheist, have at it. If you want to exchange ideas, then let’s do that. But after my recent experience, I decided to write this post to refer all future atheists to so that I don’t waste my time with people that don’t actually want to understand anything.

Point #1: I spent many years as an atheist / Buddhist / agnostic / Taoist / Unitarian. I know all the arguments against Christianity — this is how I have come to the conclusions I write about here.

Point #2: If everything of import could be said in 130 characters or less, we could burn all the books ever written. Sometimes understanding something requires actually digging in and learning something complex.

Point #3: Don’t talk to me about science unless you understand the actual nature of science. If you haven’t read anything on the philosophy of science, especially Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn, go educate yourself on these authors before purporting to “explain” science to me. Or, as an alternative, if you have a PhD in an actual scientific discipline, that will do. (Note that an undergrad degree in science is not usually sufficient for understanding the actual nature of science.)

Point #4: Don’t try to correct me about logic unless you actually understand it. At a minimum, you should have two semesters of symbolic logic, including sentential and predicate calculus and set theory. If you want to educate yourself, then wade completely through a symbolic logic textbook and then fully understand metalogic (including proofs of soundness and completeness, incompleteness and undefinability). After this, fully digest the Tractatus Logico Philosophicus and Russel’s response and then you will be prepared to render opinions on the nature of logic.

Point #5: Understand epistemology; you can start by looking up the word. If you don’t understand the theory of knowledge, how can you render an opinion on what vs what is not “knowledge”? A good start would be to read any entire textbook on epistemology, then focus on the work of Wittgenstein, Quine, and Kierkegaard. If you have a little extra time, try Timothy van Gelder and Zenon W. Pylyshyn.

Point #6: Understand the varieties of religious experience and the work of Carl Jung. Yes, there are more current books on the same topics, but they are mostly derivative.

Point #7: Understand the varieties of Christian beliefs. True (deep) Christianity is not the fairy tale fantasy land you have been taught to believe it is. Read Spinoza, Kierkegaard, C. S. Lewis, and Thomas Merton. Sure, some (perhaps many) people have been brought up to believe in what I call the “folk art” version of Christianity, but this is primarily for those who don’t feel the need to go any deeper. And, in the end, if it works for them, it is not anyone else’s business.

So, if I have sent you to this page because of a snarky twit — sorry, tweet — and you’re a person who mixes up being certain with being right, then please do not bother me complaining about my posts until you have educated yourself on the underpinnings.

To all people who are open to a different way of looking at things: I hope you find my posts helpful or enlightening or at least entertaining.