Saturday, January 02, 2016

You Don't Have to Be a Sociopath to Become a Theist....


...but apparently it helps, at least judging from this video.

Several things come to mind when I watched this. First, if David Wood's story is largely true, then he's clearly a sociopath and why should we believe anything he says? He could just be manipulating us for some sick purpose. On the other hand, if his story is largely false, then he's clearly a pathological liar, and why should we believe anything he says? Of course, his story could be partly true and partly false (my guess), but then the same conclusion holds.

Second is how persuasive even a terrible design argument like the one proposed here can be for a diseased or weak mind. Don't bother studying any mathematics, or computer science, or biology. Just assert that there is no evidence for the scientific world view, and voilĂ !

Third is what an ignorant bastard the guy is for someone who thought he was the greatest person in the world. He thinks shingles are caused by vitamin deficiency, fer chrissake!

Oh well. I am comforted by the fact that there's lots of decent people who are religionists. They're not all sociopaths like David Wood.

27 comments:

Galactor said...

I always wonder what arguments these so called "former atheists" have that once supported their atheism and what turned that around.

mregnor said...

@Galactor:

Good question. I was an atheist (or at least an agnostic) until about 20 years ago. I never hated religion. I just thought it was wrong, factually. I thought Christianity was like televangelism-ridiculous and too emotional, but well-intentioned by some people. I venerated science, and particularly I believed that Darwin had explained where mankind came from. I felt as if I would have to leave my brain at the door if I went to church.

I had been haunted all my life by a feeling that there was a reason for existence that I was missing, and that feeling got stronger as I got older. When my first son was born, I remember seeing him in the delivery room for the first time and thinking "he's a gift. He came through us, not from us." I also wasn't happy with myself, with the kind of person I was. But I couldn't become a Christian--it just seemed too ridiculous to be true, and it seemed to contradict science.

In the late 90's I heard about the ID movement, and began reading about it. I had always had some reservations about the science of Darwinism--natural selection had always struck me as too simple, like a tautology--but I thought that there was a lot that I didn't know that would buttress the science. I took it on faith, you might say. Also, I believed that Christianity was philosophically and logically untenable. I thought that in a debate, a well informed atheist would demolish a Christian.

Reading about ID raised some doubts. I came to see that Darwinian explanations for life, and scientific explanations in general, had big holes, and didn't explain nearly what they claimed to explain. I particularly liked Philip Johnston's comment that the issues with Darwinism were more philosophical than scientific. So I read beyond ID-- theology, CS Lewis, George McDonald. I was particularly influenced by a book by by JP Moreland called "Does God Exist". It was a debate between Kai Neilsen, an atheist philosopher, and Moreland, a Christian philosopher. I was afraid to read it, because I feared that my new (nascent) respect for Christianity would be demolished when I read an intelligent debate between an atheist and a Christian. In fact, the opposite happened--the atheist points were shallow and silly (Neilsen's whole argument was that "God" was an incoherent concept) and Moreland was very impressive. So I read a lot of debates between Christians and atheists. The Christians always won, and my respect for atheism as an intellectual endeavor plummeted.

I still couldn't bring myself to become a Christian--I still had the televangelist problem. I still couldn't buy into it except in a remote intellectual way. Then, I had a health problem in my family involving one of my kids, and it terrified me. I was obsessed by it for months, and things did not look good (I won't go into detail in this forum). One night I was seeing patients at a local Catholic hospital and I was so emotionally devastated I went into the chapel in the hospital to pray. I prayed intensely, and asked that my child be healed. I heard a reply--seven words--that told me what was happening, and told me something very important about myself that I hadn't seen before. I promised the Lord that I would become a Christian if he would heal my child.

Within a week, my child was completely well. I went to my local Catholic parish, and signed up to be baptized.

A lot has happened since, and a lot keeps happening. This is a journey (as they say), a personal relationship, and it never ends.

Regarding Darwinism and atheism, I have a score to settle. That crap is and was a lie, and with me it's personal. It almost cost me my soul, and it costs others their souls. I will fight it until I die.

There's a lot more to my story. I'll finish with this: I realized that my conversion wasn't only my own effort, or even mostly my own effort. I was pursued by God, and led to Him. We all are, if we are willing to listen and follow the truth.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Nice story, but I don't believe a word of it. You've already demonstrated a willingness to lie over the most trivial things, and you've been exposed over and over. Why should we accord this any veracity at all?

I also wasn't happy with myself, with the kind of person I was.

Not a surprise. You were very probably an asshole back then, and you still are. A massive one. Christianity doesn't seem to have made any positive difference at all; it just made you an asshole justified by a god.

Within a week, my child was completely well.

Children get better all the time. Spontaneous remissions of all sorts of illnesses are not uncommon. You know that very well, as a doctor. If that's your evidence, it's completely unimpressive. You must be a very gullible person.

We all are, if we are willing to listen and follow the truth.

Classic fallacy: inappropriate extrapolation from personal experience.

mregnor said...

Just watched the video. What a powerful story. Christ changes lives--he changed mine.

As to whether Wood is a liar, I see no reason to believe he isn't telling the truth. It should be easy enough to check, given his claim of a criminal history. I'm sure that people whose asses he kicked in debates would have found evidence for lying, if there were such.

God bless him. His story is uncommonly dramatic, but millions of people have had their lives dramatically changed for the better by faith in Christ.

I find it remarkable that Shallit would snipe at Wood--after all, when Wood was an atheist, he was a psychopath, attempted patricide, and was confined to a prison and mental hospital. Since he came to Christ, he is a philosopher, public speaker and law-abiding citizen.

Exactly why that would weigh for atheism and against Christianity escapes me.

Mikkel Rumraket Rasmussen said...

I agree with Jeff here, I'm not buying your bullshit story either MrEgnor. It's too convenient for you and too obviously designed as a sort of counter-argument to many common atheist responses to theism, complete with how you were formerly a bad person bla bla. How strangely coincidental that you just happen to represent the complete "former atheist" stereotype with all your "previouos beliefs" that you never bothered to check any deeper.

It's strange because supposedly your god has directly commanded you not to lie. Let's see:
Exodus 20:16 You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.


Yet here you are, obviously lying through your teeth. You disgust me.

mregnor said...

@Mickey:

I think you're lying about thinking I'm lying.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

-after all, when Wood was an atheist, he was a psychopath, attempted patricide, and was confined to a prison and mental hospital. Since he came to Christ, he is a philosopher, public speaker and law-abiding citizen.

How do you know he was an atheist? How do you know he is no longer a psychopath (not my diagnosis, by the way -- yours)?
How do you know he is currently law-abiding?

It looks to me he just traded in one con for another.

mregnor said...

Perhaps he's lying, but I see no reason to think he is.

Why not just acknowledge that religious conversion can coincide with profound changes in life, often much for the better. Countless millions of people have experienced it. They're not all lying.

Why deny the obvious? You're letting your hate get in the way of your judgement.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

So, in other words, you've swallowed his story whole and have no independent evidence for it.

That was my question, and you've answered it.

Countless millions of people have experienced it.

So you allege. Where's the evidence?

Why deny the obvious?

Many things that appear obvious to you, such as "evolution is false", "anthropogenic global warming is a hoax", and so forth, are clearly incorrect, despite them being so obvious to you, that your judgment would be questioned by anyone sane. Also, your veracity has been questioned by dozens of people on dozens of blogs. Why deny the obvious?

The whole truth said...

"I promised the Lord that I would become a Christian if he would heal my child.

Within a week, my child was completely well."

egnor, was your child diagnosed and treated by doctors? What sorts of diagnostic equipment/technology were used, which drugs were administered/prescribed, what surgical procedures were done, and what other medical care was provided? What's that you say, your prayers alone got yahoo-yeshoo-holy-spook to heal your child? Well hallelujah and praise the lawd, you and all other doctors, and nurses, CNAs, MAs, lab personnel, paramedics, all medical equipment/technology, ambulances, pharmacists/drug stores, medical/biological research and education, etc., are unnecessary. All anyone needs to do is pray to "the Lord" (your christian-catholic version of course) and healing will quickly occur.

Do you, as a doctor, tell parents that their ill/injured children don't need a medical diagnosis and treatment and that all they need to do is pray to "the Lord" and their children will be healed? If not, why not? Don't you believe in the power of prayer?

Do you, as a a professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Stony Brook University, do no medical/biological research, pay no attention to medical/biological research, and tell your students that praying to "the Lord" is all they need to know to graduate and become pediatricians?

Do all children of parents who pray to "the Lord" to heal their children survive and thrive? Of course the answer to that question is NO. How many children die every day, even though their parents pray to "the Lord" to heal their children? In many cases the parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, siblings, friends, neighbors, pastors/priests/ministers/nuns/etc., entire church congregations, and even strangers pray to "the Lord" for the healing of a child or adult yet the child or adult dies anyway or is still ill, injured, suffering, disabled, deformed, disfigured, etc. Apparently the people who pray to "the Lord" unsuccessfully are not praying correctly and should consult with you on how to do it the right way, eh?

The whole truth said...

egnor said:

"Why not just acknowledge that religious conversion can coincide with profound changes in life, often much for the better."

Does that apply to zoroastrianism, islam, caodaism, hinduism, mormonism, taoism, judaism, shinto, sikhism, all other religions and all sects/versions of all "religious conversion"? How about scientology?

Bert Brouwer said...

1+1=-2.. David Wood, manufactured in God's image; sociopath by divine design:

"If my child died I would want to cry my eyes out. Ehm.. I don't think I would."
See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kS8aUSygJM0

Sociopaths want our pity. See http://www.revcjconner.com/?p=60

Mikkel Rumraket Rasmussen said...

"I think you're lying about thinking I'm lying."

I might be mistaken, but in order to LIE about it I'd have to be knowingly telling falsehoods (as in, I would have to actually know whether you are telling the truth, in order to be able to lie when I say I believe you are lying). At best I can simply be wrong about whether you are lying. Unless you mean to imply I'm lying about whether I actually believe you're lying, but why the hell would I lie about that? It's idiotic.

Mikkel Rumraket Rasmussen said...

"I promised the Lord that I would become a Christian if he would heal my child.

Within a week, my child was completely well."

How often does this happen and is it above the rate expected by chance?

Galactor said...

Aaarrggghh! I feel sick now that this person has reacted in such a way to my question!

Not much foundation for holding the view that religion was false in this testimony other than the "belief" that Darwin explained mankind.

Note the supposition: if Darwin isn't right, then Jesus (and no other explanation) is.

When my children were born, I too had feelings of awe but I never needed to attach them to religion.

ScienceAvenger said...

[Egnor: the atheist points were shallow and silly (Neilsen's whole argument was that "God" was an incoherent concept) and Moreland was very impressive.]

I have that book, and while I was not wild about Neilsen's approach, Moreland wasn't much better. He was torn to shreds by the commentors, particularly Keith Parsons. Moreland's baseless assumption of the historocity of the New Testament, as well as his clinging to the Kalam argument after it had been clearly refuted, seemed particularly out of place in a supposedly scholarly debate.

ScienceAvenger said...

[Egnor: when Wood was an atheist, he was a psychopath, attempted patricide, and was confined to a prison and mental hospital. Since he came to Christ, he is a philosopher, public speaker and law-abiding citizen. ]

I for one am glad sociopaths like Wood are able to keep their base instincts in check with their god-belief. I just wish they could return the favor and accept the easily verifiable fact that most people can do so without it. People like him are like a bunch of diabetics proclaiming the positive influence insulin has had on their lives, and then drawing the erroneous conclusion that everyone else needs insulin too.

ScienceAvenger said...

[TWT: Does that apply to zoroastrianism, islam, caodaism, hinduism, mormonism, taoism, judaism, shinto, sikhism, all other religions and all sects/versions of all "religious conversion"? How about scientology?]

Actually yes, it does. That's a thorny little problem Christians are loathe to even acknowledge, much less explain in light of their "Jesus is the only way" mentality. Every culture has religion, and every culture has religious lifechanging experiences, from since before Christianity, and probably long after its faded from memory.

JimV said...

In medieval Europe, when the culture was dominated by the Christian Church and prayer was the basic remedy for all ills, the infant (0-5 years old) mortality rate is estimated to have been between 30 and 50%, and about 20% for the mothers in childbirth as well (according to a quick Google search).

People in Europe and other developed countries now pray less and their children survive more - both due I think to the advance of science. Mr. Egnor's anecdata illustrates the incompatibility between scientific (don't fool yourself) and religious (fool yourself by grasping at straw data) thinking.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

JimV: That's a good and effective point.

How will Egnor respond? Maybe he will say they weren't "praying right", and that only Egnor has the secret of the right way to beseech his supernatural deity for his personal gain.

But I think it is more likely he will simply Egnor you completely. That's what he does when his idiocies and lies are exposed. Just Egnor them and try to distract by bringing up something completely irrelevant.

Bert Brouwer said...

As a christian Egnor should know that you can't make deals with God, nor that God is a sociopath who pursued his conversion by playing with the life of his child, thus blackmailing him into submission.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

No surprise that Egnor has not responded. He simply has no intellectually respectable response to JimV's comment. So he pretends not to see it.

Bert Brouwer said...

Egnor is probably too busy, fighting his own inner demons.

CDP said...

For what it's worth, a Google search for "David Wood" hammer site:findlaw.com (quotation marks included) yields only one result, unrelated to the alleged case at hand. I think Wood's attempted murder story is a hoax, like Ben Carson's childhood story about trying to stab his friend. Manning Marable's recent biography of Malcolm X asserts that Malcolm X exaggerated his youthful criminality to Alex Haley in order to buttress claims of the redemptive power of his conversion to Islam.

The lesson from these three examples is that if you're going to invent pre-conversion stories of barbarism, farm them out to a first-rate novelist so that they pass the smell test.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Yeah, I didn't believe it either.

CDP said...

Based on these sources:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wsxtS9PoQc
http://www.acts17.net/2014/12/david-wood-why-i-am-christian.html

David Wood alleges that he attempted to murder his father in Virginia, that he confessed to his mother, that a psychiatric hospital diagnosed him with antisocial personality disorder, that he was convicted of malicious wounding and sentenced to 10 years in prison, that he was released in the year 2000, after five years in prison, at the age of 24.

The only newspaper articles I've been able to find that corroborate any portion of this are evangelical Christian publications citing David Wood as their source. I am not an expert in criminal law; maybe someone who is can do a background check that more definitively refutes Wood's story. I think Wood is a liar. And it matters; see:

http://www.loonwatch.com/2010/06/exposing-david-wood-of-mosques-and-men-pt-1/

and

http://www.loonwatch.com/2010/07/exposing-david-wood-of-mosques-and-men-pt-2/

If I'm wrong, David Wood can prove it very easily, for instance by showing up here and posting the name of the judge who sentenced him, or any of a number of other details.

I don't think I could bring myself to tell a graphic story about grievously injuring a loved one, even if it were clearly understood as fiction (to win an Edgar Allan Poe contest, perhaps). The mere ideation would be too upsetting. To fabricate a story like David Wood's in order to evangelize requires a really sick mind.

Warren Johnson said...

At first, I was inclined to believe Wood's gruesome story, but CDP has given us "reasons to disbelieve". Is Wood a full-on fantasist and liar? Or is he a still a psychopath, running a game on the religious? Looks like a job for an investigative reporter.

I have found a candidate, Kiera Feldman, who encountered Wood 2 years ago doing shady things, but probably has not heard his "I am a failed killer" story. Go to http://killingthebuddha.com/mag/dogma/the-anti-muslim-machine/ and search for Wood. He appears in the middle of a long story.

I can't figure out how to contact her, because I don't use Facebook or twitter. maybe somebody else?