Professor Stephanie SJ Thomason’s Atheist Encounters

Join Max Kolbe and Professor Stephanie SJ Thomason for a discussion on atheism. Topics include Professor Thomason and essays to leading online atheists, including concepts of Hell in Christianity, traditional role of theism in Buddhism, Jesus myths, .

Discussion starts with Stephanie Thomason’s religious background and initial interest in
responding to atheists. Max discusses sociology, social justice, and connections to Marxism and general academic environments. Max introduces the scientism of modern atheism with specific examples. Interest turns to literalist interpretations of the Bible and the long history of questioning Genesis as literal truth (see below).

Professor Thomason mentions how she found out about CS Lewis’ apologetics works, such as Mere Christianity, The Great Divorce, and The Screwtape Letters from a chance encounter with a pastor on a plane. Max offers praise in particular for The Great Divorce as an outstanding description of Hell. Christians’ interpretation of Hell quite often is offered as a fire and brimstone cartoon, rather than a complex concept.  Max mentions Dante and a lively discussionof Hell being a choice ensues.

Professor Thomason mentions having a negative spiritual experience. Max offers up his Rupert Sheldrake reading on the subject and the universality of spiritual experience, around the world and outside in Christianity.

Max introduces atheist online rudeness and Professor Thomason recounts her experiences with online atheists, including what prompted her to rebut Bertrand Russell. Discussion explores odd atheist ideas of multi-verses and treating spiritual encounters as alien encounters. Professor Thomason asks Max what was the argument that was convincing for him as an ex-atheist. His response includes a discussion of evolutionary biology and other issues that resulted in cognitive dissonance.

Towards the end, discussion focus on people who have promoted Jesus myth theories, including Richard Carrier and Joseph Campbell. The discussion includes the difficulty involved in suggesting Jesus is merely a myth. Max talks about Christianity and its reputation of its priests being good with casting out demons. At the very end, Professor Thomason mentions that she’s had positive spiritual experiences as well as negative.

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