All of jwhendy's Comments + Replies

As some others have said, others on LW (like myself) were not always non-theists. Feel free to reach out if you'd like to discuss or need/want support. Thinking these thoughts and living as a heavily-doubting theist is extremely challenging and draining, from my experience. I was consumed during my initial questioning and ultimate de-conversion. I read and thought day and night, felt sick, alienated, lonely, etc. I wrote some posts here if you'd like to take a look:

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For links, I switched to the org-id module and a unique ID for any new links. It works as long as the file containing the target headline is in the same directory as the file containing the link.

(require 'org-id)

(global-set-key "\C-cl" 'org-store-link)

(setq org-link-to-org-use-id 'create-if-interactive)

Yes, and mostly love it. Just not happy with the structure of my information management strategies, at least for daily work documentation. Put "X" under the specific project I'm doing it for? Or what if the learning seems more general... should i start a new tree for longer-term reference knowledge? Or summarize the specific knowledge more generally and keep a copy of both in separate areas? Or write only one and link to it in the other?

Stuff like that.

Other benefits I've really appreciated:

  • embedded/executable code blocks. This is my favorite,
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Late the party, and actually found this thread googling around for "Org-mode file/organization strategies." I've been using Org exclusively for work notes, and am finding myself in a similar situation re. being unwieldy. I constantly struggle with choosing one file per project, one big file with one headline per project, or files dedicated by type (one for todos, one for daily journal logs of experiments/efforts, references, etc.).

Org seems like it should be great for moving stuff around, but I find it not that easy. Refiling a mess of headlines ... (read more)

0moridinamael9y
It looks like I wrote the grandparent comment over two years ago and I am still primarily using Evernote and Nozbe. Evernote is invaluable for its ability to capture practically any form of information very quickly and then search it later. I can also intersperse "capture" items like reminders with "work" items like drafts of writing. Nozbe is a fully functional GTD application and it's the backbone of how I manage my tasks. Theoretically org-mode is great because it combines capture with workspace, but in practice I always found it impossible to smoothly transfer between those two functions.

Another variable, similar to location-based compensation (i.e. standard of living multiplier) is what sort of company the employee lands at. I work at a very large company (80k employees world-wide), with very established pay scales for employees. Just to illustrate how things work:

  • Technical employees are on a scale of what are called job grades
  • Job grades have a pay scale, which includes a minimum, median, and maximum
  • Annual pay increases are calculated based on performance + where you are in your current grade's scale
  • Promotion raises are between 8-12%
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Darnit. I blew it and fell behind in blog following; didn't even see this get announced. I'd really like to attend one of these! I'll keep my eyes open for the next one.

Agreed with respect to the substitution. That describes what I'm getting at. In using "rational," I simply meant, "What's the best way to go about deciding on a purchase of this class of thing?"

I wondered about this. So does my wife. I get lost on my computer enough already. Now we reduce capability to browsing and games, and how might that play out? Thanks for sharing this. I'm not sure how it would work in my case...

An ebook reader (+ some other prize combination) has occurred to me. I almost bought an ebook reader when they were on sale around Christmas, but couldn't decide between the Nook and Kindle platforms. One thing that worries me is that I have such a hard time reading paper books at the moment; I wonder if an ebook reader only seems like it would improve productivity when in reality it would shortly due to novelty, but then it would wear off.

Some questions:

  • How long have you had it?
  • Did you notice any drop in reading time from initial ownership to present?
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Great suggestion. I'm travelling at the moment, but will review this list. I saw the "don't spend 15-30min" on this and have managed to not really look at the list yet. I plan to revisit it next week and think this will be a good exercise.

0Benquo12y
Obviously you should adjust for your own money/time preference, but for most employed people in developed countries, the marginal benefit of optimizing a $400 purchase is not worth a whole lot of time, so if you can save an hour by satisficing you probably should. You may also come up with things that weren't on the list but matter a lot to you. I just gave the examples I could come up with in a minute, so I'd suggestusing my list as a starting point, not an exhaustive list.

My wife and I get lost as well. It seems infrequent, but unfortunately when it happens it is epic and horrible. This is exactly the kind of thing I was looking for -- something one would never know prior to owning the device, but could share from beyond the curtain. Thanks.

ETA: I don't have data, but in researching this more found a couple of programs that appear not to require data plans and yet still navigate with GPS-unit-containing devices (CoPilot and nDrive are the ones I've found so far). Thus, I may be able to get the use of a tablet, continue not ... (read more)

Thanks for the suggestion.

ETA: Back from travelling and re-reading the comments. What makes your more likely to "study anywhere" with the tablet vs. a laptop? Just the lower weight and ~1/3 (or even less) of the thickness? I spend most of my awake time at work, have a macbook which isn't too bulky, but don't take it many places. Do you find that you're more likely to take a tablet and make some small chunk of waiting time useful when you wouldn't have done the same thing with a laptop?

0atorm12y
I use the Anki mobile app on my phone when I don't have anything else to do with a few minutes. I also find that it is a good way to wake up my brain while still staying warm under the covers in the morning.

I didn't put much thought into the title. I'm surprised it got downvoted so much, but perhas I lured people in thinking the post was something it wasn't. Other than the title, is my post objectionable?

I think you put it well -- I have a hard time thinking about how best to use the gift and hoped that others with devices I could potentially own might provide suggestions. For example, the idea of a tablet sounds appealing (apps, more mobile than a laptop, reading things, battery life, etc.) but (as shown below), perhaps those here who care to analyze the uti... (read more)

0atorm12y
I want to say that I didn't actually vote the post down for the title, although my karma benefited from other people's response. I think it's a perfectly good topic for Discussion, and I voted it up after seeing the title change. It might be too late for it to make it back to people's attention, which is too bad. Maybe you or someone else should write a new post discussing the pros and cons of various bits of tech.
0orthonormal12y
People have misused "Rational X" as a post title so egregiously that Less Wrongers tend to have a knee-jerk reaction. For instance, I know this one is a joke, and it still irritates me.

Instead, I read the post as claiming "you guys are unreasonable in your overt dismissal of theism and your forceful insistence on it being a closed question, considering many of you are big on BTanism which has similar epistemological status to some varieties of theism".

That. I think after all the comments I've scanned in this post, this was the first one where I really felt like I understood what the post was even really about. Thank you.

I'm quite glad you commented, and interesting take. What about younger religions that still seem to manager to woo people and hold them intellectually captive like Mormonism (~150 yrs) and Scientology (~50 yrs).

Most of humanity is not part of them, but Mormonism in particular is very quickly growing. Do you think it's success had to do with the aspect of being internally consistent, or some other attractive feature?

-1Rhwawn12y
I don't know about Mormonism. Reading calcsam's articles, I get the impression that the superficial archaeological gloss provides some intellectual respectability. But more generally, I get the impression that right now the Mormon community is still young and functional - like the early Christians, who really did provide a lot of charity, form loving accepting communities, pool their resources, etc. (And lost it as they grew. Any successful startup can sympathize.) If this is so, then we can expect to see their growth level off at some point. Early Christianity began losing it by the 300s or so, which gives Mormonism plenty of time left (but on the other hand, they grew much faster). How memetically fit their beliefs are now, consistency-wise or appeal-wise, I don't know. With Scientology, they have an interesting esoteric hierarchy of knowledge, which has long been a drawn to humans (think Eliezer's Conspiracy universe, or the Christian Gnostics, for that matter), and a number of half-baked Western & New Age derived techniques that apparently do work - a religious Toastmasters or pickup artist movement, you might say. (I think Luke posted an article on this. Could probably find it googling the 'Scientology stare'.) They haven't been that successful that their success stands in need of explaining; if they are still around in a century and have more than 10 million members, say, then they will be much more interesting a phenomena.

I'm enjoying this more and more. At first (and it was probably apparent), I was pretty defensive, particularly because this is obviously something personal and important and I felt a bit threatened. I think I (at least, maybe "we") have leveled off and are actually getting places now :)

if their belief is justified it's mostly the result of epistemic luck...

Well put, and we agree on that. Though your big bang cosmology example made me realize that this is more true in far more areas of my life than I am aware of (or even care to think about in... (read more)

3Rhwawn12y
My own personal belief (not that you were asking me) is that any religion around long enough during periods of intellectual progress will get some sort of internally consistent formulation, however much violence it may do to a naive reading of the original texts. Catholicism is a good example, with the reconstruction of theology by the Scholastics on top of the original revisionism of Paul and later Greek-influenced scholars like Augustine. But you could as easily point to Buddhism, which in areas has some pretty excellent philosophizing to back up its beliefs. (Reading Nagarjuna's Verses on the Heart of the Middle Way, I had the eerie feeling I was reading Sextus Empiricus's sharp logical paradoxes, just with different vocabulary.) Confucianism didn't do too shabbily after 2+ millennia of development, and even something as crude as Shintoism got some pretty heavy intellectual development during the Meiji era and run up to WWII, becoming part of the quasi-fascist nationalist ideology of those periods which apparently convinced the Japanese public and many intellectuals. (Nor did Japanese Buddhism escape this process of rationalizing - read Zen at War.)

I'll have to check into compatabilism more. It had never occurred to me that determinism was compatible with omniscience/intercession until my commenting with Vladimir_Nesov. In seeing wiki's definition, it sounded more reasonable than I remembered, so perhaps I never really understood what compatabilism was suggesting.

I'm not positive I get your explanations (due to simple ignorance), but it sounds slightly like what Adam Lee presented here concerning a prediction machine; namely that such a thing could be built, but that actually knowing the prediction w... (read more)

Great question! I was quite surprised to read this, and think it's quite the valid reply. In pondering it... my answer would come in a couple of ways.

1) There's nothing intrinsically different. If someone says "I believe in big bang cosmology" and has no trackable fact/reasoning path back to "why," they are unjustified in believing in big bang cosmology. Now, perhaps it will track back to "everyone talks as if the big bang is legit" or "I always see these articles that talk about the big bang and so I guess I figured it w... (read more)

I don't accept them as individually providing very much evidence at all...

Hard to tell what you meant. I didn't mean to ask whether you accept their belief as providing evidence for theism... only whether or not you think their belief is justified given the level of knowledge you expect from me not to believe.

Well it's a default explanation so I don't have anything for you specifically in mind.

But I still don't understand the meaning of that default explanation... and so I just meant "what types of things count as fitting the definition of 'lar... (read more)

4Will_Newsome12y
Oh, no, not really; I think on the whole their reasons for believing what they do aren't very good, and that if their belief is justified it's mostly the result of epistemic luck rather than their personal epistemic abilities as such. Sorry, misinterpreted you. I think the question of "why do people generally (profess that they) believe what they (profess that they) believe" is a very interesting question and worth serious study, but that any simple answer I attempt to give will be laughably oversimplified. Okay, then my points re LessWrong don't apply at all. It's probable that my default model doesn't apply and that your reasons for deconversion are largely due to your philosophical and general epistemic intuitions. By noticing conscious rationalization, mostly. That would at least clue you in that something funny is going on, if it is. I think that if you're trying to optimize for truthful and useful doctrine about morality and theology then Catholicism is the best bet unless you're astoundingly good at discovering the truth on your own. But I'm not highly confident in this judgment; you should learn from whoever is wise, and if for some reason the wisest person who's easily available is a Zen Buddhist, then you should likely become a Zen Buddhist. If there are no wise individual people around then I think Catholicism has the most reliably good infrastructure of doctrine, but again I may be wrong. If YHWH is around then He is indeed playing a subtle and puzzling game. I'm not very confident of theism; I think it's a problem of English that it's very difficult to consistently make claims of >10% but <50% certainty. And what my intuitions say and what my betting odds are are two different things; I know better than to just trust my intuition. The reason my statements are so vague is because it would take a lot of writing to explain my intuitions about moral philosophy and decision theory to people on LessWrong whose perspective differs greatly from mine. Even

Fair enough, and I've heard that before as well. The typical theistic issue is how to reconcile god's knowledge and free will, hence why I don't think we need to continue in this discussion anymore. You are responding to my questions based on things being determined, which is not what I think most theists believe.

This is why many attempts have been made to reconcile free will and omniscience by apologists.

But that's not the discussion I think we're having. It's shifted to determinism and omniscience, which I think is compatible, but I'm still not on board ... (read more)

Logical impossibility is a bad argument against theism, as it's possible to...

Good point, though my jury is still out on whether it really is possible to parse what it would mean to be omniscient, for example. Or if we can suggest things like the universe "knowing everything," it's typically not what theists are implying when they speak of an omniscient being.

...it's still unclear what you're inquiring about.

I think I'll just let it go. Even the fact that we're both on the same page with respect to determinism pretty much ends the need to... (read more)

True, but I more meant the idea of theistic intervention, how that works with intercession and so on. The world "knows" everyone's decisions... but no one intercedes to the world expecting it to change something about the future. But theists do.

I suppose one can simply take the view that god knows both what will happen, what people will intercede for, and that he will or will not answer those prayers. Thus, most theists think they are calling on god to change something, when in reality he "already" "knew" they would ask for it and already knew he would do it.

Is it any clearer what I was inquiring about?

1Vladimir_Nesov12y
Reality can't be changed, but it can be determined, in part by many preceding decisions. The changes happen only to the less than perfectly informed expectations. (With these decision-philosophical points cleared out, it's still unclear what you're inquiring about. Logical impossibility is a bad argument against theism, as it's possible to (conceptually) construct a world that includes any artifacts or sequence of events whatsoever, it just so happens that our particular world is not like that.)

...a high probability to it being omniscient and omnipotent, a fair probability to it being omnibenevolent...

I realize this is a necromancer post, but I'm interested in your definitions of the above. How do you square up with some of the questions regarding:

  • on what mindware something non-physical would store all the information that is
  • how omniscience settles with free-will (if you believe we have free will)
  • how omniscience interacts with the idea that this being could intervene (doing something different than it knows it's going to do)

I won't go on... (read more)

1Will_Newsome12y
On another note, I buy the typical compatibilist ideas about free will, but there's also this idea I was kicking around that I don't think is really very interesting but might be for some reason (pulled from a comment I made on Facebook): "I don't know if it ultimately makes sense, but I sometimes think about the possibility of 'super' free will beyond compatibilist free willl, where you have a Turing oracle that humans can access but whose outputs they can't algorithmicly verify. The only way humans can perform hypercomputation is by having faith in the oracle. Since a Turing oracle is construbtable from Chaitin's constant and is thus the only truly random source of information in the universe, this would (at least on a pattern-match-y surface level) seem to supply some of the indeterminism sought by libertarians, while also letting humans transcend deterministic, i.e. computable, constraints in a way that looks like having more agency than would otherwise be possible. So in a universe without super free will no one would be able to perform hypercomputation 'cuz they wouldn't have access to an oracle. But much of this speculation comes from trying to rationalize why theologians would say 'if there were no God then there wouldn't be any free will'." Implicit in this model is that universes where you can't do hypercomputation are significantly less significant than universes where you can, and so only with hypercomputation can you truly transcend the mundanity of a deterministic universe. But I don't think such a universe actually captures libertarians' intuitions about what is necessary for free will, so I doubt it's a useful model.
-1Will_Newsome12y
Note that I was pretty new to theology a year ago when I made this post so my thoughts are different and more subtle now. To all three of your questions I think I hold the same views Aquinas would, even if I don't know quite what those views are. How does Platonic mathstructure "store information" about the details of Platonic mathstructure? I think the question is the result of a confused metaphysic, but we don't yet have an alternative metaphysic to be confident in. Nonetheless I think one will be found via decision theory. My answer is the same as Nesov's, and I think Aquinas answers the question beautifully: "Free-will is the cause of its own movement, because by his free-will man moves himself to act. But it does not of necessity belong to liberty that what is free should be the first cause of itself, as neither for one thing to be cause of another need it be the first cause. God, therefore, is the first cause, Who moves causes both natural and voluntary. And just as by moving natural causes He does not prevent their acts being natural, so by moving voluntary causes He does not deprive their actions of being voluntary: but rather is He the cause of this very thing in them; for He operates in each thing according to its own nature." I think my answer is the typical Thomistic answer, i.e. that God is actuality without potentiality, and that God cannot do something different than He knows He will do, as that would be logically impossible, and God cannot do what is logically impossible.
9Vladimir_Nesov12y
Knowing your decisions doesn't prevent you from being able to make them, for proper consequentialist reasons and not out of an obligation to preserve consistency. It's the responsibility of knowledge about your decisions to be correct, not of your decisions to anticipate that knowledge. The physical world "already" "knows" everyone's decisions, that doesn't break down anyone's ability to act.

A very possible outcome. What's missing is what I pointed out above in my response to Dallas.

Nonetheless, it still strikes me as a complex situation and I'm not settled on how to judge potential future states and sum the collective happinesses of the stakeholders.

How does one factor in various happinesses, potentially negative views of myself and atheists in general, my childrens' development/emotional/intellectual health, and so on?

I could do that -- I wrote it in org-mode, which lets me export to nearly anything. I'll have to tweak some of the LaTeX specific stuff, but should be doable. Is it that the html version definitely displays in a browser vs. having to download a pdf if no browser plugin is available? Or to read on mobile devices? Just wondering what the appeal of html is. Thanks!

5dbaupp12y
All of those. And: * the pagination of an html page (i.e. none) is better for reading on a computer screen, * text resizing/zooming for people who need larger text, and * (I have a feeling that) screen reader software can read a webpage more easily than a pdf.

Thanks for the comment. As I put in the document, I'd like to move toward what I consider to be more productive endeavors, including diving in more fully here at LW.

That's a good sign. Thank you for your donation of time and effort!

Gotcha. I'm still not sure my specific readership will say, as you put it, "An, an atheist -- tl;dr," but I'll keep thinking about this. I hoped it would be concise (not necessarily 1 page, but not 10, either). As with most of my things, it ended up much longer than I expected. Thanks for the continued input.

Thanks for the comment. Similar to atorm, I did think it was perhaps a bit over the top in terms of its optimism, but I appreciate the gesture.

That's a good point I hadn't considered. Maybe I should stick to my overall plan and keep all reasons out of it. Your'e correct about my reason for including it; it was the major turning point. The point where I first questioned. I'll think more about rearranging or just ditching it and linking to it somewhere else.

The conclusion was also written on the very early side :)

Re. the Outsider Test, one of the most eye opening things for me, albeit recently and much post-deconversion, was listening to an Islamic convert from Christianity (example). While I still might not agree with his reasons, it was enlightening to hear someone talk with passion, conviction, reasons, scriptural backings, and so forth about a completely alien faith... all while using the same language, emotion, and excitement that I did about my faith.

I agree, and I was. I also started that first (naturally), so I think the idea of finally writing this was more dramatic to me at the time, hence what you're picking up. Hopefully the rest isn't like that (as much). I'll re-read with this in mind and try to be more natural.

Edit your first page until you can read it out loud to a stranger and have it sound like natural speech.

Well put, especially in terms of having something tangible to know when it's right.

0orthonormal12y
You're right, the rest of it is much better in style (although the last paragraph has the same problem). Also, thanks for the link to the Outsider Test- this is exactly what precipitated my own apostasy as well. In the midst of my usual cycle of faith and doubt, I started asking myself what someone who was like me except for my social and psychological pressures would think of the evidence. The answer was frighteningly clear once I started thinking like that.

Huh. What, then, do you believe when it comes to a deity? I may have misread this comment, but it strikes me as saying that you're Catholic for pragmatic/social reasons?

Put another way: what of Catholic doctrine counts as as "largely some really tricky game theory" and what counts as actually true?

2Will_Newsome12y
I'm not actually Catholic, only a prospective Catholic, and it's very possible that I'll never get around to actually getting confirmed; it seems like it would be consenting to the categorical rule of propping up institutions even when you're still rather unsure of how good they are compared to how good you should have expected them to be. I grew up agnostic and at some point identified as atheist, only converting to theism and gaining interest in religions besides Theravada Buddhism after I became a postrationalist one or two years ago; I haven't had enough time since then to come to any firm conclusions about the justification or lack thereof for converting to a particular religion. Oh, gosh. Um. * I think it's plausible that there is a God in the Thomistic or Leibnizian or Kantian(?) sense, and my intuition says there is. I think it's probable that there is an entity, identifiable as YHWH, Who seems to indicate that He is the Holy Ghost (Who is the optimization imposed on the physical world by the existence of that Thomistic God), but I have no idea how much evidence I should accept as enough evidence for His implicit claim to be the Thomistic God. There's that whole "by their fruits ye shall know them" thing but I don't know what counts as satisfactorily delicious fruit. It seems like Satan or any other transhumanly intelligent entity could just as easily provide the same delicious fruits, so this would seem to come down to some tricky reasoning about priors. I'm not yet familiar with the Catholic writings on discernment. * On the divinity and general metaphysical status of Jesus as Savior, this would seem to be some tricky reasoning about metaphysics on the one hand, and on the other hand, or more accurately on the other side of the same hand, it would seem to be some tricky reasoning about which Schelling focal points to carve out and hold fast to so as not to fall down all kinds of slippery slopes. I notice that if I or someone as generally prudent as me

Thanks for the honest reply. You are probably much smarter/informed than I am (not stated in a negative/sarcastic manner at all; I really mean that).

I guess I expected you to explain what specifically convinced you...

I stated why I didn't do that in my document. I consider the aspect of relating to friends/acquaintances, mutual understanding/sharing, and simply coming out more important than risking 1) no one reading it to understand/empathize, 2) people getting upset, and 3) unintentionally kicking off about 100 email debates.

...this is clearly an i

... (read more)
8Will_Newsome12y
This is sort of off-topic, but from the blog post you linked to: Why does this argument apply to Christianity but not to, say, big bang cosmology? Why am I not only allowed to profess belief in big bang cosmology but am positively expected to profess belief in big bang cosmology, despite the fact that I have very little understanding of the relevant arguments? If it's for reasons that are particular to Christianity, then why are we playing outside view burden of proof tennis?
0Will_Newsome12y
I don't accept them as individually providing very much evidence at all; in the vast majority of cases other factors screen off any evidence. Well it's a default explanation so I don't have anything for you specifically in mind. But that you're a member of LessWrong means there's a fair bit of pressure on you to believe whatever LessWrong thinks it's good to believe, and if your brain has decided that you're not getting much benefit or a feeling of recognition and status from the Catholic social sphere then it's liable to find ways to play up the importance of meshing with alternative social spheres like LessWrong. I don't deny that you've searched for truth in good faith, but you can search in good faith for ages and still be unsure what to do; the actual deciding factors tend to be unconscious or sentimental drives. I think they are both religious in the relevant sense, but not specifically Catholic. I accept their non-Catholicism as evidence against something but not really against the truth of Catholicism as such; it's more evidence against the benefit of tying yourself to Catholicism specifically rather than trying to forge a new religion. I think they have more agency than I do right now and so I don't think their non-Catholicism is much evidence that I'd be wrong to convert to Catholicism or that they think that I'd be wrong to convert to Catholicism. Ultimately I would like to make a new religion, which is I think what they'd like to do, but in the meantime I think Catholicism is the best religion around. I think this idea of a religion being true or false is clearly misguided; it's more a question of how you interpret the world and what institutions allow for more and more-justified optimization of the world, which is heavily contingent on pragmatics of human psychology. This is why I emphasized social psychology and game theory, because doing thorough analyses of questions like these is simply too difficult. We have to find a way to take people's impres
0Will_Newsome12y
Just a quick addition before I give a longer reply (which might take a day or two): apologies if I came across as brusque; I was trying to give my unmediated reaction because I figured it'd be a more accurate simulation of how smart Catholic readers would internally react. In a different context I wouldn't have e.g. just glossed over the fact that you've been thinking about these issues in good faith for the last two years or so.

Will Newsome is a theist in the same way that Clippy is a paperclip maximizer.

I just finished reading it, and I found it quite moving. It has a few minor syntax errors, but other than that it's good.

Thanks! I got some specific corrections from a blog reader; I'll update and re-upload the new version to avoid repeat corrections. Glad you liked it.

...your family is an order of magnitude larger than mine...

Well, community of religious believers. The family who will receive this, if any, is probably only ~20 strong. Which, in that case, perhaps I should wait until the next family get together to announce in person. Though, the be... (read more)

Fair points. Did you read the document? Other than a handful, none of my footnotes are scholarly references.

Some of this is from a practical standpoint. I had coffee and dinner and lunch dates with many, many close friends/acquaintances to tell them in person. The community I was involved in contains some 500 people. I don't know if I can have such an interaction with all of them. I'll keep thinking about this point, though. Maybe this would be counter-productive.

ETA: Oh, and sorry... I didn't answer the main question. My primary objective is simply to inf... (read more)

3Bugmaster12y
I just finished reading it, and I found it quite moving. It has a few minor syntax errors, but other than that it's good. Ok, I see, your family is an order of magnitude larger than mine. In this case, a document is probably the best way to go, otherwise you'd have to dedicate a year of your life just to talking to everyone :-) That makes sense. There's a danger that some people might find your document a bit, well, preachy; they might feel that you're trying to deconvert them, not merely inform them. I personally don't think your document comes off that way, but I'm trying hard to put myself into your audience's shoes. But maybe I'm over-compensating.

Good point, though Catholics are (can be?) pretty darn mild when it comes to hell. My wife and surrounding community are super tame concerning things like that. There's no outright judgment, but they still probably pray for the future of my soul.

I also plan on opposing things that seem to be unjustified/unreasonable outright. Hell would be one. First communion at age seven is another example. No child can comprehend what they need to in order to profess that a wafer just had it's essence turned into the flesh of a non-physical deity while retaining all of ... (read more)

What about other options:

  • She doesn't deconvert. We remain married, happily.
  • She doesn't deconvert. We remain married, unhappily.

I also predict she could get an annulment pretty easily given my deconversion, which adds another option:

  • I divorce her. She gets married when she's ready and is not ousted from the Catholic community.

Also, it seems like you've honed in on the beliefs of my children and wife as the most important factors (with a side of my wife's future unhappiness, but I'm not sure if you counted that toward the weakening of overall religi... (read more)

Thanks for the comment. I hope that won't happen, but definitely see your point.

Because you're implying that them being wrong about everything is possible.

Assuming you read it (or the first page), do you think that my paragraph about intentionally not offering any specific reasons will be any encouragement/enticement to stick around for the rest? I didn't add any arguments specifically because what you said above is so true. No one can listen or empathize once they feel the need to defend.

Also, given that many of these people really do care about my wi... (read more)

6David_Gerard12y
Yes, that's what I was trying to say - "atheists exist" is a sufficiently threatening thought to block all further consideration. (And, of course, Catholic apologetics is some of the most sophisticated in Christendom.) Idea that occurs to me: Do you think you could do a single-page summary? There's a chance they might read it and not just go "ah, an atheist - tl;dr". Then they can have the ten-page version if they like. "For the full version, see my blog."

Thanks for the comment. I kept some of the worst reactions from my religious acquaintances out of the document, by the way :)

I was surprised that Jesus not making more of a splash...

It wasn't, by itself. But consider someone with belief in belief, but who doesn't know it. Imagine the first time they encounter some belief that doesn't pay rent (say the bit about flour impermeability) and it brings down the whole thing. I actually think I had real belief... but I'm just illustrating the nature of what I think happened. Reading this bit about Jesus was th... (read more)

1NancyLebovitz12y
If you haven't already, you might want to think about what to say when your daughter gets told about hell. I didn't get told about hell as a possibility when I was a kid (my background is not-very-religious Jewish), but I gather it can be quite a shock.

Thanks for the note. Hopefully it will be well received by others. I've listened to Sweeney's main audio/tour/thingy (can't recall the name at the moment), but may have to revisit it again. (I noticed NancyLebovitz also mentioned it.)

This also seems like an odd, blanket generalization. We've had one set of interactions on one post... ever. How do you know what will happen in all my posts?

I was simply surprised that you'd think you obviously should have realized I had kids given that I was religious. And so I said something.

Good point, and I am. I've cross posted at my blog where I have religious, non-religious deconverts, others in similar situations, and religious readers. I'll also be sharing with closer friends in the target groups for pre-screening. This was one of many places I wanted to turn for input.

If you should have figured it out, and didn't, did learning so give you a dose of hindsight bias? I suspect that only after learning I had kids did it seem like a dead obvious fact that this was because I had a religious background. Now that you've found out, you will insist that I need to accept that the generalization was deserved.

Even if the two can be correlated (and that only even works with certain religious groups), I'm more commenting on the use of generalizations/stereotypes in general. Even if they're correct, it doesn't seem to add anything to p... (read more)

-11shminux12y

Oh, I didn't realize you had kids. Should have figured it out, given your religious background.

Might I suggest you work on your tact in human interactions?

Re. a split simply in the proximity sense, that did occur to me/us during a particularly low point -- mostly from my wife in order to help me figure out what I want. I think if I were in a lower emotional state, I'd consider that option more.

-2shminux12y
Feel free to spell it out for me how the inference that religious background => kids soon after marriage is offensive.

Thanks for reading it. I can export from org-mode into open document format and probably upload it. I'll get back to you if I do so. Many thanks for the proof-reading offer!

that was a fairly enjoyable read...

Anything that would make it more enjoyable? Or any examples of what mad it "fairly" enjoyable vs. "very" or simply "enjoyable"? (Just curious.)

Same for the comment "...will probably do what you want it to..." is that simply based on not knowing my exactly situation or due to some particular content that has y... (read more)

0atorm12y
It was fairly enjoyable because it was no Terry Pratchett or Ender's Game, not because of any points that really hurt it. And you are correct about "probably" referring to my lack of knowledge regarding your situation (mostly the people involved).
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