I am starting a new series spotlighting an individual about pretty much anything whether it is about religion, politics, science, philosophy, etc. Pretty much anything! I hope this will be very interesting for you and it will be a learning process for all of us. Again, these individuals are interviewed on Reddit. For security reasons, the username and name of these people will not be named.
Make sure you read The Purpose of the Blog to fully understand this.
For the first post of this series and I’m so excited to interview a Cognitive scientist because I want to do that for a living. I will be studying that soon.
Tell me a bit about yourself? Age, what country you live in, what you do for a living (just for the readers sake)?
I am 22 years old and I live in America. I also just got married. I just finished my undergraduate level and got a degree in Cognitive Science. Over the past several summers, I have been working at an internship and now I have a full-time position with them. They are also paying for part of my Ph.D. research and schooling. Cognitive science is essentially the study of the mind. Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary study of mind and intelligence, embracing philosophy, psychology, artificial intelligence, neuroscience, linguistics, and anthropology. I focus on the psychology and neuroscience part in my work mostly.
photo by www.ncku.edu.tw
What’s your favorite thing about science in general and/or cognitive science?
My favorite thing about science would be discovering something new. I absolutely love researching because it is a passion of mine to improve many lives! Science has provided many ways to help people and specifically the study of the mind has provided a way for us to figure out how humans function, how we can improve ourselves, and keep from harming ourselves. This is a great thing for me to be part of.
Who’s your 3 favorite scientists?
Hmm…that is really tough. Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, and James Clerk Maxwell.
Interesting! None of those are cognitive scientists or psychologists? Who are your favorite scientists in those fields?
My favorites are: Alan Turing, Sigmund Freud, Steven Pinker, and Carl Jung. I work with a lot of computer scientists (this is what Alan Turing focused on) and psychologists.
Now, I know you mentioned that you are Christian. Were you raised that way?
Actually, I wasn’t Christian or religious at all. My dad was and is still an atheist. My mom was an agnostic bordering on atheism for some time but then she converted to Christianity – specifically to Catholicism. Most of my family are quite anti-religious. I took after my atheist dad and started reading (at a really early age) into Karl Marx, Ayn Rand, Sigmund Freud, Bertrand Russell, Stephen Hawking, Lawrence Krauss, Carl Sagan, and Friedrich Nietzsche, etc. As I like to call them, “the hardcore intellectual atheists.”
So what changed your mind? Do you have a story? Any details?
Well, I used to really get into debating Christians and theists in general and sometimes would mock them. My mom would sometimes when I was younger to go to mass with her and not to name any details on this blog, I mocked and yelled at the priest for saying something. My dad heard about this and even though he is an atheist, he doesn’t believe in mocking others. So his punishment for me was to read the entire Bible and write a 50-page essay on it. Of course this was real punishment for me and he knew this so he was hoping that I would read it and realize how dumb it was and write a couple of pages but then drop it. I didn’t stop researching and read many books about this topic.
What books did you read?
I read many books but these 4 are my top.
Science and Christianity: Conflict or Coherence? by Henry F. Schaefer III.
There Is A God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind by Antony Flew
Quantum Physics and Theology: An Unexpected Kinship by John Polkinghorne.
The Language of God by Francis Collins
I also read many historical books on Jesus and the Resurrection and believed it to be very powerful. The Testimony of the Evangelists by Simon Greenleaf is a great book from one of the most critical skeptics of Jesus who thought he (Jesus) was a myth and mocked everyone who believed he was real or was a Christian. He and others who have written about this topic came to believe it because they were led my logic, evidence that is available, and intuition that the most common explanation was that he was raised from the dead. Until otherwise, I see no reason to not believe. The more I read about Jesus, the more I believed.
Religion is always said to be anti-religious, what is your response to this? Most of the top scientists today seem to be atheists…what do you think about that?
It really depends on the claim of the religion, really? If it says that the world was created in 6 days or that evolution is wrong. Things like that we can certainty say are completely false 100%. Religion is not the enemy of science though. If you look at history, militant atheists from the Soviet Union did more to damage and suppress science and kill scientists who advocated the ” The Big Bang”, which scientists even well known atheist scientists today say that has theological implications. Thus, some atheist scientists have tried to deny it (The Big Bang) such as Fred Holyle, Thomas Gold, Hermann Bondi, and others. They even tried to come up with a new theory ( Steady state theory) but it failed to be scientifically valid. The very fine-turning is something that atheist scientists have trouble with. The idea of time as well is something that is on theists side. Stephen Hawking (atheist scientist) said, “Many people do not like the idea that time has a beginning, probably because it smacks of divine intervention.”
One of the main things that turned me off my atheism was the “New Atheism” which is basically a bit of “odd atheism” (if you will), a small slice of intellectual arguments for atheism, with a huge slab of mockery, arrogance, historically and biblical incorrect information, and fallacies. Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel Dennett (although I do like him since he’s a cognitive scientist) have done very little to nothing to make atheism the most logical position.
What you’re talking about with a lot of the top scientists being atheists is used by atheists a lot – thus atheism is the most logical position. That is considered a fallacy call argument from authority. Back in history, most scientists believed there to be a God. Most of the Nobel science winners have been Christians, deists, or theists in general. Nothing big has changed since then that could swing people from theism to atheism. So that means absolutely nothing.
A lot of atheists say that being a Christian is wishful thinking and that you are “just afraid of the dark.” How do you respond to that?
First of all, scientifically speaking (because of cognitive science) atheism is impossible. We are hard-wired to believe in God or have religious beliefs. Graham Lawton, an atheist himself says that our fundamental beliefs are decided by much deeper levels of consciousness (implicit) and that even committed atheists “tacitly hold religious beliefs , such as God and immortal soul.” So when an atheist makes fun of a religious person, it’s like if they were to make fun of a bald person. A bald person can’t really help that he is bald nor can a person – it is who we are and atheists are either lying or having a “war within themselves.” We are born-believers not atheists. Believing is the default position.
However, to answer your question, atheists have wishful thinking as well. I’ve asked many atheists that if there was 100% proof of Christianity being right, would they become Christians themselves and most of them said “no.” They would acknowledge it as right but no worship God, admit their sins thus becoming a Christian. Interesting because atheists only want “evidence” but evidence is still not enough to become a Christian. Whenever I talk to atheists, it seems like they always downplay/belittle the strong arguments that go for God and always the arguments for atheism make total sense.
A famous atheist philosopher, Thomas Nagel said this in his work, “The last Word”: “I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.”
Lawrence Krauss an atheist was debating William Lane Craig (Christian apologetics) and said this, ” “You talk about this God of love and everything else. But somehow if you don’t believe in him, you don’t get all the benefits, so you have to believe. And then if you do anything wrong, you’re going to be judged for it. I don’t want to be judged by God; that’s the bottom line.”
Again, wishful thinking. Easiest thing to do if you don’t want to believe in a God like that, is to keep saying to yourself, “I don’t believe in a God or need him.”
You said earlier in a conversation before we started this interview that you and your wife help women who are abused, please explain that?
Yes, I did mention that. My wife is a counselor for a Christian organization that helps women who are abused, mistreated, raped, etc and to help physically, mentally, and spirtually as well. Helping them become Christians is not the top reason why they use religious and spiritual ways to help them but studies have shown that they do work. A lot of those women are doing very well given their certain circumstances and my wife puts a lot work in to help them. We invite some of the women over for dinner and that is also great! We have a great ministry to them!
Once again, thank you for taking the time for this interview!
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