Monday, May 6, 2013

Invite your atheist friends to StrangeNotions.com!



Hooray!


Whenever I get an email from Brandon Vogt, I know it's gonna be good. The email I received this morning was the best yet.

His new site, two years in the making and designed to be the central place of dialogue between Catholics and atheists, has just launched! It's called StrangeNotions.com, and as Brandon explains:
Strange Notions gets its name from St. Paul's speech at the Areopagus in Acts 17:16-34. There he proclaimed the Resurrection to the intellectual elite of the ancient world, who responded by saying, "you bring some strange notions to our ears; we should like to know what these things mean." 
StrangeNotions.com helps those asking the same thing today. Open-minded atheists will encounter reasonable arguments for God and his Church, maybe for the first time in their lives, and like St. Paul's listeners they’ll leave intrigued by these strange notions.

Hot dog!

The list of contributors includes friends of the Bubble (Dr. Stacy Trasancos, Jennifer Fulwiler, Dr. Kevin Vost, Trent Horn, Steve Gershom, Devin Rose, Joe Heschmeyer) and other Catholic rock stars (Fr. Robert Spitzer, Dr. Peter Kreeft, John C. Wright, Dr. Janet Smith, Fr. Robert Barron [swoon!!!], Leah Libresco, Jimmy Akin). Not to mention the myriad other giant minds

I am giddy. I am floating on a cloud. Here, watch the trailer:


And now, clear your schedule, grab a cup of tea, go to the site and start exploring:


Better yet, direct your atheist friends there. Truth be told, not every Catholic is able to debate these issues skillfully or possess the relevant knowledge, but the friendly, faithful, brilliant, and lettered contributors at StrangeNotions.com have that ability and are at your service. Let them engage your atheist friends and family with respect and intellectual rigor. 

Bookmark it, share it on facebook, feature it on your blog, email it to everyone you know. 

Did I mention that I am giddy?

Thanks, Brandon, for all you do!

+++++++




42 comments:

  1. Hooray! What a great idea! I love the name too!

    I'm so excited to visit this site, you can bet that I will be sharing it on FB and emailing it to my friends!

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  2. This sounds neat, I know a few people who I will be directing to the site.

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  3. First time commentor here, but I just had to thank you for sharing and redirecting. My husband is a cradle Catholic who has really gone away from his faith. Before he seemed indifferent about it, but this past year he has started questioning every little thing, so much so I can't keep up with him. It is nice to have these kinds of resources available!

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  4. Quite frankly, I prefer the dialogue here where there's no false pretension of balanced representation. Maybe when there are atheists who are regular contributors to Strange Notions it will be worth reading; until then, it's a thinly disguised site for Catholics to reiterate their creed.

    Also, the promotional video makes some problematic generalizations that should be addressed on the site.

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  5. Gwen, I am sure that Brandon would love your input. A nicer guy one simply cannot find. And remember, today is the first day it's been live, so it will take time to get a lot of atheists commenting and contributing to the dialogue.

    Also, it's not disguised at all. Obviously (or at least I thought it was obvious), the worldview presented and promoted on the site is Catholicism.

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  6. Gwen, I just watched the trailer again, and I am not sure what you mean by this:

    "Also, the promotional video makes some problematic generalizations that should be addressed on the site."

    All I saw on the trailer were questions that people have asked throughout the ages, and how heated the discussion has gotten today. What were the "problematic generalizations"? Not being snarky, truly don't understand.

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  7. That post by Trent Horn is gorgeous. Can we put to bed the ridiculous clumsy queries of, "But... but what came before the big bang. Can't we add and subtract from infinity??" No. The "adding or subtracting" to infinity is just a clever wannabe-math trick. You can't use sq rt of negative numbers and apply it to a reality, as he says, as I've been arguing with other people. The "i" symbol is used to solve equations as they can cancel out, but there is no application of this to time as reality. Also, clearly, infinity isn't possible, as we'd never arrive at today.

    +1 for my sanity factor today. Thanks, I needed that.

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  8. Nubby, you guys are so over my head with that science, which is why I need and love you! My mind cannot comprehend anything spacial or conceptual like that, so my head actually starts to hurt, ha ha! Trent is a hometown boy, who I've known for a few years, but now he's made it big…. I am so happy for him, and can say that I knew him when!

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  9. To Trent's point, even Hawking admits to there being a singularity, which means a beginning.

    To your point about difficulty of math concepts, etc. once you have the mind trained how to think regarding problem solving, you know what you can apply to solve a particular problem, no matter the subject matter. Basically 1) List what you know 2) List what you don't know (The trouble comes when you don't know what you don't know). If you know which equations to use, you can apply those and solve.

    If I have a more complex problem with four equations, each with four unknowns (a, b, c, d) and I know that I have a substitution I can use for b, I will plug that into the four equations to simplify. It's compartmentalized thinking, but the philosophy is the same no matter the subject matter. Once you know which equation to apply (assuming there's at least one), then it's a matter of application and calculation.

    The imaginary numbers bit doesn't calculate for time variables (even Hawking admits) because there's no real value to that idea (mathematically) at the end of the day.

    For instance, sqrt(-16) is 4i but i is an imaginary number, you can't actually calculate that number. It's place holder.

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    Replies
    1. You lost me at "hello", ha ha. But as long as you and Stacy are here, I'm good!

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  10. I have to kind of agree with Gwen on this one.
    "filled with bad logic and anger" writes the ad. Is he willing to admit that the bad logic and anger comes from both sides of the debate?
    Will prominant atheist top thinkers be invited to post, not just respond but post?
    If not then I am curious to see how that will differ from any other catholic based blog.

    Nubby, the questions still remain. You have determined your answer in god, others have not. That doesn't mean the question is answered. Do you understand that? Not trying to be snarky, just trying to get a realization that you understand that regardless of what you or I think is the truth, that may not be so.

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  11. I'm talking about math, not about belief in God.

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  12. Alan: You ask whether the creator of the site (i.e. me) is "willing to admit that the bad logic and anger comes from both sides of the debate?"

    Of course I am. The video never suggested it was only an atheistic phenomenon. The vitriol and shallowness extends in both directions.

    You also ask, "Will prominant [sic] atheist top thinkers be invited to post, not just respond but post?" This is answered on the site's "About" page:

    http://www.strangenotions.com/about/

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  13. Brandon,
    thank you for the answer.

    I think we view the video differently as to me it did seem to suggest one thing, but mine is a biased opinion based on what happens here. I hope your website is truly unbiased. That would be nice to see.

    I did not go on to website as I was leaving my house and have not had time since.
    Some day I will.

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  14. right Nubby
    you also are talking "Can we put to bed the ridiculous clumsy queries of, "But... but what came before the big bang."

    My point is until proven those questions will always be unanswered.

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  15. When you actually read the blog post and understand that I just answered why that question is irrelevant to the birth of the universe, then let's engage. I can't play the 'let's put lipstick on a pig and call it pretty' anymore, alan. Let's talk intelligently.

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  16. Alan, you are not an atheist, though, correct? The new site is for atheists and Catholics to dialogue, and you are a believer in God (but not a Christian). In no way am I saying that you should not frequent the new site (I think you should, deinitely! There is so much for all of us to learn!) but I just wanted to clarify.

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  17. Oh Nubs there ya go again.

    Leila, correct I am not an atheist.

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  18. "You lost me at "hello", ha ha.... "

    Ha! I'm in the same boat as you are Leila! I think I'll be one of those 'lurkers' I hear about when I visit Brandon's new website. I really can't see myself contributing anything worthwhile for quite some time. Nubby and her formula's proved that to me real fast :)

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  19. Sorry for the late reply. I disagree with the beginning of the intro video..."Since the beginning of time"-when would that be, precisely?

    And the questions that follow-we have no idea if our ancestors were asking those questions. The earliest archaeological evidence of ritual activity is 70,000 years ago. Were Neanderthals arguing over the concept of God? Maybe, Maybe not. Listing the names of some influential philosophers and great thinkers is all fine and well too, but there were women who were also great thinkers-why are they not listed?

    Finally, I take exception to the name of the very site, "Strange Notions" because it seems to me there is nothing strange at all about Catholicism to the Catholic bloggers on the site; rather, the message is that what's strange is that there could be atheists who don't accept Catholic Truth.

    Until there are atheist bloggers, writers, and thinkers engaging on the site, how can "dialogue with atheists" even be promoted? If this was truly a dialogue and a collaborative effort, there would be an atheist who was co-manager of the site. I appreciate that the "about" page is forthcoming about the Catholic ownership of the blog, but that only gets you so far if you really want "dialogue"

    Thanks
    g

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  20. Nubby
    I read what I think is the post, and I am still not sure how you answered the question. Nor am I sure Trent answered the question. Nor am I sure Hawking answered the question.
    Call me stupid, that is fine with me.
    But my point is, has been and will continue to be, that the question remains, what started the universe?
    Has that question been answered definitively? If so what is that answer?

    Now I guess my question to Brandon should he still be reading.....was your lipstick on a pig and lets talk intelligently (I believe the implication was that I was not) comment snarky? I found it to be so, enough that I almost made a comment that I am certain would have gotten me chastised by Leila even though it would have been quite funny.

    And Gwen
    exactly what you said. I agree.

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  21. Miss G, did you miss this part of the post?

    Strange Notions gets its name from St. Paul's speech at the Areopagus in Acts 17:16-34. There he proclaimed the Resurrection to the intellectual elite of the ancient world, who responded by saying, "you bring some strange notions to our ears; we should like to know what these things mean."

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  22. and I am still not sure how you answered the question.

    I wasn't answering any question. I was commenting on math. My comment regarding Trent's post referred only to the point Trent makes about the math used in regards to there being infinity or an infinity model. To ask, "What came before this universe, and before that, and before that, and before that...?" is irrelevant because the math relies on imaginary numbers. They serve as place holders when solving equations, but there is no value in an imaginary number. That's what I commented on.

    what started the universe? Has that question been answered definitively? If so what is that answer?

    The Big Bang is the physical answer as to what started the universe. The scientific community agrees upon this theory. The universe is expanding, they've observed red shifting and residual radiation, etc.

    The more pertinent question beyond the physical beginning of the universe is, "If nothing existed, no dimension, no matter, no energy, no movement, no event then where did all the matter and energy come from?" If there was a big bang, what caused the big spark, or where did the big spark come from?

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  23. right Nubby, you were not answering a question. You were just saying why the question could no longer be asked. Is that right?

    And your answer is because of math?

    But now are you saying you agree with the scientist that the big band did indeed create the universe?

    And yes I agree with you that the pertinent question may well be what you stated. And that is indeed what I was referring to when I said there are no provable answers currently. Do you disagree with that statement?

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  24. You were just saying why the question could no longer be asked. Is that right?

    The question itself is irrelevant, because mathematically speaking, there's no value. No calculations can result.

    And your answer is because of math? Yes.

    But now are you saying you agree with the scientist that the big band did indeed create the universe?

    I've always agreed with the BB. There's no correlation between the BB and imaginary numbers that try to grab a hold of infinity.

    We know when the BB occurred There's a starting point. Infinity is . It's a distraction, even Hawking knows there is a boundary to our universe that all the imaginary numbers in the world can't get chase away.

    I wouldn't leave off at "the big bang created the universe" because I believe there's plausible evidence, of all kinds, that point to a Creator. The Creator created the matter and energy and by His breath and His word. He thought it, created and said something akin to, "Now!", and boom-- here comes time, space, dimension, matter, energy, laws, where nothing was before, out of His own essence.

    when I said there are no provable answers currently. Do you disagree with that statement?

    Provable about God? Science doesn't prove or disprove God. Where science leaves off, you take to another field and apply what you know to get to a plausible conclusion.

    Is it reasonable that the universe just came together suddenly on its own? Is it logical or plausible, thinking that nothing gave the initial spark? Is that more reasonable than believing a Higher Being, Super Intellect had to touch our universe?

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  25. so what happened before the big bang is all about math?

    it's as reasonable to believe the universe just came together as it is to believe god created it.

    That was my original point though, the question exists whether you think it is illogical or not.

    But what field proves the existence of god?

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  26. so what happened before the big bang is all about math?

    Where is your disconnect in the reasoning between the idea of an infinity and pre-big bang eras, and the fact that the universe has a definite beginning?

    it's as reasonable to believe the universe just came together as it is to believe god created it.

    How is this remotely reasonable? Where did the matter come from? Where did the energy come from? If we have nothing one instant, then in an instant later, we have a universe, how does this hold to reason that it just showed up? That idea is an impossibility, especially considering that infinite universes are completely cast aside as nonsense.

    If you are going to assert that "it's as reasonable to believe the universe just came together as it is to believe god created it", you should be whipping out some good arguments at this point.

    That was my original point though, the question exists whether you think it is illogical or not.

    I don't care if the question exists. Plenty of unintelligent questions exist, plenty of nonsense exists. Pre-big bang eras are irrelevant to the topic

    But what field proves the existence of god?

    Big Bang cosmology as it relates to the second law of thermodynamics, space-time geometry for time's beginning, quantum cosmology, the BVG theorem, extreme improbability of our anthropic universe, universal constants such as space and time, energy, individuating constants, large scale and fine structure constants, Penrose's calculation of our universe arising amid the phase-space volume of possible universes, philosophical proofs such as Lonergan's proof, proof of a creator of past time, David Hilbert's rejection of infinities, analysis by top physicists that show the contradiction and impossibility of there being a mathematical infinity, causality or causation principles, metaphysical arguments, should I go on?

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  27. "Miss G, did you miss this part of the post?

    Strange Notions gets its name from St. Paul's speech at the Areopagus in Acts 17:16-34. There he proclaimed the Resurrection to the intellectual elite of the ancient world, who responded by saying, 'you bring some strange notions to our ears; we should like to know what these things mean.'"

    JoAnna, I did see the above snippet from the website. The quote and the name of the website still ring alarm bells to me. 1) I have no idea what passage in the Bible this is so I have no context for it-and I'm guessing other atheists probably don't have a firm grasp on all Bible passages either. 2) If the passage is alluding to what might transpire between atheists and Catholics on a website, then it also attempts to put words in the mouths of atheists i.e., that we're all just a-waiting for those "strange notions" of Catholicism to be shared with us so we can be "saved." Far from it.

    It's almost as if I decided to put together a pamphlet on Catholicism and titled it, "Getting to know Catholics better: The odd lifestyle of these people and other questions you might have before realizing the only logical conclusion is that there is no god" I wouldn't exactly expect it to be popular reading in the Catholic community, nor would I make claims that it was all intended to foster dialogue. I'd expect such material would be offensive, incorrect and probably a bad way of getting to know Catholics.

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  28. Here is your context, Miss G: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Areopagus_sermon

    I think you're putting words in the mouth of Brandon Vogt et al if you make such giant assumptions as to why that particular name was chosen.

    Don't you think Christianity in and of itself is a "strange notion"? The name doesn't sound very complimentary to Catholicism or Christianity, so your last paragraph leaves me puzzled.

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  29. What's the main area of concern? Just the title?
    Are the words "strange notions" intimidating? It's not "atheists are strange" or some personal attack. It's about notions, ideas, mysteries of the Divine that could easily sound strange to someone unfamiliar w/ the Resurrection.

    If you put together your pamphlet on Catholicism, I wouldn't care about the title as much as the content. If it was a blog you put together where atheists narrowed their audience with Catholics specifically, I'd chime in, if I felt it worth the effort, no matter the blog title.

    You've commented on Strange Notions, so you're not too bothered by it, right.

    Are you bugged by the words Little Catholic Bubble? Afterall, you knew you'd be learning about Catholicism by reading and/or commenting on Leila's blog.

    Since you were invited to chime in there, why not just bring up topics that you want to discuss on relevant blog posts? Strange Notions has a wide range of posts and lots of decent Catholics. Did you find any of it interesting or worthwhile, besides the post you commented on?

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  30. Actually, Gwen, the "strange notions" is in reference to the beliefs of Catholics, not of atheists. So, it's self-depricating to name a site thusly.

    If atheists are friendly and if they debate in good faith with an eye toward truth-seeking, I don't care at all what the title of their pamphlet or blog would be.

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  31. Well, this is mostly proving my point-the title of the site, without too much thought, immediately connotes something incredibly different from the Catholic perspective (confusion, I might add that could have been avoided if there was actual Catholic-atheist collaboration in building the site). Will it keep me from reading something here and there on the site and commenting? Probably not, and I'll be curious to see if there are ever any atheist contributors. Until then, my critique stands.

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  32. And I'm still confused by your critique, as Brandon explicitly spells out the meaning of the title and provides the verse in context:

    Strange Notions gets its name from St. Paul's speech at the Areopagus in Acts 17:16-34. There he proclaimed the Resurrection to the intellectual elite of the ancient world, who responded by saying, "you bring some strange notions to our ears; we should like to know what these things mean."

    StrangeNotions.com helps those asking the same thing today. Open-minded atheists will encounter reasonable arguments for God and his Church, maybe for the first time in their lives, and like St. Paul's listeners they’ll leave intrigued by these strange notions.


    Maybe there will be atheist contributors in the future, as Brandon has noted. For now, there is no secret about the fact that it is founded, and articles written, by Catholics. I am glad you are reading occasionally, and commenting. Both here and on Brandon's site.

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  33. Strange Notions looks amazing and Is so needed. I see a trend of atheists or secular reletivists starting to just dismiss theists and shutting down debate. Somehow any ideas that have even a hint of religious or biblical origin are categorized as unworthy of address. And some Christians that won't take a couple hours to learn how to answer honest questions by people about why they believe from a standpoint of reason. It's all kinda lazy. And a lack of dialogue neVer bodes well historically. So when I see an immediate objection to the name of new website, I say, come on guys. You're really concerned and bothered by that? I love this blog because first I very much agree with Leila's perspective and world view but also because of the awesome debates and sound dialogue, half of which I barely understand. The long debate with Andre a while back just about gave me Bell's Palsy but I learn so much when you guys go the distance . Really , thank you all and please keep it up. It really is appreciated and I hope my kids someday will Be able back at the great dialogues on places like Strange Notions And be able to say "see , they really tried" "this is how you make peace"

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  34. Chris, first of all, you are hilarious! And second, I agree with you that dialogue is shut down so quickly, too quickly, and for the reasons you state. One thing I especially chafe at is the dismissal of great minds (GIANTS) such as Aristotle, Seneca, Augustine, Aquinas, et al., simply because they are not "modern" minds. As if great philosophical truths and wisdom can only be found today? Makes no sense.

    Thanks for your compliments. I write this blog mainly for Catholics to come to know and learn and love (and be able to defend) their faith, but also for my children and grandchildren to read one day. Which is why I am glad StrangeNotions is out there now, too. :)

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  35. Chris,
    I think the point against the title is that the blog (in my understanding) is to foster a dialog about topics between atheist and catholics. However the title itself leads one to think that the no catholic opinion is wrong (strange notions catholics have, we atheist must learn more about them), and that we need to be learned in the ways of catholics and their church (also far to often referred to as truth).
    At least that is how I see it. Do you at least understand what I am trying to say?

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    1. sorry meant to say that the title leads one to think that the catholic opinion is not wrong.

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  36. Nubs,
    You can go on for as long as you want with your explanations.
    But it won't be for me as once you say " I don't care if the question exists. Plenty of unintelligent questions exist, plenty of nonsense exists" I have no real desire to attempt to discuss anything with you.

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  37. Thank you! Have a great day!

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  38. It is an interesting site and obviously a labor of love. I hope it works out.

    Honesty, as a former atheist and someone with a number of atheist friends, I never found logic to be all that helpful when talking to atheists about Catholicism. It is very, very hard to have a decision based on logic when you are working from different premises. There tends to be a lot of anger, exasperation and frustration because both sides feel the other side is completely missing the point of what they are saying.

    Maybe others have a different story, and I would love to hear if so because I've never really seen it work very well.

    To my friends who appear truly curious about the existence of God I always purpose this exercise. Catholics believe prayer is a way to have a conversation with God. Our highest and best prayer is the Mass. If you want to know if God exists- go to Church. Commit to going to Mass for a month (3 would be best, but just a month if that is all you can stand.) Mass is one hour, one day a week.

    Go a few minutes early and direct your thoughts to God (basically just think in your head.) Tell him you think this is dumb and you aren't sure He exists but if He does exist maybe He can help you understand what this is all about. Talk to Him like you would a close friend- tell Him what you are worried about etc. Then sit through the Mass. If you think something is funny/odd/stupid try to keep and open mind and tell God (like you would a close friend- Hey this is kinda weird to me.) Every conversation has give and take so try to be quiet and give God a chance to respond. See how you feel at the end of the time frame.

    I told one of my good friends: If you want to know if God exists- go ask Him and give Him a chance to reply to you. If you aren't going to give God an honest chance to defend Himself- nothing I have to say will convince you.

    (I always tell them the rules about Communion beforehand.)

    I don't mind answering their questions about Catholicism and our traditions but if they want to debate the existence of God- I send them to Church. :-)

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