By DOUG SHAVER
I am not a professional scholar. I do claim to be an intellectual, but I have little in the way of published writings to show for it. I do enjoy writing, though, and thanks to the Internet, I can publish my stuff without having to convince an editor that lots of people will want to read it.
That is almost, but not quite, my only excuse for maintaining this site. I spend much of my online time debating with evangelical Christians and occasionally advocates of other ideas that are unscientific or illogical. I am developing this site partly as a repository of material to supplement the arguments I present in the various forums I frequent.
I got my first Internet account in the spring of 1999, thoroughly clueless about what I would discover. At that time, I was well read in science and the history of its development. This knowledge had led me to dismiss religion generally, and Christianity in particular, as so much superstition. But I knew little about Christianity's origins.
I was also largely ignorant of philosophy. I was vaguely familiar with most of the major names, but knew essentially nothing of the ideas they had espoused.
If you don't count barroom arguments -- and I quit drinking in 1987 -- I had done essentially no debating in my life before going online. A person does not have to learn anything while debating other people, but a person who won't learn is not really debating. He is only lecturing.
Some of the apologists I was encountering claimed the existence of evidence I had not heard of, or they appealed to philosophical arguments that I was unfamiliar with. To maintain my own intellectual integrity, I had to do some investigating. Some of them also challenged me on some notions I had taken for granted as common knowledge or obviously true. I had to do some more investigating.
Such investigations would have been nearly impossible for me a few years earlier. I have never lived in a city with a good public library, and I had no convenient access to any university's resources, either. The Internet made those constraints irrelevant. Internet sources must of course be carefully evaluated, but anyone practiced in critical thinking can with minimal effort determine whether there is solid evidence to support an assertion that factual evidence exists for a particular claim.
Some of the essays on this site report the results of some of those investigations. Others record my reflections on some philosophical issues pertinent to those investigations. If you enjoy reading them, I hope you will encourage others to read them, too.
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