About the Inquisitor

I am John Purcell, a 58 year old, white, married male, a lawyer by trade, living in America, and an atheist. I’ve been agnostic, or areligious, or just intellectually lazy (pick one) since I was a teenager. I attended Catholic elementary and secondary schools, but never found much substance to the various religious courses I was forced to take. None of the thinking ever coalesced for me. Once I graduated from high school, I became convinced that organized religions were simply institutions of self-perpetuation, but I avoided the ultimate question of whether there was actually a god. To a certain extent, it didn’t matter to me, I didn’t care, because I was (pick one from above). But in quiet moments it bothered me. Did he or didn’t he? Was she or wasn’t she? Is he or isn’t he?

Finally, about four or five years ago, once I reached the age where my children were almost grown, and it was natural, and even expected, to be a bit more philosophical as one got longer in the tooth, and after some chance discussions with online friends, I took the bull by the horns, and began a serious, systematic inquiry, on the pros and cons of whether there was a god. I read all the books I could get my hands on. Some day I’ll list them. I joined Internet Infidels and debated many of the issues I was reading about, but mostly read other posts, and learned a lot. As I said, I started from the agnostic position, so my tendency was to confirm that, but I kept an open mind. Once I felt conversant in skepticism and critical thinking, I knew that theism made no sense.

So here I am.

And for those of you who are a bit younger than me, or who may not “get” the allusion in my title, it’s from a very famous (at least to me) Monty Python skit. You can read along here: Written skit.

Oh. And I’m not Spanish. Not even remotely Hispanic. More like a mongrel mix of Irish, German, and a few other northern Europeans so far unidentified.

And at About the Inquisitor – Redux, I’ve expounded a bit more.

55 thoughts on “About the Inquisitor

  1. We have our similarities. I’m a white male, 53, with no beliefs in the supernatural. In the category of “differences”, I was raised a Mormon, knew from early teens that it was bunk, and became an atheist before I was 20. People told me that I would “come back to Jesus”. i never have and at 53 have never been so certain that there is no god. My kids are grown also. They were raised as born-again Christians in my wife’s faith. I didn’t interfere but I have always spoken my mind with them, her and everyone else. I don’t think I’m a classic “angry atheist” – I just know what I think and not afraid to say it. Oh, and I’m not a lawyer! More like a retired/disabled muser of the absurdities of existence. Good blog. As an attorney, you have a lot to contribute to the discussion. Carry on!

  2. I found it just randomly going on the wordpress.

    Love the logic and rational explanations and theorizations used. Kudos and keep being skeptical.

  3. I’m always fascinated by the fact that in the U.S. believing in a god is THE NORM, whereas in western Europe, where I was raised, it is quite the opposite. In fact, people who discover “God,” especially the Christian god, are usually viewed with some suspicion, hence ex-PM Tony Blair’s reluctance to talk about his own faith in public. Unlike his buddy George W.

  4. Spanish Inquisitor -

    Thanks for the comments on my blog. I’m not exactly sure why you think I would moderate your comment but thanks for the challenge. And yes I posted it. I don’t know anyone Christian or not, who being convinced in what they think, doesn’t honestly wish for others to know what they think they know and to cause others to think about things. This means we all think we are right in some respects. You think you are right in your position as atheist, I think I am right as a believer in God. We hope that through dialogue we will strengthen the position of our thinking or learn, but this does not happen by only listening to those who agree with us and think like us. I obviously hear from many who think like me, which makes me feel good but doesn’t always teach me something or stretch my thinking. Mostly, these kind of things stroke our egos. As I read some of your blog I notice (like mine) many who basically agreed with each other. My hope was to comment and enter into the dialogue with my thinking, which is obviously going to originate from a different logical path and reasoning in addition to drawing different conclusions. I have realize from other commenters that they only want to hear from those who think in a similar vein and to say differently with equal conviction provokes frustration or anger. I’m not sure I understand that. But, for the sake of honest dialogue I thank you for allowing my thoughts to be shared because I know they will be different. In the same way I welcome your thoughts knowing they are different. I would love to change you position. I don’t necessarily expect to. I do however want to know how you and others think and why. This helps me understand your logic and reason though though it may not change my thinking.

    As for others who have commented, though angry or vulgar comments don’t offend me, they don’t make for good debate or intelligent conversation.

    Thanks.

  5. SI – I very much enjoy your blog. I was raised by devout agnostics right here in the christian-saturated USA. Holidays tend to please me – I like chocolate Easter bunny ears and Santa Jesus and all that business – the ones the christianists stole from the pagan religions, I suppose. But the rest of it appalls me. I’m currently calling myself a secular protestant. That’s protest-ant. I object to the political and personal intrusion of religious fanatics into my life. I object to the irrational basis of the entire religion. Thanks so much for using your time and skill to write about this business. I think and write about religion in my fiction, but get a little fearful about direct confrontation. Religious folks seem dangerous to me.

  6. Pingback: The Coming Out Godless Project » Blog Archive » About the Inquisitor - Redux

  7. hello there. Saw your post on Daylight Atheism and I’m from the ‘burg too! Glad to have a chance to read your blog.

    vel

  8. Interesting views. I would agree with some but most, NAAAAAAH. I can see where people would believe to not believe by the way they were treated , misled , deceived and abused. Christianity is faith in a person , Jesus Christ not a religion. But you must already know that because you are an attorney and you would rightly divide the word and be open minded.
    You have already summed up that people are religious and not Christian. You must have heard that the devil is religious. Religion sucks but Jesus is the great Creator. He always existed. Knowledge and science? He created it.

    I know of an attorney a few years ago that was an atheist. He questioned and studied the Bible and God. You know where I am going with this. Yes , he now believes.

    There are a lot of fakes and phonies , but God will weed them out, to put it bluntly. Perhaps you had some bad experiences. Bad people, bad rules, bad examples, bad theology can drag you down. The Lord gives us freedom of choice and He loves us even though at times we may question. Time was when God became a man. Do you think that man created a god in his image. Sounds like Jethro Tull.

    I have questioned and still do in some ways. I do believe and trust in faith. Faith in the complete work of Christ on the cross. Nothing else will bring me closer to eternal life.

    It is refreshing to hear another opinion from time to time. Even though we disagree quite a bit.

    Interesting picture. Jesus was male and a Jew. And…He is Lord.

    I am 56 and still serving Christ since age 26. Although I served as a Salvation Army Officer for 25 years I still try to help people and serve God.

    Bob

  9. Bob

    There seems to be some hope for you. Most Christians usually avoid sites like this as the plague. So feel free to come back. You might actually learn something you won’t find in your favorite two books.

    I can see where people would believe to not believe by the way they were treated , misled , deceived and abused.

    It always amazes me when a believer such as yourself cannot understand atheism to the point that you have to convince yourself that the only reason people don’t believe is because they had a bad experience with it.

    I didn’t. I had a very good experience in religion. Catholic schools provided a very good education. Much of my morality came through the mouths of Catholic people. It’s just that intellectually, religion, and especially Christianity, makes no sense. Period.

    So if you want to delude yourself that perhaps a nun hit me too hard with her ruler, and that helps you sleep at night knowing there’s all these atheists out there that don’t agree with you, go right ahead. It’s not true. But neither is anything you believe in. If it makes you happy though, I won’t try to convince you otherwise.

    I know of an attorney a few years ago that was an atheist. He questioned and studied the Bible and God. You know where I am going with this. Yes , he now believes.

    Yeah, well, I know a lot of people who believed all their life, and now are confirmed atheists. What does that prove?

    Nothing else will bring me closer to eternal life.

    Actually a better way of saying that is “Nothing else will bring me closer to eternal life.” Life is not eternal.You’re deluding yourself, but, again, enjoy your delusion.

    Interesting picture. Jesus was male and a Jew.

    How do you know that? And who says that’s a picture of Jesus up there? He’s not the only person in history who was supposedly crucified, you know.

  10. I was raised as a strict atheist which I have found to be very uncommon. Most parents who have forsaken religion just don’t talk with their children at all about it. My parents on the other hand specifically taught me not to believe in god. This may seem shocking from a faith-centric viewpoint but relatively it is no different then teaching children to believe in god. I now believe that children should receive no religious influence, it is something that people need to decide for themselves when they are of age to actually reason and think logically.

    Strangely enough as I grow older I have become more and more receptive to the possibility of becoming religious. This has nothing to do with pascals wager or any kind of logical thought or philosophical evidence, but rather is a feeling which I can not ignore any longer.

    Just goes to show that religious education probably has a inverse effect.

  11. Thanks for your comment.

    If you find yourself heading into religion, notice the word your used to describe why. “Feeling”. Religion is a very “feeling” kind of worldview. Atheism is a very “thinking” kind of worldview.

    Try not to end up like Gideon.

    Good luck.

  12. Since you wouldn’t let anyone comment on your comment policy, I thought I’d end run you and do it here. See, God created the ability to moderate comments, thereby proving that God exists. By not exercising God’s will, you are being blasphemous and when your posts die they will all burn in an eternal lake of warm water, with champagne and hors d’oeuvres and pretty girls in bikinis. See you there, dude!

  13. I guess that’s why you do it on your blog, “Humping Lions”, eh, Ricco? :lol:

    I think it’s more along the lines of exercising your right to be a chickenshit pussy asshole, though, isn’t it? Isn’t that why comments magically disappear without even a moderation notice on your rag? You made that quite clear in your comment policy, that you only want stuff that you agree with… hey, that’s the way it is with most atheist blogs, isn’t it?

    Well, “Dude”, you don’t look that interesting, anyway. Keep up the non-good work. See ya… bye… whatever…

    Carolina… you go, girl! ;-)

  14. By not exercising God’s will, you are being blasphemous and when your posts die they will all burn in an eternal lake of warm water, with champagne and hors d’oeuvres and pretty girls in bikinis.

    Just don’t tell Gideon! He’s such a buzz-kill when he tries to crash hell..

  15. I guess that’s why you burn them over at “Humping Lions”, eh, Ricco? So you can get into atheist heaven with all your chickenshit friends?

    Ildiot… what are you doing over here at this hour, fully clothed? Shouldn’t you be cuffed to a bedstand about now?

    Carolina… you go, girl! ;-)

      • Of course he shouldn’t be banned. Only hypersensitive weenies get all harangued about this crap. The whole charade is silly. Hundreds and hundreds of comments on your threads and mostly all of it about silliness, whether or not we should “ban” this horrible affliction that’s disrupting “some imagined decorum” (love that phrase, Ex).

        Idea: how about everyone promises to address only the arguments for two weeks here. Let’s see what happens.

        • cl, I hardly qualify as a sock puppet when I never show up on a blog with any other name but the one I’m using now. If that were the criteria for being a sock puppet, we’d all of us be guilty for not using our real names. In this case, I must have inadvertently punched in an old email address on the comment form that was still associated with my old Highwayman WordPress account. I have a bitch of a time (for some reason) getting through this guy’s spam filter as it is, and so was distracted.

          Besides, SI, you might want to take a gander at my blog where one of you geniuses is currently masquerading as some homeless eunich trying to convince me of the virtues of castration… any ideas whom THAT might be? Three guesses, first two don’t count!

          Hint: Whom do we know around here that preaches non-procreation?

          Simple logic.
          ;-)

        • I hardly qualify as a sock puppet when I never show up on a blog with any other name but the one I’m using now.

          I didn’t say you were a sock puppet. I don’t know.

  16. Just leave Gideon and his friends to me. I’ll hold his head under the champagne until he renounces baptism and accepts me as his god. It takes about 20 seconds according to the CIA manual.

    • The only ‘head’ you’ll be holding is that of one of your bimbo atheist boyfriends, Riccolo. It takes more than a glance through Mad Magazine’s “Spy vs. Spy” to get one over on the ol’ Gid!

      So, you just run on home, back to “Humping Loins”, and see if any of your coochies are still willing to put out for you, sonny!

      • Pathetic. Ignorant. Gay. Desperate for attention. Emotionally juvenile. You’re a sad case, Gideon. Seriously. You’re not even a bit witty. Apparently somewhat intelligent, but you’re wasting even that.

        In any event I’m not the least interested in engaging with you. It would be a waste of time and mind. But I’ll credit you with taking the practice of being a jerk to new depths, or heights if that makes you feel better.

        Ta ta.

        • “In any event I’m not the least interested in engaging with you.”

          That water/champagne-boarding you promised me isn’t forthcoming, then?

          That’s right. You’re like most infidels. Unless someone strokes your ego and fawns all over you, it’s not worth your time.

          So long, Riccolo.

  17. Spanish Inquisitor – You da man ! A force to be reckoned with, and I see you all over.

    I just posted an article that I’d really like you to see. It’s a very brief philosophical response, to Anselm’s argument for the existence of god.

    I would hope to see it becomes a weapon of choice, in the arsenal of answers to some very important questions. BTW, the new look on your site is great ! ;)

    http://modernatheist.org/2010/06/06/an-ontological-basis-for-the-denial-of-god/

    Sincerely, D R Hosie – Modern Atheist.org

  18. Thanks for the comments on my blog. I’m not exactly sure why you think I would moderate your comment but thanks for the challenge. And yes I posted it. I don’t know anyone Christian or not, who being convinced in what they think, doesn’t honestly wish for others to know what they think they know and to cause others to think about things. This means we all think we are right in some respects. You think you are right in your position as atheist, I think I am right as a believer in God. We hope that through dialogue we will strengthen the position of our thinking or learn, but this does not happen by only listening to those who agree with us and think like us. I obviously hear from many who think like me, which makes me feel good but doesn’t always teach me something or stretch my thinking. Mostly, these kind of things stroke our egos. As I read some of your blog I notice (like mine) many who basically agreed with each other. My hope was to comment and enter into the dialogue with my thinking, which is obviously going to originate from a different logical path and reasoning in addition to drawing different conclusions. I have realize from other commenters that they only want to hear from those who think in a similar vein and to say differently with equal conviction provokes frustration or anger. I’m not sure I understand that. But, for the sake of honest dialogue I thank you for allowing my thoughts to be shared because I know they will be different. In the same way I welcome your thoughts knowing they are different. I would love to change you position. I don’t necessarily expect to. I do however want to know how you and others think and why. This helps me understand your logic and reason though though it may not change my thinking.
    +1

  19. Hi there, I found your blog through google, I was just searching the title of my new blog post ‘God is Superfluous’, and it was only second in the google search, because your blog post from 2008 ‘God is Superfluous’ was first. So I read it, and enjoyed it.
    Ciao
    -KJ

    • The nice thing about obvious truths (like “God is superfluous”) is that others share them.

      Welcome, and stop back anytime.

  20. well im fourteen years old and m christian. first all you said that or someone else that most christian aviod this site im pretty open minded and belive all voices should be heard i belive in god but you said why do we do this and that when it comes to god its because we all have our own relationships wiith him and even though i do im still your regular teen that texts goes to movies and partys so whats wrong with being a christian!

    • I don’t know what denomination of Christian you are Deja, but whatever it you’re welcome to come here and discuss your beliefs. Remember that criticism is usually constructive (though we are human and sometimes passion can make one say something he regrets), so if someone says something that you disagree with, it’s not meant as an insult. You can’t insult a belief, only a person. If the belief is something that is true, as you probably think yours are, they can withstand scrutiny and skepticism. In fact, if they do, they are worthy of being retained.

      …so whats wrong with being a christian!

      Well, the way you put it, nothing. The things you say you do (texting, going to movies and parties, etc.) doesn’t make you a Christian. It’s what you believe about reality, and how you manifest those beliefs that makes you a Christian.

      For instance, if you believe that Jesus said “do unto other as others do unto you” and you act in accordance with that, you might think you are acting that way because you are a Christian. But you should realize that human beings have acted that way long before Jesus showed up, and that other very smart thinkers, like Buddha, said the same thing before Jesus. Which means that if you treat your fellow human like you’d like to be treated, you’re really not doing so because you are a Christian, but because it’s the right thing to do, and humanity knew that before Jesus said it.

      So, to answer your question, I’d like to say that there’s nothing wrong with being a Christian, however, I’d be lying to you if I did. There is nothing wrong with taking the good stuff learned in Christianity, and applying it to your life. But I don’t think Christianity as it is preached by people who, for instance think homosexuality is a sin, or that women are second class citizens, or that the world was created 6000 years ago and should be taught in school as fact, as many Christians believe, is good. So if you’re one of those, then I have a bone to pick with you.

      Feel free to stick around and challenge your beliefs. As I said, if your beliefs are true, they’ll withstand any challenge we rotten atheists can come up with. ;) But if they aren’t, you might find the seeds of doubt beginning to sprout. And that’s not a bad thing.

  21. Hi there. Joining up a little bit late :-P. I’m a 23 year old mexican girl and, like some damsel in distress, I just find this blog when looking for help, the dragon being a guy who claims atheism is a religion. The “serious debate” as he calls him, comes in the form of video comments on YouTube, nothing less. His arguments lack so much logic that I’m beginning to think I’m some new breed of masochist for keeping posting responses to him.

    Anyway, I wanted to thank you for this blog. I kind of like you already, guess it’s because I also studied elementary and junior high under a catholic axe. The only difference is that I really was religious during that time…until one night, at age 13 and during my daily praying, the question aroused out of nowhere: “What if God doesn’t exist?”. You can imagine the rest.

    So, keep the critical thinking rolling :-). Greetings!

    • Welcome aboard, fellow recovering-Catholic. Stick around, and good luck with your dragons. If I can be of any assistance…

  22. This comment is about 2 years too late, but I’m not angry with a god or a particular cult either. Count me as someone who simply thinks worshipping invisible supernatural beings is a bit weird.

  23. Another late comer. In contrast to you, SI, and oldancestor, I did experience anger as an element in my journey out of belief-bondage. At a time when I was already struggling with questions and doubt, I took into my home a troubled young Christian from my church who had been kicked out of his mother’s house. One of the areas of faith I had begun to question was that of my tradition’s teaching regarding sexuality, which was also a big area of burden for this young Christian. Though I harbored doubts about this and other aspects of my faith, I still clung — fearfully — to my religious identity and to a “belief” which I knew in my heart I could no longer affirm with confidence.

    Instead of telling my young friend what I was really beginning to believe — that if he couldn’t help the way he experienced his needs and feelings, then perhaps these needs and feelings were natural and a part of nature and that a just and compassionate god would not condemn him for that — I quoted scripture instead: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape…”

    As it was, the only escape my friend was able to find was a shotgun in his mouth. In my home. My five-year-old son with me when I found him.

    I was indeed angry: at my religion for teaching this psychologically toxic garbage; at God, on the chance that he was real and this somehow really represented his will; most of all at myself for my intellectual cowardice and dishonesty. I’ll mention at this point that I was in love with the young man. I was a dutiful Christian; I was willing to “carry the cross” for myself. But to impose this cross on another person, whose needs were perhaps more overbearing than mine — I’d have to have supreme confidence that this really was God’s truth to do that. The fact that I did it without such confidence was my sin.

    That event occurred in 1989 and it launched me on a more accelerated, more earnest effort to understand the “truth” about god and human nature. It ultimately launched me out of my faith. Jesus taught that you should judge a tree by its fruit. Christianity proved to be producing a lot of bad fruit. As I have continued to grow and continued to learn, the anger has subsided. It only erupts when I see hypocrisy; when I see “believers” heaping burdens on others that they themselves (secretly) won’t carry.

    I’m deeply grateful for blogs like this that offer a reasoned, factual counter to toxic, archaic ways of thinking and believing. I hope you keep up the very good work for a long time.

    • As it was, the only escape my friend was able to find was a shotgun in his mouth. In my home. My five-year-old son with me when I found him.

      While this is shocking to the nth degree, it’s not surprising. It’s unfortunate that it took a suicide to confirm your doubts, but unfortunately, it (or something equally heinous) happens every day.

      I keep writing, but sometimes I feel myself tapped out. I’ve said a lot of what I’ve wanted to say over the past 5 years, and I hate to repeat myself. So the posts come dribbling out, instead of rushing. And I have other outlets. But every so often, something pisses me off and I’ll write about it.

      I also fixed your comment.

      Thanks

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s