Predictably, John Loftus tries to make hay of David Wood's conversion story. This begins with feigning shock. He's shocked! Or so he says (twice!). Is Loftus really that naive about the ways of the world?
He descends into the subway as he tells his dark past. Then he emerges topside when describing his conversion.
That plays on Plato's allegory of the cave as well as Dante's Inferno. In addition, Victor Reppert thinks the subway is based on the Green Witch incident in the Lewis's Silver Chair.
For anyone who thinks my deconversion story away from faith is a bit shocking (it isn't much at all) just compare David's conversion story towards faith, as seen in the video link below. If someone wants to discount my deconversion story due to my personal experiences, then how much more should they discount David's conversion story due to his personal experiences. After all, if personal experiences led us each to adopt different conclusions about God, then the personal experiences leading me to change my mind pale by comparison to his.
That's such a simpleminded contention. Who says experience has no bearing on truth-claims? What about the argument from religious experience?
There's no uniform principle here. It depends on the nature of the experiences and the inferences we draw from that experience.
If David adopted his faith due to the experiences he describes in the video--experiences which show him to be an irrational angry young man--then how rational could this irrational angry young man have been when he adopting his faith at that time?
i) To the contrary, David explains that he was striving to be a rationally consistent atheist. Since atheism entails moral and existential nihilism, that implicates a behavioral counterpart.
At the same time, David explains that atheism generates an insoluble dilemma. How can you be a rationally consistent atheist when atheism is irrational at rock bottom?
ii) There's also the question of mental illness. David mentions, at the time, his mom's abusive boyfriend and a dad who was living out of town (or out of state). If I were going to play armchair psychologist, I'd suggest his social alienation and imaginary social life (e.g. communicating with animals) was a defense mechanism which took the form of dissociation.
iii) BTW, some abilities he said he thought he had at the time (telepathic communication with animals, controlling the weather) are things I've read about in connection with witchcraft among Eskimos and Africans. He may have been off his rocker, but there may also be an occultic element to it. That's not the first explanation I'd reach for in his case, but I know next to nothing about his childhood.
iv) Another question is how representative "sociopathology" is in the general population. For instance, Vikings is a popular TV drama. Yet the characters do on a regular basis what David did on one occasion. Hacking old men, women, and children to death.
And even though that's fictional, throughout history you have many men who get a thrill out of killing people. They kill people for fun. And not just killing, but doing so in the most brutal ways they can imagine or devise.
Fact is, a sociopathic streak lies just beneath the sociable facade of many humans–especially men. It doesn't take much provocation to bring that to the surface. It's a question of whether people think they can get away with it. Look at warrior cultures. Look at all the atrocities committed around the world, past and present.
A Christian can chalk that up to original sin. A Darwinist can chalk that up to our predatory animal ancestry.
If atheists succeed in secularizing our culture, we may well revert to the unbridled savagery of our pre-Christian forebears. There will no longer be a moral or spiritual restraint on our baser impulses.
Aside from what I've said above, consider three more sets of questions: 1) With such a past how damaged of a person do you think David is? Would you like to be married to him (or work with him) and have a fight that most close people do?
I've never felt the slightest inclination to marry another man.
2) How likely is it David would return to his former hatred and behavior if he rejected his faith now at a later age?
In other words, if David reverted to atheism, with its moral and existential nihilism, would he take that more seriously than Loftus?