conversations with Dan

Conversations with Dan: 1

My blogging has stimulated at least some degree of curiosity, but the most interesting response has come from my brother Daniel. Daniel and I grew up as best friends, but in our late teens and 20s my Christianity and Daniel’s lack of faith saw us take very different paths in life. We continued to love each other, but were not as close as we once were. In our 30s as we both settled down with families and closer contact was renewed. We still looked at the world differently but we started to realise that that should make no difference to our relationship. In the last six months Dan, who lives in Hervey Bay, North Queensland, has called me almost every week. He and his beautiful wife Bianca, and the amazing kids Kailani and Iluka , have taken the expensive flight to visit me twice (it may be more my memory is vague). I think it’s fair to say that we four Clifton Bros are closer together than ever before, and share a unique bond of love.

I say all this because during the week I received an e-mail from Dan that I found stimulating. I thought I might share it with you (he has agreed). We might, over the next little while, correspond overs these issues and see where the wind (I might say Spirit) takes us. note the following parameters

  • You are more than welcome to comment – and I hope you do, but we will probably respond to each other rather than your comments (please don’t think we are rude).
  • we will only deal with one issue at a time – so don’t be surprised if it takes some time to cover all the issues he raises.
  • we both lead busy and sometimes out-of-control lives, so that might add to the slow pace.
  • If either of us get bored, we reserve the right to stop at any time
  • this is a conversation, not an attempt to “convert” each other. We had that done to us too many times and, in any case, I have no power to convert anyone. That is supposed to be the role of the spirit (presuming you believe the spirit exists)

So here goes – I will start by leaving you with Dan’s e-mail:

Hey Shane, I was going to respond a comment on your blog but as I am not sure of your readership; their attitudes, tolerances etc I thought best to just respond to you directly (possibly I am missing the opportunity to communicate to the masses but I probably would not get the same level of ego filling support and encouragement for my views). As with everyone else your recent blogs certainly got me thinking (which is what you do best) and I know that you would be interested in how all people perceive your posts –

Throughout your post on this topic I keep nodding my head going yeah yeah, The whole randomness of supposedly miracle healings seems so arbitrary to a non believer that it could be no more believable than Noah’s ark. Having said that I am sure that placebos can actually heal if the person believes in it (reminds me of a discussion we had on homeopathy once!). And I also know that you can and will continue to make great improvements through improved strength, nerve healings, better technique, functionality and possibly dare I say the “miracle” of modern medicine / science that can transplant tendons and possibly has kept you with us to date through those early tough days to continue with your amazing jouney of life. A life which will be enhanced in many ways from this turning point (and for sure have its additional challenges). Seems already you are reaching more people and I feel sure that your journey will touch and inspire many lives and through this, give you much joy and fulfillment – I look forward to your conversation with Richard Fidler in the future and the wonderful stories and how many people you touch and motivate through this – you certainly do to all us (hang on I am starting to sound like a comment on your FB status!).

Anyhow I keep thinking of a great skit by Tim Minchin (not sure you would be a big fan, but I feel very funny) called “Thank You God”.  I really wanted to share this with you but unfortunately I could not find a live rendition on You Tube, alas the lyrics are attached below (the delivery is missing the piano, eye makeup, fuzzy hair and Sydney Synophy Orchestra) but go with it and you may get the general jist.  It is a tad cynical but it does seem to speak some truth to me and my kind – enjoy (or not Dad!).

Tim Minchin – thank you God (follow link to see lyrics) note from Shane; the lyrics contain strong language and are a very strong attack on faith – don’t say you weren’t warned.

Although the Hervey Bay Cliftons do not regularly “pray” for you we are always thinking of you, lighting a candle for you, sending positive thoughts, energy, love etc.  Are you now telling me this is the true value of prayer?  Dude the main arrows in my aethist armory are:

  • Evolution v creationism
  • The stories of the old testament
  • The belief in associated miracles attributed to God/jesus

You will soon reduce me to:

  • Why just happens to be the belief system of the culture I was born into at the time that I lived that was right
  • If humans are the chosen special race (in the image of god) why where we not put on this earth until 150,000 years ago when the earth has been around for over 4 billion years. Or can other animals go to heaven and if so do they have to be beleivers
  • The perception of the whole heaven hell thing
  • The frustration that your very liberal Christian views are in stark contrast to 95% of Christians

(I have others I am sure but that’s my rant for now)

Be cool bro,


About Author

Shane is an ethicist and theologian, Honorary Associate for the Centre of Disability Research and Policy, the University of Sydney, and Assistant Director, Policy, at the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation against People with Disability. Shane is proudly disabled, and an occasional blogger on


  • Peter Thornton
    April 9, 2011 at 11:32 am

    I will be following your responses with great interest Shane. Isn’t it interesting that Dan is now raising these topics with the person who holds his faith under great trials, which may have caused even a greater interest from not only Dan but many.

    • Shane Clifton
      April 9, 2011 at 11:51 am

      to give Dan his due, he has always raised these questions!

  • Jess Stephensen
    April 9, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    I live in Hervey bay good place,if he is interested in church mine is Bayside Christian church


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