Atheism

16 Reasons Why I am Not a Christian

why

Eight years of answering questions about  WHY I stopped believing in the existence of God and some readers still can’t understand why I am no longer a Christian. I even wrote two posts answering the WHY question, Why I Stopped Believing and Please Help Me Understand Why You Stopped Believing. The former was written for a obstinate Christian commenter and the latter was written for a former parishioner, who later unfriended me on Facebook because she found my story so troubling.

What follows is 16 reasons WHY I am not a Christian. There are many more reasons than this, but this list should satisfy those who continue to prod and poke, trying to find the REAL reason (s) I am no longer a Christian.

  1. I no longer think the Bible is a God inspired text
  2. I no longer think the Bible is an inerrant text
  3. I no longer think Jesus is God
  4. I no longer think Jesus was virgin born
  5. I no longer think Jesus turned water into wine, walked on water, healed the sick, or raised the dead
  6. I no longer think Jesus resurrected from the dead
  7. I no longer think there is a heaven or a hell
  8. I think the belief that God will torture all non-Christians in hell for all eternity is repugnant, abhorrent, revolting, repulsive, repellent, disgusting, offensive, objectionable, cringeworthy, vile, foul, nasty, loathsome, sickening, nauseating, hateful, detestable, execrable, abominable, monstrous, appalling, insufferable, intolerable, unacceptable, contemptible, unsavory, and unpalatable.
  9. I think the Bible shows a progression of belief from polytheism to monotheism
  10. I think the Bible teaches multiple plans of salvation
  11. I think much of the history found in the Bible is fictional
  12. I think the Bible God is an abhorrent, vile deity, one I would not worship even if I believed it existed
  13. I think science best explains the natural world
  14. I no longer think humans are sinners
  15. I think humanism provides a moral and ethical basis for life
  16. I see no evidence for the existence of the Christian God, thus I am an atheist

These reasons are based on a lifetime spent studying the Bible and studying the textual, historical, and moral underpinnings of Christianity. These studies led me to conclude that the Christian God is a fiction.

And if I had any doubt about these things, eight years of interacting with Christians on this blog have led me to conclude that Christianity, as currently practiced in the West, is bankrupt. I see nothing in Christianity that would cause me to reconsider my rejection of the Christian God.

While I have many online friends who are a liberal/progressive Christian, I can not intellectually embrace their beliefs. Since none of them think I’m headed for hell when I die, I hope they understand why I can not embrace their faith.

I refuse to let others control my storyline. It’s my life and who knows it better than I do? All I know to do is tell my story. Each reader is free to accept or reject what I write.

Some Glencoe, Alabama Christians Upset City Took Down Christian Flag

glencoe rally for the flag

Recently, the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) demanded the city of Glencoe, Alabama remove the Christian flag flying outside the local police department. Andrew Seidel, staff attorney for the FFRF wrote:

…”It is unconstitutional for a government entity to fly a flag with a patently religious symbol and meaning on its grounds,You must take immediate action and refrain from hoisting this flag up the flagpole at the city hall building.”…

…“The display of this patently religious symbol on city property confers government endorsement of Christianity, a blatant violation of the Establishment Clause. The cross on the flag pole of Glencoe’s city hall building unabashedly creates the perception of government endorsement of Christianity.”…

…“It conveys the message to the twenty-six percent of the U.S. population who are not Christians that they are not ‘favored members of the political community,’”…

Fearing a lawsuit, Glencoe mayor Charles Gilchrist had the flag taken down. His action infuriated local Bible thumpers, leading to a protest last week outside of Glencoe city hall. Christian News Network reports:

Gilchrist said that the threat of a suit is what ultimately resulted in the removal of the flag.

“That would just about ruin us,” Gilchrist stated. “I have to look out for the best interests of the city.”

He said that he believes that the threat of suit is how the group strong-arms cities into compliance with their wishes.

“That’s what they do, they pick on these smaller towns that can’t defend ourselves,” Gilchrist said, noting that he personally did not want to remove the flag.

It was later given to local restaurant owner Jeff Word, who raised the flag outside of Big Chief Restaurant.

The Etowah County Chapter of First Responders for Christ soon decided to organized a rally in support of the flag’s original presence at Glencoe City Hall. Approximately 100 people turned out for the event on Saturday, which featured Rep. Mack Butler and state Sen. Phil Williams, as well as Thom Harrison, pastor of North Glencoe Baptist Church.

“We weren’t called to sit back and watch and not say a word. We’re called to go out and proclaim the gospel among all nations,” Williams declared.

Williams pointed to the Christian heritage of the nation, such as the daily presence of a Congressional chaplain since 1789 and the motto “In God We Trust,” first printed on currency in the 1800’s.

“This country and our laws were founded on Judeo-Christian principles that are literally written in stone at our nation’s Capitol, and that history cannot be overlooked or undone,” organizer Samuel Lowe told the Christian Post. “They can remove the flag from the pole, but the Christian roots of our nation’s origin can never be denied.”

“On the surface, the flag removal appears to be a battle over the fictitious separation of church and state,” he said, “but the underlying reason the flag was removed was due to the separation between God and man because of the sin that’s in man’s heart.”

big chief drive in christian flag

I am at a loss about why Christians have a hard time understanding the establishment clause and the separation of church and state. Jeff Word, the owner of Big Chief Drive-In and the man who took ownership of the flag, understands, in part, that there is a difference between government endorsement and private freedom. Word stated:

“I think our freedoms are leaving us gradually, as we once knew them. It was one person that took prayer out of school. I felt like I needed to be that ‘one person’ in this case. I feel like I’m a private businessman and it’s my right to fly the flag.”

rally for the flag glencoe

Correct, as a PRIVATE citizen, any American may fly any flag they wish, including the Christian or Communist flag.  The protestors, standing on a public sidewalk, the freest piece of real estate in America, have every right to protest and wave the Christian flag. No one stopped them from exercising their constitutional right to freedom of religion. What Christians in Glencoe find upsetting is that they no longer have a seat at the head of the cultural table.  They pine for the 1950’s, failing to realize that most Americans have moved on.

One hundred people showed up for the Rally for the Flag.  ONE HUNDRED  out of 5,000 Glencoe residents. Thom Harrison, pastor of North Glencoe Baptist Church was there, yet most of his church members didn’t show up. What’s clear is that, even in the middle of Baptist country, Evangelicals no longer draw large numbers of people to their cause; especially when it has to do with a sectarian flag illegally flying in front of a government building. While several Republican state politicians showed up for the rally, I highly doubt either of them will be offering up legislation any time soon “legalizing” the flying of the sectarian Christian flag on government property. Such an attempt would be quickly ruled unconstitutional by the courts. I suspect  Representative Mack Butler and Senator Phil Williams attended the rally because of the optics and both are up for election in 2016 and 2018. Both Butler and Williams are Baptist.

Armchair Evangelical Psychologists

armchair psychologist 2When I started blogging in 2007, I made the decision to use my real name as I attempted to tell my story. I also decided that I would not protect the guilty. Since Evangelical churches, pastors, parachurch groups and the college I attended are a part of my storyline, I decided their names should be part of my story. Doing this has upset a lot of people, especially when a web search for their name, church, or group brings up my blog on the first page. (i.e. Midwestern Baptist College, Newark Baptist Temple, Jack Hyles, David Hyles, Community Baptist Church Elmendorf, Pat Horner, Pastor Jose Maldonado, Pastor Steven Anderson, Pastor Tim Conway, Trinity Baptist Church Findlay)

My writing is also prominently featured on the No Longer Quivering site, along with a handful of other sites I’ve either written a guest post for or participated in an interview. (I recently did an interview with Scott Lohman on Atheists Talk) I also write 8-12 letters a year to the editor of the Defiance Crescent-News.

If you take time to search for websites mentioning my name, you will find sites with articles deconstructing my life. You will also find my name and articles mentioned on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Free Jinger, Reddit, and a number of public/private sites.

Since I write using my real name and I am the only Bruce Gerencser in the world, it is not hard to find a wealth of information, positive and negative. I knew when I started blogging that I would open myself up to scrutiny. I knew that people would lie about me, distort my story, and try to besmirch my character. This is the price I pay for being a public figure.

Those of you who have read this blog for years know I stopped blogging when the emotional and mental stress became too much. I think, thanks to seeing a counselor on a regular basis, that I have learned to handle the stress that comes from having a public blog that is widely read. This doesn’t mean that I plan on blogging until Jesus comes again, but I hope I have enough mental and emotional wherewithal to withstand the pressures that come my way. If anything puts an end to my writing career it will be chronic illness and pain.

Recently, a man by the name of Steve Ransom sent me an email that I shared with readers in a post titled Steve Ransom Lays Down a Challenge to Bruce and His Fellow Atheists. He purported to have a new argument that he was sure would set me back on the right path to God. All he really had was a deconstruction of my life and how I had followed a false God.  There was a time such a deconstruction would cause mental and emotional angst. Not any more.

When I started blogging I thought if I just told my story people would understand, even if they disagreed with me. I thought if I just explained myself that my critics would at least understand my viewpoint. I know, quite naïve of me.

This subject came up one day during counseling. I expressed my dismay over Evangelicals not being willing to accept my explanation of my life. Who know my life better than me, right? My counselor told me:

Bruce, you think they care what you think? They don’t give a shit about what you think.

And he is right. I know that those who tear into my life aren’t interested in anything I have to say. They have read a handful of posts, maybe even 25 or 30, and they are now ready to render judgment, and render they do. It’s happened uncounted times over the years, and it will happen in future. Evangelicals can’t help themselves, so I let them have one opportunity to say whatever is on their mind. One comment, that’s it.

There was a time when I engaged every Evangelical commenter. As I said above, I thought if I just explained myself they would understand. I now know better. Now that I know they don’t give a shit, neither do I.

IFB Evangelist Allen Domelle Says Training Kids is Like Training Dogs

4 basic food groups

Cartoon by Randy Glasbergen

Did you know that training a child is a lot like training a dog?  Using Proverbs 22:6, train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old he will not depart from it, as a foundation, Allen Domelle, editor of the Old Paths Journal and an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) evangelist, compares training a Rottweiler to training a child.  Domelle writes:

In recent years, I have owned several Rottweilers…One of the current dogs I got from them is Tydy. Tydy is a female Rottweiler who weighs in at about 100 pounds, and is all muscle. She is a beautiful dog! Like all Rottweilers, Tydy is a strong-minded dog and needs a strong owner. Don’t get me wrong, she is the most loving dog you can be around, but she is a very strong-willed dog which requires my wife, daughter and me to be sure to be strong, calm and assertive owners.

When I got her as a pup, I immediately started training her. For the most part, she was a pretty easy dog to train. One thing I quickly noticed about her is that it is very hard to break her focus once she gets sidetracked. She is a well-trained dog that I can take to any public place, but I have to be sure to stay engaged with her and keep her focused on what I command her to do.

One morning I was taking her for a walk, and I decided to try something different to keep her from being sidetracked when other people, dogs or distractions walked by us. I took a bag of dog treats and got her nose working instead of her eyes. I quickly found out that I could keep her focused by making me more attractive than those things that would normally sidetrack her. I learned to get a treat out and hold it by her nose which caused her to stay focused on me every time something came that usually sidetracked her. I learned by doing this that she wanted to stay with me more than she wanted to focus on anything else.

That morning it made me realize the importance of parents keeping God’s way attractive so that their children don’t get sidetracked by the Devil and the world. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Just like I train my dog to obey me, every parent has a responsibility to train their child in the right way of life. The age-old problem that most parents face is keeping their children walking in the right ways. I am by no means an expert in child rearing, but I learned that morning walking my dog that if parents would keep the right way attractive, then fewer children would be sidetracked by the world and the Devil.

The principles in training a child and a dog are very similar. It takes time to train. God did not tell us, “Teach a child in the way he should go,” but He commanded us to “Train up a child in the way he should go…” If we are going to keep our children walking in the right ways after they leave home, then we must keep God’s way more attractive than the world’s. There are several thoughts that come to mind when I think of keeping the way attractive.

Here’s a few of the comparisons Domelle makes between dog training and child training:

  • Training a dog is not always accepted by those who don’t know how to train dogs. Many who don’t know anything about training dogs will think you are being mean to the dog by not allowing the dog to do what it wants to do, but in the long run my dogs have much more freedom than theirs because I can take my dog in public off leash and they can’t. The dog trainer always has to keep a closed ear to the critics and keep their eye on the way they know will turn out a good dog.One thing you must always remember is that doing right is always right even when it seems nobody else is doing it. You must keep in mind that God’s way is always right whether or not others are doing it. If you do train your child in the way, you will find there will be times when criticism comes your way, but you must not forsake the way. Jesus says in John 14:6, “…I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Don’t ever doubt the way because people have said that it doesn’t work. Don’t change the way because society doesn’t agree with it. The way is always right even when the whole world doesn’t agree with it. You know where God’s way is taking your children, so don’t leave it because another way seems more attractive.
  • Training a dog takes patience, hard work, time and determination. If training a dog was easy, then everybody would train their own dog. We know it’s not easy because most people want someone else to train their dog for them. They want others to do the work that theyshould be doing. What most dog owners don’t realize is that they can get the dog professionally trained, but if the dogis going to continue to act the way it should, then the owners are going to haveto be consistent with the rules of training when the dog comes home. This won’t always be easy. That is why you have so many dogs that are out of control.Training children is not an easy task, but let me assure you that you are up to the task. Just like people want someone to train their dog, many parents leave the spiritual training to the church, Sunday school teachers, youth leaders or to the Christian school, but God places that responsibility on the parent. Training children takes wisdom, time, patience, hard work, communication and determination by both parents. If training children were easy, then every child would turn out right. What I have found out is that most parents struggle with their children because they have not taken the time to train them. They tell them what to do, but training is showing them how to do it and following through with each directive. Training children in the way is not going to be easy, but it is very much worth the time and effort when your children continue walking in God’s way.

You can read the entire article here.

love and obey

While I certainly can find points of agreement with Domelle, I find it troubling that he would equate training a dog with training a child. Dog owners often take their dog to obedience school. I suspect, knowing that Domelle is IFB, that Domelle thinks that the home and the church is akin to a dog obedience school. Train them when they are young and they will obey and turn out well. Teach a child to come when called for, sit or run when commanded to do so, and urinate and defecate in the proper place, and all will be well, right?

Fundamentalists like Domelle think that every problem can be solved with discipline and obedience. Read the Bible, pray, attend church, tithe, and witness. These must be drilled into a Christians head until they become second nature. These are the first steps, the first works, that a Christian must take on the path of obedience. Once indoctrinated, they are more likely to obey the other laws, commands, and precepts found in the Bible. Start young, and as the child grows older it will be easier to get them to accept whatever the pastor says is truth. If the pastor says, THE BIBLE SAYS, that’s the dog’s, I mean the child’s cue to perk up, listen, and obey.

Like every IFB preacher, Domelle sees Proverbs 22:6 as a blueprint for raising children who turn out right,  Domelle believes parents must train their children in THE WAY to have any hope of their children turning out as God-fearing, pastor obeying Christians. According to Proverbs 22:6, if parents train their child in the proper way, when the child is old they will not depart from their training. However, as the readership of this blog can attest, this training does not automatically result in adult children loving, serving, and obeying the Christian God.

Polly and I were blessed with six children. From birth, we trained them in THE WAY, yet none of them are in the Evangelical church today. Why is this? Shouldn’t the early dog God training have ensured their obedience? All of them were late teens and older when we stopped walking in THE WAY. Why are none of them Evangelical today? The most religious among them is a Catholic, and in Domelle’s IFB world, Catholicism is a cult, a false religion. Was there some flaw in the training they received that resulted in all six of them abandoning the faith of their childhood? One would think after fifteen to twenty-nine years of indoctrination that they would have stayed on the straight and narrow. But, they didn’t. Why?

Domelle’s child rearing model is based on strict rules and obedience. Do this and thou shalt live, is the gospel of Evangelicalism. For all their talk about grace, the Evangelical really believes in a gospel of works. Believe the right things + live the right way = a divine doggie treat called heaven after death. While many Evangelicals will likely object to my characterization of their beliefs, once all the flowery theological jargon is stripped away, what is left is a belief system that requires fidelity to certain beliefs and a life lived according to those beliefs. Anyone who doesn’t believe the right things and live the right way doesn’t get a divine doggie treat when they die.

While I am hesitant to use my children as an example, I think doing so will help illustrate the fallacy of Proverbs 22:6 and the Domelle Child Training Program®.  Ask anyone who knew our children when they were young and they will tell you that our children were polite, respectful, obedient children.  All of them made a profession of faith, were active in church, and when they were old enough to work they gave liberally to the church, missions, and the needy.  They were, in every way, the perfect example of obedient Christian children. Yet, look at them today. What in the H-E-L-L happened?

When their father, the only pastor they ever had, left the ministry and later left Christianity, they were forced to fend for themselves. No longer were they trained pets, obedient to every command from the earthly and heavenly father. Instead, they became wild animals roaming free without the leash of the Bible or the hovering presence of their father. Instead of following a predetermined path, each of them were/are free to wander down a path of their own choosing. No dog whistle or stern command to call them back. They are F-R-E-E, free from the strictures of Evangelicalism, the Bible, their parents, and grandparents.

To the outsider, this freedom looks like confusion. Behind their back, fellow employees whisper, (please read out loud with “concerned” Christian voice)  did you know  _____________ Dad was a pastor? Did you know that _______________ Dad is the atheist who writes those anti-Christian letters in the newspaper? What happened to them? Freedom is what happened to them. Each of our children are free to choose their own path. If they are happy, then Polly and I are happy.

In April of 2009, I sent a letter to family, friends, and former parishioners. In this letter I stated:

I know some of you are sure to ask, what does your wife think of all of this? Quite surprisingly, she is in agreement with me on many of these things. Not all of them, but close enough that I can still see her standing here. Polly is no theologian, She is not trained in theology as I am. She loves to read fiction. I was able to get her to read Bart Ehrman’s book Misquoting Jesus and she found the book to be quite an eye opener.

Polly is free to be whom and whatever she wishes. If she wanted to start attending the local Fundamentalist Baptist Church she is free to do so and even has my blessing. For now, she doesn’t.  She may never believe like I believe, but in my new way of thinking that is OK. I really don’t care what others think. Are you happy? Are you at peace? Are you living a good, productive life? Do you enjoy life? Yes, to these questions is good enough for me.

I have six children, three who are out on their own. For many years I was the spiritual patriarch of the family. Everyone looked to me for the answers. I feel somewhat burdened over my children. I feel like I have left them out on their own with no protection. But, I know they have good minds and can think and reason for themselves. Whatever they decide about God, religion, politics, or American League baseball is fine with me.

All I ask of my wife and children is that they allow me the freedom to be myself, that they allow me to journey on in peace and love. Of course, I still love a rousing discussion about religion, the Bible, politics, etc. I want my family to know that they can talk to me about these things, and anything else for that matter, any time they wish.

Opinions are welcome. Debate is good. All done? Let’s go to the tavern and have a round on me. Life is about the journey, and I want my wife and children to be a part of my journey and I want to be a part of theirs.

The sentiment I expressed in 2009, still holds today.

Training children like someone would train a dog, robs a child of their ability to reason and think for themselves. This why people like Domelle tell parents to send their children to a CHRISTIAN school or home school them, and when they graduate from high school it’s off to a CHRISTIAN college.  From birth to graduation from college, the children are indoctrinated, taught to only view the world a certain way. And if they color outside of the lines? Like with a disobedient dog, they are punished. For many, this punishment is enough to make them heel, but for others, they rebel. They tire of being told what to believe, what to think, or how to live. Once  free of their leash or the stake in the back yard, they run until they can no longer see from whence they came. While this  new-found freedom is dangerous and fraught with difficulty, they have no intention of returning to a life defined by commands and obedience.

Evidence for the Existence of Evangelical God: Bruce, Look at the Stars

carl sagan dot

Evangelicals believe the Christian God reveals himself to every human through:

  • Creation
  • Conscience
  • Divine Revelation (The Bible)

In this post, I want to focus on the Christian God revealing himself to us through creation. On a clear night, I can look skyward and see a vast array of stars and planets. Recently, Jupiter and Venus were in perfect alignment, a wonder to behold in the Western sky. Last week, the New Horizons spacecraft sent back pictures of Pluto, amazing both the atheist and the Evangelical.

Both the atheist and Evangelical look to the sky and contemplate its vastness and awesomeness. When the Evangelical looks at the sky they see the handiwork of  their God.  They are certain that the Christian God created everything.  The atheist, however, points to science and its explanations of the universe.  The atheist has a lot of questions, questions science has not yet answered. These questions may or may not be answered in the future. The Evangelical, using the creation framework in Genesis 1-3, is satisfied that the Christian God created the universe. No matter what science tells us about the universe, the Bible explanation is the superior and final explanation. If science conflicts with the Bible, science is wrong.

When an Evangelical uses the creation argument with me, I agree with them. I don’t really agree with them, but for the sake of argument, I say, OK, I agree that someone can look at the night sky and wonder if a God created everything. It is certainly within the realm of possibility that a God, a divine force, the first cause, the master holographic programmer created or designed the universe. Since science has yet to tell us all we need to know about the beginning of the universe, perhaps one day we will discover that a God of some sort created everything. I doubt it, but it is certainly possible, just like it is possible the Cincinnati Reds will overcome a 16.5 game deficit in the standings and win the World Series.

Once I grant the Evangelical position, I then ask, how does one get from A GOD to THE GOD, the God of the Evangelical Bible? What is there in the night sky that says the Evangelical God created the universe? It is at this point the Evangelical says, THE BIBLE SAYS, In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Once the Evangelical appeals to the Bible, they’ve lost the argument. Why? Because science tells us that the creation account in Genesis is not true. Once drawn back into the confines of the printed page, the Evangelical is forced to defend all sorts of absurd beliefs, beliefs that can only be swallowed with a large dose of blindness and faith.

But, Bruce, look at the various creation myths. Don’t they ALL testify to there being a creator? Again, the Evangelical is not arguing for a generic, adaptable creator. They are arguing for a specific creator, the one spoken of in the Bible. Even here, I am willing to grant the Evangelical’s assertion. The question remains the same. Why is the Evangelical creation myth true and all others false? Why should I believe the Evangelical myth and not one of the other creation myths?

By appealing to the Bible and the creation account recorded in Genesis 1-3, the Evangelical also must defend everything from a talking, walking upright snake to polytheism.  Since the night sky itself is not enough to tell us the Evangelical God created the universe, the Evangelical must appeal to the presuppositions they’ve derived from the Bible. With one hand, the Evangelical points to the sky and with the other hand points to the Bible. As I have stated many times before, the Abrahamic religions are text-based. For the Evangelical, the Bible is the foundation upon which their religious house is built. Destroy the foundation and the Evangelical house comes tumbling down.