Menu Close

Geoff Toscano Responds to Imminent Evangelical Scientist Dr. David Tee

dr david tee's library
Dr. David Tee’s Massive Library

Recently, I published a post titled Stop the Presses! Preeminent Evangelical Archeologist PROVES Evolution is False. Meant to be snarky, the post quotes Evangelical preacher Dr. David Tee — whose real name is David Thomas Thiessen. (Theissen has started using yet another name, D. David Thiessen, for his YouTube channel.)

Thiessen wrote:

Over the years, we [I] have written more than enough articles proving that the theory of evolution is not true. 

….

Evolution is what anyone decides it to be and then changes the physical evidence to fit their particular version.

….

The Bible has the theory of evolution beat no matter how you look at this issue.

Geoff Toscano, a long-time reader of this blog and a personal friend replied:

Oh brother, I’ve wasted at least 5 minutes of my life reading Tee’s article! Just when I thought the fool couldn’t get any more stupid, he proves me wrong, once again! The irony is that he accuses evolutionary scientists of creating fairy stories along the lines of Hansel and Gretel, when it’s actually a book of fairy tales that he seeks to defend.

He misses the most basic understanding of why evolution must be true, and that is its explanatory power. Take away all the evidence we have in terms of DNA, the fossil record, variation, adaptation, and so on, and still we have the explanatory power. Evolution provides an explanation of features we observe in every life form that special creation cannot begin to approach. It explains biodiversity, vestiges and atavisms, bad design (if god designed humans then he did a terrible job!), and especially the manner in which life forms seem strangely to conform to their varying environments. An educated person cannot deny evolution: they are mutually exclusive.

Thiessen refuses to comment on this blog, choosing instead to “answer” comments on his site. Of course, Thiessen refuses to let people comment on his blog, nor does he have a contact page. You can, however, email Thiessen at kinship29@yahoo.com.

Titled Responding to Comments 4, Theissen “answered” five comments from this site. He had this to say to Geoff:

The person missing the point is the quoted commentator. Explanatory power means absolutely nothing. There is nothing to support the ‘explanatory power’. If you remove the made-up evidence, then the explanation makes no sense.

Also, explanatory power is not exclusive to evolution. Any alternative can have the same explanations credited to it. In fact, creation has the exact same explanatory power with one exception. Creation has all the evidence supporting it.

Like the late George Carlin, the commentator is judging God from only seeing humans and creation from the results of the fall and corruption that entered in at Adam’s sin. he did not and cannot see humans and creation as God created it.

God did a perfect job, but sin and corruption ruined what he did. The quoted commentator should blame evil not God. He also says that creatures adapt to different environments.

We have yet to see humans adapt to living underwater and fish to living out of water. Those are different environments. Moving to a different place on the dry surface of the Earth is not moving to a different environment.

It is simply moving to different weather patterns and temperatures. Nothing needs to change for adaptation to take place in that situation. Also, we have not seen one person adapt to the environment on the moon or in space. They still need protective gear to live.

This fact proves evolution false.

Geoff sent me a response to Thiessen that follows below. Geoff responds to Thiessen’s reply to him and several other commenters.

David Tee’s first comment makes no sense. I pointed out the explanatory power of evolution, and he countered with “There is nothing to support the ‘explanatory power’. If you remove the made-up evidence, then the explanation makes no sense.” He either didn’t read my comment properly or he didn’t understand it. Explanatory power IS the evidence so his reference to other evidence for evolution being made up is irrelevant. For example, the laryngeal nerve is explained perfectly by evolution, but makes no sense in his creation beliefs. That is the evidence, end of story.

As for his nonsense about humans adapting to living under water, he gets to be equally silly. Animals adapt to their environment, humans included. Life originated in the sea, then slowly started to move out of it onto dry land many millions of years, perhaps billions, of years ago. Animals that emerged evolved until they were able to live on the land without recourse to water. This explains why humans still have vestiges of gills (tail bones also, I might add). He’s also ridiculous in saying that different parts of dry land on Earth do not represent different environments. Really? Arctic versus the Sahara Desert? They aren’t just different weather patterns or temperatures, they require adaptation in a way almost as great as leaving the sea.

His point about not adapting to living in space or on the moon? (Ignoring that we’ve been able to access space for only a very few decades, whilst evolution requires thousands of years to make significant differences on the scale required). He really knows nothing about evolution. In fact, this comment is perhaps the most stupid I have ever seen from a creationist! It’s precisely because we haven’t adapted to such hostile conditions that we are unable to live in them! Should we be forced through circumstances one day to live on the moon then our bodies would adapt to the conditions, especially the gravity, but it’s unlikely we would ever be able to adapt to the lack of oxygen, which is essential for human existence, indeed all life (there are apparently tiny multi cells that exist without oxygen in parts of the ocean, but these aren’t relevant to Tee’s point). Plus, of course, we’d need water. There are technical ways of producing these but then we’d be adapting the environment to us. We can do this because we’ve evolved to be able to do it!

He says there are thousands of Christian biologists who reject evolution. False, there are almost none. Stephen Meyer of Discovery Institute is the only seemingly qualified scientist who makes the claim and he’s not a biologist. Michael Behe, who really formalised Intelligent Design, has since retreated and I think has either reverted to accepting evolution or at least gone very quiet. The thing is there are always outliers. People who are anti-vaxxers, or moon landing deniers, flat earthers, and many others can appear to be carrying some kind of qualification to lend them credibility. Even so, they remain outliers. They aren’t taken seriously by the scientific community, not because the scientific community is conspiring against them, but because the scientific community exists only because it is historically the only method whereby humanity progresses. Science works (and I define science widely in this regard, to include all methods of reasoning), where faith does not. Faith recently murdered a small child in Australia, a child who had every right to depend on her parents and other guardians for protection, but who was betrayed because her protectors thought the power of God was greater than the power of medicine.

Tee claims that unbelievers seek to exclude God from their work. Ignoring the fact that a very large proportion of scientists are themselves religious believers (though it is a much lower proportion than that found in other areas of life) the fact is that science excludes nothing, not even God. The point is that good science leads where it leads. Isaac Newton was a great scientist, but he was also a fervent believer. When he constructed his theory of gravity it was hailed as, rightly, one of the great scientific achievements of all time. Even so, he knew there was a small error for which he couldn’t account, so he attributed this to God keeping ultimate control of his creation. He was wrong because he didn’t know, and at the time couldn’t possibly have known, of relativity, something Einstein demonstrated centuries later. So God figured in the thinking of one of the greatest scientists of all time, but unfortunately God proved not to be the answer. If God is ever the answer, then science will discover this, it won’t be through faith.

On top of this, many attempts have been made by science to ‘find God’. There have been four peer-reviewed studies that have attempted to establish whether prayer is of any benefit in assisting ill patients to recover. Three indicated it provided no benefit greater than chance, whilst one suggested there may even be negative benefit. Indeed, every aspect of supernatural claim has been carefully investigated by science. Miracle claims, so-called paranormal events, weeping statues, hauntings, exorcisms, NDEs, etc., all have been studied and no evidence of anything other than perfectly natural explanations has ever been found.

Matt Ridley’s main claim to fame is that he was chairman of the bank that initiated the financial collapse in the UK in 2007 (a full year before Lehman Brothers failed) and had to give evidence to a Parliamentary Committee that wanted to know where he was whilst all this happened. He admitted that he didn’t really involve himself, rather it was his name that was important to the bank (he is actually Sir Matt Ridley, and part of a wealthy landowning family). He’s written some good science books aimed at children, but he’s verging on denialism in much of what he writes. His religious beliefs, however, are irrelevant to his science writing.

It is easy to conclude that Tee is simply delusional (which he undoubtedly is) but it’s much more than that, and I think he has to be regarded as an outright liar. He keeps insisting that there’s no evidence for evolution. He’s simply wrong. Evolution is supported by more evidence than any other branch of science. It is now such a vast subject that it has to be subdivided for study purposes. No serious scientist in the world denies it, and certainly no biologists, whether religious believers or not. He insists the bible is true, in the face of all the evidence that proves it is not, other than in minor, trivial, ways. Most believers, and certainly most religions, have come to terms with the realisation that evolution is a stark fact. 

Tee yet again demonstrates the impossibility of his ever having obtained a legitimate doctorate. I’ll go further and allege that he’s never passed any formal academic examination in his life. It’s significant that he chooses to limit his reply to the comfort of his website, protected from comments, and certainly not daring to risk direct interaction on Bruce’s forum.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Honest Reflections From an Evangelical Pastor: It Was Never About Saving Souls

bruce gerencser street preaching crooksville ohio
Bruce Gerencser, street preaching, Crooksville, Ohio, with his young son Jaime.

Let me share a dirty little secret with readers about Evangelicals who are actively involved in what is commonly called “public evangelism.” Door-to-door evangelism, street preaching, handing out tracts, standing on street corners with Bible verse signs — why do some Evangelicals do these things? Is the grand goal to win as many souls as possible before Jesus returns to earth? Is the notion that Hell is hot and death is sure what drives these evangelizers to make a public spectacle of themselves? Is everything they do driven by a love for the lost souls? Surely, these people are True Christians, right? The overwhelming majority of Evangelicals never verbalize their faith to someone else. Yet, these zealots go out of their way to confront non-Christians with their peculiar version of the Christian gospel. Surely, they are the “real” Christians of our day, right? 

I was an Evangelical pastor for 25 years. I spent my formative years in churches that were quite aggressive evangelistically. I attended Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan in the 1970s. Midwestern was known for producing soulwinning pastors, evangelists, and missionaries. As a pastor, I certainly followed my training, using the techniques I was taught to harass as many people as possible for Jesus. Yet, despite my on-fire, aggressive soulwinning efforts, few people asked Jesus to save them as a direct result of my efforts. Yes, hundreds of people were saved after listening to me preach, but the number of people saved outside of church services was few. You see, the goal of such efforts was not to win souls, as much as it was:

  • To be seen as a prophet by the community; to be seen as one willing to publicly take a stand for Jesus
  • To be seen as a preacher different from and superior to the other preachers in town; I was the one who cared for their souls, not their pastors
  • To be seen in the same light as the Apostle Paul and other first-century Christians; to say to the communities where I pastored that my churches were the real deal, cut from the fabric of the churches found in the Bible
  • To be seen as being “right,” right about God, Jesus, salvation, the Bible, and New Testament Christianity

Most Americans don’t want to be bothered by Fundamentalist evangelizers. Let me share a soulwinning story from years ago that I think aptly illustrates this fact. One Saturday, Greg Carpenter (Please see Dear Greg.) and I were knocking on doors in Junction City, Ohio. At the time, I was the pastor of Somerset Baptist Church in Mt. Perry. It was a bitterly cold Ohio winter day, but warm on the inside with love for souls, we started going door-to-door, looking for people who would let us share the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) gospel with them. We finally came upon a young woman who was willing to “listen” to us. She wouldn’t invite us inside, so we stood on her porch as Greg attempted to win her to Jesus. I still can picture in my mind this woman today. She had no coat on, yet there she stood freezing her ass off as Greg took her through whatever evangelism plan we were using that day. When Greg asked her if she would like to ask Jesus to save her, she said yes! Greg led her in the sinner’s prayer, and the woman was wonderfully and gloriously saved. We heard the angels in Heaven rejoicing over another lost soul being rescued from the clutches of Satan. 

After praying the sinner’s prayer, the newly-saved woman closed the door and we went on our way looking for more victims, er, I mean, lost souls. She was the only soul that was saved that day. Later attempts to get the woman to be baptized and attend church proved futile. You see, the only thing she got saved from on the cold winter day was Greg and Bruce. She just wanted to shut her door and be left alone. 

Winning this woman to Jesus fueled our pride, reminding us that we were doing a great work for the Lord of Lord and Kings and Kings. We were, in fact, bugging people who didn’t want to be bothered. But, since when have Evangelical zealots cared about what non-Christians thought? I didn’t. I was a God-called preacher of the gospel. I was determined to tell others the “truth” even if they didn’t want to hear it. 

“I told them, Lord! The results are up to you,” I told myself. Yep, I sure told them. Part of the deconversion process for me was coming to terms with why I did what I did as an Evangelical pastor. I concluded that I deep down really didn’t care if souls were saved. “That was God’s business,” I thought. This was especially the case after I became a five-point Calvinist. What was most important to me was looking the part; being perceived as a man of God who loved sinners and would go to great lengths to win them to Jesus. 

During the eleven years I was the pastor of Somerset Baptist, over 600 hundred people made a profession of faith in Christ. Some Sundays, the altar was lined with people getting saved and getting right with God. Success was measured by altar response. Yet, few of these “converts” became active, long-term church members. 600+ conversions, yet attendance was, at its highest, a little over 200. 

Why were so many people saved under my preaching, yet I failed so miserably in my soulwinning efforts outside of the church? I was passionate both inside and outside of the church. Why the disparate numbers? First, people were attracted to my preaching. By all accounts — just ask former congregants — I was a skilled, winsome preacher. Sunday after Sunday, my sermons were well received. (Well, there was that mess of a sermon from Hosea. Hell, I didn’t even know what I was talking about.) People drove for miles to hear me preach. I believe this affection for me personally drove the high number of conversions. Once outside of the church, I took on the traits mentioned above. I was more concerned about being a prophet, a beacon of rightness than I was helping others. The good news is that over time I lost my zeal for winning souls, choosing instead to engage people relationally. I suspect Calvinism played a big part in how I viewed the eternal destiny of other people. I left the soul-saving up to God. I just expositionally preached the Bible and left the results up to God. I can count on one hand the people who were saved during the seven years I pastored Our Father’s House in West Unity, Ohio. Congregants — most of them, anyway — loved me, I loved them back, and we all were quite content to let the world go to Hell. This post is me being brutally, openly honest about my life as an Evangelical pastor. I am sure that my critics will see what I have written here as more proof that I wasn’t really a Christian; that I was a false prophet. To that I say, whatever. I suspect what I have written here will resonate with a lot of Evangelical preachers. They know, deep down, that I am telling the truth.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

2006: Two Op-Eds I Wrote, Warning of the Dangers of Nationalism

american nationalism
Cartoon by Nath Paresh

In 2006, I was still a Christian. I self-identified as an emerging/emergent pastor. As you will see, my liberal/progressive political views were quite developed by this time. I was far from the ranch, so to speak. For my Evangelical critics at the time, it came as no surprise to them that I embraced atheism two years later.

May 2006 Op-Ed for the Bryan Times (slightly edited):

Throughout the history of the Christian church, it has been commonly believed that state and church, both ordained by God, operate on separate, yet equal planes of authority. This is commonly called the “separation of church and state.” History painfully reminds us of what happens when state and church are joined together. This union always results in the death of many people and the authority of both the state and the church being compromised. Adolph Hitler would not have been successful during World War II without the joining of church and state together. The church lost her moral authority when she became complicit in the Aryan teachings and programs of the Nazi regime. Yes, there were those who stood against Hitler and his murderous minions, but, for the most part, the German church remained silent. As a result, the world was plunged into war and millions of people suffered and died. This is but one example of many that could be pulled from the pages of history. I am using it because it is “current” history and one that can readily be researched.

The world owes a great debt to the United States for her willingness to stand against Germany and her attempt to rule the world. The United States stood on solid moral footing and she is to be commended for her courage and sacrifice. With such a great moral stand also comes a great challenge; to remain humble in the light of great victory. Coming out of World War II, the United States had the approval and appreciation of the world. Sixty years later the United States is now viewed as an imperialistic superpower that is intent on dominating and taking over the world one nation at a time. How did this happen?

Pride! One-word answer. Pride! Reinhold Niebuhr, shortly after the end of World War II said this:

We are indeed the execution of God’s judgment yesterday. But we might remember the prophetic warnings to the nations of old, that nations which become proud because they were divine instruments must, in turn, stand under the divine judgment and be destroyed……If ever a nation needed to be reminded of the perils of vainglory, we are that nation in the pride of our power and our victory.

As the post-September 11, 2001 era continues, there is an increasingly ugly, nationalistic pride that is rising up in the United States. This errant pride is seen in our nation’s actions in Iraq and in the continued saber-rattling against Iran. Strong traces of it can be viewed in the current debate going on in the United States over Mexican immigration.

A clear distinction needs to be made between patriotism and nationalism. According to Michael Dyson in his book titled Pride, “Patriotism is the critical affirmation of one’s country in light of its best values, including the attempt to correct it when it is in error. Nationalism is the uncritical support of one’s nation regardless of its moral or political bearing.” Sadly, much of what is called patriotism in the United States is actually prideful, sinful, nationalism.

As in Germany during World War II, this errant nationalism is graphically on display in churches everywhere. Christian theology has been wedded with political ideology and given a healthy baptism of flag-waving nationalism and the result is that the church in the United States has abandoned her call to follow Jesus. Far too many churches, including an unhealthy number of churches in this area, have become pawns in a political chess game. Such churches have lost their prophetic voice. Where is the voice calling out for justice and mercy? Where is the voice calling out for peace in the name of the Prince of Peace?

The flag-waving nationalism on display in many churches needs to stop. Ties with liberal or conservative political agendas need to be broken. The war in Iraq and Mexican immigration need to be viewed through the teaching of Jesus instead of a political party’s platform. It is time to repent.

Over the past 36 months, I have visited a number of churches in the northwest Ohio area, including churches in Indiana and Michigan. I have yet to hear one critical word concerning the War in Iraq. I did hear numerous words promoting the war, and sometimes I was almost certain that I was hearing a public service announcement from the defense department. Why are the pulpits of so many churches silent on this crucial issue? Even churches that come from the “peace” denominations are strangely silent or even go so far as to promote war, in direct contradiction to their church doctrine. I realize I can not make absolute judgments when I only visit a church once or a few times, but overall the silence is deafening.

It seems that many churches are requiring allegiance to the State and her war policy as a test of fidelity to Jesus. If one dare raise a voice of objection, immediate questions of salvation and love for country are raised. Coward, un-American, unsaved, liberal, and military hater are some of the kinder words hurled at those who, in Jesus’ name, oppose war. In spite of the name-calling, lovers of peace must continue to stand for peace. It is the LEAST we can do. Churches and ministers must be prodded and cajoled, and if need be, shamed into returning to being prophetic voices in the world. Instead of allowing political agendas to control the voice of the church, the clear and emphatic teachings of Jesus must set the agenda. It is time to stop the debates about “just war” (which is nothing more than political ideology wearing theological clothes) and return to doing what Jesus commands us to do; love our enemies and be a people who actively promote peace.

May 2006 Op-Ed for the Defiance Crescent-News (slightly edited):

Every time Christians gather together for communion, it is for the purpose of memorializing the death of Jesus. The death of Jesus on the cross has many theological implications: redemption and sanctification among many others. The death of Jesus also has political implications. His death, along with his resurrection from the dead, proclaimed a new Kingdom, the Kingdom of God. Who, and all that Jesus did, challenges the politics and agendas of every generation. There is a new King in the world, and Jesus is his name.

Last Sunday, many churches took time to briefly mention Memorial Day. Some churches had full-blown patriotic rallies, complete with the presenting of the colors and taps. Others sang a few patriotic songs and said a quick prayer for those who have died in our nation’s wars. Some took time to honor church members who are serving or had served in the Military.

I always prepare myself for what “may” happen in church on our nation’s various national holidays. I would prefer that churches not meld worship of God and nationalism together, but I have come to the place where I can tolerate it in short doses. Interjecting nationalism into our worship of God diminishes the focus of our worship, and can, if we are not careful, suggest that Christianity and American nationalism are one and the same.

In many sermons, we will hear that Christians need to view the sacrifice of war in and of itself, separated from its theological and political implications. An attempt is made to link the sacrifice of war with the sacrifice of Jesus. Jesus laid down his life for others and in war we are called on to do the same.

It is unwise to connect the sacrifice of Jesus and the sacrifice of war. Jesus was the guiltless dying for the guilty. In war, there are no guiltless parties. It is also impossible to divorce the sacrifice of war from its theological and political implications. War ALWAYS has such implications.

My prayer is that churches will stop being agents for the political agendas of the Republican and Democratic parties. Instead of giving public service announcements for the defense department, churches would be truer to their calling if they proclaimed what Jesus said about peace and loving our enemies. I am still waiting to hear a sermon anywhere that takes seriously the claims and teachings of Jesus concerning peace and as a result, declares the war in Iraq to be contrary to Christian teaching. Instead of wrangling about “just war” I hope and pray churches will wrangle with the implications of “thou shalt not kill,” “love your enemies,” and “blessed are the peacemakers.”It is certainly proper and right to quietly remember those who have died during our nation’s wars. Some died defending freedom, others died for a political agenda, but all died as Americans and we should remember them. We should also take time to reflect on the awfulness of war and the danger of a nation with unchecked arrogance waging war against all who cross her path.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Dear Pastor, Thou Shalt Not Steal

thou shalt not steal

Note: I originally wrote this post seventeen years ago. It has been updated, corrected, and expanded.

Many Christians are surprised to learn that their pastors use the material, outlines, and sermons of others when preaching. Years ago, Polly and I, along with our children, visited more than 100 Christian churches. (Please see But, Our Church is Different!) We heard a variety of preaching, ranging from atrocious to outstanding. We also heard a number of stolen or adapted sermons. In our experience, Rick Warren was the favorite preacher to steal from. I find such behavior scandalous.

In 2005, we attended a church for about three months led by a pastor who morphed into Rick Warren every Sunday. The dead giveaway was his liberal use of numerous Bible translations — a classic Warren trait. I suspect I was the only one who knew the source of this preacher’s sermon. One man gave a glowing testimony one Sunday regarding the pastor’s wonderful sermons. I wanted to stand up and shout, “AMEN, thank God for Rick Warren.”

Why is there such a problem with preachers stealing the material of others? I believe the problem is threefold:

  • First, many pastors are lazy. The ministry provides great cover for men with poor work habits.
  • Second, a number of pastors feel threatened by the smooth, well-produced sermons of megachurch/TV preachers. They know their church members listen to these slick communicators, and they are afraid of falling short in comparison.
  • Third, there are many pastors who should not be in the ministry. God equips whom He calls, and it seems that some men and women lack basic speaking/preaching skills. They try to cover it up by stealing the material of others. I have heard far too many sermons that lacked in any semblance of order or content. I was the assistant pastor of one church where the pastor’s thrice-weekly sermons were downright awful. This man couldn’t even make a basic sermon outline. He attended the same college as I did, but evidently he wasn’t paying attention in speech/homiletics class. Either that, or he simply didn’t have the requisite skills necessary to be a competent public speaker. I tried to teach him how to make an outline, but “learning” from a 20-something greenhorn (he was in his 40s) proved impossible.

I preached a few sermons out of a book of outlines when I first started preaching, but since that time, the 4,000 sermons I preached were my own. Good, bad, or indifferent, the sermons I preached were the result of my own work. I read the work of others. I profited from commentaries. But, at the end of the day, my sermons were mine. I believed then and still do today, that it is unethical to use the work of others; to preach sermons or give speeches that belong to someone else.

In July 1983, I started the Somerset Baptist Church in Somerset, Ohio. I was 26 years old. The church began with 16 people — four of whom were my family — in an old, dilapidated storefront. Our rent was $100 a month. A few months later, we moved to the Landmark Building — a huge two-story building that used to house a farm co-op. We rented the upstairs of the building for $200 a month. We would remain here until we bought an abandoned Methodist church building for $5,000, five miles east of Somerset.

In the fall of 1983, I had my sister’s pastor from Montpelier, Ohio come to our church to hold a revival meeting. This man was the new pastor of the first church I worked for after I left college, Montpelier Baptist Church.

As was my custom, I asked this man of God what his plans were for the week. He said to me, “what would you like me to preach? I have numerous sermons of other people I have memorized. How about Greg Dixon’s sermon, The Sinking of the Titanic?” I was shocked by his question. I told him, “That’s okay. Just preach what the Lord lays on your heart.”

I knew preachers used the materials of others, often without attribution, but to preach another man’s sermon verbatim? How lazy can you be? That’s a rhetorical question, by the way.

I realize that I am an atheist, and have little credibility among preachers these days, but I still believe that so-called spokesmen for God should use their own work. (And yes, I have seen similar laziness in mainline churches. We heard numerous sermons in mainline churches that were nothing more than pastors reading word-for-word from the lectionary.)

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Stop the Presses! Preeminent Evangelical Archeologist PROVES Evolution is False

dr david tee's library
Dr. David Tee’s Massive Library

Over the years, we [I] have written more than enough articles proving that the theory of evolution is not true. 

….

Evolution is what anyone decides it to be and then changes the physical evidence to fit their particular version.

….

The Bible has the theory of evolution beat no matter how you look at this issue.

Dr. David Tee, TheologyArcheology: A Site for the Glory of Scientific Ignorance, The Evolutionary Fairytale, July 11, 2024

Should Vesuvian- or Plinian-type Volcanic Eruptions be Renamed?

mt vesuvius eruption

Guest Post By Ryan Thompson

Thompson has a Master of Science in Geoscience from Colorado State University, worked in the petroleum industry for over a decade, teaches science online, and self-identifies as a young earth creationist. He is the author of Revelation’s Geology: A Believing Geoscientist’s Investigation of Prophesied Catastrophe & Rescue.

When most people describe volcanic eruptions, the type that is most often depicted is that of what geologists call a Vesuvian-type eruption, named after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE that destroyed the region of Pompeii. This type of eruption is also commonly called a Plinian-type eruption as it was described in great detail by Pliny the Younger in two letters to his uncle.

Pliny described a dark cloud rising rapidly upward from Mount Vesuvius and being lit up by flames and large flashes of lightning. He then described thick, hot cinders and ash raining back down near the mountain, while further away the ash spread out resulting in a lurid darkness spread over the region. Strong earthquakes were also described.

Pliny’s wonderfully complete description of this type of eruption earned him the honor of having all subsequent eruptions of this type bear his name. Some geologists prefer to name geologic events after a type location however, which is why some refer to this type as a Vesuvian eruption. 

But was Pliny the first to fully describe such an eruption, or does a more ancient author deserve this honor? Science has a long history of memorializing the first, and yet in this instance, the first has been overlooked. The eruption of Mount Sinai in 1459 BCE, give or take a few years, was fully described by Moses. Therefore, this type of eruption should, by convention, be called a Mosaic- or Sinaian-type eruption.

Pliny’s description is considered to be a first because it contains certain criteria, all of which are also found in the description by Moses. These are:

1) a rapidly rising, hot cloud of ash and other volcanic material

2) lightning caused by static electric charges as the material is ejected upwards

3) flames or burning material known today as lava

4) thick darkness covering the surrounding region as the ash settles

5) strong earthquakes

“…the mountain burned with fire to the midst of heaven, with darkness, cloud, and thick darkness.” Deuteronomy 4:11

“…there were thundering and lightnings… Its smoking ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly.” Exodus 19:16,18

The necessary criteria appears to be only lacking a description of ash. However, the Hebrew word used here for darkness, is the same Hebrew word used to describe the plague of darkness that settled on Egypt just a couple of months before. That darkness was described as a “darkness which may even be felt” (Exodus 10:21) indicating the presence of particles in the air causing the darkness—in other words, ash.

One potential point of controversy in renaming this type of eruption after Sinai might be that the exact location of the mountain has been lost to history and is only known to be somewhere in Arabia’s rift region where such eruptions have been documented. Not knowing the exact location should not be a problem as scientific convention still honors the first description even when the type is lost. There are many examples in biology where the type specimen of a new specie has been lost.

Another argument for its rejection would be that acceptance of the historicity of this event is limited to the realm of believers in Judeo-Christian religions. However, outside of the Bible, the Quran also portrays this event as historical.

“We made the mountain tower high above them at their pledge…” An Nisa 4:154

“…when his Lord revealed Himself to the mountain, He made it crumble…” Al Araf 7:143

Not only does the Quran affirm the historicity of the account, but just like the Torah, it marvels at the ability of the Creator to manifest Himself within such awesome displays of power within His creation. Will the skeptics also one day marvel when the whole earth is bathed in a thick and gloomy volcanic darkness? A future day is described by two later authors who use the same Hebrew word for darkness that Moses used (Joel 2:2 and Zephaniah 1:15). In Revelation, John also describes a future plague of darkness that is painful (Revelation 16:10). Could these prophecies be hinting at a future time of significant volcanic activity? Maybe then fellow geologists will accept calling these Sinaian-type eruptions.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Bruce, Will You Repent on Your Deathbed and Return to Jesus?

death oscar wilde

Several years ago, a reader of this blog asked me to answer this question: Bruce, Will You Repent on Your Deathbed and Return to Jesus?

Good question.

I divorced Jesus in November 2008. Since then, I have proudly worn the atheist label. I am often asked WHY Jesus and I had a falling out and I ended our five-decade-long marriage. (Please see the WHY? page.) While the reasons are many, the primary reason I left Christianity is that its beliefs and practices no longer made sense to me. (Please see The Michael Mock Rule: It Just Doesn’t Make Sense.) I no longer believed the central claims of Christianity: the existence of the triune God, the deity of Christ, the virgin birth, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, to name a few. I no longer believed in original sin or that humans were inherently broken and in need of saving. I no longer believed that the Bible was an inerrant, infallible text supernaturally written by God. I came to the conclusion that Jesus lived and died, end of story; that the miracles attributed to him were human fabrications. As you can see, I reject out of hand virtually everything Christians believe and hold dear. Thus, I am an atheist.

Heaven and Hell are religious constructs used by clerics to keep asses in the pews and money in the offering plates. Heaven is the proverbial carrot, and Hell is the stick. Since these places do not exist, I need not fear spending eternity in the Lake of Fire being tortured by God for my unbelief.

While I am confident that Christianity is untrue, I remain open to evidence that suggests otherwise. It’s doubtful that any such evidence is forthcoming. Christian theologians and apologists have been making the case for Christianity for 2,000 years. I suspect everything that can be said, has been said. Solomon was right when he said, “There’s nothing new under the sun.” Countless Christian apologists have stopped by this site to ply their apologetical skills, hoping to reclaim Bruce, the atheist, for Jesus and perhaps save a few of his “followers.” Every one of them has left frustrated that their super-duper, clever, sophisticated arguments failed to win anyone to their cause. Why? Same shit, new day.

I am sixty-seven years old. In poor health, struggling just to make it to the next day, I know that I shall die sooner, and not later. Maybe I will live twenty more years. I doubt it. Dealing with chronic illnesses and unrelenting pain wears me out. There could come a day when I have had enough and I put an end to my struggle. Or, I could have a stroke, heart attack, cancer, or die from a hematoma on my brain from being clocked with a Lodge cast iron skillet by my wife. Or I could trip over toys left on the floor by one of my grandchildren, breaking my neck. The death possibilities are endless. Cheerful thoughts, people, cheerful thoughts. 🙂

The question posed to me presupposes that I will have a terminal illness that makes me bedridden, affording me the opportunity to repent of my sins and ask Jesus to save me. On that day, will I have the courage of my convictions and remain true to atheism, or will I pray the sinner’s prayer just in case Christianity is true?

The pattern of my life suggests that I will remain true to my convictions; that I will die, not with the name of Jesus on my lips, but that of my partner and family. I do not doubt that upon hearing of my soon demise, Evangelical evangelizers will seek me out, hoping to get one last word in for Jesus. Ceiling prayers will be uttered by Christians, pleading with God to save the vile, wretched, sinful atheist Bruce Gerencser. Will these efforts have their desired effect? I doubt it. The fact remains that I deconverted because Christianity no longer made any sense to me. I came to see that the central claims of Christianity were false. Intellectually, I simply don’t buy what Christians are selling. Since it is highly doubtful that any new evidence is forthcoming, I see no reason for me to change my mind on my deathbed.

Let me conclude this post with an excerpt from Lawrence Krauss’ New Yorker article titled, The Fantasy of the Deathbed Conversion:

Earlier this spring, a prominent evangelical Christian named Larry Taunton published a book alleging that Christopher Hitchens, an outspoken atheist, had been, during the last years of his life, “teetering on the edge of belief.” Taunton, who claims to have been one of Hitchens’s friends, cites as evidence two conversations he had with Hitchens during car trips on the way to debates about religion and atheism—debates, it must be said, that Hitchens was paid to attend.

Hitchens’s family and actual friends—people who didn’t pay to spend time with him—know that this claim is absurd. (I was honored to be one of Hitchens’s friends during the last five years of his life.) Hitchens saw Christianity as little more than a social virus with interesting literary overtones. That view never changed during his final year of life—a period during which Taunton didn’t even meet with him. Hitchens loved to engage in generous intellectual repartee, even with those with whom he unequivocally disagreed. His civility, it seems, has been misinterpreted.

This most recent claim, of course, is just the latest in a long line of similar claims about famous atheist conversions. It raises a worthwhile question: Why do evangelical Christians so often seek to claim converts among the dead?

In relatively recent history, the most well-known postmortem Christian evangelist is probably Elizabeth Cotton. In 1915, she declared that, thirty-three years earlier, Charles Darwin himself had revealed to her, on his deathbed, his wish to recant the doctrine of evolution in exchange for Christian salvation. This claim was shown to be false by none other than Darwin’s daughter, Henrietta Litchfield, who was with him at the end. She pointed out that Cotton—like Taunton, in Hitchens’s case—hadn’t actually visited him during his final days. And evangelical Protestants aren’t the only Christians addicted to the narrative of the deathbed conversion. Catholics have made claims about the “long conversion” of Oscar Wilde; the Mormon Church has gone so far as to baptize dead people who haven’t asked for it—pro-bono conversion, as it were.

….

In a conversation we had a few years ago, Hugh Downs, the television anchor, suggested why this might be so. One of the reasons people go to church, he said, is intellectual validation. People attend church for spiritual and social reasons, of course: to pray and to see friends. But they also want to hear their religious convictions affirmed—convictions that, as the Dawkins survey suggests, may seem a little dubious during the rest of the week. Could it be that evangelicals seek to convert the famous dead because they’re insecure about their own beliefs? If they can claim that people they admire as intellects—Darwin, Wilde, Hitchens—ultimately agreed with them, it validates their own faith.

In the end, what evangelists don’t recognize is that atheism is not a belief system like Christianity, from which one might defect after hearing some arguments or having a few sombre conversations. It is, instead, simply a rational decision not to accept the existence of God without evidence. As wise thinkers, including Laplace, Hume, Sagan, and Hitchens, have often said, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. It’s hard to imagine a more extraordinary claim than that some hidden intelligence created a universe of more than a hundred billion galaxies, each containing more than a hundred billion stars, and then waited more than 13.7 billion years until a planet in a remote corner of a single galaxy evolved an atmosphere sufficiently oxygenated to support life, only to then reveal his existence to an assortment of violent tribal groups before disappearing again.

The idea of the deathbed conversion raises another question: even if an atheist were to accept a theistic worldview, why should he choose to adopt Christianity, rather than any of the world’s many other religions? Evangelical Christians assume, rather presumptuously, that the natural choice is Christianity. Hitchens was unlikely to share that view. As he emphasized in his own writing, no one talks about Hell in the New Testament more than Jesus; the New Testament, he wrote, is worse than the Old. Hitchens described the New Testament as envisioning a “Celestial Dictatorship, a kind of divine North Korea.”

In this regard, the saddest thing about these imagined deathbed conversions is that, even if they were real, they could hardly be seen as victories for Christ. They are stories in which the final pain of a fatal disease, or the fear of imminent death and eternal punishment, is identified as the factor necessary for otherwise rational people to believe in the supernatural.

If mental torture is required to effect a conversion, what does that say about the reliability of the fundamental premises of Christianity to begin with? Evangelicals would be better advised to concentrate on converting the living. Converting the deceased suggests only that they can’t convince those who can argue back. They should let the dead rest in peace.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Creationist Ken Ham Needs to Buy a Dictionary

Ken Ham, CEO of Answers in Genesis, the Creation Museum, and Ark Encounter is ever on the watchtower looking for a conspiracy he can gin up to rouse the faithful. Several years ago, Ham wrote that public school students were being taught to worship the sun. Here’s what he said:

Imagine if public school students in their science classes were encouraged to worship the sun. And yet this is happening! But how do they get away with it? Well, they just call worshipping the sun “science,” and then claim they can teach this “science” in the public schools!

You see, the following statement is allowed to be made (and is being made in a number of instances) to public school science students:

Our ancestors worshipped the sun. They were far from foolish. It makes good sense to revere the sun and stars because we are their children. The silicon in the rocks, the oxygen in the air, the carbon in our DNA, the iron in our skyscrapers, the silver in our jewelry—were all made in stars, billions of years ago. Our planet, our society, and we ourselves are stardust.

This statement was made by Neil deGrasse Tyson in the new Cosmos series. Evolutionists are encouraging teachers to use this series in public school classrooms.

revere

Evidently, Ham doesn’t know what the word revere means. While the word “worship” can be thought of as reverence, it is almost always used in a religious sense. Neil deGrasse Tyson is NOT using the word “revere” in a religious sense. Of course, Ham denies this because he believes atheism/humanism/secularism is a religion. Ham needs to buy himself a dictionary so he can learn what words such as “worship” and “revere” actually mean. Will he do so? Of course not. The coffers at Ham’s monuments to ignorance are running low. He needs to attract people to his creationist amusement park to keep his “ministry” afloat. Scaring Evangelicals is a surefire way to get them to Kentucky to get their fears allayed. For $44.99 a person, Christians can learn the “truth” about sun worship, and every other lie Ham peddles from atop of his creationist empire.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Bruce’s Ten Hot Takes for July 8, 2024

hot takes

MSNBC talking head, Lawrence O’Donnell, thinks all the questions about Joe Biden’s health have been answered. Not even close, Lawrence.

I’m not a Joe Biden fan. I’ve never been a fan. He wasn’t my first, second, or third choice in the primaries, and the only reason I voted for him in 2020 was the fact he wasn’t Donald Trump. I used the same approach when voting for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Some of my friends and acquaintances want me to ignore what I see with my own eyes: Joe Biden’s health is declining, and even if he wins reelection, he has a one in three chance of dying in office.

I continue to be amazed by Democrats who think that no one else but Joe Biden can beat Trump in November. Really? With a 37 percent approval rating?

We currently have at least twelve feral/stray cats we are feeding, including a mother with four kittens, and a female with one kitten. We have three inside cats of our own — all rescues. It infuriates me that people are not held accountable for abandoning their cats or allowing them to roam unspayed.

Google made drastic changes to its search algorithm earlier this year. Result? Sites losing thousands and millions of visitors and page views. Traffic for this site is down 30-40 percent.

Several weeks ago, I worried that we wouldn’t have any young raccoons in our backyard this summer. Good news! They finally showed up: three adults and five young raccoons are in our yard as I write.

Our newest cat, Charley, is about nine months old. He’s quite clumsy. Last night, Charley tried to jump in the window above our couch — where I’m presently sitting. He missed, clobbering me in the head as he fell, scratching my left ear. Boy, did it bleed, and, boy, did I cuss. 🙂

I have major back surgery scheduled for August 19, at ProMedica Hospital in Toledo. A routine pre-op chest x-ray revealed a spot on the lower lobe of my left lung. This will require a CT scan on Friday to make sure nothing is amiss. My physician said, “Better to air on the side of caution.”

The Reds sweep the New York Yankees, and then turn around and get swept by the Detroit Tigers. Arg! Baseball. ⚾️

Bonus: Busy week ahead: medical tests, Band of Horses concert, Reds game vs. Colorado Rockies, dinner (Mancy’s Steakhouse), and overnight stay (Hancock Hotel) in Findlay with my partner of 46 years. I’m pushing it physically, but my present mantra is “I only die once.” If not today — when?

Double Bonus: Recent election results in Britain and France give me a glimmer of hope. I fear, however, that the United States will face a lot more upheaval and turmoil before we finally uproot MAGA extremism from our midst. We will likely have to have a “Brexit” moment before people see the bankruptcy of right-wing extremism. That’s the optimistic side of me speaking. My pessimistic side thinks our democracy is in decline and will not survive another Trump presidency, and may not do all that well with a Biden win. Our “rot” is there for all to see. “Hey, did you see who won American Idol?”

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Bruce, Have You Ever Had a Supernatural Experience?

atheism

A commenter on this blog, T34, asked the following question on the post titled, Is Christianity a Blood Cult?

I read a few of the articles [on this blog] and none of the titles seem to answer my question. Please know I [am]not an evangelist. I honestly am searching for answers. I want to know if Bruce has had any supernatural or spiritual (not religious) experiences or relationship with God or another? I would like to understand more why Bruce chose to be an outright atheist as opposed to just non-religious or agnostic. And if he has had any supernatural or spiritual experiences I’d like to know what they were and what he thinks of them now.

Several years ago, Matt Dillahunty, mentioned on The Atheist Experience the difficulty in defining the word “spiritual” or “spirituality.” Ask a hundred people to define these words and you will get 101 different answers. “Spiritual” to a Baptist is very different from the way a Catholic, Buddhist, Pagan, or humanist might define the word. T34 equates “spiritual” with “supernatural,” so I will proceed using that definition, understanding that there is no absolute textbook definition for these words. For example, a Charismatic Christian considers speaking in tongues to be “supernatural” experience. An Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) Christian, however, considers speaking in tongues a tool used by Satan to lead people astray.

Before I answer T34’s question, I do want to answer one claim that she makes: she suggests that supernatural and spiritual experiences are not religious. I don’t believe that at all. It is religion, in all its shapes and forms — organized or not — that gives life to supernatural and spiritual claims. Without religion, I doubt humans would have much need for such experiences.

My editor pointed out that non-religious people can and do have paranormal experiences. Are paranormal experiences such as “seeing” ghosts supernatural in nature? Maybe, but I suspect that if naturalism and science had a stronger hold on our thinking, thoughts of ghosts would likely fade away. I’m deliberately painting with BWAPB — Bruce’s Wide-Ass Paint Brush. I recognize that there could be some experiences that might not fit in the box I have constructed in this post. Unlikely, but possible.

I had a church piano player in Somerset who was certain that her dead lover (long story) appeared next to her when she played the piano. I never saw him, but she swore he was right there cheering her on as she played “Victory in Jesus.” Could her story be true? Sure, but not in the way some people may think it is. Her story is true in the sense that she “thinks” it is. In her mind, this man is very real, even though his dead body is planted six feet under in the nearby cemetery. Thus such things can be “true” without actually being factually and rationally true.

I was part of the Christian church for fifty years. While I spent my preschool years in Lutheran and Episcopal churches, once I started first grade in 1963, I attended Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB), Southern Baptist, and garden variety Evangelical churches. I spent twenty-five years pastoring Evangelical churches in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan, pastoring my last church in 2003.

When I discuss the spiritual/supernatural experiences I have experienced in my life, these events must be understood in light of the sects I was raised in, what my pastors taught me, what I learned in Bible college, and my personal learning and observations as a Christian and as an Evangelical pastor. My understanding of what is spiritual/supernatural is socially, culturally, tribally, and environmentally conditioned. A Southern Baptist church can be located on the northwest corner of Main and High in Anywhere, Ohio, and a Pentecostal church located on the southeast corner of Main and High in the same town. Both preach Jesus as the virgin-born son of God, who came to earth, lived a sinless life, and died on the cross for our sins. Both preach that all of us are sinners in need of salvation, and that one must be born again to inherit the Kingdom of God. And both believe Satan is real, Hell is sure, and Donald Trump is the great white hope. Yet, when it comes to “experiencing” God, these churches wildly diverge from one another. The Pentecostals consider the Baptists dead and lifeless, lacking Holy Ghost power, while the Baptists consider their Pentecostal neighbors to be way too emotional; to have a screw loose. Both churches “experience” God in their own way, following in the footsteps of their parents, grandparents, and older saints who have come before them.

As a man who pastored several churches in desperate need of change, I heard on more than a few occasions church leaders and congregants say, when confronted with doing something new or different, “That’s not the way we do it!” Behaviors become deeply ingrained among Christian church members. Our forefathers did it this way, we do it this way, and we expect our children and grandchildren will do the same. A popular song in many Evangelical churches is the hymn, “I Shall Not be Moved.” The chorus says:

I shall not be, I shall not be moved.
I shall not be, I shall not be moved;
like a tree planted by the water,
I shall not be moved.

That chorus pretty well explains most churches. Whatever their beliefs and practices are, they “shall not be moved.” So it is when determining what are real “spiritual” or “supernatural” experiences.

supernatural

As a Baptist, I believed the moment I was saved/born-again, that God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, came into my “heart” and lived inside of me, teaching me everything that pertains to life and godliness. It was the Holy Spirit who was my teacher and guide. It was the Holy Spirit who taught me the “truth.” It was the Holy Spirit who convicted me of sin. It was the Holy Spirit (God) who heard and answered my prayers. It was the Holy Spirit who directed every aspect of my life.

As a pastor, I typically preached a minimum of four sermons a week. I spent several full days a week — typically 20 hours a week — reading and studying the Biblical text, commentaries, and other theological tomes. As I put my sermons together, I sought God’s help to construct them in such a way that people would hear and understand what I had to say. Daily, I asked God to fill me with his presence and power, especially when I entered the pulpit to preach. I always spent time confessing my sins before preaching, believing it was vitally important for me to be “right” with God before I stood before my church and said, “Thus saith the Lord.”

I expected the Holy Spirit to take my words and use them to work supernaturally among those under the sound of my voice. I believed that it was God alone who could save sinners, convict believers of their sin, or bring “revival” to our church. I saw myself as helpless — without me, ye can do nothing, the Bible says — without the supernatural indwelling and empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

As a committed Christian, I was a frequent pray-er. I prayed for all sorts of things, from the trivial to things beyond human ability and comprehension. I believed that with God all things were possible. In the moment, I believed that God, through the work of the third part of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, was working supernaturally in my life, that of my family, and of my church. My whole life was a “spiritual” experience, of sorts. God was always with me, no matter where I went, what I said, or what I did, so how could it have been otherwise?

In November 2008, God, the Holy Spirit, along with all of his baggage, was expelled from my life. For the past sixteen years, I have taken the broom of reason, science, skepticism, and rational inquiry and swept the Christian God from every corner of my mind. While I wish I could say that that my mind is swept clean of God, dust devils remain, lurking in the deep corners and crevasses of my mind. All I know to do is keep sweeping until I can no longer see “God” lurking in the shadows.

T34 wants to know how I now view the “spiritual” and “supernatural” experiences from my past life as a Christian and Evangelical pastor. As an atheist, I know that these experiences were not, in any way, connected to God. I have concluded that the Christian God is a myth, that he/she/it is of human origin. If there is no God, then how do I “explain” the God moments I experienced in my life? Does Bruce, the atheist, have an explanation for what “God” did in his life for almost fifty years?

Sure. The answer to this question is not that difficult. I spent decades being indoctrinated by my parents, pastors, and professors in what they deemed was the “faith once delivered to the saints.” This indoctrination guaranteed the trajectory of my life, from a little redheaded boy who said he wanted to be a preacher when he grew up — not a baseball player, policeman, or trash truck driver, but a preacher — to a Bible college-trained man of God who pastored seven churches over twenty-five years in the ministry. I couldn’t have been anything other than a pastor.

And so it is with the “spiritual” and “supernatural” experiences I had in my life. My parents, churches, pastors, and professors modeled certain beliefs and practices to me. I “experienced” God the very same way these people did. Social and tribal conditioning determined how I would “experience” God, not God himself. He doesn’t exist, remember?

I sincerely believed that, at the time, God was speaking to me, God was leading me, and God was supernaturally working in and through my life. But just because I believed these things to be true, doesn’t mean they were. A better understanding of science has forced me to see that my past life was built upon a lie, a well-intended con. This is tough for me to admit. In doing so, I am admitting that much of my life was a waste of time. Sure, I did a lot of good for other people, but the “spiritual” and “supernatural” stuff? Nonsense. Nothing, but nonsense. And saying this, even today, is hard for me to do. It’s difficult and painful for me to admit that I wasted so much of my life in the pursuit of something that does not exist.

T34 asked why I “chose to be an outright atheist as opposed to just non-religious or agnostic.” I am not sure what an “outright” atheist is as opposed to an atheist. Remembering what I said about the connection between religion and the “spiritual” and “supernatural,” isn’t someone non-religious an atheist or an agnostic? While such people may not carry those labels, aren’t non-religious people those who do not believe in deities? If someone believes in a God of some sort, be it a personal deity or some sort of divine energy, they can’t properly, from my perspective, be considered non-religious.

Granted, there is a difference between people who are non-religious and people who are indifferent towards religion. An increasing number of Americans are indifferent towards religion. They don’t give a shit about religion, be it organized or not. I suspect that many of these NONES will eventually become agnostics and/or atheists.

I label myself this way:

I am agnostic on the God question. I am convinced that the extant deities are no gods at all; and that the Abrahamic God is a human construct. That said, I cannot know for certain whether, in the future, a deity might make itself known to us. I consider the probability of this happening to be .00000000000000000000001. Thus, I live my day-to-day life as an atheist — as if no deity exists. I see no evidence for the existence of any God, be it Jehovah, Jesus, Allah, Vishnu, or a cast of thousands of other gods. The only time I “think” about God is when I am writing for this blog. Outside of my writing, I live a God-free life, as do my wife and three cats.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Bruce Gerencser