Bruce’s Top Ten List of Crazy Beliefs

daniel dennett quote

One of the hardest things for me to admit is that I, at one time, believed things that I now know to be untrue. These fallacious beliefs had a deleterious effect on not only my life, but the lives of my wife and children. While everyone concerned would agree that we have escaped the consequences of my beliefs relatively unharmed, I can’t help but think how life might have been different had I not fallen for the greatest con game of all time – Evangelical Christianity.

On one hand, if I had not been raised in the Evangelical church nor attended a Fundamentalist Baptist college, I never would have met my wife. Perhaps, in an alternate timeline I might have met a woman with the same beauty, charm, and kindness as Polly. Perhaps, I say. I remember another woman I dated before Polly. I was madly in love with her, yet, as I look back on our tumultuous relationship, I know that had we married, we likely would have killed each other. Choosing a different path doesn’t necessarily bring a better outcome. The old adage isn’t always true: the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

This I know for sure: I spent most of my life believing things that are not true. And not just believing these things, but putting them into practice. It’s one thing to believe the Christian God exists, but it a far different thing, based on that belief, to devotes one’s life to serving this God. And not just serving him on Sunday, the day when he demands fealty from his followers, but like a devoted slave, I served this God day and night; day after day, year after year, for almost 50 years. This God, found only within the pages of an ancient religious text, promised that he would care for me in this life, and after death he would grant me eternal life in a pain-free, glorious Heaven.

Daniel Dennett is right: There’s no polite way to suggest to someone that they have devoted their life to folly. Indeed, a life of folly. While I can, if given sufficient libations, cry over the spilt milk of my life, I choose to use my past life as a soldier for Jesus as a cautionary warning to all who dare to follow in my steps. I stand on the road of life waving my arms, hoping to turn sincere followers of this God away from the bridge-less chasm that awaits on the road ahead. Take another path, I passionately warn. Sadly, most of this God’s slaves will ignore my warnings, thinking that I am the one who is deceived and in need of saving.

There are others similar to myself, who, due to their blind devotion to religious belief, have squandered the best years of their lives. How can we not regret giving the years when we were strong, healthy, and full of life, to a mythical deity? And worse yet, how can we not regret giving our time, talent, and money to the human-built religious machine that drives over all who dare to get in its way?

Like other survivors of the Evangelical con, I have made an uneasy peace with my past. I have many regrets over how I spent most of my adult life. I know there’s nothing I can do about the past. I choose to learn from it, use it to fuel my writing, in the hope that I can, in some small way, play a part in bringing Evangelicalism to an ignominious end. While I will not live long enough to see its demise, I hope that one day one of my descendants will be the person who holds a pillow over the Evangelical God’s face and finally smothers him to death.

What follows is Bruce’s Top Ten List of Crazy Beliefs. Most former Evangelicals will certainly find this list to be quite similar to theirs. I’ve ranked these beliefs based on how they materially affected me and my family.

  1. The Bible is a God-inspired text, inerrant and infallible
  2. The universe was created in six days and is 6,020 years
  3. God talks to me
  4. The story of the supernatural Jesus – all of it
  5. There is an unseen spiritual dimension inhabited by angels and demons
  6. There is a shadow government, a cabal that runs the world
  7. Demons possess people and inanimate objects such as toys
  8. Satan uses certain styles of music to control the masses
  9. Mental illness is caused by sin
  10. Government schools destroy the minds of students

My Evangelical journey began and ended with the Bible. My devotion to God was fueled by the belief that the Bible was a God-inspired text. This text was inerrant and infallible, and the God who wrote it meant for me to obey its commands and teachings.  Not only did this God expect me to obey, he also commanded me to teach others to do the same. And so I did. Thousands of people sat under the sound of my voice, hearing me declare that loving, serving, and worshiping the Evangelical God was the way to peace, blessing, the forgiveness of sins, and life everlasting.

Everything in my life flowed from my commitment to the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible. As Baptists are fond of saying: God said it, I believe it, and that settles it for me!  My journey out of Evangelicalism was complete when I came to realize that what I once believed about the Bible was not true; that my worldview was built on a delusional foundation. Once the Bible lost its magical power over me, other beliefs, like the ones mentioned above, quickly unraveled. When my mind was unfettered from the Evangelical delusion, I was then free to seek truth wherever it may be found. No longer was I boxed in by a set of beliefs that forced me to embrace irrationality. (Please see The Danger of Being in a Box and Why It Makes Sense When you Are in It and What I Found When I Left the Box) And like most ex-Evangelicals, I am grateful that reason, knowledge, and understanding have set me free.

print

Subscribe to the Daily Post Digest!

Sign up now and receive an email every day containing the new posts for that day.

I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )

I will never give away, trade or sell your email address. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Powered by Optin Forms

28 Comments

  1. exrelayman

    Ridiculosity (sic) runs rampant in religion. List of silliness is almost endless. A couple other key sillies:

    The scapegoat concept. A is forgiven by killing B – oops, not enough – A is forgiven if and only if A believes in and worships B!

    The most important figure in the universe is invisible and undetectable and being so demands our loving devotion.

    I could go on, but I did say ‘a couple’. I will leave room for other commentators to expatiate.

    Reply
  2. marfin

    Bruce looking at how you describe your life and family I don`t know how it gets much better,loving wife , great kids wonderful grand kids , food, a house , vacations, life does not get much better. I believe you were somewhat a slave to a man made institution , but also believe in your efforts to do the right thing it makes you better person, for although you may disagree with a lot of the bible ,some of the traits you got from it were good for you and your family.As you say we all believe the grass is greener, I am reminded of an interview with Bob Geldof who grew up in Ireland at the time the catholic church really had a strangle hold on morality, and Bob spoke of music breaking down this stranglehold and giving him the freedom he wanted.Now you know I am not a catholic but Bob got his freedom and so did his wife and daughter now his wife cheated on him and died of a drug over dose and his daughter likewise died of a drug overdose,so the freedom from moral restrictions they sought came at a heavy price.You know my view that God gives my life purpose, and while we may disagree on any evidence to support this view, one thing I know is that I have yet to hear a better reason for life`s purpose, not money, or fame or pleasure, sex, drugs or rock and roll,.So if someone has the secret to a purpose filled life I am all ears.
    Life is but a vapour that is here a little while than it vanishes- James 4.14

    Reply
    1. Brian

      Hello marfin, Here’s your logic: Bob Geldof was sort of Catholic and he left that. Then his wife cheated on him and did drugs and his daughter too.
      Do you not see how faulty your logic is in these statements? Catholicism or lack of it may or may not be attached to drug use. One thing I would like to suggest is that self-harm does not begin and end with God or Bible. As we observe personal and family histories, patterns unfold and these are foundations for life, whether it becomes more positive or less so. Fundagelicals believe that all depends on God, the acceptance or rejection and certain flavors believe that the decision about your life (and Bob’s and family) were made before they were born, before time was time.
      When I fail, or am overtaken by anger or grief to the extent that it harms me, it might have to do with my own life history, marfin, and not just whether I am IFB first-rate and churched up to date! Rock and roll is a hymn. Music and all creativity is life being lived!
      I am going to tell you the secret to a purpose-filled life. No wait! That is what fundagelicals do and my dad did it his whole life from one pulpit or another. I am NOT going to tell you the secret, marfin. You are the secret and you need to tell it for yourself by living. God is a vapour. Let it vanish and live. (I have to add that one of the pet peeves I have against fundagelical talk is how it disparages life and undermines living it. Life is what I have, marfin and it when I occupy it, when I am not too fucked up by delusional fantasies (gawds and angels and devils) then it a glorious affair in the everyday. It is real…. too bad church couldn’t be about being real, about living instead of dying in God delusion.

      Reply
      1. MARFIN

        Brian you missed the point, Bob was no Catholic like most people in Ireland we were cultural Catholics,IE
        Catholic in name only, its the idea that freedom from religion will suddenly make life all rosy is a nonsense.
        The idea that religion poisons everything is a lie told by those peddling their books and ideas, you atheist guys like being scientific so take a scientific approach to this idea so 16,000 murders in the USA last year how many were religiously motivated, how many rapes, hundreds of thousands of deaths from alcohol and smoking, drug wars, drug dealing, gang wars, battered wives,hungry children the Enron`s and Bernie Madoffs of this world and the havoc they cause, the list goes on and on and you guys want to blame religion on most of the woes , look at the evidence do the maths, see what the real cause of woe in this world is , GREED, HATE, ENVY, MALICE,SELFISHNESS,LUST,THE DESIRES OF THE MIND AND FLESH, THE WHOLE CREED OF ME MYSELF I .

        Reply
        1. Geoff

          There you go again Marfin, trying to extricate religion from the evils of the world.

          Of course there are, and always will be, awful things going on, from the minor handbag snatch to a full blown multiple murder. Let’s ignore the dreadful, and undeniable, impact that religion is having worldwide and which I don’t need to detail. No, let’s stick with your domestic problems, those alcohol and drug deaths, battered wives, Bernie Madoffs, and so on.

          Do I blame religion for every one of these harms? Of course not, that would be ridiculous. Yet the fact is that these things are occurring in countries (including the UK) where there is a long history of civilised religion, which continues to be maintained in the US, much less so in Europe. Many crimes, and social disorders, are occurring without any help from religion. Unfortunately, a great many are very directly caused by it; one has only to look at the sexual abuse that came to light in the Roman Catholic Church, followed by revelations from other denominations. It’s been found to be endemic. It’s not incidental to the religion, it’s very much an integral part.

          But even that’s by no means all. Religion takes away reason, so all sorts of oppression become justified via the distorted view of the world that religion gives. Think domestic abuse, women and children, all sorts of minor theft and fraud caused by poorly remunerated pastors. Think of the denial of science that allows children to grow up preferring young age creationism in preference to evolution, and the damage that does to their futures. Or climate change denial, which is harming everybody on the planet.

          And, of course, there’s the biggie, guns. Somehow guns and God have got mixed up in American thinking in a way that defies common sense. Two things that one would expect to be diametrically opposed, are embraced as being mutually inclusive. The result is that more people have died from gun deaths in the last 30 years in the US than military deaths suffered in all conflicts since America was formed.

          Does religion poison everything? Absolutely it does.

          Reply
          1. marfin

            Seriously gun deaths in the USA are caused by being religious, please do some research on gun crime in the USA before you make such ill informed statements.There was no religion in USSR when Stalin murdered millions, and if the worst thing a child growing up in the USA has to worry about is not , hunger, poverty,drug addiction, racism,gun crime,unemployment,bad schools,rape,abduction,
            depression,bad health care, no these are not the real menace to society its teaching creationism, come on don`t be ridiculous .

          2. Becky Wiren

            Geoff, I half agree with you and half with Marfin. I don’t think ALL religion poisons people. The hardcore, far right fundamentalist religion is what poisons people. There are more enlightened religions that do NOT teach the ridiculous doctrine of burning in hell forever.

            Marfin, the people promoting creationism are calling evolution from the devil. That is demonstrably laughable, and those people are teaching a belief that students start with the idea “the Bible is inerrant.” Once you do that, NOTHING about proving creationism is the scientific method. Scientists may start with a hypothesis, but the point of the scientific method is to prove OR disprove the hypothesis. Creationists are only interested in PROVING creationism. Therefore, there is no true scientific method that proves creationism, but ridiculous (non) evidence.

          3. Geoff

            This is a reply to Marfin and to Becky – no reply option under their comments

            Marfin.

            Yes the gun problem is a major issue and certainly isn’t caused solely by religion, but its undeniable connection, which shouldn’t be if their religion were genuinely considered, is certainly part of the problem. And if you teach people not to reason properly then they become susceptible to those things that appeal to intellectual weakness. Note; I’m not saying religion is by any means the only problem, but it creates a poisonous environment that is out of proportion to its importance.

            As for Stalin, the totalitarian nature of the regime was of a quasi-religious nature.

            Becky.

            I agree with your points but would say that rather than ‘proving’ things science relies on weight of evidence. Nothing in the real world can be proved, but there comes a point when denying something becomes perverse. Evolution falls into that category. Well that’s my opinion.

          4. marfin

            The funny thing about all this is that atheist don`t believe in a God so obviously God did not cause religion evolution did , as a matter of fact evolution caused everything, murder, rape, greed,hate,
            racism,child abuse,drug and alcohol addiction,serial killers,and tv evanglists. So there is no good or bad, right or wrong , evolution just produces. things, traits , desires, it no more cares if it produces social workers or serial killers, all are just a product of evolution.So why are atheist not speaking out about the evils of evolution.

          5. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            Marfin,

            This is the most incoherent comment you have ever left.

            Bruce

          6. marfin

            Bruce there are only two options either God did it or evolution did it So did God make humans with all our flaws , failings , and religious leanings or did evolution make humans with all our flaws failing and religious leanings.Maybe you can enlighten us with some hitherto unknown third method of making humans.

          7. Geoff

            The answer to Marfin’s highly emotional point about God versus evolution is that it doesn’t make sense.

            We know evolution is true. By all means people can steadfastly refuse to believe it, but in so doing they marginalise themselves. So the answer is both that evolution is the core explanation of why we are the way we are (including all the good things, by the way, noting that Marfin seems to dwell on the bad), but it also makes much more sense than some sort of special creation. Why would God create us with all these awful tendencies, a logical conundrum that has resulted in apologists since time immemorial contriving arguments such as original sin?

        2. Brian

          Hi MARFIN, I thought you might be my Christian brother because he ends up using ALL CAPS TOO WHEN HE TALKS TO ME! Particularly if the word GOD comes up. IT has to be CAPS.
          I did not miss the point about marginal belief. I was brought up Baptist and the whole and never-ending test for genuine faith never quit…. You are trying to tell me something that I knew when I was ten years old and I am now in my 60’s. (Not that it is bad to relearn things now and again…
          Christisicky teachings disparage me-myself-and-I because the point of the tool (religion) is to open a person up so they can be occupied by Delusion, Fully Delusion. Sometimes, that stops a drug addict from taking drugs so you would say, See what God can do! But I would suggest that you have a fallen vision of self and that memyselfandI worth caring for and putting first sometimes and that your notion of humanity is very very grumpy. When your preacher speaks, use the mantra, “Why, why?” It should give you a thing or two to work with rather than worrying over the desires of the mind, as if they were a terrible thing. It is so sad what the tool of religion almost always does to simple living.
          Something

          Reply
  3. Melody

    I wondered if I would score 10 out 10. Not entirely but it comes close. There’s some mental health issues in our family and fortunately that helped in not believeing no. 9 ‘though many around us did and thought it was all caused by demons. 1-8 we believed and I was raised to believe. 10 sort of: I did attend pretty strict religious schools, mostly because the ordinary Christian ones weren’t good enough: some teachers believed in evolution and some kids used drugs and partied, so yeah… Loving some non-Christian music as a teen and older was a sin of course, but it was also one of the things were reality slowly seeped through. No, people did not turn into strange Satan-reigned zombies by listening to music nor by watching or reading Harry Potter. Unless, of course, that is the underlying reason for my deconversion…. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Brian

      Ha! Exactly, Melody… It is only a matter of time before you drool and go seeking babies to eat 😉 (I like the ones less than a week old, bbq’d and with hot sauce)

      Reply
      1. Melody

        Haven’t reached that level just yet… But it’s still early days 😉

        Reply
  4. Brian

    Bruce, you perform the great flip-flop in this post: Having left the belief, you focus on the belief as if it was the basis, not the tool. Religion is the best tool of delusion. Well, maybe second to mental illness itself. It gives ‘order’ to the chaos of delusion, the fears that our species has known probably from the dawn of our species. Religion is a fortress of delusion and saves lives!
    It might have saved yours at one time through delusion. Before you can sing out, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” you must acknowledge that you have been injured. This you do but then you flop-flop and seem to blame the tool used, sweet religion.
    What happens to us to create the vacuum of love that religion slyly occupies? The tool says we are born in sin but that is the tool talking again.
    The history of our lives will reveal what we care to see of it, what we can manage. This might be one good reason for talk-therapy but only if the talk goes to emotional content, to the deep feelings, to what happened to us to leave us in pews.
    Shit, that sounds a bit sermonish… I appreciate your patience! Delusion is! (but by its very nature is not real.) Talking about religion is my way to leave it outside while I live. (They got me early.)

    Reply
  5. another ami

    I know I’m not the norm here, as I still have faith, but other than a brief stint as a pre-teen, I never attended a fundamentalist/evangelical church. I was raised in an FUM Friends meeting, which I subsequently left for becoming too legalistic.
    I only have ever fully believed in # 3. I believe in Jesus, but considering that I don’t believe #1, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t pass the “all of it” clause. I believe the first 6 words of #5, but would have to restate it as, “there is a spiritual dimension to human existence.” I come here to learn how to fight the fundamentalist/evangelicals who, imho, are doing grave damage not only to the name of Christians, but to our very democracy. Considering I would have “failed” the fundie religious test, I definitely need the help. And, even though our host Bruce no longer believes, I still consider him to be “one of the good guys” and the faith I hold does not condemn him or anyone else.
    Wishing Bruce and his readers a happy and peaceful holiday season.

    Reply
    1. Brian

      Thank-you, another ami. I trust your time is peaceful and happy too. Regarding the first six words of #5, I think our feelings fulfill the spiritual element mentioned here, the great wonder of trees or breath or love, the whole shebang. That seems to be about as spiritual as I get until I move into delusional hints of angels, for instance. Certainly Clarence, of It’s a Wonderful Life, comes close to being a humanoid-type of angel but what on earth would happen to him once he had wings? He’d become a birdman and how on earth would we handle that?
      But perhaps you are referring to God in your feeling about spiritual dimension, a place that God is and that we sense in some manner. I can’t get on-board with that one though I come from a long background (generations) of belief and was a churched Baptist years ago.
      The wonder of life (when it visits, on its own terms) is for me a kind of cook-out where imagination and feelings feed on the world, on all that is, and poetry is in the pulpit. The silence is deafening, vision is on fire and when you try to catch it, whoosh…
      Best wishes…

      Reply
  6. TLC

    Well, let’s see: Yes to believing 1, 3, 4, 5 and 7. No to the rest. Have given up on 1, 3, and 7. Never heard about the cabal that runs the world, or the government schools destroying minds.

    Like another ami, I also am still a Christian but refuse to identify as evangelical anymore.

    Reply
  7. Birgitta

    Nice to meet you, Bruce. And thanks for sharing your story. I think it’s important that each of us lives our truth to the best of our abilities. As Christians, we’re taught [insert fundamental beliefs here]. It took me a long time to give unbiased respect to others, based on who they are as a person, rather than what he or she might believe. I haven’t been to a church in more than 4 years, and don’t plan on going any time soon. That said, Jesus is still my best friend. :0) I will always believe in God and His word. But that’s beside the point. I understand your perspective and hope you feel happy in the life you’re now living. Remember, just as all atheists are not the same, neither are all Christians. There are “good” and “bad” in both groups, as with anything else. For these reasons, I try to not use labels. (And when I do, such as is the case here, I do that for other peoples’ benefits, mostly, and for reference.)

    I hope you allow the subjectivity of others, regarding their Christian beliefs. I read that you felt as if you’re standing before a chasm- waving your arms in protest- hoping to warn anybody moving closer in the direction of Christianity. (Paraphrased.) But again, this is your perspective only. You had bad experiences, obviously. But your experiences won’t be everyone’s, and to believe that a person who bridges that chasm and grows closer to God is on a certain road to destruction is no different than a Christian thinking you’re on your way to hell from moving AWAY from God. We’re allowed our subjectivities- so must we allow others theirs.

    I say this after 5 strong years of college psychology- I hope you understand. ;0) All the best, and take care. -Birgitta

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      I will ask you the same questions I ask every religious person. Do you believe:

      People are sinful and in need of salvation?
      Those who accept your God’s salvation go to heaven and those who don’t go to hell?

      If the answers are yes, then I resolutely oppose your religion.
      If the answer is no, then we wouldn’t be having this discussion, yes?

      Reply
    2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      I write from the perspective of an expert on Evangelicalism. That’s the religion I’m most familiar with, and since it is the dominant religious belief in America, I devote my time and effort into helping those harmed by fundamentalist religion. Many of the people who read my writing are people of faith. I respect them and I have no desire to rob them of that which gives them meaning and peace.

      Reply
    3. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      I find it interesting, by the way, that you make an appeal to subjectivity, all the while framing it with objective statements like Christianity, Jesus, His Word, and truth.

      Surely you think that religious belief, at some point or the other, is rooted in objective truth/facts/beliefs?

      Reply
  8. Carmen

    Mornin’ Bruce!

    I’m in complete agreement with another ami – I’m of the belief that you have always been one of the good guys, you’ve just shifted your focus to wine, woman, and song. 🙂 I’m quite happy that has occurred, as it has meant that our paths have crossed. * she clinks her glass with his *

    I see you survived another function with the grandkids – aren’t they something?? 😉

    xx

    Reply
  9. Troy

    Here’s a good Heinlein quote:

    “History does not record anywhere at any time a religion that has any rational basis. Religion is a crutch for people not strong enough to stand up to the unknown without help. But, like dandruff, most people do have a religion and spend time and money on it and seem to derive considerable pleasure from fiddling with it.”

    ― Robert A. Heinlein

    Considering you only spent 2 years at Bible college and yet made a living at it, married the prettiest girl on campus (who has stuck with you through every phase of lunacy), and successfully reared a family (“Keep your children short on pocket money–but long on hugs.”–another Heinlein quote.
    I’d have to consider you a success. I’ve observed in reading your words that you’ve been honorable and as true as possible to your beliefs no matter what the particular craziness du jour you had at the time.

    Reply
  10. Kittybrat

    I really appreciate this post of yours, Bruce. Of course, we cannot ever go back, ney, you’d not have your Fabulous Polly. I’d not have my elder daughters. Regret of the past dogma does, however, make sense, because of the potential that the current freedom of understanding could have wrought in our lives.

    Finite time has been stolen by religious immersion. Valuable experiences have been denied. The regret is honest, because we have been sorely swindled.

    Reply
  11. Brian

    The Bible is a God-inspired text, inerrant and infallible
    The universe was created in six days and is 6,020 years
    God talks to me
    The story of the supernatural Jesus – all of it
    There is an unseen spiritual dimension inhabited by angels and demons
    There is a shadow government, a cabal that runs the world
    Demons possess people and inanimate objects such as toys
    Satan uses certain styles of music to control the masses
    Mental illness is caused by sin
    Government schools destroy the minds of students

    Yep to all points, even though we were put into public school in the fifties. I am flabbergasted by the fact that my very decent parents from generations of Baptists still had not attained the basic human decency (all that history of belief and God’s help and being preachers and missionaries) to not expose their children to hellfire and brimstone, to blame and shame them, to tell them they were born-bad. All the loving Christians who support me in speaking my speak about this, tell me that this is terrible and that real bonafide Christians would never do such a thing. But I know my parents were truly saved and that they served God. Most Christians have no idea how sorely swindled (brilliant phrasing, Kittybrat!) they are…. They don’t even know how to bond with their own children and take holy lessons in how to harm them.

    Reply

Leave a Comment

You have to agree to the comment policy.