I recently asked readers to submit questions to me they would like me to answer. If you would like to submit a question, please follow the instructions listed here.
Neal asked, Bruce, are you certain Christianity is false?
Neal shared with me his own thoughts about the validity of religion in general, saying that while he believes Christianity is false, he has been unable to “completely dismiss Christianity wholesale.” Neal goes on to say, “I want to be able to do so, but I am not sure what to with this lingering doubt it is remotely possible.”
Evangelicals will seize of Neal’s doubts as a sure sign that the Holy Spirit is still working on him, and that his doubts are God saying, “Neal, trust me. By faith, believe what the Bible says is true.” Some Evangelicals, hoping to capitalize on Neal’s lingering doubts, might try to use Pascal’s Wager to draw him into the fold. What if you are wrong, Neal? Wouldn’t it be better to believe (get saved) and be wrong than to not believe and find out after death that Christianity was indeed true? Evangelicals, via Pascal’s Wager, attempt to use fear of being wrong to motivate someone such as Neal to choose Jesus as his Lord and Savior. Of course, Pascal’s Wager doesn’t work, because if Neal really wants to be certain, he would have to embrace every religion’s gods. If the goal is cover all your bases, then Pascal’s Wager requires seekers to be promiscuous in their belief, worship, and devotion. Christians, of course, want people such as Neal to only consider their God. Perhaps, the real question is why the Christian God, and not any other God?
There is, perhaps, a far different reason for Neal’s niggling doubts, and that would be what I call an Evangelical/Christian/Fundamentalist hangover. Vestiges of past beliefs lie buried in our memories, and it is these memories that cause fear and doubt. Every Evangelical-turned-atheist has had, at one time or the other, the thought, what if I am wrong? What if the Christian God really is the one true God and the Bible is his Word? What if there is a Heaven and a Hell, and where we spend eternity depends of whether we are saved/born-again?
As long as these memories remain in our minds, it is possible for them to make an appearance. These memories are the same as having thoughts about a girl we dated forty years ago or thoughts about traumatic experiences in our past. I find such thoughts amusing. Here I am married, for forty years, yet out of the blue comes thoughts of a girl I dated for five months in 1975. Such is the nature of our minds and memories.
Personally, I have concluded, with great certainty, that the claims of Christianity are false. Three years ago, I wrote a post detailing sixteen reasons why I am not a Christian:
- I no longer think the Bible is a God inspired text
- I no longer think the Bible is an inerrant text
- I no longer think Jesus is God
- I no longer think Jesus was virgin-born
- I no longer think Jesus turned water into wine, walked on water, healed the sick, or raised the dead
- I no longer think Jesus resurrected from the dead
- I no longer think there is a heaven or a hell
- I think the belief that God will torture all non-Christians in hell for all eternity is repugnant, abhorrent, revolting, repulsive, repellent, disgusting, offensive, objectionable, cringeworthy, vile, foul, nasty, loathsome, sickening, nauseating, hateful, detestable, execrable, abominable, monstrous, appalling, insufferable, intolerable, unacceptable, contemptible, unsavory, and unpalatable
- I think the Bible shows a progression of belief from polytheism to monotheism
- I think the Bible teaches multiple plans of salvation
- I think much of the history found in the Bible is fictional
- I think the Bible God is an abhorrent, vile deity, one I would not worship even if I believed it existed
- I think science best explains the natural world
- I no longer think humans are sinners
- I think humanism provides a moral and ethical basis for life
- I see no evidence for the existence of the Christian God; thus I am an atheist
Today, I would add several more reasons to this list Christian:
- There are no non-Biblical contemporary reports of Jesus’ miracles, his resurrection, and the events surrounding his death: the temple veil being rent in twain, dead people coming alive and walking the streets of Jerusalem.
- Christianity no longer makes sense. (See The Michael Mock Rule: It Just Doesn’t Make Sense)
- Suffering, pain, and death experienced by humans and animals alike, are ever-present reminders that either the Christian God doesn’t exist or he is totally indifferent towards his creation.
Years ago, I wrote a post titled The Danger of Being in a Box and Why It Makes Sense When you Are in It. I wrote a sequel to this post titled What I Found When I Left the Box. In these widely-read posts, I talk about Christianity being a box, and as long as someone is in the box everything makes sense. Once outside of the box, however, things look different. Free to roam the wild, wonderful, dangerous streets of intellectual inquiry, I found evidence that suggested to me that Christianity was not what I thought it was; that the Bible was not what Christians claimed it was. Over time, I began to see that I had bought a false bill of goods; that Christianity really was an ancient blood cult. Using critical thinking skills allowed me to dig through the “facts” of Christianity and conclude that Christianity, in totality, was built upon an irrational foundation of faith.
I explain my life this way: When it comes to the God question, I am an agnostic. I am confident that the extant Gods of human creation are false, but it possible that someday a creator God of some sort might make itself known to us. I can confidently reject Christianity, having fully, completely, and thoroughly investigated its claims. While I am relatively certain that there is no God, I can’t say for certain, there is no God. As with all such questions, it’s all about probabilities. Is it possible a God exists who hasn’t made itself known to us? Sure, that’s within the realm of possibility; as is the belief that human existence is some sort of Westwood-like game simulation. However, the probability of the existence of such a God is so low that I do not waste time thinking about such things (outside of writing for this blog). I live my day-to-day life as an atheist. Thoughts of God never enter my mind, and I attempt to daily live my life according to the humanist ideal.
About Bruce Gerencser
Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve 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. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.
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